indie band

CHECKING OUR VITALS WITH MUTEMATH
January 7, 2016 1:49 pm

I’ve known about MuteMath since the early 2000’s and this band has always been prominent in the indie electro-pop music scene. I heard of them all the way from Alaska when music wasn’t so easily accessible as it is today. The power in the psychedelic electronic pop that this band has carried is on par with the likes of MGMT with the soul of Portugal.the man, but on a more long term scale. These guys have their interest in funk going successfully since 2002.

The New Orleans band’s new album Vitals was released on November 13th. In perfect timing to heat up our souls for this oncoming drastic winter with their catchy words, warm tones and dancing melodies. This is soul electronica at its finest, as heard in their song “Used To” off of the new record. Then you move on to some more emotional and heart felt inflection in “Safe if we Don’t Look Down” Which sounds more similar to the softer songs of Coldplay in the X and Y era.

This whole record has waltzing melodies in the vein of The Shins, but in the song “Light up”off the album has more of a Minus the Bear kind of vibe; a melancholy dance fest. Meany’s voice (what a great name) is effortless and full of reverence in this ode to fractured love and yearning for better times. Not to mention the beautiful instruments they’re known to use would make any vintage heart drop.

‘Don’t say enough, we’re not out of love
We just grew up having to find out that
Hearts go astray, sparks slip away
But I have to say, I still light up for you’

The unfortunate adult experience in love and loss, and most importantly longing, these guys sure seem to get it. We’re loving it, and if you’re going through a heart ache or loss you need to pick this album up and cry at home on a Saturday night so you can wake up Sunday morning and keep pushing yourself to get the hell out of bed with their song “Monument” because new love will always find you.

GET CAUGHT IN STOLEN JARS “WAVES”
November 14, 2015 7:20 am

Stolen Jars is the indie music project of Cody Fitzgerald and Molly Grund. Inspired by acts as diverse as Sufjan Stevens, Elvis Costello, and Dirty Projectors, the music is a vibrant mixture of looping intricate guitar lines and floating melodies all brought to life by a live band featuring Elena Juliano, Connor McGuigan, Matt Marsico and Tristan Rodman.

Fitzgerald and Grund are building off the success of Stolen Jars’ self-titled album released in 2011. The single off that album, “Driving,” was featured in an international Apple iPad commercial. Their sophomore album Kept is decidedly more ambitious. Fitzgerald composed and layered tracks in his bedroom, tinkering to ensure precision. He and Grund then worked together to build vocal melodies around the tracks.

Stolen Jars played CMJ for the first time a few weeks back, and Bob Boilen of NPR discovered the band and subsequently included them on his list of Top Ten Discoveries of CMJ, as well as All Songs Considered. He wrote of the band: “This staccato pop band wavers between arpeggiated guitar and electronics and a lilting, almost South African-styled guitar band at times. It’s that melody between two of its members – guitarist Cody Fitzgerald and singer Molly Grund – that keeps these six musicians from being more than just another joyous indie rock band.”

All this leads us to today where NPR First Watch shares Stolen Jars’ new music video “Waves” from their sophomore album, Kept.

Cody Fitzgerald of the band says this about how the video came to be: “The video is about falling into and out of different memories. I wrote this song at a time when I was wondering whether I should let those moments pass by as waves of emotion or embrace them. So when the three of us were making the video, we wanted to try and capture that wave-like feeling of falling into a memory and being unsure of whether or not that’s where you should be.”

STOLEN JARS

When premiering, “Folded Out,” the first single from Kept, Wondering Sound wrote “Cody Fitzgerald and Molly Grund’s voices spiral and intertwine . . . flutes dart like fireflies, strings swoop down – what started modest and pretty becomes mighty and bold and imposing.” After their second single release, more music bloggers including Stereogum, The Wild Magazine, and Gold Flake Paint enthusiastically agreed, describing the music as “addictively vibrant,” “sweetly supple,” “grand, an anthem.” The album was mixed by Eli Crews (tUnE-yArDs, Deerhoof, WHY?) and mastered by Jeff Lipton (Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, LCD Soundsystem).

Over the course of the last year, Stolen Jars has been performing regularly in the Northeast, including shows with Sofar Sounds, Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, and Brandeis College’s Springfest where they opened for St. Lucia, ILOVEMAKONNEN and Jessie J. In addition to all of this, Fitzgerald has been working as a film composer on features such as The Rewrite (2015) and Hard Sell (2015). Get ready to fall into and out of different memories, blaming the nostalgia for your new-found love of Stolen Jars.

CARROLL SUMMONS PSYCHEDELIC VIBES IN PHILLY
November 2, 2015 12:02 am

It was a drizzly, damp evening. The Boot & Saddle is a cosey South Philly music venue that bring in a wide range of indie upstarts befitting its intimate setting. Carroll is a Minneapolis four-piece that creates gentle, lush sound collages tinged with swirls of mild psychedelia. The quaint stage a perfect platform to usher in their debut self-titled album and kick off a brief tour of the East Coast.

keys1Carroll are a young band and you can tell. They haven’t gotten all of the nerves out yet, there are some hesitancies, nervous fidgeting, minor nuances in their stage presence. To be fair, I’ve always found the smaller crowds make it tougher to get into your groove. Large crowds are so all-encompassing- insignificant little ants. Smaller audiences are a nerve-racker, brings you back to classroom stage-freight. There’s nothing covering up even the most trivial imperfection, missed note, belting out a line in the wrong key. None of this mattered though, Carrol’s sound mirage was spectacular.

Colorful interlocking guitars. Vibrant vocal harmonies. Swift, punchy drums that gave the music an energetic punch. Waves of deep, robust bass- filling out the hazey soundscape. They played through the highlights from their new album no particular order, and also threw in a few bonus concoctions. All in all a solid set. Each song had a new and unexpected transition, rewarding avid listeners with a fresh dynamic.

This promising new band is traveling across the country to rile up hype for an album they’d put countless hours into, and that passion and genuine love to entertain spews out.  Definitely catch them if they come through your city.

I got a chance to ask Carroll’s bassist, Charles McClung, a few questions prior to their show, discuss the origin of the name “Carroll”, transplanting from the outskirts of Minneapolis to Philly, and the nervous energy associated with a new album. Here’s what he had to say:

So we know the name Carroll is derived from the Iconic Minneapolis hot spot, what brought you to name your band after that?

We named the band after the avenue in St. Paul where Brian and Charlie started the band. In our own way, we made it a hot spot, although I doubt anyone else would consider it such.

I looked up name “Carroll” online, it’s a surname, Irish in origin, meaning “manly” or “champion”…so you guys believe you’re “manly champions”?!  

We would be very hesitant to call ourselves manly champions.

You guys are picking steam in Minneapolis and you’re summoned to record an album out here in Philly. What was that like?  

It’s funny you use the word “summoned”! We definitely learned a thing or two about the art of summoning from that experience; namely, summoning the psychedelic vibes from within!

How does that compare to the Northern Wilderness?

On a more serious note, it was definitely a rad experience to leave the Twin Cities to record in a totally different creative environment out here in Philadelphia. Some of us liked it enough to move out here, actually. Both cities are special places.

Recording tracks in a studio environment versus recording demos out in the woods are very different experiences. I think we have an affinity for both domains, though. Disparate inspirations come into play.

Apparently you guys recorded the album in 18 days–did you guys actually get to check out the city?  Or were you locked up in the studio the entire time?

You can fit a lot into 18 days, as it turns out! We were able to finish tracking and get a feel for the city as a whole during that recording session. Some days were more stressful than others, both in and out of the studio. From Max taking his sweet time dialing in guitar tones to Charles getting lost in South Philadelphia looking at murals… it was a fun time.

Are you looking forward to returning to Philly and playing the Boot & Saddle?  Philly’s a pretty fun crowd, right?!?

Yeah, Philadelphians are a hoot. We actually just peeped Here We Go Magic at Boot & Saddle earlier this week, and we’re excited to get back in there!

How was it working with Jon Low (who’s produced Kurt Vile, The War On Drugs, The National, and many more) you must have been absolutely floored.

Jon Low is a wizard. But he’s not the only one. See www.shatteredorb.net for evidence.

Releasing a record is a major milestone for any up-and-coming band. Are you more anxious or excited about rolling out your self-titled second record? It sounds amazing by the way- as if my opinion counted for anything.

Thank you so much! Your opinion totally counts, don’t sell yourself short! Although we are generally an anxious bunch, I think that it would be the wrong adjective to describe our view on our record. We’re proud of it and happy that it’s out in the world now.

A BLAST FROM THE PAST WITH PAPERWHITE
September 16, 2015 2:38 pm

Katie and Ben Marshall are fire.

The second I pressed play on their soundcloud to their new music, I instantly had a mental flashback of dancing in my room with Michael Schoeffling (my lamp) to the Sixteen Candles soundtrack.

Paperwhite Live @ Cameo Gallery

Paperwhite Live @ Cameo Gallery

This Brooklyn based dream-pop duo Paperwhite clearly grabs their influence from a handful of 80s pop artists like Aphex Twin, Depeche mode, and Stevie Wonder in addition to some more modern electro pop figures. They addict you to their wistful, synthpop sounds, plunging you into a nostalgic haze while Katie’s smooth vocals swim over your skin. Ben is the producer and co-writer while also drumming with the Brooklyn band Savoir Adore. They played this year’s SXSW and absolutely killed it. It’s no secret that their music is worth listening to; they’ve been listed on Hypem’s most Blogged Artist twice in a row and just let out their debut EP Magic and the beasts have gotten our eyes on them.

Recently, they were selected to be one of 84 obviously awesome international bands to join Converse Music on their journey to Iceland to record at Greenhouse Studios with Rubber Tracks. Being selected for a stellar program like this one is a reassurance, if you needed any to begin with, that listening to their stuff is not a waste of time. A ton of amazing artists have been honored with the highly sought-after free recording time in the iconic studios, like Via Audio, Journalism, The Veevees, and hundreds more.

Paperwhite’s sounds grabbed me and wrapped its silky, dreamy arms around me and I cannot wait to see what they come up with when they return from Greenhouse.

Written by Annie Paul 

You Should Know About Expert Alterations
August 12, 2015 2:56 pm

Expert Alterations just released their first EP in June, and already they’ve seen positive reviews from publications like Noisey, Stereogum, Brooklyn Vegan, and Impose Magazine. Their sound has been described as “C-86 style indie pop with scratchy, jangly guitars, lead-like bass lines and a sleepy vocal style.” I’ll save you the trouble of trying to decipher that quote, and just tell you that Expert Alterations is pretty damn good.

The Baltimore trio, comprised of singer and guitarist Patrick Teal, bass player Alan Everhart, and drummer Paul Krolian, will be touring through the end of August, with support from Literature, Hard Left, and Mercury Girls. ATYPICAL SOUNDS was lucky to catch up with Patrick as he prepares to hit the road.

Expert_Alterations_Credit_Megan_Lloyd

You’ve toured quite a bit this year. Was it difficult for you to put the rest of your lives aside to do it? Did you need to give up any day jobs?

PT: All of our bosses are in bands that tour so they are very understanding. Alan has done even more touring, he plays bass in Wildhoney.

You’re getting ready to tour with Literature next month. Have you worked with them before? Is it a challenge to tour so closely with a band you may only just be getting to know?

PT: We played a handful of shows with Literature last year right when their LP on Slumberland came out. We get to see Kevin [Attics] up in Philadelphia every so often and got to stay at Nate [Cardaci’s] house in Austin this past January while we were on tour. It’s always a bit awkward at first, but being in such close quarters you get close rather quickly. None of us knew The Flatmates when we played a few dates together last year- by day two it was like we had known each other for ages.

Do any of you get motion sickness? What are you most/least anticipating on this tour?

PT: Getting out of town is always pleasant. Just happy to spend some days with some of the best people we know. They’re the absolute best band to see live. I do not think there is anything the three of us “aren’t looking forward to.” It is just nice to break the monotony of everyday life. We all have pretty decent stomachs when it comes to that, I don’t think there are many windy roads where we are going.

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Which of your songs do you think sounds best played live? Which is your favorite to play live?

PT: They all sound remarkable live. “Dear Thomas” will always hold a sweet spot in our hearts. Paul really likes to play “A Bell” from our first EP.

Over the last 6 months, you’ve steadily begun to gain more recognition. Have there been any differences in how you work with a band? What about working with your record labels? 

PT: Differences, no. We are still very committed to making new friends and keeping in touch with a lot of the bands we’ve met and played with both in Baltimore and on the road. Working with Slumberland and Kanine has been nothing but enjoyable. Mike, Lio and Kay are really sweet and supportive. I mean it isn’t difficult to work with anyone when you share the same goal and that is putting out good records.

How did you get involved with this year’s Popfest? Were you familiar with the festival before you got involved with it?

PT: Paul and Patrick went three years ago. We toured with The Flatmates who were one of the headliners last year. We met Maz [Alhadid, producer of Popfest] last year, and this year he invited us to play. Lovely guy.

How do you feel about the pizza in New York, compared with the pizza in Baltimore?

PT: That’s like comparing apples to garbage. The large apple’s pizza surpasses Baltimore’s.

Great answer! So, your EP was released on both vinyl and cassette. What benefits do you see in each of these formats, versus just releasing a digital download or CD?

PT: All formats are pretty great. We are not purists that think vinyl and tape necessarily sound better and warmer and what have you. People just seem to be fond of the vinyl and tape formats. Paul still buys CDs. “It is 2015.”

Do you have any new music in the works? What are your plans for the autumn?

PT: Split 7” with Literature should be out early September. That’ll be on Square of Opposition Records. Our first LP will be released October 30th on Brooklyn’s own Kanine Records. Plans… rake some leaves, carve a pumpkin, tour a bunch.

literature_expert_alterations_tour_poster

Expert Alterations will be performing with Hard Left and Mercury Girls on 8/12 at Boot & Saddle in Philadelphia, PA.

Expert Alterations will be performing with Literature on the following dates:

8/19 Black Cat – Washington, DC

8/19 Black Cat – Washington, DC

8/20 Cake Shop – New York, NY

8/21 Shea Stadium – Brooklyn, NY

8/23 Ottobar – Baltimore, MD

 

Hippo Campus Kills Baby’s Alright
June 22, 2015 4:00 pm

Hippo Campus is a new indie pop/rock 4-piece that is stealing the hearts of girls in every city they play. Thursday night at Baby’s Alright I checked out the band and talked to the boys after the show and they are every bit as adorable as their set would have you believe- with the musical chops to back it up.

The band hails from Minnesota and has been on a rigorous tour schedule all year. Their stop in New York was to a jam packed room. They played hits off their last album Bashful Creatures like “Little Grace” and “Suicide Saturday” in addition to lots of newer and dare I say, slightly heavier, material. The songs on Bashful Creatures remind me of an early Vampire Weekend. Both bands have polished and urbane lyrics, coupled with fast and fussy guitar lines to get your heart rate up. Their band name itself is even a high-brow academic reference to the part of the brain associated with your long term memories, something Ezra Koenig and Rostam Batmanglij would appreciate. Their lyrics are sophisticated while also telling to the intrinsically jealous, passionate and sometimes idiotic nature of the teenage boy brain. “I cannot tell what you claim to see, that your heart is black and mine is so green” is the opening line for their song Little Grace, and lead vocalist Jake delivers it with swoon-worthy sincerity.

Their arrangements are fun without being “fun”; catchy melodies supported with funky, solid, bass and drum grooves. The band has also nailed their live performance with coordinated dance moves and witty banter with the audience. Be sure to check them out coming to a city near you on their ongoing tour.

STOCKHOLM TO NYC: URBAN CONE RELEASES “POLAROID MEMORIES”
May 15, 2015 10:27 pm

Urban Cone is a band fresh out of Stockholm Sweden, and ABBA themselves would be proud of their latest electro pop release “Polaroid Memories”. The album is bright, fresh and authentic. Another Stockholm Native you may be familiar with (Tove Lo) does a feature on the track “Come Back To Me” and Urban Cone is even able to make “the saddest girl in Sweden” sound like she is dancing. Some stand-out tracks are “You Built Your House of Cards”, “Rocketman”, “We Are Skeletons” and “It’s Hard To Hate Someone You Love”.

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“You Built Your House of Cards” is basically “Fireflies” by Owl City, but all grown up. The lyrical sentiment expressed in “I want you to understand that this is over” and “you built your house out of cards” are very heavy and perfectly juxtaposed with the light and sparkly keyboard melody so the lyrics really have room to stand out.

“Rocketman” has a melody that will be stuck in your head for ages, much like the Elton John tune of the same title. This track really encapsulates the beauty of the album, because it is pop, makes you want to dance, has electronic instrumentation, yet avoids cliché.

I could show you the sky

Like a dream I will make it alive

I could show you the lights

Wish I could show you all this tonight

If I was the rocketman

This is the opening line of the song, and although it reads like a poem it is paired with an undeniably catchy melody.

“We are Skeletons” is out of the Matt & Kim camp of strong laser-beam esque keyboard with bombastic electronic drums under it. The track has a nebulous disco influence and it is easy to imagine the cast of “Girls” dancing away the night in a warehouse in Bushwick as this track plays. The boys of “Walk The Moon” would commend the song for its energy and forward-driving beat.

“It’s Hard To Hate Someone You Love” is the album’s down time and is a chilled-out hazy version of the energy and forward driving force we hear on the rest of the album. We see this dreamy shoe-gaze influence on the track “Never Gonna See You Again” as well, and the songs provide a bit of a respite from the highs of the album (“Never Gonna See You Again” sounds like Foster The People, but not boring). The lyrics on “It’s Hard To Hate Someone You Love” are quirky and relatable, while also retaining a poetic element.

All these folks that end up all alone

Do you want to be like them I said

Its so hard when you conceal your heart

I don’t want to lie to you I said

I don’t want to lie to you again baby

It’s hard to hate someone you love

Urban Cone 2MAIN_PhotoJohnArthur

Urban Cone’s new album is the perfect soundtrack for your summer, and we the Beasts can’t wait to catch them at Bowery Ballroom opening for The Griswolds in NYC on June 18th.

Written by Alessandra Licul