Your weekend soundtrack offers nine new music gems to discover. The Matinee ’18 November 16th edition features brooding indie rock, ethereal electro-pop, and an ambient-pop tune to remember. Grab your headphones and dive into these tunes from artists in Australia, Canada, England, Scotland, and the USA.
Karen O & Danger Mouse – “Lux Prima” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Karen O, Danger Mouse, anything sensational, mysterious, and celestial
There are collaborations people can only dream about and never really think could come true, and yet the amazing Karen O and producer Danger Mouse have teamed up for at least one song. When two incredibly gifted artists come together, the result is something usually great. Or in the case of what they’ve crafted, it is well beyond that superlative.
“Lux Prima” is simply extraordinary and remarkable. At nine minutes, it is the musical equivalent of a Stanley Kubrick film – an epic feat of art that transcends any individual’s imagination while challenging our notions of what is possible. The song is three parts, and it commences with an ethereal, cosmic approach, as Danger Mouse’s production work traverses the universe with Karen O’s voice acting as the celestial body that guides us past stars and planets. The duo then take us back to Earth and to ’40s Paris. A mysterious, film-noire vibe fills the air, and Karen O lustfully sings, “There is nobody but you”. She’s not, however, singing about a lover or an ex, but she’s singing about us and how we are alone in this dimension.
Finally, they take us through the rabbit hole with a sensual and soothing soundscape. This might be heaven or maybe we are stuck purgatory or some realm between fantasy and reality. Wherever it is, it is sublime and beauty. It is a place we don’t wish to leave anytime soon because we are in complete awe.
The Twilight Sad – “VTr” (Kilsyth, Scotland)
RIYL: The Cure, Editors, mastersystem
A certain sadistic ripple runs through The Twilight Sad‘s music: frontman James Graham’s powerful vocals caress you while you succumb to blissfully biting instrumentation. The firsts songs from their forthcoming album, IT WON/T BE LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME – namely “Videograms” and “Missing Face (I/m Not Here)” – are sonic lashings with a primal energy, as though the Scottish rockers aim to exorcize angst through amplified rage. That intensity is especially raw yet cathartic on “VTr.”
Indeed, the tune is an emotional response to life and death. Graham’s soaring delivery of the line “There’s no love too small” is especially poignant considering it is inspired by the birth of his son. But that event’s joy remains yoked with the pain of Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison’s death in May. Those conflicting feelings hit you immediately and grow as Graham repeats the lines “I don’t know who to trust.” What follows is a maelstrom of densely layered guitars, bass, and shimmering synths. Meanwhile, new drummer Sebastien Schulze metes out impeccably timed percussive blows that leave you gasping for breath. We’ve said it before but it bears repeating: this is The Twilight Sad at their pinnacle of their career.
“VTr” should be played loud and often.
IT WON/T BE LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME arrives in January from Rock Action Records. You can pre-order it here then get this single from iTunes. European fans can catch the Sad on their current headlining tour. Trust us: their live shows are not to be missed, especially with this powerful new material.
The Twilight Sad are James Graham (vocals), Andy McFarlane (guitar), Johnny Docherty (bass), Brendan Smith (keys), and Sebastien Schultz (drums).
Ah Trees – “How Long Must We Wait” (Perth, Australia)
RIYL: Duran Duran, Joy Division, Bauhaus, Civil Twilight
There are dozens of excellent Australian artists and bands who are reinventing the familiar. Everyone knows what Kevin Parker and Tame Impala have done with neo-psychedelia, and Courtney Barnett is redefining the singer-songwriter term. Meanwhile, groups like Methyl Ethel, The Belligerents, Camp Cope, City Calm Down, Gang of Youths, and scores more have extended indie’s boundaries. We now need to add the name Ah Trees to this list (and we assume many did this before our suggestion). If this is the first time you’re hearing about the band (like for us), then you’ll completely understand our excitement after hearing “How Long Must We Wait”.
This song is beyond our comprehension, which is something that we don’t often say. It is a spectacular mélange of sound and influences that includes the new wave-pop of Duran Duran to the chiming post-punk of Joy Division and Bauhaus. And yet, the modernity of the Civil Twilight rings loud and clear, where Charles, Germy, Harry, Bryn, and Ryan have taken the familiar and turned it into something spectacularly refreshing. Specifically, they’ve concocted a song that leaves you shaking in your boots yet is completely exhilarating. It’s like the oncoming apocalypse that will bring a new world order (which the lyrics allude to), but in this case it’s one we welcome with open arms despite our fears.
We’ll be paying attention to Ah Trees more closely, which goes without saying.
Altameda – “Losing Sleep” (Edmonton, Canada)
RIYL: Ryan Adams, Whiskeytown, Strand of Oaks
“Losing Sleep” is the newest single from Altameda. It’s a raucous and energetic single that will hold your full attention. The single also represents a great representation of the actual lyrical content. The urgency and cadence fully encompasses the theme of the track. The harmonies are quite infectious and it’s a perfect single to put on repeat. We can only imagine hearing this song performed live would be quite an experience.
The band proclaim that ““Losing Sleep” is an echoing shout from the bottom of the well of human emotion. Not a cry for help, but rather a cry of resilience while clawing your way back to the surface.”
The single is out now on Cadence Music, who will also release the band’s new album in 2019. Altameda are Troy Snaterse, Todd Andrews, Matt Kraus, and Erik Grice.
Belle Game – “Only One” (Vancouver, Canada)
RIYL: Austra, Phantogram, Warpaint, Zola Jesus
Music lovers understand the euphoric rush some bands produce – it’s what leaves us weak in the knees. This is also why we do what we do: chasing that next rush so we can write about the great new bands that set our souls alight. Canadian indie band The Belle Game had that effect on us five years ago. We became hooked on the sensual ripples in their electronic-driven dream pop. Time has been good to them: their already electrifying chemistry is even stronger, as evidenced on their new single, “Only One.”
This tune dazzles with prismatic elements – airy vocals from Andrea Lo balance the darkly pulsing synths – while layers of ethereal backing vocals swirl throughout. There is an urgency here that drives you forward. Every passing minute pushes you toward a place of release where the outside world disappears, where the only thing you’re aware is your own body lost in blissful motion.
The repeated refrain of “Why can’t you say you love me now? / Why can’t you say you need me now” is empowering in its simplicity. This B-side from their 2017 album, Fear/Nothing, is all we need to get through the end of this year.
CLAVVS – “Echo” (Brooklyn via Atlanta, USA)
RIYL: GEMS, Meadowlark, Dahlia Sleeps
CLAVVS duo Amber Renee and Graham Marsh are back with a new track titled “Echo”. The vocals float effortlessly over the driving bass. Their newest single provides a nice contrast between Amber’s mesmerizing vocals and a bit of a dark vibe included on the electronic elements. “Echo” is the perfect track to spin while getting ready for an upcoming night on the town. The beats are very dance-ready yet Ms. Renee’s soaring vocals provide a bit of a relaxed state of mind even with the dark nostalgic undertones.
The lyrics tackle almost a haunting of one’s past: “Your face is haunting my mind And even when I dream You find your way into my dreaming life”
Amber shares a bit deeper about the lyrics of their newest release: “‘Echo’ is kind of a dark nostalgia song that holds a lot of my sadness from the past. I’ve carried around guilt and regret about a decision I made a long time ago that hurt someone I loved. It’s followed me for too long, which is why the echo metaphor feels so true for me.”
The duo have been releasing some really great singles so far this year. It’s possible the will be compiled on an upcoming EP or album, but there is no confirmation just yet.
IV League – “Lose Me” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Daughter, Hop Along, Camp Cope
The Matinee on Friday is usually dedicated to upbeat, exhilarating, and energizing music. However, there are times where we make exceptions and have to share a tune that moves you in other ways. A song that just blows you off your feet, causes you to fall down, and leaves you in utter awe due to its power. This song is “Lose Me” from one of Melbourne’s outstanding indie-rock bands, IV League.
It goes without saying that you might want to sit down before hitting play. “Lose Me” is like Daughter amped up several decibels, where instead of a slow-moving storm it is a typhoon that approaches. Lachie Gilmour’s harrowing guitar booms through the pounding rhythms, and they reach anthemic levels at the 2:45 mark. Front woman Bella Venutti, though, is the star. With one of the greatest voices around, she tenderly brings us into the track before devastating our souls as her voice erupts into a dazzling display of urgency and desperation. She hollers, “Don’t lose me darling / I’ve lost the feeling”, to a person from her past. However, she’s not just dealing with a broken heart. She is also battling a mental war that lingers in her mind, where she struggles to find a new path that brings her back to the present and into the future. Her lyrics are knee-buckling and her voice is mind-blowing.
IV League’s debut album is expected early in 2019. We cannot wait to hear it.
Martin Frawley – “End of the Bar” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Twerps, The Ocean Party, Happyness
It’s been a while since Martin Frawley was on our radar. The Australian multi-instrumentalist has moved on from his jangle-rock project, Twerps, opting for solo eponymous creations instead. The demise of great indie bands is easier to bear when the solo debut shines like Frawley’s Undone at 31 does.
Take the LP’s second single as an example: “End of the Bar” is deceptively straightforward: the vocals and music go down so smoothly you don’t feel its potency. It’s not until you’re halfway through the song that you realize you’re in danger of becoming hooked on its warm, breezy tones. Frawley’s spot-on channeling of Lou Reed is the clincher, turning an otherwise catchy indie rock tune into an anthem with attitude for days. This one-two punch is your demise. The lyrics are both a subtle wink and a dare to venture forward:
“I am exactly what you need
If you need me, yeah you’ll find me / I’m at the end of the bar
Don’t come smiling / Don’t come easy
‘Cause I’ll hit you in the heart”
If you like your indie tunes full of sass and swagger, look no further. Sidle up to “End of the Bar” and see what unfolds. The other single we’ve heard from the album (“You Want Me?”) leads us to believe this debut will be a bright spot when it arrives early next year.
SPINN – “Bliss” (Liverpool, England)
RIYL: Stereo Honey, Cavalry, Thyla
And finally, the world is getting on SPINN‘s bandwagon, as they recently signed with community label AntiFragile Music. For over a year-and-a-half, Jonathon Quinn (vocals/rhythm guitar), Andy Power (lead guitar/synthesizer), Sean McLachlan (bass/backing vocals), and Louis O’Reilly (drums/backing vocals) have been tickling our ear drums with their anthemic, indie jangle pop-rock, although this description understates their artistry. A better way to describe the four Liverpudlians’ music is that it merges light with darkness – like a storm illuminated by dozens of lightning strikes – which they demonstrate on “Bliss”.
The probing bass line and the shoegaze haze that fills the air create the dark and mysterious soundscape, but through it rings the hallow sounds of a jangle guitar riff. The combination is hypnotic, akin to staring at the flames emanating from the campfire deep in the woods. In such moments, your mind drifts towards a distant memory, and in this case it is wondering if an old friend or an ex has found his peace. Has found her “paradise, living in bliss”. Soon, the rest of the world will rediscover the meaning of bliss when they describe this incredibly talented English band.
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