The Matinee ’18 June 15th is pretty awesome. It’s so good that we think you’ll agree that many of the songs below are song of the year worthy. Seriously, the songs today are that great. Oh, there is also one surprise collaboration that is too good to be true (there’s a common theme here).
Calva Louise – “Outrageous” (London, England)
RIYL: early No Doubt, The Joy Formidable, Estrons
“It’s outrageous!”, front woman Jess Allanic hollers right out of the gate to her band Calva Louise‘s new single, “Outrageous”. Her words describe how we feel about this song.
Like No Doubt in their early days and The Joy Formidable, “Outrageous” is a fiery, frenetic piece of punk-pop. Allanic’s voice has a touch of Gwen Stefani in her youth, but she also unfurls a heavy and searing guitar riff a la The JF’s Rhiannon Bryan. Her mates, bassist Alizon Taho and drummer Ben Parker, meanwhile, deliver a raucous, throbbing rhythm section, which transforms the tune from another banger to one heavy, propulsive sledgehammer. This isn’t a song to be sitting down to. Instead, get up on your feet and either mosh, bang your head from side-to-side, or raise two fists in the air and yell, “F*ck yeah!” Or you can also say, “It’s outrageous!”
Calva Louise are Jess Allanic (vocals/guitar), Alizon Taho (bass/backing vox), and Ben Parker (drums/backing vox). They’ll be performing with a few of our favorite UK bands – False Heads, Berries, Violet, and Moses – at The Camden Assembly on July 22nd. Tickets to this awesome gig are available here. The price is dirt cheap (between £4.00 and £8.00) with £2.00 per ticket going to War Child.
Chicano Batman – “Black Lipstick” feat. Miguel (Túgether Session) (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Chicano Batman, Miguel
While we usually share new singles, but when one great band and a great musician collaborate in the re-working of a song we must share it. Chicano Batman, who are one of the great live bands around, first released “Black Lipstick” in 2015. The original was a trippy, psychedelic number that felt like meeting the mysterious women wearing black lipstick at one of the Mad Hatter’s tea parties. With R&B singer-songwriter Miguel singing lead vocals, they’ve spiced up the track (the guitar solo sizzles) and given it a sultry and even more seductive flair. Now the tune is perfect for these hot, steamy nights, where all you want to do is slow dance with your honey.
The remake was done as part of Latin channel Mitú‘s new Túgether series, which brings artists together to rework one of their songs. This program should be awesome.
Chicano Batman are Eduardo Arenas (bass/guitar/vocals), Carlos Arévalo (guitar), Bardo Martinez (lead vocals/keyboard/guitar), and
Gabriel Villa (drums/vocals). Check out their Bandcamp page to pick up their releases.
Culture Abuse – “Dip” (San Francisco & Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Weezer mixed with Green Day and The Ramones
Summer weekends give us time to chase our own dreams. Whether your plans include road tripping to music festivals or just spending time at a beach, it feels great to dive into those plans. But sometimes we get so busy we lose touch with close friends and loved ones while we’re traveling. San Francisco-based indie punk-pop band Culture Abuse know this feeling well. Their single “Dip” (from their newest LP, Bay Dream) offers a mea culpa to those they can’t be with due to touring demands. (They should know, having been invited to tour Europe with Green Day at Billie Joe Armstrong’s personal invitation!)
“Dip” pairs up high-energy instrumentation with heartfelt lyrics we can all relate to:
“I wish you’d take care of yourself first
Before you worry about the others
And when it feels like it’s piling over
Will you remember you got my number.”
These days we all need reminders from friends that we aren’t going through the daily grind alone. Leave it to future superstars Culture Albuse to not only remind you to check on your friends but to also provide an insanely catchy soundtrack, too.
Culture Abuse are: David Kelling (vocals/guitars/keys), John Jr (guitars), Nick Bruder (guitars), Shane Pitt (bass), and Ross Traver (drums).
Eliza Shaddad – “My Body” (London, England)
RIYL: Nadine Shah, Bryde, Annabel Allum
If you’ve been following this space, you already know that Eliza Shaddad is one of our all-time favorites. It’s not just that Shaddad is a master at her craft, but she’s also has a graduate degree in philosophy and has lent her majestic vocals to songs crafted by electronic producers and DJs. She’s a multi-talented individual who could rule the world if she wanted. In the meantime, she’s the governor of the hearts and souls of thousands of fans, including our own, and she lays down the gauntlet with her latest number, “My Body”.
The song personifies everything we love about the London-based singer-songwriter. It is a dark, enchanting number that simultaneously oozes with grit and grace. The chiming guitar, the deep and heavy rhythms, and Shaddad’s hovering vocals create a world that feels like the afterlife or somewhere in the deep chasms of the underworld. It is here where Shaddad describes how temptation constantly “plays on my mind” and where she struggles to control her own urges. Where she battles everyday from repeating mistakes and allowing her body to control her choices.
“I hang my head over the edge,
As if I could wave away the worst of all the things I’ve said.
I’m still aware it could bring me down.
I need to find a way to forget somehow.”
Hotel Lux – “Berlin Wall” (Portsmouth, England)
RIYL: Tom Waits, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Stray Cats
If anyone personally knows Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen’s family, can you please send them Hotel Lux‘s new single, “Berlin Wall” because we think they’ll love it. We say this not because we think this is a great track (which it is) but because the tune echoes the music of these music legends in their youth. It’s a little gritty, a little dark and creepy, and completely delightful in a ghoulish way.
Musically, the song is a mesh of late ’70s / early ’80s rock band Stray Cats mixed with a bit of modern-day UK punk and indie rock (think Shame and Dead Pretties). The percolating melody will send shivers down your spine yet at the same time you’ll be noodling your head. The vocals and lyrics, however, are extremely Waits- and Cohen-esque, as the band describe a person – possibly a certain orange dictator – having “the disposition like the Berlin Wall”. It’s a clever analogy since it evokes images of a long, impenetrable barrier that comes crashing down after the people have risen. Like we said, Waits and Cohen would be proud.
The song is part of a split 7″, which is available now on Big Score Records.
June Parker – “I Can’t Relate Anymore” (Richmond, VA, USA)
RIYL: Yo La Tengo, Death Cab for Cutie, The Uglysuit
There is something special happening in Richmond, Virginia. Like really special. It is becoming an epicentre of great, new, independent music, where it is undergoing a renaissance much like Austin did twenty years and Athens, Georgia in the early ’80s. The Virginian capital has produced some great bands and artists in the past, such as Aimee Mann, heavy metal bands Gwar and Lamb of God, and, of course, Sparklehorse. More recently, Lucy Dacus, Andy Jenkins, and Natalie Prass have emerged from the city’s music scene. Another band to watch from the area are June Parker, who not surprisingly sound like one of the great college radio bands of the ’90s.
More specifically, the four-piece are like a young Yo La Tengo and Death Cab for Cutie, at least that’s the indication their latest single, “I Can’t Relate Anymore”. This number is just stellar. It’s intimate and stunning indie pop-rock that leaves you dazzled and mesmerized. The opening rhythm guitar echos of YLT (and even a touch of New Order), but the chiming, cross guitar riff is reminiscent of Death Cab’s masterpiece, “Transatlanticism”. And like these two indie giants, the band have crafted a message with which everyone can empathize. It’s about feeling alone and lost. About being insecure and uncertain about the present and future. And maybe Mike Hayes (vocals/guitar/bass), Chris George (guitar), David Hulsey (keys/bass), and Chad Hollman (drums) truly feel like this, but if they continue to create memorable music, their future will be fully secured.
The song is taken from their forthcoming, soon-to-be-named debut EP, which will drop in July. In the meantime, pick up this tune and other of June Parker’s tracks on Bandcamp.
Many Voices Speak – “I Saw You” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Hope Sandoval, Natalie Prass, Cigarettes After Sex
October 1st, 2016 was the day when we were first introduced Matilda Mård’s project, Many Voices Speak, who took our collective breaths away with “Video Child”. Her path, however, wasn’t an easy one, and her story reads like a Hollywood movie. For years, she toiled within Stockholm’s music scene but never could break through. She then made the decision to move to village of Borlänge, where she spent days writing. Mård re-discovered her passion for music in a place where most go to pretend to be pop and rock stars – the karaoke bar. Now, she’s one of Sweden’s most promising artists.
After a well-received debut EP, Mård’s focus is now on the release of her highly-anticipated, debut album, Tank Town, which drops out August 31st via Strangers Candy (Europe) and Hit City USA (world). She’s released one song already – the gorgeous “Necessaries”. Yesterday, she shared the LP’s second single, “I Saw You”, which is one of the most devastatingly beautiful songs you’ll hear – not just this year, but in any year.
It’s a song that defines soul-crushing, knee-buckling, and heartbreaking. In other words, imagine Hope Sandoval or Natalie Prass teaming up with Cigarettes After Sex. This song is that great. Mård’s stirring vocals are intimate yet vulnerable. The dream-pop approach starts off lush and then it accelerates a touch to become exhilarating and breathtaking. Her story, though, is what really grabs you, as she recounts how one person has opted to travel a path with another, leaving her long-time partner in the distance.
We did say the song is devastatingly beautiful, and we cannot wait to hear her debut.
S.M. Wolf – “The Station” (Indianapolis, USA)
RIYL: Built to Spill, Weezer, Fountains of Wayne
Do you have your Songs of the Summer playlist ready yet? Even if you have, you need to add “The Station” from Indiana indie outfit S.M. Wolf to that list. No playlist is complete without this addictive slice of indie psychedelic pop-rock.
“The Station” greets your ears with a vibrant riff and sun-kissed vocals. Within seconds you know you’re in for some feel-good listening with a vintage feel. The ‘90s-era influence that permeates this track calls to mind those “good ol’ days” (of 25 years ago?!) when indie garage rock was more substance than style. S.M. Wolf offers plenty of substance here with tight instrumentation and irresistible charm.
Since releasing their Neon Debris debut album in 2015, this band has toured all over the U.S., slowly building their grassroots fan base. Each tour brings them to venues where folks hear them for the first time then leave as dedicated fans. This long game can be tiring, but the energy they pour into their goals makes it clear that success is imminent. This summer’s small venues will be next year’s festival stages.
In addition to Gross, the other members of S.M. Wolf include: Rachel Enneking, Ben Leslie, Melanie Rau, James Furness, and Bryan Unruh.
Virginia Wing – “Be Released” (Manchester, England)
RIYL: Austra, Zola Jesus, Phantogram, Dead Mellotron
Certain music makes a stunning impression the moment you hear it. Those introductions tend to become imprinted on your memory. Years later, you can look back and recall exactly where you were the first time you heard that band., whoever they may be. We suspect many will have a similar reaction when they discover Virginia Wing.
The genre-defying fluidity of “Be Released” tattoos itself on your psyche throughout its four-plus minutes. Each unusual element – from New Wave synths to Asian-inspired instrumentation – leaves an indelible impression that will have you saying, “Wow, where has this group been all my life?”
While we have little in terms of background info, we remain impressed with the musicianship here. The duo of Alice Merida Richards (vocals, synths, organ) and Samuel Pillay (guitar, bass, synths) sounds like none of their indie rock peers. You may hear faint echoes of Phantogram one moment or Austra the next, but nothing in “Be Released” warrants direct comparison to anyone else. Theirs is simply an original and inventive sound that quickly becomes your new favourite discovery. Now that Virginia Wing are on our radar, we cannot wait to dive deeper into their new Ecstatic Arrow LP to explore the depths of their sound. It’s utterly mesmerising.
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