From the melancholic to the zany, from breathtaking to awe-inspiring, The Matinee ’21 v. 008 edition is a mini-soundtrack of our lives today.

 

Bleach Lab – “Old Ways” (London via Buckinghamshire, England)

RIYL: The Sundays, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Raveonettes

It took only one song – “Never Be” – to have us fall head over heels for Bleach Lab. Like the great sadcore bands of the ’90s, they knew exactly what buttons to push and strings to tug to have listeners amazed and bewildered at the beautiful mournfulness of their songs. Because of this ability, they were one of our Artists of Watch in 2021, and the year should be a banner one for Jenna Kyle (vocals), Josh Longman (bass), Frank Wates (guitar), and Shawn Courtney (drums) because their debut EP, A Calm Sense of Understanding, is not far away. It drops March 19th to be exact. “Never Be” was the first release, and the second is another dazzler.

Immediately, a stunning melancholy strikes in “Old Ways” with the ringing, hallow guitar and the stuttering throbs of the rhythms. The moment is one to deeply inhale because then Kyle’s voice, one of the most gorgeous in the business today, arrives and leaves you paralyzed. While beautifully intoxicating, sadness and remorse fill her words, as she reflects back on how a long relationship came to a crashing end.

“Before you say it, I think I already know
I never said it, you made it up on your own
You told a lie, you will regret it
Before you say it, I never said it
I never said it, you made it up on your own”

This band is going places, very big places.

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The Besnard Lakes – “Our Heads, Our Hearts On Fire Again” (Montreal, Canada)

RIYL: Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, RIDE

Raise your hand if your soul needs six-plus minutes of exhilarating shoegaze. Longtime favorites The Besnard Lakes take listeners on a thrill ride of brightly-hued psych-tinged textures on this tune. The song’s title – “Our Heads, Our Hearts on Fire Again” – offers hints of the brilliance that Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas have created. Indeed every aspect of this band is aflame here, from the hazy extended intro to the grandeur of the verses and chorus. 

Those hazy clouds part at the 1:08 mark to reveal sweeping vistas of churning guitars and ethereal vocals. All six members achieve a level of musical zen you expect of this band, yet somehow they have surpassed their own benchmarks of excellence. Now 15 years after their last new album, The Besnard Lakes have entered new territory. Perhaps the lyrics offer some insight:

“Contentedly picked up a pen
Looked over to him, looked so zen
Seagulls flying by, boats on the horizon
High high high, this snapshot sent…
Things have been changing
Breathing new life into our heads
Our hearts on fire again”

This is the sound of a band at the height of their creativity, only they aren’t done climbing yet. Expect more brilliance when their sixth studio album, The Besnard Lakes Are the Last of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings, arrives January 29th.Pre-orders are available here via Flemish Eye (CAN), Fat Cat Records (US), and Full Time Hobby (rest of the world).

The Besnard Lakes are: Jace Lasek, Olga Goreas, Richard White, Sheenah Koh, Kevin Laing, and Robbie MacArthur.

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Hand Habits – “4th of July” (Los Angeles & Upstate New York, USA)

RIYL: Angel Olsen, Molly Burch, Big Thief

Hand Habits, the project of Meg Duffy, has been a favorite of ours since we first listened to them. Their 2017 record, Wildly Idle was one of our favorite albums of 2017, and the 2019 placeholder was a breakout for Duffy. Duffy announced a new EP, Dirt, which will arrive February 19th, featuring a remix of a placeholder era track, a cover of Neil Young’s “I Believe In You”, and a new single, “4th of July”.

This week, Duffy shared “4th of July”, and it features everything that drew us to the songwriter, and then some. Duffy has described “4th of July” and Dirt as a whole, as “exploring themes of growth and finding ways to let go of the parts of their past that no longer serve them.” Lyrically, “4th of July” hits on that hard, describing the demolition of a factory, and the celebration of July 4th. Musically, it starts out with just acoustic guitar and Duffy’s voice before it grows into something much, much bigger. The guitar work as the song progresses is incredible.

Dirt will be released on Saddle Creek. Pre-order it at the label’s store or on Bandcamp.

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Soleil Bleu – “Alma Page” (Paris, France)

RIYL: La Femme, Air, Unloved

Ever daydream about being the heroine / hero of a film-noir espionage movie? Or maybe even the villain? Surely, everyone has envisaged themselves walking on Pont Neuf in the wee hours of the morning with a fog rising from the Seine. Whether you have or have not, Soleil Bleu‘s latest tune will take you back to the days of black-and-white films and make you feel like a movie star.

Put on your best dress or suit, drape over a trench coat, and imagine yourself in Paris as “Alma Page” spins in the background. The song seeps with the cinematic vintage sounds of the ’40s and ’50s. It is sultry and smoky, groovy and haunting, and pure mystery. As the bass and guitar ring in the background, Lou Lesage, who is a French actress, enchantingly weaves a tale about a young woman who has only seen darkness in her life. Even smiling is difficult until she meets someone. As the plot thickens, co-founder Arthur Jacquin’s voice enters the fray. A dance ensure, but not just the physical kind but also a battle of wills. Who will win? You decide.

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Number One Popstar– “I Hate Running” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Olivia Newton-John meets “Weird Al” Jankovic, Christine and the Queens, MARINA

Kate Hollowell is Number One Popstar. First off the name is either one of exuding confidence, or of satire and not taking yourself too seriously. Hollowell is, after all, the lead singer of LA punk band Slut Island, who tackle social and political issues with a sense of humor.  Her solo project goes further. It is, actually, pure genius with an ’80s-inspired awesomeness and dance-ready vibes. “I Hate Running” ironically might make you want to run as the cardio cadence is quite perfect.

The music video is clever, as Hollowell dons a cigarette crown while promoting her less than helpful new book, Work on Yourself, Loser. The single does poke fun at all the things we “need” to reach our goals and become a better person in the super crowded world of self help. Sometimes in this case,  that need is just awesome sounding dance pop and a video clever enough to make you laugh.

Hollowell shares of the song:

“‘I Hate Running’ is a play on the constant pop-up health movements in our society that make us feel like we can never do enough to better ourselves.  The song explores facing the hard emotional work instead of the physical.  I really don’t enjoy running, and I wanted to troll the exercise industry and write an anti-motivational song.  Although in the end, I think a little reverse psychology and the 80’s inspired, manic-pace of the song might actually make you want to exercise.  Tricked you!”

Hollowell just might need to watch it as she could be on her way to becoming a star.

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Caroline Kingsbury – “Lose” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Berlin, Belinda Carlisle, Lush

When we were first introduced to Caroline Kingsbury more than two years ago, we said she was going to be a star. The prediction has yet to come true, but we still think she could be big one day because her lush dream-pop is spellbinding. Maybe her day has come with the release of “Lose”.

Sit down, take a massive deep breath, and be sucked into the LA resident’s gorgeous world. The song elicits the same response as when we all heard Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” for the first time. Like that classic, “Lose” won’t get easily get out of your head. Instead, you’ll want to spin it over and over again, falling into Kingsbury’s warm and intoxicating shoegaze waters. The song is simply a thing of immense beauty.

Beyond the guitar and synth swells lies the story of a young woman who wants to recapture her youthful innocence. She longs to live life like a carefree 18-year old, who feels invulnerable, hopeful, and, most importantly, free.

“I’ve been trying to lose this
Trying to lose this loneliness
Like running through a crowd yelling so loud
No one can hear me anyway”

Caroline is going to be a star. Well, in our eyes, she already is one.

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