kerry devine – “work you”

– featured image courtesy of kat cashman –

english singer-songwriter kerry devine is slated to release her debut full-length, away from mountains, later this year.  if its lead single is any indication, the album is poised to be a lush tour de force of brooding, folk-tinged songs.

devine recently shared the pristine music video for “work you,” the clip’s unsettling plot against a pastoral backdrop the perfect analogue for devine’s haunting delivery and instrumentation.  sonically, “work you” is majestic, effortlessly ebbing and flowing from muted synth pads to passages that are more fully in bloom.  it’s an exercise in restraint, one that devine pulls off with aplomb.

away from mountains is out soon via trapped animal.  watch the music video for “work you” below.

tomberlin – at weddings

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

staying on top of every new release is hard.  staying on top of every new release is even harder when your blog uses language that suggests multiple people are cogs in the machine, but really you’re just flailing helplessly by yourself, trying not to drown in a heavily-saturated inbox.  “fashionably late” is a remedy, an intermittent feature designed to showcase particularly special albums or eps that evaded us (there i go again) during their structured press cycle.  next up is the debut effort from tomberlin.

The postscript at the bottom of tomberlin’s bandcamp page reads “my fifth of a century,” a simple reminder of the youth that accompanies the incredible weight and poignancy of at weddings, her debut album.  with little more ammunition than a guitar and her voice, tomberlin excavates artifacts of listlessness and loneliness across the album’s seven tracks, self-doubt and hesitation wrapped up in lyrics capable of utter devastation at a moment’s notice.

throughout at weddings, tomberlin consistently accomplishes something rather notable: crafting memorable sentiments without relying on conventional refrains for reinforcement.  instead, it’s the vocal melody that often remains consistent throughout a given track, lilting contours pausing or altogether evaporating for maximum effect.  even on album centerpiece “you are here,” the lone instance of a discernible chorus, tomberlin achieves the desired impact through a combination of melodic familiarity and intimate points of view that truly underscore the song’s resounding abandonment.

Tomberlin At Weddings

meandering, finger-picked acoustic guitars are the album’s primary accompaniment, the instrument’s timbre consonant, therapeutic.  on “untitled 1,” it works in tandem with the whispers of a brassy synth to create a hypnotic aura; on closing number “february,” plaintive arpeggios ebb and flow peacefully, mirroring the lyrical delivery while belying its mournful content.  the moments that do deviate from this norm, like the chiming, descending wurlitzer foundation of “tornado,” are a necessary jolt to the status quo, a vague timbral equivalent that extracts additional facets of tomberlin’s aesthetic.

owen pallett’s presence throughout at weddings is more so felt than heard.  the multi-instrumentalist handled the album’s engineering and production while also providing secondary instrumentation, like the murky, distant synthesizer pads that flesh out a handful of tracks.  he factors in most prominently on “self-help,” a later cut saturated with disorienting, abrasive interludes that splice up an arresting lead vocal delivered by both tomberlin and pallett.  but most importantly, pallett doesn’t imprint any of his distinctive fingerprints onto at weddings, sagely allowing the album to be singularly tomberlin, through and through.

at weddings is an intimate affair presented in modest fashion; although ultimately the byproduct of two people working closely in concert, the salient components of the album emanate directly from sarah tomberlin’s core.  this is a project that gently asks to be consumed slowly, with care.  appease it.

a grave with no name – “when i pass through here”

– featured image courtesy of the artist – 

alexander shields prefers his folk music with a spectral glint.  at the helm of a grave with no name, the london songwriter directs compositions capable of lingering for hours after completion, haunting the depths of an audience’s collective consciousness.

take “when i pass through here,” the second single off of his forthcoming album passover, as an example: the stuttering tremolo of shields’ electric guitar melds into foundational percussive brushstrokes, creating a potent vessel for shields to explore a theme of fleeting existence and its implications.  augmented with pedal steel swells and the timbral richness of a cello, “when i pass through here” evokes an eeriness and immediacy distinctly within the trajectory of a grave with no name.

passover is out january 19th via forged artifacts.  listen to “when i pass through here” below.

s. carey – “fool’s gold”

– featured image courtesy of cameron wittig –

sean carey has long augmented his contributions to bon iver with a solo output under the moniker of s. carey.  that body of work is now slated to grow even further; carey will release his new album, hundred acres, on february 23rd via jagjaguwar.

coupled with the announcement is “fool’s gold,” the affecting catalyst for the rest of the songs that populate hundred acres.  the palette of “fool’s gold” reflect’s carey’s sparse, stripped-down approach to this project; an acoustic guitar lightly accents carey’s crystalline, prominent lead vocal for much of the track before ben lester’s pedal steel leads a small band into the fray, providing a warm pad of gentle flourishes through to its conclusion.

hundred acres will arrive in time to provide respite from a bitter midwestern winter.  for the time being, reflect on “fool’s gold,” below.

kevin krauter – “reckless”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

kevin krauter plays bass and sings in the bloomington, indiana, dream pop outfit hoops, but he also released a stunning six-song collection, changes, under his given name late last year.  consuming that body of work immediately would be ideal.

while each track on changes holds its own as a singular achievement, it’s “reckless,” the album’s fourth cut, that has received music video treatment.  like the song it accompanies, hugh sherman donkin’s visuals are sparse but impactful; krauter is filmed alone in various parts of an older building – a gymnasium; a stairwell; a loveseat – either playing or miming the various components of “reckless.”  the poignancy of the audio and video truly coalesce in the final moments, with krauter departing as a harmonized piano motif gently drifts off into the ether.

changes is out now via winspear.  watch the clip for “reckless” below.

premiere – tica douglas

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

nestled among this year’s shortlist of outstanding releases is tica douglas’ our lady star of the sea, help and protect us.  the album’s eleven songs are dotted with characters and stories born out of douglas’ time purusing their master’s degree in divinity from union theological seminary; at times sparse and at others cacophonous, our lady star and its contents should be unpacked over time with the utmost care.

at the center of our lady star lies “weightless,” a song about release, the lifting of burdens.  the resounding catharsis is almost palpable once douglas arrives at the hook, their lead vocal toggling between the phrase “weight lift” and the song’s title as hesitant arpeggios further compound its melancholic buoyancy.

perhaps it’s fitting, then, that the new music video accompanying “weightless” seems so preoccupied with the concept of floating.  director gracie pizzo aligns molds of slow-moving aerial footage to douglas’ verses and chorus; as more abstract imagery begins to drift by, douglas can be glimpsed taking it all in, transfixed by a fleeting instance of beauty analogous to the lyrical themes they explore.

our lady star of the sea, help and protect us is out now via team love records.  watch the gorgeous visuals for “weightless,” premiering right here on the dimestore, below.

florist – if blue could be happiness

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

“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: florist.

It’s tempting to be swallowed whole by the outward fragility of florist; emily sprague’s frank musings are accompanied by sparse, quiet instrumentation, a potent combination whose resulting intimacy and vulnerability should not be downplayed.  however, the fragile depiction of florist belies the determination that ultimately resonates across the band’s work and sprague’s lyrics.  if blue could be happiness, florist’s sophomore full-length, is matter-of-fact in its delivery, its broad scope equally capable of mining both serenity and devastation.

if blue could be happiness is the logical sonic successor to florist’s debut, the birds outside sang.  both albums hinge on sprague’s stream of consciousness and her gentle, finger-picked acoustic guitar, while consonant synthesizers ebb and flow amidst swells of percussion and occasional flourishes of strings; if anything, blue seems to demonstrate more control over this quiet, restrained method of orchestration.  it’s a familiar palette, therapeutic in its presentation, a calming demeanor gently swaying in an eternal breeze.  but whereas birds examined the aftermath of a near-death experience, blue occasionally zooms in on the loss of a family member and the subsequent reverberations.  the exploration of mortality continues, with a subtle change of the lens.

Florist If Blue Could Bethough the unexpected passing of sprague’s mother certainly informs sizable swaths of blue, framing the album solely in terms of grief does a disservice to the multitude of emotions sprague is able to deftly sift through.  the centerpiece “glowing brightly” perhaps exhibits this intricacy best; the track turns on the aching line of “mom, i love you / i still hear your voice inside my sleep” but quickly segues into a more uplifting realm, the titular verb and adverb brushstrokes on a sprawling canvas of picturesque, natural beauty.  elsewhere, sprague ruminates on the simple wonders of love (“eyes in the sun”) and devotes “thank you light” to a color-filled, poignant examination of self.

of course, the color blue carries significance far beyond its titular placement, almost becoming a desired state of existence that sprague explores in various capacities across the album.  on “understanding light” she wonders “why can’t i find a place to hide from the darkness? / i want to live in the blueness,” the hue becoming a more vibrant middle ground in between, or maybe an alternative to, the simple dichotomy of light and dark. on “what i wanted to hold,” a loving violet is slowly sun-bleached blue; later, a pale iteration is conflated with general well-being.

by the time sprague repeats the title track’s hypnotic, swaying mantra, if blue could be happiness has already graduated into a class with few other peers.  largely devoid of typical verse-chorus structures, blue feels squarely like an album reserved for intimate, introspective personal journeys, perhaps in bucolic surroundings.  it’s an album adorned with gorgeous snapshots of life, love, loss, friendship, and permutations of their various intersections; perhaps just as critically, blue also takes pointed pitstops to marvel at the myriad wonders of nature, a gentle reminder that while life is fleeting, beauty is omnipresent.

harley alexander – “tiny bricks”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

little more than a year after releasing harland, the montreal-based singer-songwriter harley alexander is gearing up for the advent of a new mini-album, spill kid.  alexander leads somewhat of a nomadic lifestyle, splitting his time between performing in montreal and planting trees clear across the country, just outside of vancouver.  it was on the west coast that this latest batch of songs took shape; nestled in amongst nurturing tape hiss and warm acoustic guitars are slightly poignant ruminations on alexander’s surroundings.

“tiny bricks,” the first offering from alexander’s forthcoming release, studiously evokes every facet of this aesthetic.  inside a simple structure of drum programming and softly-strummed chords lies a hazy narrative, one that examines the soothing familiarity of nature as it relates to a smattering of interpersonal vulnerability.  punctuated by a mournful melodic motif that sustains throughout its coda, “tiny bricks” is an excellent glimpse into the intimate environment that is spill kid.

spill kid arrives october 20th via sports day records.  marinate in “tiny bricks” below.

florist – “what i wanted to hold”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

emily sprague’s output as florist is unparalleled.  across last year’s debut full-length, the birds outside sang, and its preceding extended play, 2015’s holdly, sprague created a perfect niche to lay her thoughts bare, one where sparse acoustic narratives can be processed alongside full-band ventures and more ambitious expeditions led by modular synthesizers.

“what i wanted to hold,” the first offering from florist’s upcoming sophomore album, skews more towards the former, with naught but soft strumming, root-note reinforcement, and some well-placed swells accompanying sprague’s vocal.  the end result is a singular environment, an invite-only expanse of pastoral fields filled with hues of the colors sprague explores throughout her lyrics.

if blue could be happiness is out september 29th via double double whammy.  listen to “what i wanted to hold” below.

 

most anticipated albums of fall 2016

– featured image courtesy of minimally minimal –

the 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, the weeknd and lorde).  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.

mick-jenkins-the-healing-componentmick jenkins – the healing component
september 23rd (free nation)

after years of building anticipation, mick jenkins will finally release his long-awaited debut album, the healing component, tomorrow.  if early looks like “spread love,” “drowning,” and “fall through” are indicatives of the album’s tenor, then the healing component should more than clear the high bar jenkins has imposed on himself.

jenny-hval-blood-bitchjenny hval – blood bitch
september 30th (sacred bones)

only a little more than a year has passed since jenny hval released her excellent apocalypse, girl, but the norwegian composer and songwriter has already completed a follow-up album, blood bitch.  hval’s new effort is billed as an about-face from its predecessor and has been bolstered by the strengths of lead single “female vampire” and “period piece,” a standout component of this year’s adult swim singles series.

unnamed-1moses sumney – lamentations
september 30th (self-released)

moses sumney’s live performances are a wonder to behold, and his recorded music is nearly emotive.  after thriving off of a handful of singles and his debut ep, mid-city island, sumney will self-release his latest extended play at the end of this month, but be on the lookout for his much-anticipated debut album sometime soon after.

takuya-kuroda-zigzaggertakuya kuroda – zigzagger
october 7th (concord records)

those not familiar with japanese bandleader and trumpeter takuya kuroda would do well to pick up his 2014 album, rising son, a perfect union of jazz, hip-hop, and r&b.  kuroda and his band continue to hone that aesthetic on zigzagger, his fifth studio album and first for concord records.  for a primer, start with the album’s lead-off single, “r.s.b.d.”

ricky eat acid talk to you soon.pngricky eat acid – talk to you soon
october 28th (terrible records)

sam ray will return to his ricky eat acid moniker at the end of next month to release the project’s first full-length in over two years.  2014’s three love songs is a timeless masterpiece, and ray’s divergence from its ambient magnetic pull on subsequent singles, mixtapes, and eps suggest that talk to you soon may be broader in scope and ambition, but almost certainly as uniquely emotive as its predecessor.

– other notable releases –

bon iver – 22, a million (september 30th)
danny brown – atrocity exhibition (september 30th)
s u r v i v e – rr7349 (september 30th)
ahem – just wanna be (october 7th)
jagwar ma – every now & then (october 14th)
american football – american football (october 21st)
the radio dept. – running out of love (october 21st)
forth wanderers – slop (november 11th)
the weeknd – starboy (november 25th)
childish gambino – pharos (tba)
chromatics – dear tommy (tba)
vancouver sleep clinic – tba (tba)