These last ten days – heck, the first five-plus months of 2020 – have redefined what is “normal”, and we shouldn’t try to replicate what life was before. We should stay uncomfortable until we find solutions to the great injustices that continue to affect many of our sisters and brothers. But we also need moments to breathe, reflect, contemplate, and recharge our bodies, minds, and soul, and The Matinee ’20 June 4 offers a brief recess with six fantastic songs.
Absolutely Yours – “Fool For You” (New York, USA)
RIYL: Mothers, Soccer Mommy, Lush
New York’s Absolutely Yours create some seriously dreamy music. In 2018, they released the stunning Impossible Bouquet EP that was full of shoegazey, lush songs. They’re back with the even dreamier “Fool For You”, which will be part of their upcoming third LP, Natural Wonder, due June 26th.
“Fool For You” builds on that dream. The track features a delectable helping of jangly guitar, lush harmonies, and a super catchy chorus. The production on “Fool for You” is impressive, too, especially when compared to the earlier Absolutely Yours records, and it allows everything to shine even more. Lyrically, it expresses a relatable relationship frustration. It is laid-back dream-pop perfected.
“And I don’t want to be a fool for you
Got me running in circles in my mind
Every night you change your tune
Give me a sign”
If “Fool For You” is any indication, Natural Wonder will be a stunner. Pre-order it here.
Absolutely Yours are Bridget Collins, Max Currier, Matt Addison, and Ben Jones.
Deathlist – “No Gaze” (Portland, USA)
RIYL: Marriages, Emma Ruth Rundle, Womb
Portland is one of the world’s great music cities, although most people rarely recognize the Oregon metropolis as a place to discover great artists. One reason is geography, and another is that the City of Roses does not have a distinct sound. To the north, Seattle is still the queen of alternative rock and grunge. And to the south, San Francisco teems with some of the very finest psychedelic and West Coast hip hop artists. Portland, instead, has created an environment that fosters creativity and diversity, allowing artists to organically develop and experiment. Would a band like The Decemberists have been able to perfect its quirky craft in any other city? We don’t think so. This openness allows a band like Deathlist to blossom.
Last Friday, the trio of Jenny Logan, Maggie May Morris, and Elly Swope released their debut album, You won’t be here long. Mostly grounded in what they call “desert goth”, the LP also weaves through darkgaze, goth-rock, and witch-rock. Its ultimate track, “No Gaze”, though, traverses another genre – that of gothic folk-rock, and for us it’s the highlight of a great little record.
“No Gaze” is a spellbinding journey through the empty expanses of Oregon’s high desert region. As shallow synths and rhythms and a wonderfully disturbing bass hum in the background, a dissonant guitar weeps in the foreground. This is the sound of darkness descending around us until Logan’s own shallow voice enters the picture. She sings with little emotion, as if she’s a ghost reflecting on the days she was whole. Remembering the day she was let go and to never be seen again. Her tale is haunting, gripping, and all too familiar these days.
You won’t be here long is available on all the streaming and purchasing sites, but we recommend going direct to Bandcamp.
Dolly Valentine – “My Astrology” (Cincinnati, OH, USA)
RIYL: Neko Case, Daughter of Swords, Hurray for the Riff Raff
Dolly Valentine is the rebranded project of Holy Golden, who are one of our long-time favorites. Completely changing your name is not easy. It’s a brand, an identity, but sometimes life and experiences take you somewhere else. Hearing these two new Dolly Valentine tracks that were released last week, it is easy to understand the name change, and the immense shift in sound for the songwriter.
Gone are the days of the drum machine and electric guitar, but Dolly Valentine’s voice is more powerful than ever on “My Astrology”. It’s a gorgeous southern-style song, featuring a delicate acoustic guitar, piano, and pedal steel. It also came alongide a second single, “Stay Awhile”, which is a bit slower and focuses on the importance of family.
“My Astrology”, meanwhile, was likely written some time ago, but it has some lines we can all relate to in these times and, thus, find strength in.
“In some ways we are different
In some ways we’re the same
Trying to find peace
in a world that’s gone insane
there’s one thing I know for sure
You live a life no ones lived before”
Both “My Astrology” and “Stay Awhile” will be available on Dolly Valentine’s upcoming album How To Be Good, which is expected August 21st.
Gordi – “Unready” (Canowindra, Australia)
RIYL: Phoebe Bridgers, Angie McMahon, Bon Iver
We’ve mentioned on many occasions our adoration for Dr. Sophie Payten, who amazes us with her intelligence, her generosity (she still volunteers as a medical professional), and, of course, her project, Gordi. We also have to add her honesty and openness, as it seems every story is about an influential person (“Sandwiches”) or a profound, life-changing moment ( “Volcanic”, “Aeroplane Bathroom”). Her songs demonstrate that one can still be strong when vulnerable. That revealing one’s soul can not only be therapeutic but it can inspire others. These traits are way we eagerly await the arrival of Dr. Payten’s sophomore album, Our Two Skins, which will be released June 26th via Jagjaguwar and Liberation Records. To help us ride out the next three weeks, she gives us another reason to believe better days are coming.
Whereas her previous songs were solemn yet cinematic, “Unready” is more widescreen and euphoric. It simultaneously exults and stuns, leaving you smiling while gasping for that extra breath. As the fluttering, uplifting folktronica approach fills the air, the young woman from small town Australia provides a prescription for our ills with her beautiful words. She looks inwards to help lift us out of the shadows. To make us realize that there is still and always will be hope because she, too, has been lost in the darkness.
“Took me further than I thought I’d go
I was listening to a voice I know
Said take me down another way
Going on and on and then you’re feeling like you’re nothing
Want to hold it in your hand but it is always on your shoulder, I know
You’re nowhere I have been”
June 26th. Remember that date.
Grace Turner – “Half Light” (Newcastle, Australia)
RIYL: TORRES, Snail Mail, The Cure
When rising Australian singer-songwriter Grace Turner first wrote “Half Light”, she likely did not anticipate that the song would capture the state of the world leading up to and beyond May 25, 2020. That day, of course, was when George Floyd’s life tragically ended, and much of the western world awakened. For far too long, people stayed silent while watching elected despots tear down institutions, stoke conflict and divisions, and told lie after lie after lie. The people, though, stayed silent until finally they could no longer live their “half lives”. And that is the heart of Turner’s brilliant and moving new single.
Throughout the song’s four-minute duration, Turner utters the numerous ways in which we only invest a part of ourselves. Or to use an old analogy, we only have one foot in the water. As a result, we accept the half-truths told by the half-deranged. We love a bit, but not fully. We make half-hearted attempts and accept the results. In other words, we have become complacent. For three minutes, Turner reflects on her own fallacies faults. Then suddenly, she has an epiphany, and the song explodes. The gritty, indie rocker is transformed in an array of Gothic light, akin to the majestic endings heard on The Cure’s most iconic anthems. This moment is like the days after May 25th. Now it’s our duty to keep the momentum going and jump into the deep end with both feet, and Turner has given us the reality check to keep us going.
Turner’s new EP, Half Truths, arrives August 7th.
Pale Honey – “Killer Scene” (Gothenburg, Sweden)
RIYL: Warpaint, Nelson Can, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Ask most people to name a Swedish band, they likely will mention ABBA, Roxette, The Cardigans, Ace of Base, Icona Pop, The Radio Dept., and maybe Makthaverskan. Hopefully one day soon, Pale Honey will be mentioned in the same breath as these Tre Konor legends. Founded by long-time friends Tuva Lodmark and Nelly Daltrey, who are now joined by Anders Lagerfors, the trio are adding darkness to the elastic pop pageantry that has defined Swedish music for decades. Their excellent debut album, Devotion, was brooding artistry as its finest. The record featured only Lodmark and Daltrey, but with Lagerfors on board the band can take their craft to another level. They do this with “Killer Scene”.
Prepare to be taken on a memorable trip into the depths of an inner city’s despair. Although Pale Honey wanted to create a song that sounded like a Tarantino movie, they’ve actually produced a tune that echoes Frank Miller’s neo-noir series, Sin City. “Killer Scene” is dark and foreboding, yet it is exhilarating. You want to close your eyes, but you cannot. The pulsating bass and beats keep you entranced while the electrifying guitar jolts your senses. Lodmark’s lyrics draw you further in, as she tells a story of revenge, brilliantly articulating the perspectives of the femme fatale and the man who stole many lives and is now about to suffer the same fate. Who needs to go the movies when bands like Pale Honey are putting the cinema into the music?
The single is out on Bolero Recordings. Their third album is expected later this year.
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