We’re going really deep on today’s The Matinee January 26th edition. Sure, there are a couple of familiar names, but for the most part today’s mini-playlist features hidden gems and bands just getting started. To kick things off, we begin with the premiere of a brand new duo’s debut single.
Bad Flamingo – “Whiskey Lies” (Tennessee, USA) (debut single and premiere)
RIYL: Adia Victoria, Ali Beletic, Sade
Very little is known about the mysterious duo Bad Flamingo, who at this time prefer to have their music speak for them. And have they made an impressive with their first single, “Whiskey Lies.”
The song is beyond categorization. The best way to describe it is as a sexy, banjo-infused, Americana/R&B track. It is sultry, bellowing with the steamy smoothness of Sade’s most intimate numbers. Yet a dark grittiness permeates the track, where images of a chance meeting in the desolate landscape of the Sonoran Desert flicker in our minds. The interplay between the electric guitar and banjo is tantalizing and give off the effect of this encounter. The vocal delivery, meanwhile, is reminiscent of Ali Beletic, one of music’s most underrated and gifted singer-songwriters.
Exactly who these ladies are will remain a question for now. In the meantime, get on their bandwagon because Bad Flamingo have something extremely special happening.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – “Better Off” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Alec Ounsworth has always been a man who marched to the beat of his own drum (sorry for the cliché). He’s never taken the standard approach to releasing his music or even making it. How many artists, for instance, would share nearly half of the songs from their forthcoming, new album before its release date? Not many. None actually. This demonstrates the confidence that Ounsworth has in Clap Your Heads Say Yeah‘s fifth album, and the early returns indeed are that the LP will be something special.
To date, he’s shared “Fireproof”, “Down (Is Where I Want To Be)”, and “Loose Ends.” Now comes the fourth single, “Better Off”, which is like a gorgeous dream. The driving melody is breathtaking, making us feel like we are either floating in air or mindlessly taking a late-night drive to escape the chaos. Ounsworth’s voice is rich, full, and endearing, yet there is an ounce of vulnerability in it to reflect a man searching for answers and possibly solitude. We’ve all been to this place that Ounsworth shares, but we finally have a song that perfectly describes the sense of awe, apprehension, and euphoria.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s fifth album, The Tourist, arrives February 24th. Needlessly to say, we cannot wait.
Frederick The Younger – “Leaves Are Gone” (Louisville, USA)
RIYL: Weaves, The Seratones, Janis Joplin
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, Frederick The Younger are a band to watch in 2017. The Louisville-based quintet are set for HUGE things this year, specifically the release of their debut album, Human Child, which drops next Friday, February 3rd. To get everyone salivating on what is to come, the band have shared “Leaves Are Gone.”
This song is absolutely awesome. It is a mind-bender of a groovy, retro rocker. Frontwoman Jenni Cochran channels her inner Janis Joplin to give the track its soul and edge. Aaron Craker and Juan Barrera’s guitar work is outstanding, edging on neo-psychedelia without going over the edge of being too spacey and trippy. Meanwhile, the rhythm section of Matt Kohorst on bass and Dave Givan on drums infuses some Detroit-scene funkiness into the track. Not many artists or bands can seamlessly meld together so many influences and sounds, but Frederick The Younger are quickly proving they’re not like everyone else – and that’s a great thing. Get to know them really, really fast. This band is about to break out soon.
The Free Radical – “Orange Glow” (Islington, England)
RIYL: Lake Ruth, The Velvet Underground and Nico, My Bloody Valentine
Another new duo with a limited following is The Free Radical, the project of singer-songwriter Adeola Johnson and producer Loz Cliffe. Why this is the case is beyond our comprehension, especially after hearing their new single, “Orange Glow.” The song is for anyone who grew up listening to The Velvet Underground and Nico or My Bloody Valentine, as the duo have brilliantly merged the sonic landscapes of these two legendary groups.
Johnson’s vocals are chilling yet captivating, echoing Nico or a more hazy version of Chrissy Amphlett. Cliffe’s production and guitar work are terrific, as he re-creates the soft delirium of MBV’s more controlled and scintillating numbers. And the melody on this track is incredibly infectious, and you’ll be whistling the tune well after it has finished and then unexpectedly coming back to it hours later. Now let’s hope this impression will extend to many more people because The Free Radical deserve our undivided attention.
ISADORA – “Let It Burn” (Tel Aviv, Israel)
RIYL: Robyn, early Phantogram, HAIM
We’re in the dog days of winter and the news around the world hasn’t exactly inspired much hope (although the UK Supreme Court’s decision on Brexit was most welcome). Music, though, will also be an outlet for us. So when a song arrives that simultaneously brings a smile to our face while representing how we currently feel, it must be heard. That song is “Let It Burn,” the new single and North American debut from Israeli trio ISADORA.
“Let It Burn” is an electro-pop gem. It is warm, dramatic, and vibrant. The production work is outstanding, as the song slowly builds from a soothing number before reaching its near-euphoric climax. But it is frontwoman Isadora Kaufman’s voice and storytelling that steals the show. Her vocals are soothing yet powerful, and they are absolutely enrapturing. While the song focuses on the end of a relationship, Kaufman hasn’t taken the easy way out and written another heartbreaking song. Instead, she has written a story about a woman moving on and overcoming her past, letting her past burn so that new paths will open for her. This message, too, can be applied to any situation, especially the ones we face today.
In addition to Isadora Kaufman, ISADORA are Dotan Moshanov and Yaron Goren.
Kat Myers & The Buzzards – “Company I Keep” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Susan Tedeschi, Lucinda Williams
While many bands are looking forward to creating new music (note the rise in math-oriented genres), some are looking to the past for inspiration. Let’s be honest, not every venture into the retro has been successful, especially when it comes to old-school rock ‘n roll and blues-rock. Thankfully, a band like Kat Myers & The Buzzards comes around and renews our faith.
Their latest single, “Company I Keep”, is reminiscent of the rock ‘n roll that bellowed on radio stations in the ’70s. The song starts off with a haunting, almost folk-like melody that could have come right out of the Laurel Canyon neighborhood. It then changes gears, as the tempo quickens and continues to build and build until it reaches its chest-swelling crescendo. The guitar work, especially at the end, echoes Derek Trucks while Kat Myers’ booming voice has the memorable tones of Chrissie Hynde (albeit with a slight twang). An added reason to love the track is that the band unabashedly proclaims this “house was made for rock ‘n roll.” If this is the case, we should all pay a visit and relive the great eras of rock music with Kat Myers & The Buzzards.
No Joy – “Califone” (Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Slowdive, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Cocteau Twins
One of the rare bands on this list that you might just know is No Joy. The Montreal-based band, however, is still somewhat of a hidden gem despite touring with Best Coast and receiving high praise from Pitchfork and The Guardian. Maybe when their new EP arrives next month, No Joy will experience another breakthrough, but one that is even more seismic than the first.
The lead single from the record is the stunning “Califone.” This song is shoegaze extraordinaire, echoing the shimmering style of Slowdive and the explosive, interstellar nature of the Cocteau Twins. Wave after wave of crystalline, shoegaze guitars come cascading down while Jasmine White-Glutz’s and Laura Lloyd’s airy vocals weightlessly hover over the wall of sound. With shoegaze this good, all you want to do is swim inside every note and let No Joy’s tide take you a blissful place. It is in No Joy we trust.
Tanika Charles – “Soul Run” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Janelle Monae, Sharon Jones, Lee Fields & The Expressions
Make room in your music library for the next big thing in soul, Motown, and R&B music. Seriously, you’re going to want to create space for Tanika Charles. While the Toronto resident is known for her work with Drake, Charles has adopted an old-school classic approach to these genres. So instead of mirroring the likes of The Weeknd or Kanye West, she’s following in the footsteps of Aretha Franklin, Patti Labelle, Sam Cooke, and Marvin Gaye. Her new single, “Soul Run,” is groovy, soulful brilliance.
While the song is unabashedly retro, there is a modernity to her silky smooth style. Like the late great Sharon Jones and Janelle Monae, Charles’ wordplay is clever, as she slams the door on an ex-lover. The splashes of funk amplify the song’s grooviness and dance-ability not to mention accentuating the grit and power of the protagonist’s decision. Look out Drake, Toronto has a new star about to take over the “6ix’s” music landscape.
The single is from Tanika Charles’ forthcoming self-titled debut album. It arrives April 7th via Record Kicks.
TOMA – “Going Nowhere” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: Future Islands, Temples, Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Taking us back to our youth (which is quite a long time ago) is new band TOMA. Well, they’re not that new, as the four friends have been rocking out for some time but they are “newcomers” to the scene. This week, the Austin-based outfit released their debut single, and it had us exclaiming phrases like, “Holy shit, Batman!” and “Wow, this is like high school!” We say all this positively because “Going Nowhere” is straight out of the ’80s.
This song is outrageously nostalgic with its synth-driven melody; the light, intoxicating vocals; and the surges of crystalline guitars and pulsating rhythms. And like the music we grew up on, “Going Nowhere” momentarily allows us to dream the impossible; but for a brief 204 seconds we are allowed to pretend our fantasies are reality. Blissful, euphoric, and stunning, TOMA have delivered a song we won’t soon forget. What a first impression!
TOMA’s debut album, Aroma, is out March 31st. James Petralli of White Denim produced the record, which bodes well for the foursome of Willy Jay, Waldo Wittenmyer, Jake Hiebert, and Neil Byers.
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