May 25, 2016 12:16 pm

I was anti-country and folk for most of my life, but after a year of working at Longhorn Steakhouse, those country tunes start to grow on you. My heart still leans towards rock and electronic musicians, as it has for most of my life’s music intake, but country music (when it is good) has a place in my heart.

Andrew Combs is one of these amazingly talented country boys that makes me want to dive deeper into the sounds of the southern soul. His song “Long Gone Lately” was actually one of the songs that was on a constant repeat over those Longhorn speakers, a crafty tactic that accomplished its probable goal of making me enjoy country music. 

Combs was born in Dallas, TX but spent many years in Nashville, TN (and still resides there), so to say he has a musical background in country music is a real understatement. He has been breathing the country life since he was born. He loves songs that speak from the soul and you can hear that through his own music. He has this uncanny ability to make music that speaks to the heart. 

With his newest album All These Dreams, he explores his own music career, what it means to him and where it could take him. The album has a wonderful amount of diversity in sound and style. With darker and deeper spiritual tones in “Month of Bad Habits” and more chipper and thoughtful pieces like “Strange Bird,” Andrew is taking a lot of good risks in his style and it’s paying off. But it is more than just his sound that is unique. His lyrics and messages are quite deep and meaningful which both add a wonderful amount of flavor to his music.

If you aren’t into country, his music will reel you in with a lot of power, establishing the relationship between his experience and that of his listeners while staying true to his country roots. Taylor Swift will no longer suffice as the only country musician you enjoy. You need to try the real stuff. Give his stuff a serious listen through, let your inner cowboy or cowgirl be immersed in his fantastic sound.

April 13, 2016 11:04 am

The Kills came out with their first new single in 4 years last month.

It’s about damn time.

And the good news is “Doing it to Death” is sick. The new album Ash & Ice is slotted for a June 3rd release, and if their single is anything to base it off, we should be in for a treat.

Furthermore, their live show is straight bitchin.

Alison Mosshart (who you may know through her work with Jack White & The Dead Weather) and Jamie Hince have been working together since 2001 and it shows. They share an onstage chemistry that is truly infectious. These two clearly enjoy not just performing, but performing together. While Mosshart puts on a clinic of “How to Behave as a Lead Singer When Not Singing,” Hince plays the part of “the Rest of the Band.” Yes, The Kills do perform with a backing bassist and drummer, but the songs are still built around Hince’s ability to blend tones and textures into exciting songs. Mosshart brought a fiendish energy to the room with her vocals, and the two stomped all over the stage of Exit/In in Nashville.

Possibly the most refreshing aspect of the show was that it dispelled a slight worry about the new album. It’s evident that The Kills have moved a little out of the punk world and more into the indie one throughout their career. This is not an inherently bad thing, and frequently a band’s best work can occur at some point along this sliding scale, rather than at one end of it (see: Blood Sugar Sex Magik). But “Doing It To Death” could give some Kills fans pause. Simply put, it’s catchier than some of their older stuff. Emphasis on some. The Kills are no stranger to electronics – they started their career accompanied only by a drum machine. While some of the synth work may be a bit more forward in the mix, the effect is no different from that of the guitars on “Future Starts Slow,” the most successful song off their last record, Blood Pressures. And if you don’t think The Kills make catchy danceable songs, then you haven’t listened to “Getting Down” off 2008’s Midnight Bloom. Put it on now and thank me later.

The point here is not “The Kills make great catchy danceable tunes so why are you worried about them just doing that?” The point is that The Kills have always made great catchy danceable tunes in addition to the bluesy punky guitar and vocal centric tunes that they do SO well. They have no plans to let go of this side of their music, which they showed by performing songs like “Kissy Kissy” off their first album, 2003’s Keep On Your Mean Side. As much of their set was dedicated to getting the crowd moving, probably more was dedicated to getting the crowd feeling.

The Kills have been writing and performing together for 15 years. They are not getting worse at either of those things. They may continue to embrace a more centric style and production, but better that than forcing an aesthetic that is played out. The Kills continue to grow and evolve as a rock band, and we should all be excited for their next step.


March 31, 2016 9:30 am

Though the name Bassh may be new to you, it’s members shouldn’t be; the band is comprised of CJ Hardee and Jimmy Brown of Matrimony. Though they have only released one single so far, Bassh has already managed to catch some buzz from sites like NPR and Perez Hilton.

We caught up with CJ and Jimmy in Austin to talk shop about SXSW and what it’s like being a new band working towards their own sound.

How did SXSW go for you guys?

CH: It was exhausting, but fun.

You did four shows?

CH: We had four shows, plus a couple of other things, we were running around nonstop, basically.

JB: We had a lot of fun, though. It was really awesome.

What sort of things did you do for fun?

CH: We went to a castle. We finished a show and met a photographer, and she invited us to this castle. It was literally a castle.

Was it nearby?

CH: It’s in Austin, somewhere. There was a pool-moat, it was literally a castle. I’m talking spiral staircases, the whole nine yards. And they had a full bar, they had a bass rig, a guitar rig. We just hung out and played as a band all night. So that’s what we did for fun.

How did your shows go?

JB: They were really good. There were lots of different venues, we really had a good time. We saw some new bands, and we were all just kind of exploring and figuring out how to do live shows in the best way. All of us have been in different bands before, so I really value that opportunity to acknowledge the fact that [Bassh] is a new thing and it’s raw and we’re still figuring it out. I think for me, to put it in layman’s terms, when something is happening to you it’s a lot more exciting but a lot of the time you don’t realize it in the moment. And then you look back and think, “That was a really good time.” We try to keep up with how fresh it is, and really enjoy it, not put too many expectations on it, and just let it happen.

Was there anything you learned in your past bands, that you carried over to Bassh?

JB: You learn a lot of stuff along the way. You learn how to play better, you learn how to sing better, how to deal with things going on better, how to cope with being really tired better.

How do you cope with that?

JB: You just have to get over it. Sarah, our PR girl, she brings us water and stuff to rehydrate us.

Have you been to Austin before?

JB: I’d been there a few times to play shows with other bands, Austin’s a great place.

Do you have any pointers for bands going to their first SXSW?

JB: Don’t expect to get a soundcheck. For someone that’s never done SXSW before, they might freak out that they might not get that. You get there, you have five seconds to set up, and they feel like “This is South By, I thought I was going to make it this year.” You never know who you’re going to meet, or who you’re going to see. You just got to kill it.

You’re based in Nashville now, right?

JB: I’ve been there 10 months or a year, something like that.

How do you like it so far?

JB: Well I’m still there. It’s one of those things where you move somewhere and you learn a lot because your environment changes. You get to enjoy the new things, and also the pros and cons. I think for Bassh and for the music side of things, I think Nashville is a good place.

Are there certain things in Nashville you feel you can benefit from, versus being based in a place like New York or Los Angeles?

JB: Probably, it depends on what your goals are. If you want to write with other people, and perform with other people, than those are all good places. Some people don’t want to do that, a lot of people realize that’s not for them and they just don’t want to do that. It just depends. It’s a good experience and it’s good to feel it out, and you’ll definitely learn something from it.

You released “Body”, your first single, recently. Is there an album coming?

JB: We’re going to do another single pretty soon, and we’ll put out an EP or an album. We’ve got a plan. Once you put an album out, it’s out, so it’s like the way the music industry is, everything is very instantaneous. So once you make an album, then you have to make another album. I think for us, we’re a band still defining what our sound is. I think doing it this way allows us to be more creative.

March 7, 2016 2:40 pm

Wednesday night I was one of the lucky many that got to see LANY perform. They opened for Troye Sivan and the crowd went crazy. Most people were pretty well-versed in LANY and Sivan’s music- a note I made during the audience accompaniment. And if you hadn’t heard of them you before, well that’s what we here at ATYPICALSOUNDS are for! Constantly contributing to the ever growing “need-to-listen” playlist you have saved on your Spotify/Soundcloud/etc.

There were so many factors that made this show awesome; Jake Goss’s impeccable drumming, Les Priest’s heartfelt keyboard playing and harmonious back up vocals, Paul Klein’s sultry voice combined with his James Dean look and Jim Morrison spirit that radiated off the stage. It’d be a gamble to try to resist the “Damn, this is really good” reflex.

Thursday morning, I caught up with LANY over an entertaining and hilarious brunch in the East Village.


How did the band come together?

PK: Jake kind of had a pretty great reputation in Nashville as an incredible studio musician drummer and he had been out on the road with a lot of people in Nashville. And when I lived in Nashville I was pretty intimidated by all the success everyone else was having and I wasn’t. So, I never ever thought to approach Jake and be like, ‘Hey… should we play some music together?’ Because it just felt like a way different caliber. But we became friends (they met at the YMCA) and he lived in a house with four other guys (one of them being Les) so there were five guys in that house and it was fun to go over there and hangout. Or just run around Nashville, go get dinner and whatever. So, I think for the longest time it was just about being friends. It still is just about being friends but one day I found the balls to ask him if I could be in a band.

And what did you say?

JG: Oh, a thousand percent, yes.

What inspired the album? And the album title?

PK: Most of those songs were written and were on like previous releases. Basically, we started growing as a band and realized that, wow, we have like ten different releases on our Spotify and its kind of confusing. For a long time we were just putting out a song at a time. So, we decided to compile everything that we have into two EP’s. One was already existing called I Loved You and then the new EP which is called Make Out. It was a bunch of songs we had already written and recorded and released. We added one track called “Kiss” that serves as almost a hidden track. And we did a version of “ILYSB” stripped down. I just remember somebody saying to me, ‘You guys make make-out music.’  I thought that was the best thing ever. We had a few ideas for this but we settled on Make Out.

What has the been the biggest challenge for you guys as a band?

PK:  Just a lot to do. We are very hands on. So as things continue to take off and grow there’s more responsibility and there’s more things to do. We make all of our own graphics, we make all of our own music, write our songs, mix them, produce them. We do our best to write all the treatments for our music videos. We don’t outsource anything.

Are you going to continue to work out of a bedroom/home studio?

PK:  We moved to a little house out in Malibu for the time being to work on this record. We were living in a one bedroom apartment just the three of us. Obviously there’s no room for real drums or anything like that. So we got into a little house and Jake’s drums have been in the kitchen for about four months. We are expanding but just recently we did try to go to a little studio and it just didn’t work. We just have our system. We have the way we know how to make music.

lany3What is a hobby outside of music that rejuvenates your creativity and music?

JG: Movies. We love going to the movies together. We’re really inspired by that. We talk a lot about the movie ‘Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ just because, visually, the cinematography and the soundtrack are beautiful. Just really inspiring. I love going to the movies and taking away from movies.

Anything else?

PK: I like taking showers.

JG: I like to exercise and sometimes I get to run on the beach when we’re out in Malibu. That kind of stuff.

How did you end up doing shows with Troye Sivan?

PK: We are on the same management team but I don’t know when that happened. He came to our first show in Hollywood. He was there and we’ve just always stayed in touch. He even came to our apartment one afternoon and wrote a song with us. We love him so much. All of these shows with him have really been incredible.

How did you end up with Polydor Records?

PK: Polydor, it’s funny because when we put our first two songs on the internet, we did that in April 2014, within six days we got a first email from a record company and it was Polydor. However, they weren’t in the picture until later. There was a time when we were really trying to decide between a few different labels and at the very last second they came in and it just felt like the right fit. We flew over to London and we met this guy named Ferdy who runs everything over at Polydor. It just felt like where we should be. We love our entire team, they work incredibly hard for us. We’re super thankful.

Do you have any preshow rituals?

PK: We just say a little prayer before we go out. Team huddle.

Les, last night I saw after the very last song you closed your eyes and it seemed like you were kind of just meditating.

LP: I was probably just soaking in Paul’s awesome vocals.

JG: Yeah, it’s a heavy moment where he’s singing there at the end by himself.

LP: That’s cool because I didn’t even realize that. I was just feeling it I guess.

Can you each tell me three facts about yourselves that you feel the world should know?

PK: 1) I have a hard time going to sleep. 2) I love very sugary, girly coffee drinks. (Laughs) 3) Just got my third tattoo four days ago. It’s my handwriting. It says thanks in cursive—THX! We actually all got our own version of thanks. To remember to always be thankful and never become jaded and burnt out. You know what I mean? Just always approaching things with gratitude.

LP: 1) I’m left handed. 2) I’m from Missouri 3) I have five tattoos. Boom.

JG: 1) When I was born my name was Scott. So now it’s Jake. My parents changed their minds when I was 6 months old and decided to change it to Jake. 2) I’ve been married just over a month. 3) I did a marimba solo at church my senior year of high school and my fly was unzipped…and they had two screens. Whaddup.

lanyWhat would each of you say your spirit animal is and why?

PK: Can you define spirit animal?

What animal do you feel really resonates with your soul?

PK: Yeah! Maybe a black panther. Because they’re kind of rare I feel and they look great. I love that black fur.

LP: I’m going to go with the wolf just because you always think of the lone wolf, you know, kind of solitary. That’s kind of me.

JG: Oh gosh. Uh…um…I’m going to go with….this is tough man. I’m trying to think of an animal that is just tender and cozy. (Everyone laughs) I had a dog like that. A German shepherd. Her name was Amber, which, was hilarious. I’ll go with a German shepherd.

What is one of the funniest things that has happened to LANY thus far?

PK: Well Jake is really funny. So anything he does is really funny but… *pause for giggles* He did trip on stage a couple shows ago. I saw it and I acted like it wasn’t happening and I think we forgot to address it until like two days later.

JG: Yeah like right center stage I was the first one who was walking out. Tripped over a hard cord and just almost fell.

Did the crowd notice?

JG: Oh yeah. But I had my ears in and I didn’t look at anyone for the first thirty seconds. Because if I would have turned around Paul would have been dying and then I would have tripped into the crowd because I would have been crying laughing.

PK: Another story is, from still very early on I think we had played honestly less than 20 shows and we had this opportunity to play The Mayan in L.A. with a band called Milky Chance. It was sold out and they were going to let us open up for them and you know there were fourteen hundred people in that room, I mean we were stoked. But something happened with the sound board during sound check so we didn’t get a sound check. I think someone spilled ice on the main board. Milky Chance is German so their in-ear monitor guy is running sound for us like way behind us. So he’s running sound for a room and he can’t even – he can’t speak English. Nothing was working. It was hilarious. It was basically me singing a vocal solo for thirty minutes while Jake also had a drum solo. It was the worst night ever but now it’s funny. It was probably the most hilarious show we’ve ever played.

JG: On our first tour, you know some bands go out and they have crazy road stories because they’re just young and doing dumb stuff. It was our first tour together and I remember we were at a hotel and I think we turned into the wrong lot for a different hotel. And instead of going out into the road Paul was like, ‘Guys, let’s go over this curb.’ He was like ‘come on we got to make some memories!’ So, we drove over a curb ’cause we’re hard.

What’s up next for you guys? What’s your dream for LANY?

PK: We’re going on a.. *His eyes intently focus on a delicious plate of eggs* I’m going to go ahead and order that too. Scambled eggs and bacon. *He points to the salad portion of the plate* but I don’t need any of that green stuff. *Chuckles. Paul gets back to the interview* Sorry about that intermission.

We are going to do our first headline tour which is exciting. For the last year we’ve just been out supporting people. Which is awesome. We’ve loved it. It’s gotten us in front of a lot of really cool and different people. But yeah, we’re going on our first headline run in May and it’s exciting because things are selling out. LA sold out in three minutes which is nuts. I just think we have the best fans in the world. We used to go on tour and I would be like man, Halsey has the craziest fans ever! And look at Troy’s fans and they really do but a lot of them have become ours as well. I think that’s really been past down to us. We’ve always dreamt really big. I mean I say that I didn’t know if anyone would listen to us in the beginning but deep down in my heart I was hoping that we would one day sell out arenas. You know? So I think we really want to be a household name and we’re not interested in being indie or artsy or too cool for school. We want to make music that feels really, really good and resonates with a lot of people while staying true to our artistic convictions.

It’s safe to say that LANY is going nowhere but up and will be around for awhile. Make sure to check their site HERE to find out when they’re coming to a city near you. If you haven’t heard them yet, do your ears and soul a serious favor and check out their E.P’s Make Out and I Loved You below.   

February 8, 2016 10:55 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 20, 2016 11:06 am


Daniel Ellsworth and The Great Lakes are making strides.

Building off the success of their first two records, Civilized Man and Kid Tiger, the Nashville-based indie rock band is gearing up for a whirlwind of activity this spring. Front man and keyboardist Daniel Ellsworth sat down with us and gave us the scoop on their new single and music video, their imminent EP, the recording of their next album, and his new side project.


Daniel, Thank you very much for sitting down with me.

Yeah man, absolutely.

So we’ll start with two questions I like to ask everybody I interview. First, how’d you get your start playing music?

I started playing when I was young. Both my parents play guitar. I originally got into through the church with them, they both were involved. Then when was I was about eight I wanted to start taking piano lessons. I think I’m the only kid that wanted to do that—that wasn’t forced to start taking them.

Yeah I wanted to play drums, but my mom made me take piano.

Ok, yeah yeah! You get it. That was it, that was where I got my start. The church was a big part of it. I never really thought of it as “church” because my parents played music there. Church was more about music than a religious thing for me. So that was really the beginning. Everyone in my family is musical. My uncle is a blues pianist, I have cousins that are also doing music professionally and things like that. So it’s just in the family.

OK, so the second question is the one I like to think of as the tricky one. What is your goal with the music you play now? What are you trying to do or accomplish by playing music?

I think the goal is spend every day making the music that we want to make. I hope that we continue to make music that resonates with people, but as long as it’s resonating with us and we’re still getting to do it every day… that’s the goal. To keep that up.

So you’re from Minnesota, and the guys are from all over the Midwest.

Yep. A couple guys from Ohio. Our drummer is from Kansas.

What brought you guys together and then to Nashville? Or was it the other way around?

Well school brought the drummer and I here years ago, that’s where we met. We didn’t start playing music together until long after school, but that’s what brought us here. The other two guys we met just through mutual friends as they moved down here. Our guitarist was down here for one summer and the drummer and I played in sort of a pick-up band together. So we ended up grabbing him after he finished his PhD at Indiana.

A PhD in music?

It was in Ethnomusicology. Actually he just walked for that. He just finished his dissertation.

So let’s talk about your newest single, “Always/Never.” Tell me a little about the song.

Sure! It’s the first track from an EP that we’re putting out in March. We made the EP with the same guy we did our last record, Kid Tiger, with. It’s kind of a continuation of that. It was tracked the same way, it was recorded at the same place—all those things. So it feels like a natural extension [of our last record]. We wanted to release something—we’re heading back into the studio in a week, so we wanted to be rolling out an EP while we’re not on the road.

“Always/Never”—funny story with that song. We wrote that and tracked it for our first album, Civilzed Man, and it just wasn’t right. The arrangement didn’t fit and we were just sort of done with it. I thought “Well maybe we can use it for something, someday.” Then we were working stuff up and decided to totally erase everything we did and build it back up. So it’s kind of an old song, but new now.

You did an EP as opposed to an album because you felt it was an extension of Kid Tiger?

Yeah. We had some additional songs and it felt like we should do them with the same person, in the same studio.

And you felt they didn’t belong on a new album.

Yeah I think so. It’s this group of songs where they’re each kind of their own thing. They fit together, but it didn’t feel like something that was part of an album.

I want to ask about the “Always/Never” music video because it’s very fun.


What was the idea behind that? I watched a couple of your other videos and this one is much simpler, at least in concept.

Well, we did a two day video shoot, and ended up having to scrap it. Which happens sometimes. It was fine, we just decided it wasn’t the right thing for the song. We thought “Ok, we did this, and we spent this to do this thing, and now we’re left without a video… Do we need to have something by the time the song comes out?” We decided we wanted to and I just had this idea… I’ve always wanted incorporate animal masks into a video, because they’re always funny to me. It’s just always funny. So I said “Alright guys, just hear me out. Let’s try this. It might not work, but it’s gonna be easy.” And we could do it with like no budget, just do it on a phone. So that’s really what it came from. We did something like six takes. Someday I want to put out all the different ones, the video we put out is the one that’s the most… together. Uhhh… so you can imagine what the other ones are like. [laughs]

So there are five people that are in the video, as opposed to the four people that are typically in the band. Is that like a big secret?

It’s funny, I didn’t think about that at all. There’s actually only… maybe I’m giving away the secret here, but it’s an unintentional secret. There’s actually only three band members in the video. Our bass player lives in Ohio. He was down for the other shoot, but he couldn’t get down for this one—it was very last minute. It was like “Hey what’s everyone doing tonight, let’s go do this.” So for us, it was fine if it was two people, or three people, or eight people. We just decided to see who was around, and watch them do something.  It ended up just being two other friends of ours, and we didn’t think anything of it. But everyone just assumed it was the four band members and then was like “Who the fuck was the zebra!?”

It’s really a fun video. Seems like it was a lot of fun to make.

Yeah we just drank a bunch of whiskey and started filming.

Did you choreograph beforehand? Or just come up with it on the spot?

Yeah, I… I said… the chorus…. I’ll say it—I choreographed the chorus. I’ve never said that phrase before for anything! And then for the verse when every animal comes in I just said “Pick one dance move that inspires you, and do that the whole time. Don’t change it.” [laughs].

It does give a kind of surreal effect to it. They just keep going, and another comes up, and they just keep going…

[laughs] Yeah and then the end is a bit of release.

How is it playing with a bass player that lives in Ohio?

It’s good. It’s not too far. There are bands where people have much further commutes. He’s really good about getting down here pretty often. He meets us on the road, but he’s down here for writing and rehearsals and things like that.

So the EP comes out in March?

Yeah, March 11th.

Are you going to have more singles out before then?

Our second single will come out Feburary 12th. I think it’s a Friday…. [It is].

Are you doing a release show?

Yeah, March 13th at 3rd and Lindlsey. It’s the Lightning 100 Sunday Night, live-on-the-radio thing. And then we’re headed to SxSW straight from the show.

You also have a show coming up here in town on January 27th at The Basement East. Anything special about that?

Well everyone in the band is now working with BMI, who is putting on the show. It used to be two of us were with ASCAP, but now we’re all with BMI. Then there’s also the radio station Alt 98.3, the other sponsor for the show. They’ve been playing our song in heavy rotation, so that’s been great. It just worked out! BMI just asked if we wanted to play, and our bass player was scheduled to be in town for recording, so it just worked. We’re stoked about it.

So are there thoughts or plans for this next album? Any sort of new direction you’re going in?

Not really. For the past year or so when The Great Lakes haven’t been on the road I’ve been working on a side project with a guy named Kyle Andrews. He’s sort-of an electronic-alt-indie-pop guy. Artist and producer. I approached him with some songs that I’ve had that definitely weren’t for a four piece rock band. We’ve wanted to collaborate for some time, so we just tested the waters a bit to see what happened, acnd it went really well, it was a lot of fun. So about a year later now we’ve got a full record.

What’s that band called?

It’s called Chaos Emeralds. It’s cool. The first track we’ll be releasing later this month or February sometime. We’re playing our first show this month too, the 23rd at The High Watt [opening for Tanlines]. It’s been a lot of fun—doing something totally different. An electronic thing way out the realm of the four piece rock band. Kyle and I have worked really well together, and he brings really interesting perspective and sounds to songs. So The Great Lakes are going to go in with him at the producer wheel. He’s got a brand new studio that he just built, so we’re going in with him at the end of this month to try it out and see what happens. I’m really excited about it—to bring his take to more of a rock band setting.

Sounds very cool.

Yeah we’re looking forward to it for sure.

January 15, 2016 9:16 pm

Chalaxy just came out with a new album, and to celebrate, they threw together a stellar night of local music. The electronic-psychedelic-dance-rock band were joined at Nashville’s Basement East by three acts: Dead Cures, Lauren Strange and The Pretty Killers, and Justin Kalk. The evening rounded out into a great blend of sights and sounds, so let’s dig in.


Kicking the show of was Dead Cures. The brand-new alt-pop trio released their first single “Say Everything Now” on October 2nd, and they have yet to release a second… but you can get away with that when your single is freaking AWESOME. Thankfully, their performance lived up to my high expectations. Strokesian guitar riffs from Michael Kisak and slick drum fills from Evan Buchanan supported Sharon Koltick as she grooved on bass and sang with both sweetness and intensity (not the easiest combo to pull off). The group showed a nice chemistry on stage, especially considering their relative novelty, and the smiles on their faces were contagious. I look forward to future bad-assery from them.


Up next was another trio, Lauren Strange and The Pretty Killers. Grand-Prize Winner of the John Lennon International Songwriting Contest, Lauren Strange pours herself into a noble, dying art – 90’s grunge pop-rock. Her single Say Yescertainly brings Alanis Morissette to mind (and if you think that’s a bad thing you should probably listen to You Oughta Know right now). Strange is powerful on stage, both vocally and on guitar. She’s backed up on bass by icy-cool Lauren Sauer (pronounced “sour.” Yes, those are their real names. Yes, that is awesome) and the animated Adam Reszenski on drums. If you’ve been stuck listening to early Veruca Salt, keep an eye out for her debut album, which should be coming soon.


Then came the main event – Chalaxy. As the Pretty Killers cleared the stage a flurry of activity spurred onto it. Colorful set pieces were thrown about as Chalaxy jammed The Basement East’s large stage with enough stuff to make their 5 piece band look like 7 people. The house lights dimmed and the projectors came on, throwing acidy swirls of neon around the room. The band hit the stage and started pumping pure energy into the room. Guitars were shredded. Drums were pounded. Hair. Was. Flipped. Chalaxy’s blend of genres combines some of the most potent musical elements from the past four or five decades. Tastes of psychedelic, prog, metal, Latin, dance, house, electronic, and good ol’ rock n’ roll are tied together by the band’s technical skill and strong songwriting. Their sound is huge, and they manage to work in a surprising amount of variance while never losing what makes them unique. Front-man Taylor Cole slithered around the stage with a blacked gaze, engaging the crowd and his band mates. He’s a dynamic performer who really shows that he belongs on stage. While it would be nigh-impossible to capture their live energy on a record, Pronia comes pretty close. Parts like the jungle-drum breakdown on “HeadHunters” don’t hit with the same force that they do live, but the record absolutely showcases the band’s breadth and talent.

Closing out the night was electric blues shredder Justin Kalk. Supported by a couple heavy hitters – Steo Britton on bass and Jeremy Williams on drums – Kalk proved that blues guitar rock is not dead. His massive amp stack blasted adroit guitar licks right to the back of the room as he stomped, twisted, and thrashed about the stage. While it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, those that want see someone seriously rip on a guitar are in for a treat.

January 6, 2016 3:44 pm

When Andres Gaos moved from Seattle to Nashville, he brought his “Shimmery Indie Pop” with him. If you want proof, just listen to Kaptan’s five song EP, Sprinter.

If there is one thing Kaptan has done perfectly, it’s their genre declaration. The EP really shimmers all the way through. While it is certainly not dull, it also doesn’t really shine.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. Kaptan is at its best when it’s shimmery sound lands somewhere in between. Take the first track, “Way Out.” It starts with a bouncy guitar riff and tacky percussion. Enter the bright synths. What could lead into an overdone, The 1975-esque (you can see how I feel about their new stuff here…) verse, instead offers a pleasant male-female vocal duo. This keeps the song from getting overblown—the energy of the band keeps us bouncing forward, while the vocals let us lay back in the grass on a sunny day.

This juxtaposition is best exemplified on the third song, “Everything.” Again, the energy and brightness of the synths and the guitars keep the song going in a positive direction. When Gaos comes in to the chorus singing calmly “Everything is all right,” you believe him. How could everything not be all right when this music is so pleasant and he is obviously sure that that it will be?

Unfortunately, two of the other three songs sound pretty much just like those two I mentioned, except they are not as successful. For Kaptan’s formula to work, each ingredient needs to be perfectly measured. “Anywhere We Go” comes in a bit over-spiced, and “Let Go” a bit bland. The EP ends on an outlier, “Closer Now.” The first time I heard it I assumed Spotify had started playing a remix of one of their songs. The half-time electro R&B jam feels like it’s out of Kaptan’s wheelhouse. Like trying to use the ingredients of one recipe to make a completely different dish.

Sprinter by Kaptan shows some serious promise. Gaos certainly has an ear for catchy pop melodies. The trick will be figuring out how to make Kaptan’s songs stand apart without getting repetitive.

Frank Turner
December 16, 2015 10:34 am

He used to scream when he sang. He still does sometimes, but only on the side.

For the past ten years he’s been singer-songwritering. But just because there’s a melody, it doesn’t mean Frank Turner doesn’t want you yelling along. Quite the opposite. His new album Positive Songs for Negative People shows Turner’s hardcore roots creeping back out from underneath his folk growth.

He keeps a mental tally of every show he’s played since he started his solo career.

Turner came through Nashville last week. He played to a sold out crowd at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville, Tennessee. I got to talk to him before he took the stage and notched one more tally in his mental bedpost.


So which number show with this be tonight?

Tonight is show number 1,800 on the nose. I have an in-store this afternoon at Grimey’s Records and that’ll be 1’799.

How’d you get your start playing music?

Rock n’ roll wasn’t really a part of my life growing up because my parents didn’t believe in it. Then I just sort of stumbled across it when I was about ten. And just straight away wanted to be involved…which I think is kind of a personality thing to a degree as well. It felt like something that I wanted to try my hand at. And my parents got me one of those 60 buck Strat-copy starter packs, comes with a little amp, from like a department store for Christmas. My next door neighbor got a drum kit and we played together. And that was twenty-fuckin-three years ago… Jesus Christ. Long time ago.

What is your goal with the music you make? What are you trying to accomplish with your songs?

Well you can answer that question on a lot of different levels – which is, I suppose, why you ask it. Well, you know, I’m trying to make a living. That’s the most mundane level. But I’m mean I’m trying to create art that I think is worthwhile. And I’m trying to express myself. And most of what I do falls somewhere between those two poles.

I saw a quote from you that pointed to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska as an inspiration in your shift from hardcore music to what you do now.

Yeah, it’s funny that piece of information has… it’s not that you’re wrong, it’s just that [that bit of info] has slightly assumed a life of its own. Basically there was a period in my life, because I grew up listening to metal and punk and hardcore, where I didn’t have anyone guiding me through the history of popular music. So I knew everything there was to know about Agnostic Front before I’d ever heard a Bob Dylan record. Nebraska was a moment for me, but it was really a whole series of records. The American Recording Series by Johnny Cash was probably more important. It was that idea of being able to create meaningful and, I suppose, heavy and intense art, that didn’t involve taking your shirt off and screaming.

Yeah I figured it couldn’t have been as simple as just Bruce.

Yeah, the other thing that is worth mentioning is that Springsteen is obviously very famous in the UK, but he’s not quite as culturally ubiquitous [as in the US]. So as far as I knew growing up, Springsteen was Born in the U.S.Aand that was it. That’s all I knew. And I’m still not an enormous fan of that song. And particularly if you’re listening to Minor Threat. That song did my fuckin head in. So a big part of the Nebraska thing was just finding out that he had that kind of depth as an artist. It was news to me.

So your music sits somewhere on the spectrum between the folk-acoustic world you’ve entered into and the hardcore-punk world you came from. And over these past ten years, you’ve been everywhere on that spectrum, back-and-forth. Do you ever find there is a tension between a direction you want to go, and another one you feel like you should go?

I don’t really do “shoulds” for reasons other than my own desire, really. It’s funny, because I think you’re right with the punk and folk thing. Folk-punk gets thrown at me quite a lot. Which is fine, I think it’s a reasonably accurate description. And that’s all good. But the there’s a big part of me, the older I get, the more I want to use the words rock ‘n roll to describe what I do. Simply because stylistically and structurally it’s guitar, bass, drums, and piano. It’s three and a half minute long songs. And it’s not enormously different from Sun Studios and Elvis Presley. There’s an expansiveness to what you can do as a Rock n’ Roller that I think is really cool.

I’d say your new record is maybe the easiest to categorize as just Rock n’ Roll.

It’s definitely the rock end of my spectrum.

So let’s talk about the new record. It’s a little over ten years now you’ve been doing the solo thing…

Yeah… [Nervously groans]… [Laughs]

And it appears to me that you’ve had a pretty steady climb. Which these days is almost unusual. These days a lot of people explode over-night. It seems with you, each year I hear about you just little bit more.

Certainly it’s been a bit unusual on that level. I feel very fortunate that I’m not one of those bands that gets one song and then just goes *bleh.*  A few bands have that happen to them and then they have more to say and more to give and the rest of it. But that’s pretty often the death knell of a band. And certainly we have a world where the music industry is very much predicated on immediate success. And I haven’t had that. I don’t really fit into a lot of people’s boxes. Which occasionally can work against me. Even now some of the labels… some of them don’t quite know what to do with me. But taking the long view on it, I think it works in my favor. I just don’t really fit into that many neat categories, which is a good thing I think.

There’s an unfortunate tendency with bands where the further they get from their roots, the less connected and emotional their music becomes. That is something I do not think at all about your new record. If anything I think the emotional feel and intensity is there more than ever.

Thank you.

How do you personally try to maintain that integrity or feeling throughout your career?

Well there’s so many things to say. Certainly when we were making the previous record, Tape Deck Heart, I definitely had that feeling that a lot of bands stop meaning what they say, or become more sweeping in their tone, in a way that is slightly obnoxious. Tape Deck Heart was an attempt to do the exact opposite of that, and to try and write the most experientially personal record that I could at that time. It seemed kind of perverse and interesting to me. To, at the moment when I should probably start writing concept albums about the feature, to actually write the most gut-stabbingly personal thing I could. But, there’s a real tension with me. It’s funny you mentioned the word roots, because I’ve been thinking about this a lot with the new record. On the one hand I feel extremely strongly and adamant that it is the duty of an artist to change. The idea that an artist should be linked somehow constantly forever-anchored to what it was when they first started out is bullshit. I don’t want to make the art I would have made when I was twenty three for the rest of my life, that’s ridiculous. And plus I’ve already made it! I was making art then and it exists. That’s the other thing I want to say to people. There are occasions where people will say to me, sort of accusatorily “well I prefer your earlier records.”  If I’m making a record that some people aren’t enjoying, that’s a bummer on some level. But it’s not like I’ve gone round to people’s houses and removed various records from their collection. [in a stern voice] “You can no longer listen to this one!”

That’s especially true coming from the punk and hardcore world where people can really take offense to change.

Yeah, it’s funny, because this new record is in some ways more “rootsy” for me, in that it’s more punk than anything I’ve really done in my solo career. But that’s not how my solo career started, it was me trying to get away from that, in a way. The thing is though, I’m totally fine having all these conversations. I think they’re good and well and interesting. But when I’m creating, when I’m writing, I think it’s really important not to have these conversations. I think one of the reasons a lot of bands disappear up their own ass, or lose their spark, is because they get used to being judged in the court of music criticism, and they become music critics before they’re musicians. And if you’re sitting there trying to figure out what Rolling Stone is going say about your songs before you’ve even fucking written them, or let alone recorded them, then of course you’re going to make bad art. So when it’s time for me to create, I think it’s really important to not think about any of that shit. It’s good not to think about how what I do relates to my roots or not.

You have a quote about working with Butch Walker, who produced your new album, saying you wish you had found him ten years ago. What is it that separates him from other producers you’ve worked with?

[Laughs] Well the first thing is that is a statement I slightly regret making. As I realized after making it, there’s a slightly implied dis to some of the other producers I’ve worked with, which was not my intention at all. I also think that counter-factuality about your own life is really boring. You know, “What would have happened if I’d done this album with guy.” Just fucking get on with your life, you know?

Having said all that, the thing is Butch is just an immensely talented producer. Also, I think that he and I have a lot in common as songwriters, and as performers, as well just a producer-artist kind of thing. With Positive Songs I had this idea about how I wanted to make the record, and I just couldn’t find anyone that I felt really grasped what I was saying on a level that would make it work. Of course when you have a conversation with a producer who the label is putting up, they’re going to tell you that they understand exactly what you mean and exactly what you’re driving at. But with all of them I was like “No you fucking don’t, shut up.” Whereas with Butch the minute we started talking about it, it was just like “Yeah?” “Yeah!” You know one of those conversations where you agree on everything for a long period of time. I really feel like he understands what I’m trying to do. In part, because it’s not a million miles away from what he’s trying to do.


Listening to the record, it gets to “Silent Key,” and all of a sudden it’s this stunning female vocal. It’s placement on the record is a sort of shock of fresh air through the headphones. Can you tell me a little bit more about it?

Well firstly I will join you in the celebrating the joy that is Esme Patterson, who sang that vocal part. She’s incredible. I knew I wanted to have a guest vocal part, I knew I wanted it to be a woman. I also wanted it to be an American, because she’s playing Christa McAuliffe, so it seemed respectful to try to get someone from the same country. So we kind of ran through a list of people, and the label was trying to get me to get someone with a “name” on the record. Which… I don’t want to be overly punk about this—that would be cool on some levels. But it didn’t come together.

So, Esme is signed with Extra Mile Recordings, the label that I work with in the UK. We’d done some shows together. At this point, we’d actually finished recording the record, we’d done everything apart from that vocal part. And it was starting to become a bit of an issue, logistically speaking. And I did a couple of shows with her in January and the minute she started singing it was like “Duh! This is the person who is supposed to do this. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that before.” It was fantastic. I taught her the part, took her down to the studio and she cut it in two takes.

It really is great. She has a blending voice with yours, but it’s also totally different.  And it’s so clear…

Exactly! It sounds like a fucking chiming bell! I love it. It just cuts through. And it’s effortless. The way she kind of slides into that first note… just uhh [fawns].

So I’d like to talk about your unreleased/B-sides recordings, The First Three Years, The Second Three Years, and those things. Why do you end up with so many unused recordings? And why then release them?

I dunno, I think most bands have a lot of material hanging around, and they choose to stockpile it, or not release it or whatever. It’s not that I have low-standards, per-say. I was recording yesterday, here in Nashville, just doing B-sides. I want my recordings to have a degree of verity to them. I’m not the best singer in the world, I’m not the best guitar player. We could do 400 takes and keep going until I get it absolutely 100% perfect, and there have been occasions when I’ve done that on records. But there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to do that. That doesn’t sound like me. It’s dishonest to a degree, you know? I’d like to think that as a performer and as a musician I have dirt under my fingernails. I guess what I’m getting at is I don’t mind knocking out a version and putting it out there, that’s cool with me.

So will you actually go into the studio to record B-Side tracks?

Sometimes, yeah. But sometimes it’s just the stuff hanging around. Another thing to mention is, I remember reading something years ago in an interview with Evan Dando, who is somebody I’m a huge fan of. He pointed out the word singer-songwriter (if that is the label that I have to bear in life, which apparently it is. It’s fine, it just makes me think of Jack Johnson, which makes me want to cut my own head off. But then again Neil Young is a singer-songwriter, and he’s punk as fuck. Anyway…). Singer-songwriter is a combination of two words. You can be a singer, you don’t necessarily have to write the songs.  I think interpretation is a really undervalued art. I spend a lot of time playing other people’s songs; that’s how I learned to play music, that’s how I learned to write songs. All the time I’m learning other bits and bobs. I mean yesterday I knocked down an Elvis cover and there’s a British Musical act called Flanders and Swann from the 40’s and 50’s. I knocked out a cover of theirs as well.

Which Elvis tune did you do?

Don’t Be Cruel.” But I’ve got a kind of weird plan for that one, so I’m not going to talk about it yet, because it’s controversial. The actual Three Years records that we had… the first one we did was because when you’re starting out you end up with a bunch of weird songs on weird compilations, and EPs and B-Sides or splits or whatever. And I thought, once all those original pressings are sold out, rather than Extra Mile or whoever having to constantly re-press all that stuff, let’s make it easier for people to get ahold of stuff. And then it just snowballed. Having said that, we just did The First Ten Years as a vinyl box set, which was a really fantastic thing to do, and hold as a physical product. At the same time, I’m not that interested in repetition, and there’s a part of me that thinks this might be an opportunity to get off that train. [Laughs]. I don’t know, maybe not. We’ll see.

So there’s a lot of bands that lean towards either being studio band or a live show band. You have this huge discography for just ten years, but on the other hand, you’ve won things like the AIM Best Live Act Award. It really seems like you are actively and excitedly living in both worlds.

I would say I pursue the live side of it with considerably more excitement. The studio is not my favorite place in the world. For a lot reasons. Part of me feels that there’s something slightly artificial about recording. Without being too melodramatic, it’s like pinning butterflies down in a photograph album. Songs continue to grow and live. Take a song like “Photosynthesis” off the second record we did. We’ve played that song every fucking day since we put the record out, and the way we play it now… I mean the structure of the song is the same, but the nuance and feel and the arrangement has mutated to the point where occasionally I’ll catch a brief snippet of the original recording and I kind of go “Fuck me, is that how people hear that song?”  The thing about playing live, and this is the thing that makes touring such an appealing way of life, is that every night is a chance to do it again. You get another go at playing the song the way it’s supposed to be. Whereas that recording that I made in 2007 or whatever it was… It’s still fucking there. [Laughs] On CD’s and iTunes accounts around the world. That constant ability to reinvent is really important to me.

I found another quote from you from the midst of your first big arena tour. You said “Life should never be lived in your comfort zone.” How are you pushing yourself out of your comfort zone now? How do you plan on doing that in days to come?

Well I stand by that comment strongly, but at the same time there’s a part of me that is very proud of the idea of continuing to do what I do, and the way that I do it, for a long time. And the more I do it, there are people who started touring with me who have gone off and done other stuff. And there’s part of me that wants to be the lifer, and go “Fuck you short timers! I wasn’t kidding!” I want to still be playing Nottingham Rock City when I’m in my 60’s. This is my world, it’s my craft, it’s the thing I know how to do. It’s the universe I want to exist in. I’ve spent a majority of my life on tour buses and in dressing rooms and I’m fine with that. That’s ok. Creatively though I’m in the middle of deciding quite how extreme I’m going to be as far as going outside of my comfort zone on the next thing I do. Because there’s part of me that wants to completely ditch everything now and do something completely different. It should be noted that this will be after this album’s cycle of touring is done, which is still a year and a half away. But there’s a part of me that wants to fuck everything off and make a soul album or a bluegrass record or something. I don’t want to repeat myself. I don’t want people to go “Oh yeah, I know what that Frank Turner guy sounds like. I don’t need to get his next record.” I want to do something weird. We’ll see, I might retract all of this.


Photo by Atticus Swartwood

One thing that can unequivocally be said – Frank Turner has a comfort zone, and it is on stage. He took the stage with a confidence and comfortability that can only be earned over ten years and 1,799 performances. It was a full fifteen minutes of music before he stopped to say a word, and when he did he only added to the energy in the room. One would not be remiss in comparing him to a certain Boss (perhaps that’s why that quote is so popular…).

It is also clear that Turner benefited from his time in the hardcore scene. The stage presence of his band was fueled by the energy they all brought to the stage. On top of Turner’s songs having inlaid energy, the band brought even more to the performances.

But perhaps the clearest indicator of Frank Turner’s skill as a musician and performer is the audience. 3rd and Lindsley could not have held more people. And they were not just young rockers looking to get fired up. They were there, but those people’s parents were also there, dancing their asses off. And their kids. Not a song was played where there wasn’t at least one person singing along to every word. Many of the songs had huge groups of the crowd throwing fists in the air and belting. There is something in his music that just makes you want to do that.

Based on the size of the room and the statistics that exist in my head, there must have been someone jumping up and down on artificial hips.

But there was also a girl in the front row. I could see her from the balcony. She couldn’t have been older than 10 or 11. When Frank Turner walked on stage her eyes lit up like a Disney character. She clapped and cheered. She belted out choruses. She giggled when he said fuck. The look of happiness and wonder on her face was totally complete, and did not fade. Rather, it grew with each song. That girl had a better time than I think I’ve ever had doing anything.

If there is any truer measure of success in music than bringing people such pure delight, I don’t know what it could be.

December 2, 2015 8:44 am

2015 is coming to a close, and another fantastic year of independent music-making is in the books. So what were some of the Beasts favorite things to have come out of it? Well, one thing for sure has been Nashville’s powerfully potent alternative rock band Bully. Though Bully formed in 2013, their first major release Feels Like was released through Startime just last june. Their music packs a punch to all the repressed heartbreak and forgotten angst in your gut, and twists it into a sort of nostalgic defeat.

Bully is the creative Brainchild of Minnesota native and studio queen Alicia Bognanno. Bognanno followed her heart to Middle Tennessee, where she spent her undergrad years studying audio engineering, despite her never having played an instrument. After college and a successful bout in renowned Pixies producer Steve Albini’s studio, Bognanno polished her skills and set out to Nashville, Tennessee. In 2013 she recruited guitarist Clayton Parker, bassist Reece Lazarus and drummer Stewart Copeland (yes, like The Police!) and so began Bully.

Their music is a raw collection of emotion. You can hear the struggle and passion for life in the at times scratchy yelling of Bognannos voice. The 25 year old has somehow found a way to recollect and include the entire spectrum of pain, joy and uncertainty that early adulthood throws at you. “I remember, I remember my old habits, I remember getting too fucked up, and I remember throwing up in your car/ And I remember, I remember showing up at your house, and I remember hurting so bad, and I remember the way your sheets smelt.”

Bully was given full creative control by Startime, under the umbrella of Columbia Records, which is partly why they decided to sign with the label. Feels Like was written, produced and engineered by Bognanno, and offers the listener a sonically candid image of what goes on inside her head and heart. It keeps a purist punk vibe, with a sensible amount of reverb, and buried but punchy drums. The album is an obvious result of passion and commitment, tempered with an impeccable taste for real.

The band is currently on tour in Australia and is booked through May, so they are definitely putting in their share of work. The BEASTS hope to hear much more coming out of Nashville in the following years, as something this genuine can only get better with time.

Make sure to tune into Bully’s new album, and catch them live in a town near you. You can find all their tour dates here.