The Matinee ’21 v. 079 is full of introspection and contemplation, as each of the nine songs examines the people, moments, and emotions that define us.
Maple Glider – “Baby Tiger” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Babehoven, Fenne Lily, Grace Gillespie
Maple Glider continues to impress with each single they release. The project of Tori Zietsch, Maple Glider only has a handful of tracks to its name, but its impact with each has been immeasurable. “As Tradition” showcased Zietsch’s brilliant ability to craft a song. “Swimming” and “Good Thing” were absolute stunners that cut deep right to the core.
On their latest single, “Baby Tiger”, Maple Glider once again creates a stunning, emotional gut punch of a track, but with a little bit of hope in an unlikely place. “Baby Tiger” is just vocals and guitar. There is some vocal accompaniment that creates a lush layer within the song. Where it truly shines, however, is how Zietsch connects the sound of her roommate’s cat clawing at the door into something that gives her perspective on her life. She realizes the comfort of the familiar sound, and how that is more comforting than being distracted by some sort of romance. How the cat’s unconditional caring nature is the perfect support to build upon.
Half Waif – “Sodium & Cigarettes” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Weyes Blood, Flock of Dimes, Gordi
Benjamin Franklin once said that death and taxes were the only two certainties in life. If he was alive today, another guarantee he would likely add is that Nandi Rose Plunkett’s music is always memorable. As Half Waif, Plunkett has constantly swept us off of our feet and taken us to places that exist only in the fantasies of our minds or the books we read. Her music is unquestionably theatrical and cinematic, but also incredibly intimate, relatable, and real. For instance, the first two singles from her forthcoming album, Mythopoetics, “Take Away the Ache” and “Swimmer”, were enchanting and alluring. They possessed a sense of mystery that intoxicated our minds for days. The LP’s third release is equally if not more dazzling.
“Sodium & Cigarettes” is a stunner. An ethereal urgency burns throughout its three-plus minute duration. With mostly just a piano and her gorgeous, layered voice, Plunkett lulls us into a state of breathtaking slumber. In this state of mind, we become one with the lovely arrangement and Plunkett’s story of loneliness, heartbreak, and despair. She tells this tale, however, in only the way she can – through beautiful poetry.
“Was holding my breath every hour of the day
Wishing you would call up
Knowing what you’d say
But I believe in something more
OK, give it another day.
I’ll see you in the morning.
It’s too late now to start taking it back,
So I better be looking forward.”
Mythopoetics is shaping up to be an outstanding record.
Lightning Bug – “Song of the Bell” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Lightning Dust, Azure Ray, Tashaki Miyaki
We’ve described Lightning Bug as one of New York’s best kept secrets when they released, “The Right Thing Is Hard To Do”. But it’s hard to stay a secret in New York, and it’s just a matter of time before the quintet gains attention for their brilliant music with the release of their third record, A Color of the Sky, just around the corner.
Their latest single, “Song of the Bell”, hits that shoegaze-influenced sweet spot that makes their music so special. Its early moments are strange, a wall of sound overwhelms the listener before being overtaken once again by a faint hit of drums that becomes something much, much bigger. Synth strings shift from a strange drone into something beautiful. A wonderful guitar hook drives the track forward under Audrey Kang’s dreamy vocals. The song builds into a moment with as much density as its opening, but this wall of sound is nothing short of stunning.
“Song of the Bell” was written during quarantine, as the last song for the upcoming record. Kang describes it as “about hope, but it’s also about understanding that uncertainty is an inextricable part of being alive.” It absolutely has that hopeful feeling, but dives into those moments of uncertainty. Its final moments pay it all off, sounding almost triumphant as Kang repeats:
“Will the truth echo through me?
Will I hear it?”
Lightning Bug are: Audrey Kang, Kevin Copeland, Logan Miley, Dane Hagen and Vincent Puleo.
Doom Bloom – “I Will” (San Diego, USA)
RIYL: Catherine Wheel, The Cure, Ride
The ‘80s and ‘90s were filled with some of the great rock anthems in music history. From Prince’s “Purple Rain”, to The Cure’s “Pictures of You”, to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” and Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away”, there was a song for every occasion. If John Cooper and Chris Garcia were crafting music back then, they likely would have found themselves on a major motion picture soundtrack, on the cover of Rolling Stone, and definitely on the weekly top-40 charter. As Doom Bloom, the San Diego-based duo make surging, cinematic music. Their sound doesn’t nicely fit within one genre, but instead they combine a few to create songs that make you go “Whoa!” That’s the reaction we had upon hearing, “I Will”.
The single is pure euphoria. It masterfully combines the glistening shoegaze of Ride and Slowdive, the epic Gothic post-rock of The Cure, and the anthemic qualities of Catherine Wheel into one cathartic number. The guitars are like fireworks while the pummeling drums are akin to the explosion we hear after seeing the sky illuminate with magnificent color. These four-and-a-half minutes are memorable, and for a brief moment we reflect on how fortunate our lives are.
The duo similarly sing about their fading dreams and what they’ve learned. “Maybe if I simply whisper, I will learn to hear again”, they say to themselves. That maybe if the wish for things to change, they will. The pair, though, don’t need to luck to be successful, as they have talent in spades to be one of the year’s unexpected surprises.
Toby Whyle – “How It Feels” (Vienna, Austria)
RIYL: Foals, Kasabian, Glasvegas
When it comes to music, most people associate Austria as the home of some of history’s great composers (Mozart, Schubert, Haydn) and outstanding opera (a visit to Vienna’s Opera House is a must for any music fan). It also has a pretty great, underground electronic scene. Austria, however, isn’t a place we first think about when searching for blustery, cathartic pop-rock music. This, though, changes today thanks to Toby Whyle.
The young Austrian has released a handful of singles this year, culminating in the release of his debut EP, A Mood of Its Own. While each of the four songs are buoyant in its effect, the mini-record’s centerpiece is the heart-racing “How It Feels”. Akin to the slow-burning anthems created by Foals and Kasabian, Whyle gradually brings us into his mind. A shallow rhythm opens the track, and Whyle’s voice joins shortly thereafter. He shares the thoughts in his mind, recounting how he and others have forgotten how “it feels to feel good”. We have instead become nothing more than robotics, where our phones and social media do the thinking for. Where we’ve replaced real, personal interactions in favor of the artificial. But to snap out of it, Whyle comes to the rescue – not just his words but also with a soaring climax where the reverb-drenched guitar pierces the sky as the tempo accelerates. Simply awesome.
A Mood of Its Own is available now on Bandcamp. Get to know this gifted young artist.
Squirrel Flower – “Flames & Flat Tires” (Boston, USA)
RIYL: Soccer Mommy, Snail Mail, Phoebe Bridgers
We’ve described Squirrel Flower’s previous releases, “Hurt a Fly” and “I’ll Go Running” as positioning Ella Williams to become the next big breakout artist. It’s not hyperbole – every ingredient that makes a songwriter special is present in Williams’ music. Wearing influences on her sleeve but melding them in a way that is truly unique and captivating, Williams has undoubtedly created something special with Squirrel Flower.
On “Flames & Flat Tires”, Williams continues to impress. Its early moments are a raw, lo-fi affair that lead the listener into a false sense of security. A slightly distorted bass line lays the foundation for Williams’ voice before drums kick in, starting a slow, intentional build. By the time it’s all over, the sound is immense, layered vocals, guitar, and synth. The guitar gets more distorted, it gets almost hypnotic as things deconstruct right before it ends. It’s a song about survival, about not just being on the road towards something, but actively fighting to keep down that path.
Squirrel Flower’s new album, Planet (i), is out June 25th via Polyvinyl Record Co. and Full Time Hobby. Pre-orders/pre-saves are available here or go to Bandcamp. Squirrel Flower also are scheduled to tour this fall with Soccer Mommy, tickets are available here.
HUSSY – “Moths” (London, England)
RIYL: Liz Phair, Lala Lala, Porridge Radio
When we first caught wind of Sophie Nicole Ellison’s project, Hussy, three years ago, she reminded us of the great artists and bands of the ’90s with her dreamy grunge-pop. At that moment, we stated that a star was born. While the verdict is still out on how vast her appeal will be, there’s not questioning her talent. If it all works out, te young London-based singer-songwriter could be her generation’s Liz Phair, who she channels on her newest single, “Moths”.
This stunning piece of grunge-pop is warm, intimate, and gritty at the same time. It is reminiscent of an era when young bands and artists like the aforementioned Phair, Nirvana, and Hole were unashamed of sharing their vulnerability, angst, and loneliness with the world. They didn’t hide themselves behind a mask or some fake persona. They fully expressed themselves in the clothes they wore and the raw power that emanated from their instruments and words.
As her guitar solemnly weeps and the rhythm section patiently trudges through the emotional quagmire, Ellison takes a long hard look in the mirror to determine her “self-worth”. She ponders her value in this complicated world and whether she can truly be heard and noticed. Eventually it will happen because there will always be a place for music that rattles us to the core without crushing our eardrums.
The Wombats – “Method to the Madness” (Liverpool, England)
RIYL: Gengahr, Ben Gibbard, Said the Whale
The Wombats are back! 2019 and 2020 brought out experimentation for each band members. Matthew Murphy (vocals, guitar) released new music under Love Fame Tragedy while Dan Haggis (drums) and Tord Øverland-Knudsen (bass) released new tunes under Sunship Balloon. The trio have since returned with “Method to the Madness”.
The single is melodic and methodical at first, creating a serene atmosphere for Murphy to examine how much the world has changed. He specifically focused on how traditional ways of doing things, including not booking and planning out a holiday, have been replaced by a laissez-faire attitude. An attitude of going with the flow and allowing life to blosom. For Murphy, his inspiration came from his own unscripted honeymoon, where he and his partner ventured out to discover and live.
“There must be some method to the madness, method to the madness
Still I don’t wanna know, just one last smile and then I’ll go
There must be some method to the madness
Stop I don’t need to know, there must be some method to the madness, method to the madness”
The single is out on AWAL. No word yet on a new album.
Evan Wright – “Turn the Other Way” (New York City via Las Vegas, USA)
RIYL: early Sufjan Stevens, Elliott Smith, Andy Shauf
We’ve covered so many artists in our nearly eight years doing this little side job. While we would love to develop long-term relationships with all of them, it’s impossible to write about every song and give them the attention they so rightfully have earned. This is the case with Evan Wright, whose style is reminiscent of Elliott Smith or Sufjan Stevens in his early days. In other words, his version of indie folk-rock leaves you in a state of awe and wonder, which is what Wright has achieved with “Turn the Other Way”.
Be prepared to be swept away by the song’s beautiful, breathtaking arrangement that goes beyond the usual dream-folk. Touches of ’80s soft-rock and Bon Iver-like folktronica also are embedded in the track. But what really grabs hold is Wright’s stunning falsetto. It is lush and immensely calming, and it also reaches a euphoric state during the song’s highest points.
Despite the song’s sonic beauty, Wright’s lyrics concern people growing apart despite years of friendship. He shares his realization that friends can quickly become strangers. “Why do people change? Why do people go?”, he painstakingly asks on all of our behalf. But if we were all to stay the same, then we would never grow. We would not get to witness a young artist blossom as Wright has.
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