We return with our usual mini-playlist, now featured on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. For The Matinee ’20 – January 8th edition, the first of 2020, we offer a mix of established indie artists alongside newcomers you ought to know.
ElSea – “Road Ahead” (Pula, Croatia)
RIYL: Billie Eilish, Lana Del Rey, Tash Sultana
“WOW!” was our reaction we had when heard “Road Ahead”, the enchanting debut single from ElSea. It’s not particularly loud, nor is it a driving dance track or a whirling psychedelic experience. Instead, it is minimalist pop perfection. The slight plucking of the guitar gradually becomes an intensifying electrical wave. The rhythms mimic our accelerating heartbeat. But most impressive are her whispering vocals. There is a haunting element here that intrigues and entrances, as though she has lingered deep in your conscience for years. You might expect a song of this cinematic level to have come from an artist in their 30s or 40s, but no. ElSea is only 17 years old, a fact only increases her “Wow!” factor.
Croatia has given us the next Billie Eilish. We cannot wait to hear more from this promising artist.
Gabrielle Aplin ft. Nina Nesbitt – “Miss You 2” (Sutton Benger, England)
RIYL: Dua Lipa, Ellie Goulding, Julia Michaels
Gabrielle Aplin emerged on scene as a teenager posting covers of her favorite tracks and has since amassed a super strong fan base and even started her own record label, Never Fade Records. In 2016, Gabrielle Aplin released “Miss You”, which became one of her more popular tracks and has since been re-imagined with her newest single, “Miss You 2”.
It’s a saccharine-filled single with not only the mesmerizing vocals from Aplin but she has help from fellow indie pop singer, Nina Nesbitt. It’s definitely an ear-worm that is extremely catchy, and Aplin and Nesbitt play off each other perfectly. The lyrics capture that relationship you missed so badly and were able to reconcile. Now you know that your love is back, you won’t ever let it go.
Gabrielle Aplin is about to release her third full-length album, Dear Happy, which will be released on January 17th.
G. Love – “The Juice” (feat. Marcus King) (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Robert Randolph, Ben Harper, John Butler Trio, Marcus King Band
“The Juice” is an anthem for these troubled times. It’s the lead single from G. Love – the master of the funky jam – from his new solo album of the same name. The guy best known for heading G. Love & Special Sauce gets a helping hand here from Marcus King who lays down some sweet blues heat. The Juice also features music legends Robert Randolph and Keb’ Mo’ (who shares co-writing and co-producing credits.)
It’s obvious that G. Love (né Garrett Dutton) is fed up, and who can blame him? He addresses society’s ills with poignant lyrics: “We want world peace and we want peace of mind / We don’t need war / We don’t need more guns / We want a better world for our daughters and sons.” The “juice” here is our shared commitment to change, and G. Love is encouraging us all to drink up because “time’s up” on complacency. We’ll drink to that.
LUC – “Lost In Love” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Chromatics, Phantogram, Depeche Mode
Phantogram, BROODS, Purity Ring – they are three of the great indie-electro duos on the planet. They can create pulsating, sweat-inducing numbers or slow things down and sweep us away to another dimension. But what if they delivered music that bordered on the chilling darkwave and electro-rock of Depeche Mode in the ’80s? They would probably sound something like LUC.
Comprised of singer-songwriter Kari Kimmel and producer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Joe Corcoran, LUC have achieved a sizeable following in a short two years. Their rising popularity is not difficult to understand after hearing “Lost In Love”, a spine-tingling, engrossing affair. It’s a late-night rendezvous that we should not give into, but the sultriness of Kimmel’s vocals and the foreboding yet ethereal soundscape arranged by Corcoran draw us in and leave us no choice but to surrender to their artistry.
Mint Julep – “Stray Fantasies” (Boston, USA)
RIYL: Cocteau Twins, Metric, Stars, Perlo
What better way to greet a new year than with some blissful electro-pop? The world that Keith and Hollie Kenniff create in Mint Julep‘s “Stray Fantasies” heightens all your senses. The first 30 seconds quicken your pulse; once the chorus erupts into a union of dazzling synths and ethereal vocals, you realize you’re hooked.
Mint Julep delivers a danceable single that has fierce hooks on par with Metric and Stars. This may surprise fans who are used to the duo’s quieter sides: Keith is an established artist through his downtempo projects (Goldmund, Helios) while Hollie will release an ambient solo album later this year. Perhaps the mellowness of their individual endeavors explains their powerful union. Their creative rivers flow into a breathtaking cascade that is, quite simply, dazzling. Cinematic in scope, each layer of vocals and instrumentation enhances the song’s overall radiance. Once you enter Mint Julep’s world, you won’t want to return to your own.
The Secret Sisters – “Hold You Dear” (Muscle Shoals, AL, USA)
RIYL: First Aid Kit, Joseph, The Staves
The Secret Sisters make the kind of music you don’t simply listen to; you wrap yourself inside the cozy warmth of their harmonies. The latest from Alabama sisters Laura and Lydia Rogers is a tender ballad inspired by a first journey to motherhood. On “Hold You Dear” from their upcoming sophomore album Saturn Return, their velvety vocals are backed by an acoustic piano at first, minimal instrumentation that fits the stripped-down nature of the song. Additional strings bring depth that tugs at your heart, the latter being a skill that producer Brandi Carlile has mastered in her own career. She also co-produced The Secret Sisters’ 2017 Grammy-nominated LP, You Don’t Own Me Anymore.
The message here is simple: embrace your loved ones, for our time on this earth is fleeting. So, too, is the song: despite its nearly four-minute length, it seems to end far too quickly. “Hold You Dear” is one we will have on repeat all year long for the emotional rewards it offers. Saturn Return arrives via New West Records on February 28, 2020. Pre-order bundles are available here.
Telescreens – “Melancholy Dreaming” (New York, USA)
RIYL: Iceage, Shame, The Murder Capital
First impressions are important, but leaving a lasting impression is even better. Some songs resonate with us immediately but then fade. Others grow on us, and after each listen we appreciate them even more. The latter is the case with “Melancholy Dreaming,” the new single from Telescreens. With the subtle intensity and ferocity of indie rock and post-punk outfits Iceage and Shame, the trio of Jackson Hamm, Josiah Valerius, and Austin Brenner have delivered an anthem for those who fear missing out – not of the trivial things but rather the life and reality that surrounds us. It is about being consumed with one person or thing, losing control of one’s thoughts and actions, and waking up too late. A song for everyone trying to figure out their path and opening their eyes again. Brilliant.
Telescreens’ debut album is expected later this year, and it will feature a monstrous 17 songs. MCS Records will release it.
Thrillhouse – “One of These Days” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Daft Punk, Hot Chip, Alt-J
Every once in a while a track comes along that has to immediately be listened to again, and then again and then again. Not much is known about Thrillhouse as a band, except they are from the UK and they’ve just recently appeared on the music scene with their first single titled “One of These Days“. Their first ever offering is filled with a super groovy baseline which exudes a familiar nostalgia to it like you might have heard it before, yet it’s still progressive and timely. The vocals are on point even though it’s very possible this track was self produced by the talented duo (or trio) in a one bedroom flat (Not entirely sure).
One thing is for sure, we will be keeping tabs on Thrillhouse for future releases and maybe eventually will learn more about who makes up the band. In a sea of new independent bands releasing new music every day, it’s always still refreshing to be reminded of how much talent and great music is available at the listeners finger tips, you just have to know where to look.
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