For the second half of the April 12th new music marathon, The Matinee ’23 v. 043 is like a box of chocolates – each sweet treat offering something different yet memorable. The fourteen songs are from some of indie’s heaviest hitters to young artists and bands with immense potential.

To hear more remarkable songs, (re-)visit the first half of today’s selection over here. Alternatively, spin The Songs of March and April 2023 playlist on Spotify and SoundCloud.

Today’s tracklist is as follows, and you can click on the song to go directly to it. 

7ebra – “Done With the Day” (Malmö, Sweden)

RIYL: Palehound, Let’s Eat Grandma, Momma

Anticipation is growing for twin sisters Inez and Ella’s – a.k.a. 7ebra – debut album, Bird Hour (May 5th via PNKSLM Recordings), as previous releases, “I Have A Lot to Say” and “Lighter Better”, showcased the sibling’s raw, grunge-touched, contemplative style. So while they may not be the noisiest band, they utilize other tools to be heard, including superb songwriting and tackling important issues.

On “Done With the Day”, they deliver a slumbering, hypnotic number that features a simple guitar, keys, and a rummaging rhythm section. What grabs firmly, however, are the pair’s vocals, particularly Inez’s emotive voice. “I’m done with the day / I think I’m ok with the things that have happened,” she repeats, trying to convince herself that she is over a past trauma. But is she really? “Do I have the courage to breathe? I do not want to anymore,” she reveals. When she sings these words, we relate with them. We relate with 7ebra, which is why they have the chance to be Sweden’s next big thing. 

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Jana Horn – “Days Go By” (Austin, USA)

RIYL: Tiny Ruins, Bedouine, The Weather Station

Jana Horn has proven that she’s one of the most intriguing songwriters today with her recently-released new album, The Window Is The Dream (via No Quarter Records), which included the gripping “After All This Time” and the haunting “The Dream”. Horn says the record “began as a failed poem”. While that poem may not have yielded what originally intended, it has been reborn as a record of captivating imagery and an undeniable example of how imperfect beginnings can result in something way more interesting.

“Days Go By” is the third track on The Window Is The Dream and immediately follows “After All This Time”. The LP, and these two songs specifically, capture the passage of time in a very distinct way. “Days Go By” is the slower of the two with the focus mostly on Horn and the song’s simple guitar part. Despite its stripped back nature, Horn’s lyrics will resonate with anyone who’s felt that time has slowed down while being in a transitional period between places. If we are to stuck in a specific moment, then we hope this song is what is playing in the background. 

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Youth Lagoon – “Prizefighter” (Idaho, USA)

RIYL: Mojave 3, Devon Church, Pure X

Trevor Powers revived his Youth Lagoon project last month when he released the stunning yet powerful and unsettling “Idaho Alien”. The song was an eye-opener, not just musically but also thematically as he delved into his past and shared an event that long remained unspoken. The second single from his forthcoming album, Heaven is a Junkyard (June 9th via Fat Possum), is another deep dive into his memories.

Delightful keys and light, pattering percussion put a pep in Powers’ step and vocal. The song feels like the perfect springtime tune, and some of Powers’ words, too, are ideal for an April sunny day. “I got the world, so I’ll be fine / I got the sunshine to figure me out,” he sings. Conversely, though, there is Tommy, who “left for war with no goodbye.” So while his best friend battled in the trenches, Powers gets to lead a safe and routine life. This anecdote reveals how life is imperfect and unfair, as some make sacrifices that others fear to do. It also leads to the question of who really is the antagonist in not just this story but in the game of life. 

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This Is The Kit – “Inside Outside” (Paris, France via Winchester, England)

RIYL: Lisa Hannigan, Xenia Rubinos, Jesca Hoop

Kate Stables has made a name for herself as This Is The Kit. Her songwriting ability is undeniable, even from her earlier days. Stables is always willing to push boundaries and push her music forward. It’s a quality that was present throughout her 2020 record, Off Off On. On that LP, we heard Stables chart new territory with her undeterred voice. Now, This Is The Kit is gearing up for the release of a new album that’s sure to expand their sound even further in Careful of Your Keepers (June 9th via Rough Trade Records). Stables enlisted the help of Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals, someone Stables said she’s wanted to work with for years. 

The album’s first single, “Inside Outside”, confirms that speculation. Its early moments are mostly just bass guitar and some jazzy drumming laying the groundwork for Stables’ voice. There’s plenty of little details to fill out the song’s basic framework, from guitar coming in and out, some saxophone inflections, and most of all, Stables’ words. The chorus features some great harmonies, and as the song builds, the tension increases with some electric guitar. Its lyrics are also inviting, with Stables channeling Lisa Simpson singing, “Bite off as much as you can chew / I choo choo choose you.” “Wonderfully inviting and perfectly strange, this is exactly what we’d want to hear from the team of Stables and Rhys, and we can’t wait to hear the rest of this record.

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Anna St. Louis – “Phone” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Allison Krauss + Patsy Cline + T Bone Burnett

Few artists make such a strong impression as Anna St. Louis did on her 2018 debut album, If Only There Was A River. It left listeners feeling all kinds of emotions. In the 5 years since, St. Louis has been mostly quiet. Thankfully, she has announced she will finally release her long-awaited second album, In The Air, on June 9th via Woodsist.

The first single is the fantastic “Phone”. The track floats with ease, thanks to its bright instrumentation and St. Louis’ airy vocals. When she sings the chorus, she’s joined by some fun vocal effects on top of harmonies. Those moments feel so playful and bright. Lyrically, the song paints a less rosy picture with St. Louis looking for some meaningful love and trying to let her defenses down. Even with that, it’s as cheery and optimistic as we’ve heard from her, and such an inviting song that’s perfect for the springtime. 

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Purr – “Drift” (New York City, USA)

RIYL: Sharon Van Etten, Kate Davis, Bat for Lashes

Just as we had expected when Purr revived ’70s folk-rock back in January with “The Natural”, Eliza Barry Callahan and Jack Staffen’s sophomore album, Who Is Afraid of Blue?, will be released later this year. Specifically, it will land June 2nd on ANTI Records. Showing that the LP will be more than just reviving the past, “Drift” is a resounding entry into the present. 

Pulsing rhythms, a driving guitar, and harrowing keys swirl around Callahan’s distant vocal. As the track spins into darker, more urgent realms that are only visited in the wee hours of the morning, she pleads to a loved one to grab the steering wheel and take control. She asks him to determine the path he shall follow before the sun rises. She does so encouragingly, singing, “You want it, you need it, you’ve got it.” And Purr has it – has it to be one of the great indie bands around. 

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Nanna – “Disaster Master” (Reykjavík, Iceland)

RIYL: Indigo Sparke, Faye Webster, Maple Glider

Hearing Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir‘s solo project is like night and day from her work with Of Monsters and Men. Instead of hand-clapping Americana, she has delivered brittle, emotional, and stunning singles in “Godzilla” and “Crybaby”. The approach has allowed the Icelandic star’s songwriting to shine and, in the process, left listeners, including us, in complete awe. Our jaws once again fall to the ground with “Disaster Master”.

The third single from Nanna’s debut album, How to Start a Garden (May 5th via Republic Records), is an extraordinarily gorgeous, 5 1/2-minute ballad. Every element, including Hilmarsdóttir’s soothing vocal and the horns at the end, is controlled yet brittle and endearing. Her words, too, are beautifully fragile, as she shares both a memory and a revelation:“But I’m addicted to disastrous thinking / And I think that you are too / A tornado just swept through this town / We barely made it through.” Simply gorgeous.

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Moonwalks – “War On Nothing” (Detroit via Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: Rolling Stones, The Strokes, The Brian Jonestown Massacre

After delivering the hazy and ripping “Heavy Tears” last month, rockers Moonwalks dust themselves off and get in their Delorean. Their destination is not the future nor the present, but it is the past. 1968 to be precise, or at least that’s the sense that “War On Nothing” gives with its old-school, Rolling Stones vibes.

The chugging guitars and groovy rhythms are classically executed, yet in this day and age the approach feels fresh and lively. This is driving or road trip music, providing the soundtrack to our escape from this crazy world. The band’s lyrics reflect this as well, describing how we just want to “fade away” and never want to come back to what was. If only we could be like Kerrigan Pearce (drums), Jacob Dean (vocals, guitar), and Kate Gutwald (bass) and head to another year and era, we would. Instead, we’ll have to live vicariously through them and the songs on their forthcoming new album, Western Mystery Tradition, which drops May 26th via Fuzz Club Records.

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Indigo De Souza – “You Can Be Mean” (Asheville, USA)

RIYL: Lucy Dacus, Soccer Mommy, Snail Mail

Just 2.5 weeks remain until Indigo De Souza‘s new album, All of This Will End (April 28th on Saddle Creek Records) will be released. And we cannot wait. De Souza is one of the most gifted, honest, and sincere songwriters around, as she demonstrated on 2021’s outstanding Any Shape You Take and previously-released singles, “Younger & Dumber” and “Smog”. On “You Can Be Mean”, she delivers arguably her most pointed song.

The Asheville-based singer-songwriter literally and figuratively holds nothing back. Her voice has more edge than the gritty grunge-pop that streams behind. “I can’t believe I let you touch my body / I can’t believe I let you get inside,” she assertively states, revealing how she felt used and taken for granted. She saves her biggest blow, though, when she proclaims that the apple does not fall too far from the tree. With bitterness, she sings, “I’d like to think you got a good heart and your dad was just an asshole growing up / But I don’t see you trying that hard to be better than he is.” Sing on Ms. De Souza. The world needs more artists like you. 

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CHAI – “We the Female!” (Nagoya, Japan)

RIYL: Dream Wife, Guerilla Toss, Perfect Pussy

CHAI have felt like an anomaly when looking at the Japanese pop music scene ever since their 2017 debut Pink was released. While J-pop comes with the idea of Kawaii singers churned out by a machine, CHAI push back with a pop sound they describe as “NEO-Kawaii”. Mana (vocals, keys), Kana (vocals, guitars), Yuuki (bass), and Yuna (drums) push back on the unrealistic standards of the industry with an attitude that is meaningful and empowering. It’s something that’s resonated far beyond their home of Japan, and a sentiment that can be heard on their 2022 single “WHOLE” and all throughout their discography.

No track matches that energy more than their latest single “We The Female!” (via Sub PopSony Music Japan International)  Just from its name, the song is an empowering and important embrace of femininity. It also embraces all types of gender expression,with a spoken-word section exclaiming, “Hello universe! We are pretty, but masculine!” The track’s statement is laid down on a foundation that’s super groovy thanks to its bass line and fantastic drumming. Add in just a perfect bit of synth and guitar and some infectious harmonies, “We The Female!” is everything that makes CHAI such a unique and important band.

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Bag of Cans – “Hostage at the Dinner Table” (Norwich, England)

RIYL: Opus Kink, Yard Act, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

Just when you thought George Baker (vocals, trumpet), George Bryce (guitar, vocals), Tom McGhie (guitar), Sam Watts (bass), and Joe Wilson (drums) – the blokes behind Bag of Cans – could not get any wackier after sharing “Pub Money”, well, they do. As the title suggests, “Hostage At The Dinner Table” is an amusing riot. 

Bustling rhythms, a grimy guitar, saloon-worthy keys, and a booming trumpet fill up this off-kilter, manic number. As chaos descends around Baker and Bryce, they sing about being stuck at the dinner table and having to be on their best form. The saving grace they have are the beers sitting in front of them, but they can only mildly subdue the suffering. Just how long they have to sit through this “party” is likely longer than the song’s 3.5-minute duration. Too bad they didn’t write a song that long (could you imagine?). 

The single is out on Fierce Panda Records.

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Eleni Drake – “Rookie” (London, England)

RIYL: Lera Lynn + Chris Isaak + Lana Del Rey

The world’s introduction to the music of Eleni Drake was her hazy debut record, Can’t Stop The Dawn, released in 2021. There were heart-wrenching numbers like “Flux”, fantastic beats *in”Can’t Stop The Dawn”, and a stunning closer in “Amber”. The LP was an incredible ride, and one we’re just about to get a follow-up for, as Drake is gearing up for the release of her new album, Surf the Sun (May 19th on Vanilla Sky Recordings).

The latest single Drake is “Rookie”, and it’s a perfect encapsulation of Drake’s sound. Just some laid-back guitar playing and gently played drums welcome listeners. Drake’s voice is dynamic and ever-shifting. At times, it’s accompanied with hushed harmony; other times it’s exerting its power over the track. Occasionally, it takes a backseat for some great little guitar solos. The final solo includes some haunting harmonies before the track’s incredible final moments, at which point Drake repeats, “I’m feeling free / Oh, I’m feeling more like me.” Wow!

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Lontalius – “Right There” (Wellington, New Zealand)

RIYL: Yot Club, The Japanese House, Del Water Gap

Early in his career as Lontalius, Eddie Johnston created upbeat, danceable material. Lately, however, he’s slowed the tempo and delivered more heartfelt and personal songs, including February’s sensational, queer love anthem, “I Want I Want I Want”. Whereas Johnston looked inward on that track, he reaches out to those needing a helping hand or a little boost on the equally moving “Right There”.

The bedroom-pop approach is beautifully orchestrated, as lightly-strummed guitar, percolating electronic beats, and soft keys converge around Johnston’s wistful vocal. He softly sings that “I’ll be right there if you don’t mind,” indicating that he’s close by and ready to hop over in a flash. All that we have to do is call him. Or spin this lovely number, which is out on Kartel Music Group

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Angel Olsen – “Forever Means” (Asheville, NC USA)

RIYL: Angel Olsen channeling Loretta Lynn

There is really nothing we can say about Angel Olsen that we haven’t already. She’s established herself as one of the great songwriters of modern times. It’s something that was present in her early days, and something that’s stayed consistent all the way though last year’s Big Time. Her ability to create timeless music means some tracks don’t find a home on her records. On April 14, Olsen will release Forever Means (via Jagjaguwar), which contains songs that didn’t make it on 2022’s stellar LP.

It’s no surprise to know that Olsen has found inspiration from other all-time greats. For the EP’s title track, “Forever Means”, Olsen states that she wrote the song “as a nod to George Harrison”. It’s a track about finding yourself, which is a theme present throughout Big Time. Olsen’s lyrical honesty is as unrestrained as ever. Olsen’s voice is the star here, as the lightly strummed guitar almost unnoticeable throughout. It’s something that feels like those older days of Olsen’s catalog – an immediate attention grabber that leaves one breathless. 

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