The Matinee October 17th returns with nine more songs as always. There’s quite a bit of variety from somber folk-rock tracks to far-out stoner, psychedelic rock to alternative R&B. Or maybe you want some soul music or a song that takes you back to the ’80s. Whatever your mood, hopefully one of these songs will fulfill your needs.
ABISHA – “All That” (London, England)
RIYL: FKA Twigs, Ramsey, M.I.A.
There’s a new name to start watching in the area of alternative R&B, whose style is reminiscent of trailblazers FKA Twigs and M.I.A. Her name is ABISHA, who last week released her striking debut single, “All That”.
Not much is known about the 22-year old, London native other than she is going against the grain of contemporary R&B. Whereas most newcomers would try to blow your ears with overdubs, adrenaline-inducing beats, and repetitive lyrics, ABISHA has crafted a song that most seasoned artists would envy. As the stark but sensual production work tantalizingly hums in the background, ABISHA’s sublime vocals take center stage. An endearing quality rings through each word, as she brings us inside her mind during a moment of weakness. She confesses, “What I did was wrong, I knew this / I’m not trying to make excuses”, and she’s left with the difficult decision of choosing between two people she loves.
Not only does her music fall outside mainstream boundaries, but her songwriting is also extremely mature and eye-opening. Hopefully, she’ll continue down this path and shake up the industry.
Alternative streaming and purchasing links for “All That” are available here.
Anna Burch – “2 Cool 2 Care” (Detroit, USA)
RIYL: Jenny Lewis, Julia Jacklin, Prom Queen
There are thousands of talented artists waiting for their big break, and the vast majority will unfortunately never be discovered. Anna Burch was almost one of them until Fred Thomas, himself an extremely underappreciated singer-songwriter, sent some of Burch’s demos to his label, Polyvinyl Records. As fate would have it, the super-indie label was sold, and Burch was quickly signed. Quickly, one of her demos has been mastered, and it’s like an early Christmas gift.
“2 Cool 2 Care” is a gem of a tune. The song falls under the “folk-pop” genre, but this isn’t the typical Ed Sheeran, overly pretentious stuff. Instead, Burch has mixed ’50s and ’60s bubble pop with ’70s-era Laurel Canyon to create a song that is engaging, addictive, and worth several shoulder shimmies. The music will remind you of the dog days of summer as will Burch’s lyrics. Her story is about unreciprocated love, but similar songs cannot compare with her witty songwriting and breezy harmonies. This song is an absolute delight.
Thank you Fred Thomas for introducing Burch to the world.
The single is out now via Polyvinyl Records. Other streaming and downloading links are available here. Alternatively, watch her self-directed video, which is exactly like the song – smart, engaging, and smile-inducing.
Band of Gold – “I Wanna Dance With You Again” (Oslo, Norway)
RIYL: Fleetwood Mac, Cults, The Bangles
How does a band win the Nordic Music Prize, which is equivalent to the Mercury Prize in the UK and the Polaris Music Prize in Canada, yet still hover under the radar? That is the case with Oslo band Band of Gold, who beat out Björk and Jenny Hval to take home the award in 2015. For unknown reasons, the project started by Nina Mortvedt and Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen continue to be underestimated. Maybe things change when their yet-to-be-titled sophomore album comes out in early in 2018. In the meantime, the band has released a new song to get us salivating for what is to come and encourage us to revisit their self-titled debut.
“I Wanna Dance With You Again” is dazzling. It possesses the sensuality and immediacy of Fleetwood Mac’s most tender songs, but a modern-day synth-pop edge a la Cults cuts through the track. The song, as such, is made for a long, lonesome drive through the countryside where the only things that can be seen are the memories dancing through your mind. Mortvedt’s vocals are stunning, and they alone are like a dream that you will want to re-hear over and over again. Her lyrics, meanwhile, will have you thinking about the one who got away or the time you re-united with her/him. Hmmm… for the expected Top Gun remake, maybe this song could be the one played when Maverick (Tom Cruise) and Charlie (Kelly McGillis) reconnect.
The single is out on Jansen Records.
Desi Valentine – “My Worst Enemy” (Los Angeles, USA via London, England)
RIYL: Vintage Trouble, Jalen N’Gonda, Fitz and The Tantrums
Last month, the world lost one of its most magnetic souls in Charles Bradley, whose very presence illuminated every room and venue he entered and every festival he entered. People young and old, fellow musicians, and label executives would flock to see him because he was a unique human being who made everyone else also think momentarily they, too, were special. He’ll be missed, but his legacy will live on in the likes of artists such as Desi Valentine.
The young Londoner who currently resides in Los Angeles leans more in the upbeat, vintage soul genre, but there’s no questioning his energy and brilliance. His previous single, “Fate Don’t Know You”, shared similarities to Mr. Bradley’s message of undying love. This time with “My Worst Enemy”, however, he turns the tables on how love and one’s ego can be all consuming. How obsession can be our downfall.
Despite the more dour tone in the lyrics, musically this song is dynamite. Valentine’s voice is classic soul, and his style belongs back in the ’40s and ’50s. His backing band is impeccable, creating a groovy, funky number that is laced with a dark, sharp edge to represent one’s ultimate downfall. Simply awesome by an artist who soon will win over audiences like Mr. Bradley did nearly a decade ago. Let’s hope, however, more people discover Valentine sooner than they did Mr. Bradley.
Other purchasing and streaming links are available here.
Foreign Air – “Lying” (North Carolina & Washington, D.C., USA)
RIYL: Arctic Monkeys, Portugal .The Man, Lewis Del Mar
Foreign Air are one of the great DIY success stories of the past two years. They’ve developed a rabid, cult following across the US, and every single – well it seems like every song – goes viral online. Their early works reminded us of a young Portugal. The Man, but as the calendar heads towards 2018 it seems Jacob Michael and Jesse Classen are slightly reinventing themselves. So it seems with “Lying”.
This song is dynamite. It’s not as anthemic or boisterous as their previous singles, such as “Echo” and “In The Shadows”, but artistically it’s their best song to date. A hallow indie-rock vibe akin to A.M.-era Arctic Monkeys and a touch of electro-funk stream through Foreign Air’s trademark pop-rock approach. The result is a gritty and stark number that will cause heads to wave back and forth, hips to shake from side to side, and eyes to widen in awe. Lyrically, the song is clever, as the duo explain the various reasons for why people lie. Sometimes it is for love, other times it is for selfish reasons, but most of the time it’s because we cannot handle the truth.
Foreign Air have a handful of dates schedule for the rest of the year, including this Saturday in St. Louis. Check here for dates and information.
Pale Grey – “Seasons” (Brussels, Belgium)
RIYL: alt-J, Wild Beasts, Future Islands
Although Pale Grey have been around for nearly 10 years, we only discovered them last month when they released “Blizzard”. That song was like being struck by lightning – we were stunned. It seems that others are taking notice because last week they were invited by the multi-purpose company Kitsuné (indie label, clothing, publishing) to share a quick song. The tune they released is “Seasons”, which is indeed a continuation of “Blizzard”.
The newest single is a short one, registering at just 2 minutes, 22 seconds. However, in this short time, their artistry shines through. The synth and percussive beats simmer below the surface to create a calm, serene, and sensual soundscape. This is music that one could only hear in dreams, yet the Belgian trio have made it real. The lush vocals accentuate the gorgeous, dream-like realm, telling the story of two people growing older together and remaining in love. Yet there is also fear in being with the same person because, as the band describes, when she goes away our lives will come to an end. Hopefully, we’ll get to hear the continuation of this beautiful story very soon.
The band consists of Gilles, Maxime, Janjannes, and Simon.
Twain – “The Sorcerer” (Franklin County, VA, USA)
RIYL: John Lennon, Nick Drake, Big Thief
In a short three months, Twain, the project started by Virginia native Mt Davidson, has emerged from one of folk and indie rock’s most unknown hidden gems into a slightly better known hidden gem. Davidson and his band’s popularity still doesn’t come near to what it should be, but it has increased five-fold thanks to outstanding performances across the summer festival season. By next summer when they will be playing at marquee festivals like Newport Folk and Glastonbury (yes, we’re calling it now), their star will have exploded. We fully anticipate that their new album, Rare Feeling, which arrives this Friday, October 20th via Keeled Scales, will be among the best albums of the year, and the latest single, “Sorcerer”, only raises expectations.
Davidson’s intimate and vivid songwriting is akin to John Lennon and Nick Drake. He has a remarkable gift for turning his own personal moments and making them ours, where we feel the song is about us. On “Sorcerer”, he allows us to read his journal, where he describes his love for someone already taken, the passing of his friends, and his own vulnerability. Adding to the song’s intimacy are the soft, folk-rock environment crafted by his band mates Peter Urzo Pezzimenti and Ken Woodward and Davidson’s own vocals. The moment from 3:10 to 3:33 where his voice reaches its crescendo is breathtaking. It is an “OMG” moment. The entire song, meanwhile, is one that might have you shed a tear or at least ponder your own existence.
Two Cartoons – “Hospitality” (Auckland via Dunedin, New Zealand)
RIYL: Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, Foxygen, Weezer
In the ’80s, there was a flood of unpretentious bands who took the mundane events of ordinary life and turned them into humorous numbers. These groups essentially turned songs into a sitcom episode, but crunched into less than four minutes. Sure, there’s Mac DeMarco, and Weezer is sticking kicking around. Neither, however, turn the ordinary into the hysterical in the same way that Auckland-based Two Cartoons do. These guys, along with fellow Dunedin native Kane Strang, are modern-day Stephen Malkmus, and their new single, “Hospitality”, further validates this opinion.
“Hospitality” is a fun and amusing tune. A classic ’60s and early-’70s rock vibe rings through the air, and it is akin to the Rolling Stones or what Foxygen has currently been crafting. The lyrics, though, are a treat, as Bradley Craig and Isaac McFarlane explain what it’s like to work in the service industry. Anyone who has been employed in a fast-food joint, restaurant, supermarket, shoe store, hotel, whatever will completely emphasize with the duo’s experience and laugh at the memories. There are some awesome lines in this song, such as:
“I love a challenge, and I work great with a team.
I can count cash.
(No need your minimum wage.)
So where can I stay?
(There’s a bed out in the back)
I love a challenge until it becomes a routine!”
Then there’s this excerpt:
“This job is a stepping stone.
(From dishes to till.)
Before long I’ll be out of here.
(You’ll die here!)
Toe-ma-to, too-may-to, chi-pottle, chipotle!”
The song is taken from Two Cartoons’ forthcoming, new EP, The Great British Hangover, and it arrives November 18th. That’s going to be one fun day.
Weird Owl – “Invisibility Cloak” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Ty Segall, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard on valium, Black Mountain
It’s been a while since we shared some stoner-infused psychedelic rock. Fortunately for us, Weird Owl‘s new album has just arrived, and it perfectly satisfies our need to bang our heads, whirl the air guitar, and just loose ourselves for a little bit. So what song should we pick from the LP to share? It has to be the one that mixes a bit of Ty Segall with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – i.e., “Invisibility Cloak”.
This song absolutely rocks. It’s not an intense, psychedelic blazer, but rather it is a methodical and sinister piece. The power guitar riffs make the track, creating that self-conscious feeling that one is being watched. The addition of the synths also contribute to the eerie feeling while the shallow vocals sound like they’re coming from another dimension. This makes a lot of sense since the story is set back in the medieval ages and speaks about a woman coming from a different dimension to unleash the apocalypse. Sounds like the plot to a summer blockbuster film, but it’s packed into an exhilarating 4 1/2-minute experience that is better than any recent Michael Bay movie.
If you like this song, check out Weird Owl’s new album, Bubblegum Brainwaves, which is available now on Bandcamp.
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