The Matinee ’18 May 17th features nine artists whom we’ve been quite bullish about in terms of their potential. All of them are long-time favorites. Similar to yesterday’s Melodic Tonic, this mini-playlist is dominated by women. As we like to say, women are music’s future now.
Annabel Allum – “em(ily)” (Guildford, England)
RIYL: Nadine Shah, Eliza Shaddad, Miya Folick
Nearly two years ago when we were first introduced to Annabel Allum, we stated that she’s an artist “whose potential has no ceiling”. With each song she’s released since then, she gets a bit bolder and her talent blossoms into new directions. From edgy, political numbers a la PJ Harvey to intricate Sharon Van Etten-like ballads to grunge-filled rockers like Alanis Morissette, Allum is gradually emerging as the UK’s future queen of indie rock. The twenty-something year-old singer-songwriter adds to her growing legacy with “em(ily)”.
Leave it to the Guiliford native to write a sincere dedication to a friend through a grungy, gritty rock filter. The brooding guitar quietly rages in the background while Allum’s vocals take on a droning almost deadpan tone. Her voice isn’t being upset at her friend, but it represents Allum state-of-mind and emotional well-being when she often reaches out to Em. How Em is the one whom she leans on during difficult times. As she states:
“Tell me to keep my mind still.
Ask me if I’m ok.
Please me, just get me through the day.”
Exactly who would write such an edgy yet emotional number to their bestie? Not too many. Allum is indeed the future queen of UK indie rock. Or maybe just all of indie rock.
The single is out on Killing Moon, who will release Allum’s next EP, Sorry I’m Not Perceptible, at the end of the month. Allum is supporting Stella Donnelly on her UK tour, and she will also be at Great Escape. Tour dates and information are here.
Connie Constance – “Yesterday” (London, England)
RIYL: Tash Sultana, Nick Cave, Nilufer Yanya
Another of the great, young innovators in the UK scene is Connie Constance. In the three years we’ve watched her develop, she’s moved from writing lush, intimate ballads (such as on “Euphoric”) to funk-influenced R&B (e.g., “1st World Tragedy”). While her musical approaches vary, one thing has always remained the same – her gift for writing powerful, emotionally charged lyrics. She’s like a poet or a playwright, who finds all the correct words to stir our souls or challenge our perceptions of the world. Constance, though, takes her art to another level with her latest single, “Yesterday”.
Bolder and darker than anything she’s written previously, Constance delivers a spine-tingling, rapturous number that could be the anthem to all the night owls of the world. The song features parts of film-noir, tantalizing R&B, and even some Gothic-punk a la The Cure (notice the awesome taut bass line and the echo chime of the guitar line). Her songwriting, though, approaches Nick Cave levels, as she describes how “we love like animals” and all rules are thrown by the way side when we become obsessed. Not only do we became untamed in such moments, but Constance herself has unleashed a side to her we had yet to see. “Yesterday” is just another example of the young Brit’s vast potential.
The single is out on Universal Music. Constance will be performing at a handful of festivals in the coming weeks, including Great Escape and headlining a gig on July 17th at London’s Omeara. Tickets for the latter are available here.
Esther Joy – “Day 5 (What He Found)” (Oxford, England)
RIYL: Alice Glass, HEALTH, Grimes
Over the past two months, Esther Joy has slowly released different days of her intergalactic space odyssey, The Acid Caves, vol. 1. As a refresher, her sophomore EP is a concept record about a futuristic world where extraterrestrial life forms and humans coexist, but their relationships with their nature / external worlds great differ. Humans have become more robotic and synthetic unlike their neighbors in distant galaxies. Joy’s story follows one particular character, Silipur.
The EP’s opening track, “Day 1 (Silipur Leaves Home)”, is an immersive, hallucinating piece of trash electronica. Song number day fast-forwards the journey to “Day 4 (Landing)”, which follows Silipur’s trippy journey through space and his descent onto Earth. Now comes “Day 5 (What He Found)”, which is another fiercely raw and tantalizing experience. It also reflects Joy’s own musical experience, combining her lush and stunning vocals that featured prominently in her earlier work to the edgy and heavy electronica / techno she has mastered.
The track starts off quietly, reflecting Silipur’s careful examination of this new environment. He is seeking emotional and natural connection, but humanity has lost its symbiotic relationship not just to nature but to one another. They are more machine than humans, and at this point the song turns into a harsh banger. Earth is a world full of machines, and Joy brilliantly depicts the artificial landscape in her music as well Silipur’s disappointment. In the end, Joy narrates Silipur’s inevitable fate, “You’ll be left to die right here”. Earth has taken another life.
Linying – “Tall Order” (Singapore)
RIYL: Wet, London Grammar, Alicia Keys
Wendy was the first to introduce us to the talented Linying, the young pianist and synth-pop musician whose style ranges from BANKS to Alicia Keys. Like the aforementioned, the Singapore-based artist blends musical talent with fabulous songwriting. If you’re a little late in getting to know Linying, then her latest song is the perfect introduction to her music, and it also explains why we’re immensely bullish on her potential.
“Tall Order” is a stunning, R&B-infused ballad – or as she calls is “sad pop”. Linying’s orchestration is fantastic, beautifully merging the somber tones of the piano with groovy rhythms and the emotional aches of the synth. Her soft and delicate voice and penetrating lyrics, though, give the sense of the opposite. Instead of being consumed by the pain that resides in her heart, she’s taken ownership of it and turned heartbreak into an experience that made her stronger. That made her, as she wrote on Facebook, blossom instead of wither and wilt. Through the sadness, she has found hope. She has found that she is even stronger than she even could have imagined, which is a message we all can take to heart.
Pip Blom – “Pussycat” (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
RIYL: Zuzu, Caroline Rose, Courtney Barnett
When Pip Blom first started her career as a teenage, she was somewhat of a prodigy. Instead of playing in a band, the young Dutch played all the instruments and wrote all her own songs. “Taxi Driver” was the first time we heard her, and since then we’ve been hooked to her Courtney Barnett-esque, satirical style. It’s been more than a year, however, since we’ve heard from Blom, and a few things have changed since then. For starters, she has a full band supporting. Second, she’s signed with a couple of labels. And third, she’s going on a lengthy European tour (including performing at Great Escape), which just shows how far she has come in such a short time. To celebrate all three occasions, she unveiled “Pussycat” a few days ago, and it only further cements our fandom.
“Pussycat” is reminiscent of the great grunge and angst rock that streamed across college radio stations in the ’90s. The grimy, reverb-filled guitars, the slow bubbling rhythms, and Blom’s combative spirit would make Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, and Lee Ranaldo nod in approval and probably pound their fists in the air as the track intensifies. Her biting lyrics, meanwhile, take on all the doubters and abuser. If her words weren’t enough to have you shaking in your boots, then her scathing vocals will. To think, she’s only 21-years old. What will she be writing about ten years from now? Twenty? Could she be the next Patti Smith? We’ll find out soon enough, but we’re not going to put a lid on her ceiling.
Sam Evian – “You, Forever” and “Country” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: My Morning Jacket, Cass McCombs, Andy Shauf
We often ponder “what if” scenarios, like what if an artist was born in the ’80s and how popular would s/he be? The conclusion often is that the artist would be a legend, and today’s musicians would be endlessly covering their music. This is how we feel about Sam Evian, who is one of the most gifted yet underappreciated singer-songwriters of this decade. To showcase his talents, he offers not one but two new songs.
“You, Forever”, which is a gorgeous rocker in a My Morning Jacket / Jim James mould. The track commences solemnly with Evian’s stunning falsetto hovering gently above the sweet guitar riff and feathery percussion. It feels like a lullaby, and even his lyrics possess the warmth and optimism of a fairy tale. But instead of a Prince Charming, the hero is our own kindred spirit. That person buried deep inside us who is begging to be revealed.
Song number two is “Country”, which is a head-noodling, country-folk rocker. It’s the type of song you would spin on a long road trip through the great plains of America’s Midwest or Canada’s Prairies. The track’s meaning is somewhat similar to this, as Owens and his partner were traveling across the US. As they hit Nevada, they thought a dust storm was developing before them. As he explains it:
“For a hundred miles we didn’t see a person or even a tree. Then all of a sudden, this giant dust cloud appeared, which turned out to be ten cowboys on horses lassoing cows. It was the most real thing I’ve ever seen.”
Snail Mail – “Let’s Find an Out” (Baltimore, USA)
RIYL: Liz Phair, Phoebe Bridgers, Petal
Yesterday, The New York Times released a fantastic feature on Lindsey Jordan and her project, Snail Mail. Writer Caryn Ganz asks if the 18-year old Baltimore native could become an indie-rock star and be the next Liz Phair? If you’ve been following us since the beginning, then you would know our answer. In our eyes, she’s already a star with her debut EP, Habit, blowing us away with Jordan’s mature and emotive songwriting. Several thousands of people also agree as do the fine folks at super indie label Matador Records, who will release Jordan’s new album, Lush, on June 1st.
Jordan has already released a couple of songs from the LP, and the latest, “Let’s Find an Out”, is more in line with the music that initially grabbed our attention. With the delicate strumming of her guitar and the feathery percussion humming in the background, Jordan’s voice, which has grown fuller over the years, lightly serenades us with her pensive lyrics. Despite the subtle nature of the song, a quiet intensity lingers in each word she sings as she witnesses a relationship crumble before. But as is her way, she’s not willing to concede to the inevitable, but instead seeks to “start anew”.
Pre-orders for Lush are available here. Lindsey Jordan unquestionably will be a star.
Written Years – “Superficial Feeling” (Vancouver, Canada)
RIYL: The Wombats, Said the Whale, The Uglysuit
Written Years‘ story is worth repeating because it’s one made for the movies. After forming in 2013 and releasing a well-received debut album, three of the band’s four band members experienced unimaginable hardships. Frontman Wade Ouellet experienced sudden speech loss, causing him to live in near-isolation for months. Alex Richardson and Kane Enders, meanwhile, endured the unexpected losses of immediate family members. All this happened at a time when the band was preparing the release of its sophomore album.
Nearly three years later, Ouellet, Richardson, and Enders along with Brian Dyck have regrouped. They’re currently putting the final touches on the long-awaited album. At the end of 2017, they released their first song in years, the triumphant “Lost in You Now”. The second song of their lengthy comeback is equally jubilant.
“Superficial Feeling” is a stunner, making you reflect on your life and celebrate all your accomplishments. It is, as Ouellet says, “a corrupt, little 2AM love song about finding yourself in this strange world.” Corrupt may be too harsh a term. We prefer to say it is euphoric, as the instrumentation and Ouellet’s endearing vocals cascade together not once, not twice, but three times into a breathtaking crescendo. If you’ve ever had the chance to stand under a waterfall, that feeling of exhilaration and revitalization is mirrored on this stupendous single.
Written Years are Wade Ouellet (vocals/keys/guitar), Kane Enders (drums/percussion), Brian Dyck (bass/synths), and Alex Richardson (guitar/vocals).
Yassassin – “Citizen” (London, England via Stockholm/Tuscany/Cambridge/Malmö/Brisbane)
RIYL: Dream Wife, Berries, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
I often think of Yassassin as the female Ramones because their music is a riot. Everything they do is heavy, intense, and fun. Like Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny, and Marky, the quintet of Anna, Joanna, Moa, Raissa, and Ruth don’t shy away from political or social issues. Quite the opposite, they excel on them, and “Citizen” is no different.
Right from the start, the band blow out the speakers. As the drums hammer away, they holler – “C-O-N-V-E-R-S-A-T-I-O-N”. It’s their way of saying that more dialogue is needed in this world instead of acting on one’s unpredictable emotions. That we, as citizens, need to be engaged and given a voice instead of being minions to an oligarch’s fanatical and divisive ways.
If you’re more into the music, then warm up your arms because you’ll undoubtedly be doing your best air guitar, pounding on your invisible drum kit, or doing your best Flea (bass) impersonation. Or maybe you’ll just be flailing your head around, raising your arms in the air, and losing your shit to this awesome, face-melting rocker. As a whole, “Citizen”is a reminder when politically-charged music were the anthems to which we marched, rocked, and sung the words. Music that defined not just a moment in time but an entire generation.
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