The Matinee ’22 v. 104, which is the second half of today’s twinbill of new music, features a mix of humor, drama, fun, and surprises. The eight songs together could form the basis of a great soundtrack.
After spinning these tune, check out Part One over here. It features seven more songs. All 15 tunes, meanwhile, are included on the Songs of August 2022 playlist, which is available Spotify and SoundCloud.
JW Francis – “Casino” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: a quirkier Paul Simon, Jonathan Richman, a surfer Mac DeMarco
JW Francis likely has been called a lot of things in his life. We may never know what words have been uttered his way unless he has put them as Easter eggs in his songs (quite possible for the NYC-based singer-songwriter). As an artist, though, he fits somewhere on the paradigm in between Wayne Coyne, Jonathan Richman, Mac DeMarco, Stephen Malkmus, and “Weird Al” Jankovic. That is to say, his songwriting is witty, amusing, and very real, as “Our Story” demonstrated. For his next single, he playfully captures some of life’s dilemmas on “Casino”.
Sounding like Mac DeMarco covering Paul Simon, Francis adds the Hawaiian islands to his jangly, slacker-rock. The combination is one fun, energetic number that would be perfect to hear while dancing under the palm trees and drinking mai tais. Be sure to not be chewing on the straw because, as usual, Francis’ lines are highly entertaining. He compares his life to “an empty, dark casino”, where he gambles away his possessions and own well-being, including his integrity, to chase after unreachable goals. He’s a dreamer with no filter nor boundaries, thinking one day he’ll hit the jackpot.
dwi – “Party4One” (Vancouver, Canada)
RIYL: The Zolas, The Wombats, “Weird Al” Jankovic
The Zolas have established a reputation as a fun-loving, dance-inciting pop band. They’re pretty cool dudes, too. The band has undergone some changes over the years, which includes adding bassist Dwight Abell. When Abell is not performing with his mates, he’s writing songs for his own project, dwi. Obviously, the moniker is taken from the first three letters and not to be confused with driving while under the influence. Then again, maybe dwi stands for dancing while under the influence or specifically music like The Zolas and Abell make. “Party4One” certainly has this effect.
Abell’s newest track is hellacious fun and in many ways. The jangly guitar and the stuttering rhythms are, well, The Zola-esque, but there is an extra layer of quirkiness in the track. It specifically comes in the form of Abell’s vocal, which has an intentional, high-pitched, pubescent quality – yet it is pleasing on the ears. His lyrics similarly are playful, as he shares endless days stuck in isolation alone. Abell’s only friends are his shadow and reflection, with whom he plays games, dances, builds forts, and admires. “Oh babe, honey, you wanna dance all night or play pretend?”, he asks to the person staring back at him in the mirror.
Come to think about it, this tune could be the anthem for Doug and Steve Butani – a.k.a. the brothers from A Night at the Roxbury. We can see Abell playing the long, lost brother if there is a sequel to be made.
The single is out on Light Organ Records, one of Canada’s finest indie labels.
Abby Sage – “The Florist” (Los Angeles, USA via Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: a lo-fi Clairo, Misty Mtn, Suki Waterhouse
Our introduction to Abby Sage happened only a couple of months ago when she released the all-consuming “Force of Habit”. It was a “Wow!” moment to discover an artist who could turn subtlety into a wall of emotions.
The twentysomething singer-songwriter, however, has been creating such music for years, although many of her songs are privately stashed away. She got her break literally by accident – one of her demos was made public on SoundCloud and a flood of support and positive reactions immediately followed. The Toronto native now freely shares her music publicly, and her dreams of performing in front of thousands of people are about to come to fruition. She may not incite bedlam like Beyoncé or Billie Eilish, but she could induce an opposite effect that is similarly as powerful. That is making people go completely hush with the only sounds heard being those gasping for a breath. In other words, her music, is beautifully fragile, much like what is heard on “The Florist”.
This single is a brilliant combination of dreamy, lo-fi bedroom-rock and post-punk. The latter is heard in the shallow pulses of the bass and the atonal, almost guttural quality of the guitar. The stuttering percussion and the light sweeps of the synth, meanwhile, provide the pensive and alluring tones. Together, the track possesses the intimacy of both a bedroom and a dungeon, which is where Sage shares her deepest and most secretive thoughts. Her soft and tranquil voice echoes off the walls, which allows her reflective words to penetrate deeply. Sages shares how she wants to heal her friends’ pains and be “the fixer” or, in this case, “the florist”. She has her “finger on the trigger / I want to make something bigger of it pull the trigger”, which is one of the greatest lines of the year. And this is one of the year’s finest songs.
Sage’s sophomore EP, The Florist, will be released October 21st on Nettwerk Music Group.
Dumb – “Dropout” & “Sleep Like a Baby” (Vancouver, Canada)
RIYL: Parquet Courts, Ought, Ultimate Painting
Raise your hand if you like a great trumpet solo. Raise two hands if you like trumpet-driven indie rock! Yep, forget about guitar-driven rock because “newcomers” Dumb set aside all preconceptions that the blustery brass instrument is only for jazz, classical, soul, ska, and funk. They instead make it the star of “Dropout”, and it is awesome.
With the nonchalant attitude and off-kilter quirkiness of Parquet Courts, the Vancouver-based quartet deliver an amusing, ska-touched rocker that critiques posers, influencers, and all the sheep who follow trends. Frontman Franco Rossino, who sounds like Andrew Savage, unleashes a fervent of lyrical gems, including:
“Give me an esoteric paucity
I’m ready for my lobotomy
Give me something I can swallow easy
Down, like iconography
I won’t eat gastronomy
Just loaf of bread and block of cheese
Don’t complicate topology
Just hand me that piece of paper please”
But wait, the foursome also know how to deliver a guitar-driven tune, but in, of course, an off-kilter fashion. Touches of glam- and slacker-rock stream through this upbeat, toe-tapping track. We can see this song being performed in some dungy bar, where the young clientele are feverishly dancing and jumping and just having a blast. Rossino again shares some great lines, although they’re a bit more nonsensical this time. His story sounds like a combination of a lucid dream, his worst fears, and actual events. For instance:
“If karma’s a thing then I’m getting ready
For a big time up swing bowl of spaghetti
Yeah the weekend rolls around and I start to stumble
Get me out of this town take me to the rumble
My friends are tired of listening to me whine and complain
But I wake up every Monday joke’s on me again
If I wanted I could leave but I made my bed
All these aces up my sleeve yeah they’ve gone to my head
It’s all right I’m gonna sleep like a baby tonight”
Oh, if you’re wondering where the trumpet is, wait for the ending.
Dumb are: Franco Rossino (guitar, vocals), Shelby Vredik (bass), Nick Short (guitar), and Pipé Morelli (drums). Their double single is out on Mint Records and available at these links. Check out the band’s music on their Bandcamp page. We might have found our new favorite band.
Ben Narcis – “Appocalypse” (London, England)
RIYL: Tom Waits, Baxter Drury, Isaac Hayes
First impressions are everything. We’ve mentioned this many times in the past because the first song sets the bar. It tells us what kind of talent the artist has and where s/he gets their motivation. Will they play it safe or push the envelope? Is their intention to make a repetitive ear-worm or to provoke with their lyrics? Guess where newcomer Ben Narcis sits with “Appocalypse”? The answer is obvious.
Channeling his inner Tom Waits, the London-based singer-songwriter’s debut single is more like a post-graduate thesis than it is a song. With a ’70s inner-city funk-soul approach providing the cool, smokey background, Narcis uses a spoken-word approach to critique society’s obsession with their smartphones. Our lives revolve around the apps that measure our heart rates and sleep patterns, maintain our calendars and finances, and are our means of entertainment. His lyrics are clever, where he says “we have an app for that” – or for every occasion. His best line, however, concerns how we ignore the “small print” because our attention spans are nonexistent. In the process, we “sign away our autonomy”, where algorithms govern what we like, dislike, say, and do.
Awesome and clever.
HOAX – “Drew” (Queens via Houston, USA)
RIYL: Caveman, Passion Pit, Future Islands
On the earlier edition of The Matinee, we asked if any other genre could match synth-pop’s ability make us feel nostalgic and liberated. When done correctly, it’s nearly unbeatable, especially when a meaningful story is told. It’s unbeatable when in the hands of masters like Future Islands, Caveman, Nation of Language, and HOAX.
Michael Raj and Frantz Cesar are cult heroes within the indie scene because they are both retro and contemporary. They take synth-pop and make it for 2022 palettes, where it bursts with the color seen in an iMAX film. Their stories, too, are made for the big screen. In the case of “Drew”, the duo craft a song meant to go racing down the street with your best pal’s hand in your own. It’s meant to get the heart beating, the blood flowing, and the endorphins firing. The pair paint a similar image with their lyrics, where they want to let another person know that there are people who love them. Raj and Cesar want them to know that they will hold their friend’s hand and race all the way to the end.
“But it’s no easier to be alone
I want you here, I needed you to (know)
No it don’t go the way that we planned it
But who the hell cares? Why does it matter?
The way we appear is not up to
All of the fears that they share
It all becomes clear that
Through all uncertainty
I’d rather be”
HOAX’s debut, 17-track, concept album, b?, is out August 31st.
Sunfruits – “Made To Love” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: T-Rex, The Babe Rainbow, The Lazy Eyes
In the classic film Groundhog Day, Phil Connors wakes up in the same bed and breakfast every day. At 6:00 AM, the radio alarm clock turns on and Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe” is played. The song is iconic and one that feels like morning’s first sunshine. Now imagine that scene and think what other song could replace it. There are plenty of candidates, but if you’re looking for something more recent then look no further than “Made To Love”.
The newest single from the always-entertaining Sunfruits is made for wake-up calls. It’s catchy, energetic, and a good time captured in a mere 135 seconds. It buzzes with the glam-psych rock of the ’70s (think T-Rex), yet it features a distinct Aussie characteristic – that music is to lift people’s spirits while making us remember the good things. In this case, Winter McQuinn and Evie Vlah share how the most simplest connections can be endearing and enduring. How they can make us wake up each day with a smile on our faces. Their lyrics are lighthearted and heartfelt as well as humorous, which is another Aussie trait.
“Ohh baby sometimes I think that I think too much
Got you in my head honey and you’re just made to love
Just me and you until the last dandelion floats away
Till the earth collapses and we all go up in flame”
Sunfruits are: Winter McQuinn, Evie Vlah, Gene Argiro, and Elena Jones. If you’re in Australia, catch the band on tour, which starts at the end of next week. Dates and information can be found here.
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