The Matinee ’21 v. 034 is filled with drama and intrigue, as the six featured songs tell brilliant stories or share moving messages. A handful of the tracks also set the standard for their respective genres, which includes the one that kicks of today’s music listening experience.

 

Joy Oladokun – “Jordan” (Nashville, USA)

RIYL: Tracy Chapman, Jensen McCrae, Haley Heynderickx

Joy Oladokun‘s rise as America’s next great singer-songwriter is a story made for the big screen. While growing up in Arizona, she was inspired at age 10 to pick up the guitar and write her own songs after see a Tracy Chapman video. This was her first time seeing a Black woman playing the instrument. More than a decade later, Oladokun’s name is being mentioned in the same breath as the legendary artist. For her recent television debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon she performed “breathe again” and showcased her talents. Her new single, “jordan”, further cements her status as a rising star.

Every part of this song is powerful. The arrangement merges folk, gospel, and soul elements to create a tranquil soundscape. Those spring-like textures are rejuvenating, but the real power lies in Oladokun’s lyrics. She sings about multiple experiences and emotions with grace and honesty. Pain and suffering are revealed first, so listeners should take a seat to fully hear her as she sings:

“They drowned me in the Jordan
When they tried to wash me clean
They got the stains out
But now it’s too damn hard to breathe
They told me he’s a good lord
As they tied shackles to my feet
They drowned me in the Jordan
And then they walked away from me”

But then she is reborn as she finds love and hope:

“I don’t feel
So young now
I gave the best years of my life a way
Tried to build an institution
Instead of trying to keep the faith
Here in the wild you
You loved me though I was not lovely or deserving
You kissed the curse from my lips
Taught them to rejoice again”

Simply, “jordan” is one of this year’s most outstanding songs.

The single is out on White Boy Records. Oladokun’s new album, in defense of my own happiness, vol. 2, is expected this summer.

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Caamp – “Square One” (Columbus, OH USA)

RIYL: Great Lake Swimmers, Twain, Adrianne Lenker

When the great Tom Petty passed away in 2018 his departure left a massive hole in the music world and in the hearts of music fans everywhere. Fortunately his legacy endures through the many songs he gave us and in the musicians he has influenced. One group he left an indelible mark on is Caamp, who also had humble beginnings before finding success with honest songs about the everyday person. Evan Westfall, Taylor Meier, and Matt Vinson honor the late, great legend with a stirring cover of “Square One.”

First released on 2006’s Highway Companion, the trio originally recorded the track for SiriusXM’s October 20, 2020 program to celebrate what would have been Tom Petty’s 70th birthday. The original possessed the classic Petty sound – a chiming guitar line that leads the way for Petty’s voice to bring light to listeners. CAAMP instead turns it into an intimate indie-folk ballad. The stripped-back approach further accentuates the struggles and turmoil faced by Petty’s protagonist who seeks redemption from and forgiveness for his sins:

“Had to find some higher ground
Had some fear to get around
You can’t say what you don’t know
Later on, won’t work no more

Last time through, I hid my tracks
So well I could not get back
Yeah, my way was hard to find
Can’t sell your soul for piece of mind”

The single is out on Mom + Pop Music.

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Junaco – “Blue Room” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Wilsen, Belle Mare, Flock of Dimes

The arrival of March brings a sense of renewal as temperatures slowly rise and days last a little longer. It is the month where life begins to be reborn. Granted, some places are still under the tight grip of Old Man Winter, but Los Angeles-based duo Junaco have just the tune to put everyone in a state of warmth and awe.

“Blue Room” is a slice of dream-pop perfection that dazzles the senses. The approach is simple but classic, immersing listeners with a massive wave of nostalgia. Stretch out your arms and let these jangly guitar notes, titillating rhythms, and Shahana Jaffer’s stirring vocals invigorate you. The experience gives listeners the extra slice of energy needed to get through these in-between days while we wait for a return to normalcy.

Jaffer reminds us that home is still the place where the heart is, where memories are made, and where we can still escape to when things get tough. While we may desire to be elsewhere, there is no greater sanctuary then the place we return to everyday. It’s a lovely thought.

Junaco are Shahana Jaffer and Joey LaRosa, and they have signed with micro-label Side Hustle Records.

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Millie Turner – “Concrete Tragedy” (London, England)

RIYL: Anna of the North, Pixey, Carly Rae Jepsen 

Three years ago the teenaged singer-songwriter Millie Turner knocked our socks off with “Shadow”. Since then we’ve watched the London-based artist grow into an electro-pop sensation. Her best days remain ahead of her, especially if she ever opts to sign with a label. In the meantime Turner has done pretty much everything on her own (with the support of her family and friends, of course), a testament to her multi-faceted talents. Adding one more feather in her cap is this uplifting anthem.

Limber up every movable body part and prepare to feel alive with “Concrete Tragedy”. With its stuttering beats, sparkling synths, and 2 a.m. electricity, Turner has crafted a song made for London’s finest clubs. Its radiant, upbeat theatrics invites the inner child in us all to dance and smile and feel free. Her lyrics are also empowering as she encourages us to live for today and embrace the places we call home. In this case, she delivers a love letter to her hometown of London:

“Well, I don’t mind dancing on my own
In the city the shadows keep me company
Filling me up with deep unknowns
Falling in love with the concrete tragedy”

Someone sign this gifted young artist!

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The Indigo Curve – “Unchained” (Detroit, USA)

RIYL: The Strokes, JET, The Arctic Monkeys, Guster

Are you old enough to remember hearing The Strokes, JET or The Arctic Monkeys for the first time? An infectious electricity filled the airwaves when these bands helped make rock ‘n roll feel fresh again. They gave the genre new life and in the process became some of the most influential bands of the past 25 years. So who could follow in their footsteps to become the standard for this generation? It’s a little early to anoint Detroit quintet The Indigo Curve as the torch bearers, but if their debut single is a sign of things to come then they will be worthy candidates.

With sprinkles of the aforementioned greats with plenty of Iceage’s brilliant songwriting, “Unchained” is how rock ‘n roll in the 21st century should sound. It is lively and energetic, with the perfect amount of mania to keep listeners enthralled. It is like a memorable ride that rises and falls and leaves your head spinning by the end. The song begins with dusty, desert-infused psych vibes then rips into a rocking banger before turning into a delirious wall of noise. The dual vocal approach also adds to the song’s appeal, giving it a Jekyll-and-Hyde vibe to mimic the confusion and fear that eats away at the song’s protagonist. Is he hero or villain? Is he sane or insane? In today’s world, can any of these things be differentiated?

We may as well anoint The Indigo Curve as a band to watch for the rest of the year. These five gents – Ish (vocals), Adam (guitar), Niko (bass), Markus (drums), and Mike (keys) – have the chance to be one of the most talked-about new bands of 2021.

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Twin Oaks – “I Was Never The Safe Bet” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Lanterns on the Lake, Daughter, Loma

Nearly four years ago a little band from Los Angeles dazzled us with “Collapse”. Since then Twin Oaks have been quietly releasing one arresting song after another. They also continue to evolve, going from an indietronica/trip-hop band to moving into areas of darkwave, art-rock, and alt-pop. Now with “I Was Never The Safe Bet” the trio reach a new level in their artistry.

Brittle, vulnerable, yet enrapturing, the song must be heard in a quiet place free of distraction. Only then can you become immersed in the deep, dark pulses of the solemn piano arrangement, the low hum of the guitar, and front-woman Lauren Brown’s crippling voice and soul-crushing words. Pain ripples through her every word as she recounts the gradual deterioration of a crumbling relationship:

“If I told you you hold it all in your chest
Would you let it out of sight, like all the rest?
Because the crime here is I know how to let it go
For my sake, it moves slower when you do not know”

The band’s stunning new EP, Lock & Key, is available from these links or directly from Bandcamp.

Twin Oaks includes Lauren Brown (vocals/guitar), Aaron Domingo (guitar/programming/keys), and Marilyn Beltran (drums).

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