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.

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kelly lee owens – “spaces”

– featured image courtesy of kim hiorthøy – 

the london producer and singer kelly lee owens released an outstanding self-titled album earlier this year, a pulsating collage of electronica replete with an homage to arthur russell and a collaboration with jenny hval.  as if that album’s ten songs weren’t enough of a gift, owens today released an extended version, with three additional tracks in tow.

“spaces” is part of that addendum.  armed with a descending motif that meanders towards its destination and owens’ exacting lead vocal, “spaces” is a chilly slow-jam, content with pausing at sparse plateaus before continuing its plunge to cavernous depths.  listen below.

kedr livanskiy – “love & cigarettes”

– featured image courtesy of liza zubkova –

moscow-based producer kedr livanskiy released a fluid, remarkable introductory body of work in last year’s january sun; on september 8th, the artist born yana kedrina will offer up her debut full-length, ariadna, via 2mr.  after sharing the album’s title track earlier this summer, livanskiy has teased more of her upcoming work with “love & cigarettes.”

bearing many hallmarks of livanskiy’s aesthetic, “love & cigarettes” briefly flirts with the distant echo of a lead vocal before veering off into a complex, hypnotic rhythmic territory.  the vocals and their brassy synth chaperone are later granted a reprise, turning a five-minute track into a compact sandwich of livanskiy’s dance and pop influences.

take a listen to “love & cigarettes” below.

kedr livanskiy – january sun

– featured image courtesy of liza zubkova –

staying on top of every new release is hard.  staying on top of every new release is even harder when your blog uses language that suggests multiple people are cogs in the machine, but really you’re just flailing helplessly by yourself, trying not to drown in a heavily-saturated inbox.  “fashionably late” is a remedy, an intermittent feature designed to showcase particularly special albums or eps that evaded us (there i go again) during their structured press cycle.  first up is the intimate, surprisingly cozy effort from russian producer kedr livanskiy.  have at it.

press play on kedr livanskiy’s debut ep, january sun, and a rich bass synthesizer immediately filters through both stereo channels before gradually becoming muffled, as if someone placed a thick pillow over its output source.  perhaps it’s due to the title or perhaps it’s livanskiy’s backstory, with its harsh, desolate imagery of russian winter threaded through the narrative, but the opening seconds of “razrushitelniy krug (destruction cycle)” initially registered as austere and unforgiving, foreshadowing a hypothetical soundscape that would reflect the environment it was sculpted in.  the rest of the song – and january sun, for that matter – couldn’t be more contrary to that notion.

using a relatively simple palette of muted drum programming, mournful synth pads, throbbing bass lines, and reverb-soaked, obscured vocals, livanskiy creates a six-song cycle of underground dance music that thoroughly explores facets of every 1990’s act she admits being indebted to: the haze of mazzy star; the introspection of boards of canada; the volatility of aphex twin.  the end result certainly isn’t bright, but it does feel familiar, a surefire source of comfort for when temperatures inevitably plunge once again.

kedr livanskiy january sun cover

january sun is probably best-enjoyed in one sitting;  although the ep isn’t through-composed, the jarring chord changes on its title track don’t feel nearly as ominous when they’re not immediately followed by the unchecked kinetic energy that comes tumbling out of “otvechai za slova (keep your word),” while “winds of may” and “sgoraet (burning down)” work in tandem to precipitate the latter’s explosive coda.

the phrase “kedr livanskiy” translates from the russian to lebanese cedar, a type of tree repeatedly referenced in the bible that can also be traced back even further in written history to ancient sumerian culture and religion.  while it’s completely possible that the moniker is at least somewhat informed by livanskiy’s given name, yana kedrina, it’s much more fanciful to imagine her work as analogous to this storied, revered artifact.  and maybe it is; january sun is largely predicated on music influential at the beginning of livanskiy’s life, and there are noticeable elements with origins that predate her birth.  these staying forces have endured an admittedly brief but sensory-overloaded lifetime to inform a nostalgic collection of woozy house music that at times feels more like an intimate retrospective than the ambitious, transformative debut that it truly is.

maybe it’s overly ambitious to stack the historical significance of livanskiy’s moniker against the significance of the timbres that molded her core ideology.  maybe it’s paradoxical to consume an ep so indebted to desolate frozen tundras in the dead heat of summer.  it is clear, however, that there’s no single correct lens through which to view a body of work that emits this type of immediacy.  january sun feels like music rewardingly scribbled down as therapy, an explanation of self.  the catharsis yana kedrina undoubtedly felt while crafting these songs resonates deeply in their final form; its strength and pertinence will only grow as leaves become crisp and the winds begin to bite yet again.

pillar point – “dove”

pllr pnt
photo courtesy of the artist

pillar point’s sophomore full-length marble mouth is already among this year’s stand-out bodies of work, with scott reitherman fastidiously doubling down on his dark yet invigorating brand of dance music.  one of the album’s sturdiest singles, “dove,” was recently tapped by director jacob krupnik to use in a vogue-centric music video that follows kia labeija through the streets of bogotá, colombia in pursuit of an elusive lover.  the video premiered on the creators project earlier this week; navigate there to read more about the project’s history and then watch the clip for “dove” below.

pillar point – marble mouth

Cover-hires
out january 22nd via polyvinyl records

scott reitherman’s self-titled debut as pillar point in early 2014 read as a successful reinvention.  a dark undercurrent coursed through equally-murky pop constructs, molding an ominous presence that all but dared listeners to either furiously dance or studiously absorb its lyrical content; multi-tasking was not a feasible option.  but it turns out that pillar point was just the tip of that particular iceberg.  on his sophomore follow-up, marble mouth, reitherman plunges into the depths of his aesthetic and emerges with a refocused and incredibly urgent end result.

disconnected relationships are still very much a central tenet of reitherman’s lyrics, but he’s more direct about these issues on marble mouth; the very title of “part time love” is a concession of the limitations geographical distance can put on even a committed romance, while “dove” fleshes out the subsequent strain and exhaustion from both parties.  these melancholic expressions soak into most of the album, though reitherman allows himself moments of catharsis on the sprightly penultimate cut “underground,” re-routing emotional weight to third-person narratives before letting loose with the resounding hook of “give me what you need / i’ve been working overtime.”

if pillar point was a pop album that occasionally ceded to reitherman’s dance-floor urges, marble mouth feels like the opposite.  pop constructs exist insofar as most songs have a discernible verse-chorus structure, but they’re routinely padded with firm indulgences into experimental textures and static harmonies.  tracks like “black fly on a white wall” and “lafayette” funnel observations on new surroundings through robotic vocal deliveries and punishing ostinato bass grooves before wandering off into uncharted musical territories, while “gloomsday” is a dreary homecoming built around radio samples and a frenetic amalgamation of agitated synth motifs and steadfast percussion.

outside production from of montreal’s kevin barnes and percussion contributions from members of washed out and kishi bashi help to keep marble mouth from becoming an insular extension of its predecessor, but reitherman of course deserves the lion’s share of credit.  if there’s any cop-out hedonism on this album, it’s buried miles-deep beneath extensive self-examination and an adventurous, eclectic sonic palette.

even the most accessible songs benefit from this meticulous writing process; “dove” rests its laurels on the polyrhythm interplay between strings and a four-on-the-floor beat while “playtime,” the album’s filthiest cut, uses its titular sample to foreshadow both the track’s eerie descending vocal melodies and its irresistible syncopations.

still, the most impressionable aspect of marble mouth is arguably its biggest outlier.  after an exhausting half-hour dance odyssey, reitherman slows the tempo and eliminates much of the accumulated textures for “dance like you wanna die,” a poignant finale for lilting hearts that wonders “is there a love song that cares / whose mind she’s on?”  this sudden juxtaposition is jarring, but it’s an integral piece in supporting the argument that scott reitherman has crafted the most earnest, and honest, album of his career.

 

pillar point – “dove”

pillar point
photo courtesy of megumi shauna arai

scott reitherman is slated to release his sophomore full-length as pillar point, marble mouth, on january 22nd via polyvinyl records.  after sharing the album’s brooding lead single,”part time love,” in late october, reitherman has deposited a second offering to digest before the year’s end.  “dove” is every bit as haunting yet cathartic as its predecessor, with dizzying arpeggiated cellos and a resolute drum beat pulsating through an eerie vocal sample of the song’s title.  its lyrics feel cleansing and therapeutic as well, perhaps a preview of thematics reitherman will suss out across the album’s duration.  check out “dove” below.

chvrches – every open eye

every open eye cover
out september 25th via glassnote

chvrches have always made it a point to exceed expectations.  their strong early offerings landed them both consistent critical acclaim and a record deal with a major label subsidiary, and the glaswegian trio embarked on an ostensibly exhausting world tour following the rave reviews of the bones of what you believe.

lauren mayberry sang pristine hooks over equally-pristine synth arrangements, songs swelled to pre-chorus heights before exploding into the mind-boggling refrain itself, and despite this meticulous attention to detail and production, most of bones retained a raw, emotive component not readily available on the surface of most synth-pop albums.  chvrches spent six months writing and recording every open eye earlier this year, an ambitious follow-up that chases the highs of its predecessor.

it’s a sensible practice to emulate a previous success, but chvrches toe the surprisingly fine line between emulation and replication.  “never ending circles” opens forcefully and soon crests to a chorus as titanic as the trio has ever penned, though the track reads as a slight misdirection.  the strength of “leave a trace” tides the album over for a bit longer, but every open eye eventually wavers dangerously close to mediocrity, a territory previously foreign to chvrches.

nevermind that “make them gold” has a title that seems to exclusively pander to this generation’s optimistic hashtag users; the song’s delivery is flawed, its vocal pacing sophomoric, and the refrain’s melodic contour – arguably the most crucial component of a chvrches song – is painful, a glaring misstep that somehow survived the cutting-room floor.  “make them gold” joins “empty threat” as the chief byproducts of a recording period that was a bit rushed and ultimately suffered from bouts of tunnel vision.  the anthems that dotted bones were almost accidental in magnitude, and chvrches certainly don’t bat a thousand when trying to capitalize on their arena-caliber potential this time around.

it’s a shame that those blemishes are placed at very strategically poor points on the album, because every open eye does host some of chvrches’ finest work to date.  “clearest blue” is the sprawling centerpiece that bones decidedly lacked, and martin doherty’s lead vocal on “high enough to carry you over” makes it one of the album’s most compelling components.  the final third of every open eye is more indicative of the pop anthems chvrches are now capable of constructing, and both “playing dead” and “bury it” tweak the trio’s tried and true songwriting blueprint to refreshing results.

by the time “afterglow” hits, chvrches have completed another victory lap, albeit one less smooth than previously experienced.  every open eye avoids the sophomore slump and provides chvrches with sufficient material for an even more massive tour, but it also suggests that the band should tread lightly and spend considerably more time on their subsequent output.  luck won’t always be on their side.

listen to a new song from yumi zouma

0030_yumi_zouma_chad_kamenshine
photo courtesy of chad kamenshine

we’ve done a rather poor job of masking our affinity for yumi zouma here at dimestore saints, so we’re appropriately elated that the band’s upcoming 12″ compilation for cascine features an unearthed track.  “right, off the bridge” is packaged with the rest of ep i, and on its surface the track mirrors the laid-back, guarded nature that defined yumi zouma’s early approach to songwriting.  as it progresses, however, “right, off the bridge” gradually cedes musical direction to the mindset that birthed the more anthemic hooks found across ep ii, signaling it as the perfect segue between the band’s two distinct chronological periods.  pre-orders for the ep collection are up now over at cascine’s webstore; stream “right, off the bridge” below.

listen to a new song from clark

clark’s eponymous album that he dropped last fall was a jarring experience, with dark, aggressive tones underscored by fervent drum programming.  his ethos shows no sign of subsiding; a follow-up ep entitled flame rave is due out march 23rd, and it’s prefaced by a new track called “silver sun.”  brash, brassy synths dominate early before losing their sense of identity to a cavalcade of other elements.  the song is an exercise in gradual ambiguity, a concept clark excels at rather well.  take a listen to “silver sun” below.