The Matinee ’21 v. 078 can be defined with three words – ingenuity, transformation, and imagination. We once again commence the mini-playlist with a bit of enchantment and end on a massive, massive high.
Meadow Argus – “Sunshine” (rural Queensland, Australia)
RIYL: Lightning Dust, Cross Record, Chad VanGaalen
In the age of the internet, one’s place of residence is no longer an obstacle to having their music heard. Sure it helps to live in bustling metropolises like Melbourne, Tokyo, London, New York City, Toronto, and Los Angeles in order to sell more records and possibly sign with a label. But if one can create music that piques people’s ears and emotionally connects with listeners, then their name will mentioned and their songs shared on the multitude of cyber platforms. Jevan Cole is a prime example of how the world has gotten smaller and music more accessible.
The seasoned guitarist has played in various bands in his 25-year career. For the past three years, he’s focused his attention on his newest project, Meadow Argus, which is the name of butterfly native to his home state of Queensland. While we are not sure why he selected the name, we can only guess that he was inspired by how it and every butterfly undergoes metamorphosis. In other words, Meadow Argus symbolizes Cole’s similar evolution, from a gritty guitarist to one making stunning, psych-infused freak folk, as featured in his debut album, Silverling. As a sample of the record’s mystical hypnotism, take a listen to its opener, “Sunshine”.
Cole along with his friends and band mates Ellie Dalton (vocals), David Megarrity (vocals), and Emma McDonald (singing saw) take us on an extravagant escapade down the 1,000 kilometre Flinders River. The current is gentle, the air is crisp, and we expect to see fairies, trolls, maybe a unicorn, and a centaur playing the Pan flute. This imagery is only made possible from the immaculate and delicate orchestration of the quartet. The song also has a hint of Chad VanGaalen’s ingenuity with McDonald’s singing saw and an over-tuned toy piano (how great is that?). Just goes to show that music can be made anywhere and with virtually anything if one uses her/his imagination.
Silverling is out now and available everywhere, including Bandcamp.
Sam Plecker – “Mr. Gray Cloud” (Roseville, CA USA)
RIYL: Mikal Cronin, Ty Segall, Sam Evian
Sam Plecker may not be a household name yet (although people may be familiar with his main band Vista Kicks), but the northern Californian resident has some serious music chops. If he lived in San Francisco or Los Angeles, he would likely have been noticed by the likes of Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin, or John Dwyer and signed with one of their associated labels, such as Drag City, Castle Face Records, or In The Red Records. Like these artists, Plecker is a chameleon that can rock out or deliver a sizzling psych-pop number, as demonstrated across his debut EP, Pulga Jams. The one of the standouts from the record is “Mr. Gray Cloud”.
At times the song grooves, other times it falls into a haze, but never is there a dull moment on this fuzzy piece of tremendous psych pop-rock. Like a Segall or Cronin classic, this tune is equally made for bopping down the street, adding to a playlist for a springtime road trip, and hanging out in the backyard with some mates and enjoying a choice beverage or two. As delightful the bubbling, trippy melody is, Plecker’s songwriting is clever. He addresses all the pessimists and doomsayers, including himself, who constantly darken the skies when they approach. They refuse to find the positives in things, choosing instead to bring everyone down to their level. As Plecker smartly sings:
“All alone there Mr. Gray Cloud
Why don’t you find your way down from the sky?
‘Cause it’s a million to one
We’re tired of watching you cry
All alone there Mr. Gray Cloud
I hope you’re figuring out something new
How would you like if someone
Had come around to rain on you?”
Bring some sunshine to your day by heading over to Bandcamp and purchase Pulga Jams now.
Night Beats – “Hell in Texas” (Dallas, USA)
RIYL: The Black Angels, Johnny Cash, Tom Waits
At the zenith of Night Beats‘ career, which wasn’t that long ago, Danny Lee Blackwell and his mates created brilliant stories with spine-tingling or epic arrangements to match. And it seems like those days are returning. Earlier single, “New Day”, was like an Edgar Allan Poe poem eerily coming to life. Blackwell, now, goes even further into the depths of creepy despair with his latest track. So prepare your mind and be brace yourself to be taken to a dark yet enchanting place set during the times the southwestern United States was truly wild.
“Hell in Texas” is simply one superb piece of cinema made for a classic western. Its desert, psych-noir vibe is suspenseful yet at the same time gripping, where your eyes and ears stay fixated on each guitar strike, tremble of the percussion, and shallow bass note. Your mind is fixated on the vigilante that comes to town, and he’s checking out his work. This being, however, is not of human form. He is the Devil, who arrives to “take a look / See what he had sewn / He damned the seeds and cursed the soil / Made the great unknown.” He’s turned the Lone Star state into his own playground, “where UFOs and vultures fly” and “the rattlesnake bites and the scorpion stings”. The Devil isn’t hear to take a life; he’s created the things and the environment to do the deeds for him.
Just another great piece of songwriting from one of the more underrated singer-songwriters of our generation.
Make Friends – “Sleep Sound” (Bristol, England)
RIYL: Foals, Gengahr, Grizzly Bear, The Phoenix Foundation
It’s unfortunate that most of the major festivals have announced their lineups. If they waited a little long, especially those in the UK, or if Make Friends had released “Sleep Sound” in January or February, we may have seen their name written on the poster. It might have been in small print, but it would have, nonetheless, been on there. Festivals like music curators (e.g., us) are equally keen to highlight the music of a young band on the verge of hitting it big. And Tom Andrew (vocals, bass), David Thomas (guitar), Connor Crabb (guitar), and Max Lewin (drums) are definitely on the cusp of greatness if they continue on the art-rock path they’ve laid out with their newest song.
“Sleep Sound” compiles all the elements that make Foals, Grizzly Bear, and Gengahr three of the great indie bands on the planet. The song is urgent and euphoric like a Foals’ masterpiece, yet it possesses a jubilant undertone that is a Gengahr trademark. The complex, shifting arrangement, meanwhile, is Grizzly Bear-like. At various points in the song, as such, different emotions are evoked and sometimes several are felt at the same time. The band’s lyrics, too, describe the roller coaster a person experiences following a life-changing event. They can wallow in despair or turn away, let it go, and move forward. As they cleverly state, “I’m two steps shy of a better day”.
And better days are ahead for this rising outfit, whose new EP is expected in September.
Modest Mouse – “Leave A Light On” (Portland, USA)
RIYL: LCD Soundsystem, Postal Service, David Byrne
For more than three decades, we have depended on Modest Mouse to deliver some exuberant and creative indie rock. But like what most soon-to-turn-30 people often do, Isaac Brock and Jeremiah Green have opted to start a new chapter and dip their toes into new sonic waters. They offered a flavor of the direction they were headed with the New Order-ish “We Are Between”. Now with “Leave A Light On”, it’s safe to say that Modest Mouse are no longer just a seismic indie-rock band. They’re just an outstanding band that execute pretty much anything if they put their minds on it, including thrilling art-rock.
“Leave A Light On” is a cool, groovy, mid-tempo number that sounds like the wonderful marriage of LCD Soundsystem and David Byrne. The calm, smile-inducing melody feels like an unhurried jaunt in the park on a beautiful Saturday morning. We are in no rush to go anywhere, but rather we take our time to feel the sunshine, smell the flowers, and greet friends and strangers alike. The band likewise sing about community, friendship, and home. They tell us that no matter where we end up going, there will be people and a specific place we can always return to, although Brock uses some colorful vignettes to make his point.
“My friends house is full of very very helpful nurses
Some days they have birthdays there and some days they have hearses
My friend’s house is full of cats, but they are both allergic
Your house is inside my heart and your heart’s where my house is”
James and the Cold Gun – “Plug Me In” (Cardiff, Wales)
RIYL: Death from Above 1979, Royal Blood, Highly Suspect
Just like yesterday’s The Matinee, we’re ending things in explosive fashion because we want you, as James Biss and James Joseph sing on “Plug Me In”, “feel something”. And you will questionably feel the propulsive energy and glass-shattering urgency of James and the Cold Gun‘s “new-ish” single.
We say “new-ish” because the song was originally released in March 2020. It, however, was re-released a few days ago, as the Welsh lads celebrate their signing with Venn Records. The best way to do it is with the duo’s most cathartic, most searing, and most rocking single. And yes, this song bloody rocks! It combines the heavy explosiveness of DFA 1979 and the rolling intensity of Royal Blood. For three minutes, they thrash, and we want to do likewise. As such, you might want to gather your vaccinated mates and start a mosh pit. If you do that, then the Jameses would have done their part – made us feel alive. They, meanwhile, are struggling to feel the same, as they succinctly state:
“I shout to feel less ignored
Don’t know what I’m looking for
All reason’s run out
Plug me in
I wanna feel something
Turn me on”
The band’s catalogue is on Bandcamp. And if you’re wondering, yes, James and the Cold Gun is song by Kate Bush.
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