The Matinee ’18 December 13th is filled with light and darkness. Some of the songs will place a spell on you while others will get you up and moving. This is the penultimate mini-playlist of the year, so dive into these nine singles.
Be Forest – “BENGALA” (Pesaro, Italy)
RIYL: No Joy, Trementina, Swervedriver
As the shoegaze world awaits My Bloody Valentine’s new album in 2019, another of the genre’s great bands is also set to make a triumphant return. Italian trio Be Forest may not have the name recognition of the legendary Irish-English group, but they have consistently delivered albums and songs that span the dreaminess of Slowdive to the searing, punk-driven force of A Place to Bury Strangers. When their new album, Knocturne, is released in the new year, maybe they’ll finally get the global recognition they deserve. Yesterday, they served up a taste of what is to come with “BENGALA”.
The song exhibits the multi-dimensional brilliance of Costanza Delle Rose (bass/vocals), Nicola Lampredi (guitar), and Erica Terenzi (drums/synths/vocals). It reaches breathtaking levels with the signature chimes of the electric guitar, yet it is bone-chilling with the brooding percussion and harrowing bass line. Delle Rose’s vocals are ghostly yet stunning at the some time, and they elevate the song’s dark mystery. If you have ever plunged into the ocean or a lake in the deep still of night, this is what the song resembles. It is a moment of solitary bliss.
The single is out on We Were Never Being Boring Collective, who will also release Knocturne.
BLOXX – “Sea Blue” (London, England)
RIYL: LUCIA, Alex Lahey, Thyla
London indie pop-rock quartet BLOXX are a DIY success story. Before signing with boutique label Chess Club Records, they built a legion of fans the old-fashion way – playing countless number of gigs in the dungeoniest of places while treating each show like it was their last one. Now, they are one of the UK’s rising bands, which is evidenced by The Wombats asking them to open for them during their February tour. 2019 could get even better for Ophelia (vocals/guitar), Taz (lead guitar/backing vocals), Mozwin (drums), and Paul (bass), meaning that could truly break out next year. Given the numerous tour dates, including a headlining UK one, could an album be coming soon? We’re not sure, but if so here’s hoping a lot of the songs sound like “Sea Blue”.
BLOXX’s newest single is shot out of the canons of ’90s coming-of-age lore. The chiming guitars and the groovy rhythms feel like summer. Specifically, it is like the last day of the school year, where everything seems a little brighter and optimism buzzes in the air. Ophelia’s smooth vocals adds to the song’s sunny delirium, and her story is one that is made for the movies. As the words, “I’ll wait for you”, ring in the air, we can see a love-stricken, young person realizes she has nothing to lose and takes a chance. She runs in the direction of the one with whom she wishes to spend the entire summer. Or given the time of year, to spend the holidays with that special someone.
GAUCI – “Paradise” (Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: Yumi Zouma, Men I Trust, Still Corners
Not all synth-pop is equal. Some songs intend to imitate EDM (but call it synthwave), and others have the objective of sending listeners into a state of ecstasy. Or for siblings Antonia Gauci and David Gauci, their “surrogate brother” Felix Lush, and the trio’s project GAUCI, they take us to “Paradise”.
Put on your sequins blouse or your polyester white suit and get the disco ball spiraling in a frenzy, and then dance and lose yourself within this sublime number. Echoes of late ’70s and early ’80s French, Italian, and German disco synth-pop stream through the track, as waves of scintillating synths and goose bump-inducing beats fill the space. Antonia’s lithe vocals, meanwhile, are intoxicating, sounding like a voice that we only hear in dreams. And like a dream, she weaves a spellbinding story of one who thinks she has found paradise in another, but uncertainty subtly seeps into her thoughts. For us, though, there is not a single lingering doubt in our minds when we say that Australia has another special band in its presence.
Now excuse us as we include this stellar track on our New Year’s Eve playlist.
The Hubbards – “box 42” (Hull, England)
RIYL: The Orielles, Stereo Honey, Sundara Karma
Anyone who grew up in the ’90s will remember Blind Melon. While they continue to make music, they reached their peak early in their careers, just as the grunge boom had reached its peak. They amassed a huge following because former front man, the late Shannon Hoon, wrote songs that permeated with everyone. His struggles were ours, and for a brief moment we felt like someone understood the pain that was manifesting inside us. Making such a connection – artist to audience and listener to storyteller – is a powerful thing, and this experience is revived on The Hubbards‘ gripping new single, “box 42”.
Although Reuben Driver, Alex Green, Ronan Burns, and Joe Orlowski have developed a reputation as a high-energy, indie pop-rock outfit a la Sundara Karma, they consistently write poignant stories about their own struggles or the slow crumbling of our society. With “box 42”, they slow things down and deliver an expansive song that is dark yet illuminating, tense but immersive. The spindly guitar riffs and the stuttering rhythms create a sense of controlled chaos. Through the turbulence, Driver shares the story of how two people cope with the dissolution of a relationship. One cannot let go while the other wants to move on quickly.
‘Oh boy, you’re too into me.
Don’t forget all the things that I’ve said.’
‘Oh girl, don’t mention it,
But where is the box I kept by the bed?’
‘Just get over it,
You’ll get over it.
Don’t you know they are things that are tying you down?'”
The single is from their new EP, Petty Grunge Pop, which will be released on Scruff of the Neck Records. The Hubbards are a band on the rise.
Kimberly Townsend – “Steps” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Sara Watkins, Aoife Donovan, Sara Bareilles
Newport Folk Festival, which is one of the best music festivals in the world, is currently revealing some of the artists and bands who will perform at the 2019 edition. Jay Sweet and his army of staffers, volunteers, and advisors have a great knack for identifying emerging artists and giving them a platform to showcase their art. We can easily imagine that one day – maybe not next year but possibly as soon as 2020 – Kimberly Townsend stepping on to the Harbor or Quad Stage and nervously waving to an appreciate audience. By the time her 50-minute set is completed, everyone in the tent will be standing and applauding, and many will say they just heard and saw the future of folk music. The young woman who calls New York City has that kind of talent, which is revealed on “Steps”.
This is a song that must be heard and appreciated in absolute silence. It is also one that must be listened to at least twice. The first time, dedicate your attention to the fantastic composition, which features Townsend’s delicate finger-plucking, the slight deep tones of the piano, and a beautifully mournful cello. On the replay, listen to every word she has to say and the personal but relatable story she tells. It is the tale of a woman that is struggling to just to step outside and overcome a tragedy. Her songwriting is stunning, and the song is the start of something beautiful.
MAVICA – “Plastic Hearts” (London, England via Cartagena, Spain)
RIYL: Eliza Shaddad, Lauren Ruth Ward, Sharon Van Etten
Two months ago, Marta Casanova, who goes by the stage name MAVICA, stunned us with her single, “Fire”. It was a jaw-dropping introduction to the 24-year old singer-songwriter’s folk-rock world, which orbits within the same solar system as Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers. Like any planet, however, Casanova’s sphere is full of mystery and surprises. The Cartagena-born artist could easily traverse the same path as the aforementioned stars, but instead she’s opted to go bolder and a bit edgier on “Plastic Hearts”.
The track falls in between the cinematic landscapes of Eliza Shaddad and the beautifully urgent indie rock of Sharon Van Etten in her early days. As a result, it is a touch spellbinding and a bit gritty that will cause heads to nod to slow pulses of the rhythms. And like the aforementioned artists, what draws you into the song is Casanova’s poignant songwriting. Beneath the chiming guitars and arousing percussion, she quietly proclaims her return and rebirth.
“I’ve been trying way too hard
Although it’s not so easy.
When you’re staring at the edge,
You can almost see it.
I can feel the plastic hearts sweet with memories,
Lying, it’s so hard.”
The song is out now on Beatnik Creative, who will share MAVICA’s debut EP, Gone, early in 2019.
Pure Mids – “Don’t Quit” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Washed Out, Sleep Party People, Toro y Moi
In the short time we’ve been covering the Will Gonzalez and Steven Martinez project Pure Mids (we missed out on their first four releases), they’ve consistently taken us and every music into a state of intoxicating delirium. Whereas Tame Impala will swirl hallucinating psychedelic-pop, Gonzalez and Martinez head for dreamier and gentler plateaus. Their songs might be more relaxing, but they are every bit mind-bending. With that, get ready to lose yourself within “Don’t Quit”.
If you’re stressed, tense, or riled up, spin “Don’t Quit” immediately because it will immediately calm you with its glimmering synths, poppy beats, and Gonzalez’s smooth and enchanting vocals. This is what utopia must sound like because everything is absolute perfection and where our minds can just float away to somewhere more spectacular than reality. However, Gonzalez’s message is one set in the present, as he encourages anyone who is down in the dumps to stand up and take control.
“I’m listening to the tone
Of your voice.
Just make a choice,
Whatever brings you joy.
You gotta go,
These are words to live by, especially in these gloomy days.
Some Sprouts – “Separate Waves” (Regensburg/München, Germany)
RIYL: Dick Diver, Twerps, The Clean
If German outift Some Sprouts resided in Melbourne, Australia, they would more than likely be Triple J favorites and playing at some of the country’s top festivals. Their jangly, surf-rock is straight out of Victorian capital’s burgeoning indie scene. That is, music that makes you smile, feel refreshed, and just perfect to play any time of the year. And in these cold, dark days of December, we all could use a bit of light and warmth, and the quintet deliver all these things and more on “Separate Waves”.
The song is the definition of a shoulder-shimmying, hip-shaking tune. The jangly guitar notes supported by the bubbly rhythms have the relaxing effect of a cool sea breeze gently blowing on your face. Even old-timers may think they’ve been transported back to the ’60s and the era of The Kinks with the toe-tapping melody, but “Separate Waves” doesn’t stay in the past for long. A slight urgency develops during the bridge, where the guitar growls a little louder and front man David Gebhard’s vocals intensify. Despite the feelgood nature of the track, he recalls how he and a friend (or a lover) decide to go down different paths, but he is overwhelmed with regret and remorse. While they are apart, his other person will forever be within “my atmosphere”. Ah, the sound of summer bliss.
Some Sprouts are David Gebhard, Jakob Riepl, Joshua Benker, Alex Kalus, and Miguel Esteves. Get to know this band.
Steel Trees – “Deaf In One Eye” (South Yorkshire, England)
RIYL: Drenge, Royal Blood, Foo Fighters
Right now, Tom Hannon (vocals/guitar), Adam Irwin (bass), and Lee Sanderson (drums/vocals), who comprise Steel Trees, are playing in small venues around the UK. We’re not sure how it’s possible for the taverns, bars, and basement clubs to contain their raucous, alt-rock / garage-rock sound because these blokes’ music is made for huge stadiums and arenas. They are the homo sapiens answer to a wall of massive noise, and this is evident on “Deaf In One Eye”.
This tune is a monster. It’s what David Grohl and the Foo Fighters would sound like if they were making roaring, gritty, ’90s alternative rock There might only be three of them, but they’re a battalion about to lay siege to Scarborough Castle. Sanderson’s drumming explodes like a hundred catapults, which hammer juggernaut asteroids at the walls. Irwin’s pummeling bass wails like the legion of soldiers fearlessly trying to open the gates. They run at break-neck speed because Hannon’s intense guitar flames behind them. They are rallying around Hannon’s booming voice, and he shouts that losing is not an option. This is life and death, so go down in a blaze of glory.
Check out the haunted house video for the track, which offers a different take of the life-and-death scenario.
The single is out on These Bloody Thieves Records.
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