The Matinee ’20 June 1st edition is organized like a playlist, meaning the songs are in the order we think they should be heard. We hope these songs provide a momentary escape during these uneasy times. Please be safe and, as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has often said during these last three months, be kind.
Secret Shame – “Pure” (Asheville, NC, USA)
RIYL: The Cranberries, The Cure, Porridge Radio
In a time when people across the globe seek healing, music can play a significant role. Soothing melodies can ease tension while thoughtful lyrics help us understand who we are and celebrate our uniqueness. One of the most exciting bands of the past year has given us such a gift with “Pure.”
After re-imagining what Gothic post-punk could sound like on the buzzing “Dissolve”, Secret Shame have turned dream-pop into a calm, dazzling experience. It evokes the experience of sitting in a boat in the middle of a still lake as stars twinkle above. That moonlit tranquility on the water elicits introspection and retrospection. Or in the case of “Pure”, finding the beauty in each of us – that light beneath the darkness that has overwhelmed us. Hopefully, we’ll find that glimmer soon.
The “Dissolve/Pure” split single from Lena, Matthew, Nathan, and Billie arrives June 5th. Pre-orders are available on Bandcamp.
Hater – “Sift” (Malmö, Sweden)
RIYL: Red House Painters, Chapterhouse, Slowdive
Hater are undeniably one of the finest indie bands to emerge in the past five years. They’ve released three fantastic records so far – LPs in You Tried and Siesta and an EP called Red Blinders. They’ve effortlessly weaved between rapturous indie rock to emotional, solemn indie pop to tell front woman Caroline Landahl’s heartfelt stories. Unlike most young bands, however, Hater’s tales concern the experiences of us all, thus making us the heart of their art. Such a skill is rare in these days where the individual is more important than the collective, but Måns Leonartsson, Adam Agace, Lukas Thomasson, and Caroline Landahl make us feel whole on “Sift”.
The single is beautifully dreary. Its intimate opening and Landahl’s tale of feeling lost and out of place echo the sadcore era of the ’90s when bands like Red House Painters and Codeine intelligently captured the anxiety of a generation. As it progresses, the song turns into a stirring, low-key dream-pop anthem reminiscent of Chapterhouse. The song becomes not just enrapturing but knee-buckling, as the stunning bleakness begins to weigh heavily on our minds and souls. Hater have written plenty of superb tunes, and “Sift” is one of their very best. Hard to believe the track was originally intended to be on You Tried, and thankfully they dusted it off for all to hear.
Night Shop – “Hello Take Me Anywhere” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Woods, Kevin Morby, Jonathan Wilson
Night Shop is one branch of the ever-evolving Woods/Kevin Morby/The Babies/Waxahatchee family tree. This project of Justin Sullivan (Woods, Flat Worms) serves up a slice of low-key indie rock perfection on the new “Hello Take Me Anywhere” single. Packed with tight hooks and wry lyrics, this entry in Dangerbird Records’ monthly Microdose series is an automatic contender for song of the year. Its title alone reveals why: we all have unfulfilled wanderlust after weeks of isolation. Sullivan vocalizes our collective thoughts with the line “I go places in my mind.” But that destination is far from satisfying. What is rewarding in a “cranked to 11, playing drums on your steering wheel” way is the vitality of this song. Every chord sends tingles down your spine. This is the power of good, old-fashioned rock ‘n roll: it excites and inspires in equal measure. In sticking with the basics, Night Shop really nails it with this song.
If you’ve already begun planning your next road trip, “Hello Take Me Anywhere” should kick off your playlist. Whether your dream destination is a beach or a bookstore, this tune provides an electrifying rush to keep your spirits soaring the whole way there.
Justin Sullivan (lyrics, vocals, guitar) is joined by Jarvis Taveniere (Woods) on bass, guitar, piano, and engineering; Allison Crutchfield (Swearin’) on backing vocals; and Tiffanie Lanmon on drums.
Les Big Byrd – “Roofied Angels” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, POND, Temples
Less than two years ago we anointed Joakim Åhlund, Frans Johansson, Nino Keller, and Martin Ehrencrona as music’s “jacks-of-all-trades”, as they tackle any and almost every genre through their project, Les Big Byrd. They can fire up quirky indie-pop, dizzying new wave and synth-pop, and old school rockers. Maybe the phrase we used isn’t quite accurate. They’re instead a living, breathing jukebox. Adding to the musical selections available to listeners is some Aussie-style psychedelic rock, which comes in the form of “Roofied Angels”.
The single is a 7+ minute raucous ride of blistering guitars, whammy bass lines, danceable synths, and hip-shaking drums. It’s the type of song that would be great for all occasions – a road trip to nowhere, an hour-long workout, the trip to the work or store, or a low-key affair at home. Wherever you end up spinning the track, you just might find yourself dancing or unleashing a wild air guitar in front of your family. There aren’t many lyrics in the tune, yet at the same time it’s memorable for making psych-rock infectious and wonderfully delirious.
Sam Himself – “Like a Friend” (Brooklyn, USA via Switzerland)
RIYL: The National, Bruce Springsteen, Editors
Sam Himself might not be a name you know yet. The project of Brooklyn-based Swiss transplant Samuel Koechlin is still working on achieving the global recognition he deserves. What you will remember most about this rising star is not his band name but his arresting vocals. His rich, rumbling baritone is the hook that draws you in, hypnotizes you, and turns casual listeners into instant fans.
Hearing “Like a Friend” from the new Slow Drugs album might prompt some jaw dropping, especially for fans of The National. Koechlin is cut from the same brooding cloth as Matt Berninger, both in timbre and cadence. This only heightens the draw. But continue listening and you hear other influences on this multi-faceted talent. One moment Sam projects the raw storytelling charm of Bruce Springsteen; the next you detect hints of Editors and Interpol. The musicianship on this tune is exquisite.
“Like a Friend” simmers long and slow. This seamless blend of European and American indie rock offers immediate intimacy and substantive textures. Like the album’s title, this song’s intoxicating effects remain long after it ends. With the state of the world today, we tend to ask more of the artists who are pouring their hearts and souls into their craft. We want musicians to offer reassurance and therapy. What you get with Sam Himself is a comforting sound that delivers more than just a stunning indie rock ballad. You also get a song that offers the solace we all crave.
The Slow Drugs EP is out now. Links to stream or purchase can be found here.
Sam Himself includes: Samuel Koechlin (vocals, guitar, keys), Josh Werner (bass), Daniel Schlett (keys), and Parker Kindred (drums).
Grace Gillespie – “HUH” (London, England)
RIYL: Steady Holiday, Molly Burch, Aldous Harding
What would the music for a Quentin Tarantino-directed children’s movie sound like? Would the soundtrack be littered with happy and cheery songs like “Everything is Awesome”? We highly doubt that, and we think Grace Gillespie would agree.
Although the English singer-songwriter is not yet a household name (it’s only a matter of time), she’s received significant coverage from BBC Radio, NME, and Earmilk, who premiered her newest single, “HUH”, on Friday. One listen to the track and you’re likely to agree Tarantino would approve of the tune and include it should he ever decide to make a movie targeted at the 6 to 12 age group.
The orchestration is magnificent, as the melody forged by the various instruments is mysterious yet enchanting. It sounds like the music intended for a grimly dark re-telling of Hansel & Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood. Gillespie, through her whisper-like delivery, tells a similar tale. The protagonist, though, are children, who are trying to make sense of the monotonous games adults play every day. As she “swings in the sunshine” and enjoys the life she has, she realizes that her parents and those like them are prisoners in their own world. They are not free; they are instead servants to daily routine. Her life in comparison to the adults is like hide and seek. While she hides, no one seeks to find her because they are already lost. The tale is immensely clever and a brilliant microcosm of our lives.
Meggie Lennon – “Mind Games” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Anna Burch, Hatchie, Mac DeMarco
Everyone will agree that love is the most popular theme in music. Whether some guy is gushing over a girl or a young woman is writing about having her heartbroken, we’ve all heard the two stories thousands of times over. So how does one stand out from the pack and deliver something that sounds refreshing? That sounds exciting? The task is much harder than it seems, but Meggie Lennon has cracked the code with “Mind Games”.
The Montreal-based artist, who was once with synth-pop group Abrdeen, channels her inner Anna Burch and Mac DeMarco to unveil a shimmering psych-pop delight. Its slow grooves and trippy ambience personify the dog days of summer, where wallow in the heat and contemplate the heavy thoughts that linger in our mind. For Lennon, it’s the end of a relationship. But instead of reverting to predictable jargon, she describes her mental state six days after the event and how she still has locked herself up inside because she still “feels fragile”. During this time, she recalls how her ex grew distant and how she went along with his antics. She calmly utters, “You kept the best part away from us, but I’ll keep playing”. If more heartbreak / break-up songs were like this, we likely would share more of them.
The song is available on Bandcamp if you wish to support this talented, young artist.
The Mysterines – “I Win Every Time” (Liverpool, England)
RIYL: YONAKA, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Murder Capital
It was only three months ago – after hearing “Love’s Not Enough” – when we asked ourselves, “What took us so long to discover The Mysterines?” Granted, the Liverpudlians are young, as co-founders Lia Metcalfe (vocals/guitar) and George Favager (bass) are still in their teens. Could they be their generation’s answer to Sleigh Bells, where they set aside the niceties and just deliver full-throttle, propulsive alt-rock? Although the band is more on the alternative side than noise rock, they share Sleigh Bells’ in-your-face, hold-nothing-back philosophy, where to be heard over the static you better have something meaningful to say. They definitely will be heard on their latest song.
“I Win Every Time” is a raging rocker that only the bravest soul would dare confront. The rest of us will get out of the way and allow The Mysterines to have the road to themselves. Favager’s bass pummels through the bystanders like Éomer riding down to Helm’s Deep to save King Théoden (sorry, we couldn’t resist The Lord of the Rings imagery). Metcalfe, though, is leading the charge. Her piercing voice is the beacon around which we all rally. While driving guitar hammers in the background, she tells all the misogynists within the music industry (and in the world, generally) to get out of her way. Nothing will stop her from being heard, from being herself, and from succeeding. Who are we to argue with a band that makes us feel brave and alive?
The single is out on their own Pretty Face Recordings. No word as of yet on whether a new album is coming, though our fingers are crossed.
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