Drums

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.

SXSW SPOTLIGHT ON: NEW MYTHS
March 16, 2016 11:51 am

“We are an all-girl electronic power trio”

Occasionally it’s just easier to let a band introduce themselves.  Drummer, percussionist, and backing vocalist Rosie Slater couldn’t have summed it up better in an article featured in Modern Drummer Magazine.

Post-Punk revivalists New Myths follow a deep tradition of New York underground rockers that have payed sonic homage to their music idols while offering their own sleek iteration. You can make easy comparison’s to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who introduced a new indie-obsessed generation to the icy shriek of Siouxsie Sioux, or Interpol’s metro-polished take on Joy Division’s Ian Curtis.  New Myths’ guitarist and lead-singer Brit Boras summons the haunting vocal muse of Blondie, but injects it with grungy guitar-pop more akin to Paramore.

 

??CMJ day 4! Today were playing @ @rockwoodmusichall @ noon & @thedelancey [downstairs] @ 2:15pm! thanks again to @melismaticdiva for the GIF! @pancakesandwhiskey @atypicalsounds #cmj2015 #cmjmusicmarathon #cmjmusicfestival #newmyths #melismaticblog #thedelanceynyc #rockwoodmusichall #nyc

Posted by New Myths on Friday, October 16, 2015

New Myths quickly gained traction in 2013 after an endorsement by the late Lou Reed. The legendary Velvet Underground singer-songwriter/noise-rock-pioneer hand-picked “False Gold” off of New Myths self-titled debut EP and showcased the track on XM Radio syndicated “Lou Reed’s New York Shuffle”.  When New Myths convened a year later to record their full-length Give Me Noise, they were fortunate to collaborate with veteran producer Seth Glassman, who’s worked side by side with Paul McCartney, James Brown, Elvis Costello, and many others. You can check out the bulk of New Myths music on their SoundCloud.

We’re excited to announce that New Myths will be performing at our very own ATYPICALSOUNDS SXSW Day Party this Friday, March 18th, at Darwin’s Pub. We’ll see you there!

PROTOMARTYR BRING MOTOR CITY POST-PUNK CHOPS TO UNDERGROUND ARTS
February 17, 2016 11:00 am

Last Friday, February 12th, Detroit post-punk outfit Protomartyr performed at Philly’s Underground Arts in support of their critically acclaimed record The Agent Intellect, their second release via Hardly Art.  It was a frosty evening, but the intensifying snowfall did little to deter a boisterous crowd from cramming into the dimly lit venue.

First on the evening’s bill was Taiwan Housing Project, a local Philly noise rock band that pays homage to ‘No Wave’ provocateurs before them such as  Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. The band features both screeching saxophone bursts reminiscent of James Chance noise experiments as well as lead singer Kilynn Lunsford’s devastating howl, who also strikes an uncanny resemblance to a young Lydia Lunch.   Their sound is an excruciating blanket of atonality and dissonance. Their debut Taiwan Bulding Project 7″ EP is available via M’Lady Records.

Taiwan_Building_Project

Next in line, hailing from D.C., was Priests, a four-piece “Real Life Non Internet Band” that combine psychobilly antics of The Cramps with a relentless tension and grit of punk. The formation of a mosh pit almost immediately commenced upon Priests taking the stage. Cans of beer began to fly overhead.  Audience members, perhaps uninitiated to the more visceral edge of live punk performance, showed visible distress and disorientation. It was chaotic, experiential, it was, “real life non internet.” Their debut EP Bodies and Control and Money and Power is available via Sister Polygon Records.

Priests

Protomartyr closed the evening’s festivities with their smart and gloomy brand garage rock. Songs like “I Forgive You” kept the crowds on their feet with the off-kilter post-punk grooves of Greg Ahee’s impeccable angular guitar hooks and Alex Leonard’s precise drum execution. Front-man Joe Casey was in signature dapper attire as he shared disparaging tales of a crumbling Motor City necropolis in his somber baritone. The performance was an immaculate reproduction of their record, rewarding avid listeners with a near-complete track list of The Agent Intellect, along with a selection of other select tunes from previous output.

Protomartyr_Guitar

5 HUNKS FROM CHICAGO: WELCOME THE WALTERS
February 11, 2016 10:56 am

Hunk: noun | a handsome man with a well-developed physique.

The Walters are a Chicago 5-piece that posses two qualities: nostalgia for 1960s pop rock and a large dose of irony.  The self-described “hunks” have dubbed their sound “cardigan” rock.  In addition to an active touring schedule, they also claim to be a minor league baseball team that adheres to a strict exercise regimen, although any supporting evidence of such activity is lacking, or at least invisible on the internet. The album cover for their self-released Young Men EP, released this past December, displays The Walters in white turtlenecks, holding a giant blank check. It’s difficult to get passed their facade.  However, once you peel back the layers, you’re left with saccharine sweet vocal harmonies, stripped down guitar riffs, and a steady rhythm section underpinning tightly composed songs.

walters

Uplifting music can be a bit unnerving at times. At face value it’s difficult to take in overt happiness in contemporary music as genuine. Fact: the modern world is scary. With smart phones constantly buzzing in our pockets, and an endless stream of information assailing us from all angles, whether via social media or email, we’re exposed to tragic and disheartening news at an alarmingly rapid clip. With song titles like “Sweet Marie,” “Hunk Beach,” “Goodbye Baby,” and “I Love You So,” The Walters’ feel-good vibe harkens back to a time when music was much simpler.  Comparisons to Beach Boys as well as 50s ‘doo-wop’ groups are befittingly abound.  Although skepticism is understandable at first, their accessible and catchy music makes it easy to reminisce a bygone culture of innocence and naivety.

Surprisingly, The Walters are still unsigned. They’ve steadily picked up steam in their native Chicago, performing at a handful of local venues and events. Even more impressive, a handful of their tracks reached ‘viral’ status on Spotify, quite an accomplishment to boast for a relative unknown. It wouldn’t come as a shock if The Walters signed a recording contract in short order. They have the creative output, and a marketable brand to boot.

If you’d like to acquire some of their tunes, look no further than The Walters’ Bandcamp page. While it’s always a nice gesture to chip in, both of their EPs are available at “name your price.” They’ve also uploaded a slew of supplemental tracks onto their SoundCloud.

SAVAGES RETURN WITH THE SAME INTESITY IN ADORE LIFE
January 23, 2016 12:05 pm

London-based post-punk revivalists Savages return with their sophomore effort Adore Life, via Matador Records.  This record is a continuation of their harsh, relentlessly brooding assailment that brought the band to critical acclaim off the heels of their 2013 debut Silence Yourself.  Again we have Jehnny Beth’s agonizing howl, joined by Gemma Thompson’s ferociously swerving guitar, Ayse Hassan’s bombarding bass, and Fay Milton’s mechanized percussion. Their music conjures up the dark, icy-edge of late-70s art rock of Siouxsie and the Banshees and Public Image Ltd.  You get the picture.

Savages made quite the stir when they first came into the spotlight.  To some, their antics can be quite unsettling.  Silence Yourself was a political album, it was preceded by a manifesto on their website, which was also recited at the beginning the video for “Shut Up”, an aptly titled tune. At live shows directions were posted outside of hosting music venues, instructing attendees to politely turn off their mobile devices. In other words, please silence yourself.

Ok, not exactly your run of the mil request from an indie band in 2013.  But ok.  Fine, I’ll turn off my phone.

Their hopes were simple.  To turn their music into an immersive experience.  To alleviate you from the world’s modern ‘distractions’.  While most indie bands might jump at the opportunity for free exposure via social media, Savages sought to have their music be the absolute center-piece.  They want to be taken very, very seriously.  In a world where we seldom think twice before taking out our phones and unapologetically snapping pictures of our idols, perhaps their manifesto isn’t so absurd after all.

Savages is here to make music.  They’re no gimmick.

With Adore Life, Savages bring us an album about the most primordial human emotion of all: love.  But like their stance on music, politics and art, their discussion on the subject of love is deadly serious.  No holding hands in the park and sharing an ice cream cone, no. We’re talking about love as a societal-balancing scale.

Beth goes through all of love’s permutations.  In “The Answer“, love is a source of jealousy. Beth states, “If you don’t love me / you don’t love anybody” followed by the plea “sleep with me / and we’d still be friends / or I know / I’ll go insane.”  In “Adore”, love is temptation, “If only I’d hidden my lust / And starved a little bit more / Is it human to adore life?” In “Evil”, love is  a political instrument blockading us from true happiness: “only one way to raise a family / I squeeze your brain ’til you forget / why is it you’re afraid?” In “Sad Person”, love is a psychosis: “love is a disease / the strongest addiction I know / what happens in the brain / is the same as the rush of cocaine / the more you have / the more you crave.” In “T.I.Y.W.G.” we’re faced with irresistible physical passion: “this is what you get when you mess with love?” followed by “All you want is that feeling again…I saw a no become a yes”. Adore Life discusses love as a boundless, size-less, shapeless entity.

Savages are serious as a band as they are about the love, but you’ve considered these ramifications before.  Many times before. It’s simple: absorb and spread love throughout, and at the end of the day, Adore Life.

MANSIONS ON THE MOON GET SHIT DONE
December 30, 2015 5:27 pm

In the music biz connections are your lifeline. No, that doesn’t mean you can’t establish yourself purely on the merits of your own raw talent or dedication to perfecting your craft. It’s just, competition is fierce. In a world saturated to the bursting point with MIDI laptop DJs and YouTube divas, it doesn’t hurt to know someone.

Mansions on the Moon are your textbook example of how to get it done. Back in 2011 they jumped on the festival-centric EDM hype train and rode it for the victory lap. Although they attracted an avid fan-base with their brand of hook-friendly synth pop, again, it doesn’t hurt to know someone.

Mansions are the collaboration between Pnuma Trio members Ben Hazlegrove on keys and Lane Shaw on drums, along with guitarist and singer-songwriter Ted Wendler. Pnuma Trio achieved a considerable following sharing stages with live music heavyweights such as String Cheese Incident, Disco Biscuits, and Michael Franti, eventually culminating with the release of 2007’s Character via Columbia. Upon forming Mansions in 2011, high-profile acts were eager to help the startup find their footing.  Again, it doesn’t hurt to know someone.

Their first release, Paradise Falls, was ‘presented’ by DJ Benzi and Diplo. The album is packed with collaborations from other notable names such as Xaphoon Jones of Chiddy Bang and Big Gigantic.  In 2012 the group followed up with another EP, Lightyears, this time teaming up with N*E*R*D.  Believe it or not, being produced by Pharrell Williams can dramatically boost your grade on the Hype-o-Meter.  Did I mention it doesn’t hurt to know someone?

In 2014 Mansions self-produced their Full Moon EP to commemorate their move to LA.  Most recently it seems Mansions has been someone dormant–while their Facebook page is rife with news of other EDM peers, very little recent actively can be accounted for other than a timely vinyl pressing of a few of their singles just in time for the holidays.

GET YOUR GROOVE ON WITH GROOVE SCRIBE
November 10, 2015 5:49 pm

Q: How do you tell if your stage is level?

A: The drool is coming out of both sides of your drummer’s mouth.

The “Dumb Drummer” joke. A staple of any respectable touring group. Even aside from the preconceived derogatory jokes, drummers catch a lot of flak.

One reason behind this is that there is a huge percentage of drummers who are completely self-taught. While many of these players are legit, this trend can precipitate the stereotype that drummers are dummies who don’t actually know anything about music.

This trend has compounded even further with the advent of electronic drums and digital producing. Now you don’t even need a drumset to be a bad drummer – just a laptop. Again, this has opened the door for some to write drum parts who otherwise might not have tried (Dan Deacon, James Murphy, Darwin Deez…), but it has made a longtime issue in drumming even more problematic: How do I write down this drumbeat?

For as long as drumming has been a thing, this has been an issue, even for highly trained drummers. Traditional music notation doesn’t really work as well for a drumset. There is a high learning curve toward reading any musical notation well, but traditional western notation can be frustrating even for drummers that know what they’re doing, especially when trying to write music on computer software.

Fortunately electronic drumming did not just complicate this problem, it also provided a solution.

That solution is Groove Scribe, a new notation and learning tool from Mike Johnston. Johnston’s website (mikeslessons.com) is the largest educational website for drummers in the world. Through his experience, Johnston became aware of just how much of a pain it is to digitally “jot down” a drum beat, especially for the many players that don’t have the requisite music theory knowledge, or the necessary musical notation software suite.

Johnston’s solution came from the world of drum machines. The advent of samplers brought with it a new concept – a beat grid. Incorporated in some of the earliest drum machines, beat grids are now commonplace in programs like Ableton and even GarageBand. These grids are a relatively simple representation of a musical measure, and allow mostly anyone to come up with a drum beat.

SOH-Drum-Pat-Jakin-Fidget

Example of an Ableton beat grid

Johnston’s tool takes the grid a step further. After composing a beat on the grid, Groove Scribe then translates that grid into actual musical notation. This makes this not only an ease-of-use notation tool, but also a learning tool. Now drummers that don’t have a firm grasp of notation can not only write out their beats, but also learn how to write them out in proper form.

Another huge feature of Groove Scribe is the share function. Any beat can be named and sent to any friend, student, or bandmate. This furthers Groove Scribe’s use as a teaching tool. Now a teacher can send a beat, the student can see it, hear it, and then change it and send it back. This can also be used to help musicians collaborate over long distances.

The craziest thing about Groove Scribe is its price point. That is – it doesn’t have one. This tool is totally free to use, for anyone, at any time. This exponentially increases its use as a learning tool. I can post a link to a beat, and any drummer in the world (with internet access) can use it. There is no sign up or download, just instant beat making. Johnston also provides a series of tutorials, highlighting the depth of functionality that Groove Scribe offers.

The one issue with Groove Scribe is that it’s currently only browser based, so you need an active internet connection to use it. Hopefully an app version is on the way, which would allow users to quickly use the tool on their devices. While the online version still looks pretty good on a mobile device, it certainly leaves some things to be desired, and doesn’t feel exactly “right.” Also, there can be a bit of lag when the drum loops repeat, especially when doing anything else with your browser. An app would also help as many drummers have access to their smart phone while sitting at their drumset, but not necessarily a computer.

So go ahead, give it a shot. Make a beat. Or better yet, take mine and make it better.

beat atticus

You Need To Know Idgy Dean
October 14, 2015 9:00 am

Upon first listen, the album Ominous Harminus reads as a valiant debut effort from a trio of sound-makers: a drum-kit banging out up-tempo poly-rhythms, an electric guitar setting the tone with easy yet catchy melodies, and a vocalist driving the energy forward with a combination of chanting and singing.

Only this album did not come with just three instrumentalists. Meet Idgy Dean, a “one-woman psychedelic rock band with DIY beats and reveries built from the bottom up.” Her songs are all looped live on stage with a loop pedal, modified drum kit composed of just snare, tom, and cymbal and an electric guitar.

idgy fuckin dean

Her debut album Ominous Harminus is layered meticulously with every detail mapped and planned ranging from the vowel of her chant to the number of 1/16 beats in a measure. There is a mathematical quality to her instrumentals, not unlike some of my other favorite one-woman acts tUnE-yArDs and Julianna Barwick. She also has a rhythmic bounciness to her vocal melodies evocative of a Sylvan Esso, CHVRCHES, or even Purity Ring tone.

Tracks like “The Indian Squirrel Dance” and “Hopscotch” stand out from the rest of the pack as true indie-dance ballads while the rest function more as atmospheric soundscapes. However, as each listen exposes sounds that had previously gone unheard, the album begins to grow more refined with age.

While Dean’s debut is not quite as adventurous into the realm of electronica as loop-heavy masterpieces like tUnE-yArDs’ Whokill or Sylvan Esso’s self titled debut, the creativity in her videos and the skill seen in her live footage shows the potential she has to harness this talent and develop her songwriting ability to evolve into the next big solo/band hybrid artist out there.

You can catch Idgy Dean live at CMJ TOMORROW (THURSDAY) at our Atypical Beasts Agency Showcase at Piano’s!