We once again whirl around the world and across genres to represent some fine new music. The Matinee ’18 July 12th has the usual nine selections. It’s a very diverse group, featuring indietronica, ’90s Brit-wave, film-noir, post-punk, indie folk, indie rock, guitar-pop, and shoegaze. There’s also a retro vibe to the majority of songs.
Champagne Superchillin’ – “Gipsy Ferrari” (Brooklyn, USA via Nashville, USA & France)
RIYL: Melody’s Echo Chamber, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Juanita Stein
Fate is a funny thing, where a series of fortunate events yields an unforgettable adventure. For Juliette Buchs, it started the day she met an American musician who would later become her husband take her to Nashville. There she met Ben Trimble (keys/guitar) and Charles Garmendia (drums), and Champagn Superchillin’ was born.
Nashville, however, wouldn’t be their home for long, as the trio took their act to Brooklyn. It was a necessary move because their film-noir-inspired, psychedelic-pop is made to be heard in Williamsburg and even MOMA or the Guggenheim. In other words, their music is like a post-modern art installation but one that is accessible. Maybe if they had an exhibit in one of these great museums, they would be more popular than they are. For instance, if the tens of thousands of people who visit both institutions heard “Gipsy Ferrari”, they would unquestionably be Shazam-ing the song and discover their new favorite band.
The five-minute track is indeed a wonderful piece of contemporary art. It is multi-layered and multi-faceted, commencing with a film-noir meets spaghetti western vibe. Buchs’ vocals are enchanting, not just because she sings in French but her voice is lush and angelic. She weaves a spellbinding story of want and desire, but the mystery gets interrupted by a distorted voice and a mechanized hum that sounds like it came from deep space. Then unexpectedly, a solemn piano closes the number, taking us from a hypnotic state to the confines of a smokey jazz club. The song is a trip, but one that is simply memorable.
Favours – “In The Night” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Ultravox, Gary Numan, Young Galaxy
Tomorrow is Friday the 13th, and for those who are a bit superstitious the night will be black. A new moon will be present, so who knows what will be lurking in the shadows. The convergence of these two events requires a song that fits the occasion, and fortunately Toronto newcomers Favours have arrived on the scene with their new single, “In The Night”.
Influenced by the British new wave scene of the ’70s and ’80s, Parth Jain, Alexander Zen, Jacqueline Andrade, and Dan Bothen have brilliantly captured the sound of darkness. The spooky harmonies and even eerier soundscape, which is highlighted by the searing synth, are spine-tingling, causing you to think about what surrounds you as dusk approaches. Making you think about the eyes that may be watching you and the people, fears, and emotions that “keeps me living in the dark, cold night”. It’s not just this day, however, that these feelings overcome us, but every day. This feeling of being stuck in a world where external forces have established our routines and entrapped us in this repetitive world. And yet, this is “the life that we chose”.
Look out for this cool, little band.
FEHM – “Scarborough Warning” (Leeds, England)
RIYL: Joy Division, New Order, Depeche Mode, City Calm Down
How did we miss this?! Last Saturday, FEHM released a split single, “Scarborough Warning/The Sea To Come”. The two tracks are pretty awesome, but we’re sharing “Sharing Warning” because, to be honest, it’s the one on SoundCloud. It’s also awesome.
While most of their previous songs were cathartic in the Preoccupations-style of post-punk, the Leeds-based quintet go more in the new wave direction on this tune, which mixes Depeche Mode’s mid-career, Goth-inspired approach with the hypnotism of New Order’s darker numbers (think “Ceremony”). Like those bands, FEHM have crafted a memorable track that belongs in the upper-echelons of the genre, if not modern-day Brit music. From the crystalline guitar that cuts through the swirling synths and hypnotic rhythms to Paul Riddle’s brooding vocals, every element is delivered with perfection. With such execution comes only one other word – masterpiece and this includes the poetic prose.
“And we sink or swim as the ship goes down.”
This is how we feel about Paul Riddle (vocals), Amy Fishlock (bass), Chris Lodge (drums), Darren Lord (synths), and Ben Holmes (guitar). They simply are one of the great post-punk/darkwave bands around.
Hanssen x Secret School – “Felt” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Underworld, Tycho, Maribou State
You, like us, probably did a double take to see if this song was from the ’90s sibling band Hanson. No, it’s not, and the Hanssen in question is Seattle-based producer Brit Hansen. So no she’s isn’t into making boy-band pop tunes and writing songs with the words “MMMbop”. For that matter, her music is wordless and ethereal. For her latest single, she has collaborated with fellow Seattle native, Massachusetts resident Andrew Sutherland – a.k.a. Secret School – and the pair have crafted a remarkable single
The best way to describe “Felt” is that it belongs in an iMAX documentary. Specifically, it would be perfectly placed in a documentary that explains the existence of Earth in relation to the rest of the galaxy, and how water and space collide. The production work is exquisite, and the two inexplicably create an aquatic-like soundscape within a cosmic environment. It’s rich and complex yet enchanting, lush, and, not surprisingly, breathtaking. A song that will leave every listener in awe.
The song is taken from Hush Hush Records‘ forthcoming compilation album, HH100, which is out August 3rd.
Lala Lala – “Destroyer” (Chicago, USA via London, England)
RIYL: Girlpool, Hop Along, Car Seat Headrest
Yesterday, Stereogum called Lillie West’s project Lala Lala a band to watch, and there’s no way that we can argue with that sentiment. We actually would concur because West’s new single, “Destroyer”, has major “wow” factor.
It chimes with the intimate indie-rock of Girlpool and Hop Along with dashes of Car Seat Headrest. However, for fans of ’80s and ’90s indie rock, another artist will come to mind. That is Liz Phair. As the lo-fi, rhythm guitar reverberates in the background and is interrupted by the chimes of another, West’s vocals waver from deadpan to a swelling storm. “You are the reason my heart broke behind my back”, she sings in the chorus to inform us of a moment in time where she was devastated. Beyond this section, however, are more revealing lines, where she explains the many times she was her own destroyer as she tried to grapple with the impact of the event. It’s a beautifully raw number that will resonate with many, and one to be applauded for its fearlessness.
Neonic Sundrive – “I Can’t See Your Eyes” (Moscow, Russia)
RIYL: Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Trementina
We love surprises, and this unexpected gem from Moscow delivers. Think of young outfit Neonic Sundrive as Russia’s version of Slowdive, and you’ll be in for a magnificent treat. One that takes you back to the late ’80s and early ’90s when shoegaze was taking off and everyone wanted to create music that simultaneously made hearts flutter and got the blood flowing. With this setup, hit play to listen to “I Can’t See Your Eyes” and get ready for one unforgettable ride.
The duel guitars and punchy rhythms are all classic, which cause some to bop and dance and others to stare at their laces while pretending to blast cosmic riff from their air guitar. The lyrics have an air of an ’80s coming-of-age film, as the boy-girl harmonies reveal a tale of being lost inside another person and being lost without them. Neonic Sundrive, however, offer another surprise in the final 50 seconds. Instead of finishing with a blast, they slow things down and end with a dreamy, introspective note. It’s like the descent from space, where we have reached our destination in hopes of finding the one.
The single is available on Bandcamp, so go get it!
Phantastic Ferniture – “Bad Timing” (Sydney / Blue Mountains region, Australia)
RIYL: The Cardigans, Sunflower Bean, Savoir Adore
After releasing a couple of singles (or re-releasing one as was the case with “Gap Year”), the focus of Phantastic Ferniture‘s forthcoming debut album is getting clearer – the trio are paying homage to the music their parents listened to in their younger years while putting a modern spin. Single number three, “Bad Timing”, further exhibits the contemporary retro vibes of this fast-rising Aussie band.
Those who grew up listening to ’80s and early ’90s music will hear several influences. The Cardigans, Belinda Carlisle, The Pretenders, and even a bit of Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks ring throughout this groovy. Like the music of the era, this tune will have people in a dancing mood or encourage them to get into their cars and just go for a joy ride. Should you choose the latter, you might just find yourself racing after the one person who got away. Going after the man or woman who you loved at the time the stars did not align. Or you can resign yourself to the fact that everyone must move one, which is what front woman Julia Jacklin lushly sings.
“Should I go or stay and expire,
But you keep on waiting for someone,
To get the courage to run.”
Phantastic Ferniture are Ryan K Brennan (drums), Liz Hughes (guitar), and Julia Jacklin (vocals). The video above depicts the band donning ferns as heads, which obviously is a play on their name. And possibly more.
Sun Mahshene – “Tales of Fiction” (Dublin, Ireland)
RIYL: Ride, Jesus and The Mary Chain, The Killers
Shoegaze is a lot more diverse than people know. Most associated with the dreamy, cosmic numbers that Slowdive created (and displayed by Neonic Sundrive above), but it can also be dark and exhilarating. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, for instance, infuse a lot of shoegaze into their dark neo-psychedelia. A Place To Bury Strangers layered shoegaze with post-punk and krautrock elements. Even bands like U2, The Killers, and Snow Patrol have adopted some of the shoelace gazing into their music. This just shows that shoegaze can also be titanic and anthemic, which is what Irish collective Sun Mahshene have done with “Tales of Fiction”.
Hold on your to your hats and buckle in because this song is an explosive ride. The only moment of reprieve occurs in the opening drum roll, and after that the track builds and accelerates. It’s one part Ride and Jesus and The Mary Chain and another part The Killers, which, in other words, is a song meant to be played in the cavernous enclaves of Slane Castle or Hyde Park. There’s no way an enclosed arena could contain the power, ferocity, and energy of this track. The trio of guitars blaze the trail while the rhythms and keys are the thunder that follows the lightning strikes. In their wake are people like us who are left stunned from the storm that has passed.
Another storm awaits come October, when Sun Mahshene’s debut album, Contradictions & Tales of Fiction, arrives. The band consists at any one time Nathan Henderson (guitar/vocals), Ian McGinn (guitar), Ryan Daffy (guitar/backing vocals), Darren Hughes (bass), Ray Burke (percussion/backing vocals), David Murray (drums/percussion), Robert Crosbie (keys), and Raagini (drones).
VON GREY – “Dawn” (Atlanta, USA)
RIYL: First Aid Kit, The Staves, Wild Child
The first time we were introduced to sister-group Von Grey was in October 2014. At the time, they played a SoFar Sounds gig in Austin, which Wendy attended. They were a four-piece then, but youngest sibling, Petra (who was probably 14 at the time), has opted to focus on her studies (and we applaud her for that decision). In the meantime, her older sisters, Annika (vocals/violin/guitar/keys), Fiona (vocals/guitar/violin/percussion), and Kathryn (cello/bass pedals/keys/background vocals), continue to make a name for themselves within the indie-folk / alt-country / Americana scene. Their popularity has increased so much that they’re now playing capacity-filled concert halls. The SoFar Sounds days are behind them, but their gorgeous harmonies and wonderful songwriting remain, as evidenced with “Dawn”.
Stunning is the only way to describe this song. Well, breathtaking and enrapturing would be two other adjectives. The instrumentation is low-key, featuring just an acoustic guitar and the occasional piano strike. This simple structure allows for the trio’s gorgeous voices to shine. The harmonies are moving and powerful, yet they are intimate and soothing. The combination creates the feeling that they singing inside a church and directly to the congregation as oppose to preaching to them. They have, as such, brought us alongside them as they share a story of sisterhood, love, and togetherness. A story of community that exists all around us and one that gets stronger when one is in need or has been harmed.
“Sinking bones and tired feet.
Bruises on your rosy cheeks.
Where will you find retribution?
Your new home.
I’ll carry you, I’ll carry your my sister.
It’s time to find a path of least resistance.
Hope will be in the light corners of the dark.”
The song is taken from their forthcoming EP, In Bloom: Acoustic, which is July 20th. We long for the day when we get to see them at Newport Folk Festival.
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