The Matinee ’18 September 27th edition floats to the heavens with some lush dream-pop and obliterates ear drums with seismic rockers. There are some thing in-between, of course, including two art-rock masterpieces, a jack-of-all-trades band, and three of the finest singer-songwriters around today. We get things started with one of Australia’s greatest geniuses.
Methyl Ethel – “Scream Whole” (Perth, Australia)
RIYL: James Supercave, David Byrne, Ezra Furman
Kevin Parker, his main band Tame Impala, and POND may be the kings of the Perth music scene (and arguably all of Australia), but Jake Webb is giving them a run for their money. One of the most creative and brilliant geniuses in music, Webb, who is better known as the mastermind behind Methyl Ethel, dabbles in every genre and treats them as experiments to be transformed. Dream pop, psychedelic, R&B, art-rock, indie rock – you name it and he’s likely turned the genre on its head. He is like a young David Byrne, who is the greatest chameleon of his craft. Proving that he deserves to be mentioned as one of this generation’s most brilliant artist, Webb and his friends share “Scream Whole”.
“Scream Whole” is simply a knockout art-rock masterpiece. Sinister synths swirl alongside an outstandingly arranged, protruding bass line. Shimmering behind are the light tickles of an electric guitar and a glistening drum roll. Webb’s voice, though, is at the center of this otherworldly, suspenseful arrangement, and he urgently sings about a creature devouring him from the inside and, thus, controlling him. His storyline resembles Will’s arc in Stranger Things, where a shadow grows inside him.
“I can feel it in the rest of me
A part of what it appears to be
More than just the taste of my tongue.”
This outstanding single is out on Dot Dash Recordings / Remote Control Records. A new album is anticipated in 2019 given Webb has announced initial North American tour dates for March. He and his band mates – Thom Stewart, Chris Wright, Lyndon Blue and Jacob Diamond – will also be performing around Australia in the coming days and weeks. Check out where they are playing right here.
Azure Ray – “Palindrome” (Birmingham / Athens / Omaha, USA)
RIYL: Orenda Fink, Rhye, Cigarettes After Sex
It has been six years since we’ve heard from Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink, who together are dream-pop duo Azure Ray. The pair have been busy working on their own side projects plus producing records, so they haven’t been idle. Finally, though, they have found the time to collaborate once again, ending a hiatus that was much too long for those who have followed them throughout their seven studio albums and EPs. Now their eighth effort is just four weeks away, and its lead single is what one would expect from the colorful couple.
Sit down, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and then inhale in the lushness of “Palindrome”. To call the track simply as dream-pop would understate the song’s stunning and ethereal beauty. As strings, keys, and a calm electronic echo fill the air, Taylor and Fink’s gorgeous harmonies ascend above the soothing orchestration. At times, the two sound like Mary Chapin Carpenter and Agnetha Fältskog reborn, as their voices soothe every tension in your body and cause your mind to temporarily find nirvana. Their lyrics, too, are enchanting, reflecting on what was and what is to come. In some ways, their words describe their own careers and relationship and how the two will forever be linked by a common bond to astound.
Azure Ray’s new EP, Waves, is out October 26th via Taylor’s own Flower Moon Records.
Eliza Shaddad – “Just Goes To Show” (London, England)
RIYL: Ainslie Willis, Nadine Shah, Bryde
Since she revamped her sound a couple of years ago, moving away from her folk beginnings to a more widescreen rock approach, Eliza Shaddad has been leaving thousands of fans breathless. In about a month from now when her debut album finally drops, many more will be left gasping for air. To offer one last hint at what is to come, she shares “Just Goes To Show”, which is a thing of beauty.
“Just Goes To Show” is arguably Shaddad’s most subdued and intimate number. The instrumentation is gentler, although the crystalline guitar adds some steely brightness. Her vocals, too, are softer without losing their stunning qualities. Her songwriting, though, is still powerfully gripping and emotive, as she describes the pain of the one who has been left behind. If the intimate approach doesn’t rattle you, her lyrics will.
“I hear you saying that it’s time to go,
But I’m begging you to take it slow.
Can’t you see that I’m trying to lose control of everything I know.”
Les Big Byrd – “Geräusche” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Air, Phoenix, Public Service Broadcasting
Joakim Åhlund, Frans Johansson, Nino Keller, and Martin Ehrencrona may be known as Les Big Byrd, but they’re really jacks of all trades. The Swedish quartet can pretty much cover any genre, and they do it with aplomb. They can rock out if they want to, sizzle with some cool synth-pop, or release anthemic pop music a la the ’80s. Mostly, though, they are creative geniuses, who at times create their genre of music. Case in point: “Geräusche”.
The song is beyond categorization, and the best we can come up with is post-rock synth-pop. Even that doesn’t do this 6+-minute epic justice. It is one part Air and another part Public Service Broadcasting, as sizzling synths, chiming keys, stuttering rhythms, and ethereal vocals seamlessly merge together. Consequently, the track feels like a gentle ride through the solar system while riding Haley’s Comet. As you listen to this track time and time again, you’ll agree that it belongs on a future IMAX film or maybe even at a NASA exhibit because the song is simply (inter)stellar.
Liily – “Toro” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Interpol, The Fall, Bloc Party
Los Angeles-based band Liily may be five blokes still in their teens and didn’t exist (or were too young) to hear bands like The Fall or Bloc Party in their prime, but they’re recapturing the ear-splitting intensity of late ’90s alt-rock. And maybe, just maybe they’ll be at the forefront of the genre’s revival, especially if they continue to unleash seismic shockers like “Toro”.
Simply put, “Toro” is a five-alarm fire that cannot be extinguished. It is ferocious, fearless, and maddeningly intense. Front man Dylan Nash’s vocals are fierce, hollering with the urgency of a young David Usher (former front man of Canadian alt-rock legends Moist). His band mates, meanwhile, unleash a tidal wave of sound that is intended to do one thing only – blow your mind. This wall of blazing noise perfectly complements the puzzle inside Nash’s mind, as he calls out to whomever may be listening that he wants to regain control of his life and no longer be a stranger in his own body. The track is a fantastic piece of musical artistry, and hopefully it’s the first step to stardom for the quintet.
The frenetic ’90s-inspired video is worth checking out, too. Liily are Maxx Morando (drums), Sam De La Torre (guitar), Charlie Anastasis (bass), Aaron Reeves (guitar), and Dylan Nash (lead vocals).
Molly Burch – “Candy” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: Hope Sandoval, Natalie Prass, Nicole Atkins
Leave it to the one and only Molly Burch to make the words, “What do I care what you think? You’re not my father”, sound cool and embracing. With her breathy, smokey vocals, she could shout profanities, and they would still sound immaculate and intoxicating. But there is so much more to her craft than possessing one of the great voices in all of music, and on “Candy” she showcases all of her talents.
As demonstrated in the first sentence, Burch’s songwriting can be direct, yet she can be brutally honest about herself. “It’s outrageous, I’m so contagious. Don’t come near me”, she later croons to the voices and anxieties that fill her head. At the same time, she can make painful memories sound beautifully intimate and extravagant, where the graceful country-pop sweeps you off your feet and make you forget about the turmoil that fills your soul. In its place is a breathtaking dream and here everything is all right. At least it is temporarily and for as long as Burch is around to sing our troubles away.
Native Sun – “Big Succ(ess)” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Acid Dad, The Cavemen, The Strokes (we’ll explain)
Imagine for a moment The Strokes in their prime and fueled simply by Red Bull cocktails. What would they sound like? Our guess is that they would resemble the frenetic and uncontrolled rock of Native Sun. Comprised of Dany Gomez (vocals/guitar), Jake Pflum (lead guitar), Alexis Castro (drums), and Mo Martinez (bass), the New York City outfit are showing that great rock ‘n roll is not dead. Instead, it not only still exists, but it still electrifies, as shown on “Big Succ(ess)”.
The song is unrelenting in its entire 186-second duration. It trembles at the beginning and then it erupts into a seismic rocker that is the equivalent of a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. The guitar riffs are off-the-charts and, as we liked to say back in the ’80s and ’90s, absolutely killer. Meanwhile, the rhythms are sonic uppercuts, hitting our faces with the ferocity of a Mike Tyson delivery. These gents, though, aren’t hear just to make noise. They’re also here to make a statement, and in this tune they’re leading the charge to reclaim new immigrants’ lives in America. They won’t be pushed around nor bullied anymore, as they’re here to stay and contribute to the American Dream. Say it with us – “F*ck yeah!”
NINET – “Self Destructive Mind” (Los Angeles, USA via Tel Aviv, Israel)
RIYL: P.J. Harvey, Ani DiFranco, Fiona Apple
It’s a bit of a mystery as to why Ninet Tayeb – or just NINET – isn’t more popular outside her native Israel. The talented singer-songwriter is seriously Israel’s answer to P.J. Harvey and Fiona Apple – an artist who writes gripping songs through the prism of gritty yet sensational soundscapes. To expand her appeal and her artistry, she relocated to Los Angeles two years ago and performed at SXSW among other festivals. While time will determine whether the move will lead to broader success, her newest single reveals why she has long mesmerized tens of thousands of music fans, including us.
“Self Destructive Mind” is a slow-building, emotional rocker that mixes the sounds of the West with the Middle East. The combination yields a track that is simultaneously brooding, gritty, mysterious, and enchanting, as if a great Western movie has been set in the Enchanted Forest. Despite the exquisite orchestration, two elements stand out from the fray. The first is the lonely electric guitar that opens the tune and is heard piercing through the instruments. The second is the husky voice that reveals the pain growing inside its host. Tayeb opens up about the anxiety and isolation growing within and around her. As she poignantly states:
Don’t let anyone cut down the wire.
I’m still waiting for you to complete.
I know, yes I know you’re so tired.”
There’s no word yet on a new album, but here’s hoping one is in the works. And here’s hoping a major indie label will take a chance on this gifted artist.
Thus Owls – “Solar Eclipse” (Montreal, Canada & Sweden)
RIYL: Wye Oak, Unloved, Timber Timbre
There are few bands who leave us speechless, where we cannot find the words to describe their music. Thus Owls, the project fronted by Erika and Simon Angell, are one of them, and their newest tune, “Solar Eclipse”, is another track that just needs to be heard to comprehend its brilliance. We’ll try our best, however, to capture its masterful artistry.
The track is the equivalent to a great Hitchcock film, where even the quietest moments can be profound and devastating and the loudest moments eerily silent in their impact. Film-noir textures are enveloped by touches of jazz, brooding cinematic rock, and dark-folk, giving the song its suspenseful tone. Erika’s vocals are both stunning and startling, as she recounts one woman’s solitary existence.
To dig deeper into the track, we must share the text in the press release because there’s no other way to capture its spirit:
“The song is inspired by the ancient works of the Greek poet Sappho (630-580 BC) gathered in a beautiful edition by Anne Carson called ‘If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho’. The lyrics even contain some fragments of these poems, mixed with texts by Erika Angell. ‘Solar Eclipse’ embodies all the core elements of this record in one and the same song and is the center piece of the whole album.”
In addition to Erika and Simon Angell, Thus Owls consists of a rotating cast of artists, including drummer Samuel Joly; guitarists Laurel Sprengelmeyer of Little Scream; Michael Feuerstack and Nicolas Basque from Plants and Animals; and bass player Marc-André Landry. The collective’s new album, The Mountain That We Live Upon, is out September 28th on the Angell’s own label, For The Living And The Dead.
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