Drama is the name of the game for The Matinee ’20 September 28 edition. Today’s mini playlist features several Song of the Year candidates, though we highly recommend you keep all nine songs on repeat.

 

Sløtface – “Doctor” (Stavanger, Norway)

RIYL: Hop Along, Middle Kids, Camp Cope

When Sløtface arrived in the middle of the last decade, they immediately established themselves as one of world’s great indie bands due to their great songwriting. Regardless if they’re creating a rousing rocker, a buzz-saw pop-rock tune, or a solemn ballad, they have and will always write meaningful, insightful, and poignant songs. Their debut album, Try Not to Freak Out, was clever and perceptive while their sophomore LP, Sorry for the Late Reply, was a timely, politically- and socially-charged output. Because the quartet of Haley Shea (vocals), Lasse Lokøy (bass), Tor-Arne Vikingstad (guitar), and Halvard Skeie Wiencke (drums) have never strayed towards the easy, mainstream route, they have become the beacon by which a new generation’s concerns can be expressed, as they do once again with “Doctor”.

This moving, emotional number was originally written for Try Not to Freak Out, which exhibits the band’s talent from the very start and how their music is timeless. The gentle, stirring Americana-rock approach is beautifully embracing like a warm blanket on a cold winter’s night. Through the stunning arrangement floats Shea’s voice, who shares a story of a young woman trying to understand herself, her image, and her own body within these social media-driven world.

“I think I need a doctor
Someone medically trained
I think I need a doctor
More skill and less clickbait
I guess that I should close the screen
Consult someone with a degree
I think I need a doctore
More skill and less clickbait
Keep thinking I’m pregnant”

The single is the first from the band’s forthcoming new album, Slumber Tapes, which will largely feature stripped-down arrangements of their previous songs. As usual, Propeller Recordings will have the honors of distributing it.

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Topographies – “Rose of Sharon” (San Francisco / Oakland, USA)

RIYL: Nation of Language, Flock of Seagulls, New Order

2020 has since two great genres be reborn – or be taken to incredibly new heights. Post-punk is one of them, and this year has undoubtedly been the year of the Gothic and brooding tones. Closely behind, however, is ’80s synth-pop, which has been transformed to be more than just entertaining. Several bands have turned the genre into a spellbinding wonderland, where one feels they have fallen through the rabbit hole and landed in exhilarating bliss. This is the effect that one is to surely feel with Topographies‘ sublime new single, “Rose of Sharon”.

But before you take the leap, grab your partner’s hand, together take a deep breath, and experience this Goth-infused dreamland together. Experience this world where the chiming guitar rains rays of shimmering light while the synths, keys, and 808s fill every space with breathtaking dreaminess. While your head is in a complete daze, front-man Gray Tolhurst’s transcendent vocal keeps us on our path, telling us he is there to guide us and catch us if needed like he did with another. He will not allow us to fall and succumb to the darkness around us. Instead, Tolhurst and his bandmates, Jeremie Ruest and Justin Oronos, are here to liberate us.

The trio’s long-awaited debut album, Ideal Form, drops December 4th. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.

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Headshrinkers – “6:41 Sapien” (West Midlands, England)

RIYL: Eagulls, Bambara, The Blinders

Speaking of 2020 being the year of post-punk, another band from jolly old England is taking the genre to well beyond the darkness. Headshrinkers are specifically taking post-punk to creepy, eerie, and cinematic heights that great bands like Eagulls and Bambara before them have done. And like their predecessors, the quartet from the West Midlands are opening our eyes to how our mundane lives should be our biggest fear on “6:41 Sapien”.

A bleak and brooding soundscape immediately forms, as the guitars strike like distant thunder in the darkened sky while the rhythms pound like unseen footsteps coming quickly in our direction. The instrumentation is fearful and suspenseful, and yet paralyzing. We know we should run, but we are cemented to our spot because we have nowhere to go. Front-man Garran Hickman heightens this unnerving feeling with his startlingly real lyrics. “What’s my worth?”, he rhetorically asks, as he already knows that we already have the answer. Our lives are virtually worthless, yet we still abide to the rules of the 9-to-5. Eventually, however, we all eventually crack and seek liberation. But is it too late for us to take the red pill?

Headshrinkers are Garran Hickman (vocals), James Knott (guitar), Xavier Al-Naqib (bass), and Matt Whalen (drums). This is a band to watch or invite to play at your Halloween party, assuming it is safe to do so of course.

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Dayweaver – “Hurricane” (Utrecht, Netherlands)

RIYL: Gayngs, The National, Volcano Choir

A decade ago, Ryan Olson started a massive collective called Gayngs, which brought together 22 of indie’s most gifted artists at the time. Together, they crafted magic, and their one-and-only album, Relayted, is one of the Century’s great records. For those who have been waiting for the group to come back together, turn your ears in the direction of the Netherlands, where a four-piece is rekindling the super-group’s stunning epic nature and, therefore, reviving an unforgettable sound.

Comprised of Marcel Young, John “Maître” Nomski, Yari Inzaghi, and Allie Osha, Dayweaver have unveiled one of the year’s most outstanding singles. And yes, by this we mean that “Hurricane” is a Song-of-the-Year candidate. It is the definition of blissful euphoria, as the atmospheric dream-pop causes one’s soul to levitate out of its body and gracefully guide to the heavens. A beautiful drama, too, builds in the band’s storyline, where they emulate the sombre stories The National have perfected. In this instance, Dayweaver enter the room of two people struggling with the decision on whether or not to have children and whether they are in ready to take that next step. And more importantly, they try to figure out whether a baby will bring them closer together or further drive them apart.

“Push it under water
Until we’re taken by surprise
And then we’ll live a little life instead
Push it under water
We can struggle to survive again
Or live a little life instead”

We could endlessly listen to this incredible piece of gorgeous art.

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Jaguar Jonze – “DEADALIVE” (Brisbane, Australia via Yokohama, Japan)

RIYL: Thyla, SORRY, YONAKA

Few people have experienced as much as Deena Lynch has in her barely two decades on the planet. For that matter, the genius behind Jaguar Jonze has had an incredible 12 months that includes getting COVID and being derailed by the virus for several weeks and revealing she was sexually assaulted by people she trusted. The young woman is resilient. She’s a warrior, who has endured more emotional, physical, and psychological trauma than anyone could imagine. Her debut EP, Diamonds & Liquid Gold, was an outpouring of her pain and turmoil, but it was also a declaration of triumph and resilience. The record was the story of her first 20 years, and now she starts to a new chapter with another seismic number.

“DEADALIVE” is Lynch’s 2020 in a nutshell. With her trademark, angular guitar strikes and post-punk-inspired rhythmic tremors, Lynch calmly describes her battle the virus. It leaves her weak and vulnerable, making her “running so empty like we’re going to die” and “feeling so heavy that we’re deadalive”. All the while, she’s caged in a windowless room to fend off this invisible enemy, where has not only damaged her body and soul but also her entire livelihood. It has affected her emotionally, as not only is her present at risk but so is her future. This is the seldomly discussed aspect of life in a pandemic – unknown consequences that could ruin livelihoods everywhere. In Lynch’s case, though, we’re confident she will yet again overcome, and the video for the song that features Lynch as a samurai says as much.

Jaguar Jonze’s new EP, Anti-Hero, will be released late 2020 or early 2021 via Nettwerk Music Group.

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Nané – “Clementine Tree” (Austin, USA)

RIYL: Bright Light Social Hour, Israel Nash, My Morning Jacket

Austin, Texas, is a hot bed for talented artists – after all, it is called the Live Music Capital of the World for a reason. Even though we aren’t going to many live shows these days, it’s still a great town for discovering musical talent. Nané is a fairly new project of Daniel Sahad with a handful of releases in the last year. So far their sound is super exciting and with the right ears listening, they could go very far.

“Clementine Tree” truly moves you. Sahad’s vocals immediately take hold even though they start delicately and later fully display their power and incredible range. The groovy instrumentation provides us with the perfect mix of funk and soul, yet midway through we are injected with full-on rock. Nan’s genre-crossing sound can easily attract a wide range of fans. Their six singles released leading up to the debut indicate that the future looks very bright for Nané. They are proving they can take it down a few notches with a soul-heavy love song like “Always On My Mind” then explode with a funky and upbeat banger with “Blue Velvet”.

Nan’s self-titled debut album hits stores on November 13th. This single is available for streaming and purchase from these links.

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Kyd the Band – “I’ll Stay” (Sacramento, USA)

RIYL: Armors, DREAMERS, 888

“I’ll Stay” is the latest from Kyd the Band (Devin Guisande), and it’s a moving track that speaks to sticking by the ones you love.  Guisande’s vocals are set against simple piano and moving beats that take listeners to a serious place, yet there is a palpable warmth to the song that offers hope:

“I don’t know what I should do, I don’t know the words to say. But if you say you want me to – I’ll stay.”

Kyd the Band shared a bit of an excerpt of the meaning behind the track on Instagram:
Devin’s wife Tancy unexpectedly lost her grandfather and through that experience, “I wanted to help, I wanted to fix things. I wanted to have some sort of explanation, I wanted to be able to do something, but there was not a single thing I could do. That taught me that maybe sometimes when things happen to someone the only thing and best thing you can do is be there with them while they go through it. So this song is that message. Be there for those you love.”

Guisade’s new EP, Season 3: The Realization, will be released next month via Sony Music.

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The War and Treaty – “Yearning” (Nashville, USA)

RIYL: The Suffers, Devon Gilfillian, Leon Bridges, The Civil Wars

When the movie about this apocalyptic year is made, hopefully the producers will include the music of The War and Treaty in those pivotal scenes. Because any movie regardless of genre (though a film about 2020 is likely to be a horror/sci-fi hybrid), needs a compelling soundtrack for those make-or-break moments.

Just as Rocky celebrated his triumphant race to the top of the stairs in Philadelphia as a rousing theme song played, all of us battling 2020 need music that stirs our souls. We need tunes that uplift us and encourage our commitment to stay in the fight, no matter how much life has us browbeaten and weary. This is exactly the kind of music The War and Treaty have been making for years: soul-stirring anthems sung from a place of experience, hope, and love. And now with their newest release, the duo of Michael Trotter, Jr. and Tanya Blount-Trotter are providing a soundtrack for the toughest year of our lives.

“Yearning” finds the Nashville-based duo opening their new album, Hearts Town, with pure fire. The scorching rock guitar riffs are the leather woven into their velvet and satin vocals. Here they sing about something we all feel – a deep yearning in our souls. This couple has weathered many a storm and emerged victorious on the other side. Who better to inspire you musically than these unstoppable voices? Their blend of R&B, soul, blues, rock, and gospel will pick you up from life’s mat and get you fighting again. Trust us when we tell you: if you haven’t been listening to The War and Treaty before, now is the time. 

Hearts Town is out now via Rounder Records. This contender for Album of the Year includes a few star musicians making cameos, including Jason Isbell and Jerry Douglas. It is out now digitally on Bandcamp and on vinyl (along with other merch) at their online store.

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WIDOWER – “No Show” (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: Strand of Oaks, The War On Drugs, Don Henley

There was a time in the ’70s and ’80s where bands recorded on cassettes, vinyl, and 8-tracks in one studio cut. The music felt alive and real, as though the artist was standing in front of you and sharing their deepest secrets. When you saw them perform live, the experience mirrored what you had heard on your speakers or oversized headphones. Such intimacy in music is now more the exception than the rule, but if you open your mind and your ears, you’ll hear artists like Kevin Large and his project WIDOWER playing in a neighborhood near you.

While the Brooklyn-based artist’s music may be considered “sad dad rock”, we consider it to be the antidote to our ills. The combination of tickling ivories, echoing keys, shimmering guitars, and softly stuttering rhythms on “No Show” radiates with the warm tones of a Don Henley classic. All you can do is take a deep breath, close your eyes, and smile as the song slowly builds to its dazzling crescendo. Despite the revitalizing effect of the track’s sonic overtures, regret and remorse linger in Large’s voice. While he invites us into his world, he speaks of loneliness and the mistakes he’s made.

“Nothing to prove, through pretending
and falling in love under false pretenses
Prone to prolong and procrastinate
I’ll probably never get my priorities straight

I’ll miss my friend the most”

For us, though, we have made a new friend today. Come October 23rd, Large’s bonds with all of us will grow strong, as that is when his new album, Baby We Were, will be released Jenny Invert Records. It also features some familiar voices in Charity Rose Thielen and Matt Gervais of The Head and the Heart. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.

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