The Matinee ’22 v. 101 edition is dedicated to musical cult heroes, some of whom have already achieved this status and others well on their way to amassing a huge following. They do this by creating music that goes beyond the usual formulas and writing lyrics that challenge us.
These ten songs also are included on the Songs of August 2022 playlist. Just a reminder to follow it on Spotify or SoundCloud because we’ll be off for a month, starting the end of next week. We plan to still share music on those platforms.
Sister Wives – “Greater Place” (Sheffield, England)
RIYL: Sleater-Kinney, Veruca Salt, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Much of northern European mythology consists of extraordinary creatures that roam mysterious realms. Trolls, elves, griffins, dragons, goblins, wolves or hounds, and, of course, giants. While we may never see these entities in our lifetime, that does not mean they are make-believe. They may not be in physical form, but people can adopt the traits of these mythical beasts and beings. Take for instance Sister Wives, whose forthcoming, debut album, Y Gawres, is Welsh for “The Giantess”. In Welsh mythology, female giants were rarely mentioned, but the quartet of Donna Lee (vocals, keys, synths), Rose Love (vocals, bass), Liv Willars (vocals, guitar), Lisa O‘Hara (vocals, drums) are about to change this very soon. And it all starts with “Greater Place”.
The lead single from the LP takes riot grrrl to electrifying heights. It’s gritty, synthy, edgy, and simply awesome, particularly how the snarls of the over-driven guitar wrap around the proggy synths. Meanwhile, Lee’s vocals are nearly deadpan, almost zombie-like, and they provide the perfect approach to what at the time seemed to be an unreal situation. Today, however, it is an all-too-familiar story of re-living the same day over and over again as a virus halts life on the outside. But for Lee, this surrealism has its benefits: more time with her newborn child and learning to find joy within the bleakness. This is how Sister Wives embrace the traits of giants – seeing things that the ordinary people cannot while also displaying extra-human strength.
The band’s debut album, Y Gawres, will be released October 28th via Libertino Records. Pre-order it at the label’s store or Bandcamp. Do not be surprised if the foursome become musical giants in the UK and beyond very soon.
Housewife – “I’m Spent” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Soccer Mommy, Fazerdaze, Lush
Even when they were teenagers and were known as Moscow Apartment, Brighid Fry (she/her) and Pascale Padilla (they/she) knew how to craft a terrific song. At the time that “Orange” was released, they were on the fast track to be one of Canada’s great folk-pop bands. But like every teenager, they wanted to expand their horizons as they matured. This growth also meant changing their name to Housewife.
Their first two songs under the new moniker – “Patrick Bateman” and “Bones (God Like You)” – were vibrant, more widescreen dream-pop. One thing, however, did not change and that is the duo’s songwriting. When you think about this for a minute, the now 19- and 2o-year old artists displayed the lyrical aptitude of songwriters twice their age. The Toronto-based duo continue the trend of seeking new sounds while writing poignant lines on “I’m Spent”.
Housewife’s newest single is taken right out of the ’90s. With its blustery dream-pop vibes, the pair’s stirring vocals, and a story of a fading friendship, the track could be on the soundtracks of Clueless, Reality Bites, and Mean Girls. If the song was released 25 to 30 years ago, who knows what the band could have achieved. They undoubtedly would be cult indie heroes a là Toad the Wet Sprocket and Gin Blossoms. And they still could very well be this generation’s cult favorites because they have time clearly on their side. Because they tell tales we can relate to and want to sing at the top of our lungs.
The single is out on Hazel Street Records. We hope that an announcement concerning a new album is coming soon.
Frankie Cosmos – “One Year Stand” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Soccer Mommy, Gabby’s World, Florist
There is no other songwriter quite like Greta Kline. At one time, describing Frankie Cosmos‘ songs as “jingles”, their short run times made it easy to replay over and over. It also allowed Kline to release a lot of music, amassing over 50 releases on her Bandcamp. During the pandemic, that output was seemingly amplified. Working on a new record, Kline wrote over a hundred songs. Fifteen of them make up the next Frankie Cosmos record, Inner World Peace, which is due out October 21st. The record features the usual Frankie Cosmos crew of Kline (vocals, guitar), Alex Bailey (bass, guitar), Lauren Martin (keys, vocals), and Luke Pyenson (drummer), and it was produced by Nate Mendelsohn and Katie Von Schleicher at Figure 8 Recording in Brooklyn.
The first single from Inner World Peace is the dreamy “One Year Stand”. The song brings a perspective that being inactive for an extended period of time only can. Kline asks herself, “Do you miss that reckless life?”. Those words are accompanied by some layered harmonies over some wonderful hushed drum work, understated guitar, and occasional keys. It sounds different from what would be expected from a Frankie Cosmos track, but also it feels incredibly familiar and welcoming. The band has come a long way since the bedroom recordings, but that unmistakable wit in Kline’s lyricism is still there and all the way to the final lines.
“That’s okay, god
loves me, target
loves me, gap loves
me, you will be
you’ll buy new friends!”
Will Sheff – “Estrangement Zone” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: Okkervil River, Shearwater, The Antlers
Little did fans know at the time that Silver Gymnasium (one of the great albums of the 21st Century) was released in 2013, Okkervil River the band would change. Working and living together nearly endlessly for fifteen years will do that, and many of the original members decided to pursue new projects within and away from music. Front-man and co-founder Will Sheff, however, stuck around, and he continued to release music under the band’s name, which included 2016’s Away and 2018’s In the Rainbow Rain.
Whether wanting to start anew and/or the realisation that this was now his solo project, Sheff for the time being has retired the Okkervil River brand and is now using his own name. While this change represents a big step, it has not altered the thoughtfulness of Sheff’s music. If anything, it might have become grander, assuming “Estrangement Zone” is a sign of things to come.
Sheff’s “debut solo single” is a hauntingly, beautiful number. The patient delivery, which is accentuated by each element being elongated by a half-second, alongside Sheff’s mournful vocal give the song a dystopian quality, as if we are idly walking through a world shrouded in a dusty haze. His lyrics, too, paint a surreal picture. He sings about his childhood dreams to be a rock star, but they are shattered when he gets to be just that. It’s not all fun and games, good times and non-stop parties. The work is hard, the hours and travel arduous, and the constant questioning of whether one still has “it” lingers everyday. This is the “Estrangement Zone”, which is inescapable for an individual attempting to stay true to his art. The song, however, is not just autobiographical, but it also sounds like a tribute to all those who once made up Okkervil River.
Tropical Fuck Storm – “Ann” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Rubblebucket + King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard + Fuzz + The Stooges
Even the most casual follower of Tropical Fuck Storm knows that Gareth Liddiard, Fiona Kitschin, Lauren Hammel, and Erica Dunn are unpredictable. Their refusal to play by the “music rulebook” has made them – as the theme of this Matinee edition says – cult heroes. It’s not just in the songs the quartet release, but they also take their older songs and turn them on their heads when performing live. So something familiar is transformed into a piece of usually bizarre and often extraordinary music. The Melbourne-based outfit apply this methodology on their latest single, “Ann”, which is a cover of a song from The Stooges.
As legendary as The Stooges are, they probably wish they could have made “Ann” the way TFS have. This rendition is mind-blowingly wild and epic. The first half stays true to the original – methodical, melodic, and a touch trippy. Having Kitschin and Hammel singing, however, gives the tune some much-needed intimacy. And then as the words “And I love you” are uttered, the song completely transforms into a wall of searing and eardrum-shattering noise. For a solid 90 seconds, TFS deliver unbridled intensity. And it is – how shall we say it? – awesome. Just awesome.
We probably will be repeatedly uttering this adjective on August 26th. This is when TFS’s new EP, Moonburn, lands via their own TFS Records and Joyful Noise Recordings. Pre-order it on Bandcamp and get the cassette version at JNR’s online store.
STONE – “Waste” (Liverpool, England)
RIYL: Eagulls, Iceage, Kid Kapichi
We’re a little late in getting on STONE‘s bandwagon, as the four Liverpudlians have quickly established themselves as stalwarts within the UK indie-rock and post-punk scenes. Their live shows are already considered legendary due to the sweat-inducing intensity and adrenaline-like propulsion of their music. It is like Fin Power (vocals, guitar), Sarah Surrage (bass), Elliot Gill (lead guitar), and Alex Smith (drums) are on a mission to completely blow people’s minds when given the opportunity. We don’t need to see them live to understand the explosive power they possess. All we need to do is listen to their songs to comprehend, although “Waste” is a solid place to start.
Released a couple of weeks ago, this number escaped our radar but we finally caught it. Better late than never right? Like all great songs, “Waste” is ageless. It is a primal and jarring piece of post-punk and alt-rock that will get you out of your chair. The blistering guitars, the volatile drum line, and the piercing pulses of the bass will get you fired up and ready to face your demons in the eye. Power’s roaring vocal and heavy-hitting lyrics, meanwhile, will help us take them down. His story of a disenfranchised man with a frustrating childhood is terrific, as he gives insight as to what motivates people to do the unexpected.
“You probably hate me but what can I say
I’m a hateable guy who loves to play the game
I wanna be noticed, I don’t care if it hurt
I’m the devil incarnate I just want to be transferred
Then I realise
Sat at the bar
Speaking to the bartender
I need some help
I think I’m going under
I’m losing my mind it’s a matter of taste just so you know…
I am waste”
STONE recently signed with Polydor Records, whose task is to assist these cult heroes become global sensations.
Anna Tivel – “The Dial” (Portland, USA)
RIYL: Feist, The Weather Station, Faye Webster
Anna Tivel‘s ability to transport listeners into the worlds of her songs is unparalleled. It’s something that can be heard on her recent releases, “Outsiders” and “Black Umbrella”. From a song inspired by the moon landing to a story of a botched bank robbery, Tivel effortlessly draws listeners in to tell her stories.
On her latest single, “The Dial”, Anna Tivel continues to immerse listeners in her art. It is a folky stomper on the surface with some great guitar twang and reverb drums, but everything is executed with an intentional lo-fi quality, which adds to the track’s aesthetic. Every once in a while, Tivel’s voice emerges from beneath itself, breathing life into the track. Lyrically, Tivel was inspired by a late-tour car drive, using the moments on the road to reflect and get perspective. “The Dial” perfectly captures those moments for a small touring musician.
“And state line comes again, I pass through flying
Got to keep on top of it, it’s almost night
The gas station hopping and the motel light
Flicking on and off again, a flare before me
And it just keeps turning around
Feedback burning in a dark blue sky
The theater curtains and the bar crowd forming
Sweat on the microphone, I lean back blind
In a state of unraveling a stolen story”
Gordi – “Stranger” & “Visitor” (Los Angeles via Sydney / Canowindra, Australia)
RIYL: Phoebe Bridgers, S. Carey, Justin Vernon
As an emergency doctor that worked long hours during COVID to assisting with the wildfires that hit Australia two years ago to the music she’s released as Gordi, one thing we’ll never question about Sophie Payten is her humanity. And yet on her forthcoming EP, INHUMAN, she examines whether all the trauma and devastation she’s witnessed has made her immune to feeling sadness, pain, and hurt. The words Payten has conveyed in “Way I Go” and “Inhuman” are immensely raw and honest. They depict not a person who is out-of-touch with humanity, but who may be more human than any of us. This conflict, however, is one she recounts on her two latest songs, “Stranger” and “Visitor”.
On the former, Payten turns more towards Phoebe Bridgers-like alt-folk, setting aside the folktronica that occupied her previous albums. The song, however, is still very much Gordi, as her swelling voice fills each crevice left by the acoustic guitar and the diligent percussion. And as is always the case, she poignantly reveals her heart and sole:
“I was a stranger to someone who knew me
Though they could recognise my face
Couldn’t escape to all my dreaming
So left my body in the waste
But I’ve been thinking about you, stranger
Kept on looking for some room to spare
Found a dozen others buried there
Asked for logic from the unsneering they said I should know
There are other ways for me to go”
On “Visitor”, she turns to her piano and orchestrates a lovely, sweep-you-off-your-feet ballad. The song is filled with breathtaking moments, but the words have a knee-buckling effect. Payten shares a journey of returning to familiar roads, neighborhoods, and people, but this place is no longer home. She has become detached from this reality.
“I’ve forgotten how to leave
How to thread these worn-out seams
Reattach all of my parts
Is it longing
Is it need
Has it come to collect me
Where will you start
I’m a visitor here”
Joyeria – “Colour Film” (London, England via Canada)
RIYL: Cola, Ought, Pavement
Even with only a couple of tracks out at the moment, Joyeria should be on everyone’s radar. Covering a wide range of emotion, both “Wild Joy” and “Here Comes Trouble” feature an intelligent, observational lyricism that’s impossible to not immediately be drawn towards.
Joyeria takes what was so appealing about those first two tracks and amplifies them on “Colour Film”. Some gritty guitar and a scream kick things off. As the gritty guitar fuzz permeates throughout the track, Joyeria’s perfectly strange voice adds to the song’s trippy vibes. The song is about the mundane, the routine, but Joyeria embraces the idea of celebrating for no reason. It’s a fantastic showcase of the Canadian’s witty lyricism, especially when he sings about getting cold calls. Imparting that wisdom before the song explodes into a huge guitar roar.
“I sit around and wait for cold calls
they fill me up with empty promises
at least they’re honest with me about my plan
and that I overpaid
I celebrate anyway for no reason”
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