Halloween may be next week, but The Matinee ’20 October 23 edition is full of surprises. Grab your earphones or turn up the speakers and enjoy these sonic treats.
The Besnard Lakes – “Raindrops” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: POND, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets
When your band’s sound is known for sweeping textures and epic emotional resonance, simple album titles just won’t do. So it’s no surprise that Canadian indie folk darlings The Besnard Lakes opted for an equally descriptive name for their upcoming sixth studio LP. The Besnard Lakes Are the Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings follows their penchant for self-descriptive albums and the only output we’ve heard from them since their 2017 EP, The Besnard Lakes Are the Divine Wind.
The album’s lead single finds Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas at the peak of their creativity. “Raindrops” is a lush exploration of melancholic tones paired with hazy harmonies. It’s the kind of fever dream you have on a cool evening at the beach as a storm approaches. The breezy tones lull you into a hypnotic state of bliss while the lyrics come to life:
“I’ll pour wine on these mountains
Comb through these clouds…
I can feel the raindrops falling down
By the light of the moon, I hold onto stars…
In frustration we come back to the sea and to the land”
We are excited to hear what else is in store on this next album. Pre-orders are available here ahead of its release next January 29th. It will be released by Flemish Eye (CAN), Fat Cat Records (US), and Full Time Hobby (rest of the world).
The Besnard Lakes are: Jace Lasek, Olga Goreas, Richard White, Sheenah Koh, Kevin Laing, and Robbie MacArthur.
Steady Holiday – “Living Life” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Ben Gibbard, Phoebe Bridgers, Anna Burch
Through her project Steady Holiday, Andrea Babinski has earned the reputation for creating goosebump-inducing, freaky tales through enrapturing soundscapes. Imagine watching The Exorcist play out on the gorgeous landscapes of Europe’s Alps and that was Babinski’s music in a nutshell. Not even Quentin Tarantino could make such astounding contrasts. For instance, her 2018 LP, Nobody’s Watching, was a brilliant compilation of vignettes of living in a topsy-turvy, surreal world. It is vividly imaginative and sonically stunning. She may, however, have turned a new page or more accurately started a whole new volume to her career if her new single is any indication.
On “Living Life”, Babinski pulls back the curtains and lets the light in. She sets aside the bone-chilling effects and replaces them with chest-swelling, sun-blissed euphoria, and the outcome is wonderful. The piano and rhythms strut with a positive urgency while Babinski’s calm voice soothes like a cool breeze on a hot summer’s day. The song, as such, is not just reinvigorating, but it is liberating. It is exactly what we need in today’s unforgivingly bleak world. Babinski’s encouraging words, meanwhile, guide us to her newly found destination:
I’ll give up that clever touch
It only led me further from the things I used to love
So sing with me in that simple key
The one that everyone can somehow find their way around in
This is living life
This is who I am tonight
Steady Holiday’s new album, Take the Corners Gently, is expected in February 2021. This single is available on Bandcamp for purchase.
ONES – “The Only Living Girl in LA” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: M83, Still Corners, Chromatics
Hurry up and be one of the first people to get on ONES‘ bandwagon because this collaboration is going to quickly be one of the biggest buzz outfits from Los Angeles in a very short time. Right now, they don’t have many followers, so here’s your chance to say you were a trendsetter and tastemaker. Why will should you follow them? For starters, the band includes Poolside producer Alex Kemp and Grizfolk drummer Bill Delia. Vocalist Camron Palmer rounds out the trio, and her voice is one that you will never tire to hear. Instead, you might even make it your ringtone or alarm because it leaves you in a state of utter bliss. Blissful is exactly what ONES’ debut single is.
“The Only Living Girl in LA” is simply extraordinary. It takes synth-pop to a whole new dimension. Specifically, it leaves your mind in a complete haze yet you want to dance. The song commences innocently with a calm yet seductive mood established by the sultry rhythms and the lingering guitar. In the background, Palmer softly “oohs” before fully arriving. As the track slowly intensifies and begins its ascent to the heavens, her voice rises and she delivers an empowering anthem of autonomy and control. Of women’s power and independence.
“Don’t need no one to take me home
I like the way I feel on my own
And if I fall apart, the pieces of my heart and I
don’t need no one to feel whole”
But ONES have made us feel complete today and just in time for the weekend.
The Twilight Sad – “Tell Me When We’re Having Fun” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: The Cure, Mogwai
When the Scottish indie rock outfit The Twilight Sad recorded their epic No One Can Ever Know album in 2012, they created a special kind of magic. The album cemented their burgeoning status as masters of brooding rock. One particular song from those sessions was never released despite being a fan favorite in their live shows. Yesterday the band finally shared the once-lost “Tell Me When We’re Having Fun” for streaming and purchase.
What you hear in this slow burning banger is the pure emotion that James Graham is known for. His vocals soar over the understated piano intro and stuttering percussion. The storm clouds that form during that quiet beginning hint at a turbulence that never fully arrives. As fans now know, that sonic fury was unleashed on their 2019 album, It Won/t Be Like This All the Time. But here the band maintained minimal fervor, a strategy that kept the focus on Graham’s delivery of these gripping lyrics:
“Can you tell me when we’re having fun
With your eyes on everyone
You tell me that you’re such a liar
You’ve never felt so alive
I’ll tell you that you cannot go
Now I’ve lost my hold
Your feelings seem to come and go
Now I’ve lost my hold”
If you have never experienced the electric rush of a Sad performance, crank this tune. It will give you a taste of what you’ve been missing and a preview of what’s to come when live music resumes. The band have shows planned for 2021 with details listed here.
Gary V – “Black Cloud” (Los Angeles, USA via Durban, South Africa)
RIYL: Prism Tats, Crowded House, DIIV
Have you ever had a friend recommend a band to you repeatedly before you finally listened? You tell yourself you’ll check out the album they keep raving about, if only to shut them up. When you finally push play, you finally realize what the fuss was all about. One of those artists for us is Gary V (previously Prism Tats). This Los Angeles-based South African artist creates highly addicting synth-rock. Last month we shared the lush dream-psych single “Eternal Return (Deja Vu)” ; his newest single is equally stunning, albeit in a different direction.
“Black Cloud” builds steadily from a straightforward start. The bright synths and steady tempo get you moving. That intro may take some back to the mid-’80s when Crowded House ruled the airwaves. Gary V’s falsetto bears a striking resemblance to Neil Finn here. This adds to the track’s nostalgic charm while revealing more of his kaleidoscopic talents. Trust us when we tell you: Gary V is one artist you need in your playlists right now. His fusion of vintage New Wave synths with modern dream-rock elements makes for a timeless sound. Before you know it, you will be the one telling all your friends about this hidden musical gem. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world recognizes his brilliance.
TOLEDO – “Challenger” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Trace Mountains, Hovvdy, Alex G
TOLEDO are relative newcomers to the indie music scene. Last year the Brooklyn-based chill-vibe purveyors dropped a great EP, Hotstuff. On the surface, they’re a band who don’t take things too seriously, and wear that as a badge of honor. However, when you dive into their music you see that they’re creating honest, intelligent, and wonderfully inviting music.
This week, TOLEDO released “Challenger”. This is a gorgeous track with great harmonies and a dreamy layer of reverb on its vocals. TOLEDO say the song is about “fighting to protect what is precious to you.” This message serves as a reminder about how important it is to protect things like music, especially right now. It also comes with a nostalgic video that fits the vibe of the song quite well.
“Challenger” is out now and streaming on Spotify. It will be part of TOLEDO’s upcoming EP, Jockeys of Love, which arrives January 29th.
Haulm – “Calm the Waves” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Thom Yorke, Haux, Phoria, Radiohead
Radiohead have inspired generations of artists and bands, though few have been able to replicate their genius. More accurately, no one has, as the Oxford, UK collective are incomparable. Then unexpectedly, someone arrives on the scene that comes close to matching Radiohead’s sonic brilliance – or at least noticeably draws inspiration from them and creates a song that leaves you in awe at its sonic brilliance and lyrical power. This is what relative “newcomers” Haulm have done with “Call the Waves.”
The duo of singer JT Norton and producer Reed Kackley have concocted near perfection. The bleak tones that emanate from the steady synths and beats form a dimension that sounds like the flip side to our reality. Label it the Upside Down, as referred to in Stranger Things, but this place is surreal yet believable. It is stark and haunting yet magnetic. Norton’s hypnotic voice is what imprisons us in this place. His voice barely waivers, which adds to its gravitational pull. As we sit in suspended motion, Norton tells a story of madness overcoming those who are supposed to lead and the perilous feeling of powerlessness sweeping through the entire population. This alternative reality may not be so “alternative” because we’re living in it right now. Because indeed “apathy has an appetite for a taste for blood” and “this is us, a line of fools waiting for everyone to eat.”
Alexander Biggs – “Low” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Sufjan Stevens, Andy Shauf, Radical Face
They say first impressions can last a lifetime, something we learned more than four years ago when we were introduced to the dream-folk of Alexander Biggs. Although the Melbourne-based artist is not a household name overseas, his mix of Sufjan Stevens’ melodic grace and Nick Drake’s intimate storytelling has seen him receive airtime on Australia’s Triple J. All Biggs needs is an album followed by a tour (perhaps with Bon Iver or Sharon Van Etten), and his popularity will skyrocket. The former is coming, as his long-awaited debut, Hit or Miss, arrives February 3rd, 2021. The latter remains in question for obvious reasons, so for now people should sit back, discover this incredible talent, and enjoy songs like “Low”.
Like Sufjan, Bon Iver, and Radical Face, Biggs has crafted breathtaking magic. The song is delicately arranged, as the easy strum of the guitars and the soft, stuttering rhythms merge to create a serene yet intoxicating space. It’s like stepping over a ridge and seeing the grandest vista. Its beauty stops you in your place as you take in its grandeur. There are always a couple of things that grab your attention, which, in this case, are Biggs’ striking falsetto and relatable storytelling. He sings about a young woman who is alone in body and soul. She struggles living day-to-day and trying to find meaning in her life. Biggs is there to try to get her out of her doldrums. This song will just do that for you – make you see the beauty in the simplest things again.
Get to know this incredible talent.
MIYNT – “Give me palm trees and inner peace” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Veruca Salt, Death Valley Girls, Nirvana
Today’s playlist is quite the reunion, as we’ve featured songs from several artists who graced these pages years ago. The name-dropping continues with the return of Swedish throwback artist MIYNT, who has long forgone the easy path to indie success. Instead of creating music for dance halls, she’s opted to take us back to when the most popular rock bands played in cramped, dank bars with audiences hovering right over them. Those were the days when the crowd was part of the musical experience, something the Stockholm-based artist replicates on “Give me palm trees and inner peace.”
This psych-infused grunge number sounds like it could have been written in Seattle during the early ’90s. A quiet assertiveness rings through the gritty reverb that echoes Nirvana’s angst-driven classics. At the same time a playfulness is heard, recalling Veruca Salt’s and Sleater-Kinney’s ability to chop down the elite and misogynists with light-hearted yet cunning lyrics. In this case, MIYNT seeks simpler times away from the capitalist and materialist values that govern our daily lives, which is the situation today even in the midst of a global pandemic. Our leaders are so concerned with “making money” that they’ve forgotten what truly matters. But maybe one day they’ll wake up and realize what we need right now are palm trees and inner peace. It’s a nice thought, isn’t it?
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