The Matinee ’22 v. 078 marks the return of a couple of heavy hitters, the arrival of two immensely gifted newcomers, and established artists ready to take their art to new heights. We begin with one of the most influential bands of the past decade. 

The Songs of June playlist, which features the nine songs below, includes more aspiring and forward-thinking bands and musicians. It can be heard on Spotify and SoundCloud.

 

Preoccupations – “Ricochet” (Calgary, Canada)

RIYL: Protomartyr, Suuns, Deafheaven

Four years have passed since Preoccupations last released any New Material, which happened to be the name of their outstanding third album and one of 2018’s finest LPs. (Note: the band did release three singles durning this time.) The record cemented Matt Flegel (vocals/bass), Scott Munro (guitar/synth), Daniel Christiansen (guitar), and Mike Wallace’s (drums) status as not merely just post-punk royalty but among the very best bands of the 21st Century. They along with Iceage helped pave the way for Fontaines D.C., IDLES, TV Priest, Squid, Black Midi, and Black Country, New Road to succeed. Now is the time for the Canadian band to assume their rightful place at the top of the food chain.

What sets Preoccupations apart for most bands is their ability to create expansive compositions. They easily could stick to a formula and create linear songs, but the group instead create multi-layered tapestries. “Ricochet” is another example of Preoccupations’ greatness.

The quartet’s newest single commences with ambient noise, which gradually intensifies. Then a chiming guitar and a shallow bass emerge. This isn’t the post-punk we’ve come to associate Preoccupations, as their stark post-punk is layered with Deafheaven-like darkgaze. While we expect the song to ignite, Pre-occupations surprise by keeping everything tight and restrained. Instead, keys peek through the electrifying darkness. As the instrumentation calmly builds, a claustrophobic feeling emerges, which provides the perfect setting to Flegel’s terrific songwriting. One of the great songwriters of this time, he brilliantly and intelligently captures how we’ve become our own worst enemy.

“Everything tastes like the bitter end.
Anticipating a dull parade.
Celebrating a silent chase.

I don’t believe that we’ll disappear,
if we can’t consistently prove we’re here,
but we don’t belong in this jurisdiction.

They’re selling t-shirts at this crucifixion,
and we don’t have the corresponding currency,
it’s an odyssey of absurdity.

Ricochet and decay.”

Preoccupations’ fourth album, Arrangements, will be unveiled on September 9th. Pre-orders available at these links and directly on Bandcamp.

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Julia Jacklin – “I Was Neon” (Blue Mountains / Sydney, Australia)

RIYL: Rilo Kiley, Stars, Phantastic Ferniture

Last month, the great Julia Jacklin got us excited with the announcement of her third album, PRE PLEASURE, and the release of “Lydia Wears a Cross”. The song was composed and beautifully emotion. It also showcased Jacklin’s impeccable songwriting, where she describes a young girl’s contemplation of what faith means. While the Australian artist often is associated with soul-churning melancholy, she also has a pop side. One of her side projects is Phantastic Ferniture, which has a cult following Down Under (as well as in these parts). In 2019, she performed drums for a short-lived band called rattlesnack, for whom she wrote “I Was Neon”. The song was never performed, so Jacklin re-worked it and yesterday revealed the remastered version.

The song is Jacklin at her poppiest – well at least in terms of her solo work. A catchy guitar riff rumbles alongside Jacklin’s sugary voice, and the combination evokes images of Rilo Kiley in their heyday. If the track sounds like Jacklin liberated, in some ways it is. Or more likely, the song is a confirmation of who the singer-songwriter is away from the microphone and the stage. And that is a genuinely honest and endearing individual who creates music to which we all can relate.

“I was neon,
I was a floodlight
Arms out reaching for everything in sight I swear I could be it,

Swear I could be it

Am I gonna lose myself again
Am I gonna lose myself again
I quite like the person that I am
Am I gonna lose myself again”

PRE PLEASURE is out August 26th via Polyvinyl Record Co. Pre-orders available here and on Bandcamp.

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Dry Cleaning – “Don’t Press Me” (London, England)

RIYL: Shopping, Ought, Cola

From being a Hidden Gem in 2020 to releasing an awesome record in New Long Leg, which was one of 2021’s very bestDry Cleaning have emerged as one of the most talked-about bands over the past two years. This isn’t hyperbole, as music magazines, blogs, and tastemakers have endlessly covered them while their online presence has increased tenfold. Their success can be pinpointed to two critical factors. First, front-woman Florence Shaw, who is a teacher during the day, writes lyrics that are witty, sometimes nonsensical, but always entertaining. Second, the band craft off-kilter, post-punk that either can incite universal jumping around (not quite moshing) or feverish dancing. It also can cause to heads to bop and wiggle, as “Don’t Press Me” does. 

The song is groovy, quirky, funky, and uplifting art-punk, and it sounds like an Ought or Cola track. As the angular guitar revs through the jingling rhythm section, Shaw’s spoken-word delivery emerges. She once again unleashes some lyrical gems, comparing a strained relationship to that of a cat on the prowl. 

“Hunt, steal and cheat, why not?
Wet, cold, hard, flat, it’s my big boy candle
All I could afford was a gaming mouse
So don’t touch my gaming mouse you rat”

Awesome! 

Dry Cleaning are: Florence Shaw (vocal), Nicholas Hugh Andrew Buxton (drums),  Thomas Paul Dowse (guitar), and Lewis Maynard (bass). Their sophomore album, Stumpwork, arrives October 21st on 4AD. Pre-orders available here and on Bandcamp. Get it because this band is about to reach a whole other level. 

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The Beths – “Silence Is Golden” (Auckland, New Zealand)

RIYL: illuminati hotties, Coach Party, Camp Cope

Given The Beths’ productivity, a new album this year was anticipated. Then in February, Elizabeth Stokes (guitar, vocals), Jonathan Pearce (guitar, vocals), Benjamin Sinclair (bass, vocals), and Tristan Deck (drums, vocals) released “A Real Thing” , although a new LP still was not announced. All this changed on Monday when the New Zealanders shared that Expert In A Dying Field will be released on September 15th via Flying Nun Records and Carpark Records. The LP’s lead single is, well, very The Beths.

Reverb-drenched guitars and rambunctious rhythms emerge right out of the gate, and they gradually build into a wall of chaos. The feisty approach represents the urban jungles that are home to the majority of the world’s population. From the endless wave of people, cars, advertisements, and noise, finding a moment of peace and quiet is difficult, which is what Stokes sings about.

“It’s building to a siren screaming
It’s building to a jet planе engine
Building to 6am construction
It’s building and building and building
Until I can’t function at all

Silencе is golden”

Pre-orders for Expert In A Dying Field are available at these links and on Bandcamp. It should be another stellar output from one of indie’s finest.

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Friendship – “Alive Twice” (Philadelphia via Yarmouth, ME USA)

RIYL: David Bazan, Craig Finn, Dan Mangan

If you need a song that will pick you up, you’ve come to the right place. It’s not just in the Dan Wriggins-led project’s name, Friendship, but the music he and his bandmates create is warm, endearing, and honest. They are, in other words, the definition of friendship, and we don’t even need to know them personally to realize this. With “Ugly Little Victory”, they wrote a song that poetically captured how a relationship blossoms and then suddenly ends. On their latest single, “Alive Twice”, they share how the friendship of a companion can help us overcome any and every obstacle.

The song is simplistic and sparse in its composition – just some keys and a Wurlitzer – but it is wonderfully emotional. It’s the perfect approach to honor your best friend. In this case, Dan writes about how his dog is always there for him. His companion doesn’t have to say a word to lift his spirits, and just watching the video and listening to this terrific track should lift yours.

“Cedar Park café
I was in a bad place
And you set me straight
With your on the nose advice
Your on the nose advice
With your on the nose advice

Walking around with you
We’re just hanging out in your room
Didn’t matter what we got up to
Every minute with you
Was like being alive twice
Like being alive twice”

Friendship are: Dan Wriggins (vocals, guitar), Peter Gill (guitar, pedal steel), Jon Samuels (bass), and Mike Cormier-O’Leary (drums, vibraphone). Pre-orders for their new album, Love the Stranger, are available here and on Bandcamp. It drops out July 29th via Merge Records.

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Foals – “Crest of the Wave” (Oxford, England)

RIYL: Foals

The songs that Foals have already released in advance of Life Is Yours‘ Friday release (June 17th to be precise) have celebrated life. In “Wake Me Up”, “2am”, “Looking High”, and “2001, the Oxford trio delivered, in their words, party songs. They were cathartic, energizing, and reminders that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. For the fifth and final release before the LP drops, Yannis Philippakis, Jack Bevan, and Jimmy Smith remind us that there is another side to their craft – one that had people gravitate to the band in the early years. 

“Crest of the Wave” is a darker and more melodic number than the previous four tracks. This is not to say the track will cause moods to become dour, although the song is made for dimly-lit settings and more intimate situations. It is a sensual, disco-infused number made for slow dancing under the glittering lights. It is also made for contemplation, where we dream about holding our loved one’s hand while stepping on warm, tropical beaches. “Crest of the Wave”, in other words, is escapism, momentarily taking us away to places where we can indulge in life. 

“Stuck On St. Lucia
I promised I’d meet you
but my words wait on water
so I’ll always be there waiting at the crest of the wave

All I need, in ambergris
Come be with me, we’ll flee the scene
So roll me up, smoke away
Aftersun, in Tropic Grey”

Once again, Life Is Yours is out this Friday, June 17th via ADA/Warner UK Ltd. Pre-orders available on the band’s online store

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Riley Whittaker – “Preoccupied” (Nashville, USA)

RIYL: Pixey, Hatchie, Holly Humberstone

Age is just a number. We’ve all heard this adage before, but it usually applies when we get older to make us feel better. In Riley Whittaker‘s situation, this saying refers to how mature she is beyond her years. It also means we should not automatically assume she wants to replicate what’s on the radio. We instead need to keep an open mind, and if we do that then we will discover an incredible, young talent. We will discover that “Preoccupied” is just the tip of the iceberg for this 17-year old.

Yes, Whittaker is just 17 years old, but she has crafted a thoughtful and rollicking pop-rock tune that is well beyond the usual. Her controlled, breezy vocal is the first thing we hear. It draws us into her world of wanting to be taken seriously by those in the music industry, her friends, and those who proclaim to love her. Her talents, however, do not stop at just smart songwriting. While she could create an ordinary pop number, she turns up the guitar and allows it to rumble. While her voice remains intimately lush, the instrument represents her frustration and the fire that rages in her. 

Look out Nashville, you’ve got a star-in-the-making residing within your city limits.

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LAZYRAVE – “Terraform” (Newcastle, England)

RIYL: Caveman, Hot Chip, Small Black

Maribou State, Phoria, and Mt. Wolf are three of the great alt-electronic bands from the UK. They’ve transformed electronica into a grandiose, widescreen and sometimes symphonic experience. They and their countrymen now need to make room for LAZYRAVE, who are gradually ascending to their level.

Comprised of front-man Dan Clark, drummer Ben Kindle, producer Mark “Clem” Clemmett, and tech engineer Pete Cheyne, the Newcastle outfit share many of the traits of the aforementioned greats. First, they add many textures, layers, and transitions so no songs sounds one-dimensional. Second, they don’t take shortcuts when it comes to the songwriting. They’re not singing about hooking up or depending on over-repetition. The quartet instead tell fantastic stories, and this is evidenced on “Terraform”.

Musically, the song is a gem. It’s mix of synth-pop, synthwave, electronica, and even a touch of leftfield. For 4.5 minutes, they have us spinning, thinking we’re dancing under a rainbow even though the sun may be shining outside or night has descended. It’s a vibrant and infectious tune, whose theme is equally extraordinary. Clark sings about exploring places beyond the moon. His tale of space travel is an analogy for taking chances before it is too late. He further warns us to not become Terraforms, who desire to keep everything the way it is and, thus, never progress.

“In deep
Foresight failed us
Wait forget that
Foresight made us
Up n leave that planet
Into the unknown
Go deep into the void
N don’t look back at home
Fluctuation
Of energy n information
In a quantum sea
Ambiguous flowing and continuous
We must be fearless or this thing will kill us

Can you save us all
Forget that
Can ya save us from us”

Fortunately for us, we are not Terraforms. If we were, bands like LAZYRAVE would never exist.

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Lean Year – “The Trouble With Being Warm” (Richmond, VA, USA)

RIYL: Luluc, Flock of Dimes, The Weather Station

The past 2.5 years unquestionably have been challenging. As much as we try to return to a normal life, the emotional scars are permanent. We all have missed important events and milestones and, more importantly, lost people we loved. In many cases, we were unable to spend the final moments with them or even say goodbye. This will be the lasting effects of the pandemic, and Lean Year powerfully and emotionally capture them on “The Trouble With Being Warm”.

For more than five minutes, Emilie Rex and Rick Alverson cause us to pause. The duo’s latest track is pensive, minimalist, and mournful. With each yearning piano note and Rex’s vulnerable voice, we contemplate what we have missed. We contemplate what we have lost and what our lives mean. That is the trouble with being warm – where we wonder why we are here and others are not.

We won’t say anything more than this because this exceptional song needs to be heard to fully experience its power.

Lean Year’s new album, Sides, will drop September 2nd via Western Vinyl. Pre-orders can be made at these links and on Bandcamp.

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