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Aural Pleasure: Recent Releases from Emerging Artists

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“Slow Dancing,” Betty Who

Music festival season is in full swing and artists are releasing new material left and right. Spring is a time when budding artists are debuting their talents. Here are reviews for three albums to start you off as you begin to navigate through this profusion of new music. 
“Scavenger Hunt,” Scavenger Hunt
Earlier this month, L.A. based band Scavenger Hunt released their self-titled debut EP. Since its release, the EP has quickly garnered much attention in the indie-pop world. The buzz helped to spark a national tour, which includes a stop in Boston. The group will be opening for Capital Cities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Spring Fest 2014 on April 26.
The 6-track EP has a carefree and distinctly West Coast sound. The opening track “Lost” is a musical juxtaposition. The song’s jaunty mid-tempo melody is contrasted by lead singer Jill Lamoureux’s folksy vocals. “Bones” is next on the track list. The song is an interesting combination of slightly tribal-sounding percussion, echoing vocals, and musical effects that hint at R&B influences.
The group’s highly successful single “Dreamers” follows. Light and fun, the song is a perfect summer anthem. The album also includes a fresh, alt-pop cover of Kings of Leon’s “California Waiting.” The EP closes with remixes of “Lost” and “Dreamers” which both feature a distinctive electronic sound. Appropriately titled, “Scavenger Hunt” is sure to take listeners on a journey of musical discovery. 
“Slow Dancing,” Betty Who
Australian artist, Betty Who’s new EP “Slow Dancing” is an album for those looking for bubbly pop music with more depth than the average pop record. At only 22 years old, Betty Who has already seen success with her hit single “Somebody Loves You.” Who delivers once again with this peppy follow-up EP.
“Slow Dancing” opens on an energetic note with “Heartbreak Dream.” Fans of Katy Perry will appreciate Who’s similar vocal style, which includes soaring notes and airy falsettos. The next two tracks on the EP, “Alone Again” and “Giving Me Away,” sound like futuristic interpretations of deliciously gooey 80’s love songs. The last song on the EP, “Silas” stands in stark contrast to its predecessors. A heartfelt and gentle ballad, its minimal production and reflective lyrics demonstrate Who’s broad musical range. Youthful and spirited, the album is guaranteed to send listeners into a state of idyllic teenage bliss.
Betty Who will be performing at Brighton Music Hall in Allston, MA on April 17.
“Z,” SZA
Singer-songwriter SZA recently released third EP “Z,” which has quickly received much critical acclaim. Its mature sound, experimental elements, and emotive lyrics perfectly complement one another forming a powerfully thoughtful piece of work.
First up on the track list is the slow and sensuous “Ur.” SZA’s mellifluous voice gracefully follows the song’s tonal undulations. After “Ur” is “Childs Play,” which features XXYYXX’s popular chillwave instrumental “About You.” SZA teams up with Chance the Rapper on this track, adding their own spin to the record by way of mellow vocals and clever wordplay. On these tracks and others, SZA experiments with a variety of synthesizer effects and vocal techniques. The track “Julia,” for example, is satisfyingly synthy and SZA’s impassioned wailing gives the track auditory depth.
Songs further down the track list like the atmospheric “Green Mile” and the haunting “Shattered Ring” reveal a controlled agony. “Babylon,” the album’s standout track, is both bitterly dark and painfully honest. The song features Kendrick Lamar who executes his verse with lyrical finesse. For those seeking something soulful and innovative, “Z” is a welcomed change of pace. 
All of the featured albums are available for purchase on iTunes.