The Matinee ’22 v. 028 is an all-alumni affair – i.e., some of our all-time favorites occupy today’s mini-playlist. While some have developed into stars, others still remain under the radar but hopefully not for long. These nine songs also kick off the Songs of March 2022 playlist, which is available, as always, on SoundCloud and Spotify.
Please note that the order below is how we think the songs are best sequenced and interact with one another. The list has nothing to do with preference.
Dahlia Sleeps – “White Flag” (London, England)
RIYL: a stripped back Massive Attack, Phoria, Ghostly Kisses
We kick off the month of March with a duo that has long crushed souls and made hearts race with their captivating brand of trip-hop and darktronica. They are Dahlia Sleeps, the project of Lucy Hill and Luke Hester and who have made us gasp, awe, and be startled since they released “Breathe” back in November 2015.
It’s not just the chill they create in the air that constantly has left us mesmerized, but the stories they tell are extremely personal and real. They’ve written about depression and anxiety, losing someone and trying to move one, and revealing one’s true identity after hiding behind a facade for years. The songs the duo have released to date – “Divided”, “Too Good To Hide”, “Close Your Eyes”, and “The Calm You Keep” – in support of their long-awaited debut album, Overflow, are microcosms of their artistry. They further showcase their gripping effect on “White Flag”.
Arguably Dahlia Sleeps most brittle song, Hill’s pain-stricken voice hovers over a melancholic piano arrangement before the electronics and percussion lightly burst around her. It’s stunning yet at the same time incredibly emotional, as Hill is nothing more than a helpless observer watching a loved one slowly crumble away. Specifically, she watches her father battle with depression, and all she can do is be there for him and encourage him to “don’t fall down”. Adding to the track’s impact are voice recordings that Hill sent to her father, where she shares memories and tells him she is there for him. And we feel like we’re sitting next to Hill, where we want to be there for her. That is the power and beauty of Dahlia Sleeps.
Overflow will be released April 8th. Pre-order it on Bandcamp. It is shaping up to be an outstanding debut.
Poliça – “Rotting” (Minneapolis, USA)
RIYL: Alice Glass, HEALTH, Chelsea Wolfe
When thinking about Poliça, words like alluring, dazzling, and euphoric often come to mind. They’ve crafted goosebump-inducing synth-pop; performed with symphonies to create brilliant, theatrical numbers; and contributed to the all-star project Gayngs, which reinvented ’80s soft-rock. Words like dark, stark, and trembling are rarely associated with the Minneapolis-based quintet, but they enter this world on “Rotting”.
The single may be bleak and dour, but in true Poliça it is still enrapturing. The band’s trademark patient approach – where each electronic effect, synth, and percussive beat can be heard and felt – accentuates the song’s grime and darkness. It all feels like a slow descent into an inescapable rabbit hole. Front-woman Channy Leaneagh’s voice is layered with reverb, and it moves from a sinister, almost witch-like tone to one of a muted siren screaming to be freed from the monsters that surround her and others like her. This is our world, where violence against women is an all-too-familiar and all-too-ignored occurrence. Her songwriting is impeccable.
“Our future here will have no fear
So what will be your purpose here
You sit below my spike heeled feet
Touching when it feels good to me
But for her the one that I’ve made
I guard her with a molten blade
Throw myself on the reaper’s scythe
If I cannot protect her life
Too much power given to men
They continue to rape again
Revenge, revenge the women return
To teach the ones who refuse to learn”
The single it out on Memphis Industries and released ahead of International Women’s Day, which is March 8th. Hear Channy Leaneagh, Chris Bierden, Drew Christopherson, Ben Ivascu, and Ryan Olson perform the track on their upcoming tour, which commences April 29th.
Nilüfer Yanya – “the dealer” (London, England)
RIYL: Tash Sultana, Connie Constance, Millie Turner
Nilüfer Yanya has been one of the brightest young stars in music over the last couple of years. Her phenomenal breakout debut, Miss Universe, is still one of the great debuts of the last decade. With her next full length, PAINLESS, Yanya looks to add even more layers to her diverse sound. From the singles we’ve heard, “midnight sun”, “Stabilise”, and “anotherlife”, it already is shaping up to be a fantastic record. The record drops Friday, and Yanya has given us one last taste before it drops.
High-energy drumming sets a break-neck pace early on in “the dealer”. Yanya’s voice keeps up with the pace while guitar chords chime underneath. Despite the complex drums and everything going on, it feels quite minimal – that is until the bass and harmonies kick in, taking the song to some really great places. Yanya has said the song came about while “thinking about the transient nature of life”. It’s a song that captures that with the way it’s constructed musically, but more so in the song’s closing moments:
“Now that nothing lasts
Keep hearing that the wintertime is coming back soon
When somebody asks
I hope it’s just the summertime you grew attached to”
Wet Leg – “Angelica” (Isle of Wight, England)
RIYL: HINDS, Pom Poko, L’objectif
Four songs. It only took “Chaise Longue”, “Wet Dream”, “Too Late Now” and “Oh, No” for Wet Leg‘s Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers to become massive stars. Their accomplishment is all the more impressive since they’ve largely done it the DIY way. Sure they have a great label behind them in indie giants Domino Recording Co., but their cathartic, off-kilter pop-rock is all their own and has made them one of the most exciting new bands to come around in decades. Their latest single will only add to the tidal wave of momentum the duo are riding at the moment.
“Angelica”, as one would expect, is a rollicking buzzsaw. It ebbs and flows like the North Sea, at times swaying calmly but often intensifying with crushing waves of grizzled guitars and propulsive rhythms. Teasdale and Chambers, meanwhile, navigate these surging waters like experienced captains because they know the tides and currents. They know where this journey will end up because the song is as much about a woman named Angelica as it is about them. As they amusing recount a not-so-distant gathering of friends and associates:
“Angelica was on her way to the party
She doesn’t need to wait for anybody (What-ah)
Knows exactly what’s she’s doin’
I watch as she commands the room (Commands the room)
The ambience was overrated at the party
Want to run away before it’s even started
I look at my feet, then I look for the door (The door)
Can’t find my friends, so I just take a bit more”
While Angelica was the star in this instance, Wet Leg at the end of the day are the ones shining the brightest.
Sharon Van Etten – “Used To It” (Los Angeles via Brooklyn & New Jersey, USA)
RIYL: Half Waif, Weyes Blood, Jullia Holter
There’s no denying that Sharon Van Etten has been one of the most important songwriters of the last decade. Whether it’s her heart-wrenching early work, her mature recent records, or her countless songs recorded for film and TV, Van Etten has left an indelible impact on music and the entertainment industry as a whole throughout her career. It’s why we were excited to hear new music from her last month when she released “Porta”.
On her latest single, “Used To It”, Van Etten ties all of those qualities that make her such a force together. “Used To It” was originally written for an HBO documentary, Baby God. However, a change in musical direction left it on the cutting room floor. Thankfully, Van Etten dusted it off, feeling like it’s a fitting song for the times we’re in with its themes about family, love, and technology. The song is truly gorgeous with Van Etten’s voice is reminiscent of those intimate moments on her early records. However, there’s a lush production under all of it, drum machine, synth, and ambient guitar just make it even more of a stunner.
Hater – “Hopes High” (Malmö, Sweden)
RIYL: Chapterhouse, Memoryhouse, Beach House
As we said way back in June 2016 when Hater released their debut single, “Radius”, we are enamored with Caroline Landahl, Måns Leonartsson, Adam Agace, and Lukas Thomasson’s brand of dream-pop. The Malmö-based quartet, however, have slowly evolved over time, moving towards more of a ’90s shoegaze approach. On their previous single, “Something”, for instance, they recalled a young My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, and it was pure exhilaration. Hater continue to re-imagine the music of that era with “Hopes High”.
The band ebb back on the reverb to deliver a dreamy rocker akin to Chapterhouse. Shoegaze notes still flash through the track, but a hazy intoxication is the dominant feature. Landahl’s foggy vocal, in particular, is the standout, as it has a touch of Victoria Legrand’s seductiveness. As her bandmates deliver sonic hypnotism, she shares how relationships are built and then fade away. But even when people become separated, an unspeakable bond still unites them. “I miss you much / You’re not alone”, she calmly sings, telling us that goodbyes are never final. They are just the ending to one moment and the start of a new one.
The Burning Hell – “Birdwatching” (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada)
RIYL: Jeffrey Lewis, Daniel Johnston, Okkervil River
Mathaias Kom has had a lot to say over the last 15 years as The Burning Hell. While musically, The Burning Hell has shifted multiple times – between folk, punk, and everywhere in between – one thing has always been present. Kom’s lyricism is witty, observational, and immersive storytelling in quite unique ways.
On their latest single, “Birdwatching”, they set a frenetic pace right out of the gate. In just over two minutes, Kom sings of Plato, self-help books, and The Lord of The Rings, among many other things. Somehow The Burning Hell also has time for some great guitar riffs. It’s an absolute blast of a track, and one that’s as smart as anything they’ve put out. It’s also realistic and honest, calling out the nature of things like those self-help books, and the polarized nature of almost everything. All of these things point to one thing, the serenity to be found in a place called Garbage Island, which coincidentally is the name of their next record.
“There’s a flower in the compost and a beach below the pavement
We’ll outlive the rich and famous if we remain aimless and patient
We’re neither rising like a phoenix nor are we dying like the dodos
So let’s leave the endless questing to the Sams and and to the Frodos”
My Idea – “Crutch” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: PACKS, Real Estate, Free Cake for Every Creature
My Idea, the duo of Palberta’s Lily Koningsberg and Water From Your Eyes’ Nate Amos, released a great single, “Cry Mfer” last month. It also came with an announcement that the duo were going to release their first full-length record, Cry Mfer.
Where “Cry Mfer” had a bit of a unique sound to it, “Crutch” very much has a charming folk vibe to it throughout. It’s sweet on the surface, but there’s a lot more emotion underneath. The song concerns kicking a habit, breaking addiction, and finding strength in the one person that will be there for you during the good and band moments. They both say the song is about how the relationship between Koningsberg and Amos were the reason they both decided and were able to quit drinking. It’s a perfect example of the smart songwriting of both songwriters, and their ability to create such relatable and engaging tunes.
Freedom Fry – “A Little Help” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: MIYNT, Pearl Charles, Billie Marten
How best to end our All-Star mini-playlist with the band we’ve covered the most in our 8.5 years of existence. Freedom Fry have been included in an eye-opening 32 features on our site. This number reveals the proclivity of married duo Marie Seyrat and Bruce Driscoll’s work and just how warm and immersive their music is. It also helps that they rarely stay stagnant, creating pop music in pretty much all its shades – folk, psychedelic, French noir, indie, synth, and dream. They’ve covered the entire landscape and then some, but they are at their best, in our humble opinions, when they dabble in the psychedelic-pop realm, where they can enchant and mesmerize. This is where we find them with “A Little Help”.
The song is actually a deep cut – or more like a previously-recorded-but-never-released single. In listening to it, however, it sounds as fresh and inviting as anything they’re released over the past five years. A subdued guitar riff entwines with a lovely key arrangement, and together they form a sound right out of the Laurel Canyon in the late ’70s. Despite the dreamy intoxication that emerges from the song and Seyrat’s embracing vocal, it concerns more serious issues. “I just need a little help sometimes / I just need you know”, Seyrat sings out loud, asking for someone, anyone to help her.
Her words belong to many who feel tied down, trapped, or in constant state of stagnation, as depression, anxiety, fear, or rejection consume them. She reminds us that we all can be friends to one another, as Freedom Fry have been to us and tens of thousands of others all these years.
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