lomelda – thx

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

“album of the fortnight” is a (recently revived) 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: lomelda

It feels almost sacrilegious to listen to lomelda in anything other than a solitary setting, preferably with headphones.  hannah read’s music doesn’t resonate as lonely so much as it does as an examination of what it means to be alone, a sentiment that courses through the river that is her second full-length album, thx.  attached to that sentiment is a cocktail of emotions that is equal parts hesitant, curious, and content, a mixture that proves perfect fodder for a thirty-five minute rumination on one’s current state of being.

read’s voice is so arresting, her delivery so immediate throughout thx that this may distract from its status as a high-caliber guitar album, but her simultaneous six-string work is arguably its linchpin.  angular lead motifs, like the meandering descent on “interstate vision” or the angular tremolo stabs throughout “from here,” frequently interlock with chord progressions that are as likely to be gritty as they are cleanly strummed, weaving a tapestry that’s as sweeping as the rural texas landscape.  that landscape always seems to factor in thematically, no matter how indirect: it’s an obstacle, something to contend with; it’s the backdrop to moments of solace, to familiarity; it’s just simply there.

Lomelda Thx Coverlike other mononymous projects attributed to one central songwriter and persona, lomelda blurs the line between read’s solo project and an exclusive club to which only those closest are granted admission.  perhaps the decision is conscious, perhaps it’s just par for the course.  the primary contributor throughout thx is read’s brother, tommy, who co-produced, played drums on, and wrote an iteration of the album’s most outwardly-visceral cut, “bam sha klam.”  in a four-generation homestead in tiny silsbee, texas, maybe that collaboration was inevitable; a close-knit family is also a convenient sounding board, able to provide some semblance of reaffirmation.

much of thx oscillates around the first and second person, the union and the separation of the characters “you” and “i.”  the malleability of read’s vocal melodies is readily present, but it’s the sentiments of the material retrofitted to those contours that leaves a lasting impression, that finds listeners absent-mindedly mumbling certain mantras to themselves for weeks to come.  the stories read tells and the snapshot moments she dissects may not be entirely congruous to the experiences of her audience, but the general themes at once feel incredibly intimate and yet accessible, almost universal.  that deft maneuvering and presentation is what makes lomelda so special.

delve into the brief, sparse title track to get wrecked by a matter-of-fact narrative; put a circle around penultimate cut “mostly m.e.” if you feel like getting wrecked again.  read’s propensity of peppering a very straight-forward approach to storytelling with beautiful imagery is perhaps her most disarming quality, creating an ever-so-slight mystic quality on par with the origin of her project’s name.  thx resonates like few other albums this year, and has arrived at an incredibly convenient point on the calendar.  block out a half-hour, grab a pair of headphones, and let it reverberate through your very core.

little kid – sun milk

– featured image courtesy of the artist – 

“album of the fortnight” is a (recently revived) 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: little kid

This site has extolled the virtues of the toronto-based outfit little kid for much of its existence.  while still approaching the band largely from a recording-project perspective, kenny boothby turned in the heavy, complex river of blood in 2013; last summer, after a prolonged, somewhat frustrating period of dormancy, boothby emerged with the sprawling flowers in hand and a solidified line-up in tow.  the stability of having a reliable pair of collaborators at hand is perhaps what led to the comparatively quick arrival of sun milk, little kid’s fourth full-length album, which the band self-released last week.

although just seven songs long, sun milk is a daunting, though thoroughly rewarding, body of work to consume.  one must traverse all the way to its coda before encountering a track that dips below the five-minute mark, and even then, “like a movie” arguably makes up in gravity what it lacks in length.  an exploration of ambient missives and noisy vamps that began on flowers is whittled down on its successor, maybe not to a more precise formula but certainly to one that breathes with the ease of seasoned veterans.

a self-inflicted allergy to electric guitars that afflicted boothby throughout the duration of flowers is immediately vanquished on sun milk; opening number “the fourth” bristles with saturation, as does the album’s centerpiece, “slow death in a warm bed,” ushering in perhaps the flat-out loudest iteration of little kid yet.  for a band that has long relied on outsized dynamic contrast for maximum effect, this embrace of grit only makes tracks like the lo-fi piano ballad “fog” that much more potent, as if an aural equivalent of the prodigal son returned and immediately became the workhorse of the entire operation.

Little Kid Sun Milk Album Artperhaps as a reminder that songs do not solely exist within the vacuum of an album cycle, a recent track-by-track guide for gold flake paint deconstructed the various iterations that many songs on sun milk went through, sometimes over the course of years, before arriving in their presently-recorded form.  this copious vat of detailed information (highly recommended if this album resonates with you) serves to further underscore the immediacy that little kid has operated under: recording in quick, concentrated bursts, ensnaring whatever feels natural at that moment.

as little kid approaches a decade of existence, patience seems to be an overarching theme worthy of ascribing to the project.  the acquisition of both paul vroom and brodie germain as stable members – after years of a rotating cast of characters – has yielded two monumental albums in a row; as the songs on those aforementioned albums grow longer, they unfold with care and determination, and loose, meandering passages are seamlessly tightened up when the moment is right; the inner mechanisms of those aforementioned songs are a wonder to unpack, with arduous three-person synth wranglings, carefully-placed tape hiss, and poignant found sounds threading a lived-in, nostalgic narrative.

little kid is methodical, a songwriting refuge equally capable of volatile bursts of energy and muted, minimal passages of restraint.  with sun milk, the trio has crafted its strongest effort yet, a sprawling structure anchored by its sonic forebears and accented with intimate glimpses of a profound lyricist’s tireless explorations.  step inside and stay awhile.

dreamspook – king in the folly keep

– featured image courtesy of sarah ascanio –

welcome back to the dimestore.  it’s been a minute.  though this site is indeed back up and running, it will be doing so in a decidedly more limited capacity.  thank you to all who have returned for this reboot, wherever it may lead; for those who are newcomers, please feel free to peer into our archives should you decide to stick around.

“album of the fortnight” is a 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: dreamspook

Gabriel jorgensen’s soothing, measured vocals are often at odds with a spectrum of mood spanning from ennui to empathy, from intense introspection to intermittent self-deprecation.  on king in the folly keep, the minneapolis-based songwriter’s debut full-length under his dreamspook moniker, these myriad moods are just beyond the foreground of each composition, and are more than just isolated, plotted points on a linear graph; they work hand in glove to craft an overarching narrative with comparable depth to the arrangements formed around it.

containing nine songs that collectively clock in at just over a half-hour, king in the folly keep feels decidedly compact, and refreshingly so.  lyrics that so explicitly read like a manual to the songwriter’s innermost mechanics have a tendency to skew theatrical, even comically overwrought, but jorgensen seems keenly aware of this trope.  most songs pair brief streams of consciousness with a mantra-esque hook, eschewing more formulaic lyrical structures and bombast while introducing an idea and succinctly following it to some sort of conclusion.

take “island castle,” the album’s seasick, pulsating opening number, as a case study of this approach.  jorgensen details the construction of an impenetrable fortress of secrecy in a quick succession of verses before honing in on a thesis: “no man’s an island, but no man’s what i am.”  an old adage is obliterated by the simple refutation that follows, a destruction compounded by repetition as the music underneath crescendos towards its finale.  even tracks like “badlands,” which pulls comparatively towards the abstract in terms of imagery, have momentary returns to reality that are completely grounding; “you’re just a fool who thinks too much” is sure to lurk in the subterranean depths of a universal subconscious.

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while most of king in the folly keep adheres to a compact structure, on occasion, jorgensen permits dreamspook to flesh out, to deviate from three-minute explorations of self.  “don’t die” doubles in length and halves its lyrical content, swimming in synth motifs and guitar arpeggios that abruptly dissipate, leaving jorgensen alone to deliver a sparse vocal enveloped by a murky bass swell.  despite its eventual morbidity, the first half of “don’t die” feels somewhat refreshing, soothing; this one-time allowance for meandering provides previous concepts the space to breathe, a respite before reaching the album’s most vulnerable state.

in spite of a coalescing bleakness enhanced by beautifully tragic imagery, king in the folly keep manages to become a self-aware body of work by its penultimate track, breaking whatever fourth-wall equivalent may exist in the album format.  lest his listeners become too put out from the weight of his lyrics, jorgensen squares this tendency towards the morose with “ignorance,” a confessional dotted with concessions and pledges.  impermanence can be heavy, but it can easily be interrupted by moments of beauty and eclipsed by feelings of insignificance.

it should also be noted that king in the folly keep is a thirty-three minute groove machine.  amidst imploring an unnamed party for unrequited love and offering a brief analysis of an unfamiliar romance, jorgensen and the rest of his cohort – george hadfield on bass and conor davison on drums – lock into a near-impenetrable state of metronomic precision.  each piece of every arrangement feels sculpted – if that verb can, for a moment, represent the utmost amount of attention painstakingly paid to every sonic detail: guitar leads alternately chime and warble; synth melodies bubble and percolate, and occasionally spill over into an agitated frenzy; bass lines routinely sound capable of swallowing subwoofers.

with every aforementioned cog, along with the contours of jorgensen’s vocal melodies, already heavily informed by rhythmic interplay, the drum parts are an analog to the icing on the album cover’s cake.  deft and tasteful, while confidently staking claim in unused subdivisions, davison’s percussion work makes its presence – and absence – arguably felt more so than heard.

while basking in the seconds of silence that linger after the final drops of water hit on “ogema,” one may feel like one has stumbled across and read parts of a diary mistakenly donated to a second-hand book store; king in the folly keep is an intensely personal – and, consequently, vulnerable – piece of work, somehow delivered with the utmost conceptual and aural clarity.  wade in.

the radio dept. – running out of love

– featured image courtesy of per vikström –

“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.

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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.

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.

tycho – epoch

– featured image courtesy of lauren crew –

“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.

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“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.

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jenny hval – blood bitch

– featured image courtesy of jenny berger myhre –

“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: jenny hval.

there’s something inherently autumnal about jenny hval’s newest album, blood bitch.  not autumnal in the sense that it conjures up cliché imagery and feelings associated with the waning months of the calendar year, but rather in the sense that it seems, at times, to be teetering on the edge of a desolate landscape, grasping at motifs of warmth and familiarity before slipping into a period of hibernation and eventual rebirth.

hval’s airy vocals drift in and out of the foreground throughout blood bitch, often allowing her muted production to take precedence.  there’s the four-on-the-floor pulse of “the great undressing,” the duple-meter lilt of “period piece,” the esoteric thrum of “female vampire” – a smattering of directions that, together, would feel utterly directionless in another artist’s hands.  yet hval commands these avenues with the dexterity and nuance of the seasoned veteran she is, stringing together these at-times disparate compositions with the recurring theme of feeling.

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pencil scratches frantically against paper on “untamed religion,” its anxious state countered by ambient static possessing great poise and restraint, a soliloquy on powerlessness superimposed over the top.  these juxtapositions sound messy and convoluted in description, but aurally, they’re exquisite, a dichotomous matrimony whose soothing attributes somehow manage to reign supreme.  elsewhere, hval is more overtly vulnerable (see “the plague,” “ritual awakening”) and her reliance on her own voice to convey these shortcomings renders their accompaniment decidedly more eerie: murky, with an occasional ominous dash of malice.

if blood bitch isn’t hval’s most ambitious effort to date, it certainly feels like her most immediate. “it’s about vampires,” she says amidst laughter from her conversational partner while discussing the central thesis of the album; anyone tuned into the nuances of blood bitch realizes that this generality would warrant admonition, and hval quickly doubles down to assert that the album is about more than just her horror movie influences.

and it is; blood bitch is a fairly transparent exploration of hval’s feminism, and that transparency aids in its potency.  if the contents of blood bitch cause discomfort, good.  if they create solace, even better; this is a manifesto that is equal parts unapologetic and gorgeous, a multi-faceted work of art that can be consumed and digested in myriad ways, depending on the date, time, and general state of being.  indulge.

yohuna – patientness

– featured image courtesy of brian vu –

“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.  first up: yohuna.

Up until this month, johanne swanson’s catalogue as yohuna spanned five years, but was rather sparse.  as a consumer this was, at times, frustrating: a gifted songwriter with sporadic output, often elusive or mum about forthcoming material.  from an artistic standpoint, however, this was refreshing, revelatory, admirable: a gifted songwriter working methodically, only offering up new songs with a distinct purpose attached, never out of necessity; never for personal gratification; never out of impulsive boredom.

patientness, out now via orchid tapes, is swanson’s first full-length effort, though an album’s worth of yohuna material doesn’t feel like a departure from the ethos that defined her earlier work.  three of the album’s nine tracks have existed in the public sphere, in some form or another, for quite some time; the remaining two-thirds of patientness is sequenced around this familiarity, transforming those songs into comforting touchstones in the midst of new, uncharted territory.

the arrival of “creep date” is this exercise fully-realized.  new offering “world series” is the song’s ancillary, the advent of buzzsaw guitars foreshadowing emotive distortion that rings out in its successor, but it’s the searing – and shattering – realism of each song’s lyrics that tie the two together.  mere seconds after uttering the clincher “you’re my biggest fan / but the seats are cheap,” swanson pivots to “not confused / still feel used,” a clear-eyed couplet that’s as devastating as it is resolute.  yohuna’s sonic aesthetic may be warm and pillowy at times, but it’s often only a thinly-veiled diversion away from sentiments that bely – and, more importantly, challenge perceptions of – its inviting exterior.

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earlier this week, the fader ran an absolutely riveting interview with swanson, a must-read for anyone already invested in this column.  among other topics, swanson discusses the binary tendencies of genre categorization, and how her music moves fluidly through the two most often assigned to her work: electronic and indie.  this acute awareness of categorical ambiguity reverberates throughout patientness, never meandering, always challenging what music purported to be feminine should evoke and sound like.

the title track on patientness hits last and asks the prevailing question head-on: “what is patientness?”  who knows?  it’s probably a personal mantra of sorts; the neologism is definitely indicative of swanson’s calculated approach to both making and releasing music, and it certainly feels relevant in the context of this album’s creation.  while yohuna has primarily been a solo outlet with occasional input in the past, patientness is decidedly more collaborative: adelyn strei (adelyn rose), felix walworth (told slant), emily sprague (florist), and warren hildebrand (foxes in fiction) all contribute, and swanson trekked up from brooklyn to montreal to record with owen pallett, who also co-produced the album.

“patientness” may evade concrete definition or attainability, but it will forever be difficult to disassociate yohuna from this concept.  as a body of work, patientness finds comfort in non-conformity; in imperfections; in the uncomfortable.  it’s a rare gift, a present to be opened with care and examined thoroughly, contemplatively.  patiently.