the japanese house – “face like thunder”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

amber bain’s work as the japanese house has left an undeniable, lasting impression; it’s been nearly a year since we’ve heard any new music from the british songwriter, but both clean and pools to bathe in remain collections of songs that resonate deeply.

bain will break her prolonged silence with swim against the tide, her third ep, due out november 11th via dirty hit.  lead single “face like thunder” checks any outwardly melancholic tendencies at the door, instead offering up what’s arguably the most pop-oriented, clear-eyed japanese house track to date.  still, the listlessness of bain’s lyrics persists underneath pristine synths and crisp drum programming, with forlorn verses folding into nostalgic, yearning hooks.  take a listen to “face like thunder” below.


best of 2015: eps

korg rhythm 55the ep is a beloved format here at the dimestore, the perfect stop-gap for artists in between full-length projects and an extended offering for those just beginning to imprint their dna in music’s genome.  the five selections from 2015 skew largely towards the latter; dive into our picks below.


diet cig over easydiet cig – over easy

you’d be hard-pressed to find a duo that had more flat-out fun in 2015 than diet cig.  the new paltz two-piece offered up their debut ep, over easy, early this year, a compact five-song venture into jubilant power chords and flippant observations about the waning moments of teenagedom.  diet cig may market themselves as slop-pop, but there’s nothing sloppy about alex luciano’s underlying wit, or how she accosts small-town narcissism on “scene sick” and gloriously howls “fuck your ivy league sweater” at the climax of “harvard.”  more of this in 2016, please.

pools to bathe inthe japanese house – pools to bathe in

a co-sign from the 1975 certainly helped amplify exposure, but amber bain would have snuck into the internet’s collective awareness regardless.  her work as the japanese house thus far is affecting, a haunting palette of minimalist textures wrapped around bain’s penchant for stacking brooding vocals.  although her second ep of 2015, clean, already showcased bain expanding her horizons, pools to bathe in feels like definitive japanese house, from the warped acoustic guitar foundation of the ep’s title track to the chilling narrative of an alter-ego on “sister.”  in an era when pristine, layered production is as coveted as ever, the japanese house serves as an acute example of how to subvert that practice’s outcome and obtain an incredibly intimate final product.

Morly - In Defense of My Muse WEBmorly – in defense of my muse

cascine is our reigning label of the year in part because they regularly brought exceptional acts like morly to the forefront of our inbox.  on in defense of my muse, katy morley harnesses the dexterity and beautiful simplicity of fragmented piano melodies and weaves them through sparse electronic soundscapes, resulting in a body of work that can be just as euphoric as it is ominous.  case in point: “and sooner than we know it…” briefly emerges from an eerie choral haze to indulge in a subdued dancehall catharsis, but the surrounding tracks ascertain that morly is ultimately a project of introspection, not delayed hedonism.

sayth body pillowsayth & north house – body pillow

eric wells and alex tronson held down the art of the short-form record for the wisconsin/minnesota border in 2015.  on body pillow, tronson’s moody amalgamation of trap beats and polychrome textures coaxes out some of sayth’s densest lyrical material yet, from sharp commentary on the perpetual state of limbo felt by twenty-somethings to heart-rending, vivid navigations of fleeting romance.  body pillow also aligns many of the salient members of wells’ burgeoning collective, lowkey radical; wealthy relative creams the ep’s sole guest verse on “a formal apology to grandma wells” while baby blanket made his inaugural appearance on the hook of “maybe god is afraid of us?”  but some of the finest moments happen without any outside help.  closing number “pink pistols” pads lush synth swells and stuttering drums around an ode to sayth’s entire contingent, which compounds rapidly and builds towards the ep’s final, visceral couplet: “macklemore made a million off of gay rights / thanks bro, this is actually my real life.”

yumi zouma ep iiyumi zouma – ep ii

being spread across the globe doesn’t seem to hinder yumi zouma; if anything, the quartet thrives off of displacement.  our reigning best new artists turned in their much-anticipated second ep mere months after receiving the accolade, one that showcases a more intricate understanding of how to intertwine soaring hooks and intimate textures.  “alena” and “catastrophe” are both baleric anthems, indulging in their respective melodies to craft compositions that feel like extroverted extensions of the subdued persona yumi zouma initially embodied, but they’re necessary foils if the desired end-result is “song for zoe & gwen,” the universal missing component from every 1980s soundtrack that finally pairs the band’s nostalgic sonic palette with thematics of the same stature.

listen to a new song from the japanese house

the japanese house
photo courtesy of the artist

amber bain has made a spectacular first impression in 2015.  after releasing pools to bathe in, her debut ep as the japanese house, this past spring, bain returns with a follow-up, clean, out this friday via dirty hit records.  her second ep already shows marked improvements as a songwriter and an increased confidence in her aesthetic, one that allows bain to carefully venture into the more dynamic realms explored in “cool blue.”  on “sugar pill,” the forth and final cut off of clean, bain briefly strips down to sparse acoustic piano before ushering in a familiar palette of surging, agitated synth tones.  but it’s the quick, flittering motifs popping out of the song’s rich texture that define its tone; their sudden absence underscores the abrupt turn in bain’s lyrics, when similes and metaphors for hollowness segue into a much more pointed depiction of isolation.  take a listen to “sugar pill” below.

listen to a new song from the japanese house

the japanese house
photo courtesy of the artist

next friday amber bain will release clean, her second ep as the japanese house.  after letting go of the ep’s namesake and the equally-stellar “cool blue,” bain has shared “letter by the water,” an emotive track that burns slowly with the fervor of the earliest japanese house recordings.  click through to watch the music video via hunger tv, and take a listen to “letter by the water” below.

listen to a new song from the japanese house

photo courtesy of the artist

amber bain’s first ep as the japanese house was contemplative; its four tracks burn slow enough for bain’s heavily-processed, textured vocals to move through them purposefully, each syllable dictated for maximum effect.  the london singer-songwriter has some pretty heavy co-signers in george daniel and matt healy from the 1975, and she’s already prepping her second release of the year.  clean, due out november 6th via dirty hitis another four-song ep, but it’s evident that bain has already further sharpened her focus.  “cool blue,” the second single culled from clean, feels like a sonic breath of fresh air, shirking bain’s murky post-dub tendencies for shimmering guitar lines and comparatively clean vocals propelled by an ambitious tempo.  take a listen to “cool blue” below.