The Matinee November 2nd edition starts off with a song from one of soul’s great artists. It’s one of the most moving songs you’ll hear. It ends with a young artist who is finally getting her well-received break. The song she shares is a classic.
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – “Call On God” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Sharon Jones…because she is incomparable
The world is still morning the loss of Sharon Jones. Even though she is no longer with us, her spirit and presence are still all around us. On November 17th, her band the Dap-Kings and label Daptone Records will release one last album, Soul of a Woman. One of the songs from the record is “Call On God”, which in under 4 minutes represents everything about Ms. Jones. While I could describe the song, the Dap-Kings articulate it much better than I could.
Pre-order and streaming options for Soul of a Woman are available here.
Sharon Jones wrote “Call on God” in the late 1970s for E.L. Fields’ Gospel Wonders, a choir she sang with throughout most of her life at the Universal Church of God in New York City.
She recorded the song with the Dap-Kings in 2007.
On December 18th, 2016, Pastor Margot Fields, E.L.’s widow, presided over Sharon’s memorial service in Brooklyn, which was attended by several of the original members of the Gospel Wonders who had come in from different parts of the country to help celebrate Sharon’s life. Together again, they performed a moving tribute to Sharon as part of the service. After the service, Bosco Mann and the Dap-Kings invited the singers, all great friends of Sharon’s, back to the Daptone House of Soul studios in Bushwick to finish “Call on God” with them. At the studio, the members of the choir put on headphones and heard Sharon’s voice singing the song she wrote for them three decades earlier. Sharon always wanted to add background vocals to the song and she would have been happy to know that her old friends had come through to sing with her one final time.
Alana Henderson – “Let This Remain” (Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland)
RIYL: Sara Watkins, First Aid Kit, Joanna Newsom
Sara Watkins has made a career of utilizing the fiddle in unconventional ways. Tall Tall Trees, likewise, showed how the banjo can also be used to create high-energy indie pop-rock. Northern Ireland artist, Alana Henderson, is similarly turning the cello into a frighteningly haunting tool.
Known for her work with Hozier, Henderson is gradually carving out a niche to call her own. Specifically, with her inventive use of the cello, she is also transforming how Irish folk songs are heard and told. Her new single, “Let This Remain”, is a perfect illustration of her genius. The song is dark, haunting, and full of mystery, yet it is striking in its beauty. The cello takes on at least four different tones in the song, leaving one at times mesmerized and other moments frightened at what is to come. It isn’t, however, the only gorgeous element, as Henderson’s arresting vocals levitate above everything. Her lyrics explain how everything, including relationships, are fluid and transient, particularly when is constantly on the move. For Henderson, that is the life of a touring musician, but her next move will be rising to the top of indie-folk charts everywhere.
Brenda – “Beard of Bees” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: OCS, Oblivians, Meatbodies
OCS (formerly known as Thee Oh Sees and Oh Sees) are traversing calmer these days, but fortunately there is another band filling the gap of fiery, unrelenting, weirdo psychedelic-garage-rock. That band is Toronto’s Brenda. Their previous single, “Children”, was a delirious trip. Their new song, “Beard of Bees”, is experiencing the greatest roller coaster ride on the planet. This song is an absolute riot.
There are exactly 45 seconds of calm, and they are found right at the beginning. The intro is basically like the start of a roller coaster – the slow and methodical ascent up to the highest point. With each passing second, anticipation grows, which the slight guitar squalls represent. Then the excitement arrives with the first drop, and at this point the song gets faster, more furious, and way more intense. Brenda, however, save the best for the very end, where the song’s final minute is a howling scorcher much like the sound one hears during the coaster’s longest and steepest free fall. And like the best amusement park rides, you’ll want to get back in line immediately to do it all over again. “F*** yeah!”
“Beard of Bees” is taken from Brenda’s forthcoming, debut EP, the aptly titled Creeper, which arrives November 17th.
Cactus? – “dull gaze”” (Vincenza, Italy)
RIYL: Underworld, Kraftwerk, and a Commodore 64
When we came across Cactus? (the question mark is deliberate) a year ago, they reminded us of Wolf Parade and Arctic Monkeys in their early days. Well, we can throw that comparison out the window with their new single, “dull gaze”, because they have crafted something incredibly weird, wacky, inventive, and awesome.
The RIYL is not a joke. This song sounds like a mash-up of electronic legends Underworld and industrial superheros Kraftwerk but played on a Commodore 64. It’s really bizarre at first and even chaotic; however, after a couple of spins one can truly appreciate the genius of the track. It’s three minutes of unrelenting energy and excitement, as the various beats, samples, and effects buzz in every direction. Then a military-style percussion and searing guitar slice through the chaos and momentarily ground us. But then the delirium ramps up and we’re spiraling through an eccentric rabbit hole. Or maybe the feeling is that of a pinball being furiously battered around by the bumpers, leading to an endless stream of flashing bright lights. Whatever the feeling it is, the end result is an experience like no other. Hopefully, it will have you saying, “Whoa!” It sure did for us.
Cactus? are Simone (vocals/guitar), Francesco (drums/vocals) and Andrea (bass/synth/vocals).
Good Girl and the Bad Times – “The Bell” (London, England and New York City, USA)
RIYL: Cults, Wy, Cathedrals
When we first came across Jenny and El Block’s project, Good Girl and the Bad Times, in August, we expressed that our love affair with them had just begun. The song that captured our hearts was “We Go This Way”, which was absolutely stunning. They surely could not create another song that would make us ooh and ah, could they? It’s obviously a rhetorical question because, otherwise, we wouldn’t be sharing “The Bell”.
This is another incredibly gorgeous number by the sister-brother duo. Whereas “We Go This Way” was sultry, “The Bell” is mysterious. The shallow beats and deep synths create a soundscape made for the wee hours of the morning, where the night is at its darkest. It is the sound of a lonely heart. Jenny’s sensual vocals, meanwhile, is the silent whisper that throbs in our head, telling us to move on. Telling us to let go. Her lyrics are just that – of a woman who finally has had enough and is ready to start a new chapter in her life. But like the atmosphere El has created, what the future holds is a mystery.
Did we mention that we’ve fallen head over heels for this band?
Hoult – “Pharmacy” (Cardiff, Wales)
RIYL: Bombay Bicycle Club, City Calm Down, Blajk
The majority of people love a new artist who immediately tops the charts with a banger. For us, though, gives us someone who impresses with great songwriting and a story that rattles our souls and makes us feel like the person in the song is us. This is what newcomer Hoult – the project of Sam Fowke – has done with “Pharmacy”.
The Cardiff-based singer-songwriter’s debut single is in one word – remarkable. Musically, “Pharmacy” is akin to the exhilarating and endearing indie-pop of Bicycle Club, where the crescendos rise to near anthemic heights. His songwriting, meanwhile, possesses the same emotional poignancy as Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison. In this case, he shares his experience of not being able to help a dying friend overcome his pain. So while the music may be uplifting, his lyrics are full of pain and regret.
“And you know I wish I could be there for you.
Oh Charlie I wish I was there for you.
And I run down to the pharmacy,
But it’s closed at this time at night.
I’m afraid there is not a lot that I can do,
So you’re just gonna just have to fight.”
Remarkable. Is it too early to anoint Fowke as an artist to watch?
The single is out now and available via Phwoar and Peace.
M.A.G.S. – “Drugs” (Buffalo, USA)
RIYL: Ariel Pink, Smith Westerns, Whitney
There are a few things that the city of Buffalo is known for, such as its tasty chicken wings, the Bills, the Sabres, and Niagara Falls (although the Canadian side is better). Better make some room for M.A.G.S., the project started by Elliott Douglas and supported by Dave Drago.
M.A.G.S.’s music isn’t the rock ‘n roll with which the western New York city is often associated. Instead, his style, as revealed on “Drugs”, is more akin to the neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The tune has a summery, low-key vibe meant for lazy evenings on the patio with your favorite chilled beverage – or a hot bevvy in front of the fireplace. Similar to artists like Ariel Pink and Whitney, beneath the shimmering melody lies a serious story. In this case, Douglas describes a woman’s addiction as a means to escape her situation. The lyrics are vivid, poetic, and even a touch troubling, and they reflect the reality of so many.
Ought – “These 3 Things” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: non-commercial Talking Heads/David Byrne, El Vy, Robert Smith
Earlier this year, Tim Darcy released the genre-defying Saturday Night, which was a clever output that bridged the divide between the old and the new. With his solo debut out of the way, he’s back with his main outfit, Ought, although he hasn’t completely separated himself from he has just created. He’s just re-calibrated his position and channeled different artists.
With Ought’s first single since 2015’s LP Sun Coming Down, the band traverse the alt-pop fields that David Byrne and Talking Heads fertilized back in the ’70s and ’80s. As such, the song is groovy, a touch theatrical and even wacky, and extremely refreshing. Darcy’s voice, meanwhile, is a blend of Robert Smith and Marlon Williams – in other words, like a Gothic crooner. His lyrics, too, are a bit strange, as he describes the claustrophobic world of one man and his deep desires. If the song wasn’t bizarre enough for you, check out the video.
Ought are Tim Darcy (guitars/vocals), Matt May (keyboards), Ben Stidworthy (bass), and Tim Keen (drums/violin). They’re heading out on tour with Waxahatchee beginning tomorrow, and in the new year they’ll be headlining their own global trip. Dates and information are available here.
Stef Chura – “Speeding Ticket” (Detroit, USA)
RIYL: Stevie Nicks, Alanis Morissette, Sunflower Bean
Unless we’re asked to premiere a video, we never recycle songs. That is, if we’ve covered a song through one of our playlists or within an album review, we don’t share it again. Never. Today, though, we’re making an exception for two reasons. First, Stef Chura, one of our Artists to Watch for 2017, finally got her big break. Yesterday, she announced that she signed with great indie label Saddle Creek Records, who will be re-releasing her fantastic album, Messes.
Second, to mark the occasion, she re-released “Speeding Ticket”, the record’s closing number. This song needs to be heard again because it demonstrates Chura’s incredible talents. The song resonates with the intimacy of Stevie Nicks yet is possesses the emotive power and songwriting genius of Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill”. This farewell to a dear friend is stunning and enrapturing, and it will grab your heart and never let go.
“What’s good for you?
Is it relief?
Is it time
To feel a real thing?
This is the second that we leave
Behind the air we used to breath.
Slide away from my feet
Where the air lost its scent
And my eyelashes meet.
I’ve got a speeding ticket to you
Just awaiting in my sleep.”
Oh, she wrote this song 10 years ago when she was 18-years old, demonstrating that her songs are timeless. This song is a masterpiece and an instant classic.
Chura’s album, Messes, is available now digitally. It will also be released on vinyl and cassette on February 2nd. Physical copies, which come with an instant MP3 download, can be pre-ordered here. You can also read our review of this terrific album.
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