The Matinee ’18 February 1st edition kicks off the second month of the year with nine incredible songs. Some will take you back in time and relive the music of the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. Others will take you to the future with their innovative approaches, blurring genres together to form music that can only be described as spectacularly experimental.
A Place To Bury Strangers – “Never Coming Back” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: My Bloody Valentine, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Cocteau Twins
And so it continues. The shoegaze revival was in full force a year ago with the celebrated returns of Slowdive and Ride, and 2018 promises to be another year where the “genre-that-just-won’t-die” becomes permanently ingrained in the music fans’ psyches. Leading off the charge in the new year are giants, A Place To Bury Strangers, who return with a grueling anthem in “Never Coming Back”.
This tune, however, is not exactly your typical shoegaze number. Elements of psychedelic rock, post-punk, and krautrock percolate throughout, giving the song a fierce, gritty vibe that sounds like it was born in the gallows of New York’s underground. It is like the fire that burns in the darkness, where all eyes are fixated on the soaring flames and mesmerized by its scorching beauty. This song is going to rock live (especially as an opener), and we cannot wait to witness it.
A Place To Bury Strangers’ new album, Pinned, is out April 13th on Dead Oceans. Streaming and purchasing options are available here, including on Bandcamp. The band is comprised of Oliver Ackermann (guitars/vocals), Dion Lunadon (bass/vocals), and Lia Braswell (drums/vocals).
Alex Rand – “My Mettle Changes” (Montréal, Canada)
RIYL: current-day Bon Iver, Atoms for Peace, Bonobo
Montreal’s Look Vibrant is one of Canada’s best-kept secrets, not just to the music world but Canadians, too. They don’t have a particular style nor could be categorized under a single genre. The best way to describe the band is that they sound like a cacophony of artists. Although the band is readying their new album, one of its members is branching out as a solo artist but maintaining the experimental spirit.
Last week, Alex Rand released his new single, “My Mettle Changes”, which is like an art installation set to music. Multiple elements, textures, and sounds buzz from start to finish and, thus, give the track an immense array of color. You don’t need to see the reds, blues, greens, yellows, and violets flash before you – all you need to do is feel them. While some artists struggle to cohesively merge different and numerous components, Rand seems to excel at turning complexity into artistry. A magnificent work of art indeed.
The single is out on Jurassic Pop Records. Rand’s band Look Vibrant will release their new album, The Up Here Place, on March 23rd.
Computer Magic – “Ordinary Life (Message From An A.I. Girlfriend)” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Japanese Breakfast, Ela Minus, Devojka
It was only a week ago that we shared Danielle “Danz” Johnson’s – a.k.a. Computer Magic – single, “Delirium (Don’t Follow The Sheep)”, which introduced us to a darker side. The song, though, was a bit of a decoy as we were enraptured the grittier side she showed. What we should have been focusing on is the lyrics because its storyline is expanded upon on her newest tune, “Ordinary Life (Message From An A.I. Girlfriend)”.
On this occasion, Johnson brightens up the room with a dazzling and groovy alt-electro-pop approach that recalls the early ’80s. It’s a song that will put smiles on people’s faces with its radiant melody and have them succumb to the pillowy-soft dreaminess of Johnson’s voice. Despite the feel-good vibes of the song, Johnson’s words hint at something darker. Specifically, she uses the image of a cyborg or artificial intelligence to describe her imprisonment, where people and society want her to be like all the rest. However, she’s not a machine, and she will, therefore, dictate her life on her terms. In the process, she will open our eyes to our cell and have us experience the enlightenment with her.
Johnson’s new album, DANZ, is out February 23rd via her own Channel 9 Records. Pre-orders are available on her website (see below).
Ecstatic Union – “Desert Queen” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Ron Gallo, Temples, Mikal Cronin
Start warming up your arms and loosen up your neck muscles because LA-based Ecstatic Union are going to make you do windmills as you play your air guitar and incessantly noodling your head with their new single, “Desert Queen”. The project started by Rex Costello, Ecstatic Union deliver one awesome, awesome tune (yes I meant to use the adjective twice). It is the brilliant fusion of old-school rock ‘n roll with a touch of neo-psychedelia, which gives the track a little titillation.
The music isn’t the only reason to listen to “Desert Queen”, as the songwriting – or storytelling – is fantastic. Taking a page out of long-time Ty Segall collaborator Mikal Cronin’s songbook, Costello reveals how he became entranced by a bewitching being. Yet, who is to blame for his fate and who is the one desiring whom? Decide for yourself how the plot develops while bogeying and flailing your arms in air to this tremendous tune. If you want to yell “Fuck yeah!”, we’ll be right alongside you.
Rex Costello (guitar/vocals) is joined by Oliver Hart (guitar/vocals), Solange Kupersmid (bass/vocals), and Bradley Cluff (organ/synth/vocals). Their new EP, Neurons, is expected later this year.
Flourishes – “Worse Than This” (London, England)
RIYL: Veruca Salt, Speedy Ortiz, Babes in Toyland
Last year saw shoegaze experience a massive revival. Could 2018 be the year that ’90s grunge and alt-rock make unexpected comebacks? The first month of the year definitely has had its share of gritty, edgy, and angsty rock music, and another band making us hoping and believing the flannel days are returning are Flourishes. From the extremely-crowded London music scene, this four-piece is rekindling memories of the days when Veruca Salt, Hole, Babes in Toyland, and Elastica were radio stalwarts with their new single, “Worse Than This”.
The band’s approach is more melodic than the stuff that came out of the ’90s, but this shimmering quality adds to the song’s infectiousness. Beck Goldsmith’s vocals are simultaneously saccharine and gnarly, where a dash of edge and spice is mixed with the sugary goodness. The final forty seconds of the song is where the guitars and rhythms take over, intensifying slightly to accentuate Goldsmith’s story about how the world has gone to shit but this surely is rock bottom. It has to be. Given the times, it seems appropriate that a band like Flourishes arrives to deliver a song that represents the feelings of the disenfranchised.
Pick up the song on Bandcamp. Flourishes are Jon Dix, Beck Goldsmith, Aaron Doyle, and Chris Seddon.
High Up – “Alabama to the Basement” (Omaha, USA)
RIYL: Seratones, The Suffers, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats
It’s been a little while since Omaha classic rock band High Up released new material or maybe we’ve just been oblivious to what sisters Christine and Orenda Fink (the latter of Azure Ray fame plus her own solo work) and Josh Soto have been doing. Nonetheless, the trio are about to release their Mike Mogis-produced (Bright Eyes, Monsters of Folk, First Aid Kit) new album, You Were Here, on February 23rd via Team Love Records. The new single from it should get fans of classic rock and soul-infused rock ‘n roll in a joyous mood.
“Alabama to the Basement” is, well, an instant classic. From the booming horns to the groovy rhythms, the song feels like it was taken from the canons of the ’60s and ’70s when rock was at its peak. Despite the exhilarating in the song, Christine Fink’s lyrics tell a more personal tale of perseverance and determination. If Neil Young’s “Unknown Legend” was a narration of a strong-willed woman’s life, “Alabama to the Basement” would be the story through her eyes.
Las Rosas – “Lost Cat” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: The Strokes, The Kinks, Pavement
If you have a cat or any pet for that matter, you might want to hold her or him close and not let Brooklyn psychedelic garage rockers Las Rosas anywhere close to them. You might ask why, and the simple answer is to hear their new song, “Lost Cat”. Yes, this raucous and immensely fun tune is about the band losing their friend’s cat during a party. With the sonic propulsion of The Strokes and The Kings and lyrics that would make Stephen Malkmus laugh out loud, the track is an explanation, an apology, and an admission of guilt. While there is likely a lot of truth in the lyrics, you cannot help but be entertained and chuckle. Even pet owners like us had a good laugh. It also helps to create one great rocking tune.
“Lost Cat” is part of a 7″ release that includes “Christa”, and it’s available today. Las Rosas will also release their sophomore LP in May 2018. Greenway Records will release both items. The band is comprised of Jose Boyer, Christopher Lauderdale, and Jose Aybar.
Ruby Friedman Orchestra – “Un4GvN” (feat. Two Beards) (New Orleans & Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: James Bay meets Alanis Morissette meets Lucinda Williams meets Alberta Cross
Just when we think we’ve heard it all, along comes “Un4GvN”, the product of a collaboration involving Ruby Friedman Orchestra and LA-based production duo Two Beards. Trying to explain what this song sounds like would take a Masters-level thesis. It’s one part Americana, as a gritty and hallow vibe filters throughout the four minutes. It’s a touch electro-rock a la Imagine Dragons, that is when the popular band slow things down. A bit of soul and even traces of country western can be heard. Together, this collaboration has produced one of the year’s most surprising songs.
Besides the tremendous arrangements and orchestration, the tandem have written a fabulous story that matches the sonic darkness. Listen closely and you’ll hear the start of a screenplay for the sequel to Clint Eastwood’s Academy Award-winning film, Unforgiven. However, there’s more to this song, as it’s also a politically-charged tune about the erosion of the American Dream and profiteering of a few at the expense of the many. Absolutely brilliant and an eye-opener that we won’t soon forget.
Tiger March – “Either Or” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Cults, Cathedrals, Stars
Want to know where our collective weak spot is? Well, there are multiple genres that get us extremely excited. Great shoegaze is obviously number one, and a fantastic, classic soul tune always seems to hit the spot. Another genre is ’80s-inspired synth-pop that sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack to Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire, or The Breakfast Club. That genre during that time did something that no other classification of music can do – simultaneously make us want to dance yet leave us breathless in the process. And taking us back to 1984 are Tiger March with their new single “Either Or”.
Just sit back, close your eyes, and imagine you’re Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevan, Demi Moore, or Judd Nelson walking down the hallways of a high school or leaving behind college with your future ahead of you. Think about all the people that helped you get to where you are and, more importantly, that one person who captured your heart and made you feel true love for the first time. That’s what this stunning tune represents – our innocence, our hopes, and our dreams. Oh, if we could re-live those days when our lives revolved around one thing – to fall in love. We just may have done that again with Tiger March, whose debut album, Hold Something, will be out later in 2018.
The band is comprised of Annie and Matthew Gleason and Bob Zopp.
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