Athens

IT ALL FEELS RIGHT WITH WASHED OUT
November 18, 2015 1:56 pm

If I were to take a wild guess, you, the reader, having ventured into our wondrous world of ATYPICALSOUNDS, might be into ‘indie’ music, which by that extension means, you might recognize this tune.

Washed Out Band Photo. Ernest Greene pictured.

The creative forces behind Portlandia didn’t randomly select that snippet as the backdrop for their sketch comedy roughly based around the ill-defined ‘hipster’ niche. Washed Out’s “Feel It All Around” was the anthem to a short-lived–yet indispensable–piece of nostalgia-injected ambient-electro dance pop that emerged circa 2009 that is referred to as “Chillwave”, often characterized by heavily distorted lyrics, synthesizers, and sampling.  Think Toro Y Moi Causers of This Neon Indian’s Psychic Chasms or Aerial Pink’s Before Today.

Washed Out is Athens, Georgia native Ernest Greene. He was discovered on, of all places, his MySpace account—which was still the social media mode of choice for most aspiring bedroom musicians at the time. Greene released his first two EPs High Times and Life of Leisure both within a short span in September 2009.  The former of the two was released via exclusively on cassette tape.  The latter saw a much wider release on Mexican Summer, a Brooklyn-based record company that specializes in elaborate vinyl packaging. Life of Leisure served as a major catalyst for Mexican Summer, which, along with Best Coast’s 2010 debut Crazy For You, was a hot commodity indie label at the time–and was certainly a major player in the vinyl craze that started around that time.  Greene next moved to Sub Pop where he released his debut full-length Within and Without in 2011 and followed up with Paracosms in 2013.

Thematically, Washed Out’s music tends to revolve around one central theme.  Look no further than his debut record cover.  That’s right: Love. Washed Out is a desperate romantic chasing after his muse. The titles of Greene’s tunes don’t really beat around the bush either; for example, “The Sound of Creation,” or “It All Feels Right.” His music is sensuous, immersive, and evocative, and at the same time, quite beautiful and dense.  Make-out music on a mild dose of psychedelia.

Reptar @ Rough Trade; A Music Overload
July 21, 2015 12:22 pm

I was thoroughly blown away by the overload of back-to-back talent at Friday night’s show at Rough Trade. The first opener, Meth Dad, performed a high energy set in the middle of the audience, eliciting a call-and-response interaction with the crowd. Surrounded by large, inflatable Christmas decorations, he finished his set by collapsing into a pile on the floor. Then came Brothertiger, another solo performer who projected his own unique energy into the crowd, this time from the confines of the stage. The highlight of his set was his excellent rendition of Talking Heads’ “This Must Be The Place.” The penultimate act, Stranger Cat, somehow managed to surpass the high bar set by her predecessors. The brainchild of Brooklyn’s own Cat Martino, Stranger Cat filled the hall at Rough Trade with her soulful vocals and powerful supporting band. I was overwhelmed to day the least, but nothing fell short of straight up awesome.

Finally, however, it was Reptars turn to take the stage. The Athens, GA group produced bouncy synth-pop highlighted by singer/guitarist Graham Ulicny’s very unique vocal performance. Bassist Ryan Engelberger, keyboardist William Kennedy, drummer Andrew McFarland, and guitarist Jace Bartlet round out the five-some and provided more than enough energy to completely saturate the packed house at Rough Trade. They released their new album, Lurid Glow this past spring, and in performance they managed to strike a pleasant balance between their old and new material. I managed to catch a short video of my favorite song, Rainbounce, from their debut album, Body Faucet:

Reptar will continue their summer tour into the Midwest this week, culminating in a show in Chicago on Sunday night.