The Matinee ’20 May 6 edition features nine new music singles that tackle the strengths and weaknesses of our humanity. Each song will make you contemplate your existence and whether we, as a whole, are doing enough to change the course of history.
Arlo Parks – “Black Dog” (London, England)
RIYL: Lauryn Hill, Kadhja Bonet, Sasami
In the two years since her arrival, Arlo Parks has developed into one of our favorite young artists and singer-songwriters. From the time we heard the delicate “Cola” to the beautifully complicated “Eugene”, she has left us in awe. Our reactions to every one of her songs and her immersive and intelligent Sophie EP consisted of “wow”, “oh”, and “my gosh”. The London-based singer-songwriter has once again made us gasp with “Black Dog”.
Every one of her songs is emotional – not in a tear-jerker sort of way but in the sense they make you recall a specific memory, experience, or person and re-live it repeatedly. Regret and pain don’t linger, but rather the sweetness that accompanied it. That accompanied her or him. According to Parks, “Black Dog” is her most emotional track, which is saying a great deal but is easy to comprehend why. The deft guitar strums and drumming and the occasional chill of the keys consume the air that you breathe while Parks’ brittle yet stirring vocals occupy your mind. Like her, you remember a person with whom you expended all your energy to help and heal, but deep down you know she may forever be a prisoner in her own mind.
“Just take your medicine and eat some food
I would do anything to get you out of your room
It’s all cruel
What your mind can’t do for no reason”
We’ll say it again: it’s only a matter of time before Arlo Parks becomes a superstar.
Dead Pony – “Everything Is Easy” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: July Talk, Dream Wife, Wolf Alice
Dead Pony is a rising post punk quartet from Scotland. The band have been taking the lead from other rising Scottish acts like The Ninth Wave or Walt Disco. “Everything is Easy” is a super frenzied rock track that will definitely get your blood pumping. The overall sound is high energy with a bit of ’80s nostalgia woven in the vocal delivery. It’s definitely the perfect track to get anyone into a hyped up mood.
‘Everything is Easy’ is a take on how simple childhood experiences can be soured as you grow older”, explains frontwoman Anna Shields. “Lyrically, we tried to capture that feeling of betrayal you feel as a young, naïve child when you find out Santa isn’t real or that your conception wasn’t via your Dad finding a snotter on the wall and raising it to become you. We came up with this idea after having discussed how ridiculous the things were we believed as children”
Dead Pony is comprised of Anna Shields (rhythm guitar/lead vocals), Blair Crichton (lead guitar/backing vocals), Liam Adams (bass), and Aidan McAllister (drums). The single is out on LAB Records.
Gabriel Schicchi – “Olivia’s Leaving” (San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Wilco/Jeff Tweedy, Noah Gundersen, Josh Ritter
Singer/songwriters often serve a dual purpose: in addition to being artists, they tend to also fill the role of therapist for their listeners. These days, people rely even more on music because of its immediate rewards. Who else can echo your deepest emotions at all hours of the day and night? Who among us hasn’t found solace in a melody or been moved by lyrics? Music reaches us in ways people sometimes cannot. This is why Gabriel Schicchi should be on your radar.
The San Francisco-based indie folk artist’s newest song speaks to anyone who has said an unwanted goodbye. The mellowness of “Olivia’s Leaving” is a balm for bruised hearts. Between the rich instrumentation and warm vocals, each listen increases the comfort you receive. Lyrics like “It felt so good to be near you / but I can keep myself warm” remind you that you are not alone with your feelings. So put this one in rotation alongside your Wilco and Noah Gundersen ballads. You’ll find Gabriel Schicchi fits in nicely with them.
Gordi – “Volcanic” (Canowindra, Australia)
RIYL: S. Carey, Bon Iver, Jenn Wasner
Our admiration for Dr. Sophie Payten’s art via her project Gordi extends a few years because she can make what seems like a simple melody into a gorgeous, spellbinding piece of cinema. Furthermore, she isn’t afraid to bare her soul to everyone to see and hear, but she does it in a manner where she brings us into her world. Where she has be a part of her experiences instead of speaking to us. She did this earlier this year with “Sandwiches” and “Aeroplane Bathroom”, which are the first two singles from her much-anticipated sophomore album, Our Two Skins. Her third single only further illustrates why Payten is deserves to be recognized as one of Australia’s most gifted artists – as Down Under’s answer to Justin Vernon.
Lock yourself in a room, close your eyes, and repeatedly listen to “Volcanic”. Allow the slight orchestration of synths, keys, and beats smother you with its subdue but overwhelming beauty. Then hear every word Payten has to say because she is sharing a moment where she reveals true self. Unveils the person she has hidden from her parents even while they were on vacation in Sweden two years, which is at the time she wrote the song.
“I have these moments where I panic
When I shut down and go manic
So eruptive and destructive like within I am volcanic
I’ve a head that won’t stop aching
And a voice that’s tired of breaking
And I’ll snap myself right up and tell you what it’s all about
If I knew.”
THE HUNNA – “Dark Times” (London, England)
RIYL: The 1975, Circa Waves, Viola Beach
The Hunna have been creating addicting and energetic songs ever since 2015. The quartet are back in 2020 and hold nothing back with “Dark Times”. It’s a fast-paced rocker that lays everything out there that the world is struggling with in the current environment. The single is melodic yet in your face and will definitely be the perfect track to let out any pent up emotions.
“So I’m letting all these things spill out my mouth
Honestly I’m gonna scream and let it out
Wish that instead of fighting ourselves
We could put our weapons down and help”
The band shares about the meaning behind the track:
“This song is about feeling overwhelmed with the dark and evil acts that we hear about & experience all over the world. It’s about feeling bewildered and helpless in these moments, ever more so now in these current times facing a force we never have before, having to self-isolate without connection to family and loved ones, and although feeling alone or helpless, finding power and resilience together as the world unites to survive and wait for the light that will come.”
Even though we do live in dark times currently, we all have a choice as to how we interact and respond to each other. It’s definitely a thought provoking track that offers hope in the midst of craziness.
The Hunna are singer/guitarist Ryan Potter, lead guitarist Dan Dorney, bassist Junate Angin, and drummer Jack Metcalfe. Their new album, I’d Rather Die Than Let You In, is out October 1st on their own label, LMW (Last Minute Warriors) Records.
The Mighty Orchid King – “Head” (St. Albans, England)
RIYL: Talking Heads, David Byrne
Another day and another English indie band is evolving. What else is new? Although some band’s transformations are often unexpected, The Mighty Orchid King heading in a new direction should not be because they’re not a band. They’re a collective of 14 – FOURTEEN! – gifted musicians. They’re bigger than some orchestras! Sometimes they all play on a song, but mostly the roster is often shuffled around drummer Jonny Bennett, guitarist Martin van Heerden, and producer and synth player Will Stephen. With so many moving parts, they’re going to constantly experiment. Their previous songs were high-energy, fist-pumping psychedelic rock. Think T. Rex on a dozen Red Bulls. This time around, they wade into the art-rock forum and deliver another adrenaline rusher.
“Head” is wildly awesome and one massive mental trip. It is like a manic impression of the Talking Heads or David Byrne’s solo work. The various instruments twist and spiral in all sorts of directions yet converge around a singular point, which the frenetic voice of… well, we don’t know since there are two principal singers. And like the song’s effects, he informs us his head is endlessly spinning as a result of the madness around him. Although he cannot take it anymore, we cannot get enough of this track because like Byrne’s greatest songs it makes us temporarily lose our marbles. And it feels awesome.
Mighty Orchid King’s debut album is expected later in 2020. If you’re curious, the other eleven members are Pete Martin, Matt Snowden, Marcelo Cervone, Michael Rea, Fred Sawyer, Jake Hodges, Matt Kerr, Arthur Sawyer, Matt Kersey, Steffan Rizzi, and Aurora Bennett.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – “Falling Thunder” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Spacey Jane, Day Wave, Damen
Are Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever the best band in Australia right now? If they’re not, they’re certainly in the top 1% – at least in our humble opinions. Tom Russo, Joe White, Fran Keaney, Joe Russo, and Marcel Tussie have the unique gift of creating hook-laden, infectious pop-rockers that tell fantastic stories or deliver great messages. The combination will always be a winner for us, just like RBCF’s previous singles, “She’s There” and “Cars in Space”. Those two songs have us excited for June 5th, which is when the great Sub Pop will release and distribute Sideways to New Italy. To further whet our appetite, they unveil “Falling Thunder”.
Summery, jangly, and highly addictive, this surf-rocker is the anthem we need as the weather gets warmer and our bodies crave sunshine in these dark times. It is, in other words, liberating in its sound, being the song that is played as we rush out the door and into the waiting heat. Its message, though, is a warning that liberation comes with limitations, especially today, that if we get too close to the edge there will be consequences.
“Is it any wonder
That we’re on the outside,
Falling like thunder
From the sky?
Call it by its name when you sing low,
Hold it like a knife against you.
Is it any wonder it stings,
Sun is in our eyes?”
Tired Lion – “Waterbed” (Perth, Australia)
RIYL: Hole, Speedy Ortiz, Camp Cope
Plenty of eras can lay claim to being the very best, but for us ’90s grunge is near the top, if not at the very peak. The edgy, gritty music at the time defined an entire generation’s angst, fears, and fading hopes. They were emotional, they were politically charged, and they were socially motivated. Boy do we miss those days, but thankfully Sophie Hopes and her band Tired Lion are around. Even though they were born towards the tail end of grunge’s zenith, they masterfully perfect the music of Hole, Veruca Salt, and Bikini Kills on every one of their songs, including their latest, “Waterbed”.
If we could turn back the calendars to 1993, “Waterbed” would be a top-10 hit across the world with critics proclaiming Hopes as Kurt Cobain’s and Courtney Love’s equal. CDs bearing Tired Lion’s name would be flying off the shelves, and people would be queuing outside record stores for whenever the band released a new album or single (yes, we did that). And maybe that will still be the case because like nearly three decades ago Hopes is representing the feelings of young people. As the song moves from downtrodden to relentless energy, the Perth-based singer-songwriter shares her anxiety, as she tries to figure out her place in the quickly changing world. “I can never feel the way I used to feel”, she hollers to anyone listening. We’re listening and hopefully everyone else is because very few artists can create rockers that define a generation.
The single is out on Universal Music Australia. Here’s hoping that Tired Lion has an album coming soon.
Valley Queen – “Your Red Light (feat. Cosmo Gold)” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Widowspeak, Lauren Ruth Ward, River Whyless
Two years ago, Los Angeles-based Valley Queen delivered one of the year’s finest albums with their debut Supergiant. It was classic yet modern southern rock, filled with songs that could be considered as, well, modern classics. Unsurprisingly, it was one of our favorite LPs of 2018. For their first release of 2020, the quartet have enlisted the supported of Emily Gold of LA indie-pop band Cosmo Gold to deliver a track that would have been a hit in 1977 as it should be this year.
Find some open green space, lie down, and stare at the clouds overhead as you listen to “Your Red Light”. The song takes the lush, LA sound to daydreaming heights, providing the cool, calming ocean breezes within the California sunshine. The arrangements are beautifully executed, but the dual vocals of Natalie Carol and Gold are what carry the song to levitating levels. Their voices are perfectly complementary, and they tell a terrific tale of a person who has grown tired about watching over another. They are the crutch to a person who constantly takes risks. They are her security blanket, but not anymore. Instead, they’re ours now just like they were in 2018.
Valley Queen are Natalie Carol (guitar/vocals), Neil Wogensen (bass/synth/keys); Mike DeLuccia (synth/keys/organ/drums/percussion), and William Tyler (guitar). In addition to vocals, Emily Gold is on the mellotron.
Valley Queen’s special 7″, double-single is out May 15th, and it’s available on Bandcamp.
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