eric wells’ output as sayth is becoming more refined, more sobering; his collaborative ep with north house, body pillow, is often a bummer in tone yet beautiful to listen to and digest. “maybe god is afraid of us?” is an especially listless cut about a fracturing relationship and its aftermath, sentiments explored in detail throughout its brand new music video. wells’ brother spencer again helms the director’s chair for the clip and pieces together a melancholy montage of coping mechanisms that culminate in a scene that’s simultaneously tranquil and jarring. check out the video below.
new zealand outfit yumi zouma shared the music video for “second wave” earlier this week, a subdued clip that finds the quartet performing the gorgeous track against a backdrop of equally gorgeous topography. “second wave” is culled from yumi zouma’s succinctly-titled ep ii, which is one of our favorites of 2015. watch the video below.
the year’s end is upon us yet again, and today begins the rapid succession of accolades doled out to various media. things will be a little different here at the dimestore this year; in accordance to our removal of ratings at the end of individual album reviews, nothing will be ranked on any our year-end lists. instead, each candidate will appear in alphabetical order. if you are truly curious about this site’s absolute favorite album, ep, song, or music video from this year, inquire within.
up first in the schedule are our five favorite music videos of 2015, unintentionally – but perhaps tellingly – skewed towards hip-hop and pop. read on.
disclosure – “magnets (ft. lorde)”
though caracal as a whole sailed by as a mere blip on our radar, it was impossible to ignore a strong byproduct of that record: the duo’s collaboration with lorde on “magnets.” the lawrence brothers may have ceded some of their production grandeur to accommodate lorde’s more minimalist aesthetic, but the track stuck, perhaps the only one that will endure from a shoulder-shrug of a sophomore effort.
the video for “magnets” delves deeper. on the surface, it’s an eerie, (yet again) lynch-indebted exploration of debauchery and infidelity, though these basic lusts soon prove to be an underlying condition of a much more serious problem. lorde the artistic persona is also largely absent from the plot, only usurping ella o’connor in the video’s final seconds to play the role of vigilante.
heems – “sometimes”
more on eat pray thug as a cohesive unit in a few days. the video for the album’s lead single, “sometimes,” plays out like a late-night sketch comedy segment, and appropriately so: two of its main characters are eric andre and hannibal buress. at the center of it all is himanshu suri himself, holding down the role of a sleazy infomercial salesman peddling a skin-whitening paste. the narrative is funny enough (heems’ sidekick and test subject wins for best dance moves) and attains peak irony by its end, but “sometimes” more soberly hints at the pressures of assimilation and code-switching discussed at length throughout eat pray thug.
run the jewels & zack de la rocha – “close your eyes (and count to fuck)”
perhaps the year’s most visceral music video was the one accompanying “close your eyes (and count to fuck).” plucked from the lauded rtj2, the clip for “close your eyes” follows the physical struggle between a young, unarmed black man (keith stanfield) and a white male police officer (shea whigham), one that’s a clear analog to the on-going racial profiling and police brutality that has plagued african-american communities for decades. both parties are exhausted before the video even begins, and the unresolved tension at its end extends the notion that these encounters are tragic cogs in an irreparable machine.
taylor swift – “bad blood (ft. kendrick lamar)”
the album version of “bad blood” was defined by an anthemic pre-chorus and chorus yet hindered by subpar verses, so why not let kendrick lamar hop on the beat for its radio edit? very few music videos are ever blockbuster events, but “bad blood” sure felt like one, with a big enough budget for both kill bill theatrics and a high-profile cast featuring nearly every single one of swift’s female contemporaries. bonus points to director joseph kahn for utilizing the track’s fantastically emo bridge to set up the clip’s explosive climax.
vince staples – “señorita”
a tattooed messiah leads his congregation through the streets of a walled-off neighborhood in the video for “señorita.” one by one, followers are picked off by automated turrets while their leader is spared a similar end, ostensibly due to his faithful repetition of the song’s dystopian hook. vince staples, meanwhile, circumnavigates this fate through his musical talents, though his dependence on armed security to perform robs him of an autonomy so often dependent on skin color.
staples is a realist, providing blunt commentary on the day-to-day life in his hometown of long beach, california. whether or not the neighborhood depicted in “señorita” is meant to represent his own, it’s still incredibly unnerving to see the plight of an entire community ultimately distilled into the viewing pleasure of white america.
chairlift prefaced their forthcoming album, moth, last month with “ch-ching,” a groove-laden, r&b-tinged exploration away from the sounds explored on 2012’s something. the duo’s latest single, “romeo,” could be viewed as a return to effervescent form – the tempo is quicker, the hook is massive – but its visual accompaniment helps ground the track in a more mysterious realm. directed by that go, the clip for “romeo” quickly becomes an eerie game of cat-and-mouse, its architect looking on with an ominous demeanor throughout its duration. check it out below.
memphis singer-songwriter julien baker released her debut full-length, sprained ankle, towards the end of last month; it’s a sparse, heartbreaking album with a level of introspective lyricism that would nearly betray baker’s youthfulness did her sentiments not resonate profoundly with such a dedicated audience. a music video for the album’s title track surfaced last week, its bare-bones cinematography reflecting the simple beauty of baker’s music as she sings a plaintive vignette of uncertainty regarding her songwriting skills while a cyclical, pinched-harmonic motif hums in the background. watch the clip for “sprained ankle” below.
los angeles duo oyster kids emerged earlier this month with “creepy,” a haunting debut single with strong synth-pop urges held in check by ominous bass lines and an eerie vocal duet throughout the chorus. the new music video for “creepy” compounds that aesthetic; kamall allaway weaves a morbid tale through a stock high school prom setting, replete with doll-like leading roles and a pair of mummies that act as their handlers. check out the clip below.
isaac vallentin has released music with pony girl and under the pseudonym josef pollock, but the ottawa-based singer-songwriter has never explicitly attached his name to a project until this year. hedera, vallentin’s debut full-length, dropped independently last friday; it’s a thirteen-track exercise in filtering organic instrumentation through an electronic lens, with vallentin effortlessly superimposing shuddering bass lines and steady synth arpeggios over his home-recorded guitar and vocal tracks.
one of the album’s strongest tracks, and its clearest proponent of vallentin’s aesthetic, is “stewardess.” polyrhythms quickly manifest and are further solidified when the bass drops, but the instrumentation ultimately bows to vallentin’s first powerful lyrical turn, delivered in a soothing baritone. the principal single from hedera preceded the album’s release with a jarring music video. its two characters convey the song’s dialogue through interpretative dance and the minimal use of props, resulting in a cathartic experience that becomes more apparent with each viewing. you can stream and download hedera here; watch the video for “stewardess” below.
the electronic music and hip-hop scenes in eau claire have been feeding off of each other for some time now, and there’s perhaps no better example of this than the recent collaborations between sayth (eric wells) and north house (alex tronson). after teaming up for a track on sayth’s excellent 2014 ep bad habitat, the duo plan on releasing a four-song collection of music, body pillow, together at the end of this month. the ep’s lead single, “pink pistols,” has been floating around in sayth’s live repertoire for awhile, and it feels rejuvenated by north house’s signature production that pits crisp, rapid-fire drum beats against soothing synth pads and earthy bass lines.
sayth has long been adept at crafting autobiographical narratives that have increasingly functioned as anthems for anyone disillusioned by a heteronormative mainstream society, and “pink pistols” only furthers that penchant. amidst deriding the cyclical nature of social media, name-checking the main thoroughfares in downtown eau claire, and shouting out his mom, wells again grapples with familial and societal resistance towards his sexuality, culminating in the searing finale “macklemore made a million off of gay rights / thanks bro, this is actually my real life.”
“pink pistols” dropped as a cohesive audio/visual experience yesterday, with wells’ older brother spencer directing a monochromatic clip following sayth around new york city. woven through shots of sayth riding the subway and performing shows are a sequence of dates with the same guy, bookended by a kiss. as impose noted in their premiere yesterday, this casually subverts how queerness is often portrayed in the media, integrating each kiss into the overarching storyline rather than making the act itself into a grand spectacle. there’s a lot to absorb here; spend some time with “pink pistols” below, and look for the rest of body pillow in the coming weeks.
sayth’s bad habitat ep was one of our favorites from last year for good reason; you can click through that link to read us wax poetic about eric wells’ work ethic and artistic persona, but the bottom line is that sayth continues to be an extremely singular project that stands in stark contrast to some of the other music coming out of the midwest. the music video for the bad habitat stand-out cut “rare candy” keeps this trend going. an 8-bit pokémon sample fades in as a backdrop to an altar of 1990s-era regalia with wells as its centerpiece, who promptly swaps his gameboy color in favor of an sp-404 once the track’s beat kicks in.
the “rare candy” cast is a veritable who’s who of the eau claire diy scene that helped foster sayth’s career, with members of adelyn rose, hemma, and glassworks improv functioning as wells’ entourage throughout the video. the nostalgic vhs treatment – courtesy of directors peter elliott eaton and spencer w. wells – pairs well with the video’s euphoric subject matter, and while both at times belie the song’s more metaphysical lyrical turns, the resulting contrast only seems to permanently underscore sayth’s ethos: rigorous self-examination does not have to come at the sacrifice of flat-out fun. watch “rare candy” below.
caroline sans bases her sur back project out of jupiter, florida, an appropriate location for music that is often other-worldly. sans is hard at work on her debut album kitsch, and today she’s unveiling the music video for its lead single, “jane eyre.” sur back is a project indebted to st. vincent – for both personal and musical reasons – and while the brass interjections and fuzz-guitar outro on “jane eyre” borrow from annie clark’s signature attributes, a singular sense of eeriness resonates in the water synth ostinatos and the stuttering drum-beat misdirections. that eeriness is compounded by director derek mitchell’s treatment of the music video, which is largely comprised of dark, disjointed sequences that serve as the perfect backdrop to sans’ mournful contralto. check out the video for “jane eyre” below.