electronica

SUICIDE SQUAD ALBUM REVIEW: RUN, DO NOT WALK TO THE WILD SIDE
August 17, 2016 6:37 pm

 

Whether you loved the colorful action or hated the bland villains and plot, Suicide Squad is out and strong opinions are flying everywhere. Rotten Tomatoes is famous for in depth/no shame ratings of movies, their Critic Score stands at an abysmal 26% rating while the fans score is at 69%. This split on the movie either being horrible or mostly good is everywhere. But with all this controversy over the film, nobody can deny that the soundtrack is amazing. This magic mixtape of artists and styles is impressive, creative and in reality is far better than the movie.

I would describe the attitude of the album as heroically rough around the edges. Just like the villains gone hero in the movie, the songs have a dark intensity while being oddly uplifting and easy to relate to. The album is basically split into two song types: reflective and slow or fast and powerful.

Starting with Skrillex’s and Rick Ross’s Purple Lamborghini could not have been a better choice. This song seemed underwhelming at first for me, but the more I listened the more I saw their subtle teamwork to make a brutal dubstep/hip-hop/rap song. “Wreak Havoc” by Skylar Grey is the perfect punch to the face pop song and Grimes brings her electronic magic right after it. The second to last track is Panic! At The Disco’s cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which is obviously not better than the original, but comes close in reality. From the similarity in the voice to the modernized rock section with added emphasis in the orchestra parts, Panic! At The Disco does it incredibly.

As for the mellow side of the album, “Sucker For Pain” slows it down with a more personal song that speaks the the darker sides of people, but in a good way. With Imagine Dragons, Logic, Lil Wayne, X Ambassadors, Ty Dolla $ign and Wiz Khalifa all packed into this song, I was genuinely surprised how good it turned out. Twenty One Pilots continues the slower and deeper reflection tones from movie with the odd and beautiful “Heathens”. “Gangsta” and “Know Better” by Kehlani and Kevin Gates respectively are the weakest songs on the album, but they’re not bad, just not up to par with the others. The last track is “I Started a Joke” by ConfidentialMX featuring Becky Hanson, and this song is not that complex when it comes to instruments or vocals, but that’s the best part of it. It starts slightly innocent sounding and then gets darker and more grim as it goes, a true black rose: dauntingly beautiful.

This album is awesome, but there are flaws for sure. Some songs are sound like filler or too geared toward pop culture appeal, but overall it’s worth your time. Being a compilation album with so many artists, I’m impressed that it turned out to be so good. To summarize all this, I would honestly recommend skipping the movie and watching it when it comes out on Netflix or RedBox and then using that ticket money to go buy this album, totally worth it.

 

BRIANA MARELA: SWEET ELECTRO LULLABIES
August 15, 2016 9:43 am

 

Briana Marela makes moody, ethereal music. Layered vocals pierce through rhythmic ambiance, washy and compressed, like an ice queen in a steel canyon. Marela self-released two albums before getting signed by Jagjaguwar records, who sent her to Reykjavik, Iceland to work with Sigur Rós producer Alex Somers. The result is All Around Us, a collection of emotionally charged, heavily processed, ambient electro-crooning that put me right to sleep upon my first listen.

And of course I mean that in the best possible way. I was quite content to doze off to her dulcet love songs, whisked away by the aforementioned ice queen to slumber in peace atop her steely canyon of sound. I picture myself melting in a vat of butter, only the butter is covered in ice crystals and I’m made entirely of liquid nitrogen, which is poisonous when consumed so don’t even think about it. Excellent music to nap to, or to study to or to do anything mindless that can be accompanied by ambient music. Not great for long car rides or roller coasters or to be playing from an ice cream truck. But hey, that’s just me.

Briana Marela continues to live in Seattle and perform throughout the Pacific Northwest.

BAAUER DOES MORE THAN SHAKE
July 29, 2016 6:38 pm

Have you ever seen the movie That Thing You Do!? A great movie about a 1960’s boy band who grew to national stardom with a “one hit wonder.” This happens pretty often in our world, a song is born and it will become insanely popular and then the artist will leave the spotlight as fast as he or she got there. But out of the many “one hit wonders,” few inspired countless online videos and dances quite like the Harlem Shake has.

Now if you don’t know what “The Harlem Shake” is, please watch this. Baauer made this song in 2012 and it became a phenomenon, you could watch different Harlem Shake videos for hours on end and still have more to watch. But at the time, I frankly didn’t even know who made the song, I just knew it existed and people made videos from it.

The artist Harry Bauer Rodrigues, better known as Baauer, is behind the infamous song and has come out with a new album called Aa filled with club blasting EDM tracks with a lot more complexion and depth than the Harlem Shake.

He has put a lot of work into this album, with the first half of the album being instrumental and the second half primarily featuring other artists including M.I.A., Novelist and Future, it is a much more well balanced album compared to long list of sporadic singles from the past few years. I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity in the tracks.

Songs like Sow and GoGo! are his classic club anthems, but it’s a good thing to have these. He knows how to write fun songs that have good synths and pull the audience in, but sometimes they do lack deeper talent and composition that you hear in Deadmau5 and The Chemical Brothers.

On the other hand, his songs that involve other artist’s production and singing are strong and show real evolution in his abilities as a DJ and writer. Day Ones and Temple are powerful songs that make the album worth picking up at the store. Future is actually one of my least favorite artist on the album, but here with Pusha and Baauer, I can even enjoy him.

At the end of the day, the album shows some minor echos of the Harlem Shake, but don’t let that dismiss listening to Aa, you could find some good stuff that you’ll want to listen to for the next few years.

HANNAH GEORGAS: NOT JUST FOR EVELYN
July 26, 2016 6:02 pm

For those who haven’t heard, Hannah Georgas is a singer-songwriter based in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Her newest album For Evelyn was released on June 24th of this year. Eleven tracks in length, For Evelyn deals with feelings of maturity, inadequacy, and the role of generations play in our psyche. Named after her grandmother, the album is an enjoyable listen that blends melancholy with smooth dance production.

Georgas first came up on the indie pop scene in 2009, when her first EP The Beat Stuff was picked up by Hidden Pony Records. After a few tweaks, the record was put out and was quickly licensed for commercial use by companies like Starbucks and Wal-Mart. That’s about as good as it gets for a fledgling artist, landing corporate behemoths that play their music on a loop throughout the week. Before long, Georgas was being featured on television shows and Canadian radio leading up to her full-length debut in 2010. This Is Good was responsible for Georgas nabbing nominations in Best New Artist of the Year as well as Songwriter of the Year at the 2011 Juno Awards. Riding the momentum, Georgas toured internationally up until 2014, dropping a second self-titled album and building credence as she went.

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Flash-forward to 2016, For Evelyn is a wandering, all-over-the-place record that flits from high to low throughout the project. Standout tracks that peaked my interest include “Waste,” “Evelyn,” and “Crazy Shit.” “Waste” rides along a groovy synthesizer beat, infectious to the ear and inducing self-inflicted head bobbing. Georgas croons along in her signature sing-song voice, nonchalant and cool as a ‘cuke.

Leading up to “Waste” is “Evelyn,” a song which fits my oh-so favorite vibe of beats that sound like they belong in the TRON universe. The hook, verses, chorus, synthesizers; all work together in just the right way that tickles my fancy. As someone who definitely appreciates good synthesizer production, For Evelyn is chock-full of alterations and atmospherically attractive rhythms that suit Georgas to a tee.

Last but not least of my favorite three tracks is Crazy Shit. In the bottom half of the album, Crazy Shit is an all-around fun dance tune that works well whether you’re dancing in your room or out driving in the fresh night air. Much of For Evelyn imbues a nocturnal feel; from the production to the subject matter, this is an album that is better suited to periods of self-introspection and reexamination.

Georgas has released an overall catchy and fun album that continues her series of musical success’s and successions. Be sure to pick up a copy on iTunes, or listen for free on Spotify. With so much to say, put simply, Georgas is worth listening to.

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. 

AGE 18, LUPA J PULLS US IN
April 11, 2016 11:16 am

Sometimes it’s difficult to enjoy a prodigy, not because their inherent level of talent isn’t drop-dead impressive, but because we’re confronted with the stinging reality that we’ve inadvertently missed the opportunity to attain a similar level of mastery.

Enter Imogen Jones, aka Lupa J, an Australian electro-pop songstress with a naturally well-built set of bells, and impeccable songwriting chops to boot.  She also happens to be a mere 18 years old.

Lupa J parses together her ethereal intone with an eclectic pallet of atmospheric samples, sharp beats, and shimmering violin, for which she’s also classically trained. Lupa J’s immersive concoctions pull you deep into her shadowy abyss: a love affair that’s equal parts Grimes, Kid A-era Radiohead, and the stylized theatrics of Kate Bush and BJork. Her music twists your nerves down your spine like the negative space in a horror film–These aren’t the dabblings of a typical high school music student, Lupa J is a true example of an Atypical Beast, through and through.  And her moniker is fitting indeed, as Lupa translate from Italian to “She-Wolf.”

Lupa J also already has a moderate collection of tracks that are available via her SoundCloud, including her newest single “Numb” which will be including on her forthcoming debut EP My Right Name, which will see release later this year. While she hasn’t ventured abroad yet, you can only assume it’s inevitable a music label scoops up an artist as ambitious and marketable as Lupa J in short order, hopefully granting us a chance to catch her state side in the near future.

TALK IS CHEAP: CHET FAKER’S DOWNTEMPO SEDUCTION
March 2, 2016 10:40 pm

Some artists are easier to “get into” than others.

Nicholas James Murphy, aka, Chet Faker, is an electronica artist that has you covered in the “chill” department. He effortlessly fuses sleek downtempo grooves with his seductive R&B-leaning croon.  Whether you’re lounging around after a long day, or on an extended evening spin, Chet Faker provides a perfect dose of ambiance and substance to keep your ears entranced.

Chet Baker hails from Victoria, Australia, and since breaking onto the scene in 2011, he’s had no trouble finding an audience for his tunes both at home and abroad. His 2014 full-length debut Built on Glass, made waves internationally, and debuted at the number 1 position on Australia’s ARIA charts.  I’m sure by now you’ve heard Talk is Cheap.

Most recently Chet Faker released Work EP, a collaboration with London-based DJ Marcus Marr. He also put up an immaculate performance for Boiler Room’s #Campaign4Change last October,  I encourage you to give it a spin.

While he might be keeping things on the down-low this year, Chet Faker will certainly be making a splash this festival season – catch him stateside at Ultra, Sasquatch, or Governor’s Ball.

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.

STILL CORNERS LIVES
February 1, 2016 12:10 am

When a band goes more than two years without releasing anything, their fans begin to worry. Or worse, forget. That’s why it was something of a Christmas miracle when Still Corners released the single “Horses at Night” at the end of 2015. It was their first release since their 2013 LP Strange Pleasures and well worth the wait. I’m pleased to announce that Still Corners is very much alive.

To commemorate the occasion, ATYPICAL SOUNDS had a nice chat with writer/producer Greg Hughes and vocalist Tessa Murray.

You released a new single, “Horses at Night”, at the beginning of December. Is this in anticipation of a new album?

TM: We wanted to put something out before 2015 ended, we had just finished that song and thought yeah, let’s put this out. It’s not on our next record and was just a one-off really.

Will there be a tour in 2016? Any U.S. dates? How about SXSW?

TM: Yes we’re planning some SXSW shows and a new tour as we speak.

You toured with Chvrches in 2013. Are there any experiences on that tour that stood out to you?

GH: There were tons of people at the shows, lots of great cities. I remember driving through New Mexico, just seeing this massive expansive flat desert with mini-tornadoes everywhere, appearing then disappearing as we drove. We spent a lot of time in our van. Nothing like waking up on your friend’s armpit, just in time for sound-check. I just remember having my imagination rejuvenated more than anything else.

Tessa, you sang in choirs before moving to singing with Still Corners. What was it like to make that jump? Was there anything that surprised you about singing with a band?

TM: To suddenly be standing in front of a huge drum kit and guitar amps and synthesizers took some getting used to. I didn’t really have any idea what it would be like, but we hit our groove. The feeling you get after a performance is similar though, it’s a big high when you come off stage and know that the audience was into it.

What are your favorite venues in London? Are there any parties or club nights you’d recommend?

GH: Bush Hall is great. For larger shows the Barbican and Shepherd’s Bush. Any night at Cafe Oto.

Greg, what advice can you give for someone in the U.S. who is looking to move to London? What was it like for you when you first moved there? Scary? Fun?

GH: When I first arrived my mind was blown; I needed a new mind after that. My advice is to do it all. Ask around for a cheap room, rent is high. Bask in the glory that is the National Health Service and never worry again about convoluted over-priced healthcare. Drink pints often. Get rid of your car, you won’t need it.

Are there any foods from your native Texas that you wish they had in London? What have been your favorite foods in the U.K.?

GH: Proper Mexican food, but there isn’t proper Indian food in Austin. You can’t win.

Be on the Lookout for Still Corners in 2016.