Through sobering times, the nine songs on The Matinee ’21 v. 134 tackle love, life, and death, and the accompanying emotional roller coaster in extraordinary ways.
Patchwork Guilt / Phoenix Mundy– “Save It For the Parade” (Liverpool/Bristol, England)
RIYL: Fenne Lily, Laura Marling, Oh Pep!
Whether using her own name or the moniker Patchwork Guilt, Phoenix Mundy has shown over her five-plus years the ability to turn intimacy into a blissful experience with her dreamy alt-pop. Her songs often are either breathtaking or exhilarating, leaving one in a serene mood. They can also be both, which she displays on “Save It For the Parade”.
Mundy’s latest single is an endearing lullaby turned into a riveting and alluring piece of cinema. It starts off delicate and calm, reflecting the innocent love of two people. The song gradually begins to intensity and grows in mystery, and it quietly turns into a late-night, cinematic escapade. As the dissonant guitars and the probing bass take a more prominent role, Mundy’s wonderfully smokey vocal turns from innocent to introspective and concerning. “Do you see what I see? / Lately I’ve been trying / But I feel so faking / Bored and inspired”, she opens up to her partner. Her words are the realization that all good things do have an end. It’s just a matter of when does one finally let go.
Stream and save the song at these links and support this gifted, young artist.
The Sweet Serenades – “Go Go Go (Forever Young)” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Future Islands, M83, John Grant
Can dancing alleviate sadness? Absolutely, and “Go Go Go (Forever Young”), the newest single from Swedish indie duo The Sweet Serenades will remove all doubts. While the song is inspired by the sudden loss of frontman Martin Nordvall’s father, it is full of joy.
Anyone who has ever lost a loved one knows how grief can feel like a sword. It is an unwanted gift you must carry. At first it is heavy and cumbersome as you learn to handle it. But in time you are able to bear it because you become stronger. When you remember the person with loving memories, you grasp the sword by the hilt instead of the blade. That idea is at the heart of this moving tribute. As Nordvall sings “When I see you I see myself”, you hear that fondness and perspective. The song’s visual imagery – of “the ocean breeze and bright blue skies” – pairs so beautifully with the chorus:
“Go Go Go – don’t fall back, don’t slow down
Go Go Go – into the night, forever young”
We have loved The Sweet Serenades since 2016. They are equally adept at creating danceable synth-pop (“The Night Goes On”) and lush indie rock (“Runaway”). It is refreshing to hear them maintain their upbeat sound even through heartache. Their brand of sonic therapy is good for body and soul.
Ghostly Kisses – “Heaven, Wait” (Québec City, Canada)
RIYL: Rhye, Portishead, Haux
It’s hard to believe that Margaux Sauvé has yet to release a full-length album as Ghostly Kisses. The Québec City-based singer-songwriter and composer is one of the most prolific artists around, usually releasing a half-dozen to a dozen songs a year as individual singles or through EPs. Well, her long-waited debut LP is finally coming, where we will have the opportunity to get lost in her beautifully trembling songs for 40 minutes or more. Sauvé, however, provides a slight change-up with the LP’s title track, “Heaven, Wait”.
Whereas most of her previous singles possessed a knee-buckling vulnerability, an optimism rings through “Heaven, Wait”. The orchestration is slightly more upbeat, as a beautiful piano arrangement is complemented by trip-hop and folktronica beats and effects. Sauvé’s lite and haunting voice, too, brims with the quiet excitement of a woman falling in love all over again. Doubt does linger in her heart, but deep down she knows the other person feels the same. She knows it to be true.
“In every way
You’re in my heart
You make me feel like
We were never apart
Margaux’s aptly-titled debut album, Ghostly Kisses, will be released January 21, 2022 on Akira Records. The new year cannot arrive soon enough.
Desert Liminal – “Watercolor” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: Beach House, Wye Oak, Womb
Nearly three years ago, we were left pondering why we had not heard of Desert Liminal before. With their self-described “genre-evasive minimalism”, the then-duo of vocalist and keyboardist Sarah Jane Quillin and drummer Rob Logan had us mesmerized with “Pipedream”. With the addition of violinist Mallory Linehan, “minimalist” may no longer apply, but the band’s music is still beyond characterization. And it still possesses the “Wow” factor, but very quietly uttered due to its stunning serenity as depicted on “Watercolor”.
Stark, mysterious, yet breathtaking, Desert Liminal have crafted a song that is beautifully surreal. Linehan’s violin adds a mournful quality to the dark, Gothic dreaminess that emerges from Quillin’s distant voice, her pacing keys, and Logan’s stuttering rhythms. It’s like taking one final breath before submerging into the depths of an abyss and not knowing whether we will return. This trench, however, exists not in any ocean nor sea but in our everyday surroundings and in our daily dreams to escape the chaos.
“If you can swallow the madness
Be apart, a part of some
Wore your shoes to bed
In case the Christ should care to come
For that comet ride
The starfield dip and the starfield bend to twirl
Born homesick for some other world”
Desert Liminal again are: Sarah Jane Quillin (vocals, keys), Rob Logan (drums), and Mallory Linehan (violin). Their new album, Glass Fate, will be released this Friday, October 1st on Whited Sepulchre Records. Pre-orders available on Bandcamp.
Liily – “Anvil” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: The Besnard Lakes, Fontaines D.C., A Place To Bury Strangers
When we called 2020 the year of post-punk, established bands like Fontaines D.C. and Bambara were at the forefront of the movement. This year equally has been a stellar one for the genre, but this time around a wave of young, brilliant artists and bands are leading the way. On the US’s East Coast, Geese and Gustaf are the leaders, while out west Liily is the band creating waves.
The quartet of 22-year olds – Maxx Morando (drums), Sam De La Torre (guitar), Charlie Anastasis (bass), and Dylan Nash (lead vocals) – have already delivered three propulsive singles with the ferocious “I Am Who I Think You Think I Am”, the electrifying “Odds Are It’s Blue”, and the piercing “Early Bopper”. For the fourth and final single to be released in advanced of their new LP, TV or Not TV, the LA-based outfit head towards melancholic waters with “Anvil”.
This stark, brooding number is the brilliant marriage of post-punk and shoegaze. It recalls the youthful days of A Place To Bury Strangers, who during their live shows would unexpectedly enter into crushing dreamgaze after unleashing fire and fury for the first 20 minutes. For nearly 4 1/2 minutes, Liily methodically weave a startling yet intricate vortex of bone-jarring noise. “I’ve made my death bed a lifetime too short / I like my hands on the steering wheel, already on course”, Nash sings in the tracks opening minute. This sets the stage for what is to come, which is a man completely devoured within the presence of another. “I like it when you get away / It’s left me with another stain”, he cries out while trying to find comfort within the pain. Eventually, the pain overwhelms him, leaving him to succumb to the experience and his fate. We, too, succumb to the power of Liily.
Girl As Wave – “Other Side” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Nite Jewel, Cold Beat, Broadcast
If we could go back in time and re-live an era, it would likely be the mid- to late-’70s. That was the time when the inventive underground music scene was born. If we only had a time machine or a Delorean with Doc Brown, maybe we could go back to the future (that time period was literally futuristic). Alas, we are in 2021, and we can only imagine what it was like to see Joy Division, Kraftwerk, and Siouxsie and The Banshees perform. We can also listen to artists, such Girls As Wave, allowing their music to transport us.
Since Marci Elizabeth introduced herself back in 2016 with “Polaroid” and returned earlier this year with the hypnotic “Second Thoughts”, she has become our time warp. With “Other Side”, she takes us exactly to where we want to be. She takes us to the basements of Berlin, London, and her current hometown of New York City, where post-punk and electronica are fused together to create what we know now as krautrock and cold wave.
Glistening synths are sewn within the post-punk fabric that is highlighted by the dissonant guitar and the pulsing bass and 808s. The only illuminating element is Elizabeth’s voice, who asks, “Will they break us down?”, referring to the beings who live on the other side of the wall. These entities could be the demons in our minds or the people who choose to control us. While we shall not yield to such powers, we will allow Girl As Wave to momentarily take us away – far, far away.
Elizabeth’s new EP, All The Noises And The Echoes, is out now and can be streamed on Spotify.
Matt Maltese – “Good Morning” (London, England)
RIYL: Belle & Sebastian, Kings of Convenience, Sam Evian
British-Canadian artist Matt Maltese is a star in the making, a fact that’s evident on his new single. The breezy warmth of “Good Morning” is irresistible, with the London-based artist serving up sun-kissed pop hooks that evoke Belle & Sebastian, Phoenix, and Kings of Convenience.
The richness here extends far beyond the music. Maltese is a skilled lyricist as well. Lines like “Armageddon is nothing compared to this” and “Heavy clouds and a chance of crying” give listeners plenty to ponder. That juxtaposition of wry lyrics makes the ’60s-era psychedelic pop-inspired music even sunnier. As he belts out “Keep pushing all your demons away” on the chorus, you cannot help but smile. “Good Morning” is the perfect soundtrack for our current transition into a new phase of vitality.
You also may wonder where this guy has been all your life. We are asking the same. Somehow we have missed his previous releases – his 2018 debut, Bad Contestant, and its 2019 follow-up, Krystal. Fortunately for new fans, Maltese’s upcoming third album, Good Morning It’s Now Tomorrow, arrives October 8th via Nettwerk Music.
Best Move – “Without You” (Sacramento, USA)
RIYL: Elliott Smith, Andy Shauf, Cass McCombs
Practically every person has lost someone dear over the past 20 months. In some cases, we weren’t able to be physically next to them as they drew their final breath. There is nothing easy in saying goodbye to someone no matter their age and cause of death. While we mourn, we can also do things to acknowledge their time with us and the legacy they have left. In the case of Best Move, they remember the loved ones they’ve lost in the one way they know best – immortalizing them in a song.
“Without You” is reminiscent of Elliott Smith’s tranquil intimacy and Andy Shauf’s vivid songwriting. Like both of these great artists, the trio of Kris Anaya, Joseph Davancens, and Fernando Olivia deliver a song that is full of warmth, beauty, and quiet emotion. Within the track’s dreamy complexion lies a mournful, sombre tone, as Anaya describes how he is “a wreck most nights”. He lies awake in his bed, unable to shake the image and the presence of someone or something (a pet, for instance) that has been beside him all these years. Eventually, however, we learn to move on, and a song like “Without You” will help us get there.
Christine and the Queens – “Freedom” (Paris, France)
RIYL: George Michael
We normally don’t share cover songs. But the spectacular performance of “Freedom” by Christine and the Queens last weekend at the Global Citizen Live concert warrants an exception.
It takes an extraordinary talent to do justice to any song from George Michael, especially this 1990 classic. Christine (née Héloïse Adélaïde Letissier) meets and surpasses that challenge here. The stage in Paris was the perfect setting for their showstopper rendition. Between the strong vocals and swagger on par with George himself, what’s not to love? It’s a safe bet that some in the audience may have heard the song for the first time. Who better to honor one legend than a fellow superstar?
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