The Matinee ’22 v. 045 provides a shot of adrenaline at the start before easing into more contemplative fare. These eight songs reflect how great music with poignant stories can be found in all genres. 

As always, these songs are included on the Songs of April playlist. Find it on SoundCloud and Spotify.

 

Foals – “Looking High” (Oxford, England)

RIYL: Foals, Everything Everything, The Drums

Since their arrival in 2005, Foals can be trusted to do one thing: create music that is meant to be heard loud. Their songs to date mostly have revolved around explosive, anthemic rock that is made for wake-up calls, Wembley-sized stadiums, and dancing. For the next chapter in their storied careers, they show no signs of slowing down. On the contrary, they’ve appeared to have found the fountain of youth if the first singles from the trio’s forthcoming new album, Life Is Yours, are any indication. 

“Wake Me Up” was a funk-instilled mind-bender while “2am” resembled an early-morning adrenaline rush. Whereas most outfits’ third single would be mellower, Yannis Philippakis, Jack Bevan, and Jimmy Smith forego such thoughts. They instead have one thing in mind – to wake us up again with “Looking High”.

Get off your keisters in order to fully absorb this boisterous and cathartic number. While we delight in Philippakis’ and Smith’s surging and tingling guitars, the Devo-like keys, and Bevan’s feverish drumming, Foals historians will note how the track is a reflection of the band’s multi-genre beginnings. Math-rock twangs and neo-psychedelic vibes emanate through the guitars while funk grooves pop in the rhythms. This track, however, sounds anything but nostalgic. It is instead another example of how Foals are ahead of their times, formulating a song that crosses several musical realms and ages to create something fresh. In many ways, this song is the band embracing their past – well, as Yannis says, it’s more about a hedonistic time in his life and he’s fortunate to be around today.

I hope that I see a life returning
The leaves on the trees
And the wind blowing
I hope that I’ll be there
When life’s returning
The new kids coming in.”

Life is Yours will be released June 17th via ADA/Warner UK Ltd. Pre-orders available on the band’s online store.

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Have You Ever Seen the Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS? – “Pool” (Kouvola, Finland)

RIYL: Hinds, Twin Peaks, Francobollo

Many bands have great names, but the music often does not matches their creativity. Finnish trio Have You Ever Seen the Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS? don’t suffer from that problem. Thank goodness because it would be a shame to be known as the outfit with the best name on the planet yet under deliver. For as long as we’ve covered them (since August 2015), they have consistently astounded us with their musical and lyrical bravado. Their music is off-the-wall amusing while their stories are often, let’s just say, unique and even a bit nonsensical. These qualities, however, are why we adore Susse Stemma-Sihvola (vocals, bass), Ekku Lintunen (vocals, guitar), and Janne-Petteri Pitkälä (drums) because they’re having a good time. They also want us to have a lot of fun, and they make us smile and go berserk with “Pool”.

The title says it all – this song is made for the forthcoming summer parties. It is an amusing and boisterous pop-rock ear-worm that will stay embedded in your mind for hours if not days. We dare you to spin this in the office or out loud for your neighbors to hear and see what happens. The most likely outcome is that a little party will commence with people bopping around, widely grinning, and maybe even doing a few hand claps in time with the electric drums. Then they might be shouting along with Stemma-Sihvola and Lintunen, as they sing: 

“I will make you mine
I won’t take a dime
And off you go
Leave me with your go-go boys”

We’re not exactly sure what the lyrics mean, but who cares because this tune is meant to bring people together (and maybe that’s what these lyrics mean).

The trio’s new album, Main Coon, will be released June 3rd on  VILD Records.

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The Smile – “Pana-Vision” (Oxford, England)

RIYL: Radiohead

So far, Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, and Tom Skinner have done anything but make fans smile to the music of The Smile. This is not to say that the songs to date have been disappointing. On the contrary, “You Will Never Work In Television Again”, “The Smoke”, and “Skrting On The Surface” have been amazing. They’re just more contemplative in tone and made to be heard with no distractions. Just like Radiohead’s music, listeners cannot allow their minds wander if they are to truly appreciate and experience The Smile’s multi-sonic dimensions. This is particularly the case for “Pana-Vision”.

Pensive and like a hallucination, “Pana-Vision” commences with a dark, mysterious tone as Yorke’s falsetto hovers over a morbid piano arrangement. It then turns into a jazz-like soirée, as a light bass and Skinner’s lithe percussion enter the fray. Shortly thereafter, a small orchestra is heard, adding yet another layer to this hypnotic tune that questions reality and fate. Yorke’s songwriting is once again superb, as he tries to make sense of what he sees before, within, and around him. While he wrote this song a few years ago, his words are omniscient. 

“My eyes are open wide
And then I see you
Without your robes on
Without your crown

And I don’t want to hate you
I don’t want to bear
The kind of fascination
That gets in my way”

The date and title of The Smile’s debut album have yet to be announced. The only thing anyone knows is that XL Recordings will release the LP when the band is ready to share it.

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Noah Slee – “Golden” (feat. Joy Denalane) (Berlin, Germany via Auckland, New Zealand)

RIYL: D’Angelo, Eric Benet, Usher

Even though Noah Slee has transplanted to Berlin from Auckland, he still has Aotearoa strongly in his soul. While he has the talent to be a major R&B and soul singer if he followed the industry’s formulae, he has instead chosen to his use art to communicate. He has chosen to follow the paths of Aldous Harding, Marlon Williams, Ria Hall, and others and, thus, truly embody the term, singer-songwriter. His style, too, is very much old-school, where he resurrects the ’90s with “Golden”.

Like the music of D’Angelo, Babyface, and Usher, the tune is cool, intimate, and immersive. The tingling, crystalline guitar line hovers over top the terrific pulse of the bass line and the awesome, jazzy percussion. Slee’s voice, meanwhile, shines, as he reflects back on his past and the traumas that have come to define him.

“Take me back to my childhood
We’re all an extension of those memories
No doubt I will hold every moment
Confront or bury we growing in these moments
Seems to be a void at times

A continuous effort to extract our lives
I wish it could be more straightforward
Sometimes it ain’t what you expect or what you ordered So let me break it down one time
We gotta live with the repercussions sometimes
I’m done with waiting in line and I’m telling YOU to go ahead and live that life”

German star Joy Denalane adds another element of calm and coolness, providing the perfect balance to Slee’s emotive delivery. Her lines are like those of a mother or a sister, who tries to explain what and why the events have happened. This is part of Slee’s genius – telling stories from different perspectives and realizing there are two sides to every tale.

“Golden” is taken from Slee’s forthcoming new album, It Takes a Village, arrives April 29th.

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Alfie Templeman – “Leaving Today” (Bedfordshire, England)

RIYL: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, POND, Connan Mockasin

Alfie Templeman is unlike most rising pop stars. Sure his music is upbeat and catchy, but it also has a tremendous amount of depth. The Bedfordshire native does not follow the usual cookie cutter approaches. Instead, he spans genres, whether it is neo-psychedelia or Foals-like anthemic Brit-rock. In addition, he’s not solely singing about the usual themes – love, heartbreak, infatuation, being dissed by people. Actually, he seldom touches on these themes, but he focuses on stories about growing up, societal ills, and adventures to come. We find the 19-year soon-to-be superstar once again going beyond the tried-and-true with “Leaving Today”.

With the ’70s-infused psychedelic-pop delirium of Unknown Mortal Orchestra spinning in the background, this groovy and dizzying tune is made for disco clubs and road trips alike. It’s simply a song to get lost in. Templeman’s tale, however, is one of excitement and trepidation. There is elation in knowing that we can travel again and reunite with people – or in Templeman’s situation, the ability to tour again and reconnect with fans. Anxiety and uncertainty, however, also accompany his joy because what awaits is unknown and he has found harmony at home. 

“Everything I used to be is fading
Far away into that distant time
Now that I forgive myself for changing
I can learn to find some peace of mind
Find some peace of mind

Just sit back with the sun on my face
‘Cause I can’t give my whole life away
And you’re tearing my heart when you say
That you’re leaving today (You’re leaving)”

Templeman’s new album, Mellow Moon, will be released May 27th on Chess Club Records. Pre-orders available at Templeman’s online store and on Bandcamp

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Carmody – “Hurricane” (London, England)

RIYL: Ghostly Kisses, Dahlia Sleeps, Bryde

Those immersed into the UK music scene will know the name Carmody, who has often worked with Tom and Laura Misch. As a solo artist, however, she gets to truly shine, as the London-based multi-instrumentalist can reveal all sides to her craft – that as a creative composer and producer, the raw intimacy of her songwriting, and her exquisite, ghostly voice. Although Carmody has built a solid fan base, her popularity could and should skyrocket when her debut album, Imperfect Constellations, is unveiled later this spring. For those unfamiliar with her music, she presents “Hurricane”.

A lovely, tranquil guitar line opens the track, creating the pensive yet immensely intimate setting. Carmody’s stunning vocal, though, immediately hits hard. “Do you dream in colour anymore? Sometimes I wonder if you dream at all”, she asks a loved one, which may be a parent, sibling, friend, or partner. Soft, stuttering beats, calm but rapturous strings, and a humbling bass then emerge, adding a widescreen effect. The song, however, never loses its intimacy nor desperation, and Carmody’s words become even more poignant.

“How I’ve tried to see a little love in your eyes
but the years keep taking
how I’ve tried to raise a little joy in these times
but the years keep breaking
how I want to see a little peace
I thought you could find”

Imperfect Constellations will be released July 6th via Young Poet Records. This could be the start of a wonderful career.

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LUCKY LO – “Receiving/Giving” (Copenhagen, Denmark via Umeå, Sweden)

RIYL: Aldous Harding, Christine and the Queens, Cassandra Jenkins

One of the year’s early great albums is Supercarry from Danish outfit Lucky Lo. It is a wide-ranging compilation that includes lush, gentle tunes, energizing dance numbers, and gorgeous ballads. Among the LP’s standout songs include “Sunrise/Sunset”, “Mary Mind”, and “Ever!”. Even its ultimate track track, “Receiving/Giving” can standalone as a single because it is another stunner.

Most albums end with a mellow tune that is meant to leave listeners in a relaxed and serene mood. Lucky Lo, though, use Supercarry‘s last song to share one final message. A touch of sultry jazz, noted in the plucky bass line, is infused to this emotive pop-rock tune. It sounds like something that Aldous Harding would create – endearing, engaging, creative, and awe-inspiring. Similarly, the star is Lo Ersare and her smoky vocal. She reminds us that we are all part of the same team in this grand game called life. She reminds us to live each day to its fullest while obliging by the Golden Rule. Such a message is one we need to hear each day in order to avoid tearing each other apart.

“So won’t you tell me how you fear and love?
Beg for serendipity, beg for sucker-punch
One of these days we all must come undone
We beg for serendipity, beg for sucker-punch

Through the giving and receiving
We are living until we’re dead

Through the gardens and the cities
Go on living until we’re dead”

Lucky Lo includes: Lo Ersare (vocals, keys, banjo), Asger Nordtorp Pedersen (bass), Mads Nørgaard (guitars), Anja Backmann (backing vocals), and Casper Henning Hansen (drums). Supercarry is available everywhere, including Bandcamp, via Tambourhinoceros

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Mama’s Broke – “Narrow Line” (Nova Scotia, Canada)

RIYL: The Highwaywomen, Gillian Welch, The Ballroom Thieves

Mama’s Broke have a story that Newport Folk Festival would love. For that matter, their story is right out of a folk music’s long history. Traversing North America and Europe for inspiration, fine-tuning their craft, and then finding a kindred spirit, folk-roots duo Lisa Maria’s and Amy Lou Keeler’s experiences are no different than those of John Prine, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan. But instead of landing in Chicago, Laurel Canyon, and New York City, they ended up in the gentle hills of Nova Scotia. Like these legends, their path will eventually see them play at the legendary Festival one day. When they do, they will leave the audience silence in captivation thanks to songs like “Narrow Line”

The pair’s latest single is classic Appalachian folk, and it is superb. There are no bells or whistles; just the strumming of an acoustic guitar and a banjo and Maria’s and Keeler’s gorgeous harmonies. While the approach is very tranquil and intimate, the song possesses an underlying darkness and urgency. It’s almost a plea for help, as they recount how all the monsters and devils they’ve encountered almost broke them. 

“We can’t hold it all
Our hands are just too small
Best we can do is break up time
And keep it all on the narrow line”

Lisa and Amy have a very special thing going on. Someone ring up Newport Folk Festival and get them on this summer’s lineup.

The duo’s sophomore album, Narrow Line, arrives May 13th via Free Dirt Records. Pre-orders available at these links and on Bandcamp.

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