The Matinee ’18 January 19th includes 9 awesome new tracks to get your weekend kicked off right. We have a nice mix of songs to fill anyone’s specific musical palate. Artists are representing Canada, France, the UK, the US, and Japan. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for our Saturday Sampler and of course our Mega Playlist on Sunday.

The Decemberists – “Severed” (Portland, USA)

RIYL: Talking Heads, David Byrne, Future Islands

After seven albums and six EPs spanning 17 years, The Decemberists throw us a massive curveball. This isn’t to say the Portland band has been predictable and one note their entire career, but they haven’t deviated too far from their orchestral folk-rock beginnings. That is until now with “Severed”, which is like a slap in the face. In other words, it is a wake-up call and an eye-opener.

Forget Jenny Conlee’s accordion or organ. She’s replaced it with a searing synth. Never mind front man Colin Meloy’s booming, choral vocals. He’s dialed down the volume and turned them into a sinister whisper. Guitarist Chris Funk channels his inner Peter Buck while bassist Nate Query and drummer John Moen transform into Peter Hook and Stephen Morris, respectively. These aren’t The Decemberists we grew up with for nearly two decades, but they sure know how to deliver a knockout surprise with his dark, new wave number that would make David Byrne and Bernard Sumner take note.

The Decemberists’ new album, I’ll Be Your Girl, is out March 16th via Capitol Records. Pre-orders are available here. Their North American tour starts a week later, and tickets and dates can be obtained this way. Summer dates have not been added at this moment, but we’re betting they’ll be at Newport Folk Festival.

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Charlotte & Magon – “I Don’t Wanna Go” (Paris, France)

RIYL: Arcade Fire, Foxygen, Broken Social Scene

Almost a year to the day we were awestruck by the psychedelic-pop of Charlotte & Magon, the Paris duo who were going against the city’s grain of folk, electronic, cheesy pop and rock music. They sounded like they were from Australia and not France. But like their fellow Parisians, Charlotte & Magon are adaptable and unpredictable, and their new single displays another side to their talent.

“I Don’t Wanna Go” is an infectious and clever single that echos of mid-career Arcade Fire when the super-indie Canadian band created intelligent songs. Even Charlotte’s vocals have an air of Régine Chassagne while Magon sounds like Win Butler. The song itself could be on The Suburbs, except instead of telling a story about growing up in a secluded neighborhood where dreams go to die the two sing about Magon’s two-year service with the Israeli military. Charlotte is the narrator, and Magon is his own subconscious, uttering how he wishes to not go. Such honesty is something we rarely hear nowadays – not just in music but in life in general.

“I Don’t Wanna Go” is from Charlotte & Magon’s forthcoming album Lyrical Miracle, which is out March 16th.

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DYGL – “Let It Sway” (Tokyo, Japan)

RIYL: Jet, The Strokes, The Fratellis

In all honesty, the Japanese are among the best at resurrecting the past, whether it is in fashion, food, or music. With respect to the latter, most of the bands we’ve come across have focused on reinventing psychedelic rock, but in the case of DYGL (pronounced day glow), they’re making rock ‘n roll cool again.

At the end of last year, they released a double A-side single, and one of the songs was “Let It Sway”, which is a blast right out of the ’60s. It’s catchy, boisterous, and a whole lot of fun. It’s the type of song that makes you imagine the days when diners turned into dance halls with the jukebox blasting the best tunes of the day. Of days when leather jackets, slicked back hair, vintage dresses, and bubble gum were fashionable. Maybe old-fashion rock ‘n roll will re-emerge as a trend, and we’ll have DYGL to thank.

The band is comprised of Nobuki Akiyama (vocals/guitar), Yosuke Shimonaka (guitar), Yotaro Kachi (bass), and Kohei Kamoto (drums).

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Gyasi – “All Messed Up” (Nashville, USA)

RIYL: Dan Auerbach, The Black Keys, HARTS

Some people were just born to be musicians and that’s the case with Nashville-based rocker Gyasi. Whereas most kids get their start in their teenage years playing in bands with their mates, Gyasi was barely finishing kindergarten when he picked up the guitar and began to write music. At the age of 6 years old, he wrote this garage-rock gem, “All Messed Up”.

Even as a child, he knew how to put together an infectious riff that has a bit of The Black Keys and Dan Auerbach. Sure, there are only a couple of chords, but this song is catchy as hell. And we’ll give him a pass on the songwriting because, well, he was 6 years old. And what six year old writes about being messed up over another person? Maybe he was referring to his Tickle-Me Elmo, but then again Gyasi definitely was mature well beyond his age. It will be interesting to watch him develop because Gyasi definitely has the tools to be rock’s next big thing.

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Hollie Cook – “Stay Alive” (London, England)

RIYL: Janet Kay, Bob Marley, Vaz

Hollie Cook may come from a musical family – her father, Paul, is the drummer of the Sex Pistols, and her mother, Jeni, sang backup for Culture Club and Boy George, who just so happens to be her godfather. She is, however, charting out her own path with her blend of reggae, soul, and Afro-funk. Seven months ago, she made us take notice with “Angel Fire”, and now she has our full attention with her new single, “Stay Alive”.

What’s the most striking about the song is Cook’s lush voice, which possess a heavenly quality and makes you feel like you’re floating in air. The combination of Caribbean vibes and soul is fantastic, creating a soundscape perfect for an intimate evening in the heart of summer. This song, though, isn’t about hooking up or longing for someone. Instead, Cook crafts a tale that encourages us to persevere and overcome our struggles, loneliness, and uncertainties. It is a striking but quiet anthem to get us through these long, dark days.

Hollie Cook’s new album, Vessel of Love, is out next week (January 26th) via Merge Records. Pre-order and streaming links available here.

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Mt. Joy – “Jenny Jenkins” (Los Angeles via Philadelphia, USA)

RIYL: The Lone Bellow, The Lumineers, The Head & The Heart

Ever since we heard “Astrovan”, each newly released Mt. Joy track has left us wanting more. Fortunately, the newly based LA outfit deliver the goods with “Jenny Jenkins”.

The track name is an ode to the folk song sung by Jerry Garcia/David Grisman that became popular for children to remember their colors. According to Matt Quinn, the track is about the disappointments of LA:   

“Growing up in the Philadelphia area, I feel like I was exposed to a lot of ‘real’ grounded people. L.A. was kind of a culture shock — a lot of people offering meetings that don’t materialize and just a general culture of false promises.”  It’s also a song of appreciation for his girlfriend who supported him in his move and was his only ally in the city of angels.

Mr. Quinn’s unique and unforgettable vocals linger throughout the track, as the chorus kicks in surrounded by winsome folk rock. The lyrics explain a bit about his disappointment with his new home: “I’m dying on promises dear in the Hollywood sun”. But the quintet’s promise is extraordinary, and they’re a reason why we believe they’re an Artist to Watch in 2018.

Mt. Joy are Matt Quinn, Sam Cooper, Michael Byrne, Sotiris Eliopoulos and Andrew Butler. The band is currently touring with Neko Case. Tour dates and information are available here.

“Jenny Jenkins” is from Mt. Joy’s self titled debut LP, which will be released March 2nd via Dualtone Records.

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Oh Geronimo – “Mountains” (Burlington, ON, Canada)

RIYL: Arkells, Dave Matthews Band, The Barr Brothers

Oh Geronimo, who have recently released the majestic “Mountains”. It’s an uplifting song that includes acoustic guitar and an Americana vibe, but the anthem-filled harmonies that display the expansive sound of Oh Geronimo are what catches your attention. The lyrics are uplifting and insightful, reminding us to continue to overcome obstacles. As the band sings, “You can knock me down, but you won’t see me break”. The five-piece have also released a cool lyric video for the track.

According to the band, “‘Mountains’ is a song about wholeheartedly pursuing your passions, while straddling the fragile line between ambition and humility. Everybody wants to be successful, and sometimes we go to great lengths to achieve the success that we so desperately desire. However, it’s important to remember to keep our egos in check. We must be kind to each other and to ourselves.“Mountains” is about never giving up, whilst withstanding the pressure to compromise who we are in order to be successful.”

Oh Geronimo are Ciarán Downes, Kyle Robertson, Drew Mattiacci, Nicholas Toews and T.J. Bowman.

“Mountains” is from their forthcoming album, The Sled.

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Russian Baths – “Slenderman” (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: Savages, The Kills, Pink Milk

What do you get when you pair a woman who sounds like Frankie Rose with a band that sizzles with the sizzling Goth-punk-rock brilliance of Savages? Obviously, you get Russian Baths, one of the new-ish bands to arrive on the New York music scene. Maybe comparing them to Savages or The Kills is a bold statement, but their new single, “Slenderman”, does all the explaining.

The harrowing percussion and bass line and lightning guitar strikes immediately catch your attention, as they converge to create the brooding soundscape. When Jess Ress’ ghostly vocals arrive on the scene, the entire mood changes. It’s not just a stark number, but a haunting and sinister one. Suddenly, the song turns into an anthem for the Boogieman or in this case some entity called Slenderman. Someone call the folks at Black Mirror and tell them that they there’s a Brooklyn band creating music perfect for their bleak stories.

The song is taken from Russian Baths’ debut EP, Penance, which is out February 23rd via Good Eye Records. Russian Baths are Luke Koz (guitar/vocals), Jess Ress (guitar/keys/vocals), Evan Gill Smith (bass), and Jeff Widner (drums)

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SPINN – “After Dark” (Liverpool, England)

RIYL: Real Estate, Beach Fossils, Cavalry

Is there a better way to end the week and welcome the weekend than some delicious jangle pop? In our humble opinions, it’s the perfect genre because it puts a smile on your face while having you wiggle your booty like there’s no tomorrow. Speaking of which, SPINN‘s shimmering new single, “After Dark”, highlights this exact theme. Well, not the booty part but about living in the moment and for today. About not giving up even when darkness sets in. It’s the band’s more mature number to date – not to mention a fantastically arranged piece that has a bit of My Bloody Valentine’s shoegaziness in the dueling guitars – which makes their future extremely exciting.

SPINN’s new EP is expected later this year. The band is comprised of Jonathon Quinn (vocals/rhythm guitar), Andy Power (lead Guitar/synthesizer), Sean McLachlan (bass/backing vocals), and Louis O’Reilly. (drums/backing vocals).

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