From dreams to hopes, from enduring past struggles to grabbing hold of opportunities, from moments of solitude to finding strength in numbers, The Matinee ’22 v. 087 offers nine contemplative songs to end the week.

After spinning these tunes, spend the weekend with the Songs of July 2022 playlist, which can be spun on Spotify or SoundCloud.

 

Alvvays – “Pharmacist” (Toronto, Canada)

RIYL: Dream-pop / Shoegaze from one of the best bands of the last 10 years

Five years have passed since dream-pop greats Alvvays graced us with Antisocialites, which was one of our Favorite Albums of 2017. The hiatus was unexpected as the Toronto-based outfit had established themselves as one of the preeminent bands on the planet, achieving popularity both with mainstream and indie audiences and landing plum festival spots.

With a half-decade gone, changes are bound to happen, especially with a pandemic interrupting lives for more than two years. Bassist Brian Murphy and drummer Phil MacIsaac have left while Abbey Blackwell and Sheridan Riley respectively have replaced them, joining original members Molly Rankin, Alec O’Hanley, and Kerri MacLellan. Despite the lineup change, Alvvays’ trademark, blustery dream-pop remains on “Pharmacist”.

The energy and shimmering shoegaze heard on “Archie, Marry Me” and “Plimsoll Punks” are recaptured on the band’s latest single. Magnificent, gauzy guitars erupt over top a terrific, jittery rhythm section and glistening keys, and together they wrap around Rankin’s familiar voice. There is a sincere and vulnerable quality to Rankin’s delivery, as she looks back to her youth and days of blissful innocence. Life was so simple then, but she took it for granted. Now, she, like us, yearns for those days.   

“We volunteered
Local centre off the highway
Nicorette
Those paths have grown in now
Velvet fall
An assistant to the way life’s shaking out
Those girls are older now

You know it happens all the time, it’s alright
I hear it happens all the time, it’s all right
I know I never crossed your mind”

Alvvays’ third album, BlueRev, arrives on September 1st via Polyvinyl Records. Pre-orders available here and on Bandcamp.

The quintet consists of Molly Rankin (vocals, guitar), Alec O’Hanley (guitar), Kerri MacLellan (keys), Abbey Blackwell (bass), and Sheridan Riley (drums).

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Humour – “yeah, mud!” (Glasgow, Scotland)

RIYL: wacky art-punk that feels like one crazy ride

Two years ago, post-punk reigned, and its renaissance came at a time of great upheaval. We don’t think that’s a coincidence nor that 2022 belongs to art-punk. Strange times call for music that reflects the pandemonium that exists day to day. Look no further than what the UK has experienced since 2016, where chaos is part of its daily fabric. It’s not surprising, as such, that art-punk’s rise is being led by bands from across Great Britain, and a “new-ish” band emerges and soon will be mentioned in the same breath as Black Midi, Squid, and Black Country, New Road.

Humour is their name, but Ruairidh Smith (drums), Lewis Doig (bass), Ross Patrizio (guitar), Jack Lyall (guitar), and Andreas Christodoulidis (vocals) are no joke. These five, young Glaswegians are the real deal as their debut single, “yeah, mud!”, is an off-kilter, propulsive piece of sonic and lyrical genius. It is turbulent in its effect, pulsing and chiming at times and unexpectedly pausing at different points. The non-linear, non-formulaic approach adds to Christodoulidis’ surreal story, which seems to be set during the Russian Revolution and how a group of people (Cossacks) fled for their lives. This tale, though, seems so real and present. We don’t have to look too far to realize that history is repeating itself. 

“Them Cossack steeds, baptised in gunfire,
man they look good,
Tearing through the dark of half past two,
their ribs showing.
My Cossack breed, half-blind and
gun-shy, man he looks good,
Sleeping on his feet like horses do,
his ribs showing.

Pulled him by the strap so he tumbled in
beside us,
Head volleyed over hoofs in a dead dark
crevice,
Yeah, mud!”

The single is out on So Young Records. This is a band to watch in the weeks, months, and years to come. 

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Kóboykex – “Cake” (Faroe Islands)

RIYL: spacey Americana that offers a bit of hope

In the age of the internet, where one resides is no longer a factor in music. All that matters now is creating something that perks up ears, raises eyebrows, and touches something deep inside all of us. This is what Faroe Islands duo Kóboykex have done with “Cake”.

Sigmund Zachariassen and Heiðrik á Heygum, the masterminds behind Kóboykex, deliver a stunning piece of cosmic Americana. Flashes of Spiritualized’s otherworldly qualities echo in the track, but at its heart lies the endearing intimacy of Phosphorescent. As the acoustic guitar delicately glides through the light electronic pulses, the duo warmly sing about togetherness. That despite our differences, we are still all human at heart, and, thus, we must and should support one another and everyone. Listening closely to their words and one may just find a bit of hope in the future.  

Like we said, music has no boundaries when it is made as emotionally and meaningful as this.

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Florist – “Feathers” (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: soft-spoken indie folk that warms the heart

There’s a comforting warmth that radiates from most of Emily Sprague’s music. Whether it’s her experimental analog synth music or the sounds of Florist, Sprague’s output is inviting in ways few songwriters achieve. Those qualities are heard on all of the songs released from Florist’s upcoming, self-titled LP: “Red Bird Part 2 (Morning)”“Spring in Hours”, and “Sci-Fi Silence”

The latest single, “Feathers”, may be the most inviting of all. Starting in a very lo-fi way with ambient background noise, footsteps, and someone inhaling. Little distortion, however, affects her voice and guitar. That soon all breaks to reveal a beautifully produced track. Sprague’s voice is crystal clear over acoustic guitar, pedal steel, and a fantastic bass line. Understated percussion add to the vibe as well. Like some of the earlier songs, Sprague describes “Feathers” as “a meditation on the cycles we follow all throughout our lives”. 

“Someone told me once, ‘You better not let this pass”
Sometimes I think I have too many pasts

So what do you think
Should we just be here on the land listening to the sounds of life around us pass

Careful not to tread on anything needing rest”

The songs already released from Florist echo Sprague’s sentiment that this is not just her solo project, and why after an album as personal as Emily Alone it’s important to embrace those who also make up the band. They are Emily Sprague, Jonnie Baker, Rick Spataro, and Felix Walworth.

Florist is due July 29th via Double Double Whammy. Pre-orders available at the label’s store and on Bandcamp.

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Laura Lang – “Black Sedan” (Memphis, USA)

RIYL: a 16-year old artist who delivers several surprises

Let’s be honest, when hearing a song from a 16-year old, the expectation is that the track will follow a familiar formula and cover a common theme. And there’s nothing wrong with that if the execution is perfect and the songwriting outstanding. Laura Lang, however, is no ordinary teenager. She could try to be the next Taylor Swift, Pink, or Olivia Rodrigo, but she does not. Instead, Lang is carving out her own niche by writing songs that do not fall within a single genre nor sound like any one specific artist. If the Nashville-based artist continues down this direction with “Black Sedan” as the lead horse, she will become a household name.

At first, “Black Sedan” sounds like an intimate folk-pop number with a mandolin being plucked with Andrew Bird-like execution. Drums, guitar, and bass then arrive, adding a sultry, summer evening vibe to it. Slowly, the song progresses with Lang sharing her deepest thoughts and emotions – she seeks to reclaim herself and prove she can exist without the person who has left her. While she could stay in this dreamy spot, the number transforms into a gritty rocker. The electric guitar erupts and the rhythms get heavier, and they elevate the emotions of the young artist’s words. 

“Drive away without saying good-bye
Here I’ll stay
Wandering why
Drive away without saying good-bye

Here I’ll stay
Wandering why”

Great tune from an artist to watch. 

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Tommy Newport – “Tongue & Cheek” (Kansas via Manchester, England)

RIYL: a summertime tune that will put a smile on your face

Let’s add some warmth and energy to this July day with a song whose title perfectly describes its effect. That is, “Tongue & Cheek” is, well, a little cheeky ditty that will make you think you’re outside and basking under the bright, hot, summertime sunshine. 

For those who follow Oliver Milmine’s project Tommy Newport already know what the Manchester-born / Kansas-raised singer-songwriter is capable of achieving. With a jittery, pop-rock approach akin to Oscar Lang and Sam Fender, this tune is perfect for skipping in the park, running along the beach, or just strutting around the neighborhood with a big smile on your face. The melody is warm and uplifting, as are Milmine’s lyrics.

He speaks about how he’ll be o.k. even if his companion goes in a different direction, including leaving town. Milmine has this belief because he’s confident in the strength of their relationship as well as in his own independence. His philosophy, after all, is that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Or make a tune that will lift people’s spirits. 

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Bells Larsen – “People Who Mean So Much to Me” (Toronto, Canada)

RIYL: a song of growth, tenderness, and togetherness with a touch of hope

Less than a month ago, Bells Larsen blew us away with “Double Aquarius”. Their songwriting jumped out at us the moment we first heard that debut single. Their ability to create vivid imagery with their words, referencing things from Sufjan Stevens to Glee, there was an inherent relatability to every moment Larsen describes. 

That songwriting hits even harder on “People Who Mean So Much to Me”. Where their debut single was more of an introspective song, “People Who Mean So Much to Me” tells the stories of people they have met and never met. Singing of a favorite patron at a bar or hearing a songwriter for the first time, “People Who Mean So Much to Me” is about how moments and connections like that can be so moving. It’s about how those connections will continue to be made as long as we’re on this planet. The song ends with an incredibly moving story about trying to help a student with words, originally as a songwriter, but becoming much more than that;

“Once a week I meet with a kid
And teach him how to write songs
Today he told me he was gay
And wants to come out to his mom

He asked me if I’d help him
String together some words
That might allude to the fact
That he won’t grow up to marry a girl

What a powerful thing to tell the world who you love
Especially when you’re fourteen and the world is your mom
When I was his age I was consumed by the same thing
If only I’d have known him then, together we would sing

Isn’t it lovely to think I’ll keep meeting people
Who mean so much to me”

Larsen’s new album, Good Grief, is out September 1st via Next Door Records. Pre-saves and pre-orders available at these links and on Bandcamp.

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Rat Tally – “Longshot” (Chicago, USA)

RIYL: Addy Harris says it best, “sad music for sad people, or happy people, or whoever.”

Only a couple of weeks ago, Rat Tally released the first single from her upcoming debut record, In My Car, the fantastic “Spinning Wheel”. It’s a song that made us draw comparisons between frontwoman Addy Harris and other sad indie songwriters like Sophie Allison or Lindsey Jordan. But It also felt like a refreshing jolt of energy to a genre that’s become so loaded with talented songwriters. 

Harris once again injects that energy into their her latest single, “Longshot”. When Harris wrote the track, she targeted a “big stadium rock vibe” that can be felt through the track’s huge sound. It starts out unassuming, just Harris’ voice, but quickly explodes with grungy guitars, heavy hitting drums, and some huge harmonies. The wall of sound concedes for a brief moment for chiming guitar and a focus on Harris’ voice once more, before it all comes back in in a big, big way. Each ebb and flow add to the feelings of anxiety that echo through the song’s lyrics. Those grunge-infused chords from earlier lay the groundwork for a great little solo to close everything out. 

“Got bored of the show
So I went home to look at the walls
And catch my thoughts but they’re all multiplying
Like dust kicked off from the floor
They spiral out and under the door
Then float up and start to stick to the ceiling”

“Longshot” will be on Rat Tally’s debut album, In My Car, is out August 12th on 6131 Records. Pre-order it at Bandcamp. The record will also include appearances from Melina Duterte (Jay Som) and Madeline Kenney.

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Phoebe Go – “The Kid” (Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: a young singer-songwriter who wears her emotions on her sleeves

Phoebe Lou’s project Phoebe Go left a great first impression in May when she released  “We Don’t Talk”. The gorgeous single struck deep in a way that made us think Lou may be the next great songwriter to come out of Melbourne. It was her first solo venture, but Lou has been in the scene for a while, fronting Snakadaktal and Two People. 

The latest Phoebe Go single, “The Kid”, is just as much of a jaw-dropper as her debut. Its opening moments feature delicately finger-picked guitar and showcases Lou’s dreamy voice. As more instruments join, the song slowly grows into an absolute stunner. It’s such an easy track to get lost in, from its harmonies, its inviting guitar work, and its powerful lyrics. Like “We Don’t Talk”, “The Kid” is about the impact of words, even the internal ones.

“I got a handful of hope
But the voice in my head
Is still tying me up
With every word unsaid

I wanna hand it to ya
But my lace caught on the fence
Was it more than
Just a loose end”

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