A hypnotic quality rings through The Matinee ’21 v. 016 edition. Some songs will leave you entranced, and others might have you dancing or taking an aimless drive. Or maybe you’ll want to lay your head on the pillow and dream about the stories these six artists tell today.
THYLA – “Breathe” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: CHVRCHES, Anteros, Black Honey
We have to start today’s mini-playlist with one of our favorite bands on the planet. Since nearly the very beginning, we’ve been fans of Thyla, and five years ago named them a band to watch. Slowly and steadily, their popularity has grown, and other tastemakers and curators (e.g., BBC Radio, Stereogum) have taken notice of their talents. Two thousand twenty-one, though, could be their breakout because their long-awaited debut album is expected later in the year. As we patiently wait for its release, their 2020 EP, Everything At Once, which was one of our Favorite EPs, is one place to be (re)-introduced to their dreamy, anthemic world. The record should be heard first because it provides a great segué to “Breathe”.
This dazzling piece of dream-pop is a collision of all the greatness of the ’80s and ’90s. Shimmering synths meet titillating 808s while a jittery, guitar line bubbles in the background, and together they create an atmosphere that is pure escapism. Front-woman Millie Duthie’s brittle voice drifts through the cool, sonic breezes to tell a story tailor-made for Singles, St. Elmo’s Fire, and Clerks. She sings of strength and perseverance, realizing that she will and is still standing even after having her heart broken. “I’ve been coping well / I’m good on the inside”, she reminds herself, understanding that a day presents new opportunity. And 2021 brings new opportunity for Duthie (vocals/guitar), Mitch Duce (guitar), Dan Hole (bass), and Danny Southwell (drums) to fulfill their enormous potential and the rest of the world to discovery why Thyla are destined for greatness.
The song and Thyla’s debut album will be released on LAB Records.
Tuvaband – “Growing Pains” (Oslo, Norway)
RIYL: Portishead, London Grammar, M83
In the past, we have stated that Tuva Hellum Marschhäuser, the mastermind behind Tuvaband, is the rare artist who can make the minimalist sound intoxicating. She’s been doing this for five years, beginning with “(It’s Not About) Running”. Her music is often subdue and enchanting, but occasionally she gets really grand and cinematic and the impact exceeds breathtaking. This is the case with her newest single, “Growing Pains“.
With the beautiful starkness of Portishead and the mysterious allure of London Grammar, “Growing Pains” is paralyzing in its effect. The weaving of synths, the echo-induced guitars, and stuttering rhythms are at first slight and simplistic, creating an odd sense of tranquility at first. But as the song progresses, the instruments swell into an arresting storm of gorgeous dream-pop. Marschhäuser’s vulnerable falsetto, though, is the eye of this intensifying system. “I used to say that the world is changing, but we are not”, she calmly states at the start. Her voice gradually builds and quietly roars, as she reveals that despite being at the center she is lost. She is but a bit particle that will eventually vanish unless she can find something to which she can bind herself. “I might whisper, ‘Catch me if you can'”, she desperately calls out to no one, to anyone.
This song is simply outstanding, making Marschhäuser’s new album, Growing Pains & Pleasures, a must-hear event. It will be released later this year.
Miss Grit – “Blonde” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: St. Vincent, Slowdive, Japanese Breakfast
Margaret Sohn understands the science behind distortion and sound manipulation like few others. Her project, Miss Grit, executes the concepts she learned as a Music Technology student at NYU and as a hobbyist guitar pedal builder. The result is a unique, distinctive roar that can be heard throughout her work.
Just a few weeks ago, Miss Grit shared “Impostor” off her upcoming record of the same name. Last week, she shared “Blonde”. Where “Impostor” roars right from the start, “Blonde” takes a different approach. “Blonde” has a more dreamy quality thanks to some ethereal harmonies that open the track. It builds slowly, with some great drums, and layers of guitar which evoke the feelings of a great shoegaze track. About halfway through, “Blonde” snaps into a wild and loud combination of synth and guitar distortion. Sohn’s vocals join back in over the newly present wall of sound, creating a clash between the lush harmonies and gritty distortion. The song comes to a close with a surreal, dreamy ending that provides a soft landing from an incredible height.
De Wolff – “Half Of Your Love” (Utrecht, Netherlands)
RIYL: Durand Jones & The Indications meets The Black Keys + Temples
When you think of old-school soul grooves that are steeped in R&B riffs, you think of artists from Detroit, right? Or, if you’re in the UK, maybe you equate that sound with Northern Soul? Clearly we music fans have been overlooking a surprising source of scorching hot tunes, because DeWolff has been setting the Dutch music scene ablaze. Their new single “Half of Your Love” from their forthcoming Wolff Pack album proves that Motown’s influence is a global affair.
The song’s grooves are off the charts, with authenticity that channels Sam Cooke one minute and Wilson Pickett the next. But that only scratches the surface of this kaleidoscopic band: they aren’t actually a soul band. Since forming in 2007, their output has leaned more towards psychedelic retro rock. You hear the ‘60s organs here in the first half. Then at the bridge they really crank the ‘70s funk rock vibes before closing with their perfect fusion of timeless genres. If you have been looking for fresh music to immerse yourself in, look no further than DeWolff. This trio comprised of brothers Pablo and Luka van de Poel and Robin Piso has everything you need to feel alive and invigorated.
EXUM – “Dark Kept Secret” (Richmond, VA USA)
RIYL: Blood Orange, Shamir, David Sitek/Maximum Balloon, D’Angelo
Not many former professional athletes have made a successful transition to music unless you think Oscar de la Hoya’s attempt was a good one. Antone Chavez Exum, Jr., who simply goes by the name Exum, may change all this.
The native of Richmond, Virginia was drafted in the sixth round by the Minnesota Vikings in 2014. He played three seasons with the Purple People Eaters before spending two more years with the San Francisco 49ers, and he posted some decent stats. While still in his physical prime, Exum, Jr. decided to put his football career on hold and bolted for Oslo and London to start his music career. While for most people such chances might result in expanding one’s contact list, Exum, Jr. left Europe with one of the most impressive debut songs in the past five years and likely a song that will be remembered at the end of the year.
“Dark Kept Secret” buzzes with the alt-pop creativity of a young Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) and Shamir. The song is funky with the stammering guitar and bass lines, yet it is suspenseful with the shallow synths and the pierces from the string arrangement. It belongs on every soundtrack spun in the wee hours of the morning, where the music emanating from our speakers provides us with the courage to enter the abandoned streets of the city’s most sinister streets. But do we fear what lurks in the alleys and around the corners or is the fear within our minds?
“I ran from vile lucid dreams while I curled up at the foot of my bed
(My lucid dreams)
I’ll never run again
I know your lies are everything I never said”
Pro football player turned alt-pop auteur and storyteller. Exum just might be the first great ex-professional athlete turned accomplished artist.
The single is out on Melodic Records.
aeseaes – “All In Blue” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: Sun June, Bleach Lab, Red House Painters
We end today’s little affair on a melancholic note, but not just any melancholy. Trust us when we say you should be in bed to listen to this next song because its gentle touches are akin to the sweet softness one feels when their head hits the pillow and gazes into the eyes of her/his loved.
“All In Blue” is what the most romantic and beautiful dream sounds like. This track from husband-and-white duo Travis and Allie (who are parents to three cats) is stunning and heart-warming, despite the band not applying any special bells or whistles to their dream-folk approach. Instead, they allow the song to breathe and, thus, naturally build in emotion. Allie’s tender voice also takes the track to ethereal heights with a tale that, likewise, is endearing yet hopeful.
“You’ll drift on rings around the sun
I’ll steal the bottle tops one by one
There’s always so much left to be done
For the only world I dream of”
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