The Matinee ’22 v. 060 starts off like a breath of fresh air with a very tranquil and intimate number, but after that the party gets going with seven energizing numbers. Many familiar names occupy the mini-playlist plus one new name that we think you will not forget.
Flower Face – “October Birds” (Ontario, Canada)
RIYL: Clairo, beabadoobee, Holly Humberstone
When we first heard the music of Ruby McKinnon and her project Flower Face back in 2018, we were blown away. Her lyricism, in particular, was front and center, and it made Baby Teeth a standout LP. In January of this year, she augmented her songwriting with an awe-inspiring dream-pop approach on “Sugar Water”.
One thing that struck us about Flower Face’s music was how vulnerable McKinnon was willing to be, and it was echoed in the sparse sounds and the honesty of her lyrics. On her latest single “October Birds”, all of that is on full display. Finger-picked acoustic guitar accompanied by a floaty harmony, the listener is hooked on every word. Each line seems to flow out of McKinnon, stopping only for a little guitar break here and there.
Call me lucky and spoiled, I’m selfish and awful
I wake and I want more, I go to sleep needing you
Over and over, I take what you give me
No man is an island, I’m the girl on your shoreline
Washed up and heaving, pathetically breathing
I cling to your sleeves and I stop you from leaving
October birds singing and wedding bells ringing
Tied to the altar, I’ll keep you forever
Don’t let me down easy, you’re in me too deeply
Flower Face’s forthcoming full-length album, The Shark In Your Water, will be released May 27th via Nettwerk Music Group.
Beach Bunny – “Karaoke” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: The Beths, Remember Sports, Wednesday
Beach Bunny had a bit of a breakout year in 2021. Their EP, Blame Game, was among our favorites, as Lili Trifilio, Jon Alvarado, Matt Henkels, and Anthony Vaccaro captured millennial nostalgia with their reinvention of the ’90s.
Beach Bunny’s latest single, “Karaoke”, has even more of a nostalgic vibe on it than anything we’ve heard from them before. The lyrics are reflective, and the song’s lush vibe and slower pace match the approach. About halfway through, things pick up just a little bit, the drums roll in, guitar solos intertwine, and a catchy wordless chorus closes out everything.
Wings of Desire – “A Million Other Suns” (London, England)
RIYL: Chapterhouse, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Postal Service
There is something extremely familiar and inviting to Wings of Desire‘s music, and it has nothing to do with Chloe Little and James Taylor being founding members of the on-hiatus INHEAVEN. It might be due to the duo drawing inspiration from some of music’s most influential bands of the past (like New Order on “Perfect World” and The Jesus and Mary Chain with “Choose A Life”) and present (the Wolf Alice-esque “OUTTAMAMIND”). Or maybe it’s because the band’s songs are about us. Specifically, Little and Taylor focus on finding the glimmers of light in the darkness and prying open the crack to brighten our lives. They do this once again on “A Million Other Suns”.
Similar to “Choose A Life”, Wings of Desire turn to early ’90s shoegaze and dreamgaze to deliver a wonderfully endearing number. The gauzy guitars and the titillating rhythms beckon to a time when the Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, and The Jesus and Mary Chain dominated the UK radio scene, and their songs filled ’90s soundtracks. This tune, too, deserves to be on the compilation for a coming-of-age film, where a group of friends follow different paths to only reunite again. In this case, Taylor sings to a friend who has lost his way and helps him find his path.
“Don’t leave me hanging dry
Toss through the night
In a dreamless sleep
Did I pick a fight?
Think you called
Said that I
Always drink too much
Drink too much now
Turn on the bed light
Got you wondering what you did last night
A million other suns will rise
Got you wondering what you did last night”
The single is out on the duo’s boutique label WMD Recordings. Here’s hoping an album is coming.
RIYL: D’Angelo, Jermaine Jackson, Genesis Owusu
If this was 1985 or even 1993, Jeremy Haywood-Smith would be a star, where his music under the moniker JayWood would be near the top of Casey Kasem’s America Top-40. We also could see him on stage and standing in the middle of a huge band. Together, they would not just be performing their instruments, which likely includes a keytar, but they would have choreographed moves (think Prince, who was the performance master). Haywood-Smith’s newest single, “Just Sayin”, is made for these moments.
This tune is wildly cool. Like the infectious R&B of the ’80s, this song will have everyone dancing, grooving, or at the very least bopping their heads to the funky bass line. It will also put smiles on every face, particularly as the keys shimmer and Haywood-Smith along with singer-songwriter Ami Cheon deliver some smooth harmonies. The two sing about pushing through the struggles of the past while “looking at the future” and the opportunities that await. The message is one that we all could hear everyday, reminding us that sometimes we need to take a chance for good things to happen. Haywood-Smith is doing just this, creating music that appeals not just to our ears but our souls.
Caleb Kunle – “All in Your Head” (London, England via Lagos, Nigeria and rural Ireland)
RIYL: Michael Kiwanuka, Curtis Mayfield, Black Pumas
Caleb Kunle is living proof that dreams can come true if opportunity is presented. Born in Nigeria before emigrating to rural Ireland, Kunle has emerged as a quiet force within Irish music circles. His 2017 debut EP, Eden, was a wide-ranging pop album, which was futuristic in its early moments but then startlingly dark at the end. The 2020 follow-up, Rose Hertz, was an extremely intimate affair of folk, ambient, and light pop. These two mini-albums reflected Kunle’s diverse upbringing, integrating the sounds and influences from his original homeland with his new one. So where does this chameleon-like artist turn to next? Retro soul, of course!
With “All in Your Head”, Kunle has delivered not just one of the year’s finest numbers but an instant classic. Whether it is 1977 or 2022, this track belongs on every playlist, jukebox, and radio stations’ regular rotations. It swells with the soulful vibes of Al Green, Marvin Gaye, and Curtis Mayfield while featuring the bustling urgency of modern-day artists like Michael Kiwanuka and Black Pumas. The addition of the horns adds some spice, but the centerpiece is Kunle’s crooning voice. He sings about the fire that rages inside us and how we must quiet the flames to move forward. In a time when the slightest word or action can spark chaos, Kunle’s words are timely and an important reminder to keep our eyes on the bigger picture.
Kunle is going to be a star, and he has the support of London-based label Pony Recordings.
POND – “Hang a Cross on Me” (feat. Cowboy John) (Fremantle, Australia)
RIYL: Tame Impala, LCD Soundsystem, ‘Zooropa’-era U2
Last year, POND released the exuberant 9, which was a psych-disco experience made for the cosmos. The LP was massively fun and could be spun endlessly, making it the ideal party album. The party, however, is not over. On May 20th, the Aussie quintet will release a deluxe edition of the record (pre-orders here via Spinning Top Music), which includes four additional songs. So instead of ending the festivities around 11:00, we can now pull an all-nighter because the new tunes likely are going to be extremely slick and invigorating. Well, this is the case for “Hang a Cross On Me”.
Similar to the songs on 9, POND’s newest single is a dizzying affair of wonderfully delirious psych-disco. It is made for strutting, dancing, and moving at all hours of the day. “Hang a Cross On Me”, however, is not merely made for entertaining, as the band along with street performer Cowboy John share their observations of how the world is covered in flames thanks to the greed of a few. An interesting note on the track is that Cowboy John’s lines were ad lib, but the spiritual tones perfectly complement the song’s main theme.
“Wuyang princes on the wall, running wild in gilded halls
Drunk on money
Vaulted ceiling gaping eyes that light streams through from behind
That’s Western Power, honey
I’ve seen those flashlight eyes before
With gritted teeth outside the cas’ at four
Howling at the moon ‘Mother, please don’t leave'”
POND are: Nick Allbrook, Jay Watson, Shiny Joe Ryan, Jamie Terry, and James Ireland.
Abbie Ozard – “Rose Tinted” (Manchester, England)
RIYL: Wallice, Lauren Hibberd, Haley Blais
There’s a trend of acts diving into nostalgic sounds over the last few years. It’s something that we touched on when we first covered Abbie Ozard in 2020, and something that’s been even more prevalent since. One thing about Ozard’s take on classic sounds that sets her apart from the rest is her honesty with the past, and the sounds associated with those past eras. There’s no single that exemplifies that more than Ozard’s latest, “Rose Tinted”.
“Rose Tinted” kicks off quite dream-like with Ozard’s lithe vocal and jingling piano. That gives way to a great bass groove while Ozard sings in a spoken-word manner about looking back on youth, and also the maturing conversations as people shift from being teenagers to adults. It also channels a bit of what’s seen on social media, where people paint a portrait of their lives with rose-tinted glasses despite going through the same difficulties as everyone else. While the verses are spoken word, they explode into lush harmonies and in the choruses. It’s a really fun and relatable track, and the choruses are gonna get stuck in your head.
“Swear I’m not being silly
Everybody else is going through the same thing
But it feels different now
Like everything is sliding out
No one even hangs out it’s like all they do is talk about
The amount of money they can spend on growing up and being on trend”
Ozard’s new EP, Water Based Lullabies‘, is out July 1st via House Anxiety.
Baiba – “Perfect” (Innsbruck, Austria via Liepāja, Latvia)
RIYL: Katy J Pearson, Molly Payton, Jo Marches
A few years ago, we were introduced to Baiba Dekena, who bowled us over with her Daughter-like sound. A lot of things have changed for the Latvian singer-songwriter over the past four years. For starters, she has opted to be known solely as Baiba. The switch to a mononym name is accompanied with a new sound. Instead of the stark, skin-crawling sound of her original music, she’s opted for a bigger pop-rock approach that is made to fill auditoriums and stadiums. One thing, however, that has not changed is that Dekena still writes meaningful stories that go beyond the usual fare. She demonstrates the new and old on “Perfect”.
Rumbling drums and a gauzy guitar welcome us into Baiba’s new chapter, and the song then builds into a groovy, toe-tapping pop anthem. But unlike many songs within the genre, Baiba reigns the song in instead of having it go over the edge and become more than it needs to be. Instead, the urgency and energy naturally build, which in turn allows her empowering message to be heard loud and clear. She sings about the pressures placed on the young and the old, where they are asked to be perfect in everything they do. However, she reminds us that our imperfections are still perfect because that is what makes us who we are. That’s a great thought to end today’s mini-playlist.
The single is out on Super Plus Records.
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