Happy Fourth of July to all our American friends. We hope the day is full of fantastic food, drink, and, of course, friends and family. To help you celebrate the holiday, we offer a selection of nine songs on The Matinee July 4th edition. Some of them are as explosive as fireworks while others will have you contemplating what it means to be an American.
BF/C – “Gold” (Gothenburg, Sweden)
RIYL: Archive, Massive Attack
Since coming across songwriter Barish Firatli and producer/composer Californiaman’s project as BF/C in May 2016, we’ve been captivated by their music. One could even say we are obsessed because the duo have an incomparable ability to turn minimalist abstract approaches into wonderfully cinematic music. They are like the distant cousins of Massive Attack, but it’s just the two of them creating this experience as opposed to a full band.
Their newest single, “Gold”, is another demonstration of BF/C making the dark enchanting. The production work is subtle but precise, and the air is filled with a haunting mystique, as if you are walking in a dark, foggy alley. Firatli’s vocals are similarly dazzling, and his story is gripping cinema as he tells the tale of a person searching for gold. But is gold the precious metal or something even more valuable? There’s no answer to this question because in BF/C’s usual fashion they allow us to determine what is of greatest importance. Not for the protagonist in the story, but for ourselves.
Follow BF/C on social media to discover what they may produce next because the duo unexpectedly churn out music.
BIG HUSH – “Soft Eyes” (Washington, DC, USA)
RIYL: Liz Phair, Preoccupations, Slothrust
On this Fourth of July, it was imperative to have a song by a band from the District of Columbia. Fortunately, Big Hush have come through for us just in time.
Their newest single, “Soft Eyes”, is a hazy banger that mixes the lo-fi ’90s indie rock of Liz Phair with the Gothic punk-rock of mid-career The Cure. The hazy, reverb-drenched guitar and throbbing bass lines are tantalizingly eerie and melodically menacing, akin to what Preoccupations have been creating. The percussion work is reminiscent of Pornography-era The Cure. Genevieve Ludwig’s vocals are also harrowing with the deadpan delivery and how they feel distant and lost. Maybe this isn’t the ideal celebratory Fourth of July song, but it reflects the disenfranchisement of many youth today.
The band is comprised of Genevieve Ludwig, Owen Wuerker, Emma Baker, Chris Taylor, and Sean Borja.
Caitlyn Scarlett – “Human, Being” (Windsor/London, England)
RIYL: M.I.A., FKA Twigs, NAO
When we discovered Caitlyn Scarlett in May, we were amazed by her kaleidoscope approach. Her “Shangri-La” single was a mix of Kate Bush, M.I.A., and NAO. It was bold, ambitious, and refreshingly different. She returns with another single that is equally jaw-dropping and timely given the significance of July 4th.
Whereas “Shangri-La” was explosive, “Human, Being” is an intimate and stunning track. The volume is dialed down and the beats transformed from thunderous claps to soothing, emotive pulses. The tinges of the Latin guitar in the background add to the song’s intimacy. Scarlett’s voice and songwriting, however, are the stars. Her voice is slight and delicate, as she tells the story of people trapped in a society where violence reigns and freedoms are restricted. Peace, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are just fleeting ideals in this “world so dark.”
“Human, Being” is not only a superb track, but it is a reminder of what America’s forefathers fought for in the 18th Century and how their ideals are at risk in today’s world. The song is also the hallmark of an artist whose potential is only exceeded by her human spirit. Caityln Scarlett will be a star.
Kim Churchill – “Second Hand Car” (Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: Son Little, Portugal. The Man, Milky Chance
I was first introduced to Kim Churchill at the Byron Bay Bluesfest in 2011 when he had the honor of kicking off the Saturday session. The time was just after noon, but Churchill turned the day into night and transformed the tent into a raucous beach party. At the time, Churchill was a one-man band playing a mix of roots, folk, and indie-rock, gracing the stage with his bass drum, acoustic guitar, and harmonica. Today, the Sydney-based artist has expanded his sound and gone much wider screen.
His latest single, “Second Hand Car”, reveals his transformation and an approach that can best be described as soulful electronic roots. Electronic beats burst in the background to create a groovy, club-like vibe, and Churchill’s vocals are more soulful than they’ve ever been. The fusion of the harmonica and the acoustic guitar keep the song grounded in the music he grew up listening to and performing. Together, Churchill has created a wonderful and blissful concoction that feels like summer. So while the music is different, Churchill still has the gift to make the atmosphere feel like one big beach party. Even the storyline about a person losing but never forgetting someone has an air of warmer weather.
“Second Hand Car” is from Churchill’s forthcoming new album, Weight_Falls. It will be released on Friday, August 25 via Cadence Music Group.
L.A. Witch – “Kill My Baby Tonight” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Ali Beletic meets The Coathangers, Black Mountain
L.A. Witch are unquestionably one of the most underrated bands on the planet and criminally so. Their popularity has increased quite a bit the last three years, but they still fly under the radar when discussing the best psychedelic-rock bands on the planet. We’re also guilty of overlooking their brilliance, but not on this day.
Their new “Kill My Baby Tonight” single is extremely difficult ignore because it is wonderfully gritty, dark, and mesmerizing. Wave after wave of spine-tingling reverb is shot from the barrels of Sade Sanchez’s electric guitar while her haunting vocals stir this wicked plot about revenge. Irita Pai patiently plucks away at her bass, literally giving the song its heartbeat. Drummer Ellie English, meanwhile, calmly pounds away, at first with the deft touches of a hunter on the prowl before intensifying once the prey has been seized. “Kill My Baby Tonight” is bewitching, and it is just one example of L.A. Witch’s sonic power.
We’ll get to fall again under their spell on September 8th when their self-titled album arrives via Suicide Squeeze Records.
Lens Mozer – “All My Friends” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Galaxie 500, American Wrestlers, Fazerdaze
Guitar-pop is undergoing a surprising renaissance in 2017. It has become the new psychedelia, where more bands and artists (new and old) are creating catchy, groovy numbers. We cannot really call it the post-Alvvays effect since their debut album was released three years ago, but something wonderfully strange is happening. Although there are a lot of great guitar-pop songs hovering in cyberspace, the best one could very well be Lens Mozer‘s debut single.
“All My Friends” is absolutely charming. The cool yet vibrant guitar hooks are intoxicating, and Mozer’s vocals are sweet and smooth, as if he’s standing in front of you and revealing his soul directly to you. And he is, as he reflects on his and his friends’ lives as they get older. While there’s a bit of remorse and regret (“You feel like you’re moving backwards”), he’s also celebrating what they have. “Take your time and twist a little / Take it in and dance in sunlight,” Mozer passionately sings, reminding us to enjoy the moments before us. Sounds like the perfect slogan for the summer and to survive the rest of the year.
The single is out on Plastic Jurassic. Mozer’s debut album is currently in the final stages, and it might see the light of day by the end of the year. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.
Mermaidens – “Satsuma” (Wellington, New Zealand)
RIYL: The Black Angels, The Black Lips, Preoccupations
Nearly three weeks ago, Mermaidens released their new single, “Satsuma,” which is the Japanese word for mandarin oranges or clementines. The song was only available in video format, so we’ve been waiting patiently for the audio version to arrive. Finally over the weekend, the song arrived.
Ironically, the audio is only available to those with a SoundCloud Go account and in certain countries, so the mesmerizing video is provided (and it’s worth watching for the ’60s film-noir mystique). For those who have yet to discover the Wellington-based trio, “Satsuma” provides the perfect entry point. Part witch-rock, part goth-rock, with a heavy dose of dark, neo-psychedelia, Mermaidens have delivered a song that can only be described as hypnotic. Whereas most bands would fire up the instruments and try to make the speakers explode, the band remains patient, allowing the suspenseful vibe to be the thing that blows our minds. It’s creepy, gnarly, and flat-out awesome. The following lines perfectly describe the eerie, imaginative tone of the song:
“You were sweet like Sat-su-ma
When I peeled you off and split you in two.”
This band is on the verge of something special.
Mermaidens’ sophomore album, Perfect Body, arrives August 4th via legendary label Flying Nun Records.
The band is comprised of Lily West (bass/vocals), Gussie Larkin (guitar/vocals), and Abe Hollingsworth (drums).
Spirit Award – “Fields” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Operators, New Order
Do you have a convertible available to you? Or are you at a cabin or know someone one who has one? Maybe you’re planning a party today or attending one? Whatever the case, one song that will get everyone jumping is “Fields”, the new song by Seattle trio Spirit Award.
“Fields” is the quadruple espresso of indie songs made for adrenaline junkies and those need a jolt of energy. Or maybe it’s a multi-layered latte since the track fuses together psychedelia, synth-rock, New Wave, and Krautrock into one mouth-watering concoction. Like a person jonesing for a jolt of caffeine, the tune blasts off right from the start with a sizzling synths and a hammering, chest-pounding drum line. The dissonant Cure-like guitar line is the perfect anchor to the ensuing delirium, which escalates further when the heavenly vocals arrive. No matter what state you’re in, you’ll agree that Spirit Award have delivered one of those rarities – a song that has you saying, “Wow” and “I’ll have seconds, please.”
“Fields” is from the Seattle trio’s forthcoming debut album, Neverending. It drops October 6th.
Strange Hellos – “Is It Me?” (Bergen, Norway)
RIYL: Two Door Cinema Club, Teenage Fanclub, The New Pornographers, The Mamas & The Papas
For the past year, Norwegian indie super-group Strange Hellos have constantly seduced us with their tantalizing indie pop, which has ranged from Alvvays-esque guitar pop (“We Are Trouble”) to the ’80s soundtrack music (“Monumental”). We are so infatuated with the band that we listed them as artists to watch for 2017. Late last week when they released their latest single, “Is It Me?”, they threw us a curveball that we gladly took for a strike.
Whereas their past singles all had Birgitta Alida Hole on lead vocals, here the men in the band take over the primary singing duties. The results, however, are still the same. “Is It Me?” is a glamorous number, with a feel-good, technicolor soundscape that induce endless smiles upon all those who hear the song. It is warm, summery, and highly addictive. You’ll want to spin it again and again to hear the stirring harmonies and the jangly notes. In other words, “Is It Me?” is truly summer pop perfection, so add it to your playlists and spin it during these hot months.
The song is available now via Brilliance Records.
Strange Hellos are Odd Martin Skålnes (O. Martin, Aurora), Birgitta Alida Hole (Lumikide), Fredrik Vogsborg (The Megaphonic Thrift, Casiokids), and Even Kjelby (Great News).
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