The Matinee ’23 v. 027 features seven songs that can be described as considerate – each one either reaching out to those in need of a hand or diving deep into one’s soul to reveal uncomfortable truths. They are evidence as to why the best music today is indie. 

Additional thoughtful tunes can be heard on the second half of our March 3rd doubleheader, which is available here. Also be sure to follow the Songs of March and April 2023 on Spotify and SoundCloud to hear what we’ll be spinning these next two months. 

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

Gordi – “Broke Scene” (Sydney / Canowindra, Australia)

RIYL: JFDR + Big Red Machine + Phoebe Bridgers

Sophie Payten can set aside the scrubs, but her training as an emergency doctor is still very evident through her project, Gordi. On pretty much ever song Payten has released, she is constantly looking outwards, seeking to understand what troubles her friends and family as well as strangers. This is why she’s one of our all-time favorites – an individual who not only sounds like a great human but is one. The artist from the historic township of Canowindra once again extends her arms and offers a lifeline to everyone who has fallen with “Broke Scene”.

A beautifully arranged piano tickles beneath the throbbing drum machine, the reverb-tinged guitar, and a stunning layer of synth. Payten’s hushed vocal sits on this gorgeous, fleeting melody. It is full of contemplation and concern, as she seeks to help someone find the answers to the many things that trouble their mind. Her words are touching and moving as is her unrelenting desire to help.

“Why do you keep burning your house down?
Can you see you’re burning your house down?

Do you find it hard to look at me?
Build a one-way door frame
Isn’t it lonely?
All the grit to which you cannot cling
What if everything feels suddenly like nothing?”

The single is out on Jagjaguwar. Here’s hoping that a follow-up to Two Skins is coming this year.

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Portugal. The Man – “Dummy” (Portland, OR via Wasilla, AK USA)

RIYL: Danger Mouse + Yeah Yeah Yeahs + Phoenix

For about ten years, John Baldwin Gourley, Zach Carothers, Kyle O’Quin, Jason Sechrist, Eric Howk, and Zoe Manville worked non-stop to turn Portugal. The Man from an underground, indie favorite to a band that sees their name near the top of festival posters. After releasing Woodstock in 2017, the Alaskans took a timeout – and a long one at that. Although they released a couple of songs since then, they’ve largely been idle. The break, though, seems to have reinvigorated the quintet, who return to their indie origins on “Dummy”.

While the band has the backing of a major label, Portugal. The Man’s latest number is far from the typical commercial stuff on the radio. At first, it might seem like a tune made for dance floors; however, it is much more. It might be sleek, groovy, and catchy, but an eerie tone is heard deep in the track thanks to the shallow, bouncing bass and terrific piano arrangement, which drive the song. You might find yourself dancing like the ghouls and goblins in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video, and Gourley’s words has a similar effect.

Most will gravitate to the catchy chorus of: One two three four / Everybody get on the dance floor / Five six seven eight / It’s four AM and I’m wide awake.” Listen more closely and Gourley shares how he feels he’s losing control of his life. How his life is teetering on the edge. His opening lines are terrific:

“My religion is
A piano hanging over my head about to break free
And I see it moving
Gotta pick up the groove and let go
Everyone I know
Is running from the afterlife”

PTM’s new album, Chris Black Changed My Life, is out June 23rd via Atlantic Records. Pre-orders available at these links

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Mandy, Indiana – “Pinking Shears” (Manchester, England)

RIYL: The C.I.A. + Nine Inch Nails + Battles

Is there another band like Mandy, Indiana? Trying to find comparables is nearly impossible since their music is difficult to categorize or even describe. Industrial post-punk is the only descriptor we could come up with, but that still does not do justice to their varied approach. Take, for instance, the steely mind warp, “Injury Detail”. Maybe all that we need to say is Valentine Caulfield (vocals), Scott Fair (guitar, production), Simon Catling (synth), and Alex Macdougall (drums) create mind-blowing experiences, and they’ll soon have heads exploding when their long-awaited debut album, i’ve seen a way, is released in a couple of months. As is the case with any record announcement, the trio share the LP’s newest tune, which is more of the same.

By that we mean “Pinking Shears” is another face-melting number. Hollow, electric drums and an over-driven, Ty Segall-esque guitar sear through the seizing synths and electronics. The approach is like a techno tune ripped through multiple waves of distortion. In between the ripples lies Caulfield’s hypnotic vocal. Singing once again in her native French, the Parisienne emphatically explains how she’s tired of all the bullshit in this world, particularly by the re-inventers of the truth. Mandy, Indiana, meanwhile, are reinventing how we perceive and experience music. 

Pre-orders for i’ve seen a way ahead of its out May 19th release can be made here and on Bandcamp. It will be distributed on Fire Talk Records.

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boygenius – “Not Strong Enough” (Los Angeles, Memphis & Richmond, USA)

RIYL: Lucy Dacus + Phoebe Bridgers + Julien Baker

Not only is boygenius’ The Record one of the most anticipated albums of 2023, it’s one of the most anticipated albums in recent memory. Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus have all made cases to be considered among the greatest contemporary songwriters, and together they all lift each other’s powerful words to immeasurable new levels. That’s impressive in its own right, as many super-groups seem to fall short of expectations. But with their debut boygenius EP, the trio delivered some of their best work. For instance, “Me & My Dog” is an absolute masterpiece. That trend has continued in the build up for their first full-length after the group released the first three singles, “$20”, “Emily I’m Sorry”, and “True Blue”.

Whereas these first tracks as well as their previous EP felt like a specific member’s distinctive style, “Not Strong Enough” blends all three songwriters’ approaches perfectly. The song was penned by Bridgers, but its title and lyrics are inspired by Sheryl Crow’s “Strong Enough”. Bridgers, Baker, and Dacus each take turns in the spotlight with Bridgers first at bat. Baker follows, and she sets it up for Dacus to take things in for a huge landing. The tune has such a complex and huge sound to it – from the harmonies, to a huge drum build, to some fantastic synth sounds, and Baker taking her turn to scream. It’s a perfect companion to the defeated lyrics, focusing on self-hatred that sometimes affects the ability to connect with the ones we truly care about, even if it’s not true.

“The way I am
not strong enough to be your man
I lied, I am
just lowering your expectations.
Half a mind that keeps the other second guessing.
Close my eyes and count.”

The Record will be fully unveiled on March 31st via Dead Oceans. Pre-orders are available at these links.

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Arlo Parks – “Impurities” (London, England)

RIYL: Sault, Joy Crookes, Aaliyah

If Arlo Parks continues to release one outstanding song after another while building on her sensational debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams, she likely will be acknowledged as a legend before she hits 30 years of age and mentioned alongside Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu. The young Londoner, who is still just 22 years old, is a gift from the music heavens. Not only does she envelop listeners with her smooth R&B, alt-pop, and electro-pop vibes but also with her considerate words. So when she sings, “I’ll radiate like the stars” on her newest single, “Impurities”, we believe it.

We believe Parks’ words apply to her and us, too. As her distant guitar rings with touches of the Far East and hip-hop beats pulse softly in front, Parks’ gentle and immersive vocal is touched with introspection and sincerity. Her lyrics seem like a message to her younger self as well as to the people who have accepted her for all that she is. Calmly she sings, “When you embrace all my impurities (x3) / And I feel clean again.” But in our minds, Parks has never failed us, and her “impurities” are why she’s one of the finest singer-songwriters to arrive in the past three years.

Pre-orders for Parks’ sophomore album, My Soft Machine, are available at these links. It releases May 26th via Transgressive and includes last month’s single, “Weightless”.

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Far Caspian – “Arbitrary Task” (Leeds, England)

RIYL: Wallows, Dick Diver, Day Wave

“Melanjolly” is not a term that exists in the English vernacular, not even in the UK. It’s a term that Joel Johnston, the mastermind of Far Caspian, has coined in order to describe his band’s surfy-brand of pop. And truly, Far Caspian’s songs elicit the emotion that are conveyed in the made-up-word – feelgood vibes necessary to celebrate the weekend. So get ready to set aside the name tag, peel off the work attire, and dance with “Arbitrary Task”

This tight, little number bursts out of the gates with hip-shaking, head-bopping energy. The sound that emerges is, well, made for the seaside, where we simultaneously enjoy the sunshine and the ocean breezes. Johnston’s voice, speaking of which, is breezy, calmly drifting alongside the jangly goodness of his electric guitar. While the music may be energizing, Johnston’s words are reflective and revealing. He opens up about his chaotic life seemingly being on repeat, and all he wants to do is hit pause (but don’t hit pause to this catchy number).

“Find me, ‘til I can’t fall down
Slow speed ahead, the breeze
In a way it feels nice
And the days go by

Stop in life alone
Read and write alone
Days, never much to say
But it”

The single is out on Dance to the Radio. An album likely is on the way (or we can hope it is). 

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Annie Blackman – “Ash” (Montclair, NJ USA)

RIYL: Squirrel Flower, Dana Gavanski, Jenny O

New Jersey has spawned some of the greatest songwriters of any generation. Whether it’s The Boss or Sharon Van Etten, there’s something about the Garden State that makes the music that comes out of it resonate with people far outside of its borders. The next great songwriter from the state may be Montclair’s Annie Blackman. She’s been making music of her own for a while, writing songs since her high school days to releasing her debut record, All of It, last year. Even in those early days, Blackman was able to capture something stirring.

Blackman’s latest single, “Ash”, was inspired by a bad date with an introvert. The track starts out gorgeously with a finger-picked guitar and some ambient guitar. Then Blackman is bluntly honest with her date. The song doesn’t move too much from there, as Blackman plays those moments and feelings back in her head while occasional slide guitar, piano, and a hint of drums come in. While Blackman makes sure to call the date a “nice guy”, she also makes her point:

“Oh no
The living rooms on fire
Wait until
It settles into ash
My asbestos-cut confessional
Out loud to you at last

Blackman will have the last word on April 28th, which is when her new EP, Bug, will be released on Father/Daughter Records. Pre-order it on Bandcamp or over here

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