The Matinee ’22 v. 085 kicks off July with an all-women affair with each of the eight songs from female singer-songwriters or female-fronted bands. The tracks range from intimate and moving ballads to rising synth-based numbers and driving rockers.
These tunes also kick off the Songs of July playlist. Give it a follow on Spotify or SoundCloud to stay up-to-date on the tunes that captured our ears and imagination over the remaining 30 days. Happy Canada everyone!
Elissa Mielke – “Paper Moth Flame” (Los Angeles, USA via Dundas, ON Canada)
RIYL: Wet, Fenne Lily, Sarah McLachlan
We still remember writing about Elissa Mielke way back in 2015. At the time, she was known just as Mieke, and she blew us away with her self-titled debut EP. The record was liberating for the Ontario native, as it was released shortly after she terminated her contract with a major label. Think about that for a moment – a young woman who could become an overnight superstar and have endless fame and fortune if she agreed to be mould into another commercial-pop singer but she refused. Mielke instead chose to create music that moved listeners as well as herself. This decision led her down a different path, where she found two labels that cherish artists and their talent: Slashie and Mom+Pop Music. Now it’s time for the rest of the world to do likewise.
Through the intimate and endearing approach that largely just features Mielke’s gorgeous voice and a solemn piano arrangement, “Paper Moth Flame” is simply beautiful. It’s the type of song that leaves people in silence, completely captivated by the delicate notes emanating from the baby grand and the angelic voice. We also become lost within Mielke’s words. From the start, she describes a familiar image when she sings, “I’m a paper, you’re a moth to flame”. But these words are more than they appear, and we quickly understand the analogy she has painted.
“Did you say you were a gentleman?
I know I am but feels like you pretend to
I go through the storm until the end
How about you?”
I can’t be what you want me to
Feed your ego like the others do
Even if part of me wanted to she’s too strong now”
Stardom awaits this gifted artist. It’s only a matter of time.
The video for the song is available on YouTube and worth watching. Afterwords, mark August 26th on your calendars. That is when Slashie and Mom + Pop Music will release Mielke’s new EP, Mouse. Pre-orders are available here and on Bandcamp.
Maya Hawke – “Thérèse” (New York City / Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Basia Bulat, Hand Habits, Gordi
Speaking of stars, today Maya Hawke does not need any introduction. As Robin Buckley on Stranger Things, people recognize the name and the face. But do they recognize the voice when it is set to music? This other side to Hawke’s endless abilities is still relatively unknown to most people and is why we listed her as an Artist to Watch for 2022. We also included her on the list with anticipation that her sophomore album will be released this year. After all, two years have passed since she released her marvelous debut album, Blush, which was like listening to Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan in their early years. Sure enough, Hawke shared the news that Moss will be released September 23rd on Mom+Pop Music. Accompanying the announcement is the striking “Thérèse”.
Despite her youth, Hawke is a throwback – a singer-songwriter and storyteller who allows her words to steal our imaginations and attention. On her newest single, her work with pen and paper once again stars. Through a lovely, dreamy approach that is part minstrel fable and 2010 folktronica (somewhere Justin Vernon is nodding in approval), Hawke sings about a young woman named Thérèse. She is a daydreamer, a wisher, and a person who empathizes with the rest of the world. At the same time, she is not her own person, where everyone tries to control her.
“She reminds me of memories.
Sleeping off the growing pains.
When we were sea anemones,
And spelling out each others names.
Whispering inside my red house,
While the adults were asleeping.
I guess Thérèse is just for me.
A quiet I keep on keeping.
Thérèse does not belong to you
The horses cars and cowboys do”
BATTS – “Call It What It Is” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: The Weather Station, Leif Vollebekk, Sharon Van Etten
When Tanya Batt – or just BATTS – released “Blue”, which featured the incomparable Sharon Van Etten, back in April, we had an inkling that a bigger announcement was coming. Sure enough, yesterday, the Australian singer-songwriter shared that her sophomore album, The Nightline, will be released digitally on September 14th with the vinyl out on October 14th. “Blue” will be on it, but how does Batt or any artist follow up on a song-of-the-year candidate? Easy answer: you share a single that is equally stunning.
Batt’s rich and powerful voice is front and center on the emotional ballad “Call It What It Is”. With the pulsing piano and drums setting the intimate mood at the start and the drama gradually escalating when a guitar, a bass, and some ambient synth join, Batt calmly reflects on her situation and how she feels trapped. She is suffocating within herself and the ever-present spirit of another. She is fighting to breathe and find finality, which she vulnerably describes:
“Everything hurts on the outside
But there’s no point talking about it
There’s no point talking at all
Cause’ everyone’s breathing different air to what I breathe
I feel like I’m not breathing at all
Just call it what it is (x4)
I write down my feelings and I burn them
I wish I could show you how I feel
Seems I’m incapable in relaying what is real
Why can’t I talk about it
Why can’t you talk about it”
Another stunning output from an under-the-radar gem. Support BATTS by pre-ordering The Nightline on Bandcamp.
Royal Blush – “Cherry Cola” (Jersey City, USA)
RIYL: Wolf Alice, The Big Moon, The Jezabels
Our introduction to Royal Blush was nearly a year ago when they shared the made-for-road-trips single, “Roll the Dice”. That tune remains a must-have this year as we begin our summer adventures. To help us further prepare for the wide-open roads that lie ahead in the comings days and weeks, the Jersey City outfit not only deliver an ear-worm melody but also share a tale about two people who were constantly on the run.
At first, “Cherry Cola” sounds like it’s going to be an electro-pop banger, but it eases into a breezy and inviting dream-pop vibe. The switch that happens within the first thirty seconds is chest-swelling in its effect, and this is the point when the adventure takes off. For the next three minutes, Royal Blush take us over hills and down into valleys, where each corner reveals another moment that is either breathtaking or exhilarating. Like this twisting journey, Allison Heckart’s lyrics tells the story of Bonnie and Clyde – or a couple who is similarly on the run. It is them against the world, living a life that others frown upon but for them represents their desire to live their lives to the fullest.
“They want us to serve time
I set me free
Hello to the land of treasure
Get out, burn those red lights
I wanna run, why would we hide
Kiss us goodbye
Out on the highway there’s a moon bright beaming”
Royal Blush are: Allison Heckart (vocals), Andrew Merclean (guitar), Matt Quinones (bass), Josh Barsch (drums), and Chris Gennone (production). Expect them to perform in numerous NYC-area venues in the very near future.
Robin Kester – “Cat 13” (Rotterdam, Netherlands)
RIYL: Ada Lea, Skullcrusher, Bedouine
When Robin Kester released “Leave Now” in April, we were swept away by the song’s restrained beauty and the Dutch artist’s poignant songwriting. Since then, she’s been firmly on our radar because, as we said at the time, she’s a star in the making. Few artists can make melancholy sound simultaneously intimate and widescreen, but Kester does this once again on “Cat 13”.
Dreamy, breezy, and spellbinding, the song equally could be played in our own bedrooms or serve as the mood setter in a Charlie Kaufman film (think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Each instrument is gently executed to give the track its lush and immersive quality, and they provide the pillowy foundation for Kester’s beautiful, feathery vocal. The combination yields a feeling that we are experiencing the most dazzling hallucination, and in many ways we are. Kester’s lyrics are both vivid and surreal, as she describes how her world is like living inside a prism that is full of distorted images and colors.
“Back to the wall
Until the crowd is tame
Try to give in
Or you won’t last a day
I’ll be waiting in the car
I’m watching the cat in the mirror
This stunning single is out on At Ease, a boutique label dedicated to showcasing the Netherlands’ hidden gems.
Momma – “Motorbike” (Brooklyn via Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Ratboys, Girlpool, Amy Shark
Today, one of the best albums of the first half of 2022 is released to the world, and that is Momma‘s Household Names. The LP is a blast from the past. Literally, Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten have reintroduced and revived the grunge and grunge-pop of the ’90s and ’00s, which they demonstrated over the past couple of months with “Speeding 72” and “Lucky”. And if you need further convincing to click these links and head to Bandcamp to pick up the album, then spin “Motorbike” because this tune will have you scurrying to find your wallet.
A gauzy guitar welcomes us into the duo’s retro world. Like the album’s previously released tunes, “Motorbike” is another grizzled, rocking joyride. But instead of the claustrophobic streets of the urban streets, this tune is made for the vast expanses of the America’s heartland and the twisting landscapes of the coast. It’s made for open highways and winding roads, where liberation awaits us. The duo’s lyrics, too, are one focused on adventure with that special someone or your best friend.
Let the neighbors hear the sound
You can take me anywhere you like
Your motorbike will wake up this whole town
For one night
Baby we could disappear
You told me if I’m down to ride
Your motorbike will take us away from here”
Sloan Rivers – “Burn Down” (Portland, USA)
RIYL: LUMP, Tears for Fears, Katie Von Schleicher
With the way things are now, bands with an origin story like Sloan Rivers are bound to become more common. Two immensely talented musicians and songwriters – Jessica Boudreaux of Summer Cannibals and Rebecca Ryskalczyk of Bethlehem Steel – have collaborated on this new project exclusively through Zoom. In an Instagram post, Ryskalczyk states the two have never met in person. However, listening to their first single, “Burn Down”, you’d think the duo have been recording music together for years, or at least in the same room.
“Burn Down” is a very synth-heavy, darkwave single. Bouncy bass synth lays the foundation for the track’s retro-futuristic vibes. The vocals are fantastic as well, hitting some really impactful heights. Lyrically, the song is immensely relatable today for anyone frustrated with the world. It’s about wanting to burn the world around us while those in power watch as things are rebuilt from the ashes. For those familiar with the work of Boudreaux and Ryskalczyk, it’s a very different sound, but that doesn’t take away one bit from their songwriting.
“I WANNA THROW OUT THEIR VACANCY
AND BUILD IT BACK FROM THE GROUND
I WONDER THEY FEEL ANYTHING
WATCHING IT ALL BURN DOWN”
You can check out the single here.
Faye – “No Vibes” (Charlotte, NC, USA)
RIYL: Diet Cig, Summer Cannibals, All Dogs
In 2016, Faye released a great, short self-titled EP. It’s hard to truly fit it inside of one genre. At times, it was punk at its core. Sometimes it got jammy and dreamy. The collision of so many styles made it such an easy listen. Six years later, the duo of bassist Sarah Blumenthal and guitarist Susan Plante have added drummer Thomas Berkau to the mix, and they’re finally gearing up to release their debut full-length record, You’re Better.
The first single Faye have shared from the LP is the fast paced “No Vibes”. Those punk rock roots are on full display, from its chugging bassline to some fantastic drumming. Simple guitar leads combine with a really powerful vocal performance, making “No Vibes” pack quite a punch. The band says the song “was written on an actual sunny Sunday afternoon spent questioning every decision ever made and every decision waiting to be made”. Those feelings and anxieties are amplified by the song’s breakneck pace.
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