We’ve truly gone around the world with today’s new music selections. The Matinee June 22nd spans four continents and seven countries. Three songs are a couple of weeks old, and we’re wondering how the heck we missed them! Fortunately, they’re still fresh and worthy of being heard for weeks, if not months, on end.
A. Sinclair – “Just Remind Me” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: Brendan Canning, The Dears, Bloc Party
Every time we hear the music of A. Sinclair, the more we think they should be based out of Canada or the UK. Their anthemic sound is right out of the indie-rock scenes of Toronto, which birthed Broken Social Scene; Montreal, home to Arcade Fire and The Dears; and London and Manchester, which have seen bands like Bloc Party and The Stone Roses pass through. They likely would be selling out venues like Shepherd’s Bush and The Metropolis, which we believe will happen one day, especially if they continue to release singles like “Just Remind Me.”
The song is like a triple espresso first thing in the morning. It is a shot of energy that opens your eyes, raises your blood pressure, and has you ready to conquer the world. The drum roll that opens the song warms you up while the delayed guitar, which is right out of the UK scene, gets the adrenaline flowing. The bass line is awesome, pounding in the background and mimicking our accelerating heart rate. Meanwhile, frontman Aaron Sinclair is our commander, singing urgently and calling on us to move forward and forget about everything. And there’s only one thing that we can do – follow his lead and allow this song to be our anthem for the day.
The song is out now via Dangerbird Records. The band is comprised of Aaron Sinclair (lead vocals/guitar), Ben Lance (guitar), Benjamin Houtman (keys), Jud Johnson (drums/vocals), Brendan Bond (bass/vocals), and Michael Booher (guitar).
Chad VanGaalen – “Old Heads” (Calgary, Canada)
RIYL: Richard Swift, Jonathan Richman, Timber Timbre
Chad VanGaalen is a Canadian institution. He might not have the popularity of other singer-songwriters or producers, but he’s long been one of the most respected individuals within the country’s music scene for well over a decade. As a producer, he was the man behind Alvvays’ self-titled breakout album; he also worked with Women and Preoccupations. The singer-songwriter side, though, is a whole different world. Actually, VanGaalen lives in his own universe that is beyond an ordinary person’s imagination. The best way to describe the Calgary native is that he is the music equivalent to famed Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro.
His 2014 album, SHRINK DUST, was a critical hit, including being one of our favorite albums of that year. It was clever, whimsical, off-the-wall, and a sheer delight. Now that he’s set aside the producing role, he’ll be rolling out a new album late in the summer, and the first single from it is “Old Heads.”
Like every song he’s written, “Old Heads” is a perplexing but immensely fun, quirky, and uplifting. The bridge features a catchy interplay between the dissonant, jangly guitar and synth. The chorus is fantastic, and you’ll be singing along with VanGaalen, “Who is the operator / keeping all myselves together?” We may not know exactly what this means, yet for some reason we sort of understand to what the mastermind is alluding. So who is the operator if it isn’t ourselves?
Chad VanGaalen’s new album, Light Information, will be released on September 8th via Flemish Eye (Canada) and Sub Pop (world). Pre-order the LP at the FE store, Sub Pop store, iTunes, and Bandcamp (Canada / rest of the world).
Desert Planes – “Hot Cars In The Sun” (London, England)
RIYL: Sundara Karma, Nothing but Thieves, TEN FÉ
While we were remiss to not have shared songs by some of our favorites sooner, we are even more surprised by our lack of awareness of Desert Planes. Sure, this indie-rock outfit out of London has only been around for over a year, but their debut singles (“Wake in Fright” and “Together Apart”) had several tastemakers proclaiming their immediate affection for the band. It’s time for us to make amends.
Their new single, “Hot Cars In The Sun”, is an exhilarating indie-rock anthem that bursts with the awe-inspiring electricity of New Year’s Day fireworks. The energy that explodes from the speakers is akin to Sundara Karma’s most anthemic numbers, so this song will have people jumping out of their seats and dancing. And like their Reading-based cousins, “Hot Cars In The Sun” is more than just entertainment. It is a thoughtful, endearing story about unrequited love. (No, it’s not about the heatwave that has enveloped much of the Northern Hemisphere.)
The single is out via LAB Records. Looks like we might have another favorite band.
Desert Planes are Tom Farrer (vocals), Ben Niblett (drums), Simon Bloor (guitar), and Dominik Hayman (bass).
Gang of Youths – “Let Me Down Easy” (Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: Future Islands, The National, Jagwar Ma
The first song that we’re kicking ourselves for not sharing sooner is from Gang of Youths. If you have not heard of them, they are indie heavyweights Down Under, essentially the equivalent to The National and Future Islands. If they lived in the US, they undoubtedly would be massive stars because their music is refreshingly creative, their lyrics are honest and timely, and each song has a way of touching everyone. Their newest single, “Let Me Down Easy”, reveals all of these traits and then some.
Heavy rhythms and the strum of strings welcome us immediately, creating a tantalizingly groovy vibe. As the song progresses and the tempo slightly accelerates, a feeling of levitation starts to build inside us. Suddenly, we are floating in the air as the song reaches its most breathtaking moments. This song, however, is anything but a fleeting escapade. It is a story of two people wanting and fighting for different things – one for a cause and the other for each other (think Forrest Gump).
So you can join the cowards all aboard the outrage train.
You can stay afraid or slit the throat of fear and be brave,
And scratch a little itch ‘till you’re moving like a motherfucker
Up in this bitch.
You wanted to fight for a cause?
Then go out and fall in love.
This band always impresses. Now it’s time the rest of the world catches on to what the folks Down Under already know.
The single is out now via Mosy Recordings with exclusive rights to Sony Music. Gang of Youths are Max Dunn (bass), Jung Kim (guitar/keyboards), David Le’aupepe (lead vocals/piano), Joji Malani (lead guitar), and Donnie Borzestowski (drums).
Hater – “Coming Down” (Malmö, Sweden)
RIYL: Sløtface, Alvvays, Honeyblood
It was just three months ago when Hater released their debut album, You Tried, which is a dreamy and intoxicating affair. Even before their LP dropped, they had us hooked with their rousing guitar pop/rock. But in case you missed them or overlooked the record, they released a new single two weeks ago.
It’s not exactly a new single, though, as “Coming Down” was released as a bonus track on You Tried, though only on the record sold in Japan. In listening to the song, it would have fit perfectly within the album, and possibly could have been its closer.
The song retains the late-’80s, early-’90s anthemic pop-rock that Hater have mastered over the last 18 months. There is, however, a great cinematic vibe heard within “Coming Down.” The track is grittier, darker, and more urgent, sounding like the atmosphere that engulfs a car as its lone passenger drives through unlit, deserted streets in the wee hours of the morning. Frontwoman Caroline Landahl’s vocals are extremely vulnerable and full of memory as she retells the story of “missteps” and the eventual loss of someone dear. This is just another example of Hater’s potential and the music that has many people, including ourselves, constantly uttering a single word – “Wow!”
The single and the album, You Tried, are available via PNKSLM Recordings.
Hater are Måns Leonartsson, Adam Agace, Lukas Thomasson, and Caroline Landahl.
HOLY WARS – “Orphan” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Chelsea Wolfe, Kate Bush, Evanescence
It was only a month ago when Kat Leon – a.k.a. HOLY WARS – shared her debut single, “I Can’t Feel A Thing” , which was a cathartic, hair-raising rocker. The song, however, was a powerful story about a woman dealing with grief and loss, specifically losing her parents within a matter of months. That woman is Leon, who lost her parents recently. The follow-up is another powerhouse, but one where Leon’s emotions are completely unveiled.
“Orphan” is a gripping, mesmerizing number that merges elements of doom rock with the cinematic goth-rock of Kate Bush and Chelsea Wolfe. The searing guitars, hardened rhythms, and Leon’s soaring vocals form a wall of sound that pounds on your chest again and again. While the music is dark and heavy, it is a reflection of the pain and anger of a woman who has lost her heart and soul and is now alone. Her lyrics are emotional and hard-hitting:
They all will go away in time.
You are left alone.
So dip your head and go,
A kingdom waits for you.
“Orphan” is not simply a brilliant song; it is arguably one of the most powerful numbers of the year. Holy Wars’ two forthcoming EPs should likewise be memorable. The first, Mother, arrives June 30th. The second EP, Father, is planned for later in 2017.
Iron & Wine – “Call It Dreaming” (Chapin, SC, USA)
RIYL: Iron & Wine, Ray Lamontagne, José González
The final song that we somehow missed (or ignored?) was Iron & Wine‘s latest single. How we didn’t come across “Call It Dreaming” is beyond our comprehension, but we’re immensely glad to have a second chance because this might be Sam Beam’s most stunning single since “Flightless Bird.” It is undoubtedly his dreamiest number to date.
“Call It Dreaming” is the perfect song to have playing while you and your loved one are snuggled next to an open fire or sitting on the porch as the rain gently falls. Beam’s lush vocals, similarly, wash over you and ease all tension. The wonderful instrumentation, meanwhile, stir your body and mind, creating a feeling of quiet exhilaration and causing you to slowly exhale. So sit back, hold your partner tightly, close your eyes, and experience every single second of this glorious song that will lift your soul. It is simply gorgeous.
The video for the song is also well worth watching, as it will put a smile on your face.
ISADORA – “Leave Me” (Tel Aviv, Israel)
RIYL: BROODS, Purity Ring, Yumi Zouma
When ISADORA graced us with their presence the first time back in January, they delivered the ideal song, “Let It Burn”, to lift our spirits during a time of uncertainty and turmoil. Five months later, they return with another track that offers welcome relief from the heat waves engulfing much of the northern hemisphere.
“Leave Me” is a stunning and cool electro-pop number. The song begins and ends with the lush, enrapturing vocals of frontwoman Isadora Kaufman. There is a power in her voice, yet she keeps it restrained to soothe our minds and seduce our hearts. Her words, however, indicate the opposite, as she begs to be released from the grips of a former love. “I would ask you to leave me, but I can’t”, she calls out emotionally and almost tearfully. The production work and instrumentation on the song are masterfully executed, as every note and element are purposefully kept low-key. As such, the keys, beats, and effects mimic the yearning and pain in Kaufman’s voice, heightening the song’s cinematic drama. Dazzling and beautiful. We have found another band that has us wrapped around their fingers.
ISADORA are Isadora Kaufman (vocals/songwriting/composition), Dotan Moshanov (composition/keys/production), and Yaron Goren (drums/composition).
Sobs – “Girl” (Singapore)
RIYL: Fazerdaze, Alvvays, Jay Som
Singapore is quietly developing a great indie music scene. And unlike some cities, it’s not focused on a single genre. We’ve been introduced to the garage rock of Knightingale and the lush ambience of Linying. Now we get the city-state’s answer to Alvvays in Sobs.
On Friday, June 23rd (tomorrow), the guitar-pop trio will release their debut EP and its lead single, “Girl.” Despite their sad name, Sobs deliver a vibrant, groovy tune. The jangly, sun-kissed guitar notes scream summer, and they’re worthy of a few shoulder shimmies. The classic bass line and the stuttering drums, meanwhile, are head-noddingly delightful. Frontwoman Celine Autumn’s soft, whispery vocals are intoxicating, drawing you further into Sobs’ little sonic world. Her story is familiar but clever, explaining how one person can become irrationally infatuated with another. Kind of like how we are extremely smitten with Sobs.
Sobs are Celine Autumn, Jared Lim, and Raphael Ong.
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