A full house is on deck for The Matinee ’20 September 2nd edition. The mini-playlist includes a band that is figuratively returning from the grave and a young newcomer who will blow your mind alongside established artists and long-time favorites. We begin, though, with a resurrection.
Arab Strap – “The Turning of Our Bones” (Falkirk, Scotland)
RIYL: Mogwai, The Twilight Sad, Mark Lanegan
Here is a sentence we did not expect to write in 2020: Arab Strap are back with new music. Yes, like the rest of the world, we were pleasantly shocked to hear the first new tune from Aidan Moffett and Malcolm Middleton in 15 years.
“The Turning of Our Bones” is a smoldering graveyard ode to death and sex, inspired by ancient cultures who dance with the corpses of their loved ones. Cheery, no? The opening lyrics (“Let me loosen all your knots / Let our bodies be unwoken”) set the tone, though they only tiptoe around the macabre. The next verse casts full moon shadows on the song’s deeper lines of bloated bodies and poison pustules. That fodder for Halloween nightmares aside, the song’s true message of embracing the present is unearthed at the end:
“Let’s not be bashful
Don’t be oblique
The flesh is willing but the spirit is weak
The second life is calling
Feel its pull, feel its tow
So let’s live now before we’re back below”
Deep Sea Diver – “Impossible Weight” feat. Sharon Van Etten (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Rilo Kiley, Land of Talk, Lucy Dacus
Deep Sea Diver have been creating infectious indie pop for over a decade. The songwriting project of Jessica Dobson, Deep Sea Diver has released two amazing records as well as a pair of EPs. Their last proper release was in 2016, and when the world stopped due to the pandemic, they wrapped up a new record. So far they’ve shared a pair of tracks from the record, “Stop Pretending” and “Lights Out”. This week, they share the title track from the record, “Impossible Weight”, a track that features Sharon Van Etten.
“Impossible Weight” is impactful from the start. Her undeniable voice is joined by tom-heavy drums and a guitar part that adds a fiery, dynamic edge to the whole thing. For one verse, Sharon Van Etten tames the track, whittling it down to just her voice, drums, and bass before its powerful ending. Their voices intertwine with Dobson repeating, “It’s an impossible weight” over a guitar solo. The song and the album talk about the impossible weight that Dobson has experienced emotionally as a volunteer for a homeless shelter.
It’s interesting to think about the career of Dobson, from a touring musician and guest on records, working with bands like The Shins, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Beck, to now having one of the last decade’s most prolific songwriters guest on your own record. It’s a testament to how great of a songwriter Dobson is, and how talented she is at making dynamic indie pop music.
Kevin Morby – “Campfire” (Kansas City, USA)
RIYL: Bob Dylan, Kurt Vile, Michael Nau
Kevin Morby is a perennial favorite of ours for many reasons. Besides his warm, inviting sound, his music has a raw honesty that is as refreshing as it is entertaining. You hear all of those elements on “Campfire”, the first single from his upcoming sixth LP, Sundowner.
“There’s a campfire inside my soul,” he sings at the start of this mellow track. Written and recorded back at his home in Kansas City, Morby wanted to capture the “Middle American twilight.” What he also captured is a glimpse of isolation amid uncertainty. He succeeds here with his usual laid-back charm, with help from partner Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee) on backing vocals. Together they evoke the cozy magic of evenings spent in quiet reflection around a fire. So sit back and bask in the melancholy glow of “Campfire.” It will do your soul good to absorb its warm comfort and know that you are not alone through all of this.
Agent blå – “Frustrated” (Gothenburg, Sweden)
RIYL: Makthaverskan, Chapterhouse, Garbage
A month ago, Sweden’s self-described death-pop outfit Agent blå announced their returned with “Atopos”. The track masterfully fused ’90s shoegaze and contemporary indie-pop into one ravishing affair. Their ability to consistently forge different eras and genres has made them a favorite. As Lucas Gustavsson, Emelie Alatalo, Felix Skörvald, Tobias Bauer, and Arvid Christensen get a little older, their music gets bolder and more gripping, as is the case with “Frustrated”.
Whereas “Atopos” caused chests to swell, “Frustrated” will incite you to seek shelter and hide. The ’90s shoegaze influence remains, accentuated by heavy doses of gothic post-punk, grunge, and gripping dark-pop. Through the glistening bleakness, Emelie Alatalo’s disdainful voice emerges. She is not the angel who will lead us to the light, but rather an archangel seeking revenge on the person who stole her innocence. She is vengeance:
“When you came on top of me
You made it look so simple
Like it was the most natural thing in the world
Like you were supposed to climb on to me
It might be a revolting thing in the world
But you made it look so simple
Like there wasn’t anything I would rather do
Than to go down on you”
The new EP, Atopos, arrives October 2nd on Kanine Records. Get to know this underrated band on the verge of greatness.
Kyd the Band – “Corridors” (Sacramento, USA)
RIYL: Dreamers, Post Malone, Vinyl Theatre
“Corridors” is the latest track from Kyd the Band which is the solo act of Devin Guisande. The Northern California native has just announced an upcoming EP, Season 3: The Realization.
“Corridors” is transparent and hypnotic at the same time. The beats mesh with those perfect indie pop melodies. The lyrical content takes a serious tone and relives some past relationships and experiences that are just a bit too hard to overcome.
Kyd the Band has the talent and the “it factor” to go far with just a bit more exposure and recognition. “Corridors” reminds you a bit of Post Malone’s “Circles” with the same honesty and relatable content to reach a multitude of fans. It also has the perfect tone and melody to jam out this weekend.
Extra Special – “True Special” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Blondfire, Belle Mare, Grim Streaker
If you’ve been following our site since its inception in 2013, you will recognize Amelia Bushell’s name. We adored her as the frontwoman of Belle Mare, but others may know her for leading Grim Streaker. The Brooklyn-based artist is now heading out on her own, a move we expected long ago. Let’s be clear on one thing: she has not departed the two bands. Instead, Extra Special is her solo outlet to tell her stories, and her debut single under the new moniker demonstrates that her original bands remain influential in her work.
“True Special” is an elegant, beautiful alt-pop ballad. It recalls Belle Mare’s early works, where simplicity and restraint were synonymous with dazzling and stunning. Feathery rhythms collide with low swirls of synths and keys, creating a weightless experience. Every tense nerve will relax, and your heart will ease into stasis. The music, though, is not the sole reason why the song is so calming. Bushell’s smoky, honeyed vocals have a relaxing effect while her words offer encouragement during dark times. She recalls a time when her life was in the precise hands of a surgeon, and even after the operation she was thought everything was about to end. Her friends never gave up on her, and she found hope within their strength. As Bushell remarks:
“Friends are there when you’re ungrateful
To tell us what’s real from not
And they’ll stay with you til you’re stable
If there is anything that makes you scared
They’ll try to make it end
Because friends have got your back
And they’ll never let you die alone”
Extra Special’s debut EP, Lazy About It, arrives October 23rd.
Circa Waves – “Lemonade” feat. Alfie Templeman (Liverpool, England)
RIYL: Blaenavon, Marsicans, Viola Beach
Circa Waves released their last album, Sad Happy, pre-Covid and it’s definitely worth a listen. “Lemonade” was actually produced and recording during lockdown (though it’s been in the works for years). The timing is quite perfect as it feels like so many of us can relate to the message. It’s a bit melancholy but with a laid-back vibe that can uplift your mood. Alfie Templeton offers vocals on this track, and he really adds the perfect dynamic.
The lyrics can possibly be for every one of us on this planet:
“And we’re all drinking Lemonade, we thought we’d be doing something great by now, by now. “
For many of us, life is on pause, or has definitely slowed down and feels restrictive. The track is a good reminder that we’re all struggling in some way. We might be wanting to do something different or be a lot further along in life by now. It’s a nice feeling of all being in the same boat, rowing along and trying to get somewhere.
“Lemonade” is available from these links.
Circa Waves are vocalist and guitarist Kieran Shudall, guitarist Joe Falconer, bassist Sam Rourke, and drummer Colin Jones.
Hannah’s Little Sister – “Bin Mouth” (Liverpool, England)
RIYL: Los Campesinos!, Martha, Johnny Foreigner
“Bin Mouth” from British indie outfit Hannah’s Little Sister is an ’80s inspired junk pop track – a term the band coined themselves. It’s a complete riot and in your face yet endearing and addicting. It’s definitely a song you never really knew you needed. Lyrically it is for those that have that one friend who just doesn’t know when to quit talking or spreading rumors.
The track is actually perfect if you are upset with said friend and just need to let off some steam; it will definitely do the trick. The video is a trip as well. The band expands a bit:
“It’s a song about people who like to chat a lot of rubbish, when really they should just maybe zip it. I wrote it from the frustration of being on the firing line from a lot of gossip and nonsense spewing but everyone knows a Bin Mouth, and probably everyone has been a bit of Bin Mouth too. It’s about the litterbugs and chattermugs!”
This single is out now via Heist or Hit.
Hannah’s Little Sister are Meg Grooters (vocals, guitar, keys), Nina Himmelreich (bass, vocals), Ashley Snook (guitar, vocals), and Will Brown (drums).
Bellamia – “Sound of Summer” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Laurel, Fenne Lily, Cloves
While superstars like Katy Perry and Madonna continue to write songs that are easily digestible in order to stay relevant, a 17-year-old rising star from Los Angeles is displaying the power of great songwriting. Specifically, how great songwriting can reach deep into every and any listener’s soul and momentarily paralyze them. This is the effect of Bellamia‘s new single, “Sound of Summer”.
Within the song’s first minute, the first word you may utter is, “Wow”, which is what we did. From her hushed but gorgeous vocals to the trembling, dark-pop approach, the song is gripping and suspenseful. It leaves you tense and in awe while in a state of paralysis: only the grandest works of art can affect people in this way. And this is just the sonic framework of Bellamia’s true gifts. After awakening from the dazzling orchestration, spin the song again to hear what she has to say. Even though she is not yet old enough to vote, she reflects on her more innocent days and longs for their simplicity. But they are just a memory, and the future has left her with permanent scars, just like how this song will leave a lasting imprint on every listener.
The single is out on KRO Records. This young artist has the makings of a massive star.
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