The Matinee ’21 v. 071 is all about moving on and not turning back nor regretting what is or what was. These seven songs featured will leave you in awe, in a state of bliss, or even dancing to the beat of your own drum.
Wolf Alice – “No Hard Feelings” (London, England)
RIYL: Sunflower Bean, Middle Kids, Bleach Lab
Can anything or anyone stop Wolf Alice? The quartet are not just a runaway locomotive, but unlike a lot of bands their journey is not circuitous. Instead, the English indie giants’ route is unpredictable and often traversing unexpected paths. Take, for instance, the first two singles from their forthcoming LP, Blue Weekend. “The Last Man on Earth” was a piece of grand cinematic pop that belonged on the stages of the Sydney Opera House and the Royal Albert. Meanwhile, “Smile” was a gritty, roaring anthem reminiscent of Garbage. Trying to determine where the foursome will go next, as such, is a fruitless exercise. Instead, as passengers of this accelerating train, we should enjoy the ride and the places Wolf Alice take us. On “No Hard Feelings”, they send us to more tranquil waters where we can reminisce about what once was.
This latest number is Ellie Rowsell, Joff Oddie, Theo Ellis, and Joel Amey at their most endearing and intimate. While the song is minimalist – in a Wolf Alice sense – it is still lush and vivid, feeling like the moment the sun hits the horizon and light meets dark for the second time each day. The restrained approach allows Rowsell’s soft and immersive vocal to shine, and her tale is similarly about the end of one thing and the start of another. Specifically, she recounts two people who loved each other for a long time saying goodbye. There is neither anger nor regret, but just gratitude for the moments they did share. Roswell’s words are beautiful poetry:
“The threads that kept us together
Were already wеaring thin
Would we ever havе tied the knot
Well how long is a piece of string?
And for everything that ends
Something else must begin
No hard feelings, honey
And we both will take the win”
Blue Weekend is now out June 4th via Dirty Hit Records with pre-orders available here. Wolf Alice have announced tour dates for next year, along with details about their upcoming performance at Glastonbury next month.
The Glow – “Love Only” and “Heavy Glow” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: LVL UP, Mountain Goats, The Jesus and Mary Chain
One of the finest bands to come out of New York over the last decade was LVL UP. LVL UP was a sum of its parts. Its four members, Mike Caridi, Dave Benton, Nick Corbo, and Greg Rutkin contributed creatively, and the result was three fantastic record that felt like an encapsulation of the scene at the time. When they broke up in 2018, they each focused on other projects, Benton releasing music as Trace Mountains, Nick Corbo’s Spirit Was, and Mike Caridi’s work took shape as The Glow.
There’s a lot to love about The Glow’s sound. Their first record, Am I had a raw sound, lots of roaring guitar sprinkled in among a bit of a slacker-folk vibe. It was a sound that was distinctively Caridi’s. That sound is present, but built upon in important ways in their two latest singles, “Love Only” and “Heavy Glow”. Upbeat guitar chords greet listeners, as a jangly lead is played over it on “Love Only”. Caridi’s voice comes in barely more than a whisper, before the whole thing falls apart. With a roar, it all descends into chaos for a second before it all comes back together triumphantly.
“Heavy Glow” is fittingly, the heavier of the two tracks. Distortion and booming bass set the scene early on. Vocals from Kate Meizner (Potty Mouth) take the whole thing into a blissful dreampop zone. The track comes to a close with a huge guitar solo that absolutely rips. “Heavy Glow” is notable as a loud proclamation that The Glow is not just Caridi’s project. With vocals from Meizner, along with contributions from Nicola Leel (Doe), Madeline Babuka Black (Yucky Duster), and his long time collaborator Greg Rutkin, it shows that The Glow is a complete band, and one that’s a force to be reckoned with.
Pick up the split single on Bandcamp. The Glow are: Michael Caridi (guitar, piano/keys, additional percussion, vocals), Kate Meizner (guitar, vocals), Nicola Leel (bass, guitar, vocals), and Greg Rutkin (drums, guitar).
Okkervil River – “In A Light” (Austin, USA )
RIYL: Cass McCombs, Kevin Morby, Country Westerns
Three years ago, Will Sheff and his band Okkervil River released the moving In The Rainbow Rain. The band’s ninth album felt like a liberation if not a spiritual resurrection, as it was more introspective than previous records. It was like a heavy cloud had been lifted off Sheff’s mind and he was able to once again see the colors through the grey and black palettes. And this opening of the skies has carried over on the group’s unexpected latest release, “In A Light”.
The term epic is usually reserved for extended numbers that explode into raucous anthems or technicolor cinema. It, however, also applies to “In A Light” in that it elicits an array of emotional responses. Instead of fireworks exploding around us and through our ears, they occur within our hearts and souls thanks to the masterful orchestration of Sheff and his bandmates – Cully Symington, Will Graefe, Benjamin Lazar Davis, and Sarah Pedinotti. At first, the song commences as a subtly urgent piano-driven ballad, during which Sheff describes the decaying place we call home.
“Truth has failed, equity has fled
Curiosity is in a kind of freeze and wonder’s almost dead
Callous creeps pull you to the pit
Sanctity is sold, dignity for coal, it’s all gone to shit”
The juxtaposition between the soothing soundscape and the heavy lyrics brilliantly frame the battle between fact and fiction, reality and untruths in America. A grumbling guitar interrupts the mood, as if to tell us to wake up from our sedentary state. It guides us to a place of surprising radiance and lushness, as if Okkervil River have delivered us to utopia. For the next three minutes, the band unleash one of the most stunning and awe-inspiring jams of the decade. Here, as Sheff reminds us, is where “loving is all round you” and that even in these dark times light still finds its way into our lives.
The song is part of a split single release, which will be out this Friday, May 14th via ATO Records. Pre-order it on Bandcamp. Later this fall, Sheff will join the great Damien Jurado on a tour across the US. Dates and tickets are available here.
Xenia Rubinos – “Cógelo Suave” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Tune-Yards, Angelica Garcia, Helado Negro
There are few songwriters out there as creative as Xenia Rubinos. A lot of that comes from her willingness to take chances, whether it’s the playful recording of “Pan y Café” on Magic Trix, or the heartachingly haunting “Did My Best” from earlier this year, Rubinos always puts her entire heart into everything she does.
On her latest single, “Cógelo Suave”, Rubinos is at her absolute best. Described by herself as “a gibberish spaceship ride”, it breaks up the seriousness of “Did My Best”, and the slower paced and synth-heavy “Who Shot Ya?”. “Cógelo Suave” is mostly wordless, Rubinos’ vocals are playful, with some incredible harmonies throughout, plus some wild vocal effects make the whole thing such a joy to listen to. Add in the heavy drumbeats that accompany the track, the whole thing just packs a huge punch. It’s another testament to Rubinos’ creativity. The intentionally simple lyricism creates a canvas for her voice to become something much bigger than one could ever expect from just reading the lyrics on a lyric sheet.
The single it out on ANTI- Records.
Wallice – “Off the Rails” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Mallrat, King Princess, Sjowgren
If we had to select which artists are set up for a massive breakthrough in 2022 and will be a crowd favorite once all festivals are fully operating (knock on wood), Wallice would be at the top of our list. The 23-year old Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter’s take on alt-pop is infectiously creative while her songwriting is intelligent, relevant, and relatable no matter what your age may be. Yeah, she may be a Gen-Zer, but she crafts songs that speak to experiences most of us can empathize with. On the humorous yet intelligent “Hey Michael”, which she shared in April, she took on misogynists who viewed themselves as the only person that mattered in any relationship. With “Off the Rails“, she tells the story of millions of people with humor and poignancy.
The song’s bubbly, upbeat alt-pop approach is smile-inducing and highly addictive, and it’s meant to be played on every radio station and blasted in the hallways of schools across the globe. While the track may cause people to dance and frenetically move, Wallice’s tale concerns the lives of people who struggle to make ends meet. They, like her, are the one asking for a loan from a friend, even though the IOU may never be paid back. They’re the people who have a basic cellphone and rely on the radio for their entertainment. Despite it all, they still live their lives to the fullest and not let anything keep them down. They are survivors, optimists, and people whom we should adore and replicate.
“Take me downtown I don’t know where to go
I can’t find my phone so I’ll play the radio
My life’s a mess but I don’t give a shit
Never try my best I learn to live with it”
Next year, though, will be Wallice’s time, where a growing legion of fans will give a shit who she is. Forget 2022, this might happen as soon as June 4th when Wallice will independently release her debut EP.
Olivia Kaplan – “Still Strangers” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Tiny Ruins, Cassandra Jenkins, Adrianne Lenker
Olivia Kaplan is poised to be one of this year’s biggest breakout stars. Quite frankly, we’re amazed she hasn’t already. Between both tracks she’s shared this year, “Wrong”, and “Seen By You”, its easy to see why. Kaplan’s music recalls all of the things that make so many of today’s finest singer-songwriters so special, as well as a bit of late 1970’s charm.
Despite it being her simplest song she’s released ahead of her upcoming record, Tonight Turns To Nothing, “Still Strangers” may be Kaplan’s strongest statement yet. Just fingerpicked guitar and vocals make up the entire track. It puts Kaplan’s voice and songwriting front and center, and that’s exactly where she excels. Kaplan takes a unique perspective on a breakup. Kaplan takes the perspective of someone who refuses to commit to either a relationship or breakup. I won’t say much more because Kaplan’s storytelling is completely captivating, and the fingerpicked guitar creates such a perfect backdrop for Kaplan’s words to come alive.
Kaplan’s debut album, Tonight Turns to Nothing, is out June 25th via Topshelf Records. Pre-order it on Bandcamp. It features some really fantastic guests and musicians including Adam Gunther and Jorge Balbi (Sharon Van Etten), Alex Fischel (Spoon), Buck Meek (Big Thief) and others.
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