Whether you’re in a melancholic mood, want a dose of nostalgia, or wish to imagine being at a concert, The Matinee ’21 v. 094 features nine songs that will hit one of these briefs.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “Weekend Run” (Portland, USA and Auckland, New Zealand)
RIYL: Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers, Tame Impala
For several days, indie superstars Unknown Mortal Orchestra were teasing new music was coming. Photos of front-man Ruban Nielson in various father-like attire and doing domestic chores to a ’70s-esque melody littered their Instagram account. Sure enough, on Friday, the Kiwi-born outfit unveiled “Weekend Run”, which might be the coolest piece of dad yacht-rock ever created.
Actually, for some people, this might be granddad yacht-rock. Cool, Steely Dan-esque soft-rock vibes stream across the track, creating a blissful ocean-breeze feeling. The track, however, is still very much UMO with the jittery, psych-funk notes that pop with the awesome, plucky bass line. Then there is Nielson’s trademark falsetto, which was, if we’re honest, made for ’70s music. His lyrics concern the 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday routine, which most of us endure so that we can enjoy the liberties of the weekend. Today might be Monday, but we can imagine that it’s Friday with this tune.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra are Ruban Nielson, Jacob Portrait, and Kody Nielson. Their new single is out on their long-time label Jagjaguwar. Let’s hope a new album is on the way.
M.A.G.S. – “Choked Out” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: a young Twin Shadow, Childcare, Francobollo
With festivals starting up again, albeit at limited capacity, our minds wander to what would sound great in front of 10,000, 20,000, or maybe even 80,000 people. It obviously has to be energetic and cause people to move. The track also has to have meaning in order to provide extra incentive to get the patrons dancing. Elliott Douglas, the mastermind behind M.A.G.S., has done this with his latest single, “Choked Out”.
Smart, inventive, and a rollicking experience, Douglas has crafted the ideal tune for any environment. Its melodic, summery intro gives way to a brash urgency, at which point Douglas’ tone transitions from easygoing to a person pushing back against the forces that hold him back. Gradually, the song gets grittier and desperate before ebbing back to its feelgood nature. The track doesn’t stay in this mood, though, as it again builds before it reaches its jagged and jarring apex. The moment is euphoric, representing Douglas’ refusal to be held down by history and circumstance. He instead will, as he says with his final word, “Go!”
English Teacher – “Wallace” (Leeds, England)
RIYL: Wolf Alice, Dream Wife, Goat Girl
More than two months ago, a little band from Leeds made our jaws drop with the poignant and jarring “R&B”. English Teacher was the band, and Lily Fontaine (vocals, rhythm guitar, synth), Douglas Frost (drums, synth), Nicholas Eden (bass, synth), and Lewis Whiting (lead guitar, synth) demonstrated the poise, maturity, and creativity of seasoned musicians. They, however, are in their early ’20s (and possibly even in their late-teens), which explains how talented they are. As great as “R&B” was, they have outdone themselves with their latest single.
“Wallace”, which features violinist Luca Vitale of Draags, is yet another multi-genre, wide-ranging song reminiscent of a young Wolf Alice. A post-punk tone forms at the start, as a stammering bass line guides Fontaine’s soft and almost emotionless voice. The song then transforms to a mournful, elegiac tone, sounding like we’ve entered the middle of a sermon. The approach is perfect for Wallace’s dual-purpose story. With Titanic captain Wallace Hartley as the focus, she uses his presence and the ill-fated ocean liner as metaphors for the rising tide of right-wing nationalism sweeping across England, Europe, and America. Like the Titanic passengers who followed Wallace’s leadership, tens of millions of people around the world have become sheep to the cult of a single personality. They’ve drank the Kool-Aid and think there is only one perspective, just a single voice to be heard. And it doesn’t belong to them.
“Two things you should always bring up in public:
Religion and politics
Drink our wine, read our literature
This is your church now, your prayers are liquid
We’ve grabbed hold of the wrong revolution
And pickled you in it
Got you drunk enough to promise us that you’ve quit
Stuck between a rock and a fight we cannot win”
This is just another awesome single from a band that is about to alter the UK music scene. They’ll do it with the assistance of the great label, Nice Swan Records.
L’objectif – “Do It Again” (Leeds, England)
RIYL: Iceage, Fontaines D.C., a very young U2
The UK music scene is flourishing. Our mini-playlists are often filled with artists and bands across the pond, and The Matinee ’21 v. 094 is no different. Another emerging group to keep an eye on are L’objectif, who are from Leeds and not Lyon.
Comprised of Saul Kane (vocals, guitar), Louis Bullock (drums), Ezra Glennon (bass), and Dan Richardson (guitar), the band formed in 2017 (although Kane and Bullock have been playing together since they were 12 years old). The quartet, however, draw inspiration from bands outside England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland to create an anthemic brand of post-punk. Think Iceage and Fontaines D.C. or for older music fans recall U2 in their very early days, which means we are witnessing the rise of another great English band. Their elevation to such lofty heights accelerates with “Do It Again”.
The ringing, delayed guitar line is reminiscent of The Edge while the military precision of the rhythms are akin to Fontaine D.C.’s Conor Deegan III and Tom Coll. Kane’s voice and songwriting, meanwhile, mimic the surging power of Iceage’s Elias Bender Rønnenfelt. His first few lyrics regarding dependency and relationships are brilliant:
“The essence of your existence
Doesn’t change when I’m not listening
And it’s cruel
And it’s foul
But it’s the only way you know how”
In three weeks, L’objectif’s debut EP, Have It Your Way, will be released. Specifically, it drops July 20th on Chess Club Records.
Flossing – “Switch” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: St. Vincent, Kate Bush, The Wants
“I am both scared of and intrigued by the deviant nature of men” are the first lyrics uttered by Heather Elle’s debut single, “Switch”. If these 13 words don’t immediately grab your attention, then you’ve come to the wrong place. But if they made your ears pique and your eyebrows rise, then walk into the stark, gripping world that is Flossing.
Known for her work as the bassist for The Wants and previously BODEGA, Elle steps from stage left to the center and the spotlight more than suits her. But the light is dim to match the song’s grim broodiness. It’s one part Kate Bush-like Gothic darkness and another part a St. Vincent-crafted sultry rendez-vous. This encounter, however, is not a match made in heaven. Instead, Elle describes the many ways in which she struggled to be whole. From her mother passing nearly five years ago, the ending of a long-term relationship, and the world frozen for well over a year, her life was in a downward spiral. “How does have any morals when the world is feeling fucking hopeless?”, she poignantly asks. But through the pain and despair, she has crafted a remarkable piece of art. If you don’t believe, ask the one person’s opinion who matters more than ours.
My daughter is a musician — Her debut single is getting good reviews, check it out https://t.co/KbS9iBs20W
— Scott T. Allison (@HeroesToday) June 24, 2021
Language Arts – “Forgotten” (Toronto via Nova Scotia, Canada)
RIYL: Lightning Bug, Florist, Dido
Kristen Cudmore’s story is one of remarkable strength and courage. It wasn’t long ago when she was lying in a hospital bed after being hit by a drunk driver. The accident damaged her brain, but it didn’t diminish her spirit. She instead persevered and ended up not just releasing new music but becoming an inspiration to others. Cudmore is in the midst of completing her Masters in Social Work degree while also teaching young people the gift of music. So when she releases new music via her project, Language Arts, we listen intently because she has something important to say. She’s lived more life times than any of us will know, and she shares some of them on “Forgotten”.
The song can best be described as a love story within a love story. With the somber hum of the guitar and synth in the background, Cudmore’s brittle voice describes the pain that lingers from the end of a relationship. She had given her heart and soul to another, but then it all ends and the pain can never be forgotten. Like everything Cudmore has encountered, however, she moves on and finds love once more. The presence of her ex, though, lingers, reminding her of what was and what awaits. After all, she’s had to overcome much more to get to where she is today.
Joining Cudmore on “Forgotten” are Neil MacIntosh (drums), Patrick O’Reilly (guitar), and Chris Pruden (synth).
Always You – “Crimson Red” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Prefab Sprout, Blue Nile, Anthonie Tonnon
Rebranding a band mid-career can be a perilous and unpredictable experience. For starterss, long-time fans may be left scratching their heads and not even recognize the name months down the road. On the other hand, it could represent a much-needed refresh, providing the motivation to be inventive as well as creative. For identical twin brothers Christoph and Anton Hochheim, they’ve set aside Ablebody to become Always You. The early results so far have been positive, as evidenced by their re-imagination of ’70s soft-rock on “Black City Nights”. To further prove that the name-change was the correct move, they share “Crimson Red”.
The song would be perfect for an ’80s TV show and film, specifically during the cut-away, flashback scenes that were shot with a misty filter. With a blissful melancholy and nostalgia filling the air, these scenes often saw the protagonist reminiscing about the good times he had with a parent, a companion, or a sibling, and now she wants to make amends. Through the cool, blissful melody, Christoph, too, tells a friend that he will be there when she needs him most. Nothing she can say nor do will prevent him from being her friend.
“If you should ever need a helping hand
I would break my back and carry you
Strung like a marionette”
It’s a message we could use today and every day. We can hear more of the duo’s stories on July 16th, which is when Ablebody’s new album, Bloom Off the Rose, will be released on Shelflife Records. Pre-orders are available on Bandcamp.
Swim School – “Anyway” (Edinburgh, Scotland)
RIYL: The Joy Formidable, Pale Waves, Sunflower Bean
As The Joy Formidable get set to release their new album in a few weeks and prep for an inevitable tour, they should call Swim School‘s representatives and ask the fast-rising band to open for them. Just a handful of songs into their careers, Alice Johnson (vocals, guitar), Lewis Bunting (guitar), Matt Mitchell (bass), and Billy McMahon (drums) have already positioned themselves worthy of vast arenas and stadiums and to be Scotland’s next big thing since CHVRCHES. They showcase their rapturous indie pop-rock on the rousing “Anyway”.
The song gushes with urgency right from the start, led by the bass-driven melody and the brittle desperation of Johnson’s saccharine vocal. Like all great arena-rock bands, the song gradually progresses until it reaches a state of scream-worthy euphoria. The approach provides the ideal backdrop for Johnson’s tale of feeling lost and abandoned, where no one sees the struggles she’s experiencing. Her only resolution is to create a song with her bandmates that will surely be heard across the globe.
“Cause I feel like I’m running scared
When my mind did
When it goes off swearing
I look back but there’s no one where I’m lost
You never noticed it anyway”
Swim School’s debut EP, Making Sense of It All, will be out August 13th. Look out world.
Womb – “Love” (Wellington, New Zealand)
RIYL: Elena Tonra, Loma, The Cure
Those immersed with the Wellington music scene know how special and talented Womb are. Their early years was characterized by intoxicating Gothic-rock and over time they’ve gradually moved into the calm, spiritual darkness that Elena Tonra and Loma have more recently occupied. With each single, though, their music has become even more mesmerizing and immersive, reflecting our actual thoughts and lived experiences. They cause us to pause, think, and live on “Love”.
This five-and-a-half-minute brooding yet gorgeous epic is a feast for the senses. The melodic pace, the tender execution of each element, and front-person Charlotte Forrester’s whispery voice simultaneously stun and awe. There is no point in resisting because the trio have paralyzed us with their breathtaking darkness and tale of forced servitude. “Break me, this body / Like I’m made to be broken”, Forrester pleads to their oppressor as a shoegaze guitar weeps in the background. This is the only love they have come to know – one based on power, destruction, and enslavement. Calling this song powerful would be an immense understatement.
Womb are Charlotte Forrester (vocals/guitar), Haz Forrester (synths/keys), and Georgette Brown (drums). Their fantastic EP, Holding a Flame, is out now on Flying Nun Records. Get it on Bandcamp. It’s unquestionably one of the best mini-records of the year.
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