new EP

ROZES: THE GIRL BEHIND THE CHAINSMOKERS’ HIT
April 12, 2016 1:31 pm

We sat down with Rozes on a couch studded with roses (unintended) at SXSW to learn more about the girl behind The Chainsmokers‘ mega-hit called…yup “Roses.”

The song rose to #6 on the Billboard charts, is a favorite of Justin Bieb‘s, and has become a radio hit, however for Rozes herself, finding so much success in the electronic scene was completely unexpected…

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So this is your first time at SXSW!

Yes, it’s very exciting. We drove from Philly tailing my brother’s band down and I drove with my drummer and my boyfriend.

Oh cool so you have a pretty musical family?  

Yeah we’re like the Partridge family.[Laughs] Well my parents actually work in the medical industry but my dad also teaches guitar lessons and everybody in my family plays at least two instruments so music has like always been our thing.

How many instruments do you play?

Well I started on piano, then I went to violin, then saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, guitar…

Wow quite the variety.

I know, I was in a jazz band too.

So how did you end up in the electronic scene?

I never planned to go the EDM route. It just kind of fell into my lap. My brothers were hit up by this DJ, Just A Gentand they were writing toplines and were like ‘hey you know we have a sister who writes music.’ So they sent them to me and then I just wrote this song called “Limelight” which went huge in the EDM world. Then The Chainsmokers found it and so literally what happened was they followed me and messaged me on Twitter that they wanted to work me. So I was just kind of like pushed toward that path, it just kind of happened.

Rozes_Polaroid_SXSWEverything happened so fast. 

Yeah it’s kind of like we never expected it because when we wrote it we were just like oh this is a cool jam. We didn’t think anything of it we definitely did not think radio, I didn’t think radio, I mean I would have never thought that that’s what was gonna happen, like I was gonna get signed or anything. It’s crazy.

Are you comfortable playing live?

Yeah I am, I’m so comfortable actually. Well, I’ve also grown up in theatre so it’s kind of been my home you know. I was the theatre geek that always felt most comfortable when I could throw life aside and put on my alter ego and just be.

Do you have any pre-show rituals you do before you go on stage?

A glass of wine and I put on my crown and my lipstick.

What is your writing process like?

I write all the songs, but I have a producer who I’ll send all of my songs over roughly on piano or guitar and be like ‘here this is kind of what I want to be like’ and they help build it up from there. I recorded the EP (Burn Wild) in a studio in Delaware with my brother’s guitarist, he goes by ETRON. Now when I go to LA I’ll have different producers and we’ll have writing sessions and record in their studios.

What has the music you’ve been writing lately been about?

I would say they’re kind of about how life is changing for me at the moment and it’s like trying to figure out who is real and who is not because I have a lot of people coming out of the woodwork pretending to be my best friend and wanting to catch up and stuff and it’s me trying to file through who’s actually being genuine or not. It’s also about me coping with the fact that people are going to come out just because I have a hit on the radio not because they want to be friends with me and it’s kind of a rough realization but it’s something that has obviously happened.

The personal experience of a sudden rise to fame has sort of become cliche but I still always find myself thinking about what it must be like for people like, say, Justin Bieber. What has it been like for you?

I’ve actually thought about that because I met Bieber when he came to my show with The Chainsmokers at the Shrine Theatre in LA. He’s such a super nice kid and I just wonder if sometimes he feels like are these people just my friends because I’m Justin Bieber, is anyone a real friend? Nobody is prepared for that life. He’s a kid in his twenties and he’s in the public eye all the time, he’s grown up in it. If people had followed me growing up they would definitely be saying “this girl is crazy.” Britney Spears went through it, Lindsay Lohan went through it. I think it’s good that it’s just happening now for me because I got to see life before it all and so I can stay level headed and I’ve got my people that I trust.

That’s so awesome he came to your show I heard he’s a huge fan of the song “Roses!” Has it opened up a lot of other crazy opportunities for you?

Yeah. It’s definitely like having a resume. Like people see your credentials and they are like ‘oh yeah I’ll write with her’ you know. It kind of sucks that it’s that way because people who don’t have that on their resume its just like ‘oh why should I write with that person’ but they could be an amazing writer. You just have to somehow get lucky and get your foot in the door. It’s not really like having a lot of connections, like a lot of people think it is, but mostly you have to make the way yourself.

So do you think you’re going to stay in the EDM route?

No. I definitely plan to get out of the EDM route. It’s just not really my scene. I keep ending up getting featured on tracks because in my free time I’ll just write to music and it’s just kind of how it goes. I think if I were to do another EDM feature it would have to be something different that allows me to keep growing with it.

Have you been writing since a very young age?

Yeah, I think I wrote my first real song in eighth grade.

Awe, do you remember it? What was it about? 

Oh yeah, I remember it. It was like I had been dating this guy, and you know how middle school relationships are you think you’re so in love like “we’re gonna get married!” But it was actually just a horrible relationship and I couldn’t figure out how to get out of it because I had never had a breakup before. So I just wrote a song called “I’ve Come A Long Way” all about realizing how he’s not good for me.

So that was your first real song. Do you find that you get inspired or tend to write about things you are going through?

Oh yeah totally. I’ll feel something and be like I just need to sit down at the piano. People always ask me “what’s the first thing you’ll do when you get home?” and I’m like honestly I’ll probably just sit down at the piano and write. It’s my hobby and my job, and it’s the best thing ever.

Is it harder to write about other people or even yourself knowing now that so many people are going to hear it and listen to it?

I don’t think so. It’s kind of therapeutic for me. It’s like someone accidentally finding my journal. It’s like being able to tell my secrets in a honest creative way and not being judged for it.

What’s next for Rozes?

I think I just want people to be prepared for something different and I don’t want them to expect anything of me, but I also want them to be ready for something that they’ll love, you know. Because what I’m coming out with is so honest and I always say I’m going to always write what’s true.  Whether it’s about somebody else and so hard core true they have to know it’s about them or whether it’s about myself. There’s this new song I wrote called “Under the Grave” that’s actually about myself. So it’s like I’m not even written off you know, I’ll write about myself good or bad too.

Rozes released a new EP Burn Wild in February and is currently working on finalizing her next release.  

ALL HAIL YVETTE
March 23, 2016 3:01 pm

With an identity built on churns, siren blasts, and all types of distorted chaos, Yvette proves to be the band most fitting for your soundtracking of dystopia. Seriously, if there ever comes a time when a tank routinely rounds your block, start playing “Cuts Me In Half.”  The situation will be a lot more manageable, because your oppressors won’t really seem too bad when you’re humming along to a decent tune.

The type of desolation created in each one of Yvette’s songs further signifies the warpath friendliness. On their debut album Process, each strum of the guitar hits as hard as a flurry of gut punches. The droning screeches of “Carbon Copy” and “Attrition” are reminiscent of the No Wave movement, but with more fully fleshed out approach. There are guitar effects similar to Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, but they put it in the context of a truly cohesive song. And all the chaos somehow fits perfectly. Yvette is raw aggression with a brain.

For their follow-up, Yvette released Time Management last year, a four song EP that capitalized on such brevity by overwhelming with power in each song. They were able to keep their grating style while also incorporating a quicker pace. “Rotten Animals” is the clearest example of this, as the drums go double time while complementing the usual abrasive guitar hiss.

“Calm and Content” encapsulates the best trait Yvette has as a band. Because while all the instrumental madness happens all around him, guitarist/vocalist Noah Kardos Fein’s voice seldom strains. Therein lies the brain to help steer the aggression. It’s a constant throughout the band’s catalogue. And incorporating that to the newfound uptempo style is what made Time Management easily the best EP of 2015, and one of the more memorable EPs of the past decade.

With such a wide array of different sonic blasts, it’s hard to believe that Yvette is just a two piece band, but guitarist/vocalist Noah Kardos-Fein and drummer Dale Eisinger have proven to be quite industrious. They maximize every nook and cranny and have created a beautiful mess of noise with Yvette. One song of theirs encapsulates the destitute nature of a failed future better than the entire series of that stupid, stupid Divergent movie franchise. So allow these Noise Rock oligarchs to take over, once and for all. All hail Yvette.

THE GLORY OF GOOD MORNING
November 29, 2015 11:28 pm

Melbourne band Good Morning has returned to Australia after 11 performances at their first CMJ and positive reviews from publications including Spin and NME. ATYPICAL SOUNDS had the pleasure of welcoming them to New York during that time, and you can read our interview with them here.

Now, the band is settling back in at home, and getting ready to release their Glory EP in February 2016. We were given a sneak preview of the album, and will do our best to convey its sound to you. It’ll be like you’re right here with us.

The album opens with “Overslept”, a lo-fi track that makes you feel like a pack of crayons on a hot radiator. Singer Stefan Blair certainly sounds sleepy in his delivery of the lyrics, “I overslept today/ What in the world/ What in the world/ What in the world should I say?” It’s the type of song that makes you want to stay in bed a little while longer while listening.

The EP gives the impression of following Blair and bandmate Liam Parsons through a lazy day during a hot, Australian summer. The timing of the release will be great for the band’s fans at home, since February falls during summertime in the southern hemisphere. For the rest of their fans, who will inevitably be freezing their asses off during this time, the album sounds like a chilled-out vacation in a much warmer climate.

“Cab Deg” is the band’s first single to be released from the EP. It’s the most “indie” album on the track, featuring extended vocal harmonies and a poppier sound. However, Blair and Parsons quickly bring the listener back down to reality during “To Be Won”. Played predominantly on acoustic guitar, it can be a challenge to decipher Blair’s softly-sung vocals, leaving the track up to interpretation over whether the song is sad or tastefully subdued. Either way it’s beautiful, making “To Be Won” the second single due to be released from the EP.

Between the first 3 and last 3 songs, the sound changes, like the guys have had some coffee. Overall, there’s less distortion and these tracks sound cleaner and more produced than the previous ones; “Give Me Something To Do” features some fancy saxophone but maintains the vocal harmonies of “Cab Deg”. However, the track goes in a new direction with spoken lyrics towards the end of the song that sound like they could be the slightest bit influenced by Lou Reed’s Street Hassle.

“The Great Start”, the penultimate track, carries through the psychedelic feel of the EP, but adds an airier, more atmospheric sound that blends well with Blair’s sleepy vocal style. By the time “In The Way” begins to play, I can’t imagine the listener is anything but blissed out, and this track prolongs that feeling all the way to the end of the EP. “I’m so sorry/ I get caught up…” is repeated through the track, but it’s never quite clear what Blair and Parsons are apologizing for. It doesn’t matter; it’s another beautiful song on the EP. Finally, it dissolves into a swirling puddle of sound before picking up and giving us one more “I’m so sorry…” and gently letting us go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LES SINS AND THE GIFT OF EFFORTLESS COOLNESS
November 11, 2015 8:48 am

The first time I heard Les Sins, the dance heavy side project of Chaz Bundick, I was eating a burrito alone at Chipotle. While meticulously avoiding a guac’d t-shirt, the slick monotone voice on Bother started booming through the speakers, mockingly repeating the phrase “don’t bother me, I’m working,” over and over again.

As far as music+food pairings go, the only other time I did an artist that great of a contextual disservice was when I gently hummed Sinatra’s “Strangers In The Night” to an Ellio’s pizza rotating in the microwave. So in a myriad of ways, I do not possess the coolness in order to passably dance along to Les Sins. Is anyone cool enough for this stuff? Les Sins is the type of music that I imagine all those young and beautiful and ethnically diverse friend groups you see in vodka and T-Mobile ads are partying to. And I eat way too many midnight Bagel Bites to hang with that crowd (ugh, I need to fucking diet).

Anything that Bundick gets his hands on will have at least some traces of funkiness and sound like it was made in an era when 8 track players were in every car. But as opposed to his work on Toro Y Moi, he seems less interested in songwriting or expansiveness in sound. He’s simply doubling down on the coolness here. And he’s quite successful with this method on Les Sins’ debut LP Michael.

The lead-off track “Talk About” let’s you know what you’re in for right off the bat. Swirling synths, some steady thumping drums and an Illmatic-era Nas sample. It’s not that jarring of a change, but it helps segway into the murkier dance-hall vibes on “Toy” and “Call,” which is a completely new direction for him. We still get some disco treats on tracks like “Bellow” and “Why,” so don’t worry. The ol’ Chaz Bundick toolbox of sound is still there, it’s just more bare-boned and straightforward than his other projects tend to be.

With any side project, it’s important see whether or not the artist actually set out to make something different or just rehashed his or her already established sound under a new name for some reason. Les Sins certainly has an identity of its own, not living in the shadows of Bundick’s previous successes by any means. The minimalist approach on Les Sins helps modernize the vintage sound Bundick’s established throughout his career and adds a new layer of chic to his already infinite stack of it.

BLANKO BASNET; MORE THAN A GREAT 20’S BOOTLEGGER NAME
October 29, 2015 10:06 am

During the week-long Indie blog ‘gasmfest known as CMJ, I was lucky enough to be my friend’s +1 to the Domino Records showcase. It was lovely. As soon as we got there, we were happily surprised to learn about their open bar situation and took advantage of it because in this economy, one must go where the bargain takes you.

While we’re at the bar, a band comes on and two songs into their set, it feels as though we’re listening to a Real Estate tribute band, which is something that’s been happening more and more recently. We start calling them Basically Real Estate. Once they finish, I’m buzzed enough to start outwardly saying, “Thank you! We are Basically Real Estate, you’ve been great!” The person sitting next to us, patiently dealing with my dumbness throughout the set, finally turns to me and informs me that the lead singer of that band was, in fact, the lead singer of Real Estate. What a small, derivative, world.

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Blanko Basnet is by no means in the Basically Real Estate category, but there’s no denying a few key DNA strands that make up the band’s sound. The gentle cooing of Joe Hall’s voice is the most immediate similarity here, but then the smooth jangly rhythms prominent in Blanko’s self-titled LP make the connection even stronger.

But what makes Blanko Basnet such a fun and captivating listen is how they deviate from the pleasurable rhythm those foggy beach rock bands are able to cultivate. Before forming Blanko, Hall fronted Hammer No More The Fingers, a really fun band with straightforward hooks and impressive guitar chops that make each song a guessing game to see where the tempo goes. Hall brings a lot of those qualities to this project and it makes for a melding of styles seldom seen for this style of music. It keeps Blanko Banset from falling into easy listening territory.

Each song off Blanko Basnet has a unique wrinkle that forces you to be present when listening to them. It can’t just be played as background music while studying, when all of a sudden realize you listened to the entire album once the silence hits. Do not expect songs to have choruses consisting entirely of “ooohs” and “aaaahs” like some ribbon cutting ceremony attendee. There will be moments that jump out at you. “Forest” and “Oysters” each have a great build to them, while the two instrumentals on the album, “Father” and “Face Plant” offer the most sonic variety by far. Breakbeat drum kits and acoustic guitar plucking somehow make sense together on those songs, it’s weird.

Although it’s a genre that’s fine as is for the most part, it’s nice seeing a band like Blanko Basnet gently shaking up the status quo of the Basically Real Estate world. Perhaps it can inspire Mr. Basically Real Estate himself (I know I can Google his name, I’m just being lazy. Fine, I’ll look it up right now… It’s Martin Courtney) to branch out. Martin Courtney needs you, Blanko Basnet!

THE STRUTS SHIMMY THROUGH PHILLY
October 26, 2015 8:52 am

English glam rock band The Struts played a sold-out show at The Foundry in Philly this past Saturday night.

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Photo by Kenzie Gasper

Opening for them were The Karma Killers, a punk rock band from New Jersey that’s been garnering attention with the release of their debut EP Strange Therapy.  Their sound isn’t particularly my style, but I really see a lot of promise and I definitely think they have the chops to become a huge name.  With lyrics like “It was a cruel summer, one way or another/ I miss my Sharona, crimson and clover,” it’s obvious The Karma Killers are influenced by the iconic musicians that preceded them.

Right before The Struts were to take the stage, the crowded room began to murmur in excitement.  “I love him,” the girl standing next to me said (in reference to front man Luke Spiller.)  Finally, after much anticipation, the doors opened and The Struts sauntered out to deafening whistles and cheers.  The foursome was decked out in head to toe sequins, velvet and silk, paying homage to the glam rock bands of the 1970s.  Spiller, who bears a striking resemblance to Freddie Mercury, greeted the audience in an almost incomprehensible English accent before going into rousing renditions of their popular songs “Could Have Been Me” and “Kiss This” (my personal favorite!)

This was honestly one of the most entertaining shows I’ve ever seen, due to the fact that the band heavily interacted with the crowd and kept us all on our toes.  At one point during the show, Spiller instructed everyone to crouch down for a few moments, and then rise up again as the music builds.  The Struts are one of those rare bands that know how to put on a hell of a show, in large part due to Spiller’s stage presence, which has been compared to the likes of Mick Jagger and David Bowie.

Though their set was short (they only played about seven or eight songs), the band came out for an encore after hearing the audience chant “One more song!  One more song!”

Before making their final exit, Spiller thanked everyone for coming and joined his bandmates for a final bow.

The Struts return to Philly’s Theatre of the Living Arts on December 17th, so be sure to grab your tickets before they’re gone.  I’ll definitely be there cheering them on.

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Photo by Kenzie Gasper

X Ambassadors Lead The Way
September 30, 2015 2:16 pm

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Hailing from Ithaca, New York, alternative rock band X Ambassadors are on the verge of chart-topping world domination.

With the summer release of their debut album VHS, the band’s second single, “Renegades” peaked at number one on the Billboard Alternative chart and secured a partnership with Jeep’s Renegade campaign with a pretty sick video.

Brothers Sam and Casey Harris founded the band with childhood friend Noah Feldshuh and Sam’s classmate Adam Levin, whom he met while attending the New School in New York City. They released their debut EP under the name “Ambassadors,” but later switched to X Ambassadors after being discovered by fellow alt-rock band Imagine Dragons. They later released two more EPs and toured with Imagine Dragons, Jimmy Eat World and The Mowglis.

X Ambassadors’ sound has been compared to a broad range of artists from Tom Waits to Nick Jonas, the latter glaringly noticeable in “Gorgeous.” Still, they manage to create a sound that’s their own on tracks like “B.I.G.” and “Hang On.”

This past July, “Renegades” was nominated for Best Rock Song at the Teen Choice Awards but lost to Hozier’s “Take Me To Church.” With the Grammys right around the corner, X Ambassadors could be seeing a nomination in their future.

Currently touring Europe and North America, be sure to check them out when they come through your town!

The Dove & The Wolf – Taking The US By Storm
September 24, 2015 9:46 am

Paris-based duo Paloma and Lou have been musical partners for years. The Dove & The Wolf is their most recent project, and their music is spreading across the US like wildfire.

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Their self-distributed EP was released back in 2012, only six months after the duo’s formation, and was immediately picked up and highlighted by the New York Times. Now fresh out of college, Paloma and Lou seem to have spent just as much time in the US as their home countries, France and Martinique.

And what’s not to like about The Dove & The Wolf? Their dual guitars blend just as effortlessly as their vocal harmonies. The songs are catchy, yet they possess an ambient and melancholic quality. As they say on their website, their music is “where Crosby, Stills & Nash and Air meet a feminine tenor.” Despite the ambient tints of their music, Air doesn’t really come to mind when listening to them. Take away the electronics from Air and you have nothing, however the stripped-down, acoustic live versions of The Dove & The Wolf are arguably just as good as the multi-layered versions we hear on their EP.

Unsurprisingly, a debut album is now in the works. Judging by their most recent release, a short EP called Words You Said, we could conclude that Paloma and Lou are heading into slightly more ambient territory. Perhaps the influences of Air will be more apparent in their next album. That would be interesting to hear, though I hope they don’t lose their melancholic quality in the process. In any case, I can be nothing but excited.

Grapell’s Soul Is Spilling
September 9, 2015 8:47 pm

Grapell was created from the longtime Stockholm friendship of Emil Erstrand and Nils Nygardh. The Swedish duo released their newest single “Arrows in July, and it proves they have grown into their true, smooth style this past year. There is a soulfulness to the single; the warming sax brings in the simplicity of jazz, melting it together with the dreamy pop guitar and synth. “Arrows” is a compassionate intimate song with depths of despair in the lyrics. Their first EP ‘Grapell‘ was released with Swedish indie label Strangers Candy in June 2013 and contained a folk pop feel. They quickly became one of the most popular bands in Sweden with their 3 part EP and had people all over the world start listening.  Following that came the EP “Friends in October 2014 with the loops and the synthesizer, continuously congregating new sounds to their evolving style. Still with Strangers Candy, the band is experimenting, bleeding into the consciousness of every kind of listener around the world.

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