From spellbinding cinema to haunting folklore, from powerful stories to mystifying fantasy, from electrifying anthems to off-kilter numbers, The Matinee ’22 v. 135 is an intercontinental musical journey of unpredictability. And greatness. Many of the featured songs will undoubtedly be heard again at the end of the year.

For more memorable songs, spin The Songs of October playlist on Spotify and SoundCloud.

 

Sault – “Angel” (London, England and beyond)

RIYL: Bob Marley + Thundercat + Michael Kiwanuka

Plenty of artists and bands deserve the title as the most important of the 21st Century. Michael Kiwanuka, Algiers, Kendrick Lamar, and Childish Gambino are a few that not only have redefined what is musically possible but also for tackling important social issues. As great as they are, there may be no more important band than Sault.

The British collective were at first an enigma, choosing to conceal their identities while allowing their songs to say everything. Eventually, they shared their names, led by producer Inflo and backed by a host of talented musicians, namely Cleo Sol, Kid Sister, and the aforementioned Kiwanuka. In three short years, they have released some of the most remarkable albums in history, including 2020’s Untitled (Black Is) and Untitled (Rise) and last year’s Nine (which is no longer available for streaming). The three made our list of Favorite Albums for each year (2020, 2021). Given their propensity to release two albums a year (in 2019 they shared 5 and 7), we patiently wait for the sequel to Air. Maybe that will come in the form of 10, which Sault in their usual manner cryptically identify alongside their newest single, “Angel”.

This ten-minute plus epic must be heard in quiet and in the company of one’s friends, family, and neighbors. It is a four-part opus that starts with a Bob Marley-inspired reggae slow-burner led by Jamaican artist Chronixx, turns into a solemn ballad, features the poetry of British singer-songwriter Jack Peñate, and ends with a tranquil, soulful, slow jam (we assume it is Kiwanuka strumming the guitar). Throughout the track, Chronixx and Peñate deliver a sermon focused on another young man whose life was taken far too soon by those who were sworn to protect him. Their lyrics are inspired by Marley himself.

“Eleven years old and he’s on his own, well
Just can’t believe, far away from home
Battled the police, now he’s running for his life
Now he’s out the way, playin’ dead tonight, well
Then the mother don’t cry
Running wipes the tears over from her eyes, well”

We cannot wait for 10 to arrive.

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Weyes Blood – “Grapevine” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Half Waif, Sasami, Father John Misty

What can we say about Natalie Mering that we haven’t already? We’ve been onboard for a while, but after Titanic Rising, the songwriter known as Weyes Blood ascended into one of indie pop’s brightest stars. The LA-based artist is gearing up to release her highly anticipated follow-up to that record with And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow on November 18th. The LP will be the second in what Mering describes as a “special trilogy.” Between the record’s first single, the gorgeous “It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody” and news of guests including Meg Duffy (Hand Habits), Daniel Lopatin and Mary Lattimore, it only made the anticipation grow.

The latest single from the record is the folk stunner “Grapevine”. Mering’s voice is as powerful as ever, and in its early moments booms over acoustic guitar before drums join and bells chime. As the song builds, the layers get lusher with floating harmonies adding an immense depth to the sound. At times, the percussion stumbles, adding to the tension of the track’s big moments – the biggest of  which is the finale that cascades into a swell of vocals and strings. With the expansive folk sound, Mering fittingly uses old western imagery to tell a story about the power a lover can have over another.

“California’s my body
And your fire runs over me
My car broke down
In an old ghost town right around
Where they got James Dean

Emotional Cowboy
With no hat and no boots
He stayed up all night
Trying to beat up the moon”

Pre-orders and pre-saves for And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow are available at these links and Bandcamp. Again, it will be released November 18th on Sub Pop.

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PRIESTGATE – “Some Things Never Change” (Driffield, England)

RIYL: The Ninth Wave, Eagulls, Sundara Karma

Earlier this year, PRIESTGATE, who were one of our Favorite Hidden Gems in 2020, released a fantastic EP in Eyes Closed for the Winter, which saw the Driffield quintet add an icy tone to their startling post-punk. The record was merely an indication of what the quintet could accomplish and how they have the talent to become one of the UK’s best bands. Rob Schofield (vocals), Connor Bingham (guitar), Isaac Ellis (guitar), Kai Overton (bass), and Bridie Stagg (drums) take one giant leap to this eventuality with their newest single.

Wherever you may be and no matter how you feel, “Some Things Never Change” will send a surge of electricity all around and entirely within you. The Yorkshire five-piece momentarily set aside their post-punk foundations for an explosive and anthemic Goth-pop sound. The song ignites right off the start with Bingham’s and Ellis’ dueling guitars while Overton’s bass and Stagg’s pummeling drumming blister around them. Schofield’s dynamic baritone, however, brings the track to a momentarily pause after the initial surge, as he reaches out to another and apologizes for what has happened. His voice then slowly rises, and it reeks of desperation. Alongside him, his band mates amp up the intensity, adding to the emotion of Schofield’s words: “If I fall on a good day / Would I stay or remain the same? / I guess some things never change.”

Simply awesome from a band that will be going places, and they will do so with the support of Lucky Number Music.

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BATTS – “Linger” (feat. Deep Sea Diver) (Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: Angel Olsen, Deep Sea Diver, Hand Habits

When an under-the-radar artist can get some of indie’s bests to sing backup, you know she is an undeniable talent. But those who have followed Tanya Batt and her project, BATTS, all these years (like we have), already knew what Sharon Van Etten, who was the guest vocalist on “Blue”, did. We knew that she could create a crippling, emotional ballad like “Call It What It Is” and make our hearts weep, which is what happens when listening to “Linger”.

On Batt’s latest single, she invites Deep Sea Diver’s Jessica Dobson to sing with her, and the two create a stunning, soft-rock classic. The tune brims with the breathtaking intimacy of the Laurel Canyon scene of the late-’70s, yet it still feels modern and fresh. The burst of the electric guitar adds grit and urgency to this otherwise gorgeous number. Batt’s voice is simultaneously powerful and sincere, making it perfect company as twilight settles in. It’s the last thing one could hear before calling it a day, at which point we can dream about what was and what is to come. 

“We sit around the crowd and watch the southern lights
Trying to feel good but it just don’t feel right,
Where are all the memories we cared for
Too hard to revisit now,
I’ve been thinking, we should dance all night
Really feel, I don’t care what song
I just need, to dance my way through the pain”

BATTS’ new album, The Nightline, is out on Friday, October 14th. We can tell you it is a gorgeous album, so pre-order it on Bandcamp

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Dry Cleaning – “No Decent Shoes For Rain” (London, England)

RIYL: Squid, Baxter Drury, English Teacher

Is there a more interesting, entertaining, and engaging band around than Dry Cleaning? In their short career, the London four-piece have turned post-punk on its head with their off-kilter and brazen arrangements and the witty, weird, and whimsical lyricism of Florence Shaw (who, by the way, is a teacher). This year alone, they shared a dedication to Shaw’s family pet turtle, “Gary Ashby”, the bizarrely catchy “Anna Calls from the Arctic”, and the wiggly “Don’t Press Me”. Shaw (vocals), Nicholas Hugh Andrew Buxton (drums), Thomas Paul Dowse (guitar), and Lewis Maynard (bass) are creative geniuses. They make this point for us on their newest single, “No Decent Shoes For Rain”.

When writing this song, we wonder if they had their tour in mind since they list a bunch of countries and cities right at the start – New Zealand, France, Switzerland, Northampton, Exeter, and Egypt. This track, however, is not a geography lesson. It actually concerns more serious matters. In a way that only Dry Cleaning could do, they turn post-punk into a somber, pensive, and grueling genre. Sincere-turned-gritty guitars, a plucky bass, mournful keys, and melodic percussion create the woozy atmosphere. Meanwhile, Shaw, in her usual spoken-word approach, narrates the “madness” within and around her. While she shares that the track largely deals with grief – the grief that comes with the loss of loved ones, ending of relationships, and the accompanying feelings of loneliness and depression – Shaw does it in a way that only she can: with wit.

“It’s so good to meet you
But not here
Not here obviously
I’ve seen your arse but not your mouth
That’s normal now
Lamb Sandy and Felt Mel
Especially, especially on a day like today”

Dry Cleaning’s new album, Stumpwork, is out next Friday, October 21st on 4AD. Pre-orders available at these links and on Bandcamp.

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Jobber – “Heel Turn” (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: Hellrazor, Speedy Ortiz, All Dogs

At The Revue, we’re no strangers to the world of professional wrestling (well, mostly Rich, as he just spent the weekend in New Jersey watching deathmatches). There are a lot of parallels between the world of music and professional wrestling, mostly their abilities to tell human stores on such a simple level that a pure melody or a well-timed missile dropkick can say so many things. Enter Jobber, a band that’s tied together some professional wrestling lore with some important, human issues. An earlier single, “Hell in a Cell“, for instance, connected the risks pro wrestlers take to the exploitation of workers. 

While the band’s name may reference a wrestler who’s paid to lose, Jobber’s latest single, “Heel Turn”, packs a punch that shows there’s no indication of lying down for anyone. In wrestling, a “heel turn” signifies a wrestler turning from a fan-favorite to bad guy, usually in one huge moment. The single has that kind of dark edge to it with some distorted guitars and heavy drumming setting the tone early as well as some churning guitar chords. Katie Meizner’s voice also has a sinister quality to it, as she sings about bad habits and behavior. As Meizner puts it in a statement, the song has a lesson we can all learn from: “If wrestling’s most reviled heels can get a redemption arc, so can most of us.” Sometimes it takes throwing Marty Jannetty through a barbershop window to achieve your childhood dreams.

Jobber are: Kate Meizner, (vocals, guitar), Michael Julius (guitar), Maggie Toth (bass), and Mike Falcone (drums). “Heel Turn” will be on their upcoming EP, Hell in a Cell, which is out October 21 on Exploding in Sound. You can pre-order it on Bandcamp here.

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Sister Wives – “Streets at Night” and “O Dŷ i Dŷ” (Sheffield, England)

RIYL: The Black Angels, Mermaidens, Ex Hex

So why are Sister Wives one of our favorite discoveries of the year? Obviously, Donna Lee (vocals, keys, synths), Rose Love (vocals, bass), Liv Willars (vocals, guitar), Lisa OHara (vocals, drums) create awesome music, channeling the great riot grrrl and grunge bands of the past. They also are intelligent songwriters and storytellers, which they demonstrated when ripping apart traditional gender roles on “Ticking Time Bomb” and the mundane lives we live on “Greater Place”. In many ways, they’re like contemporary folklore writers, creatively telling the stories and problems of today and, in turn, crafting their own mythology. They add two more chapters to their growing legend, and both are wickedly awesome.

A sinister, neo-psychedelic tone emerges from “Streets at Night”. The quartet’s vocals are shadowy, floating through the occasional blasts of electricity that rings through the chiming guitars and creepy synths. They share how for so many people that life after dark is one of survival. “Your cheap thrill, my terror”, Lee sings with ghostly effect at the beginning. It’s an insightful number that highlights so many of our society’s problems.

Meanwhile on “O Dŷ i Dŷ”, Sister Wives look inward. Welsh folklore is intertwined within a spooky, proggy, synth-rock arrangement. The combination is mesmerizing yet eerie, and the effect is magnified by the band’s distant yet harmonious vocals. While the lyrics are sung in Welsh, which only adds to the tune’s fantasy-like nature, they ask whether what they and others are doing is celebrating Welsh culture or a form of cultural appropriation. It’s a fine line they are walking, but we think most would agree that Sister Wives are bringing this ancient culture into the 21st Century.

These two songs are taken from the band’s debut album, Y Gawres. It will be released October 28th via Libertino Records. Pre-order it at the label’s store or Bandcamp.

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JFDR – “The Orchid” (Reykjavik, Iceland)

RIYL: Wet, Jenny Hval, Joanna Newsom

If Jófríður Ákadóttir name isn’t familiar, you’ve probably heard her voice. She’s a founding member of post-rock trio Samaris as well as Pascal Pinon, and she’s collaborated with several artists, including Ólafur Arnalds. Ákadóttir is also the person behind JFDR. Through this solo project, the Icelander has weaved between electronic music to electro-pop. We also can add wondrous theater thanks to “The Orchid”.

JFDR’s latest single is extraordinarily beautiful. The delicate notes from the harp and the fluttering, distant flute streams through the ambient haze, and this soundscape seems to have evolved out of a fantasy or some other dimension. It feels surreal. Ákadóttir’s whispery vocal, meanwhile, skips over the tranquility, much like a stone barely touching a still pond. Her words, too, are like a fantasy. Actually, they are, as she shares a gorgeous fairy tale that could form the basis of Guillermo del Toro’s next film.

“Once an orchid sat
In a silver light and
Solemnly waited
Slightly breathing

Touched its glistening tear
Only one dream away from
A perfect birth
One promise away from birth”

While there is no word on whether a new EP or LP is coming, the single is JFDR’s first with Houndstooth. We can, as such, expect a record to come soon.

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Gillian Stone – “Raven’s Song” (Toronto, Canada)

RIYL:  Agnes Obel, Joanna Newsom, Aldous Harding

When we last covered Gillian Stone, her single “Amends” defied classification. It was a powerful yet surreal song that took listeners on an unpredictable journey. That’s the music of Gillian Stone: absolutely captivating.

On “Raven’s Song”, Stone again creates something that feels completely unique. Starting with some deep, drawn-out strings, the Toronto-based artist’s voice cuts through the stillness of the song’s early moments. Some drumming adds to the atmosphere, like a ship navigating rough water in the dead of night. It builds slowly and methodically with more instruments and layers coming in. When Stone’s voice is layered upon itself, it becomes bone-chillingly haunting. The last third of the track has an incredible percussion part, which brings the song right to the brink of an eruption but holds back just enough for Stone to keep control.

“I’ll take the torch to the river
in the dead of night.
I’ll take the torch to the river,
that blinding burning light.

Raven’s Song,
I’m stilling hanging on”

Gorgeous.

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