As we reboot our lives and get another chance to live our dreams, let the nine songs of The Matinee ’21 v. 095 be the soundtrack to guide you forward. The mini-playlist is filled with familiar names, so you know the songs are top-notch.
Wings of Desire – “Choose A Life” (London, England)
RIYL: Arcade Fire, The Jesus and Mary Chain, INHEAVEN
Two-and-a-half years ago, English indie-rock favorites INHEAVEN announced they were going their separate ways. Whether the separation is permanent or temporary remains a mystery, but Chloe Little and James Taylor continue to make music as Wings of Desire. The duo have not had the easiest of paths to do what they love, as a global pandemic interrupted their plans to produce an album and go on tour. They’ve still, however, found a way to release a handful of singles, including “Choose A Life”.
The song represents what we loved about INHEAVEN. A boisterous energy is fueled by steely, reverb-drenched guitars and an urgent rhythm section. The shoegaze-filled soundscape is both stunning and invigorating, causing adrenaline to course through the veins and subtle gasping for air. Little’s and Taylor’s dueling vocals likewise tell a tale of second chances, liberation, and memories of unbridled enthusiasm. They tell us to hold nothing back and have no regrets. Most of us, after all, are getting another opportunity to live. The pair are living examples of that as is the protagonist of their song.
“I said one day we’ll win
A trip to the heavens
Where we’ll dance and sing
At one of those parties where everyone’s wasted
I really can’t be arsed to leave the bed
Don’t let me face it
Your jokes make me laugh
And my songs make you cry
We’ll lie here forever
And aim for the sky”
This is the perfect anthem for today’s unpredictable world.
The single is out on the duo’s boutique label WMD Recordings.
Giungla – “Little Problem” (ft. Jessica Winter) (Milan, Italy)
RIYL: Ela Minus, Lupa J, Nelson Can
Milan is the fashion capital of the world. It’s known for its style, sophistication, and elegance, but Ema Drei goes against the grain. As Giungla, she is creating music with an immensely sharp edge. Her brand of electro-rock and indietronica is filled with grit, darkness, and attitude. She not only includes these characteristics into her music, but she lives by them. Her social media pages, for instance, proudly highlight the words “turbulence” and “headbanging”. Forget strutting down runways for this young Italian because she’s forging her own identity and pathway with songs like “Little Problem”.
This electro-rocker is indeed worthy of headbanging. It is raw yet aggressive with the bass throbbing heavily through the speakers and Drei and guest collaborator Jessica Winter‘s voices rising above the fray. Drei’s steely guitar then arrives, adding a more sinister feel to the track. The song, however, isn’t intended to scare people away. Instead, it is made to make people notice who Drei is and that she’s a young woman playing by her own rules in a man’s world. She doesn’t care if she becomes a “little problem” for everyone if it means making meaningful change.
Cara Bateman – “I Wrote This For You” (Victoria, BC Canada)
RIYL: Allison Russell, Charlotte Day Wilson, Joss Stone
Wherever you may be at the moment, we recommend that you pause everything for five minutes and turn your attention to this next single. Trust us because once you hear the first first notes of “I Wrote This For You” and Cara Bateman‘s soulful voice, you’ll forget what you are doing. Your attention will be completely fixated on this incredible stunner that should be heard in all the great jazz and blues bars around the world.
“I Wrote This For You” is reminiscent of the great, intimate soul ballads of the ’60s and ’70s. Every strum of the guitars, every pluck of the bass, and every touch of the keys hits a personal note. Her story, too, is one of immense introspection, as she writes a letter to her teenage self. Bateman warns herself of the disappointment that lies ahead, but she keeps her head up and continues to pursue her dreams. Eventually, she might craft something that resonates with the world like this wonderful little number.
“A million rejections and I feel like a fool (fool)
But then buddy in the corner just told me I’m cool (cool)
I guess it shouldn’t matter if I feel betrayed (yeah)
With every bit of loving, I can handle some shade “
Aubrey Haddard – “National Tragedy” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Weyes Blood, Julia Holter, Laura Marling
Back in February, Aubrey Haddard turned real-life romance into a wonderful, playful fairy tale with “Portuguese Red”. The song was a reminder that love can be found in the most unexpected circumstances. Her latest single, however, goes in a different direction thematically and sonically.
Like a piece of great, dramatic theater, “National Tragedy” builds from a tranquil, humble beginnings to a swell of strings and emotion. Haddard’s lyrics, meanwhile, reflect the turmoil of the past 16 months. “Watching a national tragedy on TV / Can someone turn it off?”, she asks her parents. They’re not watching footage of George Floyd’s final minutes, the insurrection at the White House, nor the endless news coverage of COVID. Haddard’s story, instead, concerns Princess Diana’s death back in August 1997. For weeks, TV stations, newspapers, and talk shows focused their programs on this one event. It was the definition of coverage overkill, where real-world problems were being largely ignored while the death of a princess was mercilessly covered. To Haddard, that is the national tragedy, and this continues today.
The single is out on Beverly Martel.
Golda May – “My Kind Of Person” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Haley Blais, Millie Turner, MUNA
Hearing the music of Golda May, it’s undeniable how creative she is as a songwriter and musician. Drawing influence from many different sources, she cites Feist, Radiohead, and Grizzly Bear. The combination of those influences helps May create something completely her own while also creating something that pushes the boundaries of indie rock. Many of these songs are featured on her new EP, Rotten.
Rotten is an impressive EP. Immersive and lush indie dreamscapes are navigated by a powerful voice. On the EP’s penultimate track, “My Kind of Person”, everything that makes Golda May a notable songwriter is featured front and center. Its opening moments are defined by a lightly distorted guitar as May sings. Strings join in shortly as the song builds. As it reaches the chorus, it slows a bit before it kicks into another gear.
After the chorus, however, it takes a sharp detour into some wild sounds, and an incredible musical journey ensues. “My Kind of Person” comes to close with its haunting chorus, but on this go-around it’s bigger and more triumphant than it was initially. Some say the penultimate track on any record is its most important. It drives things home and sets up the closer, and we can’t think of a better track to fill that important role than “My Kind of Person” on Rotten.
We Were Promised Jetpacks – “Fat Chance” (Edinburgh, Scotland)
RIYL: Frightened Rabbit, Manchester Orchestra, The Twilight Sad
Two months ago, We Were Promised Jetpacks surprised fans with a single born during a pandemic with “If It Happens”. It was a monumental number that bridged shoegaze and synth-pop, and it’s the first of many songs Adam Thompson (guitar/vocals), Sean Smith (bass), and Darren Lackie (drums) plan to release this year. More specifically, what was originally to be a 7″ split single has been expanded to a brand new album. And the trio return to their roots on Enjoy the View’s second single.
“Fat Chance” is a brilliant representation of the greatness of the Scottish indie-rock scene. The song is uplifting and jubilant, yet it could fill venues of all sizes. It is an energizing ear-worm that will get people bopping in the aisles of grocery stores, walking with an extra pep in their step down the office corridors, and smiling as they study or conduct their chores. This song, after all, is about living in the moment and taking advantage of what life has to offer.
“I’ll calculate the odds, they aren’t in my favour
So I’ll carry on like this, and I can make amends later
But all the lights have changed from red to green
I’m starting to regret missed opportunities”
LUMP – “We Cannot Resist” (London, England)
RIYL: Laura Marling, Talking Heads, La Femme
It’s always interesting when two immense creative forces collide to create something. Sometimes, things fall short of expectations, as one of the forces seems to overshadow the other. However, with LUMP, Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay only seem to open up new creative opportunities for each other, and both are better for it. The folk stylings of Marling blend surprisingly well with the strange and surreal forces summoned by Lindsay. Their 2018 record was stunning, and each single they’ve released ahead of their new record, Animal, has only added to the hype around LUMP.
That trajectory does not change with “We Cannot Resist”. Early moments of a drum machine and guitar showcase both Marling and Lindsay’s strengths. Marling’s voice is front and center, but underneath a slight effect that adds a perfect level of weirdness to it. The song’s upbeat nature gives it an infectious nature. From its guitar work to Marling’s voice in the choruses, it’s a really easy song to sink into with a ton of charm. But there are moments where the song turns, like those effects or the whispers of “We cannot resist” throughout. It adds an interesting dynamic and shows a side of LUMP we haven’t really heard much of so far.
Molly Burch – “Took a Minute” (Austin, TX)
RIYL: Wild Nothing, Nicole Atkins, Tennis
Molly Burch‘s music is an absolute throwback. Her early records recall evenings in a smoky room many decades ago. Her ability to take those sounds and turn them into something that still feels very modern and relevant is what makes her such an intriguing songwriter. Lately, Burch has been showing a bit of an evolution in her approach, incorporating more sounds from the ’70s and ’80s and even getting an assist from Wild Nothing’s Jack Tatum on the psych-disco “Emotion”. Her ability to transcend time with her music is unparalleled.
“Took a Minute” may be Burch at her grooviest. Lush electric piano chords lay things out over an incredibly catchy bassline. It’s ’70s disco-pop charm at its finest. Burch’s voice soars over the whole thing beautifully. There’s so much to love on “Took a Minute”: the aforementioned bass line, the great guitar work throughout, Burch’s fun lyrics, and its incredibly fun music video featuring Cynthia Lee Fontaine of RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s a song about love, writing a love song, and waiting and finding love. It’s all tied together in a danceable, fun package that showcases all that makes Burch such a notable songwriter.
Big Red Machine – “Latter Days” (New York, USA)
RIYL: The National, Bon Iver, Anaïs Mitchell
It’s hard to think of two people who’ve shaped the landscape of indie music more over the past decade than Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and The National’s Aaron Dessner. That could even be expanded to pop music with their contributions to the recent Taylor Swift records. Their Big Red Machine project released their first record in 2018, and it was an interesting, experimental ride, but their new record How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? seems to be something much, much bigger. Just look at the artists that are contributing – Sharon Van Etten, Robin Pecknold, Lisa Hannigan, and Taylor Swift are just a few of the many names that will appear on the record. It’s a testament to how deeply woven Dessner and Vernon’s influence are into the fabric of popular music today.
The first single from How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last is “Latter Days”, a track featuring singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell. The song feels like a Dessner affair with gorgeously played piano chords that wouldn’t feel out of place on The National’s High Violet. Mitchell’s voice is the focus on the song, and it’s stunning when layered with Vernon’s harmonies. The song is driven forward by a stumbling drumbeat provided by Big Thief’s James Krivchenia.
Lyrically, Vernon and Dessner describe the song as “about childhood, or loss of innocence and nostalgia for a time before you’ve grown into adulthood—before you’ve hurt people or lost people and made mistakes.” The whole song has that emotion behind it, and it’s truly astonishing.
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