The Matinee ’21 v. 021 is like a mini-concert that starts off with a couple of more melodic fare before the electricity ignites and the energy flows as freely as the champagne on Super Bowl Sunday.
Portair – “Paper in the Sky” (Los Angeles, USA via Sydney, AUS)
RIYL: Of Monsters and Men, SYML, Lord Huron, Darlingside
Childhood dreams hold a special magic, especially for creative types whose dreams of becoming artists and musicians are realized. Emerging indie folk-pop singer-songwriter Portair captures some of that wide-eyed youthful euphoria on his new single. “Paper in the Sky” is exactly the sunny potion you need to start your week.
The ebullience of these melodies is undeniable and instantly addictive. The Australian-born, now Los Angeles-based artist charms you with his warm vocals and soaring melodies from the first note. Then he holds your attention close with vivid imagery of journeys taken during long-ago dreams:
“A wooden bridge across the sea
That I would cross when I would dream
The longer road that I would take
Just to find a new escape”
Portair has just provided one of the year’s most blissful escapes. We look forward to hearing more from this promising talent.
Belle Tower – “Small” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Phoebe Bridgers, Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten
Some things in life are universal, no matter your age or gender or location: at some point, we all encounter toxic people whose actions reduce our confidence and steal our joy. These emotional thieves are the subject of a brilliant new single from Canadian lo-fi indie project Belle Tower.
“Small” uses lush, languid tones to convey the psychological reduction that occurs in unhealthy relationships. The sultry vocals of Isabella Harned (Saint Lo) provide atmospheric depth, taking listeners to the scene of the action. You hear her disappointment in the lines “My bed is still warm / the way you left it,” but her rhetorical questions of doubt are what resonate most:
“Are you looking for a quick fix?
Strong women really make you tick
Am I special?
Or just another name on your list
Am I unique?
Or just another one in your sheets?”
Fans of Phoebe Bridgers, Sharon Van Etten, and Angel Olsen now have another artist to adore in Isabella Harned. We cannot wait to hear more when Belle Tower’s upcoming EP, tend to, arrives April 27th.
Low Hummer – “Never Enough” (Hull, England)
RIYL: Cocteau Twins, Slowdive, Fazerdaze
Like many others, we love going to concerts and feeling the electricity in the air and joining hundreds if not thousands of strangers to share our love for the band on stage. We especially like going to a show that starts off with a couple of melodic tunes to get people settled in and then the band rips off a high-energy, euphoric number that changes the entire mood. That song would sound something like “Never Enough”, the latest single from rising English indie outfit, Low Hummer.
If you’re standing, this song will get you moving. And if you’re sitting, you won’t be for long. The tune is reminiscent of the great early ’90s shoegaze with the ringing guitars, blustery synths, and hammering rhythms. Cocteau Twins, Lush, Ride, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Slowdive come to mind. Like those great bands, Low Hummer create a scintillating atmosphere that gets the heart pumping and the adrenaline flowing. It is pure euphoria, and you feel like nothing will stop you. That is the point of this wonderful track, as it is about moving forward and finding one’s way through a constantly changing world. As front-woman Aimee Duncan encourages us through her cool, breathy vocals, “Take control, take control”. More importantly, she tells us she’s on our side when everything goes wrong.
“When this pains over,
Your heart won’t beat the same
In troubled times, reframe
If you feel happy – for a moment, of the day
Do you forget your shame?
I hate this place, I hate the world when it’s not on your side
You’re living strange, but you’re the one”
We cannot wait to see what the future holds for Aimee, Dan, Steph, Jack, and John. Chalk them up as one of our favorite discoveries of 2021 so far, and we have Dance To The Radio to thank for this.
Hallan – “Hands Up” (Portsmouth, England)
RIYL: Shame, The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys
Last year in the midst of the post-punk renaissance, a young band from Portsmouth quietly made themselves heard with a timely single. They were Hallan, who piqued our interests with the Orwellian-esque “Modern England”. The track was a huge statement and gave Conor, Josh R, Josh T, and Adam plenty of airspace in a suddenly oversaturated post-punk world. So how do they still remain relevant and heard in this day and age? The answer is simple – continue to concoct stories that sound like they’re from another dimension yet they actually are about our surreal world. Their newest tune is another immensely intelligent and clever number.
“Hands Up” is a deliciously delirious and bodacious number. It combines the anthemic qualities of The Black Keys, the off-kilter grooves of an in-their-prime Arctic Monkeys, and the smart yet biting lyricism of Shame. Oh, there’s also plenty of attitude à la a young Rolling Stones. As the song pulses and blisters, Conor unleashes a succession of witty and hard-hitting lyrics targeted at the capitalists who are only concerned about making and saving a buck than art or humanity. Even our friends are our enemies, looking to pinch pennies at our expense. “Hands Up”, as such, is a warning of what happens when we allow money to have the final say, which we did and continue to experience, especially in these past 12 months.
The single is from Hallan’s forthcoming EP, Reporting Live From The Living Room Floor, which will be released July 16th via Nice Swan Records.
VIOLET – “Fade” (Birmingham/Lichfield, England)
RIYL: The Music, The Ninth Wave, A Place to Bury Strangers
In the early 2000s, a band from Leeds called The Music emphatically arrived on the scene with their intense yet cathartic brand of psychedelic-dance-rock. Their self-titled debut was wave after wave of swirling, distorted guitars and front-man Robert Harvey’s forceful falsetto, and it peaked at #4 on the UK charts. They were going to be the next great English band, but the quartet parted ways in 2011. Although they did temporarily get back together in 2020, their future as a united front is murky at best. Since their absence, we have long waited for a band to make us experience the same trippy exhilaration that The Music, and after a decade looking we may have found a worthy successor.
Although VIOLET have released a couple of singles over the years, including “Jaded”, the quintet have reached another level with “Fade”. Like The Music, the Midlands indie band have concocted a spellbinding piece of psychedelic-dance-rock. A steely guitar duels with a zinging rhythm guitar, a wonderfully stark bass line, and a tantalizing synth and drum section. Within this great sonic battle, all you can do is gaze in wonder and awe until the drama reaches its conclusion.
Narrating the event is Luke Brickett, who describes a young man entering the “real world” and receiving a lesson about the “dog-eats-dog” world. He might have been adored in school, but in the eyes of those who have survived the cut-throat world he is nobody. He is someone who is feeling unwanted and just fading into the darkness. But for this young outfit, if they continue to go in this direction, their future is full of light and possibilities. They could very well fulfill the expectations people had for The Music.
VIOLET are: Luke Brickett (guitar/vocals), Ted Spivey (guitar/synth/percussion), Arran Bick (bass), and Ben Clapton (drums).
La Vie Sauvage – “Post-Apocalyptic Bliss” (feat. Emma Lee Cath) (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
RIYL: Ladytron, Goldfrapp, Fever Ray
We tend to associate the Netherlands with great alt-pop – for us anyway. Now, we have to say that it is home to a duo that could take synth-pop / electro-pop to another level. They are La Vie Sauvage, who has predominantly been a DJ / electronic producer and has released a couple of albums, and singer-songwriter Emma Lee Cath. At the end of 2020, the pair, who hopefully will come up with a unique band name, released a song that was not just made for dance floors but also for escaping reality. “Post-Apocalyptic Bliss” was made to make people believe that life and music can make us feel alive again.
The single recalls Ladytron and Goldfrapp in their youth. It pulses with a hypnotic array of synths and beats, which may cause one to either gracefully dance or close her eyes and be transported to another reality. As La Vie Sauvage’s production work soars, Cath’s raspy voice, which echos Lana Del Rey, tells a tale of two people stranded in a deserted city. Because they cannot go anywhere, they opt to make the best of their situation and just dance as a way to escape and feel liberated. Her story is an anecdote of our actual lives, where we are constantly stuck and isolated. While we may be lonely, we can still find a way to express ourselves and be free. To be human again.
Here’s hoping this duo continues down this track because if they do they could stand out from the electro-pop pack and, thus, go very, very far.
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