Where there is smoke, there is fire and where there is a breeze lies a dream, and where there is great music there is The Matinee ’23 v. 052. The ten songs on today’s mini-playlist possess these feelings and then some.

These tracks anchor The Songs of March and April 2023 playlist on Spotify and SoundCloud. A new playlist will be available on Wednesday.

To go directly to a song, click on the track in the list below:

Cable Ties – “Change” (Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: Destroy Boys, Screaming Females, Mannequin Pussy

Today’s The Matinee kicks off with two of Melbourne’s greatest bands, which is saying an awful lot given that the land the Aboriginal people call Naarm has a storied musical history. Cable Ties, though, are unquestionably one of the best thanks to the ferocity and intensity that fuel their blistering brand of post-punk and front-woman Jenny McKechnie’s stellar songwriting. McKechnie (vocals, guitar), Nick Brown (bass), and Shauna Boyle’s (drums) sophomore album, Far Enough, is a classic. After listening to “Perfect Client” and  “Time For You”, their newest LP, All Her Plans, too, is shaping to be another unforgettable record. This hypothesis is further validated on “Change”.

This. Song Is. Awesome! It rages, roars, and tirelessly erupts throughout its near four-minute duration. McKechnie’s guitar work is fiery, Brown’s bass pounds like a jackhammer, while Boyle’s percussion is urgent and reaches rapid-fire levels during the track’s peaks. Then there is McKechnie’s piercing vocal. Or more accurately, she’s seething. She’s protesting against the misogynist values that still govern much of the world. Specifically, McKechnie recounts how men still use and abuse women, how they lack respect for them, and how they continue to determine women’s reproductive rights. The vocal track, according to McKechnie, was recorded shortly after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. No wonder she’s angry, and everyone else should be, too.

All Her Plans is out June 23rd via Merge Records (world) and Poison City (Australia/NZ). Pre-orders available here and on Bandcamp.

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RVG – “Midnight Sun” (Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: The Men, METZ, The Drive-by Truckers

And another of Naarm’s great bands are simply known as RVG. Whether it’s post-punk, indie-rock, or alt-rock, Romy Vager (vocals, synth), Rueben Bloxham (guitar), Marc Nolte (drums), and Isabele Wallace (bass) have mastered these genres over three superb albums. More importantly, though, they are the voice of the fallen and the oppressed. Like Bob Dylan back in the day, they tell the stories of those who cannot, being the megaphone for them to be heard. As such, they are one of Australia’s most respected bands, which explains why their new album, Brain Worms, is one of the most anticipated Down Under. Heck, it should be highly anticipated everywhere, especially after “Midnight Sun” blasts through your speakers and headphones.

This tune also is awesome. It is unquestionably one of the best songs of the year. Our only qualm is that the track could be twice as long, so that we could rage with the band while rocking out hard to their fiery rock ‘n roll. Every element is delivered with unrelenting intensity, and the band sound like they are walking on to the stage for the very last time. Vager’s vocal is filled with desperation and anger, as she tries to convince Australians their country is on fire. That climate change is not some conspiracy theory; it is real and all Aussies need to do is look out their window. Despite “the sky is turning black”, they sit, watch and refuse to change their ways. But if they eventually come to their senses, she’ll be waiting to talk and work with them.

“You said you thought you knew me
But now I’ve gone too far
And the sun you said you were so sure about
Might just be a falling star
The city is in ashes
But I’m still burning bright
Hanging here like a lantern
In case you change your mind”

Brain Worms will be released June 2nd via Fire Records. Pre-order it here or on Bandcamp. It will be great.

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The Know – “You” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Slowdive, Lush, Lanterns on the Lake

In another time, in another era, Jennifer Farmer and Daniel Knowles’s project, The Know, would be known across the globe as shoegaze giants. And they still can be recognized as such. Until that day comes, they are doing their part to ensure the genre that just won’t die will live forever. Their fabulous EP2, which includes stellar tracks in “Used to Be” and “Me”, reveals why shoegaze can and will endure – no other genre can match its dreaminess, cosmic soundscapes, and ethereal effects. And no other genre can cause you to continuously gasp for a breath over four-plus minutes, just like what “You” does.

The penultimate track from EP2 is arguably the standout. Immediately, the duo steal our breath away with the gorgeous, crystalline guitar and the superb, rumbling rhythms. The entire arrangement sounds like something straight out of Slowdive’s extensive catalogue, which for us is the epitome of shoegaze. Farmer’s hushed vocal, meanwhile, is stirring as well as magnetic, pulling us further into the song’s nucleus. Once inside, we begin to see through the band’s eyes, understanding that this track is not merely a dream. It is an inescapable and undying memory, which reminds us of what was and who we were. “Everywhere I turn / There is no one / Except a shadow / Of what I once was,” Farmer beautifully sings. And everywhere we turn, we hope to hear more shoegaze and more of The Know.

Pick up EP2 on Bandcamp or at these links.

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feeo – “Iris” (Oxford / London, England)

RIYL: Sade, Connie Constance, Thandi Phoenix

There’s little doubt in our mind that feeo will be a star. Not just an ordinary star but Theodora Laird seriously could influence and inspire a younger generation of artists like four fellow Oxfordians did more than three decades ago. Last month, feeo shared the surreal “Red Meat”. It was a song that had all the qualities that make Laird such a unique songwriter. Unafraid to tackle serious issues and morality, Laird’s words are just as impactful as the sounds that accompany them. “Iris” is no different.

Musically, “Iris” does so much with so little. The track is just feeo and some upright bass. Even with its simple composition, the new single is incredibly dynamic. Background ambience flows in and out with electronics and swelling cymbals. Harmonies are found throughout, sometimes they’re lush and gorgeous like in the song’s choruses. Other times they’re haunting. It’s the perfect background for feeo’s lyricism, which is a poignant as ever, about changes that come with age and adulthood.

feeo’s new sophomore EP, Ah, Hunger!, is due out June 1st.

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Crumb – “Dust Bunny” (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: Warpaint, No Vacation, Unknown Mortal Orchestra

It’s too easy and would be a disservice to label Crumb as a psychedelic-rock band. Their music undoubtedly possesses psych tones, but Lila Ramani (vocals, synth, guitar), Bri Aronow (mellotron, synth, saxophone), Jesse Brotter (bass, xylophone), and Jonathan Gilad (drums, drum programming, tambourine) have extended themselves to other genres. They can delve into experimental electronica, hazy psych-pop, or even into dream-pop realms. The Tufts University alumni also can wade through delirious realms, as they do with “Dust Bunny”.

At its core, Crumb’s newest single flutters within the psych-pop orbit of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, but then it pulls away and creates its own elliptical path, as elements of acid jazz (particularly in Gilad’s excellent drum line), woozy bedroom-pop, and cinematic electronica can be heard. Maybe the best way to describe the track – and Crumb’s sound – is to equate it to a sonic kaleidoscope, moving in numerous directions while emitting an assortment of sounds that overcome the listener. Lamani’s tale, meanwhile, matches the superb soundscape, as she is like the mirror in which people see their reflection. Like that image in the glass, she hears every thought and knows every concern.

“Here on your own
You’re seeing a ghost
Can’t undo what’s been done
Forever no more
Stacks of clothing fill your room you
Can’t find one thing to return
Let go
Of it all
Begin the slow withdrawal”

Simply brilliant.

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Palace – “How Far We’ve Come” (London, England)

RIYL: Blaenavon, Spacey Jane, Bears Den

Not every band that signs with a major label suddenly loses their indie roots. Sure, it happens quite a bit, but the most confident bands will not stray far from their origins, sticking with what got them to where they are now. London’s Palace are one such group, who continue to create meaningful and thoughtful indie-rock while being part of Universal Music Group‘s roster. Sure, Leo Wyndham, Rupert Turner, Will Dorey, and Matt Hodges have their share of anthemic rockers, but they are at their best when creating emotional melancholy like on “How Far We’ve Come”.

The quartet’s latest song is ideally spun at the end of the day, providing the soundtrack to the past 24 hours or more. Methodically, the track moves, barely breaking away from its sobering, melodic approach. And yet, we find ourselves listening intently to every light guitar strum, each pattering of the drums, and the soft plucks of the bass. We find ourselves held tightly to every word that Wyndham sings because we are experiencing the same physical and emotional turmoil as him. No one else can see that we are slowly deteriorating, which Wyndham brilliantly captures when he sings:

“My body’s breaking
Breaking from the inside out
My structures shaking
Shaking since we tasted doubt
So leave me here
To play my victim card
I’ll be right here alone”

Palace’s North American tour starts May 30th in Dallas. To see all the dates and purchase tickets, click here.

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Spirit Award – “New Energy” (Seattle, USA)

RIYL: Shadowgraphs, The Black Angels, Elephant Stone

Spirit Award are only weeks away from unleashing The Fear on is. The project of Daniel Lyon along with an assist from bassist Chris Jordan (Sunny Day Real Estate) has already shared three songs from the record. Each of them are fuzzy tracks with sounds that perfectly pair with Lyon’s unique voice. Lyon describes the upcoming record as “a meditation, and that’s noticeable from its dense sounds that are easy to get lost in.

The latest single from the record is “New Energy”. The title is fitting, as it’s the fastest-paced single Lyon has shared so far. Driving guitar and drums (supplied by Andrew King) kick things into high gear immediately. The guitar on “New Energy” is immense – from its churning chords to the high moments when it cuts through the fuzz. Then there’s the section in the middle where it’s soaring over some intense drumming. It all comes to a head with Lyon’s voice echoing over the sonic roar before a moment of quiet emerges. The single is an incredible ride, which perfectly reflects on Lyon’s “wishful look into the future.” It’s about figuring out the right steps to create sustainable, positive change and trusting that’s where we’re heading.

Spirit Award’s new album, The Fear, is out May 19th via Share It Music and Sub Pop. Pre-orders available on Bandcamp and over here.

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Inkfields – “Moroccan Blue” (Edinburgh, Scotland)

RIYL: The Pale White, The Arctic Monkeys, Royal Blood

Samuel James-Griffiths’ path to creating his project Inkfields was anything but typical. The Edinburgh-based artist spent his time after his teaching gig busking. He eventually left his teaching job and performed across Europe. Those experiences are the ones that formed what would shape the newest Infields’ album, The Third Side of the Coin, which was released this Friday.

The Third Side of the Coin is a fantastic record through its full 26 minute runtime. Each song deserves the spotlight, but the LP’s second track, “Moroccan Blue”, may be the perfect introduction to James-Griffiths’ project. The song starts out slow with just some drums and layers of guitar. Then James-Griffith’s voice emerges, and it possesses a quality that draws listeners in. About halfway through, the song explodes with an eruption of guitar and some intense electronic effects. Eventually the grip is loosened, as harmonies are added and the track ascends to stratospheric levels. Ascends to places where one finds some peace.

“I saw, saw a bird on the breeze in the sky.
It broke all the rules, the restraints on my life.
Inspired I took a little detour from the standard.
Created a portal to life in nirvana.
And I, found my place with the birds in the sky.”

Pick up The Third Side of the Coin at these links or on Bandcamp.

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Thrillhouse – “Electric Fire” (Brighton, England)

RIYL: The War On Drugs, The National, Bruce Springsteen

Thrillhouse have been a favorite in these parts for years now. Since stumbling upon them in January 2020, Thrillhouse continues to expand their sounds in unpredictable ways that only make us dig them even more. Their music takes genres and vibes that may not seem like they’d mix on the surface, and yet they’re able to concoct something coherent, captivating, and atmospheric. Alistair Scott, Jackie Nielsen Sam Strawberry, and Leo Fedorcio already have a pair of tracks out this year – “So Far From Where I Started From” and “Something About This Place” – and they are both drenched in that perfect amount of throwback haze we’d expect from the trio. 

Their latest single, “Electric Fire”, is the third single from what will be their debut record, Something About This Place. Again, the trio effortlessly blend qualities of music that hits right at the soul. The track is nostalgic, from its synth to its great guitar hooks. The vocals and warm harmonies only add to this vibe. Scott’s lyrics also take a reflective tone, as he realizes that what always was is not what will always be. His words are all wrapped up around a fantastic guitar solo, which adds even more impact to those urgent words.

Thrillhouse’s debut album, Something About This Place, is expected this summer.

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Geographer – “One / Other” (San Francisco, USA)

RIYL: Bon Iver, Haux, Passenger

Mike Deni describes his music as “soulful music from outer space”, which is almost the opposite of what his moniker, Geographer, would suggest. However, that clash of these otherworldly sounds and grounded lyricism is truly what makes Geographer utterly captivating. It also makes it impossible to classify his music with any accuracy, as he effortlessly shifts from folk-influence to massive synth-pop, even within songs. 

“One/Other” may be Deni’s most powerful song. That’s a huge statement for an artist who’s been creating for over a decade, but it’s undeniable when hearing his haunting voice over just guitar in the opening moments. The harmonies add even more ethereal qualities to the track, as an electronic ambience builds underneath. It all bubbles over as drums hit and a massive synth comes in. The loud moments don’t last long, but it frees up the track to build even more. The earlier slow moments are now repeated with deep synth and strings. Its lyrics are just as intense, as Deni sings of the destruction of the environment.

“I was here before the sky was plundered
Down the alleyways I’m hunted
A flame could turn whole cities to ashes
It happens

I could be your gilded mountain
You could save me from a thousand
Throw a coin into a fountain
Hey I mean you never know”

What a way to end our two-month playlist. This single is out on Nettwerk Music Group.

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