The Matinee ’22 v. 103, which is Part 1 of 2 features, is the kick in the pants to get you ready for the week ahead. There are sizzlers, rockers, dark stunners, and retro stargazers.
More impressive tunes are featured on v. 104, which is here. Alternatively if you want to take a short cut, spin all 15 tracks on the Songs of August 2022 playlist. It is available on Spotify and SoundCloud.
Hans Pucket – “My Brain Is a Vacant Space” (Wellington, New Zealand)
RIYL: Vampire Weekend, The Thermals, Yeasayer
A little more than three years ago, a New Zealand indie favorite became overnight, global sensations, as The Beths won over fans and Carpark Records with their catchy pop-rock and Elizabeth Stokes’ clever and relatable songwriting. Fast-forward to 2022 and another Kiwi collective is set to repeat the trick thanks to Carpark once again stepping up. That band is Hans Pucket, who those within the Wellington music community have known about for at least seven years. Oliver Devlin, Callum Devlin, Jono Nott, and Callum Passells in many ways are similar to The Beths – creating guitar-driven music with witty and intelligent lyrics. Since the first time we saw them, the quartet remain unpredictable and diverse, whether firing up a psychedelic tune or, as shown on “My Brain Is a Vacant Space”, delivering infectious guitar-pop.
Reminiscent of the off-kilter dynamics of Vampire Weekend and The Thermals, Hans Pucket’s latest number is super slick and groovy. It’s an ear-worm that will stick in one’s mind for many hours if not days, and all the while having us smile and jerking our extremities in different directions. Despite the uplifting pop swells, Oliver’s lyrics (he sounds like a younger Ezra Koenig) depicts a young person struggling with self-confidence since throughout his life he’s been told he’s unworthy. His songwriting is, shall we say, Elizabeth Stokes-esque.
As long as I can hold a pose
I’m sore from standing like I was told
Aching like my battery’s low
There can’t be many seconds to go
As long as I can hold a pose
I’m sore from standing like I was told
You say that it’s my vanity’s fault
I’ve got nothing to be arrogant of
Grace me with your company please
I’ll listen to you speak all week
I want to have a different disease
Sports Team – “The Drop” (London, England)
RIYL: Opus Kink, Canshaker Pi, Pip Blom
When Sports Team emerged five years ago, they immediately established themselves as a band to watch – like literally, a band that had to be seen live to truly appreciate their music. Similar to their compatriots like Cabbage and Shame, the sextet leave everything on the stage. They’re usually covered in sweat after the second number because they want fans to become completely immersed in the performance. But understanding that not everyone can get to the UK to see them in concert, Sports Team ensure their songs are adrenaline-inducing, where the music streaming through our earphones get us moving and a shaking. They showcased their talents on the hip-shaking rock ‘n roller “R Entertainment”, and they amp up the energy, intensity, and fun on “The Drop”.
This tune is a barrel full of monkeys, where every element makes you want to dance, jump around, and just get frenetic. The booming horns, in particular, add an extra energy to this tune, essentially bringing Mardi Gras to London’s Denmark Street. No Sports Team track, however, is complete without Alex Rice’s wry songwriting. He sings about how we have raised to follow routines and endlessly work so that we eventually can retire. His lyrics might come across as a bit crass, but they’re bang on.
“So civilised, hey, I could be your monkey in a tie
(A tie, a tie, a tie)
So wash your hands of all these childish plans and let ’em die
(And die and die and die)
Oh, busy bee, why won’t you dance with me, is it the tie?
(The tie, the tie, the tie)
So kiss the ring and watch the jackals singing in a line
(A line, a line, a line)”
Sports Team are: Alex Rice (vocals), Rob Knaggs (guitar, vocals), Henry Young (lead guitar), Oli Dewdney (bass), Al Greenwood (drums), and Ben Mack (keys). Their new album, Gulp!, is out August 19th, and it’s available for pre-order on Bandcamp and these links via Universal Music Group.
Spielbergs – “New Year’s Resolution” (Oslo, Norway)
RIYL: Hüsker Dü, FIDLAR, Japandroids
For their more than half-decade as a band, The Spielbergs have never shied away from who they are. And they are a great rock band, who are doing their part to ensure guitar-driven music remains relevant. Mads Baklien (vocals, guitar), Stian Brennskag (bass), and Christian Løvhaug (drums) don’t hide this fact, which is why we’ve been long time friends. It certainly helps that their songs consistently give us the courage to step out the door and face the oncoming storm. In some ways, they are the best friends we never knew we had, offering that extra push forward, the shoulder to cry on, and the support to keep us from falling. The Norwegians demonstrated this on “Brother of Mine” and now the aptly titled “New Year’s Resolution”.
The Spielberg’s newest single is pure alt-rock bliss. A blast of sonic energy immediately welcomes us, as a surging, over-driven guitar and riotous rhythms explode off the start. Twenty second later, Baklien’s soaring vocal emerges, and he, too, sounds as urgent and propulsive as the instruments that swirl around him. His lyrics are words he has told a friend. They are a message that he won’t quit on their pal and will help her overcome the addiction that has consumed her. In this time of uncertainty, we need all the friends we can have. More importantly, we cannot leave our friends when they are at their lowest point, even when they have, as Baklien states, fucked up.
Dot Never – “Landfill” (London, England)
RIYL: Moderat, The Smile, Atoms for Peace
After mesmerizing us with “You Took Your Time” and “Drill”, we thought 2022 would be the year Dot Never would take the world by storm. As such, we named them Artists to Watch for this year. The London-based outfit, however, got a slower start to the year than expected. This should not be that surprising, however, since their music is extremely precise. They are not just creating another pop or rock tune nor taking samples from other songs to form the melody. There is a science to their creative process, which reveals itself on the quartet’s fifth song.
Made for quiet moments and dark places, “Landfill” is a piece of haunting beauty. Its opening is minimalist with just a light guitar riff and a trembling bass pulsing behind the falsetto of Calum Duncan, who is better known as the guitarist for ALASKALASKA. He slowly sings about the obsessions that consume our minds during times of solitude. As he poetically describes the moments, a guttural synth and jazz-like percussion emerge, sending the track to bleaker and more hypnotic places. Instead of fright and fear, however, the tune becomes a spectacle, where a haze envelopes our heads and our bodies begin to slightly sway and thrust. We are no longer prisoners to the thoughts that occupy our minds. Duncan’s words, “You fight but can’t resist”, perfectly describe the gravitational pull and brilliance of Dot Never.
The band consists of: Calum Duncan, Avi Barath, Jonny Coote, and Joss Brightwell.
hd hausmann – “home” (feat. Elle Wade) (London, England)
RIYL: Matt Berninger, Hamilton Leithauser, The National
Over a three-year period, The Matinee series could have been renamed the hd hausmann hour because Liam Palmer’s project was a frequent regular. Nearly four years have passed since we shared anything from Palmer, but that’s more on us than him. Palmer, though, has had some changes to his life, including his family expanding over the years. While many artists may get more sentimental and tone down their music to make it “appropriate” for their young children, this is not the fate the Londoner has chosen. Nope, he’s still going to rock out and make sure his songs can endure, so that when his kids are older they, too, can rock out and maybe fire up the guitar on songs like “home”.
After a grizzled, gauzy guitar unfurls at the beginning, Palmer’s soothing baritone takes over. With the same immersive power of The National’s Matt Berninger, he shares how nothing can substitute the place we call home. It’s the place where we set our roots, raise our children, and develop lifelong friendships. Speaking of friends, singer-songwriter Elle Wade co-stars on the song, singing in the middle refrain and joining Palmer in the end. Together, they create magic, all the while sounding like two people who each have truly found their own homes.
Let this song be played in all your upcoming family gatherings and reunions. It’s definitely made for such occasions.
Okay Kaya – “Spinal Tap” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Jenny Hval, AHOHNI, Karen O
Kaya Wilkins is not one to follow trends. On the contrary, as Okay Kaya, she’s a trendsetter. Before alt-pop and alt-R&B became all the rage, especially over the past 24 months, she was already experimenting with these genres. She was so far ahead of the curve that many outlets did not know how to react to nor comprehend her 2014 mixtape, Mix Vol. One, or her 2018 debut LP, Both. So how will people react when her third album, SAP, is released on November 4th? Obviously, it’s too early to say, but we’re pretty confident one word that won’t be uttered is predictable. Words that might be uttered are sleek, groovy, and startling, which describe “Spinal Tap”.
No, this song is not about the famed, cult movie nor the medical procedure. Rather, it is an analogy for how dreams can revive and refresh us – or leave us in a state of uneasiness. After the spoken-word intro from abstract painter / artist Austin Lee, the track settles into a smooth, sultry groove. An electric guitar dangles in the background alongside a faint drum line and some ambient synth, and they create the mood for this hypnotic affair. Wilkins then nonchalantly describes what happens inside us in the wee hours of the night, where our mind replenishes our body. And major bonus points to Wilkins for using “cerebrospinal fluids” in the song (that must be a musical first or second).
“And while you slept
Your brain got rinsed
Took out your trash
In a spirited slam dunk
Swooshing, clear and smoothing
It’s called your nervous system
Think of it as an interior cushion
Night time is the right time to let your body do it’s thing
It’s gonna clean that shit up
It has a chance to take a chance on you
This is what dreaming’s supposed to do”
Twin Ritual – “Mercy” (San Diego, USA)
RIYL: Celebration, Glass Spells, La Roux
Whether it’s replicating the great coming-of-age songs of the ’80s or the more widescreen fare of the 2010s and ’20s, nothing compares to a great synth-pop tune when it comes to making us nostalgic and feel a little liberated. When done correctly, the tracks within this genre can dazzle, create a sense of bliss and euphoria, and even inspire. And maybe more importantly, it will encourage us to dance and offer us a reminder of what makes life great. One band that consistently deliver the goods are Twin Ritual, who send us 30 years back in time with “Mercy”.
While the press release says this tune is perfect for a “late night drive”, we would also add that it’s perfect for an evening, summer gathering, whether that’s a beach party with a bonfire blazing or in the confines of our backyards. With its bubbling synths, Latin-touched guitar riff, and blustery rhythms, the song will certainly pique ears and encourage people to be moving. Folks may even do the limbo, strutting together in time and having a great time. It’s a three-and-a-half-minute escape, where we can be someone else or maybe our true selves. Or as front-woman Laura Levenhagen shares, the song provides a reminder of who we are and what our identity is. In this age of constant change, we all can use this little reminder.
Twin Ritual are: Laura Levenhagen (vocals, synth), Anthony Ramirez (bass), Tony Estrada (guitar), and Michael Buehl (drums).
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