The Matinee July 20th features another set of a 9 awesome new music singles. There is, as usual, a mix bag of goodies, so reach in and find a surprise.
Chad VanGaalen – “Pine and Clover” (Calgary, Canada)
RIYL: Father John Misty, Richard Swift, Jonathan Richman
Where does one even begin to describe Chad VanGaalen, the Swiss Army knife of Canada’s music scene. Producer, songwriter, guitarist, singer, album co-owner – he’s excelled at everything. However, he’ll mostly be remembered as being one of the most creative and imaginative songwriters of the past twenty years, and his next record could very well be his most weird, wacky, and wonderful.
“Old Heads” was the first single from Light Information, and it told a story of an operator or a puppet master if you will. It was whimsical yet witty, and a song that seemed from another dimension but at the same time quite relevant in today’s unpredictable world. The latest single from the LP is equally as quirky but more relevant to our reality.
“Pine and Clover” sounds like a sweet, Jose Gonzalez-like indie folk number until you get to the lyrics. If people thought Father John Misty was out of this world, then VanGaalen lives in a completely different galaxy. In this case, he tells the story of a shapeshifter, who adapts to her surroundings. Despite her simple life, we can learn from her.
“She was a shapeshifter.
Politics didn’t matter to her.
She was born a million times over
With a mind for the sweet smelling pine and clover.
And she told you, how to be low.”
Eccentric. Yes. Brilliant. Absolutely! VanGaalen is the Salvador Dali of music – an artist who challenges our perception of reality in bizarrely entertaining ways.
The Breaks – “Honey” (Manchester, England)
RIYL: My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, A Place to Bury Strangers
From 2013 to 2015, the shoegaze revival was a much-discussed subject matter. Seriously, go a Google search and you’ll find several articles dedicated to the “genre that could not be killed”, which is how The Guardian described this beloved approach. With the returns of Slowdive and Ride and the emergence of a new wave of artists and bands, the genre is now entering the revolution stages. A new band to keep an eye on are The Breaks, a duo from Manchester doing their part to move shoegaze well into the next decade.
Earlier this month, The Breaks released their debut EP, Misery, which features four songs that will remind any shoegaze fan of the genre’s sonic peak. The one song from the EP that best represents The Breaks’ classic sound is “Honey”. The fuzzed-out and intense guitars, the warm pop-rock melodies, and a song about growing old with your soulmate are straight out of the ’80s and early ’90s. An instant classic is “Honey”, and it is a reminder why shoegaze will never die because no other genre can make you simultaneously feel exhilarated and heavenly.
If you like this track, check out the entire EP on Bandcamp.
The Gatling Gun Revival – “A Stone’s Throw” (Hong Kong)
RIYL: Dick Diver, Nap Eyes, Ultimate Painting
Let’s be quite honest and frank – Hong Kong isn’t exactly known for its indie scene. Instead, the Asian city is known for its great food culture, outstanding shopping (which my wife can attest to), and where “East Meets West”. Maybe in time the former British colony will be known as a music mecca, and if that helps one band we’ll have to thank is The Gatling Gun Revival, a trio making a wide-range of indie rock.
After a three-year hiatus, the trio of Zane Stroud (vocals/keys/percussion), Corey Tam (vocals/guitars/percussion), and Erik Piece (vocals/guitars/ukulele/banjo) have recharged their batteries and their creative juices are in overdrive. Late last week (actually the weekend), they released their new single, “A Stone’s Throw”. It rocks, rolls and shimmers like the jangle pop-rock track that resonates of the Melbourne scene, specifically the music of Dick Diver. And like this great band, this song will stick in your head for days and have you doing a few shoulder shimmies. The bridge on this song is terrific, featuring a fantastic guitar solo that turns the tune into a blistering rocker. Lyrically, the band delivers a message of perseverance and acceptance. This theme might seem simple but it’s a timely and important one in these challenging days.
What an introduction to a band that isn’t only giving life to the Hong Kong music scene, but who is keeping alive jangle pop-rock.
Madeline Kenney – “Always” (Oakland, USA)
RIYL: Angel Olsen, Jack River, Alex Lahey
It is a testament to Madeline Kenney‘s talent when the great Chaz Bundick (a.k.a. Toro y Moi) is producing her debut album. You read that currently. How many artists can say this? We are simply awe-struck, which is also an apt description of the LP’s first single, “Always”.
Like everything Kenney has encountered and achieved in her life – she a degree in neuroscience (like wow!), is a skilled artist, painter and knitter, was a baker for over 9 years, and currently is nannying to pay the rent – “Always” is a triumphant. Actually, it’s absolutely brilliant. The heavy, reverb-drenched guitars and throbbing rhythms perfectly juxtapose Kenney’s alluring and sweet vocals and the radiant notes from the keys. It is a like an internal struggle between one’s ferocious side and the kinder, gentler person. This conflict is further accentuated in Kenney’s biting songwriting, which take aim of some people within the art and music industry. The stuck-up types and all the naysayers who didn’t believe a neuroscientist could be make it as an artist.
Does it seem right with you?
You can skip out
While all the rest of us are chewed in self-doubt.
Give me a first shot of what’s left upon your plate.
I get inebriated by the things I can take.
I can take.
While her attack is scathing, it’s her perseverance that sticks with you. “And I will”, repeats Kenney at the end of the song, as if she’s reminding everyone and herself that she won’t be stopped. With her debut album, Night Night At The First Landing, arriving September 1st via Company Records, Kenney will be the one having the last laugh.
Mermaidens – “Sunstone” (Wellington, New Zealand)
RIYL: Savages, EX HEX, The Black Lips
Steadily, Wellington-based trio Mermaidens are becoming one of New Zealand’s most talked-about bands in the country. Having the legendary label Flying Nun Records behind them sure helps, but the biggest reason for their rising popularity is that they’re not the typical Kiwi band. They don’t create music that is akin to the popular “Dunedin sound” nor the dub-step that has become a prominent part of the New Zealand music. Instead, Mermaidens sound like a band coming from the deep dungeons of Austin, Texas or San Francisco, where they would be apprenticing under the likes of The Black Angels, The Black Lips, or Oh Sees (fka Thee Oh Sees). In other words, they are one unique outfit.
Their sophomore album is around the corner, and they’ve shared two songs to date – the slithering “Lizard” and the hypnotic “Satsuma”. Song #3, “Sunstone”, is another transfixing, devilish affair, and arguably the most wicked of their witch-rock collection. Like the two previous songs, the band have created another masterful number that blends film-noir suspense with Twilight Zone-esque creepiness. What makes the song, though, is the pace, as the song effortlessly moves from sultry number to hard, relentless energy to heavy and melodic darkness to finally a hypnotic groove. “Sunstone” is basically four songs – or maybe acts is a better term – in one. So grab your popcorn, sit back in your Lazy-Boy, and get completely immersed into this brilliant number.
Mermaidens’ new album, Perfect Body, arrives August 4th via Flying Nun Records.
The band is comprised of Lily West (bass/vocals), Gussie Larkin (guitar/vocals), and Abe Hollingsworth (drums).
Phoebe Bridgers – “Motion Sickness” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Big Thief, Amber Arcades, Blouse
On the strength of strategic features on a handful of commercials, including singing a cover of the Pixies’ “Gigantic” for a 2014 iPhone commercial, Phoebe Bridgers‘ star has been glowing brighter and brighter by the day. In 2016, Ryan Adams’ label, PAX AM, released her debut 7″, and an American success story was well underway. But this isn’t a Cinderella fairy tale because there isn’t a pumpkin to be seen. Instead, the 7″ single was just her brief appearance at the ball, and her forthcoming debut album will be her coming-out party. This is assuming the lead single, “Motion Sickness”, is just a prelude of what is to come.
“Motion Sickness” exhibits why many, including us, have marked her as an artist on the verge of stardom. Her voice is stunning and eloquent as Adrienne Lenker, and her sound is as bold and vibrant as Lenker’s band Big Thief. The combination yields a song that shakes you right to the soul. What sets her apart from other 22-year old artists is that her impeccable storytelling, which is personal, real, and vivid. On this song, she speaks of one’s internal struggle to find balance and stability.
“You gave me 1500 to see your hypno-therapist.
I only went one time.
You let it slide.
Fell on hard times a year ago
I was hoping you would let it go,
And you did.”
Pinkwench – “Ophelia” (Baltimore, USA)
RIYL: Slothrust, Speedy Ortiz, Hop Along
Not every punch-to-the-gut song has to blown your mind with a frenetic pace. Even the darkest and most emotive songs can do that, which Baltimore-based trio Pinkwench demonstrate on their awesome single, “Ophelia”.
From the immediate pulse of the bass line, the distant vocals of frontwoman Sophie Alemi, and the dissonant guitar, “Ophelia” hits hard, and the punches keep coming as the songs gradually builds into a throbbing, harrowing number. The dissonant guitar is transformed into a menacing machine of reverb, the rhythms become jackhammers, and Alemi’s vocals become fierce and intense. When all these elements come together at the climax, a truly “oh my goodness” moment arrives. The song’s intensity is further amplified by Alemi’s terrific songwriting, as she tells the story of a young woman who has given up all hope.
Her dying wish, she’s out of breath.
She says “I wanna be perfect” in death.
Ophelia wants to know what I said.
Ophelia wants to play dead.
“A punch-in-the-gut” is actually an inaccurate way to describe this song. Devastating is more appropriate.
Reykjavik Kids – “Nightmoist” (Newcastle upon Tyne, England & Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Eagulls, The Cure, Royal Blood
For nearly years, we’ve been covering Paul Tissington and Scott Munro’s project as Reykjavik Kids. Most of their singles were heavy-hitting, hair-raising, post-punk epics. They performed every song with a ferocity that bands like Preoccupations would appreciate. For their latest song, they change things up and blow our minds in a different way.
“Nightmoist” is Reykjavik Kids’ darkest and most menacing song to date, yet it is their most slowest number to date. The song, as such, demonstrates the duo’s artistic maturation, and it’s a fantastic turn. While the volume and energy have been dialed down, the track is still gritty, and the intensity has been increased substantially. The pulsating bass line hammers hard into one’s head, and the searing guitar is hypnotic. Munro’s lyrics of a post-apocalyptic world, however, are what truly mesmerize. “We might as well be dead”, he repeats in criticizing people’s acceptance of the status quo and who continue to support those who abuse their positions in office.
We’re not sure what the future holds for the duo, as Munro has moved to Los Angeles while Tissington remains in Newcastle. Let’s hope they’ll continue to create music and continue down this dark but explosive path.
Someone – “Say Something” (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
RIYL: Sarah Bethe Nelson, Faith Healer, Sonny & The Sunsets
After releasing her debut album under her own name, Dutch singer-songwriter Tessa Rose Jackson has re-branded herself as Someone. But it’s more than just a name change, as Jackson’s sound has evolved from the folk-pop of her debut to a more widescreen approach. We received a first taste of her new sound with “The Deep”, a lush and ethereal number that was reminiscent of Azure Ray. Now comes her second single, which is another step in a fantastic direction.
“Say Something” is a swirling psychedelic-pop song that will induce uncontrollable gyrating and euphoric psychosis. Jackson’s vocals are like rays of suns breaking through the clouds following a storm. They are warm, inviting, and intoxicating. The arrangements are hazy and delirious, yet at the same time they are enrapturing. Involuntary hip-shaking and shoulder-shimmering are the order of the day with this catchy tune spinning in the background. “Say Something” is a treat, and a song that would be perfect for any situation. Whether it’s on a summer, road-trip playlist, for a backyard barbecue, at the latest party happening at the underground club; or for a retro-inspired shindig, this song fits the bill. Just simply awesome.
“Say Something” is out now on Jackson’s Monocle label through PIAS Holland. No word on what’s in store for Someone, but we think an album announcement is on the horizon.
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