scallops hotel – sovereign nose of (y)our arrogant face

– featured image courtesy of kristina pederson –

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.  first up this year: scallops hotel.

The annals of rory ferreira can be found scattered throughout both this website and the greater ether.  since 2011, ferreira has charted a course under the moniker milo that seems nearly unparalleled in quality of creative output and do-it-yourself success; for almost as long, ferreira has also released more intimate, improvised, and largely self-produced efforts as scallops hotel.

sovereign nose of (y)our arrogant face, released in the hours preceding the new year, rests in the latter camp.  the mixtape’s eleven tracks are brief but potent snippets of consciousness, laid down in brooklyn over the course of an early autumn weekend.  like previous scallops hotel ventures, the instrumentals across sovereign nose are supplied by ferreira himself, save for co-production by host steel tipped dove on “sedan,” and dwell largely on the symbiotic relationship between sustained, contemplative piano chords and the wisps of silence following their release.

that aural theme is speckled with flittering motifs and concrete boom-bap pulses, a versatile canvas that allows ferreira to easily run a gamut of emotions in verse.  ferocity wanes to reflexiveness on opening number “a terror way beyond falling” before waxing back to full strength, while playful turns of phrase dot the brief spell that is “leisure.”  the mixtape’s lone guest spot displays perhaps the most blatant juxtaposition of vocal and instrumental timbres, as youngman delivers an abrasive, searing whirlwind of a verse over tinkling keys on “private temple hours.”

sovereign nose scallops hotel

lest its brevity suggest that consumption should be quick, sovereign nose comes packed with ferreira’s wealth of pop culture nods and his affinity for vocabulary; a studious listener would do well to sit down with any required reference materials and parse out as much of the mixtape as possible.  amidst the aforementioned and his pledged allegiance to ruby yacht lie straightforward truths like “i find myself in the same place / aimlessly wandering systemic violence with amazing grace,” the opening couplet on “the method (jawgems pausing in the hotel lobby)” and the mixtape’s title as mantra, coming to a head as the beautifully-mumbled cadence in “rank, title, pressures.”

sovereign nose of (y)our arrogant face is billed as the second in a trilogy of mixtapes, following last summer’s over the carnage rose a voice prophetic.  while the latter is peppered with vocals manipulated by effects processors, the former is comparatively clean, and, consequently, a bit less sonically disorienting.  listened to in succession, sovereign nose plays an even more explicit foil to over the carnage, making the aural structure of the trilogy’s impending final installment that much more intriguing.

at this point, every release involving rory ferreira is appointment listening.  sovereign nose of (y)our arrogant face, out now via ferreira’s ruby yacht label, is admirable work and sets the bar high early in 2018.  stream the mixtape in full below.

listen to a new song from milo

milo:scallops hotel
photo courtesy of giovanni solis

between the title of his forthcoming album and the stark nature of its artwork, it’s apparent that rory ferreira is hyper-aware of mortality in present-day america.  but on “zen scientist,” the first single culled from so the flies don’t come, he seems confident and pragmatic in dealing with the situation.  recording again as milo, ferreira raps plainly that “the soul is fly / i’m in my new zone / i have decided my point of view” with help from myka 9 over kenny segal’s downtrodden production; there are no frills, non-sequiturs are trimmed to a minimum, and milo’s analogies refer less to his pop-culture prowess and instead hone in on key figures he views as progenitors to his current mentality.  so the flies don’t come arrives september 25th via ruby yacht.  let your soul fly.

scallops hotel – plain speaking

out may 5th via ruby yacht/the order label
out may 5th via ruby yacht/the order label

editor’s note: every review of an album or ep has come standard with a numerical ranking assigned at the end of the article since the inception of dimestore saints.  for awhile, this seemed to be a necessity, a way to keep up with other blogs and to perhaps speak a sort of shorthand code to those wishing to find the most thought-provoking new albums in the shortest amount of time.  as this site has progressed i’ve become increasingly conflicted about assigning art an arbitrary value, which is why i’m stopping, effective immediately.  from this moment forward, one can assume that any album or ep explored in length on dimestore saints carries some amount of merit and helps to shape the ever-changing musical landscape around us.  one can also assume that any album or ep assigned the “best new music” category is not inherently superior to all other music released that week, but rather has a profound impact on the author and/or directly relates to noted cultural shifts and movements within the music community, both of which are key components when curating year-end content.  phew.  long-winded formalities aside, here’s our take on the new scallops hotel full-length.

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rory ferreira has charted an expansive course under the guise of milo, a persona culled from humble beginnings in the wisconsin rap collective nom de rap and sculpted meticulously over the past four years.  as milo gained a solid amount of traction in 2013 with a pair of eps and the stellar cavalcade mixtape, ferreira trotted out a side project called scallops hotel, one that found him mostly in charge of production and experimenting with songs devoid of conventional form.  after quietly releasing poplar grove (or how to rap with a hammer) late that year, ferreira returns – more vociferously this time – as scallops hotel once again to deliver plain speaking, a riveting back-to-basics exercise.

plain speaking is the most straightforward lyrical body of work ferreira has offered thus far in his career.  his rhyme schemes, previously dictated by sequences of quick-witted non-sequiturs and compounding philosophical references, are now extremely fluid; standout cuts like “bookoo bread co” seem to come from ferreira’s heart as much as from his mind, and the name-checks that do still necessitate a google search fit comfortably within his narrative.  many tracks also allow the audience to bear witness to ferreira’s rebirth of self.  the downtrodden “roc marciano riff suite 1” distills his growing aversion to the aforementioned fact-checking into a tidy succession of bars before arriving at a thesis that feels central to the entire album: “don’t have to be flying / just existing.”  the notion of relishing the present moment is in line with the overall fluidity of ferreira’s delivery, and adds an extra dimension to the organic nature that already permeates plain speaking.

the musical side of the album is a bit more nuanced and showcases a personal progression rather than a strict reinvention for ferreira.  “lavender chunk” was the first piece of plain speaking teased to the general public, and for good reason; its no-frills production further underscores the project’s direct nature.  the track also functions well as a cursory overview of ferreira’s work for the casual or first-time listener, and its accessibility paired with a reasonably high-profile guest verse from hemlock ernst yields a rare product from ferreira that feels almost radio-ready.

in the context of the rest of plain speaking, however, “lavender chunk” is an anomaly.  most tracks are a bit murkier and some like “tense present” tend to shoot off suddenly into new musical thoughts, as if the non-sequiturs that previously frequented ferreira’s lyrics now manifest in his production.  stabbed piano chords dictate opening number “gnosis, black nationalism, rice”; there is an interlude where a beat pulses tentatively underneath the recitation a henry dumas poem; the penultimate cut “birther” rests comfortably as the album’s lone instrumental track.  the fluidity and renewed earnestness of ferreira’s lyrics binds together plain speaking, and its most crucial result is this unabashed – albeit exhaustive – exploration of timbres and constructs.

when scallops hotel first emerged as a side project in 2013, it felt like a devotion to the self; in 2015 it feels more like a reclamation of the self.  as milo has become increasingly subjected to public expectation, scallops hotel has served to counter any semblance of limitation.  on plain speaking, ferreira has free reign and wisely chooses to surround himself with close, integral contributors.  long-time collaborator safari al is granted one of just three guest verses on the album, and ferreira again enlisted the mixing talents of riley lake and the mastering craftwork of daddy kev.  a few tracks were outsourced to other producers, a mild concession that keeps plain speaking from becoming too self-indulgent and serves as an indicator that ferreira still benefits from outside help.  a perennial struggle for solo artists seems to be finding a proper balance between independence and collaboration; on plain speaking, rory ferreira is in full bloom.

listen to a new song from scallops hotel

milo:scallops hotel
photo courtesy of giovanni solis

rory ferreira has made considerable headway as milo, a multi-faceted, philosophical art-rap persona responsible for 2013’s cavalcade and last fall’s a toothpaste suburb.  ferreira has mostly outsourced production duties to artists like iglooghost and riley lake for each milo release, but in his other project, scallops hotel, ferreira is in complete control of all aspects.  a new scallops hotel album called plain speaking is due out may 5th via ferreira’s own ruby yacht label, and we got our first taste of his new material earlier this week.

“lavender chunk” exists simply, a few different synthesizer melodies layered on top of an incessant drum loop. hemlock ernst – the alter ego of future islands frontman samuel herring – handles the first verse before ferreira hops on to finish things off.  the song’s hook arrives late, and the seemingly endless repetition of “brothers like me don’t live too long / that’s why i have to write so many rap songs” only becomes more chilling with each utterance.  take a listen to “lavender chunk” below.

mixtape sunday – best of 2014

 

on friday we published a list of our ten favorite songs of 2014.  naturally, we’ve compiled those tracks into a concise mixtape for your listening pleasure, which can be experienced above.  our picks run in reverse order and feature offerings from alvvays, caribou, ricky eat acid, fka twigs, and more.  check back tomorrow for continued coverage of our year-end best-of lists.

best of 2014: songs

welcome to day three of our year-end best-of week, an especially interesting day in which we attempt to choose, dissect, and justify our favorite songs of 2014.  obvious pop heavyweights like sia’s “chandelier” and taylor swift’s “shake it off” were removed from consideration in order to recognize some lesser-known artists, the ultimate ethos of dimestore saints.  we’re pretty satisfied with the following ten tracks, but we’d love to hear arguments for any we may have neglected in the comments section below.

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pillar point album cover10. pillar point – “cherry”

scott reitherman’s first solo venture as pillar point touched on nostalgia in all the right ways, with sleepy pop music powered by vintage roland synths and drum machines that still retained an acute sense of originality and inventiveness.  all nine songs on pillar point are earworms in their own right, but the album’s third track, “cherry,” particularly stuck with us throughout the year.  a punchy, fluid bass line pulsates underneath a stuttering vocal sample before finally giving way to the song’s verse, which finds reitherman’s understated approach to lyricism thrust into the spotlight.  an influx of rich, gorgeous textures often distracts from pillar point’s lyrical content, but the hesitant, poignant examination of a blossoming relationship found in “cherry” just can’t be ignored.

jamie xx sleep sound9. jamie xx – “sleep sound”

the xx have been taking their sweet time writing and recording the follow-up to 2012’s coexist, but apparently jamie xx is very skilled at multi-tasking.  the brooding sound architect has yet to release a solo full-length of his own, but the three tracks he did offer up this year were nothing short of monumental.  while “all under one roof raving” drew the most attention, jamie xx’s absolute best work came in the form of “sleep sound,” an aptly-titled nocturnal journey with a punishing subterranean bass line countered by very patient drum programming, which waits nearly four minutes before guiding in the song’s crucial segue to its b-theme material.  if “sleep sound” is any indication, both the xx and its most prolific member are slated to have a very rewarding and important 2015.

8. alvvays – “adult diversion”

molly rankin’s apathetic drawl is one of the most endearing traits of fast-rising toronto upstarts alvvays, but it’s not the band’s most important.  the quintet’s wonderful self-titled debut largely hinges on the stellar guitar interplay between rankin and alec o’hanley, and “adult diversion” sets the tone.  it takes multiple close listens to discern where the song’s main riff splits off into separate countermelodies, and rankin & co. move on to new ideas and arpeggiations before true appreciation can set in.  and then the final component of the alvvays trifecta settles in: rankin’s blunt, polarizing lyrics.  “adult diversion” clearly outlines unrequited love – at best a crush, at worst a full-blown case of stalking – but its delivery is tongue-in-cheek, its trajectory unpredictable, its content slightly morose.  after all, not many college-radio bands can get away with singing about dead girls in closets, even if it’s only a passing reference.

cloud nothings album cover7. cloud nothings – “just see fear”

dylan baldi is dangerously close to becoming an infallible voice in the modern alternative rock climate.  whether or not that voice is discernible is another question entirely.  baldi’s fourth round at the helm of cloud nothings yields an intense but concise result, and “just see fear” is a perfect snapshot of the visceral nature of here and nowhere else.  seemingly over before it even starts, the song finds baldi singing confidently, almost gently at times, though the accompanying onslaught of buzz-saw guitar and drums immediately offsets any potential vulnerability.  the fact that cloud nothings has slimmed down to a power trio doesn’t seem to phase baldi, either; he points to the absence of a second guitarist with the unabashedly thin melody in the first half of the chorus before reminding listeners that a wall of distortion is truly the only indispensable member of cloud nothings.  oh, and his screams never fail to send shivers down spines.

shyne coldchain ii cover

6. vince staples – “nate”

vince staples has come a long way from his earliest role as earl sweatshirt’s especially vulgar side-kick, far enough to coax def jam into releasing his excellent debut ep hell can wait earlier this fall.  despite its warm reception, staples’ pivotal fourth mixtape, shyne coldchain ii, was arguably his most critical effort of 2014.  staples paints blunt, vivid images of less-than-ideal experiences throughout the mixtape’s ten tracks, and it peaks with “nate.”  visceral accounts of an abusive, drug-dealing father resound in his lyrics, but an inner conflict arises inside staples; though he concedes that “all i wanted was a hundred grand,” staples aptly recognizes the consequences of his father’s lifestyle.  the bridge on “nate” is crucial, as james fauntleroy essentially functions as an objective third party, summing up the cyclical hopelessness staples witnesses and examines in his music.

caribou our love cover5. caribou – “our love”

dan snaith spoke of the profound impact stevie wonder had on the creation of our love, his latest effort as caribou.  though their work couldn’t be more different from an aesthetic standpoint, snaith did manage to capture the sheer grandeur that wonder routinely brought to pop music.  our love is an unabashed pop record, and its title track is the surging centerpiece.  hell, the back half of the song is better than 95% of music released this year, but the importance of the front half’s static build elevates “our love” into the ninety-ninth percentile.  the bass line that snaith twists and warps into the song’s prevailing theme is just a measly four notes, but it’s his treatment and intense delivery that make it stick to whatever crosses its path.  ever the master of tension, snaith refuses to resolve the theme at the song’s close and leaves the fourth and final note hanging in the balance, forever tonicizing the figure in everyone’s heads.

lana del rey west coast cover4. lana del rey – “west coast”

lana del rey played us all.  an artist once dismissed as vapid and of middling talent was, conversely, lauded this year, thanks in part to her excellent sophomore effort ultraviolence.  but focus also shifted towards the understanding that lana del rey is a character, interested in exposing gender-based double-standards by fully indulging in them, forever daring us to critique her, to tear her to shreds.  most took the bait.  ultraviolence largely found del rey moving away from the technicolor hip-hop that dotted born to die, instead favoring a more nostalgic monochrome aided by dan auerbach’s production.  amidst ballads and grandiose ambitions lies “west coast,” an understated yet compelling song that is by and far del rey’s best piece of work to date.  she pushes ahead in earnest during the verses, but a little palilalia and a descending guitar lick is all it takes for her to lay back into a gorgeous half-time chorus, laden with reverb that figuratively recalls the hazy, beach-centric imagery conveyed on the single’s cover.

three love songs cover3. ricky eat acid – “god puts us all in the swimming pool”

the entirety of ricky eat acid’s arresting three love songs is emotive, but “god puts us all in the swimming pool” is especially heart-wrenching.  the song is a polarizing contrast to its predecessor, the drake-sampling, house-indebted “in my dreams we’re almost touching,” with its static motion pumping the brakes on any semblance of momentum the album had managed generate up to that point.  this poignancy is crucial, as it allows ricky eat acid’s mastermind sam ray to a moment to breathe before ushering in the erratic final quarter of three love songs.  all functions aside, the manipulation of the vocal loop on “god puts us all in the swimming pool” is one of the most beautiful musical moments of the year.

fka twigs lp1 cover2. fka twigs – “pendulum”

in theory, about half of the ten tracks on fka twigs’ stunning debut lp1 could occupy this slot; only one song really stood in the way of her total conquest of this segment.  tahliah barnett’s artistic persona transcends both her initial career as a backup dancer and the current temptation to lump her in with other singer-songwriters.  her output is largely autonomous, sure, but what sets her apart from those who might be considered her peers is her unabashed dedication to center her music around female sexuality.  and as a wonderful article on no fear of pop pointed out earlier this year, that focus on sex and sexuality is so large that it can’t be confined to twigs’ lyrics; it has to consume the rhythm and tonality of her music and the visual aesthetic and tone of her videos.  “pendulum” winds up in this slot because it directly embodies so much of that mentality.  the even-keeled, predictable beat that pans from one speaker to the other is as repetitive and reliable as a pendulum, while the song’s opening lyric clearly establishes sex as the lyrical catalyst.  but there’s a searing presence of cynicism as twigs ultimately is using “pendulum” as a platform to call a vapid, unresponsive lover on his shit.

a toothpaste suburb cover1. milo – “objectifying rabbits” (ft. open mike eagle)

milo’s career over the past two years has been fairly well-documented here at dimestore saints.  from his pair of eps to his cavalcade mixtape to his side-project scallops hotel, we haven’t missed much.  while milo’s first proper album, a toothpaste suburb, delivered some incredibly satisfying moments, it ultimately felt drawn-out and a bit uneven, perhaps because we’re used to consuming his thoughts in more concise doses.  that being said, the highlights of a toothpaste suburb are some of the finest works found in milo’s catalogue.  “objectifying rabbits” arrives just past the half-way mark of the record, and is the second part of a sequential triptych milo previewed before the album’s release date.  following the positively tender “you are go(o)d to me,” “objectifying rabbits” immediately reintroduces momentum into a toothpaste suburb with swelling synth progressions, setting up milo to deliver the finest opening line of 2014: “echolalia / lisztomania / i played my ukulele on the way to la grange, bruh.”  the non-sequiturs are there, but the lyrics are best-examined as an introduction to the song’s subject matter, which seems to find milo advocating for an appreciation of art and a positive outlook on life above all else.  milo dissents against hedonists and plato in his never-ending quest to convey his philosophical views, and open mike eagle’s closing verse compounds these thoughts in falsetto.  milo is a young artist with very complex thoughts, thoughts undoubtedly watered down to fit within the lyrical confines of a song.  although intensely personal songs radiate across a toothpaste suburb, “objectifying rabbits” is milo’s best effort in proclaiming his philosophical ethos.

 

listen to a new song from milo

with a handful of acclaimed mixtapes and a pair of similarly lauded eps under his belt, milo’s debut full-length album is sure to be nothing short of a spectacle.  the rapper will release a toothpaste suburb on tuesday via hellfyre club, but he’s generously shared a new track to tide over his audience until the album’s arrival.  “objectifying rabbits” is the missing piece in a triptych of songs, bookended by earlier singles “you are go(o)d to me” and “argyle sox,” and finds milo rapping figuratively about bench-pressing hedonists and london’s trafalgar square before his compatriot open mike eagle guides the song away with a sweet falsetto.  the track premiered yesterday on bandcamp’s weekly radio show and now you can stream it, courtesy of hellfyre club’s soundcloud page, below.

listen to a new song from milo

it’s hard to believe that milo is only now getting around to releasing his debut full-length album.  the wisconsin rapper, who is currently carving out a niche for himself in los angeles, was heavily featured on dimestore saints throughout 2013, but this year has been relatively quiet in comparison.  that’s ok.  milo has been crafting a toothpaste suburb, a sixteen-track volume of work due out september 23rd via hellfyre club.  to read the young rapsmith talk about his new album on social media, it seems like it will fall in line with milo’s first mixtape, i wish my brother rob was here (at least, according to his dad); perhaps milo is not continuing down the path beaten by cavalcade but rather is returning to his roots to explore new tangential possibilities.  regardless of trajectory, a toothpaste suburb has the potential to be a decisive piece in milo’s musical puzzle.

the album’s lead single, “you are go(o)d to me,” premiered yesterday; it’s an understated slow jam, full of sparse ethereal synths and thin traces of percussion, and the song’s hook appropriately finds milo singing about witty melancholy men.  but “you are go(o)d to me” is ultimately a love song of sorts.  occasional non-sequiturs take the back seat to milo’s desires to be objectified and unorthodox romantic gestures like “i would make you breakfast with raspberries / and pick out all the seeds using nothing but my little fingers.”

you can head over to hellfyre club’s store to pre-order a toothpaste suburb, but first take a listen to “you are go(o)d to me,” embedded below.

 

listen to hellfyre club’s remix of future’s “honest”

with esteemed producer riley lake at the controls, the four mainstays of hellfyre club have taken their turn spitting verses over “honest,” a track originally by future.  milo, open mike eagle, nocando, and busdriver continue to fire on all cylinders, arguing the case that their upcoming tour is something not to be missed.  check out the track below, courtesy of hellfyre club’s soundcloud page.

best of 2013: albums

good things come to those that wait, right?  does this phrase even really apply to this situation?  probably not.  it may be a bit delayed, but my albums of the year list is finally done.  i’ve written long-form essays on my favorite fifteen records of 2013 over at playground misnomer; you should definitely head over there and check it out, along with lists from the other contributors to that site.  if you don’t feel like reading, below are some quick and simple pictures of my top five albums of 2013.  enjoy.

5. milo – cavalcade

chvrches4. chvrches – the bones of what you believe

daughter if you leave3. daughter – if you leave

2. caroline smith – half about being a woman

majical cloudz impersonator.jpg1. majical cloudz – impersonator