The Matinee ’22 v. 138 teeters between the past and the future, offering hazy moments of nostalgia while presenting the music of young artists who are redefining what is conventional. The stories told, too, are imaginative, insightful and sometimes all too relatable.
Ruth Lyon – “Clown” (Newcastle, England)
RIYL: Fiona Apple, Aldous Harding, Agnes Obel
In a short time, Ruth Lyon has made plenty of people do double takes with her off-kilter mix of chamber-pop and alt-folk. She brilliantly combines theatre, classical music, and the indie spirit of invention, which she mastered on the insightful and eye-opening “Trouble”. Lyon, as such, belongs in a very exclusive group of artists who push boundaries yet the music remains accessible. “Clown” is further evidence of how the Newcastle singer-songwriter continues to make the unconventional conventional.
A light playfulness is heard in the first half of Lyon’s newest track, particularly with the melodic funkiness created by the catchy rhythm section and keys. Lyon’s delivery, too, is light and spry even though her words are deeply introspective. The track, however, then slows, slightly transforming into a darker tone as a sombre, stinging violin emerges. This turning point is where Lyon’s tale of self-destruction hits hard, as she describes how we all tend to explode at the most crucial moments. The imagery she paints is fantastic.
“I fell into the rhythm of you, dance like a Demon till the afternoon
Got hooked on feeling nothing, nice to be numb
Squinting through days, you can only keep me in a manner of ways
Though I may be bound down, I’m bonded to my own clown
Though I may be bound down, I’m bonded to my own clown”
Lyon’s new EP, Direct Debit to Vogue, is out on November 26th via Pink Lane Records. It likely will be one of the great mini-records of the year.
Pearla – “The Place with No Weather” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Skullcrusher, Babehoven, Angel Olsen
We will say it now even though the answer won’t be known for another four to sixteen months: Pearla‘s new album, Oh Glistening Onion, The Nighttime Is Coming, will be one of 2023’s most anticipated records AND one of its very bests. Nicole Rodriguez has already released three incredible songs in advance – the graceful power of “Effort”, the clever and imaginative “Ming the Clam”, and the stunning “About Hunger, About Love”. She, however, might have saved the very best with single number four.
“The Place with No Weather” is sensational. By the end of its 230-second duration, we were repeatedly uttering “OMG” with our jaws dragging along the floor. The song is one of the year’s highlights. Its searing, cosmic, shoegaze-y open is deceptive, as the melody quickly turns into gorgeous and immensely intimate dream-folk. Rodriguez’s saccharine voice strides over the ambient layers of gauzy-turned-acoustic guitar and light keys. Gradually the song rises again to galactic heights before returning back to Earth. Rodriguez also draws inspiration from the entities only viewed by telescopes as well as her surroundings. Her songwriting is beautifully poetic, yet her heavy words are full of meaning and emotion as one person knocked her off her orbit.
“But I believe there’s a planet full of frozen clouds
Who don’t measure themselves by the mountains surrounding at all
They just float around
I keep getting stuck pushing back the direction of days
And I can’t control how my mind inflates
All those god-awful sounds
In the words you say
So I stopped believing
You stole my universe (x7)”
DREAMING OF ISLANDS – “Traces” (Malmö, Sweden)
RIYL: Boy Harsher, Portishead, Morcheeba
Our introduction to DREAMING OF ISLANDS happened in February when Ida Gyllensten and Magnus Hedberg shared the cinematic “HotBlood”. The duo, however, have been plying their trade for half-a-decade, culminating in the release of their self-titled, debut album less than two weeks ago. With its combination of trip-hop, post-rock, and shoegaze, Dreaming of Islands is an incredible, musical experience. In one instance, Gyllensten and Hedberg take us to the cosmos, and the next we’re sent to an exclusive, subterranean club. In the case of the LP’s ultimate track, “Traces”, we dive into an oasis and lose ourselves within this gorgeous piece of dreamy trip-hop.
From the serene early moments to the dramatic but breathtaking finale, we get lost inside this hallucination. Gyllensten’s arresting vocal immediately grabs hold, recounting how she loved another with her entire being. However, this love is a forbidden one, involving a celestial god and an ordinary human. Her tale is right out of Greek mythology but with a twist – they go their separate ways but they leave no trace of what they had. As the story builds, Hedberg works his magic, as the tumbling rhythms escalate and waves of synths, keys, and ambient noise cascade around Gyllensten. When the song reaches its end, the moment is one to remember.
Dreaming of Islands can be heard on Spotify.
Rubblebucket – “Geometry” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Poliça + Aldous Harding + Phoenix Foundation
Rubblebucket are as unpredictable of a band as any. Their recent releases from their upcoming record, Earth Worship – the unconventional ear-worm, “Morning in the Sun” and the steamy title track “Earth Worship” – prove that point even more. One thing that’s always guaranteed with the music of Kalmia Traver and Alex Toth, however, is there’s going to be an undeniable creativity and energy. The uniqueness and shifting shape of their sound makes them hard to fit in any preconceived genre, and that’s a big reason why Rubblebucket are such a special band.
Just a few days before releasing Earth Worship, Rubblebucket share their latest single, “Geometry”. While it’s slower paced than the previous two singles, “Geometry” may be the most infectiously, groovy one so far. A fantastic bass groove and stomping percussion drives the song’s early moments with Traver’s voice guiding the listeners. Fun harmonies, including some whistles thrown in, make the song undeniably Rubblebucket. That and the tune’s fun sax solo, which returns as a huge brass and woodwind celebration before the end. Lyrically, the track is intentionally simple with a lot of repetition, but that’s not to say there isn’t something captivating about them, including the opening lines:
“I woke up in a painting
It’s happened a lot lately
Has anyone seen the painter?
I’d like a different scene please”
Youth Sector – “The Ball” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Devo, LCD Soundsystem, W.H. Lung
While it would be awesome to have Delorean or a hot tub that could turn into a time machine, these inventions are purely science fiction (or at least we think they are). The most accessible form of time travel for the average lay person is music. While songs cannot physically take us to yesteryear or even the future, they can make us believe we are living in another time. One band that has perfected this science are Youth Sector, who had us moving and shaking four years ago with “Automatic”. Today, they induce us to dust off the polyester and sequins shirts and the bell bottoms, and in turn we pretend we’re heading back to the disco. There we kick up our heels and dance like there’s no tomorrow to “The Ball”.
Like Devo reborn or LCD Soundsystem on a bender, the English quintet once again have us grooving with the slithery, whammy guitar chords; the hip-shaking rhythms; and some blustery synth work. Unlike the music of the past, this track is not merely about a night out and having a good time. On the contrary, Youth Sector sing about the demise of humanity. There’s no Noah to save us from the flood of lies, misinformation, egoists, and conspiracy theorists. Instead, we’re the ones who have to beat back the waves, not by creating arks but by erecting walls to keep the water out.
“And we are all in need of rescue
‘Cause it’s you who burnt the bridge,
Who burnt the bridge
There’s no denying it now
The collective thinking is
Yes, the ship is sinking
Now the water’s at our hips
It’s just a case of how not if
You sank the ship”
Nick Tompkins (vocal, guitar), Josh Doyle (bass), Bradley Moore (guitar), Steve Ray (drums), and Nick Smith (synth, keys). The single is out on Dance to the Radio.
GIFT – “Lost for You” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: DIVV, POND, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets
When we wrote about “Share the Present” less than two weeks ago, we said we could not anoint GIFT as the next great shoegaze band until entirely hearing their debut album, Momentary Presence. After spinning it a few times, we can make it official – GIFT are the next great shoegaze band. So while we tend not to share multiple songs from an artist or band in the same month, we’re making an exception in this case because the LP is too good to ignore. And so is “Lost For You”.
What makes this tune great is that it’s quite different from the other nine songs on the LP. Shoegaze still is the foundation, but significant splashes of psychedelic-pop rush across the track. As such, the band simultaneously take us across the galaxy and through the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. This little ride is dizzying yet uplifting, where we feel like we are spinning up the middle of a glamorous sonic twister. Front-person TJ Freda’s reverb-drenched vocal, though, keeps us from “fading away”. He reminds us that “time moves slow”, so cherish the moments because eventually everything does fade away. Hopefully, though, not this band.
GIFT are TJ Freda, Jessica Gurewitz, Kallan Campbell, Justin Hrabovsky, and Cooper Naess. Momentary Presence is out on Dedstrange. Stream or purchase the album at at these links or head directly to Bandcamp.
koleżanka – “Canals of our City” (Brooklyn via Phoenix, USA)
RIYL: Stereolab, Mitski, Broadcast
Kristina Moore has been a bit of a musical shapeshifter in her half decade releasing music as koleżanka. Whether it’s her earlier synth-driven Vessel or the indie rock sounds that followed, Moore has an ever-expanding sound. Her 2021 record, Place Is, was a culmination of that, drawing us in with “7th st/7th ave”.
On her first single since Place Is, “Canals of our City”, koleżanka dials back some of the modern production and captures a raw feeling of a life-changing moment. A fantastic drumbeat gets things rolling as Moore’s voice floats over the chaotic sounds underneath. The song’s lyrics recall a formative relationship, discovering old, stashed-away photos and memories flooding back. There’s a youthful quality in it until Moore describes a moment where a partner receives a phone call about the loss of someone.
“You got the call that he was gone
murder in the first degree
disappeared for days without a phone
without a warning
Cruel are all the way the world will give you life unraveling
hot as hell July sun in our eyes
there’s no escaping
that was the last year that you spoke to me”
This memory formed an unsealable crack in their relationship. Before the number ends, a guitar solo eventually gives way to just the harmonies, leading to an incredibly stunning moment.
The single is out on Bar/None Records.
Ruby Moss – “Pretend” (Dublin, Ireland)
RIYL: Pip Blom, Liz Phair, Santana
Ruby Moss may be only 15 years old, but the Dubliner is mature beyond her years. First, Moss does not care what pronouns people want to use when referring to the teenager. Whether people choose to say she, he, they, or even it, Moss will reply (although her PR uses she/her). Second, Moss is heavily involved in social and environmental causes, as she’s a climate ambassador, and we imagine she is also an academic superstar. Oh, Moss is also extremely musically inclined, studying classical music and playing not one or two instruments. She plays four – the guitar, flute, piano, and organ. That’s mind-blowing given Moss’ age. For her newest single (and number seven overall), she only whips out the flute and electric guitar and, with the assistance of a few friends, delivers an awesome, angsty number.
With “Pretend”, Moss channels everyone from Liz Phair, Kim Gordon, and Kurt Cobain in her lyrics, where she reveals how she repeatedly suppresses her emotions and pain so that others don’t have to worry about her. In actuality, however, she is” crying” and “dying inside”. Her words are straight to the point, but they hit hard. Moss’ guitar work, too, is awesome, where at times she sounds like Santana and another moment like Donna Grantis. And she’s only 15 years old!
While Moss playfully says she’s a superstar in waiting on her Bandcamp page, she definitely has the talent to be just that.
Human Barbie – “empty” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Chapterhouse, Slowdive, Swervedriver
Less than two weeks ago, Christopher Leopold released his project Human Barbie‘s new EP, no worries, which any lover of dream-pop and classic shoegaze should add to their music collection. It’s 1989 and 1991 resurrected, highlighted by songs, “no worries”, “wait”, and “empty”.
The latter is a stunning, hazy number that is made for laid-back weekends. During such days, we contemplate the events of the recent past and what awaits us tomorrow and beyond. With the gorgeous, hazy guitars guiding us, we drift within the stream of our thoughts, and we hope some wish or desire will come true. For Leopold, it is rekindling the fires that once ignited between him and another. Like us, his memories only are realized within the nostalgia of this sublime track.
“We were so happy forever
Just gotta keep the dream alive for another year
Cold and jaded but whatever
Come over, kiss the scene goodbye and disappear”
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