The Matinee ’21 v. 144 is like walking into an art gallery, where every turn leads to something unique and, thus, unforgettable. From great beauty to soaring rockers to jaw-dropping moments, these nine songs are unforgettable. Find more artistic numbers on the Songs of October 2021 playlist, which can be found on SoundCloud and Spotify.

 

Dahlia Sleeps – “Close Your Eyes” (London, England)

RIYL: London Grammar, Phoria, Ghostly Kisses

Yesterday, Lucy Hill and Luke Hester, the masterminds behind Dahlia Sleeps, shared Side A of their debut album, Overflow. The approach is unique as most bands will want to unveil the entire LP, but the duo’s art is so beautifully cinematic and overwhelmingly stunning that releasing it in two parts is a very wise decision. This way, listeners can drown within the knee-buckling quality of the first six songs, including “Divided”, “Too Good To Hide”, and the first half’s heartbeat, “Close Your Eyes”.

Like everything they’ve done since forming in 2015, “Close Your Eyes” is breathtaking. Its power lies in the delicate precision of the pair’s orchestration, where every beat, synth, and effect is not just heard but felt. The subtle changes in tempo and urgency add to the song’s impact, where you hardly notice when the tranquil waters turn dark and begin to surge. As the song rises, experience reaches ethereal heights. All the while, Hill’s intoxicating voice grabs hold like a parachute, allowing us to float lightly towards our destination. As we hover, we can do as she says, which is to close our eyes and to be brave. To face the tormentors and haters who seek to harm people who are “different”, whether due to the race, sexuality, gender, religion, etc. “No, I won’t give it all just to crawl, just to find that I’m not enough”, she lushly yet desperately sings.

And no, Hill won’t crawl for anyone. Rather, we are the ones on our knees, succumbing to the engrossing power that is Dahlia Sleeps.

Side A of Overflow is available everywhere, including Bandcamp. Side B drops early in 2022. We cannot wait to hear the rest, at which time we’ll review the entire album.

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Constant Smiles – “Daisy, Table for Three” (Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA)

RIYL: Chris Cohen, Olden Yok, Jesse Marchant

All secrets eventually must be revealed. Sometimes it takes an honest admission, while in many instances the person needs to be encouraged to share their deepest emotions. In either situation, a confidante must be present. For a dozen years, Constant Smiles was nothing more than a secret and maybe even a rumor. Established back in 2009 in a bedroom in Martha’s Vineyard, the band has evolved from a noise-rock duo to one that toes the edges of dream-rock. In this time, Constant Smiles’ composition has shifted, but one constant remains – Ben Jones. With his friends, Jones has self-released 15 albums, which is Ty Segall-level production. Finally, he and his band mates get to shine under the spotlight, as their sixteenth album will be released by indie giant Sacred Bones Records. And after hearing “Daisy, Table For Three”, two immediate thoughts might spring to mind.

With its delicate and dreamy soft-rock approach, the first reaction may be, “How did it take so long for Constant Smiles to be discovered?” With the light pattering of the drums, the lovely mourning of the cello, and the deft strums of the guitar encircling Jones’ endearing voice, the track is stunning. Jones’ tale of undying love is familiar, but his words are tender and heartfelt. “I won’t ever leave you again”, he coolly yet desperately sings to the person he may have hurt. His words are ones we know all too well, but they are said with incredible beauty and emotion.

As the song reaches its conclusion and we’re left pondering the two protagonists’ fate, we realize what a gem Constant Smiles are. We then seek to learn when their new album, Paragons, will be released, which is November 12th. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available here and directly on Bandcamp. By then, Jones and his friends will no longer be a secret nor even a rumor.

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Nation of Language – “The Grey Commute” (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: early New Order and Depeche Mode, Prefab Sprout

With a long-awaited tour finally underway, one of the great albums of the 21st Century in Introduction, Presence, and what is shaping up to be one the 2021’s standout LPs, Nation of Language‘s name will be plastered on year-end lists with words like “New”, “Discovery”, “Breakout”, and “Newcomers”. Forget all those descriptors; only one is needed and that is “BEST”. Aidan Noéll (synth), Michael Sue-Poi (bass, guitar), and Ian Devaney (vocal, synth) form the best band of the past two years. Period. Yes, A Way Forward is still two weeks away from dropping, but singles “Wounds of Love”“A Fractured Mind”, “Across that Fine Line”, and “A Word & A Wave” are nothing short of amazing. And the fifth tune from this highly-anticipated album is another masterpiece.

Only one word is needed to describe “The Grey Commute” and that is “WOW!” Just when you think the Brooklyn-based trio could not possibly make retro synth-pop any more exhilarating, they find a way to amaze. It starts with Noéll’s synths, on which one sizzles with the sounds of the ’80s and another blast organ-like notes. Then there is the surprise – a shoegaze guitar that at first trembles lightly in the background and then illuminates the sky at the song’s euphoric peak. All the while, Devaney’s booming baritone soars, delivering a tale of the crushing effects of the modern world.

“Broken hands,
Begging at the altar of the grey commute
So much so, its untenable
Broken hands,
Praying to see if there’s someone to remove
Some of the weight
We can’t carry it

For tens of thousands of fans, including us, we seek to be crushed by this great band, who deliver time and time again.

The new album arrives November 3rd via Play It Again Sam. Pre-orders are available on Bandcamp.

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Eades – “Reno” (Leeds, England)

RIYL: Parquet Courts, Wavves, Gang of Four

Not long ago, author Hunter S. Thompson made us fear and loathing on the way to Las Vegas (which later was made into a movie starring Johnny Depp). The book was zany to put it lightly, but every great story deserves a sequel, right? While we cannot say for sure this is what English indie rockers Eades had in mind with “Reno”, this extremely amusing and whacked tune sure could be the follow-up to Thompson’s iconic novel.

As Harry Jordan (vocals and guitar), Tom O’Reilly (lead guitar), Dave Lancaster (bass), Dan Clifford-Smith (drums) and Lily Fontaine (synth, percussion, backing vocals) have shown time and time again, their latest single is bold and bombastic. The combination of ’80s post-punk and boisterous Brit-pop yields a tune made for long road trips. It’s the sonic equivalent of a couple of Red Bulls, raising our energy levels so we can keep our eyes on the road. On this expedition, however, what could go wrong does go wrong. The man they sing about could very well be the infamous Raoul Duke, who longs to free himself of his newfound yet mundane 9-t0-5 life. As he steps back into a life of recklessness akin to the days he spent with Dr. Gonzo, he encounters trouble, which is putting it mildly.

As the herky-jerky guitars ring loudly, the rhythms stutter in all directions, and the synths provide the anchor for the tune, the band holler out:

“Handcuffed with a smile, he was wired
Hitting his head on the frame of the door
I remember Dave asking questions
They used to live together on the 17th floor”

What happens next is left to our imagination. In the meantime, enjoy this amusing single on Heist or Hit.

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Anjimile – “Stranger” (North Carolina, USA)

RIYL: Sufjan Stevens, Told Slant, Vagabon

Looking back at some of the great albums of 2020, Anjimile’s Giver Taker may be one of the most notable. It was a fantastic record that was deeply personal and drew all kinds of influence, ranging from Sufjan Stevens to African pop music. After releasing Giver Taker, Anjimile collaborated with Jay Som, SASAMI, and Lomelda for new takes of songs from that record, on the orchestral Reunion.

A debut as powerful as Giver Taker is sure to gain attention. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s heard that record to learn that Anjimile was just signed to 4AD. With that announcement, Anjimile has released a new song, “Stranger”. Continuing themes from his debut record, Anjimile sings about the changes that come with embracing his trans identity. From the physical changes to the personal ones, he looks back and forward and sees a stranger. It’s a beautiful track with fingerpicked guitar, piano, and a bit of electronic drums making most of the instrumentals. 

Anjimile’s voice continues to be powerful, not in raw ability but in how his voice can convey emotion like few others. Towards the end, the song goes into some really fun territory with some horns. It’s a great track and a perfect introduction for 4AD’s newest artist.

“Stranger” is out now. You can stream/purchase it here.

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Mogli – “Echo” (Berlin, Germany)

RIYL: Nadine Shah, Miya Folick, Bats for Lashes

Anything is possible if one puts their heart, soul, and mind to it. Berlin-based artist Mogli is evidence of this, as with the support of just friends, colleagues, and fellow artists she’s been able to release one album and a film. And she did this at the age of 23. Now in her late 20s, Mogli is endeavouring to release another LP-and-movie combination, which is titled Ravage. The project is expected in the first quarter of 2022 and offering a taste of what to expect she shares “Echo”.

A dazzling yet gritty urgency teems through this melodic rocker. Dabbling synths, rumbling drums, and a dissonant guitar provide the darkness that clouds Mogli’s heart. “You don’t sing like you used to”, she calmly reflects on how a toxic relationship affected her. How the other person controlled her. She further reveals the tumultuous experience through the brilliant imagery depicted in the song. She later reveals, “I’m caged from the inside”, causing her to lose her voice and to become nothing more than an echo. And causing her to lose her mind in the process. There is, however, a resilience in her voice, where she refuses to stay down for long. This is what to expect from Ravage – a story of a woman who will not be stopped no matter the obstacles.

Here’s hoping that Mogli’s work will be featured not just on radio stations and blogs, but maybe even at a film festival like Cannes or Venice.

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Ruby Jones – “The Woman Who Loves You” (Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: The Weather Station, Feist, Wye Oak

We’ve often stated how indie music is in another golden era. More specifically, we’re in the midst of another wave of great singer-songwriters. Take a moment to look around, and you are likely to be immediately introduced to a dozen or more and each one with their own captivating quality. In the case of Ruby Jones, her striking voice, her intimate approach to indie-rock, and, of course, her vivid songwriting are what stand out. If Jones lived in Canada, she would be mentioned alongside Feist and The Weather Station. In the US, names like Sharon Van Etten, Lucy Dacus, and would likely be bandied about. In Australia, the former Clairy Browne & the Bangin Rackettes member is making a name all her own thanks to songs like “The Woman Who Love You”.

The track is classic-rock reinvented, reminiscent of the approach that Adam Granduciel and his project The War on Drugs have done over the past decade. A breezy warmth emanates from the soothing yet familiar arrangement, creating the feeling that we have been taken back to much simpler and more prosperous times. Despite the embracing soundscape, a chill is heard in Jones’ voice and lyrics. She recounts a relationship that sounds like it is happening in a post-apocalyptic time. The immediate lines are eye-popping cinematic:

“Jesus rode beside us but I’m on my own
Speedways, time zones darling you kept me hanging on
He set himself on fire
Tried to freeze me out
A self made pariah
It was all I could to shout”

Through a time that can only be described as a roller coaster, she finally breaks free from this ‘s, this being’s grasp. While she will love him, she knows her only to be truly free is to go out on her own. Jones is doing exactly this as an artist, leading to the November 12th release of her new album, The Woman Who Loves You. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.

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Bodega – “Doers” (New York City, USA)

RIYL: Dirty Projectors, Deerhunter, Pavement

Three years ago, indie-rock / post-punk outfit Bodega released Endless Scroll, which remains one of the most witty, engaging, and entertaining albums of the past five years. The LP was awesome and extremely pertinent to the times. This should not be surprising since the quintet are lyrical and musical historians, sociologists, and anthropologists. To show off what they can do in 2021, the band put their documentary and observatory talents to work on “Doers”.

Art-rock swirls, indie-rock grooves, and post-punk throbs collide on this catchy, off-kilter, little bopper. Musically, the track sounds like it was made for confidently strutting down Canal Street and Wall Street no matter one’s attire. It could be the anthem for the underdog, and in some ways it is. And in other ways, it is the antithesis. Front-person Ben Hozie utters every lyric with a boisterous and urgent delivery, as he describes the pressures to keep up and compete in the big city. Only those who can play by the city’s games can get out in front, which means being a follower rather than an innovator.

“Hemingway wrote: ‘Stop when you know where to go tomorrow but that was so long ago.’
We are living in the days of sorrow. We are living in the buy don’t borrow.
Hemingway wrote: ‘Relax when you know what to note tomorrow but that was so long ago.’
You’ll be living in the days of sorrow when I post my Kilimanjaro.

Baby its making me bitter, harder, fatter, stressed out.
Baby yr making me bitter, harder, fatter, stressed.
This city’s made for the doers, the movers, shakers, non-connoisseurs.
This city’s made for the doers, the humors, tubers, entrepreneurs.”

Ben Hozie, Nikki Belfiglio, Montana Simone, Heather Elle, and Madison Velding-VanDam, however, are not followers. They are musical geniuses. Their new album, Broken Equipment, will be unboxed on March 11, 2021 via What’s Your Rupture? Records. Pre-orders available here and directly on Bandcamp.

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Charlotte Spiral – “Suddenly” (London, England)

RIYL: Julie Byrne, Tiny Ruins, Marissa Nadler

When we first heard Charlotte Spiral, we were taken aback by their enchanting “New Light”.  The duo of Amy Spencer and Avi Barath create stunning, cinematic, and spellbinding music. The duo take their name from a figure skating pose, and also find inspiration in old, black-and-white figure skating videos. It’s no surprise such a beautiful sport could inspire such beautiful music.

Their latest single, “Suddenly”, is as gorgeous as anything the duo have released so far. The track was written after a trip to London gave the duo a feeling of hope. Starting with just vocals and piano, as expected, it slowly builds from there. The vocals get more urgent, and the piano gets a little heavier. Guitar and strings join, and it’s taken into an ethereal sonic territory. The result is even more cinematic and more intimate than their previous work. The addition of strings brings such a warmth to their sound, which can especially be felt in the song’s closing moments.

Yet another breathtaking song from the duo, and we have more to look forward to, as Charlotte Spiral plans to release more music in 2022.

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