Another Friday means doubleheader action of new music with The Matinee ’22 v. 033 focused on artists and bands that are been the letters A and G. Pretty simple concept, but the songs are anything but simple. Instead, this list features some of the century’s best storytellers and music innovators.

For the second half of today’s new music selection, click here. Then spin the Songs of March 2022 playlist on SoundCloud or Spotify.

 

Art d’Ecco – “Palm Slave” (Gulf Islands, BC, Canada)

RIYL: The Dig + Roxy Music + Film School

Much of the recent retro revival has been largely in the synth-pop, ’70s psych-pop, and ’80s pop realms. A lot of the reinterpretations have been outstanding, as evidenced by some of the selections on today’s two The Matinee features. Not many, however, are re-imagining ’80s music in the way that Art d’Ecco has been doing for roughly half-a-decade. 

Instead of the aforementioned genres, the British Columbian’s focus is on glam-rock, new wave, synth-rock, and even funk. Their 2018 single, “Who Is It Now?”, sounded like the convergence of Blondie and Pat Benatar. Fast forward four years later, and Art d’Ecco turns glam-rock into a widescreen experience made for 21st Century audiences. And it is awesome.

Keys, a variety of synths, a superb Peter Hook-ish bass line, a slicing guitar, and even a saxophone create a dizzying collision of mind-bending sound. At times, we feel like we’re at the Roxbury, nodding our heads in rhythm to the pulsing percussion. Another moment, we’re trying to keep our heads above the surging swell of instruments, which rise like a tidal wave in the song’s final half. In both instances, we are not in control. We are instead in the hands of Art d’Ecco, who also sings about being trapped and imprisoned. About being fooled in believing in false idols and outright lies. 

“Holy machinations
cut your teeth in control, when I crave some direction
would you do me one last time if I beg?

I’ve been indoctrinated
overcome with the joy of adoration

I’m begging”

And we’re begging for more from one of Canada’s most inventive artist, who is signed with Paper Bag Records.

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Belle and Sebastian – “Unnecessary Drama” (Glasgow, Scotland)

RIYL: Belle and Sebastian… but if pressed The New Pornographers and Teenage Fanclub

Yeah, we’re a week late in sharing news that Belle and Sebastian will release their eleventh studio album this spring. Specifically, A Bit of Previous will be unveiled on May 5th, offering the perfect compilation for the holiday road trips that await us in a few months. Usually, we associate Stuart Murdoch, Sarah Martin, Stevie Jackson, Chris Geddes, Mick Cooke, Bobby Kildea, and Richard Coburn with creating the equivalent of modern Scottish folktales, but they offer a surprise with the first single from their forthcoming LP.

“Unnecessary Drama” is a boisterous pop-rock gem that could be the sister track to The New Pornographers’ “Sing Me Spanish Techno”. It possesses the same energy and euphoria as the Canada super-group’s classic number, where for over four minutes we just want to dance, run, and do whatever we please.

But whereas A.C. Newman and gang sang about one person being stuck in neutral and listening to the same song over and over again, Murdoch and pals sing about frayed connections and trying to move forward despite the uncertainty that exists. Or the lyrics could be interpreted as an individual having a midlife crisis and just doing whatever they please because nothing will last forever. Whatever the song may mean, it unquestionably will put a smile on your face and brighten your day. As Murdoch says in the song:

“Enjoy the fervour of your love life
Cause it doesn’t last
And with a suddenness that is cruel
Everything can go to hell
But then you find a new path
Leave the old path
Leave the games behind
And on a morning climb you see the grime
And feel amazed”

Belle and Sebastian’s new album, A Bit of Previous, is out May 5th on Matador Records. Pre-orders and pre-saves available here.

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Bodega – “Pillar On The Bridge Of You” (New York City, USA)

RIYL: Superchunk, Guided by Voices, Wings of Desire

Out today is Bodega‘s new album, Broken Equipment, which we honestly can say absolutely rocks. It probably deserves a full review, and maybe we’ll find some time over the weekend to do one. In the meantime, we have to share the LP’s centerpiece – literally, “Pillar on the Bridge of You” is smack dab right in the middle as track 7 of 12. Any song in that place must be an upbeat and full-on rocker, which this tune exactly is. 

The Brooklyn-based quartet channel the great era of late ’80s and early ’90s college radio on this number. It is like a contemporary version of Superchunk, Guided by Voices, Yo La Tengo, and Husker Dü. It is an energizer? Check! Is it super infectious? Check! Does it rock while making us want to shake our hips and shimmy our shoulders? Check and check! And does it suck us in with great songwriting? A big CHECK!

Oh, there is also a playfulness in the track, as co-frontman Ben Hozie spins a love story like no other. Channeling his inner Stephen Malkmus, he delivers a full-blown adventure to express his love to someone and everyone in his life.

“I want to be a pillar in the bridge of you.
Salty waves slap against me.
Creation trails down to my chin.
Sea changes with ecstasy.
Yeah they’ll only say ‘I love you’
Two thousand leagues underneath the sea.
But I’m gonna show I love you
When my back lifts you up that street.”

This is just an example of why we love Bodega, who are Ben Hozie (vocals, guitar), Nikki Belfiglio (vocals), Adam See (bass), Tai Lee (percussion), and Dan Ryan (guitar).

Broken Equipment is available everywhere via What’s Your Rupture? Records. Get it directly on Bandcamp.

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Crake – “Bobbie” (Leeds / London, England)

RIYL: Big Thief, Strand of Oaks, Luca Wilding

A band that will rate very high on our list of Favorite Discoveries of this year will be Crake. Their previous single, “Winter’s Song”, was so good it had us comparing the English band to Big Thief. That single track set the standard for indie-folk and Gothic-folk music this year and probably years to come. What separates them and Big Thief from the pack is the songwriting of their front-people. For Big Thief, Adrianne Lenker is considered one of the great singer-songwriters of the century. Such accolades will soon be showered upon Rowan Sandle, whose storytelling stands at the fore on “Bobbie”.

Whereas “Winter’s Song” was soul-crushing in its approach, “Bobbie” is a vibrant and chest-swelling folk-rocker. There are moments where the song touches the edges of breathtaking, but then the band cleverly pull it back and shift the atmosphere to one of quiet desperation. The orchestration is brilliant, providing the perfect canvas for Sandle’s terrific story of a woman who hid in the shadows – or more like was put in the shadows.

“Bobbie” is Bobbie Frazer Darling. She was the wife of Frank Fraser Darling, who built temporary homes on remote Hebridean Islands while researching seabirds and seals. He wrote about his experience in Island Years, focused largely on his exploits while ignoring the presence of his wife. Sandle turns the table, putting Bobbie at the heart of this song, where we see life on the Islands through her eyes.

When you saw a change in the stars was soon to come
To avert disaster did you run to the shore?
Did you bristle like chickweed as you threw him the rope?
Or laugh like the goose as it hit against the stone?


Staring out at the lighthouse
To decipher its code
Watch it answer in anger
Cut right through the cold

But I’ll never know
Would you want me to know?”

Simply brilliant once again.

Crake are: Rowan Sandle (acoustic guitar, vocals), Russell Searle (electric guitar, piano), Rob Slater (drums, backing vocals), and Sarah Statham (bass, backing vocals). The band’s debut album, Human’s Worst Conditions, will be released April 8th via Fika Recordings. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.

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Destroyer – “June” (Vancouver, Canada)

RIYL: Destroyer

Dan Bejar is well on the way to cementing his status as a modern-day folk legend, especially with the songs he’s released recently from the upcoming Destroyer record LABYRINTHITIS. There was the Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen-esque last supper ballad,  “Tintoretto, It’s for You”. The religious imagery continued with the surreal and immensely danceable “Eat the Wine, Drink the Bread”. Now he returns with a toe-tapper in “June”.

Bejar’s newest tune combines the sounds of the first two tracks in a big way. Electric piano, synth bass, and a fantastic drum beat give the single a great, laid-back vibe. The lyrics are yet another example of words only Bejar could get away with. A strange story with disconnected imagery, but when it all comes together, it feels incredible. A lot of the song seems like a stream of consciousness, but there’s a moment where Bejar’s voice is mixed higher than it was throughout the track, with a bit of a unique quality on it. After that moment, the song goes into some truly incredible territory.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say
Fortunes wheel’s just for show
In this brutal turning
Nothing changes the cold light of day

Fancy language dies
And everyone’s happy to see her go
A snow angel’s a fucking idiot
Somebody made a fucking idiot
Someone made in the snow”

LABYRINTHITIS is set for release on March 25th via Merge Records. Pre-order it here and on Bandcamp.

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Father John Misty – “Goodbye Mr. Blue” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: John Denver, James Taylor, Jackson Browne

Those who have seen Joshua Tillman perform live know he has the tendency to speak his mind, making backhanded comments at the audience or himself and sharing interesting observations. At the same time, he exudes charisma and intelligence, particularly in the songs of Father John Misty. These traits were evidenced on the first two singles from Chloë and The Next 20th Century, “Q4” and “Funny Girl”, which were performed with an orchestra. As FJM, Tillman also occasionally displays an unexpected tender side, which he reveals on “Goodbye Mr. Blue”.

The former Fleet Foxes drummer strips back the arrangement to deliver a classic country-folk tune out of the ’70s. Oh, the orchestra is still around, as light strings support his diligent, acoustic guitar work, but the song is more John Denver and Jackson Browne than it is Meatloaf. As the instruments create a soothing and relaxing melody, Tillman talks about his cat, Mr. Blue. He is “the only thing left of me and you”, he shares at the start, denoting how the Turkish Angora is all that remains of a previous relationship. Mr. Blue’s final day, however, arrived unexpectedly. His passing represents the lost of not just one companion but two, leaving Tillman alone once again.

Maybe if he’d gone sooner
could’ve brought us back together last June
When our last time was our last time
If only then I knew
That last time was our last time
Would have told you
that the last time comes too soon”

Chloë and The Next 20th Century will be released April 8th via Bella Union and Sub Pop. Pre-order the LP here and on Bandcamp.

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Good Looks – “Bummer Year” (Austin, USA)

RIYL: CAAMP, Mt. Joy, Houndmouth

Austin’s Good Looks are gearing up for the release of their debut record, Bummer Year. The songs released so far have been some really great tracks with intelligent lyrics, like their last single “Vision Boards”. With only a pair of songs, it became obvious that songwriter Tyler Jordan had some interesting takes on subjects, stemming from growing up in a coastal town in South Texas dominated by the petrochemical industry and in the shadow of “cult-like” religion. 

On “Bummer Year”, Good Looks take a mature look on the people they call their friends. While it does go into some big political territory, “Bummer Year” tells a very human story. It’s a song that doesn’t write-off conservatives and the southern voter as unsalvageable. Instead, it speaks to their strengths, how we’re all in this together, and how unity makes those in power nervous. It’s all tied together in a beautiful folk song with gorgeous harmonies and some really wonderful guitar work. 

“All my friends from high school, they all bought motorcycles
Joined up with a bike gang, supported Donald Trump

I don’t think they’re evil, even when they’re awful
Not totally class conscious, but ultimately good
Because they’re the kind of people you want with you in a bar fight
Even when you caused it cuz you talk too much shit”

Good Looks are Tyler Jordan (vocals, guitar), Jake Ames (lead guitar), Robert Cherry (bass), and Phil Dunne (drums). The band’s debut album, Bummer Year, will be released April 8th on Keeled Scales. Pre-order it at the label’s store or on Bandcamp.

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