Through the euphoria of long-time favorites, to the quirkiness of a great international band, to the intimacy of newer artists, The Matinee ’22 v. 005 is another sonic adventure. It also has a very international flavor with just one artist from North America.
THYLA – “Rabbit Hole” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Wolf Alice, Hater, Black Honey
When January 28th arrives, an eruption out of Brighton is likely to be heard. This is because Thyla will release their long-awaited debut album that has been 6.5 years in the making. From the time they released “Betty” back in July 2015, Millie Duthie (vocal, guitar), Dan Hole (bass), and Danny Southwell (drums) constantly have created some of the finest and most epic indie pop-rock. It’s anthemic, cathartic, and euphoric, and most importantly their songs are always immediate. This combination of characteristics has made them one of our most-covered bands.
While we are admittedly biased in our opinion, one just needs to listen to “Gum”, “3”, and “Flush” to under why the British trio could and should be as big as Wolf Alice. Or take a listen to “Rabbit Hole” to become convinced at the power and potential of Thyla.
A graceful calm welcomes the listener. It’s a beautiful place that tingles with touches of shoegaze, but beneath the dreaminess lies a difficult truth. Through the gentle atmosphere, Duthie proclaims, “I need an alibi / Even inside my fragile mind / Pieces of my disguise”. This world, this Wonderland does not reside in some magical, mythical place. Rather, it exists within Duthie’s mind. As she confronts all the uninvited guests that linger within her, the song builds and explodes into a stadium-sized rocker. “Do you think I’m a lie?”, she asks aloud, seeking to confirm to herself that she truly exists and people can hear her. They most certainly will in 11 days.
Bolywool – “Bleíkur” (Öland & Gothenburg, Sweden)
RIYL: The Radio Dept. + Slowdive + Mogwai
Every country has a band that is like a long lost treasure, who few have truly seen but have heard about their talent. Bolywool, the project of cousins Calle Thoor and Oskar Karlström, just might be Sweden’s biggest hidden gem. Despite 23 years performing together that includes six albums, the last being 2019’s Darkly After, the Longest Day, the two remain a mystery to the general Swedish public. This situation, however, could change this year with shoegaze’s resurrection and I Break Horses‘ rebirth a couple of years ago. Having the support of VÅRØ Records will also help, but at the end of the day the deciding factor will be the product. Fortunately, the family band do not disappoint with “Bleíkur”.
While we’re not definite what “Bleíkur” means in the context of this song, what we could find is that it is Icelandic for pink. This makes perfect sense given the blistering, cosmic nature of the song. Sparkling guitars soar right at the start, creating the sensation that the skies above are exploding with light. If one has viewed a sunset out in the Swedish hinterland during the middle of autumn, the atmosphere is often filled with brilliant oranges and pink. It is a cathartic experience, much like this song, which makes you feel free, alive, and full of hope of what is to come.
Hopefully for Bolywool, their future will be equally illuminating. Their new album, Dead Reckoning, is due in March, and it will be released on VÅRØ Records.
No Suits in Miami – “The Robins Song” (Lund, Sweden)
RIYL: Makthaverskan, The Pains of Being Pure of Heart, A Sunny Day in Glasgow
Staying in Tre Konor, like Bolywool, No Suits in Miami have been around for a little while – not quite 23 years but more than half-a-decade. Their releases, however, are more limited, as the band is more of a side deal for Michelle Dzgoeva, Olle Oscarsson, Hannes “Hasse” Ponzlid, and Erik Lange. Maybe 2022, however, will be different and the quartet turn the project into a permanent one because their brand of blustery shoegaze and Scandi-gaze should be constantly heard. In other words, the world could use more songs like “What We Have” and “Make You See”, which make older folks like us feel young again while introducing a younger generation to the great sounds of the ’90s. With that, our fingers are crossed that “The Robins Song” is the first of a long series of releases.
Step outside, put the headphones on, and spin this exuberant piece of dream-pop. The jangly guitars, the jittery rhythms, and Dzgoeva’s heavenly vocal will have you running for a solid 3.5 minutes. Even if you’re more of the solitary type during these gripping cold days, the track will get your heart racing and the blood flowing. It will have you recalling times you ran into someone, had a conversation, and realized why you are who are today.
“Stumbled on to you
Early autumn afternoon
Compared to you
I was so simple
In a moment you made me
That conversations might
not be for me”
This is why we adore No Suits in Miami – they make us feel like we are perfectly fine the way we are.
Gracie Gray – “Happiness” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Bnny, Lala Lala, Squirrel Flower
While the previous tracks were like motivational speeches, this next single must be heard while sitting down. It’s one of those songs we like to describe as beautifully devastating. As such, it will linger in your mind for a long time and, in turn, you will not forget the name of the artist. In this case, her name is Gracie Gray, and the young singer-songwriter has the chance of following in the footsteps as Squirrel Flower, Bnny, and Maple Glider, who broke out in 2021 by delivering some of the year’s very best albums. As a sample of what she is capable of achieving, she shares “happiness”.
Gray’s latest is a demonstration of how simplicity can be jarring. There are no bells or whistles, no special gadgets or tricks. Instead, there is just perfect execution, where very note lingers for a couple of beats longer than expected in order for it to penetrate deep into our soul. As such, the song becomes a fabric of our being, and we begin to see the world through the eyes of the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter. We comprehend the meaning of the words, “I don’t wanna know / What happiness is, what happiness is / I don’t trust it”. We empathize with Gray’s lingering sorrow and how everything seems so distant and foreign. She ends the song by repeating, “Soaring over the cloud / You’re in my memory”, reflecting on all the people and things that are no longer a part of her being.
Gray’s new album, anna, is out February 4th via Hand in Hive. It should be a dazzler.
Elanor Moss – “Soundings” (York, England)
RIYL: Maple Glider, Tiny Ruins, Joni Mitchell
2021 felt like the year of stunning new music from new faces. So many albums and EPs that made our year-end lists were debuts. That trend seems to have continued quite nicely into 2022 with the incredible debut single from Elanor Moss, “Soundings”.
On its surface, “Soundings” is enough to stun listeners. Moss’s voice harmonizing with itself over just a guitar in the song’s early moments. A gorgeous layer of synth and bass come in, then electric guitar. Moss’ voice is impressive throughout as well, floating, falling, ebbing and flowing with the instruments as they come and go. As the song nears its conclusion, it becomes a lush, dreamy experience, built beautifully upon the song’s quieter early moments.
“Soundings” will be on Moss’ upcoming debut EP, Citrus. You can check out the single here.
Joshua Woo – “10-2-1” (London, England)
RIYL: Radiohead + Washed Out + Perfume Genius
Many artists and bands have attempted to master and even surpass Radiohead’s otherworldly, genre-less music. Not many have succeeded. Every so often, however, an individual comes along and stops you dead in your tracks at what they have crafted. They have not only created a song that has serious “Wow” factor, but it could sit within one of the Oxford legends’ magnificent albums. This is what Joshua Woo has done with “10-2-1”.
The London-based singer-songwriter, composer, and multi-instrumentalist has produced one of the early year’s finest songs. It possesses the weaving and spellbinding approach that littered Radiohead’s transcendent In Rainbows, particularly on “Reckoner” and “Nude”. There, however, is more to “10-2-1”. A gorgeous aria occasionally rises, adding another layer and even a grander radiance. As the song progresses, one gets further lost in Woo’s tremendous art. One begins to feel like the track’s protagonist, who is the last person on Earth and responsible for cleaning up humanity’s devastation. He is like Wall-E – alone and forgotten on a desolate planet, trying his best to make this place habitable once again.
“10-2-1” is part of an EP Woo released at the end of 2021, and it features two other songs, “Aftermath” and “How Time Flies”. Get it on Bandcamp.
CHAI – “Whole” (Tokyo, Japan)
RIYL: Carly Rae Jepsen, Hinds, Tom Tom Club
Incredibly catchy and wonderfully weird, CHAI‘s 2021 record WINK was a refined effort that gave their distinctive style a glorious shine. While it wasn’t quite as high energy as their early releases, it dove more into lush synth soundscapes, whether more contemporary or reminiscent of the ’80s, and feeling even more in-line with their “NEO-Kawaii” branding. With WINK, the band of Mana (vocals, keys), Kana (vocals, guitars), Yuuki (bass), and Yuna (drums) created a more appealing sound overall, and it really showcased the potential and creativity of the band.
“WHOLE” is their first single post-WINK. The track retains the smooth style and is a fantastic pop track with so many inviting qualities. Crisp guitar chords, layered vocals, a fantastic bass groove, and an undeniable catchiness that hits on all the strengths of the band. The song will be used as a theme song for a Japanese TV drama, Koisenu Futari, and CHAI drew influence from theme songs other romantic Japanese Dramas of the ’90s. Lyrically, “WHOLE” takes from the TV show’s focus on an aromantic couple, who find love in other things. The single release also comes with news that the band has signed with Sony Music Japan International, giving them all the tools for an even bigger breakout.
Trentemøller – “No More Kissing in the Rain” (feat. Lisbet Fritze) (Copenhagen, Denmark)
RIYL: Slowdive + M83 + Mogwai
While melodic music is often equated with intimacy, but in the hands of a maestro it can be daring, jarring, and cinematic. It can be mind-blowing and dazzling, which are the terms that have come to define Anders Trentemøller‘s music. Despite his gifts, the Danish producer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist has produced the score to only one documentary. He hopefully will be given the opportunity to write the music to a full-length feature film because he has the knack for taking a simple concept and turning it into something extravagant. Into something memorable, like he does on “No More Kissing in the Rain”.
Shoegaze, synth-pop, and post-rock collide on this absolute stunner. Every element is executed to perfection, whereby we, as the audience, can feel every single note and tone. We can feel the crystalline guitar strike our chest, the glimmering synths cause our minds to relax, and the light pounds of the rhythms cause our hearts to beat a little faster. The song reaches grander celestial heights with Lisbet Fritze‘s ghostly voice, which sounds like it is from another dimension. She lushly tells a great story that perfectly complements Trentemøller’s widescreen production. Her story is one of love, separation, pain, and renewal. It is ripping the scar from one’s wound in order to heal more quickly.
“Some days can feel like razorblades
Cutting through the naked skin
Ready for the next attack?
I catch your eyes in the dark
One look can tell that it is time to go
Is this the end of everything?
Maybe it’s time to tear it all apart”
Stunning. Absolutely stunning.
Arctic Lake – “Breathe” (London, England)
RIYL: Dahlia Sleeps, Ghostly Kisses, London Grammar
We end The Matinee ’22 v. 005 with another band that mesmerized us in 2015. For these nearly seven years, Arctic Lake consistently have left us in a state of awe with their hushed trip-hop. Every song that Emma Foster and Paul Holliman have crafted is done with a deft and patient touch. Nothing is hurried so that the emotion can naturally build and all the while luring listeners into their wondrous and beautiful world. The alluring atmospheres are not the only reasons why we are fans, but Foster’s sincere and intimate songwriting leave us captivated. Even when addressing familiar themes, each song bleeds with raw emotion, such as on “Breathe”.
As is always the case, the song is beautifully intimate, lush, and stunning. It all sounds romantic, like the perfect song for a Friday night. Beyond the delicate beats and swirling keys, synths, and production, however, lies a story of heartbreak. Her words are the silence that often accompanies the end of a relationship, and both parties know the time has come. But there is resistance since neither party can wish to come to terms with the inevitable.
“I’m in this too
Don’t tell me lies, I need your truth
My mind’s at stake
Lay side-by-side, we lie awake
And I don’t care
If you don’t wanna talk no more
I’ll force your hand
Just let me know where we both stand”
Here’s hoping a new album is coming. In the meantime, the song is out on Astralwerks.
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