Honesty, spirituality, and understanding – these are the main themes expressed on The Matinee ’23 v. 025, which features nine sensational tracks. These tunes also anchor the Songs of January & February 2023 playlist, which includes nearly 14 hours of unforgettable music. It is available on Spotify or SoundCloud.

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

Ritual Forms – “Bury Me” (London, England)

RIYL: Boy Harsher, Ritual Howls, A.A. Williams

In December of last year, trip-hop trio Sykoya re-emerged under a new alias – Ritual Forms. The name change was associated with a new sound, one that was starker and more sinister. “Dreaming” and “Down”, for instance, weren’t exactly breathtaking, but they were still hypnotic. For their second single of 2023 – and third overall under the new moniker – Anna Marcella, Curtis ElVidge, and Joe Cross crawl deeper into our minds and, as the song title denotes, “Bury Me”.

Post-punk flourishes mesh with the trio’s uneasy trip-hop, creating the music made for narrow, dark corridors. The air here is still and nearly suffocating, just like Marcella’s disquieting but alluring vocal. Around her, reverb-drenched guitar, unsettling rhythms, and searing synths burst. They electrify the atmosphere in this claustrophobic place, but instead of trying to escape we remain. We move to every spark while becoming immersed in Marcella’s literally gripping story.

“Bury Me in your arms
I promise I won’t hurt you
Consume my soul
I promise I won’t let you go
Don’t crawl away
into the earth is where we’ll stay
I’ll promise you
I promise I wont let us fade away”

Ritual Forms’ debut album, Nighttime Economy, is out March 2nd.

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Hannah Jadagu – “What You Did” (New York via Mesquite, TX USA)

RIYL: Fazerdaze, Kississippi, Girlpool

It doesn’t take a list like Artists to Watch or Most Anticipated Albums to realize that Hannah Jadagu will be a star. It’s something that was even present on her early releases, where were recorded, mixed, and produced completely on her iPhone. Her vision in the early days showed an unapologetic approach to songwriting,while taking advantage of even the most basic tools and turning her music into something that felt important. Late last year, Jadagu released the melancholic yet electric “Say It Now”, which we were hoping was a sign a new record was on the way. Thankfully, Jadagu has announced her debut LP, Aperture, will be out this May on Sub Pop. We can’t think of a more fitting label for such a creative songwriter.

With the big announcement comes the record’s second single, “What You Did”. The song starts out as a total barn-burner with a big of amplifier hum erupting into a wall of guitar noise. It quickly loosens its grip to give Jadagu’s voice the spotlight over some low-key guitar work. Between verses, the song returns to that volcanic sound, along with roaring bass and heavy handed drumming. Jadagu’s creativity remains unrestrained – at times the songs breaks down to nothing or she adds some unexpected immense layers of synth. The confidence she has to try these things pays off in a big way, making “What You Did” an incredible, dynamic track that only makes Aperture more of an anticipated release than it already was.

“Say your favorite line
Choose your words just right
I know what you did
Hey, did you even try?
Took my name to sway my mind
I know what you did”

Aperture is out May 19th on Sub Pop. Pre-order it here and on Bandcamp.

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Declan Welsh & The Decadent West – “King of My Head” (Glasgow via East Kilbride, Scotland)

RIYL: Temples + ‘Zooropa’-era U2 + Arctic Monkeys

If this was 1995, Declan Welsh & The Decadent West would be mentioned as the heirs to U2’s throne – a group with the potential to be the best band in the world (although U2 anointed themselves as that). In their decade-plus, Declan Welsh (vocals, guitar), Duncan McBride (guitar), Ben Corlett (bass), and Murray Noble (drums) have covered much of the rock landscape, delivering savage shoegaze, energetic Brit pop-rock, and anthemic rockers. These Scots were made to play in the biggest stadiums in the world, where they can whip the 80,000+ audience into a frenzy or, as in the case of “King of My Head”, into a delirious spell. 

A wall of hazy noise swirls on the newest single from the band’s forthcoming, sophomore album, 2. Slicing through the keys and sizzling electric guitar is Noble’s steady but magnetic drumming. It keeps us cemented in our place, preventing our bodies and minds from entering the delirium that McBride, Corlett, and Welsh try to induce. Welsh’s words, too, describe how we often live in places outside of reality. With a delivery like a mid-career Bono, he sings about how we fool ourselves in believing that we’re in control of our destinies. That the voice inside our minds is of our own but is it? Listen closely and this tune could be considered the flip side to “Numb”, which The Edge wrote. 

2 will be released September 22nd on Frictionless Music. Pre-orders available on their website (see below). 

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Public Body – “No Constraint” (Brighton, England)

RIYL: Yard Act, Opus Kink, Folly Group

To count all the great bands coming for jolly old England likely would take months. Forget strawberries and cream and toad in the hole, England’s best export lies in its music. Among them are Public Body, who are part of a new generation of artists and bands adding energy and creativity to a scene often defined by the mega-labels. When they shared “Break From Life” last October, the song was just a hint of their creative mania, and they go the extra mile on “No Constraint”.

Post-punk meets new wave on this buzz-saw, which is 182-seconds of non-stop, off-kilter energy. The bubbling and bustling synth-work is reminiscent of Talking Heads in their heyday while the bouncing bass line and the dangling guitar lines have a Gang of Four vibe – but amped up several beats. While the patrons may be dancing to the bombastic energy of the track, front-person Seb Gilmore’s vocal is more reserved and even defiant. “No constraint nor self-aware / Put your head in your hands / Sat at the bottom of the stairs,” he sings, describing how anxiety and depression can paralyze us. How they consume our every being and prevent us from enjoying the finer things in life, like this great tune. 

Public Body are: Seb Gilmore (vocals), Theo Verney (guitar), Joe Stevens (bass), and Thom Mills (drums). The quartet’s debut album, Big Mess, will be released on June 9th via FatCat Records. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.

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quinnie – “promised” (New York City, USA)

RIYL: Clairo, Beabadoobee, Dominik Fike

Quinn Barnitt is an artist who is taking an approach that may be the blueprint for artists in the future. A TikTok star, the artist simply known as quinnie has shared much of her songwriting process through the social media platform. This approach engages fans in a way few artists can, and, in the process, leads to a larger audience. In 2019, quinnie released a fantastic EP called gold star, which had some brutally honest songwriting paired with immersive bedroom folk and pop tracks. To anyone who’s heard that EP or follows her on TikTok knows one thing to be certain: quinnie’s words are powerful.

The debut album for quinnie was just released in the form of flounder. The LP features some truly heavy hitters, including the opening track, “man”, to the folky distortion on “get what you get”. Meanwhile, “promised” guides the record in for its landing, and it does so brilliantly.

The track starts out simple with Barnitt singing over some heavy-handed guitar strumming and some ambient electronics. The song slowly builds and shifts from there, at times turning acoustic with some muted percussion and strings. Once the song hits its stride, it becomes something massive with layers of guitar, vocals fading into a dreamscape, and even some plucky folky solos. “promised” comes to an end after transitioning to a hypnotic and beautiful combination of Barnitt’s voice, guitar, piano, and distant percussion. It’s a perfect way to set the listener up for the two tracks that close the record.

Barnitt’s debut album, flounder, is out now on Columbia Records. Get it on Bandcamp and stream it at the usual sites.

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T. G. Shand – “Fatwood” (Christchurch, New Zealand)

RIYL: Hatchie + Miss Grit + Tanukichan

Annemarie Duff’s music as T. G. Shand always has been dreamy. Her sound can be described as lying between the breathtaking oases of Mazzy Starr and the chilled romanticism of Lush or Slowdive. And the Christchurch-based artist does this as a one-person band and creating music out of her home studio. Imagine if Duff started a new band with the support of a label? Such a day may still come, but in the meantime we’ll get to appreciate her talents on every single she releases, which happens about every three or so months. For the first of what we hope is many in 2023, she slightly changes tactics. 

Besides her lithe, intimate voice, the star of most Duff’s songs is a gauzy, crystalline guitar. On “Fatwood”, however, the guitar mostly rumbles, giving the song an unexpected, light intensity. The approach makes it seem that Jack White is on lead guitar and experimenting with the pedals and what effects would match the dreamy melody. Occasionally, the shoegaze sound emerges, but mostly the shallow growl of the guitar offers the contrast to Duff’s voice. And the execution is terrific, as we still somehow, some way get lost in this track. We feel like we’re sitting on the sands of Sumner Beach at twilight while a bonfire burns in front of us. Kind of like what Duff sings:

“Studded echo and lines like
Wick in whisky the firesteel
We get to strike it like

Fatwood Keresene
We soften it like
Ferro rod on blossom out of spite
Holding up for a light
We soften it like
Fatwood Keresene ”

T. G. Shand’s new EP, Cinnamon, is expected in the middle of 2023. More news to come. 

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Zoon – “Manitou” (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)

RIYL: Sigur Ros, Phoria, Fog Lake

Every Zoon song is a spiritual experience, which is unsurprising given Daniel Monkman draws inspiration from their indigenous heritage. Their moniker even denotes this attachment, as Zoon is short for Zoongide’ewin, which means “the Bear spirit” in the Ojibway language. Monkman, though, does not stay in the past. Like Katherine Paul (a.k.a. Black Belt Eagle Scout), they unite the past with the present, which allows younger generations and non-Aboriginal individuals to learn and appreciate the history of Canada’s First Peoples. On “Manitou”, Zoon has crafted an experience that is beyond ethereal.

The song is gorgeous. It is delivered with immense patience, where each and every element – whether it is the weeping strings, the trembling percussion, the lithe acoustic guitar, or the ambient waves of synths and electronics – sends chills down our spine. Monkman’s voice hovers above the sonic waves, and they share how they have surrendered to “Manitou”, which is the life force that exists around us. For some, Manitou might be the Creator, it might be the land that we live on, or it might be ourselves. 

Paper Bag Records will release Zoon’s new album, Bekka Ma’iingan, on June 19th. Pre-order it at the label’s store and Bandcamp.

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Foyer Red – “Plumbers Unite!” (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: Deerhoof + Squid + Rubblebucket

Our introduction to Foyer Red was some 14 months ago with “Blood”, at which time they were a trio. Since then, Elana Riordan (vocals, clarinet), Marco Ocampo (drums), and Mitch Myers (guitar, vocals) have added Kristina Moore (guitar, vocals) and Eric Jaso (bass) to their ranks. The strange yet inviting sounds of Zigzag Wombat, the EP that “Blood” is from, showed so much potential to create truly compelling music. The addition of the new members has added even more depth and unpredictability to their sound, and it’s absolutely perfect on their newest single “Plumbers Unite!”

“Plumbers Unite” starts in a way that immediately draws in listeners. A groovy bassline, some strange guitar, and weird tones as Riordian repeats two simple words, “Cherry Collect!” Those words are inspired by those simple tasks of video games when Riordian was younger. The track draws parallels from the side-scrollers of that era to the feeling of running in place. What doesn’t stay in one place is the song, building and building towards a huge moment with layers of guitar, omnichord, a ton of voices and even some yelling before it all goes back to those attractively weird tones that kicked it all off. What a fun ride!

The band’s debut album, Yarn the Hours Away, will be released May 19th on Carpark Records. Pre-orders and pre-saves available at these links and on Bandcamp.

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Neev – “Fast Patterns” (London, England via Glasgow, Scotland)

RIYL: Lucy Rose, Deep Sea Diver, Fenne Lily

On April 28th, Neev – the project of Niamh Katherine Downes – may well end up releasing one of the year’s finest records when she drops her debut album, Katherine. In 2019, Neev released her first single, “Burning to Dust”, and each single that followed felt like something special. Neev’s ability to bring humanity to her songs really feels like something she does in a way few artists can. She’s also shown she can go from acoustic heart-wrenchers to throwback pop tracks to some of the most stirring folk music we’ve heard in years.

That humanity is exemplified with Neev’s most recent single, “Fast Patterns”, which was written from the point of view of an imperfect friend. It’s a story of not being there in the darker moments for someone. While the folk instrumentation of guitar, brushed drums, and some banjo is gorgeous, the big star is Neev’s voice. The song’s powerful words are amplified by her delivery. It’s smooth and calming at moments, drenched in gorgeous harmony. Other times, it’s hitting its limit, shaking in a way that only adds more punch to the emotional tone of the song. 

Katherine will be released later this year on Trapped Animal Records.

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