Ring in another week with The Matinee ’22 v. 049, which has familiar names turn over new leaves and emerging artists reinventing the past. Each of the eight featured songs as always feature outstanding songwriting.

More great tunes are available on the Songs of April playlist, which is available SoundCloud and Spotify,

Maggie Rogers – “That’s Where I Am” (Easton, Maryland, USA)

RIYL: Sharon Van Etten, Caroline Polacheck, Lizzo

Since the first time we wrote about Maggie Rogers, her rise can only be categorized as meteoric. Releasing an all-time great pop record with Heard it in A Past Life in 2019 and following it up with stellar performances, including one on Saturday Night Live, Rogers truly made a name for herself as one of pop’s brightest stars. Since that record, Rogers has  shared unreleased recordings and a trio of mixtapes to catch us all up, but it all kept us asking for the next album.

In February, Rogers announced on Instagram that her next LP, Surrender, was finally completed. Then on Friday, its first single was shared.

“That’s Where I Am” is a perfect Maggie Rogers song. There’s a celebratory mood throughout, set by the upbeat sampled vocals to start the song. An infectious rhythm of hand claps then helps the song transition into a huge sound, which includes  big, fuzzy synths; bass; and drums under Rogers’ voice. The song feels like it has a nostalgic filter on it as well, evoking ’90s folk-pop icons as she sings about love.

The music video also fits that vibe and features appearances from David Byrne and Hamilton Leithauser. The song comes to a close with a great sing-along section that occurs when all of its electronic layers are peeled back for just a moment. “That’s What I Am” is a stunner, and it has us even more excited for Rogers’ sophomore record.

“It all works out in the end
Wherever you go
That’s where I am
Even boulders turn into sand
Wherever you go
That’s where I am

You’re the only one I ever wanted
All I ever really wanted was you”

Pre-orders for Rogers’ new album, Surrender, are available at these links head of its July 29th release date.  Capitol Records has the privilege.

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ViVii – “Vegas” (Stockholm, Sweden)

RIYL: Still Corners, Amason, Beach House

ViVii‘s dream-pop can be summarized in three letters: OMG! At least that’s how we felt back in 2018 when we heard “Savant”. That introduction wasn’t the only time we were pinching ourselves, as throughout the years they’ve consistently made us gasp. We also have consistently wondered why married couple Emil and Caroline Jonsson plus Anders Eckeborn are not more popular, including within their home country of Sweden. Maybe one day they will get to stand in front of a live studio audience and have their faces shone on televisions across the world. Then like another legendary Swedish outfit, their big break arrives. We already can see the trio adorned in some ’70s glittered shirts and confidently performing “Vegas”.

We can see the reaction that would occur when the song is completed – people proclaiming that Eurovision has born Sweden’s next great band like it did nearly 50 years ago with ABBA. And it’s not difficult to understand why this would happen when listening to ViVii’s luxurious dream-pop. Touches of ’70s country-psychedelia give “Vegas” a dreamy yet desperate quality, reminiscent of some of Still Corners’ most widescreen numbers. A beautiful tenderness also emanates from the single, mostly from Emil’s and Caroline’s soothing vocals (in particular the latter’s heavenly delivery). The two sing about how one has become stoic after so much disappointment. The imagery in their lyrics is sensational.

“A little while more
Flowers will, will bloom
Once a steady hand
Now it just, a dirty room.
My the heart is stoned but the leap has grown
Got scars to show but the chance has surely flown

I feel Filthy like Vegas,
are these the lights that will fade us
I feel filthy like Vegas just turn it up

More dreaminess arrives in June, which is when ViVii’s new EP, MAViDAVILON, will be released. Dumont Dumont will distribute it.

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TOPS – “Perfected Steps” (Montreal, Quebec)

RIYL: Molly Burch, Natalie Prass, Fleetwood Mac

Many bands have looked to the past for inspiration and rightfully for so. The ’60s and ’70s were the last decades not overwhelmed by electronics, synths, etc., and the songs, therefore, felt intimate. They were truly memorable, which is why they’re called the classics and people of all ages know them. If we were actually in 1972, TOPS‘s newest single, “Perfected Steps”, might be one of those songs to which everyone sings along.

While front-person Jane Penny sings, “No one remembers that song”, midway through the track, this psych-disco-pop dazzler is unforgettable. Its cool immediacy is driven by the smooth, dangling guitars, the light grooviness of the rhythms, and Penny’s sultry voice. The star, though, is Penny’s songwriting, as she, in her own words, narrates “some right wing aging loser clinging to their glory days (with) values out of sync with reality.” She, however, does a service to him by writing a fantastic story.

“Starting up
Your Chevrolet to packed crowds
Back in the heyday
Backfires, like the bravado
You did your best to downplay
Your mistakes are sitting centre stage
Just like you made them
The American way
All of your mistakes
Are sitting centre stage
Just like you made them

With only the seasons keeping time
Who do you wanna be there by your side?
Burning up beacon, casting light
Over the empty seats night after night
Solo, a dying star
Wants to dance over again
Perfected steps were so big back then

TOPS are Jane Penny (vocals, keys), David Carriere (guitar), Riley Fleck (drums), and Marta Cikojevic (bass). The band’s new EP, Empty Seats, is out May 10th on their very own Musique TOPS label. Pre-orders available on Bandcamp.

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Spacey Jane – “It’s Been a Long Day” (Fremantle, Australia)

RIYL: Ocean Alley, Sticky Fingers, Marlin’s Dreaming

Just in time for their long-awaited and much-delayed UK tour, Aussie indie giants Spacey Jane have released a brand new song, which they’ve probably already played a few times as they scamper around Great Britain. For the rest of us, though, we either first heard “It’s Been a Long Day” on Friday or today. Regardless of when you this tune touched your ear drums, we can all agree on one thing – it represents a band at the top of their game.

While Caleb Harper (guitar, vocals), Ashton Le Cornu (guitar), Peppa Lane (bass, vocals), and Kieran Lama (drums) can lay down upbeat and cathartic indie pop-rock anthems, they are at their best when they suck people in with a heartfelt ballad. In this latter space is where we find the Western Australians, who might have written their most embracing and endearing song.

The orchestration is perfect, where every single pulse from Murray and Lama and every immersive twangy tinge from Le Cornu and Harper are felt. We can also feel every word and emotion from Harper, who wrote this song a couple of years ago as a means to cope with the end of a relationship. Instead of the usual revenge-driven tale, he takes the opportunity to share how he coped with the events while also trying to understand why it all came to an end. 

“And I’m filling up with anger, but it’s not hers to take
But I cannot hold it
My knees ache from the weight, so I cave
She takes it from my hands

And you don’t have to talk to me if you don’t want to
I won’t hold you to that
Will you hold my things while I go under?
I’m not sure I’ll be back

Pulling at the hems that hold you down and lift you away
Wake up slowly, drink your coffee
I’ve got something to say”

The single is from Spacey Jane’s forthcoming, sophomore album, Here Comes Everybody. It will be released June 10th on AWAL. Pre-order it here.

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Interpol – “Toni” (New York City, USA)

RIYL: Interpol, The National, TV On The Radio

In the twenty years since they released their breakout debut record, Turn on the Bright Lights, Interpol have become one of the defining bands of New York’s indie sound. It’s hard for a band to keep a fresh sound over two decades, but somehow over the course of six records, Interpol still keep things interesting. They achieve this despite not straying too far from their distinctive sound. It’s also been five years since their last record, Marauder, so we’ve been long overdue from hearing what Paul Banks, Daniel Kessler, and Sam Fogarino have been working on.

Their latest single, “Toni”, feels like an Interpol song at its core. Paul Banks’ unmistakable voice paints a cinematic story, evoking imagery of the Pacific highway and trying to find the right direction. The song is driven by heavy piano chords, which create a bit of a tense atmosphere. Paired with a great bass groove and Daniel Kessler’s guitar work bubbling underneath, the track just hits exactly where one would expect.

“Toni”, as well as their upcoming record The Other Side of Make-Believe, were written during isolation in 2020. For a band that’s been stable for two decades, it forced them to take a different approach to songwriting and production. If this number is any indication, the band haven’t skipped a beat.

“I’d like to see them win
I like the inspiration like its going in the right direction
That’s to me, to me, to me
I’d like to see them win
It’s my kind of aspiration like it’s flowing in the right direction
That’s to me

The Other Side of Make-Believe will be released July 15th via Matador Records. Pre-order and pre-save links are available here and directly on Bandcamp.

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Baby Strange – “Only Feel It When I’m With You” (feat. Hayley Mary) (Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland)

RIYL: The Ninth Wave, The Murder Capital, The Blinders

Those who follow the UK post-punk scene already know Baby Strange. The Scottish trio are the UK equivalent to Bambara, where they pair bleak soundscapes with impeccable, often bone-chilling stories. Their songs are not made to fall asleep to; on their contrary, they’re made to awaken the senses. To help them achieve this effect for their newest song, they have called on one of Australia’s most influential artists.

On “Only Feel It When I’m With You”, are joined by The Jezabels’ Hayley Mary, whose numbing voice perfectly complements front-man’s Johnny Madden’s commanding tone. The two describe the lingering torment that occupies their minds. The seemingly endless pandemic that led to the constant cycles of lockdowns, the vast array of misinformation, and neighbors turning into combatants weigh heavily in their words. While they sing with the fervor of a person desperately seeking to be set free, a blistering intensity bubbles in the background, driven by a superb rhythm section and supported by a ringing, gleaning electric guitar. This song is not just terrific; it’s brilliantly represents the mania that continue to govern our thoughts.

Baby Strange are: Johnny Madden, Connaire McCann, and Aidan McCann, who are signed with Icons Creating Evil Art (ICEA). Their sophomore album, World Below, will be released June 17th.

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Golden Apples – “Across the Ocean” (Philadelphia, USA)

RIYL: Allah-Lahs, Nick Waterhouse, Night Beats

There’s just something incredibly inviting about the music of Golden Apples. Their most recent record, Shadowland, was full of wonderfully diverse sounds. For the Russell Edling-led band’s next project, however, Golden Apples have recruited an all-star lineup of Philadelphia’s best players. They include: drummer Pat Conaboy (Kite Party, Sun Organ, Spirit of the Beehive), bassist Tim Jordan (Kite Party, Sun Organ, Lowercase Roses), guitarist/vocalist Mimi Gallagher (Nona, Eight, Cave People), and guitarist Matt Scheuermann (Lowercase Roses). 

Golden Apples are gearing up to release a self-titled EP, and from it they’ve shared “Across the Ocean”. This upbeat, infection number joins the ’90s rocker, “High School”, as singles from the mini-EP. Like it’s predecessor, “Across the Ocean” has a shimmering surface to it. Its acoustic guitar along with a bouncy bassline and some great drums give it a great vibe. Edling’s vocals are laid back and accompanied by some fun harmonies as well. To top it all off, there are some great guitar solos, including a dueling solo before a fantastic sing-along section. Talk about the perfect pick-up to start the week.

Pre-orders for their band’s self-titled EP are available here and on Bandcamp. It’s out April 29th via Lame-O Records.

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Horsegirl – “World of Pots and Pans” (Chicago, USA)

RIYL: Dehd, Slow Pulp, Swervedriver

If it wasn’t for a young band out in Los Angeles grabbing headlines with the release of their debut album, the teenage band that most people likely would be talking about are Horsegirl. Still in high school, Penelope Lowenstein (guitar, vocals), Gigi Reece (drums), and Nora Cheng (guitar, bass, vocals) are continuing the Windy City’s legacy of intelligent indie rock. They first made waves with the gauzy “Billy”, which they released just before US Thanksgiving. The follow-up, the post-punk-inflicted rocker “Anti-Glory”, showed that the trio’s capacity to think outside the box. For song three from their debut album, Versions of Modern Performance, they rewind the clocks to the ’90s and share a song that could have been on the soundtracks of Singles or Empire Records.

“World of Pots and Pans” is grunge-gaze reborn, and it’s terrific. Lowenstein’s and Cheng’s vocals are intentionally downtrodden and monotone, mimicking the nonchalant attitude of the decade that saw Swervedriver, Chapterhouse, and The Jesus and Mary Chain become cult heroes. The over-driven, gauzy guitars and the stammering rhythms, too, echo the last great decade of music invention. Through this wonderful reverb, the pair recite life with Emma, who “was my brand new friend”.

“While Emma eggs hеr head
She looks the same
When I’m counting away
Sometimes I’m thinking that I lost you
But I know it’s only love

When I’m counting away
Sometimes I’m thinking that I lost you
But I know it’s only love

Emma was my brand new friend
Fun to see how this one ends”

Horsegirl’s debut album, Versions of Modern Performance, will be released June 3rd on Matador Records. Pre-orders available at these links and directly on Bandcamp.

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