crumb – “ghostride”

– featured image courtesy of salim garcia –

the brooklyn-based quartet crumb has been honing a vaguely psychedelic, undeniably infectious repertoire for the past few years, one with roots in lila ramani’s songwriting but that’s blossomed into an effortless collaborative venture. on june 14th, the band will self-release jinx, their first full-length that serves as a logical conclusion to a stellar pair of extended plays.

on “ghostride,” ramani’s stuttering, warped vinyl guitar motif dictates the mood, heralding a deep-pocketed two-minute groove populated by a wobbly synth line and an ethereal stream of consciousness. joining predecessors “nina” and “part III,” “ghostride” is another strong indication of the import of jinx, one that gently demands to be in heavy rotation. listen in below.

mr twin sister – salt

– featured image courtesy of karen sofia colon –

the new york quartet mr twin sister has, in a relatively quiet manner, released one of this year’s finest albums.  salt, the band’s first full-length in four years, is incredibly measured and rich, its nine tracks pulsating with a singular blend of jazz-inflected electronic pop, mood music for tumultuous times.

grounded in andrea estella’s fluid contralto timbre and featuring the titular marionette on its cover, salt is striking, both aurally and visually.  opening number “keep on mixing” is very much in the foreground, its commanding heartbeat throbbing as estella’s lead vocal contorts itself around a bleak lyrical outlook, elastic in its exploration of syllables and contour as it unearths fleeting silver linings.

elsewhere, mr twin sister let themes of consumerism soak into successive tracks; most prominent throughout the slinking “buy to return,” material lust is also on the periphery of the soothing electric piano soundscape of “koh-i-noor” and dovetails with admissions of insecurity on “tops and bottoms.”

if estella’s vocals are the album’s focal point, it’s only because the support structure settles so effortlessly into place.  gauzy keyboard textures and syncopated percussion (the latter often courtesy of pablo eluchans) are standard fare; the aqueous and complex landscapes that populate “deseo” and “set me free” are particularly memorable.  augmenting that electronic foundation is eric cardona’s saxophone work, the defining timbre of “alien fm” and the cool eventual conqueror of the stuttering, brassy “taste in movies.”

with ambitious and honest thematic explorations slotted alongside exquisite instrumentation and musicianship, the latest from mr twin sister is a rewarding experience, a fitting sonic nightcap for an exhausting year.  salt is out now via twin group.  stream mr twin sister’s excellent new full-length in its entirety below.

molly burch – “to the boys”

– featured image courtesy of kelly giarrocco –

the texas songwriter molly burch only released her stunning debut full-length, please be mine, last year, but its follow-up is already slated for arrival.  first flower picks up right where its predecessor left off, its eleven tracks packed with whip-smart lyrical observations set to jazz-inflected, country-infused guitar pop; for a primer, digest the album’s lead single, the lilting “wild.”

“to the boys,” the latest offering, is quintessential burch, the contours of her smoky contralto dovetailing in conversation with a contemplative, wandering guitar line, a gently syncopated rhythm section in tow.  brimming with a cool confidence, burch subverts the generally accepted stereotypical portrayals of power, quipping “i don’t need to scream to get my point across / i don’t need to yell to know that i’m the boss,” her unabashed assuredness reverberating throughout the track.

first flower is due october 5th via captured tracks.  listen to “to the boys” below.

most anticipated albums of fall 2016

– featured image courtesy of minimally minimal –

the 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, the weeknd and lorde).  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.

mick-jenkins-the-healing-componentmick jenkins – the healing component
september 23rd (free nation)

after years of building anticipation, mick jenkins will finally release his long-awaited debut album, the healing component, tomorrow.  if early looks like “spread love,” “drowning,” and “fall through” are indicatives of the album’s tenor, then the healing component should more than clear the high bar jenkins has imposed on himself.

jenny-hval-blood-bitchjenny hval – blood bitch
september 30th (sacred bones)

only a little more than a year has passed since jenny hval released her excellent apocalypse, girl, but the norwegian composer and songwriter has already completed a follow-up album, blood bitch.  hval’s new effort is billed as an about-face from its predecessor and has been bolstered by the strengths of lead single “female vampire” and “period piece,” a standout component of this year’s adult swim singles series.

unnamed-1moses sumney – lamentations
september 30th (self-released)

moses sumney’s live performances are a wonder to behold, and his recorded music is nearly emotive.  after thriving off of a handful of singles and his debut ep, mid-city island, sumney will self-release his latest extended play at the end of this month, but be on the lookout for his much-anticipated debut album sometime soon after.

takuya-kuroda-zigzaggertakuya kuroda – zigzagger
october 7th (concord records)

those not familiar with japanese bandleader and trumpeter takuya kuroda would do well to pick up his 2014 album, rising son, a perfect union of jazz, hip-hop, and r&b.  kuroda and his band continue to hone that aesthetic on zigzagger, his fifth studio album and first for concord records.  for a primer, start with the album’s lead-off single, “r.s.b.d.”

ricky eat acid talk to you soon.pngricky eat acid – talk to you soon
october 28th (terrible records)

sam ray will return to his ricky eat acid moniker at the end of next month to release the project’s first full-length in over two years.  2014’s three love songs is a timeless masterpiece, and ray’s divergence from its ambient magnetic pull on subsequent singles, mixtapes, and eps suggest that talk to you soon may be broader in scope and ambition, but almost certainly as uniquely emotive as its predecessor.

– other notable releases –

bon iver – 22, a million (september 30th)
danny brown – atrocity exhibition (september 30th)
s u r v i v e – rr7349 (september 30th)
ahem – just wanna be (october 7th)
jagwar ma – every now & then (october 14th)
american football – american football (october 21st)
the radio dept. – running out of love (october 21st)
forth wanderers – slop (november 11th)
the weeknd – starboy (november 25th)
childish gambino – pharos (tba)
chromatics – dear tommy (tba)
vancouver sleep clinic – tba (tba)

 

 

ibeyi – ibeyi

steeped in spirituality, themes of personal loss, and an intricate interplay between piano and afro-cuban hand drums, the self-titled debut from ibeyi should read as the definitive album from a pair of seasoned veterans.  that lisa-kaindé and naomi díaz are instead just twenty years old and only beginning to hone their craft is stunning, and speaks volumes about the body of work they’ve created with ibeyi.

the parisian-born díaz sisters have deep ties to the afro-cuban religion santería – their moniker means “twin” in the religion’s language of yoruba – and many ibeyi songs contain titular references to various santerían spirits, collectively referred to as orishas.  on “oya,” lisa-kaindé intones the spirit’s name in an almost chant-like fashion over a bed of droning, close-knit vocal harmonies bolstered by subterranean synthesizers.  naomi’s percussion eventually kicks in, and the sisters harmonize for the duration of the song in a mixture of english and yoruba.  “oya” almost seems to test the waters of the duo’s musical boundaries before coming to the conclusion that any restrictions are few and far between.

ibeyi is largely an amalgamation of old-school jazz and contemporary r&b, but it’s the personal spin put on each genre by the duo that makes the end result so invigorating.  the díaz sisters’ father was renowned cuban percussionist anga díaz, whose premature death was the primary catalyst for his daughters’ foray into music.  naomi’s almost-exclusive use of the cajón and the batá as rhythmic forces are a nod to him, and “think of you” is a stuttering, eerie elegy for their father, its title delivered repeatedly in meaningful harmony.  lisa-kaindé’s smoky alto and plaintive piano playing are indicative of the french jazz clubs of yesteryear, and serve as a foil to her sister’s emphatic drumming, particularly when she’s fully exposed on tracks like “behind the curtain” or effortlessly interlocking with naomi on “ghosts.”

this embracement of personal and cultural history bleeds seamlessly into a fascination with contemporary musical elements.  equally commonplace throughout ibeyi is a bevy of synthesizers and samples, largely provided by producer richard russell.  on “river,” an early standout in the duo’s catalogue, piano and cajón are downplayed in favor of muted drum programming and a choir of vocal loops while “stranger / lover” inserts a slithering bass line and de-tuned synths into the typical sonic palate.  these enhancements are often subtle, never dramatically shifting ibeyi’s sound, yet they add an incredible amount of depth and maturity to the young duo’s music.

nestled towards the back end of ibeyi is “yanira,” a second familial elegy for their older sister of the same name.  it’s indicative of every characteristic found in the duo’s sound, from lyrical themes of spirituality and personal loss to the interplay of piano and cajón, yet the song seems to transcend the notion of merely being the sum of all of ibeyi’s parts.  the triplet-based motif winds up like a music box, perhaps evoking childhood nostalgia as lisa-kaindé sings “all my dreams lead to you, queen of my thoughts” with a heartbreaking tone of emotional vulnerability, but the song’s simple chorus toes the line between lament and celebration of life.  at the very least, “yanira” is a collective demonstration of deeply profound songwriting, and that the díaz sisters chose to bury their best and most meaningful piece of work so deep into their album speaks volumes of their self-awareness as musicians.  ibeyi is certainly best-experienced in full; artistry this nuanced cannot be confined to a lead single.

8.5/10

dimestore saints premiere: ’58 belvedere – “i don’t know”

'58 belvedereeau claire is an absolute hotbed for live music; if you need any convincing, just consult an events calendar.  aside from touring bands and established local acts that frequent bars and basements, the scene regularly plays host to exciting one-off collaborations that rarely venture into a recording studio.  one such exception is ’58 belvedere, an experimental jazz trio featuring three familiar faces: pat kuehn, who lends his upright bass skills to rivers, dave power, the mustachioed drummer for adelyn rose who moonlights under the electronic moniker of white dune, and dean granros, an enigmatic mainstay of eau claire’s live jazz circuit.  the outfit is gearing up to release their debut, rustic libertines, in early january, and we’re excited to share its lead single.  “i don’t know” is a seven-minute propulsion of the endless ideas that spew forth from granros’ guitar fretboard, which are accompanied by an insistent bass ostinato and crisp drumming.  the trio’s interplay on the song’s back half is particularly engaging and serves as a warm introduction for what the rest of rustic libertines will inevitably bring.  dig in below.

the antlers – familiars

when the antlers released burst apart three years ago, it was clear that the album constituted a make-it-or-break it scenario for the band; their 2009 album hospice, the brooklyn trio’s debut effort as a collaborative project, received immediate, almost unanimous universal acclaim and catapulted the antlers into the indie spotlight.  luckily, burst apart was a suitable follow-up and a substantial success in its own right, but frontman peter silberman still finds himself confronted with inquiries about hospice, more than five years after the album’s release.  although there are those who still can’t let go of the past, silberman certainly isn’t one of them.  the antlers’ newest effort, familiars, is a lush musical experience that all but abandons the outfit’s signature heartbreak.

while silberman is the face and the voice of the antlers (after all, it was his initial solo project and his emotive metaphor that began to turn heads), familiars is an environment that finds all three members contributing equally.  a large portion of musical direction seems to come from darby cicci, the multi-instrumentalist responsible for much of the texture on the album.  previously confined to a primary role of keyboardist and an explicit secondary exploration of trumpet, cicci has full reign on familiars; many songs have a foundation of acoustic piano, layered trumpet, and michael lerner’s drums, further augmented by extremely prominent bass lines (also courtesy of cicci) that slither throughout the chord progressions and give the antlers’ sonic palate a more organic low end.

instead of silberman’s guitar largely defining the album like it did on hospice and, to a lesser extent, on burst apart, the instrument has the chordal support of the piano and the occasional melodic support of the trumpet, making the moments where it truly separates from the texture that much more meaningful.  take “director,” the album’s centerpiece, for example: although the ostinato guitar riff is arguably a staple of the song, the instrument doesn’t really begin to take control until the descending riff and subsequent counter-melody kick in halfway through.  underneath is that warm palate, full of drums and resonant bass that, although devoid of the trumpet in this particular instance, help the antlers firmly place a foot in the realm of jazz that has so long been an influence.

though a musical liberation of sorts for the antlers is present, silberman’s lyrical and vocal progressions are less discernible, relying even more so on subtle nuances.  his falsetto lamentations are still there, but silberman showcases a desire to return to his natural range, even dipping into lower, haunting extremes on “doppelganger.”  lyrically, he’s more of a wildcard; “hotel” is extremely sparse yet somewhat confessional, as silberman admits “i rent a blank room to stop living in my past self,” while “parade” traces a more narrative style and lacks any type of hook.  one constant that remains throughout is a sense of ambiguity, as silberman seems to strive less to attach an explicit meaning to each song and instead explore more inclusive, multi-dimensional emotions.

familiars is nearly an hour of slow-burning which may inevitably put listeners into two broad camps: those that dismiss the album due to a perceived sense of stagnancy and those that appreciate it for its nuances and painstaking attention to detail.  the latter of these two camps is the best lens through which to view this album.  the antlers continue to expound and expand an incredibly complex and dense aesthetic, and provide another body of work that demands to be addressed before the reminiscing can begin.

8.9/10