The Matinee ’23 v. 033, or the second half of our new music twin-bill, offers plenty of lessons, whether about deciphering reality from fiction, understanding what true love means, or learning what we can do to save our planet. The nine songs are extraordinary with plenty that will leave you in a state of delirium.
To go directly to a specific song, click on the track in the list below:
- Tiny Ruins – “Dogs Dreaming”
- The New Pornographers – “Pontius Pilate’s Home Movies”
- Jesse Mac Cormack – “NHFN_2”
- Pynch – “London”
- Kishi Bashi – “Winter’s Eve”
- Silver Moth – “The Eternal”
- néomí – “I Could Never Leave”
- Jonathan Bree – “Miss You” (featuring Niles Rodgers and Princess Chelsea)
- Mint Julep – “All Along”
Tiny Ruins – “Dogs Dreaming” (Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland), New Zealand)
RIYL: a light folk-rocker that will lift spirits
Only a couple of weeks ago, Aotearoa favorites Tiny Ruins released a “stomper” of a folk-rock tune in “Dorothy Bay”. Its slightly more upbeat nature complemented Hollie Fullbrook’s insightful lyrics, which conveyed the past and present of our hometown and her attempts to reconnect with the land and its people. She continues on this journey of discovery on another “lively” number.
“Dogs Dreaming” is a beautiful and vibrant indie-folk number that could be the soundtrack for the first day of Spring. Finger-plucked guitar and light rhythms create the warmth while Fullbrook’s stunning vocal provides the breeze. Like the arrival of the new season, there is a redemptive quality in her words. An understanding of who she is and what she is meant to do.
“I found myself
Halfway across the sky to the smallest star
And like the melody Blue Moon
The spell it broke too soon – just me in the car
I’m not a healer nor a saint
I always did know what to paint in an empty room
Thinking, this is more than enough.”
Tiny Ruins are: Hollie Fullbrook (vocals, guitar), Cass Basil (bass), Alexander Freer (drums), and Tom Healy (guitar). Their new album, Ceremony, is out April 28th via Milk! Records / Marathon Artists / Ba Da Bing Records. Pre-order it at these links and on Bandcamp.
The New Pornographers – “Pontius Pilate’s Home Movies” (Vancouver, Canada)
RIYL: a legendary indie-pop band touching the mysterious darkness
The New Pornographers are at their best when they’re crafting stories that could form the foundation of a screenplay. Tracks like “Sing Me Spanish Techno” and “Letter from an Occupant”, for instance, are indie classics because they were smart, imaginative, and meaningful. When the collective delve into a bit of history and draw some comparisons and lessons, their songs have an added heft and weight. All this must mean that “Pontius Pilate’s Home Movies” is a classic – and it is.
A slight starkness immediately emerges as a plodding bass line drive the track and A.C. Newman’s and Neko Case’s voices are delivered with a sinister softness. While the single occasionally breaks through the shadowy approach (the bridge features TNP’s trademark pop glimmer), it remains shrouded in darkness. This provides the perfect canvas for the two co-leads to tell the tale of an individual who has fallen down the rabbit hole of the internet’s more unsavoury areas. As such, he’s like a modern-day Pontius Pilate, who shows his friends the home movies he took of the crucifixion.
“Listening to the first grace notes of the day play,
The sun kept on rising ‘til it floated away
Spun out of control, you recover and steer through,
Into controlled slide, it’s just what you do
And now you’re clearing the room, like Pontius Pilate,
When he showed all his home movies
All of his friends yelling ‘Pilate! Too soon!'”
The New Pornographers are: A.C. Newman, Joe Seiders, John Collins, Kathryn Calder, Neko Case, and Todd Fancey. Their new album, Continue as a Guest, is our March 31st via Merge Records. Pre-orders and pre-saves available here and on Bandcamp.
Jesse Mac Cormack – “NHFN_2” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: songs that take you down the rabbit hole and never let you back
A modern art gallery somewhere in this world should commission Jesse Mac Cormack to produce an exhibition that pairs photographs and paintings with his vast music catalogue. It could start with an image of a solitary house in the midst of dust storm, which would represent the Montrealer’s art-folk beginnings. The exposition could end with an artist’s impression of the event horizon, which is the space that Mac Cormack occupies today. His 2022 album, SOLO, was an otherworldly experience, where it took listeners to places where elemental substances combine to create something new and beautiful.
Mac Cormack’s adventure, though, was not complete, as he has three more songs to share. Well, more like three songs from SOLO that get reinterpreted as if they were written in another dimension. The first track from SOLO_2 is “NHFN_2”, which is a hypnotic, spatial affair. Delicate beats percolate at the start with a touch of synth and electronics swirling around, and together they create the sensation of an easy glide through the cosmos. The melody than opens up with an array of cosmic fireworks cascading around Mac Cormack’s lush vocal. He narrates the tale of a person trying to find equilibrium in his life and a purpose that exists within this reality.
“No pill will make me swallow this one down
Can’t make this flower grow
Without a light
And what keeps me going
Is that nothing happens for nothing”
Pynch – “London” (London, England)
RIYL: a melodic rocker that has you believing that we can endure this messed up world
Steadily, Pynch have developed a cult following in and around the competitive London scene. Whereas their compatriots delve into post-punk, anthemic rock, or blustery pop, they’ve taken a different approach – thoughtful, melodic indie-rock. Their focus is not merely to get limbs shaking and bodies grooving. Instead, they want to use their platform to tell the stories of a new lost generation, who feel like they are falling behind each and every day. It’s hard not to feel this way when conflict and lies abound, cost of living spirals out of control, and politicians are more concerned with helping billionaires as opposed to working women and men. They are a band for the ordinary person, and on “London” they’ve crafted a song just for them.
Despite clocking in at nearly five minutes, Spencer Enock (vocals, guitar, synths), James Rees (guitar), Jimmy Folan (bass), and Julianna Hopkins (drums) keep listeners hooked. While the tune gently rocks with a steady rhythm section and synth leading the way and an occasional snarl of the guitar adding some electricity, Enock’s songwriting is the star. He reaches out to everyone who is struggling to make ends meet, noting that people have to save just to buy a T-shirt. Owning a house, meanwhile, has become a “bourgeois fantasy”. This is the “real world”, and Enock and his band mates harmoniously tell us to “try to find some peace of mind if you can”. With the state of the world, we’ll have to find our happiness in other places. And in bands like Pynch.
The quartet’s debut album, Howling at a Concrete Moon, drops April 14th. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.
Kishi Bashi – “Winter’s Eve” (Athens, GA USA)
RIYL: a powerful statement on climate change delivered through haunting folklore
Kishi Bashi is not only a great composer, songwriter, musician, and artist, but he’s an incredible human being. Beyond the studio, he hosts music camps, promotes his Japanese heritage, and is active in environmental efforts. One project he has focused much of his attention recently is how climate change is affecting the Arctic, particularly the region’s polar bears.
In 2021, he took a trip with Polar Bears International to document this majestic creature’s plight. This journey will be the subject of the soon-to-be released film, Winter’s Eve, which has been directed by Max Lowe and will be released by gnarly bay and EarthX Film. And it is, of course, the subject of Kaoru Ishibashi’s newest single.
“Winter’s Eve” is haunting and gorgeous, and it is sad. Ishibashi’s violin weeps before a mournful cello, a dabbling guitar, and light percussion. His voice, too, is filled with remorse and regret, seeing how his and his fellow humankind are contributing to the extinction of an iconic animal. “I am the wanderer and here I fade away,” he sings, assuming the form of the stoic, white animal. Then he asks, “I am the wanderer, where did the winter go?” With these words, we look through the eyes of the polar and see a barren tundra. A world that has changed and forgotten about us.
This song is available via Joyful Noise Recordings.
Silver Moth – “The Eternal” (United Kingdom)
RIYL: a post-rock opus
There are super-groups and then there are super-collectives. What’s the difference? Well, the former usually has three to five members from established bands. The latter will have an array of members who move in and out between songs, where maybe 4 people perform on one song and then 10 on another. This collection of talented artists may be well-established within the industry or known by a select few. But as a whole, they turn music into an event. They turn it into an unforgettable moment, which is what Silver Moth achieve with “The Eternal”.
Featuring Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai, Elisabeth Elektra, Evi Vine, Steven Hill, Abrasive Trees guitarist and songwriter Matthew Rochford, Nick Hudson, drummer Ash Babb, and cellist Ben Roberts, the super-collective have created an extraordinary post-rock opus. It is beyond gorgeous, and not just for a few moments but the entire song. There is not much more to say other than to let yourself go and allow the ethereal effects overwhelm you. And listen to Elektra’s words, as she sings about how one’s spirit endures beyond a lifetime. Specifically, that her and Braithwaite’s close friend Alanna’s presence is eternal. It’s a wonderful tribute to the human spirit.
néomí – “I Could Never Leave” (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
RIYL: emotive and endearing dream-folk
By now, most people would have heard of néomí, the project of Dutch artist Neomi Speelman, who was identified as an Artist to Watch in 2023. Singles like “red balloon” and “skipping stone” explain why we think she’s on the cusp of greatness, which hopefully will occur this year. Helping her inch a little closer to becoming a household name is “I Could Never Leave”.
The approach is simple and minimalist with just a guitar strumming in the background and a bit of ambient noise emerging later. What grabs the listener’s attention is Speelman’s stunning vocal, which is layered to make it sound like she has surrounded us. Beautifully she attempts to calm her own nerves while trying to make sense of the conflicting feelings within her. “I know you never did stop lying / And it will never be the same again,” she delicately sings. While this would enough reason for a person to leave, néomí stays because she believes the person she fell for is somewhere inside him. And maybe, just maybe, they can start all over again.
Speelman’s sophomore EP, after, releases April 14th via PIAS.
Jonathan Bree – “Miss You” (feat. Nile Rodgers & Princess Chelsea) (Auckland, New Zealand)
RIYL: ’80s disco-pop given the sultry treatment
Hopefully some network will bring back Solid Gold because Jonathan Bree and his band of masked musicians belong on that stage. Their mix of electro-pop, dance-pop, and disco-pop would get everyone – the audience and those watching at home – dancing and singing along. Until that day comes, we just have to see him perform live or allow his videos do the deeds. His latest single, “Miss You”, and its accompanying video perfectly illustrate this.
With the support of the legend Nile Rodgers on guitar and fellow Kiwi Princess Chelsea on vocals, Bree delivers a tune right out of the early ’80s. “Miss You” was made for Solid Gold with its sultry vibes, breezy chorus, ripping guitar solo, and a storyline as old as time. And the chorus is, well, sing-along worthy, where everyone would be shouting the words:
“Doesn’t matter how our friends say you are insane
I still miss you
Doesn’t matter how much I try or dance all night
I still miss you
Doesn’t matter how our friends say best keep away
I still miss you”
Mint Julep – “All Along” (Portland, OR USA)
RIYL: perfect closing songs – i.e., those of the dreamy euphoric brand
And speaking of the music of our youth, few duos capture the era like Mint Julep. Hollie and Keith Kenniff consistently churn out some of the most dazzling dream-pop songs this side of The Sundays, Mazzy Star, and Slowdive. They have the ability to not just transport us back in time but away from the chaos of the present. This is a place we wish we could stay for eternity, especially when it sounds as glorious as “All Along”.
The track is epic dreamgaze, which means it leaves listeners paralyzed from start to finish and gasping for many breaths during the euphoric climax. It leaves us stretching our arms extended as wide as possible so that our body and soul can absorb every note. And so that we can immerse ourselves within Hollie’s hazy vocal and story of holding on to the one person who stole our heart. To hold on to them while spinning this track and learning to fall in love again.
“There’s a moonglow on cold nights
Building a wall around your heart
That I can’t break through
On a night when everything felt new
And the only way out was through
Close your eyes and memorize this love
and this light in all things”
Gorgeous and a great ending to a fantastic day of music. The Kenniffs’ new album is expected later this year.
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