Persevering through untenable situations is the common thread that ties the nine songs on The Matinee ’22 v. 148, which commences with two indie titans and features artists and bands well positioned to reach similar status.
Manchester Orchestra – “No Rule” (Atlanta, USA)
RIYL: great indie-rock from a great indie-rock band
Few bands are able to capture the trials, tribulations, and jubilation of life like Manchester Orchestra. They captured youthful innocence and its eventual loss on their critically-acclaimed debut album, 2007’s I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child; the joy and trepidation that come with parenthood on 2017’s A Black Mile To The Surface; and watching a parent battle cancer on last year’s The Million Masks Of God. Andy Hull (vocals, guitar), Robert McDowell (guitar), Andy Prince (bass), and Tim Very’s (drums) music is powerful in every sense of the word. As they prepare for the 12th edition of their annual The Stuffing Festival, they share a new single that exhibits their power.
Written and recorded during The Million Masks Of God sessions, “No Rule” reveals the many faces of Manchester Orchestra. In over five minutes, the song is like a Cole’s Notes summary of the quartet’s 18-year history. A soft, folk-like tone emerges at the start. The track then transitions slightly into restrained art-rock territory before switching again, as gleeful, college radio-era R.E.M. (i.e., the late-’80s and early-’90s) pop-rock bubbles to the surface. Contemporary Manchester Orchestra then is revealed, as the art-rock tone returns but the atmosphere is tense. Gradually, the track builds, eventually becoming a grueling and occasionally electrifying southern rocker a la My Morning Jacket. Through this terrific turbulence, Hull’s trademark falsetto hollers defiantly in Death’s face:
“Watching you bend as you wept
Let’s destroy the limousine
Now that I’ve emptied my head
I am chasing you”
The single is out on Loma Vista Recordings.
Fever Ray – “Carbon Dioxide” (Gothenberg, Sweden)
RIYL: a whirling, hypnotic piece of electronica
When Karin Dreijir announced the return of their project, Fever Ray, last month with “What They Call Us”, the single was startling in a non-Fever Ray way. Instead of the widescreen and trembling electronica and trip-hop of their past, Dreijir delivered a minimalist yet devouring and immersive experience. It was mind-blowing. For their next release, the Swedish artist and multi-instrumentalist returns to more familiar territory, although “Carbon Dioxide” is more than just another piece of electronica.
Fever Ray’s newest single is unquestionably made for any and every venue with a dancefloor. It pulses with an unrelenting beat, as synths, samples, and slicing strings spin around the rhythmic anchor. The track, however, is not entirely euphoric, as Dreijir’s trademark, piercing vocal and a Gothic bass line offer a harrowing tone. They sing about how every ying has its yang. Oxygen has carbon dioxide while love has its eventual heartbreak. Like sweeping, exhilarating dance music has its Fever Ray.
“Sucking on what’s mine
Love’s carbon dioxide
Can’t say it out loud
I’m afraid to lose it
Is pure music”
Dizzy – “Barking Dog” (Oshawa, ON Canada)
RIYL: an emotional alt-pop number that make you weak in the knees
Since their formation in 2015, Dizzy have been on the cusp of massive stardom. Sure, Katie Munshaw (vocals) and siblings Alex (guitar), Mackenzie (bass, vocals), and Charlie Spencer’s (drums, synthesizer, guitar, vocal) debut LP, Baby Teeth, was awarded the 2019 Juno for Best Alternative Album, and its follow-up, 2020’s The Sun and Her Scorch, received a 2021 Juno nomination. However, they should be known all over the world for their anthemic rockers, serene ballads, and always considerate songwriting. They are Canada’s answer to Wolf Alice, which their newest single evidences.
“Barking Dog” is a gorgeous and moving ballad filled with contrasting emotions. It is alt-pop that is spellbinding yet brittle, breathtaking but tender, and cinematic as well as cosmic. At the song’s heart lies Munshaw’s vulnerable voice, as she recounts how we are products of our youthful experiences. “It is not your fault you wield a dullish sort of knife / You are made up of atoms from someone who like a wishbone / Has left you in the sun to dry”, she softly shares at the beginning.
Her words, however, are not entirely inspired by her or her friends’ experience but rather her family dog. Prior to joining the Munshaw family, their dog suffered years of abuse. “And no amount of loving can stop the dog from barking when she’s in pain,” Munshaw solemnly reflects. But like this now much-loved pet, we, too, find comfort in Munshaw’s voice and the music of Dizzy.
Watch the intense video on YouTube.
Pearly Drops – “I Cry While You Sleep” (Helsinki, Finland)
RIYL: dream-pop that leaves you gasping
The finest dream-pop makes you feel like you’re levitating among the clouds and has you wanting to re-listen to the song over and over again. It is pure escapism that can only be replicated when we lay in bed and shut our eyes for several hours. As such, you may wish to find a place where you can lie down, not be interrupted, and breathe in the fresh air because “I Cry While You Sleep” will take you away.
Written by Pearly Drops, which is the project of Sandra Tervonen and Juuso Malin, the song is beyond gorgeous. It blends the sweeping, serene tones of Yumi Zouma while adding the tranquil gauziness of the Cocteau Twins and DIIV. Tervonen’s unique falsetto, meanwhile, is magnetic, holding us in place while Malin’s guitar tries to pull us way above the stratosphere. Although the song is heavenly, it is rooted in heartbreak and the unending fears that exist within all of us. Tervonen’s words indicate a person forever searching to find a way out of their own internal entrapment.
As a version I denied
As a version I denied
The single is out on Cascine, who will release the duo’s sophomore sometime in 2023.
Ailbhe Reddy – “Shitshow” (London, England via Dublin, Ireland)
RIYL: a raw, emotional, indie-rock number from an outstanding singer-songwriter
When we were first introduced to Ailbhe Reddy back in 2017, she dazzled us with the gripping and haunting “Relent”. The song revealed a young singer-songwriter who could turn bleakness into startling cinema. Since that time, Reddy has moved from Dublin to London, and, in the process, she’s expanded her sound to include tender folk, lo-fi indie-rock, and tranquil alt-pop. Reddy, as such, has transformed herself into a musical chameleon, and her multiple sides will be revealed in March 2023 when her forthcoming new album, Endless Affair, is released. To provide a sample of what is to come, she shares “Shitshow”.
Reddy’s latest single reveals another dimension to her artistry. Do not allow the somber guitar tones at the start fool you into thinking this is a nonchalant folk-rocker. On the contrary, the song methodically builds and turns into an angsty, gritty, fuzzed-out indie-rocker, and its second half is awesome. The track’s gradual ascension perfectly complements Reddy’s introspective songwriting, as she shares the regrets and loneliness that come with the ending of a party. Her story is one we know all too well.
“My God, look at the state of me
This is so embarrassing
Won’t you take me home?
‘Cause I need to forget everything
If I stand a chance
Of beginning again
No more staring at the ceiling
No more staring at the ceiling”
ENOLA – “Metal Body” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: gritty, gauzy, Gothic, post-punk that will rip you to pieces
Eventually, the cream rises to the top, and this old adage applies to music. In time, long overlooked yet immensely talented artists will be discovered and given the opportunity to be heard, be seen, and shine. One of the great labels doing their part to ensure little-known indie artists get their moment in the spotlight is Fire Talk Records, whose roster includes some of our favorite artists and bands at the moment – Dehd, Bnny, Wombo, Mamalarky, Cola, Packs, Fran, Deeper, and on and on. Earlier this week, they introduced us to ENOLA, who immediately jumps to the top of our Artists to Watch in 2023 list thanks to “Metal Body”.
Be prepared to have your mind blown by Ruby Marshall’s newest single. It brilliantly combines two of the great genres of the ’90s – ravaging grunge and blistering shoegaze – with wall-shattering post-punk. As such, the track simultaneously glimmers and electrifies while crushes bones in its wake. And the experience is unforgettable. Marshall’s voice, meanwhile, has a menacing tone, sounding like an individual frustrated with the world. Specifically, they sharpen their gaze on Australia’s crumbling health system, where the lack of government investment has resulted in many lives being taken far too soon. When Marshall repeats, “She’s a child, a child of all of this”, those words take on added meaning – that a young person’s life also could be taken far too soon.
Hatchie – “Nosedive” (Brisbane, Australia)
RIYL: a synth-pop artist turn to flaming industrial
It would be a mistake to think Hatchie as one-dimensional or complacent. Harriette Pilbeam’s sophomore album, Giving the World Away, featured darker and Gothic tones, where at times she sounded like the reincarnation of Violator-era Depeche Mode. The 2022 record, as such, made it clear that the Australian, who shot to stardom with “Try” and “Sure”, no longer could be considered another dream-pop artist. It seems Pilbeam is embracing this new, more aggressive side, as she unexpectedly released a new single earlier this week that makes the songs on Giving the World Away seem poppy.
Hatchie enters the cavernous dungeons of Manchester and Berlin immediately after the fall of the Wall on “Nosedive”. Industrial hammers wedge against furious electro-punk and Underworld-like electronica. The result is a whirling, feverish number that feels like every element is cascading over top and around us. Pilbeam’s saccharine vocal remains, and it offers the perfect contrast to the trembling, sonic gymnastics. Her lyrics, meanwhile, capture the notion that people are multifaceted – or maybe that there is a multiverse where there are copies of us living in another dimension, but they are not like who we are.
“What you want and what you’ve got aren’t always what you need
Spend your time trying to walk a line, seeking serendipity
Keep serving your head on a platter expecting loyalty
When all you need is a glimpse into a parallel reality
Wasted youth is a tragedy when you’re in the driver’s seat
Pray for someone to take control while you ignore your basic needs
Stop spinning the wheel with a plan, forget fortuity
Nothing quite like a drop of blood to reveal who’s circling”
Black Honey – “Heavy” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: anthemic Brit pop-rock
If we were to build a Mt. Rushmore of indie bands using the sole criterion of times featured on our site, Black Honey would be one of the four left standing. We can think of only one band that has surpassed the 32 times we have covered Izzy B Phillips (vocals, guitar), Chris Ostler (guitar), Tommy Taylor (bass), and Alex Woodward (drums). We continue to wave their flag because their music is catchy and anthemic while their stories are either imaginative (such as recent release, “Charles Bronson”) or extremely personal, which is where we find the band on “Heavy”.
A blast of energy immediately welcomes us, as surging guitars, searing keys, and soaring rhythms barge through the opening seconds. This intensity sets the tone for Phillips’ dedication. While the instrumentation around her would fill every crevice of Wembley Stadium, her voice is downtrodden and laced with sadness. “We wrote this song the day I found out the founder of our fan club passed away from Covid-19,” Phillips shared in the press release. Closely listen to her words, as she still holds on to the memory of the band’s biggest fan. Now, they are immortalized in song.
Black Honey’s third album, A Fistful of Peaches, will be released March 17th, 2023 on their own Foxfive Records. Pre-orders are available here.
Teeth Machine – “Penny” (London, England)
RIYL: sultry yet tense music that makes you feel all eyes are watching you
We end the week with a young band that is well positioned to take not just the UK but the global music scene by storm in the new year. They are Teeth Machine, who earlier this year released the multi-layered, eye-opener, “Gumball”. Their non-linear, non-conformist approach will win over fans, especially if they can get themselves over to SXSW in March. In the meantime, their music will do all the talking with “Penny” causing folks to go silent.
A beautifully languid pensiveness emerges from the start with front-woman Ciara Reddy’s smokey vocal drifting on a layer of hazy tranquility. Each element is delivered softly and unhurriedly while a slight tinge of psychedelia calmly wafts through the air. The song sounds mysterious and surreal, as if it emerged from a fantasy or even an unknown place. Reddy’s words, too, are born from the pages of great literature, as she tells a tale of trying to escape one’s untenable situation.
Teeth Machine are: Arthur Bently (saxophone, guitar), Gray Rimmer (lead vocals, guitar), Anthony Boatright (bass), Jamie Staples (drums), and Ciara Reddy (vocals, synth). Remember their names.
The song is out on Ra-Ra Rok.
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