The Matinee ’22 v. 157 is littered with conflict, whether it is within us or caused by constantly chasing after something. The nine songs featured on Part 2 of our new music doubleheader span multiple soundscapes – haunting and stark, energetic and euphoric, rollicking yet contemplative, mythical and otherworldly.
For Part 1 of today’s music marathon, click here.
Pet Snake – “Lotus” (Liverpool, England)
RIYL: Sharon Van Etten, BATTS, Ellur
Pet Snake is the project of Evelyn Halls, who has performed and recorded for the last decade as a member Clean Cut Kid. Earlier this year, Halls released her first single under the Pet Snake moniker, the spellbinding “Smile or Die” whose slow build would make Phoebe Bridgers jealous. She followed that up with the much more upbeat and nostalgic pop track, “Jacket”. The two singles showed two sides of Evelyn Halls right out of the gate.
Pet Snake’s latest single, “Lotus”, fits quite perfectly between the two previous tracks while also expanding her sound in big ways. Starting with just guitar and Halls’ voice, it puts her honest lyricism on full display. But the song quickly takes off with some fantastic percussion and gorgeous layers of strings and dreamy background harmonies. Occasionally the track pauses, and each delay is an exclamation mark on the story Halls is telling: a struggle with mental health and making that first step towards accepting responsibility and getting well.
“If the aim of all this searching is trying to find myself
I’d be better giving that job to my dog or someone else
And if the line’s are blurring between sanity and health
I owe it to Michael to stop pinning it to him and try to get well”
The single is out on Dance to the Radio.
Maja Lena – “Silent Quilt” (Stroud, England)
RIYL: Aldous Harding, Elanor Moss, First Aid Kit
Not all holiday tunes have a Yuletide feel. They can still traverse alternate paths. All that matters are the song’s spirit and what message the artist wishes to convey. On “Silent Quilt”, English singer-songwriter Maja Lena shares the story of two inquisitive minds trudging through the snow in search of adventure.
Part pastoral folk, part cosmic mythology, Lena delivers a stirring, mythical number. Her nymph-like falsetto dances over the pattering percussion, the diligent keys, and the murmuring synths. The combination is both surreal and tranquil, and we feel like we have been transported inside a long-lost fable. Akin to the great literary stories, we feel like one of the characters, who enjoy the other’s company, break into aquariums, and writing songs at night about what we did and saw. Now did these events happen or are they just things that Lena has imagined? It is Christmas time, so anything is possible.
Work Wife – “Apathy” (Brooklyn via Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Faye Webster, Wilsen, Belle Mare
If Meredith Lampe was better known throughout the music industry, most would say 2022 has been the Year of the Lampe. Her initial project, Colatura, released a super-cool album in And Then I’ll Be Happy earlier this year. Through her solo project, Work Wife, Lampe has released several outstanding songs in “Creases”, “Ride, Ride”, “December Summer”, and “Too Young to Understand” – the latter three are on her fantastic debut EP, Quitting Season. Although the EP was released on Friday, it’s worth sharing one more tune from it in order to fully appreciate Lampe’s talent.
“Apathy” features all the characteristics of why we’ve become huge fans of the Pacific Northwest native. It smartly commences with a warm, dreamy, and twangy melody, hooking the listener in with the tapping percussion and Lampe’s calm vocal. While we can see the bridge coming, the track still grabs and draws us further into Lampe’s world. We, as such, find ourselves slightly swaying and maybe even dancing, bopping in time with the pattering rhythms. At first, we might think this song is a celebration given the song’s vibrant second half. On the contrary, it concerns one person’s admittance that anxiety fills her heart and mind, and she needs to break free from the people and places that continue to torture her.
This song, as such, is her release, her liberation. It also is ours.`
Last Quokka – “Eat the Rich” (Perth, Australia)
RIYL: The Chats, The Men, Amyl And The Sniffers
One of the reasons – and maybe the main reason – we’re sharing this next tune is because the band has a great name. If you don’t know what a quokka is, then this video will make you fall in love with the friendly marsupial that inhabits Rottnest Island off the coast of Western Australia. If you have not heard of the band Last Quokka, then their newest single will make you fall head over heels for this Aussie cult favorite.
Clear the room of any and all obstacles, be sure to have a towel or two nearby, and invite a few friends and just most out to “Eat the Rich”. This is rambunctious and extremely fun punk-rock / noise-rock at its finest. In just 146 seconds, Trent Rojahn (vocals), Carlota Rivera (drums), Kirill Ivoutin (guitar), Justin Zanetic (guitar), and Ray Grenfell (bass) get the heart pumping at over 100 beats a minute while causing our body temperature to rise. Lo and behold, we’re frantically jumping or at the very least thrashing our heads and raising our fists.
Last Quokka, however, did not become fan favorites because of the outrageous energy in their songs. Like the punk bands of the ’70s and ’80s, they are very much a politically- and socially-oriented outfit. On this number, this working-class band take on capitalism and the top 1%, who judge people by the clothes they wear, the shine on their shoes, and the school they attended. Little Quokka, however, don’t give a shit how much your suit costs; they’re only concerned about the character underneath.
Rock on Last Quokka!
Ritual Forms – “Dreaming” (London, England)
RIYL: Portishead, HÆLOS, London Grammar
A few years ago, Sykoya startled us with their gripping take on trip-hop. After being silent for four years and following the pandemic, the trio have decided to start fresh and, as such, have changed their name to Ritual Forms. The new moniker, though, is more than just a desire to begin anew. It also likely represents Anna Marcella, Curtis ElVidge, and Joe Cross’s desire to have a name that represents their sound. Their first single definitely reflects this.
“Dreaming” is anything but a dream. It is brooding and stark, akin to the uncertainty that comes with walking in the alleys and corridors of unknown places. The instrumentation is patiently delivered to create the sensation of extreme uneasiness, where we feel that even the shadows are watching us. Marcella’s vocal is distant and ghostly, and it further adds to the song’s dour effect. More specifically, the approach mimics this chaotic and “mad, mad world” that we live in. To escape it, all we can do is dream; otherwise, we become like Marcella.
“Got to get some more
Got to get some less
I’m all depressed fuck up get through this mess
Over and out
Got to keep my head down
Feet on the ground
Got to prove that I’m not fucking around”
Welcome back Ritual Forms.
Ellen Krauss – “This Time of Year” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Ethel Cain, Liela Moss, Samia
Ellen Krauss has made quite an impact in her very short career. In 2019, Krauss released “The One I Love”, a folky track that proudly embraces LGBTQ relationships. She followed that up with the fantastic record, Pearl. It walked the line between poppier moments and pristine folk music, and occasionally interweaving them in a truly stellar manner. In just three years, Krauss has solidified her spot as one of Sweden’s great songwriters, one with the potential to be a worldwide, household name.
Krauss’ latest single, “This Time of Year” starts out as a simple folk track, but it builds into so much more. Electric guitar cuts through the stillness, and Krauss’ voice booms over everything. That structure perfectly captures the range of emotions felt during the holiday season. Krauss wrote the song about those who struggle with depression though the holidays. Krauss sings of lost loved ones and heartbreak from the perspective of a family friend. It’s a far cry from the sentimental, warm, and fuzzy music that can be heard everywhere throughout the season. However it’s among one of the most relatable and real tracks about the season.
Hibou – “Night Fell” (Paris, France via Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Beach Fossils, DIIV, New Order
Back in the late 2000s and early 2010s, the US west coast was a bastion for great indie music. Ty Segall emerged as the standard by which psychedelic artists were measured. Bands and artists like Blouse, Craft Spells, Wild Nothing, Springtime Carnivore, Best Coast, Cannons, and a host of others were making pop music that went beyond the usual radio fare. It was dreamy and urgent, daring yet uplifting, and incredibly fresh. One artist that was part of this massive tidal wave of talent is Peter Michel.
While Michel spent his early days as the touring drummer for the aforementioned Craft Spells, his hazy take on dream-pop as Hibou caught the attention of the influential Barsuk Records, who signed the then Seattle-based musician as a teenager. It was at that point when our own interests piqued, and to this day his debut, self-titled album remains in our rotation.
Much has changed for Michel over the past seven years. He currently calls Paris home, and he started a side folk project (Éclo). Today, he’s turned his attention back to Hibou and decided to release his music independently, which, in this day of supply chain bottlenecks and intense competition within the industry, is a mammoth undertaking. However, should Michel’s upcoming songs be as spectacular as “Night Fell”, his music will do all the heavy lifting for him.
Hibou’s first single in over three years captures the energy, desperation, and euphoria of the start of indie’s current enlightenment period. A glistening, jangly guitar skips through the pouncing percussion, creating a blissful yet vibrant atmosphere. Percolating underneath is a Peter Hook-like bass line that helps anchor the track and keep it from ascending too far. Michel’s falsetto is equally dreamy and a touch heavenly. His words, too, are directed upwards as well as inwards, as he reveals how he once endlessly sought validation for his decisions.
“Among the clovers, I sought your embrace
And in your splendor, I was overcome
Oh heal me, revenant
For as you reeled, my spirit tore
Night fell, and in silence I await dawn
I changed, though I never meant to move on”
Hibou’s new EP, Arc, will be released January 13, 2023. Pre-orders are available on Bandcamp.
Cozyfruits – “Scatterbrain” (Toronto, Canada via Taipei, Taiwan)
RIYL: Alt-J, Glass Animals, Metronomy
As one artist seeks to re-establish himself, another finds himself in a position of just getting noticed. Toronto-based Thomas Hsu dabbles in many parts of the music process – producing, composing, mixing, playing as a member of another artist’s backing band, and performing his own music. The Taiwan-born Hsu has left no stone unturned as he maneuvers his way through the industry’s complex labyrinth. His shortest path to establishing himself may be through his latest musical project, Cozyfruits, which goes beyond the usual electro-pop, electronica, and EDM that many self-taught producers lean towards. Instead, Hsu enters the realm of alt-electro-rock, where he alone does the work of a three- or four-member outfit (see Alt-J, Glass Animals) with similar effect as evidenced with “Scatterbrain”.
Mysterious, dark, and even a touch funky, “Scatterbrain” will stick in your mind for days. While it is groovy and enrapturing, the most impressive part is Hsu’s orchestration. At least seven different components are featured – a shallow bass, lowly humming synth, tapering percussion, subtle back beats, a flute recording, a slight guitar, and Hsu’s wavering vocal – yet none is dominant. Instead, they work in perfect harmony. Hsu also showcases his songwriting skills, offering a tale of how he has become his own worst enemy.
“Am I the fool, am I the joker?
It’s a mystery (oooh)
Only time will tell
Static on the surface
Bringing out the worst in me (oooh)
Kept under disguise
Till I’ve become an island”
The Album Leaf – “Say So” (feat. Dizzy) (Los Angeles / San Diego, USA)
RIYL: Son Lux, Poliça, Small Black
Our marathon of new music coverage comes to a close with an unexpected yet perfect collaboration. For nearly 25 years, Jimmy LaValle has created some of the most dynamic and cinematic soundscapes as The Album Leaf. Before Lane 8, Pedestrian, Son Lux, Poliça, Small Black, Phoria, Maribou State, HÆLOS, and other alt-electronica / indietronica bands existed, LaValle was blazing the trails for them to make spine-tingling music. The SoCal-based artist, however, is not ready to cede his position as one of the industry’s giants. On the contrary, he seeks to firm up his position by collaborating with music’s brightest stars. One of them is Katie Munshaw of Canada’s Dizzy (a favorite in these parts), and together they have crafted a song to be heard under in a dimly-lit room.
“Say So” is not a romantic tune by any stretch of the imagination. It is a stark and enrapturing piece of musical art, whose effect is heightened within a dark environment. Then can the listener fully becomes immersed in the delicate yet trembling soundscape that LaValle has produced. Only then can the individual become completely fixated on Munshaw’s haunting vocal and her Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde-like story.
“I won’t let her out she’s my little honey pie
Oh and when she dies I will be clad with joy
But if I wanted her gone so bad
Why don’t I say so
And if you’d said as much I would not give you up”
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