Kevin Hein - Golden Breeze Troposphere

On GAUZE II Kevin Hein creates a beautiful set of ambient, drum machine driven tracks. Golden Breeze Troposphere proves to be one of the definite standouts from this new cassette.

While every song on GAUZE II is worth sharing, Golden Breeze Troposphere is one of the prettier ones on this tape. Gentle drum machine patterns sound off in the distance as guitars begin to layer and fill up empty space. Detail is always something Hein pays attention to in his work and this new release isn’t any different. The set of guitar effects he uses allows the layered synths to mesh and fit into place perfectly. Their textures play off of each other beautifully and really make this track shine. Subtle growth is also a common theme in his music and what starts off sort of hollow ends dense and intricately layered. There’s a strong sense of patience and restraint in Hein’s work and that’s what ultimately makes it feel so beautiful.

Grab a free download/cassette copy of GAUZE II through the link below.

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Tender Age - Mirrors

Pulled from Tender Age’s debut EP, Mirrors is a lush, slow burning track that packs a beautifully dreamy atmosphere.

Past its thick haze and reverb drenched vocals, Mirrors proves to be delicately crafted. Vocal harmonies play into the slow moving chords that push this track forward while guitar leads swim in this sea of sound. Synths are utilized perfectly as they’re buried deeper in the mix, giving the song an otherworldly atmosphere as those synth textures sound off in the back of your head. The drums really open things up, letting the song expand while also keeping all of these sounds in check. The simplicity in the percussion is almost necessary as to not distract from the amount of work put into crafting the details in the instrumentation, and that simplicity pays off. What’s most impressive about Mirrors, however, is how a song that comes off so open and expansive can also feel so dense and solid.

You can preorder the Anything 7”, which includes Mirrors as the b side, through Track and Field Records right here.

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Abi Reimold - your shoes

The closing track from Abi Reimold’s recently released EP, FORGET, is a beautifully raw piece of music that accomplishes a lot in a little bit of time.

Abi does an excellent job of building tension on your shoes, kicking off with slightly distorted guitars and softly sung vocals (though that’s not to say there isn’t strength in her voice) that are quickly joined by an urgent drum beat. The layered vocals Abi provides only heighten that sense of urgency. Tension really starts to build when we get to the repeated lyrics ("You kick off your shoes / You pull off your socks…") as the strength and emphasis behind these lines grow until the track comes crashing down. What’s beautiful about Reimold’s vocal presence is that it feels as if she’s floating right over the distortion even during the more chaotic moments. It almost comes off as triumphant in a way.

All of this adds up to create the perfect closer for an already fantastic EP. Grab a free download through the link below. 

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Julie Byrne - Melting Grid

While plenty of sites have been talking about Julie Byrne’s (fantastic) Rooms With Walls and Windows, it seems that this gem has been left behind. Julie’s contribution to Holy Page's Trilogy compilation hits just as hard as any track on her debut.

Melting Grid features beautifully picked guitars and a synth that smoothly comes into focus at key moments to create something truly spectacular. Of course, Byrne’s songwriting is a main part of what makes this song so special. It feels as if every single line is quotable, “I exist to be dreaming still” and “Would you ask my permission the next time you absorb me?”, being a few of my personal favorites. Julie’s vocals play off of the acoustic guitar to create a harmony between these elements that’s truly moving. Everything seems to fall into place as if the track were meticulously crafted, yet there’s still a very real and human quality to it, which is what makes it so beautiful.

Trilogy One was released in 2013 but there are still copies available to purchase through the link below. Along with Melting Grid, there’s another Julie Byrne track as well as contributions from Filardo and Ever Ending Kicks. I highly recommend that you pick up a copy.

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arrange - Home

Last week arrange dropped a new single from his forthcoming record, Their Bodies in a Fog, his first new (solo) record since 2012’s New Memory. Home honestly surpasses any expectations I had set and sounds refreshing even after repeated listens.

On Home we have Malcom in a similar environment to his previous work, down-tempo beats paired with thick synths that create a compelling atmosphere. There’s a definite growth in sound and the way Malcom builds on the elements present in this track really proves that. Everything meshes together perfectly, every movement, every detail, they all seem to effortlessly flow into each other. The addition of the brass section toward the end of the song is beautiful and unexpected but it’s a seamless addition to the track. Malcom’s vocals are as bare, raw and vulnerable as ever but hearing them in this context allows you to appreciate them more than ever. If every track on the new record is as beautifully constructed as this one, Malcom could easily be releasing one of my favorite albums of the year.

Their Bodies in a Fog is set to drop on March 4th through Orchid Tapes.

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SoftSpot - You \ Yours

Brooklyn based SoftSpot have been steadily releasing music on their bandcamp page since 2011. After a quiet 2013 they’ve dropped the first single from their upcoming record, MASS. Admittedly, I was pretty late to SoftSpot, hearing them for the first time at a show earlier last year, but this new single captures everything I loved about that live set.

You \ Yours almostfeels theatrical in its presentation. There are movements in this song, shifting from slow paced and reverb heavy guitars to crashing drums and urgent, choppy chords. The transitions between these movements are seamless and the way SoftSpot presents all of those elements just feels logical. Of course, Sarah Kinlaw’s vocals are a huge part of what makes SoftSpot so great. There’s an ethereal quality to her voice as it floats over the track as well as a hint of darkness that really brings out the color found in the instrumentation.

SoftSpot will be releasing MASS on April 8th through their bandcamp page which is linked below.

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Here it is, 100 records that were very special to me throughout 2013.

Click here to see the list.

I’d also love to discuss some of your favorites as well.

Hit me up on twitter (@heartsoulblog) and share some records with me.

Hope you enjoy!

Euphoria Again - Tied

On his recently released self titled record, Euphoria Again (John Forrest Klein) crafts some beautiful and stripped down lofi pop songs. Tied feels like one of the strongest tracks on the record, perhaps due to the bare feeling it evokes from its more simplistic structure.

The lyrics are able to truly take the spotlight in this song as John’s vocals float over this nearly bouncy guitar. There are subtle hints of backing vocals (provided by Coma Cinema/Elvis Depressedly’s Mat Cothran) that chime in at just the right moments on this track, elevating the mood that’s created in the lyrics and production. The most important thing to note, however, is how great of a songwriter John is. Lyrically, Tied (as well as the record as a whole) is extremely strong and emotive. John’s vocal delivery matches his songwriting perfectly and makes the entire thing feel extremely honest and pure.

You can download the entire album through the link below and if you’re looking for a physical copy, Orchid Tapes did a run of 50 cassettes. You can find those here.

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Frozenboy - Dim Lights

With the opening lyrics, "Winter came like a killer from an alleyway," Frozenboy (Sam Wintermantel) introduces himself on a recently released 3 way split cassette (Euphoria Again / Mormon Toasterhead / Frozenboy) on Sad Tapes. It’s a strong introduction and while these seem to be Sam’s first tracks, there’s a very present sense of maturity here. Not to mention he comes off as a fantastic songwriter.

The other three tracks Frozenboy offers on this split could very well be just as great as Dim Lights, but there’s something about the composition of this song that strikes me as special. There’s a feeling of urgency in these layered acoustic guitars that pushes the song forward and really brings out the mood found in the lyrics and their delivery. Sam knows how to make the most out of a little and as a result this track feels bigger than it probably should, given the equipment used to record it.

I could honestly go on and on about how much I love this song but it really just needs to be heard. Those closing lyrics get me every time.

"Winter came and then brought me to my knees. No one wants my seasonal disease."

Click through below for a download of the entire split and grab a physical copy right here.

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Florist - My Bones

Florist is a recently formed band (fronted by Emily Sprague) who released a lovely collection of tracks earlier this year that I was turned on to thanks to Rachel Levy (R.L. Kelly). The opener from their album, We Have Been This Way Forever, proves to be one of my favorites after repeated listens.

My Bones kicks off with smooth guitars and are soon joined by Emily’s equally smooth voice. As the track progresses it sort of grows and blossoms into a beautifully textured pop song with layers of catchy guitars and subtle vocal harmonies. A delightful bass groove kicks in as well, sort of completing the picture, and everything else falls into place. There’s just a perfect balance between clean and distorted textures and this balance is found all over this album, making it a fantastic listen.

Unfortunately, the cassette version of We Have Been This Way Forever already sold out but the digital version is still available to purchase/stream through the link below. It’s well worth your time. 

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