Like many of you, we awoke this morning hoping to hear that the first three months of 2020 was one big joke. Unfortunately, it is not. With this sobering reality in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to look forward. Start your day with The Matinee ’20 April 1, which features another lucky 7 songs.

Augustine – “Picking Up Speed” (Gothenburg, Sweden)

RIYL: poppier version of Destroyer, Töth, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

We kick off The Matinee with a song to help you forget all the insanity we’ve experienced in 2020 so far. An emerging artist will soon take his home country of Sweden by storm before attracting fans worldwide. That artist is Augustine, who very well could become this decade’s Robyn, as he was named Pop Artist of the Year at the 2020 Swedish Independent Music Awards. Although he is not a household name yet, “Picking Up Speed” reveals his mega-star potential.

This is no ordinary pop tune. It is immensely addictive in a dreamy, awe-inspiring way. It will make you dance like you’re swirling in a whirlpool and surrounded by lush synths and titillating beats. Through this dazzling, sonic swell emerges Augustine’s tempered vocals, which have a touch of Dan Bejar (Destroyer, The New Pornographers). “Picking Up Speed” is a love story, though not the kind you usually hear. He describes how a love affair can intensify so quickly that it leads to fear. The experience is frightening because the two people involved don’t know where the journey will take them or how they will cope. All they can do is hold on and enjoy the ride:

“Yeah we can put on a show huh
And are you proud of me then
You know I love how you hold us
In the palm of your hand
Darling, we’re picking up speed.”

This tune is available on Spotify. We look forward to hearing more from this promising artist.

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Fantastic Negrito – “Chocolate Samurai” (Oakland, USA)

RIYL: Leon Bridges, Son Little, Moses Sumney

Xavier Dphrepaulezz – aka Fantastic Negrito – is a musical prophet, spreading a message of hopeful solidarity that we all need to hear. We love this guy, not simply for his musical abilities. The dude breathes new life into the blues-rook genre every time he performs. But his message – and the uplifting way he delivers it – is what keeps us coming back to this Oakland-based artist when our souls need recharging.

Maybe he’s psychic? Perhaps he knew we all need a boost now as we weather this global storm. The crowd-sourced video for his new “Chocolate Samurai” video addresses our communal quarantine. It features cameos from people just like you doing just what you’re doing: staying indoors. He understands our cabin fever. He knows the frustration of searching for toilet paper. (And you should see his happy dance when he gets his hands on some!) The beauty of the video isn’t just that the song is catchy in typical Fantastic Negrito fashion. It’s the underlying message of unity that shines like a beacon. He reminds us: “We may be isolated behind closed doors, but we are in this together.” Amen.

The song’s opening line asks, “Have you lost your mind yet?” The answer is yes, because the high-octane joy of this video has us screaming our fool heads off in delight.

This is the first new music from him since his Grammy-winning 2018 LP, Please Don’t Be Dead. Hopefully it’s a sure sign of a new album coming soon. Prophets, after all, rarely delay delivery of a timely message.

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Jacqueline Tucci – “Fear” (Toronto, Canada)

RIYL: Courtney Barnett, Lucy Dacus, Soccer Mommy

“Fear”, the debut single from Toronto’s Jacqueline Tucci, is an immediate attention grabber. With its great guitar hook, and the inviting opening lyrics, it’s a perfect introduction to listeners. It rocks pretty hard and has a layer of wit, a combination reminiscent of what made us love early Courtney Barnett tracks. There’s also an underlying frustration in the lyrics that will resonate with listeners.

“I wrote this song on an old guitar,
I hope my words might travel far,
So you might actually get the chance to hear them.”

Tucci is releasing an EP later this year, Jungle Sounds, and if “Fear” is any indication, it is one to keep an eye on.

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Kalbells – “Mothertime” (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: San Fermin, Austra, Half Waif

Kalmia Traver should write the score for a future Spike Jonze or Wes Anderson film. Whether she’s performing with her original band, Rubblebucket, or as a solo artist under the name Kalbells, the singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer has proven she can create music for any and all occasions. For instance, her previous single, “Cool and Bendable”, was like a disco party that suddenly brakes in the cosmos. Her newest track, meanwhile, feels like an extension of that excursion, sonically anyway.

“Mothertime” is a fleeting yet delirious orchestral electro-pop number that romanticizes what space travel could be like. The drifting melody, the subtle bursts of beats, the fluttery notes of a flute, and Traver’s calm voice create a soothing, dreamy effect. If you close your eyes, you might imagine yourself gliding past planets, stars, and asteroids. These celestial objects, though, are people we’ve known through our lives. For Traver, they represent her mother, as their two paths have been forever entwined yet they’ve arrived at different destinations. Where her mother has landed is known, but Traver’s journey has no limits. That is the power and brilliance of her music – she’s taking us to places that have to be seen nor heard.

Traver’s new EP, Mothertime, is available for pre-order here or go directly to Bandcamp. It will be released April 10th via NNA Tapes.

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Kluster B – “Graveyard” (Malmö, Sweden)

RIYL: Deerhoof, Superorganism, Rubblebucket

Art has long imitated our reality (yes, we know the old saying is the opposite). When there is prosperity and peace, the music tends to be joyful and euphoric. During difficult times, the music is often bolder and fierce or more experimental and off-kilter. For Swedish five-piece Kluster B, their music has always been unconventional, as they’ve adopted the philosophy of finding beauty in the unusual and making the unexpected accessible. Their willingness to push the envelope and take chances is why we’ve considered them as one of the innovative bands today. Their latest single once again demonstrates their masterful creativity.

Often with a song title like “Graveyard”, the immediate reaction is that it would be haunting and creepy as oppose to having a carnival-like, alt-pop vibe. This is the brilliance of Kluster B. The song is light and playful, and the melody could be one that young school kids are whistling while playing a game of hopscotch. Then it gets a little gritty, as the guitars snarl and the rhythms heave a little louder. It settles back to its playful beginning, but eventually it becomes stormy once again. To and fro the song goes, and it’s topsy-turvy approach is synonymous with the state of the world. At times it is gentile and graceful, and other moments destruction ensues. Through these wild fluctuations, sometimes the most unexpected places are the safest and the most beautiful. For Kluster B, they find all this in the “Graveyard”.

Linnea Hall (vocals), Pontus Örnstrand (keyboard), Sebastian Hegedüs (guitar), Adam Jonsson (guitar), and Andreas Pollak’s (drums) new album, b, is out April 17th on Rama Lama Records.

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The Mowgli’s – “Weight On Me” (Venice Beach, CA, USA)

RIYL: American Authors, Bad Suns, The Griswolds

One thing is for certain, The Mowgli’s never disappoint. With their newest track, they continue to create upbeat dance ready harmonies that instantly elevate your mood. The striking difference with “Weight On Me” vs previous tracks is the far out psychedelic vibe which offers an extremely expansive sound. The guitar riffs are killer as well courtesy of DNCE‘s JinJoo Lee.

The overall sound is quite laid back yet exhilarating and is perfect for instantly calming one’s mood. There is definitely a throw back feel as well as a bit of jazz influences peppered throughout.

“Weight On Me” is lyrically heavy as it tackles all of the daily ‘weight’ or pressure we sometimes put on ourselves and trying to balance it with every day life.

“Sit up in the evening I can’t sleep
Go to meditation slowly breathe
Lift the weight on me
Floating out of body I can finally see
I’m the only one putting
All of these pieces of weight on me”

The Mowgli’s are Joshua Hogan (vocals/guitar), Katie Jayne Earl (vocals), Matthew Di Panni (bass), David Appelbaum (keys), and Andy Warren (drums)

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – “She’s There” (Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: Real Estate, The Orielles, Phantastic Ferniture

Few bands rival Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever when it comes to creating instant fans with a debut album. The Australian jangly pop-rockers hooked us (along with countless critics and fans) with their 2018 LP, Hope Downs. And now, just when the world is at its most chaotic, the guys deliver a much-needed gift: another new glimpse into their upcoming sophomore album. “She’s There” follows the hook-filled “Cars in Space” single from February. It’s further proof that these guys must have sold their souls to achieve this level of talent.

“She’s There” is an anti-love song. Beneath its sunny surface lies a lyrical reminder that ended relationships don’t always go away. Sometimes fragments linger in physical and emotional ways: 

“I shoulda done better but the time rolls on
Open the window, in the air,
In a mirror, she’s there
Every time I speak her name
There’s a cold shiver through my veins”

There are no cold shivers to be found here. Every note is a jolt of vibrant jubilation. Rolling Blackouts C.F. has wowed us yet again.

Sideways to New Italy arrives June 5th via Sub Pop with pre-orders from the label or Bandcamp.

Rolling Blackouts C.F. are: Tom Russo, Joe White, Fran Keaney, Joe Russo, and Marcel Tussie.

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