From transcendent affairs to jubilant energizers to pensive melancholy, The Matinee ’22 v. 024 offers a bit of everything on this late winter’s day. As such, the songs featured today come from artists spread out across the globe. Add more sizzle to the day with the Songs of February 2022 playlist. Find it on SoundCloud and Spotify.
Porridge Radio – “Back to the Radio” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Black Country, New Road; Wolf Parade; Wolf Alice
Before Black Midi, Squid, and Black Country, New Road became all the rage within the UK music scene, there was first Porridge Radio. The Brighton-based outfit turned heavy and brooding music into a jarring and emotionally explosive experience. Their 2020 album, Every Bad, was devastating but remarkable, and it is one of the great albums of the past decade if not the 21st Century. So what can music fans expect for a sequel? Will Dana Margolin (vocals, guitar), Maddie Ryall (bass), Georgie Stott (keys), and Sam Yardley (drums) continue down the stark path or turn over a new leaf? If “Back to the Radio” is any indication, the answer is somewhere in between.
The smartly and aptly-titled lead single from Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky might be the brightest song Porridge Radio have crafted. It’s light, xylophone-driven melody has a slight carnival feel, but the understated urgency that fills Margolin’s powerful voice hints at something more pernicious. “Lock all the windows and march up the stairs / And you’re looking to me, but I’m so unprepared for it”, she sings at the start, reflecting on how two people are slowly growing further apart even these are the times they each other the most. Her words are knee-buckling, and we feel her pain as she reaches out her hand but only to grab air. All she can do is repeat:
“So lock all the windows and shut all the doors and get into the house and lie down on the cold, hard floor
Talk back to the radio, think loud in the car, I miss everything now, we’re worth nothing at all”
Simply, well, remarkable.
Elf Power – “The Gas Inside The Tank” (Athens, GA, USA)
RIYL: The Apples in Stereo, Archers of Loaf, Superchunk
Elf Power have been one of the more enduring projects associated with the legendary Elephant 6 collective. Their last record, Twitching in Time, was released in 2017, and it was a fairly folky-affair. It was an album full of the lyrical wisdom and musical confidence one would expect for a band that’s been around for over two decades.
On their first single in five years, “The Gas Inside The Tank”, Elf Power deliver on that raw and fuzzed out folk sound they’ve perfected. Slide guitar over a lo-fi distortion that reinforces the song’s lyrics. It’s a story about a post-apocalyptic time and siphoning gas in order to continue to function. Elf Power also sing of information overload, and the effect it has on heading towards that bleak future. However, beneath the distortion, the song’s cheery chord progression give it so much more depth.
“The Gas Inside The Tank” is the first single from an upcoming Elf Power record. With the release of the single, Elf Power announced they have signed with Yep Roc Records.
Still Corners – “Far Rider” (London, England)
RIYL: Widowspeak, Chromatics, Fleetwood Mac
After releasing their standout The Last Exit LP a year ago, Tessa Murray and Greg Hughes had plans to take their band, Still Corners, on a global expedition in order to guide fans on a sonic adventure through trippy, desert-like landscapes. Those plans obviously were put on hold, and they’ve been rescheduled for this spring and summer. While the delay is disappointing, it also has benefited the group and fans. With the extra time, Murray and Hughes have been busy writing new material, including last September’s transcendent, psych-infused dream-pop number “Heavy Days” and yesterday’s “Far Rider”.
The song is the closest the London-based pair will get to crafting an epic, as the duo take listeners on a seven-minute desert-noir odyssey. Still Corner’s trademark breezy dreaminess is the track’s bedrock, as Murray’s soft and alluring vocal flutters in time with Hughes’ taut, chiming guitar. Listen closely and traces of Fleetwood Mac’s intimacy rises during the more arid sections. “Far Rider”, however, is thoroughly Still Corners, who continue to advance the story of a lonely wanderer – of an unknown legend – who traverses great expanses to seek answers regarding her purpose and identity.
“Keep on going till I right my mind
The past is gone and I’m still alive
Every time I hear the wind
I feel a change rolling in”
But there are no questions about Still Corners, who are one of the great dream-pop groups around today.
Thylacine – “Polar” (Paris, France)
RIYL: John Hopkins, Lane 8, M83
As Thylacine, William Rezé has quietly emerged as one of France’s most celebrated and admired electronic producers because he creates grand sonic spectacles. With a classical music background (he’s an accomplished saxophonist), his songs are equally suited for the opera house and an IMAX documentary as it is for a dance club. Regardless of the venue, the Paris-based artist’s music is pure escapism, where he transports us to the far-away reaches of the galaxy to the unknown landscapes of the underworld. His latest single, however, takes us to a place few have ventured yet know quite well.
On “Polar”, Thylacine has us hovering over the endless tundra of the Earth’s most northern territories. While often associated with cold and numbness, Rezé makes it beautiful, exotic, and a place of enlightenment. Delicate beats percolate between cool synths while Rezé’s ghostly voice hovers lightly over top. His words sound like an enchantment, and we don’t need to know the language to understand that he’s sharing with us the peace and tranquility he felt while spending two weeks in the Arctic Circle. He romanticizes a place many fear to visit, but maybe after this tune we’ll see the Arctic as place of wonder and adventure.
The single is out on Rezé’s own Intuitive Records.
Brite Spot – “BIY” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Manchester Orchestra, The National, Future Islands
Some songs make you feel great by the sheer energy in it. Others steal you away because the artists bring make you part of the story and make you believe that a light does indeed exist at the end of the tunnel. The songs of The National, Future Islands, Manchester Orchestra, and Frightened Rabbit all have this special characteristic. While producer and songwriter Matt Sztyk is only one song into his career as Brite Spot, it is probably safe to say that he, too, possesses this trait. Once an artist creates a debut single like “BIY”, there’s no turning back.
The song features multiple layers. Musically, it has the slow-building euphoria that filled The National’s superb quartet of albums: Alligator, Boxer, High Violet, and Trouble Will Find Me. These are moments where we’re on the tips of our toes and getting ready to jump as the song gradually intensifies and reaches a moment of mind-blowing awe. Then there is Sztyk’s voice, which possesses a soft intimacy. His songwriting, meanwhile, is stellar, as his tale centers around the death of a friend, a brother, a son and how so many other lives well apart that day. Justin was the person who suddenly passed away, and Sztyk was one of many who struggled to cope. But in time, he learned to live, love, forgive, and remember. “I believed you because I wanted to believe in you”, he cries out to Justin and everyone else listening. And we cry out alongside him, feeling his emotion and pain.
That is the mark of a great artist and why we think Sztyk will continue to create songs that make our souls explode.
AUS!Funkt – “Set Yourself Free” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Underworld + Iggy Pop + B-52
We don’t often double dip into a record, yet alone an EP, twice after its release. However, Toronto-based AUS!Funkt are no ordinary outfit. For that matter, we wonder if they’re even from this decade because their music finds its origins in Liverpool’s and Manchester’s underground electronic scenes circa 1991 to 1995. Their previous single, “Take Your Sense Back”, was evidenced of their nostalgic approach, although the quartet did infuse some LCD Soundsystem-esque innovation to give it a 21st Century vibe. To demonstrate once again why this band should be performing at every music festival in North America this year (or if you’re in Greater Toronto Area and getting married, maybe they could be the band at the reception), they share a quirky video for “Set Yourself Free”.
Just as the song suggests, release all the tension in your body, put on some activewear, and clear your mind. Allow every anxiety and worry to be swept away as you gyrate to this krautrock-electronic-noir disco-art rock-alt pop infusion. For five-and-a-half minutes, Miroslav Miskovic (aka Jozzef Ladovina), Evan Henderson, Olivia Korwan, and Hugo Frutuoso incite us to dance while raising a couple of middle fingers to the powers that try to hold us down. They encourage us to not “accept annihilation” and that we “have control” over our destiny. AUS!Funkt are proof of this – they’ve taken control over their careers and creating music they want to perform and for people to hear. They haven’t succumbed to the pressures and wants of major labels.
To help them continue their pursuit, pick up Post-Stagnation on Bandcamp.
Quasi Qui – “Gentle Squeeze” (Paris, France via London, England)
RIYL: POND, Portugal. The Man, Tame Impala
History is littered with great sibling bands – The Jackson 5, Donny and Marie Osmond, The Sadies (R.I.P. Dallas Good), The Kinks, and The Isley Brothers to name a few. Another group that could join such elite company are siblings Yehan and Zadi Jehan, who together make up Quasi Qui. Originally from London, the brother-sister duo now call Paris home, where they’ve signed with influential French label Microqlima Records (home to L’impératrice). They put their signatures on a contract on the strength of a couple of covers, which explains their talent and potential. Obviously, the proof comes in the form of original music, and the Jehans blow away all expectations with “Gentle Squeeze”.
Quasi Qui’s debut single is sensational. It is an uplifting and vibrant piece of psychedelic disco-pop that could have emerged from the creative mind of Kevin Parker or the super cool POND. The disco-esque keys, the groovy rhythms, and the light sizzles of the guitar take us back to the ’70s and the days when disco balls adorned every single concert hall, dance club, and even bar. Like those times, this tune is one to get completely lost in, biding away the time before the end of the world arrives. And Yehan sings about the coming of the end of days, encouraging us to dance one last time before everything changes. And he will lead us to the dance floor, grabbing our hands and twirling us around and around and around.
“Word’s out on the street it’s a retrograde
It’s a mass hysteria of the age
What’s become of us, I need answers now
Don’t like being drunk, but I like the zone
I’m that guy who showed you
Showed you how to have a ball
What it is to be honest
The end of the world as we know it”
Look out world, a super sibling group is forming before our eyes.
Chaz Kiss – “A.V.” (Upstate New York, USA)
RIYL: Fiona Apple, Holly Humberstone, PJ Harvey
Chaz Kiss made our Favorite Hidden Gems of 2020 list under her previous name, Ameliarose. At the time, she only had a pair of singles out, but it was apparent she’s the total package. Her vocals are powerful, and her lyrics and spellbinding and painfully honest. With just those two singles, and her 2021 singles including “Goliath”, it felt like she has shared more of herself with us than most artists do over the course of decades.
Now known as Chaz Kiss, the Upstate New Yorker has just released another striking single, “A.V.”. The abbreviation stands for “Arrhythmic Violins”, and violins are the first thing listeners hear on the song. Then Kiss’ voice comes in over just piano and a light programmed drumbeat. Her lyricism is as hard hitting as ever, comparing her own faults to the destructive forces that cause earthquakes. The sound builds more with some great harmonies, and the violin finds a place in the song, adding a beautiful layer under everything. The percussion builds while the lyrics get more intense and more personal and emotional.
“It’s the fire behind me, it keeps me running
From the intrusive thoughts that critique who i’m becoming
It’s your voice in my head that i hear
When my faults line up like an earthquake
My faults line up like an earthquake”
DREAMING OF ISLANDS – “HotBlood” (Malmö, Sweden)
RIYL: Portishead, Morcheeba, Massive Attack
Besides a song that gets an entire stadium bouncing, is there a better musical experience than a tune that leaves you gasping for air as you drown in every note and spoken word? For us, very few things can compare with being completely immersed within a song, where we can feel the emotion while the melody sweeps over us like a rising wave during the incoming tide. This is an event we could experience continuously, especially with a song like “HotBlood”.
This single comes from Swedish under-the-radar duo DREAMING OF ISLANDS, who comprise of Ida Gyllensten and Magnus Hedberg. While it is just the two of them, they have captured the gripping and cinematic magic of Portishead and Massive Attack. Deep, sweeping layers of synths swim alongside dabbling beats, and the combination feels like something that arrived from another galaxy. Gyllensten’s smoky vocal, meanwhile, is the song’s anchor, keeping it and us attached to this gliding, intergalactic starship. Her lyrics, too, paint a picture of the surreal, telling us to keep on growing and moving and, most importantly, to not give up. And how could we with Gyllentsten and Hedberg guiding our way?
DREAMING OF ISLANDS’ new EP is expected later this year. It could be their breakout in Scandinavia.
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