The Matinee ’21 v. 022 is a brilliant hodgepodge of new music, featuring some old favorites and plenty of newcomers that will have you excited about music’s future. We commence, however, with one of the great dream-pop couples of all-time.
Mint Julep – “A Rising Sun” (Portland, OR USA)
RIYL: Slowdive, Still Corners, Chromatics
Indie dream-pop duo Mint Julep create more than just music: they conjure entire ranges of emotion through their lush, gauzy textures and mesmerizing melodies. Next month the Oregon-based duo of Hollie and Keith Kenniff will release their new album, In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep, with this stunning track at the opener.
“A Rising Sun” sets an ethereal tone straightaway with its extended intro. The reverb-heavy loop beckons listeners for nearly a full minute before Hollie’s vocals begin. And what a breathtaking rush that is. The slow, rising pattern becomes an irresistible siren’s call straight from Greek mythology. Equal parts Slowdive and Alvvays, this is dream-gaze pop perfection. It follows “Black Maps” which we shared last month, another track which will easily secure this group’s placement on our Favorite Albums of 2021 list come December.
Dry Cleaning – “Strong Feelings” (London, England)
RIYL: Ganser, Shopping, OMNI
Just as we had expected (or more accurately hoped) after London post-punk outfit Dry Cleaning signed with 4AD late last year, their debut album is coming! New Long Leg will be released April 2nd, and the quartet have already shared “Scratchcard Lanyard” from it. To further get all the fans (old and new) and us excited, Nick Buxton (drums), Tom Dowse (guitar), Lewis Maynard (bass), and Florence Shaw (vocals) share a song that can only be described as awesome.
“Strong Feelings” is an unexpected ear-worm that will stick in your head for days. It’s not just the quartet’s trademark puttering yet chiming post-punk approach nor the smoky, spoken-word vocals of Shaw, but also her surreal “love story”. As Maynard’s bass quietly revs in the background as Buxton’s teeter-tottering percussion roams in the foreground, Shaw describes trying to keep a long-distance relationship in a Brexit-intoxicated England and Europe. Her words, though, sound more like a hallucination, but then again these days are pretty whacked and dating isn’t what it used to be. Take what Shaw might be like as your date for the night:
“I just want to tell you I’ve got scabs on my head
It’s useless to live
I’ve been thinking about eating that hot dog for hours”
Jet City Sports Club – “Spinning Me Out” (Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: Mazzy Star, The Sundays, Phantastic Ferniture
Remember people were saying that guitar-driven music was dying if not already dead? We sure do. Whoever thought that never lived during the ’70s, ’80s, or ’90s when the guitar was the king and queen of music (and even in the decades before the ones listed). And fortunately for us, a wave of young bands are making indie rock, guitar-pop, shoegaze, post-punk, and alternative cool again. They are making us believe that the future of music is in good hands, and one of them is Jet City Sports Club.
This “new-ish” band from Sydney, who have only been around for about a year, were at best in diapers (and mostly likely not even conceived) when Mazzy Star, The Sundays, and The Cranberries ruled the airwaves. And yet, they are creating shimmering guitar-pop that makes us smile widely and think about more innocent times, as they do with “Spinning Me Out”. With a blissful yet jangly approach, the track is made for gently dancing in a wide-open space where you can feel free. Or if you can, take a drive by the seaside and let the cool air blow through your hair. That’s the feeling this refreshingly nostalgic track evokes. Front-woman Lilla Obradovic’s lyrics, though, are the opposite of blissful. She recounts how she and another have become estranged. The lingering effects of their breakout is best articulated when she sings, “I’m gonna crash through the stars to find it, even if it breaks my mind”.
That last line describes the song’s effect on us.
Jet City Sports Club are: Lilla Obradovic, Jack O’Connor, Sebastian de Haas, and Dominic Maher.
Hiatus – “Your Place Is Empty” (feat. Malahat Haddad) (London, England via Tehran & Rasht, Iran)
RIYL: Morcheeba, Tycho, Bonobo
There are songs that make you want to strap in and feel like you’re being taken on a wild adventure through the farthest edges of the galaxy. Then there are songs that take you on the most stunning and glorious adventure in your mind, where your body goes limp, your mind grows calm, and your eyes get heavy as the tranquility rushes over you. So with this in mind, find yourself a comfortable place to sit or even lie down, and then completely immerse yourself inside “Your Place Is Empty”, the new collaboration between Iranian-born artists Hiatus (producer / DJ) and Malahat Haddad (vocals).
Simply, this song is extravagantly beautiful. Every single element is stunning. Hiatus’, whose real name is Cyrus Shahrad, production work is restrained and delicate, giving the song its serene, oasis-like intoxication, and one’s mind might start seeing images that don’t truly exist. While Malahat sings in Persian, one does not need to understand that her words are steeped in memory and of a bygone time that was once full of beauty and wonder. Of a place that we once knew but can no longer grasp. At least not in this reality, but for a wee little moment the two allow us to return to that time. To return to a moment where we were indeed free.
The single is from Hiatus’ forthcoming LP, Distancer. The record features three songs with Malahat Haddad.
Cassandra Jenkins – “Crosshairs” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Jenny Lewis, The National, The Weather Station
On the first two singles from her upcoming record, An Overview on Phenomenal Nature really set the tone for what may end up being one of the best records of 2021. The impactful slow-build of “Michelangelo”, followed up by the utterly captivating spoken word-heavy “Hard Drive” were enough to leave quite a mark. Jenkins just released the third single from the LP, “Crosshairs”.
A lot of what made the first two singles such attention-grabbers is present on “Crosshairs”. Its pristine production makes it so easy to get lost in the song. Jenkins’ voice rarely gets to levels more than a whisper, a perfect pairing with the piano, strings, and woodwind heavy instrumentation. At times Jenkins’ voice gets lost in the sound, but the result is absolutely dreamy. There’s also a perfectly executed layer of guitar throughout that ties it all together quite nicely. Jenkins said she wrote the song before the pandemic, but now realizes its power, and a new need for human connection.
Tearjerker – “Lost” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Yo La Tengo, Teenage Fanclub, Neutral Milk Hotel
In the very first The Matinee, which was shared on July 14th, 2015, we offered six songs. Sounds familiar, eh? So in 5 1/2 years since, our approach has changed a whole lot. This includes the bands and artists, as that inaugural post featured a little band from Toronto called Tearjerker. Talk about coming full circle! Of course, we have not shared any music from Micah Bonte, Trevor Hawkins, and Taylor Shute since that day. Oops (sorry guys!). Maybe today is the start of a new (or renewed relationship) because this little band is making indie-pop that is not only catchy but meaningful, as demonstrated on “Lost”.
The song will induce involuntary handclapping with the percussion tapping a steady rhythm and the guitar strumming a few catchy chords. Slicing through the sun-kissed vibes is a bass line that would make Peter Hook immensely proud. But as you bring your hands together, sway your head from side to side, and smile from ear-to-ear, the trio’s lyrics are introspective and even slightly downtrodden. They are, well, lost. They are, like many of us, trying to figure out their purpose on Earth.
“One thing at a time
Doing so much you’re gonna lose your mind
Well I guess I never tried
Coming untied and I never replied
Somewhere down the line
Karma comes around
And I get what’s mine
Well it’s been one hell of a ride
Wanna go to heaven but I can’t decide”
Hopefully Tearjerker are not going anywhere soon because they have much more to share. We get to hear more on March 19th, which is when their new EP, Deep End, is released. Get it on Bandcamp.
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