It’s Groundhog Day, but on The Matinee February 2nd you won’t hear any repeats. Well, maybe you will because these nine singles will have you hitting rewind. There is a noticeable Australian focus, which demonstrates the country’s thriving music scene.
Ainsley Farrell – “Lady Long Hair” (Sydney, Australia via California, USA)
RIYL: Laura Marling, Damien Jurado, Julia Jacklin
One of the most beautiful and versatile voices you will encounter this year and any other year is the one that belongs to Ainsley Farrell. The California-native-turned-Sydney-based artist has mostly dabbled in old-school blues, R&B, and soul. Her cover of Irma Thomas’ “Wish Someone Would Care” is spectacular. An artist, though, can only do so many covers, and fortunately Farrell’s songwriting prowess matches her vocal power.
Earlier this month, Farrell released her latest single, “Lady Long Hair”, which is simply striking. The instrumentation is subdue, enchanting, and haunting, echoing one of Timber Timbre’s fables. Her voice, though, is what stands out. While it is more controlled, it is still mesmerizing and breathtaking, giving this song about a mysterious woman an unsettling yet gripping quality.
Farrell is only starting to make waves in Australia, as she was recently included in Triple J’s Unearthed series. It won’t be long, however, before more people gravitate to her wonderful sound. Another example of her talent is “Trouble”, which is also a must hear.
Bonny Doon – “What Time Is It in Portland?” (Detroit, USA)
RIYL: Wilco, Futurebirds, Whitney
Detroit, the Motor City. Home to Eminem, Kid Rock, and Jack White, and the birthplace of Motown. Now here comes Bonny Doon, who only share one thing in common with their others – they make great music. The quartet of Bill Lennox, Bobby Colombo, Jake Kmiecik, and Joshua Brooks, however, are not rockers, rappers, or a classic R&B / soul group. Instead, they are an indie-rock / freak-folk / southern-rock band telling personal stories like Jeff Tweedy.
Case in point is their latest single, “What Time Is It in Portland?” The song radiates of ’60s and early-’70s folk music. The warm vocals, the head-swaying melodies, and the storytelling of feeling stuck in a maddening city are reminiscent of the days when Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, and Neil Young occupied the airwaves. It is a song that is easy to get lost in, thinking of the days you spent idling away with your childhood friends. Nostalgia doesn’t sound much better than this.
The song is from the band’s forthcoming, debut album, Bonny Doon. It is due March 10th via Salinas Records.
Evil Astronaut – “Orbit Berlin” (Gothenburg, Sweden)
RIYL: Phosphorescent meets Phoria, Sigur Rós
“Oh. My. Gawd!” Really, that is all that needs to be said about Evil Astronaut‘s new single, “Orbit Berlin”. This song transcends any descriptor, as within thirty seconds you are left in a state of awe. But if asked to describe the song, it is an absolutely beautiful, breathtaking, and alluring experience. It is a trip far into the cosmos and deep into one’s soul, where peace and solitude collide.
While there are traces of Sigur Rós, the song is much more complex. The song masterfully blends dreamgaze, Americana, indie folk, ambient, and electronica into one dazzling number. The impact of this song – just sweeping us off our feet – is an early contender for song of the year. It is that good. Actually, it is memorable. It is spectacular.
Not much is known about the Gothenburg-based collective, but that will soon change.
Fazerdaze – “Lucky Girl” (Auckland, New Zealand)
RIYL: Day Wave, Jay Som, Washed Out
One of the rising stars within the New Zealand music is Fazerdaze, the project started by Amelia Murray and her three mates. Fazerdaze’s popularity, however, also extends overseas, specifically the UK. It’s not difficult to understand since their bedroom guitar-pop is dreamy, warm, and infectious. Even legendary label Flying Nun have fallen for the band, as they signed them to a deal and will release their debut album later this spring.
The first single from the LP is the sublime “Lucky Girl”. Murray’s voice is, as always, intimate and stunning. The jangly notes that echo from the guitar are radiant while the slight flourishes from the rhythm section mirror the excitement growing in one’s heart. If this is the first time hearing Fazerdaze, you’ll immediately fall head over heels for them. For long-time fans, this will have us saying that we are the lucky ones to have them in their lives.
Fazerdaze’s debut album, Morningside, is out May 5th via Flying Nun Records. The band will be in Melbourne and Sydney on February 17th and 18th, respectively, and in Wellington and Auckland the following weekend. Check the band’s Facebook page for details.
lilly among clouds – “The Only One” (Würzburg, Germany)
RIYL: Lana Del Rey, Florence + The Machine, Lorde
If we were to create a list of artists who people will be buzzing about at SXSW, Elisabeth Brüchner – or better known as lilly among clouds – would be near the top. The young German already has music fans in her home country buzzing, and now the rest of the world gets to understand the hype.
Her new single, “The Only One”, is a perfect place to start. This song is a choral delight, and it is highlighted by Brüchner’s powerful and intoxicating vocals, which guide us through the dissolution of relationship. The sultry, percussion-driven melody is enrapturing, hinting of the primal soundscapes favored by Lorde, Lana Del Rey, and Lykke Li. And this young singer-songwriter has the potential to reach the same level of stardom as these three, and her meteoric rise could be a mere six weeks away. She is that talented.
The video for “The Only One” is also worth watching, and it can be viewed on YouTube.
Mount Zamia – “Donny” (Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: Sundara Karma, Jagwar Ma, The Belligerents
A demonstration of the strength of Australia’s music scene is the arrival of Mount Zamia, an indie pop-rock / psychedelic band from the beautiful city of Sydney. The band actually has been around since September 2015, but they are only starting to gain traction Down Under. 2017, however, could be the year Mount Zamia erupts, causing thousands of people to flee towards their music. Just one listen of their new single, “Donny”, demonstrates why excitement is growing around the six-piece.
This song is gold. The hazy vibe coupled with the smooth harmonies and cool instrumentation gives the track a summery vibe. This is a song meant to be played on the beach as you and your friends just get subsumed by this psychedelic-pop gem. These six friends, though, aren’t just all noise and little substance. The story about Donny is both witty and real, where we all know a guy like Donny (or maybe we are Donny). For now, Mount Zamia is only bubbling, but it’s only a matter of time before it goes boom.
Reykjavik Kids – “Glowing Red” (Newcastle upon Tyne, England)
RIYL: Joy Division, Eagulls, Preoccupations
We’ve been fans of Paul Tissington and Scott Munro – a.k.a. Reykjavik Kids – for a little while now, as their brand of garage-rock just blew our mind. It has been awhile since we have heard from the duo, and in the time between singles they have transformed themselves.
Instead of channeling the likes of Drenge and Royal Blood, their latest single, “Glowing Red”, is straight out of the late ’70s and early ’80s. This is industrial-infused, post-punk at its finest. The song is dark, gritty, and deliriously awesome. But like many of the great songs of that era, Tissington and Munro are able to create a soundscape that is hypnotic, where you slowly get sucked into the deep ethos of their manifest. At this moment, the duo are a hidden gem, but if they continue down this path the term “hidden” will be removed soon.
Sarah Bethe Nelson – “Out Of My Reach” (San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: GOASTT, Pearl Charles, Jessie Jones
There is so much that we love about Sarah Bethe Nelson, and we probably could write a few pages listing all the things that have made us fans. There is her story as a late-bloomer entering music. Her songs are personal yet identifiable by the majority of people. Her psychedelic pop leaves one all tingly inside. Then there is her soft, whispery voice that has the intimacy of a bedroom chat.
With her sophomore album just right around the corner, Nelson shares its second single, “Out Of My Reach”. Unlike some of her previous numbers, this one has the feeling of slow dance on the beach in the middle of summer. It is groovy, catchy, and sublime, and, as such, it’s easy to get lost in the trippy melodies. But don’t ignore Nelson’s storytelling, which is, as always, terrific. She takes us inside the mind of a woman and shares her perspective of a relationship teetering on the edge. This is the biggest reason why we love the San Francisco resident – she makes us feel like we are part of every song.
We will get to experience more Nelson’s songwriting when Oh, Evolution arrives February 24th via Burger Records.
Tired Lion – “I Don’t Think You Like Me” (Perth, Australia)
RIYL: Speedy Ortiz, Wolf Alice, Diarrhea Planet
If you don’t know the name Tired Lion, you will soon enough. The Australian quartet had a fantastic 2016, akin to Wolf Alice’s breakthrough two years ago except Tired Lion’s was primarily restricted Down Under. But with their recent signing to Island Records UK, music listeners across the United Kingdom and Europe (and hopefully North America) will be getting a heavy dose of the band. Fortunately, the Perth-based outfit makes memorable indie rock.
Take “I Don’t Think You Like Me”, a song Tired Lion released back in February 2015. It isn’t new by any means, but the track sounds great and like it was made yesterday. The song demonstrates the band’s ability to make anthemic and cathartic music that can withstand the test of time. It is an ear-shattering, hair-waving number that will get the heart racing and the adrenaline flowing. The guitar work is menacing while the rhythm section throbs with the intensity of a person on the run. Frontwoman Sophie Hopes’ vocals are dazzling yet edgy akin to Ellie Rowsell’s (of Wolf Alice) dynamic voice. The ferocity in her voice is perfect, as she yells out to an ex or an enemy the truth for why they’re not together.
If 2016 was a big year, 2017 could be massive. Their debut album is expected some time this year, and it has a lot of people, including Rolling Stone Australia, antsy. Count us among those sitting on edge for new and extensive material.
Tired Lion are Sophie Hopes (vocals/guitar), Matt Tanner (lead guitar), Ethan Darnell (drums), and Nick Vasey (bass).
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