Electro

AGE OF YOUNG EMPIRES
October 5, 2016 2:33 pm

Upcoming band alert!  Winston Churchill once said, “The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.” If this is the case then Canadian band Young Empires is on their way to taking over the world. While I’m honestly not a huge fan of electronic music, Young Empires mixes indie rock and electro in a way that is not overbearing and just feels damn good.

The trio from Toronto that formed in 2009 is made up of Matthew Vlahovich, Jacob Palahnuk, and Taylor Hill.  The band experienced major hype after their debut EP, Wake All My Youth, was released in 2012 and high demand for tours took over before they were able to spend a solid amount of time working on their first full-length album, The Gates, which was released last fall.

As empires go, they have been gaining ground internationally and conquering media outlets left and right.  NME compared them to The Killers, Arcade Fire, Yeasayer, and Foals. Quite the compliment from a magazine who gives out “Worst Band” awards.

To me they sound like a blend between Cut Copy and Two Door Cinema Club.  It’s energetically electronic while still being ear-otically pleasing.  You can and may very well want to dance to it, but hey, you can chillax to it too. And it is this very precise balance on which they are building their empire. Their lyrics are quite the balancing act as well. Gospel-like lyrics contain omens of both despair and hope.  For example, their song “The Gates” sings, “No I won’t lose hope, no I won’t lose sight, but heaven is a place I just can’t find” and features a music video that includes haunting scenes of religion displaced with images of humanity, beauty, and destruction. The video recently was names one of Vimeo‘s staff picks and you can watch it here.

BORNS: RADIATING EPICNESS AT TERMINAL 5
May 27, 2016 2:23 pm

BORNS. FUCKING EPIC. That’s all we have to say here at ATYPICAL SOUNDS after attending their show Wednesday night.

Terminal 5 was filled down to every last crevice at the sold out show. Fans were constantly cheers-ing beers, dawning  electric smiles and radiating good vibes all night long.

Opening acts BEAU and Coast Modern were the opening entertainment for the night. BEAU shook up the house with her strong textured vocals and bodacious dance moves while Coast Modern brought some California sunshine to the stage with their fun Cali dance tunes. Two amazing opening acts later, just when you thought the energy of the room couldn’t raise anymore, then the main course took the stage. Illuminated blue silhouettes began to play the first fun notes of Seeing Stars as Garrett BORNS effortlessly dances in twirling circles up to the mic with a beer in hand. For the rest of the night, it didn’t matter where you were in that packed venue. Close to stage or tucked in a corner, it didn’t matter because you couldn’t help but feel like you were just lucky to be there.

Going to this show was particularly special because for every song it seemed the audience was singing the song back. It’s expected that everyone would know the words to hits such as 10,000 Emerald PoolsElectric Love, Dopamine and American Money  but the whole concert virtually felt like a sing a long and that says something about the quality and greatness of BORNS sound.

Screen_Shot_2016-05-26_at_4.18.09_PM

Dopamine is a record that makes your ears crave every track and lyric. What a truly unique artist with the talent and finesse of Freddy Mercury and an incredibly talented ensemble backing him. BORNS is a must see show!

Screen_Shot_2016-05-26_at_4.19.06_PM

To see if BORNS is coming to a town near you? Click here.

Photos Courtesy of Mina J 

 

 

NAVET: SWEDEN’S ELECTRO-POP RAVE CONTINUES
May 3, 2016 11:09 am

I don’t know why but Sweden has this knack for pumping out great electro pop and deep techno artists (I’m not complaining), but Navet is one of the newest artists to emerge from that unique musical production line. ABBA, Ace of Base and Basshunter are a few of the huge famous Swedish artists and groups that have made worldwide impact and I see a lot of potential in Navet that could take them on a similar path.

The electronic world is filled with drops, dub-step, computer-obliterating-Transformers-Movie-noises and speaker-busting sounds that will make your grandparents drop their heads in shame. I personally like this music, but as is with most electronic and pop, it may not be the most sophisticated music. Dillon Francis, Diplo, Deadmau5 and Skrillex are the leading artists with club smashing hits, but there is a need for more relaxed electronic music. Navet’s pursuit is to deliver the next level of the electronic experience that even you, grandma, will like. Something more than a build, a drop and mind-bending dub-step.

In 2010, Julia Ögren, Josef Hermansson and Anders Ahlin started Navet with their EP Four Times One For Love which had some success allowing them the room to grow a lot more with their album S/T, hitting in top spots in German and Swedish iTunes’ electronic music charts. After years, we finally get their next slick single, “Companions.” 

Navet is like a bottle of Porter Robinson, Lana Del Rey and Birdy, shaken and strained for your next workout session. There is so much good here, it is hard to say where to begin. Navet is intelligent with their electronic music, I mean really freaking intelligent with it. I have been listening to a vast amount of deep electronic since my early teens and there is a lot of rehashed garbage after so many years, but Navet stands apart with the few others that use the electronic synth pads and pianos as a master of any other instrument. Their synths and long pads are beautifully atmospheric while their fast, more melodic parts are creatively varied to make the songs feel epic, upbeat and graceful all at the same time.

Julia’s voice has that confidence and pure talent reminiscent of Lana Del Rey’s intense voice. And yet she also sounds superbly thoughtful and innocent like Birdy. “Radiance” from S/T is a great example of what Julia can provide; perfectly mellow notes to melt in the background when necessary, and other times bold and proud to make the music fade away.

“Companions” is a smart mix of new beats and sounds that rival fellow Swedish artist Avicii’s various hits. Navet’s full album S/T has a great mix of electronic pop that reminds me of Purity Ring by being experimental with various effects and stepping out of the average EDM that’s played at any given club. They are never afraid to be themselves and never try to be anything they are not, which is nice compared to the radio’s hip-hop/pop bog of repeated formulas and styles.

With strong vocals and smart, creative electro music, I hope to see them make it to the top charts of the US and the world, one strong female led electro anthem at a time.

NEARLY OROTORIO: SIMON LAM’S STRIPPED DOWN  TIN EP
April 15, 2016 11:43 am

Melbourne’s Simon Lam is known by many names. Earlier this month, Lam, who releases solo material through the Nearly Orotorio moniker, dropped his second EP, Tin, via Solitaire Recordings.

Whether contributing vocal tracks or lending his keen sound engineering chops, Simon Lam has done a lot in a short span of time–and it seems like any project he decides to take on tends to make its way to an increasingly wide audience. His career launched in 2010 with the formation of Kins, a group that initially manifested in Australia, but later transplanted to Brighton, England. Kins fused wistful guitar with downtempo electronic breaks. They followed up the release of their self-titled full-length by touring in support of last year’s indie rock blockbuster, Courtney Barnett, before officially calling it quits in February. Meanwhile Lam, who didn’t stay around for Kins to fully come to fruition, was busy parsing together tapestries of his soulful vocals and minimal electronics with I’lls. Next he was building warm synth backdrops to back fellow-Melbourn songstress Chloe Kaul for their project Kllo.  They released a debut EP Cusp in 2015 via Dot Dash / Remote Control.

Lam’s first Nearly Oratorio release Showers was released in 2011, perhaps opening the door to some of his other collaborations. His fluid transition from one project to the next is disorienting indeed, but it’s the sign of an ambitious recording artist dedicated to his art and finding just the right collaborative environment to find inspiration for his next work.

Tin is a collection of oddball ditties dedicated to the wandering thinkers and creatives that occasionally get stuck inside their heads. To soak in this album properly one simply needs to lay back in a comfortable position, adorn a pair of headphones and take it in. Tin captures the essence of Sam Lam’s tinkering, the thought-process of a tireless scientist going through the motions of artistic process. It’s packed with a modest range of percussion adding texture and rhythmic dimension to his tracks which are otherwise bare-bones: Sam’s soothing R&B falsetto accompanied by a trickle of acoustic guitar and under synths.  It’s a great introduction to Simon Lin’s signature blissfully minimal sound. 

JOHAN ANGERGÅRD: SWEDEN’S INDIE-POP MASTERMIND
February 5, 2016 9:46 am

You know that unique feeling of gratification you get when you discover a new sound?  It’s an impulsive need, an addiction.  I’m constantly searching for that next infectious dose. Thankfully the freakishly endless Internet universe never ceases to deliver new sonic pathways.

Sweden’s bustling independent music scene is as robust as it gets.

Johan Angergård is the founder of Stockholm-based Labrador Records.  He’s a DJ, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and producer.  His career spans back to the early 90’s and his prolificacy is profound, having been a key component of several noteworthy bands including Acid House Kings, Club 8, Pallers, and The Legends.

Labrador specializes in a particular brand of indie-pop classified as “twee”.  Quaint, naive, cute. There’s a distinct nostalgic nod to early 80’s indie-pop bands like The Smiths and the cheerful innocence 60’s rock. But that’s where any easily drawn comparisons end.

Labrador is first and foremost, an electronic music label with a sleek,  distinctly Scandinavian twist, an off-the-cuff repertoire of bright, audacious, and irony-tinged pop.  Labrador’s sonic pallet encompasses the so-called “balearic Sound”, popularized in Ibiza night clubs in the early 90”s. A notable manifestation of Labrador’s nuanced grooves can be heard on the The Radio Dept.’s highly acclaimed 2010 record Clinging to a Scheme.   These influences are the glue that make Angergård’s vision come to life.

If you’re in need of some new tunes, Labrador’s SoundCloud is a vault of music worth excavating.  It’s crammed to the brim with singles, EPs, remixes, and playlists that encapsulate Labrador’s touchingly off-kilter world.  It feels like an exhibit curated by Angergård himself, which I suppose, is part of what makes indie labels like Labrador great.

According to Labrador’s Facebook page the label is gearing up for an exciting year with “something like a handful of new artists” releasing music.  In the meantime, his own band Club 8 released their 9th full-length album Pleasure.  The leading single, “Late Nights“, is a sleek synth-pop that defines both where Angergård comes from and also where he intends to take us next.

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM’S INEVITABLY TRIUMPHANT RETURN
January 14, 2016 1:40 pm

By now the “farewell concert” has become something of a cliché.

Ever since Jay-Z hosted his retirement extravaganza back in 2003 (which didn’t last very long), the legitimacy of other acts celebrating their exit from show business has been somewhat questionable. Let’s be honest though, are we ever upset when one of favorite artists decides to come out of the wood work and start performing again? Absolutely not.

LCD Soundsystem, what hasn’t been said about them already?  For a band with a relatively short life span of only 10 years, they released three critically acclaimed albums, and for many of us, defined an indelible era of musical history.

Although it’s easy to forget sometimes, given how popular music has shifted toward an EDM-dominated landscape, that there was a time when electronic music wasn’t very ‘cool’ at all.

It was flaunted by cool kids, hipsters.  LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy first made a name for himself by co-founding DFA Records, a record label that quickly picked up steam as an underground advocate for house music’s accession into the mainstream.

By the time LCD Soundsystem formed in 2001 their hometown of Brooklyn had already been transformed into the central hub of hipsterdom (yeah I know, I made up a word, but so what?!).  Indie electronic music was about to explode into a global phenomenon.  Albums like Cut Copy’s In Ghost Colours, Jus†ice’s , and lest we forget, LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver, received not only rave reviews from the music press, but were starting to cut mainstream pop out of the picture all together. This empowering shift marked the beginning of the digital age, for the first time since recorded music’s inception, listeners were choosing their own music, and plugging their iPod’s (that’s right) into their car stereos rather than listening to overly-glossed Top 40 hits and mainly commercials.

By the end of the decade LCD Soundsystem was on top of the world.  Sold out concerts, packed festivals, and Murphy plastered onto the front page of every music publication possible.

Then, like all good things, LCD Soundsystem decided it was time to call it quits.  On February 5th, 2011, the band announced on their website that they thought it was better to quit while they were ahead and go out with a bang.

On April 2nd, 2011, at Madison Square Garden, the band performed their final show.

Hold on, hold on. Where have a heard this before? This is bogus! You know this isn’t going to last! Come on!

Sure enough…on January 5th this note was posted to their website.  That’s right, they’re back. Like really back.

Of course, it’s no surprise that somehow Coachella managed to cash in on their triumphant return. While we can safely assume plenty of festival-goers will flock to the outskirts of Palo Alto to sweat it out this April, where will LCD Soundsystem appear next?  For now, my friends, the answer to that question is shrouded in mystery.  The only hint is a promising yet cryptic message on their website: “2016 tour dates coming soon.”  I supposed we’ll have to wait it out (although, I think it’s safe to assume they’ll be playing somewhere in the vicinity of New York.)

By far the most important tidbit of information is that there’s a new album in the works.

LCD Soundsystem has a pretty awesome discography. It’s dancey, but sophisticated. It’s music that celebrates dusting off obscure records for audiophiles with an interest in obscure music. You know, like cool kids. Hipsters.

So in short, farewell concerts are probably a sham, so don’t drive halfway across the country to celebrate your favorite band’s early–er, I mean, botched retirement. LCD Soundsystem is back and 2016 is going to be an awesome year to ”Dance Yrself Clean yet again!

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.

DEAD TIMES: THE FUTURE
December 21, 2015 11:41 am

Los Angeles-via-Tempe, Arizona transplants Dead Times fit cozily in today’s beat-forward R&B meta.  Boldly  describing their sound “the future” on their Facebook page, the duo’s sonic palate consists of Calvin Marcus’s ethereal croon underpinned by Travis Bunn’s snappy percussion and atmospheric samples–check “Inner Gold” for one of their more exquisite brews.

Dead Times grooves are harmoniously constructed, intimate love songs with a kick. To boot, Calvin is an adept lyricist–take the poetic chorus from the up-beat “Feel” for example:

“come outside my hands are freezing cold / let’s just start running until we’re completely alone / forget our past forget our valuables / I’ve got this feeling you’re all I need for warmth”

Last year, Times performed aside fellow bedroom beat-artisan How To Dress Well exposing themselves to a wider audience. Although still unsigned, these two guys aren’t going away any time soon–they’re very prolific and have even hinted at the idea of a self-released debut album. They’ve already garnered a considerable listernership on Spotify, and as such, their songs are–I’m going to make a bold prediction here–pre-destined to be included in a clothing store playlist.  It just has that vibe.

IT ALL FEELS RIGHT WITH WASHED OUT
November 18, 2015 1:56 pm

If I were to take a wild guess, you, the reader, having ventured into our wondrous world of ATYPICALSOUNDS, might be into ‘indie’ music, which by that extension means, you might recognize this tune.

Washed Out Band Photo. Ernest Greene pictured.

The creative forces behind Portlandia didn’t randomly select that snippet as the backdrop for their sketch comedy roughly based around the ill-defined ‘hipster’ niche. Washed Out’s “Feel It All Around” was the anthem to a short-lived–yet indispensable–piece of nostalgia-injected ambient-electro dance pop that emerged circa 2009 that is referred to as “Chillwave”, often characterized by heavily distorted lyrics, synthesizers, and sampling.  Think Toro Y Moi Causers of This Neon Indian’s Psychic Chasms or Aerial Pink’s Before Today.

Washed Out is Athens, Georgia native Ernest Greene. He was discovered on, of all places, his MySpace account—which was still the social media mode of choice for most aspiring bedroom musicians at the time. Greene released his first two EPs High Times and Life of Leisure both within a short span in September 2009.  The former of the two was released via exclusively on cassette tape.  The latter saw a much wider release on Mexican Summer, a Brooklyn-based record company that specializes in elaborate vinyl packaging. Life of Leisure served as a major catalyst for Mexican Summer, which, along with Best Coast’s 2010 debut Crazy For You, was a hot commodity indie label at the time–and was certainly a major player in the vinyl craze that started around that time.  Greene next moved to Sub Pop where he released his debut full-length Within and Without in 2011 and followed up with Paracosms in 2013.

Thematically, Washed Out’s music tends to revolve around one central theme.  Look no further than his debut record cover.  That’s right: Love. Washed Out is a desperate romantic chasing after his muse. The titles of Greene’s tunes don’t really beat around the bush either; for example, “The Sound of Creation,” or “It All Feels Right.” His music is sensuous, immersive, and evocative, and at the same time, quite beautiful and dense.  Make-out music on a mild dose of psychedelia.

Låpsley CONQUERS ROUGH TRADE NYC
November 11, 2015 2:18 pm

For most artists, Monday night performances are something of a death sentence. Aside from the ubiquitous handful of college students with nowhere to be on a Tuesday morning, the rest of us aren’t usually willing to risk the 4 days of sleep deprivation that inevitably follow pulling an all-nighter so early in the week. That’s why it was particularly impressive that Låpsley not only attempted a Monday night show, but sold out the venue.

IMG_0227

Låpsley (born Holly Lapsley Fletcher) is a singer and electronic musician from England whose powerful voice has earned her a devoted fanbase before ever releasing an LP. With her debut album scheduled to come out early next year, Låpsley spent the night at Rough Trade performing 10 songs from her previous EPs.

Listening to any of her recordings makes it obvious what a talented singer Låpsley is, but hearing her sing live is a whole other beast; the audience was spellbound, myself included. During her performance of “Station”, Låpsley alternates between microphones, singing both the soprano and bass parts of the song. In “Painter (Valentine)”, her voice floats above the crowd, her flowing white dress glowing ethereally under blacklight.

After thanking the crowd for coming, Låpsley closes the show with “Hurt Me”, an ode to a jerk and her most recent single. And that’s it. 10 songs. No more, no less. Every one of them worth the sleep deprivation.