The Matinee ’22 v. 037 is full of wonder, whether it is through the brilliant, sonic overtures or the messages that induce self-reflection. Super-stars are mixed with rising stars on the March 18th mini-playlist, but we dare you to decide if the newcomers outshine the established artists.
Andrew Bird – “Atomized” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: Andrew Bird + David Byrne + Destroyer
Andrew Bird has been a constant source of creative, interesting and unique music for over two decades. His work, especially in the mid-late 2000s, has made him one of the preeminent artists of his era. From his whistling to his violin playing to his immersive lyricism, Bird still has all of those things that built his reputation. He’s also expanded and refined his sound many times over as he does with his latest single.
“Atomized” is distinctively Andrew Bird. Interesting percussion, plucked violin strings, and whistling kick the song off, just as expected. It is not, however, a linear track. On the contrary, “Atomized” at times feels like a little ditty being played in a Mexican bar, and other moments it turns into the perfect murder mystery tune. There is an air of mystery in Bird’s lyrics. Inspired by the late Joan Didion, Bird examines how the word is falling part – or more accurately self-destructing – through personal deletion.
“They’re gonna try to get a rise
To unseat you
They’ll demagnetize your poles
And you know they’re gonna try to delete you
So now you’re atomized unwhole
You know better start making your apologies
Stop blaming technology
Blaming technology whoa
May you please start making your apologies (oh)”
Arcade Fire – “Lightning I, II” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Arcade Fire
Five years have passed since Arcade Fire released their fifth album, Everything Now, which, let’s be honest, was the collective’s most disappointing output in their career. Now every great band hits rock bottom at some point, including the legendary Radiohead (and ironically it was also their fifth LP), but it’s how they rebound that matters most. So, how do Win Butler, Régine Chassagne, William Butler, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury and Jeremy Gara respond?
For starters, they call upon a Canadian musical legend (Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade, Divine Fits, Operators), the son of Haitian music giants (multi-instrumentalist Paul Beaubrun), and a former band member (Sarah Neufeld) to play alongside them. In addition, they ask one of the most influential British record producers (Nigel Godrich who has produced every Radiohead album) to offer his guidance. The result is a song reminiscent of Arcade Fire’s early days and made them one of the most exciting bands on the planet.
While “Lightning I, II” are listed as two songs, they are very much one song. It reveals what the band did so well at the beginning of their careers – creating songs that felt like endless adventures, eliciting numerous emotions with the multiple melody shifts and thought-provoking songwriting. The first half is a beautiful, theatrical-pop ballad that sees Win at his and the band’s most introspective. “Thought WE reached the mountaintop / But now WE just feel so low”, he sings, as if reflecting on the band’s unanticipated fall. For about three minutes, he shares how the band was waiting for an epiphany. “WE keep hoping in the distance WE’ll see a glow”, Win explains the band’s five-year hiatus. Then the moment that makes Arcade Fire who they are arrives.
As Régine hollers, Part II is cathartic chaos, and it is exhilarating. This is Arcade Fire as their very best. At this point, the band’s vision starts to crystalize.
“I heard the thunder and
I thought it was the answer
but I find
I got the question wrong
I was trying to run away
but a voice told me to stay
and put the feeling in a song
a day, a week, a month, a year
a day, a week, a month, a year
every second brings me here”
If “Lightning I, II” are just the appetizer for what is to come on Arcade Fire’s sixth album, we’ll be in for a massive treat. And we’ll be witnessing the return of a group that deserved to be recognized as the best band in the world.
Good Wilson – “Bats from the Buffet” (Vienna, Austria)
RIYL: LOVING, Sam Evian, George Harrison
Vienna’s Good Wilson claim they almost got stuck in an infinite time-loop in 2019. Listening to their debut LP, Good Wilson, it’s pretty apparent why. A hypnotic opener sets the tone for a really interesting trip with a nostalgic warmth pulsing throughout. The art Günther Paulitsch, Alex Connaughton, Mario Fartacek, and Julian Pieber create transports listeners into an immersive world of sound.
Their latest single “Bats from the Buffet” is a nice taste of what Good Wilson is all about. A bouncy track with a throw-back folk sound at its core. At times, it feels like a George Harrison creation, but then it returns to the present and enters the long road trip music of LOVING and Sam Evian. Like the journey the music creates, “Bats from the Buffet” is similarly a commentary of the long expedition we’ve all taken the last two years. Specifically, it tackles the frustrations many of us have experienced: watching news develop through the lens of social media, seeing fake news consume timelines, and how it’s broken down how humans treat each other. The song even gets its name from a disputed source of the pandemic.
Smart, witty, fun, and brilliant. What more could one ask for in a song? Not us.
Find this single on Assim Records.
Colatura – “Kids Like Us” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Steady Holiday + Fazerdaze + My Morning Jacket
In 2018, Colatura released their first EP. It’s interesting to hear now, but even the band would admit they were in search for an identity when they put it together. In 2019, the band really gelled when Meredith Lampe (vocals, guitar, synth) joined Jennica (vocals, bass, synth) and Digo Best (guitar) to make Colatura a trio. Since then, they added Alex Kirkpatrick (drums) and have released some great singles together, most featuring a great surf rock vibe.
“Kids Like Us” has a nostalgic vibe due to the reverb-drenched guitar and lush harmonies. Just as it is about to hit that sweet, groovy spot, “Kids Like Us” transforms halfway through with a haunting bridge section that erupts into the song’s stellar final moments. Simply awesome. Lyrically, Lampe, who sings lead on the single, says “This song is about collective family baggage, mental illness, and destructive patterns that can repeat generation after generation.” It’s a relatable song, and a promise to not continue those cycles for the sake of the future generations.
“And somewhere in your face I saw
All of the family flaws
Our issues they’ve become our only bond
Just came to quietly discuss
Still counting on your trust
To promise me you won’t have kids like us”
When Colatura shared.
Colatura are Jennica Best (vocals, bass, synth), Meredith Lampe (vocals, guitar, synth), and Digo Best (guitar) with Alex Kirkpatrick (drums). Their debut album, And Then I’ll Be Happy, will be out April 22nd. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.
The Smile – “Skrting On The Surface” (Oxford, England)
It would be interesting to sit down with Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood and ask them how they decide what songs would be for Radiohead and their new project The Smile, which includes Sons of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner. For instance, “You Will Never Work In Television Again” sounded like Radiohead during their angsty, alternative days while “The Smoke” could have fit in the post-In Rainbows era. Their third single, meanwhile, has actually been performed by Radiohead during live shows, but it never was officially released. That is until now, although “Skrting On The Surface” forever will be associated with The Smile.
The song represents Yorke and Greenwood at their most creative. While the track is stripped back and beautifully melancholic, it is much more complex than it seems. Several layers comprise the track: Greenwood’s lingering guitar that opens the tune, Skinner’s delicate drumming, Yorke’s dubbed voice popping occasionally in the background, a mournful bass, the slight bellows of horns, and quiet wails of strings. The composition is extremely intricate, and it results in a soundscape that is mysterious yet dazzling, dark but illuminating, uneasy yet breathtaking. This all sounds like and it is the anthem of our mortality. As Yorke’s poetically sings:
“When we realise we are merely held in suspension
‘Til someone comes along and shakes us
As the pattern lines cross our fingers like a web
Do we die upon the surface?”
Sensational. Absolutely sensational.
The trio’s debut album should be released at any moment. It could be today, tomorrow, or three months from now. When the LP does see the light of day, XL Recordings will release it.
Low Hummer – “Talk Shows” (Hull, England)
RIYL: Wet Leg, Dry Cleaning, Bodega
While Wet Leg rightfully have received a tremendous amount of buzz, several other UK bands also deserve similar recognition. This includes Low Hummer, whose debut album, Modern Tricks for Living, was one of the most overlooked LPs of 2021 and definitely one of the year’s best first records. As Dan Mawer (guitar, vocals), Aimee Duncan (vocals, guitar), John Copley (guitar), Jack Gallagher (bass), Stephanie Hebdon (keys, guitar), and Joseph Cox (drum) make their way to SXSW, the buzz around them should intensify. As such, don’t be surprised to see them on several “The Best Things I Saw at SXSW” lists in the coming days. To win tastemakers, curators, and music fans over, they wrote a special tune just for the occasion in “Talk Shows”.
The sextet reach deep into their cavernous bag of tricks to deliver a catchy and clever art-punk track. It rumbles at the start with Gallagher’s terrific bass leading the way, but then it enters groovy territory as the guitars get jangly and angular. As the melody and tempo shift, Duncan’s voice never wavers. In a near spoken-word approach, she brilliantly captures how life has become as repetitive and monotonous as 24-hour news channels and talk radio. While they proclaim to be provide “news”, all that is heard is the regurgitation of the same issues and arguments. Likewise, the people who surround us say the same arguments over and over again when things don’t well.
“Your money problems, they never stop
You speak so loud, I can’t hear the song
You’re overthinking, now that’s enough
A load of talk, a load of nothing”
Catch this band in you’re in Austin. They’ll blow you away, as they have with Dance To The Radio, who released Low Hummer’s debut LP and this tune.
Ducks Ltd. – “Head On” (feat. Illuminati Hotties) (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Kiwi Jr., Ultimate Painting
We don’t usually share covers, but rules are meant to be broken. Plus, this cover seems apropos given the times. Plus, the catchy jangle pop-rock vibes that Ducks Ltd. always produce on their songs are made for Fridays. In other words, Tom Mcgreevy (vocals, rhythm guitar, bass) and Evan Lewis’ (lead guitar) rendition of “Head On” is exactly the way to say sayonara to the work week.
With Sarah Tudzin of Illuminati Hotties offering vocal support, the trio reignite the fun-loving ’80s with this energetic and joyful cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain original. For 2.5 minutes, it will get you off your keister and dancing no matter where you are. Come to think of it, this tune needs to be added to every jukebox on the planet, enlivening the atmosphere in every bar. When it’s finished, people will likely want to spin it again because they will think they’ve heard the song before. In some ways they have, but not quite like this. But they’ll sing along to the tune anyway:
“Makes you want to blow the stars from the sky
And I’m taking myself to the dirty part of town
Where all my troubles can’t be found
Makes you want to feel, makes you want to try
Makes you want to blow the stars from the sky
And I can’t stand up, I can’t cool down“
Vansire – “Kind of a Nice Time” (Minnesota and Ohio, USA)
RIYL: Beach Fossils, Daywave, Told Slant
Samuel Winemiller (guitar, bass, synth) and Josh Augustin (vocals, guitar, synth) have been creating music as Vansire since 2015. They’re a band that blend a lot of different styles together in a very appealing package. Their 2020 EP, After Fillmore County, kicked things off with a great guitar track before venturing off into danceable electronic territory and even hip hop with guest Mick Jenkins.
At its heart, Vansire’s latest single, “Kind of a Nice Time”, is a warm, lush song with plenty of guitar jangle to go around. Augustin’s voice is inviting and even a bit floaty, accented by his delivery and timing. There’s also a layer of lush synth underneath that gives the track a unique quality. About halfway, there’s a beautiful moment with both Augustin and Winemiller harmonizing over just keyboards and guitar before it all comes back with a stunning moment. Lyrically, the song fits the vibe of the instrumentals, painting the picture of life on the road and of the places in between places.
“When all you hear’s the road noise
It’s in stereo
It’s panning around
For driving west with no choice
Everywhere we go
Now we’re fading out”
Their yet-to-be-named third album drops May 6th. This is a band for all to know.
Memorial – “Honest” (Brighton & Manchester, England)
RIYL: Crake, Squirrel Flower, Big Thief
We end today’s musical selection on a more sobering note but a beautiful one at that. So find a comfortable seat, take a deep breath, and allow yourself to be consumed by “Honest”, the newest single from rising alt-pop duo Memorial.
While we have only come across one other song from Ollie Spalding and Jack Watts, “Honest” made us utter “Wow!” It draws you in immediately, as the opening, diligent guitar riff and the first lyrics, “In your eyes, I see the words”, make you feel part of the track. Gradually as the mourning guitar echoes in the background and the rhythms solemnly pulse, we imagine ourselves trying to “get up off the floor” as the duo tells us that “the world deserves you more”. While Spalding and Watts try to save us, they tell us they don’t need us to save them.
“I don’t need saving
From these games we’re playing
I don’t need your lips
To satisfy these cravings”
After listening to this number, our cravings to hear more from Memorial, however, have not been satisfied. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait long for the duo’s eponymous debut album to be released. It officially arrives on April 29th via Real Kind Records. Pre-saves and pre-orders can be done at these links.
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