The Matinee ’22 v. 038 celebrates the first day of spring with catchy rockers, dazzling psych-pop, intimate folk tunes, and soul-shaking shoegaze & darkwave. These nine songs reflect the changing of the seasons and the emotions that come with it.
The Clockworks – “Endgame” (London, England via Galway, Ireland)
RIYL: Kasabian, Bloc Party, Sea Power
Like many fans of The Clockworks, we’ve been waiting patiently for the Irish quartet to announce their debut EP or LP. We thought it would have been last year after naming them Artists to Watch in 2021. At the time, they were an emerging post-punk band that was on track to follow in the footsteps of Iceage, IDLES, and Fontaines D.C. Since their move to London last year, they have evolved. The post-punk attitude remains, but sonically they’ve entered the anthemic Brit-rock world, as evidenced by “Feels So Real”, “Throw It All Away”, and now “Endgame”.
While James McGregor (vocals, guitar), Sean Connelly (guitar), Damian Greaney (drums), and Tom Freeman (bass) could take shortcuts to accelerate their path to stardom, they refuse to be just another radio band. Instead, they still want to blow our minds in more ways than one. As Connelly and McGregor’s guitars burst with the steely adrenaline reminiscent of the UK’s indie scene of the early 2000s, Freeman’s bass line feverishly pulsates, reminding us of The Clockworks’ roots. McGregor’s songwriting, too, has not lost its urgency and poignancy. He’s one of the great young songwriters around, and this time he finds inspiration in Samuel Beckett’s play of the same name. While the play was first shared 65 years ago, its themes of dealing with delusion, paranoia, and alternative realities remain very relevant today.
“I know I think too much about everything
And I care too much about what I think
Cause I regret every time I drink
When it turns me into
It turns me into someone I hate”
Oh, before we forget, the quartet’s eponymous debut EP will be released April 1st via It’s Creation Baby. We cannot wait!
Griffin Benton – “Stranger” (Detroit, USA)
RIYL: Glasvegas, Editors, HARTS
When thinking about Detroit and rock music, the first name that likely comes to mind is Jack White (although some may say Kid Rock, but we digress). The Motor City’s rock scene is gritty, bluesy, and old school. One doesn’t often think Brit-rock, but young singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Griffin Benton might change everyone’s perceptions about Michigan rock with “Stranger”.
Benton’s newest tune is right from the canons of Glasvegas and Editors with even touches of mid-career U2 and Snow Patrol. The electrifying guitar and urgent rhythms recall the time when the UK indie scene was reborn. The music at that time was not just anthemic but also meaningful and powerful, as bands captured the hopes and desires of a population fatigued by war and economic hardship. Benton, similarly, captures the feelings of a young generation on “Stranger”. But instead of optimism, he speaks about his and other’s personal struggles in determining who they are. “I don’t recognize the stranger staring back at me,” he sings. He further shares his state of mind, to whom he’s a prisoner.
“Darkness follows in my tracks
Can’t escape the whip it cracks
I’m struggling in place
Can’t seem to turn the page”
The young individual has the chance to be something special. Hopefully, someone like David Sitek discovers him to help in take his career to another level.
RIYL: Crystal Castles, Twin Tribes, Gary Numan
HEALTH has long created music equivalent to an epic storm. Their songs are often heavy, dark, and thunderous, and they are brightened by lightning-quick guitar and synth strikes. One does not listen to Jake Duzsik (vocals, guitar), John Famiglietti (bass), and BJ Miller (drums) to be dazzled and sent to La La Land. For the trio’s latest song, however, they throw a curveball. Oh, they don’t have not completely changed their stripes and opted for dream-pop or post-rock. Instead, HEALTH considerably slow the tempo, strip back the production, and call on 18-year old Vancouver-based darkwave artist EKKSTACY to sing lead vocals. The result is a wonderful surprise.
“Still Breathing” is arguably HEALTH’s bleakest and most ominous song, and it is, shall we say, dazzling. Each synth note is elongated and every bass drum kick shallowly throbs, and the two give the track a morbid tone. Cutting through the darkness is a shallow, crystalline guitar that offers a touch of illumination. So in some ways, a storm still emerges in the song, but it slowly develops. It develops not outside the safety of our homes but within our minds. Within EKKSTACY’s mind, who shares his daily struggles. His first words are jaw-dropping: “One more pill, knock me out / I might die for a day”. Shortly thereafter, he repeats, “I don’t want to see the day”.
Duzsik’s voice than emerges and tells EKKSTACY to “hold on tonight / You’re too young / It gets better for a little while”. He, however, cannot see the light. He just wants to lose himself in “twenty lines of white snow” so that everyone can “just let me go”. But in hearing this song, we won’t want to let go. We’ll instead hold on tight.
Georgia Harmer – “Talamanca” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Haley Heynderickx, Hand Habits, Bedouine
When we first heard Georgia Harmer, we knew we were hearing something special. Her first single, “Headrush” was enough to secure her a spot on our Artists to Watch in 2022 list. She then followed that up with “Austin” and “All My Mind“. All three tracks brought something different to the table, ranging from pop rockers to grittier sounds. With “Talamanca”, Harmer releases something even more different.
On the Toronto-based singer-songwriter’s newest tune, the more melancholic side of Harmer shines through. The song’s delicately finger-picked guitar and light percussion create a perfect platform for Harmer’s stellar lyrics. She wrote “Talamanca” in the city of the same name in Costa Rica while on tour with Alessia Cara. As Harmer describes it, “This song is essentially about the telepathy and mind-reading that goes on between close friends”. Somehow a song about wordless communication features some absolutely beautiful words. It’s one of those strengths of Harmer’s music that has us excited for the future.
“I kept the loss deep inside my chest
When you left
I felt you were the only one I needed to be known by
Speaking without words
Languages of seeing and being seen
The feelings in the air
A silence we both can read”
The Deepest Shade – “Drifting” (Atlanta, USA)
RIYL: Slowdive, Cocteau Twins, Lush
Music can be cathartic and euphoric. It also can be therapeutic. And we’re not talking about curing a broken heart. In these uncertain and uneasy times, we are, of course, speaking about addressing one’s mental health. The curative power of music can lie in a great melody or the soul-revealing lyrics. More often than not, however, it exists in both, as demonstrated on “newcomers” The Deepest Shade‘s single, “Drifting”.
Comprised of Jennifer Stone, Cory Thorpe, Stephen Thorpe, and Kevin Elmore, the Atlanta-based outfit have crafted a beautifully vulnerable piece of shoegaze. It is reminiscent of Slowdive’s Souvlaki, where a dreaminess lies underneath the mournful and sobering tone. We feel like we are floating in a very serene place, but an uneasiness surrounds us. It shows itself when the lead guitar ignites and the rhythms get a bit more propulsive. The sanguine flight has turned into a turbulent affair, which reflects the ongoing torment in Stone’s mind.
“What do I do now with these thoughts
That are buried inside me
I’m worn down and restless
I’m so tired but I can’t sleep
Fighting things I can’t control
Endless worries about the unknown“
“Drifting” is taken from the quartet’s debut EP, Reflections. It is available everywhere.
Cathedral Pearls – “Speaking in Code” (Spokane, USA)
RIYL: DIIV, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Deafheaven
Once upon a time, Cathedral Pearls were, shall we say, another indie pop-rock band, and they were pretty good at it. If they had continued down that track, they could have been the next Stars. A few years later, Karli Ingersoll, Caleb Ingersoll and Max Harnishfeger scrapped that plan and opted to enter the magical world of dreamgaze. And boy was that decision a great one since they’ve released some stellar tracks, including “Wasted Days” and “Sun After Sun”, with the former landing on our Mega, Mega Playlist of 2021. The trio return to lay claim to a spot on this year list of favorite tunes with “Speaking in Code”.
Whereas some bands capture the essence of shoegaze’s origins, Cathedral Pearls bring it into the 2020s. The wonder that personifies the genre still exists in the band’s latest tune, as a soothing delirium forms in the song’s first two acts. Each element is patiently delivered while Caleb tells a tale of how everyday we “walk the tightrope”, constantly convincing ourselves to be someone else. In actuality, we’re “a slave to blowing smoke”. Where shoegaze is brought to the present is heard in the final act when the song explodes. The song suddenly becomes urgent while the Ingersolls holler, “Go on and say, I’m sick of speaking in code!” It is their call to us to remove the costumes and reveal our true selves. To reveal who we want to be, much like Cathedral Pearls did not too long ago.
Pure Intruders – “Just Like Everybody Else” (Atlanta, USA)
RIYL: Men I Trust, Yumi Zouma, Tennis
When bands like Yumi Zouma, Wet, and Men I Trust arrived on the scene roughly a decade ago, they brought life to a genre had gone stale. Almost every other artist was making bedroom synth-pop, but these three bands added dashes of disco and neo-psychedelia to create a lavishing sound. But as quickly as disco-infused psych-pop became the thing, it has faded to the background with the emphasis on ’80s synth-pop, K- and J-pop, and Euro-pop. Maybe the sub-genre makes a comeback this year, and if it does we can thank young Atlanta-based trio Pure Intruders and their single, “Just Like Everybody Else”.
In a word, Madeline Smith (vocals), Brandon Suarez (keys, drums), and Jonathan Noel’s (bass) first single of 2022 is dazzling. It would be perfectly placed in any nightclub across the globe, where the patrons could dance gently to the soothing and hazy melody. At the same time, the song’s late-summer vibes make it ideal for a beach gathering or hanging with friends. The track just induces smiles and defines good times. What will give Pure Intruders staying power, however, is the stories they share and the messages they communicate. In Smith, they have an extremely talented songwriting, who takes a familiar theme (relationships) and turns it into one of empowerment, trust, and community.
“But if you need to be reminded
You don’t have to ask me twice babe
It’s a new direction
Not aiming for perfection
We’re in this together we’re just climbing up the ladder
But if you need my affection
You have to come up and get it
It’s not easy listening
Tell me what you really think”
Look out for this band, who have the makings to be one of the year’s biggest breakout groups.
Yawners – “Rivers Cuomo” (Madrid, Spain)
RIYL: Soccer Mommy, Slothrust, Weezer, Nada Surf
Elena Nieto released the first proper Yawners record, Just Calm Down, in 2019. It was a record that was reminiscent of some of the great pop-rock bands from the ’90s. Nieto sang in both Spanish and English on the record, and her songwriting reflected more contemporary singer-songwriters. With that, it’s probably not shocking that the latest Yawners single is named after the frontman for Weezer.
“Rivers Cuomo” does have much of the appeal of a Weezer track: fuzzy guitar, a catchy chord progression, and a big singalong. At its core, “Rivers Cuomo” is a cheery pop song. There also are some great guitar leads throughout and a bit of acoustic lying underneath that recalls another ’90s pop-rock group, Nada Surf. While writing songs for the upcoming Yawners record, Nieto came across an interview with Rivers Cuomo that intrigued her. In it, Cuomo stated he’d put song lyric ideas into an excel sheet and run it through a formula. The creative way Cuomo navigated writers block in the interview ended up being the inspiration for the entire song.
Companion – “23rd Street” (Fort Collins, CO, USA)
RIYL: Phoebe Bridgers, The Ophelias, Big Thief
Companion is the project of identical twin sisters, Sophia and Jo Babb. The duo are gearing up for the release of their debut LP, Second Day of Spring, and previously released the stunning “How Could I Have Known”. To offer a hint of what further awaits, they share “23rd Street”.
Many of the qualities that drew us into that first single are present on “23rd Street”. Gorgeous harmonies from the twins guide the track alongside some wonderful acoustic guitar and a lush sound accented by piano chords and entrancing guitar leads. The lyrics take the listener on a journey, remembering times past and how those experiences shaped them. While there are many words, experiences, and lessons in the lyrics, the song ends right where it began, sitting at the bank on 23rd street.
“We led ourselves through Mazes
then raced ’em to a dead end
Across mountain trails
And river beds
Through broken men
We pick up the wind
Take up our words
Then let it set us down again
and I don’t know how
always someone now
Second Day of Spring is due out on May 27th. Pre-order it here.
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