atypical artists

WET IS THE BEST
February 2, 2016 11:30 pm

Kelly Zutrau, Joe Valle and Marty Sulkow make up the electronic, synth-pop R&B trio Wet. Coming off a stellar self-titled EP released in 2013, Wet has just released full length album Don’t You.

Pitchfork roasted the album calling it boring and surmising this to the fact that Wet is taking the worst elements of its varied influences (folk, R&B, 80s synth stuff), however after taking a listen to the album myself I have to completely disagree. It is merely chilled out.

The R&B element is understated. Just because tracks like “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl” don’t remind me of TLC doesn’t mean there isn’t a softer, Destiny’s Child-esque sincerity. “Deadwater” is catchy, classically structured and an all-round jam; the album even picks up and shows some diversity with “All The Ways.”

I’m still attached to their EP’s “You’re The Best.” I caught one the band’s CMJ showcases and she is dynamic live. I especially enjoyed Marty Sulkow’s adorable stage presence.

An album doesn’t have to be exciting or attention grabbing to be good. Don’t You is more a soundscape and less a hit-factory kind of album. You can flow seamlessly from one song to the next, perfect for those moments, looking out the train car imagining yourself on the set of Girls or some other quintessential indie set featuring Adam Driver. Upon my first listen I thought it was unique, hypnotic and relaxing, I played it for days on repeat. Pitchfork should give their content a second listen before jumping to conclusions.

WAVVES NEW ALBUM IS GLEEFULLY NIHILISTIC
October 30, 2015 4:25 pm

Nathan Williams has had quite the year. Between releasing “No Life For Me” and publicly feuding with his label, Williams somehow found time to bring us a new album in V.

wavves4V sacrifices none of the visceral, honest, SoCal influenced punk we have come to love Williams for on Life Sux and Afraid of Heights. If anything, it shows that Williams is now pandering to his strengths more than before. His hooks are tight while the drunkenly bright and hap-hazard vibe of his music is intentionally paired with lyrics about Williams’ struggle in life and love, and his grapple with the way things have apparently gotten worse since his 2011 Life Sux release.

Williams’ brand of pop punk blends hopeless nihilism with the 21st century struggle of “trying to have fun.” In the album’s opener “My Head Hurts”, Williams isn’t shy about shooting things deeply into his veins. From strictly a melodic standpoint, the song is bubbly, dancey and a gem of pop/surf/rock/punk. However, Williams asserts a lyrical dichotomy with lines like “I don’t exist” and “you’re killing me I hope you know,” and the songs main refrain “my head hurts/without you it’s worse”.

The same dichotomy is expressed on the track “Pony.” Aside from Williams obvious surf punk musical proclivity, he emulates the blind bravado and facade of confidence that is a trademark of 20 something year olds in America. His opening lyrics of “stupid and pretty self assured” and “hard to express, depressed and bored” are highly relatable sentiments. Williams taps into the snake person feelings of insecurity and isolation with his lyrics and your adolescent attempts to drown these feelings out with substance abuse are captured in his party fueled melodies. The lyric “open wide and insecure” reveals a generational awareness that makes V more substantial than Blink 182 for example, the pop punkers from a decade ago who drone on about nothing but their high school relationships.
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The album art itself is representative of the futility that Williams feels, using the color scheme and common symbols on tarot cards, where something as simple as a fallen cup can represent how you are doomed for life. However, like someone who has received a grim tarot reading, Wavves knows he is doomed and chooses to ignore it. Perhaps he is even sending a message to have the fun you seek while you still can- regardless of the headaches, mental instability and insecurities. This album can only be described as throwing a party for the end of the world. Williams has confidence in his lack of confidence, and the results shine through on V.

Written by Alessandra Licul 

Lucy Rose: “Work It Out”
August 27, 2015 9:00 pm

Since her debut album in 2012, Lucy Rose came back with a bang on her second album Work It Out. Starting off her career as a backup singer for Bombay Bicycle Club, her first album was totally written on a whim and proved that she is indeed a prominent singer-songwriter who has the ability to showcase her own talent. Her latest album raised the bar, offering a bigger and bolder approach- confirming that she has developed her skills over the past few years and jumped outside her comfort zone.

Her transition from the first to second album was a pleasant surprise, strengthening her original sound with influences from pop, rock, and electronic music. She has created a great balance between her original tame acoustic sound and dancey pop tunes throughout her album, showing a very bold side of her. It’s definitely an album you would want to pop in your car when you’re on an adventurous road trip, whether by yourself or with a group of friends.

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Her opening track “For You” is a great introduction to her album which exposes a new side of her, combining elements of pop to make it her own. She explains in her commentary that “there are definitely elements in this record which are happier, and that song definitely portrayed that side of me which I don’t in the first record.”
She still sticks to her roots in “Into the Wild” with her calm melodies but adds an extra touch with the electric guitar, adding more depth. “Work It Out” and “She’ll Move” have a dreamy electronic sound with strong bass-lines that complement her breathy voice. “Our Eyes” and “Like an Arrow” are feel-good songs that left a great impression on me with powerful instrumentation that meshed well with her delicate voice without overpowering it. Overall she constructed a well thought out album that has transformed her sound by delving into other genres, allowing us to witness the sides of her that might have once been hidden.