Moving gradually from the dark and foreboding to the glimmering and uplifting, The Matinee ’21 v. 056 offers songs that delve deep into one’s psyche, challenge us to think beyond our self-interests, and find hope even in the darkest of days. We kick this off with one of the great bands of the past decade. After finishing hearing these songs, check out The Songs of April playlist on SoundCloud and Spotify.
Desperate Journalist – “Fault” (London, England)
RIYL: Blondie, Savages, ‘Boy’- and ‘War’-era U2
Excuse us for a moment as we collectively holler, “YYYEEESSS!!!” That was our reaction after finding out one of the UK’s most outstanding post-punk bands not only released an awesome new single but also will be sharing a new album in a few months. Of course, we’re about 11 days late sharing “Fault” from Desperate Journalist, but better late than never, right? Plus, our tardiness allowed us to share the news that Jo Bevan (vocals), Rob Hardy (guitar), Simon Drowner (bass) and Caroline Helbert’s (drums) third album, Maximum Sorrow!, will be unveiled July 2nd via Fierce Panda Records. The LP follows the scorching intensity of the brilliant debut, Grow Up, and 2019’s In Search of the Miraculous, which likely would have made our Favorite Albums List if we weren’t on hiatus that year. To remind everyone how great they are, the quartet share “Fault”.
Be prepared to completely immerse yourself in Desperate Journalist’s catharsis, where bodies and minds become suspended within the dark, probing pulses of the harrowing bass line, the throbbing drumming, and the constantly searching synths and glimmering, delayed guitar line. The track echoes of U2 in their early post-punk days, as heard on under-the-radar classics “Seconds”, “The Refugee”, and “Twilight”. However, there is an unmistakable Desperate Journalist slant featured in the song’s bleak dissonance and Bevan’s stunningly sinister vocal. She sings about the gradual disconnection of people and the overwhelming feeling of isolation, as one’s inner circle grows smaller by the day. When this happens, maybe, as Bevan subtly tells us, we need to look in the mirror.
“And those teenage hangouts are to beat
When your closet is piled up with defeat, defeat, defeat, defeat!
It’s no one’s fault
Then it’s everyone’s fault”
Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys – “A Stranger’s Chest” (Berlin, Germany via Johannesburg & Cape Town, South Africa)
RIYL: Chelsea Wolfe, A.A. Williams, Emma Ruth Rundle, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
More than a month ago, a young artist and her band left a permanent scar on our memory when they released the hypnotic and foreboding “Evening Train”. The song was our first introduction to Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys and their penchant to turn minimalist, Gothic folk-rock into an extravagant, artistic statement. The band’s second single from their upcoming new album, Transit Tapes (for women who move furniture around), is yet another mesmerizing display of enrapturing patience.
Whereas “Evening Train” was a deep exploration of the loneliness that accompanies a crowded streetcar, “A Stranger’s Chest” is the poignant introspection of a woman seeking to be heard and seen. The trembling, stark soundscape recalls Chelsea Wolfe at her quietest and Nick Cave in meditative contemplation, while Kruger’s lush, unhurried voice echoes Elena Tonra’s soft but powerful delivery. Despite its melancholic pace, every note leaves one of the edge of her seat. Our attention is steered towards Kruger’s voice, which is that of a woman on the edge of breaking. She’s on the edge of the cliff that descends into the inescapable sea.
“See I’ve been figuring out
How much I’ve come to turn things down
For fear of spilling out
For fear of speaking much too loud
Now my voice has fallen out
Can you teach me how to shout”
Transit Tapes (for women who move furniture around) is due June 2nd via German micro-label Unique Records and Polish label Schubert Music Europe. Pre-order it on Bandcamp. The LP could very well be one of the year’s biggest surprises and most memorable.
Anthonie Tonnon – “Entertainment” (Whanganui via Auckland, New Zealand)
RIYL: Beirut, M. Ward, The Phoenix Foundation
For nearly a decade, Anthonie Tonnon has established himself as one of Aotearoa’s great songwriters and storytellers. He may not be a household name overseas, but in New Zealand he’s a treasure. Just ask the great Nadia Reid, who recently signed him to her Slow Time Records label. It’s an ideal fit given the two craft songs that should be sold on paperback and have toured together. The only thing left for them is to release a collaborative record, but before that happens Tonnon’s third record, Leave Love Out Of This, will be released July 16th (Misra Records will also distribute it). As a hint as to what it contains and why Tonnon is a talent to celebrate, he shares the sparkling “Entertainment”.
Vintage ’80s synth pop-rock and contemporary jangle-pop collide on this brilliant number. Musically, it is the brilliant convergence of synthesized manipulation and classic rock modis operandi, resulting in the song progressing from a great, jangly jam to a surreal, dreamy ending. This wonderland of a track, though, is the story of two different people. One is Julie, who tirelessly worked behind the scenes in the male-dominated entertainment industry. She was full of ideas, which men stole and passed it on as their own. She was the one who made people’s dreams come true, including the song’s narrator. He always hoped to be seen on every TV screen, and his fledgling career was resuscitated by the one and only Julie. It’s a brilliant story full of lessons and observations of our society and who we are.
“Julie you saved me
When you put me on the screen
I had become a great sportsman
Stranded on fledgling teams
You were the one to convince me
To take the money
Sell any dream
That could be used against me
So I didn’t wait for the injuries to take me, well”
Pre-order Leave love Out Of This now on Bandcamp.
Fleur bleu.e – “STOLT 89” (Paris, France)
RIYL: Men I Trust, Tennis, Bernache
The past year has been a time of reckoning. The majority of eyes and ears have been directed at watching global COVID numbers or following social and racial injustices across the globe. These past fifteen months, however, have also seen young people raise their voices to demand their governments do more to combat climate change. Their future and those of generations to come are dependent on action today. Politicians, however, seem more concerned about economic growth than saving the planet. Young people, though, won’t back down, using every platform at their disposal to be heard. This includes music, which is how Paris-based newcomers Fleur bleu.e choose to be heard. But instead of trying to blow listeners away with an aggressive approach, the duo choose to convince people through a calm and enchanting approach, as heard on “STOLT 89”.
The song is a light dazzler that is reminiscent of the technicolor psychedelic dream-pop of the ’70s. The combination of light, jangly guitar lines performed by Vladimir, titillating rhythms, and Delphine’s alluring voice is wonderfully retro and classic, helping to rekindle memories of days when people could lead carefree lives. But like so much of the music spun 45 to 50 years ago, the song’s true impact lies in the lyrics.
Delphine’s vocal may be light, airy, and intoxicating, but her words have bite. One doesn’t need to understand French to know she is describing the many ways in which humanity has put its self-interests first at the expense of Mother Nature. Whether it’s turning profits or getting turned on, as long as one can be happy what happens to the planet is secondary. That is until everything we know vanishes, and by then it will be too late to do anything. Maybe we should be paying attention to young people, including Fleur bleue.e, from now on.
Lost Near Blue Ape – “Operator” (London, England)
RIYL: Arctic Monkeys, Royal Blood, Sundara Karma
“You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes,” Morpheus tells an innocent Thomas Anderson (a.k.a. Neo) in The Matrix. It’s an iconic scene that made audiences contemplate what is real and fiction. More than 20 years later, we lived this war between truth and disinformation, and we still do. Now whether rising London indie rockers, Lost Near Blue Ape, had this film in mind when they wrote “Operator” is unknown, but this awesome rocker shares plenty of similarities.
Like early Arctic Monkeys mixed with the explosive garage-rock of Royal Blood, the quartet of Ted Prendergast, Robert Wells, Danny Stuck and Akin Sivatheeswaran unleash a firecracker of a single. It commences with a powerful uppercut to the jaw before settling into a cool groove, like a champion boxer delivering body blows to soften up his opponent. Then the band save their best combinations for the end, as the song roars to deliver its knockout blow. In the space of 203 seconds, Prendergast describes his isolation and growing anxiety, which are the opponents battling him inside the arena that is his mind. He cannot find a way out until he picks up the phone and calls the operator for help, much like when Neo, Trinty, Morpheus, etc. need to escape they call Tank to get out.
“I’m in love with the operator / I want them to save my soul / They’re in charge of the elevator / But I’m also in their control,” Prendergast describes how he is constantly trying to call for help. He, however, cannot share his thoughts and feelings even when they specifically ask him about his day. He is trapped inside the matrix of his own mind, and no pill will save him. Only he can save himself.
Vacation Forever – “You Gotta Hustle” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Peter Bjorn & John, Teenage Fanclub, MGMT
A month ago, we were first introduced to Zacharias Zachrisson’s project, Vacation Forever, when he released “Pop Up In My Head”, which was a dreamgaze delight. It was the sound of summer, and the perfect escape to the March storms. Now that the weather is warming up and we’re all antsy for our 14-month isolation to end, Zachrisson keeps our spirits up with a sublime piece of uplifting indie-pop in “You Gotta Hustle”.
The song personifies Scandi pop with its warm and delightful melody, exuding optimism and positivity. Smiles will form on all the faces of those who listen to the track, and heads may even sway back and forth within the breezy tones. Despite the joy the music exudes, Zachrisson reveals that he, too, is struggling to get through another day of solitude, and his situation is further magnified by his struggles to make ends meet.
“I would like to
Figure out a way to get money to get paid
I need another day, Baby, I don’t feel ok”
So if you’re down in the dumps, there is someone on the other side of the world struggling as well. He, however, still finds optimism in his despair, as he says to himself:
“You gotta hustle
It ain’t easy
But I try my best
Step by step
And day by day
Learn to take it easy, man
The shit takes time”
Zachrisson debut album, Real Life Sux, is out later this year via Kravenworks.
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