The Matinee ’21 v. 043 builds gently before rising like a tsunami of pure adrenaline and noise. The first few songs are the calm before the stormy end.
Elissa Mielke – “Palace” & “Trying” (Los Angeles, USA via Dundas, ON Canada)
RIYL: Sarah McLachlan, Fenne Lily, Holly Humberstone
Six years ago a young woman trying to navigate her way through the complex music world touched our hearts with her story and endearing music. Elissa Mielke was living a dream most young people would do anything to have – a flourishing modeling career that took her to New York City and a major label contract. Beneath her gentle features, however, was a fiercely independent woman who wanted to be heard and not moulded into another pop star. So instead of attempting to achieve mainstream fame and fortune, she opted to terminate her contract and create art that was truly her own. Under the moniker Mieke, the young woman from rural Ontario released her moving, self-titled debut EP in 2015.
Much has changed since that time. Mielke now finds herself in Los Angeles where she uses her full name instead of an alias. In addition, she has found a home with a label Mom + Pop Music that will help nurture her limitless potential. Mielke’s talents are displayed on the two new singles she released yesterday. Like the artist herself, the piano ballads possess a tender melancholy paired with words of courage and perseverance. The soaring “Palace” evokes Sarah McLachlan in her prime, as Mielke sings about the strength she finds within herself and in others. Meanwhile, the vulnerable yet riveting “Trying” is Mielke setting aside doubts that have long lingered in her heart. It is her tale of moving forward to become a better, stronger person and to succeed on her own:
“Why are you always giving up on me?
Can’t you see I’m trying?
Can’t you see I’m trying?”
Cannons – “Bad Dream” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Cults, Cathedrals, Yumi Zouma
While much of the music world becomes immersed in synthwave, we prefer to dive deep into the waves of dreamy synth-pop. Bands like Cults and Cathedrals have perfected the art form of intoxicating, danceable seduction, as have Cannons. If Michelle Joy, Ryan Clapham, and Paul Davis had formed Cannons in the ’80s, they would have been mainstream icons whose posters adorned their fans’ bedroom walls. In today’s competitive music scene, they linger on the verge of a breakthrough. Hopefully one day soon the Los Angeles-based group will have their breakthrough moment performing on late-night TV. Then global audiences can discover the magic they make on songs like “Bad Dream.”
Reminiscent of the dream-pop of the ’80s, “Bad Dream” dazzles yet still encourages you to dance like it’s your last night on Earth. The chiming, blustery synths and the sparse rhythms pulse with the energy of a summer night while Joy’s vocals provide chills. She heightens the tensions with lyrics about a moment that could prove devastating:
“I been living in a bad, bad dream
I wish that somebody would wake me
Don’t like this feeling won’t you shake me
Cause any more might break me”
But instead of breaking, the band soars. “Bad Dream” makes us realize what a gift Cannons are. It takes a special band to turn devastation into something so unforgettably euphoric.
This song is streaming now via Columbia Records from these links.
Lightning Bug – “The Right Thing Is Hard To Do” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Wilsen, Sun June, Lush
Attempting to decipher someone’s musical preferences is an inexact science. It often leaves us dumbfounded. Too often, music resembles high school, where popularity wins out at the expense of true talent and art. The annual Grammys show is a perfect reflection of this. Another example is how Lightning Bug remain one of the great secrets in indie music despite releasing two remarkable albums in Floaters and October Song. Hopefully their days of being criminally overlooked end when their third album, A Color of the Sky, arrives this summer. As a taste of the NYC-based quintet’s brilliant artistry, they share “The Right Thing Is Hard To Do.”
The song is signature Lightning Bug. Shimmering shoegaze elements merge with hushed indie folk and East Coast indie rock, and the result is hypnotic, breathtaking, and captivating. Through a crystalline haze emerges Audrey Kang’s dreamy vocals, which are shrouded in memory and introspection. She recalls the lies she hid behind to cover her darkest fears and deepest secrets. As the song builds to its euphoric climax, she realizes what she must do:
“The hard thing is right to do
When we’ve got so much to lose
And closer to the root I see
When I look past the fallen leaves
Love steady grows
So I’ll let it grow, grow and grow”
Lightning Bug are: Audrey Kang, Kevin Copeland, Logan Miley, Dane Hagen and Vincent Puleo.
No Suits in Miami – “Make You See” (Lund, Sweden)
RIYL: Cocteau Twins, The Sundays, Lush
Nearly a year ago a new-ish band from southern Sweden quietly introduced their brand of spellbinding dreamgaze to the world. No Suits in Miami made older music fans (like us) feel young again with their ’90s-inspired single, “What We Have”. It was truly a dream to hear. At the time, Michelle Dzgoeva, Olle Oscarsson, Hannes “Hasse” Ponzlid, and Erik Lange were signed to a label, but this year they have taken the DIY approach. While the quartet will have to put in long hours to promote their music, if they continue to release songs like “Make You See” the world will soon take notice.
If this were the ’90s, “Make You See” would appear on Hollywood film soundtracks. Reminiscent of the coming-of-age songs featured in films like She’s All That andClueless, this song would enhance a climactic scene due to its slow-building mix of dreaminess and tension. Picture two protagonists confronting their true feelings for one another as this song plays: they see their worlds are empty without the other. But who will say the words first and who will sacrifice everything just to have one moment?
“I keep fighting all my thoughts, but I can’t wash them away
Rubbing them with acetone only makes them dry in
I wish I could make you see that it’s not your fault
That I never speak my mind once the weather gets cold”
Oh to be young and innocent again. For nearly four minutes, No Suits in Miami let us re-live those times. Head over to Bandcamp to buy this must-have song as well as the band’s earlier releases.
New Candys – “Twin Mime” (Venice, Italy)
RIYL: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, My Bloody Valentine, Principe Valiante
Venice is known by many names. It is the “Queen of the Adriatic,” the “City of Bridges,” the “Floating City,” and the “City of Canals.” It might soon be known as the City of Propulsive Music thanks to New Candys. The veteran quartet may not yet be as internationally well-known as the Rialto Bridge, but they should be. At the very least, they should be considered alongside My Bloody Valentine and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club for making some of the best dark-yet-cathartic psychedelic post-punk shoegaze on the planet. For late adopters of the band, let “Twin Mime” be your gateway to their awesome world.
The foursome immediately grab your attention with a throbbing drum beat and a shallow guitar. Meanwhile frontman Fernando Nuti directs his steely gaze and sharp words at himself. As the song builds into a swirling vortex of Gothic noise, his true self is revealed. He is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – a man whose best friend is his sinister side:
“It’s so fun when I’m bad if you are too
It’s so fun if I’m mad and nothin’ is true
Is it me? My twin mime, right in front of you?
It’s so fun when I’m bad if you are too”
New Candys are: Fernando Nuti (guitars, sitar/vocals), Andrea Volpato (guitars/vocals), Alessandro Boschiero (bass), and Dario Lucchesi (drums/percussion).
Cult of Dom Keller – “Last King of Hell” (Midlands, England)
RIYL: The Black Angels, Black Mountain, Dead Meadow
And speaking of great psychedelic bands, another incredible outfit is found some 1500 km northeast of Venice. But instead of adding shoegaze elements to create a levitating effect, Cult of Dom Keller take the opposite approach. Heavy, dark, and throbbing are their chosen effects that deliver listeners into the harrowing depths of oblivion. Needless to say, their music isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is a mesmerizing experience. So strap in and prepare to descend into the bowels of Earth with “Last King of Hell.”
At nearly 7 minutes, the song is an absolute epic. Slowly pulsing rhythms mark the extended intro while the guitar quietly sears in the background. Then a flash moment occurs when frontman Ryan Delgaudio awakens from his slow free-fall at the top of the world into an endless abyss.
For the next three minutes, the song’s crescendo reflects the hero’s spiraling descent. A brief moment of calm potentially represents his arrival to the Gates of Hell. Without warning, a wall of scintillating, Goth-infused psychedelic noise erupts. His new master has come to greet him. Now fear emanates from the wailing guitars and hammering drums, but instead of running he stands to face his fate. He is frozen in place, blankly staring into the darkness in complete awe. Listeners will surely feel the same when this absolute banger ends.
Cult of Dom Keller are: Ryan Delgaudio (vocals, guitars, keys), Neil Marsden (vocals, keys), Jason Holt (bass, synths), and Al Burns (drums).
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