With so much good music, we’ve opted to do a special The Matinee ’20 February 11 edition. Six songs are on tap, which is just enough to get you going on this wintry (or summery if you’re in the southern hemisphere) February.

 

Alex Lahey – “Sucker for Punishment” (Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: Bec Sandridge, Caroline Rose, Mikal Cronin

When we were first introduced to Alex Lahey some four years ago, we predicted stardom for the Australian singer-songwriter. Not that we had much, if any, influence, but she has become one of Australia’s leading independent artists. Her music has been played endlessly on Triple J, and she’s also been nominated for ARIAs (the better, Australian version of the Grammys). Her records – B-Grade University EP, I Love You Like a Brother, and The Best of Luck Club – were filled with pop-rock anthems and clever, often personal stories. As she heads into her late 20s, Lahey is evolving. Well, sort of.

Her latest single, “Sucker for Punishment”, is another hip-shaking, wall-rattling rocker. It is intense yet infectious, energizing yet thought-provoking. Lahey’s guitar-playing is fierce in a Yannis Philippakis kind of way. Like many of her songs, her songwriter is top-notch, but she takes a slightly different path. Instead of reflecting back on a specific event or the tediousness of our lives, she looks simultaneously inward and outward, and she describes how we are consumed by technology and greed. How external forces are our puppeteers.

“Things look bad but hopefully not terminal.
Buy it up before it’s unaffordable,
Won’t look now cause there’s always someone watching.
My metadata’s gonna tell me what I want.

Jesus Christ, I am scrolling all the time.
I’m just used to it.
I swear I’m fine.

All the lyrics are below in the video. It’s worth watching and reading.

Lahey commences a European tour in March, which is followed by a short jaunt across the western US. Dates and information are here.

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Allan Rayman – “Chief” (Toronto, Canada)

RIYL: The Weeknd meets Billy Raffoul

Allan Rayman has been a mysterious enigma since emerging on the scene in 2016. The Lost Springs, Wyoming native is a genre bending artist who straddles over R&B, Blues, Rock and Soul. “Chief” is the latest release and it’s a love song and maybe a bit of a glimpse of how Rayman would possibly court a love interest.

The backing music could be from a 90s hip hop track with the addition of groovy bass and drums. Once Raymon’s soul filled voice begins it takes the forefront and is the perfect dose just before the song abruptly ends. At just over 2 minutes, it has the listener feeling it just wasn’t quite enough, yet it will have to do. Each one of Rayman’s songs are backed by a “film” which are about the only videos one can find of him online. In the video for “Cheif”, a woman reaches out via social media as his IG feed is featured as well as himself poised with a set of angel wings.

The lyrics are cryptic and might even hint that social media is a way to get to know more of the mysterious Allan Rayman.

No matter what I say or do
I cannot prove that this isn’t the first time
There’s a reason I don’t ever wanna talk
Cause I get started I don’t ever wanna stop
I’m Mr. quick fix you need it bad
I’m Mr. right now you knew that

Regardless if Allan Rayman is actually accessible via IG or twitter, there is a theme of love and lust which is released in the right month considering Valentine’s Day is right around the corner.

“Chief” Is from Rayman’s upcoming album, CHRISTIAN. Allan Rayman is about to embark upon a North American tour with dates listed here.

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Cable Ties – “Self-Made Man” (Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: Wild Flag, Control Top, Ex Hex

So much of the punk music being heard on the radio these days is of the pop variety with lyrics to match. There are still some politically-oriented, knock-your-socks-off punk-rock bands around, but they are being an endangered species. Fortunately for all of us, though, Australian trio Cable Ties are planning to stick around and melt our faces while challenging our preconceived conceptions of the world.

The trio of Jenny McKechnie (vocals/guitar), Nick Brown (bass), and Shauna Boyle (drums) have already shared one song from their forthcoming, sophomore album – the raucous “Sandcastles”, which was an anthem against the oppressive establishment. For song number two, they set their sights on the powerful once again. More specifically, while they don’t name him specifically, it’s easy to figure out who the target is on “Self-Made Man”.

With a rollicking guitar riff and a steady but urgent rhythm section (Brown’s bass line is the fuel to the song’s fire), McKenchnie pointedly reveals the truth about many of today’s elite. She immediately proclaims, “He got a leg up from his daddy, but compared to his friends who weren’t worth that much”. Later, she and Boyle holler, “No, he don’t need no one else / ‘Cause he got here by himself”. It’s a great track at just the right time. The world needs more Cable Ties – bands who are willing to challenge the perception that the status quo is just fine.

 

Cable Ties’ second album, Far Enough, arrives March 27 on Merge Records (world) and Poison City (Australia/NZ). Pre-order the record, which includes a translucent amber and black swirl Peak Vinyl, in the Merge store or wherever records are sold. It’s also available on Bandcamp.

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Palm Ghosts – “Sparks Kiss The Water” (Nashville via Philadelphia, USA)

RIYL: The National, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Interpol

Some bands have attempted to outdo The National in making brooding, cinematic indie rock, but not many have succeeded. For that matter, very few bands have been able to replicate the Brooklyn-based indie superstars’ dynamic craft. Then out of nowhere – seriously this caught us by surprise – a little band that once called the City of Brotherly Love home arrived like an unexpected thunderstorm. The band is Palm Ghosts, who electrified our ears with their single, “Sparks Kiss The Water”.

A shimmering guitar rivets in the background while a captivating rhythm section beats alongside. The ensuing, widescreen soundscape is bold, intoxicating, and at times awe-inspiring, much like The National’s most anthemic songs. Front man Joseph Lekkas’ deep baritone, which bears a resemblance to Ian Curtis, however, is what paralyzes the listener. He looks inward and outward at the demons that haunt him and keep him cemented to his position. As he states:

“I’ve waited for you
Or Fate to step in
And Dance me like sheep thru this dream
Until the next nightmare begins.”

Palm Ghosts are Joseph Lekkas (vocals/bass), Jason Springman (guitars/vocals), Rene Lambert (drums), and Benjamin Douglas (guitars/keys/vocals). Their new EP, Wide Awake and Waiting, is available on Bandcamp right now.

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Ratboys – “Anj” (Chicago, USA)

RIYL: The Beths, Frankie Cosmos, Pavement

Only 17 days until Ratboys‘ new album, Printer’s Devil, reveals itself to the world. The Julia Steiner- (vocals/guitar) and David Sagan- (guitar) founded band have already released the blissful “I Go Out at Night”, and the latest tune has the group accelerating the pace and share an icy cool rocker.

“Anj” echoes the early days of ’90s indie rock. Sagan’s overdriven guitar and the hammering rhythms mimic the era of Pavement and Built to Spill. Steiner’s vibrant vocal fills the spaces, and she shares a personal tale of a very important person (Angie, or Anj for short) who cared for her and her siblings while their parents worked. Her lyrics are touching, particularly when she says, “I’m not alone”. It’s a statement not just for herself but everyone.

Printer’s Devil will be released February 28th via Topshelf Records. Pre-order the LP on Bandcamp.

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VERO – “Burning Ride” (Stockholm, Sweden)

RIYL: The Raveonettes, The Kills, The Cardigans

Sweden’s music history is rich and diverse, and it extends well beyond ABBA. Where Sweden’s impact can be most felt is in pop, where artists and bands like The Raveonettes, Roxette, The Knife, and The Radio Dept. re-imagined the genre in innovative ways. One band, however, shone brightest, and that was The Cardigans with their driving, dreamy sound. Although the legendary band has not released any new material in 15 years and have done the odd concert here and there, their influence can still be felt across the globe and in their homeland. While they sit on the sidelines, a young band is ready to assume the mantle as Sweden’s great dream-pop band. They are VERO, and they have the potential to be an all-time Swedish great outfit, especially if they continue to release songs like “Burning Ride”.

The first words out of our mouths when hearing the song were, “This is gold!” That was quickly followed by, “This is outrageously good.” The song commences with an MGMT-style, head-nodding beat, which gives way to a hypnotic and chest-swelling soundscape. As the delirious instrumentation casts a spell, front woman Julia Boman’s enchanting vocals enter the fray, and your body just goes limp. Despite how cool and sultry her voice is, her lyrics are that of an oncoming storm, in which she is drowning and gasping to find herself. The imagery she presents is beautifully poetic. This band consisting of Boman (vocals), Amanda Eddestål (bass), and Clara Gyökeres (guitar) are going places.

VERO’s sophomore EP is expected this spring via PNKSLM Recordings.

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