After yesterday’s more upbeat and rocking affair, The Matinee ’23 v. 004 gears down a bit with songs focused on reclaiming a part of ourselves that we thought we lost. Today’s mini-playlist also is a rare one – it features solely artists and no bands.
Vagabon – “Carpenter” (New York City, USA via Cameroon)
RIYL: Dev Hynes + Solange + Phoebe Bridgers
It was not long ago when Lætitia Tamko was considered one of indie-rock’s brightest singer-songwriters. As Vagabon, she drew comparisons to Liz Phair, Sharon Van Etten, and Waxahatchee. However, the Cameroon-born artist’s creativity extends beyond any single genre. Over time, she’s branched out musically while also reaching back to her place of birth. In the process, she’s become a younger version of Dev Hynes, the celebrated producer, writer, singer, and innovator. As such, the massive stardom predicted for her back in 2017 could be on the horizon with “Carpenter” being the steppingstone to this eventuality.
A lush, oceanic vibe filters through this multi-genre stunner. Gently pulsing beats combine with Caribbean- and African-inspired rhythms, creating a sound that could be heard in an exclusive nightclub, on sandy beaches, or on the plains of the Serengeti. This all-inclusive quality also is heard in Tamko’s words, as she reaches out to people like her who need a hand to help lift them on their feet. They need someone to help them believe in themselves once again and confront the challenges ahead. And Tamko has been doing this for years, helping to create spaces for “weird girls” like her be recognized and celebrated, as she once told Pitchfork in 2017. May 2023 be the Year of Vagabon.
The single is out on Father/Daughter Records. Our fingers are crossed that an album announcement is coming.
néomí – “skipping stone” (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
RIYL: Daughter, Ghostly Kisses, Fenne Lily
Last week, Neomi Speelman was identified as an Artist to Watch in 2023 because she, via her project néomí, combines one of the gorgeous voices in the business with an emotionally-captivating and dramatic sound. Her songs are individual events, which was best demonstrated on “red balloon”. To kick off what should be a big year for the Surinamese-Dutch artist, she takes us into the depths of despair with “skipping stone”.
Open the windows, grab the mask from the oxygen tank, or try to find a way to slow your breathing because Speelman has delivered another spellbinding number. A lightly-strummed guitar sets the mood, lingering in the foreground with ghostly effect. A few seconds later, Speelman’s unforgettable, haunting vocal emerges. She shares a memory of a time when the one person she loved became distant. As the song progresses, it takes on a Daughter-like quality, as the breathtaking effect gives way to a brittle and emotional ending. “How can I be your love if you don’t want to hold me? / Maybe I’m your skipping stone?”, she ponders and eventually realizes that the end of their time together is coming to an end.
Your and our time with néomí, however, is just beginning. She’s going to be a star, and her sophomore EP, after, may be what ignites her to the stratosphere. It releases April 14th via PIAS.
Miss Grit – “Lain (Phone Clone)” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Mitski, Half Waif, St. Vincent
Miss Grit has been a favorite since their debut record Talk Talk. The praise that followed led Margaret Sohn towards the imposter syndrome that was the center of their most recent EP, Impostor. Each of their releases tackles relatable internal battles, from the pressure and expectations in the music world to Sohn’s half-Korean upbringing in suburban Michigan. Those themes have now manifested in Sohn’s upcoming concept record, Follow The Cyborg, which follows a “non-human machine as it moves from its helpless origin to awareness and liberation”.
The latest single from the LP, which follows “Like You” and “Follow the Cyborg”, is “Lain (Phone Clone)”. The track features the distinctive Miss Grit sound, electronic with a perfectly executed layer of distortion. Sohn sings more of the constant entwinement of the digital and physical worlds and the barriers many people put up between the real world and online self. Sohn takes the name and concept of the song from Serial Experiments Lain, an anime about a disconnect from reality and having to face the other personalities. As the digital world is now available everywhere in our pockets, Miss Grit reminds us to disconnect.
“Hold up your hands if you can’t hold up the act
Hold up your hands if your two lives overlap
Hold up your hands if you want your memories back
Hold up your hands and let go of your phone clone”
Elanor Moss – “Catholic” (York, England)
RIYL: Kate Davis, Abbie Ozard, Ellur
Last year, Elanor Moss released Citrus. It was an incredibly powerful EP where Moss tells the story of a failing relationship, tension, and the constant struggle to get well. Its self-produced nature gives it an even more intimate vibe and makes each of these encapsulated moments hit harder. While it seems bleak on the surface, there is a connection and reality in each song that draws listeners into the world of her music. Moss is following that EP with Cosmic, which builds on the story told in Citrus.
Where Citrus was mostly acoustic and sparse, Cosmic is shaping up to be a much bigger affair as heard on “Catholic”. An electric guitar, a full band, and some great harmonies create an infectious, driving, pop-rock atmosphere, within which Moss’ lush voice floats. As the song’s title suggests, it has its roots in religion, but it’s a relatable story that translates to any culture. As Moss shares: “It’s a song about grappling with your identity and realising you’ve relied on validation from others most of your life, whether that’s friends, family, or romantic partners. It’s also about realising you have the power to change and doing that.” With a message that resonates and a track that’s intentional and loud, “Catholic” is simply a great track.
Fran – “God” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: Mary Chapin Carpenter, Hand Habits, Julia Jacklin
Maria Jacobson has an incredible talent for captivating the human heart. It’s part of why we think Fran is one of the great musical projects of the past five years, and why Jacobson is on the fast-track to being recognized as one of this generation’s greatest songwriters. It’s not an exaggeration, as singles like “So Long”, “Limousine”, and “Palm Trees” pair powerful lyricism with beautifully crafted folk music.
Their latest single, “God”, is perhaps Jacobson’s most impactful track. Starting with just lightly strummed acoustic guitar and Jacobson’s voice. Their voice is as inviting as it is powerful. When a harmony of “ooh’s” and piano join, the track elevates to new heights. The song goes through some cycles: sometimes it’s the light accompaniment and sometimes it’s just vocal and guitar with just a hint of what sounds like woodwind. Within this calm soundscape, Fran discusses the unforgivable consequences of change.
“I’m not the same
As I was when we started
That comes with being on
I searched your name
And hoped I might remember
The certain change
That comes with playing God
Gena Rose Bruce – “Harsh Light” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Lady Lamb, Margaret Glaspy, The Beatles
In 2019, Gena Rose Bruce released her debut record, Can’t Make You Love Me. It was an inviting LP that channeled artists like Mazzy Star and Fleetwood Mac among others, and it, as such, felt like it came from an artist with a much bigger discography under her belt. At times it was strange, at others it was absolutely stunning. Bruce is gearing up to release her sophomore album, Deep Is The Way in a couple of weeks, which includes the title track that features Bill Callahan.
Deep Is The Way‘s latest single is “Harsh Light”. The track kicks off with a ringing guitar before some groovy chords and a plucky bass kick in. Bruce’s voice then arrives, and it booms over everything. Then things take a wild turn with some infectious piano joining in a moment that honestly wouldn’t feel out of place on Abbey Road. Like Lennon singing at the piano, Bruce shares a tale about love enduring through the hard times and the reminders that love can still be found.
“And we can’t escape life’s dreariness
and at times we will feel the emptiness
It’s all around us, making its way through
but all these questions will lead us to the truth
And our love with hold true”
Gabrielle Shonk – “People Pleaser” (Montreal, Canada via Providence, USA)
RIYL: Jessica Pratt, Molly Burch, M. Ward
Gabrielle Shonk‘s debut record scored her a nomination for a Juno Award for Adult Alternative Album of the Year. She also was a competitor on La Voix, the French-Canadian version of The Voice. To achieve so much early in her career is proof of her undeniable talent as a singer-songwriter. Add in the fact that she’s a classically trained jazz musician, everything she creates is something to listen intently. The Montreal-based artist is gearing up to release her second album, Across the Room, next month, and it’s shaping up to be another critically-acclaim release.
The first two singles from Across The Room, “Aftertaste” and “How We Used To Be”, indicate a poppy direction for the record. The latest single, “People Pleaser”, however, turns that all on its head. The track starts with a vintage sound, as Shonk’s distorted voice softly sings over a finger-picked guitar. Her voice then explodes with the song turning into a fantastic rock number. Catchy guitar leads, immersive harmonies, and some really fun percussion emerge and drive the track. Despite the upbeat nature, Shonk discusses the importance of self-care over pleasing others.
“I’m done saying sorry
I’ve said it too much
It’s lost all it’s meaning
Through the fake blame I took
I’m done saying sorry
Now if I apologize it’s cause I mean it
And I’ve truly done something wrong
I’m the people pleaser
I always aim to please
Yes I’m the people pleaser
But now I must please me!”
Savagery – “Laughter” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: The Antlers, Alt-J, Vilde
Living in a city that is home to Courtney Barnett, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Alex Lahey, Angie McMahon, G Flip, and a host of others, it’s difficult to stand out. At the same time, a person can find inspiration in Melbourne’s diverse arts and music scene and, in turn, create something fresh and inviting. Savagery has done this with his “debut single”, “Laughter”.
We loosely say “debut single” because Savagery is the new project of Thomas Savage, who has released four albums under the moniker Vilde (and is a favorite in these parts). While the reasons for the name change are unknown, we can only assume is associated with his return to Australia after spending years in Stockholm (or maybe this is his Southern Hemisphere project). Regardless, the effortless, transcendent electro-pop that has become a staple of Savage’s music remains. Patiently and subtly, synths, beats, and electronics burst around the gauzy guitar and Savage’s embracing voice. Pain, hope, regret, and love pour from his words, as he reflects back on how infidelity destroyed a relationship. As stunning the music is, the lyrics are the opposite – cutting and harsh.
“Don’t forget this time in the future, You’ll be wishing, I were near”
Open, honest and transparent.
A picture showing muck and grime.
Desperate, taken, dizzy, shaken
‘Undone loving’, who had said?
Welcome back Mr. Savage.
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