Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
Carmen Elle is one of those artists whose name you might not know, but as a long-time fixture in the local independent music scene, her resume not only reads familiar, but impressive: having previously spent time with the recent Polaris-shortlisted Austra, as well as The Cliks, Dance Yourself To Death, and Donlands and Mortimer, among others, the early-20s Toronto native is now at the helm of another new project, the two-piece Army Girls. They’ve yet to release more than a couple of tracks here and there, but it’s worth getting on board right now as they build up to the release of their debut EP.
The duo is rounded out by Andy Smith (also from Heartbeat Hotel) on drums, and together they’re both sweet and propulsive. We’re given just a taste of the twosome’s ability in the new seven-inch, one-song single “The Power,” a (please excuse the word) fierce garage-pop send-up that’s part ’60s-radio girl group, part grunge, and all-over irresistible. Elle is a skilled and intuitive guitarist (she got her start at age nine, with lessons and an endless instrument supply from her professional guitar-maker dad), and her voice—clear, powerful, a little ragged when she needs it to be—cuts through to the core. She coos and claws and at every turn—especially when she growls the line “the power you’ll never have on me”—you know she’s something special.
Producer Ben Cook (Fucked Up, Young Guv and the Scuzz) perfectly steered the band’s melodies through some terrific overdriven tones and some slight vocal layering on the pre-chorus, both precise and deliberate, but subtle, and key to the single’s sound. “The Power” is easily one of the best and most exciting singles out of Toronto this summer; it’s available for free download from their Bandcamp page, and if you’re left wanting more right away, check out their Soundcloud for a recent live recording.