The Matinee ’18 February 13th rocks. Literally, the nine songs are predominantly rock tunes – or have basis in rock ‘n roll, indie rock, punk rock, or folk-rock. There is one song, however, that’s beyond categorization. For the most part, this mini-playlist will get the blood flowing, so you can skip that second or third cup of coffee and opt for a more nature way of waking up. We begin with the unexpected new single from one of music’s great artists.
Okkervil River – “Don’t Move Back To LA” (New Hampshire + New York City + Austin, USA )
RIYL: WOODS, Whitney, Kevin Morby
Less than 18 months ago, Will Sheff, the mastermind behind Okkervil River, released the excellent Away, which was a deeply emotional album that reconfirmed the New Hampshire native as one of America’s great singer-songwriters. Prior to and during the recording of that record, Sheff dealt with the loss of his grandfather and the break-up of his longstanding band. But as is often the case when there is loss, there is also discovery. For Sheff, that was finding a new set of band mates in Will Graefe, Cully Symington, Sarah Pedinotti, and Benjamin Lazar Davis (who is a pretty gifted artist himself), and their chemistry and friendship motivated Sheff to continue writing. Yesterday, they shared the first outcome of their collaboration in “Don’t Move Back To LA”.
The single is, for the lack of a better term, pleasant, but in a good way. A positive energy reverberates from the music with the twangy guitars and the shuttling rhythms. Sheff’s vocals feel urgent yet an optimism rings in each word he sings. His lyrics may express the opposite – he’s saddened by his friends moving to LA while yearning to leave the chaos of New York City behind – but the song undoubtedly will leave you either smiling or warm and cozy as if you’ve curled yourself up in your favorite blanket.
Okkervil River’s new album, In The Rainbow Rain, is out April 27th via ATO Records. We cannot wait to hear what Sheff and friends have in store.
BILK – “Give Up” (Essex, England)
RIYL: The Clash, The Strokes, Shame
What’s a week without discovering another great little rock band from England, particularly one who sounds like some combination of The Clash and The Strokes with a touch of Shame? That’s BILK. The trio from Essex are throwbacks, bringing back the blue-collar rock ‘n roll of the ’70s and ’80s as evidenced by their latest number, “Give Up”.
While a lot of young bands will focus on creating a catchy melody with some awesome guitar riffs and bass lines (and BILK do it in spades), the three-piece also deliver memorable lyrics. A bit of Nirvana-like angst fills the tune along with the wordsmith of The Sex Pistols’ John Lydon, who was well-known for taking on the establishment and sharing the struggles of the working class. But instead of unleashing hell on the world, BILK believe the best way to screw the elite is by never giving up and winning at their own game. If Sol Abrahams (vocals/guitar), Luke Hare (bass), and James Holland (drums) continue down this retro path, there’s little doubt in our minds they’ll have the last laugh.
Cosmo Sheldrake – “Wriggle” (London, England)
RIYL: Radical Face, Andrew Bird, Darlingside
We probably should have had Cosmo Sheldrake as one of our artists to watch for 2018. The young London-based artists already has a sizeable following, yet he remains a hidden gem to the vast majority of the world. This will probably change this year because Sheldrake is not your ordinary artist. He’s a composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and innovator. He is unlike any artist around, and he demonstrates his incomparable talents on his whimsical but brilliant new single, “Wriggle”.
The song is a bit of fantasy, a touch of theatre, and a whole lot of cinema. It’s a song that one could imagine hearing on a Guillermo del Toro film or, if he was still alive, a Stanley Kubrick masterpiece. That term – masterpiece – is the only way to describe the single, which – as shared in the press release – features: Japanese koto drums, marching band percussion, a nightingale from Kent, and a host of woodwind instruments, including a contra bassoon. Like the aforementioned of creative geniuses, there is no limitation to what Sheldrake can and will do.
Drang – “Lucky You” (London, England)
RIYL: The Shangri-Las meet The Who, Dream Wife, Let’s Eat Grandma
The description above is not from us, but rather is provided by London-based outfit Drang. Although we profiled them last November when they released frenzied “Still Got Appeal”, we still have little information about them. Their identity will remain in the shadows for now, but eventually we and the rest of world will discover who they are if they continue to create catchy earworms like “Lucky You”.
With its zany, oft-kilter approach and head-shaking, jittery vibe, the single would be perfect on The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack. Imagine Janet Weiss and Brad Majors running through Dr. Frank N. Furter’s mansion while encountering an array of interesting characters. And just like every encounter in the cult classic, “Lucky You” is worthy of your best jazz hands and moves on the dance floor. If Halloween was only around the corner, this would be on our party playlist. If you agree, buy the tune on Bandcamp and save it for 9 months from now.
Hurst – “Rattle Kids” (Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: Paramore, Tired Lion, False Advertising
If someone was to write a thesis dissertation on the Australia music scene, s/he would like note two key observations. First, the artists and bands are unafraid of going outside the box and creating music that is still catchy and accessible but not mainstream. Second, they have a knack for writing compelling lyrics and stories. Courtney Barnett, Alex Lahey, Gang of Youths, Jack River – you name it, Australia’s music community is teeming with awesome songwriters and storytellers. Following suit are Hurst, a relatively new outfit from Sydney who will rock your world with their ’90s-inspired alternative.
Their new single, “Rattle Kids”, in particular, will have you imagining the days when Alanis Morissette, Hole, No Doubt, Garbage, and Elastica topped the radio charts. Power guitar riffs, hammering rhythms, and the soaring vocals of front woman Ana Veira are all trademarks of a bygone era. Yet in very Aussie fashion, Veira crafts a thoughtful and introspective message about the entitlement that younger generations, of which she is a part, display in their words and actions. She, as such, is “rattling” the cages to get her fellow iGen’ers to wake up, grow up, and realize there’s a world to conquer. We don’t have any doubt that Hurst will soon be dominating Triple J’s airwaves.
Hurst are Ana Veira (vocals), Jake Bisognin (guitar), Ben Zamor (bass), and Nick Zammit (drums).
Iceage – “Catch it” (Copenhagen, Denmark)
RIYL: Blaenavon, INHEAVEN, Palm Honey
It’s been nearly four years since Iceage graced us with new music. The wait, though, has been well worth it because their new single, “Catch it”, is unbelievably awesome. This song must be listened to while sitting down because if you’re standing you might do something you’ll regret later.
Sinister and hypnotic in its broodiness, the Danish indie-rock quartet have delivered a seismic tune. As Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s droning vocals fill the air, chills will run down your spine while your eyes will enlarge four- of five-fold. This is the sound of the night, where things can only be heard but not seen and the mystery of the dark overwhelms you. Just as the blackness takes hold, Iceage brighten up the room with fiery guitars and rhythms. Awesome. Simply awesome.
The single is out on Matador Records. Elias Bender Rønnenfelt (vocals/lyrics), Jakob Tvilling Pless (bass), Dan Kjær Nielsen (drums), and Johan Wieth (guitar) will be heading out on the road in the spring. They start with a few stops in Europe and followed by a transcontinental tour of North America. Dates and information are on their website or here. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this means a new album is coming.
La Luz – “Cicada” (Los Angeles & Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Lake Ruth, Tacocat, Dum Dum Girls
La Luz have established a reputation for creating shimmering music that blends surf-rock and doo-wop. The words smooth, infectious, and groovy often characterized their songs. For their third album, though, they take a turn towards the cinematic and the other dimensions that fill the space deep spaces of our psyche. The LP’s first single, the bewitching “Cicada”, offers a hint of what is to come.
The band’s trademark harmonies remain, although they are delivered with a more ghostly and even ghastly effect. A spaghetti western vibe, meanwhile, trickles throughout to give the song its haunting and devastating qualities. As a result, we feel like we’ve fallen through the rabbit hole and into the dark caverns of our minds, where dreams and our deepest desires exist. We highly recommend that you close your eyes when hearing the song because that’s the only way to experience the new La Luz and their spellbinding approach.
La Luz are Shana Cleveland (lead vocals/guitar), Marian Li Pino (drums), Alice Sandahl (keyboard), and Lena Simon (bass).
Penny Mob – “21st Century Kids” (London, England via Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: The Hunna, The Fratellis, DREAMERS
And we come to yet another great little band from England to whom we and the rest of the world must pay close attention. They also happen to be another trio, but unlike BILK above Penny Mob are looking towards the future with their explosive brand of indie pop-rock. Their latest song, “21st Century Kids”, is a banger that would fill London’s O2 Arena and New York City’s Madison Square Garden and get the soldout crowd up off their feet and dancing.
Those who are losing their marbles should also realize that this song is for them, about them. It’s an anthem for the iGen or Gen Z generation and even Millennials and Gen X’ers to get off their phones, set aside their problems, and celebrate humanity once again. To live in the today instead of some cyber world. What better way to do all this than with a cracker of a song.
Penny Mob are Quinn (vocals/guitar), Mullan (drums/vocals), and Taran (bass).
Twin Ritual – “Is It Paranoia” (San Diego, USA)
RIYL: Blondie, early Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Glass Spells
“You used to love my attention. Now you’re so quiet even when you smile”, Twin Ritual front woman Laura sings on Twin Ritual‘s latest tune, “Is It Paranoia”. How this is even possible when hearing her shimmering vocals and her bandmates’ exhilarating disco-punk approach is beyond us. For that matter, the San Diego-based band had us hooked since their first single, “Angry”, was released last autumn. A big reason for this new love affair is that Laura (vocals), Anthony (bass), Nate (guitar), and Lionel (drums) remind us of a young Blondie, who mix the perfect sonic cocktail with their combination of attitude, grit, sultriness, and energy-inducing melodies. So hopefully like us, they permanently have your attention.
The song is the opening track from their debut EP, Hand Through The Mist, which is available on Bandcamp.
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