The Matinee ’20 August 3 is your Monday pick-me-up, featuring 8 eye-opening new songs to help get your week off on the right foot. Each song tackles a different genre and even era. This mini-playlist, as such, is not just one for entertainment, but it’s also a sonic music lesson.
Death Bells – “Heavenly Bodies” (Los Angeles, USA via Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: Interpol, Eagulls, Editors
2020 is just over 7 months old, but we’re ready to proclaim it as the year of post-punk. No other genre comes close to rivaling the greatness emanating from the brooding, harsh tones that Joy Division popularized 45 years ago. Albums from Protomartyr, Deeper, Cable Ties, Bambara, and more recently Fontaines D.C. and Ganser (more on the latter two later this week) are among the year’s very best, and IDLES’ new LP is a couple of months away. Everyone should also pay close attention to Death Bells, whose sophomore album, New Signs of Life, will be drop on September 25 via Dais Records.
Whereas the aforementioned bands’ music ached with a menacing touch, Aussie ex-pats Will Canning and Remy Veselis channel the NYC scene and deliver a euphoric anthem with “Heavenly Bodies”. The song is reminiscent of Interpol in their heyday, where very pulsating note from the outstanding bass and chiming guitar riff causes you to punch the air with little concern for those nearby. Canning’s voice, too, shares a remarkable resemblance to Paul Banks, and he forces us to confront our inevitability. He chants, “We all vanish anyway”, so he encourages us to make the most out of the precious time. He encourages us to do onto others as you would like others to do unto you, which is an ideal that holds more true than any point in recent history.
Cherry Pickles – “Out Of This World” (Birmingham, England)
RIYL: The Shangri-Las, L.A. Witch, The Regrettes
We’re not sure if joining PNKSLM Recordings’ roster requires one to have an awesome band name, but the little Swedish-UK label sure has a knack for finding groups with ingenious monikers. Miss World, Swampmeat Family Band, Arre! Arre!, and Chemtrails are just some of nearly three dozen bands associated with the company. The latest to join this growing clan are Priscila B (guitar/vocals/songwriting) and Mimi B (drums), who are better known as Cherry Pickles.
People most often associated guitar-drum duos with garage rock thanks to The White Stripes and The Black Keys, but the Birmingham-based pair channel a much different era. Like their name suggests, their music is sweet and sour, specifically melding the sugary notes of ’50s and ’60s doo-wop with the edge of ’90s alternative. The combination yields a clever and entertaining single in “Out Of This World”.
At a shade over 2 minutes, the tune is head-waddling, hip-shaking catchy. You might imagine yourself decked out in a polka-dot dress or your hair slicked back like James Dean as the ladies utter “yeah yeahs” while the classic sounds of The Shangri-Las echo in the background. The song, however, isn’t all retro, as B&B smartly incorporate the downward-glancing shoegaze of the ’90s. So not only does this tune take us away to the days of our grandparents’ youth, but it also recalls an idealistic era when music took us “to a place where we can be free”.
The duo’s sophomore album, The Juice That’s Worth The Squeeze, will be officially sampled on October 23. PNKSLM Recordings will have the honor of distributing the record. Pre-orders are available on Bandcamp.
Glass Animals – “It’s All So Incredibly Loud” (Oxford, England)
RIYL: The Antlers, Mt. Wolf, Radiohead
Yes, we know that Dave Bayley, Drew MacFarlane, Edmund Irwin-Singer, and Joe Seaward are considered superstars in some parts of the world, but Glass Animals are still associated with an indie label and creating music that goes beyond the usual and the predictable. They’re also difficult to categorize since they can in one moment create a catchy psych-pop tune and then immediately turn to electrifying electronica. The quartet, though, are at their best when they get heavy, dark, and dramatic, which they do on their outstanding new single, “It’s All So Incredibly Loud”.
The track is a mix of King of Limbs-era Radiohead, the extravagant art-rock of The Antlers, and the sweeping trip-hop of Mt. Wolf. It’s serene intro is intoxicating, luring one into a false sense of relaxation and calmness. Through the percolating beats and low hums of the synths, Bayley, through his quietly urgent vocals, shares the thoughts ruminating in his decaying mind. As the instrumentation intensifies, he exclaims, “Ooh, I’m breaking down / Whispers are deafening now / Ooh, don’t make a sound / Heartbreak was never so loud”. The song is not only incredibly stunning, but it’s an immensely powerful tune about the loneliness that lingers in the affected mind.
Naked Giants – “Turns Blue” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: The Cure, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Dinosaur Jr.
The one bright spot of 2020 (this raging dumpster inferno of a year hasn’t had many!) is the life-affirming new music coming out. Indie bands have been filling the gaping voids in our hearts where hope once lived. One band in particular, Seattle’s Naked Giants, have a genre-spanning new tune sure to buoy even the most sunken of spirits.
“Turns Blue” starts as a lush slice of shoegaze. While the opening line is a hat-tip to The Cure (“Whenever I’m alone with you”), the band don’t linger long in their goth-era shadows. They crank up the grunge vibes on the chorus with a deafening guitar-driven wail that would make J. Mascis proud. This is five minutes of sonic energy that acts as jumper cables from their amps straight to your soul. In other words, it’s exactly what we all need right now.
Look for this tune on the band’s forthcoming album, The Shadow. It was produced by Chris Funk (The Decemberists) and arrives August 21st via New West Records. Pre-orders are available from these links.
Naked Giants are: Gianni Aiello (guitar, bass, vocals, keys, percussion), Grant Mullen (guitar, vocals, keys, percussion), and Henry LaVallee (drums, guitar, vocals, keys).
Dolly Valentine – “How To Be Good”/”The Time Will Come” (Cincinnati, OH, US)
RIYL: First Aid Kit, Daughter of Swords, Hiss Golden Messenger
As she gears up for her upcoming LP, Dolly Valentine has been releasing two songs at a time. It’s been a great treat, and each pairing has been excellent. Last week that continued with the singles, “How To Be Good” and “The Time Will Come”. We’ve already heard a good amount of the songs on the LP, so it’s interesting to hear it take shape two songs at a time.
Valentine paints vivid imagery on the title track. “How To Be Good” is a beautifully composed track with a great guitar jangle, which Valentine’s voice soars over. She tries to grasp the ability to be good, to channel love into something productive, and to not be taken advantage of for those qualities. It’s also about the voyage, that it’s important to enjoy the journey. On “The Time Will Come”, Valentine gets folkier than before. The guitar work here is quite pretty as well. It also deals with enjoying the journey, even if it seems aimless and fruitless. It’s important to remember that, especially now when there is so much uncertainty in our world, that the time will indeed come.
Dolly Valentine’s upcoming album How To Be Good, will be released August 21st. You can get these two singles now from Bandcamp.
Young Mister – “Familiar Colors” (North Carolina, USA)
RIYL: The Jayhawks, Pedro the Lion, Pete Yorn
Raise your hand if you have reconnected with an old friend during your pandemic isolation: that’s most of us, right? The extra quiet time has given us the chance to catch up with faces from our past. Musicians are also having those nostalgia-fueled moments. The latest from North Carolina singer/songwriter Steven Fiore – aka Young Mister – reminds us that the past tugs on all of our hearts.
The sun-kissed tones of “Familiar Colors” showcase Fiore’s musical skills. Its driving tempo and rich, indie folk-rock guitar tones call to mind both The Jayhawks and David Bazan. An added bonus is the lyrical honesty of a songwriter who willingly embraces aging and social isolation. (“Sometimes I can’t move my body in the morning” is more relatable than we’d care to admit.) Let the sweet waves of nostalgia wash over you as he sings:
“I feel like Cameron Frye, just paralyzed in bed
Nostalgia hits me with the weight and without warning
So I scroll through the pictures and captures
Man, it’s almost like I’m there
You see them every now and then
Make you remember how it used to be
And wonder what could have been”
There is much to love about this song, so get to know it and Young Mister now. “Familiar Colors” is available for purchase from Bandcamp via Refresh Records. It is also streaming on Apple Music and Spotify.
Obscura Hail – “Doomer” (Melbourne / Wollongong, Australia)
RIYL: Bright Eyes, Of Montreal, The New Pornographers
Across the planet the Black Lives Matters movement is prompting people of all ethnicities, races, socioeconomic classes, and genders to take action. Musicians are using their platforms to speak about the injustices of the past and present, thereby ensuring the BLM movement is not just an isolated flashpoint in history but one that leads to everlasting change.
For sustainable action to occur, people must also reflect on their own personal biases and privileges. It’s not merely enough to remember the lives of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and countless others. It’s equally critical to understand our own fallacies, and Aussie trio Obscura Hail have delivered a song that will help us confront ourselves.
“Doomer” is an uproarious track that recalls the burgeoning art-rock of Bright Eyes and Of Montreal in their early days. Its reverb-drenched approach brilliantly represents the confusion and conflict that exists within people trying to understand what is going on and their place in it. Through the fuzz-filled noise, the trio offer some wise counsel, as they tell us to not “feel guilty for just talking about how bad it is” and that “the world needs a ship to go down, down, down” before it can move forward. We may be one person, but as a whole we can enact change.
Obscura Hail are Sean Conran (songwriter/producer/guitar/vocals), Tamara Issa (bass/vocals), and Kaelan Emond (drums/percussion). Their new double EP, Siren/Zero, will be released September 18 via Remote Control Records/ Dot Dash. Pre-save / pre-order it here or go directly to Bandcamp.
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