The Matinee ’21 v. 129 edition is like a storm, as the nine songs can overwhelm, revitalize, roar with fury, and leave all those in their wake in awe. Familiar names occupy the mini-playlist, including the return of one of Scandinavia’s great indie bands.
Makthaverskan – “This Time” (Gothenburg, Sweden)
RIYL: Westkust, Cocteau Twins, Agent blå,
Four years have passed since Sweden dreamgaze/post-punk greats Makthaverskan released their superb third album, III. The LP showcased the quintet’s ability to make songs that are exhilarating yet spine-tingling and breathtaking. Their music has been the soundtrack to a now-ageing generation’s lives, and now a younger generation gets to call Makthaverskan their own. It begins with the appropriately titled “This Time”.
The song is a wonderful representation of the quartet’s soaring euphoria that embraces every element of one’s soul and tightens with each shimmering guitar chord, each rhythmic stroke, and every word sung by front-woman Maja Milner. Their grasp, though, is comforting, and it gives us the belief that we have someone watching our backs. We, as such, can turn the page, rush forward, and escape the shackles of our lives. We can feel renewed, rejuvenated, and reborn, much like this band.
“Self hate oh self hate
I failed it again
Look out what we became
Now nothing is the same”
Makthaverskan are: vocalist Maja Milner, guitarists Hugo Randulv and Per Svensson, drummer Andreas “Palle” Wettmark, and bassist Irma Krook. Their new album, För Allting, releases November 12th via Run For Cover Records. Pre-orders are available on Bandcamp. We cannot wait!
Still Corners – “Heavy Days” (London, England)
RIYL: Widowspeak, Chromatics, Cults
In January, Tessa Murray and Greg Hughes – a.k.a. Still Corners – delivered one of 2021’s standout album’s The Last Exit, which could be the soundtrack to our daydreams. As a pandemic limited their ability to broadly promote and tour in support of the LP, they used their time to write and record more music. But now that more borders are opening, the duo will go on a tour. As a result, we get the best of both worlds – new music and live shows! A song we will surely get to hear – and it just so happens to be made for concerts – is “Heavy Days”.
Whereas Still Corners have developed a reputation for transcendent and dreamy psych-pop, they ratchet up the intensity on “Heavy Days”, which is yet another extraordinary piece of dream-pop. A chugging bass line and radiant dabbles of the keys drive the track, filling the air with an overwhelming a sense of urgency. It’s as if we’re racing down Route 66, running away from the events of the not-so-distant past. As Hughes’ crystalline guitar illuminates the atmosphere, it offers an indication that the end is near. But is this our final destination? Murray’s stirring, angelic voice tells us now is not the time. We instead have somebody to save.
“The news is grim, it’s always the same
Gotta turn it off to stay sane
I’m on my way
You got nothing to say
But your eyes are telling me to stay”
Marissa Nadler – “If I Could Breathe Underwater” (Boston, USA)
RIYL: Weyes Blood, Julia Holter, Julianna Barwick
Last month, Marissa Nadler released the gripping “Bessie Did You Make It”. Much of Nadler’s music is just that, gripping. The way she can create truly beautiful songs that can stop anyone in their tracks. The honesty and emotion conveyed are match by very few songwriters. During the pandemic, it came out that Nadler binge-watched Unsolved Mysteries and drew parallels to her life, and that inspired her upcoming record, The Path of the Clouds.
Nadler has just shared “If I Could Breathe Underwater”, another single from The Path of the Clouds. Lush harmonies and a perfectly haunting guitar line create a feeling on the track that is nothing short of ethereal. An underlying layer of harp from Mary Lattimore adds to the surreal and dreamlike feeling that permeates throughout the track. Lyrically, Nadler was inspired by the idea of superpowers and connected them to moments of her life. The whole thing comes together to be something beautiful and cinematic, as if it was made for the Academy Award-winning film, Shape of Water. It sounds like something right out of a supernatural thriller and that sounds like exactly what Nadler was going for.
Sam Evian – “Time to Melt” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Cass McCombs, Kevin Morby, Woods
Sam Evian is easy to love. This is both a fact and a reference to his songwriting. Next month, the New York-based artist will release Time to Melt, his first album as a Fat Possum signee. The initial single he shared from that LP – the glam-rock gem “Easy to Love” – hinted of better things on the horizon. Little did we know those things included sylvan alien dance parties.
Indeed, the title track serves up delightful sonic mayhem. With its woozy, gently psychedelic tones, “Time to Melt” flows like hot wax in your veins as the opening verse states. We all understand the need to escape reality for a while, and this song provides the perfect soundtrack. Fans who loved the psychedelic-folk fairytale adventures of his 2018 album, You, Forever, have much to celebrate here. Everything about this tune is irresistible, musically and lyrically:
“If disappearing is a game
Sign me up and melt away”
Breathe Panel – “Stretch” (London & Brighton, UK)
RIYL: Real Estate, Pond, Volcano Choir
Last month the British indie band Breathe Panel delivered a deliciously sun-kissed gem in “Love You I Love You.” Their new LP, Lets It In, is out now, and they have shared another must-hear tune from the album.
“Stretch” showcases the talents of Nick Green (vocals, guitar), Josh Tyler (guitar), Alex Turner (bass), and Benjamin Reeves (drums). This tune flutters around your headspace, soft as a breeze and infused with warm, ’60s psychedelic dream pop tones. Escapism this enjoyable usually requires taking a seaside holiday, but Breathe Panel provide the benefits without the cost. There’s an undeniable magic created here by the quartet. They maintain a breezy momentum that’s refreshing from start to finish. Just because summer is nearly gone doesn’t mean you can’t still bask in its carefree glow. Keep “Stretch” on repeat when you need a boost or a reminder of halcyon days.
illuminati hotties – “Threatening Each Other re: Capitalism” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Ratboys, Soccer Mommy, Oddnesse
Sarah Tudzin has injected some unique energy into a genre where it was much needed when she launched her project illuminati hotties. Her pop-punk infused stylings mixed with her observational singer-songwriter helped her project stand out among similar bands. Recently-released songs – the unpretentious infectiousness of “Pool Hopping” and the amusing love story of “u v v p” – revealed Tudzin’s talent and knack for finding humor in everyday life. Her latest single is no different.
You can tell exactly what kind of band illuminati hotties are right from the title of their latest single, “Threatening Each Other re: Capitalism”. It’s a mouthful but it’s a fun title, and the song itself makes a statement. The single is about how Capitalism continues to divide and thrive off of everyday people, who fight for or against it, while others watch and profit. While it’s a serious topic, Tudzin does infuse quite a bit of humor through her quirky observations. From trying e-weed to weird things at the corner store, it’s hard not to laugh at thdde absurdity of the imagery. While it’s absurd, it’s real and there are plenty to relate to in the song’s lyrics. It’s all wrapped together in a more laid-back and melancholic sound than previous illuminati hotties’ tracks, but it’s absolutely hits a sweet spot.
“I’m getting tricked into
and layaway plans financing my life
my mouth is dry”
TV Priest – “Lifesize” (London, England)
RIYL: IDLES, Iceage, Protomartyr
If 2021 seems like it’s been a blur, then you may have missed one of the great debut albums of the year in Uppers. TV Priest‘s record was not only sonically explosive, but it featured some of the best songwriting this side of Bob Dylan. This should not be surprising because out of all the genres in music, post-punk features arguably the finest songwriters in the business. Front-man and principal songwriter Charlie Drinkwater is right up there with the likes of Elias Bender Rønnenfelt (Iceage), Joe Talbot (IDLES), Charlie Steen (Shame), and Joe K.B. Casey (Protomartyr). There is not a topic off-limits for Drinkwater (vocals), Alex Sprogis (guitar), Nic Smith (bass, keys), and Ed Kelland (drums), and they prove that again with “Lifesize”.
Right off the bat the quartet draws you with Smith’s heavy bass and Kelland’s jittery drumming. As Sprogis’ guitar growls, Drinkwater focuses his aim on a man born with a silver spoon in his mouth and thinks he’s bigger and better than everyone else. “He talks like a salesman, walks like the Pope”, Drinkwater describes this hedonistic tyrant, who rules a place where “justice is cruelty… and wisdom is fear”. This person sounds like someone we all know – or many persons we know. TV Priest, though, find the perfect words to describe him and what we’re thinking on this awesome banger.
Spirit Was – “Come Back Up to the House” (New York, USA)
RIYL: LVL UP, Link Wray, Steve Miller (with some sweet distortion)
LVL UP should go down in history as one of New York’s most significant bands, especially of the 2010s. The collective of three songwriters created some amazing records, and it felt like they’d turn up at practically any gig in the city. In 2018, LVL UP split up, and the three creative forces went their own separate ways. Dave Benton releases music as Trace Mountains; Mike Caridi is the force behind The Glow; and Nick Corbo releases his music as Spirit Was. Spirit Was doesn’t necessarily feel like a successor to the LVL UP sound but an evolution beyond. From the early singles released in 2018, there was a rawness to it that was dialed up for Corbo. Earlier this year, he released “I Saw the Wheel”, which was full of heavy moments, including an intense finale.
Spirit Was’ latest single, “Come Back Up to the House”, doesn’t quite get that intense, but it has a layer of distortion underneath the whole song. It toes the line of bubbling over, but it never quite gets there, as the vocal harmonies of Z Santos (Crying) and Rashaad Jones’ cello keep the song at bay. It’s a fantastic whirlwind of a song, and never stays in the same place too long. Despite the distortion, the melodies wander into pop territory, especially in the chorus. Its verses full of guitar chime, before slamming back into that distortion. In the song’s final moments, it has a huge rock ‘n roll ending, with Corbo repeating “there is a light that won’t go out” as a guitar solo launches into the stratosphere.
Reb Fountain – “Foxbright” (Auckland, New Zealand)
RIYL: The Weather Station, Bess Atwell, Weyes Blood
For many people, they reach a point in their lives where something clicks. They will have an epiphany of some form, where they realize they should either be doing something different or discover their purpose. For American-born, New Zealand-based Reb Fountain, her 2020 self-titled album was the moment where everything changed. While she has been known within the tight music community as one of the country’s great songwriters, her talents became more widely celebrated and acknowledged as she broaden her musical palette. She adopted a widescreen approach that gave her stories a cinematic quality. In turn, listeners become part of the tale, as we do on “Foxbright”.
A lightly finger-plucked guitar, a delicate piano, a gentle rhythm section, and a few strings form a gorgeously brooding atmosphere. It feels like we’re witnessing the arrival of a slow-moving storm, whose darkness and oncoming power are awe-inspiring. But instead of rolling thunder and sheets of lightning, the only thing that lashes out is Fountain’s brilliant songwriting. Through her serene delivery, she describes the paralyzing effect one person can have another. How one’s storm can overpower another.
“Heart so fast it’s just one beat
Mind so lost it’s a one way street
I used to be good at running free
Well, you can’t catch me”
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