Female artists shine once again on The Matinee ’21 v. 80 version, and each of the six songs offer incredible stories and powerful messages. There tracks are included on our Songs of May 2021 playlist, which is available on SoundCloud and Spotify.
Joana Serrat – “Demons” (Vic, Spain)
RIYL: Hope Sandoval, Sam Valdez, Juanita Stein
Over three albums, Joana Serrat has created some truly wonderful, inviting, and emotionally-charged folk music. In March, Serrat released “Pictures”, which felt like a departure into an indie style. The shift helped Serrat reach new heights with her music and in a truly breathtaking way. The shift also welcomed some incredibly talented musicians to the fold on Serrat’s upcoming record, including guitarist Joey McClellan (Midlake), Aaron McClellan (Israel Nash), drummer McKenzie Smith (Sharon Van Etten, St. Vincent), and Jesse Chandler (Mercury Rev).
On her latest single, “Demons”, Serrat finds herself back grounded in in the folk sounds that defined her first three records. However, it has a lot of that huge indie sound bubbling right under the surface. An ethereal guitar, a simple understated guitar jangle, and strings streaming under Serrat’s voice and acoustic guitar. As the song progresses, it traverses some truly dreamy territory. Everything underneath finally breaks through, as Serrat’s vocals echoes over itself in an incredible moment. Through this sweeping arrangement, the Spanish singer-songwriter speaks about the demons that are often found on the road, including the loneliness of hotel rooms from town to town and the thoughts of doubt that accompany her from start to finish.
Yola – “Stand for Myself” (Bristol, England)
RIYL: Michael Kiwanuka, Brandi Carlile, Black Pumas
Presence. It’s an unquantifiable gift that few artists possess. When Annie Clark (a.k.a. St. Vincent), Michael Kiwanuka, or Beyoncé take the stage, you feel their presence and their power, and they haven’t even said a word. British soul-country singer-songwriter Yola has this unique gift. For those who have witnessed her perform, you immediately knew she was going to blow your mind with her powerful voice and even harder-hitting lyrics. Those who have not had the privilege to see her live, all one needs to do is hit play on “Stand for Myself” and you’ll immediately understand why Yola is considered a tour-de-force.
There is only one word to describe “Stand for Myself” and we’ve mentioned it already – powerful. With Dan Auerbach’s deft production, the song’s impact lies not in over-the-top arrangements or jarring guitars and rhythms. The arrangement is actually quite reserved, pulsing like the heart beat of a woman walking confidently down main street with all eyes on her. Its power lies in Yola’s tale of an individual who once set aside her true self in order to fit within other people’s narrative. Yola movingly sings, “It was easier to sit, than stand for myself / It was easy to give in, than stand for myself”. But then our hero finds liberation, shedding away the costume and revealing who she is.
“I used to be nothing like you
I used to feel nothing like you
Now I’m alive, alive”
Brilliant. Simply brilliant.
Good Morning TV – “Entertainment” (Paris, France)
RIYL: Men I Trust, Fazerdaze, Crumb
Four years ago, a young woman living in Paris caught our attention with her immaculate take on dream-pop. To say we were tickled pink by Good Morning TV‘s “Ordinary People” would be an understatement. It made us fans of Bérénice Deloire, who is the mastermind behind the project. While plenty of artists have delved into the dreamy psych-pop scene, few can make it feel like a wide-ranging adventure as Deloire consistently has done and repeated on “Entertainment”.
The song resembles a great film or book, where at first it eases you into the track with its calm and ravishing splendor. The cool, breezy vibes create the image of another unhurried day at the seaside, where we waste the day away by watching the gulls flying overhead and fellow beachgoers getting some color. This delightful atmosphere, however, is not permanent. Instead, the guitars and rhythms intensify and get a little grimy and even grungy. This burst of fuzz and reverb reflects the noise filling Deloire’s mind. “I’m begging for some quiet now”, Deloire delicately sings. While her voice is sweet and soft, a quiet desperation can be heard in the final words. Her words and delivery are a reminder that while our friends may seem ok, we need to carefully look for the signs that indicate they may not.
Kirty – “Turn You On” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: IAN SWEET, Cherry Glazerr, Julia Jacklin
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, which is an old saying we’re all quite familiar with. This adage applies to bands, where an outfit is only as strong as its individual members. At the same time, an individual member’s full artistic potential may never blossom in a group setting, especially when one started a solo career before joining the band. Such is the case with Kirty, the keyboardist and vocalist for Canadian indie favorite Fast Romantics.
The Orillia, Ontario native started creating waves following the release of her 2016 self-titled album. Her solo career accelerated last year with the release of “God Help Us” with ET Canada dubbing Kirty as “the coolest woman in the province”. The single was also a hint at what awaits music fans in 2021. Last week, she made it official – her sophomore album, We Are All on Fire, will be released August 20th via Postwar Records. Accompanying the news was the LP’s third single, which might lead to different phrases being used to describe Kirty.
Upon hearing “Turn You On”, one such phrase people may use is creative genius. This synth-driven pop-rock tune is cinematic, theatrical, and incredibly clever. It possesses the dreamy urgency and grit of Jillian Medford (a.k.a. IAN SWEET) with the vivid storytelling of Julia Jacklin. While the song title may allude to a physical relationship, Kirty’s tale focuses on trying to be heard in the competitive music industry. This includes songwriters willing to be industry execs’ “Maryann” (which might be a reference to the character from Gilligan’s Island). The video depicts Kirty as a jester, who ends up allowing herself to be consumed by a hungry, soul-devouring king. All just to be heard.
To hear what is to come from We Are All on Fire, pre-order and pre-save links are available here.
Ambar Lucid – “Get Lost in the Music” (Little Ferry, NJ USA)
RIYL: Amy Winehouse, Emeli Sandé, Jennifer Lopez
Anyone who has been to a big music festival can relate to the feelings of getting lost in the music – often with a little help from basic chemistry. Music fans live for the euphoric rush that occurs when an artist’s performance resonates on a deep level. This kind of experience is the heartbeat of the new single from rising star Ambar Lucid.
The self-taught talent from New Jersey extends a highly danceable invitation to let loose on “Get Lost in the Music.” Her polished style and sensual cool will have you wondering if she shares genes with Amy Winehouse and Jennifer Lopez. Even at this stage in her young career, it’s clear Ambar Lucid is destined for similar stardom. Immerse yourself in these ’60s-inspired grooves as she lays down some heady lyrics:
“Get lost in the music with me
Revival of beauty is insanity
Get lost in the desert don’t dread
What’s the point of living if you’re already dead
Got way too lost in my own head
Society trapped my soul but music let me go
I took a trip into the universe
Society trapped my soul but mushrooms let me go”
Skirts – “Always” (Dallas, USA)
RIYL: Free Cake for Every Creature, Thanks for Coming, Real Estate
A lot of really wonderful artists create music under the radar for years. Alex Montenegro has created music as Skirts since 2017, and her early releases were fairly simple, mostly consisting of guitar, vocals, and synth, recorded on cassette 4-track and digital 8-track. Those early recordings have an inviting quality that a listener can easily be drawn into. Luckily that quality is still present as Montenegro’s music has evolved into something more refined.
On her latest single, “Always”, Montenegro’s sound is fully realized. Pristine guitar and stumbling drums welcome the listener. Montenegro’s voice is layered in a sublime way. “Always” is a wonderful slow build. A jangly guitar comes in about halfway through and kicks things into another dimension. Additional guitars come in and intertwine, rarely loosening their grip on the song thereafter. It builds and builds into its final moments, where its dreaminess gets interrupted by a distorted bass that slowly powers through it all.
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