On the first half of our new music marathon for December 5th, surrealism characterizes the nine songs on The Matinee ’22 v. 156. It is felt in the varied, often atmospheric soundscapes and the transformative stories told.

To hear Part 2 of today’s musical extravaganza, click here. And do not forget to check out The Songs of November & December playlist on Spotify or SoundCloud, which includes all of today’s featured tracks.

 

MYNK – “Boundaries” (London, England)

RIYL: Ganser + Yeah Yeah Yeahs + Preoccupations

To stick out in the extremely competitive London music scene, one needs a lot of talent, the support of people who know how to maneuver within the industry, and plenty of luck. Being at the right place at the right time is almost as important as creating a song that provokes with its sound and words. For MYNK, they have arrived at the perfect time, where their anthemic mix of post-punk and dark-pop perfectly captures the mood of a world at a crossroads. Bex Morrison (vocals, bass), Lewis Clark (guitar, backing vocals), and Ricky Cato (drums) also have the support of the influential KRO Records, who have signed the trio and released “Boundaries”.

Imagine if the Yeah Yeah Yeahs forged an alliance with post-punk auteurs Preoccupations, the outcome would sound like MYNK’s debut single. It is suspenseful and gritty at first, and the atmosphere remains tense as the track progresses. Clark’s steely guitar sounds a grandfather clock chiming in the darkness of a haunted mansion while Morrison is the protagonist seeking to escape the grips of this place. However, this entity is more human than an inanimate object. When the song switches and turns into a sinister and cathartic number, led by Cato’s dynamic drumming, Morrison reveals that she has enter this place to lay down boundaries between her and her pursuer. Between her and the voice that constantly consumes her mind.

Simply awesome and this is, once again, MYNK’s debut single. Their future is immensely bright.

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Portland – “Stardust” (Brussels, Belgium)

RIYL: Beach House + Mazzy Star + Beirut

Sarah Pepels and Jente Pironet met while attending PXL music school in Belgium. The duo bonded over their mutual appreciation for Elliott Smith, and eventually named their musical project, Portland, as a tribute to Smith’s hometown. In 2019, the duo released their first record, and it was simply an impressive arrival. With a diverse range of sounds – from dreamy and ethereal to unpredictable and explosive – Your Colours Will Stain offered a ton to listeners. Earlier this year, the duo released the appropriately titled “Sensational”, which seemed to be a hint of something bigger on the way.

A hint no longer, Portland have just announced their sophomore record, Departure, and with that comes the release of “Stardust”. Starting with just some organ and atmospheric sounds, Pepel’s voice emerges, and it is given a haunting effect. Strings join in and add even more to the uneasy nature of the song’s early moments. More layers are added, and the tracks transforms into something that feels hopeful. Each intentional motion signifies the end of a relationship, the process to move on, and the realization it takes time to rebuild, even emotionally.

“Change in every way is what I wanted too
But losing everybody is not my excuse
I’m not willing, I will always be by your side
But for now I just need some time alone
I just need more

Change in every way is what I needed too
Finding myself again is the truth”

Portland’s new album, Departures, will be released on March 17th, 2023 via PIAS Recordings. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available at these links.

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Divorce – “That Hill” (Nottingham, England)

RIYL: Big Thief, Houndmouth, HOVVDY

We’ve said this before and it’s worth repeating: Divorce are one of the best bands to arrive on the scene this year. They also released one of the year’s best EPs when Get Mean was unveiled last Friday. While it includes only four songs, each one is different than the others: “Services” was cathartic, “Pretty” blustery perfection, while “Checking Out” was an old-school country-western rocker. The final track, “That Hill”, is a folk-rock number that instantaneously could become a classic.

The song commences with a serene feeling, as Felix Mackenzie-Barrow’s calm voice hovers over a lightly strummed guitar. After he describes the scene of leaving the door open in the event that his family will return, Tiger Cohen-Towell joins him. At this moment, the song slowly builds, eventually transforming into a cathartic folk-rocker a la Big Thief. Together, the two sing about hope and second chances. “If I make it up that hill, I swear I’ll never come down again,” they emphatically proclaim. But to get there, they need to first be honest with themselves and clean up the mess they’ve left behind.

Look for this band to perform at plenty of festivals in the near future. They’ll become a crowd favorite sooner than later.

Divorce are: Tiger Cohen-Towell (vocals, bass), Felix Mackenzie-Barrow (vocals, guitar), Adam Peter Smith (guitar), and Kasper Sandstrøm (drums). Get Mean is out via Hand in Hive. Get it at Bandcamp and these links. It’s one of the year’s best mini-albums.

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The Know – “Used to Be” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: The Jesus and Mary Chain, Lush, Cocteau Twins

Only a few seconds of listening to “Used to Be” is needed to understand why Sharon Van Etten asked Daniel Knowles to producer her critically-acclaimed, 2022 album, We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong. The epic collision of gauzy guitars, rumbling rhythms, and ringing synths are reminiscent of the climax of “Never Gonna Change”. Instead of an emotional indie rocker, Knowles and his wife and longtime musical partner, Jennifer Farmer, go in a different direction – cataclysmic shoegaze. As The Know, the couple take listeners on an extraordinary adventure through the genre’s 1990s greatness.

Following the rousing opening, the tune settles into a dreamy delight. The instrumentation becomes restrained and seems more appropriate for a glide through the vastness of outer space. This is where we can reminiscent of what was. These are the moments where we can wonder what could have been, and Farmer lushly thinks about to a New Year’s Eve party that happened more than 8 years ago.

This story, though, does not have the happy ending of When Harry Met Sally. Instead, Farmer shares how neither individual waited for the other, choosing instead to start the new year separately and on a different path. Just as she reveals their flight, the track intensifies, creating the feeling that an extraordinary event is about to happen. That we might be witnessing the birth of a supernova or at least one person’s (or band’s) revival.

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LUCKY LO – “I Will Always Be You” (Copenhagen, Denmark via Umeå, Sweden)

RIYL: Annie Lennox, Christine and the Queens, Vampire Weekend

As publications and tastemakers reveal their Best Albums of 2022 lists, one likely to fly under the radar is Lucky Lo‘s Supercarry. This won’t be a surprise to the Danish outfit nor their fans because Lo Ersare (vocals, keys, banjo), Asger Nordtorp Pedersen (bass), Mads Nørgaard (guitars), Anja Backmann (backing vocals), and Casper Henning Hansen (drums) have long hovered under the radar even though they are creating fresh and inventive alt-pop and art-rock. This lack of notoriety, however, has not stopped the outfit from producing new material. They instead continue to do what they love, which is to provide the gift of music.

The quintet offer a holiday surprise with “I Will Always Be You”, which is an upbeat and radiant number that brims with the energy of the first day of spring. Caribbean vibes mesh with the cinematic Scandi-pop, and the combination is complemented by let’s-all-join-in hand claps. As we clap in unison and sway to the song’s warm grooves, we find ourselves singing with Ersare, hollering at the top of our lungs, “Find a way to come back / Find a way to let them know / I will always be you.”

We holler because we understand the importance of staying together. We understand that strength comes in numbers, and a song like “I Will Always Be You” provides the rhythm by which we find our common groove.

The new single is out on Tambourhinoceros, who also released Supercarry

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semiwestern – “velvet sea” (Austin, USA)

RIYL: Alberta Cross, Low Hum, Shearwater

The duo of Ty Bohrnstedt and Daniel Gonzaelz have had a long journey to being called semiwestern. They get their name from a common tennis grip, which is a nod to their past as tennis players. The two met at tournaments across Texas and developed a friendship early on. However, the two took different paths in their teens before a mutual acquaintance in college reunited them. 

At the University of Texas, the pair created music under the pseudonym vliets, and they released an EP with the title, semiwestern. Since then, the duo have released a few singles and some covers (including songs by Charli XCX). Last week, though, they fully embraced their rebirth with the release of new single, “velvet sea”, which is the band’s first with Spirit Goth Records.

Right from its opening moments, “velvet sea” is easy to get lost in. Acoustic guitar paired with a gorgeous layer of pedal steel make up much of the song’s sound. The vocals are equally captivating. As the track builds, the bass, synth, and electric guitar intensify. Sometimes songs that undergo similar transitions can feel jarring, but semiwestern keep things perfectly grounded, even as an encroaching wall of sound is about to arrive. 

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Eaves Wilder – “Morning Rain” (London, England)

RIYL: Widowspeak, Still Corners, Mazey Haze

After releasing the grunge-pop single, “I Stole Your Jumper”, in October, we had to say that Eaves Wilder is going to be a star. The song was perfection – groovy yet gritty, entertaining yet hard-hitting, and just spectacular. It was a track that made it obvious why Secretly Canadian has made her part of their stable of artists. At just 19 years old, Wilder has all of the tools to become “the next big thing.”

Where her debut was booming, her latest single, “Morning Rain” delves into hazy, psych-pop. Starting out with acoustic and a lo-fi drum track, the song has some stunning building sections with fantastic electric guitar and immense harmonies. Wilder perfectly captures the frustrations that school can present to young creatives, as she describes how the rigid school schedule can lead to missed creative opportunities and how this is carried forward to the structured 9-to-5 work life.

“I let you see my morning face
it gets softer as the day moves along
Hold up a sign saying its a safe space
But you’re wrong

Cos you’ll walk through the door
And you won’t come back
How on earth could have something to say
You only told me to retain
You know you lose every second you waste
And the stillness makes me ache
Even in the light of summer you’re grey
But still we walk through the morning rain”

The single is out on Secretly Canadian.

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Charlotte Spiral – “Tomorrow” (London, England)

RIYL: Wet, Julia Holter, Ghostly Kisses

It’s something we bring up each time we cover the music of Amy Spencer and Avi Barath, but the namesake of the duo’s musical project comes from a figure skating pose. There’s nothing that describes the music of Charlotte Spiral better than comparing it to a figure skating routine, each one full of beauty, grace, and a potential for heartbreak. Earlier this year, the duo released the fantastic singles, “All This Time, Asleep” and “Roots”, and each one built on the immense sound that Charlotte Spiral continue to forge. Those singles would eventually make up their latest EP, All This Time, Asleep

The penultimate track of the EP, “Tomorrow”, is yet another stunner from the duo. The song starts immediately with some gorgeous, otherworldly sounds. Despite its composition that would seem basic on the surface, the number’s early moments are complex and a bit unpredictable. Instruments and sounds come and go, percussion is little more than a stumble, and it all shines a light directly on Spencer’s voice. Eventually a huge synth and some guitar join in, bringing all of these unlinked sounds right into its gravitational orbit. 

All This Time, Asleep is available on Bandcamp

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Nick & June – “Lip Sync to Love Songs” (Nuremberg, Germany)

RIYL: Beach House, Cigarettes After Sex, Melody’s Echo Chamber

Two years ago, I Break Horses made their triumphant return after more than a half-decade hiatus. Their revival was to be celebrated because the Swedish duo are one of the great dream-pop bands of the 21st Century. Belgium’s equivalent is Nick & June, who last released new material five years ago with 2017’s My November My.

Their history, though, is different, as the band originally was the solo project of Nick Wolf. Even after Suzie-Lou Kraft joined Wolf, the duo’s output leaned more towards indie-folk and indie folk-pop. Dreamy textures could be heard, but it was not the foundation of their sound. That changes in the duo’s third act, which begins with “Lip Sync to Love Songs”.

Wolf and Kraft’s new song is stunning dream-pop, akin to Beach House in their early, more lo-fi days. The synth work and the pulsating bass line are intricate, as each note lingers a half-beat longer so that we can fully feel its sonic effects. Kraft’s voice is soothing and heavenly, as she calmly describes various scenes that have nothing to do with love songs. “I watched a drunk driver falling out of a window / He did not look like an angel at all,” she shares in one instance. While this is not a love song in the purest sense, it is a tribute to love songs and their ability to make us momentarily forget about the pain we feel and the cruelty that surrounds us. Just a brilliant twist to the familiar from a band most should immediately become familiar with.

Nick & June’s new EP, Beach Baby, Baby, is expected early in 2023.

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