The Matinee ’21 v.103 ushers in a new week with nine fresh tunes from around the globe. Whether you need a dose of indie rock to jump-start your Monday or want to escape reality with some trippy noir vibes, today’s playlist has you covered.
Thrillhouse – “What Next?” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Everything Everything, Balthazar, Jagwar Ma
Is 2021 the Year of Thrillhouse? That is a possibility based on the Brighton-based trio’s knack for crafting bold, fresh hooks. Alistair Scott, Jackie Nielsen, and Sam Strawberry have released four singles so far this year, including the retro-inspired “Take Care” a month ago. Now the band continue that winning streak with another display of their highly addictive sound. Trust us when we tell you that “What Next?” ticks all the boxes for an instant hit.
If the ’80s-era synths don’t grab you at the start, then the scorching guitars at the bridge definitely will. The rapid-fire lyrical delivery may remind older listeners of Falco while the instrumentation evokes Miami Vice sleekness. In less talented hands, “What Next?” might seem derivative. But there is zero chance of describing their sound as knock-off for one simple reason: they know their stuff, having no doubt cut their musical teeth listening to New Wave and modern rock artists. That authenticity along with their cohesiveness and chemistry will keep fans coming back for more. It certainly has us sold!
Now is the time to get on board the Thrillhouse bandwagon. It won’t be long until this band are wowing crowds at every major festival. And who knows? Maybe one day when they’re rocking the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, they’ll play “What Next?” and dedicate it to the fans who were with them from the start.
This song (and the rest of Thrillhouse’s catalog) is streaming now on Spotify.
THE NINTH WAVE – “Maybe You Didn’t Know” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: INHEAVEN + The Joy Formidable + early M83
Even though we’ve been fans of The Ninth Wave for a few years, only this year did we name them an Artist to Watch. We should have acknowledged these future Scottish Album of the Year winners sooner, but one of last year’s great songs (“I’m Only Going to Hurt You”) helped us realize our mistake. Just to remind us of their brilliance, the band’s first single of 2021 is another rapturous affair.
Further moving away from their gothic, post-punk beginnings, the quartet deliver an arena-ready electro-rock anthem in “Maybe You Didn’t Know”. The song showcases their knack for constantly shifting melodies in order to elicit an array of emotions. An electricity buzzes at the beginning, but then the band pull the rug out from our feet, as subtle instrumentation hoveres around Haydn Park-Patterson’s Rick Astley-like baritone. Then the track brightens but only momentarily. Coming to nearly a pause, Park-Patterson shares how his world – our world – has completely changed:
“Well the world was my oyster
But then it got turned upside down, and the pearl fell out
I found peace, but I lost it
I was born with a lump in my throat
And I can’t say that I wish I could float”
After a bit of distortion, the song intensifies and reaches euphoric heights. It’s a moment that makes you appreciate just how brilliant this band is.
The single is out on Distiller Music with a new album expected soon.
The Ninth Wave are: Haydn Park-Patterson, Millie Kidd, Kyalo Searle-Mbullu, and Calum Stewart.
Waves of Dread – “Day I Did Nothing” (Newcastle upon Tyne, England)
RIYL: The Jesus and Mary Chain, New Order, Chapterhouse
In 2018 a little band from Newcastle turned back the clocks to the late ’80s and early ’90s and revived the music of Ride, Slowdive, and My Bloody Valentine. With “Flying”, Waves of Dread put themselves on the indie radar. A three-piece at the time, they have expanded to a quintet. This has allowed them to broaden their sound and create songs worthy of a movie soundtrack, which is where “Day I Did Nothing” should be.
This dazzling single is like a blend of early New Order with The Jesus and Mary Chain in their prime. The dreamy shoegaze guitars and the Peter Hook-esque bass line create the feeling of floating through the clouds on a summer’s day. There is only one reaction when gliding across the skies – all you can do is smile and dream about what is to come. Despite the breathtaking vibes of the track, the story is one of remorse and regret about the deterioration of a friendship:
“I used to stop at nothing
To tell you about my day
Those words are empty now
I’ve got nothing left to say”
Let’s hope the band have plenty left to say because we can never tire of a song this good. It’s available now on Bandcamp.
Bnny – “Sure” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: Jess Cornelius, Adrianne Lenker, Julia Jacklin
In the short time we’ve known the Jess Viscius-led project Bnny, one trait has been crystal clear in “Time Walk” and “Ambulance”: the music possesses a beautiful simplicity. There aren’t many special bells and whistles to the band’s art. They instead allow each note and lyric to penetrate our souls and let nature – or in this case their music – do its course. With “Sure”, the quartet cast another spell.
Lightly strummed guitars, feathery rhythms, and a tambourine create a hazy, desert-like atmosphere. It’s both dreamy and mysterious, making it the perfect tune to play as the sun sets or during an evening with a loved one. As the song dances through time, Viscius observes life slowly moving by. From sunrise to nightfall, from disappointments to jubilation, she lets us know that despite what we’ve seen and experienced we are still alive and all right. That’s the one thing we are sure about in this unpredictable world.
Bnny’s debut album, Everything, is out August 20th on Fire Talk Records. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available here and Bandcamp. Bnny includes Jess, her twin sister Alexa, and best friends Tim Makowski and Matt Pelkey.
Heartless Bastards – “Photograph” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: My Morning Jacket, Midlake, early Fleet Foxes
After ending their nearly five-year hiatus, Heartless Bastards have returned with aplomb. About a year ago, they released “Revolution”, a tune that encouraged people to stand up against the chaos incited by the previous U.S. administration. Then in June they announced their new album, A Beautiful Life, would be released at the end of summer. Accompanying the news was the powerful, soulful “How Low”. The fire that raged in the southern-rock outfit’s music of their youth returns on “Photograph”.
This five minute-plus track is yet another monumental epic. Where their previous songs encouraged people to stand tall, “Photograph” encourages people to extend olive branches, build bridges, and practice forgiveness. It’s a song that seeks to mend wounds that were created after years of divisiveness. Erika Wennerstrom’s songwriting remains poignant and poetic as she describes how a single photograph can make people remember what we once had.
The showstopper, though, is the arrangement created by Lauren Gurgiolo (Okkervil River), drummer Greggory Clifford (White Denim), multi-instrumentalist Jesse Chandler (Mercury Rev, Midlake), keyboardist Bo Koster (My Morning Jacket), guitarist David Pulkingham (Patty Griffin), and bassist Jesse Ebaugh. The song commences with a southern rock vibe before the bridge expands with psychedelic delirium. It’s as if we’ve been transported to another world, and the journey continues right to the song’s trippy, Byrds-esque ending. If there was a song meant to be heard at Bonnaroo or Austin City Limits, it’s this one.
Otinget – “The Greatest Thing That Never Happened” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: José González, Sigur Rós, Dungen
Sometimes you need to immerse yourself in music for a mini holiday break. So when stress increases at home or work, use this song as a coping mechanism. There must be some kind of sonic black magic woven into each note that makes the debut single from Swedish trio Otinget such a transformative experience.
What begins as straightforward indie folk in the style of Junip or The Tallest Man on Earth evolves into something epic. The sweeping soundscapes created by Erik Nilsson (vocals, guitar), Victor Alneng (bass), and Tomas Eriksson (drums) soon reach cathartic levels on par with Sigur Rós and Dungen. The latter’s Reine Fiske on guitar provides some of the post-rock depth, but this group’s overall dynamic is fueled by their chemistry.
These guys are stellar musicians whose collective virtuosity is displayed throughout. Every note keeps listeners transfixed; every chord heightens interest in what will follow. The mellowness of the first half shines with Americana-inspired instrumentation. But around the four-minute mark that leisurely path takes a detour. Then a maelstrom full of swirling guitars, bass, and percussion continues for two more minutes. Only when the melodic calm returns do you begin to catch your breath.
If this stunning debut single is any indication, Otinget will likely rank high on many critics’ best albums of 2021 lists. Look for its release in September via Hidden Shoal Records.
Blvck Hippie – “Technicolor” (Memphis, USA)
RIYL: Told Slant, Pinegrove, Field Medic
We must have been hiding in a hole the last four years because Josh Shaw has been making music as Blvck Hippie all this time. The Memphis-based singer-songwriter dabbles in (according to his words) sad-boy indie rock. Regardless of labels, Shaw is an artist to know because he could be the rare individual who suddenly explodes due to Pharrell Williams or Questlove tweeting about his music. The young man is a gifted songwriter and musician, and his newest single might be his very best to date.
From its swaying, jangly guitar riff, tapping percussion, and Shaw’s stirring vocals, “Technicolor” echoes ’90s indie rock. The result is glorious. The song is a reminder that tremendous songwriting can turn a song with a familiar arrangement into a memorable one. His tale of “lost cause(s)” is relatable, as he recounts the struggles people like him experience every day. We are instead living a solitary life, walking past hundreds of people each day and no one bats an eye. At the same time, we feel nothing:
“I don’t belong here
I deserve to die
Why can’t I fall asleep
When I’m too drunk to cry?”
But in “Technicolor”, we feel everything Shaw does. We see a young artist who belongs among the great indie-rock songwriters and will certainly join their ranks soon.
Shaw’s new album, If You Feel Alone At Parties, drops this autumn via The Record Machine.
Always You – “Have It Your Way” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Prefab Sprout, Blue Nile, Alex Cameron
While twin brothers Christoph and Anton Hochheim dabble in various occupations – as musicians, producers, and publicists – they should consider writing screenplays for Netflix dramedies. Plenty of artists can claim to be storytellers, but the siblings take the craft to new heights through their project, Always You. Their excellent new album, Bloom Off the Rose, out now on Shelflife Records, showcases their creative writing skills. It is filled with great stories, particularly on tracks “Black City Nights” and “Crimson Red”. An extension of these two numbers comes in “Have It Your Way”.
Glam rock of the ’70s collides with neo-psychedelia, creating a groovy and infectious vibe. The melody is vibrant yet cool, a touch trippy and completely infectious (especially the dreamy sax solo). The song could very well be the background music heard on Welcome Back, Kotter or WKRP in Cincinnati. Or better yet, the storyline could be used on an episode of Soap, which sees the album’s protagonist have a meltdown:
“Your hardened lines they shake the boy inside of me
Upon your back without a want to be
Envision all the things you’d do but wouldn’t dare
You kiss her cheek and say a prayer
Then your daddy came home while your threads came undone
And you better
Say i don’t need for you validate my life”
Time to put in some of those VHS tapes and get nostalgic. Alternatively, since few people have a VCR player, head to Bandcamp to pick up Bloom Off the Rose.
A Place To Bury Strangers – “I Need You” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Mogwai, Slowdive, Lush
Most music fans associate A Place To Bury Strangers with steely, post-punk-infused shoegaze. For nearly two decades, the Oliver Ackermann-led outfit has been synonymous with noise. This includes much of their current EP, Hologramm, which featured songs “I Might Have” and “End of the Night”. Ackermann, John Fedowitz (bass), and Sandra Fedowitz (drums), however, are always full of surprises, and they deliver one gigantic curveball with “I Need You”.
Clocking in at just under six minutes, the trio send listeners on a memorable intergalactic ride. Instead of a wall of overwhelming shoegaze, A Place To Bury Strangers traverse more post-rock avenues. John’s bass still bleakly trembles, but Sandra’s percussion is restrained and more spatial. Ackermann, meanwhile, floods his guitar with dreamy reverb and crystalline chimes. His voice, too, is distant. As his voice slowly fades and the track reaches its piercing oblivion, Ackermann sends one final message to the love of his life. Like Major Tom, this is his final goodbye, as what awaits him is another light that becomes illuminated when all goes dark. Hopefully, his partner will see that light in the nighttime sky and know he is there. Simply awe-inspiring.
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