foxing – “slapstick”

– featured image courtesy of hayden molinarolo – 

foxing’s sophomore album, dealer, found the st. louis quintet separating themselves from the pack of emo revivalists that surged in the early 2010s, continuing to augment their core sound with trumpet and piano while delving into further timbral explorations and ambient introspections.  as the band’s tenure was often tenuous, dealer was poised and ready to assume the role as a swan song for an incredibly passionate and dynamic group of musicians, the collective document reading as an elegy of sorts.

three years later, foxing – now a quartet – are very much still in existence and are sitting on a new collection of songs, nearer my god.  the album’s first offering, “slapstick,” is as cinematic as anything in the band’s repertoire, its skeletal beginnings swelling to a majestic third act punctuated by synthesizers and horn stabs.  accompanying the single is a beautiful music video, written and directed by foxing alum josh coll, that follows the fate of a marooned scientist and his botanical demogorgen.  equal parts tender and heartbreaking with an undercurrent of absurdism throughout, the audio/visual pairing for “slapstick” deposits foxing at the frontier of a new artistic territory, one with ample space for further exploration and discovery across their third album.

nearer my god arrives august 10th via triple crown records.  watch the music video for “slapstick,” below.

best of 2015: albums

casio vsco 2our year-end best-of week comes to a close with our favorite albums of 2015.  we’ll spare you from reading any more; click on each album cover to navigate away to a review – more often than not from this site – that adequately portrays our opinions.  as always, our picks will run in alphabetical order, and you can listen to each album by clicking on the link in its title.  dive in.

———

mind out wandering coverastronauts, etc. – mind out wandering

depression cherry coverbeach house – depression cherry

new bermudadeafheaven – new bermuda

eskimeaux o.k.eskimeaux – o.k.

foxing dealerfoxing – dealer

ibeyi s:tibeyi – ibeyi

sprained anklejulien baker – sprained ankle

port st. willow syncopeport st. willow – syncope

carrie & lowellsufjan stevens – carrie & lowell

vince-staples-summertime-06vince staples – summertime ’06

mixtape sunday: best of 2015

 

on friday we published an ode to our favorite songs of 2015; now they’ve been repackaged as a mixtape.  our picks run in an order conducive to mixtape flow.  check back tomorrow for continued year-end coverage.

———

day wave – “drag”
astronauts, etc. – “shake it loose”
tame impala – “yes i’m changing”
kendrick lamar – “king kunta”
mick jenkins – “your love”
isaac vallentin – “stewardess”
sayth & north house – “under water • under ice”
scallops hotel – “lavender chunk”
chairlift – “ch-ching”
foxing – “the magdalene”

best of 2015: songs

vscocam barn copypicking just ten songs to represent an entire year in music is no easy feat, but such is the plight of a minimalist music website.  the following tracks shaped the dimestore’s trajectory in 2015, from unexpected email submissions that proved riveting to a wide swath of midwest hip-hop to gorgeous post-rock soundscapes.  our picks run in alphabetical order, and you can click on the title’s link to navigate away and hear each track; dig in below.

———

shake it loose coverastronauts, etc. – “shake it loose”

almost every track from mind out wandering would have pulled its weight in this slot, but “shake it loose” is a particular hallmark due to its kaleidoscopic union of pop and psychedelia.  anthony ferraro and his quintet of astronauts lock into an indelible groove right on the initial downbeat, the interplay between the guitar’s rise-and-fall motif and the rhythm section’s meticulous subdivision at the end of each phrase informing both the framework of ferraro’s vocal and the ensemble’s gradual abandonment of structure in favor of a more textural exploration.  if “shake it loose” sounds almost unfairly organic during its dreamlike sequence, that’s because it is; the entirety of mind out wandering was recorded straight to tape without ever passing through a computer, allowing each note on the album to resonate with an extra degree of authenticity.

chairlift ch-chingchairlift – “ch-ching”

caroline polachek worked with beyoncé during chairlift’s interim between full-length projects, a fruitful partnership that may have dictated the duo’s first new single in nearly three years.  “ch-ching” subverts chairlift’s penchant for constructing massive sing-along hooks by trimming the first two choruses down to sultry finger snaps and eerie vocal twists on the song’s titular sound.  still, even as the final refrain hits in all its harmonized glory, “ch-ching” retains the notion that chairlift are now comfortable outside the nostalgic confines that defined their earlier work.  there’s genuine potential for moth to be a truly cosmopolitan album.

day wave headcaseday wave – “drag”

jackson phillips drew a lot of justifiable comparison to dylan baldi’s early output as cloud nothings this year: both projects hone(d) in on home-recorded pop songs and a reverence for the guitar as a pivotal melodic instrument, but phillips’ work as day wave occupies remarkably different sonic territory.  to illustrate this point, look no further than “drag,” the earworm that first put day wave on the internet’s radar in 2015.  phillips, a percussionist by trade, puts faith in an old drum machine to anchor the song’s robust foundation while he turns his attention to an ostinato guitar motif that molds the concrete of “drag” into a majestic skyscraper.  effervescent synth countermelodies soon blossom from the track’s confident chorus, dutifully weaving throughout phillips’ slightly-downtrodden lead vocal and the bevy of arpeggios he stacks on top.  day wave takes unabashed influence from the beach boys and new order; “drag” proves that to be quite the winning combination.

foxing – “the magdalene”

st. louis quintet foxing crafted one of this year’s most affecting post-rock albums.  dealer is largely devoid of the agitation that pervaded its predecessor, the albatross, but the tension that is released is done so with remarkable poise.  “the magdalene” is a deeply personal confessional that exposes the psychological trauma conor murphy suffered during a religious upbringing, wrought with sexual suppression and guilt.  but foxing is incredibly deft at turning grief into catharsis, and “the magdalene” eventually spills over into a lush b-section where simple melodies of all timbres intertwine, propelled by a surging and syncopated rhythm section.  when murphy cries out “watch me come / undone” in his falsetto, chills linger.

isaac vallentin hederaisaac vallentin – “stewardess”

isaac vallentin wins our informal award for best blind album submission via email; if you haven’t heard hedera yet, go listen.  “stewardess” is the track that got us hooked, with its arpeggiated blueprint slowly morphing into an exquisitely subdued post-dub groove.  vallentin thrives at moving fluidly between genres throughout hedera, and “stewardess” is a microcosm of that ability; his deep, sonorous lead vocal ties everything together and ushers in a chorus of chiming synth pads for a final triumphant statement.  in a year when james blake remained dormant, vallentin delivered murky musings with equal aplomb.

kendrick lamar – “king kunta”

what’s left to write about to pimp a butterfly that hasn’t already been written?  kendrick lamar’s lauded third album reigned relatively unchallenged as the definitive piece of hip-hop in 2015, trading out the grit of good kid, m.a.a.d. city for soul samples and jazz-inclined collaborators from a resurgent l.a. scene.  “king kunta” brings the funk in the most defiant way possible, as kendrick accosts industry opportunists and fair-weather fans over a swaggering thundercat bass line while maintaining his status as a dominant lyricist in the game.  but the song’s oxymoronic title is a reference to the notion that a man is only as powerful as his the color of skin; despite achieving financial and critical success, lamar’s very existence is often systemically viewed as sub-par.  “king kunta” is an easily digestible snapshot of an incredibly dense and experimental personal odyssey, a suitable gateway into the strain of hip-hop kendrick lamar created for himself.

ick jenkins wave[s]mick jenkins – “your love”

mick jenkins teamed with a handful of producers on his new ep wave[s] for a plethora of directions; perhaps not surprisingly, his union with the perpetually in-demand kaytranada yielded the most enduring results.  “your love” is a far cry from the introspective consciousness that pervaded last year’s the water[s], with jenkins crooning and rapping about a potential transcontinental romance over an aqueous bass line paired with warm synth interjections.  it’s the closest thing to blatant r&b that jenkins has ever proffered to his audience, and “your love” slowly became our low-key song of the summer.

sayth body pillowsayth – “under water • under ice”

sayth’s collaborative work with north house across body pillow is the result of a budding friendship, but it’s also a glorious intersection of two critical young voices in minneapolis’ diy scene.  “under water • under ice” is the ep’s resolute opening statement; north house’s wobbly arpeggios stumble through his diligent snare work while sayth constructs a grim narrative for the “generation of ‘i’m fucked when i turned twenty-seven.'”  but the track’s hook fights valiantly to make the strongest impression, with sayth staring adversity and listlessness in the face and offering more positive – albeit sometimes defiant – alternatives.

out may 5th via ruby yacht/the order labelscallops hotel – “lavender chunk (ft. hemlock ernst)”

it’s a testament to rory ferreira’s unwavering dedication to create provocative and indelible art that one of his projects is represented in year-end contention for the third year in a row.  scallops hotel feels like a cleansing alternative to ferreira’s more recognized output as milo, a no-risk solution for him to explore new facets of production or to alter his songwriting approach.  plain speaking yielded some of ferreira’s most readily accessible and pointed work to date; “lavender chunk” cycles through a simple ostinato with an extended guest verse from samuel t. herring’s alter ego hemlock ernst, but ferreira hops on just in time to deliver a remarkably fluid stream of consciousness, largely devoid of the non-sequiturs that had been his crutch.  more than anything, “lavender chunk” will endure as poignant, with the outgoing statement quickly morphing into an unsettling mantra that reflects the state of things in 2015.

tame impala currentstame impala – “yes i’m changing”

tame impala was our shameless self-indulgence of 2015.  during the waning days of summer, when the dimestore headquarters packed up again and moved back across the country, currents supplied a palette of driving music that was more than adequate.  “yes i’m changing” soundtracked sunset ventures through the cascades one night and sunrise journeys through the rockies the following morning, its undeniably pristine arrangements only slightly quelled by a sub-par car stereo and a flighty aux cord.  kevin parker deserves some sort of award for writing the most prominent bass lines on psychedelic records, as “yes i’m changing” rumbles through a closing chapter in life under the direction of a low-end presence that continuously flirts with melodic territory.  in a year marked with a handful of new beginnings, “yes i’m changing” hit home.

foxing – dealer

foxing dealer cover
out october 30th via triple crown records

it didn’t take long for foxing to stand apart from their peers.  the st. louis quintet’s debut album the albatross meted out blasts of post-hardcore agitation that were occasionally quelled by beautiful instrumental passages, and these arrangements progressed with such fluidity that it was hard not to admire this young band’s intimate capacity to tug at heartstrings on a multitude of levels.

a reissue of the album last year by triple crown records helped propel foxing to even more widespread acclaim; they spent the twilight of 2014 touring with brand new and modern baseball before beginning to flesh out ideas for their sophomore effort.  further writing sessions in rural vermont earlier this year yielded the songs that would eventually populate dealer, an incredible, deeply personal follow-up that steadfastly holds court in the bowels of self-reflection.

while the albatross was firmly rooted in release, dealer finds solace in tension – and retention.  the religious imagery that defines lead single “the magdalene” is vivid in description and stark in consequence, its biblical undertones permeating in quick succession through the final third of the album.  this appropriately culminates with finale “three on a match,” a poignant nod to an old wartime superstition compounded by a heartbreaking rejection of repentance.

vocalist conor murphy and bassist josh coll share songwriting duties, and this fruitful partnership has pushed foxing into a new lyrical category on dealer.  the poetry is dense and less direct, but it notably doesn’t force itself into the spotlight; murphy’s falsetto (more confident and technically capable than on the albatross) smears certain words into a song’s canvas (see especially: “eiffel”) while enunciating others for maximum effect, and he’ll often leave the conversation altogether to give his bandmates ample time to musically react to the emotions he’s explored.

the centerpiece – and masterpiece – of dealer is “indica,” an intensely somber account penned by coll riddled with regret and remorse.  its lyrics leave behind much of the duo’s detailed imagery in favor of a bleak reality.  the central couplet “and if so, do i haunt their parents’ dreams? / and in so, am i summarized by sounds of young lung screams” weighs heavily on the album and helps advance the elegy for tragic civilian casualties in afghanistan, but “indica” is also a elegy for a part of coll himself, who concedes that his post-traumatic stress may be the only consolation for the parents of dead children as a sparse funeral march plays in the background.

the noticeably darker subject matter is underscored by vast, often desolate soundscapes.  the members of foxing haven’t deviated far from their standard palette: guitar, bass, and drums are still augmented by murphy’s trumpet and piano contributions, and fleshed-out orchestral arrangements play a significant role in the overall tone of dealer, but many timbral roles have shifted.  guitarists ricky sampson and eric hudson largely leave harmony behind to explore the stratosphere, relegating chordal support to piano and strings or preferring to outline the progressions via arpeggio.  the duo also spend more time crafting atmospheric pads that prop up secondary melodic instruments, such as the trumpet-saxophone duet on “laundered” and the eerie reed organ tones that course through “indica” and “redwoods.”

this rearrangement of sonic architecture allows foxing to convincingly clear the ceiling of lyrically-driven music and venture far into the realm of extended instrumentals.  both “winding cloth” and “coda” function not as mere interludes but as direct, fully-developed reactions to their antecedents.  the former molds a fleeting piano motif at the end of “indica” into a sprawling cinematic endeavor that’s every bit as devastating as its predecessor’s poetry, while the latter’s barren landscape quickly dampens the catharsis of “eiffel,” returning dealer to a more downtrodden tone for its true finale.

dealer resonates deeply.  a magnum opus of this caliber, with no discernible weak points, is rarely achieved by a band, let alone this early in their career.  foxing’s bluntly finite, unofficial motto means they could hang it up at any moment; it would be a shame if dealer winds up being their swan song, but goddamn, what a legacy they’ll leave behind.

most anticipated albums of fall 2015

braun turntable 2the 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, kanye and frank).  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.

———

mind out wandering coverastronauts, etc. – mind out wandering
september 18th (hit city u.s.a.)

anthony ferraro has seen his exploratory outlet into the realm of pop music grow from a solo project to a full-band endeavor.  already armed with a quartet of impressive singles, astronauts, etc. should offer up a strong and nuanced debut full-length with mind out wandering.

every open eye coverchvrches – every open eye
september 25th (virgin/glassnote)

chvrches wrote and recorded their sophomore album over the span of six months, a quarter of the amount of time they spent touring in support of their massive debut the bones of what you believe.  still, the glaswegian trio’s penchant for huge melodies and their uncanny ability to weave downtrodden aspects of indie rock into massive stadium-ready anthems (see “leave a trace”) argues that every open eye will likely be a well-deserved victory lap.

new bermuda coverdeafheaven – new bermuda
october 2nd (anti)

remember that deafheaven is a substantially different band than the one that churned out sunbather two years ago.  the sense of urgency derived from a dire economic situation that permeated the band’s critically-acclaimed breakthrough album may be subdued, but this is a creative force bent on melding genre confines into a fluid product.  at the very least, new bermuda will not fall short on intrigue.

are you alone? covermajical cloudz – are you alone?
october 16th (matador)

speaking of critically-acclaimed albums from 2013, the duo responsible for our favorite record that year are returning with a new full-length in october.  are you alone? comes on the heels of an arduous touring regimen for majical cloudz, including a support slot for lorde that necessitated a re-write of most of the new material the band had fleshed out.  “silver car crash” finds devon welsh singing as directly as ever, and his easy command of a higher register suggests a newfound confidence; subsequent singles that emerge this month and next should paint a clearer picture of the album’s direction.

foxing dealer coverfoxing – dealer
october 30th (triple crown)

st. louis quintet foxing emerged from the recent emo resurgence as a clear frontrunner that could endure the waning fad and continue to contribute meaningful material.  their breakthrough the albatross juxtaposed moments of agitation with sustained introspective passages, a formula that will prove beneficial for a young band given ample time to hone their craft.

– other notable releases –

lana del rey – honeymoon (september 18th)
kurt vile – b’lieve i’m going down (september 25th)
milo – so the flies don’t come (september 25th)
youth lagoon – savage hills ballroom (september 25th)
chad valley – entirely new blue (october 2nd)
alex g – beach music (october 9th)
saintseneca – such things (october 9th)
beach house – thank your lucky stars (october 16th)
pure bathing culture – pray for rain (october 23rd)
gems – kill the one you love (october 30th)
the japanese house – clean (november 6th)
goldlink – and after that we didn’t talk (november 13th)
james blake – radio silence (tba)

listen to a new song from foxing

foxing
photo courtesy of mitchell wojcik

the success of foxing’s 2013 debut effort the albatross spilled over well into the following year.  the st. louis outfit’s blend of cinematic post-rock and eclectic post-hardcore resonated with a surging fan base and earned them a record deal with triple crown, who reissued the albatross and will release the band’s sophomore album, dealer, out october 30th.

on “the magdalene,” the first single pulled from dealer, foxing collectively internalizes the aggression that permeated their earlier work and presents a vulnerable confessional about the psychological trauma of sexual guilt stemming from a religious upbringing.  dual guitar lines weave delicately through conor murphy’s vocal narrative, with layers of decayed delay washing over the song’s texture before coalescing into a beautiful, heart-wrenching coda powered by a surging rhythm section.

add dealer to our list of highly anticipated albums for the fall.  take a listen to “the magdalene” below.