CMJ

THIS MONDO THING
September 26, 2016 9:59 am

At  the Mondo NYC music conference earlier this month, every conversation began the same way: “Sucks about CMJ, doesn’t it?” “Yeah, what do you think of this Mondo thing?”

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To be honest, I went into Mondo disappointed for various reasons; one, because it was not a rebirth of my favorite dance party, and two, because I was very much looking forward to (the currently defunct) CMJ. Though Mondo was created by Bobby Haber and Joanne Abbot Green, the pair sold the conference in 2012. Could Mondo hold a candle to CMJ, my favorite local music conference? And could it ever grow to compete with the behemoth that is SXSW?

ATYPICAL SOUNDS was lucky to grab a few minutes with Austin natives Kelly Barnes and Brian Cole of the band Darkbird (who put on an absolutely incredible Saturday-night show at Pianos), and get their opinion on Mondo vs potential-future-competitor SXSW:

Kelly: My feelings about SXSW from years ago were great, because it was aimed at getting newer artists like ourselves up and running, getting seen by people that can actually take bands to the next level, and now it’s Kanye West performing or Bruce Springsteen. And there’s thousands and thousands of people coming to see that.

It’s just becoming this huge shit show, [which] is probably the best way to put it. And it’s just over-saturated. So it kind of lost its focus. I think if Mondo were to grow into what SXSW was…[SXSW] did have a time, and it peaked, and it was something really great and useful.

Brian: SXSW has turned into a monster that can barely contain itself. It’s having issues keeping itself together because it’s so big now. There’s lots of corporations involved now, like it’s “Lady Gaga on the Doritos stage”, and it’s not really about getting bands exposure, getting them in contact. It’s about the industry and the bands, giving them a place to meet, and that’s what I would like to see Mondo do. And I think they’re starting on the right foot. I went to a couple panels yesterday, and it was inspiring.

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Kelly: The business has changed so much. It’s not like someone sees your show and is like, “Come on, baby. Let’s make you a star!” Everyone’s kind of throwing their hands up in the air like “How does this work?”.

When [music] is something you do to try to make a living, it’s really frustrating – you’ve got the talent, you have all these things you want to do. But how do you do it? How do you get there? How do you get your music in the right hands? How do you get someone to listen to it? And maybe these conferences give you some tools and ideas that maybe you haven’t thought about. And you feel like you’re learning something very valuable. There’s so many question marks about how to do it anymore. It’s frustrating.

Brian: One aspect that I like about Mondo is they’re bringing in new technology, as well. The music industry is changing because of new technologies. Nobody buys CDs anymore. Nobody has the attention span to listen to a full album.

Kelly: Record deals from big labels aren’t worth anything anymore. Now it’s independent labels, or people are DIY-ing everything. But it’s possible that way. Here, you’re learning about how to utilize technology.

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The utilization of technology was an important topic throughout panel discussions at Mondo, which included talks called Why Can’t Music Apps Get Funding? and Digital Entertainment and Content. The honesty of many of the panelists was refreshing and informative. However, it was jarring to watch these presenters, some of whom with 20+ years of experience in the music industry, insinuating they don’t really know what’s going to happen with the music industry since file sharing essentially wiped them out. Then again, no one should have had to pay $20 for a CD in the first place, so they kind of had it coming. And there seems to be a lot of freedom right now to figure out what the “next big thing” in the music industry will be, so that’s at least one positive to come out of the Wild West the industry has become.

Mondo featured 3 days of panel talks, with 5 days of music showcases happening at venues throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. The showcases were not all day and night (as in CMJ), but happened only at night after the panel talks. While conferences like CMJ and SXSW thrive on their ability to offer band exposure from constant showcases throughout, Mondo limited this time by keeping the showcases nightly. Spreading the showcases out between Manhattan and Brooklyn also limited the number of showcases that could be seen in one night, with attendees being forced to choose one borough over another.

Ultimately, for their first year, Mondo made a pretty decent go of things. Having corresponded with the organizers, it’s clear they’re looking to grow and improve, and are doing so through open communication with attendees. Because of their willingness to “give the people what they want”, Mondo could grow into a strong contender in music conferences in the coming years. I’m looking forward to seeing that happen.

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ARTIST OF THE MONTH: METHYL ETHYL
April 1, 2016 10:58 am

Here at AtypicalSounds we’re always looking out for the next big thing. Our April Artist of the Month is Methyl Ethel, a Perth-based dreampop trio that are hot off the heels of releasing their debut record Oh Inhuman Spectacle, which was released digitally last month via 4AD.  The album showcases a sleek backdrop of psych-rock influences, reverb-drenched guitar, and Jake Web’s oddball lyrics: the chorus to lead single “Twilight Driving” caution unsuspecting drivers to watch out for “roos”.

Methyl Ethel are the latest indie upstart to burst out of Australia in the wake of big acts to emerge from the continent including Courtney Barnett and Tame Impala. The band’s following has been growing steadily since CMJ this past October, demonstrated by their insane and successful performance at this year’s SXSW. They’ve proven their ability to arouse new fans to faithfully follow them wherever their tour may take them.

Unfortunately, if you haven’t had a chance to catch them live yet, you might have to wait a bit. They’ve just wrapped up the US-wing of their international tour and are doing their last handful of shows in Europe and in native Australia. We’ll be waiting their return.

MEET IAN
December 22, 2015 9:00 am

Ian isn’t that nice boy from the library your mom wants you to meet. Ian is actually a dream pop trio that originated in Boston, during singer/writer Jilian Medford’s tenure at Berklee. Now based in Los Angeles, bandmates Medford, Tim Cheney, and Damien Scalise have released their eponymous EP and are working to bring their diaphanous sound to the masses.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS caught up with Jilian to chat about her time at the famous music school and the band’s first time at CMJ.

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You released your first EP during your senior year at Berklee. How did your experience there shape you as a musician? Was there a lot of competition between you and your classmates?

JM: Berklee is a very interesting school. Most of the kids I know and was close to while attending ended up dropping out after their 2nd or 3rd year. I had thoughts of doing the same but my mom wouldn’t let me and also I wanted to finish and walk in graduation with funny socks peeping through the bottom of my gown!

There is a lot of competition at that school, and it drove me to start exploring different ways of expression, because I just didn’t feel like I was pushing myself enough or I didn’t feel like I was fully executing my projects to my full potential. So I decided to seek out Mark Fede for our EP (he has worked bands like Guerrilla Toss and Fat History Month) and it was a huge step in the right and certain direction for this band.

The recording process was short and sweet and hot and sweaty in August of 2014. We mainly recorded this tape to have something to give people on our summer tour but it ended up taking many twists and turns in a positive direction that we are so grateful for! People actually listened, I didn’t really know what I expected but I just didn’t know if anyone would listen.

Your first CMJ festival was this year. Did anything stand out to you about your performance?

JM: Cake Shop was special! The spot itself reminds me a lot of this spot in Boston called Great Scott so it was a familiar vibe. It was the end of CMJ so the show was quaint and filled with familiar faces, plus a few new ones, and my best friend Ellen Kemper from Palehound came and it was the best surprise since she had been so busy all week.

Something that really stood out was a 60-year-old woman asking me if she could buy our shirt that says “don’t call me” on it, since she had just left her husband of 30 years and wanted to wear it next time they saw each other! Kick ‘em 2 the curb!

How did you prepare for the show?

JM: [The band] hung out in a practice space together and got our new songs all worked out so we could be comfortable dancing while playing them.

Did you discover anyone new?

JM: OooOoo!! Loved seeing PWR BTTM! That was my first time seeing them play and it was incredible. So intimate even though so many people were there, and they managed to engage every single person watching. It was admirable.

Always love seeing one of my favorite bands Kal Marks at the Exploding in Sound showcase as well as Palm! Got to catch Protomartyr at the Sub Pop showcase, had to pee the entire time during their set but it was worth the wait, their new record is fire fire FIRE!! And they are even better live; Joe Casey’s stage presence makes me think of Bill Murray.

Were you able to try the pizza while in New York? How did it compare to the pizza in LA or Boston (where you’re based now)?

JM: We did eat pizza, I remember it clearly because we ordered a chicken bacon ranch pizza and couldn’t stop chanting CHICKEN BACON RANCH down the street all night long. This is my breakdown of foods between BOSTON NY AND LA: Boston has the best donuts (dunkin donuts, strawberry frosted, keep it simple baby), NY has the best pizza and hot dogs, LA has the best Mexican food ~ taco trucks till infinity.

What can fans can expect to see from you in the future?     

JM: The future, especially this coming year is really exciting for us. We will be relocating to LA in the next couple months to see if that is the spot for us, or to at least escape for the winter, and finishing a record to come out later next year, which will hopefully be accompanied by a lot of touring and traveling and seeing new places, faces, plants and dogs!

QUIRKY CLEVER KOOKY COOL: WEAVES
November 24, 2015 8:31 am

Toronto has produced yet another phenomenal alternative indie music act with Weaves. Although they have only been a band for less than two years, Weaves has been on the Beasts’ radar for a while now, playing our CMJ showcase at Pianos this past October, and living up to the respectable hype generated by publications such as The Gaurdian, NME, and Rolling Stone.

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The praise is well warranted as the music of Weaves is in a category of it’s own. Front woman Jasmyn Burke and friends have created a spunky brand of laid back stoner pop that has been immersed in a world of pop art. The laid back vibe brings a wave of 90’s nostalgia with it, drawing comparisons to acts such as The Thermals and fellow Canadians The New Pornographers. But Weaves has something more. They have a creative element to their sound that goes beyond music. Is it the recognizable sense of humor? The non-chalantness? Or the never before seen Individuality? I’d say it some combination of all of these.

Their debut self-titled EP is a sonic masterpiece of the lazy punk- indie rock aesthetic. The record, released through Buzz Records, was produced by Dave Newfeld, known for his work with Broken Social Scene and Super Furry Animals. Tracks like “Take A Dip” feature wailing guitars and upbeat melodies while tracks like “Buttercup” and “Do You See Past” present a loosened up and faded side of Weaves.

After their big 2014 release, Weaves shows no signs of slowing down. Their Summer was spent on tour in Europe and since their New York City CMJ appearance, they have been spotted in Iceland. Their next show will be in their hometown of Toronto at Lee’s Palace December 5th. So if you’re in the area, make sure to see Weaves make their waves.

If your like the rest of us, You will probably be reminiscing a bit this holiday weekend on how the hell you’ve gotten so old. So the Beasts suggest you take a trip out of time, perhaps back to the 90’s, throw on the Weaves EP, and go ahead, stuff your face, we’re not watching.

THE BEST OF CMJ
November 16, 2015 9:02 am

Another year, another CMJ. It’s no doubt that CMJ Music Marathon is one of the best music festivals held in NYC where you can discover both local and international bands. The city turned into a playground for bands and made millennials stay up all night dancing to some catchy tunes. Not only did CMJ offer great music to our city but also incorporated daytime programming where people could learn about music politics, attend Q&A sessions with radio promoters, and even have a cheeky breakfast with music industry individuals.

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Here at ATYPICALSOUNDS, we’re all about celebrating indie music so we curated three killer showcases with the best bands you need to know right now. Our first showcase on Thursday featured artists like Stolen Jars, Weaves, Methyl Ethyl, and IDGY Dean who slammed drumbeats along her soulful voice. Our biggest day party was on Friday at The Delancey and we had a lineup to fill all three floors. We managed to squeeze in Bent Denim to our lineup who were perfect to start the day with their calm shoegaze tunes. The rooftop crowd was amazed by Avi Jacob who nailed “Cannonball.” Wolkoff and Caveboy were also astounding artists who added an extra umph to the show. Beverly played at our last showcase at Cameo Gallery and performed smoothly with her breathy vocals. Lena Fayre, who’d been in all three showcases, closed the night with her deep, dark, and emotional tones that gave chills throughout the room.

Throughout the week there were many more artists we discovered that blew our minds. Australian band Good Morning played the Cake Shop on a Tuesday night and talked about their favorite video games after the show. We headed to The oberjikjDelancey later that night to check out City of the Sun who never fails to leave us in amazement with their rhythmic skills. Birch was playing on a Wednesday night at the Bowery Electric and energized the room with Michelle’s electric blue hair and dancy beats. Cosmo Sheldrake was a pleasant change from the guitar and drums we’ve been used to listening to. A multi-talented instrumentalist who creates a piece by putting together different sounds especially wowed the crowd with his improvisation skills. We headed to see the Brooklynite Oberhofer own the stage at Mercury Lounge and had a chat about his album Chronovision after his show behind the merch table. Saturday at The Delancey were dedicated specifically to bands from Australia. Gordi caught my attention with her acoustic guitar folk tunes and calming voice.

The BEASTS are are pretty damn good at this whole “knowing where to find good music” thing. Last month’s CMJ was an obvious reminder of that, and there will be plenty more where that came from. Just wait for SXSW….

METHYL ETHYL WORKS UPON YOUR CHEMISTRY
November 5, 2015 10:41 am

Strait off the CMJ circuit and coming to you all the way from Perth, Australia are indie dream-popers Methyl Ethyl. With their 60’s tinged mellow psychedelic sounds, this rising act has a chemistry that works directly upon the soul.a3364250038_16

It seems to be a ripe time for our friends south of the equator, as some of the most defining indie music of this decade has been pouring out of these Australian cities. Perhaps it is the reflection of our own alter egos that we Americans see, or maybe it’s just something in the Oceania air. While Methyl Ethyl will undoubtedly draw comparisons to bands like Tame Impala and Chet Faker, their overall sound is actually quite distinguishable from these more popular Australian acts. And quite honestly, the intrigue is in the anonymity. Methyl Ethyl is still a relatively obscure band. Their budget surely doesn’t meet the heights of some of the more mainstream artists within the indie world. This sonic rawness comes across in their debut LP Oh Inhuman Spectaclereleased June of this year, which ironically parallels albums such as 2001 indie classic Oh Inverted World by The Shins.

The Band formed in 2013, releasing two EPs respectably that year. However their effects heavy experimental sound truly comes to fruition in their most recent release. Oh Inhuman Spectacle is full of delicate arpeggios, fat contrasting bass lines and expertly executed synth tones. The Album begins in a sort of eerie dissociative state which progresses into the soul filled nostalgia of “Twighlight Driving,” eventually ending with “Everything as it Should Be,” which eases you out of the psychedelic trip that was Oh Inhuman Spectacle.

With just under four thousand Facebook followers, Methyl Ethyl has clearly just begun their musical journey. Make sure to listen to their new album and hop on board while they’re still young. The Beasts will be putting this one on repeat and we hope to see them stateside soon!

 

CAVEBOY IN THE LIMELIGHT
November 3, 2015 1:35 pm

Is that Robyn singing? Is she in this room? Wait, no. Is that Tegan and Sarah? Who is that singing? These thoughts raced through my mind as I made my way down to the main floor of The Delancey. Once down, my eyes met the stage where three girls lit up the room with their electric girl power energy. Dying to know who these girls were, I turned to a stranger to ask. They replied, “Caveboy.”

With their cool rocker hair, vibey 80’s flair meets modern electronic indie beats and fierce primal stage presence, their name suits them well. Don’t even get me started on the vocals. If lead singer Michelle’s voice was a currency it would be gold because those vocal cords are flawless. Accompanied by Isabelle (synth extraordinaire, bass and backing vocals) and Lana (bad ass drummer and backing vocals) they are the perfect trio. Towards the end of their set, they all banged on one drum for an entire song. It was mesmerizing. There wasn’t a heart in that room that wasn’t racing. There are people who perform just to perform. And then there are people who perform to not only feel something themselves but make their audience genuinely feel something. Caveboy is the latter. They just released their Caveboy EP to iTunes this month. With undeniable hits such as “Something Like Summer” and In “The Grottos,” their name might be Caveboy but their heading right past all the bedrock and straight towards the limelight. Check them out below!

SAY GIRL SAY SPEAKS AT CMJ
November 2, 2015 4:46 pm

Who knew there’d be a whole showcase dedicated to bands from Texas? CMJ was packed with delightful bands playing around the city, but the “Texas Takeover” at The Delancey was something that was worth checking out and helped me discover some bands outside of the local scene I’ve been stuck in lately. Even if you missed it, no worries! We got to speak to one of the talented bands, Say Girl Say, and hear what they had to say about music, tacos, and their bond to mother nature.
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How’s CMJ so far?

Suzan: SO COOL. We started off with the kick-off party at Pianos on Tuesday and then we played a private dinner party at the Chef Club.

Was it part of CMJ?

Suzan: No, not really, but it was really cool. It was like a Houston by New York mixer. So it was like Houston culture being introduced to New York. It was just us. There were a couple of chefs there from Houston that are pretty well known and got some really awesome food down there.

What’s your favorite food?

TACOOOOOOS(in unison). Straight up!

I thought you’d say BBQ!

Suzan: We’re known for that, but we’re vegetarian. But tacos…Breakfast tacos, lunch tacos. Put eggs, veggies, mushrooms, spinach, avocado, onion, red pepper, green pepper, jalapeno, sriracha!

So have you discovered any good taco places around New York?

Suzan: We stay away from that food when we’re here because we can have it when we go back home. We’ve had pizza and bagels- The food’s great here.

How did you guys get together as a band?

Suzan: Bridget and I worked at an environmental non-profit and we immediately clicked once we found out we love music and at the time I just learned how to play the ukulele and later on Bridget bought a ukulele and started playing infront of friends at open mics. There’s a local bar called the Avant Garden that we play at on Tuesday nights and that’s where Luke met us!

Luke: They were actually on stage when we walked in. I immediately flored at their voices and performance. Both these girls were singing into one microphone and they both had ukuleles and were playing it into the other microphone. It was funny, but I loved what I was hearing.

Bridget: It’s pretty DIY

And how many years ago was this?

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Luke: This was on October 10th, 2011.

Suzan: Wow, Luke remembers the date!

All this face paint- Tell me all about this tribal look you guys portray!

Suzan: So we have a lot of tribal rhythms in our music. Luke uses a lot of different instruments- jambes, tables, steel drums, so there’s a wide range of influences globally to our music. So yeah, the African beat man. We have a connection to mother nature, so we really like to look like we’re coming out of the dirt sometimes, like we’re growing out of the earth. And so the more face paint, the more raw it looks and closer we are to ourselves.

How would you describe your sound in one sentence?

Suzan: Let’s make it a long sentence. Indeginous free folk soul R&B world awesome. Everything we do is very organic. The way that we write music, so it’s really cool that technically we’re all just friends, and it’s awesome that brought us together. So we like to just sit down and mess around, constant jam sessions. That’s how we write music so we just produce what comes out in the moment. We channel our productivity. We feed off each other very well, very naturally.

BLUE HEALER’S BUTT GRABBING MUSIC
October 30, 2015 2:30 pm

Playing CMJ for the first time, Blue Healer hit up the big apple and brought some booty shaking music from Austin, Texas. Three friends David Beck, Bryan Mammel, and Dees Stribling got together only a few months ago in January to form this band and made tunes with a  little bit of Rock ’n Roll, R&B, and Soul in it. With an array of bands performing at CMJ this year they took part in the Texas Takeover showcase and turned The Delancey into a party house. We’re very much excited to listen to their first album coming out in 2016!

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I take it blue is your favorite color?

Actually we were just talking about that. Yeah, at least mine is.

Mine is also blue.

I like blue.

Is that where you got your name from?

Maybe subconsciously perhaps. Sadly it’s not a really interesting story. It was going to be a song, but it didn’t and just sat there in a book written down. And then it got looked at one day- so it ended up being a band name and not a song. So it had a deceiving life. It thought it was going to be one thing all its life and it turned out that it wasn’t supposed to. It had bigger things to do.

So how’s your experience in NYC been so far?

It’s great to be here in October because all of our Facebook friends are like “oh its 97 degrees out” and theres pumpkin patches. It doesn’t really make sense in Texas. We’re not a fan of pumpkins when it’s 100 degrees outside.

How do you guys know each other?

We met in a town called San Marcos, Texas and we were sort of in the same little realm and went to this place called Cheatham Street Warehouse. There’s a little bar down there and we just ran into each other and we bought a van and that was it. We were like “we should buy a van and play music together.” And we did.

What happened to the van?

We still have it. It’s around the corner. The van is parked conveniently close to the venue. If we didn’t have the van we’d just be three normal guys.

Were you guys involved in different bands before Blue Healer?

We were all involved in different bands before this, but it wasn’t similar to this. It was all in English though, those were the only similarities. But we played all kinds of music really. I think this is the most I’ve been excited about though. It feels the most natural. It’s our ball of clay. I said that in another interview and I’m sticking with that phrase.

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What do you mean?

You can craft it and shape it any way you want. Its easy to carry around, it can change in a whim, it’s cheap. The clay that dries, or silly clay?

Silly clay, yeah. Unless you have a kiln I guess. But who has a kiln these days anyway right?

Who are your influences?

Aside from Tim Dunkin- well, sort of all kinds of music. It feels like all over the place, but somehow it all sticks together and I think that’s unique to my experience with this band is that it can blend a lot of different styles of music into one cohesive sound. We don’t like traditional Irish civil war songs. We found that out while we were on the van. No offense to the Irish.

You guys have an album coming out next year- Have you guys figured out all the songs going on it?

It’s already recorded and it’s ready to go.

Describe your album in one sentence.

BLUE. Assimilating group of songs. A couple of years of humans lives. It’s so hard, we’ll work on that one.

Butt grabbing music for sure. That sounds about right! It grabs your butt and your soul.

Any great bands you discovered during CMJ?

We saw Wet Leather at Arlene’s Grocery. We also saw one here(The Delancey)- Grammas Boyfriend. I’m not making that up! Mobley was amazing. They’re from Austin and I didn’t even know they were til today. It’s funny how you travel all the way across the country and find whatever cool bands are from your town.

BLANKO BASNET; MORE THAN A GREAT 20’S BOOTLEGGER NAME
October 29, 2015 10:06 am

During the week-long Indie blog ‘gasmfest known as CMJ, I was lucky enough to be my friend’s +1 to the Domino Records showcase. It was lovely. As soon as we got there, we were happily surprised to learn about their open bar situation and took advantage of it because in this economy, one must go where the bargain takes you.

While we’re at the bar, a band comes on and two songs into their set, it feels as though we’re listening to a Real Estate tribute band, which is something that’s been happening more and more recently. We start calling them Basically Real Estate. Once they finish, I’m buzzed enough to start outwardly saying, “Thank you! We are Basically Real Estate, you’ve been great!” The person sitting next to us, patiently dealing with my dumbness throughout the set, finally turns to me and informs me that the lead singer of that band was, in fact, the lead singer of Real Estate. What a small, derivative, world.

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Blanko Basnet is by no means in the Basically Real Estate category, but there’s no denying a few key DNA strands that make up the band’s sound. The gentle cooing of Joe Hall’s voice is the most immediate similarity here, but then the smooth jangly rhythms prominent in Blanko’s self-titled LP make the connection even stronger.

But what makes Blanko Basnet such a fun and captivating listen is how they deviate from the pleasurable rhythm those foggy beach rock bands are able to cultivate. Before forming Blanko, Hall fronted Hammer No More The Fingers, a really fun band with straightforward hooks and impressive guitar chops that make each song a guessing game to see where the tempo goes. Hall brings a lot of those qualities to this project and it makes for a melding of styles seldom seen for this style of music. It keeps Blanko Banset from falling into easy listening territory.

Each song off Blanko Basnet has a unique wrinkle that forces you to be present when listening to them. It can’t just be played as background music while studying, when all of a sudden realize you listened to the entire album once the silence hits. Do not expect songs to have choruses consisting entirely of “ooohs” and “aaaahs” like some ribbon cutting ceremony attendee. There will be moments that jump out at you. “Forest” and “Oysters” each have a great build to them, while the two instrumentals on the album, “Father” and “Face Plant” offer the most sonic variety by far. Breakbeat drum kits and acoustic guitar plucking somehow make sense together on those songs, it’s weird.

Although it’s a genre that’s fine as is for the most part, it’s nice seeing a band like Blanko Basnet gently shaking up the status quo of the Basically Real Estate world. Perhaps it can inspire Mr. Basically Real Estate himself (I know I can Google his name, I’m just being lazy. Fine, I’ll look it up right now… It’s Martin Courtney) to branch out. Martin Courtney needs you, Blanko Basnet!