The Matinee ’20 March 25 is like a high school reunion with all the artists and bands having been featured before or making their long-awaited returns after lengthy absences. Without further ado, let’s get to the first to kick off the celebration.
Bright Eyes – “Persona Non Grata”. (Omaha, USA)
RIYL: Elliott Smith, The Frames
Ten years. That’s almost how long fans have waited for new music from Bright Eyes. Patient anticipation for a follow-up to The People’s Key (2011) has paid off: the band have shared a single and news of a new LP due later this year. That’s the good news. The inverse of that is the bittersweet tones of “Persona Non Grata.”
This tune finds frontman Conor Oberst wielding his signature melancholy as a weapon. The lyrics pierce your heart as he tackles topics of depression, despair, and passive aggression. But in true Bright Eyes fashion, even gloominess is beautiful. Here the sadness is tempered with a trio of bagpipes that befits the opening lyrics:
“Getting dressed for a date
Put on blue aftershave
Wore a kilt like a Celt
Hid the way that I felt”
Bagpipes always sound lonesome, so their inclusion here is the perfect embellishment. In these uncertain times, a new Bright Eyes album will be a comfort to us all.
Gordi – “Aeroplane Bathroom” (Canowindra, Australia)
RIYL: Sarah McLachlan, Julien Baker, S. Carey
Three years ago, Gordi, the project of Sophie Payten, shared Reservoir, a tender, blissful, and healing album. It was startling in its ambition, as the medical student (now graduate) made bold, cinematic music sound intimate. Last month, she shared the surprisingly low-key “Sandwiches”. We didn’t know it at the time, but that song was an indication of what is to come.
Her new album, Our Two Skins, arrives in three months, and she has released its opening track. Like her last single, “Aeroplane Bathroom” is a beautiful ballad. It feels simple in its approach – sparse piano paired with a hushed synth envelop Payten’s stirring yet vulnerable vocals. Each word is sung with an ache as she attempts to resolve her internal conflict. The conflict of her childhood and who she is today has resulted in anxiety and a self-identity crisis. But she soldiers on and gets her “shit together / In this aeroplane bathroom, I’m wondering why I have never seen myself before.”
Honey Lung – “Juggle” (London, England)
RIYL: The Smashing Pumpkins, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Slowdive
London shoegazers Honey Lung have been impressing us with their dynamic and evolving sound ever since 2017. They have provided us with a rich blend of mesmerizing soundscapes. “Juggle” continues to prove their talent and takes us back with a fuzzy garage laden feel.
The track is a perfect blend of psych rock and shoegaze which exhibits palpable angst. Lyrically we hear the struggles of sometimes just living everyday life including work, friends, relationships and the struggle of still feeling loneliness and pain.
Detailing their newest effort, frontman Jamie Batten explained: “Sometimes we can all feel like we’re a juggling act and it’s tiring. We wrote ‘Juggle’ initially as an angry jam that eventually turned into a song. It was one of those songs that would always be in the back of our minds and we always knew we would return to it;it was just a matter of time”
“Juggle” is the second offering from the band’s Post Modern Motorcade Music EP set for release May 29th via cult indie label Big Scary Monster.
Honey Lung are Jamie Batten (vocals/guitar), Charlie Gardener (guitar/synth), David Sherry (bass), and Omri Covo (drums).
Ringo Deathstarr – “Gazin'” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: Pinkshinyultrablast, Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine
If this was 1991, the world would be going crazy for Ringo Deathstarr. They would be mentioned as America’s equivalent to Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Ride, and Cocteau Twins, and they likely would have ignited a shoegaze renaissance in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and, of course, their hometown of Austin. And they still could very well achieve the latter, as the veteran band continues to make the great genre feel fresh and alive. They’ve done this once again with “Gazin'”.
On this track, Elliott Frazier takes the vocal lead and takes on the persona of a lost soul in an uncertain world. As the dreamy soundscape builds into a sizzling delirium, Frazier repeats, “I’m just gazin'”. His words and monotone delivery signify how despite the noise around him he cannot shake this feeling of isolation and loneliness. This feeling that the world we know has forever changed. And it certainly has. One thing that has not, though, is the brilliance of Ringo Deathstarr.
Alex Gehring (vocals/bass), Elliott Frazier (vocals/guitar), and Daniel Coborn (drums) are Ringo Deathstarr. Their eponymous new album arrives on Friday via Club AC30. It should be the perfect album to spend during our collective self-isolation.
Sondre Lerche – “You Are Not Who I Thought I Was” (Los Angeles, USA via Bergen, Norway)
RIYL: Death Cab for Cutie, Jens Lekman, Junius Meyvant
The world needs more brightness right now. Musicians are doing their part, despite being unable to control the weather or the news. Instead, they brighten our lives with song. One prime example of a musical mood lifter par excellence is Sondre Lerche. The latest from the now Los Angeles-based Norwegian singer/songwriter radiates sunny charm.
“You Are Not Who I Thought I Was” is the first single from his upcoming ninth album, Patience. If you crave danceable indie pop melodies that put a smile on your face, this song will be your new favorite. Lerche’s smooth vocals alone are enough to boost your mood. But the song’s breezy instrumentation – accented by modulated synths and horns – evokes feelings of spring. Everything feels alive and hopeful, and that’s exactly what we all crave these days.
He recently live-streamed a quarantine show from his home. You can watch that video here.
SORRY – “As The Sun Sets” (London, England)
RIYL: lo-fi Phantogram, Mitski, Black Eagle Scout
In their four years as a band, SORRY have delivered energetic often bombastic indie rock or boppy pop-rock tunes like “More”. Regardless of the decibel level or infectious quality of the song, the outfit founded by Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen always delivers meaningful lyrics. They don’t take shortcuts, such as relying on mindless repetition or writing songs about the same topics over and over. Many of their songs are simultaneously introspective yet applicable to most people. Sometimes they are prescient, such as on “As The Sun Sets.”
Like a dialed-down Phantogram, “As The Sun Sets” is a low-key, hypnotic rocker. It hums steadily like a fine-tuned car traveling through the deserted London streets at 2 AM. No distractions are around, and all you can do is focus on what lies ahead. For Lorenz, it’s the dawn of a new day and, thus, a brand new start. As the rhythms increase and O’Bryen’s guitar intensifies, she finds herself unable to step out the door. She is a prisoner in her own home and mind. “As the sun sets, I really want to run into it,” she repeats. She holds onto a linger of hope as she proclaims:
“Then I think to myself, what a wonderful world
What a hell of a day, what a beautiful girl.”
Sorry are Asha Lorenz (lead vocals/guitar), Louis O’Bryen (guitar/backing vocals), Campbell Baum (bass), and Lincoln Barrett (drums). Their debut album, 925, arrives March 27th via Domino Recording Co. Pre-orders are available on Bandcamp.
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