The Matinee ’20 April 10th edition is chock-full of sonic gems. Play these tunes loud to get your week off to an energized start. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is; what matters is having new music to help us survive.
Becca Mancari – “Hunter” (Nashville via New York, USA)
RIYL: Lykki Li, Kalbells, TT
When an artist moves from Staten Island to Nashville, the assumption is that s/he plans to become a country star. This may have been Becca Mancari‘s initial intention, as her debut album, Good Woman, was widely lauded. (Rolling Stone ranked it 19 on its ’40 Best Country and Americana Albums of 2017′.) Her success led to her joining forces with Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard and Jesse Lafser to create the indie super-group Bermuda Triangle. All signs pointed for Mancari to further pursue the path of Margo Price and Brandi Carlile; instead she’s thrown everyone a curveball – at least with her latest single.
Now part of the Captured Tracks family, Mancari has released an alt-pop stunner with “Hunter”. Whirling synths, a grimy guitar, and a hypnotic bass line intersect to form a mesmerizing sonic art installation. In the middle of this musical twister is Mancari’s soothing voice. It evokes the calmness of a surgeon; however, deep down, her nerves are rattling because someone is coming for her. Or is she coming for them? She says with the steeliness of an assassin:
“Letter’s in the mailbox
Said I’m gonna hunt you down
I’m gonna hunt you down
I am the prophet
Said I am the savior.”
If Mancari continues down this new path, she just might be indie music’s new messiah. She just might save us all.
The Beths – “Dying to Believe” (Auckland, New Zealand)
RIYL: Fazerdaze, Alex Lahey, Illuminati Hotties
Two years ago, the biggest musical success story coming from Aotearoa was unquestionably The Beths, who earned a massive legion of fans with their infectious brand of guitar-pop and relatable stories. Their album, The Future Hate Me, cemented the former jazz students as bastions of the New Zealand music scene. It was also one of the finest records of 2018. Now Elizabeth Stokes (guitar/vocals), Jonathan Pearce (guitar/vocals), Benjamin Sinclair (bass/vocals), and Tristan Deck (drums/vocals) look to build on their breakthrough with one of the most anticipated LPs of 2020. The first track from Jump Rope Gazers is another massive earworm.
Make sure there is a lot of space around you (or at least your head isn’t near a wall or anything hard) because “Dying to Believe” will get you dancing. The song is The Beths through and through – a fast, jittery, guitar-pop approach that is one-upped by Stokes’ introspective lyrics. Although the track is bouncy and energizing, Stokes reveals the struggles within her.
“I’m sorry for the way that I can’t hold conversations
It’s such a fragile thing to try support the weight of
It’s not that I don’t think that my point of view is valid
It’s just that I can’t stand the sound of my own patterns.”
Besides being musically amazing (there’s a reference to the Auckland suburb of Ōrākei), the video is also a must-see.
Jump Rope Gazers is out July 10th on Carpark Records.
The Dream Syndicate – “The Longing” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: The Velvet Underground, The Church, 13th Floor Elevators
Music that was already crucial is now even more meaningful during our days of global isolation. Many of us take solace in melodies while for others, lyrics have a newfound resonance. What better time to welcome new music from a classic group whose latest release offers comfort on both fronts?
Los Angeles indie legends The Dream Syndicate released a new EP, The Universe Inside, on Friday. While “The Longing” is the album’s shortest song (at seven-plus minutes), its expansive layers feel timeless. This vivid amalgamation of shoegaze and krautrock is the trip our minds need. Each note is a portal into another dimension of sonic escape. We realize that borders on hyperbole, but it’s the truth: this is mind-blowing stuff. It’s lush, deep, and immensely rewarding, both musically and lyrically:
“Sleepless for days and days
Decisions and communiques
Ruthless, unsettled and alone
The harder you try to fix it
Eliminate, deep six it
All that’s left is the longing.”
You will want to mainline these grooves directly into your bloodstream.
Konsequence – “Emotional Distancing” (Munich, Germany)
RIYL: OMD, Nation of Language, Boniface
We should immediately clear the air about this next song. While the vast majority of the world is self-isolating or practising social distancing as a result of COVID-19, “Emotional Distancing” has nothing to do with the pandemic. If it did, the track would have a short shelf life. Instead, Konsquence – the duo of brothers Tom and Mike Zitzelsberger – have created a song that should not only stand the test of time but also travels back in time.
“Emotional Distancing” brims with the infectious and intimate synth-pop of the ’80s. Like the great music of that decade (which was often featured in movie soundtracks), this track elicits conflicting emotions. It makes you want to close your eyes and dance, yet there are moments that leave you gasping for breath. And as infectious as the song and chorus are, the siblings unveil the torment inside them as they deal with the end of a relationship and the void that suddenly exists. The isolation that accompanies a breakup, where all you want to do is stay confined in your room. If John Hughes were still alive, he would likely have included this outstanding tune in one of his movies.
“Emotional Distancing” is currently streaming on Spotify. We look forward to hearing more from this talented duo.
Mt. Joy – “My Vibe” (Los Angeles via Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: The Head and the Heart, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Houndmouth
“Get yourself together” is the commandment on the infectious new single from Mt. Joy. The indie folk-rockers are known for crafting tight hooks and feel-good tunes. But the magic they concoct on “My Vibe” will leave you wondering how you ever lived without them. Hold onto your socks, because Mt. Joy is here to knock them clean off.
“My Vibe” is already a strong contender for Song of The Year. Why? It’s not the kaleidoscopic riffs that feel like the band distilled cosmic fairy dust and infused it into every note. It’s not the euphoria-inducing vocals, complete with a children’s chorus on the intro. (Let’s face it, though: with children being the future and all, it’s hard to beat a tune that features youngsters dishing out sage advice like “Move ’til you feel better”.) And it’s certainly not the irresistible, organic folk-rock purity that will have you hitting repeat a few hundred times. No, it’s all of those things rolled into a tight little package, presented to listeners in the form of a gift called communal hope:
“In this your golden afternoon, find the right attitude
A song to sing to get your through
I hope it makes you feel better than ever
When we choose love over never
Fighting to get better, we’re fighting to get better.”
Right now our days are anxious and our nights are sleepless. Fortunately, Mt. Joy fulfills their calling as musical merrymakers. “My Vibe” is the anthem we can all sing as we fight to survive these crazy times together.
Mt. Joy includes: Matt Quinn (vocals, guitar), Sam Cooper (guitar), Michael Byrnes (bass), Jackie Miclau (keys), and Sotiris Eliopoulos (drums).
Phoebe Bridgers – “Kyoto” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Bright Eyes, Beirut, Snail Mail
When Phoebe Bridgers released “Garden Song” in February, it was only a matter time before she confirmed the arrival of her sophomore album. Sure enough, last week she shared that Punisher will be released June 19th on Dead Oceans. Accompanying that news was “Kyoto”, which represents a slight change for the Los Angeles-based artist.
Whereas her debut LP and work with supergroup boygenius (also featuring Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus) leaned more towards the folk-rock and “singer/songwriter” category, “Kyoto” is a much fuller and more widescreen number. The track has an air of Conor Oberst, with whom Bridgers collaborated on Better Oblivion Community Center, with the addition of horns and the urgent, alt-pop flair. “Kyoto”, however, is completely Bridgers, who again takes an experience from her past and turns into enrapturing and revealing tale. This time, she’s touring in Japan, a place she has admittedly long wanted to visit, when she receives news from another past collaborator. Anyone who knows Bridgers’ history will also immediately identify the individual:
“You called me from a payphone
They still got payphones
It costs a dollar a minute
To tell me you’re getting sober
And you wrote me a letter
But I don’t have to read it
I’m gonna kill you
If you don’t beat me to it
Dreaming through Tokyo skies
I wanted to see the world
Then I flew over the ocean
And I changed my mind.”
Pre-orders of Punisher are available on Bandcamp.
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