Reflection, whether looking introspectively or into the eyes of another, the ten songs on The Matinee ’23 v. 022 reveal the power of honesty and the truth. Whether they scorch, soothe, or exhilarate, each track is powerful in the words that are spoken. 

Find these tunes on the Songs of January & February 2023 playlist. It’s available on Spotify and SoundCloud.

To go directly to the song of your choice, click on the link below.

Lady Lamb – “Between Two Trees” (Brooklyn via Maine, USA)

RIYL: Lady Lamb

Ten years have passed since Aly Spaltro released her debut album as Lady Lamb (the Beekeper), Ripely Pine. It was a powerful debut, and one of the decade’s greatest records, where Spaltro took staples of her live shows and tracks from the records she’d recorded in a DVD rental store basement and breathed new life into them. “Between Two Trees”, however, was one of the songs left behind. While it has been a staple of Spaltro’s concerts over the years, it was only officially available on Mammoth Swoon, which was self-released in 2010.

As the decade anniversary of Ripely Pine passes, Lady Lamb has released what she calls the “definitive version” of “Between Two Trees”. Hearing this version was well worth the long, long wait. The song starts like the original with Spaltro finger-picking an acoustic guitar. Strings – which are performed by Rachel Gawell Burns (cell0), Tia Ivonne Allen (viola/violin), Abby Swidler (violin/viola), and Lauren Cauley Kalal (violin) – join in, adding more to the song than its original. The combination of Spaltro, the strings, and the lyrics is haunting. While the song feels like it has a much deeper meaning, at her live shows, Spaltro shares that the song was inspired by burying her pet bird in the yard. 

“The more you give me, the more I love you
The more I love you, the less you give
Are you a predator?
Are you a huntress?
Are you just a girl?
Or are you some sort of bird?
Some bird turned lioness?

I will bury you between two trees
I will bury you with me”

The single is out on Ba Da Bing Records. This release is not the only thing Spaltro has on tap for us, so keep an eye out for more from Lady Lamb in 2023.

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Tiny Ruins – “Dorothy Bay” (Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland), New Zealand)

RIYL: Julia Jacklin, Squirrel Flower, Ada Lea

At long last, Hollie Fullbrook (vocals, guitar) and her band mates Cass Basil (bass), Alexander Freer (drums), and Tom Healy (guitar) have made it official – a new album is coming this year. And we won’t have to wait too long for Ceremony to be heard – just a little more than 2 months from now. While we try to be patient, we can be consoled in the notion that the band from Tāmaki Makraurau will release a few songs over the coming weeks. They’ve already shared the pristine “The Crab / Waterbaby”, and the other day they unveiled “Dorothy Bay”.

According to the Fullbrook, Tiny Ruins’ newest tune is a “stomper.” Those familiar with the indie-folk / folk-rock band’s output know Fullbrook’s statement is a bit tongue-in-cheek. At the same time, it is true. “Dorothy Bay” isn’t a rocker nor will it raise one’s blood pressure, but it will have folks nodding their heads and tapping their toes in time with Basil’s terrific bass line and Freer’s controlled drumming. Fullbrook’s voice, meanwhile, is light and gorgeous. She attempts to capture both the history and present of her hometown, specifically Manakau Harbour, and how its natural environment – or what’s left of it – draws her to its shores. At the same time, she’s reminded that what was may never re-appear.

“You carry on
The tide is a radar
Breathing on
Like it or not
Picks you up with her signal
Just as before
There’s a strong pull harbour-way”

Ceremony is out April 28th via Milk! Records / Marathon Artists / Ba Da Bing Records. Pre-orders are available at these links and on Bandcamp.

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Anna of the North – “Swirl” (Oslo via Innlandet, Norway)

RIYL: Yumi Zouma, TOPS, Men I Trust

A year ago, Anna of the North released her boppy new album, Crazy Life, which was a deep dive into the mind of a young woman trying to make sense of her surroundings. It was very Anna Lotterud, where through the catchy melodies she offered thoughtful stories and messages. This is a testament to Lotterud’s down-to-Earth nature and integrity because, as a big star in her native country and across Europe, she could easily take shortcuts and follow standard pop formulas. But as she proved way back in 2017, one does not need to make compromises to be heard. All one has to do is create meaningful tunes like “Swirl”.

The native of Innlandet enters the decade of the ’70s, delivering an addictive piece of psych-touched disco-pop. We feel like we are swimming within the dreamy melody, swaying and grooving to the bouncing rhythms and crystalline guitar. All the while we bask under the gleam of Lotterud’s sweet vocal, completely overcome by its warmth. Her words, though, are the polar opposite of the music’s effect. Lotterud sings about self-imposed isolation and loneliness, wondering if she can ever learn from her mistakes and accept change. And whether those close to her will accept who she is.

“Always on my own (My own)
Wondering what they do all night without me
Wondering if my friends still likе me
Anybody else feel like me?”

Anna of the North may be a star, but she’s just like you and me. She’s a down-to-Earth star.

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Dolores Forever – “When I Say So” (Yorkshire, England and Copenhagen, Denmark)

RIYL: HAIM, Wet Leg, early Warpaint

By now, most music fans know who Wet Leg are, the indie band that surprised nearly everyone (including themselves) by winning two Grammy Awards. If you’re looking to see who could experience a similar meteoric rise, look no further than Dolores Forever.

Late in 2022, friends Hannah Wilson (from Yorkshire, England) and Julia Fabrin (from Copenhagen, Denmark) released their debut EP, Conversations with Strangers, which showcased the duo’s ability to create cathartic euphoria paired with relatable stories. It also revealed a band that must be closely watched. Building on the momentum of their first record and to grab more people’s attention, they share one awesome tune in “When I Say So”.

This isn’t just another pop tune. On the contrary, it’s an art-pop anthem with attitude, as pulsating rhythms and edgy keys drive this dizzying number. Wilson’s and Fabrin’s vocals, too, have grit to them, as they directly confront a higher being, telling this entity that they are in charge. They will not allow someone or something dictate their futures and their fates. As they brilliantly share:

“Finding my feet, not seen them in a while
Picking up speed, yeah, I run a minute mile
Head in the deep, nothing to reconcile
I’m not rеady

(Ooh-ooh-ooh) Who the hell decidеd?
Run until the sun like you know where the light is
(Ooh-ooh-ooh) Why are you excited?
No, it won’t be fun if you fail to invite it”

The single is out on Sweat Entertainment (or just SweatEnt). This duo’s potential is enormous.

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “Nadja” (Palm Springs & Portland, USA and Auckland, New Zealand)

RIYL: Unknown Mortal Orchestra on the down low

While the world paused back in 2020, Ruban Nielson’s world stopped earlier than that. Reading the notes attached to Unknown Mortal Orchestra‘s forthcoming new album, V, the combination of self-reflection, constant touring leading to burn out, homesickness, and an illness to a key family figure caused Nielson to slow down. The pandemic gave the New Zealander more time to address his mental health and assess his situation. It also provided him with the space to create, which explains why the band have released a handful of singles since 2018’s Sex and Food, and why V is a double album and will be a treasure trove of great music.

Lead single, “Layla”, hinted at a more subdued yet endearing UMO. The latest track from Ruban Nielson, Jacob Portrait, and Kody Nielson is equally superb and embracing. Soft drums, a low bass hum, and a dangling guitar line set the serene atmosphere on “Nadja”. Nielson’s falsetto is, as usual, tender and warm. It quivers with emotion, as if he is recounting his own search for stability and meaning. And Ruban just might be since he’s encountered his share of loss and uncertainty.

“Nadja baby
Found a strand of your hair and ate it
Couldn’t throw away this thing you left behind
Love’s half-life
Evaporates like water in the blood

Feelin’ homesick I just stepped out of the room
Crackin’ up about this lonely afternoon
Hang around a while
You’re bound to forget your promise”

Pre-orders for V ahead of its March 17th release on Jagjaguwar can be made on Bandcamp and at these links

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Shame – “Adderall” (London, England)

RIYL: Iceage; Fontaines D.C.; Black Country, New Road

Shame have been on an incredible ride for the past five years. Like some of their genre brethren, the post-punk / art-punk collective have released one incredible album after another – 2018’s Songs of Praise and 2021’s Drunk Tank Pink. Charlie Steen, Eddie Green, Charlie Forbes, Josh Finerty, and Sean Coyle-Smith cannot do anything wrong, and they’re only getting better with time. As such, the band has not reached its peak, not even after releasing two fantastic songs in “Fingers of Steel”  and the frenetic “Six-Pack”, which are the lead singles for their forthcoming new LP, Food for Worms. As great as those tunes are, the quintet hit another level with their latest number. 

“Adderall” just might be Shame’s masterpiece. It is an emotional roller coaster that thrills, jars, and crushes, and we tightly hold on to every second, every note, and every word. The opening stanza is melancholic and restrained with Steen’s brittle voice set over sparse instrumentation. This lasts for about 20 seconds before the guitar, bass, and drums burst, and then the track returns to its original sobering tone. It does not stay in this scenario for long, as the song’s latter half is a tidal wave of raw, gripping emotion. The tone represents one person encouraging another to persevere and overcome the challenges in front of and within her. And Shame will be there to help her do this. 

“And I know it’s not the same,
I know it’s not a choice.
You open up the doors
Then you hear another voice.

As you say that it’s fine,
That word you use all the time.
That you don’t need to quit,
You’ll just handle it.”

Simply outstanding. We’ll probably utter these same words next Friday, February 24th, which is when  Dead Oceans will release Food for Worms. Pre-order it at these links and on Bandcamp

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L CON – “Heimatot” (Toronto via Guelph, Canada)

RIYL: Agnes Obel, Jenny Hval, Portishead

Visit any city on the planet, and you will find artists who are known only to those immersed in the local music scene. They are the innovators, the hidden gems that push music forward and eventually create a movement. Punk, krautrock, rap, hip-hop, shoegaze, blues, post-punk, techno, folk, EDM – you name it and they started at the grassroots level before gaining mainstream traction. One day, orchestral electronica will similarly explode because of the brilliant minds and leaders like Lisa Conway.

As L CON, Conway is Toronto’s equivalent to Agnes Obel and Jenny Hval – artists who are able to perceive music as a mixture of vivid art, virtuous theatre, and captivating sound. Her music, as such, is truly a multi-sensory experience to get lost in, such as “Heimatot”.

A sparse, spatial synth probes behind Conway’s soft voice, who recites how she vulnerably positions herself. A piano emerges while strings and a flute later enter, heightening the drama, mystery, and uneasiness in the air. As Conway paints an evocative scene, her vocal hardly wavers, retaining its lush, haunting quality throughout. Consequently, the track elicits a Jordan Peele-like chill, where behind each note and lyric we anxiously wait something to jump out. Nothing does but our minds are left wondering and wandering at what awaits. 

“My mother told me there’s a place
if I’m not enough, I’ll be enough
Maybe the valley knows my name
eagle standing tough
Blood is blood is blood”

Conway’s new album, The Isolator, will be released May 10th on Idée Fixe Records. Pre-orders available on Bandcamp and the label’s store.

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Futureheaven – “Tides” (Sydney, Australia)

RIYL: My Bloody Valentine, Ringo Deathstarr, ‘Infinite Granite’-era Deafheaven

The genre that refuses to die has countless number of lives, and right now shoegaze has achieved a level of popularity not seen since in three decades. Numerous bands reviving the late-’80s and early-’90s have emerged over the past five years, and we’re loving it, particularly when they can capture the cosmic gauziness of My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins. It, therefore, should come to no surprise that we are infatuated with Aussie outfit Futureheaven, who take us on an epic joyride through the cosmos with “Tides”.

Throughout the song’s 190-second duration, the band lavishes listeners with glorious, reverb-drenched guitars; booming and stuttering rhythms; and otherworldly vocals. Not only does this tune take us hurtling through the blackness of space, but it also sends us to Dublin 1987. It’s like we are witnessing MBV for the first time – or in this case the legendary band being reborn on the other side of the world. Birdie’s words, too, indicate a battle with time, and determining whether to leave the comforts of yesteryear and test the uncertain waters of the future. For a band that is reviving the past to carve out its future path, her words and the band’s entire approach seem a little ironic yet completely appropriate.

Futureheaven are Birdie (vocals), Charlie (guitar, vocals), Giles (guitar), Kit (bass), and Harry (drums). Their debut EP is expected later this year.

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Erika Wester – “goodbye let’s meet again” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Many Voices Speak, Liza Anne, Faye Webster

Upon hearing “fifteen” last October, we exclaimed that Erika Wester could be America’s next great star. Her sound instantly reminded us of a movement and neighborhood that are synonymous with Los Angeles and with some of the greatest songwriters of their time: Laurel Canyon. It was a youthful throwback of a track, and she’s back with “goodbye let’s meet again”.

“goodbye let’s meet again” has even more reasons to exclaim Wester is the next big thing. The lyrics are relatable from the start – the ending of a relationship, friendships fading, and missing the little things. While it paints a sad picture, the combination of Wester’s voice, its sunny guitar, and perfectly paced drumming provide a warmth in those sad farewells. Wester’s ability to capture the nostalgic vibes of looking back at a relationship with the complex feelings of longing but also feeling it was worth it is exactly what makes her such a compelling songwriter.

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Cat Gold – “Marry Me Mio” (Stockholm, Sweden)

RIYL: James Blake, José González, Volcano Choir

Last week, David Wikberg released his project Cat Gold‘s debut record, Surgery. When the record began to take shape, which occurred during long quiet nights in Sweden while recovering from foot surgery, Wikberg didn’t expect anyone would hear his songs. Thankfully, they’ve seen the light of day in the form of 10 beautiful and atmospheric tracks rooted in the stillness of the time and place they were captured. Despite it being his solo debut, Wikberg has been part of the Stockholm music scene for over a decade, working with Shout Out Louds and Thomas Stenström among many others.

There are many fantastic tracks to be found on Surgery – from the electronic spaces of “Jail Window Eyed” to a version of Elliott Smith’s “I Didn’t Understand”. Where Wikberg is at his most undeniable is on the record’s second track, “Marry Me Mio”. The song eases listeners in with some distant piano. Wikberg’s voice grabs attention immediately, slicing through the piano chords and eventually joined by some lush harmonies. Then things go to some soaring heights, as the piano becomes crystal clear, strings envelope the ivories, and electronic percussion add a layer of mystery. The harmonies, meanwhile, are simply incredible. The song comes to close with an incredible swell of sounds, woodwinds, modulated voices, and Wikberg still finding more heights to soar.

Surgery is out now and available on Bandcamp or get it at these links.


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