We’re playing catch-up on The Matinee ’20 August 19 edition, as several of the songs in the mini-playlist were shared two weeks ago or less. We have no excuses for neglecting these tunes, especially when many come from our favorite bands and artists. Have a listen to some excellent releases you may have also missed.
Widowspeak – “Even True Love” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Mazzy Star, Hope Sandoval, Jess Cornelius
There are dream-pop bands and then there are great dream-pop bands. Few compare with Widowspeak, a duo whose blissful approach has intoxicated fans for a decade. Singer-songwriter Molly Hamilton and guitarist Robert Earl Thomas consistently take listeners to dazzling, sonic places while captivating our minds with relatable stories. Sometimes the songs are politically and socially oriented (such as “Breadwinner” and “Money”) or personal and introspective (“Plum”). It is in the realm of the latter where we find them on their new single, “Even True Love”.
Settle in and let them take you on a late-summer evening’s trip through the desert. Thomas’ chiming guitar cuts through the gentle rattling of the rhythms, creating a fleeting and effortless soundscape that leaves you enchanted and rejuvenated. But like with all of Widowspeak’s songs, Hamilton’s lush voice is what takes you to another place. Through her soft, sensual vocals, she offers us a lesson that even true love must be reciprocated. It requires us to invest all our being or else risk losing it.
“What you had all along, and what you pick
In the deepest wells, in the shallow sick
I can see you shaking in the great unknown
Will you learn to live with what you chose?”
Cults – “No Risk” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: La Sera, Tennis, Blouse
We should have been paying more attention a few months ago when Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion’s project, Cults, announced their fourth album. Host will be released September 18th on Sinderlyn. They are just one of the great synth-pop bands of the 21st century, yet we somehow missed the news. Better late than never to promote what should be one of the year’s most empowering records. It should also be one of the year’s most surprising because on “No Risk” the duo venture in a slightly different direction from their trademark approach.
“No Risk” is an uplifting and dazzling indie-pop tune that forges elements of chamber-, orchestral-, and synth-pop. The strikes of the piano offer a refreshing, retro flavor until the synths and beats come crashing in. In the middle of this intoxicating, swirling melody is Follin’s stunning vocals telling us that we cannot move forward without taking a chance or two. She reminds us that nervousness and anxiety can be our courage which allow us to overcome even our greatest fears. She brilliantly sings:
“No risk, no believing or leading
I can’t ex— I can’t ex— I can’t exhale to breathing
In a crowded room filled with emptiness
I’m hungry but somehow I still feel refreshed”
This song could not have come at a better time. It is the motivation we need today.
Angel Olsen – “Waving, Smiling” (Asheville, NC, USA)
RIYL: Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten, Jessica Pratt
Few artists can capture an emotion as well as Angel Olsen. Even the simplest songs of her catalog feel densely packed with feeling. Her honest storytelling and her ability to captivate a listener – whether with just her voice and guitar or with frenetic energy of songs like “Shut Up Kiss Me” – have made her one of this generation’s greatest songwriters. Olsen is releasing a new record this month, Whole New Mess, and so far it seems to be a fairly subdued, and personal affair. It’s one influenced by a break-up, and her first record without a backing band in eight years.
This week she released “Waving, Smiling”, the second song from the upcoming record. Olsen describes the track as “the last scene, a slow motion realization of love not lost but at peace somewhere within myself”. It’s fitting she describes the song as a “scene”, as it has a cinematic quality to it, not in a big score kind of way, but in an emotionally invested performance that can leave a big impact on the listener. Many artists sing about heartbreak; what sets Olsen apart from them is showcased on “Waving, Smiling.” While bleak at times, it offers hope that the lessons and experiences of past loves were worth the time and energy.
New Pagans – “Yellow Room” (Belfast, Northern Ireland)
RIYL: Bully, No Doubt, False Advertising
We have said repeatedly that 2020 has been the year of post-punk. Closely behind it is ’90s-inspired alternative rock. This development should not be surprising since today’s surrealism mirrors the downward spiral that our communities faced then in the midst of global recession and unnecessary wars. Today, though, the conflicts are happening not just overseas but on our own home soil. Sometimes the battles are happening with those who are supposed to be our biggest cheerleaders. Northern Irish outfit New Pagans brilliantly capture this on their new single, “Yellow Room”.
With the fiery intensity of Bikini Kill and No Doubt in their heyday, the quartet deliver a hammering, pulsating rocker. The rhythms throb while the guitars wail at the song’s peaks. Frontwoman Lyndsey McDougall channels her inner Gwen Stefani and uncorks lyrics that sear through your skull and chest. With her bandmates raising the intensity around her, she hollers that she will not back down and succumb to the wishes of those who think she should focus on being a good mother. That she should sacrifice her life’s work just to be a good housewife. This is 2020 not 1950, and it’s time for the traditionalists (especially the misogynists) to wake up and realize the world has changed. With that we say: lead on, New Pagans, and the rest will follow.
Grab your copy of “Yellow Room” from Bandcamp.
The band is comprised of Claire Miskimmin, Cahir O’Doherty, Conor McAuley, and Lyndsey McDougall. We’ve found ourselves another great UK band to celebrate.
METZ – “Hail Taxi” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Titus Andronicus, No Age, Diarrhea Planet
If there is one band on this planet that we can consistently call upon to blow out our eardrums, METZ are at the top of the list. Alex Edkins (guitar/vocals), Chris Slorach (bass), and Hayden Menzies (drums) consistently deliver massively loud, roaring epics. Rarely do they hold anything back unless they’re releasing some unreleased material, like they did with Automat. The trio, though, are at their core hair-raisers, sweat-inducers, and wall-shakers, something they prove yet again on “Hail Taxi”.
Those who don’t like their music aggressive and loud might want to skip this one. Those who relish sonic fireworks with brutally honest lyrics should crank their speakers as loud as possible. “Hail Taxi” is a manic, explosive, and intense noise-rocker. As one would expect with a METZ tune, everything is delivered with the intensity of a five-alarm fire, including Edkins’ piercing vocals. Through the wall of noise, he describes a world changing before his eyes, where it is no longer recognizable. His friends are no longer recognizable, as they have become cogs within the bigger machine. The world has passed him by and he’s left behind.
deryk – “One Star” (Auckland via Hawkes Bay, New Zealand)
RIYL: Sade, Gordi, Connie Constance
Two months ago, Madeline Bradley mesmerized us with enthralling yet dark “Call You Out”. What was even more impressive was that the song was her very first as deryk. It was not just the trip-hop hypnotism of the track that caught our attention, but her incredible songwriting also made us do double, even triple takes. The 24 year old from New Zealand’s east coast returns with an equally stunning second single.
“One Star” is an intimate and gorgeous piece of dark-pop. The arrangements are stripped back and delicate, yet every piano note and percolating beat are breathtaking and enthralling. The song demonstrates that even a relatively simplistic approach can leave an everlasting, emotional impact. When coupled with smoky vocals and poignant lyrics, the song reaches even grander heights. Bradley sensually sings about overcoming loss and betrayal, and how it can devastate a person:
“Your plaster will never heal a bruise
If you never treat the wound
Like coffee, it’ll brew
I hope you’ve told her the whole truth
I can’t look her in the eye
Knowing what you do”
The video for the track beautifully accentuates the loneliness one feels in coping with the emotional pain. Like the song, it’s simple but incredibly power. It will not be long before we proclaim Bradley as New Zealand’s next great musical export. This may come on October 2nd, when her debut EP, WOMb, is released.
Community Swimming Pool – “Upside Down” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: Alvvays, DIIV, Washed Out
Brett McCann may not be a household name (yet), but that shouldn’t prevent you from falling fast in love with his irresistible sound. The debut single from his Community Swimming Pool project is a perfect example of summery dream-pop done right.
“Upside Down” greets your ears with the softness of an ocean breeze. Its sunset tones are calming and tranquil but far from soporific. There is no chance you’ll snooze through these lush textures that evoke DIIV and Wild Nothings.
While we have little biographical info to share about this Glaswegian newcomer, one thing is clear: he knows how to turn a first-time listener into an instant fan. “Upside Down” is a smile-inducing joy from start to finish. Its arrival during a tumultuous year – and its inspiration that stems from feeling helpless over matters of racial injustice – make us appreciate the song and its creator all the more. Get to know Community Swimming Pool now. This project won’t stay under the radar for long.
The Nude Party – “Cure Is You” (Boone, NC, USA)
RIYL: Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, The Dirty Guv’nahs
For most of life’s ills there is a cure: not always, but this maxim tends to be true more often than not. The trick is finding the remedy for whatever ails you – physically, emotionally, whatever. For the North Carolina band The Nude Party, their newest single addresses that topic in an amped-up, cathartic way. “Cure Is You” delivers powerhouse rock hooks so hot you’ll feel you’ve been transported to a summer night in the deep south.
That sticky, sweaty heat is heard in every chord these guys play. It stems from their origins as students at college in North Carolina. Since releasing their self-titled debut in 2018, The Nude Party have been living and working in upstate New York. Their upcoming sophomore LP, Midnight Manor, was recorded there and mixed by John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Dinosaur Jr.) This proves you can take the band out of the south, but there is no removing that element from their signature sound.
“Cure Is You” shares some of its DNA with classic southern college bands (Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Dirty Guv’nahs) known for their ferocious guitar licks and no-holds-barred rock anthems. It’s clear that The Nude Party are the new standard bearers for indie rock. Frontman Patton Magee’s swaggering delivery of lines like “Help me doctor, I can show you where it hurts” and “This little world of ours is sick” drives home the song’s appeal. You can easily picture a crowded barroom where locked-arm patrons are belting it out. This tune reminds us that finding your cure is worth celebrating at the top of your lungs.
The Nude Party are: Patton Magee (vocals, guitar), Shaun Couture (guitar, vocals), Alec Castillo (bass, vocals), Don Merrill (piano, vocals), Austin Brose (percussion, vocals), and Connor Mikita (drums).
Billy Raffoul – “What Makes a Man” (Leamington, ON, Canada)
RIYL: Sammy Brue, Nick Drake, Bob Dylan
Over the past two months we’ve heard new tunes from the talented Canadian singer-songwriter Billy Raffoul. He has recently released a track that proves he can cover the gamut of folk/rock/singer-songwriter. “What Makes A Man” also makes a statement as it was written during quarantine and recorded in his girlfriend’s bedroom. It’s all about fighting inequality.
It displays Raffoul’s transparent and emotional vocals that immediately grab your attention and don’t let go. With this current offering you can feel the yearning for change as his delivery is fairly direct. “What Makes A Man” is the perfect cry for the end to systemic racism in policing:
“Deputy, do you perceive
A line upon the sand?
His fears are clear, his blood is red
Ain’t that what makes a man?
She was held by a blade
And told she couldn’t run
By the time she broke way
The deed was all but done
Senator, do you concur
With what your good book says?
Will you repent or change your stance
Upon what makes a man?”
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