Iowa City Indie pop duo Shades recently released their debut EP ‘Can’t See The Haters’. The band, which consists of siblings Casey Mattes (producer) and Mary Mattes (vocalist) is squad goals. After all, some of the best bands have had the sibling connection (Good Charlotte, My Chemical Romance) so it only makes sense that Shades’ undertaking is purely in sync. ‘Can’t See The Haters’ consists of 6 singles, all of which showcase the band’s performance prowess, vocal talents, songwriting skills, and musicianship.
Though Shades is considered an indie pop collective, upon first listen it is evident that their music has a distinct mainstream appeal. Listeners will capture elements of alternative rock, hip-hop and EDM music. Casey and Mary are dialed into the sounds that are current today, the sounds that mean the most to younger audiences.
Even though their music expresses a strong sensibility for what is trendy, Shades’ sound is by no means basic. ‘Can’t See The Haters’ is a complex formulation of luminescent melodies, inspiring lyrical content, and youthful vibrance. Though Shades’ inception is relatively new, it is evident that the respective artists have been working diligently to craft their sounds for quite some time. We’ll take you through the 6 tracks on the EP and share a few highlights, but we highly recommend delving into the sounds of Shades for yourself to gain the full experience.
The first song on the EP is “Not Really Sorry” which casts a very bright light in terms of ambiance. The song has a pleasantly rebellious flair that is reminiscent to Tay Tay’s 1989. No shade (no pun intended!) we totally love Tay Tay but let’s keep it one to the hundred, “Not Really Sorry” has much more bounce and goes to places where Miss Swift probably wouldn’t dare. The track is edgy but not gritty, spirited but not vexed.
“Not Really Sorry” is layered with ear-pleasing instrumentals, delivering a fun pop sound with a bit of dirty bass making it a perfectly cool club sound factor or a laid-back chill tune. The song presents a fusion of synth-infused EDM, dreamy melodies and cooling ambient waves. Fans of pop and EDM blends will enjoy the festive feel of the song.
Although the track has an elevated feel, the lyrical content contrasts the vibe of the song. Mary expresses some frustration with a relationship and asks some pertinent questions that seem to lead to some form of self-discovery. Mary sings, “I’m not the type to follow your agenda”, which speaks to the freeing feelings associated with being independent. She goes on to sing, “maybe, we’ll see I’ll try to stick around, if you try to hold your ground, there is no guarantee”. This is a theme that anyone can relate to in terms of balancing a relationships and personal aspirations. We get the feeling that Mary feels no regret if she has to shelf a partner, friend or foe and focus on her goals, we can dig that.
The next track on the EP that fans will get to absorb is “Kill The Darkness” a dynamic track with a fantastic hybrid of electronic music elements. As the song progressives listeners will experience a wave of emotions as expressed through vocals and music intertwined. Once again, listeners will encounter a production that deals with the changing tides of human relations. “Kill The Darkness” conveys a conflicted experience that will resound with listeners.
As Mary sings, “we got problems, the list runs as long as the road that’s before us”, she makes no mistake to still mention, that she has “tunnel vision”. We really appreciate being able to experience the raw emotion behind this track which is complemented by the instrumentals. Mary showcases the diverse range of her skills by also spitting a few rap bars on this track, doing so in the most poetic manner.
“Kill The Darkness” starts of with warm set of melodies which quickly transform into electrifying sonic waves and dub sequences which roar across the mix. The track has an interesting tropical vibe that is temperate but also refreshing. The vibe of the track is energetic, uplifting and sensory.
Following, “Kill The Darkness” is the fitting mix, “Rainbowz” which has a grittier edge. At this point in the EP it is clear that the songs are arranged in such a manner to tell a story. “Rainbowz” takes a very direct approach and also has a slightly darker ambiance than the previous tracks, despite its title. The song morphs before the ears, delivering a multifaceted listening experience that journeys from street to dreamy and dark to light with vocal musings.
“Rainbowz” transitions through classical sounding instrumentals to cinematic waves and beyond urban-laced beats. The track has a deep dark base line and sharp percussive accents. Ambient waves peer through the arrangement while stretchy synths linger in harmony with Mary’s vocals which alter from theatrical to gritty rap.
“Rainbowz” is truly an artistic production that is deep in terms of lyrical content and complex in terms of musical production. The song is as aggressive as it is subtle and as uplifting as it is pensive. By the song’s finish, fans will feel an odd sense of elation and a touch of hope as delicate melodies and an epic vocal performance gently fade out.
A song that tells another moving story while showing off the band’s wide rage is “American Dream”. The track offers an orchestrated sound that is mashed up with a folksy feel and retro pop vibe. The song deals with many different topics and issues that are relevant today, making the song timely. Despite the energetic feel of the track, there are some heavy messages expressed through the songwriting.
When, Mary sings, “What would you say if I stood up an walked the fuck away”, listeners can feel frustrations with conventional means. The song is sung from several different perspective which creates an interesting balance in the storytelling. The focus of the song toggles in such a way that it conveys a series of emotions that range from anger and frustration to contentment and resolve. Lyrics that stick out which sum up the experience are “My dream is not your dream, but I really like it”.
Shades bring the tempo down on “Back & Forth”, another powerful song with enticing instrumentals and a compelling vocal performance. “Back & Forth” introduces fans to a different side of Shades, one that will not be experienced in the previous tracks. This song which also delivers quintessential songwriting, is immense though it plays out like lounge staple. Mary gives a sultry vocal performance over grooving sonic layers for a completely infectious experience.
Shades slays on this song in more ways than one. Mary sings, “Catch me and lock me up, cuz you’re in control, you’re on top” and then “ you out of line, a rogue detonator and when your trigger’s pulled my walls are fallin’ down’. We are here for this explosive track that is delivered with such subtlety that it will either hypnotize you into submission or leave you picking up the pieces.
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We’re excited about the instrumentals on this track because they are a delectable fusion of throwback synths and futuristic ambient waves with a faint hip-hop vibe. “Back & Forth” is complicated and intoxicatingly beautiful.
‘Can’t See The Haters’ concludes with the title track, a song which starts out with cinematic waves and rich piano melodies. The song performs like a dark street ballad as each layer slowly builds from the dark, converging with illuminated moments before returning to shadowy areas. Fans will enjoy the changing textures of this track which convey feely vibes and an emotional vocal performance.
Shades gives listeners strong lyrical content and powerful songwriting that lingers in the mind touching on realistic complexities. Few artists are able to do this while also bringing good music to the table. Often we are forced to accept one or the other and take the trade-offs as they come for the sake of mainstream entertainment. “Can’t See The Haters” accomplishes the daunting task of putting out great music that speaks to the spirit while delivering powerful messages. Check out the single, “Can’t See The Haters” on Spotify.
Listen to Shades “Can’t See The Haters” on Spotify
‘Can’t See The Haters’ by Shades is a street anthem for today’s millennial. The band touches on relevant themes that will resonate with listeners from coast to coast. Shades has discovered a way to connect with fans through inspiring performances that are both fearless and entertaining. Through descriptive storytelling, reverberating music and uncomfortable conversations, Shades ironically brings to light the challenges faced by young people on a wide scale. If you enjoy bands such as Twenty One Pilots, Chainsmokers, and Paramore, and artists such as Halsey and Melanie Martinez, you will enjoy the sounds of Shades.
Hailing from Iowa City, IA, Shades is a “DIY pop group” meaning they write, produce, mix and master their own material right from their own studio. The producer and singer-songwriter duo are brother and sister and their eclectic sound has been described as “dynamic”. Shades is known for blending together facets of electropop, alternative, hip-hop and EDM. Mary, the vocalist of the team pens the lyrics and they are often rooted in poetry while also reflecting the ethos of twenty-somethings who struggle to thrive in today’s world filled with hate.” (Shades)
Shades released their debut EP ‘Can’t See The Haters’ in January 2018. About their project the band’s producer Casey states, “You can either let the hate blind you, or you can block it out”. Casey goes on to say, “This EP introduces our band name to the world and describes the underlying meaning behind every piece of work we create. We wear our Shades so we can’t see the haters and we encourage you to do the same.” Casey lets fans know, “This EP is just the beginning, We’re so excited to share with you what’s next”.
Shades’ music is a fusion of indie pop and alternative hip hop, a genre which today’s millennial music lovers are drawn to. The duo continues to make ground with their music as they a have already amassed a legion of loyal followers from their hometown. It is just a matter of time before Shades becomes a household name and their songs are being sung by a global audience. Learn more about Shades by following the links below.