As Sunday was Canada Day and tomorrow is the Fourth of July, we had to celebrate the great music coming for these two countries. The Matinee ’18 July 3rd – North America Edition features six songs. Rockers to heartfelt ballads to groovy experimental electro-pop are all on the mini-playlist. The list is in reverse alphabetical order, and a band we’ve been fans of before The Revue kicks things off.
Slothrust – “Peach” (Los Angeles via Boston, USA)
RIYL: Speedy Ortiz, Camp Cope, Veruca Salt
We had an inkling earlier in the year that Leah Wellbaum (vocals/guitar), Kyle Bann (bass), and Will Gorin (drums) – a.k.a. Slothrust – would be sharing a new album since they tend to release one every two years. Lo and behold, they announced on Friday that indeed a record is coming. Also in another very Slothrust fashion, the first single takes its name from inanimate object.
“Peach” is the tune, and it is 100% Slothrust. That means it’s 100% indie-rock awesomeness. The song commences innocently enough with a shimmering, alternative-rock vibe out of the late ’90s. It then slowly builds into a ferocious number with Gorin hammering hard on his drum kit and Bann walloping his bass line. Wellbaum, meanwhile, unleashes fury with her electric guitar, booming vocals, and powerful lyrics. She opens up about her childhood when she was “as soft as a peach” and someone bullied her.
Elves and giants.
Little turtle, kindergarten.
You were so mean to me then,
But no one is mean to me now.”
Now look who’s having the last laugh and “winning this debate”. Wellbaum and Slothrust’s victory lap will commence September 14th. On that date, their new album, The Pact, is out via Dangerbird Records
Sjowgren – “Better Off” (San Francisco / Oakland, USA)
RIYL: Doe Paoro, Freedom Fry, Blondfire
Although Sjowgren have been around for a few years, the enigmatic band were one of our Favorite Hidden Gems from 2017. We were a little late in celebrating the artistry of this talented Bay-area band. We’re also a little late in sharing their “newest” single, “Better Off”, which was actually released five weeks ago.
“Better Off” is actually one of Sjowgren’s older songs. As they explain (click the image to the left), they had written this tune “a while back” and imagined that Kacey Musgraves or Miley Cyrus would perform it. Instead of sending the tune to their management, they opted to release it themselves and in the original format. The recording, as such, is an un-mastered version, but it still sounds glorious.
The folk-pop approach is intimate and exquisite, reminiscent of the stirring approach of Freedom Fry with the intimate pop sensibilities of Doe Paoro. While the arrangements are superb – the delicate acoustic guitar, the soft rhythms, and wistful synths – the heavenly vocals carry the track. Her voice possesses the intimacy of a bedroom chat, and her lyrics are heartfelt and honest, as she reveals her love for someone yet her fear in falling in love and, thus, be left vulnerable. Hopefully, though, she will eventually find security. We also hope we get to learn the identities of Sjowgren one day because a band this good should not stay under the radar.
The Purrs – “Late Night Disturbance” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: The Black Angels, Jesus and The Mary Chain, Spiritualized
It’s no secret that we love a great tune that mixes eerie, spine-chilling atmospherics with even more gripping storytelling. As such, it should be no surprise that we were immediately enchanted by “Late Night Distrubance”, the brand new single from the underrated Seattle rockers, The Purrs.
The track is brilliant. There is no other way to describe the tune. It combines the psychedelic wonderlands of The Black Angels with the alternate realities that Spiritualized have perfected in their storytelling. The intro sets the stage for the “Late Night Disturbance”, as the chiming guitar opens eyes and grabs everyone’s attention. When the rhythms emerge, the suspense builds, and you’re permanently engaged. This is the sound of a dystopian world, where everything is about to change. Where everything has changed, as in this authoritarian place “it is open season on us again”. Maybe this isn’t so much an alternate reality, but it is reality. It is the life that many people live today across the world, including in the country that prides itself as the “land of the free” and the “land of opportunity”.
The band consists of Jima (bass/vocals), Jason Milne (guitar/backing vocals), Liz Herrin (guitar/backing vocals), Dusty Hayes (drums/backing vocals).
Ovlov – “Stick” (Newtown, CT, USA)
RIYL: early Death Cab for Cutie, Purling Hiss, Ride
[Disclaimer: credit for pointing out the next song goes to Neil Dewhurst, who had a cool blog Record Rewind Play and moderates an online forum focused on new alternative music.]
Before the boom of the internet, the best way to discover new music was subscribing to a magazine that offered a free compilation CD (like CMJ, which became a casualty of the internet). These discs often possessed songs by up-and-comers like Death Cab for Cutie, Neutral Milk Hotel, Pavement, and Dinosaur Jr. If Connecticut indie-rock outfit Ovlov was around then, they certainly would have been on one of these compilations. Fortunately for them, the internet has benefited them, as they’ve amassed a solid following – despite a five-year hiatus – that should only rise over time as they continue to release songs like “Stick”.
Akin to Death Cab for Cutie’s fuzzed-out early years mixed with Ride, Steve Hartlett (vocals/guitar), Theo Hartlett (drums/vocals), Morgan Luzzi (guitar), and Boner (bass), the quartet deliver a tune straight out of the college-radio years. The combination of shimmering guitar riffs, teetering percussion, and luminous vocals are mesmerizing. For nearly three-and-a-half minutes, your gaze is transfixed, and your ears wide open to their story. It’s a story of friendship, the trials and tribulations that come with it, and the unbreakable bonds that are forged from months, years on the road.
Hosannas – “Visions” (Portland, USA)
RIYL: Toro y Moi, alt-J, Disclosure
As we’ve quickly discovered this year, brothers Brandon and Richard Laws – a.k.a. Hosannas – have a unique gift of creating color and imagery through their music. With “Guitar Cop”, they painted the image of a dense fog slowly enveloping the Rose City. Their newest single, “Visions”, meanwhile, is a continuation of this theme, but in this case it is the sun gradually breaking through the suspended ice crystals, illuminating the landscape, and warming up our souls.
“Visions” isn’t the typical summer anthem, but it is undoubtedly a smooth, groovy ride. The multiple layers in the track are brilliantly assembled and orchestrated, where no single element sounds out of place. If you listen closely, you’ll notice three distinct yet complementary phases within the track.
The intro is calm and luminous like seeing the sun for the first time that day. The slight bumps of the synth and dreamy harmonies heat up the air and prepare us for what is to come. Phase two is the heat, as the titillating rhythms take over and are supported by the strums of the dissonant guitar and the shallow production work. This is the time to dance underneath the sun’s gorgeous rays. The last half is the approaching nightfall. The shimmering keyboard work drive the final minute and give the track its nocturnal vibe, at which point we’re left at ease and in a transient state.
If you think these tunes are cool, wait for their new album, Picture Him Protecting You, to drop on July 12th via Fresh Selects. Pre-orders for the LP are at Bandcamp plus these other streaming/purchase links.
Dizzy – “Joshua” (Oshawa, ON, Canada)
RIYL: Basement Revolver, Alvvays, Jazz Morley
Southern Ontario quartet Dizzy have percolated under the radar the past couple of years, although those-in-the-know have been proclaiming their indie-pop excellence. It’s not that the outfit can spin Carly Rae Jepsen-esque tunes better than the famed British Columbian, but they mix sugar ear-worms with considerate songwriting. No wonder a couple of excellent labels have signed them and betting on brothers Alex (guitar), Mackenzie (bass), and Charlie (drums) Spencer and Katie Munshaw (vocals) to be Canada’s next big indie-pop band. Now with their debut album just a mere seven weeks away, Dizzy have shared a single that will bring you to your knees.
While most bands would receive a rocker or a dance-inducing number, the Oshawa quartet have opted to share the emotional and intimate “Joshua”. It is a beautiful, solemn ballad that will tug at even the most stoic person’s heart strings. The light and low-key instrumentation, highlighted by a great bass line, provides the canvas to Munshaw’s reflective lyrics. As she explains, the tune is “a goodbye to someone who left my life unexpectedly”, and she memorializes him in this gorgeous tune. Listen closely to her words, as she describes the person Joshua was, the memories they shared, and how his passing affected her. Listen closely so you, too, will cherish the moments with the people you love most.
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