Expect the unexpected on The Matinee ’18 June 28th edition. There are rockers and blissful dream-pop. You will also find some tunes that echo bygone eras. Be forewarned, however – don’t judge a book by its cover. Or in this case, just because a song sounds pleasant, its meaning may allude to something completely different. We kick things off with a band set for huge things this year, and they’re first because generally they’re the last one listed alphabetically. This is their time to shine.
Valley Queen – “Ride” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Angel Olsen, Big Thief, My Morning Jacket
For the better part of this year, we’ve exalted the brilliance of Valley Queen. We’ve also lamented not knowing about them sooner. Fortunately, we’re not too late to the party, and neither are you if this is your introduction to the LA-based indie-rock band. In a mere two weeks, specifically Friday, July 13th, their debut album, Supergiant, will be releaesed on Roll Call Records. Prior to its release, the quartet have shared the fourth and final single, and it’s another knee-buckler.
Sit down and strap in because Natalie Carol (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Neil Wogensen (bass/vocals), Shawn Morones (guitar/vocals), and Gerry Doot (drums) literally will take you for a “Ride”. Tracking in at just under five minutes, “Ride” is an emotional roller coaster. Musically, it resonates of My Morning Jacket’s early, slow-building rockers, such as powerhouses “The Way That He Sings” and “I Will Sing You Songs”. The final guitar solo, for instance, is Jim James- and Carl Broemel-esque, where you see images of the broad-haired guitar gods jamming in your mind.
Yet it is in Carol’s surging vocals and intimate lyrics that leave you in awe if not completely floored. It is an experience that one encounters when seeing Angel Olsen or Adrianne Lenker perform for the first time. While Carol’s lyrics are introspective, she brings you alongside her and makes you think this song is about you and her. That the two of you will eventually “meet on the other side” after living years apart. It’s a stunning number from one of the year’s biggest surprises. Needless to say, we cannot wait for Supergiant to arrive.
The Chamanas – “La Verdad” (Juarez, Mexico)
RIYL: Khruangbin, Hiatus Kaiyote, Kamasi Washington
A little more than a year ago, border band The Chamanas‘ popularity reached uncharted territory after they released a scintillating, Spanish cover of Portugal. The Man’s “Feel It Still”. The rendition introduced much of the world to Mexico’s little secret, and now the quartet are aiming to make further inroads with the release of their first English-language single, “La Verdad”.
Although front woman Paulina Reza sings in English, the band keep to their Latin roots and offer a groovy, mysterious, and sultry number. The song is meant for an unexpected rendez-vous, where two strangers flirt with their eyes from a distance, oblivious to everything happening around them. Come to think of it, this tune would be perfectly situated in a future 007 film, but spoken from the viewpoint of the woman he’s approaching. “I don’t think that I can know all the things hiding in your soul”, Reza seductively sings in the opening and the charade has begun. Will James Bond ever open his heart to anyone? He tried once before with Vesper Green, and maybe he’ll do it again and entrust his emotions in the hands of The Chamanas. We certainly will.
The band is comprised of Paulina Reza, Alejandro Bustillos, Manuel Calderon, and Hector Carreon. Their new album, NEA II – which is an updated version of their acclaimed 2017 NEA – arrives July 20th and includes five new songs.
Exploded View – “Raven Raven” (Berlin, Germany and Mexico City, Mexico)
RIYL: The Limiñanas, Wytches, Psychic Ills
What if Edgar Allan Poe was still alive and decided to create a band? What would the music sound like? Our guess is that his outfit would resemble the psychedelic krautrock of Exploded View, the multi-national quartet who will release their sophomore album, Obey, on September 28th via Sacred Bones Records. The first single from the forthcoming LP has the legendary poet’s fingerprints all over it.
“Raven Raven” is a stark, brooding, yet hypnotic number, and it is gloriously mind-altering. The taut instrumentation is deliriously executed, slowly approaching like a fog that follows a late-autumn storm. Its aftermath is just haze, where nothing can been seen other than a piercing beam of light. There is, however, always someone watching, as Poe told us in his iconic poem, The Raven. We may not see them, but eyes are peering at us right now, watching our every movement. Front woman Annika Henderson’s distant vocals and sinister lyrics share the same idea, except she knows who her stalkers are and she’s about to confront them with her own raven that sits on her shoulder.
Pre-orders for Obey are available here. The band consists of Swedish-born, Welsh-bred, Berlin-based Annika Henderson (vocals/synth) and Mexico City-based Martin Thulin (drums/guitar), Hugo Quezada (bass/synth), and Amon Melgarejo (synth/guitar).
Hater – “I Wish I Gave You More Time Because I Love You” & “It’s So Easy” (Malmö, Sweden)
RIYL: Yo La Tengo, Francis, Alvvays
After sharing an effortless debut album with You Tried and a blustery EP in Red Blinders, Swedish dream-pop quartet Hater consistently found ways to mesmerize us. It’s no wonder that we keep coming back to their deliciously sweet world every time they release a new single – or singles as is the case today. Well, Tuesday they released these songs, but I digress.
The first is the dazzling and exquisite “I Wish I Gave You More Time Because I Love You”. Dreamy and intoxicating, the song sounds like it came from Joni Mitchell’s long lost songbook during the Laurel Canyon days. The instrumentation is graceful, highlighted by Inge Petersson Lindbäck’s delicate saxophone. Caroline Landahl, meanwhile, weaves a spell with her soft vocals and wonderful songwriting. This isn’t another love song, but she eloquently describes the bonds that tie a family together and how they can frazzle under the strain.
“It’s So Easy”, meanwhile, is a sultry, little number that fuses a touch of old-school R&B with soft rock and jangly dream-pop. It sounds like something Astronauts, etc. or Toro y Moi would create. Lindbäck’s saxophone returns to give the track an extra dash of relaxation. Landahl’s lyrics, however, indicate the opposite – an uneasiness with oneself and an anxiety about how others view you. It’s a tremendously beautiful yet crippling number, but then again that is the power of Hater.
Both songs are taken from Hater’s forthcoming new album, Sienna, which is out September 28th via Fire Records. The band’s core members are Måns Leonartsson, Adam Agace, Lukas Thomasson, and Caroline Landahl.
The Joy Formidable – “The Wrong Side” (London, England via Flintshire, Wales)
RIYL: Silversun Pickups, Garbage, The Naked and Famous
After sharing the booming “Dance of the Lotus” last month, it was hoped The Joy Formidable would be announcing a new album by now. Well, it’s happened! Arriving on September 28th is AAARTH on their own Seradom label. To celebrate the occasion, Rhiannon Bryan (vocals/guitar), Rhydian Dafydd (bass), and Matthew James Thomas (drums) tease us on what is to come with “The Wrong Side”.
The single is the flip side to the intense “Dance”. This time around, the trio scale back the raucous intensity, and in its place is a slow-building, methodically lurching rocker. A rocker that will cause rhythmic head banging, and hearts flutter as a result of Bryan’s stunning vocals, which bellow through her sizzling guitar and Dafydd and Thomas’ pounding rhythms like a siren in the night. As the song progresses, it doesn’t reach mind-blowing territory, but instead The Joy Formidable take us somewhere else – a place that is full of color, is breathtaking, and is surprisingly exhilarating. To a place where optimism and hope still exist even if it is “The Wrong Side”.
We cannot wait for album #4 to arrive, especially since the band promise that it will be their most vibrant and experimental. These are words we love to read.
Mitski – “Nobody” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Donna Summer, St. Vincent, Japanese Breakfast
There is very little that Mitski Miyawaki cannot do. Everything she touches, everything she does is golden. There are only a handful of artist that we can say the same – Radiohead, Angel Olsen, St. Vincent, Young Fathers, Tame Impala, to name a few. All of these musicians share one common trait – imagination. They are constantly reinventing and challenging themselves, which Mitski does with “Nobody”.
Whereas as her previous single “Geyser” was a an unpredictable display of chaotic wonderment, “Nobody” is an unexpected, catchy disco-pop tune. Groovy rhythms, bubbly guitars, and sweltering synths and piano surge to form an immensely addictive melody. It is one part Donna Summer, another part Barry Manilow, a touch of St. Vincent, and 100% Mitski ambition. In particular, her trademark clever lyricism shines brightly, as she tells the tale of a young woman losing her identity in a world that is slowly disintegrating. It’s as if she’s living in The Twilight Zone, which is the effect that director Christopher Good produces in the song’s video. It’s included below and a must see.
Steady Holiday – “Nobody’s Watching” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Natalie Prass, Springtime Carnivore, Cat Power
Everyone has a go-to band or artist that they listen to when they’re down in the dumps and need a pick-me-up. Some prefer upbeat anthems or booming rockers, but a slice of summery alt- and dream-pop will also do the trick. As such, Dre Babinski’s project, Steady Holiday, should be on everyone’s short list. It’s not just the engrossing, perky melodies she crafts, but her stories are imaginative, witty, and sometimes even far-out (such as “More Than One Way” or “Halloween in November” from her 2017 Terror EP). You can’t help but smile, though, which is what “Nobody’s Watching” will do.
Musically, the song is stellar. The lighthearted melody and groovy rhythms will have shoulders shimmying, heads noodling, and mouths grinning. Babinski’s light, saccharine vocals, meanwhile, create a false sense of ease, creating a calming effect that makes you forget about everything around you. But then her lyrics suggest that maybe we should pay attention because when nobody’s watching that is when the hunters strike. That is when we become easy prey for the predatory animals and humans, which could be Babinski who is “sharpening her blade”. Kind of creepy, but this fun and creative tune is still smile-inducing. (OK, maybe this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to pick-me-ups.)
Babinski’s sophomore album, Nobody’s Watching, is out August 24th via Barsuk Records. Pre-order it on Bandcamp. Be forewarned, she’ll simultaneously dazzle and frighten you, which is a very rare gift.
Sudakistan – “Whiplash” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Thee Oh Sees, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Black Mekon
It’s safe to say that Sudakistan have ascended to near the top of Scandinavia’s psychedelic ladder, if they don’t already sit on the very top perch. The five-piece continue to lay down blistering, mind-warping tracks, such as “Two Steps Back” and “Concrete Jungle”. They take their craft to a whole different level, however, with their latest single, “Whiplash”, which is an absolute epic.
At more than six-and-a-half minutes, this number is the sledgehammer of psychedelic-rock songs. It never relents during its duration, commencing with Juan Jose Espindola’s feverish drum roll which feels like a flurry of jabs pounding your head. As the rest of the band joins in, front man Michell Serrano hollers, “Walking down the street and feeling invincible”, which is exactly how this song will make you feel. It’ll give you the energy to go outside and take on the world. This is, in other words, the anthem for the underdog who has been beaten down for too long. His strength grows as the track builds and reaches its furious climax. Serrano says, “I think I’ve found the way out”, but when the song ends we’ve found something else and something more important. A belief that nothing can stop us on this day or any other one.
Sudakistan are Michell Serrano (vocals/guitar), Maikel Gonzalez (bass), Arvid Sjöö (guitar), Carlos Amigo (percussion), and Juan Jose Espindola (drums). Their sophomore record, Swedish Cobra, drops September 7th via PNKSLM Recordings. Pre-order it here here.
Tombstones In Their Eyes – “Silhouette” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: A Place To Bury Strangers, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Black Angels
It’s been a little while since we shared a wall-trembling, skin-crawling, psychedelic-drenched, shoegaze number. Sure, it’s summer, and the music should be cheery, hopeful, and blissful. There is and always will be room for a song that brings in the darkness and shuts the sun out momentarily. For a song like “Silhouette” to cast its shadow upon us and make us feel icy cold inside.
The authors of this ominous figure are Tombstones In Their Eyes, who specifically are John Treanor (guitar/vocals/keyboards/songwriter), Josh Drew (guitar/backing vocals), Mike Mason (bass/guitar), and Stephen Striegel (drums). Together, they bottle up a raging, Midwestern storm and unleash its fury in a tight 212 seconds. Blistering, shoegaze guitars akin to My Bloody Valentine are the lightning while the booming rhythms are the hammering thunder that rattles every chest within striking distance. Treanor’s fuzzed-out yet immersive vocals are the rain, drenching us with his words about losing our concept of self. Losing ourselves within the war being waged around us. Although we may lose our senses, our bodies, our silhouettes, still remain. It’s a frightening thought because it is quite plausible.
Tombstones In Their Eyes’ new EP, Nothing Here, drops August 24th, and it is available for pre-order here. These guys should be opening for A Place To Bury Strangers.
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