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THE KILLS: DOING IT TO DEATH
April 27, 2016 11:00 am

The Kills still make music, apparently.

Ashe & Ice, their 5th full-length album, will drop via Domino Records on June 3rd. Fifth album? It’s interesting how bands and their music are often boiled down to just their bare essentials. Everything else evaporates like water vapor. I wasn’t even aware of 2011’s Blood Pressures existence. Thankfully, I don’t feel left out at all, but don’t take my bluntness as an insult. For me, two Kills records should be stamped and enshrined for propelling “indie” into mainstream consciousness: 2005’s No Wow, and 2008’s Midnight Boom. The Kills and contemporaries helped push the aesthetic of ‘indie rock’; a term that now describes a type of band and how they dress and showcase their art, than the kind of label charged with distributing their music. The Kills defined an indispensable era of music when hipness, was sacred.  And shallow.  Expression didn’t require action-driven results; just a fake leather jacket and can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.  We blasted The Kills in our dingy dilapidated habitation and wanted nothing more than to attain the decrepit authenticity of Alison “V.V.” Mosshart and Jamie “Hotel” Hince. Tracks like “Cheap & Cheerful“, “No Wow“, “Tape Song“, “U R A Fever“, “Sour Cherry“, were on high-rotation at those painfully awkward indie dance parties.

The Kills are a male/female two-piece that showcased their gritty appropriation of garage rock with nervous energy and an agitating display of sexual tension. They were fashionistas. They were purveyors of antiquated technology (their earliest collaborations involved mailing and exchanging ‘tapes’ with each other). Sound Pretentious? You wouldn’t be alone in your conviction. The Kills are a polarizing outfit. While always attracting a loyal following of devotees, other’s detested them as a White Stripes rip-off. And while the White Stripes did share the male/female guitar rock dichotomy, the Kills quickly defined their own sonic pallet: scratchy guitar, barren drum machine, and dry minimalism in the tradition of The Velvets and Suicide. The Kills might have borrowed from their idols, but they made it all their own.

In a recent interview Alison Mosshart claimed their next album will be “completely different“,  but I’m not convinced. Building up to Ashe & Ice, The Kills have released a pair of new singles with accompanying music videos: “Heart of a Dog“, and “Doing it to Death.” Neither of these tunes are bad. But I can’t help but think the latter of these two tracks defines what the Kills are doing with their music at this point. Indie rock, is like, so last decade, man. Look, no one’s frowning on you if you’re salivating over this upcoming record. Nor do they have any right too. Music judginess sucks, but it’s hard to shake off, we get it. I’m not a revered audiophile, I’ve never stepped inside a professional recording studio. Yet here’s the final score: my untuned ears are either having a horribly difficult time picking out the minutia that make up their “completely different” sound, or it’s just not there. And if it’s not, that’s perfectly fine. But don’t claim to be reinventing yourself when you’re really just trying to give us the same thing in fresh packaging.What once sounded fresh, and epitomized “cool”, now sounds dated. The Kills have stretched their garage rock sound far enough: They’re doing it to death.

If you’re one of the aforementioned Kills devotees, you’d best catch them live before they go back into hibernation (or go to Europe for the duration of their tour schedule).

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!

SCHOOL IS IN SESSION WITH YOUSICIAN
February 29, 2016 10:50 am

As a person who is not skilled or talented in any way other than writing, (which.. let’s face it.. is not really a talent or skill) I was incredibly pleased when I found out about this app.

Yousician is a new app that acts as your musical instructor. It hears you play a certain song and it will track how close or off you were in relation to said song and even gives you obstacles and different “missions” that will enhance your motivation to learn.

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Since I don’t play any instrument really well, I asked my friend If I could borrow his guitar in order to practice using this app. It was great, Yousician helps even the least knowledgeable like me, it asks for the level of experience that you have and then according to that it teaches either the basics, like tuning a guitar or learning frets or something more advanced.

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Yousician at the moment can help you learn three different instruments. The guitar, ukulele and the piano. The app works great with a few hiccups here and there but nothing that completely derails from the learning experience or from the fun of using the app.

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If I hadn’t sold my guitar for 20 bucks, I would definitely have downloaded this app. How was I supposed to know 3 years ago that this would come into fruition? Well, if you are having a hard time picking up your instrument, know that there is an easy way to learn it all.

WILD NOTHING: LIFE OF PAUSE
February 24, 2016 3:55 pm

Jack Tatum aka Wild Nothing has returned with Life of Pause, his third full-length installment on Captured Tracks. Once again Tatum builds majestically shimmering dreamscapes that incorporate a varied palette of influences. This is a record dripping with nostalgia, which seems to not only stem from the particular sounds Tatum jives towards, but also the themes from which Life of Praise revolves. Not uncommon among aspiring artists coming of age, Tatum’s sound explorations mimic his own personal experiences as he grapples of themes not unfamiliar to the Dream Pop cannon: identity, coming of age, love.

lifeLife of Pause opening track “Reichpop” grabs you right through the time-space-continuum portal into a Remain In Light-era Talking Heads groove accompanied by nonsensical lyrics “I am the silencer / I am the only one”.  “Japanese Alice” opens with Shoegazey guitar swerves recalling My Bloody Valentine, but then quickly settles into a funk cut more akin to Toro Y Moi. “Lady Blue” sounds like it was penned by Buckingham-Nicks for Fleetwood Mac’s forgotten late-70s synthesizer record.  It’s on “Lady Blue” that Tatum begins one of many spacey inward discussions about love, “will I find a way / to make sense of the way that you love me?” On “Every Women’s Wisdom”, Tatum points out to a perspective lover, “I don’t believe in heaven / but baby, you can be my church.”  Who wouldn’t be flattered by that line? The title track has an odd resemblance both sonically and stylistically to Foxygen’s “How Can You Really”, which makes sense since both artists cup their hands into a similar stream of hazy 70s leisure rock vibes.   On “Whenever I” Tatum comes full circle, realizing, “And I thought you were onto me / And I thought you’d be good for me / But I know what you are now.”

Overall Life of Pause is nothing short of an entrancing, fluid, well-constructed collection of tunes. If you’re into either neo-psych wave of bands currently in vogue such as Tame Impala or the aforementioned Foyxygen, or dream pop standbys like Beach House or Kurt Vile, this record is a shoe in.  The only real critique is that 11 tracks and close to an entire hour’s worth of transcendental psych can really start to drag on.  But perhaps that’s not such a negative, as it allows you to come back another day and still have a few fresh tracks to bring you back in.

Wild Nothing will be touring extensively in support of Life of Pause, check out dates here.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

U NEED GIFTZ? I GIVE U GIFTZ
December 17, 2015 4:20 am

So you haven’t finished your “holiday” shopping yet, so what? You don’t need to do everything all at once. You’re a busy person, and that’s okay. We understand, and we’ve got you covered. Some of these gift ideas are way legit, and some of these are eye-rollers, but all of them are good ideas, and when it comes down to it you’re gonna have to respect a good idea. That’s called being a grown-up.

First up we have this badass hoodie.

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It’s a good wear for sure, sturdy and stylish, but it’s true badassery comes from its “acoustically transparent” speaker cloth paneled hood. That’s right–gone are those silent, chilly days, caught between the need for over-ear headphones and the urge for a comfortable neck, scalp and upper forehead. Perfect for audio engineers, professional joggers, or anyone else who wears headphones all day or maybe just some of the time. Maybe you just like music and hoodies and you need something to wear. I don’t know, I’m just saying. Let’s move on.

Aerodrums

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This is for all the drummers out there, or at least every lonely jabroni thinking s/he can hit the sticks into something emotionally bearable. Just keep trying, as they say–it’ll sound good eventually. Of course I’m talking about the quiet and portable alternative to a real drum set, also known as “aerodrums” (or “magic drumless drumsticks” for us laypeople). These little miracles are made of plastic, electronics, and some sort of wood-like substitute that, when banged together just so, produce a realistic and totally radical drumset out of literally nothing at all. Far out! This is exactly how I picture myself in my dreams: playing drums for God in heaven–sans drums, of course–like Tommy Fucking Lee (minus the lameness, disease and actual drums. He’s diseased, right? Maybe another drummer then, I don’t know. Naming famous drummers isn’t really my thing. Travis Barker? Carter Beauford? Ringo?! Insert drummer here.) NOW IF ONLY YOU COULD AFFORD IT!

Here’s something you can afford: fruit. That’s right, put an apple in your mother’s stocking. She’ll fucking love it. “Oh how thoughtful, what a stellar child I’ve begat. Way better than your sister…” Oh how right she is. Nailed it, thanks mom.

Hey here’s another real “budget” idea (in case you’re shopping for any of your “budget” friends). It’s called not giving a fuck. Step 1: buy blank t-shirts. Step 2: buy markers. (These links are just for reference–buy these literally anywhere.) Step 3: go ham on these t-shirts. Don’t even think too hard about it. Say to yourself “this shirt is for cousin Brett” and then draw a crude, amateur portrait of Brett. Depict him realistically, with his stupid face and clothes, beside his stupid car and girlfriend. He’ll laugh, don’t worry. It’s no big deal, Brett can take a little holiday joke. Classic Brett.

You know what, I have a better idea. Draw the whole family together, but like in an infomercial or something. Real random and/or obscure, like the whole family got together to sell ladders or soap or whatever. Think of it like crazy internet photoshop, except with markers and t-shirts. Make 15 copies. Distribute periodically throughout the year.

Alright that’s enough “budget” gifts. Some people really take offense to that sort of thing. I don’t know, people are weird. But oh boy is this next gift idea totally legit. Don’t even worry. I’ll be honest–all this other shit I didn’t actually buy or use or even google that thoroughly. But the pick punch? Yeah, this I actually have. You bet your booty!

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My brother gave it to me a while ago, and oh boy was it worth it. “Turn your old gift cards into guitar picks!” he tells me between hearty spoonfuls of pumpkin pie. It’s true, this device can turn your ordinary plastic shit into guitar-pick-shaped plastic shit. “Stop giving me gift cards!” I say, pie already thoroughly swallowed and partially digested. “But you love Starbucks!” he continues, making a fool out of himself. What an idiot. “Go fuck yourself!” I respond, reflecting the values so deeply entrenched into our society. Aren’t the holidays’ magical? Thank Jebus for the pick punch.

Straight up though, let’s keep the “guitars are cool as hell” ball rolling here. What if you’re shopping for a raging guitarist, legend of excellence? What if they polish their axe with a diaper and baby oil? We’re not ones to judge, we do plenty of weird shit when no one’s looking. Full disclosure, I only play my guitar/love-of-my-life after a deep, hearty lotioning of my fingertips. It is what it is, okay? Those strings are literally gold. No judgement, thanks. All I’m saying is what if you care about your guitar more than your actual waking life? You have 911 for if you almost die, right? Well say hello to 911 for your guitar. (WARNING: NOT A REAL PHONE NUMBER.)

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That’s right, in case of emergency please buy this for your friends, family or guitar-tech nerds. They’re people too, okay? They put their pants on one overzealous, misguided leg at a time. Only difference is once they’re finished with that, they give their heart to an inanimate object. It makes sense when you do it, okay? Guitars are awesome. If you disagree, well you can just shut up.

But what if you don’t have a guitar, or you don’t like guitars, or you don’t even know what I’m talking about? What even is a guitar? What an important question, I thought you’d never ask. What even is music? Is it just an aural expression of life, like fine art is visually? Where does art stop and reality begin? Who am I, how did I get here, and where am I going? Never stop asking these questions.

And hey if you’re really out of ideas, just buy your friends booze and candy so they can look like this all the time. I mean, it worked for me.

JCwed