Like yesterday’s Melodic Tonic, we’ve scoured the globe for new music for The Matinee June 15th edition. The mini-playlist is bookended with two very familiar names. In between, you’ll find a mix of long-time favorites and a new artist making big splashes overseas. We start things off, however, with a song that isn’t so new but might be for younger music fans.
Yoko Ono – “What A Bastard The World Is” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono‘s music – whether solo, collaborating with John Lennon, or with her band the Plastic Ono Band – is timeless. Many of her albums and songs remain relevant today despite them being anywhere from 20 to 50 years old. Just to prove how well her music has aged, Ono is working with super-indie label Secretly Canadian to re-release her albums. Three LPs will be released on July 14th, including 1973’s Approximately Infinite Universe (re-orders available here). From that record is the poignant “What A Bastard The World Is.”
This avante-garde folk number still sounds fresh with its soothing, piano-driven melody. Ono’s songwriting, though, as she was then and still is now, is fiery. She holds nothing back on this politically-driven song. Her targets are men and their lying, cheating, power-hungry ways. At the same time, this a feminist song, as she speaks about women’s liberation and empowerment. Forty-four years since the song was released, women are still fighting for their rights and equality, maybe even more so today. Indeed, “What A Bastard The World Is.”
Female lib is nice for Joan of Arc,
But it’s a long, long way for Terry and Jill.
Most of us were taught not to shout our will,
Few of us are encouraged to get a job for skill.
And all of us live under the mercy of male society,
Thinking that their want is our need.
A Festival, A Parade – “Feel At Home” (Newcastle Upon Tyne, England)
RIYL: Ulrika Spacek, A Place To Bury Strangers, The Hunna
When we first came across A Festival, A Parade a year ago, we were blown away by their brooding yet anthemic indie rock. The impression was so great that they were one of our favorite discoveries of 2016. They did release a song in January – the epic “People Person” – but the Newcastle Upon Tyne quartet have been quiet since. It led us to wondering when we would hear from them again, and our question was answered almost instantaneously when the band dropped their latest single.
“Feel At Home” is much different from their past efforts. Instead of rousing, brooding indie-rock, they’ve unleashed their fiery, alternative side. The song wails with the blistering shoegaze of A Place To Bury Strangers but rocks with the edge of their countrymen like Ulrika Spacek and EAT FAST. A proggy element also echoes in the track, particularly in the rhythms. Meanwhile, Joe Allan’s reverb-drenched vocals (akin to what Death Cab for Cutie did during their college days) add a layer of immediacy, although they eventually becoming as piercing as the searing guitars. It’s a clever song that has us eagerly awaiting the group’s next little experiment.
A Festival, A Parade is comprised of Joe Allan (vocals/guitar), Reece Spencer (lead guitar), Ollie Winn (bass), and Liam Tellum (drums).
City Calm Down – “Blood” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: The National, Frightened Rabbit, Gang of Youths
Over two years ago, we were enthralled by City Calm Down, the Melbourne-based quartet who reminded us of a young The National. At the time, they were still finding their feet within the competitive Australian music scene. After the launch of their debut album and a highly successful tour, the band has become one of the country’s brightest indie stars. So much so that their new single, “Blood”, was premiered on Triple J on Tuesday night.
After hearing the song, the only place “Blood” could be played was on national radio because it is City Calm Down’s most anthemic track to date. What makes the song, however, is the urgency that resonates from the very first note to the last. The synths, guitars, bass, and drums are played with a furious intensity, creating a soundscape that feels like you are racing through a darkness to find a glimmer of light. Frontman Jack Bourke’s vocals are earnest and yearning, as if his voice is the only one you can hear at the end of the tunnel. “I’m the one who wants your blood,” he passionately repeats. As he utters these words, you might find yourself reaching out to him, hoping to be taken into City Calm Down’s exhilarating world.
The single is available now via I OH YOU Records. The band will be commencing an Aussie tour at the end of August; dates are available here. Hopefully they’ll make it across the Ditch soon as well as cross the Pacific so North Americans can discover their greatness.
City Calm Down are Jack Bourke, Sam Mullaly, Jeremy Sonnenberg, and Lee Armstrong.
Delagoon – “New Sensation” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Makthaverskan, Westkust, Joy Division
It’s not often we feature two bands from the same label in a single Matinee segment, but today is an exception. The first of two HYBRIS groups is Delagoon, a post-punk band who first piqued our interest last June with their Manchester-like indie rock. In the year that has passed, the band has gotten a little bit grittier, a bit heavier, and a whole lot more ferocious.
Last Friday, they released their terrific EP, New Sensation, which revealed their more aggressive sound. Trying to pick which song to showcase was difficult, but the one that popped the most is the title track. Not to be confused with INXS’ classic song, this “New Sensation” is a fiery, hypnotic mind warp that sounds like it was blasted out of the ’70s. Dense, industrial, post-punk vibes bleed throughout the track akin to some of Joy Division’s darkest numbers. A layer of goth-rock darkness à la The Cure also percolates from start to finish. “New Sensation” is enticingly creepy, and the only want to deal with the growing anxiety is to succumb to its spine-tingling power.
You can get the single (and the EP of the same title) now from iTunes.
Decagon is Charlie Falk, Axel Dagman, Christoffer Carlstedt, and Anton Haeffler.
The Fresh & Onlys – “Wolf Lie Down” (San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Japandroids, Cymbals Eat Guitars, J Roddy Walston and The Business
It’s been three years since The Fresh & Onlys released their last album, House of Spirits, which confirmed their place among San Francisco’s great indie-rock bands. They’ve kept a pretty low profile in that time until yesterday when they unexpectedly released their latest single, “Wolf Lie Down.” As they like to say in this part of the world, it is a cracker.
The interplay between the reverb-soaked, grungy guitars and the summery harmonies is genius. It feels like a band jamming out in their garage while the ocean waves break along the shore a hundred feet away. The final 15 seconds of the song are awesome, as they pause the track but then re-start it with a Jerry Lewis-esque, piano-driven, classic rock ‘n roll closer.
Focusing on The Fresh & Only’s sound, though, would be a mistake because this band writes some poignant lyrics. This time around, they’ve written arguably their most politically-oriented song, speaking out against the aggressive and fear-driven policies of the current Administration. “I don’t ever want to risk my life for freedom”, sings Tim Cohen. It’s not a pacifist message but rather an indication that the US is supposed to be the land of the free where freedom for all rings from coast-to-coast-to-coast. It isn’t a luxury that only a few benefit. Welcome back, Tim Cohen and Wymond Miles.
Lùisa – “Under the Wild Skies” (Hamburg, Germany)
RIYL: Aldous Harding, Phoebe Bridgers, Basia Bulat
What were you doing when you were 22 years old? Probably not signing your first label deal with one of the world’s most reputable companies and then touring the globe to support it. What about at 24 years of age? Likely not being interviewed on national radio or performing on talk shows. You also likely did not have a song on a hit television show. Then again, Hamburg-born Lùisa is not your ordinary individual. She was destined for stardom from a young age.
Her 2015 debut album, Never Own, won over critics and audiences across Europe, but it was her intimate approach and haunting, delicate vocals that captivated them. The singer-songwriter returns with a song that will have everyone around the globe understanding why she has become Germany’s sweetheart.
Take a deep breath and close your eyes before pressing play because “Under the Wild Skies” will immediately enrapture you. The song shows a young woman still evolving, as it is dreamier, more brooding and cinematic than anything she’s done before. The instrumentation is beautifully restrained and allows Lùisa’s soft, whispery vocals to shine. Her story is wonderfully mystical yet endearing, as she sings about the moments she and another shared. That person is not necessarily a lover, but could be a best friend or one who acted as a security blanket. For us, this song will be the thing that warms us up at night before we turn off the lights. This song is an absolute stunner.
The single is out now via Nettwerk Music Group. The song was played in the closing credits of season 5, episode 11 of Orange is the New Black.
Mammút – “The Moon Will Never Turn On Me” (Reykjavík, Iceland)
RIYL: Pumarosa, Zola Jesus, Samaris
Whereas many Icelandic bands follow in the glacial post-rock footsteps of Sigur Rós (since no one can imitate Björk), Mammút are blazing their own path. Their music is equally hypnotic, yet it is more spellbinding than breathtaking. Their latest single is a perfect encapsulation of their brilliance.
“The Moon Will Never Turn On Me” is a mesmerizing number. From the low hum of the guitars to the guttural bass line to the electrified strings, the song feels like a moonless night. It is spectacularly dark and enchanting, and a cold chill will consume your body. Frontwoman Alexandra Baldursdóttir’s vocals soar over top the gripping cinema like a lone wolf’s howl piercing through the blowing wind. Her tale is much like that – about a sole individual traveling through and eventually embracing the darkness. As she sings:
I want to make this right, but I don’t feel right
Cause sometimes life tries to eat us up
Then I take a look around and see how dust turns into gold
And I embrace the world, embrace the world, embrace the world
And I love it all.
I want to see the sun collapse
I want to see the stars decay
The moon will never turn on me
So far it’s OK.
More of Mammút’s brilliance arrives on July 14th when their new album, Kinder Versions, arrives via Bella Union.
Mammút are Alexandra Baldursdóttir, Andri Bjartur Jakobsson, Arnar Pétursson, Ása Dýradóttir, and Katrína Mogensen.
Postiljonen – “Crazy” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Amason, Keep Shelley In Athens, Young Galaxy
Summer is officially a week away, but the seasonal anthems are out in full force. For us, however, the perfect summer tune is one that is light, breezy, and a touch dreamy. A song that makes us feel like we are either driving along a dramatic coastline or gliding in the jet stream. Forget about David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Justin Bieber, or Katy Perry. Give us Postiljonen every single time.
After taking a short break, the Swedish dream-pop stars returned a few weeks ago with a single that has our chests swelling and our hearts skipping a beat. That song is “Crazy.” Mia Brox’s vocals are breathtakingly beautiful, and they float gently over the lush instrumentation of her bandmates Daniel Sjörs and Joel Nyström Holm. Her story of two former lovers is full of memory. There is, however, no broken heart; instead she cherishes the little moments once shared. As such, the song will leave a smile on your face while leaving you gasping for breath. For us, “Crazy” epitomizes musical paradise.
The song is available now via HYBRIS.
Rostam – “Bike Dream” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Youth Lagoon, Washed Out, Wild Nothing
By now, most know that former Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij has commenced a successful career as a producer and solo artist. On the latter, he collaborated last year with The Walkmen frontman Hamilton Leithauser on a critically acclaimed album, I Had A Dream That You Were Mine. Less than year since its release, the restless Rostam is back with more music.
On September 8th, the multi-talented artist will release his debut solo album, Half-Light, via Nonesuch Records. The first single, “Bike Dream,” is tantamount to spending an evening in a luxurious bubble bath. The production work and Batmanglij’s distant vocals are warm and dreamy, and you just want to soak yourself into every dazzling element. And like the music, a fantasy aspect floats through Rotsam’s lyrics. It’s one part a man confused with his place in the world and another part the uncertainty that lingers within a relationship. Sounds like the concept for the next movie by Spike Jonze, with whom we wouldn’t be surprised if Rostam collaborated on his next project.
Pre-orders for Half-Light are available at his website.
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