The Matinee ’20 August 12 is like a multiplex, featuring an array of new releases that you have to listen to today. We hope the selection is just the trick to get you through this Hump Day and the rest of the week.

The Phoenix Foundation – “Hounds Of Hell” (feat. Nadia Reid) (Wellington, New Zealand)

RIYL: Jonathan Bree, Lawrence Arabia, Toro y Moi

What happens when you bring together two of New Zealand’s music icons? The answer is obvious – a memorable moment. That’s the only way to describe alt-pop / indie-rock collective The Phoenix Foundation‘s new song, “Hounds Of Hell”, which features the incomparable Nadia Reid.

Just before hitting play, grab your partner’s hand and listen to this post-apocalyptic love story unfold. The enchanting melody sounds like it could come from a futuristic, Scandinavian fairy tale, where nymphs, goblins, and dwarfs freely wander the paths of the Enchanting Forest. The music is delightful and soothing. Not all, though, is what it seems.

At the heart of this world resides two lost souls, who have finally found one another. But just as they realize their destiny, the beauty of their world is decaying. It is in flames, as the demons of the underworld – of the Hounds of Hell – emerge. Nothing, however, will separate these long-divided lovers, who will embrace one another until the end of days. Whether this song is pure fantasy or prophetic, we will eventually find out. In the meantime, this collaboration has given us a song that can only be called perfect harmony.

The Phoenix Foundation are Samuel Flynn Scott, Luke Buda, Conrad Wedde, Tom Callwood, Will Ricketts, and Chris O’Connor. Their seventh studio album, Friend Ship, on October 16. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.

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HALLAN – “Modern England” (Portsmouth, England)

RIYL: Shame, Fontaines D.C., Viagra Boys

We’ve said this on numerous occasions over the past two or three months – 2020 has been the year of post-punk. Each passing day increasingly seems like we’re living inside one of George Orwell’s or William Golding’s worlds, and this great genre is the ideal one to capture the surreal moments. We don’t need to list all the great bands that have released outstanding music this year, but we do need to highlight a “newish” outfit that is about to join the likes of their UK brethren. They are HALLAN.

The quartet from jolly old Portsmouth are buzzing in England, thanks to airplay on BBC Radio. Now it’s time for the world to catch up. To start off your and our fandom, Conor, Josh R, Josh T, and Adam share “Modern England”.

The track isn’t a dark, full-blown post-punk anthem. There aren’t raging nor overdriven guitars, but there is a great bass line, a stuttering drum roll, and the occasional guitar strike. Together, they forge a quiet intensity, where the music percolates and gets you bouncing in anticipation of an explosive finish. The track never gets there, but there is a purpose to the band’s brilliance. What they want to do is blow your mind with their message, which they achieve in spades. “Modern England” is not only a critique of the state of their beloved country’s recent failures, but also a call to action for the people to create change. If we don’t act, we’ve only failed as much as those who were elected to lead.

This outstanding single is out on Nice Swan Records.

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The Ophelias – “Grand Canyon” (Cincinnati, USA)

RIYL: Speedy Ortiz, Waxahatchee, Angel Olsen

The Ophelias‘ 2018 record Almost was striking in many ways. Be it the relatable and honest lyrics or the creative and inviting musicianship, The Ophelias positioned themselves as a band poised to break out. This week, the Cincinnati indie rock outfit announced a new EP, For Luck, accompanied by the single “Grand Canyon”.

“Grand Canyon” is a short track at a hair over 2 minutes, but it makes a lasting impact. Its drumbeat seems to stumble at the start, intentionally, creating a heavy atmosphere. Made moreso by violin, and its vivid imagery painted through its lyrics. It’s an absolutely captivating track, and a stunning way to announce that an EP is on its way.  Since 2018, the Ophelias have changed in noticeable ways. “Grand Canyon” just feels darker than what they’ve released. They’ve also intentionally shed their “girl-band” label, embracing the trans- and non-binary makeup of the band members. Nothing rocks harder than that.

The Ophelias are Spencer Peppet (she/her, vocals/guitar), Jo Shaffer (they/them, bass), Micaela Adams (he/him, drums), and Andrea Gutmann Fuentes (she/her, violin). For Luck arrives August 26th via Joyful Noise Recordings. Get it at the label’s store or on Bandcamp.

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LAUREL – “Scream Drive Faster” (Southampton/London, England)

RIYL: Kim Wilde, Future Islands, Electric Youth

Three years ago, we anointed Laurel Arnell-Cullen’s project, LAUREL, as an artist to watch due to her arresting voice and intimate, chamber-pop approach. She’s exploded since then, emerging as one of the UK’s most dynamic and popular indie artists following the release of her amazing debut LP, DOGVIOLET. The young woman from Southampton has yet to reach her full potential, which is limitless. As evidence that her artistry is still blossoming, she transforms herself not just stylistically but also in terms of time with her new single, “Scream Drive Faster”.

Arnell-Cullen was not even born when the likes of New Order, Kim Wilde, Spandau Ballet, and others popularized synth-pop. Yet some 35 to 40 years later, she’s making this throwback genre sound fresh, exciting, and exhilarating. “Scream Drive Faster” buzzes with the boundless, neon-infused energy of the ’80s. The fusion of bubbling synths, throbbing rhythms and beats, and a tickling, striking guitar are classic. What makes the song stand out from the music of our past, besides LAUREL’s spectacular vocals, is her poetic songwriting. Many of the songs of the ’80s were romance-driven, but LAUREL looks introspectively in search of her humanity. In search of finding who she really is.

“Moving fast to nowhere, nowhere
Clouds pass, days last forever
The sun fades, drive into the ocean
I’m right out here in a blue, blue sea”

Forget an artist to watch – LAUREL is an emerging superstar, and the fine folks of Communion Records, who have released the single, certainly believe this.

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Dent May – “Easier Said Than Done” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Air, Animal Collective, Phoenix

Hot, summer days call for two things: cool drinks and cooler tunes. While we can’t help with the former (although a nice lavender lemonade always hits the spot), we’ve got you covered with the latter. That’s because Dent May makes quintessential summer music. For the last several years, the Mississippi native has been delighting fans with sun-kissed melodies: “Across the Multiverse” and “Face Down in the Gutter of Your Love” remain two of our favorites.

The latest from his upcoming fifth album, Late Checkout, is another reminder of why we love Dent May. “Easier Said Than Done” shimmers brighter than a disco ball thanks to its vintage instrumentation. The magic of this tune is its timelessness: it would sound just as great on a ’70s-era roller skating rink or a modern dance floor. This should clue you into Dent May’s style, if this is your initial introduction. He makes more than “yacht rock” for discerning indie music fans; his specialty is making fun music for all ages. Do yourself a favor and groove on this tune for a while. Let the funky vibes and smooth vocals take you to a stress-free place. Trust us: every fiber of your being will thank you.

Late Checkout is set for an August 21st release via Carpark Records. You can pre-order it from the label or Bandcamp.

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CABBAGE – “Get Outta My Brain” (Mossley, Tameside, England)

RIYL: The Blinders, Hotel Lux, Johnny Kills

CABBAGE are unquestionably one of Europe’s great rock bands. Their live shows are the tales of legend (remember going to live shows?), where Lee Broadbent (vocals), Joe Martin (vocals/guitar), Eoghan Clifford (guitar), Paddy Neville (bass) and Asa Morley (drums) are usually in a pool of sweat after the second song. The quintet are more than just a frenetic live band; they are, like Nirvana, chroniclers of a young generation’s angst, as evidenced on “Get Outta My Brain”.

This latest track is everything that we love about CABBAGE. Its creepy, searing, punk-rock approach is manic yet addictive. Heads will bob, fists will pump, and dancing may also ensue. Beyond that, this track is essential listening first thing in the morning because it’ll wake up your mind and make you immediately contemplate what the hell is going on around you. It is that physical, mental, and emotional awakening that is vitally needed today. As Broadbent repeatedly hollers to us, “Get a brain!”, and stop acting like minions. They are calling on us to to open our eyes and think for ourselves because the world is falling apart. If only bands could be performing now, we’re sure CABBAGE would be on the streets leading the way with this rallying cry.

Their sophomore album, Amanita Pantherina, is out September 25th on the band’s own Brassica Records. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available here.

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Spunsugar – “Run” (Malmö, Sweden)

RIYL: The Jesus and Mary Chain, Chromatics, Ringo Deathstarr

Quick: when was the last time you heard a band so impressive you froze in place, awestruck at what you were hearing? Has it been a while? If you’re ready for that same experience, we advise you to crank the volume on this one. “Run” from Swedish trio Spunsugar is a magical exploration of dense shoegaze textures paired with post-punk vitality. If the swirling guitars don’t capture your attention, the powerful vocals certainly will. Every second of this song is full-throttle, making it an enjoyable three-plus minute journey.

We became instant fans of Spunsugar in June when they shared “Happier Hapless”. While that dizzying gem appealed to our synth-pop sensibilities, “Run” amps up the sonic distortion that satisfies our primal rock ‘n roll instincts. Both songs are an indication of Spunsugar’s status as a Band to Watch. We will certainly be keeping close watch on their career. Once live music returns, they will high on our list of bands to see. We suspect their music will be a rapturous experience when you can feel the reverb in your bones. Festival bookers worldwide, pay attention to this band. They need to grace your stages in 2021.

“Run” is out now on Adrian Recordings. We look forward to the arrival of their debut album later this year.

Spunsugar are Elin Ramstedt, Cordelia Moreau, and Felix Sjöström.

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Flowerbomb – “glass” (Washington, D.C., USA)

RIYL: Petal, Snail Mail, Tancred

Washington D.C.’s Flowerbomb are on the path to unleashing their first record, Pretty Dark. They’ve released three tracks so far, the complex rocker “sorry” and the immense “II”. This week, Flowerbomb shared the final single from the record,“glass” and it has us even more excited for what’s to come from the four-piece, consisting of Rachel Kline, Nat Brown, Dan Abh, and Charles Scheider.

The drums that kick off “glass” are enough to get anyone’s attention. Pair it with Kline’s inviting vocals, and some infectious guitar licks, you’ve got one hell of a song. It’s got an indie pop backbone but its guitars add an edge to it, and it finds itself winding, growing, and even spacing out a bit. The band says the song is not about a singular event, “but rather a feeling that exists both in strange dreams and while dissociating in traffic.” There’s a relatable anxiety there, the world is in such a strange state, and it’s easy to find yourself disconnected from reality, especially when Kline sings the lines “these days I don’t feel the same, the same, the same, the same, the same”. There are so many great layers to “glass”, and it’s a track that’s easy to come back to and find something new to appreciate.

“glass” will be on Flowerbomb’s debut record, Pretty Dark, which will be out later this year.

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Sylvan Esso – “Rooftop Dancing” (Durham, USA)

RIYL: Sylvan Esso

Even though 2020 has been marginal at best, one thing we have been able count on is great music to put us in a better mood, to help us forget about some of the worries and issues in this current world. For Sylvan Esso fans there’s new music and a new album coming. “Rooftop Dancing” brings memories for city dwellers and all that can be seen from a birds eye view. It’s the second track we’ve heard so far and is the follow up to another nostalgic single titled “Ferris Wheel”.

The duo of Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn bring together mesmerizing lyrics and hypnotic beats. “Rooftop Dancing” delivers the goods with laid back vibes and their unique mix of electronic elements. The video is a great view of people feeling good in NYC and gets us in the mood to groove. It’s the perfect track to chill out to and get ready for some weekend dancing of your own.

“Rooftop Dancing” is from Sylvan Esso’s upcoming album Free Love out on September 25 on Merge Records, which you can pre-order and pre-save here.

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