The Matinee ’21 v. 120 features eight incredible songs that are among the very best of the year. From the return of a great southern-rock band to the discovery of a long-lost album to young bands that are about to hit the big time, this mini-playlist is made for a Hollywood movie.
My Morning Jacket – “Regularly Scheduled Programming” (Louisville, KY USA)
RIYL: My Morning Jacket, Strand of Oaks, Phosphorescent
Our modern world is a narcissist’s playground dominated by self-centered consumers. This is the crux of the message in the new My Morning Jacket single. Yesterday the Americana stalwarts released “Regularly Scheduled Programming” along with news of a self-titled album, their first collection of fresh material since The Waterfall and The Waterfall II were recorded in 2015.
The latter featured the band commenting on social issues (“Magic Bullet” addressed gun violence), a theme that continues here. In the Jim James-directed video, a desert road trip becomes a morality play. “Screentime addictions” and other self-indulgent vices (drinking, smoking, pill-popping, selfies, and compulsive shopping) fill the screen as James sings:
“Programming to drown out how we feel
Fresh fiction… rewriting how we think
Screen time addiction – replacing real life and love
Bow down to your overlords”
The tension builds with release coming when he sings, “Had enough?” This is a wake-up call to reign in our self-serving impulses that do nothing to improve our world. If any band can shake us from our collective rut, it’s My Morning Jacket.
Geese – “Low Era” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Iceage + Television + LCD Soundsystem
When Brooklyn art-punk outfit Geese released the exhilarating chaos that was “Disco”, we said they could redefine music. That song is already one of the very best of the year. Seriously, it’s in at least one of our writer’s top-5. Sure, bands and artists throughout history have struck gold once, but we’re pretty sure Geese are not one-hit wonders. On the contrary, if they stay together, they could very well be this generation’s Talking Heads. If you think we’re being too bullish about their potential, then wait until you hear “Low Era”.
We’ll say it now: Cameron Winter (vocals, keyboard), Max Bassin (drums), Gus Green (guitar), Dominic DiGesu (bass), and Foster Hudson (guitar) have delivered another Song-of-the-Year Candidate. “Low Era” is sooooooo gooooooood, and we don’t use those words very lightly. A funky little groove kicks off with the angular guitar at the forefront, and it gives way to Winter’s falsetto and DiGesu’s awesome bass line. Suddenly, the track turns from quirky and off-kilter to icy cool disco-punk. All we can do is strut with confidence, bopping our heads in time with the beat.
Beyond the great arrangement lies an incredibly creative story of a young man trying to make his way through life. Winter shares various vignettes of the protagonist’s world. Love, chance encounters, and broken dreams are told. His life also involves “Modern magazines and holy scriptures / My play rehearsals all go unheard”. Geese, though, will be heard loud and clear come October 29th. This is when their debut album, Projector, is released on Partisan Records .
W. H. Lung – “Gd Tym” (Manchester, England)
RIYL: The Music, Cold Cave, Depeche Mode, POND
People are jumping on W.H. Lung‘s bandwagon, and rightfully so. Our love affair, however, began before their 2016 debut single, “Inspiration!”. Half the members were in Chaika, one of the UK’s most exciting and dynamic indie outfits then. Now those adjectives apply to this project featuring Tom Sharkett (guitar), Joe Evans (vocals), Hannah Peace (synths, vocals), Chris Mulligan (bass, synths), and Alex Mercer Main (drums). What has us gravitating to their music is that they are constantly moving, delivering hit after hit. For instance, “Pearl In The Palm” was a sparkling disco-pop tune while “Showstopper” was a mosaic of genres. For the third track from their forthcoming album, they again break new ground.
Coldwave, darkwave, post-punk, disco-psych, and Krautrock merge on the hypnotic “Gd Tym”. Discerning indie fans may hear a bit of The Music’s piercing energy and Depeche Mode’s exhilarating broodiness. Others may detect the dizzying psych vibes of POND or the shadowy coolness of Cold Cave. But everyone will agree that this sound is intoxicating, vibrant, and brilliant. It is made with the idea that for us to truly live we must be ourselves. We must throw aside the costumes that hide our true identities because who knows when time will expire. If this song isn’t enough to make you take charge, then let the video be your motivation. Let the band and their friend dressed as a drag queen be your guide.
Gustaf – “Best Behavior” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: David Byrne, B-52s, Shopping, Dry Cleaning
We’ve been itching to share Gustaf‘s new song, which was streaming on SoundCloud for a week but was only officially announced yesterday. The wait, though, has been worth it because accompanying this funky, groovy, and immensely fun tune is an equally funky, groovy, and immensely fun video. Before we direct our attention to the video, we have to talk about the song.
Like everything that Lydia Gammill (vocals), Tine Hill (bass), Tarra Thiessen (vocals, percussion), Melissa Lucciola (drums), and Vramshabouh Kherlopian (guitar, vocals) have done in their short time as a band (such as the jerky “Book”), the track is an awesome piece of quirky art-punk. It is like David Byrne orchestrating a super-group that includes members of the B-52s, Shopping, Dry Cleaning, and OMNI. As the bass bops, the percussion tickles, and the keys deliver tonal organ-like notes, Gammill once again shares an amusing little tale of belonging and self-worth. It’s a relationship song like no other. Well, it could be the story of George Constanza’s love life and how he finds awkward ways to express his feelings. The video also displays some of this awkwardness.
Keep it this, cus
I’m good, I’m very, very good”
Buffalo Nichols – “Back on Top” (Milwaukee via Houston, USA)
RIYL: Gary Clark, Jr.; Dan Auerbach; The Black Keys
You may have read in these parts that first impressions are everything. When an artist reinvigorates the blues like Carl “Buffalo” Nichols did with “Lost & Lonesome” a month ago, one simply does not forget. On the contrary, one remembers for a long time if not eternity. One also remembers his story, which is that of a lonely traveler who shared his stories in the little venues across Central Europe. Now, the rest of the world will get to hear his great tales, such as “Back On Top”.
Whereas his previous single was classic blues, he turns to swampy blues-rock on this number. And it is awesome. A tremble of his electric guitar and the top-tapping rhythms are familiar yet inspiring, sending us back to a time when families gathered in the living room to play games and tell stories. They may read from a great book or make up their own little legend. This is what Nichols does on “Back On Top”. It’s a love story built on a moment and plenty of dreams. A story that maybe one day two people will make it big.
“You and me babe we gonna live like a king and queen
Make a kingdom from this bar
Expensive drinks and cheap cigars
You and me we gonna live like a king and queen”
And we believe Nichols will soon be blues royalty. It could happen as soon as October 15th, which is when his debut album, Buffalo Nichols, is released on Fat Possum Records. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available from these links and Bandcamp. His solo U.S. tour is underway with additional dates in the fall supporting Drive-By Truckers. Get to know this future legend.
Geographer – “Never Let You Down” (San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Bon Iver, Passenger, Noah Gundersen
Some days require more reassurance than others. When you feel the weight of everything, you need a source of solace. Maybe that’s a trusted friend or a therapist. Perhaps it’s an open trail where you can commune with nature. Those who rely on music know how powerfully a song can buoy a sinking spirit. San Francisco-based artist Geographer creates exactly that type of soul-affirming music. Just as he did last month with “Waiting For a Stranger”, Mike Deni again floors listeners with another stunning track.
“Never Let You Down” is a tender yet anthemic ballad from his forthcoming album, Down and Out in the Garden of Earthly Delights. Bold synths at the intro hint at the grandeur that will return on the chorus, a contrast to the restrained verses. His delivery of the lines “I wish you would come over again / so I could kiss you” is imbued with both longing and hope. Even without an explanation for the underlying heartache, you sense the desire to make amends. You’re won over by the earnestness and honesty long before Deni’s breathtaking falsetto seals the deal. Prepare to feel your heart swell with each utterance of the refrain “I’ll try not to let you down.” Assurances like that are a special kind of solace indeed.
The High Strung – “Beautiful Summer” (Detroit, USA)
RIYL: Guided by Voices, Superette, Yo La Tengo
We love great stories in songs. This is known. Then there is a story of a band that cannot be ignored, but it must be told. The story of The High Strung is like something from out of a Hollywood movie, and there is a bit of truth to that. Reaching their peak as college radio favorites in the ’90s, the band members started new careers. This included co-founder and singer-songwriter Josh Malerman becoming a New York Times best-selling author for his novel, Bird Box. Yes, the same book that inspired the Netflix film that starred Sandra Bullock and started one of the great fads of this decade.
Despite his success, the calling of the stage was too great. Like rummaging through one’s grandparents’ attic, Malerman, Mark Owen, Chad Stocker, Derek Berk, and Jason Berkowitz discovered an album that was recorded back in 2002 but never saw the light of day. Nineteen years later, HannaH, will finally be revealed and, in the process, the world will get to discover what a great band The High Strung were. Check that, are. The first single, “Beautiful Summer”, is an instant classic – literally and figuratively.
Part ’70s rock and another part ’90s indie rock, the tune is the perfect end-of-summer tune. Jittery rhythms, groovy guitars, and warm harmonies welcome us into The High Strung’s retro greatness. We sway to the sweet melodies, reminiscing about the days of our youth and when our biggest worries were whether that one person liked us back. Similarly, the band reflect on that one summer of bliss and heartbreak.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get to know her
But we spent some time one summer back
It was a beautiful summer where nobody’s watched over
By the fallen angels climbing their way back
And nothing comes to mind
If I think of any kind words we had
Or good times from bad
Who can tell?”
The band’s new (or is it old?) album, HannaH, is out October 29th on Park The Van. Maybe Netflix will make a movie about the album.
Freedom Fry – “I Didn’t Feel Like Dancing” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: The Mamas & The Papas, Captain and Tenille, KC and the Sunshine Band
Long-time followers of The Matinee know that Freedom Fry are long-time favorites, and one of the most covered bands here. We’re talking 6.5 years worth of music. Whether they’re crafting indie folk, folk-pop, or disco-pop, they always find a way to leave a smile on our face. Marie Seyrat and Bruce Driscoll are like a breath of fresh air, offering us relief in our greatest time of need. With the uncertainty that surrounds us, they arrive to lift our spirits with the retro-pop gem, “I Didn’t Feel Like Dancing”.
The song brims with the bright and bubbly optimism of the ’70s. It is four minutes of bright, radiant sunshine, and we bask under the duo’s inviting warmth. Through the shimmering pop melodies seamlessly merge with glistening disco-pop, we skip, we spin, and we dance in celebration that we get to live another day. Or maybe we dance because we have met that person who brightens each and every day. As the married couple sing:
“Feels like I’m walking all across the sky
I didn’t feel like dancing until I met you
You got me going, you kept me through the night
I didn’t feel like dancing until I met you
Don’t let me go and I’ll keep you by my side
I didn’t feel like dancing until I met you”
Have a safe and wonderful week everyone. May you find someone to dance with today, tonight, and for every day.
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