2016

A PLAYSTATION 4 EXTRAVAGANZA: THE SLIM AND THE PRO
September 9, 2016 1:02 pm

Time has moved pretty quickly since the release of the Playstation 4 in 2013. But this week two new Playstation 4 models have been announced named the Playstation 4 Slim and Playstation 4 Pro.

I won’t go into the long debate of whether we need these upgrades now, but it has been three years into the life span of the PS4 and a normal consoles gets to 10 years of age before becoming obsolete. With that said, a slimmer cheaper model was bound to happen, easier for the consumer to use and take care of, cheaper and yet still perform just as well as previous models. Go here for a specs comparison of the three different models, the original, the Pro and the Slim.

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Original ————- Slim ————- Pro

The real intrigue from this week’s announcements is in the Playstation 4 Pro. This is a powerful machine that rivals gaming PCs and yet comes at a very competitive price while including a handful of features. The Pro will not only play games at a much smoother rate and performance level, it will be capable of streaming HDR and 4K capable content. If you don’t know what those are, check out a quick explanation of HDR and 4K to catch up on the latest tech.

Netflix has announced that it will have over 600 hours of 4K content, and now you will have somewhere to watch it, if you also have a compatible TV of course.

Certain games will also be HDR and 4K ready down the road, including Spider Man, Watch Dogs 2, Horizon Zero Dawn, Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Battlefield 1, and Final Fantasy XV.

Do you think we need all this upgrading for a gaming system that still does its job fine? Are you planning on upgrading to a fast and more powerful PS4 Pro?

Here is what I would suggest. If you are a casual player, get the PS4 Slim, you have absolutely no need for the Pro now or the near future. If you love playing games and want the baddest/strong console available, buy the PS4 Pro ONLY IF you have a 4K and or HDR TV, otherwise it won’t really be any different. I am happy to see these two be announced, they are great additions to the Sony Playstation family, but they might have jumped the gun a little because the general public is still not at that level of high definition and need for speed.

The Playstation 4 Slim will be available on the 15th of this month for $299 and the Playstation 4 Pro will be available a little later this year on November 10th for $399.

FINALLY! FRANK OCEAN TO DROP ‘BOYS DON’T CRY’ ON FRIDAY!
August 2, 2016 3:20 pm

That’s right.  The wait is almost over.

In an article announcement Monday via The New York Times, Frank Ocean announced that Boys Don’t Cry, the follow up to 2012’s critically acclaimed Channel Orange, will drop Friday.

The album will be exclusive to Apple Music for the first two weeks, before wider distribution ensues.  Apple has recently arranged similar deals with big name artists including Drake, Future, and Chance the Rapper.

Leading up to the release, Frank has given us a cryptic trail of hints.  First an Instagram pic of an old due-date library card with dates stamped leading up to July 2016 with the message #BoysDontCry.

On Monday Frank Ocean also live-streamed a mysterious video on his website, which has since been taken down, hinting further that activity is in the works.  A director by the name of Francisco Soriano is taking credit for the video art, he also shot the video for Frank Ocean’s “Lost.”

But now with the various official announcements, we can only wait in anticipation for Friday and his new album.

RADIOHEAD: A MOON SHAPED POOL
May 10, 2016 11:35 am

Even if you’re only passively aware of what’s buzzing in the music world, it’s safe to say you’re well aware that Radiohead are back with a new album. Their ninth full-length, A Moon Shaped Pool, dropped this past Sunday after not-so-subtly hinting at a new album for months, and then causing the twitter-verse to go up in a flurry (of words) by momentarily disappearing from the internet completely.

Radiohead’s albums, from Ok Computer to Kid A, are often heralded for their ingenuity, introducing a vast swath of listeners to an entirely new sonic head-space; a concoction comprised of Thom Yorke’s mutant vocals which fluctuate between incomprehensible warbles and shimmering falsetto, alongside an ensemble of musicians that have been honing in on their chops since the 1990s. A Moon Shaped Pool takes classic Radiohead tropes and continue with a more effervescent periphery–and as many have already pointed out, it is more or less a reworking of older Radiohead songs.

The tracks on A Moon Shaped Pool ascend in alphabetical order, perhaps a cliche or sorts, but nonetheless a well-employed device to highlight the albums direction. The album opens with the single “Burn the Witch,” which was the first single teased along with its accompanying music video; which has opined several interpretations. Right off the bat you have one of the albums’ key features–the presence of dizzyingly frantic strings a la lead guitarist Johnny Greenwood (who also scored the spine-tingling soundtrack to P.T. Anderson’s There Will Be Blood). This polished orchestral approach was first manifested during Christmas when Radiohead threw their hat in the 007 theme song ring, by submitting Spectre (Although a valiant effort, the song fell just short of being selected, a distinction which ultimately went to Sam Smith for his song “Writing’s On the Wall“).

The second single “Daydreaming” was released this past Friday, showing a more emotionally tragic side to this album. The song features classic Radiohead piano chords and Thom Yorke’s eerie vocals singing “dreamers / they never learn / beyond the point / of no return.”  The video, directed by P.T. Anderson depicts a disoriented Yorke venturing through a labyrinth of various rooms, hallways and a parking lot, with seemingly no direction.

The album ends on the much more subdued “True Love Waits,” a song which has been in the band’s live repertoire since 1995, when they were touring on behalf of The Bends. Although its been a fan favorite for years, this is its first proper studio album release.

Of course, there are many more details to uncover, and that requires more listening. You’ll have to actually purchase this album though, as Radiohead wont be releasing A Moon Shaped Pool on Spotify anytime soon.

In the meantime if you’d like to catch Radiohead live in the United States, fuhgeddaboudit. I mean, seriously. Tickets are completely sold out at their standalone shows and your only other option is to catch them at a select number of festivals. Given the (unstable, irritable) nature of the hype leading up to their new album, demand to see the band live is through the roof, and tickets are being distributed, albeit second-hand market, at insane prices. The band even put out a statement cautioning speculative buyers from being fooled into scam-bait.

THE KILLS: DOING IT TO DEATH
April 27, 2016 11:00 am

The Kills still make music, apparently.

Ashe & Ice, their 5th full-length album, will drop via Domino Records on June 3rd. Fifth album? It’s interesting how bands and their music are often boiled down to just their bare essentials. Everything else evaporates like water vapor. I wasn’t even aware of 2011’s Blood Pressures existence. Thankfully, I don’t feel left out at all, but don’t take my bluntness as an insult. For me, two Kills records should be stamped and enshrined for propelling “indie” into mainstream consciousness: 2005’s No Wow, and 2008’s Midnight Boom. The Kills and contemporaries helped push the aesthetic of ‘indie rock’; a term that now describes a type of band and how they dress and showcase their art, than the kind of label charged with distributing their music. The Kills defined an indispensable era of music when hipness, was sacred.  And shallow.  Expression didn’t require action-driven results; just a fake leather jacket and can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.  We blasted The Kills in our dingy dilapidated habitation and wanted nothing more than to attain the decrepit authenticity of Alison “V.V.” Mosshart and Jamie “Hotel” Hince. Tracks like “Cheap & Cheerful“, “No Wow“, “Tape Song“, “U R A Fever“, “Sour Cherry“, were on high-rotation at those painfully awkward indie dance parties.

The Kills are a male/female two-piece that showcased their gritty appropriation of garage rock with nervous energy and an agitating display of sexual tension. They were fashionistas. They were purveyors of antiquated technology (their earliest collaborations involved mailing and exchanging ‘tapes’ with each other). Sound Pretentious? You wouldn’t be alone in your conviction. The Kills are a polarizing outfit. While always attracting a loyal following of devotees, other’s detested them as a White Stripes rip-off. And while the White Stripes did share the male/female guitar rock dichotomy, the Kills quickly defined their own sonic pallet: scratchy guitar, barren drum machine, and dry minimalism in the tradition of The Velvets and Suicide. The Kills might have borrowed from their idols, but they made it all their own.

In a recent interview Alison Mosshart claimed their next album will be “completely different“,  but I’m not convinced. Building up to Ashe & Ice, The Kills have released a pair of new singles with accompanying music videos: “Heart of a Dog“, and “Doing it to Death.” Neither of these tunes are bad. But I can’t help but think the latter of these two tracks defines what the Kills are doing with their music at this point. Indie rock, is like, so last decade, man. Look, no one’s frowning on you if you’re salivating over this upcoming record. Nor do they have any right too. Music judginess sucks, but it’s hard to shake off, we get it. I’m not a revered audiophile, I’ve never stepped inside a professional recording studio. Yet here’s the final score: my untuned ears are either having a horribly difficult time picking out the minutia that make up their “completely different” sound, or it’s just not there. And if it’s not, that’s perfectly fine. But don’t claim to be reinventing yourself when you’re really just trying to give us the same thing in fresh packaging.What once sounded fresh, and epitomized “cool”, now sounds dated. The Kills have stretched their garage rock sound far enough: They’re doing it to death.

If you’re one of the aforementioned Kills devotees, you’d best catch them live before they go back into hibernation (or go to Europe for the duration of their tour schedule).

THE KILLS: WHEN DOING IT TO DEATH IS A GOOD THING
April 13, 2016 11:04 am

The Kills came out with their first new single in 4 years last month.

It’s about damn time.

And the good news is “Doing it to Death” is sick. The new album Ash & Ice is slotted for a June 3rd release, and if their single is anything to base it off, we should be in for a treat.

Furthermore, their live show is straight bitchin.

Alison Mosshart (who you may know through her work with Jack White & The Dead Weather) and Jamie Hince have been working together since 2001 and it shows. They share an onstage chemistry that is truly infectious. These two clearly enjoy not just performing, but performing together. While Mosshart puts on a clinic of “How to Behave as a Lead Singer When Not Singing,” Hince plays the part of “the Rest of the Band.” Yes, The Kills do perform with a backing bassist and drummer, but the songs are still built around Hince’s ability to blend tones and textures into exciting songs. Mosshart brought a fiendish energy to the room with her vocals, and the two stomped all over the stage of Exit/In in Nashville.

Possibly the most refreshing aspect of the show was that it dispelled a slight worry about the new album. It’s evident that The Kills have moved a little out of the punk world and more into the indie one throughout their career. This is not an inherently bad thing, and frequently a band’s best work can occur at some point along this sliding scale, rather than at one end of it (see: Blood Sugar Sex Magik). But “Doing It To Death” could give some Kills fans pause. Simply put, it’s catchier than some of their older stuff. Emphasis on some. The Kills are no stranger to electronics – they started their career accompanied only by a drum machine. While some of the synth work may be a bit more forward in the mix, the effect is no different from that of the guitars on “Future Starts Slow,” the most successful song off their last record, Blood Pressures. And if you don’t think The Kills make catchy danceable songs, then you haven’t listened to “Getting Down” off 2008’s Midnight Bloom. Put it on now and thank me later.

The point here is not “The Kills make great catchy danceable tunes so why are you worried about them just doing that?” The point is that The Kills have always made great catchy danceable tunes in addition to the bluesy punky guitar and vocal centric tunes that they do SO well. They have no plans to let go of this side of their music, which they showed by performing songs like “Kissy Kissy” off their first album, 2003’s Keep On Your Mean Side. As much of their set was dedicated to getting the crowd moving, probably more was dedicated to getting the crowd feeling.

The Kills have been writing and performing together for 15 years. They are not getting worse at either of those things. They may continue to embrace a more centric style and production, but better that than forcing an aesthetic that is played out. The Kills continue to grow and evolve as a rock band, and we should all be excited for their next step.

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GOOD GRIEF BY LUCIUS UNLEASHES THE TWO-HEADED MONSTER
April 6, 2016 3:47 pm

What is it that we Americans say? Two heads are better than one. Case in point, Brooklyn’s Lucius, and their new album Good Grief. Equal parts dream pop and indie rock, Good Grief finds itself in a nice place—it somehow sounds both new and familiar. Solid production supports some good songs and a few great ones. The album fits squarely within current the indie pop realm, but sounds different enough that it doesn’t feel tired or played out.

Lucius jumped into the consciousness after the release of their first EP and album, Wildewoman, which scored them a run of shows opening for Jack White. Good Grief is not a huge leap for them, but it does bring a different overall tone. It seems like Lucius turned down some of their Americana influence and turned up the eletro-pop. Good Grief is pretty thoroughly stuffed with hooks. There are pensive hooks like in Madness” “What We Have (To Change)” and super danc-ey hooks like “Something About You” and the infectious “Almost Makes Me Wish for Rain.” Their single “Born Again Teen” seemed a bit frantic on its own, but in the context of the album, it is a blast of energy. Ballads “Dusty Trails” and “My Heart Got Caught on Your Sleeve” bring a tender side to the album and let the two front-women Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig show of their Berklee pipes.

The combo of Laessig and Wolfe is really what defines Lucius. Their backing band are no slouches. Dan Molad on drums, Peter Lalish on guitar, and Andrew Burri, on more drums and more guitars, and they all sing. The crew consistently provides busy and interesting music that can test the boundaries of having “too much going on” without actually stepping over. But it’s the ladies that really set the band apart.

On my first listen, Good Grief reminded me of St. Vincent’s self-titled album. But, while these two acts are definitely in the same ballpark in terms of music and style, there is one pivotal difference. St. Vincent is all about Annie Clark. I know it took me probably a year to learn that her name is Annie Clark and the band’s name is St. Vincent. Blondie fans know what I’m talking about. This misunderstanding could exist with Lucius but, it gets eradicated as soon as you look at a picture of the band and see two women in matching costumes. “They can’t both be ‘Lucius’… or can they?” Wolfe and Laessig dedicate their image to being as alike as possible. Setting aside the sheer amount of work that must take (two of every piece of weird mod clothing, identical hair color and style ALWAYS…), it achieves several effects. Having two identically costumed front women is like doubling a vocal on a recording, but all the time and with everything. When they perform live the power of a doubled vocal is there, but it’s also there when they pose for a band photo.

More importantly though, having two identical frontwomen depersonalizes both of them. Annie Clark and Debbie Harry took all the attention from St. Vincent and Blondie because they are beautiful women pushed to the front of the stage in wild costumes. But when you have two beautiful women pushed to the front of the stage in wild costumes together, something different happens. They don’t come across as an individual with a backing band, because they aren’t. They come across as two people that are part of something bigger. It encourages the fans in the audience to not just “look at the girl singing the songs,” but rather actually listen to the music and experience the show. It stresses that this band is not about one individual, it’s about the band.

WILDCAT! WILDCAT! HEAD STRAIGHT TO THE TOP
March 25, 2016 10:35 am

Wildcat! Wildcat! are back with their newest jam “Straight To The Top“.  Those familiar with Jesse Taylor and Jesse Carmichael’s signature mix of dueling falsetto melodies and tightly packed layers of synth and percussion are in for a treat. The duo’s wide vocal range and colossal sound is befitting of a song that dabbles with themes of perseverance and determination. We at ATYPICALSOUNDS agree: you’ve got to be a beast to get to the top.

Wildcat! Wildcat! emerged in 2012 with a string of infectious singles. 2013 saw the release of their self-titled EP via Downtown Records, and included the sensational tune “Mr. Quiche“, the accompanying video to which features a guy break-dancing in a cat costume. What more could you ask for, really? Wildcat! Wildcat! released their debut full-length No Moon At all in 2014 followed by an extensive world tour. One can only imagine how exhausted they were after that marathon of events, so it’s perfectly justifiable we haven’t heard from them in a minute.

Unfortunately, Wildcat! Wildcat! doesn’t seem to have any live gigs lined up at the moment, which means you wont be seeing them at any music fests this summer.  Worry not though.  Keep an eye out for new singles, as word on the streets is they have been busy in the studio piecing together new material, meaning there’s more on the way soon.  In the meantime, their entire catalog is available via their SoundCloud.  Check out the new single in all of it’s glory below.

WILD NOTHING: LIFE OF PAUSE
February 24, 2016 3:55 pm

Jack Tatum aka Wild Nothing has returned with Life of Pause, his third full-length installment on Captured Tracks. Once again Tatum builds majestically shimmering dreamscapes that incorporate a varied palette of influences. This is a record dripping with nostalgia, which seems to not only stem from the particular sounds Tatum jives towards, but also the themes from which Life of Praise revolves. Not uncommon among aspiring artists coming of age, Tatum’s sound explorations mimic his own personal experiences as he grapples of themes not unfamiliar to the Dream Pop cannon: identity, coming of age, love.

lifeLife of Pause opening track “Reichpop” grabs you right through the time-space-continuum portal into a Remain In Light-era Talking Heads groove accompanied by nonsensical lyrics “I am the silencer / I am the only one”.  “Japanese Alice” opens with Shoegazey guitar swerves recalling My Bloody Valentine, but then quickly settles into a funk cut more akin to Toro Y Moi. “Lady Blue” sounds like it was penned by Buckingham-Nicks for Fleetwood Mac’s forgotten late-70s synthesizer record.  It’s on “Lady Blue” that Tatum begins one of many spacey inward discussions about love, “will I find a way / to make sense of the way that you love me?” On “Every Women’s Wisdom”, Tatum points out to a perspective lover, “I don’t believe in heaven / but baby, you can be my church.”  Who wouldn’t be flattered by that line? The title track has an odd resemblance both sonically and stylistically to Foxygen’s “How Can You Really”, which makes sense since both artists cup their hands into a similar stream of hazy 70s leisure rock vibes.   On “Whenever I” Tatum comes full circle, realizing, “And I thought you were onto me / And I thought you’d be good for me / But I know what you are now.”

Overall Life of Pause is nothing short of an entrancing, fluid, well-constructed collection of tunes. If you’re into either neo-psych wave of bands currently in vogue such as Tame Impala or the aforementioned Foyxygen, or dream pop standbys like Beach House or Kurt Vile, this record is a shoe in.  The only real critique is that 11 tracks and close to an entire hour’s worth of transcendental psych can really start to drag on.  But perhaps that’s not such a negative, as it allows you to come back another day and still have a few fresh tracks to bring you back in.

Wild Nothing will be touring extensively in support of Life of Pause, check out dates here.

WOLFMOTHER REIGNS VICTORIOUS
12:05 am

I have a playlist of songs that I’d listen to if I were ever on the front lines of a war. I’m pretty sure most of today’s soldiers blast music under their helmets, and I always wonder what I would want pumping through my ears in the heat of battle. What would push me to succeed? To fight harder or smarter or better. What if it was the last thing I ever heard?

So I made a war playlist, and Wolfmother was the first thing on it. Sprinkle in some MuseRATM, and the like and you got yourself something real, something awesome. I listen to it on the highway or while doing a particularly aggressive load of laundry. Every so often I add a song here and there, but not until Wolfmother’s new album, Victorious, did I consider adding all 10 songs from the album at once, but I seriously might.

Just check out the title track, a screaming headbanger, a triumphant, anthemic force of energy. Creative genius Andrew Stockdale (and whoever is playing around him these days) is back to the “rollicking, galloping beats and big riffs” that Wolfmother is known for. Many of these tracks could be your new favorite pump-up song. The notable exception is called Pretty Peggy, an acoustic ballad reminiscent of their previous “love-song,” Vagabond.

It’s as if Stockdale took all his most popular songs and rewrote them with different words and music, but the same look and feel. Like when you go to the west coast and realize their mayonnaise has a different name. Sure it feels a little off, but you still slather it around your sandwiches and whip it into your deviled eggs. New look, same great taste!

The most amazing thing about Wolfmother through the years is how they consistently sound like fifteen different bands all at once. Everyone from Black Sabbath to The White Stripes, Zeppelin to Jet, Kings Of Leon to Queens of the Stone Age. And somehow–despite numerous lineup changes and artistic bullshit–they maintain the same generic timelessness we’ve come to expect, even after a decade or so of aggressive, high-octane awesomeness. Impressive.

Wolfmother is currently on tour to support the album, stopping by NYC’s Webster Hall on March 4th. They’ll continue throughout the US and Canada until April 1st, play in Europe for 6 weeks, and then finish the tour in NJ at the end of May. See them before they go back down under!

FAREWELL TO THE APACHE RELAY
February 8, 2016 10:55 am

You already missed your chance. The Apache Relay was here bringing the masses heart and soul with their indie-Americana sound. But no longer. On September 21st, 2015 the band posted this on their social media pages, explaining that they are going their separate ways. Let me tell you why that is too bad.

The group formed in a dorm at Belmont University in Nashville, and grew to represent much of what the “Nashville Sound” has become: Indie rock with touches of folk, bluegrass, rhythm & blues, and pop. Pleasant harmony sits in a bed of modern production, and highlights Nashville’s emphasis on song writing, as opposed to song making. While this sound is growing into a formula for some, The Apache Relay was on the front end of it. Though they never quite achieved the status of other artists in their ballpark, like Local Natives or Fleet Foxes, they showed strong promise that they might.

The Apache Relay gained notoriety after their second album American Nomad when they opened a number of dates for pop-bluegrass all-stars Mumford & Sons.  They also got some attention when their song “Power Hungry Animals” was featured in the movie The Way, Way Back. While not exactly a blockbuster, the film supported a pretty stellar cast, and shed an interesting light on The Apache Relay’s song. Look at it in the context of the promotional “music video” they made.

It’s essentially a trailer for the movie. The song plays while clips of video from the film plays over it. Yet it could totally work on its own. It doesn’t have the look of a music video, but with small changes in editing and color, it could. Take away the distraction of Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, and a few other actors you’d recognize, and you’d be left with a music video that nails the feel of the song. We see images of a coming of age story. A teenage boy struggles through smattering of classic themes: loneliness, romance, body issues, family, youth, father issues, a summer away, friendship, etc…

The beauty of this is that these are exactly the kinds of themes that The Apache Relay should be reminding you of. The modern “Nashville Sound” is built on them. Bands like Mumford & Sons and Local Natives rely on this nostalgia to complete their music. Their songs are striving for an emotional power in addition to just sounding good. Pop and Dance music is escapist; It makes you forget about your problems and just feel good. Adele makes you cry. Indie-Americana has an element of memory tied to it. It’s a return to roots, a call home. The blend of folk and bluegrass style with modern instrumentation and production is the old become new. The past become present. It’s a return to youth, to summer. To that time that you did that thing that changed the way you think.

This is why “Power Hungry Animals” is featured in the trailer for “The Way, Way Back.” Prominently. It comes in at the end. At the time when the trailer is showing you conflict and tension and growth and love. When the trailer needs to say “This movie has warmth and depth and feeling,” it uses this song, and it is the song that takes your interest in the kid and turns it into care.

Yet The Apache Relay is gone. But do not dismay! Front-man Michael Ford, Jr. has made an appearance or two, and their parting message specifically says the members are looking to “explore new endeavors.” There doesn’t seem to be any news on this front yet, but in the meantime, there are three albums of Apache Relay to work through. If that well runs dry, check out some other Nashville indie-Americana acts, like Humming House,  Sugar & the Hi Lows, or Knoxville’s Cereus Bright. Hopefully that will hold y’all out until a reunion comes around.