The Matinee ’18 January 25th edition features mostly artists from abroad with a strong focus on the burgeoning indie scenes in Australia and New Zealand. There are also tunes from bands in Europe, but we start things off with one of the great innovators of the past decade and an indie giant. The list is in reverse alphabetical order.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “American Guilt” (Portland, USA & Auckland, New Zealand)
RIYL: Jimi Hendrix, St. Vincent, HEALTH
After playing a few shows around the New Year, it was only a matter of time before Unknown Mortal Orchestra released a new song. And it has finally arrived. In true UMO ingenuity, “American Guilt” feels like it was created in a time machine, where they’ve gone back in time to bring us into the future. The gritty and reverb-filled guitars channel Purple Haze-era Jimi Hendrix yet a St. Vincent-esque style reverberates across each searing riff. Front man Ruban Nielson’s vocals take on a different frequency than what we’ve come accustomed to, where it seems he’s speaking into a radio receiver or walkie talkie to tell us about our impending doom. It’s a fantastic, forward-looking number from one of music’s great innovators. Now if they only could really travel into the future and tell us what the future holds for us.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra are Ruban Nielson, Jacob Portrait, and Quincy McCrary. The trio only released the song via Jagjaguwar, but no new album details have been shared just yet (key word is “yet”). They did announce a massive tour, that begins in Wanaka, New Zealand in February. Their worldwide tour starts in April, and they’ll be accompanied by Makeness. Tour dates and information are available on their website (see below).
Team Picture – “(I Have a) Little Secret” (Leeds, England)
RIYL: if the Talking Heads met DIIV, Ulrika Spacek, Wild Nothing
It has been over a year since Leeds-based indie-rock outfit Team Picture released a new song, although that’s understandable since the band members are still in school. They’ve used the year off, though, wisely, as they’ve learned a few new tricks in order to expand their craft. Whereas as they blew us away with their shoegaze-y post-punk on “Potpourri Headache”, the opposite reaction is elicited on “(I Have a) Little Secret”.
A soothing calmness percolates on this new wave-and-shoegaze dazzler that sounds the possible by-product of David Byrne collaborating with DIIV or Wild Nothing for a song. The buzzing synths perfectly complement the crystalline guitars, and they create the an atmosphere where daydreams come to life. The dual harmonies, particularly the soft background vocals, further heighten the song’s dreaminess, although the lyrics suggest something more real than fiction. Something more sinister and emotional than hopeful and happy. Seems like the young lads worked on more than just perfecting their musical craft but also their songwriting.
Loma – “Joy” (Dripping Springs, TX and New York City, USA)
RIYL: Shearwater, Cross Records, Dana Falconberry
It’s may be premature to say this but Loma – the new group that consists of Shearwater front man Jonathan Meiburg and Cross Record, who are the wife-and-husband duo of Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski – could very well have the year’s most gorgeous and cinematic record of the year when their self-titled debut drops February 16 via Sub Pop. The two songs they’ve shared to date – “Black Willow” and “Relay Runner” – have been dazzling efforts, but their third song might be the best so far.
“Joy” comes from another era when Vikings ruled with North Sea and traversed across the Atlantic. When knights and wizards and roundtables were legends in both story and reality. This mystical magic radiates across this stirring and gorgeous single that will make you believe that fantasies can come true. For instance, who would have believed in this day of overdubs and over-produced electronica that a band that channels the past and uses mandolins and clarinets would arrive and seduce us with their grace, beauty, and the sublime vocals of Emily Cross? Needlessly to say, we cannot wait for Loma to arrive.
The Leers – “I Can’t Cope” (Auckland via Mt. Maunganui, New Zealand)
RIYL: Foals, The Phoenix Foundation, Two Cartoons
Formed earlier this decade but only starting to gain a foothold on the international indie scene are The Leers, who are four friends from the beach town of Mt. Maunganui (it’s a cool place to visit during the New Zealand summer). The four have moved to Auckland to expand their exposure while also to share their creativity with the masses, such as the tantalizing single, “I Can’t Cope”.
The song is the band’s first release for North American audiences, but it was actually written in October 2014. But as you hear the funky rhythms, the groovy melodies, and the dashes of roots, pop, and R&B, the words “refreshing” and “timeless” immediately enter your mind. The song is nearly 3.5 years old, but it sounds like it was written yesterday. Just goes to show that these Kiwis are indeed ahead of their time.
The Leers’ new EP, Time It Takes, is out now. The band is comprised of Matt Bidois, Jack Furniss, Jacob Buchan, and James Kippenberger.
Isla June – “Runway” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Doe Paoro, Nicole Atkins, Tennis meets The War On Drugs
Classic is one to describe “Runway”, the new single from Isla June, which is the alter-ego of Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Jenna Maranga. Whereas many artists attempt to replicate the models laid out by BANKS, Lana Del Rey, and SIA, Maranga is following the footsteps of contemporary artists who are putting a new-age spin to the music our parents and grandparents listened to when they were our age. With the cinematic soft-rock approach of The War On Drugs and the infectious pop quality of Tennis, “Runway” is a superbly orchestrated number. The rousing melodies brilliantly complements Maranga’s powerful vocals and her tale of perseverance and survival. And as the song reaches its soaring and breathtaking climax, another adjective may fall on your lips – amazing.
Creams – “Let’s Go On With The Game” (Leipzig, Germany)
RIYL: Ride, The Foreign Resort, A Place To Bury Strangers
Fans of shoegaze-infused post-punk set your sights to Leipzig and discover what Germans are quickly discovering – that they may have the next Ride or The Foreign Resort in their backyard with Creams. It doesn’t take long to understand why buzz is quickly building for the trio, particularly when they release a song as memorable as “Let’s Go On With The Game”. The shoegaze-y guitars are stellar, the rhythms riveting, and the otherworldly vocals are sublime. Together, they form a number that sounds like a journey into the most distant galaxies or, if you prefer, into the depths of our mind. Regardless of the trip you prefer, you’ll be left spellbound by this terrific little number.
Creams’ new album, Olympia II, is out February 2nd via Hidden Structures and Sportklub Rotter Damm. They’ll be heading out on a mini-tour of Central Europe. Check their website for dates and information.
Camp Cope – “How to Socialise & Make Friends” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Waxahatchee, Speedy Ortiz, Slothrust
Around New Year’s while Camp Cope were performing at a few summer festivals around Australia – including the popular Falls Festival – they distributed to fellow musicians and festival workers T-shirts that had a powerful message:
“The person wearing this shirt stands against sexual assault and demands a change.”
You can see a photo of the shirt here. This social activism is omnipresent in everything that Georgia Maq (vocals/guitar), Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich (bass), and Sarah Thompson (drums) do, including their new single, “How to Socialise & Make Friends”.
Gritty yet enrapturing like Speedy Ortiz’s and Slothrust’s music but with the poignant lyricism of Waxahatchee, the Melbourne-based trio share a song that is a fuck you to all the manipulators in the world. It is also an anthem of resilience and perseverance, a song made for everyone who constantly faces significant odds just to make it through the day. The track is also further proof why Camp Code is one of the most important bands on the planet, and why their sophomore album, How To Socialise & Make Friends (out March 2nd via Run For Cover and Poison City Records), could be among the year’s biggest statements.
Bad Mannequins – “Double Denim” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: Francobollo, Bad Pop, EAT FAST
It’s about bloody time Bad Mannequins showed up. The garage-rock / punk duo of Ross Hamilton and Jamie McGrory have been helping Glaswegians and others, like us, lose our minds with their frenetic and energetic style. At the same time, they know how to make us laugh with their whimsical and witty lyrics. Both are on full display with their new single, “Double Denim”, which is exactly how it sounds.
The twosome’s trademark infectious energy is noticed immediately, as the guitar and drums are played at a feverish pace. There is only one response to the approach – dance like there won’t be know tomorrow. Be sure, however, to wear your favorite pair of jeans because this song is about everyone’s favorite cotton trousers and the adventures we have in them. Plus, besides leather jackets, what other piece of wardrobe defines rock ‘n roll? Blue jeans, of course. Time to go find our trusty old pair and rock out in them.
Amaya Laucirica – “All Of Our Time” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Beach House, Cocteau Twins, Azure Ray
We often express amazement and puzzlement about how some immensely gifted artists and bands fly under the radar. Many of them are veterans of their local music scene, yet they inexplicably are unable to establish themselves beyond the city limits. For Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Amaya Laucirica, it’s been twelve years of playing in and around the provincial capital of Victoria. Her luck, hopefully, is about to change when her new album, Rituals, drops on March 2nd. And from it is a song that is absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking.
“All Of Our Time” is like the crown jewel that catches everyone’s gaze and no one can look away. In this case, however, we do close our eyes in order to breathe in and experience every dreamy note of the crystalline guitar and Laucirica’s stunning vocals. A calmness radiates from the song, leaving you enchanted and again wondering how it is possible for someone who creates such gorgeous music still be a hidden gem. But maybe not for long.
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