hazel english

photo courtesy of julie juarez

the weathered photo that adorns the cover of hazel english’s debut ep, never going home, is a perfect visual extension of her meticulously-crafted aural aesthetic.  last year’s trio of demos – produced in conjunction with fellow oakland resident jackson phillips, aka day wave – were warm, hazy exercises in restraint; after nearly a year away, english picks right back up where she left off with “i’m fine,” her first single of 2016.

nary a drum beat can be found on “i’m fine,” with bass lines and sequenced synthesizer arpeggios instead alternately filling the rhythm role.  this intimate, stripped-down structure is augmented by english’s lead vocal, doused in reverb and hoisted above a sturdy, guitar-driven foundation to deliver its ever-so-poignant message.

“i’m fine” will appear on never going home, which is due out october 7th via house anxiety/marathon artists.  take a listen below.

dear trax plant.jpg

photo courtesy of the artist

matt messore marked the end of his tenure in you blew it! with a cross-country move and a new sonic direction.  now headquartered in grand rapids, michigan, messore assembled key personnel, among them steady collaborator victoria ovenden, and began recording dreamy, jangly pop songs as dear tracks.  after turning in their promising debut ep, soft dreams, at the start of the year, messore and ovenden are now armed with a brand-new single as they look ahead to a handful of fall tour dates.

on “aligning with the sun,” dear tracks intertwine a pair of guitar leads that dance effortlessly through watery textures, while pausing occasionally to drone alongside messore’s blissed-out lead vocal.  it’s a perfectly sun-bleached endeavor, a track that lends itself well to the waning hours of summer.

“aligning with the sun” is out now as a limited-edition lathe-cut single via the native sound.  listen in below.

 

caitlin frame.jpg

photo courtesy of daniel dorsa

caitlin frame is an engineer and songwriter based out of brooklyn; when releasing music of her own, frame whittles her moniker down to her surname and turns in sure-handed, pulsating pop performances.  after testing the waters with a pair of prominent singles in 2014, frame is putting the finishing touches on her debut full-length, due out soon, but not too soon.

a sampling of frame’s forthcoming body of work comes in the form of “love wasted,” a mid-tempo gauge of conflicting emotions stirred up by a snapshot of a waning open relationship.  frame’s confident vocal delivery is, at times, belied by striking passages of confusion and vulnerability, and the recurring line “i don’t know what you’re running from” becomes more plaintive with each utterance.

there’s no word on a title or release date for frame’s nine-track project as of yet, but listening to “loved wasted” nine times in a row serves as an adequate substitute for the time being.  indulge below.

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photo courtesy of the artist

rekindled friendships can prove fruitful in a multitude of ways.  childhood chums josh smith and josh freed reconnected two years ago and quickly began writing the material that would comprise gosh pith’s first ep, the standout window.  the detroit duo showed an early propensity for mashing rigid beats against a combination of crooning vocals and angular guitar, forging a self-described cosmic trap that permeated their follow-up, this year’s gold chain ep.

after touring in support of their nascent yet infectious discography, smith and freed decamped to work on a new batch of tunes.  “in my car” is the first taste, its frosty, minimalist beat snapping resolutely underneath smith’s cavernous lead vocal.  the track feels surprisingly comforting despite its chilly first impressions, a testament to gosh pith’s ability to write hooks with an inherent amount of warmth and tenderness.  take a listen to “in my car” below.

mick jenkins

photo courtesy of lawrence agyei

for mick jenkins, the end game has always been the healing component.  the chicago-based rapper began garnering widespread critical acclaim with his cerebral 2014 mixtape the water[s] – though stalwart fans recognize his catalogue dates back even further – and punctuated that success with last summer’s wave[s], a comparatively lighter collection of songs that also served as his first commercial release.

while both the water[s] and wave[s] are impressive, fully-realized bodies of work, they serve as precursors to the healing component, jenkins’ frequently-mentioned magnum opus that will double as his proper debut album.  today, jenkins erased the final smudges of ambiguity surrounding the project; the healing component is set to drop september 23rd via free nation, and accompanying the album’s announcement is its lead single, “spread love.”

the track hinges on producer sango’s combination of swirling electric piano presets and stuttering drum programming, which together carve out ample pockets to accommodate jenkins’ rapid-fire bars.  but “spread love” arguably reaches its full potential when jenkins eases into its titular hook, elongating syllables in a descending cadence that echoes his propensity for low-key melodic exploration on prior works.  take a listen to the song below.

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