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This Little Underground

Our local music critic takes on the 99 Percent Fest, True Widow, Emily Reo and more

Judging by her latest show in which she opened for Austra and Grimes (Nov. 1, Back Booth), it seems experimental dream-pop weaver Emily Reo, Orlando’s export to NYC (you’re welcome), has abated the noise in her sound quite a bit. On the positive side, it allows her melodies to step out and affect more. Instead of white snow, she now spins her intrigue inside circling echoes to heady effect. However, I do wish her singing would finally transcend diffidence once and for all the way her music is beginning to. No one’s saying she has to succumb to convention, but she’ll be on the next level once her singing has more conviction of performance.

In demeanor and look (e.g., giggly hipster fairy), I was expecting some out-there weird-girl pop with Canada’s Grimes.And although her songs always start out strangely, she eventually locks in to a compact groove that’s prettily precise. With a left-field heart but immediate fundamentals, her catchy synth-pop concision has just enough mood and edge but is surprisingly translatable on a commercial level, in a good way. If Luna Lovegood was a slightly fried European pop starlet, this is what she might resemble.

Katie Stelmanis’ learned singing is central to the music of Toronto headliner Austra. Even so, despite a full band, their live show heavily emphasized their vocal aspect with the addition of two backup singers. The result, essentially, is classical vocal mastery channeled into sophisticated synth pop.

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