The Matinee ’23 v. 014 is littered with newcomers mixed with a few alumni. Just like the variety of the names, the ten songs also are a mixed bag of delectable treats. Let us know which one you prefer most in the comments.
More tasty tunes, including these ones, can be found on the Songs of January & February 2023 playlist, which is available on Spotify or SoundCloud.
Westerman – “CSI: Petralona” (Athens, Greece via London, England)
RIYL: Nick Drake, Sam Fender, Riley Pearce
Will Westerman, who simply goes by Westerman on stage, is a gift to lovers of outstanding songwriting. The London native’s debut album, Your Hero Is Not Dead, provided a sample of his narrator approach and observational style. Now a little older, a little wiser, and having moved to Athens, the 30-year old is about to enter a whole new level of artistic brilliance. That’s at least the indication that the powerful “Idol; RE-run”, which was an outsider’s view of the storming of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and the movie-worthy “CSI: Petralona” give.
With just smooth, pattering rhythms and a lightly-strummed guitar, Westerman’s emotive baritone emerges and leads us to a neighborhood square in his new hometown. He recounts a meeting with another person, who may be a stranger or someone he knows. After this mysterious individual shares some advice, Westerman sees his life flash by him. His tale is Dan Brown-esque – actually better.
“Over my ears.
Close shave in Petralona.
People drinking, taking pills, presenting,
And breathing that carnival air.
All the balconies were talking to me,
Shedding light in a way
Nothing else seemed to.
From somewhere I called out,
I think I might be done here”.
Westerman’s new album, An Inbuilt Fault, will be released May 5th on Partisan Records and Play It Again Sam. Pre-orders and pre-saves available here and on Bandcamp.
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La Sanyea Dengue – “Heavy Mental” (Borlänge, Sweden)
RIYL: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Meatbodies, Wand
In central Sweden, four individuals are doing their best to wake up the industrial city of Borlänge, which has a little more than 50,000 inhabitants. Now La Sanyea Dengue are not committing crimes, like smashing windows or inciting riots – at least not physically. Their music, though, if turned up to the highest dial might shatter glass and induce bedlam and mayhem because, like King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, they create fiery, frenetic, and bombastic psych-garage rock. So if you’re about to listen to “Heavy Mental” on your computer or have ready to spin on your stereo system, you might want to open the windows just to be safe.
This 5+-minute number is one heck of an explosive ride that is the sonic equivalent of a thousand sticks of dynamite. Blazing guitars, a jolting bass line, and steady drums provide the canvas for Simon Lindberg’s creepy vocal, which is akin to the Gizz’s Stu Mackenzie. His story, too, is Gizz-esque, recounting how some demon from the underworld emerges to take over his mind and induce psychosis, among the many ills that consume his mind and body. The tale is clever yet pertinent, revealing how mental illness is a monster that we cannot control or contain.
La Sanyea Dengue are Simon Lindberg (vocals), Lukas Anderhell (drums), Isak Tage Andersson (bass), and Fredrik Öhrberg (guitar, synths).
Woodlot – “Bring It Down” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Fleet Foxes + Elephant Stone + Mikal Cronin
Not much is known about Woodlot since they have a very limited social media presence. All we know is that the band comprises of Michael Lawson (acoustic guitar, vocals), Craig Bryant (lead guitar), Jeff Bryant (bass), Scott Dunn (keys), Tim Dunn (guitar), and Michael Cameron (drums), and on Friday they released their debut EP, The Narrows. Maybe the strategy of anonymity has a purpose – they want their music to speak for itself. Fleet Foxes adopted this approach nearly 17 years ago, and it worked out for the influential indie band. Here’s hoping the same happens for this quartet because songs like “Bring It Down” have “instant classic” written all over it.
Wondrous and dreamy like a great Fleet Foxes’ number yet dazzlingly trippy a la Elephant Stone, Woodlot have created a track that was made to be played at the cottage or cabin – places where we can escape the chaos and heat of the urban jungle. This place, this song is our sanctuary, where we battle the anxieties, expectations, and doubts and, eventually, find clarity. We become revitalized, which “Bring It Down” does for us, particularly in its eye-opening finale as the guitars, bass, and drums come crashing down around us.
This is a band to watch – assuming we can locate them first.
Edit: we found them – or more accurately they found us. Woodlot are from Toronto and they’re a sextet and not a quartet. We still don’t know too much about them.
The Nude Party – “Hard Times (All Around)” (Livingston Manor, New York via Boone, NC, USA)
RIYL: Futurebirds, Fruit Bats, My Morning Jacket
Speaking about great storytellers and bands, The Nude Party are unquestionably one of them. The North Carolina-formed band are like Neil Young and Crazy Horse, where they chronicle the lives of the average person and turn them into unknown legends. They did this on their recently-released single, “Ride On”, which was dedicated to people they met in Mexico, into 95-year old Juanita. On “Hard Times (All Around)”, Patton Magee (vocals, guitar), Shaun Couture (guitar, vocals), Alec Castillo (bass, vocals), Don Merrill (piano, vocals), Austin Brose (percussion, vocals), and Connor Mikita (drums) create a song for you, me, and everyone.
Like nearly every track the band have released, this tune is made for long, summer road trips – or in the middle of winter meant for warming up our souls. Tickling keys, groovy rhythms, wonderfully chiming guitars, and what sounds like a mellotron create the feeling of warmer days. They create the feeling of hope and renewal, which Magee addresses. He recounts the ordinary person’s struggles, and how so many have had to “pack up their dreams” and move “to higher ground” to beat the oncoming floods. The band, however, remind us that better days are ahead, and we need to do whatever we can to keep our heads above water. If we persevere, we’ll once again see the light of day.
The Nude Party’s new album, Rides On, will be released via New West Records on March 10th. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available here and Bandcamp.
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The Album Leaf – “Near” (feat. Bat for Lashes) (Los Angeles / San Diego, USA)
RIYL: M83, Son Lux, Small Black
A record had to be coming after Jimmy LaValle – a.k.a. The Album Leaf – released the enrapturing “Say So”, which featured Katie Munshaw of Canada’s Dizzy. Sure enough, La Valle shared that Future Falling will rise in early May. It’s surprising to learn that “Say So” will not be on the record; however, Future Falling will feature some undeniable guest star power. If the record’s instrumental title track, which was sneakily released in October is any indication, that star power will be perfectly paired with some stunning sounds.
The latest single from the record, “Near”, demonstrates what The Album Leaf’s upcoming record could be. Featuring an assist on vocals from Natasha Khan – a.k.a. Bat for Lashes – the track starts out completely atmospheric. Lush synth and pounding electronic percussion set the scene with an immense hypnotic quality. It ratchets up a notch when Khan’s voice arrives. It’s an easy song to get lost in and feel transported for 5 minutes into another place. La Valle’s arrangement, meanwhile, contains these qualities, and few are better at creating music like this than him. It’s an absolute treat hearing him work with such powerful voices like Khan’s and creating something truly transcendent.
“Do you feel me near?
I keep you
Deep in this heart
In a deepest words in the dark
Do you feel me near?
In the dreamiest works of your heart
Stay close to mine
I keep you”
Pre-orders for Future Falling prior to its May 4th release can be made at these links and on Bandcamp. Nettwerk Music Group has the privilege to distribute the LP.
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Mary Anne’s Polar Rig – “It Goes” (Malmö, Sweden)
RIYL: Bnny, Hussy, Big Thief
Mary Anne’s Polar Rig‘s “Surfaced” in 2018 with a track of the same name. Malin Hofvander (vocals, guitar) and Harald Ingvarsson created a unique combination of quite a few styles in a raw and authentic package. The duo get their name from a mining rig in the Arctic, and the gritty, yet isolating nature of such a place is reflected in their sound. Their latest single, “It Goes”, is a prime example of that.
“It Goes” kicks off with a gorgeous intro with Hofvander singing over some low-key guitar. It then goes into spectacular territory with some beautifully finger-picked guitar, brushed percussion, and an underlying synth. While beautiful, there’s an unnerving quality bubbling from the encroaching synth to the guitar ringing notes. It then kicks into a surprisingly intense build before heading back to that finger-picked guitar. However, the brushed percussion is replaced by a building attack of cymbal crashes and electric guitar roars. Hofvander’s voice howls and powers over everything before once again being consumed by the roar, like a fire finally burning out. Incredible stuff.
“Wanna know where all the feelings go
the ones I had
the ones I used to know
I would bring them back and put them in my lap
stroke their backs whisper in their ear
You don’t have to go anywhere”
The duo’s new album, Makes You Wonder, will be released March 24th on Rama Lama Records. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.
Swiss Banks – “Make It Work” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: The National + Interpol + Editors
Swiss Banks dropped their first single in August of last year. “RIP” was an attention grabber right out of the gate for Adam Buhrman (vocals), Lane Fielder (guitar), and Joey Alves (drums). Post-punk at its core, the track also dove into some great ’80s Gothic territory. Perhaps producer Carey McGraw of Modern Medicine put it best when he described their sound as “Robert Smith listening to Morrissey cover Interpol”. The following singles echoed this with the electronic “Getaway” and the immense “Animals”.
Swiss Banks’ fourth single “Make It Work” builds on what the band has constructed. The song’s opening moments set the tone, its instrumental feels very mid-00s. Once Buhrman’s voice kicks in it, however, all feels like a throwback to decades earlier. The guitar work is pristine, and the drums drive things brilliantly. Then there are some huge, short-lived guitar moments that add so much character to the single, especially its ending moments. The unsettled nature of the track mirrors the lyrics are about the difficulty for someone who has experienced past relationship trauma to open up to a new partner.
Swiss Banks have not announced album details, other than it’ll be out this year. It’ll be one to keep an eye out for.
Freedom Fry – “If the World Was Mine” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Sam Evian, Michael Rault, George Harrison
Few bands provide the vibes that married couple Marie Seyrat and Bruce Driscoll do as Freedom Fry. Laid-back tracks that channel psych-pop, psych-folk, and whatever psych-genre you can think of plus sounds of the ’60s and ’70s. There’s also a warmth to their approach that makes the songs gravitating and an absolute joy to listen.
Freedom Fry’s latest single, “If The World Was Mine”, kicks off with a tasty George Harrison-esque guitar intro. Driscoll’s voice fits the style perfectly, especially when paired with Seyrat’s in the choruses. The duo also are joined by strings, adding a ton of depth to the sun-drenched sound. There’s plenty of great, understated guitar work throughout. There are some delicately intricate layers to the track, piano chiming in, synth coming in and going as it pleases and it’s all perfectly executed. A great little guitar solo ties things together before the duo’s vocals rejoin for one last go-around.
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Holy Wire – “Phantom Nihilism” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: Nation of Language, NO, LCD Soundsystem
Future Islands may have salvaged synth-pop and new wave more than a decade while Nation of Language breathed new life into the genres more than three years ago. Now a new generation of artists and bands are emerging to take the music that littered the soundtracks of Chris Columbus’ and John Hughes’ films, and among them is Alain Paradis and his project Holy Wire.
The one-man band’s songs are nostalgic, which is absolutely fine since they possess a raw energy that is absent in much of today’s mainstream music. Not many tunes, for instance, will induce you to replicate one of the great ’80s dance scenes in movies, but “Phantom Nihilism” will.
Sparkling synths, the occasional burst of a shimmering guitar, and a steady electric drum beat fills the air, and we are transported back to 1985 and the era of when denim and big hair reigned while a younger generation viewed dancing as a form of rebellion. Paradis’ words, too, capture that spirit, but he directs his lyrics at us. He tells us that we are part of the problem as opposed to the solution.
“You suffer from a kind of
Calling you in moments
you’re not sure you’re there anymore
And it beckons you
something you should believe in
In moments you can barely
read the lines in between”
Paradis has released a handful of songs, which can be found on Bandcamp.
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AYTAO – “Into The Night” (Bronx, NY USA)
RIYL: Hiatus Kaiyote, James Blake, Disclosure
In New York City, Manhattan and Brooklyn dominate a lot of the conversation when it comes to music. However, anyone who’s been knows that The Bronx is a cultural center for the city full of vibrant art. AYTAO calls the borough home, and he has created music up and down the East Coast since he was 15 years old. His music blends many styles, so it’s almost impossible to classify. Last year, AYTAO released the heavy, futuristic trap track, “That Numbing Feeling”, and he paired it with an intense AI-generated music video, which displays AYTAO’s full creative vision.
In January, AYTAO released an EP, The Cycle That Never Ends, which included “Into The Night”, where he relays an urgent message. “Into The Night” is a song about generally being lost in late-stage capitalism. It’s the EP’s closing track, and it follows some intense and heavy music. “Into The Night”, however, is a calm moment tying it all together. Some crystalline guitar opens the tune, and AYTAO’s voice is perfectly intertwined with itself over some fantastic drum samples. The guitar gets heavier and harsher, but it never bubbles over. Instead, the drums kick in heavier, as AYTAO’s voice soars over everything. Hearing how he manipulates his voice, the layers of guitar, and the way the track flows make his unrestrained creativity so obvious to anyone who encounters The Cycle That Never Ends.
The Cycle That Never Ends is out now, check it out on Spotify, Apple Music, or SoundCloud.
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