The Matinee ’22 v. 129 gets a bit nostalgic and introspective, featuring songs that beckon to forgotten eras as well as foraging into whimsical and off-kilter arenas. In other words, this selection of new music is highly entertaining.

Find these songs on The Songs of September playlist. They are the final ones of this month’s compilation, which is available Spotify and SoundCloud.

 

Nation of Language – “From The Hill” (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: ’80s new wave and synth-pop reborn and reinvented

We like to wonder what would have happened if a band existed in another era. Would they have been superstars then while considered legends today? And can they still reach such heights in 2022’s highly competitive industry that rewards the formulaic rather than the creative? It is well beyond a reasonable doubt that Nation of Language would have been stars in the ’80s, residing next to Ultravox, Human League, and OMD as one of the great synth-pop and new wave bands on the planet. We still believe that by the time Aidan Noéll (synth), Ian Devaney (vocal, synth, guitar), and Alex Mackay (bass) call it quits that they will be considered legends. After all, they already have two remarkable albums – 2020’s Introduction, Presence and 2021’s A Way Forward – to their credit.

This year, the trio have spent most of their time criss-crossing the US and Europe. As such, they have not released an album this year, although they did share a great cover of The Replacements’ “Androgynous”. Before 2022 comes to a close, they have finally shared their first original song, and it proves once again why Nation of Language are the best band on the planet.

The ’80s time stamp is brightly lit on “From The Hill”. Sparkling synths, titillating rhythms, and Devaney’s trademark, gravitating vocal all shine. However, as the trio have shown time and time again, they extend the familiar into new territory. Krautrock beats echo in the background while Noéll turns her synth into a euphoric organ in the final moments. They add to the drama told in Devaney’s lyrics, which recount how love – or more specifically a love triangle – can fracture friendships. Sounds like a tale from the ’80s but narrated in a way that appeals to Millennials and Gen Zers.

The song is taken from Nation of Language’s forthcoming 7″ single, which will be released December 9 alongside vinyl exclusive B-side “Ground Control”. PIAS / Play It Again Sam will distribute it.

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Let’s Eat Grandma – “Give Me a Reason” (Norfolk, England)

RIYL: dreamy guitar-pop that makes you feel like you’re floating on water

Earlier this year, Let’s Eat Grandma released Two Ribbons, which revealed the two traits that make the duo one of the great bands of the past decade – an effortless ability to shift between genres and outstanding songwriting. The record also included a special 7″ treat, which they officially released the other day. Thank goodness Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton shared “Give Me a Reason” because it is one of the most dazzling songs of the entire year.

Inhale deeply because the English duo’s newest single is sincerely breathtaking. It echoes of the intimate and blissful dream-pop of the late-’80s and early-’90s when bands like The Sundays and Mazzy Star perfected the art of making fans gasp with every note. Hollingworth’s vocal, too, matches the graceful allure of Harriett Wheeler and Hope Sandoval, and each lyric she sings seems to linger a second longer. This makes every word penetrate deeply within us, and, thus, we can imagine and relate to every illustrated moment. She sings about leaving home and how she misses the security and comfort of her parents. Maybe more importantly, she offers an apology for the pain she may have caused, and only now she realizes how fortunate she is.

“You taught me how to face the world
I gave you back grief
I’m sorry for my teenage self
Safe to say that growing up didn’t comе peacefully

I’ve been crying in my bеd tonight
Wishing that kid was still me
So I could climb in by your side
Just hold me tight, count our breaths in time and say, ‘It’s just a bad dream’

And since I left home I’ve been thinking ’bout all those days so preciously
And I know time has gotta pass, I’m just thinking how we ain’t gonna last for eternity”

We, meanwhile, are fortunate to have Let’s Eat Grandma in our presence.

Pick up Two Ribbons at these links and (re-)discover the immense talents that are Hollingworth and Walton. The LP and the deluxe edition are out on Transgressive Records and PIAS Recordings.

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HÆLOS – “You” (London, England)

RIYL: Portishead, London Grammar, Four Set

For nearly a decade, Lotti Benardout, Dom Goldsmith, and Daniel Vildosola have captivated music fans under the moniker HÆLOS. Their approach to trip-hop and darkwave is sensual, engrossing, and cinematic. This combination has unsurprisingly made them long-time favorites in these parts. While original band member Arthur Delaney has departed, the now trio still can astound and mesmerize. They can still silence a room, which is what will occur when people hear “You”.

HÆLOS’ newest single is a dark dazzler. It is the musical equivalent of a black hole, engulfing everyone and everything within its orbit. The orchestration is exquisitely executed with every beat, synth stroke, and ambient pulse patiently delivered, which allows every note to be heard. This approach also allows the song’s drama to naturally unfold. Benardout’s heavenly vocal is stricken with pain and desperation, calling out to the person who is constantly putting up walls between them. Her tale is a familiar one, but it is told in a way that only HÆLOS can.

“Moments departed
Colours will run
Permanent changes
Twisted our tongues

I don’t want to keep fighting
Anymore, anymore
And I don’t want to rewind it
Like before, before”

The trio’s new album, Where We Bring Our Burdens, is coming in 2023. We cannot wait for it.

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Mazey Haze – “The Weight of the Weekend” (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

RIYL: French cinema-soaked psych-pop

A year ago, almost to the day, Nadine Appeldoorn released her debut EP, Always Dancing, as Mazey Haze. The mini-album was sun-kissed psych-pop perfected, and it made for the ideal record to spin in the chilly autumn days. We were so blown away by the EP that we had little choice but to name Appeldoorn as one of our Favorite Hidden Gems of 2021. As we look towards 2023, we might have to list her as an Artist to Watch because the young Dutch artist has been working on new music. Could this mean her debut full-length is coming? We can only hope it is and that “The Weight of the Weekend” is the tip of the iceberg.

Prepare to smile and even dance a little with this warm and dizzying number, which brilliantly weaves together ’50s French cinema with ’60s psych-pop and ’80s dream-pop. It is, in other words, a song made for technicolor, radiating of the energy and easiness of much simpler times. As Appeldoorn’s jangly guitar strums in the background, her delicate, saccharine voice takes center stage. She coolly sings about second chances and moving on, understanding that one cannot wait forever.

Why don’t I feel like you’ve tried
I should’ve seen at first sight
Nothing is set in gold
I still see the way they’re getting on
The broken feasts don’t survive in my dreams”

And hopefully we won’t have to wait forever for that first album. In the meantime, the single is out on LUSTRE.

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Phantom Youth – “AIIWO” (Munich, Germany)

RIYL: DIIV- and Washed Out-esque shoegaze that sweeps you off your feet

Dreamgazers and shoegazers more than likely are familiar with Stray Fossa, who have habitually created some of the gauziest music over the past five years. For most of their career, they called Charlottesville, Virginia home, but last year two of the members relocated to Germany. While the Pond separates the trio, they still continue to make music together. The distance also has enabled them to pursue other projects; the first of which is Phantom Youth, the side project of Will Evans. Last week, he released his debut solo single, which is what one would expect from a Stray Fossa alumnus.

This number is the bridge that connects the scintillating soundscapes of DIIV with the surf-drenched gauziness of Washed Out. The dreamy tones that emanate from Evans’ jangly guitar and vocal create a sensation equivalent to a cool, ocean breeze. It is refreshing and blissful, allowing us to temporarily lose ourselves inside a memory. For Evans, he is lost in an image of a person he’s left behind yet still yearns to see. Maybe, they’ll reconnect and create new memories, like Evans is as Phantom Youth.

The single is out on Spirit Goth Records.

While Evans has no social media as Phantom Youth, updates can be received by following Stray Fossa at: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

 

Charlotte Spiral – “All This Time, Asleep” (London, England)

RIYL: to feel like you’re stuck in an unforgettable dream

One of our Favorite Hidden Gems of 2021 has finally re-emerged. Cinematic, stunning and spellbinding are all words we’ve used to describe the music of Charlotte Spiral. They’ve been a bit quiet since last year, but thankfully the duo of Amy Spencer and Avi Barath released their first single of the year with “All This Time, Asleep”, the title track from their upcoming EP.

“All This Time, Asleep” was well worth the year’s wait. The single is as cinematic as anything we’ve heard from the duo so far. Lightly played piano, a fantastic drumbeat, and some sparse guitar chords lay the groundwork for Spencer’s dreamy voice. Some warm synth comes in, and just a pinch of excellent bass work delightfully rounds things out. Lyrically, the song was inspired by an argument between Spencer and a loved one, and reflects on the complex emotions that come with those moments.

“When I can’t concentrate, I want to leave the house
I’m messy on the inside, but I tidy my doubt
Oh you’re romantic, you don’t like to regret
You want to sleep but you can’t forget

All those things that I said, never meant to leave my head,
All this time that I’ve spent failing you and looking for myself”

Spiral’s new EP, All This Time, Asleep, will be released November 17th. Pre-order it on Bandcamp

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Pearla – “About Hunger, About Love” (New York City, USA)

RIYL: classic alt-country that charms and provokes

Nicole Rodriguez is about to unleash one of the year’s finest records. It was clear when she blessed us with “Effort” and the awe-inspiring “Ming the Clam” that the upcoming Oh Glistening Onion, The Nighttime Is Coming will be special. It has the potential to be a breakout for Rodriguez, who has created some fantastic art over more than half a decade as Pearla.

The latest single from the record is, unsurprisingly, an absolute stunner. “About Hunger, About Love” is an alt-country affair, complete with acoustic guitar and pedal steel. Rodriguez’ voice fits the bill perfectly, too. Hearing organ and pedal steel intertwine and exchange moments in the spotlight make the song sound so inviting and warm. There’s some really nice touches in the track’s percussion as well, adding even more to the atmosphere. Rodriguez’s voice goes from almost wavering and uncertain to something incredibly powerful as the number progresses. The music follows that trajectory as well, getting bigger as Rodriguez searches for something she can not find.

“And it’s a new kind of lonesome
Please be kind to me
I don’t know when it started
Like muskrats in the heart
It’s palpable and long-lasting”

The digital version of Pearla’s new album, Oh Glistening Onion, The Nighttime Is Coming, will be released February 10, 2023. Physical copies will be delivered on October 21st. Spacebomb has the honors. Pre-orders and pre-saves can be made at these links and on Bandcamp.

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Divorce – “Checking Out” (Nottingham, England)

RIYL: twangy country-western rockers with an unexpected twist

One of the best bands to arrive on the scene this year are Divorce, who released two stellar songs, including their cathartic, debut single, “Services”, and the blustery, shapeshifting “Pretty”.  The band of Tiger Cohen-Towell (vocals, bass), Felix Mackenzie-Barrow (vocals, guitar), Adam Peter Smith (guitar), and Kasper Sandstrøm (drums) offer another unexpected gem. This time it’s in the form of a country-western rocker called, “Checking Out”.

Song number three starts out intense – not necessarily musically but in its in-your face delivery. Cohen-Towell’s voice nears a scream then is joined by some heavy guitar chords and drumming. Eventually things take shape in the band’s distinctive blend of alt-country and grunge. The track has some lush moments, but they don’t last long. The middle of the song feels completely unpredictable with that near-wailing voice, some heavy guitar chords that dive into zen moments before building again into some more huge moments. This unpredictability adds to this wild ride, which features sing-along catharsis and even a little piano jaunt before it all comes to an end.

The lyrics are just as heavy and complex as the music, Cohen-Towell took inspiration from a typical country song and twisted it into her own way to justify the unjustifiable. The result is a  smart, strange, and fun sing-along murder ballad.

“In the middle night
I smell the guilt on him
As he smothers me with buffers
And his winter coat that he just won’t take of”

and then…

“I didn’t do it gently
Lord knows the man is heavy
But I think I hit an artery
So he never came to get me

Watching him slip (watching him go down)
Got pretty tiresome
So I sat down and watched TV
As he finished ruining my mother’s carpet”

The band’s debut EP, Get Mean, will be released December 2nd on Hand in Hive. It should be great.

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Dumb – “Excuse Me” (Vancouver, Canada)

RIYL: quirky, fun, and catchy art-punk

Speaking about one of the great gems to emerge this year, Dumb has repeatedly made our heads spin. And spin. And spin. We were doing multiple takes when they dropped the double singles, “Dropout” and “Sleep Like a Baby”, and then twisting in the wind with “Pull Me Up”. We also think that Franco Rossino (guitar, vocals), Shelby Vredik (bass), Nick Short (guitar), and Pipé Morelli (drums) likely feel the same way after they finish with a song. Or more than likely, they’re high-fiving one another and possibly dancing around after completing another rapturous tune like “Excuse Me”.

Once again, the quartet deliver an off-kilter, rollicking, and entertaining art-punk number. The guitars chug and groove in opposite directions, the rhythms offer a steady pulse to keep the song grounded, while Rossino and Vredik cheekily address their fans. They explain why they create unorthodox music, and how being ordinary is not in their DNA. If they were, they would be predictable like the seasons. Well, they are predictable in two ways – they consistently surprise and craft witty lyrics.

“Busted up and useless that’s the way I used to see it
All our wasted ventures look so pretty uncompleted

If I had to do it low-key
Then what good would living do me?
Could have been pacing back and forth not asking why

I collect the finer things, the experts guarantee it
Fresh and branded all updated coming out next season”

Dumb’s new album, Pray 4 Tomorrow, releases November 11th on Mint Records. Pre-order it on Bandcamp

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