Music, Singles, The Revue — July 21, 2017 at 8:47 am

The Matinee July 21st

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Another eclectic and awesome batch of new music singles occupies The Matinee July 21st edition. We won’t say much more because we’re ecstatic that one of the great Canadian bands has released a new single, meaning a new album is on the way! Just to change things up, the list is in reverse alphabetical order.

Wolf Parade – “Valley Boy” (Montreal, Canada)

RIYL: Wolf Parade

After a six-year hiatus, Wolf Parade announced their return a year ago with a cryptic tweet and followed that up with a new EP, which in typical WP fashion was called EP4. It gave a flavor of what long-time followers had long missed while giving a new generation of fans a taste of why they are considered among Canada’s great rock bands. Not surprisingly, the record was among our favorites of 2016. We also had an inkling that they were recording a new album since we listed their fourth LP on our Most Anticipated Albums of 2017. And sure enough…

Wolf Parade have released the first single from Cry Cry Cry, and it’s a surprising little gem. More melodic than their past songs, “Valley Boy” is a stupendous, smile-inducing, and uplifting pop-rock number. The arrangements are calm and breezy at first before the song slowly intensifies and then ebbs back at the fantastic bridge. The ending is pretty awesome with serious jam potential in a live setting. Spencer Krug takes the lead on vocals, and his tenor follows a man who could be best described as a playboy. It’s a cool story that could be the foundation for a movie screenplay.

It’s great to have Wolf Parade back, and “Valley Boy” is another reminder of why many of us here have long been on their bandwagon.

The long-awaited new album, Cry Cry Cry, arrives October 6th from Sub Pop.

Wolf Parade are Spencer Krug (vocals/keys/synth), Dan Boeckner (vocals/guitar/keys), Dante DeCaro (bass), and Arlen Thompson (drums/production).

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Sløtface – “Pitted” (Stavanger, Norway)

RIYL: The Joy Formindable, Black Honey, Muncie Girls

In the 13 months we’ve been covering Sløtface (and it’s been a lot), we’ve come to learn two things. First, the Norwegian quartet have a knack for creating loud, boisterous, but awfully infectious music. Second, frontwoman Haley Shea is one of the great storytellers of her generation, and this actually is understating her talent. No wonder Sløtface have become one of our favorite bands of the past year and definitely right near the top of our list. Heck, they were one of our Artists to Watch in 2017, and they’ll soon graduate to being everyone’s favorite band very soon.

We’re making this prediction now because their debut album is just two months away, and early this morning they released the latest single from it. Predictably, “Pitted” is a stupendous, exhilarating ride through late ’90s alternative indie rock. It is a fiery, rambunctious song that will have you jumping and jittering around your room or office. The guitar riffs are catchy, the bass line jumps out of the speakers, and the punishing drums are chest pounding. Shea’s vocals are once again sweet and her songwriting is immaculate, as she has written an anthem for a generation of young women who want to be themselves. It’s essentially a middle finger to mainstream culture and a celebration of people’s individuality.

This song is awesome. Forget the cup of coffee this morning because “Pitted” will fire up the adrenaline. We’re delirious right now.

Sløtface‘s debut album, Try Not To Freak Out, arrives September 15th via Propeller Recordings. We obviously cannot wait!

The band is comprised of Haley Shea (vocals), Lasse Lokøy (bass), Tor-Arne Vikingstad (guitar), and Halvard Skeie Wiencke (drums).

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The Real Fits – “Roadblock” (Tempe, AZ, USA)

RIYL: Cults, Tennis, Yuck

“Roadblock” is the newest release from Tempe, Arizona-based The Real Fits. The track starts out subdued with an acoustic flair yet progresses into a slow burner that commands your attention. The unique combination of Raquel Willand’s delicate vocals and the interesting timing of the track makes this tune a perfect indie rocker.

The band just released “Roadblock” with the help of producer Dominic Armstrong and couldn’t be happier with the results. The quartet will be in and out of the studio this year continuing to craft their sound for future releases.

This single is available now from their Bandcamp page.

The Real Fits are Raquel Willand (vocals), Nick Smith (bass), Jared Wood (guitar), and Devin Russell (drums).

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Jazz Morley – “Safe Place” (Bournemouth, England)

RIYL: BANKS, GEMS, Oh Wonder

Jazz Morley has just released her smoothest track yet with “Safe Place.” Ms. Morley’s inviting vocals are perfectly framed over just the right amount of groovy electronica. It also has a completely upbeat message about finding your safe place and having someone to count on in life. When she sings, “Let me wrap my arms around you / let me be the only one to have you,” you may be tempted to raise your arms in enthusiastic response. This is the kind of song you queue up for an instant mood boost, as the melodies are rapturous. Jazz Morley occupies a special realm in music not bound to one specific genre. The soulful R&B elements make “Safe Space” a stunning experience, whether you’re just listening or singing along at the top of your lungs while you drive.

Ms. Morley shares a bit about the track:

This is a love song written about where I live and who I have in my life. It marks a shift in my own mental health, happiness and creativity. Being a full-time musician, life can be exciting, spontaneous and hugely rewarding but also chaotic, unpredictable and at times, unstable. For the first time in my life, I am happy with who I am, and where I reside – next to the sea, along the beautiful Dorset coastline.”

“Safe Place” should be added immediately to your chill-out playlist. You can get it now on iTunes.

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Ephrata – “Odds” (Seattle, USA)

RIYL: Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura, Yo La Tengo

It’s about bloody time! Excuse us for a minute, but Ephrata probably know what is meant by those four words. The Seattle-based quartet have been favorites of ours since the early days when we covered them back in February 2014. Since then, they’ve released a couple of singles, but their first full-length remained an elusive goal. That was until two days ago when they shared news that their self-titled debut album will arrive on September 22.

The album’s lead single, “Odds”, is a quite an apt tune for Ephrata to re-introduce themselves to the world considering the obstacles they’ve encountered to take the project to the next level. With the warm, swimming melodies à la Camera Obscura and the blissful art-pop of Belle and Sebastian, “Odds” is a delightful summer tune. It is a song that we like to call a “mood shifter”, turning one’s dark disposition into a sunny one and – as the old adage goes – turning a frown upside down. The smooth harmonies of Skadi Von Reis Crooks and Jules Jones are stirring, while the lyrics mirror the band’s own experience of overcoming obstacles to get to where they are now. Thank goodness they’ve remained resilient all these years, because now the world gets to discover and celebrate their artistry.

Ephrata are Skadi Von Reis Crooks (guitar/vocals), Brady Hall (guitar/vocals), Jules Jones (bass/vocals), and Ben Bromage (drums/vocals).

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Dead Stars – “Pink Clouds” (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: Dinosaur, Jr., Japandroids, The Men

Some days you just want to have a power pop-rock song that gets your blood flowing and helps kick in the adrenaline. Fortunately, Dead Stars have arrived just in time with their brand new single that arrived earlier this week.

“Pink Clouds” is the sonic equivalent of a quadruple espresso. Seriously, the power guitar riffs and jackhammer bass lines that hum throughout the track are akin to J. Mascis’s and Lou Barlow’s masterful work with Dinosaur, Jr. Anyone who grew up listening to the iconic band will immediately understand, and you might even bring out the air guitar or bass and wail away feverishly like a guitar god. The song, however, possesses a Weezer and Blink-182 sensibility with the pop melodies that circle around the power chords. Even lyrically, “Pink Clouds” recalls the ’90s. Heck, frontman Jeff Moore even hollers:

Give me back my youth / Serve me up some truth.”

That was essentially the mantra of the alt-rock / grunge kids of the ’90s, and we should know given we grew up during that era. So not only are Dead Stars waking up our senses, but they’re also making us feel youthful once again. Thanks guys!

Dead Stars’ new album, Perfect Patterns, drops September 1st. The LP can be pre-ordered on Bandcamp.

Dead Stars are Jeff Moore, Jaye Moore, and John Watterberg.

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Bonnie Li – “Mallory” (Berlin, Germany via Hong Kong & Paris, France)

RIYL: Portishead, Elisane, Kate Bush

Bonnie Li’s newest single, “Mallory”, is just flat-out mesmerizing. It’s a hypnotic track that immediately reels you in at the very start of Bonnie Li’s vocal storytelling. As the track floats along, the beat kicks in and draws you in further with trip-hop-inspired beats reminiscent of pioneers like Portishead or Bauhaus. It’s an all-encompassing tune that forces you to hit repeat to be sure you didn’t miss anything. Li’s otherworldly sound is shaped in part by her global influences. Having grown up in Hong Kong and worked in San Francisco, Paris, and Berlin, Li infuses her experiences in those cities in this vibrant, haunting song.

The story behind the track is even more intriguing as Ms. Li explains:

“It is about a ‘then forsaken by existence’ girl I’d met in a creepy bar in Paris. She came in, sat down next to me and we had a drink together. We then walked all night long across the city as she was telling me about her life. Once an accomplished ice-skater then turned stripper she was alone, fragile and continuously taken advantage of for being gullible, trusting the wrong ‘friends’ and consequently making one wrong choice after another. I knew instantly we’d met for a reason. We became very close friends through thick and thin, and I’m happy to say she’s managed to turn her life around.”

The single is out now via ICEA (Icons Creating Evil Art). Bonnie Li is joined on this project by French instrumentalist/producer Elia M.

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Bel Heir – “Washed Up” (Philadelphia, USA)

RIYL: DREAMERS, The Chain Gang of 1974, Sir Sly

“Washed Up” is the newest release from Philadelphia-based alt-rock trio Bel Heir. it’s an energetic rocker with a surf rock vibe that keeps you moving. The trio have been consistently creating upbeat, addicting indie rock since their debut in 2013. The buzz is really building around these talents, thanks to their SXSW performance last year as well as their live shows on the US east coast. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world realizes what we already know: both musically and lyrically, these guys know how to craft fierce hooks that are absolutely irresistible.

“Washed Up” is lyrically witty as it chronicles what used to be acceptable is now just no longer “cool.” The band explains the inspiration for the tune, saying:

“‘Washed Up’ was written about the introduction to the ‘real world’. From teenager to adult. Seeing things as they are and not as they used to be. It’s about the coming of age and realization that not everything is as it seems.”

The band’s new six-song EP, Washed Up, is out today. You can get your copy at iTunes while their previous releases are available at Bandcamp. Fans in Philadelphia can catch their next show on August 19 with ticket info here.

Bel Air are Patrick Mencel, Paul Mencel, and Ian Walsh.

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Arrows Of Love – “Desire” (London, England)

RIYL: INHEAVEN, Blaenavon, Black Mountain

There are some bands where we kick ourselves for not learning about them sooner. Bands whose music makes you say, “Oh wow!”, the first time you hear them and then for every subsequent song thereafter. This is the case with Arrows Of Love, the five-piece group who have crushing London’s underground alternative scene for the better part of this decade.

Today their sophomore album, PRODUCT, arrives, and they’ve shared the second single from it. In a word, “Desire” is massive. It is a nearly six-minute epic that is eerily delirious and majestic. The first half is a sheer wall of crushing reverb and titanic rhythms, and this soundscape reflects the war in the dystopian world the band has created. It then suddenly comes to a near-complete stop, methodically pacing through the desolate, barren world. Adding to the song’s menacing and dark quality are Nima Teranchi’s spine-tingling vocals and Nick Cave-esque songwriting, and the two are utterly captivating. “Desire”, in other words, is like a Stephen King novella put to music. Absolutely epic!

Pre-order PRODUCT today via their PledgeMusic campaign. The LP officially drops August 11th via I’m Not From London Records.

Arrows of Love are Nima Teranchi, Nuha Ruby Ra, Alex Brown, Craig Doporto, and Phillip Stakem.

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