In the past twenty-four hours, Radiohead shared “I Promise”, an unreleased song from their seminal album, OK Computer. Phoenix revealed “Goodbye Soleil”. Lorde shared “Perfect Places”, the latest track from her house party-influenced new album. Finally, Arcade Fire unveiled the disco-pop track, “Everything Now”. We’ve opted to go in a different direction for The Matinee June 2nd, sharing tunes by lesser-known artists, for the most part. The first band you likely will know (and hopefully love as much as we do).
The War on Drugs – “Holding On” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Future Islands, Bruce Springsteen, Glen Frey
We kick things off with one of the great bands of the past decade. Through three albums and two EPs, The War on Drugs have taken ’80s-inspired rock ‘n roll and reinvented it for 21st Century palettes. Wagonwheel Blues put them on the radar, but the brilliant Slave Ambient made them stars. Their last LP, 2014’s Lost in the Dream, though, may have been their best with its cinematic affairs and jaw-dropping rockers.
At the end of April, the Philadelphia-based collective dropped the epic “Thinking Of A Place”, which teased of things to come. Yesterday, they officially announced what fans have been waiting for – a new album is coming this summer. The lead single gives hope that the LP #4 will be spectacular.
“Holding On” is extravagant. The ’80s-esque rock influence is retained, sparkling with the energy Bruce Springsteen in his late 20s and early 30s. Yet there is a Future Islands vibe the percolates throughout the song, as synths buzz through the track to complement the tingling guitar riffs. Adam Granduciel’s vocals, meanwhile, are as strong and animated as they were a decade ago. Lyrically, the story is right out of Bryan Adams’ songbook, as Granduciel takes us on a race through time to chase down a dream and the one we love. Most importantly, the song makes us feel alive, and we cannot wait for what’s on the horizon.
The War on Drugs are Adam Granduciel, David Hartley, Robbie Bennett, Charlie Hall, Anthony Lamarca, and Jon Natchez.
Francisco the Man – “I’ll Feel Better” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Here We Go Magic, Royal Canoe, LVL UP
The weather may be getting warmer and summer holidays are on the horizon, but we all still have moments where we’re down in the dumps and need a pick-me-up. Fortunately, Los Angeles-based quartet Francisco the Man have returned from their three-year break with the perfect gift.
Their new single, “I’ll Feel Better”, is like seeing the first blossoms bursting from the trees and flowers budding from the ground, awakening from their long winter hibernation. This irresistible song is a shot of energy, and its upbeat, positive nature leaves a permanent smile on one’s face. And if you’re really in the mood, “I’ll Feel Better” will have you unabashedly prancing around wherever you may be. If people are staring at you with a puzzled look, just turn up the volume and share your exhilaration with them because this song is meant to be heard by everyone. Welcome back Scotty Cantino (vocals/guitar), Néstor Romero (bass), Abdeel Ortega (drums), and Brock Woolsey (guitar/keys)!
This song is from the band’s new album Bodies in the Sun. Order it on Bandcamp.
Hachiku – “Moon Face” (Melbourne, Australia via Detroit, USA)
RIYL: Amber Arcades, Great Profile, Briana Marela
She’s opened for the great Courtney Barnett, and now she’s a member of the Aussie’s label. Meet 22-year old Anika Ostendorf, who goes by the moniker Hachiku. Born in Detroit, raised in Germany, and now calling Melbourne home, Ostendorf’s style isn’t quite like Barnett’s indie rock / folk-rock mix, opting instead for intimate bedroom dream-pop. She does, however, share Barnett’s witty and vivid style of songwriting, which the world will get to discover very soon.
Hachiku’s eponymous, debut EP will officially be released on June 2nd on Milk Records. From it is “Moon Face”, which is a dazzling and breathtaking number that feels like a fantasy coming to life. The delicate guitar strums and quaint rhythms create a beautiful, enchanting atmosphere, and Ostendorf’s heavenly vocals are warm and endearing. Her lyrics are full hope, yet they are mystical. While the full moon is often equated with werewolves, for Ostendorf it represents something completely different – the start of a new life. And she would definitely know a lot about new beginnings, seeing the hope and optimism in change.
If you like what you hear, Hachiku can be pre-ordered here.
JOSEPH OF MERCURY – “Young Thing” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: David Bowie, Joe Jackson, Perfume Genius
How is JOSEPH OF MERCURY not more popular? The Toronto-Los Angeles singer-songwriter has released two of the most sensational songs of the year. In early March, he shared the Roy Orbison-esque “Without Words” and followed that up with the ravishing and sultry “Find You Inside”. He’s back with his third song of the year, which is another eye-opener.
Whereas the previous two songs were euphoric, “Young Thing” is a haunting and gripping number. The synths have been stretched out to give them an organ-like feel, and JOSEPH OF MERCURY’s voice has been restrained to almost a whispery, seductive quality. Yet there is also a creepy element to the song, as the artist takes on the role of an obsessed lover, maybe a stalker. “You’re my favorite young thing”, he repeats in an anguished and desperate tone. It’s an unexpected number, but nevertheless a brilliant track from one of Canada’s emerging talents. Don’t be surprised to hear this dramatic and cinematic song on television or in a featured film soon. It’s that good.
Kitty, Daisy & Lewis – “Down on My Knees” (London, England)
RIYL: Elle King, Fascinations Grand Chorus, Jenny Lewis
Time to pick up the pace once again and get the hips shaking and the toes tapping. We don’t know anyone else better placed to do this than sibling trio Kitty, Daisy & Lewis.
The long-time UK favorites are getting set to release their fourth album in the fall, and it promises to feature the same mix of blues, rock, gospel, and R&B that has won over tens of thousands of fans across the globe. Oh, then there’s the matter of their fun and often light-hearted lyrics that are often as entertaining as the music they create. Their new single, “Down on My Knees”, showcases the band’s talents.
The song is a groovy, ’50s- and ’60s-inspired, blues rocker. Images of guys donning white T-shirts and leather jackets with plenty of gel in their thick hairs and women in pastel-coloured dressed with their hair tied back in a ponytail will dance in your head. Couples doing the jive, The Freddie, or The Hitch Hike may also be envisioned, or maybe you’ll grab the nearest person and start doing The Shimmy together. This song is made for dancing and perfect for any summer party. Invite your grandparents, too, because they’ll surely show the youngsters a thing or two.
Kitty, Daisy & Lewis’ new album, Superscope, is out September 29th on Sunday Best Recordings.
Radula – “Never Scared” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: L.A. Witch, Mermaidens, The Cranberries
As the world gets smaller, it also becomes less safe. Privacy and anonymity are relics of the pre-technology revolution. Hate speech and crimes are on the rise. Sexual assaults and domestic violence incidents have spiked in the United States since the election of Donald Trump. For many, fear has become an unwelcome part of their daily lives, yet many aren’t succumbing to it. One band staring fear in the face are Radula.
Based out of Stockholm, the trio’s new single, “Never Scared”, is a haunting, melodic number. Its dark textures are akin to the witch rock of L.A. Witch and New Zealand’s Mermaidens. The delayed chimes of the electric guitar act, however, like the beacon of light, offering a bit of optimism. The lyrics are also empowering, particularly the opening stanza.
Momma told me to take this number.
Call if danger, call if danger.
Poppa told me never to go out alone.
Well I’m always alone.
Grandma gave me pepper,
She said to always keep it in your pocket.
But I am never scared.
No I’m not ever scared.
And I will walk the streets, though my feet want to run.
Tantalizing is this first single by another great band from the Swedish music factory. More to be heard when Radula’s EP, Beyond Tears, is released June 9th via Lazy Octopus Records.
Radula are Hillevi Duus (drums), Tove Möller (electric guitar), and Ella Blixt (bass).
Ramonda Hammer – “Destroyers” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Hole, Alanis Morissette, Slothrust
Just the other day, I was wondering when Ramonda Hammer would drop a new single. Lo and behold, they answered my question and in a resounding way. Their new single, “Destroyers”, is absolutely gnarly.
Like a phoenix rising out of the ashes of the ’90s grunge scene, “Destroyers” is a hard-hitting, unpretentious rocker. Frontwoman Devin Davis’ vocals are ferocious, blaring out of the speakers with the intensity of Shirley Manson. Her lyrics, meanwhile, are akin to Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill”, as she recants how so many have attempted to destroy her dreams, ideas, and the person she is. The wailing guitars and the hammering rhythms are cataclysmic, and they are right out of Seattle’s underground grunge scene of the late ’80s. If you didn’t live during the height of grunge, Ramonda Hammer will give you a taste of what you were missing.
Ramonda Hammer are Devin Davis, Andy Hengl, Justin Geter, and Mark Edwards.
Sløtface – “Nancy Drew” (Stavanger, Norway)
RIYL: Estrons, Wolf Alice, Paramore
They first resurrected the cult film “Empire Records”, and now Norwegian post-punk rockers Sløtface are tackling another iconic, pop culture reference on their new single. For those who were into young adult mysteries, “Nancy Drew” was the detective of choice. Not The Pink Panther nor Inspector Agent and not even Tin Tin.
Sløtface’s frontwoman Haley Shea has captured the spirit, intelligence, and courage of the popular female sleuth. But instead of going after criminals, she’s breaking down the walls of the male-dominated music industry. As Shea explains:
“The song is about this super hero I tried to create that’s based on Nancy Drew. The lyrics are an attempt at making a song that has a more positive spin on an album that is mostly about things I’m nervous about, or things that are worrying in general. For this song, I wanted to create a kind of super hero saviour, so I drew inspiration from Nancy Drew and tried to imagine a bad-ass super hero who crushes the music industry’s boys’ club and the patriarchy with one punch.”
Similar to a Mike Tyson uppercut, this song will knock you out. Shea’s songwriting is honest and powerful. Tor-Arne Vikingstad’s guitar is electrifying and intense. Lasse Lokøy’s bass line is awesome, like a jack hammer pounding right against your temples. The drumming of Halvard Skeie Wiencke is fantastic, and it is executed with military precision. Like Shea’s songwriting, the trio’s instrumentation has also matured and progressed over the past 18 months. This band, as we said many, many moons ago, is on to something really big.
This might happen as early as September 15th when their debut album, Try Not To Freak Out, arrives. Propeller Recordings will release it.
Slow Skies – “Dancing” (Dublin, Ireland)
RIYL: Natalie Prass, Laura Marling, Oh Pep!
On the Emerald Island, Karen Sheridan – better known as Slow Skies – has developed a reputation as one of the country’s most tantalizing singer-songwriters. With an angelic voice and an approach that endears to even the most hardened hearts, she will soon be a household name across the globe. Her new single exemplifies why thousands of people have fallen in love with the young artist.
“Dancing” personifies grace in music. The alt-folk-pop vibe is warm and vibrant, causing one’s heart and soul to levitate into the stratosphere. The rhythms will induce unexpected hand clapping. Sheridan’s voice and songwriting, though, are what suck you in to this dazzling number. Memories of the first dance with your life partner will flood in to your mind. The nervousness, anxiety, and exhilaration of the moment will be recalled, but this time around the song that is playing is different. It’s “Dancing” that is heard, and it makes for a great substitute.
Sheridan’s new album is expected later this year. Check her social media for updates.
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