The Matinee June 13th has a bit of a familiar feel in that many of the artists and bands listed before have been featured before. We kick things off with the return of one of indie rock’s great bands.
Wolf Alice – “Yuk Foo” (London, England)
RIYL: Siouxsie Sioux, Hole, Dead Kennedys
In 2014 and 2015, Wolf Alice was the talk of the music world, rising quickly from a little band only known within the UK scene to becoming global stars. Their debut album, My Love Is Cool, occupied numerous “Best of” and “Favorite Albums” lists, including our own. The London-based quartet have returned with what can only be described as a banger.
Whereas a lot of bands and artists are heading towards more electronic and pop direction, Wolf Alice have taken their blistering indie-rock and amped up the noise several notches on “Yuk Foo”. Heck, it isn’t even an indie-rock track, but a fiery and ferocious post-punk number. It sears with the intensity of the Dead Kennedys and Siouxsie Sioux of the ’70s, as the guitars and rhythms erupt from the start and never relent. Frontwoman Ellie Rowsell, meanwhile, sings with the aggression of Patti Smith in her prime, shouting out to the person who has betrayed her, “You bore me to death! No, I don’t give a shit!”
“Yuk Foo” is not just another song; it’s a mind-blowing statement by one of the great bands of the past five years. It is one those rare tunes that deserves a “F*ck Yeah!”
The band is comprised of Ellie Rowsell, Joff Oddie, Theo Ellis, and Joel Amey. They’ll be heading out on a massive tour starting in July. Tour dates can be found on their website.
Julia Jacklin – “Eastwick” (Blue Mountains, Australia)
RIYL: Angel Olsen, Big Thief, Nadia Reid
2016 was an enormous year for Julia Jacklin, who became everyone’s sweetheart. Her debut album, Don’t Let The Kids Win, was a masterpiece that bridged the divide between indie rock and alt-country as well the music of the ’70s and contemporary styles. The LP also unveiled to the world an enormously gifted songwriter, who told stories that were personal, humorous, and enlightening. Even after she released the record, she kept busy, covering songs by the likes of Big Thief and touring endlessly across the globe. And on one of her stops – Auckland, New Zealand to be specific – she recorded her latest gem, “Eastwick”.
Jacklin describes “Eastwick” as “a song about Dancing with the Stars-induced depression”, but listening to it will leave you breathless and mesmerized. Her voice sounds richer and stronger, yet retaining every bit of the smooth and stunning delivery. The lyrics are, as usual, biting, clever, and intimate.
In what would make good TV
The grieving process for all to see
But I don’t want my father’s ashes
Scattered over stranger’s couches.
And it might make for a fun night in the fire
Wore a dress and slept with him
But I really hate showing my legs
Even when the Sydney summer begs me.
Through the first 2 1/2 minutes, we are absorbed into Jacklin’s imagination and mind. Then for the final 90 seconds, she blows us away with a reverb-drenched, electrifying ending. The guitar work is fantastic and we are left in awe, just like the first time we met her. She is, unquestionably, one of the great singer-songwriters today.
Gordi – “Heaven I Know” (Sydney via Canowindra, Australia)
RIYL: Imogean Heap, Doe Paoro, S. Carey
The story of a young woman moving to the big city and having her dreams come true is only read in fairy tales and seen in the movies. That is unless you’re name is Sophie Payten.
Born in the small farming community of Canowindra, which resides west of the beautiful Blue Mountains region of New South Wales, Payten, under her moniker Gordi, became a favorite of super-Aussie station Triple-J early in 2015. Since then, her fame has grown. Her debut EP, Clever Disguise, was a critical darling, and the single, “Can We Work It Out”, became a global hit. She also signed with Jagjaguwar last year, who released the EP internationally.
Payten’s debut album is now on the horizon, and the lead single is the stunning “Heaven I Know”. The song is like an evening next to an open fire. It is warm and hypnotic, and despite its peaceful flicker it burns with an intensity that is felt right to your bones. Payten’s voice is cool, calm, and spectacular, possessing the enchanting allure of Imogean Heap. The delicate instrumentation, highlighted by the solemn horns, is akin to the wintry solace of Bon Iver’s early work and S. Carey, who makes an appearance on the album. The song is absolutely beautiful.
Stardom awaits this young woman from a small town. Who says dreams cannot come true?
Gordi’s debut album, Reservoir, is out August 25th via Jagjaguwar. Needless to say, we cannot wait.
Highland Kites – “I’m Not Weak” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Daughter, Sharon Van Etten, Douse
A phrase that we love to use is, “Making the brooding beautiful.” Songs that are dark yet rich, haunting but immensely captivating. Music that penetrates deep through your skin, causes every muscle to tense, and chill you right to your bones. Daughter and Sharon Van Etten are masters of this art, and Highland Kites could very well join them if their latest single is any indication of what to expect.
“I’m Not Weak” is a stunning and beautifully gripping song. The dissonant guitar is entrancing, and the percussion pound of the purposeful steps of a person on a mission. Frontwoman Marissa Lamar, who is the mastermind behind the band, meanwhile, steals the show with her stirring vocals and intense yet hopeful lyrics. Her message is timely given the events around the world.
I finally realize that it’s o.k. to not feel hate.
I finally realize that I’m not weak for always forgiving.
That I’m not weak.
Lamar’s optimism is founded on her experiences, having battled Lyme disease for most of her twenties and falling into a state of despair. She, however, found her way, and now she’s sharing her experiences and lessons by making the brooding beautiful.
Highland Kites are Marissa Lamar (vocals/keys/guitar), Neil Briggs (drums/percussion), and Alex Edwards (guitar).
I Am Harlequin – “Hooked” (London, England via Dresden, Germany)
RIYL: Goldfrapp, Ladytron, Sheena Easton
It’s been a little while since we’ve heard from Anne Freier, the woman behind the disco-pop / synth-pop project, I Am Harlequin. She’s been featured on a few songs over the past 2+ years, but she hasn’t released anything new. Well, that changed yesterday when she unexpectedly released “Hooked”, which perfectly describes the effects of this tune.
“Hooked” is ’80s synth-pop perfection. The glimmering synths are hip shaking while Freier’s operatic vocals are absolutely stunning. Those who grew up in the eighties may hear Chaka Khan or Sheena Easton, two women who performed with Prince. For more contemporary tastes, the song swirls with the infectious, groovy vibes of Goldfrapp, Ladytron, and Psychic Twin. Freier isn’t just another artist; she’s a living, breathing time machine.
Revisit an interview between Freier and our own Wendy Redden, which is from October 2014.
The Lovepools – “Animal Instinct” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Pavement, Billy Joel, Mac DeMarco
If you are in dire need of a laugh, then you have come to the right spot in The Matinee. Anthony Shea is unlike most artists, as through his project The Lovepools he’s making extremely whimsical songs that make Mac DeMarco’s music sound like Simon & Garfunkel. His latest single, “Animal Instinct”, takes the classic love song and turns it on its head and then some.
The song isn’t about a relationship even though the song’s title may indicate a wild night of unadulterated love making between two people. It’s not even about humans. The song literally is about animals and their natural behaviors, and Shea takes on the role of multiple animals.
Hey you, I’ll be a monkey in your zoo.
No homo sapien could ever have a chance with you.
I see you planted, so I swing from tree to tree.
Deep in the jungle, you’re a tigress waiting patiently.
What adds to the song’s humor is the approach he’s taken. The song is ’80s piano-pop a la Billy Joel mixed with Rick Astley grooves and Stephen Malkmus’ quirky ideas. We always ask for creative songwriting, and Shea has hit it out of the park. “Animal Instinct” is one fun, albeit zany, experience.
Other States – “My Beau” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Timber Timbre, El Vy, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
It might be time to anoint Other States as a band to watch. Not just casually glance over to see what they may be up to, but to seriously follow their career. Less than two weeks ago, the Brighton-based sextet shared the theatrical “Make Amends”. Late last week, they released another song that is even more cinematic than their first.
Through the merging of the stuttering, jazzy percussion, the hypnotic bass line, the dissonant tinges of the electric guitar, and the tickling of the ivories, a film-noir atmosphere is established in “My Beau”. The air feels like the cool and suspenseful mystique in The Woman in the Window. The storytelling of Frontman Mark S. Aaron – whose voice is akin to Matt Berninger of The National – echoes Fritz Lang’s masterpiece, as he tells the tale of a woman entrapped and murdered by a mad man.
You squeeze my legs and cut the lights
Engage the bastards of my mind
You held my throat and shook my spine
The perfect game to kill the time.
“My Beau” exemplifies everything we crave in a song. Masterful songwriting, creative and moving arrangements, and a song that we will remember for a very long time.
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).
The Ruby Suns – “Waterslide” (Oslo, Norway via Auckland, New Zealand)
RIYL: Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, Grayson Gilmour
The Ruby Suns‘ music is beyond description, which isn’t surprising from this globe-trotting band. Formed in Auckland, New Zealand by California-born Ryan McPhun, the group currently calls Oslo home, and they’ve taken something from every stop and integrated into their experimental pop-rock sound.
If pressed, their music is a mix of the innovative indie rock of Grizzly Bear with the eclectic, experimental, alt-pop of Animal Collective. Last week, they released their new album, Sprite Foundation (via Sellout! Music), and the one song that reveals their creativity is “Waterslide”. The rumbling percussion, the tinges of the electric guitar, the whirling synths, and the trap-like production swell into a trippy but lavishing soundscape. Don’t sleep on McPhun’s lyrics, though, as he uses the image of a young girl falling down a waterslide as an allegory for the fall of the world around us. Everything seems to be spiraling out of control and falling apart at the seams. It’s a clever piece of songwriting from an underrated band.
Sleep Good – “Somewhere” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: Sleep Party People, Calvin Love, Lake Ruth
With the rumbling drums that segue into a crescendo of piano, keys, bass, and guitar, it becomes immediately known that “Somewhere” will be spectacular. The first song from the Will Patterson-led project, Sleep Good, in two years sees the college radio and indie blog favorites add a theatrical element. Their breezy brand of dream-pop, however, remains, resulting in a song that is simultaneously enthralling, dark, and hypnotic. The instrumentation is sensational, slowly building into a dramatic finale that will sweep you away.
Patterson’s vocals are sublime, and his songwriting remains impeccable. The story is both introspective and a suspenseful and gripping, as we are taken alongside a man searching for something. It might be purpose in his life; a long, lost love (he does mention his lost wife); or just companionship. What we do know is this man is forever on the run, escaping his past while chasing down a memory. Sounds like something out of The Twilight Zone, but it is coming from a little band on the verge of big things.
“Somewhere” is the lead single from the band’s forthcoming, new album, Bohemian Grove. It will be released August 15th on YK Records.
Sleep Good are Will Patterson (vocals/guitar), Austin Jones (bass), Justin Davidson (synth/percussion), Nacho Guerrero (guitar), and John Kolar (drums).
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