As the sun rises on another Tuesday, The Matinee ’21 v. 038 offers some melancholic fare that examines the world we live in and our place in it. The music is outstanding, but the stories and messages told are what will leave an enduring mark.

 

Hiss Golden Messenger – “If It Comes in the Morning” (Durham, NC USA)

RIYL: The Lone Bellow, Drive By Truckers, Phosphorescent

In these difficult times, It can feel hard to find hope. We’re faced with a constant barrage of bad news, from political, social, and health-related crises that seem to chip away at any good feelings that can be had. Plenty of musicians and songwriters try to promote hope and love as an answer, but more often than not they come through as cheesy. However, with Hiss Golden Messenger, it always strikes at a human level. In January, the MC Taylor-led band shared “Sanctuary“, which was about doing what is right, to live honestly, and to filter out the noise that’s “part of the show”.

On their latest single, “If It Comes in the Morning”, Hiss Golden Messenger once again face the realities of the obstacles in the way of hope and shine through them. Taylor wrote “If It Comes in the Morning” during the spring of last year. It was a time of social unrest, much stemming from the murder of George Floyd and the racial tensions that followed. Taylor said, “The country was on fire, and I kept thinking to myself, ‘What comes next?”  He channeled that uncertainty into hope – not hope for an unrealistic future but one where he can be thankful each day to be alive and “the willingness to keep moving forward whether the cards fall in our favor or not”.  While it doesn’t stray too far from Hiss Golden Messenger’s alt-country roots musically, Taylor’s lyricism is as poignant and urgent as ever.

“There was a pain that we trusted
The sword and the shield
Lay them down, now they’re rusting
There’s a spade
If you’re willing
To work on the building”

Hiss Golden Messenger’s new album, Quietly Blowing It, will be released June 25th via Merge Records. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available here. The record can also be purchased on Bandcamp.

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Skullcrusher – “Storm in Summer” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Phoebe Bridgers, The Cranberries, Madeline Kenney

Skullcrusher’s debut EP was one of the best things we heard in 2020. It was an incredibly impactful debut for the short form, and it showed how capable Hellen Ballentine was at creating truly captivating music and left us begging for more. Luckily, Ballentine released “Song for Nick Drake” earlier this year, which was an homage to Nick Drake, and the power his music had to help get her through difficult times.

Skullcrusher’s latest single, “Storm in Summer”, builds upon everything that drew us into that first EP. Ballentine’s voice is inviting, soaring over a gorgeous combination of guitar, banjo, and drums. It has a bit of a 90’s alternative vibe, but also feels very new. Ballentine wrote “Storm in Summer” after releasing her debut EP. It’s about all those private thoughts that those songs were composed of. Ballentine said, “I felt so vulnerable and overwhelmed by the fact that these songs I had written in private were exposed and likely being misinterpreted or disliked.” However “Storm in Summer” is not about regretting it but about confronting those feelings and coming to terms with putting it all out there.

“How did I end up here with my old lines on your page?
Sometimes I wish I’d kept them safe
Far away from your gaze”

Ballentine’s new EP,  Storm in Summer, will be released April 9th via Secretly Canadian. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available here or go directly to Bandcamp.

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Sunnbrella – “Lost & Found” (London, England)

RIYL: Alex G, Beach House, Elliott Smith

Sunnbrella – the solo act of London-based David Zbirka – delivers low-fi, dreamy vibes on the new single, “Lost & Found.” The song provides an overarching sense of familiarity and frailty while tackling the desire for connection. Zbirka’s reserved vocals are surrounded by euphoric guitar and dynamic bass grooves.

David shares a bit about his writing process:

“I often don’t know what the message of a song is when I’m writing it. Sometimes the lyrics are completed before I understand what the song is about; It’s only after gradually piecing the words together that the meaning becomes clear to me. So in a weird way, I have to interpret my own words, but there’s room for completely different interpretations by the listeners. Maybe they’d understand the lyrics better than I do.”

The video for this lo-fi gem is pretty laid back, reminiscent of Kevin Smith’s “Clerks” with a bit of humor woven into the visuals.

“Lost & Found” is out now via Permanent Creeps.

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Conchúr White – “Vocation Vacation” (County Armagh, Northern Ireland)

RIYL: Baxter Drury, Destroyer, Alex Cameron

In today’s social media-obsessed world, are the users the stalkers or those who create the content? And are Big Brother and other entities monitoring what we view and say online? If you use a computer, have a tablet, or own a smartphone, in all likelihood you’ve contemplated these questions at one point. You may also have either changed your viewing habits, limited what you said in public fora, or maybe your opinions and styles have changed as a result of following an “influencer”. It’s kind of creepy how we are so easily influenced despite our suspicions of who is on the other side of the connection, and this dichotomy is brilliantly captured by Conchúr White on his new single, “Vocation Vacation”.

The single brims with the artistic genius of Joshua Tillman (Father John Misty) and Dan Bejar (Destroyer). It is part ’50s film-noir with its sleek yet sinister atmosphere, yet another part Marshall McLuhan-like philosophical exercise as the Northern Ireland singer-songwriter examines our addiction to the internet. He smartly describes how we seek reassurances from total strangers, where their acceptance and validation are more important than what our friends and families have to say. As a result, we are just all image and completely lacking in substance. Case in point this clever section from the tune:

“The fellows in this club are a different breed
They’ll never be defined by the books they read
There will never be an act they can’t perfect
They just look like James Dean and speak like Kerouac”

The single is taken from White’s forthcoming, new EP, The Dreamers, which is expected this summer.

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Glass Violet – “Hourglass” (Bristol, England)

RIYL: The Killers, Kasabian, Foals

Getting out of bed to go to work or school is difficult on most days, but Tuesdays are like a hangover. If this is the case for you and you need a pick-me-up, then this next tune is the cure to your doldrums. So get your feet on the ground, turn up the volume, and be caffeinated with Glass Violet‘s anthemic and cathartic “Hourglass”.

Like a young Kasbian and The Killers, Tom Hurdiss (vocals, guitar), Alex John (guitar, vocals), Matt West (drums), Josh Walsh (bass), and Declan Pollard (keys/synth) unleash a roof-raising, wall-shaking banger. For nearly four minutes, the Bristol-based quintet ignite the air with their infectious brand of electro-rock – a brand made to fill London’s O2 Arena or even cavernous Wembley Stadium.

The howling guitars, the searing synth, and the propulsive rhythms, however, are not the only eye-opening elements of this awesome track. Hurdiss’ lyrics are poignant, as he describes being trapped in the same place for months if not years. He is describing our collective experience living in a pandemic. Every day, he sees the same strangers, who, too, are imprisoned in this purgatory. All he longs is for one thing, though: “to see faces I might know” because he’s afraid he’ll die alone. We are all afraid to not be able to live again, but this track will bring back the life in you no matter your situation.

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PULSATIONS – “Of Vultures And Sickles” (Copenhagen, Denmark)

RIYL: The Foreign Resort, Topographies, Depeche Mode

All the great post-punk songs in history have one thing in common – an outstanding bass line. Call it the Peter Hook effect, as he and Joy Division transformed the genre from heavy to dark, brooding, and enrapturing. Although no bands will ever compare to the Manchester legends, they can at least capture their spirit and brilliance, which is what Danish outfit PULSATIONS have done with their latest single.

“Of Vultures And Sickels” sounds like it came from England’s deep underground music scene of the ’70s and ’80s, where young people gathered to collectively express their dissatisfaction with their world above them. They congregate to share their stories and start a movement, which PULSATIONS brilliantly articulate. As the chiming lead guitar rings through the dark bass tinges and the stuttering drum machine, the deep baritone of Hadrian Esteves, the man behind the band, captures their discontent. “No trace of truth in the headlines / The vultures gather to set their price”, he sings with the callousness of a manipulator. Throughout the four-minute number, he narrates the conflict that wages between the proletariat and bourgeoisie, where the former refuses to kneel down. They are instead defiant, which post-punk in its early days personified.

The song is out everywhere or purchase it directly on Bandcamp. Here’s another band we’ll have to watch.

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