2018 in review

as 2018 draws to a close, we’ve decided to do something we haven’t done in a couple of years: publish a year-end list on the dimestore.  folks who follow our twitter feed may recall seeing our favorite albums of years past tweeted out in a threaded form, often accompanied by requisite links to our previous coverage or words from other publications that really resonated. 

this list will be very similar, with a paragraph or two of year-end reflection running alongside links to purchase the album, select media, and previous coverage.  like its twitter predecessors, our review of 2018 will run without numerical ranking, instead presented in alphabetical order.  by no means authoritative, this list features ten albums that have made a lasting impact in our small corner of existence over the past year.  we hope you find something new to embrace.

hovvdy – cranberry

the austin duo hovvdy joined the ranks of double double whammy for their second full-length, their warm, lived-in nostalgic turns slotting nicely into the label’s aesthetic.  cranberry finds hovvdy using a familiar palette as a foundation for cautious forays into tangential sonic realms; the gorgeous lilt of  the stand-out cut “truck” is punctuated by wisps of pedal steel, an affective presentation of reflective recollection.

cranberry review || dimestore saints
texas forever: a breakdown of cranberry with hovvdy || portals

juliana daugherty – light

the charlottesville-based daughtery turned in her exquisite debut full-length amidst the dark cloud that hung over her city, its titular light a beacon guiding wayward travelers out of the deepest recesses of their minds.  light is ten tracks of melancholia with glimmers of hope and clarity, the perfect album to escape inside of with a pair of headphones on a solitary afternoon.

light review || dimestore saints
juliana daugherty’s new album light invites you to break apart softly, quietly, beautifully || into the void

kacey musgraves – golden hour

the seemingly-endless critical acclaim heaped on kacey musgraves throughout 2018 was entirely deserved; golden hour is a timeless collection of songs that is easily poised to be one of this decade’s most enduring artifacts.  throughout thirteen tracks, musgraves invites the world to peer through her kaleidoscopic lens of cool, cosmic country, folding synthesizers into the expanses of pedal steel vistas while her lead vocal floats effortlessly in the foreground.

a top-ten list of musical moments from golden hour could easily be litigated for a substantial amount of time, but a handful are indisputable: the snappy drum fill before each chorus in “lonely weekend”; the vocoder harmonies in the second half of the second verse in “butterflies”; the entire seventy-eight seconds of “mother.”  it’s an album so outwardly joyful and pristine yet inwardly so nuanced and pensive that each repeated listen returns impressive dividends to its recipient, with myriad aural ecosystems just waiting to be discovered. 

kacey musgraves is a wild thing || stereogum
kacey musgraves knows love makes the world go round || the fader

mr twin sister – salt

salt is one of those rare new albums that feels like stumbling upon a long-lost hidden gem upon first listen.  mr twin sister spent four years away from the cyclical drone of the music industry, hunkering down to create a lush composite of electronic pop and jazz that functions as the perfect lounge music for the raging inferno of late capitalism that has been 2018.

salt review || dimestore saints
salt review || northern transmissions

noname – room 25

the southside chicago rapper noname took the fruits of her 2016 mixtape telefone and let them marinate for a couple of years. the result is room 25, a vibrant debut album that accentuates fatimah walker’s independent streak while honing her singular, spoken word-influenced aesthetic. this outing is a bit more visceral and less conversational than its predecessor, a poised and confident collection of songs from an indispensable voice.

here comes noname || the fader
room 25 review || pitchfork

pat moon – romantic era

kate davis returned for her sophomore spectral outing as pat moon this past summer, escaping into a slightly different headspace that yielded the ten tracks populating romantic era. a cavernous, intensely intimate project, romantic era resonates as haunting whispers from a parallel dimension, a respite from the cacophony of our everyday existence.

“spiraling” premiere || dimestore saints
entering the romantic era with pat moon || week in pop

r beny – saudade

austin cairns has recorded ambient music under the moniker r beny for the past few years, filtering the central tenets of 1990s slow-core through a prism of analog and modular synthesizers.  his excellent full-length saudade, released in february by the belgian tape label dauw, is a glimmering snapshot of a relatively young synthesist hitting his stride. (cairns’ other 2018 release, october’s eistla, is also commendable.)

any penchant for melody may get buried in a medium that favors deteriorating and evolving soundscapes, but carins’ melodic intuition is the glue that holds saudade together, from the stately, brassy declarations that announce “streams of light” to the hesitant ascent of “burl.”  a mixture of percolating motifs and blurry synth pads makes saudade the ideal aural companion for crisp morning walks, hazy summer evenings, and nearly any other solitary venture in between.

duologue: a conversation with r beny || stationary travels

sun june – years

sun june shares some commonalities with another austin outfit on this list, all the more reason to keep a steadfast ear to the ground for music coming out of that particular city.  on years, the band’s debut full-length for keeled scales, laura colwell and company offer up ten spare tracks that synthesize 1960s pop, early-2000s r&b, and country ornamentations, colwell’s electric piano and the telecaster’s more mellow spectrum teaming up with a tasteful rhythm section for slow-burning standouts like “johnson city” and the muted gleam of opening number “discotheque.”

years review || dimestore saints
a road (opening): on sun june’s years LP || gold flake paint

tierra whack – whack world

maybe whack world is an album, or maybe it’s, as its creator describes it, a “visual and auditory project.”  while its classification is debatable, the fact that tierra whack offered up something that frustrated a playlist-oriented, algorithmic streaming economy while simultaneously capitalizing on the limitations of instagram videos makes whack world decidedly a product of its time.

and what a product it is.  watching the fifteen-minute project in its audio/visual form is obviously the intended method of consumption; whack’s world is a vibrant one that toggles between playful pastiche and snippets of sincerity, a dichotomy reinforced by the characters whack portrays in each vignette.  an exercise in limitation and unabashed originality, whack world is one of 2018’s truly unique releases.

tierra whack can’t be pinned down || stereogum
tierra whack is building her own world || the fader

video age – pop therapy

a quintessential album of the summer, video age’s pop therapy picks up right where the new orleans duo’s 2016 living alone leaves off, putting synths that previously sat in the background squarely at the center of their balmy new wave exercises.  the production across pop therapy is top-notch, with each song carving out its own little niche as ross farbe and ray micarelli steer their sophomore vessel towards its therapeutic destination.

pop therapy review || dimestore saints
comfort without a catch || the new orleans advocate

hovvdy – cranberry

– featured image courtesy of bronwyn walls – 

“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: hovvdy.

Austin duo hovvdy’s 2016 album taster is warm, understated, and timeless; its eleven tracks are doused in a collective nostalgic haze, a collage of comfort that executes its function time and again.  double double whammy reissued taster in april of last year and rumblings of a follow-up soon began percolating.  the end result, cranberry, finds charlie martin and will taylor tightening up hovvdy’s core blueprints while confidently venturing out into new sonic territory.

cranberry is compact and potent: twelve songs that clock in around thirty-five minutes.  it’s clear from the hushed vocals that tentatively trace the outlines of opening number “brave” that hovvdy is intent on basking in its signature blend of warmth, the edges obscured by crackling overdrive and arrangements that slowly unravel back to their foundation.  this theory is further supported by singles like “in the sun,” “petal,” and “late,” a trifecta of hovvdy’s core tenets which easily could have nestled in on the album’s predecessor.

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listen closely, however, and these pillars of cranberry feel less anodyne than they may first appear.  the production has shifted cautiously out of a lo-fi realm while still taking time to maintain that appearance, and the arrangements are often fleshed out by foreign timbres.  in this sense, martin and taylor seem to be easing themselves – and their audience – into the aforementioned sonic departure; case in point: the pastoral synth lead that meanders through “in the sun” presages the largely-electronic composition of “thru,” and returns as a familiar touchstone throughout the rest of cranberry.

this practice of using familiarity to anchor tangential ventures eventually yields “truck,” a gorgeous turn at alt-country filtered through hovvdy’s slow-core lens.  in hindsight, the use of banjo sprinkled throughout previous tracks all but foreshadows the song’s arrival, but the beauty of its pedal-steel treatment is difficult to adequately describe; it’s best to just be heard and felt.  zooming out, “truck” is indicative of what martin and taylor are able to accomplish across hovvdy: growth and maturation as collaborative songwriters who are confident enough to tweak the foundation of their aesthetic as needed.

the enduring gift of hovvdy is the duo’s use of space.  it’s easy to spot and appreciate on sparse tracks, like the penultimate cut “colorful” and the woozy instrumental interlude “tub,” but even full-bodied tracks like “petal” contain unbelievable levels of headroom that is hard not to marvel at.  that wide-open, panoramic end result is partially due to compositional choices – such as the openness of guitar chords and the relaxed feel that permeates the percussion – to be sure, but it’s also implied by the ubiquity of the album’s lyrics, intimate snapshots that leave room for interpretation based on personal experiences.

like its predecessor, cranberry is sure to age gracefully as a strong asset in hovvdy’s catalogue.  the album is out now via double double whammy; stream it in full, below.

hovvdy – “in the sun”

– featured image courtesy of bronwyn walls –

austin’s hovvdy are slated to release their sophomore album, cranberry, on february 9th via double double whammy.  the duo’s three preceding singles have all reflected the impending warmth and comfort this album will be capable of providing; its fourth single, “in the sun,” accomplishes the same feat through slightly different means.

a mix of acoustic and electric guitars bleed together and coalesce around a soft back-beat, a muted palette that swaddles a tender lead vocal occasionally laid bare.  the linchpin of “in the sun” paces timidly in the background, a pastoral synth line with just enough buoyancy to float to the surface when needed before receding back into the greater texture.

like the very best of recipes, “in the sun” is infinitely greater than the sum of its parts, a beautiful collage of frank, minimal pop.  listen in below.

most anticipated albums of 2018

featured image courtesy of minimally minimal –

as 2017 draws to a close, we naturally shift our focus to 2018 and the bevy of albums slated to be released throughout the year.  admittedly, the following list largely focuses on albums due out in the first quarter, with a couple of pipe dreams sprinkled in.  for those still trying to soak up as much of 2017 as possible, check out our favorite releases of the year here.  for those looking to forge ahead, read on.  links to pre-order are embedded if available.

rhyerhye – blood (february 2nd || loma vista)

three strong singles have thus far precluded rhye’s long-awaited sophomore full-length.  after returning this summer with “please,” rhye closed out 2017 with the supple one-two punch of “taste” and “count to five.”  if the samplings and album art are any indication, mike milosh’s work remains as intimate and sensual as ever.

 

Hovvdy Cranberryhovvdy – cranberry (february 9th || double double whammy)

austin duo hovvdy released one of 2016’s most enduring – and endearing – albums in taster.  cranberry, their first since signing to the venerable double double whammy, seems poised to flesh out the warm, lived-in aura that permeates their disarmingly honest work.  case in point: lead single “petal” drips with nostalgia, its assured pace gently giving way to tender falsetto.

 

quiet friendquiet friend – quiet friend (march 9th || elestial sound)

after years of releasing music by himself under the moniker mister lies, nick zanca has shifted into collaborative mode to build quiet friend with steven rogers.  the duo, along with a rotating cast of other contributors, sculpt an audiophile’s dreamscape; lead single “safe” is a whirlwind, but is also just a hint of what quiet friend have in store throughout their self-titled debut.

– other notable releases – 

a grave with no name – passover (january 19th || forged artifacts)

nadine – oh my (january 26th || father/daughter)

triathalon – online (february 16th || broken circles)

s. carey – hundred acres (february 23rd || jagjaguwar)

lucy dacus – historian (march 2nd || matador)

half waif – lavender (tbd || cascine)

helena deland – tba (tbd || luminelle)

ness nite – dream girl (tbd || pow recordings)

pat moon – tba (tbd || track & field)

yours are the only ears – tba (tbd || team love)

 

hovvdy – “late”

– featured image courtesy of bronwyn walls – 

austin duo hovvdy made a lasting impression with their debut full-length, taster; released by sports day records in 2016 and reissued by double double whammy earlier this year, taster embodied charlie martin and will taylor’s knack for writing hushed, intimate lo-fi pop, songs that easily could have been exhumed from an older sibling’s tape collection.  after taking time to tour and enjoy the well-deserved accolades that have followed taster, martin and taylor are forging ahead with cranberry, their sophomore album, due february 9th.

an initial sampling of cranberry arrived late last month in the form of “petal,” a lilting slow-burner that turns on a disarming, whispered chorus delivered in falsetto.  hovvdy’s newest single harbors subtle contrasts; the vocals throughout “late” are assured and nestled in the foreground, and the guitars feel a bit more blown-out, creeping closer to the cacophony of their slowcore forebears.

but “late” is also about tenderness and compassion overcoming initial feelings of anxiety and inadequacy, as the song revolves around the couplet “circle point of view / i’ll come around to you.”  appropriately, a pastoral synth pad seems to be perpetually hovering underneath the more immediate timbres, paying homage to the thematic warmth radiating outwards.  “late” functions particularly well on repeat, a new component sinking in on each new listen until the track coalesces into something greater than the sum of its parts.  embark on your journey through the link below.