From pensive numbers to new takes on heartbreak to some fuzzy delights, The Matinee ’22 v. 016 kicks off the work week with ten songs to get you through the various stages of Monday. One newcomer is in the midst of this alumni-dominated mini-playlist.

And as always, these tunes are included in the Songs of February 2022 playlist. Find it on SoundCloud and Spotify.

 

Mall Girl – “For Hannah” (Oslo, Norway)

RIYL: Sun June, Okay Kaya, Kluster B

When releasing a song as cool and reinvigorating as “Bubbly Cool Drink”, it was easy to say that one day in the near future Mall Girl would become everyone’s obsession. An even easier decision was made in naming Iver Armand Tandsether, Hannah Veslemøy Narvesen, Eskild Myrvoll, and Bethany Forseth-Reichberg as Artists to Watch for 2022. The quartet are extremely malleable, shifting within and between songs as easily as the wintry North Sea breezes. With their debut album, Superstar, three months away (April 29th to be precise via Jansen Records), they provide another example of their fluid art with “For Hannah”.

An angular guitar twists through the stunning and immersive dream-pop textures – dreamy math-pop if you will – to create a sound that entirely belongs to Mall Girl. A confluence of emotions emerges from the approach – fragility, vulnerability, calm, and even a bit of a joy when the jangly notes emerge. Holding everything together is Rorseth-Reichberg’s gorgeous voice, which is the song’s centerpiece. Intimately and beautifully she sings to Hannah (we’re not sure if this bandmate Hannah or another friend) and offers her eternal love and friendship.

“In the pocket of your dress
You keep your secrets
Can’t see all your sorrow
If we’re moving

Will you run this time,
Will you catch me now,
Or fall in love with?

Will you run this time
Will it ease my mind?
I’m waiting here for you
I’m waiting here for you”

Stunning. Don’t wait, however, to pre-order Superstar on Bandcamp. It should be one of the great debuts of the year.

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Arlo Parks – “Softly” (London, England)

RIYL: Connie Constance, Joy Crookes, Remi Wolf

An Artist to Watch alumnus with a previously listed Most Anticipated Album. A sensational sophomore LP in Collapsed in Sunbeams, which was not just one of 2021’s great LPs but also awarded the Mercury Prize as THE Best UK Album of the Year. And it all started innocently in 2018 when Arlo Parks released “Cola”. The multi-talented, London-based artist – who also illustrates comic books, writes poetry, and has dabbled in film – never fails to impress. And she’s just 21 years old! Her success can be tied to her unmatched ability to communicate, provoke, and leave listeners wanting more. She’s undoubtedly a star who’s on the fast track to legendary status, and her ascent accelerates with “Softly”.

As she’s done over and over, she’s merges multiple genres into an engaging and immediate ear-worm. Alt-pop melodies, R&B grooves, downtempo beats, and jazz-like percussion swell together to create a sound that is familiar yet fresh. Despite the song’s feelgood vibe, Parks sings about heartbreak, but in a way she only can do. She sings about a relationship’s final days, where a person tightly holds on to the fraying thread that connects the two. Parks understands it will break, but she has not give up just yet.

“The pressure thuds behind my eyes
You look at me as if it’s my fault that we’re stood here
The cobalt of your scarf has pulled clear
Stealing me traffic cones, smiling at babies

I must admit I wanted you to save me
Now I’m sat on the ground, feeling half crazy
I don’t want you to go
Oh, won’t you…

Break it to me, break it to me, break it to me
Break it to me softly, I don’t want no one else”

The single is out PIAS and Transgressive Records.

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Psychedelic Porn Crumpets – “Bubblegum Infinity” and “Dread & Butter”  (Perth, Australia)


RIYL: Tame Impala, Morgan Delt, George Harrison

Back in October of last year when Psychedelic Porn Crumpets laid down the hammer on “Lava Lamp Pisco”, we openly asked if a new album in 2022 was coming. Sure enough, Night Gnomes will be released on April 22nd via Marathon Artists. In an era where more psychedelic bands are heading towards the disco realm, hearing an album with some old-school guitar licks and wall-trembling rhythms will be refreshing. This is not to pigeonhole Jack McEwan (guitar, vocals), Luke Parish (guitar), Luke Reynolds (bass), Chris Young (keys), and Danny Caddy (drums) as one-trick ponies. Quite the contrary, they clearly are one of the best psych outfits around with their ability to take listeners to the far reaches of the cosmos to Hades’ underworld and everywhere in-between. As evidence of their wide-ranging abilities, they share two awesome yet divergent singles.

“Bubblegum Infinity” is a megaton trip. It starts calmly at first, as the fuzzed-filled guitars and bustling rhythms are held back at first. McEwan, meanwhile, looks both inward and around him. He wonders out loud if he’s out of place, whether other people have found their calling, or maybe the world is just completely whacked. 

I’m in need of ideologies, a philosophy on life
I’ve been researching millenia’s views wondering why
Everyone I read about someday went off their rocker
And I thought, ‘Excellent news, I’ll get back to
Tightening up all of my loose screws'”

As he attempts to figure out this puzzle, the instrumentation gradually builds before reaching its explosive, mind-bending finale. The moment is an out-of-body experience.

On “Dread & Butter”, the band pull things back with McEwan handing in his electric guitar for an acoustic one. The band channel a combination of George Harrison, Simon & Garfunkel, and Queen on this easy-listening, sun-kissed number that has a surprise addition – a string arrangement. The cellos and violins add a bit of mystery and grace to this tune about self-doubt and lost innocence. Once again, McEwan’s songwriting is stellar (he’s one of the most underrated songwriters of the past decade).

“Cannonball into the calm, waiver all lingering doubt
Feel the sun hit on the roof of my mouth
Do you think that when you die you get a list of what you’ve done?
So you can watch yourself back, growing up”

Pre-saves for Night Gnomes are available here

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HVOB – “Eyes Alive” (Vienna, Austria)

RIYL: Trentemøller, Dahlia Sleeps, Portishead

Although Anna Müller and Paul Wallner can create rapturous dancehall, club, and techno music, in our humble opinions, they are at their best when they make HVOB‘s music a multi-sensory experience. This is what separates them from other outfits operating within the electronic sphere – their refusal to cater to any single group, venue, or even planet. When they go widescreen and interstellar, their music reaches heights that few can can reach, and they raise the bar higher with their latest single.

“Eyes Alive” is another example of the Austrian duo’s cinematic brilliance. Müller’s stunning voice effortlessly floats over an intoxicating, dream-laced arrangement. It all feels like a gentle ride over tranquil seas, but the unseen undercurrent is fierce. She brittlely sings,

“All that afloat had to be true
I threw myself in to you
No matter what is lost today

The tides begin to the rise and Wallner’s production turns dark and heavy, as pulsing techno downbeats and deep, hallow synths spark the air. Müller’s voice returns as does the calm. For now, the storm has passed and the beauty returns. This, however, is only temporary, as the turbulence once again arrives. But is this the sea raging or Müller’s mind that is storming?

Pre-orders / -saves for the duo’s forthcoming fifth album, TOO, are available here ahead of its April 8th release.

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King Hannah – “Big Big Baby” (Liverpool, England)

RIYL:  PJ Harvey + Widowspeak + Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys + Chelsea Wolfe

PJ Harvey has been sharing the demos from some of her early albums, and the recordings give a hint at how something raw can be powerful. They also show how she’s been one of the most influential musical forces over the past 30-plus years. She’s a maverick that has paved the way for numerous musicians and bands to create bone-chilling, Gothic art. Among those she’s inspired are King Hannah, a band that could one day follow in the legend’s footsteps and become Mercury Prize winners on the strength of songs like “Big Big Baby”.

The Hannah Merrick / Craig Whittle-founded band unleash a dreamy terror with their newest single. It crawls with a dark, methodical approach, as rumbling, reverb-drenched guitars hover below and then over the low throbs of the percussion. The soundscape is stark, foreboding, yet hypnotic. One cannot peel way their ears from this enchantment, which is further heightened by Merrick’s seductive vocal. Like a watcher hidden in the shadows, she narrates, with a tinge of menace and vindictiveness in her voice, a weak, potentially abusive, man’s tale.

“I heard you got a lady pregnant, well I can only wish her well.
‘Cause soon you’ll have a bigger baby, in the family than yourself.

I can’t explain,
you were a pain pain pain pain. I can’t explain,
you were a big big baby.

I hope you choke on, on a dumpling, at least that would be mildly fun.
And more exciting than just sitting, watching you eat them one-by-one.”

King Hannah are Hannah Merrick (vocals), Craig Whittle (guitar), Ted White (synths), Jake Lipiec (percussion), and Olly Gorman (bass). The band’s new album, I’m Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me, is out February 25th via City Slang. Pre-orders available here and on Bandcamp to hear whether it is Mercury Prize worthy.

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SLANT – “75” TV Screen” (Brighton, England)

RIYL: The Poppy Family + Pat Benatar + Springtime Carnivore

Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. In looking back, we probably should have named SLANT as either one of our favorite discoveries or Artists to Watch in 2022. The English quintet are turning retro contemporary, which they demonstrated on the immensely catchy and witty “Eat The Moon”. While Katy Smith, Frankie Stanley, Aurora Bennett, James Virtue, and Jamie Broughton channel the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s in their music, they’re not replicating the love-stricken and broken-heart themes of that era. On the contrary, the young Brighton-based group have focused their attention on the fall of humanity, as technology is the obsession. They brilliantly tackle this issue on “75” TV Screen”.

This multi-era number is the personification of musical ingenuity. It’s complex and layered with numerous sounds and influences – ’70s psych-pop of The Poppy Family, gorgeous harmonies akin to The Mamas & the Papas, and Bowie-esque glam-pop moments. A dash of Pat Benetar-like attitude is also heard when Stanley’s deep vocal is heard on the bridge. Smith’s sparkling voice, meanwhile, recalls a young Agnetha Fältskog, and she sings about our incessant need to have the latest gadgets and the biggest things no matter the cost. “Do you leave within your means when you buy your 75” TV Screen?“, she asks almost sardonically. Smith later adds:

“Hello, are you there?
I can’t hear you anymore
Because you need to update your phone once more
Cause the software is blown

And your engine is dead
And your existential crisis is filling you with dread”

Free yourself from your obsessions with SLANT’s forthcoming debut EP, My friends are all machines, which arrives March 18th via Pool Valley Music.

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Jaguar Jonze – “Little Fires” (Brisbane, Australia via Yokohama, Japan)

RIYL: SIA, Kimbra, Ellie Goulding

We don’t normally share a song by an artist about to participate on Eurovision, but Deena Lynch is no ordinary artist. As Jaguar Jonze, she has created fierce art-rock to euphoric alt-pop. Every song she’s released has a fighter’s mentality because Lynch is a survivor. Her story must be attentively read – she was a child refugee, lived alone at a very young age, and was sexually and mentally abuse by industry execs who should have been helping her achieve her dream. Despite all the ordeals, Lynch still finds ways to pick us up. She takes the darkness of her past to shine a light on us, which she does on “Little Fires”.

With its theatrical pop approach that includes an accompaniment of strings, there is little question this song is meant to be performed on Eurovision’s grand stage. We can already see Lynch standing under a single spotlight. As she sings, gasps from the audience will be heard, stunned when she says:

Keeping quiet in the dark
Always was the hardest part
Felt like nobody believed
Thinking I was all alone” 

Gradually the song builds, and as it reaches its euphoric climax the entire stage is lit up. Confetti may rain from the ceiling just as the audience rises to their feet, applauding and shouting just as Lynch encourages us to fight together to get through the turmoil.

“Still alive but underground
We can fan these flames to make a change
And burn this whole thing down
One little spark

The single is out on Nettwerk Music Group.

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amy michelle – “the way i make things feel okay” (Mullinger, Ireland)

RIYL: Clairo, Holly Humberstone, Maple Glider

We’ve often said that first impressions are everything because we have long memories. Back in November of last year, we remember when amy michelle made the hairs on our arms and the back of our necks stand upright with the crippling “the bottom of the well”. It was one of the great debut singles to come around in years, which is why it was included in our Mega, Mega Playlist of 2021. Just in case we were not already weak in the knees, the young Irish singer-songwriter returns to land the knockout blow with “the way i make things feel okay”.

The power of the song lies in michelle’s incredible songwriting. While the solemn and minimalist dark-pop approach, highlighted by the light guitar plucks, is stunning, it is merely the canvas for michelle’s tale of victimization. She makes us realize how so many survivors of abuse often blame themselves for the situation because their oppressor/assailant/abuser has broken them. The song’s opening lines are taken from the 1944 film Gaslight, in which Ingrid Bergman’s husband tries to convince her that she’s going insane. This sets the stage for michelle’s first words, “i never thought i’d feel something that’s less than nothing”, which describe how she feels after meeting a “pretty boy”.

For the next four minutes, she describes the impact of her trying to make things right. But in the process, her body and mind suffer.

“my body has failed me more times than i’d like
i’ve sworn to the moon i’d never leave its sight
if nobody cares now, will they care when i die?
i’ve been pretty sad for quite some time
this is the way i make things feel okay”

The single is out one Method Records, who will release michelle’s debut EP later this year. She’s going to be a star.

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Riley Pearce – “Furniture” (Perth, Australia)

RIYL: Passenger, Hozier, Hayden Calnin

After nearly a decade of sharing singles, Riley Pearce is finally going to release his debut album. The Perth-based singer-songwriter is Australia’s answer to Passenger and The Tallest Man on Earth – an indie-folk artist who equally dazzles with his music, lyrics, and intimacy. Whereas some singers write love songs, Pearce writes great stories. He creates vivid yet poetic scenes where we feel we are the protagonist of his tale or at least comprehend what s/he might be experiencing. This skill was evident on his debut single, “We Are Fools”, and continues with “Furniture”.

The indie-folk melody is superbly lush and immediate, where one can drown in the light guitar strums and the lithe rhythms. Pearce’s voice, too, is equally immersive. He passionately recounts the history of two soulmates who have been together for ages and romanticizes longevity. It’s a song made for our grandparents and parents. For that matter, this is for all the couples of the world, who, regardless of the years they’ve spent together, should play this tune every anniversary.

“Don’t I know you
Swear I’ve seen you every day this week
I remember
You’re that girl that kisses me to sleep

Fancy seeing you around these parts
Your face is so familiar
Oh yeah that’s right you live here too

Simple patterns
What’s been done is all there’ll ever be
Creatures of habits
I’ll shadow you if you can shadow me”

Riley’s long-awaited debut album, The Water & The Rough, will be released June 10th via Nettwerk Music Group.

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