atypicalartist

SHOCKED BY SHOCKING PINKS
November 2, 2015 8:47 pm

The Shocking Pinks, musical project of New Zealand’s Nick Harte, put on quite the show this Halloweekend at Baby’s All Right. I say that because two days later, I am still really unsure of how to digest it.

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This is not to say I had any complaints at all- it was easily the best show I had been to in months. The entire crowd was dancing to wordless, funky, electronic indie beats while Harte managed to deliver an electrifying performance- not once turning to face the audience. The supporting band had stunning chemistry and amazing musical prowess, evident in some particularly impressive drum solos (and don’t roll your eyes at the term “drum solo” because they really were great). What confused me was this was not what I expected from the show (see below).

I listened to Shocking Pinks on Spotify beforehand. I was immediately attracted to their sad indie downer vibes and fell in love with the melodies and lyrics. But the show that I ended up going to was of an indie, guitar-based, IDM esque band. The sound presented live was so different than what I heard online that at the end of their set I asked when the Shocking Pinks would be performing. Eventually I got my answer.

22104385934_9996ed33a8_kThe story of the latest Shocking Pinks album is that Harte composed it and recorded it all in his bedroom, with the windows blacked out, in New Zealand after a particularly devastating earthquake and a particularly devastating break up. Guilt Mirrors is a triple LP all about Harte’s world falling apart. It is seven years after the self titled Shocking Pinks album, and is vastly different in spirit. “Double Vision Version,” “What’s Up With That Girl” and “Glass Slippers” are dancey downers, almost fitting into a noisey shoe-gaze outline. These tracks are very different, but a natural progression, from the lo-fi bedroom songs on Shocking Pinks. Because of the dense amount of music on their triple LP, the Shocking Pinks can present themselves differently and prepare live sets to reflect the many different sides of the music and this is why they sounded so different from the band I had listened to online.

For a band that is fronted by a genius recluse from the other side of the world, they were extremely comfortable on the New York City stage. The crowd was literally begging for more- maybe because of the way one song flowed into another, or maybe because Harte never faced the audience. I kept waiting for him to turn around so the show could “begin”, but the set just flew by without any acknowledgement from Harte and left me dazzled and dazed. Set highlights included “Translation,” “Double Vision Version” and the band’s last release “Nostalgia”. Check them out below!

Written by Alessandra Licul 

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 

Hippo Campus Kills Baby’s Alright
June 22, 2015 4:00 pm

Hippo Campus is a new indie pop/rock 4-piece that is stealing the hearts of girls in every city they play. Thursday night at Baby’s Alright I checked out the band and talked to the boys after the show and they are every bit as adorable as their set would have you believe- with the musical chops to back it up.

The band hails from Minnesota and has been on a rigorous tour schedule all year. Their stop in New York was to a jam packed room. They played hits off their last album Bashful Creatures like “Little Grace” and “Suicide Saturday” in addition to lots of newer and dare I say, slightly heavier, material. The songs on Bashful Creatures remind me of an early Vampire Weekend. Both bands have polished and urbane lyrics, coupled with fast and fussy guitar lines to get your heart rate up. Their band name itself is even a high-brow academic reference to the part of the brain associated with your long term memories, something Ezra Koenig and Rostam Batmanglij would appreciate. Their lyrics are sophisticated while also telling to the intrinsically jealous, passionate and sometimes idiotic nature of the teenage boy brain. “I cannot tell what you claim to see, that your heart is black and mine is so green” is the opening line for their song Little Grace, and lead vocalist Jake delivers it with swoon-worthy sincerity.

Their arrangements are fun without being “fun”; catchy melodies supported with funky, solid, bass and drum grooves. The band has also nailed their live performance with coordinated dance moves and witty banter with the audience. Be sure to check them out coming to a city near you on their ongoing tour.

MAY COMES TO NEW YORK CITY
May 12, 2015 4:16 pm

“Sunday Night”  by MAY is cinematic; a walk down a rainy street in a forgotten city, her voice is simultaneously inviting and bewitching which is the perfect ambience for her haunting, yet bright music. I sat down with the Australian singer-songwriter to discuss herself, her music, and her time in the unforgotten city of New York.

MAY’s clearly defined aesthetic is drawn from time-honored inspirations such as Leonard Cohen, Cole Porter and George Gershwin. The influence of the classic greats is apparent in her use of a full string ensemble and the deep jazzy timbre of her voice. “Taking Champagne” could essentially be a 21st century parlour song.

“I’m a big fan of film noir and I love all things black and white. My style is monochromatic and I’m always wearing shades of black.” When asked what her dream gig would be, MAY replies with “I would love to do a tour of cathedrals for the visuals and for the acoustics. I want beautiful churches with an amazing orchestra and a never ending budget so I could have beautiful lighting and scenery”.  This setting would coincidentally be the perfect platform for her style.

 

What is particularly astounding about MAY’s music is how she is able to transport these influences beyond imitation to a contemporary scene. She does this through her beautiful voice and poetic yet accessible lyrics.

Like most artists who use their own life as a canvas for their perspective, MAY’s lyrics have a strong narrative and is drawn from personal experience, yet they speak to universal themes about love and loneliness. This gives her songs a very timeless and empathetic quality.

“I do write for myself initially but the way in which I write has an element of mystery,” the songwriter explains. “This is what I hear- audiences can make the songs their own because of that and that makes it a bit more personal.”

This is MAY’s second time in New York City and she sees, “a lot more of a buzz from the last time”. Her schedule is hectic, but rewarding. “I’m very busy which is great. I’ve been really overwhelmed by the positive reception from ‘Sunday Night’ and I can’t wait for everyone to hear what’s next.” MAY has a new single coming out in a few weeks which she now just taking the time to perfect. In anticipation, I asked her to describe what to expect from the upcoming single. “It’s very volatile and its very heartfelt and quite edgy. It’s like “Sunday Night” but on crack. Retains that classic vibe but grittier.”

MAY graced the stage at Rockwood Music Hall last month and will hopefully be coming soon to a theater near you. You can listen to her music here on her Soundcloud page.

Written by Alessandra Licul