An overseas invasion has taken over The Matinee ’20 November 30 edition, as 8 of the 9 featured artists and bands reside outside North America. Many of them have been featured in this space before to go along with a couple of newcomers, including one from Portland. All these songs offer the perfect pick-me-up after a long weekend.
Dead Naked Hippies – “Curiosity (Dawn)” (Leeds, England)
RIYL: Warpaint, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Savages
Since releasing their debut single, “Lights Out”, almost four years to the day, Dead Naked Hippies immediately put themselves on the UK indie radar. Their subsequent releases, including the face-melting “Young Male Rage”, had the likes of BBC Radio, DIY, and yours truly exalting about the trio’s potential to be the next Savages. Lucy Jowett, Joe Clarke, and Jacob Marston, however, have been fairly meticulous with their work, sporadically sharing new music. In the midst of a global pandemic, maybe the Leeds-based outfit will accelerate their production and finally unveil their much-anticipated debut album. We’re only speculating and explicitly hoping that “Curiosity (Dawn)” is the pebble that starts the tidal wave from this outstanding band.
Whereas their previous, fiery songs were guitar-driven, Dead Naked Hippies turn a page and dive into the world of Gothic, post-punk darkwave. The track is reminiscent of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ transformation on It’s Blitz!, where the canvas may have changed but the band’s intensity and poignant social commentary remains. As synths screech and a hypnotic rhythm section trembles, Jowett’s voice feels omnipresent. She fills every void in the swirling arrangement as well as within our minds, hollering words that we ask ourselves every day. She wonders aloud her purpose in this world, whether she is to be a good soldier or truly an individual.
“Out pour the words under bitter breath
I asked to breathe but they served me death
Tickle my nerves when I’m under threat
A nightmare that I won’t forget”
Can we have a lot more of this please!
Lagun – “Take Off” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Widowspeak, Amason, Tennis
Anyone who has followed the Swedish indie scene knows there is a distinct Scandinavian sound that masterfully meshes dream-pop, shoegaze, and indie pop and indie rock. The Cardigans kicked it off with bands like Amason, Makthaverskan, and Westkust following this century. Since then, a wave of young, talented bands have emerged, and the latest to arrive offers an East Coast USA vibe to the Nordic scene.
Ladies and gentlemen, get to know Stockholm duo Lagun. While we have little information about the pair other than their names (Laura Lyth and Fredrik Sjöström), all we can tell is that fans of Widowspeak, Tennis, Belle Mare, and La Sera will immediately gravitate to their psych-infused, dream-pop style as heard on “Take Off”.
Their second single is the sound of late autumn with its charming, breezy approach. Every element is delivered with a delicate touch akin to a soft caress that leaves chills down your back. As such, you may find yourself lying at an oasis in some distant place or ascending to the clouds. Wherever your mind wanders, this utopia is far away from where you are now. Even Lyth’s dreamy vocals offer us guidance about “leaving it all behind to fall through” and find our little sanctuary. Since we are limited in where we can go, our escape is in this song.
The Mighty Orchid King – “Bail Me Out” (St. Albans, England)
RIYL: Temples, early POND, early Tame Impala, The Phoenix Foundation
Way back in 2017 (which feels like an eternity), we named The Mighty Orchid King as one of our Favorite Hidden Gems. At the time, the band was just a quartet, but now it is a rotating collective of up to fourteen members. Such a large cast may seem unwielding, yet it also allows the St. Albans band to take psychedelic rock to new, exciting places. They did this with “Head”, which was one exuberant mental trip. Their latest single is still a buzz-saw, but the destination is a little bit closer to home.
“Bail Me Out” is a disco happening on a spaceship at warp space. It is an absolutely delirious affair that will leave all those in its wake losing control over their extremities and envisioning they are truly in a surreal place. What makes the song ingenious is its complexity. Commencing with strings, the immediate impression is a dark-pop tune is about to emerge. When the dual percussion, synths, and guitars arrive, we’re sent to the dance floor and the party begins. Here we “wash away” all our fears and concerns and seek safety from the turmoil around us . Although we may be confined to the indoors, we don’t have to be stationary. Our minds and souls can still be freed and reach an “eternal state” with a song like this.
The band consists of Jonny Bennett, Will Stephen, Martin van Heerden, Pete Martin, Matt Snowden, Marcelo Cervone, Michael Rea, Fred Sawyer, Jake Hodges, Matt Kerr, Arthur Sawyer, Matt Kersey, Steffan Rizzi, and Aurora Bennett.
Patricia Lalor – “This Man Thought He Saved Me” & “To Cope” (Wexford, Ireland)
RIYL: Radiohead, Thom Yorke, Alt-J, Fiona Apple, PJ Harvey
To call 14-year old Patricia Lalor a phenom or prodigy would be a disservice to her immense talent. Like many young artists, she started off sharing original songs set to either an acoustic arrangement or a pop-rock approach. Whereas many before would continue down this track and possibly detour towards Taylor Swift-like pop, Lalor seeks inspiration from other, unexpected sources for such a young individual. Earlier this year, she released Covers EP1, on which she shared renditions of songs from Mac DeMarco, Alex G, The Marias, and Radiohead. Exactly how many 14-years do you know idolize arguably the most influential and greatest band of the past 35 years? And then how many teenaged-artists, let alone well-seasoned veterans, can masterfully channel the Oxford legends?
“This Man Thought He Saved Me” reverberates with art-rock of Radiohead’s underrated Hail to the Thief, where despite the lo-fi approach the track stimulates your mind to recall moments of weakness. On “To Cope”, Thom Yorke’s solo and side projects, namely Atoms for Peace, can be heard, as the stripped-back electronica is hallucinating in its effect. Although the two songs demonstrate Lalor’s expansive artistic abilities, her songwriting genius remains. Beneath her vulnerable, delicate voice lies a songwriter unafraid to real the ugly truths. In this regard, she’s like PJ Harvey and Fiona Apple. On the former track, she reclaims her being despite what others want her to be. The latter is a continuation of this story, where she seeks to be treated not as an object but as an equal. The thing is, Lalor has no equal.
Lalor’s forthcoming EP, This Is How We Connect, While You Stand So Tall, will be released on her own label, Friends Don’t Lie Limited. Mind blown!
Mid City – “Good For It” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: The Killers, Gang of Youths, Kasabian
Australia is one of the few countries whose great artists and bands are not merely trying to entertain and sell records (or streams). The vast majority of them use their platform to tell great stories, communicate important messages, or both. Even when they create a booming, stadium-sized anthem, they still provoke, which is what Mid City have done with on their latest single.
After blowing us away in 2018 with the explosive “Old Habits” and in October with the indie-rock perfection “Liar Liar”, the Melbourne-based quartet once again tear the roof off with “Good For It”. With the exhilarating urgency of The Killers in their prime and the boisterous energy of fellow Aussies Gang of Youth, the song is intended to get people off their keisters and moving. And we’re not just talking about jumping and dancing in a jovial fashion, as front-man Joel Griffith, who is like a younger Brandon Flowers, sings about grabbing life by the horns and living it. About finding ways to improve ourselves even during these dreadfully dreary times and not allowing any obstacle to stop us from our destiny.
Mid City are Joel Griffith (vocals), Ben Woodmason (guitar), James Campbell (bass), and Tim Woodmason (drums). Someone needs to sign this band, so their incendiary indie pop-rock and uplifting messages can be heard. And here’s hoping The Killers bring them along on their next tour.
SKIA – “Feeling Fine” (Liverpool, England via Norway)
RIYL: Kim Petras, Robyn, Sigrid
Dance-pop artist SKIA returns with the perfectly upbeat, break-up song. Right from the start, “Feeling Fine” is laid-back yet dance-ready as the Norwegian recounts the feelings of a break-up or betrayal in a relationship and the courage to move on. So if you are feeling down or need a pick-me up with any current struggle, spin this track and get ready to move forward and manifest yourself into a better mood. SKIA’s poppy vocals and addicting beats provide the most positive vibes possibly needed to get through a rough patch in life.
SKIA explains a bit more about the track:
“This track is about rediscovering self-assurance, confidence and self-love after having felt low for a while. That ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ vibe where you’ve been lost and sad and then you slowly start feeling yourself again. It’s the feeling of getting over someone or something, moving on and starting fresh. It might be you feel betrayed or hurt by someone for something they did, but then realising life isn’t always fair, beating a dead horse is pointless, and you better let go, move on and focus on the good things in life. Before you know it, you’re feeling fiiine again”.
Talkboy – “Sky Is Falling” (Leeds, England)
RIYL: Band of Skulls, The Joy Formidable, The Kills
It’s Monday – the start to another week as cooler weather is fast approaching or, for many, already arrived. Yorkshire’s Talkboy has just the track to warm things up. There is nothing better to get your week started off with a raucous and rousing rocker that gets your blood pumping. The overall feel on their newest release “Sky is Falling” is frenetic yet nostalgic and definitely raises the temperature to get you in a cheery mood to finish that long-delayed work project or decorating for the holidays.
Discussing the track’s origins, Talkboy explained:
“We wanted to do a song that had more of an over-riding feel rather than a literal trail of thought. Not much seems to make sense a lot of the time but every now and again you get an oasis of calm when things just seem to be alright and The Beach Boys play in the background. For us, those moments mean so much because of all the stuff that transpires around it”.
Talkboy are Katie Heap (vocals), Calum Juniper (vocals), Tim Malkin (guitar), Charlotte Jones (keys), Tom Sargent (bass), and Jake Greenway (drums). Their upcoming EP, Wrapped in Blue, will be released February 11, 2021.
Beach Riot – “Blush” (Brighton, UK)
RIYL: Death from Above 1979, Queens of the Stone Age, Royal Blood
“Drenched in fuzz” is how Beach Riot describe their sound on their Facebook page. If their latest single, “Blush”, is an indication, there’s no doubt that that description hits the mark perfectly for the Brighton-based band. They’ve also released some other tracks this year, as well as a short, self-titled EP in 2018 that fit that bill quite nicely.
“Blush” is defined by a perfectly distorted bassline with some heavy driving drums, all of which is accompanied by lush, harmonized vocals. Add in some dreamy guitar work, and “Blush” is just tasty, blissed-out fuzz goodness. The song completely transcends with a scream, heading into a heavy-hitting chorus. It’s an absolutely infectious combination with a ton of roaring energy. Its ending moments build into an abrupt but cathartic explosion that leaves the listener wanting more. Luckily, we’ll get more in June of 2021, as Beach Riot will release their first LP, Subatomic Party Cool.
Beach Riot are Rory O’Connor (guitar, vocals) Cami Menditeguy (guitar, vocals), Jim Faulkner (bass, vocals), and Jonny Ross (drums).
Shaylee – “Audrey” (Portland, USA)
RIYL: Ravenna Colt, Mikal Cronin, early My Morning Jacket
Some songs take on a whole different meaning when you learn its history. In other words, it’s often very beneficial to read the liner notes that accompany a single’s release (that’s a note to ourselves as well). November 20th was Transgender Day of Remembrance – a day dedicated to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia and to draw attention to the continued violence experienced by transgendered people. Ten days ago, Elle Archer, who goes by the alias Shaylee, unveiled their newest single, “Audrey”, which will blow you away for its music and story.
On the former, the song is a reminder why we love going to concerts. It features two soaring parts with the last one reaching a rocking climax that echoes My Morning Jacket in their prime. The moment is just sheer awe. In a live setting, it would have every audience member screaming at the top of their lungs, thrusting their heads in sync to the rhythms, and losing themselves in this wonderful swell of rock.
Away from the sonic wonderland is the tale of a trans woman whose life came to an end far too soon. As Archer recalls, their girlfriend and roommate returned home with news that a local musician and trans woman named Audrey had committed suicide. Being an artist and trans woman, too, Archer was shocked. This event could have been Archer, who, too, has struggled for acceptance. In grief, this epic rocker was born, and it celebrates how great music can stir every emotion in our souls.
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