AtypicalBeasts

HONNE YOUR FEELINGS, LOUD AND PROUD
May 24, 2016 12:49 pm

HONNE, a Japanese word meaning ‘true feelings and desires’ is composed of Brits Andy and James. They stay true to their namesake, crooning and singing about their deepest personal yearnings and beliefs. It comes out heartfelt and not at all manufactured, despite the heavily produced end product.

Sharing thoughts about sweet, sweet, baby-making love, James and Andy weave together tightly produced ballads chock full of blue-eyed soul and funkadelia. Complete with sweeping strings and dramatic pops and twizzles, HONNE curates their vibe absolutely well. Even if some of their tunes sound similar to one another, they have nailed down the aesthetic they shot for. Think PARTYNEXTDOOR’s material mixed with the soulful sassiness of fellow Brit James Blake.

Standout tunes include their first ever single “Warm On A Cold Night,” which brings together some sick, slappy bass and a groovy chorus. Andy’s vocals, double and triple layered, create a comforting depth to his confessions, and he sounds even better when its just his natural raw crackle. Although the band has only been touring and producing music since 2014, they have an established sense to themselves. There is little feeling of mucking around and figuring out what they want to be musically. It’s straight to the point, appreciatively.

How can we define the state of romance in this digital world? Everyday we are more removed from the last, from our previous habits, traditions and fashions. The electronic-soul vibe that HONNE puts forward might as well be a global, multinational ballad of the Plissken faction. We are no longer afraid to hold on to our feelings, as we have the world to share them with. Every day we become more connected to one another, through documented good deeds of normal people. The title track “Gone Are The Days,” from HONNE’s earlier 2016 release, perfectly emphasizes the feeling of futuristic want and love that may become the new norm. Spark a fire, light the candles, and settle back into the smooth down-groove lust that HONNE wants to share with you.

Their lead single, “Someone That Loves You” from their first feature length album Warm On A Cold Night is a fun and freeing story about falling in love. Featuring the leading vocals of Izzy Bizu, another rising star in the British music scene, the jazz-electronic-fusion tune strikes a chord with the glory of chasing after someone you want. Complete with an adorable music video of pretty people having pretty sex, the band seems well on their way to capturing the spirit of the summer.

With their album dropping July 22nd of this year, be on the lookout for the HONNE duo. They’re bringing lovers the world over together, one synth-pop feel at a time.

THE MUSICAL CAVITIES OF EVAN VOYTAS
May 18, 2016 12:46 pm

Evan Voytas is a musician originally from Pennsylvania, but who now resides in the L.A. area. If you have ever wanted someone who could sing like Passion Pit combined with obviously simplified synthesized drum beats and snares, you’ve found your man.

The on again, off again pop musician should know better. After having studied classical composition and atonalism in New York, the city built on cacophony, Voytas picks a candy cane swirled voice that is diabetically sweet. Vocals ethereal and distant, his production can be groovy in a minimalistic, 80’s nostalgic vibe kind of way. Which is fine as the sounds of the 80s have come back en vogue over the last few music cycles. The problems only begin to arise a few listens into his 10 odd tracklist: the same rhythms, the same motifs abound over and over. This isn’t nostalgia, it’s monotony.

Granted, the track “Tomorrow Night We’ll Go Anywhere,” off of his LP Feel Me came out more than five years ago. But still, there is little excuse for your professional music sounding like you whipped it up on Garageband. Crappy synths, nauseatingly sweeping violins, the whole album sounds as if Voytas is whispering at full volume. Most of the five track album leaves me uninspired, with little exception. A few seconds of saving grace on each track, the rest is overdone or underdone or simply tacky.

It feels lazy; a little too simplified. Like giving the people what they want when you know that you can give them something better: what they need. I know I’m sitting here in my armchair and lambasting someone who is putting himself out on the line for the world to judge. But I have to judge fairly, and in my opinion Voytas is settling for less. It sounds like he has an idea of what can work musically, and can theoretically create a piece that does sound good. The disconnect happens in the depth of the material and the implementation. The tunes make me want to bob my head, but more often than not into the wall or keyboard.

When listening to “Lite Conversations” and “Disappear Into The Stars,” two of his more recent works, it feels as if he is trying to put together tunes he heard while a child and misremembering just enough to make it fall puzzlingly flat. “Lite Conversations” in particular had me snoozing in a matter of moments. Three minutes too long, this is the type of music that I imagine makes great music videos. Gorgeous blonde hair flowing in the breeze, as the drop top convertible spins down the road into the sunshine. Unless you’re in that fantastical moment, I cannot in full honesty recommend Voytas as a musician.

With no new songs in the last year, give or take, and no tour dates currently on-going, it appears if Voytas is snoozing on his career. Which honestly, might be in everyone’s best interest unless he settles on something more tangible. Give the people some brussel sprouts; something to chew on that won’t rot us from the inside out.

WASHER TEARS THROUGH BROOKLYN
January 25, 2016 9:34 am

Right before they started their set at Palisades, the emcee of the night introduced Washer as his “favorite two-piece since he saw his mom in a Bob Marley swimsuit.” I laughed really hard at this, so if you still have any respect for my taste in anything, thank you. Either way, once the hard hitting duo of Mike Quigley and Kieran McShane got things going, the celebration for the release of their debut album, Here Comes Washer, was in full gear.

Similar to the feel of their LP, Washer stormed through each song at a breakneck pace while never feeling rushed. Nothing lingers for too long on Here Comes Washer. Each moment lasts as long as it should and they move on. “Safe Place” runs for a minute flat, and it gets so much accomplished in that short amount of time.

Here Comes Washer has plenty of great Lo-Fi gems to it, but the songs that tend to really stick out are ones that show Quigley fully unleashing his voice and showing us what it is able to do. The shrillness of “Porky” is a highlight and his hearty bellow in “Got Drunk And Ate The Sun” sounds even more effective live. My favorite Washer songs tend to be the ones that go into full bellow mode. The way Quigley’s able to elongate each note on “Eyelids” leads to such an enjoyable sing-along hook. Seriously, it’s not every day that a group of Brooklyn concertgoers chant “forever and ever, Amen.”

There were plenty of fun moments like that, especially in between songs. I’m not sure how many people saw this, but there was this bearded guy who would continuously pop his head out from backstage and give Quigley and McShane these intense smolders. Most of the time, they didn’t notice, but there was a good 5 second stare down between Washer and the bearded gent and it was pretty great.

Midway through the set, Quigley assured the crowd that they were a very sloppy band, flubbed on the opening notes to “Human” and then said, “see?” He quickly righted his wrong, though, and they proceeded to jam out to one of the album’s best tracks.

Oh wow, I might be burying the lede super hard right now, but all of this was happening while the second biggest snowfall in New York history was getting under way. I think we all know by now, but winterstorm Jonas was no joke. As soon as I exited, there was a good two inches of snow on the ground that was not there beforehand. The commute from Bed-Stuy to Staten Island wasn’t the easiest, but seeing Washer release their first album in perfect fashion was worth being engulfed by the rabid flakes.

 

GOOD AFTERNOON (MEN)
January 13, 2016 3:47 pm

New Yorkers, feast your ears on the new kids (excuse me, men) on the block. They’re called the Afternoon Men, and they rock. They rock with a sound that is equal parts nostalgia and freshness. Their music bounces seamlessly between genres, touching on influences from Springsteen, The Hold Steady, Counting Crows, The Decemberists, Titus Andronicus, and more.

The five-piece stepped on the scene back in October of last year, releasing their first single, “Parking Lots and Basements.” The music is catchy, with that oh-so-pleasurable balance of 90s Alt-rock, 00s Pop-punk, and contemporary Indie-rock. The lyrics are painstakingly truthful, as the singer navigates the trials and tribulations of trying to land himself a lady as a broke musician in the country’s most expensive city. The song’s overall force is only magnified by the clever lyric video accompanying it.

The men have released a couple more tracks on their Soundcloud page. While these tracks feature a more toned-down sound and oblique lyrical message, the narrative established in “Parking Lots” continues throughout. The result is an overall cohesiveness to their catalog that serves as a refreshing deviation from today’s pop music landscape dominated by one-off singles.

Having already caught the attention of Deli Magazine and sold out the main stage at Pianos, Afternoon Men are gearing up for an exciting 2016. The men are set to release their fourth single with yet another lyric video, “The Books in Her Closet” in the upcoming weeks. They’re also gearing up to headline The Bowery Electric on January 22nd. You can get tickets here!

Sure, this band is new and they’ve got a lot to prove in a city riddled with fellow newcomers. But if what they’ve released so far is any indication, they’re certainly worth checking out live and keeping on your radar.

YOUR NEW A.I. ASSISTANT
December 23, 2015 4:21 pm

Artificial Intelligence has come a long way from being just a theme in sci-fi. It has become something that is present in our daily lives. From Microsoft’s Cortana, to Apple’s Siri, artificial intelligence has come into our lives, becoming an essential way to live easier. Way easier.

X.ai is a company that was funded in early 2014 with the thought of using artificial intelligence as a personal assistant. The product that they created was Amy.

Amy is an A.I. made by x.ai that acts as a personal assistant by using data you offer in order to book appointments for you. You start off by emailing x.ai your availability and Amy then keeps that stored for future reference when booking your appointments. Once that is completed, you just simply CC Amy when sending out an email or a reply, where you would have to schedule a meeting, and Amy does the rest. Amy corresponds back and forth with the other person and gives them available times for meetings.

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Amy makes sure that you have a set time and when it is all set and done, sends you an email confirming the date at the end. While this product is made for mostly business types, it is one that is available to anyone. If you want to schedule a dinner date with your friend, you can totally do that with Amy. It might make you look like lazy, but has that ever stopped you from doing something, or nothing, before?

What makes Amy different than most other A.I. is its eerie human likeness. From the testimonials on twitter, it seems that most people find Amy to be a product that is competent and something that they
can rely on. Not as charming as Samantha from Her, not as life threatening as Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Amy is right in the middle of the A.I. spectrum on a zone that Goldy Locks and I would call just right.

While Amy is a great service for the modern businessman, it might not be the case for the everyday lay person. If you are coming in and out of meetings every day and don’t know how to manage your work and home life, then Amy will become a cheap alternative to having an assistant. If you don’t fit the aforementioned type then this product is probably not a practical option. Better to just text your friends back and forth until you find a common open date. If you need a little guidance, a planner might come in handy. Or not. I’ve found out the hard way that when you take out your planner in the middle of a conversation to plan a date, you just get mocked.

xai-office

WTF BOOMERANG
December 13, 2015 10:17 pm

From the makers of everybody’s favorite time waster, Instagram, comes a whole new way to fabricate memories with your friends; Boomerang. Boomerang allows users to create mini videos that loop back and forth, the app shoots a burst of 10 photos and plays them forwards and backwards, which you can then share on Instagram or Facebook right from the app. In the demos for it when you first download the app, it shows a girl who’s taken a picture of herself blowing a bubble of gum and it shows it bursting and un-bursting. The app makes videos/pictures/boomerangs, whatever you call these monstrosities that look like a glitchy video game. Why would anyone make such a thing? I don’t know.

Boomerang is not something that you should read 300-800 words to understand. In short it is a boring dud. If you stop reading here, you’ll have gotten what the app does, but if you want to read a guy rant on about an app that was probably made by a think tank of dumb college kids somewhere in Silicon Valley or wherever the hell Instagram houses its Hefe-filtered headquarters, then keep going.

Is it supposed to be artsy? Is it supposed to be fun? I am not sure. I downloaded the app and immediately un-downloaded it after taking a video, or a gif or a Harry Potter type picture, taking a …boomerang? Whatever the verb of making one of these dull time wasters. Not that I am above a good time waster, or a bad one for that matter. I am usually a person that will give anything a try, I watched 10 minutes of Shia LaBeouf live-streaming himself watching all of his movies, I had more fun in those 10 minutes than I did with this app, and nothing happened in those 10 minutes by the way, he was just sitting there.

Although the app has mixed reviews in the Play Store, it worked well for me. It did record me throwing my beanie up in the air and it did play it forwards and backwards. One of the best things I can say about the app is that it works, another good thing that I can say about the app is that its an app.

What is the reason for boomerang? What is its purpose? Does it stay up late at night asking itself questions like; is God real? No, because Boomerang is one of a thousand fads, you remember Floppy Bird? If you are a person that downloaded Boomerang, I recommend another app for you, it is called Send Me To Heaven. You might not have heard of it, but if you haven’t go ahead and look it up. It is an app made just for you.

In the end Boomerang is just something that your 12 year old niece will download, play with for an hour, and then realize that she has more important things to do with her time than record one second loops of herself making a funny face or whatever it is that people do on this app. Things like, oh I don’t know, literally anything else would be more important that this app.

If you can already record 15 seconds or so on Instagram, why would you limit yourself to a one second loop without a sound? If 15 seconds of content is too much, Vine is a thing. If you want something in between six and 15 seconds, I recommend Snapchat.

Is Instagram out of ideas? Possibly. Is this a bad thing? No. Remember when people didn’t take pictures of their food every time you went out with them? I do, those were good times. Then again I could be wrong and this could be the next big thing and this could be the downfall of civilization.

Boomerang

BOOTS: THE MYSTERIOUS MASTERMIND
December 11, 2015 1:09 pm

    As a producer, Boots has popped up overnight, influencing the sound on Beyonce’s most recent album quite heavily. And before, there’s very minimal information about him. In a New York Times interview, they mentioned an old band he was in called Blonds, and also being homeless at some point. But both facts were kinda just thrown in there as an ‘oh, by the way, this happened’ sorta thing. But ever since then, he’s been absolutely on fire. He’s worked with Run The Jewels, FKA Twigs, and now he’s trying to make it on his own with Aquaria, his first full length LP.

    And as the Beyonce pedigree might hint at, Boots has a great skill for creating this murky environment that he’s able to bend in different ways. Sometimes a beat on here just knocks, like on “C.U.R.E.” Big drums, sirens blaring, some pots and pans clacking against one another, everything about this song is Boots at his most straightforward Hip-Hop. But he can turn on a dime, like he does on “Only,” churning out a smooth ballad.

    Each of those songs exist in the same world Boots has created, though. And the fluidity is quite admirable here, since it seems like he hates the idea of allowing a sound to wear out its welcome. “Dead Comes Running” is a complete kitchen sink type of song. His soft cooing bookends the song, but in between that is a frenzy of jittery drum patches and heavy guitar churns.

    While his work on the production boards can not be denied, it’s his efforts on the mic that come up a little short. On “C.U.R.E.,” his lyrics fall into the realm of trying too hard to be a conscious, “I’m not like most rappers” type of rapper. The lyrics aren’t bad, but his delivery doesn’t do him any favors with the message he’s trying to convey. The mumble flow IS trendy right now, but it doesn’t really work on a song talking about advertisers and Wall Street taking everybody’s money. It’s corruption, man! Speak up! Anunciate! The rapping doesn’t come natural to him, but he does a capable enough job to where he doesn’t drop any lines that are eye poppingly bad.

   But because of that fluidity of his, he doesn’t spend too much time obsessing over making this a full-on rap record. Buzzworthy producers try reaching like that all the time now, but it seldom works out. Just ask Hit-Boy. And Boots also happens to be a really good singer. He’s got a skill for some subtly catchy melodies and he can get his voice into this trembly high pitch, which adds a lot of vulnerability to his dark and moody soundscape.  

    The maximalist effort on Aquaria is an impressive display of Boots’s talent. He builds off the sound from his time with Beyonce, but also adds new layers that are more experimental in its lack of traditional pop structure. And while that does a great deal of busyness, he works so well with the clutter that it’s still a captivating listen.

KEEP YOUR GIGS IN CHECK WITH SONGKICK
December 1, 2015 2:09 am

It takes serious dedication to go see live music in 2015.

Song-Kick-Concerts-App-Review0If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time and energy scouring the interwebz for upcoming gigs in your locality, only to realize you’ve already missed the boat.  That band who’s killer new record just dropped last week–that’s been on constant repeat on your Walkman–has already finished their encore, packed it in, and moved on to their next tour stop.  Guess you’ll have the catch them the next time they come around…

Alright, come on.  Cheer up.

Songkick has been helping devoted concert goers track their favorite artists and snag tickets to upcoming shows since 2007.  The start-up was founded by a group of tech-minded music nerds in London’s so-called Silicon Roundabout.  The company has quickly grown to become the second largest e-ticket vendor behind Ticketmaster. Using it’s expansive database of over 2,000,000 artists, Songkick automatically generates a feed of recommended gigs based on the artists on your device’s Spotify, and the ones you’ve liked on Facebook. Notifications are sent to you via email the moment tickets go on sale, so don’t wait!