I listen to a lot of music. A. LOT. I listen to it in the background while I work, and I preview new music on a near constant basis. There aren't many foolproof ways to gauge quality when listening to new music, but when an artist makes me stop everything to listen, that's big. And that's exactly what happened when I first heard Portland duo Matty Charles & Katie Rose. They popped up on my Facebook feed thanks to my friend Leslie Beia of Portland's The Earnest Lovers. I clicked on Matty and Katie's video and stopped cold. Beautiful, simple, haunting country songwriting, gravelly-grit in the vocals of Matty Charles, a kind of Newport folk-revival lilt in the voice of Katie Rose, and a twinge of sadness that works best in the perennially depressed Northwest: that's their winning combination. Part of the reason I hadn't heard of them before is that they seem to be somewhat new to Portland's underground country scene. Matty hails from Portland, but spent years in New York's burgeoning country and old-time scene, before returning home and meeting Katie by chance at the Landmark Saloon in Portland. The duo is based on Matty's songwriting and he has a truly uncanny ear for writing country hooks, but the harmonies they share together are also a key part of their music. This is the kind of album that can break out and truly surprise even the most jaded music critics.