shane renfro and company are less than a year removed from the excellent trickster blues, but rf shannon has already set their sights ontheir third full-length, rain on dust, due out in august via the austin-based label keeled scales.
“wild rose pass,” the first taste of rain on dust, is a muted affair, its slow pulse and underlying tremolo more so felt than heard, the titular refrain delivered with a gentle sigh. vaguely psychedelic with wisps of americana swirled throughout, rf shannon’s blend of mellow folk music is on full display with “wild rose pass,” a snapshot of an album preoccupied with the vistas of the american southwest.
when he’s not putting in time as a member of natalie prass’s backing band, jacob ungerleider records warm, enveloping pop songs under the moniker grebes. after releasing the swirling, downtempo “wyd” earlier this year, grebes returned last week with a follow-up single, “one trick pony,” ahead of a full-length release.
brushing up against the two-minute mark, “one trick pony” grounds itself in aqueous synths, stuttering percussion, and ungerleider’s tender lead vocal, percolating to the surface before suddenly dissipating. as the album’s lead track, it’s the perfect introduction to grebes.
house creature, the debut effort from grebes, arrives june 28th via broken circles. listen to “one trick pony” below.
after releasing last year’s glimmering EP III and fulfilling their contract with cascine, yumi zouma decided to try something they’d yet to do: release a standalone single.
that single, “bruise,” feels a bit more direct than much of the band’s catalogue, but still very much within their wheelhouse; its origins are in the departure of yumi alum sam perry in 2017 and timbaland’s mid-2000s production cues, a percussion-heavy cut that finds yumi zouma in the foreground on the dance floor.
read more about the band’s new trajectory over at i-d and listen to “bruises” below.
the montreal quintet bodywash occupy a hazy realm of polychrome, where smears of shoegaze collide with bubbly synths and vocal tandems that sound like they’re delivered from the bottom of a thirty-foot well.
the band has its roots in the creative partnership between chris steward and rosie long decter, forged in 2014 when the two were students at mcgill university; since recording an EP in 2016, bodywash has swelled to its current size while working on their debut full-length, comforter, due later this year.
on “eye to eye,” the first taste of comforter, tag-team a lead vocal that has a tendency to burrow into the greater texture of the track, an end result that feels like dusk settling in on a humid summer’s day. a guitar line faintly echoes the chorus’s vocal melody, its second iteration a precursor to a transportive instrumental bridge that fleshes out the seamless nature of bodywash’s sonic communications.
bodywash have recently joined the ranks of luminelle recordings, who will release comforter at some point in 2019. for now, take in “eye to eye,” below.
ryan pollie’s brisk, twenty-five minute new self-titled album is bookended by a pair of choral tracks, brief exercises that retain a remarkably cleansing effect. in the past year or so, pollie relinquished his nom de guerre of los angeles police department, battled cancer, and wrote many of the songs that would wind up on this record, but not necessarily in that order; he received his diagnosis after much of the album was complete, putting those songs – and their existential themes of mortality – into a slightly more immediate context.
under his own name, ryan pollie is much more clear-eyed in his approach to songwriting. the hazy ennui that dotted his output as los angeles police department – a perfect analog to one’s mid-twenties – has disappeared, bucolic slide guitars, straight-ahead acoustic strumming, and detuned piano chords reigning supreme.
breezy though its contents may be, ryan pollie’s aural affect is at times belied by its namesake’s lyrical tone; the plaintive refrain of “my god’s insane” on “aim slow” might serve as a mantra for the entire album, an attempt to explain the inexplicable. “only child” finds pollie addressing his diagnosis and its accompanying uncertainty head-on, while “raincoat” is a brief, heartbreaking ode to a relationship’s end.
the nostalgia of pollie’s earlier work as los angeles police department has throughlines in cuts like “leaving california” and “eyes of vermont,” both awash in images of childhood and home. taken in as a whole, this ten-song collection serves as a potent snapshot of pollie’s current existence, its delivery done in a timeless fashion.
we recently caught up with pollie via e-mail to discuss 1970s singer-songwriters, the fruits of collaboration, and his lingering affinity for new england. check out the transcript, lightly edited for clarity, below.
this is your first album under your own name after a handful as los angeles police department. was there anything in particular that led to you shedding that moniker?
totally. the past few years i’ve been getting heavy into singer-songwriters from the early 1970s. whether american, english, irish, japanese – most of the artists i fell for were making music so personal that the subject matter and the tone was so closely linked to the writer. like graham nash or jackson nrowne both writing really personal break-up albums (both about joni mitchell) – there was just no separation between the songs and the songwriter.
i came to kind of an existential moment where it felt like by shedding a “band name,” i was able to dig a little deeper with what i had to say and how i wanted to represent myself with my art. once i made the decision, it really provided a new space for me to grow as an artist, i think.
you wrote most of this album, which tends to grapple with mortality and the general essence of being, before receiving a cancer diagnosis. did you subsequently find yourself ascribing new meaning to those completed songs, or a new perspective on the contents and scope of the album?
i think that’s really perceptive of you to ask, maybe just because that’s absolutely what happened. i had written and recorded most of the material before i knew that i was sick, and the lyrical themes you are describing, that i was already exploring, became even more meaningful to me.
songwriting seems to have this magical prophetic nature sometimes. not always. but for this record, and this has happened to me in the past, i was writing songs about facing death, getting sick, ending a specific relationship – all things that just kind of flowed through me without knowing that they would be around the corner in my life.
the collaborations across this album feel especially significant, given the intimate circumstances surrounding its final stages of creation. can you speak a bit to any part or parts of the collaborative process you found particularly meaningful?
community was a huge part of the album process for me, and a really important part of my life through all stages of making the record.
i feel really proud of where i’m at as far as my relationship with my own work. i not only feel so lucky to have amazing friends and family supporting me in general, but i was able to collaborate with all of my friends in bringing the songs to life. i would reach out to all of my friends who play music, asking them to contribute on different days when i was writing and recording different songs, and they all were so graceful in that they really gave 100% of themselves to my art.
i can hear the personalities of all my friends all over the record, as if i’m spending time with them, as if they’re in the room with me. it’s nice to know that i’ll have that feeling when i play the record for the rest of my life.
i also mixed the record with one of my best friends while i was going through chemo: brian rosemeyer. he would be in a room with me, as i was pale and bald and sick – i looked like nosferatu. and he would not only give such caring attention to each track, but he was also a huge emotional support for me through that whole experience of getting cancer. i could tell he was emotionally invested in the story i was weaving together, and it really shows, i think, in his work. it was the best get well soon gift, looking back on it now.
your childhood home is on the east coast, but you seem pretty geographically and musically preoccupied with california. do any parts of life in new england – and its accompanying experiences – seep into your songwriting?
very much so. i wrote “eyes of vermont” in vermont – while listening to a lot of will fox demos. being among the trees, at the lake – it’s so inspiring to me visually and just gives me such a different feeling than california does. it was nice bringing that energy back.
i wrote “leaving california” – originally called “leaving california for vermont” – right after that trip as well. that song is about going home, the fear and anxieties of los angeles and the comfort of the green mountains.
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.
the brooklyn-based quartet crumb has been honing a vaguely psychedelic, undeniably infectious repertoire for the past few years, one with roots in lila ramani’s songwriting but that’s blossomed into an effortless collaborative venture. on june 14th, the band will self-release jinx, their first full-length that serves as a logical conclusion to a stellar pair of extended plays.
on “ghostride,” ramani’s stuttering, warped vinyl guitar motif dictates the mood, heralding a deep-pocketed two-minute groove populated by a wobbly synth line and an ethereal stream of consciousness. joining predecessors “nina” and “part III,” “ghostride” is another strong indication of the import of jinx, one that gently demands to be in heavy rotation. listen in below.
there’s a quiet intensity that permeates throughout mother of my children, the debut full-length from portland’s black belt eagle scout that saw a re-release last fall, courtesy of saddle creek records. woven through its eight tracks are visceral examinations of queer, indigenous identity that grapple with personal loss and erasure, its sparse structures periodically blossoming into cathartic, towering walls of noise.
katherine paul, the beating heart behind black belt eagle scout, thankfully had more exquisite material at her disposal; last friday saw the release of a new 7” single, “loss & relax” b/w “half colored hair,” songs that grew out of the mother of my children sessions.
in contrast with its sturdier, heavier a-side, “half colored hair” finds KP occupying a more tender realm, the soft pulse of a floor tom thrumming beneath the faint chords that accompany her gentle love song. a simple sentiment turns on a mantra derived from the song’s title, with paul repeating “i never knew i’d like half colored hair so much / but in the light” as keyboard pads bloom into the foreground, an aural reflection of a promising relationship.
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 tacoma, washington duo clay beds have found a fitting home for their self-titled debut release in hush hush records, the seattle purveyor of nocturnal music that flitters between electronic, pop, and ambient.
for proof, look no further than the project’s second single, “apple pie,” which finds the duo – boston transplants john anderson and hailee rogers – navigating an aqueous, gauzy choral landscape populated by reversed swells and percolating keyboard motifs. a potent snapshot of things to come from clay beds, “apple pie” pairs well with its predecessor “one old horse in the dirt and sun,” offering a pensive glimpse at the duo’s more atmospheric side.
clay beds is due march 29th on cassette and digitally via hush hush. listen to “apple pie,” premiering right here on the dimestore, below.