The Matinee ’18 September 6th edition is a treasure chest of new music delights, featuring a broad spectrum of genres from artists from across the globe. Some tunes will get you jumping, others will leave you lost in memory and thought, and some may even perplex you. Sit back and enjoy this mini-playlist.
The Twilight Sad – “Videograms” (Kilsyth, Scotland)
RIYL: The Cure, Editors, Interpol
Few bands can claim the distinction of being Robert Smith’s favorite band. The Cure frontman is not only a fan of Scottish indie rock outfit The Twilight Sad; he personally picked them to tour with The Cure. He covered one of their songs. This summer they played Smith’s CURATION 25 concert in London. This is when Sad vocalist James Graham shared some of their new material. Now the Kilsyth-based melancholics have revealed Robert Smith is assisting them on their fifth studio LP, It Won/t Be Like This All The Time. It’s due early next year and features the stunning “Videograms.”
Sleek and pulsing, this tune showcases the band’s growth. While their dark edge still prevails (as heard on the smoldering “I/m Not Here [missing face]” single released in July), they dial back the brooding intensity a bit here. Still, there is no removing the intensity from James Graham. His is one of the purest voices in modern music. But the elevation of former touring members Johnny Doherty and Brendan Smith to full-time brings more balance to their overall sound. The instrumentation shines as Graham’s flawlessly nuanced vocals soar atop. Prepare for chills many times throughout, but especially on the closing lines: “I’m afraid to tell you when you’re wrong.”
It Won/t Be Like This All the Time arrives January 19, 2019 via Rock Action Records with pre-orders here. The band’s autumn tour begins next month in California and wraps November 29 back in Edinburgh.
The Twilight Sad are: James Graham (vocals), Andy McFarlane (guitar), Johnny Docherty (bass), Brendan Smith (keys), and Sebastien Schultz (drums).
BATTS – “Gun” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Sharon Van Etten, Cloves, Eliza Shaddad
In a country teaming with gifted singer-songwriters like Julia Jacklin, Stella Donnelly, Courtney Barnett, and others, Australia is welcoming home another. After spending time in London, Tanya Batt – who is better known a BATTS – has come home. She marks her return with a song that redefines the phrase “beautifully devastating”.
Sit down because “Gun” will rattle your bones and make you gasp in shock like a five-star thriller. With its dissonant guitar and light rhythms, the song is melancholic in its approach, yet it is masterfully suspenseful in its tone. Batt’s stunning voice emerges from the bleak and foggy expanse and shares a story that a screenwriter like Nic Pizzolatto (True Detective) would craft. It’s a tale of one woman waiting for her either her partner – the “irresponsible drinker”, “irrational thinker” – to return home. He instead does the unthinkable and never returns home. Repeatedly replay the track to truly appreciate Batt’s incredible but knee-buckling storytelling.
The single is out now via THAA Records. Her debut album is expected early in 2019.
The Dahmers – “Man Obsessed” (Kristianstad, Sweden)
RIYL: Conan Mockasin, Ariel Pink, The Kinks
The Dahmers have established a reputation as Sweden’s equivalent to Ty Segall. It’s not necessarily due to their sound – The Dahmers are a flamboyant and quirky punk-pop and garage-rock band whereas Segall turns reverb into an art from. Instead, like Segall, the Swedish quartet are constantly releasing new material. If it’s not a new full-length or mini-record, they’re sharing a new single. These guys are relentless workers, and they’re about to release their sixth compilation in a matter of 22 months. The first single from Down In The Basement perfectly summarizes the band’s music.
“Man Obsessed” is one fun, groovy, wacky, and quick tune. Coming in at just 97 seconds, The Dahmers are able to jam even sizzling guitar riffs, rumbling rhythms, and clever lyrics to fill a 5-minute tune. The song is one part ’50s/’60s Brit rock ‘n roll and another part contemporary psychedelic garage-rock. It’ll have people wiggling their hips and shaking their heads while giggling to the lyrics because we all know a guy who is so obsessive about certain things and people that he becomes a pest. We also might be laughing because that person might be us.
Down In The Basement is out October 26th on Lövely Records. This should be one of the year’s most entertaining records if their past efforts are an indication of what is to come. Check out their material on Bandcamp.
Jack Drag – “Bloody Noses” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: The Submarines, We Were Promised Jetpacks, We Are Scientists
John Dragonetti is better known for his work with indie pop-rock experimentalists, The Submarines, but he also a side project called Jack Drag. Most likely have never heard about it since the last time Dragonetti released a solo full-length under that moniker was way back in 2002 (although he released he an EP on 2007). Sixteen years later, he will release his fifth LP overall next week on Burger Records, and it is appropriately called 2018, September 14.
He released one song already, the sci-fi folk dazzler, “Little Lies”, and the second single is equally magical. More than that, “Bloody Noses” packs a punch. Musically, the song is as soothing and exhilarating as a Ferris wheel ride. The melody is sweet, and the beats are bubbly. Lyrically, however, is where the LA-based artist and his guest, 11-year-old Lucinda Linklater, shine. The message is one for the underdog, who won’t allow the bullies to beat her. Instead, she is, in Dragonetti’s words, “a badass” who “isn’t going to take any shit”. Kind of sounds like Dragonetti’s own little music history – the little guy who punches well above his weight.
Metric – “Now or Never Now” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: La Force, Young Galaxy, Purity Ring
Anyone who has followed Metric‘s career knows that the Toronto quartet have long mastered the art of anthemic synth-rock numbers. Almost thirteen years to the day, “Monster Hospital” blitzed our ears, and it remains one of the great Canadian songs of the 21st Century. However, the Emily Haines-fronted band might be going through a bit of a renaissance or slight alteration. Being involved in the music history for two decades will mellow out an artist or at least have her reflect on what has transpired over the years. It would be misleading to call it a mid-life or mid-career crisis, but rather it is an opportunity for Haines and her band mates to take stock of history and start a new chapter. They achieve this in spades with “Now or Never Now”.
“Now or Never Now” is arguably Metric’s most endearing and scintillating number. While Haines has delivered introspective tunes through her solo work, she has largely used Metric to be imaginative and bombastic. This time, however, the volume is dialed down, and the lights are momentarily dimmed. In place of the booming and bold sounds is a synth-driven, wind-swept melody that toes the line between breathtaking and exhilarating. And it is delightful. The more serene soundscape allows Haines’ voice and lyrics to shine, where she reflects on the past and realizes that the clock is ticking. She encourages us, herself to take advantage of the days we have left, take control, and live life to the fullest. To live our lives with no regrets.
Metric are Emily Haines (vocals/synth), James Shaw (guitar), Joshua Winstead (bassist), and Joules Scott-Key (drums). Their new album, Art of Doubt, is out September 21st via MMI/Crystal Math Music. Pre-order it here.
Oh Lois – “Psych On The Beach (Or Life On Wheels & The Mysteries Of Drinking)” (Copenhagen, Denmark)
RIYL: DIIV, A Sunny Day in Glasgow, Masasolo
Two months ago, an under-the-radar Danish artist Oh Lois, which is the project of singer-songwriter and comic book artist Søren Manscher, released his eponymous debut album (stream it entirely on SoundCloud). The entire record echoes of Denmark’s burgeoning psychedelic-pop scene, although Manscher takes the genre to realms that extend beyond the rabbit hole’s reach. One song that showcases his imagination is “Lessons Learned”, but the best one in our humble opinion is “Psych On The Beach (Or Life On Wheels & The Mysteries Of Drinking”).
The song commences with a DIIV-like approach – a swimmingly captivating and exhilarating soundscape that has you feeling like you’re streaking through the skies on a comet. Throughout the experience, your arms are stretched wide so you can embrace the wind and clouds, which are respectively represented by the bouncy synths and the piercing electric guitar. The song’s meaning shares some of this escapism sensibilities, as Manscher explains that the song is about “wanting to escape the fear of death; whether it is by being constantly on the move or by drinking alcohol”. The music is the former, but when you listen the lyrics of the song you’ll definitely hear the latter.
Here’s hoping that we get to hear more from Oh Lois in the future because his potential is immense.
Pill – “Fruit” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Shopping, Weaves, Savages
There are post-punk bands and then are New York City’s Pill. They are not the prototypical outfit with the standard guitar-bass-drum set up nor do they play in the sandbox of other bands that prefer the dark, Gothic soundscapes or the power-punk-pop styles. Instead, they have a saxophone player, mix groovy rhythms with a sinister approach, and deliver straightforward yet often biting or humorous lyrics. They’re like BADBADNOTGOOD mixed with UK punk stars Shopping, which can only mean one thing – one cleverly, awesome band. Indeed they are, and their brilliance is evidenced on “Fruit”.
Create some space around because this track will cause either involuntary head shaking or uncontrollable bopping. The combination of percolating rhythms, ear-popping saxophone, and jangly, dissonant guitar riffs creates an infectious and toe-tapping groove. Front woman Veronica Torres, meanwhile, takes a spoken-word style of vocal delivery, hammering out quick words and phrases to reveal the political anxiety that is tormenting her and her friends’ minds. This uneasiness with the state of the world has caused us all to become dumbfounded and even paralyzed, as we try to figure out what the heck is happening. For some people, they wish to “hide in a hole so far away” or “fall down (like a) domino”. In other words, anarchy has set it except it’s happening in the Oval Office, and all we can do is watch in amazement. Speaking of which, check out the video, which is a bit surreal.
Pill are Veronica Torres (lead vocals/bass), Benjamin Jaffe (saxophone), Andrew Spaulding (drums), and Jonathan Campolo (guitar), and their new record, Soft Hell, is out October 26th on Mexican Summer. Pre-orders are available on Bandcamp.
Pip Hall – “Mary” (Preston, England)
RIYL: The Cardigans, The Jezabels, Natalie Imbruglia
It’s been a little while since we’ve heard from English singer-songwriter Pip Hall, who in the past dazzled us with her late-’80s / early-’90s pop-rock approach. In our minds, if she was performing 25 or 30 years ago, she could have been a star, and her songs would have been on the Top-40 Charts and right next to The Cranberries, The Cardigans, and Roxette. Like these bands, her music either makes you feel alive or calms the nerves and makes you reflect on the past. With “Mary”, she does the latter and, of course, delivers with dazzling effect.
Just before you hit play, keep in mind that Hall is a teenager and creating music that her parents listened to at her age. A breathtaking grace reverberates across the track with the dreamy and subdue arrangements and Hall’s elegant vocals, which effortlessly float over the over-driven guitar, the delicate rhythms, and the slight hum of the organ. What impresses most, though, is that Hall has crafted a gorgeous story about an unexpected love affair between two different people. No matter what people think or say, their relationship has left one feeling “alive again”, which is how this song is making us feel (or young again anyway).
Hall’s debut album, Everything Before, is out November 9th on My Little Empire Records. We’ll find out then what else this young prodigy has in store.
Pom Poko – “Follow The Lights” (Trondheim, Norway)
RIYL: Deerhoof, Superorganism, Of Montreal
For a little more than two years, Norway’s Pom Poko have amazed and astonished people and taste-makers with their unique take on power-punk-pop. Some may call it experimental pop, but whatever term a person wants to ascribe to their music we can all agree that the four-piece are inventive. Even that adjective may underestimate their talents because in many ways they’re redefining the rules in making the oft-kilter accessible. Case in point: “Follow The Lights”.
The track is a kaleidoscope of sounds and textures. This whirling and wondrous number is infused with noise rock, punk, neo-psychedelia, pop, and a touch of krautrock. Heck, there’s even a cowbell! “Follow The Lights” is a trip in many ways that extend beyond the zany but brilliant approach. Even the storyline, which sounds like the Pied Piper but modernized – i.e., a stranger infiltrates a town and causes everyone to follow his lead – is off the wall. After hearing this song, you can understand why so many people across the pond are excited by the band’s potential, and buzz for Pom Poko should soon extend beyond Europe.
Ragnhild Fangel (vocals), Martin Miguel Tonne (guitar), Jonas Krøvel (bass), and Ola Djupvik (drums) are Pom Poko. Their debut album is coming in 2019 via Bella Union.
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