Various - The Matinée Grand Prix

matcd050  /  January 2010
Various - The Matinée Grand Prix
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Various - The Matinée Grand Prix

matcd050  /  January 2010

Brilliant new collection of songs from Matinée’s truly international coterie of popstars.

The disc kicks off with a firm favorite from Denmark’s Northern Portrait entitled ‘Stirling Moss” which establishes a car racing theme rather nicely. Scottish popkids Strawberry Whiplash answer the challenge with new smash ‘Boy In The Bubble Car,’ while Australian legends The Lucksmiths deliver their swansong recording with the predictably stunning ‘Get-to-bed Birds.’

Sweden’s The Electric Pop Group is represented with perhaps their strongest song to date ‘Believers,’ while Clay Hips—American expats living in Germany and Ireland—don’t disappoint channeling their inner Pet Shop Boys with ‘Disappointed.’

The album’s centerpoint sees the return of England’s mighty Tender Trap after four years with the new classic ‘Danger Overboard,’ and Australia has its second contender with the very welcome return of Simpático and new favorite ‘Australian Idle.’

Finland’s Cats on Fire begin the year with a fantastic new song called ‘The Hague,’ while Scotland is back in fine form with Bubblegum Lemonade and ‘Cuts Like A Dream.’

Finally, American hipsters Math and Physics Club break a two-year silence with a great new song called ‘I Keep To Myself,’ and Australia’s The Guild League soundtrack the final lap of the compilation with the lovely ‘Bookmark.’

Demonstrating the continuing strength of the label’s roster, this timeless collection is a vital release for the Matinée faithful and a fantastic introduction to some of the best indie bands of today.

  1. Northern Portrait - Stirling Moss
  2. Strawberry Whiplash - Boy In The Bubble Car
  3. The Lucksmiths - Get-to-Bed Birds
  4. The Electric Pop Group - Believers
  5. Clay Hips - Disappointed
  6. Tender Trap - Danger Overboard
  7. Simpático - Australian Idle
  8. Cats on Fire - The Hague
  9. Bubblegum Lemonade - Cuts Like A Dream
  10. Math And Physics Club - I Keep To Myself
  11. The Guild League - Bookmark


…and mention of Matinée comps seems as good a time as any to big up their latest label compilation (and 50th album release), "The Matinée Grand Prix". Matinée's v/a selections are always a handy snapshot of the roster at any one time, and have the added attraction that they don't dredge the back catalogue but tend to focus on new & exclusives from said roster. Unfortunately it's just not physically possible for "Grand Prix" to be as invigorating as last time around's "Hit Parade", but they give it a good go, and if you'll just permit us to focus on a clutch of ilwttisott highlights, you'll understand that you might just need to grab it anyway. The Lucksmiths' swansong, "Get-to-bed Birds", is subtle but superb - lyrically, a synthesis of so many past Lucksmiths themes, touching tenderly as it does on new year regrets and wanders past old haunts - and yet a little like "Drawing Lines", all this quiet, downbeat contemplation is set off by a heartliftingly trilling guitar line that refuses to be bowed. There's almost a feel of something unfinished about "Birds" as it fades out, all too quickly, but that's something you could say about the band's whole legacy. We will forever regret - and bitterly - that the closest we ever came to seeing them live was an abortive trip to their gig at the Metro Club, a trip finished abruptly by a bouncer who didn't want to play ball. Fellow Melburnian Jason Sweeney also knows longtime how to rock an indiepopkid's world - it was Sweet William's cover of the Sweetest Ache's "Briaris" that kicked off "A Smile Took Over" - but we'd been denied the company of his artistry since The School Of Two's "Party Line" on 555's "Your Cassette Pet": and so the welcome return of his erstwhile Matinée persona, Simpático, comes with "Australian Idle": an icy, existentialist take on pop culture powered by a laidback, softly hypnotic groove that brings distant flickers of another Sweeney project, Other People's Children, to mind. Being lowkey doesn't prevent it being perhaps the true standout, and it would be gorgeous providence if its inclusion here signalled some imminent new record from project Simpático. Tender Trap, meanwhile, shake the rafters with "Danger Overboard": the verse continues the tilting, reverb-happy crunching 60s guitar sound that lit up recent Fortuna Pop! single "Fireworks", but then there's something almost Marine Research-ish in the way that a crater-sized chorus then emerges. We're pretty sure we recollect the song from their recent Buffalo Bars outing, in which case we can report it's even better when they are literally, rather than metaphorically, rafter-shaking. There's plenty else here too, don't get us wrong: Strawberry Whiplash's jolly "Boy In The Bubble Car" finally emerges, albeit rather longer than the first, tentative myspace version; there's more from both Electric Pop Group and Northern Portrait (the latter in slowed-down, proto-"Back To The Old House" mode); Clay Hips' "Disappointed", which draws out the slightly queasy early-90s revival to which "Higher Than The Stars" gave a re-up; plus titbits from the Guild League, Bubblegum Lemonade, Math & Physics no less and Cats On Fire. But, as ever, it's late, and we've only a sentence or three left in us.   --In Love With These Times In Spite Of These Times
I love that Matinée continue to put these albums out, as a sort of taster of what pop nuggets the casual observer can find on the label. It's how I first became aware of Matinée, and for that I'll always be grateful to Jimmy for having the time and love to bother. Of all the Matinée compilations over the years, this is perhaps the most diverse. Yes, you know what you're going to get from the likes of Northern Portrait, The Lucksmiths (whose posthumous presence here reminds that a supreme band has fallen), and Tender Trap - and that's ace pop sketches. But there's also the mysterious Clay Hips' marvelous, understated electropop masterpiece in 'Disappointed', which brings back the best moments of Baxendale or Fosca. And that's backed up by Simpático's fragile 'Australian Idle', and most excitingly, Math and Physics Club's 'I Keep to Myself', which builds on the soft synths on their last ep to exciting effect. Three tracks out of eleven doesn't mean that Matinée is about to turn away from the meat and potatoes indiepop, of course, but it's a pleasant surprise to find an indiepop label that's not afraid to step off the beaten track now and again. A smashing little snapshot of an always loveable label.   --A Layer of Chips
The Northern Portrait debut wasn’t the only album included in that parcel I received from Matinée Recordings on New Year’s Eve, and though I make sure to get my daily dose of Criminal Art Lovers it’s high time to listen to the rest of the contents. First “pit stop” is the compilation The Matinée Grand Prix, which contains 11 brand new recordings by some of the label’s finest. Normally I shy away from these kind of releases, as the quality of the entries often vary at little too much for my liking (bands seem to be "saving" their best efforts for their own releases). But be it the new track by Northern Portrait (which of course is downright wonderful) or the last song (ever?) recorded by The Lucksmiths, there really doesn’t seem to be one weak moment on this one. The Strawberry Whiplash contribution is exactly as noisy as expected, The Electric Pop Group shows that the “pop” is there for a reason, Clay Hips does indeed deliver their best Pet Shop Boys impression and on it goes! So basically what I’m saying is that “Grand Prix” is an absolutely amazing collection of indie pop tunes and darn close to being the perfect gateway to the genre as well as the Matinée roster.   --Hits In The Car
You can sense they’re a very happy family at Matinée, Finland’s Cats On Fire having caused a stir last year with their fine album Our Temperance Movement and Denmark’s Northern Portrait perched neatly to perform a similar feat same this year with Criminal Art Lovers. The label can now boast an impressive list of international artists and so who can blame them for assembling this splendid compilation of work from their classroom of rising starlettes?! Label compilations can often be a tedious affair, with a scrambling together of a contractually obliging collection of album tracks and B-sides, well not here I tell you! For, as far as I can tell, the contents of this particular compilation has all been recorded specifically for the outing. On top of that, there’s solid commitment to the cause throughout, as a splendid set of tunes it is indeed. It kicks off with a rich understated piece from Northern Portrait, but with the same lush melodies of their previous work. Then Strawberry Whiplash who also sound Lush but as in the band of yore, with a more up temp number than usual and a definite Stone Roses drive to it. Elsewhere The Electric Pop Group have a beautifully honest sound to them and their new album promises to be a joyful parcel. Clay Hips express a dreamy forlornness and then Tender Trap come on like The Shangri-Las, before Simpático change the mood with a fine Faith-era Cure pastiche that has an gentle eloquence about it. Cats On Fire are the class act though, with another thoughtful song leading into the jangly joy of the aptly named Bubblegum Lemonade. Sincere apologies to the few I missed, but suffice to say there isn’t a bad track on the set and it serves as a highly credible introduction to a merry band of minstrels who deserve some serious attention. Hats off to Jimmy Tassos and the crew across the pond for the care and attention that must have gone into putting this together and you can grab an earful of some it on their website.
While Slumberland are having a rest Matinée have pushed out the first release of the year with The Matinée Grand Prix, a compilation that feels like a follow-up to The Matinée Hit Parade. While not quite matching the latter's promised "a-side quality throughout", it's certainly an essential companion to the two recent albums from Northern Portrait and The Electric Pop Group. Those both came out at about the same time, at the tail end of December, and the compilation features exclusive non-album tracks from both groups. Northern Portrait have contributed a beautiful slow number called "Stirling Moss" which is not far off a "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" in a racecar. Otherwise The Matinée Grand Prix is notable for three things: 1) the return of Simpático! 2) a new (yes, new) song from Math & Physics Club 3) the last Lucksmiths song to be released. The Luckies' "Get-to-Bed Birds" is really something - I think it's better than anything on their last album actually.   --Heaven Is Above Your Head
'The Matinée Grand Prix' is the latest compilation from Matinée Records. This collection exhibits the variety of indie pop bands that the label is renowned for. A truly international array of artists are to be found on the record; from Europe to the USA, from Australia to the UK, the label represents some of the best independent pop groups there are to be found. For instance the fantastically catchy new track, 'Danger Overboard' by Tender Trap, led by indie-pop princess Amelia Fletcher is amongst them as well as 'Get-to-Bed Birds', the last song ever to be recorded by Australian legends the Lucksmiths before they disbanded last year. Matinée seems to cover every sub-genre of indie pop. There is something for everyone on this record; whether you are looking for C86-centric twee-pop or pretty mellow pieces inspired by 60’s psychedelia, it can be found on this compilation. Scotland’s Strawberry Whiplash offers up the almost sickly sweet 'Boy in the Bubble Car' whereas Finland’s Cats On Fire’s contribution could be compared to the likes of Love and early Simon and Garfunkel. Showing that amongst the traditionally jangly guitars and bouncy bass lines that are expected of this particular genre there can also be found a variety of other sounds that come under its umbrella and this is what Matinée set out to represent as a label. 'The Matinée Grand Prix' is an excellent introduction to the labels offerings as well as a being a great collectable piece for the already converted fan.   --Pennyblack Magazine
Label compilations are either a good way of getting to know great bands that have something similar to another band on the label that you like, or a few good songs and a lot of boring stuff you’re absolutely not interested in. The label compilations from Matinée Recordings are usually of the first category, and since I like most of the music this quality-label releases, I often love their label compilations. Matinée is a very style focused label. All their bands have “the Matinée sound” – highly melodic, warm, friendly indiepop. It’s usually quite jangly, but never too noisy, and always with a strong pop-focus. This consistency in sound also makes their compilations good as albums, not only as a lot of individual tracks thrown together in a compilation. Another good thing about the Matinée compilations is that they usually feature unreleased tracks by the label’s band. The 2010 label compilation is called “The Matinée Grand Prix”, and features 11 songs from bands like Northern Portrait, The Lucksmiths, Bubblegum Lemonade, Strawberry Whiplash, The Electric Pop Group, Clay Hips, Tender Trap, Simpatico, Cats on Fire, Math and Physics Club and The Guild League. There are several real goodies on this new compilation: The Lucksmiths‘ last ever recorded song, “Get-to-bed Birds” is amazingly beautiful, and could stand proudly next to any of their older songs. The Electric Pop Group can make popsongs that speak directly to my heart, and their contribution to this album is one of those. It’s almost worth buying the album for on its own, but I guess most of these songs are. Tender Trap are back again, and they sound fresher than ever with this new girl-group sounding song, “Danger Overboard”. Lovely chorus, the right amount of fuzz on the guitars and lots of aaahhhs, and ooooh’s in the great backing vocals. (Before I started looking at the titles, I hummed along and sang “Danger of a boy”, silly me…). The acoustic sound of Cats on Fire’s “The Hague” gives me a little “Kings of Convenience-feeling” and the song itself is one of the better ones I have heard from these guys. Bubblegum Lemonade’s jangly 60s inspired popsong “Cuts Like A Dream” may be one of my absolute favourites here – it sounds like summer, warmth and sunshine. The song I was most curious of was the new song from Math and Physics Club, “I Keep to Myself”, which sounds quite different than on their album and eps with a more electronic approach, but this is so so so good! It took a while to get used to the synth-sound, but it’s an incredibly catchy song and a very good lyric. I am still in love with Math and Physics Club, and I guess it’s a love that will last forever. The Guild League’s “Bookmarks” is the perfect ending of an almost perfect label-compilation from Matinée.   --Eardrums
A new compilation from Matinée Recordings starts with their Danish recruits Northern Portrait doing Stirling Moss. They come over all The Man From Delmonte, lovelorn and wistful, a beautiful sigh. Following that the fuzzy Boy In The Bubble Car by Strawberry Whiplash races along like The Shop Assistants, all girly yet tough and cute at the same time. The Lucksmiths were wonderful and all, but Get To Bed Birds is a bit pedestrian by their standards. The Electric Pop Group seem to be intent on turning into The Stone Roses, mainly vocal wise. That said, obviously Believers is a lovely little jangle. Danger Overboard by Amelia Fletcher’s latest band Tender Trap, is one with the staccato drums, pondering melody and Amelia sounding her usual lovely self. The chorus is endearingly amateurish, harking back to Talulah Gosh days. Simpático do an Editors lite on Australian Idle, which surprisingly works pretty well. It’s tender, ponderous and very darkly gothic early eighties sounding. Cats On Fire produce one of the loveliest tracks with The Hague, a gorgeously picked tune, high on melody quotient, and basically very simple. They remind me a bit of Kings Of Convenience on this one. Bubblegum Lemonade fittingly make bubblegum pop transplanted to the mid eighties on Cuts Like A Dream. I Keep To Myself by Math And Physics Club is a bleepy, shuffly cute little indie popper and The Guild League’s Bookmark is a maudlin show tune, that proves Tali White’s new band should outstrip his old. A marvellous collection that should inspire you to investigate the label’s back catalogue further.   --Russell’s Reviews
This Californian label doesn’t make a huge noise, but its ear for indie pop is sound, and its compilations are rewarding. The Matinée Grand Prix is mostly gently paced, although there’s some bad-girl faster-pussycat noise from England’s Tender Trap and a zooming piece from Scotland’s Strawberry Whiplash. Otherwise, we have marvelous, rueful folksiness from Finland’s Cats on Fire and an elegiac track from the disbanding Australians, the Lucksmiths. The latter is sung by a narrator walking home after a late New Year’s Eve party who arrives so close to dawn that “the get-to-bed birds are singing.” Quietly witty, it finds the group waving goodbye. Singing about a departed girlfriend in “Bookmark”, fellow Australians the Guild League exemplifies the see-saw battle between egoism and self-knowledge that can make this softly introverted music so moving. First, the singer comes to the brink of self-pity with, “I’ll never forget you,” then steps back into something sterner with the next line: “Or let you back inside my house.” The pause between the two is just long enough for us to register the thought that went into that qualification.   --Pop Matters
El prestigioso sello norteamericano Matinée, nacido allá por 1.997, edita una más que interesante recopilación que resume el presente y futuro de su catálogo. En total son once canciones firmadas por Northern Portrait, Strawberry Whiplash, The Lucksmiths, The Electric Pop Group, Clay Hips, Tender Trap, Simpático, Cats on Fire, Bubblegum Lemonade, Math And Physics Club y The Guild League. Ahí es nada.   --Avec La Participation De
Matinée Recordings has started the year running on all cylinders when they put out their 50th album release, “The Matinée Grand Prix”. It’s a proper record label compilation, showing off all the talent packed into this indie label. If you’re not too familiar with Matinée Recordings yet, then you should buy this album. Everything that’s great about this label has been stuffed into this release. I also think this will be one of the best album covers for the year. As soon as I saw it, I was instantly interested in the compilation.   --Indie Today
Aquellos que nos siguen desde hace tiempo saben que no son los discos recopilatorios uno de nuestros platos preferidos. Y no porque la unión de diversos artistas en un mismo trabajo nos resulte a priori algo insustancial, todo lo contrario, si no más bien porque a lo largo de los años han sido muchas las discográficas que han utilizado esta fórmula para hacer caja sin preocuparse en exceso de la calidad y homogeneidad del contenido de los discos recopilatorios. Tiempo atrás, tanto que hasta nos entra un escalofrío al darnos cuenta de los años que llevamos comprando música, los discos recopilatorios (entonces forzosamente en imperecederos vinilos) eran una de nuestras mayores fuentes de conocimiento. La información era escasa, y tener una buena muestra de la música de diez o doce bandas por el módico precio de poco más de mil pesetillas, resultaba siempre algo apetitoso. Matinée Recordings es probablemente el mejor sello Pop que existe en la actualidad, su catálogo ha sido compuesto con un buen gusto con el que otros pocos sellos resistirían comparación, pero ha sabiendas de que aquellos que todavía compramos discos buscamos un producto perfecto, el sello estadounidense siempre ha cuidado el diseño de sus trabajos al máximo, haciendo que su catálogo suponga un verdadero disfrute tanto para la vista como para el oído. Y siguiendo con esa manera de hacer bien las cosas, Matinée nunca ha dejado de lado o ha menospreciado el valor de un buen recopilatorio, un producto útil tanto para aquel que pretende un primer acercamiento a la música del sello, como para aquellos completistas que queremos tener en casa todas las referencias puestas a la venta por uno de nuestras discográficas favoritas. El último fruto de este buen hacer con los recopilatorios supone la referencia número 50 del catálogo de Matinée Recordings, un disco que con el título de The Matinée Grand Prix nos acerca a muchas nuevas piezas de once de las bandas que han publicado trabajos hasta la fecha en el sello de Santa Bárbara. Este Grand Prix se abre con otra preciosa (y van…..) canción a cargo de los daneses Northern Portrait, Stirling Moss no decepcionará a los seguidores de esos obsesos buscadores de la melodía perfecta. Sin embargo Stirling Moss goza de una intimidad y melancolía que alcanza las cinco estrellas, una pena no ver incluida esta pequeña joyita en su reciente Criminal Art Lovers. A continuación Strawberry Whiplash se descuelgan con un adictivo Boy In The Bubble Car, si Bubblegum Lemonade nos gustan, la composiciones de Laz junto a la voz de Sandra hacen que los escoceses suban enteros respecto a su primero disco de hace un par de años. Get-To-Bed Birds no es una de las mejores composiciones de The Lucksmiths, pero sí la última, y esto, unido a la buena forma siempre mostrada por los australianos, hace que haya que detenerse para hacer una atenta escucha de la despedida de un grupo que nos ha dado tantas alegrías a través muchos años. Sin embargo el tiempo para la nostalgia debe ser el justo, el mundo no se para por nadie, y The Electric Pop Group dejan aquí un Believers que bien pudiera ser la respuesta a aquellos que menosprecian el valor de unos suecos que a sabiendas de sus limitaciones, siempre dejan buenas melodías tras de sí. A Clay Hips les toca dejar bien alto el pabellón del tecnopop (o europop) con un Disappointed que es pura ensoñación y da unas ganas locas de bailar, recordando el acercamiento más intenso de Field Mice a la electrónica. Tender Trap (o Amelia Fletcher, vamos) llevan muchos años en esto de la música, y crear un tema correcto nunca les resultará difícil, y eso es Danger Overboard, sin más, lo cual nos deja con un sabor de boca ciertamente agridulce. Simpático es, de todo el catálogo de Matinée, la única banda que no ha logrado calar en nosotros, y Australian Idle no va a cambiar esta percepción que tenemos del grupo. Todo lo contrario que nos pasa con Cats On Fire, a los que caímos rendidos desde les conocimos, The Hague es el single digital que publicó el grupo hace un par de meses, y sólo puede conseguirse en soporte físico a través de este Grand Prix. Llegado este momento encaramos la recta final del recopilatorio con tres apuestas seguras; Bubblegum Lemonade, Math And Physics Club y The Guild League. Laz firma Cuts Like a Dream, una tonadilla discreta pero encantadora que hubiera encajado a la perfección en cualquiera de los discos de Bubblegum Lemonade, Maths and Physics Club dejan I Keep To Myself, pieza en clave electrónica que como pequeña extravagancia o anécdota de un grupo del que esperamos con impaciencia su segundo trabajo largo. Despidiendo este gran premio la elegancia de The Guild League, que con Bookmark nos dejan tan encandilados como siempre, el aire cálido y romántico de esta pieza se nos antoja como la mejor manera de finalizar un recopilatorio que alcanza una nota altísima, y resulta de obligada adquisición para todo aquel seguidor de los sonidos de un sello que no para de darnos alegrías, habiéndose convertido desde hace mucho tiempo en una de esas pocas apuestas seguras que todavía existen.   --360º de Separación
Le label Matinée Records sort en janvier 2010 une compilation nommée The Matinée Grand Prix, présentant 11 titres enregistrés pour l’occasion par les groupes du label. Les Lucksmiths, Cats on fire, Northern Portrait, Bubblegum Lemonade, Math & Physics Club etc… une suite brillante de noms illustre cette sublime compilation d’inédits. Parmi ceux-ci sont à découvrir Get-To-Bed Birds des Lucksmiths qui , au grand désarroi de leurs fans, ont annoncé en 2009 leur fin, Bookmark des Guild League, The Hague de Cats on Fire.   --Kingem