The Matinee ’20 April 22nd edition offers plenty of new music to dive into for escape. Both the mellow and upbeat songs remind us that music is a constant source of comfort. And these days, more than ever, we are grateful to the artists who are making the music we need.
Angelo De Augustine – “Santa Barbara” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver
Anyone whose soul craves the ocean will appreciate the soothing new single from Angelo De Augustine. Immerse yourself in the breezy, mellow tones of “Santa Barbara” and you’ll discover its healing properties. Did we mention the song also features Sufjan Stevens on guitar and background vocals?
If you are unfamiliar with the dulcet tones of Angelo De Augustine, you are in for a treat. His natural vocal talent shines throughout, though his falsetto delivery is most tantalizing. Don’t be surprised if the lines “Oh my love I’m lost again / though I try when will I win?” linger in your head on a constant loop. The fragile beauty of each note makes you hold your breath lest your exhaling shatter its spell.
De Augustine says of this track: “Santa Barbara” becomes a prayer of hope and love for those that are listening in their own loneliness.” We wholeheartedly agree.
Country Westerns – “Times To Tunnels” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Drive-By Truckers, Hiss Golden Messenger, BNQT
So we’re still stuck inside, but you can still feel rejuvenated and even refreshed. A great song will definitely help change your mood, and “Times To Tunnels” from newly-formed rock band Country Westerns is the prescription to our ills.
Fans of DBT and Hiss Golden Messenger will immediately gravitate to Joseph Plunket (vocals/guitar), Sabrina Rush (bass), and Brian Kotzur’s (drums) rollicking music. The urgent, stuttering intro immediately raises the anticipation, and then the song kicks into an anthemic, mid-tempo groove. Plunket’s husky vocals trembles over the classic southern-rock sound, which is head-noodling, top-tapping goodness. His introspective storytelling is also uplifting, as he finds things to be grateful despite the pain he originally felt. His songwriting is great literature.
“I was a ghost at the feast; I was at least grateful
For your honesty because it stung in me that night
It was about the daylight
Does it reveal anything, does it make you feel any better?
I don’t know for me, I can’t even see, it’s so bright.”
And later, he wishes “I was a million years old and never did what I was told.” Don’t we all wish we could just live life again to its fullest? Well, we still can, for as the band tells us we can make the best out of the worst situations.
Deradoorian – “Monk’s Robes” (Los Angeles & New York City, USA)
RIYL: Agnes Obel, Daughter, Zola Jesus
Self-quarantine is giving us all plenty of time for introspection. Some people devote their days to healthy pursuits like journaling, or organizing their closets. But for those who weren’t born under a Type-A, multi-tasking star, weeks of navel gazing can be downright terrifying. When loneliness comes calling, artists turn to music as a way to both express and expel those grey thoughts. Fans of Angel Deradoorian – aka Deradoorian – wisely rely on her project to meet those needs.
The latest single from her upcoming Find the Sun LP is a comfort to those in solitude. The sparse intro of “Monk’s Robes” offers no hint at the intricate meditative beauty that lies ahead. A singular piano accompanies her hushed delivery of lyrics about disillusionment as she sings of standing in her “monk’s robes, looking to the unknown sky.” But a tonal shift at the 3:31 mark breaks the song’s spell. You then realized she is now guiding you to seek answers within yourself:
“Bound to the illusion of the physical plane
What is it you truly wish to gain?
For aren’t you trying to gain something not
Yet free yourself from the tethering thought?”
Peaceful contemplation never sounded so cathartic.
Public Practice – “My Head” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Blondie, Shopping, The Coathangers
Is there a cooler band from NYC than Public Practice? There are plenty of bands to choose from, but the quartet of Sam York (vocals), Vince McClelland (guitars), Drew Citron (synths/bass/vocals), and Scott Rosenthal (drums) would be near the top of our list because they are recapturing the spirit of a bygone era. Which era? Listen to their new single, “My Head”, and you’ll have all your answer.
As you probably already deciphered, “My Head” rekindless the greatness of Blondie’s disco-punk and the liberating energy that filled the venues of New York City in the ’70s. It is funky yet gritty, addictive yet edgy, and it makes you want to move with attitude. If we could, we would either strut down 5th Avenue or throw a dance party in Washington Square Park. Since this isn’t an option, we can imagine we’re in CBGB on a Friday night and losing our minds thanks to Public Practice’s retro brilliance. But don’t let the infectious melody be the only thing that moves you. York’s assertive vocals and lyrics evoke a young Debbie Harry, and she, too, liberates us. As she says:
“Am I over my head?
Asking should I fake it?
Will it make me stronger?
I’ve got to shake this,
Chase my heart down
Because we’re going to make it,
And I’ll be stronger.”
San Mei – “Cry” (Gold Coast, Australia)
RIYL: Jack River, Ali Barter, Fazerdaze
It wasn’t long ago that we proclaimed Emily Hamilton’s project San Mei will become one of Australia’s breakout stars. Sure enough, her music is increasingly being heard and premiered on Triple J, and before the COVID-19 crisis her name was written on festival bills across the country. The young woman’s appeal extends from her euphoric brand of guitar-pop to her intimate, relatable, and honest songwriting. These two essential traits shine on her excellent new EP, Cry, which was released in late March. To give a sample of Hamilton’s talent and what’s on the record, take a listen to the title track.
Like a rush of blood straight to your heart, “Cry” is euphoric dream-pop. Hamilton gently eases us in to her world with her lush guitar, popping synth, and her breezy vocals. But 45 seconds in, the song accelerates a bit before pulling back and launching into overdrive a minute later. From there we race through the ethereal expanse Hamilton has created. The shoegaze guitar is exhilarating, balanced by the urgency heard in the bass line and Hamilton’s raised voice. Her words are timely as she tells us that “we don’t have to feel this way”, which is that we don’t need to feel alone, trapped, or afraid. We’re all in this together, and we’ll get out of it together.
You can spin Cry on Spotify and other streaming platforms.
School of Language – “It Doesn’t Matter Anyway” (Sunderland, UK)
The legendary Prince may have departed this mortal realm, but his influence remains for the artists and fans who love him. We all know that in addition to his unrivaled talent, his ability to identify and foster emerging talents (ahem, Lizzo) is equally legendary. Now four years since his passing, musicians continue to pay tribute to the Purple One. We can only imagine he would groove to the funktastic “It Doesn’t Matter Anyway” from UK artist School of Language.
The project’s frontman is David Brewis, better known for his work as half of Field Music. Brewis wanted to pay tribute without covering Prince’s songs, and the result is a five-track EP called I Could Have Loved U Better. Grab your dancing shoes, because Brewis channels early-era Prince with this flirty kiss of a tune. Our only complaint is that, much like Prince’s life, it ends much too soon. So what prompted this tribute of sorts? Brewis explains:
“It’s four years since Prince left us. Over these past few exceedingly odd weeks, I’ve been thinking about him… I couldn’t bring myself to cover his songs. I love the complete package – the playing and the production and the imperfections – just too much to tinker with. But I thought that maybe I could keep myself on the level by writing my own Prince songs. Maybe a little batch which would have been left in the vault back in ’81 because they sounded “too Prince” and he’d already moved on. So this is my little tribute. It’s a little bit silly, I’ll admit. But I made these little lockdown songs with a great deal of love, to repay a great deal of inspiration. And I had a lot of fun doing it.”
Skullcrusher – “Places/Plans” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Phoebe Bridgers, Julie Byrne, Bedoine
Lightly strummed acoustic guitar and whispered harmonies create an understated but impactful beauty. It builds into an ethereal climax, with an electric piano coming in slowly as the harmonies grow into something utterly captivating. Lyrically, it’s vulnerable and just as moving as the music itself:
“Could we? / The window’s open and I’m lying alone
We’ll see / Cause I don’t have any plans for tomorrow”
Zola Blood – “Silver Soul” (London, England)
RIYL: Atoms for Peace, Massive Attack, Thom Yorke
A month ago, Zola Blood shared “Two Hearts”, which once again showcased the quartet’s ability to make starkly beautiful music that fuses the darkness of trip hop with the alluring qualities of dream pop. They are the heirs to Massive Attack, although an argument could be made that they are on the verge of being their equals. Their newest single is evidence of how far Matt West (vocals), Ed Smith (synths), Paul Brown (guitars), and Sam Cunnington (drums) have come.
Find an intimate, dimly lit place, as such an environment is the only way to truly experience “Silver Soul.” As you listen, close your eyes and inhale every surgically-delivered note and West’s haunting yet intoxicating vocals. The experience is not just dreamlike but surreal, matching the out-of-body moments heard in Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool and Atoms for Peace’s Amok. And like Thom Yorke, West’s lyrics are mysteriously poetic as he sings a lament to a place he once knew. To a place that no longer resembles what it use to be, which sounds very much like the world we live in today. Simply put, “Silver Soul” is absolutely divine.
Zola Blood’s new EP, Two Hearts, drops May 22nd via Akira Records. We cannot wait to hear it in its entirety.
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