The Matinee ’18 June 19th spreads the love of music from across the globe, although there is a strong Aussie flavor to today’s mini-playlist. There is also a noticeable retro bent to the songs, but there are a couple that are “futuristic” in their orientation. If you listen to all nine songs, they could form the soundtrack to a Netflix film.
Astronauts, etc. – “The Room” (Oakland, USA)
RIYL: Gil Scott-Heron, George Harrison, Jonathan Bree
Is there anything that Anthony Ferraro cannot do? Whether he’s joining his friend Chaz Bear’s project Toro y Moi as its keyboardist or crafting his own original material under the moniker Astronauts, etc. consistently amazed us, the Oakland resident has with his lush take of classic soft rock. He’s not necessarily replicating, but adding a modern spin similar to how The War On Drugs are taking ’80s rock to cinematic heights. Ferraro’s newest single, “The Room”, once again demonstrates his remarkable genius.
The song reveals the dual sides of Ferraro’s brilliance. There is the music, which features traces of George Harrison’s blissful psychedelia and Gil Scott-Heron’s groovy classic pop-rock. Then there is the storytelling, and “The Room” is arguably Ferraro’s greatest achievement as a songwriter. “The Room” is a metaphor for all the things that may entrap us because they feel familiar and comfortable. Love, success, addiction, depression – they all can control our thoughts and emotions and, thus, imprison us. Just like how this immaculate number causes you to stop whatever you are doing and just listen.
Castle Black – “Sierra (from Part B- Adored)” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Wytches, Mermaidens, The Coathangers
The Game of Thrones is undoubtedly an international phenomenon. With its popularity, there will be bands that pay homage to the book and television series. Brooklyn post-punk / grunge / alt-rock band, Castle Black, are definitely one of them. But before you go shaking your head, the trio, which originally was founded by Leigh Celent and Matthew Bronner, are not re-writing the stories of Westeros or Bravos nor re-telling the tales of Jon, Daenerys, Arya, Tyrion, Jamie, Cersei, etc. They are instead creating head-smashing music with a social conscience. Take for instance, “Sierra”, which, is a social anthem that all must hear.
The tip-toeing opening is fantastic, as it creates an eerie vibe. Like a great horror movie, your skin starts to shiver and you want to hide but just cannot close your eyes. And gradually, the suspense intensifies and suddenly the moment is upon you. It startles, or, in this case, it rocks. But like what happens in Halloween and the original Friday the 13th, more suspense awaits. Lyrically, however, Castle Black speak about the real-life horrors that women in Sierra Leone experience. Anyone familiar with the human rights abuses occurring in many developing countries will know what is happening. If not, Celent offers the following:
“I wrote ‘Sierra’ after reading an article on women in Sierra Leone, and the horrible atrocities faced on a daily basis, simply for being women. It’s a song that can be applied to really any situation that is horrific and where some awful person makes someone else suffer for no reason other than their own inhumanity and personal gain.”
Like the Night’s Watch, Castle Black’s purpose is to defend those who cannot. Their new EP, the gods that adored you, is out June 29th.
Gena Rose Bruce – “Coming Down” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Angel Olsen, Stella Donnelly, Hope Sandoval
Twenty-something Gena Bruce was a bit of an internet sensation before she started to grab the attention of Triple J and other Australian taste-makers (search under Gena Rose Bruce). She hasn’t achieved the same fame as other YouTube stars like Justin Bieber or Alessia Cara – not yet anyway. She has, however, gradually worked her way into the discussion of being the country’s next great singer-songwriter, following the footsteps of Julia Jacklin, Stella Donnelly, Meg Mac, and Alex Lahey, to name a few. Seriously, remember her name because her bluesy brand of folk-pop and folk-rock and stunning vocals will have you thinking of two of indie’s leading women – Hope Sandoval and Angel Olsen.
“Coming Down” showcases her immense talent and sensual, intimate style. Her soothing, twangy vocals are the standout, grabbing hold of each ear and your complete attention like Sandoval and Olsen do when they utter their first word. Her words, too, are fascinating, as she looks introspectively and shares her daily highs and lows. Listen closely, and there is an air of Johnny Cash in both her lyrics and musical approach (especially the opening chords to the track):
“What I say is meaningless, what I say is vague.
What is say is inconsistent, but my jaw is clenching and I can’t stop
Wait from falling.”
Write this down in permanent marker: Gena Bruce is going to be a star.
EDIT: She still goes by Gena Rose Bruce.
Hey Geronimo – “Disconnect” (Brisbane, Australia)
RIYL: MAINLAND, The Belligerents, Muse
Throughout their short career, Brisbane outfit Hey Geronimo have thrown out the music playbook and done things their own way. They’re not ones to resort to tried-and-true arrangements and structures, preferring instead to be one step ahead of everyone else. So when their longtime guitarist decided to pursue new opportunities, they did the unexpected. They hired an AI – artificial intelligence – to write the guitar lines. His name is Alex, but we’re not really sure if s/he is human, computer, or possibly a cyborg. Regardless of the entity, Alex has contributed to a song that sounds like the future, or, as Hey Geronimo call it, dystopian future-rock.
“Disconnect” is the tune, and it sounds like it was written and produced by HAL 9000, Chappie, or WALL-E. The opening words are actually from an AI, but then the trio take over. As the oft-kilter, stuttering vibe fills the background, the band describe a situation where the unthinkable happens – one of them loses his WiFi connection! Suddenly, he’s “disconnected”, but then he sees what the world has to offer. That is silence because everyone else is stuck inside and addicted to their phones, computers, and whatever streaming device they may have. It’s a clever take on how we have become obsessed with technology and “trapped in technicolor”. The following lyrics, in particular, accurately reveal how living municipalities are actually ghost towns and cities.
“I’ve been walking around these streets for hours,
Watching silhouettes as they take shape.
Ghosts are coalescing in the windows,
Each unhappy household is the same.”
Hey Geronimo’s sophomore album, Content, is out September 7th. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.
Oi Va Voi – “Vanished World” (London, England)
RIYL: Agnes Obel, Natalie Prass, Coeur de Pirate
It takes about ten seconds, maybe less, into “Vanished World” to release that Oi Va Voi are no ordinary band. The word “band” even does the collective a disservice because they’re more a symphony creating music that falls in the cinematic and theatrical categories.
With “Vanished World’, they sextet have crafted a tune that sounds like Andrew Lloyd Webber crafting a new opera based on Norse mythology. It is mystical and mythical, emotionally stirring, and sonically dazzling. Whether it’s the booming trumpet, the chiming guitar, the throbbing percussion, the searing violin, the low bellow of the clarinet, or vocalist Zohara’s magnificent vocals, each element seduces you into Oi Va Voi’s galaxy. It’s a place that leaves you in awe and in wonderment, and you never want to leave. All things, though, must come to an end, but fortunately we can click repeat and re-live the majesty that is this realm they call the “Vanished World”. Simply spellbinding.
The single is out on V2 Records Benelux. The band consists of founding members Josh Breslaw (drums) and Steve Levi (clarinet/vocals) plus Dave Orchant (trumpet), Michael Vinaver (guitars), Anna Phoebe (violin), and Israeli vocalist Zohara (who has enchanted us in the past).
Pastis – “Amazon” (Helsinki, Finland)
RIYL: Built to Spill, Neutral Milk Hotel, Okkervil River
One doesn’t normally associate Finland with catchy, ’90s-esque indie rock. It is usually associated with heavy metal and hard rock bands or dream-folk outfits like Lake Jons. Helsinki five-piece, Pastis, however, will change your opinion about the Scandinavian country.
Like a mix of Built to Spill and Neutral Milk Hotel and even with touches of The New Pornographers, Pastis deliver a euphoric and energizing song in “Amazon”. The song is filled with memorable moments and elements, such as the chiming guitar chords that turn into bombastic riffs and the electric organ which goes from steady to explosive. The rhythms, too, erupt, making you want to pump your fists in the air and jump out of your seat at the song’s climax. Pastis also deliver a rousing set of lyrics, which recalls memories of when life was free and easy and nothing kept us grounded. In some ways, “Amazon” is like the greatest sermon, one that reinvigorates the mind and re-energizes the soul.
The single is part of a split single that is out now via Stupido Records. We don’t know who is in the band, but they are definitely one to watch. Speaking of which, if you’re in Helsinki on July 26th, catch them at the New Wave of Finnish Indie Rock 26.7. Elmun Baari event. Tickets are just eight Euros, and they are available here.
Room Six Eleven – “Ordinary Faces” (Athens, Greece)
RIYL: Shirley Bassey, Tameca Jones, Laura Jean Anderson,
Greek band Room Six Eleven are no strangers to these parts. They previously wowed us with their upbeat take of classic soul and funk. For their newest single, “Ordinary Faces”, they amaze in a much different way.
Unlike “Bad Times” and “Big Bad Wolf”, which made us get up on our feet and dance, “Ordinary Faces” sounds like it was made for a Bond film, specifically Dr. No or Dr. Strangelove. The soulful sounds of the ’70s are intertwined with 2000s’ symphonic pop to create a dark but stunning soundscape. The vibrant strings give the track an air of mystery, but the feathery percussion and the soothing vocals illuminate the song with glorious brightness. As the song builds, it begins to take on the feeling of 007 walking through the dark streets of Paris or Moscow and meeting someone he did not expect. Someone who may be his enemy or his latest bedside partner. We’ll let you decide on the path the song takes.
Check out the video to understand the actual purpose and true power of the song. It features the faces of dozens of individuals, celebrating the diversity of our planet.
Room Six Eleven is lead by Kyriakos Mourtzouchos, who is the composer, arranger, and producer and plays guitar, keys, and programming. He’s joined by vocalists Stevie, Kris Lee, and the Ghost. Instrumentation includes Mark Morgan (trumpet), Yoed Nir (cello and strings), and Sakis Bastas (bass). Aris Androutsos and John Kokkonouzis are co-songwriters.
Tempesst – “A Little Bit Of Trouble” (London, England via Sunshine Coast, Australia)
RIYL: Arctic Monkeys + Temples + FAIRCHILD
Gradually, Tempesst are carving out a space for themselves within the crowded UK and Australian indie scenes, and they’re doing it with the conventional Commonwealth ingenuity and flair. Sure they could be another folk-pop outfit or create boy band music, but what would that be? Plus, they wouldn’t get into scuffles over little things, which then becomes a sweltering summertime tune like “A Little Bit Of Trouble”.
The song splashes together A.M.-era Arctic Monkeys, the savory psychedelic pop of Temples, and the ’80s resurrection favored by their fellow English-via-Aussie counterparts FAIRCHILD, resulting in a tune perfect for sauntering along the sandy shores of Australia’s famed Gold Coast. The spiraling guitars, woodwinds, and strings are deliriously infectious while the rhythms and synths add a slice of suspense and darkness. Together they set the stage for an unexpected encounter and a night that the band will not forget. No, it’s not about a night of debauchery, but rather a pretty innocent thing. As the band state, “A Little Bit of Trouble” concerns “an incident at a pub in East London, (where) some guys were giving Andy a hard time about his jacket or hat or something and everyone was pretty drunk. The song was written to capture the memory for eternity.”
With a story and tune like this, summer indeed must be around the corner.
Tempesst are brothers Toma (vocals/guitars) and Andy Banjanin (drums), Eric Weber (guitars), Kane Reynolds (keys), and Blake Misipeka (bass). They are preparing for the release of their second EP, Doomsday, which is expected later this year.
Thus Owls – “Future/Past” (Montreal, Canada & Sweden)
RIYL: Portishead, London Grammar, Timber Timbre
We have long exalted the incredible music that is coming out of Montreal. To us, the Quebec metropolis is the home to Canada’s very best independent music. The list is extensive – from Arcade Fire to God Speed! You Black Emperor to Patrick Watson. Another innovative band that calls Montreal home are Thus Owls. The collective features original members Erika Angell and Simon Angell and drummer Samuel Joly; guitarists Laurel Sprengelmeyer of Little Scream), Michael Feuerstack, and Nicolas Basque from Plants and Animals; and bass player Marc-André Landry. The lineup alone tells you everything about the group – they are highly respected and musicians don’t hesitate to join them when asked. Their music, too, explains their greatness, as they cannot be pigeon-holed. If this is the first time you’re hearing about them, then “Future/Past” is the perfect introduction.
The tune, actually, is cinematic perfection. Erika’s voice are taut yet stunning, and her words are crippling. She intoxicating sings about the pain that trembles throughout her limbs and grapples her mind. But she won’t be tortured alone, as she says aloud to her tormentor, “I am in your future. I am in your past”. Behind her sits a smokey and enrapturing atmosphere. Jazz, alt-pop, avant-garde, and chamber pop dance in the air and converge to form a sound that is simply breathtaking and mesmerizing. A sound that personifies seduction, grace, and hypnotic all at once. Absolutely sensational.
The song is available on Bandcamp. Pick it up and support this creative and outstanding band.
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