Ten songs occupy The Matinee ’23 v. 011, featuring plenty of familiar names and newcomers whose names you might wish to jot down. Each of the songs is stunning in their own way while tackling the struggles people face everyday.

As usual, these singles are included on the Songs of January & February 2023 playlist. Find it Spotify or SoundCloud


HÆLOS – “Last Days” (London, England)

RIYL: Portishead, London Grammar, Four Tet

It’s not just the spellbinding trip-hop that has made HÆLOS one of our favorite bands of the past decade. They also are a socially-conscious outfit that understands their platform can incite change, often targeting the individual as the instrument that can do just this. On “You”, for instance, Lotti Benardout, Dom Goldsmith, and Daniel Vildosola sought to break down the walls that divide people. Now with “Last Days”, they encourage people to overcome the fear and noise of the world that causes us to hide.

The trio’s trademark, brittle patience is on full display – tempered percussion, a lingering guitar that occasionally emerges, and beats and electronics that gently pulse in the background. Subtly, the track builds, growing in intensity and mystery. One element, however, is full of emotion, and that is Benardout’s sensational voice. Like a great storyteller, she first sets the scene, describing a world of “hate and greed.” This world seems a bit dystopian, but it is our reality. She tells us to not give into this fear but to confront it. To overcome it. 

“City scratched into your face,
choking civilised and violent.
Watch your love turn into hate
and every day a little less of what you value.

Don’t fear, just let go, Don’t fear what’s gone,
Free conscious echo, Don’t fear what’s gone.”

The trio’s new album, Where We Bring Our Burdens, is coming soon. We cannot wait.

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Olivesque – “Alice” (Manchester, England)

RIYL: Fenne Lily, Blonde Maze, Billie Marten

It’s time to get the pens out and write Olivesque as either a great discovery or an artist to watch. For a few years, the Manchester-based artist has quietly worked at her craft, sharing a handful of demos over the years. Last week, however, she released her debut single, which certainly will have indieheads think of Fenne Lily, Billie Marten, and maybe even Hope Sandoval.

“Alice” is a terrific introduction to Olivesque. A lingering, gauzy guitar gently strums alongside a delicate rhythm section, and the feeling of a descending night emerges. These are the times where we remember that one person who helped us and now requires our assistance. That person is Alice for Olive, whose stunning yet vulnerable voice penetrates deep into our souls. As we sway within the gorgeous dream-pop, we listen to her say to Alice:

“I’d walk to heaven to meet if you’d only just let me
But your mind’s been caught up on things that you said don’t concern me
So Alice, tell all your friends that there won’t be a next time
Alice, it pains me to say but it’s true”

Olivesque is an artist to watch indeed.

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Fever Ray – “Kandy” (Gothenberg, Sweden)

RIYL: The Knife, Austra, iamamiwhoami

Karin Dreijer has never been one to settle for the predictable. As Fever Ray, they may be more known for their rousing electronica, like the sensational “Carbon Dioxide” that was released just before the holidays. But as they showed with “What They Call Us”, Dreijer displayed the ability to provoke, stun, and leave people gasping for air. So where will they head on their next single? How about somewhere in-between?

With the support of their brother and Knife bandmate, Olof Dreijer, Fever Ray’s has created a sensual, exotic, and hypnotic number with “Kandy”. East Asian and Middle Eastern textures swell between the throbbing beats and alluring synths, and they heighten the song’s seductive powers. The tune, as such, is meant for slow dancing – or more like slowly swaying as if under a trance. Their words, too, are seductive, mysterious, and magnetic:

“Be still and patient
A new sounding instrument
We deserve rest
Lovelier than diamonds

She laid me down and whispered
All girls want Kandy
Can you bring me back, ah
All girls want Kandy
After the swim she laid me down and whispered
All girls want Kandy
Can you bring me back, ah
All girls want Kandy”

Fever Ray’s new album, Radical Romantics, is out March 10th on Rabid Records. Get it on Bandcamp or save it at these links

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Adam Spry – “Rotten Mausoleum” (San Francisco, USA)

RIYL: Fruit Bats, King Tuff, Bonny Doon

Where have you heard this before – a fantastic singer-songwriter who long has been overlooked yet still pursues the craft of their dreams? Adam Spry is not the first nor will he be the last artist to fly under the radar. But maybe over time, others will take notice, and the San Francisco-based musician experiences a gradual rise like Father John Misty, Soccer Mommy, Lucy Dacus, and Fruit Bats. All he needs to do is continue to create provocative numbers like “Rotten Mausoleum”.

The upbeat, vibrant folk-rock approach is super catchy, winding its way from the stuttering, thumping intro to the breezy, body-swaying chorus. Up and down, side to side Spry takes listeners for 182 seconds, and occasionally we find ourselves “oohing” along with the backing vocal. As great as the melody is, the story is equally entertaining. He sings about a Roman emperor who wants no part of the massive statues and grand halls that are erected in his honor. All he desires is to be a ruler for the common people, but the aristocrats – or patricians as they were called back then – do not want their way of life interrupted. As such, they replace him, which is what Spry describes when he sings:

“Scream until you sigh
Part of you will die
Every time you crush that spider
Shaking where you stand
The powers in your hand
But baby don’t you crush that spider

Rotten Mausoleum
There’s someone in my chair”

Awesome. Here’s hoping Spry has a breakout this year – or sometime soon anyway.

The track is taken from Spry’s forthcoming, debut album, Slightly Off Kilter, which is out March 24th. Pre-orders available on Bandcamp.

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Bodywash – “Massif Central” (Montreal, Canada)

RIYL: Ringo Deathstarr, Pinkshinyultrablast, Ride

Chris Steward and Rosie Long Decter have long been favorites of ours. The duo have been creating music for eight years as Bodywash, and  they always deliver some incredible sounds with each release. Last year’s “Kind of Light” highlighted many of the things that make Bodywash a remarkable band, specifically their ability to sound like absolute giants despite their much smaller scale.

The pair’s latest single, “Massif Central”, is a dynamic and immense ride from start to finish. Finger-picked acoustic chimes over some lush synth to ease the listener in. Moments later, they’re transported into a huge fuzzy dreamscape. The acoustic guitar comes along for the ride, albeit briefly before the track kicks into a full-throttle run through its chorus. When it comes back in, the moment is calm, but there’s an underlying fuzz that burrows deep underneath, reminding listeners of the song’s explosive tendency. That happens in the final moment, where distorted voices are drowned out by the sonic eruption.

The track is a ride that echoes Steward’s experience concerning his Canadian citizenship, where uncertainty and instability disrupted his life and his frustration with the system: 

“I’ll live and die in rank and file
a life turned out of season
with one curdled smile
(maybe I’ll leave the house today
feel the rain that wets the clay)”

“Massif Central” will be on Bodywash’s new record I Held the Shape While I Could, which is due April 14, 2023 on Light Organ Records. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.

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Cathedral Bells x Rew – “Clinging to the Ground” (Orlando & Philadelphia, USA)

RIYL: DIIV, Day Wave, Blushing

There are many things that draw listeners into the music of Cathedral Bells. The Matt Messore-led project creates some immersive shoegaze-infused bedroom-pop. It’s a style that pairs perfectly with the intense sounds of Philly’s Rew, led by Andrew Fusca. Anyone who’s heard these two beforehand knows how well their styles would fit together, and, for the uninitiated, it’s immediately obvious with their new collaborative single, “Clinging to the Ground”.

“Clinging to the Ground” starts out perfectly strange with some weird sounds, a wavy guitar track, and a lo-fi drumbeat kicking things off. The reverb vocals add even more to the surrealism, and then the song kicks into gear. There’s an overwhelming density to the track’s choruses, which makes the quieter moments hit harder and feel dreamier. Those dreamy moments get pierced by roaring guitar before the vocals and fuzzier qualities find themselves entangled. Hearing both artists bounce off each other, bringing their strengths to the table in a big way, really makes “Clinging to the Ground” a stellar track. 

The single is out on Born Losers Records.

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Gabby’s World – “Sank” (New York, USA)

RIYL: Barrie, Mitski, Japanese Breakfast

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from Gabby’s World. In 2018, the Gabrielle Smith-led project released Beast on Beast, a record that easily made our Favorite Albums of 2018 list. It was the first record that Smith released under the Gabby’s World name, and, while it featured a “who’s who” of the Brooklyn scene at the time, it also felt so personal. It was truly a look into her world. Last week, Smith has announced she will be releasing her next album, GABBY SWORD, on December 1st. Yeah, you read that right, December, and the New York-based artist plans to release one song each month in 2023. 

The first single from the record is “Sank”. Where her previous album felt like a look into her world, GABBY SWORD is an even more personal record, recorded and produced by Smith and her wife, Barrie Lindsay (of Barrie). “Sank” is more electric than much of Smith’s discography, but it suits both her voice and lyrics perfectly. Through this new prism, an added intensity and weight is given to Smith’s tale of abrupt change, where we can either sink or swim in the face of opportunity or challenge. 

For the next 11 months, head to Bandcamp to follow Smith’s month adventure.

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Holiday Ghosts – “Vulture” (Brighton via Falmouth, England)

RIYL: Holy Motors, Shana Cleveland, Yo La Tengo

There’s something about the music of Samuel Stacpoole (vocals, guitar) and Katja Rackin (vocals, drums) that draws us in immediately. It could be the way Holiday Ghosts‘ music finds a way to bring some warm vibes to our strange world. In November, the duo released “B. Truck”, which solidified that sentiment. That single will appear on their upcoming record, Absolute Reality, alongside their latest number, “Vulture”.

On “Vulture”, Holiday Ghosts keep those warm sounds, but also paint a picture less positive and more about the increasingly inhospitable world that’s out there. It’s a perfect twist on their approach, opening with some palm-muted guitar and a steady bass that recall the vast expanses of the American southwest. There’s plenty of great guitar chime to be found throughout, adding a unique dynamic that blends the western style as well as some New Wave-inspired sounds, especially in the vocals. Holiday Ghosts warn of buying into a grand illusion in a way that is so fitting and wonderfully cinematic.

Absolute Reality is due out April 21st. Pre-order it here or head to Bandcamp.

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Baseball Game – “Fall in Line” (Los Angeles & Nashville, USA)

RIYL: Local Natives, The Antlers (‘Green to Gold’ era), The National

While the pandemic halted life, it did not stop Adam Carpenter and Jason Bennett from launching Baseball Game. In their three-plus years together, they’ve released everything from alt-rock rippers to acoustic ballads. Baseball Game is seriously a project, where the cross-country friends are testing the waters before they jump into the deep end. Their experimentation is about to come to an end, as their sophomore EP, Making You Up, will be released.

With “Fall in Line”, the duo have landed in waters where the music warms the soul. The track possesses the intimate dreaminess of Local Natives yet there is a touch of the drama that The National instill into each of their songs. Like those great bands, the pair focus their story on another person, who seeks redemption, stability, and direction. They tell this tale as beautifully as the feathery percussion rolls through the stellar keys and ambient electronics.

“What will you find
You keep fighting with forgiveness and the timing
It doesn’t arrive
That’s the part of you that never seems to want me

I’m just waiting until you finally fall
You’re just waiting until you finally fall”

The duo’s sophomore EP, Making You Up, is expected in March.

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Callum Pitt – “I Feel a God and Devil in This Room” (Newcastle, England)

RIYL: Haux, SYML, Sufjan Stevens

Six years ago, Callum Pitt stunned us. At the time, he introduced himself with a song that he wrote when he was 15 years old, “You’d Better Sell It While You Can”. However, the track sounded like it was written by someone ten years his senior. Now 28, Pitt is about to release his long-awaited debut album, In The Balance, and from it is a single demonstrates his massive potential.

“I Feel a God and Devil in This Room” is folk-pop turned into epic cinema. It commences with a melancholic tone, as Pitt’s stunning falsetto floats over an acoustic guitar. Slowly the song builds, growing more widescreen and leading to an incredible, breathtaking finale. As the single bursts, Pitt’s story of an individual being trapped in empty spaces and not belonging in any single place becomes clearer in our minds. It becomes clear that he’s speaking to us, describing our situation at this moment.

“Do you resent the air that you inhale and wait for better like a snake eating its tail?
We exist in spaces in between, wearing masks like Halloween
But I feel something more, something more”

In The Balance is out June 2nd. Pre-order the vinyl here

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