The Matinee ’22 v. 098 is bookend by two bands who reveal post-punk’s versatility while in-between lies more musical genius and lyrical gems. In some cases, the brilliance is heard in the cacophony of bizarre and wondrous noise.
Preoccupations – “Death of Melody” (Calgary, Canada)
RIYL: Protomartyr, Eagulls, Deeper
In their decade of existence, Preoccupations have established themselves as not just one of the great post-punk bands of their generation, but they are also one of greatest bands of the 21st Century. The quartet of Matt Flegel (vocals, bass), Scott Munro (guitar, synth), Daniel Christiansen (guitar), and Mike Wallace’s (drums) have made the genre malleable – that is to say they have been able to bend the Gothic darkness at their will and create music that goes beyond stark and brooding. The multi-layered tapestry, “Ricochet”, which was released last month, was a demonstration of their unique skills, which they showcase again on “Death of Melody”.
Front and center on this track is the two-headed guitar attack of Munro and Christiansen, who reveal why they are post-punk’s answer to Jonny Greenwood and Ed O’Brien. Their wailing, searing, and steely instruments play off one another and, thus, create an unnerving atmosphere. Meanwhile, Wallace, who is one of the best drummers on the planet, patiently pounds away in the background. If Munro and Christiansen are the turmoil in Flegel’s mind, Wallace is the racing heart beat that tries to stay calm. Through this awesome post-punk electrical storm is a distant person that is “looking for a concept, searching for a technique” in “places that I don’t even recognize”. Flegel’s songwriting is stellar, as he sings about how one individual has become consumed by the dementia ravaging his mind. He is unable to differentiate fiction from reality nor his real self from those he imagines.
Simply outstanding and this song is another reason why we eagerly wait the Calgary outfit’s fourth album. Pre-orders for Arrangements are available at these links and directly on Bandcamp. It drops September 9th on Flemish Eye.
Jane’s Party – “Days Of My Youth” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’-era Arctic Monkeys, Hamilton Leithauser, Bahamas
For most of their career, Toronto’s Jane Party have created music that can be defined with one word: uplifting. They have an innate ability to write music that puts smiles on faces, lifts spirits, and often induces dancing. Take for instance “Live Again”, which was the perfect pick-me-up to the cold spring doldrums. For their latest track, Devon Richardson, Tom Ionescu, Jeff Giles, and Zach Sutton do something a bit unexpected. No, they haven’t suddenly become pessimistic or turned into a raging, dark, metal band. Instead, they slow down the tempo, turn to the late-’70s and early-’80s, and unveil a song made for swaying and slow dancing – all with a smile on your face.
“Days Of My Youth” is like waking up after having the most incredible dream. Its melodic pace, psych-kissed soft-rock vibes, and graceful melody is calming, almost meditative yet joyful. The little hand claps and the superb trumpet solo are fantastic touches to this retro-inspired tune, which at its heart is about youthful innocence and energy. It’s about making us see things for what they are with no preconceived notions. Isn’t this a great thought to have?
“The things I’ve seen have left their mark on everything
And even so it feels as though I’m just a kid
You read just like a game of dice
Your friends seem nice, I’ve asked them twice but their
names just slip my mind
I can’t believe
the things I’ve seen
Your fantasies, my wildest dreams,
and I’m a wannabe… again”
Burs – “Lily” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Snail Mail, Soccer Mommy, Why Bonnie
In 2020, Burs released an EP called Through Windows. In just three tracks, Lauren Dillen (vocal, guitar), Ray Goudy (guitar), Devon Savas (bass), and Oliver Compton (drums) created a wide range of indie sounds. From bouncy guitar jangle to ethereal slow-build to a monstrous indie-folk number, it was as diverse as a three-song output could conceivably be. It was a great introduction to the band. They followed it up with a pair of singles later that year, but they suddenly became quiet.
The silence has been broken by the roar of their latest single, “Lily”. Heavily-strummed guitar chords open the song, slightly loosening their grip for Dillen’s vocals to take center stage. Those moments paint a picture of doubt in a relationship with an honesty that resonates. However, it doesn’t last long as things kick into full gear as the guitar chords and the drumming gets heavier. Dillen’s voice is lost in a whirlwind of distortion, both on guitars and her voice.
“Lilies in my right hand
I kill them with my left
I give you what I am
You leave me what’s left
Killer on the inside
I’ll be what you want
So call me as I am babe
Your vessel to get off”
“Lily” is a fantastic introduction to Burs. Hopefully we won’t have to wait long for debut album, which is expected later this year.
Why Bonnie – “Nowhere, LA” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: Lomelda, Valley Queen, Middle Kids
We have commented a few times how we’ve enjoyed watching Why Bonnie mature as a band. We also recall the family of front-woman and founder Blair Howerton getting really excited when we covered “Made of Paper” back in January 2018. While we thought the quartet had tremendous potential, we continue to be impressed with how far they have come – a high school band turned into indie favorites and soon-to-be giants.
The basis for our bullish opinion is that Howerton (vocals), Kendall Powell (keys), Josh Malett (drums), Sam Houdek (guitar), and Chance Williams (bass) possess that “it” factor: the ability to write songs that poetically capture specific moments while creating soundscapes that sweep us off our feet. They did this with “Galveston”, “90 in November’, “Hot Car”, and “Sailor Mouth”, which all will be on Why Bonnie’s sophomore LP, 90 in November. The quartet do it all again on “Nowhere, LA”.
First, LA in this case refers to Louisiana and not Los Angeles. The song, however, has the feel of a drive along the California coast – blissful and breezy with the crunchy guitars, patiently-delivered rhythms, and Howerton’s exquisite and immediate voice. This is a song to be played on a slow, mindless drive or while enjoying a quiet night on the veranda with loved ones. In these settings, we can follow Howerton’s story of feeling stuck in neutral while everyone else, including a past friend or former flame, moves on. We can empathize when she sings:
“I like to know
That we’re now both growing up
Cleaned the dirt off my nails and regained my luck
I wonder why
It was so hard to let you go
I know I walk fast
But my heart moves so slow”
A.O. Gerber – “Hunger” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Faye Webster, Madeline Kenney, early career IAN SWEET
Two years ago, A.O. Gerber released a beautiful album in Another Place to Need, which included one of 2020’s great songs, “All I’ve Known”. It was an unforgettable introduction to an artist who has quietly become an indie favorite. You don’t have to take our word for this, but instead questions can be directed to Madeline Kenney, another great singer-songwriter and rising star who produced Gerber’s forthcoming, sophomore album, Meet Met At the Gloaming. Given Gerber’s and Kenney’s talents, the LP should be another stellar output, especially if the record is filled with songs like “Hunger”.
Despite a career spanning just a handful of years, there is one distinct quality in every Gerber song – vulnerable and introspective songwriting that shakes listeners to the core. And “Hunger” is no different. Whereas much of her debut LP was premised on the sounds of Laurel Canyon, Gerber returns to the present and crafts a dream-rocker that reaches breathtaking levels yet still drips with desperation. Her voice, in particular, reaches grand, emotional heights at the track’s apex, and we are drawn into her struggle of finding balance within herself and with her external environment. Finding an equilibrium between happiness physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
“If I had met you in the schoolyard
When I used to own my name
Would you still know me as a child
Full of god and free of shame?
Now I see bruises where there are none
Coverup across my cheek
I fill my basket up with groceries
That I’m too afraid to eat”
With this terrific number, we might find our own equilibrium.
Worthitpurchase – “Deadbeat” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Waxahatchee, Emily Yacina, Katie Bejsiuk
Worthitpurchase‘s debut, Dizzy Age, was a charming record. Even with its lo-fi production, there was a lot of depth to the sound Nicole Rowe and Omar Akrouche created. Occasionally weaving electronics and other unique sounds into their songs, they left listeners dazzled. Since then, they’ve released a handful of other singles and added Eric Van Thyne to their lineup. The same details that made that first record interesting are present on the new tracks, but the production is finer and the sound fuller as heard on “Deadbeat”.
Greeting listeners is an undeniably folky sound. However, the rug is pulled out quite quickly, as a guitar riff cuts through as drum machine, lush synth string samples, and Lowe’s voice take over. There are times where those folky moments seem like they’re coming back, but they only become warped. The lyrics are a stream-of-conciousness, as Rowe describes them, painting a picture of restless youth in suburbia.
“No way I’m gonna make you ride the bus
You’re right around the corner, I’ll come pick you up
Hold wonder just like a cup
There’s not a lot to do here for people like us
I’d do anything to leave the house
I settle down and I sweat it out
You never know what I’m on about
We get bad coffee and I stain my blouse”
If this is what suburbia sounds like, sign us up!
Spooky Cool – “I Lick The Sweat Off Your Back” (Richmond, USA)
RIYL: Broken Social Scene + Yeasayer + Grizzly Bear
When Lucy Dacus makes a recommendation, such as asking a band to open for her during a tour, people listen. So when Zac Hryciak, Paula Lavalle, Sean Williams, Zavi Harman, and Lee Spratley reached out and mentioned their band’s, Spooky Cool, connection to one of the great singer-songwriters of the past decade, we listened. Thank goodness we did because we may have been introduced to the next great art-rock band, who one day very soon should grab the attention of Pitchfork, Stereogum, and all the major tastemakers. In the meantime, a select few can get ahead of the approaching wave, and “I Lick The Sweat Off Your Back” will convince you to become an immediate fan.
While the title comes across as quite vivid, the song offers a completely different experience. Its melancholic almost surreal carnival-like intro gives way to a whirlwind of twisting, buzzing, and searing sound. Guitars, keys, bass, drums, and whatever else the quintet were able to get their hands on fly in every direction. While at times the track seems like a cacophony of noise, it all works, as the instruments coalesce around Hryciak’s magnetic voice. After listening intently to what he has to say – singing about the inseparable and insufferable hold another person has over him – “I Like The Sweat Off Your Back” makes complete sense, musically and the title.
“Nihilistic thoughts were so easy then
Love’s a lie so no worries at all
Then you ravaged and ripped the sound like wild fire
Burned down the temple of loss
I see your face in the dark
What’s up with that?
I see your eyes
What’s up with that?”
Sheer brilliance in our opinion.
Spooky Cool’s debut album, Existential Pie, is expected later this year. It could very well be an under-the-radar gem.
ROE – “Cold Feet” (Londonderry, Northern Ireland)
RIYL: Lucy Rose, Birdy, Daughter
Last month, Roisin Donald, the artist behind ROE, released the first half of her debut album, That’s When the Panic Sets in (Part I), which included the empowering, “I Can Change”. It was a unique and great way to release a work of art. It felt like a teaser of sorts but also a complete package at the same time. The young Irish singer-songwriter is now preparing for the second half, which will be released on September 23rd.
The first single ROE has released from Part II is the absolute stunner, “Cold Feet”. Just Donald’s voice and piano set the scene in the song’s early moments. Each line hits harder and harder as do the piano keys, before drums and harmonies come in. The relatability and honesty in her lyrics are perhaps even more pronounced on “Cold Feet”. A song about imposter syndrome trying to keep going despite all the doubts reaches a boiling point in the end.
“I guess I get cold feet
I don’t trust my own instincts anymore
Been scarred by the outcome
Of letting too much of myself go
And I can’t get my head above the water to tell you how
I’m sinking even further than let on
“Cold Feet” is the first track of the second half of That’s When The Panic Sets In, the complete album will be released September 23rd, but you can grab the first seven tracks now via ROE’s bandcamp.
Dry Cleaning – “Anna Calls From The Arctic” (London, England)
RIYL: Sinead O’Brien, Pottery, Baxter Drury
Adjectives like “ordinary”, “predictable”, and “formulaic” are never used to describe Dry Cleaning. And we mean NEVER. The London-based quartet are immensely unique and one of the most interesting bands today. Even their press releases describe them as “whacked-out” and “otherworldly”, which are words we’ve used many times before. Florence Shaw (vocal), Nicholas Hugh Andrew Buxton (drums), Thomas Paul Dowse (guitar), and Lewis Maynard (bass) are also tremendously inventive and intelligent. One does not simply create bizarre yet catchy off-kilter arrangements with even weirder stories; achieving them requires extraordinary talent. As proof of what they’re capable of doing, they offer “Anna Calls From The Arctic”.
Dry Cleaning take us into smokey lounge bars on their latest single. The melodic, hazy vibe is reminiscent of Baxter Drury’s nonchalant excursions into London’s secretive clubs. This setting, however, is Shaw’s flat, and she’s talking with a friend. Their conversation, to stay the least, is unusual. They speak about “flies going crazy” and “Emporio Armani builder”, “dog sledge people” and scientists, “sensual Steve” and Barry Manilow. The varied topics depict the different worlds in which they reside, as if they are living in parallel universes. No matter what quirky dimension Dry Cleaning occupy, they still are geniuses in our book.
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