In part 1 of 2 mini-playlists on this Friday, February 18th, The Matinee ’22 v. 021 features seven incredibly crafted songs that range from superb songwriting to immersive and elegant compositions. The first five songs are from established artists and bands while the final two are hidden gems waiting to be discovered. For Part 2 – the North America Edition – click here.

As always, these seven tracks are on the Songs of February 2022 playlist, which is available on SoundCloud and Spotify. Happy weekend everyone!

 

Sinead O’Brien – “Holy Country” (Limerick, Ireland)

RIYL: a young P.J. Harvey, Kate Bush, Dry Cleaning

After blowing our mind with “GIRLKIND” and landing on our list of Artists to Watch in 2022, Sinead O’Brien shared the news we’ve been waiting to hear for 6-plus weeks. Her debut album, Time Bend and Break The Bower, is coming in a few months. The LP will include the aforementioned “GIRLKIND”, which demonstrated her poignant lyrical prowess and edgy but unique post-punk sound. To prepare us for the June 10th release date, she delivers another awesome track. Let us repeat that, another AWESOME track in “Holy Country”.

The Irish post-punk-poet keeps the music minimalist on her latest single. There aren’t the over-driven guitars or explosive rhythms as heard on IDLES’ or The Murder Capital’s songs. Instead, she takes a page out of P.J. Harvey’s youth, where the most astounding element resides in not the artificial (i.e., the instrumentation) but in the natural (i.e., her words). As the terrific rhythm section drive the pulsating melody, she tells a story that merges fantasy with reality. Her lyrics could be something out of a future episode of The Witcher or a re-imagination of The Iliad. And yet, it seems all so real where the select few turn the dials that run our world.

“Whispers of a holy country
The giants of time are turning tunes
Take me to taste
The secrets of the saints
Drink the water well
Walk on this land
And call on my own name
Into the hollow
I have a soft fascination with these things”

AWESOME! O’Brien’s debut album, Time Bend and Break The Bower, is out June 10th on Chess Club Records. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available here. We said it then and we’ll say it now, O’Brien is destined to be a star.

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Fontaines D.C. – “I Love You” (Dublin, Ireland)

RIYL: Joy Division, Iceage, The Cure

Although Grian Chatten, Conor Deegan III, Carlos O’Connell, Conor Curley, and Tom Coll are only entering their fifth year as Fontaines D.C., it’s time to recognize them as one of the greatest post-punk bands in history. They’ve already released two stellar albums – Dongrel and A Hero’s Death – and at their current trajectory they should reach Joy Division-level of adoration. At the very least, they are one of the three or four outstanding post-punk outfits of the past decade – heck bands of any genre. The Dublin five-piece could cement their status as an all-time great with their third LP, Skinty Fia.

The album’s lead single, “Jackie Down The Line”, exhibited the band expanding its sound by infusing a touch of Brit-pop. On “I Love You”, however, Fontaines D.C. return to the darkness and deliver one of the great songs of the past ten years.

Despite it’s title, “I Love You” is not a love song. It is rather a political track that critiques the very foundations of our society. Chatten addresses how capitalism has no bounds, the selfishness of individuals, how doors are only opened to those who fit a certain image, and the increasing divisions between neighbors and citizens. Yet through it all, we still love the world we have created. Chatten’s songwriting is superb, and the foreboding Gothic bleakness established by his bandmates is sheer artistic genius. The sonic intensity is part Joy Division and part The Cure, where we want to shield our eyes but we cannot. We just stare straight ahead, overwhelmed yet again by arguably one of the best bands in the world.

“Selling genocide and half cut pride I understand
I had to be there from the start, I had to be the fucking man
It was a clamber of a life I sucked the ring off every hand
Had’em plying me with drink, even met with their demands
When the cherries lined up I kept the spoilings for myself
’till I had 30 ways of dying looking at me from the shelf”

Fontaines D.C.’s third album, Skinty Fia, drops April 22nd on Partisan Records. Pre-orders available here and directly on Bandcamp.

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Opus Kink – “I Love You, Baby” (Brighton, England)

RIYL: Gogol Bordello + IDLES + The Blinders + Elvis Presley

Despite being just two songs into their career, Opus Kink made such an impression with “Wild Bill” and “This Train” that they were one of our Favorite Hidden Gems of 2021. Although maybe we should have named them one of our Artists to Watch in 2022. But don’t take our word for how great this band is because fans across the UK are packing their shows – they’re selling out venues from 200 to 1200 people, which is really impressive for an outfit just starting out. Now concertgoers and music fans have another song to delight and, well, lose their shit in “I Love You, Baby”.

This, too, is not the typical love song by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, it might be a love song made for the ghouls, goblins, and vampires that walk the streets at night. Or it could be a song on a sequel or remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But for us, we manically dance to the theatrical gypsy- and desert-psych-infused post-punk, raising our arms up in the air with every blow of the horns while bopping to the awesome guitar jingle. Our minds, meanwhile, are entertained by Angus Rogers’ ghoulish tale of obsessive love, where the Beast desires to win the heart of the one with Beauty.

Opus Kink are Angus Rogers (vocals, guitars), Sam Abbo (bass), Jazz Pope (keys, synth), Jack Banjo Courtney (trumpet), Jed Morgans (alto saxophone), and Fin Abbo (drums). Their yet-to-be-named debut EP will be released this spring on Nice Swan Records.

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Nilüfer Yanya – “anotherlife” (London, England)

RIYL: Yumi Zouma, Connie Constance, Millie Turner

Only two weeks separate us and Nilüfer Yanya‘s new album, PAINLESS. So far, she’s shared two extraordinary songs in “midnight sun” and “Stabilise”. Each possessed the traits that have made Yanya a favorite within indie circles – her smokey vocal, intimate yet relatable stories, and sultry grooves. On “anotherlife”, however, she changes things up a touch, delving more into nostalgia.

The song is a treasure trove. The shallow, dissonant guitar is reminiscent of mid-’80s pop while synth-pop and new wave of that decade pierce through with the shimmering synths. Meanwhile, the rhythm section is adorned with early-’90s R&B textures, as light beats and an extended bass envelop around Yanya’s soothing voice. Although the song sounds like the perfect late-night slow dance, the tale is one of unrequited love and the realization it’s time to move one. Few can tell this story as intimately and as real as Yanya.

“I don’t act my age
Now you kick my love away
I can’t stop.
Already running late
All I wanna do is say
If it hurts you to leave me
Are you okay
Losing everything?
After last time believe me
That I’m all right”

PAINLESS officially arrives March 4, 2022 via ATO Records. Pre-orders are available here and on Bandcamp.

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TV Priest – “One Easy Thing” (London, England)

RIYL: Protomartyr, The National, The Murder Capital

Artists draw inspiration from many things, mostly crafting songs based on their personal experiences or their observations of the world. Sometimes, however, the inspiration is not so obvious, which brings us to TV Priest‘s newest single, “One Easy Thing”.

Most of the London-based post-punk outfit’s songs have been very socially and politically oriented and often done with wit. They’ve addressed how religion can alter people’s perceptions of the world, capitalism and greed, disintegration of neighborhoods, and the perpetual cycle of violence. “One Easy Thing”, however, is not like “Lifesize”, “Decoration”, or “Press Gang”. Musically, the band tone down the noise, reverting to a methodical mix of grizzled art-rock à la The National with Protomartyr-like math-punk. Despite the calmer approach, the song still is intense, highlighted by the crunchy lead guitar and the fantastic, trembling rhythm section.

Charlie Drinkwater, meanwhile, tells a tale of a down-on-his-luck individual. The character could be any man, but from the video and lyrics he could be Don Quixote. With his sidekick Sancho Panza, Spain’s most (in)famous wannabe knight spent months trying to bring his fantasies to life. “One Easy Thing” could be the dénouement to Don Quixote’s story, as exhaustion finally sets in from his misadventures.

“I’m reaching
I’m stumbling over my own feet
Day after day
Praying I wake up in a foreign land
So varied and strange
In another body
In a shapeless frame”

TV Priest are Charlie Drinkwater (vocals), Alex Sprogis (guitar), Nic Smith (bass, keys), and Ed Kelland (drums). The single is out on Sub Pop Records. Surely a new album is coming.

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Lunar Isles – “Subnivean” (Cheongju-si, Republic of Korea)

RIYL: a dreamier Washed Out, DIIV, and Wild Nothing

We have no idea who Lunar Isles is. We don’t know his name, but we do know he lives in South Korea. What brings him to the country on Asia’s east coast also is unknown to us, but his dream-pop approach sounds like it comes from Los Angeles or Brooklyn. If he resided in one of these music meccas, Captured Tracks, Sub Pop, Partisan, Secretly Canadian, Dead Oceans, or Jagjaguwar probably would have signed him by now. Maybe this could still happen, especially after people hear “Subnivean”.

The single is extraordinary shoegaze-drenched dream-pop. It sounds like it could be right out of the archives of Washed Out’s, DIIV’s, or Wild Nothing’s catalogue, but instead it has been conceived by a mysterious individual. The light, gauzy guitar and the delicate rhythms are classic in their approach; however, they’re masterfully executed. Lunar Isles’ vocal has just the right amount of echo and autotune to give it a lush and embracing feel, where it sounds like a calm ocean breeze. Or maybe it’s the light blast of winter’s chill, as “Subnivean” is the area between the surface of the ground and the bottom of the snowpack. In this place, we find the Cheongju-si-based artist waiting out the cold and counting down the days when he can live again. And when he can hopefully fall in love.

Check out Lunar Isles’ Bandcamp page to hear more of his sublime dream-pop.

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Lucy Feliz – “Forget Me Nots” (Brighton, England)

RIYL: Julia Jacklin, Grace Gillespie, Angel Olsen

In 2020, Lucy Feliz released the absolutely stunning Last of the Sun. It was a record defined by shimmering guitar work and ethereal harmonies, as well as some really personal and impactful lyricism centered around identity. It was a fantastic debut record that sounded like something from an artist and songwriter with much more experience.

On her latest single, “Forget Me Nots”, Feliz keeps up that engaging and thought-provoking lyricism. Feliz takes small moments as reminders and turns them into a stunner of a song. Vocally, Feliz’s approach is fairly reserved, and it draws listeners in quite nicely, especially when it’s layered over a fantastic rhythm section and dreamy guitar. There’s also just a terrific guitar solo mixed in, after which, Feliz’s voice kicks into another gear. Everything fades away, except her voice and guitar, which all rejoin in a truly striking moment. 

“Back in the long grass see the picket fence
Touching my face I feel you there
Sensory overload is my defence
And I can sense your unaware”

We found another favorite singer-songwriter from the UK, who is signed with OK Pal Records.

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