The Matinee ’21 v. 132 ushers in the first day of autumn with a roar. Featuring new music from longtime favorites and future stars, today’s mini playlist is a concentrated dose of brilliance.
Chelsea Wolfe – “Woodstock / Green Altar” (California, USA)
RIYL: Chelsea Wolfe, Emma Ruth Rundle, Marissa Nadler
When Chelsea Wolfe released Birth of Violence in 2019, she unveiled a side that had not been seen since her early years. Replacing the doom-metal approach that reverberated across her epic albums, Hiss Spun and Abyss, was a surprisingly intimate, restrained sound. The foreboding, Gothic tones remained, but it was delivered through a dark-folk intimacy instead of via shrills and bone-jarring sonic explosions. And the experience was beautiful and remarkable. Birth of Violence demonstrated that Wolfe still could devour listeners, but this time with grace, remorse, and a delicate yet stunning vocal performance. The LP was an evolution, if not a rebirth, of Wolfe as an artist.
Earlier this year, Wolfe collaborated with her friend and label mate Emma Ruth Rundle on “Anhedonia”. The single further verified that Wolfe would not be deviating from this path any time soon. She instead was going to perfect it by making intimacy even more crippling than it has been ever imagined. She does exactly this with her two new singles, a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” and a new track in “Green Altar”.
On the former, a piano and a very subtle synth is all that Wolfe needs to turn Mitchell’s classic into a Gothic fairy tale. It is dark yet stunning, like watching snow fall quietly in the blackness of night. On the latter, an acoustic guitar, keys, and hovering strings are the means by which Wolfe casts a spell. Her voice is faint and brittle yet striking as she delivers one of the most brilliant love songs in years. This is where the power of the song lies – in the beautiful vulnerability of her voice and poetic words.
“The moment came, and I’d been waiting long
And then I heard their voices like a song
I’d been waiting, I’ve been waiting long
Such love could make an atheist turn to god“
Who said the love song could not be reinvented? Wolfe, as she has done for years, proves otherwise. The singles are out on Sargent House, and it’s also available on Bandcamp. For those itching to see Wolfe in concert again can watch the excellent documentary of her 2019 Birth of Violence tour.
Ada Lea – “can’t stop me from dying” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Womb, U.S. Girls, Danz CM
This Friday will see several great singer-songwriters release new albums, and one of them is Ada Lea‘s one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden. We say this because the first singles the Montreal-based singer-songwriter has shared to date have been jaw-dropping. From the beautifully seismic “hurt”, the dazzling “damn”, and “partner”, which left us speechless, Lea has time and again crushed our souls while leaving us yearning for more. As if answering our call, she sates our appetite with “can’t stop me from dying”.
Whereas the previous songs were intimate, folk-rockers, Lea enters the realm of the late-night underworld. A sparse, post-punk-esque bass line and the flicker of an electric drum drive this haunting stunner. Through the brooding atmosphere, one guitar grimes and another tinges the air with crystalline strokes. The setting is eerie, but Lea’s soft, tranquil voice is inviting. She takes us inside her reckless life, where she stays out to 5Am and finds a stranger in her bed. Lea does this because, “I have died / A thousand times / I will die / Once again”. Because she is immortal.
When one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden drops on Friday, September 24th, immortality may indeed be Lea’s fate. Saddle Creek Records and Next Door Records will distribute the album. Pre-saves and pre-orders available here or directly on Bandcamp.
Mazey Haze – “Always Dancing” (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
RIYL: Au Revoir Simone, Hatchie, Beach House
It was only three months ago when Nadine Appeldoorn introduced her project, Mazey Haze, when she released her debut single, “Sad Lonely Groove”. The song was the personification of immaculate psych-pop. The young Dutch artist shows no signs of slowing down. On the contrary, she’s setting herself to be one of this year’s breakout stars, perhaps by Halloween. We say this because Appeldoorn’s debut EP arrives October 22nd, and last week she shared its title track.
“Always Dancing” is another psych-pop treat. Like Beach House, Appeldoorn creates music that is simultaneously lush and dazzling yet reinvigorating and euphoric. The chiming guitar, the glimmering rhythms, and Appeldoorn’s rich vocals help listeners feel alive again. Her words also indicate a desire to be unchained and liberated:
“Last night was fun but don’t call me
Since you left I’m floating in the sea
I’m not proud ‘cause I can’t
Charge up without someone
My front door’s always dancing
(While I’m not at home)”
Look out world, the next great Dutch artist has arrived. Her star will bloom on October 22nd, which is when Always Dancing will be released on LUSTRE. Pre-orders of the EP are available now on Bandcamp.
Old China – “Desperado” (Brisbane, Australia)
RIYL: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Tame Impala, Connan Mockasin
Most music fans know that Australia is the center of all things psychedelic. Tame Impala, POND, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are just some of the great outfits that call Down Under home. Soon we may be adding Nik Fentiman’s Old China to the list. Now, it’s a premature to put Fentiman on the same pedestal since he has literally just launched his music project. Right now, it might be more of a hobby, but if his debut single, “Desperado”, foreshadows what is to come then he, too, might be able to turn this into a career.
This 5 1/2-minute tune is reminiscent of another great band on the Tasman Sea, and we’re of course referring to Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Like the Ruban Nielson-led outfit, Fentiman has concocted an intoxicating piece of psychedelic-pop. One just wants to wrap her/himself within the vortex of shimmering guitars, the swirling synths, and the disco-esque rhythms and dance our problems away. Fentiman’s lyrics also indicate an escape from the mundane and dead ends, where we can be our own Desperado. Where we can be the hero of our own story.
Fentimen’s story is still being written, and the first chapter concludes on October 1st. This is when his debut EP, Sac Lunch, will be released.
Proteins Of Magic – “Hopeful Symphony” (Auckland, New Zealand & Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Ghostly Kisses, Novo Amor, Saint Claire
Artists are not immune to generalizations and assumptions, particularly when s/he commences a solo project after being part of a band for years. For instance, after Nirvana, did anyone expect Dave Grohl to do anything but alt-rock? But like a book, an artist should never be judged with whom she plays. For New Zealand-born Kelly Sherrod, she has performed as the touring bassist for singer-songwriter and actor Ryan Bingham. The assumption, as such, is that she, too, would craft Americana and folk-rock tunes. On the contrary, as Proteins of Magic, she creates music meant for the faint of heart. Meant to quietly eat away at our souls, as she showcases on “Hopeful Symphony”.
The song was originally released in July, so we’re late to the game. Sherrod’s debut album, Proteins of Magic, however, was released in mid-August, on which “Hopeful Symphony” is its centerpiece. Fleeting strings, delicately fluttering flutes, a stirring piano melody, and light rhythmic trembles create a beautifully haunting experience. It’s like staring at a phantasm, but instead of fear we are mesmerized. Adding to this effect is Sherrod’s ghostly voice. Her soft delivery penetrates through our skin, as she shares how love and trust can lead to betrayal.
“Take the money won’t you?
Get the money won’t you?
Sing to me
Sing it sweet
A hopeful symphony
And it brings you to your knees”
Proteins of Magic is out now and available on Bandcamp.
Black Marble – “Preoccupation” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Nation of Language, very early Depeche Mode, Crystal Stilts
Some songs when you first hear them immediately put a smile on your face. We’ve all experienced this, although the occasion is rare because the song needs the perfect balance of dreaminess, tranquility, and revitalization. In doing so, we get lost in the moment. We get lost in every note, every beat, and every word, which is where Chris Stewart – a.k.a. Black Marble – takes us on “Preoccupation”.
After sending us into a state of delirium on “Ceiling”, Stewart makes us wish we could stop time and endlessly be stuck within the gorgeous coldwave / synth-pop he has created on his latest single. Every element is immaculately executed, and every void is filled with a sparkling synth, a dabbling beat, or Stewart’s distant vocal. There is, as such, nowhere to fall through, but we instead lightly float in the pristine soundscape. Where we are going is left in the hands of Stewart, who guides us to days of simpler, more minimalist times. His words reflect a world where we are one with our surroundings.
“Well I’ve wandered the west side
And I’ve captured the open road
But this feeling of preoccupation
Makes like home
Makes like home”
The Violent Hearts – “Everything and Nothing” (Bristol, England)
RIYL: The Buzzcocks, IDLES, Stiff Little Fingers
Full-throttle energy is what fuels “Everything and Nothing” from rising British stars The Violent Hearts. The Bristol-based outfit deliver fierce post-punk hooks that deliver more of a jolt than four vodka Red Bulls. Want to be sure you never snooze through your alarm? Set this banger as your tone and you’ll rise psyched to conquer the world.
This title track from their newly released debut LP gives listeners a glimpse into their strengths. What makes the trio stand out is their cohesion as a group and their ability to shine individually. Where some bands focus solely on the vocalist throughout a song, all members share the spotlight. You can feel the urgency of the drums and the intensity of the bass. Meanwhile the vocals convey angst and attitude in equal measure. These guys aren’t trying to emulate their post-punk forebears: instead they are putting a modern spin on what Stiff Little Fingers and The Buzzcocks started decades ago. The future of punk rock sounds solid with The Violent Hearts in the mix.
This album is out now and features more of this tune’s in-your-face, raucous brilliance. You can get it on Bandcamp.
The Violent Hearts are: James Mattock (vocals, guitar), Frankie Picasso (vocals, bass), and Brian James (percussion).
RIYL: Balthazar, Phoenix, Danger Mouse
Who said dance parties can only happen on the weekend? Whether it’s Monday, Saturday, or Wednesday, we all could use a song that gets the blood flowing and encourages us to do our best Kevin Bacon impersonation (or for younger folks anyone from Dance Academy). To get us through another hump day, Hembree return with the perfect sonic tonic.
Funk, dance-pop, disco, and hip-hop collide on “Operators”, and the track is a kick-up-your-heels banger. There is nary a moment of calm, but instead the quintet, with an assist from rapper Bodye, dial up the energy for the entire 4 1/2 minutes. Whether it is bopping around the house, wagging your head back and forth, or cutting up the living room carpet, this song was meant for moving. And for those who love a good sax and/or cowbell, they’re in this tune, too. While we confidently dance or strut, the band provide word words of encouragement, making us realize that we are masters of our lives and not pawns in the Operators’ grand scheme. So on this Hump Day, do whatever you want (within reason of course).
Hembree are Isaac Flynn, Garrett Childers, Eric Davis, Alex Ward, and Austin Ward.
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