The Matinee June 27th features another set of nine terrific songs. There is one song that might have you doing a double take since it’s not often we profile a country/bluegrass/Americana artist. But like so many of the artists we have featured and showcase today, he’s one excellent singer-songwriter. First, however, we kick things off with a duo who have had us doing double takes for seven years.
Widowspeak – “Dog” (Tacoma, WA, USA)
RIYL: Emma Ruth Rundle, Mazzy Starr and The Good Intentions, Belle Mare
After teasing fans for the past few months that something new was coming, Widowspeak have finally unveiled what many in the blogosphere have been waiting for since their dreamy 2015 album, All Yours. Yesterday, they shared their first single in two years, and it is sensational.
“Dog” is a stunning portrait inside the mind of a person on the move. Like man’s best friend, Molly Hamilton lushly sings about the restlessness that boils inside a person and their desire to seek greener pastures. Yet, the feeling of staying put eats away at her because there is safety in the sanctity of the home.
Musically, the song is gorgeous. It builds upon the widescreen, cinematic approach of their sophomore album, but the soundscape is fuller and even more dazzling. Thomas’ dissonant and dreamy guitar rips through the air with intensity and more edge. Hamilton’s vocals, meanwhile, are still warm and intoxicating, and she reminds us why she has the most stirring voice this side of Hope Sandoval. The song represents a wonderful return by one of our all-time favorites and a great introduction for those first discovering Widowspeak’s self-described cowboy grunge, dream country, or earthtone pop. For us, their music should be called “shadow folk” because every one of their songs lingers with and follows you for hours. Just like a “Dog”.
In addition to Molly Hamilton (vocals/guitar) and Robert Earl Thomas III (guitar), Widowspeak also includes Willy Muse (bass) and James Jano (drums).
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Arrows Of Love – “SIGNAL (Redux Version)” (London, England)
RIYL: INHEAVEN, The Hunna, Preoccupations
Forget us saying that we are in the midst of the singer-songwriter era. We’re now fully entrenched in the age of the political / protest music movement. Every week, powerful, new songs are released to speak out against the populist and propaganda regimes in the US and UK. The latest single to catch our attention is Arrows of Love‘s industrial, post-punk epic, “SIGNAL (Redux Version)”.
This song is an explosion waiting to happen. From the grimy guitar work, the throbbing rhythms, and the co-frontman Nima Teranchi’s urgent and haunting vocals, a malice seeps through every note in the song. It is the anger and desperation of a person who foresaw the arrival of the “monster”, who fed on people’s fears and ignorance. The lyrics are also fantastic, particularly the opening lines:
“Warning never came from a bottle.
Let the lunatics run the asylum.
Even handing them simple instructions,
they chose to ignore
Call them hippie crap.
But you have to admire the product.
Did you ever see it coming?
You always knew it was coming.”
Just another mind-blowing song by one of the UK’s great bands, and more music is coming shortly. Their sophomore album, PRODUCT, will be released on July 21st. The band has a PledgeMusic campaign up to buy the record and to support the band get it out. Click here to pre-order the LP.
Arrows of Love are Nima Teranchi, Nuha Ruby Ra, Alex Brown, Craig Doporto, and Phillip Stakem.
B Boys – “Discipline” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: early Rolling Stones, The Talking Heads, David Bowie, Foxygen, Parquet Courts
From the opening guitar lick to the teetering drum roll on “Discipline”, it becomes immediately known that the B Boys are not your typical 21st Century band. Nope, they are a blast from the past. But who do they exactly sound like? When Andrew Kerr’s vocals kick in, images of a young Mick Jagger prancing around the stage come flooding into mind. The B Boys are the Rolling Stones for a new generation, sharing their groovy, hip-shaking rock that is complete with a no-nonsense attitude.
But wait, there is much more to their music. It’s not linear like the classic rock of the ’60s. Instead, the undulating bass line, the twangy guitar line, and the wavering melodies are akin to the experimental pop-rock of The Talking Heads and David Byrne’s solo work. Even elements of David Bowie’s genius encircle the track. This is song, this band is unlike anything out there today. As the band hollers, “We’ve got a different mind!”, there is only one thing that can be said – they’re absolutely correct because “Discipline” is transcends brilliance. This is a song of the year candidate.
The song is taken from B Boys’ debut album, Dada, which is available now via Captured Tracks.
The band is comprised of Andrew Kerr, Brendon Avalos, and Britton Walker.
Bleach Dream – “Drown In Colours” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: DIIV, Beach Fossils, The Cure
It’s fitting that Marty Greensil and Dave O’Kane named their music project Bleach Dream because these long friends are living the dream at this moment. When they were younger, they inspired to be professional musicians, but they abandoned their dreams several years ago. Then after a few jam sessions and likely a shared mid-life crisis, the two essentially said, “F*ck it!”, and set out again on a path they started a long time ago. Today, they are one step closer to achieving a major milestone – the release of their debut album. Late last week, they shared “Drown In Colours”, which sounds like… a dream.
This stunning number is pure delirium. The crystalline guitar, the lush harmonies, and The Cure-like bass line are breathtaking, feeling like we are indeed living inside a dream. But to truly appreciate the song’s effects, one must close her eyes and experience every note. Then allow one’s mind to float away to somewhere distant and unforeseen, escaping momentarily from the chaos around us. Not every song possesses these qualities, so when they come around they should be cherished. Thank goodness Greensil and O’Kane had a mid-life crisis (although we’re not sure that’s true).
Bleach Dream’s debut album, Saudade, which will be released in July.
Bluebirds – “Subcultural Love” (Glasgow via Edinburgh, Scotland)
RIYL: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Blaenavon, Eagulls
Glasgow is quickly asserting itself as a world music capital. Beyond Mogwai, Franz Ferdinand, Belle and Sebastian, CHVRCHES, and The Vaselines, the Scottish city is home to a bevy of emerging indie artists and bands. The Van Ts, Life Model, Baby Strange, and a host of others are slowly gaining prominence within the UK and abroad. Another band to keep an eye on is Bluebirds.
At the end of May, the alt-rock / post-punk trio released their debut EP, There Is No God. From this blistering record is its blackened soul, “Subcultural Love”. Coming in at an even five minutes, “Subcultural Love” is a menacing track that echoes the darkest of Nick Cave’s persona as Prince of Darkness. It is gritty, harsh, and full of malice, as Daniel Telford’s angst-filled lyrics are melded into the layers of industrial, Goth-rock, and post-punk.
A punk mentality also rings throughout, as the band hollers their frustration with a world fascinated with categorizing people and how such a practice leads to discontent if not conflict. “We need to see more skin”, Telford eerily screams at the end. These six words are extremely revealing since much of the world has chosen to once again judge people by the color of their skin. As such, “Subcultural Love” is perfect for today’s world – a creepy song for these extremely scary times.
Bluebirds are Daniel Telford, Harris Le Derf, and Jack Telford.
The fin. – “Pale Blue” (Kobe, Japan & London, England)
RIYL: Tame Impala, Bee Gees, Living
On a trip to Japan about ten years ago, a Japanese man said to me, “We, Japanese, haven’t invented a lot of things. We just make the old much better.” He then went on to cite automobiles, televisions, video game consoles, computers, and all sorts of technologies as examples. I had to interject and add ice cream because the Japanese make the best frozen treat on the planet. We might have to add psychedelic rock to this expanding list.
Kikaguku Moyo are one of the preeminent psych-rock bands on the planet, taking their Ravi Shankar-inspired sound to new sonic heights. Their cousins, The fin., though, are taking a more modern and melodic approach, namely the sun-drenched, disco-infused psychedelia that Tame Impala reinvented with their album, Currents. As great as that LP was, The fin. could very well replace Kevin Parker and friends at the top of the charts.
The fin.’s latest single, “Pale Blue”, showcases the trio’s groovy, pleasing take on the genre. From the shimmering synths, the funky and fabulous bass line, and the cool but vibrant guitar riffs, the soundscape is simultaneously exhilarating and breathtaking. Its dazzling effect is akin to a cool breeze cutting through the heat on a midsummer’s day. Frontman Yuto Uchino’s vocals, meanwhile, are intoxicating, as they are delivered with a whispery and intimate quality. Together, they make “Pale Blue” the ideal summer track – one that will have you dancing easily under the dim moonlight while taking your mind to exotic places. This song is so good.
The fin’s new album is expected later this year, and Lost in The Manor will release it.
The band is comprised of Yuto Uchino (vocals/synths), Ryosuke Odagaki (guitar), and Kaoru Nakazawa (drums/bass).
Kalbells – “Alonetime” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: tUnE-yArDs, Lucius, Sam Fermin
Last month, Kalmia Traver – the multi-talented frontwoman of Rubblebucket who plays the tenor and baritone saxophones and the flute – gave us a taste of what is to come from her solo project, Kalbells. The first single from her debut album was the brilliant “Why?!steria”, which fused together synth-pop with indie folk and showcased a completely different side. If “Why?!steria” was a departure, then her new song further distances Traver from the euphoric alt-pop of her main band.
“Alonetime” is the most beautiful lullaby you will hear this year. Minimalist in its execution as just keys, a synth, Traver’s feathery voice, and her whistle are featured, a carnival-like melody fills the air. It is sweet, light, and full of bright colors just like cotton candy. In addition, a sense of rejuvenation can be felt in Traver’s lyrics, as she describes the little things she has come to appreciate once again. This song’s focus shouldn’t be that surprising since Traver is a cancer survivor, and the song is her celebrating another day. This is her revealing her heart and sharing a beautiful moment with us.
Kalbells’ debut album, Ten Flowers, arrives July 14th via NNA Tapes. It could very well be the highlight of the summer.
NRVS LVRS – “Castling” (San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: CLAVVS, Crystal Castles, The Knife, Briana Marela
There’s always a moment in every great adventure where everything slows down if not comes to a pause. This is when the protagonist reaches an epiphany and understands what she must do. Relief, hope, and exhilaration overwhelm the character as well as the viewers, and whatever her fate may be we know that it is the right thing to do. It is a moment of clarity, understanding, and beauty. If we could put a soundtrack to this event, it would be “Castling”, the new single by San Francisco-based NRVS LVRS.
The project of husband-and-wife duo Andrew Gomez and Bevin Fernandez, NRVS LVRS have crafted a spellbinding song that will take away every ounce of breath from your body. This is the song that we would imagine Briana Marela would create if she collaborated with Crystal Castles. A song whose production is immaculate and envelopes the atmosphere with a beautiful sensuality and intimacy. A song whose vocalist (Fernandez in his case) soars like an angel, hovering delicately in the air and calling us to follow her. This all sounds like pure fantasy, and “Castling” is exactly that.
The song is taken from NRVS LVRS’ forthcoming, sophomore album, Electric Dread, which is out Friday, June 30th.
Tyler Childers – “Whitehouse Road” (Lexington, KY, USA)
RIYL: Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Drive-by Truckers
A year ago, Sturgill Simpson made huge noise for being an independent, under-the-radar country singer who was nominated for multiple Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. His nomination led to the infamous saying, “Who the fuck is Sturgill Simpson?” People are like using that same phrase when Tyler Childers’ name comes up, but it won’t be long before pay serious attention to him.
The native of Lexington, Kentucky isn’t your ordinary artist from the US south. Like Simpson, he is first and foremost a storyteller and second an outlaw when it comes to the music scene. Case in point his new single, “Whitehouse Road”, which is a gritty but twangy number. Even the banjo and slide guitar sound aggressive.
But beyond the fabulous instrumentation that blends “Kentucky soul”, Americana, bluegrass, and southern rock, the 25-year old shares a fantastic story about growing up in the south. He doesn’t make it sound like paradise, but instead explains how some seek the comforts of moonshine, cocaine, and whatever else to survive life in rural America. It’s a hard life when opportunities are limited and one’s optimism has all but disappeared. We could witnessing the rise of the next great American songwriter, and his name is Tyler Childers.
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