The Matinee ’22 v. 111 is filled with gorgeous melancholy, which soothe, startle, and even leave you breathless. The subjects also are timely, from speaking about the attack on our democracy to separation and anxiety to bonding together to overcome the challenges before us.
Ondara – “A Prophet Of Doom” (Minneapolis, USA via Nairobi, Kenya)
RIYL: Damien Rice, Ray Lamontagne, David Gray
Why We’re Digging It: Since being introduced to Bob Dylan as a young boy while living in Kenya, J.S. Ondara has followed in his idol’s footsteps when it comes to chronicling world events. The current era is filled with so many unreal stories and incidents that should be immortalized so that future generations do not repeat our mistakes – assuming we can overcome the wave of misinformation and attacks on democracy. These subjects are the foci of Ondara’s latest single, “A Prophet Of Doom”.
While Ondara channels Dylan in his words, he adds his own style and touches to the folk scene. The track’s approach is more atmospheric and cinematic, which allows Ondara’s words to hit harder and create the setting for a world consistently under attack. “Democracy on the line / Pick a battle with a prophet of doom / And watch it all slipping out”, he sings, perfectly capturing the situation before us. While our democratic institutions are slowing being whittled away, too many are sitting idly and watching. He asks if we’re satisfied with what is happening or will we defend the democracy our forefathers created centuries ago?
Allison Russell – “You’re Not Alone” (feat. Brandi Carlile) (Nashville, USA via Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Mavis Staples, Lucius, Joy Oladokun
Why We’re Digging It: Throughout Allison Russell‘s newest single, “You Are Not Alone”, she along with her good friend Brandi Carlile provide an important message to everyone. They beautifully sing together, “Everywhere you go / You’re not alone”. The words are simple, yet they are often forgotten in a world set on destroying people. These two singer-songwriter heavyweights remind us on this stunning, gospel-single that only a few intend to chop us down, but together as a whole we can overcome. That as a single community, as an extended family, we can stand tall, succeed, and, thus, shine brightly.
Their words are further heightened when Russell sings in French, which not only allows her to reach more people but also shows that diversity is one of our great strengths. That our differences are what bind us.
Babehoven – “I’m On Your Team” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Skullcrusher, Maple Glider, Widowspeak
Why We’re Digging It: From the first time we listened to a Babehoven song (“Only So”) to naming them a Favorite Hidden Gem of 2020 on the strength of their first two EPs – Demonstrating Visible Difference of Height and Yellow has a pretty good reputation – the Maya Bon-led project has constantly shown the ability to make melancholy sound not just beautiful but powerful. Babehoven’s music is the equivalent of paradise, where we never want to leave and just wish to spin their songs over and over again. This statement holds more water on “I’m On Your Team”.
Gorgeous, breathtaking, sensational, a triumphant – these four words do not fully describe what Bon and her friend and collaborator Ryan Albert have crafted. Everything about this track – from the light, deadened guitar to the soft dabs of the percussion to the atmospheric keys to Bon’s incredible voice – is remarkable. Adding to the song’s power is Bon’s songwriting, who delivers a reminder to anyone struggling that she’s around to help them on their feet. That she will be the one who will listen to our pain, wipe the tears from our eyes, and be the crutch on which we stand. This is unquestionably a Song-of-the-Year candidate.
The National – “Weird Goodbyes” (feat. Bon Iver) (Cincinnati, OH, USA)
RIYL: The National, Bon Iver, Big Red Machine
Why We’re Digging It: Simply put, it’s new music from The National. The National are one of this generation’s great bands. Whether it’s the raw sounds of Alligator and Boxer or the polished masterpieces Sleep Well Beast and I am Easy To Find, the band continues to create compelling, immersive, and intense music.
Bon Iver is another generation-defining artist. While this isn’t the first time the projects have crossed paths, “Weird Goodbyes” is still a very exciting release. The instrumentals are definitively The National, especially when compared to the recent albums, complete with reverbed piano, wonderfully programed drum machine, and ambient guitars and strings provided by the London Contemporary Orchestra. Hearing Berninger’s and Vernon’s voices bounce off each other and come together is a great treat as well. No word on a new The National record yet, but between this release and the new songs they’ve been playing on tour, it seems like it’s just a matter of time.
The single is out on 4AD.
Lexie Carroll – “Fall For Anything” (London, England)
RIYL: Matilda Mann, Frankie Cosmos, Emily Yacina
Why We’re Digging It: Discovering a young songwriter with this much talent and authenticity is always exciting. At just 17 years old, Lexie Carroll already has two great folk EPs to her credit, including this year’s when the sun came up. On her latest single, “Fall For Anything”, Carroll shifts to a poppier sound, and the result is stellar. Carroll’s sugary voice floats over the song’s bouncy instrumentals. Carroll paints a relatable picture of a relationship that’s beginning to feel repetitive and fading. Feeling unwanted because of a late text or a missed call, and conversations full of small talk. “Fall For Anything” is a fantastic single that makes Carroll someone everyone should be paying attention to.
The single is out now, check it out here.
Moonpools – “Secret” (Basel, Switzerland)
RIYL: The Sundays, Bleach Lab, Alvvays
Why We’re Digging It: After transporting us to the early ’90s with “Damaged Goods” and “Feel”, Moonpools leaped up our list of Favorite Discoveries for 2022. They are like The Sundays and Slowdive resurrected, offering some of the most breathtaking dream-pop and dreamgaze on the planet. The Swiss outfit, however, may have saved their very best with“Secret”.
Settle in and inhale every element – whether it’s the gauzy guitars, the ringing keys, or soft rhythms. Or maybe it’s front-woman Marcie Nyffeler’s serene vocals, which is made for the ’90s and magical moments. Her songwriting, too, is made for memories, particularly those from a coming-of-age film where one waits for the moment to reveal her heart to another. “I’ve been waiting so long for the right time to come, but I don’t think it every will”, she longingly sings. Then the time arrives, when she finally and poetically shares, “Can you keep a secret? Can you? You are my secret”
Simply another outstanding effort from Marcie Nyffeler (vocals, guitar), Jasper Nyffeler (drums), Francesco Vona (keyboard), Matthias Gusset (guitar), and David Blum (bass).
Mamalarky – “It Hurts” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Kalbells, Lala Lala, Sun June
Why We’re Digging It: Mamalarky personify the term chameleon. Livvy Bennett, Dylan Hill, Michael Hunter, and Noor Khan embrace it, as they are constantly shifting and changing, which they revealed over the past couple months alone with “You Know I Know” and “Mythical Bonds”. To prove once again that they can pretty much excel at anything and everything, they deliver a graceful yet uneasy slow dance with “It Hurts”.
Slowcore at its heart, the track has a touch of Sade-esque R&B, particularly how the song moves between the sultry to the mysterious. Each piano note lingers a touch longer to give the track its desperate quality. Bennett’s lithe voice, meanwhile, shares the wave of emotions that torture her every being, where she’s left wondering if that someone is even thinking about her. Bennett seeks reassurance that she exists in the other person’s mind or whether she is, as she vividly states, just a figment of one’s imagination.
Mia Berg – “Meadow” (Bergen, Norway)
RIYL: Phoebe Bridgers, Tomberlin, Julien Baker
Why We’re Digging It: “Meadow” is a stunner from the moment it hits the listener’s ears. From Mia Berg‘s voice to the perfect under layer of piano, each element sets the scene perfectly. Some bass, drums, and strings come in, rounding out the sound perfectly. Berg describes the song’s lyrics as “about the weight of carrying out other people’s struggles.” It’s a relatable and powerful subject as it’s easy to prioritize others’ needs over one’s own. Berg captures those feelings quite perfectly,
“what would you do if you’re hurting,
without any to tell,
take me along the way,
search for a water to drown in
and then make me upset
take me along the way”
Norway has delivered another singer-songwriter to watch.
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