Plenty of star power is on The Matinee ’18 February 23rd edition, which kicks off with a couple of big time Brooklyn bands and finishes off with a fast-rising singer-songwriter. A few of the artists listed below are also heading to SXSW, so this is as good as a time to start planning who to see.
Parquet Courts – “Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: The Rolling Stones, Foxygen, The Men
Right from their early days, Parquet Courts have always been unpredictable, marching literally to their beat of their own drum. Other than their website, they’ve scoffed social media because, as they put it, they’ve gotten this far without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. They’ve instead allowed their music to do all the promotion, and they once again give us something to talk about with “Almost Had to Star a Fight/In and Out of Patience”.
This is just an old-school, ’60s Brit rocker. The quartet channel their inner Rolling Stones to deliver a groovy and catchy number. The track isn’t all about imitation, as Parquet Courts infuse their trademark oft-kilter, rambunctious arrangements. Then there are Andrew Savage’s storytelling, who once again literally takes us on a trip down the gritty neighborhoods and back alleys of NYC. It’s a song about survival, not just within the context of the Big Apple but the chaos that surrounds us today. It is, as Savage says, “an unshakeable nightmare”.
Parquet Courts’ fifth album, Wide Awake!, will be released May 18th via Rough Trade. This should be a doozy! The band is comprised of Andrew Savage (lead vocals/guitar), Austin Brown (guitar), Sean Yeaton (bass), and Andrew’s brother Max Savage (drums)
Sunflower Bean – “Twentytwo” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Fleetwood Mac, Middle Kids, Pearl Charles
Last month, Julia Cumming celebrated her 22nd birthday, which is hard to believe as she’s been in the spotlight for years, first as a model then as the front woman of Sunflower Bean. But more than that, the maturity in her songwriting is well beyond her years, and the majority of her songs display the intimacy and wisdom of a Joni Mitchell, a Christine McVie, and Stevie Nicks. She is, in other words, one of the finest songwriters of her generation, and her words are the star of Sunflower Bean’s latest single, “Twentytwo”.
As Nick Kivlen (guitars) and Jacob Faber (drums), who are or will soon also be 22, establish the sensual and intimate folk-rock soundscape, which resembles the music of the Laurel Canyon era, Cumming writes a note to herself about the people she has and will meet and the challenges to come. Her message to herself and all of us is focused on persevering through expectations, the difficulties, and the shadows that lurk in the corners and desire to control us. It’s a poignant message set within a sublime atmosphere, offering us hope that better and sweeter days are to come. March 23rd will be one of those days, as that is when Twentytwo in Blue arrives via Mom + Pop Music. Pre-order the album here.
Sunflower Bean are currently on a massive tour, so people can get a sneak peek of the album. Dates and tickets are available here.
I’m Kingfisher – “Luck Underwhelms Me” (Lund, Sweden)
RIYL: Monsters of Folk, Damien Jurado, Neil Young.
Two weeks ago, Hollie introduced us to I’m Kingfisher, the alt-folk project of Swedish singer-songwriter Thomas Jonsson. On his single, “What Good Would Loving Do Me Now?”, she referred to him as a young Scandinavian version of Damien Jurado and Neil Young, and the comparison holds true on “Luck Underwhelms Me”.
There is only one way to describe this song – a brooding, cinematic masterpiece. It’s not just Jonsson’s stirring and deeply emotive playing of the acoustic guitar, which sounds like it is weeping with each pluck. Nor is it his distant and gripping vocals. What stands above all is his storytelling, as he has crafted a tale that Clint Eastwood should turn into an Academy Award-winning film. This is a story of a forgotten son and his journey to discover who he is. What he is. And why his father abandoned him for another family. The ending of this number is fantastic.
John.k – “Best of Me” (Orlando, USA)
RIYL: A R I Z O N A, DNCE, Mike Posner
We shared John.k‘s second single O.T. last fall and since then he has gained quite an impressive fan base with over 20 million spins across all streaming platforms.The synthpop crooner is back with his fourth track titled “Best of Me”.
The newest release has definite 80s influenced synth vibes going on that is definitely upbeat and ready to spin on your upcoming summer jams playlist. John.k’s vocals provide just the right amount of soul influences to top off the already smooth sensations heard throughout the track.
John.k shares a bit about the track: “‘Best of Me’ is about evolving through young love, admitting to past mistakes and committing to giving someone the best possible version of yourself.”
This track is the perfect one for those that have experienced a young love that has come full circle later in life.
No Hot Ashes – “Eight Till Late” (Stockport, England)
RIYL: Cabbage, The Blinders, Falseheads
True story – about two months ago while doing the normal doldrums of recycling and getting the trash bins ready for pick up, the large stamp on the lid “NO HOT ASHES” stood out which seemed like an obvious statement. The next thought was – “what a great band name!”. So here we are sharing our current favorite tune from No Hot Ashes titled “Eight Till Late”.
The track is filled with killer guitar riffs, unique vocals reminiscent of Archy Marshall and extremely catchy melodies. We hear punk and disco influences throughout and we can only imagine that the live set would be pretty outstanding. No Hot Ashes also has another track “Skint Kids Disco” which has a really trippy video and the song captures disco-pop quite perfectly. No Hot Ashes will definitely be on our radar as we remember the cool band with a great name.
No Hot Ashes is comprised of Isaac Taylor (vocals/guitar), Jack Walsh (bass), Luigi Di Vuono (guitar), and Matt Buckley (drums).
RIYL: Twin Shadow, Portugal. The Man, Nick Murphy
We’ve called Noah McBeth several things over the past two years, but regardless of the title the German-born, LA-based artist is a genius. Through his project, NoMBe, he’s experimenting with new approaches and melding multiple genres together. He’s a man that cannot be pigeonholed, and his latest single, “Drama”, which features producer Big Data, is more evidence of his brilliance.
Soul, funk, pop, R&B, and tropical vibes are melded together to form a song that elicits multiple reactions. At one moment, it is soft and breathtaking and then the next moment it grooves like a late-night party that Prince would have hosted at Paisley Park. The only thing missing from this tune is a wild guitar solo, but even the Purple One liked to keep his funk low-key at times. Are we comparing NoMBe to Prince. It’s a bit early to say, but the potential is definitely there.
Noah McBeth’s debut album, They Might’ve Even Loved Me, is out March 23rd via TH3RD BRAIN Records. We’ll know more next month just how high his ceiling is.
Slow Roar – “Honey” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: The Raveonettes, The Kills, Handsome Furs
Slow Roar, which is the project of Sonny Lanegan and Rebecca Rosoff, released their self-titled EP back in December (available on Bandcamp). Yeah, we’re a little tardy to the game, but better late than never right? Well, we’re not the only ones to be slow in getting on the bandwagon, but that changes today. The EP is pretty great, but one song that sticks out is “Honey”.
The song drips with the rock coolness of former duo Handsome Furs and the electricity of The Raveonettes. The shallow guitar riffs and the dark disco-esque rhythms form a gripping soundscape that is perfect for the most secretive clubs and cult societies. Rosoff’s smooth and smokey vocals are intoxicating, as she teases us with her words. “Still, you’re sweeter than honey when you come back“, she sings. Her message is clear – there are only so many occasions one can reach into the cookie jar before he’s caught. We know we just want to be on her and Lanegan’s good side.
VOWWS – “Structure Of Love” (Los Angeles, USA via Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: Gary Numan, SecondStill, Savages
VOWWS have a new single titled “Structure of Love”. It’s a bit trippy with a western meets sci-fi vibe. The duo actually describe it best: “It sort of ended up sounding like a jazzy, sci fi western video game,” the duo explains of the single, “Or like the theme of an ambitious low budget movie called The Return Of Space Cowboy 3.” We totally could have imagined it on the soundtrack for Mars Attacks!
The underlying beats are quite brooding with an added industrial flair. The dual vocals between Matt and Rizz are perfect as the track describes the weirdness of love. The lyrics proclaim “take a look at me now, as I disappear – is this the structure of love? and “I can’t get you out of my mind, your love is so hard to define”.
VOWWS’ new album, Under The World, will be released March 2nd and they will be attending SXSW next month.
Zoey Lily – “More” (London, England)
RIYL: Lorde, Nilüfer Yanya, Neneh Cherry
We’ve observed from afar with great interest the growth of Zoey Lily, who left a lasting impression when she released a demo of “Edges” as a 17-year old. Now 20, the London-based artist continues to expand on her artistry, moving away from the captivating alt-folk leanings of her beginning to left-field alt-pop. Although the music has changed, she continues to enthrall with her thoughtful songwriting, as evidenced on “More”.
Old-school music fans may hear a young Neneh Cherry, who back in the late-’80s and ’90s similarly astonished the world with her unique and oft-kilter approach to pop. Younger fans may hear elements of Lorde and fellow UK singer Nilüfer Yanya, both of whom allow their lyrics to be the driving force of their music. While the dark yet groovy approach will cause a few heads to nod, her words are what will stay with you. She describes how the coolest kid in her class is struggling with his own demons, where his image is just a facade to his true self. Although Lily reaches out to help, he rejects her advances and internalizes his demons. It’s a smart tune and a reminder to never assume anything.
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