The Matinee ’22 v. 006 once again has a strong international flavor, heading across both the Atlantic and Pacific for new music. There are a couple of American-born artists, including a living legend. Let these 11 songs help you pass away these languid days, and afterwards spin the Songs of January 2022 playlist on either SoundCloud or Spotify.

 

Grace Cummings– “Heaven” & “Raglan” (Melbourne, Australia)


RIYL: Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan

It might be premature to anoint an album as one of the year’s best folk LPs, but we’re going to make that proclamation now. Grace CummingsStorm Queen is a nod to a time when Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan were among the biggest stars in music. In other words, despite the stripped-back, acoustic-driven melodies, Cummings’ sophomore album is a tour de force, incorporating darker tones to reinforce her often introspective songwriting and powerful, smoky vocal. Among the LP’s standouts are  “Up In Flames” and the title track, but two other songs also are worth noting.

The album’s opener, “Heaven”, which was released in the autumn, is a stunner. The drifting, delayed guitar complements Cummings’ voice and poignant lyricism. At the beginning, she sings, “I’ve just discovered heaven / Where a man is nothing”. Her words suggest how we all have been deceived for too long. “See the apple, hanging from the tree / It fades away as you reach for it”, she shortly adds, and the imagery is a great antithesis to the male-dominated world we live in. 

On “Raglan”, she channels the great Joni Mitchell and delivers a beautifully immersive number. As she eloquently strums her acoustic guitar, she reflects on simpler times and enduring friendships. The addition of the fiddle adds a country tone, which is fitting given the song elicits images of rolling hills, open plains, and gorgeous sunsets. When Cummings sings, “I put my hand in / To do some picking”, her words could indicate many things – the plucking of the guitar, harvesting fruit, or playing a game with dear friends. The entire album is very much that – one that feels like an old friend. 

Cummings self-produced Storm Queen, which is out now via ATO Records. It can be purchased here and directly on Bandcamp.

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Jenny Hval – “Year of Love” (Oslo, Norway)

RIYL: Weyes Blood, Half Waif, Aldous Harding

It’s surprising that Jenny Hval isn’t more popular than she is, as she’s simply one of the great talents in the industry. She’s not just a musician, but a composer, songwriter, and producer. She’s a jack-of-trades and master of them all. The Norwegian artist can create mood-swaying atmospheres like Agnes Obel or rapturous pop a la Christine and the Queens. Where she’s best, though, is when she applies her talents to alt-pop, creating complex soundscapes that feels like we have one foot in a fantasy and another in reality. This is what she achieves with “Year of Love”.

Hval’s light and saccharine vocal flutters through the jittery electric guitar, which is the only instrument heard at first before bossa nova percussion and a humming synth join the fray. It’s a wonderful array of eloquent contradictions – sensual yet mysterious, soothing yet a bit uneasy. The approach provides a great complement to Hval’s songwriting, which addresses how a marriage proposal made during one her shows affected her years later. How a man would interrupt her moment to make one for him and his partner. It’s a poignant message she shares and one that we, as the audience, should consider.

“But in the year of love
I signed a deal with patriarchy
Now watch me step
Into the place where you can see me: Look at me
You think that I’m different, but I’m a stagehand
Look, it’s there, under the ring
The imprint on my skin”

“Year of Love” is taken from Hval’s forthcoming album, Classic Objects. It is out March 11th on 4AD. Pre-orders available here.

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Dahlia Sleeps – “The Calm You Keep” (London, England)

RIYL: Cigarettes After Sex, London Grammar, Ghostly Kisses

Before Beach House decided to share their upcoming double LP in four parts, Dahlia Sleeps adopted the approach of sharing segments of their long-awaited debut album. In December, Lucy Hill and Luke Hester released Side A of Overflow, which was filled with beautifully cinematic tunes.  “Divided”“Too Good To Hide”, and “Close Your Eyes” all personified the lush intimacy the duo have created for nearly seven years. With the LP’s arrival a few months away, the long-time friends have unveiled the first single from Side B while announcing the album’s release date.

“The Calm You Keep” is another gorgeous number, but it represents a change in tone and texture. Whereas many of Dahlia Sleeps’ previous songs were widescreen in nature and filled with synths, “The Calm You Keep” is more stripped back with the light pattering of the drums and a mournful but stunning crystalline guitar providing the palette for Hill’s wondrous voice and songwriting. The result is a song of greater intimacy, feeling as if the pair have wrapped their arms around us and embraced us with warmth and tenderness. Hill’s lyrics, too, paint such a scene. “It’s a portrait of a parent providing the calm within the storm”, she explains. 

“I climb into your bed
Just like a child that laid and wept
You did not show your fear
You knew a sun was somewhere near”

Side A of Overflow is available on Bandcamp. The entire album rises on April 8th. We cannot wait to experience it. 

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English Teacher – “A55” (Leeds, England)

RIYL: Arlo Parks, Folly Group, Yard Act

At the end of 2021 and the start of 2022, English Teacher‘s name was plastered on numerous lists provided by influential tastemakers and curators, particularly as Artists to Watch this year. For us, they were one of our Favorite Hidden Gems of 2021 as their masterful mix of art-punk, R&B, and indie rock was complemented by insightful and poignant songwriting. As such, they could shake up the English music scene much like Black Midi and Black Country, New Road have done over the past 18 months, and “A55” is another demonstration of their immense potential.

Whereas their previous songs were electrifying and uptempo, the Leeds-based quartet slow things down and deliver a dark, penetrating number. The song starts off pensively with a light electric guitar supporting front-person Lily Fontaine’s delicate voice. She proclaims in this instance, “I want more”. But exactly what is she seeking? As the song progresses and the instrumentation and intensity builds, we learn more about what Fontaine is seeking. It is what we all seek – stability. Or as Fontaine, specifically shares, the song is her “reflecting on the rise and fall of the ego as it became affected by what I put in my body. I hoped that putting it down in verse would make the embarrassment all worth it.” Her lyrics powerfully depict this feeling:

“You’ve convinced yourself you like the taste of your own breath
If it’s don’t or die trying
Then you’ve opted for death”

You’ve convinced yourself you like the the taste of your own breath, if it’s don’t or die trying then you’ve opted for death

English Teacher are: Lily Fontaine (vocals, rhythm guitar, synth), Douglas Frost (drums, synth), Nicholas Eden (bass, synth), and Lewis Whiting (lead guitar, synth). Their debut EP, Polyawkward, will be released April 22nd via Nice Swan Records. Pre-orders are available on Bandcamp.

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Kindsight – “Sun Is Always in My Eyes” (Copenhagen, Denmark)

RIYL: Amason, Sixpence None the Richer, Steve Buscemi’s Dreamy Eyes

If you’re looking for a breakout band from Denmark, then you’ve come to the right place. With a handful of releases to Kindsight‘s credit, including the coming-of-age “Don’t You Grow Up”, Nina Hyldgaard Rasmussen (vocals), Søren Svensson (guitar), Anders Prip (bass), and Johannes Jacobsen (drums) are doing to dream-pop what Alvvays did seven years ago – breathe new life to the genre and taking it to higher elevations. They seriously have the opportunity to be emerge as everybody’s favorite discovery of 2022, as their debut album, Swedish Punk, will be unveiled in the spring. Offering a sample of what is to come, the quartet share “Sun Is Always in My Eyes”.

While the weather outside is less than summery, this shimmering piece of dream-pop will warm the soul while momentarily pushing aside the darkness. The arrangement and melody rekindle the days when guitar-pop reigned and bands like The Cranberries and Sixpence None the Richer had teenagers and college kids basking under their radiance. Likewise, we are reveling under the reverb-drenched guitar, the lithe rhythmic pulses, and Rasmussen’s saccharine voice. We also grab on to her tale about being blinded by her childhood innocence and the carefree days that accompanied her youth. Those were simpler times, and thanks to Kindsight we can relive them. 

Swedish Punk arrives March 25th. Boutique Swedish label Rama Lama Records has the honors of delivering an album that is sure to inspire us to re-live our past. 

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Lime Garden – “Marbles” (Brighton, England)

RIYL: Warpaint, Veps, The Big Moon

Learning the origins of Lime Garden, their wide range of sounds on their singles begins to make sense. The band of Chloe Howard (vocals/guitar), Leila Deeley (guitar), Tippi Morgan (bass), and Annabel Whittle (drums) started due to a shared love of Courtney Barnett and Talking Heads. Those influences are no more apparent than they are on their latest single, “Marbles”, an even more danceable affair than previous releases “Pulp” and “Sick & Tired“.

With a bouncy bass line reminiscent of some of the best Talking Heads tracks, and a lyrical wit similar to Barnett, Lime Garden tie two very different artists into something completely their own on “Marbles”. The bass line really gives the track its identity, but its energetic drumming keeps the pace up. The vocals get dreamy at times, and its choruses are just infectious. It still has the observational and intelligent lyrics we’ve come to associate with Lime Garden.

“Marbles” is about “the realisation that you’re not sharing the same lifestyle as those around you” according to Chloe Howard. It’s also about how that realization can affect someone mentally, feeling like they’re losing their own marbles. It’s a fantastic song from a great young band. Learning that at some point the band felt the song was completely detached, it’s a testament to how they seamlessly brought those pieces together in such a perfect way.

This awesome single is part of a split single released with the brooding, hypnotic “Clockwork”. Get it here via So Young Records.

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PRIESTGATE – “Eyes Closed For The Winter” (Driffield, England)

RIYL: The Cure, The Ninth Wave, Eagulls

While much of the world awaits The Cure’s new album, a young English band who once were one of our Favorite Hidden Gems will help us pass the time. Priestgate have long been on our radars thanks to their ability to make Gothic-pop an anthemic spectacle. This is the year where they could truly breakout, as their long-awaited debut EP will be released in the spring. The first single from the mini-album is the perfect getaway from these cold, snowy days and arrival into their glistening arena.

“Eyes Closed For The Winter” is blissful euphoria – in a Gothic way of course. Patient rhythms give way to the tingling guitars that are very Robert Smith-esque. Similarly, Rob Schofield’s booming voice resembles the legendary front-man’s baritone. As the song builds to its climatic swell, we become overwhelm by the moment. We are overcome by the brilliant artistry of this young band, who reminds us that winter is just momentary and warmer, more illuminating days. All we need to do is hold on a little longer because “winter will pass us by”. When it does, Eyes Closed For The Winter will be waiting on the other side.

The EP officially drops March 25th. Pre-orders are available here and on BandcampLucky Number Music will release it.

PRIESTGATE are: Rob Schofield (vocals), Connor Bingham (guitar), Isaac Ellis (guitar), Kai Overton (bass), and Bridie Stagg (drums). 

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Lillian Frances – “See Straight” (feat. Abby Diamond) (Davis, California USA)

RIYL: Caroline Polachek, Lorde,  Angelica Garcia

In 2020, Lillian Frances released her debut record, Moonrise Queendom. It was a blast, full of infectious pop beats and some of the most intelligent, funny, and honest songwriting on a pop record in quite a while.

Frances returns with a new single “See Straight”, and its sound captures all that made her debut record inviting. Catchy synth beats open the song, joined by Frances’ voice and some guitar before some heavier synth comes in and kicks the song into gear. Frances is joined by Abby Diamond, who adds more depth to what’s already a great vocal performance. There’s a dreamy bridge section about halfway through that explodes into a huge ending, fireworks included.

Frances wrote the song during the peak of isolation, dreaming up, as she describes it “an imaginary world of lust and passion – a place where I could express all the love trapped within me”. While it’s not as full of wit as “Raincheck Summer” or “Netflix + Chill“, “See Straight” still features the honesty we expect from Frances, and it’s one of her best sounding songs yet.

“See Straight” (feat. Abby Diamond) is out now, you can pick it up on her Bandcamp. She also has a video for the song due out January 28th, so keep your eyes peeled!

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Charlie Gabriel – “I’m Confessin'”/”The Darker It Gets” (New Orleans, USA)


RIYL: Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington

Charlie Gabriel‘s musical career dates back to 1943, the year he sat in for his father during the war. With a career so long, it’s incredible to think that in 2022, Gabriel is about to release his debut solo record, 89. Rarely the center of attention, Gabriel has played with some legends of all types, including Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Tom Waits, and My Morning Jacket. Since 2006, he’s been a member of Preservation Hall Jazz Band, where he continues their mission to preserve traditional New Orleans Jazz music for future generations.

On his first single, a version of “I’m Confessin'”, Gabriel hits all the marks you’d expect from such a long-time veteran of Jazz. Perfectly composed, with Gabriel’s clarinet front and center in the song’s early moments. Gabriel comes in with his charming voice, singing the sweet love song standard over gently strummed guitar, and upright bass. Where the song truly shines is its solo sections, Gabriel alternates between clarinet and tenor sax, and it’s just a great vibe throughout. “The Darker It Gets” is a Charlie Gabriel & Preservation Hall original. While it’s found a spot on live recordings in the past, this version is definitive, putting Gabriel front and center. 

89 is due out July 1st, 2022 on Sub Pop. You can pre-order the record here.

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