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lens mozer – “such a drag”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

lens mozer’s foot rides the brake, his lived-in brand of sun-bleached guitar pop coasting smoothly along the california coast. the los angeles native scotty cantino has parlayed this moniker into a conduit for hazy memories with an excellent full-length album, don’t stop, in tow.

“such a drag,” the final single ahead of cantino and company’s debut, is guided by a purposeful – and slightly mournful – tenor, its titular refrain eventually wilting, ceding territory to buzzsaw guitar motifs and gauzy synth countermelodies. a mid-tempo lament fit to accompany myriad montages, “such a drag” is emblematic of the affect lens mozer so effortlessly culls.

don’t stop is out tomorrow via plastic jurassic; listen to “such a drag” below.

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teen daze – “spring”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

jamison isaak has spent the past decade recording music, sometimes under the moniker teen daze, sometimes not. his various releases have in turn been dance-oriented, drone-based, or pop-leaning, but the common thread has been the inherent introspectiveness each album or extended play elicits as a whole.

isaak released material under his own name for the first time just last year, turning in a pair of meditative EPs grounded in piano and pedal steel treatments before returning his attention to teen daze with “hidden worlds” in the waning hours of 2018.

with the release of “spring” late last week, the latest incarnation of isaak’s flagship project has come into sharper focus; a worn-in, descending guitar loop is parked in the foreground as complementary elements develop methodically around it, its vernal bloom a snapshot of the purposefulness long woven through teen daze’s output.

“spring” is out now ahead of bioluminescence, due april 26th via isaak’s own label, FLORA. take a listen below.

premiere – jupiter sprites

– featured image courtesy of bella king –

the olympia, washington, quartet jupiter sprites quietly occupies a small parcel of land on the outer strands of the ether, their lilting dream pop imbued with an extra dose of hypnosis. after testing the waters late last year with “save the mystery,” the band returns today with “only good stuff,” a comparatively drowsy cut that offers up another aural facet on their self-titled debut extended play, due early next month.

“the song is sort of an homage to that feeling of gratitude that comes about when you realize how much you appreciate someone,” the band said in a statement via e-mail. adorned with rose-colored glasses and a vernal predisposition, “only good stuff” is a potent distillation to jupiter sprites’ core shoegazing tenets, the perfect introduction to a promising new band.

jupiter sprites arrives february 1st. take a listen to its opening number, “only good stuff,” premiering on the dimestore below.

true blossom – heater

– featured image courtesy of rob lambert –

true blossom is an uncannily accurate moniker for a young band with a debut this polished, this confident. the atlanta-based quintet formed around the collaborative spark of vocalist sophia cox and guitarist chandler kelley in the humid early summer of 2017, accumulating its final three members and writing many of the songs that appear on its first full-length, heater, throughout the rest of the year. across ten tracks, true blossom turns in a vibrant portfolio of pristine synth-pop, one that pays astute homage to its studio-focused forebears while still keying in on diy aesthetics.

after the irresistible lead-off single “baby” and a triumphant bloom of synthesizers on its companion piece, “me & u,” heater hits its stride on “flu punks,” the core aural tenets of true blossom coalescing in a tidy package; prominent, elastic bass lines, brassy synth leads, and crisp guitar bell-tones weave a tapestry atop a robust percussive foundation, a rich template that informs many of the album’s subsequent tracks.

on heater’s title track, cox and synthesist jamison murphy engage in an abstract conversation, a droning synth response coming in reply to cox’s admonition of “i hear you buzzing / don’t want to hear any more of your talking,” along with a more measured, melodic counter to her parting shot of “you think it’s cool / it’s never as cool as you’re thinking.” this fracturing is an excellent precursor to the album’s final trio of songs, a triptych of loss and longing that leans on true blossom’s glossy affect as both the perfect foil to and embellisher of its more melancholic moments.

true blossom’s first nine original songs (the album’s tenth, its functional interlude, is a gorgeous, glassy cover of mount eerie’s “grave robbers”) are formidable in their cohesiveness, their assured demeanor an excellent foundation upon which to construct future works. heater is out now via citrus city records. stream the album in full below.

2018 in review

as 2018 draws to a close, we’ve decided to do something we haven’t done in a couple of years: publish a year-end list on the dimestore.  folks who follow our twitter feed may recall seeing our favorite albums of years past tweeted out in a threaded form, often accompanied by requisite links to our previous coverage or words from other publications that really resonated. 

this list will be very similar, with a paragraph or two of year-end reflection running alongside links to purchase the album, select media, and previous coverage.  like its twitter predecessors, our review of 2018 will run without numerical ranking, instead presented in alphabetical order.  by no means authoritative, this list features ten albums that have made a lasting impact in our small corner of existence over the past year.  we hope you find something new to embrace.

hovvdy – cranberry

the austin duo hovvdy joined the ranks of double double whammy for their second full-length, their warm, lived-in nostalgic turns slotting nicely into the label’s aesthetic.  cranberry finds hovvdy using a familiar palette as a foundation for cautious forays into tangential sonic realms; the gorgeous lilt of  the stand-out cut “truck” is punctuated by wisps of pedal steel, an affective presentation of reflective recollection.

cranberry review || dimestore saints
texas forever: a breakdown of cranberry with hovvdy || portals

juliana daugherty – light

the charlottesville-based daughtery turned in her exquisite debut full-length amidst the dark cloud that hung over her city, its titular light a beacon guiding wayward travelers out of the deepest recesses of their minds.  light is ten tracks of melancholia with glimmers of hope and clarity, the perfect album to escape inside of with a pair of headphones on a solitary afternoon.

light review || dimestore saints
juliana daugherty’s new album light invites you to break apart softly, quietly, beautifully || into the void

kacey musgraves – golden hour

the seemingly-endless critical acclaim heaped on kacey musgraves throughout 2018 was entirely deserved; golden hour is a timeless collection of songs that is easily poised to be one of this decade’s most enduring artifacts.  throughout thirteen tracks, musgraves invites the world to peer through her kaleidoscopic lens of cool, cosmic country, folding synthesizers into the expanses of pedal steel vistas while her lead vocal floats effortlessly in the foreground.

a top-ten list of musical moments from golden hour could easily be litigated for a substantial amount of time, but a handful are indisputable: the snappy drum fill before each chorus in “lonely weekend”; the vocoder harmonies in the second half of the second verse in “butterflies”; the entire seventy-eight seconds of “mother.”  it’s an album so outwardly joyful and pristine yet inwardly so nuanced and pensive that each repeated listen returns impressive dividends to its recipient, with myriad aural ecosystems just waiting to be discovered. 

kacey musgraves is a wild thing || stereogum
kacey musgraves knows love makes the world go round || the fader

mr twin sister – salt

salt is one of those rare new albums that feels like stumbling upon a long-lost hidden gem upon first listen.  mr twin sister spent four years away from the cyclical drone of the music industry, hunkering down to create a lush composite of electronic pop and jazz that functions as the perfect lounge music for the raging inferno of late capitalism that has been 2018.

salt review || dimestore saints
salt review || northern transmissions

noname – room 25

the southside chicago rapper noname took the fruits of her 2016 mixtape telefone and let them marinate for a couple of years. the result is room 25, a vibrant debut album that accentuates fatimah walker’s independent streak while honing her singular, spoken word-influenced aesthetic. this outing is a bit more visceral and less conversational than its predecessor, a poised and confident collection of songs from an indispensable voice.

here comes noname || the fader
room 25 review || pitchfork

pat moon – romantic era

kate davis returned for her sophomore spectral outing as pat moon this past summer, escaping into a slightly different headspace that yielded the ten tracks populating romantic era. a cavernous, intensely intimate project, romantic era resonates as haunting whispers from a parallel dimension, a respite from the cacophony of our everyday existence.

“spiraling” premiere || dimestore saints
entering the romantic era with pat moon || week in pop

r beny – saudade

austin cairns has recorded ambient music under the moniker r beny for the past few years, filtering the central tenets of 1990s slow-core through a prism of analog and modular synthesizers.  his excellent full-length saudade, released in february by the belgian tape label dauw, is a glimmering snapshot of a relatively young synthesist hitting his stride. (cairns’ other 2018 release, october’s eistla, is also commendable.)

any penchant for melody may get buried in a medium that favors deteriorating and evolving soundscapes, but carins’ melodic intuition is the glue that holds saudade together, from the stately, brassy declarations that announce “streams of light” to the hesitant ascent of “burl.”  a mixture of percolating motifs and blurry synth pads makes saudade the ideal aural companion for crisp morning walks, hazy summer evenings, and nearly any other solitary venture in between.

duologue: a conversation with r beny || stationary travels

sun june – years

sun june shares some commonalities with another austin outfit on this list, all the more reason to keep a steadfast ear to the ground for music coming out of that particular city.  on years, the band’s debut full-length for keeled scales, laura colwell and company offer up ten spare tracks that synthesize 1960s pop, early-2000s r&b, and country ornamentations, colwell’s electric piano and the telecaster’s more mellow spectrum teaming up with a tasteful rhythm section for slow-burning standouts like “johnson city” and the muted gleam of opening number “discotheque.”

years review || dimestore saints
a road (opening): on sun june’s years LP || gold flake paint

tierra whack – whack world

maybe whack world is an album, or maybe it’s, as its creator describes it, a “visual and auditory project.”  while its classification is debatable, the fact that tierra whack offered up something that frustrated a playlist-oriented, algorithmic streaming economy while simultaneously capitalizing on the limitations of instagram videos makes whack world decidedly a product of its time.

and what a product it is.  watching the fifteen-minute project in its audio/visual form is obviously the intended method of consumption; whack’s world is a vibrant one that toggles between playful pastiche and snippets of sincerity, a dichotomy reinforced by the characters whack portrays in each vignette.  an exercise in limitation and unabashed originality, whack world is one of 2018’s truly unique releases.

tierra whack can’t be pinned down || stereogum
tierra whack is building her own world || the fader

video age – pop therapy

a quintessential album of the summer, video age’s pop therapy picks up right where the new orleans duo’s 2016 living alone leaves off, putting synths that previously sat in the background squarely at the center of their balmy new wave exercises.  the production across pop therapy is top-notch, with each song carving out its own little niche as ross farbe and ray micarelli steer their sophomore vessel towards its therapeutic destination.

pop therapy review || dimestore saints
comfort without a catch || the new orleans advocate

premiere – shelf nunny

– featured image courtesy of the artist – 

the seattle producer christian gunning has blossomed into one of the pacific northwest’s most reliable architects of evocative electronic soundscapes.  under his shelf nunny moniker, gunning will release his third extended play, different light, on november 16th via his longtime label home, hush hush records.  different light deftly flexes shelf nunny’s growing sonic muscles over just a handful of tracks, showcasing his ability to make meaningful textural contributions from the backseat while vocal collaborators take center stage.

the extended play’s centerpiece, “time to waste,” finds shelf nunny linking up with hush hush alum lostodyssey; the eugene, oregon, vocalist’s work might be familiar to some of those reading this article, and his featured presence is the perfect compliment to shelf nunny’s polychromatic textures.  “time to waste” is methodical in its development, syncopations gradually slipping in as the narrative takes shape around its airy contours, lostodyssey’s central, pleading refrain of “it’s not too late / there’s time to waste” grounding the track in an alternate pop music universe.

“time to waste” is premiering today, right here on the dimestore.  check it out below.

mr twin sister – salt

– featured image courtesy of karen sofia colon –

the new york quartet mr twin sister has, in a relatively quiet manner, released one of this year’s finest albums.  salt, the band’s first full-length in four years, is incredibly measured and rich, its nine tracks pulsating with a singular blend of jazz-inflected electronic pop, mood music for tumultuous times.

grounded in andrea estella’s fluid contralto timbre and featuring the titular marionette on its cover, salt is striking, both aurally and visually.  opening number “keep on mixing” is very much in the foreground, its commanding heartbeat throbbing as estella’s lead vocal contorts itself around a bleak lyrical outlook, elastic in its exploration of syllables and contour as it unearths fleeting silver linings.

elsewhere, mr twin sister let themes of consumerism soak into successive tracks; most prominent throughout the slinking “buy to return,” material lust is also on the periphery of the soothing electric piano soundscape of “koh-i-noor” and dovetails with admissions of insecurity on “tops and bottoms.”

if estella’s vocals are the album’s focal point, it’s only because the support structure settles so effortlessly into place.  gauzy keyboard textures and syncopated percussion (the latter often courtesy of pablo eluchans) are standard fare; the aqueous and complex landscapes that populate “deseo” and “set me free” are particularly memorable.  augmenting that electronic foundation is eric cardona’s saxophone work, the defining timbre of “alien fm” and the cool eventual conqueror of the stuttering, brassy “taste in movies.”

with ambitious and honest thematic explorations slotted alongside exquisite instrumentation and musicianship, the latest from mr twin sister is a rewarding experience, a fitting sonic nightcap for an exhausting year.  salt is out now via twin group.  stream mr twin sister’s excellent new full-length in its entirety below.

interview – majetic

– featured image courtesy of chris cox –

justin majetich shed his full band and the last letter of his surname in pursuit of his newest album.  club dread features a streamlined palette and a renewed ambition, becoming a vessel to explore the fractured intricacies of life through a dissonant, electronic lens.

after the acerbic, audio-visual one-two punch of “horseback” and “bloodbrunch,” majetic returns today with “tender ums,” the album’s reflective penultimate cut, its subterranean pulses and acoustic piano motif swirling together towards something bigger, more grandiose.  in its final moments, “tender ums” reaches that summit, all of its components coalescing into a perfect representation of majetic’s raw, soulful interior so often shrouded in stabs of angular synths.

we recently touched base with majetic via e-mail for an intimate glimpse inside the creation of club dread, its transcontinental roots, and the sequential significance of its third and newest single.  check out the transcript, along with the premiere of “tender ums,” below.

club dread is club adjacent.  is this a headspace you’ve occupied for some time or one you specifically found yourself in while writing the songs on this record?

when i moved to new york city in 2015, i suddenly had access to a whole range of underground parties — stuff i’d dreamt of in the midwest but that didn’t really exist for me there.  i’d caught traces of it from friends in detroit, but overall, it was totally new and exciting.  i moved to new york for a musical community i’d expected to find in the live venues, but i guess it was on the dance floor that i first felt a sense of belonging in this city.

so yes, for a while my headspace was club-adjacent – preoccupied with its magic, saturated with the music.  by the time i was writing club dread in 2017, i wasn’t going out as much, but i was absolutely referencing that headspace as i wrote.  i was dipping back into those experiences and re-imagining them for the album world.  i still catch a party now and then and have some really great friends who i met through that community.

both oakland and queens factor into your biography – disparate locations geographically, but perhaps ones with some things in common musically.  are you drawn more to the contrasts or the constants of these two cities?  how did working on the album far from where it was initially conceived affect its direction and outcome?

place heavily informs the work i make.  not only does it shape the album’s atmosphere but it is also personified in the work, almost as a character.  NYC was the place-character in my last record, LUV IN THE RUINS, and i wanted something different this time around.  i was spending a lot of time in oakland with my brother and sister, and naturally, it followed to set the record there.

there’s such a complex spirit to the bay area.  so much tension between the awe-inspiring natural beauty and the extreme human disparity, the promise of progress and the dystopian realities…  all the while, there’s this catastrophic fault-line brooding underfoot and the pacific chewing at the coast, violent and massive, an insatiable conduit of dread.  incorporating the bay as a setting seemed like a powerful way to illustrate both the ecstasy and grief the characters of club dread experience in and around a club stricken with tragedy.

that being said — and i realize i haven’t directly addressed your question — there are traces of NYC in the album.  a lot of the experiences i’m filtering into the record took place here, and it’s where i was living when i wrote most of the lyrics.  still, i don’t think being back in NYC for a bulk of the writing process hindered my ability to access my sense of the bay in any significant way.  i’d taken extensive notes, and honestly, i think place can sometimes be better comprehended from a distance.  or at least, better comprehended for the purpose of art-making – the finite, fallible substance of memory naturally lending a tint of mythology to the thing remembered.

as for the the contrasts and/or constants between oakland and NYC, i mostly think about the former.  to me, they’re sort of inverse of one another: one vast, one claustrophobic; one idealistic, one realistic; one circuitous, one direct.  these sort of things require a more nuanced explanation, but that’s the jist.  as for musical contrasts, i feel like there’s a lot more concern with coolness and cleverness in NYC versus a lot of play and theater in the bay.  but if i’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that any scene is mostly what you make of it.

much of your album is centered around an electronic soundscape, but “tender ums,” which we’re premiering today, counts an acoustic piano among its focal points.  can you speak to the genesis of this track and how it fits into club dread overall?

i was visiting my parents in ohio, where my dad pastors a church.  after service, everyone will head to the fellowship hall and catch up over snacks.  on this given sunday, i slipped back into the sanctuary to play the piano while i waited for my parents to wrap up. that’s where i wrote the theme that plays during the song’s first interlude and also lends shape to the vocal melody.  it felt like something you could loop endlessly.  it was soft and small but carried an emotional weight.  i’m actually just realizing it now, but this sanctuary setting in which the song began is preserved in the “airport chapel” of the song’s opening verse.

anyway, i tucked those four measures away for a few weeks, and then one day tried growing them into a song, along with a phrase i’d pulled from my notes: “the body wasn’t made for this sort of placelessness.”  thirty-six hours later, i had “tender ums,” which is a speed unheard of for me.  it just flowed with uncharacteristic ease.  it was the last song i wrote for club dread, and it felt like recompense for an otherwise meticulous process.

though it’s the penultimate track, i see “tender ums” as the album’s final chapter.  the actual closer, “club dread,” looks back over the record in a way, encompassing the events, characters, and themes – a spiritual conclusion.  but “tender ums” sees the speaker at the chronological end, as they make their departure from the bay (airplane imagery a bookend with similar imagery in the first lines of album-opener “chewing tabs”).

it’s perhaps the record’s most vulnerable moment, but still i find a quiet triumph in the song.  take the line, “waking to a kinder sadness….”  those who’ve experienced grief subside might relate to a moment when one first feels the heaviness shift.  it’s the tiniest movement but, nevertheless, a notion of a world beyond grief.  you understand that life can recover, even if you don’t understand how.  that’s the moment from which the song is sung, and i believe it’s a crucial expression of hope in an album frequently given to despair.

club dread arrives november 2nd via winspear.  take a listen to its third single, “tender ums,” out now on spotify and premiering below on the dimestore.

premiere – alexei shishkin

– featured image courtesy of graham w. bell – 

for much of this site’s existence, alexei shishkin has been a constant.  the transient singer-songwriter has been providing understated ruminations on ennui and listlessness for the past few years, turning in a steady stream of releases via the minneapolis tape label forged artifacts.  on october 19th, shishkin will return with his latest full-length, happy bday, a transcontinental batch of songs as geographically beholden to portland, orgeon, as they are to shishkin’s current residence in new york city.

the album’s newest single, “i don’t mind,” finds shishkin squarely in his element, extolling the virtues and unintended consequences of slowing life down in a measured duet with jess n. pierson.  warm, phased guitars augment the relaxing timbre of shishkin’s lead vocal, with arpeggiated melodies and well-placed synth pads drifting in and out of the texture.  ever reliable, shishkin combines these elements to offer up something as unassuming as it is profound, a much-needed, sustained exhalation for the collective mind.

“i don’t mind” is premiering today, right here on the dimestore.  listen in below.

yumi zouma – ep iii

– featured image courtesy of ryan mccardle & aidan koch – 

what else is there to say about yumi zouma that hasn’t already been said?  the new zealand quartet has proven, time and again, that their ability to craft pristine pop gems is second to none, regardless of whether the songwriting takes place in the same room or spread out across all corners of the globe.  as its members navigate towards the end of one chapter in their collective existence and look towards the next, EP III emerges as a cathartic victory lap.

following two similarly-titled extended plays and a stirring pair of full-lengths, EP III closes out a trilogy of works that have spanned the quartet’s entire career, pulling together snippets of demos dating back to their nascent days that help inform their latest round of collaborative songwriting.

opening number “powder blue/cascine park” is vintage yumi zouma, juxtaposing skittering hi-hats with wistful, arpeggiated pre-choruses and gliding refrains, its extended bridge a sustained instance of clarity that launches the track off into the sunset.  elsewhere, “looking over shoulders” tacks in an appropriately hesitant, contemplative direction, its understated current flowing towards a swirling chorus replete with the cool adage of “i was never yours to give away.”

bolstered by the early singles “crush (it’s late, just stay)” and the triumphant finale “in camera,” EP III is yet another sterling example of yumi zouma’s pedigree.  a return to the band’s original form, the four-track extended play offers a masterclass in their democratic, collaborative process, its memorable melodies and spacious soundscapes the end result.  EP III is out today via cascine; listen to it in full, below.