mutual benefit – “the hereafter”

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photo courtesy of ebru yildiz

jordan lee’s work as mutual benefit has been nothing short of impeccably intimate thus far, and tastes of his forthcoming full-length suggest no such deviation from this path.  “the hereafter” closes out skip a sinking stone, out may 20th via mom+pop, replete with bucolic counterpoint that eventually coalesces into an ornately orchestrated outing.  staying constant amidst the evolving textures is lee’s vocal, ever-soothing as he tentatively stretches into his upper register and resounding as he ventures back down to deliver the song’s central thesis.  get lost in “the hereafter” below.

yumi zouma – “barricade (matter of fact)”

yumi zouma
photo courtesy of the artist

yumi zouma excels at crafting an instantly-recognizable brand of muted, refined pop music; that much is clear, and has been for some time.  what’s particularly admirable is the quartet’s ability to harness that dimension of their sound and funnel it effortlessly through different channels.  on “barricade (matter of fact),” the latest single culled from their forthcoming debut album, yumi zouma pairs a breezy, subdued vocal with equally at-ease instrumentation, favoring an exquisite exercise of restraint over the pursuit of an anthemic hook.  yoncalla is due out may 27th via cascine; take a listen to “barricade (matter of fact)” below.

daniel wilson – “wedding daze”

daniel wilson
photo courtesy of the artist

michigan singer-songwriter daniel wilson is sitting on sinner of the week, a new ep due out later this year.  the allure of wilson’s voice is inescapable; on his latest single, “wedding daze,” wilson explores the outer confines of his vocal range against a backdrop of brassy synths and authoritative percussion, turning in a joyous, much-needed slice of neo-soul as a result.  take a listen below.

phoria – “everything beta”

phoria band
photo courtesy of the artist

brighton-based quintet phoria have been stockpiling a collection of densely-textured, gorgeous electronica for nearly three years now.  that diligence will pay off in the form of volition, their debut album, out june 3rd via x novo records.  trewin howard’s vocals are as lush as ever on “everything beta,” equally at ease with the rich synth-bass figure that swirls in the bowels of the mix as they are with the gentle piano off-beats that sit closer to the top.  the air feels chilly, with wisps of fog trailing off of each percussive hit, but phoria retains a comforting familiarity, one of a long-lost treasure only recently reclaimed.  take a listen to “everything beta” below.

oyster kids – “lips”

oyster kids
photo courtesy of the artist

have crossover pop acts like foster the people and gotye already become nostalgic touchstones?  mysterious los angeles duo oyster kids put forth a convincing, favorable argument with their second single, “lips,” a brassy, mid-tempo anthem accompanied by a listless set of lyrics capable of embedding itself deep into psyches upon repeated listenings.  while less outwardly eerie than its predecessor, “creepy,” “lips” solidifies the duo’s penchant for a dichotomy rarely executed so well.  take a listen below.

gosh pith – “new balance”

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photo courtesy of the artist

detroit duo gosh pith will follow up their excellent 2015 debut ep, windows, with gold chain, out friday via b3sci records.  we heard the ep’s title track back in december and “k9” at the top of this month, and now gosh pith have let go of “new balance,” a swirling track featuring additional vocals by martez claybren that reads as their most abstract and dissonant effort to date.  take a listen to “new balance” below.

alexei shishkin – yucca street

yucca street album cover
out february 19th via forged artifacts

bedroom pop has long since reached critical mass.  although batches of home-recorded songs no longer automatically feel as reactionary as they did even just a couple of years ago, a handful of the genre’s purveyors consistently offer up invigorating bodies of work.  alexei shishkin is one such bastion; after laying down a foundation of listlessness and loneliness on the dog tape last year, shishkin returns with yucca street, an inimitable collection of songs that once again peers into the many facets of a transient lifestyle.

much of yucca street feels like the aural manifestation of things you might think about while staring bleakly out of a passenger train’s window.  shishkin wastes little time reaffirming his downtrodden demeanor; the opening bars of the album’s title track (“haven’t made a meaningful connection in years / everyone always disappears or is it me?”) emit in a mumbling, despondent baritone and firmly plateau across the subsequent ten tracks.

yet shishkin is never explicitly woe-is-me in his delivery.  he hesitates, routinely second-guesses decisions, and diligently assigns blame to the appropriate party, even if it’s himself.  it’s this diplomacy that helps yucca street transcend selfish, sad-sack trappings and navigate towards a realm of true introspection, embodying an almost-universal stream of consciousness that may be convenient to ignore but extremely beneficial to heed.

a handful of lighter moments do occasionally peer out through the gloomy haze that pervades yucca street.  shishkin accomplishes this most notably through timbral juxtapositions, with pristine keyboard melodies jumping out of the buzzsaw foundations on tracks like “confidence” and “town,” but there’s also a nonchalant affect that creeps through his lyrics, as if his woes are in transit and haven’t yet reached their final destination.

on “carpal,” a song that has no business being as inherently catchy as it is, shishkin states his central thesis: “that’s fine with me.”  those four words encompass every shoulder shrug, every acceptance of a less-than-favorable situation detailed on yucca street.  he’s still able to carve transcontinental locations into poignant reflections – and “stuck” exhibits a tentative shishkin at his most vulnerable – but yucca street largely resonates as a handbook for dealing with transitions, a series of quick, calming anecdotes to help keep a level head in times of constant reflection.

ness nite – “lilith”

ness nite derrick koch
photo courtesy of derrick koch

throw ness nite on your list of new artists to watch in 2016.  minneapolis-based producer and singer vanessa reliford turned in the syrupy slow-jam “yes” back in january, and today she returns with “lilith,” an intricately-woven single that again demonstrates her ability to deliver both a memorable hook and a series of whip-smart bars.  subterranean bass lines quake from behind two inch-thick walls to form the song’s foundation, but “lilith” truly thrives on the ensuing contrast of light piano interjections that punctuate reliford’s rather flippant, at times caustic, manner of trying to process the implications of a disappointing relationship.  take a listen below.

 

michl – “when you loved me least”

Michl
photo courtesy of the artist

the specifics of r&b upstart michl’s identity are still floating hazily around in the ether, but we do know this: the california native made a profound entrance last october with his debut “kill our way to heaven,” and his newest single is another massive step in the right direction.  on “when you loved me least,” michl resolutely pushes past the fragmented remains of a romance in search of self-empowerment in tandem with the ebbs and flows of a rich bass line pulsing underneath shimmering synth textures and a bevy of critical countermelodies.  take a listen below.

eskimeaux – “power”

eskimeaux richard gin
photo courtesy of richard gin

eskimeaux’s o.k. was one of our favorite albums of 2015, and it appears gabrielle smith has more gas in the tank.  a new mini-album, year of the rabbit, is due out april 15th via double double whammy; today smith let go of its lead single, “power,” an immediate, concise pop gem that bears the more organic production qualities of fellow epoch members emy sprague and felix walworth.  take a listen below.