The artists and bands on the second half of our doubleheader – The Matinee ’23 v. 008 – had us gobsmacked with the announcement that they are all releasing new records in the next three months. A supergroup kicks things off, but do not sleep on the final artist, who is an alt-pop star in the making.
boygenius – “$20”, “Emily I’m Sorry”, & “True Blue” (Los Angeles, Memphis & Richmond, USA)
RIYL: indie supergroups with a trio of songwriter heavyweights
Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus are three artists we’ve seen grow into absolute superstars since we’ve first started covering each of them. It was an absolute joy listening to the three collaborate on the first boygenius EP. Since then, it feels like much has changed for each songwriter. Bridgers is a borderline pop icon since releasing Punisher. Baker’s sound has grown to be even more dynamic. Dacus, meanwhile, has easily solidified herself as one of the great wordsmiths in recent memory. It was easy to think that the initial EP would be all we hear from these three, but we’re so excited to say, we were wrong. The trio return with The Record, a full-length record, and shared three tracks with the announcement.
The first of the 3 singles is the Baker-led indie-rocker “$20”. A great guitar hook keeps things interesting, as well as a little hint of synth chiming in. It’s a perfect mash of styles between Baker and Dacus, with the two harmonizing through the song’s choruses. The rocking early moments give way to a stunning, floaty middle part before it all explodes with Bridgers letting loose and screaming. A hell of a first impression.
The next track is the Bridgers-led “Emily I’m Sorry”. Its early moments feel like they could fit nicely on Punisher. But as the song grows, it becomes obvious the track is perfect for the boygenius trio. Electronic drums underscore everything, adding even more to the track’s atmosphere.
Dacus takes her turn at center with the third single, “True Blue”. The track features what makes all three of these artists so special. Dacus’ lyrical wit and honesty is unparalleled, and there are so many layers to get lost in – from the guitar, to the harmonies, to even its drumming. It’s absolutely dreamy.
From just these three tracks, we have an early favorite for one of the best records of the year. All three songwriters bring what makes them so special individually to each track, and they meld together in a way that few supergroups ever achieve. It’s something that was present throughout their debut, and so far it holds true on The Record.
Caroline Rose – “Miami” (Burlington, VT and New York City, USA)
RIYL: powerful lyricism paired with an equally moving rock track
It’s almost impossible to fit Caroline Rose into any type of genre. Her last record, Superstar, was a concept album that mixed pop, funk, R&B, electro-pop and rock into a cohesive, outrageously fun ride. In a move that was both surprising and unsurprising, Rose went in yet another musical direction last October with the gorgeous “Love / Lover / Friend”. Gone was the poppier, electric sound and in was a flamenco-style guitar and a chilling, Philip Glass-like build to close out the track.
She’s followed it up with yet another expansion on her sound, “Miami”. The song starts out with a wobbly guitar track, slowly fading in and coming into clear focus. Then, Rose paints quite a vivid picture of a relationship in its waning moments. Those acoustic early moments erupt with electric guitar and some heavy drumming, as Rose navigates through emotions of heartbreak. It all kicks up even more as the tune reaches its conclusion, before closing with Rose repeatedly yelling, “You’ve gotta get through this life somehow!” Incredible.
“Miami” will be on Rose’s upcoming record, The Art Of Forgetting which is out March 24 on New West Records.
Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys – “Burning Building” (Berlin, Germany via Johannesburg & Cape Town, South Africa)
RIYL: rah-rah Gothic-pop
Just when you thought Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys would take a break after releasing a fantastic trilogy in three years – 2020’s Sleeping Tapes For Some Girls, 2021’s Transit Tapes (For Women Who Move Furniture Around) , and last year’s Teen Tapes (For Performing Your Own Stunts), which was one of our Favorite Albums of the Year – they refuse to be idle. Not only that, they have chosen to start a whole new chapter. Those who have followed the band over the years have known them to create stark, pensive, and sobering music. Their music literally crawled under your skin.
In December, however, Kruger and her mates hinted that they were about to turn the page on their foreboding approach with the mysterious and seductive “Stereoscope”. No one, though, could have expected them to amp up the tempo and create a song that could best be described as rah-rah or cheerleader Gothic-pop.
“Hey girl! Let’s go!”, Kruger and friends shout at the start, which is more like The Go! Team than Emma Ruth Rundle. The track, however, doesn’t stay in this upbeat realm for long, as it constantly moves between light and darkness. Kruger’s and band mate Jean-Louise Parker voice, too, shifts from gleeful poppiness to cynical anger. They sing about the material world, and how many chase fame. To achieve it, one often must lose their authenticity and accept to be molded in the image of others. When the song slows, Kruger’s brittle words are bitingly awesome as is the delightful broodiness of the track.
“I’m catwalking out of a burning building
Perhaps if I could frame it
If I could find a way to stage it
I’d make a euro or two
Perhaps I’d put this name to use
It’s the truth
It’s the truth
To give into the game
Oh the fantasy of fame
While I mock the magazine
Those tender glossy
In addition to Kruger (vocals, guitar), the band includes Liú Mottes (guitar), André Leo (guitar), Andreas Miranda (bass), Gidon Carmel, (drums, percussion and electronic production), and Jean-Louise Parker (backing vocals, viola, violin). The band’s new album, Heaving, is due out this spring via Unique Records and Polish Schubert Music Europe.
Algiers – “I Can’t Stand It!” (featuring Samuel T. Herring & Jae Matthews) (Atlanta, USA)
RIYL: a powerful, soulful track that snarls
We’ve long stated that Algiers are one of the most important bands to come around in the past dozen years. While many groups chase the one big hit that lands them a major-record deal, Franklin James Fisher (vocals, guitar), Ryan Mahan (bass), Lee Tesche (guitar), and Matt Tong (drums) opt to use their platform for political and social reasons. From Fisher’s powerful and insightful songwriting to the band’s trembling and often propulsive music, they make a statement every time they get in the studio or step on stage. Their presence once again can be felt on “I Can’t Stand It!”
On their newest track, the quartet are not alone, as Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands and Jae Matthews of Boy Harsher join them. The two guest performers are great complements to Fisher’s soaring, soulful vocal: Herring’s booming tenor matches Fisher’s emotion while Matthews’ softer yet chilling delivery adds a sinister tone. The three sing through the dark, blistering atmosphere, which combines elements of post-punk, art-rock, and Goth-rock. While the song does not explode like their previous numbers, it still packs a punch, as Algiers and friends sing about betrayal, division, and loss.
“Outside the kingdoms are falling
All because the serpents are calling
Everything we know is eroding
Everywhere we go is closing”
Algiers’ new double-album, Shook, will be released February 23rd, 2023 via Matador Records. In addition to Herring and Matthews, it includes guest appearances from Zach de la Rocha, Backxwash, LaToya Kent, and a host of others. With this guest list, you know this LP is going to be powerful. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available here and directly on Bandcamp.
Screaming Females – “Brass Bell” (New Brunswick, NJ USA)
RIYL: one of the great rock bands take a proggy turn
Over the years, Screaming Females have evolved far beyond their early punk roots. They’ve still got that cred, and lead singer/guitarist Marissa Paternoster remains one of the greatest guitarists walking this planet. Paternoster, King Mike (bass), and Jarret Dougherty, however, have added elements of R&B and have even been known to cover some pop tracks over the years. Each release has been distinctively Screamales with Paternoster’s unmistakable voice and guitar tone leading the charge each time out. What makes them so enduring is how that pairing that was so entwined with their early punk roots are now able to go much further. It’s something undeniable on their most recent single, “Brass Bell”.
“Brass Bell” starts out weird, and weird is what we expect from Screaming Females. It’s an electronic weirdness that eventually breaks for a killer riff from Paternoster and some huge drumming from Dougherty. It all comes to a head with some more great guitar leads from Paternoster, whose voice booms over some heavy guitar chords that echo some great alt-metal from the mid 2000s. As the single rolls on, it takes a much more complex direction. The bass line gets a little dark, and Paternoster then takes things into prog territory. The whole thing comes to close with a scream and a fantastic solo and one lass refrain of the chorus.
Alberta Cross – “Glow In The Dark” (London, England via Sweden)
RIYL: a trip through dark, sonic wastelands
When Petter Ericson Stakee released “Mercy” at the end of 2022, we crossed our fingers in the hope that a new album was coming this year. This wish came true on Wednesday when Stakee announced that Alberta Cross‘ sixth album, Sinking Ships, would be released March 31st. In which direction the Swedish-born singer-songwriter would head was the next question given the many paths he’s already traveled. On “Glow In The Dark”, he dives into the Sea of Lost Souls and delivers one of his finest songs.
The track is part fable and part grand cinema. Rumbling in the distant is a fantastic, trembling rhythm section that creates a brooding and almost uneasy tone. A searing guitar occasionally slices through along with some Dessner-like keys, adding more to this mystery. “I am an island which is why I can’t get lost at sea,” Stakee sings, assuming the role of a voyageur with no home. He is on an adventure to escape his demons, but they follow him wherever he goes. “Your father said this, ‘You must destroy what is destroying you,'” he later adds, knowing that one day he will have to return. That for him to be freed, he would need to face his greatest fear.
Rose Gray – “Sun Comes Up” (London, England)
RIYL: an alt-pop singer-songwriter with superstar potential
It’s so easy to see the appeal of Rose Gray‘s Synchronicity EP that came out last year – immensely danceable, infectious, and emotional. She’s following that EP up with Higher Than The Sun, and has already shared some tracks from it. There’s the floaty “Promise Me”, and the dark dancer “Prettier Than You”. At times, Gray channels Madonna, and other moments her music is reminiscent of more contemporary artists like Magdalena Bay. The most recent single from Gray’s upcoming record is what she describes as her “sad anthem”, “Sun Comes Up”.
The song booms with a Moby-like production with plenty of vocal samples triggered throughout. Some bright piano chimes underneath a fantastic bass groove and Gray’s infectious vocal delivery. There’s a break with some fantastic synth strings that gives way towards the track’s powerful ending. The choruses are delightful and addictive, giving listeners so much to keep going back between the catchy lyrics and all the sounds hidden in plain sight. On “Sun Comes Up”, Rose Gray makes it so easy to dance away those blues.
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