The Matinee ’20 October 7 edition is littered with star power and alumni (meaning we’ve covered all of these artists and bands in some capacity). Just glancing at the names below is all you need to know about how great this mini-playlist is. We kick things off with one of the year’s great videos that features an all-star cast supporting one of the great indie singer-songwriters.
Jeff Tweedy – “Gwendolyn” (Chicago, USA)
Wilco fans know their frontman, Jeff Tweedy, has a sense of humor. His wry wit is seen in his solo videos and his acting roles, including appearances in Parks and Recreation and Portlandia. Now two stars from those shows are returning the favor in Tweedy’s newest single from his upcoming fourth solo album, Love Is the King.
“Gwendolyn” is obviously a tune that was written and recorded during the COVID-19 epidemic. Being the responsible human he is, Tweedy is seen wearing a mask in the video’s opening shots. Until he isn’t. He is then joined by a who’s who roster of celebrity cameos, including Elvis Costello, Courtney Barnett, Jon Hamm, Fred Armisen, Norah Jones, Seth Meyers, Nick Offerman, Tweedy’s sons Spencer and Sammy, and more.
The song itself stays true to the Tweedy canon: it is another endearing indie folk-rock tune that will appeal to old fans and new ones alike. This is Tweedy at his warmest, and we are here for it.
Love Is the King arrives digitally on October 23rd via dBpm Records while physical copies of the album will be available January 15, 2021. His book releases October 13. You can pre-order both from the Wilco website.
Future Islands – “Born in a War” (Baltimore, USA)
RIYL: Future Islands
Most people remember the first time they saw Future Islands on TV. Back in 2014 they gave a memorable live performance on David Letterman’s late night show. Around that time, the Baltimore-based band dreamed of working with American animator and puppeteer Wayne White. You may not recognize that guy’s name, but you have surely seen his work: he got his start on Pee Wee’s Playhouse in the 1980s. Now after years of strategizing, their joint venture is complete. And it truly is a team effort, as White and his son, Woodrow, have brought to life the video for a song about deadly consequences.
“Born in a War” pairs languid synths with piercing lyrics. The slightly slower tempo will have you doing more thinking than dancing as Samuel T. Herring delivers sobering lines that feel especially poignant for the modern era:
“It’s all so temporary
Life’s work don’t play that way
Life’s more than cash and carry
All your guns to your grave
Raised up in a town that’s 80 proof
Shotgun shells under every roof, every jail
Didn’t learn a lot from public schools
All our books went off to wars they could sell”
Loma – “Elliptical Days” (Dripping Springs and Austin, TX, USA)
RIYL: Marissa Nadler, Julia Holter, Julianna Barwick
As Loma‘s new album, Don’t Shy Away, quickly approaches (16 days from now), the super-group consisting of Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski of Cross Record and Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater have accelerated the release of singles. Only two weeks ago they shared the soothing “I Fix Myself” and “Don’t Shy Away”, two tracks that followed the stunning “Ocotillo”. To further heighten the anticipation, the latest single is as mesmerizing and surreal as the first three.
“Elliptical Days” is beyond categorization. It is sheer genius. The song blends a myriad of sound and influences – Japanese folklore, the intimate haunting quality of Native American music, touches of Brian Eno-esque new wave, subtle neo-psychedelic notes, and folktronica atmospherics. Such a mélange of sound usually results in a muddled composition, but in the hands of three of music’s most creative forces the track exceeds enchantment. It is a rather spiritual experience. The accompanying video adds to the surreal effect: it takes us to a dimension where open spaces are plentiful, and peace and healing are propagated as opposed to hate and lies. Such a world seems so distant these days, though hopefully that will all change soon.
IAN SWEET – “Power” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Snail Mail, Soccer Mommy, Lala Lala
Jillian Medford’s music as IAN SWEET is difficult to describe in just a few words. Its quiet moments range from dreamy to eerie, and its highest moments can be intense moments of guitar-driven distorted catharsis. It’s why we’ve been driven to the music of IAN SWEET since the second we heard their debut LP Shapeshifter. Earlier this year, Medford announced that IAN SWEET had signed to Polyvinyl Record Co., and has dropped two tracks, the groovy “Sword“, and the intense “Dumb Driver“. This week, IAN SWEET has released their most recent track, “Power”.
“Power” is a song about finding power within solitude, about learning to trust herself. It has the dynamic qualities that drew us into IAN SWEET in the first place, but made even more captivating by its excellent production. Acoustic guitar welcomes the listener, and the song gets to a quite dreamy state by the time it reaches its chorus. Fuzz envelopes the song before it goes back to acoustic guitar. It comes to a huge roaring end, as Medford sings:
“I wanna feel the power of knowing nothing, nothing
I wanna feel the power of holding no one, no one ever again”
Gold Connections – “Stick Figures” (Charlottesville, VA, USA)
RIYL: Pavement, Wilco, Neutral Milk Hotel
Even though the days of indie rock bands dominating radio have diminished, we are in the midst of the revival of guitar-driven music. Artists like Car Seat Headrest, Alex G, or Soccer Mommy have not yet reached the stardom of R.E.M., Beck, or even Radiohead (yes, they were once a college radio band!), but this does not diminish their talents nor their influence on the next generation. Another outfit ushering this new era of rock is Gold Connections.
While the band’s mastermind, Will Marsh, is known for being a longtime Will Toledo (Car Seat Headrest) collaborator, he is an immensely gifted artist. Like the bands of the ’80s and ’90s underground scene, Marsh has the unique talent of creating witty stories that resonate with people of all ages. He’s not merely a microphone for twenty- and thirtysomethings but also for the middle-aged crowd hanging onto their fleeting youth. With songs like “Stick Figures”, Marsh brings these multiple generations together to reminisce and rock out.
The track echoes the catchy indie rock of Pavement and Neutral Milk Hotel with splashes of Wilco’s Americana-rock. Your head will bop back and forth while your mind wanders and recalls more pleasant times. The latter happens because Marsh’s story is full of memories. He shares little vignettes of when he could be absentminded and feign innocence when things went awry. Now, though, we’re all too “hung up” and high-strung, allowing the little things to bother us. There then comes a point where we need to “turn off” and just breathe and live again. Regardless of our age, we can all agree on this fact and rock out together to this great tune.
Joining Marsh are Brett Jones (bass/guitar), Ryan Lipps (guitar/mellotron), Stephan Larue (drums), and Will Evans (percussion). Their new EP, Ammunition, is out November 16th. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.
Babeheaven – “Craziest Things” (London, England)
RIYL: Yumi Zouma, Men I Trust, Cathedrals
Although summer is in the rear-view mirror for those in the northern hemisphere, there’s also room for sun-kissed music that makes us think warmer and brighter days are ahead or encourages us to roll down the windows and enjoy the fresh air regardless of the temperature. It takes a very special song to get us to do something like this, but Babeheaven have done this with “Craziest Things”.
Nancy Andersen and Jamie Travis’ newest single is summery, psychedelic-pop personified. The rhythms titillate, the guitar glimmers, and the bass affectionately pops. Andersen’s voice, meanwhile, is smooth and dreamy, calming our nerves during these tense times. Despite the blissful feeling created by the rapturous melody, Andersen’s words point to a whole different experience. She opens up about the depression and anxiety that have overwhelmed her. While the days may be sunny and she seems to exude stability, Andersen is being eaten away internally. She openly reveals:
“I have been losing sleep
My mind is on the craziest things
I lie in bed try not to think
But my head is on the ceiling
I can’t lay there anymore
I’m sorry I’m climbing up the walls
Can’t lay there anymore”
If you are like Andersen, tell someone about your state of mind. If you think someone may be struggling, reach out and support them.
Babeheaven’s debut album, Home For Now, arrives November 6th. You can pre-order it here.
Jesse Kivel – “Northside” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Westerman, Lontalius, Kisses
If you are alone and need to hear something that sounds like a friend is nearby or just offers a momentary escape, then this next tune will hopefully do the trick. Should you be with a friend, partner, or even your parents or children, lay down, hold on to each other, and be prepared to be taken to a dreamy wonderland called “Northside”, which is where Jesse Kivel of Kisses takes us on his newest song. Trust us, this song will sweep you away.
Call it bedroom pop or dream-pop, it does not really matter when a song is as gently euphoric as this one. The stuttering beats, the Peter Hook-like bass, the dueling chiming guitars, and aural-like synths create a scintillating wave of embracing sound. A wave that is full of warmth, calm, and hope, and all you can do is smile and take it all in. Kivel’s voice, too, is inviting, as through his soft falsetto he tells us a story about how one person changed his life and made him believe again. How one person made him feel that everything is ok again and there is nothing to fear.
Yes, these are difficult times, but hope always remains. We just need to search for it, and today Kivel is our guide. He is our glimmer of hope.
Kivel’s debut solo album, Infinite Jess, is out November 13th via his own New Feelings imprint. It should be full of smile-inducing songs.
deryk – “Goodtimes” (Auckland via Hawkes Bay, New Zealand)
RIYL: Maggie Rogers, Anna of the North, Lorde
Record labels are always looking for the next big thing. Geography matters little in the equation, but when executives often say they want to sign the next so-so they often cite NZ artists. Lorde is often mentioned, and everyone wants to find The Beths’ comparable. One day soon, people will be talking about who could be the next deryk.
Madeline Bradley is the talented, young woman behind the mononym. Although she only has a handful of songs out, Universal Records New Zealand has already signed Bradley and released her debut EP, WOMb. The Hawkes Bay-born artist has already shared a few songs from the EP, including intimate stunners “Call You Out” and “One Star”. Further demonstrating that she is worthy of adulation, Bradley unveils “Goodtimes”.
The song is brittlely beautiful. The production and beats are minimal while slight touches of the piano ring through, and together they cast an calming, intoxicating spell. Despite the stunning quality of the melody, Bradley’s voice is vulnerable and steeped with pain. She recounts a moment where her innocence was taken away and how difficult it was for her to “get up again” and “learn to let the good times go”. The lyrics at the start say it all:
“I didn’t tell you I wasn’t quite right
But I think you knew by the look in my eyes
All of my reasons stuck in my throat
Didn’t know it was coming, letting you go
You took advantage, don’t you know?
Pull down a flower just trying to grow”
Stream WOMb on one of these streaming services.
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