The Matinee ’21 v. 087 is filled with plenty of wow factor, featuring ten songs that rise towards the sun and echo the shadowy darkness of the underworld.
Cathedral Pearls – “Wasted Days” & “Sun After Sun” (Spokane, USA)
RIYL: Slowdive, Mazzy Star, Lush
Way back in August 2015, a young trio from Spokane, Washington made us take notice during a period when indie folk-rock was undergoing a renaissance. Like Big Thief and Mothers before them, Cathedral Pearls demonstrated that being raw and vulnerable could be powerful. Since then, they’ve added a dreamy element to their indie sound, upon which they expanded during the lockdown. So instead of dream-folk-rock, Karli Ingersoll, Caleb Ingersoll and Max Harnishfeger have entered the magical world of dreamgaze. In the process, the band have positioned themselves to be the heirs to Slowdive, Lush, and Chapterhouse with not one but two unforgettable songs.
“Wasted Days” is a spellbinding, chest-swelling epic, and one of the best dream-pop numbers of the year. Karli’s voice is magnetic, rising above the intoxicating delirium. Her words are the extension of helping hands to those who feel they’ve been forgotten since the start of 2020. They offer hope and inspiration. “How does it feel to be so important?”, she asks with the emotional urgency of a person making a grand leap of faith.
The three-piece, meanwhile, channel Slowdive on “Sun After Sun”. A beautiful, calm melancholy fills the air at first, and it sets the canvas for Caleb’s story about tomorrow offering another day to grow and start again. As we just get intertwined with the easy-listening melody, the song builds to an epic finale. This point feels like the star has turned into a supernova, and we are left in absolute awe. Maybe one day soon, Cathedral Pearls will like wise experience an explosion in their popularity.
The Joy Formidable – “Chimes” (Utah via Flintshire, Wales)
RIYL: Wolf Alice, The Duke Spirit,
The Joy Formidable have just celebrated a decade from their first full-length release, 2011’s The Big Roar. The band’s early sound was defined by that roar, but since then they’ve become a much more dynamic and mature band, occasionally trading in their wall of sound for intimate acoustic guitar ballads. Earlier this year, The Joy Formidable released “Into The Blue” and “Back to Nothing”, and both felt like a culmination and embrace of all that defines them as a band.
That roar returns immediately on “Chimes”. Distorted guitar creates a big sound under Ritzy Bryan’s impactful voice. Matt Thomas’ thundering drumming kicks in and the whole thing shifts into another gear. Bryan’s voice goes into dreamy territory with a huge layer of reverb, as Rhydian Dafydd’s bass work and keys tie everything together. There’s a cathartic feeling in each time “Chimes” dies down, then the roar kicks back in. Bryan wrote the song after a tough loss, and from the strength she gathered from hearing her grandfather’s wind chimes. As she notes, “I imagined that he was rooting for me to move forward, to trust in things again and that the love you put out will eventually come back to you.”
The Joy Formidable’s upcoming record, Into The Blue, is out August 20th, and can be pre-ordered here.
Lauran Hibberd – “Bleugh” (Isle of Wight, England)
RIYL: Sir Babygirl, Coach Party, No Doubt
Lauran Hibberd might be a millennial, but music fans from across generations are flocking in her direction. This includes us, as songs like the explosive “Boy Bye” and the self-deprecating “Call Shotgun” showcased a young artist with a sharp wit, an entertaining sound, and an unbreakable confidence. She’s like a young Gwen Stefani, who puts angsty grunge into anthemic pop-rock. She does it again with “Bleugh”.
With the classic Clueless possibly being remade into a TV series, “Bleugh” should be on its soundtrack or at least on an episode. The song oozes with energy and attitude, beginning at first as a strutting pop-punk number before transforming into a gritty, take-no-prisoners grunge-pop anthem. As the guitars sizzle with more intensity and the rhythms pound with more urgency, Hibberd’s voice never changes. It remains in charge and assertive as she confronts her ex. She’s like Ellen Ripley telling the Queen Alien to keep her hands off Newt, particularly when she hollers:
“You keep your own mattress
I won’t wear a white dress
We’re not getting along“
Here’s hoping that Hibberd and her fellow Isle of Wight mates, Coach Party, do a tour across Ireland and the UK. That would be something.
Acid Dad – “Searchin’” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Futurebirds, Vundabar
The sign of a great band is that they can move you in multiple ways and through various styles. And Acid Dad are definitely a great band. Their early years consisted mostly of adrenaline-laced psychedelic surf-rock, but over the past couple of years Vaughn Hunt (guitar/vocals), Sean Fahey (guitar/vocals), and Trevor Mustoe (drums) have broadened their musical spectrum. For instance, “BBQ” was a trippy and groovy piece of intimate psych-rock while “RC Driver” was hook-laden piece of DIIV-like, shoegaze-y surf-rock. The trio’s next single sees them head to more arid landscapes without compromising their coolness.
“Searchin'” is what some like to call pure indie. Its crisp lines, laid-back southern-rock vibes, and immersive lyrics give the sense we’re traveling down the the back roads of the US Midwest or on the red sands of the Australian Outback. We are looking to escape the troubles of the past and present while discovering who we are. As we shake our heads from side to side to the vibrant guitars, the shallow breaths of the keys, and the toe-tapping rhythms, the Brooklyn-based outfit share their story of being a ’70s rock ‘n roll band stuck in an age where electronic, digital, and manipulation reign.
“I’m lost and found
I’m still searchin’ for a sound
There’s a chain wrapped around me
I’m still stuck in the ’70s”
Finding success as a guitar-driven band is difficult these days, but we believe Acid Dad can break the chain. Their new album, Take it From the Dead, might be the bolt cutter that does just that. It is out July 16th via Greenway Records and The Reverberation Appreciation Society. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.
Veps – “Oliver” (Oslo, Norway)
RIYL: Mothers, Lomelda, Big Thief
We’ve mentioned that Veps are one of the most exciting bands we’ve discovered this year. You can also add that the Norwegian quartet have delivered one of the very best EPs of 2021 with Open Door. Its six songs – including the throbbing “Ecstasy” and the compelling “Girl on TV” – are intelligent, emotional, and comprise of stories to which we all can relate. If we find the time, we’ll write about it. In the meantime, take a listen to “Oliver”.
In a word, the song is simply “Wow!” Only a few bands can make a song elicit so many contrasting emotions, yet Veps have done it with “Oliver”. It bursts with grit and intensity, gradually building into a melodic head bobber that makes you want to scream during the chorus. And yet, the track feels intimate with the young band’s words buckling your knees. They recount how their heart was broken when the song’s protagonist grabs the hand of another and runs “away on demand”. Sure this is another heartbreak song, but very few are able to make it sound so raw, real, and jarring as Veps. That’s why they’re a band to watch for a very, very long time.
The quartet consists of Laura Dodson (guitar), June K. Urholt (bass), Maja B. Berge (drums), and Helena Olasveengen (keys). Their outstanding, debut EP, Open the Door, is out digitally now. The vinyl, meanwhile, will be out September 3rd via Kanine Records. Stream the album or pre-order the physical album here.
Lunar Vacation – “Shrug” (Atlanta, USA)
RIYL: Dizzy, No Vacation, Dehd
With just a couple of short EPs and a handful of singles to their name, Lunar Vacation have already gained a bit of a cult following. It’s easy to hear why: their indie-pop sound is infectious. They hook listeners with their pristine guitar work, great vocals, and relatable lyrics.
Lunar Vacation’s latest single, “Shrug” is all of that and more. The song lulls the listener in with its catchy guitar chime. As the song grows, vocals interweave, guitars then cut through and take the song to great heights. Its later moments rock quite hard, as heavy guitar chords propel the song forward before it all collapses again into just guitar. It builds itself back up again into a wonderful closing section with some really great drum work.
The lyrics are also what makes Lunar Vacation a special band, singing about listening to too much Wilco. The song also marks a turning point in Grace Repasky’s life, realizing that they were non-binary, and how difficult it is to try to fit within rigid binary categories. Repasky plays with that idea, alternating between two chords for most of the song.
The single is out on Keeled Scales, who will release Grace Repasky (vocals, guitar, bass), Maggie Geeslin (guitar), Matteo DeLurgio (auxiliary percussion), and Connor Dowd’s (drums) debut album later in the year.
Wednesday – “Cody’s Only” (Asheville, NC USA)
RIYL: Hop Along, Swearin’, Stef Chura
Wednesday’s 2020 record, I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone, was a surprisingly diverse and powerful record. It had moments that bordered on punk rock, shoegaze, some heavy stuff, and even a lo-fi acoustic closer. With such an impactful debut, it made us anticipate what would be next for the Karly Hartzman-fronted and -founded outfit. Thankfully recently, they shared the belter “Handsome Man” and followed it up with “Cody’s Only”.
“Cody’s Only” slows things down in comparison. The song starts with just Hartzman singing over guitar. More guitar and drums join in and add to the atmosphere. Hartzman’s vocal delivery has an extra weight behind it. A weight that is fully realized in the song’s later moments as it explodes into something much bigger. In its short runtime of two-and-a-half minutes, it shows the explosive and dynamic qualities that defined their debut. It also shows a more refined and perfected sound for Wednesday.
Mazey Haze – “Sad Lonely Groove” (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
RIYL: Yumi Zouma, Ellis, Good Morning TV
For some, booming, electronic anthems are the sound of summer. For us, give us a great psych-pop tune that creates the feeling we’re gliding over the clouds. Heck, give us such a song in the spring, autumn, and winter, so we can think about warmer, sun-filled times. So what does this make newcomer Mazey Haze‘s single, “Sad Lonely Groove”? Well, it’s the sound of summer – of eternal summer.
Nadine Appeldoorn’s debut single is the personification of immaculate psych-pop. It calmly grooves with a disco-funk radiance with the plucky bass line and the lithe percussion. Streaks of color, meanwhile, cut across the track, and they’re light at first with the tinges of keys and synth and then consume the soundscape when the glistening, shoegaze-drenched guitar arrives. Appeldorn’s voice, meanwhile, is heavenly, making her the perfect guide to take us up, up, up into the stratosphere. Like us, she’s escaping from the reality on the ground while seeking redemption. She seeks to start her life all over again as a new era begins.
“Time has been good to me
The bottom has disappeared
Well, that’s what they say
No one will ever know
The young Dutch artist certainly is trending upwards.
SUUNS – “Witness Protection” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Boards of Canada, Amen Dunes, Thom Yorke
From their humble beginnings as jazz students at McGill University some 15 years ago, SUUNS have developed into one of Canada’s great experimental bands. Categorizing their music is an impossible task since they can get glitchy, deliver ’70s-eseque krautrock, rock out ever so slightly, or unleash a number that has no comparable. That’s the greatness of Ben Shemie (guitar, vocals, production), Max Henry (bass), and Liam O’Neill (drums) and helps explain why they are celebrated by the indie community. Their new single only adds to their growing legacy.
A stunning, intimate gloominess bellows throughout “Witness Protection”. The restrained approach, which features soft dabbles of gossamer electronics, a reverb-drenched guitar, and Shemie’s ghostly voice, is haunting and eerie. Yet, it is all captivating and enthralling. So much so that a slight smile may form on your face despite the storyline. It is a tale of isolation and loneliness, where the song’s protagonist must confront his image every day. With each turn of the calendar, his life outside his four walls slowly disintegrates. He is a captive in his own home, enjoying the entertainment of things like pornography, exercise, and late nights spent watching the world pass by. He is what we have been for more than a year.
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