saba bryan allan lamb.jpg

photo courtesy of bryan allen smith

chance the rapper may be the most visible entity in chicago’s vibrant, multi-faceted hip-hop community, but so many integral cogs in that machine exist just beneath the surface.  three such cogs collide on “church / liquor store”; the track may bear saba’s moniker at the forefront, but it hinges just as much on cam o’bi’s liquid production and noname’s dexterous guest verse as it does on the west side native’s vivid word painting.

in a year that has already delivered coloring book, mick jenkins’ the healing component, and noname’s indispensable telefone mixtape, the latest cut from saba’s forthcoming bucket list project feels like a warranted punctuation mark, another visceral examination of adverse daily life.  take a listen to “church / liquor store” below.


photo courtesy of the artist

this fall seems to be a prime time for swedish indie-pop stalwarts to re-emerge.  on the heels of the radio dept.’s first album in six years comes new music from their labrador label-mates, the mary onettes, as well.  the quartet’s first single in over a year, “juna,” is the focal point of an oxford television campaign called cool robot, and is currently enjoying the generous hosting of the inimitable cascine.

with its crystalline synth arpeggios and gentle percussive propulsion, “juna” is anthemic and inspiring in just the right ways.  take a listen to the track below.


ghostly international

“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: tycho.

the public’s perception of scott hansen’s work as tycho has, up until september 30th, been primarily informed by two studio albums: 2011’s dive and 2014’s awake.  sure, there’s his 2006 debut, past is prologue, but that album feels like a true prologue, just a hint of the aesthetic hansen would soon craft.

dive is aqueous, spacious, patient enough to allow monolithic soundscapes to emerge from subterranean depths.  echoes of chillwave inevitably reverberate off of the album’s cavernous confines, but dive feels primarily concerned with absorbing and retaining as much potential energy as possible.  hansen then released that energy in kinetic form on awake; the acquisition of drummer rory o’connor, kept on retainer by ghostly international before becoming a full-fledged member of tycho, propelled the octet of songs considerably, toying with polyrhythms and busy subdivisions while still letting pockets of ambience bleed into the texture.

it’s fitting, then, that hansen has been so forthcoming about cherry-picking the best of both constructed worlds and inserting them into his latest full-length, epoch.  tycho’s fourth album is an even split between ambient and kinetic, meting out wondrous, pulsating exercises while simultaneously expanding the project’s more pensive arm to turn in thoughtful, incredibly measured interludes as counterpoint.

tycho lauren crew 2.jpg

photo courtesy of lauren crew

“glider” percolates, “division” stutters, synths on “local” slowly swallow a trebly guitar motif; action verbs are a dime a dozen throughout epoch, a clear-eyed realization of hansen’s near-decade of work.  central melodic figures feel less and less important, as cacophony and fugue structure are more necessary to achieve such a massive, continuous wall of sound.

o’connor’s drumming throughout epoch is an explicit force to be reckoned with.  much of the album’s true nuances don’t present themselves as such, as blistering, metronomic sub-divisions and deft polyrhythmic misdirections are hard to miss.  percussion is the key ingredient to tycho’s secret recipe; epoch reads closer to a rock record than anything else in hansen’s canon, a transformation that can be largely attributed to o’connor’s near-perpetual residence in the foreground of each song’s mix.

epoch has been billed as a dark chapter in the chronicle of tycho, though this ominous tone is, at times, difficult to discern.  maybe it lurks deeper in the shadows, a covert operative.  for those not intimately invested in its creation, epoch reads more like the sunset that can be interpreted from its album artwork: a twilight performance with a final burst of energy before a long, pensive period of hibernation.  perhaps tycho will venture into more overtly murky territory in the future; for now, let epoch soundtrack the waning moments of your day.



photo courtesy of the artist

the best kinds of power-pop songs are packed full of indelible counterpoint.  on “i need you,” the lead-off single from private interest’s forthcoming debut ep, only for a moment, the minneapolis quartet pits a robust, busy bass line against chiming guitar chords, and then weaves a winding countermelody through that already-solid infrastructure.  throw an impassioned lead vocal and a scorching guitar solo on top and you’re left with one of the more impressive sub-two-minute singles to surface in recent memory.

only for a moment is out october 21st via the ever-important forged artifacts.  take a listen to “i need you” below.

Forth Wanderers Press Photo (Landscape)

photo courtesy of grace rossi-conaway

forth wanderers have an unassuming charm and such a degree of relatability that it remains little wonder why their music has already spread to millions of people.  the members of the montclair, new jersey quintet are gearing up for a november 11th release of their latest ep, slop, via the label tag-team of house anxiety / marathon artists across the pond and the inimitable father/daughter records stateside; after dangling the ep’s title track in front of listeners in august, forth wanderers return today with a second single, “know better.”

again built around the tandem of ava trilling’s voice and ben guteri’s guitar, “know better” is an angular cut laden with catchy hooks to help mask the pain and confusion that accompanies past mistakes, along with any residual fallout.  trilling’s lead vocal is particularly biting in certain instances, perhaps no more so than when she deliver’s the song’s mantra: “i can’t be this naïve anymore.”  like other forth wanderers material, this song’s combination of immediacy and poignancy is striking; take a listen to “know better” below.