The Matinee ’22 v. 141 is like a heavyweight title fight, as it features artists and bands from each side of the pond. Ten songs are spotlighted with five each from the UK/Ireland and the USA. So get your scorecards out and decide a victor (or call it a draw).
UK / Ireland
WILDES – “(Run to the) Flames” (London, England)
RIYL: a knee-buckling, jaw-dropping, emotional stunner
Initially, WILDES‘ long-awaited debut album, Other Words Fail Me, was supposed to be released earlier this month, but the date has been pushed back to January 13th. While we have to wait a little longer to hear the entire LP – and what’s another couple of months after patiently waiting for a few years? – the extra time allows Ella Walker to rev up the anticipation by sharing a few tracks. So far, the Londoner has unveiled two superb tracks in “Lightly” and “Far and Wide”. Single number three, however, might be the most stellar of the bunch.
Strap in because “(Run to the) Flames” will blow you away with grace, beauty, and Walker’s lyrical devastation. Gently the song commences, although Walker’s incredible voice is full of desperation and doubt. As the electric guitar calmly strums in the background, she shares the conflict that pulls her apart from the inside. The track gradually builds, as strings emerge, the guitar and percussion intensify, and Walker’s vocal becomes fuller and more anguished. The song’s apex is remarkable: a knee-buckling, jaw-dropping moment both sonically and lyrically.
“I think of when my will would bend
And sway in the morning breeze
Now I sink in to the earth
A stubborn and wanting beast
Sing me a poison tune
To lull me to sleep so
I’ll only dream of
The woman I could’ve been
But I feel awake
And I need to change
There’s never an easy way
I’ll run to the flames”
Once more, Other Words Fail Me will be released on January 13th, 2023. AWAL will release it to the world.
Eaves Wilder – “I Stole Your Jumper” (London, England)
RIYL: A Gen Z that channels the grunge-pop of the ’90s
Eaves Wilder‘s name won’t be forgotten anytime soon. One of the reasons is that the 19-year-old artist has signed with Secretly Canadian, who has an eye for talent. Richard Swift, Yoko Ono, Jason Molina, The War on Drugs, ANOHNI, Porridge Radio, and Stella Donnelly are just some of the names that have released music on the legendary indie label. The London-based singer-songwriter should soon join these artists in reaching star if not legendary status. However, she has her own distinct sound – a grunge-pop approach that recalls the ’90s. If Wilder achieves stardom that many expect is her destiny, she cold single-handedly revive an era and a genre. She could become the next Liz Phair, Veruca Salt, or The Breeders, and “I Stole Your Jumper” could be what launches her to the stratosphere.
Groovy yet gritty, entertaining yet hard-hitting, Wilder has delivered a gem of a single. It will get you moving and dancing while also making you feel empowered to take on the scumbags of the world – the people who manipulate, use, and abuse others. In this case, she directs her angst at an ex and those like him, and she does it with witty and biting commentary.
“You’re a manipulative charmer
And you do it so well
How can someone mediocre be so into themselves?
Chauvinistic, sadistic you ripped the life from my chest
Stuck your teeth in my neck
You walked into the room like you’re doing a favor
Grace us with your one-liners
We laugh at you later
You think you own the room
Me and the room have been laughing at you.”
She’s going to be a star.
Lime Garden – “Bitter” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: bold, young, indie-rock bands who are unafraid of pushing envelopes and revealing everything
Two years ago, a young band blew us away with their multi-faceted approach to rock. Lime Garden could be melodically bleak like The Velvet Underground, dial up disco-punk akin to Blondie once did, or deliver big, bold anthems a la Wolf Alice. Their talent and versatility unsurprisingly landed them as one of our Artists to Watch in 2021. Over the past 20 months, Chloe Howard (vocals, guitar), Leila Deeley (guitar), Tippi Morgan (bass), and Annabel Whittle (drums) have released a handful of singles, but their debut album still remains elusive. Maybe it’s coming next year, and we certainly hope that “Bitter” is the teaser of what awaits.
The quartet delve into the urgent and electrifying art-rock that has overtaken the Brit scene. They do this, however, with a darker, more urgent tone a la Warpaint. As such, the track will not just get you sitting on the edge of your seat or even bouncing on your toes; it also will have you contemplate your fate. With a terrific rhythm section driving the track and a dangling guitar and synths lingering in the background, Howard, through a quick delivery, shares how “she fears to love myself” and what awaits in the days and months to come. Her lyrics are terrific.
“Because the grass is greener once it’s rained even tho you know that not
Quite my take time begins to let us heal one minute you’re numb and the
Next you feel. I fear to love myself because I’ve done it before and I’ll do it
Again and I begin to accept my fate I can’t mess with things of exaggerate.
And I can’t wait for the pictures to come out when I look back on this moment
And I haven’t got a cloud
You see to be grateful to be kind and to know it what you need is to know
The song is out on So Young Records. Let’s hope an LP or EP is coming next year.
Holly Humberstone – “Can You Afford to Lose Me?” (London via Grantham, England)
RIYL: a young singer-songwriter who bares her soul while treading into folktronica
Holly Humberstone burst on the music scene two years ago on the strength of some stunning covers, a plum spot opening for Lewis Capaldi’s 2020 tour, and great videos to accompany her original songs. The young British singer-songwriter (she’s still just 22 years old), however, is an incredible talent with an eye for seeing things that other people do not. She often sings about the struggles of others and how she notices the signs because she, too, has experienced being down and stuck in a corner. Humberstone, who is another Artist to Watch alumnus, often shared her music via a mix of pop-rock and widescreen electro-rock. On “Can You Afford to Lose Me?“, she changes pace and enters a whole new realm.
The sincerity and warmth of Humberstone’s previous songs remains on her newest single, where she sings about two people going their separate ways. However, the London-based artist tells a gripping story of two long-time companions through a spectacular, folktronica arrangement, which sounds like Bon Iver and Gordi at their most intimate and immediate. Similar to these two great musicians, Humberstone ensures we can feel the strain in her heart and soul through her vulnerable songwriting. Her words leave as deep of an impression as does her superb voice and the stunning approach.
“So go ahead and do your worst
But don’t you go and cry when it hurts
Can you afford to lose me?
Go ahead and pack your bags
But, once you’re gone, you can’t come back
Can you afford to lose me?”
While we know Humberstone is not directly her question at us, we can say that our music libraries would feel empty without her music.
Aoife Nessa Frances – “Chariot” (Dublin, Ireland)
RIYL: dream-folk that sounds like a fantasy coming to life
We look forward to the day that Aoife Nessa Frances has the opportunity to grace the stages of Newport Folk Festival, as Ireland’s best-kept secret mesmerizes the 10,000 patrons with her tantalizing voice and sensational songwriting. They likely would be in the same pose as us – sitting motionlessly while her soft, feathery voice overtakes our subconscious, as was the case with the levitating “This Still Life”. Frances’ ability to make music sound like pure fantasy or a dream is what will overcome people, and she does this again on “Chariot”.
The song title elicits images of a time that we have only read in history books or grand novels. The tranquility that emanates from the tapping percussion, the lo-fi, guttural guitar, and Frances’ vocal, however, is very much from the present. We are, as such, situated somewhere between fantasy and reality, wanting to flutter away like a butterfly in an open meadow or to ride away on a chariot and feel the cool breeze sweeping through our hair. Either effect is felt in every element of this mystical, folk dazzler and in the images that Frances depicts in her words.
“Only the west knows heaven allows
Freedom of our minds
Catch and forget
Bleeding from our souls, knowing the rest
Maybe the backroads next time we meet
Everyone out for themselves
Do you know where this story ends
Can you guess where I’ll end up
Even then I’ll have to forget”
Laura Jinn – “Analog Stalker” (New Orleans, USA)
RIYL: a dark, indietronica number that echoes of FKA Twigs and Ramsey
The first time we heard Laura Jinn, we knew immediately she was quite the lyricist. Infectious synthesizer and witty observational lyrics defined “I’m driving to Target” and her debut EP, Sick!. This year, Jinn has embarked on a musical series called, Diary 1: Hello World. The songs released so far indicate a more refined sound, but Jinn’s inviting lyricism is still completely intact.
“Analog Stalker” is the third single from the project, and the song has some spooky vibes that are fitting for a late-October release. Some haunting synth kicks things off, which leads right into a menacing guitar. That sound gets even stranger as the noise kicks out and Jinn’s voice is front and center and completely distorted. It all culminates in a track that’s part cyber-punk and part goth.
Lyrically, the track is Jinn at her best – singing about being a step ahead of a stalker.
“I’ve been going since six in the morning
Giving all my neighbors their ice bucket warning
I heard that your power’s out
How you gonna stalk me now?
Don’t worry, I’ll just come to your house”
Jacklen Ro – “Sunshine I’m Counting on You” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: ’70s beachy vibes on an autumn day
Jacklen Ro have been pumping out some great tunes over the years. With an early record, Love Junkies, coming out in 2019 and and an EP in 2021 plus some singles sprinkled throughout, Jackie Giroux and Caelen Perkins have been fun to follow and hear evolve. The duo have just announced their official debut album, Sunshine I’m Counting on You, and released the record’s title track as its first single.
“Sunshine I’m Counting On You” has vibes that fit the name. The song is about getting through those dark times and reaching the sunshine at the end of them. It’s a sentiment echoed by the track’s bright acoustic guitar and pristine harmonies with some handclaps joining in. All of this gives the number a warm feeling. There are some fantastic guitar interludes thrown in between the verses and chorus. While the sunshine usually comes, Jacklen Ro remind us of the patience needed to get through the rough patches and back into the brighter days.
The single is out on Lolipop Records.
Fran – “Limousine” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: delicate, fluttering alt-folk a la Hand Habits and Weyes Blood
In the hands of almost any other artist, a song with the title “Limousine” would be an over-adrenalized dance or pop number about a night out on the town. Predictable fare in other words. In the hands of an artist as talented as Maria Jacobson, the unexpected happens. Instead of a rambunctious, party tune, Jacobson as Fran slows everything down and delivers another emotional and jarring single.
“Limousine” builds on what Jacobson does best – create endearing and stunning alt-folk that wraps itself around the listener like a warm vice before crushing souls with an unforgettable ending. Throughout the yearning melancholy, Jacobsen’s gorgeous voice shines above everything – the patient, rhythmic pulses; the brittle sparks of the electric guitar; and the steely tinges of the backing strings. Their words, too, are magnificent. A limousine in this case simultaneously represents euphoria and uneasiness, as two people can suddenly feel trapped and alone during an celebratory event. As Fran shares:
“In the tomb
And everyone thought we were made for each other
I get worried
What if we can’t let each other out?
And we all say the same old things we always say”
Jacobson’s sophomore album, Leaving, which includes the previously-released “So Long”, arrives January 20th, 2023. Pre-order or pre-save it at these links or head directly to Bandcamp. Fire Talk Records has the privilege.
Devon Gilfillian – “Let the Water Flow” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: a classic soul number with a message just in time for the US mid-term elections
Devon Gilfillian may end up being one of this generation’s most important songwriters. His debut LP, Black Hole Rainbow, was as impactful as it was empowering. Gilfillian doesn’t shy away from his influences, either, releasing a complete cover of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On album in 2020. A perfect choice for someone whose music has deep roots in gospel and soul as well as an awareness of the difficulties so many find in this world.
Gilfillian makes his loudest statement yet with his latest single, “Let the Water Flow”. The Nashville-based artist sings of the changing political environment in Georgia. No longer a solid red state, Georgia’s elections are close to representing the people in the state. It’s a transformation that’s happened over time, and one some people want to stop through overbearing election laws and gerrymandering, which mostly affect Black communities and voters. That’s what Gilfillian sings about and being an important voice for basic human rights. His powerful words are paired with some truly gorgeous music. Organ lies under the track’s verses. When Gilfillian’s voice is soaring, piano accompanies those heights. The track pauses for a moment before it comes to a stunning, gospel-inspired close.
The single is out now on Fantasy Records.
Phantom Handshakes – “Passport (How Far I Will Be)” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: to drown in gorgeous dreamgaze
With a little more than a week before the release of their debut album, A Passport To Remain, NYC dream-poppers Phantom Handshakes are sneaking in one more single. They’ve already shared three tracks – “Come Undone”, “The Flowery Man”, and “Stuck in a Fantasy” – so why not a nice, even number like four? We’re definitely not complaining because the perfect ending to a mini-playlist is a scintillating piece of dreamgaze, which “Passport (How Far I Will Be)” is.
One does not need a plane ticket nor to get on a boat, train, or bus to be sent to a distant place. All that is required are some headphones or speakers because Federica Tassano and Matt Sklar take us on a wondrous trip. As Tassano delicate voice warmly draws us in, Sklar channels his inner Christian Savill and Rachel Goswell (Slowdive) to create the breathtaking and hypnotic soundscape. This is dreamgaze at its ’90s peak with a tale to match. A story that could be taken from a coming-of-age film of that decade, where a young woman declares she belongs in this new place. That no one can tell her where to go nor what to do.
A Passport to Remain officially releases November 3rd. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.
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