astronauts, etc. – “shut my mouth”

– featured image courtesy of brendan nakahara –

anthony ferraro has undergone a subtle transformation in the three years since the release of mind out wandering, his first full-length as astronauts, etc.  while that album allowed the oakland singer-songwriter to filter his classically-trained piano chops through the prismatic lens of outwardly-sunny, falsetto-tinged pop structures, his subsequent work has been decidedly more cosmic.

“shut my mouth,” the third single off of ferraro’s forthcoming follow-up living in symbol, is the sonic antithesis of its predecessors: comparatively sparse, devoid of piano, and prominently featuring ferraro’s natural vocal register.  interstellar percolations quickly give way to a simple, descending guitar melody, fed through an aging tape machine and fleshing out the contours of ferraro’s lead vocal.  a prominent bass line augments a lyrical rumination on silence, sculpting “shut my mouth” as a muted exercise in the left-field psychedelia astronauts, etc. has gravitated towards under the watch of producer chaz bear.

living in symbol arrives july 27th via company records.  listen to “shut my mouth” below.

astronauts, etc. – “the border”

– featured image courtesy of brendan nakahara – 

it’s been about three years since anthony ferraro released the excellent astronauts, etc. album mind out wandering, a ten-track collection that paired the bay area musician’s penchant for sharp pop songwriting with psychedelic meanderings.  later this summer, ferraro will return with a follow-up full-length, living in symbol.

co-produced by toro y moi’s chaz bear, living in symbol appears to fully embrace those swirling polychromatic tendencies of its predecessor.  lead single “the border” is awash in eerie strings and soft acoustic guitar strums that ease into the syncopated bass and drum groove as ferraro’s sonorous lead vocal floats by.  it’s a careful and methodical track, one that hints at a further refinement of ferraro’s already-robust songwriting with a tinge of deepened introspection.

living in symbol arrives july 27th via bear’s company records.  watch the spaced-out music video for “the border” below.

perhapsy – “all my soul swallowed”

derek barber odell hussey
photo courtesy of odell hussey

derek barber’s latest single as perhapsy, “all my soul swallowed,” has reverberated throughout this month here at the dimestore.  barber recently teamed with director madeline kenney to make a music video for the track; in the clip, a technicolor-clad barber emerges from a lean-to in search of an adequate power supply deep in a west coast forest.  the video becomes even more eccentric as the song progresses, with a strange ever-present bust and a rather volatile mug of liquid juxtaposing the aurally melancholic vibe.

“all my soul swallowed” is culled from perhapsy’s forthcoming album, me tie-doughty walker, out march 3rd.  check out the music video below.

perhapsy – “all my soul swallowed”

derek barber odell hussey.jpeg
photo courtesy of odell hussey

derek barber puts in notable work as the guitarist for a handful of bay area bands including astronauts, etc., a hands-down dimestore favorite of 2015.  as perhapsy, barber also carves out a distinct path for his own solo work, engineering a jazz background and a seemingly-insatiable appetite for new textures to forge a brand of more experimental pop.  his sophomore full-length, me tie dough-ty walker, is out march 3rd, and today barber has shared the album’s lead-off single, “all my soul swallowed,” a slightly melancholic affair appropriately enveloped by a wall of guitars.  take a listen below.

best of 2015: albums

casio vsco 2our year-end best-of week comes to a close with our favorite albums of 2015.  we’ll spare you from reading any more; click on each album cover to navigate away to a review – more often than not from this site – that adequately portrays our opinions.  as always, our picks will run in alphabetical order, and you can listen to each album by clicking on the link in its title.  dive in.

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mind out wandering coverastronauts, etc. – mind out wandering

depression cherry coverbeach house – depression cherry

new bermudadeafheaven – new bermuda

eskimeaux o.k.eskimeaux – o.k.

foxing dealerfoxing – dealer

ibeyi s:tibeyi – ibeyi

sprained anklejulien baker – sprained ankle

port st. willow syncopeport st. willow – syncope

carrie & lowellsufjan stevens – carrie & lowell

vince-staples-summertime-06vince staples – summertime ’06

best of 2015: songs

vscocam barn copypicking just ten songs to represent an entire year in music is no easy feat, but such is the plight of a minimalist music website.  the following tracks shaped the dimestore’s trajectory in 2015, from unexpected email submissions that proved riveting to a wide swath of midwest hip-hop to gorgeous post-rock soundscapes.  our picks run in alphabetical order, and you can click on the title’s link to navigate away and hear each track; dig in below.

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shake it loose coverastronauts, etc. – “shake it loose”

almost every track from mind out wandering would have pulled its weight in this slot, but “shake it loose” is a particular hallmark due to its kaleidoscopic union of pop and psychedelia.  anthony ferraro and his quintet of astronauts lock into an indelible groove right on the initial downbeat, the interplay between the guitar’s rise-and-fall motif and the rhythm section’s meticulous subdivision at the end of each phrase informing both the framework of ferraro’s vocal and the ensemble’s gradual abandonment of structure in favor of a more textural exploration.  if “shake it loose” sounds almost unfairly organic during its dreamlike sequence, that’s because it is; the entirety of mind out wandering was recorded straight to tape without ever passing through a computer, allowing each note on the album to resonate with an extra degree of authenticity.

chairlift ch-chingchairlift – “ch-ching”

caroline polachek worked with beyoncé during chairlift’s interim between full-length projects, a fruitful partnership that may have dictated the duo’s first new single in nearly three years.  “ch-ching” subverts chairlift’s penchant for constructing massive sing-along hooks by trimming the first two choruses down to sultry finger snaps and eerie vocal twists on the song’s titular sound.  still, even as the final refrain hits in all its harmonized glory, “ch-ching” retains the notion that chairlift are now comfortable outside the nostalgic confines that defined their earlier work.  there’s genuine potential for moth to be a truly cosmopolitan album.

day wave headcaseday wave – “drag”

jackson phillips drew a lot of justifiable comparison to dylan baldi’s early output as cloud nothings this year: both projects hone(d) in on home-recorded pop songs and a reverence for the guitar as a pivotal melodic instrument, but phillips’ work as day wave occupies remarkably different sonic territory.  to illustrate this point, look no further than “drag,” the earworm that first put day wave on the internet’s radar in 2015.  phillips, a percussionist by trade, puts faith in an old drum machine to anchor the song’s robust foundation while he turns his attention to an ostinato guitar motif that molds the concrete of “drag” into a majestic skyscraper.  effervescent synth countermelodies soon blossom from the track’s confident chorus, dutifully weaving throughout phillips’ slightly-downtrodden lead vocal and the bevy of arpeggios he stacks on top.  day wave takes unabashed influence from the beach boys and new order; “drag” proves that to be quite the winning combination.

foxing – “the magdalene”

st. louis quintet foxing crafted one of this year’s most affecting post-rock albums.  dealer is largely devoid of the agitation that pervaded its predecessor, the albatross, but the tension that is released is done so with remarkable poise.  “the magdalene” is a deeply personal confessional that exposes the psychological trauma conor murphy suffered during a religious upbringing, wrought with sexual suppression and guilt.  but foxing is incredibly deft at turning grief into catharsis, and “the magdalene” eventually spills over into a lush b-section where simple melodies of all timbres intertwine, propelled by a surging and syncopated rhythm section.  when murphy cries out “watch me come / undone” in his falsetto, chills linger.

isaac vallentin hederaisaac vallentin – “stewardess”

isaac vallentin wins our informal award for best blind album submission via email; if you haven’t heard hedera yet, go listen.  “stewardess” is the track that got us hooked, with its arpeggiated blueprint slowly morphing into an exquisitely subdued post-dub groove.  vallentin thrives at moving fluidly between genres throughout hedera, and “stewardess” is a microcosm of that ability; his deep, sonorous lead vocal ties everything together and ushers in a chorus of chiming synth pads for a final triumphant statement.  in a year when james blake remained dormant, vallentin delivered murky musings with equal aplomb.

kendrick lamar – “king kunta”

what’s left to write about to pimp a butterfly that hasn’t already been written?  kendrick lamar’s lauded third album reigned relatively unchallenged as the definitive piece of hip-hop in 2015, trading out the grit of good kid, m.a.a.d. city for soul samples and jazz-inclined collaborators from a resurgent l.a. scene.  “king kunta” brings the funk in the most defiant way possible, as kendrick accosts industry opportunists and fair-weather fans over a swaggering thundercat bass line while maintaining his status as a dominant lyricist in the game.  but the song’s oxymoronic title is a reference to the notion that a man is only as powerful as his the color of skin; despite achieving financial and critical success, lamar’s very existence is often systemically viewed as sub-par.  “king kunta” is an easily digestible snapshot of an incredibly dense and experimental personal odyssey, a suitable gateway into the strain of hip-hop kendrick lamar created for himself.

ick jenkins wave[s]mick jenkins – “your love”

mick jenkins teamed with a handful of producers on his new ep wave[s] for a plethora of directions; perhaps not surprisingly, his union with the perpetually in-demand kaytranada yielded the most enduring results.  “your love” is a far cry from the introspective consciousness that pervaded last year’s the water[s], with jenkins crooning and rapping about a potential transcontinental romance over an aqueous bass line paired with warm synth interjections.  it’s the closest thing to blatant r&b that jenkins has ever proffered to his audience, and “your love” slowly became our low-key song of the summer.

sayth body pillowsayth – “under water • under ice”

sayth’s collaborative work with north house across body pillow is the result of a budding friendship, but it’s also a glorious intersection of two critical young voices in minneapolis’ diy scene.  “under water • under ice” is the ep’s resolute opening statement; north house’s wobbly arpeggios stumble through his diligent snare work while sayth constructs a grim narrative for the “generation of ‘i’m fucked when i turned twenty-seven.'”  but the track’s hook fights valiantly to make the strongest impression, with sayth staring adversity and listlessness in the face and offering more positive – albeit sometimes defiant – alternatives.

out may 5th via ruby yacht/the order labelscallops hotel – “lavender chunk (ft. hemlock ernst)”

it’s a testament to rory ferreira’s unwavering dedication to create provocative and indelible art that one of his projects is represented in year-end contention for the third year in a row.  scallops hotel feels like a cleansing alternative to ferreira’s more recognized output as milo, a no-risk solution for him to explore new facets of production or to alter his songwriting approach.  plain speaking yielded some of ferreira’s most readily accessible and pointed work to date; “lavender chunk” cycles through a simple ostinato with an extended guest verse from samuel t. herring’s alter ego hemlock ernst, but ferreira hops on just in time to deliver a remarkably fluid stream of consciousness, largely devoid of the non-sequiturs that had been his crutch.  more than anything, “lavender chunk” will endure as poignant, with the outgoing statement quickly morphing into an unsettling mantra that reflects the state of things in 2015.

tame impala currentstame impala – “yes i’m changing”

tame impala was our shameless self-indulgence of 2015.  during the waning days of summer, when the dimestore headquarters packed up again and moved back across the country, currents supplied a palette of driving music that was more than adequate.  “yes i’m changing” soundtracked sunset ventures through the cascades one night and sunrise journeys through the rockies the following morning, its undeniably pristine arrangements only slightly quelled by a sub-par car stereo and a flighty aux cord.  kevin parker deserves some sort of award for writing the most prominent bass lines on psychedelic records, as “yes i’m changing” rumbles through a closing chapter in life under the direction of a low-end presence that continuously flirts with melodic territory.  in a year marked with a handful of new beginnings, “yes i’m changing” hit home.

astronauts, etc. – mind out wandering

mind out wandering cover
out september 18th via hit city u.s.a.

the debut full-length from oakland-based outfit astronauts, etc. pairs well with coffee.  not a specific roast, necessarily; more so with the routine of brewing it.  the opening third of mind out wandering begins rather placid and resolute, relying on organic textures and steady tempos that feel like analogues to slowly becoming alert and absorbing surroundings in the early morning.

push on to the middle chunk of the album for the brew cycle itself and initial ingestion; the psychedelic one-two punch of “eye to eye” and “shake it loose” is akin to a full-frontal caffeine assault.  by the time the woozy guitar-keyboard tandem melody in album closer “upward swing” hits, the coffee’s warmth and aroma have permeated through the consumer’s body, and all that’s left are the dregs at the bottom of the cup, swirling in time at thirty-three and a third revolutions per minute.

a less circumstantial analogy finds mind out wandering mirroring anthony ferraro’s maturation and confidence as a songwriter.  the album moves logically and purposefully from the comforting confines of his native acoustic piano to full-band textures and outward into the realm of psychedelia.

whether or not these songs are presented chronologically is ultimately inconsequential, however; the comparative sparsity and methodical build of the album’s opening numbers is precisely why “shake it loose” feels so explosive, and why a return to that initial structure on deep cut “control” yields a new, enjoyable set of nuances.

astronauts, etc. thrives on a strong formula that’s equal parts melody and nostalgia.  ferraro’s lead vocal often warbles high above the mix, weaving in and out of instrumental motifs and often supplementing their potency, but the moments when he retreats from the stratosphere are adventurous as well, lock-stepping with his bandmates to create absurdly tight harmonies.  the swirling electric piano pads and bell tones throughout “see you” are indicative of the band’s dreams of yesteryear, though they feel like less of an appropriated celebration and more of a necessary extension of ferraro’s identity as a singer-songwriter.

mind out wandering is one of those albums that gets filed in the “very good” category next to “lazy mornings” and “warm feels.”  go listen to it.

most anticipated albums of fall 2015

braun turntable 2the home stretch of each year always provides a plethora of new albums vying for contention in year-end best-of reviews.  invariably, at least one heavy-hitter holds onto a project until the quarter is almost over before unleashing it and messing with the internet’s ballots by proxy (here’s looking at you, kanye and frank).  the full list for this fall is exhausting; google searches and metacritic are good tools to keep yourself in the know, but we’ve also compiled a handful of albums we’re especially itching to dig into.  read on for more detailed explanations.

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mind out wandering coverastronauts, etc. – mind out wandering
september 18th (hit city u.s.a.)

anthony ferraro has seen his exploratory outlet into the realm of pop music grow from a solo project to a full-band endeavor.  already armed with a quartet of impressive singles, astronauts, etc. should offer up a strong and nuanced debut full-length with mind out wandering.

every open eye coverchvrches – every open eye
september 25th (virgin/glassnote)

chvrches wrote and recorded their sophomore album over the span of six months, a quarter of the amount of time they spent touring in support of their massive debut the bones of what you believe.  still, the glaswegian trio’s penchant for huge melodies and their uncanny ability to weave downtrodden aspects of indie rock into massive stadium-ready anthems (see “leave a trace”) argues that every open eye will likely be a well-deserved victory lap.

new bermuda coverdeafheaven – new bermuda
october 2nd (anti)

remember that deafheaven is a substantially different band than the one that churned out sunbather two years ago.  the sense of urgency derived from a dire economic situation that permeated the band’s critically-acclaimed breakthrough album may be subdued, but this is a creative force bent on melding genre confines into a fluid product.  at the very least, new bermuda will not fall short on intrigue.

are you alone? covermajical cloudz – are you alone?
october 16th (matador)

speaking of critically-acclaimed albums from 2013, the duo responsible for our favorite record that year are returning with a new full-length in october.  are you alone? comes on the heels of an arduous touring regimen for majical cloudz, including a support slot for lorde that necessitated a re-write of most of the new material the band had fleshed out.  “silver car crash” finds devon welsh singing as directly as ever, and his easy command of a higher register suggests a newfound confidence; subsequent singles that emerge this month and next should paint a clearer picture of the album’s direction.

foxing dealer coverfoxing – dealer
october 30th (triple crown)

st. louis quintet foxing emerged from the recent emo resurgence as a clear frontrunner that could endure the waning fad and continue to contribute meaningful material.  their breakthrough the albatross juxtaposed moments of agitation with sustained introspective passages, a formula that will prove beneficial for a young band given ample time to hone their craft.

– other notable releases –

lana del rey – honeymoon (september 18th)
kurt vile – b’lieve i’m going down (september 25th)
milo – so the flies don’t come (september 25th)
youth lagoon – savage hills ballroom (september 25th)
chad valley – entirely new blue (october 2nd)
alex g – beach music (october 9th)
saintseneca – such things (october 9th)
beach house – thank your lucky stars (october 16th)
pure bathing culture – pray for rain (october 23rd)
gems – kill the one you love (october 30th)
the japanese house – clean (november 6th)
goldlink – and after that we didn’t talk (november 13th)
james blake – radio silence (tba)

listen to a new song from astronauts, etc.

astronauts, etc
photo courtesy of the artist

anthony ferraro’s work as astronauts, etc. has blossomed into a full-band effort; the oakland outfit will release their debut album, mind out wandering, on september 18th via hit city usa.  we’ve been anticipating this album for the better part of the calendar year, and the band’s prospects only improve with their latest offering, “shake it loose.”  the track sits squarely on the front of the beat, in contrast to previous spaced-out offerings, and finds astronauts, etc. exercising their knowledge of pop mechanics, but “shake it loose” really flourishes once its melody disappears behind a curtain of psychedelic haze at the half-way mark.  take a listen below.

listen to a new song from astronauts, etc.

astronauts, etc.
photo courtesy of gari askew

anthony ferraro has been quietly releasing some of our favorite songs this year with his band astronauts, etc.  the oakland outfit is responsible for the dreamy “no justice” and the swirling, yearning “i know,” and now they’ve returned with their most pop-oriented offering yet, “eye to eye.”  the song is centered around structural simplicity, sanding the instrumentation down to its original, essential surface and putting that raw beauty on a pedestal: a recurring guitar line supplements the song’s repetitive drum beat while playing foil to the placid synth chords blocked out underneath ferraro’s mild-mannered falsetto, allowing the narrative to ebb and flow like the lazy summer tides it evokes.  “eye to eye” is the third single pulled from the band’s debut full length, mind out wandering, due september 18th.  take a listen to the track below.