Who: PartyNextDoor and Majid Jordan might be the focus of the spotlight on Toronto's R&B scene thanks to the OVO look, but much of the city's rising rank of soulful youngthings are actually accessible artists, playing shows in and around the city and collaborating with others. One of these new voices is a l l i e, an HW&W (Kaytranada, Ta-Ku) signee who has spent the past couple of years honing a sound that pairs layered, honey-toasted harmonies with askew sonics that ripple, twist, shimmer and snap. Take the gorgeous "Maharaja," an intense slow-burner in the vein of Madlib and Erykah Badu's "The Healer," which was produced by Elaquent, a fellow Canadian and HW&W labelmate. Much of the rest of her music, including her November EP Strange Creature and the brand new single "Private Island," is made in partnership with a l l i e's constant stage partner, 2nd Son. The bass-y rub of "Private Island" is particularly interesting because it inadvertently references another moment in Toronto's R&B history, filling the void left by dembow&B originators Bonjay. An EP and LP are on the way. ANUPA MISTRYSounds Like: Groove Theory, Dwele, Marsha AmbrosiusWhere to Start: "Maharaja" is so groovy and aesthetically sure of itself that you'd think it was conceived in Philly in the early '00s.
Who: Benjamin Booker makes music that sounds like someone threw a match into a box of fireworks: bright, furious, explosive garage rock that's liable to set a house on fire. Fighting out of New Orleans, the 24 year-old has already played Letterman and Conan and been tapped to open for Jack White on his latest string of dates — all absent a debut album, which finally arrives on August 19th via ATO Records. Roiling with bloozy guitar licks, soaring Hammond organs, and Booker's moonstruck vocals — dude's a howler, yet his scuffed up croon is equally compelling on smoky ballad "Slow Coming" — the self-titled release may end up a contender for rock record of the year. GARRETT KAMPSWhere to Start: Crank "Violent Shiver" at your next house party. It'll liven the place up, if not burn it down altogether.[videoembed size="full_width" alignment="center"][/videoembed]
Who: With each of her albums, aural terrorist Elizabeth Bernholz experiments with identity, and her latest as Gazelle Twin not only feels the most viscerally scary but appears to cut closest to the bone. For September 22's Unflesh album, the Brighton, England artist invariably dons a blue P.E. hoodie (as in the sort you wore in high-school gym) and a series of face-blurring masks. Seen in videos and album art, the character has perpetually soil-encrusted fingers, can creepily levitate, and speaks both silently and verbally to some deep, dark past trauma. To wit, over the post-industrial techno hellscape of "Anti Body," she rattles off a wholly worrisome patter of mutterings: "Burying the fear, stifling the cry / It's not like they said, best time of your life / Giving all you can, love you till you're dead." Bernholz is a member of U.K. label/collective Anti-Ghost Moon Ray, who are doing their part to keep pop fucked for those of us with a fetish for the weird stuff. CHRIS MARTINSSounds Like: "All my cooped-up rebellion, mischief, bravery, phobias and fears," in Gazelle Twin's own words. Though to us, her music resembles a mutant beast raised in Oneohtrix Point Never's uncanny valley, fed a strict diet of old Nine Inch Nails cassettes and Death Grips .ZIPs, ridden by a staff-wielding EMA. More or less.Where to Start: The "Anti Body" video, below.[videoembed size="full_width" alignment="center"][/videoembed]
Who: A group of reformed Copenhagen punks who have as much love for Oasis as they do the Germs. Singer Adrian Toubro was raised on the swooning, emotive pop music of Leonard Cohen and David Bowie; after an EP-length detour through clangorous, roughshod post-punk in the Pop Group mold, Lower has now swung back toward the more delicate predilections of their frontman's youth. On Seek Warmer Climes, the foursome's first proper full-length, Toubro and co. pair turbulent, shimmering art rock with roiling and recoiling lyricism, creating a brand of neo-Platonistnoise-punk that's as romantic as it is melancholic. COLIN JOYCESounds Like: Echo and the Bunnymen, Iceage, MorrisseyWhere to Start: The barking, aspirational post-punk of "Lost Weight, Perfect Skin."[videoembed size="full_width" alignment="center"][/videoembed]
Who: Derek Stanton, former frontman of the now-defunct psych-punk threesome Awesome Color, currently leads a new off-kilter power trio dubbed Turn to Crime. Based in Detroit, the pop'n'roll project was originally conceived as a solo ambient venture before local musicians Ian Saylor and Dorian Foerg joined on bass and synths/guitars, respectively. The outfit's recently released debut album, Can't Love, does make time for droney passages, but the seven-track effort also crumples up a slew of styles and genre conventions: starry-eyed swoon-rock, instrumental post-punk, blistering garage-scuzz, and winsome Krautrock, all grafted together to form a dynamic hodgepodge that resists classification. KYLE MCGOVERNSounds Like: Sonic Youth and Jim O'Rourke in some places, Lou Reed in othersWhere to Start: "Sunday's Cool," the sashaying lead single from Can't Love, is a wheezy, whimsical beauty.