The Matinee ’18 July 5th edition is a global affair. Several countries are represented, and there is a wide-range of genres, too. Be prepared to be dazzled as well as to dance and rock out.

Boniface – “Dear Megan” (Winnipeg, Canada)

RIYL: Postal Service, The 1975, CHVRCHES

While artists with lesser talent play to sold-out shows, Micah Visser continues to apply his trade as Boniface and playing to smaller audiences. The individuals who will pack London’s Hoxton Bar & Kitchen on November 6th and saw him at SXSW and Great Escape, however, already know about the Manitoba native’s immense talents. He’s no one-trick pony, but instead he’s like a younger version of Dan Bejar – a chameleon at his craft and you never know what he will come up with next. One moment, he’s Cass McCombs. The next, he’s like a modern-day Rick Astley. Today, he’s reviving synth-pop a la Postal Service with “Dear Megan”.

The song is dynamite. It’s fun, groovy, and exhilarating, and it bursts with a chorus that will be permanently implanted in your mind. With such songs there are only three things to do – stand up, dance, and yell at the top of your lungs. While you’re doing this, make sure your loved one is next to you so that you can experience the cathartic euphoria together while hollering:

“Meet me in the middle of the night, it’s easy (repeat three times).
Meet me in the flat Earth, baby!”

The single is out now via Transgressive Records. Eventually, everyone will know Visser’s name. He’s too good of a talent to ignore.

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Echo Ladies – “Overrated” (Malmö, Sweden)

RIYL: No Joy, Lush, Trementina

Last month, Swedish dreamgaze trio, Echo Ladies, released their dazzling debut album, Pink Noise. The LP went under the radar, but it is one that every shoegaze fan should own. If you’re still on the fence about getting it, then listen to “Overrated”, and you’ll immediately change your mind.

The song is reminiscent of the time when bands like Lush, Cocteau Twins, and Slowdive were the all the buzz. Shimmering, breathtaking, and transcendent, “Overrated” is all of these things and then some. It is a song that not only belongs in your library, but it should also find its place in a film where the protagonist is running towards her destiny. Running towards her inevitable freedom and a place she finds peace. Kind of like what this song and the entire album will do to you.

Echo Ladies are Matilda Bogren, Joar Andersen, and Mattis Andersson. Pink Noise is available via Hybris and Sonic Cathedral, and it can be purchased on Bandcamp.

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Gringo Star – “Watchdog” (Atlanta, USA)

RIYL: Allah-Lahs, The Growlers, Night Beats

Well, this is more like it. After sharing the surprisingly dreamy and melodic “Easy” three weeks ago, Gringo Star return to familiar weird and wacky grounds with “Watchdog”, which is, as expected, awesome.

Part garage rock, part surf rock, and plenty of spaghetti western, the tune is like The Growlers on a major acid trip through the Mojave Desert, but they’ve been transported back to the 1860s. Another way to think of the track is Josey Wales jaunting through Venice Beach, where the past and the present unexpected converge. Not surprisingly, Gringo Star’s formula yields an entertaining and tremendously catchy tune, particularly Peter Furgiuele’s tripped-out vocals and the combination of the groovy rhythms and chiming guitar. If Quentin Tarantino is thinking of creating another film that re-imagines the wild, wild west, “Watchdog” should be on the shortlist for its soundtrack.

Gringo Star are Peter Furgiuele, Nicholas Furgiuele, Josh Longino, Mario Colangelo, and Spencer Pope. Their fifth album, Back To The City, touches down August 24th via Nevado Music. It is available for pre-order on Bandcamp and iTunes.

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HINDU – “Weakest Spot” (Kyiv, Ukraine)

RIYL: Kristin Kontrol, Devojka, Leftfield

In little less than a year, producer and singer-songwriter Tania Yankovska has enchanted us with her indietronica project Hindu. Her music isn’t the blasting club nor tropical music dominating the circuit, but instead hers comes from the days when Leftfield and Underworld were the giants of the underground electronic scene. Their songs weren’t only meant for dance floors, but they were also meant to be heard in the private confines of one’s home, where one can truly be immersed in the mind-controlling elements of each song. The Kyiv native possesses a similar talent, which is unveiled on the aptly-titled “Weakest Spot”.

The taut production work and Yankovska’s quaint vocals create a hypnotic effect. For nearly five minutes, the combination entrances and keeps you suspended in place, yet your mind is spinning. You may wonder why this is the case, but it’s not just the superb arrangements of percolating beats and harsh synths. Yankovska’s lyrics are affecting our thoughts, as she brilliantly tells a story about an external force that knows how to “steal your heart” and govern you. Hopefully one day soon, Hindu will be winning the hearts of all indietronica fans around the globe.

The single is out now via Manimal Vinyl, who will also release Hindu’s sophomore album later this year.

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Mari Mari – “The Happiest Boy On Earth” (feat. Parks, Squares And Alleys) (Vladivostok, Russia)

RIYL: Real Estate, Wild Nothing, Day Wave

In the search for some beach vibes, we head not to Los Angeles nor Sydney. Not even Brooklyn, London, or Barcelona. Instead, our travels take us all the way to Vladivostok, Russia, where a little band that has opted the name of a Borneo village resides. Iliya Kanuhin (vocals), Alexey Kozhevnikov (guitar), Maxim Matyunin (bass/vocals), and Yuriy Korotkov (drums) are Mari Mari, and just one listen to their newest single, “The Happiest Boy On Earth”, will immediately lead to comparisons to Real Estate.

Like the famed New Jersey indie band, the Russian quartet have created a song that feels like a cool summer breeze. Sun-kissed, jangly guitar riffs; a bouncy bass line; and head-grooving percussion and keys merge together to deliver the smooth, radiant vibes. Kanuhin’s breathy and lush vocals are blissful, leaving us in a relaxed and calm state and making us feel like we have found a little serenity. His lyrics, though, indicate a man who is just plain tired with the world and the pretentious around him. Instead of doing something ridiculous, however, he’s just going home where he’s the happiest. As Dorothy once said, “There’s no place like home.”

This is Mari Mari’s second single in a month, and their first in over two years. Most of their songs are in Russian, but they’re still worth checking out on SoundCloud.

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Moon Panda – “Rabbit” (Brighton/London, England)

RIYL: Warpaint, Beirut, Men I Trust

We approach the point in the mini-playlist where we say to ourselves, “How come we didn’t know about this band before?” We also wonder out loud just who the band is because we know very little about Moon Panda. All we can gather is that the quartet features an American, a Dane, and two Brits. The band actually were a trio based in San Diego before settling in England, which suggests at least one of Maddy Myers, Gustav Moltke, George Godwin, and Alfie Webber is a globetrotter. Finally settled down, Moon Panda are applying their trade in the great city of Brighton, where they can seriously experiment and further mould their “psychedelic space rock”. Mould into something awesome like “Rabbit”.

Be forewarned, this tune is seductive – check that it is SEDUCTIVE! The brooding, smokey approach creates the sultry atmosphere, as if we have just walked into a jazz bar where no one knows our name. Myers’ soft vocals, meanwhile, are intoxicating. At first, it seems like she’s whispering sweet-nothings into our ears, but her words describe how one person has become stuck in a toxic relationship. However, she cannot let go. She is instead caught in the web of her partner like a rabbit in a snare. Her lyrics are biting and brilliant, particularly the line, “I love you like a rabbit loves their hopelessness”. Those nine words succinctly articulate Myers’ storyline and the experience far too many people face today.

The single is out on My Little Empire Records. Hopefully, we’ll get to learn more about Moon Panda, and we’ll be like Neo and follow the white rabbit until we do.

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Pale Grey – “Hunter” (Brussels, Belgium)

RIYL: alt-J, Future Islands, The National

Are the Pale Grey the best indie band in Belgium? If they aren’t, they sure are awfully close to the top. The veteran quartet of Gilles, Maxime, Janjannes, and Simon have been around for over a decade, but it is only in the past year or two where their popularity has extended beyond Central Europe. And it’s about time. Hopefully more people will recognize how brilliant they are. How they are Belgium’s answer to alt-J, Future Islands, and The National – basically all three of those giants rolled into one tidy package. As evidence, spin “Hunter”.

The light, groovy, and unshakeable melody is addictive, thanks in large part to a great bass line and the masterful mixing of the taut percussion and the sprite synths and electronic work. Gilles’ songwriting is Matt Berninger-esque, as he weaves a tale about a person trying to convince another to escape and come live with him in America. But there is irony in his lyrics since the USA is no longer what it use to be. It’s not the place where one can seek asylum, start a new life, and live the American dream.

“Be strong, trust me you have my word.
There is no way to go backwards, anymore.
I try to fix it all, I promise.”

The single is out on JauneOrange. Pale Grey are on a mini-tour right now, and they’ll be in Quebec for a few dates, including performing at the prestigious Festival d’été de Québec. Find dates and information here.

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Rubblebucket – “Lemonade” (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: David Byrne, Kamasi Washington, San Fermin

When Kalmia Traver and Alex Toth founded Rubblebucket eleven years ago, they completely re-wrote the music playbook. Forget the classic four-piece setup and sticking to a single genre. They did everything from mixing funk, jazz, and pop to putting the marching band into art-pop. It may seem like an overstatement to compare them to a young David Byrne, but they possess the same innovative spirit and “who-gives-two-cents” attitude. With their new album, Sun Machine, arriving in six weeks, those not-already-in-the-know will understand what we’re talking about, and “Lemonade” offers a taste of what was and what is to come.

“Lemonade” is a brilliant mélange of jazz, funk, R&B, art-pop, and electro-pop with a splash of Vaudeville. It is an ear-popping number that sounds like the outcome of a collaboration between Kamasi Washington, Michael Kiwanuka, and St. Vincent. While there are some outstanding moments (such as the blistering trumpet at the climax and the funky rhythms in the mid-section), not a single element dominates, which speaks to Traver and Toth’s ingenuity. Well, maybe two elements shine more brightly – Traver’s emotional vocals and Toth’s lyrics, which are written from Traver’s point of view. She poetically sings about a love affair that has ended, comparing it to a submarine and a “big blue whale that’s tainted by the sonar”. Simply a masterpiece of sonic and literary art.

Sun Machine officially rises over the horizon on August 24th via Grand Jury Music. Pre-order it here. The LP documents the past five years of Traver’s and Toth’s lives. This includes Traver’s diagnosis and recovery from ovarian cancer (which she covered on her solo debut album as Kalbells), Toth’s three-year battle with alcoholism, and their dissolution of their personal relationship.

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SLEEP EATERS – “Ghost On Fire” (London, England)

RIYL: Wavves, FIDLAR, The Strokes

If you’re looking for a quick adrenaline boost, you’ve come to the right place. As such, strap on the headphones or turn up the speakers, then prepare to rock out like it’s 1983. Prepare to rock out like you’re stuck in a grimy London bar and all the patrons are having a mega-blast. That’s the energy that London newcomers SLEEP EATERS channel on their debut single, “Ghost On Fire”.

The quartet of Glenn, Danny, Sean, and Will are like The Strokes meshed with Wavves, yielding a raucous, spaghetti western-infused garage-rock sound that induces people to bounce, run up the walls, and maybe even mosh a bit. The guitar work is classic but outstanding. The rhythms are like jackhammers pounding on the pavement. An air of Julian Casablancas rings in the vocals, wailing with the urgency of a desperate man seeking to see the sun once again. To rise from his grave and seek his vengeance before his flame is eternally extinguished. Simply awesome.

Single is out on Strong Island Recordings. If you’re in London on Saturday, head to Big Vibrations in Hackney Wick. SLEEP EATERS will be performing this track and other tunes. Joining them on the bill are The Rebel (Ben Wallers of Country Teasers) and The Honkies. Tickets are just five quid and available here.

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