End the week on a high and spin The Matinee ’20 December 4. The mini-playlist features songs that will get the heart pumping, the mind wandering, and chests swelling. There’s even a holiday song! Have a safe weekend everyone. If you have time, please give our our Songs of December playlist on SoundCloud and Spotify a follow.
Gustaf – “Design” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Ganser, Cable Ties, Shopping
Back in October, a little band from Brooklyn blew us away. Literally, every cell in our body was exhilarated by Gustaf‘s bad-ass single, “Mine”. The track was a reminder of how post-punk could not just make you lose your shit but also dance. It was the first single of a 7″, split record that is released today on Canadian indie label Royal Mountain Records and available for purchase here or directly on Bandcamp. Although they could have had people buy the record to hear the other side, they have gone against the trend and shared the track. When it’s as clever, catchy, and cathartic as “Design”, the song needs to be heard by all instead of buried in secrecy.
Whereas “Mine” had people dancing, “Design” will have the audience bopping and contorting their bodies in unexpected ways. Only a track that has a kazoo-like noisemaker sizzling through the throbbing, funky bass line and the infectious cow bell can achieve such an effect. Front-woman Lydia Gammill’s assertive vocals and lyrics, too, add to the off-kilter but amusing approach. With an eagle eye, she comments on how people react and adjust to “terrible things”. They recoil and hide, steal other people’s ideas to cope, or live vicariously through others. Her commentary is brilliant because each and every day is filled with lies, some of which are of our own doing.
Gustaf are: Lydia Gammill (vocals), Tine Hill (bass), Tarra Thiessen (vocals, percussion), Melissa Lucciola (drums), and Vramshabouh Kherlopian (guitar, vocals). This is a band to watch in 2021.
Yung – “Such A Man” (Aarhus, Denmark)
RIYL: Iceage, Fontaines D.C., METZ
The great Iceage have held a monopoly as Denmark’s greatest post-punk / alt-rock export for nearly a decade. They’re about to have some company very soon because Aarhus-based Yung are about to challenge them for the crown. Or maybe they’ll share the mantle, which is the Danish way. That said, the quartet of Mikkel Holm Silkjær, Tobias Guldborg Tarp, Frederik Nybo Veile, and Emil Zethsen are one of the most exciting bands to come out of the country over the past half decade because their music is not just cathartic but it is intelligent. Their previous single, “Above Water”, was pure indie-rock awesomeness while their latest is a sheer force of nature.
Strap in, put on a helmet, and let the rage of “Such A Man” overwhelm you with its blistering intensity and Silkjær’s hard-hitting lyrics. As the dual guitars ignite the air with their electricity and rhythms wage war against the air with their thunderous blows, Silkjær’s voice pierces through the sonic storm. He delivers a tale of a man who epitomized the archetype male trying to cope with failure and pain. Since he was a young child, he was taught to be stoic and strong, and any sign of emotion was a sign of weakness. But now he is about to fall as his marriage crumbles and he’s about to lose his job, and he only knows one way to deal with everything. That is through “self-inflicted wounds”, as “his face is scarred with shame”. It’s a brilliant song by a brilliant band.
Samm Henshaw – “All Good” (London, England)
RIYL: D’Angelo, Leon Bridges, Bruno Mars
If the album art doesn’t put a smile on your face (and it’s inspired by an actual photo according to the not-so-fine-print), then Samm Henshaw‘s newest tune, “All Good”, will. Well, it should because it is absolutely the kind of classic ’70s, funky, R&B track we could use in our lives.
As was the case with his first and only two EPs, Sound Experiment and Sound Experiment 2, which were both released in 2016, “All Good” is, well, so good. Even in these cool December days, it will make you take out the convertible for a spin and feel the air blow through your hair. Or take a bike ride, roll down the windows to your sedan, or go for a stroll to feel the same thing. All the while, you’ll be bopping your head to the infectious bass line, cutting a few moves to the sweltering vibes, and maybe even do some air trumpet. Henshaw’s lyrics, too, will have you smiling and feeling lucky to be alive:
“It’s all good
Wait a minute I’ve got joy in my spirit
I’ve got money in my pocket and some season for my chicken
Why am I stressing?
Won’t even address it, leave my problems on my night stand
Worries on my dresser seem like desert, bigger picture
But I already knew that”
Oddnesse – “Hot Air” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Land of Talk, Sjowgren, Sumeau
If we started a list of American, musical hidden gems, Rebeca Arango and her project, Oddnesse, would be near the top of the list. Somehow, some way, the LA-based artist continues to hover under the radar despite a half-decade of creating first intimate, ’80s synth-pop and more recently chest-swelling dream-pop. Despite her anonymity at a global scale, she continues to do what she loves most. Eventually, her time will come, and hopefully it will be soon because songs like “Hot Air” should be heard by all.
While the days get cooler, Arango warms up the air with this stunner of a guitar-pop tune. From the jump, the song leaps out of your speakers and headphones and fills your mind with the breezy blissfulness of Venice Beach. Like being on that famed L.A. destination, all you can do is smile and take everything in. Take in the jangly guitar line, the plucky bass line, the stuttering drums, and the occasional sparks of the keys. What lifts your spirit, however, is Arango’s soothing vocals and her contemplation of our purpose in the universe.
“Skipping into the fire slick as a salamander
You want eternal life your blood must be surrendered
And at the end of time you’ll get a house on Saturn
Much as they rack their minds your neighbors can’t remember”
Her words may be abstract, but at the same time they encourage us to ponder the impossible.
The single is out on Make More Records.
MIYNT – “A bite of papaya” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: La Femme, Yumi Zouma, Men I Trust
The term “chameleon” gets thrown around often in the music world, but some wear that praise as badge of honor. Swedish artist MIYNT is one of them. Like some of the legends before her, the young woman, who first opened our eyes and ears with her sensational cover of Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time”, has done everything from breezy pop (“Birds”) to even Nirvana-esque grunge (“Give me palm trees and inner peace”). From the dank rock bars of Seattle, she takes us to the glimmering disco halls of New York and Paris on “A bite of papaya”.
There is a noticeable “organic” element to MIYNT’s music. It’s not just in her song titles, but it also exists in her art. She an effortlessly craft ear-popping melodies yet also kept your mind interested with her relatable songwriting. On “A bit of papaya”, the neo-psychedelia of Tame Impala melds with the disco-pop that bands like La Femme and Men I Trust have rekindled for contemporary audiences. The result is an intoxicating experience that feels like we are slowly ascending up the vortex of a twister, as if we are Dorothy and Toto. Instead of experiencing fear, we are exhilarated. We feel alive as we dance towards the skies and the warmth of the sun that awaits us.
MIYNT’s lyrics, too, indicate the oncoming liberation. We don’t, however, need to look up to the heavens. On the contrary, we’ll find it in ourselves and within each other. So ladies and gentlemen, just dance the night away with MIYNT as your guide.
The single is out now via B3SCI Records.
Shame – “Snow Day” (London, England)
RIYL: Bambara, Blinders, Fontaines D.C., METZ
In their short career, Shame have blown the lids off venues and people’s heads with their blistering post-punk that often had front-man Charlie Steen hollering with Kurt Cobain-like angst. The band’s music was and still is very much like what Nirvana offered, but it’s delivered through a different sonic prism. Steen, Eddie Green, Charlie Forbes, Josh Finerty, and Sean Coyle-Smith, however, are not one-trick ponies. They are shape-shifting artists, who can unleash a classically-frenetic punk anthem in “Alphabet” or a manic, off-kilter, new wave-drench tidal wave in “Water in the Well”. Now we can add eerie, brooding, and suspenseful to our vernacular in describing the band because they head to dark, trembling corners with “Snow Day”.
This stark, menacing track takes Nick Cave’s dark rhapsodies into John Carpenter territory. Musically, the track is brilliantly restrained at first, creating a disturbing melancholy that causes you to carefully peer over your shoulder to see if someone is watching. Steen’s voice is subdued and monotone, as he takes on the persona of a man sitting on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere. Here, he can wallow alone in his own despair and experience the tumult in his mind. Forget monsters, goblins, and ghosts, nothing is more frightening then the demons that exist within. As our hero’s personal turmoil overtakes him, Steen wails in desperation, trying to free himself of his self-inflicted pain.
“And I’m not looking for anything
Well, not really
You see I know what I need
I just haven’t got it yet
I just have to close my eyes
And I could almost taste it
The fresh air of freedom
I just have to close my eyes”
Miss Grit – “Dark Side of the Party” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Torres, St. Vincent, Madeline Kenney
While Margaret Sohn attended NYU for music technology, she found a desire to create effects pedals. There’s something fascinating about transforming a clean guitar tone into something gritty, something sharp. Perhaps that’s where she too the name Miss Grit from. Whether or not, the Korean-American musician understands the science behind sounds like few else. Last year’s Talk Talk EP is an example of that.
This week, Sohn has announced a new Miss Grit EP, Impostor and has shared “Dark Side of the Party”, its first single. Its ethereal intro is cut through by a St. Vincent-esque guitar hook, full of fuzzy distortion. The track breaks down into just drums, bass, and Sohn’s voice, harmonizing and reverbed, before big distorted chords break through. Lyrically, Impostor is about trying to find the place you fit in, and “Dark Side of the Party” tackles the feelings of feeling out of place at a party. Sohn has also stated that the record is named for impostor syndrome, and decided that she needed to have complete control of the creation of this record. Perhaps the grit name doesn’t just represent the layers of guitar effects, but Miss Grit’s determination.
Impostor is out February 5th. You can pre-save the EP here.
Landlady – “Supernova” (Brooklyn, NY)
RIYL: Rubblebucket, Dirty Projectors, Islands
Adam Schatz has a bit of a reputation in the Brooklyn scene. His unrestrained creativity and talent has made him a contributor to bands like Man Man, Vampire Weekend, Japanese Breakfast, and many others. He formed Landlady in 2011 as a solo project, and since then they’ve become a vehicle for his continued boundary pushing in any genre you can try to fit him into. With every release, Landlady continue to evolve and innovate, and their latest single, “Supernova” is no different.
“Supernova” starts out in a surreal tone with Schatz singing over a haunting layer of keyboard. However, that spacey vibe breaks a bit with a great guitar lick. The production on “Supernova” is incredible. The choruses float, and the drums are immense. It absolutely captures the feeling of the weightlessness, the vastness, and the darkness of space. There’s a point where the sound gives way and Schatz sings “Why did my friend have to die? / Why do we fix our focus on the lies?” in an absolutely stunning moment. After that, the song goes into some incredible territory, and even gets a bit groovy before it all fades out.
Landlady is Adam Schatz (vocals, keys, saxophone, vibraphone), Will Graefe (guitar, vocals), Ryan Dugre (bass, guitar, vocals), Ian Chang (drums, percussion, vocals).
“Supernova” is accompanied by a wonderfully animated video by Case Jernigan which you can check out here. The single is taken from their upcoming, self-titled record, which drops February 19th, 2021. Pre-orders are available on Bandcamp.
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram – “Ghost From Christmas Past” (Clarksdale, MS USA)
RIYL: B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters
The holiday season is associated with joy and merriment, but not everyone feels like Buddy the Elf this time of year, especially in 2020. Most people are simply trying to get to 2021 with their health and sanity intact. Others must face the holidays and beyond missing loved ones. The last thing those folks want is to hear festive tunes. Fortunately this new song from a rising star will warm the coldest of broken hearts. Brace yourself for a fiery dose of healing blues courtesy of Christone “Kingfish” Ingram. The 21-year-old blues prodigy channels his old-school influences on his first ever holiday tune, “Ghost From Christmas Past.”
Ingram lays down the scorching riffs right from the start. He stokes the embers with a long intro before explaining why he’s feeling “crying frozen teardrops” on “this bitter silent night.” As with most blues songs, the element of love gone wrong fuels the flames of heartbreak:
“We met in December
And I thought it would last
We had that holiday feeling
And I thought it was gonna last
Now my new lost love
She’s the ghost from Christmas past
The guitar solo starting around 2:10 blazes hotter than any yuletide fire. Ingram wields his guitar with expert precision, each note a searing brand on your heart. By the time he delivers the second verse, it feels like you are deep into a breakthrough therapy session. Except there is no doctor here to diagnose your ailments, only a masterful artist ministering to your emotional aches. In just under four minutes, Ingram infuses your hangdog mood with exactly what you need. He doesn’t promise that things will get better. Instead, he reminds you that you are not alone, and this is the best gift someone with a broken heart can receive.
This song is out now via Alligator Records on Amazon, iTunes and Spotify. If this is your first time hearing Ingram, be sure to check out his Grammy-nominated 2019 debut album, KINGFISH, to find out why Ingram is a prodigy destined for greatness.
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