The Matinee ’21 v. 057 is all about finding strength within yourself and in others as well as understanding that collectively we can thrive. The six songs are musically different, but they feature some of the finest songwriting of the year.
Teenage Fanclub – “In Our Dreams” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: Teenage Fanclub
Scotland continues to make the world’s best music in 2021. This is no debatable statement but rather an indisputable fact. This year alone the wee island country has delivered stellar Album of the Year contenders from Mogwai and Arab Strap. Now their indie rock countrymen Teenage Fanclub are poised to join that list when their Endless Arcade LP arrives at month’s end. The album’s newest single takes listeners deep into a wistful fever dream worth savoring.
The woozy textures of “In Our Dreams” match these modern times. We are all navigating the new normal, having emerged from a year of uncertainty and isolation. Teenage Fanclub capture those feelings with laser-sharp focus:
“When your life is grey and lonely
The world goes ‘round…
In our dreams, we dream about our lives
And what we’re going through
What we did and we didn’t do
A memory isn’t always true
just don’t know what it’s coming to
We lived the dream but we never knew”
Lucy Dacus – “Hot & Heavy” (Richmond, USA)
RIYL: Phoebe Bridgers, Haley Heynderickx
Few singer/songwriters of the past decade are at the level of Lucy Dacus. Even when performing with the equally talented Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers, Dacus’s way with words stands out. From her first record’s wit to the breakout break-up anthem “Night Shift” on her second album, to her most recent single, “Thumbs”, there’s no denying that Dacus is one of this generation’s best.
“Hot & Heavy” is Dacus at her peak, painting vivid pictures with each word and capturing emotion no matter how complex. It’s a song about change: realizing the changes in others and within one’s self. Combine that with the excellent drumming, lush harmonies and Springsteen-esque guitar and piano, “Hot & Heavy” is a true heavy hitter.
It makes sense that the new LP is titled Home Video. In the first two tracks, Dacus recalls moments and memories from the past. It seems this record will feel as much like a collection of old VHS tapes as a rock album.
Maple Glider – “Swimming” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Fenne Lily, Billie Marten, Babehoven
Melbourne artist Maple Glider has made a huge impact with just three singles. Her breathtaking debut “As Tradition” was a brilliant introduction to Tori Zietsch’s songwriting. “Good Thing” is an immediate contender for song of the year. Her newest single is yet another stunning piece.
“Swimming” strikes right at the core. With just Zietsch’s voice over delicately played drums and guitar, its opening moments are incredible. As the song builds, more depth is added, from harmonies and reverb, to bass and keys. Things get surreal as vocals overlap, creating a huge moment before one last verse. It captures that feeling of a relationship heading towards an end, the thoughts of trying to figure out why, and ultimately coming to terms with it all:
“Watching the surfers on the Birling Gap
A few times I nearly packed up my bag
You said ‘baby please don’t leave
There is so much we’ve left to see
Stay with me’”
Stray Fossa – “Hypocritic” (Charlottesville, VA USA)
RIYL: DIIV, Oshin, Beach Fossils
To say the past 14 months have been odd is an understatement. Trying to determine what is considered “normal” is hard to describe since our behaviors, habits, routines, and thought process have changed. One day (hopefully soon), we’ll be immersed in swarms of people, interacting with people again, and wearing pants to meetings. When this happens some may feel uneasy and prone to panic. To help us take a breath and calm down are American band Stray Fossa and their “Hypocritic” single.
Beachy vibes abound on this slightly trippy piece of sun-kissed, psychedelic pop. It feels like a song made for carving up waves or driving along the coast on a summer day. It is liberation and excitement rolled up in a tight 214 seconds. Listen closely to the song, though, as the trio deliver a timely message. It is the recognition that not all is right despite the warming days and increasing sunshine. Stray Fossa encourage us to get “out of the head space that you made yourself”. More striking, though, is when they sing:
“Put down the guns
Come take a walk
Why don’t you try
To get along?
It’s not that hard
It never was
To be a part
To be someone”
It’s a reality of our world, but if we take a moment to breathe and realize we’re in this together, the faster we can recover.
The band’s new album, With You For Ever, is out now. Get it on Bandcamp.
Mali – “Cabaret” (Mumbai via Chennai, India)
RIYL: CHVRCHES, Cults, Cannons
Bollywood overtook Hollywood as the global center for film-making, as the Mumbai-based industry produces twice the number of films than its American cousin. Could the Maharashtra capital city also become a mecca of contemporary indie music? A young artist from the mega-metropolis will soon have people taking notice. Bollywood fans may already be familiar with Maalavika Manoj, who has been featured on a few soundtracks, singing mostly in Tamil though she also speaks many other languages.
As a solo artist under the moniker Mali, her songs are sung mostly in English to appeal to a wider audience. Her decision also reflects her upbringing and influences, namely Ella Fitzgerald, Norah Jones, The Corrs, Alanis Morissette, and others. But when hearing “Cabaret”, names like CHVRCHES and Purity Ring also come to mind.
Prepare to dance under the glittering radiance of this sublime synth-pop. With its dreamy tones, the track echoes the dramatic nature of the ’80s. Listeners may become lost in Manoj’s voice and story, listening and watching intently like at an actual cabaret. The stage, however, is not at the theater but our daily lives. She recounts the lessons she has learned in her nearly 28 years of life and how she is “done serenading / Masquerading for you.” She no longer needs to hide behind makeup and costumes and to play by other people’s rules. Instead, she will do what she wants to do, directing her own path from now on.
Manoj’s new album, Caution to the Wind, is out now and streaming everywhere. Alternatively, head to Bandcamp to purchase it.
IDER – “Cross Yourself” (London, England)
RIYL: Sigrid, Litany, Overcoats
IDER’s debut LP, Emotional Education, was a compelling introduction to the duo of Megan Markwick and Lily Somerville. Lush, beautiful synth soundscapes, intertwined with infectious percussion and an undeniable wit defined the album. This week IDER announced their second LP, Shame, and accompanied that announcement with “Cross Yourself”.
“Cross Yourself” has all the dynamic ingredients that made their first record so notable. Deep, infectious bass, synths and drums, inviting vocals, and an undeniable catchiness makes “Cross Yourself” an addicting listen. The song also features more of their lyrical mastery on topics like the loss of faith and the futile search for something to replace it. Referencing Kanye and Instagram as alternatives, it’s hard not to relate and also chuckle:
“Small gold Jesus around my neck
I’ve got to believe that she could love me, yet
Life’s so difficult, we sound so typical
Pretending to be cynical, gimme something spiritual
We need something physical, but faith is still invisible
Can’t find it on Instagram and I’m still fucking miserable”
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