The Matinee ’20 May 25th edition is a shot in the arm, featuring eight songs that will get your adrenaline flowing or send you to another dimension. The mini-playlist is in reverse alphabetical order just to change things up a bit. Have a great final week of May everyone.
Wayley – “What’s It Gonna Take” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Phosphorescent, The Lumineers, Langhorne Slim
If you spend any time stargazing, you know that optimum viewing happens when you’re far from city lights. You need darkness to fully see the beauty above you. These dark times we have been experiencing together are like that in certain ways: it’s giving us a chance to observe stars we might otherwise miss. One bright discovery (of the musical not astronomical variety) is Wayley, the project of Toronto-based artist Andrew Sherriff. His debut single is the work of a star destined for a bright future.
“What’s It Gonna Take” is a seamless blend of radio-friendly indie styles. From the Americana-pop hooks and warm vocals to the soulful tempo, Wayley’s introductory tune is instantly addictive. What lures you first is the syncopated percussion. Then the pedal steel signals melancholy foreshadowing of a heartbreak tale about to unfold. At the bridge you find yourself fully enraptured by the horns and guitar that swirl around you. The message – of asking a lover to step up and do their part in the relationship – resonates with listeners of all ages. One thing is certain: this empowering anthem could be the sleeper hit of the summer. The bigger mystery is how long it will take the world to discover this emerging star?
Team Picture – “this is the” (Leeds, England)
RIYL: The Ninth Wave, The Cure, Eagulls
Plenty of bands deserve to be recognized as master innovators. Radiohead immediately come to mind, and a new generation is rapidly emerging right behind the legends. At the top of the class, in our humble opinion, are Team Picture. Their new album, The Menace of Mechanical Music, is one we eagerly are anticipating due to songs like “Handsome Machine” and “Baby Rattlesnake”, which are both candidates for song of the year. Everything the sextet touch turns to gold, which is the case with “this is the.”
Whereas the previous two songs were spellbinding, “this is the” is bleakly enrapturing yet equally as brilliant as its siblings with its multi-genre approach. Post-punk melds with art rock and Goth-rock before shoegaze and New Wave elements emerge. The outcome is a brooding, stunning atmosphere on par with The Cure’s most majestic, sonic tapestries. Team Picture simultaneously create goosebumps on your arm yet leave you in complete awe. After the track finishes its 60-second crescendo, you might find yourself uttering “Wow!” like we’ve been saying since Day 1.
The Menace of Mechanical Music is out June 12th on Clue Records. We cannot wait for its arrival.
Sammy Brue – “Megawatt” (Ogden, Utah USA)
RIYL: Justin Townes Earle, The Mountain Goats, Jonny Lang
Genius. Prodigy. Wunderkind. You see those words in nearly every article about Sammy Brue. (Full disclosure: we’re no different, having described him that way back in 2015 when he was barely a teenager.) We still think those terms apply to the 18-year-old American singer-songwriter. His new album, Crash Test Kid, arrives next month, and his “Megawatt” single proves why he deserves those accolades and more.
Brue cut his musical teeth on Bob Dylan and Justin Townes Earle, which explains the Americana flavor. But if this is your first time hearing Sammy, you might swear he had spent his childhood emulating The Mountain Goats or The Black Keys. The rockin’ authenticity of “Megawatt” gives new listeners a taste of what Brue’s longtime fans have loved for years: raw talent you just don’t find every day. Besides the scorching licks, Brue also serves up vivid lyrical imagery, referring to Earth as “a giant green and blue bubble.” Brue gives us exactly what we need right now: a danceable, feel-good tune that doesn’t take life too seriously. Keep this one cranked. And one more piece of advice: go see him play once concerts resume. We assure you his live shows are an experience you don’t want to miss.
Harimau – “Poetry Of One” (London, England)
RIYL: Portishead, Chromatics, Hundred Waters
Can a trip-hop, dark-pop tune brighten one’s day? It’s a difficult assignment, but in the skillful hands of a band like Portishead it is possible. Now emerging from the same mould nearly 30 years later comes Harimau. If the newly formed London-based trio can stay together that long, they could very well have a career as influential as the Bristol legends, especially if they continue to release tunes like “Poetry Of One.”
We’re not sure what’s more impressive – the band’s ability to make trip-hop sound cinematic yet engrossing or that “Poetry Of One” is just their second single? From the arrival of the synths to the hallow vocals, the song immediately grabs your attention. It then steals you away at the first drop and down into the dark, forbidden rabbit hole we fall. Brooding and bleak as it is, this place is not one to be feared. Instead it is unexpectedly captivating and darkly beautiful because the music and lyrics represent a world we know all too well. This is the far reaches of our minds where our deepest desires and secrets reside. It is also the one place to which we can escape from “this wicked world” and find inner peace.
Look at England, you have another great band on the rise.
Ganser – “Bags For Life” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: Iceage, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Savages
After sharing the politically-charged and poignant “Lucky” and “Bad Form”, Chicago musical historians Ganser return with another head-turning track that sees them push the envelope of what is accessible and what constitutes post-punk. In the process, Alicia Gaines (bass/vocals), Nadia Garofalo (keys/vocals), Charlie Landsman (guitar), and Brian Cundiff (drums) take us to the verge of oblivion on “Bags For Life.”
Reminiscent of the genre-bending style of Iceage, “Bags For Life” is a multi-sensory experience, and it is brutally brilliant. Its dark pulses, highlighted by Gaines’ jarring bass line and Cundiff’s throbbing percussion, are grounded in the lengthy ethos of post-punk. Landsman’s searing guitar and Garofalo’s humming keys provide a psych-rock texture, adding a hallucinating trippiness to the track. Then a saxophone arrives, offering an unexpected layer of urgency and a foreboding, desperate quality. Its piercing wail complements Garofalo’s calm, confident vocals. As the instruments clash around her to represent the turmoil and chaos of the world, Garofalo is the beacon within the storm. She is deliverance, welcoming us to the end of days.
Courting – “David Byrne’s Badside” (Liverpool, England)
RIYL: Shame, Parquet Courts, Viagra Boys
Is “David Byrne’s Badside” the best song title of the year? If it isn’t, it definitely is near the top. The song brings to mind the Talking Heads frontman in a cranky mood, standing at his front door in his bathrobe while swearing at all the kids passing by. (Kind of like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons.) This outrageously-titled tune from Courting has little to do with the legendary artist and creative genius. However, it does sound like something wild that Byrne might have concocted in his youthful days.
Call it the new Brit-pop or some over-exuberant experiment of post-punk with Brit-pop, “David Byrne’s Badside” is a riot. It is a 197-second ball of adrenaline, featuring a terrific surf-rock guitar and a knockout sax solo that will make you think you’re Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in the ’60s film Beach Party. But unlike that carefree movie’s energetic vibe, the four Liverpudlians actually take a more serious tone in their lyrics. Byrne is the center of this universe, representing the ideal human – sincere, intelligent, and socially conscientious. Everyone else, including us, are just raging mad and complaining about mundane things. Their lyrics are an indictment of humanity’s degradation, and they done it with biting, brilliant humor.
The single is part of Nice Swan Records‘ Introduces series. These guys are a band to watch.
Connie Constance – “Monty Python” (London, England)
RIYL: Nilüfer Yanya, Millie Turner, Julietta
Five years ago a young woman impressed us with her enchanting lullaby, “Euphoric”. At the time, Connie Constance was only 20 years old, yet she was creating music that rivaled her older, well-established peers. The London-based artist has expanded her sound and her fan base with regular airplay across BBC Radio. Wide mass appeal is the next stop for the immensely gifted Constance, and her latest single could be her massive breakthrough. Despite its title, “Monty Python” is no joke.
On the contrary, “Monty Python” is a mind-bending piece of alt-pop-rock. Dance floor beats converge with a stark, post-punk bass to form a soundscape that moves your body but entrances your mind. You’re like a zombie like a night club, stupefied by the intoxicating music that fills the air. Constance’s songwriting is brilliant as she moves between being the protagonist to the narrator. She’s a person seeking love and wanting to feel wanted, and she’ll do whatever it takes to capture that feeling. “No guts, no glory” is her motto because if you don’t take a chance you’ll never know what could have been. Hopefully everyone will also take the chance to discover this fantastic talent.
The single is out on Bandcamp via her very own Jump The Fence label.
Belako – “Profile Anxiety” (Mungia, Spain)
RIYL: Garbage, No Doubt, Bikini Kill
What if Belako was based out of Seattle, New York City or London? They likely would be megastars with music critics fawning over them and festivals inviting them to perform because they’re a bit of an outlier in today’s music. They’re creating alternative/grunge music right out of the ’90s. Songs like “The Craft” and “All Nerve” were heavy, fists-in-the-sky rockers, reminiscent of the time when Garbage, Bikini Kill, and No Doubt (during their grunge days) dominated radio stations. Belako now continue to go against the electro-pop grain with another rousing number.
“Profile Anxiety” is a more methodical track, but it retains the grit and energy of their past efforts. Throbbing rhythms and a driving guitar electrify the air, causing heads to slowly nod. As the song intensifies and reaches its blistering conclusion highlighted by frontwoman Cristina Lizarraga’s voice mimicking Gwen Stefani, full-body gyration results. Lizarraga’s lyrics, as usual, are hard-hitting as she recounts the numerous ways women have been objectified, tormented, and ridiculed:
“No justice without a trial,
But the system is way too polite towards
The ones who keep the right order online
By raping our bodies and minds.”
This is the music of the ’90s revived in its full brilliance and power.
Bleak are: Cristina Lizarraga (vocals/keys), Lore Nekane Billelabeitia (bass/keys/backing vocals), Josu Ximun Billelabeitia (guitar/keys/bass/backing vocals), and Lander Zalakain Martinez (drums). Their new album, Plastic Drama, which was originally scheduled for release on May 8th, arrives later this year via BMG.
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