The Matinee ’22 v. 144 is an international affair, where the spotlight shines on artists and bands not from North America. The mini-playlist features important voices to listen and watch over the coming weeks, months, and hopefully years.
Veps – “A Show of Hands” (Oslo, Norway)
RIYL: Goat Girl, Dream Wife, The Big Moon
When a band gets signed by a record label when they’re not even out of high school, they must have serious talent, and Oslo-based Veps have it in spades. Their debut EP, Open the Door, wasn’t just good; it was one of 2022’s very best. And Laura Dodson (vocal, guitar), June K. Urholt (bass), Maja B. Berge (drums), and Helena Olasveengen (keys) are just getting started, as their debut album is a mere few weeks away. The quartet have given sneak peeks with “Mooney Tunes”, “Ballarina (Norah)”, “His Brother”, and “UFO” to raise anticipation, and they add further whet our appetites with the off-kilter “A Show of Hands”.
The single commences with a cool, methodical, almost nonchalant approach that would be the perfect companion for a walk in the park. There’s a bit of sunshine with Olasveengen’s bright keys while Urholt’s bass provides the rhythm to which we set our pace. The teenagers, however, don’t stay on this plane for long, as the melody shifts, intensifying with a grunge-pop-like angst. Dodson’s smooth vocal rises and falls, as she reflects the emotion of the protagonist, who wants the night to never end and, thus, the party to continue. “I said, ‘Please don’t go / Don’t go home / I’m still here / Don’t leave me alone'”, she sings, almost on the verge of shouting.
And the party is just getting started for Veps, who are on the verge of showing the world that their potential is limitless. They’ll prove this on November 18th when Oslo Park is released on Kanine Records. Pre-order the LP on Bandcamp.
Joe Winter – “Laughing for the West” (London, England)
RIYL: ANOHNI, Gotye, Autre Ne Veut
Joe Winter‘s story is a familiar one for pretty much every artist and band that never had the good fortune of being on Nickelodeon or The Mickey Mouse Club or who isn’t named Justin Beiber. For years, they’ve been creating music, including receiving the support of the Amy Winehouse Foundation, but the London-based singer-songwriter never got their break. The lack of recognition, however, has not prevented them from doing the thing he loves. Their situation could change in an instant, and it could come pretty quickly once BBC Radio and other curators hear their newest single.
Remove any and all distractions because “Laughing for the West” will steal your attention. It brilliantly marries elements of the theater, fantasy, and a night at an exclusive club. Ambient electronic beats, a Latin guitar, a hovering flute, and a hypnotic bass are the main components, but the star is Winter’s alluring vocal. Their voice weaves from a seductive tone to one full of pain, and they hides the latter by saying, “I’m laughing, I’m laughing”. Why are they laughing? Their lyrics at the start reveal some but not everything. Winter recounts a few events, which all represent the convoluted nature of the West and how a person must navigate through them just to live. Just to survive.
“I’m gonna hold down the line
Stay down with the ship
If I watch you on my TV
Will I become you quick
Come on and hold down the time
Like crystals under the land
Let me know if I cut
Through the skin of your hands
If I fall down
If I lose your grip
Wait for the man to come in
I don’t even know his name
But he looks at me like I
Come from faraway”
Here’s hoping Winter will have his day.
Amber Arcades – “Just Like Me” (Amsterdam via Utrecht, Netherlands)
RIYL: Alvaays, Maggie Rogers, Hazel English
More than four years have passed since Annelotte de Graaf released her musical project Amber Arcades‘ last album, European Heartbreak. The LP also was the last new music the Dutch artist would release. Anyone who has followed de Graaf knows that her talents extend well beyond the studio and stage. She’s a human rights advocate and attorney (yes, she’s an attorney), and she also wrote for the now defunct Netherlands magazine, The Daily Indie. Somehow, de Graaf found time to record her first album since 2018, and last week she released the lead single, “Just like Me”.
The song represents a change for Amber Arcades, as she temporarily sets aside her indie-rock persona for an intimate, dream-pop approach. A light, breezy atmosphere emerges from the terrific orchestration – delicate, tapping percussion; stuttering synths that stay in the background; and a glistening guitar that occasionally strikes and adds to the delirium. de Graaf’s voice, too, is lovingly restrained, as she shares how she has maneuvered through life’s disappointments to get where she is today and where she could be tomorrow. Wherever the roads take her, we’ll be following and cheering for her, just like we have from nearly the start.
Hobsons Bay Coast Guard – “Tidal Wave” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: POND, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, OSees
Australia is home to three things: great singer-songwriters, bands with great names, and many outfits who create outstanding psych-rock. Hobsons Bay Coast Guard definitely fit at least one (or all three) category, as their take on the trippy genre is right up there with King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard, POND, and Psychedelic Porn Crumpets. If you need convincing, turn up the volume and get ready to spin around with “Tidal Wave”.
Whirling, reverb-drenched guitars; propulsive rhythms; and batty vocals whip through this four-minute buzz-saw. The end result is a wicked and wild ride that just might make you think you’re on a bender. However, no drugs or any artificial stimulants are needed because the Melbourne-based sextet provide all the hallucinatory effects and then some. You might find yourself running as fast as you can for the time it takes to heat up a TV dinner, jubilantly dancing, or just losing your proverbial shit. Front-man Erik Scerba’s storyline, too, is a trip, as father and son seem to be speaking in circles.
“Hey Man, What’s the point? Don’t you know that I am coming home?
Hey Son, What you doing? Don’t you know that all will be undone
Hey There, What’s your point? Don’t you know that I won’t be the same?
Hey Son, Don’t be fooled. It’s your time now, we are going home
Hobsons Bay Coast Guard are: Erik Scerba, Christopher Loftis, Jack Foy, Zac Terry, Henry Dempsey, and Sarah Tibben
Trunky Juno – “Death Metal Music” (Newcastle Upon Tyne, England)
RIYL: Jimmy Eat World, Fountains of Wayne, Beck
Since we first heard his music, Trunky Juno has had our attention. The Newcastle-based artist combines some great music with intelligent, fun songwriting that really make his music a joy to listen to. Earlier this year, he released a single “Oxford English Dictionary”, which immediately charmed with its humor. His storytelling, his ability to make something interesting out of the mundane, and undeniable talent make it easy to compare him to songwriters like Courtney Barnett or Kurt Vile.
Trunky Juno’s latest single, “Death Metal Music”, is a ’90s-infused nostalgia trip. Starting with just Juno and acoustic guitar, the early moments are inviting and put his witty and reflective lyrics right in full view. Things pick up with a bunch of throwback sounds from distorted power chords, bleeps and bloops, and a pretty dope sing-along section before the song launches into a fantastic ending. The track is about getting older, about losing the connection with modern music, and your youth. It hits hard, both in its honesty and its knockout rock and roll.
The single is out on Silent Kid Records. “Death Metal Music” is the title track for Trunky Juno’s upcoming EP, with details to come later. Keep your eyes peeled!
Sweet Tempest – “Over Them Hills” (Berlin, Germany via Copenhagen, Denmark)
RIYL: Ms Mr, HÆLOS, London Grammar
The first time we covered the music of Sweet Tempest was in 2016. A lot has changed for the duo, that now consists of Luna Kira and Julian Winding. They’ve released a handful of excellent EPs and singles with each expanding and adding depth to their sound. Each EP also revealed a fearless duo, who are unafraid to venture into new territory and doing it confidently and competently each time.
On “Over Them Hills”, Sweet Tempest land right where they thrive. Some huge sweeping synth comes in immediately, underscoring Kira’s dreamy vocals. The song slowly builds from there, adding more atmospheric sound as well as some fantastic harmonies between Kira and Winding. There’s a terrific little breakdown as well with Kira’s voice drenched in reverb before the song’s earworm synth line returns in a big way. There’s a youthful quality to “Over Them Hills”, an energy that makes its reflective lyrics strike deep:
“I give up my time
My heart and my life
To let you come hear and steal me away
Let it be known that I
Put up a fight
And yet you’re singing in the shower tonight
So I listen like when I was young and I hadn’t heard you sing before
I know what people have to say but I don’t listen anymore”
Bag of Cans – “Pub Money” (Norwich, England)
RIYL: The Libertines, The Strokes, Opus Kink
There’s something about Bag of Cans that makes us want to chant the band name when we blast one of their songs. George Baker (vocals, trumpet), George Bryce (guitar, vocals), Tom McGhie (guitar), Sam Watts (bass), and Joe Wilson (drums) have captured an energy that is unbelievably infectious. Their lyricism is just as delightful, as one could expect with a band with a name like Bag of Cans.
Things kick off instantly on Norwich quintet’s latest single, “Pub Money”. With its punk vibe featuring some breakneck guitar chords and drumming, and a killer bass groove, it’s a perfect foundation for the track’s fuzzed-out vocal track. Add in the incredibly fun harmonies that join in, the absolute ripper of a guitar solo, and the lyrics that slowly become more indecipherable, “Pub Money” is an absolute blast. And just when it seems over, the drums and bass kick in one last time, slowly picking up the pace as the lyrics repeat over and over once again reaching an untamed yell. Hell yeah!
The single is out on Fierce Panda Records.
Pitou – “Dancer” (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
RIYL: Lykke Li, Alice Phoebe Lou, Agnes Obel
Our introduction to Pitou occurred recently, specifically in June when she released “Big Tear”. The Amsterdam-based artist, however, is considered one of the Netherlands’ most creative geniuses, having captivated audiences for nearly a decade with her widescreen, multi-layered approach. Since then, we’ve dug into her discography and have found that reputation is well-deserved.
It’s a sentiment that continues with the artist’s latest single, “Dancer”. The sound alone is powerful and moving. Gorgeously finger-picked guitar, some understated percussion, and Pitou’s voice are enough to immerse any listener into the song. “Dancer” flows elegantly, small touches come and go as the track progresses, whether it’s an extra layer of percussion or some haunting harmonies. Those harmonies come in as everything fades out, leaving just them and acoustic guitar chords. What follows, however, is truly stunning. This number is a powerful reminder to seek out the light in the darkness even when all we can see is shadow.
“A deer in the headlights
but dancing underneath
I see; the audience’s a gimmick
they’re all in it with me
And as the curtains rise
I finally feel the fire
and as the curtains rise
I finally see your light
All your ways I’ll follow them blindly”
The single is out on V2 Records Benelux. Pitou’s debut LP is in the works and may be released in 2023. Stay tuned!
Sable – “Madwoman in the Attic” (Berlin, Germany via Manchester, England)
RIYL: Jenny Hval, Kate Bush, Half Waif
Art in all its forms is inspired by something or someone. The vast majority of songs have been influenced by a relationship, whether it is with a lover, a friend, parents, or even oneself. For Sable, they draw inspiration from the heroines of English Literature, which happens to be the title of their forthcoming new EP (due December 2nd). While as a musician they are not able to write elaborate novels like a Charlotte Brontë or Virginia Woolf, Sable can emulate the poetic styles of Elizabeth Jennings and Mary Ann Evans (better known as George Eliot), as they do on the record’s lead single, “Madwoman in the Attic”.
Sable’s artistry, however, expands beyond the pen. They channel the intimate, cinematic spaces that Jenny Hval and Half Waif wade through, where the percolating synths, rumbling beats, and ambient electronics create the sensation of swimming through heavy water. Over and under the waves the Berlin-based artist sends us, alternating between moments where we are left holding our breath and the next inhaling deeply in anticipation of the next tidal moment. This approach provides the perfect vessel for their exploration of how relationships can affect an individual’s mental well-being. Like Bronte’s Bertha in Jane Eyre and Charlotte Perkins Gilmore’s narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper, Sable becomes the “madwoman”, whose anxieties lead her down the path of “tempestuous romances”. Their tale is terrifically told, especially towards the end.
“And still you thought I was
The type of pain you need
Ooh remember just how close you flew up to the sun to try and reach me
Now every day we find another little way to hate each other
And each time you stay I find another fucking reason
That I just can’t
Live without you”
Another voice to listen and watch for a long time.
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