A new week arrives, which means new opportunities for adventure and The Matinee ’21 v. 155 provides the soundtrack for what awaits. From desert landscapes to subliminal worlds, from new beginnings to the afterlife, these nine songs cover all the possibilities. After listening to those songs, spin Songs of November 2021 playlist, which can be found on Spotify and SoundCloud.

 

Tone Ranger – “Follow the Sun” (Santa Fe, NM USA)

RIYL: Maribou State, North Downs, Pedestrian

To commence the journey, we look towards southwestern USA and the arid landscapes of New Mexico. There we find multi-instrumentalist, DJ, and producer Tone Ranger, who brings the haunting nightscapes of the Chihuahuan Desert to music via his debut EP, Follow the Sun. Although only four songs, the mini-album is an adventure in itself. It’s filled with wonder and at times feels surreal, making us feel like we’ve been endlessly traversing the desert. The one song that captures the extended player’s essence is the title track.

This spellbinding electronic number is reminiscent of Maribou State’s throbbing and hypnotic touch. The number, as such, never goes overboard, as Tone Ranger opts for a more restrained approach to build the mystery and mysticism. In the process, we get lost in the stirring echoes of the keys, the sparkles of the beats, and the hallow electric guitar that rings in the background. Tone Ranger’s vocal, meanwhile, is nearly ghostly, sounding like he’s summoning his ancestors and inviting them to dance under the stars. He’s invited them and us to turn the cold desert into an Ibiza-like beach party.

Follow the Sun is out now. It’s available on Bandcamp and well worth the investment.

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Dot Never – “You Took Your Time” (London, England)

RIYL: Glass Animals, Alt-J, Atoms for Peace

We now head off to the secretive places where planned rendezvouses happen. We enter a world full of suspense, seduction, and allure. This is a place that several great English bands have taken listeners for more than a decade, and three newcomers arrive to take us deeper into these mysterious locations. They come to take their place alongside bands like Glass Animals, Alt-J, and even the Thom Yorke-fronted Atoms for Peace with “You Took Your Time”.

The band is Dot Never, who grabbed our attention back in January with their spiraling debut single, “Drill”. Their latest number is a thing of mind-bending beauty. Shallow synths and keys converge on a trembling, jazz-influenced drum line. A hallow vocal slowly emerges from the immersive arrangement, and its owner desperately seeks to stop running and to be whole again. He desire to be told everything will be fine.

“I can change and rearrange
Myself to be
That if you count on me
All I need is one to say
It’s going to be a beautiful day today”

The UK music scene, meanwhile, is in fine hands with the arrival of another great electronic band.

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Vilde – “Hope You Forgive Everything You Can’t” (Stockholm, Sweden via Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: Future Islands, Caribou, Sleep Party People

If we could name Thomas Savage’s musical project, it might be Dr. Who because the Australian has for years taken listeners to unimaginable places and dimensions. But instead of a TARDIS, his mode of transport is music, which he shares under the moniker Vilde. Like Sydney Newman’s most famous creation, he arrives and departs mostly unassumingly and unceremoniously. This, however, should not be the case because Savage’s songs are often extraordinary. He’s a mix of Thom Yorke and Sleep Party People, delivering one great experimental electronic number after another like “Hope You Forgive Everything You Can’t”.

Like what he has consistently done, Savage concocts a glamorous spell. The beat- and rhythm-driven intro immediately grabs hold and sends us into a state of levitating delirium. Our eyes are closed as we bounce to each beat in order to fully absorb the luxurious sound, which increases in complexity as synths and Savage’s falsetto enter the fray. The track, however, does not stay stationary. The tempo slows and accelerates, the melody turns from upbeat and intoxicating to reserved and contemplative and back again. This weaving arrangement reflects Savage’s message concerning life in a pandemic, where at times we are “dancing for nobody” or “are caught in an embrace” with someone we have not seen in a very long time.

This terrific song is taken from Savage’s new EP, Speaking with Strangers, which is out now and available on Bandcamp.

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Let’s Eat Grandma – “Two Ribbons” (Norfolk, England)

RIYL: Wolf Alice, Milk & Bone, peak U2

Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton have had a very interesting career as Let’s Eat Grandma. Whereas some artists like to stay within a specific genre or use every other album to reinvent themselves, the childhood friends seem to change from song to song. They’ve done pretty much everything, including shoegaze, electro-pop, rock, and pop. And they’re only 22 years old and their debut album, I, Gemini, which they released when they were 16, is considered by many to be one of the most important and creative LPs of the past decade. Should the two continue with Let’s Eat Grandma, they could  become recognized as one of the  21st Century’s most influential bands. But for now, they have to settle for releasing one of the year’s and even one of this early decade’s finest songs in “Two Ribbons”.

The song is gorgeous. Excuse us, this song is GORGEOUS! The arrangement relatively simple, as a reverb guitar strums quietly through some ambient noise. The restrained approach, which is reminiscent of U2’s classic “Running to Stand Still”, allows Hollingworth’s brittle voice to shine and for everyone to hear. It is the type of song that when it is performed live, everyone goes silent. Everyone’s gaze and ears are fixated on the person standing at center stage and completely devoured by her presence. While the song is played, hands will clasp, arms with embrace another, and a few tears may be shed. Hollingworth’s lyrics are incredibly moving and emotional. It was written to honor her late boyfriend and fellow musician, Billy Clayton, who passed away in March 2019 from a rare form of bone cancer. He was only 22.

“‘Cause I haven’t thought for months of anyone but you
And I wanna find the answer but I can only be your best friend
And hope that that’s enough
But I know that’s not enough”

The duo’s new album, Two Ribbons, arrives January 22nd, 2022 on Transgressive Records and PIAS Recordings. Pre-orders are available here. Laura Snapes of The Guardian recently met with the duo, and her article, which explains the making of “Two Ribbons” in addition to how the pair’s relationship, is well worth reading.

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Favours – “Escaping” (Toronto, Canada)

RIYL: Pr0files, CLAVVS, Yumi Zouma

Back in June when Favours released “Left Behind”, we stated they could follow Nation of Language and be the next great synth-pop band of this generation. Or at least they could be the Canadian equivalent even if their music also delves into electro- and dream-pop. Regardless of comparisons, Jacq Andrade (vocal, synth), Alexander Zen (guitar, vocal), and Mark Andrade’s (guitar, synths) varied approach should make them national favorites and maybe even beyond. They could become the next Stars or dare we say as bit as Metric and Men Without Hats? This might be a bold statement, but “Escaping” demonstrates the trio’s immense potential.

Eighties influences permeate across the track – from the spry yet suspenseful arrangement to the dual vocals. The track, in other words, is pure neon cinema, highlighted by the protruding bass line and the terrific guitars that flow from chiming to tantalizing. The dialogue between Jacq and Alexander, meanwhile, could be right out of Pretty in Pink, but a more grown-up version. As the protagonist, Jacq seeks to break free from a controlling relationship while Alexander realizes his mistakes, but it’s too late. “Done escaping, pretending / Learning to be free / Used to know me / Control me / You’ve gone and lost the key”, Jacq defiantly sings.

The song is from the band’s new EP, Left Behind, which features Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning on bass. That’s another reason why we think this band is going places. In the meantime, pick up the mini-album on Bandcamp.

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Ellur – “Migraine” (Leeds, England)

RIYL: Highasakite, Holly Humberstone, Cathedrals

Remember the name of Ella McNamara and her project Ellur because the 20-year old has the chance to be a massive pop star. We’re not talking about the generic pop music heard on the radio. But instead, McNamara could be like Madonna and Cyndi Lauper back in the ’80s and give the genre some much-needed edge, personality, and thoughtfulness. To resurrect pop music, she’s crafting music that is equal parts nostalgic and forward-looking. Her burgeoning genius is fully displayed on “Migraine”.

Like many of Madonna’s ’80s music, the song is a soaring anthem of reviving the past and, in the process, reclaiming oneself. Glistening guitars swirl through the urgent rhythm section, creating an atmosphere that is both revitalizing yet filled with desperation. The latter comes from McNamara’s transfixing voice, which moves from vulnerable to exploding with intensity. “I surrender / Should have stayed in the bed / Because I’m weaker when the weekdays end”, she sings at the start, setting the stage for her tale of sudden loneliness. McNamara desires to be with the one who no longer lies next to her, and the only company she keeps are the thoughts that ravage her mind. She has, as such, become a prisoner to herself.

Soon, the rest of the world will becomes prisoners to Ellur’s art. This process will accelerate come December 16th when McNamara’s forthcoming EP, Moments, will be on Dance To The Radio.

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Lo Moon – “Dream Never Dies” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Astronauts, etc., #1 Dads, Jesse Marchant

The past 22 months have caused many, including ourselves, to feel vulnerable and, in turn, contemplate what was and what awaits. This period has also inspired many to undertake new endeavors, do things they might not have done before, and create bold and beautiful art. For Lo Moon, the pandemic spurred them to end their 3.5-year hiatus and once again become an independent band after parting with Columbia Records. While their status has changed, the LA-based art-rockers’ style has not. Their self-titled debut was a cinematic beauty, and their newest tune is even more stunning. 

“Dream Never Dies” is simply captivating. Like a great IMAX film, it features several moments of wonderment and pure awe. For that matter, every element shines and possesses a breathtaking quality, and all you might want to do for the rest of the day is bask within the song’s dreamy brilliance. While doing that, you might reminisce about the past and hold on to every memory like what front-man Matt Lowell aspires:

“Now we’re getting older what will we remember?
Morning drives in winter the world we knew is over
Radio still blasting summer’s everlasting
If I could bring you back, and all I have to do is close my eyes”

Stunning. 

In addition to Lowell (vocals, guitar and keys), Lo Moon include Cristanta Baker (vocals, keys, bass), Sam Stewart (guitar), and Sterling Laws (drums).

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Hobsons Bay Coast Guard – “Heaven” (Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: Hockey Dad + Vampire Weekend + Tame Impala

Australia has a near monopoly on outrageously fun bands, who take the terms wacky, whimsical, and bombastic to a whole other level. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Hockey Dad, and Skeggs are just a few names who make the off-kilter entertaining. Trying to explain why the country Down Under has fostered such an environment is difficult to say. Maybe it’s the hot summers, the nation’s rich surfing culture and carefree nature, or the numerous beaches that host year-end gatherings and parties. We have no idea why, but we’re not complaining. If we did, then we would never hear the buzzing music of Hobsons Bay Coast Guard.

Following in the footsteps of their fellow country-folk, the Melbourne-based quartet’s latest single, “Heaven”, is a frenetic and manic number. And it’s awesomely delightful (or is that delightfully awesome?). The track constantly shifts between a blustery, math-infused surf-rocker to a gyrating psych-infused delirium. While the lyrics take a backseat to the song’s bubbly energy, the tale about how love can make people do and feel unusual things is pretty fun, too. 

Hobsons Bay Coast Guard are: Christopher Ray, Erik Scerba, Zac Terry and Jack Foy. We have no idea if they’re actually in the coast guard, but we do know their new album, Tubular Swells, drops December 1st.

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Miles Francis – “Good Man” (New York City, USA)

RIYL: Har Mar Superstar, Joseph of Mercury, David Byrne

Miles Francis‘ name may not be known by most music listeners, but his fellow musicians and artists know who he is. Check out the names with whom he’s collaborated or supported: Arcade Fire’s Will Butler, Antibalas, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Amber Mark, Angelique Kidjo, his old band EMEFE, and even The Beatles. To say the New Yorker gets around would be an understatement and it’s not because of pure luck. He’s a gifted multi-instrumentalist, although he’s done most of his work behind the drum kit. For his solo project, however, he grabs the guitar and stands in front of the mic. But instead of being like Dave Grohl, he channels his energies into the indie scene of Brooklyn, which allows his ingenuity and multiple talents shine. It allows him to create a piece of brilliance in “Good Man”.

Like David Byrne on a couple of Red Bulls, “Good Man” is a quirky and bombastic single. The song is beyond infectious, as it combines glam-rock, alt-pop, art-rock and even a bit of crooner-ism to create a groovy, funky, and immensely fun melody. Francis’ lyrics, too, will put a smile on your face. “My first was mom / Evolved with the trend /  With all my man friends”, he humorously sings about obsession. He also addresses masculinity in the 21st Century:

“Are you impressed
When I puff out my chest
Well either way
Gonna get myself a girlfriend”

To answer Francis’ question, we’re impressed. Well, not so much about him puffing his chest but the talent he has in front of the microphone. Francis will get to impress us more when his debut album, New Man, drops March 4th, 2022. 

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