Most of the nine songs on the Matinee August 31st edition could be considered throwbacks. The artists channel some of the legendary artists and genres in music, but transforming them with a modern twist. There are a couple, though, who are just innovators. Some would even say pioneers. Take a listen below. Oh, you might want to have some popcorn ready because some of these songs are cinematic.
A. Savage – “Wild, Wild, Wild Horses” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground, Phosphorescent
For the better part of this decade, Andrew Savage and his bandmates in Parquet Courts have blown our minds, amused us, and challenged our preconceived ideas about life and love. Whether it was the punk-ish Light Up Gold or the classic rock tones of Human Performance, their music always had a blistering element. To hear Savage strip things down as a solo artist, as such, is a huge surprise, but a pleasant one.
Going by his stage name A. Savage, the Parquet Courts’ frontman channels his inner Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground and shares a stunning and intimate number with “Wild, Wild, Wild Horses”. This is a terrific love song with Savage opening his soul for us to see. But what stands out about this song is that Savage hasn’t written the typical, gushy number. Instead of writing 50 different ways to say “I love you”, he recites the small moments he’s shared with Alice. They aren’t monumentous events, but the little things that stick with you and are the reasons why you love someone. Simply wonderful.
In keeping with Parquet Courts’ tradition of no social media, Savage does not have a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account.
Alex Lahey – “Lotto in Reverse” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Pat Benatar, Wolf Alice, Black Honey
While the indie world rightfully awaits a superstar Aussie artist’s collaboration with a superstar American rocker, people should also be paying attention to Alex Lahey, whose debut album arrives in five weeks. In just over a year, Lahey has achieved Triple J fame with the single, “You Don’t Think You Like Pope Like Me”, and an excellent debut EP, B-Grade University. These efforts revealed the gifted, young Australian’s ability to create addictive songs with lyrics that are always intelligent and often biting. Her newest single is further evidence of her immense talents.
“Lotto in Reverse” is an edgy indie-rock anthem in the mould of Wolf Alice. The sultry and gritty opening grabs your attention immediately, but then it turns into a sweltering number as the guitars fire up, the rhythms pound harder, and Lahey’s vocals slowly intensify. Her songwriting is fantastic, as she tells the tale of a one-sided and likely abusive relationship. Her depiction of the internal struggle the woman is having is frighteningly poignant and real.
“Am I scared of losing you or am I scared to be alone?
Either way you pretty much can’t treat me any worse.
I went on to take a gamble and won the lotto in reverse.”
We’ll say it again – Alex Lahey will be a star.
Baxter Dury – “Miami” (London, England)
RIYL: Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Destroyer
Seventies and ’80s TV and movie heroes personified calm, cool, and collected. Nothing could rattle them, not even being stuck in a garbage compactor or encountering an angry mobster and his gang whose only desire is to kill him. Exhibiting that same zeal and confidence is English singer-songwriter, Baxter Dury. Well, he does it more tongue-in-cheek, but the man would have been a folk hero if he was performing four decades ago. Instead, we get to enjoy his exploits and entertaining ways, including his awesome new single, “Miami”.
As the funky bass line and lead guitar purr in the background and the sinister but rich strings slice through the ’70s vibe, Dury takes on the role of the perfect man. He is Tony Montana (of Scarface), The Six Million Dollar Man, Morgan Freeman (as he proclaims in the song), and “The Most Interesting Man in the World” (from the Dos Equis commercial) rolled into one. He is the definition of greatness. The song is obviously meant to entertain, taking a poke at those who think they are “the shit” but really aren’t any special. We’ve all encountered such people, and all we can do is shrug and move on. We’ll allow Dury to say the things we’ve always wanted to express.
“Miami” is the lead single from Dury’s forthcoming new album, Prince Of Tears, which comes out October 27th via Heavenly Recordings.
Broen – “Time” (Oslo, Norway)
RIYL: Human League, HAIM, Yumi Zouza
Back in April, we were introduced to Norwegian indie-pop collective Broen, who shared the emoticon single “<3”. While the title made us feel a bit old, the song made us feel young again with its silky smooth grooves. The same could be said for “Time”, which is another timeless classic by one Europe’s fastest-rising bands.
This synth-pop number resonates with the groovy aesthetics of the ’80s. The instrumentation is lithe yet infectious, which leads to involuntary body swaying and even some light dancing. The use of the tuba as the bass is a brilliant move, as it almost sounds like an electronic beat. Front woman Marianna S. A. Røe’s soft vocals are incredibly tantalizing, as if she’s whispering sweet-nothings into our ear. “Time never stops”, she tells us, which is exactly what we’re wishing would happen so we could endlessly enjoy this song.
Broen are Marianna S. A. Røe (vocals), Anja Lauvdal (synths), Lars Ove Fossheim (guitar), Heida Karine Johannesdottir Mobeck (tuba), and Hans Hulbækmo (drums).
Courtney Marie Andrews – “Near You” (Los Angeles via Phoenix, USA)
RIYL: Ryan Adams, Tift Merritt, The Civil Wars
Courtney Marie Andrews had one of our favorite albums of 2016 with her captivating debut, Honest Life. Her heart-wrenching dynamics and simple instrumentation echoed country’s Golden Era of the ’60s and ’70s, and her throwback style made her a rising star in the US and especially abroad. Usually when an artist who makes our final cut releases new material, we’re quick to jump all over it. Yet almost two weeks since Andrews dropped, “Near You”, we’re finally sharing it. Why is a mystery and further making us scratch our heads is how powerful and enrapturing the song is.
“Near You” is a gorgeous tear-jerker that even Ryan Adams would admire from afar. The instrumentation is light yet dark, creating an unnerving and dramatic environment. Andrews’ lovely vocals ache of a woman wanting to be loved again. Her lyrics, though, are what steal the show, as she emotionally sings about having her partner back despite all the lies and his cheating ways. She is willing to forgive if he is willing to love her again.
“I’m not asking the for the moon
Or even the whole truth.
I don’t need to know
Everything about you.
I don’t need the purest spring,
You could have eyes for anyone.
I just want, just want to be near you.
Just want to be near you.”
And just as her storytelling rips out your heart comes a fantastic guitar solo, which will tear away at your soul. This is an engrossing piece of songwriting from one of music’s most underrated talents.
Curtis Harding – “Wednesday Morning Atonement” (Atlanta via Saginaw, MI, USA)
RIYL: Michael Kiwanuka, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield
If we were to make a list of the great genres in music, ’60s soul and R&B music would undoubtedly be near the top. The music of that era wasn’t just funky and groovy, but it defined the struggles of a whole generation of people. Given that it seems parts of the world are returning to policies and practices of those times, it’s not a surprise that old-school soul and R&B are making triumphant returns. It began last year with Michael Kiwanuka’s monumental Love & Hate, and it continues today with Curtis Harding.
Born to a mother who sang gospel and a retired military veteran and having been exposed to many different situations while living across the US, Harding has taken his experiences and lessons and channeled them into a sound that can only be described as beautifully vintage. He is, in other words, a modern-day Al Green, Isaac Hayes, and Curtis Mayfield with the vocal prowess to match. His new single, “Wednesday Morning Atonement”, exemplifies his talents and potential.
The song is pure gold. It is perfection. The orchestration, which some great strings, is dark and gritty, creating a dramatic and gripping soundscape right out of early ’60s New Orleans. Mayfield’s vocals yearn with the urgency of a young man seeking forgiveness from his mother, father, and possibly a higher order for his mistakes.
I’ve been saving,
Working here all alone
Trying to build a happy home.
See most people
Are never given
A second chance to be
A better man may be.”
Brilliant. Harding’s sophomore album, the Danger Mouse-produced Face Your Fear, reveals itself on October 27th via Anti Records. This could be the surprise record of the year.
Jonathan Bree – “You’re So Cool” (Auckland, New Zealand)
RIYL: Gotye, JOSEPH OF MERCURY, Andrew Keoghan
There are three countries right now whose artists are pushing the proverbial limits of music. They are Norway, Iceland, and New Zealand. Maybe it’s because these countries have small populations (particularly the latter two) or the audiences have an insatiable craving to devour sounds that are fresh and exciting. Whatever the case may be, the innovation coming out of Scandinavia and the far south Pacific is just mind-blowing. One of the long-time Kiwi innovators has been Jonathan Bree, who founded the group The Brunettes and indie label Lil’ Chief Records.
As a solo artist, Bree continues to craft extraordinary, far-out music, making him the Thom Yorke of the indie scene. His latest single, “You’re So Cool”, is a perfect illustration of his brilliance. It is dark, moody, and completely engrossing, as the taut, dissonant guitar, the spine-tingling strings, and the harrowing ambient production collide to form a soundscape that seems to come from the dark corners of one’s mind. Bree’s deep vocals and stalker-like storyline further add to the entrancement. It is like a piece of fabulous cinema, where you cannot peel your eyes away from the art in front of you.
The single is available on Bree’s Bandcamp page.
The Vaughns – “Santa Cruz” (Springfield, NJ, USA)
RIYL: Forth Wanderers, Baby In Vain, Yonaka
A year ago, a young band from New Jersey started making waves with their cool and calculated indie rock. Could another band from the Garden State follow in the footsteps of Forth Wanderers and become the talk of the East Coast? Already favorites along the Jersey Shore, The Vaughns will need to expand their reach into Williamsburg and East Village, but with songs like “Santa Cruz” it won’t be long before they’ll be headlining venues like Brooklyn Bowl and The Music Hall.
This latest number is more akin to the brooding and heart-racing indie rock coming from the UK and Scandinavia. The guitar work is meticulously executed, starting off as a tremor before slowly increasing in intensity while the rhythms methodically pace like a sentry on his watch. Vocalist Anna Lies, meanwhile, rises above her bandmates’ orchestration, and her smokey voice is like an arrow piercing through the foreboding environment. Just like her band, Lies delivers a story about a woman who goes against the status quo. A woman who will do as she pleases.
“I’m a woman, I know my process is nonsense.
Yes I’m a woman, I know I shouldn’t even be talking like this.”
If the band continues to forge a path that goes against the grain, people will undoubtedly start to notice, including those on the other side of the Hudson River.
The song is available now on Bandcamp. The Vaughns include David Cacciatore, Anna Lies, Ryan Kenter, and Tom Losito.
RIYL: Dan Auerbach, Blood Red Shoes, Drenge
Over the past two years, a trio of graduates from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music have started to make their mark on the music industry. Maddie Ross has weaved a path within the pop-rock and punk-rock realms. Caitey Notey – a.k.a. Huxlee – is tackling the alt-rock/singer-songwriter areas occupied by Fiona Apple. And the last of the trio is Madison Scheckel, who has opted for a more brasher, edgier garage-rock / blues-rock style. Think Dan Auerbach’s solo work and Blood Red Shoes, and these influences are heard on her new single, “I Can’t Lie”.
With the throbbing percussion, rolling keys, and distorted guitar rumbling behind her, Scheckel channels her inner Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt. Her vocals roar through the trembling noise. The entire dynamic feels like she’s chasing after a lover in a crowded bar and giving him one last piece of her mind. We doubt, however, this will be the last time we hear from Scheckel, who is a star on the rise. Maybe we’ll hear from her, Ross, and Notey come Halloween, assuming they release another song as Identical Triplets in time for the biggest costume party of the year like they did a year ago.
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