While 2022 is drawing to a close, the new music does not stop. The Matinee ’22 v. 159 features nine more, wide-ranging singles, and each will knock you over whether with blissful intimacy, uneasy starkness, or blazing intensity.
Fran – “Palm Trees” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: Weyes Blood, Hand Habits, Erin Rae
Maria Jacobson is among the finest songwriters today. As Fran, Jacobsen crafts engaging songs and wraps them in a folky package that speaks directly to the human heart. It’s present on Jacobson’s first record, A Private Picture, and perhaps more so on the two lead singles, “So Long” and “Limousine”, from their upcoming sophomore record, Leaving.
Fran’s latest single from the new LP, “Palm Trees”, continues in the same vein of “Limousine” – a song that could easily go one way based on its lyrics but becomes a stunning folk number. It’s a warning call about the climate and how we may have gone past the point of no return and, thus, no future. Chiming piano, guitar, and Jacobsen’s calming voice add a warmth to the track that would be comforting if they weren’t painting a picture of extreme weather patterns. At times, the track feels hopeless, coming to the reality of the fact that there’s a constant denial of climate change. However, there’s also an appreciation and a reminder of why it is so important to conserve what we can.
“Today is alright
But I’ll bring it in tomorrow
As a cold front approaches
And threatens the plants
If the answer is yes
Then I’ll call you in August
When the palm trees ignite
Through a smudge in the glass”
Lina K.O. – “Two-Player Mode” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Bleach Lab, Fenne Lily, Sharon Van Etten
Those who have followed this space know that Lina K.O. is one of our favorites. It’s not simply that she was one of our Artists to Watch in 2021, but the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter possesses the gift of touching one’s soul without ever laying a hand on the person. When the calendar flips, she likely will be touching countless number of souls, as her new EP, Earth Apple, will be released. Last month, Lina K.O. shared the mini-album’s first single, “Arrhythmia”, which made the two-year wait behind music well worth it.
On the EP’s second single, Lina K.O. delivers a engrossing and dreamy number in “Two-Player Mode”. The song is the most fleshed-out track we’ve heard from K.O. so far. Some great electric guitar comes and goes, drums present throughout, vocals drenched in harmonies, and a perfectly understated electronic accompaniment. The lyrics are just as personal as we’d expect from her, singing of the intricacies of a relationship as if it’s a co-op mode in a video game, and sometimes it’s a little PvP as well.
“Maybe it’ll all make sense
Falling into place like Tetris
I know I’m not the only one who still doesn’t get it
I’m reaching for the nuclear phone,
But I don’t know the password
You go ahead and make a home
I’ll catch up after.”
Earth Apple will be released January 13th, 2023. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.
Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys – “Stereoscope” (Berlin, Germany via Johannesburg & Cape Town, South Africa)
RIYL: Lightning Dust, Ashley Shadow, Emma Ruth Rundle
Throughout their near-decade of existence, Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys turned melancholy into a stark and foreboding affair. Their Gothic-folk simultaneously mesmerizes and hypnotizes, as the Berlin-based band deliver every note with the patience and precision of an Old Master painting their next masterpiece. Their efforts culminated in Teen Tapes (for performing your own stunts), which was beautifully stark and soul penetrating and a strong contender as one of our favorite albums of 2022. Yesterday, the collective announced that their fifth album, which is yet to be titled, will be released in April of next year. Accompanying the announcement is “Stereoscope”.
The first single from the upcoming LP sees the band narrowly open the door to allow a glimmer of light to enter their darkness. The gloomy, Gothic tones remain, as soft percussion stutters in the background while a lingering guitar and bass solemnly slow dance. Kruger’s smokey voice is delivered in her patented calm, whispery, and unhurried fashion. She poetically reveals how she is suffocating and blinded from the weight of pressure and anxiety, and the only way she can see is through the eyes of another. To see through their perspective and reality.
And we cannot wait until next spring when we get to see through Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys’ lenses.
In addition to Kruger (vocals, guitar), the band includes Liú Mottes (guitar), Calvin Siderfin (bass), Martin Perret (drums, percussion and electronic production), and Jean-Louise Parke (vocals). The single is out on German Unique Records and Polish Schubert Music Europe.
Ladytron – “Faces” (Liverpool, England)
RIYL: Air, Kate Bush, Goldfrapp
If you’ve watched or listened to any of Professor Brian Cox’s lectures or his podcast with Robin Ince (The Infinite Monkey Cage), you’ve probably been impressed by the music that gets played, which is a mix of classical music, post-rock, and classic rock. For his future shows, we hope he strongly considers the songs of Ladytron because the legendary English outfit’s retro futuristic synth-wave is made for discussions about cosmology, astronomy, and the origins of the universe. Even their stories have a scientific (or sci-fi) quality to them, such as “City of Angels” and “Misery Remember”. Helen Marnie (lead vocals, synthesizers), Mira Aroyo (vocals, synthesizers), Daniel Hunt (synthesizers, guitar, vocals), and Reuben Wu (synthesizers) set us in the TARDIS and launch us back into the future with their latest number, “Faces”.
As is their trademark, the four Liverpudlians deliver the musical equivalent of an interstellar expedition. Synths swirl effortlessly in this cosmic soundscape while a controlled, taping beat keeps the song anchored to its orbital path. At the helm of this starship is Marnie, whose transcendent, futuristic voice keeps our eyes fixated on our destination – the event horizon. However, this place where time and space pause does not exist within a black hole but rather within us. It resides deep within our psyches and souls, where we attempt to decipher what was, what is, and what is to come. As well, we try to understand who helped us get to where we are now and where we will be tomorrow.
“Faces with an alibi, faces with a promise
faces that got left behind, faces that return from
Sea to face the world again, faces at their value
Faces come from yesterday, and arrive tomorrow
faces go unrecognised, faces smiling back at you”
Gloomer – “One More Time” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Sleep Party People, Tame Impala
In the past two years, an interesting development has happened – many producers are releasing their own solo projects. And why shouldn’t they? They already are masters at their craft, helping (and in many cases solely) to craft the arrangements and melodies and occasionally assisting with the songwriting. So why should someone else steal their thunder? The latest producer to move away from the soundboard and to the microphone is Elliott Kozel, who goes by the moniker Gloomer.
Kozel, who has produced songs for Jean Dawson, Yves Tumor, and many others, has released a handful of tracks, which unsurprisingly spans and combines multiple genres. On “One More Time”, he unveils a whirling, addictive piece of neo-psychedelia that would have the likes of Ruban Nielson (UMO) and Kevin Parker (Tame Impale) listen with approval. Kozel’s producing skills are front and center, as every element is perfectly harmonised. The track, as such, is truly a sum of its parts, where Kozel’s pillowy soft vocal sits comfortably within the musical fireworks exploding around him. A wall of guitars slices through the superb, accelerated drum line and the Peter Hook-ish bass line, creating the sense that we’re either rushing through space or chasing after a dream. For Kozel, he’s running after the hope that he can reunite with someone that he has lost. All he seeks is just one more embrace before the end of days arrives.
Kozel’s solo career, however, is just getting started thanks to the support of Pop Can Records.
GLOSSER – “The Artist” (Washington, D.C., USA)
RIYL: BROODS, Oh Wonder, Sylvan Esso
Despite their project, Glosser, being in its early stages, Riley Fanning and Corbin Sheehan have demonstrated the patience and skills of veteran artists. Their eponymous, debut EP was a dreamgaze delight – effortless shoegaze that was tantalizing and comforting on the mind and soul. The duo, however, are evolving. With the release of their debut album, DOWNER, approaching, Glosser’s second act learns more towards bedroom-pop but with a darker tone as opposed to bubbly melodies. By moving in this direction, the pair can truly draw listeners into their world and make us feel like we are truly sitting next to them. Where we can feel every emotion that comes from their words and notes, as is the case with “The Artist”.
There are no bells and whistles on this starkly melodic yet hypnotic number. Hymnal keys, a plucky bass line, and a methodical drumbeat are the only elements, yet the song still reaches breathtaking moments. On this platform, Fanning’s hushed vocal stands alone. Vulnerability, defiance, uncertainty, and strength are heard in her delivery, and she sounds like a person who is quietly shouting to be heard. With her introspective and revealing lyrics, we hear her, particularly when she sings:
“What’s mine is yours
No buyers left for all the damaged goods
I shall create
What will be great
Until the life I’ve made comes to eat me
Rocks thrown at the storm
A perfect metaphor
For this lack
And every night
I hope I’ll learn to get it right”
This is a band to watch in 2023 in the beyond.
DOWNER will be unveiled on January 27th, 2023. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.
The Darts – “Snake Oil” (Phoenix, USA)
RIYL: Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Death Valley Girls, L.A. Witch
Back in 2016 and 2017, The Darts erupted on the scene – they literally exploded with their fiery and feverish brand of garage-rock and psychedelic rock. At the time, the original band members were split between Phoenix and Los Angeles, but the distance didn’t stop them from becoming one of the best rock bands around. Their 2017 album, Me.Ow, was the sonic equivalent of a steam roller, as every track was crushing. What did stop the band was COVID, which is the case for many. Consequently, two of the original band members, both of whom reside in LA, departed, leaving Christina Nunez and Nicole Laureanne to keep the band together. Not only did they do this, they also recruited Meliza Jackon and Velvet Hammer to play guitar and drums, respectively. The lineup may be different, but the fun and intensity of their early years remain, as demonstrated on “Snake Oil”.
If you have a cowboy hat and some boots, put them on because this tune is boisterous garage-rock southwestern style. Bustling guitars, explosive rhythms, and a Farfisa organ explode from the start, and they set the scene for Nunez’s little story of an unforbidden love. Nunez also channels her inner Jerry Lee Lewis, as her lightning-quick fingers pound away at the keys (the organ solo is awesome). For 152 seconds, we lose your proverbial shit, put under the spell of The Darts’ ripping and tripping venom. Here’s hoping more intoxication is to come in 2023 and a new The Darts’ album will be announced.
Once again, The Darts are: Christina Nunez (bass, vocals), Nicole Laurenne (vocals, organ, keys), Meliza Jackson (guitar, vocals), and Velvet Hammer (drums, vocals).
H. Hawkline – “Suppression Street” (Los Angeles via Cardiff, Wales)
RIYL: Twain, Andy Shauf, Marlon Williams
Huw Evans – who is better known by his stage name, H. Hawkline – is one of the most underrated songwriters in the business, where he can take the mundane and make them extravagant or take something extremely personal and have the experience belong to us. This is what makes Evans a songwriter’s songwriter. Recently, he released “Milk for Flowers”, the title track for his upcoming record, which is another song where he lives up to his reputation.
The second single from Milk for Flowers is “Suppression Street”. The song is inviting right from its opening moments. Some bass and synth welcome listeners right before Evans’ voice comes in. His delivery is in perfect sync with the percussion, which adds a great dynamic to the track. His voice is joined by a vocoder echoing his every word in the chorus while a saxophone fills the space in between. The vibe is delightfully surreal, as Evans sings of suppressing unique qualities and hiding behind a different mask to appeal to everyone. But in the end, he looks like a clown with all that face paint. With that realization, the song breaks out with great interlocking sax and guitar solos before Evans and the vocoder rejoins.
Lana Del Rey – “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Bvld” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Lana Del Rey
Yes, we know Lana Del Rey is a superstar, but in many ways she’s the anti-superstar. She deactivated most of her social media accounts over a year ago and tries to stay out of the news as much as possible. Although she’s signed to a major label, she’s shied away from the typical radio-friendly, pop fare, choosing instead soft-rock and intimate pop. What sets her apart from her contemporaries is her songwriting. Yes, Del Rey writes the vast majority of the lyrics to her songs (although she will collaborate with another songwriter on occasion), which explains why her songs possess a raw emotion.
Take her brilliant and outstanding 2019 album, Norman Fucking Rockwell, which saw the LA-based artist tackle head-on misogyny and patriarchy, grapple with identity and self-confidence, and the crumbling of the world. What issues she will address on her forthcoming ninth album, Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Bvld, remains to be seen, but it likely will be a magnificently written record full of contradiction. The title track gives this indication.
“Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Bvld” features all the traits that make Del Rey a standout among her peers. It is a nod to the soft, theatrical pop of the ’50s and ’60s, as strings quietly cascade around her. Whereas many pop artists would end the track on a major high, where all the elements, including the vocal, intensifies, Del Rey chooses to keep everything restrained, maintaining the dreamy, tranquil melody. This only fuels the emotion in her brittle voice and lyrics, which depict anything but peace and harmony. She does, however, seek such things.
“Harry Nilsson has a song, his voice breaks at 2:05
Something about the way he says, ‘Don’t forget me’
Makes me feel like
I just wish I had a friend like him, someone to give me fire
Leaning in my back, whispering in my ear
‘Come on, baby, you can drive’
But I can’t”
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