Like the changing of the leaves on this first weekend of autumn, The Matinee ’20 September 25 features a range of colorful new tunes. This mini-playlist is a global affair covering numerous genres. We hope today’s selections will contribute to an excellent weekend.
Zig Zag – “Do Better” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Cable Ties, The Joy Formidable, YONAKA
Let’s get the weekend started with a thunderous bang from a band on the verge of making massive waves in the punk scene. They are Zig Zag, the project of Kelly Dingeldei, Dan Barnes, Tom Gowan, Jess Kemp and Alex Pink. Like their fellow Melbourne mates, Cable Ties, the quintet are like the punk bands of the ’70s, where their songs are politically- and socially-charged and nothing is sacred. This includes themselves, as they examine their relationship within the current state of chaos on their fiery and fierce new single, “Do Better”.
You don’t have to be a fan of punk to realize that this track rocks and deserves plenty of “Fuck yeahs!” The throbbing bass line that opens the track and guides it for the first 55 seconds grabs your attention and gets you bouncing. As Dingeldei’s voice arrives, the song gradually intensifies until it turns into, as they like to say in these parts, a ripper. The guitars wail, the percussion rages, and all the while every muscle in your body starts twitching. As the wall of noise builds, Dingeldei delivers a promise she and her bandmates made. They will do better to each other. And as stated on their Bandcamp page, they vows “as queers… (to) lock arms and protect each other in the face of cruelty and apathy”. This is a vow we should all make to one another in these uncertain times.
Holy Motors – “Trouble” (Tallinn, Estonia)
RIYL: Lauren Ruth Ward, Mazzy Star, Why Bonnie
Somewhere, Quentin Tarantino is probably working on the screenplay to his next movie. Who knows what he’s concocting, but if he plans to wade back into the world of westerns, he should listen to Holy Motors and the stories they are telling.
Like the great filmmaker, this little band possesses a grand imagination. Despite their Estonian roots, their latest artistic project delves into the hot, dusty, and grimy world of the wild, wild west. “Country Church” introduced us to a wandering soul seeking someone or something in a post-apocalyptic world. On the spellbinding “Endless Night”, our heroine’s journey enters a phase of no escape. Her travels into the unknown continue on the lushly hypnotizing “Trouble”.
The dueling guitars and titillating rhythms collaborate on what sounds like the anthem for a gunslinger entering town for the first time. A dark mystery envelops the space as she slowly walks into sight. Through her Hope Sandoval-like delivery, frontwoman Eliann Tulve narrates how the heroine is here to exact revenge on the person who left her to die. She is like Beatrix “The Bride” Kiddo, who has been reborn and is relentless in achieving her objective. Since no one will listen to her troubles, she lets her actions speak for her. The answer as to whether she accomplishes that goals will be answered soon. Specifically, October 16th should provide the answer, as that is when their new album, Horse, arrives via Wharf Cat Records. Pre-orders are available on Bandcamp.
The bands consists of Eliann Tulve (vocals), Lauri Raus (guitar), Gert Gutmann (guitar), and Caspar Salo (drums).
Thala – “Serenade” (Berlin, Germany)
RIYL: Hope Sandoval, Angel Olsen, Juanita Stein
Inhale, exhale; inhale, exhale. Like us, you might be telling yourself to do these natural actions when coming across “Serenade”, the stunning new single from German artist Thala. Given this foreshadowing, we highly recommend that you take a few deep breaths before hitting play.
“Serenade” is immaculate dreamgaze that takes the genre to places we envision only in our wildest dreams. The song is not simply intoxicating and breathtaking; it transcends our very existence. From the delicate, crystalline guitars to the low hum of the synths and the brittle rhythms, “Serenade” leaves you in a state of blissful euphoria. Rising above the sonic eloquence is Thala’s beautifully soaring vocals. She sounds like an angel rising at the break of dawn to take us to our final resting place. To take us to a place where we can feel free and alive again.
LPX – “My Best” (New York City, USA & London, England)
RIYL: Tove Lo, XYLO, MS MR
LPX is Lizzy Plapinger, who is an indie-pop queen. Not only is she the co-founder of Neon Gold Records but also the lead singer of MS MR. “My Best” could just be the indie-pop anthem we all need for 2020. It’s almost as if everyone is trying their best, but in our current environment it’s been a challenge to say the least. Plapinger, however, offers a bright light of hope and encouragement during our current struggles. It is as if she’s the friend that we never had, giving us positive reinforcement and choosing the right words to lift our mood.
Let’s just let these lyrics sink in:
Doing my best
I swear I’m trying my bеst
It only feels like a test if I let it but I lеt it
I don’t wanna pretend it only feels like a threat if I let it but I let it
I’m trying my best
I’m trying my best
Tried to ignore my soul screaming, “I’m not listening”
So I call up upon my friends to pick me up again
Without, where would we be?
The track is upbeat pop gold with Plapinger’s alluring vocals set against driving beats. It’s definitely a track to get you moving, and could easily help you get through your next run or workout.
Plapinger’s yet-to-be-named EP is due late in 2020 via her own Neon Gold Records.
Baby Queen – “Pretty Girl Lie” (London, England via South Africa)
RIYL: Carly Rae Jepsen, Hatchie, Confidence Man
We’ve often said that not all pop tunes are equal. There are the usual cookie-cutters heard on the radio, but then there are the artists who excel above and beyond their compatriots with stellar songwriting. We can say without hesitation that South African-born Bella Latham is one of these rare breeds. Through her project, Baby Queen, she captures the complexities living in the 21st century. On her previous single “Medicine”, she addressed her worsening mental health and dependence on pills to make her feel right. Her latest single is an honest look into the mirror and identifying what actually matters.
“Pretty Girl Lie” is a smart and insightful number that will hopefully leave you feeling better at the end of the day. We’re not referring to the dance-inflected beats, the sparkling synths, and the euphoric melody. Instead, listen closely to what Latham says. She poignantly challenges herself, confessing how she has become an “egomaniac” and how her life once revolved around accumulating “likes” from contrived images posted online. She wanted to be like other social media influencers, but no longer. The song is filled with great lines, including:
“I’ll break the mirror so I look the way I feel
My hermanos were never real
The cycle never ends, the kids are so fucking oppressed
I’m so obsessed with being you that I’ve become the problem too
But I don’t wanna modify reality when I’m alive
In case we end up just like me, too insecure to be happy”
The Budos Band – “Snake Hawk” (Staten Island, NY USA)
RIYL: Antibalas, The Dap-Kings, Polyrhythmics
What is your go-to music when you need to get re-centered? If your list doesn’t include the sweet sounds of The Budos Band, you are missing out. You can always count on any artist from the Daptone label for the best soul-stirring grooves, but this ensemble from Staten Island plays on a whole ‘nother level of funkaliciousness. In their 15 years together they have perfected the seamless fusion of multiple genres – jazz, soul, funk, Afropop, R&B, and psychedelic rock – and they show no signs of slowing down any time soon. Their newest offering showcases all of their fire-spitting talents.
“Snake Hawk” may not be a long tune, but it packs more incendiary punches in under two minutes than should be allowed by law. This slow-burning number smolders slow at the start, marked by ’60s-era vintage sounds. When the full brass section enters some 20 seconds later, those fires are stoked. The arrival of congos and organs adds even more textural depth.
You hardly notice how much these melodies have fully infiltrated your whole body until the final fadeout. Then you find yourself rushing to hit play all over again. If you love and crave immersive tunes that take your mind off everything and dissolve your worries with each beat, then keep “Snake Hawk” on repeat.
Their forthcoming sixth studio album, Long in the Tooth, arrives October 9 via Daptone Records. Pre-orders are available here, including a limited edition glow in the dark vinyl, and Budos Band masks with 10% of proceeds donated to MusiCares.
Marie Davidson – “Renegade Breakdown” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Blondie, Daft Punk, Essaie Pas
Fierce. Fearless. Fabulous. Those are only three words to describe the euphoric rush you’ll get while listening to “Renegade Breakdown” from Montreal-based trio Marie Davidson. A thousand other adjectives might also apply to this disco ode to independence, but words alone cannot prompt you to dance. Just hit play instead.
This tune could be the hybrid love child of Blondie and Daft Punk. Throughout its four-plus minutes you are treated to sensual vocals, vintage synths, and irresistible grooves. When frontwoman Marie Davidson herself explains in one of the spoken verses, “I don’t want your advice,” she isn’t kidding: she and her collaborators Pierre Guerineau and Asaël R. Robitaille need nothing from anyone. They are warriors in an electronic world, wielding their cosmopolitan sound like a sonic weapon. Too often modern disco can sound derivative and lackluster: not here. Not this band, and certainly not this song. Their sound is pure modernity with a solid vintage foundation. Marie Davidson are a bridge between past and future, making them quite literally the best of both worlds.
Eels – “Are We Alright Again” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Beck, The Flaming Lips
Leave it to Mark Everett – aka E, the mad genius behind the indie project Eels – to infuse these dark times with the levity we all need. A song about birds and bees jamming? Yes, please! A funky little ditty that asks if you want to get high? “Yeah, I do,” he replies on behalf of everyone on this planet who has been awake and anxious during 2020. You get all of this and more in his newest single, “Are We Alright Again?”
Granted, this song will have far more significance in November if a certain country’s elections ensure a return to democratic normalcy. (Fingers crossed!) But the sentiment is timeless, no matter where you live. Despite having lyrics with political parallels, listeners will find “Are We Alright Again?” the soundtrack to life in general. There is encouragement here, paired perfectly with jaunty, sun-kissed instrumentation that works as well or better than a morning latte:
“Looking back, I don’t know how
But I can see clear up ahead
Smiling skies with a chance of ‘yes’
Maybe it’s time to get out of bed”
On the chorus he asks, “Am I lucky or brave? Am I stronger today?” Most of us ask ourselves similar questions regularly. So on those days when you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, crank this song. When your soul needs a jolt of audio sunshine on a rainy day, Eels tunes always do the trick. This is part of E’s charm. He does his part to make life better – or at least more tolerable – one song at a time. Somebody give this man a medal.
Middle Part – “& Cry!” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Dreamers, Foreign Air, Kyd The Band
Middle Part is the project of singer Andrew Selkōw. After moving to Alaska and finding himself, Middle Part was born. “& Cry” has a bit of a 90s nostalgic vibe with hints of Smashing Pumpkins like guitar riffs . The overall melodies feel familiar yet modern. The track can easily be added to your weekend chill out playlist.
The theme of the song is to just let it all out! Often times society implies we need to keep it together and not let our emotions show. Selkōw explains, “I think it’s supposed to be a very romantic plot but it has this dark side of not being entirely there if that makes sense. You want all these things, you think it’s great, but you’re mentally unfit to take it on. You don’t understand why, so just cry, it’s okay…I’m here.”
“& Cry” is from Middle Part’s upcoming six-track EP I Wish I Was Alive is heavily driven by his personal experiences, his shortcomings, his struggle with depression, dissociation and overall loss.
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