From dancing in the streets to watching a grand theater production and all points above, below, and between, The Matinee ’22 v. 018 is a musical adventure that you cannot find on the radio. Indie stars and future trendsetters occupy today’s mini-playlist, and their new singles also are included on the Songs of February 2022 playlist, which is available on SoundCloud and Spotify. Happy weekend everyone!

 

Foals – “2am” (Oxford, England)

RIYL: Portugal. The Man, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Everything Everything

Just as expected, Foals will be releasing an album this year. Last year’s “Wake Me Up” single was the primary clue that Yannis Philippakis, Jack Bevan, and Jimmy Smith had some grand plans for the new year. Yesterday, the trio made it official – their seventh album, Life Is Yours, will be released this summer. It promises to be “a party album”, although given their history it still will be a very thoughtful effort. Since when has the band ever taken short cuts? So while the sound may be different, the substance remains, as least this is the case for “2am”

Jubilant and exuberant, “2am” is made for a late-night gallop through the deserted city streets. It’s intended to not just raise our heart rate but encourage us to face our fears, demons, and our own indiscretions. This is etched in Philippakis’ lyrics, who sings with a delirious urgency of a broken man. Meanwhile, Bevan and Smith deliver a hip-shaking, toe-tapping, and bop-inducing groove to their front-man recover.

“I lost myself again, I just need time to mend
Some quiet and some care, some time to repair
Would you be my guide? Take me by the side
Make me up a bed, forget the things I said”

The summer cannot come soon enough! 

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The Beths – “A Real Thing” (Auckland, New Zealand)

RIYL: Swearin’, illuminati hotties, Remember Sports

More than 18 months have passed since NZ indie upstarts The Beths released their outstanding album, Jump Rope Gazers, which littered “Best of 2020” lists across the globe, including our own. The LP launched the Tāmaki- (or Auckland-) based quartet into another stratosphere, where they now tour around in a bus. Despite their success, they remain down to Earth and affable, which is reflected in their engagements with fans after gigs and in the songs they write, like “A Real Thing”.

Jittery yet energetic guitars wrap themselves around bustling rhythms and Elizabeth Stokes’ frenetic vocal. It’s all a bit of a frenzy, but a glorious one made for bouncing around the house or energetically jumping at a future The Beths’ gig. Stokes shares that the song is “kind of an anxiety dream”, but it is one with which we all are quite familiar. We share her anxiousness and uncertainty when she sings, “It’s not what I intended when I woke up the house / I was screaming, ‘We’re all gonna die'”. We experience the same feeling that one day the world will end just as we open our eyes.

“Wake me up when the world is fried
And you’re sorry, I see it when you open your mouth
You’ve got one hand over your heart while you’re holding me down
Oh, I want to hope but if that’s not allowed
I guess I’ll go out instead”

The Beths are Elizabeth Stokes (guitar/vocals), Jonathan Pearce (guitar/vocals), Benjamin Sinclair (bass/vocals), and Tristan Deck (drums/vocals). The single is out on Carpark Records. Here’s hoping an album is coming (as we anticipated earlier in the year).

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Market – “Scar” (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: Sufjan Stevens + Destroyer + Chad VanGaalen + Pavement

What would Sufjan Stevens sound like if he decided to suddenly get rambunctious and really playful? Like what if he collaborated with Chad VanGaalen or Stephen Malkmus and the Pavement gang? He would probably sound like Market, the project founded by Nate Mendelsohn, whose falsetto is the perfect amalgamation of Sufjan and Elliott Smith. He also might create a song as clever and amusing as “Scar”.

Supporting every great artist is a group of talented individuals, and on this single Mendelsohn is joined by long-time collaborator Katie Von Schleicher (a personal favorite in these parts), Natasha Thweatt, Stephen Becker, and Duncan Standish. Together, they take the county fare and transplant it in the middle of Wonderland. At first, the song is a delightful, toe-tapping, folk-pop number that induces plenty of smiles (the plucks of the stand-up bass are wonderfully addictive). As the song progresses, it goes off the rails, as the instruments get a little heavier and the arrangement is a bit chaotic. Yet, it is still attention-grabbing. Like every great artist, there is a method to the madness. Or in this case, it’s the madness that resides both in Mendelsohn’s mind and the world we occupy.

“What’s the point of world play
If you’ve got nothing to say?
What’s the point of anxiety
If it still won’t go your way?”

Words to ponder while we wait for the band’s new album, The Consistent Brutal Bullshit Gong, to arrive on April 29th via Western Vinyl. Pre-orders are available here and on Bandcamp.

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Secret Shame – “Hide” (Asheville, NC, USA)

RIYL: Desperate Journalist, Pat Benatar, The Cure

If we’re honest, Secret Shame are a band we quietly obsess over because they put the Gothic into post-punk while also making this harrowing genre into an engrossing experience. If we had not taken a sabbatical in 2019, their EP, Dark Synthetics, would have been on our year-end list. The quintet from North Carolina reek of talent and potential, and the only thing holding them back is that they have yet to release a full-length album. Some want to hear what they can do across eight to twelve songs. For us, we have little doubt they would deliver one gem after another, which they have done throughout their short careers. And the exciting thought is that they’re only getting better because with “Hide” they have released their masterpiece.

“Hide” bursts with nervous yet feverish energy, which is reflected in the pulsating rhythms (the bass line is fantastic). Illuminating these dark, Gothic skies are over-driven and sparkling guitars, which flicker in the distant so that front-woman Lena Machina’s transcendent vocal can shine. She’s the anchor that keeps us grounded within the wave of electrifying, urgent noise. Machina immediately sets the tone of this tale of lost identity, of anxiety, of a world tearing away at the seams:

“I’ve waited to see myself transform but all
Beauty falters without room
to alter, fail and fall
Straight asunder

Later she adds:

“Until the sickness melts off and drops away
Or hold me until I cease to exist
And this mind that never ends
Will end in power
Starve and die”

As the song reaches its epic conclusion, we join her repeated call to “Hide”. There’s no hiding away from this awesome tune that is, and we’ll say it now, a song-of-the-year candidate.

Secret Shame includes Lena Machina (vocals, synth), Aster Nema (guitar), Matthew (bass, backing vocals), Nathan Landolt (drums), and Lemon Malandra (guitar, backing vocals). Fingers crossed that the five-piece’s long-awaited debut is coming this year.

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Kathleen Frances – “Boy” (Bristol, England)

RIYL: Fenne Lily, deryk, Grace Cummings

There are some voices that we could hear to end of our days. Neko Case, Fenne Lily, Hope Sandoval, and Angie McMahon are just some of the names. Another is Kathleen Frances, who made our jaws drop when she shared  “Grown”. Like we said back then, she has a voice for the ages, where one day she could very well hold a multi-month residence at Caesar Palace in Las Vegas. Her enormous potential is why she was one of our Artists to Watch in 2022. Her latest single adds more evidence as to why we think she’s going to be a star.

Sit down, relax, close your eyes, and drown in the melancholic beauty of “Boy”. With mostly just a soft piano supporting her, Frances’ soulful voice is clearly the star. Every note she sings is stunning, and she does it effortlessly. There is nary a quiver in her delivery nor any strain. Furthermore, she doesn’t force the issue like some artists, opting instead to keep her voice restrained so that the raw emotion of her story can be felt. She recalls a time where she shared a moment with another, but it was just that – temporary and now just a distant memory.

“And I can see his face, longing for that better place
When he held me
And I felt weak
But we are not in the same place anymore
Letting go is hard
Letting go is hard”

Frances’ debut EP, Through The Blue, will be released March 2nd. 

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Father John Misty – “Q4” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: obviously Father John Misty… if pressed Weyes Blood, Perfume Genius, John Lennon

Love or despise him, there’s little doubt that about Joshua Tillman’s talent. After leaving Fleet Foxes to start his own solo project as Father John Misty, Tillman has released one outstanding album after another. Consequently, he is unquestionably one of the greatest singer-songwriters in history. His four LPs under the FJM moniker are legendary. To create such extraordinary art, however, takes time, which explains the four-year break between 2018’s God’s Favorite Customer and his forthcoming fifth album, Chloë and The Next 20th Century. He’s already released one song – the clever “Funny Girl” – and the second single is another exquisite affair.

“Q4” is orchestral pop pageantry at its finest. The song soars to theatrical heights, building dramatically with every passing verse. Strings, piano, glockenspiel, and what sounds like a qanun, set the scene for Tillman’s grand storytelling. The whole thing sounds like it belongs on the stages of the Sydney Opera House or the Royal Albert Hall, where we can see Tillman’s imagination come to life. He recites the rise and fall of Simone Caldwell, a fictional author who struggles to find relevance and success in the competitive literary world. Meanwhile, Simone’s sister, Leigh, passes away, adding to her and her family’s troubles. 

It was just the thing for their Q4
‘Deeply funny’ was the rave refrain
It was just the thing for their Q4
It’ll be on stands before the holidays

It was just the thing for their Q4
The film adaptation was a total mess
It was just the thing for their Q4
’Til she was outed for her privilege

It was just a thing for their Q4
Can’t see her brother now unsupervised
It was just the thing for their Q4
Her family switched care right when she inquired…”

So while the story may fictitious, the troubles are very real. That’s the gift of one Joshua Tillman – the ability to take our stories and turn them into something grandeur and more powerful.

Chloë and The Next 20th Century will be released April 8th via Bella Union and Sub Pop. Pre-order the LP here and on Bandcamp.

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Sooner – “Thursday” (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: Makthaverskan, Amason, Alvvays

Fridays are meant for daydreaming – or better yet for our daydreams to come true. Whatever situation we find ourselves, we need a great tune to set the mood. We need a song that gets the heart thumping, the legs churning, the chest swelling, and the mind racing. And new-ish quartet Sooner provide today’s soundtrack with “Thursday”.

This ravishing number is reminiscent of the dream-pop and Scandi-gaze coming from Sweden, and it’s wonderful. The jangly and shimmering guitar and the bouncing rhythms create an atmosphere that is both mesmerizing yet urgent. It’s music intended to induce escapism from this maddening world. Leading us to this imaginative promise land is Federica Tassano, whose ethereal vocal sounds like it is born in the clouds. Like the infectious energy that brims through the song, she seeks to reassure us that our current state is not our fault. And with her, we can get through it. We can, in the process, turn our day dreams into reality. Or at least, we can imagine it’s possible.

Sooner are Federica Tassano (vocals), John Farris (guitar), Tom Wolfson (drums), and Andrew Possehl (bass). Pre-orders for the band’s debut album, Days and Nights, are available on Bandcamp. It is out March 25th on Good Eye Records.

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Stray Fossa – “Transpiring” (Charlottesville, VA, USA)

RIYL: Wild Nothing, Washed Out, Beach Fossils

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, although admittedly we’re not ones to share the typical cheesy love tunes. But putting a love story on its head and telling the tale in different ways? We’re definitely interested, especially when it is set to a blissful piece of dream-pop. This way, we can feel the multiple and sometimes conflicting emotions that love induces. Virginia trio Stray Fossa do this and even more on “Transpiring”.

If you ever wanted to know what it’s like to glide through the clouds, this song is the closest any of us will get to experience such a feeling. Gentle and airy synths, a heart-pounding bass, and some of the most delicate drumming heard this side of Fleetwood Mac create the fleeting sensation. Occasionally, a stirring, crystalline guitar chimes in the distant, offering a brief wake-up call during our levitation. Our minds, though, stay stuck in this wonderful haze, hypnotized by the intoxicating melody and the lush vocals, which are soaked in memory. The lyrics poetically describe how close yet oh so far someone is and, thus, it all feels like a dream.

“I took a walk to the edge
And turned to face the time
Somewhere between now and then

It must have slipped my mind
You were up ahead
In a distant afternoon

Reliving it
Boy, you feel the wait
Was or wasn’t it a dream we had or no?
Now the days are fading (days are fading)”

Stray Fossa are Nick and Will Evans with Zach Blount. Their new album, Closer Than We’ll Ever Know, is out June 3rd on Born Losers Records. It can be pre-ordered on Bandcamp

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Helena Deland – “Swimmer” (Montreal, Canada)

RIYL: Adrianne Lenker, Grace Gillespie, Bedouine

We end the week with a somber and tender ballad whose intention is to tear down the walls we erect and have us see the world in all its splendour. To make us see what we’ve been missing all these years locked inside. It takes a very special artist to make melancholy so powerful, but Helena Deland has been doing this since she released her debut EP, Drawing Room, six years ago. She is Canada’s answer to Adrianne Lenker (of Big Thief), and she showcases her superpowers on “Swimmer”.

With just an acoustic guitar in her hand with the occasional keys popping in the background, the song is minimalist and simple yet incredibly beautiful, pensive, vulnerable, and moving. Deland’s quiet, angelic voice shines, and she reflects on a time when she was at a crossroads and the advice someone gave to her. It may have been her father, a friend, or maybe even Poseidon.

“You say ‘Look at this, the world still spins and beauty will never go
It was there before and will be there more when there’s no I to behold’
How suitable, you the buoy, you arms like silver fins
Your head afloat the golden glow of waves crashing in

If I could make this last
Take more of this moment
Trade in some of my past
You swim
You in it all, letting it all in”

Stunning and what a way to say goodbye to another week. 

The single is out on Montreal-based indie label Chivi Chivi

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