The great songs keep coming and picking nine for The Matinee January 12th edition was incredibly difficult. We’re trying to get them all in, but in the meantime here are the songs blowing these two ear drums.
Aish – “Promise Me” (San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Sufjan Stevens, Kishi Bashi, Sondre Lerche
Making his mark as a composer, producer, and mixer, Aish has finally drawn back the curtains and come to the forefront with his debut single, “Promise Me”. While many musicians would try to create a hit single, the San Francisco-based artist has opted to bare his soul musically and lyrically.
The song is absolutely stunning, and one that will elicit plenty of “oohs” and “on my gosh!” “Promise Me” blends the genius of two of indie music’s leading composers. It is mournfull beautiful, akin to Sujfan Stevens’ brilliance as heard on Carrie & Lowell and Illinoise. The track also has radiates of Kishi Bashi’s electronic-led, choral exploits, where moments of breathless intertwine with periods of introspection. The approach provides the perfect platform for Aish to reveal a part of himself and simultaneously heal. As he explains,
I wrote this song to heal through the separation between mother and I. I re-imagine the difficulty of our separation as a hope, a promise of a wonderful future ahead.
The release date for Mother has yet to be announced. When it does arrive, it promises to be one of the year’s emotional roller coasters.
Anousheh – “Get to You” (Richmond, VA, USA)
RIYL: Ladyhawke, La Roux, Psychic Twin
It’s been over a year since we’ve profiled Anousheh, the Grammy-nominated artist (in EDM) who has successfully transitioned from electronica to electro- and synth-pop. Her single, “Crash”, revealed a theatrical side, as she showcased her classical training as a pianist. With her new single, she marries her assorted past lives with an eye to the future.
“Get to You” is beckons of ’80s synth-pop with flourishes of disco-pop. Like the songs of these eras, this single is at times breathtaking and mesmerizing yet all the while will have you dancing in a trance-like state. All we need is disco ball hovering high above us, as we can spin deliriously and absorb every note of Anousheh’s captivating vocals.
darkDARK – “Restless” feat. Haley Bonar (Los Angeles/Austin & St. Paul, USA)
RIYL: CHVRCHES, Broods, Purity Ring
We’ve learned pretty quickly that electronic duo darkDark are no ordinary group. Genevieve Vincent and Chris James are not aiming to create anthems that leave people in a sweaty mess. They’re not interested in making cookie-cutter electronic / electro-pop music in order to accelerate their rise to fame (which unquestionably will happen sooner than later). Nope, the duo want to enrapture our minds, steal our hearts, and take us on journeys that only be done by the most spectacular songs.
They already achieved all this on their previous single, “Moments”, so they have enlisted the assistance of the great Haley Bonar to take us deeper into our souls. With “Restless”, the collaboration have crafted a majestic, electro-pop gem. The song is intimate, endearing, and cathartic. At times, it feels calm and soothing, but at other moments is subtly explosive and cinematic. For just over three-and-a-half minutes, we are left transfixed by Bonar’s stirring vocals and Vincent and James’ delicate production work, suspended in time to think of what the future holds. How many songs can do all this?
“Restless” is from darkDARK’s debut EP, Heathered. It will be released February 24th.
Half Waif – “Severed Logic” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Bats for Lashes, Kate Bush, Austra
Nandi Rose Plunkett is one of New York City’s most underrated musical geniuses. Under the pseudonym Half Waif, Plunkett’s sophomore album, Probable Depths, was a “meticulous, cellular journey” that was one of our 50 Favorite Albums of 2016. Instead of taking a break to regroup, she’s quickly moving forward with a brand new release.
Her next record will be form/a EP (February 24th via Cascine), and its first single is “Severed Logic”. The song represents another stage in Plunkett’s evolution. Whereas she tantalized us with layered vocals and oft-kilter yet embracing arrangements on Probable Depths, she aims for more dramatic and even cinematic levels with “Severed Logic”. The stark tempo and hush-like vocals create a suspenseful soundscape, and they perfectly complement the story of a woman enslaved by others and her own thoughts. The music is fantastic, but is the storytelling that is truly remarkable. Once again, Plunkett has blown us away with her creative genius
Needle Points – “Fur” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: T. Rex, Future Islands, J Roddy Walston and The Business
We usually focus our daily playlists on relatively “new” songs, but occasionally we like to revisit a song by a band that has been overlooked. A perfect example is Needle Points, who last year released their debut album, Feel Young. From it is the epic – absolutely epic! – single, “Fur”.
Produced by Dr. Dog’s Scott McMicken, the song masterfully bridges old-school, ’60s/’70s rock ‘n roll with contemporary indie rock. The first two-thirds of the song is primarily driven by a great piano-driven melody. Then the rhythms start to kick in a little louder to give the song a bit more grit, and then the guitars are unleashed, rallying the song to its cataclysmic finish. Needless to say, “Fur” is a burner, where from the opening notes to the very last we are anticipating the explosive finale. But beyond the noise is a fantastic story of a man and his other alter-ego and the battle for who will be in control. The song is timely given the uncertain times before us.
Phoebe Bridgers – “Smoke Signals” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Julien Baker, Elliott Smith, Jeff Buckley
The turn of the calendar year represents a time to look forward and what the future holds. It is also an opportunity to assess the year that was and how it affected those around us and ourselves. No song captures the difficult 366 days that was 2016 more than Phoebe Bridgers‘ new single, “Smoke Signals”.
The song is gripping and absolutely beautiful. Despite the minimalist approach, it is powerful in its lyrics and impact. Bridgers’ soothing and stunning vocals add to the song’s intimacy and heighten the intro- and retrospective nature of the song. There is pain and disappointment, confusion and sorrow. Yet, the “Smoke Signals” represent the start of something new, but what that message is and where the path leads are unknown. All we can do, as the 22-year old Bridgers reminds us, is to trust each other.
Bridgers is in the midst of preparing her debut album. In 2015, she released her debut EP, Killer, which was produced by Ryan Adams. She is currently on tour, opening for Conor Oberst during his European tour. Dates can be found here.
Rainbrother – “Blue” (Copenhagen, Denmark)
RIYL: Woods, Fleet Foxes, Cass McCombs
There probably isn’t much more to be said about Danish quintet Rainbrother. From their previous singles, “Break Out” and “Riverside”, they won us over with their smooth and often refreshing take on indie-folk and alt-folk. But it is not just us who have been impressed, fans across Europe are starting to take notice with the band’s popularity quickly increasing by the day. Their latest single, “Blue”, should only accelerate their rise to indie stardom.
“Blue”, like “Break Out”, is sublime psychedelic-folk. This is music made for lounging on the patio or at the cabin while sipping your favorite beverage while surrounded by family and friends. It is music for a long road trip, as you hum along to the infectious melodies and catchy guitar riffs while getting lost in frontman Bjarke Bendtsen’s warm vocals. In other words, “Blue” is the perfect summertime track, and a song that we surely could use in these cold, dreary days.
Rainbrother’s debut album, Tales From the Drought, is due February 3 via General Bird.
SANDSCAPE – “Artificial Rush” (London, England)
RIYL: Hope Sandoval, Massive Attack, Cigarettes After Sex
Following her critically acclaimed EP, Run, Eliza Shaddad has been riding on a tidal wave of support across the UK. The logical next step for Shaddad is to…. start a new project? The London-based singer-songwriter has never been conventional, so seeing her step out of our alt-folk / folk-rock leanings should not be a surprise.
For her latest endeavor, she has teamed up with producer and friend Dan Sonabend to form SANDSCAPE. Their debut single is the intoxicating “Artificial Rush”. The song is a brilliant mélange of genres and textures. It has the smoky exhilaration of a late-night jazz club, where anything can happen under the dim lights of the early morning. The chilling delirium of Massive Attack-style trip-hop permeates throughout, where one becomes completely hypnotized by the spatial pulses. And finally, a SADE-like grace emanates from Shaddad’s sensual voice, as she titillates us with a story of late-night rendez-vous. After the three-plus minutes expire, you might need to excuse yourself to cool off and lower your heartbeat.
“Artificial Rush” is part of a double single, and it will be released on February 10th. Pre-order it on Bandcamp and get this track immediately. The second song is “Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You”.
Zuzu – “What You Want” (Liverpool, England)
RIYL: Courtney Barnett, Colleen Green, The Regrettes
It isn’t a question of whether but when English singer-songwriter Zuzu Stranack – or simply Zuzu – will become a star. Like Courtney Barnett, eskimeaux, Frankie Cosmos, and Colleen Green, the young Liverpool-based artist has a sharp, witty tongue and a knack for creating catchy melodies and riffs. There is also a playfulness in her style, which is essential in order to communicate tough issues to today’s population of short attention spans.
Her latest song, “What You Want”, demonstrates all of Zuzu’s talents and thoughtfulness. The track is straight-up, fun, garage-pop filled with familiar riffs and rhythms. It is Stranack’s lyrical delivery, however, that catches your attention, as she tells a tale of young, unrequited love. The things we do for love and the pain that comes with it are perfectly captured in this track. It doesn’t matter if you are in high school or a sixty-something person looking for love once again, we all can relate to, and often ask, “What You Want”.
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