In this October 7th issue of The Matinee we bring you 6 bands all in different stages of their careers, all putting out superb music. One with new music for the first time in close to 20 years, a brilliant yet relatively unknown band, a well-loved band heading out on their farewell tour, and a couple of bands right in the thick of it. Shoegaze, indie folk, math rock, post-punk, lo-fi pop, and indie rock are all covered here. I absolutely love every track on this list and I think you will too.
American Football – “Desire Gets In The Way” (Illinois & Colorado, USA)
RIYL: Into It. Over It., Owen, Sunny Day, Real Estate, Braid
When most people talk about an anxiously awaited follow up they may mean 3 years, 5 years, or even 8 or 9 years. American Football fans have waited 17 years for the sophomore follow up to their self titled debut album released in 1999. If the entire album is as good as the single “Desire Gets In The Way”, the wait will have been more than worth it. American Football has knocked it out of the park.
This song is much like the band itself. Cloaked in mystery with an air of magic. That has somewhat to do with their classic odd time signatures but more to do with the chemistry they have together as a band. And they’ve added member Nate Kinsella (bass) this time around. “Desire Gets In The Way” is an intimate, emotional song whose twinkling guitar notes combine with honest lyrics to create a breathtaking tune.
The second album is again titled “American Football”; a reflection of the band. Honest and not trying too hard, just putting it out there as if saying, here, this is who we are. This long awaited album is set to release on October 21st but can be pre-ordered through Polyvinyl Records. One thing is certain, when Steve Holmes, Mike Kinsella, Steve Lamos and Nate Kinsella get together, magic happens.
Communist Daughter – “Balboa Bridge” (St.Paul, Minnesota, USA)
RIYL: Great Lake Swimmers, Jason Isbell, Breathe Owl Breathe
St. Paul, Minnesota’s Communist Daughter is often described as indie pop or indie folk music. They’ve embraced the “folk” label with gusto on their newest song “Balboa Bridge” off of their upcoming album The Cracks That Built The Wall.
Beautifully layered vocals and sparse guitar draw you into the tune where crisp snare and more vocals join in. Your heart breaks as you listen to lyrics of loneliness and escape and a bridge that was once thought of as a “suicide” bridge. But you also can’t help but feel a certain hopefulness and strength. Expressions that are wrought more from self awareness rather than frailty.
The band has made no secret of frontman Johnny Solomon’s struggles with addiction and mental health issues. As John has worked hard on resolving those issues, expect a renewed focus from Communist Daughter. The Cracks That Built The Wall will be available on October 21st.
Dayflower – “Neverfriend” (Leicester, England)
RIYL: My Bloody Valentine, A Place To Bury Strangers, Ride
I’m always a little amazed when I stumble onto incredible music and discover the band is not widely known. My very next thought is “EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT THIS BAND!”. I realize I was yelling that thought, and for good reason with this track from Leicester, England’s Dayflower.
“Neverfriend” is everything good about shoegaze. It’s like looking through a camera lens with a filter on it. Nothing scorching or obtrusively bright. Just brilliant melodies and hooks overlaid by fuzzy vocals, effects laden guitar and delicate percussion. Luscious washes of sound envelope you leaving you all warm and woozy.
They sing “who knows if it ever ends, who know’s if it’s heaven sent.” We hope Dayflower never end. At least not anytime soon. And there’s a good chance we’ll get our wish as they’re currently in studio recording their next single. Dayflower is Alex (vocals/guitar), Chris (guitar), David (bass), and Simon (drums). “Neverfriend” can be found as a double A-side along with the song “Seeing Up”. You can obtain it as a name your price download through Edils Recordings.
Enemies – “itsallwaves” (Kilcoole, Ireland)
RIYL: Foals, Minus The Bear, Maps & Atlases
Listen to this song and prepare to be disappointed. Not because the song is bad, but because it is SO. VERY. GOOD. Disappointment comes in knowing that Enemies have decided to call it quits as a band after the release of this album. If you’d like to know the specifics, you can find the band’s letter to their fans here.
“itsallwaves” is the opening track off of their December 9th album Valuables on Topshelf Records. Your ear will follow the separate tendrils of guitar and percussion ebbing and flowing throughout the song. Gorgeous exuberant vocals tie it all together. “itsallwaves” is aptly named. The song is at times calm and at times cresting with energy. After reading their farewell letter you understand that Lewis Jackson, Mark O’Brien, Eoin Whitfield, and Micheál Quinn have come together and recorded these songs for themselves. A remarkable thing happens when musicians make music for themselves without hiding behind genre rules or a public facade; untethered from the chains and pressure of what fans or a label want and/or expect. True authenticity. That’s where the magic happens. And in the end, even though they may have made the music for THEM, we are so grateful they’ve gifted it to US. Their best work by far, they are absolutely leaving with a bang.
Lifer – “Nightlife” (Brooklyn, New York, USA)
RIYL: Guided By Voices, Sebadoh
Known only as Lifer, this Brooklyn, New York based outfit is putting out some excellent lo-fi pop. The debut EP, From Kuru, out on Forged Artifacts contains this lo-fi gem “Nightlife”.
“If your love life’s killing your night life, is it the right time to get untied?” On the surface Lifer is conversational about a potential break-up. Listen further and you can see the metaphor. Does our clinging to something make us stagnant? Is it time to let go? Steeped in meaning, everything Lifer does seems very deliberate and poetic. Plaintive guitar and steady drums open the track. Hazy echoing vocals repeat that catchy hook. Not only is this cathartic track super catchy, it will probably leave you wondering if there’s anything you need to let go of in your life. Lifer is putting out music that inspires thought.
True to lo-fi form, Lifer’s 6 song EP is available on cassette or digital download on Bandcamp.
Soft Kill – “On The Inside” (Portland, Oregon & Chicago, Illinois, USA)
RIYL: The Cure, The Chameleons, Depeche Mode, The Sisters of Mercy
Echoes of The Cure’s “Charlotte Sometimes” is sure to haunt you as you listen to “On The Inside”. Portland, Oregon’s goth/post-punk band Soft Kill have released their first single on new label Profound Lore Records, a label usually known for supporting extreme metal acts.
Haunting and hollow, the deep baritone vocals usher you into that dark space that is “On The Inside”. Guest vocals provided by none other than The Chameleon’s Mark Burgess. Layered guitar hits some bright notes so as not to be too dark and perfectly timed drum beats will have you lowering and shaking your head in time.
Soft Kill has always reminded me of the Leonard Cohen quote, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Though dark in many ways, they realize and embrace the fact that our cracks often define us. Profound Lore Records will be releasing Softkill’s album Choke on November 4th.
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