best of 2015: eps

korg rhythm 55the ep is a beloved format here at the dimestore, the perfect stop-gap for artists in between full-length projects and an extended offering for those just beginning to imprint their dna in music’s genome.  the five selections from 2015 skew largely towards the latter; dive into our picks below.

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diet cig over easydiet cig – over easy

you’d be hard-pressed to find a duo that had more flat-out fun in 2015 than diet cig.  the new paltz two-piece offered up their debut ep, over easy, early this year, a compact five-song venture into jubilant power chords and flippant observations about the waning moments of teenagedom.  diet cig may market themselves as slop-pop, but there’s nothing sloppy about alex luciano’s underlying wit, or how she accosts small-town narcissism on “scene sick” and gloriously howls “fuck your ivy league sweater” at the climax of “harvard.”  more of this in 2016, please.

pools to bathe inthe japanese house – pools to bathe in

a co-sign from the 1975 certainly helped amplify exposure, but amber bain would have snuck into the internet’s collective awareness regardless.  her work as the japanese house thus far is affecting, a haunting palette of minimalist textures wrapped around bain’s penchant for stacking brooding vocals.  although her second ep of 2015, clean, already showcased bain expanding her horizons, pools to bathe in feels like definitive japanese house, from the warped acoustic guitar foundation of the ep’s title track to the chilling narrative of an alter-ego on “sister.”  in an era when pristine, layered production is as coveted as ever, the japanese house serves as an acute example of how to subvert that practice’s outcome and obtain an incredibly intimate final product.

Morly - In Defense of My Muse WEBmorly – in defense of my muse

cascine is our reigning label of the year in part because they regularly brought exceptional acts like morly to the forefront of our inbox.  on in defense of my muse, katy morley harnesses the dexterity and beautiful simplicity of fragmented piano melodies and weaves them through sparse electronic soundscapes, resulting in a body of work that can be just as euphoric as it is ominous.  case in point: “and sooner than we know it…” briefly emerges from an eerie choral haze to indulge in a subdued dancehall catharsis, but the surrounding tracks ascertain that morly is ultimately a project of introspection, not delayed hedonism.

sayth body pillowsayth & north house – body pillow

eric wells and alex tronson held down the art of the short-form record for the wisconsin/minnesota border in 2015.  on body pillow, tronson’s moody amalgamation of trap beats and polychrome textures coaxes out some of sayth’s densest lyrical material yet, from sharp commentary on the perpetual state of limbo felt by twenty-somethings to heart-rending, vivid navigations of fleeting romance.  body pillow also aligns many of the salient members of wells’ burgeoning collective, lowkey radical; wealthy relative creams the ep’s sole guest verse on “a formal apology to grandma wells” while baby blanket made his inaugural appearance on the hook of “maybe god is afraid of us?”  but some of the finest moments happen without any outside help.  closing number “pink pistols” pads lush synth swells and stuttering drums around an ode to sayth’s entire contingent, which compounds rapidly and builds towards the ep’s final, visceral couplet: “macklemore made a million off of gay rights / thanks bro, this is actually my real life.”

yumi zouma ep iiyumi zouma – ep ii

being spread across the globe doesn’t seem to hinder yumi zouma; if anything, the quartet thrives off of displacement.  our reigning best new artists turned in their much-anticipated second ep mere months after receiving the accolade, one that showcases a more intricate understanding of how to intertwine soaring hooks and intimate textures.  “alena” and “catastrophe” are both baleric anthems, indulging in their respective melodies to craft compositions that feel like extroverted extensions of the subdued persona yumi zouma initially embodied, but they’re necessary foils if the desired end-result is “song for zoe & gwen,” the universal missing component from every 1980s soundtrack that finally pairs the band’s nostalgic sonic palette with thematics of the same stature.

listen to a new song from diet cig

photo courtesy of andrew piccone
photo courtesy of andrew piccone

there’s probably a diet cig full-length album in the works somewhere, and it’ll probably be very, very good.  in the meantime, alex luciano and noah bowman are offering up a new 7″ on the heels of their excellent debut ep over easy.  “sleep talk” b/w “dinner date” is due out on vinyl via father/daughter records and art is hard records on september 18th; we heard the a-side last month and earlier this week the duo shared “dinner date,” a surging mid-tempo anthem that culminates in luciano’s strongest vocal hook to date.  take a listen below.

listen to a new song from diet cig

photo courtesy of andrew piccone
photo courtesy of andrew piccone

new paltz duo diet cig has already rustled up one of our absolute favorite eps of this year with their debut, over easy, a release soon to be augmented by a new 7″.  “sleep talk” b/w “dinner date” is out jointly via father/daughter and art is hard on september 18th, and today the band let go of its a-side.  like its predecessors, “sleep talk” is simple and concise in construction – although the guitar’s higher end is noticeably more pronounced this time around – a foundation built to support a lyrical set from alex luciano that fluctuates between self-deprecation and hesitancy and a prevailing shoulder-shrugging, fuck-it mentality.  it’s the coda that really sells this track, though; a poignant, cyclical line delivered in half-time quickly becomes a mantra of sorts for all of the preceding fragments.  take a listen to “sleep talk” below.

diet cig – over easy

diet cigdiet cig crams a lot of material into just ten minutes of music.  the new paltz duo is still green and a bit rough around the edges, but that rawness lends itself well to the bevy of emotions contained inside their over easy ep, out today via father/daughter records.

five tracks is just enough space for alex luciano to run the gamut from sarcastic to shameless to sheer loathing.  “breathless” immediately showcases her wit (“i don’t have any kitchenware / but i can walk around in my underwear / in my first apartment / where i pay so much for rent”), and while a murmuring delivery initially suggests a quaint apathy, the true dichotomy of the duo’s dynamic range is unveiled towards the end of the song.  noah bowman’s floor tom-centric drumming may be an underlying condition but luciano’s unabashed wail is the true catalyst of diet cig’s peak volume, her voice clearly piercing through an otherwise-grainy mix.

“scene sick” is the most sonically polished track on over easy, and for good reason: it contains luciano’s most relevant commentary.  besides airing her grievances pertaining to local music scenes, luciano ruthlessly takes an ex to task on “harvard” (“fuck your ivy league sweater” yelled repeatedly might be the best moment on the entire ep) and shows a similar aversion to inflated egos on “cardboard.”

diet cig sets the bar at just the right height with over easy.  the tempo rarely fluctuates from song to song, easily allowing a cohesive enjoyment of the ep and a general understanding of what the duo stands for.  like almost any act dabbling in pop-punk, diet cig does not abstain from poop references (see: “pool boyz”) nor from taking swipes at exes, but the meat of luciano’s lyrical content is so gloriously tongue-in-cheek and ridiculously on-point that those juvenile transgressions are somehow even more amusing in contrast.  new paltz has been an interesting microcosm of the east coast music scene for some time now, and diet cig only adds to the intrigue.  block out twenty minutes for over easy.

7.9/10

listen to a new song from diet cig

photo courtesy of andrew piccone
photo courtesy of andrew piccone

new paltz duo diet cig drop their debut ep, over easy, next month via father/daughter records, and they’ve roared back into focus with their latest single.  “harvard” is a two-minute bitter middle finger directed at a nameless ex-boyfriend, culminating in alex luciano screaming “fuck your ivy league sweater / you know i was better” repeatedly until the song exhausts itself.  take a listen to the track below.

listen to a new song from diet cig

if you missed the diet cig party this week, now’s your chance to get all caught up.  alex luciano and noah bowman have been honing a twee-infused craft of solid garage rock up in new paltz, surrounding themselves with folks that have contributed to bands like lvl up, porches., and site favorites quarterbacks.  the duo is offering up their over easy ep on february 24th via father/daughter records and recently shared their debut single, “scene sick,” a two-minute anthem of apathy supercharged by bowman’s drumming and an extremely catchy, surprising outro.  blink and you’ll miss it.  with “scene sick” obviously just scraping at the levels of emotion diet cig is capable of dissecting and conveying, over easy has suddenly become one of this winter’s hottest commodities.  familiarize yourself below.