The Matinee June 8th features a bevy of well-known artists and a handful of hidden gems to discover. The list is in reverse alphabetical order because we haven’t done this in a while.
Waxahatchee – “Never Been Wrong” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Liz Phair, Juliana Hatfield, Veruca Salt
While Katie Crutchfield’s first three albums as Waxahatchee have been critical darlings, she remains one of music’s most underrated artists. She’s not slightly overlooked but grossly underappreciated by music lovers and critics, including us. Seldom do you see her name on lists identifying the great singer-songwriters of this ear. It is like we’ve taken her greatness for granted, but this should change when her fourth album comes out if her new singles are any indication.
Her previous single, “Silver”, was a shoegaze gem that felt like the arrival of spring. The latest number, “Never Been Wrong”, though, is more like an oncoming storm. Grungy, reverb-drenched guitars immediately welcome the listener, opening our ears to a grittier, edgier Waxahatchee. Crutchfield’s voice then enters the fray, further blowing us away with her lyrical prowess.
All your tragic fiction.
I always take the bait,
But the margin’s gigantic.
Am I happy or manic?
Does it make you feel good to blend in with the wall?
Everyone will hear me complain.
Everyone will pity my pain!
The song could mean many things, such as a broken relationship. However, given its Liz Phair influence, we would like to think its a song that takes on the current Administration and his followers.
Nadine Shah – “Yes Men” (London, England)
RIYL: PJ Harvey, Fiona Apple, Emma Ruth Rundle
Speaking of artists who write protest and anti-establishment songs, Nadine Shah is among the very best. She is an artist who won’t tip toe around the edges, but instead shares exactly what she is thinking. Her brutal honesty and straight-as-an-arrow approach are why many of us have been long-time fans. Her previous single, “Out the Way”, was an epic rocker based on her experience at an US airport, where she was taken away and questioned. This time around she sets her sights on the people who spread lies and use fear to govern.
“Yes Men” is a gripping, brooding rocker. The dissonant guitar, the crawling pace, and Shah’s agitated vocals are haunting and hypnotic, yet they create a foreboding atmosphere where it seems everything has fallen. This is the sonic world where a dictator rules and freedom is but a forgotten dream. And around her or him are “Yes Men”, who tend to her/his every need regardless of the rationality (or irrationality) of the decisions.
A state dependent on Yes Men.
And there’s no holy man who could ever tell them.
For the worthy man, he gives the best he can.
He doesn’t bank his favors for rainy days.
See him sliding on on the back of every blood, sweat, and tear.
See the headlines he wrote, playing to our fears.
Calling this song brilliant is an understatement. Needless to say, Shah’s new album, Holiday Destination, is highly anticipated in these parts. It arrives August 25th via 1965 Records.
Masasolo – “And To Know This” & “Idaho” (Copenhagen, Denmark)
RIYL: Tame Impala, Sleep Party People, DIIV
Back in March, Danish psychedelic-pop outfit Masasolo teased us with news that their debut album was in the works. At the time, they shared the fantastic single, “Ordinary Day”. We’re still waiting for news about the LP, but to appease us they released not one but two songs yesterday.
“And To Know This” and “Idaho” are both dazzling, psychedelic-pop tunes. The former is a swimmingly stunning number that feels like a memorable ride along the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. Frontman Morten Søgaard’s vocals are lush and bright while the crystalline guitar riffs, the sparkling synths, the throbbing bass line, and the percolating drums combine to create a breathtaking soundscape. This track is like a dream coming to life.
The latter, meanwhile, is a groovy, psychedelic disco tune. But instead of wanting to dance the night away, Søgaard’s lush vocals and his story about falling in love while in “Idaho” may have you running after the person who got away. This, however, isn’t an ordinary love song. Instead, Søgaard describes his insecurities and nervousness about speaking to the other person. We all have experienced this at one point, although maybe not quite in a funny and hallucinating way.
In addition to Morten Søgaard, Masasolo includes Jacob Haubjerg, Anders Haaning, and Martin Birksteen. The songs are out via Antiphonics.
Liza Warrior Princess – “Bandit’s Daughter” (Brooklyn via Detroit, USA)
RIYL: The Runaways, Pale Honey, Angel Olsen
Ladies and gentlemen, get to know Liza Warrior Princess. This little band describes themselves as a band that writes “late-capitalist pop hits for the whole feminist family.” For us, though, the quintet out of Brooklyn are just great storytellers with a fantastic vibe.
The band recently released their self-titled, debut EP (purchase it on Bandcamp), which possesses three whimsical yet clever songs. The pick of the litter, though, is undoubtedly “Bandit’s Daughter”. With an infectious and groovy garage pop-rock vibe, the song will have you shimmering your shoulders, shaking your hips, and tapping your toes. It is the songwriting, however, that stands out. Frontwoman Liza Dzul takes the common fairy tale and puts it on its head. There’s no princess in this story, but a young woman who has applied the tricks her sleazy father taught her. The bandit in this case, however, isn’t from the Wild West, but in all likelihood a shady businessman who steals from the poor to give to his own bank account.
Liza Warrior Princess are Liza Dzul (vocals/guitar), Matt Baddour (guitar), Alberto Lalama (keys/guitar), Sachin Mitra (drums), and Billy Richling (bass). We cannot wait to hear what other stories they have in store for us.
Life Model – “Lucky” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: Alvvays, A Sunny Day in Glasgow, A History of Apple Pie
Way, way back when in September of 2014 when we use to have a Hidden Gem segment, one of the bands featured was Life Model. At the time, they blew us away with their dreamgaze that we called “sublime and even bordering on erotic.” They’ve released a handful of songs since then, but their latest might be their most…sublime!
With “Lucky”, Life Model sound even better than we remember them. The shoegaze approach of their original music has been slightly diminished in favor of heavy, guitar-pop vibe. The guitar work is terrific, particularly in the second half of the song, while the rhythms reverberate with a punk-pop sensibility. Sophie Evans, meanwhile, has blossomed as a frontwoman. Her voice is fuller, lusher, and more confident. Her songwriting, too, has risen to another level, as she tells the tale of a lying person who escaped a tragedy. It’s a fabulous song by a little band that still is a hidden gem by most accounts. In our hearts, though, they are stars with the potential to be Scotland’s equivalent to Alvvays.
“Lucky” is the lead single from the band’s upcoming EP, Lucky. It comes out July 21st on Frux Tapes.
Life Men are Sophie Evans, Chris Smith, Joanne McCafferty, and Michael McDonald.
Juanita Stein – ”I’ll Cry” (Brighton, England via Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Mazzy Starr, Nora Jones, Roy Orbison
In their thirteen years of existence, Howling Bells developed into indie-rock royalty in not one but two countries. While they call England home, Australia claims them as their own. The quartet, however, are currently on their second hiatus, as their last album, Heartstrings, was released in 2014. In the meantime, each member has undertaken on new projects. This includes frontwoman Juanita Stein at long last embarking on a solo career, and she’s rewarded fans for their patience with a fantastic first single.
“I’ll Cry” is a stunning, classic, country-folk song. Stein’s usual powerful vocals have been transformed and radiate with the stunning frailty of Hope Sandoval. The lush, mesmerizing tone gives the love ballad a bedroom-like intimacy. As such, Stein feels like she is right next to us and whispering the pain that has overtaken her heart. The storyline is familiar, but few such songs sound as beautiful and tender as “I’ll Cry”. It simply is just the start of a long-lasting love affair.
This is the second single from Stein’s forthcoming, debut album, America. It arrives July 28th via Nude.
Johnny Kills – “Let’s Talk About Me” (Brighton/London, England)
RIYL: METZ, The Strokes, Twin Peaks
English indie-rock / garage-rock trio Johnny Kills first caught our attention almost exactly a year ago when we premiered their sophomore single, “Maybe Next Year”. The song got us excited about their potential, making us think they could be the next Twin Peaks or even METZ. Their newest track validates our belief they could quickly emerge as the next great rock band from the UK.
“Let’s Talk About Me” is another wild and frenetic rocker. The fiery guitars are played with the urgency of a band playing their last gig while the rhythms are chaotic but explosive. Then there are frontman Tim Lloyd-Kinnings’ unique vocals, which may become the trademark sound of the band. It’s a blend of Parquet Courts’ Andrew Savage and John Dwyer of Oh Sees, a whirling but highly engaging voice that gets the adrenaline flowing. His lyrics on this track also mirror the tongue-in-cheek, social commentary of the aforementioned artists. Johnny Kills are undoubtedly first and foremost a rock band, but they are a clever one that will go places quickly.
In addition to Tim Lloyd-Kinnings (lead vocals/guitar), the band is comprised of Cameron Gipp (guitar/bass/vocals) and Lewis Lloyd-Kinnings (guitar/bass/vocals).
Jalen N’Gonda – “I Need You” (Liverpool, England via Wheaton, MD, USA)
RIYL: Sam Cooke, Leon Bridges, Vintage Trouble
We haven’t been excited about a new, retro-soul and R&B singer since Leon Bridges’ arrived on the scene back in 2014. Three years, we can assuredly say that we have found artist number two, and his name is Jalen N’Gonda.
Originally born in small municipality in Maryland and now calling Liverpool home, N’Gonda first impressed us with “Holler (Call My Name)”, which he shared last summer. He has since released a couple of more songs, including the smooth, cool number “Will I Try”. His latest song, “I Need You”, though, might take the cake as his most scrumptious. It is a groovy and rollicking number that feels like the ’60s reborn, and it will, as such, have you on your feet and dancing all night. N’Gonda’s vocals are vibrant and rich, taking a familiar about love and desire to levels of gleeful euphoria that only the masters of soul – such as Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Charles Bradley, Ray Charles, etc. – have achieved. This young man has us excited about the future of soul.
N’Gonda is currently working on a new EP, and it is expected later this year. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that he’ll have more new music to share soon.
Ariel Pink – “Another Weekend” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Connan Mockasin, Morgan Delt, Mac DeMarco
It’s hard to believe that Ariel Marcus Rosenberg’s – or simply Ariel Pink – is celebrating his twentieth year as a recording artist. His debut record (released under Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti), Attention! Hummers in the Street, flew under the radar since it was unlike anything released at the time. It was weird and experimental, combining pop, electronica, and everything else imaginable. While the LP isn’t being celebrated like other “milestone albums” (e.g., Radiohead’s OK Computer and U2’s The Joshua Tree), it did introduce the world inside the spectacular mind of the Los Angeles-based artist.
Intentionally or not, Rosenberg’s thirteenth solo album this year, which is aptly titled, 13, is expected some time this year via Mexican Summer. It is unclear what he will have in store, but his new single gives some indications. “Another Weekend” is a perfect slice of sun-kissed, psychedelic pop. It is extremely hazy, akin to the psych-pop of the ’70s, and Rosenberg’s vocals have the trademark whimsical nature to them at time. Yet, the song feels highly introspective and contemplative, as if he’s reflecting on his own legacy and/or life.
So lock me in and out of my life.
I’m either too shy or humble.
Another weekend out of my life
Is gonna get me into trouble.
Another weekend out of my life
And I can shake off all my worries.
Another weekend I can’t rewind.
Another day not working for me.
While no formal date exists for 13, “Another Weekend” will be available as a 7″ on June 21st. “Ode To The Goat (Thank You)” will be the B-side.
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