Accidents, weather formations, and unexpected events. This all sounds like the 6:00 news, but these are the titles of the songs featured on The Matinee ’21 v. 158. Each and every single is, shall we say, newsworthy.
Dentist – “Spilled Coffee” (Asbury Park, NJ, USA)
RIYL: Veruca Salt, Bif Naked, Swearin’
The Jersey shore is known for its boardwalks adorned with arcades, shops, restaurants, and midways (or amusement park rides for those outside North America). Places like Asbury Park are also known to host unexpected gigs by some of the industry’s biggest names. Bruce Springsteen, for instance, not only named an album after the famous seafront town, but he’s been known to unexpectedly show up at The Stone Pony to play a few songs. While The Boss can draw a crowd when he performs, Dentist are likely to incite one when they start performing.
This isn’t to say Emily Bornemann, Justin Bornemann, and Matt Hockenjos’ core objective is to start riots or inflame controversy. On the contrary, their music is intended to provoke. “Upset Words”, for instance, was a song of resilience while “Corked” spoke to the enduring nature of friendship. In many ways, the trio are like Springsteen in that they can ignore the noise while finding the true meaning in the words and actions of others. Like on “Spilled Coffee”, they address an issue that still continues to be ignored.
Where their previous songs were sweat-inducing buzzsaws, their latest is more methodical and starker. The throbbing rhythm section of bassist Emily B and drummer Hockenjos give the tune a mid-’90s NYC alt-rock vibe and sets the stage for the story of a woman scorned. She has been ghosted with no explanation. For more than three minutes, Emily describes the anger building inside the protagonist, who asks herself, “Why do I try?” to keep a relationship together. With each hammering rhythm, you can feel the temperature rising, and the protagonist wanting to reach through the speakers and deliver a blow. It never happens because she inflicts her revenge in a more powerful way – through song and for everyone to hear. Who gets the last word now?
Silverbacks – “Rolodex City” (Dublin, Ireland)
RIYL: Parquet Courts, Ought, Gang of Four
Mark your calendar for January 21st, 2022, because a great band from Dublin will release their new album, Archive Material. And no, not U2, whose best days have long passed (we say this as massive fans). We’re referring to Silverbacks, who turn art-punk into an off-kilter delight as they did with “Where My Medals”. Like U2 in their youth, this Irish quintet possess a knack for telling insightful stories, often focusing on society’s contradictions, decay, and divisions. As such, every Silverbacks’ song is a must-listen, and “Rolodex City” is no different.
“Slide to the left / Put your foot down”, Emma Hanlon sings coolly. She’s like a country line-dancing instructor informing everyone what move to do next. This track, however, isn’t about the solo dance movement. Instead, this little bar is where the song’s anti-hero, who is an old-school real estate developer, ends up finding himself. After failing to convince the locals to gentrify their neighborhood, he escapes to an establishment where he finds unexpected entertainment and advice.
How the story ends will be told early in 2022. Once again, Archive Material will be officially published on January 21st, 2022. Full Time Hobby is the lucky distributing company. Pre-orders available here and on Bandcamp.
Silverbacks are: brothers Daniel (guitar, vocals) and Kilian O’Kelly (guitar, vocals), Emma Hanlon (bass, vocals), Peadar Kearney (guitar), and Gary Wickham (drums).
The Ballroom Thieves – “Borderline” (Boston, USA)
RIYL: The Head and The Heart, The Lumineers, Darlingside
This time of year – between seasons of warm and cold, just before the holiday bustle – is often marked by mixed emotions. Life is in transition: a new year is close yet there are still hurdles to overcome. Some have energy aplenty still while others are crawling to the finish line. You might not expect a song to appeal to both sets, but such a tune does exist. And who better to sing about life than Boston-based indie outfit The Ballroom Thieves? The lush harmonies that Callie Peters and Martin Earley deliver on their newest single are a balm for the soul.
“Borderline” captures a range of emotions with sparkling effervescence. The band have been been developing their signature dynamic sound for nearly a decade, and this track is a showcase of a group at their best. As their voices flutter atop crisp guitar work, it’s easy to become entranced by the magic they create both musically and lyrically. Lines like “I heard that love is only an illusion” would sound cliché coming from a mainstream pop radio artist, but what resonates here is honest, mature vulnerability:
“Some say that life is only what you manifest
And I’m not the best
And I don’t know much about it
Still I can see anxiety will be the death of me”
“Borderline” includes John Nolan (synth, guitar) and Ariel Bernstein (drums). It is the band’s third single of 2021. This summer they shared “Woman”, which featured Lady Lamb and followed in September with “I’m Around”, featuring Ariel Posen. All three are available on Bandcamp via Nettwerk Music Group.
HOLM – “In the Rain” (Zurich, Switzerland)
RIYL: Mogwai, Sigur Rós, M83
First we must mention that this HOLM should not be confused with Holm, the solo project of Yung frontman Mikkel Holm-Silkjær. This version is a Swiss trio that has mastered the art of post-rock and trip-hop. They are atmospheric in their sound, preferring tranquility and spiritual euphoria over propulsion and catharsis. So take a five-minute break and completely lose yourself inside their latest enchantment, “In the Rain”.
There is only one word to describe this song: dazzling. At first, it is beautifully serene with precisely executed elements – the lingering guitar, the plush touches of percussion, or the hovering bass and synths. The track gradually builds as those instruments intensify toward a breathtaking apex. But to truly experiencing the song’s power, listen to it in a quiet place free of distractions. Here you can truly experience the trio’s brilliance. More music is coming, as HOLM’s new album, In the Gardens, is due next year on Quiet Love Records.
Jnatra – “Cloud” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Kishi Bashi, Toro y Moi, Phoria
In this modern era that celebrates excess, there is still a place for subtlety and restraint. These two words should not be mistaken for boring simplicity, especially in the hands of a composer and multi-instrumentalist. Instead, something magical is often created, such as Jnatra‘s “Cloud”.
Although the Los Angeles-based artist is not a household name, it will be as each new song reaches more listeners. Eventually, his name will become synonymous with levitation and fantasy. Deft synths, a delicate piano, and the enchantment of a harp and strings combine to create a heavenly effect. When Jnatra’s ghostly yet soothing vocals pair with the striking arrangement, the song becomes breathtaking. It is magical and becomes the antidote we need to overcome the anxieties and fears that threaten to consume us.
“Cloud” is available to stream and purchase on Bandcamp.
Talmont – “IDATMT” (London, England)
RIYL: London Grammar, Dahlia Sleeps, Ghostly Kisses
Four years ago, Talmont arrived with the stunning “Moving Further Than Before”, which was a wonderful mix of jazz, hip-hop rhythms, and dark-pop. After releasing a few more songs, the trio disappeared in the summer of 2018. Now Martha Gibbons, Joe Elliott, and Jules Temple have returned. After their lengthy break, they are treating this chapter as a new beginning, citing “IDATMT” as their debut.
This new life begins with a beautifully entrancing piece of trip-hop and dark-pop. The song is akin to the hypnotic stylings of London Grammar sent to the far, bleak corners of the mind. Lush beats and synths percolate in the background. Gibbons’ voice, meanwhile, mesmerizes at first, as she softly sings about an idea, maybe a person or a moment that lingers in her mind. “It doesn’t always take much time for you to know”, she sings. And it won’t take much time for Talmont to re-establish themselves as an English band to watch.
The single is out on Good Soldier Records.
Royal Blush – “Roll the Dice” (Jersey City, USA)
RIYL: Smokey Brights, Sunny Day in Glasgow, Blushing
Long summer road trips may be in the rear-view mirror, but this doesn’t mean we should stop seeking adventures. On the contrary, when an adventure beckons, we should take a chance and see what awaits. We should, as Jersey City outfit Royal Blush advise, “Roll the Dice”.
Just like its title, the song is a multifaceted and unexpected affair. It starts off cool and shimmering before a bit of urgency builds with the fluttering, delayed guitar. A feeling that we’re gracefully gliding through the jetstream starts to develop with Allison Heckart’s lush voice emerging above the sonic fray. Then the song picks up and gets more turbulent but in exhilarating fashion. Each element intensifies, and suddenly we’re hurtling through the skies “looking for the sweet day dreams” that will lift us further from our current state. We’re hurtling to a place where we can find joy, happiness, and hope. With a song like “Roll the Dice”, we’re bound to find it soon.
You can find this song on Bandcamp.
Royal Blush are: Allison Heckart (vocals), Andrew Merclean (guitar), Matt Quinones (bass), Josh Barsch (drums), and Chris Gennone (production).
Colatura – “We Run On Empty” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Mazzy Star, Beach House, Cigarettes After Sex
Every dream-pop fan has listened to Mazzy Star, and most would agree that they created the dreamiest music. While the genre has surged in popularity over the past decade-plus, few bands have been able to replicate their brilliance. But then comes a group from the Big Apple who invite us back to the early ’90s and dazzle like Hope Sandoval and David Roback once did.
Sit back, relax, and let the immaculate tones of “We Run On Empty“ sweep over you. Let the feathery percussion, the soothing chimes of the guitar, and the sparkling synths of Colatura‘s newest single make you believe that better days are ahead. Let Jennica Best’s endearing voice embrace your mind as she shares a story that is devoid of love:
“Cause you don’t think
I am gonna be there when you break
All of your promises
I’ll be by your side and take the blame
I can learn to swallow it
But the only thing you’ll trust is your own madness
Never gonna take it away
You have an emptiness I can understand
Never gonna take it away
I’ve tried in vain to put us back together
But there’s only so much more I can take”
The song is taken from Colatura’s forthcoming debut album, which is expected early in the 2022. At that time, maybe, just maybe they’ll be called Mazzy Star’s heir.
Colatura are: Jennica Best (vocals, bass, synth), Meredith Lampe (vocals, guitar, synth), Digo Best (guitar), and Alex Kirkpatrick (drums).
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