The Matinee ’21 v. 050 features a kaleidoscope of new music including gritty rockers, buzzing pop-rock, out-of-this-world dream-pop, and enchanting indie-pop. Sounds more like a Friday playlist, but the long weekend is around the corner.
Johanna Samuels – “All is Fine” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Molly Burch, Julie Byrne, Hand Habits
In the five years since her debut EP, Johanna Samuels has been crafting some of the finest indie-folk tunes. Earlier this year, Samuels announced she would be releasing her first full length record, Excelsior!, accompanied by the wonderful lead single “Nature’s Way”. The name comes from her grandfather, who recently passed away. He would sign his emails with “Excelsior!”, meaning ‘ever upward’. That story is an example of how personal this upcoming record is for her.
“All is Fine” is yet another striking song from Samuels. Easing in the listener with just some drums and acoustic guitar before her A.O. Gerber-assisted harmonies come in. There are a lot of great instrumental layers throughout, from those harmonies, to some organ and piano, and a fantastic bass line. The combination gives it a nostalgic, mystical feeling.
The title feels far from the truth. Samuels describes the song as being about human conflict and the difficulties in resolving even the slightest bit of friction: “You’re somewhat powerless after someone creates a wall of protection around their inner structures that harshly … There’s only so much one can do to get through to an uninterested party. All has to be fine and you have to move on.” We can all relate to those statements.
Drug Store Romeos – “What’s On Your Mind” (Fleet, Hampshire, England)
RIYL: Chromatics, Still Corners, Lush
Many music fans will argue that Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” remains the benchmark to which all dream-pop songs are compared. This was 28 years ago – before Drug Store Romeos’ Charlie, Jonny, and Sarah were born. While the trio still have baby faces (they’re in their early 20s if you’re wondering), the stunning dream-pop they are making could earn them the title of Mazzy Star’s heir. Expect similar accolades when their debut album, The world within our bedrooms, arrives June 25th on Fiction Records. The first single is a stunner.
Sit back, put your feet up, and float to “What’s On Your Mind”. The song is a dream-pop hymn with heavenly instrumentation paired with Sarah’s angelic vocals. Like what Hope Sandoval sang in 1993, Sarah wants to drown into another person’s presence. “What’s on your mind?” she asks. She wants to make a connection with us, but do we reciprocate? We know the answer after listening to this masterpiece.
Pre-orders and pre-saves for The world within our bedrooms are available here.
Wavves – “Sinking Feeling” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Best Coast, Ty Segall, TV on the Radio
The Black Dog. The Blues. The Doldrums. The Dumps. There are as many terms for depression as there are songs about it. Artists of all types – especially musicians – are best suited to addressing the topic since creative types tend to have first-hand knowledge. That’s what makes the new Wavves single shine: the California indie rockers’ psychedelic-tinged “Sinking Feeling” reminds us that music can be the best lifeline.
Beneath the sun-kissed retro hooks and breezy vocals lies an important message. Listen as frontman Nathan Williams offers suggestions on how to identify the warning signs of a depression tsunami. By singing about these dangers in an accessible way, he and bandmates Alex Gates and Stephen Pope might save lives. The lyrics remind listeners to admit when these feelings arise. That kind of preemptive strike helps your friends and loved ones help you:
“I feel it coming on
An incoming tide so fierce you can’t hide
Takes you until you drown
And I feel it coming on
And I want you to know”
Wombo – “Dreamsickle” (Louisville, USA)
RIYL: Pottery, Dry Cleaning, Alvvays
Discovering a band that blends dream-pop and post-punk into a delectable sonic cocktail is always a delight – especially when they channel Alvvays. We may be a little late to Wombo’s party, but at least we’re not the last on the bandwagon. We have to thank the fine folks at Fire Talk Records for the introduction, as they will soon release the new Wombo EP, Keesh Mountain. As a hint of what is to come, the Kentucky band share the aptly titled “Dreamsickle”.
The track is a kaleidoscope fusion of genres, from dizzying dream-pop to urgent post-punk with traces of neo-psychedelia and Krautrock. While the trio deliver an arrangement that leans towards the angular post-punk of Dry Cleaning and label mates Deeper, Sydney Chadwick’s vocals hover in the Molly Rankin space of dreamy intoxication. That soft delivery reflects her feeling that she is truly alone. Friends and family occupy her space but will never understand how she feels, thinks, nor even dreams:
“From the other rooms inside my house I like to hear
Sounds of people talking and they laugh I am not there
And it makes me feel like I am all alone
And it’s nice sometimes pretending I’m not home”
You can pre-order Keesh Mountain on Bandcamp ahead of its May 28th release date.
Wombo are Sydney Chadwick (vocals/bass), Cameron Lowe (guitar), and Joel Taylor (drums).
Livingmore – “Sharp” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Silversun Pickups, The Jezabels, Dear Rouge
Four years ago when we were first introduced to Livingmore, we asked ourselves, “Why haven’t we heard of them before?” Now the question is, “Why don’t we cover them more often?” Instead of pondering why, now is the time to celebrate the music of this truly talented band. Livingmore have what it takes to become The Next Big Thing with their broad interpretation of indie pop-rock. They can get dreamily gritty like Angel Olsen or unleash the unbridled energy of Silversun Pickups like they do with their newest single.
“Sharp” is an anthem for anyone who ever felt excluded from the popular kids’ clique. With an ear-worm worthy guitar hook plus buzzing synths and rhythms, “Sharp” is a sonic triple espresso sure to energize you. You will feel empowered to express yourself because you don’t care what other people think, which is exactly what front-woman Alex Moore encourages us to do. Get ready to keep this one on repeat.
Livingmore are Alex Moore (vocals/guitar), Spencer Livingston (vocals/guitar), Mike Schadel (drums/keys), and Rodrigo Moreno (bass).
Working Men’s Club – “X” (Manchester, England)
RIYL: W.H. Lung, The Night Café, Sundara Karma
Sydney Minsky-Sargeant and his Working Men’s Club project dropped one of the year’s most acclaimed debut albums with their eponymous record. It was catchy, fierce, and pure adrenaline. They garnered buzz within the UK scene with some proclaiming Minsky-Sargeant as Brit-pop’s savior – bold words for a young man who has yet to hit 20. But then you hear their music and think, “They could very well change the industry like The Verve did.” Ten years from now we can assess their impact on music, but they seem poised for greatness. If they continue to release songs like “X”, there’s no telling what they will accomplish.
This tune is a brilliant conglomeration of sounds. It would have been perfect for the second Trainspotting movie with it cascading layers and dizzying effect. At times it feels like a massive mental trip, but no stimulants are needed to experience the psychosis. Instead, just open your mind as wave after wave of sonic delights wash over you. When it’s finished, you can then yell, “Fuck yeah!”
The single is out on Heavenly Recordings.
Nisa – “Bottom Feeder” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Soccer Mommy, Lady Lamb, Boygenius
The early days of Nisa’s Denisa Lumai sound like the early days of countless New York singer-songwriters. The open mic nights at Sidewalk, the circuit of venues converging around Houston and Ludlow. It’s a struggle for artists to break that grind. Lumai ended up studying overseas in London and returned last year with the intent to record her first record. However, as a global pandemic altered everyone’s plans, Nisa had to put her plans on hold as well.
However, hearing even one song off of her new EP, Guilt Trip, you’ll hear that the time and attention given to each track have set Nisa up to truly be one of the breakout artists of the year. “Bottom Feeder” is a centerpiece of Guilt Trip. With some synth and a guitar roar kicking things off, it gets lulled quite quickly. Nisa’s voice soars over some great bass and drums. There’s moments with delectably jangly guitar throughout as well. Nisa’s voice changes from its calm early moments into more powerful ones throughout. The entire song is a really fun, creative ride, with little indication of what’s coming next. It’s also quite honest lyrically, as is most of Guilt Trip.
It seems like the interruption and the added time to let these songs breathe helped make Guilt Trip into something huge. Its seven tracks all offer something great, from the great opener “Ferris Wheel” to the awesome guitar of “Turn Me Down”, there’s a lot to love about Guilt Trip. Guilt Trip, is out now. Get it on Bandcamp.
Air Devi – “mosquitos in the backyard” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Wet, Men I Trust, Half Waif
Air Devi’s Devi Majeske has been creating interesting, unique, and inviting tunes for quite a few years. From Soundcloud tracks to a quirky EP, Swanning About in 2020, Air Devi are hard to classify. From a punkish rocker about a landlord, to an upbeat album closer called “Chicken Nuggies & Rose”, there’s a lot to be drawn to here.
On Air Devi’s latest single “mosquitos in the backyard”, they once again deny to be classified. On the surface, “mosquitos in the backyard” is both lush and groovy. Defined by slowly strummed guitar chords and a deep bass, with Majeske’s voice, barely a whisper, soars over the track. The vocal qualities make the whole track feel ethereal, and that’s made even moreso when diving into the lyrics. The early lines make it easy to get lost in the track, with Majeske’s ability to paint vivid pictures with just a few words. As the song goes on, Majeske compares a relationship with the nature of a mosquito.
“I thought what we had was special
but you’ll feed on anything that breathes
you never loved anything”
“mosquitos in the backyard” is available now on Bandcamp.
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