From fresh sounds to nostalgic takes, from the oncoming tide of newcomers to established stars re-establishing themselves, The Matinee ’21 v. 147 is about renewal and revival. These eight songs further demonstrate we are in the midst of a golden era of music.
SASAMI – “Skin a Rat” / “The Greatest” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Megadeth, Aimee Mann, Mitski
SASAMI’s debut record was one of 2019’s finest records, and one of the most notable debut albums in recent history. SASAMI was rooted mostly in pop music with some distortion and shoegaze influence peeking through occasionally. Recently, Sasami Ashworth produced Hand Habit’s stellar LP, Fun House, and released a series of covers, including “Toxicity” by System of a Down and an even heavier cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Sorry Entertainer”. While they seemed like one-offs, they both gave us a window into SASAMI’s next release.
The heavier sounds continue on “Skin a Rat”, the first track off of Sasami’s upcoming record, Squeeze. Heavy metal riffs and frenetic drumming supplied by Megadeth and Soilwork drummer Dirk Verbeuren create an intense atmosphere. Ashworth’s voice, meanwhile, is obscured in a layer of distortion. It’s a straight-up headbanger and a hell of an album opener. Ashworth had an assist on vocals from Lætitia Tamko of Vagabon and actress Patti Harrison.
The second track on Squeeze, “The Greatest”, was also released alongside “Skin a Rat”. While still featuring some distortion, it’s a lot more like a shoegaze Pat Benatar than it is Megadeth. SASAMI’s powerful voice is on full display here. It soars above the great guitar work, and the song just has an immense feeling to it that pushes what made her debut so notable into new territory. Both tracks create an interesting dynamic right out of the gate on Squeeze, and it’s impossible to not be intrigued by what else SASAMI has up her sleeves.
Holm – “Erase & Repeat” (Copenhagen, Denmark)
RIYL: Yung, Steve Gunn, Iceage
While we would love to see bands stay together for eternity, it is at the same time refreshing to see a band member go solo and branch out. This temporary independence allows her or him to showcase new, unexpected sides to their art. For Mikkel Holm-Silkjær, he’s done everything from build on the electrifying post-punk of his main outfit Yung to creating rollicking numbers, such as on “Intelligent Moves”. For his latest number, he showcases a gentler yet still roaring side.
“Erase & Repeat” is a multifaceted indie-rock gem and deserves the label as an instant classic. At first, it melodically sways like the great songs of Kurt Vile and Steve Gunn, drawing the listener in with a breezy melody. Brimming below the surface, however, is a searing urgency that erupts during the track’s gripping climax. It’s a moment that recalls the tension of Iceage’s grand numbers, leaving one flabbergasted by the unexpected onslaught. The approach provides the setting for Holm-Silkjær’s introspective story of a man who is “so confident that it’s sickening”. No one stands behind nor in front of him; he is an island all to himself. The lyrics could describe one specific, news-hungry person, but it also is the story of all of us. It is a look-in-the-mirror that we need with Holm-Silkjær providing us the wake-up call and the fiery guitar slapping us in the face.
Midlake – “Meanwhile…” (Denton, TX, USA)
RIYL: Okkervil River, Woods, Jonathan Wilson
At the turn of the 21st Century, Midlake helped turn the tide of the industry with their windswept folk-rock approach, and their influence can be heard in the music Lord Huron, Local Natives, and Woods. The Texas-born outfit, however, often get overlooked as one of the most influential bands in contemporary music. Now music fans – young and old – cannot be completely blamed for this because the sextet have been on hiatus for eight years. By the time For the Sake of Bethel Woods is released in the first quarter of 2022, almost a decade will have passed between albums. Midlake, however, are making up for lost time and reminding us of their genius with “Meanwhile…”.
Seventies psych vibes blow over the tranquil and intimate folk-rock with which the group have become associated. A hazy delirium, as such, forms, leaving all those in its wake dreaming in technicolor. And the moment is wonderful, feeling like a momentary escape from this wicked world. For the band, however, even the delightful melodies cannot prevent them from thinking about a person they have bid adieu to far too soon. Their story is based on a recent memory, and one many of us can related to having lived through a pandemic.
Midlake are: Eric Pulido (guitar, vocals), Paul Alexander (bass), Eric Nichelson (guitar), Jesse Chandler (keys), Joey McClellan (guitar), and McKenzie Smith (drums). Their new album, For the Sake of Bethel Woods, will be released March 18th, 2022 via ATO Records, Cadence Music Group, and Bella Union. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available at these links and on Bandcamp.
Joe Unknown – “Ride” (Hampshire, England)
RIYL: Slaves, Prodigy, IDLES, Ceiling Demons
Once upon the not-so-distant past, blogs, streaming services, and YouTube were the place to discover new talent. Well, TikTok is slowly making all these media obsolete. Young artists and bands are sharing their music on that platform, where they can reach tens of thousands of people at once. It’s the medium where anything can go viral quickly. So even before officially releasing a song, Joe Unknown has a sizable following on that platform. Granted, the young man formerly from Hampshire has established a reputation as a DJ and MC. But now he’s moving away from spinning other people’s records and dedicating his time to his own music. The decision seems to be a very wise one with the release of “Ride”.
Joe’s debut single is in a word – awesome. It is the perfect marriage of the edgy alt-rock of Slaves, the industrial-infused electro-rock of Prodigy, and the post-punk intensity of IDLES. Like the latter, the brilliance in Joe’s music lies not only in the propulsive intensity of the music but also in his piercing, honest, and observant songwriting. Through an approach that can be best described as poetic freestyle, he unleashes a lyrical tirade on everything from the growing class divisions in the UK, the apathy of young people, the violence that envelops his neighborhood, and the boredom he encounters in a world that wants him to conform. Joe essentially and brilliantly captures the contradictions and dichotomies we enter every day.
Spin the song several times because it is filled with some lyrical gems. The young man soon will be well-known across the UK if not the globe.
Bat Fangs – “Talk Tough” (Carrboro, NC USA)
RIYL: Ex Hex, The Go Gos, Belinda Carlisle
Bat Fangs is the project of Betsy Wright (Ex Hex) and Laura King (Flesh Wounds, Speed Stick, The Moaners). Their first record was exactly what you’d expect from a duo synonymous with killer riffs and heavy drums. That fun rocking style continues on Queen of My World, which will be released later this week. From the album is “Talk Tough”, which is, well, one killer piece of rock ‘n roll.
Rewind the clocks, don the denim jacket, and tease your hair into a perm or slick it back, and recall the neon colors that was the ’80s. Hair metal riffs rip through the entire song, and this includes a cool little guitar solo (what would an ’80s-inspired song be without a guitar solo?). All the while the familiar stutter of the rhythms pounce in time, causing our hips to shake and our toes to tap. What makes the song, however, is the very Belinda Carlisle, The Go Gos, and Pat Benatar vibes that emanate from the pair’s vocals. As Wright and King sing in unison, we too want to join in and shout out loud with them. We want to express how we want to part of the group.
“I act like I don’t care
But I don’t want to dance alone
I don’t talk tough all the time
But I remember when you were mine”
Mazey Haze – “Don’t Care” (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
RIYL: Hatchie, Pixey, Rilo Kiley
Last Friday was an epic day for new releases with some of the best LPs and EPs of the year seeing the light of day. One mini-record that probably got lost in the shuffle is Always Dancing, the debut EP from Nadine Appeldoorn’s project Mazey Haze. If the name looks familiar, it might be because you’ve read and heard “Sad Lonely Groove” and “Always Dancing” in these parts. And helping to cement her name in your mind is the EP’s centerpiece, “Don’t Care”.
The song personifies why she’s one of the most exciting artists coming from the Netherlands. The psychedelic dream-pop that streams from start to finish is like a ray of sunshine – bright, warm, and refreshing. Pair the sun-kissed melodies with her breezy vocal, the song has the potential to be a sleeper hit this autumn. It also has the potential to be on a future Netflix series or a movie soundtrack with her story of moving on from past comforts. But instead of wallowing in the pain that comes with separation, she stands tall, takes a step forward, and never looks back.
“I don’t care about you anymore
‘Cause you don’t fulfill me
Am I the only one who’s days are so hazy
I don’t care about you anymore
It’s hard to convince me
I am the only one who can make me feel”
And there will be no looking back for Appeldoorn, who has all the traits to be a star in the future. Today, she’s one of our favorite discoveries of the year.
Tasha – “Bed Song 1” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: Sharon Van Etten, Valerie June, Adia Victoria
In 2018, Tasha released a relatively low-key and short debut record, Alone at Last. It was a perfect encapsulation of a young singer-songwriter finding her voice. Using mostly just guitar and vocals, Tasha’s ability to create and draw from emotion was undeniable. In 2020, Tasha released “But There’s Still The Moon”, which featured a more refined production, and served as a bit of a breakout for the Chicago-based artist.
“Bed Song 1” is a perfect bridge between Tasha’s debut and her new record, Tell Me What You Miss The Most. Easing listeners in with a bit of ambient noise beneath the acoustic guitar, Tasha’s voice powers over. As the song progresses, it becomes obvious there’s much more to this than just another singer with a guitar. Gorgeous strings and harmonies join in, creating a truly stunning feeling throughout the song. Lyrically, it’s as emotionally driven as anything she’s released so far. Tasha describes the track as “a song about love ending, and wanting to linger in the imagining of it at its best, its warmest, and its most tender, while you try to let it go.”
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