Jordan Lee has spent the last few years moving from Ohio to Austin to Boston, and most recently Brooklyn, running the wonderful Kassette Klub label, touring with friends' groups, and leading an amorphous project called Mutual Benefit, a one-man-band or a sprawling collective, depending on where he is and who is around that day. After releasing various limited edition EPs and playing scores of house shows, Lee completed his debut album, Love's Crushing Diamond, a record of lush, watery, pop songs, pieced together over the past several years and inspired by the kinetic energy, goodbyes, and blurred landscapes of life on the road. The songs are heartfelt and powerful with Lee's fragile and beautiful voice as the centerpiece, and the recordings are an instantly engaging blend of high and low fidelity, mixing lush studio productions, featuring keys, guitar, violin and banjo, with clattering homemade percussion and found sounds. While Lee is certainly the brainchild throughout, the album is very much a collaborative effort featuring contributions by friends and others met along the way.
Love's Crushing Diamond was initially going to be a cassette-only self-release. Then, it was going to be pressed as a limited edition, 250 LP run via vinyl-only label, Soft Eyes. However, after the Bandcamp posting of the album received growing recognition, including being the first-ever Bandcamp release to be named "Best New Music" by Pitchfork and a "Band to Watch" feature on Stereogum, it soon become apparent the album needed a proper release. Thus, Other Music Recording Co. stepped in to take the reigns—they will release the album on CD on December 3rd (January 13 in the UK/Europe); on LP on January 7th. The album is available digitally now. The first pressing of the CD and LP come with a free download code for Mutual Benefit's "Cowboy's Prayer" EP.
Dan Casey had a productive history making electronic music under the name Yalls until he grabbed a guitar to create demos as Steezy Ray Vibes. Casey dropped the alias (is it too soon to start making "The Artist Formerly Known As Steezy Ray Vibes" jokes?) for his melancholic bummer-pop-heavy debut album Empty City, to be be released via up-and-coming record label in late October.
"Dim Peaks, the new incarnation of somber-troubador Niilo Smeds music, is deceptively, almost gleefully simple. Built almost entirely on the simple strum of the guitar and the resonating timbre of Smeds voice, the songs, initially, don’t seem to take up a huge amount of space in your sonic memory. Instead the songs wile themselves in to the dusty corners, the dust-moted streaks of sunshine, the tiny room at the top of the stairs you might find yourself lingering about one musty summer afternoon. This is the dark side of your friend at a campfire, guitar in hand, a few drinks looser than they might need to be. Dim Peaks is exactly what I want hear from a guy, a guitar, and some gorgeous lyrics – soulful, attractive music, unfettered by pretentious noodling. With the backing of former The Mallard member Dylan Tidyman-Jones (who recently released his own solo album as FRONDS), there’s a thick, palpable feeling to this music, but it never feels false or put-upon. Simply stated, Niilo Smeds and Dim Peaks are something to keep an eye on." --sideonetrackone.com