The Matinee ’22 v. 040 is an All-Star edition featuring plenty of recognizable names, including one that might not be immediately evident but the sound of her voice gives her away. The mini-playlist is a diverse collection of nine songs, including stark and brooding numbers, fun indie-pop, buzzing psychedelia, intimate electro-pop, electrifying alt-electronica, and springtime indie rock.
Zola Jesus – “Lost” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Zola Jesus
Five years have passed since Nika Roza Danilova released Zola Jesus‘ last album, the bleak and beautiful Okovi. She did release a couple of songs afterwards, including the trembling “Bound”, and a live album, but the Gothic god has largely been quiet on the musical front. Given the complexity and depth of her art, it is unsurprising that a half-decade will have passed between albums. The wait for Arkhon, however, will be worth it because Danilova is guaranteed to awe and amaze with every output. This is her nature, which she unveils once more on “Lost”.
Zola Jesus’ newest single might be her most stunning. The heavy propulsion of her previous songs has been temporarily set aside for a captivating starkness. Patiently the song commences with just ambient noise for the first 10 seconds before a slow-building wave of synths and electronics is heard. From behind, Danilova’s fulsome aria emerges. She is like Freya descending from the skies and into the forest, and she comes to warn us of our own self-destruction. Warning us that our greed, desires, and self-interests will come back to haunt us.
“In my woods I form a part
to be spoken both must start
ask for all your wisdom here
give me space to disappear
Everyone I know is lost
flare gone missing, turning dark
we keep walking through the weeds
hoping for a quick release”
Arkhon will be released May 20th via Sacred Bones Records. Pre-orders and pre-saves available at these links as well as on Bandcamp. From what we can find, Arkhon is derived from the Greek word for ruler.
Girlpool – “Nothing Gives Me Pleasure” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Charly Bliss, Indigo De Souza, Florist
Harmony Tividad and Avery Tucker have come a long way since the early Girlpool releases. Their sound has shifted from just the two practically screaming together over bass and guitar into a more fleshed-out and diverse sound. Even within the singles Girlpool has shared from their upcoming record, Forgiveness, the duo have shown a huge range. There is the intensity of the synth-laden “Lie Love Lullaby”, the poppier sounds of “Faultine”, and dreaminess of “Dragging My Life into a Dream”. More than just a change in sound, the duo have grown in many ways.
On their latest single, “Nothing Gives Me Pleasure”, Girlpool take so many different sounds and make them their own. There’s harsh electronic distortion from the opening moments that keeps pulsing through the entire song. But there’s gorgeous, heavenly synthesizer that’s made even moreso by Tividad’s voice, which is drenched in auto-tuned harmonies. After the distortion breaks, a drum machine, some ambient guitar and bass join in an immense final moment. Tividad’s lyrics are brutally honest with herself, stating that the single “is about trying to love yourself when it feels like no one else will.” Its early lines reflect that loss of self worth, and how that is distorted when focused on unrequited love. By the end, however, there’s almost a peace between the lyrics and the music.
RIYL: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, POND, Fuzz
If a music bible was to ever be written, the sixth day (Friday) would be dedicated to psychedelic rock. Whether it’s ’70s fuzz or the manic qualities of today’s take, a great psych tune can turn an o.k. weekend into a great one. Among the very best at doing this are Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, who, like their Aussie cousins The Gizz and POND, know how to lift our spirits and psyches. They did this with “Lava Lamp Pisco”,“Bubblegum Infinity”, and “Dread & Butter”, which are the first three singles from their forthcoming new album, Night Gnomes. They again set off fireworks with “Bob Holiday”.
The explosive light show begins right at the start and never relents with over-driven and flaming guitars, a pulsing bass line, and hammering percussion igniting the sky. Jack McEwan (guitar, vocals), Luke Parish (guitar), Luke Reynolds (bass), Chris Young (keys), and Danny Caddy’s (drums) delivery is so good that they are worthy of air (insert instrument) poses. While the quintet know how to lay down catchy riffs and eardrum-splitting rhythms, McEwan also knows how to tell a great tale. In this case, he speaks to the stoic beings we are, where we mechanically go through our routines and nod our heads at the orders given. We are nothing more than sheep most of the times, but it’s time for us to unravel. Time to allow our humanity to show.
“Relay modus, trying to stay focused on
All components, drifting off and leaving me unbound
You are tripping on words
It’s like you’ve been dissected and set in reverse
Or is it me that’s so fried?
Are you even there at all?
I’ve been listening to all your tales humming in my thoughts”
Spielbergs – “Brother of Mine” (Oslo, Norway)
RIYL: Hüsker Dü, Wavves, Twin Peaks
Four years ago, almost to the day, a little Norwegian trio blew our minds with their feverish, anthemic rock and a song about living for the day. The song was “We Are All Going to Die”, and the band took their name after one of the great movie directors. They are, of course, The Spielbergs, who seem to play every song like it’s, well, their last day. The cathartic urgency in their music is why Mads Baklien (vocals, guitar), Stian Brennskag (bass), and Christian Løvhaug (drums) have become one of our favorites. It is also why we are ecstatic to hear “Brother of Mine”.
The band’s trademark fiery and emotive alt-rock emerges from the very first notes. Blistering guitar riffs, quick bass pulses, and pummeling drums occupy most of the song’s 4 minute and 14 second duration. As they surge together, ebb back at the bridge, and then rise again, we quickly feel we have become part of the song. Or more like we have been the surfer that is riding this magnificent wave of sonic adrenaline.
As we enjoy the ride, we also keep our ears attuned to Baklien’s heartfelt tale. The song is an apology, a dedication, and an open admittance of mistakes. It is a reminder that time is too short to hold grudges and be separated from those we love. As Baklien says, “I won’t be the first to admit that I’m right” because in the big scheme of things that matters little. What matters is how we spend the time we have left.
Flossing – “Men on the Menu” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: St. Vincent + David Byrne + Alice Glass
While Heather Elle could have continued to perform with The Wants and BODEGA, two fast-rising NYC bands, she opted to launch her own solo project. As creative as her former bands are, as Flossing, she is not just creating but innovating. We heard this on her searing debut single, “Switch”; the multi-genre scorcher, “TRAP”; and swirling Gothika of “Add to Cart”. These three songs made her one of Favorite Hidden Gems of 2021, but that’s just her floor. Elle’s potential is limitless because few artists can bring together a wide range of genres and make them sound not just coherent but mind-blowingly awesome. And she’s done it for a fourth time with “Men on the Menu”.
We had no idea how to categorize the song, but it is clearly a mélange of sound, textures, and ideas. There is the attitude and brilliance of Annie Clark, the art-punk innovation of David Byrne, and the stark indietronic fervor of Alice Glass. Oh, there is even a bit of the E-Street band with the surprising sax solo in the middle of the track, and it’s outstanding.
One final comparison needs to be mentioned and that is Mary Wollstonecraft. Like the feminist advocate, writer, and philosopher, Elle delivers a great tale of how our world is still largely misogynist with men still ordering others while running the world into the ground. Her lyricism is smart, witty, and on point.
“He gets stoned to the S-S-Stone Roses and does yoga to the Rolling Stones-s
Beer breath adlib, locker room candid; once enchanted could take you for granted
These are the men on the menu
Distance, fastest, relevance, recommended
Acting like he’s a gift from God providing me with a once-in-a-lifetime job
Overlookin’, undercookin’, overreachin’, leachin’, over-preachin’
These are the men on the menu”
The single is out on Brace Yourself Records. Let’s hope Elle’s sophomore EP or debut full-length are around the corner.
Sirene – “Walk Alone” (London via Leeds, England)
RIYL: ANOHNI, Joan as Policewoman, deryk
Those familiar with the London and Leeds music scene may have come across Clare Kelly performing at a club or one of the night’s performing bands. You may not have known her name, but her voice is unforgettable. Her smoky, multi-octave vocal is not just unique but unforgettable, and it’s one of the greatest in the business. After years performing under her own name, she has decided to reinvent herself as Sirene, which is immensely appropriate. Kelly is, as she accurately describes herself, a one-woman choir, which she showcases on “Walk Alone”.
The alt-folk arrangement is simple at first with light keys and the occasional pluck of a guitar providing the musical support. Drums later kick in, but they, too, are softly executed. The remaining space is provided for Kelly’s amazing voice, which immediately awes and keeps the listener paralyzed for the song’s entire three minutes. Kelly’s gifts, though, extend to her great songwriting. On “Sedation”, which was the last single under her own name, she startled with the intimacy and realism of her lyrics. This time around she buckles our knees, as she shares an event that stole her innocence and her being. At the start, Sirene shares:
“It’s your fault
What you did to me
And all the shit that happened after that
In the aftermath
Manipulated, my legs were coiled on the ropes that we swung on as kids
I couldn’t break free
So, I lied to hide the twisted truth
I attacked to defend my youth”
And then towards the end, she sings with great power, “My body was your ammo / But our lips never touched”.
“Walk Alone” is a song-of-the-year candidate. We’ll be hard-pressed to hear another song as stunning, emotional, and startling as this.
Let’s Eat Grandma – “Levitation” (Norfolk, England)
RIYL: Chelsea Jade, Milk & Bone, Yumi Zouma
It’s impossible to predict what a new release from Let’s Eat Grandma will sound like. The duo of Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton effortlessly shift genres throughout their discography. Even recently, they released the gorgeous “Two Ribbons”, a tribute to Hollingworth’s late boyfriend. That was proceeded with the upbeat, synth-pop celebration “Happy New Year”.
They’ve followed those up with the fantastic “Levitation”. The song is defined by its infectious synth layers. It’s undeniably danceable, and that fits in with the song’s theme of escapism. Let’s Eat Grandma sing of those times where escaping to a surreal space to levitate. It’s also about experiencing those moments with someone else, about the people who get us through the moments that make us need to escape. They keep us grounded, where “Everything feels so amazing when our bodies float like levitation”.
“Are you here or somewhere else?
Shooting stars in your direction
as I’m losing grip on my reflection
and I Call you near, from somewhere else
Everything feels so amazing when our bodies float like levitation”
The duo’s new album, Two Ribbons, was recently pushed back a couple of weeks, but will be worth the wait when it drops April 29th, 2022 on Transgressive Records and PIAS Recordings. Pre-orders are available here.
Say Sue Me – “Around You” (Busan, South Korea)
RIYL: The Beths, Fazerdaze, Illuminati Hotties
최수미 Choi Sumi (vocals/guitar), 김병규 Kim Byungkyu (guitar/vocals), 하재영 Ha Jaeyoung (bass), and 강세민 Kang Semin (drums) – a.k.a. Say Sue Me – have released some really fantastic indie rock over the last few years. The band released their first EP outside of Korea in 2017, and it left a heck of a first impression. Since then, they’ve continued to release music that ranges from life-affirming indie rock to more emotional and personal songs. It’s no surprise they’ve found themselves on the soundtracks of K-dramas as well.
Their most recent single, “Around You”, is an example of what makes Say Sue Me’s sound so inviting. It’s a great pop-rocker, highlighted by Choi’s upbeat vocals, a bouncy acoustic guitar track, and fantastic drums. Add in some reverb electric guitar and charming guitar chords, it’s hard to not be enthralled on the sound alone.
Lyrically, the song tackles the early days of the pandemic. Choi sings about being stuck in her room and the better days that await her once she can get outside and around others. We’re not exactly out of the woods yet, but we’ve been able to reconnect with those we had to distance from over the last couple of years, In the closing moments of “Around You”, the band euphorically capture the moments of the joy of these reunions.
Kurt Vile – “Mount Airy Hill (Way Gone)” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Kurt Vile
On “Like Exploding Stones” and “Hey Like A Child”, Kurt Vile‘s hallmark jangly rock was on full display. For us, his songs epitomize Spring, as the music and stories are warm, inviting, and endearing. The Philadelphia-based indie-rock star also can showcase a very tender side, which might be more embracing than his trademark approach.
There are no bells and whistles on “Mount Airy Hill (Way Gone)”. The light buzz of a synth, twangy guitar riffs, pensive drums, and a laboring bass are all that is heard. And yet, it is like mid-afternoon daydream, as each element weightlessly hovers in space and casts a spell that induces us to smile. Vile’s voice is languid, serene, and raw. Even when it gets a bit off key at the high points, we still grin because of the song’s intimacy and Vile’s personable style. We grin because we know what it is like to live a roller coaster life, where the highs are euphoric and the lows can be devastating. We know what it’s like to be the snake in the grass, where no one sees us until we bite.
“I was flyin’ high through the night when the mornin’ came
But I was gone, if you know, what I mean
I was around but now I’m gone
Been done down but now I’m just way down low
(Watch my moves)
He do the snake in the grass
He do the wiggle it around now, way down low
I been around but now I’m gone
Been gone but now I’m just way gone
I been around but now I’m gone
Been gone but now I’m way gone”
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