The Matinee ’20 January 27 will ease you into the work week. There are some light, dreamy numbers and groovy tunes. Oh, there is also a wall shaker in case you need an audio caffeine kick. We start things off with an aptly-titled track.
BC CAMPLIGHT – “Back To Work” (Manchester, UK via Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Portugal. The Man and Washed Out meet “Weird Al” Jankovic
Yep, it’s Monday, which means we must return to our mundane work lives. For some this means voluntarily entering the confines of four walls while others may be outdoors or performing services for other people. The worst thing about Mondays is that the few freedoms we enjoy expire. Articulating this sense of inevitability is Brian Christinzio through his project BC CAMPLIGHT and his new song, “Back to Work.”
The song is simultaneously amusing yet real and thoughtprovoking. Also ingenious is how the Philadelphia native mixes breezy ’70s-era pop with a gritty, low-key industrial approach. This topsy-turvy journey reflects the often wild rides the first workday brings. The song, however, is more than just about “manic Mondays”: Christinzio also shares the internal challenges he’s faced – or as he describes, “an examination of madness and loss.” He recalls a conversation with his mother (where she forgot an important fact about her own son) that adds humor to the situation:
“I told my mom I wanted to kill myself
She said Brian grow up / You’re 40 years old
Ain’t it time to stop that shit?
But I can’t save the world
And by the way mom / I’m 41,
And I’ve just begun.”
BC CAMPLIGHT’s new album, Shortly After Takeoff, will be released April 24th on Bella Union. The record is the third in Christinzio’s “Manchester Trilogy” following How to Die in the North (2015) and Deportation Blues (2018).
Caspian – “Division Blues” (Boston, USA)
RIYL: Mogwai, MONO, Explosions in the Sky
Post-rock as a genre is often cinematic in scope, with bands like Mogwai and MONO leading listeners on memorable journeys. But equally impressive is Boston-area band Caspian whose output always leaves fans speechless. Their latest LP, On Circles, arrived this past Friday and features more of the exquisite passages that have earned them global accolades. [Note: if this is your first time hearing Caspian, we urge you to find a comfortable seat immediately.]
Take the sweeping, seven-minute instrumental epic “Division Blues” as an example: it places you on a seaside cliff edge with storm clouds overhead. As its tempo builds, you can easily visualize waves crashing on the rocks below your feet. Those textures soon plummet to a whisper softness before another set of waves form and steal your breath.
One thing you can count on with Caspian is their dynamic exploration of highs and lows. Their tones work a peculiar kind of magic on the listener, the kind that leaves you wide-eyed and slack-jawed. Crank this one when you need a rush of adrenaline to clear your thoughts. We guarantee you’ll emerge revitalized – once you regain the ability to breathe.
Highasakite – “Under The Sun” (Oslo, Norway)
RIYL: Lykke Li, Aldous Harding, Susanne Sundfør
Since their formation in 2010 as Highasakite, Helene Håvik and Trond Bersu have crafted exhilarating electro-pop songs that have moved fans to endlessly dance, euphorically raise their arms out, and escape to another place for a few minutes. Their newest single, however, will move people in unexpected ways.
“Under the Sun” is a gorgeous slice of intimate, cinematic pop. The instrumentation, highlighted by echoing strings and delicate piano, is restrained yet embracing. They form the malleable canvas on which Håvik stands and shines. Her voice is bone-chilling in its quiet moments and breathtaking at its grandest heights. It holds you like a vice grip, with no way or will to break free. In addition to the song’s captivating qualities, Håvik encourages us to stay strong even when we are at our weakest, to find the light even in the darkness.
“Under the Sun” is out now via Propeller Recordings. No word on when a new album will arrive from these Nordic superstars, but hopefully it will be soon.
JETTA – “Livin'” (London via Liverpool, England)
RIYL: Caribou with Diane Ross, Maribou State
The late ’60s and early ’70s brought us Krautrock and eventually a whole new wave of genres emerged: techo, industrial, New Wave, electro-pop, EDM, and more. The ’90s ushered the era of club music that merged the hypnotic tones of ambient and trip-hop with pulsating house. With each passing decade, this sound slowly disappeared in favour of louder, brasher, and more aggressive tones. But maybe, just maybe one artist will rewind the tape and reinvigorate a lost era.
JETTA is her name, and the DIY artist from Liverpool is making the ’90s cool again with songs like “Livin'”. Stop everything you’re doing and listen. Let your body move to each beat and buzzing synth note. And more importantly, do as JETTA says, when she sings: “‘Cause when your heart starts tickin’ like a bomb / You gotta start livin’.”
Life is short, so enjoy it. Get up and dance until the end of days.
JETTA wrote, produced, and released the song on her own. She’ll be at SXSW, where fans and industry folks can learn more about her methods and DIY attitude. Hopefully by then she will share more details about an eventual album.
lié – “Drowning In Piss” (Vancouver, Canada)
RIYL: Preoccupations, Savages, L.A. Witch
After sharing a few calmer or chilled tunes, it’s time to put the foot on the accelerator and rev up The Matinee. Fortunately for us, one of Canada’s great post-punk bands released a fiery and intense single that fits exactly what we need.
Call it a palette cleanser or a wall-shaker, Lié‘s new tune, “Drowning In Piss”, is definitely one thing: awesome. It is a full-throttle, hold-nothing back flame-thrower that will have punk fans thrashing around, wailing their heads, and losing their shit. The searing guitar, the pummeling rhythms, and co-frontwoman Ashlee Luk’s vocals register a 10 on the Richter Scale. Her lyrics, too, are biting and ferocious. Given this is a Monday, they can be interpreted as a “fuck the system” mantra because those in power only want to see us crash. We have to share the video, too, because it’s surreal. It’s seriously like a Dali painting brought to life.
NANCY – “It’s Just You” (London, England)
RIYL: Julia Jacklin, Widowspeak, Juanita Stein
Songs about the dissolution of a relationship often take on a harsh approach – either in the music or the lyrics. Rarely does it sound beautifully vindictive, where you’re left in awe of the arrangements yet prepared to throw a right hook in defense of our protagonist. This is the power of “It’s Just You”, the latest single from London-based duo NANCY.
Through the melancholic, indie-rock approach that features Freddie’s lingering, stirring guitar, frontwoman Natalia’s bold vocals devastate not just our souls but crush the heart of her estranged partner. She sings with a bitter gracefulness:
“Why can’t I face you again? I’m just too tired to pretend
I’m a little more drunk than I wanted to be
Just a little too much I wanted you to see
Don’t call me, don’t tell me it’s hard
Just leave me, I just need a little more time
It’s just you, I’m waiting on”
The duo’s new EP is expected later in 2020 or early 2021. Don’t wait for NANCY to make it big; hop on their bandwagon now.
Sea Wolf – “Fear of Failure” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: The National, Great Lake Swimmers, Okkervil River
You only get one chance at a first impression, usually. But that may not be the case for Sea Wolf: their forthcoming album may be how new fans discover this beloved indie band.
Through a Dark Wood – the first new Sea Wolf music in six years – is the patience-testing follow-up to the band’s 2012 LP, Old World Romance. Fortunately for longtime fans, Alex Brown Church maintains his intimate sound on lead single “Fear of Failure.” Musically this single shines with its warm tones and sweeping instrumentation. But lyrically it is a home run, reminding us that we are not alone in battling our harsh inner critic. The only thing better than the soaring chorus and minor-key hooks is how deeply the lyrics resonate with all who listen:
“I have to be brave
Even though I’m still afraid…
I just want to hide myself away
And pretend that everything is fine”
Silver Torches – “Golden Days” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Pedro the Lion, Noah Gundersen, Damien Jurado, David Ramirez
On days when your heavy heart needs a release, indie singer/songwriters make the best conduits. You can sing along with them in the car or shower while their music proves as beneficial as therapy. Seattle-based artist Erik Walters – aka Silver Torches – is especially adept at creating emotionally resonant songs like that, as evidenced on his newest single, “Golden Days.”
You can’t help but be pulled into this song from the opening notes. The first 30 seconds tease the song’s direction, leaving you guessing which genre road it will take. The result is late-night Americana road trip – in other words, the perfect soundtrack for a therapeutic drive. “Golden Days” is the instantly addicting type of song you’ll listen to a thousand times and never lose interest. Anyone who’s ever read a goodbye note or driven with sunglasses covering their tear-stained cheeks will relate to its message and its bittersweet chorus:
Golden days / rose-colored glass / two birds of a feather
By and by all things must pass / Love ain’t forever
If you like singers with the honeyed vocals of Noah Gundersen and David Ramirez paired with the storytelling of Damien Jurado and Pedro the Lion, you have found your next favorite artist in Silver Tongues.
Silver Torches’ fourth album, Bermuda Dunes, is due March 20. Check his website for details and to explore his back catalog.
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