Whether you want to feel like you’re flying 30,000 feet in the air, trembling in the cold confines of an underground bar in Berlin circa 1977, watching an engrossing play at the theatre, or gallivanting through concrete jungles or lush forests, The Matinee ’22 v. 155 offers all these destinations and plenty more. The nine songs featured today equate to an around-the-world trip and then some.
Wallice – “Japan” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Wolf Alice (‘Blue Weekend’-era), Fenne Lily, Rachel Bobbitt
One of the best DIY success stories of the past two years is Wallice, who we’ve said on a few occasions that she is destined to be a major pop star. Wallice Hana Watanabe, however, won’t be like the usual, overly-manicured radio stars because of her humble, affable, and witty nature, which are heard in all of her songs. For instance, her first two EPs – Off the Rails (one of 2021’s bests) and 90s American Superstar (likely to be one of 2022’s bests) – were fun, insightful, and creative, where she combined buzz-saw melodies with amusing, often self-deprecating lyrics. The young, LA-based artist shares one last song before the year end, and she surprises once more. She also reveals why she is bound for greatness.
On “Japan”, Watanabe changes gears, shifting down a few notches to deliver a beautifully intimate and serene ballad. With largely an acoustic guitar and some strings accompanying her, Wallice shines like a starlit standing under the solitary spotlight at the Lincoln Center. Her voice is filled with emotion, as she reflects on her visit to her father’s homeland. While at first she feels like a stranger, she gradually begins to understand her roots. Her time in Japan, though, flies by, just as she finds comfort in her surroundings. However, we think she’ll be returning soon but as a star.
The single is out on Dirty Hit.
King Tuff – “Portrait of God” (Brattleboro, VT USA)
RIYL: Paul McCartney, Richard Swift, Whitney
When Kyle Thomas ended his mini-hiatus last month with “Smalltown Stardust”, he reminded us how King Tuff is very much an essential part of the American indie landscape. Along with Har Mar Superstar, he is truly an individual that knows how to turn a frown upside down, finding the little joys in the most difficult times. His music is the perfect medicine for when we’re feeling down, and he arrives with the perfect elixir to those feeling blue with his newest single.
Along with his good friend Sasami Ashworth, who also produces King Tuff’s forthcoming new album, Thomas channels his inner Paul McCartney on “Portrait of God”. The blissful, ’70s pop-rock approach will put a pep in your step. Thomas’ smooth and easy-listening voice, too, is delightful on the senses, as he calmly sings about finding hope and inspiration in all the people that has touched his life. For Thomas, they are the higher powers to whom he offers his undying love and loyalty.
“I’m not the kind of guy that goes to church on Sunday
I’d rather spend my time worshiping in my own way
Walking in the woods, wading in the river, breathing in the mountain air
Ooh, when I feel that paint brush in my fingers, I know that you’ll be there”
The Men – “God Bless the USA” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: METZ, Titus Andronicus, The Ramones
The Men are one of a handful of bands on this planet that will try to blow out ear drums with every song. To expect them to slow down and deliver a heartfelt ballad is like expecting Michael Bay to produce and direct the next installment of Sex in the City. Mark Perro (vocals, guitar, keys), Nick Chiericozzi (vocals, guitar, saxophone), Rich Samis (drums), and Kevin Faulkner (bass) only have two speeds, which are fast and furious. They got the adrenaline rushing last month with “Hard Livin’”, and now they get folks in sweaty mess with “God Bless the USA”.
The Men’s newest number has a punk mentality with its fiery and feisty approach and lyrics that imply anything but patriotism. On the contrary, the band never actually say the words in the song’s title. Instead, as the guitars rip one awesome riff after another and the rhythms pound like jackhammers, the band repeat, “There’s a fire burning in the USA“, to denote how the red, white, and blue is destroying itself from within. Increasing race and class division, the assault on women’s and basic human rights, and the rise of the alt-right and disinformation campaigns have challenged the notion that America is the home of the free. But then again, maybe there is more to the words than what is led on – that the US needs some divine intervention to find its way again.
HUSSY – “Jellybean” (London, England)
RIYL: Liz Phair, Hatchie, Veronica Falls
From the day we were introduced to HUSSY in 2018, we have openly wondered how big of a star Sophie Nicole Ellison could be if she had a label behind her or if she called Chicago, New York, or Philadelphia home. This is not a knock on London, which is one of the great music cities on the planet (especially for discovering bands on the rise), but these American cities have a lengthy history of embracing and cultivating songwriters. Oh, what could be. Maybe 2023 will be the year that Ellison takes off or at the very least fly to Austin in March and perform at SXSW. There, she can impress the indieheads with “Jellybean”.
As she’s been doing for four years, Ellison delivers another stunning, grunge-pop fare. She’s like a new generation’s Liz Phair, who combines a lush, breezy tone with some snarl and grit. This is heard during the song’s peaks, as her guitar grumbles while her voice retains its dreamy whisper. Like the legendary Phair, she pokes a bit of fun at the world, and, specifically, how self-absorbed people are. “You won’t do it for anybody else,” she remarks at the people walking by and who strut across red carpets and TV screens. Meanwhile, folks like Ellison battle through the noise to have their stories heard.
Let’s hope she’s heard next year and beyond.
Anna B. Savage – “in|Flux” (London, England)
RIYL: Jenny Hval + Fiona Apple + Fever Ray
People who regularly listen to NPR know that Anna B Savage is one of the station’s favorite artists – and for excellent reasons: she’s one of the most imaginative singer-songwriters around. Her Tiny Desk (Home) Concert is an extraordinarily beautiful experience, and she achieves this effect with just an acoustic guitar and her incredible voice. Now imagine her with a full band and how magnificent her music could sound. Actually, you don’t need to imagine anything; all you have to do is press play and listen to “in|Flux”.
Part theatre, part exclusive and intimate night club, and completely and utterly enchanting, Savage delivers a three-part play in a mere 245 seconds. With a somber delivery and a low hum of a synth and delicate horns, Savage quietly and vulnerably sets the scene in Act 1. She sings:
“Do you know what he told me –
said he was angry.
Said he would find someone
who wouldn’t lead him on.
An ecstatic number one
not a maybe someone”
In Act 2, the track opens a little, as a stuttering beat and electronic sparkles drift between her hushed words. This segment represents Savage’s transition from coping with lost to being free of the pain. When the hurt is fully relinquished, her life becomes more colorful and full. This is Act 3, which adopts the tone of a hypnotic, electronic number. At this point, she shares: “Please believe me. I want to, I want to be alone. I am free.”
Lola Young – “Stream of Consciousness” (London, England)
RIYL: Billie Eilish, Melanie Martinez, King Princess
Lola Young has all of the ingredients to be the next big pop star. Attending the BRIT School, she’s a fellow alum among some of the greatest pop stars of all time, including Adele and Amy Winehouse. Knowing how to write a pop song is one thing, but to create something that truly connects with listeners is as difficult of a job as any. At 20 years old, and a handful of releases under her belt, Young’s ability to captivate listeners is undeniable. It’s a quality that’s amplified with her ability and willingness to mash up genres, messages, and influences and package them into something uniquely thrilling.
Young refers to her latest single, “Stream of Consciousness”, as “the beginning of a new chapter”. Compared to her previous releases, there’s much more depth to what Young achieves. The song’s title is reflected in the lyrics, which flow from Young’s voice like a waterfall. Each line is personal, honest, and striking. Despite the constant flow, Young keeps things interesting with some creative delivery and occasional vocal effects while adding a Joy Division-like starkness to the dark-pop foundation. The result is something that’s both relentless and calming with words that hit hard at its core.
“I dream in colour
Hate the summer
I act tougher than I really am
I’m a fuck-up
Told my mother
I don’t love her when she’s all that I have
And I’m twenty-one but feel like I’m gettin’ on
The child in me has been and gone, isn’t that sad?
I dream in colour, hate the summer
Please don’t tell me this is all that I am
It’s all that I am”
The single is out on Island Records.
garbagepink – “Overthinking” (Växjö, Sweden)
RIYL: Illuminati Hotties, IAN SWEET, Charly Bliss
Almost a year ago to the day, we were introduced to garbagepink, who shared “West Coast” at the time. Louise Lindenger’s path to starting her new project, however, hasn’t exactly been typical. Her other project, Stranded Mermaid, is haunting folk music with intense cinematic elements, and its influences include Ennio Morricone. In addition, Lindenger is part of pop-rock outfit I Don’t Speak French. The Swede’s solo project, though, turns that all upside-down for the punk sounds of garbagepink. Loud, fast paced, and incredibly catchy, garbagepink’s first songs drew inspiration from trips to the US as well as layers of nostalgia.
On the latest garbagepink single, Lindenger turns introspective with “Overthinking”. From the track’s opening lines to its palm-muted acoustic guitar, Lindenger paints a scene of a party and over-analyzing every social moment and interaction (or the lack thereof). Those early moments eventually give way to a catchy pop-punk track that perfectly captures the dynamic of the lyrics. Just when things seem to be getting into a groove, reminders of everything that could have gone wrong at the party break through. There’s even a playful synth solo that slices through the noise, only to once again lead to Lindenger to once again overthinking everything.
No – “Dry Cut” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Joy Division + Black Marble + Operators
If you’re like us, you’ve wondered what it would be like to be 22 years old in 1977 Berlin. Sure, the Cold War was in full force, but the music scene in the now German capital was buzzing. Musicians and bands were experimenting with krautrock, industrial, post-punk, and, of course, coldwave and darkwave. Much of this innovation was happening in grimy, dank, and small underground venues. While we cannot turn back time, we can imagine the scene and the times thanks to artists such as No.
The Montrealer is a time capsule, which explains why Belfast-based Tonn Recordings has signed him. His latest single, “Dry Cut”, is the closest we’ll get to bouncing and losing our minds in the subterranean confines of the ex-West German metropolis. Synthwave, post-punk, and coldwave are fused on this mesmerizing and dizzying number. While the synths and electric drum kit fire in the foreground, No’s distant vocal dances between the electrical sparks. His tale could be right out of the former divided city, as he sings about two people seeking to reunite. But on which side of the Wall will they meet? And which one would dare to risk their life for that one chance?
Check out No’s Bandcamp page to hear more of his music, including his 2022 album, Domestic Pulse.
RVBY MY DEAR – “Lullaby” (Los Angeles, USA via Perth, Australia)
RIYL: Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys, Weyes Blood, Portishead
RVBY MY DEAR‘s self-titled EP clocks in at just over seventeen minutes, but the project of Gabbi Coenen packs so much into the short run-time. It’s a strong return for Coenen, who went on a brief hiatus since 2019’s Waiting. There’s a gorgeous opener in “Black Moon”, which is packed with hypnotic electronics, and the cinematic, penultimate track, “Over It”. It’s all tied together with the record’s incredible closer, “Lullaby”.
“Lullaby” is instantly enthralling. A haunting piano kicks things off, accompanied with glitchy percussion and Coenen’s whispery vocals. Strings join in and things take off from there. That glitchy percussion becomes loud and pronounced, and Coenen’s voice gains strength and a harmonizing accompaniment. Paired with the intense lyricism, “Lullaby” is a perfect combination of so much of what makes the RVBY MY DEAR EP such a powerful record.
Time without desire
Slipping by the window
Water on the fire
Things you need to let go
Losing sleep in a room
That’s not my own
Kept awake by the wind
Too slow to grow
Gabbi Coenen is supported by Jorge Balbi (drums), Andrew Lappin (producer, engineer, mixing, electric guitar, synth, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, programming, percussion), and Joe LaPorta (producer). RVBY MY DEAR‘s self-titled EP is out now via Spirit House Records. Get it on Bandcamp.
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