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photo courtesy of the artist

greg gonzalez’ perennial sighs echo throughout the cavernous soundscape collectively culled and maintained by the brooklyn quartet cigarettes after sex.  though lyrical intimacy is often at its forefront, the sheer depth of the band’s sonic architecture allows for other, more complex emotions to often permeate through each track’s aesthetic as well, a dual-strength collage of wistfulness capable of settling in for the long haul.

after releasing an impulsive collection of sparse, affecting songs in 2012, cigarettes after sex worked sporadically, putting out one-off singles here and there while retaining a captive, patient audience.  the advent of their latest single, “k.,” tosses any sense of uncertainty and ambiguity about forthcoming material out the window; a full-length album is due out next year via the band’s new home, partisan records.

“k.” is a lush, expansive primer for those experiencing cigarettes after sex for the first time; gonzalez’ lead vocal sits, as always, squarely in the foreground, longing for a lost love while his bandmates create a meditative pulse underneath.  jacob tomsky’s work on the trap set is the unsung glue holding the track together, an adamant kick-snare combination juxtaposed by a whispered ride cymbal pattern that embodies the band’s dichotomy in rhythmic form.

gonzalez’ guitar interludes, when locked in with randy miller’s plaintive bass lines and phillip tubbs’ warm keyboard pads, are the epitome of dream pop’s fluid tendencies, but it’s when those elements largely drop out that “k.” transcends expectations and becomes a masterful exercise in restraint.  take a listen below.

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photo courtesy of hunter adams

for a majority of americans, the unconscionable happened early last wednesday morning: a virulently racist, misogynistic, xenophobic demagogic figure garnered enough electoral college votes to become the nation’s next president.  there are myriad consequences to nearly sixty million voters choosing to look past – or wholeheartedly embrace – the routinely abhorrent rhetoric of such a vile, narcissistic man and cast their ballots in his favor; the most pressing may be the impending assault on the civil and reproductive rights of women, people of color, and members of the lgbtq community.

with the other branches of federal government proving to most likely be amenable towards tyrannical impulses, private organizations and local, grassroots political movements will take charge combatting the majority of infringements.  the former, especially, will be further aided by the help of donations; the american civil liberties union, planned parenthood, the rape, abuse & incest national network, along with so many other institutions, will provide vital services to those most immediately affected by the outcome of this election.

various members of the music community have begun to offer up new works and full catalogues for purchase, with the entirety of proceeds being donated to various organizations.  both run for cover and father/daughter records donated their stream of bandcamp revenue through this past weekend to planned parenthood; yohuna is donating her bandcamp sales to the audre lorde project; patient sounds will be splitting donations between the aclu and planned parenthood through december 9th; our pals at gold flake paint will be donating all of their digital sales to the trevor project and have compiled a more comprehensive list of artists and labels and where their donations will go.

nick zanca, who records and releases electronic music as mister lies, has put together a compilation of ambient and drone music recorded over the past several years entitled textures: 2010-2016. the ninety-minute album is available to purchase from his bandcamp page, with all proceeds going to planned parenthood.  a sample of the sprawling body of work exists below, in the form of the arresting “upstate and empty,” a snapshot of muted ambiance that becomes more striking the longer it’s left on repeat.

those with the financial means to donate to organizations in dire need of support are encouraged to follow any or all of the links embedded above.  hit the play button on “upstate and empty” below and navigate away.

 

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photo courtesy of the artist

if you somehow still haven’t listened to margaret glaspy’s phenomenal debut album, emotions and math, now would be a great time to do so. oh, and for good measure, be sure to absorb her arresting npr “tiny desk” performance from earlier this year as well.

all caught up?

good, now you can fully appreciate glaspy’s latest music video, this one adding visuals to her album’s title track.  in the claire marie vogel-directed clip, glaspy kills time at a mundane office job while she susses out feelings for the song’s subject, creating a formidable wall collage in the process.  check out the music video for “emotions and math” below.

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photo courtesy of leigh righton

it’s been more than four years since japandroids’ triumphant, no frills sophomore album, celebration rock arrived, propelling the vancouver duo to critical acclaim and spurning a massive, grueling international tour in support of its success. time was needed to recoup.

brian king and dave prowse ended a long period of dormancy earlier this fall when they began playing select dates around north america, their set lists peppered with new material.  an album announcement was imminent; near to the wild heart of life is due out january 27th via anti – and polyvinvyl records, a mixture of new and familiar distribution for the band.

the album’s title track also serves as its thundering lead single, with all of the japandroids hallmarks in tow: a wall of guitar (with a lead line superimposed ever so slightly over the top); punishing floor toms; beer-can-in-hand sing-along hooks; a chorus of “whoa-oh”s for good measure.  in the sequence of the overall album, however, this song may prove to be an anomaly, as an extensive pitchfork interview conveys the band’s desire to become more three-dimensional in their songwriting.  expect near to the wild heart of life to be just as grandiose, just perhaps in a different manner.

in the interim, there is this titanic lead single, an anthem of anthems from one of this century’s most anthemic bands.  take a listen to “near to the wild heart of life” below.

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“album of the fortnight” is a new 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: the radio dept.

america’s political climate has been so tumultuous for the past year and change that you’d most likely be forgiven if you believed this ominous instability was confined to our borders.  it’s not.  great britain’s exit from the european union earlier this year was tinged with nationalist, nativist rhetoric.  prominent right-wing extremism has also resurfaced in germany, partially in opposition to an influx of migrants seeking refuge and asylum from their war-ravaged homelands.

to the north, a similar nationalist movement is stirring amidst a larger backlash against immigration; the swedish democrats, misleading moniker in tow, have recently made strides in the country’s parliament, providing structure and platform to an enraged, panic subset of citizens.  the radio dept.’s first album in six years, running out of love, was crafted in response to this excess of fear-mongering, a well-measured retort against bubbling hysteria delivered that’s in smooth consonance.

i’m not a diehard radio dept. fan; to be quite honest, the swedish duo existed more as a peripheral awareness in my mind before this album cycle took hold.  in recent months, pet grief and clinging to a scheme have become familiar bodies of work (lesser matters has yet to be digested), but the radio dept.’s seminal status amongst indie pop bands is clear and warranted.  hooks are effortless, intimate; instrumentation augments the pair’s maximalist and minimalist moments with equal aplomb, trading guitars for synths and adjusting timbres within each family as needed.

 

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photo courtesy of per vikström

more than half a decade away clearly was not a hindrance to the duo’s songwriting partnership; the ten tracks across running out of love retain a singular fluidity, from examinations of a nordic arms race amidst distorted, stuttering synth pads on “swedish guns” to the buoyant, trebly bass line found in “this thing was bound to happen” all the way through to the utterly irresistible vocal hooks sprinkled throughout “committed to the cause.”  johan duncanson’s lead vocals are perennially pillowy and inviting, so much so that it becomes easy to overlook the gravity of songs like “slobada narodu” and his blatant calls for “freedom now” or the pensiveness that pervades the rather maudlin subject matter of “can’t be guilty.”

most likely aware of this inherent enveloping quality, the radio dept. do dedicate sufficient album space to confronting these political issues head-on (see the repeated hook in “swedish guns” over its aforementioned sonic texture and the steadfast, drone-like mentality that permeates “committed to the cause.”)  running out of love already feels, as does the rest of the duo’s catalogue, like a timeless piece of work, but it’s also an inherent product of 2016’s turmoil, a beautiful collection of songs that strives to combat what is hopefully a political aberration, but sadly may become the new norm.  ingest thoughtfully, with pen and paper nearby.