As we emerge from our isolation and welcome another week, The Matinee ’20 May 4th edition is here to help you put a spring in your step. We hope you will remain safe and healthy as more areas begin lifting restrictions. Be kind to those around you, and keep supporting the artists who help us through it all.
Bee Bee Sea – “Daily Jobs” (Castel Goffredo, Italy)
RIYL: Wavves, Twin Peaks, FIDLAR
Italy’s contributions to the arts is immeasurable, altering the course of human history in profound ways. The boot-shaped country has given the world the Renaissance, opera, and… Bee Bee Sea. Yep, a little band from a town situated between Milan and Verona is also making their mark on the music industry, particularly in their own country. Forget the operatic arias, the folk balladry, or EDM that has dominated modern Italian music. Wilson Wilson, Giacomo Parisio, and Andrea Onofrio are doing what King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard did in Australia and R.E.M., Pavement, and Dinosaur, Jr. did in the US – they’re shaking up the indie scene with loud, propulsive, guitar-driven music.
The trio made a name for themselves three years ago when they released a humdinger of an album, Sonic Boomerang. Their reputation has only grown with outrageous live shows that recall a young Ramones or present-day FIDLAR. If you cannot see them perform (and likely won’t for a little while), just spin a track like “Daily Jobs”, and you can create your own sweat-dripping, wall-bouncing mosh pit.
“Daily Jobs” is a ripper. It is wildly frenetic and outrageously fun, buzzing with fiery guitars, jack-hammering rhythms, and shrieking vocals that will make you lose your shit. These guys’ genius also extends to their songwriting, as they always craft tales about the ordinary individual’s burdens. In this case, they daydream about a life beyond the mundane, where they want to get away from the stress of the 9-5 and just do what they love – and that’s to be rock ‘n roll stars. They are already that in our minds.
The band’s new album, Day Ripper, will be released on Wild Honey Records on October 9th.
Benin City – “Hold Them Close” (London, England)
RIYL: Maximum Balloon, Nation of Language, Young Galaxy
For as long as we’ve writing about independent music and the thousands of bands and tens of thousands of songs we’ve covered, there will be great ones that slip below our radar. Trio Benin City is one of them. For nearly a decade, Joshua Idehen, Tom Leaper, and Shanaz Dorsett have entertained London club-goers, first with their dance-infused electronica and later with their mind-bending synth-pop / electro-pop. Regardless of the genre, their songs are more than just an art-form; they are also moving statements about humanity. No, we’re not talking about love songs. The outfit have instead addressed issues like gentrification and the dissolution of communities, social isolation, and mental illness. Oh, they also can deliver moving tunes that remind us the importance of family, friendship, and community like they do on “Hold Them Close”.
The track echoes the sublime underground synth-pop of the mid-’80s and early ’90s, as the cool, bubbling synth work creates an atmosphere that is somewhere between spellbinding and euphoric. The soft, soothing vocals of Idehen and Dorsett add to the intoxication that fills the air. They calmly remind us that despite everything that has happened in the world – for them that includes the re-election of the Conservative Party, Brexit, and COVID-19 – we still have each other. That we will persevere together. It’s a message we need to hear not just today but for the days, weeks, months, and years to come. As Idehen wisely tells us, “Tomorrow is an island / And you can’t get there on your own”.
Caveman – “You Got a Feeling” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: The War on Drugs, Wild Nothing, DIIV
Brooklyn-based indie rockers Caveman remain a favorite of ours. Their brand of vintage-inspired synth pop-rock will always hit the sweet spot for music fans – especially those who grew up on a steady diet of ’80s New Wave. So where have these guys been since we gushed about their 2016 LP, Otero War? Those “instantly addictive” tunes remain in regular rotation as we wait for new offerings. That wait has ended.
The band has just released their New Sides EP, a teaser of what might be a full-length later this year. “You Got a Feeling” hits all the sweet spots Caveman is known for: sleek, synth-driven beats and tight guitar hooks paired with frontman Matthew Iwanusa’s smooth vocals. When the world is running down, you make the best of it by keeping this tune on repeat. Welcome back, guys. We’ve missed you.
New Sides is available from these streaming and purchase links.
Caveman are: Matthew Iwanusa, Jimmy Carbonetti, and Jeff Berrall.
Language Arts – “Sprout” (Toronto via Nova Scotia, Canada)
RIYL: Jenny Hval, Loma, Feist
In the face of trauma and tragedy, we have two choices – to submit to the pain and wave the white flag or to persevere and overcome. For Language Arts founder and mastermind, Kristen Cudmore, she has chosen the latter. Actually, she’s done more than that, as she’s found motivation, courage, and strength after being hit by a drunk driver and suffering a brain injury. As anyone could imagine, her rehabilitation took years, but she is a survivor. Now, she’s telling her story in the best way she can – in a new album, Lemon // Lime, which is expected later this year. As a hint of what is to come, she offers “Sprout”.
While Cudmore is known more for synth-pop / synth-wave work, she travels down the mystical path of psychedelic alt-folk on her latest single. A hazy, dizzying, but stunning atmosphere is created, and the melody could be the music that is played as Peter Pan skips through an open meadow in Neverland. Cudmore’s vocals, too, have a tranquil yet whirling effect, fluttering effortlessly within the delicate guitar and subtle rhythms. Her words, though, are neither mysterious nor a fairy tale. They instead capture the moment when her world would change forever.
“I have come to take you home
When we go, I’ll be buried beside you
I have come to take you home
Suddenly, when it becomes a change
I realize with all of my brain
That once I knew I found you
I would never ever be the same”
Odina – “1,2,3,4” (London, England via Barcelona, Spain)
RIYL: Elena Tonra, Daughter, Julia Jacklin
Back in 2016, a young woman who recently moved to London captured our attention with her intimate, alt-folk style, saccharine but stirring vocals, and powerful songwriting. She simply went by the name Odina, and at the time she was just 18 years old. A little older, a lot wiser, the Barcelona-born singer-songwriter continues to astonish listeners and all the while gaining fans around the world. For those being introduced to Odina, just one listen to any of her songs will make you realize why she’s an emerging powerhouse. But where does one begin? Let’s start with her latest single.
“1,2,3,4” is a stunner, approaching the hypnotic noir-folk of Elena Tonra’s work as a solo artist and with Daughter. There are no special effects – just an electric guitar, a slide guitar, a lightly-strummed bass, a ticking percussion, and some horns later on – and yet Odina and her band have created a song that immediately lures you with its brooding, bleak tones. It feels like a dream that one never wants to wake up from despite the lingering darkness. What keeps us enthralled is Odina’s hushed voice, which calls out to the one person she cannot have. To the one person who has wounded her and stolen her innocence.
“You loved playing, but I’m not game.
You love saying you’re not the one to blame.
And I’ll follow you, maybe once, maybe twice
Or maybe I’ll follow you ’til the end of times.”
Get to know Odina now because we fully anticipate her being featured on the lineups of Reading, Leeds, and Glastonbury in the near future.
Team Picture – “Handsome Machine” (Leeds, England)
RIYL: Chromatics, Lush, New Order
Team Picture has dazzled us for four years because they are unpredictable. They’re constantly evolving. Trying to pigeon-hole them within a genre or even to find comparables have been nearly fruitless enterprises. To watch a band grow and develop into a collective whose art knows no limits is an exciting exercise. Their previous single, “Rattlesnake”, left us in awe, resulting in us saying the sextet could very well be the heirs to Radiohead’s throne. Our opinions have not changed since then. They are actually more cemented now with the release of “Handsome Machine.”
“Handsome Machine” is simply divine. It is a breathtaking spectacle that is equal parts the sultry synth-pop of Chromatics and the dreamy, spine-tingling shoegaze of Lush. To truly appreciate the song, find a place where silence exists and little light can enter. Then allow Team Picture work their magic – from the lingering, dissonant guitars and bass; the stirring synth work that echoes New Order; the chilling calm of the drums; and the gorgeous dual harmonies. Through the shallow vocal delivery, we can relate to their tale of wanting someone so badly that we would do anything for them. The song is the sound of our desperation to find love and to find meaning, which is beautifully captured in the following lines:
“I’ve stolen the secrets of sweet delight
I’ll clear the memory of endless night
Show me what you mean to me
I need a sacrifice
This band is going places, and here’s hoping their new record, The Menace of Mechanical Music, is their much-deserved breakthrough. The LP is out June 12th on Clue Records. We are eagerly awaiting its arrival (as well as learning all the band members’ names).
William McCarthy – “Bloodline” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Augustines, Pela, Nathaniel Rateliff
The Time of Corona (as it may be called someday) will be remembered for the weeks we spent in isolation. Some will recall listening to music; others will tell of watching live streamed concerts of the era’s best artists. William McCarthy (of Augustines fame) has been adding to those memories with his marathon live concerts and new music. The release last week of “Bloodline” is one of this year’s high points.
The video finds McCarthy – the troubadour with a nomadic poet’s soul – traveling South America on motorcycle. The scenery fits the restless nature of his music: the road full of endless inspiration and its people a chance for heartfelt connection. The spirited tempo and trumpet accents take you to that place, where his zeal resonates in every note. McCarthy may repeat “I just can’t get it right” at the end, but we disagree. He’s got it exactly right.
He has taken the path less traveled since 2016 when the final Augustines album, This Is Your Life, made our Favorite Albums of the Year list. Still he remains devoted to his craft and to his fans. What more can you ask from an artist?
The Bloodline EP is available from Bandcamp while the album WILD EYES is due later this year via Oxcart Records. Stay tuned to McCarthy’s podcast and Patreon page for album updates and streaming performances.
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