In a nod to the days when Wednesdays were dedicated to the Melodic Tonic, The Matinee ’23 v. 035 features songs from across the globe, each possessing a melodic touch yet applied through different prisms. The nine songs, though, do deal with a common theme: understanding when to hold on and then to move on. 

Find all these tunes on The Songs of March and April 2023 playlist, which can be spun on Spotify and SoundCloud

To go directly to your song of choice, click on the track in the list below:

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

RIYL: Unknown Mortal Orchestra with a pinch of Tame Impala and Toro y Moi

Sticking to a tried-and-true approach while still making it sound fresh takes an incredible skill. Ruban Nielson, Jacob Portrait, and Kody Nielson have been able to do this for nearly thirteen years as Unknown Mortal Orchestra, turning their sultry brand of psychedelic-pop into music made for intimate clubs, lazy days by the pool, or the quiet solitude of the bedroom. Recent singles – “I Killed Captain Cook”“Layla”, and “Nadja” – evidenced how the trio can unveil this great genre’s multiple layers. They peel back another segment, showcasing its colorful side on “Meshuggah”.

Derived from the Yiddish word for “crazy”, “Meshuggah” is a groovy, chugging tune that will put a skip in one’s step and add some much-needed warmth and sunshine. It’s not overly complicated, but how each instrument converges together creates the sweltering and upbeat vibes. Ruban’s trademark falsetto, too, adds to the song’s vibrancy, sparkling through the tapping percussion and the occasional guitar chime. His words build on the track’s effects, describing the strength that exists in a person:

“The stars are out in clearest weather
How to keep yourself together?
Darling only know
Darling only know
Your enemies are fierce and foul
Energy is peace and power
Darling only know
You give meshuggah”

Pre-orders for UMO’s new album, V, can be made on Bandcamp and at these links. Jagjaguwar will release it this Friday, March 17th. 

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Lexie Carroll – “tomorrow” (London, England)

RIYL: Squirrel Flower, Gordi, Holly Humberstone

Is there another 18-year artist that writes poignant and powerful music like Lexie Carroll? If so, we want to be introduced to her or him. For that matter, not many singer-songwriters match Carroll’s thoughtfulness, consideration, and emotion. And she’s been doing this since she was 13, at which time she released her first EP. The young woman is an incredible talent, who showed on “fall for anything”, “annual birthday cry”, and “violet” that she is mature well beyond her years. Carroll once again pierces our hearts and souls with the arresting “tomorrow”

Featuring mostly Carroll, her trembling guitar, and later some back beats, “tomorrow” is beautiful yet, as is the case with every one of her songs, jarring in its impact. As her unhurried but brittle vocal glides over the pensive arrangement, she reflects on the meanings of life and relationships. She reflects on how fragile life is, and how we have that one companion – whether it’s a person or a pet – with whom we wish to spend the rest of our days. For us, the song is timely one, having us remember someone we recently lost. This is the power of the 18-year old’s music. 

“I would sit here in this living room
With only you to keep, keep me company
I’m convinced we could live on the moon
We don’t need any air, I’d go about anywhere
With you”

We’ll say it again, Carroll is going to be a star.

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Nat Vazer – “Addicted to Misery” (Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: Fenne Lily, Hand Habits, Mitski

It’s been a little while since we’ve heard from Nat Vazer, who in 2020 released her terrific debut album, Is This Offensive and Loud? The LP was an emphatic statement as to why she started turning heads Down Under in 2018, as it displayed her versatility. Indie-folk, folk-rock, indie-rock, and even the occasional splash into pop, Vazer mastered them all. For her first single in nearly three years, the Melbourne-based artist delves into a new sound.

With the warm, bedroom intimacy of Fenne Lily and the confessional lyricism of Mitski, “Addicted to Misery” is a showstopping stunner. A light, jangly guitar line weaves through the soft rhythms and the bubbling back beats. It guides Vazer’s embracing vocal, which explains how the singer-songwriter often helps others navigate through difficult times. In the process, she becomes completely invested, where her mind gets consumed by her friends’ problems and, as such, is unable to find a way out. Her words are beautifully honest, understanding that as she tries to help others they cannot do likewise for her. 

“Tell me where you grew up
Tell me how you broke down
Every time that you moved house
And there’s a shadow at the door
It used to be the police
Now it’s the longest memory

But you can’t save me ’cause I’m addicted to misery
And you can’t save me ’cause I’m addicted to misery”

Supporting Vazer on the track are: Sean Newell (drums), Andy Campbell (guitar), and Benjamin Joel (bass). Here’s hoping Vazer’s sophomore album is coming.

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Midwife & Vyva Melinkolya – “NMP” (Denver & Louisville, USA)

RIYL: Womb, Drowse, Chelsea Wolfe (stripped back)

As Midwife, Madeline Johnston’s music is unhurried, minimalist perfection that crushes souls with pure, unadulterated emotion. “God Is a Cop” exemplified the jarring impact of her songs. Now what happens when she teams up with an artist that has mastered bone-chilling shoegaze? The answer can be heard on “NMP”.

Teaming up with Alyc Diaz of Vyva Melinkolya, the duo have unveiled a melancholic epic. For nearly eight minutes, Johnston and Diaz paralyze listeners with their tapestry of Gothic rock, shoegaze, alt-folk, and indie-rock. As the song patiently makes its way through the 465 seconds, the pair quietly sing about wanting to feel no more pain (NMP). They share how they wish for everyone to be freed from whatever afflicts them – whether that be emotional or physical pain or the sadness that lingers from losing someone we loved. The song is raw, it is true, and it is completely and wonderfully devouring.  

Midwife and Vyva Melinkolya’s debut EP, Orbweaving, is out July 16th via The Flenser. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.

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Friko – “Crimson to Chrome” (Chicago, USA)

RIYL: Geese + The Districts + Wilco

Could the next great indie-rock band come from Chicago? The Windy City has given us some of the best of the past few years in Slow Pulp, Dehd, and Horsegirl, and Friko is set to join their companions. 

Niko Kapetan (vocals, guitar), Bailey Minzenberger (drums), and Luke Stamos (bass) have developed a solid following within their hometown, playing gigs across the city and gaining a reputation for their energetic live shows. For music fans that won’t get a chance to see them, their wide-ranging and boisterous indie-rock will be what draws them in, especially a track like “Crimson to Chrome”.

About growing up and feeling stuck in neutral, Friko’s newest single is anything but stuck in neutral. It bobs and weaves, moving from a pensive rock approach to bursting at the seams with a wall of frenetic and anthemic noise. At various points, the trio channel Wilco, particularly during the track’s more melodic parts, and then rock out like a nothing-to-lose Geese or The Districts. Desperation is heard throughout the tune with Kapetan’s voice and lyrics dripping with it. 

“I’m sitting here writing the same sad song
With the cogs on fire
Spinning on and on
Till I’m old and tired
Even then I’m on fire
Watching us settle to fade in the dust
It’s a shame it’s a crime
It’s much too much too hold
I’m tired
But hey I’m on fire”

Simply awesome from a band that not only should be watched closely but will be going places. Their launch to indie stardom kicks into overdrive this week at SXSW.

The single is out on Fire Talk Records’ Open Tab imprint.

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Meltt – “Another Quiet Sunday (Keep Moving On)” (Vancouver, Canada)

RIYL: Wolf People + The Black Angels + The Amazing

Twelve days ago, Vancouver outfit Meltt released a new EP called Another Quiet Sunday. The output was expansive, ranging from psychedelic rock to sublime psych-pop / psych-disco fare. One song, however, stands above the rest, and it is the record’s ultimate track. Now this isn’t a slight on the EP’s other five songs; “Another Quiet Day (Keep Moving On)” is just on another level.

This number is a mix of the anthemic psych-rock of mid-career The Black Angels and the explorative, post-rock heard in Wolf People’s and The Amazing’s music, and it is, well, amazing. What Chris Smith (lead vocals, guitar, bass, keys), Jamie Turner (drums, percussion), James Porter (guitar, keys, vocals), and Ian Winkler (guitar) have crafted is not just one of the year’s great songs but one of its great experiences. They lure listeners with a lush, cinematic approach, as synths swarm a light piano melody before the tantalizing rhythms kick in and the glistening guitar emerges. Through the stars Meltt take us with Smith’s immersive vocal telling us to “keep moving on”. Upon uttering those words, the song opens up as a wall of mind-bending noise descends. 

This track may come in at less than 4.5 minutes, but when it is over it feels like a 90-minute escapade. This is a testament to the overwhelming and unforgettable sensations that Meltt have created. 

Pick-up or stream Another Quiet Sunday on Bandcamp or at these links. It’s out on Nettwerk Music Group.

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Tinariwen – “Tenere Den” (Kidal, Mali / Tamanrasset, Algeria)

RIYL: Ali Farka Touré, Bombino, Imarhan

Those who have had the fortune of being in Tinariwen‘s presence know how their live shows are spiritual experiences. Whether the concert is just 45 minutes or a full 2.5 hours, the Malian-Algerian collective take patrons from the heart of the Sahara Desert to the peaks of the Atlas Mountains. As their ninth album, Amatssou, approaches, they’ve crossed the Atlantic to offer something new to their musical arsenal.

A little fiddle that adds some alt-country and bluegrass twang is infused into the band’s psych-tinged, Tuareg-influenced sound. As such, “Tenere Den” creates the feeling we’re heading towards the Louisiana bayou, except the river is not the Mississippi but the Nile. This confluence of sounds and styles is what makes Tinariwen one of the great bands and innovators today. Their stories, too, bridge divides, particularly the past with the present. The song is originally sung in Tamashek-Berber, but below is the English translation provided by the band:

“Out there, the great desert
White at times, and at other times
Red with the blood of the martyrs.
The desert where everything is far away.
Inkilal heard the sound of gazelles
Or of a Toyota roaming the vicinity.

Don’t you know that the revolution
Has taken hold in the Adagh,
That it is vigilant and keeps hold of its positions.”

Just brilliant. 

Amatssou releases May 19th via Anti- Records. Pre-orders available here and on Bandcamp

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Yasmin De Laine – “Laura Elsa” (Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: Gillian Welch, Courtney Marie Andrews, Ethel Cain

The songwriter factory of Melbourne has unveiled its newest star. Yasmin De Laine‘s introduction was delayed a couple of years, as her first “official” releases were some demos shared during the COVID lockdowns. Now with the world back to some sort of normalcy, De Laine officially launched her project last week, and she does it with a haunting number that may cause you to tremble a little while contemplating the young Australian’s future.

Like the great folk storytellers of today (Gillian Welch, Courtney Marie Andrews), De Laine delivers a chilling tale about “Laura Elsa”. Channel yourself back to the first half of the 20th Century and imagine Australia in its gritty, raw, and untamed days. Here is where we find the song’s protagonist, who is about to experience a tremendous loss and, thus, seeks retribution. While this tale sounds like it was written for Hollywood, it is inspired by a true story that Yasmin’s grandmother told. The gloom in this bluegrass-country number, where the banjo adds an eerie effect not heard since Deliverance, heightens De Laine’s sensational songwriting, particularly at the song’s climax:

“Called her mama before they came to take her away
Dragged him to that precious truck, carried on and rumbled down the lane
‘Tween grape vines, they’ll find him in a nine-inch grave
‘It’s done. He’s dead,’ she said, hung up and walked away”

Look out for this young talent, whose debut EP, Each Heart Devours The Other, will be released in May.

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Strange Ranger – “Rain So Hard” (New York City & Philadelphia, USA)

RIYL: Son Lux, Small Black, Volcano Choir

Fans of the film Everything Everywhere All at Once know that Son Lux scored the film’s music. Anyone who has followed the band’s career knows they always had a touch of the cinematic in their music. Hopefully, the next indie band from NYC that will get a similar break is Strange Ranger, who since 2016 have taken listeners on extravagant escapades. Isaac Eiger, Fiona Woodman, Fred Nixon, and Nathan Tucker have sent folks down the rabbit hole, through the edges of the Milky Way, or back into the memories that define who we are. Sometimes it is all three of these things, which is the case with “Rain So Hard”.

The quartet’s latest single is a stunner. Spatial synths, bubbly effects, and an electric organ welcome listeners, sounding like at first some dream. But when the Prince-esque guitar solo occurs at the climax, the song takes on a different complexion – a ride through a meteor shower. Like seeing this phenomenon in the sky, we are left with our mouths widely agape and in total awe. There is, however, more to the sonic explosion, as the moment represents one person’s awakening. That they’ve learned the truth and seek to move on from this fantasy or maybe nightmare. 

“Light don’t bleach my eyes
Life don’t leave me blind
I heard you write about culture
What’s that mean?
Is it sort of like everything?
Now everything just runs backwards
And forwards all the time

How do I get out of this movie now?”

This single also is out on Fire Talk Records.

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