The Matinee for June 17th features a variety of fun, fresh, funky tunes because it’s the weekend! To celebrate, we’ve got seven new singles, including indie post-punk, garage rock, and a bit of groovy electro-dance. We’ve also got some breathtaking new voices on the folk/pop scene. Today’s featured artists are from the USA, England, Israel, and Sweden. As always, we will have even more new music tomorrow on the Saturday Sampler.
Arbor Labor Union – “Mr. Birdsong” (Atlanta, USA)
RIYL: Parquet Courts, Ought, early Pearl Jam
Cosmic indie post-punk: if that seems like an unusual genre descriptor, it’s probably because there aren’t many bands that fall into that realm. Think loud and out there, then prepare for blast-off into an orbit of blistering rock courtesy of Georgia indie band Arbor Labor Union. They just released a new album about a month ago, and “Mr. Birdsong” is the raucous opening track. If you like the free-spirited post-punk style of Parquet Courts and Ought, then Arbor Labor Union is in your sonic wheelhouse.
The band’s sound is tight with echoes of early grunge-era college rock. “Mr. Birdsong” is the kind of song that needs to be cranked loud to fully appreciate its depth. Its seven-plus minutes length gives you ample time to dive deep into its vast expanse. The new album, I Hear You, is the follow-up to their 2014 debut album on the SubPop label. Since then, the band changed their name but not their sound. Their previous moniker (Pinecones) doesn’t quite have the edgy connotation that Arbor Labor Union does. Fans in the southern U.S. can catch them performing tonight at the famed 40 Watt Club in Athens.
Cymbals Eat Guitars – “Wish” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Cloud Nothings, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Antlers
New York indie rockers Cymbals Eat Guitars formed nearly a decade ago, and they show no sign of slowing down. This new single is our first taste from their upcoming fourth album, Pretty Years, which is due out this fall. “Wish” is a solid dose of what these guys do best: it’s a wall of sound full of Springsteen-inspired sax and a dose of Bowie-esque glam rock. Sure, you can hear some ’70s and ’80s influences here, but it’s not trying to emulate a vintage sound. This single feels more like a tip of the hat to the legends. The darker emotions that tinted their last album (2014’s LOSE) are long gone. In its place is an abundance of energized optimism. That energy was captured on the album by Grammy-winning producer John Congleton (who’s worked with everybody in the business, from David Byrne to St. Vincent), so we’re excited to hear more ASAP.
Cymbals Eat Guitars are: Joseph D’Agostino (vocals, guitar), Brian Hamilton (keys, vocals), Matthew Whipple (bass, vocals), and Andrew Dole (drums).
Garden City Movement – “She’s So Untouchable” (Tel Aviv, Israel)
RIYL: Daft Punk, Caribou, Chromeo
It’s been a year since we heard anything new from Israeli indie electronic band Garden City Movement. Their 2015 EP, Modern West, yielded some terrific songs, but news of a full follow-up album have been scarce until now. Earlier this month they dropped a surprise new single, “She’s So Untouchable”, renewing our anticipation for more new musical riches. This track starts out with an ’80s synth-pop vibe (reminiscent of Double’s “The Captain of Her Heart”), but it quickly segues into a danceable Daft Punk groove. The R&B accents and the funky synths make this an irresistible number. It’s a perfect soundtrack for dancing your way into the weekend.
Garden City Moment are: Roi Avital (keyboard, guitar, loops, vocals), Johnny Sharoni (samplers, percussion, vocals), and Yoav Saar (keyboard, samplers, guitar).
Maggie Rogers – “Alaska” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Sylvan Esso, Edie Brickell (if she went electronic)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you’ve probably heard of Maggie Rogers. She’s the student singer/songwriter from New York University who impressed the hell out of Pharrell Williams with her then-unfinished song. (If you missed it, here’s the video. Go watch it [starting at 18:15], then come back. We’ll wait. Trust us, it’s worth your time just to see Pharrell’s facial expressions as he hears the song.) OK, now that you’re up to speed, you can appreciate the finished product that is her new single, “Alaska”.
As a student whose first instrument was the typically country-sounding banjo, Maggie creates music that sounds anything but country. “Alaska” is an incredibly organic fusion of rhythmic dance music with electronic samples over folk-inspired vocals. The result is a melody crisp as a cool mountain breeze. You won’t hear anything else like this today, because she is a one-of-a-kind artist who defies comparison. We hope there is more where this came from soon, because we’re completely entranced by this song.
You can find her previous recordings on her Bandcamp page.
Magic Potion – “Cola Boyys” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Salad Boys, King Tuff, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
Last spring we shared a new single from the Swedish indie band Magic Potion. They released their four song Melt EP last June, and now they’re back with their full-length debut album, Pink Gum. The name conjures images of carefree days spent basking in the sun. “Cola Boyys” does indeed have a bright, summery essence, but it’s not mindless sugary pop. The hazy layers of reverb-heavy guitars here make this a fun summer song. Call it indie slacker pop if you will, but be prepared to have this song bouncing around in your head all weekend. It’s deliciously mellow. You might want to have a pack of gum handy when you listen, because the album art will definitely make you crave some.
Magic Potion are: Gustaf Montelius, Andreas Sandberg, Kristoffer Byström, and Johan Harrius.
The Rutabega – “Nosy Neighbors” (South Bend, Indiana USA)
RIYL: Neutral Milk Hotel, Sunny Day Real Estate, Guided By Voices
The purest rock often comes from America’s heartland. When midwestern grit meets hardworking ethics, you get loud, honest, unpretentious rock & roll – like Hüsker Dü, Wilco, and Soul Asylum. This indie rock duo from Indiana falls somewhere in between those acts.
When you listen to The Rutabega, you are instantly transported to the laid-back ’90s when indie rock was more about sound than style. (How else could flannel shirts and ripped jeans become so fashionable?) The Rutabega are veterans of that era (they’ve been around nearly 15 years) with the indie garage rock bona fides to back up their retro-influenced product. You can detect some grunge elements in this single, but it is unmistakably modern.
“Nosy Neighbors” has jangly, power pop riffs on par with The Replacements. With each listen you wonder how a duo can create such a big sound. How these guys have eluded the mainstream spotlight for so long is a mystery. The release of their forthcoming LP, Unreliable Narrator, should change that.
The Rutabega are: Josh Hensley (guitar, vocals) and Garth Mason (drums).
Xylaroo – “On My Way” (London, England)
RIYL: Tegan & Sara, Rilo Kiley, Oh Pep!, First Aid Kit
Emerging indie folk-pop duo Xylaroo might be your favourite new artist discovery this year. While they sound like they’re from the deep American south, sisters Coco and Holly Chant are actually from… well, all over, really. They call London home now, but they grew up in New Guinea, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Switzerland. Maybe all that moving around influenced their free-spirited sound? One thing is certain: the only thing better than their impeccable harmonies (and their fantastic band name!) are their brilliant, wry lyrics.
“On My Way” starts out with an admission that they’ve “been drinking for two whole days” and “it’s not that I’m bitter, just a little pissed off”. These tongue-in-cheek lines are paired with upbeat acoustic guitar, and the result is instant happiness. They cite Dolly Parton, Nina Simone, and Jenny Lewis as influences, which makes sense. The sassy runs deep with this duo, as does the talent. This song is just a taste of what awaits you on their debut album, Sweetooth.
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