after an impressive inaugural solo outing with last fall’s far off distant plans, con davison has wasted little time delivering a follow-up. “sofa bed” finds the st. paul musician, perhaps most recognizable for his work behind the drum kit in bad bad hats, further solidifying his songwriting chops; davison excels at effortless vocal melodies, focusing here on one that ascends towards the stratosphere, momentarily tumbling before hitting a gentle falsetto range.
paired with a subtly syncopated foundation and a fuzzy, angular riff, “sofa bed” appropriately feels like con davison in his most fully-realized state yet, one that will inevitably shift as he refines his craft. while we look forward to the prospect of more music from davison this year, “sofa bed” sates a collective appetite for the time being. dive in below.
the st. paul songwriter con davison has parlayed two excellent singles – “somebody else” and “subtle kick” – into an affinity felt by those who keep their ears close to the ground. with the recent release of his third single, davison’s burgeoning solo career is coming into focus; a debut extended play, far off distant plans, is due this fall.
that aforementioned single, “talk,” finds davison comfortable in a mid-tempo setting, enveloped in saturated guitars. a deftly-guided push-and-pull defines the track, with davison steering the narrative through its more breezy passages and pausing for non-linear ruminations in its more cavernous enclaves. a nonchalant, adroit commentary on the inexplicable nature of everyday encounters and feelings, “talk” is davison’s most fully-realized effort to date. check it out below.
after making a lasting first impression with his groove-laden, piano-driven debut single “somebody else,” the st. paul singer-songwriter con davison convincingly switches gears on his follow-up. “subtle kick” is comparatively breezy, shedding the sonic gravity of its predecessor but keeping the lyrical weight as davison turns in two deceptively simple verses and a chorus about the trappings of material want.
the linchpin of “subtle kick” is its instrumental bridge, a percolating break that presages the track’s soaring final act and solidifies its status as a tender, infectious ode to betterment that may well be one of the best songs of the summer. take a listen below.
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.
welcome back to the dimestore. it’s been a minute. though this site is indeed back up and running, it will be doing so in a decidedly more limited capacity. thank you to all who have returned for this reboot, wherever it may lead; for those who are newcomers, please feel free to peer into our archives should you decide to stick around.
“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: dreamspook
Gabriel jorgensen’s soothing, measured vocals are often at odds with a spectrum of mood spanning from ennui to empathy, from intense introspection to intermittent self-deprecation. on king in the folly keep, the minneapolis-based songwriter’s debut full-length under his dreamspook moniker, these myriad moods are just beyond the foreground of each composition, and are more than just isolated, plotted points on a linear graph; they work hand in glove to craft an overarching narrative with comparable depth to the arrangements formed around it.
containing nine songs that collectively clock in at just over a half-hour, king in the folly keep feels decidedly compact, and refreshingly so. lyrics that so explicitly read like a manual to the songwriter’s innermost mechanics have a tendency to skew theatrical, even comically overwrought, but jorgensen seems keenly aware of this trope. most songs pair brief streams of consciousness with a mantra-esque hook, eschewing more formulaic lyrical structures and bombast while introducing an idea and succinctly following it to some sort of conclusion.
take “island castle,” the album’s seasick, pulsating opening number, as a case study of this approach. jorgensen details the construction of an impenetrable fortress of secrecy in a quick succession of verses before honing in on a thesis: “no man’s an island, but no man’s what i am.” an old adage is obliterated by the simple refutation that follows, a destruction compounded by repetition as the music underneath crescendos towards its finale. even tracks like “badlands,” which pulls comparatively towards the abstract in terms of imagery, have momentary returns to reality that are completely grounding; “you’re just a fool who thinks too much” is sure to lurk in the subterranean depths of a universal subconscious.
while most of king in the folly keep adheres to a compact structure, on occasion, jorgensen permits dreamspook to flesh out, to deviate from three-minute explorations of self. “don’t die” doubles in length and halves its lyrical content, swimming in synth motifs and guitar arpeggios that abruptly dissipate, leaving jorgensen alone to deliver a sparse vocal enveloped by a murky bass swell. despite its eventual morbidity, the first half of “don’t die” feels somewhat refreshing, soothing; this one-time allowance for meandering provides previous concepts the space to breathe, a respite before reaching the album’s most vulnerable state.
in spite of a coalescing bleakness enhanced by beautifully tragic imagery, king in the folly keep manages to become a self-aware body of work by its penultimate track, breaking whatever fourth-wall equivalent may exist in the album format. lest his listeners become too put out from the weight of his lyrics, jorgensen squares this tendency towards the morose with “ignorance,” a confessional dotted with concessions and pledges. impermanence can be heavy, but it can easily be interrupted by moments of beauty and eclipsed by feelings of insignificance.
it should also be noted that king in the folly keep is a thirty-three minute groove machine. amidst imploring an unnamed party for unrequited love and offering a brief analysis of an unfamiliar romance, jorgensen and the rest of his cohort – george hadfield on bass and conor davison on drums – lock into a near-impenetrable state of metronomic precision. each piece of every arrangement feels sculpted – if that verb can, for a moment, represent the utmost amount of attention painstakingly paid to every sonic detail: guitar leads alternately chime and warble; synth melodies bubble and percolate, and occasionally spill over into an agitated frenzy; bass lines routinely sound capable of swallowing subwoofers.
with every aforementioned cog, along with the contours of jorgensen’s vocal melodies, already heavily informed by rhythmic interplay, the drum parts are an analog to the icing on the album cover’s cake. deft and tasteful, while confidently staking claim in unused subdivisions, davison’s percussion work makes its presence – and absence – arguably felt more so than heard.
while basking in the seconds of silence that linger after the final drops of water hit on “ogema,” one may feel like one has stumbled across and read parts of a diary mistakenly donated to a second-hand book store; king in the folly keep is an intensely personal – and, consequently, vulnerable – piece of work, somehow delivered with the utmost conceptual and aural clarity. wade in.
the best kinds of power-pop songs are packed full of indelible counterpoint. on “i need you,” the lead-off single from private interest’s forthcoming debut ep, only for a moment, the minneapolis quartet pits a robust, busy bass line against chiming guitar chords, and then weaves a winding countermelody through that already-solid infrastructure. throw an impassioned lead vocal and a scorching guitar solo on top and you’re left with one of the more impressive sub-two-minute singles to surface in recent memory.
only for a moment is out october 21st via the ever-important forged artifacts. take a listen to “i need you” below.
ness nite’s output in 2016 has been sparse but powerful; three singles form a composite sketch of the sensual, nocturnal atmosphere vanessa reliford has fastidiously cultivated from scratch, each pairing downtempo production with a chameleonic vocal delivery system capable of transitioning from melismatic hooks to rapid-fire bars at a moment’s notice. throw in this impeccable live rendition of an unreleased track, “sigh,” and it becomes even more apparent that ness nite is poised to ascend the steps of a higher platform.
while we’re still a couple of months out from a full-length ness nite project, today does mark the arrival of the music video for her standout cut, “yes,” which features a guest vocal from nick jordan and extra production from collaborator mike frey. reliford flows through grassy fields with a supporting coreographed cast in tow in the conner evert-directed clip, though the scene’s unassuming consonance is slowly consumed by a nighttime ceremonial bonfire of sorts. after only aurally experiencing ness nite for months, this video for “yes” is the perfect visual accompaniment. watch below.
baby blanket’s output thus far has been sparse – a guest vocal on sayth’s body pillow ep last year, followed by his solo debut – but each wisp on an aesthetic seems to have built to his latest single, “i tried so hard to sleep the sad away.” a subtle about-face, “sleep the sad away” again finds the minneapolis songwriter teaming with fellow lowkey radical member north house to flesh out a minimal, melancholic foundation, although glitchy percussion and elastic synths factor in more heavily this time around. beneath the surface lies a tender account of finding refuge from paralyzing social anxiety; take a listen to “i tried so hard to sleep the sad away” below.
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.
katy morley removes the e from her surname and performs as morly, and this subtractive practice embeds itself in her music. after disappearing into her bedroom with a handful of instruments in 2013, the minnesota songwriter emerged earlier this year with in defense of my muse, an incredibly-focused debut ep containing a smattering of haunting, minimalist compositions.
the intimacy of in defense of my muse should feel immediate. morly is adept at crafting microcosmic worlds of sound that each have their own storied histories, from the juxtaposition of muted acoustic piano and warped vocal loops on “you came to dis sky” to the piano’s gorgeous union with foggy synth pads on ‘and sooner than we know it…”, but it would be short-sighted to attribute morly’s impressionable aesthetic solely to the warmth and familiarity that permeate her music’s outer shell.
woven into the unquestionable beauty are extended passages of agitation – particularly the discordant synthesizer interjections throughout “seraphase” – that delve into a second, comparatively unexplored dimension of morly’s persona. there’s a side of her music that swaddles you gently in a blanket next to a wood-burning stove, while the other embodies the flames in the fire, capable of lashing out at unpredictable intervals.
each song on in defense of my muse can be peeled back to its original, minimal piano sketch; it’s easy to imagine these slowly coming to fruition in a state of introspective solitude. these simple melodic fragments impose no musical limitations, though, and that’s the truly impressive component of morly’s approach to songwriting. whether they’re grounded in brooding textures, integrated into more euphoric dance explorations, or converted into subterranean harmonic progressions on “drone poem (in defense of my muse)”, the motifs serve as the ultimate reference point, and the piano’s versatility is the perfect analog to an artist that resists genre confinement.
morly’s debut effort is fulfilling. there’s enough artistic self-awareness throughout in defense of my muse for it to function well as a standalone unit, should morly ever decide to step away from her solo project, but the subtle intricacies of the dissonance she explores almost beg to be developed further. hopefully this is just the start of something. in defense of my muse is out friday via cascine; stream it here.