After our migration to a new host took more time than expected, we are back with our regular programming. The Matinee ’20 January 22 edition has nine great tunes. These would have been great to kick off the work week, but they’ll also suffice for hump day. You’ll recognize several of the artists and bands, as some have been featured several times.
Art d’Ecco – “I’ll Never Give You Up” (Gulf Islands, BC, Canada)
RIYL: Yeah Yeah Yeahs meet New Order
In October 2018, Art d’Ecco released his brilliant debut album, Trepasser, which was Byrne, Bowie, and Benatar rolled up into one infectious concoction of New Wave, glam-rock, and disco. The record remains an uplifting, energetic output that should be spun on a road trip, during a workout, or in preparation for a night out. Speaking of the latter, the British Columbian is now on tour and is opening for psych-rock revivalists Temples (tour dates here). To help get people ready, he’s shared a tune that has been a staple of his live shows but now is getting the proper release treatment.
Get ready to move to “I’ll Never Give You Up”. Like the songs on his debut LP, this is an addictive ear-worm that will put a smile on your face. The rhythms, buzzing synths, chiming guitar, and Art d’Ecco’s multi-octave vocals will stimulate every cell in your body. You would have to be in a coma to resist dancing to this track. And the song’s high-energy perfectly mirrors the message of never giving up on yourself. You have to pick yourself up and live your life – which is much easier with this tune as the soundtrack.
The single is out now on Paper Bag Records.
The Ballroom Thieves – “Homme Run” (Boston, USA)
RIYL: The Lone Bellow, The Lumineers, Darlingside
Boston-based indie folk trio The Ballroom Thieves might be Renaissance painters in a parallel universe. It is easy to imagine them there creating lush art full of vibrant hues and inviting scenery. But in this realm, their artist’s brushes are the strings of Callie Peters’ cello and Martin Earley’s guitar plucked with tender precision alongside Devin Mauch’s feathery percussion. The imagery they create on “Homme Run” is as enticing as any framed masterpiece.
But don’t be fooled by the delicate tones of this folk ballad. Its placid surface belies its lyrical strength. The Ballroom Thieves excel at crafting lines as memorable as their melodies. Prepare for chills as Callie delivers this message at the close:
“I’m done… climbing broken ladders…
Listening for permission…
Done being the one without a mouth”
This is a band we have followed since their early days, for one simple reason: they are superstars in the making. Get to know them now. Their third LP, Unlovely, arrives next month. You can pre-order it from their website ahead of its February 14th release date.
Charli Adams – “Cloverland Drive” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, Nadia Reid
One artist who has recently struck a chord with us is Alabama-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter Charli Adams. Her single “Backseat” ended up on our Mega Playlist of favorite songs from 2019. What blew us away was her honeyed vocals and mature, thoughtful songwriting – or rather storytelling. Like Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers before her, she has an innate ability to turn her own experiences into those of the listener, and she’s done it again with “Cloverland Drive.”
Sit back and let Charli embrace you like a warm blanket on this chilly winter day. Her folk-rock approach will leave you breathless while her story of unbreakable bonds and lost innocence might bring a tear to your eye or flood your mind with childhood memories. Her lyrics might have you hitting the road to find the people with whom you’ve lost touched.
Adams’ debut EP, Good At Being Young, is out January 31 on Color Study. It should be a great one and a stepping stone for this American songwriting talent.
Cuffed Up – “French Exit” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Saltwater Sun, Annabel Allum, Lauren Hibberd
We believe three things bring most people together: food, sports, and music. The latter, in particular, has a way of uniting people of different ethnicities, races, political affiliations, religious beliefs, and so forth. Sometimes the love of music even leads to the formation of a band, as it did with Sapphire Jewell and Ralph Torrefranca, who met by chance at a brunch party and shared a common love for ’80s and ’90s music (like Sonic Youth, The Pixies). A short time later, they formed Cuffed Up with Joe Liptock and Vic Ordonez, and the rest is history. Well, not quite. Rather, their history is just starting to be written with many pages to go. Their story should be extensive if they continue to release songs like “French Exit”.
Equal parts indie rock and shoegaze, “French Exit” is a slow-burning gem. It is blissful yet fierce, feeling like a sun-kissed summer day with cool breezes blowing off the ocean. As the music coolly rages, Jewell rattles off lyrics about the love of her life and how the person is the only one who makes her feel that she’s not alone. Yes, it’s a love song, though not a typical one. Instead of being lovey-dovey, Jewell describes how love has changed her for the better and made her respect herself even more. This is how a great love affair should work, and maybe more people will grow fall in love with Cuffed Up as a result of this tune.
Damen – “Americana” (Gothenburg, Sweden)
RIYL: Bombay Bicycle Club, Gengahr, Two Door Cinema Club
Oh Gothenburg, what would this world be like without you? This great Swedish city is home to incredible artists like Makthaverskan, Little Dragon, José González, The Knife and more. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as Gothenburg continues to produce great musicians. One artist to watch in 2020 is Damen. During our hiatus, they impressed us with “Sagrada Familia”, which was one of our Top 20 songs of 2019. To kick off 2020, they’ve delivered a song we will still be playing and celebrating when the year ends.
“Americana” is everything we love in a song. The music is energising and urgent with a euphoric melody and rhythms that mimic our heartbeats. The cinematic pacing gradually entices us more, ebbing into a sanguine abyss before reaching its mind-blowing, fist-pumping conclusion. The lyrics of complacency and indifference further intensify our fandom. We cannot wait to see what Gothenburg’s next great indie band has in store.
Damen are Danial Bin Ismail Ärlig (vocals/guitar), David Nordell (bass), Adrian Gejrot (drums) and Gustav Bondesson (guitar). The single is out on Swedish boutique label, VÅRØ Records.
Lee Fields &the Expressions – “Regenerate” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Charles Bradley, Michael Kiwanuka, Curtis Mayfield
When your body is sick, you consult a doctor to administer healing treatments. The same goes for your broken heart, though the best medicine for heartache often comes in the form of melodies, not pills. One of the leading providers of soul rejuvenation is Lee Fields & The Expressions, the Brooklyn-based practitioner who has been in practice for four decades. The band’s latest release has restorative properties for the heart and mind, which is exactly what we all need as this new era begins.
“Regenerate” is an unreleased track from the recording sessions of last year’s It Rains Love LP. Let its message of resilience comfort you. Let its southern-inspired melodies take you to a place of grounding so you can move forward in a spirit of love. That is his message, delivered with the heartfelt passion that has always been Lee Fields’ signature. Trust us: you will want to keep this one on repeat for a good long while.
This track is available via Big Crown Records on Bandcamp.
Surf Rock is Dead – “Diabolik” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: DIIV, Daywave, Beach Fossil
Since our early years when we shared weekly mini-playlists, Kevin Pariso and Joel Witenberg’s project, Surf Rock Is Dead, has been a mainstay. Heck, they were on our very first feature. Their combination of surf rock and dream pop first caught our attention, but over time they’ve added new textures to their jangly, vibrant style. On their latest single, “Diabolik”, for instance, they turn to darker corners.
The track maintains the band’s upbeat, bopping rhythms, but underneath lies psychedelic and post-punk elements, particularly in the rhythms and chiming guitar that echoes during the bridge. The inclusion of these genres adds a stark hue across the otherwise bright track, as if day and night are at war. In many ways, this conflict is illustrated in the lyrics, but the battle is with those you know as well as internal.
“You are now the enemy / Walking on my own again
Something says you’re dead to me / Walking on my own”
“Diabolik” is the lead single from the band’s long-awaited debut album, Existential Playboy. The LP drops May 1st, and we cannot wait to hear it.
Son Little – “neve give up” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Leon Bridges, Curtis Harding, The Roots
Mid-January is the time when those New Year’s resolutions become harder to stick to. Our willpower is tested. Our resolve can weaken if we don’t find ways to stay motivated. We seek out sources of inspiration to help us keep up the fight. One tune sure to revive our spirits is the latest from Son Little. His smooth R&B anthem “neve give up” is an empowering mantra worth repeating daily (or hourly, if need be). We can all relate to these lyrics that remind us to keep fighting no matter the situation:
Though I’m battered and blue
Feel like I’m born to lose
Though I never been, never been, never
Never have I been so low
Now there’s only one way to go
Never will I give up”
Stripped-down songs can have a huge impact. The message here is simple, as is the accompanying piano and bass. But there is nothing simple about the result: “neve give up” is the anthem the world needs to hear right now. Look for it on Son Little’s new album, aloha, due January 31 from Anti-. Pre-order it here.
We Were Strangers – “One By One” (Manchester, England)
RIYL: Daughter, Hundred Waters, Portishead
We have a habit of saving a particularly breathtaking song for the end of the playlist – one you want to play on repeat to fully absorb every mesmerising note. Today that honour goes to We Were Strangers who have unveiled the lush “One by One.”
Started by Stefan Melbourne and with one full-length to their name (2017’s Beneath a Broken Sky), We Were Strangers enthrall us yet again with the new EP, All the Good We’ve Done. If the entire record sounds like “One by One”, everyone will hail this project as the next Portishead.
Like the English shoegaze giants, We Were Strangers craft gorgeous cinematic works. It is majestic at its heights and hushed at its softest points. There is not a single moment where your attention fades. Instead, all your senses are transfixed to the mysterious melody, the quiet thunder of the rhythms, and the haunting vocals. And like the music, the song tells of us slowly losing ourselves and fading away, where we “fall to the other side.” Where we land is unknown, though when it sounds as stunning as this, we will gladly let ourselves fall.
The four-track EP is available via Position Music.
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