After Hollie focused on North American artists, The Matinee ’18 November 8th edition heads overseas. There is a sizable Commonwealth presence, but in the middle of the mini-playlist is one of electronica’s great and underappreciated duos.
Evi Vine – “Sabbath” (London, England)
RIYL: Emma Ruth Rundle, Chelsea Wolfe, A Place To Bury Strangers
“Her vocals break your heart into a thousand pieces” is the byline on Evi Vine‘s Facebook page. These words, too, perfectly describe her music, which is not for the faint of heart. Forget about bright and illuminating music, but instead she is a master of the dark, musical arts. With this introduction, prepare yourself to have your soul crushed and mind blown away because London-based artist has unleashed a seismic track that you will stick with you for the rest of the day.
“Sabbath” isn’t a full-throttle rocker nor is it a raging psychedelic tune. On the contrary, it is a quietly blistering scorcher that possesses the penetrating power of Goth-rock queen Chelsea Wolfe and the brooding devastation of Emma Ruth Rundle. It is heavy, bleak, and harrowing, and yet the song awakens all your senses as well as the demons that linger in the depths of your mind.
“Loosen yourself, I don’t mind.
A little lie, goes deeper still.
We build a wall, close in the pain.
I shed my skin. It goes deeper.”
The single, which features The Cure’s bassist Simon Gallup, officially releases December 6th with pre-orders on Bandcamp. Her new album, Black//Light//White//Dark, is expected in February 22nd via Solemn Wave Records.
GRDNS – “Hydraulic Lover” (Bradford, England)
RIYL: Childhood, Palma Violets, Circa Waves
As we start preparing our year-end lists, including our favorite discoveries of the year, GRDNS will be on the short list. Prior to today, they’ve amazed us on four occasions with their mix of trippy psychedelic rock and searing indie rock. With justa little over seven weeks remaining in 2018, they are making one last push to get on everyone’s radar screens with “Hydraulic Love”.
Unlike their previous, hard-charging rockers, the Bradford-based quartet take a more methodical and deliberate approach in order to create a more suspenseful, grittier, and darker track. The slower pace allows the guitars to screech and wail more menacingly. The superb bass line and the surgical percussion, meanwhile, pulsate with a trembling intensity, and they mimic the sound of footsteps creeping from behind. Front man Jacob Lyons’ vocals are distant and more harrowing, and his story is like a re-imagining of the werewolf or any creature that comes out only at night. However, these monsters are the music industry folks who turn musicians into sexual objects. And likewise, the musicians who sexually objectify everything in their songs.
The single is out on Dance To The Radio. GRDNS are Jacob Lyons (vocals/guitar), Sam Gledhill (guitar), Cameron Harrison (bass), and John Fitzpatrick (drums).
Halcyon Drive – “Only Youth” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Foals, Atlas Bound, TENDER
We’re still waiting for Halcyon Drive to experience a massive breakthrough – at least Down Under anyway. They are slowly gaining more fans, but Australia’s version of Foals should be way more popular. Maybe they need to release a full-length album, get Triple-J to play it incessantly, and then get the ARIA voters to acknowledge their talents. Or maybe they’ll get a plum spot on a festival lineup or a massive band will invite them to go on tour. Whatever fate has in store for them, our fingers are crossed that a tidal wave of support will come their way, starting with “Only Youth”.
This track reveals the brilliance of Michael (guitar/loops/vocals), Max (drums/vocals), and Basil (bass/synth/vocals). It is one part a blistering, electro-rock number and another part a stirring indictment of today’s chaotic world. As the penetrating dark but groovy beats and rhythms and the chiming guitar ring through the air, Michael’s desperate voice tells the tale of thousands of young people who are forever lost. They are disenfranchised, with little hope or dreams, and “will never be coming around again”. With music as anthemic and poignant as this, how are Halcyon Drive still hovering under the radar?
This single is out on Verge Records.
Hatchie – “Adored” (Brisbane, Australia)
RIYL: Slowdive, Chapterhouse, CULTS
One of the great stories of the year is Harriette Pilbeam’s project Hatchie, who went from a little bedroom project to being a global indie star. Her debut EP, Sugar & Spice, is one of 2018’s great dreamgaze records, as it meshed the euphoria of the ’80s with the dazzling spectacles of today’s musicians. The young Brisbane resident is showing no signs of slowing down, as she’s released another single to be celebrated.
Or better yet, “Adored” will have you celebrating her fantastic artistry. What Maggie Rogers is doing for R&B and pop, Pilbeam is doing the same with dream-pop, which is breathe new life into a stagnant genre. The song is intoxicating to the nth degree, as she masterfully merges the shimmering shoegaze of Slowdive and Chapterhouse with the immersive synth-pop of CHVRCHES and Memoryhouse. Each strike of the crystalline guitar and each touch of the sweltering synths are breathtaking, creating a feeling similar to being under a cascading waterfall. The emotions and sensations that such a moment spurs are memorable, much like this song. Or as Pilbeam’s saccharine vocals put it:
“‘Cause it’s you that I’m thinking of
As I fall into the sun.
And I know now just what it was
‘Cause it worked just like it should.”
Keep Shelly In Athens – “Bendable” & “Glistening” (Athens, Greece)
RIYL: CULTS, FM-84, Cathedrals
A year ago, producer RΠЯ and vocalist Jessica Bell, who together form Keep Shelly In Athens, released their dark, post-modern Greek tragedy LP, Philokalia. The record was a demonstration of the duo’s ability to make the mythical modern and the contemporary classic. Yesterday, they unveiled two more songs that further reveal their unmatched talent to make retro sound fresh and new.
The first is “Bendable”, which is ’80s synth-pop resurrected but transformed into a blissful and exotic affair. RΠЯ’s production work is restrained and minimalist, and this allows Bell’s gorgeous vocals to shine. She calmly shares the sudden surge of vulnerability that consumes her.
“I’ve been hearing sounds that I find incredible.
If I realized that the world was so bendable.”
Her feelings are further accentuated on the dark yet intimate “Glistening”. A harrowing guitar line opens the track before it gives way to swirling, spine-tingling synths, which enshroud the track like a dense fog at dusk. Through the mist emerges Bell, who asks us to “come and find me”. This could be her final days, and in reality it nearly was. Bell was writing the lyrics to both songs when the July 2018 fires in Kineta occurred (video here). Even in the face of devastation, the duo still find beauty.
The two singles are out on the band’s Athenian Aura label.
Life Model – “Long Way Round” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: Lush, No Joy, Moving Panoramas
We had to do a double take to realize that Scottish quartet Life Model have been tantalizing these parts since 2014. At that time, the then-quintet were a Hidden Gem (when we were doing such features) and had released a handful of songs. In the four years that have passed, Sophie Evans (vocals), Chris Smith (guitar), Joanne McCafferty (bass), and Michael McDonald (drums) are still creating dazzling dream-pop and dreamgaze, but they are doing it with more confidence. This is evidenced by their more widescreen approach, where the music just doesn’t solely jolt you but it takes you places. On “Long Way Round”, they take us back to the ’90s and the days of Empire Records.
Simply put, “Long Way Round” is dazzling shoegaze, and it brilliantly depicts the genre’s contrasting effects. It recalls the days of Lush, Ride, and My Bloody Valentine, where everyone in the building would be pounding their heads to the reverb-drenched guitars and hurtling rhythms. And yet, the ethereal vocals made all feel like they were gently floating high in the atmosphere. Evans’ lyrics, too, are embracing, as she tells a friend that she is there to help her out. That she doesn’t need to destroy herself in order to make a point.
LUCIA – “Cheap Talk” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: The Runaways, The Regrettes, Anteros
About 2.5 years ago, Lucia Fontaine officially announced her arrival with her emphatic debut single, “Lose My Mind”. With that one song, it was immediately known that she was on the path to stardom. Now fast forward to autumn 2018, and the young Glaswegian has dropped her surname (actually happened in 2017) because the great artists only need to be known by a single word. And if you aren’t on her bandwagon, her newest single will have you jumping on board.
“Cheap Talk” is a boisterous, pop-rock ear-worm that is reminiscent of the feisty and addictive anthems of the ’80s. Catchy guitar riffs and stuttering rhythms collide to form the exhilarating and uplifting vibe, which at a minimum will have you bopping your heard if not dancing. Fontaine’s assertive vocals shoot to the forefront, however, and in the process she tells the story of a woman who gets everything she wants. This “prima donna girl” has the looks, the money, and the sweet words to convince anyone and everyone to fulfill her wishes. Everyone except Fontaine, who can “see through her, it’s in the way she walks”.
This outstanding song is on LUCIA’s new EP, Cheap Talk, which is out now via Sweet Jane Recordings. We’ll say it again – she’s a star on the rise.
The Pale White – “End of Time” (Newcastle Upon Tyne, England)
RIYL: City Calm Down, Circa Waves, Arctic Monkeys
When we first heard The Pale White two years ago, the hope was that they would eventually follow in the footsteps of Sundara Karma and emerge as one of the UK’s top-flight indie bands. Gradually they are ascending with more music fans across the pond gravitating to their anthemic tunes and thoughtful tales. We anticipate the numbers to swell quickly, as last Friday they released their new EP, Take Me to the Strange, via Illegal Cinema Records. The record is filled with songs that could fill the O2 in London, such as “Wisdom Tooth”, which they released last month, and “End of Time”.
An urgency immediately welcomes you within the song’s opening twenty seconds, and the throbbing rhythms and driving guitar establish a car chase-like adrenaline rush. As the tune accelerates, it swerves unexpectedly into a different direction, where suddenly the band ease into a smooth cruise. But then the chase is on again and the intensity picks up. Where are we off to? What is our destination? Front man Adam Hope tells us in the chorus:
“Next stop is the end of the time,
I’ve followed the warning signs,
It’s you I found, it’s you I found.”
For the Newcastle trio, however, their next stop hopefully will be on the main stage of Glastonbury or in the middle of Wembley Stadium (forget the O2, these guys need a bigger platform to be heard).
Sleep Thieves – “Sea Of Shadows” (Dublin, Ireland)
RIYL: Portishead, Elaine Mai, Tripnaha
For most of this decade, Sleep Thieves have been sending chills down the back of Dubliners and all those who have been exposed to their dark and hypnotic mix of trip-hop, new wave, synthwave, and nu-disco. They are favorites of the underground scene, having performed at indie festivals and exclusive venues in Paris, London, New York, Los Angeles, and Milan. However, they won’t remain a secret for much longer because eventually a TV show, film or commercial will use their broodingly brilliant music. A contender to be shared for all to hear is “Sea Of Shadows”.
To truly experience this song, play it in a dimly lit room. Then open your mind and ears and allow the devilish synths, the titillating percussion and beats, and front woman Sorcha Brennan’s ghostly vocals whisk you away to another world. Away to a place where “you fall back which is worth while”. But is this really utopia or is it a place where all our skeletons reside? This riddle is one of the traits that make Sleep Thieves such a unique and fascinating band, as they play with our minds and thoughts not just with their cripplingly sinister music but also their poetic words.
Sleep Thieves are Sorcha Brennan (vocals/synths), Wayne Fahy (vocals/synths/bass/programming), and Keith Byrne (synths/guitar/bass/programming). Their debut album, You Want the Night, was released in 2014, so hopefully a new record is coming in 2019.
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