Nine songs are the marquee of The Matinee April 11th edition. There are some whimsical, albeit clever, band names and a couple of artists you’ll recognize. As always, we try to give a taste of the different music being created around the globe.
The Dollar Bill Murrays – “The More You Know” (Brisbane, Australia)
RIYL: Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, Alice in Chains
We, like millions of other people, are fans of the actor Bill Murray. Carl Spackler, Peter Venkman, Phil Connors, Raleigh St. Clair, Herman J. Bloom, Bob Harris. The list of great characters he’s played is endless. Another reason to love the comic genius is that he’s a huge music fan, attending SXSW in past years. Now there’s a band who have honored him in the best way possible. Meet The Dollar Bill Murrays, who like the actor hold nothing back on their new single.
Channeling the edge and intensity of Queens of the Stone Age, “The More You Know” is an unrelenting, head-waving number. The pounding percussion kicks starts the track and then the power chords chime in that will lead to incessant air guitar playing and the occasional windmill or 360 twirl. This is what alt-rock use to be like in the early 2000s – fiery, energetic music meant to blow you away and The Dollar Bill Murrays are rekindling a lost art.
GEMS – “Poison” (Los Angeles via Washington, D.C.)
RIYL: Phantogram, COVES, Jack Garratt
Electronic / electro-pop duo GEMS have a big part of our lives. For over three years when they first graced our pages as a Hidden Gem to repeatedly occupying spots on the Melodic Tonic or The Matinee, Lindsay Pitts and Clifford John Usher have consistently impressed us. Actually, a more accurate verb would be “dazzle”. Their approach to electro-pop is sultry yet infectious, making their music perfect for either an intimate evening at home or in crowded night club in Los Angeles. Out of all the great songs they have recently released, “Poison” might be the pick of the litter.
This new single, which in typical GEMS fashion, was unexpectedly unveiled last night. The song reveals Pitts and Usher further extending themselves, adding a soulful vibe to further accentuate their trademark sensuality. Immediately, one gets completely absorbed and lost in Pitts’ hush and stunning vocals while Usher provides a groovy but sexy soundscape. One thing that separates the duo from other electronic groups is that they expertly show restraint. Whereas some would transform this track into an over-the-top club anthem with predictable samples, GEMS create an erotic, electronic ballad – a song meant to be experienced and lost in, not solely just to dance.
GUS & JIM – “Boyhood” (Canberra, Australia)
RIYL: Chris Isaak, Haux
When thinking about great duos since the turn of the century, the majority reside in the arena of garage rock. The Black Keys, Royal Blood, Drenge, and Blood Red Shoes are just some of the names. But a two-piece channeling Chris Isaak and making haunting but striking music? That’s exactly what newcomers GUS & JIM are doing.
Hailing from Australia’s capital city, GUS & Jim is the project of long-time friends Angus Hayes and James McArthur, and their music has caught the attention of arguably the country’s leading authority of discovering new talent, The A&R Department. And no wonder the label is excited about them because their new single, “Boyhood”, is chilling and deeply engrossing. McArthur’s vocals are the first thing that one notices, as it is immensely unique, beautifully startling, and completely hypnotic. The instrumentation on the song is stellar, echoing the cool and stunning soundscape of Isaak’s classic, “Wicked Game”. The song is also highly introspective, as McArthur reflects on his transition from a teenager to adulthood. Now this is how to introduce yourself to the world – create a song that will people will not soon forget.
Lia Lia – “OLYMP” (Berlin, Germany)
RIYL: Grimes, GEMS, Purity Ring
Two songs above we discussed how GEMS became immediate favorites of ours for their sensual approach to electro-pop. We’re going to have to add the name Lia Lia next to them because the German newcomer’s debut single is sublime. Like the Los Angeles duo’s music, “OLYMP” is simply dazzling. The lo-fi, electronic approach has the intimacy of a bedroom, but the infectious and dreamy production work would tantalize every patron at one of Berlin’s busiest clubs.
Lia Lia’s vocals, though, are what take this number to near euphoric heights. Her voice fluctuates multiple times – from an emotionless narrator to an inquisitive young woman trying to move forward with her life. Furthermore, her songwriting is tremendous. Whereas similar producers-songwriters would rely upon rambunctious effects and repetitive lyrics, Lia Lia has crafted a deeply personal story of loss and hope. There aren’t many artists within the electro-pop realm who are masters of every element of their craft, and those that are go by the names Grimes and Purity Ring and soon to join them, Lia Lia.
Melt Dunes – “Flesh” (Southampton, England)
RIYL: The Black Angels, The Black Lips, CAN
We have reached that moment in time on our playlist. The song that has face-melting qualities and where our favorite proclamation is expressed within the first minute and continues long after the final note is played. Are you ready?! Buckle in because English quartet Melt Dunes are about to take you on an exhilarating ride with “Flesh”.
For nearly six minutes, Melt Dunes weave an epic that bursts with the krautrock explosiveness of CAN and the psychedelic delirium of The Black Angels and The Black Lips. It is fiery, anthemic, and just a flame-thrower of a song. This is a song that will wake you up and get the adrenaline flowing. A song that requires one to frantically wave his head from side-to-side and giving the obligatory fist pump. And one that listeners must yell, “F*ck yeah!” Or you can just scream, “Heck yeah!”
Mr. Husband – “Cookie Pie” (Frostburg, Maryland, USA)
RIYL: Father John Misty, Morgan Delt, Doug Tuttle
With spring upon those in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s time to share music that reflects the season when flowers bloom, trees begin to bud, and love lingers throughout the air. And Mr. Husband has delivered the perfect song for the occasion.
“Cookie Pie” is a sweet and endearing psychedelic-folk song. The ’70s vibes that percolate throughout the song will induce involuntary skipping down the neighborhood sidewalk, lead to warm and happy feelings, and case a wide grin to be permanently implanted on your face. And the chorus is absolutely infectious, and for every man in love they’ll be shouting:
Cause she’s my little cookie pie.
She’s loving me all the time now.
I’m a luck boy.
I’m a lucky boy to have her, and I need her.
Ah, spring is in the air!
Mr. Husband is the pop persona of Yellow K Records co-founder Kenny Tompkins. This song and another, “Love Don’t Worry”, which can be heard here, are the first two songs from Mr. Husband’s debut album, Plaid on Plaid. It will be released on May 5 via Yellow K Records.
NoSo – “I Love the Mountains” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Pinegrove, LUCIA, Jay Som
Growing up is not an easy thing. One’s high school years can be the most difficult because of the emotional and physical changes one encounters, the uncertainty about one’s image and feelings, and, of course, the constant peer pressure. But for some people, these formative years can be a struggle beyond comprehension, and newcomer Abby Kwong – a.k.a. NoSo – has documented hers in her new single, “I Love the Mountains”.
This song personifies the beauty of bedroom guitar-pop. The tinges of the electric guitar are warm yet flicker with a soft brightness. Kwong’s vocals are similarly delicate, and her whisper-like delivery adds to the track’s intimacy. Elements of Jay Som’s “Everybody Works” can be heard on the song. She’s not, however, trying to seduce us. Instead, she is sharing her deepest secret with us like she would with her best friend. The song is about being queer in high school and hiding her feelings for a fellow classmate who has a boyfriend. The song may be upbeat and Kwong does proclaim, “I miss high school”, but, as they taught us early in school, never judge a book by its cover. And we shouldn’t underestimate the talent of Kwong, who demonstrates a witty and clever tongue on this terrific song.
Overlake – “Gardener’s Bell” (Jersey City, USA)
RIYL: Slowdive, Cocteau Twins, No Joy
The shoegaze revolution – or more accurately revitalization – is well upon us, and we are ecstatic by this development. With Slowdive returning and bands like No Joy and Trementina adding a youthful and global element, the genre hasn’t sounded this great in over two decades. Not to be overlooked, however, is Overlake.
For nearly five years, the Jersey City trio has been one of the best-kept secrets within the New York City area. We don’t think this will be the case for much longer, especially after their sophomore album, Fall, arrives May 12th via Bar/None Records. To give us a taste of what is to come, the band shared the LP’s lead single. “Gardener’s Ball” is a cause for celebration. The shoegaze guitars, the throbbing bass line, the cascading drum work, and the distorted vocals all work in unison to create a song that is like watching a fireworks display on the Fourth of July. Every element bursts and explodes, and the entire event is enthralling and thrilling. There is not much to do except smile and exhale after the song concludes. The song is pure brilliance in more ways than one.
The Solars – “Goddess of the Suburbs” (Boston, USA)
RIYL: Jack White, The Byrds, T. Rex
What would happen if Jack White joined My Morning Jacket to cover The Byrds or T. Rex? The indie world would likely go ballistic to hear what these great artists could do in reinterpreting the psychedelia of the ’60s and early ’70s. The newest single by newcomers The Solars gives a glimpse of the possibility with their new single, “Goddess of the Suburbs”.
This song is absolutely terrific. Frontman Miles Hewitt’s vocals have a Jack White quality, and the instrumentation on the track is superb. The psychedelic-folk vibes are perfectly complemented by the tinges of gritty, garage rock, adding some edge to the hazy delirium. The songwriting is also tremendous with several notable lyrical gems, including:
Yeah I been having twisted visions of a thing divine,
Trapped inside another person waiting for a sign.
A windowpane into a different machine,
With the clean clean glass far as you can see.
I’m thinking about the goddess in the suburbs.
And all the things she’s gonna say,
When she comes knocking at my door.
Master musicians, masterful storytellers. We’ll be remembering The Solars for a very long time.
“Goddess of the Suburbs” is available on Bandcamp at the exorbitant cost of name your own price.
The Solars are Miles Hewitt, Quetzel Herzig, Cody Carson, Jason Lilly, and John Miller.
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