The Matinee ’22 v. 059 is an eclectic affair, featuring everything from the dreamy, the Gothic, the intimate, the cinematic, and the indescribable. In other words, these nine songs are amazing.
Primer – “Anything” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Nite Jewel, Chromatics, Nation of Language
In mid-April, Alyssa Midcalf’s sophomore album as Primer flew under the radar in many parts, including here. If Nation of Language brought new, vibrant life to ’80s synth-pop and new wave, Incubator took it to dizzying heights. The LP is a dazzler, and we hope one day that Midcalf will get to open for NoL, as this combination would result in a mind-blowing night of music. In the meantime, the best we can do is just spin Incubator and imagine the possibilities. We can also re-live our youths and all the great coming-of-age movies thanks to songs like “Anything”.
The album’s centerpiece is intoxicating. Midcalf’s instrumentation is deftly executed with every element complementing the other yet still standing out. The expertly-delivered production ensures that Midcalf’s smokey vocal stands above the percolating beats, the hallow keys, and the swelling synths. As such, we become immersed in her stunning voice and introspective yet relatable lyrics. Like the themes of St. Elmo’s Fire, Pretty in Pink, and all the iconic films of nearly forty years ago, we get taken back to a time when we would sacrifice everything to be with that one person. To be able to take everything back and correct our mistakes.
“I would give it up if I needed to, needed to
I would give anything for you”
GHUM – “Deceiver” (London, England)
RIYL: Savages, Eagulls, L.A. Witch
By now, everyone realizes that post-punk will not fade to the shadows like it did for the first 15 years of this decade. Furthermore, its renaissance shows no signs of letting up with the arrival of dozens of outstanding bands over the past seven years. Among this group are GHUM. While Laura Guerrero Lora (vocals), Marina MJ (bass), Jojo Khor (guitar), and Vicki Ann (drums) have been around for six years, they’re finally emerging from the shadows and just in time, too. With their stark, Gothic take on post-punk, they are helping to fill the void left by Savages, who have been on hiatus since 2017. Like the English legends, GHUM are masters of sending listeners into the cavernous dungeons, as they did with the feverish “Some People”. They repeat the feat with the more harrowing “Deceiver”.
Like the greatest Gothic post-punk numbers, this song makes your eyes widen and have you stare aimlessly into the distance. The ringing, grizzled guitar and the throbbing rhythms, highlighted by Ann’s restrained propulsion, induce paralysis. This suspension is heightened when Lora’s emotive vocal emerges. A quiet fury percolates underneath every word. She is seeking revenge and redemption from someone who tore her apart. As forceful her voice is, her lyrics are the weapons that exact the greatest wounds.
“Your ego only feeds in love
My kindness used to feed the wolves
You chew your breakfast while you talk
I was alright before you called
I want to let you go, so go!
Your lies don’t sink in me, they float
I note your tells word by word
I hear just what I heard before
Be mean, you deceiver
Dig deep in your flaws
Make big, a big mountain
To bury us all”
Marlon Williams – “My Boy” (Lyttleton, New Zealand)
RIYL: Dave Dobbin, Kevin Morby, Aldous Harding
Four years have passed since Marlon Williams released his excellent album, Make Way For Love. Like everyone else, the pandemic reeked havoc on the New Zealander’s many plans – from touring to recording to producing, etc. At the same time, the artist who has been compared with Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison used the break to reflect and return to his roots. He basically was freed of any and all expectations, and the results of this newfound liberation is “My Boy”.
We seldomly copy and paste material, but in this case Williams’ words must be read to understand how this little summer folk ditty emerged.
“‘My Boy’ is a ‘pop’ song with a Māori ‘folk’ strum. Or it’s a ‘folk’ song with a ‘pop’ hook? The urge to turn every song on the planet into a Māori strummer descended on me like a fever sometime during the long and winding tour cycle of Make Way for Love. So writing it into my artistic life became the only way to get the fever to lift… Some simple songs will try to tempt and lure you into over-complication; this one showed no such insecurities. For the first time in my writing life, it didn’t even demand lyrics in the chorus. It laid itself out, buoyed by its own sailing rhythm and lightness of phrase…”
You can feel Williams’ liberation in his lyrics and his new outlook on life:
“He leads me with a ready hand
Nothing can touch my boy
And he would never leave me
But if he did this sorry world would start to grieve me
Ah, he walks with the atua
Nothing can touch my boy”
By the way, “atua” means spirit or god.
Porridge Radio – “End of Last Year” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Girlpool, Dilly Dally, Let’s Eat Grandma
It would not be fair to say that what we’re witnessing with Porridge Radio is equivalent to night and day. Although their 2020 album, Every Bad, was truly devastating and intense (and one of the great albums of the 21st Century) and their most recent singles, “Back to the Radio” and “The Rip” from Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky, have been more illuminating, the English quartet is naturally evolving. Sure, the sonic fireworks have been replaced with more delicate tones, but their trademark intensity remains. It’s just more nuanced, whether in the quivering vocal of front-person Dana Margolin or the piercing lyrics. Porridge Radio display these traits on the tender ballad “End of Last Year”.
A mournful mellotron welcomes us into the band’s next chapter, and it hovers on top the patient keys and percussion. Then Margolin’s voice arrives along with bassist Maddie Ryall. Their harmonies are soft, beautiful, and endearing, and they sing about not “wanting to go back” to a time where pain instead of love governed a relationship. Margolin asks at the start, “Do you remember when we all fell apart?” The pair then describe how they became broken.
“Cut off my shoes instead of taking them off
Cut off my hands because they’re itching so much
Talk to myself because I’m getting so blue
Do you know?
You break everything you touch”
Break us will Dana Margolin (vocals, guitar), Maddie Ryall (bass), Georgie Stott (keys), and Sam Yardley’s (drums) on May 27th when their LP arrives. Pre-orders / pre-saves for Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky are available here and on Bandcamp. Secretly Canadian has the honors.
DYLYN – “Bring on the Blues” (Vancouver/Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Hayley Williams, Jaguar Jonze, Billie Eilish (007 era)
If the filmmakers and producers behind the 007 franchise opted to take a chance on an indie artist to write the theme songs, they might end up with a much better product (although Billie Eilish’s “No Time To Die” was quite good). For instance, they might get a song like “Bring on the Blues” from DYLYN.
Known for her powerful voice and cinematic soundscapes, the Vancouver singer-songwriter’s music is tailor-made for the big screen. It is made to be experienced in the biggest venues and mediums where a capacity audience could be mesmerized. This includes movie’s biggest stars, who we imagine would be awe-struck while sitting in the plush seats of LA’s Dolby Theatre hearing DYLYN’s newest single. The gritty, grimy guitar, the soaring strings, and the slow-burn of the rhythms give the track its espionage mystique. DYLYN, meanwhile, narrates a tale exactly out of a Bond film, where the famed spy is ready for his final moment.
“Did you ever think about the way it feels?
Did you ever try to find out what is real?
I don’t really care if I lose control
I want to feel the highs and the lows
Life is just a never-ending soul
And I’m going to play it until I’m all gone”
Cola – “Degree” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Ought, Protomartyr, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Some of the greatest songs cleverly document the events of the day and become part of the era’s soundtrack. Over these two-plus years, many artists and bands have attempted to capture the pandemic blur of the past two-plus years. There have been some outstanding ones, and “Degree” is one of them.
The latest single from Cola, which includes former Ought members Tim Darcy and Ben Stidworthy plus Evan Cartwright of US Girls, is another witty, catchy number. Like previous releases “Blank Curtain”, “So Excited”, and “Water Table”, a jittery yet groovy art-rock spiral through the track with the angular guitar and dangling rhythms. The resulting sonic whirlwind induces quick bops, constant head noodling, and even a bit of hip shaking. Beyond the sweet grooves lies a humorous story grounded in reality.
“Have you been to the movies lately? / Did you read the marquee?”, Darcy asks right at the beginning, describing his first foray out in public after months inside. It takes some time for the fog to lift from his mind and feel comfortable. What was normal is an adventure.
“Took an hour of action to relieve my bleary eyes
I did meditations and they brought me back inside
Brutal whimsy, is there anything beyond it?
Me, I think I left that ticket in laundry”
Wallice – “Funeral” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Cherry Glazer, Charly Bliss, Colleen Green
Wallice Hana Watanabe may be destined to be the next big pop star. Just listen to her latest singles, “Little League” and “90s American Superstar” if you need any proof. Her observational lyrics channel anxieties of Gen Z and late Millennials in a way that is fun and immensely creative. Combined with the DIY and indie-pop sound she’s cultivated, its only a matter of time before she truly takes off.
On “Funeral”, Wallice once again channels that trademark wit into a dark subject. Wallice describes the single as “a spin on the usual emotions and celebrations (or lack thereof) at a funeral – shifting the view to make it more like a concert”. From singing of pre-gaming to having a casket in a muscle car, Wallice paints a pretty fun picture of her own funeral. The music is joyous, too, from its booming choruses featuring Wallice’s powerful voice, distorted bass and singalong harmonies, to a ripping guitar solo capping it all off. “Funeral” is a perfect example of why Wallice is poised for a big breakout, and with 90s American Superstar right around the corner, it’s just a matter of time.
“I met the reaper and all her friends
On the old road outside Magic Mountain
Can’t stand the way she talks so much
You’d have to kill me to get on her party bus
I’ve been thinking about death
How I want my friends to dress
Think I want an open bar
Casket in a muscle car”
90s American Superstar is out this Friday, May 6th via Dirty Hit.
Florist – “Spring in Hours” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Gabby’s World, Todd Slant, Snail Mail
The music of Emily Sprague has a warmth that keeps us immersed in each Florist record. Whether it’s the gorgeous full-band sounds of If Blue Could Be Happiness, the solo Emily Alone, or even her experimental electronic releases, Sprague is one of the finest song crafters out there. Last month, Florist announced a new, self-titled record and shared its first single, “Red Bird Part 2 (Morning)”.
The latest single from Florist is “Spring in Hours”. In typical Florist style, it’s absolutely stunning. Lightly played drums, wonderfully finger-plucked guitar, and a perfectly warm electronic piano lay the foundation for Sprague’s vocals. Crickets chirp in the background as Sprague sings about the cyclical changes of life and nature. A gorgeous saxophone solo comes in about halfway and adds even more to the song’s atmosphere. As the song builds up one final time, all of the instrument (crickets included) create something truly magical.
ISADOR – “They Don’t Care” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Perfume Genius + Sam Fender + The Lemon Twigs
Today’s music selection ends on a high – or more specifically, on a euphoric note. And it is delivered by a young artist who has been around for nearly five years but has only intermittently shared music because they have dedicated their time to advancing social and labor rights while working with unions. More songs like “They Don’t Care”, however, might see Isador dedicating more time to music because demand will rise for their feelgood euphoria.
The project of Warren Heller (they / them), Isador delivers a nearly five-minute circus, and we say this with all do respect. It is full of wonder and amazement, as the song shifts multiple times. Like at a circus, everywhere one turns, there is something new and fresh to excite us. The soft, emotive piano is the tent in which a performer hypnotizes their audience. In another tent, jugglers, ventriloquists, and an array perform tricks, leaving us to ooh and aah much like the song’s middle section. Finally, acrobats display their physical attributes, and Heller, likewise, demonstrates their dexterity as the reaches its scream-worthy apex.
Heller’s message concerns a circus of a different sort – the workplace. They encourage the proletariat to know and stand up for their rights and realize they are the cogs that make the machine operate.
“Tear it down
Will you please
Come with me
tip the shear the force of all the peoples’ rights
If we fight
Then we might
Then we might
No more borders
No more fear
burn the bootstraps
And all their smears
Unionize your fucking workplace
Gimme a light to get out of this dark place”
Here’s hoping a great future awaits this talented artist.
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