Artist of the Month

JULIEN BAKER TURNS PHILLY INTO THE QUIETEST CITY
September 21, 2016 11:09 am

It’s no secret that ATYPICAL SOUNDS loves Julien Baker. She was our November Artist of the Month last year, so when I found out she was playing at Underground Arts in Philly I knew I had to be there.

The two show line-up was Tennessee-based Baker and Philly’s Grayling. As much as I don’t want to admit it for the sake of losing “punk cred,” two show lineups are sick. You get to go see some bands, feel some feels and still not be too tired for the next morning (I was still late for class but that’s just because of who I am as a person).

Grayling came on around 8:30 and played about a 7 song set that shows me that this band is here to stay. They are pretty badass and if you haven’t checked them out you need to do so ASAP. They will make you feel badass too.

Julien Baker started playing around 9:30 and while her set was only about an hour, for that one hour the small venue on 1200 Callowhill, was the quietest place in all of the city. Baker played songs of her record Sprained Ankle, which is a powerful testament to love, heartbreak and realization. It was just Baker and her guitar on the stage with one spotlight that made the singer look like an angel. Just like on her record, her voice quieted down and then tore through the quiet, each time taking the crowd with it.

There was not a dry eye in Underground Arts, I can guarantee it.

ARTIST OF THE MONTH: AVI JACOB IS THE PERFECT MODEST MAN
September 1, 2016 12:05 am

Summer’s over people. Get those lively synth tunes about not letting the night escape us out of my face. The season of hibernation is upon us, and to help us soundtrack the cyclical death of all leaves is Avi Jacob. Be appreciative.

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Jacob’s latest single, “Pickup Truck, is an Americana wet dream from beginning to end. You’ve got a sweet acoustic guitar being masterfully plucked throughout, pickup trucks, lyrics alluding to a father being disappointed in his son. These are the pillars of our great country, and Jacob builds a beautiful house of music with them as his supporting base. This is the environment Jacob is most comfortable with.

Just watch the video of him performing “Modest Man below. It’s just him wailing on his guitar in the woods as he sings his heart out. There probably isn’t another person around for miles. What’s truly great about the video is how authentically homemade it is. No hi-def camera showing close up shots of him from all different angles, no detailed cinematography of the surrounding elements either. It’s simply a camera on a tripod set up on the back porch filming Avi Jacob perform. That’s it.

The idea of a truly genuine artist feels somewhat out of place in 2016. Every persona, as well as every song, tends to get workshopped ad nauseum. The true persona is there at the core, but everything built around him or her are half-truths and hyperbole. It obviously makes for great entertainment, but it’s always bittersweet realizing that the person making such human and relatable art isn’t actually relatable (or even that human) in real life whatsoever. However, every line that Jacob powers out of his soul affirms that what’s being said is 100% him.

Because of this, Avi Jacob doesn’t have the wildest of web presences. He has a total of 79 tweets. His Facebook is only used to promote his performances. And from what it looks like, his website doesn’t even work. It’s doubtful that any of this bothers him though. Because it genuinely seems as though he is an actual rogue folk music folk tale who jumps from town to town by trading a song for a bed and some hot supper.

Maybe it’s all just a ruse and he’s secretly been a millionaire method actor researching for his next role this whole time. Inside Llewyn Davis desperately needs a sequel, so it would make sense. Other than that scenario, Avi Jacob is most likely the real deal that Folk music needs right now. His voice is passionate and his songs are beautifully heartbreaking. What you see is wholeheartedly what you get.

ARTIST OF THE MONTH: MAGGIE ROGERS
July 1, 2016 6:20 pm

Imagine you’re a music student at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute and Pharrell Williams is coming to teach a masterclass on songwriting. You’ve written a couple bangers or whatever, being a music student and all, but you’re nervous nonetheless. This is likely your only opportunity to have a famous and incredibly successful musician critique your work. What if he cuts it to pieces? What if he kinda likes it except for the one part that also happens to be your favorite part. What if he really likes it and then nothing in your life ever compares to the thrill of celebrity endorsement ever again? Is that the best outcome you can hope for?

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No, the best outcome would be Pharrell’s stunned, appreciative silence going viral and launching your career. Such is the story of Maggie Rogers, internet sensation and pride of NYU, whose song “Alaska” struck Pharrell speechless this past February. We were speechless too, and that is why she is our Artist of the Month. The track is relatively sparse, stacking harmonies atop a phat beat and melodic accompaniment, like if St. Vincent or tUnE-yArDs got out of their own way for one Goddamn second and just wrote what people wanted to hear. Pharrell called Rogers’ sound “singular” which, frankly, couldn’t be more descriptive, “I’ve never heard anything that sounds like that. That’s a drug for me.” Thanks, Pharrell.

The song is poised to be a major summer jam, combining an infectious groove and stunning, polyphonic melody with the internet momentum required for off-brand success. Rogers has already aligned with Brooklyn’s Mick Management (home to Real Estate and Leon Bridges, among others) in an effort to field the snowballing array of label interest, but remember: Rogers was just another person a few months ago, nobody, Pitchfork or even ATYPICAL SOUNDS, would blink twice at. She moved back home with her parents after graduation. She’s going on a postgrad Euro-trip this month. “I’m taking it a day at a time,” she says. “I’m excited to see what the world looks like when I get back in July, but it will probably pretty much look like me living in my childhood bedroom and my mom telling me to do the dishes.”

Are you fucking kidding me? You gotta go ride that wave, girl!

Rogers’ new EP is allegedly finished, but she’s waiting for “Alaska” to play out before releasing it. This could be good–I mean you don’t wanna get all your fame all at once now do you–but it could also be quite stupid, waiting for momentum to fade before capitalizing on it. Don’t you know how this works, Maggie?! This is the internet we’re talking about here, people have clinical deficits of attention. Strike while the iron is hot! Like, what if Zeppelin waited a whole year before albums 1 & 2? Do you wanna last forever or do you wanna blow people’s minds?!

13407114_1028384547247156_7158218423968864883_nWere I on Pharrell’s (and everybody else’s) radar, you can bet I’d be real in-your-face about it. Call into the radio offering an impromptu live interview. Get my publicist in talks with Conan’s people (after, you know, getting a publicist). Rent Manhattan billboard space for my PG-13 spread. Is skywriting still a thing? What about t-shirt cannons, are they legal in the city? Can Fun-Dip do a custom batch for my single release? “Taste the sweetest track of the summer with Fun-Dip! Prices and participation may vary.”

But maybe that’s why she’s blowing up instead of me; she’s got patience (and also musical talent and a fantastic singing voice). I just hope she doesn’t wait too long, else she finds the internet and broader musical community less forbearing than Pharrell and myself.

Maggie Rogers’ traditional folk albums from high school can be found here and here. Look for the official “Alaska” video this summer and her latest EP later this year.

A GOLD NUGGET AMONG THE FLAKES: IDGY DEAN
May 5, 2016 12:34 pm

In the California Gold Rush, people would spend hours picking up small specks of gold in filtering systems along a stream or river. Idgy Dean is like finding a huge mass of gold tumbling down the hill into your lap. In other words, if you are able to filter through the endless hours of mediocre pop and rock artists and stumble upon her, you’re incredibly lucky, because she is pure gold.

Why do I say this? Besides the fact that she is our May Artist of the Month, just watch the video of her playing and you’ll see instantly this untampered, untainted unique woman at work making more creative music than you’ve heard all day. Listen to songs like “Bang Bang Sun” or “Inauguration” to see her wide variety of talents. But first watch her latest release, “Pantheon punk” below!

Lindsay Sanwald is the enigma behind the inde-mind-bending-experience that is Idgy Dean. Sanwald writes and plays all of her music. She made the song “The Indian Squirrel Dance” in her room with Garage Band. Her ability to write, play and perform music is jaw-dropping.

We’ll start with her actual writing capability. The power to summon masterfully crafted pieces that have such balance of highs and lows is basically inexplicable. Her songs as stand alone pieces are great, but to me, they have this presence that paints a vivid and colorful story in my mind. Artists who specialize in soundtracks like Hans Zimmer (Inception and The Dark Knight Trilogy) and Danny Elfman (Spider Man and Psycho) have this ability to create ambience, personality and tone in a matter of seconds of their music, and Idgy is no different. Listening to her songs again and again, a person will just fall deeper, continuously discovering new components of her music each time. 

Next, let’s hit the amazing knack Lindsay has of keeping track of all parts of a song and various vocal parts while playing it live. If you get the chance to see her live, DO IT. She’ll be playing in New York on May 19th, presented by yours truly, ATYPICAL SOUNDS, and I highly encourage you to catch that show. Watching her play drums, looping them and then picking up the guitar and singing while changing loops is like seeing a painting come to life in front of you. Her grasp of simple and energetic drums is astounding and being able to create guitar parts that repeat and yet never overstay their welcome is fascinating to watch. Her voice is sublime and soothing, a call straight from the soul that reaches further and deeper than the listeners ears.

Lindsey sticks to her style, aware of what she wants and as she said in an interview with GBP, “Idgy Dean is the highest pursuit of my highest self—it’s my raw core cultivated. The more adventurous, present, and honest I am, the better it seems to work.” This honest and raw version of herself is heard through her music perfectly. She has this intense potential to create worlds with her music and I look forward to many albums of her majestic music.

To end this I’ll say one last thing, gold is very precious, it is rare, beautiful and has no real equal, and this is why Idgy Dean is pure gold.

ARTIST OF THE MONTH: METHYL ETHYL
April 1, 2016 10:58 am

Here at AtypicalSounds we’re always looking out for the next big thing. Our April Artist of the Month is Methyl Ethel, a Perth-based dreampop trio that are hot off the heels of releasing their debut record Oh Inhuman Spectacle, which was released digitally last month via 4AD.  The album showcases a sleek backdrop of psych-rock influences, reverb-drenched guitar, and Jake Web’s oddball lyrics: the chorus to lead single “Twilight Driving” caution unsuspecting drivers to watch out for “roos”.

Methyl Ethel are the latest indie upstart to burst out of Australia in the wake of big acts to emerge from the continent including Courtney Barnett and Tame Impala. The band’s following has been growing steadily since CMJ this past October, demonstrated by their insane and successful performance at this year’s SXSW. They’ve proven their ability to arouse new fans to faithfully follow them wherever their tour may take them.

Unfortunately, if you haven’t had a chance to catch them live yet, you might have to wait a bit. They’ve just wrapped up the US-wing of their international tour and are doing their last handful of shows in Europe and in native Australia. We’ll be waiting their return.

ARTIST OF THE MONTH: KAELA SINCLAIR
February 2, 2016 12:47 am

In her 2013 debut album, Sun and Mirror, indie-pop songstress Kaela Sinclair introduced the world to the sultry elegance that brought her songwriting to critical acclaim. With accolades from national music publications like Paste and international recognition with a session on BBC Radio Live Performance, the Dallas singer is set to showcase the next step in her evolution as a songwriter with a new album slated for release this Spring.

If Sun and Mirror is any indication of what is to come on her untitled upcoming album, then there is more than ample reason for anticipation. Featuring a roster of some of the music world’s most gifted musicians, including Buffi Jacobs (Polyphonic Spree), Fiona Brice (Kanye West, Placebo), Daniel Hart (St. Vincent, Broken Social Scene), and the highly-sought drummer and producer McKenzie Smith (Midlake, St. Vincent, Sarah Jaffe, Regina Spektor), Sinclair has surrounded herself with some of the few musicians capable of skillfully backing her vocal prowess and lyrical introspection.

Her band weaves a web of smooth, crisp melodies around her melancholy lyrics to create a perfect blend of enigmatic effect and chilling psychedelia. It comes as no surprise that several members of her backing band are members of The Polyphonic Spree, a band whose music has similarly complex arrangements that evoke both a joyful glee juxtaposed with a hint of sadness.

The clear highlight of Kaela Sinclair’s music is the emotional intelligence and awareness of her lyrics. On her breakout single “Original Sin,” Sinclair delivers lyrical gems such as; “study me like I’m your past waving from the door/ hard to see you off if you’re leaving me for more/I am just a flickering light trying to guide you home/ ain’t no scorching sun but I can keep you warm.” Sinclair sings this in a heartbroken croon, that holds the power through her words to hand over the pain from her soul and makes you feel it yourself.

When she sings, her voice comes alive with the weight of her words, each clearly chosen with great care to lend her lyrics an incredible strength that sets her voice apart from her songwriting peers. One can’t help but wonder how her lyrical skills will have evolved in the time between the release of Sun and Mirror and her upcoming album, since that time will have undoubtedly led to a maturity of her songwriting that can only improve on her obvious talent.

In addition to being an amazingly-talented singer-songwriter, Kaela Sinclair has an apparent talent in the way that she presents herself as a musical personality. She has made clever use of her social media presence to gain recognition for her talents, especially with expertly-executed music videos and live sessions on Youtube.

Sinclair clearly puts great effort into setting her music videos apart from other artists with the unique way she expresses themes such as sorrow, loss, and elation. Her efforts have paid off, which is evident by the popularity of her videos. Her most recent video, a touching cover of SOHN’s “Artifice” that was apparently recorded on a cell phone. Sinclair’s genius use of her public presence shows the potential to become a more widely recognized act, upon the release of her new album later in 2016. Most importantly, Kaela Sinclair has the talent to back up her rapid ascent.

 

ARTIST OF THE MONTH: ALICE PHOEBE LOU
December 31, 2015 3:38 pm

Alice Phoebe Lou is a self proclaimed “blues/folk/whatever” artist, sometimes even venturing into the world of “folky blues stuff with psychedelic lead,” the genre she classifies herself under on her
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page. Alice hails from
Kommetjie Cape Town, South Africa and the wacky South African accent is nowhere to be found in the musical tapestries she constructs in her songs.

Growing up in Cape Town, Alice Phoebe Lou was rarely without a guitar in hand. She traveled Europe and found a home in the street musician scene of Berlin, where she has resided for the last 3 years supporting herself through busking. She has played all over the world, “from Palestine to New York.” She released a live album in 2015 and is currently in works with her musical collaborator multi-instrumentalist Matteo Pavlov. 

Alice Phoebe Lou weaves together cacophonous vocal melodies and delicate guitar lines. Alice Phoebe Lou’s bluesy and soulful voice provide an interesting contrast. As opposed to fighting the arrangement of her music, Alice’s voice is merely the broadest and most vibrant stroke in a beautiful painting. This is most evident in songs “Deep Blue Sea” and “Society.”

One of Alice Phoebe Lou’s other musical strengths lie in the poetry of her lyrics. She uses idiom phrases such as “all is fair in love and war,” and “throw caution to the wind” but pairs them with relevant narrative, like in her song “Society,” a piece which depicts her strong views on individualism and how society attempts to brainwash its members. In this way Alice’s music is very classic folk; using her guitar to convey her personal opinions on a broad, worldwide issue. “Deep Blue Sea” stands apart from the rest of her Soundcloud tracks because while retaining Alice Phoebe Lou’s trademark lyricism, the rhythm on the track switches meter (similar to a Beatles song!) and keeps you engaged and waiting for the chorus.
Check out Alice Phoebe Lou on her Soundcloud page because the Beasts will be bumping it all month in anticipation for her 2016 full length album release!

Written by Alessandra Licul 

ARTIST OF THE MONTH:  JULIEN BAKER
November 10, 2015 4:25 am

The first time I heard Julien Baker, it felt like someone ripped my heart out of my chest.

“I rejoice and complain.  Lift my voice.”

Her words are like a tiny knife across your heart and before you know it, Sprainked Ankle is telling too many stories that resonate with you and your broken soul.

Julien hails from Murfreesboro, Tennessee where she played in the Memphis based band, Forrister.

Baker finds herself in good company when she declares, “Wish I could write songs about anything other than death.”  Death, love, heart break, despair, awakenings, God, these are all things that Julien Baker touches on in her songs and in a way it makes you feel a little less alone.

This record possesses all of the things that I love musically rolled into one.  Elements of Folk, Country, Soul, Gospel all combined  with her haunting lyrics create songs that are filled with pain and beauty. Her voice at times fades and then soars with a chilling raspiness on moments that you would least expect it.  Each song becomes an unexpected emotional journey.

“I can’t think of anyone, anyone else,” she howls on “Something,” and I believe every word of it.

“I just left the park, you like swallowed me up
Choking you times, and kicking up dust
Asking aloud why you’re leaving
But the pavement won’t answer me
I just let the silence swallow me up
The ring in my ears tastes like blood
Asking aloud why you’re leaving
But the pavement won’t answer me”.

Julien Baker

I can’t wait to see what is next for this powerful lady. Regardless of where her music goes from here, this record is a testimony to Julien Baker’s artistry and talent.

Sprained Ankle is out now on 6131 Records.

Artist of the Month: Multimagic
September 28, 2015 9:39 pm

It’s that time of the year again, when spots throughout New York City transform from concrete jungle to music mecca. CMJ is upon us and the beasts could not be more stoked! For one week in the middle of October, it will be impossible to walk down the street without hearing sounds from emerging artists across the globe pulling you into bars and clubs from all directions.

Even more impossible – selecting one of these artists to feature as our October “Artist of the Month.”

We landed on Multimagic and the landing stuck.

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Multimagic is a five-piece Indie-Pop outfit composed of Singer/Guitarist Coran Stetter, Keyboardist Brian Davis, Guitarist/Singer Ben Hines, Bassist/Singer Mia Carruthers, and Drummer Sebastien Schultz. They all met in Cincinnati, OH where they were each involved in the local music scene in different capacities. When I asked how the band got started, Singer/Guitarist Coran Stetter said “Once the five of us were in the same room, it was clear that something was happening and the friendships blossomed out of that realization and commitment to the project.” The take-away word there for me is “friendships.” You can really feel the friendship in the way their music comes together with such ease– whether it’s the keys and the guitars riffing off of one another or the vocals sliding in and out of harmony seamlessly.

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Of their musical influences, Stetter cites Arcade Fire, Wild Nothing, and Tame Impala. However, he also mentions the significance that local Cincinnati bands like Molly Sullivan and The Yugos have had on their music.  There is something magical (dare I say multimagical?) about this band. Maybe it’s the energy booming from the up-tempo bass/drums? Perhaps it’s the dreamy quality of the ethereal synth pads fluttering beneath bouncy guitars? For me, it’s the way the band seems to blend large scale indie-pop sound with their own local flavor in stand-out anthems like Let Go.”

With only three songs released to date, Multimagic’s appearance at this year’s CMJ is a testament only to the strength of the music—a refreshing change of pace in today’s pop music landscape.

As for what we have to look forward to from this band, we’ll have to wait and see. They’re currently in the studio recording their debut full-length record, though they have no set release date. While I personally am on the edge of my seat waiting for more music from this group, I did find comfort  in knowing that I get to see them play live at CMJ in just a couple weeks. If you’re in the New York area, be sure to check them out on Wednesday 10/14 at The Holy Underground showcase at 7:30 . You do not want to be the one who missed this band when they’re playing sold out venues later down the road. See CMJ tour dates below!

MULTIMAGIC CMJ DATES:

TUESDAY 10/13: DoNYC CMJ Kick-off @ Arlene’s Grocery – 4pm

WEDNESDAY 10/14: Holy Underground @ Berlin – 7:30pm

THURSDAY 10/15: Birddog Day Party @ Bowery Electric – 2:30pm

Band Mom Presents @ Passenger – 1:15am (Thursday Night)

SATURDAY 10/17: Hallelujah Blackout @ The Rock Shop – 4pm

Artist of the Month: Lena Fayre
September 4, 2015 2:02 pm

Lena Fayre isn’t some ordinary teenager out there. This 19 year old singer-songwriter from LA has already established herself as a talented pop musician among the indie music scene, West coast to East coast. She’s already caught Rolling Stone’s attention who described her music as “an angst-filled afternoon spent lip-syncing into a hairbrush.” People have been raving over her ‘darkwave’ Lorde-esque voice, which explain her millions of plays on YouTube and Spotify.

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Her latest EP ‘Is There Only One?’ captures her emotional journey through her romantic loss. It’s a full compilation of songs showing “sadness, regret, bitterness and, finally, a shaky truce.” According to Lena, Instagram had played a big role in her past relationship, hence the cover art is basically a photo of her on Instagram showing a photo of her ex’s current girlfriend, who apparently gave an ‘ok’ to be on the cover. Talk about awkwardness! At least she was able to get inspiration and deliver some great tunes to the world, right? “I don’t want to lessen the meaning that this music has for me by like putting a pretty picture on my face on the EP.” Looks like she wants to lay everything out in the open by keeping things real. You go girl!

She describes her sound as “deconstructed pop”, pulling elements from a variety of pop singers who inspired her throughout childhood. In an interview with Austin Underground, she says “Pop has certain elements and I like to use those elements but in a different way and not feel that I have to fit in a certain genre, but I can use a pop aesthetic and pop sounds and kind of use it to my advantage in whatever way I want. Deconstructed pop just means I have a minimalist sound, but I can [still] use those elements.”
As someone who grew up in the same generation as her, I can relate to her pop music influences from the 90’s and early 00’s including Gwen Stefani, The Veronicas, and Evanescence. “Vocally, I got a lot of my style from Evanescence. The lead singer Amy Lee – I listened to her a lot growing up, and that genre of music so, kind of how she uses her voice as an instrument. I had never realized that that was a thing, that you can manipulate your voice and train it to do whatever you want. So [I] kind of listening to her at an early age [and] set the tone for how I’d use my voice now.” 

There is no mystery as to why Lena Fayre is our Artist Of The Month.  Now we get bragging rights that we were rocking with her before she was hugely famous.  Hey Lena, we see you.