The Matinee ’21 v. 081 is a full house of tantalizing stories and hard-hitting observations. It also features nine artists and bands on the rise, so get to know them now. And since this is the end of the month, review all the tunes we were spinning these past 31 days on the Songs of May 2021 playlist. It’s available on SoundCloud and Spotify.
Pacer – “Waiting for the Punch” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Andy Shauf, Zachary Cale, Elliott Smith
There are days that life can feel like a joke. For that matter, the past several years have felt like one long, endless prank. But like everything, it must come to an end, and sometimes a silver lining emerges for the fortunate few. Sometimes after all our bumbling and stumbling, we “get it right”, as Jakob Shaw and Eric Poretsky, who comprise Pacer, tell us on “Waiting for the Punch”.
With a warm and intimate indie-folk approach that combines Andy Shauf’s personable storytelling and Elliott Smith’s embracing style, the LA-based duo have crafted a song made for spinning while watching the sun set or sitting on the porch and spending a quiet moment with our loved ones. The instrumentation is delicate and dreamy, particularly the twangy steel guitar. The vocal, meanwhile, possesses a tranquil immediacy, which draws us into this tale of two childhood friends going their separate ways. It’s a story of love-never-known, as the protagonist keeps his secret to himself. His regret is told in four short lines:
“And nobody gets it right
No one gets it right
For once in your life
Pacer’s debut EP, The Terror Of Other People, drops June 18th and pre-orders are available on Bandcamp.
Joviale – “Glass Peach” (London, England)
RIYL: Arlo Parks, Nilüfer Yanya, Mary J. Blige
More than two years ago, Arlo Parks arrived on the scene with little fanfare, and she’s now one of the UK’s standout, rising stars. She won people over with her intimate style, creative musical approach, and fantastic songwriting. She’s the real deal. The complete package. So who could follow in her footsteps and be the next artist that wows BBC Radio, curators, and listeners alike while changing our perception of what great music is? Joviale could be that person.
Her debut EP, Hurricane Belle, is a brilliant, sonic kaleidoscope. It is one part a stunning post-modern art exhibition and another part imaginative musical adventure. At one point, it takes listeners to the jazz club where its patrons are doped up on psychedelics (“Blow!”), and then the record replicates the calm realization that suddenly devours a person when the end quickly approaches (“Up in Flames”). The EP’s centerpiece, though, is “Glass Peach”, which is a beautiful and brilliant composition that addresses spirituality.
A sensual, funk-infused groove drives the track, creating the alluring soundscape for Joviale’s gravitating vocal to shine. She sings about “a trinket I lost one day at the beach”, which for some time tried to “consume” and “use” her. This relationship is filled with conflict, where faith and belief collide with reality and one’s personal enlightenment. Joviale poignantly depicts the internal struggle when she shares:
I felt the blood fall from the sky
When I had you just for the night
I watched you turn my stomach into stone”
Stream or purchase Hurricane Belle at these links. It’s a great EP.
Malady – “Famous Last Words” (London, England)
RIYL: Bloc Party, Childcare, Genesis Owusu
Last November, London newcomers Malady caught our attention with the sonic kaleidoscope, “London, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down”. The single wasn’t just catchy, but it was also extremely thoughtful and timely. It demonstrated that Percy Junior Cobbinah (vocals/guitar), Charlie Clark (guitar/synth), Ertan Cimen (drums), and Khaleem Mitchell-Patterson (bass) are using their platform to raise awareness about issues that affect their communities and the broader society. With their politically- and socially-charged approach, they should have the staying power of similar artists like Michael Kiwanuka and Algiers. In the process, they’ll land prime festival spots, where they can share songs like “Famous Last Words”.
This moody yet electrifying number is a treasure-trove of sound. Darkwave and post-punk tones filter through the electro-rock approach, making it perfect for an exclusive club, a capacity-filled rave, or an intimate house party. But don’t get entirely lost in the sparkling and dizzying approach because the quintet speak about the clouding of reality by those who cite purpose can only be achieved through divinity. They, however, are not ones to rely on “thoughts and prayers” for their answers, as they share:
“A realisation that it wasn’t aligned
Creeps up on me, takes up all my time
At first, it wasn’t easy
But for now, it’s cool
As long as I don’t have to go
Go back to Sunday
A realisation that it wasn’t aligned
Creeps up on me, takes up all my time”
This band is going places with support from Nice Swan Records.
The Sukis – “Bureaucratic Smack” (Hitchin, England)
RIYL: early Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, Francobollo
Tige Burns and Joe Sage, who are The Sukis, might only be a pair of 18-year olds, but these teenagers already have massive Tik Tok and Instagram followings, as their demos and “official” debut single, “Becca”, have gone viral. And it’s not just high school and college students gravitating to their music, but people of all ages. And songs like “Bureaucratic Smack” will only draw more people in, including the organizers of Leeds and Reading Festivals and Glastonbury.
The single is reminiscent of the energy and exuberance of Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes in their early days. For three-and-a-half minutes, the duo fire off one raucous guitar riff after another while crushing their drum kit. To think, a pair of young men are creating noise that a band of four or five would usually make. In the process, they deliver a call-to-arms, inviting anyone listening to join them in their uprising. Their revolution aims to empower people, freeing them from the shackles that bureaucracies have established. When we stumble or even fall, Burns and Sage, as they say on the track, will be right behind to pick us up.
The single is out on LAB Records. Get to know this band before everyone else does.
The Pleasure Dome – “Pretty Picture” (Bristol, England)
RIYL: IDLES, TV Priest, Shame
You might want to put some ear plugs on because the next great post-punk band from the UK has arrived. Forget dark, harrowing, creepy, and moody, but instead think the equivalent of a Krakatoa-style eruption. This is what The Pleasure Dome have unleashed in “Pretty Picture”.
Frenetic and beyond super-charged, this track is as explosive as anything that IDLES, TV Priest, and Shame have released. Every element is ignited with a few extra doses of adrenaline and ferocity. This is the sound of a young band with little to lose but with an awful lot to say and gain. Through this awesome trembling wall of sound that will shake the very foundations of your residence, front-man Bobby Spender hollers and questions who he is. “Or maybe I’m a narcissist? And maybe I can’t see / That all my best traits / Are my insecurities”, he belts out in our direction. But instead of concern, he takes ownership of these labels, realizing his own weaknesses may be his strengths. Because in the big picture, the first step to self-improvement is understanding our weaknesses and who we are. And then we can understand where we’re going.
For Bobby Spender (vocals, guitar), Loz Fancourt (bass), Harrison Newman (guitar), and Bert Elvin (drums), they’re going to high, high places. Expect to see them opening for some of their more famous UK cousins in the near future, and shortly thereafter they’ll be headlining their own tour.
Toria Wooff – “June” (Manchester, England)
RIYL: Samantha Crain, Mary Gauthier, Emma Ruth Rundle
When people think of Manchester’s music scene, the names of Joy Division, The Smiths, Oasis, The Chemical Brothers, Simply Red, and The Stone Roses often are mentioned. More knowledgeable music fans may also blurt out the Madchester sound. Toria Wooff, though, is about to change all this. The young singer-songwriter is a name to remember with a sound to behold. She echoes a bygone era when country music was gritty and dark, and the stories were even more eye-opening. The songs were classics, as is “June”.
The single is enchanting and tender yet suspenseful and tantalizing. As the pedal steel chimes and Wooff plucks her guitar, her crooning voice tells a story of a young woman looking to leave behind an empty life to start a new one. For three minutes, Wooff shares a handful of vignettes of the protagonist’s adventures as she makes her to the coast, including meeting grounded sailors who point their swords and an old man wanting to leave his wife. And all for June. All for Toria Wooff.
What a talent. The song is out on Wooff’s family-run label, Sloe Flower Records.
Lime Garden – “Sick & Tired” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Warpaint, The Big Moon, HINDS
When Lime Garden arrived last year, they were known as Lime. Despite the simple name, they wowed plenty of tastemakers and listeners, including us, with “Fever”. The song was fresh and poignant, and we were so impressed that we named them Artists to Watch in 2021. While a half-a-year has passed since Chloe Howard (vocals/guitar), Leila Deeley (guitar), Tippi Morgan (bass), and Annabel Whittle (drums) since we last heard from the Brighton-based outfit, a couple of things happened. First, as mentioned, they changed their name. Second, they’ve signed with boutique label So Young Records. To mark both occasions, the quartet share their next single that once again has them on the fast track to indie stardom.
“Sick & Tired” is a smooth and tantalizing shapeshifter. At times it grooves with a sultry flair, then there are moments of swirling psychedelia and mind-altering art-pop theatrics. Adding to the effect are the stirring harmonies, and the combination of dreamy vocals and varied soundscapes remind us of a young Warpaint. And like the indie giants, Lime Garden share a meaningful and poignant tale of mental and physical exhaustion, particularly in this day and age where people are constantly demanding things of us. Although Howard speaks openly of her fatigue, she, at the same time, understands she needs to do some “internal healing” to get through the malaise and stop running in circles.
But at the rate the band’s popularity is increasing, they’ll soon be running in circles around more established bands. And that includes Warpaint (well, maybe).
Broken Baby – “Madonna’s a Dick” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: early No Doubt, Bikini Kill, The Joy Formidable
Some bands have “it”. That “it” being an infectious energy that exudes from their pores, and they don’t even need to play a single note for concertgoers and music fans to feel it. Broken Baby have “it”. Specifically, Amber Bollinger and rock veteran/producer Alex Dezen of The Damnwells have it. Their brand of grunge-pop echoes the ’90s when bands were full of attitude and didn’t hesitate to condemn the music industry nor our societal institutions. They were fearless, but in today’s well-manicured, corporate-friendly world such courageousness is largely absent in mainstream circles. Fortunately, the duo are independent, which allows them to write songs like “Madonna’s a Dick”.
Before you draw any conclusions about the song, listen to the lyrics. With the jolting intensity of a young No Doubt, Bollinger isn’t criticizing Madonna nor calling her out. Instead, she puts the pop legend on a pedestal because early in her career she was unafraid to say what was on her mind or write songs like “Like a Virgin” and “Like a Prayer”. But instead, many people, especially men and industry execs, were turned off by her boldness or, as some would say, “brashness”. With Madonna as the frame of reference, Bollinger cleverly tackles the hypocrisy that continues to exist in today’s male-dominated world.
“But if she were a dude
And she was giving that attitude
They’d probably give her a raise
She’d be the President of the United States
Yeah, Madonna’s a dick”
Preach on Broken Baby!
The song will be sold as part of a split 7” with Los Angeles band, Egg Drop Soup, which will be released June 25th, 2021.
New Bleach – “Night” (feat. Ariane Roy) (Québec City, Canada)
RIYL: Small Black, Rhye, Morcheeba
To end this mini-playlist and the month of May, we return to a duo who first wowed us with the psych-disco intoxicator, “Stranger”. As New Bleach, Dominic Pelletier and Raphaël Potvin, who are also members of Caravane, represent the future of indietronica. Whether they’re creating music that gets bodies pulsating on the dance floor or leaving people paralyzed in their seats, they are also formulating stories that have an existential quality, as they examine their and our purpose on this planet. The aforementioned “Stranger” was largely introspective, but on “Night” they look within as well beyond to answer the riddle.
This single is the sound of one’s loneliness as the moon starts its descent towards the horizon. It is beautifully stark and haunting, where its patient approach possesses a surprisingly seductive quality. Just as we are to drown into Pelletier’s stunning yet ghostly vocal, the duo slightly illuminate the waters with a synth, some keys, and tantalizing house beat. And the song builds until it reaches a breathtaking urgency, at which point Pelletier’s voice becomes distorted and distant, as if he’s falling into the abyss of despair. His existence is tied to another, but that person is neither here nor there. They are just a memory.
“I’m taking a deep breath
Ever so slowly
So I can remember
What it is to feel free
I’m thinking of you
The wonderful sound
Of your laughter
There’s nothing better”
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