The Matinee February 9th takes a global tour, featuring nine songs that will have you moving, shouting, and indulging in your favorite memories. Let’s get to the songs.
ASHA – “Drowning” (Central Coast, Australia)
RIYL: BANKS, Woodes, Aurora
While listening to the great Triple J station while driving across Tasmania, a voice bellowed out from the speakers. A voice which would stick in my head for hours, and one that belongs to ASHA. But in addition to her stunning vocals, the 18-year native of Central Coast, Australia writes music that is well beyond her age.
Take for instance, “Drowning,” a dark, hypnotic number that is subtle in its arrangements to allow ASHA’s vocals to shine. Lyrically, this isn’t just another love song. Instead, this is about the pain of losing someone and how their memory remains forever etched in your mind. And after hearing this song, the name ASHA may have the same impact. It certainly did for me.
Candy Cigarettes – “Stockholm” (Portland, USA)
RIYL: Car Seat Headrest, Clem Snide, Mac DeMarco
For the past year, we’ve been impressed with Lane Mueller’s project, Candy Cigarettes. There is warmth in his music that provides the perfect palette to his often quirky lyrics. As such, as you get lulled into the intimate melody, there are times where you find yourself chuckling at something he has said. And his new song, “Stockholm,” is everything we have come to appreciate about Mueller.
This love song is dedicated to the great, historic capital of Sweden, as Mueller shares memories of his apartment that he shared with a spider and where dishes piled up in the sink. His voice is distant, as it is shrouded in the times of the past. The music is embracing and stunning, rising to a nearly breathtaking crescendo. And as he sings, “Girl I’m going to miss you”, you become lost in your memory of a place or even a person you left behind.
Check out Mueller’s other songs on SoundCloud, and especially if you want to put a smile on your face.
COLD BEAT – “62 Moons” (San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Alvvays, Teeth & Tongue, Fazerdaze
In 2015, Hannah Lew – a.k.a. COLD BEATS – released a stunning and intoxicating album, Into The Air. The LP was fascinating for Lew’s ability to turn simplicity into something fascinating and awe-inspiring, and it made us huge fans. But since the record’s release, she has been relatively quiet. That was until yesterday.
The big news was that Lew will be releasing a new album in two months, and she shared the lead single, “62 Moons.” Like everything she has touched to date, this song is stunning and embracing. The jangly, crystalline notes from the electric guitar, the stuttering, ’80s-esque, synth beats, and the heart-pounding bass line create a chest-swelling soundscape. Suddenly, one feels like she is floating in air, as Lew’s distant voice guides her effortlessly through time and space.
COLD BEATS’ new album, Chaos By Invitation, will be released on April 7th via her own Crime on the Moon label. If this song and Lew’s past work are any indication, it should be one to remember.
RIYL: Purity Ring, early Phantogram, M83
Who said all electronic-based songs are created equal? Like any genre, there are numerous producers and artists replicating the formulae that have made the likes of M83, Calvin Harris, etc. immensely popular. Fortunately for us, London-based Courage has arrived on the scene. He’s not aiming to create huge dancefloor anthems nor dizzying, mind-numbing, over-produced affairs. Instead, he’s creating cinematic and dramatic numbers that are intended to alter our realities for just a moment.
Teaming up with another rising sensation in Lao Ra – the Colombian-born, London-based artist who dazzled us 18 months ago with “Jesus Made Me Bad” – Courage has dropped an immensely hypnotic track, “Wild At Heart.” The production work is dark and spatial in its quality, creating a lush, ethereal atmosphere that forces us to look introspectively. Lao Ra’s vocals, meanwhile, are delicate and soothing, as if she is sitting next to us and whispering into our ear her greatest fears and regrets. Psychological intoxication – that’s the only way to describe “Wild At Heart.”
The Fontaines – “Evaporate” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Warpaint, Blondie, Deee-lite
Over the past eight months, we collectively have taken Los Angeles-based quartet The Fontaines‘ bait and forever have been hooked. The band is a chameleon. Whether it is indie-rock orindie pop, they are creating music that can only be categorized as outstanding. We can now add disco-pop to the genres they are mastering.
Their new single, “Evaporate,” is sensational. It is fun, groovy, and just one big happy moment. Jason DeMayo’s bass line is extraordinarily funky, and Hank Fontaine’s guitar and Scott Zimmerman’s drum work shimmer under the disco ball. Frontwoman Charlotte Fontaine, though, steals the spotlight. Her vocals are intoxicating, and the sass in her voice gives the song an unsuspecting sultriness. And as the song progresses, you’ll do exactly what she says – “evaporate with me”. It’s too late for us because we’ve been under The Fontaines’ spell for a long time.
The Fontaines are comprised of Charlotte Fontaine (vocals), Hank Fontaine (backup vocals/guitar), Jason DeMayo (bass), and Scott Zimmerman (drummer). They’ll be at SXSW next month.
Kane Strang – “Oh So You’re Off I See” (Dunedin, New Zealand)
RIYL: Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, Thurston Moore, Silver Jews
It’s about time! Yesterday, singer-songwriter Kane Strang officially announced his signing to Dead Oceans. The New Zealand artist has long been a favorite among Kiwis for his ’90s-esque, indie-rock approach. Now the rest of the world will get to discover Aotearoa’s hidden gem.
To give people a taste of what they have been missing, Strang released a great new single, “Oh So You’re Off I See.” The lo-fi approach gives the song an unexpected intimacy, as if Strang and his band were playing in your living room. There is, however, an understated anger and disappointment that permeate the song. It is not so much a “fuck you” to someone but rather that someone else telling us to bugger off. For those of us who grew up in the ’90s will recognize the theme and sound. Heck, maybe we should just make it official and say a younger generation has its own Stephen Malkus in Kane Strang.
Melting Faces – “Waste The Day” (Wellington, New Zealand)
RIYL: Chris Isaak performing with The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Most psychedelic tracks are time warps – not just in sound but in their impact, as we feel like we’re being transported into a new dimension. Rarely is the destination the future, which is where Wellington-based band Melting Faces take us on their new single.
“Waste The Day” feels like it is right out of a dystopian society. A world straight out of Phillip K. Dick’s Blade Runner, where a few have absolute authority and the masses are well below mere mortals. There isn’t a buzzsaw moment in this song, but rather it is hallow, cinematic, and enchanting. It’s trippiness is in the illusion created the band – that our reality is merely a false perception and we need to look behind the mirror to find the truth. “Waste The Day” is a brilliant introduction to a band that truly has melted our faces.
Melting Faces are Jesse Betham-Walsh, Blair Clarke, Daniel O’Brien, and Ben Lovell.
New Mystics – “Modern” (Los Angeles via Tulsa, OK, USA)
RIYL: Spiritualized, Jonathan Wilson, mid-career R.E.M.
Some artists get a lot of fanfare when they momentarily step away from their main band to pursue a solo project. Others, though, tend to fly under the radar within the broader music listening community for reasons largely unknown (other than they may not be the band’s front person). Case in point Josh Onstett, the bassist and multi-instrumentalists for indie-rock band Other Lives, who recently revealed his alter-ego, New Mystics.
His second single is “Modern,” which is stupendous. Musically, it is uplifting and euphoric, where all you want to do is run far and wide and scream to anyone nearby that you have found your freedom. Onstett’s songwriting, though, is the star, as he shares a story of both redemption and the fall of the world around us. It is The Adventures of Augie March put to song, but with a contemporary twist. Like Saul Bellow, Onstett is a storytelling genius.
The single is out via TH3RD BRAIN Records. No word on whether Onstett will release more material or an album soon.
Sad Mermaid – “Bathroom Expositions” (Berlin, Germany)
RIYL: La Roux, Laura Branigan, Soffía Björg
Music is not just a form of entertainment; it is an experience. The best songs are those that take us on a journey, whether back to a memory, a place, or even a time with someone special. It could create feelings of joy, sadness, hope, or lost. When a song is able to do all of these things, it is something to behold, which is what the new single by Sad Mermaid is.
“Bathroom Expositions” is an electro-pop gem. It bridges the ’80s, ’90s, and the ’00s into one outstanding track. The production work is subtle, dark, and immersive. Sad Mermaid’s vocals are immensely delicate, sound more like the background that the star. But the approach is intentional in order to have us recall a distant time and place that simultaneously brought us happiness and disappointment. The song in just over three minutes is a magnificent journey through one’s mind. So sit back and get lost inside your memory.
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