The Matinee ’20 July 29 playlist features superstars and future stars, with an emphasis on strong female singers. Whether you prefer lush ballads or fist-pumping anthems, these nine songs offer plenty of variety. We kick things off with one of indie’s most influential and magnetic voices.
Angel Olsen – “Whole New Mess” (Asheville, NC, USA)
RIYL: Angel Olsen
It’s no secret that we have been fans of Angel Olsen since the inception of The Revue. Her distinctive voice and the ethereal quality of most of her songs make her stand out as one of the last decade’s finest artists. Last year’s All Mirrors was a stunner of a record, a culmination and an evolution of all that Olsen has created over her career. Yesterday, Olsen shared a new song, “Whole New Mess”, the title track from her upcoming record, which is due out August 28th.
“Whole New Mess” is undeniably Angel Olsen. The nostalgic quality of the guitar, the haunting vocals greet the listener. The minimalist composition make the whole track sound surreal, like someone left a record playing long after the lights went out. It’s reminiscent of her earlier tracks, it has a definite Half Way Home vibe to it. It’s exciting to hear new stuff from Olsen, and it feels like “Whole New Mess” is just a small window into what this new album is going to be. Lyrically, the song seems to be about stalling on change, and about making a “new mess”. It’s accompanied by a music video that fits the surreal vibe, directed by Ashley Connor, who worked with Olsen on previous videos.
“I stretch my bones out on the floor
I think I’ll really do the change
Oh I’ll really do the change, really do the change
Gettin’ back on track, gettin’ back on track”
Fuzz – “Returning” (Los Angeles & San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Black Sabbath, Jack White, Black Mountain
Five years have passed since Fuzz released their second album, II, so it’s fitting that the first song in a decade from Ty Segall (drums/vocals), Charles Moothart (guitar/vocals), and Chad Ubovich (bass/vocals) is called “Returning.” The track could have been called “Triumphant”, “Face-Melting”, or “Just Downright Awesome” because it is all those things and then some.
The California trio have never been bashful about pummeling their instruments with the ferocity of the great rock bands of the ’70s. On “Returning”, however, they dial up the intensity to deliver a song destined to rattle every brain cell. The tidal wave of wall-shaking noise is like an alternate universe that has Jack White joining Black Sabbath on tour, where he and the late Tony Iommi exchange cataclysmic guitar solos. The track isn’t about the band’s long-awaited return. Instead, it is a call for people to wake up, reclaim our communities, and move forward. A track like this has the power to propel people forward. Hopefully it’s not too late.
Agent blå – “Atopos” (Gothenburg, Sweden)
RIYL: Makthaverskan, Westkust, Steve Buscemi’s Dreamy Eyes
Anyone who has followed the Swedish indie scene knows the country has a very distinct dream-pop sound, ushered in by The Cardigans and elevated by bands like Amason, Makthaverskan, and Westkust. The next generation have taken this sublime genre to even greater heights, with Agent blå at the forefront of those efforts. Their self-titled debut album was intelligent and anthemic. Their follow-up, Morning Thoughts, was dazzling and intricate shoegaze. They are simply one of the greatest indie bands around.
While they somehow still fly under the radar, Agent blå haven’t let their relative obscurity affect their art. Instead, they use is as motivation to continue to create ravishing music like “Atopos”. The track is classic Swedish dreamgaze made even more magical. The lingering, dissonant guitars and the heart-pounding rhythms forge a soundscape that is breathtaking and exhilarating. All you want to do is drown inside this dazzling spectacle. Better yet, bring an influential person with you because, as Täck lushfully notes, this song is about lifelong friendships, which are more important now than they have ever been.
The single is out on Kanine Records. Here’s hoping album number three is coming soon.
Agent blu are Lucas Gustavsson, Emelie Alatalo, Felix Skörvald, Josefine Täck, and Arvid Christensen.
The Wytches – “A Love You’ll Never Know” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Iceage, The Horrors, a moodier and bleaker ‘Pablo Honey’-era Radiohead
These last four years have been painfully long. We aren’t referring to the global chaos inflicted by that orange-skinned idiot in America. No, we’re talking about how long the world has waited for a new album from The Wytches. Our patience gets rewarded soon as the Brighton indie rockers will release their third album, Three Mile Ditch, in October. Hearing the lush tones of “A Love You’ll Never Know” is a clear indication of the greatness that awaits.
This moody number has an immediate, intoxicating effect. Yet again they deliver a soundscape dense with fuzzed-out, psychedelic-tinged riffs. Those tones, combined with the heady tempo, would send listeners into a stupor if created by anyone else. But in the talented hands of these lads, the tune smolders at the first verse before erupting at the chorus. Echoes of early Radiohead ripple throughout, imbuing the textures with a nostalgic thread. Nothing in this four-minute journey can steal your focus from the satisfaction of the ride when it’s complete. “A Love You’ll Never Know” is a wild fever dream you don’t want to wake up from. If only we could say that about the state of the world.
Madeline Kenney – “White Window Light” and “Picture of You” (Oakland, USA)
RIYL: Phoebe Bridgers, Flock of Dimes, Wye Oak
Madeline Kenney is set to release her third LP, Sucker’s Lunch, this Friday. Her first two records (Night Night at the First Landing and Perfect Shapes) were full of diverse and refreshing indie pop music. Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak helped out on Perfect Shapes; this time Andy Stack joins her to play on and produce Sucker’s Lunch. The team worked out quite well for Perfect Shapes, and from the first handful of tracks we’ve heard from Sucker’s Lunch, it seems they have created even more magic together. This week, Kenney released two outstanding tracks, “Picture of You” and “White Window Light.”
“White Window Light” is a great, laid-back track with guitar that cuts through from underneath her dreamy vocals. There’s some wonderful bass work and drumming, and the instrumentals are sublime. When the track kicks into gear with Kinney’s voice being joined in harmonies, it creates such an incredible feeling. There’s a little section in the middle that breaks up the song with a percussion change and build towards the end of the track.
“Picture of You” is a little more electronic, thanks to its synth layers. It’s somehow even dreamier: the wordless harmonies with guitar create a huge moment in the song. Mixed in with another catchy bass line and a song structure that keeps things interesting throughout, it has us excited to hear the rest of Sucker’s Lunch.
Jess Locke – “Fool” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Pip Blom, Courtney Barnett, Sheryl Crow
The quality and quantity of outstanding singer-songwriters coming out of Australia never ceases to amaze us. The country of approximately 26 million people probably churns out more great solo artists per capita than any other country. This statement is obviously not based on any study or deep statistical analysis. It’s just our observation, but anyone and their dog could name at least one Australian singer-songwriter. Another name to add to your growing list is Jess Locke.
Newly signed to the excellent Dot Dash Recordings (who introduced the world to Gena Rose Bruce, Methyl Ethel, and Teeth & Tongue), Locke exudes the confidence and grit of a young Courtney Love and Fiona Apple but with the rocking elegance of Sheryl Crow and, for more contemporary indie tastes, Pip Blom. As her reverb-drenched guitar rips, her smooth vocals recount the devastating moments in our history and the frightening expectations of the future. “I’m terrified of where we’re going”, she proclaims. Her statement could apply to each individual and the broader world, but one thing is clear: she fears that if we do not do something soon, we may not have a future to even dream about. And we, therefore, may not have the opportunity to watch this emerging artist grow.
The tune is up on Bandcamp, so pick it up.
Lisel – “Night and Day” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Beach House, Alvvays, Pavo Pavo
Lisel, also known as Eliza Bagg, has been involved with the creation of interesting, boundary-pushing music for a while. She’s a member of Pavo Pavo, one of Brooklyn’s finest indie-pop bands, as well as one of its best live acts. She released her first LP as Lisel last year, the avant-pop Angels on the Slope. Next month, Lisel will release a double-A side, including “Night and Day”, in collaboration with Woods’ Jarvis Taveniere.
“Night and Day” leaves an instant impression. Bagg describes it as “a song about impermanence and change, specifically emotional change.” Bagg’s voice is almost robotic, run through an effect. It creates a surreal, and at times, intense vibe. At the chorus she is joined by a backing harmonies which gives way to this inviting keyboard part. There are these wonderful little synth parts throughout. Slowly strummed guitars add to the aesthetic as the song ebbs and flows. It’s quite a creatively written and composed track. There’s plenty of familiar qualities here, but when it’s all put together, it feels fresh and new.
Haley Blais – “Rob the Original” (Vancouver, Canada)
RIYL: Juanita Stein, Gena Rose Bruce, Sarah Bethe Nelson
Haley Blais is about to release her first full-length record, Below The Salt, next month. It’s the first proper album from an artist who’s been releasing music through EPs, demo tapes, singles, and even bedroom recordings. Those releases show the immense potential for Blais as an artist. They also lay the groundwork for something much bigger. The Tennis-produced “Rob the Original” is the third track Blais has shared from Below the Salt, and it’s enough to get anyone’s attention.
Right from its infectious guitar at the start, Blais charms the listener with her warm vocals. With a bit of reverb, and accompanied by gorgeous harmonies, Blais sings about the struggle of mental illness. It’s a very relatable, human track, with plenty of amazing musical moments wrapped up in its four-minute package. The ending moments are just breathtaking as the track gradually slows to a crawl and leaves you pondering what tomorrow will bring.
Below The Salt arrives August 25th via Tiny Kingdom Music.
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