Another double dose of new music is on tap with The Matinee ’23 v. 047, or Part 1, featuring songs by artists and bands well-known in these parts. The mini-playlist is a mix of stunning dazzlers, uplifting pop and rock tracks, and tunes that terrify and those that enchant.

Find Part 2 here. As always, all twenty tracks are included on The Songs of March and April 2023 playlist, which is available on Spotify and SoundCloud. This edition has the following:


The Japanese House – “Sad to Breathe” (Buckinghamshire, England)

RIYL: Gordi, Charli Adams, Maggie Rogers

After sharing the beautiful and retrospective “Boyhood”, it was just a matter of time – specifically a month – that Amber Bain would announce The Japanese House‘s new album. In the End it Always Does will arrive on June 30th via Dirty Hit, and the LP likely will offer coolness in the midst of summer’s heat. We’re not 100% sure this will be the case, but Bain’s music history to date indicates this will be the case. As does “Sad to Breathe”.

The second single from the record is another dazzler. It possesses Bain’s trademark dreaminess and intimacy as well as the unexpected yet expected breezy rush of synths and dangling guitar. Through this wondrous, melodic swirl, Bain’s stunning vocal emerges. The English star shares how she struggles in the absence of the person she loves the most, as the emptiness suffocates her. The song, however, is more than just about love; it is also about finding one’s path when there is no light to shine the way. 

“Cause you’re right
And I’m trying
To change myself but it’s tiring
And I go to bed and I’m crying
Cause it’s sad to breathe the air when you’re not there”

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Alaska Reid – “She Wonders” (Los Angeles via Montana, USA)

RIYL: Marika Hackman, The Big Moon, Hannah Georgas

Alaska Reid should have been performing 30 to 35 years ago, as her dream-rock is straight out of the mid-’80s and early-’90s. “Back to This”, for instance, reminded us of youth’s innocence, and thus, would have been featured on soundtracks like The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Clueless. Another way to think about her music is that she’s creating a soundtrack for today’s younger generations, and “She Wonders” could sit right in the middle of the compilation.

Rumbling drums and a fantastic bass drive the track, only to be interrupted by a glistening, guttural guitar and the occasional splash of keys. Reid’s breezy vocal is full of reflection, describing all the moments that people didn’t believe she could make it in LA. Narrating how difficult it is for a young woman to be noticed for her art.

“She says it never lasts,
‘I feel 8 and 70 years old so fast
Can’t be reckless free,
Cuz then they say us girls are batshit crazy'”

But whose laughing now? Reid is on the path to stardom, which should release a new level on July 14th when her new album, Disenchanter, is released on Luminelle Recordings.

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Bully – “Hard to Love” (Nashville, USA)

RIYL: Warpaint, Wolf Alice, Dream Wife

Alicia Bognanno has long been one of our favorite songwriters. The music she creates as Bully is unapologetically authentic, adding even more to the ’90s alt-rock vibe that has filled her discography. Her new album, Lucky for You  (June 2nd via Sub Pop), equally should be menacing because that is Bognanno’s DNA. The LP’s opening singles – “Lose You” and “Days Move Slow” – were prototypical Bully, and they were fantastic. The same could be said for its third song.

Despite its name, “Hard to Love” is everything we love about Bully. Its sound is absolutely massive, thanks to the fuzzed-out bass and heavy drumming. Once Bognanno starts yelling in the song’s choruses, it gets even bigger. Roaring guitar comes in over some reverb and dreamy harmonies in the back half of the track, creating a fantastic dynamic that shows that Bully is so much more than a grunge revival act. Lyrically, Bognanno describes how she always has felt like an outsider and, therefore, is “Hard to Love”. Thankfully, Bognanno has found people and fans who support and relate to her experience. 

“Few things are bleaker than
Impermanence when joy begins
But I can show you low if you’d like
Cause I can’t see the sun no matter how far I run
There’s something else that’s blocking my eyes”

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Valley Queen – “Nobody Ever” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Big Thief, Sun June, Sjowgren

Last month, Natalie Carol (guitar, vocals), Neil Wogensen (bass, synth, keys), and Mike DeLuccia (percussion) released the title track from their upcoming album, Chord of Sympathy (out April 21st). The stunning, yet adventurous single as well as the electric “Casavaettes” and the powerful “Pavement” confirmed that the next Valley Queen record is shaping up to be their most expansive. 

The most recent single from Chord of Sympathy is “Nobody Ever”, on which Valley Queen chart more new territory. It’s an incredible ride, from its dynamic instrumentation, with some huge transitions within. At times, the track feels hypnotic, repeating the song’s title over and over along with some repetitive guitar. Occasionally, it all comes crashing down with Carol’s untethered voice cycling through the noise. The unpredictable approach is perfect for this song about the complex feelings of love, and how we become completely devoured by it.

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Gillie – “Llawn” (Carmarthenshire, Wales)

RIYL: Tuvaband, Alice Boman, Portishead

Finally, one of our artists to watch this year emerges. Last year, Gillie blew us away with the Radiohead-like “I ti”. Like the indie giants, the track was immersive and mesmerizing, which is an impressive accomplishment given this is her solo project. For her first song of 2023, she traverses new spaces to further entrance us.

That space is trip-hop, specifically the haunting waters over which Portishead have long reigned. Her soft, whispery vocal echoes within the spellbinding arrangement of “Llawn” (via Libertino Records), which is highlighted by the mournful guitar line and the jazz-like percussion. Akin to Portishead’s great songs, we succumb to Gillie’s power and grace. We lose ourselves within the fading darkness that hovers from the first to the very last note. The power that the song possesses is reflected in Gillie’s lyrics, as she describes the many people, including her father, who have tried to direct her path and control her. Clearly, she has not followed their “wisdom”, but instead she’s doing things her way. And thankfully so.

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Mega Bog – “Cactus People” (New Mexico via Idaho, USA)

RIYL: Bat for Lashes, Kate Bush, Christine and The Queens

In this era where artists cross multiple mediums, someone at Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, CW, or whatever network or streaming service of your choice must give Erin Elizabeth Birgy an opportunity to create her own series. As Mega Bog, Birgy does not merely create songs; she writes extravagant stories. They can be poignant, like the startling “The Clown”, on which describes Birgy embraces the darker sides of herself. On “Cactus People”, she falls further into the abyss to deliver a mystifying stunner.

The synth-pop approach is reminiscent of the illuminating darkness that Kate Bush popularized four decades ago. As percussion and synths bubble, Birgy’s smooth vocal dances through the sonic hallucination. She sings in the direction of another – or maybe it is her shadow – pleading to them to immediately leave this place. In order to this, however, they must first maneuver through the many obstacles that block their way.

“The grass and all its snaky tongues
Try to pull you in
I say, let them win
Because when did dusting the dirt off mean
You’re not my friend”

Mega Bog’s new album,  End of Everything, is out May 19th via Mexican Summer. Birgy is supported by her partner and Big Thief drummer James Krivchenia, Meg Duffy (Hand Habits), Will Segerstrom, and Jackson Macintosh (Drugdealer).

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Arlo Parks – “Blades” (London, England)

RIYL: Connie Constance, Joy Crookes, Brandy

It feels inevitable that we’ll be calling Arlo Parks a legend for years to come. Her debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams, was nothing short of sensational. Since then, Parks has been working on her sophomore album, My Soft Machine (May 26th via Transgressive), and she has already shared  “Weightless” and “Impurities”, which exceeded all expectations. She’s followed those up with another undeniably great single, “Blades”.

There’s a nostalgic quality that pulses through “Blades”. It starts with some synth and huge reverb drums. Add in a killer bass groove and Parks’ hazy voice, and it all comes together quite quickly. The tune is immensely danceable, led by the sublime synth layers. There’s also a fantastic part where things die down, and Parks delivers a spoken-word track. The lyrics match the vibes of the track, looking back on a friendship, thinking of special moments, even the little ones, and wondering if it can all be rebuilt. 

“I remember there was something strangely romantic
In our friendship, we were dramatic
I wept in your arms
Talking for hours on thе gravel, letting our backs burn
Walking to Boxers linking pinkiеs, wearing matching pearls
And now I’m struggling, I’m choking up without the words”

Once again, Parks proves she can accomplish anything with her music. 

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Opus Kink – “Children” (Brighton, England)

RIYL: Preoccupations, The Murder Capital, Bambara

Opus Kink are truly one of the most fascinating band today. Their upcoming EP, My Eyes, Brother! (May 18th on Nice Swan Records), will no doubt be a high-energy affair, as demonstrated on the monster mash-worthy and Divine Comedy-esque “1 : 18” and the all-out noise of “Dust”. The only question is what else Angus Rogers (vocals, guitars), Sam Abbo (bass), Jazz Pope (keys, synth), Jack Banjo Courtney (trumpet), Jed Morgans (alto saxophone), and Fin Abbo (drums) have waiting for us when the EP drops next month.

On “Children”, Opus Kink keep their bombastic style going. A killer drumbeat kicks things off, then we get some wild sounds, including some big saxophone moments. Rogers’s voice is practically a yell throughout, accentuated by a layer of reverb and occasionally joined by some sinister sounding harmonies. The result is an intense yet deliriously immersive number.

The edge of the vocals and the chaos of everything around them make it feel like the song has a much darker edge. However, Rogers describes the song as “our Ibiza summertime anthem; a song about how very hard it is being an artist who makes little funny things then dashes them into the void”. How they turned that into such an insane combination of sounds and words is exactly what makes Opus Kink who they are.

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Declan Welsh & The Decadent West – “I Don’t Know Why” (Glasgow via East Kilbride, Scotland)

RIYL: Arctic Monkeys, Blaenavon, Ulrika Spacek

For nearly a decade, Declan Welsh & The Decadent West patiently have waited for their opportunity. Their time might just have arrived, as the Scottish four-piece’s new album, 2, arrives September 22nd on Frictionless Music. What Declan Welsh (vocals, guitar), Duncan McBride (guitar), Ben Corlett (bass), and Murray Noble (drums) have shared to date, such as “King of My Head”, indicate a new chapter for the band. A chapter that sees them move away from the brooding, anthemic indie-rock to a sound that is more patient yet widescreen. On “I Don’t Know Why”, they steal listeners’ attention with brilliant cinema.

Dark and dramatic, hypnotic and paralyzing, this four-minute number quickly flutters like the heart of a person seeking forgiveness. The tune, however, is no mystery, but rather it is a walk towards destiny. Or is it? He describes multiple characters’ experiences with faith, and how they seek answers from an unseen entity. Their questions, however, go unanswered, leaving them walking a life of solitude and eternal uneasiness, which the band brilliantly capture in their lyrics and sound.

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Callum Pitt – “More Than This” (Newcastle, England)

RIYL: Sam Evian, Sufjan Stevens, Chris Cohen

England has blessed the world with countless number of a great singer-songwriters, and Callum Pitt is unquestionably one of them. By the time he retires his guitar and piano and permanently stores the microphone, he might be referred to as the Glen Hansard of Newcastle. Pitt is an incredible storyteller, and he’s proved this time and time again, such as on “I Feel a God and Devil in This Room” and “Fraction of a Second”. With his debut album, In The Balance, coming soon (specifically June 2nd), he might receive the recognition he deserves. Or maybe just listening to “More Than This” will deliver him acclaim.

Like a young Sufjan Stevens, Pitt gradually and gracefully builds a stirring arrangement, which reaches a breathtaking climax when the violin, piano, and mandolin dance in the air. Before that moment comes, our attention is fixated on Pitt’s voice and superb songwriting. He shares the memory of someone he loved for a very long time. While they have passed, he prefers to remember their existence instead of mourn their lost. 

“Everything must go
It’s an angel in the snow
And I will never ask for more”

Beautiful. As usual.

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