Confronting our fears, embracing our independence, and finding hope within despair are the themes tackles on The Matinee ’21 v. 108 edition. Nine new singles litter today’s mini-playlist, featuring newcomers and some of indie’s finest. These songs and dozens others are included in our Songs of July 2021 playlist, which can be found on SoundCloud and Spotify.


Buffalo Nichols – “Lost & Lonesome” (Milwaukee via Houston, USA)

RIYL: Buddy Guy, Ben Harper, Muddy Waters

Where have all the great blues singers gone? In a world dominated by pop, hip hop, rap, and electronic music, blues artists get overlooked and even forgotten. For them to shine, they have to display extraordinary talent, which is a sad indictment of the industry since individuals with less than half the ability become stars. But fortunately for music fans, labels like Fat Possum Records are providing opportunities for artists like Carl “Buffalo” Nichols to be heard.

The Houston-born/Milwaukee-based singer-songwriter is a throwback. Like Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters, Nichols is first-and-foremost a storyteller, where he has plenty of tales to tell for those willing to listen. Much of the songs on his forthcoming, eponymous debut album, are shaped around his days traveling alone across Germany, Ukraine, and the USA and playing in the most discreet places. On the LP’s lead single, “Lost & Lonesome”, he delivers a little sermon to all the lonely wanderers, although his words also apply to all of us.

“You may say, say I’ve got no friends
But who can you really put your faith in in the end
Cause it’s hard, hard to trust someone
When loyalty is just a word that slips off of your tongue
Loyalty is just a word and it slips off of your tongue”

The young man is an incredible talent. Let’s hope he’ll achieve legendary status like Guy and Waters one day.

Pre-orders for Buffalo Nichols are available from these links and Bandcamp. It arrives October 15th via Fat Possum Records. His solo U.S. tour is underway with additional dates in the fall supporting Drive-By Truckers.

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Dahlia Sleeps – “Divided” (London, England)

RIYL: Phoria + Hundred Waters + Mt. Wolf

Nearly three years have passed since Dahlia Sleeps released their tranquil yet stunning EP, After It All, which was one of our favorite mini-records of 2018. Lucy Hill and Luke Hester’s consistent ability to make our jaws drop have made them one of our all-time favorites. So much so, we’ve expressed our love for them on several occasions. We’ve even recently thought about whether they would be releasing new music anytime soon. As if they were reading our minds, the trip-hop duo released a new single that reminded us why we fell head over heels when they released their debut single, “Breathe”.

“Divided” can only be described as ethereal purity, where every element cleanses your soul while levitating your spirit. The production is clean yet breathtaking, the beats are suspenseful and stark, and Hill’s penetrating, ghostly vocal is mesmerizing. All one can do is sit back, inhale deeply and frequently, and get lost in this pair’s magical world. This place, however, contains experiences to which we all can relate. For Hill, it’s the slow deterioration of a friendship, where lies and mistrust have torn two people apart.

“Hope you find the
Truth that you’re seeking
Harness blame but
What’s underneath it?
This could be
Just what we needed”

Despite the pain, Hill and Hester have still found a way to create something strikingly beautiful. This is the art of Dahlia Sleeps.

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Porridge Radio – “New Slang” (The Shins cover) (Brighton, England)

RIYL: TORRES, Pronoun, Fleet Foxes

When listing the great bands since 2015, Porridge Radio undoubtedly will be near if not at the top of a lot of people’s list. They are for us. Their 2020 album, Every Bad, made several “Best of” lists, including our own. It was powerful, emotional, and devastating. It was one of the few albums where every song devoured the listener’s soul. Every Bad, in our humble opinions, is one of the great LPs of this century. The exciting thing is that Dana Margolin (vocals, guitar), Maddie Ryall (bass), Georgie Stott (keys), and Sam Yardley (drums) can still get better. Their potential is limitless. To reveal their enormous talent, they take one of The Shins‘ all-time classics and make it all their own.

The original version of “New Slang” was a jangly, melodic affair. Porridge Radio, however, turn it into a brooding, gripping experience. So instead of feeling like a gentle beach walk on a cool, summer’s day, the quartet create an atmosphere that feels like winter’s eve, and we’re shivering to the haunting “ooh ooh oohs” and Margolin’s gripping yet vulnerable vocal. The heft in her voice adds more meaning and emotion to every lyric, particularly when she sings:

“And if you took to me like a
Gull takes to the wind
Well, I’ve jumped from my trees
And I’ve danced like the king of the eyesores
And the rest of our lives would’ve fared well”

The song is the B-side from Porridge Radio’s forthcoming contribution to the subscription-only Sub Pop Singles Club Vol. 6. The A-side features a cover of Wolf Parade’s “You Are A Runner And I Am My Father’s Son” (which we cannot wait to hear!). It will be available August 9th.

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Dry Cleaning – “Bug Eggs/Tony Speaks!” (London, England)

RIYL: Shopping, Parquet Courts, IDLES, Gang of Four

Earlier this year, Dry Cleaning released one awesome record in New Long Leg. The quartet’s debut was slick at times and gritty at the other moments, and it was highlighted by front-woman Florence Cleopatra Shaw’s witty observations and stories. This combination has resulted in the LP being one of our favorites of the year so far. Two songs, however, did not make it on New Long Leg, but the band thought they had to be heard. And we agree, “Bug Eggs” and “Tony Speaks!” are must-hear ditties.

The London-based outfit waste no time in getting right up in your face. A melodic, dizzying, art-punk approach fills “Bug Eggs”. On the one hand, toes tap in unison to the plucky bass line while heads spin alongside the psych-infused, swirling guitars. All the while, Shaw spins a wacky tale of consumption and commercialization – at least that’s what we think that’s what this song is about.

“Get these bug eggs out of our drinks!
It’s unpleasant to feel one has spent more money than usual
But it was worth it
And I will be able to make the money back”

Meanwhile, bold and daring, “Tony Speaks!” jettisons you into a clearer headspace from the start. Whatever stress you may be feeling simply vanishes once you hear the hypnotic intro. Whatever fleeting thoughts remain are then dissolved by Shaw’s sultry spoken-word delivery of clever lyrics:

“Just an emo dead stuff collector…
My only ambition in life is to grip the roots of your hair”  

While the lyrics and vocals are certainly part of Dry Cleaning’s appeal, the instrumentation has its own wow factor. Listeners are hooked by the percussion from Nicholas Hugh Andrew Buxton then plunged into layers of rich sonic magic conjured up by Thomas Paul Dowse (guitar) and Lewis Maynard (bass). 

The split single is out now on 4AD and available on Bandcamp.

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LUMP – “Gamma Ray” (London, England)

RIYL: Laura Marling, TUNNG

Some artists seem to have the Midas touch when it comes to their musical projects. Laura Marling is one such artist. She imbues every song with quiet grace, more content in making music than seeking the spotlight. But even the understated indie folk types like to turn up the volume every now and then. This makes LUMP – her collaboration with Mike Lindsay of British folk outfit TUNNG – especially enjoyable. As the group’s newest single proves, summer is the perfect season for their kaleidoscopic tones.

“Gamma Ray” delivers synth-driven hooks that fuse elements of psychedelia and art-pop. This tune from their upcoming sophomore album, Animal, showcases Marling’s ethereal vocals as Lindsay’s instrumentation keeps listeners spellbound. Even the lyrics dazzle as the phrases erupt like tiny audio fireworks bursts throughout the song:

Licked with fire
Those old desires
That live within

Write your wants
In gilded fonts
The truth will out

The agony, the phantasy; 
A twist on every page. 
Something easy to repress”

There will be no repressing our joy when Animal arrives July 30th via Chrysalis and Partisan Records. Get your copy from Bandcamp or these links.

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The Ophelias – “Sacrificial Lamb” (Cincinnati & New York City, USA)

RIYL: Camp Cope, Ratboys, Girlpool

It would not be fair to call The Ophelias a new band, but after more than five years of tireless work, the indie-rock quartet are on the verge of something special. It might be even Phoebe Bridgers-like special, where their popularity could skyrocket once the word gets out. And it’s starting to with The New York Times having written about their music. They, however, deserve more attention because vocalist/guitarist Spencer Peppet (she/her), violinist Andrea Gutmann Fuentes (she/her), drummer Mic Adams (he/him), and bassist Jo Shaffer (they/them) are reinvigorating indie rock, adding more heartfelt emotion and a touch of the theater to the genre. Their talents were on full display with last month’s “Neil Young on High”, which features Julien Baker, and the foursome further showcase their ingenuity on “Sacrificial Lamb”.

This melodic rocker is an emotional ride. As Adams and Shaffer’s rhythms guide the track and Peppet’s guitar adds a touch of light to the broodiness, Fuentes’ crossing violin ignites the track and raises its intensity. Its searing buzz provides the perfect counterpoint to Peppet’s soft and intimate vocal. This collision reflects the inner turmoil so many people experience. At my best, I’m a sacrificial lamb / At my best, I’m something you can handle”, Peppet poignantly sings. Later she adds, “Things that make me feel better will hurt me eventually / And the people I trusted will worm their out of the scene”.

We think, however, more people will rushing to be part of their scene. This band is just too talented to ignore.

Pre-orders for The Ophelia’s new album, Crocus, are available here and Bandcamp ahead of its September 24th release via Joyful Noise Recordings.

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Mini Trees – “Carrying On” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Japanese Breakfast, Mitski, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down

“Carrying On” achieves the near impossible: this catchy single from Los Angeles-based artist Mini Trees hits all the right notes on every front: musically, lyrically, and emotionally. Can a euphoric indie pop anthem provide life-affirming therapy in under three minutes? The answer is ABSOLUTELY YES. 

To understand this song’s brilliance, you need to meet Lexi Vega, the project’s mastermind. The daughter of a Cuban-born father and a Japanese-American mother, Vega began her artistic career as a drummer. As a talented songwriter, she captures our collective emotions and turns them into relatable, uplifting works of art. The honesty and vulnerability in Vega’s lyrics stem from her own experiences. The art of carrying on – from heartbreak or loss – requires strength. When life’s most challenging chapters leave us broken, songs like “Carrying On” provide the spark to rekindle hope.

Her sun-kissed vocals radiate a level of confidence that is often lacking in mainstream music. What you hear on this song is not overly produced or saccharine. Instead, what Mini Trees offers is a message of resilience. “Don’t focus on the past,” she sings, both to herself and to whoever may be listening. It’s sage advice from an artist with a bright future. 

After releasing two earlier EPs, her debut full-length, Always In Motionarrives September 17th via Run For Cover Records. Pre-orders are available on Bandcamp.

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Yr Familiar – “Breathe” (Brisbane, Australia)

RIYL: London Grammar, HAERTS, Cults

Is it possible to drown in a song? Is it possible to be completely enveloped by wave after wave of scintillating sound? While such an incident would be obviously difficult to achieve, emerging indie trio Yr Familiar take us to the cusp with their new single, “Breathe”.

A slowly building tide of sweeping synths, ravishing rhythms, and the alluring and crippling voice of Breannen Stanbridge forms at the outset, and immediately we’ve waded into the dazzling dark-pop of the Brisbane-based outfit. As the sonic waters continue to rise and the storm gathers, we’re left hypnotized by the event. We are left in awe of the song’s surging power that eventually overwhelms those in its wake. But this song isn’t about running from fear, but facing it. It is about standing one’s ground and learning live with one’s fear and mistakes.

“Cured by one, overdone
Ruled by one, fucked for fun
Afraid to admit that the story was my choice yeah
I’ll depart in disgust, hear the thump of my heart
I’ll give in, to the sin and the stars that had been”

Look out Australia, you’ve got another gem of a band on your hands.

Yr Familiar are Breannen Stanbridge, Shem Allen, and Shane Rudken. “Breathe” is available from these links or get it directly from Bandcamp.

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