80s

SAYING GOODBYE TO THE VCR
September 27, 2016 6:02 pm

As  I’m looking over the life of the VCR, I realize that DVDs aren’t that far from become an obsolete part of the technology spectrum just like VHS tapes. The tech world is evolving expeditiously faster every year and the last VHS has been produced this past summer.

I remember those fuzzy scratchy Disney movies with fat plastic cases. The big trilogy sets of Star Wars and rewinding videos right after watching them. I was never cool enough to have the super reminder machine that did it for you, but the wishing noise of the whirling tape and finishing click takes me back 20 years.

In Japan, the Funai Electric Company has still been producing VCRs up until August of this year. This really marks an end to an era, not just of the VCR, VHS and other tape recorded products, but that we are official past the analog age and well into a digital world.

Between Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and many more, we really have no need for and physical copies of any of our media anyways, Blu-Rays and DVDs are used less and less. Digital can be taken anywhere through either hard copies , cloud storage or streaming. I’ve spent all my college years without any physical copies of any of my papers, except when the teacher asks for them. I keep it all in my accounts online.

With this shift to digital media, a lot of people still buy physical items for nostalgia and because it’s nice to be able to actually hold something with your two hands. Physical CD albums, vinyls and DVD/Blu Ray collections are becoming more popular, but unfortunately it seems pretty certain that the VHS and VCR have seen there last days and it’s time to find a digital converter for them or just throw them out. Goodbye rewinding noise, goodbye Aladdin in crappy VHS quality and good night to the age of VCR.

ZIPPER CLUB GOES THE DISTANCE
August 11, 2016 11:49 am

If you haven’t heard “Going the Distance” by Zipper Club yet, get ready because it’s going to be stuck in your head pretty much forever. The band, comprised of Mason James of Cerebral Ballzy and Lissy Trullie, have recently been working with James Iha (of The Smashing Pumpkins fame) to produce their debut album. If it’s anything like this single, I can’t wait to hear it.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS spoke with Mason about new wave, new music, and new experiences:

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Your press release describes Zipper Club as being a “new wave-inspired” band. Are there any new wave albums that inspired you as musicians, or any that you’d recommend in general for your fans to listen to?

Stand And Deliver by Adam Ant, Big Country by Big Country is kind of a jam. The Bangles.

What bands from LA do you feel deserve more attention?

Every band in LA gets plenty of attention.

Has your producer James Iha given you any advice that’s resonated with you?

He has a real mastery of how to craft a song. He imparted little bits of his wisdom while working together. Subtle changes made a world of difference.

Did you squeal and freak out directly before/after meeting him?

I just got off tour. I met him in a dingy basement in Brooklyn to work on a Record Store Day single. I was so hung over that I wasn’t squealing much.

You just released a video for your song “Going the Distance”. What can you tell us about the production of it?

We wanted to make a non-literal adventure video that visually represented the music. We went out to the desert with some friends…and it turned out rad.

Did you help with the video’s concept or direction?

Jason Forrest Hogg and I had been messing around with ideas for a while and decided to direct this one together. Lissy and I worked as a band to conceive the storyline. We hit up some of our friends, bought a Cadillac, broke down four times on the way to the desert and then made a video.

What can we expect from your upcoming album?

Spacey synths and big hooks.

Zipper Club has a very different sound than your previous band Cerebral Ballzy. Is there anything in particular you were looking to do with Zipper Club that you felt you couldn’t do with Cerebral Ballzy?

I conceived this band out of frustration with punk. Punk can be pigeonholing in terms of musical creativity. This is a way for me to do something I wanted. It’s catchy and still cool. Once Lissy came into the fold, the remaining songs were greatly influenced by her presence and the collaboration built something great.

What advice can you give a band who is new to the music industry? Is there anything you were particularly surprised by when you were first starting out?

Get ready to sleep on a lot of floors.

Will you be touring soon or doing any live performances?

We play LA every Monday night in August at the Satellite. Then we’ll be on the road for the next year and a half.

Check out more Zipper Club with their tour, on Youtube, their site and here with the new single, “Going The Distance”.

THE MUSICAL CAVITIES OF EVAN VOYTAS
May 18, 2016 12:46 pm

Evan Voytas is a musician originally from Pennsylvania, but who now resides in the L.A. area. If you have ever wanted someone who could sing like Passion Pit combined with obviously simplified synthesized drum beats and snares, you’ve found your man.

The on again, off again pop musician should know better. After having studied classical composition and atonalism in New York, the city built on cacophony, Voytas picks a candy cane swirled voice that is diabetically sweet. Vocals ethereal and distant, his production can be groovy in a minimalistic, 80’s nostalgic vibe kind of way. Which is fine as the sounds of the 80s have come back en vogue over the last few music cycles. The problems only begin to arise a few listens into his 10 odd tracklist: the same rhythms, the same motifs abound over and over. This isn’t nostalgia, it’s monotony.

Granted, the track “Tomorrow Night We’ll Go Anywhere,” off of his LP Feel Me came out more than five years ago. But still, there is little excuse for your professional music sounding like you whipped it up on Garageband. Crappy synths, nauseatingly sweeping violins, the whole album sounds as if Voytas is whispering at full volume. Most of the five track album leaves me uninspired, with little exception. A few seconds of saving grace on each track, the rest is overdone or underdone or simply tacky.

It feels lazy; a little too simplified. Like giving the people what they want when you know that you can give them something better: what they need. I know I’m sitting here in my armchair and lambasting someone who is putting himself out on the line for the world to judge. But I have to judge fairly, and in my opinion Voytas is settling for less. It sounds like he has an idea of what can work musically, and can theoretically create a piece that does sound good. The disconnect happens in the depth of the material and the implementation. The tunes make me want to bob my head, but more often than not into the wall or keyboard.

When listening to “Lite Conversations” and “Disappear Into The Stars,” two of his more recent works, it feels as if he is trying to put together tunes he heard while a child and misremembering just enough to make it fall puzzlingly flat. “Lite Conversations” in particular had me snoozing in a matter of moments. Three minutes too long, this is the type of music that I imagine makes great music videos. Gorgeous blonde hair flowing in the breeze, as the drop top convertible spins down the road into the sunshine. Unless you’re in that fantastical moment, I cannot in full honesty recommend Voytas as a musician.

With no new songs in the last year, give or take, and no tour dates currently on-going, it appears if Voytas is snoozing on his career. Which honestly, might be in everyone’s best interest unless he settles on something more tangible. Give the people some brussel sprouts; something to chew on that won’t rot us from the inside out.

Teen Commandments Keeps Brooklyn Dancing
May 19, 2015 10:09 am

Rough Trade is one of my favorite venues in the city, so it’s always been a pleasure to see bands play here. Living in NYC for a while, I’ve heard about this Brooklynite band Teen Commandments but never had a chance to see them. I caught on to the accidental (or deliberate) biblical references once I learned that the lead singer’s last name was Moses. If I wasn’t already intrigued, I was now.

I didn’t know what to expect from Teen Commandments, but their stage presence is astonishing. There were neon wires drooped on stage and a seemingly random taxidermy squirrel propped on a chair behind the bassist. They walked on stage with retro white outfits and lead singer Brett Moses donned a biker jacket that made me nostalgic for the 80’s. Adorned with a flower crown and a beetle necklace, Moses attire was nothing short of eccentric, but I was instantly fascinated by his unique style and quirkiness.

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The crowd’s eyes were immediately glued to them, and their upbeat synth-pop tunes were controlling my body. Their heavy beats and clear cut sounds of the guitar fused so well, it was almost impossible for me to stay still. People upfront were showing off their dance moves as if they finally got a chance to go to the disco. As the music progressed, the crowd followed. By the end of the night, everybody was raising their hands and swaying back and forth. This show took me through an epic journey to the 80’s! Definitely a local band to check out if you’re in the city!

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After the finale of Teen Commandments’ superb performance, three piece band Prinze George showed a graceful presence on stage. They’re a fashionable band who brought a very authentic sound to the scene. What a great end to a great show! I finally have another band to add to my list.