sun june – years

– featured image courtesy of bryan parker –

the debut full-length from sun june would be formidable on the strength of its four singles alone.  the lilting “discotheque,” the churning “slow rise ii,” and the understated “young” combine for a veritable triple threat right out of the gate, while the impossibly wistful “records” sets the bar for the album’s flip-side.  spread across years, howeverare six more gems of equal strength, a testament to the austin quintet’s effortless ability to sequence an album as melancholic as it is instantly memorable.

rounding out the a-side is “johnson city,” its contemplative slide guitar work further broadening sun june’s already-spacious horizons, and the nesting behavior of “homes,” a low and slow saxophone undercurrent dovetailing with warm vocal harmonies.  the album’s final four tracks rest comfortably in the vestiges of “records,” each latching on to a certain timbre or cavernous echo and exploring it fully.  the light four-on-the-floor pulse of “baby blue” and the descending turnarounds that populate “apartments” in particular work to provide respite, subtle gestures that drape sun june’s aesthetic with nostalgia and comfort.

while years registers primarily as a guitar-centric album, michael bain’s motifs and interjections pasted to a wall of reverb, laura colwell’s electric piano treatments don’t deserve to be overlooked; the instrument’s chiming vibrato is the linchpin of penultimate cut “i’ve been,” stretching into its upper register as the song swells to a conclusion.  taken together, years is a compelling inaugural outing, its ten tracks calibrated for optimal contemplation.

years arrives on friday via keeled scales, but you can stream the album in its entirety early, courtesy of hype machine.

sun june – “records”

– featured image courtesy of bryan parker – 

it takes laura colwell less than thirty seconds to conjure a snapshot of aching nostalgia on “records,” the sixth track and fourth single off of sun june’s forthcoming debut album, years.  the austin quintet has skimmed the surface of soulful melancholy on their three preceding offerings, but “records” is the first to dive headlong into the description.

tastefully spare and reveling in the space that results, “records” finds sun june sprinkling a bass-and-drums foundation with interlocking guitar lines and warm vocal harmonies, cresting towards a false ending that dissolves into a minute-long instrumental coda.  with its remarkable restraint and wide-open voicings that evoke the texas landscape, “records” is perhaps the band’s most cohesive encapsulation of its aesthetic yet.

years arrives june 15th via keeled scales.  spin “records” below.

premiere – manatree

– featured image courtesy of the artist – 

after trimming its membership in half, the richmond, virginia duo manatree approached their next album slowly, methodically recording tracks in various locations over the span of many months.  the end result is engines, a new collection of songs as intricate as they are accessible.

on engines’ first single, “on and on,” jack mayock and alex elder disrupt a straight-ahead pop landscape with stuttering subdivisions, guitar and bass motifs percolating before releasing tension in agitated spurts.  with a fluid lead vocal that seems to burrow in the contours of the arrangement that envelops it, “on and on” becomes an irresistible three-minute groove, one that drums up further intrigue and anticipation of manatree’s larger forthcoming project.

engines is due out july 12th; for now, absorb the nuances of “on and on,” premiering right here on the dimestore, below.

con davison – “somebody else”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

the st. paul-based musician con davison has spent time playing in various twin cities bands, most recently bad bad hats and dreamspook, the latter of which turned in one of our favorite albums of 2017.  after years in a supporting role, davison has struck out on a solo venture under his own name, and the project’s debut single proves fruitful and intriguing.

“somebody else” is anchored around an ambling, ascending piano progression, with swift descending interjections occasionally jarring its progress.  the presence of davison’s lead vocal is immediate, a warm tenor that’s as effective dry in observations as it is doused in delay and reverb during more ruminative passages.  “somebody else” really comes into its own when the track’s main motif is introduced, a woozy melody that winds its way around vocals and worms its way into ears.

groove-laden and impeccably arranged, “somebody else” is a resounding opening statement that hopefully presages a larger body of work to come.  take a listen below.

air waves – “warrior”

– featured image courtesy of ebru yildiz – 

nicole schneit’s third album as air waves, warrior, is due out april 6th via western vinyl.  last month saw the release of “morro bay,” the album’s second single, a comparatively tranquil outing in comparison to the title track that dropped yesterday.

“warrior” is propulsive, defined by its arpeggiated synth motifs and the gritty guitar progression that chugs along throughout; the esteemed kevin morby echoes schneit’s sentiments during the refrain, and it’s hard not to hear his influence in the aforementioned guitar progression.  by design, “warrior” is also incredibly direct, an anthemic reassurance to those facing both inward and outward struggles.

take a listen to the track below.

major murphy – “one day”

– featured image courtesy of michael newsted – 

grand rapids trio major murphy are gearing up to release their debut full-length at the end of next month.  the three-piece traffics in a brand of soft rock imbued with the warmth of yesteryear’s am radio compounded by jacob bullard’s harmonic interplay with jackie warren, and all components are on full display throughout their latest single, “one day.”

brassy synth pads envelop bell-like guitar up-strokes and a steady back-beat from the track’s outset, the resulting vessel cooly cruising down a sonic highway before bullard’s lead vocal merges seamlessly into the texture.  the end result is a slightly hazy, understated slice of comfort food, a perfect primer for those just discovering the wonder of major murphy.

no. 1 is out march 30th via winspear.  listen to “one day” below.

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.

haley heynderickx – “worth it”

– featured image courtesy of the artist – 

commit haley heynderickx to memory.  the portland singer-songwriter is gearing up to unveil her debut album, i need to start a garden, and has been approaching the precipice of release with a collection of powerful singles in tow: last year’s “oom sha la la,” an unforgettable first impression; january’s “untitled god song,” a rumination on spirituality; and now the latest, “worth it.”

clocking in at nearly eight minutes, “worth it” is an epic tour de force of heynderickx’ songwriting tendencies and capabilities, from the wordless melodies that meander through sparse soundscapes to the inevitable cacophony that is unleashed.  heynderickx is often understated and delightfully conversational in her delivery, a disarming combination that renders the aforementioned outbursts that much more cathartic.

i need to start a garden is out march 2nd via mama bird recording company.  listen to “worth it” below.

the hidden shelf – “defeatist”

– featured image courtesy of the artist – 

an ear to the ground on social media occasionally yields wondrous results.  the work of philadelphia singer-songwriter minji kong has recently drifted into orbit, specifically an extended play, cut it short a year ago, that she released under the moniker the hidden shelf.

the three tracks that populate cut it short are a potent ten minutes of introspection.  sandwiched in the middle is the aqueous, synth-driven “defeatist,” which finds kong deftly navigating the nuances of communication throughout spells of uncertainty and impermanence.  it’s a gorgeous song in all of its elements, an offering bold enough to hang its identity on a seemingly-rhetorical question: “why should we just abandon and throw when we both don’t know?”

cut it short a year ago is out now.  listen to “defeatist” below.

major murphy – “no. 1”

– featured image courtesy of daniel topete –

grand rapids trio major murphy allowed a glimpse of their then-untitled debut album a couple of months ago with “mary,” a plaintive nostalgic trip through the radio dial of yesteryear.  as 2018 has settled in, the band has begun to further detail said debut album; no. 1 will arrive march 30th via winspear, and its title track has arrived today.

“no. 1” again finds major murphy examining the sheen of 1970s soft rock through their own contemporary lens, the effortless harmonies of jacob bullard and jacki warren swaddling the track.  peer underneath that warm veneer, however, and one will find lyrics dotted with existential crisis, moments of harmonic dissonance, and a fuzzed-out bass line that all work collectively to create an impeccable, dichotomous entity.

listen to “no. 1” below.