Isaac Ide’s not a perfectly taught guitarist. He spends most of his time drumming in another band, Morning Smoke. But when he picks up his chosen instrument for California Carpool, things take liftoff. It’s a lot like Zachary Cole Smith from DIIV’s technique of letting high-bending notes do the talking. There’s an exploration of space and a big energy-oriented dictation. This isn’t about chords of fancy patterns to write down by tab—this is about a song deciding its own course. With “only u”—the pick of Ide’s Beach Dreams demos—this project lands on something special.
Back in early 2013, loved-up nights had a new soundtrack. Rhye solved every bout of sexual awkwardness this side of the decade—people got it on to the soundtrack of two LA musicians making distinctly genre-bending soul music. Their successors appear to have arrived, although they come bearing an unlikely name: Cancer. This Danish pair know how to splice up the conscience. They stir and steam up at any given moment, and “Body on the Bones”—their second track to date—dives straight into intimacy.
“Weight of the World” is the second track from Dalston, London producer Charlie Tait, a.k.a. Cambio Sun, and it’s one that creeps up on the conscience. Initially it comes out like something that might’ve risen out from the basement of local haunt The Shacklewell Arms, the venue above which Tait resides. Ghostly and fragmented, its parts are hand-picked from completely different worlds. Reverb-struck guitars are summer playlist ready, but a thick fog of motionless synths runs against that. Tait’s falsetto isn’t a far cry from Justin Vernon‘s either, and when these strange alien fragments decide to link arms around midway through the track, something remarkable happens. “Weight of the World” isn’t deliberately obscure before it opens up, but the goldmine it reveals for a chorus is something worth holding out for.
When new London act Kero Kero Bonito spit truths about being “fresh,” they’re not messing around. A newly produced take from a mixtape released earlier this year is a fine introduction to their break-the-mold take on pop. Inherently forward-thinking and bustling with new ideas, this is a culture-clashing, ultra-daring opening gambit. Like a video game soundtrack come to life, the brilliance of “Kero Kero Bonito” is the way it mixes trivial things (“soda” and “spaghetti”), with real life grim details (“gun crime”). Every single word is blasted out with the same unhinged enthusiasm, joyful and carefree. Twisted pop music like this can be filed right next to PC Music in representing the sound of the future.
Shuffling pads and enough samples to render The Avalanches’ return pretty much pointless, the debut EP—The Graveyard of Ambition—from South London producer The Bedroom is as enlivened as they come. It’s a multi-angled beast of a release, bringing together tropical guitar lines and grandiose sax in opener “The Big Up,” and the kind of toneless, playful exercise in “Birthday Cake” that’d usually wind up in a Micachu and the Shapes release. This debut EP is loaded with ambition, and there’s a frustrated, bored-as-hell undertone to it all that gives it such fervor.
It’s difficult to pinpoint where exactly The Soft are going. A group now based in South London, they began by making pensive songs comprised mostly of electronics, but also relying on guitars. They’d range from gentle giants to great looming beasts. Eventually they found a temporary home on Ceremony and recorded the Uncanny Valley EP, a vastly underrated collection of songs that employed distant vocals to boost already colossal beings, shape-forming tracks that exist to guide the way. Some numbers recalled a more scatterbrained Gold Panda, while others linked up with the cacophony of Walls.
New single “Icaria” is another curveball altogether. Percussive to the extreme and more streamlined than anything they’ve done before, it’s also a darker, more thudding piece. It could have been made by a band completely unrelated to The Soft of last year. But that’s the thing: These guys are very young, learning their craft and discovering the endless, exciting swathes of electronic music just like any casual listener might. First they found the fringes, now they’re stampeding through the thick of it. It won’t be long before they forge formidable territory of their own.
South London producer Semi Precious has an interesting routine: He limits himself to a certain number of samples and, from there, he’ll freely roam in whichever directions he fancies. “Man without a Head” (one of five tracks out there) fuses a samba-like backing with high-pitched, echo-drenched vocals. “Shaky Skies” is even more interesting—bass ripples practically crumble into pieces, but a ghostly piano line and rhythmless vocal line give this already eerie piece a strangely comforting quality.
Two pristine tracks set the stall for Hertfordshire producer Darkly, a.k.a. Tom Butler. In some sense he’s playing the game, linking up with a whole crew of blog-friendly R&B-inclined pop prospects. But in “Touch” he applies something different, something vibrant worthy of a new perspective. Don’t expect this artist to follow fads or everyday phenomena—ten years down the line he’ll probably still be making music as deft and delicate as this.
Crashing into Earth with all the force of a team of comets, TOKEN mean business. The Canadian group, led by Anne Douris, waste no time in rising to the surface. “Meteor,” their debut track, is part power-pop ballad, part bedroom synth demo. The two combine like space objects obsessed with each other’s orbit.