Like a fever dream, The Matinee ’20 August 26 edition astounds with eight songs that span multiple genres and eras. Some tunes will take you to the future, others are grounded in the present, while some will transport you back in time. All this sounds like the perfect Hump Day playlist if you ask us.
Sad13 – “Hysterical” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Locate S,1; Of Montreal; Diet Cig
Anyone who has watched Sadie Dupuis’ evolution will recognize her career parallels with Gwen Stefani’s. Nearly a decade ago she was fronting a bold and intelligent indie-rock band in Speedy Ortiz. In the past three years, however, Dupuis has channeled her energies into her solo project, Sad13, which delves more into the pop and pop-rock genres. Whereas the No Doubt frontwoman wandered into the mainstream circuit, Dupuis continues to swim in indie waters where she can push her creative bounds and release music that still astounds. And astound is exactly what she does with “Hysterical”.
The song is a glistening piece of alt-synthpop that meanders in unexpected directions. Just when you expect the track to explode into a buzzing anthem, Dupuis reels the track in and turns it into a wondrous, hypnotic, trippy experience.
This is just one side of Dupuis’ artistry. The other is her songwriting, which is a combination of biting social commentary and poetic allegory. She focuses on the recent trend of comedians attacking “counter” and “woke” culture as if they live a different reality from the rest. Although we should find ways to laugh in these times, there are boundaries that are too often crossed. She isn’t alone in this belief, as comedians Kate Banford (co-founder of Philly’s Good Good Comedy) and Jamie Loftus (Robot Chicken) wrote and directed the video that features Mitra Jouhari (Three Busy Debras) and Demi Adejuyigbe (The Good Place).
Fenne Lily – “Solipsism” (Bristol, England)
RIYL: TORRES, Lucy Dacus, Rosie Carney
This year alone a long-time favorite of ours, Fenne Lily, has taken us to “Berlin” and introduced us to her state of “Alapathy”, which are both featured her highly anticipated new album, BREACH. These tracks followed stand-alone numbers “Hypochondriac” and “To Be A Woman Pt. 2”. And if these two outstanding songs are not on the LP, then the record surely will be remarkable, and her latest tune only fuels expectations.
Get ready to be taken on the most intoxicating, merry-go-round experience you’ll have all week with “Solipsism”. Unlike “Alapathy” (a word which Lily concocted), solipsism is the theory that the self is all that can exist. In other words, it is the state of mind in which our own realities define what is real and actual (i.e., living in a bubble or within our own little box). This perspective is further heightened in these social media-driven times, where identifying what is real and not becomes even more difficult. Lily brilliantly captures the conflicting emotions in the song and video. Lo-fi indie rock meshes with touches of Americana, and the combination heightens our senses that parallel universes could possibly exist. Then add in her stunning, smoky vocals that provide a contrast to the fuzzy guitar line, and we realize anything is possible. Or maybe, we’re the ones on the outside looking in:
“All these people walk so slow
Do they know something I don’t?
Focus on a foreign feeling
Unashamed and unappealing”
Grace Gillespie – “Your God’s Within” (London, England)
RIYL: Aldous Harding, Steady Holiday, Amanda Palmer
After sharing the darkly tantalizing “HUH” and “Empty in the Capital”, Grace Gillespie has established herself as a modern-day fable writer. She’s closer to Aesop, the Brothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Andersen than Katy Perry or Beyoncé. In other words, her music is brilliantly imaginative and visually striking. In time she will receive the recognition she deserves and be applauded for her creativity. For now, those in the know will appreciate her songwriting talents and get lost in the fantasy majesty of songs like “Your God’s Within”.
Even more subdued than the previous two singles, “Your God’s Within” still is beautifully haunting. The quietness of the melody – featuring a piano, an acoustic guitar, and feathery drums – creates an atmosphere full of suspense, agony, and wonder. Gillespie’s soft vocals and gripping story, however, are the showstoppers. She narrates another person’s confrontations with an invisible enemy that eats away at her mind and soul. Anxiety overwhelms her to the point where she needs to remind herself to “breathe in, breathe out”. The cure, though, is not found in a pill or on a leather couch in a dimly lit room. Instead, maybe all she needs to do is “scream and let it out”.
This brilliant single is from Gillespie’s forthcoming EP, which is expected in November.
IRESS – “Nest” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Concrete Blonde, Chelsea Wolfe (acoustic), Emma Ruth Rundle
Be warned before you press play on the latest from Los Angeles-based rock outfit IRESS: “Nest” is melodic quicksand that will hold you fast and refuse to let go. On the first spin you will find yourself enchanted by their reverb-laden brand of post-rock. The effect is immediate: within seconds you are powerless to resist, quickly succumbing to their intoxicating allure. With that warning in mind, proceed and prepare to be wowed.
So what makes “Nest” a standout from other tracks that hover in that sweet spot of rock genre overlap? The secret lies in some kind of musical magic that we have not heard in some time. IRESS pair haunting vocals that evoke early ’90s legends Concrete Blonde and rising star Emma Ruth Rundle with expertly crafted layers of lush instrumentation. Frontwoman Michelle Malley’s delivery of each note is unhurried, allowing the listener to savor every passing moment. This atmospheric reverie begs you to listen with closed eyes. In return, IRESS reward you with a blissful fever dream you won’t want to wake up from.
The band’s new album, Flaw, arrives September 18th. Pre-order it on Bandcamp and get this song plus two others (“Shamed” and “Underneath”) immediately.
IRESS are: Michelle Malley (vocals, guitar), Alex Moreno (lead guitar), Michael Maldonado (bass), and Glenn Chu (drums).
PORTS – “Reading in the Dark” (somewhere in Northern Ireland)
RIYL: ‘Neon Bible’-era Arcade Fire, Belle and Sebastian, The Head and the Heart
In these dog days of a summer that we barely knew, every day seems like hump day. Every day seems like a puzzle (if not a cruel riddle) where we attempt to make sense of the chaos and discord. It seems society has collectively gone off the rails, and we have no idea how to get back on track. In the process, we try to articulate our emotions yet words fail us. Can any words capture our global predicament? We don’t have them, but Northern Ireland quartet PORTS do as revealed on their outstanding new single, “Reading in the Dark”.
Not coincidentally, Steven McCool (bass/vocals), Mark O’Doherty (drums), Ryan Griffiths (guitar), and Conor Mason (piano) wrote and recorded the track during their own isolation. Like most of us, they sat in their own homes trying to solve this meandering riddle. Instead of finding answers, they found inspiration. Instead of creating a song to mimic our experiences, they opted to go even more surreal. The orchestral indie art-rock approach is reminiscent of Arcade Fire during their Neon Bible era, as keys and an organ filter through a trembling guitar and stuttering rhythms. McCool’s voice even has the gentle flair of Win Butler with the lyrics to match. With Julie McLarnon on backing vocals, he calmly captures our reality with the following words:
“Reading in the dark
Doesn’t make much sense
We lost our way
Maybe in time our eyes will adjust”
The band’s sophomore album is expected later this year. Here’s hoping it captures these times because someone needs to chronicle them.
PONY – “WebMd” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Charly Bliss, Tired Lion, No Doubt
While we pride ourselves on highlighting the music of up-and-coming indie bands and artists, a few will fly under our own radar. We usually feature them after a few weeks or months, but seldom does it take years for us to shine the spotlight. In the case of the Sam Bielanski-led project, PONY, we are more than six years behind. Clearly we weren’t paying close enough attention to the band’s anthemic brand of grunge-pop, which is right out of the late ’90s when bands like No Doubt and The Donnas were causing teenagers and twentysomethings to temporarily lose their hearing as they danced their way into a sweaty mess. If you’re too young to remember such days, then let “WebMd” be your introduction to this great period in music.
From the thundering bass, the pummeling percussion, the hammering guitars, and Bielanski’s cool vocals and rip-roaring lyrics, the song is liberating. It will unleash the idealist child in you, where you may want to dance like there’s no tomorrow or pretend to be the next great rock star as you throw down windmills on your air guitar. Or maybe you’ll be motivated by Bielanski’s empowering words where she politely tells the jerks and betrayers that she doesn’t need anyone to make her feel good about herself. We all could take something from her words, particularly:
“I crack a smile
It’s the first that I have in a while
It’s just for me
Smiling for you is so exhausting
I got caught up putting you before me
I’m so embarrassed I got lost inside your mess”
This rambunctious single is out on Take This To Heart Records.
Tunng – “A Million Colors” (London, England)
RIYL: Sufjan Stevens, Xiu Xiu, Deerhoof, The Radio Dept.
One thing we admire most about Tunng is their nonconformist approach. Where most mainstream artists announce a new album with a radio-friendly lead single and perhaps a flashy video, the London-based collective espouse a grander scheme. Their upcoming album, Tunng Presents…DEAD CLUB, will be paired with a podcast that examines topics such as death and grief, philosophy, science, and more. The entire project speaks to the band’s longstanding tradition of making art in their own unique way. That style is showcased splendidly on the album’s first single, “A Million Colours.”
This four-minute journey is a kaleidoscopic symphony of sound. Its bright, whimsical passages are uplifting and instantly addictive. A jaunty tempo for the first half buoys your spirits, marked by warm, dreamy tones that Sufjan Stevens is known for. Those pop tones morph into something bolder, almost Arcade Fire-esque, around the 2:40 mark but soon dissolve back into the dreamy-hued palette.
If this is your introduction to Tunng, now is the perfect time to dive deep into their artistry that spans 15 years. Then mark your calendar for November 6th when DEAD CLUB the album arrives November 6 via Full Time Hobby. You can pre-order it from these links. The podcast launches on September 1st with a promo available now on Spotify.
Tunng are Mike Lindsay (vocals, guitar), Becky Jacobs (vocals, synths), Martin Smith (keys), Ashley Bates (guitar, banjo), and Phil Winter (percussion, keys/piano).
The Reds, Pinks and Purples – “Last Summer In A Rented Room” (San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Duster, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Red House Painters, early Slowdive
If you do an internet search on The Reds, Pinks and Purples band, you will find massive applause for Glenn Donaldson’s debut album, Anxiety Art. Needless to say, the record flew under the radar, including our own. Maybe the veteran musician’s anonymity changes on October 2nd, which is when his sophomore album, You Might Be Happy Someday, will be released on Tough Love Records. Or maybe his situation changes sooner than that, especially after people hear “Last Summer In A Rented Room”.
For people who grew up in the ’90s during the peak of the shoegaze and sadcore eras, this song will take you back to those memory-filled days. Donaldson’s soft, endearing vocals immediately grab you, and he wistfully sings about a time of innocence and limitless freedom. Now everyday is a struggle, and finding motivation to even get out of bed has become a chore. Although his lyrics capture a downtrodden reality, the music will lift your soul. The dreamy, shoegaze guitar and the stuttering rhythms are pure bliss. Together they cause momentary breathlessness that warms your soul. While the outside world may keep you down, this sublime melody may be the motivation you need to get on that bus, head to the sea, and breathe the fresh air again.
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