The Matinee ’22 v. 012 is part 2 of the January 28th run of new music. The artists and bands featured are all American and residing beyond the Eastern Standard Time Zone. The mini-playlist features a dazzling arrayof music, from sultry to funky to groovy to devastating. It also includes two star outfits making their long-awaited returns while the others are establishing themselves as future powerhouses.
Part 1 of today’s The Matinee series is available here, focusing on European and East Coast bands.
Warpaint – “Champion” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Lower Dens, Massive Attack, Portishead
Back in May of last year when Warpaint released “Lilys” for HBO’s Made for Love series, we openly hoped it marked Emily Kokal (vocal, guitar), Theresa Wayman (vocal, guitar), Jenny Lee Lindberg (bass, vocal), and Stella Mozgawa’s (drums, vocal) return. But instead of sharing new music, they went silent… until this past Wednesday when in the early morning they delivered the news so many fans have been waiting to hear. Their new album, Radiate Like This, will be released May 6th, which will be their first LP since 2016’s Heads Up. Of course the announcement was accompanied by a new single that represents a band that is still raising the bar of musical excellence.
In Warpaint’s usual way, “Champion” sees the foursome further extend themselves. Trip-hop textures are submerged within a dark-pop arrangement, and the final product sounds like the dream collaboration between Massive Attack and Burial. Lindberg’s pulsating bass line and Mozgawa’s patiently urgent drumming (she’s one of the best in the business) drive the track, clearing the way for Wayman’s lingering guitar and the quartet’s rich harmonies, led by Kokal’s lush voice. The whole experience is shrouded in mystery, but it is intoxicating. The band’s message, though, does not require investigative work, as they succinctly address unity between ourselves and with our planet.
“We’re all the same sun
We’re all our own sun too
We’re all the ocean
We all look out at you”
Toro y Moi – “Postman” & “Magazine” (feat. Salami Rose Joe Louis) (Oakland, USA)
RIYL: James Brown, Prince, Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Chaz Bear’s seventh studio album, MAHAL, as Toro y Moi promises to be a career-spanning and -defining output, with each song representing the music that has influenced him . As such, the LP will expand beyond the chillwave with which Bear has become associated (he is one of the genre’s founding persons). And this is an exciting notion, as we get to witness what the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist Oaklander can do when he applies his genius to music of bygone eras. The first two singles from MAHAL only build anticipation for its April 29th release date.
“Postman” is funky! The song infuses Prince-like rhythms and dabbling guitar riffs with James Brown-esque screams. It is made for little jaunts through town or a little cruise along the waterfront. Bear’s songwriting, though, is humorous and unpretentious, as he shares the daily experience of waiting for the mail to arrive. But as we’ve all experienced in these pandemic days, letters and packages do not always arrive quickly but the bills always do.
On “Magazine”, Bear enlists the support of fellow Bay-area artist Salami Rose Joe Louis, whose sultry voice adds a sensual element to this dizzying piece of psych-pop. Like every Toro y Moi song, every element is exquisitely executed, resulting in a song that could be played at a beach party or in the intimate confines of the bedroom. The tale, though, concerns how corporations define our identities and how we, in turn, aspire to be like the “perfect people” we see in a magazine.
Bnny – “I’m Just Fine” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: Porridge Radio, Marika Hackman, Womb
The ability to turn melancholy into a soul-jarring encounter is why Bnny landed on our Favorite Hidden Gems of 2021 list. Their debut album, Everything, which included singles “Time Walk”, “Ambulance”, “Sure”, and “August”, was beautifully pensive yet brooding. Like a great book, it was hard to turn away because each song was more devouring than the previous. Every page-turner deserves a sequel, which the Chicago-based quartet provide on “I’m Just Fine”.
Akin to their previous outputs, “I’m Just Fine” is minimalist in its approach. A shallow, lingering guitar strums in the foreground while a second pulses alongside the probing bass line and the beautifully patient drumming. The atmosphere feels like a scene out of True Detective – stark, a little uneasy, yet we cannot peel away our eyes, or in this case our ears. For 204 seconds, we are left staring outward, looking at nothing but the images that emerge in our minds. We think about our own well-being after running into someone we have not seen for some time. And all we can answer is, “I’m OK” and “I’m just fine”, even though deep down we are hurting. Such is the power of twin sisters Jess and Alexa Viscius, Tim Makowski, and Matt Pelkey.
Night Shop – “Let Me Let It Go” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Kevin Morby, Hamilton Leithauser, Trevor Sensor
Night Shop‘s album, Forever Night, originally had a December 1st, 2021 release date, but like everything in the music industry during this never-ending pandemic it got delayed. But that’s good news for us because that means we get one more sneak peek after Justin Sullivan shared the spry rocker, “Forever Night”, and the slow dance beauty, “For a While”, which featured Jess Williamson. It also provides another opportunity for late adopters to get on the bandwagon and discover why Sullivan is about to join his friends Woods, Kevin Morby, and Waxahatchee as American musical treasures.
Sullivan’s latest single, “Let Me Let It Go”, is an old-school, ’70s southern-rocker that tickles with the panache of Elvis Presley and the craftiness of a young Jerry Lee Lewis. Even a bit of a young Johnny Cash pops in the guitar work and Sullivan’s observational songwriting style. As the boisterous melody induces involuntary toe-tapping and head noodling, Sullivan explores the many different ways love can be expressed, and, in turn, how it can benefit and divide. His songwriting is brilliant.
“Jesus came back, like the prodigal son.
He said ‘Hold up, wait up, what’s going on? I never said nothing like that… ‘but they weren’t convinced.
And he said ‘I’ll be right back,’ we saw him cutting across the lawn.
Then we ain’t seen him since.
Outside the first circle are the ones who didn’t try.
The first circle is where I’ve set my sights.
Talking to the poets, telling them your name.
They’ll laugh and say that I’ll never be the same.
They’ll say ‘let’s have a toast to the one above! L-U-V we’re only talking about love.’”
Sophie Meiers – “Collar” (Durango, CO, USA)
RIYL: Girlpool, Barrie, TUMMYACHE
The music of Sophie Meiers is kind of fascinating. The Coloradoan released a pair of records in 2018 that featured a wide range of influence from lo-fi beats to some stunning throwback pop music. They followed that up with a fantastic and similarly diverse EP in 2020, You and Me Again. Last year, Meiers released “Mutt”, which featured yet another new sound for the songwriter, sounding more indie-rock than anything we’d heard from them before.
That transition into an indie-rock songwriter may be continuing with “Collar”. With a bass line reminiscent of “Walk on the Wild Side”, the song’s minimal composition really makes everything interesting. Just some drums and fairly simple guitar comes in throughout the track, putting Meiers’ voice right in focus. Meiers describes the song as “about words hanging in the air, unspoken and magnetic, filling space with blood orange light.” Between the words they’ve chosen, and the atmosphere generated by the whole package, they’ve nailed it.
“Haven’t really got a chance to tell you how I feel
and my chest feels weird
I could only say it in so many sentences
so I write lyrics, for your ears”
The single is out on Epitaph Records.
Deserta – “Where Did You Go” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, Mogwai
One of our most anticipated albums of 2021 is just a month away. Specifically, Deserta‘s Every Moment, Everything You Need will be unveiled in its entirety on February 25th. Early singles – the post-rock / shoegaze weightlessness of “Goodbye Vista”, “Lost in the Weight”, and “I’m So Tired” – heightened the anticipation for Matthew Doty’s LP, which promises to be an out-of-body, out-of-this-world experience, and “Where Did You Go” only verifies this belief.
Like his previous releases, the song is pure ecstasy. It is a dazzling trip through the cosmos that is, at first, calm and stunning. Doty’s voice, too, sounds like from another dimension or world, as it is part alien and another part pixey like. This only adds to the fantasy feel; that is until the over-driven, reverb-drenched guitars enter the fray. Suddenly, the track erupts into an array of brilliant sound, colors, and textures, as he recounts the journey of another, who could be his partner, his parents, or his young child. “Maybe like a wild creature / There’s no questioning your path / Or maybe you’re the center / No one’s counted in your math”, he eloquently recites. Or maybe this is our journey, one that for 5.5 minutes is full of wonder, delight, and awe.
NoSo – “Honey Understand” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: SASAMI, Hana Vu, Nilüfer Yanya
Abby Kwong, a.k.a. NoSo, took a short break from music. Just a few singles from a few years ago along with a mix of YouTube content are all that exist of NoSo’s discography. However ,once you hear her latest single, it’s easy to see why she’s Partisan Records‘ newest signing. Last year, NoSo released the lush pop track “Suburbia”, and they just followed it up with “Honey Understand”.
“Honey Understand” has a bit of a cinematic feel in its early moments, and that’s intentional. Lyrically, NoSo says the song was drawn from “insanely melodramatic screenplays” they wrote during quarantine. Musically, it fits those European spy flicks, with a pulsing bass line in the verses. The song then erupts into gorgeous choruses with synth and wonderful harmonies. It’s a fantastic single that’s as creative as it is catchy.
“Honey Understand” is out now. Check it out here.
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