Two incredible voices – one that many will recognize immediately and the other you will never forget after today – bookend The Matinee ’22 v. 054 edition. In between are more unforgettable vocalists and remarkable songwriters, making this playlist one to remember.

As usual, these nine singles are included in the Songs of April playlist, which can be found on SoundCloud and Spotify

 

Neko Case – “Oh, Shadowless” (Seattle, USA)

RIYL: Neko Case

For nearly three decades, Neko Case has left music fans in an absolute gaze. She has one of the great voices in history with her mesmerizing contralto that sounds as stunning today as it did back in 1997 when The Virginian was released. Case is a living legend, and it is appropriate that her immeasurable contributions to music are celebrated on a career-spanning compilation. Last Friday, Wild Creatures was released, and it features 22 songs from her seven studio albums. The LP also includes a 23rd song, which is the lone new single and the first from Case since 2018’s Hell On.

“Oh, Shadowless” is what we’ve come to expect from Case. Her gorgeous voice is front and center despite its restrained delivery. Supporting her is an alt-country arrangement that sounds like it emerged from the recordings of Fox Confessor Brings the Flood or Middle Cyclone. It starts with a dreamy, windswept tone, but then out-of-the-blue it becomes turbulent and chaotic. The transition represents the turmoil that exists within the mind of a person waiting for the end of day. “Oh, Shadowless / Let’s get this done / Sandman is a coming / But he’s taking too long”, she shares at the start and the very end. While many of Case’s songs often have hidden meanings, hopefully this track isn’t her way of telling us that she is retiring. The world would be a much emptier place without Case to share lessons and offer us escapism.

Wild Creatures is available only in digital format via Anti Records. Stream or purchase it at these links or directly on Bandcamp.

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Lykke Li – “Highway to Your Heart” (Ystad, Sweden)

RIYL: Lykke Li

Lykke Li has never been shy about writing “love songs”. Granted, they’re not the usual sappy, mainstream affairs, and many of her past material explored the psychological impact of falling in love and losing it. As her fifth album approaches, she is ready to turn the page. Well, eventually, but not just right now. As she told VOGUE in a recent interview, EYEEYE is the closing chapter of the themes she’s covered since she first broke out more than a dozen years ago. The Swedish artist, however, desires to make the experience cathartic while maintaining the poetic grace of her songwriting. The immensely intimate “No Hotel Room” revealed how Li can make a familiar theme more brittle, immersive, and jarring. For the LP’s second single, she elicits different feelings without sacrificing the immediacy of her craft.

Take a deep breath because “Highway to Your Heart” is stunning. It is a cathartic dream that gradually builds as keys, synths, beats, a Spanish guitar, and ambient noise rise together into a wonderful tsunami of noise. Riding this wave is Li’s delicate and enchanting voice, who reminisces about whether a love will endure even when hearts are broken. Her words, of course, are moving, particularly when she sings:

“And it hurts your heart’s not ready
Wanna know, wanna know
Will our love always stay freewheeling?
No no no, no, no, no

Night falls and it, it rains and I wake up alone
Get high, but it won’t last, I’m still alone”

EYEYE arrives on May 20th via PIAS and Crush Music. Pre-orders and pre-saves available at these links and Li’s online store.

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Rosie Carney – “break the ground” (London via Hampshire, England)

RIYL: Fenne Lily, Lucy Rose, Suki Waterhouse

It seems Rosie Carney has been around for ages, but she’s just 25. This speaks to her talent – from her delicate, angelic vocal to her soul-revealing stories. As such, her songs tend to leave permanent scars on the people it touches. Even when she surprises and goes quite shoegazey, as she did with “dad”, her two primary traits remain. For her newest single, she returns to her dream-folk roots and, in the process, further validates why many people, including ourselves, are bullish about her long-term potential.

“break the ground” is another gorgeous song from the London-based artist. A gauzy guitar tickles in the background, offering support to lingering guitar and the heavenly ambience that ring in the foreground. Carney’s embracing voice stands in the midst of the soothing melody. However, instead of offering a similarly enchanting story, she reveals how her world is slowly collapsing as she deals with multiple challenges and disappointment. Other than one line, most of her lyrics possess an abstract quality to allow listeners to draw their own conclusions.

“When comets collide
I will catch the sky from the balcony
When all that’s inside is the
Little parts that I couldn’t see

My scared-sleeper
Dream-keeper
I’m not blind, but I couldn’t see
You heart-breaker
Earth-quaker
Break the ground that is under me”

The single is taken from Carney’s sophomore album, i wanna feel happy. It will be released May 27th on Color Study.

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Beverly Kills – “The Getaway” (Gothenburg, Sweden)

RIYL: Desperate Journalist, Nelson Can, Asylum Party

For four years, a little band from the great city of Gothenburg has haunted our minds. They are Beverly Kills, whose mix of post-punk, coldwave, and dark-pop had us recalling the days of 1983 Berlin. If we were actually living in the early ’80s, we have little doubt that the quartet would be known as the Blondie of Europe. For that matter, Alma Westerlund, Viggo Mattsson, John Jonsén, and Hampus Höggren are exactly that, just in 2022 terms. To prove they are deserving of this comparison, their debut album, Kaleido, will be released in the fall on Welfare Sounds & Records. Offering a teaser of what is to come, Beverly Kills share “The Getaway”.

If coldwave makes a comeback, this might be the tune that does it. It’s wonderfully stark and Gothic while also being dizzying and mesmerizing, making it ideal for the secretive dance floors that occupy the dungeons of every major European city. The instrumentation is superb with the dabbling guitar, the patiently-delivered percussion, and the gloomy synths that hum in the background. Westerlund’s stirring voice, meanwhile, provides the perfect contrast to the song’s brooding tone. She sings about a friend who lives on the edge and how she aspires to similarly be set free.

“My friend says the smartest things
I can call her whenever
She picks up the phone when it rings my friend says the smartest things
Her eternal words makes me want to try my wings”

We cannot wait to watch this young band spread their wings and become darlings of Europe’s indie world.

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VERO – “Heather” (Stockholm, Sweden)

RIYL: Warpaint, Elastica, Veruca Salt

Speaking about young Swedish bands that have grabbed our attention in recent years, VERO have won us over with their grunge-pop. Julia Boman (vocals), Amanda Eddestål (bass), and Clara Gyökeres (guitar) also should have been born at another time and making music in the ’90s because they likely would have toured with Elastica, Veruca Salt, Hole, Garbage, and The Smashing Pumpkins. Or maybe those legendary groups would have opened for them. Oh, to dream what could have been. We can also dream that maybe a band like Warpaint will invite them to be the opening band because songs like “Heather” would set the tone and mood for the night’s events.

VERO’s newest song personifies what makes them a group to watch. “Heather” is gritty and grimy, yet it is also suspenseful and seductive. Rarely does a song elicit three or four emotions, but the Stockholm-based trio have been doing this for most of their young career. The song is, well, very Warpaint, and like that great band every element shines. The superb bass line and urgent drumming add the suspense, the glistening and growling guitar provides the grit, and Boman’s voice is sultry and enticing. Her tale combines all of these traits, and if you listen carefully it sounds like the plot for a Killing Eve episode.

“Black and blue
You throw me to the gutter
Curse my name
I′m your bird
Your daughter
You’re a fool to
Let me play your lover
I′m good to you, I
Want you like no other”

VERO’s debut album, Unsoothing, will be released May 6th via PNKSLM Recordings.

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Warpaint – “Hips” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Poliça, Lower Dens, Gayngs

After releasing the intimate trip-hop number “Champion” and the sensual slow dance, “Stevie”, we wondered how far down the dark, hypnotic rabbit hole Warpaint will traverse. Would they eventually return to their upbeat, pop-rock origins or even rock out again? Or would the super-indie band continue to explore new realms to further demonstrate that their talents are limitless? While we will have to wait until Radiate Like This is released in a couple of weeks to draw any conclusions, “Hips” offers some clues.

Warpaint’s latest single is simply hypnotic and intoxicating. Its dark, stark trip-hop approach reveals a band willing to dig deeper into new territory in order to entrance. While the instrumentation is stellar with the rhythm section of Jenny Lee Lindberg and Stella Mozgawa leading the way, the looping vocals of all four members create the delirium. It feels like we’ve entered the Temple of the Faceless God (a Game of Thrones reference), where everywhere we look we see faces that are familiar yet not. The storyline is similarly a mix of fantasy and religion, making it very pertinent to today’s times.

“Mmm, she’s a little messiah
Jewel in the crown
Walking on water
Cruising through fire

It’s shady weather
There’s fear in the house
Gotta come up on the pressure
Gotta, gotta get up to get out”

Awesome.

Pre-orders for Radiate Like This are available at these links. Virgin Music and Universal Music Group will release it on May 6th. Warpaint are: Emily Kokal (vocal, guitar), Theresa Wayman (vocal, guitar), Jenny Lee Lindberg (bass, vocal), and Stella Mozgawa’s (drums, vocal).

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Colatura – “R U Content” (New York City, USA)

RIYL: My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, Swervedriver

Jennica (vocals, bass, synth) and Digo Best (guitar, vocals), Meredith Lampe (vocals, guitar, synth), and Alex Kirkpatrick (drums) – a.k.a. Colatura – released their debut album, And Then I’ll Be Happy, on Friday. It’s an expansive album of ’90s and early ’00s indie goodness. Come to think about it, the LP could be considered an encyclopedia of indie’s last golden era. Songs like “We Run on Empty”, “Scars”, and “Kids Like Us” revealed the quartet’s multi-genre, multi-era approach. For good measure to show their chameleon-like nature, they delve into the cinematic shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins on “R U Content”.

The single is unabashedly retro, yet it feels incredibly fresh and unlike most shoegaze songs today. A major reason is that the band does not go full throttle with the gauzy guitars, but instead allow them to fully illuminate only during the climax. In between, they use subtlety to create the dazzling and urgent effects. The dual vocals of Jennica and Digo further heighten the song’s dreaminess and desperation. When the transition hits with the two singing together and Lampe’s synth enters the gray, the moment is jaw-dropping awesome. And at that time, we all start to sing with Colatura asking:

“Are you content?
Or are you just content?
There’s no way of knowing
What are we doing?”

And Then I’ll Be Happy is available on Bandcamp. Go get it and support this great little band from NYC.

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Friendship – “Ugly Little Victory” (Philadelphia, USA)

RIYL: The Tragically Hip, David Bazan, Dan Mangan

May will soon be upon us, which means road trips and long vacations are just around the corner. It means that the opportunity to reconnect with people we have not seen for weeks, months, or even years are coming. To help us pass the days while rekindling memories we thought we had forgotten, Friendship provide the perfect song with “Ugly Little Victory”.

The Philadelphia veterans’ newest single is incredibly warm and moving. It echoes of the immersive, folksy indie-rock of the early ’00s, where each tinge of the guitar and bass made you smile while the jittery percussion had you shaking your head from side-to-side. All the while, we get lost in the words sung from the lead singer. In this case, our attention turns to Dan Wriggins, who channels the late Gord Downie and writes a tale that will strike the heart strings of everyone who invests 207 seconds with this song. He shares memories of his past and how a relationship blossomed and then came to an end.

“I need solitude
I also need you
It sucks when it ends
And it suck when it has no end
What an irritating mystery”

Friendship are: Dan Wriggins (vocals, guitar), Peter Gill (guitar, pedal steel), Jon Samuels (bass), and Mike Cormier-O’Leary (drums, vibraphone). “Ugly Little Victory” is their debut single with Merge Records.

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Sirene – “Here You Are” (London via Leeds, England)

RIYL: ANOHNI, Joan As a Policewoman, deryk

Some name changes work and other do not. The key is to find a pseudonym that either encapsulates what the artist seeks to achieve or describes her craft. For Clare Kelly, her life as Sirene does both. With one of the most striking vocals one will ever hear and an emotional power in her songs, the English artist is genuinely a modern-day siren. But instead of trying to seduce us, she attempts to communicate moving stories with powerful messages. For instance, on “Walk Alone”, our jaws dropped not only due to the stunning arrangement and Kelly’s voice but also for her revealing how her youth was stolen from her. She once again makes us go silent with “Here You Are”.

If we had a radio show, we would genuinely just introduce the song and say, “Please just listen because ‘Here You Are’ speaks for itself.” Kelly’s amazing voice is once again the star, commencing pensively before rising at the climax. Supporting her is a quiet guitar, a diligent piano, and light electronic pulses. The mournful melody provides the perfect canvas for Kelly’s story about faith. Whether that is faith in a religious sense or just in another person, including herself, is unknown. All that matters, however, is finding someone or something to believe in so that we can get through difficult moments like Kelly revealed on “Walk Alone”.

“You’re standing right in front of me
Saying everything I want to hear
I so badly want to believe in you
Sitting straight across from me
Saying everything I want to hear
I need to believe in you

‘Cause here you are
Here you are”

Just another absolute stunner for an artist that will be on at least one of our year-end lists.

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