The Matinee ’20 June 29 edition features new songs aimed at lifting our spirits or at the very least make us realize we are not alone in dealing with the turmoil within and around us. Some of the tracks are flashbacks to bygone eras while others take contemporary music to the future.

 

Doe Paoro – “Universe Promises”” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Diahann Carroll, Natalie Prass, Diana Krall

Regardless if the genre is electro-pop, indie pop, or, in the case of “Universe Promises”, a classic soul-pop tune, Doe Paoro always writes meaningful songs. She uses her platform to raises issues such as mental illness, self- and women’s empowerment, and sexual violence and harassment. The LA-based artist refuses to just create music for the sake of it, which is why she’s one of long-time favorites and a person who we admire. So in these turbulent times, she arrives to lift our spirits.

Akin to the graceful soul-pop of the ’70s, Paoro delivers an instant classic. If Solid Gold was still on television, Paoro would have anchored an episode, performing this at the bottom of the hour as the late-crowd tuned in. With a small orchestra in support and her at the piano, Paoro sings her heart out. She serenades us with a message grounded in the believe that everything eventually balances out. That’s how the universe operates, does it not? If you don’t think so, just listen to Paoro’s moving words, particularly as she sings:

“Oh, it’s a misery to take a bad dream and start fulfilling it
It’s not a mystery that when you name something, you’re killing it
And all that I want is, all of what the universe promises
Good things will come, when you’re not looking for them
And where we end up, it’s unavoidable
Good things will come, if you’d only trust”

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The Suffers – “Take Me to the Good Times” (Houston, USA)

RIYL: Mavis Staples, Aretha Franklin, Etta James

Further helping to keep our heads above water are Houston’s preeminent neo-soul / gospel-soul band The Suffers. For those who have had the pleasure to see them perform live (like we have), they will experience three things – a) an arousing performance that will have you standing, dancing, and clapping; b) feel-good vibes because the collective finds the positives within the darkness; and c) one of the great front-woman in all of music.

On the latter, Kam Franklin is a throwback with the presence of Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Mavis Staples, Billie Holiday, and all the great soul and R&B singers. Supporting her are Pat Kelly, Michael Razo, Kevin Bernier, Jon Durbin, Nick Zamora, Jose “Chapy” Luna, who are like Preservation Hall Jazz Band and The Menahan Street Band (Charles Bradley’s backing outfit) rolled into one. In other words, they’re an immensely talented group of musicians. In these times where seeing live music is a rarity, fortunately The Suffers’ recorded music sounds as vibrant and energizing as it does live. As such, get up on your feet and experience the sermon of “Take Me to the Good Times”.

But unlike attending church, The Suffers aren’t hear to preach nor teach. Instead, they’re hear to remind us that there are plenty of good things awaiting us, and all it takes is stepping outside, feel the sunshine, and see the smiles on people’s faces. It means heading to our local bar and putting a quarter into the jukebox while hanging with “our people”. And eventually, we will get to travel to places like Chicago, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Mexico City, London and anywhere our heart desires. If this song doesn’t get your moving out your door, then maybe the next song will.

The single is out on MidCitizen Records.

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Carl Louis – “Portal to Happiness” (Snarøya, Norway)

RIYL: Tame Impala, Vacationer, MGMT

What makes the ideal summer tune? For some, it’s an EDM banger, where the mass of sweaty people can dance to the predictable beats and drops. For us, a sweltering psychedelic-pop tune defines the hot, humid, lazy days. Offering the perfect tonic to the heat is Norwegian producer and multi-instrumentalist Carl Louis with his song, “Portal to Happiness”.

With an approach that echoes Tame Impala at their most jubilant trippiness, Louis takes us far away and to an imagery, exotic wonderland. His embracing falsetto floats easily through the dazzling, musical kaleidoscope. The whole environment feels like a fairy tale, and his story, too, is something out of a Charles Perrault tale (he wrote Cinderella). Except instead of a “damsel in distress”, Louis is the one who is saved after he “took a chance she wouldn’t walk away”. From that day, he was forever stuck in a trance, which you might end up mimicking after hearing this tune. Better yet, grab your partners hand, dance to the sweetness of “Portal to Happiness”, and learn to love again.

The single is out on Toothfairy.

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Dolly Valentine – “Love is Love” / “Stupid Love Song” (Cincinnati, USA)

RIYL: Daughter of Swords, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Phosphorescent

As you continue to hold hands, then drift off into the world of Dolly Valentine. Earlier this month, Valentine dazzled with two tracks from her upcoming record, How To Be Good – “My Astrology” and “Stay Awhile”. Combine those with the other tracks we’ve heard from the re-branded Holy Golden, it has us immensely excited for what’s next. Last week, she shared two more tracks, specifically two love songs, “Love is Love” and “Stupid Love Song”. Both have a feeling of longing and nostalgia, but also look forward to a better future, driven by the force of love.

“Love is Love” is a beautiful ode to love. It tells the story of the first moments of romance all the way to the end. How a simple moment can evolve into a lifetime of love, and how that can guide through a world that, as Valentine puts it “doesn’t make much sense”.

“Stupid Love Song” has some elements that remind us of why we were drawn to the previous incarnation of Dolly Valentine. Great guitar work, a solid drum beat, and some personal lyrics that resonate hard, delivered with a captivating voice. However, it also has the evolved, new sound, from its pedal steel to its strings, there are so many more layers, and it’s all done so well. It just sounds pristine, thanks in part to Ryan Haddock who produced How To Be Good.

How To Be Good is scheduled for release on August 21st.

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Sam Valdez – “Clean” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Mazzy Starr, Pearl Charles, Julia Jacklin

Love, however, also exists within ourselves. We’ve all heard that we need to love ourselves first before we can love another, and we wholeheartedly agree with this mantra. This journey, though, can often be long and difficult, but there are people who will help us overcome the demons that eat away at our soul. One such individual is Sam Valdez, who for three years has been tantalizing music listeners with her angelic voice and endearing songwriting. You don’t even need to know her personally to call her a friend because she speaks to us through her music, letting us know she’s there for us and no more so than on “Clean”.

Valdez’s latest single is a gorgeous piece of Laurel Canyon-esque folk-rock. Its breezy soundscape echoes the influential early ’70s. As the lingering guitar and keys calmly fill the air, Valdez hushly sings about a friend who is either struggling with addiction or slowly losing their mental health. Her words are poignant, as she closely witnesses the person fall deeper into despair.

“Oh your mind is changing to the cruelest kind
You can’t predict your weather, but I know you tried”

What is even more heartwrenching is Valdez’s realization that the end may be coming and she cannot do much more. She sings with graceful power, “Strange to be here when I know you’re leaving / I know you’re leaving”. And yet, there is relief, as she knows her friend has finally found peace.

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HÆLOS – “Unknown Melody” (London, England)

RIYL: Hundred Waters, Poliça, Mt. Wolf

Whereas Valdez speaks from the perspective of someone on the outside, HÆLOS take us inside the mind of the person struggling to see clearly and to articulate her thoughts cleanly on their cleverly titled, new single, “Unknown Melody”.

In their six years as a band, Arthur Delaney, Lotti Benardout, Dom Goldsmith, and Daniel Vildosola have carved out a niche as one of England’s most exhilarating bands. Their dark-pop electronica is simultaneously haunting and euphoric, often taking listeners down the rabbit hole and putting them into a trance-like state. They do this again on “Unknown Melody”, which is simply divine.

Brooding, hypnotic grooves and light glimmers of reflective beats create the stark yet intoxicating atmosphere. It’s the music of the underworld. From above, however, booms Benardout’s stunning and soft voice. She shares with us her personal struggle to move forward, to be heard, and to make sense of the world. What grounds her is the understanding that life is unpredictable, so instead of trying to control it live it.

“Live my life from day to day
‘Cause who knows what’s next anyway
Live my life just like you say
It’s all or none, unknown melody”

The single is out on HÆLOS’ own Æ imprint.

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Kllo – “Somehow” (Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: BROODS, The Naked and Famous, Oh Wonder

Making us further realize that someone is listening are cousins Chloe Kaul and Simon Lam, who are better known as Kllo, and their stunning new single “Somehow”. Although the duo have become global sensations with their exhilarating electronica / electro-pop, they have won the hearts and minds of fans with their ethereal and moving overtures and Kaul’s thoughtful songwriting. They’re not here, as such, to ensure people have a good time but to also tell the stories of those who cannot. On “Somehow”, Kaul gets deep inside the psyche of an enabler who realizes she may have made a mistake. The result is startling.

The pair’s orchestration is beautifully layered, as beats, synths, and vocal effects cross to create a dark yet breathtaking atmosphere. It feels like we’re submerged underwater at night and watching the life move in the dimly lit shallows. Kaul’s lyrics, though, indicate a woman who is suffocating from the pressure of protecting the person she loves. Her delicate voice and moving words are tinged with remorse, regret, and pain. She has gone as far as she could go with this “controversial move” and is about to reach her breaking point.

“Told me to unwind
Handle it the way it is
Though isn’t it apparent that we’ve lost hold of our grip?
Quick to your defense
Don’t act like the victim now
Maybe it would help on the parallel”

The young stars’ new album, Maybe We Could, is out July 17th on Ghostly International (world) and Good Manners (AU/NZ). Pre-save and pre-order links are available here.

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