From roaring rockers to spellbinding ballads, The Matinee ’20 August 17th edition is the escapism you need at the beginning of the week. The mini-playlist is littered with long-time favorites plus two “new-ish” artists on the verge of stardom.
IDLES – “Model Village” (Bristol, England)
RIYL: IDLES, Titus Andronicus, METZ
IDLES have never held back when it comes to their critiques of the political system, our society, or even the cities and towns where they grew up. Their unflinching honesty and to-the-point analysis make them one of not just the best bands on the planet but among its most important. In a time where lies abound, the world needs more IDLES and songs like “Model Village”.
This tune does not revolve around a fairy-tale nor a nursery rhyme. Instead, this propulsive, adrenaline-inducing rocker concerns the false sense of idealism that exists in the middle-class suburbs of the world. In many ways, these family-oriented neighborhoods are fantasies where, as frontman Joe Talbot says with a searing refrain, people believe racism does not exist, the crime rate is low, and everyone has their white picket fence. Dig deeper into this manicured world, and one finds its patrons do indulge in illegal behavior and live in fear, leading to hate festering below the service. No way will they allow someone who does not look like themselves to live next door because that would disrupt their way of life. But then again, those who want to move here are just puppets themselves, feeding the pockets of the Machiavellian business people who have sold them on this “idealism”.
The highly-anticipated new IDLES album, Ultra Mono, releases September 25th and features special guests such as Jenny Beth (Savages), Warren Ellis (Nick Cave), David Yow (The Jesus Lizard), and Jamie Cullum. Partisan Records will release it. Pre-orders are available here and Bandcamp.
IDLES are: Joe Talbot (vocals), Mark Bowen (guitar, backing vocals), Slow Lee Kiernan (guitar), Dev Devonshire (bass, backing vocals), and Jon Beavis (drums).
Tired Lion – “Lie To Me” (Perth, Australia)
RIYL: Bully, Camp Cope, Paramore
For a good part of the 2010s, Tired Lion have been blowing the doors off with their ’90s-style alt-rock, and they have been not been shy in sharing their love for bands like Garbage, No Doubt, and Paramore. It’s not just the raging anthems the trio to fire out, but frontwoman Sophie Hopes’ songwriting also echoes Shirley Manson, Gwen Stefani, and Hayley Williams. Her every word is intense and aims to tear down the patriarchal rules that govern our lives. The frequent target of her critique is the world as a whole, but on “Lie To Me” it’s the misogynists who walk this Earth and think they can get away with anything and everything.
With a ferocity of Garbage in their prime, Tired Lion deliver a roaring rocker. At just over two minutes, there is no excuse for people to restrain themselves. Instead, listeners should be unfurling massive fist pumps, unleashing whiplash-inducing head bangs, and drenched in sweat when it’s all finished. While physically investing yourself in the track, listen to what Hopes has to say. She is telling the world what dirty little shits some men are:
“Now you’re taking a spit
Between the glamour and the glip
You’re a crier, an awkward messy liar
Tell the girls how to speak
And how you kiss them on their feet
You’re a poser, another fucking lala”
ameliarose – “Vessel” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Arlo Parks, Nilüfer Yanya, Holly Humberstone
Many of today’s mainstream superstars could take songwriting lessons from the plethora of rising, young talents. These emerging artists may not be household names, but they should be because they’re crafting music that is not only dazzling to the eardrums but also provocative and power in their lyricism. They are demonstrating that it is possible to write meaningful songs within a familiar, melodic framework. A name to know and remember is ameliarose, who at just 18 years old has written a song that can only be described as extraordinary.
The song is a stunning mélange of genres, blending indie pop, sadcore indie, R&B, and even a bit of jazz. While the melody dazzles and her voice is gorgeous, it is, as we hinted above, her songwriting that will blow you away. The resident of New York City reveals herself to the world, sharing the loneliness, uncertainty, and depression that consume her every day. The song is filled with great lines, including:
“I’m just a host for a ghost
Who’s lost its way
I do the most for those who chose
Not to ask ever, anyway”
Then there are these words, where she projects her well-being to toys:
I’ve got dolls in my attic / Like skeletons
But pathetically obsessively vain
Their stares are arctic cold and
Their hearts are numb with pain”
Pillow Queens – “Holy Show” (Dublin, Ireland)
RIYL: Hop Along, Middle Kids, The Beths
Pillow Queens have already made a name for themselves in their relatively short time releasing music together. Two EPs and a handful of singles were enough to solidify them as one of the most exciting bands in the Dublin scene. The quartet are gearing up to release their debut LP, In Waiting, on September 25th, and this past week they shared the dynamic “Holy Show”, which followed the heavy, guitar-led “Handsome Wife”.
The initial moments of “Holy Show” are immensely inviting: a hum from an atmospheric keyboard, a gentle rumble of bass, and amazing vocals. As the track builds, a crisp, reverbed guitar adds a dreamy layer over everything. The choruses are rich with harmonies. By the end, it becomes a roar until a guitar cuts through and it reaches new heights. Lyrically, the song tackles past regrets over things said, making it relatable on every level:
“If you remember a thing about it
Tell me that it’s not bad
Why’d I even say that?
If you remember a thing that I said
Spare me all the details”
Pillow Queens are: Sarah Corcoran, Rachel Lyons, Cathy McGuinness, and Pamela Connolly.
Slow Pulp – “Falling Apart” (Chicago via Madison, WI, USA)
RIYL: Phoebe Bridgers, Snail Mail, Ratboys
Slow Pulp‘s early EPs were enough to grab our attention. “High” from Big Day made it onto our 2019 playlist, and we’ve been wondering when we’d get a full-length from the band. It seemed inevitable, but life and events completely changed the course of the writing and release of their debut LP. The wait is almost over, as they will release their first proper LP, Moveys, in October.
“Falling Apart” is an absolute stunner with its acoustic guitar, drums, and a layer of violin. The vocals have a lush, layered quality that is simply sublime. It’s a song about dealing with a constant stream of bad reality checks, from lead singer Emily Massey being diagnosed with Lyme Disease, to the world being disrupted by COVID, to a serious car accident involving her parents. Especially in these times (when we’re all supposed to be socially distant) it makes it seem so much worse, as there’s no one there to comfort us and tell us that things will turn out okay. “Falling Apart” is about putting on a façade to power through it, and the pitfalls that come with that. It’s incredibly relevant to the world today. This song highlights the importance of self care, and realizing when you need time, even when it seems impossible.
The Japanese House – “Dionne” feat. Justin Vernon (Buckinghamshire, England)
RIYL: Sia, Bon Iver, Gordi
Some say it takes a musician five years to achieve “overnight success” status. We suspect that term will soon be used to describe Amber Bain of The Japanese House, however inaccurate it may be. Her newest single features Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), so naturally newcomers will think she’s an aspiring songwriter trying to get her start in the indie scene. Little do they know Bain has been steadily growing her adoring fanbase since her 2015 debut EP, Pools to Bathe In.
While the overnight label doesn’t fit, success certainly does. “Dionne” may be the deserving song that helps her break into the mainstream. There is no denying the radio-friendly hooks that are every bit as sleek as Sia. The musical chemistry between Bain and Vernon makes for a seamless fusion of their voices even smoother than She + Him. So to everyone who is only now discovering this young English artist, welcome aboard. Your new music crush has a back catalog of mesmerizing gems waiting to be discovered, provided you can stop playing this one long enough to find out.
Darlingside – “A Light On in the Dark” (Boston, USA)
RIYL: Crosby Stills & Nash, The Decemberists, Tall Heights, The Ballroom Thieves
We sometimes feel like a broken record praising the talents of Darlingside. This string-based American quartet makes the kind of music that should be prescribed for treating anxiety and depression. Their cashmere harmonies have healing properties, and each new release seems richer and more soothing than the last. This, of course, makes it easy to extol their virtues. Take their latest offering for example: “A Light On in the Dark” eclipses the breathtaking beauty of last month’s single (“Ocean Bed”).
Again the aquatic-inspired motif lends itself to interpersonal metaphors. Darlingside fans know to expect lyrical richness, and this song offers gems aplenty:
“Are you swimming with with fish pond fish
Looking for oceans in the saltlessness?
Are you spinning in and out of true
Pink Moon playing in the dead of noon?
Come into bloom
Blue asters in the afternoon
You’re a light, a light on in the dark”
Perhaps this speculation is premature, but the band’s forthcoming album, Fish Pond Fish, will rank high among the few bright moments of 2020. It arrives October 9th from Thirty Tigers with pre-orders here.
Darlingside are: Don Mitchell (banjo, guitar, vocals), Auyon Mukharji (mandonlin, violin, vocals), Harris Paseltiner (guitar, cello, vocals), and David Senft (bass, kick drum, vocals).
China Bears – “Statue Still” (London, England)
RIYL: Snow Patrol, Frightened Rabbit, Dry The River
Despite our best intentions to be functioning, ambulatory adults, sometimes life stops us in our tracks. That feeling of being stuck in a moment – being “Statue Still” as emerging indie stars China Bears describe – can strike at any time, for a myriad of reasons. The sweeping tones of their new tune will have you pondering those exact moments.
From the start, “Statue Still” grabs your focus and never lets go. What begins as indie rock evoking Snow Patrol melds into rich, vibrant tones that echo Frightened Rabbit and Dry The River. It seems China Bears have quickly mastered the art of borrowing just enough from their influences to create a signature style that’s equally captivating. Twin brothers Ivan (guitar, vocals) and Frazer (guitar) provide the foundation for this heart-swelling anthem. The warm vocals pair nicely with the scorching instrumentation and percussion from James (bass) and Dean (drums).
If your pulse hasn’t quickened by the bridge, seek medical attention immediately. These guys have delivered the audio equivalent of defibrillator paddles for your frozen heart. Whatever has you feeling stuck in place – a heartbreak, anxiety, doubt – “Statue Still” provides more than enough impetus to help you advance with confidence. This tune should be played loudly and often for best results. We cannot wait to hear more from this band.
Wyldest – “Seastroke” (London, England)
RIYL: Loma, Cross Record, Dana Falconberry
Over the years we’ve grown accustomed to hearing London outfit Wydlest create gorgeous, cinematic soundscapes. From trip-hop to dream-pop to shoegaze, Zoe Mead (vocals/bass/guitar), Mariin Kallikorm (guitar/bass), and Jack Gooderham (drums) know how to leave listeners in complete awe. It comes as no surprise then that the trio would be asked to write a song for a upcoming short film, Birdwatcher. Unlike their previous songs, however, the band strip things back and turn to gentler, dreamier folktronica textures on “Seastroke”.
Like drifting on a windless lake at dawn, the song is dazzling. It is breathtaking. The slight tickles of the percussion and guitar, the soft presses of the ivories, and the delicate, floating notes of flute and violin create a peaceful yet mysterious atmosphere. It is like we have entered a world that only exists in the fairy tales of our childhood. When Mead’s beautiful vocals emerge, we indeed feel we have fallen into a new realm where dreams can come true. Or at the very least, a place where we can come to terms with the pains of the past and move on, which is what Mead indicates in her words. In these days where we feel like we are drowning each day, Wyldest offer us a lifeline.
The single is out on Hand in Hive.
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