The Matinee April 6th is a work of art. Well, the music is. Find nine songs by artists from different parts of the globe. There’s a bit of everything – moving ballads, entrancing witch-rock, mesmerizing folktronica, ’80s glam-rock, and a whole lot more.
Big Thief – “Mythological Beauty” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Orenda Fink, O+S
Almost a year to the day, Brooklyn-based Big Thief released a debut album for the ages with Masterpiece. It introduced us to a band who put storytelling at the forefront while crafting music that was not just timeless but unforgettable. In case we forgot how great they were, they have returned with news that will delight fans and shared a new single that will win people over.
On June 9th, Big Thief’s sophomore album, Capacity, will be released via Saddle Creek Records. The lead single is the incredibly captivating “Mythological Beauty”. The song has the sunny radiance of Big Thief’s label mates Orenda Fink, where a smooth elegance shimmers throughout the track. Frontwoman Adrianne Lenker’s vocals are soft and whispery, but they mask this song that will surely warm your heart and break it as well. The song sounds like an ode to her family, yet elements are introspective.
You lie in bed at night and watch the lines and headlights through the screen.
There’s a child inside you trying to raise a child in me.
If you want to leave, you just have to say.
You’re all caught up inside.
There isn’t much more to say than that this song is pure magic. The video for the song is well worth watching, as it, too, is stunning.
Big Thief are Adrianne Lenker, Buck Meek, Jason Burger, and Max Oleartchik.
The Bad Signs – “Love Lock” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Nancy Sinatra, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Ali Beletic
If Nancy Sinatra and Nick Cave walked into a bar together, what would their entrance song be? It’s quite an interesting thought experiment, but it probably would sound a lot like “Love Lock”, the new single by the aptly named The Bad Signs.
From Rob Rufus’ opening guitar salvo to his twin sister Nat Rufus’ first words – “My baby’s got a love lock; he threw the key into the river” – you immediately know this song is going to be a barn burner. The song is a sublime mix of Americana, ’70s punk rock, and the cinematic overtures that made Cave famous. It’s a little gritty, it’s quite edgy, it has a surprisingly stunning tone, and it is 100% fantastic. It’s one of those songs that encourages us to say, “F*ck yeah!”
The song is from The Bad Sign’s new EP, Black Magic Moments. It will be released exclusively on Record Store Day, which is April 22nd.
The Bad Signs are the brainchild of twins Nat and Rob Rufus.
Flora Cash – “California” (Stockholm, Sweden & Minneapolis, USA)
RIYL: Gayngs, Poliça, Volcano Choir
From the opening notes of “California”, the immediate impression likely will be, “Is this Gayngs making a return?” From the folktronica tones that linger throughout the song; the glacial vibe that fills the air; and the perfect interplay between the two vocalists, this must be a song from the Justin Vernon project. While the great collective have not reunited (not yet anyway), Swedish-American duo Flora Cash are more than admirably filling the role. “California” is just the latest example of their brilliance, as Shpresa Lleshaj and Cole Randall have created a song that is simultaneously bone-chilling, lush, and enchanting.
The song also demonstrates the duo’s tremendous growth in the past two years. Their single, “Save Me”, was a folk-inspired ballad while “For Someone” was a timeless duet that reminded us of the possibility of a Neko Case and Jim James pairing. This time around, the two fill the roles of twenty-two artists, and this just proves there is no limit to Flora Cash’s potential.
“California” is available via Swedish boutique label ICEA (short for Icons Creating Evil Art).
The Fontaines – “Vacant” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: HAERTS, Misun, Fickle Friends
When you’re a fast-rising, indie band, there is no time for rest. And when your group has risen quickly in the past twelve months from “hidden gem” to “artist to watch”, it is crucial to build off the buzz. For The Fontaines, they are riding a wave of momentum, which was further amplified by their trip to SXSW. Their success can be contributed to their refusal to be categorized under any specific genre. Contemporary indie pop, disco-pop, ’60s-inspired pop, and indie rock. The Fontaines have done it all, and their versatility has quickly made them one of our favorites over the past year. Their new single only makes us love them even more.
“Vacant” is a deliriously-addictive pop treat. It radiates of the music of the late ’70s and early ’80s with its sultry yet suspenseful vibes. Charlotte Fontaine’s vocals are intoxicating, lulling us in with the sweet yet biting delivery. Brother Hank’s crystalline guitar is sparsely heard, but every note causes a slight tremble in one’s heart. The rhythms – Jason DeMayo’s stuttering bass line and Scott Zimmerman’s delicate drumming – offer the perfect framework, giving the song a groovy element to balance its darkness. Hopefully the band won’t decide to suddenly take a break or, otherwise, we’ll be left a little vacant in our hearts.
The Megaphonic Thrift – “Interlopers” (Bergen, Norway)
RIYL: Deerhoof, Sunny Day in Glasgow, Blonde Redhead
Norway is home to some of the most inventive and inspiring indie music on the planet. As proof, look no further than The Megaphonic Thrift, who have graced these pages in the past.
In Norway, the quartet of Richard Myklebust, Linn Frøkedal, Fredrik Vogsborg, and Njål Clementsen are stars, having won a Spellemann Award, which is the Norwegian equivalent to the Grammys, for best indie album. Abroad, they’re just starting to gain some traction thanks to the fine folks at Old Flame Records, who re-released The Megaphonic Thrift’s debut album, Få meg til verden i tide, in November. Now a new album is literally a day away and to help further entice music listeners in the direction of Bergen, Norway is the latest single from the album.
“Interlopers” is alt-pop perfection. It is like falling down the rabbit hole and arriving at a Wonderland that is full of delirious sounds and textures. Forget the Queen of Hearts, The Mad Hatter, and The Cheshire Cat. This land that The Megaphonic Thrift live in is occupied by the likes of Deerhoof, Of Montreal, Deerhunter, George Harrison, and Blonde Redhead. Psychedelic swirls float effortlessly within the oft-kilter but catchy arrangements. Fairy-like harmonies are heard in the distant, and they are spell-binding. All of this is a little different and surprising at first, but like Alice we don’t want to leave this place too soon or even at all.
The Megaphonic Thrift’s new album, Sun Stare Sound, is out tomorrow, April 7th. Get to know this band, who very well could be Norway’s next great music export.
Mermaidens – “Lizard” (Wellington, New Zealand)
RIYL: Savages, early The Cure, Desperate Journalist
The past six weeks may just be the greatest time period in New Zealand music. Several of the countries’ most notable artists and bands have released albums (Nadia Reid, French for Rabbits, Lake South), and others have shared new songs and announced new records for later this year (Lorde, Aldous Harding, Fazerdaze, Kane Strang). Not to be lost in the shuffle is another band who could reach even greater heights overseas. That band is Mermaidens.
The trio were first profiled in this space in March 2016 after witnessing them open for Mac DeMarco. Their combination of goth-rock and witch-rock is unlike much of the new music out there. To get a sense of what we’re talking about, their new single offers a hint of their mastery. “Lizard” is a mixture of Savages and really early The Cure. From the lingering guitar notes to deliberate passing of the rhythms to the light searing of frontwoman Lily West’s vocals, the song is s simultaneously tantalizing on the ears, intoxicating on the mind, and frighteningly chilling on the soul. The lyrics, too, are right out of a Stephen King novella. Here’s hoping their sophomore album, Perfect Body, will be a concept album based on this storyline.
The LP arrives August 4th via legendary label Flying Nun Records.
Mermaidens are Lily West (bass/vocals), Gussie Larkin (guitar/vocals), and Abe Hollingsworth (drums).
Secret Shine – “Falling Again” (Bristol, England)
RIYL: Cocteau Twins, No Joy, Trementina
While much of the music world celebrated the returns of Slowdive, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Ride, and The Stone Roses, another indie band quietly reunited. Secret Shine were one of the UK’s rising shoegaze and dream-pop bands in the mid- to late-’90s. But like what happens to so many bands, life gets in the way. After nearly two decades away, they released a new album last month. One of the tracks on the LP is “Falling Again”.
If this was the first single released by Slowdive, we would all be fawning over its dreaminess and brilliance. The song is dreamgaze perfection. The stirring guitars, the shimmering vocals, and the hum of the rhythms are all cosmic. But in the case of this song, we’re not necessarily taken to the cosmos but instead falling head over heels and rediscovering a great band. A truly great band.
Jamie Gingell (bass), Kathryn Smith (vocals/keyboards), Dean Purnell (vocals/guitar), Scott Purnell (guitar), and Tom Adams (drums).
StarBenders – “Far From Heaven ⚤” (Atlanta, USA)
RIYL: Heart, Vixen, The Runaways
The rise of retro-inspired bands is upon us. It’s actually like a tidal wave, although most tend to veer in the direction of psychedelic rock and ’80s pop. StarBenders, though, are resurrecting the power-rock and glam-rock of the ’70s and ’80s, and they’re not doing it half-heartedly either.
From the hair to the wardrobe to ripping power chord after power chord, the Atlanta-based band are a hair band. They’re rendition, however, isn’t of the cheesy variety that you would find performing on a Wednesday night at your neighborhood watering hole. Instead, as shown on their latest single, “Far From Heaven”, their music is fierce, blistering, and contagious, and it will have the most ardent rock ‘n roll fan on their feet and intensely playing their air guitar. But unlike some of the music of the day, a darkness lingers in their music, giving it a cinematic quality that would be perfectly played on an aimless late-night drive. This song and StarBenders as a whole may also have you wanting to grow your hair out and break out the tight leather jeans.
StarBenders are Kimi Shelter (lead vocals/lead guitar), Aaron Lecesne (bass/vocals), Katie Herron (drums), and Kriss Tokaji (guitars/vocals)
Ulrika Spacek – “Full of Men” (Reading, England)
RIYL: Blaenavon, Minor Victories, The Belligerents
Ulrika Spacek are one of those rare indie-rock bands who can seamlessly move from fiery rockers to thoughtful, melodic numbers. They are symbolic of the future of rock, where a band must be versatile and adaptable while writing meaningful songs. Their latest track is another example of the Reading quartet’s talent.
From the jangly notes of the intro, “Full of Men” starts off as a breezy number that perfectly represents the feelings of spring. Rhys Edwards’ vocals are soft and gentle, floating like a dandelion seed in the wind. But like in all great stories, a disruption arrives, at which point the song intensifies a touch and a nervousness builds. The world is suddenly not what it seems, and, as Edwards chants, we are surrounded. There is nowhere to go, but is this entrapment within our own mind or are the walls indeed closing in? Ulrika Spacek won’t tell us the answer, but instead they let us choose our own adventure like the great storytellers do.
Ulrika Spacek are Rhys Edwards (vocals/guitar), Rhys Williams (guitar), Joseph Stone (guitar/keys), Ben White (bass), and Callum Brown (drums).
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