It is a doubleheader Monday with The Matinee ’22 v. 063 providing the first seven of fourteen tunes. Melancholic fare kicks things off on this set before the intensity and energy levels get dialed up. There are plenty of feelgood tunes plus those that are more contemplative in nature.
Wy – “Teeth” (Malmö, Sweden)
RIYL: Flock of Dimes, Wye Oak, Mint Julep
Almost a year to the day, married couple Ebba and Michel Gustafsson Ågren released their emotional third album, Marriage. The LP was not, however, solely about their wedding day, but the slow journey of becoming vulnerable and learning to not just love but to trust another in the most difficult of times. Now Ebba and Michel look to the future with the couple recently welcoming their first child to the world (congratulations!), and they have a present to give in the form of Something Amazing, Wy’s new EP that drops June 17th.
“Teeth” is the lead and opening single from the mini-album, but it does not concern their newborn. On the contrary, the song is a look into the future when Ebba and Michel get older – in 40 or 50 years from now. In their typical fashion, the pair unleash a dreamy yet gritty number that is full of heart, emotion, and sincerity.
As Michel’s guitar builds, Ebba’s warm vocal describes what the days may be like when she watches her loved one getting older and struggling to do the little things. She wonders out loud about whether they will still have their teeth to the song she will sing at Michel’s funeral day. She ponders how the days will be passed, including watching old movies as lullabies. These little moments may seem crippling to some, but for Wy they are the celebrations of their wonderful life together. And their wonderful life to come.
Katie Bejsiuk – “Feels Right” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Florist, Sadurn, Gabby’s World
Last week we covered the return of Katie Bejsiuk after the end of her previous project, Free Cake for Every Creature. With “Onion Grass”, Bejsuik showed she’s still got some great songs to bring into the world with more mature and refined qualities to them. The single’s release was accompanied by the announcement of The Woman On The Moon, Bejsiuk’s debut LP.
The second single from her record is “Feels Right”. Starting with just some finger-picked, nylon guitar and brushed drums, the scene is set quite nicely, especially once Bejsiuk’s breathy vocals join in. There’s a little slow build that keeps “Feels Right” moving forward, as electric guitar, harmonies, and piano emerge. The song’s playful moments, featuring the piano intertwining with guitar, echo the track’s sentiments that maybe there’s no reason or plan for creating or just doing something. Sometimes, things just “feel right”, and it becomes special because of that.
Phoebe Green – “Lucky Me” (Manchester, England)
RIYL: St. Vincent, Miss Grit, Danz CM
A little over a year ago, Phoebe Green released the absolutely buzzing “IDK”. It was a single that immediately had us calling her a superstar and for good reason. Its infectious beats and poignant lyrical awareness made her stand out as a truly special artist. It has us quite excited to learn that Green plans to release her first proper studio record, Lucky Me , on August 19th via Chess Club Records.
The announcement of the record includes the release of its title track, “Lucky Me”. Starting out with some ambient city noise, including a siren, Green cuts through the noise with a big lush synth sound. A fantastic drum beat comes in and is joined by a fantastic killer bass-synth that roars under everything. Halfway through, the song breaks up and Green’s voice floats over everything, modulated with a touch of auto-tune in a really stunning moment. The drumbeat and synth jump back in with huge impact as the track chugs towards its end.
Green’s vocal delivery ranges from big, lush harmonic moments to ones with intimate spoken word moments. It’s a dynamic that fits the song’s lyrics, one of acknowledging the fortune of getting to where she is, but pushes back on that sentiment by asking about the hard work to get there.
“Don’t talk like that
You’re such a brat
Forget I said a word
I’m such a lucky girl
Did I get what I wanted?
Was it worth the blood, sweat and vomit?
Am I better off for it?
I can’t tell
And now I’m wondering how”
Viagra Boys – “Troglodyte” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: IDLES, TV Priest, Foals
Post-punk is not the sole property of Ireland, UK, USA, or Denmark even if arguably the most influential and best bands from the genre reside in these countries. Conversely, Sweden is not merely a country filled with great indie- pop, disco, and indie-rock bands. Viagra Boys are evidence that Sweden, too, can make music fans lose their marbles with their frenetic and rollicking brand of post-punk, and they’ve been doing this since 2015. Like most of their fellow genre mates, Sebastian Murphy, Oskar Carls, Henrik Höckert, Tor Sjödén, and Elias Jungqvist are chroniclers of the past and present, documenting our stories and evolution so that we do not forget how messed up the world has become. “Troglodyte” is a perfect encapsulation of the quintet’s method and brilliance.
Nary a second is provided for listeners to catch their breath on this feverish and rambunctious number. It possesses the arena-sized fury of Foals, surging with jolt after jolt of uncontrollable energy. Murphy, meanwhile, cements himself as one of music’s finest songwriters. His wit, intelligence, and brutal honesty are akin to the poignant lyricism of Joe Talbot (IDLES) and Charlie Drinkwater (TV Priest). He addresses how one man has fallen into the conspiracy theory rabbit hole, where he believes more in the power of his gun than learning the truth. At one point in time, Murphy’s tale would be read in works of fiction instead of observed on the evening news or even within our own homes.
“He says he don’t believe in science
He thinks that all the news is fake
And late at night he sits on his computer
And writes about the things he hates
But if it was a million years ago
And we were still living in caves
You would not be welcomed by the other apes
‘Coz you evolved a bit too late”
Findlay – “Somehow, Someday” (London/Manchester, England)
RIYL: Angel Olsen, Mattiel, UNLOVED
Some songs are made for the radio, others belong on the big screen, and a select few are specifically intended for the theatre. Then there are the rarities that are suited for any medium and venue. These are tunes that are as grand as the finest cinema, as emotional as the most moving opera, and as enduring as a classic pop number. Natalie Findlay’s – or simply just Findlay – latest single, “Somehow, Someday”, falls within all three of these areas. Or in other words, the Manchester native has crafted a work of fine art.
A twangy, spaghetti-western vibe emerges immediately with the dangling, psych-infused guitar. As the song twists and turns further into a neo-psychedelic world, Findlay’s booming voice becomes stronger. She is the heroine of this empowering story of a woman who will not fall for the mindless games and sweet nothings uttered by her enemy. Findlay is a combination of Jackie Brown, The Bride, and Imperator Furiosa rolled up into one character.
The inevitable pain
Of love you can’t resist
And all its little flavours
make a girl impatient
Leading to dismay
When nothing makes him stay”
Rachel Bobbitt – “More” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, boygenius
When Rachel Bobbitt was in her teens, she would record covers and post them to social media. A deep dive into her YouTube channel reveals renditions of songs by Bon Iver, Julien Baker, and Fleetwood Mac. Those early days were formative for her as an artist and helped pave the way for her own original music. In 2019, for instance, Bobbitt released the gorgeous When This Plane Goes Down with Justice Der.
Last week, the Canadian released the incredible “More”. It’s a song that rings true today with what’s happening in America, as Bobbitt says the song is about how “how some people see women as being made for having children”. Bobbitt sings about her body and the way it is way more than that, including its faults, like the migraines she inherited from her mother.
The song starts out almost disarmingly sparse, heavy acoustic guitar chords and a touch of steel guitar. As it builds, the track becomes an unstoppable force of nature, as Bobbit’s voice and lyrics are accentuated with the arrival of some gorgeous strings. “More” then takes off in a big way, as an electric guitar cuts through everything with stomping drums accompanying it. As the single reaches its conclusion, it goes to some amazing places. Those guitar teases earlier become a full-fledged solo, layered on top of hypnotic guitar chime and these lush synth sounds. It’s an ending that puts an exclamation point on all that Bobbitt has to say.
“You were an idealistic man
I wasn’t trying to ruin all your plans
God gave me hope just like he gave me conviction
Red herrings in early years that led to contradictions
They say that the body’s just a thing to house the mind but mine keeps betraying me night after night”
Number One Popstar – “Dance Away The Pain” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Irene Cara, Katrina and the Waves, Cyndi Lauper
After entertaining and amazing SXSW crowds, one of our Artists to Watch in 2022 has finally released a song this year. Singer and comedian Kate Jean Hollowell – a.k.a. Number One Popstar – on Friday released “Dance Away the Pain”, which sounds like it means. It is what one would expect from an artist who has been seen overwhelmed by a flood of cereal and performing dance moves in a cathedral.
If you have leotards, spongy headbands, or neon- or pastel-colored workout clothing, put them on because this ’80s synth-pop number will get you moving. Heck, it might have you doing aerobics like Jane Fonda. Or better yet, you might channel your inner Alex Owens in Flashdance, performing dance moves you never knew you had (so you might want to have a chair handy, too). If you do find yourself strutting around or doing calisthenics, then Hollowell would have succeeded in her goal, which is to make us forget about the pain that eats away at us. As she sings right off the bat:
“My depression makes me go insane,
I just wanna dance away the pain
I don’t wanna feel this way anymore,
So I’m gonna take it out on the floor”
The video above shows Hollowell and her real-life friends, whom she met at a Zumba class, bouncing, bopping, and doing whatever to feel real fine. To feel once again alive.
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