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For the past two years, I’ve been flirting with the Indie scene. Just very underwhelmed and bored of the mainstream sounds of Pop, Electronica and Rock, the acts I’ve discovered have really excited me and re-invigorated my love for music. With all of the different sub-genres within the Indie scene, (which are generally just dumb titles that have no real merit) I started to wonder if there was such a thing as Indie R&B.

And without even actively searching, I heard a song on lastfm that totally caught my attention. The artist was How To Dress Well, and the song “Ready for the World” captivated me so much that I instantly had to get his full album “Love Remains“. Tom Krell of Brooklyn uses a very very lo-fi sound with highly distorted vocals to deliver one of the most fresh-sounding and unique albums I’ve heard in a while, and (to me) it totally fits into the idea of Indie R&B.

Songs like “My Body”, “Suicide Dream 2” and the aforementioned “Ready for the World” are really dreamy and ethereal, the vocals are so low and distorted it’s hard to make out what he’s singing about… but surprisingly the vibe is really clear. The melodies and multi-track harmonies are clearly inspired by some of the 90’s R&B I grew up with, calling to mind acts like R. Kelly, Boyz II Men, TLC even Sade and Maxwell. And the sequencing of the album works because you can listen from front to back and never be bored or feel like you’ve heard the same thing twice.

It’s a knock-out debut album, but not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea because of the sound quality, but it really works for me. It’s just different from anything you’ve heard before, but also sounds familiar based on the R&B influence. Definitely can’t wait to hear what he cooks up next. (while I was researching, I saw that he actually has a follow-up EP available now that I will most definitely be checking out)

3.5 of 5
Best: Ready for the World,  My Body, Can’t See My Own Face

Another EP that I’ve fallen completely in love with the past few months is by UK Producer Star Slinger, I’m at a slight disadvantage in this review because the album is credited to Teams vs. Star Slinger, but I can’t seem to find any info on Teams. I may be giving Star Slinger too much credit (and I haven’t heard any of his other material as of yet), but I love this EP.

Star Slinger seems to be heavily influenced by Kanye West and his genius of sampling. Every song on the “Teams vs. Star Slinger” EP contains a sample of a old soul song, some sped up, some highly edited, some samples played for extended periods. Star Slinger uses his samples so effectively and uniquely though that it’s clearl he’s inspired by Kanye but wants to make his own style (or maybe not!? lol!). At times the use of samples reminded me of the late 90’s French club acts like Stardust and Modjo, who also utilized samples of soul acts like Chaka Kahn.

Back to Star Slinger though, this album is perfect lounge-y music with enough beat and catchiness to dance to and remember for a while. I also found out about this outing via lastfm with the song “Say Please” which is clearly the best song on the EP. However, all 6 songs are ace and provide something refreshing and classic-sounding to the industry. The songs are all in the same vein, but each offers something a little different than the other and shows the producers skill at taking something and making it new and his own. Another act I’ll have to look out for.

4 of 5
Best: Say Please, Punch Drunk Love, The Yes Strut

I’m really curious after listening to these albums if there is more to explore in Indie R&B, and where I’m gonna start to look for it?