The Matinee ’22 v. 125 features an even ten songs that tickle every emotion and memory. They include beautiful, contemplative folk tunes; witty yet wacky rockers; intergalactic adventures; and wacky and whimsical numbers. This set of songs is simply a delightful journey.
Maya Hawke – “Luna Moth” (New York City / Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: to hear a song that might be the most beautiful lullaby written
When we listed Maya Hawke as an Artist to Watch in 2022, it was based entirely on her musical ability and how she bowled us over back in 2020 with “By Myself”. On the film and television side, she’s had a breakout year with her role as Robin Buckley on Stranger Things and the new Netflix movie, Do Revenge. More and more people, however, are discovering her incredible songwriting abilities. She’s a throwback in this regard, preferring the classics sounds of folk and Americana to tell moving tales. On “Sweet Tooth”, she sang about the influence and presence of her mother, Uma Mother. With “Thérèse”, she spoke about a young girl of modest means with big dreams. Before her sophomore LP is released this Friday, she shares one final single.
We are once again left in complete awe by “Luna Moth”. There aren’t any special bells or whistles on this stripped-back, intimate number. Only a lightly-strummed acoustic guitar accompanies Hawke’s delicate and beautiful voice at first before some ambient noise and a steely guitar hum in the background. The instruments, however, are just the frame to Hawke’s fragile painting of a frightened young girl. While she cries at the scene of hurting a Luna Moth, someone comes to comfort her. We think it may be her father Ethan, whose voice might be the one in the background. He might the one who eases Maya’s concerns.
“Put a needle through a Luna Moth
The one I crushed and let you down
I left it on your doorstep
But I didn’t stick around
To watch you smile at an ugly thing
To try and ease my guilt
Watch you looking at a broken wing
Like it could be rebuilt”
Simply wonderful from a star who embraces her indie roots.
Sweetbreads – “Out of Range” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: country-folk pop that makes you smile
Is there anything more southern US than the term sweetbreads? Maybe barbecue, cornbread, and collard greens, but the delicacy is right up there. It should be of no surprise then that singer-songwriter Melody Stolpp and Nick Watt’s project, Sweetbreads, is as soulful as the food of the American south. With a throwback sound and songs like “Out of Range”, they should become favorites of the folk and Americana scenes and, thus, emerge stalwarts at festivals like Newport Folk and Pickathon.
The duo’s newest single is pure country-folk gold. Its approach is nostalgic and familiar like the favorite blanket we once wrapped around us. All you can do is smile at the warmth that results and rises from Stolpp’s soothing voice. She channels legends like Mitchell, Dylan, and Baez, telling a story about two people going in different directions. On the one side is June, who opts for the slower, country life over the nonstop rat race of the big city. Tray, meanwhile, chooses the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle, where he finds himself having to do and be what others expect in order to get ahead. It’s a classic story that slow and steady wins the race.
Pearl – “Month of July” (Berlin, Germany via Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: a song that gives you a kick in the pants
Wednesdays are referred to Hump Day for a reason – it’s the day where we struggle to find the energy and extra motivation to get things done. To give us a much-needed kick-in-the-pants is Pearl (formerly known as Pearl The Girl) and her boisterous new single, “Month of July”.
First, the song actually was released in August, so we’re a few weeks late in sharing it (better late than never, right?). Plus, the month matters little; how the song makes us feel and its message do matter. Musically, the track bustles with the synth-rock of the ’90s, zooming between titillating breeziness and sweltering synth swells. “Month of July”, in other words, is one glorious ride that first eases the nerves and then blasts off in exhilarating fashion.
Adding to the experience is Pearl’s mellifluous vocal, which comes close to screaming but never gets out of control. She instead calmly expresses her frustrations with people who want to silence her voice, but she refuses to be quieted. Lucky for us, the Australian’s rebellion is the anthem for our very own uprising. At least on Wednesdays.
Disq – “The Hardest Part” (Madison, WI USA)
RIYL: adrenaline-inducing post-punk
Disq are unquestionably one of the great stories of the year. For more than half-a-decade, Raina Bock (bass, vocals), Isaac deBroux-Slone (guitar, vocals), Shannon Connor (guitar, keys, vocals), Logan Severson (guitar, vocals), and Brendan Manley (drums) toiled under the radar. Their debut LP was released in 2016, and its follow-up came in 2020. Third time is the charm, though, for the Wisconsin quintet, whose star is rising with the release of “Cujo Kiddies”, “If Only”, and “(With Respect to) Loyal Serfs” this year. Each song revealed a different side to the band, and they again showcase their versatility and limitless talent with “The Hardest Part”.
The five-piece head down the post-punk and alt-rock route on their latest number. The angular guitars, the riveting bass line, and the wailing drumming echo of Preoccupations in their early days with a heavy dose of Interpol. Grunge elements, too, tingle in the track, especially during the quieter moments, which are Smashing Pumpkins-esque in their execution. At the heart of this track, though, is that of the angst and desperation that filters through nearly every post-punk song.
“It’s here right now
The great big shakedown
Run, if you can, til you can’t
You got freaked out
When I opened my mouth
Grin, caved in, went black
But you knew, from the start
What’s the hardest part
Get it through, to your heart
Til it breaks you up
Yeah you knew, from the start
What’s the hardest part”
Anna Mieke – “Mannequin” (Wicklow, Ireland)
RIYL: being left in an trance while watching a gorgeous fable come to life
Our introduction to Irish singer-songwriter Anna Mieke occurred a month ago when she took us down the proverbial rabbit hole on the gorgeous “For a Time”. It was pure magic. The young artist once again grabs our hand and takes us away to the great, beautiful unknown on “Mannequin”.
Stunning is Mieke’s newest track. This place she has taken us is as close as we’ll ever get to sonic utopia. A fluttering flute, the shallow bellow of a clarinet, a tickling guitar, and a radiant harp create the elegant music that could have been performed for the gods. Mieke’s soft, hypnotic voice easily drifts through the breathtaking melody, and she, too, sounds like she’s trapped inside a dream. Or is she actually walking and living within this place whose dark secrets are hidden by the enchantment? Is this place her own existence or even prison? You be the judge when hearing her say:
“When I was younger, a watcher on the side,
Did I do it right?
Birds play havoc in the hours before dawn
Could have been otherwise I
Believe in it sometimes,
The ritual, mistakes we make,
Mirrored in the things we say
Eaten by the very words we sow
Salute the magpie, shoot the crow”
Bleach Lab – “If You Only Feel It Once” (London via Buckinghamshire, England)
RIYL: to be floating on a Cloud 9 with stunning dream-pop
It is safe to say that we cannot get enough of Bleach Lab, and more people by the day share this feeling. The English quartet are unabashedly nostalgic, reviving the dream-pop of the ’90s but with greater cinema and a heightened sense of immediacy. Their talents led them to signing with Nettwerk Music Group earlier this year. Their first single with the label was the immersive “Obviously”. Song two, meanwhile, sees Bleach Lab go wider screen and, thus, even dreamier than they have gone before.
Inhale deeply because you may not take a breath for over six minutes while listening to “If You Only Feel It Once”. A gauzy yet mournful guitar welcomes us immediately, and it sets the foundation for Jenna Kyle’s jaw-dropping voice. She tells her story of a person constantly searching to find a place to call home. Gradually the song progresses, as a heart-stopping bass line, scintillating synths, and patient, percussive pulses enter the fray. Kyle’s vocal never loses its magnetic power even when the track brightens and reaches its cinematic climax. The impact of her words, in turn, become heightened.
“You’ve been spending all your time
Finding somewhere that feels like home
And you wonder why you can’t
Shake the fear of being alone
And the storm, it guides you back into the dark
If you only it feel it once
Is it enough?”
Bleach Lab are: Jenna Kyle (vocals), Josh Longman (bass), Frank Wates (guitar), and Kieran Weston (drums). Their new EP, If You Only Feel It Once, arrives November 4th on Nettwerk Music Group. Pre-orders available at these links and on Bandcamp.
Sister Wives – “Ticking Time Bomb” (Sheffield, England)
RIYL: a song that tears down traditional gender roles
It is clear what Welsh-British group Sister Wives aim to do with their music. Obviously, they want to entertain, but they also use their platform to raise awareness of critical social issues while critiquing existing social structures (and there are many things to criticize these days). On the riot grrrl rocker, “Greater Place”, for instance, they had us re-living the long days of isolation and its effects on people. On “Ticking Time Bomb”, they set their sights on much bigger targets and aim to chop them down at the knees.
The grizzled, gritty, riot grrrl tone is retained, but this time it is executed with patience. Slowly the song builds even though the buzzing synth and searing guitar impatiently grind away in the background, desperately wanting to explode. However, those who rush in will not win this bigger war. Slow and steady is the strategy, whereby the band can draw listeners in and become entranced by the band’s lyrics.
They sing about women’s “biological clocks” and the pressures placed on them to become mothers, as if their only existence is to procreate and give heirs for men. “Gendered expectations / I refuse to partake”, the band assertively state. Donna Lee (vocals, keys, synths), Rose Love (vocals, bass), Liv Willars (vocals, guitar), Lisa O‘Hara (vocals, drums) will do things on their own time and live with the choices they make. And who are we to argue with a band that delivers knockout tune after knockout tune.
The Mighty Orchid King – “Symbiomedome” (St. Albans, England)
RIYL: immensely trippy and intergalactic psychedelic rock
In five, four, three, two, one… LIFT OFF! Few songs require a countdown but psychedelic wunderkinds The Mighty Orchid King‘s newest track definitely deserves it. Seriously, “Symbiomedome” is a cosmic delight.
For as long as we’ve covered Jonny Bennett, Marcelo Cervone, Ian Davis, Pete Martin, Martin van Heerden, Will Stephen, and Michael Rea’s music, they have consistently sent us to the outer edges of our galaxy. Their latest tune, however, goes well beyond the borders of the Milky Way and traverses into the far reaches of the universe. Blistering guitars act as the rocket’s propulsion while the pummeling rhythms and soaring keys are the fuel that ignite the track. For nearly four minutes, the septet hurtle us through unexplored territory until we reach somewhere called Symbiomedome. This place, however, is much like our own home, where the inhabitants no longer have a symbiotic relationship with its surroundings. But if we follow The Mighty Orchid King’s lead, there might be time to reverse course.
“Our endless marching meant nothing to them
They wondered when we would start to do something
They could not read the protest in our feet no
I chart a course through old pine
Untramelled by the bloodlines
The Mighty Orchid King’s new album, Mycelium Music Volume I: “Pinedemonium Awakes”, releases this Friday, September 23rd. Get it on Bandcamp.
TOLEDO – “How It Ends” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: to be captivated by two of the finest storytellers
Later this week, TOLEDO will release their new album, How It Ends. While it’s hard to say for certain what the entire album will be like, the earlier singles – “L-Train”, “Flake”, plus “Leopard Skin” and “Climber” – indicate that Daniel Alvarez and Jordan Dunn-Pilz have created something extremely special. At the very least, it will be unlike most albums released today with its mix of indie rock, alt-folk, and Americana. Another way to describe the LP would be grassroots because the duo write stories that hit close to home. They tell our stories, as they do on “How It Ends”.
The Brooklyn-based pair once again traverse multiple genres on this sweeping, energizing tune. From the opening refrain to the very final moments, Alvarez and Dunn-Pilz wrap their arms around us and their embrace never relinquishes. They instead act as the very thing we need right now – a parachute to help us safely land from the dizzying heights we find us, to be the fire that keeps us warm as the temperatures fall. Their lyrics, too, recount something familiar – the fear we experience when entering a relationship. Do we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and trust our heart in the hands of another or do we keep the walls up to protect us from what we think is the inevitable heartbreak?
“I’ve given up on believing that everybody gets a chance / I don’t understand why she does it to herself when she knows how it ends”, Dunn-Pilz sings, reflecting on his mother’s own experiences. Is he doomed to her fate or will his future hold something different? Something enduring and everlasting?
Mamalarky – “Shining Armor” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: quirky, off-kilter tunes that cause you to gyrate
It seems like Mamalarky are constantly trying to one up themselves with every single. Previous tunes – “You Know I Know” and “Mythical Bonds”, and “It Hurts” – are as diverse a set of three songs anyone will hear. So what could they do to top those three? They emphatically answer this question with “Shining Armor”.
Livvy Bennett, Dylan Hill, Michael Hunter, and Noor Khan channel their inner Deerhoof and Rubblebucket, and their newest single is wacky, zany, and fun. The song is not one that can be easily danced to nor even strut around. It might work best if beating some eggs, ironing, or some chore that requires little rhythm. Or maybe you want to re-enact Monty Python and The Holy Grail and dress up as the most ridiculous knight adorning some shiny armor (and don’t forget the coconuts).
In actuality, the song, despite its off-kilter math-rock, concerns more serious matters, specifically trolls on social media. We all know them – anonymous people who think they can say anything like want without fear of reprisal. It’s easy to be brave when hiding behind a keyboard and screen, but it’s another thing to fully put oneself out there for the world to see. For us, Mamalarky are heroes because they are going beyond the usual to create something incredible.
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