copenhagen trio chinah burned slow on their debut single, last month’s “away from me,” but they pack a bit more momentum on their latest effort “we go back.” in fact, the track operates as a diptych of sorts; fold open “we go back” at the three-minute mark and gritty synthesizers soon overpower the mix, laying the groundwork for an extended coda that focuses on calm, cool lyrical repetition to juxtapose the cascading, monolithic soundscape bubbling underneath. like its predecessor, “we go back” is culled from an upcoming ep. take a listen below.
sayth and north house began teasing their collaborative project, body pillow, in the early months of summer with “pink pistols,” a staple in sayth’s live repertoire elevated by meticulous production from north house. the duo subsequently went silent for the month of july, building anticipation before releasing a steady stream of material this month. “under water • under ice” is the final piece of body pillow to surface, a brooding outing devoid of any guest spots which allows sayth to jockey between a bleak, realistic outlook on life (see also: the melancholy delivery of the line “wave hi to the cancer”) and the incendiary hook “this is for the kids that know that words matter / break a broken window theory / watch that shit shatter,” a sentiment that feels like a suitable mantra for sayth’s persona. most notably, “under water • under ice” largely wanders away from non-sequitur crutches at the behest of north house’s steady arpeggios and shadowy synth pads, the production’s uniformity allowing sayth the space to create a serious, cohesive narrative to complement the one doled out on “pink pistols.”
body pillow is available to stream and download here. take a listen to “under water • under ice” below.
chicago upstart mick jenkins released his highly anticipated wave[s] ep last friday, a nine-track effort that fleshes out the groundwork laid by 2014’s the water[s] while serving as a placeholder for jenkins’ ever-pending full-length, the healing component. in tandem with the project’s release came a music video for “get up get down,” a standout cut featuring ambitious, at times angular production from stefan ponce and thempeople. co-directors nathan r. smith and sebastian sdaigui enlisted three kids from a local dance school to put their interpretive spin on “get up get down” for an end result that reflects jenkins’ conscious brand of rap and his dedication to the chicago arts scene. check it out below.
we’ve done a rather poor job of masking our affinity for yumi zouma here at dimestore saints, so we’re appropriately elated that the band’s upcoming 12″ compilation for cascine features an unearthed track. “right, off the bridge” is packaged with the rest of ep i, and on its surface the track mirrors the laid-back, guarded nature that defined yumi zouma’s early approach to songwriting. as it progresses, however, “right, off the bridge” gradually cedes musical direction to the mindset that birthed the more anthemic hooks found across ep ii, signaling it as the perfect segue between the band’s two distinct chronological periods. pre-orders for the ep collection are up now over at cascine’s webstore; stream “right, off the bridge” below.
mark mcguire stepped away from his role in the ambient electronic trio emeralds back in 2013 to focus on an even more experimental solo career. mcguire’s work under the moniker the road chief stretches back even further; it’s a dj handle he’s used since the late 2000’s, and it recently became attached to mcguire’s output of comparatively sunny, groove-driven electro-pop. seven of these tracks are packaged into all my love, an effervescent album to soundtrack the waning weeks of summer.
in both emeralds and his solo work, mcguire musical identity has been firmly rooted in the guitar; the instrument crops up here and there across all my love, but its role is secondary, riding comfortably in the backseat while the union of stuttering drums and a 1980’s-inspired synth palette powers the project. tracks like “summer eyes” and “always open” flutter around effortlessly in the breeze, punctuated by handfuls of complementing melodic ideas that ride atop fat bass lines and even-keeled drum beats, while “thinkin about you” absolutely brims with confidence, its assertive backbeat never wavering as it ushers in each new segment of the song.
mcguire adequately avoids prolonged frivolity by occasionally getting introspective. “is this really love?” anchors the album, and its slow build and gradual layering of nearly every synth tone in mcguire’s arsenal delivers a contrast to the runaway, feel-good effects established by his interpretation of electro-pop. similarly, “that night” functions well as the de facto come-down track on all my love, using its fleeting arpeggios and penultimate placement to foreshadow the majestic sweeps of the closing number, “so alone.”
all my love is a good summer driving record. whether you’re cruising rural county backroads in landlocked states or trekking up or down either coast in search of the ocean, the road chief will add aural cues to your visual memories. no one track demands greater attention than the others; instead, the components of all my love form a cohesive bond, yielding a product suitable to be heard on a continuous loop. give it a spin.
there’s probably a diet cig full-length album in the works somewhere, and it’ll probably be very, very good. in the meantime, alex luciano and noah bowman are offering up a new 7″ on the heels of their excellent debut ep over easy. “sleep talk” b/w “dinner date” is due out on vinyl via father/daughter records and art is hard records on september 18th; we heard the a-side last month and earlier this week the duo shared “dinner date,” a surging mid-tempo anthem that culminates in luciano’s strongest vocal hook to date. take a listen below.
jackson phillips records sun-bleached bedroom pop as day wave, a promising new project that has already yielded a solid debut ep, last month’s headcase. the joy division influences are evident and self-admitted, so it comes as no surprise that phillips would rattle off an impressive cover of “ceremony,” the seminal new order track with origins tracing back to the final days of joy division. phillips sticks close to the original script, only altering a few rhythms here and there while filtering the guitar lines through his trademark haze. it’s a nice addendum to headcase and an interlude that will sate the appetite of those awaiting more day wave material. listen to the cover of “ceremony” below.
eric wells is a fixture in wisconsin’s diy scene right now. he gigs constantly around the state and frequently crosses the state line to rap in the minneapolis/st. paul area; when he’s not performing, wells dedicates a majority of his time to tirelessly promoting the other local musicians around him, enthusiastically sharing their new work via co-ordinated social media blasts and plugging all-ages events. this tireless networking has yielded fruitful results; much of this past year has been spent developing lowkey radical, a burgeoning record label that hosts many of wells’ most-trusted collaborators.
one of the label’s first releases will be body pillow, a four-track co-op between wells and alex tronson, a minneapolis-bred producer who performs as north house. the duo chose to eschew conventional release format, opting instead to slowly share each song individually before sending out pre-ordered physical copies; so far, body pillow has featured “pink pistols” with its searing macklemore slam and “a formal apology to grandma wells,” a non-sequitur-laced commentary on awkward family vacations with a prominent guest verse from wealthy relative.
the project’s third single, “maybe god is afraid of us?”, is comparatively introspective, defined by a murky, futuristic north house beat and a heartbreaking display of vulnerability from wells as he anticipates the inevitable end of a relationship. compounded by an indelible guest hook from baby blanket, the track is a pensive comedown, providing extensive levels of depth and contrast to body pillow as a cohesive unit. “maybe god is afraid of us?” is streaming for the first time ever right here on dimestore saints; listen to the premiere above, and read on below for an exclusive interview with sayth about the creation of body pillow and his plans for the new label.
you worked with north house a bit on bad habitat last year. what led the two of you to want to make a fully collaborative project?
since the release of bad habitat, north house has become one of my best friends. last winter i started performing with him more and more, just to have someone else to jump around with on stage and hang with in green rooms. i have a lot of respect for his drive as a producer. he’ll sit down and spend whole days working on one beat and he’s constantly posting them on places like reddit’s r/futurebeats, searching for critique and feedback. i’ve seen his production style improve and evolve solely from having the ambition to ask for help and take advice. this ep just felt really natural; i’d have new raps and be like, “you got any beats?” he’d play me something and i’d jump around and just start rapping to it. that’s how the whole thing happened; we just did whatever felt right. i love working with him because he has his own lane and an impressive body of solo work. he’s also one of the easiest people to travel with and likes to party just as much as i do, so that doesn’t hurt.
what’s the ethos behind body pillow? what frame of mind were you in when writing its material?
the bulk of this project was written in late 2014/early 2015, in the cold wisconsin winter. i was drinking a lot of whiskey and living on a shoestring budget. to me, each track on body pillow seems to have a more concrete theme than bad habitat’s songs did, though that was never my intention setting out. for example, i wrote my verse for “a formal apology to grandma wells” about a vacation i took with my family to north carolina where i basically just drank johnny walker red and sat by the pool the whole time feeling like a loser. when we took the trip i had just turned twenty-one and was living illegally in a tiny shared room near downtown eau claire, still unsure if dropping out of college was the right choice. pair that with a week-long family reunion in a house with all of my cousins and you get a verse full of self-doubt and uneasiness.
the two tracks released so far lean heavily on outside contributions, be it videography or a guest verse. how important have your friends been to the shape body pillow has taken?
very important. in the last year i’ve really started surrounding myself with friends that create music-related content in some way, whether that’s design, video work, beats, raps, whatever. a solid portion of navigating my place in music has been figuring out what i’m good at, and what my friends are better at. i can rap, but i can’t design my way out of a paper bag or storyboard a video – well, i could, but not on a professional level. i feel very blessed. dan forke, whom i’ve been friends with since middle school, has done wonders as my art director. my brother spencer is a professional photographer and is super experienced with video work. north house knows how to master a track in a flash, and make it sound radio-ready. that’s the idea of lowkey radical: we all contribute our strengths to each other’s art so that the content we put out is the best it can be. sayth on a surface level is just me rapping, but there’s a squad of people helping me out.
the production on “maybe god is afraid of us?” feels a bit darker and more cerebral than other tracks on body pillow. did this inform your lyrical direction at all?
i actually wrote those two verses to a riley lake beat. i played two shows with him in early november of 2014 and he gave me a beat tape he had produced. after i wrote it i asked him about the beat and he said rory (ferreira, aka milo, aka scallops hotel) had already claimed it. so then i found this north house beat and i thought the verses fit really well. i wrote the hook in january and tried to sing it with some autotune but it was sounding really goofy. then we added luke (baby blanket) recently and it felt solid right away; his voice already sounds autotuned.
“maybe god is afraid of us?” feels very tender. can you speak to your headspace for this particular track, abstractly if need-be?
i wrote that song while i was in a relationship and essentially predicted its expiration. the song is about losing productivity to love and the anxieties that come with that. love is expensive.
what’s next for you? are you going to play out with the body pillow material for awhile, or are you looking ahead to new projects?
we’re cutting more tracks for a november or december release. i moved to minneapolis recently; i’m living at a basement venue called green greens with alex adkinson (formerly of soflty, dear) and he basically has a studio in his room so we can record whenever we want. i love living here. i sleep in the basement and it’s grungy and i feel like a pirate. tickle torture is playing here in september; i love that I can sit in my bed and watch bands play. luke, wealthy, and north house are always around so we’re cooking up new songs all the time.
as far as immediate releases go, i’m focusing most of my effort on getting out eps for the rest of the label. dan has one set to go for late august, astral samara is dropping his debut tape in september, and we have a lowkey radical compilation tape coming out in october.
one more collaborative track from sayth and north house is due soon. we’ll also be following the developments of lowkey radical closely as the fall progresses. stream “maybe god is afraid of us?” one more time to let it sink in, and then visit sayth and north house on all of their socials.
katy morley removes the e from her surname and performs as morly, and this subtractive practice embeds itself in her music. after disappearing into her bedroom with a handful of instruments in 2013, the minnesota songwriter emerged earlier this year with in defense of my muse, an incredibly-focused debut ep containing a smattering of haunting, minimalist compositions.
the intimacy of in defense of my muse should feel immediate. morly is adept at crafting microcosmic worlds of sound that each have their own storied histories, from the juxtaposition of muted acoustic piano and warped vocal loops on “you came to dis sky” to the piano’s gorgeous union with foggy synth pads on ‘and sooner than we know it…”, but it would be short-sighted to attribute morly’s impressionable aesthetic solely to the warmth and familiarity that permeate her music’s outer shell.
woven into the unquestionable beauty are extended passages of agitation – particularly the discordant synthesizer interjections throughout “seraphase” – that delve into a second, comparatively unexplored dimension of morly’s persona. there’s a side of her music that swaddles you gently in a blanket next to a wood-burning stove, while the other embodies the flames in the fire, capable of lashing out at unpredictable intervals.
each song on in defense of my muse can be peeled back to its original, minimal piano sketch; it’s easy to imagine these slowly coming to fruition in a state of introspective solitude. these simple melodic fragments impose no musical limitations, though, and that’s the truly impressive component of morly’s approach to songwriting. whether they’re grounded in brooding textures, integrated into more euphoric dance explorations, or converted into subterranean harmonic progressions on “drone poem (in defense of my muse)”, the motifs serve as the ultimate reference point, and the piano’s versatility is the perfect analog to an artist that resists genre confinement.
morly’s debut effort is fulfilling. there’s enough artistic self-awareness throughout in defense of my muse for it to function well as a standalone unit, should morly ever decide to step away from her solo project, but the subtle intricacies of the dissonance she explores almost beg to be developed further. hopefully this is just the start of something. in defense of my muse is out friday via cascine; stream it here.
eau claire-bred rapper eric wells has been no stranger to dimestore saints; his 2014 ep bad habitat landed on our year-end best-of list, and we’ve been keeping close tabs on his subsequent projects. wells is prepping his latest release as sayth, a collaborative effort with producer north house called body pillow, and today he shared the projects’s second single. “a formal apology to grandma wells” is powered by an absolutely filthy bass line and continues to showcase wells’ lyrical adroitness as he fluctuates effortlessly between slight self-deprecation and tongue-in-cheek references. a large chunk of “grandma wells” is then ceded to sayth’s frequent collaborator wealthy relative before a soothing gang-vocal hook sees the track home. body pillow is out later this month; listen to “a formal apology to grandma wells” below.