The Matinee May 16th will hopefully leave a smile on your face or at least find a new favorite band. You’ll find nine songs today, and each one will leave you contemplating the past, the present, or the future.
AFTERBLOOM – “Such A Drag” (North East & West Midlands, England)
RIYL: Twin Peaks, Wavves, False Heads
It might be spring and love may be in the air, but this is also the time of year when many hearts are broken and people are trying to figure out what’s next for them. Heck, some of us are still going through the process of discovering what to do with our lives. If you’re like us, then English quartet AFTERBLOOM have just the song.
Filling the airwaves with the post-punk / slacker-rock of Twin Peaks and Wavves, “Such A Drag” is an anthem for lost souls and broken hearts. The lyrics are honest yet a touch humorous, but it is the blazing yet wildly fun guitar work that will linger with you well after the song is over. Don’t be surprised to catch yourself doing your best air guitar while waving your head back and forth like you were an actual rock star. Hey, even lonely hearts can have heir 5 minutes of fame, although we think Isaac Hirshfield Wight, Ben Clapton, Luke Morgan, and Thomas Hadley are on the path to long-term success.
Amber Arcades – “Wouldn’t Even Know (feat. Bill Ryder Jones)” (Utrecht, Netherlands)
RIYL: Mazzy Star, Land of Talk, Cat Power
We are not simply just fans of Annelotte de Graaf and her project Amber Arcades, but we’re also admirers of what she does in front of and behind the microphone. In case you may not know, she’s a human rights advocate and attorney, dedicating her life to better the lives of people across the globe. Music is another of her passions, and it provides a different medium for her to reach people and touch our hearts in different ways. Take for example her new single, “Wouldn’t Even Know”.
This heartfelt tune features English singer-songwriter Bill Ryder Jones, and it demonstrates de Graaf’s ability to turn the ordinary into something beautifully cinematic. The song has an air of the easy breeziness of Mazzy Star, where your entire body and soul suddenly becomes relaxed as the sweet melody and de Graaf’s soft vocals fill the air. There isn’t anything overly complex, but that’s the secret of this song – its simplicity creates an atmosphere that is lush, calm, and everlasting.
“Wouldn’t Even Know” is from Amber Arcades’ forthcoming, new EP, Cannonball. It is out June 2nd via Heavenly Recordings.
Supporting de Graaf are Manuel van den Berg (guitar), Ella van der Woude (keys/synths), Jaap Bontekoe (drums), and Ronald Straetemans (bass).
Avalanche Party – “I’m So Wet” (North Yorkshire Moors, England)
RIYL: Arctic Monkeys, Blaenavon, a touch of Rage Against the Machine
There are breakup and f*ck off songs, and then there are breakup and f*ck off songs. Avalanche Party’s new single, “I’m So Wet”, falls into the latter category. Actually, it probably deserves its own section because this song is 4 ½ minutes of explosive rock awesomeness.
A mix of Arctic Monkeys’ groovy indie rock and Blaenavon’s brooding anthems, the song starts off with heavy, head-nodding goodness. It gradually gets a little darker and heavier until one becomes completely hypnotized by the quintet’s crushing spell. The spell is broken, though, when frontman Jordan Bell’s vocals turn menacing and begins to drop lyrical bombs a la Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine. His lyrics throughout are fantastic.
I’m the choir when those angels sing and coo down your spine.
What could be sweeter than a drink from a victor’s cup?
I’ll stick my straw in your longing and suck it all up.
This is a band to watch. The single is out now via Clue Records.
The bands consists of Jordan Bell (vocals/guitar), Jared Thorpe (vocals/guitar), Kane Waterfield (drums), Joe Bell (bass), and Glen Adkins (keys).
Miya Folick – “Trouble Adjusting” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Fiona Apple, Alanis Morissette, Waxahatchee
We’ve long been on the Miya Folick bandwagon, and finally others are jumping on and discovering one of America’s great, young singer-songwriters. Her versatility and poignant songwriting is reminiscent of a young P.J. Harvey, where she can fire blistering rockers or slow things down and steal our collective breathes with a sordid ballad. Late last week, she shared her newest single, “Trouble Adjusting”, which reminds us that rock ‘n roll is not dead.
This song is a riot, echoing the anthemic but gritty alt-rock of Fiona Apple and Alanis Morissette in the mid-90s mixed with the angst-rock of Waxahatachee. Folick’s voice pierces through the layers of searing guitars, throbbing bass line, and crumbling percussion, sharing to the world her deepest struggles. Listen closely to her words because you may find hope in what she has to say – that you’re not alone in trying to overcome life’s mundane routines and its constant criticisms. But as Folick has shown, the best to tell everyone to go fuck themselves is to persevere and succeed. She’s going to be a star, which we said in 2016 and again this year.
Folick’s new EP, Give It To Me, will be out later this year via Terrible Records.
les biches – “Fun For Professionals” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Guided By Voices, Talking Heads, The New Pornographers
Remember the old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover”? Remember this as you first spin the new single by les biches, the project of multi-instrumentalist and composer Keith Joyner.
The intro to “Fun for Professionals” is a bit unusual and even whimsical. It sounds like something you would hear in the kid’s tent at the local fair. But then the song builds into something spectacular, slowly building as the guitars enter the frays and the rhythms intensify. Hints of Talking Heads and Guided By Voices begin to emerge, and we’re suddenly transported back to the ‘80s with this alt-pop number. The inclusion of Happy Hollows’ frontwoman Sarah Negahdari also adds another dynamic, as her booming voice is like our sub-conscience telling us that there is more to life than a career and material goods.
The horns-filled finale is fabulous, taking the song to even greater heights. Often the inclusion of brass and saxophones can seem to be unnecessary, but in this case they play the antagonists to the technical aspects of the song (the guitars, synths, moog). In words, they are part of the world that we often ignore – the one that is free from the skyscrapers, powerlines, and asphalt boulevards that occupy much of our landscapes.
“Fun for Professionals” is the third single in les biches’ running series of songs. In addition to Joyner (vocals/moog/guitar/bass/toydrum) and Negahdari (vocals), the band includes Brian Reyes (saxophone), Travis McNabb (drums), Jonathan D. Haskell (organ), and David Newton (drums).
No Vacation – “Yam Yam” (San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Alvvays, Cold Beat, SOFTSPOT
In an age where attention spans are short and people get their information from 140-character tweets, patience, listening, and understanding are traits that are becoming endangered. This isn’t just a reflection of how technology has changed human nature, but our decision to not become as emotionally attached to people or things. It speaks to our vulnerability and weakness. So when a song like “Yam Yam” comes around, we take immediate notice and not surprisingly it’s by one of the West Coast’s great secrets, No Vacation.
“Yam Yam” is a stunningly warm song, both musically and lyrically. The interplay between the clean guitar lines and the deep echo of the bass is fantastic while the percussion work is smartly executed. It is Sabrina Mai’s soft vocals and lyrics, though, that steal the show.
Why don’t you say what’s on your mind?
I won’t run away.
I won’t turn away, won’t turn away, won’t turn away.
Everyone should have friends like No Vacation, who will be with you through every peak and valley. And if no one is around, spin this song to know someone, somewhere is listening.
No Vacation are Sabrina Mai (vocals/guitar), Marisa Saunders (bass), Nat Lee (synths), Harrison Spencer (guitar), and James Shi (drums).
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – “Anymore” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Cocteau Twins, Slowdive, Two Door Cinema Club
It’s been about three years since we have last heard from The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, the New York City-based band that has undergone a few changes over the year. Frontman and principal songwriter Kip Berman, however, remains, and he’s taking the outfit in a new direction. You’ll have to listen closely to his new single, “Anymore”, to appreciate what Berman has achieved.
“Anymore” first seems familiar to TPOBPAH’s past numbers, but there are noticeable differences. The song is ravishing, as the stream of crystalline guitars and Berman’s vocals echo the swimming shoegaze of Cocteau Twins. Beneath the anthemic sound is the artist revealing his heart and soul. “Anymore”, as such, is Berman at his most contemplative, sharing the emotions of a broken heart and that of a person who is lost. So the sound you hear isn’t redemption but a man travelling to rediscover himself and his place within the chaos.
“Anymore” is the lead single from TPOBPAH’s forthcoming, new album, The Echo of Pleasure, which will be released July 14th via Painbow Records.
PLANET – “Aimless” (Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: Jagwar Ma, Sundara Karma, The Radio Dept.
While some of the songs on this mini-playlist are quite introspective and even a little downtrodden in their theme, Sydney-based quartet PLANET have arrived with a number that will have you smiling for the rest of the day.
“Aimless” is a boisterous and uplifting number. The clean guitar lines echo Scandinavian pop music, but the choral and breezy nature of the song bellows of the burgeoning Australian scene. Lyrically, frontman Matty Took takes us on a ride that escapes the imprisonment of the present and heads to the freedom of the future. Listen to his words and images of a coming-to-age film may emerge in your mind. In particular as he tells us,
The writing is on the wall.
You and me is all we need in life.
“Aimless” is a wonderful reminder that the simplest things in life are indeed the most important.
PLANET are Matty Took (vocals/rhythm guitar), Tom Peppitt (lead guitar), Harrison Stewart-Weeks (drums), and Jimmy Weaver (bass)
RXC – “Better” (Bristol, England)
RIYL: London Grammar, BANKS, Lapsley
There are a lot of young artists who are striving to be the next BANKS or London Grammar. The realm of electro-pop, to be frank, is an extremely overpopulated one, where songs begin to blur and sound like the next one. So how does relative newcomer RXC differ from the rest?
Her new single, “Better”, shares similarities to the aforementioned artists’ music. The track is beautifully gripping and haunting, as the dissonant electronic beats throb in the background. But like how the greatest masters of the genre have done, RXC keeps the production work subtle and not being heavy-handed, which are traits many young producers fail to understand. Instead, the music is the canvas to her fabulous voice, which is lush and sultry. It is a voice one would want to hear every night.
RXC, though, is not just a pretty voice and a fine musician, but her songwriting is clever and has an understated bite. This isn’t just a song about a failing relationship, but it’s a tender song of revenge and redemption. If the twenty-something artist continues to write lyrics like this, she’ll be going places.
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