On this Canadian Thanksgiving, enter The Matinee ’20 October 12th edition to hear delicious sonic delicacies from around the globe and give thanks to these artists who give us a sense of stability and hope in these odd times.
Yola – “Hold On” (Bristol, England)
RIYL: Brandi Carlile, Sheryl Crow, The Highwomen
One reason we love Newport Folk Festival (and consider it one of the best festivals in America) is because artists from all genres collaborate there. That spirit of unity lives on year-round, too. Former festival performers (“folk alum” as they become known) collaborate and continue the cycle of promoting hope and change through song. Such is the case with British soul-country artist Yola on her new charity single.
“Hold On” is a star-studded affair for a worthy cause. Yola is joined by several folk alum, including Brandi Carlile and Natalie Hemby (of the Highwomen), Sheryl Crow on piano, and Jason Isbell providing some scorching guitar. This uplifting anthem encourages listeners – especially young girls – to remain strong in discouraging times:
“No matter what they tell you, girl, stay bold
Everyone that seems alright
Has a soul that’s hurting deep inside
So baby, hold on to the things that you love”
Yola’s inspiration for the tune came from her own mother who had reservations about Yola pursuing a songwriting career. Fortunately for music fans she refused to be swayed. The talented performer is a legend in the making. Her 2019 debut album, Walk Through Fire, earned three Grammy nominations while Yola picked up a nod for Best New Artist. And next year she headlines Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium. Perhaps a live album will come from that? There is no stopping this girl who stayed bold.
Told Slant – “Run Around the School” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Florist, Modest Mouse, Alex G
Felix Walworth is perhaps best known as a drummer. From their work with bands like Bellows and Yohuna, along with their distinctive style of playing, Walworth has rightfully become one of New York’s most notable drummers. However, Walworth’s songwriting is some of the most impactful out there right now. The two Told Slant releases are emotionally driven, intimate records that hit right to the core of your being. There’s an honesty in each word Walworth sings; this is present on their latest track, “Run Around The School”.
“Run Around the School” has a simple, delicately strummed chord progression lays the backbone of the track. A beautiful layer of piano then adds to the vibe. Walworth’s vocal delivery creates a personal connection. Lyrically the song is about the complexity of loving and the desire of being loved. Walworth describes it by saying, “It explores the beauty and delusion of pining, and of love’s power to satiate us even with its table scraps.”
“But there is the one you love and there is the love you want
And there is the want you love and you can’t hold them all”
Extra Special – “I Hate Love” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Beach House, Alex the Astronaut, Belle Mare
The most powerful emotion is love, which is a refrain that is difficult to refute. We’ll go to great lengths to win someone’s heart, sacrifice ourselves to protect our children and families, and fall into despair when a relationship goes awry. Lost love can make the most tender of individuals have vindictive thoughts, which is the case on Extra Special‘s new single, “I Hate Love.”
Amelia Bushell (also of Belle Mare and Grim Streaker) is one of the nicest individuals you’ll meet, though she is not immune to the pains of a broken heart. But instead of delivering an edgy, heavy track, she finds a way to lift our spirits. For instance, while she sings, “Look up something to wear in case I run into you / And if you’re with someone want her to see me, too”, she does it with smile-inducing flair. The breezy, intoxicating dream-pop textures make you think life can truly be remarkable even when you are down. Eventually Bushell realizes that life goes on even if “the one you love doesn’t love you back”, a sentiment that adds a nice little ending to the tale.
Her debut EP, Lazy About It, arrives October 23rd. The record’s first single, “True Special”, was released a month ago and provides another example of Bushell’s versatility.
Pale Honey – “Some Time, Alone” (Gothenburg, Sweden)
RIYL: Warpaint, Nelson Can, Bats for Lashes
And speaking about finding one’s independence, this next tune will have you strutting down the street like you own the neighborhood. It will have you realizing you don’t need to be dependent on anyone “to get what I want”. If this sounds like the mantra behind Uma Thurman’s The Bride character in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films, you wouldn’t be far enough. Actually, these words belong to Pale Honey, one of Sweden’s most outstanding indie rock bands.
After masterminds Tuva Lodmark and Nelly Daltrey shared the dazzling “Treat You Good” and the foreboding “Killer Scene” earlier this year, their latest tune is a confident, groovy, bass-driven affair. It’s the kind of track that prompts listeners in bars or shops to ask “Who is this?” as they quickly Shazam the tune on their phones. Next thing you know, everyone is bopping their heads, tapping their toes to these beats. Adding to this rejuvenating feeling is Lodmark’s words about having her own personal space to do what she wants. At the same time, she shows who is the boss in this relationship:
“All I ask of you is to wait a little more
Read a little more
Stay away a little more
I can get, get, get, get, get, get, get what I want
Unless you let, let, let, let, let, let, let me out of your heart”
Lodmark and Daltrey are supported by Anders Lagerfors (production/guitar/bass). The their new album, Some Time, Alone, will be released November 6th via Bolero Recordings.
Sprints – “Drones” (Dublin, Ireland)
RIYL: IDLES, Fontaines D.C., Miss June
When we heard alt-rock / post-punk rockers Sprints‘ single, “The Cheek”, in June, we stated we may have found our new favorite band. We weren’t just making a nice compliment; we were serious in our fandom for a young group whose propulsive sonic fireworks are matched by the fiery wordplay of frontwoman Karla Chubb. Forget niceties and pleasantries; these four Dubliners are believers in the old mantra that honesty is best because that’s the only way for people to truly understand what’s happening. They also believe in being honest with themselves, as they demonstrate on the furious “Drones”.
Like IDLES and Fontaines D.C. before them, the quartet master the art of dramatic intensity. The moans of the guitar and bass and deft percussion open the track, giving it a sombre yet foreboding atmosphere. The mood is akin to visiting a cemetery at midnight. Chubb’s lyrics accentuate this feeling when she indicates that “everyone is empty”, including herself. We are the soulless who attempt to be like someone else at the sacrifice of being ourselves. As this revelation is made, a wall of crushing sound overwhelms her vocals. This is later repeated, but on this occasion a tsunami washes upon her and everyone nearby. This awakening prompts the realization that lying to ourselves only makes us another drone that feeds the egos of the ruling elite.
Sprints are Karla Chubb (lead vocals/guitar), Sam McCann (bass/backing vocals), Colm O’Reilly (guitar/backing vocals), and Jack Callan (drums).
The Ghost of Helags – “Night Summer Waiting” (Berlin, Germany via Sweden)
RIYL: Chromatics, Blonde Redhead, Still Corners
Songs can be categorized in numerous categories. There’s the overused “summer anthem”, party tunes, road-trip tracks, yacht rock, and workout music to name a few. One term that should be used is “late-night soundtrack”, which are songs that create the feeling of a journey through deserted places in the wee hours of the morning. While most people are sleeping in their beds, there is the restless, lonely person wandering the streets or aimlessly driving to answer the questions that occupy her mind. A song that perfectly defines this experience is “Night Summer Waiting” from the immensely underrated The Ghost of Helags.
For half-a-decade, Teresa Woischiski and John Alexander Ericson have dazzled listeners, including ourselves, with their bone-chilling electro-pop, but they may have unveiled their finest masterpiece with this track. It is a dazzling, cinematic number that is breathtaking yet stark, intimate yet mysterious. With Ericson crafting a soundscape that echoes the chilling stillness of the night, Woischiski’s trembling falsetto narrates our endless and fruitless escapades to find peace and ease in our lives. She lushly sings about loves we’ve known, our own mental fragility, and the unknowns of tomorrow. However, in these hours of the morning, this where we “feel you restlessness in its purest form” and, thus, discover who we truly are.
Anna McClellan – “Raisin” (Omaha, USA)
RIYL: Frankie Cosmos, Lomelda, Florist
Anna McClellan is a refreshing songwriter to hear. Her witty, clever way with words can be heard on her fantastic pair of albums already available, Yes and No (2018) and Fire Flames (2015). McClellan keeps creating intelligent brand pop music with the two singles released this year, “Desperate” and “Pace of the Universe”. Now the Omaha-based artist has delivered yet another stunning single from her forthcoming I saw first light album.
At just under two minutes in length, “Raisin” isn’t an epic by any means. But what it lacks in length it gains in its charm. “Raisin” starts out playfully with some organ and bass over jazzy percussion. McClellan continues that playfulness with her vocals that soar over piano and organ with some additional fun instrumentation throughout. The song’s brevity lets listeners focus on the lyrics in this intelligently written track about taking a leap of faith.
Gidge – “Seems To Be Getting Closer” (Umeå, Sweden )
RIYL: M83, Sigur Rós, Phoria
When Anthony Gonzalez – a.k.a. M83 – released the soundtrack to the Tom Cruise film, Oblivion, he accomplished the extraordinary. He not only took listeners through the outer reaches of the galaxy; he also made us feel we had started over on a whole new world. Many producers have attempted to replicate the experience, though few have reached the brilliant balance of reality and fantasy of the record. This could all change on November 6th when Sweden’s Gidge release their new album, New Light, on November 6 via Atomnation.
The duo of Ludvig Stolterman and Jonatan Nilsson have already teased at what is to come with the intergalactic “New Light”, which exceeded even the most wildest of imaginations. Whereas this song had the feeling of a journey through the cosmos, their latest track (the LP’s closer) is the arrival to our distant destination.
“Seems To Be Getting Closer” is a beautifully-striking and stunning piece of downtempo. The song is exquisitely paced, starting off calmly to represent the awe and wonder that occupy our thoughts as we’ve landed on an alien planet. The ethereal vocals add to the enchantment and provide a touch of comfort that we are not alone. But like with any first-time experience, disbelief, uncertainty, and fear start to creep in. The duo exhibit this at the song’s eerie, melancholic bridge. Once those feelings pass, the adventurer inside us blooms. There is life to be found – or more accurately, a life that is about to be reborn.
Pre-orders for New Light are available from these links.
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