From recalling our innocence to losing it, the eight songs on The Matinee ’23 v. 018 are reflective, introspective, and provide critical perspective.

Seek more direction on the Songs of January & February 2023 playlist, which can be streamed on Spotify and SoundCloud.

Yndling – “Once or Twice” (Oslo, Norway)

RIYL: Tuvaband + Daughter + Azure Ray

Last year, Silje Espevik released her self-titled debut EP as Yndling. It was an incredible first impression, as she brought a wide range of sounds together in a way that was absolutely perfect. Thy ranged from the shoegazey “Like Love is Real” to the dream-pop of “Cotton Candy Skies” and the lush electronic “Childish Fear”. Like all great debut EPs, it left us wanting more. Thankfully Yndling has just released a sneak peek at what her debut full-length album could be.

Yndling’s latest single, “Once or Twice”, is just as captivating as we’d expect from Espevik. A dreamy and delicate opening, the song starts with just Espevik’s voice and some plucked nylon guitar. Gradually, the song swells with some harmonies and tingling keys, and then the event arrives – the song opens up like a star entering supernova stage. A crystalline guitar chime and warm synth take over, and a constantly shifting dynamic defines the rest of the song. The closing moments are even more spellbinding, shifting from a strange synth to Espevik’s voice to a gauzy, guitar solo before it all comes to a powerful end. An ending that brings to light Espevik’s words:

“It’s the biggest lie ever told
With the right one you’ll feel whole
Funny, we all believe it though
It’s not like I haven’t done this before”

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Letting Up Despite Great Faults – “Ricochet” (Austin, USA)

RIYL: The Cure, Slowdive, Cocteau Twins

Being an indie artist or a member of an indie band can be immensely rewarding, such as hearing your song spun on KEXP, hearing fans sing along to the words of every track from your debut album, and seeing your name on a festival poster. It also can be incredibly taxing with the long tours that involve late-night drives, sleeping on strangers’ floor, and feeling fortunate if one can break even after recording an album. Given the nature of the business, bands often take a lengthy pause or decide to go their separate ways.

For Letting Up Despite Great Faults, Kent Zambrana, Daniel Schmidt, Annah Fisette, and Mike Lee needed an eight-year hiatus to recharge. When they returned last year with IV, they sounded like a band reborn. They sounded like they did back in 2009: one of the great shoegaze bands of the past 15 years. The Austin-based quartet show no signs of letting up; instead, they’re getting stronger and delivering memorable tunes like “Ricochet”.

The sound of the ’90s emerges from this radiant number with a bass line that echoes The Cure and gauzy guitars that recall Slowdive, Cocteau Twins, and My Bloody Valentine. Like the songs from three decades ago, a delirious haze builds in our mind, as we become immersed in this dreamy world. Despite the dazzling effects, Lee shares a nightmare, as he sings about betrayal. While he looks back, he uses the experience to look forward, much like the entire band is doing today. 

“Why do you have to pretend to stab me in the back
Why do you have to beat me at the one thing I’m good at
Let’s put a label on us so we know what we were destroying all this time
Maybe it will ricochet, I swear it’s not just another line”

Letting Up Despite Great Fault’s new EP, Crumble, is expected April 4th. Pre-orders available on Bandcamp

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Blondfire – “Age of Innocence” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Ladyhawke, Chairlift, CHVRCHES, 

It’s been about three years since we’ve last heard from Erica Discroll and her project Blondfire. It’s not that she’s been idle. On the contrary, she’s been very busy with raising a young family and all the responsibilities that come with parenthood and life outside of music. When she does release new material, we pause our lives to listen. We await to either have our breaths taken away with some gorgeous dream-pop or to feel exhilarated with a catchy pop number. The latter is where Discroll lands on “Age of Innocence”, which sounds exactly what the title suggests.

Blondfire’s newest single is a rousing anthem filled with nostalgia – from the bustling rhythms, the surging synths, and, more importantly, Discroll’s words. While the track gets us on our feet and feeling rejuvenated and jubilant, we reflect on our younger days when ignorance was bliss. We recall how we became vulnerable and “gave our heart away.” We remember what it was like to just live, allowing mistakes and misinterpretations to be lessons while celebrating the moments that made us feel joy, love, and hope.

We might be older, but we can still relive those moments. And Discroll is helping us to do so.

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Aisha Badru – “Lazy River” (New York City / Orlando, USA)

RIYL: Sunny War + Great Lake Swimmers + SYML 

It’s been a while since Aisha Badru released her debut record, Pendulum, in 2018. The LP will stick with anyone who’s heard it, especially with tracks like “Splintered” and “Mind on Fire”. It was an incredible debut, and Badru has only followed it with more and more stellar music. Most recently, Badru released a knockout folk EP, The Way Back HomeBadru has seamlessly mixed sounds from trip-hop to dream-pop, and now she digs even more into her folk and acoustic tendencies with “Lazy River”.

Things start out quite simply. The finger-picked guitar has a haunting quality, which can be attributed to the way each pluck reverberates. Badru’s voice joins in and adds more to the ethereal qualities. Then some lush harmonies emerge and take things to another gasping level. Then the unexpected happens, as the melody shift towards a more soulful tone with programmed drums and some bouncing synth bass. The shifts, as well as the blending of styles, help Badru’s message hit harder. It’s one of the inevitability of change in the absence of a former lover. About the need to accept the new reality even if it hurts and seems like it takes forever.

“Time moves like a river, but things still get old
The scar is getting thinner, but underneath it grows
My love for you runs deep like the roots beneath a tree
I will let this go, eventually”

“Lazy River” will be on Badru’s upcoming EP, Learning to Love Again. It’s out June 2nd via Nettwerk Music Group. Watch the beautiful video featuring dancer Amara Barner. 



Dry Cleaning – “Swampy” & “Sombre Two” (London, England)

RIYL: Ought, Protmartyr, Heartworms

Despite releasing one of 2022’s best albums in Stumpwork and a worldwide tour that saw Dry Cleaning hit nearly every corner of the globe, Florence Shaw (vocals), Nicholas Hugh Andrew Buxton (drums), Thomas Paul Dowse (guitar), and Lewis Maynard (bass) remain incredibly busy. Most bands would take some time off but not these four, who announced yesterday that a companion EP will be released in a few weeks. Specifically, fans will get to wade through two new songs and three remixes of previously-released tracks on Swampy (the title might be a nod towards “Gary Ashby”). 

On the title track, the band get, well, swampy in a post-punk way. Dowse’s guitar mournfully glistens at the start while Maynard’s methodically plucks on his bass. Buxton, as always, steadily taps on his drum kit, creating a slow and cool groove. As the trio create the mood for a late-night drive, Shaw in her usual fashion narrates an odd tale that also is familiar. She shares how our lives are so mundane that we waste time playing on the Playstation 5 and tending to our gardens. There is more to her words, though, as one may interpret some religious analogy. 

“In a concrete front garden, plants grow around the edges of each slabs
This leaves a bare patch in their centres
In the bare patch, a rotting citrus fruit sits
This creates an ambiance, a locus of points, exclusivising the fruit”

On “Sombre Two”, the band do the unexpected – they go instrumental. It’s unusual to not hear Shaw’s nonchalant delivery and vivid lyrics, but the midnight mystery concocted by the band allows us to create our own story. Does this track continue to narrate our mundane lives or could it be the start of our awakening? Or is this is when live truly begins, which is in the shadows of the pale lit moon and underneath the faint stars? Allow your imaginations to go wild and bring to life the bizarre.

Swampy is out March 1st on 4AD. Pre-orders available here and on Bandcamp.

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Nightbus – “Way Past Three” (Manchester, England)

RIYL: NewDad, Wombo, Just Mustard

The year is still young, but it is never too early to proclaim that we have found our new favorite band. They are Nightbus, whose sound reflects their name. Consisting of Olive (vocals, guitar), Jake (guitar, production), and Zac (bass, vocals), the Manchester-based trio are turning post-punk into an immersive and mysterious affair, where they allow unsettling intimacy to rattle our bones and shake the foundations on which we stand. This effect is heard throughout “Way Past Three”.

A dissonant guitar dangles in the background while a great bass line pulses beneath it, and they are executed with precision and control, never getting too loud, too fast, nor overly foreboding. They are perfectly magnetic. Olive’s tantalizing voice, meanwhile, is restrained and focused, fixated on another person.

“Late night manic
Up n’ your spent
You’re picking the stars not like they’ll burn through your hands
Blood on the pavement
You’re licking the floor
You’ve never felt freedom like the dream you adore”

As they struggle, Olive reverts her eyes inward, realizing she, too, is sliding down the rabbit hole. As she shares her part in this tale of want and desire, we realize we are no different. 

“Told myself I’d be back by three
Sold my soul for a fantasy
Fell n tripped now I’ve slipped away
Into a world that was made for me”

Simply an awesome tune from a band with an immense future and they have the support of So Young Records to help them fulfill their potential.

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Spielmann – “The Right Track” (Leeds, England)

RIYL: The War On Drugs + Sam Fender + Weird Milk

Ben Lewis is a bit of mainstay within the music scene of Leeds and the surrounding areas. He’s performed with Ruthie, Menace Beach, and Bruising while moonlighting as a DJ. This week, he officially launched his brand new project, Spielmann, through which he hopes to create timeless pop music. Now, he’s not trying to be the next Robbie Williams or Rick Astley, but is he striving to write songs that will have people feel great about who they are. His intention is to make us believe in ourselves, and our confidence shall grow with “The Right Track”.  

If Adam Granduciel teamed up with Future Islands, they likely would create a song like Spielmann’s debut single. Keys, synths, guitar, bass, and percussion brilliantly are forged together to create a melody that could be from a great soundtrack of an iconic early-’90s coming-of-age film. This is music that has us twirling and dancing within a driving rainstorm and refusing to allow any excuse to stop us from getting to our final destination. As Lewis sings to us in the catchy chorus:

“I was waiting for the dark to say, 
‘Dark days are going your way’
And I will going to take you home 
And treat you much better
Help you find the right track”

On the right track we are thanks to Spielmann.

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Lunar Vacation – “Only You” (Atlanta, USA)

RIYL: Sun June, Stella Donnelly, Big Thief

We named Lunar Vacation one of our Favorite Hidden Gems of 2021. It was such an easy call to make with the release of their fantastic debut, Inside Every Fig Is a Dead Wasp. On the LP, the band showed they have everything it takes to be the next breakout band, from their infectious energy to their engaging lyricism. Since then, Grace Repasky (vocals, guitar, bass), Maggie Geeslin (guitar), Matteo DeLurgio (auxiliary percussion), and Connor Dowd (drums) have been largely quiet, aside from a great little Christmas EP. It feels like we’re overdue for some new proper tunes, and luckily they’ve just shared “Only You”.

“Only You” feels a bit more low-key than a lot of what we’ve heard from Lunar Vacation. The track starts with just Repasky and guitar, and eventually a simple drumbeat moving things forward. The song eventually fills out, but in its early stages it still feels like it has a journey to take us on.

All is revealed when everything cuts out for Repasky and synth, creating a spacey moment that perfectly resembles their name. The tune then launches into some trippy guitar work over the song’s dream-folk underlayment. It all gives way just in time for the chorus to come back in and bring us back home. It brings us back to reality, helping us find comfort in being alone, being with ourselves, and appreciating those moments with “Only You”. 

The single is out on Keeled Scales

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