The Matinee ’21 v. 125 provides the music for this final day of summer’s final long weekend. It includes songs that are cathartic, enchanting, and blissful.
The Besnard Lakes – “Superego” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Slowdive, Spiritualized, The Jesus and Mary Chain
Canadian indie greats The Besnard Lakes made a splash with their January 2021 double LP, The Besnard Lakes Are the Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings. That release marked a triumphant rebirth on a new label. Now once again their musical mastery is displayed on this track that haunts and wows in equal measure.
“Superego” feels like an exploration of the hereafter. Its gauzy tones seem to come from behind a veil in another world where listeners are invited to enter. Once inside the experience becomes fully immersive with a rumbling guitar riff and ethereal vocals. You remain intrigued yet uncertain of what lies ahead. This is one of the many ways that The Besnard Lakes keep fans mystified. For nearly 20 years Jace Lasek (guitars) and Olga Goreas (vocals) have been creating sonically rich music ranging from dreamy shoegaze to progressive psych-rock. On this track Sheenah Ko (keys), Richard White and Robbie MacArthur (guitars), and Kevin Laing (drums) help weave dense, reverb-heavy layers through which Goreas’s vocals float. It’s everything fans love about this band: lushness, mystery, and ecstasy.
The Besnard Lakes are one of the scheduled headliners for this year’s POP Montréal festival to be held September 22-26, 2021.
Mellor – “Shame” (Reading, England)
RIYL: a very young U2, Wavves, Foo Fighters
Back in the mid-’70s, four teenagers from Dublin formed a band, and they were influenced by the likes of The Jam, The Clash, and The Buzzcocks. Their early songs possessed the urgency and restlessness of punk, but over time U2 would evolve to become the self-anointed biggest rock band in the world (and that was true at one point in the ’90s). While the veteran rockers’ prime has passed, their formative years were raw, compelling, and vivacious. The same could be said for Mellor.
Like a young Bono, The Edge, Adam, and Larry, the early career of Gary, Sam, Kris, and Josh possesses the same fervor and fire. They showcased this three years ago when they released “Safe Word”, and their new EP, Fragment of Imagination, further reveals a band on the rise. The record’s centerpiece is “Shame”.
The song’s intro has a Foo Fighters feel, but it quickly turns. A delayed guitar, a surging rhythm section, and the angst-driven vocal and lyricism are all reminiscent of U2 during their Boy and War eras. One can imagine the band going full tilt with Gary even hanging from the rafters of The Face Bar, his sweat dripping on the patrons below. All the while his band mates fire one pummeling note after another on this track concerning one woman’s slow decay. Come to think of it, the track actually could be the sequel to U2’s “Out of Control”.
Purchase and streaming links for Fragment of Imagination are available here.
THYLA – “Gum” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Wolf Alice, Pale Waves, Black Honey
Since hearing “Betty” way back in 2015 and following them since, we have been waiting six years to write these words – Thyla‘s debut album is coming. Unlike when they shared the dazzling dream-pop single, “Breathe”, in January, the Brighton-based trio have a date for their long-awaited first LP. January 28th, 2022 to be specific, which is still more than four months away. At least there’s a date, and unsurprisingly the record is titled, Thyla. Accompanying the announcement is a song that is the perfect microcosm of the band’s excellence.
“Gum” is a blistering piece of indie-rock euphoria, which is meant to be heard in the biggest stadiums of the world. The energy that explodes from Mille Duthie’s voice and guitar, Dan Hole’s bass, and Danny Southwell’s drums is not just infectious but invigorating. It is meant to cause all to momentarily lose their proverbial shit and rediscover who they are. Duthie’s lyrics, too, point to this idea of finding our balance and sanity in this time of confusion and madness. When she sings, “I’m stuck like gum in my head”, we can completely empathize with this feeling of malaise. But with Thyla here, they get us out of our rut and encourage us to race forward. Now only if we can fast-forward time to early 2022.
Klangstof – “Copper” (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
RIYL: Phoria, Mt. Wolf, Zola Blood
Some electronic bands focus on creating music for raves, clubs, and 300,000-plus festivals. Their purpose is to entertain and electrify crowds. Then there are those groups who choose to turn electronica into an enthralling experience. The synths, 808s, drum machines, keys, and computers are their orchestra. For seven years, Dutch outfit Klangstof have taken listeners to the stars and to the unexplored trenches of Earth’s oceans. Their music in not just cinematic but also subliminal. We not only hear each note, but we see it, as we do on “Copper”.
An interstellar beauty is Klangstof’s latest single, which was released as part of The FACTORY 001 compilation. Every element is deftly executed, so that each little beat, tone, and texture can be felt. When they come together, as they do during the song’s gently swelling climax, the song turns from enchantment to exhilaration. It’s like traversing through the unknown and being awed by every flicker of light, passing entity, and the stillness of our surroundings. When a song can make you feel such things without uttering a single word, it is what we like to call a masterpiece. As such, it truly should be heard in every art gallery and museum on the planet.
Klangstof are Koen van de Wardt, Wannes Salome, and Erik Buschman. They are one of the most underrated electronic bands around.
Strand of Oaks – “Somewhere in Chicago” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: Lord Huron, Fleet Foxes, Houndmouth
Have you ever noticed how someone’s eyes light up when they talk about their heroes? That sense of revery and wonder makes the stories they tell all the more special. You gain a greater appreciation for someone you’ve never met when they are remembered with hallowed regard. This is exactly what Strand of Oaks frontman Tim Showalter achieves on the new single from his forthcoming LP, In Heaven.
“Somewhere in Chicago” is a hat-tip to the great John Prine. The music world lost a legend when he passed in 2020, but his influence remains in the artists he influenced. In this mellow ballad Showalter reflects on the legendary Americana troubadour who grew up in Chicago:
“Where you gonna hide when the mist is gone
Take it out back and use it in a song
John’s on a walk somewhere in Chicago
(The mist, it calls back in the wind)
Losing our leaders, who you gonna follow?
(The mist it calls, back in the wind)”
Prine would surely have loved this tune’s warm textures and its ambling, mid-tempo pace. Showalter has a gift for writing tributes to his influences, as he did with the Jason Molina-inspired “JM” from his 2014 album, Heal. “Somewhere in Chicago” reminds listeners why Showalter is a songwriter’s songwriter. In honoring his predecessors he joins their ranks, one humble tune at a time. When you see him perform, you witness his revery in action.
We highly recommend catching his show if he plays anywhere near you. His upcoming U.S. tour begins October 11 in Boston while the European tour starts February 3 in Paris.
Marlin’s Dreaming – “Trophies” (Dunedin, New Zealand)
RIYL: Lime Cordiale, W.H. Lung, Grizzly Bear
Despite possessing 60% of New York City’s population, New Zealand produces outstanding artists and bands. Its music scene is among the world’s very best, which most music savants already know. For most listeners, though, they will know the commercially-successful artists (e.g., Lorde), heard of the Dunedin sound, and recognize the name Flying Nun. Look beyond these three things and instead listen to what is being heard on the college radio stations or on sites like Under the Radar and The 13th Floor. Via these sources one would discover great bands like Marlin’s Dreaming.
The quartet of Oscar Johns (bass), Tim McNaughton (guitar), Hamish Morgan (percussion), and Semisi Maiai (vocals, guitar) are no strangers to this space, having already mesmerized us with their blissful take on hazy dream-pop-rock. They take their craft to even more dizzying heights with “Trophies”.
Touches of shoegaze echo in the deep background at the start, creating an atmosphere of calm intoxication. Maiai’s soft, lush voice adds a further serenity. The two, however, give way as Johns’ bass picks up and takes control. A slow-building, quite urgency starts to build, sweeping the listener from a state of bliss to one of uneasiness. Maiai’s lyrics, too, sketch a scene of a changing relationship, as lies have replaced trust and fear overrides unbridled hope. The only things that keep the protagonist anchored are the trophies that adorn his room. Or are they symbols of his oppression? The storytelling on the song is imaginative and brilliantly poetic.
Marlin’s Dreaming’s new album, Hasten, will be released October 1st. It should the perfect early spring (in the southern hemisphere) / fall (northern hemisphere) record.
Spunsugar – “Rodan” (Malmö, Sweden)
RIYL: Amason, Steve Buscemi’s Dreamy Eyes, Mosquito Coast
After mesmerizing with their tantalizing gothgaze on their debut album, Drive-Through Chapel, Swedish trio Spunsugar have taken on a slightly new direction. Elin Ramstedt, Cordelia Moreau, and Felix Sjöström have not completely abandoned the “‘gaze” part of their origins. They’ve instead opted to replace “Goth” with “dream” and, in the process, embrace their Scandinavian roots. Consequently, the band could become this decade’s version of Amason, Dungen, and Makthaverskan with “Rodan” being the battling ram that breaks out the door for this under-the-radar band.
“Rodan” is simultaneously stunning and urgent. When the song seems to be gliding towards a dreamy moment, Spunsugar smartly shift gears, turning the track to a delicate, urgent number. This is where their “Goth” foundations kick in, as they understand that a melody shift can build drama while further luring in the listener. When a song is named after one of Godzilla’s arch-enemies, it obviously cannot be an easy, breezy, delightful tune. It has to be bold and dramatic. The track also needs a great story, which Ramstedt provides. Within her exists Rodan, who reveals itself on occasion. If you have not already guessed it, Rodan is the mental illness that not only eats away at Ramstedt, but it is in her blood.
“Only high percents and pills
Until all the anger’s stilled
to shine the spit filled grills
Rearrange all my stills
Silenced my head
All black eyes and arteries seething
don’t mean to do
Whatever I will do
There is tar in my simmering vessels
There is tar in my simmering vessels”
The single is out now on Adrian Recordings. Here’s hoping a new album is coming.
Juna Quince – “Hell’s Loot” (Frankfurt, Germany)
RIYL: Portishead, Elder Island, Massive Attack
Some artists take years to perfect trip-hop, which is a difficult genre to master since it requires subtlety and restraint. Many producers, composers, and musicians, though, tend to have too heavy of a hand, causing the song to lose its haunting intimacy. Yet, an 18-year old German already has grasped its intricacies, and she’s done it on her debut single. Yes, we said debut single, so be prepared to be awed by Juna Quince‘s “Hell’s Loot”.
Deep bass and overdubs and trembling synths create a wonderfully dark, mysterious, and alluring soundscape. It is as if we have entered a dream-like fantasy that bands such as Portishead and Massive Attack have often taken us. Here we willingly lose your minds for a moment. Although Quince’s sonic artistry is impressive, her songwriting is even more spectacular. This is where the Frankfurt-based artist separates herself from her peers.
Instead of telling a familiar tale of lust, desire, and chance, she takes us to another time and even dimension. She articulates a peasants’ revolution, as the proletariat rise to take on a cruel and unjust king. After much bloodshed, the king is overthrown and sent to Hell, where he becomes one of its “angels”. He has become one of “Hell’s Loot”, where he now is the one that is broken and abused.
Again, this is Quince’s first official single, which is one of the most sensation debuts of the year. Imagine what the future holds for this young and talented artist. We cannot wait to find out.
Meimuna – “Aux Gens du Vide” (VS, Switzerland)
RIYL: Ghostly Kisses, Maëlle, Agnes Obel
Speaking of great stories, Cyrielle Formaz, through her project Meimuna, left our jaws on the floor with her beautifully stormy single, “Où vont les Tempêtes”. One did not need to speak French to understand that the song depicted the coming of a storm and the aftermath it left on all those in its path. How could the Swiss singer-songwriter possibly top that brilliant song? The answer is simple – she’s builds on it and extends the story on “Aux Gens du Vide”.
Translated as “The People of the Void” or “The Empty People”, Formaz grabs our hand and guides us through the mass of people whose lives have been devastated by the storm. They are downtrodden and defeated, and hope has abandoned them. This feeling of devastation is heard in the song’s mysterious tranquility and Formaz’s vulnerable yet gripping voice. The track ever so gradually builds, turning from a eulogy of what was to the urgency to move forward. The resident of VS then takes us away from the gloom and tries to ignite the spark that still exists inside. After all, the storm has passed and a new day has dawned.
“Je suis, nous sommes (I am, we are)
De ceux qui ont du feu dans les veines (Of those who have fire in their veins)
Partons loin des gens (Let’s go far away from the people)
Qui ne se débarassent jamais d’eux-mêmes (Who never get rid of themselves)”
The single is out on Radicalis Music.
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