From love to tattoos to inconsiderate individuals to living the not-so-glamourous life, the nine songs on The Matinee ’23 v. 012 could make up the soundtrack to Kevin Smith’s next film. Or maybe it’s the soundtrack to your life story.

If not, maybe you’ll find the right tunes on the Songs of January & February 2023 playlist, which is available on Spotify or SoundCloud.


Cable Ties – “Perfect Client” (Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: Screaming Females, Wild Flag, Ex Hex

In 2020, Jenny McKechnie (vocals/guitar), Nick Brown (bass), and Shauna Boyle (drums) released Cable Ties‘ intense and roaring sophomore LP, Far Enough. A year later, they dropped a ripping live record, Live At The Scrap Museum. Both releases proved that the trio are not only one of the best bands currently calling Melbourne home, but also a can’t-miss, high-energy live act with a message that resonates. Since then, we’ve been waiting for some new music from the outfit, and the other day they unveild “Perfect Client”.

Cable Ties’ latest number starts out with a bass line that just screams punk rock. Speaking of screaming, McKechnie’s voice is explosive in a way that feels equal parts punk and ’80s heavy metal. The whole track moves at a breakneck pace with the drums annihilated at an all-out attack and the guitar is relentless. The guitar solo rips incredibly hard and ventures into some really interesting territory. McKechnie’s piercing vocal returns, expressing her frustration with the healthcare system, specifically “for someone who experiences addiction and complex mental health problems.”

Cable Ties are currently in Europe on a mini-tour (check their website for dates and ticket information). “Perfect Client” is out on  Merge Records (world) and Poison City (Australia/NZ).

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Alex Lahey – “Good Time” (Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: Courtney Barnett, Lucy Dacus, Bec Sandridge

When Alex Lahey released “Congratulations” last August, we guessed that a new album was coming. The news took longer to arrive than expected, but one of Australia’s (and the world’s) great singer-songwriters has confirmed that LP #3, The Answer Is Always Yes, is coming this spring. With this news, we say, “Hallelujah!” And everyone else may feel the same after spinning “Good Time”

The Melburnian’s newest single is a delightful party between the ears. Jumping, jittery guitar licks and hip-shaking rhythms pop from the start. Lahey’s smooth voice, meanwhile, has a bite to it, which makes a lot of sense considering she sings about wanting to break free from the 9-to-5 routine and everyone’s expectations. As the song settles into a steady, infectious groove, Lahey explains how she wishes to just live. 

“Can’t believe it’s the end when it’s starting again
Been filled up to the brim but feel so drained
Lost my sense of time, not going with the flow
Boarded up the windows, got nothing to show

Still stuck in traffic at the end of the day
They smell the roses but I wanna leave
Same song on loop but I don’t feel a thing
The new game plan is desensitizing”

Come May 19th, we’ll all feel alive again because The Answer Is Always Yes will be released that day on Liberation Records. Pre-orders are available here and on Bandcamp

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Marie Fjeldsted – “Never Lost, Never Won” (Cophenhagen, Denmark)

RIYL: Still Corners, Pure Bathing Culture, London Grammar

Readers in these parts might remember Penny Police, who for a few years had us in a spell with her blend of trip-hop and alt-pop and her sultry voice. That moniker has been retired, and Marie Fjeldsted now performs music under her own name. The magic of her music, however, has not disappeared. On the contrary, her music might be even more spellbinding than before. At the very least, it’s dreamier and more intoxicating, as demonstrated on “Never Lost, Never Won”.

Fjeldsted’s newest tune is meant to be heard at twilight, which is when an unexpected rendez-vous may occur or when two people reconnect after an entire day apart. Or do we reconnect? A soft, sultry tone emerges from the light drum beats and the slow pulses of the terrific bass line. Through them emerges a steely synth and the occasional glimmer of a guitar. Floating above it all is Fjeldsted’s stunning voice, which remains as warm and inviting as before. She lures us into this moment where darkness overwhelms the light, describing how she has longed to be with another person. Yet no matter how close they may be, they never truly touch. They never truly reconnect. 

“I’ve been waiting for the break of dawn
Waiting for too long
We could take it back and try some more
Trying not to fall

I’ve been searching wildly, the sound is on.
What am I really dreaming of?

I’ve never lost, I’ve never won”

This stunning single is out on Celebration Records. An album must surely be under development.

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The Know – “Me” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Lush, Blushing, Cocteau Twins

Our introduction to Jennifer Farmer and Daniel Knowles’ project The Know was recent, as in less than two months ago when the married couple released “Used to Be”. The song was a reminder of how great the ’90s were, as the decade gave us the genre that just won’t die – shoegaze. The duo’s approach, though, resides less in the bright intensity of My Bloody Valentine and more in the illuminating galaxy of Lush and Slowdive. They return to these same glistening waters on “Me”.

Like the best gauzy dazzlers in history, “Me” is truly breathtaking. Every second is gasping, as Knowles’ guitar illuminates the sky with its shimmering riffs while Farmer’s voice is as soft and alluring as Elizabeth Fraser. Her words, too, are tender, as she reveals her heart for all to see, particularly that one person she sees every day. In listening to the lyrics, her tale was born out of the ’90s, made for the great coming-of-age films that made us believe in love, believe in one another again.

The Know’s new record should be coming later in the year. 

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dee holt – “Better” (Montreal, Canada)

RIYL: Billie Eilish, girl in red, JAWNY 

It feels like we’re in a golden era for indie-pop stars, and dee holt, which is the project of Daphne Holt, is a prime example of what we mean. Her 2022 record, When I Close My Eyes, was a sleeper hit for the songwriter, as “Picture” and “Nobody Like You” gathered quite a bit of plays and for good reason. Her songwriting is relatable and a lot of fun, especially paired with a bass line as catchy as “Picture”. For a genre that seemed to feel soulless for so long, Holt is one of the young artists breathing new life and adding color to it. In 2022, the Montrealer released a laid-back guitar track with a great beat in “Sober”, and she’s followed that up with “Better”.

“Better” feels like a perfect companion to her previous single. Its guitar work and playful vocals set the scene, as more layers come in, including some great harmonies. Acoustic guitar chords and some bass and drums add a bouncy undertone to the track’s choruses. The song closes with a great little section that’s an absolute blast. “Better” is among Holt’s most relatable songs, capturing the anxieties associated with relationship through a youthful lens.

“And in my mind its set-in stone and
I don’t know what’s wrong and
I know I’m all alone and I I I
Deep down I know I’m on my own I
know I don’t I belong and
Don’t hit up my phone cause I I I”

Holt is signed to Nettwerk Music Group. Look out for this rising star.

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Lael Neale – “I Am the River” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Sjowgren, Chapterhouse, Tanukichan

Lael Neale made our “Artists to Watch” list for 2021. That was the year she released the spellbinding and lo-fi Acquainted With The Night. The record marked a shift for Neale, where her dreamy, guitar rock and folk tunes were replaced with a sparser, more intimate approach. Between the spaces of her new sound, Neale easily filled them with her voice and words, making both immensely more powerful. Late last year, she released “Hotline”, which still featured her Omnichord but felt like a more refined sound.

Neale has followed up that single with “I Am the River”. The song opens with a simple drum machine beat, which is eventually joined by a single guitar note and sustained organ chords. Neale’s voice then arrives, playfully floating above everything. Like on her previous record, Neale finds a way to take up an immense space with such a simple sound. It’s something echoed in the origins of the record, of Neale moving from LA to the family farm. That connection with the world is in clear focus among the lyrics to “I Am the River”.

“I pledge allegiance
To tree and meadow
I have no need to
conquer or keep them

I’m for the ocean
Where we will all end
Let us have music
While we are moving”

Neale’s new album, Star Eaters Delight, is out April 21st via Sub Pop. It can be pre-ordered or pre-saved at these links and on Bandcamp.

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H.Hawkline – “Plastic Man” (Los Angeles, USA via Cardiff, Wales)

RIYL: Kishi Bashi, Andrew Bird, Andy Shauf

Only a few weeks separates us and one of our Most Anticipated Albums of the year, which is H.Hawkline‘s Milk for Flowers. Huw Evans, the mastermind behind this great project, displayed his ability to turn the most innocent moments into grand memories on previously released singles “Milk for Flowers” and “Suppression Street”. For the LP’s final single before its complete release, he changes tactics and tells the story of a person who desires to be more than he is. It comes with a cost, of course.

If you have a top hat and a cane lying around, grab them and prepare to do a performance made for Vaudeville. Or simply sit back and be entertained by “Plastic Man”, which is a mix of 1940s New Orleans pop (with piano and horns to boot) and the chamber-pop of the 2020s. Evans’ story is as entertaining as the upbeat and immensely delightful melody. He assumes the identity of an individual who wants to fit in, but he’s not exactly cut out for it. In this instance, he heads to a tattoo parlor, but the experience is more painful than expected. All he can do is “hide my face in the pillow” in order to not to scream. Despite the pain and the strain, he endures. For what purpose? Likely love or maybe he just wants to be seen.

Milk for Flowers is out next March 10th via Heavenly Recordings. Pre-orders available at these links and on Bandcamp.

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Guest Singer – “Divine Psychic Hotline” (Doncaster, England)

RIYL: Methyl Ethel, Talking Heads, Hot Chip

If there’s one thing about Guest Singer that can be said about their releases so far, it’s that they deliver on their promise. Self-described as “dark party songs” and “anti-motiviational anthems”, the project of Jake Cope and France Lahmar take bleak feelings and transform them into immersive electro-pop songs. 

It would be easy to assume a defeatist nature, but “Divine Psychic Hotline” proves otherwise. There’s an artistry throughout the track, especially in the way it never stays in one place for too long. Its sound is instantly welcoming with its plucky synth, which pairs perfectly with the surreal and humorous lyrics inspired by late-night psychic streams on Facebook. The song’s big moments give way to a nearly ethereal soundscape, eventually interrupted by an iPhone notification sound and a psychic hotline commercial. It all swirls together, with Cope challenging the promises made in the commercial.

Guest Singer are Jake Cope and France Lahmar. The single is out on MNRK UK.

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Aasma – “Bad Bad Dream” (Stockholm, Sweden)

RIYL: Julia Holter, Cross Record, Ada Lea

Last year, Mira Aasma, the artist simply known as Aasma, released a stunner when she dropped  “Going Nowhere”. It honestly should not have been too much of a surprise, as her previous record, Daydreams, was equally as breathtaking. Aasma’s past experiences growing up in the woods of Sweden and as a member of a musical family make her such a unique artist with an undeniable ability to capture the beauty of nature and the life within it. 

“Bad Bad Dream” is another perfectly captured moment by the Stockholm-based artist. While the track’s title may suggest something nightmarish, there’s a calmness to be experienced with some spacey sounds ringing out as Aasma sings over acoustic guitar. She’s joined by haunting harmonies, and eventually a lush accompaniment of strings. The early moments are gorgeous, but the second half of the song is absolutely spellbinding. Its repetitive nature lulls the listener in, but it builds underneath until it releases its grasp, leaving the listener floating among layers of strings. 

“Running away
Is not gonna get you anywhere
Stuck in between
Not gonna let you out until tomorrow

Everything’s new
It’s just a bad bad dream
You’re such a fool
And it’s a bad bad dream”

Aasama’s upcoming record, Campfire, will be released on March 9th.

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