The Matinee ’21 v. 059 moves from stark environments to summertime bliss to delicate enlightenment with each of the seven songs pulling aside the curtain to really an unexpected truth.
GLAARE – “For Sale” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Cold Cave, Bikini Kill, Black Marble
Awake from your weekend stupor and retreat into the dark confines of ’80s-era East and West Berlin. This was a time when cold wave began to take shape, as bands took Krautrock and transformed it into a bleak representation of the era’s mood. This was a time of turmoil, uncertainty, and defeatism. Given the political, social, and economic climate of the past four years, the genre’s resurrection isn’t a surprise, and Los Angeles band GLAARE captures it brilliantly in their latest single, “For Sale”.
If you have a basement, head downstairs to hear the song and replicate the bleak atmospheres of 40 years ago. If a basement is unavailable, dim the lights and turn the strobe setting on the flashlight of your phone and lose yourself inside this hypnotic number. The post-punk bass line and pounding percussion create a darkness occasionally illuminated by the surging synths. Swirling within the grimy mist is Rachel’s mesmerizing voice. She sings of a different turmoil – of a woman who has been used, abused, and ignored. She is nothing more than an object of manipulation and desire in the eyes of her tormentor. And yet she cannot leave like thousands of women like her. She begrudgingly sings, “If I act so cold / Why do you love me anyway?”
GLAARE are Brandon (guitar, vocals), Rachael (bass, vocals), Rex (synth), and Marisa (percussion, backing vocals). Their sophomore album, Your Hellbound Heart, is out April 30th on Weyrd Son Records. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.
Slothrust – “Strange Astrology” (Los Angeles via Boston, USA)
For almost ten years, Slothrust have made a name for themselves as musical shapeshifters. From their grungy beginnings, the trio of thee former jazz students have shown an unmatched ability to jump between and interweave multiple clashing styles. It’s given the trio of Leah Wellbaum (vocals/guitar), Kyle Bann (bass), and Will Gorin (drums) are one of the most well-rounded bands out there. Even their covers EP from 2017 proved it with their intense rendition of “Happy Together” and a heartfelt take of “What a Wonderful World”. What followed was one of the most diverse offerings from the band yet: 2018’s The Pact. Ranging from loud rockers to stunning slower-paced songs, it showed an incredibly polished and much more mature side of the band.
In 2021, Slothrust will release their fifth album, Parallel Timeline, and it’s already shaping up to be among their best. “Cranium” was an ethereal journey and set the stage for a potential big shift of sound. The most recent single, “Strange Astrology”, is as dreamy of a sound that the trio has ever achieved. There’s a perfect layer of hushed and distorted drum machine. The bass melds with a lush guitar sound, creating a perfect underlayer for what may be Wellbaum’s most moving performance yet. Using astrological imagery mixed with casual conversation and a layer of the surreal, “Strange Astrology” hits on all of the things that make Slothrust’s lyrics usually stand out.
The Great Communicators – “Oh Oh Oh” (Amsterdam & The Hague, Netherlands)
RIYL: Broken Social Scene, The Phoenix Foundation, Japanese Breakfast
Have you ever found yourself enjoying a moment when the perfect song starts playing? You know the type of song – a rhapsody of breezy, dreamy, euphoric music that sonically mirrors the day’s splendor. The song revives your mind, re-energizes your body, and incites you to believe in possibilities. This is the power of great music, especially The Great Communicators‘ latest single, “Oh Oh Oh”.
“Buckle up and toss the keys”, co-frontwoman Linda van Leeuwen sings, advising us that now is time to escape and take an adventure when opportunity presents itself. Upon saying these words, the song transforms from a delicate enchantment into a surging, breathtaking swell of delirious dream-pop. One moment we feel like we’re floating on the calm waters of the Pacific; the next we are riding the waves of an exhilarating storm. The varied approach is reminiscent of Broken Social Scene in their heyday, where we never knew the route the band may take but we did know the destination – a place of enrapturing luminosity.
The Great Communicators’ sophomore album is expected later this year.
Uwade – “The Man Who Sees Tomorrow” (New York City, USA via Nigeria)
RIYL: Jensen McCrae, Haley Heynderickx, Joy Oladokun
When we started The Revue nearly a decade ago, we stated that the world was experiencing a new wave of great singer-songwriters. That wave is intensifying by the day, and one of the more recent additions is an artist every music fan should know. Her name is Uwade, and the frequent Fleet Foxes collaborator jumpstarts her solo career with an unforgettable song.
Born in Nigeria, raised in North Carolina, and now residing in New York City, the 21-year-old artist gained notoriety with a series of covers. In 2020, she released her first original single with the uplifting folk-pop ballad, “Nostalgia”. Her newest track, “The Man Who Sees Tomorrow”, is quieter, more intimate and emotional. Featuring just Uwade and her electric guitar, she pays tribute to her late father who passed away in August 2020. With a slight ache in her voice, she recalls the little memories they shared and what he means to her. Uwade, however, doesn’t simply mourn his passing; she also celebrates his life:
“Life is warm and then it’s cold and time forgives the past
I just hope the love we shared can resurrect the last
And even though my memories are fading far too fast
One day I will know it all and frolic in the grass
If time is all we have, I promise not to waste it
And everything you are I know I can’t replace
But I’ll see you on the other side”
The young woman is a name to remember. Count on seeing her at Newport Folk Festival and Pickathon in the not-so-distant future.
The song is part of a split single that includes a cover of Sir Victor Uwaifo’s “Lodarore,” which her father loved, and it is available on Bandcamp.
Arooj Aftab – “Last Night” (Brooklyn, USA via Pakistan)
RIYL: Esperanza Spalding, Morcheeba, Meshell Ndegeocello
Springtime in New York City is a magical place, where a stroll through neighborhoods becomes a dazzling sensory experience. Evening breezes might be redolent with jasmine and hip-hop on one block then basil and jazz on the next. These cultural convergences broaden our horizons beyond the ordinary, often defying genre labels. This is especially true for Arooj Aftab.
The Pakistani-born, Brooklyn-based artist/composer moved to the U.S. and graduated from Berklee College of Music. The musical tapestries she creates resonate on multiple levels. Her seamless fusion of styles on “Last Night” – reggae, soul, and jazz – is the initial hook. Listeners intrigued by the beat soon become enchanted by her smoky vocals. As she sings lines from the mystic poet Rumi, the song’s allure reaches intoxicating levels. The sultry heat entwined with downtempo energy will quicken your pulse. Your breathing may pause as you savor each delirium-inducing note. Such is the exquisite beauty of this song, an instant classic from a must-hear artist.
School of X – “Away” (Copenhagen, Denmark)
RIYL: Destroyer, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Of Montreal
Name all the famous drummers who have found success as a solo artist or fronting their own bands. David Grohl obviously comes to mind as do Ringo Starr, Phil Collins, and Josh Tillman (a.k.a. Father John Misty). We should also add Rasmus Littauer’s name to the list, as the drummer for pop star MØ is pretty popular in his native Denmark. And he should be more popular globally with his embracing falsetto, his breezy brand of art-pop, and songwriting chops. Perhaps he will achieve global recognition when his sophomore School of X album, Dancing Through the Void, is released on September 24 via Tambourhinoceros. The album’s first single, “Away”, might be his breakthrough.
“Away” is one of those songs that stays in your mind. You keep returning to it to lose yourself inside its dreamy atmosphere created by the bubbling bass line, the tapping percussion, and the shoegaze-drenched guitar. Then the saxophone arrives to give the song the feeling of a late-night rendezvous. This encounter is not one of chance. Rather, it involves two people reunited after a long separation. Littauer wishes to reconnect as old friends and remind himself that people do matter. In this time of a solitude and isolation, there is nothing to be gained from burning bridges:
“But if you do think of me again
Call me up and tell me how you’ve been
Like any other day I will be
Waiting for the clouds to disappear
I know I told you to be gone
But I think it’s too hard so don’t ever go
Pre-orders for Dancing Through the Void are available on Bandcamp.
KWAYE – “Runaway” (London, England via Zimbabwe)
RIYL: Prince, D’Angelo, Dev Hynes
The last shows Prince did were on his Piano and a Microphone Tour, which showcased another side to Mr. Nelson’s talent and the power of his songs. Unfortunately, only a select few got to observe him perform in such an intimate setting, but his presence still exists in the work of the likes of Dev Hynes and a young man from Zimbabwe who likewise has taken his first name as his artistic brand.
With already a solid following, KWAYE has made a name for himself with his electrifying take on R&B and alt-pop. Those who have really dug deep into his work know the London-based singer-songwriter is a very expressive and open individual, and like the Purple One can deliver powerful ballads that leave audiences in a state of suspended awe. And awe-inspiring is “Runaway”.
Just like Prince sitting at his grand piano with an accompanying guitarist, KWAYE turns melancholy and simplicity into an emotional tour-de-force. His voice is the standout, easily moving between octaves to represent the emotions that way heavily on him. There is pain and hurt, regret and remorse, contemplation and uncertainty. His story is concerns young boys’ and men’s struggles with masculinity. Their struggle with their identity in a world still dominated by the depiction men need to be hard, stoic, and strong. For the majority, they hide their true selves and may eventually become crushed by their secret. But maybe they will be freed of this burden and the rest of us made more aware of the struggles of our families, friends, and neighbors after hearing this song.
“California is a thousand miles away
Couldn’t speak to papa, tell me what does that little boy say?
Fears in the tears, they subside ’cause I’m a man
If a boy wants to feel, he’s gotta hide, but it hurts him so bad”
The single is out on KWAYE’s own imprint, MANGWANA.
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