Another day and another fantastic one to share new music. The Matinee ’23 v. 003 is filled with star power, featuring some of indie’s finest artists and bands of the past decade plus an English trio that should soon join them.
Phoria – “InTheDark” (Brighton, England)
Few bands can turn sound into an ethereal experience like Phoria. Their 2016 LP,Volition, is a modern-day masterpiece of sonic existentialism. Even when they turn to neo-classical, like they did with Caught a Black Rabbit, the London five-piece still find ways to leave listeners breathless. Their music is gorgeous by every definition, and “InTheDark” is no different.
While the song was released just before Christmas, it is too stunning to forget. The second single from their forthcoming new album, River Oblivion, which follows the post-rock beauty, “New Beginning”, is a stripped-back, elegant number that can only be described as vulnerable intimacy. Front-man Trewin Howard’s haunting falsetto floats over supple piano notes. Strings later emerge, adding to the track’s gripping and tranquil quality. Despite the tone, “InTheDark” is more than a love song. It is an unwavering commitment to a person, where even in darkness we will see the end of days with her or him.
“Find me a voice to loseAnd I will howl in the crowd with you But leave my mind bare I don’t wanna go there Swimming in this dark with you”
Phoria are: Trewin Howard (vocals/composition/production/electronics), Tim Douglas (guitar/bass/synth), James Cheeseman (guitar/synth), Ed Sanderson (piano/synth), and Seryn Burden (drums).
Death Valley Girls – “Sunday” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Le Butcherettes + The Ronettes + Shannon & The Clams
For a decade, Bonnie Bloomgarden (vocals, guitar) and Larry Schemel (guitar) have rattled countless numbers of walls, blown out hundreds of ear drums, and won over a legion of immensely loyal fans in their decade as Death Valley Girls. Now joined by Sammy Westervelt (bass) and Rikki Styxx (drums), the band is preparing for the launch of its fifth album, Islands in the Sky. While the LP’s title bears a striking resemblance to the Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers’ 1983 hit single (which was written by the Bee Gees), it won’t sound anything like that famous ballad. Instead, it likely will sound more like the whirling, groovy, spaced-out garage rock number, “What Are the Odds”, which was released in late November. The record, however, will have some surprises, of which “Sunday” is one of them.
Death Valley Girls head to church on their newest single, adding a bit of gospel and ’50s soul to their psychedelic garage-rock. And this combination is terrific. Bloomgarden’s voice booms over the melancholic, electric organ, singing a hymn to those like her – someone seeking vindication and renewal after dealing with a traumatic past.
“Some day I gotta make a change
I gotta meet my fate
Don’t know why I wait
I need a sign, I can’t make up my mind
I need a sign, I need a sign”
Like most new chapters, there is a climactic moment, which in this tune takes the form of a rollicking apex. A blaring saxophone and tickling keys lead the sonic explosion, and by the end we’re all shouting:
“I gotta move on
Keep on moving
I gotta move on
I need a sign
To move on
Keep moving on
I gotta move on”
Now this is a church we could join. On February 24th, Islands in the Sky will fully open its doors and reveal its splendour. Suicide Squeeze Records will host the event. The LP can be pre-ordered or pre-saved on Bandcamp and these links.
The Men – “Anyway I Find You” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Futurebirds, Weird Nightmare
Like others in this portion of The Matinee, The Men have developed a reputation for fast and furious music, often leaning towards frenetic punk-rock. “Hard Livin’” and “God Bless the USA” from their upcoming new album, New York City, was more of that sweat-inducing mania fans have come to love. Those songs, however, had a bit of a twist – less punk-oriented and more classic rock. Mark Perro (vocals, guitar, keys), Nick Chiericozzi (vocals, guitar, saxophone), Rich Samis (drums), and Kevin Faulkner (bass) continue down this retro path with “Anyway I Find You”.
The Men’s newest single could be considered a fantastic tribute to the late Tom Petty, as it possesses the same southern twang heard in Petty & The Heartbreakers’ early and mid-career work. Steely, rumbling guitars and patiently-delivered rhythms resurrect the rock ‘n roll of the late-’70s and mid-’80s. Perro’s voice, too, has an air of the legendary rocker’s gruff yet embracing quality. Like Petty, he sings about how some bonds should never be nor can they ever be broken, much like The Men’s love for their hometown.
Purling Hiss – “Yer All In My Dreams” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Dinosaur Jr., Cloud Nothings, Mazes
Ask a rock fan from in and around Philly who is the most underrated rock bands of the past decade, and they will likely mention Purling Hiss. Heck, ask any indiehead that question and they might come up with the same answer. The Mike Polizze-led project make good old-fashion, blue-collar rock ‘n roll, which explains why they have been on Drag City‘s roster for nearly a decade. While much of the music world gets poppier and dependent on electronic samples, Polizze, Ben Leaphart, and Pat Hickey keep to AM-radio basics on “Yer All In My Dreams”.
The trio’s first single single in six years is what one would expect from one of the great college-radio bands of the 2010s: it’s a rip-roaring affair filled with awesome guitar riffs and a killer rhythm section. For 4.5 minutes, Purling Hiss have us on our feet, whipping our heads in all directions, and jubilantly bouncing and dancing (and maybe even doing a few windmills who like to play the air guitar). As we find our own rhythm to this rocking number, Polizze shares how he endlessly seeks to find his own melody and voice. This might explain why six years will have passed by the time Purling Hiss’ new album, Drag On Girard, is released on March 24th via Drag City. When the day arrives, we’ll experience the opposite effect – losing our voices screaming along with the band.
Shana Cleveland – “Faces in the Firelight” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Cross Record, Jessica Pratt, Aldous Harding
Shana Cleveland describes her upcoming record, Manzanita, as “a supernatural love album set in the California wilderness.” Cleveland’s music always seems to perfectly capture the vibes of the American west, either solo or as a member of La Luz. While the music can resemble vast expanses, the songs of Manzanita are personal ones. The record was written mostly while Cleveland was pregnant or just after giving birth, and it’s also her first record since a successful battle with breast cancer.
Those experiences can create a new outlook on what’s important in life. “Faces in the Firelight” takes a small moment and turns it into something monumental. There’s some gorgeous reverb guitar and just a bit of synth to start things off. Shortly thereafter, strings enter and add more to the song’s beauty. Lyrically, it captures a passive moment of love. Specifically it provides a reminder that even in the quiet moments, either waiting for a partner or the arrival of a child, there’s still an act of love to be found.
“I am just a little late
To where I’m going everyday
But I always arrive with you
My babe, til our time is through
I’ll wait for you”
King Tuff – “Tell Me” (Brattleboro, VT USA)
RIYL: Wings, Jackson Browne, Sam Cohen
People who have followed Kyle Thomas’ alter-ego King Tuff over the past decade know that the singer-songwriter has the penchant for creating stories from little moments, as he recently did with “Smalltown Stardust” and “Portrait of God”. He’s also known for wearing his heart on his sleeves, where he does not shy away from sharing how he is feeling at a specific moment or about someone. And Thomas does not beat around the bush with his newest number.
“I can’t keep my love from you,” Thomas sings in the chorus to “Tell Me”, making it clear that this is unquestionably a love song. With Sasami Ashworth on backing vocals (she also is the producer of Thomas’ new LP), Thomas expresses his feelings in a way that Paul McCartney did via Wings and from which Jackson Brown made a long career. Throughout this toe-tapping folk-rocker, the Vermont native shares little vignettes about how his heart has grown fonder for another, including waiting for his love to walk through the door and how the two long danced around their true feelings. But are they now lovers?
Pale Blue Eyes – “More” (Totnes, England)
RIYL: Yung, POND, Methyl Ethel
2022 was a prosperous one for English indie outfit Pale Blue Eyes. They released their debut album, Souvenir, in September, and toured around the UK and western Europe. So what awaits Matt Board (vocal, guitar), Aubrey Simpson (bass), and Lucy Board (drums) in 2023? We’re not really sure, but we hope their popularity reaches beyond the shores of Great Britain and people around the world discover their genre-less brilliance. And may this tidal wave begin with “More”.
As these mad musical scientists have repeatedly shown, their newest single melds together numerous sounds – bopping krautrock, a touch of dreamy shoegaze, bubbling art-rock, and dashes of neo-psychedelia – into one immensely addictive concoction. Into one awesome song. It feels like a dance party happening on The Endurance as it is about to descend into the black hole. There is no fear in these parts, just jubilation and excitement. Board’s lyrics, too, express the same feelings, as he asks another person stuck in isolation if they fear the past or the future. The answer is no, as they instead look towards the future and what more possibilities await. And Pale Blue Eyes’ future is awfully exciting.
The single is out on Full Time Hobby.
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