The Matinee ’23 v. 017 provides a compass for all who need a bit of direction and motivation – or maybe just a pick-me-up. Most of the nine songs are gloriously upbeat while a couple move with their lyrical brilliance.

Find other new sonic directions on the Songs of January & February 2023 playlist, which includes these tracks. Find it on Spotify and SoundCloud.

 

Small Black – “Desert of the Heart” (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: Craft Spells, Washed Out, Work Drugs

Small Black are a genre-defining band. With almost 15 years under their belts, Josh Kolenik (keys, vocals), Ryan Heyner (guitar, keys, vocals), Juan Pieczanski (bass, guitar), and Jeff Curtin (drums) have created a perfect chill sound. In 2021, they released Cheap Dreams, their first record since 2015’s Best Blues. It was a fantastic return after those years away, and one that was true to their roots. Their next release will forge an even deeper connection to their early days.

Small Black recently recovered an old hard drive of music recorded around the time of their 2009, self-titled debut EP. Those rough versions of songs have now been re-injected full of life, remixed, and completed. What was unearthed has helped expand that EP to a true full-length record.

Josh Kolenik describes “Desert of the Heart” as “a trip back to 2009”. It’s a time capsule of sorts with sounds that would go on to define Small Black, but they are executed in a simplistic form. Kolenik is proud of what they were able to create back then. With the added production “Desert of the Heart” feels like it got the love it deserved, long after it was originally conceived. Lush synth fills in that perfect Small Black style. Joined by some deep bass synth and immersive percussion, the track is instantly inviting. Once the vocals and reverb-drenched guitar come in, it’s a dreamy, spacey ride. Just like the revived tune, the lyrics also feel like a bridge to the past.

“Deeper on the road in a car
of no remark in between the valleys
told me you’re cleaning up
Left like the tide when my back was turned

I always knew you were good
I always knew you were gone
In the desert of the heart

“Desert of the Heart” will appear alongside new and old tracks on their “new” / reissued album, Small Black, out March 31st on 100% Electronica and Jagjaguwar. Pre-orders available here and on Bandcamp.

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M83 – “Amnesia” (Los Angeles, USA via Antibes, France)

RIYL: The Naked and Famous, Crystal Castles, CHVRCHES

There was a time when Anthony Gonzalez and his band M83‘s set would be scheduled during one of the earliest, festival time slots, and they would perform to a handful of fans. That happened in 2009 at the Ottawa Bluesfest and on the heels of Saturdays = Youth. Two years later as most music fans know, M83’s popularity exploded with the release of the iconic Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, which was the group’s sixth album.

A lot has changed in the past dozen years with M83 becoming primarily Gonzalez’s solo project and the Frenchmen being acknowledged as one of the great musical innovators of the 21st Century. While he has largely looked forward, his ninth LP, Fantasy, appears to how him looking in the rear-view mirror. First, it was the brilliant reinterpretation of ’80s new wave on “Oceans Niagara”, and now he takes synth-pop to glistening heights with “Amensia”.

One of the five new songs unveiled last week as Chapter 1 of Fantasy, “Amnesia” sees Gonzalez go supernova. An awesome, Peter Hook-like bass line sparkles between an electric harp, bouncy percussion, and shimmering synths, and the journey into the darkness of space has begun. Quickly, the track accelerates, and we’re whipping past asteroids, moons, and planets. Whether on the firm ground of Earth or outside its atmosphere, it still is possible to find the light in someone else. To find love and hope, which he and band mate, Kaela Sinclair, sing about:

“So let’s burn
Fast and bright
‘Cause we will bleed
Die inside me

Floating for a miracle
Likе pixies
Guide me to thе last realm
This crimson love
It’s a miracle”

Gonzalez is joined by Loïc Maurin (drums, percussion, guitar, bass, keyboards), Jordan Lawlor (guitars, vocals, multi-instrumentalist), Kaela Sinclair (keyboards, vocals), and Joe Berry (piano, synthesizers, EWI, saxophone).

Pre-orders of Fantasy ahead of its March 17th release are at these links and on Bandcamp at these links. Virgin Records and Mute Records have the privilege.

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Jessie Ware – “Pearls” (London, England)

RIYL: Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, CHIC

Last year, Jessie Ware released the disco banger “Free Yourself”. It was a fantastic track that built perfectly on what Ware released in 2020 with What’s Your Pleasure. There’s no denying Ware’s status as one of the great pop singer-songwriters. With her recent releases, she’s truly finding her own space within the genre. Ware’s path into a modern version of a disco diva seems inevitable, especially with the announcement of her new record, That Feels Goodand its second single “Pearls”.

“Pearls” is a perfect Jessie Ware track. It’s so easy to turn on “Pearls” and think you’re listening to a greatest hit of Donna Summer or Gloria Gaynor. It’s deliciously groovy – from its bass line to Ware’s dynamic vocal performance. The Londoner’s voice booms over the verses with unrelenting power, toning it down to little more than a whisper for the bridges. The choruses are as infectious as it gets (good luck getting it out of your head). Ware says That Feels Good is inspired by “10 years of understanding who I am, and who I enjoy being as an artist and the thrill of performance”. A track this danceable in any concert hall can only translate into a can’t-miss performance.

Ware’s new album, That Feels Good, is out April 28th via PMR Records and EMI Records. Pre-order it here.

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Ali Farka Touré – “Cherie” (feat. Oumou Sangaré) ( Niafunké, ‎Mali)

RIYL: Tinariwen, Imarhan, Songhoy Blues

We are approaching the 17-year anniversary of Ali Farka Touré‘s passing. The Mali-born artist is considered one of the great guitarists in history and acknowledged as one of the pioneers of contemporary African blues, blending traditional Malian sounds with African-American blues. Whether you’re a connoisseur of Touré’s music or just being introduced to it, we all can learn more about the legend and appreciate something “new” – or, more specifically, unreleased recordings from the past. On March 10th, World Circuit Records with unveil Voyageur, which will included never-before-heard material as well as reinterpretations of some of Touré’s finest works. One of the songs from the LP is “Cherie”.

Originally recorded in London in 1995 with fellow Malian legend Oumou Sangaré, the song is classic Malian blues – stripped back, intimate, and a bit trippy with hints of psychedelia. As Touré calmly strums a mesmerizing hallucination on his guitar, his and Sangaré’s voices fill the void, singing about unity, love, and perseverance. Thanks to the people on YouTube, we can share the lyrics and the translation, as the words are sung in Bambara, the first language of Mali.

“Chéri ye baani wallahi ye baani (Honey I love you Wallaye, I love you)
Yorkoye ma wa ni nda dunya jar (may God protect us from the wickedness of this existence)”

Pre-orders for Voyageur are available at these links.

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Drahla – “Lip Sync” (Leeds, England)

RIYL: Black Midi + Dehd + Black Country, New Road

Before Black Midi, Squid, and Black Country, New Road made off-kilter art-punk cool, Drahla were experimenting long before them. Back in 2017, we thought they could be this generation’s Sonic Youth. Time is still on Rob Riggs, Luciel Brown, and Mike Ainsley’s side to make this prediction a reality, so let it begin with “Lip Sync”.

A jazzy saxophone slices through the dissonant and grimy guitar riff and an unnerving drum line. The melody moves between quick and eruptive to calm yet uneasy. It’s all, however, intoxicating. Brown’s vocal, though, is the anchor, brimming with a cool sassiness, where at times her approach is nonchalant and other moments deviant. At first, her words seem targeted at an individual who has wronged her. After further examination, Brown directs her sharp tongue at herself and those people who try to distort reality and the truth. While some will fall off their axis and down the rabbit hole, she remains steady and focused.

“Hate you to fear you
It’s none such luck
Suggest, the slip of your axis
To care it’s not there

World sits still
I’m still
It crumbles still
Spits on its axis
It hits and I’m there”

The single is out on Captured Tracks. We’re rooting for this band to have their major breakthrough this year.

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Coach Party – “Micro Aggression” (Isle of Wight, England)

RIYL: YONAKA, Wolf Alice, Shit Kid

Jessica Eastwood, Guy Page, Joe Perry, and Stephanie Norris easily scored a spot on our Artists to Watch in 2021. That was the year Coach Party delivered the blissed-out, fuzz rocker EP, After PartyThe band then dug into heavier sounds with their 2022 release, Nothing is Real. The quartet’s sound has shifted into an area where they truly thrive, a blend of laid-back sounds clashing with some heavy guitar rock. They’ve also shown they’re not afraid to be a little angry in their music.

Coach Party’s latest single, “Micro Aggression”, calls out the harmful behavior of the same name. The lyrics are sharp, as Eastwood pulls no punches as she confronts sexist and negative comments even if they’re made “as a joke”. The instrumentals are equally biting with booming guitar riffs and big drums, which are accompanied by a vocal track that hits moments of distortion. A brief moment of clarity emerges in the bridge before the tune explodes once again with Eastwood directing traffic by calling the drums back in. 

“Here lies a part of me that has died
Always told to play nice
Tell me why the boys weren’t taught the same
What are you looking over here for
Never seen a girl before?
Why you try’na push for more?

Stop, listen when I say stop
Give me your attention
Am I making myself fucking clear? The flowers that you bought me Doesn’t mean you’re sorry
I think we know it’s not enough”

The single is out on Chess Club Records.

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FEWS – “Get Out” (Malmö, Sweden)

RIYL:Gilla Band, Protomartyr, Yung

When FEWS released “MASSOLIT”, which was a massively ripper of a single, we should have known that Frederick Rundqvist (vocals, guitar), Jay Clifton (bass), and Rasmus Andersson (drums) were prepping a new album. To say we’re stoked about the announcement of Glass City would be an understatement. Everything FEWS have released has been more than worth our time, which includes the 13-minute gripping ride of Dog E.P. to their massive 2019 record, Into Red.

With the announcement of Glass City comes a song that is among the band’s most intense releases, “Get Out”. The track starts out with some simple, repetitive synth, which is shortly joined by some huge drums. A high-pitched electric drone enters, hovering over the heavy hitting drums. The track briefly dies down to just Rundqvist repeating, “I get out”, over some synth before the song reignites. There’s so much to dig about “Get Out”, from the guitar work to the immense weight of the vocals, and the drumming is absolutely fantastic. 

FEWS’ third album, Glass City, will be released April 14th on Welfare Sounds & Records. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.

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Gengahr – “A Ladder” (London, England)

RIYL: early Foals + early Unknown Mortal Orchestra + Said the Whale

Fresh out of high school, Gengahr were riding a huge wave of buzz with their quirky take on feelgood art-pop and psych-pop. The success, however, may have been a bit too fast and too early for Felix Bushe, John Victor, Hugh Schulte, and Danny Ward because they still had their entire lives to lead. Unsurprisingly, they slowed down, including for nearly the past three years. Since releasing Sanctuary in 2020, the London quartet have been on the down low. Then late last week, they quietly shared “A Ladder”

The track is so Gengahr – an upbeat, mood-changing number that will get listeners doing hand claps and smiling with each collision. And maybe you’ll be dancing in the aisles at work, skipping through the park, or high-fiving your classmates. Jangly guitars, groovy rhythms, and Bushe’s trademark falsetto buzz through the air, and they create an anthem for the state of the world today, addressing how we must move now to change our and our planet’s future.

The single is out on Liberator Music.

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Someone – “I Guess I’m Changing” (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

RIYL: present-day Sharon Van Etten, Donna Lewis, Feist

Tessa Rose Jackson knows how to turn experiences into art. She’s a composer for film, creating music that’s forever linked with images from television to movie screens. When she’s not composing for the screen, Jackson creates music as Someone, and last week she released a fantastic record, Owls.

Written while on a road trip through the US. Jackson captured the shift of culture as she and her partner drove their way up the Mississippi River while listening to radio stations and binge watching Twin Peaks. The centerpiece of the record is the spellbinding “I Guess I’m Changing”. Jackson warmly welcomes listeners in with some low-key synth, and a whispery vocal delivery. In the blink of an eye, it all becomes so much more. Guitar cuts through the quiet and booming harmonies and drums are added. The harmonies are instantly inviting, elevating the track’s warmth. The lyrics reflect that clarity that a long drive can provide. Having the world fly by the window and realizing how things are changing, including yourself. 

“I don’t care what they say
My mind keep racing
Let it fall into place
I guess I’m changing

I’ve been oceans away
My heart’s been aching
Let it fall into place
I guess I’m changing”

Jackson’s new album, Owls, is out everywhere. Get it on Bandcamp and Someone’s online store.

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