Gavin Slate The Bedroom Hours

The debut EP of this Toronto-based performer is an extremely strong collection of melancholic acoustic pop songs, entirely recorded in Slate’s bedroom and sounding every bit as earnest as home recording is meant to sound. Though the instrumentation here is decidedly sparse — little more than acoustic guitar and voice, with occasional touches of violin and female vocals — the songwriting is ambitious in its structure. The opening "Influenced Confidence (Get Away),” is perfect example of Slate’s strengths, starting off small before exploding into an emotionally drenched finale. With a voice that sounds equally pretty and strained, Slate manages to avoid ever sounding too nice, a feat that helps keep his songs from verging too closely on pure pop music territory. In the end, however, it is the songs that carry this release, as they demonstrate both powerful and original songwriting, written and played with the utmost sincerity. (Independent)