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.
For a couple of years, London band Our Mother have been whittling down their primary elements. Heavy chunks of sound have been chiseled away at, to a point where original components resemble a razor-sharp ice sculpture. “Fire Fire” is, contrary to its title, cold as ice, but it packs a warm heart beneath its gung-ho sense of precision. Unmistakably a pop song, it’s delivered with ultimate awareness—not a second goes by without it having been checked, looked over, and scanned through customs.
Newly signed to Young Turks, Quirke has been a completely unknown producer (up until now) specializing in tense, nerve-shredding electronics. “Break A Mirrored Leg” is taken from the producer’s debut EP, Acid Beth. Like unearthing layer upon layer of darkness, it’s a track that’s endless in its desire to morph into something even more terrifying than what appeared in the previous second. There’s that darkness, but it’s balanced out with a strange euphoria, like losing your senses in an unknown place alongside complete strangers.
Kyle Kimono is a new band operating out of Sweden, responsible for tightly-wound, escapist-friendly dream pop. On “Sauna,” guitars overlap like hurried feet racing each other to a finish line. There’s urgency, but there’s also an undying desire to lay back and take everything in. Kyle Peña’s outfit is most definitely taking part in a post-Beach Fossils routine, but this one’s rich and full of potential.
What’s in a good pair of shorts? There needs to be a sensible amount of leg room. Some people can pull off the ultra-tight short look, but these people either need to be full-time residents of Coachella or at least good at playing tennis. Have these things hanging loose and you’re onto something. New York group Shorts like to play loose. Their dreamy routine is concerned with overlapping guitars, starry eyed dreamer chants. On debut EP Berlin 1971, they flick a nostalgia switch and run out to the hills with sun-kissed filters lacing each of their tracks. It’s more effective than strutting down city streets with a pair of hot pants, that’s for sure.