From dream states to Ancient Rome, to running towards the moon to rocking out like it’s the ’90s, The Matinee ’23 v. 050, which is the second half of our musical twinbill, is guaranteed to take you places. Well, we hope these seven tracks do. More musical adventures await on Part 1 as well as The Songs of March and April 2023 playlist, which is spinning on Spotify and SoundCloud.

The tunes in this post include:


Beach Fossils – “Run To The Moon” (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: Mojave 3, Chapterhouse, Red House Painters

After returning to share their trademark, blustery surf-rock / dream-pop mix in “Don’t Fade Away” and “Dare Me”Beach Fossils reminded us why they were one of the most celebrated indie bands of the early and mid-2010s. And why so many of their albums were the ones we turned to when we needed to calm down and escape. Whether Dustin Payseur (vocals, guitar) and his band mates – Tommy Davidson (guitar), Jack Doyle Smith (bass), and Anton Hochheim (drums) – knew this is an unanswered question. However, with “Run To The Moon”, we think they were listening. 

Unlike the previous two singles from the band’s forthcoming album, Bunny, “Run To The Moon” is a beautifully melodic and tranquil number. It is to be heard at twilight, where the fading lights add color to the approaching darkness. Such times also are made to be with the people we love the most, sharing what we did during the day and our deepest thoughts. These are times to escape to a little place where only the two of us exist, and maybe that is to rock that orbits our fragile planet. This is what Payseur, too, hopes for when the sun sets on his day.

“Living in New York
It can grind you down
I tell you
It will grind you down

Run to the moon
It feels like I’m living in another world
Only You
Can pull me back in
Pull me back into myself”

Bunny will be released to the wild on June 2nd via Payseur’s own Bayonet Records. Pre-order it on Bandcamp or at these links

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Shelf Lives – “All the Problems” (London, England)

RIYL: The Kills, The Dead Weather, Handsome Furs

Music history is littered with famous female-male rock duos. The White Stripes, The Kills, and Handsome Furs are some of the great ones, and Shelf Lives could join this elite group very soon. When Sabrina Di Giulio and Jonny Hillyard released the ripping, noise-rocker “BITE”, for instance, it demonstrated that the pair knew how to get people off their keisters while also tackling key social issues. The London group are not satisfied with simply creating a catchy melody and boisterous riffs; they also want to ignite our minds. They do both on “All the Problems”.

Another roaring, intense experience, this electro-rocker will have every appendage moving and every synapse firing at full blast. As a pulsing bass line pops and the guitar sears through the propulsion, the duo address first world problems. Literally, they smartly tackle how people think their problems are the only ones that exist when in reality they are meaningless when considered in the broader context. When a band can deliver lines like below and matched with an electrifying sound, you know they’re destined for greatness.

“Life sucks. Crying in your cocaine shoes
Sick, abuse. Blame what the shot has done to you.
He’s got all the problems, he’s got all the problems in him
And he takes a swing to get on with his day”

The single is out on the duo’s own Not Sorry Mom Records. 

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Wren Hinds – “Dream State” (South Africa)

RIYL: Vancouver Sleep Clinic, Novo Amor, Sufjan Stevens

It’s one thing to create a dreamy tune or to name a song with “dream” in it. To craft a track that resembles a dream, however, is a completely different endeavor, which requires patience and a multi-layer approach that allows every element to shine. Where every element touches a part of your body, mind, and soul, which is what Wren Hinds has achieved with “Dream State”

Simply put, “Dream State” is stunning. It demonstrates that subtlety, restraint, and tranquility can overwhelm a listener as much as a high-energy pop song or an amped-up techno track. Whether it’s the acoustic guitar or the electric six-string, the pattering drums or the steel guitar, or Hinds’ feathery voice, every note and word deeply penetrates. Together, they may cause your mind to relax and go numb or create a levitating sensation. And it’s a marvelous feeling to be able to live inside a dream. 

Hinds’ new album, Don’t Die In The Bundu, releases July 21st on Bella Union. Pre-order it over at Bandcamp or these links.

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Hallan – “The Colline Gate” (Portsmouth, England)

RIYL: Foals + Opus Kink + New Order

One of the great songs of the year so far is Hallan‘s “Unwomanly Face of War”. It was explosive in a Prodigy way, while the story told was unsettling but engrossing. While their forthcoming, new record sees the band wading in new waters, their post-punk foundation remains, particularly in their songwriting. Conor Clements (vocals), Joshua Tweedale (bass), Joshua Ransley (guitar), and Adam Mills (drums) are not going to turn into a boy band overnight nor even an electronic outfit. It’s not in their DNA – at least we don’t think it is. Doing something new, however, is, and they further dive into new sonic wonderlands with “The Colline Gate”.

Whereas “Unwomanly Face of War” described the experiences of Russian women during World War II, Hallan redirect their focus to other lands and another era. Through the harrowing soundscape that merges Foals’ anthemic electro-rock, New Order’s new wave, and Opus Kink’s pompous post-punk, Clements sings about the debauchery of Ancient Rome. In those times, Vestal Virgins would face their torturous death and done under the gaze of the Colline Gate, which was the site of the decisive and bloody battle that would eventually end the civil war between Lucius Cornelius Sulla and the Marians. Although many young women died at the hands of Roman soldiers and politicians, their spirits endured. The best lines in the track are saved for the voice of a Virgin, who seeks vengeance in the afterlife:

“Decline deaths hand, shrink from his sinful glove
This being needs not interact with the embodiment of foul disgust upon the the bleak end
With grace I shall go unto his unjust arms I surrender with everlonging faith and grace
I shall perish with finesse and decorum with my head held high draped in white”

Hallan’s new EP, The Noise of a Firing Gun, is out May 25th on Nice Swan Records. Pre-order it on Bandcamp

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Country Westerns – “Knucklen” (Nashville, USA)

RIYL: Titus Andronicus, The Men, Cloud Nothings

Not many bands can create old-school rock ‘n roll and garage-rock like Country Westerns. The Nashville trio are the perfect bar band – and we say this with the utmost respect and as a compliment. When Joseph Plunket (vocals, guitar), Jordan Jones (bass), and Brian Kotzur (drums) take the stage, they surely will have the patrons dancing and having a jolly good time. Their songs also are aimed at the everyday person – the blue-collar workers who punch the clock from 9-to-5, the single parents working multiple jobs to enable their children to live their dreams, and the office workers who mindless populate spreadsheets. On “Knucklen”, they write an anthem for these ordinary Jos and Joes. 

“Knucklen” is simply an awesome, old-school rocker, just like “Grapefruit” was. Shaking rhythms and blistering guitar work recall the pre-internet days when the best music was being played in the dive bars of America. This is when strangers stood shoulder-to-shoulder, pumping their firsts in the air, shouting at the top of their lungs, and then hooting and hollering when the song ends. This happens because the patrons relate to the song, such as when Plunket sings about being “drunk in all my dreams” and “on my third second wind.” We relate most when he repeats, “I can’t quite breakdown,” understanding that we cannot allow the pressures of the outside world break us. We instead will persevere like we always have.

Country Westerns’ new album, Forgive the City, should be. It is out April 28th on Fat Possum Records. Get it on Bandcamp or these links.

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Jess Williamson – “Chasing Spirits” (Los Angeles via Austin, USA)

RIYL: Courtney Marie Andrews, Plains, Madi Diaz

Last month, Jess Williamson released the gripping “Hunter”, the lead single from Williamson’s upcoming Time Ain’t Accidental. Like the name suggests, the record is about the passage of time and the resulting change. It’s something that we’ve all dealt with as the world changed in the spring of 2020. There are plenty of pandemic albums out there, but Williamson’s songwriting has already set Time Ain’t Accidental apart from the pack. 

From its opening line, “Chasing Spirits” is an unapologetic breakup song. Williamson’s lament of her previous relationship is wrapped up in a perfect throwback country package with some steel guitar, acoustic, and lightly played drums. There’s a cleverness in Williamson’s words with the track’s title focusing on the dual meaning of the word “spirit”. It’s so easy to relate to Williamson, especially as she describes the moments immediately after a relationship has ended. She recalls the moments of love, the gifts, the songs, and even mixtapes. To sit and think about what that all meant and if it was even real.

“Are my love songs lies now that the love is gone?
There’s the one about forever and
Loving you in a past life
Or whatever”

Time Ain’t Accidental is out June 9th on Mexican Summer. Get it here.

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Wye Oak – “Every Day Like the Last” (Baltimore, USA)

RIYL: Wye Oak

Seventeen years is as good as any number for a band to reflect on their journey. This could be done in the form of a memoir or a compilation of previously-released material. The latter is the option that Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack have chosen to celebrate their journey and years together as Wye Oak. Specifically, on June 23rd, the duo will unveil Every Day Like the Last, which could be considered a Greatest Hits compilation. There is a slight exception, however, as the record also include new material, and one of the three new tunes is the album’s title track.

“Every Day Like the Last” is prototypical Wye  Oak. It is serene and heavenly, particularly how the steel guitar aligns with Wasner’s angelic vocal. It is endearing, like a big embrace with its warmth and comfort. Maybe more importantly, it is sincere and authentic, as Wasner sings about wanting to feel alive again and to be able to think freely. To feel freed from expectations and life’s everyday pressures. And for a little over three minutes, we briefly get to experience liberation within the arms of one of indie’s great duos of the 21st Century.

Every Day Like the Last can be pre-ordered on Bandcamp and these links. Merge Records will distribute it.

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