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

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premiere – pat moon

– featured images courtesy of the artist –

perhaps you’ve come across accolades for pat moon on this website before; if so, allow us to indulge a bit.  2016’s don’t hide from the light is a timeless debut, eight songs of spectral, ambient pop that provide a window into kate davis’ synth-driven aural dreamscape.  the portland-based musician announced a follow-up album, romantic era, earlier this spring, a highly-anticipated release that will arrive may 18th.

in contrast to the murky, haunting lead single “medieval spells” lies a more crystalline offering from romantic era, “spiraling.”  crystalline is, of course, a relative term; in the realm of pat moon, vocals will always stack to the stratosphere, a hazy choir that smears into similar synth timbres.

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“spiraling,” with its shuffling percussion and glassy arpeggiations, is quintessential pat moon, the project in its finest form.  the track’s back half unravels ever so slightly and slowly, embodying its title while peeling back outer layers to expose an even more pensive core.  “spiraling” premieres today, right here on the dimestore.  get lost in the excellent new track below.

pat moon – “medieval spells”

– featured image courtesy of kyle j. reigle – 

pat moon’s 2016 debut don’t hide from the light is proving to be one of the decade’s most enduring records.  kate davis’ spectral synth soundscapes are equally perfect for muggy summer evenings and bone-chilling winter mornings, the rare album that feels intimately applicable to one’s surroundings year-round.

later this spring, davis will release a follow-up, romantic era.  beyond title and timeframe, information is scant, but the announcement was made in tandem with the release of a new single; “medieval spells” evolves methodically, a cavernous choir slowly layered over murky synth beds comprising its positively haunting architecture.  it’s a fascinating preview of romantic era, one that further blurs the line between meditative and hypnotic with every repeated listen.  hear the track below.

most anticipated albums of 2018

featured image courtesy of minimally minimal –

as 2017 draws to a close, we naturally shift our focus to 2018 and the bevy of albums slated to be released throughout the year.  admittedly, the following list largely focuses on albums due out in the first quarter, with a couple of pipe dreams sprinkled in.  for those still trying to soak up as much of 2017 as possible, check out our favorite releases of the year here.  for those looking to forge ahead, read on.  links to pre-order are embedded if available.

rhyerhye – blood (february 2nd || loma vista)

three strong singles have thus far precluded rhye’s long-awaited sophomore full-length.  after returning this summer with “please,” rhye closed out 2017 with the supple one-two punch of “taste” and “count to five.”  if the samplings and album art are any indication, mike milosh’s work remains as intimate and sensual as ever.

 

Hovvdy Cranberryhovvdy – cranberry (february 9th || double double whammy)

austin duo hovvdy released one of 2016’s most enduring – and endearing – albums in taster.  cranberry, their first since signing to the venerable double double whammy, seems poised to flesh out the warm, lived-in aura that permeates their disarmingly honest work.  case in point: lead single “petal” drips with nostalgia, its assured pace gently giving way to tender falsetto.

 

quiet friendquiet friend – quiet friend (march 9th || elestial sound)

after years of releasing music by himself under the moniker mister lies, nick zanca has shifted into collaborative mode to build quiet friend with steven rogers.  the duo, along with a rotating cast of other contributors, sculpt an audiophile’s dreamscape; lead single “safe” is a whirlwind, but is also just a hint of what quiet friend have in store throughout their self-titled debut.

– other notable releases – 

a grave with no name – passover (january 19th || forged artifacts)

nadine – oh my (january 26th || father/daughter)

triathalon – online (february 16th || broken circles)

s. carey – hundred acres (february 23rd || jagjaguwar)

lucy dacus – historian (march 2nd || matador)

half waif – lavender (tbd || cascine)

helena deland – tba (tbd || luminelle)

ness nite – dream girl (tbd || pow recordings)

pat moon – tba (tbd || track & field)

yours are the only ears – tba (tbd || team love)

 

premiere – haunt

haunt band
photo courtesy of the artist

the members of haunt may now split their time between los angeles and portland, but the project’s genesis is rooted in a childhood friendship cultivated in laguna beach.  since forming a year ago, the duo has been stockpiling a collection of nocturnal pop songs that harness many of the salient attributes of chillwave but are examined through a sharply-focused lens.


haunt will release their latest ep, crush, on may 6th via portland-based track and field records.  a short, intimate glimpse into the ep’s construction can be viewed above; below, you’ll find the premiere of its lead single, “perfume,” awash in gorgeous organ tones and armed with a subtle yet infectious hook.  listen in.

dear tracks – “soft dreams”

photo4u
photo courtesy of the artist

grand rapids indie poppers dear tracks are set to release a new ep, soft dreams, on february 26th via furious hooves and track and field records.  the title track of the quartet’s forthcoming effort is also a fitting finale, with aqueous guitar textures trickling through a hazy, c86-indebted soundscape that serves as a beautiful composite of dear tracks’ lush aesthetic.  with dreamy vocals that sit just right in the mix, it’s hard not to get lost in this one.  take a listen to “soft dreams” below.

 

cemeteries – barrow

cemeteries barrow
out july 28th via snowbeast records/track & field records

a cross-country move can be daunting, but it often proves to be a cleansing experience as well.  kyle reigle recently pulled up his roots in buffalo, new york and ventured west to portland, oregon; this transplant was one of many factors that inspired his third record as cemeteries, the sprawling and cavernous barrow.

reigle’s voice sighs with just enough spacious reverb to flirt with the realm of dream pop, but i’m more inclined to file barrow away with releases like port st. willow’s holiday, where dreamy vocals are a secondary consequence of lush, ornate soundscapes.  this aesthetic approach is immediate; opening number “procession” is a comparatively brief ancillary to “nightjar,” providing the necessary textures and harmonic information.  the descending melody that then defines “nightjar” culminates in dissonance, perhaps a nod to the personal disconnect of trying to function in new surrounds or to reigle’s fascination with witchcraft, but the persevering nature of the track’s drum part is hard to ignore, and foreshadows the overall consonance of barrow.

many songs on barrow follow a similar blueprint: a main motif, often delivered via synthesizer, powered by percussion.  reigle avoids monotony, however, in how these motifs permutate.  on “can you hear them sing” it quickly buries itself deep in the texture, only to emerge again in lieu of any sort of structured, hook-driven vocal chorus.  on “cicada howl,” the main motif is more stagnant, anchoring itself as the pillar around which reigle builds the rest of the song’s expansive textures.  it’s a simple exercise, really, and one that lends itself well to an album with any sort of overarching thematic tendencies, but reigle understands the nuances of this practice and executes it with aplomb.

barrow is a beautiful album.  it’s hard to not mince words when trying to adequately describe a body of work, but reigle’s latest effort embodies that adjective well.  “luna (moon of claiming)” and “sodus” anchor the album and display the full spectrum of emotions that cemeteries is capable of conveying, from swaths of childhood nostalgia to heartbreak to hesitancy to undeniable triumph.  but it’s all the spaces in between, like the bleary ambiguity of “i will run from you” and the unexpected incessant arpeggiations in “empty camps” that really tie barrow together.  save this record for a night of solitude, when you can afford to slip on a pair of headphones, close your eyes, and disappear.

listen to a new song from cemeteries

cemeteries
photo courtesy of the artist

kyle reigle is gearing up to release barrow, his newest album as cemeteries, on july 28th via snowbeast and track and field records.  last month we were made privy to “sodus,” the album’s sweeping penultimate track, and yesterday reigle unveiled a second single.  “luna (moon of claiming)” is similarly cinematic, a somber four-note piano motif persisting throughout the song’s wide ebbs and flows.  take a listen to “luna (moon of claiming)” below.

listen to a new song from cemeteries

cemeteries
photo courtesy of the artist

the final third of “sodus” swells to cinematic heights, becoming emblematic of the influence late-1980s soundtracks have had on kyle reigle’s output as cemeteries.  the recent portland, oregon transplant is slated to release a new album, barrow, july 28th via snowbeast and track and field records; “sodus” is the first single culled from that project, and should function well in its penultimate placement on the album’s track list.  the grand, ethereal gestures that define the song’s latter stages are grown organically from melodic fragments that gradually bleed together in cavernous reverb, but “sodus” is truly held together by reigle’s downtrodden sighs that weave effortlessly through the track’s dense textural thicket.  get lost in the new single from cemeteries below.