The Matinee September 29th edition features nine new songs. In addition to spanning the globe, there are a mix of genres also included. Psychedelic rock, jangle-pop, ’60s-style rock, alt-pop, funk and R&B, electro-pop, electro-rock, and crushing ballads are all on today’s mini-playlist. Take a listen to these great singles below.
Arbes – “Sun On My Back” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Real Estate, Pearl Charles, HOMESHAKE
By now, you know that Melbourne has a great jangle pop-rock scene. So it is not surprising to learn that a new band has emerged from the south Australian city, although Arbes is not your ordinary jangle-pop band. The trio are helping to take the Melbourne scene to another level by sprinkling in tinges of ’60s psychedelic-pop. The result is a shimmering, dreamy sound, as heard on their new single “Sun On My Back”.
The jangly notes that radiate from Sam Pannifex’s guitar and Anita Agathangelou’s titillating drumming are Real Estate-esque. Jess Zanoni’s vocals, meanwhile, have the dreaminess and smokiness of Pearl Charles. The song is intoxicating, where you feel like you are in a haze while basking under the sun. “Sun On My Back” is the perfect song for a lazy summer day, which is arriving shortly in the southern hemisphere. For those up north, it is one last memory of the long, sunny days.
“Sun On My Back” is the first single off the band’s upcoming, new EP, Psalms. It will be released on October 7th, and the EP can be pre-ordered on their Bandcamp page.
Communist Daughter – “Hold Back” (Minneapolis, USA)
RIYL: Foals, Frightened Rabbit, Belle and Sebastian
Some people are extremely fortunate. Not in the sense that they have been given immense wealth, but that they have been given multiple chances to make things right. Many people never full take advantage of the opportunities while some eventually find their way. Johnny Solomon, the mastermind behind Minneapolis indie band Communist Daughter, is one of those who finally decided to control.
Solomon’s story is fascinating, as for years he struggled with addiction and mental health problems. He has been in prison and checked into rehabilitation centers multiple times and in several states. He even tried isolating himself in a small town in Wisconsin, which resulted in him writing songs for Communist Daughter’s critically acclaimed, debut album, 2010’s Soundtrack to the End. The album essentially was Solomon’s eulogy or even will to himself, but it resonated with thousands of people. The band became indie stars that year. Solomon, though, was still struggling, and he checked himself in to one last treatment facility. Now going on five years, Solomon is clean, and his sight is crystal clear.
Solomon along his wife Molly Solomon, Adam Switlick (bass), Steven Yasgar (drums), Al Weirs (guitar), and Dillon Marchus (keys) are preparing the launch of their sophomore album. The lead single is the appropriately titled “Hold Back”. The song is stunning. The heavy rhythms and shimmering guitar lines at the start of the track are heart-racing. But when Johnny’s and Molly’s vocals kick in, they are light, airy, and breathtaking. The arrangements are fantastic, but the lyrics are the showstoppers. The song feels like an apology by Johnny for what he’s done to others, yet it is a euphoric track about new beginnings and living life. “Hold Back” is absolutely brilliant and one of the most thoughtful songs of the year.
Communist Daughter’s new album will be out later this year. The band is currently raising funds for The Cracks That Built The Wall on PledgeMusic.
Dama Scout – “Forget It’s Good” (Glasgow, Scotland & London, England)
RIYL: Mitski, Jay Som, Cocteau Twins
Very little is known about Dama Scout other than that the trio split their time in two of the UK’s biggest cities. Well, there is one more thing we know – their debut single, “Forget It’s Good” is pretty awesome.
Reminiscent of Mitski and Jay Som, the song is one part a warm and intimate indie-rock ballad as the vocals are endearing. Just as you get lulled into the dreamy melodies, the band breaks out the fuzzed, gritty guitars a la the Cocteau Twins. Consequently, you’re left swaying to sweet, bedroom intimacy that permeates throughout the song and then suddenly rocking out when the guitars go into overdrive. The multiple transitions are brilliant, perfectly complementing this song about a distant time full of great memories and low points.
There isn’t any word on what Dama Scout have in store, but if it’s anything like “Forget It’s Good” we might just be witnessing the birth of the UK’s next big indie stars.
Fascinations Grand Chorus – “When You Make Up Your Mind” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: The Shangri-Las, The Ronettes, Springtime Carnivore
Earlier this year, Fascinations Grand Chorus, the project of Stephanie Cupo and Andrew Pierce, caught our attention with their classic pop sound on “Welcome” and “Growing”. These two young singer-songwriters are making music that their grandparents listened to as kids – unabashedly ’50s and ’60s bubble-gum pop. While many will associate Bruno Mars Meghan Trainor with the retro-pop revival (although that’s far from the truth), Cupo and Pierce are mastering it. Their new single, “When You Make Up Your Mind”, perfectly demonstrates their talents.
This song is classic ’60s pop. It dates back to a time when drive-in diners were the buzz, and young people were cruising in their Lincoln Continental convertibles. With the jangly guitar licks, the danceable rhythms, and Cupo’s fantastic vocals, this song would have been perfect at the high school prom. It’s fun, catchy, and has an understated sultriness. As such, all you want to do is shake your hips, move your feet, and playfully tease your dance partner. Thank goodness for Fascinations Grand Chorus for bringing back this classic pop sound.
“When You Make Up Your Mind” is the lead single from Cupo and Pierce’s sophomore EP, Actor/Actress. Its arrival date is to be announced. In the meantime, hear their debut EP on SoundCloud.
Folie – “Full Time” (Florida, USA)
RIYL: Will Butler, Diane Coffee
Two singles into his career and producer/singer-songwriter Folie has become somewhat of an online sensation. His debut single, “Sorrow”, did very well, but his second song is doing better.
“Full Time” is a blazing, electro-rock tune that just takes off from the start. The keys and electric drum machine are used to excellent effect, and even the slap beats are tolerable. But what makes the song are the energy, the intensity in Folie’s vocals, and the songwriting. Lots of songs within this genre would rely on repetitive lyrics and tell a frivolous story, but not Folie. Instead, he has written a thoughtful story about a person who is spiraling out of control and struggling to get her life in order. Just goes to show that it is possible to write poignant songs even within the electronic genre.
Joy Atlas – “Altitude” (Newcastle, England)
RIYL: San Fermin, Field Music, Lower Dens
It didn’t take us long to become fans of English quartet Joy Atlas. Specifically, it took one song when they released their debut single, “Dismount”, approximately 15 months ago. Since that time they have dazzled us with some of the most inventive alt-pop being created today. Late last week, they shared their newest track, “Altitude”, which goes beyond and reaches higher than their previous efforts.
Their last single, “Drop Your Sword”, for instance, was a warm, soothing, even soulful number. With “Altitude”, Joy Atlas achieve a more majestic and cinematic soundscape. The song is unlike anything they have created to date, highlighted by frontwoman Beccy Owen’s soaring and captivating vocals soar. The arrangements, meanwhile, are a collision of sound and influences. Symphonic elements, electronic beats, and oft-kilter pop melodies are all fantastically fused together. When all these things are combined, the result is a song that is simultaneously dramatic, euphoric, and highly immersive. Joy Atlas just might have written their best song to date, which is saying an awful lot.
Joy Atlas are Beccy Owen (singer/songwriter), Adam Kent (keyboard/synth), Ian “Dodge” Paterson (bass), and Ged Robinson (drums).
Major Stars – “For Today” (Boston, USA)
RIYL: Black Mountain, Heron Oblivion, Comets on Fire,
There are so many bands that have been plying their trade for years with little notoriety. However, they continue to make music not because they’re hoping for a breakthrough but rather they just love doing it. That is the case with Major Stars, which originally started off as the project of Wayne Rogers in 1997. Rogers has since stepped back to be the band’s principal guitarist, and the band has expanded to include Kate Biggar (guitar), Tom Leonard (bass), Dave Dougan (guitar), Casey Keenan (drums), and Hayley Thompson-King (lead vocals).
This may be the year, however, that the Boston-based band lives up to their name. Signed with the great Drag City Records, the sextet will launch album number 9 later this autumn. The lead single is the rocking “For Today”. The song verges of prog-rock levels, but fortunately it doesn’t quite go over that cliff. Instead, the track resonates with ’80s-style arena-rock with the full-frontal guitar assault, the awesome solo, and the crashing percussion. Thompson-King’s vocals, meanwhile, is the perfect foil to Major Stars’ sound, providing a lighter, more captivating tone to balance the edgy, gritty arrangements. This formula worked for Black Mountain, and hopefully Major Stars will replicate their success.
Their new album, Motion Set, is due November 11th.
SHELLS – “Jailbird” (Kent, England)
RIYL: Ofelia K, Poema, Charlotte Day Wilson
A lot of electro- and indie-pop music sounds the same. The arrangements, the storyline, and even the lyrics are all cookie cutter. Then comes along someone who breathes new life into the genre and makes you reconsider the possibilities. English singer-songwriter SHELLS could be that maverick. Actually, on her stunning new single, “Jailbird”, she is just that.
Musically, “Jailbird” is beautiful. Despite the many layers, the song has a bedroom intimacy feel thanks in large part to the minimalist production. The approach allows SHELLS’ soft vocals to stand out. What truly stands out, however, is SHELLS’ songwriting.
The immediate reaction is that this is just another one about a relationship, but “Jailbird” is not your typical love song. Like the production work, “Jailbird” is steeped with layers and message. On the one hand, it is a song about control and abuse in a realtionship. Whereas most songwriters would stay focused on this situation, SHELLS masterfully moves the story along. She describes her escape for her captor, and how she has taken control of her life and moved on. On the other hand, SHELLS shares a message about self-liberation. A message about freeing one’s mind and believing that she can survive and succeed on her own. That she will not be dependent on anyone.
These two messages are immensely powerful, as SHELLS has turned a song about crisis into one of empowerment and belief. Indeed, SHELLS is a maverick in today’s music industry, and she is well on her way to being one of her generation’s best songwriters. Hopefully people will start recognizing her talents.
Wizaard – “The Spills” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Astronauts, etc., Unknown Mortal Orchestra, The Temptations, Four Tops
More than a year, Wizaard caught our attention with their single, “Mountain of the Underground”. The song was POND-esque psychedelic rock or, in other words, one really trippy experience. But instead of continuing down this path, the Montreal-based quintet have remade themselves.
Taking a page out of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s and Tame Impala’s songbooks, Wizaard have infused funk-soul and R&B into their neo-psychedelic sound. Their new single, “The Spills”, consequently, is one really groovy song. This isn’t contemporary funk nor progressive soul. The song incorporates old-school ’70s and ’80s music. There are splashes of The Temptations, Four Tops, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, and even Michael Jackson. The track, though, still has a psychedelic vibe, which is Kevin Parker-esque. Get your dancing shoes on because the only possible thing to do with “The Spills” is to move.
“The Spills” is the lead single from Wizaard’s forthcoming, debut full-length. Starfish Buffet arrives October 21. Wizaard are Jean-Nicolas Doss, Charles Rioux, Marlene Brando, Fred Le Tourneux-Gagnon, and Al Nadeau-Farley.
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