The Matinee May 25th edition gets the weekend started early with nine songs that will blow you away. Some are ferocious anthems and others will have you uttering three letters, “OMG”. Let’s get to it shall we.
Bergfilm – “Nostalgic Love” (Cologne, Germany)
RIYL: David Bowie, Joseph of Mercury, David Byrne
It’s not often we say this but… don’t pay attention to the SoundCloud audio above, as it’s just a preview. Instead, watch the video for Bergfilm‘s new song, “Nostalgic Love”, because it is stupendous. I say this as a person who very much prefers audio or video.
This song is ingenious by a band slowly making waves in Germany for their mixture of glam pop-rock and new wave. Frontman Arthur Lingk’s vocals are akin to a young David Bowie, including the little quiver that made the late legend’s voice so captivating. The music and songwriting, too, are like what Bowie created. The track shimmers with of the late ’70s and early ’80s with a fantastic, crystalline guitar; pulsating synths; a tingling bass line; and a jazzy drum beat. Its storyline is a clever take on undying love, as the video below shows an older couple acting like new lovers in their early twenties. This song, this video, are so good.
“Nostalgic Love” is from Bergfilm’s latest album, Constants. The LP is out now via Haldern Pop Recordings.
Bergfilm are comprised of Arthur Lingk (vocals/guitar), Christoph Franke (synthesizer), Marian Schütt (synthesizer/bass), and Manuel Rädler (drums).
Beta Days – “Settled for Gold” (Bristol, Rhode Island, USA)
RIYL: Wilco, Dr. Dog, Son Volt
If you asked us, Americana has gotten a bit stagnant, as band after band stick the formulaic big chorus of “oh oh oh”, hand clapping, and banjo strumming. Call it the Mumford & Sons and Of Monsters and Men effect. It’s refreshing, as such, to hear an artist channel the time of Americana’s creative heights of the late ’80s until the early ’00s. Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, Son Volt, Dr. Dog, and many others took the genre to new sonic and lyrical heights. Today, one man is single-handedly trying to bring the genre back to that time.
Meet the aptly named Beta Days, the project of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Bill Bierce. Residing in Bristol, Rhode Island – a mere 40 minutes from Newport Folk Festival – Bierce has only released two singles to date. One of them is “Settled for Gold”, which has a distinct Wilco flavor. The dreamy approach, the slow build, and the thoughtful songwriting are all akin to the great band from Chicago. Even Bierce’s vocals mirror Jeff Tweedy (almost to a T). All Bierce needs to do is find a Nels Cline, a John Stirratt, a Glenn Kotche, a Mikael Jorgensen, and a Pat Sansone to complete the picture. But what he’s achieved by his lonesome is not just remarkable but brilliant.
Holiday Friends – “Yellow Light” (Astoria/Portland, Oregon, USA)
RIYL: Foals, Grizzly Bear, Deerhunter
In the movie Stand By Me, four friends embark on an adventure to search for the body of a missing stranger. The film, though, is more about the friendship between the teenage boys, their dreams, and what lies ahead. Similarly, Holiday Friends have had their own adventure as a band. Formed in 2008 by three long-time friends – singer/guitarist Scott Fagerland, his multi-instrumentalist brother Jon, and bassist Zack O’Connor – the group has had a revolving door of members come and go. The instability affected the band’s growth and direction, resulting in the band wallowing on the sidelines despite Portland’s burgeoning indie scene. Like all great fairy tales, however, a knight in shining armor arrived to save the day. This modern-day version comes fully equipped with a drum kit and goes by the title of Joey Ficken.
With a full complement of musicians, Holiday Friends are starting over, and the outcome couldn’t be anymore spectacular. Their newest single, “Yellow Light”, is a rousing, indie-electro-rock number. It is akin to the controlled, anthemic numbers that Foals and Grizzly Bear have released. The crystalline guitar is piercing, the synths are stirring, and the probing rhythms are chest-pounding. Scott Fagerland’s vocals, meanwhile, are endearing, as he sings about a person who has been left behind. Or maybe he’s singing about the past Holiday Friends are leaving behind and the bright future that awaits them.
Holy Wars – “I Can’t Feel A Thing” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: The Kills, The Joy Formidable, Warpaint
Buckle in, hold tightly on to your hat, and secure any valuables because this next song will blow you away. And this will happen immediately. There is no slow build or a temporary grace period to catch your breath. Instead, Holy Wars‘ debut single, “I Can’t Feel A Thing”, explodes from the start. The hammering of the drums, the reverb echoing from the electric guitar, and the dark pulse resonating from the bass welcome us. The atmosphere is dark and cathartic at first and in about 20 seconds it becomes searing as everything intensifies.
Project mastermind and frontwoman Kat Leon then enters the fray, tantalizing us with her crippling vocals and telling us a story about a woman dealing with grief and loss. As the song builds to its fiery conclusion, her voice becomes harsher yet more vulnerable to the point where there is a point she sounds like she’s falling into the dark abyss. This song isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is a sensational statement about the power of love.
Holy Wars upcoming EP, Mother, will be available June 30th. A second EP, Father, will arrive later in the year. The EPs are dedicated to Leon’s parents, who suddenly passed away within months of each other. The two extended players should be among the year’s most powerful and personal of the year.
Lake Jons – “Even If” (Helsinki, Finland)
RIYL: Midlake, Hozier, Milky Chance
We were first drawn to Lake Jons over a year ago when they released the harmony-driven “In Time”, which was from their second EP, Explode. And the Finnish trio did exactly that, becoming one of the country’s fastest-rising groups of 2016. After a year promoting their record, Lake Jons have returned with a brand new single that reveals a slightly different side – a move towards folktronica.
“Even If” is a fantastic number that is simultaneously groovy yet intimate. Whereas some bands would allow the production work to consume the song, Lake Jons use the electronic effects as the canvas, infusing them as part of the heavier rhythm section that directs the song. The acoustic guitar is a smart addition, as it gives the track a southern American twang. The harmonies that drove their past releases, though, remain and continue to be ear-popping. They are smooth and decadent, enticing us further into their world that is getting bigger by the day.
The band consists of Jooel Jons, Mikko Pennanen and Jaska Stenroth. No word on whether a new EP or an album is on the way.
The Orielles – “I Only Bought It For The Bottle” (Halifax, England)
RIYL: Alex Napping, Wavves, Mac DeMarco
With each single The Orielles release, they get a little edgier and quirkier. The British trio enticed us with their summery, surf-pop tune, “Jobin”. They then took us on a trip with the psychedelic single, “Sugar Tastes Like Salt”. For their latest single, the Heavenly Recordings signees take the sounds heard on the aforementioned songs and blend them with a bit of gnarly garage rock. The result is, well, pretty delicious.
“I Only Bought It For The Bottle” is fun, a little zany, and completely infectious. It has the feel of a summertime walk along the beach where everything feels perfect, and you cannot help but grin from ear-to-ear. The twangy guitar licks are right out of Mac DeMarco’s repertoire while the sweet edginess and clever, tongue-in-cheek lyrics are akin to Alex Napping (and no this song isn’t about buying cheap liquor to get a buzz). Then there is the cowbell – yes COWBELL! As Esme Hand-Halford mesmerizes us with her soothing vocals, the cowbell awakens our senses and has us nodding our heads from side to side like Steve and Doug Futabi from A Night at the Roxbury.
The Orielles are sisters Esme and Sidonie Hand-Halford and Henry Wade.
Pleasure House – “Father’s Son” (Birmingham, England)
RIYL: Kasabian, Wolf Alice, Estrons
For the third time in less than six weeks, Pleasure House are making an appearance on one our daily mini-playlists. That says a lot about the band’s potential and talent because every song has grabbed hold of us and rocked our minds. “Father’s Son” is no different, and it actually might be their best number to date.
This single is indie-rock perfection. It is exhilarating, intense, and anthemic. Every element – the guitars, bass, and drums – is masterfully executed, cascading together to create a euphoric sensation and scaling back to allow the drama to unfold. The result is a song that is akin to the cathartic experiences of Wolf Alice, Black Honey, and Estrons, where you want to jump and dance around, get out the air guitar and do a couple of twirls, and find those invisible drumsticks to hammer on anything nearby. And like the aforementioned bands, Pleasure House aren’t writing frivolous songs. Instead, they are running away from their own past and their family’s history and seeking to carve out their own niche. This shouldn’t be difficult if they continue to produce such memorable music.
We’ll get to learn more about the band tomorrow (Friday, May 26th), which is when their new EP, Sentient, is released.
Pleasure House are: Alex, Abbas, James, and Jon.
Selon Recliner – “Come On Rain” (Auckland, New Zealand)
RIYL: Mazzy Star, Portishead, Slowdive
As May comes to an end, so does New Zealand Music Month, which celebrates the great music being produced by the small country’s many gifted artists. It’s also an opportunity to discover something new. Or in this case, to celebrate the return of a group who took an eight-year hiatus. Welcome back (or be introduced) to Selon Recliner, a seven-member collective who first arrived over a decade ago.
Their first song since 2009 is “Come On Rain”. It is one of those rare “OMG” moments. The ethereal vocals of Bellinda Bradley are spellbinding, and the instrumentation, led by the soaring strings, create a beautiful soundscape that belongs on film. You’ll be left closing your eyes and gasping for an extra breath as the song reaches its climax. This tune is simply dazzling, and one that leaves you saying, “Thank you Selon Recliner for making a triumphant return.”
“Come On Rain” is the lead single from the band’s forthcoming, new EP, Stories of Later, which is expected in June. In the meantime, purchase the song on Bandcamp.
Selon Recliner are Belinda Bradley, Guy Wishart, Darlene Te Young, Perry Bradley, Vernon Rive, Roy Godwin, and Michael Te Young.
TENDER – “Nadir” (North London, England)
RIYL: Mt. Wolf, RKCB, Cigarettes After Sex
For as long as we can remember, we’ve been sharing the music of TENDER, the London-based duo comprised of James Cullen and Daniel Cobb. They’re not an ordinary electronic duo, as they don’t create blazing club anthems or rely on standard gimmicks to grab people’s attention. TENDER, instead, write music that is thoughtful and cinematic, personal yet relateable. And often times, their music seems too real to be true, such as their new single, “Nadir”.
Musically, the song is a terrific, beginning with an eye-opening introduction before dovetailing into a sultry, mysterious approach. Cullen’s songwriting, however, is what steals the show, as he describes the various stages that a person goes through following the end of a long-term relationship. Heartbreak, disappointment, resentment, and anger are heard in Cullen’s wavering voice, as he re-lives a painful time in his life. And for everyone who has had their heart torn to shreds, they’ll know exactly what Cullen is going through.
More from TENDER is on the horizon, as “Nadir” is the lead single from their forthcoming, debut album. Partisan Records has the honor of releasing it.
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