The Matinee ’22 v. 017 is a sonic adventure filled with unexpected moments of bliss, starkness, euphoria, and harrowing uncertainty. The nine songs featured today all tell a story – most within superb storytelling and one without uttering a single word.
Sunflower Bean – “Who Put You Up to This” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: St. Vincent, Wolf Alice, Molly Burch
Sunflower Bean burst onto the scene in 2016 with the fantastic Human Ceremony. It was a record rooted in 1970s rock ‘n roll and psychedelia. It was a perfect indication of the potential the young trio of Julia Cumming (she/her) (vocals, guitar, bass), Nick Kivlen (he/him) (guitar, bass), and Olive Faber (she/they) (drums) had. They followed Human Ceremony up with the poppier but still stellar Twentytwo In Blue, featuring the Fleetwood Mac-esque hit “I Was a Fool”. Late last year, the trio released “Baby Don’t Cry”, which indicated an edgier, louder sound.
Their latest single, “Who Put You Up To This”, fits somewhere in between the worlds of those first two records. Heavy, distorted bass and a great drumbeat add a killer grove to the track. Nick Kivlen’s guitar work is stellar as well with a fantastic solo breaking up the song. Cumming’s voice is as dreamy as ever, but its lyrics paint a more frustrated picture.
“In another life I was a bitch
In another life I was your bitch
Here’s how it turned out”
Sunflower Bean’s new album, Headful of Sugar, is out May 6th on Mom + Pop Music. Links to purchase the album and tickets to the trio’s forthcoming tour are available here. The LP can also be picked up on Bandcamp.
Sadurn – “Snake” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Waxahatchee, Pinegrove, Big Thief
Sadurn started as a solo project for Genevieve DeGroot (they/them), and their early releases very much feel like individual efforts. In 2019, Sadurn released Gleam, a heartfelt, acoustic folk EP, as well as a collaborative EP with Philly’s Ther as well. This week, Sadurn announced they will be releasing their full-length debut, Radiator.
The first single from the LP is the twangy “Snake”. A full band sound, but one that accentuates all that makes Sadurn’s solo releases so powerful. DeGroot’s voice has an understated power to it, going from a wavering quality in the song’s early moments to becoming a confident force in the song’s final moments. Add in some wonderful guitar work and great harmonies, and the result is an all-around fantastic sound on “Snake”. It feels like DeGroot takes small moments and turns them into something bigger. It’s even a theme in the lyrics.
Honey I was right, I thought about it all night
I looked the snake right in his face, I’ve seen the way he blinks that eye at me
But I am not afraid, I’ve heard we’re all gonna die
In a cascade of system failure or in the blink of an eye
Barrie – “Jenny” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Soccer Mommy, Gabby’s World, Trace Mountains
When we covered the previous Barrie single, “Quarry”, we talked about how much has changed for Barrie Lindsay over the last two years. Despite it feeling like time stood still, it was a tumultuous pair of years for most of us. Barrie lost her father, but also fell in love with her now wife. On “Quarry”, Barrie sang about falling in love during the pandemic. On her newest single, “Jenny”, Barrie captures those first few days of knowing her now-wife, Gabby Smith (Gabby’s World).
Drenched in reverb and a lo-fi sound, guitar welcomes listeners warmly to “Jenny”. Things become clearer as the song progresses as bass, drums, and a clean guitar track join. Barrie’s voice floats over the track nicely, occasionally accompanied by harmonies singing the song’s namesake in the choruses. The tail end of the song is a gorgeous slice of Americana music: big harmonies, acoustic guitar, and an organ bubbling under everything.
Jo Schornikow – “Visions” (Nashville, USA via Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: First Aid Kit, Phosphorescent, Hospitality
Jo Schornikow‘s 2019 record, Secret Weapon, was an absolute stunner. Its folky roots occasionally traded in for lush and beautiful synthesizer, creating a fantastic dynamic. It was also a great example of how great of a songwriter Schornikow really is, singing of the life-changing experiences that motherhood brought to her. The cover of the record featured her and her partner’s, Matthew Houck (Phosphoresent), children with her on the album’s cover.
On her newest single, “Visions”, Schornikow connects even deeper with her folk roots. It’s a song that feels much more upbeat than the more solo-affairs of her previous records. It’s a style that really shines, especially with her smooth voice guiding listeners. The song has a bit of a nostalgic quality as well, thanks to some synth, and dreamy harmonies throughout. Its overall vibe really matches the creativity and skill one would expect out of someone who’s a long-time member of Phosphorescent’s touring band. Lyrically, it matches the nostalgic and dreamy qualities of the music, using imagery of passing time on the road, looking back at relationships and moments, captured in a mirror.
“When you speak the sound is sunlight on a mirror
So bright and full of light it’s hard to hear ya
when it calls it calls your name
When it calls it calls in strange ways
Like a flash in the dark
Locking eyes with a passing car, o boy;
Was a vision only
You were right, it was hard
Now it’s lights, now it’s passing on me;
Was a vision only”
Egopusher – “Patrol Rework” (Zurich, Switzerland)
RIYL: M83 with Kishi Bashi, Air, Jon Hopkins
We are in the golden age of music – or at least independent music. With open ears and an open mind, finding music that goes beyond the usual cookie-cutter approaches is easy. It just takes a bit of effort or for a boutique label like Quiet Love Records to introduce people to artists we otherwise would not have heard. The Swiss company gave us our first experience with the post-rock Holm, and now they help reveal the talents of drummer/producer Alessandro Giannelli and violinist Tobias Preisig, who together are Egopusher.
The duo are what we imagine a collaboration between Anthony Gonzalez (a.k.a. M83) and Kishi Bashi would sound like, masterfully blending neoclassical, ambient, cinematic indie, and electronica. Or in other words, they create out-of-body experiences like they do with “Patrol Rework”. A delicate keys and synth arrangement provides the foundation to this intergalactic romance. The atmosphere is serene yet breathtaking, and it becomes even more dazzling when Preisig’s somber violin slices through the ambiance. Every stroke of the strings may induce gasps of awe and wonder while at the same time offering a brief reprieve from the troubles that surround us. Now imagine what the pair could do if given 2 hours to perform at the Vienna Opera House or the Peter Harrison Planetarium in London. Or maybe they’ll get their break by scoring a major motion picture.
Household Dogs – “Jesus in Leather” (Leeds, England)
RIYL: Eagulls or Depeche Mode meets Bambara and The Blinders
Eighteen months ago, a young band from Leeds gave us flashbacks to Eagulls with their dark, sinister, and propulsive approach. Household Dogs did this with “One Last Look Around”, and the sextet are slowly building a portfolio that could very well have them assume Eagulls’ mantle as Leeds’, if not the UK’s, best post-punk band. Inching them closer to these lofty heights is their latest single, which is best heard with the lights dimmed (and you might also want a blanket nearby to cower under).
“Brilliant” and “awesome” undersell “Jesus in Leather”. Every aspect of the song is sensational. Musically, the song is bleak and foreboding, sounding like it belongs in the most haunted houses of the world and in the gallows of the underworld. The methodical pacing of the drums and shallow bass creates the uneasy feeling that something, someone is lurking behind every corner. This sense is further heightened by the steely guitar strikes, which occasionally chime through the darkness. Meanwhile, front-man Declan Newcombe’s voice is controlled and almost unassuming, and his bandmates support him like a Gothic choir. Their vocals add another layer of frightening eeriness. The star of the song, though, is the songwriting, as the band describe how religion has once again become weaponized. Newcombe’s lyrics are dystopian in some ways yet also all too real. His first words are:
“It seems this modern age is leaving me behind
I watch Jesus on his motorbike go by
I was struck by his speed, his stature
Who knew a dead man looked so good in leather”
He later then shares:
“It seems this modern age has left me behind
I’m seeing ghosts out the corners of my eyes
And the televisions flicker, as the lights grow dim and I try to beg forgiveness for each and every sin
But I couldn’t help being born and I couldn’t change when
And I tried to find some meaning in those long-dead men
When I look out the window, what do I see?
I see a saviour draped in leather and they’re staring back at me”
Household Dogs are: Declan Newcombe (lead vocals and guitar), Matthew Fogg (bass), Alex Fletcher (guitar), Ross Day (guitar), Alex Carrie (keyboards and percussion), and Joshua Hagan (drums). Their debut EP, To Be Adored, is coming soon.
No Swoon – “Beside” (Los Angeles via Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Lush, Chapterhouse, Blushing
While Tasha Abbot (vocals, guitar) and Zack Nestel-Patt’s (bass, keys) project No Swoon has been around for a few years, the duo have only more recently gained traction within the competitive indie scene. Whether the move to LA from Brooklyn has opened new avenues or music fans, like us, are finally paying attention (probably the more likely reason), the answer will be a mystery. But at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is we acknowledge that Abbot and Nestel-Patt possess a special gift – the ability to make us, well, swoon with their immersive brand of dream-pop. They did this with “Again”, which was like the North Star shining brightly in a sea of constellations. They further live up to their name with “Beside”.
This song has been in the making for more than a year. If you search hard enough, a demo of the track can be found, and that version sounds as pristine as the finished track. The interaction between the bubbling keys, the chiming guitar, and the stuttering percussion is playful yet blissful, feeling like the calm that follows the storm. Feeling like the sunshine that breaks through the clouds to remind us that the worst has passed. The source of this warmth resides in Abbot’s stunning voice. As much as she brings a smile on her face, she seeks someone to listen to her thoughts as well as shine a light on her.
There’s no shape in sight
The laughter nearby
Is growing in size
There’s no other sound
Just laughter around
Hear it now, hear it now
Haven’t caught a breath
There’s no reason to wonder why”
This stunning number is taken from No Swoon’s forthcoming new album, Take Your Time. It drops out April 8th. Pre-orders available at Bandcamp.
Wings of Desire – “Perfect World” (London, England)
RIYL: Nation of Language, New Order, Joy Division
One of the great DIY success stories of the current decade is Nation of Language, who released two of the best synth-pop albums in history. So who could be this year’s NOL? For an answer, one only needs to look at who their tour mates were for the recent gigs in the UK. They are, of course, Wings of Desire, who admittedly are personal favorites of ours.
Our fandom of Chloe Little and James Taylor’s latest project stretches back to their time when they formed one-half of INHEAVEN. While we miss that great indie band, Little and Taylor still create boisterous, anthemic songs with meaningful stories. Their debut EP, Amun-Ra, , which included standouts “Choose A Life” and the super-energetic “OUTTAMAMIND”, showcased their artistic talents. They are now ready to take another step into indie spotlight, and “Perfect World” is the launching point.
The song is what we imagine a sequel to Joy Division’s classic tune, “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, would sound like musically and lyrically. A tug-of-war is felt throughout: the calm and endearing synth-pop approach rings of New Order in their early days, yet urgency and uncertainty is heard through the blustery synths and chiming guitar. Taylor’s voice, too, is filled with conflicting emotions. He wants to believe that things will get better, but everything happening around him points to the opposite.
“Life ain’t no sin
And love will never win
Oh how can you spread
Your golden wings
In a city
That never gives?
I know it ain’t no perfect world
But I will stand by her
When life it falls apart
Oh heaven ain’t too far
In a perfect world”
The single is out on the duo’s boutique label WMD Recordings. 2022 could be the year of Wings of Desire.
Battle Ave. – “Core” (Kingston, NY USA)
RIYL: Porridge Radio, Pottery, Deeper
After a decade-long hiatus, Battle Ave. returned last year with their self-titled EP. It was largely grounded in the indie rock of their youth, specifically the ’90s and bands like Pavement, Yo La Tengo, and Neutral Milk Hotel. It was a history reinventing itself, as the album featured the wit of Stephen Malkmus and the immediacy of Jeff Mangum. Now that Jesse Doherty, Samantha Niss, Adam Stoutenburgh, John Burdick, and Peter Naddeo have released 10 years of archival material, they are now looking to the future. This means heading into new territory for them and unexpected arenas.
On “Core”, the band traverse into the dark, dense world of slowcore. The track is methodical, pensive, and heavy, feeling more like music made for a wake than a celebration. However, beauty does also exist in this bleak environment, as the underlying, steely guitar provides the thread of light for us to hold on to until the very end. This is the genius of the band – delivering unexpected contrasts that makes us contemplate our own existence in these stark times.
“Meet me on the prison floor
I need something to keep warm
Put my hand on top of yours
Carry in the apple core”
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