Earlier today we shared the World Edition of The Matinee, which you can find here. Now it’s time for The Matinee ’18 February 15th – North American Edition. Six more songs featuring all-time favorites and a couple of new ones. We get started with one of the great indie artists of the past fifteen years.
Eleanor Friedberger – “In Between Stars” (New York, USA)
RIYL: Fiery Furnaces, Σtella, POLIÇA
Through her first three solo albums, Eleanor Friedberger stretched herself artistically and emotionally. No two albums were the same, and she seems to continue the trend when Rebound settles in stores on out May 4th via Frenchkiss Records. So what will the former Fiery Furnaces front woman have in store for us? Well, she went to Greece and stayed there for several weeks, where she hung out with one of our all-time favorites – Greek disco-pop queen Σtella. As she explains:
“After a month in Athens, I asked my friend, the Greek musician Σtella, ‘What’s one thing I have to do before I leave?’ After some long and careful consideration, she smiled and said, ‘You have to go to Rebound. It’s a time warp; kind of an ’80s goth disco where everyone does the chicken dance; you’ll love it… but it’s only open on Saturdays after 3:00 AM.’ Rebound proved to be a revelation in terms of finding the sound and energy for my fourth album.
The night club’s influence – as well as Σtella’s – is heard on album’s lead single, “In Between Stars”. This is disco-pop at its more sublime and stunning. It’s unexpectedly sultry and intimate yet at the same time groovy and uplifting. The song is like the disco ball that hangs over the dance floor and floods the space with glistening beams of light and colors, and all you can do is embrace the moment and let go. That’s the effect Friedberger has crafted with this wonderful number.
Guards – “DESTROYER” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: MGMT, Destroyer (as in Dan Bejar), Foxygen
Thousands of people have already shouted the mantra, “In Guards we trust!”, to proclaim their fandom for the Brooklyn-based band. So we’re a little late to the party (almost 8 years late), but better late than never as we like to say. Despite our tardiness, we’re enlisting in their pop-rock institution so we, too, can bellow the aforementioned four words. Plus, we want to be able to dance and express our joy to songs like “DESTROYER”.
Like Dan Bejar (a.k.a. Destroyer and from The New Pornographers) fronting MGMT, the trio of Richie James Follin, Loren Humphrey, and Kaylie Church have delivered one raucous and infectious tune. It’s big, bold, and absolutely delicious, where the song will leave a memorable aftertaste on your senses. Even the lyrics will hook you, as the band seem to channel their inner Bejar to describe some oversized baddie reeking havoc on the world. If they are indeed calling on the famous Canadian singer-songwriter, then the tune likely is a cleverly-disguised political number, where the “DESTROYER” is… well, you know. If that’s the case, we have another reason to love this band.
Kira May – “Muscle Memory” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: DIANA, Jess Cornelius of Teeth and Tongue, Kalmia Travers
Electro-pop is becoming an overcrowded field, so how does one really stand out from the pack? Toronto-based artist, Kira May, provides an answer with her sublime “Muscle Memory”. Then again, calling this number “electro-pop” would be doing a service to May, who is unlike most artists today. A more accurate description is art-pop because this tune should be performed, listened to, and on display at the Royal Ontario Museum, the Guggenheim in NYC, or any of the great modern-art galleries of the world. This song is that impressive and dazzling on the ears and the eyes.
The oft-kilter arrangements combined with May’s looping vocals create an intoxicating soundscape. Her lyrics at first sound like the night after an intimate encounter, but, like the music itself, her lyrics are much more complicated. The ranging melody, which swirls from lush to subtly chaotic to serene, mirrors the vast themes depicted in the song. High sensitivity, pleasure, over-stimulation, panic and depression as well as documenting her mental health experiences are all explored. Like we said, Kira May is no ordinary singer-songwriter or producer. She is truly an artist and one to watch for this year.
May’s new album, Sense, is due out some time in 2018.
Lucy Dacus – “Next of Kin” (Richmond, VA, USA)
RIYL: Angel Olsen, Alex Lahey, TORRES
In just over two weeks, Lucy Dacus’ sophomore album, Historian, will be shared with the world. The exact date is March 2nd, and the fine folks at Matador Records will release it. To further whet our appetites, Dacus quietly dropped “Next of Kin”, which just might be her finest work to date (and that’s saying something).
Through the raw, indie-rock approach that has characterized the US’s east coast scene, Dacus shares an introspective, philosophical story. Her lyrics are fantastic, as she describes her life through the eyes of her spirit. The song, however, doesn’t deal with death, far from it. Rather, as she told Rolling Stone, “Next of Kin” is a reminder to take care of herself and that she “won’t know everything”. It is an admittance that it is o.k. to be vulnerable and living in the moment is not a sin. Many of us could learn a thing or two from the 22-year old Virginian, and more lessons await us in 15 days.
Some people will get a chance to experience the lessons in person, as Dacus’ North American and European tour kicks off in Brooklyn on March 2nd. Additional dates and information can be found here.
Peach Kelli Pop – “Crooked & Crazy” (Los Angeles, USA via Ottawa, Canada)
RIYL: Guantanamo Baywatch, Aquadolls, King Tuff
Anyone who has followed the career of Peach Kelli Pop, which is the project of Ottawa-born Allie Hanlon, will know that the band started off as a punk-pop band (think The Ramones playing sugary pop tunes) before experimenting with Japanese cartoon-pop as heard on their last album, the fun and really quirky III. Well, the four-piece seem to have returned to their roots with “Crooked & Crazy”.
Coming in at just 74 seconds – yes, less than the amount of time it takes to heat up a cup of water in the microwave – this song is vintage punk-pop. That is, of course, in Peach Kelli Pop style. Despite the song’s brevity, it packs a wallop in the fun and infectious department. Hanlon’s words, though, are quite the opposite, as she tackles self-doubt, depression, and loneliness. But like when she was growing up in Canada’s capital, where she wrote the song during the holidays, she finds solace in music.
Peach Kelli Pop’s new EP, Which Witch, is out April 21st (Record Store Day) via Mint Records. We’ve set the over/under on the record’s length at 12 minutes.
Preoccupations – “Antidote” (Calgary, Canada)
RIYL: Joy Division, Suuns, FEHM
Matt Flegel (vocals/bass), Scott Munro (guitar/synth), Daniel Christiansen (guitar), and Mike Wallace (drums) as Preoccupations are easily one of the best groups around today. In our humble opinions, they’ve assumed the mantle as Canada’s best band from Arcade Fire because you know everything they’ll release will awe and even shock. Their latest single, “Antidote”, is no different.
While “Antidote” doesn’t possess the crushing embrace of “Continental Shelf” or the bleak exultation of “Espionage”, it is the most hypnotic song they’ve released to date. It is like a hallucinogenic set to Wallace’s throbbing rhythms (who is one of the most underrated drummers around) and the harrowing sonic wall created by Munro and Christiansen. Flegel’s loopy and mechanical vocals mirror his lyrics about the information overload that governs our world. Yet despite having all this knowledge available and literally at our fingertips, we still make the wrong choices because not all information is true. Plus, humanity is fallible despite us thinking we’re the smartest species on the planet.
Preoccupations third LP, New Material, arrives March 23 via Jagjaguwar and Flemish Eye with streaming and pre-order links here and on Bandcamp. Their tour begins April 14th in Toronto and continues across North America and then Europe for the remainder of the spring and into early summer. Dates and information are available here.
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