premiere – benjamin shaw

– featured image courtesy of aisha latosski – 

benjamin shaw has been making bedroom pop for much longer than the term has enjoyed a certain ubiquity.  a chameleon of genres, the melbourne-based shaw has drifted through washes of shoegaze and fields of electronica, melding dissonant drones and folk affectations into an incredibly singular and raw brand of confessional music, its ennui palpable.  shaw’s latest album, megadead, marks a return to work that is decidedly more vocal-centric, although certainly not devoid of the desolate soundscapes he’s wont to create and inhabit.

after the release of “terrible feelings!” last week, a track that atwood magazine aptly described as “visceral and frantic,” shaw has down-shifted into the more ruminative “a brand new day,” a six-minute odyssey populated by found sounds and a lovely guitar loop.  a lengthy voyage through the track’s aural architecture leads shaw to its precipice, where, instead of a steep drop into the void, he’s treated to a sonic sunrise of soaring brass, a moment of respite that arguably marks the true arrival of “a brand new day” and informs its final stages.

megadead is due august 31st via audio antihero and kirigirisu recordings.  listen to “a brand new day,” premiering right here on the dimestore, below.

vancouver sleep clinic – “killing me to love you”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

vancouver sleep clinic has a storied history on dimestore saints, and across the internet; the creative outlet of brisbane singer, songwriter, and producer tim bettinson was our favorite new artist of 2013, in large part due to the hauntingly gorgeous immediacy of early tracks like “vapour” and “collapse.”  after capitalizing on this feat with his debut ep, winter, in the early months of 2014, bettinson went into a long period of hibernation, powering down for coming-of-age experiences that lie outside the realm of music.

after more than two years away, vancouver sleep clinic resumed activity late last month with an animated music video for “lung,” the first single off of the group’s forthcoming debut full-length.  while bettinson & company construct an ambient dreamscape on “lung,” awash in titanic chords and cascading piano melodies, its successor, “killing me to love you,” explores the sleep clinic’s pop-oriented side, bolstered by prominent percussion and a massive vocal hook that releases every ounce of tension in the song.

vancouver sleep clinic’s debut album is coming soon, but its contents have yet to be detailed.  for now, revel in “killing me to love you,” below.

vancouver sleep clinic – winter

tim bettinson alludes to the album artwork of winter within the first lines of “collapse.”  he lingers on the phrase “and they’re all frozen over” ever so slightly before the understated electronic drums enter in the foreground, and then vancouver sleep clinic takes off.  it’s not as if we haven’t heard this song before; “collapse” has been floating around the internet since late last year and “vapour” has been around even longer, but both songs hold more significance within the context of the rest of the band’s debut ep.  it’s easy to pinpoint contemporary influences throughout winter, with bettinson’s falsetto evoking bon iver’s justin vernon and the sleep clinic’s instrumentation referencing minimalists like james blake, but there’s a stark sense that the trio is contributing to the advancement of this little ethereal niche, instead of merely emulating their heroes.

up until the release of winter, the songs offered up by vancouver sleep clinic had all been relegated to the realm of pop; “flaws” is a three-minute slice of downtempo goodness, complete with metaphoric heartbreakers like “tangled in the bones of this love/melding to the flow of your blood,” and “vapour” belongs in a hypothetical pantheon of dreamy, soft-rock perfection, but the rest of the ep tests boundaries on either side of radio-edit length.  “stakes” is the most expansive offering found on winter, with a false ending and subsequent coda that is almost majestic, complete with brass swells that complement bettinson’s laments.  the song is juxtaposed with “(aftermath),” a short, simple piano interlude that proves vancouver sleep clinic doesn’t only excel at extravagant.  closing number “rebirth” is an extended exercise in this simplistic practice, with acoustic guitar arpeggiations wandering off into the distance.

it shouldn’t matter that the three members of vancouver sleep clinic are only seventeen, but their age in comparison to the maturity of their music speaks volumes about the body of work they have created.  winter is a collection of songs that all complement one another, with no single track standing out ahead of the pack.  but that’s the way it’s supposed to be; bettinson waxes poetic about the basic emotions of adolescence in a way few others are capable of.  do yourself a favor and spend twenty-five minutes getting lost in the sounds of vancouver sleep clinic.

8.2/10

best of 2013: new artist

the title of “best new artist” sometimes confuses and is misleading to me.  i frequently see bands that have two or three albums already under their belt pop up on various round-up lists, and sometimes a band releasing their debut full-length constitutes as a “new artist,” even if they’ve been together for a few years and have released a string of singles and eps.  the big to-do events like the grammy awards are always the best; i’ll never forget how amused i was to see bon iver take home the award for “best new artist” at the 2012 ceremony, despite for emma, forever ago being released to critical and commercial acclaim four years prior.

for my “best new artist” category for 2013, i decided to look at bands that didn’t exist in 2012.  at all.  that meant painful axings for savages and chvrches, fantastic groups that put out really important debut albums this year.  that meant pity sex and daughter didn’t qualify either, as prior years of demos and eps established each band quite well in their respective circles.  while i’m just one guy who inevitably misses out on a lot of what goes on in the music world, there was one brand new band this year that really caught my attention and got me really excited for their subsequent output in 2014.

now, without further ado, let the accolades of 2013 in music begin.

– best new artist: vancouver sleep clinic –

it’s been hard to ignore tim bettinson’s rise from obscurity and his subsequent impact on the indie blogosphere over the past six months.  since the release of his debut single as vancouver sleep clinic, “vapour,” at the end of june, the seventeen year-old from australia has garnered a significant amount of buzz.  early comparisons were made to bon iver and james blake, similarities further condoned by bettinson’s self-admitted adoration of those two artists, but there’s a level of maturity and coherence in both his lyricism and compositions that is beyond rare for someone who graduated high school last month.

 

i waited in the edge of my seat for months before the next vancouver sleep clinic song dropped, but the artistry attached to “collapse” was worth it.  it’s the lead single off of the band’s upcoming debut ep, already one of my most-anticipated releases of 2014.  the winter landscape “collapse” evokes struck at the perfect moment half a hemisphere away, and this was reflected by vancouver sleep clinic reaching the top of the hype machine charts within days of the song dropping.

 

the success of both “vapour” and “collapse” foreshadows vancouver sleep clinic’s potential to be a heavy hitter in the ambient, atmospheric realm, as well as the band’s capacity to cross over into elements of folk and post-dub with relative ease.  london grammar just picked up bettinson and company as the support act for a string of tour dates in australia next january.  at the rate this band is snowballing, i wouldn’t be surprised to see vancouver sleep clinic dominating heavy-hitting sites like pitchfork and stereogum within the next few months.  they’re certainly worthy of the buzz.

listen to a new song from vancouver sleep clinic

tim bettinson’s intimate bedroom project vancouver sleep clinic first caught my attention back in july with “vapour,” an excellent stand-alone track that evoked self-admitted bon iver and james blake influences.  bettinson has since fleshed out the sleep clinic, adding a couple of members to make it a legitimate band, and recorded a debut ep, out early next year.  i’d rather not have to wait to hear the entire thing, but i’ll settle for the lead single for the time being.  “collapse” continues down the same path as vancouver sleep clinic’s original aesthetic, combining a vernon-esque falsetto with delicate synths.  stream it below, courtesy of the band’s soundcloud page.