The Matinee ’21 v. 002 features a six-pack of songs that will leave you in utter bliss or rocking out like there’s no tomorrow. It’s the soundtrack that will ease you into another workday or another day of lockdown. Stay safe everyone!

SYML – “TRUE” (Seattle, USA)

RIYL: Massive Attack, Moby, Bon Iver

Massive Attack and Moby both set the gold standard benchmark for hypnotic downtempo perfection with “Teardrop” and “Porcelain” back in the late ‘90s. Many artists have tried to channel some of that sultry magic since then, though few come close to achieving success. Until now. Seattle-based artist Brian Fennell – aka SYML channels both on his new track, and in doing so achieves a new level of artistic brilliance.

“TRUE” combines old-school languid tempos, sweeping synth passages, and hauntingly gorgeous vocals. The minimal instrumentation begins with percussion that echoes “Teardrop” before continuing the aquatic imagery with lyrics like “wash me clean with holy water” and “savor the flavor of wet skin.” If your pulse isn’t racing by the time he belts out the chorus, then please seek urgent medical attention. Be warned though: there is so much beauty here to absorb that you may need a dozen repeated listens before your breathing returns to normal. “TRUE” is a gorgeous way to begin the new year. Hopefully SYML will share details of a full album soon. This tune certainly has us excited for one.

This single is streaming now via Nettwerk Music Group from these sources and available for purchase from Bandcamp.

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Sun June – “Everything I had” (Austin, USA)

RIYL: Land of Talk, Deep Sea Diver, Sharon Van Etten

When was the last time you’ve heard a song that encouraged you to calmly breathe and take everything in around you? In these times, it might have been a while, but thankfully self-described regret-pop outfit Sun June give us a reason to take a timeout and just chill with “Everything I had”.

After sharing the stunning “Bad Girl” before the holidays, Laura Colwells (vocals/keys), Stephen Salisbury (guitar), Michael Bain (guitar), Sarah Schultz (drums), and Justin Harris (bass) return with a song of immense beauty. The melody is serene yet enrapturing like a fleece blanket on a cold, crisp morning. It fully embraces you and warms you to the core. Colwells’ intoxicating voice, meanwhile, guides our thoughts, as she reflects on how life is constantly changing and how we long to simultaneously seek new adventures yet yearn for the stability of the known. In the midst of a global pandemic, her words, “Everything I had I want it back”, take on new meaning. As we recall what was and what could have been, we begin to realize during the song’s blissful instrumental outro that all we can do is live for today.

We can also dream about Somewhere, which is the title of Sun June’s sophomore album. It drops February 5th, 2021 via Run for Cover Records and Keeled Scales. Pre-order it here.

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The Weather Station – “Atlantic” (Toronto, Canada)

RIYL: Talk Talk, Wye Oak, Lanterns on the Lake

When speaking about criminally-underrated artists, Tamara Lindeman’s project The Weather Station is right near the top. With four studio albums to her credit and a fifth less than a month away, the Toronto-based artist continues to be overlooked. She should instead be celebrated liked Feist with her poetic and vivid songwriting and genre-less experimentalism. Maybe her fifth album, Ignorance, will finally see the music world exalt her talents while mainstream fans are captivated by her art.

Having already shared “Robber” and “Tried to Tell You” from the record, Lindeman unveils one final track before Ignorance‘s February 5th release. With “Atlantic”, The Weather Station delves into the swirling art-rock soundscapes of Talk Talk and Lanterns on the Lake. An urgent jitter emanates from the sobering keys, titillating drums, and hovering flute. Meanwhile, a desperation fills Lindeman’s voice and lyrics, as she realizes her contribution to the end of the world. She brilliantly juxtaposes the explosion of color that fills Mother Nature’s sky (“My God, I thought what a sunset / Blood red floods the Atlantic”) with the man-made destruction consuming us (“I should really know better than to read the headlines”).

For far too long, she has been ignorant to the beauty that surrounds her, yet she has been contributing to its decay. Although maybe it is best to be blind, as she asks, “Oh tell me, why can’t I just cover my eyes?” She does not offer a reply because she already knows the answer. Ignorance is not bliss after all. Lindeman’s new album of the same name, though, likely will be. Fat Possum Records and Next Door Records will release it. Pre-orders are available on Bandcamp.

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Kiwi Jr. – “Waiting In Line” (Toronto, Canada)

RIYL: The Chills, The Clean, Nap Eyes

To say we’re expecting big things from Kiwi Jr. would be an understatement. They were only featured on our Most Anticipated Albums and Artists to Watch lists. No pressure guys! We doubt, however, that Jeremy Gaudet (vocals, guitar, keys), Brian Murphy (guitar, backing vocals), Mike Walker (bass, keys, backing vocals), and Brohan Moore (drums, backing vocals) are feeling any anxiety since they’ve already shared the humorous yet relevant  “Undecided Voters” and the amusing but relatable “Cooler Returns”. When we shared those songs, we mused that the Canadians “might have an identity crisis” in taking the name usually reserved for New Zealanders and their national bird. Well, maybe the quartet secretly do want to be Kiwi because their latest single, “Waiting In Line”, would be perfectly placed on the legendary Flying Nun label.

The track is a jittery, jangly, infectious number that buzzes of the Dunedin sound of the late ’70s and early ’80s. It will, as such, incite heads to involuntarily sway from side to side. It’s also the perfect tune to go skipping through the park and you won’t even feel foolish while doing it. While the melody is bright and warming, Gaudet once again delivers a fantastic, observant tale. He tells the story of people like him who are constantly waiting for something to happen and be subservient to fate, the whims of another (like a lover), and time. While the people in Gaudet’s story hope things fall in place, Kiwi Jr. are proving they’re masters of their fate. This is another reason why we think they’re about to explode.

The seismic eruption should happen January 22nd. This is when their new album, Cooler Returns, drops via Sub Pop (global) and their own Kiwi Club imprint.  Bandcamp and the label’s store are the places to go to pre-order the record.

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Yung – “Friends on Ice” (Aarhus, Denmark)

RIYL: DIIV, Chapterhouse, Cloud Nothings

We’ve been buzzing about Danish quartet Yung for more than half-a-decade. In that time, Mikkel Holm Silkjær, Tobias Guldborg Tarp, Frederik Nybo Veile, and Emil Zethsen have patiently built up their portfolio, expanded their craft, and grew their popularity. Now we are only 10 days away from their long-awaited debut album, Ongoing Dispute, which unsurprisingly was one of our Most Anticipated Albums of the Year. The LP’s first three singles – “Above Water”, “Progress”, and “Such A Man” – raised expectations, which have only increased with “Friends on Ice”.

Whereas the previous songs were bold and throbbing, “Friends on Ice” is stunning. It is taken right out of one of the great soundtracks of the ’80s with its wistful yet dazzling shoegaze approach, leaving everyone in its wake in a state of awe and amazement. Silkjær, meanwhile, emotionally tells a story of seeing his best friends move away. When they return,  he can “feel all right again”. Yeah, his story, too, echoes the great films of the era, such as The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This is the song that we need so badly in these desperate times, where finally we can see the light beyond the darkness. Where we can indeed foresee the possibility that we will get to embrace those that we love soon and, thus, feel whole again.

Ongoing Dispute will be released on the great PNKSLM Recordings. Pre-orders are available on Bandcamp and the label’s store.

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Gardenback – “Motorway” (Manchester, England)

RIYL: Pavement x The Doors

Manchester- (Oldham to be exact) based trio Gardenback are well, back. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve heard any new music from them. Towards the end of last month, they released “Motorway”, which is a frenetic masterpiece with a storytelling vibe similar to The Doors and the stellar energy exuded by Pavement. With “Motorway”, they’ve fully embraced nostalgic psychedelia as opposed to their previous post-punk influences as heard on “Sleepless”.

The track is actually the perfect one for a road trip of course, preferably a nice, long, night drive. We are hoping 2021 includes more tunes from the trio and if the world ever gets back to normal, they could easily be one to grace the stages of SXSW. We sure do hope one day we can attend those type of festivals again.

The brooding lyrics speak of uncertainty and of course the myriad of emotions we all experience in the day to day. The trio shared this about the track:

“It’s a song about the anxieties that rise when you dwell too long on the dangers of banal, everyday actions.”

You can pick up “Motorway” on Bandcamp. The band will also be releasing a rare demos EP called, The Modern Living, on January 15th via Rare Vitamin Records.

Gardenback are Ellis Hodgkiss, Neil Eskins and Jacob Connor.

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