For part one of two Friday mini-playlists, The Matinee ’22 v. 025 revolves around outstanding North American artists and bands, who sonically revive bygone eras while have us swimming within a sea of memories.
The second half of The Matinee features artists from Ireland, England, and Denmark, and it could be found here. All the songs also are included on The Songs of February 2022 Playlist, which is available on SoundCloud and Spotify.
Diane Coffee – “Forecast” (feat. Deep Sea Diver) (Bloomington, IN, USA)
RIYL: Elton John, Wings, ELO, The Lemon Twigs, Stephen Malkmus
It’s worth repeating that Shaun Fleming – a.k.a. Diane Coffee – was born in the wrong era. The former Foxygen drummer has revived, reinvigorated, and reinvented the music of the ’70s since his debut album, 2013’s My Fish Friend. Whether it’s glam-rock, Brit-pop, psych-pop, psych-rock, or rock ‘n roll, he’s a one-man jukebox spinning tunes that sound like David Bowie, Elton John, T. Rex, Wings, and Roxy Music. Another remarkable feature of Fleming’s music is that they all sound different. He continues to showcase his shape-shifting ways with “Forecast”.
With the excellent Seattle outfit Deep Sea Diver providing support, Fleming channels his inner Elton John, Wings-era Paul McCarthy, and Jeff Lynne and ELO on this playful, sun-kissed pop tune. With its sweet and uplifting melody and Fleming’s nonchalant vocal, “Forecast” was made for Fridays with its “pick-me-up” euphoria. Fleming’s songwriting, meanwhile, is Stephen Malmus-esque, as he shares, with a touch of humor, one man’s tumultuous relationship with love (i.e., an on-again, off-again relationship). “God I hate you / Want to date you”, he proclaims to his (ex-)partner. Their “fatal attraction”, however, is too much to overcome, as Fleming humorously describes:
“You see me looking sad
I catch you on your phone
The party lets out
Once again we’re alone
Then we were singing ‘Hurdy Gurdy’
Making love on the floor
Suddenly the heartache’s hard to remember
So easy to ignore”
We’ll be reconnecting with Diane Coftee in the very near future because Fleming’s new album, With People, will be released on April 29th on Polyvinyl Records. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available here.
Cola – “So Excited” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Ought, Parquet Courts, Dry Cleaning
While there was a collective sadness when Ought announced last autumn their split, it did not take long for fans of the Montreal indie-rock / post-punk band to get over the disappointment. Shortly after sharing the news, Tim Darcy and Ben Stidworthy revealed they were joining forces with US Girls drummer Evan Cartwright to form Cola. Their debut single, “Blank Curtain”, was just like the band’s name – cool and refreshing art-punk. Now fast-forward to two months later, and the trio announced earlier this week that their first album is coming very soon. Specifically, Deep In View, will be released right around the unofficial start of summer (i.e., around the May long weekend), which seems fitting given the band is named after a beverage. Adding extra fizz to this news is the LP’s second single, “So Excited”.
The same quirkiness that characterized many of Ought’s music and Darcy’s solo work is heard on this spunky little number. In particular, while the guitar churns out atonal riffs, the bass line chugs. Cartwright’s in-time rhythms, meanwhile, holds everything together, especially once Darcy’s voice arrives. He, too, sings on a different plane, adding to the off-kilter wackiness and brilliance of the tune. The approach, however, makes sense when one listens to what Darcy has to say. He nonchalantly shares how Cola was born and the days of nonstop writing and jamming sessions that would follow:
“All these petty summits, see them fall like new days
Earthen when I mount them then they paper away
A coalescing jumble of both wisdom and trash
At the center it resembles something golden and ash”
Because of these summits, we are excited about this project. Come May 20th, we and many other will exult when Deep In View is released via Fire Talk Records. Pre-orders available here and on Bandcamp.
Basement Revolver – “Dissolve” (Hamilton, Ontario)
RIYL: Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Death Cab for Cutie (‘Transatlanticism’-era)
Last week, Hamilton, Ontario’s little secret Basement Revolver released a terrific album in Embody, which Exclaim! described as “an album that haunts as it works through trauma and attempts to wash off its murky shadows, ultimately successfully revealing light and hope for the future.” And it is a terrific album from a band who originated as a descendant from the Alvvays dream-pop tree to one that has evolved into a shoegaze force. The LP is littered with superb tracks, including “Transatlantic”, “Skin”, and “Circles”. Oh, and the LP’s centerpiece, “Dissolve”.
It’s not often the song title describes its effect on listeners, but this single is emotionally jarring. The gauzy guitars move from intensely electrifying to delicately chiming, and the rhythms similarly transform from thunderous to gently percolating. The approach is one that even shoegaze legends Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine would look on in envy. Within this stellar noise resides Chrisy Hurn-Morrison’s lush and remorseful voice. She reflects on a connection she has with someone. It was brief and fleeting yet everlasting.
“On the corner of Bond and Glen
In our attic loft apartment
I will love you
More and more each day
Passing time draws us nearer
I dissolve into you
Cups of tea with sugar, dear
I dissolve into you”
Basement Revolver are: Chrisy Hurn-Morrison (vocals, guitar), Jonathan Malström (guitar, piano, percussion), Nimal Agalawatte (bass, guitar, synth), and Levi Kertesz (drums). Purchase or stream Embody via these links or go to Bandcamp. It’s out on Sonic Unyon Records.
Jaguar Sun – “Midnight Man” (Elmira, ON, Canada)
RIYL: José González + Day Wave + Elliott Smith
Spring is just around the corner, but it is never too early to get a head start and think about all the things that accompany the month of March. It might be difficult for some to imagine flowers blossoming, birds chirping, and the smell of a freshly mowed lawn when looking at the thermostat and the snow on the ground. Helping us think of the eventual warmth is an artist who has experienced his share of cold, Canadian winters, and he has the moniker to prove it.
Chris Minielly, who hails from the southwestern Ontario town of Elmira and goes by the name Jaguar Sun, brings the sunshine on “Midnight Man”. With its breezy melody, jangly guitars, and Minielly’s heavenly vocals, the snow covered yard suddenly looks lush and green, the cloudy skies are now streaked with the color of baby blue, and the chill in the air has turned warm. The song, in other words, is made for smiling. Minielly’s words, too, are filled with “what ifs”, as he reminisces about past relationships, how he once was, and where he could be one day. Maybe, he’ll be like Bowie and be “the man on Mars”, or he can be Canada’s next great indie-folk singer, following in the footsteps of Andy Shauf.
Blue Wilson – “The Wringer” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Sam Evian, Chris Cohen, John Lennon
With each passing year, more artists are looking to the past for inspiration because the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s possessed some of the great (and not-so-great) musical movements in history. The music of those times were also extremely genuine and personal, particularly the first two decades. When listening to John Lennon, The Mamas and The Papas, The Band, Aretha Franklin, and even ABBA, we were made to believe the songs were either about us or made for us. Such music is now a rare breed, but thankfully Michael Stevenson and his project Blue Wilson exist to remind us of those times.
Remove the headphones and instead spin this song on the speakers so that everyone can hear Stevenson work his magic on “The Wringer”. If your partner is with you or your child or even pet, grab them and dance to the sweet romanticism heard on this ’70s-tinged psych-folk number. Stevenson’s falsetto is endearing and elevated by the superb, blissful melody. Even with the horns blowing in the background, the track is still unquestionably a nostalgic stunner. When it finishes, you’ll want to spin it again and again to the point we can sing along and empathize with Stevenson’s feelings.
“I don’t want you to feel, too
All the little things I’ve been put through
I don’t want to bring you down
I don’t want you to dance alone
Crying in the car when you’re on your own
Even in the pouring rain
I’ll be there”
Twain – “King of Fools” (Franklin County, VA, USA)
RIYL: Father John Misty, Buck Meek, Damien Jurado
If this was 1969, the Mat Davidson-led project Twain would be stars. They would be all the rage on the radio because their folk sound can be incredibly sparse and intimate or quietly joyful. Regardless of the approach, Davidson’s songwriting is what would capture the imaginations of a growing population of enlightened and socially- and politically-active individuals. As such, they surely would have been one of Woodstock’s headliners. In 2022, though, Twain remain criminally underrated and overlooked. They should be celebrated as much as Big Thief are, and Davidson recognized as one of the greatest songwriters of the 21st Century. You don’t need to take our word for it; you can listen to “King of Fools” and decide for yourself.
“King of Fools” is a little romp of infectious indie folk. The tempo shifts from a delightful pace to a quicker rhythm that gets the toes tapping and even the heads swaying and hips shaking. The song is fun and a wonderful sonic trip. At the same time, it’s a clever examination of Catholicism as Davidson juxtaposes two divergent individuals. On the one hand, there is the Catholic King Ferdinand, who demanded loyalty through jewels and other riches. But his status in history is the king of fools. On the other hand, there is Madonna, the depiction of simplicity and modesty. And yet, her presence causes Davidson to think he’s the king of fools.
Davidson, though, saves his most important point for the very end, where the world is ruled by too many Ferdinands.
“Now I watch the fighting over the womb of the earth
Spilling blood for proverbs that they neither side have learned
And I see a bunch of children fighting over toys
How long must they die and die and die
To satisfy the king of fools?”
Simply brilliant and more evidence why Twain should be considered a great American music treasure.
In addition to Mat Davidson (vocals, guitar), the band includes Ken Woodward (bass), Austin Vaughn (drums), and Adrian Olsen (recordist). The single is out on Keeled Scales.
Girlpool – “Dragging My Life into a Dream” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: BROODS, BØRNS,
Harmony Tividad and Avery Tucker’s new Girlpool album, Forgiveness, is shaping out to be an emotional roller coaster. To date, the duo have shared the electric “Lie Love Lullaby” and the soul-crushing, bone-jarring “Faultine”. Both songs had very different vibes, assuring Forgiveness will be the most diverse-sounding Girlpool record yet.
The latest single from the album keeps that trend up as Girlpool deliver their dreamiest song. “Dragging My Life into a Dream” is drenched in a sound that radiates warm nostalgia. Whereas the other tracks were dominated by big synth sounds, “Dragging My Life into a Dream” is all about its lush harmonies. Tucker and Tividad sound as good as ever with a perfect accompaniment of jangly folk. Lyrically, Tucker looks back on old times, broken relationships, youthful innocence and dreams of their return.
“I want my innocence back I don’t wanna be this bad
But I’m so insecure these days
Still chasing the heart I pushed away
It’s like last year put a hand on my face
Over my eyes and I drifted away
Sometimes I feel you noticing me
But I’m just dragging my life into a dream
Dragging my life into a dream
Baby you were right, making up my mind is hard for me”
Bellows – “Thumb in the Dam” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Sufjan Stevens, Trace Mountains, Whitney
Oliver Kalb’s musical journey has been more than just his project, Bellows. Kalb also spent time playing in many bands, including Told Slant and Gabby’s World, and forged connections with some people that continue to inspire his music. His music has always reflected that. Whether it’s the fun singalong “Gather Ye Rosebuds” from 2019’s The Rose Gardener, or “Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter” from 2016’s Fist and Palm, Kalb captures relational dynamics in human ways that so few songwriters can. Some of those connections are with his current Bellows bandmates: Frank Meadows, Jack Greenleaf (Sharpless), and Ian Cory (Lamniformes).
On “Thumb In The Dam”, Kalb is joined by another friend, Emily Reo, who lends her distinctive, vocoder-drenched harmonies to the track. It’s a gorgeous single with Kalb’s whispery voice over gorgeously assembled piano and acoustic guitar. As the song goes on, it becomes clear that the song is about a relationship that was a huge part of Kalb’s life, both musically and personally. The song builds with some drums and synth as Kalb’s bares all with his lyrics.
“When your band was my band
And your dog was my dog
Your paintings and your guitar were there, hanging on my wall
And your room was my room
Your t-shirts and your clothes
Your records and the big mattress and the toothpaste and the soap
And your pain was my pain, every enemy you made
Every fight that I backed you up, the friendships we’d both break
Cuz your love was my love, the only kind that I could show
You yourself had first shown to me, 18 and hollow”
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