The five songs on the The Matinee ’21 v. 063 confront our worst fears with elegant force, ferocity, imagination, and humor. In their own way, they will ignite a spark in all of us to stand up for ourselves and for justice.

 

Issy Wood – “Muscle” (London, England)

RIYL: deryk, Sheena Easton, The Knife

Already a successful painter, Issy Wood is about to become an indie superstar. The twenty-something London-based artist tackles music like she does painting – with a blank canvas to allow her imagination and ingenuity to shine. Forget standard pop or rock arrangements, throw away the post-punk playbook, and even set aside what you thought you knew about art-rock and alt-pop because Wood is redefining what music is. She already did this with the multi-genre and ingenious “Cry/Fun”. She further showcases her aural brilliance with “Muscle”.

The best way to describe this multi-faceted artwork is that if a fashion show was happening right now this song should be performed. It struts with the confidence and sassiness of the late Prince, as pop, R&B, synth-pop, and alt-pop collide to create a jittery yet infectious number. Through the pulses of the 808s, the light plucks of the bass and shallow guitar, Wood sings, with an alluring texture to her voice, about needing to assert herself in the face of her tormentor. Her songwriting is sharp and poignant, as she describes her entrapment.

“Stuck in my throat
And as I choke
You’re laughing your head off at me
(I just wish you’d give it up)
Whenever you go
I corrode and
All my muscles go to sleep
(I just want to toughen up)
When all the trust
I’ve built up
Comes back to bite me in my sleep”

Simply brilliant.

Wood’s new EP, If It’s Any Constellation, is due May 28th via Mark Ronson’s Zelig Records, an imprint of Columbia Records.

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Mannequin Pussy – “Perfect” (Philadelphia, USA)

RIYL: Bratmobile, Bikini Kill, Pussy Riot

Last month, the great Mannequin Pussy released a malaise-busting, explosive single in “Control”, which is the lead single from their forthcoming new EP, Perfect. The song, though, was pretty reserved by Missy Dabice (vocals, guitar), Colins “Bear” Regisford (bass), and Kaleen Reading’s (drums) standards. Probably realizing this, the second single for the mini-record is just a wee bit louder and harder. Actually, it’s way more than “wee”.

“Perfect” is Mannequin Pussy combusted. It is a compact ball of unrelenting punk rock, full of screeching guitar, hammering rhythms, and Dabice’s fierce vocal. The song is meant to shake every single wall and incite a riot – the type of social movement meant to shatter the glass ceiling and tear down the misogyny that still permeates in every crevice of our society. Through her piercing voice, Dabice takes on the oglers, droolers, and perverts who see her and other women as merely sexual objects. She directly confronts them and hollers at them to:

“Look at my body
Tell me it’s it
Tell me I’m royal
Tell me I’m rich
Kiss all my holes
Call me a bitch
Tell me I’m perfect
Tell me I’m it”

This is basically Dabice’s polite way to say “fuck off” to all such men. All we have to say is preach on Dabice because you, Regisford, and Reading are perfect in our minds.

The band’s new EP drops out May 21st via Epitaph Records. Pre-order it here or on Bandcamp.

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Vilde – “Holograms” (Stockholm, Sweden via Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: Westerman, Sleep Party People, Porches

We have long stated that Thomas Savage and his project Vilde is one of the most underrated artists in all of music. Despite creating music that blurs the lines between Tame Impala, Thom Yorke, Atoms for Peace, and Sleep Party People, he continues to soar below the radar. And yet, the Australian continues to craft new music every year, averaging at least one album or EP every 365 days. It’s obvious that Savage isn’t in this to be popular. Instead, like a painter, he does it because he loves sharing his thoughts and imaginations with the world. This is what makes his art so intriguing – it’s not limited to a specific approach nor seeking commercial success. He instead chooses to provoke, which he does once again with “Holograms”.

A gentle, breezy, ’80s soft-rock vibe permeates through the track, creating the feeling that a lovely spring day is upon us. This is music made for daydreaming, where we can imagine we’re somewhere or with someone else. Savage’s trademark falsetto only adds to the song’s fantasy orientation, and his lyrics, too, mimic this sensation of escapism. Actually, his lyrics are equivalent to an Edgar Allan Poe poem, where the words depict a dark and foreboding reality. This place is one we wish to leave, but we can only do so temporarily living vicariously through others or through our imaginations.

“Do you wanna dance through a fading memory?
Breaking up the mould and looming over your head,
until you fear instead
Knock it on the head, or cop it instead
Slip into a parallel, present only by proxy
Holograms”

Savage’s new EP, Talking To Strangers, is coming later this year. If you can, support this talented individual by picking up his music on Bandcamp.

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Jordana – “Push Me Away” (feat. Magdalena Bay) (New York City via Wichita, USA)

RIYL: Japanese Breakfast, Slow Pulp, Slowdive

Both of Jordana Nye’s releases as Jordana show completely different sides of the New York-via-Wichita singer-songwriter. Her debut LP, Classical Notions of Happiness, features a very raw, emotional side. Songs on that record seem to vary in states of completeness – from some that resemble bedroom demos to some stunningly gorgeous production. That was followed up with Something to Say to You, which accompanied a much bigger and electronic sound from Jordana.

On her latest single, “Push Me Away”, Jordana dives even more into the electric and dense sound on her second record. Driven by its rhythm section, Jordana’s vocals soar above the track in a dream-like manner. Its dreamy qualities made even more so by its hypnotic refrains. Jordana is joined by Mica Tenenbaum of Philly synth-pop duo Magdalena Bay, who help push the track into new territory. As the song closes, both voices elevate each other into a huge ending.

The single is out on Grand Jury Music.

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Cheekface – “We Need a Bigger Dumpster” (Los Angeles)

RIYL: Pavement, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, “Weird Al” Yankovich

Rewind the clocks twenty years, and Pavement would have a rival on the college-rock scene in Cheekface. Like the iconic, Stephen Malkmus-fronted indie-rock outfit, Greg Katz, Amanda Tannen, and Mark Edwards blend nonchalant, sun-kissed melodies with humorous yet insightful lyrics. They’re like the little sibling that points out the obvious, yet it’s a revelation to everyone else. Once again, they make us realize that the world is even worse than it is on “We Need a Bigger Dumpster”.

The last 15 months have been one massive dumpster fire, so may as well make a song about it. This song, however, isn’t solely focused on the pandemic. Oh, there is definitely a reference to it, although like the conspiracy theorists Katz thinks he has something less severe until his illness spreads.

“I caught a cold
I coughed on all my friends
Now everyone is coughing on everybody else
And we’re coughing on our doctors and our doctors cough out”

COVID, though, is just the tip of the iceberg. From “sunscreen (that) causes sunburns” to music (that) causes hearing loss” to “bottled water makes you thirsty”, life is filled with things that will harm if not kill us. To get through the days, though, we have to keep telling ourselves that “Everything is fine!”, as the trio shout out. We just have to accept our fate that we are doomed, but we can laugh all the way to the grave with Cheekface.

The single is out on the self-proclaimed world’s greatest record company on the planet, New Professor Music (of course they say this is gist).

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