The Matinee ’20 October 16 is filled with awesome tracks. All nine songs are energizing, thoughtful, intelligent, and timely. As crappy as 2020 has been, the music has been extraordinary, and these songs are no different. We kick things off with songs from four longtime favorites and another four who quickly are reaching that stature.
The Weather Station – “Robber” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Talk Talk, Lanterns on the Lake, Leif Vollebekk
Ask any individual involved in Canadian music who is the most underrated artist from world’s 2nd-largest country, and Tamara Lindeman’s project, The Weather Station, would likely be at or at least near the very top. For almost a decade-and-a-half, the Toronto resident and her band have entranced fans first with their folk-like beginnings to their more widescreen, art-folk / indie-rock blend. They started gaining more traction within the industry with their eponymous 2017 title, which was included on several top-100 lists across the planet and reaching as high as number four on Uncut Magazine‘s list.
In the three years since, the band have been relatively quiet. That is until now, of course. Just as a forgettable 2020 finally starts to wane, The Weather Station offer something to make it memorable with “Robber”. The song is a combination of the jazzy, art-rock aesthetics of Talk Talk and the elegant poignancy of Lanterns on the Lake and Sharon Van Etten. Its sultry, mysterious approach is riveting and intoxicating, inciting those in its wake to slowly groove to the delicate rhythms, the occasional horn blasts, and Lindeman’s seductive vocals. Her story, too, elicits images of addiction, confusion, and lost innocence, and an uneasiness builds in Lindeman’s lyrics.
“You never believed in the robber
You thought a robber must hate you
To want to take from you
The robber don’t hate you
You never believed in the robber
But the robber never believed in you
You were two halves of the same piece
Divided in two”
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – “Hesitating Nation” and “Thousand Oaks” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Okkervil River, Destroyer, Wolf Parade
Another artist returning after a three-year layoff is Alec Ounsworth and his project Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. This isn’t to say that Ounsworth has been idle, as since the pandemic he’s released bonus tracks and demos from his previous albums. In terms of brand new music, we have to go back to 2017’s Tourist, which was a journey of self-reflection following co-founder Sean Greenhalgh’s departure from the band. To mark his return, the Philadelphia-based artist shares not one but two songs, which are the opposite of the inward examination of his previous effort.
“Hesitating Nation” and “Thousand Oaks” are explorations about one nation’s identity crisis, specifically the United States of America. They’re equally protest songs as they are about raising social awareness, and both are brilliantly conceived and, more importantly, urgent and timely. Through a jittery, anxious indie-rock approach, “Hesitating Nation” describes the growing divisions of a country, where some people choose to advance the interests of a few at the expense of the health and welfare of the majority. Ounsworth offers a number of little vignettes, which is best summarized when he says, “Who will save me when I’m feeling this down / All God’s children are useless to me now”.
The stirring and euphoric “Thousand Oaks”, meanwhile, references a specific “American massacre in southern California”. On November 7, 2018, a white male entered a bar and killed thirteen people, mostly college students, and injuring numerous others. This event should have caused concern to American’s illness with gun violence, but it is instead met with rhetoric. As the song builds and the desperation rises, Ounsworth bitingly says:
“When nothing comes from nothing
With every man an island
And we’re reasoning with messengers
Who try to pass for grown men
And they’re coming up empty
And they’re sending you their thoughts and prayers”
To our American friends and family, please vote and help change the course of history.
CYHSY’s new album, New Fragility, is out January 21, 2021. Order it and other merch here.
Psychedelic Porn Crumpets – “Tally-Ho” (Perth, Australia)
RIYL: Ty Segall, POND, Fuzz
Just as we expected back in August when Psychedelic Porn Crumpets released the mind-bending “Mr. Prism”, the psych-rock extraordinaires are indeed releasing a new album in 2021. More details below, but for now let us all rejoice the return of one of the 21st Century’s great bands and rock out to “Tally-Ho”.
The track personifies the manic, immensely trippy, yet extremely entertaining psychedelic-rock of Jack McEwan, Luke Parish, Danny Caddy, and Luke Reynolds. The quartet are firing on all cylinders with flaming dual guitars, a bass line that makes you want to jump, and heavy drums that cause you to band your head while you’re leaping. It’s an adrenaline-inducing track that will make you want to scream and completely lose your shit. This is exactly what McEwan is singing about, but it’s not music that is causing us to lose our minds. Instead, it is the culture of excess, likes, memes, and TikTok that is taking our humanity away. As a buzzsaw melody roars in the air, McEwan sings:
“More alcohol, caviar, carry on with our fluid conversation,
On matadors, sycamore, furthermore I establish ground for what is zero, patio, chemical basis
One more line of avalanche-winter-land-handicap
Bleeding from the nostril”
The lyrics are just as whacked as the music, yet they accurately depict our world today.
Middle Kids – “R U 4 Me?” (Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: Gang of Youths, The Griswolds, Winnetka Bowling League
Middle Kids are back with a super catchy track titled “R U 4 Me?” It starts off simple and builds into a melodic rocker with Hannah Joy’s vocals floating effortlessly over cinematic guitar and percussion. Midway through we get a killer guitar session that turns this track into an all out rocker. It’s a great one to listen to while staying motivated on the treadmill. The lyrics tackle the lack of trust in others.
“My friends and family we’re all in therapy, do not ignore me – are you for me or against me?”
Singer Hannah Joy share about the track: “I was at university once and there were all these signs on the walls saying ‘BE NICE IT’S NOT THAT HARD.’ The tone of the message itself actually wasn’t very nice or kind…. We are always looking around at other people thinking ‘are you on my team?’ I think this just results in us all feeling lonely.”
Middle Kids are Hannah Joy (vocals, guitar, piano), Tim Fitz (bass, production) and Harry Day (drums).
The single is out on Universal Music Australia.
The Holy – “I Don’t Know” (Helsinki, Finland)
RIYL: Manchester Orchestra, Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad
Don’t be fooled by the orchestral intro of “I Don’t Know” by Finnish band The Holy: that flourish of strings quickly becomes a bold rock sound. In fact, this song takes off as if fueled by rocket launchers. That full-throttle rush continues until the last note, making it one of the year’s most exhilarating anthems.
But beneath The Holy’s massive wall of sound lies deeper truths. The song addresses a topic that is too often ignored in music, despite its prevalence among musicians: bi-polar depression. Songs about mental health aren’t typical radio fare. But bands like The Holy tackle the subject with first-hand knowledge that increases its authenticity and makes listeners more receptive to its message:
“Like a distant cousin of Midas
I break everything I touch
In every relationship I give more than I get
I keep trying and trying
But it’s clearly not enough
I don’t know where to begin
When they call and ask me how I’ve been”
There is a reason we fell hard for this band when we shared their darkly brilliant “Land Before Time” in 2018. Since then their sound has grown even more dynamic, evoking the indie rock of Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad. “I Don’t Know” is an intense sonic therapy session, so crank it up for maximum benefits.
The Holy are: Eetu Henrik Iivari (lead vocals, guitar), Pyry Peltonen (guitar), Laura Kangasniemi (bass), Mikko Maijala (drums) and Eero Jääskeläinen (drums).
Aaron Frazer – “Over You” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Durand Jones & The Indications, Curtis Mayfield, Gil Scott-Heron
Last month we grooved to the sweet, soulful sounds of Aaron Frazer delivering “Bad News.” We loved that song and hoped for a follow-up. Now the Brooklyn-based crooner (and drummer for Durand Jones & The Indications) has granted our wish. He is setting our hearts afire once more with a fresh tune and news of his debut album, Introducing…
“Over You” takes listeners to a bygone era when music fans packed social clubs for epic dance sessions. Frazer’s rhythmic mastery is evident here as the beats are impeccable and energizing. But it’s his silky smooth vocals that have us predicting the album will rank high on critics’ Best of 2021 lists.
Frazer may channel old-school legends like Curtis Mayfield and Gil Scott-Heron at times, but his sound remains fresh and original. “Over You” ticks all the boxes for musical inspiration: northern soul, disco, and doo-wop. The result is an irresistible sound so powerful you’ll feel it deep in your bones. Put on your dancing shoes and let this soulful number move you.
The album arrives January 8th via Easy Eye Sound and Dead Oceans. Pre-orders are available from these links while the song is available digitally at Bandcamp. In the meantime, check out the timeless video for this track.
Abbie Ozard – “true romance” (Manchester, England)
RIYL: Lauren Hibberd, The Orielles, Gaffa Tape Sandy
Abbie Ozard has released the perfect end of summer track. It’s the song you spin while driving around on a warm sunny day. “True Romance” is a tribute to the Tarantino film of the same name. The overall vibe is dreamy, upbeat and has a bit of an 80s vibe akin to the Go-Go’s. Ozard does have a similarity in vocals to the legendary Belinda Carlisle.
One things for sure with “True Romance” it’s hard not to get moving with the dance ready beats that will have your mind and body ready for an exciting weekend. It might also cause you to re-watch the 90s classic movie and for all you women out there to imagine being Alabama (Patricia Arquette)
Abbie shares a bit more about “True Romance”:
“I feel like I’m constantly having some form of identity crisis; I watched True Romance and thought ‘fuck, i just want to be Alabama in this film’ and live this mad life with a cool leopard print coat on and purple converse. I want to be this character, with a cool life, and ride around in a pink Cadillac. Hopefully one day I’ll be happy with everything that’s going on and the way I am, but for now I’m just gonna carry on wishing I was in True Romance haha”
The single is out on LAB Records.
Duncan Fellows – “Feeling Down” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: American Wrestlers, Kurt Vile, Twin Peaks
Over four years ago a young band from Austin caught our ear. It’s been a while since we’ve shared anything from Duncan Fellows, but today is timely because their new album, Sadlands, is out today. The record is filled with ’90s and early ’00s indie pop-rock, so those who grew up listening to college radio will love it. If you have no idea what we’re referring to, then spin “Feeling Down”.
Like the fusion of American Wrestlers with Kurt Vile, the track is a feel-good, energizing number. From the hand claps and the stuttering rhythms to the jangly guitars, these melodies will lift your spirits. Heck, you might even be clapping in time to accentuate the positive vibes. But listen closely as frontman Colin Harman sings about how depression can be contagious. He tells of a friend’s depression which in turn has affected him. “I’m already feeling down / I would tell ya but I don’t know how”, he pleads to himself, hoping someone will hear him. The words are clever because depression is a silent killer, so it’s up to us to watch over our friends and ask if they’re okay. Through their music, Duncan Fellows are trying to do just this.
The bands includes Colin Harman, Cullen Trevino, Margot Stevenson, David Stimson and Tim Hagen.
Sadlands is available at the usual streaming and purchase platforms, or get it from your local record store.
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