The Matinee ’18 June 7th is an all-women affair. Each of the songs either features a female singer-songwriter or a woman leading the band. The mini-playlist is just further evidence in our long-held belief that women are making the best and more creative music today.
The Beths – “Happy Unhappy” (Auckland, New Zealand)
RIYL: Alex Lahey, Anna Burch, Dude York
To discover a country’s artistic talent, one needs to spend plenty of time there. The radio and internet can only do so much. Concerning New Zealand, most people’s exposure to the little country’s music scene was limited to Flying Nun and the Dunedin sound and then later Lorde and possibly The Naked and Famous. Getting exposed to bands like The Beths, however, is often limited, but thanks to great indie labels like Carpark Records, more people will get to know who this particular quartet are.
On August 10th, The Beths will release their debut album, Future Me Hates Me, and they’ve already shared the witty and amusing title track. Single number two is equally fun, quirky, and, most importantly, genuine. “Happy Unhappy” is a story to which every person can relate. Opening like a ’70s sitcom, the song gradually transforms into a catchy and rocking little number that would be perfectly placed in an episode of Degrassi Jr. High and its offshoot Degrassi: Next Class. As her band mates jangle, jive, and rock out, Elizabeth Stokes shares the whirlwind of emotions that fill her body each day, specifically about that one person she once wanted to be with and is now gone. Her great lyrics are fantastic, describing how we’ve all wished our hearts were “made of stone” after experiencing the pain of the end of a relationship.
But let “Happy Unhappy” be the beginning of a new friendship with The Beths. Start by pre-ordering the album here or at the label’s store. Then catch Elizabeth Stokes (guitar/vocals), Jonathan Pearce (guitar/vocals), Benjamin Sinclair (bass/ vocals), and Ivan Luketina-Johnston (drums/vocals). on tour in North America (dates here). New Zealand and Australia dates are to come.
Bloodboy – “All My Idiots” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: a young Cyndi Lauper, Bec Sandridge
We’ve covered Lexie Papilion’s project Bloodboy quite a bit over the years. There are many reasons for this. First, she makes music that makes you feel good and even euphoric. Second, she’s a great (and underrated) lyricists, as she often writes vivid stories or crafts messages that are uplifting and invigorating. If she was making music in the mid-’80s or ’90s, she would likely have been a mega pop-star. Time is still on the side of the twenty-something LA native and former competitive surfer, and songs like “All My Idiots” will only aid her cause.
Like previous 2018 singles “Sex Crimes” and “Is Now a Good Time to Ruin Your Life?”, Papilion delivers an energetic and stupendous anthem. It’s not as political as the former nor as bitingly personal as the latter, but “All My Idiots” is a celebration of who we are. Well, in the case of this song, she writes a love letter to her weird, wacky, and wonderful friends, but it can also be interpreted as a song to everyone living anywhere. As the dance pop-rock vibe buzzes in the background – highlighted by some cool, ’80s-esque synths – Papilion reminds us that no matter where we are and how our lives have changed, our lifelong friends will always be there for us. In some ways, Papilion is like that your best friend – you can always count on her to lift your spirits.
Bloodboy’s debut album, Punk Adjacent, is expected later this year. We cannot wait to hear it (and learn more about it).
CHINAH – “Yeah Right” (Copenhagen, Denmark)
RIYL: Warpaint, Toro y Moi, Portishead
Ambient / Electronic trio CHINAH have slowly grown from a little band with potential when they released “We Go Back” in 2015 to one of Denmark’s finest outfits. They’ve sold out venues across northern Europe and drawn comparisons to everyone from Jessie Ware to Portishead. Singer-songwriter Fine Glindvad, guitarist Simon Kjær, and producer/pianist/keyboardist Simon Andersson, in other words, drip with potential. They’ve released some outstanding music, but “Yeah Right” just might be their masterpiece.
The song oozes with sensuality and intimacy. It opens with an edgy seduction, as the production work and beats are harsh and Glindvad’s lush vocals tinge with bitterness. She sings, “Maybe I’ll let you win (yeah right)”. This is the voice of a woman who will not succumb to any person’s whims or desires. The drops in the song are tremendously executed, possessing a Toro y Moi-like brilliance – some times dreamy, other times gritty, and always unexpected. One thing we can expect from CHINA, though, is consistent excellence.
Claire Morales – “No Telling” (Denton, TX, USA)
RIYL: Angel Olsen, Gabriella Cohen, Pearl Charles
Our first exposure to Claire Morales was in July 2015 when she and her best friend Jena Pyle (a very gifted singer-songwriter) covered Patsy Cline’s “Strange”. This cover and another one she, Pyle, and Ariel Hartley did (the Everly Brothers’ “All I Have to Do Is Dream”) foreshadowed what was to come. Forget electronic music or making top-40 songs. Morales is a throwback, a ’70s flower child born in the ’90s and delivering psychedelic folk-rock like she is the second-coming of Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. One can look at her back catalogue or just spin “No Telling”.
The rollicking approach mirrors the lake-filled landscape that surrounds her hometown of Denton, Texas. In other words, it is music that is refreshing, vibrant, and exhilarating, making you want to simultaneously rock out and dance. Or if you’re the type that likes to do air band impressions, then the various guitar solos or raucous rhythms will have you flailing away. While the song bleeds adrenaline, Morales’ story concerns a summer crush and how one becomes tongue-tied. She might be able to write a multi-part chord progression, but, as she says,
“When you’re driving me home
There are things you ought to know.
How I try and find the syllables they’re coming out
At the dullest hum.
If at all.”
When her new album, All That Wanting, is released on June 29th, words will be plentiful to describe Morales’ brilliance.
The album is available for pre-order on Bandcamp.
Cuesta Loeb – “Out Of” (Los Angeles via New York City, USA)
RIYL: No Joy, A Place To Bury Strangers, Sarah Bethe Nelson
First impressions due matter. If anyone says otherwise, don’t believe them. A great first impression can leave a lasting imprint on a person, which is what Cuesta Loeb achieved two years ago when she released “Dive”. Now living in Los Angeles, the singer-songwriter is a rarity in today’s climate – a solo, female artist wading through the mostly male-dominated genre of psychedelic rock and shoegaze. People will eventually grab on to her scintillating approach, but, like in the case of No Joy, it will take time. We’re a firm believer in her potential because she continues to release thoughtful and spectacular pieces like “Out Of”.
Akin to her past singles, “Out Of” is rapturous, edgy, and dreamy. The heavy, reverb-filled guitars and pulsating rhythms give the song its dazzling grit. Loeb’s lush and stunning vocals, meanwhile, give the tune its heavenly feature. Think of it like flying in a plane, where below a storm brews but you soar high above it and only feel the bright sunshine. Her lyrics, though, are more within the clouds, as she reminiscences about the diminishing chances she has to spend with a loved one – her father specifically. That the most important person in her life is about to say one final goodbye, and she wants to create one more lasting memory. It’s a powerfully emotive song from an artist who we hope will have many more lifetime memories to follow.
Kady Z – “Revenge” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Emma Ruth Rundle, Odetta Hartman, Jesse Jo Stark
Kady Z has developed a huge following for her work in film and music. With respect to the latter, she’s mostly carved out a niche within the pop sphere, but she’s done something completely unexpected for her latest single. She hasn’t turned to electronica, which is what most artists would do. Instead, she rewinds the clocks to the ’70s and ’80s when brooding, dark, country-rock / folk-rock was the rage. To a time when the most crippling part of a song wasn’t the eerie violin but the epic storytelling. All these elements are featured on “Revenge”.
If another film about Annie Oakley is made or the Cohens decide to do another True Grit-like movie, “Revenge” would be its theme song. The arrangements are deftly composed to create the calm yet gripping approach. Kady Z’s voice is brittle but filled with contempt, as a quiet rage boils within her. Her storytelling, too, is fabulous. The track’s opening line is eye-popping, as she sings: “The clock strikes twelve with a .45.” Later, she delivers another memorable line with, “Five minutes late will get you killed”. Just simply an outstanding song. If Kady Z continues to move down this track, sign us up for more.
Phantastic Ferniture – “Gap Year” (Sydney / Blue Mountains region, Australia)
RIYL: Warpaint, HAIM, Belle Game, Stevie Nicks
Two-plus years ago, Julia Jacklin was in a band called Phantastic Ferniture. At the time, they released a song called “Gap Year”, and we described it as “a driving, pop-rock number that is one part Blondie and another part Warpaint. From the opening chords and throbbing rhythms to the first words spoken by Jacklin, you are tantalized by this track.” A few months ago, the song completely disappeared, and now we know why.
With their debut album about 7 weeks away, Ryan K Brennan (drums), Liz Hughes (guitar), and Julia Jacklin (vocals/bass) have remastered the song. The aforementioned description still applies, but the song is more urgent and exhilarating. With the intensity amped up several notches, “Gap Year” is the ideal soundtrack for a late-night drive. The pulsating rhythms, the chiming guitars, and Jacklin’s soaring vocals are intoxicating, and the energy infectious. After hearing the song, you just might want to dance like Hughes and Jacklin do in the video.
Saltwater Sun – “Hot Mess” (London, England)
RIYL: Black Honey, Wyldest, Anteros
For years, Saltwater Sun has been one of our favorites, amazing us first with the psychedelic haze of “Habit On My Mind”. Over the years, the five-piece of Jennifer Stearnes, Dan Kingham, Joel Neale, Benny Chandler and Robert Carter have shared one great tune after another, often delving into indie-rock and indie pop-rock spaces. Their last single, “Hot Mess”, is no different. In other words, it’s a complete surprise.
Melodic and grittier, dreamy yet edgy, “Hot Mess” is anything but disastrous or, well, a mess. It soothes at one moment then pinches every nerve in your body. The ragged guitar riffs and rhythms are awesome, brilliantly mirroring Stearnes’ words about “living under duress” and trying to let go. She pleads to us to not take things, including oneself, too seriously, but instead encourages us to “find some middle ground” and realize “we have good friends around us.” Life is already complicated, so why make it more difficult. We should just enjoy it, beginning with playing this tune at full blast.
Someone – “Forget Forgive” (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
RIYL: Mitski, Feist, Julien Baker
For more than a year, we’ve been smitten with Tessa Rose Jackson’s project Someone. The Amsterdam-based singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer has blown us away time and time again. It started with the ethereal moodiness of “The Deep” and continued through to the art-pop perfection of “Chain Reaction”. We were tempted to share “Forget Forgive” from her new Chain Reaction EP weeks ago, but opted to pass after it went viral following its appearance on season 2, episode 8 of the popular Netflix show Dear White People. After hearing it again, it’s too good to pass up.
Minimalist in its approach, “Forget Forgive” is a stunner due to quiet emotion that sears through Jackson’s lush voice. The low density of the bass only heightens the beautiful broodiness, sounding like a heartbeat pounding in the stillness of the night. The approach mirrors the song’s theme. As Jackson explains:
“‘Forget Forgive’ is the most personal track I’ve written so far. It’s a really intimate lyric about battling some pretty nasty demons and, in overcoming them, figuring out the kind of person you want to be. I wrote and recorded it all in one night (between the hours of 11PM and 4AM) in my home studio in Amsterdam. Just bass guitar, vocals, and a sneaky little mellotron and kick towards the end. Some songs take ages to fine-tune and hone, but this one felt like I was just solidifying a strain of thought that had been flowing around inside my head for ages. Playing the song to other people actually always feels a bit icky, like reading an excerpt from my diary out in public. It’s super naked.”
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