The Matinee ’21 v. 123 welcomes the arrival of September with surprises galore, that include rapturous melancholy, sensual intimacy, and revealing rockers. Since it is the start of the month, our Spotify and SoundCloud playlists are in their infancy. Follow them to hear what songs are inspiring us over the next 30 days.
Madi Diaz – “Woman in My Heart” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Edie Brickell, Angel Olsen, Black Belt Eagle Scout
Madi Diaz must have been a sharpshooter in a past life. How else can you explain the precision with which her music pierces your heart? Every song reaches its target with effortless stealth; every note leaves an indelible mark. On her newly released History of a Feeling LP, the singer/songwriter with Peruvian and Danish heritage delivers the kind of hard-hitting indie folk-rock you expect from artists twice her age. If you haven’t already succumbed to Diaz’s charms, this song will seal the deal.
There is much to love about “Woman In My Heart”, from its dusty warmth and bluesy riffs to its empowering lyrics. Diaz showcases both her vocal and songwriting talents, revealing an artist who refuses to shy away from pain. You can hear the ache in her voice as she plumbs the depths of her emotions after a relationship’s end. What shines through most is neither sadness nor self-pity but rather a slow-burning rage. Is she angry at the outcome or at herself for having loved an unworthy man? These emotions are the fuel she uses to overcome the hurt and emerge scarred but stronger:
“I’m still pulling out your love
Little pieces coming up
Now the man I love is gone
And there’s a woman in my heart”
Madi Diaz is an artist to watch. Go see her on tour now, because it won’t be long until she is selling out huge venues. Her U.S. tour with Caamp and The Tallest Man on Earth begins September 17th with full details on her website.
Wildhart – “Turn the Page” (Gothenburg, Sweden)
RIYL: Cults, Austra, London Grammar
Since encountering the dreamy “Fantasy” way back in 2016, Swedish dream-pop duo Wildhart have held us under their spell, and Ylva Holmdahl (vocals) and Christian Berg (synthesizers) have offered no hint of loosening their grip. On the contrary, it’s getting firmer and expansive, as more people gravitate to their sensual music, such as the minimalist but stunning “Better Bby” and now “Turn the Page”.
Breathe very deeply, close your eyes, stretch out your arms, and spin underneath the imaginative disco ball. Or better yet, do these things out in the open with the bright, overhanging sun acting as the spotlight. The deft synchronicity of the synths, beats, and Holmdahl’s soothing vocal is intoxicating. It is like an inescapable dream in which we choose to be imprisoned. Holmdahl’s lyrics, too, indicate two people trapped in a memory, within a moment, but now is the time for them to move on.
“One day we can finally talk about it
Make a brand new start of it
We can still be friends
We can turn the page”
Wildhart are working on a new album, which was expected this year but delayed due to certain events. In the meantime, their music is being distributed by Pangur Records.
Leyya – “I’ve Been Down” (Vienna, Austria)
RIYL: Wet, Bon Iver, Gordi
Austria is often associated with classical music and some of the most influential composers in history – Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, Strauss, etc. It’s not often associated with contemporary music. Look deeper into the alleys of its capital city, however, and one would hear chatter about Leyya. Created by Sophie Lindinger and Marco Kleebauer, the band have become an underground favorite in the Central European country and its surroundings. As evidence of their popularity, their final live shows in Linz and Vienna sold out. The duo will still continue to make music, but they prefer focusing their attention on the creative process rather than performance. Their wide-scaled artistry is fully displayed on their new EP, Longest Day of My Life, and the highlight is “I’ve Been Down”.
The song is simply gorgeous. It’s a beautifully dark and intimate piece of folktronica that combines the bedroom chills of Wet and Bon Iver’s widescreen arrangement. From the start, the duo draw listeners in with their stirring melancholy and Lindinger’s whispery yet embracing voice. As the guitar tingles, the rhythms flutter, and the occasional synth bellows, she reveals the depression that has gripped her for years and get her down. Now, however, she rises, sharing her struggles and perseverance for all to hear. Hopefully, we’ll hear this great band for many more years to come.
Ahli – “Famous” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Middle Kids, The Aces, Maggie Rogers
So many talented artists get overlooked in today’s competitive music industry, and this space evidences the talent that exists in every corner of the planet. It’s not like it’s difficult to find great, under-the-radar singers and bands. One just needs to open their minds and ears while investing a little bit of time each day. If everyone would do this, then more people would have discovered Ahli years ago and the three EPs they’ve released.
Yes, the singer-songwriter / producer has three records to their name. One key trait stands out from each of them – Ahli’s songwriting. There is no substitute for a great story in a song, particularly one to which everyone can relate, such as “Famous”.
The song is a throwback in many ways. The laid-back pop-rock vibes recall Maggie Rogers’ re-imagination of the ’90s while Ahli’s intimate yet smoky voice has an air of Aimee Mann. Their songwriting, too, is classic, narrating the tale of a person leaving home in order to achieve their dreams to be a star. To do this, it may mean leaving not only oneself in the past but everything else. As Ahli sings, “I know you want to be famous / But you got to look back at what you left behind”, they might be saying these words to themselves. After all, they got their start performing in rural NJ dive bars and now call Nashville home. Maybe one day, they’ll be playing on the biggest stages of the world.
And they’ll be famous.
Moonbeam Machine – “State” (Denton, TX USA)
RIYL: Futurebirds, Pinegrove, Hovvdy
Speaking about hidden gems that could be famous, those living in Texas need to make their way to Denton. There, they will find Samuel Janvier, who currently has two projects. His main one is with electric rockers Black Hole Bears, but he also performs solo under the moniker Moonbeam Machine. His pseudonym assumes his sound would be cosmic shoegaze or maybe art-rock á la Spencer Krug’s Moonface. Nope, he is a southern indie rocker, which is perfectly fine with us especially since his sound has qualities of Futurebirds’ anthemic approach and Pinegrove’s rollicking intimacy. In other words, it’s ideal late-summer music, which is what “State” is.
Made equally for road trips and reminiscing with old mates, “State” is indie-rock perfection. It is cathartic and uplifting, providing the energy we need to get through another day. Janvier’s lyrics, too, concern the importance of moving on instead of being in a state of stagnation. While uncertainty and fear may linger, the next day may bring yield new opportunities.
“It’s this tragedy that gets me
Nothing left but to go
So long Las Colinas
Put your palm in my hands
Intertwine with my fingers
I hope they will
It’s so elegant and simple
Something for the end
An end is what you make it
A beginning is the same
Janvier’s debut EP, Garden, is coming late this year or in early 2022. Look for it.
Bat Fangs – “Queen of My World” (Carrboro NC, USA)
RIYL: Sheer Mag, Ex Hex, Joan Jett
Bat Fangs’ first record was an absolute ripper, but that’s to be expected when you hear a band of Betsy Wright (Ex Hex) and Laura King (Speed Stick). Hard hitting drums and killer riffs defined that self-titled record. It’s been a couple of years and thankfully they’re back with more.
“Queen of My World” picks up almost exactly where their debut did. Infectious guitar riffs, and huge drumbeats define the song’s sound. It’s such a catchy track, combining loud ’80s hair metal with a punk rock flair. Power chords, sing-along lyrics and a killer guitar solo make it such a fun track to listen to. While the music is nostalgic, so are the lyrics, singing about the old days and young love.
“Do you remember way back when you were young
Kick the Skull and the crossbones get high have some fun
Drivin’ fast in your neighborhood
Carve a pentagram in a tree down in the woods!
Nothing could touch us on the other side”
Lionlimb – “Loveland Pass” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Angel Olsen, Darren Jessee, Sam Evian
Stewart Bronaugh may be more recognizable for his contributions as guitarist for Angel Olsen. However, his own songwriting outlet, Lionlimb unleashes a much more raw and diverse sound from Bronaugh. Ranging from gooey psychedelia heard on Shoo to more lush performances on Tape Recorder, Lionlimb’s first two albums offer so much to listeners.
It’s exciting to hear that Lionlimb are gearing up to release their third record, Spiral Groove. Bronaugh and longtime collaborators Joshua Jaeger and Jonathan Sumner worked on the record just before Covid shut things down. A one-two punch as the record was written as Bronaugh recovered from neck surgery. Both events led to Bronaugh taking his time and perfecting the record in a way that would otherwise have been impossible.
The first single from Spiral Groove is “Loveland Pass”. The song builds on the sounds on both of Lionlimb’s previous records. A wonderful layer of piano drives the track. About halfway through a tasty guitar lick comes in, as expected, but things really kick up in the final third where it gets a bit distorted, and the whole thing comes together beautifully. The name “Loveland Pass” refers to one of the highest mountain passes in Colorado, and the song uses that imagery as Bronaugh sings of the struggle with his injury, and panic attacks.
Spiral Groove will be out October 12th on Bayonet Records.
Jeremy Ivey – “All Kinds of Blue” (feat. Margo Price) (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Jason Isbell, Margo Price
Some people believe you should never mix business and pleasure. Clearly those people aren’t music fans who appreciate the magic that happens when spouses collaborate. While folks like Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires have been crooning together for a while, a lesser known Nashville power couple has new music that will surely steal their thunder. Jeremy Ivey teams up with his spouse Margo Price on an instant hit. If you’re under the mistaken impression that love songs are only effective as ballads, think again.
In a nutshell, “All Kinds of Blue” rocks. This hook-filled number finds Ivey conveying his love for Price as she harmonizes. The opening verse prompts instant smiles as he asks, “Do you know how many times I’ve dreamt of you? Five million, two hundred thousand, five hundred and sixty two.” A later verse about Jesus getting a face tattoo got a hearty laugh from folk legend John Prine who heard the song before his passing last year.
“All Kinds of Blue” is the first new music Ivey has shared this year. In February he released The Monolith Sessions, an EP of five songs from his 2020 album Waiting Out the Storm that were recorded live at The 5 Spot in Nashville.
Japanese Breakfast – “Glider” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Japanese Breakfast, Lala Lala, Björk
2021 is undeniably the year of Michelle Zauner. Her memoir, Crying in H Mart became a New York Times best seller. Her latest record as Japanese Breakfast, Jubilee, was a celebration of everything the songwriter has accomplished, and a shedding of the grief that defined so much of her earlier work. It marked the arrival of Japanese Breakfast as one of the most important bands on the scene. Union Transfer, a Philly music venue where she worked years ago, even named the coat check after her. Well, you can now add a video game soundtrack to the list of accomplishments for Zauner this year.
Even with the early bleeps and bloops, video game music has become more than just something to come along with a video game. From licensed soundtracks, to original scores, to creating some of the most iconic music of their generation, music has become such a big part of video gaming, and we even did a Mundo list years back of some of our favorites. Last year, it was announced that Japanese Breakfast was going to create an all-original score for an upcoming independent adventure game, Sable, developed by Shedworks.
The latest song to be released from the soundtrack is “Glider”. On the surface, it’s a gorgeous track, much like some of Japanese Breakfast’s best. Zauner’s voice over some minimalist electronics set the mood perfectly. There are some amazing moments with percussive vocal sampling, which are reminiscent of Soft Sounds from Another Planet. It fits the setting of Sable well, described as “traversing vast deserts and landscapes”, there’s a sense of wonder throughout “Glider”. Both the game and soundtrack are shaping up to be stunning works of art.
“Come in to me, show us the way
I’m caught between the wind and parts of the unknown
A door between two worlds
A sight to see”
You can pre-save the Sable soundtrack here. The game will be available for PC, Xbox, and MacOS on September 23, 2021.
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