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A NIGHT OF CHOCOLATE AND CHEVAL
July 28, 2016 6:50 pm

When walking into any small time club, you can expect some loud popular music while waiting for a band to go up on stage to have fun and play some cool tunes. But last night at U Street Music Hall in Washington DC, a small club turned into a musical hot box.

20427_620380401430800_4122135562059143816_nStarting the night with some cool DJ work from local artist Dirty Chocolate, he pumped out some of his own music while playing club hits with elegantly twisted remixes. From metropolitan city Gaithersburg, Maryland, he taught himself how to make music while going deep into the internet. From humble beginnings (graduating the same high school that I did) to sick clubs, Emmanuel Osemene has a strong future ahead of him. I had a minute to chat with him about his experiences with music after the show:

I’ve always been a huge fan of music…I love discovering music and finding people who push boundaries. It’s cool to see talented people use their imagination to make music better. You wouldn’t hear it in my music but Pharrel, Timberland, Daft Punk, Juicy J, Kanye West, Justice, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, and Tame Impala have been some of my biggest influences.

After him, the crowd turned around to the main stage and there were so many switchboards and keyboards that I honestly had no idea what to expect. Then the band started to play and I was immediately blown away as the four of them played musical hacky sack, taking turns on solos and bits of the song while perfectly supporting each other.

Their name is Club Cheval, they live in Paris, France are in the states for a bit to tour. Theyed play song after song of fantastic electronic sound and mixing with a superb drummer in the back who ended the show with the gnarliest drum bit I had ever heard. I had a chance to talk to Panteros666 (the drummer) right after their set list.

Tell us about yourselves…

We live in Paris, but we we are from a little city called Lille…We have a lot of influences there from Britian and Belgium so we have that kind of culture where we just mix everything together.

Where do you get you unique sound from?

Literally everywhere. We don’t put any genres on any pedestal and have no hierarchy with our music. We listen to stuff like Hip-Hop, Balie Funk from Brazil, Slow Jam and experimental stuff. I’m into trance and lots of other stuff. Each one of us has our own certain sound and we like to mix it to create something different. It doesn’t really work well in France though, so that’s why we’re here, we can relate better with the people. Sometime we are just too powerful for them and that’s probably why we are bigger here.

How did you guys meet?

To cut a long story short, we were all doing our high level studies which actually including political sciences, sound engineering and other areas. But we got together in our small city and were really obsessed with making a new breed of electronic music. We did well in our little city and then moved to Paris and met a lot of people and now were here playing music.

It was amazing how humble and relaxed Dirty Chocolate and Club Cheval were. It was a fantastic show, great start and great end with happily ringing ears all the way home. Check out more Dirty Chocolate here and Club Cheval’s tour dates here and new album here.

CAUTION: POKÉMON GO’ERS AT PLAY
July 11, 2016 1:30 pm

Never have I seen a game do what Pokémon GO is doing right now in our world. Let me paint a picture for you…

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Last Saturday, my wife and I were in Rockville Square, Maryland, a hub for people and shops, and we decided to go on a walk to hunt some new Pokémon. We found a huge amount of items and Pokémon to catch on every street corner. As we meandered around looking at our phones, we slowly saw other people and groups all walking to the exact same places, on their phones, and we realized they were playing the same game, hunting for Pokémon, interacting with this augmented reality. I was surprised at how many people were there to find virtual creatures and ended up bonding in a half-real life, half-online way. It was a truly surreal moment to see everyone gather in this part of the city like that.

To break it down, Pokémon GO is an augmented reality game in which the game tracks your location and has placed various things to interact with throughout every inch of the real world. You will be brought to real places of significance. Without even trying, this app with have you walking around for an hour and visiting places in your city that you’ve never been before. Pokémon Go is broken down into three key elements, catching and training Pokémon, finding Pokéstops and battling at Poké Gyms.

File_001Catching and Training Pokémon

To catch Pokémon, you have to go looking for them. It’s fairly random, but more populated places will help you find more Pokémon. When you find a Pokémon, your camera will come on and the Pokémon will appear to be in the real world, and it’s pretty awesome. There are items like Incense and Lure to attract Pokémon to you. Also catch as many as you can of all Pokémon, you’ll need them to strengthen your Pokémon. For more tips to actually train your Pokémon and evolve them, click here.

Poké Stops

You’ll find these at various places of interest: memorials, gazebos, or gas stations. Get close enough to the Stop to snag the items there. You’ll need all the items you can get, and there are often Pokémon lurking by, so hunting for Poké Stops is an easy way to progress quickly.

Poké Gyms

After your beginning hours in the game, you choose one of three teams, Mystic (Blue), Yellow (Instinct), or Valor (Red). The gyms are fighting grounds for the different teams and here, you battle to gain control of the Poké Gym and territory for your specific team. There seems to be no overall goal for now or major purpose for controlling the Gyms except bragging rights (if you have nerdy friends who, they probably have already posted some memes about the teams).

Overall the game is pretty fun, it isn’t perfect, and the server issues and long load times can be really rough sometimes. Down the road other features could be added, says CEO John Hanke. It might be a while before new features come, but that’s reasonable because the game is less than a week old. If you want to casually run around and catch some Pokémon or become crazy with powerful Pokémon, this game will satisfy your needs while enjoying some fresh air and good exercise. But please, be aware of your surroundings, be safe and don’t get in trouble. Get ready to walk more than you ever have while awkwardly bumping into other people playing the game, download the app and GO. “Gotta catch em’ all,” right?

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.

Sun Club Explodes at Palisades
August 27, 2015 5:48 pm

The fact that it was a Monday night wasn’t going to stop a crowd from raging for Sun Club after a long day at work. This show was much anticipated since their last show at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar where they shred down the house with Reptar. Sun Club announced their debut album The Dongo Durango and released new music along with the music video for “Tropicoller Lease” the morning of the show, keeping me excited throughout the day.

Even though their van caught on fire earlier in the day, they managed to make it to Palisades and bring their infectious vibes to Brooklyn. Seeing them set up all kinds of gadgets and gizmos including a green iron board as a keyboard stand, I could tell that they were one of a kind. Once they started playing, their energy shot from 0 to 100 instantly- and it was contagious as hell. Girls were mesmerized by their charisma and long, luscious locks that were dramatically flying like the flames that covered their van. You could tell that they put all their energy in their grand opening because Mikey had snapped one of his guitar strings only a few minutes into their set.

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As soon as “Summer Feet” started playing, I was immediately reminded of the Chevvy commercial. Standing right next to the speakers, I didn’t mind the deafening volume of the music. There’s something about this song that makes everyone want to groove and have a good time. Even though the stage was a pretty tight space for all five guys, that didn’t stop them from bouncing off the walls, jumping around everytime they hit a note. “Tropicoller Lease” brought some beachy vibes to the room, perfectly appropriate for this summer weather. I love how bipolar this song is, constantly changing from slow to fast paced giving me highs and lows in such a short time. Their energetic set was like a line of grenades continuously exploding, getting more and more wild. Their tunes are undeniably contagious and leave you feeling good after dancing on your feet for so long.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

ARTIST OF THE MONTH: SUN CLUB
August 3, 2015 4:11 pm

Upon seeing their names listed as Big Snack, D-Mac, Special K, Petunia, and Triscuit on Facebook with their real names nowhere to be specified online, I knew they were going to be a rad group of guys. I came across their set at Brooklyn Night Bazaar (which sadly doesn’t exist anymore) a few months ago when they blew the place up with their energetic and youthful vibes. All the hair-flipping and rolling on the ground kept the crowd rowdy and excited, leaving me with an appetite to get to know them more in depth.

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Baltimore based band Sun Club have been built by childhood friends who had the same vision in life: start a band, become rockstars, take over the world. Shayne and Devin are two blood brothers who grew up together and loved making homemade videos. “They were outside making a movie one day- a really stupid kid movie, and Mikey who was a neighbor wanted to be a part of it so they started making zombie movies together.” Adam and Cory tagged along later on, and “have been around since 1946” Adam jokes as he’s telling me this story. They have been playing as Sun Club for 3 years now, and have been on the uprise since.

I got pretty exciting hearing the ultimate summer tune “Summer Feet” on the latest Cheverolet Trax commercial while watching videos of YouTube. It feels great to recognize great indie tunes in unexpected places like this. Apparently, none of the band members have yet to come across this commercial!

They started pursuing music at a pretty young age, and have been rolling in that field without any other career interests. Though Devin seemed to have a dream to become the next Willy Wonka by working at a chocolate factory, oddly! “He wanted to work in the candy world and actually went to school for it, but dropped out” since they started making some awesome tunes with Sun Club.

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Every musician needs an escape from music, spending their downtime consumed with other hobbies. “We sit in a circle and do all this voodoo stuff, collect people’s hairs and all.” Adam goes on about this voodoo business for a few minutes which makes me start questioning whether he’s speaking the truth since it was so detailed…We will never know! Either way, they still seem like a cool bunch of people to hang with.
So what is Sun Club’s ultimate goal in their musical career, and at what point will they feel fully accomplished? “Be sponsored by Chipotle so we can get an unlimited amount of Chipotle for life.” If you want to please them, you better show up to their next show with a bag full of bowls and burritos! (Some extra chips and guac for the beasts won’t hurt either!)