The Matinee ’22 v. 143 – the second of two features on this Friday, October 28th – is focused on artists and bands from the US and Canada. The seven songs are full of surprises, including a heavy-hitting, politically-charged number; a couple of indie stars starting new chapters; and newcomers who mesmerize with their poignant lyricism or ghostly sound. Oh, there also is one band who continue to do what they do, which is unexpectedly emerge from, in their words, “the sewer”. 

As usual, all these tunes are included on The Songs of October playlist, which is on Spotify and SoundCloud. For Part 1 of The Matinee (or volume 142), click on this link


Algiers – “Irreversible Damage” (feat. Zach de la Rocha) (Atlanta, USA)

RIYL: Childish Gambino, SAULT, Run the Jewels

When arguably the most important, political band of the 2010s and 2020s teams up with the front-man of arguably the most important political band of the 1990s, the outcome undoubtedly will be a full-on assault on the senses. The single, too, will be one that is a powerful critique of the state of the world, and it comes at a time when people need to mobilize before those who spread lies and misinformation do any more “Irreversible Damage”, the subject of Algiers‘ menacing new single.

With Rage Against the Machine’s Zach de la Rocha on guest vocals, the Atlanta-formed quartet’s political intensity is amped up even further. As dueling guitars and crushing rhythms forge to create a propulsive, post-punk environment, Franklin James Fisher and De La Rocha take turns in furiously capturing the multitude of conflicts around the world. And in the US, an election is just four days away, and this song is a rallying cry for people to exercise their right to vote and ensure the truth deniers do not get a hold of power. Because if they do, who knows what irreversible damage they could continue to inflict. Simply an awesome and timely song from the most important political band of the last 12 years. 

Algiers are: Franklin James Fisher (vocals, guitar), Ryan Mahan (bass), Lee Tesche (guitar), and Matt Tong (drums). Their new double-album, Shook, will be released February 23rd, 2023 via Matador Records. In addition to De La Rocha, it includes guest appearances from Future Islands’ Sam Herring, Backxwash, LaToya Kent, and a host of others. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available here and directly on Bandcamp.

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The Men – “Hard Livin’” (New York City, USA)

RIYL: METZ, Titus Andronicus, Jerry Lee Lewis

In the description and press release for The Men‘s newest single, “Hard Livin'”, the foursome wrote: “When everyone left NYC, the sewer opened and we crawled out.” This statement amused us because, as fans of the band will attest, The Men always have appeared unexpectedly and out of nowhere. They’ll go silent for a while and then, voila, they have a new album. Mark Perro (vocals, guitar, keys), Nick Chiericozzi (vocals, guitar, saxophone), Rich Samis (drums), and Kevin Faulkner (bass) also may suddenly show up at a venue and start jamming. When they do appear, it’s a cause for celebration since these throwback garage-punkers are sure to get the adrenaline flowing. So make some space and get ready to move (or wildly shake your head and fists) to the quartet’s rollicking new single.

While The Men have re-emerged from the underground, they take us back as far as the ’60s and as close as the ’90s with this raw, furious, and energetic number. For nearly 3.5 minutes, the outfit whale on their instruments with Perro’s killer piano playing driving the track. Not since Jerry Lee Lewis has a keys-driven rock ‘n roll tune sounded so outrageously boisterous. Perro, too, emulates the legendary rocker with a piercing vocal that shouts out, “I just got to be who I am”. These words are his subtle way to say everyone is a critic and everything is being recorded, so it is a struggle to just be who we are and to have a good time. But with The Men, we’re guaranteed to have a great time.

More hip-shaking days are to come. Specifically February 3rd, 2023, which is when The Men’s new album, New York City, will be released on Fuzz Club. Pre-orders and pre-saves can be made at these links and on Bandcamp.

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Sunny War – “No Reason” (Nashville via Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Yola + Lady Lamb + Haley Heynderickx

It’s impossible to pin the music of Sunny War down to any genre. Folk or country might be close, but War brings a punk attitude to both that makes her music truly unique. The Nashville-based artist is gearing up to release a new record, Anarchist Gospel, next year, that features appearances from some pretty big names, including David Rawlings, Allison Russell, and Jim James. 

“No Reason” almost seems defeatist in the nature of its title. The track’s upbeat sound would suggest otherwise – from the song’s “oohs” floating through the verses and the brilliant guitar solo capping off the track. But that’s exactly what War intends, the dynamic nature of humanity is polarizing in the same way. War says there’s no true good nor bad, as humans we’re always trying to navigate between the two. The honesty of the track is echoed in what War said in a statement about the single: “You’re just trying to stay in the middle of those two things all the time, and you’re probably doing a shitty job of it. That’s o.k. because we’re all just monsters.”

“Bust your back trying to behave
To your best self you are a slave
Can’t sleep in the bed you made
‘Til you let go and finally cave

Cos you’re an angel
And you’re a demon
Ain’t got no rhyme
Ain’t got no reason”

Sunny War’s new album, Anarchist Gospel, is out January 23rd, 2023 via New West Records. Pre-order it on Bandcamp and the label’s online store.

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Caroline Rose – “Love / Lover / Friend” (Burlington, VT and New York City, USA)

RIYL: Imogen Heap, Cross Record, Björk

When we listed Caroline Rose‘s last album, Superstar, as one of our Favorite Albums of 2020, it was due to their sharp wit; the mash-up of genres (pop, funk, R&B, rock, electro-op); and it being outrageously fun. That amusing, fun-loving approach is now history, at least for now. In its place, Rose heads in an unexpected and stunning direction – and “stunning” means many things in this case.

“Love / Lover / Friend” is absolutely gorgeous. Immediately, Rose introduces us to their new chapter. A soft, Latin guitar and Rose’s soft vocal is all that is heard at first. Her tongue-in-cheek songwriting style is replaced by a more introspective and poetic approach, yet her words remain brutally honest.

“I’m not a rag doll
With which you can always play
I’m not a house key
A key that you can always change”

After these lines are sung, the song patiently builds with an enchanting string arrangement and atmospheric synths emerging. The track then takes the form of an alluring fantasy, sweeping us off our feet as the melody intensifies. We are swept away into this new, mystical and mystifying world of Caroline Rose, and it’s stunning.

The single is out now on New West Records. Surely an album is coming in 2023.

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Viridian – “Slowly / Letting Go” (Vancouver, Canada)

RIYL: Ghostly Kisses, Vancouver Sleep Clinic, Sade

Six years ago when Michael Di Spirito and Danielle Davie were merely 17 years old, they formed Viridian. Like many high school bands, they experimented with their sound and direction. Were they going to be an indie-folk or indie-pop band, which is the path most teenage duos follow? Would they be a pop-rock group that created catchy anthems for the plenty of parties that awaited them in Grade 12 and university? They have opted for none of these, choosing instead to traverse the unhurried space where dream-pop and darkwave converge. While this approach will not have them headlining house parties, it could very well have them selling out venues as grand as opera houses to as intimate as cafes since these places are perfect to hear “Slowly / Letting Go”.

Viridian’s newest single is a beautifully lush yet moody number, reminiscent of the surreal atmospheres that fellow Canadian Ghostly Kisses create. Davie’s hushed but sublime vocal, too, echoes Margaux Sauvé’s delivery, where each lyric seems to linger a few seconds longer. Di Spirito’s gauzy guitar echoes in the foreground, adding to the song’s hazy, engrossing mood. Our minds, too, are left in a haze with Davie’s words bouncing around in our mind. 

“One, two, three
Breathe in slowly
Until we see

Now twice we’ve been
(Stuck with just you and me)
Here where we’ve always been”

Viridian are a band to watch, and hopefully all eyes will be on them in the months and years to come. 

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King Tuff – “Smalltown Stardust” (Brattleboro, VT USA)

RIYL: lo-fi Ty Segall, Beck, SASAMI

Other than a one-off single released in 2020 (“I’m Free”), four years have passed since Kyle Thomas has shared anything under his King Tuff project. That anything was The Other LP. Thomas, however, has not been idle in this time, as he performed on SASAMI‘s outstanding Squeeze album and played in her touring band. The roles this time have been reversed, as Thomas is prepping for the release of his new LP with Sasami Ashworth producing, playing, and offering backing vocals. SASAMI’s touches can be felt and heard on the album’s lead single and title track, “Smalltown Stardust”.

Whereas The Other was groovy, “Smalltown Stardust” is a smooth, laid-back slacker-rock number that would be perfect to spin at the cottage as the sun sets in the distance. While the track is restrained, it has a blissful feel thanks to Thomas’ soft delivery and the brilliantly layered arrangement. Gritty, unfiltered guitars are held back while a Beck-like rhythmic stammer percolates in the background. Synths join in at the end, giving this low-key rocker a euphoric climax. It’s a perfect ending to a story about reconnecting with people we’ve left behind and hoping to recapture something we have not touched in a long time, if at all.

“Static on the radio
Broadcast from a dying world
Meet me at the usual
Nowhere else for us to go

Cuz it’s dark inside too
And I’m holding onto wonder
Holding something I can’t touch
Holding onto Smalltown Stardust”

Smalltown Stardust arrives January 27th via Sub Pop. Pre-order it on Bandcamp or at the label’s online store.

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Sour Widows – “I-90” (Oakland, USA)

RIYL: Mitski + Pinegrove + Duster

Last year, Sour Widows released their stellar sophomore EP, Crossing Over. It flew a bit under the radar, but there was something there that stuck with the people who heard any of the four tracks on the EP. Earlier this year, Maia Sinaiko (guitar, vocals), Susanna Thomson (guitar, vocals), and Max Edelman (drums) released a new single “Witness”, which had a bit more polish than the sound on the EP. It possibly signaled something big brewing for the band. While it’s not as big as an album announcement, Sour Widows have shared a new single, “I-90”.

Right from the beginning, “I-90” shows what makes Sour Widows’ music so captivating. Sinaiko’s voice is front and center and sinks its hooks right into the listener. The track builds with some fantastic guitar chiming over some intricate drumming, giving some ’90s vibes. The song then rockets into some huge moments. Roaring guitar and Sinako’s voice booming before it all reaches a peaceful orbit just prior to the burning re-entry.

The lyrics are just as much of an emotional ride, as the song was written after the passing of Sinaiko’s partner. She reflects on memories and sorting through emotions on an otherwise ordinary drive.

“I wonder what it felt like asleep in that car
While I drove by all the cold cattle
Could you feel them breathing?
Dripping from the nostrils

I watched your eyes rolling upward
and your head nod back
I was just happy I could see you like that
So prone, so peaceful
Nothing wrong, the freeway emptied out”

The single is out on Exploding in Sound Records.

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