If you like your playlists to be a roller coaster of emotions, then you’ve come to the right place with The Matinee ’21 v. 084. It starts off with a dreamy number of one of our more recent favorites before moving from exhilarating to pulsating. Finishing things off is a low-key number that will bring you to your knees. Be safe everyone.
Junaco – “Paradise” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Wilsen, Belle Mare, Sulk Station
Junaco, the duo of Shahana Jaffer and Joey LaRossa, have been characterized by us as the next big breakout band. Just listening to their most recent singles, “Dazed”, “Blue Room”, and “Weight of the World”, it’s apparent that there’s talent and a musical quality that is impossible to deny. Each of the songs brought different dynamics and sounds, from warm dream-pop perfection to sharp political statements.
On “Paradise”, Junaco continue to push their sound and lyrics into new directions. While there are still dreamy qualities, there’s something about the instrumentals that add a bit of grit to their sound. Its raw bass, an occasional hidden roar of guitar, a midsection where things fade as a guitar jangle floats in place before it all comes back together. Where “Weight of the World” shed light on how the constant news cycle affects us, “Paradise” talks about how looking inward is important to find happiness. For some, paradise is a far away fantasy, but Junaco reminds us to look inward.
Thrillhouse – “Take Care” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Future Islands, Caveman, Twin Shadow
Since thrilling us with “One of These Days” some 16 months ago (yes at the same time a pandemic was starting), a little trio from the south of England caught our attention. They are Thrillhouse, whose proclivity to make retro sound modern immediately made us fans. As a result, they were one of our Favorite Discoveries of 2020, and they’ve been featured what we think is a site-leading 10 times in 18 months. Make that 11 times, as Alistair Scott, Jackie Nielsen, and Sam Strawberry return with “Take Care”.
The song is a great mix of dreamy synth-rock and builds on what they do best – creating absorbing, atmospheric rock. This time, however, they add a hint of psychedelia, new wave, and disco. The title also sounds hopeful, yet there is undeniable sarcasm with the lyrics. Or it could be about saying goodbye to something no longer needed in life, which could be a person or something else.
“I don’t want you around here
I wish you the best
Take care now”
BRVT – “Vague” (Brussels, Belgium)
RIYL: London Grammar, HÆLOS, Elder Island
It doesn’t take a pandemic to make us realize that we need to take time for ourselves or that we need to look after one another. This is what makes us human. As Albert Einstein once said, “Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.” Occasionally, we need to be reminded that the sum is indeed greater than its parts, and a new, young band from Belgium and the UK arrive to etch this message in our minds with their second single. They are BRVT and the song is “Vague”.
The trio draw inspiration from another literary giant, philosopher Alan Watts, who helped popularize Buddhism and Taoism in the western atmosphere. BRVT, however, are not asking people to convert or do anything out of the norm. Through a gorgeous and enrapturing electronic arrangement, they simply ask us to do the things that make us who we are. That make us human.
“Take it as you want it
Try and dry those eyes
My mind is a maze
But my heart it doesn’t lie”
Simply a gorgeous song that has the three-piece on course to be the next London Grammar and HÆLOS.
Bizou – “Disco” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Twin Ritual, Depeche Mode, My Bloody Valentine
For nearly five years, past and present members of The Smashing Pumpkins, Veruca Salt, Tennis System, Wax Idols, Jennie Vee, and Light FM have established a project that channels the depths of the ’80s music scene. Think Berlin, Munich, London, and Paris, and when darkwave and coldwave emerged as the genres that represented an unseen group. Bizou, however, have risen beyond obscurity with opening slots for Drab Majesty, Ötzi, Hunny, and follow coldwave outfit Topographies. Last Friday, Marisa Prietto, Nicole Fiorentino, Nicki Nevlin, Erin Tidwell, and Josiah Mazzaschi released their new album, Tragic Lover, and its centerpiece is “Disco”.
Just at the title indicates, the song is made for the dance floor. Forget disco balls and grand clubs. This tune is made for dark, secretive venues where those seeking to escape the mundane gather. They conglomerate to feel alive as strobe lights flicker around them to the stuttering drum roll and protruding bass line. Meanwhile, bodies sway and minds become numb to the hollow synth, the spine-tingling guitar, and Prietto’s bold vocal. She, too, is seeking an escape from imprisonment, but in this case it is jealousy that acts as her cell and weakens her. The only way she can free herself is to dance the night away. Sounds like the perfect advice to kick off the week.
Stream and purchase Tragic Lover everywhere, including Bandcamp.
Meimuna – “Où vont les Tempêtes” (VS, Switzerland)
RIYL: Ghostly Kisses, Maëlle, Agnes Obel
We’ve long stated that the best songs are those that tell a wonderful story. The brilliant songwriting stimulates your mind to imagine the events unfolding while the arrangement is the set design and creates the atmosphere. Cyrielle Formaz, through her project Meimuna, has established a reputation in central Europe for bringing cinema to the stage. And one does not need to speak French to get fully immersed in the memory that Formaz shares on “Où vont les Tempêtes”, which translates to “Where Do the Storms Go?”.
Through a patient yet mystical neo-folk arrangement akin to the striking approach of Agnes Obel, Formaz lures us in with a sobering melody that could be the epilogue to a ship’s final voyage at sea. It is calm and peaceful, yet it is simultaneously stark, mysterious, and haunting. It is the sound of one’s loneliness. Or in this case, it is Formaz and her sister, who take refuge in the basement. But instead of trying to capture the storm’s rage, she recalls the quietness in her mind as she tries to console her terrified sibling and the subsequent calm of the following day. It’s a beautiful tale that reminds us that brighter days await us even if the darkness that consumes the present seems endless.
The single is out on Radicalis Music.
Sam Himself – “Nothing Like the Night” (Basel, Switzerland & Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: The National, City Calm Down, Gang of Youths
One of the great voices and songwriters to emerge in the last four years, in our humble opinion, is Samuel Koechlin, who is better known as Sam Himself. The Swiss-born, Brooklyn-based artist obliterated our emotions and our humanity with songs like “Cry”, “Slow Drugs” and “Nobody”. His music is The National’s sad-bastard music taken to more desperate heights, which should make him a favorite of the likes of Pitchfork, NME, and Stereogum in no time. Prime-time festival slots, too, should soon follow. Maybe things will start falling into place once his long-awaited debut album drops later this year.
The pandemic interrupted Sam’s plans to share the LP early this year, as he wrote new material while holed up in his native Basel, Switzerland. If you follow him on social media, he shared stories of his many lonely nights and struggles with isolation and uncertainty. This experience is magnificently captured on “Nothing Like the Night”.
The track is the perfect companion for a solitary 2AM drive. A stuttering rhythm guitar initially guides the way before transforming into a steely delay. The atmosphere has been set, and it is filled with motionless and emotionless objects. No one lingers in this place but you. Sam’s calm baritone then arrives, and he sounds like a man defeated. A man who understands that tonight will be another struggle. He wanders alone battling the images he sees and the thoughts occupying his mind.
“A stranger’s face twisted in knots pale and shiny like a doll’s
Looks back at you through the glass of a crazed one-way-window
With flaring eyes and grating jaws that don’t know what they’re hungry for
Blue blades for veins to drain what’s left like dirty water from a tub”
Once his first record arrives, it will likely be the only thing occupying our minds for a very long time.
Lupa J – “Saviour” (Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: Danz CM, Grimes, CHVRCHES
Speaking about being on our radar for a long time, we’ve long spoken about Imogen Jones, who goes by the moniker Lupa J. While she still plays the violin, this former musical child prodigy is one of Australia’s most gifted indietronica artists. She can create hypnotic, dark numbers; unfurl a stomach-churning industrial tune; or, as is the case with “Saviour”, an alluring electro-pop stunner.
With its brisk, surging vibrancy, “Saviour” could be the song played when we arrive at a wondrous place for the first time. It could be Times Square, where one is left speechless at seeing their names on one of the massive electronic billboards. The destination could be the great pyramids of Egypt or Sudan, in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef, or drifting in a hot air balloon to see the alien landscape of Cappadocia. In other words, the song is made for moments that make us go “Wow”.
Jones, though, does not wish to be “anyone’s saviour”. She is, as she tells us at the beginning of the song, still just 23 and “learning to walk again”. She’s still growing and understanding who she is and finding the things that leave her in awe. While she’s discovering and learning, she still manages to leave us in awe.
Voka Gentle – “Necrofauna / The Garden of Eden” (feat. Wayne Coyne) (London, England)
RIYL: LCD Soundsystem, POND, Superorganism
Voka Gentle have always been keeping their sound progressive and pushing boundaries. It’s no surprise their newest single, “Necrofauna / The Garden of Eden”, continues with that theme. The London-based trio comprised of twins Ellie and Imogen Mason and William J Stokes do not disappoint on their newest offering. It begins with trippy lyrics overlaid on top of industrial-like breaks and beats. Then we hear contradictory yet complementing vocals and a harmonious chorus from William. Once Wayne Coyne enters, it’s almost sounds angelic (which is a bit odd to write given the psychedelic effects of The Flaming Lips).
If you are wondering how Coyne ended up on this track, the band shares how the collaboration came about:
“This song is a dream sequence about the narrator entering the Garden of Eden, the emblem of an idealised pastoral relationship with the natural world, and realising they can’t stand it and want to consume and bring destruction to it (I see a deer pass me by and I break its neck / Rip off its hind leg and take a bite through fur, sinew and bone).”
This violent reaction is tempered by the introduction of a messianic figure, embodied by The Flaming Lips frontman:
“The song then enters a second section at the end with Wayne Coyne’s vocal coming in as a kind of angel figure, telling the narrator that everything will be ok. This could be read either as a glib platitude or as a serious message of hope. We felt like Wayne was perfect for this in a meta kind of way, as not only is he so respected and authoritative as a musician in our world, he also is known for being a huge believer in joy and hope through music. We first met him when Voka supported the Flaming Lips at Brixton Academy in 2019 and have kept in touch ever since.”
The video is also trippy, as there are some creepy but super cool puppets involved and definitely worth watching. Here’s a band to watch, and Leafy Outlook have struck gold.
Midwife – “God is a Cop” (Denver, USA)
RIYL: Drowse, Black Wing, Heather Woods Broderick
As Midwife, Madeline Johnston’s music is unhurried, minimalist perfection that crushes souls with pure, unadulterated emotion. Her songs often just feature a guitar, a few beats she’s recorded on her MacBook, and maybe a couple of looping key or synth strokes. Even her voice is often restrained, where her subtle delivery exudes emotion. As you prepared to listen to “God is a Cop”, dim the lights, close the curtains, and sit down because this song will make your knees buckle.
For over five minutes, the song steals your attention away from all the distractions around you. Despite its low-key and lo-fi approach, it feels like a jackhammer pressed against your chest with the sole intention of making you feel pain. This pain is the gloom that fills Johnston’s heart. “I cannot kill the evil star”, she says over the looming key arrangement and the endless hum of a wailing guitar. Like us, she is in a prolonged, suspended animation, unable to move from the world she’s created.
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