The Matinee ’22 v. 030 is the first half of a doubleheader to kick off the week. This mini-playlist is focused on artists and bands from Europe, who dazzle with stories about redemption, finding inner strength, hope, and unknown villains. Yep, this The Matinee edition is story time.
Many Voices Speak – “Within Reach” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: The Weather Station, Land of Talk, Jesse Marchant
Through her project Many Voices Speak, Matilda Mård has mastered the art of making melancholy beautiful. Her debut album, Tank Town, and her most recent single, “Seat for Sadness”, exemplified her ability to turn loneliness into a breathtaking affair. The Stockholm-based singer-songwriter’s approach mimics her career, where she spent several years in an isolated community pondering whether she could make it in music. Fortunately for us, Mård persevered and in about 7 weeks we will have the opportunity to consume her sophomore LP. In the meantime, we become consumed by “Within Reach”.
Like everything she’s done to date, the song is stunning. At the same time, it is filled with remorse and vulnerability, as Mård’s serene voice is filled with questions and uncertainty. As the guitar and keys linger, Mård delicately tells the tale of two lovers who may no longer touch one another ever again. Her words are like a screenplay, where we immediately feel like one, if not both, of the song’s protagonists.
“You’ll be coming my way in time
You’re just about to step inside
Just about to step inside
You are running down the final stairs
To show at the last minute
You’ll show at the last minute”
Eades – “Backseat Politic” (Leeds, England)
RIYL: Wavves, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Kiwi Jr.
Leeds outfit EADES should be more popular than they are. Granted, we’re biased because we’ve been on their bandwagon since nearly the beginning, but Harry Jordan (vocals and guitar), Tom O’Reilly (lead guitar), Sam Wilde (bass), Dan Clifford-Smith (drums), and Lily Fontaine (synth, percussion, backing vocals) are seriously one of the great indie-rock bands in the UK. They can unleash a furious rocker like Cabbage or FIDLAR or, as they have done more recently, deliver a thoughtful yet playful number in the Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever mould. The quintet eventually will get their due since songs like “Backseat Politic” are just too good to ignore.
With Clifford-Smith leading the way at the start before O’Reilly’s jangly, lingering guitar enters the fray, the song is at first like a cool breeze. Jordan’s vocal is calm, too, as he recalls a moment in time where not even the chaos of the world can alter the bonds between people. The track then picks up speed, Jordan’s voice rises, and a little beach party is ignited. We kick up our heels and delight in the upbeat melody, all the while Jordan tries to hold on to memories and connections before “the wrecking ball” arrives to end everything. That wrecking ball could be Brexit, COVID, or anything that poses a threat to what we know and have. Whatever it is, we at least have EADES around to help us momentarily forget about how screwed up this world is.
Francis of Delirium – “The Funhouse” (Luxembourg)
RIYL: Blood Red Shoes, Sharon Van Etten, Wolf Alice
There are no shortage of great bands flying under the radar, and all they need is a chance. They just need people to listen, and once we do we just might be blown away. In the case of Francis of Delirium and their newest single, “The Funhouse”, we were not just wowed. We were overwhelmed by this surging rocker that reminded us of a young and fearless Blood Red Shoes.
A fiery and intense urgency consume Jana Bahrich and Chris Hewett’s newest single. A fiery guitar riff opens the song before Bahrich’s hallow voice echoes in the background and an awesome, stark bass line probes in between the two. The song gradually builds, becoming darker, graver, and most startling as it progresses. Just as it is about to descend into the rabbit hole, the duo cleverly pull the track back. It slows as the instruments decelerate, but Bahrich’s piercing vocal remains desperate. She shares the story of a person who has fallen through that same rabbit hole, struggling to find her way out. Our heroine is on the cusp of never returning.
“So your lungs fill with lead
So consumed by this feeling of dread
And your skin can’t fill out
It folds and sinks into the ground
And the sky turns red
You’re bleeding now from the bottom of your feet and hands
And they put you up on a pole
Now you’re crying cause you can’t let go
As your body sinks into the ground
And your hands are getting tied and bound
You’re giving up I’m giving out”
Awesome. Francis of Delirium are a band to watch.
Bo Milli – “At The Wheel” (Bergen, Norway)
RIYL: Snail Mail, Soccer Mommy, Faye Webster
2021 was a year full of some truly phenomenal debuts, and 2022 looks to accelerate that trend even more. One artist that will turn heads (and is turning ours) is Emilie Røine Østebø, who last week released her debut single under the pseudonym Bo Milli.
Bo Milli captures a youthful perspective on the pains of growing up on “At The Wheel”. Seeing things happen and change around her, Bo Milli asks “who’s at the wheel these days?“, while a great folk rock track sublimely builds. Big choruses, quiet moments in-between, and a cathartic outro make the song so inviting and addicting. With just her debut single, Bo Milli has our attention and her words have us contemplating the “what if”.
“Pretty sure I don’t know where my keys are at
Know I owe some people money but I’ve kind of lost track
I feel there’s an appointment I forgot
Who raised the stakes these days
I am looking
For a heavenly father or friend
Who’s at the wheel these days?”
Onyda – “Waitress” (Stoke on Trent, England)
RIYL: Half Waif, Hand Habits, Julia Holter
With only a handful of singles to their name, Onyda has already cultivated a unique style for their music. The project of Shae Rhiannon, Onyda has blurred the lines of their art, where on one occasion they adopt the persona of a jazz singer with a smoky vocal (“Mediocre”) and then next they are a psych-rock front-person (“Like a Dog”).
Their latest single, “Waitress”, keeps that blend of styles and takes them to new heights. The single’s early moments feel like they could be performed in a smoky room. As the song transforms, it becomes so much bigger with soaring harmonies and a distorted guitar just bubbling underneath. Lyrically, Onyda paints the picture of temptation and delivers it in a way that’s truly striking.
“And she wears black in the day,
And black in the night,
She wants me,
And I want her bad,
She’s a beautiful thing,
Red eyes like the sun,
So I will be your waitress lady.
Cos I will serve you,
I will help you live another day,
And I’d never be like my ex guy,
He just let me waste away.”
“Waitress” will be on Onyda’s debut EP, which is expected later this year.
October Drift – “Insects” (Taunton, England)
RIYL: Nirvana, The Ninth Wave, The Slow Readers Club
When October Drift released Forever Whatever, which is one of the great debut albums of the past decade, back in 2020, it came at a time when much of the indie scene, particularly in the UK, were still coming to terms with Scott Hutchison’s passing. A massive hole was created with the remaining members of Frightened Rabbit deciding to no longer release music under that name. October Drift, though, filled a significant portion of this void, and the folks at Physical Education Recordings, which is FR’s label, thought the same, signing them shortly after the LP’s release.
The plan was for October Drift to release a few singles with “Like the Snow We Fall” being the first of many. A global pandemic, however, put things on pause. With life slowly returning to normal, Kiran Roy, Chris Holmes, Alex Bispham, and Daniel Young have released their first new song in nearly two years, and on this occasion the quartet channel another legendary band.
“Insects” bellows with the ghost of Nirvana. The grizzled, grungy style is akin to the band that transformed rock music three decades ago (the bassline is very Krist Novoselic-like). At the same time, ’00s English indie-rock influences are featured in the track, particularly in the calm bridge that leads into the soaring outro. Roy’s songwriting, too, echoes Kurt Cobain’s introspective and immensely revealing style. “I don’t wanna split in two / I don’t wanna rip right in the middle”, he shares immediately, his words depicting fear, concern, and weakness. With Cobain’s descriptive flair, he later adds:
“Milk teeth falling out of my gums
Concrete coming out of my lungs
We’re still insects pinned to the walls
Trying to crawl
Trying to crawl”
Here’s hoping that by the end of 2022 October Drift will be running – recognized as one of the UK’s great young bands.
The Blinders – “Fight For It” (Doncaster & Manchester, England)
RIYL: The Killers, Editors, Gang of Youths
Speaking about bands that are on the cusp of stardom, The Blinders have developed a reputation in central England as one of the great live bands in the area. It’s not just the anthemic pop-rock that has people dancing in the streets and hallways, but they match the energy of their music with rousing, meaningful choruses that have one objective – to lift people out of the doldrums. They are, essentially, Doncaster and Manchester’s answer to The Killers. So with that, get up on your feet, loosen your limbs, clear your throat, and get ready to shout and jump like you’re at a gig to “Fight For It”.
This tune was made to be performed in front of a live audience. The awesomely plucky bass lie, the swirling keys, and the chiming guitar riffs are the fuel to this cathartic number. Igniting the song is Thomas Haywood, who is like a young Brandon Flowers. He reminisces about how he tried to “pull the curtains aside” and allow the morning light to come in. He recalls how he and others like him gave up before they started, but one day something clicks. Something tells him to stop feeling sorry for himself and begin to take “what is mine”. And all it takes is for him to ask:
“Are you going to fight for it?
You just got to see the morning light
Are you going to fight for it
Or are you just going to watch your demise?”
Fight alongside vocalist and guitarist Thomas Haywood, bassist Charlie McGough, guitarist Eoghan Clifford, Johnny James on keys, and drummer Thomas Castrey. They are The Blinders.
Hannah Schneider – “Mirror Sphere” (Copenhagen, Denmark)
RIYL: Jenny Hval, Vök, Christine and the Queens
“So the seas begin to go ashore / Carry the water till their backs were sore” are the first lyrics sung by Hannah Schneider on her newest single, “Mirror Sphere”. One does not even need to hear the stunning, fantasy-like melody to know that these fifteen words signal a great sonic experience is about to unfold. We also prepare to say, “Wow!”, at what this young Danish singer-songwriter is about to share.
“Mirror Sphere” is gorgeous. It is like a post-modern fairy tale coming to life. However, instead of a symphony backing her, delicate beats, otherworldly electronics, and a sublime, dissonant guitar envelop her lush and wondrous voice. For three minutes, we are drawn into this beautiful world that is filled with several gasping moments, especially when the gauzy guitar intensifies and Schneider’s voice becomes more heavenly. Her story is also like a fairy tale. While pain, loss, and even grief are reflected in Schneider’s lyrics at the start, hope also exists, where she believes she will reunite with someone that has left. Where that takes place is the great mystery, as it might be in another dimension that exists on the flip side of the mirro.
Maybe this isn’t a fairy tale after all. Instead, this feels like something we only hear in our dreams, yet we are wide awake. Maybe we are living inside Schneider’s wonderful dream, which is delivered by Midnight Confessions.
Whispering Sons – “Tilt” (Brussels, Belgium)
RIYL: Nick Cave & The Black Seeds, Kae Tempest, Bambara
Since their formation nearly eight years ago, Whispering Sons have established themselves as one of post-punks great storytelling bands. Whereas many group within the genre tackle current events, the Belgian quintet prefer to create dark, mysterious tales. They’re like the modern-day equivalent of Edgar Allan Poe and the Brothers Grimm, but they use music as the pages to communicate their stories. As such, one does not simply listen to the songs – one much also read every lyric. This is the only way to experience Whispering Sons’ art.
A year ago, they released a set of imaginative tales on Several Others. One song, however, that did not make the final cut was “Tilt”. It, however, sees the light of day now, and it is further evidence that Fenne Kuppens (vocals), Kobe Lijnen (guitar), Sander Hermans (synths), Tuur Vandeborne (bass), and Sander Pelsmaekers (drums) are among the very best post-punk bands in existence.
The group pull back on the instrumentation, delivering instead a stunning, Gothic melody that is part Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and another part Kae Tempest. It is bleak, stark, mysterious, and as devouring as a moonless night. Kuppens narrates the story of a person who might be a serial killer, Dr. Jekyll, or someone on the cusp of taking their final step on Earth. From “hands tainted by sin”, thriving “on nothing more than pain”, and a “first class funeral” with “a crumbling nude”, it’s all a little surreal. And yet, it is incredibly captivating, where we want to listen to the song again and again. Where we want to read this fable a few times before we turn out the lights.
The single and Several Others are out on PIAS Recordings.
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