The Matinee ’20 July 17 is a medley of sound and experiences. These songs will dazzle you in different ways, so we highly recommend through to the end. The final track, for instance… well, you have to hear it to understand why a young band has us immensely excited.
Psymon Spine – “Milk” feat. Barrie (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Yumi Zouma, Men I Trust, Blondie
A few moons ago, Brooklyn outfit Psymon Spine had us praising the indie-rock inventiveness of “Lines and Lines and Lines End”. We should have realized that since the band was formed by members of electronic group Karate, their sound would not be stationary. Inevitably, they would gravitate towards their roots, but they’ve done so while applying the same ingenuity that made us call “Lines” one of “the most impressive songs we’ve come across” in 2017.
Get ready to get down and funky with “Milk”. Featuring Barrie Lindsay – or simply Barrie – on guitar and backing vocals, the quartet of Noah Prebish, Michael Rudinski, Peter Spears, and Sabine Holler unleash psychedelic disco-pop perfection. The track sounds like Kevin Parker was transported to 1977 and asked to produce Blondie’s next disco hit. The result is dazzling, trippy, infectious, and immensely clever. The sonic theatrics are subdued to allow Holler’s vocals and her sassy tale stand out. Despite the seductive approach, this tune isn’t about love nor lust. Instead it’s about a woman planting her feet and standing her ground. She is the one we envy, not the other way around, and “Milk” is the anthem by which we celebrate her presence.
This superb single is out on Northern Spy Records. We need to pay attention more to Psymon Spine.
I’m Kingfisher – “Pocket Soul” (Lund, Sweden)
RIYL: Damien Jurado, Glen Hansard, Gregory Alan Isakov
Swedish artist Thomas Jonsson – a.k.a. I’m Kingfisher – captures the quiet intimacy of a rainy day when he sings. This is one of the qualities that first made us fans of his work. (The fact that he sounds like Damien Jurado and crafts stories into song like Glen Hansard is another.) His latest single is proof that Jonsson is Sweden’s best-kept secret.
“Pocket Soul” features a cozy blend of Jonsson’s warm vocals and melancholy instrumentation. While this ballad is pensive, its message leans more towards introspection than sadness. His reflections on life are something we can all relate to, especially during this global pandemic: “Most of the time I don’t know whether I’m going up or down.” He repeats the line “I got much to live for” and in doing so, offers hope for all who listen.
Lightning Dust – “Material Life” (Vancouver, Canada)
RIYL: Black Mountain, Ashley Shadow, Besnard Lakes
A year ago, Lightning Dust – the decade-plus project of Amber Webber (Black Mountain, Pink Mountaintops) and Joshua Welles – released their sensational album, Spectre. It would have been on our Favorite Albums of 2019 list had we not been on hiatus. The entire LP resembled the enchanting psych-folk of the ’70s, where every song was an out-of-body experience. If you missed that outstanding record, the duo have returned with a timely, jaw-dropping single.
“Material Life” is a sonic adventure that traverses multiple eras and dimensions. It is both mystical and mythical, taking us back to the days of knights, wizards, trolls, and dragons. At the same time, its psych-folk enchantment creates the sense we are spinning inside a kaleidoscope of trippy colors. The varied approach complements Webber’s poignant lyrics that address our insatiable desires to have more. The always-hungry greed that consumes every moment of our lives, where “we’re so bored of the material life that we want something more than gold”. Maybe in these dark times, what we desire is something spiritual or at least immaterial, like a great song that challenges and provokes.
L.A. Witch – “Gen-Z” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Death Valley Girls, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Womb
In a rare event for L.A. Witch, they let down their guard last month when they shared “I Wanna Lose”. The song showcased a more vulnerable side to Sanade Sanchez (vocals/guitar), Irita Pai (bass), and Ellie English (drums), who have often personified strength and resilience. These times, however, are not ordinary, and even the strongest start to wobble slightly after months of uncertainty and lockdown. Despite these uncontrollable challenges, the trio still push forward, using their vulnerability to their advantage. Specifically, they’re telling people they are not alone in these global moments of reckoning, and they once again galvanize the masses on “Gen-Z”.
The music is trademark L.A. Witch. The psych-rock approach is gloomy, stark, and yet mersmerizing. Its atmosphere evokes a storm-ravaged deserted island. That storm booms with English’s throbbing drums, Pai’s rock-crushing bass, and Sanchez’s hurtling guitar. Through the noise beams Sanchez’s voice as she tries to liberate young people from their captivity. This island, though, is not one that exists anywhere on Earth, but instead it is found in everyone’s hands, pockets, and purses. It’s the thing we take everywhere and look at all day seeking information, entertainment, and connectivity. Our minds are prisoners to our phones and the new norms promoted on social media. This may be an even greater ill than the pandemic and populists that rage around us.
Holy Motors – “Country Church” (Tallinn, Estonia)
RIYL: Pearl Charles with My Morning Jacket, Dolly Valentine, Lauren Ruth Ward
When Estonians Holy Motors emerged on North American radar screens two years ago, they were compared with the great shoegazers of our times. Their single, “Signs”, for instance, echoed a young Slowdive. Although Lauri Raus (guitar), Gert Gutmann (guitar), Caspar Salo (drums), and Eliann Tulve (vocals) could have been Estonia’s answer to Russia’s Pinkshinyultrablast, they’ve decided to look further west and to the dusty, desert plains of the American southwest on their newest single. In the process, they masterfully resurrect another genre of a bygone era.
“Country Church” is sublime, dreamy Americana. If we didn’t add the band’s location, one would assume Holy Waters resided in Austin, Atlanta, or Nashville. Raus and Gutmann’s duelling guitar work resembles Jim James and Carl Broemel of My Morning Jacket while Salo offers the steady hands of Patrick Hallahan. The only difference is that Tulve’s silky smooth voice is even more mesmerizing than Jim James’ unique vocal. Every word she sings possesses the breathtaking effect of a young Hope Sandoval, leaving listeners in a state of calm, awe, and envy. Her story of a lost, wandering soul seeking belonging and love is one with which most people today can relate. For some, they seek companionship with another person. Others, meanwhile, seek a high, spiritual connection. Whatever the case may be, “Country Church” is the ideal road-trip tune to get us to where we desire.
Darlingside – “Ocean Bed” (Boston, USA)
RIYL: Midlake, The Ballroom Thieves, Birds of Chicago
In the darkest moments, it is human nature for us to search for sources of light. Sometimes that source is a flashlight used on a dim path; other times it is a song played to buoy a crushed spirit. The latter is what makes Darlingside one of our long-time favorites. Their music has been a beacon of light and hope during the last decade, and their newest song continues that tradition.
“Ocean Bed” – the first single from their upcoming Fish Pond Fish LP – finds the Boston-based Americana band again creating magic with their harmonies. The syncopated rhythms at the start quicken your pulse while the intricate strings soar. Their signature baroque-folk sound is rich and full as always, with vivid lyrical imagery to match:
“Ghost dog running
To the churned up under of the ocean bed
No, I’m not running
To the true blue bottom where the light ends.”
Darlingside are: Don Mitchell (banjo, guitar, vocals), Auyon Mukharji (mandonlin, violin, vocals), Harris Paseltiner (guitar, cello, vocals), and David Senft (bass, kick drum, vocals).
Household Dogs – “One Last Look Around” (Leeds, England)
RIYL: Depeche Mode, Eagulls, Iceage, Nick Cave
A decade ago, a little band from Leeds descended upon the world with their unrelenting brand of post-punk. Eagulls became an overnight sensation, but after 2016’s Ullages they’ve gone silent. This is Leeds, however, so the void created by Eagulls’ hiatus would eventually be filled. It specifically took two years when Household Dogs arrived with their immensely dark, Gothic brand of post-punk. Like their predecessors, the quintet of Declan Newcombe (lead vocals), Matt Fogg (bass), Ross Day (guitar), Alex Fletcher (guitar), and Josh Hagan (drums) burst on the scene with acclaim from BBC Radio. The next step for them is to deliver an album that gets Mercury Prize consideration and releasing a video that nabs NME’s best music video award. They might nab a nomination for the latter for their newest song “One Last Look Around”.
The video is a stark, post-modern art epic. Tints of pink and yellow breakthrough the largely black-and-white footage, an approach that captures the dystopian world Household Dogs have crafted. This world, though, exists externally and internally, where your mind resides in another dimension. Through the harrowing and trembling post-punk soundscape, Newcombe’s deep baritone utters a tale that is on par with Nick Cave’s most vivid and frighteningly real tracks. He wants us to not just react but to experience every emotion in this world.
“You can laugh, you can cry
As long as you feel it
Half of the time
And if you think
That you’re dreaming
Remember to feel it
Half of the time”
We have found our new favorite band.
The track is from a compilation of Leeds-based artists and bands called, Come Stay With Me. The LP, which is released on Come Play With Me, includes contributions from Team Picture, Talkboy, Dead Naked Hippies, and many more. Purchasing and streaming links are available here or go directly to Bandcamp.
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