If great atmosphere is your thing, then you’ve come to the right place with The Matinee ’22 v. 127, which features 10 superb new songs. Some of the tracks have a rocky edge, a few are theatrical and cinematic, and others will remind you of some of the great indie bands of 21st Century.
The Clockworks – “Advertise Me” (London, England via Galway, Ireland)
RIYL: Interpol, The Editors, Fontaines D.C.
Earlier this year, The Clockworks released their long-awaited, self-titled EP, which was monstrous for three songs and surprised with a mellow finish. At the heart of each track were powerful stories that addressed the crumbling of our societies and humankind. As such, The Clockworks is an early contender for EP of the year. The four Irishmen, however, personify the blue-collar nature of their home country in that they never rest on their laurels. They, instead, always are working to improve and extend themselves while staying true to who they are. James McGregor (vocals, guitar), Sean Connelly (guitar), Damian Greaney (drums), and Tom Freeman (bass) demonstrate this with another ripper of a single in “Advertise Me”.
The song bubbles with a gritty urgency from start to finish, as Connelly’s searing guitar rings through the patient patters of Greaney and Freeman’s rhythms. The atmosphere is tense yet gripping, and it’s amplified hbyMcGregor’s booming vocal and poignant songwriting. As has been the case since the band’s inception, McGregor brilliantly captures how we all have become enslaved by the capitalism and corporatism. Even when those who are at the forefront of social, political, and environmental movements still use MacBooks, wear brand name clothing, and purchase products from the biggest companies. It’s not their nor our fault, but this is the world we live in today.
“Say ‘vanity’s insanity’
While suntanning my back
Complain about consumers
From the comfort of my Mac
You know we only want to show
The things we think we lack
Yeah, I know”
The single is out on the band’s own The Clockworks Recordings. Here’s hoping 2023 sees the quartet release a new album.
The Murder Capital – “A Thousand Lives” (Dublin, Ireland)
RIYL: Iceage, Bambara, Geese
As expected when The Murder Capital released “Only Good Things” back in July, their sophomore album is coming soon. Well, Gigi’s Recovery will be released early in the new year, so we have a few months to wait. But to ensure we’re not left hanging for four months, James McGovern (vocals), Damien Tuit (guitar), Cathal Roper (guitar), Gabriel Pascal Blake (bass), and Diarmuid Brennan (drums) release a single to not only appease fans but ensure that their LP will be noted as one of 2023’s Most Anticipated. certainly does that.
A penetrating darkness clouds over “A Thousand Lives”, driven by Brennan’s fantastic, stuttering drumming and the taut guitars that occasionally illuminate the atmosphere. McGovern, meanwhile, sounds like a man on the precipice of the end. Only one person can save him, and he sings about how that person’s love can restore him. He desires to spend not one nor two lifetimes with them but countless ones. But does the other individual feel the same way?
We’ll learn more on January 20th, 2023 when Gigi’s Recovery is released on Human Season Records. Pre-orders available here.
beachtown – “Spin” (Menorca, Spain and London, England)
RIYL: Rex Orange County, Joji, Slum Sociable
Call it chance, call it faith, but many bands formed out of good fortune. If Paul Hewson and Eddie Vedder never responded to adverts seeking lead singers for bands, U2 and Pearl Jam, respectively, may never have existed as we know them. This is what makes music great – some of the great groups in history formed out of pure luck. For Zaine Masoliver and Fred Cowan, they met while queuing to see Rex Orange Country in 2019, and a few months later beachtown was created. Now the duo need a bit more good fortune in order to become indie stars because they have immense talent. They just need people to hear their music and, like us, be astounded with songs like “Spin”.
Like beachtown’s formation, the song is a brilliant, successful chemistry experiment. Synth and electronic pulses envelope the superb, percussive rattles and the deep bass. Polarizing feelings emerge from the soundscape – enchantment and dizziness, dazzlement and uncertainty. The track sounds like a whirlwind, and the approach perfectly mirrors Masoliver’s tale of a person spinning out of control. No matter how hard he tries to stay grounded, the chaos around and within him have completely consumed his being. His words are all too real.
“Might as well say
You’ve got less than nothing today
Left with no patience
You’ve lost my attention
Might as well say
Passing out but passing anyway
And you’ve lost my attention”
beachtown are ones to watch in 2023, and Young Poet Records will help them become household names.
Ava Vegas – “Pleasure Pilgrim” (Berlin, Germany)
RIYL: Lana del Rey + Mogli + Faye Webster
We’re not sure how Sarina Giffhorn decided on the name Ava Vegas for her project, but it is apt. It perfectly describes her approach, which is creating music that feels like both cinema and theater. For instance, in June, she had us thinking we were diving into the lush waters of a “Swimming Pool”. That track was stunning. Like a great screenwriter or playwright, the German-born, LA-bound artist once again delivers a majestic, eye-opening, crowd-pleasing tune.
Giffhorn takes us out of the tranquil waters of her previous number and to the Mojave Desert at dusk on “Pleasure Pilgrim”. The track is cool yet dark and full of mystery, similar to watching the setting sun leave streaks of red, orange, and purple in the sky. In this environment, we are left pondering the most important events and people in our lives. For Giffhorn, she rides alone across the sands, leaving behind the person she once loved. This is the only way for him to realize how important she is, but it is too late. Only when she’s gone does he come under her spell again.
“A fading shimmer in the dark
I hold on to this spark of yours
the sweet smell of your hair
the thrill that’s coming from your eyes
I wind myself up hiding from your gaze
I slide out of your hand
you feel alive when I play with your affection
until you’re under my spell, so”
Ava Vegas’ new album, Desert Songs, is expected in early 2023. Follow her on social media for updates.
Tenci – “Vanishing Coin” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: Big Thief, Lomelda, Deerhoof
In 2020, Tenci released a fantastic debut record, My Heart Is An Open Field. The LP was full of heart-wrenching folk music, and it was a perfect introduction to the Jess Shoman-fronted project. There was a minimalistic quality to both the production and the instrumentation, something that hinted at more but also felt meticulously restrained. That restraint brings a lot of little things to light, from the powerful lyrical content to the ambient noise bubbling underneath.
For a follow-up, there may be an expansion of sound and with that can come growing pains. However, on “Vanishing Coin”, the first single from their upcoming sophomore record, A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing, Tenci has added a lot without sacrificing what makes the music of Shoman so interesting. “Vanishing Coin” is poppier than their folk debut, but there’s a lot more depth to appreciate. A great bassline underscores everything alongside acoustic guitar. Shoman’s voice effortlessly goes between its unique and inviting qualities to some dreamier harmonies, especially in the song’s later moments. The lyrics/ are relatable with Shoman saying the single “is about wading through the quiet loss and change of friendships”.
“Vanishing like the pebbles in your shoe
Disappear me like pennies in the fountain
Brand new, brand new
I thought that we were friends, Diane
A forgotten push pin”
Tenci are: Jess Shoman (vocals, guitar), Curtis Oren (saxophone, guitar), Izzy Reidy on (bass), and Joseph Farago (drums). Their new album, A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing, is out November 4th via Keeled Scales. Pre-orders available on Bandcamp and at the label’s store.
Arliston – “Hold My Wine” (London, England)
RIYL: The National + Bon Iver + Big Red Machine
When Arliston shared the gentle and gorgeous “Mothering” back in August, Jack Ratcliffe and George Hasbury firmly made it known that Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Aaron Dessner (The National) – a.k.a. Big Red Machine – are not the only ones capable of creating moving, cinematic folktronica. Before people think the London-based duo are imitators, they started their project before the more famous super-duo. So who is imitating whom? Regardless of the answer to that rhetorical question, one thing is without question: Ratcliffe and Hasbury deserve to be more recognized for their art. Maybe and hopefully their audience expands following the release of “Hold My Wine”.
Arliston’s newest single is the bridge that connects The National’s sad bastard rock with Bon Iver’s sterling folktronica, seamlessly alternating between the two genres. The soundscape is not the only thing that transitions, as the vocals move between a Matt Berninger-esque baritone to a Vernon-inspired falsetto. The voices, however, belong to the same person, who seeks to find a way to move forward. He is stuck in time, spending his days drowning in his glass of Pinot Noir and staring at the same image in the mirror every day.
Arliston will seek to advance their career on November 4th, which is when their new EP, Even In The Shade, will be released.
RVBY MY DEAR – “Over It” (Los Angeles, USA via Perth, Australia)
RIYL: Portishead, London Grammar, Cults
In February, RVBY MY DEAR re-introduced themselves after a short hiatus with the lush and poetic cinema “Black Moon”, but it was starker and more widescreen than the band we first heard in 2016. Now wholly the project of Gabbi Coenen, who relocated from Perth, Australia to Los Angeles, RVBY MY DEAR delve further into the cinematic with “Over It”.
With a gorgeous opening, the song starts with some low-key percussion, sustained keyboard chords, and Coenen’s voice in the center of it all. As the song builds, it becomes even more immersive, as low-key electric guitar chords and leads echo underneath. The drumbeat becomes more complex and pronounced as guitar lines intertwine. The track takes a big turn with some bass heavy synth and the guitar turns western, adding a ton of tension before Coenen’s voice comes back in. It’s a perfect analogy to the story Coenen tells, which concerns a toxic, cyclical relationship that’s hard to break free from.
“Hey you take up all the space
Is my mind just another thing to waste
My thoughts not of concern
Well I never learn
Cause every night it’s the same old fight
Knowing what I missed
Stay inside, know it wasn’t right but
I just can’t resist
We go over it and over it again”
Gabbi Coenen is supported by Jorge Balbi (drums), Andrew Lappin (producer, engineer, mixing, electric guitar, synth, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, programming, percussion), and Joe LaPorta (producer). Coenen’s forthcoming self-titled EP is out November 18th via Spirit House Records. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.
Scout Gillett – “444 marcy ave.” (Brooklyn via Kansas City, USA)
RIYL: Waxahatchee, Jesse Jo Stark, Cherry Glazerr
In April, Scout Gillett captivated us with her debut EP, one to ten. Containing one original track and four covers, the EP gave us a short peek into the Kansas City native’s art. It wasn’t just the title track, but also the way Gillett took songs like “Midnight Cowboy” and presented them in her own unique style. It only had us excited to hear more music from within that universe. Thankfully, Gillett did not leave us waiting long, recently releasing the spellbinding “signal” and the soaring “slow dancin’” from her upcoming debut record, no roof no floor.
The third single from the LP, “444 marcy ave.”, is perhaps her most engrossing single yet. Starting with just some heavy handed strumming on an electric guitar and Gillett’s voice, the song becomes something much bigger in a near instant. Drums and synth come in and add an edge to Gillett’s sound that had not been heard before. The song builds perfectly, and at the end it’s absolutely mesmerizing. Gillett says the track “was written to encourage my friends and myself to surrender to the present moment and give this whole being alive thing our best shot.”
The Youth Play – “Closer to the Light” (London, England)
RIYL: Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad, The Jesus and Mary Chain
With Frightened Rabbit no longer making music for obvious reasons, a huge void exists in music. It would be unfair to expect a single group to fill replace them. As such, the most reasonable expectation is that the band can help us remember Scott Hutchison, Grant Hutchison, Billy Kennedy, Andy Monaghan, Simon Liddell, and Gordon Skene by channeling their legacy. And remember we do with “Closer to the Light” from “new-ish” quartet The Youth Play.
Musically, the song is touched with dashes of The Jesus and Mary Chain-like shoegaze, where the gauzy guitars linger patiently in the background. Around the electrical shimmer resides a dark urgency that rumbles in the rhythms and Diego Bracho’s booming voice. As the track gradually builds and the desperation grows, Bracho’s songwriting is reminiscent of the late Scott Hutchison. He shares his deepest thoughts and the memories that haunt him. As much as he tries to scream, he cannot find his way out. But maybe we will be able to thanks to this number.
Listen or order the band’s debut EP, Closer to the Light, at these links. They could be one of the bands that fills the void.
Victoria Bigelow – “Oblivion” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Suki Waterhouse, Cornelia Murr, Nicole Atkins
Since returning to the scene with Going Blue in 2019, Victoria Bigelow has been releasing some wonderfully captivating music. Whether it’s the honesty in 2020’s To Everyone I’ve Loved Before or the breathtaking moments of last year’s Waves, Bigelow is someone who should be on everyone’s music radar.
Bigelow once again has unleashed another stunner with her latest single “Oblivion”. Opening with a beautiful pairing of piano and reverbed guitar, they give way to Bigelow’s breathy voice, which takes center stage. Despite its whispery quality, there’s an undeniable power behind Bigelow’s voice, a power that can resonate through the heart of anyone who her voice reaches. Synth strings join as the song swells, creating some truly beautiful moments, especially when paired with harmonies and electric guitar. As “Oblivion” ebbs and flows, it returns right back where it began: Bigelow over just piano. It’s completely flooring, especially as Bigelow delivers the final line, “oh baby my knuckles are bloody for you”.
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