Today, Bandcamp is giving 100% of all sales to artists and bands, waiving its transaction fees for 24 hours. So where possible, The Matinee ’20 March 20th edition uses Bandcamp links. If not, we’ve opted for YouTube to help these talented individuals monetize their art.
Control Top – “One Good Day” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Ex Hex, The Joy Formidable, Wild Flag
Need a reminder that the world isn’t going to hell? Let emerging Philadelphia punk trio Control Top prove it to you. Their first single of 2020 is an absolute face-melting scorcher that acts like defibrillator paddles on your cold, cynical heart. Not only do they not tolerate cynicism, on “One Good Day” they do a damn fine job of convincing you not to, either.
Their sonic assault happens the moment the drums begin. Then frontwoman Ali Carter reveals powerhouse vocals and an equally potent message. She gets it: things suck, and there isn’t much we can do to improve the world around us when we spend our time in insular retreat mode. Simply put: sulking gets us nowhere. To combat those feelings, Control Top deliver a swift, three-plus minute ass kicking. This anthemic rallying cry gets an added boost from searing guitars and bass while Carter sings “It’s simply a gimmick to play the role of the cynic.” The band’s chemistry shatters the walls through the verses and choruses:
“You’re not the only one with problems
We’re all fighting for one good day
Just tell me something positive
I don’t care if it’s cliché
You’re not the only one with problems you won’t solve today”
You may feel compelled to “bang your head agains a wall until it’s all over,” but try to stop before inflicting a concussion because you’ll want to be fully awake for the fury they unleash at the bridge. They remind us that our only option in these trying times is to fight anyway. Keep this song on repeat for maximum motivational effect. Trust us: your improved mental focus and energized heart will thank you.
Get this song on Bandcamp for just $1 USD and support this incredible band.
Control Top are: Ali Carter (vocals/bass), Al Creedon (guitars), and Alex Licktenhour (drums).
Holly Humberstone – “Falling Asleep at the Wheel” (Grantham, England)
RIYL: Maggie Rogers, Lorde, HAIM
Last month, 20-year old Holly Humberstone wrecked us with her debut single, “Deep End”, which introduced the Grantham native to the world and immediately made her an artist to not just watch but to follow closely. Unlike many young artists, it wasn’t the delicate, raw instrumentation of the song that grabs you, but her impeccable songwriting talent. Her maturity and intimacy are well beyond her years, and her newest tune once again has us in complete awe.
Whereas “Deep End” was beautifully devastating, “Falling Asleep at the Wheel” is a stunning and exhilarating rhapsody. At first, it is a sonic dazzler, featuring just keys and Humberstone’s stirring vocals. She recalls seeing someone close begin a personal free-fall. She sings,
“Oh, you never smoked this much before we met
Light up, light up another cigarette.
I can tell you’re drinking only to forget
Don’t know how I got you in such a mess.”
Gradually, the song builds into an toe-tapping, widescreen piece of exhilaration, where all you want to do is swirl under the steady beats and the steely guitar. Humberstone’s steady voice, however, remains the beacon because, while we lose ourselves in the music, she and her companion are similarly spiraling out of control. Not even the biggest names in music can deliver lyrics that crush one’s soul, and Humberstone already is 2-for-2. We’ll say it again – she’s going to be a star.
I Break Horses – “Neon Lights” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Chromatics, Porcelain Raft, Young Galaxy
With the first day of spring now behind us, we can look forward to warmer weather, birds chirping, and flowers blooming. We can also start counting down the days to when the musical event of the season arrives. On May 8th, I Break Horses will release their long-awaited new album, Warnings, via Bella Union. When Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck announced earlier in the year they had new music to share, we and tens of thousands of others became excited. Then they shared “I’ll Be the Death of You” and “Death Engine” within days of each other, we collectively exalted. This week, we rejoice at the arrival of “Neon Lights”.
“Neon Lights” is a reminder of the duo’s ability to make synth-pop a euphoric and majestic experience. Just like the song title, the synths shimmer like stars in the darkness, brightening this bleak world in which we currently live. Offering us an escape from the post-apocalyptic feeling that surrounds us. Within this array of glittering lights and effects is Lindén’s intoxicating, layered vocals. She sounds distant yet close, calmly encouraging all of us outsiders to find a little hope and optimism. To be “the demon in your righteous hand”.
Only two more months to go…
Locate S,1 – “Even The Good Boys Are Bad” (Athens, GA, USA)
RIYL: St. Vincent, Liz Phair, Blondie, Of Montreal
Despite all the bad news lately, music remains the one very bright spot. It’s only March, but we feel confident declaring 2020 as the year of Locate S,1. This project of Christina Schneider is a positive force for inventive, expressive indie art rock that’s powerful enough to distract you from the outside world. Let’s face it: we don’t just want to be distracted; we need something we can cast our collective gaze upon and find catharsis amidst chaos. Locate S,1 has provided that on this year’s earlier singles (“Whisper 2000” and “Personalia”). The newest from the forthcoming Personalia LP continues that streak of brilliance.
“Even The Good Boys Are Bad” is a whipsmart slice of art rock with hooks as searing as its lyrics. The danceable beats and jangly guitar are a red herring: listeners mistake the song’s edginess as simply badass. But any discerning indie music fan worth their salt knows not to underestimate smart songwriters who wield their lyrical pens like swords. As an accomplished lyricist, Schneider casts her scornful gaze on so-called “good guys” whose intentions are anything but good. Every woman knows guys like this; every man thinks they aren’t like this. The truth is:
“Even the good boys are bad
Even the best ones
Even the good sons
Even the good ones are bad”
Savor every beat of this deliciously groovy tune. Schneider’s underrated musicianship shines here on guitar and synths. Meanwhile, her artist partner and co-producer Kevin Barnes (of Montreal) contributes on vocals, guitars, bass, synths, and percussion.
Other Lives – “Hey Hey I” (Stillwater, OK, USA)
RIYL: Shearwater, Okkervil River, Mt. Joy
This mini-playlist is filled with songs that reflect this weird and wacky world we live in today, and most of the music was written well before the current pandemic. The songs reflect how artists not only voice our feelings but how they can capture and even predict what is to come. A song that does both is “Hey Hey I”, the new single from Oklahoma’s greatest band today Other Lives.
“Hey Hey 1” is a rousing piece of orchestral pop-rock. From the get go, it gets the blood flowing, and from there the adrenaline only flows faster. You’ll be left wanting to run out and take on the world and prove to all the naysayers that you are capable of anything. This song is just that – an anthem for the underdog and those who have been beaten down. A booming piece of self-confidence that we all could use today, tomorrow, and well into the future. And especially come November. As front man Jesse Tabish eloquently says:
“How many times will you let them run you empty?
How many times will you let them suck you dry?
Oh, you try to rest but you know they’ll come to find you, oh-oh-oh-oh
You said, ‘Hey, man, somethin’ don’t feel right.’”
Snowgoose – “The Making of You” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: Fleetwood Mac, Fairport Convention, Belle and Sebastian
We normally prefer to share upbeat tunes on the weekend. However, these aren’t “normal” times. Now that we’re all social distancing, every day is, to quote a certain band, “like Sunday” in its angst-triggering way. This makes us especially grateful for calming folk-rock from the likes of Snowgoose. The Scottish duo comprised of Anna Sheard and Jim McCulloch (of Soup Dragons fame) – joined by a star-studded cast of Scottish musicians – weaves a tapestry of soothing, mildly psychedelic melodies on “The Making of You.” It’s precisely the kind of tune your soul craves as you sip a Balvenie in rainy day repose.
Close your eyes while this four-minute track strips you of anxiety. Note how your breathing slows as you focus on the retro-inspired harmonies. This collaborative project features members of Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura, and Teenage Fanclub, so you can count on lush textures. But the throwback vibes that echo Fleetwood Mac infuse the layers with an irrepressible serenity. A solitary drum rumbles a hushed yet steady pulse. About halfway through, the lonesome lap steel and melodica crescendo into a chilling apex. What has felt like a slow climb now concludes the moment you open your eyes and behold the view from the summit. It’s a breathtaking experience made all the more special by its calm rewards.
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