A new year means more great new music, and The Matinee ’23 v. 001 kicks off the year on a massively high note. The nine songs featured are simply incredible, and many already are on our short list for Song of the Year. These tracks are that good.
Note that we have decided to do a two-month playlist in order to extend coverage of songs.
Meadowlark – “Goodbye” (Bristol, England)
RIYL: Arctic Lake, Iris Lune, Cross Record
For nearly a decade, Kate McGill and Daniel Broadley have been creating music as Meadowlark. They first mesmerized us with “Fly”, which provided a sample of their capabilities as an alt-electronic duo. Over time, however, they’ve expanded their sound into electro-pop and dream-pop, and their songwriting also has matured in that time. As the duo’s tenth anniversary approaches, they may be reaching the pinnacle of their craft – or maybe they’re still scratching the surface of their potential – as “Goodbye” is arguably their pièce de résistance.
Take a deep breath and submerge yourself within this stunning number. Quietly, Broadley’s acoustic guitar strums in the background, providing a warm tranquility. McGill’s soft, lush voice floats over top, and she movingly paints a scene of want, separation, and finally, lost. As she reveals more of the story, drums and keys emerge, and the track turns from one of bedroom intimacy to ethereal emotional. In this space, we are left floored by what we hear and see. We are left floored once again by a band that either years ago was a Hidden Gem.
“I was convinced you’d come back
Tell me that you miss me
But then again I always was a fool for you
I was convinced you’d fall back
On our history
God got me saying, ‘Finally, finally’”
Watch the beautifully sombre video on YouTube.
The Murder Capital – “Return My Head” (Dublin, Ireland)
RIYL: Fontaines D.C., The Clockworks, October Drift
The Murder Capital have easily become one of the most interesting post-punk bands today. James McGovern (vocals), Damien Tuit (guitar), Cathal Roper (guitar), Gabriel Pascal Blake (bass), and Diarmuid Brennan (drums) produced some of last year’s best tracks, including “Only Good Things”, “A Thousand Lives”, and “Ethel”, which was one of our Favorite Songs of 2022. Their commitment to their post-punk foundation is what makes them so notable, especially when they build upon it with their unique storytelling.
Their latest single, “Return My Head”, builds on that foundation. Kicking off with just some brushed drum work and a chugging bass line, the track develops into a huge way when it gets to the chorus. That earlier bass line drives the entire tune – from its heavier moments with some strange, distorted electronics, to the moments where McGovern preaches to the listeners. There’s a kick-ass guitar solo, too, which leads into an incredible end for the track.
The chaos, the ups and downs, the noise all echoes the song’s lyrical sentiment, which concerns the distortion, the abrasiveness, and the intensity of making changes and chasing dreams. All he wanted was the fairy-tale ending, but it is just an unreachable dream. It is now just a false hope.
The Murder Capital’s new album, Gigi’s Recovery, will be released January 20th, 2023 on Human Season Records. Pre-orders available here.
Black Belt Eagle Scout – “Nobody” (Swinomish, WA USA)
RIYL: Vivian Girls + Julia Jacklin + Waxahatchee
Sensational. It’s the one word we constantly say when listening to Black Belt Eagle Scout‘s music. In the past two months alone, Katherine Paul already has dazzled us with “Don’t Give Up” and “My Blood Runs Through This Land”. It’s not solely the gorgeous dreamgaze that surrounds her vulnerable voice but also Paul’s remarkable songwriting. Her songs are autobiographical, touching on Paul’s life as a queer, indigenous woman; and anthropological, sharing the stories, histories, and lessons of her culture and family. As such, when Paul releases a new song, we stop what we’re doing and focus our attention in her direction because she is likely to offer us another lesson of what great music is. And “Nobody” is great.
Paul’s trademark dreamgaze is front-and-center. Unhurried, her reverb-drenched guitar calmly churns in the background while a terrific drum line rumbles in the foreground. As the song progresses, it reaches a stirring climax, as her guitar takes over and blisters the sky. Paul’s voice, meanwhile, is brittle and introspective. While she does not say very much on the song, her words cut through the trembling noise and offer a powerful tribute to her ancestors. Sometimes, a few words have the same impact as a thousand.
“Yeah I feel it in my bones
Like the lines you carve for me
And it moves right through my skin
I can hear it in the breeze
Nobody sang it for me like I wanna sing it to you”
Sensational. This track is further evidence why Paul’s new album, The Land, The Water, The Sky, is one of our Most Anticipated LPs of the Year. It will be released February 10th, 2023 via Saddle Creek. Pre-orders available at these links and on Bandcamp.
Liela Moss – “Come and Find Me” (London, England)
RIYL: The Knife, Bat for Lashes, mid-career Depeche Mode
No offence to her friends and band mates of The Duke Spirit, but Liela Moss‘ solo work is simply mesmerizing. By working independently, she can dabble in different sonic waters and, thus, reveal another side. For instance, back in November when she released “Ache in the Middle”, which included guest vocals from Jehnny Beth, Moss unveiled a darker, more harrowing side. The London-based singer-songwriter takes a few more strides into the bleakness with “Come and Find Me”.
Moss’ newest single is Gothic brilliance. It is stark yet gripping, propulsive but alluring. Synths pulse in numerous directions, while the quick hits of the percussion try to keep the song anchored. A track this powerful, however, cannot be held down. It can only rise, and much has to do with Moss’ biting and bitter vocal. She is the voice of a person or entity that refuses to be held down. “Come and find me, I’m empathy / And I’m not on your phone / You compare me and ignore me / But it’s decided, you’re wherever we go,” she sings at the start. Later as the drama builds and the darkness grows, she adds:
“I’m trying to be the bigger man
Now the past don’t mean a thing
Don’t trust the ruling hand
Take up your new place
Take up your new place
We already have a Song of the Year candidate.
Moss’ new album, Internal Working Model, will be released this Friday, January 13th on Bella Union. Pre-orders available at these links and directly on Bandcamp. It, too, is one of our Most Anticipated Albums of 2023.
Robin Kester – “Infinity Song” (Rotterdam, Netherlands)
RIYL: SAMIA, Marika Hackman, Highasakite
In the short time Robin Kester has touched our ears, she has impressed us with her versatility and songwriting. From the breathtaking restraint of “Leave Now” to the cinematic intimacy of “Cat 13” to to the lush art-folk of “Celeste”, Kester is a dynamic talent on the verge of a major breakthrough. Each song brings unique vibes, intertwined with Kester’s hazy voice, and she once again charts new territory with her latest single “Infinity Song”.
“Infinity Song” has an upbeat feeling to it. A bouncy bassline and some whimsical synth are joined by a perfect accompaniment of guitar jangle. It’s a huge contrast from the bleak subject matter of the song, which concerns Kester receiving bad news regarding loved ones. Kester also sings of the looming COVID pandemic at the time and the uncertainty it brought. With that uncertainty and tragedy, Kester turns to the comforting nostalgic tones heard in “Infinity Song” and tries to reason with the new world around her.
“Drawn to a distant light
Too many cups of coffee
Lay awake in bed that night
I guess I am ungrateful
Because I don’t really care
For a short-lived reprieve
When nothing’s really changed
This single is out on At Ease.
Nighttime – “When the Wind is Blowing” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Kristine Leschper, Katie Von Schleicher, Sunflower Thieves
Once a listener is immersed in the world of Nighttime, it’s hard to shake the haunting feelings of Eva Louise Goodman’s music. It’s immediate when listening to the spellbinding “Curtain is Closing” or her lo-fi 2021 EP, Turning Wheel. Goodman’s songs have an otherworldly quality to them – from the ethereal soundscapes to the vivid and commonly surreal storytelling. The upstate New Yorker also has toured as a member of Mutual Benefit, so she is no stranger to creating captivating cosmic folk music.
On Nighttime’s latest single, “When the Wind is Blowing”, Goodman embraces the qualities that makes her music so moving. The song starts out simply with Goodman’s voice, drenched in layers of reverb, hovering over some acoustic guitar. Some electric guitar and drums eventually come in, and the track transforms into an absolute stunner with Goodman’s voice soaring over the cosmic fireworks. While the track takes listeners to euphoria, it deals with the inevitability that is associated with the passage of time: decline and death. The single’s music video vividly showcases this, as Goodman is led around by Death itself.
“When you imagine what could be
Instead of the reality
When all that’s left is resonating
An afterglow illuminating
Oh my yellowed vision in lingering light
Opens my arms to the slow decline
Guiding our hearts through the passage of time
Oh soft wind dancing through the night”
En Attendant Ana – “Same Old Story” (Paris, France)
RIYL: Melody’s Echo Chamber, Broadcast, Melby
Comparisons to Alvvays were unavoidable for En Attendant Ana, especially after releasing two jangly and dreamy LPs, Lost and Found and Julliet. While Margaux Bouchaudon, Camille Fréchou, Maxence Tomasso, Adrien Pollin, and Antoine Vaugelade could continue down this path and make hip-wiggling power-pop, they have chosen to show the many shades that pop can have. With “Principia”, they revealed how a catchy melody can still be angsty. Now with “Same Old Story”, they turn back the clocks some fifty years and deliver one infectious number.
“Same Old Story” was made for technicolor. It is laced with the sounds of Paris in the late ’60s and early ’70s, specifically, the psych-pop that burst from every sidewalk café and radio station. The song is cool, groovy, and mysterious, highlighted by the awesome bass line that kicks off the track and the sultry saxophone that emerges in the end. Bouchaudon voice has a Trish Keenan (of Broadcast) tone, where it sounds a bit nonchalant yet is still magnetic. As the track picks up steam, her vocal never waivers because the tune is about living in “a bubble” where everything is controlled and there is no room for debate nor exchange of ideas. For En Attendant Ana, however, they refuse to be confined to a specific set of ideas.
Swimwear Department – “Clothing Optional” (Houston, USA)
RIYL: The Presidents of the United States of America, The B-52s, Parquet Courts
The shopping mall is a dying concept, but for generations it’s something that’s come to define capitalism throughout the world. What does this have to do with a rock band from Houston? Well, Swimwear Department sing exclusively about malls and swimming pools. It’s a schtick that few bands could ever pull off in a way that wouldn’t wear thin, but they’ve been doing this for a few years now. With each release, Matt Graham (vocals), Jeremy Grisbee (keys), Ned Gayle (bass), and Jack Gordon (drums) find a way to address the bigger picture of sterilized suburbia.
Their latest, “Clothing Optional”, starts out with a look into a mundane, cookie-cutter life. Singing “Don’t Stop Believing” at Karaoke, Graham speaks about breaking the everyday cycle and seeking change, whether it’s a person finding a new job or a swimming pool becoming a skatepark. “Clothing Optional” is just a blast to listen to, from its churning punky undertones with playful organ and the witty observations peppered throughout. On the surface, it’s such a silly track, but it’s a intelligent and fun ride all the same.
“You don’t have to be a shopping mall anymore
You can be a righteous faith healin’ mega church
You don’t have to be a church forever, love
Someday you can be a concrete ruin!
You wanna fit in? Come to the fitting room
You wanna change? Come to the changing room!”
Ghostly Kisses – “Back to Black” (Amy Winehouse cover) (Québec City, Canada)
RIYL: Rhye, Portishead, Cigarettes After Sex
We end the first The Matinee of 2023 in much of the same way we tend to kick off every year – with a song from Margaux Sauvé. For nearly seven years, the Quebec City native has haunted our minds with her project, Ghostly Kisses. Her music is often characterized by a patient yet beautiful starkness that lingers in our hearts and heads for hours if not days later. Sauvé, however, slightly changed her approach on last year’s Heaven, Wait, which was more widescreen and suspenseful. But whether she’s surrounded by an orchestra, a talented band, or is alone at the piano, her music is penetrating. It is on the latter where we find her, as she shares a rapturous cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black”.
While Winehouse’s original had the smokey, bluesy vibe that the powerhouse artist was known for, Sauvé turns it into a heart-wrenching ballad. The tempo is slowed, and a sombre, almost mournful tone emanates from the baby grand. As each key is struck, Sauvé’s ghostly voice rises and paralyzes the listener. Her delivery gives added emotion to Winehouse’s tale about loving someone who, at the end of the day, goes home to another.
“We only said goodbye with words
I died a hundred times
You go back to her
And I go back to
I go back to us”
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