With only a couple of work weeks left until the holidays, we ease into this wintry days with some soothing and entertaining songs on The Matinee ’20 December 7. Plenty of familiar names occupy the mini-playlist. A couple of newcomers are also included, and they will make you say “Wow”. Have a great week. Be safe, be kind, and stay hopeful.
deryk – “Brains [HOME DEMO]” (Auckland via Hawkes Bay, New Zealand)
RIYL: Fenne Lily, Massive Attack, Portishead
You can tell a lot about an artist when she has the confidence to release a home demo and it still sounds like perfection. Then again, Madeline Bradley isn’t any ordinary artist. She is one of the most exciting artists to arrive from not just New Zealand but globally (expect to see her name on our year-end lists), and 2021 could be the year she achieves international stardom like fellow Kiwi Benee. But instead of bodacious pop, Bradley via her project deryk creates music that recalls the downtempo, trip-hop intimacy of Massive Attack and Portishead at their most solemn. And she’s doing this as a single individual, which only adds to the “wow” factor. Her latest single, though, will leave you in speechless disbelief.
“Brains” follows on Bradley’s stellar debut EP, WOMb, which was released by Universal Records New Zealand and Republic Records earlier in the year. Like the tracks on the record, “Brains” is a gorgeous, breathtaking experience. Whether it’s the low echo of the electric guitar, the haunting hums of the synths, or the delicate pacing of the beats, every element is delivered with ghostly effect, and it is spellbinding. Bradley’s smoky yet vulnerable vocals add to the intoxicating affair, filling your mind with a haze. Her lyrics, meanwhile, create the same effect, as she sings about wanting to live inside the mind of another person and see what she does. To understand what fills her thoughts.
“Could I borrow your brains?
To try to understand you
To walk in your big shoes
I’d use any excuse
Or maybe that would be strange
To see your brains on my frame
You’re unconventional, baby
I don’t think you’d mind
If I jump out of my skin
Take you for a ride”
After listening to this song, we highly recommend streaming WOMb on one of these streaming services.
Chez Ali – “Shrek II” & “Gordon Ramsey” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Gus Dapperton, Mac DeMarco, Future Islands, Alfie Templeton
Every band has a member that is the life of the party – or the one most likely to get the group in a jovial mood with his wry sense of humor and playful ways. Elias Mahfoud is probably that guy in Swedish indie sensations Steve Buscemi’s Dreamy Eyes. We’re not really sure, but his songs under his solo project Chez Ali are extremely entertaining and clever. He’s like the Mac DeMarco of Sweden, and he showcases his talents with not one, but two new singles.
The first is a reimagination of the popular DreamWorks’ franchise. On “Shrek II”, he adopts the persona of the big, green ogre, and he’s trudging through the swamp contemplating how everything went wrong with Fiona. While the glammy, jangle-rock vibe is immensely groovy, our protagonist is figuratively (and maybe literally) down in the dumps. With regret, he shares “Spending most of my time hoping I find another one like you”, which we all know is immensely difficult for an ogre to find another of his kind.
On “Gordon Ramsey”, Mahfoud amps up the tempo to deliver a hip-shaking, jittery piece of jangly, synth-pop-rock. The track sounds like a mélange of Future Islands and Gus Dapperton. The track, though, has nothing to do with the world-famous chef nor even anything culinary. Instead, Mahfoud narrates the tale of a young man whose heart has been broken. Gordon Ramsey is merely an analogy for being beaten down but then finding one’s feet again to move on. Or in others, being told to “fuck off” from the kitchen and then realizing the journey is just beginning.
Both tunes are out on Rama Lama Records.
Bored At My Grandmas House – “Skin” (Leeds, England)
RIYL: No Joy, Fazerdaze, No Vacation
When we were introduced to nineteen-year old Amber Strawbridge’s project, Bored At My Grandmas House, last month when she released “Showers”, we commented that she could be the reincarnation of Slowdive and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Her brand of shoegaze and dreamgaze echoed the ’90s, offering everyone to briefly escape our realities. It’s music we sure could use these days, and the young artist from Leeds offers us another scintillating diversion with “Skin”.
Whereas as “Showers” had a throwback feel, “Skin” is dreamgaze modernized. The classic, chest-swelling, crystalline guitar and toe-tapping rhythms immediately fill the air, and they create a shimmering, levitating soundscape. Instantaneously, we are floating in the turbulent-free skies, gliding effortlessly with the wind blowing through our hair. Strawbridge’s lush vocals then arrive, and they, too, are calming and dreamy. An anxious vulnerability, however, rings through her lyrics, as she reveals she wants to reconnect with those she loves so she can feel whole again. Her message incapsulates millions of people’s experience of 2020.
“Can’t explain what’s in my head
It’s like it works against me
Because I can’t express my feelings
Using lines generically like it’s not you but it really was me
My skin was your skin and I knew you knew that
But I’d give it all up again if I could just be honest”
New Wolves – “Influencer” (somewhere in Wales)
RIYL: Phoenix, Broken Bells, Hot Chip
Although New Wolves formed in 2019, it was not until this year that the trio of Steven (vocals, guitars, synths), Julian (keys, guitars, vocals), and David (drums, vocals) started gaining traction within the UK music scene with their cinematic indietronica. For mainstream listeners, think Phoenix or a more refined, more intimate, and less over-produced version of Muse. Despite the band’s infancy, they have already signed with Paris indie label, Echoism Records. The sky is the limit for the Welsh outfit, who could be one of 2021’s breakout stars. Fueling this belief is “Influencer”.
The single is simultaneously a blast from the past yet a view into the future. Eighties-esque synths and beats pulse through the 155-second track, sending us back to an era when electronic bands donned rectangular-formed, futuristic costumes. Its dark, quietly harrowing tones, meanwhile, create the feeling of a late-night ride on a Tron-esque Light Cycle, where we are screaming through the deserted LA streets in 2049. Steven’s delicate, robotic voice, too, sounds like it is coming from the distant future, bellowing through a worm hole to warn us of our impending doom. As the keys, synths, and bass slowly intensify, Steven calmly recites how one person continues to push us down and we have no way of standing up. We are merely minions in one man’s oversized ambitions.
This intelligent number will find its way on to New Wolves’ debut EP, which is expected early in 2021.
Swine Tax – “Johnny” (Newcastle upon Tyne, England)
RIYL: The Cure, very early U2, CAN
In the two years since Swine Tax was born, Vince Lisle (vocals/guitar), Tom Kelly (vocals/bass), Euan Lynn (synths), and Charlie Radford (drums) have trended to rambunctious indie rock and post-punk. Being subtle wasn’t in the quartet’s vocabulary. They only knew how to go full throttle. Despite their youth, a band can only throw their entire body into so many songs before they start to wear down. Even then, the Newcastle four-piece aren’t going to start writing power ballads and melancholic fare. They’re find another way to channel their exuberance in another way, and they found it by looking at what some of the legends did.
On “Johnny”, the band channel the likes The Cure (Pornography era to be exact), U2 of the early ’80s, and the krautrock of CAN to deliver a gritty, catchy, and awesome slice of psychedelic Goth-rock. Even Lisle’s voice has traces of Robert Smith’s exaggerated delivery. Although the track starts off with a mid-tempo groove, this is Swine Tax after and they won’t be stationary for long. Sure enough, the song builds into a burst of a sizzling, angst-driven noise to reflect the song’s hero’s accelerating decline. Johnny is an addict, who is “high on life / And now I’ve seen the end in sight / I think it’s behind my eyes”. He is also ready to meet his maker, realizing there is nothing more that life can give him. Here’s hoping that Swine Tax have more to offer us, though.
The single is taken from the band’s latest EP, Relax / Johnny, which is available on Bandcamp.
La Loye – “I’m Still Asleep” (The Hague, Netherlands)
RIYL: Snail Mail, Big Thief, Lala Lala
La Loye is 24-year old Lieke Heusinkveld. “I’m Still Asleep” is enchanting so get ready to be completely drawn in with her textured vocals and emotive lyrics. The single is the perfect one to jam on a cold winter day. Her vocals are soothing and introspective with the lyrics “I wasn’t built to break for this…”.
There’s an intimacy within her songwriting and the finished product includes raw elements but takes the listener on a sublime trip which includes an ethereal ambiance that accentuates the poetic lyricism in her music.
La Loye is fairly new on the scene with only two singles published and she will definitely be one to keep an eye on. Hopefully there will be more to come in 2021.
La Loye speaks a bit about the meaning behind the track:
“As a teen I was always searching for any sort of buzz: going out, roaming the city with friends, that sort of thing. Even though I seemed to enjoy most of it, there would always be this underlying sense of sorrow. It could really catch me off guard as I didn’t really understand where it came from or what to do with it. I think the song is a reflection on this particular time where I was just trying to figure that stuff out”.
Pick up “I’m Still Asleep” on Bandcamp.
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