Reflecting the whirlwind times we live in, The Matinee ’20 July 24 is a topsy-turvy experience. The songs will enchant, and they will amaze. Some will reinvigorate the mind, and others will warm the soul. You may find yourself dancing at some points, and another moment find yourself ready to stand up for your rights. Great music does this. It elicits emotions and reactions when we least expect them and just in time for the weekend. As such, listen to every single tune to truly experience this roller coaster.
Phoria – “Current” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Phoria, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Joe Hisaishi
For most of the 2010s, Phoria have enchanted listeners with their cinematic approach to electronica. The band comprised of Trewin Howard (vocals/composition/production/electronics), Tim Douglas (guitar/bass/synth), James Cheeseman (guitar/synth), Ed Sanderson (piano/synth), and Seryn Burden (drums) have few equals, a statement that holds even more true today. Where many artists aim to make Billboard’s charts, the Brighton quintet strive to make memories. Their debut album, Volition, was a painstaking, nearly five-year process that resulted in one of the most stunning records of the last decade.
Phoria’s sophomore LP was due in 2019, but the band scrapped it to forge a new course. This spring they teased what was coming with the solemn instrumental “Intro”. Now they officially re-launch with the announcement that Caught a Black Rabbit will finally arrive November 13th via Akira Records. From the highly-anticipated record is “Current”, a truly gorgeous musical piece.
While Phoria’s music has always been cinematic and cosmic, they have turned into film composers with this track. Other than one brief moment, Howard’s intoxicatingly ghostly vocal is absent. In its place is an awe-inspiring string arrangement accompanied by a stirring piano and synths. The song is from a distant, unforeseen time that only the true masters like Ryuichi Sakamoto and Joe Hisaishi have envisioned. And now, too, Phoria stands among them.
Lightning Dust – “Busted Minds” (Vancouver, Canada)
RIYL: PJ Harvey, Nadine Shah, Ashley Shadow
Only a week ago, Lightning Dust released “Material Life”, which was the first of two songs from the band’s new 7″. Yesterday, they shared the flip-side because a good thing just cannot be withheld from the rest of the world. And for most of the world, discovering the greatness of Amber Webber (Black Mountain, Pink Mountaintops) and Joshua Welles should not be delayed any longer, and the duo’s latest track showcases their immense talents.
Whereas “Material Life” was a like a cosmic journey towards spirituality, “Busted Minds” is grounded in the here-and-now. It is an alt-rock number reminiscent of PJ Harvey in her prime, where the song stirs the air at first before rattling the cages. Through the jingling tambourine, the strumming acoustic guitar, and later the heavy percussion, Webber’s voice pierces through the gritty yet dazzling soundscape. Her voice is that of a woman who has had enough. She is a revolutionary, and she calls on us to not accept the status quo. She hollers, “Got shake this!”, while Welles replies back as one of her followers, “We don’t need this”. Their words could be interpreted in many ways – as a protest manifesto or the rallying cry of hundreds of thousands of women who have been victims for far too long. Either way, the revolution has begun.
TTRRUUCES – “The Disco” (London, England)
RIYL: Blondie, Chromatics, The Dø, Robyn
Say hello to your newest musical addiction: a duo called TTRRUUCES is out to win your heart and quicken your pulse. When you hear “The Disco” from their new self-titled album, you’ll know you don’t stand a chance at resisting their allure.
The secret to their deliciously irresistible sound isn’t simply the disco fever this tune arouses. These beats are highly danceable, without question. Beneath the shimmer of the chic vocals and sultry rhythms beats an unstoppable pulse. It beckons you to surrender to the night in wild abandon. As you heed the call of this European duo (“Sad Girl” Natalie Findlay of the UK and “Lost Boy” Jules Apollinaire from France), you throw back your head in a rapturous sigh. This is the soundtrack of freedom – your release from boredom and stress and every mundane thing in life that causes your soul to wither instead of bloom. “Saturday night at the disco you’re dancing alone,” they sing. Only you will never be lonely with a tune as delicious as this to savor.
Logan Farmer – “Sorrowbirds” (Fort Collins, CO, USA)
RIYL: Nick Drake, Damien Jurado, Gregory Alan Isakov
Some days the only thing way to quell the storms inside is to sit quietly and let music wash over you. But not just any music – no, those moments call for a specific kind of audio therapy. Today we share a voice that belongs in your zen-inducing arsenal. Colorado-based singer/songwriter Logan Farmer (formerly of Monarch Mtn) will set your mind at ease with his new single, “Sorrowbirds.”
Farmer seems to serve a dual purpose here: he’s more than just an artist with a poet’s heart and a vocal style mellower than Nick Drake. There is a special magic in his delivery as well. The exact quality nearly defies description, so tranquil is its melancholic reverie. On first listen you may be swayed more by his lyrical imagery; subsequent spins will find you captivated by its textures, especially in the wee hours of the night.
Many indie folk artists cite Nick Drake as an influence. Some manage to channel his artistry. Fewer still reach Drake’s level of enchanted songwriter status. Logan Farmer is nearing the latter, a feat we wholeheartedly applaud.
Death Valley Girls – “The Universe” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: L.A. Witch, Pink Mountaintops, Spacemen 3
Through their first three albums and multiple EPs and singles, Death Valley Girls regularly shook the very fibers of our existence with their fiery, heavy, and sometimes chaotic brand of psychedelic rock. Beneath the sonic fireworks, however, were stories about the human condition and the decay of society. For their forthcoming new album, Under the Spell of Joy, Bonnie Bloomgarden (vocals/guitar), Larry Schemel (guitar), Nicole Smith (bass) and Rikki Styxx (drums) have opted to change their tone. Now, they haven’t become a pop or electronic band, but they have gotten a little bit more spiritual and cosmic. In the process, they’ve become a little less bleak, at least that’s what the LP’s lead single, “The Universe”, indicates.
The psychedelic hues remain, but the edginess and grit have been replaced by choral and orchestral notes. A yearning keyboard, spacey keys, and a bellowing saxophone sweep throughout the track, creating the feeling that we’re gliding through the Milky Way. Bloomgarden’s vocals, meanwhile, are joined by a choir, and together they encourage us to “dream bigger than the things that left you up”. For them, it is to dream about the possibility a better place exists somewhere in the universe. This track, however, is more than just pure escapism. It is also a statement that science and religion, and thus people of all walks of life, can coexist.
Ron Gallo – “Wunday (Crazy After Dark)” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Car Seat Headrest, Kyle Craft, Ty Segall
The dumpster fire that is 2020 does offer a few bright spots, namely, new tunes from indie punk-pop mastermind Ron Gallo. We have been fans of his sound since 2016 when he knocked our socks off at Newport Folk Festival. Now those socks are on full display (in all their ’80s-inspired neon glory) in the video for his latest single, “Wunday (Crazy After Dark).”
Like the rest of the world, Gallo has been looking for creative ways to minimize the quarantine stir-crazy madness. He gets it: we need to escape the confines of our home, even if our only outing is to the grocery. Still, most of us aren’t ready to reveal just how loose our marbles may have gotten since March.
In typical Ron Gallo fashion, the song and video both showcase his fantastically exuberant style. There is much to love about this tune, including relatable lyrics ( “All I wanna do is go to the store / and not see anyone I know”) and body-moving grooves.
He may “go crazy after dark,” but don’t we all nowadays? Crank this one for an instant dose of summer fun. It won’t cure your cabin fever, but it will bring some much-needed feel-good vibes.
Look for PEACEMEAL when it arrives on October 9.
Guru – “Roses” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Shame, Fontaines D.C., The Murder Capital
Two thousand twenty will go down as the year of post-punk, and it’s not a coincidence that great bands like Protomartyr and IDLES and fast-risers like Fontaines D.C., Deeper, and Ganser have released or will be releasing new albums during these 12 months. When the shit hits the fan, the post-punk outfits emerge to try to wipe away the stains or at least make us realise where and who the sources of all the crap are. Another emerging band that is contributing to our awakening is Guru, who in less than two years have already established themselves as one of Brighton’s most exciting bands. COVID temporarily halted their momentum, but these four young lads won’t be slowed down. Instead, like the great UK punk bands of the past, they use the pending doom as inspiration to launch a wicked tirade, such as “Roses”.
“Roses” is anything but a love song. It is a proclamation of resilience and perseverance in the face of the apocalypse. The fiery, grizzled intro gets the adrenaline flowing before the track gears down to allow front man Tommy Cherrill to share his condemnation of the world’s asinine pecking order. As his sermon describes the futile climb to the top of the mountain, his bandmates – Kieran Hunter (guitar), Ferg Belfrage (bass), and Todd Mitchell (drums) – unleash flashes of hell throughout. The guitar sizzles, the bass throbs, and the drums pummel occasionally, but they reach their full force in the intense outro. The song is timely because as millions struggle to make ends meet, the top 1% still are living the life of luxury.
“Roses” is taken from Guru’s forthcoming split single, which will be released July 22nd. Look for it at Permanent Creeps Records.
Tourists – “Lego Man” (Torquay, England)
RIYL: Interpol, Foreign Resort, My Bloody Valentine
We end the mini-playlist with one of our collective favorite discoveries from 2016, which means finishing things off with a flurry. Torquay-based quintet Tourists may not be the most prolific bands (they have regular jobs and families), but everything they release is done with tremendous attention to detail (just like the band who started today’s collection). They want to perfect their songs before sharing them with the world, which explains why their long-awaited debut album, Another State, still does not have a release date. Instead of fretting over timelines, Jamie Giles, Scott Morton, Matthew White, Lloyd Bastow, and Tom Wilkinson are slowly trickling out singles. They’ve shared two excellent tunes so far, including “Smokescreen”, but number three might be the crème de la crème.
Prepare to be taken on a post-punk, Gothic, dreamgaze adventure with “Lego Man”. This tune is beyond awesome. It commences innocently enough with a dark, chiming, yet stark approach that sounds like a mix of Interpol and The Cure. The soundscape is enrapturing yet spine-tingling, as it feels like we are aimlessly wandering through the deserted alleys of an unknown place. We hear a voice calling through the dense blackness, who says to us, “Tell me everything you know”, as if he wants to befriend us. Is he the Boogeyman or another creature of the night? We follow, though, as the song unexpectedly changes. The space around us illuminates, which at this point the song reaches a breathtaking, dazzling euphoria. The final two minutes are unforgettable. They are magical. No wonder we’re all fans of this great little band.
The single is out on Modern Sky, who will also release the band’s debut LP. Let’s hope that is soon.
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