June Kang (vocals, guitar), Thuy-Duong Le (vocals, synthesizer), Ryan Simon (guitar).
Sounds like: What My Bloody Valentine is hiding under all those layers of fuzz.
For fans of: Slowdive, Galaxie 500, the Raveonettes, Sofia Coppola movies and, yes, My Bloody Valentine.
Why you care: June Kang refuses to use reverb as a crutch. Funny, given that Soft Shadows' debut is titled Reverb Is For Lovers. "Everyone is expecting such a wet album," the 19-year-old says. "I wanted to give them something different." In the band's previous incarnation, under the name Sundaze, Kang says he used effects and volume to mask deficiencies in the songwriting. Now, he's more confident letting the music exist without all the distracting accoutrements. As well he should: If the earlier material was "dream pop" in the lightheaded, disorienting sense of the term, Reverb is of the more lucid variety, weightless without being formless, and utilizing just the right amount of distortion to give the songs dynamic punch. And, on occasion, the record simply rocks. The overdriven "Cheap Signals" is a fuzz-saw in the vein of the Jesus and Mary Chain, while on the noirish "A Soft Night," Kang and Thuy-Duong Le's lightly exhaled vocals blur into a single androgynous whisper. None of which is to say the next Soft Shadows release won't sound completely different. "I go through stages of playing something for six months, then I never want to hear it again," Kang says. That mercurialness extends to his life decisions: He's contemplating leaving Portland for L.A. soon. "That's how life is. Everything just goes," he says. "Girlfriends, wives, husbands—everything is gonna go, anyway."
SEE IT: Soft Shadows plays Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with WL, on Thursday, Jan. 16. 9 pm. Free. 21+.