On this hump day, we’ve opted to share some mellower fare on The Matinee ’20 November 18. The mini-playlist still has a few rousing numbers, but on these mellow autumn days, we thought it might be best to cozy up by the fireplace with a beverage and just unwind. This first song is perfect for that.
Leif Vollebekk – “Long Blue Night” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Gregory Alan Isakov, Bon Iver, Jesse Marchant
When we are asked to recommend an artist to someone looking for a new favorite, certain criteria come into play. They must have strong vocals to grab the listener’s attention. Their style must include songwriting with vivid lyrical imagery to keep the listener engaged. And they must possess a certain degree of warm, magical charisma that draws the listener back time and time again. One artist who consistently meets (and always exceeds) those qualities is Canadian singer/songwriter Leif Vollebekk. There are a hundred reasons why we have sung his praises for years. But if his newest single is your introduction, let us summarize him this way: he makes music for exhaling. As “Long Blue Light” proves, his every song elicits a contented sigh.
This mellow ballad feels like coming home from a long journey. The reassurance his fireside vocals gives will warm you on the coldest night. Meanwhile the calming lyrics are exactly what you long to hear from the person who accompanies you on this road trip called life: “I’m on your side.” Keep this one on repeat wherever the journey takes you.
Vollebekk plays violin, guitar, bass, and harmonica) on this track along with Cindy Cashdollar (dobro) and Homer Steinweiss (drums).
Kinlaw – “Permission” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Kate Bush, Imogen Heap, Nite Jewel
As the days get shorter, darkness creeps earlier, and the hours we spend in confinement grow, we all need to take a timeout and just breathe. We just need to find a corner to hide, have a moment for ourselves, and collect our composure. No one should ever hesitate nor fear calling a timeout and looking after oneself. This is what performance artist, choreographer, teacher, producer, and composer, Sarah Kinlaw – or simply Kinlaw – enchantingly tells us on her new single, “Permission”.
Find that little hideaway of yours, put on your headphones, close your eyes, and listen to this spellbinding piece of dark indietronica. The song is like Kate Bush resurrecting herself in 2020 and returning to dazzle us with her dark, ethereal tones and a story that seems too close to our hearts. As the synths hum and encircle the skies, Kinlaw’s voice hovers at the center of the sonic vortex. Her voice is warm and intimate, yet it drips with an uneasy desperation. She, like us, is crumbling, but she has decided she no longer needs permission from anyone. Instead, Kinlaw will embrace who she is, including the white hair that “grows irresponsible” and all the habits she tried to get rid of as she’s gotten older. She’s tired of appeasing others; it’s time to take care of herself.
Kinlaw’s debut album, The Tipping Scale, will be released January 22, 2021 via Bayonet Records.
Issy Wood – “Cry/Fun” (London, England)
RIYL: Kalbells, Locate S,1, The Knife
In her young twenties, painter Issy Wood already had her artwork displayed in galleries across London and New York City. Before she turned 25, several art publications did spotlights on her with one naming her “An Artist to Watch”. Now 27 years old, her paintings sell for as much as $45,000, according to Forbes. The art world is her oyster, but the London-based artist is grandeur sights. Specifically, she seeks to expand her artistry to the world of audio and sound, where she can apply her vivid imagination to an industry that could use another jolt of creativity. Her debut single is, well, a work of art.
Check that, “Cry/Fun” is a brilliant piece of abstract expressionism disguised in the form of a twisting, swirling, and intoxicating multi-genre number. It is one part post-modern theatre, another part electro-funk, and many parts alt-disco. Its humble start eases us into Wood’s creative mind, as an electro-harp and Wood’s light, distant vocals welcome us. Then the groove builds as a throbbing, funky bass enters the fray. As our heads nod to the beat and become increasingly immersed into Wood’s sensual voice, the song turns once again. Suddenly, we are transported from bopping in our cars to dancing under the disco lights of Studio 54.
Wood’s artistry also applies to her clever songwriting. With the sharpness of Sylvia Plath and the coolness of Hunter S. Thompson, Wood shares with us her daily task to find sanity within the chaos. On one occasion, she says callously to herself, “Cause I’ve got a taste for pain and I’m sure I’d do it all again”. Later, she calmly sings, “But there’s only so much you can take if you cry when you’re having fun”. Better start collecting all of Wood’s art because the young lady is going to dominate multiple industries soon.
Wood’s musical journey commences December 4th, which is when her debut EP, Cries Real Tears!, will be released on Mark Ronson’s Zelig Records, an imprint of Columbia Records. View the claymation video on YouTube to see another side of Wood’s creative mind at work.
Pale Honey – “Friends” (Gothenburg, Sweden)
RIYL: Warpaint, Nelson Can, Beach House
Less than two weeks ago, Tuva Lodmark, Nelly Daltrey, and Anders Lagerfors, who comprise Pale Honey, released their new album, Some Time, Alone, via Bolero Recordings. For a band that made turned brooding into a spellbinding affair on their debut LP, Devotion, their sophomore output was even further stripped back yet equally enthralling. From the dizzying “Treat You Good” , the foreboding “Killer Scene”, and the groovy “Some Time, Alone”, the record showcased a band that knew how to get under your skin yet have you twisting under the glittering lights of a disco ball. Further demonstrating the trio’s ability to elicit contradictory responses is “Friends”, which is a heavy, synth-pop dazzler to remember.
With its taut yet infectious disco-driven beat and shimmering synths, the song creates the feeling one is floating in the air and drifting into a state of calm and relaxation. Lodmark’s voice is soft, and it only adds to this levitating sensation. Her words, though, say something completely different. She recalls a painful breakup that was marked by abuse. But instead of her being the victim, she is made to feel like the perpetrator, as she recalls:
“But would you leave it out when you tell everyone about us
So much went all wrong between me and you
Now that it’s done
You can tell all your friends without me around
You can take turns with everyone, you can tell all your friends”
Some Time, Alone is streaming everywhere. Get it on Bandcamp.
Madeline Finn – “Whippoorwill” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Lady Lamb
Madeline Finn released a record only a couple of months ago. Trial By Fire was a release that took inspiration from many different styles, and it ranged from introspective folk music to poppy rock music to a little alt-country. It makes sense, as Finn is a former top-70 American Idol finalist and also fronted a pop-punk band as well as an Americana band. Trial By Fire offered a lot, and it mostly showed the strength of Finn’s voice and her phenomenal songwriting. Even after recently releasing a record, Finn has just released a brand new single, “Whippoorwill”.
The imagery of a whipporwill is interesting. It’s a bird that has different legends associated with it, and many songs have been written about it. It is commonly associated with bad omens and death as well as being a recognizable sound of rural eastern United States. Finn’s “Whippoorwill” builds on her strengths. It’s a slow burner of a folk track with Finn’s voice front and center. A perfect undertone of bass, guitar and keyboard underneath Finn’s unwavering voice lay the groundwork for the slow build. As it builds, Finn’s voice gets more and more powerful in ways that tear at the heartstrings. It comes to an end in a big way.
Between “Whippoorwill” and her debut record, it feels like Finn may be poised to become one of the next big singer-songwriters.
The song is available on Bandcamp, where you can also find Finn’s complete discography.
Indira Elias – “Dreamy Youth” (Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: Hope Sandoval & The Warm Intentions, The Wild Reeds, Julia Jacklin
If it was possible to safely take a road trip, we would be in our car exploring the open road and feeling the wind blowing through our hair. Maybe a year from now we can all do this; in the meantime we can daydream about the possibility. Setting the scene for our imaginative, cross-country trek is Indira Elias and her ravishing new single, “Dreamy Youth”.
With touches of the sublime dreaminess of the Laurel Canyon era and the warm embrace of country folk-pop of the late ’70s and early ’80s, the Sydney-based singer-songwriter delivers a contemporary classic. Its gently sweet melody is smile-inducing while Elias’ voice, which possess the allure of Hope Sandoval and the slight infectious twang of a young Dolly Parton, is alluring. You just want to breathe in every word she sings, and her story is one for all of us daydreamers. She shares a memory of simpler times when she ran through the countryside. Those innocent days are now distant memories, but we long to feel the freedom of unconfined spaces and smell the lavender-touched air. Or for Elias, she wishes she “had kissed my rolling hills once more”. That makes two of us and probably plenty more.
The single is out on Elias’ own Loba Records label, and it’s available for purchase on Bandcamp.
Routine – “Calm and Collected” (Oakland & Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Jay Som, Chastity Belt, Black Belt Eagle Scout, Girlpool
In 2020, things have been far from routine. For Jay Som’s Melina Duterte and Chastity Belt’s Annie Truscott, it meant a cancelled tour and an uncertainty in the music industry. The duo released a wonderfully dreamy single earlier in the year, “Cady Road”, and announced their new project, Routine. It’s always exciting when great artists work together on a record, so hearing this got us excited to hear what would be next.
Their second single, “Calm and Collected”, does not disappoint. It’s a more laid-back affair with an underlying swell of strings beneath a hypnotic guitar part. The track builds, creating an ethereal moment as the song comes to a close. It’s a fitting end to a song about anxiety and overthinking things.
The duo’s debut debut EP, And Other Things, is out this Friday, November 20th. Pre-order are available here. Dead Oceans will release it as part of their newly-launched “Friends Of” series, which will support “dynamic and innovative collaboration”.
Aaron Frazer – “If I Got It (Your Love Brought It)” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Durand Jones & The Indications, Curtis Mayfield, Charles Bradley
Next week Americans will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, so it seems appropriate to share a song with a grateful message. “If I Got It (Your Love Brought It)” is the latest from indie soul artist Aaron Frazer from his upcoming debut album, Introducing... This upbeat number continues his winning streak of singles from the LP, including “Over You” and “Bad News.”
Good luck trying to sit still when you hear the sunny intro. Once that groove hits your ears, you will be powerless to resist its feel-good charms. Frazer brings old-school soul vibes to this Dan Auerbach-produced tune. Call it a sunny antidote to the gloom of 2020, but this ode of gratitude will do your heart good. Frazer’s falsetto soars over the brass-accented instrumentation in a way that will have you closing your eyes and smiling. It takes a special talent to find song inspiration while standing in line at the DMV. But that’s exactly what Frazer did in California. He spied a sign with the phrase “If you got it, a truck brought it.” That lyrical seed grew into one of the year’s sweetest tunes.
Pleasure Raft – “Words” (Copenhagen, Denmark)
RIYL: Radical Face, Pure X, Iron and Wine
Patience is a virtue, which is an old saying most people have experienced time and time again, especially recently. Musicians and artists have this down to a tee because success rarely comes over night. For that matter, crafting a great song seldom occurs instantaneously. It usually takes days, weeks, and even months for the song to reach its pinnacle. For Mathias Barfod, the mastermind behind Pleasure Raft, writing and mastering “Words” was a labor of love. It started off as a simple acoustic number, akin to what he had previously done. But instead of being satisfied with the original cut, he continuously worked at it and we are grateful he did because the end product is pure ecstasy.
Like Barfod’s own process, “Words” is a grower that requires patience. Its folktronica start is delicate and calm, capturing the feeling of spending idle days near the lake or in the vast expanse of the wilderness. The only soul around is yourself. In these experiences, an epiphany usually arises, and the song gets its own about two-thirds into the song. If you wait for this moment, the pay off is magnificent and unforgettable. As Barfod’s voice reaches heavenly heights and the soundscape turns into a fantasy, his message of holding on and not give up takes on greater meaning. If we can endure and wait a little longer, we, too, can receive our own epiphany.
Pleasure Raft’s debut album arrives early in 2021. If it’s anything like “Words”, Barfod could have an under-the-radar hit.
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