The Matinee ’22 v. 010 is full of surprises, such as unexpected new singles from long-time favorites, an inter-generational collaboration, and unforeseen euphoria. More musical surprises can be found on the Songs of January 2022 playlist, which can be found SoundCloud or Spotify.
Hater – “Something” (Malmö, Sweden)
RIYL: Makthaverskan, My Bloody Valentine, Chapterhouse
One of the great bands to emerge over the past decade are Hater. While Caroline Landahl, Måns Leonartsson, Adam Agace, and Lukas Thomasson may not be household names on this side of the Atlantic, those who have followed the Swedish band’s career know that few can match their ability to create songs that rattle every bone and nerve in your body. The music is urgent yet dreamy, while Landahl’s songwriting is always soul penetrating. This combination yields three remarkable records in LPs You Tried and Siesta and the EP Red Blinders. If the Malmö quartet continue to down the road of seismic Scandi-gaze, their fourth album should equally be memorable.
Sincere arrives in less than four months time, but it was four years in the making. Although the band released a handful of outstanding singles (“Bad Luck”, “Sift”, “Four Tries Down” and “It’s a Mess”), nothing replaces having a full compilation of new material, especially if the forthcoming songs sound like “Something”.
The track represents everything that we adore about Hater and why we’ve covered them since 2016. Dazzling, shoegaze textures wrap around a probing, post-punk rhythm section. The result is an atmosphere that is breathtaking to behold yet has an underlying sinister feel. Holding us in this space is Landahl’s desperate but stunning voice. She anguishedly sings about being stuck in the same place, which exists in the past. She is unable to free herself from the memories that occupy her mind and in turn keep her prisoner. But is that such a bad thing in these times? Definitely not when Hater are providing the music to our captivation.
SMILE – “Foliage” (Cologne, Germany)
RIYL: Dry Cleaning, Shopping, Sinead O’Brien
Post-punk can enrapture and startle. In the right hands, it can also amuse, offering a respite to these uneasy times. Achieving this takes a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously and understanding that music can be entertaining and creative. Young German outfit Smile, who are barely a year into their careers, definitely are all of these things. At least that’s what can be gathered from “Foliage”.
The song is indeed about a plant, and no one has written an amusing and relatable tune about an organism that is dependent on photosynthesis as Smile have. An off-kilter, art-punk approach á là Dry Cleaning percolates across the track. The rhythms stutter, the guitars chime in the background, and the sax blasts a few notes through the noise. Wait! What? A sax? Yep, a jazzy sax offers another fresh element. Meanwhile, front-woman Rubee channels her inner Sinead O’Brien and delivers her lines in song-speak fashion. She assumes the identity of a plant that has been uprooted and taken elsewhere, and she’s not exactly enjoying her new surroundings.
“I watched you plant me
Amongst rough terrain
You watered me with hope
To see something green
Cucoloris foliage light beams; dancing
I will try to propagate as do my peers
But I fear
For my soft petals”
Oh but like the great post-punk bands, a deeper message hides beneath Rubee’s words. Can you figure it out?
Kristine Leschper – “Picture Window” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Basia Bulat, Weyes Blood, Aldous Harding
The end of one chapter is the start of another, which is where we find the incredibly gifted Kristine Leschper. When Mothers burst on the scene nearly a decade ago, they immediately became one of the most celebrated and sought-after indie bands on the planet. Following 2018’s Render Another Ugly Method, the band turned into Leschper’s own solo project. This has allowed her to expand her musical scope and artistry. The singles she’s shared so far under her own name have been nothing short of wondrous and compelling fantasies. She takes us further down the rabbit hole on “Picture Window”.
The song is a dream made in technicolor. The light organ-like keys, the patiently delivered drums, the fluttering flute, and the slight hums of the violin form a melody that could be from Wonderland, Oz, or Narnia. This is place that only the great storytellers could tell, and Leschper is one of the very best of her generation. But instead of some faraway place submerged in the Enchanted Forest, she takes us to more familiar places – big, open meadows filled with flowers that bask under the bright, yellow sun. Leschper shares a childhood memory of carefree times, which now does seem like a distant dream. As she beautifully describes the scene:
Sister in her prairie dress
Snaking through the branches
It’s like a picture I think
One where we’re untouched by the future
I think of us as something like
Freedom Fry – “You Know the Way” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: The Head and The Heart, The Oh Hellos, The Lumineers
When we were first introduced to Marie Seyrat and Bruce Driscoll’s project Freedom Fry way back in February 2015, they won us over with the delicate yet blissful folk-pop approach and uplifting stories. Since that time, they’ve expanded their craft to psych-pop, disco-pop, and even ’60s pop. But as the old adage goes, everything eventually comes full circle, which is where we find the married duo who have returned to their roots on “You Know the Way”.
Made for the forests of Pickathon and the harbor views of Newport Folk, the song is an all-embracing sing-along. Lightly plucked acoustic guitar, shallow beats of the drums, and hand claps added for good measure all beckon to a time when folk music reigned. Driscoll’s voice is full and crisp. Meanwhile, Seyrat provides backing support with her cool voice adding another stirring layer to her partner’s. As parents to a young child, they sing about learning to “let go” and trusting their son to make the right choice. They trust they’ve done all that they can to prepare him for the time he will leave the nest, and, hopefully, one day find his way back home (just to visit not to permanently stay, of course). This song is a perfect example why we always find our way back to Freedom Fry’s music.
The couple’s fourth full-length album is expected this Spring.
Dash Hammerstein – “Her Style Is Laura Ashley” (feat. Dena Hammerstein) (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Destroyer, Baxter Drury, Blur
Music is one of the few things that brings people of all ages together. Usually this happens around a campfire, at a festival, and maybe even occasionally around the radio. In the case of “Her Style Is Laura Ashley”, the song involves a grandmother and her grandson bringing the theater to our headphones, and it is a delight.
First, a bit about the artists involved. Dena Hammerstein (née Geraldine Sherman) had a career as an actor and producer in television and in theater. While she spends most of her days overseeing her late husband’s production business, one can never take the stage and bright lights out of the person. Fortunately, her grandson, Dash Hammerstein is a composer and songwriter, who has made a name for himself within New York’s theater scene. With Dash composing a little retro-inspired pop ditty that has touches of Vaudeville and New Orleans, Dena takes center stage. Through her song-speak approach, she describes a scene from the 1950s when women were expected to be homemakers and nothing more. Her lyrics are playful and amusing.
“Her style is Laura Ashley
She loves to garden and to cook
But there is one matter
That she hopes you’ll overlook
She wears long jackets
Which she thinks will disguise
Her enormous bottom
And even bigger thighs”
Grandmother and grandson might just have the concept for a future off-Broadway play.
Jesse Mac Cormack – “Blue World” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Glass Animals, Atoms for Peace, Maribou State
When Jesse Mac Cormack first graced us with his presence nearly six years ago, he created captivating yet intimate cinematic songs. They were like mini dramas set to music. Over time, however, he’s gradually turned to more minimalist approaches and electronic spaces. And yet, his art still possesses a touch of the big screen. Maybe it’s his tantalizing falsetto, his deft production work that allows every note to linger a little longer, or the incredible stories he crafts. You can be the judge concerning which one of Mac Cormack’s traits is the star when listening to “Blue World”.
Subtle beats and quivering synths are the main elements in Mac Cormack’s sonic palette. The colors are dark and haunting on one side, but then flickers of brightness enter the fray. It’s all hypnotic and mesmerizing, particularly as the song swells to its dramatic conclusion. Mac Cormack’s songwriting, too, will stop you dead in your tracks. His first words set the stage for the mystery that consumes this unknown place. “Wonder what went through your mind / When you consciously pushed all of your children off a cliff”, he asks the assailant that has given up on the planet and lives in perpetual fear. He later adds:
“You’d rather have your children living in a prison
There’s always a good reason never a solution
By the way you’ve behaved and the people you’ve betrayed
You will always need a slave to watch over your grave”
Brilliant but devasting. If “Blue World” is just the tip of the iceberg of what Mac Cormack’s new album, SOLO, is, it should be one of the year’s best. Look for the LP on April 6th via Secret City Records. Pre-orders are available at these links and on Bandcamp.
Flower Face – “Sugar Water” (Ontario, Canada)
RIYL: Chromatics, Still Corners, beabadoobee
We had to look back on our records to see when we first introduced to Ruby McKinnon and her project Flower Face, which was back in 2018 when she shared “April to Death”. At the time, she was only 19 years old. Fast forward nearly four years, and the young Ontarian has graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. She’s taken the lessons she’s learned during this time to make her music even more widescreen than before. Oh, and for good measure, she’s learned to play every instrument heard on her newest single.
“Sugar Water” is an awe-inspiring piece of dream-pop. Her breathy, alluring voice slices through the ravishing soundscape that is Chromatics-esque in the way that the trembling guitar, glistening synths and keys, and toe-tapping rhythms play against one another. It all feels like, well, a dream, but one that we’re wide awake to experience. For McKinnon, she recites how infatuation has left her in a permanent dream-like state even though the other person barely acknowledges her existence. Her lyrics are clever, especially the following:
“My boy’s got a sharp twist no he’s wicked in the heart
Feeds me sugar water just to keep me alive
Saw him in my dreams again
He’s wiping down the fingerprints”
The single is taken from Flower Face’s forthcoming full-length album, The Shark In Your Water. It will be released May 27th via Nettwerk Music Group.
Mattiel – “Lighthouse” (Atlanta, USA)
RIYL: Molly Burch, Julia Jacklin, Pearl Charles
When Mattiel Brown arrived on the indie scene back in 2017 as Mattiel, she was a solo artist. Her music reflected the solitary nature of her project, as she crafted addictive desert-psych, ’50 doo-wop, and soul-infused folk. Once she joined forces with Jonah Swilley and turned Mattiel into a two-person effort, the music expanded, which, in turn, allowed Brown to push the limits of her sensational voice. So even when a song is as jubilant and energizing as “Lighthouse”, there is no mistaken who is the star of the show.
The duo’s newest song is a euphoric piece of ’80s-inspired pop-rock. It is the beacon to these dark and cold wintry days, where we rush in the direction of the boisterous horns and the stammering guitar and rhythms. Showing us the way is Brown’s bellowing and gravitating voice, which possesses a magnetic power like the great soul singers of yesteryear. Her lyrics, though, are grounded in her early folk beginnings, where she offers her hand to lift us out of the shadows.
“It’s rained for 40 days and nights
You’re losing daylight, you’re losing the fight
I am the lighthouse
I don’t make a sound
Oh, come on now get close
You can tell me what you really want
Oh, come on now, it’s not over
Not even when the day is done”
Bryde – “Silver Suns (divine)” (London, England via Milford Haven, Wales)
RIYL: Land of Talk, Lanterns on the Lake, Bess Atwell
We conclude today’s selection of brilliant music with the return of a long-time favorite. Sarah Howells – a.k.a. Bryde – first mesmerized us with her debut single, “Wait”. At the time (December 8th, 2015 to be precise), we wrote: “We’ve witnessed the emergence of some great singer-songwriters over the year, but the best may have been indeed saved for last with the arrival of Brixton native Bryde.” And Howells is indeed one of the finest singer-songwriters of the past decade, which she demonstrates once again with “Silver Suns (divine)”.
Sit in front of the open fire while grasping the hand of a loved one and allow this beautiful song set the ambience. Let the soothing piano, the striking guitar, and Howells’ gorgeous voice provide warmth and comfort on this chilly day. As the song gradually moves from its tranquil beginnings to enrapturing climax, let the memories of the first time you saw each other fill your mind. Let your soul feel the power of what is like to be loved for the first time all over again. In the meantime, fall in love with Sarah Howells.
The single is out on Easy Life Records.
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