The Matinee November 22nd offers nine new music singles whose sole aim is to disarm you. There are songs for rockers. Tracks for those who wish to daydream. And there are tunes that will leave you breathless. Once again, the artists come from different parts of the globe, although there is a noticeable English presence.
Cuesta Loeb – “Charlotte Hill” (Los Angeles via New York City, USA)
RIYL: PJ Harvey, Emma Ruth Rundle, Shana Falana
One of our favorite discoveries of 2016 is Cuesta Loeb. Her throwback, gritty alt-rock channels a time when artists created songs that were commentaries of the world. On her previous single, “Dive”, she reminded us of a young Fiona Apple. Her new single, “Charlotte Hill”, echoes two of today’s best artists – PJ Harvey and Emma Ruth Rundle.
Like these singer-songwriters, Loeb has crafted a stunning story. As the gritty, reverb-drenched guitars and pummeling percussion play in the background, Loeb takes on the role of the song’s protagonist and shares her experiences and feelings of being a victim. Her voice has the shimmering quality of Hope Sandoval, which only adds to the song’s chilling nature. “Charlotte Hill” is frighteningly real and brilliant by an artist whose star is rising.
Cut Off Your Hands – “Hate Somebody” (Auckland, New Zealand)
RIYL: Erasure, Talking Heads, Franz Ferdinand
Let’s get it out of the way – Cut Off Your Hands are not a new band, and I have my friend Dan to thank for introducing me to them several years ago. If this is the first time you’re hearing about the Auckland-based quartet, there is good reason. For the past five years, Cut Off Your Hands have poked their collective heads here and there, but not offering anything new since 2011’s Hollow. Before then, they personified the Kiwi musical spirit – a little quirky, a whole lot whimsical, and immensely innovative. They were New Zealand’s equivalent to Future Islands.
Cut Off Your Hands are finally back (and let’s hope this is for good), sharing the new single “Hate Somebody”. The song echoes the alt-pop of the mid-’70s to early-’80s. It is catchy, groovy, and even a bit bizarre. There is no question, however, that the song is brilliant both musically and lyrically. Regarding the latter, the song is about the transformation of a neighbourhood from a middle-class one to a snobby suburb. The track is as much a reflection of the incredible wealth of some people and the astronomical real estate prices in Auckland.
Cut Off Your Hands are Nicholas Johnston, Philip Hadfield, Brent Harris, and Jonathan Lee.
Gutxi Bibang – “System of a Gun” (London, England via Bilbao, Spain)
RIYL: Lenny Kravitz, London Souls, Reign Wolf
Looking for the next rock band that deserves the title as the next big one? If so, turn your ears towards Gutxi Bibang, the London-based trio who is riding a tidal wave of momentum with their new single, “System of a Gun”.
The song echoes Lenny Kravitz in his prime. In other words, the track is a sheer force of sound highlighted by frontman Gutxi Bibang’s searing guitar and soaring vocals. His bandmates, Tabatha Beu on bass and Gary Lee on drums, though, provide the pummeling rhythm section that take the song to that mind-blowing, “F*** yeah!” level. We’re going to have to include Gutxi Bibang on our list of artists to watch in 2017.
The single is out now via French indie label Oskar Recordings.
Henry Green – “Real” (South West of England)
RIYL: Rhye, Cigarettes After Sex, POLIÇA
Last week, Cigarettes After Sex serenaded us with their song, “K.” This week, it is Henry Green‘s turn to mesmerize us with his new single. “Real” is breathtaking. It is sexy, smooth, and dreamy, akin to the steaming intimacy of Rhye. The production work is fantastic, keeping it minimalist to give the song a bedroom intimacy. The dreamy and stunning vocals, meanwhile, will send shivers down your back like a lover blowing gently on the back of your neck. There is nothing more to say than, “Mmmmmm…”
“Real” is the second single and the title track from Green’s forthcoming EP, which arrives February 10th on Akira Records.
Keiandra – “Milk Tooth” (Newcastle, England)
RIYL: early Phantogram, Billie Eilish, Marika Hackman
It has been a while since we last heard from 19-year old Keiandra, who left us wanting with her debut single “Wanted”. In the year since, she released her first EP, Empty Palaces, and quickly after embarked on her transformation.
Full of trippy synths and shallow, reverb-drenched guitar riffs, her new single, “Milk Tooth”, represents the new Keiandra. The dream-pop innocence heard on Empty Palaces is replaced with a grittier, heavier sound. It is not a rocker nor a blazing electro-rock tune, but rather the soundscape is dense, dark, and hypnotic. The song, as such, is more like a psychological thriller, where every element becomes embedded in your mind. And as Keiandra’s stirring vocals share memories that have shaped her, you, too, will be taken to the past and reliving moments you have forgotten. Only the masterful storytellers have this gripping power, which speaks to Keiandra’s immense potential.
Menace Beach – “Give Blood” (Leeds, England)
RIYL: Superchunk, Yuck, Neutral Milk Hotel
There have been numerous great bands coming out of Leeds over the past decade. So when a band is referred to as the city’s preeminent noise-makers, they must be doing something incredible. That group is Menace Beach, and their new single exemplifies why they have earned the title.
“Give Blood” is a riot. It sounds chaotic at first, but the multiple layers and textures add to the song’s delirium. However, the track doesn’t start off that way, but instead it commences with two false starts before Menace Beach kick things into gear. As “Give Blood” progresses, it methodically gets a little bit grungier, harder, and more whimsical. It’s like Ty Segall fronting Neutral Milk Hotel with everyone sucking on Red Bulls for the past hour. With this picture in mind, you’re sucked into a place that you didn’t expect to be when it all started – in this fun, zany place called Menace Beach.
The band is comprised of Ryan Needham, Liza Violet, Nestor, Matt Spalding, Nick Chantler. The single is from their forthcoming, sophomore album, Lemon Memory. The LP will be released on January 20th, 2017 via Memphis Industries.
Michelles – “All Is Forgiven” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: Pond, early Tame Impala, The Dig
With so much uncertainty and negativity in the world today and many songs reflecting this somber attitude, it is refreshing to come across a song that breathes optimism. It is an added bonus that the tune comes from a little band trying to breakthrough, which is what Michelles are striving to achieve. And the song in question is “All Is Forgiven”.
Taking a page out of early Tame Impala (before Kevin Parker experimented with mushrooms), Michelles deliver a vibrant psychedelic-pop song that tickles of the ’70s and ’80s. The track is drenched with the summery vibes of West Coast USA, but a dreaminess lingers thanks to frontman Michael Daly’s warm falsetto. The combination provides the perfect platform for this song about, obviously, forgiveness and moving forward. Despite the dark days that have come, there is hope that a new day will yield better things (although it might be another four years for that to happen). This is just the song we need at just the right.
In addition to Daly, Michelles’ other co-founder is Ryan Farnham. A year ago, they released their self-titled EP, which can be heard on SoundCloud.
MIMRA – “Söngur Valkyrjunnar” (Reykjavík, Iceland & London, England)
RIYL: Agnes Obel, Bats for Lashes, Kate Havnevik
People, including ourselves, have the tendency to compare a new Icelandic artist to either Björk or Sigur Rós. That’s not a bad thing, but it does ignore the creativity being produced by the artists from this small, north Atlantic country. Take for instance multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter María Magnúsdóttir, who goes by the moniker MIMRA.
MIMRA recently released her debut single, “Söngur Valkyrjunnar”, which translates to “Valkyrie Song”. The song is glacial cool, smothering your soul in a decadent wave of synths and Magnúsdóttir’s enchanting vocals. It is also cinematic, starting off softy with its minimalist arrangements and then patiently building to its climax. Close your eyes as you hear the song, and imagine the Valkyrie emerging from the horizon to meet her enemies. So devastatingly beautiful is “Söngur Valkyrjunnar” that it should be used on a future episode of Vikings as Lagertha seeks her revenge.
Patchwork Guilt – “Get to Rest” (Liverpool/Bristol, England)
RIYL: Widowspeak, Belle Mare, Oh Pep!
One of the most powerful things an artist can do is create a song that disarms its listener. There are very few songs that can would fit in this category. This makes Patchwork Guilt‘s new single, “Get to Rest”, a remarkable achievement.
The song is absolutely stunning. The instrumentation is delicate but gorgeous – from the tinges of the electric guitar to the pacing of the percussion to the light touches of the keys. As Mundy’s alluring vocals join the fray, your lungs begin to swell and your heart skipping a beat. Soon, all tension will be released, and your mind will submit to this peaceful, restful place that Patchwork Guilt have created. Like ourselves, you will not wish to be awaken from this dream.
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