May Roosevelt

photo courtesy of mike rafail

before the dimestore takes a two-week hiatus, we wanted to leave you with this utterly gorgeous offering from greek producer may roosevelt.  “air” is culled from roosevelt’s forthcoming full-length junea, out october 23rd via inner ear records, and it’s an appropriately atmospheric track packed with swaths of ethereal vocals draped over brassy synth swells and a persistent four-on-the-floor pulse.  taken together, the components of “air” are decidedly chilly yet somehow enveloping, comforting; an analogue to the crisp autumn days that will define the hemisphere in the days to come.  find solace below.

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“album of the fortnight” is a bi-weekly feature that digs into a recent release of note.  the articles will run roughly during the middle and at the end of each month, always on a friday; the album or body of work in question will have been released at some point during that two-week span.  this column focuses on art that resonates deeply, on pieces that necessitate more than just a knee-jerk reaction.  next up: florist.

it’s tempting to be swallowed whole by the outward fragility of florist; emily sprague’s frank musings are accompanied by sparse, quiet instrumentation, a potent combination whose resulting intimacy and vulnerability should not be downplayed.  however, the fragile depiction of florist belies the determination that ultimately resonates across the band’s work and sprague’s lyrics.  if blue could be happiness, florist’s sophomore full-length, is matter-of-fact in its delivery, its broad scope equally capable of mining both serenity and devastation.

if blue could be happiness is the logical sonic successor to florist’s debut, the birds outside sang.  both albums hinge on sprague’s stream of consciousness and her gentle, finger-picked acoustic guitar, while consonant synthesizers ebb and flow amidst swells of percussion and occasional flourishes of strings; if anything, blue seems to demonstrate more control over this quiet, restrained method of orchestration.  it’s a familiar palette, therapeutic in its presentation, a calming demeanor gently swaying in an eternal breeze.  but whereas birds examined the aftermath of a near-death experience, blue occasionally zooms in on the loss of a family member and the subsequent reverberations.  the exploration of mortality continues, with a subtle change of the lens.

Florist - If Blue Could Be Happiness - Press Photo 2

photo courtesy of the artist

though the unexpected passing of sprague’s mother certainly informs sizable swaths of blue, framing the album solely in terms of grief does a disservice to the multitude of emotions sprague is able to deftly sift through.  the centerpiece “glowing brightly” perhaps exhibits this intricacy best; the track turns on the aching line of “mom, i love you / i still hear your voice inside my sleep” but quickly segues into a more uplifting realm, the titular verb and adverb brushstrokes on a sprawling canvas of picturesque, natural beauty.  elsewhere, sprague ruminates on the simple wonders of love (“eyes in the sun”) and devotes “thank you light” to a color-filled, poignant examination of self.

of course, the color blue carries significance far beyond its titular placement, almost becoming a desired state of existence that sprague explores in various capacities across the album.  on “understanding light” she wonders “why can’t i find a place to hide from the darkness? / i want to live in the blueness,” the hue becoming a more vibrant middle ground in between, or maybe an alternative to, the simple dichotomy of light and dark. on “what i wanted to hold,” a loving violet is slowly sun-bleached blue; later, a pale iteration is conflated with general well-being.

by the time sprague repeats the title track’s hypnotic, swaying mantra, if blue could be happiness has already graduated into a class with few other peers.  largely devoid of typical verse-chorus structures, blue feels squarely like an album reserved for intimate, introspective personal journeys, perhaps in bucolic surroundings.  it’s an album adorned with gorgeous snapshots of life, love, loss, friendship, and permutations of their various intersections; perhaps just as critically, blue also takes pointed pitstops to marvel at the myriad wonders of nature, a gentle reminder that while life is fleeting, beauty is omnipresent.

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photo courtesy of daniel glynn

christian gunning’s production as shelf nunny has always been methodically downtempo, a gorgeously chilly tapestry with pelagic undertones fitting for a project in close proximity to the puget sound.  next friday, gunning will release little time we have, his sophomore extended play, that ventures to an outpost on the hazy border between electronic and pop music.

for a primer, enter “washed out.”  the extended play’s third track (and, consequently, its centerpiece) is one of two offerings to feature toronto-based audioopera on vocals, a partnership spurned by a previous, positive collaborative experience.  his airy, ethereal falsetto nestles somewhere in the middle of the texture, right alongside a sparse rhythm section and flittering snippets of melody, an initially hesitant union that blossoms into something spectacular during the song’s second half.

little time we have is out september 29th via hush hush records.  take a listen to “washed out,” which premieres here on the dimestore, below.

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photo courtesy of the artist

little more than a year after releasing harland, the montreal-based singer-songwriter harley alexander is gearing up for the advent of a new mini-album, spill kid.  alexander leads somewhat of a nomadic lifestyle, splitting his time between performing in montreal and planting trees clear across the country, just outside of vancouver.  it was on the west coast that this latest batch of songs took shape; nestled in amongst nurturing tape hiss and warm acoustic guitars are slightly poignant ruminations on alexander’s surroundings.

“tiny bricks,” the first offering from alexander’s forthcoming release, studiously evokes every facet of this aesthetic.  inside a simple structure of drum programming and softly-strummed chords lies a hazy narrative, one that examines the soothing familiarity of nature as it relates to a smattering of interpersonal vulnerability.  punctuated by a mournful melodic motif that sustains throughout its coda, “tiny bricks” is an excellent glimpse into the intimate environment that is spill kid.

spill kid arrives october 20th via sports day records.  marinate in “tiny bricks” below.

“album of the fortnight” is a (recently revived) bi-weekly feature that digs into a recent release of note.  the articles will run roughly during the middle and at the end of each month, always on a friday; the album or body of work in question will have been released at some point during that two-week span.  this column focuses on art that resonates deeply, on pieces that necessitate more than just a knee-jerk reaction.  next up: lomelda

it feels almost sacrilegious to listen to lomelda in anything other than a solitary setting, preferably with headphones.  hannah read’s music doesn’t resonate as lonely so much as it does as an examination of what it means to be alone, a sentiment that courses through the river that is her second full-length album, thx.  attached to that sentiment is a cocktail of emotions that is equal parts hesitant, curious, and content, a mixture that proves perfect fodder for a thirty-five minute rumination on one’s current state of being.

read’s voice is so arresting, her delivery so immediate throughout thx that this may distract from its status as a high-caliber guitar album, but her simultaneous six-string work is arguably its linchpin.  angular lead motifs, like the meandering descent on “interstate vision” or the angular tremolo stabs throughout “from here,” frequently interlock with chord progressions that are as likely to be gritty as they are cleanly strummed, weaving a tapestry that’s as sweeping as the rural texas landscape.  that landscape always seems to factor in thematically, no matter how indirect: it’s an obstacle, something to contend with; it’s the backdrop to moments of solace, to familiarity; it’s just simply there.

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photo courtesy of adan carlo

like other mononymous projects attributed to one central songwriter and persona, lomelda blurs the line between read’s solo project and an exclusive club to which only those closest are granted admission.  perhaps the decision is conscious, perhaps it’s just par for the course.  the primary contributor throughout thx is read’s brother, tommy, who co-produced, played drums on, and wrote an iteration of the album’s most outwardly-visceral cut, “bam sha klam.”  in a four-generation homestead in tiny silsbee, texas, maybe that collaboration was inevitable; a close-knit family is also a convenient sounding board, able to provide some semblance of reaffirmation.

much of thx oscillates around the first and second person, the union and the separation of the characters “you” and “i.”  the malleability of read’s vocal melodies is readily present, but it’s the sentiments of the material retrofitted to those contours that leaves a lasting impression, that finds listeners absent-mindedly mumbling certain mantras to themselves for weeks to come.  the stories read tells and the snapshot moments she dissects may not be entirely congruous to the experiences of her audience, but the general themes at once feel incredibly intimate and yet accessible, almost universal.  that deft maneuvering and presentation is what makes lomelda so special.

delve into the brief, sparse title track to get wrecked by a matter-of-fact narrative; put a circle around penultimate cut “mostly m.e.” if you feel like getting wrecked again.  read’s propensity of peppering a very straight-forward approach to storytelling with beautiful imagery is perhaps her most disarming quality, creating an ever-so-slight mystic quality on par with the origin of her project’s name.  thx resonates like few other albums this year, and has arrived at an incredibly convenient point on the calendar.  block out a half-hour, grab a pair of headphones, and let it reverberate through your very core.