To kick off the month of May, we’re offering a doubleheader of new music with The Matinee ’22 v. 057 dedicated to artists and bands originally from or currently based in the UK. Seven songs are featured below, ranging from blistering rockers, more tepid fare, and mesmerizing anthems.
Holy Coves – “Desert Storm” (Holy Island, Anglesey, Wales)
RIYL: The Black Angels, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Wooden Shjips
Psychedelic rock fans know the feeling of staring into the depths of the abyss and never getting out – nor wanting to get out. The Black Angels, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and other bands with “Black” (e.g., Black Mountain) or a similar, bleak connotation (e.g., Bass Drum of Death) are the masters of this mind-warping experience. Several years, however, have passed since we have felt this feeling, but a band across the Pond allow us to relive it all. And they don’t have “Black” in their name.
Holy Coves are a super-group within the Welsh music indie scene, but instead of creating roaring anthems they seek to shake the ground on which we walk. They seek to make us tremble as we reflect on our long travels, which is what they achieve on “Desert Storm”. A rumbling rhythm section drives the track, creating the foreboding yet gripping mood, which is akin to the startling soundscapes their cousins in Austin and San Francisco have crafted for two decades. Gradually, the song increasingly intensifies, and something unexpected happens – it becomes enchanting and seductive. The melody and arrangement barely shift, but these effects emerge from Scott Marsden’s lyrics. He tells a tale of love, but the question is with whom? Is this a person, a phantasm, a figment of our imagination, or an unseen religious figure to whom we are encouraged to pledge our eternal faith?
“I come to feel her love again
And take away all the pain
It seems like everyday I fight her now
It’s tearing us apart
Right now I’m falling hard
Let’s go back to the start
I’m falling off again
She’s got me hook line babe”
Holy Coves are: Scott Marsden (vocals, guitar), John Lawrence (guitar), Owain Ginsberg (guitar, synths), Jason Hughes (bass), and Spike T Smith (drums). The single is out on Yr Wyddfa Records.
TV Priest – “Limehouse Cut” (London, England)
RIYL: Iceage, Fontaines D.C., The National
Great songs don’t need to be explosive or wall-shaking to leave a mark. They don’t require hiding behind catchy melodies, hook-filled arrangements, or blasts of electronics. Nope, all that is required is a songwriter that can write a story that leaves you paralyzed. The music is, after all, just the canvas on which the artist or band communicate their message. TV Priest, however, master both crafts.
The London-based outfit frequently pair soaring post-punk rockers with Charlie Drinkwater’s impeccable, often politically- or socially-charged storytelling. This is why they are, in our humble opinions, one of the great bands to arrive in the last three years. They showcased their immense talents earlier this year with “One Easy Thing” and “Bury Me in My Shoes”, the first two songs from their forthcoming new album, My Other People. The quartet unveil a surprise on single number three, which is still mind-blowingly awesome.
Drinkwater (vocals), Alex Sprogis (guitar), Nic Smith (bass, keys), and Ed Kelland (drums) strip everything way back on “Limehouse Cut”. This largely acoustic number is gritty and frighteningly hypnotic, as Smith’s bass grovels while Sprogis’ guitar mourns. Strings join later to give the tune an added stark dimension. Drinkwater’s voice, too, is low-key, as his baritone has a touch of The National’s Matt Berninger. His songwriting, though, is a mix of Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and PJ Harvey. While his words paint a picture of Medieval Times, he is very much in the present. Or he tries to be, as his words describe how life in the big city has removed him from reality.
“And we could see men on great horses
And peasants at their carts
Like the turning of some white page
And you said,
Down to the seashore,
Follow me and we could wash in the waves
Down the Limehouse Cut to the river
Won’t you follow, follow me?'”
Crake – “Rabbit” (Leeds / London, England)
RIYL: Big Thief, Luca Wilding, Shearwater
We’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating: Crake will be very high on our list of Favorite Discoveries of this year. Heck, they’re probably one of our favorite bands at the moment after making us go silent with “Winter’s Song” and “Bobbie”. If they lived in Brooklyn, Austin, or LA, they likely would be celebrated and adored in the same manner as Big Thief. Their day will come, where a song like “Rabbit” will become an indie classic.
Rowan Sandle (acoustic guitar, vocals), Russell Searle (electric guitar, piano), Rob Slater (drums, backing vocals), and Sarah Statham (bass, backing vocals) ever so slightly brighten the skies on their latest single. The dangling, grizzled guitar and the slow pacing of the drums give the song a serene feeling, making the melody perfect for daydreaming under a perfect May weekend. One almost wants to smile until hearing Sandle’s story. One of the finest songwriters to emerge over the past couple of years, her tale is tragic. The rabbit is not an animal but a person, who suffers the fate of prey being chased by a pack of hounds. Sandle, however, tells it more poetically.
“I called for help as his head hit the ground
I lay my shirt down
Couldn’t say my name when the ambulance came
Thinking how to get the blood out”
Mewn – “Two Days” (Manchester, England)
RIYL: Arcade Fire, The Uglysuit, The Shins
At the turn of the Century, art-rock was reborn. Arcade Fire, Grizzly Bear, The Uglysuit, and The Antlers are just some of the bands who helped revive a genre and, in the process, leave permanent marks on the music landscape. Two decades later, five friends are preparing to make names for themselves in creating music that goes beyond the typical. They are Mewn, who recently landed a plum gig, opening for The National when the indie giants play in Manchester in August. By then, maybe, just maybe this little band will become more well known. They already have been spun on BBC 6 Music and received support from some of the UK’s biggest tastemakers, so their future is looking up. All that needs to happen is for Lady Luck to spin her magic, where every radio station and curator is playing “Two Days”.
The single chimes of The Suburbs-era Arcade Fire and The Uglysuit, who were an Oklahoma band on the verge of great things. Like those groups, Mewn turn contrast into something enrapturing. There is the piano-driven chamber-pop that offers a sense of hope and brightness. It’s spry and delightful like a Sunday walk in the park. On the other side is mystery, highlighted by the galloping rhythms and the lingering guitar. Daniel Bluer’s voice lies somewhere in the middle, as it sparkles at one moment but then grows a little weary as desperation sets in. He reminisces about the person who has left this planet too early, and how her presence can still be felt.
“Sometimes I think that I should try and get away
But I would have to crawl out on my hands and knees
And this one’s for all the notions
I lost track of the wind was turning
But there is a cyclone passing by
Just because you’re not with us right away
Turn it in your palm, we’ll talk again”
Daniel Bluer (guitar, vocals), Rachel Bell (guitar, backing vocals), Matthew Protz (keys), Daniel Cowman (drums), and Tom Allen (bass) are Mewn. Their sophomore EP is expected later this year via Simonie Records.
Katy J Pearson – “Game of Cards” (Bristol, England)
RIYL: Molly Burch, Angel Olsen, Fleetwood Mac
With her music, Katy J Pearson has created a world where new meets old. Her debut record, Return, featured Pearson’s powerful voice on top of what was a pretty great throwback rock record. It’s something that you hear a decent amount of these days, but rarely perfected in a way that Pearson executes flawlessly. Last month, Pearson announced her next record, Sound Of The Morning, and released its first single, “Talk Over Town”.
Pearson has followed that up with another fantastic single, “Game of Cards”. Listeners are immediately hit with a big sing-along right before a great bass and drum groove kicks in. Pearson’s voice has a vintage quality to it that adds even more to the vibe of her songs. That singalong intro joins back in for the choruses. In the verses, some great guitar work lays underneath, giving off severe George Harrison vibes. Where things really take off is the song’s second half where Pearson takes everything into a dreamy territory. Her voice echoes as more and more layers build underneath, finally loosening its grip for the song to come to a brilliant close with some “oohs” and saxophone.
Sunflower Thieves – “Grown Out of You” (Leeds, England)
RIYL: Azure Ray, Orenda Fink, Babehoven
Ten days ago, Sunflower Thieves released their new EP, Someone To Be There For. It’s a stunning mini-album reminiscent of the dreamy intimacy of Azure Ray and Orenda Fink, highlighted by the blissful “I Don’t Know Why” and the equally mesmerizing “Lichtenberg Figures”. It is not just the gorgeous arrangements the duo create, but Amy Illingworth’s and Lily Sturt-Bolshaw’s vocals and harmonies are treasures. They are truly things to behold, as further revealed on the record’s ultimate track, “Grown Out of You”.
Their gorgeous harmonies are front-and-center on this superb single, which starts off delicately and pensively. The calm approach allows the pair to draw the listener into a story from their childhood. They reflect on a friend or possibly an old flame, who occupied their time and minds for ages. As the song progresses and the urgency rises, Illingworth and Sturt-Bolshaw share how they have finally learned to move on. Tinges of regret and remorse are heard in their voices, yet there is also the sound of relief.
“If I’d have stayed would I have settled too?
Maybe you chose the right way
You’ve got your kids, a house, a job
And I’ve got none of the above
All I need is here with me”
Someone To Be There For is streaming everywhere, but we recommend getting it on Bandcamp.
Quasi Qui – “Epoch” (Paris, France via London, England)
RIYL: The xx, Neon Indian, MS MR
When we heard “Gentle Squeeze” back in February, we proclaimed that a super-sibling group was forming before our eyes. Yehan and Zadi Jehan are still in the very early days of their Quasi Qui project, but their potential is off the charts. While their path is still to be determined, initial indications are that they won’t be pigeonholed within any specific genre. If that is the case, they’ll have listeners on the edges of their seats, eagerly waiting to hear the direction the brother-sister duo will head. For their newest (and sophomore) single, “Epoch”, they delve into the sultry dark-pop / darkwave waters.
Reminiscent of the entrancing tones of The xx, particularly when the lingering guitar kicks in over top the pulsing bass and sparkling beats, the song is seductive. It is also incredibly dazzling, as it possesses a hallucinating effect made for swaying inside Paris’ secretive dance clubs. Given the song’s intimate tone, the expectation is that Quasi Qui would write a typical relationship tale. Au contraire, as the Jehans once again go against the grain. They instead discuss what is to be human in 2022, where selfishness is more important than friendship, materialism is the ideology many follow, and stoicism is rewarded. As Yehan smartly sings:
“I was afraid of the future
The thread unraveled again
It’s good to have a heart made of stone
Who said it can’t be hollow and warm”
The single is out on Microqlima Records, and the French label is known for its stars (see L’impératrice).
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