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House Playlist: Sleigh Bells, Ifan Dafydd, & Julia Holter

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<em>House</em> Playlist: Sleigh Bells, Ifan Dafydd, & Julia Holter

Sleigh Bells, “Born to Lose.” The trailer for Sleigh Bells’ sophomore album, Reign of Terror, shows singer Alexis Krauss primping in front of a mirror while rocking a severe haircut and a military jacket. “Born to Lose” is animated by the same martial pulse, with Krauss singing over pummeling blastbeats and lurching power chords. The track is only differentiated from the duo’s established sound by its far slicker production: Treats’s everything-in-the-red approach was integral to its charm, adding to the impression that Sleigh Bells were a couple of kids fighting over scraps in the pop-music junkyard, but the sound here skews distinctly toward polished mall-metal a la Victory Records. Derek Miller’s alien guitar coda, which sounds like a huge machine powering down, shows that the group’s soundsmith still has an innovator’s mind, but it will be equally important that he hold on to his underdog’s heart. Matthew Cole

Ifan Dafydd, “To Me.” When the electro-hymn homage to Amy Winehouse “No Good” started circulating earlier this year, it was mistaken for a James Blake track, which makes sense since up-and-comer Welch producer Ifan Dafydd (pronounced Ee-van Da-vith, naturally) was once roommates with the acclaimed dubstep artist and cites him as a significant influence. “To Me,” a new track from Dafydd’s upcoming EP, finds him continuing to infuse bass music with distinctly baroque-pop flourishes; in addition to genre staples like repeated vocal samples and textured loops, a sweeping string sample that recalls Endtroducing…-era DJ Shadow is featured intermittently throughout. At the four-minute mark, Dafydd’s glitchy piano synchs up to the expansive 4/4 beat, the strings are allowed to fully unfurl, and the result is a sublimely heady rush. Sal Cinquemani

Julia Holter, “Marienbad.” The first cut from recondite folk chorister Julia Holter’s upcoming Ekstasis varies from the material on her last album, Tragedy, in an unexpected way: It’s a surprisingly gentle, ethereal, finely polished number that lacks the shadowy baroque-ness of Tragedy’s occult chamber hymns. Similar to the track’s namesake, Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad (which shares something in common with Holter’s delivery in that it can initially be a relatively hard pill to swallow), the heavenly “Marienbad” is a dreamlike experience, proving that Holter’s delicate voice and music have matured far beyond expectation. Mike LeChevallier

House Playlist is a series dedicated to highlighting our favorite new singles, leaked songs, and album tracks.