With the dog days of summer around the corner, The Matinee ’21 v. 107 is a special edition that offers a bit of escapism and plenty of energy. Seven songs are featured today, commencing with a gift from one of the great, indie, super-groups of the past decade.
Loma – “Going Out” (Dripping Springs and Austin, TX, USA)
RIYL: Wye Oak, Lower Dens, Sharon Van Etten (synth version)
Less than a year ago, super-Texas trio Loma released one of the most spellbinding records of the century with Don’t Shy Away. It was an intelligent and emotive piece of post-modern cinema and just superb artistry. There probably won’t be another album like it, and we’re not even sure if Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski of Cross Record and Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater could duplicate it. Then again, when perfection has been achieved, why try to? This seems to be the trio’s attitude because their surprise new single – it’s actually a cover of a song by Dinner – “Going Out”, is the polar opposite of anything on Don’t Shy Away.
Instead of being hypnotic and replicating a glamorous dream, Loma deliver a disco-pop dazzler. It is like a massive hallucination out of the ’70s that is happening in Nell’s Nightclub. In such a place, there is only one thing to do – dance the night away and feel the fluttery rhythms, the low sax hums, the pulsating bass, and Cross’ gorgeous voice penetrate every part of your body, mind, and soul. Breathe in every note and lyric and experience this wondrous cover and find a new life in a pandemic world.
“You were reading books
And you are taking walks
You were sleeping late
And you were doing drugs
And you’re uncanonical
You are wide awake
And you don’t, don’t want to escapee
The single is out on Sub Pop Records. Hopefully this means a new album is coming.
La Luz – “Watching Cartoons” feat. Adrian Yonge (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Faye Webster, Steady Holiday, Lomelda
In their brief history as a band, La Luz have mastered the art of late-summer music. From the spaghetti-western tones of “Cicada” to the breezy “In The Country”, their psych-tinged folk-pop is meant to be listened to under the stars and around campfires. Their songs, as we’ve said in the past, is perfect getaway music, accompanying us on a weekend road trip or allowing us to momentarily escape reality. With August fast approaching, there’s no better time than to break away and find a little oasis somewhere, even if that’s in your bedroom while “Watching Cartoons”.
With an assist from the incomparable Adrian Yonge, who produced the band’s upcoming new album, the Seattle-based trio turn up the psychedelic trippiness. The harmonies are cool and serene, the keys tingle, and guitar peaks with a Ravi Shankar-like haze. The experience is one of unforgettable haze, providing the setting for us to wonder about where we will go next. For front-woman Shana Cleveland, her destination is home, where she’ll watch animated features (like for the song’s music video created by Nathan Castiel) on the telly. Her lyrics can be interpreted in multiple ways – her enduring loneliness, a desire to be away from the crowds, or a message about one’s mental health.
“So long, farewell, goodbye
I think I went too far this time
The days all seem so bright
If you look for me I’ll be inside”
Whatever storyline one chooses, let’s hope this is not a band on the verge of saying “Adieu”. Instead, let it be another step in a great, young band’s progression to stardom.
La Luz are Shana Cleveland (lead vocals/guitar), Alice Sandahl (keyboard), and Lena Simon (bass). Their sophomore LP, La Luz, arrives October 15th via Hardly Art.
The Ballroom Thieves – “Woman” (feat. Lady Lamb) (Boston, USA)
RIYL: Lady Lamb, Johnnyswim, Lowland Hum
Boston-based indie folk outfit The Ballroom Thieves have been winning hearts, one song at a time, for nearly a decade. When we first saw them as a trio at Newport Folk Festival, their talent wowed all who could hear. Now the duo of Martin Earley (vocals, guitar) and Callie Peters (vocals, cello, bass) have shared their first single since percussionist Devin Mauch stepped away earlier this year to pursue other creative outlets.
“Woman” is a fitting title for a song that finds Callie Peters sharing the spotlight with another of our favorite artists, Lady Lamb. This summery tune is made all the more radiant with Lady Lamb’s backing harmonies that enhance the effortless charm Peters provides. These warm, languid tones that seem plucked from ‘70s-era AM radio leave you wondering if Burt Bacharach himself arranged it. Try to resist the song’s sway-inducing charm, but you will soon find that to be a fool’s errand.
Peters delivers lines like “I was your woman, and you were my woman” and “Dancing alone with your ghost in the dark” with sultry poise. A swell of Calexico-esque horns soon carries the song to its rousing apex. Jubilant and cathartic, the vocal fireworks leave listeners in a hushed awe as the song fades. “Woman” is musical perfection.
Stuck – “City of Police” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: Deeper, OMNI, Protomartyr
The city of Chicago is becoming the heart of post-punk in America. Maybe it’s the cold weather and the blustery winter winds where people need to huddle indoors to stay warm and the music needs to match the short days. Whatever the case may be, hopefully the Windy City will continue to produce bands like Stuck. This still-to-be-discovered quartet is like a gale coming off Lake Michigan, where once people feel their power they never forget it. Their fury is felt on “City of Police”.
At just 109 seconds, the single personifies Chicago’s post-punk scene. It is frenetic, bombastic, and immensely intelligent. The turbo-charged bass and rhythm guitar, the hammering drum line, and the crossing, chiming guitar all ring with the urgency of a group of youth fleeing for their safety. From whom are they running? It’s every person who thinks they have the right to bear arms and defend anything and everything. This has resulted in towns and metropolises becoming police states instead of centers of creativity and growth. This tune, as such, concerns the fear that now controls us, where everyone thinks they need to be armed to feel safe. Oh, the irony.
Stuck are David Algrim (bass), Tim Green (drums), Greg Obis (guitar, vocals), and Donny Walsh (guitar). The band’s new EP, Content That Makes You Feel Good, is due out August 13th via Exploding In Sound Records. Pre-orders are available at the label’s store and Bandcamp.
BLOXX – “Magnet” (London, England)
RIYL: Pale Waves, Sundara Karma, The Big Moon
Everyone knows that the music industry is highly competitive, and artists and bands get worn down by the endless declines in submissions and lack of replies to emails (we’re guilty of that). Any aspiring musician, though, could look at BLOXX for inspiration. Coming from modest backgrounds in West London, the quartet blew up the UK music scene in 2016 with “Your Boyfriend”, which became an unexpected hit. Shortly thereafter, the quartet signed with Chess Club Records, which further accelerated their ascent as one of England’s must-see live performers. Obviously a pandemic put their momentum on hold, but they’ll be out on the road soon. To get old and new fans excited about their upcoming gigs, BLoXX share an exhilarating new single in “Magnet”.
Bombastic late-’80s pop collide with early 2000s pop-rock on this electrifying track. It is made for strutting confidently down Main Street, moving ecstatically while jaunting through the park, or for jubilant jumping with friends. But more importantly, the song is intended to keep us on the straight and narrow because turbulent times are here and many more await. While Ophelia Booth’s lyrics focus on the gravitational pull of another person, her words also have much broader meaning, particularly when she sings:
“‘Cause I know things are changing ’round here now
And I wish I could live without the fear of how”
Sunshine Boysclub – “Don’t See Why” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Love Fame Tragedy, POND, Balthazar
This time of year, most pop songs are of the summertime variety in sound and content. The goal is to create THE anthem for the season, where people can dance the night away while singing along to the lyrics that tell the same old story. Sam Martin, who is better known as the lead singer and songwriter of indie-pop band Youngblood Hawke, could do the same with his new solo project, Sunshine Boysclub. He instead has opted to go against the grain. His debut single, “Patience”, was a catchy, summertime blissful tune, but it told the story of a person who has long lived a stormy life. He used an accessible medium to share an important message, and he continues the trend with “Don’t See Why”.
Martin’s second single is catchy as heck. It is disco-psych-pop executed to perfection, as the synergy between the funky rhythms, the jangly guitar, and Martin’s falsetto is The Bee Gees-esque supreme. The song, as such, bursts with an infectious energy that encourages non-stop dancing while emoting feelings of elation, excitement, and hope. Martin’s lyrics, too, instill courage and confidence in us. He is like our subconscious, telling us to not wallow in despair and disappointment.
“I don’t see why
You worry about what they think of you
I don’t see why
You don’t go do what you want to do
I don’t see why
You’re making it hard on yourself again
I don’t see why
You’re making the same mistakes again”
Preach on Sam! And everyone dance to your heart’s content.
Ólafur Arnalds – “Saudade” (When We Were Born) (Reykjavik, Iceland)
RIYL: Sigur Rós, Ludovico Einaudi, Goldmund
Elegant, atmospheric, and calming: the music of Icelandic artist Ólafur Arnalds is usually described with those terms. They fit, of course, since he creates lush masterpieces in the ambient/instrumental genre. As a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer, Arnalds knows how to use melodies for maximum emotional resonance. (Viewers of the British crime drama Broadchurch will recognize his work from there.) He succeeds yet again on his newest creation, “Saudade (When We Were Born)”, a track from an upcoming short film.
“Saudade” (pronounced “sow-dah-jheh”) encapsulates feelings of longing and loss. Both the term and the song arise from a place of melancholy that cannot be fully expressed with words. These feelings are brought to life on a grand scale with Arnalds’ delicate piano playing at the start. But soon the brightness of those notes becomes tinted with cloudy textures that provide a bittersweet depth.
Despite its brevity at two and a half minutes, “Saudade” achieves with heart-piercing accuracy what can take months in a therapist’s chair. Listen to this song with closed eyes and an open heart to fully experience its transformative effects.
You can stream the song and view the film from these links. His most recent album, Some Kind of Peace, arrived last year and is a must-hear release.
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