bob dylan

PARQUET COURTS: KEEPING PUNK ALIVE
April 29, 2016 10:49 am

In regards to Parquet Courts jittery, scratchy, and bombastic 2012 debut record Light Up Gold, Tim Hodgin wrote:

” [It] is a conscious effort to draw from the rich culture of the city – the bands like Sonic Youth, Bob Dylan, and the Velvet Underground that are not from New York, but of it. A panoramic landscape of dilapidated corner-stores and crowded apartments is superimposed over bare-bones Americana, leaving little room for romance or sentiment. It’s punk, it’s American, it’s New York… it’s the color of something you were looking for.

Punk isn’t a new musical phenomenon, but it’s certainly proved to be an enduring movement. The Ramones’ self-titled album was released this upcoming weekend, forty years ago, which some would say was responsible for launching the punk movement into the mainstream; to say the least, times have changed. We have cell phones, the internet, Chipotle, and I’m sure a few other technological advances I’m not thinking of. And yet, a band hasn’t emerged since that’s cooler than The Ramones: if The Strokes were a distant second, Parquet Courts may be inching in quickly. Another thing to note here–or perhaps you might call it a bias: all of these bands are from New York. What’s up with that? **

Parquet Courts has released four albums up to this point. Their first release, American Specialties, was more or less a quick introduction in DIY punk fashion: a mixed bag of four-track recordings exclusively released on cassette tape.  Although it’s possible to find these tracks elsewhere now, the original cassette is something of a collector’s item, with roughly only 100 copies in existence, with it’s odd Chinese-American food inspired cover art, also designed by guitarist-singer Andrew Savage.

Courts breakthrough into the indie world came in 2012 with the aforementioned Light Up Gold, which received near-universal acclaim from the music press. The album showcased the bands raw energy and Andrew Savages poignant viewpoints on the dismantling American times we live in. On “Borrowed Time“, he sings:

“Was feeling nostalgic for the days when / My thoughts dripped on to my head from the ceiling / I remember the feeling of the muse less existence / Of the drunk, bored and listless \ Endless waiting for something that I knew wasn’t coming.”

As a fellow snake person, I could instantly relate to his feeling. “Stone and Starving” captured a similar situation: a young, starving artist, debating between roasted peanuts and Swedish fish. Parquet Courts followed suit with Sunbathing Animals, a project that landed the band a proper position on the US charts. Tracks like “Black and White” and “Ducking and Dodging” provided further insights, building on the same punk sound.

If you enjoyed their previous albums, their most recent Human Performance is a rewarding shift in gears.  They teased the record with groovy mural art. The albums focal point again is Adam Savages lyrics: discussing the anxiety of living in a city in uncertain times. However, They’re showing a divergence in style: an acute progression from their original street guitar rock content to a diverse range of sounds, instruments. Human Performance is a post-punk record.  If Light Up Gold was Wire’s Pink Flag, Human Performance is Wire’s Chair’s Missing.

Perhaps because of the atonal guitar noise, or the cynical nature of Andrew Savage’s lyrical content, Parquet Courts draws many comparisons to Pavement, a band that also showcased a raw DIY energy through the progression of their albums in the 90s.  However, not everyone appears to be so fond of this comparison. I tend to hear more of the early punk influences. They have the minimalism of The Velvet Underground. They have an all-around uncanny resemblance to Modern Lovers. In reality though, no one sounds just like Parquet Courts. They own their coolness all to themselves.

If you’re an avid Parquet Courts fan, now is the time to catch them on stage. They’re currently on tour and will be hitting most major American cities this Spring/Summer. They’re also touring with B Boys, who just released their debut EP No Worry No Mind, and will even do one show with Priests, for whom I got to see perform live at Philly’s Underground Arts and wrote about here.

** To clarify, AtypicalSounds is based in New York, but I’m from North Carolina, and write from Philly.  I’ve been to New York a handful of times, and it more or less feels like a giant theme park for rich people, but what can I say? New York has awesome music. And that’s all that matters.

Frank Turner
December 16, 2015 10:34 am

He used to scream when he sang. He still does sometimes, but only on the side.

For the past ten years he’s been singer-songwritering. But just because there’s a melody, it doesn’t mean Frank Turner doesn’t want you yelling along. Quite the opposite. His new album Positive Songs for Negative People shows Turner’s hardcore roots creeping back out from underneath his folk growth.

He keeps a mental tally of every show he’s played since he started his solo career.

Turner came through Nashville last week. He played to a sold out crowd at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville, Tennessee. I got to talk to him before he took the stage and notched one more tally in his mental bedpost.

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fangirlfotos.com

So which number show with this be tonight?

Tonight is show number 1,800 on the nose. I have an in-store this afternoon at Grimey’s Records and that’ll be 1’799.

How’d you get your start playing music?

Rock n’ roll wasn’t really a part of my life growing up because my parents didn’t believe in it. Then I just sort of stumbled across it when I was about ten. And just straight away wanted to be involved…which I think is kind of a personality thing to a degree as well. It felt like something that I wanted to try my hand at. And my parents got me one of those 60 buck Strat-copy starter packs, comes with a little amp, from like a department store for Christmas. My next door neighbor got a drum kit and we played together. And that was twenty-fuckin-three years ago… Jesus Christ. Long time ago.

What is your goal with the music you make? What are you trying to accomplish with your songs?

Well you can answer that question on a lot of different levels – which is, I suppose, why you ask it. Well, you know, I’m trying to make a living. That’s the most mundane level. But I’m mean I’m trying to create art that I think is worthwhile. And I’m trying to express myself. And most of what I do falls somewhere between those two poles.

I saw a quote from you that pointed to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska as an inspiration in your shift from hardcore music to what you do now.

Yeah, it’s funny that piece of information has… it’s not that you’re wrong, it’s just that [that bit of info] has slightly assumed a life of its own. Basically there was a period in my life, because I grew up listening to metal and punk and hardcore, where I didn’t have anyone guiding me through the history of popular music. So I knew everything there was to know about Agnostic Front before I’d ever heard a Bob Dylan record. Nebraska was a moment for me, but it was really a whole series of records. The American Recording Series by Johnny Cash was probably more important. It was that idea of being able to create meaningful and, I suppose, heavy and intense art, that didn’t involve taking your shirt off and screaming.

Yeah I figured it couldn’t have been as simple as just Bruce.

Yeah, the other thing that is worth mentioning is that Springsteen is obviously very famous in the UK, but he’s not quite as culturally ubiquitous [as in the US]. So as far as I knew growing up, Springsteen was Born in the U.S.Aand that was it. That’s all I knew. And I’m still not an enormous fan of that song. And particularly if you’re listening to Minor Threat. That song did my fuckin head in. So a big part of the Nebraska thing was just finding out that he had that kind of depth as an artist. It was news to me.

So your music sits somewhere on the spectrum between the folk-acoustic world you’ve entered into and the hardcore-punk world you came from. And over these past ten years, you’ve been everywhere on that spectrum, back-and-forth. Do you ever find there is a tension between a direction you want to go, and another one you feel like you should go?

I don’t really do “shoulds” for reasons other than my own desire, really. It’s funny, because I think you’re right with the punk and folk thing. Folk-punk gets thrown at me quite a lot. Which is fine, I think it’s a reasonably accurate description. And that’s all good. But the there’s a big part of me, the older I get, the more I want to use the words rock ‘n roll to describe what I do. Simply because stylistically and structurally it’s guitar, bass, drums, and piano. It’s three and a half minute long songs. And it’s not enormously different from Sun Studios and Elvis Presley. There’s an expansiveness to what you can do as a Rock n’ Roller that I think is really cool.

I’d say your new record is maybe the easiest to categorize as just Rock n’ Roll.

It’s definitely the rock end of my spectrum.

So let’s talk about the new record. It’s a little over ten years now you’ve been doing the solo thing…

Yeah… [Nervously groans]… [Laughs]

And it appears to me that you’ve had a pretty steady climb. Which these days is almost unusual. These days a lot of people explode over-night. It seems with you, each year I hear about you just little bit more.

Certainly it’s been a bit unusual on that level. I feel very fortunate that I’m not one of those bands that gets one song and then just goes *bleh.*  A few bands have that happen to them and then they have more to say and more to give and the rest of it. But that’s pretty often the death knell of a band. And certainly we have a world where the music industry is very much predicated on immediate success. And I haven’t had that. I don’t really fit into a lot of people’s boxes. Which occasionally can work against me. Even now some of the labels… some of them don’t quite know what to do with me. But taking the long view on it, I think it works in my favor. I just don’t really fit into that many neat categories, which is a good thing I think.

There’s an unfortunate tendency with bands where the further they get from their roots, the less connected and emotional their music becomes. That is something I do not think at all about your new record. If anything I think the emotional feel and intensity is there more than ever.

Thank you.

How do you personally try to maintain that integrity or feeling throughout your career?

Well there’s so many things to say. Certainly when we were making the previous record, Tape Deck Heart, I definitely had that feeling that a lot of bands stop meaning what they say, or become more sweeping in their tone, in a way that is slightly obnoxious. Tape Deck Heart was an attempt to do the exact opposite of that, and to try and write the most experientially personal record that I could at that time. It seemed kind of perverse and interesting to me. To, at the moment when I should probably start writing concept albums about the feature, to actually write the most gut-stabbingly personal thing I could. But, there’s a real tension with me. It’s funny you mentioned the word roots, because I’ve been thinking about this a lot with the new record. On the one hand I feel extremely strongly and adamant that it is the duty of an artist to change. The idea that an artist should be linked somehow constantly forever-anchored to what it was when they first started out is bullshit. I don’t want to make the art I would have made when I was twenty three for the rest of my life, that’s ridiculous. And plus I’ve already made it! I was making art then and it exists. That’s the other thing I want to say to people. There are occasions where people will say to me, sort of accusatorily “well I prefer your earlier records.”  If I’m making a record that some people aren’t enjoying, that’s a bummer on some level. But it’s not like I’ve gone round to people’s houses and removed various records from their collection. [in a stern voice] “You can no longer listen to this one!”

That’s especially true coming from the punk and hardcore world where people can really take offense to change.

Yeah, it’s funny, because this new record is in some ways more “rootsy” for me, in that it’s more punk than anything I’ve really done in my solo career. But that’s not how my solo career started, it was me trying to get away from that, in a way. The thing is though, I’m totally fine having all these conversations. I think they’re good and well and interesting. But when I’m creating, when I’m writing, I think it’s really important not to have these conversations. I think one of the reasons a lot of bands disappear up their own ass, or lose their spark, is because they get used to being judged in the court of music criticism, and they become music critics before they’re musicians. And if you’re sitting there trying to figure out what Rolling Stone is going say about your songs before you’ve even fucking written them, or let alone recorded them, then of course you’re going to make bad art. So when it’s time for me to create, I think it’s really important to not think about any of that shit. It’s good not to think about how what I do relates to my roots or not.

You have a quote about working with Butch Walker, who produced your new album, saying you wish you had found him ten years ago. What is it that separates him from other producers you’ve worked with?

[Laughs] Well the first thing is that is a statement I slightly regret making. As I realized after making it, there’s a slightly implied dis to some of the other producers I’ve worked with, which was not my intention at all. I also think that counter-factuality about your own life is really boring. You know, “What would have happened if I’d done this album with guy.” Just fucking get on with your life, you know?

Having said all that, the thing is Butch is just an immensely talented producer. Also, I think that he and I have a lot in common as songwriters, and as performers, as well just a producer-artist kind of thing. With Positive Songs I had this idea about how I wanted to make the record, and I just couldn’t find anyone that I felt really grasped what I was saying on a level that would make it work. Of course when you have a conversation with a producer who the label is putting up, they’re going to tell you that they understand exactly what you mean and exactly what you’re driving at. But with all of them I was like “No you fucking don’t, shut up.” Whereas with Butch the minute we started talking about it, it was just like “Yeah?” “Yeah!” You know one of those conversations where you agree on everything for a long period of time. I really feel like he understands what I’m trying to do. In part, because it’s not a million miles away from what he’s trying to do.

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fangirlfotos.com

Listening to the record, it gets to “Silent Key,” and all of a sudden it’s this stunning female vocal. It’s placement on the record is a sort of shock of fresh air through the headphones. Can you tell me a little bit more about it?

Well firstly I will join you in the celebrating the joy that is Esme Patterson, who sang that vocal part. She’s incredible. I knew I wanted to have a guest vocal part, I knew I wanted it to be a woman. I also wanted it to be an American, because she’s playing Christa McAuliffe, so it seemed respectful to try to get someone from the same country. So we kind of ran through a list of people, and the label was trying to get me to get someone with a “name” on the record. Which… I don’t want to be overly punk about this—that would be cool on some levels. But it didn’t come together.

So, Esme is signed with Extra Mile Recordings, the label that I work with in the UK. We’d done some shows together. At this point, we’d actually finished recording the record, we’d done everything apart from that vocal part. And it was starting to become a bit of an issue, logistically speaking. And I did a couple of shows with her in January and the minute she started singing it was like “Duh! This is the person who is supposed to do this. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that before.” It was fantastic. I taught her the part, took her down to the studio and she cut it in two takes.

It really is great. She has a blending voice with yours, but it’s also totally different.  And it’s so clear…

Exactly! It sounds like a fucking chiming bell! I love it. It just cuts through. And it’s effortless. The way she kind of slides into that first note… just uhh [fawns].

So I’d like to talk about your unreleased/B-sides recordings, The First Three Years, The Second Three Years, and those things. Why do you end up with so many unused recordings? And why then release them?

I dunno, I think most bands have a lot of material hanging around, and they choose to stockpile it, or not release it or whatever. It’s not that I have low-standards, per-say. I was recording yesterday, here in Nashville, just doing B-sides. I want my recordings to have a degree of verity to them. I’m not the best singer in the world, I’m not the best guitar player. We could do 400 takes and keep going until I get it absolutely 100% perfect, and there have been occasions when I’ve done that on records. But there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to do that. That doesn’t sound like me. It’s dishonest to a degree, you know? I’d like to think that as a performer and as a musician I have dirt under my fingernails. I guess what I’m getting at is I don’t mind knocking out a version and putting it out there, that’s cool with me.

So will you actually go into the studio to record B-Side tracks?

Sometimes, yeah. But sometimes it’s just the stuff hanging around. Another thing to mention is, I remember reading something years ago in an interview with Evan Dando, who is somebody I’m a huge fan of. He pointed out the word singer-songwriter (if that is the label that I have to bear in life, which apparently it is. It’s fine, it just makes me think of Jack Johnson, which makes me want to cut my own head off. But then again Neil Young is a singer-songwriter, and he’s punk as fuck. Anyway…). Singer-songwriter is a combination of two words. You can be a singer, you don’t necessarily have to write the songs.  I think interpretation is a really undervalued art. I spend a lot of time playing other people’s songs; that’s how I learned to play music, that’s how I learned to write songs. All the time I’m learning other bits and bobs. I mean yesterday I knocked down an Elvis cover and there’s a British Musical act called Flanders and Swann from the 40’s and 50’s. I knocked out a cover of theirs as well.

Which Elvis tune did you do?

Don’t Be Cruel.” But I’ve got a kind of weird plan for that one, so I’m not going to talk about it yet, because it’s controversial. The actual Three Years records that we had… the first one we did was because when you’re starting out you end up with a bunch of weird songs on weird compilations, and EPs and B-Sides or splits or whatever. And I thought, once all those original pressings are sold out, rather than Extra Mile or whoever having to constantly re-press all that stuff, let’s make it easier for people to get ahold of stuff. And then it just snowballed. Having said that, we just did The First Ten Years as a vinyl box set, which was a really fantastic thing to do, and hold as a physical product. At the same time, I’m not that interested in repetition, and there’s a part of me that thinks this might be an opportunity to get off that train. [Laughs]. I don’t know, maybe not. We’ll see.

So there’s a lot of bands that lean towards either being studio band or a live show band. You have this huge discography for just ten years, but on the other hand, you’ve won things like the AIM Best Live Act Award. It really seems like you are actively and excitedly living in both worlds.

I would say I pursue the live side of it with considerably more excitement. The studio is not my favorite place in the world. For a lot reasons. Part of me feels that there’s something slightly artificial about recording. Without being too melodramatic, it’s like pinning butterflies down in a photograph album. Songs continue to grow and live. Take a song like “Photosynthesis” off the second record we did. We’ve played that song every fucking day since we put the record out, and the way we play it now… I mean the structure of the song is the same, but the nuance and feel and the arrangement has mutated to the point where occasionally I’ll catch a brief snippet of the original recording and I kind of go “Fuck me, is that how people hear that song?”  The thing about playing live, and this is the thing that makes touring such an appealing way of life, is that every night is a chance to do it again. You get another go at playing the song the way it’s supposed to be. Whereas that recording that I made in 2007 or whatever it was… It’s still fucking there. [Laughs] On CD’s and iTunes accounts around the world. That constant ability to reinvent is really important to me.

I found another quote from you from the midst of your first big arena tour. You said “Life should never be lived in your comfort zone.” How are you pushing yourself out of your comfort zone now? How do you plan on doing that in days to come?

Well I stand by that comment strongly, but at the same time there’s a part of me that is very proud of the idea of continuing to do what I do, and the way that I do it, for a long time. And the more I do it, there are people who started touring with me who have gone off and done other stuff. And there’s part of me that wants to be the lifer, and go “Fuck you short timers! I wasn’t kidding!” I want to still be playing Nottingham Rock City when I’m in my 60’s. This is my world, it’s my craft, it’s the thing I know how to do. It’s the universe I want to exist in. I’ve spent a majority of my life on tour buses and in dressing rooms and I’m fine with that. That’s ok. Creatively though I’m in the middle of deciding quite how extreme I’m going to be as far as going outside of my comfort zone on the next thing I do. Because there’s part of me that wants to completely ditch everything now and do something completely different. It should be noted that this will be after this album’s cycle of touring is done, which is still a year and a half away. But there’s a part of me that wants to fuck everything off and make a soul album or a bluegrass record or something. I don’t want to repeat myself. I don’t want people to go “Oh yeah, I know what that Frank Turner guy sounds like. I don’t need to get his next record.” I want to do something weird. We’ll see, I might retract all of this.

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Photo by Atticus Swartwood

One thing that can unequivocally be said – Frank Turner has a comfort zone, and it is on stage. He took the stage with a confidence and comfortability that can only be earned over ten years and 1,799 performances. It was a full fifteen minutes of music before he stopped to say a word, and when he did he only added to the energy in the room. One would not be remiss in comparing him to a certain Boss (perhaps that’s why that quote is so popular…).

It is also clear that Turner benefited from his time in the hardcore scene. The stage presence of his band was fueled by the energy they all brought to the stage. On top of Turner’s songs having inlaid energy, the band brought even more to the performances.

But perhaps the clearest indicator of Frank Turner’s skill as a musician and performer is the audience. 3rd and Lindsley could not have held more people. And they were not just young rockers looking to get fired up. They were there, but those people’s parents were also there, dancing their asses off. And their kids. Not a song was played where there wasn’t at least one person singing along to every word. Many of the songs had huge groups of the crowd throwing fists in the air and belting. There is something in his music that just makes you want to do that.

Based on the size of the room and the statistics that exist in my head, there must have been someone jumping up and down on artificial hips.

But there was also a girl in the front row. I could see her from the balcony. She couldn’t have been older than 10 or 11. When Frank Turner walked on stage her eyes lit up like a Disney character. She clapped and cheered. She belted out choruses. She giggled when he said fuck. The look of happiness and wonder on her face was totally complete, and did not fade. Rather, it grew with each song. That girl had a better time than I think I’ve ever had doing anything.

If there is any truer measure of success in music than bringing people such pure delight, I don’t know what it could be.

BRINGING US BACK TO LIVE WITH COURTNEY BARNETT
December 10, 2015 2:23 pm

Live albums are a bit of a lost art these days. There was a time everybody did them, and some live versions were more popular than their studio counter parts (I’m willing to bet many of you have never heard the studio version of “I Want You to Want Me”). While the advent of video live sessions and things like the Spotify Sessions have worked to fill that void, new recordings of bands playing in packed theaters to raucous cheers are few and far between.

Courtney Barnett’s Live at Electric Lady Studios in New York is not quite that but it’s damn close.

courtney-barnett-21-6cfe32152b15be0798da15d1011bdd80fd8b6f91-s1000-c85There are a couple things to consider with any live recording. The most important question is also the reason live recordings are much less popular today – Can the band play? With music production being what it is, there are many acts that simply can’t reproduce what they have on their album. What you get instead is a rhythm section playing along with a computer. In some cases this means the only significant difference between a live recording and the record would be a singer without auto-tune.

This is not something you have to worry about with Courtney. First of all she doesn’t really even sing in the traditional sense. Instead she slurs out her lyrics in a Bob Dylan/Craig Finn talk-singing voice. While this might be off-putting to some, in reality it’s dope as fuck, and in the context of a live recording, it basically means she can’t sing the parts wrong. They weren’t ever quite “right” to begin with.

Taking a step back, you hear the band behind the voice: Courtney on guitar, Andrew “Bones” Sloane on bass, and Dave Mudie on drums. And they can play. Their arrangements are strong and the parts are played right. And coming off the recording is the reason live albums became so popular to begin with: Energy. It sounds like a band playing in a room together, feeding off each other. You can feel it.

Unfortunately this energy can be at odds with the other big “live record question”: How does it sound? Generally speaking, what you gain in energy you lose in fidelity. While Courtney Barnett was never known for her produced sound (rather she is known for her performing sound) there is a noticeable difference between the studio versions and live ones. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Listen to her guitar tones on “Avant Gardener.” They are simply massive. The band sounds like so much more than a trio at times, and she really gets some awesome noise out of her axe. That effect could never come across the same way on a studio track, as you would never know if it is coming from the performance or the production. Here, you know.

But, alas, the sword is double edged, and there are other things that Barnett can never do with a trio. The best example of this comes out in “History Eraser.” It’s a balls-to-the-wall punk love song that revolves around a chanted refrain “In my brain I rearrange the letters on the page to spell your name,” (Fuck yea, right?). The studio version snaps between furious guitar-charged verses and this refrain, chanted over one sustained guitar chord and a tambourine. This has a massive effect. The transition is jarring, and the return to thrashing verse is awesome every time. On top of this, the refrain line sounds like its being chanted by an occult chorus. While the music drops out, the vocal part switches from one voice to many.

The live version can’t do that. The verses are so packed with lyrics that Courtney needs the chorus to catch her breath. That leaves only Bones and Dave to sing the refrain, which the whole song is built around. In this version, it seems the band tried to combat this by keeping the instrumental parts going through the refrain. What is meant to keep the energy up actually stagnates the song. The studio version has the effect of the floor dropping out from under you. The live version is more just a stroll down a hallway. This would not be a two paragraph issue if that weren’t her most popular song.

“History Eraser” gripes aside, this a killer live album. It brings the impressive power of Courtney Barnett’s trio into your living room. The few moments of in-between-the-songs chatting are endearing. The song selection is strong, but as this was recorded years ago, all the songs are off of The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas. Fans of Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, might be a bit disappointed. Instead they can keep their fingers crossed and hope that this is not the last live recording to come out of this Aussie badass.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS WINTER PLAYLIST
December 5, 2015 1:04 am

I love when the seasons change. Mostly because I love runny noses, flu shots, sweaty pits in the afternoon and frozen fingers at night, and the overwhelming desire to be in bed at 7 because it really feels like midnight. Well, the Winter season is slowly pulling into the station, and before we know it, it’ll officially be time to curl up by a fire (or Widow Jane) and listen to our freshly made, gluten free, hand picked winter playlist! Curated by us BEASTS for your ears and this special time of year. Happy Holidays and winter season from your Atypical family.

1.Nico- Winter Song

2.Golden Panda – Snow and Taxis (Throwing Snow Remix)

3.Twin Shadow Castles In The Snow

4.The Chemical Brothers -Wide Open

5. Little Wings -By Now

6.Adueduct-The Ballad of Barbarella

7. Jack Garratt -Breathe Life

8.MYZICA – I Was Made For Loving You (KISS cover)

9. Mumford and Sons – Winter Winds

10. City and Colour -Northern Wind

11. Elvis Depressedly -Weird Honey

12. Salvia Palth – I Was All Over Her

13. Hippo Campus -Violet

14. Brothertiger – This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)

15.Caveboy – In The Grottos

16. Legs – Whole Wide Woman

17. Rubblebucket -On The Ground (homemade acoustic version)

18.Khamari – Love Yourself (Justin Bieber cover)

19. Fleet Foxes -White Winter Hymnal

20Bob Dylan -Girl From The North Country

21. City Of The Sun -What Took You So Long

22. ODESZA – Light ( feat. Little Dragon)

23. Little May – Hide

24. Dean Martin -A Marshmallow World

25. PWR BTTM – Carbs

26. Beta Radio – On The Frame

27. Vancouver Sleep Clinic -Vapour

28. Harrison Storm – The Words You Say

29. Bear’s Den -Elysium

30. Dustin Tebbutt – The Breach

Artist of the Month: Years & Years
July 1, 2015 1:43 pm

Years and Years will be your ultimate band crush of 2015. This British trio composed of Olly Alexander, Mikey Goldsworth, and Emre Turkmen have been rapidly climbing the music charts with their indie-pop sound ever since their song “Real” emerged. It’s quite hard to put a genre on them since they have hints of electronic, pop, soul, and R&B that somehow captures a wide range of young peoples attention. They’ve been given the 2015 Woodie Award for Artist to Watch and have also won BBC Sound of 2015 Award. Within the past year their careers have skyrocketed and have been on tour non-stop.

I first stumbled upon their music last fall when I was browsing through a Spotify playlist and got instantly hooked with “Real.” The more I binged on them, the more I fell in love. When I found out that their U.S. debut show was in January, I immediately jumped on it since I was dying to go to as many shows as possible during the winter season instead of being cooped up in my cozy comforter. I didn’t expect them to wow me since they were a fresh band who only had a few songs released here and there. I also didn’t know how well they would transcribe their electronic sounds in a live setting.

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Their set blew my mind. You could tell that they were genuinely nervous to play in front of an American crowd for the first time. Olly says in one Nylon interview “It’s crazy coming to a place you’ve never been to and people know your songs. I’ll never get over that.”

Years and Years performing live on stage at the 2014 Great Escape in Brighton, UK

Years and Years performing live on stage at the 2014 Great Escape in Brighton, UK

Surprisingly Olly is also a talented actor who starred in God Help The Girl, but “it’s always been the dream” (Noisey) for him to become a singer. You’d think that with such talent he’d be confident enough to flaunt his vocal chords, but he always seems to be pretty shy on stage! Their recordings are great as it is, but seeing their raw talent on stage is a whole other magical experience.

Years and Years’ music have been described as ‘dance music with heart’ which the band members seem to agree. “I’m not interested in writing songs about nothing. I’m writing personal songs, which is like therapy in a way. Those are the kind of songs I really loved when I was growing up — singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Jeff Buckley and Bob Dylan — and I’ve always written that way. But I love dance music and I love electronic music; it really affects you physically, so I’ve found a way to marry the two. Dance music is really emotional, but it often gets used in a very banal, middle-of-the-road kind of way, and that’s a shame. I would not be making music if I couldn’t make it personal to me.” (HungerTV)

I was reluctant for their set at Rough Trade to end, since I wasn’t sure when the next time I’d be able to experience them would be. But soon enough, they came back to the U.S. in March and I had a chance to see them in Boston again. They’ve also release some new music and videos, as well as announce their debut album (finally!) which comes out on July 10th in the U.S.! “Thematically, a lot of the songs I’ve written—at least 6 or 8—are breakup songs. It’s going to be a whiny breakup album. I’m most creative when I’m feeling a bit shit and lonely. I use music as therapy. A lot of the songs come from painful rejection [laughs].” (Noisey)

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