From ethereal moments to empowering southern-folk to foreboding and seismic post-punk, The Matinee ’22 v. 039 is a culinary of sonic delights. Several rising stars are featured as well as established ones, including an artist and his project making their long-awaited return.

As usual, these eight song are included on the Songs of March 2022 playlist, which is available on SoundCloud and Spotify.

 

Shearwater – “Xenarthran” (Austin, USA)

RIYL: Loma, Midlake, Volcano Choir

Six years have passed since Jonathan Meiburg and his primary project Shearwater have released any new music. That was Jet Plane and Oxbow, a heavy, dense, but extremely moving and cinematic album. It was simply outstanding. Meiburg, however, has not been idle. For the past five years, he along with Cross Record’s Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski have performed as Loma, and they’ve released two extraordinary albums in Loma and Don’t Shy Away. As great as that super-group is, there is simply no replacing a Shearwater album, and LP number 11 is coming.

Through his quarterly emails, Meiburg informed fans that he was working on new music, which made adding Shearwater to our Most Anticipated Albums of 2022 list a no-brainer. The question, of course, is whether the product can match the anticipation. The answer: Meiburg exceeds expectations with The Great Awakening‘s first single, “Xenarthran”.

The song is like a bridge between Jet Plane and Oxbow and Don’t Shy Away. Like the former, Meiburg brilliantly develops a scene that focuses on one person’s vulnerability, insecurity, and desperation. Like the latter, a haunting yet breathtaking soundscape emerges. It is one part Guillermo Del Toro-like fantasy and another part Jim Jarmusch broodiness, but the experience is like a spectacle. Like all great films, at the heart lies a character with whom we can empathise and associate. We understand when he asks himself:

“The question is
How do you fool the mind?
You fool the body
What’s in the box
In the back seat
And dial down the senses”

Welcome back Shearwater. 

The Great Awakening will be released June 10th. Pre-orders available here and on Bandcamp.

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Fontaines D.C. – “Skinty Fia” (Dublin, Ireland)

RIYL: Iceage, Underworld, SUUNS

Think about all the artists and bands whose first three albums could be considered classics. There are not many if one really thinks about it, and this highlights how great and special Fontaines D.C. are. In Dongrel and A Hero’s Death, they released two of the greatest post-punk albums in history, and they did this less than four years into their existence. Now Grian Chatten, Conor Deegan III, Carlos O’Connell, Conor Curley, and Tom Coll look to go three for three when Skinty Fa arrives in five weeks time.

The Dublin quintet already have shared two songs from the forthcoming LP. The Brit-pop-infused “Jackie Down The Line” showcased the band experimenting with dazzling effect. Meanwhile, “I Love You” revealed their darker side, as Fontaines D.C. delivered a brutal critique of the foundations of our society. On “Skinty Fia”, the outfit further extend themselves and what is possible within post-punk.

Early ’90s darkwave (think Underworld and Leftfield) are woven together with plodding, grimy post-punk and a dash of krautrock. The combination yields an immensely sinister and bleak number, and it is awesome. The interplay between the sparse, dabbling beats, the shallow throbbing bass, and the dissonant, crystalline guitar is brilliantly executed. In the middle of the starkness resides Chatten’s gripping vocal. Meaning “damnation of the deer” in Gaelic, “Skinty Fia” is the story of everyone who has struggled with loss, addiction, identity, and their faith. It is a fantastic tale of all the things that made us who we are, for better and for worse.

“Does you really don’t know where the avenuers go
Are you lying through your teeth or are they paying through your nose
A set of manners and a smile is all they want you for
But we can talk about it later
You can read it in the paper

I hated you away from the very start
I seen you sticking to your smile – it’s gone and broken my heart
Now the wind is making work of every step on the bridge
You say ‘I used to say we found each other – now I don’t know
Where he is'”

Skinty Fia drops April 22nd on Partisan Records. Pre-orders available here and directly on Bandcamp. It will likely be one of 2022’s great albums and maybe the very best.

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Opus Kink – “The Unrepentant Soldier” (Brighton, England)

RIYL: Shame, The Voidz, Bambara

If we are to one day do a post on the perfect concert combination, Opus Kink opening for Fontaines D.C. would be extremely high on the list. As stated above, Fontaines D.C. are one of the great post-punk bands, as they pair startling music with even more sensational and mesmerizing storytelling. Meanwhile, the Brighton-based blokes’ career is still in its infancy (they have three official songs to their name), yet they have the talent to follow their Irish cousins’ footsteps and maybe one day rival them. What makes this possible is their unique sound that infuses Gypsy and vaudeville, leading to a delirious and often manic occasion. “Wild Bill” and “I Love You, Baby” offered a sample of what Opus Kink are capable of, and they further advance their craft on “The Unrepentant Soldier”.

Boisterous horns, frenetic percussion, and rumbling bass are the drivers of this track. As they burst in all directions, front-man Angus Rogers once again delivers a creative and imaginative tale that Edgar Allan Poe and the Grimm Brothers would applaud. Even Tom Hanks might appreciate this story of a young man who goes to war and sacrifices his body in service to his country. Whatever the reasons are for his participation – whether he’s fighting for or against a totalitarian regime – he has no regrets for his actions and feels no remorse for the lives he’s taken. He might be an inch away from his grave, but he firmly believes that “my soul is marching on”

Such a great song from one of the great new bands of the decade.

Opus Kink are Angus Rogers (vocals, guitars), Sam Abbo (bass), Jazz Pope (keys, synth), Jack Banjo Courtney (trumpet), Jed Morgans (alto saxophone), and Fin Abbo (drums). Their debut EP,  ‘Til The Stream Runs Dry, will be released June 17th on Nice Swan Records.

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Adia Victoria – “Ain’t Killed Me Yet” (Nashville, USA)

RIYL: Rhiannon Giddens, Allison Russell, Jack White

We said the following statement a few times before but it’s worth repeating: future generations will regard Adia Victoria as one of the finest singer-songwriters in music history. Her third album, A Southern Gothic, was one of 2021’s standouts in our humble opinions, as it was listed among our 50 Favorite Albums of the Year. It was full of heart, soul, and vulnerability. It was also immensely powerful and empowering. If anyone missed out on that great album, there’s always time to revisit it. If you need more convincing, then spin “Ain’t Killed Me Yet”.

With a gritty, southern-rock sound that could be taken from Jack White’s lengthy canon of music, Victoria makes it fervently clear that she is going nowhere. Like the songs on A Southern Gothic, Victoria’s newest single is a celebration and concerns the permanence of Black womanhood. As such, regardless of the threats and taunts people holler at her, she will not stand aside for anyone. She will instead stand tall and proud, making people move aside for her. Making them appease and serve her instead of the other way around. Oh, how the tables have changed – or hopefully they will one day.

The single is out on Canvasback Music and Atlantic Records.

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Babeheaven – “Sink Into Me” (London, England)

RIYL: London Grammar, SAULT, Rhye

Hovering under the radar among the deluge of album releases last week was Babeheaven‘s Sink Into Me. For those who love to drown into a record of beautifully crippling and vibrant songs, the London-based quintet’s sophomore LP is the perfect answer. Its centerpiece, the title track, encapsulates the alluring artistry of one of the UK’s most underrated bands.

“Sink Into Me” is made for the intimacy of twilight, but no beverage is required because it is pure intoxication. It is a blend of the sensual noir-pop of London Grammar, the sobering dream-pop of Rhye, and the smooth, intimate alt-R&B of SAULT and Connie Constance. The orchestration is superb, as the delicate guitar and the patient bass and drums create an inviting yet mysterious environment. In the middle of all this is Nancy Andersen’s stirring vocal.

Like what her bandmates achieve, she wants to “engulf you”, knowing that time consists of many moments, which eventually evaporate. She desires to hold onto to every fleeting minute she has with another because the end is near. “I’ll do whatever it takes to sink in forever”, she calmly hollers. Her words deeply penetrate our soul because as we look to the person beside us or who exists only in pictures, we desire the same. 

Babeheaven are Nancy Andersen (vocals), Jamie Travis (production), Hugo McGuire (bass), Luca Mantero (guitar), and Ned Smith (drums). Sink Into Me is out now via Believe Music. It can be purchased / streamed here or directly on Bandcamp.

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Palm Friends – “Light Pink” (Minneapolis, USA)

RIYL: Why Bonnie, Palehound, Womb

Just a couple of weeks ago, Palm Friends wowed us with the jangly gracefulness of “Domino”, which is the second single from their upcoming EP, The Delivery. With the new songs, Shawnna Stennes (vocals),  Jon Lindquist (drums), Jesse Pedersen (guitar), and Will Bunton (bass) present a more mature and intense sound than what we’ve heard from the band’s previous release, 2019’s bright and warm Nice Weather

On the latest single from The Delivery, “Light Pink”, Palm Friends continue in that new direction in a big way. Opening with just some muddied guitar chords and Stennes singing wordlessly, the single’s tone is set quickly. A reverbed guitar lead comes in as Stennes’ lyrics now come into focus. The rest of the song has a bit of a dreamy quality, from the hypnotic guitar leads to the breathy vocals. “Light Pink” is about taking things slow, taking in more of the little moments. 

“Come sit by me
Lemon squeezed over two whiskeys
Little sip
make it last longer
Slow down and the tunes sound better

You bring me out to the park
Felt the big breeze that I would’ve missed out on”

The band’s new EP, The Delivery, will be released March 25th via Forged Artifacts. Get it on Bandcamp.

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Lala Lala – “Memory” (Chicago, USA)

RIYL: Girlpool, Austra, Beach House

Lillie West has been one of our favorite artists for a while now. Lala Lala‘s 2018 record The Lamb was a record that had a rawness to it, but one that signified the emergence of a great songwriter. Her 2021 record, I Want The Door To Open, marked a huge evolution to the sound of Lala Lala, with more synths, vocal effects and even collaborative songs throughout the record. 

The shift in sound continues with Lala Lala’s latest single, “Memory”. The opening moments are stunning. West’s voice, with a layer of distortion underneath it is the first thing we hear on the track. It’s quickly joined by a lush, bass-heavy synthesizer. More sounds enter the mix, including a piano, electronic effects, and some very different vocal distortions, creating quite an ethereal quality.

The song then shifts into a more upbeat, dream-pop track. A fantastic drum beat lies underneath, alternating from more traditional acoustic sounds to machine samples flawlessly. Those earlier vocal distortions return but with a more joyous feel to them. West says the song is about “euphoric recall” and “letting go of fantasy”. That’s a vibe that is absolutely nailed on “Memory”.

The single is out now on Hardly Art

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Harkin – “Body Clock” (Leeds, England)

RIYL: Wye Oak, Sleater-Kinney, Loma

Katie Harkin may be among the hardest workers in the industry today. Her contributions can be heard almost everywhere we turn, whether it’s touring with Courtney Barnett or Sleater-Kinney, singing backup vocals for Dua Lipa, recording in the studio with Waxahatchee, or creating her own music either with her older band Sky Larkin, or as just her last name, Harkin. In 2020, she released her first solo LP, Harkin, a punk record at heart, but one with a ton of depth to it.

On “Body Clock”, the first single from her new record Honeymoon Suite, Harkin takes on a completely different sound. Lush synth and harmonies start the song out in a big way. Drum machine lays underneath along with a little bit of guitar, which adds to the song’s ambience. The song really takes off in its second half. A building, arpeggiating synth comes in, and it is joined with a chorus of “oohs”. It’s a stunning moment that builds even more in the song’s final moments, as layered vocals overwhelm the listener before it all fades into a droning synth.

The song was written during lockdown, and Harkin found herself playing a lot of Nintendo Switch, which is captured in song’s sound as well as its 8-bit video capture that form of escapism.

Honeymoon Suite will be out June 17th on Hand Mirror

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