The Matinee ’21 v. 118 edition is a throwback, as each of the eight songs recall eras when music reached incredible creative peaks. Similarly, each of the artists and bands are pushing music to new heights and limits. The mini-playlist begins with one of the great, shape-shifting indie bands of the 21st Century.
Parquet Courts – “Walking at a Downtown Pace” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Blur, LCD Soundsystem, David Byrne
The shapeshifters better known as Parquet Courts have proven time and time again they are completely unpredictable. Their first two albums, American Specialties and Light Up Gold, were quick bursts of blistering post-punk and garage rock with most of the songs coming in at 90 seconds or less. In 2014, they released two awesome records. Content Nausea, which the band released under the pseudonym Parkay Quarts, saw the quartet reinvent ’70s garage-rock while Sunbathing Animal was an adrenaline-filled rocker. In the following year, they surprised with the largely instrumental Monastic Living, which was a brilliant critique of people’s obsession with social media. 2018’s Human Performance, meanwhile, was a wide-ranging but intelligent effort that still rocked. Unsurprisingly, most of these records made our year-end Favorite Albums list.
With so many wildly successful and creative records to their name, what more could Andrew Savage (lead vocals/guitar), Austin Brown (guitar), Sean Yeaton (bass), and Max Savage (drums) do? Well, the answer is plenty, as displayed on “Walking at a Downtown Pace”.
Parquet Courts’ first new single in three years is a funkdefied combustion of David Byrne and Blur. It is an anthem made for, well, strutting down Main Street with one’s head held high. It is an anthem of liberation, of days when we can actually return to normal. Those days are still a long ways away, but the Brooklyn-based quartet remind us what awaits.
“I’m making plans for the day all of this is through
Seeing my path there
Hearing the song I’ll sing and food that I’ll taste and all the drinks that I’ll consume
Return the smile of an unmasked friend
As we take streets I don’t walk down cause I want to avoid
Walk at a downtown pace and treasure the crowds that once made me act so annoyed
Sometimes I wonder how long ’till I’m a face in one?”
Parquet Courts’ seventh album (if one includes Parkay Quarts), Sympathy for Life, will be released October 22nd via Rough Trade. Pre-orders available here and directly on Bandcamp. Let the celebration begin!
Battle Ave. – “My Year With the Wizard” (Kingston, NY USA)
RIYL: Pavement, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Yo La Tengo, Chad VanGaalen
Battle Ave. is another New York group with an inventive sound to be savored. After a decade together (their debut released in 2011), the band are reintroducing themselves with a self-titled EP due in October. The album’s lead single is a sonic adventure that hooks listeners from the first note.
“My Year With the Wizard” is exactly the escape you need right now. The lo-fi riffs transport you to another time – namely the early ’90s when bands like Pavement and Yo La Tengo dominated college radio. Plenty of old-school indie authenticity is heard throughout the track, from the cool, rollicking sound to the wonderfully playful yet relatable lyrics. Front-man Jesse Doherty’s tale is part fantasy and part reality. At times, he is like Bilbo Baggins and another time he’s Chandler Bing. “My year with the wizard was a long one / You act like a friend, but you’re the wrong one”, he sings at the start.
Then he’s like James Bond and Jon Snow, trying to figure out his destiny and, more importantly, where he truly belongs.
“My year with the lovers wasn’t worth it / I asked for too much, I think i cursed it
I asked for the kill, but not the question / What do you want from me?”
And we have to ask ourselves, “How the heck has this band hovered under the radar for so long?”
Head over to Bandcamp for pre-orders of Battle ave. ahead of its October 8th release. The band includes Jesse Doherty, Samantha Niss, Adam Stoutenburgh, John Burdick, and Peter Naddeo.
Hana Vu – “Everybody’s Birthday” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Indigo De Souza, Spelling, Cina Polada
Even before Hana Vu released the Americana-tinged rocker, “Maker”, in July, we thought she had the potential to be a massive indie star á là Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten. The young LA-based artist oozes talent, and it t is only a matter of time before Vu catapults to the front of every listener’s mind. Accelerating her path to stardom is “Everybody’s Birthday”.
Whereas “Maker” had a fleeting, existential quality, “Everybody’s Birthday” is a dark and hypnotic number. A rumbling bass, organ-like synths, and trembling drums create a brooding soundscape. This is the world governed by a sinister being, and the song is her anthem. As others cower in this mad, mad world, she walks confidently among them. “Evil is my name, I guess I’ve earned it”, Vu sings, taking on the persona of a Grim Reaper-like character. As she comes to terms with who she is, she observes that “everyone is crying in the hallway” and “everyone I love is blue”. Instead of seeking to raise their spirits, she feeds on their sadness and vulnerability. She craves it.
Like we said, Vu is a star-in-the-making. She is, however, already an artistic genius.
PYNKIE – “Movies” (New Jersey, USA)
RIYL: The Weather Station, Steady Holiday, The Japanese House,
While we all seek to escape and even some respects ignore the reality around us, some live it everyday. Sophie Payten, who goes by the pseudonym Gordi, is an emergency room doctor. Lindsey Rae Radice – aka PYNKIE – is a registered nurse. Each day, she either is helping people to live another day or to bring a little joy. But one does not need to be a patient of Radice to experience her altruistic gifts. We can instead turn on our favorite streaming service and be in her presence. For her latest single, she takes us on a trip to go see the “Movies”.
Radice’s newest song is a blissful piece of summertime indie-pop. It glistens with the warmth of a cloudless day, yet Radice’s breezy vocal is like the refreshing wind blowing from the ocean. For about 2.5 minutes, we become lost in this little piece of escapism, feeling revitalized by the New Jersey resident’s magical touches. While she cures our wounds, she reveals her own in this little tale of unrequited love.
“Take me to the movies
I just wanna be your friend
I don’t wanna let myself go
To the only one who makes me cry
I look at you and you’re staring back at me”
Kind of sounds like something out of the movies. Hopefully, Radice’s next song will have a happy ending.
Ashley Shadow – “Grey” (Vancouver, Canada)
RIYL: Emma Ruth Rundle, Cassandra Jenkins, Sun June
Every time Ashley Shadow‘s songs are heard, we have to remind ourselves to take a long, deep breath. Her music is beyond captivating. It is magical, as she exhibited earlier this year with two stunners in “For Love” and “Don’t Slow Me Down”. The Vancouver native, whose real name is Ashley Webber, is in many respects a throwback to the days of when music was simple yet poignant and beautiful. At the same time, she’s a rebel, who does not need any synths, laptops, or other modern conveniences. All she needs to do is sing, embracing listeners with her angelic voice and penetrating alt-folk / dream-rock sound. This is what she does with “Grey”.
Like a dream that suspends you for hours, “Grey” is unforgettable and lingers with you for days. Every element is deftly executed, allowing each note to reverberate in our minds. In the process, we are paralyzed. In this state, we become transfixed to Webber’s immaculate voice and story of the power of undying love. It is a story that on the other side of darkness lies light.
“I’ve spared you from hearing about
All the fear that was before you came around
I’ve lived with it and a solemn vow
To keep you out, my love, to keep you out”
Lily Konigsberg – “That’s The Way I Like It” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Liz Phair, Veronica Falls, Palberta
Fans of indie band Palberta are familiar with Lily Konigsberg, who released one of the best EPs in 2018 with It’s Just Like All The Clouds. The record was a coming-out party of sorts, revealing Konigsberg’s sharp songwriting wit and classic indie sound. More people are about to know her name when her debut solo album, Lily We Need to Talk Now, is released October 29th on Wharf Cat Records. When they hear it, they just might think they are hearing the second coming of Liz Phair. Or at least the LP’s lead single, “That’s The Way I Like It”, indicates.
At a concise 123 seconds, the song jitters, ripples, and rollicks. And with its jangly guitar and a tight rhythm section, we are brought back to 1993 and indie rock’s peak. During these more innocent times, we can dance away our problems and think about what tomorrow brings. It takes a certain attitude, however, to think this way, and Konigsberg has it in spades. As she sings:
“Blame me for your sadness
What am I supposed to say?
Until you recognize your wrongs
You’re gonna have a shitty day
That’s the way I like it (x3)
You can’t do anything about it”
Flossing – “Add to Cart” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Alice Glass, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode
Speaking of breakout artists, Heather Elle’s project, Flossing, is one to watch. While better known as the former bassist for The Wants and previously BODEGA, Elle has pushed the bounds of sonic possibilities with her Gothic debut single, “Switch”, and multi-genre scorcher, “TRAP”. She displays her versatility on “Add to Cart”.
Art-punk meets Gothic rock, industrial, and krautrock on this whirling, dark, yet mesmerizing track. It is 1973 Berlin meshed with 2015 New York City, and, as such, the song could easily be played at an exclusive dance club or a dungeon-like bar where the patrons are all dressed in leather. NIN-like heavy bass and rhythms drive the track at the start before it gives way to a searing guitar, which illuminates the soundscape. Then the song settles into a hypnotic groove, reminiscent of Depeche Mode in their prime.
The approach provides the perfect canvas for Elle’s message of how technology has only increased our consumerism tendencies. “Magically malicious and suspicious / Snap, shackle, huff / Add to cart!“, she poignantly sings. We do this because we want a “life full of surprises”, but the only surprise is that we can never be satisfied.
Holy Hive – “Story of My Life” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Fleet Foxes, Midlake, Calexico, José González
Prepare to experience one of those audio double-take moments that stops you in your tracks. This genre-defying single from Holy Hive is one of the summer’s most refreshing releases. “Story of My Life” owes its sun-kissed warmth to a wide range of influences: surf pop, indie folk, jazz, and soul, to name a few. So who is this outfit set to release a self-titled LP next month?
Brooklyn-based Holy Hive is the project comprised of singer Paul Spring, drummer Homer Steinweiss, and bassist Joe Harrison. Together they create kaleidoscopic textures that evoke carefree summer days and moonlit nights. Cool, sophisticated jazz rhythms from Steinweiss (who’s played drums for Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, and more) give “Story of My Life” its breezy foundation. The bass grooves and keys dazzle while Spring’s falsetto leaves a smile on your face.
Holy Hive elevate your senses with their inventive sound. Keep this one on repeat because you are sure to discover new flashes of brilliance with each listen.
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