The Matinee March 21st has a strong Canadian flavor, reflecting the burgeoning music in the world’s second-largest country. The mini-playlist is, we must warn you, more somber and even intense. The storytelling in these songs are stellar with the final song the year’s biggest and most beautiful tearjerker.
Cigarettes After Sex – “Apocalypse” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Cigarettes After Sex, Rhye, Mazzy Starr
Usually a song about the “Apocalypse” is heavy and hard hitting, filled with blazing guitars and thrashing rhythms. The term screams explosive and uncontrolled chaos. But in the Renoir-like hands of Cigarettes After Sex, “Apocalypse” is beautifully transcendent.
The song is simply breathtaking and spellbinding. Frontman Greg Gonzalez’s vocals are soft and intimate like a whisper into a lover’s ear while the two share a moment. The instrumentation is subdue and bordering on ethereal, giving the song a bedroom intimacy. Despite the lush and romantic vibe, the song is heartbreaking, as Gonzalez shares the story of a couple who has been torn apart. “You’ve been wanting you forever and you just can’t say goodbye”, passionately sings Gonzalez. While their previous single, “K”, was like a long kiss goodnight, “Apocalypse” is a gorgeous, moon-filled night that you never end.
The single is out via Partisan Records. Cigarettes After Sex are Greg Gonzalez (vocals/electric guitar/acoustic guitar), Phillp Tubbs (keyboards), Randy Miller (bass), and Jacob Tomsky (drums).
The band will be commencing a European tour in April. Find tour dates here.
Beach Riot – “B.A.D” (London, England)
RIYL: Queens of the Stone Age, Blood Red Shoes, Goon
There’s not a whole lot of information available regarding Beach Riot, a brand new band emerging from London’s crowded underground scene. We don’t even know if they are a three- or four-piece, but we do know this band’s potential is through the roof.
Their debut single is “B.A.D.”, a full-throttle, in-your-face, hold-nothing-back, alternative rock tune. The song has QOTSA’s ferocity, Nirvana’s intensity musically and lyrically, and the grit and garage-rock of Blood Red Shoes. In other words, this face-melting song is just awesome. And to think, the band only needed one take to record this song. If Beach Riot have this kind of chemistry on their first song, imagine what they could deliver in the future.
Feist – “Pleasure” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: P.J. Harvey, Fiona Apple, Neil Young
We don’t normally share songs by superstars (not even those within the indie realm), but Leslie Feist is one of the few we will make an exception. The immensely talented Canadian singer-songwriter is making her long-awaited return with Pleasure, which is her first album since 2011’s critically acclaimed, Metals. The new LP promises to be an “examination of self-awareness”, and the lead single gives us a hint of its analytical nature.
“Pleasure” is a poetic rocker in the mould of P.J. Harvey and Neil Young. The minimalist, lo-fi approach is tantalizing, as the song predominantly revolves around Feist’s distant vocals and discordant guitar. The bedroom-like soundscape gives the track its captivating quality, but it is Feist’s searing lyrics that hammer home. “Pleasure” focuses on self-gratification but at whose expense and at what cost? And what is even “pleasure”? With just one song, Feist already is challenging us, which makes us wonder what the new album will have in store.
Ghostly Kisses – “Garden” (Quebec City, Canada)
RIYL: Samaris, JFDR, Phoria
Across the Atlantic, Icelandic artist Jófríður Ákadóttir is making waves for her multiple projects and glacial electro-pop. Closer to home, another young artist has been completely dazzling anyone who comes across her music. We were first victimized last autumn, when singer and violinist Margaux Sauvé – a.k.a. Ghostly Kisses – shared the tantalizing “Empty Note”. That song was just the tip of the iceberg, as Sauvé had released four other songs that were played nearly 200,000 times on SoundCloud alone.
The Quebec City resident is now preparing the release of her debut EP. Its lead single is “Garden”, a beautifully stark number that is incredibly hypnotic and immersive. Sauvé’s voice takes on a deeper, almost Enya-like quality, but her delivery is hush and quiet. Her production work is likewise subtle and deliberate to create a soundscape that is dark, mysterious, yet engaging. As a whole, “Garden” is like watching a gripping film come to its conclusion, where every second your focus is fixated on every word uttered and every step taken. It’s time to anoint Sauvé an artistic genius, which should be verified when What You See arrives on March 24th.
The single is available for download on Ghostly Kisses’ Bandcamp page. You can opt to download it for free or leave a tip (we recommend the latter).
Le Couleur – “Premier Contact” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Metronomy, Ariel Pink, Alvvays
Another band coming from the province of Quebec is Le Couleur, who have made huge waves in Europe for their provocative mix of indie pop, disco-pop, and electro-pop. Last autumn, they released their new album, P.O.P., via Lisbon Lux Records, and it received positive buzz. One of the songs from the album is “Premier Contact”.
Dreamy, fun, and even touch psychedelic, the song is a disco-pop delight. It will leave you smiling from ear to ear while leaving your head in a hazy, euphoric place. After one spin, if you’re like us, you will want to find those bell bottoms, put them on, and then shimmer and shake to the groovy melody. If you happen to have a disco ball on the ceiling, turn it on and dance to your heart’s content.
If you prefer to just enjoy the music while sitting down, check out the video for the song. It’s awfully entertaining.
Lindi Ortega – “Til The Goin’ Gets Gone” (Toronto, Canada / Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Tiff Merritt
Although Lindi Ortega now calls Nashville home, she will remain one of Canada’s sweethearts and one of our personal favorites. Since being one of our first interviews in 2013 to again spending time with us in 2015, she has always been thoughtful, graceful, and insightful. These characteristics are also reflected in her music, which extend from introspective songs to imaginative narratives.
Last week, Ortega released her newest EP, Til The Goin’ Gets Gone, which is a beautiful collection of stories that feel timeless. The highlight of the EP is the title track, which is an instant classic. Akin to the tales told by Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton, “Til The Goin’ Gets Gone” is a moving, intimate ballad. It has the feeling of a classic country number, telling the tale of a person traveling to new destinations and escaping one’s past. It is a quiet, road-trip anthem for all us dreamers and wanderers.
Links to purchase and stream Ortega’s new EP can be found here.
Loam – “Heron” (Sheffield, England)
RIYL: The National, The Editors, Nick Cave
As we all await the arrival of The National’s new album, a new band across the pond is channeling the Brooklyn-via-Ohio group’s greatness. That band is Loam, a trio from Sheffield, England who are creating some spectacular drone-pop / brooding indie rock. As evidence, take a listen to their new single, “Heron”.
The song is simply terrific. It has the brooding, anthemic qualities of The National, but a cosmic, psychedelic vibe resonates throughout. Front man Laurie Leigh Allport’s vocals also resonate with Matt Berninger’s deep baritone (you might be doing a double check to ensure it is not Berninger). The songwriting is fantastic, as the song focuses on a lost soul endlessly searching for change and a sign that the future will hold something spectacular. Maybe that person is you; it definitely was us at one point.
The single is available on their Bandcamp page. Loam are Thomas Didlock, Gordon Barker, and Laurie Leigh Allport. Get to know this band because they are on to something really special.
Próxima Parada – “Time In A Circle” (San Luis Obispo, CA, USA)
RIYL: Bill Withers, Lee Fields, Lake Street Dive
Soul music has taken a whole meaning in this day of electronic (whether it is even soul music is another question). So when a band arrives channeling legends like Bill Withers, Otis Redding, and Sam Cooke, we take notice. Such is the case when California quartet Próxima Parada shared their new single, “Time In A Circle”.
Now this is soul music. The sweet piano chords, the titillating rhythms, the twangy guitar, and Nick Larson’s soulful vocals all recall the genre’s zenith back in the ’50s and ’60s. And like many songs of the era, “Time In A Circle” is not merely an introspective song. It is also a journey through life, its many changes, and the search for solitude. Hopefully when we find our little utopia, the music awaiting us sounds just like this.
The song is from Próxima Parada’s new album, Big Seven, and it is available on Bandcamp.
The band’s core members are Aaron Kroeger (percussion), Kevin Middlekauff (bass), Nick Larson (vocals/keys), and Joshua Collins (guitar).
Said The Whale – “Miscarriage” (Vancouver, Canada)
RIYL: Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service, Austra
We end The Matinee with a song that we will remember for a long, long time. As mentioned above, “Miscarriage” by Vancouver indie-pop group Said The Whale is the most beautiful tearjerker of the year. The song is based on the experiences of singer Tyler Bancroft and his partner, who had two miscarriages. Instead of me trying to summarize their experience, this is the time to share Bancroft’s own words:
Miscarriage is a unique kind of loss in that you’re mourning what could have been. It’s a lonely kind of loss, because miscarriage is rarely discussed. And it’s a loss of control – realizing that the future may not turn out the way you had imagined it. For me this was especially disarming since I didn’t realize how much I wanted a child until I was faced with the possibility of never having one. Miscarriage strips the joy from pregnancy and turns it into a source of grief and anxiety. But whatever sadness and anger I was feeling was only a fraction of what my partner was experiencing. The shame associated with her body not doing what it’s “biologically designed to do”, the loss of control, and the uncertainty about reproductive health – these things are all devastating. Watching the person you love go through that is heartbreaking, and it took everything I had to comfort her along with trying to comfort myself. I wrote this song in the throes of our experience. It was cathartic and therapeutic, and a lot of tears were shed. I won’t say I’m glad we went through what we did, but I will say that our experience has provided me with a perspective and an empathy that I may not have otherwise had. Our experience also makes me feel like the luckiest person on Earth because our story has a happy ending – our third pregnancy was carried to term and our son was born in the summer of 2016.
As you listen to the song, read the powerful lyrics (which are below). It’ll leave a tear in your eye.
The song is from the band’s forthcoming, new album, As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide. The LP arrives March 31st via Hidden Pony Records.
Said The Whale are Ben Worcester, Tyler Bancroft, Spencer Schoening, and Jaycelyn Brown. They’ll be commencing a cross-Canada tour on March 31st. Tour dates can be found here.
Lyrics to “Miscarriage”:
When you bled out blood like it was both of us
And I held your beautiful body
When you put on a brave face for my family
And we had Thanksgiving
And I’m thinking how happy it seemed my mother was
When she thought that I’d be a father
How we gathered our friends around
And broke the news
Like a couple of fools
Tell me how to act, all I wanna do is make it alright
I want to tell you that you’re beautiful
And everything is fine
And when the heartbeat slowed down slowly
I want to tell you that it’s natural
And everything in time
And that we’ll always be a family
No matter the design
And I’ll always save a dance for you
At the end of every night
It’s already our tomorrow
And the midnight sun, it’ll drive us home
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