The Matinee ’18 November 15th features some mystical and mysterious numbers as well as rockers and hip-shaking pop tunes. We kick things off with the surprise return of one of indie-pop’s most underrated duos.
Army Navy – “Her Makeup” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Peter Bjorn and John, Teenage Fanclub, Shout Out Louds
At the height of the indie revival in the late 2000s emerged a little indie-pop band from Los Angeles called Army Navy. Consisting of Justin Kennedy and Louie Schultz, the duo made even the most skeptical individuals, including yours truly, believe that pop music could be meaningful and immensely addictive. Their self-titled, debut album, which was released ten years ago, was celebrated far and wide with Pitchfork giving it a 7.8 score. As quickly as the band formed, they went on an indefinite hiatus in 2014. Then a couple of weeks ago, they quietly released “Her Makeup”, which many people, including original fans, missed. Better late than never right?
“Her Makeup” is the kind of sun-kissed guitar-pop that led tens of thousands to gravitate to Army Navy. It’s warm and ear-pleasing, as jangly guitars and bubbling synths cascade into one shimmering melody. The stuttering rhythms are head-noodling worthy while Kennedy’s smooth vocals will induce a few people to gasp for a breath, close their eyes, and say, “Ah!”. His story of wanting to reconnect with someone from his past will also bring smiles to you or at least flood your mind with thoughts of “What if”. Or maybe his words will lead you to thinking about old pastimes, such as watching bad horror movies like Kennedy and his childhood pal Gary McGrew did. Regardless of the song’s effect, one thing is certain – it’s time to celebrate the return of one of indie’s great duos.
Get the song and listen to Army Navy’s back catalogue on Bandcamp.
Chemtrails – “Vultures” (London, England)
RIYL: ShitKid, Lisa Prank, angelic milk
Need to shake the cobwebs that have been accumulating in your head after a few too many days at work or the long hours of studying? If so, you’ve come to the right place with garage-pop outfit Chemtrails‘ riotous new single with “Vultures”.
For just over three minutes, the quartet of of Mia Lust (vocals/guitar), Laura Orlova (vocals/guitar), Laura Sumner (vocals/bass), Ian Jubb (keyboard), and Sam Neubär (drums) deliver one massive adrenaline-rush that affects the listener in multiple ways. The crunchy guitars will have heads sharking while the herky-jerky bass line will induce involuntary bopping. The percussion, meanwhile, will cause hips to shake and a few people to hammer away at their invisible drum kit. Through it all lies Lust’s teeming vocals, and she reveals that “like everyone I have my problems”. But then she comes to accept her predicament and subtly offers a couple of middle fingers to the naysayers.
“And they will know me as the devil in the details
Or as the vultures start scavenging your eggshells
And if this toxic culture of mine cuts me loose
We’ll be fine.”
Chemtrails’ new EP, Cuckoo Spit, is out December 7th via PNKSLM Recordings. It’s going to be the perfect non-Christmas record for the wintry season.
GINEVRA – “Forest” (Milan via Turin, Italy)
RIYL: Julia Holter, Marissa Nadler, Julianna Barwick
Music in its pure artistic form is escapism at its finest. The best songs will take you to places only perceived in one’s mind, in books, or on screen. Some of the industry’s most gifted and acclaimed artists have taken years to perfect their craft, and yet Italian GINEVRA delivers a an engrossing masterpiece on her debut single, “Forest”.
Utter enchantment are the first words to come across our lips when hearing the track. The minimalist electronic work is haunting, and GINEVRA’s vocals are ghostly yet intoxicating. They float effortlessly in the extended space created by the titillating beats, humming keys, and the lingering guitar. And just as we’re ready to dive into the depths of the forest, she takes us above the tree tops as she strips everything back. There we sit with her as she reflects on her young years and the journey she still travels to find relevancy. It won’t be long, however, before this happens.
Her debut EP, RUINS, is expected soon via via Factory Flaws.
Hanne Hukkelberg – “Stardust” (Oslo, Norway)
RIYL: Agnes Obel, London Grammar, Lykke Li
Hanne Hukkelberg is a rare talent. She’s a composer, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and poet. When she’s not perfecting her alt-pop craft, she’s writing film scores or songs for movies. Her diverse skills makes her a well-known name within the Scandinavian music scene even if mainstream audiences may not yet know her name. In all likelihood, her music is probably more likely to be heard in an art gallery or museum, which is where you probably will hear “Stardust”.
Be prepared to smile because this little alt-pop number is warm, blissful, and immersive. The lithe arrangements swirl delicately in the air, creating the feeling we’re slowly gliding in the jet stream. Meanwhile, Hukkelberg guides us through this smooth journey, as her soft vocals narrate places like “stars on the water, splashing around like glitter”. This trip doesn’t take us to any actual sites, but rather we float within her mind and the feelings that overcome her when she’s with a specific someone. We float in amazement and wonderment at her incredible talents.
The single is out on Brilliance.
Joseph of Mercury – “Reluctant Love” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Simply Red, Christopher Cross, Marlon Williams
A year ago, Joseph of Mercury, the project of one of the great voices in all of music Joseph W. Salusbury, released his eponymous debut EP, which was ’70s and ’80s pop balladry perfected. It was the rare record that would unite three generations and where grandparents, parents, and the grandchildren would agree they were listening to a classic. The hard-working Torontonian, who spent some time in Los Angeles, returns with another sultry tune.
“Reluctant Love” is like the great midnight ballads of the early ’80s. It is smooth yet sexy, romantic yet mysterious. It recalls the days when Simply Red and Christopher Cross use to take people on epic adventures, where woman or man would imagine a chance rendez-vous in the most unexpected place. The addition of the strings adds to the song’s mystique, but Salusbury’s impeccable voice, as always, steals the show. He coolly and sensually calls out into the fog-filled air, “You better keep me close, but far away”, to the one who is walking away from him. What will she do? What will he do? We can only hope they meet again, but for now we are left in suspense as the sublime saxophone sends the song to its conclusion. That is until when Salusbury releases his next song.
Micra – “Child Grows Old” (Sydney, Australia and Bulgaria)
RIYL: Widowspeak, Beach House, Unknown Mortal Orchestra
It was only a month ago when we were introduced to Micra, which at the time the duo released their debut single, “Plastic”. The song impressed us so much that we stated we may as well start mentioning them alongside Chromatics, EXITMUSIC, and Still Corners. Obviously one song doesn’t make a career, but it sure left a lasting impression. Showing that they’re capable of much more, Bulgarian born-and-raised singer Ivana Kay and Australian producer/guitarist Robbie Cain unleash another spectacular tune in “Child Grows Old”.
“Child Grows Old” is like the immaculate conception of Beach House’s dream-pop captivation with Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s vibrant yet throbbing rhythms. Akin to these great bands, the pair take us on a dazzling and multi-dimensional adventure that traverses through oases, the heavens, and finally through the cosmos. As a result of Cain’s spectacular production work, numerous feelings are felt – intoxication, exhilaration, bewilderment, and amazement. Kay’s lavish vocals only accentuate these emotions, as she poignantly sings about what it is like to grow up in a world full of chaos, information, and conflict. As she brilliantly says, “We’re dying deep within, so why are you ready to go?”
We can say for certain that we’re not ready to go, not when Micra are just getting their careers started. Their potential is off the charts, and we cannot wait to see what else they have in store.
Pelicat – “Sorry, no” (Oslo, Norway)
RIYL: Balthazar, Masasolo, Baywaves
From the great country that brought us SLØTFACE, Strange Hellos, and Highasakite comes another band to watch. That group is Pelicat, who are applying the Norwegian spirit of musical innovation and quirkiness into their blend of psychedelic pop. Their new single, “Sorry, no”, is a great introduction to their musical excellence.
The track is a fun, engaging, and addictive number. It is an example of how music can be both sun-kissed perfection and funk-alicious groovy. Whereas most psych-pop tracks are driven by outstanding guitar work and trippy rhythms (and both are great on this song), the chiming keys steal the show with its coffee-percolating approach. The band’s storyline of being dazed, confused, and unmotivated, too, is fantastic, and the song is filled with great lines.
“It would be nice to sleep outside, light a bonfire with my friends.
But then again I can’t pretend that there is no mountain I have to ascend.
Ask me if I would like to go,
It would be nice, but sorry no.
Maybe I will go one day, but I am fine with the way I am.
I had tickets to the greatest show, but I didn’t go because they weren’t for free.
I saw a TV instead and drank a cup of tea.”
This awesome little single is out on Sellout Music.
Superchunk – “Our Work Is Done” (Chapel Hill, NC, USA)
RIYL: Superchunk + Fucked Up, Dinosaur Jr.
Since returning with What a Time to Be Alive earlier this year, indie-rock legends Superchunk have been on a creative roll. They’ve released a few songs since to contribute to political and social causes. For their latest effort, “Our Work Is Done”, they’ve enlisted the support of Fucked Up‘s Damian Abraham to tackle humankind’s contribution and indifference to environmental degradation. The result is unsurprisingly one whale of a rocker. An awesome rocker.
The song is prototypical Superchunk – fast, furious, and feisty. Full-throttle rhythms and grizzled guitars fill the air as the band’s front man Mac McCaughan and Abraham assume the roles of the last two survivors on a dying planet. Instead of pitying what has happened, they treat the circumstance like “a joke”, which is how too many politicians and individuals treat climate change. The most revealing words, however, come in the chorus, as the two sing:
“And our work is done,
Our work is done.
We drain the light out of every living thing.
No one is under the sun.
Our work is done.”
Get the limited-edition 7″, “Our Work Is Done” with “Total Eclipse”, at Merge Records‘ store or directly on Bandcamp. All proceeds will go to Bill McKibben’s climate-change advocacy non-profit 350.org. In case you didn’t already know, Superchunk are singer-guitarist Mac McCaughan, guitarist Jim Wilbur, bassist Laura Ballance, and drummer Jon Wurster.
Swine Tax – “Natural Causes” (Newcastle upon Tyne, England)
RIYL: The White Room, The Pale White, The Spielbergs
We completely forgot to share Swine Tax‘s new single, “Natural Causes”, around Halloween. This would have been the perfect track to include during the spooky season. Then again, there’s always time to share a great tune, especially if you’re into heavy, eerie songs. If so, then you’ll love this one.
“Natural Causes” is simply a hard, edgy, propulsive rocker. It is dark and dank and grueling, where the reverb feels more densely foreboding and the rhythms more thunderous. However, it’s not just the music that leaves you quaking in your boots. The band’s storyline is right out of John Carpenter’s wicked mind.
“A dead father haunts his trembling son when stumbling home from the Tyneside pub,
And so the ghost relates his bloody murder at the hands of his own brother.
The son’s eyes blaze with tears, as he hears these sickening revelations of his murderous stepfather.”
Someone like Netflix should turn this song into a movie or a TV series. In the meantime, pick up this spine-tingling tune on Bandcamp. Swine Tax are Vince Lisle (vocals/guitar), Tom Kelly (vocals/bass), and Charlie Radford (drums).
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