And we’ve come to the end, where The Matinee ’21 v. 168 is the final mini-playlist of 2021. Today’s selection is a microcosm of all the great music we’ve heard this year. Fittingly, the artists featured are alumni – i.e., long-time favorites of ours.

Don’t forget to check out the Songs of December 2021 playlist, which is available on Spotify and SoundCloud. Happy Holidays everyone!

 

MIYNT – “Station station” (Stockholm, Sweden)

RIYL: Unloved, Juanita Stein, Lera Lynn

For 6.5 yearsMIYNT has mesmerized us with her chameleon-like skills. She’s delivered beautifully mournful tunes a la Lana Del Rey, made catchy pop tunes akin to a young Britney Spears, and released a made-for-New Year’s Eve number like she did last year with “A bite of papaya”. Despite her enormous range and incredible talent, she still remains a vastly underappreciated talent. Maybe, however, a filmmaker like Jane Campion or Pedro Almodóvar is listening and would be willing to take a chance on a hidden gem to write the music for their next movies. If they are, MIYNT would probably write a song akin to “Station station”.

Leave behind the disco ball and bell bottoms because MIYNT takes us to more arid landscapes. She takes us to the places where boots are a must, horseback is the means of travel, and the destination lies in the direction of the desert sunset. Like this place, MIYNT patiently strums her guitar, drawing us in with the dark yet gritty folk-noir approach. Her voice is slightly brittle, as she has awakened from a dream and into a life still full of memory. She recalls a time when she was the most wanted thief in all of the land, and everyone chased her from station to station. No one could capture her; however, she captures our hearts and attention with another stellar song. 

The single is out now via B3SCI Records. MIYNT’s new album is expected in 2022, at which time she should turn more heads. 

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Cloakroom – “Lost Meaning” (northwest Indiana, USA)

RIYL: Swervedriver, The Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, Deafheaven

It was only a couple of weeks ago that Cloakroom announced their return with the dream-rock perfection, “A Force at Play”. The song was quintessential post-grunge ’90s. That era also was characterized by the rise of shoegaze and alternative rock, and some bands, like The Smashing Pumpkins and Alice in Chains, masterfully combined the two genres. As if they were channeling their inner Billy Corgan and friends, Doyle Martin, Tim Remis, and Bobby Markos reveal “Lost Meaning”.

Cloakroom’s latest single is methodical yet jarring with searing wave after searing wave of electrifying guitar and throttling rhythms. If performed at a concert, this is the type of song that would cause all the patrons to slowly head-bang, and the resulting image is that of an enormous swell about to crash on to the stage. Similarly, the band is about to break, or at least Martin is with his tale of abandonment and reckoning.

“Are you with me? Are you with me even now?
One more time around
Do you hear me buzzing off these castle walls?
Do you hear me and the echo of it all?
With no feeling”

The band’s new album, Dissolution Wave, will be released January 28th via Relapse Records. Pre-orders can be found here and on Bandcamp.

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Big Thief – “Spud Infinity” & “No Reason” (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: Julia Jacklin, Haley Heynderickx, Dr. Dog

There’s been an inviting warmth to each of the songs Big Thief have released from their upcoming record, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You. Certainty” and “Sparrow” sound almost like they were recorded by a campfire, while “Little Things” and “Time Escaping” go into more lush territories with their sound.

Both of Big Thief’s new singles, “Spud Infinity” and “No Reason”, continue that fireside feeling. “Spud Infinity” is a bouncy stomper. Acoustic guitar, fun drum work, some violin, and just a perfect amount of guitar accents mixed with Adrianne Lenker and Buck Meek’s voices make the song such a joy to listen. The ending of the song is a blast, complete with a charming “woo” from Lenker, adding to the song’s stomp and holler feel.

“No Reason” is a bit more complex and more finely produced, but it still has much of the charm that we’ve heard from this record so far. Woodwinds underscore some chimey guitar goodness and gorgeous harmonies. There’s a wonderful flute solo about halfway through as well that adds to the beauty of the track. 

Both “Spud Infinity” and “No Reason” continue the trend of singles we’ve heard so far. Specifically, the folk stylings of Big Thief return and are the focus of the new double-LP. The result so far has been a welcome feeling of warmth as we head into the cold winter months.

The double LP, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You, arrives February 11th, 2022 via 4AD with pre-orders here.

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Horse Show – “Shame” (Skåne County, Sweden)

RIYL: Slowdive, Chapterhouse, Simian Ghost,  YAST, Hater, FEWS

When Swedish super-group Horse Show shared “Hästskandalen” from their then-forthcoming EP, Falsterbo, we suggested people hold off on compiling their favorite EPs of 2021 because this one could very well make the cut. Now that December 10th has passed, the world can hear the mini-album in its entirety and hear how the quintet are taking shoegaze into the 21st Century. Each of its five songs are tremendous, buzzing with an electricity and energy that rivaled the days when Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, and Lush first stepped on the stage and obliterated music fans with their gauzy goodness. It’s hard to pick just one of the remaining four songs to share, so we opted to go with the slow rager, “Shame”

The track showcases how shoegaze can still be perfected. A diligent, dreamy, Scandi-pop tone kicks off the track, offering a bit of drama to go with the hazy environment. Through the glistening soundscape, the band describe how we walk through life forever in shame, ignoring warning signs and building storms. And how we ignore each other’s pain, forsaking the bonds that tie us together in order to advance our own interests. The finale, though, is the showstopper, as raging guitars, sparkling synths, and pummeling rhythms emerge just as the band repeats:

“Do you feel the shame?
It’s in my head
Do you feel the pain?
Yeah, it’s in my head”

It’s an awesome ending to a song that makes us believe why shoegaze will forever live. 

Horse Show is the brainchild of Erik Klinga (Simian GhostLight Vibes), and it includes members of some of the Scandinavian country’s very best indie bands. They are: Caroline Landahl (Hater), Tobias Widman (YAST), Frederick Rundquist (FEWSHater) and Rasmus Andersson (FEWSHater). Falsterbo is out on PNKSLM Recordings and can be purchased on Bandccamp.

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The Babe Rainbow – “Smash the Machine” (Byron Bay, Australia)

RIYL: King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Big Thief/Buck Meek, The printer scene from Office Space

In a time where so many artists are throwing it back multiple decades with their sound, few do it as faithfully and as interesting as The Babe Rainbow. On their most recent record, Changing Colours, the Aussie 5-piece blend 1960s styles, psych-pop, and surf rock to create one fun and intelligent ride of a record.

Their first single since the LP, “Smash The Machine”, continues to expand on those influences and creates an equally compelling listening experience. Its early vocal effects and silly lyrics reminiscent of a call to tech support make the song inviting from the outset. Its harmonies, acoustic guitar chime sound so good, especially when juxtaposed with The Babe Rainbow singing of the destruction of office equipment. If we only could do something like that without repercussions…

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San Fermin – “Nothingness” (feat. The Districts) (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: San Fermin

What happens when you bring together two of the very finest indie bands together? The answer is obvious – something magical. What about an entire EP comprised of dream-like collaborations, which is what San Fermin‘s newest mini-album, In This House, comprises? It must be memorable. And it is with the likes of Jenn Wasner, Sorcha RichardsonThao Nguyen, and Wild Pink lending their talents. The Districts, too, are featured, who contribute to the mini-album’s ultimate track, “Nothingness”.

A graceful tranquility emerges immediately from the song, feeling like we’ve arrived at an oasis or another imaginary place of calm and serenity. Not a single element nor note is hurried, as San Fermin opt to keep us suspended into this wonderland. Meanwhile, The Districts’ front-man Rob Grote, through a whisper-like delivery, sings about how our self-identity has evaporated in these tumultuous times. We’ve evaporated into “nothingness”. 

“Catapult, you see the future
Washed out in smoke
Bleary eyed
I missed the joke, am I the punchline
Am I just shit broke or are we fine”

San Fermin is led by Ellis Ludwig-Leone (keyboard/composer) with Allen Tate (vocals), Charlene Kaye (vocals), Rebekah Durham (violin), John Brandon (trumpet), Stephen Chen (saxophone), Tyler McDiarmid (guitar), and Michael Hanf (drums). The band’s new album, In This House, is available on their own Better Company Records.

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