On the second half of today’s doubleheader of mini-playlists, The Matinee ’22 v. 034 is a multi-genre affair with the seven songs filled with introspection and a desire to be liberated. Many of the songs make powerful statements about life, our society, and us.
Horsegirl – “Anti-Glory” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: Dehd, OMNI, Geese
We’re going to say it right now, Horsegirl are one of our favorite discoveries of the year. The trio of Penelope Lowenstein (guitar, vocals), Gigi Reece (drums), and Nora Cheng (guitar, bass, vocals), who are still in high school, are creating some of the best indie music on the planet. It helps to live in a city like Chicago, whose indie scene has exploded this Century. Soon, the three teenagers’ names will be mentioned alongside Lala Lala, Dehd, Deeper, and even Wilco as one of the Windy City’s greatest bands. With “Anti-Glory”, they might already be at that level.
Like their previous song “Billy”, which blended alt-rock and shoegaze, the band once again put on their David Byrne hats and think outside the box. 1980s indie rock (think Sonic Youth) is merged with the atonal post-punk of the Midwest and NYC art-rock. The song, as such, weaves from a melodic growl to quick, mechanical bursts, which are very Talking Heads-ish. Even the storyline sounds like it comes straight out of the days of massive perms and when a generation of liberal thinkers wanted to be unchained from the shackles of a conservative world. They wanted to “Dance!”, as Lowenstein expresses in a deadpan refrain. They wanted to be free to do as they pleased. If “Anti-glory” was released then, our parents might have had their anthem to dance and march to. Instead, we have it thanks to three teenagers (let that sink in for a moment).
JayWood – “God Is A Reptile” (Winnipeg, Canada)
RIYL: Genesis Owusu, Still Woozy, Juan Wauters
It’s only a matter of time before JayWood, the project fronted by Winnipeg’s own Jeremy Haywood-Smith, becomes a household name within indie circles. After all, he’s signed with Captured Tracks, home to DIIV, Widowspeak, Molly Burch, and Wild Nothing and who helped launch the careers of Beach Fossils, Blouse, Perfect Pussy, and Mac DeMarco. The label, though, is the means by which people will hear his art; the end product is all his own. In other words, his talent and creativity will determine his mass appeal, and the young artist delivers a brilliant number in “God Is A Reptile”.
The song is endowed with so many layers. Indie rock riffs, R&B grooves, a post-punk bass line, and jazzy percussion are supported by a chilling synth. Just when you think nothing else could be added, a steamy saxophone arrives at the bridge. On paper, this combination sounds overwhelming, but instead it is deliriously hypnotic as the orchestration and execution are perfect. Consequently, Haywood-Smith and his band mates create an experience that is akin to being suspended to the walls of whirling vortex, where we delight in the four-minute controlled chaos. Haywood-Smith’s tale of confronting his faith, too, is a whirlwind, as his reality does not equate to what he’s been taught.
“I’m thinking I should call it quits?
Hold up stop the bullshit
Take a look at yourself
Write it out, let it show, drop it off, hold your breath
I’ll let you know
If we’re leading on dismissal
Lies ruin lives like the missiles”
Watch out for this young artist, who has the potential to be Canada’s own Genesis Owusu – the young Australian who changed the indie scene Down Under.
Jesse Mac Cormack – “NHFN” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Atoms for Peace, Caribou, Four Tet
Jesse Mac Cormack is a living Shakespearean play in that his musical career has multiple acts. The Montreal-based artist started with the typical singer-songwriter foundation, but he quickly stripped them aside in favor of a fuller, cinematic art-folk / art-rock sound. This second act led to critical acclaim in Canada, but Mac Cormack refused to be stationary. For his third act, he extends himself even further, delving more into the alt-electronic space that the Postal Service and later Thom Yorke via Atoms for Peace helped popularize. His previous single, “Blue World”, was a hypnotic and mesmerizing affair. He follows that up with an equally alluring number in “NHFN”.
“As the butterflies / Are going away / It’s hard for me to say / Poles have shifted”, Mac Cormack sings right at the start, as if he’s describing his own metamorphosis. In many ways, he is, but not just as a musician. As a guitar rumbles in the background and dabbling electronics and beats pulse in the foreground, he shares how he is falling into the rabbit hole, as if he was living inside a dream. The world around him is closing in at times and then spits him out. His life is one part Phil Connors (Groundhog Day) and another part Thomas Anderson (The Matrix), where he relieves the same, surreal day over and over again. However, “no pill will make me swallow this one down“, he reveals. Instead, he will stay idle in this one place.
“I felt the Californian wind in my hair
Only I didn’t care
I was living the dream
And that’s how it went
Now I know what I had
Malady – “Round The Bend” (London, England)
RIYL: Bloc Party, Childcare, Kele
Malady‘s portfolio is relatively sparse at the moment, as the four young Londoners balance school, work, music, and daily life. However, the handful of songs they’ve released to date, including “Famous Last Words” and “London, I Love You but You’re Bring Me Down”, display a band with the potential to be a younger generation’s Bloc Party. Like the influential Brit band, Percy Junior Cobbinah (vocals, guitar), Charlie Clark (guitar, synth), Ertan Cimen (drums), and Khaleem Mitchell-Patterson (bass) create electrifying soundscapes while telling stories about the people and communities that surround them. They continue on this trajectory to future stardom with “Round The Bend”.
Post-punk, shoegaze, and electro-rock intertwine to create a bleak yet mesmerizing atmosphere. The patiently-delivered chiming guitar startles, the rhythms urgently rattle, while Cobbinah’s voice is controlled but unsettling. In this stark place, he calmly recounts a friend’s battle with depression and anxiety. “The madness echoes in your soul forever”, he sings, describing his friend’s state of mind. Cobbinah, though, won’t abandon her, sharing immediately after, “When you’re feeling less than whole, I’ll find you there”. This is what should make Malady great – their ability to guide us away from the darkness and into the light.
The single is out on Nice Swan Records.
Melody’s Echo Chamber – “Personal Message” (Paris via Aix-en-Provence, France)
RIYL: L’Imperatrice, Stereolab, Tame Impala
If Midas existed today, he would not be a king. Rather, she would be a Queen and take the form of Melody Prochet because as Melody’s Echo Chamber everything she touches is gold. Her first two albums featured extraordinary psychedelic French-pop, recalling Paris’ pastel days of the late ’60s and ’70s. With her third album just around the corner, Prochet continues to go back to the future – that is bringing the past to the present to create her captivating and dreamy brand of music. With “Personal Message”, she may have created her masterpiece.
Intoxicating in its haziness, the song is like the most dazzling dream one could have. The bass delicately paces the track while a great string arrangement brings a sense of wonder. When the reverb guitar appears, the song becomes even more dizzying, taking the song and us into another dimension. Prochet’s heavenly voice narrates our journey, as she tells us to “don’t be scared” because she’s been where we’ve been before. She’s been to the stars and back, to the bottom of the sea and walked through the fires of the Earth, and to places where silence is golden.
“Une image, une étoile
Une terre rouge s’étale
Tout autour d’un mur un cœur se dévoile
Tu reviens et la mer
Aussi douce que mon éternelle
Innocence d’enfant disparaÎt, décevant…
If it suddenly feels that low
Don’t be scared I was there before
I promise you’re going to find
Other reasons to dance along”
Plato III – “Give ‘Em Hell” & “It’s Alright, It’s Okay” (Los Angeles via Abeline, TX USA)
RIYL: Public Enemy + Run the Jewels + Slowdive
It’s not often that we share hip hop, but then again Plato III‘s companion singles are not solely hip hop. They are instead a mélange of genres rolled into one powerful and dynamic experience. In addition to hip hop, the track features West Coast rap, rock, emo, and even shoegaze. The inventiveness of the arrangement, though, isn’t the main reason why we decided to share this song. Instead, what Ryan Silva, the young mastermind behind Plato III, has crafted are two extremely powerful tracks about the struggles of Black and Hispanic men.
With the support of Merk, MoneyM!ll$, Blasé, and Mickey Matta, “Give ‘Em Hell” and “It’s Alright, It’s Okay” are socially- and politically-charged numbers that address the lack of opportunities, the perpetual poverty, and the systemic discrimination and racism they face, especially those living in Republican-controlled states. The former begins with the dilemma they face everyday, which Mickey Matta immediately states: “Do you choose to die or rot in a prison cell?”
Afterwards with an edgy, heavy rock melody playing in the background, the four rappers explain what they see and experience everyday. This includes walking “barefooted on the asphalt” in the dead of summer, seeing “flame out the glock / It claims bodies like a coroner”, and “leave no cases get smoked in rotation”. The track then fades into “It’s Alright, It’s Okay”, which turns into an unexpected shoegaze number. At the heart of it is Plato III, who describes how so many young men like him turned to crime just to put bread on the table and to survive. They don’t choose a life of crime, but rather that choice has been made for them. Emotionally, he sings:
“Niggas really die where I’m from
They found him in his ride with a gun
And a hole in the head
We all living close to the edge
Fuck it man we posed to be dead
Got us vying for crumbs
Can’t count how many times I done tried but I’m done
I’m alive but I’m tired and I’m numb”
Simply two outstanding numbers that we likely will remember at the end of the year.
Tomberlin – “tap” (Brooklyn via Jacksonville, FL, USA)
RIYL: Maple Glider, Adrianne Lenker, Clairo
Sarah Beth Tomberlin‘s 2020 EP Projections left us captivated. The Alex G-produced EP was a fantastic follow-up to her debut record, At Weddings. Next month, Tomberlin will release her second full-length record, i dont know who needs to hear this. From the singles released so far, “happy accident” and “idkwntht”, it’s shaping up to be truly stunning.
“tap” stands out from the other singles released so far from i dont know who needs to hear this. Where there’s a big sound on “happy accident” or the assist from Told Slant’s Felix Walworth on “idkwntht”, “tap” has a much more personal, isolated feeling to it. Its unique sounding percussion creates a layer of wonder throughout the song. Tomberlin’s voice goes from quiet moments into some really big vocal moments, occasionally accompanied by her own harmonies.
Lyrically, it matches those personal vibes and feelings. Tomberlin wrote the song during the pandemic in New York, inspired by long walks through the city that provide unique opportunities for introspection.
“I love the people
playing songs in the park
guitar for babies
instead of people in the bars
do you think they know
how good they are
I think they do they got kids
singing like larks
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