The Matinee ’23 v. 021 not only traverses the globe for new music, but the featured songs also span several genres. Some are peaceful and tranquil, others cathartic or ethereal. They are all memorable. 

Discover more musical moments on the Songs of January & February 2023 playlist. Give it a follow on Spotify and SoundCloud.

To go directly to the song of your choice, click on the link below. We suggest, however, checking out all 10 tracks.

Keaton Henson – “Envy” (London, England)

RIYL: Andy Shauf, Sam Evian, Crake

Early in his career, Keaton Henson was a machine, churning out songs and albums every year – and each one was brilliant. His LP and their tracks were full of juxtaposition, where the stories told were often opposite to the images the titles indicated. Henson’s forthcoming album, House Party, likely will be the same, as the immensely talented singer-songwriter is sure to deliver tunes that are not made for a raucous gathering of friends and strangers. They might, however, be perfect for spinning with a few close mates while huddling around a bonfire, which is where one must hear “Envy”.

This somber and sobering indie-folk number is brittle yet gorgeous. Delicate guitars, a deft bass line, and feathery percussion wrap around Henson’s stirring falsetto. His voice is sincere and his words more so. Assuming the role of a down-on-his-luck performer, Henson does not sing about being jealous or admiring another person. Instead, he gives himself a pep talk, trying to encourage himself to live one day at a time and finding the one thing that will keep him going.

“Don’t envy what you wouldn’t want for all your life
I’m everything I wanted and it’s just alright
Don’t let me keep you darling, I will bе just fine
I suppose but I don’t know
I’m always on my own these days”

House Party is due June 9th via Play It Again Sam with pre-orders from his online store.

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two blinks, i love you – “carnegie hall” (Liverpool, England)

RIYL: Elliott Smith, Ben Gibbard, Bright Eyes

Many people in the Liverpool area and those who closely follow the UK indie scene know who Liam Brown is – the person behind pizzagirl. Under this moniker, Brown has created intimate bedroom-pop and buzzing electro-pop, and in the process he’s become on the most popular artists to emerge from Merseyside. An unusual thing, however, happened recently, as Brown has temporarily set aside the playful project and started a new one. He has decided that pizzagirl will be his electronic and pop project while two blinks, i love you will be his rock and folk outlet. In other words, forget about the MacBook, keyboard, and electronic drums. In their place, Brown grabs his acoustic guitar and channels the likes of Elliott Smith, Ben Gibbard, and Conor Oberst – at least on IBILY’s debut single, “carnegie hall”.

Many artists try to capture the spirit and raw emotion of Elliott Smith, but few succeed. Brown, however, sounds like the late, great singer-songwriter – right from the raw, vintage, 8-track sound to the quivering emotion that comes from his soft vocal. His songwriting, too, is reflective of Smith’s output on Either/Or and XO, as he sings to another person to “not despair” despite all of life’s setbacks. That other person is himself, and he shares how he had to bite his tongue to get ahead and how he dreamed about performing in the great concert venues in the world, such as Carnegie Hall. One day, Brown will, either as pizzagirl or two blinks, i love you – or some combination of the two.

two blinks, i love you’s debut EP, EP1, is out May 5th on Heist or Hit.

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Magic Gardening Club – “Easier” (Sevilla, Spain)

RIYL: Telenova, Yumi Zouma, Porches

We don’t write nearly enough about Spanish indie bands even though La Piel de Toro is home to one of the globe’s best music festivals and the scenes in Barcelona, Madrid, and Bilbao are littered with outstanding groups like Hinds, Baywaves, and Damen. Thankfully for us, Spirit Goth Records is branching out to highlight the talents of groups like Magic Gardening Club.

The trio from the beautiful city of Seville is a Spanish super-group , featuring Erica Romero Pender (Terry vs. Tori, Martes Niebla), David Alonso (Baywaves, Ordinary Guy), and Cristian Pineda (Asociación de Vecinos, Moustoile, Nue). Similar to an Aussie super-group that quietly formed before gaining popularity in their home country (Telenova), MGC is on an upward trajectory thanks to songs like “Easier”.

Patience is the band’s calling card on this tune, where they slow the tempo to nearly a crawl and allow every note and rhythmic pulse to be heard and felt. We become lost in the light gauziness of the guitar, the glimmering synth, and the patters of the electronic drums. Meanwhile, we drown in Pender’s lush and inviting vocal. It sits softly over the delicate arrangement, never rising beyond that of a whisper. Pender shares how she “cannot decide what’s right” between staying in the presence of another or whether to leave. In the end, she pleads, “Oh, how I wished you opened the door… Should’ve been, should’ve been me.” Her words are one of regret – not of longing or want but to be there when that other person needed her most. 

The trio’s eponymous debut EP is out on Spirit Goth Records. Get it at Bandcamp. Here’s hoping MGC stick around for awhile so more people can discover their ethereal brilliance. 

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Fast Romantics – “Euphoria” (Toronto via Calgary, Canada)

RIYL: The National + Said the Whale + Broken Social Scene

Fast Romantics rose quickly to Canadian prominence with their boisterous pop-rock, receiving airplay across the country as well as stateside. Unlike similar bands, the Alberta-formed outfit shunted the usual storylines in favor of heavier subjects. Even when they tried to create an album of love songs, they ended up with a politically-and socially-charged LP in 2017’s American Love. This is what Fast Romantics have become – a voice of reason in turbulent times. 

The group itself has experienced much turbulence, undergoing several line-up changes from their time in Calgary to their move to Toronto. Currently, they are led by Matthew Angus and Kirty, who continue to drive Fast Romantics into a direction beyond the typical and “Euphoria” is very typical Fast Romantics.

The song bustles with the dynamism heard on Broken Social Science’s most iconic tunes. “Euphoria”, as such, never stays stationary, but instead it spins from its somber opening and gradually builds into a tremendous finale. The moment is, well, euphoric. While the track may not be a political one, its message is equally important. Through the pounding percussion, chiming keys, and guitar bursts, Angus shares his endless search for stability and meaning. Even when he turns to his friends for a pick-me-up, they only tell him lies. For what seems like entirety, he cannot find the light.

“Sneak me in through the backdoor
Out of the nightmare
Into the prettiest dream
Fill my body with diamonds
Til everyone’s shining
Til no one’s as bright as they seem”

But hopefully with this track, others can find their euphoria. 

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Matt Corby – “Big Smoke” (Oyster Bay, Australia)

RIYL: Tame Impala + Ben Howard + John Legend

Matt Corby is gearing up to release his first album since 2018’s Rainbow Valley. In those five years, a lot has changed for the Australian. Like all of us since 2020, Corby has slowed things down and used the quiet pandemic moments as an opportunity for change, which includes slowing down the creative process to meticulously craft his next LP album. Last year’s floods in Australia, which occurred just around the time he was set to work on the record, provided another interruption. In the end, however, where obstacles existed, opportunity awaited and Everything’s Fine was born.

The LP’s first single, “Big Smoke”, is a hypnotic preview of what is to come. Corby shares how some things appear to bad, but he attributes that to being just the way they are. Underneath Corby’s wisdom is a lush and hazy blend of synthesizer and a fantastic bass line. Piano keys chime over Corby’s perfectly smoky voice. The back half of the track is exceptionally stellar with the piano hitting a little harder, massive swells of strings, and some wonderful harmony. Then Corby leaves us with some strong words:

“Taking off your glasses to stare at the sun
Just another battle that will never be won
That’s just who you are and it’s not up for debate
With every compromise a part is wasting away

There’s nothing wrong with sitting in the thick of it
When it’s all done won’t you be rid of it”

Everything’s Fine is out March 24th via Universal Music Australia, Communion Music, and Kobalt Music. Pre-orders available at these links.

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Tanukichan – “Take Care” (Oakland, USA)

RIYL: The Sundays, Blush, Galaxie 500

Hannah van Loon is less than two weeks away from the release of Tanukichan‘s long-awaited new record GIZMOIt’s their first record since 2018’s Sundays, and it’s already shaping up to be well worth the wait. Genre-defiant as ever, van Loon has served up the spacey “Don’t Give Up”, the hazy dreamscape of  “Make Believe”, and the fuzzed out ’90s alt-rocker, “Thin Air”, which featured Aramis Johnson of Enumclaw. That leaves us asking what Tanukichan will do next, and we just got our answer with “Take Care”.

“Take Care” may be the dreamiest track from GIZMO. It starts out with just a drum intro with muddy guitar chords and a clear bass line. Both sounds contrast with an acoustic guitar part that’s crystalline in its nature. Van Loon’s voice perfectly matches the vibe. There’s a roaring guitar solo over the track’s overall low-key feel, creating a tension that overwhelms the listener. While the song’s chill vibes suggest one thing, its lyrics paint another picture. Van Loon said she wrote the song when she “was feeling especially depressed”. The honesty Van Loon shares in her lyricism, the reality of those dark moments and the desire to just shut-in, make the song have even more power.

“There is a grace it’s covered just like your face
With all my dreams and all my fears
Sometimes the clouds break and everything’s ok
Now its gray, gotta get away”

van Loon’s new album, GIZMO, will be released March 3rd on Company Records. Pre-orders available at these links and on Bandcamp

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The Allegorist – “Born in the River” (Berlin, Germany)

RIYL: Nils Frahm, Phoria, Bear McCreary

For nearly a decade, composer Anna Jordan has waded into the realm of the electronic cinematic – or as she calls it, “cinematic techno” – through her project The Allegorist. Whereas Beethoven had a symphony to bring to life his compositions, Jordan’s instruments of choice are synths, keys, percussion, and occasionally electronic strings. What makes her music stand apart from the rest is her focus on connecting with nature. This might seem contradictory at first, but listening to “Born in the River” reveals how these seemingly polar opposites can coalesce.  

Jordan deftly executes a beautifully subdued and graceful arrangement. The layered vocals stream alongside the aura of organ-like keys, waves of ambient noise, and cascading percussion. The combination yields a feeling that we are gently floating down a river, surrounded by the wildlife and massive vegetation. This place is peaceful. It is tranquility. It is what this planet once was and what it ought to be again. 

“Born in the River” is taken from The Allegorist’s forthcoming, new album, TEKHENU. The LP is out May 5th via her own Awaken Chronicles label with pre-orders available on Bandcamp.

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Mastergrief – “Breaker” (Basel, Switzerland)

RIYL: Son Lux, Poliça, The Antlers

Mastergrief have a way of taking music and making it grand. Their ability to create such transformative experiences through sound is what led us to name them one of our favorite discoveries of 2022. Their blend of post-rock and art-rock is as cinematic as it is epic, as can be heard on their 2022 record, Fey. Joachim Setlik (vocals, guitar, synth), Matthias Gusset (guitar, synth, pianos), Alon Ben (drums), and Raphael Scheiwiller (bass) continue to enthrall with their latest single “Breaker”.

“Breaker” is an instant stunner. Acoustic guitar over some light piano chime and a perfect drumbeat to go with it all. Some strange noises cut through at first, but Setlik’s vocals come in and holds the harshness at bay. Setlik’s vocal performance is moving, as it effortlessly floats over the airy instrumentals. The song shifts halfway through with the bass line taking a bigger part of the spotlight. As Setlik’s voice builds, it eventually fades and is consumed in reverb and replaced by some dreamy synth. Then, with Setlik’s voice absent, a massive distorted guitar cuts through the otherwise dreamy ending. 

The single is out on Radicalis.

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Hallan – “Unwomanly Face of War” (Portsmouth, England)

RIYL: The Prodigy + Kid Kipachi + The Chemical Brothers

What makes post-punk arguably the best genre in the business? Besides the propulsive and electrical noise, the songwriting is unmatched. Every band finds inspiration for their stories in many different things – in their own experiences, the social decay of cities, the political upheaval, history, and literature. As such, one does not merely hear a post-punk track; one must listen and experience it. One of the best bands to emerge in the past three years is Hallan, who have repeatedly blown us away with their insight and intelligence. For all the great songs that Conor Clements (vocals), Joshua Tweedale (bass), Joshua Ransley (guitar), and Adam Mills (drums) have released, they may have unveiled their best in “Unwomanly Face of War”.

The song’s title is taken from Nobel Prize-winning author Svetlana Alexievich’s The Unwomanly Face of War. With Germany advancing closer to Moscow during the Second World War, women were asked to take up arms, dig into the trenches, and defend the Soviet Union. The book chronicles the experiences of hundreds of female soldiers, describing the horrors and loss they encountered on the front lines and at home. In less than five minutes, Hallan brilliantly capture what a few saw, including the Siege of Leningrad, which lasted over 900 days, and the devastation the Germans left on the Soviet Union’s western front. Clements’ songwriting is terrific, and The Prodigy-like tremble that emerges from the explosive jitteriness is the perfect accompaniment. 

“My Mumma came running to the train
She had those tears in her eyes
And that’s when I realised in the rain
That I’d never see my Mummma again

All the young ones
Piled high
European swamp
And a babies cry

A teenager that’s lived their life 50 years behind 18 year old eyes What’s it all worth?
What’s it for?
Let us fight sir
It’s our cause
We’re left behind

And we want more
All behind The Unwomanly Face of War”

Hallan’s new EP, The Noise of a Firing Gun, is our March 31st on Nice Swan Records. It should be a good one. 

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Little Misty – “Windmill” (Montreal, Canada)

RIYL: Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Mandolin Orange, Great Lake Swimmers

In 2020, Kathryn Samman (vocals) and Francois Jalbert (guitar) released the self-titled debut record for their project Little Misty. Right from the first track, the duo assembled utterly captivating folk music. Ranging from traditional folk stompers, throwback noir-pop, and even some charged guitar rockers, they proved they’re versatile and dynamic. Tying it all together was the duo’s fantastic lyricism that perfectly matched the tone of the songs. The duo are now planning to release their sophomore album, Nowhere Land, due out this April.

The first single from Little Misty’s upcoming LP is the gorgeous “Windmill”. While they do tend to stray from the formula, Little Misty’s core is deeply rooted in traditional folk music. “Windmill” shows exactly why, with its campfire-esque, finger-picked guitar, and dual vocals. Fiddle joins in during the choruses, adding even more to the lush sounds of Samman and Jalbert’s harmonies. A banjo joins in, perfectly accenting everything about the track. It then becomes a true fireside stomper when drums kick in and the fiddle goes wild with a solo. It’s a perfect encapsulation of the story Little Misty are telling, of time passing, and of the windmill turning.

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