album release

YOU ARE NOWHERE WITH GLASS FACE
February 10, 2016 1:32 pm

At first listen, Glass Face appears to be little more than one of the countless ambient and shoegaze-influence bands polluting the contemporary indie music scene.

However, it is worth mentioning that the first song any listener is likely to hear is their cover of Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” a song that, no matter who is singing it, presents very little to hold a listener’s attention beyond a catchy chorus and auto tuned monotony. But, if the listener is able to get past the cover and give Glass Face’s debut EP, You Are Nowhere, an honest listen, they’re in for a treat.

The songs on You Are Nowhere exhibit a soulful beauty and subtle elegance that more than redeems Glass Face for the Hotline Bling cover. It also comes as a surprise that a band with such obvious pop leanings has a penchant for the mysterious.

Little can be found on the origins of this band online, other than cryptic philosophical musings that, honestly, makes them more interesting. One of these musings in particular, which can be found on their Facebook page, gives the impression that Glass Face has ambitions to become a pop band for the introverted:

“Words are a funny thing. We spend so much time inside our own minds that when we go to share that time with others, we often feel as if our words fall short of the truth they’re meant to bear. We over think, we press delete, and we discard what feels right out of fear.”

Easily the most noteworthy track on You Are Nowhere is “Holland,” a song that pulls off a perfect combination of whimsical and joyfully simplistic, but at the same time contains a depth that rises far above artists in the same genre.

BREAKING DAY WITH MOON TAXI’S DAYBREAKER
October 27, 2015 5:33 pm

It took me a moment but once I heard a couple songs I realized that I had heard Moon Taxi before.  This band from Nashville who started in 2006 will blow your mind with the musical vastness they accomplish. They’ve had their music featured in numerous commercials, late night shows and festivals. The band released two previous records before their latest and greatest Daybreaker.  They have all the elements of a light indie pop/alternative rock group, with a  darker tinge of garage rock injected into the mix.

Daybreaker was just released October 2nd, just a few weeks ago and has everyone falling head over heals. Most of the songs on the album sound like a mix of Interpol with droning guitar riffs and sound similar to Kings of Leon vocally.  It’s reminiscent of something Danger Mouse might produce save for the grunge here and there throughout the record.  It was actually a pleasant surprise to hear the different sounds they are capable of making as I’m not generally a fan of more fluid indie rock.  But I was thoroughly impressed with how they produced this album and all of its dynamic.

You can really feel their performance, and how every single part of each song melts together in the perfect sequence while appropriately placed. This is the type of band you want to see live because you know they have it down to a science.  All of the songs, including the single “Year Zero” have a slight Vampire Weekend sound with milder vocals and more full sounding instrumentals.  I’d highly advise you to check out their album Daybreaker! If you’re ever in the mood to dance this album will be your best friend.  Check out the Jazzy tune “Make your mind up”  from the new album right here and watch these bad asses focused and rocking live at Lollapalooza.  The Beasts approve and beyond!

DARK ROOMS- NOT YOUR AVERAGE ELECTRO POP GROUP
October 19, 2015 10:48 pm

Dark and brooding with its occasional splashes of colour, Dark Rooms easily stands out from the crowd of modern day electronic pop bands.

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The band emerged over the course of frontman Daniel Hart’s tour to promote his solo album The Orientalist in 2011. Though critically acclaimed, The Orientalist didn’t attract much attention worldwide. But it is clear that the tour was by no means a waste of time for the musicians. When the tour ended, the band simply kept going. Only 2 years later, a new album was released under the name Dark Rooms.

Nowadays Hart is probably best known as a film composer, having composed the score for an impressive amount of American indies such as Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Comet. Having played the violin from the age of 3, he has also worked as a touring instrumentalist alongside many musicians from his native Texas and musical legends such as Radiohead. He has been busy, to say the least, exploring a range of sounds between classical to pop.

Now, together with band members Casey Trela, Bobak Lotfipour, and Rachel Ballard, a sound has emerged that is very unlike any of Hart’s previous work. Live instruments have made way for electronics and samples. As the band name might suggest, the music has a dark tint to it, yet it occasionally breaks out into either loud exclamations (such as in the song “Olga Kurylenko) or even quite danceable electronic beats (like in “Never Sleep Again).

Hart’s vocals have changed too and he has proven to be an impressive counter tenor. His piercing falsetto in Dark Rooms has remnants of Thom Yorke in it, but in combination with the electronic beats and occasional dissonant chords the sound is perhaps best compared to Sufjan Stevens’ 2010 The Age of Adz, albeit a more accessible version. Despite not having strived for Sufjan Steven’s level of absolute weirdness, the sound of Dark Rooms is instantly recognisable as their own. In my book, it makes them stand head and shoulders above many contemporary up-and-coming electronic pop bands.

Having toured the US in September this year, the band has returned home to further develop their new material. They’d better tour Europe some time soon too. I’m getting impatient.

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MAYDAY PARADE OVERTAKES THE ELECTRIC FACTORY
8:58 am

Opening to a packed house at Electric Factory in Philadelphia, PA was the band As It Is.  They are a five member Pop Punk/Alternative Rock group from the UK and they got everyone revved up.

Second to the stage was the duo This Wild Life from Long Beach, CA. Kevin Jordan absolutely killed it with those vocals. Their music has a pop-rock acoustic feel to it. They were on Warped Tour this past summer, so they know what they’re doing.

The third band up was Real Friends from Chicago.  Their music is an eclectic mix of Rock, Pop Punk and Emo. Their song “Better With You” is a beautiful love song. They kept the crowd moving, dancing, crowd surfing and singing along to all their songs.

By the time MAYDAY PARADE took the stage, the floor and the balcony were packed solid with screams filling the air. The band consists of vocalist Derek Sanders, guitarists Brooks Betts and Alex Garcia, bassist Jeremy Lenzo and drummer Jake Bundrick.  They are from Tallahassee, Florida. Smoke filled the stage as the rock/alternative band emerged while the crowd chanted MAYDAY.  The audience was holding up their phones and they were moving their heads along with the strong beats. This was the second night of their tour. They have been a band for ten years and just put out their fifth album.  The second song “Jamie All Over” got the crowd jumping all over the place and singing along. The stage lighting added to an already incredible performance. If you get a chance to see them on their current tour I would definitely recommend it.

mayday

Photos by @camiliberty

The Need To Know About In Tall Buildings
July 15, 2015 11:00 am

Erik Hall, known to music fans as In Tall Buildings, is getting ready to tour. His sophomore release Driver came out in February to positive reviews from sites including Stereogum and the Consequence of Sound.

Beginning July 13th, Hall will be hitting the road for shows with pop legend Matthew Sweet and pop sweetheart Natalie Prass. ATYPICALSOUNDS was privileged to speak with Hall during his last few days of quiet time.

in tall buildings band

On July 13th, you’re playing a show with Matthew Sweet in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Is there anything you’re dying to ask, or anything you’d like to learn, from someone who’s been in the music industry as long as he has?

EH: It’s always fun to be on a bill with someone who’s been doing it a long time. I remember having a pretty cool 5th grade science teacher who liked to talk about music with my friends and me, and among a list of artists she recommended at the time were Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, and Matthew Sweet. It’s safe to say some semblance of that list made its way into my musical awareness growing up. We’ll also be sharing a bill with Veruca Salt this summer!

You and Natalie Prass will also be performing together for a series of shows. Will you be traveling together? How do you get comfortable touring in close quarters to someone you may not know so well?

EH: I’ll be driving my own car for those shows, but I’m sure we’ll share some green rooms! It’s fun to meet another band on the first night of a run of shows together and then get to know them bit by bit as you cross paths on stage, in between sound checks, over post-show hangouts, etc. I’m friends with Natalie’s bass player, so I’m looking forward to hanging with him and getting to know the rest of the bunch.

How do you keep yourself entertained while on tour? What is the least glamorous thing about being a touring musician?

EH: I do a lot of crosswords, and, whenever possible, I go for a walk. Also, tour is the only time that I ever watch television, and it’s great to catch a bit of Conan or Colbert in the hotel room.

I’d say the least glamorous part of touring is the food I inevitably sometimes eat. I eat extremely well at home. My wife is a chef, and I’m generally interested in good food. On the road, that entire set of values go right out the window. Standards and inhibitions are lowered, and convenience takes over. That long standing idea of packing a cooler and keeping it stocked with healthy, economical staples has somehow never once been carried out. Maybe this time around…

What keeps you based in Chicago, versus places like Los Angeles or New York? Do you think your location has affected your opportunities as a musician?

EH: Thus far Chicago has allowed me every opportunity I could ask for as a musician, and I don’t imagine that stopping to be the case. Sure, there are paths I could pursue in New York or LA, but I’ve simply never had the desire to live in either of those cities.

As someone from Chicago, what are your feelings towards New York-style pizza? Do you feel strongly one way or the other, or do you believe there’s a time and place for each?

EH: I have never been opposed to any type of pizza ever, and I’ve never felt the need to debate the matter. Quite simply: Pizza rules.

rockwood music hall

photo by Neat Beet, Mercury Lounge 4/15

Your latest album Driver took 4 years to complete. Is it more difficult to stay focused on your solo projects, versus working with a band? Is there a sense of urgency with either?

EH: In a band it’s easier to get decisions made. When working all by yourself, it’s easy to sit with a song for a long time and consider options forever. I actually love the balance of shifting between the two, because it allows me to continually come back to the situation with fresh ears. In that way, having involvement in other bands actually keeps me moving forward with In Tall Buildings.

Was there any time during those 4 years where you wanted to scrap everything you had already completed for the album and start over again?

EH: No, I never felt that way. It was always positive, and I always knew that I liked what I had. It just took me a while to push those songs towards the finish line.

Driver is interesting in that it seems to straddle electronic and folk influences. Does that seem accurate to you? Which artists would you say most influence your sound?

EH: Sure, that’s accurate! Ideas come from all over, and though there could never be a comprehensive list I’m happy with, I can say that Driver was partially informed by Califone, Neil Young, Paul McCartney, Low, Thom Yorke, Gillian Welch, Arthur Russell, and Deerhoof.

Do you have a preference for a more sedate sound versus a loud or aggressive one? Is there something that draws you to one aesthetic over another?

EH: For me, both are required. Though, I think “sedate” is a good word to describe the underlying tone of a lot of my songs.

Any thoughts on your next album?

EH: It’s well underway. Excited to get another one out there, will keep you posted.

Porcelain Raft: The Half Awake EP Release Party
June 30, 2015 10:30 am

Friday night saw the crowd at Baby’s All Right welcome the release of Half Awake, the new EP from Porcelain Raft that came out earlier this month. Porcelain Raft is the solo project of Italian-born Mauro Remiddi, who recently launched his own record label, Volcanic Field. As if both of those accomplishments weren’t enough reason to celebrate, the audience was already in high spirits from that morning’s Supreme Court ruling making same-sex marriage a right nationwide, a feat that was proudly announced onstage by a majority of the night’s performers and was met with cheers each time.

Porcelain Raft at Babys All Right 4

Half Awake is a superb addition to Remiddi’s already extensive catalog; this being his 10th EP and the follow-up to his full-length 2013 album Permanent Signal. The night’s set consisted mainly of tracks from the new EP plus Permanent Signal, and his 2012 album Strange Weekend.

The sound of Porcelain Raft is hard to fully articulate. It’s a unique amalgamation of ambient pop, shoegaze, and something that sounds a bit like early Jesus and Mary Chain, and Half Awake is no exception. It’s miles and miles of dreamy reverb, led by an androgynous-voiced angel. “Love Chain” stands out as the most pop-oriented track on the EP, following a more traditional song structure and featuring a chorus that quietly demands you sing along.

Porcelain Raft at Babys All Right 3

Remiddi is most well known for his poppier singles, including “The Way Out” and “Cluster”, which are both fantastic tracks. But to focus only on his bigger releases would be to miss out on the genius of his experimental nature. His setup onstage consists of a microphone, guitar, a series of synthesizers, a keyboard, and some effects pedals. He creates the music from scratch right in front of the audience, allowing them to become part of his creative process.

During his set, Remiddi also performs a couple of “acoustic” songs, e.g. songs he performs using only vocals and his electric guitar with no added effects. While singing, he steps away from the mic, still playing, but using only the natural amplification of his voice to carry his lyrics across the crowd. It’s a beautiful moment, and stands as testament to his natural ability as a performer. The show ends with Echo, which is left to loop when Remiddi disappears backstage. The audience soaks up these last moments, staring off into the smoke and colored lights on an otherwise empty stage.

Listen: “Love Chain” from Half Awake EP

Fevers – Better Outside Of Their Own Genre?
June 24, 2015 2:32 pm

Ottawa-based quintet Fevers have experimented in and around the genre of electro-pop. With a second album in the making, what kind of sound can we expect next?

When Fevers‘ first album No Room For Light was released back in 2013, their song “Dance Cry Dance” became a popular target for remixes. The popularity of the song has since spawned a music video as well as an eponymous remix EP. It is perhaps no surprise that one of the most favored tracks of the album is most similar in style to the title track of their first EP, “Passion is Dead”, of which the music video won the first prize at Ottawa Film Festival in 2012.

“Passion Is Dead” and “Dance Cry Dance” are both fully electronic tracks. They have a dark quality to them, yet they’re jaunty and easy to dance to, however could also be a bit rough around the edges. The layers upon layers of droning electronic sounds seem to accumulate into a general white noise that drowns out almost everything else. These songs aren’t very characteristic of the band’s style, however. A quick glance into Fevers‘ body of work shows that they are capable of much more. No Room For Light features a number of subtler electronic tracks, most notably the song “Monuments”, which is a clear testament of their ability to be more economical in how they build up their soundscapes.

FEVERS BAND BRICK WALL

Of all the tracks on Fevers‘ original EP, “Sort It Out” stands out the most. It unexpectedly abandons the band’s signature electro-pop, and instead flirts with a post-rock sound somewhat reminiscent of Mogwai or Explosions in the Sky. It is a great song, and it is good to see how this style prevails to a certain extent in their EP, which ends in a similar dramatic fashion in “The Veil”.

Electronic tracks like “Monuments” and post-rock tracks like “The Veil” are the two ends of the spectrum. No Room For Light explores many paths in between, and it is in this combination of the two genres that the band really finds its feet. Songs such as “Autumn’s Dead” or “Goodnight” use instruments as their foundations, making the electronics feel more like the icing on the cake. Like in post-rock there is a grand and dramatic quality to the songs, yet they have a unique ring to them which makes it hard to pin down which genre Fevers actually belongs in.

FEVERS BAND STRIP PHOTO

Fevers clearly take inspiration from various places, and some of their endeavors have been more successful than others. Personally, I feel that they are at their best when they transcend the boundaries of electro-pop. In any case, after seeing how well they perfected their sound from their first EP to their first album, I am confident to say I’m excited to see what they have in store for us in their second full length release.

THE MOST GLAMOROUS MAN IN NEW YORK CITY
2:03 pm

Still feeling hungover from Governor’s Ball? Maybe it’s time to chill out and opt for a classy alternative. In all the hype of festival season, there is another gem held on Governor’s Island for two weekends this summer. The Jazz Age Lawn party, hosted and conceived by Michael Arenella, is a delightful throwback to the roaring 20s.

Governor’s Island will come to life with all the zest, charm and magic of the jazz era. Guests enjoy authentic music and cuisine from the 1920s on the beautiful landscape while dressing up in period appropriate outfits and dancing the night away. I got the chance to sit down with the musician-turned-entrepreneur at his recent album release show at the Clarkson Restaurant in the West Village, where we discussed his music, his inspiration and the Jazz Age Lawn Party over a glass of wine.

What inspires Arenella to return to this bygone era? He says “I feel it’s an obligation that I have been called upon to give the music of the past a new life. As a society we have been floundering for a while, we are lacking certain glamour, sophistication, elegance, maybe even a little bit of dignity. This music is essential to those attributes.” Simply taking a listen to any of Arenella’s music instantly gives one this feeling of elegance, a time-machine to a funner, freer and superbly marvelous time.

Michael Arenella was first a trombone player, an instrument he says “implies its own heritage and repertory. The ‘pop’ music of the 20s and 30s was all horn driven.” The lead musical act at the Jazz Age Lawn party is Michael Arenella & The Dreamland Orchestra, a jazz/swing group dedicated to this very “pop” music.

The Jazz Age Lawn party is in its 10th year which has a latent importance to it. An event that in its first year had 50 guests is now expecting close to 5,000. “We are always trying to throw a better, more fabulous party, and the more popular we get the more that responsibility grows” Arenella says. He takes on a very “if you build it they will come” attitude, and is very committed to conveying “the zest and beauty of the era.” Others sharing Arenella’s enthusiasm are the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, claiming the Jazz Age Lawn Party to be the most anticipated event of the summer.

So while you are getting your Governor’s Ball, EZOO and Bonnaroo festival tickets you may want to consider The Jazz Age Lawn Party. Tickets are still available for the August 15th and 16th parties and you can hear Michael Arenella & The Dreamland Orchestra’s beautiful and charmingly nostalgic album on soundcloud, although, by just doing this Michael thinks you’re missing out. “If you listen to me at home, you won’t come hear me play. I’m not interested in recording, I like the natural expression of music as it is manifested live.”

Written by Alessandra Licul