The Matinee February 10th has 9 awesome new tracks for your listening pleasure. We hope these songs get your weekend kicked off right. We hope you find your new favorite band or track today. As always don’t forget to check back tomorrow for our Saturday Sampler and then again on Sunday for our Weekend Showcase.
Bells Atlas – “N C A T” (Oakland, CA, USA)
RIYL: Polyphonic Spree, Joy Atlas, The Octopus Project
You know your ears are in for a treat when a band describes their sound as “kaleidoscopic soul punch” and likens it to “Missy Elliott meets Björk.” That certainly applies to Oakland-based soul group Bells Atlas. We’ve been fans of theirs since 2015 when we shared tracks from their Hyperlust LP. Since then, their sound has grown even richer. “N C A T” is their latest gem that has us hitting repeat over and over. Don’t let the ’80s-esque synth intro fool you: this is pure soul of the “outta this world” sonic variety. Lead singer Sandra Lawson-Ndu’s caramel-smooth vocals give this song its irresistible warmth. The rest of the band bring even more seductive charm with their rhythmic grooves. Ease into your weekend with this soul-nourishing number, then head over to their Bandcamp page for their earlier works.
Bells Atlas are: Sandra Lawson-Ndu (lead vocals, percussion), Derek Barber (guitar), Doug Stuart (bass, vocals), and Geneva Harrison (drums).
darkDARK – “Shelter” (Los Angeles/Austin, USA)
RIYL: London Grammar, BROODS, Meadowlark
We have been impressed so far buy the duo of darkDARK (Genevieve Vincent and Chris James). We are digging “Shelter” and it could easily be used on an upcoming episode of Stranger Things with it’s pulsating and foreboding beat that kicks in about halfway through and is layered with awesome 80s inspired synth throughout.
As always we become mesmerized by Ms. Vincent’s ethereal vocals and we can’t seem to get enough. The track is definitely repeat-worthy.
The duo also share a bit about the track: “Shelter’ is about being caught in a loop between trying to hide from a fear or doubt and trying to stand up to it. We imagined it as kind of a twilight, a coma you’re fighting though, as you try to figure out what to do. As you finally near an answer, the loop seems to reset, and the struggle begins again. When building the track, we envisioned a stark space with a dark presence, like a blacklight that you almost can’t see, but you know is there.”
“Restless” is from darkDARK’s debut EP, Heathered. It will be released on February 24.
Dutch Uncles – “Streetlight” (Marple, England)
RIYL: Grizzly Bear, Wild Beasts, Lower Dens
We’ve been fans of Manchester-based Dutch Uncles for a while now. It’s hard not to love a band that operates outside the norm of predictable indie sounds. These guys have been steadily cranking out inventive, infectious albums for nearly a decade. Fortunately, they show no sign of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, the catchiness of their newest single, “Streetlight,” should win them scores of new fans. Back in December we called the title track from their forthcoming fifth LP, Big Balloon, a “whirlwind” of a trip; this song delivers the same euphoric rush. The pulsing synth gives it a retro, New Wave vibe yet it’s still brimming with modern energy.
If you’ve somehow missed the Dutch Uncles bandwagon, now’s the time to get on board. Your ears will thank you.
Dutch Uncles are: Duncan Wallis (lead vocals, keys), Peter Broached (guitar), Robin Richards (bass), and Andy Proudfoot (drums).
Frontier Ruckus – “Positively Freaking” (Detroit, USA)
RIYL: The Low Anthem, Moondoggies, The Oh Hellos!
There’s a certain amount of bittersweetness in Frontier Ruckus songs. It’s subtle, yet it keeps their brand of indie Americana/folk-pop ever so palatable. We’re not saying this because we’re addicted to sea-salt caramels, but similarities aside, their poignant yet hopeful music has us hooked.
On their newest single, “Positively Freaking,” they open up that Pandora’s Box of memories known as childhood for inspiration. Over a jovial arrangement (which includes an orchestra’s worth of instruments!), frontman Matthew Milia reflects on youthful days that echo our own. From watching ’90s sitcoms to dealing with the passing of grandparents, “Positively Freaking” is positively warming in the way it stirs memories. The vocal interplay of Milia with Anna Burch here is sparkling and will have you sighing when it ends.
Their sixth LP, Enter the Kingdom, arrives next Friday from Sitcom Universe / Loose Music. You can pre-order it here.
Frontier Ruckus are: Matthew Milia, Anna Burch, David Jones, and Zachary Nichols.
Gang Of Youths – “What Can I Do If The Fire Goes Out?” (Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: The National, Jinja Safari, Caveman
Down Under, a quintet continues to make huge waves with their music. Their anthemic and infectious pop-rock drew people in, and their live shows became massive parties. Most people, however, overlooked their songwriting, which often reached The National’s level of darkness and broodiness. With their new single, Gang of Youths continue to climb the summit and deliver a song that is, in short, memorable.
“What Can I Do If The Fire Goes Out?” is a five-minute burner that will rip you apart in multiple ways. The song is euphoric and unrelenting in its intensity, causing unsuspecting dancing or jittering. It’s the perfect song for a late-night expedition where you need some solace to clear your head. Yet the song is heartbreaking, as David Le’aupepe shares the struggles of one person who has “been thrown out” and trying to make it through each day. The possible themes are endless: the dissolution of a family, living with mental illness, the oncoming darkness of one’s last day, or the path to redemption. Given Gang of Youths’ complex artistry, it is likely all of the above and then some.
The single is now via Mosy Recordings. Gang of Youths are Max Dunn (bass), Jung Kim (guitar/keyboards), David Le’aupepe (lead vocals/piano), Joji Malani (lead guitar), and Donnie Borzestowski (drums).
Jesse Jo Stark – “Driftwood” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Mazzy Starr, Hope Sandoval, Jenny Lewis
You might recognize the name Jesse Jo Stark, as she has been in the spotlight for most of her life. She started designing her own clothes at the age of 6 and has been involved in music since she was born (her parents are the founders of label Chrome Hearts and Cher is her godmother). Stark has also modeled a bit, which led to a small feature in the Australian edition of Elle magazine in January. Despite her talents, the twentysomething Los Angeles native is still aiming to break through as a solo artist.
For years, Stark dabbled in multiple genres, including pop and punk pop. However, none of them seemed to stick because Stark is first and foremost a fantastic songwriter. With her new single, “Driftwood,” she may have found the right formula. This song is stunning, akin to the breathtaking and spine-tingling soundscapes of Mazzy Starr. Stark’s smooth, angelic-like vocals also bear a striking resemblance to Hope Sandoval, a voice that will leave chills down your back. The story she shares will leave you captivated, wondering with Stark about what was and what could have been. Hopefully, Stark will only look ahead and continue down this path, setting aside the pop and punk-pop masks and focusing on music that allows her voice and songwriting to take center stage.
The Obsessives – “It’s OK If” (Washington, DC, USA)
RIYL: The Pixies, Weezer, Sunny Day Real Estate
A very Pixies-esque riff is the first thing about “It’s OK If” that grabs you. And once it does, this new single from Washington, DC-based duo The Obsessives does not let go. Hold onto your proverbial hat, because Nick Bairatchnyi and Jackson Mansfield will take you on a time-warp back to the ’90s on this tune. There is no denying the song’s alternative roots. These guys channel the energy of Pixies and Weezer and deliver head-bobbing, foot-stomping hooks. That energy sucks you into the layers of guitar and percussion, and before you know it, you’ve listened to it 20 times in a row. It’s just that catchy.
Within the first 30 seconds, you’ll go from thinking “Wow, this is great!” to then uttering an emphatic “Damn!” as the swirling vocals at the bridge leave your head spinning. At just over two minutes long, “It’s OK If” is a short song. However, what it lacks in length it more than makes up for with serious indie alternative authenticity. Hopefully we will see The Obsessives hitting the summer festival circuit soon. Their music needs to be experienced in a live setting where scores of fans are singing along at the top of their lungs.
Shy Nature – “Ten Times Around the Sun” (London, England)
RIYL: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Two Door Cinema Club, The Strokes
There is no shortage of “new” or “emerging” bands to get excited about – the list is awfully lengthy. But near the top would unquestionably be Shy Nature, the London-based trio who first entered the indie spotlight back in 2013. Like so many bands, however, Shy Nature had their share of false starts and moments under the bright lights. They’ll look to permanently establish themselves as indie stalwarts when their debut album arrives at the end of March.
The lead single from the LP is the title track, “Ten Times Around the Sun.” The song personifies why we think Shy Nature could experience a massive breakthrough this year. Filled with great harmonies and a jittery, ’60s-inspired pop/rock vibe, “Ten Times Around the Sun” is fun, energetic, infectious, and rambunctious. The track is like a piñata where with each hit anticipation grows until the glorious finale is reached and everyone dives into the treats. And this tune is exactly that – one delicious treat.
Shy Nature’s debut album, Ten Times Around the Sun, arrives March 31st. Pre-order the LP on their Bandcamp page.
Ty Segall – “Pan” (Laguna Beach, California)
RIYL: only Ty Segall
Well, that didn’t long. Less than a month since the release of his twentieth album – the fantastic Ty Segall, the garage-rock prince announced that he will be releasing a double, A-side single on Suicide Squeeze Records (March 17th). While his second, eponymous LP was of the “easier to digest” variety, his latest single “Pan” is a return to the gnarly garage-rock we’ve become accustomed to hearing.
This song is just awesome. It’s typical Segall, lulling us into a stupor with a slow, hypnotic melody that has traces of The Beatles and Lennon. Then the song turns into a little scorcher of a tune. Segall doesn’t quite go all out this time around, but that might come with the second single. We cannot wait.
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