With the deluge of new music in advance of SXSW, we’re offering another doubleheader of new music. The nine songs on The Matinee ’23 v. 032 address connections, specifically how long do we hold on to them and at what point do we let go. 

To go directly to a song, click on the track in the list below. Please note that with Rich still on holidays and the numerous songs to cover, the descriptions are tighter.

For The Matinee ’23 v. 033 – or Part 2 for March 10th – click this link. All 18 tracks have been added to The Songs of March and April 2023 playlist, which can be streamed on Spotify and SoundCloud

Christine and the Queens – “To Be Honest” (Paris, France)

RIYL: a song that silences all the noise

Christine and the Queens have perfected the skill of stopping people in their tracks with their music. Take their rousing rendition of George Michael’s “Freedom”, which is among the best covers of all-time. The Chris Letissier-fronted band also can leave music fans in a state of complete and utter awe with their jaws on the floor and knees buckled, as they do on “To Be Honest”.

No adjectives exist to describe the beauty and power of this number. It is somber in its tone at first yet draws us in with its dreamy urgency. At the center of the light electronic beats and synths lies Letissier’s sensational voice. It is delicate, almost brittle, but it shines brightly. He sings with the gentle power that comes with being able to freely express oneself. To live the life that one was born to have.  

“And I’ve been through so much
That sometimes it feels far
It is like a movie
Played by another star
She’s a stranger
To be honest (to be honest)

Now I’m sitting alone
And I’m trying to listen
To the stories that could
Make mine a little softer, and fine
To be honest

Christine and the Queens’ new album, PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE, will be released June 9th via Because Music. Pre-order it here or grab it on Bandcamp. If “To Be Honest” is a sign of things to come, the LP will be among the year’s very best. 

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Bleach Lab – “Indigo” (London via Buckinghamshire, England)

RIYL: ’90s dream-pop made for the 2020s

Plenty of great bands have emerged in the last half-decade, and Bleach Lab are near the very top. They are a blend of The Sundays and The Cranberries, making ’90s-influenced dream-pop for the 2020s. Last year’s If You Only Feel It Once EP, for instance, could have formed half of the Reality Bites soundtrack. They similarly kick off the year in delivering a song that easily could be made for a coming-of-age film from 1995 or 2023. 

“Indigo” is Bleach Lab at their shimmering and dreamiest best. The dangling, crystalline guitar and the steady rhythms are right out of the greatest decade in music, and the melody sends us on a dizzying ride. The effect matches the thoughts that race through Jenna Kyle’s mind, as she, through her usual stunning voice, examines how to navigate a challenging relationship. Does she stay with him and ignore his destructive tendencies or move on? It’s a question made right out of the movies.

Bleach Lab are: Jenna Kyle (vocals), Josh Longman (bass), Frank Wates (guitar), and Kieran Weston (drums). The single is out Nettwerk Music Group

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Caroline Rose – “Tell Me What You Want” (Burlington, VT and New York City, USA)

RIYL: honest indie-rock from an artist who wears her heart on her sleeves

Much of Caroline Rose‘s early music was playful and possessed a self-deprecating humor. It also was extremely honest, where the native of Vermont openly shared her thoughts, emotions, and fears. Her forthcoming, new album, The Art Of Forgetting, is shaping to be her most revealing, as she addresses love, heartbreak, and identity on previously-released singles “Love / Lover / Friend” , “Miami”, and “The Doldrums”. Rose continues down this introspective journey on “Tell Me What You Want”.

A toe-tapping, indie-rock groove permeates across the track, which dips and dives at various points only to be occasionally interrupted by a ripping, over-driven guitar riff. The song’s peaks and valleys mimic Rose’s feelings for another. Through her powerful vocal (this might be Rose’s best vocal performance to date), she introspectively examines her role in the dissipation of a relationship while also asking what more she could have done. Her words hit hard because they are ones we’ve likely used many times before. 

“I’m an actor ‘cuz I’m scared
And I’m fully unprepared for this
Are you trying
Trying to kill me?
I’ll block out all the signs
Let’s give this one more try
I just can’t bear to lose you”

The Art Of Forgetting is out March 24 on New West Records. Pre-order it here or go directly to Bandcamp.

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Beach Fossils – “Don’t Fade Away” (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: jangly surf-rock that leaves you in a gaze

And Beach Fossils are finally back! Nearly six years have passed since the Brooklyn quartet released Somersault, and since then they have largely been quiet other than touring with Wild Nothing and releasing renditions of previously-released and unreleased material. However, it was only a matter of time that one of the early pioneers of dreamy surf-rock would return. It just took longer than thought, and we’re reminded why the Dustin Payseur-led outfit remain indie giants. 

“Don’t Fade Away” features the familiar, jangly guitar and the ocean-like vibes that long have defined Beach Fossils’ material. And it’s a sensation that is both unforgettable and one we hope will endure for ages. The track also highlights Payseur’s vivid songwriting, where he discusses how he coped with losing a friend. “Out on tour just finished this pack of cigarettes / And I don’t even smoke,” he openly shares at the start. And later he admits to “riding my bike in the morning / I’m still hungover / Is this a meaningful moment?” 

Whether Payseur has answered this question is unknown, but for us “Don’t Fade Away” indeed presents a meaningful moment. 

Beach Fossils are: Dustin Payseur (vocals, guitar), Tommy Davidson (guitar), Jack Doyle Smith (bass), and Anton Hochheim (drums). Their new album, Bunny, arrives June 2nd via Payseur’s own Bayonet Records with pre-orders here and on Bandcamp.

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Protomartyr – “Make Way” (Detroit, USA)

RIYL: post-punk that enters brooding psych-country-western territories

Post-punk legends Protomartyr have developed a reputation for filtering post-punk through a noise-rock prism. Joe Casey, Greg Ahee, Alex Leonard, and Scott Davidson’s music can be intense and jolting, leaving those in their songs’ wake trembling. On the first song from their forthcoming sixth album, Formal Growth in the Desert, the quartet adopt a slightly different tone.

Still trembling in its effect, “Make Way” sees Protomartyr enter the the deserts of America’s southwest. Psychedelic-tinged country-western vibes trickle throughout with the steel guitar hovering beneath the plodding, occasionally thunderous rhythms. Casey’s baritone is heavier, sounding like a lonely gunman on the hunt for vengeance. He walks, however, in  “the haunted Earth / the living afterlife”, seeking “the death-filled rider” who took away his life and livelihood. He is coming to reclaim his tomorrow in this other dimension. 

Simply a great track, which we hope is the first chapter to a widescreen concept album. Speaking of which, Formal Growth in the Desert, is out June 2nd via Domino Recording Co., with pre-orders available at these links and Bandcamp.

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Manchester Orchestra – “The Way” (Atlanta, USA)

RIYL: breathtaking, cinematic songs that take over all your senses

Speaking of the widescreen, Manchester Orchestra‘s new EP, The Valley of Vision, is out today. It only contains six songs, but each are breathtaking. Would anyone expect anything different from Andy Hull (vocals, guitar), Robert McDowell (guitar), Andy Prince (bass), and Tim Very (drums)? While it’s difficult to highlight any single track from the record, “The Way” provides a great complement to the previously-released “Capital Karma”.

There is not much to say about this track other than to sit down, strap in, take several deep breaths, and allow the Atlanta-based quartet to consume you with their rapturous new single. It commences with a calm, trip-hop tone before a piano emerges to add more suspense. Hull’s exquisite voice floats over the delicate beats and electronics, and he describes one person’s attempt to survive on this slowly-decaying planet. His words could have been taken right from the film’s script.

“Do you wanna find the antidote?
Driving with the Holy Ghost
Holy death, the holy smoke
And does it start again?
I’ve been drinking from a periscope
Trying to watch my obstacles
See how fully I’ve been broke”

The Valley of Vision EP is out on Loma Vista Recordings and available at Bandcamp and these links. The film of the same name is also out today. 

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Fazerdaze – “Flood Into” (Christchurch via Wellington, New Zealand)

RIYL: breezy, fleeting dream-pop from the ’90s

Following the release of Break!, which was one of 2022’s best EPs, Amelia Murray took her project, Fazerdaze, on a little tour that hit parts of Southeast Asia and across Aotearoa. After a few years away, it was simultaneously a celebration of a great young artist finding her voice again and a validation that Murray’s music still connected with her audience. What gravitates people to Murray is that she exudes compassion. For instance, “Flood Into” was supposed to be released as an anti-Valentine’s Day number, but Murray delayed its release after torrential downpours and Cyclone Gabrielle hit the upper North Island in New Zealand. Even though the song had nothing to do with the weather nor climate change, she deemed the timing was not appropriate to release a song under such circumstances.

Four weeks later, “Flood Into” is officially revealed. It possesses the urgent dreaminess that has characterized much of Fazerdaze’s music, where a vibrant energy has people dancing while Murray’s soft vocals and relatable lyrics have our minds spinning. The music is escapism, but the lyrics are embedded in reality. Specifically, Murray sings about the distance that grows between her and a former partner even though they share the same bed. She discusses how her well-being has been subsumed by the other person, and how she has battled to reclaim who she is – and that is as one of Aotearoa’s finest artists and songwriters. 

“I let myself get lost in you
I gave it all too much too much too soon
and within you I would disappear
so when I wanted me I wasn’t there
And when your hands searched through searched through the sheets
trying to find the empty shell of me
but I have finally found the strength to leave
I felt myself flood back, flood into me”

The single is out on Section1

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Kindsight – “Madhouse Breakout Multitool” (Copenhagen, Denmark)

RIYL: a lullaby made for ‘The Fifth Element’

Last year, Kindsight released their superb and confident debut album, Swedish Punks. It wasn’t the typical Scandi-pop album, but instead it pushed the envelope of what is accessible. Alt-pop, art-pop, whatever one wishes to categorize Nina Hyldgaard Rasmussen (vocals), Søren Svensson (guitar), Anders Prip (bass), and Johannes Jacobsen’s (drums) music, the LP was inventive. It also was intelligent, touching on common themes with a fresh perspective and crafting stories well beyond the norm. For Kindsight’s first single of 2023, they go well outside the boundaries musically and lyrically, delivering a song that will have folks talking about for days. 

Imagine if Black Country, New Road became an alt-pop band, and they likely would sound like Kindsight do on “Madhouse Breakout Multitool”. Angular guitars and off-kilter rhythms shift and twist, creating a meandering and constantly evolving approach. Rasmussen and Svensson alternate on lead vocals, as they assume the identities of two siblings. They are hiding in their home in order to not be discovered by the inmates who escaped from “the local madhouse”. The pair’s voices are stricken with fear, uncertainty, and then calm, which is when they think the danger has passed. But are they truly safe? Just simply a great example of brilliant storytelling in a song. 

The single is out on Rama Lama Records. Catch them at SXSW next week. If you’re wondering, the song is based on a true story.

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Bartees Strange – “Daily News” (Washington, D.C., USA)

RIYL: brittle, emotional art-rock

Bartees Strange is no stranger to being in the news. His 2022 album, Farm to Table, was included on numerous “Best of” Albums lists, including our own. His varied approach and thoughtful songwriting made him one of last year’s biggest breakout stars. One song, however, didn’t make the final cut. The reasons are unknown as to why “Daily News” was left off the LP, but releasing it as a separate single allows the song to really shine. 

“Daily News” is a moody, brittle, and emotional track. It’s first half is reminiscent of Bon Iver’s most illuminating numbers, where it glides from its melodic and melancholic beginnings before entering more chaotic yet dreamier soundscapes. As is Strange’s MO, however, the track undergoes a significant transformation in the second half, exploding into a crescendo of awe-inspiring noise. All the while, he shares how he thought he lost someone to only find them again. The range of emotions he experiences is truly a roller coaster. 

The single is out on 4AD.

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