From chasing dreams to finding an equilibrium to submerging into oblivion, experience a tidal wave of emotions with the eight songs on The Matinee ’21 v. 137. These tunes kick off our Songs of October 2021 playlist. Give them a follow on SoundCloud and Spotify, as more tracks will be added over the next three-plus weeks.
Number One Popstar– “TV” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: IAN SWEET, Sad13, MARINA
P Diddy was rolling in the Benjamins while Kate Howell – a.k.a. Number One Popstar – bathes in… milk, cereal, and baked beans on her video for “TV”? While we’re not quite sure what brands are used, the video showcases Howell’s imagination and self-deprecating self-humor. These traits partially explain why Johnny Jewel’s Italians Do It Better label signed the young artist, who also moonlights as the lead singer of LA punk band Slut Island. And of course Howell has talent, as a musician, composer, and songwriter.
On “TV, Howell at first channels her inner ’80s pop star, delivering a bubbly, synth-driven number. As 808s bounce behind the upbeat melody Howell shares her childhood dream about being famous like her friends. She seeks to not only be known around the world but to be valued. “I just want to be somebody / I don’t want to be nobody”, she opens up. As much as she tries to breakthrough, she’s stuck in the same position. To get peoples’ attention she might have to resort to shock-and-awe, hence a video of her being doused in processed food and playing a ripping a guitar solo in the process. But if Howell continues to write clever songs, she will end up being famous.
Number One Popstar’s debut album expected in 2022 or maybe sooner. Howell, after all, is unpredictable, and we love it.
second thoughts – “joyrider” (Hertfordshire, England)
RIYL: Bombay Bicycle Club, Hippo Campus, Yo La Tengo
We may as well say it now – English indie outfit second thoughts are ones to watch in 2022. This might be an odd thing to say since the four teens have huge followings on TikTok and Instagram. We’re not sure if their followers are similarly-aged individuals who gravitate to their throwback pop-rock sound or older folks crave nostalgia. Whatever the case may be, Jude Mccreath (vocal, guitar), Ben Campbell (vocal, guitar), Georgia Vermeiren (bass), and David Addison (drums) ooze talent. They could be their generation’s Yo La Tengo, igniting among young people a love affair for meaningful, engaging, and original music. The overly infectious, Brit-pop number “nicotine stains”, which was released in August, was just one example of their potential. And now they deliver another gem with “joyrider”.
A blustery and upbeat melody rings through the track. It’s the type of song that gets the patrons on their toes, bouncing, dancing, and shaking to the superbly jittery rhythms and the cool guitar riffs. All you want to do is bask in the throwback ’90s tones, taking in the band’s rejuvenating powers. Spin this song two or three more times, however, to fully appreciate their talent and listen closely to what Mccreath has to say. Despite his youthful age, he shares how we’ve become way too comfortable with the mundane. For him, though, he desires more. He desires to be in control of his own destiny, yet he cannot step out of his comfort zone.
“I’m in the backseat of the car you’re driving
And I realise how we’ve done this before
Makes me wanna stop and open the door
I guess it’s fine for things to be this way
‘Cause I’ve used up the best things to say
Don’t think this can go on for long
But please prove me wrong”
second thoughts’ upcoming EP, dog days, is expected soon. As we said in August, expect to see this young quartet’s name plastered on festival posters in 2022. They’re a sure bet for Reading, Leeds, and maybe even Glastonbury.
bdrmm – “port” (Hull & Leeds, England)
RIYL: Nine Inch Nails, Gothika, SUUNS
A year ago, bdrmm turned shoegaze into a feverish enterprise on their debut album, Bedroom. It was one of 2020’s best debut albums, and a strong case could be made to say it was one of THE very best LPs. It showcased not just a young band understanding who they are, but a band whose members understood the rich yet dark history of their neighborhoods and cities. After such a fantastic first effort, where do Ryan Smith (vocals/guitar), Jordan Smith (bass), Joe Vickers (guitar), Daniel Hull (synth/backing vocals), and Aaron Moreton (drums) turn? Do they continue down the path of electrifying shoegaze or head into a whole different direction? The answers are unclear at this moment, but their newest single might give an indication.
“port” is in a word incredible. It is Amnesia-era Radiohead in a death spiral, and Nine Inch Nails at the peak of their industrial Gothic-ness. It is sonic oblivion served up in an extremely stark yet hypnotic form. The song’s start is crippling patience with a guttural bass line throbbing before a lightly searing guitar and the low hum of an eerie synth. Smith’s voice, meanwhile, resembles a man on the verge of falling into the abyss of no return. “I don’t know about you / I’m sure you know about me”, he whispers as if he has met his maker or something even more sinister. As the song builds, his voice rises and expresses, “We are one!” Then the song reaches another level of unspeakable devastation, which one must hear to believe.
The single is out on Sonic Cathedral. It’s a Song-of-the-Year Candidate.
Air Devi – “Lint of a Masterpiece” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Snail Mail, The Ophelias, Fazerdaze
At the trajectory that Devi Majeske is taking her project Air Devi, people might start putting her name alongside Frances Quinlan, Kurt Vile, and Adam Granduciel as one of Philadelphia’s great singer-songwriters. This year alone she has already recent two attention-grabbing singles in the lush “mosquitos in the backyard” and the classic indie-rocker, “Shaky”. Even if for some reason Majeske’s career as a singer-songwriter stalls, she will likely succeed in another industry and sector. She is a recently graduate of Ivy League institution the University of Pennsylvania, and she’s a multi-instrumentalist, playing the violin, guitar, bass, keys, and recently picked up the sitar. This gives the south Philly artist many options, but hopefully things will break her way so we can hear more songs like “Lint of a Masterpiece”.
While it is October, “Lint of a Masterpiece” has an air of spring with its warm, gentle tones and melodic dreaminess. Adding to the effect is the abbreviated sitar solo that momentarily transports us to another place. Just as we settle into the sweltering lushness, Majeske and her bandmates turn up the intensity, ending the track with a little rocking outro. It’s not overdone, but the surge of guitars and rhythms accentuate Majeske’s tale that is both a tribute to someone who has left too soon and an acknowledgement of how the chaos can be suffocating.
“If you weren’t so busy dying for a living / If you weren’t so busy trying to scare me away / You could’ve really been something great”, she shares midway through the track. As the turmoil unravels, she hollers in the end, “I gotta get out of here / I gotta get out of here!” It’s her way of finding her own way, understanding that she needs to escape to find her own greatness.
The young woman has the makings to be an indie star.
Lucas Aaron – “She’s Gone (feat. Diamond Hands)” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Ty Segall, Jacco Gardner
Swagger for days: this is one way to describe the new single from Los Angeles indie artist Lucas Aaron. The vintage psychedelic tones of “She’s Gone” will transform your mood from blah to badass in three minutes. Actually, that’s a timing error: that transformation is immediate thanks to the intro’s tight hooks.
The energy in Aaron’s execution of the opening riff is undeniable. The one-two punch of bass line and guitar paired with infectious percussion sets the tone. If you aren’t already hooked by then, you certainly will be once the vocals emerge. These heady layers of trippy, reverb-heavy indie rock evoke Ty Segall and Psychedelic Porn Crumpets one moment and The Black Keys the next. This is a song to be played at max volume and on repeat.
Get to know Lucas Aaron now. If this song is any indication, this talented multi-hyphenate (singer-songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist) has a bright future.
Corridor – “Et Hop” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: OMNI, Parquet Courts, Kiwi Jr.
Summer may be over, but you can still escape into sun-kissed warmth on the latest from Montreal psych-rock outfit Corridor. The Québécois band’s fusion of post-punk and shoegaze gives “Et Hop” its cosmic, irresistible allure. Every note is mesmerizing.
The song is the first new music since the release of their 2019 album, Junior. Originally recorded during the sessions for their sophomore album, Supermercado, “Et Hop” is being shared now to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the student-run radio station CISM at the University of Montreal.
Corridor – the first Francophone group ever signed to famed indie label Sub Pop – announced upcoming tour dates in addition to this single. The first show is November 19th in Montreal.
Corridor are: Jonathan Robert (vocals/guitar), Julian Perreault (guitar), Dominic Berthiaume (bass), and Julien Bakvis (drums).
JRK – “Grandpa” (Portland, USA)
RIYL: Wolf Parade + Chad VanGaalen + Moonface
We’re going to take a moment here and applaud all the individuals who create songs as a hobby and then take a leap of faith and share their music to a bunch of strangers. More often than not, they’ll be told the curators are not interested, assuming they receive a response at all. As the current music world is saturated with songs, standing out from the crowd is difficult. There are ways, though, such as writing an imaginative story and thinking outside the box musically. This is what JRK has done with “Grandpa”.
First, we must share a bit about Rick Klaras, who is the project’s mastermind. The Portland-based artist lives and breathes music. It’s not just his way of life – he’s a composer, sound editor, music teacher, and offers guitar lessons (see his Twitter handle) – but his wife and two children are also musicians. As such, he’s exposed to all sorts of music, and he brings some of these different influences on “Grandpa”.
The song is a whirlwind of sound, melding Wolf Parade-like indie rock, synthwave, and even prog-rock. Yeah, the recording is a little rough around the edges, but the song was recorded in the Klarases’ basement. But the home production gives the track a zany, raw quality that perfectly matches the whimsical storyline. The track focuses on Grandpa being transported to the 22nd Century and loving it. His ways are dated, which makes him “a dangerous man”. But all he want to do is live. Don’t we all.
The song is taken from JRK’s eponymous new album, which is available on Bandcamp.
Furrows – “Wasteland” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Belle & Sebastian, Sufjan Stevens, Efterklang, Tunng
A few weeks ago Brooklyn-based outfit Furrows did a rare thing. They made us think of all the great indie movies with “Grey Cities”, which felt like a sprawling fever dream. It’s one thing to make a song fit for a John Hughes movie, but it takes another level of talent to craft a tune perfect for a film by Spike Jonze or Wes Anderson. The band demonstrates once again their indie traits with “Wasteland”.
This dreamy yet trippy number would have been perfect in Being John Malkovich or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. A beautiful haziness emerges from the start with frontman Peter Wagner’s whispery falsetto floating through the tranquil melody. The entire arrangement is something to behold and be swept in, much like how Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslett) and Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) attempt to reignite their love. In this fantasy story inspired by a T.S Eliot poem of the same name, Wagner tells a post-apocalyptic tale set in the Middle Ages. It is part Orwellian and another part Arthurian. He wanders inside the mind of a knight or a straw man, who sees his king wreaking death and destruction on his people. What will this straw man do?
“Waking alone at your hour of need
Pray to a stone your stuffed like a straw man
Hiding his eyes as the hour arrives
Shedding your crow-skin disguise”
This song is a master class in not just songwriting but storytelling. It is something to behold.
Furrows’ new album, Fisher King, is due October 15th. The band includes: Peter Wagner (vocals, guitars, keys, bass, electronics), Sahil Ansari (engineering, production, percussion), and Jon Nellen (drums).
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