The Matinee June 30th features another exhilarating set of new music. Nine songs once again are shared. There are some familiar names and a few that are still making a name for themselves. Listen right to the end because the final song is one of the year’s most stunning.
CYMBALS – “Car Crash” (London England & Paris, France)
RIYL: Future Islands, Austra, Said the Whale
Plenty of bands evolve over time, but one of the most interesting transformations of this decade has been the one CYMBALS have undertaken. The duo of Jack Cleverly and Dan Simons commenced their careers as a fiery, post-punk band, joining the likes of METZ, The Men, and Japandroids. For their 2014 debut album, Age of Fracture, however, they did a 180 and channeled the likes of New Order and Depeche Mode in creating a sizzling and sometimes dark synth-pop album. What will their sophomore album hold in store? If the second single from the LP is of any indication, it’s the further progression of their new sound.
As synth-pop numbers go, “Car Crash” is a stunning affair. The restrained synths, the jazzy drums, the hollowness of the keys, and the trembling, crystalline guitar create a soundscape that is simultaneously intimate, warm, and groovy. It’s the perfect song for a dance party where everyone can lose themselves in CYMBALS’ radiance. Despite the engrossing atmosphere, Cleverly’s lyrics, which are sung in English and French, are immensely vulnerable and personal. It’s a story of a man spiraling downwards and trying to regain control of his life. You won’t find another song as captivating, real, and honest as “Car Crash.”
Eldoradio – “China House” (Trollhättan, Sweden)
RIYL: The Hunna, The Men, Japandroids
Someone didn’t tell Eldoradio that Swedish bands are supposed to be creating some of the most innovative pop and dream-pop music on the planet. Instead, this quintet sounds like they are from Manchester, Brooklyn, or Vancouver with their blistering brand of indie rock, as evidenced by their new single.
“China House” is a get-up-out-of-your-seat, frantically-whirl-around, and jump-up-and-down-like-there’s-no-tomorrow song. It is an ear-splitting, mindblowing, rocking delight reminiscent of the mid-’90s and early-’00s when rock music was relentless and energetic. And like the music of that era, Eldoradio have written an anthem for today’s youth, reflecting their desires to just live life and be free. Heck, this song applies to everyone, as no matter your age, we all want to go out dancing on a Saturday night, crash at a friend’s place after a difficult day, and engage in the odd prank. You better believe this song deserves a “F*ck yeah!”
“China House” is from the band’s debut album, 21st Century Explosive Sound, which is out now via Welfare Sounds & Records.
Eldoradio are Thomas Keen, Adam Johansson, Anton Thorstensson, August Johansson, and Tomas Berglund.
Midnight Sister – “Blue Cigar” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Weyes Blood, Rubblebucket, Sam Fermin
There have been quite a few new bands that have made our ears perk up, our eyes pop wide open, and our mouths drop. Los Angeles-based duo Midnight Sister is one of them. Their debut single (“Leave You”) was an astonishingly brilliant track that showcased Juliana Giraffe and Ari Balouzian’s creativity, as neo-psychedelia was infused into a ’40s film-noir vibe. Single number two is just as inventive.
The only way to describe “Blue Cigar” is that it’s a wonderful kaleidoscope of sound. Mixing ’60s doo-wop, ’70s disco, 2010’s experimental/orchestral pop, and even dashes of Vaudeville, the song immediately sounds like a contemporary classic. It is sensual, groovy, and highly infectious. Giraffe’s vocals are sultry and intoxicating, akin to the great jazz singers of our time. Balouzian, meanwhile, weaves magic like a conductor, seamlessly merging the various arrangements into one addictive sound. Mmm… this tune is one delicious treat and is perfect for the weekend.
The National – “Guilty Party” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: The National
In an interview with Pitchfork earlier this year, The National‘s frontman Matt Berninger explained that the band wanted to explore new frontiers and expand their sound. On “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness,” the first single from their forthcoming seventh album, they reveal a heavier sound while infusing funk elements. The album’s second single goes in a different direction but with equally superb results.
“Guilty Party” may be The National’s most cinematic and endearing song. The first few seconds immediately introduce us to something new, as the Radiohead-like electronica tickles in the background before it’s joined by a piano and strings. Berninger’s familiar baritone then arrives, unexpectedly subdued and even whispery. The song builds into a beautiful, awe-inspiring crescendo. It is more theater than the brooding, sad-bastard, indie rock we’ve come to love. While The National have always been a band who share their emotions and opinions, they’ve never been this vulnerable. The experience is memorable, which has always been the case for the quintet many consider to be the best band on the planet.
The National’s new album, Sleep Well Beast, arrives September 8th via 4AD with pre-orders here. The band is comprised of Matt Berninger, Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner, Bryan Devendorf, and Scott Devendorf.
Ramonda Hammer – “Bender” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Slothrust, Waxahatchee, False Advertising
If grunge makes a comeback, one of the bands we can thank is Ramonda Hammer. The career of this extremely underrated band is following a similar path as Nirvana and Soundgarden – hovering under the radar and just blasting their gritty alternative rock. Their day will come, but for now a select few thousand will get to appreciate their brilliance and the connection they have with their fans.
For instance, their latest single, “Bender,” perfectly reflects the anxiety, depression, and uncertainty so many people feel. The searing guitars and hammering rhythms are the perfect canvas for the turmoil that hammers away in our minds and the roller coaster that so many experience. It is Devin Davis’ assertive vocals and poignant lyrics, though, that resonate with us. From binge eating to not eating to barely sleeping to not speaking to anyone, Davis perfectly articulates the daily struggles. There is a reason for that as she, too, has faced them. Instead of us describing her experiences, we’ll share her words:
“I wrote ‘Bender’ when I was binge-watching Shameless for two weeks straight, and I couldn’t get off the couch to do anything productive. In retrospect, I guess I could call it “research” or whatever because I ended up writing this song. But yeah the lyrics are really just a conversation between two opposing sides in one’s brain. The verses ask questions from the more sane, healthy part of one’s psyche, and the choruses respond from the anxiety-ridden, depressed, and very frustrated side.
“And the reason this person (okay, it’s me!) is so effing frustrated is because they care so so so much. But when crippling depression sets in from time to time, when they get caught in a bender of some sort, it’s so hard to do the things that make you happy. In a final cry, I end the song with, ‘I swear that I deserve good things’, because I think I do and I know other people feel the same.”
Ramonda Hammer are Devin Davis, Andy Hengl, Justin Geter, and Mark Edwards.
RIYL: Samaris, Poliça, darkDark
Enchantment is more than just a state of mind. It is an experience. A moment, a person, or a piece of literature can leave you wonderfully bewildered. Music, though, is the great enterprise of enchantment. It is the one art form where a song can haunt your mind for days if not weeks. Rat & Co‘s new song epitomizes music’s engrossing power.
Collaborating with fellow Melbourne-based singer Liahona, the electronic trio have created a spellbinding and alluring number with “Soldiers.” From the dark, subtle arrangements to Liahona’s soaring vocals, the song envelops your soul and never lets go. Every element is like an arrow piercing your skin and leaving a mark that will linger for a long time. As a result, avoid driving or operating heavy machinery when you listen, because “Soldiers” will leave you entranced and enchanted. Melbourne has another outstanding group for us to follow. We’ll need to make a road trip there soon.
The single is out on Smooch Records. Rat & Co are Joshua Delaney, John Waller, and Nick Park.
Rotana – “Over You” (Los Angeles, USA via Saudi Aradia)
RIYL: FKA Twigs, BANKS, Tash Sultana
Besides a great song that mesmerizes us with its sound and lyrics, we love a great story, particularly when it’s about the artist. Rotana‘s story is an inspiring one. Born in Saudi Arabia and with a decent career underway, Rotana quit her job at an oil company in 2014 in order to pursue her dream of becoming a singer and artist. She wouldn’t be able to do this in Saudi Arabia, so she immigrated to the U.S. and embarked on a new challenge. Three years later, she has become a role model and inspiration for millions of people around the world, including her home country. Now she is beginning to make major waves within the crowded American market thanks to her personal stories and tantalizing electro-pop.
Her new song, “Over You,” perfectly demonstrates her potential and skills. Blending BANKS’ electro-pop with FKA Twigs’ edgy R&B, the song is hypnotic. The production work is intelligent, focusing on bass-heavy rhythms but never going overboard and allowing them to dominate the song. Instead, Rotana’s sultry vocals take center stage, and they are alluring. Her songwriting is also gripping, as she explains the difficulties with moving on and recovering from a devastating experience. While the song may be about a single person, there is a feeling that the song is also an implicit nod to Rotana’s transition to a new place.
To learn more about her story, view the short but incredible documentary about her move on YouTube. It was produced in 2015, but still well worth viewing.
Shiny Wet Machine – “Breakfast” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Wolf Alice, Beverly, Sløtface
Sabrina Louise Bernstein is one of the busiest women in rock. If she’s not working on material for her solo project, Sizzy Rocket, she’s creating music with her punk-rock band, Shiny Wet Machine. The only way to describe the group’s music is badass because all you want to do is rock out hard and release all the stress from your body. Their “Hospitals” single was the call of youth angst. On their latest single, they share a theme that most of us can relate to without compromising the badassery of their sound.
“Breakfast” is another head-pounding, anthemic rocker. The bass line is hardcore while the guitar unfurls into a ferocious rage during the chorus. The drumming is superb, pounding hard where you can feel every rhythm throbbing on your chest. Bernstein’s vocals are Gwen Stefani-esque (at least when she was with No Doubt) in that they are addictive yet fiery. Where her voice really shines is when she calls out an ex-partner for “all the shit you put me through.” Yeah, the song is basically one big middle finger to all the cheaters out there, and it’s awesome.
The single is from the band’s Light Out B-Sides EP, which can be heard in its entirety here.
Wy – “What Would I Ever Do” (Malmö, Sweden)
RIYL: Cigarettes After Sex, Mazzy Starr, Beach House
In April, Swedish dream-pop group Wy released one of the most beautiful songs of the year with “Bathrooms.” Actually, it is one of the most gorgeous numbers in the past five years. It was an OMG moment. Ebba and Michel surely couldn’t create another song as stunning as “Bathrooms,” could they?
The answer arrived late yesterday when the duo released “What Would I Ever Do.” It is another song where you have to pinch yourself and ask, “Is this real?” The cinematic beauty of the song also requires having an oxygen tank nearby because this song is breathtaking. Yes, this might be an overused term, but in the case of Wy it is an understatement. Michel’s production work is subdued yet immaculate, creating a soundscape that is simply spellbinding.
Ebba’s voice, as usual, is among the loveliest on the planet. When she sings with an added urgency as she does here, it becomes heavenly if not ethereal. Her songwriting is also spectacular, as she shares a personal story of the difficulties to be herself. We can feel her internal struggle and pain in her voice, which is a talent very few singers possess. Creating music as intoxicating as what Wy produce is also a rare gift. We love this band.
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