The theme of Push Record is simplicity. The title track is meant to reflect how far Matt Andersen and Mike Stevens took this theme, the liner notes say: “The tune arrived in the rehearsal room so we just ‘Pushed Record.’” It’s just two talented musicians, one with a harmonica, and the other alternating between acoustic and hollow-body electric guitar.
Escaping all the technological frills that alter the recorded product in a studio, the artists boast that “All the recording was live off the floor—no headphones, no overdubs, no edits and no processing.”
The album was also, for better, as well as for worse, produced as quickly as artistically possible: written in five days, recorded in one day in Banff, and mixed the next. For better, because it manages to catch some of the sparks that fly when two gifted artists and friends come together, but for worse, because some of the lyrics could have used a bit of polishing. For example, “She doesn’t talk much/ But she’s always on time/ That girl is like a train” (“That Girl is Like a Train”).
The record is the second collaboration between Perth-Andover, New Brunswick’s beloved blues guitarist Andersen and Ontario’s bluegrass harmonica expert Stevens. The songs, all original and alternating regularly between slow and fast, are a mixture of blues and folk, with Andersen and Stevens drawing on their respective backgrounds.
It must have been a nasty winter in Alberta, because snow plows feature in the lyrics of not one, but two of the songs! The first, the opening track, “Snow Plow” is a pretty funky song, with instrumentals that are somewhat more satisfying than the chorus: “I’m a snow plow/ I can’t see in front of my face/ I’m a snow plow/ Gotta knock you outta your place.” The other is “Canadian Winter Blues.” The lyrics are a bit cheesy (“Sittin’ North of the border with these Canadian Winter Blues”), but it does get credit for being, almost certainly, among the first songs to ever attempt to rhyme the name of the North West Territories hamlet Tuktoyaktuk with anything (mukluk).
One of the best songs is “Pawnshop,” certainly the most convincing of the slow songs. The mournful tune then segues nicely into the very upbeat “The Mountain.” But, even though they were going low-tech, they didn’t exactly take it easy. Things got so heated in the studio that you can actually hear Andersen’s amp blowing up at the end of the last song.