The week is off to a great start in terms of music, and The Matinee November 15th edition will hopefully continue the trend. Ten songs are featured below. The descriptions are brief because there have been a few dramatic events down here in New Zealand.
RIYL: Neko Case, k.d. lang, Laura Veirs
Earlier this year, Neko Case, kd lang, and Laura Veirs formed the super trio case/lang/veirs and released their terrific self-titled debut album. As a reminder of their individual and collective greatness not to mention their prognosticating skills, they shared “Supermoon” yesterday. The three-part harmonies, led by Veirs, are stirring while the orchestration if haunting but beautiful. The storytelling, as usual, is impeccable, telling the tale of the early pioneers and settlers as they re-start their lives in the new world. The song is just the tip of the iceberg of case/lang/veirs, which is out on ANTI- Records.
Cigarettes After Sex – “K” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Rhye, Mazzy Starr, Red House Painters
One of the great success stories of the past decade is Cigarettes After Sex, which started off as a dorm-room project of Greg Gonzalez. Without any support from a label, Gonzalez and his band’s success grew through the internet, as their hazy, immersive music were endlessly played on YouTube, SoundCloud, and every streaming service imaginable. What’s even more impressive is that their popularity has escalated through a measured approach, as they have only released one EP to date along with a handful of other singles.
It has been a little over a year since they released their cover of “Keep On Loving You”, and a few hours ago they shared their latest. “K.” is a gorgeous, breathtaking number. It is a story of love and heartbreak. A song that is fixated on memories and the last threads of hope. Gonzalez’s vocals are sincere and stunning. The stark orchestration is sublime, giving the song a bedroom intimacy. “K.” is like a long, beautiful kiss goodnight that you never want it to end.
Cigarettes After Sex are Greg Gonzalez (vocals/electric guitar/acoustic guitar), Phillp Tubbs (keyboards), Randy Miller (bass), and Jacob Tomsky (drums).
Dama Scout – “All In Too” (Glasgow, Scotland & London, England)
RIYL: Colleen Green, A Place To Bury Strangers, Queue
Two months ago, newcomers Dama Scout made an emphatic introduction with their dreamy, fuzzed-out debut single, “Forget It’s Good”. Showing that they’re not a one-trick pony, their second single is a much more energetic and fiery single. Starting off as a simple, hook-laden pop-rock tune, the UK band amp up the intensity and turn the song into a wall of reverb and shoegaze guitars. The beginning is delightful but the ending is spectacular.
LAUREL – “Maybe Baby” (London, England)
RIYL: Emma Ruth Rundle, Miya Folick, Lucia Fontaine
A significant amount of buzz is already behind LAUREL, the project of Laurel Arnell-Cullen. Her 2014 debut EP, Holy Water, transported her to the top of the UK indie scene. Two years later, she is getting set to release her sophomore EP, Park, which could and should catapult her to greater stardom.
The latest single from the record is “Maybe Baby”. The song is pure genius, possessing understated rawness and grittiness akin to the great works of PJ Harvey and Emma Ruth Rundle. Yet, there is a catchy, quiet pop vibe that permeates throughout, as Arnell-Cullen’s trembling vocals reveal her conflicting emotions with someone dear. If she continues down this path, pretty soon people will be comparing new artists to the 22-year old, London resident (yes, she’s only 22 years of age).
Park arrives this Friday, November 18th via Counter Records.
Lolahiko – “Plastic” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: The xx, Wet, GEMS
There are no shortage of electronic / electro-pop duos that have emerged over the past two to three years, many adopting the Phantogram framework. For Lauren Marie & Ike Kawaguchi – a.k.a. Lolahiko – they have charted a different course. Instead of the anthemic, they have opted for the gripping and haunting. Music that will implant itself deep into your mind while stirring your emotions. Their latest release, “Plastic”, evidences their mastery of psychological thrillers. The song is dark and hypnotic, as the minimalist production creates the feeling of an abandoned house while Marie’s mesmerizing vocals open up the door to our deepest secrets.
The Nursery – “Everybody’s Famous” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: We Are Wolves, Mother Mother, Tokyo Police Club
Toronto’s The Nursery has piqued our interests a few times over the last two years. One reason is that their brand of indie-pop is infectious yet wildly quirky. A second reason is their songs are not about the usual subjects. Their newest single, “Everybody’s Famous”, just might be their best effort to date that combines these two elements. The song is literally off the charts. It has the energy of We Are Wolves and the weird and wonderful wackiness of Mother Mother. The whirling melodies create an atmosphere akin to a funhouse, where one is uncontrollably running around and finding new surprises behind every corner. The songwriting is also fun, as the band reflects on how everyone around them has achieved fame but not them. That day will come and likely really soon for Alexander Pulec, Victor Ess, Jared Roth, and Josh English.
Orchards – “Honey” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Joy Atlas, Bells Atlas, Royal Canoe
“Glittery Gateway Drug” is how Orchards describe themselves. It’s a clever and whimsical slogan, as the Brighton-based quartet are not your typical band. Instead of straightforward indie-pop, they have taken the reins of math-pop and alt-pop to produce a quirky but catch brand of music as revealed on their latest single, “Honey”.
The melodies and arrangements are far from standard, yet the infusion of a soulful, sultry vibe along with cinematic notes elevate the song well above the usual. The song, as such, is one of those tracks that induces a cornucopia of emotions. It is groovy and enticing, making you want to dance. The stuttering collision of guitars and percussion, conversely, will make you want to thrash your head. Frontwoman Lucy Evers’ smooth vocals, meanwhile, may enchant you, having you think of times you and a loved one were alone. Put these three components together and you get one fantastic, musical formula.
In addition to Evers, Orchards are Sam Rushton (guitar), Dan Fane (bass/backing vocals), and Will Lee-Lewis (drums).
Palm Honey – “Stick The Knife In” (Reading, England)
RIYL: Ulrika Spacek, CHAIKA, Estrons
One band from Reading, England is on the verge of massive stardom (Sundara Karma). The next one to keep an eye on – actually two eyes – are Palm Honey, the quartet who are unquestionably one of our favorite discoveries of 2016. Their indie rock is fiery and explosive, but on their latest single, “Stick The Knife In”, they showcase a different side.
Instead of a song that is frenetic from start to finish, Palm Honey dial down the intensity at first on this song about revenge. The melodic beginning is the bait, drawing us in with a catchy hook and dark vocals. Then the Palm Honey we know arrives, as the intensity increases and a hurricane of noise blows the track away. A melodic force of sound is “Stick The Knife In”, and another piece of evidence as to why Palm Honey are a band to watch in 2017.
Palm Honey are Joseph Mumford, Harrison Clark, Sebastian Bowden, and Ayden Spiller to release an album.
The Regrettes – “Seashore” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Allison Crutchfield, Tacocat, Zuzu
They are still just teenagers (in the mid-teens no less), but The Regrettes show a maturity well beyond their years. Instead of trying to imitate the likes of Brittany Spears and Katy Perry, the Los Angeles-based quartet has looked to Joan Jett, Karen O and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ty Segall, and King Tuff. In addition, they’ve been inspired by ’50s and ’60s-era do-wop and bubblegum pop. This mixture had them labeling their first singles as “cupcake punk”, including the stupendous “A Living Human Girl”. But what has stuck out from their music is the songwriting of 15-year old, frontwoman Lydia Night, which stands alongside the likes of Courtney Barnett for its rawness, personal nature, and honesty.
With “Seashore”, the teenagers offer a catchy, 50s pop-infused number that is one big middle finger to anyone who has demeaned and insulted women and girls, including President-elect Donald Trump. The lyrics are on this track are biting and awesome.
“You’re talking to me like I’m dumb
Well I’ve got news I’ve got a lot to say.
There’s nothing you can do to take that away.
You’re talking to me like I’m hurt
But at least I’m not six feet in the dirt
And I’ll still kick your ass in my skirt.”
Despite only being “officially” a band for six months, The Regrettes are one of the year’s fastest-rising groups. No wonder Warner Brothers Records were quick to sign them. A record, hopefully, will be released in 2017.
The Regrettes are Lydia Night (vocals/guitar), Genessa Gariano (guitar), Sage Chavis (bass), and Maxx Morando (drums). Catch them now before everyone else does
Tobin Sprout – “Future Boy Today/Man Of Tomorrow” (Leland, MI, USA)
RIYL: J Mascis, Dinosaur, Jr., Mikel Cronin
While his fellow Guided by Voices member Robert Pollard steals most of the headlines as a solo artists, Tobin Sprout – the guitarist and pianist of the iconic rock band – has kept busy in other ways. He’s written a children’s book, is an avid painter, and occasionally releases music as a solo artist. His last album was 2010’s The Bluebirds Of Happiness Tried To Land On My Shoulder. Long-time fans, though, won’t have to wait much longer as his sixth solo album is set to arrive in two months.
The lead single is the rocking “Future Boy Today/Man of Tomorrow”. The title brings to mind GBV’s melange of genres and sounds, but this song is just a flat-out, old-school, indie rocker. The reverb-drenched guitars echo J Mascis and Dinosaur, Jr. but the infusion of pop melodies resonate Mikel Cronin’s genius. Tobin might be 61-years old, but with this song he shows that he continues to evolve as a musician.
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