Fleet Foxes

FAREWELL TO THE APACHE RELAY
February 8, 2016 10:55 am

You already missed your chance. The Apache Relay was here bringing the masses heart and soul with their indie-Americana sound. But no longer. On September 21st, 2015 the band posted this on their social media pages, explaining that they are going their separate ways. Let me tell you why that is too bad.

The group formed in a dorm at Belmont University in Nashville, and grew to represent much of what the “Nashville Sound” has become: Indie rock with touches of folk, bluegrass, rhythm & blues, and pop. Pleasant harmony sits in a bed of modern production, and highlights Nashville’s emphasis on song writing, as opposed to song making. While this sound is growing into a formula for some, The Apache Relay was on the front end of it. Though they never quite achieved the status of other artists in their ballpark, like Local Natives or Fleet Foxes, they showed strong promise that they might.

The Apache Relay gained notoriety after their second album American Nomad when they opened a number of dates for pop-bluegrass all-stars Mumford & Sons.  They also got some attention when their song “Power Hungry Animals” was featured in the movie The Way, Way Back. While not exactly a blockbuster, the film supported a pretty stellar cast, and shed an interesting light on The Apache Relay’s song. Look at it in the context of the promotional “music video” they made.

It’s essentially a trailer for the movie. The song plays while clips of video from the film plays over it. Yet it could totally work on its own. It doesn’t have the look of a music video, but with small changes in editing and color, it could. Take away the distraction of Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, and a few other actors you’d recognize, and you’d be left with a music video that nails the feel of the song. We see images of a coming of age story. A teenage boy struggles through smattering of classic themes: loneliness, romance, body issues, family, youth, father issues, a summer away, friendship, etc…

The beauty of this is that these are exactly the kinds of themes that The Apache Relay should be reminding you of. The modern “Nashville Sound” is built on them. Bands like Mumford & Sons and Local Natives rely on this nostalgia to complete their music. Their songs are striving for an emotional power in addition to just sounding good. Pop and Dance music is escapist; It makes you forget about your problems and just feel good. Adele makes you cry. Indie-Americana has an element of memory tied to it. It’s a return to roots, a call home. The blend of folk and bluegrass style with modern instrumentation and production is the old become new. The past become present. It’s a return to youth, to summer. To that time that you did that thing that changed the way you think.

This is why “Power Hungry Animals” is featured in the trailer for “The Way, Way Back.” Prominently. It comes in at the end. At the time when the trailer is showing you conflict and tension and growth and love. When the trailer needs to say “This movie has warmth and depth and feeling,” it uses this song, and it is the song that takes your interest in the kid and turns it into care.

Yet The Apache Relay is gone. But do not dismay! Front-man Michael Ford, Jr. has made an appearance or two, and their parting message specifically says the members are looking to “explore new endeavors.” There doesn’t seem to be any news on this front yet, but in the meantime, there are three albums of Apache Relay to work through. If that well runs dry, check out some other Nashville indie-Americana acts, like Humming House,  Sugar & the Hi Lows, or Knoxville’s Cereus Bright. Hopefully that will hold y’all out until a reunion comes around.

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

NEW GOD BLESSES US WITH SWEET HARMONY
November 26, 2015 2:13 am

“Two Brothers: Playing Music, but Not Normal Music that You’ve Heard Before, And Also a Newer Album that Does Sound Like Some Stuff You’ve Heard, as Well as Some Cool Videos”

That’s what the title would have been if it weren’t way too long. What can I say, Baltimore natives New God inspire a little outside-the-box thinking.

Curt and Kenny Tompkins made an impression with their 2012 debut album Motorcar.  The lo-fi record brought a nice blend of indie, electronic, and folk with a solid driving energy. Its blissful harmonies drew comparisons to The Beach Boys. Wilco at times, Dan Deacon at others, Motorcar was a refreshing blend of catchiness and creativity.

The brothers followed their pleasant opener with another strong showing, 2014’s Firework. The album demonstrates a couple changes, but not all of them are objectively for the better. The album does sound a little better—it has a higher production value. However the lo-fi sound of the first record is so good that it leads to a small step up. Firework sounds better, but not that much better.

More importantly, the great energy of Motorcar is not present. In upping their production quality, New God made Firework sound a little more mainstream. The interesting and unique blend of sounds present on their first record is toned down. While the melodies and harmonies are still super strong, the songs are less dynamic. Where Motorcar feels live and real, Firework can feel a bit canned.

Firework is also notably more downbeat, but this isn’t why the energy is lacking. One of the best tracks on Motorcar is “Liar Liar,” a slow burn of acoustic guitar and vocal harmony, evocative of Fleet Foxes or Peter, Paul and Mary. The song feels very present and very personal. Firework has a sort of gloss-over that imposes a distance between the band and the listeners.

Firework does have some high points. Much of the album was written and recorded in an abandoned racquetball court, lending a spacy reverb to some of the tracks, most notably the closer, “Dumb.” This effect gets blended with clean electronics to create nice soundscapes. There is also the catchy-as-fuck single “Summer Girl.” Really the only driving song on the album, a simple back beat compels the airy vocals forward. Fuzzy guitars provide snappy riffs to grab on to. This is where New God is at their best: soaring harmony driven by danceable rock beats.

“Summer Girl” also highlights the band’s knack for good, low-budget music videos. Green Screen images of 50’s/60’s summer fun slide across the background and the brothers’ sunglasses. The classic imagery highlights the band’s early Rock ‘n Roll influences, while the obvious use of technology illustrates their use of electronic sound. “I Know Something About You” shows another creative use of green screen. A couple with cardboard TV heads (very reminiscent of the robot royalty from Saga) “performs” the song while images flash across their faces. While it’s a great visual concept, that is about all the video has to offer. As with the album Firework, it needs a little more variance and/or substance to make it a true journey.

New God has shown us that their creative ceiling is very high. The two brothers are working on their third album, and hopefully this creative streak will overcome the tendency to move toward the mainstream. If they can find a way to capture the great energy of the first album, while upping the general production quality, we could all be in for a serious treat.

Big Sound, Little Tybee
July 20, 2015 4:32 pm

Little Tybee is a big band with an even bigger sound. And when the 6-member group performed at Rough Trade last Thursday, ATYPICALSOUNDS was there to receive it. Before the show, we sat down with singer and guitarist Brock Scott to find out how touring was treating him, twelve shows in. 


 
You started your tour by playing 11 nights in a row. How are you still standing?

BS: Well I’m seated right now! We’ve done a bunch of U.S. tours in the past, and it’s always like 10-hour drives in between stops and it just kills us. But this tour, we intentionally booked 3-hour drives per day, so we didn’t stress ourselves out. This tour is really less about marketing, and more about us finishing up an album. Before we finalize everything we want to get the songs mature. When you tour with a song is when the little nuances of the songs come out.

Right, you want to make sure you can perform the songs live.

BS: Josh, our guitarist, plays an 8-string guitar and a lot of the time he’s recording part by part. His technical prowess on the songs is so advanced, he pushes himself to where he’ll write something and record it, but he can’t actually play it live yet. Then it’s like a challenge to progress his talents, to meet up to the recording standards.

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So, this tour is to practice the new songs? Did you get to tour with the last album?

BS: We did, but not as extensively as we would’ve liked. We all have jobs back home, so like July and August is kind of our touring month. A lot of the guys teach in the band, and summers are when a lot of their students are doing summer camp. This is just the time that we go on the road, but most of the time we’re kind of just focusing on online content and doing videos, and recording. I’ve been playing with some of these guys for like 15 years, so we’re not one of those bands who’s just putting everything into it and living out of our van, and then we burn ourselves out because we don’t get to the level we think we’re supposed to be or whatever.

It takes time.

BS: Yeah, exactly. I’m a firm believer in slow-build. Cause that’s when you get true, devout fans, and people that follow a kind of legacy, or a discography, as opposed to a Pitchfork, overnight band, where it’s like, “They’re awesome! Everyone’s got to see them!” But then after 3 months it’s like, “Who?”

We’ve messed up enough times in our career to know what not to do. It’s almost like things have leveled out on all sides, where we’re not wearing ourselves too thin. We’ve made it work. But to answer your question, we toured a good bit around the U.S., but really we’re trying to focus on online content and then potentially doing festivals. It’s kind of where our future lies.

As a folk band, what kind of festivals would you like to do?

BS: I think we fall into a lot of genres. Believe it or not, we appeal to the metal scene because of Josh playing the 8-string. He’s playing a lot of technically advanced things. The way we write songs, if you add distortion, a lot of our songs would be metal songs. It’s really kind of arpeggiated and classical sounding, but cleaner. We don’t really want to pigeonhole ourselves into one genre, we kind of want to be accessible to you and your grandmother, and everyone.

Similar to how ska is basically sped-up polka music, do you try changing up a single element in your music that turns it into a completely different genre? 

BS: I think we have a little bit of that in there. I think what we try to do though, is not be limited. In one song, we might have four different genres. On the new album we have this one song that goes from sounding like a funeral procession, a New Orleans-style ending part with a horn section, to rah-rah marching band kind of stuff. But then right before that, it’ll be really prog-y and almost sound like [the Yes album] Fragile. So we just kind of go wherever our interests lie. We’re just having fun.

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Do you get to do anything cool on your tour stops besides play? Do you get to look around, or do things? Or are you just trying to catch up on sleep?

BS: I guess the biggest endurance challenge is on your liver. Because you get to the venue, you get to the soundcheck, and you’re hanging out. They’re like “Oh, by the way, here’s a bunch of free drink tickets!” You need a lot of restraint, and there’s a lot of fatigue. It’s not tiredness, because we’ll get a full night’s sleep. But fatigue is a different kind of monster.

We just came from Richmond, and we hung out with some locals there. A lot of times we hang out with the bands, we have a lot of friends in all the cities we’ve played in over the years. We’ll make a plan to stop at the Crystal Cave on a drive if we see it, or Wizard World or something; as long as we have time for it and it seems interesting enough.

I noticed you’re going up to Canada on this tour.

BS: This is more or less an east coast kind of thing. We started in Georgia, and then went down through Florida, then have been working our way up the coast. But from New York, we’re moving to Boston, and then Maine, and then Vermont and Canada, and then down through Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, and then making our way back down to Nashville and then home.

It’s about 36 stops in 38 days. It’s a lot, but it’s the only way. We’re not a band that gets gigantic guarantees, so the only way to make it financially viable for us is to play every night. And it’s what we want to do, because it allows us to get really tight, like that tour-tightness that you don’t really get normally. We’ll practice just before a show, but you don’t have the nuance of the songs down, so I think we’re just now settling in to how the songs are supposed to be.

Have you done anything since coming to New York? Have you tried the pizza?

BS: We haven’t really done anything other than sit in traffic for a while. But we’ve been to New York a whole bunch of times in the past, so we have friends in the area, in Williamsburg and Manhattan.

Nirvana, our violinist, is Dominican and her family lives in Teaneck, right over the bridge. And they’re awesome. They cook the best authentic Dominican food you’ll ever have. So we’re going to go there straight after this.

Tybee

Tell me about the new album.

BS: The new direction is awesome, it’s really 1970’s-inspired. Real direct-sounding. For a while, everyone was on a Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear kick, so reverb was cranked high on those albums. We’re going back to Harry Nilsson, Bill Withers, really 1970’s close drums, tight vocals, everything’s right in your ears instead of in a field. It’s real bombastic and I’m really excited. I think this is our first album where we actually figured out our sound and our writing process. We look forward to having it out, probably at the beginning of next year.

You mentioned you all work outside of the band. How do you find time to be a band?

BS: I work building sets for the movie industry, I’m a welder. I build props for The Walking Dead and The Hunger Games, and a bunch of other things. Some of the guys work at a brewery, a lot of the guys teach. They’re all jobs in which we can have a flexible schedule where they don’t mind if we take off for like two months or something. Traveling the country, playing music, doing the things you love, there’s nothing better than that.

Watch: Little Tybee, “Tuck My Tail”