The Matinee ’22 v. 061 is another wide-ranging, far-reaching compilation of new music. Specifically, eight songs are featured, many of which takes lessons from the past to address our current situations while others look to the future and what awaits.
Fantastic Negrito – “They Go Low” (Oakland, USA)
RIYL: Michael Kiwanuka, Leon Bridges, Sam Cooke
Xavier Dphrepaulezz has never been afraid to share his emotions and thoughts through his project, Fantastic Negrito. He also has never been afraid to reveal the hidden truths of our society, such as pointedly telling us on “Oh Betty” that racism still exists in all its forms. He’s not merely preaching about injustice; he’s been its victim. But instead of feeling powerless, Dphrepaulezz is empowered, and it allows him to create some of the most poignant songs in music today. With “They Go Low”, he raises us up on our feet with his trademark positivity.
On this ’60s-inspired soulful, bluesy, gospel-tinged rocker, Dphrepaulezz has crafted a song for current and future civil rights marches. It is gritty yet inspiring, assertive yet uplifting. It is made to have us raise our fists in defiance and stare in the face of those who desire to return to the days of 1860. While Fantastic Negrito’s latest single focuses on race and class relations / divisions, its message also applies to other social justice causes. Through his words, hopefully we’ll all find inspiration to continue to fight for everyone’s human rights.
“I seen a little boy soldier
With tattoos all over his face
A gang banger’s dream mascot
I’m too old so I couldn’t relate
There’s a song he was singing
About his momma she was digging his grave
With cracked dry hands screaming Jesus’ name”
Katie Bejsiuk – “Onion Grass” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Free Cake for Every Creature, Florist, Waxahatchee
In March 2019, Katie Bennett announced the end of her project, Free Cake for Every Creature. In the three years since the close of that chapter, she has focused on writing as well as slowly crafting songs as Katie Bejsiuk.
Bejsiuk is Bennet’s father’s original last name. He was the son of Ukrainian immigrants and changed his name before Katie was born. Last year, Bejsiuk gave us a slight hint that something may be brewing after contributing a LVL UP cover to Double Double Whammy’s 10th anniversary compilation. Bejsiuk just announced her first full-length record under her new solo project, The Woman On The Moon. With the announcement came the record’s lead single, “Onion Grass”.
The song is mostly just Bejsiuk’s breathy voice and acoustic guitar. As the track progresses, she’s joined by former Free Cake members Peter Gill and Francis Lyons on guitar and drums, respectively. The number ends almost in a haze, as Bejsiuk’s voice fades out under the building sounds. Bejsiuk says “Onion Grass” was “inspired by the rupture of an adolescent friendship, which occurred as we moved from the imaginative space of childhood to the restrictive and gendered structures of young adulthood.” It’s a story that’s told through Bejsiuk’s vivid imagery:
“We picked onion grass
Thought we could live off it
Hershey wrappers fell from our pockets
We lined up coke can targets”
RIYL: Paul Oakenfold, Matthew Dear, Crystal Stilts
Electronic music fans are familiar with Alexander Paul Coe’s project Sasha, as the Welsh DJ is known for spinning tunes in glitzy places like Ibiza. He also has made a name for himself with his LNOE – or Last Night on Earth – project, where he collaborates with independent artists and, thus, provides them with another platform to showcase their talent. His latest EP, LNOE Ten, Vol. II (available on Bandcamp), includes three new collaborations, including with Pumarosa.
One of our long-time favorite indie bands, Isabel Munoz-Newsome, Tomoya Suzuki, Neville James, and Nicholas Owen have for nearly a decade dazzled. Who can forget “Priestess”, arguably one of the greatest songs of the 21st Century? In working with Coe, they demonstrate they can equally enchant the patrons moving on the dance floor.
Sasha provides the canvas for Munoz-Newsome to tell a seductive tale on “Just Us”. As expected from one of the preeminent DJs on the planet, the production is exquisite, where we feel every probing synth, pulsing beat, and hushed ambient effect. Munoz-Newsome’s sultry voice, meanwhile, is perfectly embedded within the sensual melody. She shares how a weakness grows within her when around another person, but is this something she wants or is just another trap? While a fire grows in the next room, can they rekindle the spark they once had? The answer is for us to decide, but one thing we know for sure – this match between Sasha and Pumarosa is electrifying.
Zimbru – “Topaz” (Cluj-Napoca, Romania)
RIYL: Pumarosa, Ela Minus, LCD Soundsystem, The Knife
Two years ago, we were introduced to Zimbru, who completely dazzled us with “The Ground”. That song made us want to book tickets to Romania to explore every nook and cranny of Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca to discover the Eastern European country’s indie scene. Maybe one day but for now we’ll have to explore from the comforts of our homes. After hearing “Topaz”, however, Teodora Retegan, Paul Bucovesan, Andrei Bobiș, and Oana Pop have us checking travel websites for the next flight.
Prepare to take off with this epic electro-pop number, which sounds like the perfect collaboration between The Knife and LCD Soundsystem. This track is sincerely perfection with the superb sound design. Not a single element dominates, yet every blast of the synths, keys, beats, guitar, and percussion penetrates. We not only hear every word Retegan sings from her engrossing voice, but we also feel her emotion. We feel her desire to be free and be who she is instead of having to play the senseless game of pretend in order to fit in.
“I hope I die before the rivers dry
Is something I’d say and you’d give me the eye
Oh don’t be mad my love
I would have you home for dinner
If my tears weren’t so tasteless”
The quartet’s new EP is expected later this year. In the meantime, check out Zimbru’s Bandcamp page to hear more from this hidden gem.
Jane’s Party – “Live Again” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: The Killers, The Strokes, The Kinks
If you’ve had a difficult few days, weeks, or months, then let this next song lift your spirits. It definitely did for us. The fact “Live Again” came from Jane’s Party should not be a surprise because Devon Richardson, Tom Ionescu, Jeff Giles, and Zach Sutton have long made us forget our troubles with their upbeat music. Granted, most of their tunes have been made for house parties, but their latest one is appropriate for any venue, including the most dour place. It will make every person believe that silver linings exist, better days are ahead, and the pain of losing someone will eventually subside.
This anthemic pop-rocker echoes of The Killers and The Strokes in their prime, where their boisterous rock ‘n roll would fill arenas and anthems of all sizes. Where their most endearing and memorable songs would have all patrons singing at the top of their lungs and breathing in the positive energy of their surroundings. One, however, does not need to be surrounded by thousands of people to feel good again. We just need to let Jane’s Party do most of the work while hollering:
“So if you wanna get a little bit closer
You’re gonna have to try
And if you’re gonna be the one left standing
You gotta learn to live again I wanna learn to live again!”
Thanks guys for making us believe in today and tomorrow.
Khartoum – “Chromosomes” (London, England)
RIYL: Desperate Journalist, The Blinders, CLAMM
A year ago, young English upstarts Khartoum released their debut EP, Vultures, which channeled the UK indie scene of the late ’90s and early ’00s. Think Bloc Party and Maximo Park at the height of their creative powers. Eventually, Oscar, Scarlett, and Cam will reach these levels if not exceed them because they blend euphoric pop-rock with intelligent lyricism. They’re not just a band that intends to entertain; they will also provoke with their words. They showcased their talents on previous singles “Benny” and “Vultures”, and they take their craft to another level with “Chromosomes”.
A ’70s indie-rock swagger percolates across this soaring yet brooding number. Led by an awesome, post-punk-tinged bass line, the track is made for the dark, unoccupied alleys in the early hours of the morning. And behind each shadow lies a mystery. These alleys for Khartoum, however, are not on the streets of London, but rather the vessels that channel our bodies and minds. They sing about the changes that are happening within that no one, not even their doctor, can see. Their tale could be perceived as a contemporary interpretation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
“I see my face it’s in the places that I used to relate
Here I go I’ve changed my DNA
I can wager in a stranger
When I get to the Gate
Heaven knows I’ve changed my DNA”
Khartoum’s sophomore EP, Some Days, will be released June 17th via Young Poet Records. It should be another great one.
The Franklin Electric – “Answers” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: The Tallest Man On Earth, Gregory Alan Isakov, Glen Hansard
The Franklin Electric are an indie-folk collective headed by singer-songwriter Jon Matte, who formed the collective in 2014. Since then, the band – which currently includes Ken Pressé and Adam Passalacqua – has built quite a resume of fantastic records, including Blue Ceilings, which scored a JUNO nomination for “Breakthrough Group of the Year”. The group carried momentum of their first major recognition with the release of In Your Head in 2019 and the immense This Time I See It last year. In March, the collective released “Borderline” which built even more on their sound.
This week, The Franklin Electric shared another new tune, “Answers”. Right out of the gate, Matte’s storytelling sets the scene over intricately finger-picked guitar. Harmonies join in, then piano, and just a hint of drums keep things in motion. The song is a warning that the answers we find and take for granted may not be as they seem. It’s an important statement with the political climate at the moment, and Matte makes it in such a stunning way.
“But you were looking for direction
Trying to make it by
Always looking for the shortcuts
You’ve been racing this whole time
And everybody wanted something
But you just can’t decide
Everybody wants the answers
But they’re busy telling lies”
Elena Erin – “Mother Always Knows” (London, England via northern Canada)
RIYL: Ex:Re, Lorde, The xx
Elena Erin calls herself “The Holy Tender Artist”. It’s a reference to a line in her song “Lawless”, but it’s an identity that confirms itself through all of her music. Her songs are unapologetically honest, as she bares her heart and soul with her lyrics. Her unique background of growing up on a farm in northern Canada, writing songs in New York, and her current home base of London, has given her many stories to tell.
Released just before Mother’s Day, Elena Erin released “Mother Always Knows”, which about perhaps the most tender of relationships: one between mother and child. Starting with just piano and Erin’s voice, it sets a delicate tone immediately. The vocals have a dreamlike quality to them along with some great harmonies. There’s a fantastic drum machine and nostalgic synth underneath everything. Erin sings about calls with her mother, the strength that those calls give her, and the love that her mother instilled in her at a young age.
“So I call you from the city
My love are you staying alive?
My love are you staying alive?
I don’t know, sometimes it hits me so hard
Like why am I staying alive?
It hurts just to try and survive”
“Mother Always Knows” is out now, and you can buy/stream it at this link.
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