The Matinee ’21 v.044 is a tapestry of incredible songwriting with rich sonic threads. From familiar voices to rising stars, these artists offer plenty of variety for your weekend.
Acid Dad – “BBQ” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: POND, a subdued King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, Surf Rock Is Dead
For as long as we’ve been fans of Acid Dad, they’ve constantly moved and shaken us with their exuberant psychedelic surf-rock. Rollicking rhythms and jamming guitar riffs made their music, like their energetic self-titled debut, perfect for weekend and road-trip playlists. Although Vaughn Hunt (guitar/vocals), Sean Fahey (guitar/vocals), and Trevor Mustoe (drums) have a trademark approach, they’re still growing, as they showed with last month’s “RC Driver”. Their evolution continues with “BBQ”.
The track might just be Acid Dad’s grooviest and trippiest number yet. It is like hearing King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard take their bombastic neo-psychedelia to Studio 54’s dance floor and deliver one smooth, cool, and dizzying experience. But unlike their previous singles, the quartet don’t blow the roof. They instead keep things restrained so the denizens can get lost within the haze and methodically dance the night away. More importantly, however, is that the approach mimics Fahey’s storytelling. The song’s title may refer to a good time, but his lyrics are anything but jubilant. They instead recount a time when a woman in Oakland called the cops on an African-American family for having a barbecue. A joyous occasion, as such, was ruined by one person’s racism. This ability to tell poignant stories mixed with an awesome sound is why Acid Dad long won us over.
Red Ribbon – “Renegade” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Soccer Mommy, Stef Chura, Katie Von Schleicher
Emma Danner’s project Red Ribbon has been an interesting one to follow. The lush soundscapes of her debut album, Dark Party, made Red Ribbon an artist to watch. Dark Party’s surreal lyricism, and Danner’s ability to switch moods effortlessly made the record an especially stunning introduction to this emerging talent.
This week Red Ribbon announced a new LP, Planet X, as well as the album’s lead single, “Renegade.” It starts slowly with a gently strummed guitar before Danner’s voice takes over. Following that minimalist opening, the song builds into a powerful lush sound with harmonies, reverb guitar, and a hypnotic drumbeat. Danner’s voice floats over the track at times, then cuts through it at others as she steers the track through its different emotions. Danner said, “‘Renegade’ is about how you’re your own worst enemy and you can’t escape yourself, no matter how far you travel.”
The lyrics echo this relatable concept, as does the stunning music video.
Flock of Dimes – “Hard Way” (Durham, NC, USA)
RIYL: Sharon Van Etten, Bon Iver, Wye Oak
Jenn Wasner remains an undeniable force in indie music after 15 years in the business. From her work with Wye Oak and Flock of Dimes, everything she does – whether she’s shredding, grooving, or creating beautiful introspective music – makes a statement. Wasner will soon release her newest Flock of Dimes record, Head of Roses. The first singles, “Two” and “Price of Blue” , both set the tone, and are among some of Wasner’s best songs. Her next single is yet another stunner.
“Hard Way” is very minimalistic. Most of it is Wasner’s vocals paired with simple keyboard work. The song truly shines when her voice gets wrapped in a vocoder and huge harmonies. Breaking up the minimal composition, a guitar cuts through and makes some noise before the close. That sonic depth is enhanced by the introspective honesty of the lyrics. Wasner originally wrote “Hard Way” as a love song, but it became something much deeper. “Hard Way” is accompanied by a music video that is as breathtaking as the song itself.
“When i tried to love
it was just a song
something i could not say
couldn’t call it off
couldn’t make it last
so i took the hard way”
Head of Roses arrives April 2nd via Sub Pop with pre-orders here. The album features many notable guests including Andy Stack (Wye Oak), Meg Duffy (Hand Habits), Matt McCaughan (Bon Iver), and Adam Schatz (Landlady).
Cereus Bright – “Long Line of Pain” (Knoxville, USA)
RIYL: Wilco, Lord Huron, Pedro the Lion/David Bazan
Are you the same person you were five years ago? Probably not. As we age, we see our earlier decades through life’s rearview mirror, and sometimes the road looks a whole lot different. The best we can do is focus on the path ahead as the next adventure plays out. This is the approach taken by Tennessee indie folk-rock band Cereus Bright. After an extended hiatus and lineup changes, the group we raved about back in 2016 is again making music.
Tyler Anthony may be a one-man show now, but the music has never sounded better than on new single “Long Line of Pain.” There is much to love about this song. The shuffling tempo gets your foot tapping from the start while Anthony’s warm vocals create an immediate bond with listeners. There is a campfire intimacy to his delivery: you hear echoes of Wilco in the rich instrumentation intertwined with the lyrical poignancy of Pedro the Lion. This bittersweet ode centers on the pain caused by dysfunctional families that we deal with as adults:
“It’s a long line of pain
When your heart breaks
It’s a pendulum swing
I know it fucked you up
I’m so, so sorry”
Sit back and have a long listening session with this gem of a tune. Let these gentle melodies be a healing balm. Then go check out Cereus Bright’s other releases. Your heart will be glad you did.
Major Murphy – “Unfazed” (Grand Rapids, USA)
RIYL: Smashing Pumpkins, Soul Asylum, The Connells
Last month we suggested you get to know Michigan band Major Murphy because their talent is undeniable. The indie rock authenticity of their single “In the Meantime” convinced us this group is destined for greatness. Now with the release of their upcoming album, Access, just around the corner, they deliver another jaw-dropping single.
Mellow and heady, “Unfazed” has a fever dream feel. Each verse flirts with existential musings while the languid tempo mesmerizes. This band has an uncanny ability to transport listeners to a different era: here, it’s the early ’90s when college radio was dominated by indie rock pioneers like Smashing Pumpkins and Soul Asylum. That pre-grunge era feels new again as Major Murphy sing about searching for fresh starts:
“Lord knows I’m begging just for a fresh start
But I feel rather vulnerable when I come apart
I know it’s never just a matter of heart
So I peer into data on an empirical chart
You know I’ll get there by any means possible
I tend philosophical but I can’t spell it right
I know that nothing is really impossible
But lean towards hysterical night after night”
We all battle anxiety and uncertainty, no matter what our age group. This is why Major Murphy’s songs resonate with listeners: their message is as timeless as their sound.
Ali Horn – “La Brea Tar” (Liverpool, England)
RIYL: John Grant, BC Camplight, Fleet Foxes
To end the week, we again get nostalgic in the sense that we shine the spotlight on an artist that blew our minds years ago. Four years to be exact, at which time we proclaimed Ali Horn to be a new generation’s answer to Richard Ashcroft with his impeccable and vivid songwriting. Instead of anthemic Brit-pop, though, Horn was dabbling in neo-psychedelia, which gave his stories an added fantasy and mystical dimension. Since that time, the Liverpudlian has dabbled in R&B, soul, and indie rock, and it is on the latter where we find him today. We have to say that this next chapter in Horn’s wide-ranging career looks good on him, as “La Brea Tar” evidences.
Like John Grant fronting Fleet Foxes for a song, “La Brea Tar” is dazzling yet dreary tune. Now how can a song elicit such polarizing emotions? The tranquil dreaminess of the melody is the dazzling element, as the dual guitars and feathery rhythms possess a calming, levitating effect. Horn’s poignant and brutally honest songwriting, though, is where the dreariness is felt. He speaks of a twelve-month (and counting) slumber and how isolation, bored, and fatigue start to wear on his mental and physical health. He’s on the verge of breaking down, but he gets himself up by sharing with us an eye-opening song.
“Misty mornings don’t make sense to me anymore
Who’s keeping score?
Is it all a dream?
Is it a lie?
Living in hope, but I’m ready to die.”
Remember to take care of yourselves and all your loved ones. Remember, hope is around the corner. Happy weekend everyone.
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