The Matinee June 1st has a cinematic feel, where many of the songs have stories that would fit perfectly on the big screen. There are a few that are just boisterous numbers in which you can lose yourself. In that respect, they have the same effect as a great movie.
Big Thief – “Mary” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Angel Olsen, Julien Baker, Lydia Loveless
In an era of great songwriters, Big Thief frontwoman Adrianne Lenker belongs on the top pedestal. While many of the band’s songs are based on actual events and individuals, an immediacy rings through each and every one. These might be Lenker’s experiences, but they are our stories. Big Thief’s latest number is another personal masterpiece.
With just a piano and an organ revolving around Lenker’s tender voice, the 25-year old shares the memory of “Mary”, a woman she met in university. Full of bliss, remorse, and elation, the song is eloquence defined. It simultaneously feels like a ballad being sung by a mother to her daughter on her wedding day and a eulogy to a best friend who has passed too early. Calling this song beautiful would be a gross understatement.
To learn more about the song, check out the premiere on NPR, which also includes an interview with Lenker.
“Mary” is the third single from Big Thief’s forthcoming, new album, Capacity. It arrives everywhere June 9th via Saddle Creek with pre-order links here. Their summer tour includes stops at Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival, Winnipeg Folk Festival, Northside Festival, Newport Folk Fest, Pickathon, and more.
Big Thief includes Adrianne Lenker (vocals/lyrics), Buck Meek (guitar), Max Oleartchik (bass), and James Krivchenia (drums).
Bonnie Trash – “True Love (Eat Me)” (Guelph, Ontario, Canada)
RIYL: SHARKMUFFIN, Mermaidens, L.A. Witch
Guelph, Ontario resides 100 KM to the west of Toronto. It’s known for its university, agriculture industry, and for being Neve Campbell’s hometown. Yep, this little city is as quaint as they come (it’s pretty, though). It might soon be known, however, for something else should twin sisters Sarafina Troy and Emmalia Vash Bortolon-Vettor have their say.
As Bonnie Trash, the siblings are putting the grit into the southwestern Ontario municipality with their gnarly punk-rock / garage-rock sound. However, like the well-educated city they live in, there is a tremendous amount of intelligence in what they are creating. Their forthcoming, debut EP, Ezzelini’s Dead (out June 9th via the duo’s label FUCKPOP), for instance, is based on a historical, Italian figure. As the sisters explain:
‘Ezzelini’s Dead’ is a conceptual piece about Ezzelino III da Romano and the Ezzelini family. Ezzelino was a medieval tyrant in our ancestral town of San Zenone degli Ezzelini, Italy. He was said to be a cannibal. We took location sound in various spots of San Zenone and incorporated them in this piece.
One of the singles from the EP is “True Love”, which is an absolute buzzsaw of a track. The guitars are played with a stark ferocity while the drumming is intense and ear-splitting. The song’s lyrics are extremely clever, taking the idea behind Romeo and Juliet and putting it on its head. It’s sort of a love song, yet it isn’t.
I want to see you smile.
I want to see you drown.
I would break my neck for you,
But I’m stuck here wondering.
Remind us to not get on these ladies’ bad side.
Dusty Mush – “Hot Tomato” (Île-de-France region, France)
RIYL: Thee Oh Sees, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Dune Rats
We all have one of those days where we just want to open a can of whoop ass and holler, “F*ck it!” Frustration grows, and our blood starts to boil over. You might want to punch the pillows on your couch or even slam your head against the wall, but we have a better solution. Correction, France’s Dusty Mush have just the answer, and it goes by the name “Hot Tomato”.
This single is the musical equivalent to a ten-plane flyby during the Super Bowl. It is a two-minute, thirty-second sonic boom that roars and explodes, and at the end of it leaves everyone exhilarated. The scuzzy guitars are right out King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s arsenal, and the hallucinating vocals mirror the trippiness of John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees. So instead of wailing away at something, wail your head from side to side, get out the air guitar, and rock out this awesome song. When it is all said and then, you’ll be screaming two other words, “F*ck yeah!”
The band is comprised of Maxime Saïd, Romain Duplessier, and Cédric Bottacchi.
Grayson Gilmour – “Blow Back” (Wellington, New Zealand)
RIYL: Rhye, Cigarettes After Sex, Bon Iver
It is probably premature to anoint Grayson Gilmour as the next Thom Yorke or Justin Vernon, but he’s making a strong case for such recognition. His previous single, “Hundred Waters”, was beyond description. It merged ambient, indietronica, and soul all into one fabulous concoction. He surely couldn’t top this excellent track, could he? Well, he has.
Whereas “Hundred Waters” dazzled us, “Blow Back” leaves us in a state of amazement. Gilmour’s latest song is akin to the breathtaking cinema of Rhye’s and Cigarettes After Sex’s music. Every element of his production is subtle yet graceful, resulting in each note, beat, texture, and rhythm working in unison to create a spellbinding soundscape. His vocals are even more delicate, as he adopts a bedroom whisper quality to draw us in to. This four-minute moment, as such, is intimate, personal, and secretive, and at the end of it you’re left with a memory that will last a long time. New Zealand has its next great artist.
Gilmour’s new album, Otherness, will be released July 14th via Flying Nun Records.
M O S E S – “King Size” (London, England)
RIYL: Kasabian, Blur, The Libertines
It’s Thursday, and the weekend is around the corner. That means we need to have at least one firecracker of a song on The Matinee. A track that gets the adrenaline flowing, induces sweat to accumulate on one’s forehead, and has one anxiously squirming in his office chair. We have just the song for the occasion in “King Size” by London quartet M O S E S.
“King Size” is like a five-alarm fire. It is fierce and explosive with power riffs blazing in every corner and rhythms pounding like hammers on a fire bell. The vocals are intense, driving the track into a rage-filled delirium. This isn’t just another track, though. It is an epic anthem for every person seeking to break free from the mundane and who refuse to lie down to Draconian rules. It is, therefore, quite fitting that Victor, Juno, Matt, Zakk named their band after the Bible’s most famous prophet.
The song is out via Propaganda Records. M O S E S will be playing a string of shows in June, including making their debuts at the Reading and Leeds Festivals.
MUNROE – “Oblivion” (Los Angeles, USA via Hamilton, Ontario)
RIYL: Vashti Bunyan, Joanna Newsom, Marissa Nadler
You may not at first recognize the name MUNROE, but you likely know the woman behind the project. Kathleen Munroe is an actress, who currently plays Alice Tavner on the original Amazon series, Patriot. She also starred on ABC drama, Resurrection, playing the role of Rachel Braidwood. For us, though, we’ve associated Munroe for her music, beginning with her 2014 single, “Bloodlet”. This was our first introduction to her cinematic alt-folk.
Two years have passed since she released her debut EP, but she’s now back to enchant us through the aural medium. Her new single, “Oblivion”, is gorgeous. It is an absolutely stunning, melancholic affair. The steel guitar and strings add a haunting and gripping component, but it is Munroe’s emotional vocals that tear your soul apart. Her pain and suffering can be heard in every word, as if she’s weeping for the person – possibly a child – she has lost. The storytelling is spectacular, like a Margaret Atwood short story coming to life through the sound of music. So close your eyes and allow Munroe’s vivid songwriting to take over your imagination.
The song is the lead single from Munroe’s debut album, Oblivion. It will be released in June, and the LP could have her on the fast-track to dual stardom a la Jennifer Lopez.
Oh Thunder – “Who R U” (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
RIYL: Björk, Little Dragon, Rubblebucket
The Netherlands is home to some of the most imaginative, artistic minds on the planet. It might have something to do with the country’s liberal values and openness to new diversity, complexity, and innovation. Musically, too, the small country has helped advanced the industry in small but measurable ways. Bands like My Baby and Amber Arcades are taking psychedelic and indie-pop, respectively, to fresh, new places. Another band to keep a close eye on are Oh Thunder.
This quartet is not the ordinary electro-pop group. They’re merging classical instruments with analogue and moog synthesizers while adding heavy doses of experimental pop. Couple this with some poignant songwriting, and you have a band that pushes all the right buttons. Their new single, “Who R U”, perfectly demonstrates their cleverness. The song is infectious, fun, and even a bit oft-kilter. Frontwoman Rosalie Wammes’ vocals are akin to Björk, and elements of the song even have an air of the Icelandic legend’s early works. But during the song’s more glowing sections, Little Dragon-like radiance shimmer through the air, creating a delirious, groovy, dance atmosphere.
There is more to this song, however. “If you listen through the cracks, you’ll hear our violent, violent shout”, exclaims Wammes. She’s screaming out on behalf of all the people whose voices have been silenced. So despite the cool and sexy vibe, the song is an act of defiance and an expression of a young generation’s desire to be heard. With music this great, there’s no question Oh Thunder will be listened to for a very long time.
Oh Thunder are Rosalie Wammes (harp/vocals), Oliver Emmitt (trombone), Patrick Rugebregt (synth), and Willem van der Krabben (drums).
Other States – “Make Amends” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: El Vy, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The National
There must be something in the air in the UK because the region is constantly producing excellent indie-rock bands. May of our favorites from the past four years have come from the area. We might soon have to add Other States to the list.
The sextet from Brighton aren’t quite the typical Brit band we’ve followed. They’re not creating exploding indie-rock a la Wolf Alice or Black Honey or the ravenous post-punk of Eagulls. Instead, their approach is more cinematic and even teeters on the border of psychedelic country-rock. Whatever one wants to call it, their music is pretty awesome, as evidenced by their new single, “Make Amends”.
The song sounds like Matt Berninger collaborating with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, as Mark S. Aaron’s vocals share a remarkable likeness to The National’s frontman. Musically, the song is dark, edgy, and a touch theatrical. The entire song is like a short film, slowly rising as the plot reaches its climax and then falling during the denouement. Aaron, meanwhile, tells a mysterious tale of two people coming together and then becoming separated. For them to make amends, something cruel and maybe even unnatural must happen. Or maybe it’s more simple than that and all the guy needs to do is say, “I’m sorry.” But that’s what makes a song truly great – it allows the listener to go wild with her imagination.
Other States are Mark S. Aaron (lead vocals), Mike Lord (piano/backing vocals), Cameron Dawson (bass), Max Numajiri (guitar), Chris Boot (drums), and Lb (percussion/backing vocals).
Walter TV – “Graceland” (Vancouver, Canada)
RIYL: Yeasayer + Vampire Weekend + Animal Collective + Deerhoof + a big imagination
For the better part of this decade, Walter TV have been entertaining and wowing a core following of fans (which includes us). If you don’t know who they are, here’s a quick introduction. The Vancouver-based outfit is comprised of members of Mac DeMarco’s backing band. At one point, DeMarco was a member as was Peter Sagar, a.k.a. HOMESHAKE. But as those two achieved success as solo artists, they left the band, but still from time-to-time collaborate with Pierce McGarry, Joe McMurray, and Simon Ankenman.
In 2012, the trio released a really great album, Appetite, which was re-released in 2014. It was unlike anything heard in years. It was a little weird, a little wacky, and just a riot with its blend of multiple genres and cultural influences into one delirious sound. The LP, consequently, left yours truly wanting more. In 2015, they released their sophomore album, Blessed, and now they’re preparing for record number three.
The lead single is “Graceland”, which has nothing to do, at least sonically, with Elvis Presley. Instead, it’s more of the intelligent wackiness that we’ve grown to love about Walter TV. The lo-fi arrangements are once again unique, mixing surf-pop-rock, Caribbean textures, and neo-psychedelia. And in its own bizarre way, the song will have you dancing or least bopping around like pop corn kernels being heated up on the stove. What exactly McGarry is saying I have no idea, but his vocals have a surprisingly hallucinating quality. This is just part of the charm that is Walter TV.
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