The Matinee July 18th edition is perfect for these steamy summer nights. The songs are either radiant, dreamy, or really sultry with a wide range of genres included. Reggae, dream-folk, disco-pop, alternative rock, electronic rock, and a slice of Americana are among the selections.
French for Rabbits – “It Will Be Okay” (Wellington via Waikuku Beach, New Zealand)
RIYL: Aldous Harding, Tiny Ruins, Aoife O’Donovan
French for Rabbits have been one of our favorites for years, dating back to when we identified them as a Hidden Gem. This was 2 1/2 years ago. Time surely has flown by. In March of this year, the quintet released their sophomore album, The Weight of Melted Snow, but only in New Zealand. An international release is expected in September to coincide with the European tour in October that they announced yesterday (more details below). To mark the occasion, the band released their latest single from the album, and, in trademark French for Rabbits style, it’s a dazzler.
Actually, “It Will Be Okay” is utter enchantment. Frontwoman Brooke Singer’s angelic vocals float effortlessly in the air, whispering to us that everything will be fine. Her voice is calming, making us believe that in these difficult times things will be okay. Equally breathtaking is the soundscape created by Singer and her four bandmates. A feeling of serenity overcomes you as the keys tickle in the foreground and the light rhythms and guitar dance behind. It is as though we’ve fallen through the rabbit hole except we haven’t arrived at Wonderland. Instead, this is Eden. To give you a sense that there is a paradise, watch the stunning video for the song here.
As mentioned, French for Rabbits will be heading on tour with five shows in New Zealand and a half dozen in England. More European dates are anticipated. Find tour dates here.
French for Rabbits are Brooke Singer (vocals/keyboards/guitar), John Fitzgerald (lead guitar), Penelope Esplin (backing vocals/percussion), Ben Would (bass), and Hikurangi Schaverien-Kaa (drums).
All This Noise – “So It Goes” (London, England)
RIYL: Spiritualized, Calexico, Phosphorescent
Not too much is know about London-based band All This Noise… That’s about all we know about the band. Well, there is one other thing we know about them – their purpose is to challenge our perceptions of music, something their newest single, “So It Goes”, perfectly achieves.
The song is really, really incredible. The electronic-driven intro teases that a Radiohead-like song is on the horizon, but then the melody sharply changes and we enter a gloomy, alt-country soundscape. This is the Wild West, but one set in a dystopian world where the cowboys ride heavy machines and pack more than just a Smith & Wesson revolver. “Am I drifting in circles, could my signals be lost,” cries out the band’s frontman, who is trying to make sense of where he is. As the song progresses, it reaches a memorable delirium, patiently moving until it reaches its sensational bridge and climax.
“Do you know if I lost you?
You’re not really here
Can you feel my heart beating?
It’s not just for fear.”
“So It Goes” is an epic thriller packed into less than four minutes. Wow! Absolutely wow!
Discolor Blind – “Black and Grey” (Montreal, Canada via Tehran, Iran)
RIYL: Depeche Mode, Kate Bush, Blonde Redhead
In a time when the world seems more divided than ever, there are still plenty of reminders of why openness, acceptance, and inclusiveness have contributed to the betterment of our communities and countries. Walk down any popular gastronomic street and you’ll find all sorts of cuisines, aromas, and flavors to sate your cravings. Scour the internet for new music, and the sounds of the world are at your fingertips. One man who by himself is a musical kaleidoscope is composer and songwriter Ashkhan Malayeri, who goes by the moniker Discolor Blind. Born in Iran before moving to England and then setting up roots in Montreal, Malayeri is an experimentalist who forges multiple genres into a single song. We’re not talking two musical styles but many, and he’s doing it with spectacular fashion. Take his newest single, “Black and Grey”, as an example of his brilliance.
With Alexis Nadeau on lead vocals, Malayeri has combined the dark tremor-pop of Kate Bush and melded it with the deep electronic-rock of late-’80s / early ’90s Depeche Mode and the haunting disco-electronica of Blonde Redhead. Prog-rock and industrial elements buzz throughout as well, particularly during the guitar solo regarding the former and the hammering electronic beats that throb in the background. Meanwhile, Nadeau’s whispery yet enchanting delivery is reminiscent of Jófríður Ákadóttir (JFDR, Samaris), and they immediately grab our attention and never let go. She’s the perfect foil to Malayeri’s tantalizing arrangements.
Discolor Blind’s debut EP, the aptly titled Long Vivid Dream, drops September 1 via Republic of Music.
DSARDY≠ – “Step Ahead” (feat. Son Little) (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Massive Attack, TV On The Radio, Radiohead
David Sardy is one of the most renowned producers on the planet. He’s produced Grammy-winning albums and worked with some of the best in music, from LCD Soundsystem to Johnny Cash to Spoon. Sardy is now stepping out from the shadows and the sound board to take the lead on a project that could be the musical event of the year.
Under the pseudonym DSARDY≠, Sardy will be releasing songs throughout the year. He’ll continue to play the role of producer and multi-instrumentalist, but he’s enlisted a “Who’s Who” of singers to be the vocalists. My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell, Macy Grey, Glass Animals, and many more have been lined up to support Sardy (we’re crossing our fingers Britt Daniel is one of them). The first song out of the gate features one of the best artists around today in Son Little.
With a dark, cinematic approach, “Step Ahead” is a spine-tingling number reminiscent of the breathtaking eeriness of Massive Attack’s finest songs. The orchestration is, as you would expect, magnificent. The rhythms and production throb and stutter in the background to create the menacing vibe while the strategic bursts of the electric guitar awaken the song like lightning bolts cutting through the midnight sky. Little’s vocals are delivered with a measured approach, and they further add to the song’s crippling nature. His lyrics, too, are gripping, as they bring us inside the mind of a person trapped in a dystopian world – or maybe just trapped inside his own mind.
Awesome. Simply awesome. And this is just the first song from DSARDY≠‘s multi-vocalist project.
GOLD FIR – “Night Walk” (London, England)
RIYL: Donna Summer, Goldfrapp, Bee Gees
Break out the knee-high socks and dust off the roller blades because we’re heading to the roller rink with this next song. Reviving the groovy and delicious disco-pop of the ’70s are newcomers GOLD FIR, whose debut single, “Night Walk”, is Solid Gold!
First, exactly who are GOLD FIR? All we know is that it involves James and Mabel, since there is very little information available beyond this. For now they’ll remain anonymous, but if they continue to make song as ravishing as “Night Walk” their identities will eventually be revealed.
This song brings back memories of the days when short shorts, big hair, and glimmering disco balls adorned every club and roller skating venue. The melody is a cross between the Bee Gees (particularly the chorus) and Goldfrapp, and you might find yourself breaking out your best John Travolta impersonation from Saturday Night Live. Meanwhile, Mabel’s voice is intoxicating, moving easily between the sultry vibes of Donna Summer to the groovy energy of The B-52’s Kate Pierson. Like the songs of these great artists, all you’ll want to do for the rest of the night is dance under the shimmering radiance of GOLD FIR. Excuse us while we get ready to deck out in our retro ’70s gear.
Guantanamo Baywatch – “Blame Myself” (Portland, USA)
RIYL: The Growlers, The Gooch Palms, Salad Boys
For eight years, Portland-based Guantanamo Baywatch have been putting the surf into garage and punk rock. Their music and their shows are frenetic, fun, and always full of scuzz. Every time you hear and see them, it’s like watching a flamethrower at work, who repeatedly throws fastballs to blow away the hitter. For their new single, “Blame Myself”, they surprise, both figuratively and literally.
The scuzz remains, but they slow things down and offer a slacker rock tune that rivals some of The Growlers’ best work. Like everything Guantanamo Baywatch have released, “Blame Myself” is highly infectious and memorable. The guitars are dialed down at first, but they erupt with a fury right after the absolutely fantastic bridge. Frontman Jason Powells’ vocals are surprisingly urgent, as he tells a story of a man who consumed by many demons and troubles. It’s a clever piece of songwriting and timely at that. We often equate Guantanamo Baywatch with their unrelenting surf-rock sound, but now we acknowledge their equally smart songwriting (not that they were poor songwriters before).
Their new album, Desert Center, drops August 4th via Suicide Squeeze Records.
Guantanamo Baywatch are Chevelle Wiseman, Chris Scott, and Jason Powell.
Hollie Cook – “Angel Fire” (London, England)
RIYL: Janet Kay, Erykah Badu mixed with Ziggy Marley
It’s never easy for the child of a popular musician to carve out her own career and achieve success on her own merits. We’ve seen for decades how an artist succumbs to the pressure of standing in the shadow of their more famous mother and/or father. Hollie Cook, though, has been able to defy the odds
Her father, Paul, is the drummer of the Sex Pistols. Her mother, Jeni, sang backup for Culture Club and Boy George, who just so happens to be her godfather. Needlessly to say, she was pretty much expected to be a musician. But instead of trying to replicate her father’s band’s punk style or the groovy pop music that her mother and godfather performed, she’s made her mark as one of reggae’s brightest stars, and she’s doing it her way. In other words, she’s not using the tried-and-true reggae approach, but she’s redefining it.
Infusing pop and soul, Cook add spice to reggae on her new single, “Angel Fire”. The arrangements are almost ska-like with the horns bursting in the background and a sensual groove coming from the tantalizing bass line and Caribbean rhythms. But it’s Cook’s lush, sensual vocals that take the song to another level. Instead of people just swaying on the beach, her voice encourages people to pair up and add further heat to the hot summer nights. Her songwriting is more a celebration of the inner youth within us and a call for everyone to life freely. In this sense, she’s a lot like Bob Marley.
The single is out now via Merge Records who recently signed the rising star from London. More music is promised later in the year.
Luke Rathborne – “Don’t Call Me Baby” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Bruce Springsteen, Roy Orbison, Trevor Sensor, Kevin Morby
Luke Rathborne is one of the most interesting people we’ve encountered. He would even admit he’s too smart and opinionated for his own good (read the lengthy interview with him from nearly four years ago). This is, however, part of his charm. One thing that we, admittedly, haven’t appreciated about the Maine-born artist is his versatility. His 2014 album, SOFT, for instance, was unpretentious and perky indie pop-rock. His latest single, though, is an instant classic.
“Don’t Call Me Baby” is an old-school, ’70s rocker that recalls Bruce Springsteen in his early days with a touch of Roy Orbison’s silky grace. The guitar arrangements and the excellent bridge echo a time when our parents and grandparents were filling concert halls. However, Rathborne’s clever lyricism is modern, where he adds a touch of humor and satire to tell his story about being meeting someone from his past. “I was lying my head in a hospital, just before the room caught fire. I was thinking back about what you did to fly”, Rathborne sings in the song’s opening seconds, introducing us immediately to his pain and suffering. Then in a Orbison-like fashion, he breaks out into a catchy guitar solo and follows it up with the song’s climatic finish:
“Don’t call me baby
Don’t say a single word
It ain’t what you like
I’ve been waiting for this moment
Maybe for the rest of my life.”
This is just one example of Luke Rathborne’s tremendous musical gifts. He’s not just another musician; he’s one of the most gifted and underappreciated songwriters today.
Sloan Peterson – “Rats” (Sydney/Brisbane, Australia)
RIYL: The Go-Gos, Bec Sandridge, Alex Lahey
In March, 22-year-old Australian artist Joannah Jackson blew our minds with “105”, a song she released under the alias Sloan Peterson. We’re not exactly sure what the reference to Sloan Peterson (we have our theories) means, but we do know one thing – this young woman can seriously rock. If “105” is considered a riot, then her new single, “Rats”, is a tsunami, and it will sweep you off your feet.
The vibrant and jittery melody is akin to the music of the ’80s when the likes of The Go-Gos, The Pretenders, and The Bangles dominated the airwaves. Even the storyline is akin to the “relationship” songs that Belinda Carlisle, Chrissie Hynde, and Susanna Hoffs used to sing, filled with hope and optimism. A distinct Aussie flavor, however, permeates the track, specifically the anthemic and addictive indie pop-rock that Bec Sandridge and Alex Lahey have helped popularized. “Rats” will have you jumping, dancing and letting loose, and it will also make you quickly realize that Australia has another indie god to celebrate.
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