musicians

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.

audioengineerhoodie

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

Aerodrums-Verpackung

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!

guitar punch

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.)

Screen shot 2015-12-17 at 1.34.45 PM

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

BREAKING DAY WITH MOON TAXI’S DAYBREAKER
October 27, 2015 5:33 pm

It took me a moment but once I heard a couple songs I realized that I had heard Moon Taxi before.  This band from Nashville who started in 2006 will blow your mind with the musical vastness they accomplish. They’ve had their music featured in numerous commercials, late night shows and festivals. The band released two previous records before their latest and greatest Daybreaker.  They have all the elements of a light indie pop/alternative rock group, with a  darker tinge of garage rock injected into the mix.

Daybreaker was just released October 2nd, just a few weeks ago and has everyone falling head over heals. Most of the songs on the album sound like a mix of Interpol with droning guitar riffs and sound similar to Kings of Leon vocally.  It’s reminiscent of something Danger Mouse might produce save for the grunge here and there throughout the record.  It was actually a pleasant surprise to hear the different sounds they are capable of making as I’m not generally a fan of more fluid indie rock.  But I was thoroughly impressed with how they produced this album and all of its dynamic.

You can really feel their performance, and how every single part of each song melts together in the perfect sequence while appropriately placed. This is the type of band you want to see live because you know they have it down to a science.  All of the songs, including the single “Year Zero” have a slight Vampire Weekend sound with milder vocals and more full sounding instrumentals.  I’d highly advise you to check out their album Daybreaker! If you’re ever in the mood to dance this album will be your best friend.  Check out the Jazzy tune “Make your mind up”  from the new album right here and watch these bad asses focused and rocking live at Lollapalooza.  The Beasts approve and beyond!

In The Ambient Abyss With Mariage Blanc
September 27, 2015 11:39 pm

The first day of fall was the perfect day to put the album No Autobiography by Mariage Blanc on repeat.  The band, from Pittsburgh, P.A. (who is now split between Pennsylvania and Sacramento, California) is the perfect soundtrack for a long drive on a slow Sunday afternoon.

While listening to their song “Silent Nations” I can feel the melancholy overtones pulling me into an abyss of sadness.  The vocals have the similarity of singer-song writer Elliott Smith’s paper thin vocals and guitar picking, with a little more calm in the deliverance reminiscent of Indie pop band Silversun pickups vocal style.

 

It’s no wonder Craig Ismaili included the album in his top 10 for 2015.  The band’s main attributes seem to be nostalgia and melancholy in the rawest form.  Recorded at Tree Lady Studios, the ambient white noise in the background of the track “Nowhere Town” to the finger picking and sliding sounds of the acoustic guitars in “Stay With Me” ultimately reminds me of a Figure 8 (Elliott Smith) and Bon Iver self titled love child.

Eventually when you’re able to pay attention to the lyrics, they melt your heart as well.  Mariage Blanc is easy to listen to and to fall in love with. They feel like a reincarnation of Simon and Garfunkel’s clever and perfectly placed chorus and lyrics that draw you in on the first listen. Who could even renounce the pain felt when you heard “did your heart break down in June?”  I can tell you that it tore straight through my soul and I can only imagine the energy they put into their live show, so if they decide to come to your town, you best be there. You know the beasts will!

Learn to Fly with Cesena, Italy
July 30, 2015 11:45 pm

Today has been a big day because the people of Cesena, Italy made an epic video for the Foo Fighters1,000 very passionate Foo Fighter fans got together and performed ‘Learn To Fly’ in hopes of getting Dave Grohl’s attention and getting the band to perform in Italy. A total of 250 singers, 350 guitarists, 150 basists and 250 drummers. Insane! You have to check out all these Italians rocking their hearts out!

 

Fevers – Better Outside Of Their Own Genre?
June 24, 2015 2:32 pm

Ottawa-based quintet Fevers have experimented in and around the genre of electro-pop. With a second album in the making, what kind of sound can we expect next?

When Fevers‘ first album No Room For Light was released back in 2013, their song “Dance Cry Dance” became a popular target for remixes. The popularity of the song has since spawned a music video as well as an eponymous remix EP. It is perhaps no surprise that one of the most favored tracks of the album is most similar in style to the title track of their first EP, “Passion is Dead”, of which the music video won the first prize at Ottawa Film Festival in 2012.

“Passion Is Dead” and “Dance Cry Dance” are both fully electronic tracks. They have a dark quality to them, yet they’re jaunty and easy to dance to, however could also be a bit rough around the edges. The layers upon layers of droning electronic sounds seem to accumulate into a general white noise that drowns out almost everything else. These songs aren’t very characteristic of the band’s style, however. A quick glance into Fevers‘ body of work shows that they are capable of much more. No Room For Light features a number of subtler electronic tracks, most notably the song “Monuments”, which is a clear testament of their ability to be more economical in how they build up their soundscapes.

FEVERS BAND BRICK WALL

Of all the tracks on Fevers‘ original EP, “Sort It Out” stands out the most. It unexpectedly abandons the band’s signature electro-pop, and instead flirts with a post-rock sound somewhat reminiscent of Mogwai or Explosions in the Sky. It is a great song, and it is good to see how this style prevails to a certain extent in their EP, which ends in a similar dramatic fashion in “The Veil”.

Electronic tracks like “Monuments” and post-rock tracks like “The Veil” are the two ends of the spectrum. No Room For Light explores many paths in between, and it is in this combination of the two genres that the band really finds its feet. Songs such as “Autumn’s Dead” or “Goodnight” use instruments as their foundations, making the electronics feel more like the icing on the cake. Like in post-rock there is a grand and dramatic quality to the songs, yet they have a unique ring to them which makes it hard to pin down which genre Fevers actually belongs in.

FEVERS BAND STRIP PHOTO

Fevers clearly take inspiration from various places, and some of their endeavors have been more successful than others. Personally, I feel that they are at their best when they transcend the boundaries of electro-pop. In any case, after seeing how well they perfected their sound from their first EP to their first album, I am confident to say I’m excited to see what they have in store for us in their second full length release.

Via Audio, One Year On
1:55 pm

It’s been a year since Via Audio released their woozily gorgeous “Natural Language”. Funded through the support of their fans, friends, and family through a successful Kickstarter campaign, the album sat for two years before being released in 2014. Now the band is on hiatus, living on separate coasts and finding out just how far they can stretch their talented wings.

The indie duo, comprised of Jessica Martins and Tom Deis first met in 2002 while studying at Berklee College of Music. They began as a quartet, then became a duo, first living in Boston, then Brooklyn, then half in Philadelphia, and half in Los Angeles.

They were a four-piece through their first three releases, becoming just two for Natural Language, producing the album with Via Audio’s original drummer Dan Molad. The release show, held at Glasslands (RIP), was both a “hello” and a “goodbye”; it was here, on a stage filled with flowers, that Martins announced her impending move to the west coast.

ATYPICALSOUNDS caught up with Jess and Tom to find out how life’s been treating them, and what we’ll be hearing from them in the future.

viaaudio

Your album Natural Language was released about a year ago. How do you feel the response was, compared with your 2010 album Animalore?

JM: The two records are completely different, from the songwriting to the budget to the way they were recorded, right down to the team involved in getting them out to the world. At the time Animalore was released, we had spent two weeks in Austin with Jim Eno from Spoon crafting a high-quality, expensive analog (to tape) album, which was released with help from a small label.

With Natural Language, time had elapsed, interest in the band seemed to be waning, and a lot of the team had fallen off the wagon by the time it was released – no longer did we have management, a label to represent us, or a booking agent to help set up shows. So to clarify, after our gracious friends and families helped us raise enough money to record and press Natural Language on our own, we couldn’t pay for PR as the budget was depleted – we really had our backs against the wall as to whether we should just release the record ourselves and do what little PR we could on our own, or to never release the record at all because we couldn’t promote it as well as we would have liked.

We had been sitting on the completed record for almost 2 years, one of our key members had decided to leave the band, resulting in Via Audio becoming a duo, and I was getting ready for a change in my life, which ended up with me moving to LA. In the end, we made the decision to just do what we could to put it out into the universe, having no expectations for what the future would hold. Because of the differences in all the behind-the-scenes, it’s hard for me to compare them fairly, but the awesome fans we’ve maintained seem to really like Natural Language, so it would’ve been really great to have gotten more traction with this record.

TD: We had positive responses from our fans for both records. There were some songs that critics weren’t ok with on Animalore, but it was all part of what we wanted to do as a band, which our fans have always supported. We didn’t pay for PR for Natural Language, so I only saw a few online reviews which were quite positive! Most of what we heard from our fans was that Natural Language was their favorite. So, I sometimes wonder what would happen if we got a more public response from critics.

via audio record

Natural Language is more subdued than Animalore, which had more elements of dance music. Was this a conscious shift, or a part of your evolving tastes as musicians?

JM: Via Audio has always been a very open, collaborative democracy and it’s what I believe makes it so special. The evolution felt natural as we grew up and expanded our tastes.

TD: Natural Language was more personal, and that just happened due to us as humans. There was never a moment that we got together as a band and decided on any direction. That’s what made the band feel like a free space to write whatever.

What changes have you seen in indie music since you started the band in 2002?

JM: Though it’s hard to believe, the Internet wasn’t really a huge resource yet for musicians in 2002. You had to do more digging to get to the good stuff – today it feels really convoluted and like a lot of stuff passes for indie when maybe it really belongs in another genre. I guess it’s expanded though, which is great for the acts who can break into the higher echelon and fall somewhere between truly “independent” and backed by a label, but still maintaining the “indie” quality.

TD: There are a lot of exciting things going on all the time. SXSW has been an interesting cross section of the indie music scene of the USA. I’d say that it has become more welcoming. More and more bands are doing what they want. It was nice to see the rise of a band like Dirty Projectors, who probably wouldn’t have achieved that level of success when the current indie scene was still in adolescence in 2002.

Many albums, like Natural Language, are being released on vinyl in addition to CD and MP3. What is your opinion on the appeal of vinyl? Has it become expected for indie bands in particular to release albums on vinyl?

JM: There’s certainly a charm to vinyl that will hopefully never go away – it really makes me happy that so much of the world understands the importance of tangible, analog things, all over again. Nowadays most bands record digitally and transfer it to an analog record, which somewhat defeats the purpose – and financially speaking, it’s somewhat a waste if you really break down numbers – but besides the improved warmth in the sound, having that product to offer helps the overall message of your band come across, that this is something you worked hard on and now you can hold it in your hand and listen to it or break it or melt it down into a cool bowl or whatever you want to do with it. A vinyl record of my music could potentially outlive me, and that’s cool. Not to mention it helps your idols take you more seriously when you sheepishly hand them your record on vinyl.

TD: Indie bands are expected to release on vinyl. There is a certain ritual to putting on a record that feels like we’re taking time to appreciate music. Something has to be sacred in our culture. There’s also the sound of vinyl, which is charmingly imperfect, more organic sounding. I believe the current culture treasures both of those elements as they add meaning and physical reality to the experience of music.

You’ve toured pretty extensively throughout the US and Japan. How did you keep your shit together?

JM: Touring can be less difficult if you have the money and resources to make it so, but when you’re in your salad days and you’re driving yourselves around, sleeping on floors and living off gas station meals, it’s hard to remember how fulfilling it all becomes for those 45 minutes you’re on stage, and the couple of hours around that where you’re exploring new places and meeting new people. When you’re traveling with another band, it can really be fun getting to know them and their set and swapping seats in vans and just having a musical adventure together. Perspective is always skewed though – now that we’re not touring, I long for that life again; but put me back in the van for 3 weeks and I’ll be ready to come home to my cats.

TD: We toured month on, month off at the most. We all felt good about not touring constantly, and it would’ve been hard to take all that touring. We love playing shows, but home is something that gets pretty appealing even after 3 weeks on the road.

While touring, did the combination of sleep deprivation and unfamiliar surroundings culminate in any unique situations or experiences?

JM: We once ended up in a ditch in Montana during a snow storm…

TD: The first real outside promotion we got was from kids who mostly promoted Emo music. We played many shows with Emo/screamo bands, once found ourselves playing in a skate park. I think that counts as a unique situation for a band that sounds like us.

What advice can you give to a band that is getting ready to tour for the first time?

JM: Bring a book and other things to keep busy in the van. Learn how to snack well and stretch so you don’t fall apart eating gas station junk. And of course, appreciate every single person who listens to you play and wants to talk to you after the show. The life is unglamorous, but the love it brings back is not.

TD: Make the most of any situation you’re in. When one person shows up in some random Midwestern town, be their friend.

Do you read reviews of your work that get posted online and printed in magazines, or do you prefer not to know? Do you think a less-than-stellar review could change the way you write?

JM: I wouldn’t say we necessarily care if someone has a negative review, because it certainly is just as valid as any other. It’s good to know what your feedback is – while Say Something and Animalore were a bit more eclectic, Natural Language felt more focused, and I think that has to do with the response we received on the first two records. That might have more to do with the production and less with the writing.

TD: I read as much as I can find. I think all feedback has some kind of subtle effect on anyone. To me, it’s the feedback of people I know and respect that I think counts for the most. There was one time when Dan Molad told me to write lyrics in a certain persona that showed up when I wrote him weird emails, and I liked that idea. That fed into a Via Audio song called Lizard Song. So there are specific situations where you get hints as to how to write from the world. But mostly it’s just “what do I want to hear” that drives my writing.

Do you find the inspiration for your songs changes based on where you’re living (e.g. California vs New York)? Also, don’t you miss the pizza here?

JM: I’ve been writing some stuff out here [Los Angeles], and I would certainly say my surroundings are informing it – though I don’t know if it’s 100% geographical as it also feels based on how my life changed moving out here. California is such a beautiful place to live, and I’ve only ever lived on the east coast before this, so the change definitely helped move along a writer’s block I had been experiencing, and inform it a bit. Tom is actually still on the east coast [in Philadelphia], so maybe the time spent on opposite coasts could be a good influence on future Via Audio sounds. While the pizza in LA does leave something to be desired, the taco trucks on nearly every corner somewhat make up for it.

TD: Songs come from everything in your life. I’m sure surroundings work their way into your songs. I once heard an escalator making a repeated rhythmic thump and click, and sang it to myself all the way home. When I got home, I made it into a song.

How are you keeping yourselves busy now? Any new music coming?

JM: We put out Natural Language without saying too much about what the future would hold, because I think we weren’t sure either. It feels good to work on other stuff, to get back in touch with my own songwriting so I can better collaborate with others. If Via Audio does continue to make music, which I have complete faith it will, it might become something different than what it has been due to all the changes that have happened over the last 13 years, which on one hand feels okay as the band has evolved, but on the other hand feels like it might end up that we’re working on something that could be energy better-served on something new and fresh and differently inspired. Via Audio was such a wonderful, unique thing for so long that I almost don’t want to tamper with it now that so much has changed. I’d like to let the music that made it out into the world speak for itself and not try to force anything else if it isn’t meant to be. Either way, Tom and I will continue to make music, whether together or in different capacities, and that feels inspired enough to me right now.

TD: Jess and I have both been writing music for other projects. I may record some of mine as a solo album soon. A bunch of work has gone into my band Lazercake. Jess has some really cool music posted on the Internet under the name Land Art.

Watch: Wing & A Prayer from Via Audio’s Natural Language: