2018 in review

as 2018 draws to a close, we’ve decided to do something we haven’t done in a couple of years: publish a year-end list on the dimestore.  folks who follow our twitter feed may recall seeing our favorite albums of years past tweeted out in a threaded form, often accompanied by requisite links to our previous coverage or words from other publications that really resonated. 

this list will be very similar, with a paragraph or two of year-end reflection running alongside links to purchase the album, select media, and previous coverage.  like its twitter predecessors, our review of 2018 will run without numerical ranking, instead presented in alphabetical order.  by no means authoritative, this list features ten albums that have made a lasting impact in our small corner of existence over the past year.  we hope you find something new to embrace.

hovvdy – cranberry

the austin duo hovvdy joined the ranks of double double whammy for their second full-length, their warm, lived-in nostalgic turns slotting nicely into the label’s aesthetic.  cranberry finds hovvdy using a familiar palette as a foundation for cautious forays into tangential sonic realms; the gorgeous lilt of  the stand-out cut “truck” is punctuated by wisps of pedal steel, an affective presentation of reflective recollection.

cranberry review || dimestore saints
texas forever: a breakdown of cranberry with hovvdy || portals

juliana daugherty – light

the charlottesville-based daughtery turned in her exquisite debut full-length amidst the dark cloud that hung over her city, its titular light a beacon guiding wayward travelers out of the deepest recesses of their minds.  light is ten tracks of melancholia with glimmers of hope and clarity, the perfect album to escape inside of with a pair of headphones on a solitary afternoon.

light review || dimestore saints
juliana daugherty’s new album light invites you to break apart softly, quietly, beautifully || into the void

kacey musgraves – golden hour

the seemingly-endless critical acclaim heaped on kacey musgraves throughout 2018 was entirely deserved; golden hour is a timeless collection of songs that is easily poised to be one of this decade’s most enduring artifacts.  throughout thirteen tracks, musgraves invites the world to peer through her kaleidoscopic lens of cool, cosmic country, folding synthesizers into the expanses of pedal steel vistas while her lead vocal floats effortlessly in the foreground.

a top-ten list of musical moments from golden hour could easily be litigated for a substantial amount of time, but a handful are indisputable: the snappy drum fill before each chorus in “lonely weekend”; the vocoder harmonies in the second half of the second verse in “butterflies”; the entire seventy-eight seconds of “mother.”  it’s an album so outwardly joyful and pristine yet inwardly so nuanced and pensive that each repeated listen returns impressive dividends to its recipient, with myriad aural ecosystems just waiting to be discovered. 

kacey musgraves is a wild thing || stereogum
kacey musgraves knows love makes the world go round || the fader

mr twin sister – salt

salt is one of those rare new albums that feels like stumbling upon a long-lost hidden gem upon first listen.  mr twin sister spent four years away from the cyclical drone of the music industry, hunkering down to create a lush composite of electronic pop and jazz that functions as the perfect lounge music for the raging inferno of late capitalism that has been 2018.

salt review || dimestore saints
salt review || northern transmissions

noname – room 25

the southside chicago rapper noname took the fruits of her 2016 mixtape telefone and let them marinate for a couple of years. the result is room 25, a vibrant debut album that accentuates fatimah walker’s independent streak while honing her singular, spoken word-influenced aesthetic. this outing is a bit more visceral and less conversational than its predecessor, a poised and confident collection of songs from an indispensable voice.

here comes noname || the fader
room 25 review || pitchfork

pat moon – romantic era

kate davis returned for her sophomore spectral outing as pat moon this past summer, escaping into a slightly different headspace that yielded the ten tracks populating romantic era. a cavernous, intensely intimate project, romantic era resonates as haunting whispers from a parallel dimension, a respite from the cacophony of our everyday existence.

“spiraling” premiere || dimestore saints
entering the romantic era with pat moon || week in pop

r beny – saudade

austin cairns has recorded ambient music under the moniker r beny for the past few years, filtering the central tenets of 1990s slow-core through a prism of analog and modular synthesizers.  his excellent full-length saudade, released in february by the belgian tape label dauw, is a glimmering snapshot of a relatively young synthesist hitting his stride. (cairns’ other 2018 release, october’s eistla, is also commendable.)

any penchant for melody may get buried in a medium that favors deteriorating and evolving soundscapes, but carins’ melodic intuition is the glue that holds saudade together, from the stately, brassy declarations that announce “streams of light” to the hesitant ascent of “burl.”  a mixture of percolating motifs and blurry synth pads makes saudade the ideal aural companion for crisp morning walks, hazy summer evenings, and nearly any other solitary venture in between.

duologue: a conversation with r beny || stationary travels

sun june – years

sun june shares some commonalities with another austin outfit on this list, all the more reason to keep a steadfast ear to the ground for music coming out of that particular city.  on years, the band’s debut full-length for keeled scales, laura colwell and company offer up ten spare tracks that synthesize 1960s pop, early-2000s r&b, and country ornamentations, colwell’s electric piano and the telecaster’s more mellow spectrum teaming up with a tasteful rhythm section for slow-burning standouts like “johnson city” and the muted gleam of opening number “discotheque.”

years review || dimestore saints
a road (opening): on sun june’s years LP || gold flake paint

tierra whack – whack world

maybe whack world is an album, or maybe it’s, as its creator describes it, a “visual and auditory project.”  while its classification is debatable, the fact that tierra whack offered up something that frustrated a playlist-oriented, algorithmic streaming economy while simultaneously capitalizing on the limitations of instagram videos makes whack world decidedly a product of its time.

and what a product it is.  watching the fifteen-minute project in its audio/visual form is obviously the intended method of consumption; whack’s world is a vibrant one that toggles between playful pastiche and snippets of sincerity, a dichotomy reinforced by the characters whack portrays in each vignette.  an exercise in limitation and unabashed originality, whack world is one of 2018’s truly unique releases.

tierra whack can’t be pinned down || stereogum
tierra whack is building her own world || the fader

video age – pop therapy

a quintessential album of the summer, video age’s pop therapy picks up right where the new orleans duo’s 2016 living alone leaves off, putting synths that previously sat in the background squarely at the center of their balmy new wave exercises.  the production across pop therapy is top-notch, with each song carving out its own little niche as ross farbe and ray micarelli steer their sophomore vessel towards its therapeutic destination.

pop therapy review || dimestore saints
comfort without a catch || the new orleans advocate

juliana daugherty – light

– featured image courtesy of tom daly – 

there are myriad quaint moments on juliana daugherty’s impeccable debut album light, ones of such commanding stillness and solitude that stand in stark contrast to the three-alarm fire that is the current collective everyday existence.  the charlottesville, virginia, resident largely eschewed the macro-level political trappings on her latest, but its message is still radical: the reclamation of self from mental illness.

the mildly propulsive opening tracks ease gently into daugherty’s intimate world, “baby teeth” especially, aided by its steady, syncopated guitar and warm keyboard interjections amidst daugherty’s meandering lead vocal.   a ten-track collection that sees no merit in trafficking in conciseness, light rewards the listener who engages critically from start to finish, hitting its stride halfway through and becoming truly powerful in its final third.  in particular, the rhythmic playfulness of its title track is the perfect segue into the home stretch, the pensive “come with me” pairing with the sparse “california” to present daugherty at her finest.

armed with a classical music upbringing, a multi-instrumentalist’s ease, and an mfa in poetry, daugherty is uniquely poised to turn in an album of this caliber.  light is chock-full of arresting moments – the cinematic majesty of “sweetheart”; the slow-burning assurance of “bliss”; the rich, unexpected vocal harmonies throughout “easy” – but what endures is daugherty’s unparalleled confidence, charting its course to emerge from the darkness.

light is out now via western vinyl; stream the album in full below.

air waves – “warrior”

– featured image courtesy of ebru yildiz – 

nicole schneit’s third album as air waves, warrior, is due out april 6th via western vinyl.  last month saw the release of “morro bay,” the album’s second single, a comparatively tranquil outing in comparison to the title track that dropped yesterday.

“warrior” is propulsive, defined by its arpeggiated synth motifs and the gritty guitar progression that chugs along throughout; the esteemed kevin morby echoes schneit’s sentiments during the refrain, and it’s hard not to hear his influence in the aforementioned guitar progression.  by design, “warrior” is also incredibly direct, an anthemic reassurance to those facing both inward and outward struggles.

take a listen to the track below.

air waves – “morro bay”

– featured image courtesy of the artist – 

the brooklyn-based, nicole schneit-led outfit air waves are gearing up for the release of their third full-length, warrior.  the album’s title and its contents are an ode to the folks fighting extraordinary battles in everyday settings, including schneit’s mother, who successfully fought fallopian cancer and is now in remission, and schneit herself, who faces a continuous struggle for her dignity and acceptance as a queer woman in society.

the album’s lead single, “morro bay,” has a decidedly nautical vibe, with buoyant keyboard textures and jangly guitars gently merging as the song progresses.  coupled with its central hook, “you can find us in our room / listening to graceland tunes,” “morro bay” basks in the comforts of familiarity yet simultaneously seems to be searching for a bit more clarity and assurance, evincing the plaintive undertones that often accompanies such nostalgia.

warrior is due out april 6th via western vinyl.  sway gently to “morro bay” below.