The Matinee ’22 v. 020 delivers nine knockout new singles from indie heavyweights to several contenders to assume the mantle as the best indie artist or band. The mini-playlist is bookend by two of music’s finest singer-songwriters of the past 20 years while in-between are young artists that are equally imaginative as they are provocative. More stellar artistry is featured on the Songs of February 2022 playlist, which is available on SoundCloud and Spotify.

 

Kurt Vile – “Like Exploding Stones” (Philadelphia, USA)

RIYL: Kurt Vile

As if we needed another reason to get excited about what 2022 has in store for music fans, Kurt Vile revealed yesterday that his eighth studio album (nine if you count 2017’s Lotta Sea Lice with Courtney Barnett), (watch my moves), will be released around Easter time. The LP will mark Vile’s first since 2018’s excellent Bottle It In, which unsurprisingly was on several “Best of” lists, including our own. While we were wait to hear the album in full before anointing another master stroke from the Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter, the lead single raises expectations of another stellar output.

While Vile has long been associated with creating indie rock made for road trips, he gets a little woozier on “Like Exploding Stones”. A drifting and jangly Mac DeMarco-esque melody introduces us to Vile’s next chapter. The song is low-key and breezy, making it the ideal tune to pass the time away while watching the clouds float overhead or the waves crash on to shore. His calm vocal has a reassuring charm, which is akin to the Canadian jokester. Vile’s lyrics, though, paint a picture of a man still figuring out his life. Despite a successful career, could the indie stalwart be experiencing a mid-life crisis?

“Pain ricochet in my brain like exploding stones
Thoughts runnin’ round in my cranium like pinball machine-a-mania
Dreamin’ of a time when everything rhymed and I was cool, calm and collected
And all my heroes dropped by just to hear me play

Thoughts become pictures, become movies in my mind
Welcome to the KV horror drive in movie marathon
But I’m just kiddin’ and I’m just playin’
And this is just the way that I’m makin’ a living
Everyday… In my mind and in real life too”

Vile’s next move marathon commences April 15th, which is when (watch my moves) will be released. Verve Records has the honors. Pre-order it here.

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NewDad – “Banshee” (Galway, Ireland)

RIYL: Slow Pulp, Swervedriver, Wolf Alice

Last Friday, a great EP may have hovered under the radar for many music fans, as attention turned to new albums from some of indie’s biggest names. One day, however, NewDad will join the likes Big Thief and Spoon as among the industry’s most celebrated outfits. For now, the Julie Dawson-fronted outfit are one of Ireland’s great treasures, who shine brightly on Banshee. The  mini-album is filled with stunning grunge-gaze and dream-rock, including “Say It” and its title track.

Take a deep breath so that you can inhale every blissful note from “Banshee”. As if it was born in 1997, the song beautifully marries dreamgaze with grunge. The underlying angular and reverb-drenched guitars and the soft pulses of the bass form a sphere around Dawson’s angelic voice. It’s as if Hope Sandoval joined Swervedriver for one track and together they created magic, which is what “Banshee” is. Like the great bands of the nineties, the true meaning of this song lies in Dawson’s words. She sings about the terrors that occupy another person’s mind, and how she goes to great lengths to avoid them. Look more deeply into her lyrics, and that person Dawson sings could very well be us. It could be her.

“And I don’t want
To know about the horrors in your head at night
But I hear them through the walls
Hear the shadows stream and call
And I’m scared of you
Scared of everything you do”

NewDad are Julie Dawson, Áindle O’Beirn, Sean O’Dowd, and Fiachra Parslow. Their awesome, sophomore EP, Banshee, is out now via Fair Youth Records. It can be purchased and streamed here as well as directly on Bandcamp. We’ll say it again: this band is going places.

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Ibeyi – “Sister 2 Sister” (Paris, France)

RIYL: Arlo Parks, Indigo De Souza, Sault

In 2017, French-Cuban twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz – a.k.a. Ibeyi – released Ash, which was a multi-genre, multi-sensory experience that also was a political statement. It put the art into music and reminded us how music can be the most powerful medium to communicate a message. Since then, the sisters were relatively quiet until last week when they shared “Sister 2 Sister”.

Smooth R&B grooves bounce through a sultry pop arrangement, sounding like something Prince may have created for one of his associates like Martika or Támar. The song is executed with surgical precision, where every element can be heard and felt. Nothing is rushed nor over-emphasized, allowing for the soothing melody to cascade over us and for the twins’ words to be heard. Their song is a celebration of their sisterhood as well who they are as individuals. They may be twins, but they also are independent. They may have distinct ambitions, but they will always be bonded by common memories and their love for one another.

“Sister hold me close, Swear you won’t let go
Bounded by our love
I had to tell you
Sister you’re too close, Sister let me go
Us despite it all”

Ibeyi’s new album, Spell 31,  is out May 6th via XL Recordings. Pre-orders are available here.

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Young Prisms – “Self Love” (San Francisco, USA)

RIYL: Lush, Cocteau Twins, Slowdive

We fall head over heels for bands because of how their music makes us feel and the stories that they tell. When we heard “Honeydew” from Young Prisms, we were swept away by their glorious shoegaze sound. We became instant fans, and our admiration for the band grows on “Self Love”.

As wonderful as their previous single was, “Self Love” is a more dazzling affair. It takes shoegaze to even greater breathtaking and dreamy heights not heard since Lush were in their prime. But it’s not just the gauzy guitars, the percolating rhythms, and front-woman Stefanie Hodapp’s otherworldly vocal that leaves us in complete awe. The story, the honesty behind the song is what has rooting for Young Prisms in their quest to become the Bay area’s next big thing. While we try to not cut-and-paste material, sometimes we just need to step aside and let the artist describe what the song is about. For Hodapp, this is her story of sudden change, of what seemed like an endless struggle, and eventually finding a way out. As she shared on Instagram:

“‘Self Love’ is a story of my tendencies to isolate, cut ties, and completely destroy my relationships. Something that was instilled in me since childhood. When I was 26, I found myself with a baby, no income, San Francisco expenses to pay, and a complete loss of identity. I could no longer be utterly careless and treat my life and the things in it as if it were all disposable. Still, I questioned my worthiness of basic essentials and continued my complacency with a low quality of life. I had to try and build something and with time I realized that the foundation of it all was my relationship with myself.”

Young Prisms are: Stefanie Hodapp (vocals, synthesizer), Matthew Allen (vocals, guitar, bass, synthesizer, drum programming), Giovanni Betteo (bass, guitar, synthesizer, drum programming) and Jordan Silbert (drums). Their new album, Drifter, will be released on March 25th via Fire Talk Records. Pre-order it here and on Bandcamp.

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Wallice – “Little League” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: girl in red, Hailey Blais, Beach Bunny

It wasn’t long ago when Wallice Hana Watanabe was a young artist doing everything DIY and with a small following. In the roughly two-plus years since her arrival, she’s developed a massive cult following on the strength of her catchy pop-rock, self-deprecating stories, and engaging videos. Her breakthrough 2021 EP, Off the Rails, was celebrated around the world, including being one of our favorite EPs. Two thousand twenty-two, however, is setting up to be a bigger year for the former East Coast resident with her signing to UK mega indie label Dirty Hit. Soon she’ll be joining her label mates The 1975 and Wolf Alice as massive indie stars with the world dancing and singing along to “Little League”.

The track is extremely Wallice-esque and why she was listed as one of our Artists to Watch this year. Its calm intro is a diversion of what is to come. As Wallice sings about the self-doubt that has lingered in her mind since she’s been a child, the song blossoms into a swirling, dizzying pop-rocker. It is vibrant and energetic, and it is meant to make us feel better about us and not feel like this star-in-the-making.

“I cry myself to sleep because I think everyone hates me
I project all my flaws, I’m such a fucking baby
Over and over again

I think I’m losing all my friends”

Wallice’s new EP is coming this spring on Dirty Hit. It probably will also include the equally catchy, amusing, and honest “Wisdom Tooth”.

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Georgia Harmer – “All In My Mind” (Toronto, Canada)

RIYL: Lucy Dacus, Margaret Glaspy, Katie Tupper

Could Georgia Harmer be the most exciting indie artist to emerge out of Toronto since Alvvays? Could she shoot to stardom like her friend Alessia Cara? While time will ultimately decide the 22-year old artist’s fate, we’re pretty bullish on her potential, as Harmer was one of our Artists to Watch in 2022. The two singles she’s released so far have only reinforced our belief she will be a star. For song number three, Sarah Harmer’s niece continues to build momentum to her eventual breakout.

“All In My Mind” is a toe-tapping pop-rocker that is equally the ear-worm that was “Headrush” and gritty like “Austin”. A restrained, over-driven guitar rumbles alongside a patiently-delivered rhythm section. Occasionally the song bursts, and the push-pull nature reflects Harmer’s frustrations with being treated with kids’ gloves while in a relationship. She wants to feel a spark and not just hear sweet-nothings uttered in her ears.

“I’m sick of these moments
Feeling so special
Show me something I don’t know
Everyone was crowded round the fire
Can we go somewhere alone”

Special should be Harmer’s debut album, Stay In Touch, which will be released April 22nd on Arts & Crafts. Pre-orders are available here.

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Hatchie – “Giving the World Away” (Brisbane, Australia)

RIYL: Cults + Depeche Mode + Warpaint

Harriette Pilbeam’s project Hatchie released a lush ’80s-inspired pop EP in 2018, Sugar & Spice. A year later, she followed it up with a more new-wave and shoegaze approach on Keepsake. It was an album that showed Hatchie slowly finding her footing while also displaying her enormous potential. In the build to Hatchie’s second LP, she released the immense synth-pop single “Quicksand”.

The second single from the forthcoming album is its title track, “Giving The World Away”. Right from the song’s first moments, it’s a stunner. An infectious bass groove makes the whole song undeniably hypnotism. So many little pieces are assembled to give “Giving The World Away” life: a small layer of distorted guitar, some keyboards, piano chords, various percussion instruments. Then there’s Pillbeam’s voice, which is at times absolutely pristine, other times it fades into distortion, but it’s the most powerful we’ve ever heard it get. Pillbeam says the song is about “being gentle with yourself in the throes of depression”, which can be read into her lyrics:

“All it took was a moment of recognition to turn your sweet to sour
But can I offer a reason to re-imagine how you still hold the power?
If you could take a break to recalibrate you’d see beyond the sky
I only want your world to keep you awake
Don’t lose your chance to fly

Giving the World Away officially drops April 22nd. Pre-orders for the Secretly Canadian– / Ivy League Records-distributed LP are available here.

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Scrounge – “This Summer’s Been Lethal” (London, England)

RIYL: Iceage, Fontaines D.C., IDLES

When thinking about the great post-punk bands today, they usually feature three, four, or five members. The bigger the band, the more they’re able to create soundscapes that mirror the dark isolation of Manchester’s hallowed undergrounds or New York City’s dungeons. Then comes along a band of two that changes your perception regarding what is possible. Their name is Scrounge.

While Lucy (vocals, guitar) and Luke (drums, backing vocals) can create fiery, propulsive post-punk, they show that the genre can also be pensive and mysterious yet still gloomy as heard on “This Summer’s Been Lethal”. The pair patiently build the intensity as Lucy’s fiddling guitar rings in the foreground while Luke’s drumming stammers like the pace of a battalion heading into one final battle. As their two instruments escalate, Lucy describes how the perfect storm of disease (COVID), heat, and drought led to one of Europe’s most deadliest summers. All the death has also affected Lucy physically and psychologically. They feel “useless” and “ruthless” with “blood on my heads” because they’ve done nothing. They have only been concerned with their own welfare while others were less fortunate. Now Lucy reminds us to not make the same mistake as the seasons change, which is the mark of a great band.

The single is out on Fierce Panda Records. Catch the duo at SXSW next month and see why Paste Magazine named them one of the best bands they saw in 2021.

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Destroyer – “Eat the Wine, Drink the Bread” (Vancouver, Canada)

RIYL: Baxter Drury, The Operators, Rick Astley

Dan Bejar has become a modern songwriting legend. He’s also nothing short of a creative genius. Always willing to push boundaries with Destroyer‘s music and songwriting, like he did on his previous single, “Tintoretto, It’s for You”. Bejar dug into the surreal, referencing a phone call to an Italian Renaissance painter at the Last Supper. It’s a story few songwriters could tell convincingly, but Bejar is no ordinary artist.

“Eat the Wine, Drink The Bread” continues that twisted religious imagery of the first single and applies a wild disco beat to the whole thing. It’s a song that is a great example of the creativity that Destroyer is willing to push out. The song starts out with some wild drum fills and wild sounds before the song’s great groove kicks in. Bejar’s vocal delivery adds another surreal layer to everything as he sings about pissing on the floor, multiple times. It’s a wild lyrical ride colliding with energetic music, and it’s just a blast to listen to, weirdness and all.

LABYRINTHITIS is set for release on March 25th via Merge Records. Pre-order it here and on Bandcamp.

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