The Matinee ’23 v. 010 is a melancholy lover’s delight, featuring nine songs that slow the tempo yet deliver memorable, often sublime and gasping, experiences. Despite their slower pace, the songs are all quite different.
Heather Woods Broderick – “Crashing Against the Sun” (Portland, USA)
RIYL: Land of Talk, Daughter, Vancouver Sleep Clinic
When Heather Woods Broderick released “Blood Run Through Me” at the end of the year, we had a feeling that an album was coming. We didn’t have any inside information; we just trusted our gut. Plus, Broderick isn’t the type to release one single, as she tends to fully invest herself in producing a record full of songs. Sure enough, Labyrinth will rise in the spring, and its second single has us eagerly awaiting for the next 10 weeks to fly by.
Take one massively deep breath and then hit play to “Crashing Against The Sun”. Broderick’s newest single is beyond breathtaking. A light synth pulses behind Broderick’s feathery vocal, and the simplicity is stunning. Through this gentle soundscape, she reveals how she tries to deal with the different realities before her. “There is a fleeting nature in definites / You always get diluted in time,” she sings. Gracefully, the song moves and then turns epic, as the percussion and synths intensify and a guitar sears in the background. Broderick’s voice, though, remains lush and embracing, and she further reveals her mind. “Beauty as a life line / Is this the sort of thing inspires?”, she poignantly asks. The question likely has no answer because this world is constantly changing, just like Woods has throughout her career.
Blondshell – “Joiner” (Los Angeles via New York City, USA)
RIYL: Faye Webster, Alex Lahey, Snail Mail
When Sabrina Teitelbaum first emerged on the music scene as Baum in 2017, she was treading through the crowded pop and alt-pop scene. While she made some headway while living in New York, she took an unannounced hiatus. During this time, she relocated to LA and in mid-2022 re-introduced herself as Blondshell. Her moniker was not the only thing that changed, as she entered the world of indie rock and the folk-rock occupied by the likes of Phoebe Bridgers and Julia Jacklin. Four tremendous songs were released in quick succession – “Olympus”, “Kiss City”, “Sepsis”, and “Veronica Mars” – and each showcased an artist fully confident and comfortable in her new confines. Following the release of “Mars”, we openly asked if Teitelbaum’s debut album was coming. The answer came yesterday.
Teitelbaum’s self-titled debut will arrive Easter weekend, and the newest single, “Joiner”, only raises expectations that one of 2023’s Most Anticipated Albums will be among the year’s best. At first, the tune seems like a walk in the park with the melodic pop-rock approach highlighted by a terrific rhythm section. Listen closely, however, there is urgency in her voice while her lyrics are biting, a bit humorous, and all too real. She sings about how one person is about to hit rock bottom, some of which are self-inflicted.
“You’ve been riding around on handlebars
Buying drugs from guys in cars
Asking, ‘Can I be someone else?'”
While she watches this one-person car crash, she refuses to be a bystander. “I think I want to save you / I think I want to join in,” she emphatically shares, realizing that no person should have to suffer alone. To be able to tell such a powerful message with a bit of humor is the mark of a future star.
Blondshell will be released April 7th on Partisan Records. Pre-orders are available on Bandcamp and at these links.
Pearla – “Unglow The” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Lady Lamb, Babehoven, Mothers
From July to November of 2022, Nicole Rodriguez shared five incredible singles. “About Hunger, About Love”, “Effort”, “Ming the Clam”, “The Place with No Weather”, and “With” were incredibly stunning indie-folk numbers that left us in a state of awe. They were like mini-epics. As such, they left us eagerly awaiting the arrival of Pearla‘s debut album, Oh Glistening Onion, The Nighttime Is Coming, which originally was to be released at the end of last year but has since been moved to February. Instead of idling away the days, Rodriguez has shared one final tune that is both a surprise and something familiar.
“Unglow The” is reminiscent of Rodriguez’s early singer-songwriter days. It commences with a light, springtime, indie-folk melody that would be perfect for listening to around the campfire. Her light voice tantalizes like the embers flickering from the flames while her words entrance. She sings about a dance with death, where every situation, including the most innocuous event, can have us facing our finality. For Rodriguez, however, she sings about rattlesnakes and spaceships being the end of her days. It’s a bit satirical, even to the New Yorker who admits that “I try not to think about what doesn’t make sense to me.” Just as we become lulled in the classic folk tones, Rodriguez surprises, as the song eventually turns into an epic. Its finale is mind-blowingly stupendous.
Blue Lupin – “Television” (London, England)
RIYL: Gordi, Womb, Bon Iver
Three weeks into the year, and we may have found our Favorite Hidden Gem of the year. Yes, it’s still very early to make such proclamations, but once you hear “Television” by Blue Lupin, you, too, will be scrambling to learn more about the young English artist. What you need to know, though, is outlined below.
Only four months ago, Joanna Wolfe officially commenced her musical career, adopting the name of the colorful, resilient plant that is able to blossom in all sorts of environments. The London-based singer-songwriter, too, displays these same traits – a gorgeous voice; a musical style that spans folktronica, dream-pop, and dreamgaze; and perseverance to make her project succeed. Her first two singles – “Soak” and “Surface of the Sun” – were dazzling. However, her third song is not just a thing of beauty, but it’s one of the best songs we’ve heard so far.
“Television” is breathtaking. It is as gorgeous as anything that Gordi or Bon Iver have created, as Wolfe adds a dash of the heavenly dream-pop that bands like Womb and Azure Ray have mastered. From the very first second to the 247th, we are under Wolfe’s spell, assuming the role of the character she sings about. It all feels like we are “staring watching television / Losing my religion” within Blue Lupin’s musical denomination. This song, however, is more than just a gorgeous track. Wolfe, with the support of Benjamin Amos of Nel Unlit (who has a Justin Vernon-like delivery), comes to the realization that she needs to move on, as this “perfect relationship” is not working. No matter how much she wishes it could be as strong and resilient as what is depicted on television, she would be lying to herself in thinking the situation will improve.
Wolfe’s future, however, is immensely bright, and it just might have a Hollywood ending. It could happen this spring when her debut EP is expected.
Chris Garneau – “Overexposure” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Perfume Genius, Cigarettes After Sex, Beacon
Chris Garneau‘s 17-year career has consisted of many phases, where he’s never settled within a specific genre for very long. No matter the approach, he masters it. Currently, he is traversing more melancholic yet cinematic waters, where every detail, every note, and every spoken word is given the utmost attention. Consequently, everything heard on “Overexposure” not only touches more deeply within listeners’ souls but also lingers for days.
A sparse, hymnal quality floats through the entire track. Garneau’s emotive and stirring voice fills the air, and it stands on the keys that support him. Through this immensely intimate space, he elegantly pours his heart and soul. He shares how he misses the presence of another, regretting the events that led to their separation. At the same time, he understands that for all his yearning, he cannot change the past. Garneau, as such, is permanently “lost at sea”, but he’s accompanied by his ex-partner’s ghost.
“You feel like a bruise
Tender and aching blue
To regret and press down
Reset the pain and pound
Over and over
In case it ever seemed sound
I couldn’t correct that now
I wanna go back to that feeling
Oh you know I miss the real thing
I wanna go back to believing
God you know I miss the real thing”
Ailbhe Reddy – “Last to Leave” (London, England via Dublin, Ireland)
RIYL: Pillow Queens, Flock of Dimes, Julia Jacklin
Our six-year fandom of Ailbhe Reddy‘s music is due to her ability to create raw, emotional tunes. At times, she can completely rip hearts out with a blistering rocker a la Lucy Dacus or TORRES. Other moments, she can slow the tempo down and still peel faces off with her poignant songwriting. Take “Shitshow”, for instance, which was a vibrant rocker but beneath its sonic coolness laid a tale of loneliness once the music comes to end. She continues to delve into these subjects on “Last to Leave”.
A graceful and warm melody welcomes us along with Reddy’s reflective voice. Her first words perfectly set the scene, which is the aftermath of the party. But what kind of party? The word could be interpreted in many ways – an actual gathering of friends and strangers, an affair with a few people, or maybe life itself.
“God, you’re on form tonight
Finish your pint
Make a meal of it
You act so pretentious
They can’t wait for you to finish
Right now, you love this
But tomorrow, you’ll feel foolish
Embarrassed and hopeless
Tell everyone you didn’t mean it”
The track’s second half is full of desperation. The melody gradually intensifies as the percussion accelerates and Reddy repeating, “Have another one”, which is an indication of how we tend to drown our sorrows in drink. Maybe that’s all we can do nowadays in these unusual times – or maybe we can drown our sorrows in songs as great as “Last to Leave”.
Malady – “Pressure Builds” (London, England)
RIYL: Bloc Party, Childcare, Kele
It’s easy to think Malady are a band with decades of experience under their belts. Their sound brilliantly echoes so many great late-’90s and early-’00s sounds, from artists like Bloc Party, The Editors, Kasabian, and so many others. What’s shocking is that Malady are just starting out and are only a handful of tracks into their career. Whether it’s the nod to LCD Soundsystem on “London, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down”, the electrifying “Famous Last Words” or the captivating yet raucous blend on “Round The Bend”, Percy Junior Cobbinah (vocals, guitar), Charlie Clark (guitar, synth), Ertan Cimen (drums), and Khaleem Mitchell-Patterson (bass) always deliver.
Malady’s latest single is yet another mindblower. “Pressure Builds” starts with a deep synth and Cobbinah’s voice. Guitar joins in and adds a fantastic layer to the track, chiming over the building chaos of the track underneath. The electronic drums are untamed at times, then finding themselves under precise control moments later. It’s a delicate dance that adds so much to the track, and it’s reflected in how the track starts and stops without notice. The start and stop nature of the track is present in the lyrics as well, painting a picture of frustration and failure. It’s a hell of a ride for a track that clocks in at just a hair under 3 minutes.
Their debut EP, All Pressure, No Diamonds, will be released February 10th.
PACKS – “4th of July” (Toronto via Ottawa, Canada)
RIYL: Nirvana, Hole, Liz Phair
Like other songs on this list, when Madeline Link and her project PACKS shared “Abalone” at the end year, we had a sense that the young artist had a new album. Sure enough, PACKS announced their new record, Crispy Crunchy Nothing, and releasing a new track that has Link’s sharp wit front and center.
PACKS absolutely delivers on “4th of July”. It feels like the project’s best tune o date. Acoustic guitar paired with Link’s voice defines the track’s early moments. Eventually some great, crunchy guitar leads come in as a the bass goes to some great places as well. Sometimes when a band refines their sound, it can lose some of the original appeal of the artist, but that is not the case at all with “4th of July”. Link’s voice is still presented in exactly in a way that gives her music so much personality, just with a more cohesive combination underneath. Lyrically, Link is as honest as ever, admitting sometimes she just simply has no idea what’s happening in this messed-up world:
“Eagles fly, catch themselves some dinner
Rivers dry and look so skinny
The mud is getting thicker and it’s sticky like wet cement
You write your name in
And I can’t deny
I have no idea what’s happening right now
No fucking clue hwat’s going on right now
I don’t know, I don’t know
Keep it to myself”
Devon Church – “Ephemera” (Brooklyn, USA via Winnipeg, Canada)
RIYL: Tom Waits, Kevin Morby, Marlon Williams
In 2018, Devon Church’s We Are Inextricable was one of our Favorite Albums of the Year. The former Exitmusic co-founder displayed an incomparable ability to turn melancholy into a rapturous event. It was incredibly beautiful but vulnerable art. More than four years have passed since the LP’s release, but an artist who creates intricate and pensive music cannot be rushed. Patience usually leads to something grand and memorable, which the Canadian-born Church delivers with “Ephemera”.
Church returns to the melancholic landscapes heard on Inextricable but with a slight difference. Whereas his debut album levitated in the skies, “Ephemera” is very much anchored in the dusty plains of America’s west. The hum of an electric organ, the melodic pacing of the guitar, and the light, rhythmic touches paint the image of a lonely wanderer traveling across expansive prairies while dusk settles over the Rockies. Church calmly assumes this figure’s identity, and his mind is fixated on the people he’s met. Although their interactions were brief, they left an enduring mark.
“I couldn’t see you
but you held me like the light
Held the dark
Terror on the verge of joy
First we’re here and then we’re gone
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