The Matinee August 3rd heavily features North American artists, which might have to do with me returning to my old stomping grounds. It also reflects how great the new music singles are from this part of the world. Given that I’m on holidays, the descriptions are shorter, and I apologize to the artists and bands.
Annie Hart – “Hard To Be Still” (New York, USA)
RIYL: Melody’s Echo Chamber, Psychic Twin, Teeth & Tongue
The dog days of summer may be upon us, but Annie Hart, who is better known for her work with Au Revoir Simone, has delivered a song that exemplifies how great music can be uplifting and smile-inducing. From the fantastic, Joy Division-esque bass line to the warm and fuzzy synths to Hart’s distant yet angelic vocal, “Hard To Be Still” is simply a dazzling and dreamy number. The number feels like the calm relief of an ocean breeze breaking through the haze and unrelenting heat, where you become washed over by its coolness and the words, “Aah”, quickly follows.
If you thought the song feels very retro (i.e., very ’80s), then check out the video on YouTube. It was released two days ago, and it is reminiscent of the low-budget but memorable videos of the time.
Bully – “Feel the Same” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Liz Phair, Speedy Ortiz, Swearin’
There are bands who have emerged as symbols of a generation. Nirvana represented the frustration and angst of youth in the 1990s. The Spice Girls redefined feminism within an increasingly commercial world. Bully could very well be the band for today’s twentysomethings.
Their debut album, Feels Like, propelled them from indie obscurity to being one of music’s hottest bands. Their new album, Losing, could be the one that gets them mentioned alongside Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl. It sure helps having the support of Sub Pop, who were the ones that helped catapult Nirvana to their iconic pedestal. Bully’s new single, “Feel The Same”, has that same vibe of the late ’80s and early ’90s – a band holding nothing back and channeling the frustration of today’s disenfranchised youth.
Coming in just under 2 minutes, Bully unfurl a tsunami of explosive alt-rock. The guitar riffs, the bass line, and the drums are intense and unrelenting. Frontwoman Bognanno’s vocals are urgent and piercing, as she honestly espouses how she has become numbed to the fake world around her. Forget about being a band for a younger generation – they are everyone’s band.
The band consists of Alicia Bognanno, Clayton Parker, and Reece Lazarus.
Church Girls – “Better Off” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Avers, The Real Fits, Neko Case
There’s a moment in every great song where your mouth is left agape and sweeps you into its grandeur. Then there are the outstanding songs where there isn’t a single moment; instead the entire song envelops your body and mind, and at the end you’re pandering for more. Such is the case with Church Girls‘ new single, “Better Off”.
The song starts and ends with frontwoman Mariel Beaumont’s gorgeous vocal, which at times approaches the OMG levels of Neko Case. Her lush and stunning voice reels us into her story of hope and opportunity, of second chances and better times. Musically, the song is a wonderful concoction of genres. At times, the song reaches the anthemic nature of Americana, but the dreamy, shoegaze guitars take “Better Off” to high altitudes. The finale, however, turns into a roaring rocker, where you’re left fist pumping and dancing. Yes, please, we’ll have seconds, thirds,and fourths of this awesome number.
“Better Off” is from Church Girls’ forthcoming new album, Hidalgo. It is expected September 15th.
Church Girls are Mariel Beaumont (vocal/guitar), Robert Dwyer (guitar), Will Schwarz (bass/vocal), and Zakary Iannitelli (drums).
Drömstad – “Leave It” (London, England & Vänern and Vättern Lakes, Sweden)
RIYL: The Cranberries, Mazzy Starr, Sixpence None The Richer
So many music duos have met by chance, and maybe that explains why their music tends to be among the most dazzling if not memorable. There’s no replacing chemistry between two people, which explains why bands like Widowspeak and Belle Mare are among our favorites. Soon joining them are Drömstad, a London-based duo comprised of Swedish-born vocalist Amanda Martta Larsson and Hampshire native and multi-instrumentalist Ned Gartside. Their story in a nutshell is this:
They met by chance in the summer of 2016 on the legendarily boozy Silja Line ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki, and despite some very dubious karaoke, decided music was for them.
This chance encounter has resulted in the duo on the verge of releasing their debut EP. One of the songs from it is “Leave It”. This number is simply breathtaking, and it is reminiscent of The Cranberries’ song, “Linger”. And like the classic, Drömstad’s single will be permanently tattooed in your brain and pop up at unexpected times due to its dreamy and intimate approach. Mmm… so good.
Faith Healer – “Sterling Silver” (Edmonton, Canada)
RIYL: Marika Hackman, Amber Arcades, Ashley Shadow
Two years ago, Jessica Jalbert – a.k.a. Faith Healer – entered our world with her ’60s-inspired psychedelic-pop gem, Cosmic Troubles. Her previous single, “Light of Loving”, however, signified a change in direction. The song revealed an edgier and bolder sound, as the Edmonton-based artist channeled her inner Janis Joplin. The progression was natural, particularly with long-time friend and collaborator Renny Wilson (drummer/multi-instrumentalist) joining her full-time. For their latest number, they go to the far end of the spectrum, but the results are still the same.
“Sterling Silver” is a beautiful number that embodies how music can simultaneously be blissful and mournful. Jalbert’s vocal reaches a heavenly level, and her lyrics mirror the reflective nature of the song. Wilson’s production is fantastic with its deliberate pacing and cleverly placed elements (the surprise guitar riff, the soaring synths, and the echo from the electric drums). His work is reminiscent, dare we say, of Prince, as he has made the intimate unexpectedly groovy.
Jackie Shane – “Any Other Way” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Lee Fields, Sharon Jones, Gladys Knight
I despise cutting and pasting press releases, but sometimes it has to be done. This is one of those occasions because Jackie Shane‘s story must be read by all.
Recognized by genre aficionados as one of the greatest singers and most riveting stage presences in soul music, Jackie Shane has remained largely unknown outside of Toronto, where her career briefly flowered in the 1960s. Ms. Shane is a star without parallel — a pioneer of transgender rights born in a male body, living her entire life as a woman at a time when to do so seemed unthinkable.
A true inspiration is Ms. Shane, about whom I had not heard until this week. Listening to the single, “Any Other Way”, I’m left wondering why it’s taken so long to discover her talent. Sure this song was written in the ’60s, but this soulful number is a timeless classic. It has aged like the finest of all scotches, where once uncorked and despite its age every note lingers on your tongue and leaves you wondering when is the next serving. Also, listen intently to her lyrics, as Ms. Shane reveals a lot about her own struggles during a time when much of the world was trying to define what civil and equal rights were. She is indeed a historical icon that everyone, not just those involved with the music industry, should celebrate.
“Any Other Way” is the first artist-approved collection of Ms. Shane’s work, collecting all six of her 45s and every highlight from the legendary 1967 live sessions at the Sapphire Tavern, including three mind-blowing, previously-unreleased tracks. The songs will be released by Numero Group.
METZ – “Drained Lake” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Preoccupations, Death from Above, Nirvana
It seems Sub Pop has monopolized the world of generational talents within the alt-rock and post-punk sphere. Not only is Bully releasing a new album, but Canadian propulsive sonic ninjas METZ are getting set to release their third album, Strange Peace. A month ago, they shared the fiery (insert song), and the second single is even more blistering.
“Drained Lake” is the 21-gun salute of post-punk – an ear-splitting number that will get you up out of your seat and take notice. Like what the Dead Kennedys and Pixies once did, METZ aren’t just blowing our minds with their maelstrom of ferocity but also challenging us with their social commentary. This time, they tackle one’s purpose and reason for existing and society’s expectations and ideas about worth. The message is powerful, the lyrics are insightful, and the entire song is one crushing experience.
For far too long have we just enjoyed the frenetic nature of METZ. Now is the time to take them seriously as one of the decade’s most important bands.
Surf Rock is Dead – “As If” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing, DIIV
For more than 2.5 years we have followed the careers of Surf Rock Is Dead, the Brooklyn-based duo who have been fusing beach vibes into shimmering shoegaze numbers. They’ve released some memorable songs (like “Zen A”), but their latest single might take the cake as their very best.
“As If” exemplifies the SRID’s stunning approach. It is a bedlam of dreamy delirium, as the surf rock, shoegaze, and dream-pop elements collide to form one scintillating number. Because of the song’s complexity, the tune will induce various reactions. Shoulder shimmering, slow dancing, uncontrollable gyrating, or just standing around and experiencing the gorgeous wave of sound, the song will energize and leave you in a state of awe and delight. Simply outstanding.
The single is taken from SRID’s forthcoming new EP, We Have No Friends, which arrives September 22nd via Native Sound. Surf Rock Is Dead are Kevin Pariso and Jo
Weaves – “#53” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Wolf Alice, Sunflower Bean, Broken Social Scene
One of 2016’s biggest breakouts were Toronto’s Weaves, yet they still feel awfully underrated by the music industry as a whole. It’s a weird outcome, but maybe this all changes in a couple of months when their sophomore album comes out, assuming the lead single is any indication of what is to come.
Like some of the firecrackers Wolf Alice has released and the personal rockers of Broken Social Scene, Weaves have unleashed a seismic number with “#53”. If you ever needed a motivating song, this would be it. It is an unrelenting, fiery anthem that will get the adrenaline flowing and have you feel like you can take on anything in this world. Frontwoman Jasmyn Burke’s lyrics, too, offer the slogan for all of us:
So don’t tell me what you want to hear.
I don’t want to hear it.
In other words, all the naysayers and self-absorbed individuals can go f*** themselves while we take on the world.
“#53” is the first single from Weaves’ new LP, Wide Open, which reveals itself to the world on October 6th. Three labels – Buzz Records, Kanine Records, and Memphis Industries – will be handling the duties. Pre-orders of the album are available here
Weaves are Jasmyn Burke, Morgan Waters, Spencer Cole, and Zach Bines.
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