Obviously today is Halloween, and creepy songs could occupy The Matinee October 31st edition. On the other hand, we could just share what we think is great music for people to discover, basically sticking with our usual formula. Or, we could combine both, which is exactly what we’ve done today. There are a couple of songs that have a definite Halloween vibe while others are fabulous songs you must hear. One other thing to note – there is not a single artist or band from the US on today’s mini-playlist. Of course, we start things off with a band whose name is derived from the city that gave us Motown.
D/troit – “Roll with the Punches” (Copenhagen, Denmark)
RIYL: Curtis Mayfield, Lee Fields, Curtis Harding
Copenhagen isn’t a place that one often associates with some cool, vintage soul music. Well, D/troit is about to change your mind because the Danish band sound like they were established in the ’60s and ’70s in, obviously, Detroit. And yes, front man Toke Bo and his band mates have a soulful delivery that will remind you of the greats – from Marvin Gaye to Bill Withers to Curtis Mayfield to James Brown. If you’re having your doubts, one listen to “Roll with the Punches” will change your mind.
The song is funky, gritty, edgy, and just 110% fantastic. The horns, the trembling drums, the groovy bass line, and the bright chimes of the keys are from a bygone era, but D/troit are reviving it. It’s not just the music, however, that sounds like from the past. Bo’s story is also from that time period, where music was inspiring and the songs became anthems for a people and a movement. In this case, Bo tells the story of a person who is down but not out and is on the road to redemption. “Roll with the Punches”, as such, could be about you or me, a soundtrack for our lives.
FEHM – “Human Age” (Leeds, England)
RIYL: Joy Division, Preoccupations, Eagulls
On Friday, one of the UK’s great but under-the-radar post-punk bands FEHM released a split single. The first song was shared a month ago – the throbbing “Last Breath”. Now out is the second half of the pairing, and it will bring post-punk fans back to mid-’70s Manchester.
“Human Age” is a masterful piece of exhilarating post-punk. It is dark and suspenseful yet mesmerizing and intoxicating. It like choosing the red pill and falling deep into the abyss that takes you away from fiction into reality. Throughout the ride, though, you’re completely hypnotized by the dissonant guitars, the buzzing synths, and the probing rhythms. Meanwhile, front man Paul Riddle is your guide, who tells you a story about the rise and fall of humanity. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
FEHM are Paul Riddle (vocals), Amy Fishlock (bass), Chris Lodge (drums), Darren Lord (synths), and Ben Holmes (guitar).
Hey Elbow – “Quest” (Malmö & Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: The Knife, Pumarosa, She Drew the Gun
We cannot say enough about the Swedish music scene. If some said that the Scandinavian country was creating the best and most innovative music on the planet, we would not argue. No matter the genre and whether it is commercial or indie, the Swedes are reigning. Further enhancing the Tre Kronor’s reputation is the return of dark dream-pop trio Hey Elbow.
In 2015, they released their much-celebrated debut album, Every Other, which caught the ears and attention of many in northern Europe, including Iceland Airwaves who have invited the trio to play at their prestigious annual festival. Before Hey Elbow fly to Reykjavik, they have shared a stunner of a single in “Quest”. The song sounds like a memorable winter’s night near the Arctic Circle, where the clear skies are brightened up by the dancing colors of the Aurora Borealis. Like the cosmic phenomenon, the song dazzles for every single second. The crystalline guitar is breathtaking, the heavy synths and rhythms are hypnotic, and front woman Julia Ringdahl’s vocals are enchanting. As such, to properly experience the song requires being in a secluded place where interruptions do not exist. Then close your eyes, take a deep breath, and experience this gorgeous wonderland.
“Quest” is the lead single from Hey Elbow’s forthcoming new album, which is expected in 2018 via Adrian Recordings.
Hey Elbow are Julia Ringdahl (vocals/guitar), Ellen Petersson (horns/electronics), and Liam Amner (drums).
Holy Bouncer – “Mightly Mad” (Barcelona, Spain)
RIYL: Night Beats, The Black Lips, early Tame Impala
2017 has been a wild, wild year, and there are still 61 days remaining. It’s like we’ve permanently housed ourselves inside a house of horrors and the surprises keep coming. This world has become “Mightly Mad”, which just happens to be the title of Holy Bouncer‘s new single. Based in Barcelona, the psychedelic-rock quintet are witnessing first hand the chaos and turmoil that have characterized the year, so the song may have more meaning to them.
Musically, the song is a groovy mind-bender of a psych-rock number. The funk-defied bass line and reverb-drenched guitars are awesome, and the addition of the keys adds an unexpected acid-jazz element to the track. Together they create an atmosphere where we feel like we are free-falling down through the rabbit hole. Unfortunately, as the spacey vocals inform us, this isn’t Wonderland where we have landed. Instead, this is where “the world has ended”, and it’s all occurring right in front of us.
Watch the cool video as well, which accentuates the song’s message.
Holy Bouncer are Bernat Cuyàs, Manu Abel, Jordi Figueras, Pol Rendé, and Miguel Robres.
John Joseph Brill – “All Eyes” (Liverpool via London, England)
RIYL: The National, Future Islands, Other States
Despite his first three EPs receiving critical acclaim from BBC Radio, The Guardian, and other leading UK publications and tastemakers, John Joseph Brill somehow remains under the radar. Maybe a slight change of approach will lead to music fans from with the UK and from far afield to discover his talent.
With a combination of the brooding indie-rock of The National and the rousing synth-pop aesthetics of Future Islands, “All Eyes” is a piece of cinematic brilliance. It is dark yet uplifting and a bit suspenseful yet full of light. The instrumentation is fantastically executed, creating these contradictory yet surprisingly complementary feelings. You’ll want to dance and run, spin around wildly in circles, or rattle your head. While Brill goes more widescreen with this song, one thing remains the same – his songwriting. So while you lose yourself within the song’s 5.5-minute delirium, take notice of his tale about tracking down his “porcelain girl”.
The single is out now via Kobalt Music.
Brill is heading out on a mini-tour of the UK beginning next week. Dates and information are available here or on his website.
Leif Vollebekk – “Tallahassee” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Bahamas, Gregory Alan Isakov, Jesse Marchant
Earlier this year, Leif Vollebekk released one of the most beautiful albums of not just 2017 but the last five years. Twin Solitude was an endless journey, where the listener was seated next to the Montreal-based singer-songwriter and joining him on one of his global expeditions. Last week, he revealed an unreleased song from the record, and it is both a reminder of Vollebekk’s incredible talent and how prolific of a storyteller he is.
With him alone at the piano, Vollebekk reminisces about a night in “Tallahassee”. The ballad is masterfully delivered, as it feels like it is just the singer and you in a dimly room. For over five minutes, you give your undivided attention to his raspy voice and fantastic storyline, imagining you are him and waiting for the mysterious woman to meet you. Rarely can a song feel so intimate, but then again Vollebekk is no ordinary artist. He is in a class all is own.
Not surprisingly, Vollebekk is currently on tour, traveling at this moment through Europe. He’ll be back in North America at the end of November. Dates and information are on his website.
Little Quirks – “Run Away” (Central Coast, Australia)
RIYL: First Aid Kit, The Staves, The Wild Reeds
We have no idea how old Little Quirks are, but based on their music alone one would likely assume they’re in the early 20s and maybe older. Instead, this family trio are all in their teens, likely early to mid-teens, which explains how talented these three young women are. Comprised of sisters Abbey (vocals/guitar) and Mia (drums) and cousin Jaymi (vocal and mandolin), Little Quirks have established a strong following along Australia’s eastern seaboard thanks to their intimate and unpretentious indie-folk approach. They started off with two covers EPs, but more recently they’ve branched out to writing and recording their own music, which is more impressive than the popular music they’ve been reinterpreting. One example of their original work is “Run Away”.
This song is fantastic. The harmonies are terrifically delivered, as the trio have infused smokey and haunting elements into contemporary indie-folk. A feeling of uneasy calm, as such, fills the air, where one may feel safe around the fire yet still feel eyes are watching her from all sides. The song’s intensity and drama is further heightened by the harmonies, as Abbey’s and Mia’s voices veer in opposite directions and occasionally colliding. The interplay is perfectly executed, as one is telling us to get up and run away while the other one is telling us to be cautious.
Wow, talk about a great first impression. Expect to see Little Quirks performing at festivals around the world in the near future. We’ll say it now, they’ll be playing at Newport Folk Festival within five years, if not sooner.
“Run Away” is taken from their new EP, Suzie Knows, which arrives this Thursday, November 2nd.
Rikas – “Tortellini Tuesday” (Stuttgart, Germany)
RIYL: Allah-Lahs, Mac DeMarco, Salad Boys
Tuesday nights are among the cheapest nights to go out during the week. Some cinemas and theaters offer discounts to watch a film or a play today. Restaurants are also getting on the action with specials, such as two-for-one meals, 30% off entrées, or have a theme night, such as “Tortellini Tuesday”. This single by German quartet Rikas, however, is more than just about the popular pocket pasta. It is also about doing one of the most difficult things – making someone who is down-and-out smile on their birthday.
While Sam, Sascha, Chris, and Ferdi try everything to make their friend feel good about turning a year older (actually it’s just a day older), this summery, jangle-pop tune will put a smile on your face. It also might have you dancing around, shaking your hips, or at the very least noodling your head from side to side. It’s a catchy, feelgood song that is perfect for whatever mood you’re in. Now whether the foursome were successful cheering up their friend is unknown. We’re sure if they played this song for her they would have succeeded.
If you’re in Germany, the gents have a few gigs lined up for November. Dates and information can be found here.
White Room – “Cannibal Song” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: The Horrors, The Beatles (Magical Mystery Tour era), Connan Mockasin
We end the mini-playlist with the most Halloween-like song on the list. Not surprisingly, it comes from one of our favorite bands White Room, who consistently amaze us with their modern take of psychedelic rock and their even trippier storytelling. They just might have created their most far-out number in “Cannibal Song”.
This song is an absolutely creepy trip. Imagine The Beatles at their trippiest (such as “I Am the Walrus”) mixed with a bit of the freak-psych of The Horrors, and that is what you get with “Cannibal Song”, musically anyway. Lyrically, for those who have watched The Silence of the Lambs will immediately have images of Hannibal Lecter dancing in your heads. The lyrics are right out of the Academy Award-winning film for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Actor, and front man Jake Smallwood’s dead pan delivery takes the song’s eeriness to another level.
“Won’t you join me for tea tonight?
I’ll cook you something nice,
Hands and feet with a side of beans and rice.
I’ve got a taste for you
Between your hat and the sole of your shoes.
To me, you’re the last of a feast that I’ve seen for years.
The song is taken from White Room’s new EP, Eight, which is out now via Deltasonic Records.
The band is comprised of Jake Smallwood (vocals), Jacob Newman (guitar), Tristan Sava (guitar/keys), Josie McNamara (bass), and Hen Sava (drums).
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