Let The Matinee ’20 March 23 edition be your escape from the surrealism outside, as the eight featured songs together form a terrific collection of short stories that are quite relevant to our times. As such, we highly recommend you hear the songs from start to finish.
Chasms – “Limits” (Los Angeles / San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Deserta, Cocteau Twins, post-punk Depeche Mode
For nearly ten years, Jess Labrador and Shannon Sky Madden have mesmerized the fine citizens of San Francisco. About midway through the last decade, their music began to be heard across the US and abroad, as they helped rekindle people’s love affair with their blend of post-punk, shoegaze, and goth-rock. But whereas some bands choose to create roaring, seismic songs, Chasms have chosen to create haunting yet ethereal experiences. Don’t call their craft “witch-rock” or “witch-punk”. Instead, call it magical, which is what “Limits” is.
“Limits” is a perfect example of Labrador and Madden’s stunning craft. It is methodical and never hurried, patiently creeping from its guttural opening to its hypnotic body. Every note is accentuated, lingering a little longer than expected and staying entrenched in your mind. This includes Labrador’s shallow, distant vocals, which hover above the harrowing pulses of Madden’s superb bass. Through this spectacle, she calmly depicts a world devoid of hope and life. A world that has been taken to its limits and can give nothing back. But if armaggedon is indeed here, there’s no better way to go out than to get lost within a marvel.
Dana Gavanski – “Small Favours” (Montreal / Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Aldous Harding, Anna Burch, Katie Von Schleicher
Toronto-based singer-songwriter Dana Gavanski probably wrote “Small Favours” several months if not a couple of years ago. The song probably was written with a particular person in mind and not necessarily about a world that would be locking down in response to a pandemic. Yet, here we are today, and her quirky, off-kilter folk-pop single seems prescient.
“Small Favours” is deliciously creative and addictive, possessing the same magnetic powers as your favorite chocolate, coffee, or pie. With each sample, something new and exciting is found. On one listen, your head may bop in unison with the off-beat rhythms. The next spin might have you humming along to the tranquil yet bubbling melody. Finally, Gravanski’s lyrics might have you saying, “That’s exactly how I feel today.” Her words are observations of our tendencies to make small things bigger than they are while trying to downplay the enormity of something serious. Kind of sounds like what we’ve going through today.
“‘Cause we are, nothing but strangers
Part-time lovers, who give small favours
Everything is also nothing
Like the flowers you bring to mark a feeling.”
Gavanski’s debut album, Yesterday Is Gone, is out this Friday, March 27th. Flemish Eye Records (Canada), Ba Da Bing Records (Americas), and Full Time Hobby (Rest of the World) will release it. Pre-order/pre-save it here.
Drens – “Saditsfiction” (Dortmund, Germany)
RIYL: Surf Rock Is Dead, Twin Peaks, DIIV
Although Drens have only been around for less than three years, they’re a band we would get on a plane to see because we’re pretty sure their gig would be one massive good time. Their brand of surf punk-rock is fun, energetic, and at times raucous. In addition to their penchant for creating hip-shaking, hair-whipping melodies, the quartet from the central German city of Dortmund write extremely clever tunes, many of which extremely timely. Their songwriting approach mirrors Speedy Ortiz, Wavves, Fidlar, Twin Peaks, and other alternative indie bands who focus on writing something meaningful instead of copying-and-pasting from the cookie cutter recipe book. Their previous single, “A Very Sunny Day”, focused on one’s isolation during the COVID-19 outbreak, and this latest tune seems like a sequel – to an extent.
“Saditsfiction” feels like a beach party. As such, at the very least you will have you bopping your head or, if you’re the more energetic type, bouncing around. Front man Fabrian Livrée’s lyrics, though, are the complete opposite of life and excitement. Instead, he describes a person who is struggling to find optimism and positivity in his life. He struggles to get out of the bed and can only think that “it seems it’s not meant to be / the way that I want things to be”. Given the state of the world, it’s hard to argue against with his outlook. Then again, music as rousing and intelligent as “Saditsfiction” is one reason to look forward to what tomorrow may bring.
Drens are Fabian Livrée, Arno Augustin, Patrick Uitz-Blickling, and Joël Brüning. Their debut EP, Pet Peeves, is coming May 15th.
Grace Joyner – “Fake Girlfriend” (Charleston, SC, USA)
RIYL: Amason, Chromatics, The Cardigans
Four years ago, Grace Joyner entered our world with songs that either made us buckle at the knees or completely tantalized us. At one point, we said, “”We cannot get enough of South Carolina native Grace Joyner, who continues to captivate us with her vivid songwriting and immersive music.” And then, she disappeared (kind of like us). She returns after a four-year hiatus and reminds us why she is of America’s most promising singer-songwriters.
“Fake Girlfriend” is a dazzler, shining brightly within today’s bleak world like Sirius glistening in the midnight sky. It is one part enrapturing dream-pop and another part delirious alt-pop. Its shimmering qualities echo the transcendent sounds of great Swedish bands like Amason and The Cardigans, yet it possesses a mysteriousness that the great Chromatics consistently forge. As a result, you’ll aimlessly dance or whirl within the spellbinding, crystalline guitar and the pulsating, deep bass line. Joyner’s immense potential, however, resides in her storytelling. She narrates a man living with a secret. A man who obsessed with a woman and continues to do so after her passing. Her lyrics are fabulous.
“How do you love a ghost?
Tell me how do you love a ghost?
How hard is it to be sweet to our fake girlfriend?
Don’t you know that she loves you, oh your fake girlfriend?
She has a shoulder whenever you need,
Then she can let you go off and be free,
Oh your fake girlfriend.”
Joyner’s sophomore LP is due later in 2020. We cannot wait!
Lee Fields – “Let a Man Do What He Wanna Do” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: James Brown, Charles Bradley, Booker T. Jones
We started off 2020 by sharing the uplifting single “Regenerate” from soul crooner Lee Fields. Its therapeutic message worked wonders then; now it’s time for a deep dive into Fields’s back catalog for some intense musical healing.
“Let a Man Do What He Wanna Do” takes us back to the earlier days of his career. Originally released in 1998 on Desco Records, the Let’s Get a Groove On album has been remastered and will be reissued by Daptone Records next month. One thing is crystal clear from the moment you hit play: this tune has all the elements of an instant classic.
In just under three minutes, Fields tells one humdinger of a tale. Supremely groovy funk riffs usher in this tale of man whose guy friend has philandering ways. “That dirty dog,” has been stepping out on his wife. As Fields channels James Brown in his vocal delivery of grunts and hollers, you almost feel like a voyeur peeking in on this steamy love triangle. This alone gives the song its “ooooh” factor. But the old-school instrumentation gets your heartbeat racing and keeps you hooked until you realize why the friend has earned the dirty dog title. Between the tight hooks and sizzling bass line, we guarantee you won’t be able to sit still while listening. Like everything Lee Fields delivers, this tune is a gift for the ears.
Pre-orders for Let’s Get a Groove On are available from these links ahead of its April 3rd release date.
Patricia Lalor – “Sleep Talk” (Wexford, Ireland)
RIYL: Yumi Zouma, Holly Humberstone, Millie Turner
Before Patricia Lalor became a teenager, she started her music career and gradually became an internet sensation. It wasn’t so much that she did some great covers. People flocked to hear and watch her because she rocks a Fender Stratocaster like a veteran guitarist, has an angelic voice that is completely hypnotizing, and writes songs well beyond her age. Now 14 years old, the Irish teenager’s next stop is world domination. As proof of her immense talents, sit back and open your ears to “Sleep Talk”.
Check that, close your eyes and float within the delicate, dream-pop haven that Lalor has crafted. From the light plucks of her Fender, the warm rhythms, and the synths touches that echo in the background, the soundscape is intoxicating and awe-inspiring. It all feels like a dream. Lalor’s lyrics, too, see her lost in memories and thoughts, as tries to recall the face of a parent, possibly a father who never returned home.
“Saw you at the stairway
That’s the last thing I remember
Then you took my hand away
You were leaving ’til September
When on the balcony with my friends (who are they, who are they?)
You said you would leave me to the end
Did you say, did you say?”
Watch the video below, which was created by Lalor and her mother.
The single is out on Friends Don’t Lie Limited. Lalor will release four more singles this year, and by that time she may be Ireland’s biggest musical export since Sinead O’Connor.
SASAMI – “Mess” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Juliana Hatfield, Veruca Salt, Jay Som
Numerous artists have started in one direction to only land on the opposite end. Sasami Ashworth, or simply SASAMI, is no different. She’s a classically trained French horn player and has played bass, keys, and guitar for a variety bands, including one of our favorites, Cherry Glazerr. She’s also contributed to studio albums for Wild Nothing, Vagabon, Curtis Harding, Hand Habits, and a host of others greats. Soon, if not already, musicians will be lining up to play with Sasami because, just like her musical talent, she can master any genre. For “Mess”, she dives into ’90s indie rock and knocks it out of the park.
Like some of the legendary artists and bands of that era, Sasami brilliantly utilizes contrasts. The fuzzed-out guitar and throbbing rhythms are the foil to her soft, delicate vocals. It’s like witnessing a bright, red kite swirling alone in the midst of a fierce thunderstorm. Where there’s thunder, there is lightning, and that comes in the form of Sasami’s honest lyrics. She looks introspectively at the mistakes she’s made, including befriending people who brought her down.
“Looking at the mess I made
Shitty people who think I’m insane
I keep on licking the dirt off the ground
Singing along to the idiot sounds.”
Sonnee – “Here” (Manchester, England)
RIYL: Bonobo, Porcelain Raft, Four Tet
To end our mini-playlist, a young man is bringing us some much-needed sunshine. Giving us a few minutes to not be concerned about what’s going on around us and to find some peace, joy, and hope. His name is Charlie, but he uses the stage name Sonnee. Although he resides in Manchester, his third single is all in French, giving us a hint that Charlie is man with a complex background and has many, unknown talents. One doesn’t need to understand the most romantic language to get completely lost in “Here”.
Sweltering, warm, tropical vibes emanate from this piece of superb escapism. Like Bonobo before, Sonnee has crafted a song that makes you want to get up and dance, doing so with our eyes closed so that the sublime beats, soothing synths, and the voices of Charlie and an unnamed woman singer dictate your every movement. That is what exceptional music should do – make you completely unaware of who is watching and for you to just confidently move in your surroundings. For you to smile and celebrate the moments you have now and to come. And for the non-French speakers, the lyrics indicate just this, encouraging all of us to rise above the conflict and turmoil and create a better place for all.
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