Today, there is no need to look to the skies to see the stars because The Matinee ’22 v. 146 is littered with them. The mini-playlist features established artists to several whose future is that of a super-nova.
H.C. McEntire – “Dovetail” (Durham, NC, USA)
RIYL: Dolly Parton, Joni Mitchell, Anaïs Mitchell
The strength of H.C. McEntire‘s music is the humanity that pulses through it. She’s an incredible storyteller, who bares her heart with every song. Whether it’s her solo music or work with Mount Moriah, there’s something that deeply resonates with each of her songs. McEntire released her first solo record, LIONHEART, in 2018, and has found more of her own sound since then. Last month, McEntire released a new single, “Soft Crook”, and it featured all of those things that draw us towards her music.
Just a few days ago, McEntire released “Dovetail”, and she announced her upcoming record, Every Acre. Like the songs that came before it, “Dovetail” speaks right to the soul. However, the sound ventures a bit from the Americana twang on “Soft Crook”. Much of the track is just McEntire and piano with just a touch of drums underneath. It’s very much a classic country ballad, and one that is full of stunning, emotional moments. With each word being front and center over the soft and slow piano track, she sings with the elegance of a young Dolly Parton with the powerful songwriting of Joni Mitchell. As such, McEntire has delivered an instant classic.
“Some fast-sweating diesel
With fistfuls of pain pills
Sure as a steeple is high
Some starving for fathers
And couldn’t be bothered
To steal away your precious time
Some looking for trouble
Leave nothing uncovered
And chase their whiskey with wine
Some dress for the darkness
Want only the artist
And change all you had in mind”
Yves Tumor – “God Is a Circle” (Turin, Italy via Miami, USA)
RIYL: TV On the Radio, KWAYE, Kele
Yves Tumor has few comparables. From electronic music to goth-rock to glam-rock, the Miami native is a moving target, whose sole destination in the unpredictable. While Tumor maintains a low profile in the northern Italian city of Turin, there is little question that they are a genius, as revealed on last year’s The Asymptotical World EP and 2020’s Heaven to a Tortured Mind. Like the title of their records and songs, Tumor’s music is full of contrast, which adds to the power and drama of each song. Tumor’s first single of 2022 further displays their ability to enthrall, captivate, and startle.
“God Is a Circle” might be Tumor’s most straight-ahead tune, yet it still stands out from the crowd. Seething, breathy vocals welcome us into this eerie and sprawling space. A spatial, mechanistic beat pulses in the background and then Tumor’s voice emerges. They sound deadened, as if either possessed or in a state of unconscious paralysis. As the track builds and becomes darker and more intense, Tumor’s voice barely changes. They sound as mechanical as the beat, which seems fitting as Tumor deals with the pain of a toxic relationship and its end.
“Everything around us feels unclеan
My mama said that God sees everything
And my daddy always taught me to say
‘Thank you,’ ‘Yes, ma’am,’ and ‘No, sir,’ ‘Yes please’
(What’s that? Ooh, shh)
Lay down, can we please?
Silence is what I need
Can we bury the hatchet?
I can’t help myself
Silence is what I need”
The single is out on Warp Records.
The Early Mornings – “Ultra-Modern Rain” (London via Manchester, England)
RIYL: Shopping, The Stills, The Raincoats
The UK obviously has no shortage of clever and fun bands. The country is teeming with them, so it’s difficult to keep track of who is new or who has been around for a bit and patiently waiting to get their big break. The Early Mornings fit in between, having released their debut single more than two years ago yet are signed to an indie label. Annie Leader (vocal, guitar), Danny Shannon (bass), and Rhys Davies (drums), however, are still waiting for the moment where they become mainstays on BBC Radio and occupying space on all the major UK festival posters. Their day will come because their mathy, art-punk is catchy, fun, and more importantly, intelligent. Now get ready to jerk around while being provoked on “Ultra-Modern Rain”.
Off-kilter rhythms and a superb, oscillating guitar get us moving in all directions – or maybe just bouncing in spot while our heads and arms swing left, right, up, down, and side-to-side. The song recalls the lo-fi punk of the late-’80s and early-’90s that once occupied nearly every English underground, music venue and house party. Leader’s lyrics, meanwhile, might seem a bit nonsensical at first, but listen closely and they cleverly recount how bizarre people think what “progress” is, which often requires making trade-offs. Now is that really progress?
Gemma Laurence – “Morningside Heights” & “35mm” (Brooklyn via Brunswick, Maine USA)
RIYL: Skullcrusher, Tomberlin, Rachel Bobbitt
On Friday, Gemma Laurence released one of the loveliest albums of the year with Lavender. It’s one of those rare LPs that stops you in your tracks and forces you to listen. We’ve covered a pair of singles from the record before: the powerful “Lavender”, about a transgender friend finally embraced their true self, and the spellbinding “Watchdog”, which recalled the early anxieties of a blooming relationship. There’s a relatability to each track on Lavender, which includes the record’s opening tracks, “Morningside Heights” and “35mm”.
“Morningside Heights” kicks off the album with some slow acoustic guitar picking with occasional chime-ins from some banjo. Laurence’s voice is utterly captivating from the moment it emerges, and it sets the scene in vivid detail, down to the time and season. Underneath things slowly build, from Laurence’s voice gaining strength to a faint stomping drumbeat joining in. The guitar and banjo pick up, and some lush harmonies come in right before the song ends.
The song that follows is another stunner, “35mm”, which starts with some more intricate guitar work. Once again, Laurence paints immersive pictures with just her voice. The way she takes a simple scene, developing photos in a darkroom, into something so much more, as she reflects on the emotions she feels from seeing the memories stored on film. A layer of strings adds to the track’s emotional heft. The moment the drums kick in is where things really kick off, not just for the song but for the entire record that follows.
Abbie Ozard – “ford (drive)” (Manchester, England)
RIYL: Ellur, Lauren Hibberd, Everything But the Girl
Earlier this year, Abbie Ozard released the fantastic EP, Water Based Lullabies. Inviting from the moment it hits the ear, it was electric, upbeat, a little weird, and it even got a little loud. It was a dynamic and fun ride with plenty to love. Ozard’s lyrics stuck out as being both youthful and wise with an undeniable charm.
Ozard’s first single since dropping that EP is the absolutely fantastic “ford (drive)”. The track has a huge nostalgic feel to it. Starting out with just a bassy synth and guitar before Ozard’s reverb-drenched voice joins in, the song explodes into a huge ’80s-influenced synth masterpiece. Ozard’s lyrics, meanwhile, also are nostalgic, as she captures the romantic moments of driving around all night.
“Just drive me where you want
You know that we belong
Please drive me where you want
Just not to breaking point
Just take just me somewhere new and drive and into the night till dawn
To dawn on you oh, you feel like home”
The single is out on House Anxiety.
Holiday Ghosts – “B. Truck” (Brighton via Falmouth, England)
RIYL: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Kiwi Jr., Dick Diver
Samuel Stacpoole (vocals, guitar) and Katja Rackin (vocals, drums) have a knack for turning frowns upside down regardless of the time of year or how chaotic things are. Through their project, Holiday Ghosts, they consistently bring the feel-good vibes, as they revealed on “Off Grid” and their self-titled, debut LP. So while the temperature may be dropping in the northern hemisphere, the Brighton duo make us want to jump in our car, roll down the winds, and blast off on a long road trip with “B. Truck”.
As they have been doing for more than half-a-decade, Holiday Ghosts deliver a jangly, summertime rocker that will, well, make you feel awesome. As Stacpole’s guitar bustles and jangles, Rackin keeps a steady rhythm that has us tapping our toes, wiggling our hips, and bopping our heads in time. While the pair know how to make the nostalgic sound fresh, they also understand how to deliver great stories and messages, many of which are politically- and socially-oriented. While Stacpoole’s lyrics are mostly inward looking on “B. Truck”, he uses his experiences, and those like him, of how difficult it is to make ends meet these days. He can work 18-hour days, 7 days a week and still not get ahead. Instead, he’s stuck in neutral, although this tune will have us moving forward.
The single is out on FatCat Records.
siobhán – “This House” (London, England)
RIYL: Holly Humberstone, Suki Waterhouse,
Remember the name Siobhán Winifred, or simply just siobhán, because she is about to become a huge star like fellow countrywomen Holly Humberstone and Suki Waterhouse. The young Londoner has a sizable TikTok and YouTube following thanks to the strength of releasing a cover of Phoebe Bridgers’ “Garden Song” and her own debut single, “Black Hole”. Her second single, though, should see her popularity reach another level.
With the widescreen intimacy of Humberstone, Winifred stuns with “This House”. The delicate, fluttering guitar highlights her vulnerable yet stunning vocal. She sings with the passion of a person about to say a final goodbye to someone she has loved for a long time, but the bonds have broken. As Winifred tells her heartbreaking story, humming keys and a simple, electric-drum arrangement emerge, adding to the song’s emotion. Her songwriting is also Humberstone-esque – raw, intimate, real, and poetic.
“We slept in a box room
Spent my nights pressed up against you
But this two story house is crushing me
And we lie and say that it’s not weird
That there’s another person here
Who’s going home to where I used to be
So I think I better leave
Before I say something that I don’t really mean
Please don’t ask me how I’ve been
I hate lying to you, lying about him”
She’s going to be a star.
Agnes Aleesy – “rumi” (Christchurch via Motueka, New Zealand)
RIYL: Imogen Heap, Agnes Obel, Portishead
And speaking of future stars, New Zealand has one at its fingertips in Agnes Aleesy. Like many artists from Aotearoa, Aleesy refuses to abide by cookie-cutter approaches of top-40 radio. She instead looks for inspiration in the theatrical and cinematic worlds that Imogen Heap, Portishead, Jenny Hval, and Agnes Obel have created. The Christchurch-based singer-songwriter takes us into the existential with her debut single, “rumi”.
Yes, “rumi” is Aleesy’s first official release, yet it sounds like it was created by an artist with more than a decade of experience. The orchestration is mesmerizing, as a gorgeous vortex of strings, synths, piano, harp, and overdriven bass swirl around Aleesy’s haunting voice. Her delivery sounds like Portishead’s Beth Gibbons – lush and hypnotic. However, unlike the famed English singer, Aleesy does not have the benefit of three talented musicians. Instead, she’s a solo artist with not just enormous potential but incredible talent, especially when she can turn her bout with anxiety into gripping poetry.
“There was a colour, it felt like mine
Belonged on my body, on the walls
A song I tried to articulate
But you already sung it
There was a need to satisfy
Indulged my mind, made me so high
There was a word I spoke so loud
But it came out a whisper”
Gillian Stone – “The Throne” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Crake, Joanna Newsom, Marissa Nadler
Gillian Stone is way more than a singer-songwriter. She is an incredible storyteller, as she showcased on “Amends” and “Raven’s Song”. Both songs defied classification, which is a testament to Stone’s ability to create music that is truly unique.
On her latest single, “The Throne”, Stone continues to wade in uncharted waters. The song’s finger-picked guitar is gripping. It’s something that would be easy to get lost in on its own, but multiple forces are at work. Stone’s vocal has a dark tone, especially combined with just a bit of bass and drums. The track builds rapidly once the acoustic guitar releases its grip, and some organ comes in with some bright guitar chords. Stone’s voice gains huge amounts of power once things kick off, and then the song reaches some incredible territory as Stone repeats the song’s title in a way that’s truly haunting. “The Throne” is an incredible ride, and one that makes us look forward to what’s next.
Stone’s new EP, Spirit Photographs, releases November 18th. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.
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