There is plenty of variety on The Matinee September 26th edition. R&B and soul, ambient electronica, synth-pop, drone neo-psychedelia, twee-pop, bedroom pop, and, of course, indie rock populate the mini-playlist. Each and every single song is worth investing the time because the bands and artists will surprise you with their musical and songwriting talents.
Bully – “Running” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Speedy Ortiz, Swearin’, Slothrust
Bully are part of a dying breed in today’s music world – a guitar-driven band making great indie rock. Heck, St. Vincent and TORRES are moving more towards synth-driven frameworks on their new albums, and Beck appears to be channeling his inner New Order. Given these developments, Bully’s next album is highly anticipated in these parts.
Validating our excitement is their latest single, “Running”. The song was actually released three weeks ago, yet somehow we missed it. And knowing how fate works, the trio of Alicia Bognanno, Clayton Parker, and Reece Lazarus will likely release a new song this week, but we’ll cross that bridge when it comes. In the meantime, sit back and appreciate the talents of one of indie rock’s most exciting bands.
With “Running”, Bully stripped things back ever so slightly. Absent is the wall-shaking fury and ferocity of their past numbers, and in its place is a more subtle, soul-shaking intensity. This shouldn’t be mistaken as the band going soft because there is still angst in Bognanno’s lyrics and vocals and the instruments still wail with aggression (the pulsating bass line is awesome). Instead, the trio have opted for a slow-building, quiet raging track to complement the song’s focus on experiencing a mid-life crisis and dealing with the emotions that come with it. Let’s just hope that if Bully do have a collective mid-life crisis, they won’t suddenly change course and become an electronic band. The world needs more Bully’s.
Cults – “Right Words” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Debbie Gibson, CHVRCHES, Priest
The long-awaited new album from synth-pop mavens Cults is just around the corner. They have so far offered two memorable songs, including the dreamy “Offering” and the intoxicating “I Took Your Picture”. This time they share their most urgent (and most ’80s-esque) number with “Right Words”.
At the forefront of the song is Madeline Follin’s sweet and delicious vocals. Her message, though, is one of desperation and heartbreak, as she tries to convince someone that her love is real. However, nothing she says nor does can convince him, making her question if his love is genuine. Brian Oblivion’s production and synth work, meanwhile, is splendidly dramatic, slowly intensifying the soundscape behind Follin’s voice without overpowering it. The percolating synth and beats, in particular, mirror the accelerating heartbeat of the person with questions, just at the moment when she is about to get her answers. If the rest of the album is like these three tracks, then we should expect a cinematic and romantic adventure.
Deva Mahal – “Run Deep” feat. Coco Peila (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Alicia Keys, John Legend, Sharon Jones
While much of music is trying to “reinvent” or “modernize” soul music, there will always be a place for the classics. Fifties and sixties soul will always hold a special place in our hearts, but the soul of the late-’80s and ’90s was also a tremendous time. This second wave (or generation) occurred simultaneously with the rise of rap and hip hop, at a time when race relations reached a feverish pitch with incidents like Rodney King grabbing headlines. Now, we are experiencing the start of the third wave, as artists focus their attention away from the “Benjamins” and pimping rides and using their music to speak truth to power.
Part of this new wave is Deva Mahal, who is indeed the daughter of blues legend Taj Mahal. The younger Mahal, however, is a talent, as she has worked with TV On The Radio and the late great Sharon Jones. In four weeks time, her debut EP will arrive, and the lead single is “Run Deep”, which is a powerful, soulful, R&B number. The Hawaiian-born, Brooklyn-based artist’s vocals are rich and remarkable, but her songwriting is her most important instrument. She describes her fragile childhood and how others tried to put her down; however, she is now no longer putting her head down. Instead, she’s storming ahead.
“Though I may grow tired and weary
And ache within my bones
I will fight for what I believe in
Even I fight on my own.
I know that I’m going
To keep on moving on
Because nobody can stop me.”
Beautiful. Rapper Coco Peila joins Mahal on this song, and she offers further hard-hitting lyrics.
E F I E L – “wieczna zima (v. 17)” (Sanok, Poland)
RIYL: Portishead, Massive Attack, Stefan Obermaier
What do you get when you combine the gripping and enchanting soundscapes of Portishead with the classical approaches of Beethoven? You get something like “wieczna zima (v. 17)”, which is the new single from Polish electronic outfit E F I E L. Reminiscent of Stefan Obermaier’s reinterpretations of classical music, E F I E L have created a song that is breathtaking, enthralling, and obsessive. The production work is delicate, which adds to the song’s suspense. The female vocals, meanwhile, are distant and even displaced, making the words feel like they are coming from a ghost or a spirit that we cannot see.
It’s a stunning track from a group still finding its place within the crowded industry. However, if E F I E L continue to make dramatic and cinematic music, they’ll soon find themselves performing in the grand theaters and opera houses of Vienna, Prague, Stockholm, and Berlin.
Maciek Fil is the mastermind behind E F I E L, which also includes Joanna Szwej, Martyna Fil, and Michał Gajzler.
Electric Eye – “Invisible Prison” (Bergen, Norway)
RIYL: Kikagaku Moyo, Elephant Stone, George Harrison and Ravi Shankar
Three months ago we accidentally stumbled upon Norwegian neo-psychedelic outfit Electric Eye. At the time, they released the out-of-this-world, space-rock masterpiece, “Turn Around, Face The Sun”. Then last week, they quietly released their latest song, which is another eye-opening, ear-popping number.
With “Invisible Prison”, Electric Eye stay closer to Earth this time around. They also get funkier and more delirious, as George Harrison and Ravi Shankar-like psychedelic atmospherics swirl in the air. Bright but calm fireworks explode throughout the song, and they come in the form of the sitar strikes, the sizzling guitar riffs, the searing organ, and the choral-like vocals. There aren’t many lyrics in the song, but none are necessary when one loses her/himself within the masterfully executed and sinister soundscape.
The single is taken from the band’s forthcoming new album, From The Poisonous Tree. It sees the light of day on November 3rd, and it will be released on Jansen Plateproduksjon or now simplified to Jansen Records. Pre-order the album here.
The band consists of Øystein Braut (guitar/vocals), Njål Clementsen (bass/vocals), Anders Bjelland (keys), and Øyvind Hegg-Lunde (drums).
La Bête Blooms – “Saw You on TV” (Hull, England)
RIYL: Heyrocco, Fidlar, Johnny Kills
There definitely isn’t a shortage of great rock bands coming out of the UK, although they continue to fly under the radar. Some may say there are too many, but for us there are not nearly enough. We’re still keeping our fingers crossed for a rock resurgence (as noted above), and when that happens we predict La Bête Blooms will be among those leading the charge with their fellow compatriots (the best rock music is coming out of the UK). For nearly a year, they’ve been blowing our minds out with their no-frills, anthemic style and thoughtful songwriting. They’ve taken their game up several notches on their newest single, “Saw You on TV”.
No, this song isn’t about stardom nor is about lusting over some celebrity from afar. The quartet have instead have delivered a fantastic political song, singing about how recent events they’ve seen and read are leading the world down a perilous path and maybe to its end. As the guitars get gnarlier and the rhythms fiercer, front man Daniel Mawer wonders out loud if there is an app to prevent the world’s destruction. If the leader of the free world can tweet idiotic statements, then surely there must be something out there that can save us from this chaos. This band is going places – very far and high places.
The single is out now via Adult Teeth. La Bête Blooms are Daniel Mawer, Jack Gallagher, John Copley, and Louisa Robinson.
Reptaliens – “666Bus” (Portland, USA)
RIYL: Tennis, Prom Queen, La Sera
Everyday, we at some point mindlessly daydream about the most frivolous things. Admit it, you do it. I do it. Everyone does it. And there’s nothing wrong with that, especially given the chaos around us. Now only if we had a song that would provide the perfect background music for these brief moments of escape. Lo and behold, Reptaliens, the project started by Bambi Cole and Julian Tyler, released a new song last week that fits the bill.
As the lo-fi, summery, bedroom-pop circulates in the air, Cole weaves an amusing tale on “666Bus”. This mode of transport isn’t exactly a killing machine, but rather it is the place where Cole fantasizes about death and other possibilities. Cole’s deadpan delivery is terrific, and they bring to life her immensely entertaining yet carefree lyrics. The shimmering vibe, meanwhile, provides the perfect contrast to the song’s serious yet whimsical storyline.
“Maybe you’ll get hit by a bus
While I was dreaming of falling in love.
Or maybe I’ll fall in love
And die of a broken heart.
I always try to say my goodbyes
When death is in the back of my mind.
I hope it doesn’t get all over my favorite shoes.”
Say Sue Me – “Good For Some Reason” (Busan, South Korea)
RIYL: Yo La Tengo, Teenage Fanclub, Alvvays
When you think of South Korea and its music scene, the first words out of your mouth are likely K-pop or Psy, which is unfortunate because the eastern Asian country has a lot more to offer. We’ve covered a few Korean bands in our brief history, including Table People and Swedish Death Candy (o.k., so only one member is from South Korea). Helping to change the world’s impressions are Say Sue Me, who are creating some delightful indie pop for our listening pleasure.
Their latest single, “Good For Some Reason”, demonstrates why they’re one of the country’s rising indie bands. The song blends the twee spirit of Teenage Fanclub with the modern jangle-/guitar-pop of Alvvays, and the result is one infectious number that will have you shimmying your shoulders and dancing around the office. Front woman Choi Sumi’s vocals even have a splash of Molly Rankin, and her personal songwriting will have you remembering the days of your youth when things were more carefree.
The song will officially be released on October 6th as part of a split 7″ with fellow indie-pop band Otoboke Beaver (“S’il Vous Plait”). Damnably has the honors of sharing the double-sided single to the world.
Say Sue Me are 최수미 Choi Sumi (vocals/guitar), 김병규 Kim Byungkyu (guitar/vocals), 하재영 Ha Jaeyoung (bass), and 강세민 Kang Semin (drums).
Tomma Intet – “1968” (Gothenburg, Sweden)
RIYL: Kasabien, Soviet Soviet, The Dandy Warhols
We rarely share a band’s music on back-to-back weeks let alone within a few days of each. Today is an exception because rotating Swedish collective Tomma Intet released another earth-rattling song that will make you ask, “Why haven’t I heard of them before?”
Last week, we shared their anthemic rocker, “Through The Circle Of A Rope”. Today, turn up the volume for the dramatic beauty that is “1968”. This song is amazing. The weaving together of a Wild West theme with the urgency of contemporary indie rock is brilliant. Lyrically, the band gives the sense we are traveling on the fringe of the universe and about to meet our end. If this is the case, let this song be the one we hear last.
“I had a lover, some kind of a friend.
We stared into the darkness of it all.
In the sunshine, we set fire to my hair in the cross.
That southern cross.”
The song is out on the terrific Swedish micro-label, Lövely Records.
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