The Matinee ’22 v. 079 is a wild ride, featuring furious and surreal numbers, dreamy dazzlers, emotional rockers, and pop surprises. Ten songs from nine artists and bands are included in today’s edition.
Hallan – “Sich Übergeben” (Portsmouth, England)
RIYL: Fontaines D.C., Bambara, Shame
There is no shortage of great post-punk bands. The list is lengthy with each pushing the boundaries musically and lyrically. Some have gone on achieve acclaim and success – such as Fontaines D.C., Idles, Preoccupations, Iceage, Bambara, and Shame – while others are patiently waiting for their time to shine. For Portsmouth post-punk outfit Hallan, their moment to take center stage should be any day now. With songs like “Modern England”, “Hands Up”, and “Orwell’s Idyllic Future”, they paired Orwellian-like tales with an explosive style. The quartet take another step towards stardom with “Sich Übergeben”.
Never ones to stay stagnant, Hallan infuse krautrock into their blistering post-punk. The result is a whirling adrenaline rush, which is driven by a terrific synth arrangement and rhythm section. If Danny Boyle is to make a third Trainspotting film, this tune would be perfect, not just musically but also lyrically. The title translates “to vomit”, and the song is a critique of Britain’s obsession with the royals, British colonialism, and its traditions. Conor Clements’ lyrics are imaginative and brilliant as always.
“I’m building a bar in my own backyard
Craft beer check and chateau red check
I’m emigrating to a sunnier land where the drinks are cheap
And I don’t need no fake tan.
With my golden glowing health card
I will gain access to the most precious of foreign soils And I will Erbrechen, Sich übergeben
I stayed up all day to watch the queen’s procession.
I ain’t racist, I eat curry see I like the grub.
Kids are out, Babestation, phone bills racking up
Deliveroo but it’s too slow so I never tip
I’m out of shape and blame my guns when shirts do not fit
Get home from the game so pissed I cry to sleep”
Hallan are Conor Clements (vocals), Joshua Tweedale (bass), Joshua Ransley (guitar), and Adam Mills (drum). The single is out on Nice Swan Records.
GAWJUSS – “Cry Harder” (Leeds, England)
RIYL: METZ, FIDLAR, Wavves
Fury is just a word, but in the hands of the right musicians it could be cathartic, explosive, and memorable. The noise-rock that James Wilkinson (vocal, guitar), Kieran Wade Clarke (guitar, vocals), John McLaughlan (bass), and Blue Thorn (drums) create as GAWJUSS encapsulates these three qualities and then some. No wonder they are underground UK favorites who are setting themselves up for even more. Specifically, when their debut album, Prototypical, drops on September 2nd, more people will know their names and be blasting their furious tunes like “Cry Harder”.
Not since METZ and FIDLAR arrived nearly a decade ago has a band made fury sound invigorating. From the rhythmic jackhammers laid down by McLaughlan and Thorn to Wilkinson’s and Clarke’s awesome songwriting (not to mentioning the scorching vocals), “Cry Harder” is a juggernaut of epic proportions. It is made to crush the foundations on which we stand and the walls that keep us imprisoned. These confines are our own doing, and the pair sing about how living in the moment, learning from past mistakes, and, more importantly, being true to ourselves. Just like how GAWJUSS are.
We may as well say it… “F*uck yeah!”
Caregiver – “Reason” (Sacramento, USA)
RIYL: Snail Mail, Lucy Dacus, Angie McMahon
“East Coast” bias is a term heard in sports and the news, where the media tends to prioritize events along the Atlantic seaboard. It also applies to music, where a singer-songwriter from New York, Nashville, and even Asheville will get covered more than one who calls Sacramento, California home. Lindsey Bitson and her project Caregiver may change all this because the young singer-songwriter possesses the power and poignancy of Lindsey Jordan (a.k.a. Snail Mail), Lucy Dacus, and Sharon Van Etten. Like these great artists, she has a song that not just grabs your attention but holds it. That song is “Reason”.
“Remarkable” was the first word when hearing this emotional, melodic rocker. Its introduction is restrained with just a few strums of the guitar and Bitson’s startling vocal, which utters ten words that sear into one’s mind. “Not bedded by another hand / Swore I’d never love again”, she sings and establishes the tone for what is to come. Slowly the song intensifies, turning into a tumultuous affair. As the drums escalate and the guitar soars, Bitson further describes how she sabotaged a relationship to avoid having her heart broken. But of course, her heart aches and still does to this day. Her songwriting is brutally honest, which is the mark of a great songwriter.
“I don’t have a reason to see you anymore
And it kills me
Yes it kills me
Not a text or a page to let me know your safe
Just radio silence, just static waves
But what a relief!
You don’t recognize me
I can pretend that I don’t know who you have been seeing
Yes I get lonesome suppose it just comes with the season
And I still hate you though I know I don’t have a reason”
Why Bonnie – “Hot Car” & “Sailor Mouth” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: Ratboys, Middle Kids, Valley Queen
Watching Blair Howerton (vocals), Kendall Powell (keys), Josh Malett (drums), Sam Houdek (guitar), and Chance Williams’ (bass) project, Why Bonnie, mature over these four-plus years has been a delight. They’ve grown from high school dreamers to legitimate indie stalwarts, crafting everything from dream-pop to gritty indie-rock and everything in between. Howerton, too, has established herself as one of music’s great, young songwriters, leading to not just global coverage but also major festival spots. The quartet reveal their growth on not one but two songs, and each is different from the other.
On “Hot Car”, the band take us on a melancholic, Sunday drive, on which we ponder what to do on another lazy summer day. Howertown’s vocal hovers over top a lingering, mournful arrangement, and she reflects on her purpose.
“Thinking of ways I could waste my day
Smells like summer in the Carolina rain
Dripping wet in the scorched grass
Always getting the last laugh.”
Howertown continues to contemplate her existence, at least in the eye’s of another, on “Sailor Mouth”. Grittier yet equally memorable, the song begins with a howling guitar before it eases into a melodic indie-rocker. For the next two minutes, we become immersed in Howerton’s lyrics, which dance alongside the lovely piano arrangement. Sounding like Middle Kids’ Hannah Joy, she shares:
“It’s a salty sweet familiar taste
When I say your name
And it always tastes the same.
It’s a salty sweet familiar taste”
ROE – “I Can Change” (Londonderry, Northern Ireland)
RIYL: Pip Blom, Wallice, Lauran Hibberd
When a young artist writes a song with which people of all ages can empathize, it shows not just musical talent but soul. It’s one thing to recreate an event that people know, but it’s a whole other enterprise to capture the constant and unforgiving internal battles we have. As a result, we become a part of the song. We believe we are the protagonist, which is what singer-songwriter ROE has achieved with “I Can Change”.
Roisin Donald, the young Irish artist behind ROE, exemplifies why people should never judge a book by its cover. Or in her case, one should not look at her youthful age of 22/23 or hear the catchy pop-rock melody of “I Can Change” and assume her songs focus on frivolous, millennial and Gen Z issues. Instead, she is wise beyond her years and oozes musical talent, as she combines bubbly pop with assertive, grizzled alt-rock. The combination sounds like it could have been concocted in Seattle or Portland, but instead it was born in Londonderry. Her story about self-doubt, meanwhile, is cleverly told, as she shares how she has lied in order to convince people and herself of her worth. We know this feeling; however, Donald tells it much more poignantly than we could.
“I could write a book about
The things I’ve regretted
I’ve told a lot of stories that I really
But what’s the point of living
If you don’t mess up at all?
Fun fact: ROE has performed at Glastonbury, and she did this before releasing an album. Speaking of which, half of Donald’s debut album, That’s When the Panic Sets in (Part I), is out now and available on Bandcamp. The second half will be released September 23rd.
Marlon Williams – “Thinking of Nina” (Lyttleton, New Zealand)
RIYL: Spandau Ballet, Bryan Ferry, Alex Cameron
When Marlon Williams released the Māori-inspired folk-pop tune “My Boy” in May, we quietly hoped a new album was coming. Sure enough, My Boy will arrive on September 9th. In what direction the Kiwi singer-songwriter will head is a mystery, and the LP’s second single offers no clues because Williams surprises once again.
The days when Williams was compared to Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison are long gone. Instead, he might be referred to as the new Spandau Ballet or Bryan Ferry once people hear “Thinking of Nina”. Williams’ newest single recalls the mid-’80s with its loungy, synth-pop melody. It’s made for high-school dances and that moment every boy nervously waits for – the right song to ask his crush to dance. If this track was released in 1985, it might have been heard on Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, or Stranger Things. Instead, it will just have to be performed at dances today where new memories can be made with that one person who makes us feel all tingly inside.
“But tonight I’m thinking of Nina
Must be scary
Just making out like you got skin in the game
When you playing with hearts then you playing with shame
Wish she could give me a reason
But more than that I believe in love
I believe in love, wish I could give her her freedom:
Wombo – “Snakey” (Louisville, USA)
RIYL: Sonic Youth, Horsegirl, Wet Leg
One of the best bands to arrive over the past three years are Wombo because the Louisville trio are unpredictable. Sydney Chadwick (vocal, bass), Cameron Lowe (guitar), and Joel Taylor (drums) can deliver post-punk spell like they did with “Backflip” or weave a shape-shifter like “Below the House”. For the third single from their forthcoming new album, Fairy Rust, they dust off their parents’ mid-’80s and early-’90s indie records and deliver a classic.
“Snakey” echoes of New York City’s underground music scene and the days when Sonic Youth reigned. It’s an off-kilter rocker with post-punk accents. Chadwick channels her inner Kim Gordon with her plodding bass and nonchalant, lo-fi vocal. Lowe, meanwhile, patiently waits in the shadows like Thurston Moore, and with impeccable timing his guitar sears and then methodically plucks. Keeping the two in time is Taylor, who like Steve Shelley changes tempo to avoid the song from becoming stagnant.
And it’s not just musically Wombo sound like one of the greatest rock bands in history, but the storyline is equally Sonic Youth-esque. It’s a bit nonsensical in that the tale concerns a snake-like being that has human qualities – or is it a human that has reptilian characteristics? He slithers his way across the country, and people observe him and his actions but do nothing. Maybe the track has more to do about us than the protagonist. Hmm…
“Driving along the open road like a serpent.
Walking into the country store and he sees it.
Curling himself up on the floor, no one follows.
Everyone wants to drag him down and he knows it.”
Black Midi – “Eat Men Eat” (London, England)
RIYL: Squid; Deerhoof, Black Road, New Country
Writing enough material for a full-length is a challenging endeavor for any artist or band. The difficulty level, though, is increased several times when attempting to produce a concept album. Black Midi, however, never have shied away from a challenge. After all, Geordie Greep (vocals, guitar), Cameron Picton (vocals, bass guitar, synths), and Morgan Simpson (drums) with support from Seth Evans (keyboards, synths) and Kaidi Akinnibi (saxophone) have been at the forefront of art-punk’s revival. Their new LP, Hellfire, is shaping to be a surreal account of war in post-apocalyptic times (although the present is quite surreal). On “Welcome To Hell”, for instance, the band assumed the role of brainwashed soldiers walking to their oblivion. On “Eat Men Eat”, they become soldiers fleeing from their responsibilities in order to survive.
Once again, the London outfit unleash a manic whirlwind of sometimes spectacular and often unpredictable noise. While the song comes in at just over three minutes, it feels more like a 30-minute, mini-rock opera due to the constant melody shifts. “Eat Men Eat” goes from calmly desperate to chaotically manic to unfathomably serene to something indescribable. Equally mind-boggling is Picton’s songwriting. He and Greep exchange vocals, singing about their escape and a captain losing his mind.
“Three long nights in the pits they called hell
Captain’s food got me sick and oh, so sleepy
I love you, but I can feel my chest bubbling
Oh, so heavy and then, oh, so light
As we ran, arm in arm, from the burning crater
Captain’s screams echo:
‘You fucking faggots ain’t seen the last of me yet
I’ll have the last laugh, you cunts, soon you’ll see
Each day you wake, and each night you sleep
I’ll be tight in your chests, burning! Burning!’
But we kept running, turned our backs on our hell
With wine in our hearts and the saviours of you!”
Wacky, wild, yet weirdly wonderful.
Art Moore – “A Different Life” (Oakland, USA)
RIYL: Boy Scouts, Fazerdaze, Jay Som
We end today’s music selection on a hazy high. The song, “A Different Life”, comes from a band who may not be a household name, but they have the backing of one of indie’s best labels. They are Art Moore, who consist of Taylor Vick (best known as the songwriter behind Boy Scouts), Sam Durkes, and Trevor Brooks. The three are creating some of the most stunning dream-pop today, and their latest single is just a sample of their exquisite art.
Each instrument is patiently executed, allowing every note to breathe and fill the air with a little wonder and bedazzlement. It all feels like we’re floating through the clouds and looking down at the activity that buzzes below. For Vick, however, she wants to look inside the mind of another and understand if they see the same things. If they share the same dreams and if they are truly the same.
In the distance, as far as I could see
Still pushing through, different versions of me
And in the spotlight, you were shining
Will I forever be reaching for a dream?
No longer is it weighing on my mind
If you would open up what would I find
I hate the stage but that’s where you would shine
Well in my dreams I live a different life”
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