The Matinee ’18 April 10th features ten songs from nine artists / bands (one of them gets a double feature). There are some warm, intimate numbers; fierce rockers; a femme fatale; and one of the most innovative songs of the year.
Chris Crofton – “UFO Hunters” feat. Jim James (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Cass McCombs, Kevin Morby, Fred Thomas
For more than a quarter of a century, Chris Crofton has performed at stand-up mic nights in comedy clubs in New York City and abroad. In addition, he released a humorous EP a few years ago called The Alcohol Stuntman, which is a lot more autobiographical than it seems – at least it does today. Late last week, he released “UFO Hunters” from his forthcoming debut album, Hello It’s Me, and the song showcases a sombre and more earnest artist than the one who described finding comfort in the bottle to overcome the dangers of one’s occupation.
Alcohol is the important word above. During his last relationship, Crofton gave up drinking and found sobriety. Even when the relationship came to an abrupt and devastating end, he avoided the enticement of liquor, beer, and wine and instead found solace in his music. The result is a ten-song record that is produced by Kevin Ratterman (Wax Fang, Jim James, Frederick the Younger) and comes out June 22nd on Arrowhawk Records (available for pre-order on Bandcamp). If the rest of the LP sounds like “UFO Hunters”, then we’re in for a huge treat.
Akin to the intimate folk rock of Cass McCombs and Kevin Morby with touches of Jackson Browne and John Denver, “UFO Hunters” is a warm and embracing number meant to be heard around the campfire. With the assistance of My Morning Jacket’s Jim James on guitar, Crofton brilliantly bridges introspection with existential contemplation. As he ponders what happened to the relationship, he thinks about those people who spend their lives looking for E.T. Their objects of affection may be different, but they hold one thing in common – a belief that “we’re not alone” no matter what the circumstances.
ALCABEAN – “Biker Song” and “Head Down” (Copenhagen, Denmark)
RIYL: INHEAVEN, Iceage, Japandroids
A few weeks ago, Danish post-punk outfit ALCABEAN released their excellent new EP, Head Down. We unfortunately didn’t get around to reviewing it (too many records and too little time), although we did share two of its tracks – “Running” and “Still Remember”. In recognition how great this band is and the awesomeness of the record, we’ve opted to share two more tunes from it.
“Biker Song” is a fast and furious number that had many fans, including us, gravitate to the band. It is four minutes of unrelenting fury, as front man Victor Schack describes one person confronting her father and explaining how she doesn’t need him anymore. How she is fearlessly independent and successful. In many ways, her story is like ALCABEAN’s own tale, one of the underdog proving all the naysayers wrong. Meanwhile, the band wade into the melodic, heavy-rock genre with “Head Down”. An endearing song about hope and love, the quartet don’t get all lovey gushy. Chiming guitars and pounding rhythms create the urgency, desperation, and eventually anguish of an impatient man waiting for the one to return home. Waiting to move with his life.
ALCABEAN are Victor Schack, Julius Schack, Joachim Holmgaard, and Lucas Olierook. Get to know this band who have the potential to follow Iceage’s footsteps and become Denmark’s next great band.
Charlie Lane – “Crazy Happy” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Bec Sandridge, Jack River, Bloodboy
We just might have found our new Aussie infatuation and their name is Charlie Lane. Yes, their name, as Charlie Lane is comprised of Charlotte Saville (vocals), Trysten Ewing (drums), Lindsay Chapman (guitar), Beppe Abiuso (bass), and Ellie lamb (trumpet). Granted, we’re a bit late to the game as the five-piece have been around for nearly five years and have released two EPs, but hey better late than never! Hopefully other people will join us in hoping on their bandwagon after hearing “Crazy Happy”.
This alt-pop tune is shimmering brilliance. It’s catchy, intimate, and clever. The orchestration is terrific, particularly the interplay between the trumpet and the guitar line and how the tight rhythm section is the connective tissue between Saville’s saccharine vocals (particularly the “oohing”) and soaring melody. Saville’s lyrics are also terrific, as she describes how one person’s love-hate feelings for another person. We’ve all be in those relationships where the person makes us “laugh, makes us fucking crazy” and “makes us scream, makes fucking happy.” Sounds like a lot of marriages, but the dichotomies are what make bonding with one person so great.
Check out Charlie Lane’s Bandcamp page to hear their previous releases and discover a gem in Melbourne’s music scene.
Howlin Rain – “Alligator Bride” (Oakland, USA)
RIYL: The Drive-by Truckers, Jason Isbell, My Morning Jacket
Classic, southern rock ‘n roll is a slowly dying breed, which is a sad thing to think about for fans of bands like My Morning Jacket and The Drive-by Truckers. Once upon a time, these bands filled radio waves, sold out arenas, and people young and old idolized them. These bands now earn their living on the road, playing shows to their small but extremely loyal fans – if they even get that popular. Most, though, wallow in relative obscurity because they use guitars, bass, guitars, and powerful voices as their weapons of choice instead of a synthesizer or Macbook Pro. One of these bands is Howlin Rain, who have been around for more than a decade and are about to release their fifth album. From it, they share “Alligator Bride”.
This song is fantastic, making us wonder why we are like the many – unknown about their existence until recently. Like MMJ and DBT, “Alligator Bride” rages with dual power guitar hooks, hammering rhythms, and a storyline that will make you imagine bygone days when the circus coming to town was the biggest event of the year. Of a time when people wrote letters and a long walk with your loved one was the perfect night. This number perfectly reflects who Howlin Rain are – old-school band reminding us that there are still some times in the past worth holding on to, those things that defined our humanity.
Howlin Rain are Ethan Miller (vocals/guitar), Jeff McElroy (bass), Dan Cervantes (guitar), and Justin Smith (drums). Their new album, The Alligator Bride, is out June 8th on Silver Current Records.
Jesse Jo Stark – “Music Fire Of Love” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Emma Ruth Rundle, L.A. Witch, Debbie Harry
There is no limit to Jesse Jo Stark‘s talent. She can create Hope Sandoval-like, spine-tingling soundscapes like she did on “Driftwood” or beautifully brood a la Emma Ruth Rundle on “Deadly Doll”. Now she showcases her femme fatale side with “Music Fire Of Love”.
If Clint Eastwood ever decided to create a film based on a female version of Josey Wales or Quentin Tarantino produced a third volume of The Bride’s story (she from Kill Bill), “Music Fire Of Love” would her anthem. Dark, gritty, and utterly spectacular, the song will delight every single sense on your body. It is bone-chilling, eye-popping, and even tastes like sumptuous thanks to Stark’s smokey vocals and the crushing cascade of throbbing rhythms, sizzling keys, and a trembling, chiming guitar line. Simply awesome.
“Music Fire Of Love” is the lead track from Stark’s forthcoming new EP, which is expected June 1st. A full length album will follow this autumn.
NAVA – “Ritual” (Milan, Italy via Iran)
RIYL: FKA Twigs, Noga Erez, Ramsey
Dare to be different. Dare to create something that challenges how we interpret music and the world around us. These are things we want to hear in songs, and occasionally we receive a song that blows these two “criteria” out of the water. One such song is “Ritual”. What makes this tune even more impressive is that it is the debut single from NAVA, the Iranian-born, Italy-based project of Nava Golchini.
One word describes this number – fearless. With the innovative edge of FKA Twigs, the swagger of Noga Erez, and sharp lyricism of M.I.A., NAVA has crafted a masterpiece. It’ll fill the dance floors of the most exclusive clubs, but it will also make any music fan and the most socially-minded person (closely listen to the lyrics as Golchini takes on misogynistic attitudes) take notice. Take notice of a tour-de-force that is emerging out of the world’s fashion capital.
Supporting Golchini are Francesco Fugazza, Marco Fugazza, and Elia Pastori.
Pan Amsterdam – “The Lotion Song” (New York City, USA and Manchester, England)
RIYL: 44 + Andrew Dice Clay + Barry White
Some songs you play to get dancing. Others, you listen for their gripping stories. Then there are those tunes that get spin because they are off-the-charts entertaining. These are rarities, but when they come around, like “The Lotion Song” from transatlantic duo Pan Amsterdam, you take notice. You stop everything you’re doing and listen to every word and laugh. Then you start jotting down some of your favorite lyrics, which are plentiful.
“I’ll be your dinner and your movie, Love. And I taste better with cilantro.”
“Fake views and no likes and no comments. My friends be boxed, if I told you it would threaten my martyrdom.”
“What do you mean I’m not being sincere? Of course I’m being sincere. I’m as sincere as a Hallmark card with no money in it.”
And that’s just a small dose of this funky little tune that has Leron Thomas, whose voice has a touch of Barack Obama, throw out a bunch of one liners like Andrew Dice Clay-turned-poet laureate while Scott Thatmanmonkz patrols the beats and samples in a very Moby-esque fashion. There might be a line or two that may have people cringing, but it’s important to note that the two aren’t making fun at important movements or trends. Rather, they are offering a criticism of the “me” and technology obsession of today’s world and how it has contributed to much of our social and political decay.
The single is out on cool label Def Pressé, which supports artists making old- and new-school soul, funk, rap, and hip hop.
RNV – “Red Swan” (Tel Aviv, Israel)
RIYL: London Grammar meets Kate Bush
It might be Tuesday, but it’s never too early in the week for a little seduction. Even better if the song has an eerie element to make the soiree feel more like a mysterious game than just a regular chance meeting. Israeli singer-songwriter RNV, whose real name is Roni Vadnai, delivers the goods with “Red Swam”.
Imagine for a moment if Kate Bush performed with the London Symphony Orchestra and London Grammar, and this is what “Red Swam” sounds like. It’s a dark, sinister, and yet beguiling to behold. Vadnai’s voice slowly creeps along to the stirring orchestration (the strings will send chills down your back), telling us how she has fallen in love with a mystical creature. It is sort of like The Princess and The Toad, but there’s no happy ending in this brooding tale. There’s no knight nor prince that emerges, just one’s undying love and affection for the one thing that understands her. Pretty brilliant.
“Red Swan” is from RNV’s upcoming debut EP, Wild Swans, which is expected this spring.
Winter – “Zoey” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Alvvays, Fazerdaze, Boys
In many parts of the northern hemisphere, spring is making a delayed appearance. Leave it to Winter – the project of Samira Winter – to add some warmth and sunshine to these chilly mornings, as her new single “Zoey” will undoubtedly leave you smiling.
With the dreamy indie-pop approach of Alvvays combined with the shimmering guitar-pop of Fazerdaze, “Zoey” is a dazzler. It’s like waking up to a beautiful sunrise that fills your soul with hope and your body with energy. It will, as Winter sings, make you “feel alive”. Her words, too, are encouraging and inviting, as she tells a friend to stay positive and that she will “always be by your side”. It’s a great message and a fantastic song for anyone needing a pick-me-up, so if you are or a friend is down in the dumps, spin this number and let Winter brighten your day.
Winter’s debut album, Ethereality, is out now via her own label Everything Blue Records. Get it now on Bandcamp.
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