SFrom the stunning and gorgeous to the herky-jerky and off-kilter to spontaneous euphoria, The Matinee ’22 v. 096 offers the perfect end-of-the-week selection of new music – nine new tracks to be precise. Many of them you’ll be playing over and over again, just like we have.
Skullcrusher – “Whatever Fits Together” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Rachel Bobbitt, Faye Webster, Sun June
Hellen Ballentine’s debut EP as Skullcrusher was not just one of the best things we heard in 2020, it was also the introduction to a young singer-songwriter who completely blew our minds. We’re not exaggerating when we say Ballentine is one of the most exciting artists to arrive in the past decade. Her music and songwriting are intimate and vulnerable yet also incredibly beautiful. One day soon, likely in the very near future, she will join another LA-based singer-songwriter as an indie giant. That is, 2022 could see Skullcrusher shoot to stardom like Phoebe Bridgers did a few years ago because Ballentine’s debut album is coming this year. Its lead single demonstrates why she’s on the verge of greatness.
Take a very deep breath, close your eyes, and allow “Whatever Fits Together” swallow you whole. The adjectives stunning and gorgeous do not do this song justice. What words exactly fit this tune that brilliantly merges a softly-strummed acoustic guitar with light, ambient noise and rhythms while Ballentine’s angelic voice floats through the dreamy soundscape? Crushing, devouring, and devastating might work, but even then they come short in describing the vulnerable power heard throughout the track’s 225-second duration. All we can say is free your mind, avoid all distractions, and just listen. Listen to the music and Ballentine’s tale of loss and despair.
“I left home in the summer
I cried in the stairway
When I hugged my brother
I tried to hide my face
Slipped away like a sweaty hand
Let go and forgotten
Went along with whatever
Thought I knew what I wanted
Never knew what I wanted
What do I want?”
Ballentine’s debut album, Quiet the Room, will be released October 14th on Secretly Canadian. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available here or go directly to Bandcamp. It’s going to be one of the year’s finest.
Bleach Lab – “Take It Slow” (London via Buckinghamshire, England)
RIYL: The Sundays, Mazzy Starr, Alvvays
At long last, one of our – and thousands of others’ – favorite bands of the past two years has put their signatures on a contract. Bleach Lab have inked a deal with Nettwerk Music Group, who have an outstanding history of supporting independent bands. Before we get into the London-based quartet’s first single with the label, we have to say one thing first: Congratulations! Since their emergence in 2020, Jenna Kyle (vocals), Josh Longman (bass), Frank Wates (guitar), and Shawn Courtney (drums) had personified the terms DIY and independent, promoting their music, releasing EPs, and organizing their gigs and tours largely on their own (and with the help of a few friends). Now, they won’t have to do the distribution and publicity parts, giving them more time to record music and dazzle old and new fans with songs like “Take It Slow”.
Bleach Lab’s newest single possesses all the elements that made us fall head over heels for them after hearing “Never Be”. It is ’90s dream-pop perfected, where each stroke of the gauzy guitar leaves one a little lightheaded while the bouncy rhythms cause us to sway side-to-side. However, Kyle’s gorgeous vocal, which sounds like a young Harriet Wheeler, is the scene stealer and sweeps us away. Her voice is one we could hear all day, even when she’s sharing a story about two people moving in opposite directions and at different speeds. She encourages her companion – and maybe even the rest of us – to hit the brakes, take a breath, and appreciate what’s before us.
“There is no option to rewind
Forget about the things you left behind
You don’t have to make it all make sense
Feelings of regret and bitterness
There’s no need for holding on to that
We’re moving too fast take it slow, you’ve been
Trying to fit the space of a shape that you don’t know
You’re always looking ahead, instead of
Breathing it in and letting go”
We cannot wait to find out when the foursome’s debut album will be released. We’re guessing some time in 2023, at which time it could be as big as The Cranberries’ Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?
Futurebirds & Carl Broemel – “Buffet Days” (Athens, GA and Indianapolis, USA)
RIYL: My Morning Jacket, Dr. Dog, Okkervil River
Futurebirds and Carl Broemel of My Morning Jacket have performed a few times together, mostly the latter joining the former on stage. So when word got out that this perfect collaboration was heading into the studio to record an EP, we were not surprised because they are a match made in musical heaven. Obviously, the proof is in the pudding, so one cannot be shouting accolades until they released a song. Then again, given their extraordinary talents (e.g., Broemel is one of the greatest guitarists around while Carter King, Daniel Womack, and Thomas Johnson are outstanding songwriters), the output should be great. Sure enough, the collective deliver an awesome first track.
Check that: “Buffet Days” is instant southern-rock classic. Its easy-going nature is the sound of a summertime evening, tinged with ’70s psychedelia to add some dreaminess and having just enough guitar and pedal steel to get the blood flowing. Broemel’s guitar, in particular, is noticeable, as is his soft voice which backs King’s emotive vocal. King shares a tale of how cruel life can be, and this is all of our own doing. His lyrics are brilliantly ironic.
“The moon’s a little fat man, lazy and trite
Creeping twelve feet over Tallahassee tonight
With the cheap fake diamonds glowing with the crystal shine
And he’s drunk on the cosmic comedic news
That Armageddon finally came and it’s a total snooze
God’s dealing and joking, taking their time
I can’t shake the feeling we’re the punch line”
Futurebirds are: Carter King (vocals, guitarist), Daniel Womack (vocals, guitar), Thomas Johnson (vocals, guitar), Brannen Miles (bass), Kiffy Myers (pedal steel), Spencer Thomas (keyboard), and Tom Myers (drums). Their and Broemel’s new EP, Bloomin’ Too, will be released September 9th on No Coincidence Records. Pre-orders are available here.
Mamalarky – “Mythical Bonds” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Rubblebucket, Deerhoof, Xenia Rubinos
Mamalarky‘s wild ride of a debut brought so much to the table. It was as captivating as it was unique, blending lots of different styles that ranged from sleepy folk moments to some crunchy, loud moments, with a ton of jammy goodness in between. That unpredictability radiates through the music of Livvy Bennett, Dylan Hill, Michael Hunter, and Noor Khan. To continue that, Mamalarky released a song they describe as “MGMT meets Weezer meets Sheryl Crow” earlier this year in “You Know I Know“.
The upbeat nature of that track continues on their latest single, “Mythical Bonds”. The track is about the bonds made from a close friendship, specifically between bandmates. Bennett said, “We decided to shake ourselves loose and make this serotonin rock song about how much we love each other – to push past all those hunched-over studio hours and create this little summer memento.” That is felt throughout the song, from its bright guitar work, its “la-la” singalongs, to the quick stories of little moments with friends. Despite its short length, they still find some time to jam out a bit and go wild in a way only Mamalarky can.
“Lala, lala. Lala-lala. Lala, lala. La Laaa
Ooo you make me wanna grow old
Long live mythical bonds nudie swim in a shimmering pond
Ooo you make we wanna come home
I don’t care what I do so long as I do it with you”
Shutups – “Endless Heaven” (Oakland, USA)
RIYL: Stone Temple Pilots, ‘Pablo Honey’-era Radiohead, FIDLAR
The city of Oakland is often overlooked, mostly because on the other side of the Bay lies their more hip and popular sister city, San Francisco. Oaktown, however, has given the world some of the most popular and influential bands – The Pointer Sisters, Digital Underground, and En Vogue. It also has an outstanding indie scene, from which outfits like Shannon and the Clams, Day Wave, Jay Som, Still Woozy, Hazel English, and many others cultivated their talents. Another name to add is Shutups.
The quartet have the potential to become giants within the industry. At least that’s what Kill Rock Stars think, who will release Hadley Davis (vocals, guitar), Mia Wood (drums), Eric Stafford (guitar, synth), and Bud Armienti’s (bass, synth) new album in a few months. However, don’t let one of the most influential indie labels sway your opinion. Instead, let Shutups’ newest single do the chores.
“Endless Heaven” is outstanding. It is, in our humble opinions, one of the best songs of the year because it is complex and unpredictable. At first, it sounds like the sadcore grunge of the early and mid-’90s, which echos Stone Temple Pilots and Radiohead during their Pablo Honey days. For 90 seconds, Shutups make us twirl within this sonic density until the track explodes with FIDLAR-like intensity. Davis’ words, too, are dense, as he associates being submerged in water as repentance to his errors. “Let the oxygen forgive my sin”, he brilliantly shares. Again, just simply awesome.
Black Lilys – “Party” (Lyon, France)
RIYL: Daughter, Lola Marsh, Aurora
Siblings Camille and Robin Faure released a stellar debut as Black Lilys in 2018 with Boxes. Each song had such depth to it, in a way that it was easy to feel submerged in both Camille’s voice as well as the range of different vibes each song carried. Since then, the duo have been working on a new record, New Era, and released two absolute stunners in “Störm” and “Woman Wolf”. Make that three, as “Party” continues that trend.
Starting with some ambient noise, the song gradually builds. Meanwhile, Camille’s voice is layered with harmonies whilesome synth barely makes its presence known. A guitar joins in, as does more ambient noise that sounds like it could be from the street outside. Then before it all ends, a drum machine kicks in in a big way, and complex beats lay under a hypnotic guitar line before it all fades and the outside noise takes over once again. This approach provides the mirror to Camille’s introspective tale of looking fine despite the depression and anxiety that are eating away at one’s mind.
“Come out darkness, don’t swallow me
Over the years you’ve learnt to hide
I don’t wanna ruin this party
I do feel sad and feel happy
What is wrong with me?”
What an incredible song!
New Era is due out October 14th via Laruche Records.
The Murder Capital – “Only Good Things” (Dublin, Ireland)
RIYL: Geese, Fontaines D.C., Black Country, New Road
Is it possible for a post-punk song to make one smile? The genre is generally associated with darker, Gothic fare with foreboding and stark stories to match. It takes a special band to turn this musical style on its head, and The Murder Capital have been adding their own touches to post-punk since their formation merely four years ago. Their ingenuity has made them one of the best bands to emerge over the last half-decade, not just from Ireland but anywhere. They once again put on their creative hats and share a surprising single in “Only Good Things”.
The song still brims with a post-punk mentality in the gritty rhythm section, but the taut guitar riffs offer a sense of daylight, hope, and optimism. “Only Good Things” is unexpectedly pleasant and lighthearted, and even James McGovern’s usually intense vocal is held back and filled with – wait for it – love. Yep, this is a love song but of a different kind, as McGovern’s lyrics are vulnerable, optimistic, and even surreal. Take the following lies for instance:
“Jewels in your eyes
Like Vega at night, it’s a retrospect
All the magpies
They’d rob you blind if I’d written it
Have you written back?
You’re shy now, beside you
I’m in my head
Your eyes strip me
Blindly I share with you my whole world”
Now who do you think this song is about? Or what is it about?
The Murder Capital are: James McGovern (vocals), Damien Tuit (guitar), Cathal Roper (guitar), Gabriel Pascal Blake (bass), and Diarmuid Brennan (drums). They’re working on a new album, which they promise represents an evolution.
Disq – “Cujo Kiddies” (Madison, WI USA)
RIYL: English Teacher, Pip Blom, Talking Heads
Loosen up those neck and shoulder muscles, stretch out your back, and maybe even find some open space because Wisconsin outfit Disq are going to make you move with their latest single. At the very least, you’ll be bopping your heads and doing shoulder shimmies if not strutting around like David Byrne does when he’s on stage. Seriously, “Cujo Kiddies” will incite involuntary movements and make you feel like the past 2.5 years never existed.
The song’s herky-jerky approach is delightful, as an angular guitar, puttering keys, bubbling synths, and pulsing rhythms intersect at different tempos and intensities. This concoction likely falls flat in the heads of others, but then Disq are not ordinary musicians. They are, instead, a young band who perceive music beyond the formulas. They see off-kilter arrangements and non-linear approaches as music’s present as much as the future. That’s why they can make art-rock sound groovy and alt-electronic sound dynamic, as they do on this superb number. Oh, they’re clever storytellers, too, reciting a tale about how we are increasingly become immune to the chaos around us and our inner humanity.
“In a dream I slept the other week
Crushed my face onto the velvet seat
Of a 7 person minivan
Heard the liquid you were holding down
I finally hooked up with the metal machine
I’m finding comfort in the metal machine”
Disq are: Raina Bock (bass, vocals), Isaac deBroux-Slone (guitar, vocals), Shannon Connor (guitar, keys, vocals), Logan Severson (guitar, vocals), and Brendan Manley (drums). Their sophomore album, Desperately Imagining Someplace Quiet, arrives October 7th on Saddle Creek. Pre-order it at these links and Bandcamp.
Wilder Maker – “Static” (feat. V.V. Lightbody) (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Rayland Baxter, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Katie Von Schleicher
Wilder Maker may be one of the Brooklyn music scene’s unsung heroes. Their creativity and commitment to art, as heard on their debut record Zion, makes them incredibly hard to classify. Next week, they’re releasing a new record, Male Models, which is described as walking “the delicate tightrope of positive masculinity”. It’s also easy to consider Wilder Maker the project of front-man Gabriel Birnbaum On this record, however, Birnbaum steps aside for a handful of tracks for a pretty interesting lineup of guests, including frequent collaborator Katie Von Schleicher and Adam Duritz of Counting Crows.
Another guest on the record is Chicago’s V.V. Lightbody on “Static”. Birnbaum describes the single as being “set during a heatwave in NYC”, which is incredible timely as we’re in the middle of one right now. The song’s warm guitar and Lightbody’s vocals add to those long summer day vibes. But “Static” is not about days at the beach and palm trees. Birnbaum explains, “It touches on how violence in our culture tends to simmer under the surface in subtle ways that we overlook until they explode into something really horrific”. Birnbaum picked a perfect setting for that type of message, as it’s an environment where tempers are short and everything just seems so amplified. It’s important that we stay cool.
Wilder Maker are: Gabriel Birnbaum (lyrics, instrumentation, vocals), Nick Jost (bass, vocals), and Sean Mullins (drums, vocals). Their new album, Male Models, is out next Friday, July 29th from Western Vinyl with pre-orders at Bandcamp.
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