The Matinee ’21 v. 089 is a special one, as it features eight songs that star women, whether they’re individual singer-songwriters, fronting a superstar band, or an all-female outfit. Plenty of superstars are featured as well as some “newcomers” that will blow you’re mind.
Aldous Harding – “Old Peel” (Lyttleton, New Zealand)
RIYL: Aldous Harding
Last week, a famous New Zealander released her first song in years, and well, we’ll keep our comments to ourselves. Fortunately, a few days later, another great singer-songwriter from these parts released her first song since 2019 and reminded us what Kiwi ingenuity is.
Thank you Aldous Harding for surprising us with “Old Peel”. For those who recall her sensational LP, Party, which was one of our Favorite Albums of 2019, Harding’s newest tune sounds like an extension of “Party”. It’s a little quirky, a little groovy, extremely fun, and immensely clever. In other words, it’s completely Harding. Really, how many artists will sing about a hot clown, inequalities created by capitalism, and the sexism that still permeates in our world? And how many could make a pitter-patter rhythm sound groovy? There’s only one, which is what makes Harding a rare and exceptional talent.
TORRES – “Hug From a Dinosaur” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Mannequin Pussy, Charly Bliss, Bleached
If there were year-end music awards like the NBA, Mackenzie Scott would have an excellent shot at comeback player of the year. When the creative force behind TORRES released her last album, Silver Tongue, Scott was in a tough place. Scott was dropped from her dream label, as she was told her sound wasn’t marketable enough. But if there’s one thing certain about Mackenzie Scott and the music of TORRES, is that it’s unapologetic in any way. Since that record, Scott has bounced back, as she’s now with Merge Records. In addition, she’s engaged to the love of her life (they were even on CBS This Morning together) and released one of the year’s best songs, “Don’t Go Puttin Wishes in My Head”.
On her latest song, “Hug From a Dinosaur”, TORRES focuses on the eternal impact of love and truth. “Hug From a Dinosaur” has some crunchy guitar chords that are reminiscent of Sprinter, however that’s where the similarities end. Scott’s voice has a confidence that is far beyond anything she’s done before. There’s plenty of fun instrumentation, from keyboard to handclaps. It even has a bit of a singalong section. It’s a joyous embrace of the knowledge that it’s possible to be happy, and to spread that joy to others.
Slothrust – “Once More For The Ocean” (Los Angeles via Boston, USA)
RIYL: Cherry Glazerr, Sharkmuffin, Broncho
Slothrust have been completely unpredictable as they get ready to release their fifth record, Parallel Timeline. From the ethereal journey of “Cranium” to the dreamy “Strange Astrology”, they’ve given us something different with each single. Not just different from each other, but different from pretty much anything else the trio has done so far. Over their earlier records, the trio of Leah Wellbaum (vocals/guitar), Kyle Bann (bass), and Will Gorin (drums) have proven to be incredibly versatile, melding grunge, jazz, pop, and many other influences into something truly their own, but recently they’ve added even more into the mix.
The constant evolution of Slothrust continues with “Once More For The Ocean”. The song rocks harder than anything we’ve heard so far from the new record. Soaring guitar riffs, heavy chords, and a reminder that Kyle Bann and Will Gorin are the best rhythm section out there right now make this song definitively Slothrust, while still being completely different. Autotune and other vocal effects bend and distort Leah Wellbaum’s voice throughout.
The song came to Wellbaum while she was by the ocean in New Hampshire. With no instrument available, she sang into the notes app on her phone. “It is not the easiest song to sing or explain”, Wellbaum said, “At times I even wondered if it might be suited for a different artist. However after sitting with it for a while I have come to the conclusion that this song was meant for me and it is about the search for a greater consciousness in times of chaos.”
Ashley Shadow – “For Love”(Vancouver, Canada)
RIYL: Marissa Nadler, Lightning Dust, Lightning Bug
As excited we are to hear music from every artist featured on this mini-playlist, our jaws dropped when seeing that Ashley Webber had released a new single. It has been five years since we last heard from her project, Ashley Shadow (she was one of our Favorite Hidden Gems of 2016), when she released her dark, emotive, yet immersive self-titled debut LP. We still spin the record from time to time, but we can set that aside for a bit and just repeatedly play “For Love”.
For those unfamiliar with Ashley Shadow, the track is the perfect introduction to her gorgeous yet brooding realm. A delicately strummed, reverb-drenched guitar and feathery percussion mimic a world that is slowly on the verge of collapsing. Webber’s radiant voice, however, is the beam of the light that breaks through the crumbling environment. It provides the path for us to follow and escape the darkness. Her words, too, are dedicated to everyone she knows and does not, saluting them for their courage and perseverance during these recent dark times.
“The money you make comes with too much to lose
It’s not giving in you did all you could do
And they can’t replace what was taken with you
Under your skin spirits broken
Sacrifice peace again and again
While fate waits behind you just like an old friend
You did it for love not just anything”
It’s so great to hear Ashley Webber back.
The single is out on Felte Records. No word on a new album, but we expect some information may come next month.
Olivia Kaplan – “Ghosts” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Lomelda, Cassandra Jenkins, Angel Olsen
A young artist that has made us look multiple times her way this year is Olivia Kaplan. It’s safe to say she’s one of our favorite discoveries of the year with singles “Wrong”, “Seen By You”, and “Still Strangers” completely captivating us. Every single brings something new from Kaplan, and that continues on her latest single, “Ghosts”.
There’s a throwback vibe that permeates throughout “Ghosts”. From its crunchy guitar to Kaplan’s vocal delivery to the punchy bass and drums, the song builds perfectly. It starts and stopps occasionally before it picks up into something huge with Kaplan’s voice booming over the song’s final moments. Those final moments are absolutely huge and take what was already a great song and launch it into something truly phenomenal.
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.
Indigo De Souza – “Kill Me (Asheville, USA)
RIYL: Ratboys, Palehound, Stef Chura
Indigo De Souza’s 2018 debut, I Love My Mom, was raw musically, lyrically, and emotionally. De Souza’s lyricism possesses a captivating quality, as her humor and honesty make it all feel relatable.
On her latest single, “Kill Me”, those lyrical qualities return in a much more complete package. Crisp guitar chords play under De Souza’s voice, which is accompanied by harmonies. The song ebbs and flows, sometimes with heavy, crashing drums, and De Souza screaming. Other times, there’s a dreamlike quality. Lyrically, it pulls no punches. Brutal honesty about love and relationships as De Souza howls. The creative process was also an interesting one, as De Souza describes it as: “I recorded myself stream-of-conscious singing it on the kitchen floor at night with my laptop cam. I found the video about a year later, and could barely recognize the person singing.”
Heartless Bastards – “How Low” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: My Morning Jacket, Middle Kids, Celebration
Speaking of long-awaited returns, one of the great southern-rock bands of the past 20 years have officially ended their five-year hiatus. Sure, Heartless Bastards shared “Revolution” nearly a year ago, but that was more of a one-off number in response to the chaos spurred on by the then-occupant of the White House.
Yesterday, the Erika Wennerstrom-fronted outfit made it official – a new record is coming soon. While the original lineup isn’t back, the band’s spirit remains. It truly takes some powerhouse musicians to fill the shoes of Dave Colvin and Mark Nathan. It specifically takes five immensely-talented individuals to be precise – Lauren Gurgiolo (Okkervil River), drummer Greggory Clifford (White Denim), multi-instrumentalist Jesse Chandler (Mercury Rev, Midlake), keyboardist Bo Koster (My Morning Jacket), and guitarist David Pulkingham (Patty Griffin). Meanwhile, longtime Heartless Bastards bassist Jesse Ebaugh is the only other remaining member. Now as a septet, Heartless Bastards can create a powerful, soulful number like “How Low”.
The song echoes of the ’70s when the music echoed the times, specifically a nation coming out of a war most did not want to participate in and challenging economic circumstances. But a lot of songs offered optimism, which “How Low” provides. The band embraces us like a warm hug with the sweet, smooth grooves feel. All the while, Wennerstrom’s powerful voice delivers a sermon about letting the darkness fade away and welcome the light. For too long, a long, dark shadow hovered over us, but no longer. Now is the time to come together and make new, hopeful history.
“Sometimes I can hardly take it
Oh the world has so much needless suffering
On and on it never stops oh don’t you see
Let’s lift each other up now or just let each other be
Oh how low will you go to get to the top
I hope we never really have find out
Oh how low will you go oh to get to the top
Can we all try to find some balance”
Bad Waitress – “Strawberry Milkshake” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Bikini Kill, Sprint, Chastity Belt
There’s only one way to end this awesome playlist and that’s with a young band that is going to make you believe the future of guitar-driven music is in excellent hands. For that matter, they’ll leave you believing punk rock will experience a renaissance in the very near future. That band is Bad Waitress, who have developed a cult following since their formation about three years ago. Soon, though, we’ll be saying they have a mass following thanks to songs like “Strawberry Milkshake”.
This song rocks. It absolutely rocks. While the lyrics seem to be tongue-in-cheek and lighthearted at times, the quartet deliver their lines with plenty of attitude. As the guitars wail, the bass pounds, and the drums crush the pavement like a dozen jackhammers, Kali-Ann Butala, Katelyn Molgard, Nicole Cain, and Eva Moon tell the tale of a beauty queen seeking “fresh meat, service on the floor”. The fresh meat, of course, are the testerone-jacked men who see her as nothing more than an object. But she’s not the prey; she’s the predator. Awesome!
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