erin durant – “islands”

– featured image courtesy of sarrah danziger –

remember erin durant come year’s end. the new york-based songwriter has been releasing a steady stream of impressive singles in anticipation of her forthcoming album, culminating in the recent unveiling of its title track, “islands.”

framed around durant’s clear-eyed piano progression, “islands” is vivid in its introspection; when a soft choral echo emerges halfway through its six-minute duration, the track blooms into something radiant, more than the sum of its various lilting components.

islands, produced by TV on the radio’s kyp malone, arrives june 21st via the austin, texas label keeled scales. listen in on its title track below.

premiere – caicos

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

last summer, alex frenkel released promised lands, his first effort under his caicos moniker, a vibrant debut that fused electronic soundscapes with frenkel’s signature guitar playing and vocals. it appears he had more left in the tank; a five-song extended play, dream machines, is due out this spring.

on “genesis,” the EP‘s opening number and lead-off single, palm-muted motifs skitter off of compressed electronic backbeats and acoustic guitar chord progressions, an organic foundation warmed by frenkel’s conversational baritone.

his lead vocal sits comfortably in the foreground, gradually enveloped by the accompanying arrangement until the very final moments, when most timbres exit stage left and frenkel remains with a surprisingly tender sentiment to deliver. an initial glimpse into a project that shows the measured progression of an incredibly assured songwriter, “genesis” is a placid cut, particularly well-suited for chilly days that require a bit extra aural warmth.

dream machine is out may 31st via very jazzed. listen to “genesis,” premiering right here on the dimestore, 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.

interview – majetic

– featured image courtesy of chris cox –

justin majetich shed his full band and the last letter of his surname in pursuit of his newest album.  club dread features a streamlined palette and a renewed ambition, becoming a vessel to explore the fractured intricacies of life through a dissonant, electronic lens.

after the acerbic, audio-visual one-two punch of “horseback” and “bloodbrunch,” majetic returns today with “tender ums,” the album’s reflective penultimate cut, its subterranean pulses and acoustic piano motif swirling together towards something bigger, more grandiose.  in its final moments, “tender ums” reaches that summit, all of its components coalescing into a perfect representation of majetic’s raw, soulful interior so often shrouded in stabs of angular synths.

we recently touched base with majetic via e-mail for an intimate glimpse inside the creation of club dread, its transcontinental roots, and the sequential significance of its third and newest single.  check out the transcript, along with the premiere of “tender ums,” below.

club dread is club adjacent.  is this a headspace you’ve occupied for some time or one you specifically found yourself in while writing the songs on this record?

when i moved to new york city in 2015, i suddenly had access to a whole range of underground parties — stuff i’d dreamt of in the midwest but that didn’t really exist for me there.  i’d caught traces of it from friends in detroit, but overall, it was totally new and exciting.  i moved to new york for a musical community i’d expected to find in the live venues, but i guess it was on the dance floor that i first felt a sense of belonging in this city.

so yes, for a while my headspace was club-adjacent – preoccupied with its magic, saturated with the music.  by the time i was writing club dread in 2017, i wasn’t going out as much, but i was absolutely referencing that headspace as i wrote.  i was dipping back into those experiences and re-imagining them for the album world.  i still catch a party now and then and have some really great friends who i met through that community.

both oakland and queens factor into your biography – disparate locations geographically, but perhaps ones with some things in common musically.  are you drawn more to the contrasts or the constants of these two cities?  how did working on the album far from where it was initially conceived affect its direction and outcome?

place heavily informs the work i make.  not only does it shape the album’s atmosphere but it is also personified in the work, almost as a character.  NYC was the place-character in my last record, LUV IN THE RUINS, and i wanted something different this time around.  i was spending a lot of time in oakland with my brother and sister, and naturally, it followed to set the record there.

there’s such a complex spirit to the bay area.  so much tension between the awe-inspiring natural beauty and the extreme human disparity, the promise of progress and the dystopian realities…  all the while, there’s this catastrophic fault-line brooding underfoot and the pacific chewing at the coast, violent and massive, an insatiable conduit of dread.  incorporating the bay as a setting seemed like a powerful way to illustrate both the ecstasy and grief the characters of club dread experience in and around a club stricken with tragedy.

that being said — and i realize i haven’t directly addressed your question — there are traces of NYC in the album.  a lot of the experiences i’m filtering into the record took place here, and it’s where i was living when i wrote most of the lyrics.  still, i don’t think being back in NYC for a bulk of the writing process hindered my ability to access my sense of the bay in any significant way.  i’d taken extensive notes, and honestly, i think place can sometimes be better comprehended from a distance.  or at least, better comprehended for the purpose of art-making – the finite, fallible substance of memory naturally lending a tint of mythology to the thing remembered.

as for the the contrasts and/or constants between oakland and NYC, i mostly think about the former.  to me, they’re sort of inverse of one another: one vast, one claustrophobic; one idealistic, one realistic; one circuitous, one direct.  these sort of things require a more nuanced explanation, but that’s the jist.  as for musical contrasts, i feel like there’s a lot more concern with coolness and cleverness in NYC versus a lot of play and theater in the bay.  but if i’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that any scene is mostly what you make of it.

much of your album is centered around an electronic soundscape, but “tender ums,” which we’re premiering today, counts an acoustic piano among its focal points.  can you speak to the genesis of this track and how it fits into club dread overall?

i was visiting my parents in ohio, where my dad pastors a church.  after service, everyone will head to the fellowship hall and catch up over snacks.  on this given sunday, i slipped back into the sanctuary to play the piano while i waited for my parents to wrap up. that’s where i wrote the theme that plays during the song’s first interlude and also lends shape to the vocal melody.  it felt like something you could loop endlessly.  it was soft and small but carried an emotional weight.  i’m actually just realizing it now, but this sanctuary setting in which the song began is preserved in the “airport chapel” of the song’s opening verse.

anyway, i tucked those four measures away for a few weeks, and then one day tried growing them into a song, along with a phrase i’d pulled from my notes: “the body wasn’t made for this sort of placelessness.”  thirty-six hours later, i had “tender ums,” which is a speed unheard of for me.  it just flowed with uncharacteristic ease.  it was the last song i wrote for club dread, and it felt like recompense for an otherwise meticulous process.

though it’s the penultimate track, i see “tender ums” as the album’s final chapter.  the actual closer, “club dread,” looks back over the record in a way, encompassing the events, characters, and themes – a spiritual conclusion.  but “tender ums” sees the speaker at the chronological end, as they make their departure from the bay (airplane imagery a bookend with similar imagery in the first lines of album-opener “chewing tabs”).

it’s perhaps the record’s most vulnerable moment, but still i find a quiet triumph in the song.  take the line, “waking to a kinder sadness….”  those who’ve experienced grief subside might relate to a moment when one first feels the heaviness shift.  it’s the tiniest movement but, nevertheless, a notion of a world beyond grief.  you understand that life can recover, even if you don’t understand how.  that’s the moment from which the song is sung, and i believe it’s a crucial expression of hope in an album frequently given to despair.

club dread arrives november 2nd via winspear.  take a listen to its third single, “tender ums,” out now on spotify and premiering below on the dimestore.

premiere – alexei shishkin

– featured image courtesy of graham w. bell – 

for much of this site’s existence, alexei shishkin has been a constant.  the transient singer-songwriter has been providing understated ruminations on ennui and listlessness for the past few years, turning in a steady stream of releases via the minneapolis tape label forged artifacts.  on october 19th, shishkin will return with his latest full-length, happy bday, a transcontinental batch of songs as geographically beholden to portland, orgeon, as they are to shishkin’s current residence in new york city.

the album’s newest single, “i don’t mind,” finds shishkin squarely in his element, extolling the virtues and unintended consequences of slowing life down in a measured duet with jess n. pierson.  warm, phased guitars augment the relaxing timbre of shishkin’s lead vocal, with arpeggiated melodies and well-placed synth pads drifting in and out of the texture.  ever reliable, shishkin combines these elements to offer up something as unassuming as it is profound, a much-needed, sustained exhalation for the collective mind.

“i don’t mind” is premiering today, right here on the dimestore.  listen in below.

caicos – promised lands

– featured image courtesy of tory williams – 

alex frenkel’s work as caicos is doused in vibrant polychrome, its rock-solid pop foundations meandering through fields of bucolic folk, minefields of electronica, and the abstractions of art rock.  our first taste of frenkel’s debut project came this spring in the form of “turned again (crux)”; the new york songwriter is now gearing up for the release of promised lands, a seven-song extended play sprawling beyond its twenty-five minute run time.

the aptly-titled opening number, “watercolor (mala),” is packed with saturated hues, a thematic distillation that prefaces many of the tropes that subsequently appear.  while the coursing second single, “vega,” feels like the project’s largest sonic outlier, the straight-ahead misdirection is grounded in the assured coolness of frenkel’s lead vocal, stretching into falsetto with ease and laying the framework for sly future callbacks.

promised lands hits its stride with the soft acoustic shuffle of “southeast,” a relaxing exercise in reassurance that parlays its existence into the first panel of a breezy triptych; “the push and pull” revels in motifs that evaporate in wisps of reversed delay while the standout penultimate cut “salvo” trades acoustic guitars for airy synths and bell-tone counter-melodies.  frenkel saves the title track for his finale, a measured rumination that pares back to just a finger-picked acoustic guitar and proves to be just as compelling as its predecessors.

with just seven songs, frenkel is able to turn in a fully-realized presentation of what caicos is: a stirring electro-acoustic project that relishes nuance and rock-solid songwriting perfectly timed for the changing seasons.  promised lands is due august 10th via very jazzed, but you can listen to it a few days early right here on the dimestore.  dig in.

adeline hotel – “habits”

– featured image courtesy of chris bernabeo –

dan knishkowy’s adeline hotel project has long had a collaborative air surrounding it, and his latest album is no exception.  away together, due later this fall, features a robust ensemble of familiar faces and first-time contributors all working in concert to flesh out knishkowy’s sketches of melancholic americana.

on the album’s lead single, “habits,” knishkowy is at the helm of a loping acoustic foundation, yearning in gorgeous harmony with fellow new york songwriter cassandra jenkins for an ever-elusive state of contentedness.  with well-placed pedal steel swoons throughout and a contemplative guitar solo commandeering its final minute, “habits” feels like the sonic embodiment of leaves changing color, a perfect record for a moment of pause within an ongoing transitory period.

away together is due october 26th via ruination record co.  take a listen to “habits” below.

harrison lipton – “beacon”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

earlier this year, the new york singer-songwriter harrison lipton released loveliness, a collection of tracks concerned with the various stages of relationships that together constitute his debut full-length.  at the forefront of the album is “beacon,” a contemplative, downtempo cut that recently received a gorgeous music video treatment.

directed by and starring lipton as the principal character, “beacon” opens with a shot of a cascading waterfall and quickly establishes lipton as a troubadour on a solo venture through the wilderness.  the second half of the video finds lipton encountering and entering an abandoned house, circumstances becoming more surreal with every utterance of the track’s thesis: “i don’t know what to believe.”

with swirling textures and a tumbling falsetto, the aural components of “beacon” square nicely with its visual counterpart’s magical realism, an end result that is simply transfixing.  watch the music video below.

tmboy – “focus”

– featured image courtesy of andrew mcintyre – 

the brooklyn duo TMBOY explored the euphoric release of frenetic, electronic pop on their 2015 self-titled release, a territory they seem keen to return to on a pair of new singles due in late june.

“focus,” the first of these two singles, arrives today accompanied by a stark monochromatic music video, the director andrew mcintyre capturing the duo’s affecting performance and choreography amidst various sprawling backdrops.  the kinetic energy throughout “focus” is palpable, a pulsating vessel well-suited for sarah aument’s acrobatic lead vocal.

a wonderful re-introduction to TMBOY ahead of their double-single focus / seed, which in turn is a primer to a forthcoming album, “focus” is an intricate slice of compelling pop music, one further enhanced by the earnestness of its visual counterpart.  get acquainted below.

harrison lipton – “blue boy”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

harrison lipton’s debut album loveliness is a tender ten-track ode to friendship and romance in various stages.  the new york singer-songwriter wraps a formidable falsetto up in pillowy guitar chords and angelic synths, a laid-back palette in which rumination is inevitable.

nestled towards the end of loveliness is “blue boy,” a downtrodden down-tempo number about someone dearly departed.  lipton wistfully recalls fond memories with another, a static synth arpeggio shifting slightly in solidarity with lyrical melancholy, a nod to fleeting stability.  “blue boy” hits its stride in the final minute, aqueous tendencies triumphing over the greater texture and drowning it in repeated psychedelic iterations of the titular phrase.

loveliness is out now via yellow k records; take a listen to “blue boy” below.