destroyer dan bejar

photo courtesy of the artist

the dan bejar-led vancouver outfit destroyer will release their new album poison season, the follow-up to 2011’s kaputt, on august 28th via merge records.  “dream lover,” the album’s raucous lead single, arrived today alongside the announcement and features frenetic, aqueous horn lines tangling over a particularly incessant drum beat.  take a listen below.

photo courtesy of katai

photo courtesy of katai

detroit’s gosh pith have proved that genre confines are indeed a cosmic trap on their new ep window, a collection of the tracks they’ve been teasing over the past few months.  the duo have shown just as strong of an affinity for jangly guitars as they have for deep, brooding synths, an aural dichotomy that helps window achieve a depth rarely displayed on first-time outings.  gosh pith close out their debut effort with “vietnam junkie,” a previously unheard song that trades all of the sultry, mysterious precepts of their r&b experimentation for a more honest, unfiltered take on the genre.  listen below.

shamir

photo courtesy of the artist

after a high-profile ep and a string of successful singles, twenty year-old singer shamir bailey will release his excellent debut album, ratchet, on tuesday via xl.  while bailey cut his teeth on country songs early in his public career, he mostly explores unabashed pop music through the lens of house and disco music on his full-length.  the production throughout ratchet is exquisite, though the album’s focal point is rightfully placed on bailey’s powerful and expansive vocal range, which effortlessly rests in contralto territory.

for such a sleekly-produced album, ratchet transfers over surprisingly well to the stage.  bailey frequently augments his pre-programmed tracks with varying amounts of live instrumentation, and he eschews automated backing vocals in favor of actual singers.  the result is an extremely fluid live show that reflects the buoyant energy bailey so easily conveys on record.  as a taste of what shamir bailey has to offer, watch his three-song sxsw showcase performance below.

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on the regular

in for the kill

head in the clouds

speedy ortiz released their excellent foil deer last month, a whirlwind of an album bolstered by meaty, riff-heavy singles like “raising the skate.”  the aforementioned song is one giant airing of grievances, with sadie dupuis coming across as positively liberated while she tells a toxic ex-bandmate to shove it.  the music video for “raising the skate” is appropriately morbid and creepy, with ample amounts of knives, tension, and bloody confrontation.  watch it below.

last week vince staples shared “señorita,” the first single off of his highly-anticipated debut album summertime ’06, which is due out june 30th.  the track features a future sample as its hook and staples, ever the diligent rhythmic chameleon, mimics the rapid-fire triplet delivery in his verses.  now staples has shared a visceral music video for “señorita,” helmed by director ian pons jewell.  the black and white footage appears to be a commentary on how outsiders may perceive staples’ neighborhood; a prophetic tattooed man gathers followers behind a bible emblazoned with staples’ initials, only to have them gunned down one by one.  staples weaves in and out of the carnage and disparity, symbolically escaping the circumstances when he jumps on the back of a truck to finish rapping under armed police protection.  watch the video below.

eskimeaux o.k.

out may 12th via double double whammy

the term “bedroom pop” gets thrown around quite often these days, both by blogs such as this one and by some of the artists that they cover.  it’s a fairly innocuous tag, usually referring to the home-recorded preferences of the musicians in question and their intimate, stripped-down approach to both instrumentation and lyricism.  but while some artists are conforming to the perceived confines of the genre, there are others that strive to push its boundaries.  eskimeaux and her new album o.k. land squarely in the latter category, bolstering bedroom pop blueprints with flurries of exquisite electronic augmentation.

gabrielle smith has experimented with different styles of music since she began using the moniker eskimeaux; early ventures were in the noisy realm, while a 2012 self-titled album moved on to explore elements of edm.  there are traces of those elements across o.k., but they feel streamlined, a refinement of initial dabbling that now fits more comfortably with smith’s finely-honed lyricism.  album opener “folly” illustrates this principle well.  what could be a quaint folk song quickly blossoms into a fully-orchestrated endeavor, with thick, resonant drum programming serving as the anchor of an otherwise-organic arrangement, a dichotomy explored in depth on tracks like “broken necks” and “everything you love.”

smith’s timbral choices aren’t restricted or explicitly informed by her previous output.  by and large, o.k. reads more like a rock record, with substantial low-end presence and guitar counter-melodies fleshing out smith’s initial bedroom-culled sketches.  “alone at the party” is hard-charging and scrappy, its tempo and volume belying the somber lyrical undertones, while songs like “thanks” and “the thunder answered back” toggle between straight-ahead time signatures and freer, more ambient sections with aplomb.  firmly committed to not being backed into a corner of any sorts, smith also turns in a stripped-down performance to close out o.k., its inevitable arrival foreshadowed by sustained solo passages on “i admit i’m scared” and “sparrow.”

eskimeaux’s songs may originate from a bedroom, but the end result certainly doesn’t feel confined to such a small space.  o.k. thrives on the symphonic maximalism of “pocket full of posies,” the whispering minimalism of “that’s o.k.,” and everything in between, an astute dedication to contrast that will undoubtedly lend itself well to the band’s live show.  this multidimensional album is unpredictable and uncompromising in the best ways possible; spend some time with o.k. and discover just how expansive the bedroom pop aesthetic is capable of being.

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note: eskimeaux will tour this summer with mitski and elvis depressedly.  elvis depressedly released their stunning album new alhambra via run for cover records and orchid tapes today as well.

 

dimestore saints’ hiatus was bookended by two very long train rides, the perfect time to consume multiple full albums in rapid succession.  the mixtape above is a distillation of the best of those albums; click the play button to hear cuts from kurt vile, eluvium, alvvays, and more.

out may 5th via ruby yacht/the order label

out may 5th via ruby yacht/the order label

editor’s note: every review of an album or ep has come standard with a numerical ranking assigned at the end of the article since the inception of dimestore saints.  for awhile, this seemed to be a necessity, a way to keep up with other blogs and to perhaps speak a sort of shorthand code to those wishing to find the most thought-provoking new albums in the shortest amount of time.  as this site has progressed i’ve become increasingly conflicted about assigning art an arbitrary value, which is why i’m stopping, effective immediately.  from this moment forward, one can assume that any album or ep explored in length on dimestore saints carries some amount of merit and helps to shape the ever-changing musical landscape around us.  one can also assume that any album or ep assigned the “best new music” category is not inherently superior to all other music released that week, but rather has a profound impact on the author and/or directly relates to noted cultural shifts and movements within the music community, both of which are key components when curating year-end content.  phew.  long-winded formalities aside, here’s our take on the new scallops hotel full-length.

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rory ferreira has charted an expansive course under the guise of milo, a persona culled from humble beginnings in the wisconsin rap collective nom de rap and sculpted meticulously over the past four years.  as milo gained a solid amount of traction in 2013 with a pair of eps and the stellar cavalcade mixtape, ferreira trotted out a side project called scallops hotel, one that found him mostly in charge of production and experimenting with songs devoid of conventional form.  after quietly releasing poplar grove (or how to rap with a hammer) late that year, ferreira returns – more vociferously this time – as scallops hotel once again to deliver plain speaking, a riveting back-to-basics exercise.

plain speaking is the most straightforward lyrical body of work ferreira has offered thus far in his career.  his rhyme schemes, previously dictated by sequences of quick-witted non-sequiturs and compounding philosophical references, are now extremely fluid; standout cuts like “bookoo bread co” seem to come from ferreira’s heart as much as from his mind, and the name-checks that do still necessitate a google search fit comfortably within his narrative.  many tracks also allow the audience to bear witness to ferreira’s rebirth of self.  the downtrodden “roc marciano riff suite 1″ distills his growing aversion to the aforementioned fact-checking into a tidy succession of bars before arriving at a thesis that feels central to the entire album: “don’t have to be flying / just existing.”  the notion of relishing the present moment is in line with the overall fluidity of ferreira’s delivery, and adds an extra dimension to the organic nature that already permeates plain speaking.

the musical side of the album is a bit more nuanced and showcases a personal progression rather than a strict reinvention for ferreira.  “lavender chunk” was the first piece of plain speaking teased to the general public, and for good reason; its no-frills production further underscores the project’s direct nature.  the track also functions well as a cursory overview of ferreira’s work for the casual or first-time listener, and its accessibility paired with a reasonably high-profile guest verse from hemlock ernst yields a rare product from ferreira that feels almost radio-ready.

in the context of the rest of plain speaking, however, “lavender chunk” is an anomaly.  most tracks are a bit murkier and some like “tense present” tend to shoot off suddenly into new musical thoughts, as if the non-sequiturs that previously frequented ferreira’s lyrics now manifest in his production.  stabbed piano chords dictate opening number “gnosis, black nationalism, rice”; there is an interlude where a beat pulses tentatively underneath the recitation a henry dumas poem; the penultimate cut “birther” rests comfortably as the album’s lone instrumental track.  the fluidity and renewed earnestness of ferreira’s lyrics binds together plain speaking, and its most crucial result is this unabashed – albeit exhaustive – exploration of timbres and constructs.

when scallops hotel first emerged as a side project in 2013, it felt like a devotion to the self; in 2015 it feels more like a reclamation of the self.  as milo has become increasingly subjected to public expectation, scallops hotel has served to counter any semblance of limitation.  on plain speaking, ferreira has free reign and wisely chooses to surround himself with close, integral contributors.  long-time collaborator safari al is granted one of just three guest verses on the album, and ferreira again enlisted the mixing talents of riley lake and the mastering craftwork of daddy kev.  a few tracks were outsourced to other producers, a mild concession that keeps plain speaking from becoming too self-indulgent and serves as an indicator that ferreira still benefits from outside help.  a perennial struggle for solo artists seems to be finding a proper balance between independence and collaboration; on plain speaking, rory ferreira is in full bloom.

astronauts, etc.

photo courtesy of gari askew

anthony ferraro helms the oakland-based project astronauts, etc., the contemplative outfit responsible for the plaintive cut “i know” from earlier this year.  ferraro and his band have a full-length due out sometime this fall, and they recently shared a second single called “no justice.”  the song’s minimal sonic palate is ideal for ferraro’s falsetto in this setting, paring down to the bare essentials to give his poignant hooks and earnest verses the space they need to resonate.  take a listen to “no justice” below.

made in heights

photo courtesy of the artist

los angeles duo made in heights have been slowly doling samples of their upcoming sophomore album, recently revealed to be titled without my enemy what would i do.  after last month’s “forgiveness,” kelsey bulkin and sabzi have returned with “slow burn,” a track that’s presumably the last premature taste of their record.  “slow burn” recalls earlier tracks like “panther” with its low-key production and minimal melodic tools, though bulkin’s voice is notably more fluid than on previous outings.  take a listen below.

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