While Halloween is coming, The Matinee October 10th edition actually has a touch of spring and summer, which is just perfect for those recovering from the long weekend. The songs are also largely retro, and this is more of a coincidence. As always, we circumnavigate the globe to find the best new music from indie’s hidden gems.
Black Sonic Revolver – “Let It Go” (Manchester, England)
RIYL: The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Dandy Warhols, White Denim
As Anton Newcombe, the man behind The Brian Jonestown Massacre, dabbles in other genres (including country!), a little band from Manchester is filling the classic psychedelic-rock void. Their name is Black Sonic Revolver, and they graced these pages back in May with “So Many Ways”. On the weekend, they released another single – the ultra-awesome “Let It Go”.
This is beer-drinking music, and we say that with the utmost respect (as we sip on an IPA right now). Speaking of which, if this track came on at the bar, we’re sure everyone would stop talking. The youngsters would start bopping around to the sizzling guitar work; meanwhile, the old-timers would be nodding their heads to the groovy rhythms. For those who like a good thriller, the quartet deliver a story that sounds like one taken from the pages of a Tom Clancy novel. Maybe we’re imagining things and should go back to drinking our beer.
The song is from Black Sonic Revolver’s upcoming third album, Different. Third album! And we’re only just discovering Leon James Kenny, Dave Smith, Ryan Vernon, and Joe Hall.
Bugeye – “Wake Up” (London, England)
RIYL: early Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ex-Hex, Wild Flag
In the ’90s, Bugeye were the underground post-punk band everyone in London and even abroad kind of knew and wanted to know, but then they separated to lead their normal lives. It happens. They re-emerged last year with the catchy single “Disco Dancer” and the ultra-cool EP, Never Let You Go. The trio are back, sounding better than ever with the fiery “Wake Up”.
Whereas the EP was more introspective and celebratory, Bugeye return to their political roots and deliver another disco-infused post-punk anthem that would even have the Pixies, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Sleater-Kinney rocking out. Their focus, though, isn’t on the politicians nor the ambitious, self-centered individuals. Instead, they unleash their fury on you, me, and ordinary citizens. They’re telling us to open our eyes and ears, get off our asses, and act. From Brexit to the election of Donald Trump, the world is in disarray due in large part to our apathy. If these events aren’t enough to wake us up, then what will?
Bugeye are Angela Martin (vocals/guitar), Paula Snow (bass), and Jack Houston (drums).
Caity Krone – “Record About You” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Fleetwood Mac, Bryde, Land of Talk
On Caity Krone‘s Facebook page, she lists Ed Sheeran, Nina Nesbitt, Emeli Sande, and Passenger as some of the artists she likes. There is no mention of Fleetwood Mac, Christine McVie, or Stevie Nicks, yet her debut single wouldn’t be out of place on Rumours. Just one listen to “Record About You” will have you reflecting on the ’70s and that legendary band’s prime years.
Right away, Krone delivers a knockout blow with the very first lyrics she sings because her voice is stunningly amazing. They are full, rich, and memorable and have a hint of McVie. Her songwriting is terrific. Although the subject matter is familiar, she brings us alongside her as she tries to deal with the grief and disappointment that comes with the termination of a relationship.
“I could write an entire record about you,” she sings. The lyrics are clever as, on the one hand, they describe the magnitude of her pain and disappointment. On the other hand, it seems like a subtle jab at today’s music industry, where entire albums focus on a single subject matter, often love or heartbreak. Let’s hope there are more tricks in Krone’s songwriting book.
Cloud Castle Lake – “Twins” (Dublin, Ireland)
RIYL: Wild Beasts meets Antibalas, Grizzly Bear
As the indie world slowly says goodbye to one of its most influential bands in Wild Beasts, another band is positioning itself to take their place. That band is Cloud Castle Lake. The art-rockers have been hovering under the radar for nearly five years, but soon music fans will discover their brilliance. Melding jazz, rock, blues, and pop, the Dublin four-piece are redefining innovation. Their latest song just might be their masterpiece.
“Twins” is amazing and an absolutely mind-blowing experience. Every element – the blustery horns, the dissonant guitar, the soothing bass line, the titillating percussion, and the exotic vocals – is perfectly executed. For five-and-a-half minutes, the band take us on an adventure that is at times breathtaking, while other times we feel like we are free-falling out of control. Where we land is unknown, but in Cloud Castle Lake we trust. They have, after all, given us a song that is among the very best of the year, and we don’t say this lightly. Did we say this song was amazing and mind-blowing?
Cloud Castle Lake are Brendan William Jenkinson, Rory O’Connor, Daniel McAuley, and Brendan Doherty.
The Fluids – “Just Like Me” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: David Bowie, Destroyer, The Rolling Stones
New York City residents, it’s time to open your mind and point your ears in the direction of The Fluids because they will soon be the Big Apple’s next great outfit. In the short time we’ve gotten to know them, they’e blown us away with their reinterpretation of ’70s and ’80s music. Their first single, “Creatures”, was a majestic glam-rock anthem that made you want to dance all night long, just like Gary Glitter once made our parents feel. This time around, they channel one of the most iconic singer-songwriters in modern music history.
“Just Like Me” is a classic ’70s art-rock number that echoes David Bowie in its intensity, infectiousness, and overall brilliance. As you replay it and listen more closely, the song could be the sequel to a Bowie classic. In this song, however, we follow one man’s journey to do what Bowie asked us – to “be heroes for just one day”. A reticence, though, lingers because our hero cannot do it alone. He wonders if he can even make the ultimate sacrifice and find the words to say in order to save the one he loves.
“So I went to the country to die like a king
And swat at the fruit flies
And looked through the wreckage
They’re dusty, they’re spineless
Just like me!”
Awesome. Simply awesome.
The Fluids are Michael O’Donnell, Nick de Molina, and Cooper Formant.
Hater – “Blushing” (Malmö, Sweden)
RIYL: The Cranberries, Strange Hellos, Alvvays,
We’ve long been infatuated with Swedish quartet Hater. Despite their name, they make some of the most shimmering and sugary indie- and guitar-pop on the planet. They are essentially this generation’s The Cranberries. Like the famous Irish band in their youth, every Hater song touches your soul and either makes you smile or soothes your nerves. Their new single, “Blushing”, is a perfect illustration of their feel-good power.
Like a calm ocean breeze blowing on a hot day, “Blushing” is refreshing and awe-inspiring. To that end, the song feels like a day at the beach with the lead guitar creating a surf-pop melody and the groovy bass line causing our hearts to skip a beat. Frontwoman Caroline Landahl’s vocals are delicate, intimate, and vulnerable, as she shares a moment of weakness in her life. We all have experienced this at least once, where we let our guard down and allow someone to walk in and engulf our lives. The only difference is that our experiences never sounded as gorgeous as this song.
Hater are Måns Leonartsson, Adam Agace, Lukas Thomasson, and Caroline Landahl.
The New Spring – “Gershwin Wakes Up Singing” (Copenhagen, Denmark)
RIYL: Slow Dancer, Bright Eyes, Tom Waits
There aren’t many bands or artists these days who take on names that describe their music. Danish singer-songwriter Bastian Kallesøe is going against the grain because the music he creates under his project, The New Spring, sounds exactly like the season. In other words, his songs have a sunny disposition, and they unsurprisingly leave you smiling. This is how “Gershwin Wakes Up Singing” will impress upon you.
The single is wonderful. Kallesøe’s vocals are soft and enchanting, akin to Slow Dancer, the Aussie artist who is among this year’s biggest surprises. The instrumentation, meanwhile, is elegant and graceful, merging jazz with soul-pop to create a soundscape that embraces the listener like a warm hug. His songwriting is equally outstanding. Correction: his storytelling is outstanding, as he describes what he imagines to be a day in the life of the great American composer (or maybe the song is about the brother who was the lyricist).
Other States – “Annabei” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: The National, Nick Cave, El Vy
Eventually those in the UK will wake up and discover the excellence of Other States. They’re no ordinary band, so people will have to open their minds to appreciate their talents. Those who love drama and theater in their music, though, will become instant fans, like we did when we first heard “Make Amends” in June. Yesterday, the Brighton-based sextet released their fourth single, another stellar track, albeit a little different.
“Annabei” is a bit darker and more suspenseful than the band’s previous efforts. It retains, however, the band’s penchant for creating gripping cinema in their songs, much like Nick Cave and to an extent The National. The harrowing bass line and Mark S. Aaron’s Matt Berninger-like vocals lead the way, giving this song about an exploited woman its creepiness. There are moments of lush radiance that break up the foreboding atmosphere, but they give off a false sense of security. It’s like seeing a striking person in the distance, but as you get closer the wounds on their body become more apparent. This is another reason why we are fans of Other States – they turn the expected into something completely unexpected.
Other States are Mark S. Aaron (lead vocals), Mike Lord (piano/backing vocals), Cameron Dawson (bass), Max Numajiri (guitar), Lb (percussion/backing vocals), and Chris Boot (drums).
Sea Mouse – “Churches In The Trenches” (Wellington, New Zealand)
RIYL: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Wolfmother, Reignwolf
What happened to all the explosive, blues-rock outfits? In the early- to mid-2000s, blues-rock became its own industry, and people couldn’t get enough of the heavy, hair-raising guitar riffs and chest-pounding rhythms. Times sure have changed, but there’s a band in the coolest capital city in the world doing their part to revitalize the genre.
Meet Sea Mouse, a trio from Wellington fronted by veteran singer-songwriter and guitarist Seamus Johnson. To be honest, I had not heard of the band until this past weekend when they opened for Racing, who were touring in support of their EP, The Bass. Sea Mouse, though, left a huge impression, as for 45 minutes they fired one blistering blues-rock salvo after another. Visions of Led Zeppelin, Wolfmother, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and Reignwolf came flooding into view, and the band reminded everyone in the room how great blues-rock can be.
In July, Sea Mouse released their self-titled debut album, which is available on Bandcamp. The record features more than just blues-rock, although the best songs are definitely seismically charged rockers, such as “Churches In The Trenches”. This song is an absolute mind-bender that will have you maddeningly thrusting your head, violently pumping the air with your fist, and unfurling your best air guitar windmill. You also might find yourself hollering, “Fuck yeah!” at the end.
Sea Mouse are Seamus Johnson, Scott Maynard, and Thomas Friggens.
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