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dreamroom_5

photo courtesy of serena wagner

eric charles christenson, our favorite eau claire renaissance man, has blossomed into a formidable producer over the last twelve months.  those are his fingerprints on the latest sniffle party single, and more collaborative examples can be uncovered by patiently following trails of breadcrumbs on twitter.

still a poignant singer-songwriter in his own right, christenson released a new solo track under his two castles moniker last friday, in tandem with “waving.”  the aesthetic of each song is complementary to the other’s, though “survive” is decidedly more glitchy in presentation, owing largely to a skittering arpeggiated motif that’s pitted against a rigid bass line.

the lyrical direction of “survive” teeters into maudlin territory, cycling between a comparatively substantive hook and the simple, gorgeous word-painting of “lavender blue kisses.”  it’s the slightest drop of sadness, a hint of hesitance that feels particularly appropriate at the end of a year like this.  take a listen to “survive” below.

sniffleparty

photo courtesy of chris bartlett

if you still haven’t indulged in sniffle party’s debut ep, peach dream, yet, carve out fifteen minutes to correct this oversight.  the four songs serve as a primer to the breadth of serena wagner’s nascent songwriting capacity, her spacious contralto meshing seamlessly with two castles’ minimalist, purposeful production.

“waving,” wagner’s first new song in nearly eight months, strikes a familiar mood, her voice echoing distantly in a cavern of pristine synth motifs and warm, enveloping bass tones.  attendees of live sniffle party performances over the past year should recognize “waving,” and can especially revel in the full, saturated harmonies that permeate the song’s hook.  take a listen below.

fog-lake

photo courtesy of david aaron mitchell

aaron powell’s work as fog lake has been perennially sparse yet affecting, and occasionally downright haunting.  ambient collages of static and drones merged with bedroom pop sketches on 2014’s masterful virgo indigo, and powell duplicated that feat on last year’s follow-up, victoria park.

powell’s pop chops have developed into a formidable tool over the past three years; on “side effects,” the second single from his forthcoming album, dragonchaser, powell effortlessly culls an unforgettable melody from a skeletal structure, weaving in and out of the track’s hypnotic, ticking pulse with a reedy falsetto in tow.

dragonchaser is out february 10th via fog lake’s longtime home, orchid tapes.  press play on “side effects” below.

unnamed

photo courtesy of the artist

life without gosh pith feels almost unfathomable.  the detroit duo have turned in consistently strong – and usually gorgeous – collages of soul-infused electronic music for the past few years, carving out their own niche of self-described “cosmic trap” before venturing beyond that genre’s rather ambiguous borders.

the joshes smith and freed are currently hashing out their debut full-length after two indelible extended plays; the as-yet untitled effort should see the light of day in 2017, and previous singles “in my car” and “true blue” have offered a faint glimpse of what the album has to offer.

gosh pith broadened that spectrum of possibilities today with “medusa,” a brief, downtempo new cut that leans heavily on subterranean bass thuds and a host of percussive timbres skittering around a steadfast vocal delivery.  after a few listens, the dollar sign in the song’s title feels both quite topical and like a subtle homage.  take a listen to “medusa” below.

unnamed-2

photo courtesy of the artist

greg gonzalez’ perennial sighs echo throughout the cavernous soundscape collectively culled and maintained by the brooklyn quartet cigarettes after sex.  though lyrical intimacy is often at its forefront, the sheer depth of the band’s sonic architecture allows for other, more complex emotions to often permeate through each track’s aesthetic as well, a dual-strength collage of wistfulness capable of settling in for the long haul.

after releasing an impulsive collection of sparse, affecting songs in 2012, cigarettes after sex worked sporadically, putting out one-off singles here and there while retaining a captive, patient audience.  the advent of their latest single, “k.,” tosses any sense of uncertainty and ambiguity about forthcoming material out the window; a full-length album is due out next year via the band’s new home, partisan records.

“k.” is a lush, expansive primer for those experiencing cigarettes after sex for the first time; gonzalez’ lead vocal sits, as always, squarely in the foreground, longing for a lost love while his bandmates create a meditative pulse underneath.  jacob tomsky’s work on the trap set is the unsung glue holding the track together, an adamant kick-snare combination juxtaposed by a whispered ride cymbal pattern that embodies the band’s dichotomy in rhythmic form.

gonzalez’ guitar interludes, when locked in with randy miller’s plaintive bass lines and phillip tubbs’ warm keyboard pads, are the epitome of dream pop’s fluid tendencies, but it’s when those elements largely drop out that “k.” transcends expectations and becomes a masterful exercise in restraint.  take a listen below.