The Matinee ’20 August 21 is filled with motivational stories, which we all could use to close the week. Musically, the eight songs vary from R&B to alt-pop to indie rock to lush indie folk. Sit back, relax, and let these songs be your inspiration.
Arlo Parks – “Hurt” (London, England)
RIYL: Lauryn Hill, India.Arie, Connie Constance
Barely two years into her music career, the immensely gifted Arlo Parks has established herself as one of the great young singer-songwriters of her generation. Heck, she is one of THE great singer-songwriters of any generation. The 19-year-old London resident has delivered song after remarkable song, such as “Eugene”, “Black Dog”, “Cola”, and more. Within a decade, we think she will be mentioned as her generation’s Lauryn Hill – a transformative figure who captured people’s imaginations with style, grace, and impeccable songwriting. These three elements are fully displayed on “Hurt”.
It’s easy to be hypnotized by the song’s cool, ’90s-inspired, rhythm-and-blues grooves, particularly the mesmerizing bass line, the stuttering drums, and the lo hums of the saxophone. To truly appreciate Parks’ art, though, listen carefully to what she has to say. Whereas the vast majority of artists utilize a diarist approach to their songwriting (i.e., from the first-person perspective), Parks is an incomparable storyteller. She paints intelligent, creative, yet relatable stories – or in the case of “Hurt”, she focuses on “Charlie” and the different ways he experiences and handles pain. Parks dives deep into his mind, recounting the ways he wishes to end the hurt. However, instead of leaving him to suffer, she encourages him to endure and find the light within the darkness. She reminds us all that these feelings will end soon and the best is still to come.
The young woman is a star now; soon she’ll be a superstar.
THYLA – “Fade” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Black Honey, Sundara Karma, Alex Lahey
Earlier this year THYLA (who are one of the world’s most underrated bands) released Everything At Once, a wonderful reintroduction to their brilliant, anthemic world. With its energizing music and relatable and inspiring stories, that record displayed why we have been fans of Millie Duthie (vocals/guitar), Mitch Duce (guitar), Dan Hole (bass), and Danny Southwell (drums) since nearly the very beginning. We still hold hope that their much-deserved breakthrough is coming; in the meantime we’ll continue to bask in their uplifting new single, “Fade”.
The quartet may sound retro here, but the song’s energy and message are perfect for every coming-of-age film made in the late ’80s right to the present. Every element erupts (the searing guitar line is marvelous), giving the track an inspirational quality that few tunes today possess. Adding to this feeling are Duthie’s lyrics as she encourages us to hold onto the days where we felt invincible even in the face of hopelessness and tragedy. And in these days where we confront multiple visible and unseen enemies, THYLA’s message comes at just the right time.
So this weekend, do not lose hope. Instead, confront your enemies head-on with this great song being the anthem that leads you into battle. It is available to stream and purchase here.
Tropical Fuck Storm – “Legal Ghost” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Nick Cave, Mark Lanegan, Spoon
“Legal Ghost” should come with a warning about its intensity. It takes several listens to fully appreciate the depths of this new one from Australian psych-punk rockers Tropical Fuck Storm before you recover from the enormity of it.
As their name implies, the stormy elements loom large in their sound: it’s a six-minute swirling maelstrom of reverb-heavy guitars that leave you dizzy while the tropical, sweaty tones leave you breathless. And then there’s the undeniable sultry quality of the vocals that further accentuates the band’s appeal. Somehow frontman Gareth Liddiard channels both Nick Cave and Mark Lanegan with a hint of Britt Daniel (Spoon) for an improbable balance of darkness and light.
You may feel ripples up and down your spine as he utters the lines, “It doesn’t really matter who you sleep with now / You’re just a legal ghost.” The raw, edgy, whisky-seasoned timbre of his vocals will intoxicate you, so brace yourself accordingly. And maybe pour yourself a stiff drink while you hear these equally moving words:
“Don’t the walls seem harder now
Ain’t the corners just a little darker now
Now your faith has failed
Leaving a paper trail”
Be ready to have this tune on repeat for the rest of the year. “Legal Ghost” is the A-side to a 7″ single that’s due September 11 via Flightless Records (AU) and Joyful Noise Recordings (US). Pre-orders for this song are available from Bandcamp.
TFS are: Gareth Liddiard, Fiona Kitschin, Lauren Hammel, and Erica Dunn.
Carla J. Easton – “WEIRDO” (feat. Honeyblood) (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: HINDS, Dream Wife, late-career Sleigh Bells
Carla J. Easton may not be a household name – at least not yet – but the young Glaswegian is one of Scotland’s best young artists. You don’t need to take our word for it. You only need to ask the Scottish Music Industry Association, who shortlisted Easton’s 2018 album, Impossible Stuff, for Scottish Album of the Year (SAY Award). Another person to ask is Honeyblood‘s Stina Tweeddale, who provides the backing vocals to Easton’s new single, “WEIRDO”.
“WEIRDO” is an extravagant display of anthemic alt-pop that bursts right from the start and continues to grow until it unravels into an exhilarating bolt of adrenaline. When the song reaches its boiling point, the synths and keys explode in every direction while the drums rain down a torment of fist-pumping thunder. The assertive music provides the perfect canvas for Easton’s lyrics about assuming control of labels, such as “Weirdo”, and not allowing others to tear you down. In other words, Easton politely tells the people who try to control and mould her to fuck off. And to that, we say preach on, Ms. Easton!
Ian Sweet – “Dumb Driver” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Soccer Mommy, Lala Lala, Forth Wanderers
There are few voices as instantly recognizable as Ian Sweet‘s creative force, Jillian Medford. Whether she’s howling or being drowned out by super fuzzy guitars, it’s always used as an impactful weapon in her arsenal. The last track Ian Sweet released in May was the stellar “Sword”, described as an “Utimate Fighter manifesto.” This week Ian Sweet has even bigger news. They have been signed to Polyvinyl Records, there’s an upcoming short film, and yes, there’s also new music to dig into.
“Dumb Driver” is another captivating track from the Los Angeles-based band. From its opening moments of muddied piano playing and echoing vocals, it sets quite a scene. Once everything else kicks in, it becomes an absolute stunner. Medford’s voice is outstanding accented by layers of harmonies and reverb. A great bassline and infectious guitar evolves in many different, mindblowing ways throughout. Lyrically, Medford sings about the stupid things we can do while in love, even when they are harmful or destructive. It’s also about stopping before it gets too bad.
Lomelda – “Hannah Sun” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Florist, Long Beard, Alex G
Lomelda‘s Hannah Read continues to absolutely floor us with each single from her new record, Hannah. “Wonder” had us hypnotized and wrapped in its power, while “It’s Infinite” stunned us with its heartfelt and simple beauty. Add those to her amazing catalog, including her 2016 breakout Thx, and last year’s M for Empathy, Read’s ability to create captivating music is undeniable.
This week, Lomelda shared “Hannah Sun”, a song only intended to be heard by a handful of Read’s friends. One run-through on a livestream later, people demanded to hear it on a record. We are thankful she obliged. “Hannah” is a powerful track: it’s a wonderful example of how talented Read is at painting vivid imagery with her lyrics. It describes many different times and places. It builds up to a huge moment with one held note that’s just incredible, right before the song dissolves, and Read repeats the final lines, “Hannah, do no harm.”
I’m Kingfisher – “Children’s Atom Bomb” (Lund, Sweden)
RIYL: Damien Jurado, The Tallest Man on Earth
Storytelling is a key element in folk music, which is one reason why I’m Kingfisher remains one of our favorites. This project of Swedish singer/songwriter Thomas Jonsson is full of rich lyrics and warm vocals, both of which prompted us to call him one of our Favorite Hidden Gems of 2018. His debut album, Transit, wowed us with its tender beauty. The same can be said for the latest single from his forthcoming album, The Past Has Begun.
“Children’s Atom Bomb” is a testament to the power of an acoustic guitar and an honest voice. There is an intimacy to his delivery as Jonsson sings here, accompanied by Swedish indie star Amanda Werne (Slowgold) on backing vocals. The addition of a lonesome harmonica stirs feelings of melancholy. But the hopefulness of his message shines through, reminding listeners that love is at the heart of every journey:
“When your only hope gets outgrown
get ready for the faith
When you’re on your own
You’ve got to carry on
To find out all about the backbone of your deeds
And give them all the love you got”
Juanita Stein – “The Mavericks” (Brighton, England via Melbourne/Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: Marissa Nadler, PJ Harvey, Pauline Andres, Nick Cave
Less than a month ago, Juanita Stein introduced us to one of her new worlds with “Snapshot”. The song was like a mysterious dystopia that conjured images of Stephen King’s Dark Tower realm. Like those great books and the renowned author, the Howling Bells front-woman took us deep inside the mind of a lonely wanderer. If you thought that song was a one-off, you would be mistaken, as Stein once again turns narrator and tells another tale about our unknown heroine on “The Mavericks”.
With the lyrical artistry of Nick Cave and PJ Harvey combined with the haunting mysticism of Marissa Nadler, Stein unveils another gorgeous, mysterious piece of psychedelic folklore. The addition of the fiddle turns the arid wasteland into the Black Forest, where the heroine tries “not to fall under”. Whether it is anxiety, depression, or enduring “the mavericks, the mavens, the hellholes, and havens”, she is collapsing under the pressure. As she falters more, Stein turns from narrator to subconscious, telling her that “not everything is meant to be a straight line”. It’s a little bit of encouragement, revealing that there is a way out. We all just need to find it with Stein as our guide.
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