From breathtaking, nostalgic numbers to booming art-punk to serene garden landscapes, The Matinee ’21 v. 109 features songs made for these summer weekends. These tracks are also featured on the Songs of July 2021 playlist, which can be found on SoundCloud and Spotify.
Bleach Lab – “Real Thing” (London via Buckinghamshire, England)
RIYL: The Sundays, Cocteau Twins, The Cure, Sixpence None the Richer
Earlier this year, Bleach Lab‘s following was a couple of hundred. Six months later, their fanbase has increased some six-fold, which is even more impressive when considering the London quartet have been DIY-ing it from day one (and a pat on our backs for naming them Artists to Watch this year). It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why Jenna Kyle (vocals), Josh Longman (bass), Frank Wates (guitar), and Shawn Courtney (drums) are on the cusp of becoming the UK’s next music powerhouse. Early singles “Never Be”, “Old Ways”, and “Flood”, which were all on their tremendous debut EP, A Calm Sense of Surrounding, exemplified the quartet’s ability to make dazzling, nostalgic dream-pop sound cinematic and fresh. The quartet strike again with another tune that belongs on the big screen.
“Real Thing” is made for a ’90s coming-of-age movie. The gorgeous, dreamy tones that emanate from Longman, Wates, and Courtney’s instrumentation is intoxicating. At times, the song releases the dazzling delirium of The Sunday’s “Here’s Where the Story Ends” and the awe-inspiring heights of The Cure’s “Pictures of You”. Kyle’s sensationally lush voice, meanwhile, is the jaw-dropper. She enchants with her tale of wanting someone that she cannot be with. It’s a story many know all too well, and Kyle beautifully captures the desire and pain that comes with being in love.
“I really wanna see you again
I wanna be more than friends, more than friends
Rooms lit up by the streetlight, I really wanna hold you tonight
Thee video is available on YouTube and worth watching for its ’90s vibes.
Gustaf – “Book” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Le Tigre, B-52s, Shopping
Two songs were enough for us to name Gustaf as Artists to Watch for 2021. With “Design” and “Mine”, the quintet turned post-punk on its head, making the genre quirky, fun, and even arty in a David Byrne kind-of-way. Calling the Brooklyn-based band creative or imaginative would understate their talent. They’re more like trailblazers. So it took more than half-a-year for the band to release new material, but the wait was worth it. Not only have Gustaf shared a new song; they’ve also announced their debut album, Audio Drag for Ego Slobs, will be released on October 1st. To which we say, “WOOHOO!!!” And further getting us excited, the LP’s lead single features everything that makes Lydia Gammill (vocals), Tine Hill (bass), Tarra Thiessen (vocals, percussion), Melissa Lucciola (drums), and Vramshabouh Kherlopian (guitar, vocals) future stars.
Forget about studying, but instead this “Book” is made for frenetic dancing. The track is bouncy, quirky, and wildly amusing and bombastic. At a crisp two minutes, listeners should fully immerse themselves into it, as if they are cramming for an exam. This is the only way to truly enjoy not this song but the bodacious brilliance of Gustaf. Gammill’s lyrics, too, are entertaining and quirky.
“I’m just playing tuba (I had, I had)
And I asked you for a (I had, I had)
And then it comes for me
I wanted you to come down here and love me like a real human!”
Amyl and The Sniffers – “Security” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Bikini Kill, L7, Bratmobile
When thinking about the best punk bands around, Melbourne’s Amyl and The Sniffers have to be mentioned. Amy Taylor (vocal), Bryce Wilson (drums), Dec Martens (guitar), and Fergus Romer (bass) channel the energy and sonic explosiveness of bands like Bikini Kill, L7, and The Ramones in every song. We don’t think terms like “melancholic”, “melodic”, or “lounge” exist in their vocabulary. They are after all a punk band. This doesn’t mean, however, they cannot write a love song. Just don’t expect it to be appropriate for an intimate, romantic evening. Also, don’t expect it be like every other love song but more like a play on it. Now grab your loved one’s hand and get ready to mosh to “Security”.
Like their previous single, “Guided by Angels”, “Security” is a rip-roaring, adrenaline-inducing blazer. There isn’t a single moment to catch your breath, so there is no time to sneak a quick kiss. Heck, romance can wait a few minutes because right now our bodies are moving to the propulsive energy that sears from Martens’ searing guitar, Wilson’s pounding drums, and Romer’s pulsating bass. Taylor’s scorching vocal, likewise, explodes. Her words are not so much about finding love but addressing the leerers in the pub that are seeking to score.
“I distracted you with all of my bullshit
I covered myself in distractions
Colours and patterns, you couldn’t see the real me
I wanna deceive you, you’re stupid I’m fast”
Zelma Stone – “Gift Horse” (San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Angel Olsen, Molly Burch, Pearl Charles
In early 2020, we were introduced to Zelma Stone, which is the alias of Chloe Zelma Studebaker. The San Francisco-based singer-songwriter’s single “Fly” was, as we termed it, majestic. It revealed an artist who paired gripping content with an equally mesmerizing sound, and this combination should eventually lead to indie stardom. It did take Angel Olsen a solid five years before she broke out, and we fully expect Studebaker’s elevation to follow a similar trajectory. Or maybe it accelerates due to “Gift Horse”.
This song is a soaring, stunning folk rocker. It is reminiscent of Olsen and Sharon Van Etten in their prime but elevated to cinematic and anthemic levels. The first half is melodically paced and sparkles like the glowing setting sun on a perfect summer’s morning. Its presence is overwhelming, but the fireworks are just beginning. The song quickly builds, and a gritty, booming urgency envelops Stone’s smoky and alluring vocals. This atmosphere belongs to a young woman who is standing her ground and making her own presence known, and everyone can feel her.
“I’m waiting on the edge of my seat
I’ll be on my high horse when the words come to me
How dare you call me unkind
How would I look it in the mouth if it never was mine?
In time, you’re all right, you’re alright
My god, she’s so fine, she’s so fine”
Studebaker’s new EP, The Best, arrives August 20th. Pre-order it on Bandcamp. The young artist is going to be a star.
Low Hummer – “Human Behaviour” (Hull, England)
RIYL: The Orielles, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Fazerdaze, Cocteau Twins
While the first two songs on the list featured two bands to watch this year, Low Hummer are one of our favorite discoveries of the year. Granted, the five-piece have been performing for a few years, but our first introduction to them was with the euphoric “Never Enough”. While we don’t know what resurrection is like, we imagine it would sound like that. But if we were to stay in the afterlife, it might resemble something like “Human Behaviour”.
The track will delight fans of the genre that will never die – shoegaze. It is a scintillating experience that simultaneously has a levitating and reinvigorating feeling. Classic, chiming, reverb-drenched guitars; the buzzing synths; and the riveting rhythms – particularly the post-punk-ish bass line – are outlandishly exhilarating, and they make us want to fight for every inch of ground and every last breath. Front-woman Aimee Duncan similarly reminds us that our time on Earth is limited.
“One day I’ll be gone
You will move on
And time will grow old with you
Years will come and go
You can look back, but don’t get stuck”
We don’t think this band is about to get stuck. Instead, they’re shooting for the stars, which is where we’ll likely find them come September 17th. This is when Aimee, Dan, Steph, Jack, and John’s debut album, Modern Tricks for Living, will be released via Dance To The Radio. Pre-order it here.
Le Pain – “Troisième Groupe” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Crumb, Alvvays, Stereolab
An internet search of southern France in the ’60s would reveal images of beach-goers clad in fashionable, pastel bathing suits and packed plazas. The music coming from the country was similarly blissful and delightful, reflecting a nation on the rebound following years of turmoil. Although we haven’t experienced a World War, we, like the French people back then, are starting to live normal lives (well sort of) after 18 months of banishment. To help us find our way again, a new “super-group” has emerged. Featuring members of Yucky Duster and Public Practice, Le Pain are four Americans drawing inspiration from Nice, Cannes, and Saint-Jean-de-Luz on their new single, “Troisième Groupe”.
This little psych-infused dream-pop number is intended to do one thing – make us feel good about the times and days ahead. It is bright, euphoric, and teeming with positivity. As multi-instrumentalist Scott Rosenthal and bassist Alan Everhart twirl smooth, jittery grooves, Madeline and Olivia Babuka Black’s harmonies have a nostalgic feel. The two sing about being third-class citizens, where people ignore them unless they need something. But the Babuka Black sisters wouldn’t change a thing because from where they sit they can be free expectations. They can be free to live a life they want.
The single is out on Lucky Buckeye Records. Here’s hoping more songs are on the way from this super-group.
Grace Gillespie – “All The Yellow Flowers” (London, England)
RIYL: Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Rosie Carney
When listening to Grace Gillespie‘s music, we are often left to ponder how popular she would have been if she lived in the ’60s and had a chance to perform at Woodstock and Newport Folk Festival. She would probably be mentioned alongside Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez and known today as one of music’s most influential singer-songwriters. Like these two legends, all her songs are magical and unforgettable. Her sophomore EP, After the Harvest Moon, for instance, was filled with mystical sounds and thoughtful stories. It was an absolute gem and unsurprisingly one of our favorite EPs of 2020.
During London’s multiple lockdowns, Gillespie used the time to write new songs, which will be included in her yet-to-be-named debut album. She is currently hosting a fundraiser to finance the LP, and people can either donate directly or purchase exclusive prints Gillespie and her father produced. Twenty percent (20%) of all proceeds will go to MIND charity, making Gillespie’s efforts a multi-purpose drive. To offer what is in store when it comes to her first full-length, she shares “All The Yellow Flowers”.
This low-key number is simply beautiful. With a serene, graceful melody featuring a lightly-strummed guitar and Gillespie’s soothing vocal, she poetically sings about feeling separated from a world she once knew.
“It is done, it is what it is,
And in the sun, in the shadow I cannot forgive
And for a love, for a fear, for a fantasy
I am done, I am gone, I am all that I can be
And all the yellow flowers turn their empty heads to me
What else can they see, but a death by small degrees
They have me on my knees”
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