The Matinee ’20 November 25 is dedicated to “newcomers” – artists and bands being featured on our site for the first time. Many of these songs are actually debuts, so in that sense they are newcomers. However, we start the playlist with a rising star who wowed us with her debut single more than two years ago and is destined to become a superstar.
Arlo Parks – “Caroline” (London, England)
RIYL: Lauryn Hill, India.Arie, Connie Constance
Since releasing “Cola” almost two years to the day, Arlo Parks has captivated us with her smooth blend of R&B, soul, and pop and her brilliantly-conceived stories. She personifies the 21st Century independent artist – an individual who excels in all facets of the industry and understands that music is her platform to engage and document our history. And she’s barely 20 years old. Everything she touches is gold, including previous singles, “Green Eyes”, “Hurt”, “Black Dog”, and “Eugene”. All these songs will find their way on to her long-awaited debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams, which in all likelihood will be one of the finest albums of 2021. Further confirming this belief is “Caroline”.
Like everything she’s previously done, the silky smooth production and breezy R&B-pop vibes are stunning. The track is steeped in coolness, where heads will gently nod to the soulful beats while bodies will ease to Parks’ lush vocals. Whatever you do, however, keep your mind focused on what the young Londoner has to say. Her story is a devastating tale of rage, regret, and loss.
“Ripped the hem of her skirt as she ran
Panicking and weaving through the crowds on Oxford Street
Watched his world dissolve in his hands
Tried to roll a blem then put his head between his knees
Maybe if she took a breath
She would know I did it all for her
Agony and hints of sage Her eyes blind with disappointment
I couldn’t recognise her face
Shards of glass live in this feeling
Have to somehow stop her leaving”
This is what separates Parks from the pack: she has an unmatched ability to communicate, provoke, and leave us wanting more.
The Lounge Society – “Burn the Heather” (West Yorkshire, England)
RIYL: Talking Heads, Parquet Courts
The kids are alright: those lines from The Who ring true today, especially where The Lounge Society are concerned. This emerging indie rock outfit from West Yorkshire have all the markings of the Next Big Thing. One spin of their newest single proves that. Actually, you can tell that from the first ten seconds of “Burn the Heather” that these guys are future Glastonbury headliners in the making. The rest of the song will have you shaking your head wondering why they aren’t already bigger stars. Talent like this simply doesn’t come along everyday. So what’s so special about this lot? Pure talent.
From the opening riff they treat listeners to legit vintage vibes that evoke Talking Heads one moment and The Velvet Underground the next. You might expect those influences in a band of middle-aged guys, right? What might shock you is that The Lounge Society are actually four teenagers who draw from a deep well of musical knowledge. But their sound is not limited to ‘70s-era inspiration: you also hear plenty of modern post-punk edge in both their energy and razor-sharp delivery. Imagine being at a festival where you hear David Byrne on one stage and Parquet Courts and Fontaines D.C. from distant stages. That perfect fusion of old and new is what The Lounge Society offer. It’s simply astounding how great they sound after only releasing their debut single earlier this year.
We suspect 2021 will be a breakthrough year for this band. Hopefully a full album is coming soon. Until then, UK fans can look forward to seeing The Lounge Society in the spring. A list of tour dates is posted here.
The Lounge Society are: Cameron Davey (vocals, bass), Herbie May (guitar), Hani Paskin-Hussain (guitar), and Archie Dewis (drums).
The single is out on Speedy Wunderground.
Ellereve – “If Only” (Munich, Germany)
RIYL: Emma Ruth Rundle, Elena Tonra, Chelsea Wolfe (acoustic)
There are two sides to every story. Every coin has two sides. These famous quotes advise us to never jump to conclusions and that people are more complex. We just need to be patient and give them the time and opportunity to reveal all of their colors. For singer-songwriter Elisa Giulia Teschner, she began her music career as the front-person for indie synth band Varo. After an EP and a couple of singles, she’s embarking on a solo career under the alias Ellereve, where shows a different side to her musicianship. Instead of filling concert halls with sonic energy, she has opted to fill with minds and souls with a trembling but beautiful darkness that recalls the brooding and bleak folk-rock artistry of Emma Ruth Rundle.
“If Only” is meant to be heard in the dim confines of your living room at dusk and a stiff drink in your hand. The weeping strings, the waning guitar, and hollow rhythmic pulses are the sound of the approaching night, where your thoughts begin to overwhelm you. Where you begin to slowly lose control. Teschner’s stirring yet vulnerable voice, though, is the shallow light by which we stay grounded. She, too, shares her own struggles in being whole in a time of solitude and isolation. She reminds us that we are not alone in simultaneously confronting the fears before us and fighting the demons inside us that make us “feel nothing”. This song, however, will make you once again feel everything.
Teschner’s debut EP, Heart Murmurs, is out this Friday, November 27th.
YO KINKY – “Someone I Used To Know” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Metric, Warpaint, Le Tigre
Nearly two decades ago, a young band from Toronto quickly emerged to become a dominant force in Canadian music. Metric was the band, and their anthemic brand of electro-rock and angst-driven lyrics made them a hit with a generation that grew up on grunge and alternative and a younger population that was diving into electro-pop. Their popularity would also extend stateside and across the pond, making them one of Canada’s most successful exports of the early 21st Century. Could this same formula lead to stardom for Laura Wight and Tom Unis’ project, YO KINKY? Time will ultimately be the judge, but if they continue to write engaging, infectious, and smart tunes like “Someone I Used To Know”, they should experience a “Metric-oric” rise in the near future.
Get up, put on your headphones, wear your mask, and let’s go for a stroll because this song must be heard in the open air. With the steely, shoegaze-drenched guitars and surging synths and keys, the track will have you walking confidently and in time to the bubbling 808s. Exactly where you will go is up to you, but Wight’s playful lyrics will offer some direction and you might want to seek out an old friend and someone who bullied you and now you want to show them who you’ve become.
“I know you and I are gonna have a right time
For the bad tastes of me humor
We’ll kick the rat race
Enjoy the rumors
Blood and guts on the walls my friend
No time to pretend
Don’t hit the brakes instead
Hug your best friend”
View the ’90s-style video on YouTube. The duo’s self-titled debut EP is expected in 2021.
POOLS – “Walk” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Hozier, Tall Tall Trees, The Tallest Man on Earth
In these dark days, can salvation be found? Are we able to reclaim the humanity that we’ve lost over the past four years, as we’ve embraced lies and misinformation and now a pandemic? Can we be redeemed? Hopefully, eventually we will be forgiven and whole again, and it begins today. It begins with a slow march to wherever we seek redemption, and the song that guides us is “Walk” from Swedish newcomers POOLS.
The project of Arvid Hällagård and Fredrik Forell, the duo have crafted a song that will haunt your mind for days to come. It is a Gothic-folk masterpiece that should be the theme song for the next season of True Detective or any serial series that intends to provoke, enrapture, and startle. POOLS’ story, however, isn’t steeped in the unbelievable or the sensational. Their tale is grounded in the here and now, in the prisons we have created ourselves and cannot escape. Through the stark, mournful approach, Hällagård sings:
“There’s still a glimpse of faith, but I sigh
A man with case of hate, showed us why
And who decides, what is in store
We need to suffer yet, she made sure
So please good lord still hold my hand
As I walk on by her old lands”
The single is out on Something Beautiful Recordings. Here’s a band to watch closely in 2021.
Heartworms – “What Can I Do” (London, England)
RIYL: Savages, Alice Glass, The Murder Capital
As we emerge from the cold waters of baptism, we now head to the dank, grimy, dark caverns of London’s underground. Our spirits may be redeemed, now it is time to revitalize our souls but in the usual way. That is, we’re not seeking bright, sunny pop tunes nor blissful dreamgaze. Instead, we seek crippling disco-punk because its trembling, foreboding sound will open our eyes to reality. When coupled with lyrics that pull back the curtain that cover our eyes, we can start to see the whole picture.
With her debut single, “What Can I Do”, musician and poet Jojo Orme, via her project, Heartworms, initiates the process to our recovery. As the synths swirl around the stark bass line and the gloomy guitar riffs, we feel like we’ve entered into purgatory or possibly at the gates of hell. We’re far from these places, however, but rather this is Earth. This is our home that we set ablaze. As the madness and fires steadily grow, Orme emerges like an archangel to save us. She sings:
“As I reach out to the sky
Spirits in a settlement
And the seagulls will not fly
If I decide to stay behind”
She is our salvation, our awakening. And this is just the beginning for the talented young artist.
Total Brutal – “Egypt” (Los Angeles, CA)
RIYL: Icona Pop, Ella Vos, Apollonia
Long-distance travel is an iffy proposition at this time, and many of us are itching to be able to explore this fascinating planet. For now, all we can do is daydream about the possibilities and plan for the day when it is safe to get on a plane and take a holiday. Helping us to pass the time and wonder about where we’ll go next is multi-instrumentalist Emily Moore’s project, Total Brutal, and her throwback new single, “Egypt”.
For those who grew up in the ’80s like us, you’ll be taken back to the days when the likes of Apollonia, Sheila E., and Sheena Easton were dropping funky electro-pop tunes, which were heavily influenced by Prince. Like the Purple One’s classics, the song is a groovy, catchy earworm that will stay in your head all day. You just might find yourself dancing, skipping, and bopping your head even when the song isn’t being played. It’s that infectious. As we lose ourselves in the retro vibes, she reminds us to dream big and not allow anything to “rain on my parade”. When we do get to travel, we won’t be just taking “another holiday”, we will be liberating our spirits and our souls. We will once again feel alive.
If you’re heading away this weekend, add this tune to your road-trip playlist. At the very least, it will keep you awake, alert, and raise your anticipation of bigger and better things to come. This point also applies to Moore’s future.
The Heavy Hours – “Desperate Days” (Cincinnati, USA)
RIYL: J. Roddy Ralston & The Business, The Felice Brothers,
Lots of Americans will be on the road this Thanksgiving weekend, if only for a change of scenery. Because in these unprecedented times, most of us are jonesing for a good old-fashioned road trip. No matter your destination, “Desperate Days” from Cincinnati indie rockers The Heavy Hours is the ideal song for just such occasions.
This four-minute anthem packs a steady wallop of feel-good power chords and pure American rock & roll swagger. Don’t let the subdued intro fool you: the mellow acoustic strumming of the first thirty seconds soon takes a back seat to full-throated jamming. Much like the southern rabble-rousers like Futurebirds and J. Roddy Walston & The Business, these guys know how to keep listeners fully engaged. Here they dial it down on the verses while still offering a glimpse into just how loud they can crank it when the time is right. Towards the end they continue that sonic tease without fully unleashing their fury. All this does is make us more excited to hear what else is coming from Michael, AJ, Jon and Ian further down the road.
When these desperate days end and live music returns, we hope to see The Heavy Hours selling out independent venues all across North America. We suspect that’s where their energy is best experienced.
The single is out now on S-Curve Records.
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