The Matinee December 7th is rarity – each of the nine artists and bands have previously been showcased before, either on one of our daily playlists or in another feature. Some, however, have not released anything new in a little while others are gearing up for a massive 2018.
Anna Burch – “Tea-Soaked Letter” (Detroit, USA)
RIYL: Jay Som, Fazerdaze, Stef Chura
We’ll predict it right now – Anna Burch will be one of 2018’s breakout stars, replicating similar breakthroughs as Julien Baker in 2015 and Maggie Rogers and Julia Jacklin in 2016. The young singer-songwriter from Detroit has it all – a catchy, ’90s-inspired pop-rock approach, soothing vocals, and clever yet relatable stories. The tipping point, though, is that she will unveil her debut album in 2018, which should see the likes of Pitchfork, Stereogum, NME, and Triple J either praising her music or incessantly plugging her songs. Helping to fuel her rise to indie stardom is her latest single, “Tea-Soaked Letter”, which is a multi-faceted relationship song.
Beneath the addictive guitar riff and cool melody lies an introspective song that only a few great singer-songwriters could match in its intelligence and description of conflicting emotions (think Mitski, Angel Olsen, Jay Som). Burch moves easily from feeling abandoned and betrayed by those who “love you” (“Strange the ones you love / could bury your body underground”) to acknowledging her self-imposed exile to her desire to be with someone. We all have experienced this at one point in life (and may still do), but Burch offers a beacon of hope that things can and will get better even if the news comes from a “Tea-Soaked Letter”. For Burch, the sky is the limit, and the buzz around her should reach a feverish pitch in the coming months if not days.
As always, Burch has released a cute video for the song, which can be viewed over here.
The single is out now via Polyvinyl Records and Heavenly Recordings, who will release Burch’s debut album, Quit the Curse, on February 2nd. Pre-orders available at Polyvinyl’s store and the usual streaming and download sites.
Caroline Rose – “Money” (New York City via Burlington, VT, USA)
RIYL: Lisa Prank, Tacocat, Dude York
Where does one begin to describe the fireball that is Caroline Rose? By fireball, we mean she bursts with energy – not just occasionally but every waking moment. Maybe her rambunctiousness comes from living in a van and traveling across the USA for several months. Maybe she’s one of those rare breeds who is naturally outgoing and whose energy is contagious. The Vermont native, however, is much more than the human version of the Energizer bunny; she is also the Quentin Tarantino of singer-songwriters.
Her debut album, I Will Not Be Afraid, was filled with razor-sharp observations about life and being a young woman in America. While the LP revolved largely around rockabilly, country-folk, and Americana, she’s adopting a new tone for her new album, at least that’s the indication the lead single, “Money”, gives.
This song is wildly fun and smart. A spaghetti Western vibe intertwines with angst-pop to give the track a gritty but catchy madhouse sound. This is likely what the Mad Hatter would be listening to when he’s not hosting a tea party. Her lyrics, too, are whimsical but hard-hitting. Instead of looking introspectively, she focuses her sights on the state of the world, specifically how greed corrupts all. Her lyrics are Tarantino-esque, as she lists every possible sin and desire but at the end of the day “we only do it for the money”.
If you’re in need of some entertainment, view the amusing video here. It was directed by Horatio Baltz, who also channels the Pulp Fiction writer and director.
Geowulf – “Hideaway” (London, England via Noosa, QLD, Australia)
RIYL: Tennis, La Sera, Fickle Friends
In the short period of time we’ve gotten to know Geowulf, the project of Aussie expats Star Kendrick and Toma Banjanin, we’ve learned one important thing – their embracing indie-pop songs are more than they first seem. That to us is the hallmark of a great artist – or artists in this case. Their newest single, “Hideaway”, is another Matryoshka number, whose layers run far deeper than one would expect.
The shimmering pop approach sounds like summertime in the ’70s. Its warm and sizzling like the high-noon sun. As Kendrick’s sweet vocals further make you fall under Geowulf’s spell, her lyrics are what pull you in. At first, “Hideaway” sounds like a typical love story, and it is but it isn’t. It’s not the tale of a woman who has had her heart broken and is trying to win back an ex-lover. On the contrary, it is the undying love of a friend, parent, son, daughter, or partner, who is trying to connect with someone extremely dear. However, that person is off in a distant place and living in their “own cave” and shutting people out. It’s a clever tune that could apply in many circumstances.
Geowulf’s new album, Great Big Blue, will be released February 16th via 37 Adventures.
Grace Vonderkuhn – “Worry” (Wilmington, DE, USA)
RIYL: Bully, Marika Hackman, Liz Phair, Joan Jett
We’ve long had Grace Vonderkuhn on our radars because the Delaware resident is an old-school rocker. This isn’t to say she’s old (we think she’s still in her 20s), but rather her sound reminds us of the rock music that filtered through our headphones when we were teenagers. We have even passingly referred to her as the Millennials’ or Generation Z’s Joan Jett or Liz Phair. This might be high praise, but one listen to her new single, “Worry”, will likely convince you.
“Worry” is raw, unfiltered, ’90s-esque power garage-rock. Vonderkuhn’s guitar work is fiery and angsty, just like how Corin Tucker wails on her Fender. She isn’t alone, though, as Brian Bartling (bass) and Dave McGrory (drums) provide the pulsating, sonic hammers. While the music is wonderfully gritty, Vonderkuhn’s vocals are intoxicating, and you just might find yourself falling under her spell as she sings, “You don’t have to worry about it ever again”. In listening to a song like this, all our concerns indeed will wash away. Hmm…she just might be the next Joan Jett or Liz Phair.
“Worry” is the lead single from Vonderkuhn’s yet-to-be-titled debut album. It will be released February 23rd via Egghunt Records.
KOY – “RUN” (Berlin, Germany via St. Petersburg, Russia)
RIYL: Björk, Alice Glass, Lupa J
As 2017 comes to a close, it’s time to start looking ahead and predict which artists could become the biggest surprises of 2018. One of those could very well be KOY, the project of St. Petersberg-born, Berlin-based Victoria Trunova. In August, she released her debut single, “HEAT”, which reminded us of a young Björk. Proving that wasn’t a fluke, her second single reveals an artist on the cusp of achieving something incredibly special.
“RUN” is enrapturing. It is a haunting and delirious piece of darktronica that merges Björk’s theatrics with the propulsive cosmic soundscapes of HEALTH and Crystal Castles. It is a mind-blowing and mind-numbing experience that will have you dancing with your eyes close while imagining where your utopia exists. Maybe we’ll never find our Eden, but for nearly four minutes we get to escape this mad, mad world.
Kyle Craft – “The Rager” (Portland, USA)
RIYL: Kevin Morby, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen
Is there a more underrated singer-songwriter than Kyle Craft? If there is, please let us know. Despite having the backing of a great label in Sub Pop, Craft somehow continues to fly under the radar. Folks who attended the 2016 Newport Folk Festival got a glimpse of his talent when he performed a rousing rendition of David Bowie’s “Heroes” (it was one of our favorite moments of the memorable festival). Maybe, just maybe the rest of the world will discover his incredible talent in 2018 when his new album, Full Circle Nightmare, is released on February 2nd via Sub Pop (pre-orders available at the label’s store or on Bandcamp). The lead single is a song that is reminiscent of one of the all-time greats.
“The Rager” is a classic folk-rock number that echoes Bob Dylan in every element. The classic arrangements recall the ’70s after Dylan turned the folk genre on its head by going electric. Yet like great folk songs, this number could be played outside with friends gathered on the veranda, snuggled up next to the fireplace with a loved one, or on a road trip through middle America. His songwriting is ingenious, as he describes the life of one woman in America. A woman with destructive habits and who performs in front of a select clientele in order to make ends meet. Unfortunately, her story doesn’t have a happy ending, which is the case for tens of thousands of Americans. Another way to think of this brilliant number – “The Rager” is Craft’s equivalent to Springsteen’s “The Ghost of Tom Joad”, a song for the everyday American.
Watch the video here, which is worth watching.
POLIÇA and s t a r g a z e – “Agree” (Minneapolis, USA & Amsterdam, Netherlands/Berlin, Germany/London, England)
RIYL: Bats for Lashes, Cat Power, Frida Sundemo
There are so many bands and artists that we wish would be willing to push the proverbial envelope and try something new. This thought, however, never arrives when we think about POLIÇA, who despite forming in 2011 constantly are experimenting. They truly are one of the great innovators in music today, taking the reigns from the likes of David Byrne and Robert Plant in determining the extent of their boundaries. Their new venture (or maybe adventure) sees them team up with Berlin-based symphonic collective s t a r g a z e. When considering POLIÇA’s music and discography, the pairing isn’t that unusual because the Minneapolis-based band has always had a sense of drama. The collaboration’s newest single is just that.
“Agree” is an incredibly stunning but icy ballad. It is the former due to s t a r g a z e’s fabulous instrumentation and Channy Leaneagh’s lush and haunting vocals. The combination yields an approach that sounds like one of the Brothers Grimm’s stories coming to life (a darker version of Snow White comes to mind). The latter shows up in Leaneagh’s lyrics. Her tale is one part an unexpected love affair and another part the pitfalls of addiction and not just to love. Lyrically, this isn’t a song that should be played to little ones before they go to sleep, but it will leave adults enchanted by this devastating fairy tale.
The song is taken from Music For The Long Emergency, the forthcoming collaborative album between POLIÇA and s t a r g a z e. It comes out February 16th on Transgressive Records and Totally Gross National Product.
RAINDEAR – “Diamonds In My Chest” (Malmö, Sweden)
RIYL: Bats for Lashes, Goldfrapp, Lorde
It has been over year since we last heard from Rebecca Bergcrantz’s project RAINDEAR. The young singer-songwriter and electro-pop artist was on the fast-track to being Sweden’s answer to Lorde, but she opted to take several months off to re-energize and come back with more music to rattle our cages. The self-proclaimed desert pop princess’ newest single, “Diamonds In My Chest”, does exactly that.
This dark, throbbing number isn’t exactly wintry. It’s more of a tune that would have been perfect around Halloween with the sounds of creaking doors, Bergcrantz’s bewitching vocals, and a storyline centered around obsession. But who is this person or thing? Is it human or a demon from the underworld? Bergcrantz’s fantasy-like storytelling leaves it to us to interpret who is coming after her. In real life, it’ll be a mass of new fans chasing her in 2018. She’s an artist to watch.
SEAZOO – “Dig” (Wrexham, Wales)
RIYL: Belle and Sebastian, Yo La Tengo, Granddaddy
Not only do SEAZOO have one of the great names in music (come on, it’s better than Aquarium!), but they also create music that matches their name. That is, they create music that is unexpected, clever, and amusing. Earlier in the year, they released “Roy’s World”, which we described as irresistible. They followed that up with the energetic “Shoreline”. For their newest number, “Dig”, one word immediately comes to mind – charming.
This might be an odd adjective for a song, but when you hear the Belle and Sebastian, Yo La Tengo, and Granddaddy influences you’ll understand. Like the music of these great bands, SEAZOO have crafted one delicious earworm of song that you won’t easily get out of your head. The swimmingly delightful melody and two-part harmonies will have you moving your head from side-to-side. But just as the song is about to descend in the depths of over-cheeriness, the guitar gets a little gnarly and gritty a la J. Mascis. The timing is perfect, waking us up from the tantalizing hypnosis of this tune. If it was only summer in the Northern Hemisphere because this song is perfect for a long road trip.
SEAZOO are Ben Trow, Llinos Griffiths, Mike Smith, Steffan Owens and Dan West. Their debut album is expected January 26th, which hopefully will be irresistibly charming.
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