The Matinee ’21 v. 119 ushers in the week with moving new tunes. From rousing synth-pop and psych-rock to contemplative indie folk, this week’s mini playlist offers something for everyone.

 

Sam Fender – “Aye” (North Shields, England)

RIYL: Kevin Morby, Trevor Sensor, Hayden Calnin

While success may lead some to forget their roots, Sam Fender has not. Despite the success he’s achieved first as an actor and now as a singer-songwriter, he is telling the stories of his past and those like him. The cathartic and introspective “Seventeen Going Under” described how a rebellious young Fender made life difficult for his mother, who struggled as a single parent to earn enough to support her son. For the second single from his forthcoming sophomore album, Seventeen Going Under, he becomes the voice of the working class.

“Aye” is a searing critique on the establishment. From politicians to Hollywood A-listers and producers to the 1% who control 99% of the world’s wealth, Fender attacks their divisiveness, apathy, and commercialization of war, conflict, and all sorts of violence in order to increase profits while ensuring billions of people remain complacent. The 27-year-old artist’s lyricism is brilliant:

“They watched Hollywood whitewash remake movies
Of napalm falling like water on rocks
They watched the atom bomb reduce two cities to dust
And paint the whole narrative as totally just

They fly drones above our heads
That paint the ground black and red
Children’s eyes clasped in dread
They all knew where it led

Trade ties steeped in guile
They knew the fall was coming all the while
And they double down on misery
The age old blatant mystery
Subterfuge in synergy”

Seventeen Going Under, which Fender calls a coming-of-age album, is out October 8th via Polydor Records and Interscope. Pre-order and pre-save links are here.

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FUR – “When You Walk Away, Pt. I” (Brighton, England)

RIYL: The Growlers, Declan Welsh and the Decadent West, The Hollies

Some bands are unmistakably cover bands. Then there are those, like FUR, who not only resurrect music of generations passed but also make retro modern and cool.  Their knack for making jukebox tunes appropriate for dance clubs is why they were one of our Favorite Discoveries of 2018. Earlier this year they reminded us of their limitless potential with the boisterous “The Fine Line of a Quiet Life”. Now their long-awaited debut album is mere weeks away. The record’s second single is what one would expect from a band who combines the feelgood vibes of The Hollies with the scuzzy garage-rock of The Growlers.

Get ready to dance to “When You Walk Away, Pt. I”. Equally made for dance clubs and long road trips, the song electrifies with an infectious energy. Sizzling guitar hooks, groovy rhythms, and Murray’s hazy falsetto ignite the air. They take us back to the time of white t-shirts and leather jackets:

“I was hoping for a change, but change it never came.
Their eyes all the same, a campaign made of hate.
If you see me shed a tear when we lose all we hold dear,
To tyranny and fear, just take me away from here.”

One thing that will help us get through the days, however, is love. Or as Murray sings, “Find someone who loves you and donʼt let go. Find someone to believe in and let them know.”

When You Walk Away is due November 5 on Norwegian label 777 Music. Pre-save or pre-order the LP here.

FUR are: William Murray (vocal), Josh Buchanan (guitar), William ‘Tav’ Taverner (bass), and Flynn Whelan (drums).

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Luca Wilding – “Mama Make the Pain Stop” (London, Engalnd)

RIYL: Kishi Bashi + Sufjan Stevens + Nick Drake

London-based artist Luca Wilding is simply an incredible talent who pares surreal orchestration with fable-like stories. His last single, “Book of Fate”, which was pure dream-folk perfection, left us slack-jawed and amazed. Now he floors listeners anew with a gripping story that feels all too real.

No words can aptly describe the engrossing beauty of “Mama Make the Pain Stop”. It is tender at first with Wilding’s vulnerable voice floating effortlessly on the fluttering guitar riff. At this point he assumes the identity of a mother and wife, whose bipolar disorder has grown so severe she cannot differentiate between reality and fantasy nor family from foe. As she enters her conscious state, she realizes the harm she has done. “And I gave up when they said you were saved / So pull my head close, tell me I was brave / But don’t take him from me, please.”

As the song progressively intensifies reaches its gripping and breathtaking climax, the song’s emotion fully emerges. At this point, he becomes the child, who pleads for the final time for his pain to end. “Mama make the pain stop / Daddy fill the bathtub / Tell her that there’s nothing left”. As the song draws to its conclusion, we are left in shock and awe. That is the incomparable gift and power of Luca Wilding.

Wilding’s new EP, Book of Fate, is out October 22nd via Abbey Records. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.

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Future Islands – “Peach” (Baltimore, USA)

RIYL: Future Islands

Fans of Future Islands fans know to expect big things from the Baltimore-based band. Bold synth hooks and danceable beats are their trademark, as are the growling vocals of frontman Samuel T. Herring. But what fans probably don’t expect is a song that ventures far closer than usual to life’s darker side. “Peach” – their first single since their 2020 LP As Long As You Are (one of our favorite albums of 2020) – finds the band ruminating on the big topic.

“Death is in season,” Herring sings in contrast to the upbeat instrumentation. Despite the grim line, “Peach” stays true to the Future Islands sound. It’s full of hope in trouble times. Herring seems to recognize the challenge of sounding positive in the midst of global chaos. With sleek synths and heartbeat-synced percussion, the message of hope resonates with clarity. Anyone who’s feeling weary from the 24/7 barrage of bad news can find an antidote here. In just over three minutes this tune jump-starts your waning resolve:

“Life is the reason I’m still holding ground
Life isn’t perfect bodies and perfect sounds
Death is in season, it’s pushing me ‘round
But I’m not giving up
Not today, not today

This one makes you big, what a cruel world
This one makes you small, feel that lonely world
This one takes it all the way, but I’ll stay
‘Cause I won’t give you up
Not today, I won’t
I won’t give you up”

“Peach” is out now via 4AD from these links. Future Islands kick off their 2021-22 tour next week in California. European dates begin February 21st in Finland. 

Future Islands are: Samuel T. Herring (vocals), William Cashion (bass, guitars), Gerrit Wilmers (synths), and Michael Lowry (percussion).

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Ellevator – “Easy” (Hamilton, Canada)

RIYL: Oh Wonder, Alt-J, Grizzly Bear

It was not long ago when Ellevator were poised to stand alongside Broken Social Scene and Metric as Canadian indie rock bands who found commercial success. Their early music was accessible yet vibrant with stories that could have come from a ’90s coming-of-age movie. Instead of continuing down this path, the trio enlisted the assistance of Chris Walla (of Death Cab for Cutie fame) to guide them through a new path – one they can blaze all their own. Offering a hint of where their journey will take them and us, the Hamilton, Ontario-based outfit share “Easy”.

This shapeshifting number is like an unpredictable night. Patiently delivered beats and the slow build of synths open the track, creating the feeling we’ve entered a place where everyone is a stranger. This, however, is no ordinary establishment. There are no visible walls, and the patrons that occupy the space are carbon copies of ourselves. As the rumbling guitar and urgent rhythms tremble more loudly and the darkness grows, front-woman Nabi Sue Bersche recalls the lingering doubt that has existed inside her for years. She’s been told to question everything, including herself. This is brilliantly captured when Bersche sings:

“In conversation I’m made to feel I’ve been deceived
A child of innocence seduced by something worse than me
A flush, of heat
The chaff and then the wheat
Condemned, believed
Is this false prophecy?”

Should this be Ellevator’s new direction, we don’t think it will be a false prophecy to say Nabi Sue Bersche, Elliott Gwynne, and Tyler Bersche are well-positioned to indeed be one of Canada’s great indie-rock bands.

The single is out on Arts & Crafts, who will release the trio’s debut album early 2022.

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Church Girls – “Separated” (Philadelphia, USA)

RIYL: Camp Cope, Swearin’, Japandroids

Most music fans know that Philadelphia has a vibrant music scene. Kurt Vile, The War On Drugs, Hop Along, and Swearin’ are just a few of the artists who call the City of Brotherly Love home. Church Girls have not received quite the same amount of acclaim as their peers, but they unquestionably deserve to be mentioned alongside them. While Mariel Beaumont (vocals, guitar), Mitchell Layton (guitars, vocals), Julien Varnier (drums, vocals), and Vince Vullo (bass, vocals) have been mainstays within Philly’s music scene for nearly a decade, 2017’s “Better Off” put them on pretty much every tastemaker’s radar. The song revealed a band that can seamlessly shift gears and simultaneously have listeners dazzled and rocking out. The quartet continue to chart new courses, and their are currently headed towards a fiery direction.

There are no dazzling points on “Separated”, but instead it is a full-throttle rocker. Like all great rock songs, the intro gets listeners bouncing on their toes in anticipation of the inevitable explosion. But before that, Beaumont raises the temperature with her angst-driven lyrics, which are reminiscent of the days when grunge reigned.

“One day, we won’t think about it much
The sky will lift up and it won’t be unstuck from these sickly cycles
And old patterned loop
So we’ll put up with the perfect kids
Who still talk too much and swing their heads
It’s all caught in my throat, so we can both pretend”

With these words, we march forward, rocking out with a band who reminds us that we’ve come this far and we can persevere longer. This is why Church Girls are a band deserving of much more praise.

The single is out on Big Scary Monsters and Anchor Eighty Four Records. No word on a new album, but we’re anticipating one is coming in 2022.

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Murmurmur – “Alive” (Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: POND, Tame Impala, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets

In seeking psych-rock music that will send you hurtling through the universe, there really is only place to look. That is Down Under, where Australia has gifted the world with bands like King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard, POND, Tame Impala, and Psychedelic Porn Crumpets. These four bands masterfully bridge anthemic with chaos and catharsis with euphoria. A young band similarly doing the same are Murmurmur, who emphatically announced their arrival in 2018 with “Cable Car”. In a short three years, Will Fletcher, Alex Crosara, Jack Davies, Luke Haaja, and Fin Bradle have become Triple J favorites. Now they need to get played on KCRW, BBC Radio, and all the great indie stations across the globe, and “Alive” is just the ticket to spread the word.

Anyone who has followed the band will immediately recognize the trippy haze that streams across the track and the bustling, nervous energy that pops from the first to the last note. It is an intoxicating, sonic adventure that hurtles listeners through multiple space-time continuums. Occasionally, we’re transported to the ’70s and the spinning psychedelia of that time. Then we’re shot into not-so-distant future, whirling our way around asteroids on route to a distant galaxy. We feel like we’re Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Groot, Mantis, Nebula, and Rocket, and trying to survive another day.

The battle that Fletcher confronts, however, is in his head. He’s popping pills that are supposed to make him feel better, but they do not. They instead make him forget when was the last time he felt normal. In the end, like the Star-Lord, he has “to do what feels right” because “time is precious”. He needs to live to be alive. These are words to live by.

Murmurmur’s new EP, Moving Objects, is out November 25th on PIAS Australia and Inertia. It should be one awesome little record.

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The Ophelias – “Vapor” (Cincinnati & New York City, USA)

RIYL: Hop Along, Ratboys, Girlpool

When perfectly executed, melancholy can be extremely powerful. It can cause people to feel unexpected emotions or elicit once-forgotten memories. Indie folk-rock four-piece The Ophelias have mastered this craft. They showcased their gift of crippling mournfulness on the ingenious “Neil Young on High” and “Sacrificial Lamb”. The keys to their talents do not lie in fancy instruments or grand studios. Rather, their humbleness and authenticity are what turn their songs from languid affairs to emotionally-jarring experiences. Vocalist/guitarist Spencer Peppet (she/her), violinist Andrea Gutmann Fuentes (she/her), drummer Mic Adams (he/him), and bassist Jo Shaffer (they/them) demonstrate all this on “Vapor”.

With just her banjo accompanying her at first, Peppet’s lush voice is lost in introspective. “Lightness spreads over me / Bones made of paper”, she softly sings, revealing her vulnerability to the world. Her lyrics reflect the dichotomy of her life, as she now lives in the city that never sleeps yet she is all alone. The only things she hears are her own voice and the sirens that ring in the background (listen carefully to the ambulance in the background). Peppet, however, is not alone. She still has her friends and band-mates, who gradually join her and keep her company from a distant. They assume her pain, as reflected by Fuentes’ weeping violin becoming the centerpiece of the song’s final half.

The song is simple, it is melancholic, but it is beautiful and real. It is powerful in all its simplicity, and a reflection of this young band’s immense potential.

The Ophelia’s new album, Crocus, is out September 24th. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available here and Bandcamp. Joyful Noise Recordings has the privilege of releasing it.

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