The Matinee ’18 September 11th – USA Edition has a bit of everything. You’ll delight in some ’80s synth-pop and art-pop, gasp to an indie-rock ballad and an Americana fable, and be blown away from a couple of moving numbers. For more music, check out the Rest of the World edition over here.
Ariel Beesley – “Awake All Night” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Bloodboy, Bec Sandridge, Cyndi Lauper
We were first introduced to Ariel Beesley earlier this year when she released the John Hughes soundtrack-worthy tune, “Slower Than Usual”. It was an unexpected track since the 23-year old isn’t old enough to have first watched films like Pretty in Pink or The Breakfast Club, but then again Hughes’ movies are timeless classics. And then again, Beesley isn’t an ordinary millennial, as she’s balanced a career in fashion with writing poetry and songwriting and lists Robert Smith and Debbie Harry as influences. She rolls up all her inspirations and pleasures into her new single, “Awake All Night”, which will make you adore her as much as we do.
Whereas a “Slower Than Usual” was more new wave in its orientation, Beesley goes more synth-pop on “Awake All Night”. It echoes the mid-’80s with the infectious interplay between the churning bass line, the sizzling synths, and the stuttering percussion. Hips will wiggle, heads will shake, and smiles will emerge. All the while, Beesley crafts a great story about two people going their separate ways. It’s a familiar storyline, but the execution is where Beesley shines. She tells the tale from both person’s perspectives – where the young woman is moving on and the young man regrets not expressing his feelings. How many artists do this? Not many by our count, making Beesley an artist and songwriter to watch. Or maybe she’ll try her hand at writing screenplays? Hmm…
Beesley’s self-titled EP drops this Thursday, September 13th via Young Writers Records. We hope it is indeed like an ’80s coming-of-age movie.
gv.grace – “Fuck Golf” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: St. Vincent, Sheena Easton, Kim Wilde
Married duo Genevieve and Griff Dymond personify the term “artist”, as they are engaged in all aspects of their chosen careers. Music, videos, dance – you name it, and they’re likely involved. As a music duo, they’re known as gv.grace, and over the past few months they have released some provocative videos – and provocative might be understating them. Their latest video for “Fuck Golf” is neat to watch, although it’s NSFW so you might want to watch this in the privacy of your home (it’s below).
Musically, though, this tune is like St. Vincent mixed with Sheena Easton with lyrics written by the late Prince. It swelters with buzzing synths and an 808 drum kit to create the feeling that we’re back in 1982 NYC and dancing into the wee hours of the morning. Genevieve’s vocals, meanwhile, have an air of Debbie Harry, but she’s not here to seduce us nor encourage us to get up and moving. Rather, she’s offering a critique of our world, specifically the materialism that consumes us and how people are valued by the superficial objects they own. Her message is clever, and it is filled with great one liners. Provocative indeed, but not just in terms of the images.
Lala Lala – “Dove” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: Ian Sweet, Girlpool, Slothrust
She has already wowed us with the rocker “Destroyer” and dazzled with “Water Over Sex”, and now Lillie West, the mastermind behind Lala Lala chops our legs right from under us with “Dove”. Given this description, we highly recommend that this song be listened to while seated.
“Beautifully devastating” is a term that we reserve for songs that truly rattle your cages, tear your heart out, and yet somehow leave you breathless, and “Dove” does all of these things. Musically, it is enchantment personified, where the shallow synths and rhythms and the dissonant guitar create the feeling that we have plunged into the great blue sea. Here, however, we drown within the West’s pain, sorrow, and loneliness, as she says goodbye to someone she dearly loved. We drown within the beauty of her voice and her emotional words.
“And now you’re gone
For some prettiness
That I don’t believe.
It’s all made up,
Everyone just leaves.”
Phosphorescent – “Christmas Down Under” (Nashville via Brooklyn, USA)
After surprising us with the jubilant “New Birth in New England”, which celebrated the arrival of his and his partner’s new child, Matthew Houck – the man behind Phosphorescent – goes back to more familiar roots on his latest single. “Christmas Down Under” is a bleaker, thought-provoking number that will make you perceive of the year’s biggest holiday in a different way.
Houck’s vocals are soft and endearing, but the music behind him, highlighted by the ringing steel guitar and a terrific guitar solo in the middle of the track, creates a dour and haunting mood. Throughout the song’s 6-minute, 16-second duration, he shares multiple short stories based around the past and present. The best is his recount of a theory that would rock Christianity:
“Some say Jesus had a daughter,
But I guess he never met her
And she had never met her father.
No, I guess this world couldn’t let her.
Now this world needed a martyr,
And it’s hard to understand.
But if you need to make a martyr,
You got to take away a man.”
Red Ribbon – “Your Car” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: The Cardigans, Phantastic Ferniture, Sjowgren
Get your pens ready and jot down the name Red Ribbon because this young outfit could very well be the next big thing from the Pacific Northwest. No, they’re not a grunge band like Nirvana or Hole, but rather they echo the great Scandinavian bands of the late ’80s and early ’90s. They do, however, share some similarities to Cobain and Love in terms of the themes they wish to cover. That is, don’t expect lovey dovey tunes or overly sentimental tracks. Instead, expect to hear songs like “Your Car”.
Broodingly dark and sinister, “Your Car” will crawl under their skin and stay with you long into the night as you seek cover under the blankets. The bleak synths, trembling bass, and methodical drumming forge together to create the haunting soundscape, which is made even more daunting when the crystalline guitar enters the fray. Front woman and project mastermind Emma Danner’s delicate but shallow voice, meanwhile, is goosebumps-inducing, as her tone never changes. She’s like an assassin, as her steely gaze focuses on her target and she takes her aim. She’s not, however, after anyone in particular. She is instead setting her sights on breaking our obsession with soundbites and quick hits, where adrenaline and urgency are the things we seek. For Red Ribbon, though, they’re playing the long game, which should eventually should see fans flocking on to their bandwagon.
Red Ribbon are Emma Danner (vocals),.
Their forthcoming album, Dark Party, is out September 28th via Union Zero.
Stephen Steinbrink – “Bad Love”(Oakland, USA)
RIYL: Jonathan Bree, Chris Cohen, American Wrestlers
Stephen Steinbrink may not be a household name, but he’s a prolific artist. He’s just flown under the radar, as evidenced by him releasing seven albums already. The number will increase to eight when Utopia Teased is out November 9th via Western Vinyl and Melodic Records. Maybe this will be his coming out party.
The lead single from the album is “Bad Love”, which is an experimental art-pop track that one would expect to hear out of New Zealand. Busy synths clash with a perky bass line and percolating drum machine to create a wacky yet highly contagious, oft-kilter sound. At times, the track is groovy and blissful and towards the ends it resembles a Commodore 64 machine on the fritz. Steinbrink’s charming falsetto, though, holds everything together, as he coolly explains how we need to fight for every inch of territory and battle to get what we want.
“No one’s gonna give you the bit.
You gotta fight for yours.
Fake your way through the ivy and red brick
When all you’ve got is bad love.”
Utopia Teased was written after the Ghost Ship warehouse tragedy in Oakland. Thirty-six people died, and the album is Steinbrink’s response to the event and his own way to cope with the sudden loss of life.
The Vernes – “1994” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Manchester Orchestra, Deerhunter, Carseat Headrest
Most bands move west as oppose to east, but The Vernes opted to leave the beautiful confines of the Bay area for the humid environs of Philadelphia. Granted, the City of Brotherly Love has a pretty great rock scene with the likes of Kurt Vile and Adam Granduciel (The War on Drugs) residing there. Soon, the foursome of Matthew Gregg (vocals/guitar), Fabian Mera (guitar), Cole Berggren (bass), and Pat Degan (drums) will joining their new city mates atop the indie charts, especially if they consider to release awesome, slow-building rockers like “1994”.
This track requires your full attention. Heck, once you hit play, the opening, somber guitar chords will immediately catch your attention, lulling you into a state of false ease. Gregg’s voice, too, creates a calming effect, but then the song gradually gets grittier, grimier, and darker. Then it builds into a glorious finish of crushing reverb and piercing riffs, and it’s truly a “fuck yeah!” moment. The cathartic approach perfectly complements Gregg’s introspective lyrics, which explain his own vulnerability and sense of loss in a new place.
“I took a walk down by the water
And I saw things I’ve never seen.
There was a face frozen in space
And it told me he dreamed the same dreams as me.”
Simply brilliant. The Vernes’ new album, Maybe I’ll Feel Better When I’m Dead, is out September 28th. Get it on Bandcamp.
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