haley heynderickx – “untitled god song”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

haley heynderickx arrived in full force last year with “oom sha la la,” a debut single – shrouded in the doo-wop its title suggests – presaging a powerful debut album.  that strength’s inevitability is further compounded with the recent release of a second single; “untitled god song” finds the portland singer-songwriter grappling with spirituality and hypothesizing about its physical manifestation as a reverb-drenched arrangement sways behind her lead vocal.

the cavernous depths eventually brim with the warmth of a trombone counter-melody commandeering the full band and provides an affecting template for heynderickx’ final thought, which abruptly departs into the ether.  “untitled god song” is culled from i need to start a garden, out march 2nd via mama bird recording company.  listen below.

jay som – “pirouette”

– featured image courtesy of ebru yildiz –

today finds melina duterte, known for her work as jay som, revisiting material from the recording sessions that yielded last year’s excellent full-length, everybody works.  two songs from those sessions that didn’t land on the album, “pirouette” and “o.k., meet me underwater,” have been packaged together as a 7″ single, due out january 26th via polyvinyl records.

“pirouette,” the single’s a-side, is a delightfully crunchy slice of pop, filtered through duterte’s signature lyrical lens and capped off with a woozy ostinato of a coda.  take a listen below.

hovvdy – “late”

– featured image courtesy of bronwyn walls – 

austin duo hovvdy made a lasting impression with their debut full-length, taster; released by sports day records in 2016 and reissued by double double whammy earlier this year, taster embodied charlie martin and will taylor’s knack for writing hushed, intimate lo-fi pop, songs that easily could have been exhumed from an older sibling’s tape collection.  after taking time to tour and enjoy the well-deserved accolades that have followed taster, martin and taylor are forging ahead with cranberry, their sophomore album, due february 9th.

an initial sampling of cranberry arrived late last month in the form of “petal,” a lilting slow-burner that turns on a disarming, whispered chorus delivered in falsetto.  hovvdy’s newest single harbors subtle contrasts; the vocals throughout “late” are assured and nestled in the foreground, and the guitars feel a bit more blown-out, creeping closer to the cacophony of their slowcore forebears.

but “late” is also about tenderness and compassion overcoming initial feelings of anxiety and inadequacy, as the song revolves around the couplet “circle point of view / i’ll come around to you.”  appropriately, a pastoral synth pad seems to be perpetually hovering underneath the more immediate timbres, paying homage to the thematic warmth radiating outwards.  “late” functions particularly well on repeat, a new component sinking in on each new listen until the track coalesces into something greater than the sum of its parts.  embark on your journey through the link below.

major murphy – “mary”

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for major murphy, the closest analogue to a coast would be the banks of lake michigan, but the grand rapids trio have long dwelt in an auditory enclave decidedly less chilly than the midwest.  as this year draws to a close and they start looking towards the next, the band has shared a sampling of things to come in 2018.

“mary” begins with plaintive keyboard chords before a full-band arrangement kicks in, crackling as if coming across via transistor radio.  the groove is well-defined and the atmosphere decidedly nostalgic as jacob bullard and jacki warren gently harmonize with each other, traversing through a narrative before arriving at an impossibly tender coda, driven by the contours of bullard’s guitar solo.

“mary” is out now via winspear.  get swept away below.

lomelda – thx

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“album of the fortnight” is a (recently revived) 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: lomelda

It feels almost sacrilegious to listen to lomelda in anything other than a solitary setting, preferably with headphones.  hannah read’s music doesn’t resonate as lonely so much as it does as an examination of what it means to be alone, a sentiment that courses through the river that is her second full-length album, thx.  attached to that sentiment is a cocktail of emotions that is equal parts hesitant, curious, and content, a mixture that proves perfect fodder for a thirty-five minute rumination on one’s current state of being.

read’s voice is so arresting, her delivery so immediate throughout thx that this may distract from its status as a high-caliber guitar album, but her simultaneous six-string work is arguably its linchpin.  angular lead motifs, like the meandering descent on “interstate vision” or the angular tremolo stabs throughout “from here,” frequently interlock with chord progressions that are as likely to be gritty as they are cleanly strummed, weaving a tapestry that’s as sweeping as the rural texas landscape.  that landscape always seems to factor in thematically, no matter how indirect: it’s an obstacle, something to contend with; it’s the backdrop to moments of solace, to familiarity; it’s just simply there.

Lomelda Thx Coverlike other mononymous projects attributed to one central songwriter and persona, lomelda blurs the line between read’s solo project and an exclusive club to which only those closest are granted admission.  perhaps the decision is conscious, perhaps it’s just par for the course.  the primary contributor throughout thx is read’s brother, tommy, who co-produced, played drums on, and wrote an iteration of the album’s most outwardly-visceral cut, “bam sha klam.”  in a four-generation homestead in tiny silsbee, texas, maybe that collaboration was inevitable; a close-knit family is also a convenient sounding board, able to provide some semblance of reaffirmation.

much of thx oscillates around the first and second person, the union and the separation of the characters “you” and “i.”  the malleability of read’s vocal melodies is readily present, but it’s the sentiments of the material retrofitted to those contours that leaves a lasting impression, that finds listeners absent-mindedly mumbling certain mantras to themselves for weeks to come.  the stories read tells and the snapshot moments she dissects may not be entirely congruous to the experiences of her audience, but the general themes at once feel incredibly intimate and yet accessible, almost universal.  that deft maneuvering and presentation is what makes lomelda so special.

delve into the brief, sparse title track to get wrecked by a matter-of-fact narrative; put a circle around penultimate cut “mostly m.e.” if you feel like getting wrecked again.  read’s propensity of peppering a very straight-forward approach to storytelling with beautiful imagery is perhaps her most disarming quality, creating an ever-so-slight mystic quality on par with the origin of her project’s name.  thx resonates like few other albums this year, and has arrived at an incredibly convenient point on the calendar.  block out a half-hour, grab a pair of headphones, and let it reverberate through your very core.

silver torches – “keep the car running”

– featured image courtesy of chona kasinger –

erik walters is poised to release his latest album as silver torches, let it be a dream, on october 6th.  after releasing the mid-tempo, melancholic earworm “if i reach” last month, walters and company returned earlier this week with “keep the car running,” a poignant burst that refines a focus on keyboard-driven americana.

the silver torches home base of seattle may not conjure up visions of wide open expanses, but cross the cascades into eastern washington and your tune will quickly change.  “keep the car running,” in all its narrative glory, might as well be wed to that singular desert landscape; between walters’ swaying cadence and a steadfast underlying propulsion, the band’s latest single almost demands to be experienced while meandering through rural america.

take a listen to “keep the car running” 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.

little kid – sun milk

– featured image courtesy of the artist – 

“album of the fortnight” is a (recently revived) 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: little kid

This site has extolled the virtues of the toronto-based outfit little kid for much of its existence.  while still approaching the band largely from a recording-project perspective, kenny boothby turned in the heavy, complex river of blood in 2013; last summer, after a prolonged, somewhat frustrating period of dormancy, boothby emerged with the sprawling flowers in hand and a solidified line-up in tow.  the stability of having a reliable pair of collaborators at hand is perhaps what led to the comparatively quick arrival of sun milk, little kid’s fourth full-length album, which the band self-released last week.

although just seven songs long, sun milk is a daunting, though thoroughly rewarding, body of work to consume.  one must traverse all the way to its coda before encountering a track that dips below the five-minute mark, and even then, “like a movie” arguably makes up in gravity what it lacks in length.  an exploration of ambient missives and noisy vamps that began on flowers is whittled down on its successor, maybe not to a more precise formula but certainly to one that breathes with the ease of seasoned veterans.

a self-inflicted allergy to electric guitars that afflicted boothby throughout the duration of flowers is immediately vanquished on sun milk; opening number “the fourth” bristles with saturation, as does the album’s centerpiece, “slow death in a warm bed,” ushering in perhaps the flat-out loudest iteration of little kid yet.  for a band that has long relied on outsized dynamic contrast for maximum effect, this embrace of grit only makes tracks like the lo-fi piano ballad “fog” that much more potent, as if an aural equivalent of the prodigal son returned and immediately became the workhorse of the entire operation.

Little Kid Sun Milk Album Artperhaps as a reminder that songs do not solely exist within the vacuum of an album cycle, a recent track-by-track guide for gold flake paint deconstructed the various iterations that many songs on sun milk went through, sometimes over the course of years, before arriving in their presently-recorded form.  this copious vat of detailed information (highly recommended if this album resonates with you) serves to further underscore the immediacy that little kid has operated under: recording in quick, concentrated bursts, ensnaring whatever feels natural at that moment.

as little kid approaches a decade of existence, patience seems to be an overarching theme worthy of ascribing to the project.  the acquisition of both paul vroom and brodie germain as stable members – after years of a rotating cast of characters – has yielded two monumental albums in a row; as the songs on those aforementioned albums grow longer, they unfold with care and determination, and loose, meandering passages are seamlessly tightened up when the moment is right; the inner mechanisms of those aforementioned songs are a wonder to unpack, with arduous three-person synth wranglings, carefully-placed tape hiss, and poignant found sounds threading a lived-in, nostalgic narrative.

little kid is methodical, a songwriting refuge equally capable of volatile bursts of energy and muted, minimal passages of restraint.  with sun milk, the trio has crafted its strongest effort yet, a sprawling structure anchored by its sonic forebears and accented with intimate glimpses of a profound lyricist’s tireless explorations.  step inside and stay awhile.

silver torches – “if i reach”

– featured image courtesy of chona kasinger –

when he’s not touring with perfume genius or david bazan, erik walters perches at the helm of silver torches, a seattle-based outfit that traverses through an indie-rock heartland.  after unfurling their debut album, heatherfield, last year, walters and company will return with a follow-up, let it be a dream, on october 6th.

if heatherfield could be characterized by its crystalline guitar-based architecture, then it’s conceivable that let it be a dream will tack on a facade of synthesizers to this foundation.  lead single “if i reach” threads a brassy synth line through its introduction and choruses, adding a degree of majesty to a lyrical body strewn with ruminations on divisiveness.  walters is melancholic in delivery, his cadences buoyed by acoustic strums that crest into soaring refrains.

if “if i reach” is any indication, let it be a dream will be an indispensable resource come early fall.  listen in below.

 

space mountain – “white light”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

space mountain is the artistic vessel for boston’s cole kinsler, one that has yielded a handful of introspective, folk-rock-oriented albums over the past few years.  kinsler will return with his latest, supermundane, out august 4th via the always-reliable forged artifacts.

an early sampling of supermundane suggests that the album will do anything but live up to its name; “white light” is a rambling, compelling introduction, one that fuses kinetic acoustic guitars and swirling organ leads with gusto before kinsler’s deep, distinctive warble consumes the track.  his baritone, replete with the slightest twang, is a compelling narrator, although the fuzzed-out melodic figures that percolate to the surface momentarily give the lyrics a run for their money.

“white light” is ripe for consumption at any time of day, as is riding this project’s namesake.  take a listen below.