The best medicine is great music in our opinion, and The Matinee ’22 v. 105 features nine such great songs from newcomers to established indie stars. Some of these tunes heal with subtlety and melancholy. Others with a blast of electricity or shock and awe. And then a few deliver some sultry and uplifting notes.
Shannen Moser – “Paint By Number” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Waxahatchee, Told Slant, Vagabon
In 2017 and 2018, Shannen Moser released a pair of fantastic records. Oh My Heart, and I’ll Sing showcased Moser’s undeniable songwriting ability. With each folky track, Moser welcomed listeners into their world, telling personal stories in a way that’s relatable and powerful.
“Paint By Number” possesses the inviting qualities present in Moser’s first two records and sound better than ever. The track captures a strange comfort in the way time seemed to shift over the last couple of years. As we were locked inside, the days blurred together and things moved at a slower pace. Some gorgeous strings welcome the listener right out of the gate and set the scene so well, capturing an unseen beauty that people may have ignored before they had the time to appreciate it. Moser’s voice is accompanied by lush harmonies at times, and other moments it’s delicately presented in a way that makes each lyric strike right at the heart.
“So you’re lying down, getting comfortable
The sky opens up and says your name
A series of quiet moments like a paint-by-number dream
Days go by like paper in the wind, you fold the seam”
The Black Angels – “Without a Trace” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: The Black Angels
On the two songs that have been released so far for Wilderness of Mirrors, the great The Black Angels‘ sixth album is shaping to be more than what we imagined. It could be a concept album that marries fantasy notions with real-life events. “El Jardín” was Guillermo del Toro-esque in its scope and quality while “Firefly” was like a lucid dream conjured by a Temptress. Further evidencing that Stephanie Bailey, Christian Bland, Alex Maas, Jake Garcia, and Ramiro Verdooren are heading down the proverbial rabbit hole is “Without a Trace”, which is simply fantastic.
The quintet don their John Carpenter cloaks and unleash a piercing, eerie, sinister, psych-rock epic. They welcome us with a spooky key arrangement made with Vincent Price in mind, and it gives way to a riveting, over-driven guitar and witch-like cackles. Maas’ voice then emerges, and it is nearly deadpan. His band mates’ backing vocals, too, are zombie-like. The effect brilliantly captures how we have become immune to life’s chaos and the resolvable conflicts and problems that are of our making. “I adore your felony (I’ll tell you why) / Let’s go get some treasury (I want to fly)”, they immediately share. Later, they ask with little emotion, “So it is possible to feed the starlet and to feed the starving?”, which brilliantly captures how we have come to accept tragedy as a way of life.
But then they deliver a call to action: “If it’s so, we’re invincible / We’ll be alarming / We’ll be an army”. But we will respond or shy away? Hopefully the former as we walk in the direction of the awesome, fuzzy guitar riff and the patient rhythms that scorch the song’s final half. Before it all ends, Maas has one piece of advice to share: “Don’t feed disaster”. Hopefully, we also can avoid this eventuality.
September 16th is when Wilderness of Mirrors will be released. Partisan Records has the privilege. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available at these links, Bandcamp, and the band’s online store. It should be one of the year’s standout records.
Earth Tongue – “Miraculous Death” (Auckland, New Zealand)
RIYL: Mermaidens, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, King Crimson
Staying within the horror genre, Gussie Larkin (vocals, guitar) and Ezra Simons (vocals, drums) don’t shy away from the chills and screams with their project Earth Tongue. On the contrary, they are more likely the ones inciting fear and tension with their mix of ’70s psych-rock, prog-rock, and witch rock. Like that great decade of music, their songs have a technicolor quality, where you can truly imagine a scene if not an entire movie unfolding in your mind. Channeling Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento, the Tāmaki-based duo dial up the frights on “Miraculous Death”.
With a big assist from The Beths’ Jonathan Pearce on guitar, Earth Tongue unleash a stupendous, terrifying number. The guitars howl and rage, getting under our skin and sending chills down our spines. Simons, meanwhile, acts like the hammer that drives the stake through the heart of, not the vampire, but the duo’s unwilling victims. And this outcome is not only revealed in the propulsive instrumentation, but the pair’s lyrics explicitly describe how one human after another fall prey to an unseen and unknown celestial being. The band play out the scenario in the spooky video, which is also straight out of the ’70s and ’80s.
Simply an outstanding number from a Kiwi favorite. The folks at Stolen Body Records agree as well, as they have signed Larkin and Simons.
RIYL: Ela Minus, Sofia Kourtesis, Kelly Lee Owens
Right from the second you see the pairing, you know both Ela Minus & DJ Python can only elevate each other’s music. Minus is a master of analog synthesizers and an immaculate wordsmith with a voice to match. Python’s music ranges from remixes to some great original electronic stuff and a range of collaborative material that is nothing short of fantastic. Last week, the two announced a three-track EP, ‘♡’ (referred to as “corazón”), and released the first single, “Pájaros en Verano”.
The opening moments of “Pájaros en Verano” are exactly what we’d expect from the pair. Bouncy synth and some electronic sounds pulsing underneath makes it feel like a more refined version of Ela Minus’ earlier “Tiny Dance” work, a vibe perfectly captured by DJ Python’s instrumentals. What makes “Pájaros en Verano” and the ♡ EP so fascinating is learning that there was little to no communication about the tracks ahead of time. Python sent the instrumentals and Minus laid the vocal tracks down, and a perfect synergy between the two was present. The song’s lyrics came from “a list of things I was grateful for”, as Minus describes it, singing of the little things.
“I can’t complain, ’cause I got you
Now I don’t want to live a life without
you, awe, home, truck, crickets, trees, a view
The duo’s debut EP, ‘♡’, is out September 16th on Smugglers Way.
Rubblebucket – “Earth Worship” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Poliça, Austra, Jagwar Ma
When Rubblebucket returned in June from a four-year hiatus with the unconventional ear-worm, “Morning in the Sun”, we openly wondered if a new album was coming. We crossed every possible digit waiting for the news, which came this week. Earth Worship will arrive 10 days before Halloween, which seems like an appropriate time since Kalmia Traver and Alex Toth are as unpredictable as the autumn weather. While the duo have been known to bring the parade to the stage, they change things up quite significantly on “Earth Worship”.
Into the bowels of Paris’ exclusive nightclubs do Rubblebucket descend to on their newest track. It is a sultry, sensual, and captivating piece of electro-pop. It’s meant for slowly moving in rhythm with your partner, allowing the keys, beats, bass, guitar, and whistling – yes, whistling – to control your movements. But what is a Rubblebucket tune without some horns? Yep, the marching band makes an appearance, as a saxophone and a trumpet hum in the second half. And what is an RB tune without a great message? In this case, they seek to heal our wounds and scars, recognizing that we, as humans, are constantly being beaten down and questioned. The best way to recover is with music that makes us feel alive.
I feel like I’m collapsing into myself
Yourself myself yourself ooohh
I would like us to break up these patterns
patterns patterns patterns ooohhh
So could you help me find an abbreviation
for this feeling I’m in right now?”
Quinn Christopherson – “Celine” (Anchorage, Alaska, USA)
RIYL: Sam Fender, The Drums, Perfume Genius
Quinn Christopherson might be the most genuine artist in music. Every song he writes comes straight from the heart and his own experiences. The 30-year old Alaskan grabbed the world’s attention after being named the 2019 NPR Tiny Desk Winner for his song, “Erase Me”, which described his coming out as a transgender man. In a very conservative, very Republican state, his experience was often a lonely and difficult one. However, with the love of his mother and support from his friends, he is today an inspiration and role model for all. He is what we aspire to be – strong and always finding something to celebrate even in the smallest moments. This can be heard on “Celine”.
The song is arguably Christopherson’s most pop-oriented tune, but it brims with positive energy. It bursts with euphoria, as if the person inside has finally revealed himself. This is what Christopherson sings about – a single night singing karaoke where a notoriously reserved person gets on stage, grabs the microphone, and leaves the patrons in awe. No, this song isn’t about Christopherson but his mother. It is dedicated to her and her moment in the spotlight.
“You’re getting on that stage
Dj put the words on the screen
You came back so proud
They said I sounded
Just like Celine
You lite up that place
You just wanted to be seen
Just like Celine”
Simply inspiring and wonderful. And yes, the lovely woman singing with Christopherson is his mother. She once again steals the show from her gifted son.
Moonpools – “Feel” (Basel, Switzerland)
RIYL: Slowdive + The Sundays + Makthaverskan
Followers on our site and The Matinee series know that we love being transported in time. We love to sent to the ’80s and the days of synth-pop and dream-pop and the ’90s when shoegaze exploded. Several bands act as our Delorean, and we have to add one more to the list. That band is Moonpools, who in May had us re-living 1985 with the sublime “Damaged Goods”. On their newest single, “Feel”, they change the date to 1991 on their time machine and sweep us to the days of Slowdive and Cocteau Twins. And what a ride it is.
This song is breathtaking, a shoegaze number to remember for a long time. Its opening minute alone is marvelous with the gauzy arrangement. Then front-woman Marcie Nyffeler’s delicate, Harriet Wheeler-like vocal arrives, and the track reaches heavenly heights. While her voice is dreamy, it also quivers at points to reflect the loneliness she feels and the abandonment she has experienced. She is not seeking love; she just wants someone to help her find the right path and make her believe in herself once again.
“Can someone show me how to feel?
I want to feel something, I want to feel real
Right now I don’t even have myself for company
Could someone help me see how nice things could be?”
Moonpools are: Marcie Nyffeler (vocals, guitar), Jasper Nyffeler (drums), Francesco Vona (keyboard), Matthias Gusset (guitar), and David Blum (bass). They are one of our favorite discoveries of the year.
MOTHR – “Dancing on the Edge of a Knife” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Love Fame Tragedy, Bleachers, The Killers
Let’s keep the energy up – or shall we say let’s kick up a notch? Doing the deeds is a newcomer to the music scene, who for now moonlights as MOTHR. We say this because project mastermind Alex Khurgin has a successful, 9-to-5 career and is also a family man. While we do not imagine he’ll make music his full-time occupation (probably not advisable with a young family), “Dancing on the Edge of a Knife” could be the trickle that starts the tidal wave.
Get ready to run because Khurgin’s debut single is like a shot of adrenaline. It possesses the energy and warmth of a great Future Islands’ tune but has the bustling indie pop-rock sensibilities of The Killers and The Wombats. Like these great bands, Khurgin knows how to draw listeners in, as the track kicks off with a burst of synths and radiant rhythms. The hip-shaking melody has us bouncing on our toes, waiting for the euphoric moment. But before it arrives, Khurgin further hooks us with his superb songwriting, as he shares the story of a person who once had it all but now is struggling to live day-to-day. As we listen intently, we realize that swelling chorus hide the song’s true meaning – that we need to look after each other before we can take that next step. Before we can run without a care in the world.
“Leaping into motion
But you’re turning in place
Looking for someone to pass in the human race
You were rolling like an ocean
Now you’re lost in the fray
Take one false step and you might slip away
You were a dancer
Now you’re dancing on the edge of a knife”
Who knows, maybe a year or two from now, Khurgin may be mentioned as the next Brandon Flowers (The Killers) or Matthew Murphy (The Wombats). We think so and probably Josh Hogan of Mowgli, too, as he sang backing vocals on the single (how cool is that!). In addition, the song features Kris Miller on guitar and Alex Arias, who produced the track and plays keys and bass
Marlon Williams – “Easy Does It” (Lyttleton, New Zealand)
RIYL: Marlon Williams
While Marlon Williams has traversed the world and resided in cosmopolitan cities like Melbourne and Berlin, he is still very much a New Zealander in heart and soul. He usually displays his affection for this home country in the Easter eggs he drops in his songs, but on his forthcoming, new album, My Boy, he is fully embracing his Kiwi roots and its people. The LP’s title track was an Māori-inspired folk-pop tune while “Thinking of Nina” and “River Rival” were nods to OMD’s synth and new wave legacy. Before the record drops, Williams shares one more single that once again puts Aotearoa front and center.
“Easy Does It” is a beautifully warm and blissful folk-pop number, which reinvigorates the soul and heals all wounds. Nothing is hurried, but instead the tempo is equivalent to a Sunday stroll through the park or garden. At this pace, we can appreciate everything about the song – from the light flute and pedal steel that come in the second half, the occasional burst of the electric guitar, and the deft touches of the percussion and mellotron. We also can become completely absorbed within Williams’ voice, which has a hush-like quality. He has adopted the voice of the islands, which could the warm sands of Samoa or maybe Aotearoa. In this place, Williams has found his own slice of paradise.
“You are an expert in the field of distance
But I bet that I know where you are
You’re on some lonely undiscovered island
My seldom South Pacific star
And that’s how easy does it
And she does it every time
Easy does it
Yeah she does it every time”
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