The Matinee ’22 v. 131, which is Part 2 of our twin bill, features nine tracks that find the light in the darkness, offer hope and optimism despite the obstacles, and uncover the strength that exists in all of us. It’s the perfect Monday pick-me-up.
Alicia Clara – “I Let My Plant Die” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Mazey Haze, Jessica Pratt, TOPS
Alicia Clara likely has had a few moments where people have mistaken her for Alessia Cara. While the two share some similarities – both are Canadian, started off writing and recording songs in their bedrooms – they’re quite different. Cara has achieved mainstream success with her R&B and pop style. Clara, meanwhile, has only commenced her career, impressing music connoisseurs with her retro-inspired country- and psych-pop EP, Outsider/Unusual. After releasing her first record, she immediately went to work on EP number two, which promises to transform her sound from technicolor to 8K Ultra High Definition. If “I Let My Plant Die“ is an indication, we can say that objective has been achieved.
Clara’s newest single retains the nostalgic tones of Outsider/Unusual, but the added dimensions have given the psych-pop of “I Let My Plant Die” a bright, shimmering sheen. It’s as if Clara has transformed us back to Laurel Canyon of the very early ’70s, where on every porch musicians and bands congregated to craft something new. On this balcony sits Carole King and The Byrds, who are creating the perfect evening tune. Light guitars, deft keys, soft pattering of drums, and even a flute all flutter harmoniously together, and from which a warm, sun-kissed energy emerges. This retro sound provides the perfect canvas for Clara’s retrospective tale of missing the simple tasks that accompanied life during the pandemic. While she longs to travel again, she also has come to appreciate the small things in life.
“I miss mingling,
Crowded halls and empty hearts,
I’m trying to find a place in which your eyes
Spot me out
From dark corners”
Tuvaband – “Something Good” (Oslo, Norway)
RIYL: Highasakite, Many Voices Speak, Sinead O’Connor
When Tuvaband first graced our ears more than six years ago, it was the project of two people who made minimalist music sound extraordinarily symphonic. Today, it is the alias Tuva Hellum Marschhäuser uses when she steps on stage. While Tuvaband is a solo project, the music remains tantalizing and overwhelming in a very good way. For instance, last year’s “Growing Pains” was one of the best songs of 2021, as the Norwegian singer-songwriter entered the dark, penetrating waters of Portishead. Her latest single, however, reminds of two other artists whose names are permanently etched in music history.
Once the first piano notes and words from Marschhäuser’s lush vocal are heard, images of Sinead O’Connor’s face emerged in our heads as she begins to sing the Prince-written “Nothing Compares 2 U”. “Something Good” possesses the same intense emotions and vulnerable beauty as the aforementioned classic. Like O’Connor’s delivery, Marschhäuser’s voice cracks ever so slightly in the song’s emotional peaks, adding to its power. As the track builds and reaches an unforgettable climax, she convinces herself that something good is eventually going to happen to not just her but all of us. In a time where negativity abounds, a simple message as this can change our perspective of the days, weeks, and months to come.
This song, however, has not changed what we think about Tuvaband. It only validates why we think she’s one of Norway’s brightest stars.
Marschhäuser’s new album, New Orders, arrives January 20, 2023 on her own Passions Flames label.
EUT – “Step by Step” (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
RIYL: Karen O, Warpaint, TT
For as long as we’ve covered EUT, the Dutch outfit have consistently doled out cathartic number after cathartic number. Their music was bright, whimsical, and unflinchingly optimistic. The past six years and a pandemic, however, will change any person’s outlook. These unusual times have made us all look inward at who we have become and outward on what the world has done to us. This is where we find Megan de Klerk (vocals), Tessa Raadman (guitar), Emiel De Nennie (guitar), David Hogerheide (bass, keys), and Juen Schütt (drums) on “Step by Step”.
EUT’s newest track is made for midnight conversations and contemplation. Patiently the bass, percussion, and electronics pulse, creating the sensation that the walls are slowing closing in. The momentum temporarily pauses as the synths and guitars emerge, reflecting the epiphany our heroine has received. de Klerk narrates her tale, where she realizes that she is not to blame for her situation. That the trolls and tormentors are causing her to feel low. However, she can re-take control and reclaim who she is, but she must do this one step at a time. This is not some fantasy or film where circumstances can instantaneously change. The very first step she can do is understand that she holds the power to change everything. EUT is proving just this with this new direction.
The song is out on V2 Records Benelux. Here’s hoping an album is coming in 2023.
Frankie Cosmos – “F.O.O.F.” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Gabby’s World, Snail Mail, Florist
Frankie Cosmos‘ music has a certain magic to it. Greta Kline captures emotions, moments, and entire relationships within brief songs that occasionally resemble radio jingles. The brevity of her songs and endless human experiences as influence, Kline has amassed over 50 releases on her Bandcamp. Since becoming a full-band effort that eventually consisted of Kline (vocals, guitar), Alex Bailey (bass, guitar), Lauren Martin (keys, vocals), and Luke Pyenson (drummer), the records have been more polished and feature a more fleshed out sound. Frankie Cosmos, however, still contains that magic only Kline can capture. In the time she was working on her next album, Inner World Peace, Kline wrote over one hundred songs with fifteen making the final cut, including “One Year Stand”, “Aftershook”, and their latest single, “F.O.O.F.”.
“F.O.O.F.” stands for “Freak Out on Friday”, and it’s among Frankie Cosmos’ most relatable tracks. A song about anticipating the end of the week and embracing the idea in the title. Kline lists the ways she’s spending the time until the weekend, diving into 2007 indie or into her own music. Kline’s voice is as inviting as ever, and it’s accompanied by what may be the band’s best instrumental track, complete with distinctive Cosmos’ guitar chords but with some delightful piano and a depth that makes it seem that the band is expanding the Frankie Cosmos formula perfectly.
“It’s still Wednesday, I have to wait
Two more sleeps ’til I can freak out on Friday
Counting sheep ’til my turn to speak
I’m super bummed I have to go
I guess I’ll see you after though
When I freak out on Friday
What a sight to see before 1am me listening to 2019 Frankie”
Lowly – “Keep Up the Good Work” (Aarhus, Denmark)
RIYL: Kindsight, Moaning, San Fermin
Are Lowly the best Danish band at the moment? If they’re not at the very top, they’re definitely in the upper echelon alongside Iceage. The quintet of Nanna Schannong (vocals, guitar), Soffie Viemose (vocals), Kasper Staub (synthesisers), Thomas Lund (bass, synth), and Steffen Lundtoft (percussion) are Denmark’s equivalent to Slowdive, as they combine sensational dream-pop with great storytelling. They’re not just entertainers or musicians, but they exemplify the word artists and have since the first time we heard them in 2015 with “Fire”. Lowly also could be called our closest confidantes and biggest cheerleaders. This belief arises on “Keep Up the Good Work”.
Rarely has dream-pop sounded as gorgeous and vulnerable at the same time, as the song pulls at both ends of the emotional tether. The composition with the light gauziness of the guitar, the heart-beating bass line, and the descending synth chimes are the foundations of the track’s dazzling quality. Its brittleness, meanwhile, resides in Schannong’s vocal and lyrics. She sings with crippling effect about all the lonely times she’s encountered and the impact depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses can affect a person.
“And time is a taker
Not a giver like I was told
Everyday I lose my sun
Just to wake up to another one
And I walk in a haste with a glazed face
And the need for help to support my bones
Just continue, it gets better
Curse and boos and letting go”
But five words are all that it takes to get her out of her slump and offer a bit of optimism. To Lowly all we ask from them is to keep up the good work.
Dawn Riding – “9 Lives” (New Orleans via Oakland, USA)
RIYL: Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, Courtney Marie Andrews
The second that the music of Sarah Rose Janko graces your ears, you can immediately hear the influences that helped mold the sound of Dawn Riding, Janko’s musical project. Listing Lucinda Williams, Townes Van Zandt, and Leonard Cohen, Dawn Riding wraps up all that makes those artists special in her perfectly executed and heartfelt style of country music. Her first two records, Last Spring and The Light, were truly stellar. And if its first single is any indication, her third record, You’re Still Here, is going to continue that trend.
That first single is the gorgeous and impactful “9 Lives”. Like those aformentioned legends, Janko unleashes her story with unrelenting honesty. Combined with a warm country sound, complete with finger-picked acoustic guitar, pedal steel, harmonica and a twangy delivery, “9 lives” has an immediately captivating quality. The song’s slow pace makes everything seem grander, as Janko looks back on a moment in intense detail. It’s a quality that makes Dawn Riding’s music hit in a way that only some of the all time great storytellers can.
“When we finally called it off I was full of blame
He snuck in my room and covered the wall in black shoe paint
It said “you know what you want, and that I ain’t”
I left him scratching at the door
Now that was quite a long time ago
That was one of my nine lives
He nearly took me out
But I moved on down the line and
Now it’s just a thing to sing about
That was one of my nine lives
I’m on 8 7 6 by now”
Janko’s new album, You’re Still Here, is out on November 11th. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.
adults – “tfl has a lot to answer for” (London, England)
RIYL: The Beths, The Thermals, Remember Sports
Life is too short to take every little thing seriously. At some time, we need to move on, learning from our experiences in order to not repeat the past. This seems to be the mantra of adults. Whether they’re writing songs about heartbreak, late-night parties, a night of unintentional binging, and spending Friday nights alone, they find a lesson to share. They do this, however, via a lens that is fun and whimsical. With that, prepare for an amusing lesson when spinning “tfl has a lot to answer for”.
We do not know who tfl is, but he sure has made a lot of mistakes. As the song kicks off with a rollicking, buzzing guitar-pop vibe a la The Beths, Tom and Joely recount the story of a guy who broke hearts, bruised egos, and leaves a trail of devastation in his wake.
“Share another secret, fears about the weekend
issues and tissues and shaking in your friend’s bed
But you’re scared to see him after smoked another Marlborough
loose leaves in cracked teeth and shows with an ex lover”
The lasting marks, however, on this buzzsaw are the final lines, which the band reveal how a person, no matter how terrible they are, has an unbreakable power on another.
“But where it all ends is back in your arms, your hair tangled on his nose ring
and safety on the 333 with a text and everything you meant to me”
Smart, fun, and relevant. We’re talking about the song as well as Carl (bass), Joe (drums), Joely (vocal, guitar), and Tom (vocal, guitar, synth). adults’ new album, for everything, always, is out October 14th on Fika Recordings. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.
Ricky Lewis – “Bittersweet Relief” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Damien Rice, Andy Shauf, Whiskeytown
Ricky Lewis‘ name may be familiar to some. A decade ago, he fronted indie band Dear Lions, who were doing the art-rock thing before it became chic. The New England native then pursued a solo career, and his debut album, See You in the Morning, was released in 2018. Since then, however, he’s been relatively quiet and for good reason – he got married, his wife gave birth to their first child, and he has a job that pays the bills. The pull of music, however, was too great, and we returned to writing and releasing songs earlier this year. His latest number can be considered a long project of love, as it took two years to finish.
One can hear the attention to detail on “Bittersweet Relief”, which is sincere folk-rock / alt-country that echoes of Whiskeytown and Damien Rice. The single is incredibly immediate and intimate with the twangy guitar and the soft patters of the drums. Lewis’ voice, meanwhile, beckons of a bygone era, recalling the days that James Taylor and Jackson Browne serenaded us at sunset. Like these legendary storytellers, Lewis’ songwriting is terrific. He shares his own and other people’s fears and failures, but at the end of the day they found a way to overcome. They found the people and things that make them happy and who they are.
The single is out on Lisbon-based boutique label, Street Mission Records.
Shannen Moser – “Oh My God” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Tomberlin, Told Slant, Julien Baker
Shannen Moser just released their fantastic third record, The Sun Still Seems To Move, last week. Heading into the album, Moser shared some fantastic singles including “Ben” and “Paint By Number”, which left us floored. That, paired with their stellar prior releases, Oh My Heart and I’ll Sing, Moser proved they have an incredible and powerful way with words.
With the The Sun Still Seems to Move being released, we’re treated to eleven fantastic tracks. The final single released ahead of the record was “Oh My God”. A stunner from the moment it hits the ears, some ambient noise combined with gently plucked guitar and even a little flute kick things off. Once Moser starts singing, it’s impossible to escape the track’s grasp. Written after a change of scenery and the end of a relationship, “Oh My God” is a song of change, of honest introspection. It’s all wrapped up in an incredible folk tune. Banjo, harmonies that strike right at the heart, it’s all here and it’s stunning.
“I was working on that farm, when I thought I had met god
It was just the sunset setting
Watch those colors run
If there really was a god there’s no way I would be me
Lord forgive me I know you’d hate it
But I finally feel free
Oh, my god”
Moser’s new album, The Sun Still Seems to Move, is full of moments and songs like these. The record is out everywhere via Lame-O Records. Listen to or purchase it these links or go directly to Bandcamp.
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