The Matinee ’22 v. 160 is our final mini-playlist of the year. To bid adieu to the year, we’re doing what we love most – highlighting the music of some of the industry’s finest, under-the-radar talents. For indieheads, some of the names are familiar. For more casual music fans, however, hopefully you’ll find a new favorite band.
Dead Pony – “Maneater” (Nelly Furtado cover) (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: The Mysterines, Black Honey, Dream Wife
Only a few months ago, Scottish rockers Dead Pony released a blistering EP in War Boys. The mini-record was not only a full-frontal assault on the senses, but it also attacked all the things that make the world seem to be moving backwards – misogynists, war hawks, ghosters, you name it. While Anna Shields (rhythm guitar, lead vocals), Liam Adams (bass), and Aidan McAllister (drums) are still in their early twenties, they are mature beyond their years. Even when they’re doing a cover track, they choose a number that goes beyond the usual. In this case, they cover Nelly Furtado’s “Maneater”, which is, in our humble opinion, better than the original.
Shield’s over-driven guitar and a mellotron immediately burst on this ’80s-esque stark rocker. Adams and McAllister, meanwhile, add to the sinister feeling with their pulsating and shifting rhythms, which really come to the fore during the creepy bridge. Shields’ vocal is layered so that it sounds like it is a mix of something human and inhuman. The tale she recites is one that is more suited for 31st October than 25th December, as she sings about a woman who has an unnatural effect on others. A woman who devours all those in her midst. Kind of like what Dead Pony has on the UK music scene.
The single is out on LAB Records.
KWAYE – “Fool’s Game” (Los Angeles, USA via London, England and Zimbabwe)
RIYL: Dev Hynes / Blood Orange, Babyface, John Legend
Kwayedza Kureya, who simply goes by KWAYE, is an incredibly gifted artist. He is similar to Devonte Hynes, where he can create a euphoric alt-R&B number, rock with the intensity of the alternative masters of the ’90s, or create a lush ballad that could silence a sold-out Radio City Music Hall. The Zimbabwe-born artist has everything to be a star. All he needs is an audience to hear his songs, and maybe “Fool’s Game” is one that gets music fans rushing to see him live and giving him a standing ovation when the event is finished.
“Fool’s Game” is a gorgeous, intimate ballad. It is made for the great concert halls of the world – from the Sydney Opera House to the Royal Albert Hall to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. In this environment, KWAYE’s star would shine brightly as his voice reverberates off every seat and pillar. And it’s not just the lovely, theatrical orchestration or his powerful vocal that grabs the listener. His words are incredibly moving, and they just might have you shed a tear or more.
“Days no longer spent beside you
And beyond our years were tears and
Waves do crash
But when water breaks then life is brand new
So I’ll learn to swim inside the bayou
‘Till I’m right by you”
The single, which took three years to complete, is out on KWAYE’s own imprint, MANGWANA.
Barrie – “Doesn’t Really Matter” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Wet, Men I Trust, Florist
In March, Barrie Lindsay – or simply just Barrie – released their second record, Barbara, earlier this year. It was the kind of dream-pop we’ve come to love and expect from the Brooklyn-based artist: warm and intimate, thoughtful and engaging. Lindsay also released two terrific singles in the autumn with “Nocturne Interlude” and “Unholy Appetite”, which started as haunting and emerged into a delightful, electro-pop experience. What Lindsay does best, however, is create music that feels like a warm blanket, and “Doesn’t Really Matter” possesses this trait.
A pleasant, snuggly atmosphere is created by the simple synth arrangement, the tranquil guitar line, and a superb, guttural bass line. This is a place where we can lie for hours and contemplate of life’s gifts and misforegivings. For Lindsay, they recite the story of a woman trying to move forward and away from those who have kept her anchored. “Would you take your hand off my back?”, Lindsay states at the start. They then proceed to describe how the protagonist struggles each day, where one step forward results in another step backwards. In this song, however, we’ll draw inspiration to power our way through another day and the obstacles before us.
This single will be released on Winspear‘s new compilation, Winspear Volume 01, which will be released January 27th, 2023 to celebrate the label’s 10-year anniversary. Two other songs from the upcoming record also have been unveiled, and they are from The Convenience and PARTS. Pre-order the LP on Bandcamp.
PACKS – “Abalone” (Toronto via Ottawa, Canada)
RIYL: Nirvana, Hole, Liz Phair
One artist who caught our attention a year ago was Madeline Link and her project PACKS. The Ottawa-born, Toronto-based singer-songwriter released a killer debut record with Take The Cake, which contributed to her being listed as one of our Favorite Hidden Gems of 2021. Instead of taking a break, Link immediately went back to the studio, resulting in the ultra-cool EP, WOAH (although at 8 songs many would consider it an album). She has not stopped, sharing one last single before 2022 becomes history.
Channeling the music of her parents’ youthful days, PACKS delivers a gritty number in “Abalone”. It echoes the heydays of Courtney Love, Liz Phair, and Kim Gordon with its methodical yet immensely grungy approach. As her guitar stammers, Link’s voice is downtrodden and somewhat distant. She is lost in a memory or maybe stuck in a specific moment, as her body and mind is somewhere else. Her lyrics are part Pinocchio and another part Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and they are immensely clever and surreal. They just might make you think you are sitting inside the largest mammal on the planet.
“In a half dead tree a week from now
You’ll be asking how
As you ride the wave to the corner store
You’ll be asking for more
Drip drip drip from a ribcage sky
Feels like I’m living in the belly of a whale
Shrink and swell so I hold my head and yell
Well, well, I think I just fell”
Whiskerman – “My Motor” (feat. Kelly McFarling) (Oakland, USA)
RIYL: My Morning Jacket, Chicano Batman, Band of Horses
Two years ago when Whiskerman released “Fuck Yeah”, they delivered a face-melting, neo-psychedelic number that had us reaching for a stiff drink. Since then, the band, like the rest of us, were slowed by the pandemic, but only to a degree. In January, they will release a deluxe edition of their 2016 album, Champions, and it will include three new tracks that showcase the range of the Oakland-based outfit. To tease what is to come, they offer “My Motor”.
If this tune was released in 1992 or even 2002, it probably would be found in every jukebox around the US. “My Motor” would be a classic, which it could still be. Smooth southern-rock sweeps through the track, reminiscent of My Morning Jacket’s Tennessee Fire days and what Band of Horses are doing. For two-thirds of the track, we lightly sway to the breezy melody, and then we gently thrash our head as the song turns into a gritty rocker at its climax. The approach mimics front-man Graham Patzner’s lyrics, which describe a man seeking to find his way out of his self-imposed prison. But first, he must find motivation to get moving.
Whiskerman are: Graham Patzner (vocals, guitar, violin, piano), Jeremy Lyon (guitar), Charles Lloyd (guitar, sitar), Will Lawrence (bass), and Dan Schwartz (drums).
Hana Eid – “Let Down” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: HAIM, Ellur, Faye Webster
Hana Eid must have super-cool parents or relatives because she grew up listening to some of the great rock bands from the ’80s and ’90s, like U2 at their peak. Heck, she even wrote a song called, “Dancing to The Smiths”, which was an absolute jolt to the senses. While this DIY artist from Music City USA is still building her fanbase, she already has a few devout followers, like Aaron. The bandwagon should grow in time, and it’s easy to understand why when she releases coming-of-age songs that stick in your head for days, like “Let Down” does.
Eid’s newest single beckons to the day when guitar music reigned, and nearly everyone had a CD that belonged to The Cranberries, No Doubt, The Breeders, or The Cardigans. The dreamy pop-rock approach is vibrant and infectious. While the guitar drips with reverb and the rhythms urgently blast in the background, Eid’s voice possesses a tender and embracing quality, which hooks us into the track. We, thus, immediately jump into her friend’s parents’ car with her at the start and ride this roller-coaster tale of a young woman trying to discover the right balance between becoming attached and retaining her autonomy. The person in the driver’s seat seems to have found that equilibrium, so why can’t she?
“A part of mе hopes you never call back
I gеt upset, forget where my head’s at
But I, I take it in stride
Because learning to feel is great at the start
And remembering how is the hardest part
And you, you seem so cool”
For what it’s worth, we think Hana is pretty cool, too. Look out for this young artist in the future.
Crawling Vines – “All This Noise” (feat. Vinny Church) (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: Bakar, Kele, Bloc Party
We’ve said this before – one of the best things about doing a music blog is discovering up-and-coming, DIY artists. Every city has a pool of talent seeking to be heard and, in turn, get their big break. In Chicago, Crawling Vines is one of these individuals, creating music out of his bedroom studio. However, the Illinois resident does not make bedroom-pop. On the contrary, his seven singles to date have ranged from eerie psych-rock to anthemic indie-rock and Brit-rock, and it is on the latter where we find him with “All This Noise”.
Featuring his best friend Vinny Church, Crawling Vines delivers a soaring and catchy art-rock number. A stammering drum line guides the reverb-drenched guitar, creating an electric yet desperate tone. For a little less than three minutes, we’re left bopping around, but looking over our shoulders while doing so. This unsettling feeling is caused by Crawling Vines’ gripping voice and words, which indicate a man trying to get out of his own head while inviting another to enter. His songwriting has an air of Spike Jonze to it.
“Waiting in the astral lounge
Waiting tryna get around (get around)
Came all this way to find you
I’ve got the rights to assign you
I got the go ahead
‘Cause if you ever get the chance just to get inside my head
My head, my head, my head”
If CV keeps this up, he has a chance to rise above the crowd.
Lyrah – “Everyone Else” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Broods, BANKS, Sasha Sloan
Almost four years to the day, Lyrah released her debut single, “Don’t Make Me”, that quietly became an underground hit (it was remixed a few times). While the Bay-area native has seen her popularity increase, she remains independent. Whether her situation is out of choice, so she can control what she creates and when her art is released, or just another example of the labels overlooking a burgeoning talent, the answer is only known to her. When she eventually signs with a supportive label, hopefully she’ll continue to create touching music like she does with “Everyone Else”.
While many of her early singles possessed a euphoric, electro-pop quality, Lyrah strips things significantly back. With just a piano and some ambient electronics softly sparkling in the background, the LA-based artist’s stunning voice stars. She sings with pure emotion, speaking out into space and revealing the conflict that exists within her. Everywhere she goes, Lyrah feels she must be someone else in order to please them. However, there is one person with whom she can be herself. Only this person knows what makes her laugh and cry, what makes her feel whole. “Everyone Else” is a love song, but one that addresses self-love and how unconditional love can liberate who we are.
Luke De-Sciscio – “The Tourist” (Bath, England)
RIYL: Paolo Nutini, early Perfume Genius, Villagers
Ty Segall and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are some of the most prolific artists in the industry, releasing at least one album a year (in the Gizz’s case, it can be 2 to 7). Another artist just as productive is Luke De-Sciscio, who has written, recorded, and released over 150 songs and recently unveiled his 11th album. And the Italian is just 30 years old. Oh, he also has done this all on his own. Over the past decade, he has fine-tuned his craft – expanding his vocal range and writing stories as opposed to just sharing his thoughts. His progression has resulted in many tastemakers, including Bob Boilen and NPR, praising his talents. For us, this is our first time featuring De-Sciscio’s music, and of all the songs we’ve heard of his, “The Tourist” is his masterpiece.
Even the Bath-based singer-songwriter states that “‘The Tourist’ is, more than just my best song, but the song I was born to create.” Despite its 7+-minute duration, the track just breezes by because of how gorgeous it is. Commencing with De-Sciscio at the piano, his lovely voice elegantly rises above the tender keys. His songwriting shines in this atmosphere, describing how a person he’s known for a long time seems like a stranger these days. They are a tourist in this world. As the song progresses, strings, a dangling guitar, and light percussion enter the fray, and they add to the song’s gravity, which grabs hold and doesn’t let go. It’s a tune that you will likely remember for a very, very long time.
De-Sciscio’s new album, If one thing were different, nothing would be the same, is out now and available on Bandcamp.
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