On this special mini-playlist – a.k.a. The Matinee ’20 January 23 – we traverse the globe for new music. Some are slow head-shakers, others are pensive breath-takers, and others are dance-worthy. Happy Thursday or Friday wherever you may be!
Angelica Garcia – “Guadalupe” (Richmond, VA USA)
RIYL: Xenia Rubinos, Beck, Lady Lamb
If you listened to Angelica Garcia’s first album, you’d notice quite a shift on her latest singles. From “Karma The Knife” to “Jícama”, which was one of President Barack Obama’s favorite songs of 2019, Garcia has completely shed the alt-country sound that she carried on her first record. She continues that trend with her latest, “Guadalupe”. A lot of that is due to embracing her identity, wearing her roots, as a Mexican and Salvadoran as well as an American.
“Guadalupe” definitely has a lot of Latin influence, between the instrumentals to the lyrics. It has an entrancing bass that is immensely powerful. Garcia’s voice powers over it, and it sounds incredible. There’s also this sampled, repeated vocal that permeates throughout the entire song. It’s paired with an equally powerful video.
Garcia has created a sound that is uniquely hers. “Guadalupe” is a huge statement. There’s no denying Garcia’s talent as a singer or a songwriter, and now with a direction that is her own, she’s poised to become a powerful voice in a time where we need one. “Guadalupe” will be part of Garcia’s second LP, Cha Cha Palace, which is coming out February 28 on SpaceBomb Records.
Ásgeir – “Pictures” (Reykjavik, Iceland)
RIYL: Bon Iver, Bears Den, Bastille
You can always count on Icelandic singer Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson – better known simply as Ásgeir – to transport you to faraway places with his music. Perhaps Iceland’s breathtaking beauty inspires his lush soundscapes. Or perhaps he’s just a talented artist who pours his heart into every note. One thing is clear: his newest single, “Pictures”, positively soars.
For his forthcoming album, Bury The Moon, Ásgeir escaped to a remote part of Iceland where he could heal emotionally following a breakup. That solitude served him well, as the cloudy tones of “Pictures” pair perfectly with its lyrics about love and trust. We have long admired his subdued style and breezy falsetto vocals. His breakthrough 2013 single (“King and Cross”) made us instant fans. But what he delivers on this tune is a display of greater depth and vulnerability. That raw emotion, paired with those minor chords in the chorus, creates a connection between singer and listener. You share in his healing and are the better for it.
Big Fox – “Beast” (Malmö, Sweden)
RIYL: Mint Julep, Joan as Police Woman, Poliça
In the early part of the last decade, Charlotta Perers, who goes by the stage name Big Fox, was on the fast-track to stardom after her sophomore album, Now, became a critical hit in her home country. She returned in 2018 with the captivating, “The Fight”, and accompanying the single’s release was the announcement her third album was on the way. The record, however, was put on hold again. Two years later, See How the Light Falls is expected to be released in March via Hybris, and the lead single has us excited for what is to come.
“Beast” can best be described as a silky, smooth stunner. Perers’ hushed vocals are intoxicating, and the melody is at first peaceful and sanguine. Yet a slight urgency reverberates in the track, particularly in the urgent beats and the slow-building, harsh synths. Listen closely and you’ll hear the voice of a woman speaking out against coercion, violence, and force as means of control and oppression. The world we live in is Orwellian in its nature, and Perers’ delivers these feelings and observations in this brilliant piece of art.
HONEYMOAN – “Weirdo” (Cape Town, South Africa)
RIYL: Diamond Thug, Fickle Friends, Geowulf
HONEYMOAN burst onto the scene back in 2018 and grabbed everyone’s attention with their captivating single “We”. They’ve been releasing exciting indie pop tracks that ebb and flow so perfectly ever since. It’s no surprise that the foursome just recently were signed to Communion Records. We have definitely been listening as we included “Low Blow” on our Mega Playlist of 2019 from their debut EP, Body.
“Weirdo” is the title track from their forthcoming EP. It starts off light and airy as singer Alison Rachel breathily describes her love interest…..and then the bass drops and we learn they are “dancing like a weirdo”. We then move directly into a dance ready track with flowing electronic elements that perfectly frame Rachel’s vocals as they float across every calculated beat. The lyrics are smart and descriptive as they describe the awkward feelings involved in being captivated by another human being who is currently preoccupied with someone else.
HONEYMOAN are Alison Rachel, Skye MacInnes, Josh Berry and Kenan Tatt. Their sophomore EP, WEIRDO, is out later this year.
The single is out on Communion Music.
Inspired & the Sleep – “Transcend” (Los Angeles/San Diego, USA)
RIYL: Geographer, Glassio, Mating Ritual
LA based Inspired & The Sleep have been busy releasing a handful of singles which has continued to prove their talent in producing hook heavy indie pop tracks that have lyrics and writing with depth and transparency.
“Transcend” is their first release of the new year and is full on feel good lustrous pop. Even though the overall sound is completely upbeat, groovy and dance ready, the lyrical subject matter is a bit more serious as it tackles the struggles of witnessing someone close to you who is a bit out of control and possibly on a self-destructive path. The lyrics capture the feelings someone close by experiences as they plead “It kills me to see your disarray” and “cuz I can’t bear to see you live this way”. It’s a heartfelt plea for someone to evaluate their own behavior and choose a different path. The tragic reality is that loved ones and friends are often helpless as the desire to change can only come from within.
Regardless of the heavy subject matter in the lyrics, this is still a perfect track to jam while getting ready for your upcoming weekend.
Inspired & The Sleep is comprised of Max Greenhalgh and multi-instrumentalist Bryce Outcault. Their self-titled debut album is out March 13th.
Kluster B – “Counterpart” (Malmö, Sweden)
RIYL: Hater, Steve Buscemi’s Dreamy Eyes, Superorganism
Formally known as Kluster and now referred to as Kluster B, this Swedish quartet is one of the most innovative bands in the world. Listen to their 2018 album, civic, and the band invites you into their brilliant and imaginative kaleidoscope of sound. They weave together multiple genres into one experimental yet accessible melodic tonic. If you’re being introduced to the Malmö outfit for the first time, then let “Counterpart” be the gateway into their captivating world.
Rock, jazz, pop, and even a touch of funk are melded together into this infectious tune. A dark, brooding soundscape envelopes around front woman Linnea Hall’s calm vocals, as if it is the vortex of a building hurricane. The bleakness is sporadically broken up with flashes of a crystalline and then later a jangly guitar. Maybe this world they’ve created is The Twilight Zone because the person walking alongside us just might be ourselves. At least that’s what we think Hall suggests.
Kluster B are Linnea Hall (vocals), Pontus Örnstrand (keyboard), Sebastian Hegedüs (guitar), Adam Jonsson (guitar), and Andreas Pollak (drums). The single is out on Rama Lama Records.
Nap Eyes – “Mark Zuckerberg” (Halifax, Canada)
RIYL: Ought, Dick Diver, Neil Young
As a band, Halifax, Nova Scotia’s Nap Eyes have established themselves as one of Canada’s great indie-rock bands. For that matter, they are rock revivalists, channeling everyone from Velvet Underground to fellow countrymen Ought. Frontman Nigel Chapman, meanwhile, is a lyrical genius. He is one of the most gifted, clever, and imaginative songwriters, and he should be mentioned alongside Dan Bejar and Andy Shauf. The combination has yielded albums that simply were masterpieces, including 2016’s Thought Rock Fish Scale, which was one of our favourite albums of 2016, and 2018’s equally impressive I’m Bad Now. Following the every-two-years rule, Nap Eyes are about to release another album.
Snapshot of a Beginner will be available March 27th on Jagjaguwar, Royal Mountain Records, and Paradise of Bachelors with the jangle-rock opus, “Mark Zuckerberg”, kicking things off. Like every song in their catalogue, this tune is amusing yet intelligent. Chapman sets his sights on the Facebook founder and CEO, asking wryly:
“Is Mark Zuckerberg a ghost?
Where are his hands / And why don’t you ever see them in public?”
With a US election just ten months away, the song arrives at an apt time – time for people to hold the man in charge of the biggest social media platform to be held accountable for what might happen. Heck, his inaction has already resulted in the unthinkable, but maybe if he acts what might happen is what Chapman utters at the end, “Transcendence is all around us”.
Nap Eyes are Nigel Chapman, Seamus Dalton, Josh Salter, and Brad Loughead. Pre-orders of Snapshot of a Beginner are available here.
Postcards – “Freediving” (Beirut, Lebanon)
RIYL: Slowdive, Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura
Occasionally we hear a band whose music stops us in our tracks. We become entranced the moment we first hear it, as though a spell has been cast. This was our exact reaction upon hearing “Freediving” from Lebanese shoegaze band Postcards.
Our initial surprise was learning they are from Beirut, because their sound evokes the UK legends Slowdive. You also hear echoes of Belle & Sebastian and Camera Obscura, though Postcards infuse their sound with a brightness not usually associated with Scottish bands. The next surprise was learning they have been a band since 2012, yet we have only now discovered them. There is plenty to love about this group comprised of Julia Sabra, Marwan Tome, Rany Bechara, and Pascal Semerdjian. Take a plunge into the lush textures of “Freediving” and you’ll discover a world awash in pastel tones that take your breath away.
Their sophomore album, The Good Soldier, is available from Bandcamp and these other streaming/purchase links. Postcards will tour Germany and Austria in early March. A full list of dates is available here.
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