Whether you need a pick-me-up, something to calm the nerves, or just some playful, summertime music, The Matinee ’20 July 10 has it. The mini-playlist features a song for every mood, but since it’s Friday we have to start it on a high note. We also have to shine the spotlight on one of the past decade’s great bands.

 

Future Islands – “For Sure” (Baltimore, USA)

RIYL: Future Islands

Few things bring as much joy as listening to Future Islands. Samuel T. Herring is an undeniable force of a frontman. His band creates some of the most infectious music ever heard. Now for the first time in three years, the Baltimore-based synth-pop masters have a new track to share.

“For Sure” is unmistakably Future Islands. Herring’s trademark voice soars and grits its way through the retro-pop track. The groovy bass line, the nostalgia-triggering synth, and the driving drumbeat are all present. It’s as danceable as their earlier work (notably the 2014 smash hit album, Singles), which makes us excited for the day we see Herring and crew on stage, spilling their heart out to this song.

The song also features Wye Oak/Flock of Dimes vocalist Jenn Wasner on backing vocals, which adds yet another layer of badassery to the whole thing. But the audio isn’t the only thing worth celebrating: the post-apocalyptic video is a feast for the eyes as well. “For Sure” is out now and available from these links.

Future Islands are: Samuel T. Herring, William Cashion, and Gerrit Welmers.

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The Band of Heathens – “Black Cat” (Austin, USA)

RIYL: My Morning Jacket, Sturgill Simpson, Townes Van Zandt

The most enchanting songs tell a story that spring to life in each verse. Texas is fertile soil for singer songwriters, so it’s no wonder that Austin-based The Band of Heathens have a new single guaranteed to captivate all who hear it. This tale of a legend positions “Black Cat” is more than just an instant classic: it’s a prime example of modern storytelling done right.

Paired with steamy blues rock instrumentation and vivid lyrical imagery, the fate of the black cat is revealed. A fighter is born; a hero emerges. Your eyes stay riveted to the video that features excellent animation. Your pulse quickens when you hear the cool delivery of “It’s a fight to the death, then it’s it’s done / Know where you come from” at the chorus. When it’s done, you will probably find yourself hitting repeat multiple times. Be warned, though: “Black Cat” is as addicting as it is engrossing.

This is the second song from the band’s upcoming Stranger album. Last month they shared “Today Is Our Last Tomorrow,” a rollicking tune with another must-see video. 

“Black Cat” is streaming now on Spotify and Apple Music. Stranger arrives September 25 via the band’s own BOH Records with pre-orders here. 

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Lomelda – “Wonder” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Pinegrove, Long Beard, Alex G 

Lomelda, the project of Hannah Read, has just announced their fourth LP, Hannah, which is due out September 4th. Read’s last record was 2019’s M for Empathy, which was a very laid back affair, and before that a diverse breakout album, 2017’s Thx. This week, she shares the first single from Hannah, “Wonder”.

“Wonder” doesn’t pick up where Lomelda left off, instead it channels its energy and powers it forward. It’s louder than most of Lomelda’s discography. Its centerpiece is the repetition of the lyrics “When you get it give it all you got you said”. Mixed with heavily strummed chords, and drums with a little extra behind each hit, the result is an incredibly powerful track.

Lomelda’s new album, Hannah, is out September 4th on Double Double Whammy. Pre-orders are available on Bandcamp.

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Freyr – “I’m Sorry” (Stockholm, Sweden)

RIYL: The Tallest Man on Earth, José González, I’m Kingfisher

Leaving is rarely easy. Whether you are returning home from an idyllic beach holiday or moving away from a loved one, every departure triggers a flood of emotions. One way to alleviate the pain of leaving is with music that captures those emotions. Fortunately, a new song from one of our favorite Scandinavian singer-songwriters does just that. 

‘I’m Sorry” is another dazzling gift from Swedish artist Freyr. His acoustic guitar work pairs perfectly with his warm vocals as he apologizes for leaving. Together those elements make for a comforting experience, even though the reasons for the exit remain unclear. Freyr’s delivery has the intimacy of Sufjan Stevens and Sigur Ros, which in itself is enough to take your breath away. But halfway through, the expanded instrumentation – including rich backing vocals plus a swell of piano and ambling percussion – makes this gem of a tune shine even brighter. 

In case you missed it, we shared his earlier single, “Neighbour Boy”, back in April. The I’m Sorry EP is out now via Nettwerk Music Group from these streaming and purchase links.

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Harpo Milk – “Swim Again” (Liverpool, England)

RIYL: Yo La Tengo, Broken Social Scene, Pavement

Our discovery last month of Harpo Milk – the solo project of Circa Waves‘ Joe Falconer – had us reliving our youth. “Glue” took us back to our high school and college days in the mid-’90s when the best music was found on college radio stations and the monthly compilation CDs that CMJ distributed. We were virtually high-fiving one another, just like we did some twenty-odd years ago. Back when we were listening non-stop to Yo La Tengo, Falconer was still a wee lad. This just goes to show that a great sound from a great era is timeless, and Falconer rekindles the ’90s love affair with “Swim Again.”

This song belongs on a ’90s soundtrack. It’s not just the driving guitars and exhilarating urgency of the rhythms that elicit smiles and a heavy dose of nostalgia. Falconer’s breezy vocals and his short story also define the decade that gave us Reality BitesClerks, and Singles. He sings about times when we failed yet we got right back on our feet. About times where we didn’t have the right words to say, but the moment was perfect that nothing had to be said. Instead, we knew that “it just feels right”, kind of like what Benny & Joon accientally found love.

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Dehd – “Month” (Chicago, USA)

RIYL: Pale Saints, DIIV, The Jesus and Mary Chain

In the lead up to their new album, Flower of Devotion, Chicago darkgazers Dehd have unveiled the sublime “Loner” and “Flood”, on which Emily Kempf has assumed lead vocals. But before anyone and everyone got comfortable thinking that Kempft was the primary voice, the trio reminds us that there is another voice at the heart of the trio’s sound.

On “Month”, guitarist Jason Balla takes center stage, and his drifting vocal seamlesssly flows within the dreamy and intoxicating melody. As Balla’s shoegaze-y guitar lingers above the deep pulses of Kempf’s trembling bass and Eric McGrady’s stuttering percussion, the song feels like a memory coming to life. The classic tones conjure in our mind visions of our youth and a time when ripped jeans were en vogue and innocence was a virtue. Balla’s repeating words, “Come and it goes”, also refer to how over time our memories change. Little details are forgotten and even the meaning of the moment may change. But then sometimes the memory is crystal clear, especially when a song like “Month” helps us recall every second.

Dehd, once again, are Emily Kempf (lead vocals/bass), Jason Balla (guitar/backing vocals), and Eric McGrady (drums). Their new album, Flower Of Devotion, is out July 17th on Fire Talk Records. Pre-orders are available here.

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Bendrix Littleton – “Deep Dark South” (Nashville, USA)

RIYL: Bent Denim, Florist, Told Slant, Great Grandpa

Nashville-via-Dallas artist Bennett Littlejohn (formerly of Bent Denim) releases music under the moniker Bendrix Littleton, a name taken from the protagonist of Graham Greene’s 1951 novel, The End of the Affair. It’s a unique choice, but it’s fitting for the music and the connections that Littlejohn makes. It’s a very solitary sounding project, with a hint of eerie, calming music.

This week, Bendrix Littleton released the title track from their upcoming debut LP. “Deep Dark South” is a very slow paced, minimal affair, and it’s absolutely stunning. A lot of the weirdness comes from Littlejohn playing with a cassette recorder and manipulating the sound that way, instead of via other types of production or effects. It’s a really cool touch that creates a unique (and genuinely haunting) vibe throughout the record, of which Littlejohn builds on.

Deep Dark South is out September 25th via NNA Tapes. Pre-orders are available at the label’s store and Bandcamp.

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Mint – “M180” (Grimsby, England)

RIYL: Foals, The Libertines, Duran Duran

We end the mini-playlist in the way we started – with a track to get you moving. But instead of synth-pop, Grimsby quartet Mint are here to shake the walls and our eardrums with their anthemic indie rock. So if you don’t mind temporarily losing your hearing, turn the volume way up and let “M180” scream through your speakers or headphones.

With the ferocious energy of Foals and the boisterous flamboyance of The Libertines, band members Zak, Veggie, Lenny, and Bambi have crafted a song meant to rattle the walls of every venue. It’s a banger for all who love to play air guitar and do impressions of The Muppets’ Animal (and you know who you are) pretending to be a rock star. Nothing can stop you from enjoying these 211 seconds of pure adrenaline. You might even feel as invincible as your naive teenaged self. The band also tell such a tale, recalling their reckless youth and how they somehow evaded more serious results. Now instead of creating heart attacks for themselves, they’re increasing our blood pressure, but in a good way.

And if you’re wondering where the Duran Duran reference comes, listen closely: a few riffs resemble the ’80s rock band’s classic hit, “The Reflex.” We can picture Mint strutting around the stage like Simon Le Bon when they’re not doing their best impersonation of Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis.

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