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Words and Music - Freetime Magazine 12/12/01
Words and Music - Freetime Magazine 06/08/05
UZBEKISTAN     Progressor

by Michelle Picardo 6/8/05
Freetime Magazine Vol. 29, No. 1

Area man of all trades, Matthew D. Guarnere recently dropped off his new single, "Roadmap," a rockin' extravaganza of sounds that features a couple of firsts for the singer/songwriter/producer Guarnere, including a bluesy slide guitar solo from noted Rochester player, Steve Grills, and some sexy spoken words (in French, that is) by Jennifer Stockdale. Guarnere sings wth angry passion, "Thanks to you/my back looks like a roadmap/but only you know where we're going," and creates a love song for today!

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UNDERACHIEVER (Slacker Suite) CD Single

Review by OneAfterTwo 6/03
Glory Daze

Rating: 9.5

Rochester rocker Matthew D. Guarnere released this, a two track promo single, late last year, and taking until now (June 2003) to review it, I ashamedly admit that this is too good a secret, kept for way too long.

..."Underachiever", you see, is a ten ton avalanche of quirky rock'n'roll that you simply need to hear! Whereas the song's primary drive very obviously is hard rock (and excellent hard rock at that), Mr. Guarnere also manages to put his characteristic stamp on everything. For lack of a better word, I'm tempted to say that the rest of the bill somehow fits in the "pomp rock" category: Not the misunderstood "drench-in-keyboards-and-harmony-vocal-layers-ad-infinitum" variety, mind you - that's hardly pomp anyway - but by means of a strange, but compelling guitar riff, a very creative song structure, and some rather off-the-wall harmony vocals.

Topping it off is also, as usual, Mr. Guarnere's immensely powerful and classy vocals, with what I've come to expect in way of original, unique lyrics. I don't know about you, but humour and wit aren't standard fare with most melodic and hard rock bands that come within my earshot these days. (See if you can spot how many of them actually use lines like "now get this through your cranial sponge" to great effect? ...Yup, thought so.)

As if to really nail that point made, the second track on this promo single is the highly eccentric "My Voice Now". Originally from Guarnere's 1993 What's Real project, this live rendition of the song is culled from The M.D.G. Trio's Bop Shop (Rochester) gig in December 2001, featuring only M.D.G. and his trumpet maestro friend, Paul Smoker, on this particular number.

...Sounds strange? Yes, it very much is, but Guarnere's powerhouse vocals practically come out of the speakers to rattle you while Mr. Smoker prowls your living room, such is the impact of the song. Almost on the stranger side of Aviary's "Eva's Birthday (released on the 2003 'Ambition' CD), My Voice Now" simply needs to be experienced.

Finally, do yourself a favour and download "Underachiever" directly from Mr. Guarnere's website.

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Review by Geir Aamo 10/28/03
Glory Daze

Rating: 8.5

The internet is changing our relationship to music as it develops, and is only one of many interactive concepts to be involved in this trend. Recorded product now makes its way straight from the artist/band to, where customers can purchase CDs or download the music online. This gives bands and artists an outlet to release music which won't necessarily see the light on major or independent record labels elsewhere, and at best gives us, the listeners, access to material we otherwise wouldn't have gotten to hear.

Rochester, New York based artist Matthew D. Guarnere (M.D.G.) has chosen to use this format for an EP of songs from some of his earlier and by now very hard to get independently released CDs. Having already offered the public an EP of his most popular songs by means of the "M.D.G." CD (What's Real Unlimited, 2001), this release, entitled the "mp3.ep", delves into more of Guarnere's vault material while the man himself continues to work on new songs.

First up on the "mp3.ep" is "What's Your Line?", culled and remixed from 1997's "The Crux" project. Backed by an intricate, but powerful guitar riff and some over the top vocal harmonies, Guarnere delivers a set of characteristically tongue-in-cheek lyrics in fine style, and the result is certainly one of my favourite songs by the man. Track #2, "The Listener Man", is based around an ultra-precise, vocoder-driven riff, and even though gorgeous harmony vocals make an appearance on the song's chorus, the overall impression is a rather manic one.

"I Think It's This City", on the other hand, should soothe the melodic rock fans who hid underneath their beds during the previous, somewhat spooky 2 minutes and 38 seconds. Nothing (thankfully) ever really seems to be generic in M.D.G.'s world of music, but this may be a little closer to your average melodic rock tune than the other two! "Cool to Be Cool", a live souvenir from The M.D.G. Trio's December 2001 Bop Shop appearance in Rochester, is wonderfully left-field, and sees both Guarnere and guitarist Ethan Porter on spectacular form, covering a groovy little tune from the latter's days in his band The Kids.

"A River in Egypt", a guitar-driven, slower song, does not really sort among my favourites from the M.D.G. vaults, but it contrasts "Cool to Be Cool" nicely. An "In Flight Mix" of "A Little Chemistry" from the "M.D.G." CD does not depart drastically from its original incarnation, which is to say it is still a brilliantly simple melodic rock tune, very cleverly dressed up in an impressive arrangement. Concluding this EP is a "Talkabout M.D.G." interview, which offers a thorough and enjoyable insight into all things Matthew D. Guarnere.

All in all an intelligently crafted and impressive EP which should appeal to anyone with an ear for music beyond the average and generic!

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Review by Alexis Berman 8/03
Planeta Rock

(translated from Spanish text)

Genre: Classic Rock

Rating: 70%

With clear influences of Queen, Supertamp and Saga, north American singer, drummer and guitarist, M.D.G. evolved his musical style impressed by these great forerunners of the 90's when he also began his career.

An example of this is in the third title of his new EP "You'll never Have To Grow Old, My Dear (Song For Mercury)," a small tribute to the English band, Queen, but more precisely to Freddie Mercury. With a voice very similar to that of another fanatic of the band, Valensia, M.D.G. deploys finesse and melody everywhere in a song that could well be confused with any of Queen's titles. But this is not the only similarity in this song. M.D.G. also works to perfection the operatic choirs in Queen's best style.

"Chemistry Experiment" is similar to Supertramp, a work by M.D.G. in phenomenal voice.

Only six titles are included in this definitive, very good EP, but soon he will surely present an LP that's even more promising.

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Review by Nigel Camilleri 7/28/03
Dutch Progressive Rock Page

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Though clocking in at over fifty two minutes, M.D.G. is in actual fact an EP because one can only mention four tracks on the album together with two remixes and an interview. Musically, one notices that the influences seem to come from the more melodic side of the progressive rock sphere, namely bands such as Kansas and Journey. In fact, calling the tracks on this EP as purely progressive would not be entirely accurate as they have much more of a melodic hard rock slant mixed with a dose of AOR.

A Little Chemistry has a delightful combination of hard rock and piano sounding like Ben Folds backed by distorted guitars. White Trash Wonder sounds more like commercial American heavy metal of the late eighties when bands like Ratt ruled the roost. Interesting, but definitely dated and not progressive!

You Never Have To Grow Old, My Dear (Song For Mercury) is Guarnere's tribute to the late Freddie Mercury and is one of the highlights of the album with the elaborate use of vocal harmonies which tend to over dominate the rest of the song which is drowned in a sea of organ. The final original tune on this album is Where's Everybody Gone? which is a delicate acoustic piece along the lines of many traditional rock bands who can belt out the best acoustic pieces. Once again, the vocal harmonies would tend towards the Queen influence, as well as to fellow Queen fans and masters of the acoustic rock tune, Extreme. The album comes to a close with two remixes. The first is a remix of A Little Chemistry [Chemistry Experiment] whilst the second comprises excerpts from all the tracks on the EP with some effective instrumentation such as trumpet added in.

Guarnere has produced an effective and impressive EP, especially when one considers that he plays most of the instruments himself apart from handling the vocals which sound like a curious mix between Steve Walsh (Kansas) and the already mentioned Ben Folds. From a progressive rock point of view, this EP would appeal to those who like the more melodic side of prog-rock groups such as Supertramp, Kansas and Todd Rundgren mixed in with the American styled hard rock of early Bon Jovi and Extreme. Whether it would be of appeal to the strict progressive rock fan is something I would be curious to find out!

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Review by Jedd Beaudoin 4/29/03

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Born too late to experience the genius of Todd Rundgren firsthand? Tired of ripoffs such as New Radicals? Don't like Ben Folds all that much? Well, Matthew D. Guarnere could fix all that right here and now. Of course Guarnere is more than a Rundgren sound-alike. He's a talented songwriter, musician and producer. The best moments here are "A Little Chemistry," "Where's Everybody Gone" and "Chemistry Experiment," tracks that are as well-written as they are well-produced.

The one drawback of M.D.G. is the interview that occupies a large portion at the end of the disc. Sure, it's true that major magazines rarely go in-depth with artists like Guarnere, it's pretty to think so, thus making the interview an imagination-stifling experience. (I'd rather enjoy the music for the music instead of getting the low-down immediately after hearing the preceding crafted-from-love songs.) However, that shouldn't stop you from digging into M.D.G. It seems that the possibilities open to him are endless.

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Review by Jochen 1/03
Babyblaue - Seiten Prog Reviews

(translated from German text)

Rating: 7 out of 15

M.D.G. is the debut of the American multi-instrumentalist Matthew D. Guarnere. It's an EP about 25 minutes long with an interview of the same length. Two pieces also appear as remixes.

Maybe I am simply not the right reviewer for something like this, but for me M.D.G. goes too much in the direction of typical American guitar oriented AOR music, with a voice, that to me sometimes comes too close to the border of screeching. That being said, the album has some interesting moments.

The opener "A Little Chemistry" is a very nice, complex piece which suggests a hard version of Supertramp. "White Trash Wonder" is an unimportant melodic rock song. Then with "You'll Never Have to Grow Old, My Dear" things become interesting again: the song is very bombastic, comprised of powerful organ and beautiful guitar solos. This piece is dedicated to Freddie Mercury and actually sounds a little like 70's Queen. In contrast, things cool off with the simple minded acoustic piece "Where's Everybody Gone?"

Finally, there are the two mentioned remixes, of "A Little Chemistry" and "Where's Everybody Gone?" ["M.D.G. Record Remix"] the last one being especially interesting. This piece really profits from broader instrumentation (including trumpet and bombastic organ).

Suggested for friends of more sophisticated melodic rock.

Listening Tip: "A Little Chemistry," "You Never Have To Grow Old My Dear (Song For Mercury)"

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Review by Roberto Guarnieri 1/13/03
Metal Shock
Miller Records

(translated from Italian text)

It would seem easy to produce commercial pop-rock CDs nowadays, yet often these products are too superficial. As the famous saying goes: here today, gone tomorrow. One thing is certain, this does not apply to the musical characteristic of Matthew D. Guarnere (aka M.D.G.), an unknown multi-instrumentalist who has been able to create an extremely interesting product.

One hears the influence of the pop-metal eighties: Bon Jovi in his prime, fragments of Queen, and the ample arrangements of Todd Rundgren's Utopia. Guarnere is a musician to keep one's eye on, as our friend will certainly be able to deliver an authentic work in the future.

One thing's for sure, Matthew in his way is a small genius, a chameleon artist who gives attention to all aspects of an arrangement and does it extremely well. It doesn't matter whether he's singing metal or writing complicated passages, it's all a wonderful sound.

I don't know how many of you will have success in finding this CD, but you better start hunting immediately, you are in for a pleasant surprise.

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Review by Spulit 1/6/03

The North American Matthew Guarnere makes up a band just by himself since it's he who does almost everything in this work. It's not easy to fit this album in whatever progressive slope since few truly progressive elements are part of it. Guarnere claims himself as a rocker and we must start to define this work that way. With influences of bands like Queen and ELO to Duran Duran or Kansas, the music of this multi-instrumentist excels by the diversity. Maybe it is not correct to consider this an album in the full meaning of the word since we can only count four distinct tracks. Two of them [are] overdosed with remix versions at the end of the CD. The first two tracks, "A Little Chemistry" and "White Trash Wonder" are the ones which follow [in the] pop/rock style. Short lasting, these tracks own a major consistency with the presence of keyboards, mainly in "A Little Chemistry" with some typical lines of 80's pop. Yet "White Trash Wonder" is much more aggressive, with strong guitar riffs making up a failed attempt to paste itself into hard rock style. Afterwards comes the best of this work: "You Never Have To Grow Old, My Dear (Song For Mercury)." By the title one can easily foresee that this is a tribute to Freddie Mercury, Guarnere's idol. And it is, in fact, a great homage since this track is very well composed with obvious similarities to Queen, but with a more progressive approach. Guarnere makes a fantastic effort with his voice and most of the time the myth's voice [Mercury] comes to mind. "Where's Everybody Gone?" is a passage through the peaceful clime of a ballad led by acoustic guitar. The melodic line is very sweet and emotive, thus adding some extra points to this work. Then come the remixes. The first, "Chemistry Experiment," is a more psychedelic remix of the first track. The second, "M.D.G. Record Remix," is a remix which comprises some excerpts from all the tracks, thus adding nothing really interesting. At the very end of the CD we can also listen to an interview with Guarnere. This is an EP that reveals some talent in this musician, albeit there's a lot of work ahead to make up an album that would get the desired impact.

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Review by Scott Heller 1/03
Aural Innovations, Issue No. 22

This 6 track EP is a very polished and professional package of retro rock music like it was played by the greats of the 70's like Kansas, ELO, Cheap Trick and Supertramp. The production quality is excellent. Matthew wrote all of the songs & lyrics and plays all the drums & percussion, vocals and some guitar as well. The lead guitar is played by Ethan Porter, Jay Palermo and Mike Gallagher. Mike Ciranni adds acoustic guitar to one track. The vocals are very influenced by Steve Walsh of Kansas. The bio describes Matthew's songwriting skills as unconventional and intriguing. This, I would say, only if you never heard a rock record from the 70's. The opening track, "A Little Chemistry", is a brilliant tribute to Kansas! "White Trash Wonder" is a totally different hard hitting 80's style rocker including that approach to the vocals and [also] the stunt guitar! "You Never Have To Grow Old" is a nice tribute to Freddie Mercury. The keyboards of Robert Scribble lay the foundation for Matthew's emotional vocals. "Where's Everybody Gone" is an acoustic ballad. "Chemistry Experiment" is a remix of the first track, but the rock music has been removed leaving this empty shell of a great song. A bad idea. The last track, "M.D.G. Record Remix" is a remix medley of the other three songs, with some extra programmed drums, edits, scratching and distractions. Another failed experiment in my eyes. I liked the trumpet. [M.D.G.] is best described as a very well produced set of 4 commercial rock songs with a retro rock feel, but a 90's production.

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Review by Kristian Selm 12/17/02
Progressive Newsletter

(translated from German text)

Matthew D. Guarnere has a great voice, and writes some melodic material that has radio potential. I'll be very interested to hear where he goes from here. There is certainly one determining advantage working as a one-man band, you never have to deal with the band splitting up! Since a self-division is not in sight, the EP (with around 25 minutes of music and equally long radio special, which explains the somewhat unusual EP CD-length of about 52 minutes) "M.D.G." the first musical work of the American multi-instrumentalist/songwriter/producer Matthew D. Guarnere, should in no way remain a one-hit wonder. It would really also be a shame because the man from New York whose roots cover the whole spectrum of rock, pop, fusion and progressive, has delivered an overall interesting and many leveled first statement. Somehow his music remains difficult to explain in easy terms.

Because of this, the best description for the secret appeal of his music lies in his competent, diverse voicing. The style, sound and vocal harmonies of the opening song "A Little Chemistry" reminds one of: "I Move" from the New York born Izz. This first title appears as a lightly altered remix in a later track. "White Trash Wonder" put simply just rocks; while "You Never Have to Grow Old My Dear" is presented as a homage to Freddie Mercury with symphonic, cryptic elements and vocal harmonies in Queen style. In the acoustic, emotional ballad "Where's Everybody Gone" Guarnere sings easy with his four octave, relaxed voice. In the final, detailed interview one learns interesting details about the indivisible all around talent.

It hopes to remain that the first official long play will be in the tradition of this EP.

Should Matthew D. Guarnere further build on this symphonic and progressive basis, he will surely offer the subscribers of PNL an interesting alternative.

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Review by Pete Pardo 12/02
Sea Of Tranquility

Score: **** (4 stars)

Matthew D. Guarnere is a multi-instrumentalist and singer from upstate New York, and M.D.G. is a collection of a few short tunes that perfectly show this talented musician at home with many styles. After hearing this CD a few times, I was reminded most often of Todd Rundgren's solo albums from the late 70's or early 80's. "A Little Chemistry" is a quirky little number with big pop hooks and huge progressive rock instrumentation. The keyboard work of Robert Scribble is especially noteworthy here, and Matthew's vocals have that 80's arena rock power that really grabs the listener. Guarnere and Jay Palermo let their guitars do the talking in the Cheap Trick/Utopia inspired anthem "White Trash Wonder", while "You Never Have To Grow Old My Dear" is a majestic tribute to Freddie Mercury, complete with soaring vocals and lush [keyboard] work. I found "Where's Everybody Gone?" to be a nice melodic pop tune, but many may hear too many similarities to Extreme's "More Than Words." The CD also has a few remixes of these songs at the end which are kind of interesting, but I would have rather heard some more tunes.

Matthew D. Guarnere has a great voice, and writes some melodic material that has radio potential. I'll be very interested to hear where he goes from here

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Review by Stephanie Sollow 11/02
"The Musical Box"

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Matthew D. Guarnere's M.D.G. EP is a homage (though not merely) to the artists that have influenced him. You don't need to hear the interesting interview that concludes the CD to guess this, as one can clearly hear echoes of ELO in the first track, "A Little Chemistry," for example, and echoes of other artists throughout the six-track disc. With this first track you can also mention Pyramid period Alan Parsons Project with a dash of Mannheim Steamroller keyboards, as this latter element has that bright, brassy sound. Personally, in Guarnere's vocal delivery, I thought of Spock's Beard. And if you think of that band's more traditional rock n' roll aspects of their sound, then this will also give you an idea. Ethan Porter offers up some Brian May like guitar, though Queen will play a larger role in a later track.

The song takes on a whole different cast in the remix version called "Chemistry Experiment," though the Spock's Beard feeling remains (not a band he mentioned in his catalog of influences, and as most of this material was originally written before the first SB album was released, it's an anachronistic reference). In a way, I hear a bit of latter day Kansas in there, too. In the interview, M.D.G. mentions [jokingly] he thought the song could have been on the Xanadu soundtrack and listening to the last few synth notes on this, I'm inclined to agree. Aside from vocals, M.D.G. also plays drums, percussion, guitar, and programming. He coaxes some great performances from his guests as well, Robert Scribble on piano, synthesizers and keyboards; Porter, Jay J. Palermo, Mike Gallagher and Mike Ciranni on guitars; A.D. Zimmer on bass; and Paul Smoker on trumpet.

"White Trash Wonder" is a funky, full-on, often Aerosmith-esque, rocker taking aim at the folks who wind up on Jerry Springer...It took me a bit of thought, but in a way one might mention Billy Joel's "Big Shot." Lyrically there's some kinship, but it's a bit heavier as rocker than Joel has ever gotten, though "Big Shot" comes close.

If you think that "You Never Have Grow Old My Dear" sounds a lot like Queen... well, it is parenthetically titled "(Song For Mercury)." You can't point to any one Queen song, but keeping in mind pieces like "The Show Must Go On," "Who Wants To Live Forever" and "Bohemian Rhapsody," -- and knowing that Guarnere delivers this with same kind of heart wrenching emotion as only Mercury himself could have done -- will give you some idea. It doesn't venture into the same epic sweep that the mentioned Queen tracks do, but isn't any the less for it. There are some May-like guitar leads, this time from Gallagher, and some expansive organ-like sounds from Scribble. The impact that "The Show..." and "Who Wants..." is apparent here. And, if you recall "More Of That Jazz" from Jazz, where you get a reprise of every song that preceded it, "M.D.G. Record Remix" does the same thing -- though I'm not suggesting Queen were the only ones to do it... If Queen and Mercury weren't given a few nods here, I'd not be making the same comment -- commenting yes, but the reference would be different. This remix also features Smoker on trumpet.

Though I don't recall Guarnere mentioning Meatloaf or Jim Steinman in his interview, there are moments during "Where's Everybody Gone?" that remind me of "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad." It's a mellow, acoustic based piece that, like "Two...," deals with relationships that have ended. Of course, Queen's "39" also comes to mind, especially in the harmonized voices.

The material here is good, and M.D.G. demonstrates he's got a terrific voice. Fortunately, he doesn't resort to mimicry in his material. Any specific references are signposts, not blueprints. And, it's a testament to his recording techniques, as the liner notes clearly state that "no harmonizers were used for voice enhancement..." (M.D.G. does both lead and backing vocals) "...only CAD microphones and infinite patience." It's retro and fresh at the same time ... but way too short. Fortunately, there's a second disc available from M.D.G. at with more material. I quite enjoyed listening to this CD.

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Review by Dmitry M. Epstein 10/30/02
DME Music

Rating: ****4/5

With a last name like this, the music couldn't be bad, could it?

To find where Matthew Guarnere's heart lies, draw a line between "A Little Chemistry" and "You Never Have To Grow Old, My Dear", the first carved in a Steve Hackett template and the second dedicated to Freddie Mercury. The denominator? A progressive harmony in the vocal and guitar department (although M.D.G. prefers to leave solos to his friends and layer the voice bricks himself). Sometimes it looks quite rustic and heavy, as in "White Trash Wonder", yet [he's] always grappling for the said QUEEN approximation to be as convincing with pure emotion and no direct stylization in tow - no trickery too. No harmonizers, just overdubs wrapped in the acoustic lace of "Where's Everybody Gone?" Vocals come crystal clear, y'know, like the violin that the other Guarnere produced.

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Review by Mark T. 10/10/02


M.D.G.'s debut CD is self-produced and the first disc to be issued on the artist's own label, What's Real Unlimited records (WRCD 1132). M.D.G. is an EP formatted disc featuring four songs, two eclectic remixes and a bonus interview with Guarnere written. It is available at the artists web site and other locations identified on his site.


M.D.G. (Matthew D. Guarnere) is a one-man band from Rochester, NY (where I live), and it's great to hear a local artist producing quality music like this!

What immediately stands out to me upon listening to his music is M.D.G.'s expressive voice, which is very well-suited to his blend of prog/classic-rock. Playing all of the instruments on the tracks (with some guitar solos and keyboard assists), Matthew displays a truly prodigious talent. These songs are so nicely-arranged and mixed, you can't help but enjoy what you're listening to.

The first track, "A Little Chemistry" features tasteful piano, combined with a great vocal performance, and Brian May-inspired guitars. The Queen reference is common in Matthew's music, as he expresses his affection for the band, and for Freddie Mercury's vocals. In fact, he dedicates a song to Mercury in the third track "You Never Have to Grow Old, My Dear (Song for Mercury)" which may be the highlight of this EP.

I also enjoyed the variety of styles found here. The gritty rocker "White Trash Wonder" is nicely contrasted with the acoustic simplicity of "Where's Everybody Gone."

If you're open to music which is not pure prog, but is a tasteful blend of styles with some proggy elements, you owe it to yourself to check out this fine EP from M.D.G. I look forward to hear what he has in store for us next!

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Review by Eef Vink 10/02 Online Music Magazine

On his very own What's Real Unlimited label, Matthew D. Guarnere offers you this amazing mini-album. It happens more - though not very - often, that yours truly is instantly blown away by this level of quality of recording, songwriting and performance, but Matthew does the trick.

So I am very sad that this is only a mini-album. There's really only four songs here, but the CD is filled out with 2 fairly enjoyable remixes and an interview. I don't usually do this, but since this is a mini album anyway, here's a track by track for you.

"A Little Chemistry" is a song that reminds me a little of the more interesting Toto work. Funny thing, 'cause in the press kit that Matthew sent me, he included "M.D.G's handy list of musical influences" which includes names such as Queen, Kansas, Van Halen, The Who, Peter Gabriel and on and on the list goes, but.. *no* Toto mentioned :)

"White Thrash Wonder" is a song with a vocal melody that somehow reminds me of "Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich" era Warrant. (Warrant not included on MDG's list either!!!) It's the heaviest song of the four, and instantly likable. Much like "A Little Chemistry" is.

Third on the list is "You Never Have To Grow Old My Dear", a song dedicated to Freddie Mercury. Here the influences are obvious. The song is definitely Queen-inspired and thus, truly a tribute. On this song Matthew shows his vocal capabilities. He has a soaring range, and loses no power whatsoever in the higher regions.

The fourth song, "Where's Everybody Gone" is an acoustic song, with beautiful harmony vocals. Another great vocal performance, with harmonies reminiscent of The Eagles or Venice.

The two remixes are actually quite cool, but having heard these four tunes, I have only one wish: a full album by this wonderful artist. And Matthew D. Guarnere is - truly - an artist.

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Review by Geir Aamo 10/1/02
Heart Of The Rock

Rating: 9.0

M.D.G. (a.k.a. Matthew D. Guarnere) and his music offers the kind of dilemma which usually has a rock reviewer reaching for comparisons en masse. Take, for instance, EP opener "A Little Chemistry," in essence a beautifully simple piano ballad, but Mr. Guarnere's ambitious and sophisticated arrangement and performance style combines gorgeous lead and back-up vocals, swirly flanging and tasty guitar leads to great effect. This is just where I'm supposed to liken the sound of this to that of a vintage British rock group or a Dutch piano eccentric, however, this sounds different. And different 'good' ... as in not a rip-off. "White Trash Wonder," on the other hand, is modern enough to scare quite a few traditionalist AOR and melodic rock fans, if they are not brave enough to make it to the rather catchy chorus or get a kick out of the powerful lyrics, belted out over driving power guitar chords.

Track three, "You Never Have to Grow Old, My Dear" is a heartfelt tribute to Queen's Freddie Mercury which updates rather than imitates some of the British band's trademark sounds. Guarnere's lead vocals are also wonderfully intense here, and the song builds to a great climax without ever getting overtly dramatic or syrupy - simply brilliant! The final regular track, "Where's Everybody Gone?" sheds the bombast and proves that M.D.G. is equally at home singing over simple acoustic guitar lines - eloquent and haunting.

Bonus tracks on this EP is an interview which gives a comprehensive look into all things M.D.G., plus "Chemistry Experiment" and "M.D.G. Record Remix." The two latter mentioned tracks are cleverly edited and combined elements from the four regular songs, and offer insights into M.D.G.'s arrangement and songwriting style. "M.D.G. Record Remix" ventures the furthest from the original tunes, adding the versatile trumpet playing of Mr. Paul Smoker.

The M.D.G. EP comes thoroughly recommended to anyone with an ear for good melody and intelligent, well produced rock music.

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Review by Vitaly Menshikov 9/24/02

Rating: ****1/2 (four-and-a-half out of 6 stars)


This is my first acquaintance with the music of Matthew D. Guarnere. According to the CD press kit, he started a musical career in the first half of the 1980's.

The Album

Five out of the six songs that are presented on M.D.G. (the only exception being "Where's Everybody Gone?" track 4, to which I'll return to a bit later) were created within the framework of unified stylistics. This is a very effective blend of classic art rock and progressive hard rock of a theatrically dramatic character though it has nothing to do with the music of Genesis and the like. [I think] rather, Queen could've had a similar sound had they been a truly progressive band with a different lead singer. [The M.D.G. CD features] the parts of a wonderful choir which episodically appear on all of the songs (all of which consist of Matthew's own overdubbed vocals) [and it] reminds me of Queen quite clearly. Fortunately, all of the other vocal parts on the album and especially those of lead vocal, are original and sometimes unique and innovative. The instrumental arrangements are not only original, but also very diverse throughout the album. With the exception of the aforementioned "Where's Everybody Gone?," each of the songs on this album include a wide variety of short, yet always different vocal and instrumental parts that seem to change each other more frequently than a kaleidoscope. The frequent changes also concern tempos, moods, etc. The arrangements that are present on all three of the album's long tracks: "Song For Mercury, Chemistry Experiment," and "M.D.G. Record Remix" (3, 5, & 6) are on more of a large scale and are richer sounding than those on "A Little Chemistry" and "White Trash Wonder." While all five of the songs that I've just mentioned are a theatrically dramatic fusion of symphonic art rock and progressive hard rock, "Where's Everybody Gone?" is nothing but an excellent acoustic ballad. The diverse rhythms, passages, and even solos of acoustic guitar [along with] very inventive vocals are what this song is all about. It must be said that Matthew's vocal acrobatics are incredibly diverse and amazing throughout the album, and his singing can easily be regarded as another soloing instrument. Sometimes his voice is quite rough, though, more often than not, he sings like a real operatic vocalist. Note that Matthew is originally a drummer, and his drumming on this album is also remarkable. Apart from the very impressive episodes that I've mentioned above, all five of the remaining songs contain such essential progressive features that contrast the interplay between various soloing instruments and complex stop-to-start movements. The vocals, virtuosi solos of lead guitar, tasteful riffs of electric and bass guitars, lush and clearly symphonic passages of synthesizer, and the parts of drums, as well as varied interplay between all of these instruments, are featured on each of the said five songs. The passages of piano play an important role in the arrangement of "A Little Chemistry, Chemistry Experiment," and "M.D.G. Record Remix" (tracks 1, 5, & 6). The first two of these songs are also marked with bright and masterful solos of synthesizer. The magic sounds of church organ with brilliant solos and passages of Hammond organ are present on "Song For Mercury" (track 3, which I find to be the best song on the album), and also "M.D.G. Record Remix" (track 6). ["Mercury"] also contains the lush passages of a virtual string ensemble and ["Remix"] contains wonderful solos of trumpet. Finally, "M.D.G. Record Remix" is not only the longest track, but also the only one apart from the classic acoustic ballad that features the solos of acoustic guitar. Matthew's [in-depth] interview (track 7) is notable for the inclusion of its excellent instrumental passages between answers and questions.


Strangely enough, I hadn't before heard of such a talented composer and musician as Matthew D. Guarnere, whose musical career [has existed] so long. I would not be surprised to know that before creating his own label, What's Real Unlimited, he had [some kind of] contract with a major label...if Matthew would destroy at least the most intricate arrangements in his music, his chances to get to the status of a mainstream artist would be higher than zero. Furthermore, if he would refuse to use any progressive elements in his music (as in the case of Queen at the beginning of the 1980's) I would be almost sure that his popularity would grow by leaps and bounds. Of course, it's quite another matter if Matthew's purposes are different from my profuse talk which always holds a dream of the reincarnation of Progressive Rock within the marvelously broad framework of the mainstream.

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Review by ffroyd 9/20/02
Progressive Ears

Matthew D. Guarnere is a one-man band from Rochester, N.Y. Now before you go saying, "OK, another artist that could be really good if he used a real drummer," Matthew's main instrument is the drums. And he's a really decent drummer, too. So there!

M.D.G. is Matt's solo debut and it's quite an interesting, although sadly short, first effort. I'd classify the music as intelligent and well-produced pop rock. The press kit that he sent with the CD contains a nice handy list of influential artists. From the list, I'd say the ones that are most noticeable in his music are Queen, Journey and The Sweet. Picture a combination of these artists and add a little modern technology and you'll have an idea of what M.D.G. is all about. Although most of the instruments are played by Mr. Guarnere, he does employ the help of a few stunt guitarists (Ethan Porter, Jay J. Palermo and Mike Gallagher) to handle the solos and there's also an additional keyboardist (Robert Scribble) on a couple tunes.

The music on the CD is refreshingly upbeat. It's quite poppy but very well executed. One of my favorite songs on the album is "You Never Have To Grow Old, My Dear" which is a tribute to Freddie Mercury. Matthew's voice is very nice on this one and at times his emulation of the late Queen crooner is quite uncanny. It's obvious that he has a copy of A Night At The Opera in his personal music collection. Throughout the disc there are parts in the music that sound quite familiar but most of the time he's not trying to copy anyone at all. The style he's going for may be a little dated by today's standards but it's very nice to hear a revival of this sound.

Towards the end of the CD, there's a remix of the first song, "A Little Chemistry", that he calls "Chemistry Experiment". Also, there is a very cool remix medley of all the tunes on the album that features some wonderful trumpet playing by Paul Smoker. The album ends with this original interview thing that has little musical excerpts between the questions. It's a pretty nice touch but does tend to ramble on a little.

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Excerpt from review by Carlos Vaz Ferreira 9/17/02
Progressive Rock & Progressive Metal

...Matthew D. Guarnere and his musical scope can only be described as an extraordinary one man band. Strongly influenced by many old artists and bands, something in this musician reminds me of Yes, Genesis, Queen, Rush, Saga, Alice Cooper and many other influences. M.D.G. created a special musical signature in this production only found in music of the 70's. The M.D.G. CD contains interesting tracks. Two of them have a tasteful, perfect balance that can only be described as stirring Progressive Hard Rock masterpieces. The vocals are sometimes highly melodic, sometimes harder. All songs and remixes were produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Matthew D. Guarnere at What's Real Unlimited. With a playing time of almost 30 minutes, the album is not particularly long, but next we get to wait for a full length CD. My special attention goes to the songs "White Trash Wonder" and "You Never Have To Grow Old My Dear (Song For Mercury)." [The latter] is an authentic and emotional tribute to the late Queen lead vocalist, Freddie Mercury, that features a stunning vocal performance by M.D.G. "Grow Old" was painstakingly crafted over several months and serves as an honorable memorial to the bombastic music of Mercury & Queen. Excellent and indispensable work, highly recommendable...

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Review by Bjornar Bevolden 8/16/02
ProgPower Online

Style: Symph-Pomp-Prog Rock
Similar bands: Robbie Valentine/Queen

M.D.G. is the project of multi talented Matthew D. Guarnere. M.D.G. is as [his] website describes, a virtual one-man-band. Matthew wrote the music, plays, sings and produces this CD. He has been heavily involved in the music scene since the age of 16 and has over the years, played on and produced albums by other local and international artists. This CD is released on his own independent label, What's Real Unlimited, which has functioned as a recording service and independent record company since 1991.

The music of M.D.G. is an interesting fusion of symph, pomp and prog rock. Among his influences he ranks Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Saga, Rush, Queen, Kansas, King Crimson, Cheap Trick, Journey, etc. to name a few. You can draw references to most of these bands, although the Queen influence is by far the most evident one. The music and orchestration reminds me at times very much of Queen and [Robbie] Valentine. As well as being a multi-instrumentalist, Matthew has a strong voice and a wide range. And he uses the whole register very convincingly and compelling. The intriguing vocal harmonies are true ear candy.

The instrumentation by Matthew himself and a few additional musicians is top notch and certainly impresses with the closely worked through orchestration. Although being quite accessible it does take a few spins to find and appreciate the melody lines. There are so many elements and variation that each time you hear a song you discover something new. Although there are 7 tracks on this CD, one is an interesting interview with Matthew himself and one is a remix of all tracks offered. That leaves 5 original songs that can be labeled very good-to-great in quality. Even the remix is quite cool in its own way. Make no mistake; there are no fillers in sight.

The production is strong and balanced. Every instrument is present and with the vocals up front in the mix. It is so much fun to hear an independent artist play with musical genres and succeed to this extent. And when the production is this good, I am full of praise.

Matthew D. Guarnere stands forth as one of the most original artists I have heard in awhile. It is hard to believe this guy is not yet signed. If there is any justice, he will be soon. When you hear material this good and there are only 5 songs, it leaves you begging for more. And with that fact in mind, it is fair to say this album is a success.

Rating: 9 of 12 points

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Review by Peter Thelen 8/02
Exposé, Issue No. 25

Guarnere is a singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist operating in areas between progressive and classic rock. Playing most of the instruments himself, he brings in other players on bass, lead guitar and keyboards as required to get the job done, and in doing so has produced a first rate collection of rock songs with catchy rhythms and melodic hooks. The disc contains six tracks of music (26 minutes - 4 songs and 2 remixes), plus a seventh track that is essentially a 26 minute interview. Obvious influences would include Todd Rundgren, 10cc, Queen and Cheap Trick, operating in that same polished 70's power-prog mode that connects a strong hook and a degree of complexity to the power chords, bombast, and front-and-center vocals that trademarked some of the best radio rock of that decade. The last half of the disc, however, is that lengthy interview that frankly gets a bit boring after the second play through. Why do artists do this? I suppose that one could program it out...At any rate, Guarnere could be comparable to Spock's Beard and other modern proponents of the retro-sound, creating a synthesis of vaguely recognizable styles without doing any direct quotes or rips. And likewise, fans of Spock's Beard should find plenty here of interest. But where's the full length album?

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Review by Scott Mosher 7/27/02
Prog 4 You

Aside from the mundane CD title that is marginally better than using a roman numeral, or a Christmas-related title (?!?), Matthew Guarnere has a lot going for himself on this release. He composed, arranged and performed all the tracks herein (minus some additional musicians on various songs, mentioned below), as well as recorded, mixed and produced the darn thing! I won't mention that he also functions as the art director and designer as well (but, those failings can be discussed another time, of course) and he may have even done his own hair (lol).

First impressions: Good production, nice vocal lines and melodies, an even mix (everything seems to be at just the right volume), tasteful guitar playing, strong song composition. I must commend Matthew on a refined sense of melody and dynamics. There is also a slight theatrical element present amidst some of the songs here, and the drama fits well within the acoustic songs as well as the heavier, vocal-driven pieces. I wouldn't, for the most part, consider this progressive or metal by any stretch of the musical imagination, but as far as the importance of song arranging and composition, Matthew is definitely showcasing himself as a wonderfully talented musician.

I can say this, for sure: the vocal-driven point of origin Matthew is taking is not far removed from Kings-X or the Beatles. I know people like (some even LOVE) comparisons to established musicians to get a better idea of what we are listening too, so this is what I'm hearing shades of: Queen, Saigon Kick, a little Kings-X, the Beatles, perhaps even Night Ranger (after all, Guarnere has something of a Kelly Keagy tone) or Nelson. If this makes your life a little easier, great... it didn't make mine any easier, especially considering I had to type as well as think (no, they are not mutually exclusive).

Rounding things up, I don't know whether this is an actual full-length CD or an EP. Technically, here are 6 songs but... then there is track 7, which is actually a fairly in-depth and lengthy interview with Matthew giving us some insights into the man, his music and his influences. Good stuff. But I would've actually liked another 4-5 songs instead!

Song highlights: "A Little Chemistry," "You Never Have to Grow Old," "Chemistry Experiment"
Rating: 7/10

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Review by Robbie Evans 8/02
Powerplay Magazine, Issue No. 37

If you have been to the website and checked out my writer's profile, you will know that Queen's A Night At The Opera is my all time favourite album. In my eyes, It captured a time in the seventies when Queen could do no wrong . It was a defining moment in the history of rock for sure. Our next artist, Matthew D. Guarnere is trying to bring back some of that pomp and elegance that was often found in Queen's early works. He has created a real labour of love on this four track EP entitled M.D.G. Besides Queen, another influence would have to be Fee Waybill and the Tubes as is demonstrated on "White Trash Wonder." This is a wonderful combination of Queen ("White Man") and the Tubes with Matthew really sounding very much like Fee Waybill. "A Little Chemistry" is very old school pomp with loads of Queen references. However, for me the standout song is the pure Queen homage of "You Never Have To Grow Old My Dear (Song For Mercury)." This takes me back to the heady days of Queen II, Sheer Heart Attack and Night At The Opera. It really is a wonderful moment with elements of the "Prophet Song" and [lead guitarist Mike Gallagher has] that Brian May guitar sound down to a tee. There's only one way to follow an epic like that and that's with a gentle acoustic workout called "Where's Everybody Gone?" Matthew should be very proud of this EP as it is a work of true beauty and style.

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Review by Kevin Julie 6/28/02
Universal Wheels

[Matthew D. Guarnere is a] Rochester, NY native musician who is a multi-instrumentalist/songwriter, and strong singer. M.D.G. (as he is called) takes on influences of classic, hard and progressive rock from the opening Kansas like "A Little Chemistry" to the outstanding rocker "White Trash Wonder" with it's thick guitar sound and attitude delivered in the lyrics and vocal. The ballad, "You Never Have To Grow Old My Dear" is another standout, written and dedicated to one of his musical heroes ? Freddie Mercury, based largely on organ, with a nice guitar break. M.D.G. offers a good mix of tunes here with an acoustic ballad, "Where's Everybody Gone?" and the progressive "Chemistry Experiment." [The CD] ends with a reprise, and features a lengthy interview with the guy, who sounds like he has good taste in classic rock! :-) A very appealing disc for the likes of fans of Kansas, Queen, Extreme, Deep Purple, Saga.....

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review by Gabor Kleinbloesem 6/5/02
Strutter 'Zine Magazine

Multi-instrumentalist MATTHEW D. GUARNERE did almost everything on his debut CD "M.D.G." The album has a crystal clear production and the man has a lot of talent. That is shown in the 4 included tracks (not counting a dance remix, an experimental remix and an interview). It's a pity there are not that many tracks on the CD, because then it could have received a much higher rating. You can clearly hear that Matthew's music is at a high level. It all reminds me a lot of ROBBY VALENTINE, so fans of such sympho/pomp rock need to check out Matthew's CD a.s.a.p. Opener "A Little Chemistry" is clearly one of the highlights. This first track is a great symphonic pomp/AOR song with some very good melodic lead and harmony vocals that remind me of late STYX and AVIARY. This is a fantastic song, but the only pity is the short playing length (barely 2 and a half minutes!). Anyway, another good song is the powerful ballad "You Never Have To Grow Old, My Dear" (song for Mercury), an emotional tribute to QUEEN and FREDDIE MERCURY a la ROBBY VALENTINE. The other two songs are the average 70's hard rocker "White Trash Wonder" (a la TED NUGENT) and the acoustic ballad "Where's Everybody Gone?" (a la STEVE WALSH). This CD could have been much better if Matthew had recorded more songs like opener "A Little Chemistry" because now there are too many fillers.

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by Carsten Baar 5/28/02
Hard Line Magazine

(Translated from German text)

Completely unexpected, I found this CD in my mailbox. I listened to this CD totally unprepared and was really positively surprised. Matthew D. Guarnere, or "M.D.G." for short, comes from New York and bills himself as a One-Man-Band because he plays almost all the instruments. M.D.G. works in musically diverse styles though the sound always stays rocklike and melodic. With its four songs along with 2 remixes, this CD presents a mix of Styx, Kansas, Extreme, The Beatles and Queen, whereby Matthew, from the last mentioned band, readily dedicates the song "You Never Have To Grow Old, My Dear." to singer Freddie Mercury. The various arrangements are carefully pieced together with the result being sometimes rocklike, sometimes pompous, which also gives this CD a certain excitement. "M.D.G." is surprisingly positive and he elevates himself from the mainstream "music mass pudding." This disc really presents an enhancement for every CD collection. By the way, at the end of the CD one also finds an interview in which Matthew talks about his ideas.

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Review by Carsten Nielsen 5/02
Rockheads Records


Now here is a man who is not afraid to mix AOR together with a lot of his own influences. Only having something like 5 original songs on the CD and two re-mixes, it rather ignores the line of what an album is supposed to be. The last track on the CD is an interview that M.D.G. did with a local radio station and it does cover a lot of territories in half an hour. This interview gets really in depth with the man behind the music. A real gem on this release is the opening track "A Little Chemistry" which just spells AOR big time across it. Great song.

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Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom 4/2/02

9 out of 10

M.D.G. What the heck is M.D.G.? The answer here would be... too freakin' good to be independent! Indeed, Matthew D. Guarnere is a virtual one-man band, a singer, songwriter, musician. And not to mention producer from Rochester, N.Y. who runs his own studio/label and is responsible for producing a bunch of other N.Y. bands.

His songwriting and producing skills are indeed unconventional and intriguing. You will be able to find a lovely mixture of influences from bands such as: ELO, Kansas, Queen, Saga, Todd Rundgren, Alan Parsons Project, Allan Holdsworth, King Crimson, Beatles etc. etc. In other words... it's Rock/Pop/Fusion/Prog or whatever you like to call it. It's M.D.G., it's darn catchy and unfortunately... it's only an EP with four songs and two eclectic remixes [and a bonus interview].

Still, we're talking about a genius at work here and it's a pleasure to salute him with a high rating here at AOR-Europe. Opener "A Little Chemistry" is a marvelous Rock/Symphonic/Prog tune with keys ala Supertramp, Kansas, Yes etc. Darn catchy with the sound of ELO in the back of my mind, all along. Next track "White Trash Wonder" is completely different, but yet another winner. This is very much in the style of early King's X, you could say it's a better version of their "Black Flag" tune, with crunchy guitars and a really cool groove. I guess you could also find some 'Extreme' rock here. "You Never Have To Grow Old, My Dear (Song For Mercury)" is a tribute to Freddie Mercury (Queen). A mid-tempo ballad with a sentimental touch and tons of keys. Very much in the style of Queen-esque rock operas with killer, vocal harmonies. Last track "Where's Everybody Gone" is a great ballad with only Guarnere's voice and the acoustic guitar of Mike Ciranni. Let's not forget to mention that Guarnere has this soaring four-octave voice that simply blows your mind. I even enjoy the remix of "A Little Chemistry" ["Chemistry Experiment"].

Enough with the raving though, check out his work at and judge for yourself.

You can also buy his CD/EP at And believe me, both the production and material rock!! Heck, I love this stuff!!! Now, all we need is a full length CD!!!

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by Michelle Picardo 12/12/01
Freetime Magazine

A guy who certainly does it all, Matthew D. Guarnere (a.k.a. M.D.G.), is not only a producer of local and national artists and runs his own recording service/record label, What's Real Unlimited, but is also a singer/songwriter who recently released his own EP of material [entitled M.D.G.]. Guarnere shines on this recording which leans heavy on prog-rock, with influences like Kansas, Yes and Todd Rundgren coming to the forefront. With an impassioned voice, thought-provoking lyrics and an expansive sound, Guarnere certainly impresses in every area of his music. Catch a glimpse of M.D.G. when he performs at the Bop Shop Atrium on Thursday, December 20th (8 p.m.), joined by instrumental trio, Liqwid.

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