On this special Election Day edition, The Matinee ’20 November 3 mini-playlist offers a reprieve from the politics. These 9 songs will take you back to simpler times, reflect on the important moments of your life, or send you to places only seen in our dreams. We kick things off with a Canadian who always creates magic.
Patrick Watson – “Lost With You” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: S. Carey, Leif Vollebekk, Sufjan Stevens
Few artists have the ability to leave listeners in complete awe with every song they’ve released. Montreal’s Patrick Watson is one of them, and for nearly two decades he has left mouths agape and minds drifting off in total wander. His music is simply beautiful and magical, as he not only stirs our deepest emotions but he also takes us to places that we only read in fairy tales. Once again, Watson takes us to Neverland, the Enchanted Forest, or wherever your childhood utopia was on “Lost With You”.
The song immediately grabs you from the opening piano chords, which are light, delicate, yet darkly mysterious. We are immediately sent to a far-away place, and once Watson’s gorgeous falsetto arrives we are suspended in this new reality. Softly he tells a short tale of two, long-lost lovers living in a collapsing world, where their future as a couple will be short. They are, however, going to cherish this moment for eternity. They will cherish the opportunity to be “ugly in each other’s arms, so we could go over all the things we were before”. The song, though, is more than just about love. It’s also about finding beauty and hope within these increasingly dark times. If we can find it, we will find our own fairy tale.
Tired Lion – “Cya Later” (Perth, Australia)
RIYL: Bully, Camp Cope, Middle Kids
Last month, Sophie Hopes, the mastermind behind Tired Lion, shared the ferocious “Lied to Me”, which was reminiscent of the angst-driven grunge of the early ’90s. The song was a reminder that powerful music still has a place in today’s cookie-cutter world. For that matter, such songs are more critical now if we are to collectively prevent the world from returning to the Draconian days and get back on the path towards progress. With one eye on the past and another on the future, Hopes delivers another timely single in “Cya Later”.
Although the Perth resident has dialed back the ferocity, “Cya Later” still leaves a lasting mark with its shimmering yet gritty grunge-pop approach and the urgency that rings from Hopes’ voice. In her trademark fashion, she does not beat around the bush. She, instead, gets straight to the point right off the bat when she sings:
“The air smells so different this year, are you over it?
What’s true and what is fake, I don’t see the point of it
Or something like that”
For the rest of the track, she attempts to make sense of the year, but like all of us she cannot. Until we can officially kiss 2020 goodbye, she encourages us to find a place where we can be free. Where we can still find the little joys in life, such as the music of one of Australia’s outstanding young stars.
Bleach Lab – “Never Be” (London via Buckinghamshire, England)
RIYL: Julia Jacklin, The Sundays, Mazzy Starr
We are firm believers that first impressions can last a lifetime. They can also cause people to become immediate fans of a band without having to even know anything about them. Such an effect, though, is rare. It takes an incredible song from a gifted group to cause us to proclaim our fandom and even rarer for us to utter the words, “Oh my gosh”, in our first introduction. This happened last week when we received a sneak peek at “Never Be”, which is the latest single from London-based Bleach Lab.
Originally from Buckinghamshire, the quartet of Jenna Kyle (vocals), Josh Longman (bass), Frank Wates (guitar), and Shawn Courtney (drums) have released only three songs prior to “Never Be”, hovering below the radar within the saturated UK music scene. This should change with this latest single because it is one of the most gorgeous and tenderly vulnerable tracks of the year. It is a heart-stopping, chest-swelling, breathtaking, dream-pop marvel.
Wates’ weeping guitar patiently rings throughout while Courtney’s feathery percussion and Longman’s fluttering bass gently guide the track through the emotional storm. They surround Kyle’s intoxicating voice, which possesses the intimate poignancy of Julia Jacklin and Hope Sandoval. She sings about a separation from the one she loved, as she left to pursue her dreams and he remained at home to pursue his own.
“I don’t want to, but I forget everything
I will look for you in everyone I meet
but I won’t find you
so I could never be complete”
Baby Strange – “More! More! More!” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: IDLES, Fountains D.C., Drenge
In 2017, a little trio blew our minds with their relentless energy and fiery lyrical prowess. If Baby Strange had arrived eighteen months later, they could have been part of the post-punk explosion, which saw IDLES and Fountains D.C. emerge as one of music’s most celebrated outfits of the past two years. That said, Johnny Madden, Connaire McCann, and Aidan McCann still have a very respectful following, but their popularity should be much greater. Aiding them on their cause are the excellent folks at Swedish label Icons Creating Evil Art (ICEA), and to celebrate this union the label is re-releasing a song from earlier in the year that somehow went under the radar.
Like everything Baby Strange has released in their career, “More! More! More!” is a pulsating, urgent, and jarring post-punk rock track. From the hammering percussion to the searing guitar to Madden’s piercing cry, the song reverberates with the desperation of a man clinging tightly to his last two dollars. His livelihood is about to come crashing down on him, and he has no plan to escape his pending doom. All he can do is feverishly rush around and crash into walls and other people, which is what this track might have you do if you were able to attend a small bar and mosh. Madden’s lyrics, too, recount this unlucky chap’s tale, hollering:
“You’re closing your eyes like you can’t see nothin’
In the dead of the night I see it
It’s coming, coming taking you home
Have you still got the meat on your bones?
Have you still got the whites left in your eyes?”
Here’s hoping that 2021 will be the year of Baby Strange.
Paige Valentine – “Fool” (Fremantle via Margaret River, Australia)
RIYL: Elena Tonra, Deep Sea Diver, Fenne Lily, Lana Del Rey
Back in June when we were first introduced to Paige Valentine when she released “Pure”, we commented that Australia had once again unearthed a hidden gem. How brightly this jewel of an artist will shine will be dependent on her future output. She could sparkle like a 24-carat diamond or wash away like a gold speck in the rising tide of new artists. The Western Australian resident obviously is glistening or otherwise we would not writing about her latest single, which is even more stunning and heart-stopping than the previous.
As a word of caution, we highly recommend that you sit down and listen to this track because “Fool” will drop you to your knees with its beautiful and raw emotion. As ’70s soft-rock flourishes fill the air and create a dreamscape, Valentine’s stunning vocals leave us in complete awe. Her delicate delivery draws us inside her mind, where she reflects on a relationship that is fraying at the seams. As her voice softly intensifies, our knees buckle as her pain and doubt overwhelm us. She says things we are often afraid to say and do:
“Was easy then just kids living out our lives
future’s in our hands and we never ran out of time
I told you all of my secrets
You said your mother thought we’d make it
And I don’t want to go if we’re only stalling again
You said you were my home now I’m living lonely again
And I’m a fool for everything
I’m a fool for everything”
Australia, you have not just unearthed a hidden gem but a future star.
Sumeau – “Samsara” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Widowspeak, Still Corners, Belle Mare
One of the first bands we covered was a little dream-pop outfit named Sumeau. Their music possessed an innate intoxicating characteristic that many bands attempt to replicate but with little success. Over time, the band founded by Kat Primeau and Chris Sousa have made their mark as one of L.A.’s hidden treasures. For those who have followed this space over the year, Sumeau are the West Coast’s version of Belle Mare, another under-the-radar and under-appreciated band who create magical music moments. Speaking of which, prepare for an extraordinary experience with Sumeau’s latest single, “Samsara”.
Taken from the Sanskrit word for “wandering” or “world”, the collective deliver a stunning psych-infused, dream-pop number that replicates the feeling of levitation. Primeau’s angelic voice floats through the calm and stirring melody, which is highlighted by the interplay between the swirling guitars and the deep pulses of the bass. As the rapturous music overwhelms you, Primeau shares the observations of the state of the world today through the eyes of someone in another dimension. She sees people drifting aimlessly, having petty arguments, and failing to look after each other. This is a world not made for the wandering mind, although the wanderers are the ones who just might save us from ourselves, freeing our minds from our self-created oblivion. And Sumeau are indeed wanderers.
The band includes Kat Primeau (vocals), Chris Sousa (bass), George Chammas (guitar), Dan Macken (keys), Harrison Lee (moog synth, cello, and trombone), Julia Chalker (violin), Molly Dworsky (backing vocals), and Alex Keenan (drums). The band’s new album, This is Not a Dream, is out November 13th. Get it on Bandcamp.
Boy With Apple – “Iceage” (Gothenburg, Sweden)
RIYL: Pinkshinyultrablast, Ringo Deathstarr, Lush
We were introduced to the shoegaze extravaganza of Boy With Apple back in June when they shared the shimmering “Green Eyes”. Hearing that song was like being transported to 1990 London just as shoegaze was about to explode. Oh those were not just simpler times but among the most creative periods in music history. It is, as such, great to hear a band channel the brilliance of Slowdive, Cocteau Twins, Lush, and My Bloody Valentine in their music and deliver transcendent shoegaze, which Saga Fransson, Zara Henriksson, Tim Hedlund, and Arvid Boström have done once again with “Iceage”.
You might want to close our eyes during this splendid single and breathe in every shimmering, fuzzy note and the dissonant but urgent vocals. In doing so, the track will take you to multiple places. It will send you back in time and the underground bars where the aforementioned great bands mastered their sound by constantly staring at their pedals and making little eye contact with the audience. It will also send you to the outer reaches of our galaxy, where the question of whether there is life out there lingering on your mind. Whether we are alone in this time that feels like an ice age.
The single is out on VÅRØ Records. Like we said five months ago, Sweden has delivered another exciting band to watch. They just need to deliver more music for everyone to know them.
Babeheaven – “In My Arms” (London, England)
RIYL: London Grammar, Gabrielle Aplin, Sade
Nancy Andersen and Jamie Travis are unlike most duos these days, as, via their project Babeheaven, they’re creating music that leaves you in a state of constant contemplation. Last month, they shared the glistening, psych-pop single, “Craziest Things”. While it had the air of summer, it was eye-opening for the brutal honesty of Andersen’s words. While she described her own struggles, her experience felt like ours. The duo once again make us feel like we’re not alone with “In My Arms”.
This time around, the duo slow things in order to touch our most inner thoughts and feelings. London Grammar-like trip-hop beats and the sultry R&B intimacy of Sade combine to create an endearing and intimate affair, and it is breathtaking. Through the spellbinding haze, Andersen reflects on losing someone she loved dearly. Her tale is one too many of us know all to well, and all we have left is their “spirit running through me”. All we can do is remember and wonder what was and could have been.
“I got to see
What’s inside your heart
I really want to know
I’m getting closer to the bones of you
I’m getting closer to the bones of you”
Babeheaven’s debut album, Home For Now, is out this Friday, November 6th. You can pre-order it here.
Bogan Via – “Come on, Thriller” (Phoenix, USA)
RIYL: Gary Numan, Danny Elfman, John Carpenter
Halloween may be behind us, but the eeriness and creepiness of 2020 still lingers all around us. The days getting shorter and the growing darkness sure do not help. As we attempt to get through the next two months and await 2021’s arrival, all we can do is endure and do whatever it takes to survive, channeling the courage of Laurie Strode and Sidney Prescott. Providing the soundtrack these final 60 days is Bogan Via with “Come on, Thriller”.
Like John Carpenter collaborating with Danny Elfman and Gary Numan, Bret Bender and Madeleine Miller share a creepily entertaining single. The dark, eerie beats, synths, and keys bellow in the background, creating the perfect atmosphere for a “mad, mad world”, as Bender states with his serrated vocal. Miller, though, is the hero of this story, as she arrives to save us from our impending peril. But can she? Or is she the next victim of this unforgiving world? Her angelic voice cuts through the bleak stillness, proclaiming:
“Us girls can fight to stay alive.
Stand up for my life.
Feels like blood on the knife.”
There are more lives for her to save because, like Freddy and Jason, our enemies seem to have never-ending lives. Let’s hope that changes soon.
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