Surprises and excitement is in the air thanks to the 11 songs on The Matinee ’23 v. 006. The mini-playlist has moments of bliss as well as terror, of unwavering dedication to sacrificing of souls. Get ready to be pulled into the light and to drown within the darkness.

Immerse yourself in these 11 outstanding songs and continue the musical journey by spinning the Songs of January & February 2023 playlist. Find it on Spotify or SoundCloud.

 

Tiny Ruins – “The Crab / Waterbaby” (Auckland, New Zealand)

RIYL: music that will remove all tension from your body and mind

Over the last decade or so, New Zealand has emerged as a songwriting powerhouse. A lot of that is thanks to Hollie Fullbrook – a.k.a. Tiny Ruins. Originally a solo project, Fullbrook has added Cass Basil (bass), Alexander Freer (drums), and Tom Healy (guitar) over the years. Their most recent release was the gorgeous Olympic Girls in 2019 as well as its Fullbrook-only solo version of the record. Between her warm vocals and finger-picked guitar, anyone who’s listened to Fullbrook’s music knows that she captures humanity in a way few do.

Their first single since 2019 is another stunner, “The Crab / Waterbaby”. The track has those pristine Tiny Ruins vibes pulsing throughout. At first, that pulse is dictated by Fullbrook’s guitar, but then it’s made even bigger with an accompaniment of minimalistic strings. There are moments of peace with guitar chiming over just some bass, and Fullbrook’s voice is as inviting as ever. Fullbrook’s empathy and humanity are on full display through the song’s lyrics. Relating to an overturned crab, she flips him upright and sends him on his way. This brief and seemingly insignificant moment becomes something much bigger:

“I returned my friend the right way
He took off with a sideways glance
So glad to meet you waterbaby
Now let’s go give this day a chance
We’re translucent see

Goddamn permeable
We’re translucent see
Goddamn permeable
I need a ceremony”

Tiny Ruins’ new album is coming later this year via Milk! Records / Marathon Artists / Ba Da Bing Records. We cannot wait!

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Fenne Lily – “Lights Light Up” (Brooklyn, USA via Bristol, England)

RIYL: a song that will make you appreciate the time we have with loved ones

From the moment Fenne Lily‘s voice touched our ears way back in 2016 with “Top to Toe”, we’ve been under her spell. In the nearly seven years since, the English singer-songwriter continues to mesmerize with her gorgeous vocal and vivid songwriting. Her 2018 debut album, Hold On, was the equivalent of ethereal catharsis – musically and in the stories she told. On the 2020 follow-up, BREACH, Lily turned vulnerability, insecurity, and misery into a blissful and blessed experience. Whatever the young artist does, it is magical, and she weaves another spell on “Lights Light Up”.

With the dreamy and jangly notes that emanate from Lily’s finger-plucked electric guitar and the lithe pattering of the drums, xylophone, and bass, the track’s spring-like tone sounds like the happiest of daydreams. It is, as such, both breathtaking and smile-inducing. But as is the case with most of Lily’s songs, a brittleness exists in her words. She recounts falling in love and never wanting to leave her partner’s side, but they eventually separate. The love they shared, however, never dissipated, even to the moment Lily’s former love took her last breath. 

“I guess we never really had that much in common
‘Cept the days the nights and the cold
And though we don’t really talk about it often
The fear of this getting old

You didn’t listen when I told you I’m no dancer
Now I dance alone all the time
In the same room where I learned about the cancer
And you just held your head to mine”

“Lights Light Up” is taken from Lily’s forthcoming, third album, Big Picture. It is out April 14th on Dead Oceans. Pre-orders available at these links and on Bandcamp. It should be magical.

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The Nude Party – “Ride On” (Boone, NC, USA)

RIYL: if you like twangy trippiness (or is it trippy twanginess?)

Music-made-for-road-trips is what The Nude Party create. Their twangy, surfy, southern-rock is meant to be heard as we traverse across the great expanses of the world, providing the soundtrack to memories that are about to be made. For Patton Magee (vocals, guitar), Shaun Couture (guitar, vocals), Alec Castillo (bass, vocals), Don Merrill (piano, vocals), Austin Brose (percussion, vocals), and Connor Mikita (drums), they use their songs to chronicle their own as well as other people’s experiences, some of which were made while on the road or about the everyday people they meet. Now grab your passport because the outfit take us to Mexico on “Ride On”.

No, this tune doesn’t sound like a mariachi band performing. However, like much of the music that comes from Mexico, this track will put you in a stupendous mood and hopefully celebrate what you have. It is summery southern-rock that will, at the very least, induce toe-tapping if not outright dancing. As the drums and bass bounce and the guitars groove, Magee describes the people they met across the border, including Alfredo, who “rides bulls in the rodeo” and Juanita, who is a 95-year old grocery store greeter and loves her job. These interactions make him realize how fortunate he is and to live life to the fullest. To never settle down but instead just continue to ride on for as long as he can.

How long and far The Nude Party’s ride will be shall be unveiled March 10th. At that time, their new album, Rides On, will be released via New West Records. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available here.

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Ron Gallo – “At Least I’m Dancing” (Nashville, USA)

RIYL: Witty, batty, and off-the-wall disco-punk  / dance-rock

Last year, one of indie’s great guys, Ron Gallo, released three awesome singles in “Entitled Man”, “Anything But This”, and “Foreground Music”. They were trademark Gallo: highly energetic and entertaining with immensely insightful lyrics. As such, they heightened our anticipation for his forthcoming new album, Foreground Music. With its release less than two months away, Gallo further whets our appetite for March 4th to arrive with “At Least I’m Dancing”.

For all the off-the-wall songs Gallo has released in his decade-long career, this might be his battiest track. Imagine Ty Segall during his Melted days or King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard on a long, straightaway, and that’s what Gallo has created. The single is a mix of disco-punk, dance-rock, neo-psychedelia, and garage-rock, and we’re left jerking in numerous directions and stopping and starting unexpectedly. It’s like we’re learning to walk all over again – or dance in this case. Gallo similarly asks the question of “how can we all come together” if we cannot agree to what song is being played. His words are an analogy to the state of the world, where people are speaking across one another and not listening. As such, we cannot and are unable to move to the same rhythm.

Again, Foreground Music is out March 4th via Kill Rock Stars. Pre-order it here or on Bandcamp

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Heartworms – “Retributions of an Awful Life” (London, England)

RIYL: Gothic rave with an Edgar Allan Poe-like story

Back in November 2020, musician and poet Jojo Orme left us frozen with her project Heartworms‘ debut single, “What Can I Do”. Sure, plenty of artists are capable of creating spine-tingling, goosebump-raising, Gothic darkwave and coldwave, but few match it with songwriting that has the same effect. In that time, the London-based Orme repeatedly has proven to be a mix of PJ Harvey, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, Depeche Mode, Alfred Hitchcock, and Chelsea Wolfe. “Consistent Dedication”, for example, revealed her harrowing brilliance, which is taken to starker and more propulsive levels on “Retributions of an Awful Life”.

This song is made for raves held in the world’s most cavernous places, where light can neither enter nor escape. Accelerated beats and rhythms pound in the foreground while a guitar chimes in the distant. And this is just the start. After 80 seconds have passed, Orme’s sinister vocal emerges, and she sounds like vengeance. She and those like her, as depicted in the awesome video, are returning to reclaim what was taken from them – their lives. They have returned to make the capitalists, bankers, and property developers feel the same pain and suffering they experienced when their homes and possessions were taken from them. They’ve come back to suck their lives dry. And it’s sensational.

Heartworms’ debut EP, A Comforting Notion, is out March 23rd on Speedy Wunderground. Pre-orders available here. It’s going to be great. 

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Mandy, Indiana – “Injury Detail” (Manchester, England)

RIYL: a steel, alt-electronic mind-warp 

Further into the dark abyss we go, but we do so without fear. Instead, we uncontrollably dance as we descend into the darkness, guided by the steely, electronic brilliance of Mandy, Indiana and their newest single.

The band formerly known as Gary, Indiana (which is an actual city) are no strangers to the dungeons that occupy the underground, having unleashed a mesmerizing, industrial-charged single in “Alien 3” and the pounding and blaring “Bottle Episode”.  Valentine Caulfield (vocals), Scott Fair (guitar/production), Simon Catling (synth), and Alex Macdougall (drums) turn up the intensity and darkness even further on “Injury Detail”.

Hypnotic rhythmic pulses echo throughout the track while a splintering guitar occasionally strikes and searing electronics slice across everything. Caulfield’s distant vocal, meanwhile, hovers above the dense soundscape, uttering a few, sparse words in French. While the content is minimal, her lyrics are poignant, as she describes how life has become a game. The question, however, is who or what are operating the controllers and determining our decisions and actions. As she brilliantly says:

“Rien n’est vrai
Tout est permis
Achevez votre adversaire”

Or translated:

“Nothing is true
All is permitted
Buy your enemy”

In these places, however, there is only one price – your life. And we give ours freely to one of Manchester’s great bands.

This fantastic single is out on Fire Talk Records. Here’s hoping a record is coming. 

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The C.I.A. – “Bubble” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: a sinister tale made for Halloween or Friday the 13th

As a solo artist and his various bands, Ty Segall has nearly done everything imaginable within the rock spectrum. Well, apparently, that is not the case because his partner Denée and drummer Emmett Kelly enter a place that Segall had yet to mine. As The C.I.A., the trio enter stark yet cinematic territory – not just musically but also lyrically. “Impersonator”, for instance, was a mesmerizing, pulsating number with a tale that would make John Carpenter pause. The band get even more sinister and eerie on their newest number, “Bubble”.

The interplay between Kelly and Ty Segall is awesome, as the latter pensively strikes his drum kit while the latter’s guitar grinds in reverb. A mechanical, methodical, but grimy tone sets in, and it provides the canvas for Denée to show her Clive Barker chops. Coolly and calmly, she describes how a soul survives with the madness within and around her. She is a monster living in a monstrous world, who must feed on others to stay alive. 

“She needed someone to see
To look at her and to vie
She puts her fist in her mouth
Tells you she’s losing her mind

Started playing the part
And now she’s entwined
But she can never get enough
She needs to feed to survive”

The C.I.A., again, are Denée Segall (vocal), Ty Segall (guitar, bass, percussion, backing vocal), and Emmett Kelly (bass, synth, backing vocal). Their new album, Surgery Channel, is out January 20th, 2023 via In The Red Records. Pre-orders are available here and on Bandcamp.

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Jennifer Touch – “Sacred Type” (Berlin, Germany)

RIYL: to get lost within danceable, ’80s coldwave

There’s an ongoing ’80s revival at the moment. However, few hit what made the most enduring and intriguing sounds of that decade in a way that’s both authentic and expansive. Jennifer Touch‘s music avoids those pitfalls as she creates stirring, Gothic-synth music. Much of what makes Touch’s music stand out is her use of vintage synths while her voice and lyricism are immersive and hypnotic. Whether it’s her early work or the latest singles from her upcoming LP, Midnight Proposals, it’s so easy to get lost in the universe that the German is creating with her music.

On her latest single from the album, “Sacred Type”, Touch eases listeners in with some bright synth over drum machine. Her deep voice is perfectly layered with reverb, adding another vintage element. Touch’s voice eventually becomes entangled with itself, syncing back into a powerful, haunting moment. It’s a perfect encapsulation of what Touch is trying to convey with her lyrics, telling the story of falling for what she describes as “dangerous jerks”. Distortion, the internal debate, and the eventual realization and clarity, and the realization she’ll “keep burning under water.”

Jennifer Touch’s new album, Midnight Proposals, is out February 17th on FatCat Records. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.

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Bonny Doon – “Crooked Creek” (Detroit, USA)

RIYL: Laid-back country-folk-rock with some life lessons

In September, Bonny Doon shared a new single, “San Francisco”, and announced they had signed with ANTI Records. It was their first single since their 2018 album, LongwaveBut the trio of Bill Lennox, Bobby Colombo, and Jake Kmiecik were not silent during that gap. They also were the backing band for Katie Crutchfield on the 2020 Waxahatchee release Saint Cloud. Their contributions to that LP, as well as their previous records prove one thing: that Bonny Doon create some stellar country-tinged folk-rock music.

This week, Bonny Doon released “Crooked Creek”, and it’s everything that makes the trio great. The track starts with some great vibes with its bass and drums in perfect sync and a guitar lead residing just under everything. What ties it all together is the playful piano chords that make the song immensely inviting. Lennox’s voice has a laid-back quality to it, and it’s perfect for the story Bonny Doon are trying to tell with the track. One that takes some religious imagery, dives into the strange and surreal, but still carries an important message.

“I took a ride on a raindrop and what do ya know
I came across sadness sitting alone
I said what’s the matter sadness, why are you so sad?
Sadness replied, that’s just how I am

And there was laughter after the carousel
Completing the circle, far as i could tell
And you can see where you’re going without doing the math,
If you’re stepping in shit, you’re probably on the path”

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Sad Girls Aquatics Club – “Beyond the Blue” & “Who’s Your Witness” (Pittsburgh, USA)

RIYL: a young band with Warpaint-like potential and variation

Marie Mashyna and Chelsea Rumbaugh have been making music together since they were in college. As Sad Girls Aquatics Club, the duo released a fascinating and immersive record in 2018 with Vodkawine. The tracks ranged from bedroom-pop to otherworldly electronics and everything in-between. It was a dynamic LP that truly showcased a band that had no limits on creativity and had no intention on ever imposing them on themselves. At the end of last year, they released the dreamy “Plastic & Pearl”, which was another change-up.

Last week, Sad Girls Aquatics Club unveiled a pair of singles, “Beyond the Blue” and “Who’s Your Witness”. The former is an infectious dance track. Full of some great synth and a drum machine, it’s a fun listen in many ways. A great little layer of electric guitar adds such a nice touch. Before the track comes to an end, it all takes off in a space-aged dreamscape that reveals the song’s true meaning, repeatedly asking “Will we ever make it out alive?” with some lush harmonies.

The latter single features a completely different sound. Fuzzy guitar distortion, heavy driving drums, and piercing chiptune-like synth take things to some wild places, reminiscent of ’90s grunge-pop and then some. There’s even a guitar solo to tie it all together. An aggression and a frustration, however, linger in the music as well as the lyrics. It all comes to a head at the end of the song with some screaming being drowned out by some huge harmonies. 

With a pair of singles as good as these two, be sure to keep an eye out for Sad Girls Aquatics Club’s upcoming record, Easier.

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