premiere – bill waters

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

william smith is real; bill waters is a character. the hudson valley singer-songwriter first slipped into the chronically tired persona on 2017’s excellent extended play humid, and is sitting on a companion piece of sorts, honey hi, due next month via the esteemed forged artifacts.

conceived in waters’ home studio below a brooklyn bar, the six-song collection embodies an appreciation for the pop songwriting tenets of the late 1960s and early 1970s, turning on pensive themes of romance and existence and funneled through jangly mid-tempo melodies.

on “it’s true,” the first glimpse of honey hi, waters and his percussive compatriot ian dwy sculpt an ambling five-minute centerpiece musing on relationships, its spritely drums and shaker slotting behind a woozy slide motif that winds throughout the track. a minute of respite kicks in at the end of the lead vocal, the duo biding their time before building a comparatively agitated extended outro, sustaining for some time and driving home the thesis that these tunes are meant to be felt more so than understood.

honey hi arrives march 29th; listen to “it’s true,” premiering right here on the dimestore, below.

premiere – alexei shishkin

– featured image courtesy of graham w. bell – 

for much of this site’s existence, alexei shishkin has been a constant.  the transient singer-songwriter has been providing understated ruminations on ennui and listlessness for the past few years, turning in a steady stream of releases via the minneapolis tape label forged artifacts.  on october 19th, shishkin will return with his latest full-length, happy bday, a transcontinental batch of songs as geographically beholden to portland, orgeon, as they are to shishkin’s current residence in new york city.

the album’s newest single, “i don’t mind,” finds shishkin squarely in his element, extolling the virtues and unintended consequences of slowing life down in a measured duet with jess n. pierson.  warm, phased guitars augment the relaxing timbre of shishkin’s lead vocal, with arpeggiated melodies and well-placed synth pads drifting in and out of the texture.  ever reliable, shishkin combines these elements to offer up something as unassuming as it is profound, a much-needed, sustained exhalation for the collective mind.

“i don’t mind” is premiering today, right here on the dimestore.  listen in below.

premiere – wetter usa

– featured image courtesy of kaytee callahan – 

all good things must come to an end.  for wetter USA, embracing that mantra means the minneapolis quartet will hang it up after the release of their second full-length, late bloomer, as lead singer melissa jones departs from their point of origin.  the band’s final album is a veritable swan song, its seven tracks showcasing jones’ lyrical prowess and the well-crafted arrangements cinched tightly just beneath the surface, a suitable bookend to wetter’s short but potent tenure.

for proof, look no further than “bug on the wall.”  dual, dueling guitar lines decamp to their respective left and right channels, enveloping jones’ crystalline lead vocal as its tenor moves between contemplative and confident for the duration.  never succumbing to the full potential of its catharsis, “bug on the wall” nevertheless finds release in the admissions of its final minute, a temporary weightlessness punctuated by jones’ stratospheric octave jump.

late bloomer is due out july 27th via forged artifacts.  its intricate, affecting second single, “bug on the wall,” premieres today on the dimestore; listen in below.

premiere – lawn

– featured image courtesy of amelia anderson – 

the new orleans duo lawn traffics in a brand of jangle-pop that harkens back to the genre’s inaugural days: bright, chiming guitar parts layered over vocal harmonies that seemingly burst from nowhere.  mac folger and ruy de magalhaes are slated to release their debut full-length, blood on the tracks, as lawn on may 11th via forged artifacts; the folger-centric lead single, “2000 boy,” arrived last month, and today sees the release of the album’s title track.

“blood on the tracks” finds de magalhaes at the helm, navigating this mid-tempo number through to the sublime gang-vocal deliverance of its titular hook.  although compact in stature, “blood on the tracks” is incredibly potent, a combination of de magalhaes’ commanding lead vocal and folger’s instant-classic off-kilter guitar break in between the second and third chorus.

for those still looking to experience the thrilling dichotomy of lawn’s songwriting duo for the first time, run “2000 boy” and “blood on the tracks” back to back.  the latter is premiering today, right here on the dimestore.  dig in.

wellness – “fake flowers”

– featured image courtesy of the artist – 

jordan gatesmith recently packed up and moved west, trading the deep freeze of minneapolis for the comparative warmth of los angeles to work on a new project, wellness.  after a pair of extended plays, gatesmith has linked up with the ever-reliable forged artifacts for his third release, a six-track collection entitled mall goth.

despite a cross-country move, it seems like wellness’ aura still retains vestiges of frozen origins; lead single “fake flowers” is icy and metallic in the classic post-punk sense, gatesmith’s outsized baritone washing over the track.  its third dimension comes from an irresistible guitar motif woven throughout, adding depth and nuance that compliments a powerful linear pull.

add in a carley solether-directed clip chronicling the escapades of a quartet of mall goths, and “fake flowers” is rounded out into a vessel that fully announces gatesmith’s aesthetic for this release.  mall goth arrives april 6th.  watch the video for “fake flowers” 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)

 

alexei shishkin – 3

– featured image courtesy of graham w. bell – 

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.  closing out the year: alexei shishkin.

Alexei shishkin is remarkably effective at parlaying seemingly-mundane observations into couplets that suggest pause should be given.  he opens his aptly-titled third album, 3, musing that he’s “always floating, on an ocean / ever golden,” the final syllable locking into the accompanying chord progression’s ascension to boost the mood.  and, indeed, is an undeniably catchy album, a collection of breezy pop songs that all seem to be competing to have the most memorable hook.  shishkin is equally gifted at weaving these guitar motifs through the greater arrangements, sometimes doubling them with vocals, sometimes letting them pull their own weight.

of course, not every moment on is as sunny as the beginning of “pushing my luck.”  shishkin explores impermanence and imagination on “fourteen hour,” ramifications of communication breakdown on the infectious “muddled,” and a fleeting sense delivered through an abstract lens on “celeb dog,” each facet delivered in his patented unassuming monotone.  an even-keeled exterior may prevail, but there remains ample space for shishkin to sort out the more nuanced components of his narratives.

alexeishishkin3

the majority of was written in 2015, before shishkin’s cross-country move from portland to new york.  drums came a year later, tracked remotely by jon fust in boise; final vocals were touched up this year in new york.  jess pierson’s voice lightly traces shishkin’s throughout the album, often joining forces with a keyboard or guitar to further support a hook, giving 3 an understated but effective aural anchor that breathes familiarity and comfort.

thirteen tracks gives shishkin ample space to stretch out and venture into newer sonic territory.  various horns pop up across 3, warm electric piano turns populate successive tracks “umm” and “talkback machine,” and a prominent envelope filter renders standout cut “pittsburgh” gently psychedelic.  and then there’s “slowerr,” a three-minute ostinato predicated on shishkin’s hypnotic looping of the phrase “i didn’t mean it” buried deep within muddied guitar chords and pillowy piano flourishes.  having already solidified his pop bonafides, these supplements allow shishkin to burrow deeper into a more nuanced iteration of his songwriting persona.

3 is a wonderful and important addition to alexei shishkin’s already-promising catalogue.  it’s out today via the reliable forged artifacts; click through the link below to stream and purchase.

 

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.

bill waters – humid

– 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: bill waters.

Bill waters is a blank canvas; he could be an unassuming next-door neighbor, the vaguely-recognizable guy from the bus, an office curmudgeon.  in this context, waters is the moniker of songwriter and producer william smith, a twenty-something who hails from the hudson valley.  humid is his first serious solo venture and bill waters is the vessel through which it is delivered, a beleaguered persona that allows songs to wax romantic freely, without any elements of self-consciousness trickling in.

the six songs that span humid are varied, but all harken back to the 1960s & 1970s soft pop waters acknowledges as a touchstone; the brisk “new car” segues seamlessly into the woozy, laid-back haze of “easy,” while penultimate cut “polyphone” is a sparse, tender entry swaddled in the warmth of an electric piano.  equally impressive throughout humid is waters’ dedication to exploring the peaks and valleys of his vocal register.  perhaps no one song better captures this than “milo and me,” a raucous ode to companionship that finds waters’ rich, sonorous baritone flirting with the cusp of falsetto.

through and through, humid is a remarkable songwriting achievement, a showcase of the depth possible with a modest amount of tools.  we recently caught up with the man behind bill waters to chat about the album process; check out the transcript, lightly edited for clarity, below.

you record under the moniker bill waters, whose given name is an abbreviation of your own.  is the moniker simply a stage name, or more of a persona you slip into while writing?  maybe something else entirely?

bill waters is definitely a persona for me to slip into while writing.  i think he’s some jaded 1970s recording artist that chain smokes and takes a lot of amphetamines – definitely a character that i lean into while writing and recording.  it feels like something to almost hide behind, or like a barrier to put up while being maybe a little too sappy or romantic with the lyrical content.

i believe humid is your first venture as a solo artist.  what projects have you worked on in the past, and what was the catalyst to strike out on your own?

i played in a band called dumb talk for a long time with a few of my good friends.  that was great; we put out some vinyl and gigged around.  that helped me get into the nerdier, engineer side of music as well.

i think with humid, i wanted to prove to myself that i could write, record, and produce something completely on my own.  i was working a lot, and when you’re doing that it’s hard to coordinate schedules with other people and friends who also have lives.  it’s also a good chance to release all of the little control freak tendencies that every songwriter has.  there are definitely pros and cons to doing a record on your own, as opposed to with a band or engineer.

Bill Waters Humid

to that end, how did you approach the writing and recording process for the songs on this ep?

the writing process came in waves over the past year.  a lot of it was me getting high and sitting in the bathroom with a nylon string guitar for an hour or two.  the lyrical content seemed to flow pretty easily; i was starting a relationship with someone, and got to use all of the romantic influence that comes along with that.  i think it’s hard to be falling in love and not write about that.

recording was a pretty special, interesting process.  i was living with my friend in upstate new york and we had a little studio set up in our apartment.  towards the end of july 2017, i had a week off of work, so i decided that was when i would record and mix everything.  looking back, it was kind of a dark week.  i would wake up, eat some eggs, binge on adderall and coconut water until i felt like i tracked enough, then pop a xanax and start drinking to bring my body to a screeching halt when the sun came up.

and for all the nerds out there: i used an sm7b for all the vocals, played the guitars through a fender twin reverb and a blown-out fender solid state amp, and i recorded most of the drum takes into a tascam 4-track.

i kept the air conditioner off because it was obviously loud as hell, and i think my body reached its peak temperature that week.  i definitely had a moment where i realized the album had to be called humid as an ode to the remarkable amount of sweat my body released while tracking drums.

one of my favorite tracks on humid is “milo and me,” in part due to the noodling guitar lines and in part due to its subject matter.  is there a particular backstory to that song?

oh yeah, there’s a juicy, sad story behind “milo and me.”  milo was my sister’s dog that was staying with me for a bit in the spring.  we had a great time an i got pretty attached.  about a month later, he got hit by a car and passed away.  i think that was the most depressed i’ve felt about a beloved animal passing away.

on a lighter note, i was listening to a lot of 10cc and sheer mag over the past year, and that’s definitely where the guitar riffs came from.

you seem comfortable in, and with exploring, myriad vocal registers.  are there specific artist you’ve taken cues from while working on this project?

with recording humid, i had a lot more time to experiment with vocal performances and production.  i think that gave me the space to find new registers, but there’s definitely some production trickery in there.  i was messing around with varispeed (changing the tempo and pitch of the song) and was just discovering the magic of double vocal tracks and auto double-tracking.

as far as other artists go, todd rundgren was a big influence and kind of always has been.  also, connan mockasin was a big vocal influence as far as experimentation goes.

humid is out now via forged artifacts.  take a listen to the entire album below.

premiere – stanley

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

ryan gebhardt recently began crafting a singular songwriting persona under the mononym stanley, sculpting a warm, lived-in iteration of guitar pop perfect for the changing seasons.  though the public unveiling of this project aligns rather nicely with his relocation to minneapolis, gebhardt actually wrote and recorded his self-titled debut full length in various locations on the east coast.

perhaps that’s why tracks like album standout “don’t you know i’m alright,” which comes on the heels of previous singles “daylight sun” and “brewin’ up,” feel like a pair of worn-in shoes, a troubadour’s foresight into a cross-country voyage.

at the forefront of most stanley compositions is a tandem force: gebhardt’s easy-going lead vocal and the bleary guitar melodies that meander in and out of the conversation.  “don’t you know i’m alright” is no exception; a mournful slide guitar swoops and slides across the verses before tightening up into a motif that’s as memorable and assured as the titular refrain.  warmth and ennui rarely collide in such a manner.

stanley is out september 22nd via the joint forces of forged artifacts and king forward records.  “don’t you know i’m alright,” the album’s third single, premieres below.  explore.