Around the world we go for The Matinee ’21 v. 136, featuring highly-introspective songs from some of indie’s very, very best. Find these songs and plenty of others on our Songs of September playlist, which is on Spotify and SoundCloud.
Sam Fender – “Spit of You” (North Shields, England)
RIYL: Sam Evian, Kevin Morby, Sam Cohen
It’s difficult to not be impressed by Sam Fender. The young artist and actor could take the easy way and create catchy, formulaic pop tunes in an effort to expand his brand. He would not have been the first, and he surely would not be the last. There is, however, much more to the person who grew up under difficult circumstances and almost turned to drug dealing to help his single mother pay the bills. His upbringing explains why he has chosen a different path, one that allows him to share his experiences and tell meaningful stories. The cathartic and introspective “Seventeen Going Under” reflected on his mother’s struggles. “Aye” was an anthemic, politically-charged call-to-arms. Meanwhile, “Get You Down” was an unapologetic memory set to a soaring, orchestral-rock approach. Yes, the song are made for live audiences, but they are not cookie-cutter radio tunes. They are sincere, real, and emotionally moving, and Fender showcases his authenticity on “Spit of You”.
A stirring folk-rock approach provides the canvas to Fender’s story about his relationship to his absentee father. While he could run in circles to avoid the deep-seeded pain, he opts to share his true and raw feelings. He treats us like we are his dearest friend, entrusting us to keep his emotional baggage a secret. It’s a rare thing to write something like this when millions of people will hear this song. And yet with the terrific finger-plucking of the electric guitar, the delicate rhythms, and the cool sax playing in the background, the song does feel like it was made for just two people.
“They say I’m the spit of you
And they’re not wrong
Bury my head too
Stomach hurts all the time
Can’t shift it
Been like that since eight
Knotted up with the baggage
Neck like a stone
All sounds just like you
Smashing cups off the floor
And kicking walls through
That’s me and you”
Dlina Volny – “Tomorrow” (Minsk, Belarus)
RIYL: Made in Poland, Cold Beat, Kavinsky
Name something, anything about what makes Belarus famous? Most know it to be part of the former U.S.S.R. and it is one of the last European countries to be ruled by a dictator. Maybe Dlina Volny changes that. Alex Shishlo, Vad Mikutski, and Masha Zinevitch first gave us chills with the spine-tingling “Prospekty” in 2018 and then left us in a trance with the dark “Bipolar” back in April. Not many bands make the blend of cold wave and post-punk sound as trembling and seductive as this trio, and they serve up another tantalizing course with “Tomorrow”.
Close your eyes and imagine being transported to 1982 and the underground clubs of Prague, Paris, Warsaw, and Munich. These places were cold, poorly lit, and mysterious. The band on stage would add to the ambience, putting a spell on the patrons with their steely coolness and immersive darkness. This is the scene and mood that Dlina Volny capture on this awesome number, which frequently shifts in tone and tempo. At one moment, it is bleak and brooding, but the sudden splashes of urgency trickle in. The meandering approach reflects Zinevitch’s tale of two people fading away from existence. Is it a love affair coming to an end or the prelude to Armageddon?
“We never existed before and will never exist again.
Let yourself live the moment.
The touch of your hand
The heat of your flame
One of the things that will never stay the same”
The Belarussian music scene likely will never be the same. It will be transformed on November 5th, which is when the band’s sophomore album, DAZED, will be released via Italians Do It Better. In the meantime, get the song on Bandcamp and support this terrific band.
Shout Out Louds – “As Far Away As Possible” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: The Cure, Cocteau Twins, Midlake
For twenty years, Shout Out Louds have been synonymous with indie Scandi-pop. Before Peter Bjorn and John, there were Adam Olenius, Ted Malmros, Bebban Stenborg, and Carl von Arbin. We still recall listening to “Shut Your Eyes” and “Tonight I Have to Leave”. While the quartet are getting older, it does not mean they are resigned to a life of predictability. On the contrary, their latest single reveals a band embarking on a new chapter in their careers.
With “As Far Away As Possible”, Shout Out Louds enter into the world of Goth-gaze, which is a fusion of Goth-rock, post-punk, and shoegaze. There is, of course, a catch. The song is darker and more foreboding than anything the band has crafted in years – and maybe ever – but sections of the song shimmer with the band’s trademark, illuminating brand of indie-pop. As a result, tinges of optimism linger within the harrowing uncertainty. The optimism, specifically, lies in Sarah’s hands, whom the band wait to free them from the darkness.
“The low light from the sun lands on the street we´re walking on
Up and down, and on and on
Let’s celebrate with a last drink before we sink
Now nowhere is our home
Oh, Sarah I´m waiting for you
To take me away on white horses
Breaking free in fields running away from our losses
Far away from Stockholm
As far away as possible”
No word on a new album, but it’s been four years since Ease My Mind. The band is due.
October Drift – “Airborne Panic Attack” (Taunton, England)
RIYL: Mastersystem, Frightened Rabbit, Manchester Orchestra
After a half-decade of building a fanbase based on their electric live shows and fire-brand take of indie-rock, October Drift started to receive widespread acclaim last year. Their debut full-length, Forever Whatever, was one of 2020’s most outstanding records. It remains an album still spun in these parts because its explosive nature was equally matched by front-man Kiran Roy’s stellar songwriting. Twenty-one months have passed since the album dropped (although the band did release an EP, Naked, that featured stripped back versions of songs on the LP), and Roy, Chris Holmes, Alex Bispham, and Daniel Young have never been ones to relax. Potentially as a sign of more things to come, the quartet deliver a raucous rocker in “Airborne Panic Attack”.
Feverish guitars, heart-pounding percussion, and a propulsive bass line immediately surge at the start, as if October Drift are making a grand entrance. The song then settles down to allow Roy assume the lead, telling a tale of our collective apathy while the world literally heats up and is on the verge of burning down. Political upheaval, racial injustice, the wealth gap, and inaction on climate change, Roy lays waste to our selfishness. As he picks up the pace, his band mates’ intensity also surges, and the song absolutely ignites just as Roy shares:
“It’s death from above
We’re falling from an Airborne Panic Attack
But what about us, man?
What are these words that catch our skin?
We’re doing all we can
We’re spilling out more than we are pulling in
What about us?”
The single is out on Physical Education Recordings. Here’s hoping another album is on the way so this band can solidify their place as Frightened Rabbit’s heir (we know we’ve said that before but it’s worth repeating).
Spunsugar – “Hatchet” (Malmö, Sweden)
RIYL: The Ninth Wave, Desperate Journalist, Agent blä
When Spunsugar shared “Rodan” early in September, they wrote that the song was a departure for them, and it was. The trio entered the world of dreamgaze, momentarily setting aside the gothgaze that occupied much of their superb debut album, Drive-Through Chapel. Well the trip to dreamgaze was just a little detour because Elin Ramstedt, Cordelia Moreau, and Felix Sjöström unveil a ripper of a new single with “Hatchet”.
This jarring and mesmerizing number is made for cavernous venues and to be played during the hours few souls choose to wander. The orchestration is superb – arguably the band’s finest – as a post-punk bass line intertwines with industrial beats and intoxicating, ‘gazey guitar. Ramstedt’s voice is the song’s anchor, where every heavy element spins around its sublime radiance. She is, however, not what she seems. With Moreau’s lyrics as her guide, she assumes the identity of a Jason Voorhees-like character, who preys on women. “I will come through / I’ll use a hatchet or use a cleaver”, she coolly remarks. The antagonist’s night, however, is just beginning.
“Girls are girls and girls will always be haunted
And haunt they do themselves, once they are all dead
Under my sole there’s gum
The polish on my thumb
Still profoundly red”
LANNDS – “In the Garden” (Jacksonville, USA)
RIYL: London Grammar, Hundred Waters, Sade
When we first wrote about Rania Woodard and Brian Squillace’s project LANNDS over a year ago when they shared the tantalizing “O.O.W.”, they were surprisingly unsigned. How times have changed for the duo, who after four years together have joined Run for Cover Records‘ family! Congratulations to the duo, whose combination of trip-hop and electro-pop is intoxicating. Their songs are meant to drown in, taking us away momentarily from the madness. So sit back, take a deep breath, and take a step “In the Garden”.
Like everything LANNDS have concocted, “In the Garden” is an immensely personal experience. London Grammar-esque soothing sonic embraces reverberate from the chiming guitars and smooth grooves while a Sade-like seductive intimacy emerges from Woodard’s sensual voice. This is no mere garden, but one that is beyond the Terrestrial Paradise. It is a place that exists in a different dimension and reality, where one can truly live freely. All we need to do, however, is take a leap of faith to enter this wondrous place.
“Jump through every loophole
This is your garden
You just have to let go
And let it come back again”
The band’s first album with Run For Cover Records has yet to be announced. We’re guessing, though, an early 2022 release is in the works (or we’re hoping anyway).
Courtney Barnett – “Write a List of Things to Look Forward To” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Courtney Barnett, Kurt Vile, Ultimate Painting
Is there a better songwriter on the planet than Courtney Barnett? If she’s not at the very peak, she surely is in the top five. Few can rival her observant and thoughtful style, which allows us to empathize with her stories. Then again, her songs are about the “we” rather than the “me”, and they brilliantly capture the spirit and mood of the times. With “Write a List of Things to Look Forward To”, Barnett perfectly encapsulates today’s uneasiness.
While the Melbourne-based artist is also one of the great living guitarists, she opts for a more restrained approach. Toe-tapping rhythms and light, jangly guitar notes deliver a delightful and charming melody. Through the sunny disposition, however, is Barnett’s reserved vocal, as she contemplates the meaning of friendship in today’s increasingly divisive world and what it means to be a citizen of this planet.
“Sit beside me, watch the world burn
We’ll never learn we don’t deserve nice things
And we’ll scream, self-righteously,
We did our best but what does that even mean”
At the same time, she realizes that maybe, just maybe, we can find common ground. As shown in the video, her friends’ letters and gifts symbolize that no matter our differences we can do more than just co-exist. These messages are what make Barnett one of a kind.
Barnett’s new album, Things Take Time, Take Time, is out November 12th. Milk! Records (AU/NZ), Mom+Pop Music (NA), and Marathon Artists (UK/EUR) will release it. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available here. Alternatively, head directly to Bandcamp to get it.
Information on Barnett’s upcoming tour dates are available on her website.
Pluto Jonze – “New Morning High” (Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: #1 Dads, Big Scary, Elton John
Who doesn’t like a happy ending? In these unusual days filled with so much negativity and conflict, sometimes we just need to sit back, enjoy life a little, and smile. And the perfect tonic for such occasions comes in the form of “New Morning High”, the new single from Lachlan Nicolson’s project Pluto Jonze.
This tune is sun-kissed psychedelic-pop perfection. The cool ’70s vibes capture the carefree days that we once knew when the biggest debates were wondering what SPF level of suntan lotion we should use or what to make for dinner. But for nearly two years, we’ve been at war with each other, debating words, arguing over simple public health measures, and staying as far away from people we did not know. While we may never return to normal, Nicolson still reminds us that we can still find ways to enjoy life. That we can still enjoy each other’s company and renew our love for the simple things like great music. With a delightful piano-driven melody, catchy finger snaps, a touch of synth, and the whistle of a flute, we get lost within the song’s grace. All the while, Nicolson shares his story of looking back to what was and now what it means to awake in a new morning. What it means to be still alive.
This a message to remember because life is too short to bicker.
Pluto Jonze’s new album, Awe, will be out November 5th. Pre-order it on Bandcamp. It will be the sunshine to these darkening autumn days.
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