The Matinee ’22 v. 072 has ten songs, which can be described as dreamy, sinister, zany, stark, wistful, suspenseful, and, of course, intelligent. New names, familiar artists, and long-time favorites all make up the first mini-playlist of June.
La Sécurité – “Try Again” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Gustaf, Bush Tetras, Shopping
La Sécurité blew us away with their debut single, “Suspens”. An absolute blast of a listen with its quirky synth parts, hand claps, and upbeat vocal delivery in French. It’s reminiscent of the current revival we’re seeing of art-punk. Where “Suspens” had a more danceable feel, their latest single, “Try Again”, leans more into the punk side of things.
“Try Again” starts out with a stumbling drumbeat and strange electronic sounds. A synchronized bass and guitar part stabilize things underneath a spoken-word vocal track. Things get louder as guitar chords echo out with synth over everything. It all repeats itself once more until it gets even louder with some heavy piano chords and a whirlwind of guitar distortion. Things subside once more to that first drumbeat and vocals. Lyrically, it’s a fairly clever song that was inspired by old-school 2D video games, where there is a desire to return to those simpler, truth-based times.
Tracking back missing money
Flowers always make me happy
Secret stars are pretty trippy
Always easier with friends
Flip a coin
Lift it up, don’t let go
Mind the gap, no coming back
Can’t kill what’s already dead”
Divorce – “Pretty” (Nottingham, England)
RIYL: Geese, Pottery, Hater
Earlier this year, Nottingham upstarts Divorce released their debut single, “Services”, which we somehow missed. To be frank, the song is one of the great debuts of the year because it brilliantly took Brit-pop to cathartic levels. As terrific as that tune is, Tiger Cohen-Towell (vocals, bass), Felix Mackenzie-Barrow (vocals, guitar), Adam Peter Smith (guitar), and Kasper Sandstrøm (drums) have one-upped themselves with “Pretty”.
First word out of our mouths when hearing the single: AWESOME! Like some of the new bands to arrives in the past three years, the quartet refuse to be confined within a sole genre. Instead, they merge post-punk, art-punk, Brit-pop, and even a bit of Scandi-pop into one infectious and brilliant concoction. An urgency bubbles throughout the song’s entire 208-second duration while the melody shifts multiple times like the grandest of roller coasters. Meanwhile, Cohen-Towell and Mackenzie-Barrow assume the role of the protagonists in the track. They exchange words and then sing in harmony, telling a Tim Burton-like love story. Their lyrics are a little batty but wonderfully creative.
“Oh, I’m waiting for you
With a plate of bones on the table
Make a meal I’ll give you a medal
You’re mean and it’s right there in front of me
But when I reach out it grows
Spiky like a porcupine
And I’m sat up trynna rock myself to sleep
Every single night
I’ve got an answer for you”
The single is out on Hand in Hive. Here’s hoping an EP or album are coming.
Nation of Language – “Androgynous” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Black Marble, Prefab Sprout, Anthonie Tonnon
We have said this many times before – Nation of Language are one of the best bands around. They actually might be THE BEST BAND today. Their first two albums – 2020’s Introduction, Presence and 2021’s A Way Forward – are masterpieces and two of the finest LPs released over the past 22 years, as they’ve taken ’80s synth-pop, new wave, and krautrock and turned them into music made for 21st Century soundtracks. It’s not just the soundcapes that Aidan Noéll (synth) and Ian Devaney (vocal, synth) craft but also Devaney’s superb songwriting, where he creates tales that fit the mood and tone of the times. The married couple unveil all their gifts on their first single of 2022 in “Androgynous”.
The tune is a cover of The Replacements’ 1984 song from their album, Let It Be. In typical NOL fashion, they’ve turned the track into one they can call their own. It’s a relatively simple melody with a dabbling synth, a tapping drum machine, and a slight guitar hum forming the basis of the arrangement – that is until the song hits the sweet spot that is so NOL. About halfway through, the song swells slightly with Devaney’s voice becoming heavenly before settling back into a calm state. He sings with passion, where he reiterates Paul Westerberg’s lyrics and central message: that love can exist in many forms. And that’s all that matters – that two people love each other for who they are. This is a great thought, isn’t it?
The cover is out on PIAS / Play It Again Sam. Don’t be surprised if an announcement regarding album number three is made in the near future.
Flower Face – “Cornflower Blue” (Ontario, Canada)
RIYL: Dolly Valentine, Skullcrusher, Tomberlin
Flower Face‘s recently released The Shark In Your Water is an instant classic. That was an eventuality considering the lead singles, “Sugar Water” and “October Birds“. A vulnerable honesty echoes through those singles as well as her past releases. It’s perhaps most striking with “Cornflower Blue”, a single off of The Shark In Your Water.
“Cornflower Blue” is the second track on the record and re-released this week, and it is an absolute stunner. Right out of the gate, lush, sustained organ sets the tone as Ruby McKinnon’s voice paints the scene. As the song progresses, it gets dreamier with haunting harmonies and delicate guitar chime underneath it all. Halfway through, it all gets louder, but it never loses those jaw-dropping qualities that draws listeners in. This approach is the perfect backdrop for the intense love story McKinnon is telling.
“I want to lay on the train tracks with you
I want to tie you down the way that lovers do
And in the morning I’ll love the mangled bits of you
I’ll love you when your lips turn cornflower blue”
Flower Face’s full-length album, The Shark In Your Water, is out now via Nettwerk Music Group.
Midnight Rodeo – “Shootout Sunday” (Nottingham, England)
RIYL: La Luz, Red Ribbon, L.A. Witch
We’ve had Midnight Rodeo‘s debut single “Now You’re Gone“, on heavy rotation since it dropped in April. That’s no surprise considering who’s involved with Midnight Rodeo. The band is made up of members from various Nottingham-based bands: Sancho Panza, Cherry Hex and the Dream Church, Jiminil, The Hijinks, and Orton. That single had everything from crunchy guitars to fantastic vocals, and it was a hell of a debut. It left us wanting more.
Thankfully, the wait is over and the super-group have released a stellar follow-up single in “Shootout Sunday”. Fantastic guitar work throughout with a perfect layer of synth underneath lay the groundwork for Maddy Chamberlain’s hypnotic vocals. Somehow, this band from Nottingham absolutely nails the wild-west vibe, especially in the ways it ebbs and flows. The band says the song is about arrival fallacy – or the false idea of finding lasting fulfillment from finally reaching a destination. They tell this story through a story reminiscent of Bonnie and Clyde.
“Me and my baby
gonna burn it down
Full mon on the rise
I like it better when we’re on the run
Tracing back the sky
Oh I know, you’re holding me too tight
But don’t you leave me here to die”
Midnight Rodeo are Maddy Chamberlain (vocals, tambourine), James McBride (guitar, vocals), William Crumpton (guitar, vocals), Harry Taylor (bass), Ferg Moran (drums), and Sam Potts (keys, synths)
“Shootout Sunday” is out now on FatCat Records.
Trace Decay – “Paradigm” (Brisbane, Australia)
RIYL: Joseph of Mercury, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell
Brisbane might be the go-to-place to find artists who put the cinema into music – or it is evolving into such a destination. Whether this is due to the extremely hot and humid summers that cause people to stay indoors or a culture scene that encourages invention is unknown (might be a combination of both), but it is a place to hear the rapturous art-rock of Jaguar Jonze or the Gothic, post-punk-tinged dark-pop of Trace Decay as heard on “Paradigm”.
Jordan Depas, the mastermind behind the project, unveils a stirring, sinister number that sounds like the music that should be heard in the wee hours of the morning. The shadowy bass line is the star, as it throbs with the tingling sensation of Peter Hook-delivered Yamaha BB. Synths and a percussion, meanwhile, swirl over top, adding to the single’s hypnotic feel. Depas’ voice is deep, shallow, and harrowing, yet it, too, is captivating. He emotionally sings about how we constantly recycle the days and, therefore, become trapped in doing the same things over and over again. We are poisoning our minds by staying stagnant or stuck in a relationship going nowhere.
“The night’s demise brings early morning
Just dark enough to stay in hiding
But when the light draws close
it means its time to go
But did you have a good time
inside this wicked paradigm
The poisons on our breathe burning through our flesh
But did you have a good time inside this wicked paradigm
Where nothing ever changes”
Head to Bandcamp to hear more song from Depas.
Sarah Bethe Nelson – “Can’t Catch a Break” (San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Widowspeak + Townes Van Zandt + Arctic Monkeys
Seven years ago, we were introduced to Sarah Bethe Nelson. At the time, she split her time as a bartender and a singer-songwriter, signed to at the time one of the bigger indie labels. Her debut album, Fast Moving Clouds, was honest, poignant, and real, and it was one of our Favorite Albums of 2015. She followed that up with Oh, Evolution in 2017 and 2019’s Weird Glow, which further highlighted Nelson’s two strengths – her whispery, intimate vocal and her ability to put listeners at the heart of each song. For those new to Nelson’s music, the Bay-area artist is prepping the release of her fourth LP, Mental Picture, and shares its lead single, “Can’t Catch A Break”.
With her dreamy vocal, which is the West Coast’s answer to Widowspeak’s Molly Hamilton, Nelson opens the door and invites us into her ever-evolving story. While her voice is alluring, the setting is one of suspense and uneasiness, as a methodical bass plucks in the foreground while a psych-tinged guitar hums in the back. Images of a 19th Century Victorian house may come to mind, where the walls are adorned with hideous red, paisley wallpaper and portraits of those who once lived in this home. Nelson guides us through the vast corridors and multiple rooms, and she tells us this has been her prison for years. And the pictures we see have been her only audience.
“I planned on playing concerts to show the world my tunes
I wound up on the porch with the possums and raccoons
It feels like forever but it was yesterday
I’m stuck in the corner with a fresh coat of paint”
A terrific tune from one of music’s most underrated artists.
Head to Bandcamp to pre-order Mental Picture ahead of its July 29th release. It should be a storytellers dream.
Will Butler – “A Stranger’s House” & “Nearer to Thee” (Brooklyn, USA and Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Massive Attack, Jesse Mac Cormack, The Knife
Just before the release of We, Will Butler announced he was leaving Arcade Fire. It was surprising news given how the collective over the past 17 years have emerged as one of music’s most influential and celebrated outfits. At the same time, Butler’s announcement was to be expected, as his debut album, Policy, revealed different directions he wanted to pursue. Yesterday, he released the first songs as a fully independent solo artist.
“Stranger’s House” sees Butler hover within downtempo and trip-hop. It is dark, spatial, and tantalizing on the ears. What separates the track from other tunes within the genre popularized by Massive Attack is the integration of the keys. Occasionally, a spine-tingling piano arrangement is heard that heightens the drama of this song about want and desire.
On “Nearer to Thee”, Butler heads into lo-fi art-rock territory, unveiling a gloomy and shadowy tune a la The Knife. Whereas the former song sought to be close to another, this one deals with faith and how it teeters on the edge. With all that has happened over these past six years, in which the world has come close to representing a post-apocalyptic period, it’s hard to believe there can be a heaven. Butler seeks to find out.
These terrific songs are out on Merge Records. No word on when Butler’s new album will be released, but we imagine it cannot be far behind.
Anna Tivel – “Outsiders” (Portland, USA)
RIYL: Angel Olsen, Big Thief, Aldous Harding
Anna Tivel has long been one of the most compelling songwriters out there. Her ability to paint vivid pictures with her lyrics is unparalleled, and that can be heard throughout all of her work. Tivel’s last full-length came in 2019 in the form of The Question. This August, meanwhile, she will release her next LP, Outsiders.
Tivel’s storytelling is the main attraction on “Outsiders”, the first single from the upcoming record. Drawing listeners in with its opening lines, evoking scenes from the Apollo 11 mission, watching the Earth rise from the moon. Musically, it’s fairly minimal with guitar and some percussion, but there’s a haunting and spacey layer floating throughout the track.
Tivel felt inspired to write the song while watching a documentary of the moon landing, stating:
“The news was feeling especially dark, full of pain and distorted truths, and watching all that beautiful footage from the ‘69 moon landing hit me right in the gut. For just that one moment in a time of great upheaval, it seemed like everyone paused to look up in wonder at something incredible that humankind was able to achieve for the very first time.”
Perhaps there is a lesson there for these times as well.
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