pearla is the vessel for the songs of brooklyn’s nicole rodriguez, an amalgam of closely-woven genre cues that feel intimately familiar. as rodriguez readies her debut extended play, to see release later this year, she’s shared its first single, “daydream.”
“daydream” burns slowly initially, rustic piano chords providing the scaffolding for rodriguez’ lead vocal before cascading into something with a bit more urgency, a restrained catharsis to anchor an impressive inaugural batch of songs.
when he’s not putting in time as a member of natalie prass’s backing band, jacob ungerleider records warm, enveloping pop songs under the moniker grebes. after releasing the swirling, downtempo “wyd” earlier this year, grebes returned last week with a follow-up single, “one trick pony,” ahead of a full-length release.
brushing up against the two-minute mark, “one trick pony” grounds itself in aqueous synths, stuttering percussion, and ungerleider’s tender lead vocal, percolating to the surface before suddenly dissipating. as the album’s lead track, it’s the perfect introduction to grebes.
house creature, the debut effort from grebes, arrives june 28th via broken circles. listen to “one trick pony” below.
the brooklyn-based quartet crumb has been honing a vaguely psychedelic, undeniably infectious repertoire for the past few years, one with roots in lila ramani’s songwriting but that’s blossomed into an effortless collaborative venture. on june 14th, the band will self-release jinx, their first full-length that serves as a logical conclusion to a stellar pair of extended plays.
on “ghostride,” ramani’s stuttering, warped vinyl guitar motif dictates the mood, heralding a deep-pocketed two-minute groove populated by a wobbly synth line and an ethereal stream of consciousness. joining predecessors “nina” and “part III,” “ghostride” is another strong indication of the import of jinx, one that gently demands to be in heavy rotation. listen in below.
after releasing a handful of sharp one-off singles last year, the brooklyn quintet barrie has their sights set on 2019. the band is slated to release their debut full-length, happy to be here, later this spring and recently shared “clovers,” the album’s lead single, an encapsulation of the harmonically-rich collaborative nature barrie’s music tacks towards.
we recently caught up with four of the five members of barrie via e-mail to talk collaborative creative direction, the significance of “clovers” as a lead single, and how individual members’ experiences have shaped happy to be here. check out the transcript, which has been lightly edited for clarity, below.
there’s a bit of ambiguity as to whether barrie is a band or a solo project, which i think is by design. how do you approach integrating your own creative direction with the input and contributions of the other band members?
barrie: we’re figuring it out as we go. everyone in the band is a talented writer and producer in their own right, and has other outlets outside the band. the best way i can think to describe it is we’re running my songs through the filter of this really interesting group of people who have experiences and talents that i don’t. sometimes that plays out through the music (and very much in the live production), and sometimes it’s in ways beyond music, like in the aesthetics or big picture decisions, or who we collaborate with.
although the band now operates out of new york city, each member originally hails from a different part of the globe. can you speak to any individual experiences, musical or otherwise, that were particularly valuable and/or informative to the band as a whole while making this record?
dom: that is a heck of a question. i would say a great thing we did was to play the first set of songs together many times, as for the first few months we were maybe listening to barrie’s demos remotely and coming together was more about meeting and getting a feel for each other. i think that allowed us to imagine what we could each bring to the table.
spurge: almost all of us are on the other side of twenty-five, so we’ve each had our own experiences, in and outside of the music industry, before coming together to start this project. that’s allowed us to have a patience and self-awareness about our band growth and group dynamic that i don’t think is common for new bands. for example, i’ve worked and interned at a few music studios in new york. that experience has taught me about the prevalence of ego in the creative process, sometimes more so than the actual music making. so, we all make sure to always be empathetic and communicative to each other with this in mind.
noah: yeah, everyone in the band is a bit of an old soul type/has been around it all for a while so longevity and sustainability is something that is a constant consideration, both logistically, musically, and emotionally. we want/plan to be around for a long time and make decisions accordingly.
“clovers” is the lead single from happy to be here, and i’m particularly struck by how the synthesizers in its second half juxtapose the piano in its first, how it encapsulates your aesthetic well while leaving other avenues open for exploration. is there anything in particular you’d like to share about the track, its origins, and/or its significance to you collectively as an ensemble?
barrie: i’m happy this is the lead single because it’s one of the songs that was most shaped by others in the band. i made the demo in boston with the original piano and synth sounds, and it was the first song spurge and noah and i worked on together when i moved to new york. spurge and noah added textures and beefed up the synth sounds, and then once we were in studio, noah beefed and polished them even more.
it captures the “fucked up classic” aesthetic that we’re after. and of course, like most of the songs on the album, dom’s drumming on it, and that takes it to another level.
dom: “clovers” for me is a great indication of how we wanted to push the record beyond basic “pop songwriter” territory – a lot of that is down to (co-producer) jake aron giving a lot of space while keeping control of what was at the core of each track. the middle eight is mega hard to play though, scary.
polish that beef brisket!
noah: one of the major guiding principles behind this project is timelessness. we wanted to fill the record with a ton of easter eggs so there’d be something new to discover with each listen and listeners can consume it on whatever level they prefer. in this song, we mostly achieved that through running the MIDI that barrie had written into a bunch of analog synths, and playing with filters and stuff in real-time to introduce some human variation and create some happy accidents.
happy to be here is out may 3rd via winspear. pre-order the album here.
the brooklyn duo TMBOY explored the euphoric release of frenetic, electronic pop on their 2015 self-titled release, a territory they seem keen to return to on a pair of new singles due in late june.
“focus,” the first of these two singles, arrives today accompanied by a stark monochromatic music video, the director andrew mcintyre capturing the duo’s affecting performance and choreography amidst various sprawling backdrops. the kinetic energy throughout “focus” is palpable, a pulsating vessel well-suited for sarah aument’s acrobatic lead vocal.
a wonderful re-introduction to TMBOY ahead of their double-single focus / seed, which in turn is a primer to a forthcoming album, “focus” is an intricate slice of compelling pop music, one further enhanced by the earnestness of its visual counterpart. get acquainted below.
“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: yours are the only ears.
Even after susannah cutler began sharing her music publicly in 2014, its dissemination was incredibly measured: a track here, an extended play there, each release a quick glimpse inside a setting so intimate it’s nearly indescribable. with knock hard, her first full-length release as yours are the only ears, cutler has finally allowed full immersion into the innermost depths of her private world.
the album’s nine tracks contain a standard palette so sparing that each foreign element introduced carries weight of seismic proportions; the aqueous synth pads on “to be alone” whisk the track away on a solitary voyage to sea, while the melancholic slide motif at the tail end of “seeds” seems to add a second wistful character to the conversation. the sparseness is a necessity – best not to bury one’s soul being bared in the mix – and comes in handy for a project so centered around the second person, light finger-picking progressing softly in the background as cutler confides in hushed tones.
despite its enduring sonic warmth and inherently bucolic tendencies, knock hard grapples with the darker questions of existence and belonging, from opening number “saturn” through to its finale, “low.” there’s a quiet existential crisis housed in the early standout “fire in my eyes,” cutler’s voice embodying the album’s fragility as it cracks over the repeated inquiry “am i a good person?,” while the gritty “enter me” ruminates on the effects of abrupt abandonment, observing that “comfort makes a funny face / when it goes away.”
clocking in at just under thirty minutes, knock hard is a tidy bundle of understated folk songs, acoustic guitars supplemented by well-placed synth countermelodies and barebones percussion. songs frequently eschew identifiable refrains, cutler instead favoring streams of consciousness that may be tied together by a common vocal melody or a simple but potent mantra. it’s this choice that gives knock hard its gravity, a versatile strategy that allows cutler to either chart a linear course towards reckoning or to disappear into the contours of a specific emotion or situation.
an album at least four years in the making, the debut from yours are the only ears is essential listening, the strength of its whispered intimacy becoming more apparent each time the needle contacts the wax. knock hard is out now via team love records. listen in full below.
just two weeks out from the release of her debut full-length, susannah cutler has shared the album’s final single, “you and bobby.” like the rest of cutler’s output at the helm of yours are the only ears, “you and bobby” is incredibly measured, doling out precise parcels of vivid imagery, storytelling that wends through optimism and desolation before arriving at its final destination.
the sparse instrumentation gradually fills out as the song progresses, the keyboards exploring more motion with the percussion as rigid acoustic fingerpicking ventures into an upper register. but it’s when everything drops out that “you and bobby” reaches critical mass, the faint pulse of a kick drum and the warbling current of organ pads absorbing the weight and resolution of cutler’s lyrics.
max frankl and christian banks had a chance encounter a half-decade ago in new york, one that sowed the seeds for a collaborative project. after admiring each other’s work from a distance, the zurich-based frankl and banks – who records under the moniker walrus ghost – have linked up for avenues and remembrances, a compact collection of eight songs due out april 13th via seattle’s hush hush records.
nestled at the tail end of the album is its penultimate cut, “downing still life.” just over two minutes in length, the track captures a guitar loop in its final stages of tape degradation, a pronounced, unsteady warble permeating throughout its progression. “downing still life” is simple in presentation yet leaves a wistful, long-lasting impression indicative of what the duo achieve across avenues and remembrances.
we’re thrilled and humbled to premiere “downing still life” here today on the dimestore. take a few laps around the track below.
susannah cutler has constructed an entire realm of sound around a foundation of potent, affecting lyrics. the building blocks that comprise the sonic architecture of cutler’s work as yours are the only ears feel less sparse than they do exhaustively sourced and meticulously placed, a curation of complementary timbres that accentuate the sheer weight of her lyrics.
ahead of the release of her debut album, knock hard, cutler has shared its third single, “fire in my eyes.” bucolic acoustic finger-pickings coexist with an ominous sub-bass synth line, an unsettling juxtaposition that functions as an analog to cutler’s vacillations about the song’s subject. her audience bears witness to all the hesitations that accompany a toxic relationship’s dissolution, culminating in the heartbreaking, repeated inquiry of “am i a good person?” it’s a tour de force of emotion, snippets of memories stitched together into an unforgettable, hypothetical narrative.
knock hardis due may 11th via the esteemed team love records. listen to the powerful “fire in my eyes” below.
nicole schneit’s third album as air waves, warrior, is due out april 6th via western vinyl. last month saw the release of “morro bay,” the album’s second single, a comparatively tranquil outing in comparison to the title track that dropped yesterday.
“warrior” is propulsive, defined by its arpeggiated synth motifs and the gritty guitar progression that chugs along throughout; the esteemed kevin morby echoes schneit’s sentiments during the refrain, and it’s hard not to hear his influence in the aforementioned guitar progression. by design, “warrior” is also incredibly direct, an anthemic reassurance to those facing both inward and outward struggles.