Happy June everyone! To celebrate the arrival of one of the grandest months of the year, The Matinee ’18 June 1st features some sizzling and some cool new tunes. A few alumni of our mini-playlists are making another appearance while there are a few newcomers worthy of your attention. We start things off, though, with a cinematic number that will leave you in awe. Enjoy your weekend!
Phoria – “RROTOR” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Phoria, Sigur Rós, early Bon Iver
In 2016, Phoria released their stunning debut album, Volition, which was (for one of our writers) one of the Top 10 albums of the year. Volition was no ordinary record. Instead, as we said back then, Phoria “created a masterful piece of emotive and cinematic perfection and an album that is among the most beautiful to come out in a decade.” High praise back then, but listen to it again today and you’ll be entranced. Then invest your time in the quintet’s stunning new single, and you’ll discover the depth of their brilliance.
“RROTOR” showcases the quintet’s focus on minimalist complexity to create stunning music. What exactly is minimalist complexity? Listen closely and hear the numerous elements – the standard guitar-bass-drum setup plus a trumpet, synth, piano, electronics, and likely other instruments – and how they are executed with the subtle touch of a surgeon. Not a single note nor tone stands above all, not even frontman Trewin Howard’s ethereal vocals. They complement one another beautifully, proving that the sum is indeed greater than the whole, and proving once again there is no band like Phoria today.
Phoria are Trewin Howard (vocals/composition/production/electronics), Tim Douglas (guitar/bass/synth), James Cheeseman (guitar/synth), Ed Sanderson (piano/synth), and Seryn Burden (drums). Their second album expected in early 2019.
Dresage – “Gallery” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Cuesta Loeb,Kaela Sinclair, More Giraffes
Dresage is singer/songwriter/producer Keeley Bumford. Her newest track is titled “Gallery”. Her newest offering is filled with unique electronic elements as well as soaring harmonies and airy vocals . The track is upbeat yet at times feels moody as the lyrics tackle serious content like heartbreak and “deciphering lovers“. Her style is unique yest commanding as she offers up promising, inventive indie pop.
Dresage shares about the meaning behind the track: “Rather than endless self-reflection and emotional torture, ‘Gallery’ imagines an alternate universe where every heartbreak is put on display. If we had the ability to see our romantic failings and achievements art-exhibit style, wine in hand and heels clicking on polished cement floors, maybe we’d see our past with 20/20 vision.”
Dresage’s self released “Gallery” is out now on all available digital platforms.
L.A. Girlfriend – “Possession” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: New Order, Frankie Rose, Pat Benatar
Sydney Banta, the powerhouse vocalist behind L.A. Girlfriend, is the kind of singer that would have been fierce competition for Joan Jett or Pat Benatar back in the ’80s. Her velvety smooth voice pairs perfectly with retro-inspired instrumentation on her new “Possession” single. It’s a devastating combo that feels both vintage and modern simultaneously – not an easy feat. But when you grow up on a steady diet of Iron Maiden and New Order, as Banta admits, then what else can you expect? This young artist has a firm musical education upon which she is building an impressive career. Since releasing her debut EP in 2012, Banta continues to reveal new facets of her talent. Our biggest question is why hasn’t a major label signed her yet?
“Possession” taxies down a New Wave-esque runway (complete with bagpipe-sounding tones) before lifting off when Banta’s vocals begin. This is when the song truly soars. She pulls no punches with the lyrics, either, choosing to be the strong, independent type who clings more to her reality than to romantic notions: “Though I may have love for you / that don’t mean that you’ve gotta stay.” Hopefully “Possession” is the song that will put this talent on the radar of indie labels across the globe, because she is a true gem just waiting to be discovered.
Pema – “Cry” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Eleanor Friedberger, Σtella, Kristin Kontrol
It’s the weekend, which means spending at least one night on the town or finding a place to dance. While you could search for a club playing the usual hits, allow Pema to take you back to the ’70s and the era of disco with her fabulous new single, “Cry”. The song is reminiscent of a time where sequins, bell bottoms, and white polyester suits were fashionable, and when the only lights that shone on the dance floor came from the glitter of the disco ball. It recalls an era where music was our momentary escape from the violence, disorder, and wars that grappled the world. While much has changed, plenty has stayed the same, including how a great song can allow us to dream for a little while.
The song oozes with coolness from the tantalizing synths, the subtle beats, and Pema mastermind Alex Cohen’s (who is better known as the front woman of Alex Napping) intimate falsetto. While we revel under the shimmering warmth of the intoxicating melody, Cohen’s lyrics hint as something completely the opposite. She reveals her inner struggles to cope through each day and believe in herself. In having people, including herself, accept who she is. One thing we do believe about Alex Cohen is that she is one music’s most underrated and underappreciated talents, although likely not for long.
Rayland Baxter – “Casanova” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Beck, Cage the Elephant, Dr. Dog, Shakey Graves
Ladies and gentlemen, here is a strong contender for Song of the Summer. Other tunes may have a tight hook or a bouncy chorus that makes you play air drums on your steering wheel while you’re cruising down the highway, but nothing comes close to “Casanova” from Nashville’s Rayland Baxter.
Fans who know Baxter from his previous albums may be surprised by the more exuberant sound here. On his forthcoming third LP, Wide Awake, the Tennessee native is joined by some musician and producer friends from energetic bands – like Cage the Elephant, Dr. Dog, and Weezer. This infusion of musical adrenaline adds to the infectious charm of “Casanova” musically, though the lyrics are equally catchy:
“I got a real bad feeling Imma lose my cool
Everywhere that I go, everything that I do
Stop me using the money on drugs and things
To keep my mind from runnin’
Back to the hole that I came from…”
If you are able to listen to this song just once without having it infiltrate every fiber of your being, you must be a robot. Expect to hear this tune all over indie radio this summer and beyond. We cannot wait to hear it live when Baxter’s tour starts tomorrow. A full list of upcoming North American dates is available here.
Rodes Rollins – “Nasty Woman” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Nadine Shah, Pearl Charles, Jesse Jo Stark
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Talia Taxman and her project Rodes Rollins. Almost 15 months to be exact, at which time she unveiled her stellar debut EP, Young Adult. Despite it being five songs, the record showcased Taxman’s diverse artistry. As easily as she dazzles with a haunting, dark-folk ballad, she can deliver a raucous and moving rocker. For her new single, she merges these two approaches into one fabulous single.
“Nasty Woman” could be the anthem for Thelma & Louise, The Bride from Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill movies, or any woman willing to take a stand. In other words, it’s the song for today modern woman who won’t take crap from anyone. As a ’70s-esque psychedelic vibe swirls through the air, Taxman calmly yet assertively proclaims her position in this world. She is neither seductress nor enchantress let alone a servant to the whims of men. She is in control, who vindictively says, “It seems a little funny that I have to hold your hand” and stands upright at the mention she’s a nasty woman. Taxman isn’t a nasty woman, but she is a tour-de-force to be reckon with sooner than later.
The Sea The Sea – “Phototropic” (Troy, NY, USA)
RIYL: HAIM, Lucius, The Head and The Heart, The Harmaleighs
The warm summer weather will lead many of us to the seashore for a holiday in the coming weeks. We find respite by the ocean due to the peaceful, rejuvenating nature of the sand, surf, and gentle breezes. All of those elements come alive in “Phototropic” from New York indie four-piece The Sea The Sea.
Throughout its three-plus minutes, their sun-kissed vocals brighten your mood and elevate your spirits. The uptempo melody evokes joyful days spent with sand between your toes – in fact, you can almost detect whiffs of coconut from the subtle tropical accents in the instrumentation.
Married duo Mira and Chuck Costa have been creating bright indie folk-pop since 2011 and released their debut album, Love We Are We Love, in 2014. Now their sophomore album (which features additional vocal and musical depth courtesy of Cary May Gorman and Stephen Struss) has arrived, just in time for summer. Bask in their uplifting, infectious melodies. Let the positive energy of their lyrics wash over you in waves. Fans of harmony-driven indie groups (Lucius, The Head and The Heart, HAIM) now have a new anthem to cherish.
From The Light is out today and can be picked up via their PledgeMusic campaign.
The Sea The Sea is currently on tour through late August, including many dates with our friends Planes on Paper and Josiah Johnson (The Head and The Heart).
SORRY – “Showgirl” (London, England)
RIYL: SLOTHRUST, Speedy Ortiz, Garbage
We owe it to our man Marcus for introducing us to SORRY, the quartet from London who are making young and old people remember the grunge of the ’90s. If they were around during our youthful days, we, too, would have been endlessly rocking out to their music. Instead, a new generation gets to watch SORRY become their Nirvana, Hole, and Garbage and lose their marbles to songs like “Showgirl”.
The grunge era wasn’t just about intense, feverish songs. Some of the best tracks of the era were the brooding, melodic fares that burned slowly yet gnarled loudly. SORRY perfect apply this framework, luring us in gently with a teetering guitar line before the second guitar and rhythms chime in. Front woman Asha’s vocals are soft at first but slowly build to a grizzled howl, adopting an approach that SLOTHRUST’s Leah Wellbaum has mastered. Her lyrics are fabulous, as she takes on the misogynistic atmosphere that is poisoning our world. Her words are biting, as she adopts the persona of the creepy man who wants to see and touch everyone. She says with a sinister sneer, “You take don’t your clothes off for no one because you are just a showgirl. You don’t even know girl.” Music like this doesn’t come around that often, which is why a band like SORRY needs to be celebrated.
The single is out on Domino Records. SORRY are Asha, Louis, Lincoln, and Patrick.
Valley Queen – “Boiling Water” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Big Thief, Waxahatchee, Margaret Glaspy
Boy do we wish we knew about Valley Queen when they started in 2014, but better late than never (we had to say it!). They’re quickly moving up the list as one of our favorite discoveries of the year, and each song we hear only makes us become their biggest cheerleaders outside their friends, family, and lifelong fans. For those slow to get on the bandwagon, “Boiling Water” will surely make you rush on.
The song is a firecracker, both musically and in its punchy 123-second duration. During this short time period, the band delivers one blazing and raucous track that will have everyone dancing and in a jubilant mood. The guitars sear, the rhythms are extremely groovy, and front woman Natalie Carol’s vocals boom over everything. Despite the furious and anthemic tone, Carol’s words denote the opposite – that of the maddening chaos that buzzes inside one’s body and mind that gathers heat and turns into a fire or feels like boiling water. The analogy is clever because we can all relate to this feeling, and Valley Queen’s ability to craft songs that resonate with everyone is another reason why we’ve become big fans.
The band are Natalie Carol (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Neil Wogensen (bass/vocals), Shawn Morones (guitar/vocals), and Gerry Doot (drums). Their debut album, Supergiant, is out July 13th via Roll Call Records. Pre-orders are available here. Valley Queen will be back on tour this summer, with stops at Pickathon and Winnipeg Folk Festival. Dates and information are here.
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