new music

JAPANESE WALLPAPER EMERGES FROM ITS COCOON
October 27, 2016 9:28 am

When I was 17 years old, I was doing what most other 17 year old teenagers do; playing sports, doing homework, driving a car for fun, I was even playing guitar a lot by most standards. But I was creating nothing like Gab Strum did in his seventeenth year.

He started the electronic pop project Japanese Wallpaper and released his first single “Waves” back in 2014. Even at this early stage in his career, the sounds he created were nearly on the same level as ambient titans Tycho and Boards of Canada. The ethereal, jovial tunes started drawing attention from some pretty well-known folks in the industry such as fellow Australian, Chet Faker. Also in Gab’s seventeenth year, he won Triple J’s Unearthed High competition. Oh, and his track “Breathe In” was also featured on the soundtrack for Zach Braff’’s follow-up to Garden State, Wish I Was Here. Seventeen! I think this goes to show how the state of modern music equipment has altered the music scene. If a high school kid fifty years ago wanted to make music with more than a guitar, he would find it incredibly difficult to do so. The tools to do so weren’t easily available yet. Now we can download software on our laptops and create magic.

Gab did his first tour of Australia back in 2014 with great success. He has since been putting out EP’s with some fantastic remixes in the last couple years. Most recently this year he released the single “Cocoon.” Earlier this year, he released a deluxe edition of his self-titled EP that came out in 2015 with a slew of new remixes. The remix of Between Friends” by Sable is a noteworthy track from the record. The single “Forces” featuring Airling is a smash. I think it’s safe to say that Japanese Wallpaper has a promising future ahead of him. He has a few tour dates left in 2016 if you happen to live in a major Australian city. I imagine he’ll make his leap over to the states soon enough and I for one will be right there in the crowd grooving along to these incredible tunes.

SAY YES! AN ELLIOTT SMITH TRIBUTE
October 25, 2016 9:49 am

It’s been thirteen long years since Elliott Smith took his own life on October 21st,e 2003. He battled demons a majority of his short life and his music brought so many people the harsh reality of that struggle into the words we could tangibly use to forget our own aches for a few moments, or for an entire album. In my opinion he is one of the most underrated geniuses in modern music.

A group of other musicians apparently felt the same way when they decided to get together and create a tribute album for Smith titled Say Yes! as released by American Laundromat Records. It features bands such as Yuck, Waxatachee and artists like J. Mascis and Julien Baker. A wide array of sludgy rock to intensely acoustic indie artists. I think my favorite from the album is the Yuck version of “Bled White, which is also an all time favorite Elliott song of mine.

I’ve personally covered one Smith song during a live performance “The Biggest Lie”. While I enjoyed singing my heart out, Elliott’s songs are a force to be reckoned with. A tantrum of eloquence and equally as dark currents raging inside of a drowning man. It’s nearly impossible to recreate the feelings Smith captured in his music.

Honestly, I was pretty giddy at first and while I wholeheartedly appreciate these artists showing their influence by Smith, it was almost a little hard to hear the songs without Elliott. The fact that 13 years after I find him, he is no longer putting out new material is a heart wrenching realization for me. There just isn’t a way for other artists to recreate something so personal, and the despair he felt daily triggered the wild agony in his songs. These things made them what they are, and it is a travesty to deny that.

However, these songs are a tribute and we can not look into them as if Elliott is there, but more so that he was inspiration to them.

Songs you can find on this album include but are not limited to, “Waltz #2 done by J. Mascis, “Easy way out” done by Wild Sun, and “Division Day done by Lou Barlow. Yuck’s upbeat version of “Bled White” got me pretty pumped up for the album as the first song I heard with its punchy drums and rock version of a song always adored. In J. Mascis’ version of Waltz #2, he seemingly chose specific parts of the song to use, and it’s very eerily pasted together with slow vocals and droning guitar and drums, at first I wasn’t even sure it was the same song.

We may have lost a very valuable and pivotal force in indie, acoustic and rock and roll music thirteen years ago, but his music transcends time and is not fleeting by any means of the word. Elliott had an unwavering ability to create classic music that would punch you in the gut every time you listen. There is no simplicity, paper thin vocals, shuttering harmonies, both clean and distorted guitar riffs in all the right places, so much Beatles influence you’ll be humming “The Two of Us” or “Helter Skelter” without even knowing why after checking out Figure 8 or From a Basement on a Hill.

Take a listen to this new tribute album, and if you haven’t yet listen to Elliott’s albums front to back in memory of 13 years without him in the physical realm, go and do that too. He’s always here in the musical realm, hats off to you Elliott Smith.

 

THE BLACK PARADE IS BACK IN A NEW WAY
October 19, 2016 11:23 am

“When I was a young boy, my father took me to the city, to see a marching band…”

This line of lyric is so universally known by the rock world that no one can hear this song and not feel some strong attachment to it. My Chemical Romance‘s immersive album The Black Parade was part epic, part tragedy filled with soaring highs and wallowing lows. Rock Sound magazine is celebrating the 10th anniversary of this legendary album with the story of the creation and life of The Black Parade and an incredible amount of content.

9390352-368-k802450A decade is a long time, in 2006, the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii came out, Casino Royal and Cars debuted, Justin Timberlake was bringing “Sexyback, Shakira’s hips didn’t lie and Daniel Powter was still having his bad days. This was a year of strong movement in pop culture and punk rock was being redefined. My Chemical Romance way making one of the biggest movements because of their raw style of music, fashion and tone in their genre defining The Black Parade.

Rock Sound’s October edition is an essential for any punk, emo, rock or ska fan. There is a beautifully told story of MCR’s creative process of The Black Parade and its life and impact it had on the band. It is filled with a lot of funny small stories and interesting insights on why the band took a break and how they dealt with all of these changes.

However, the part of this edition that seems more interesting and gripping is the cover album that accompanies the issue. Rock Sound gathered a grand collection of artists deep in the indie rock world to cover each song on The Black Parade giving each track new life while saluting them with praise and honor at the same time. From Escape the Fate‘s similar and powerful rendition of “Dead!” to Twenty One Pilot‘s heart breaking performance of Cancer and Against the Current‘s different take on Teenagers, this album brings new life to The Black Parade while reminding you how truly amazing this album was and still is.

I would recommend anyone and everyone who is a fan of MCR, The Black Parade, punk, rock, indie, ska, heavy metal or good music in general to pick up this epic issue of Rock Sound with the additional tribute album. MCR is also celebrating this 10th anniversary with a special deluxe edition that any fan NEEDS to get, you can’t miss this. The Black Parade is amazing in both forms and may their music and memory carry on.

BRAVE BABY BECOMES OUR NEW ELECTRIC FRIENDS
October 18, 2016 9:41 am

Brave Baby are a band from Charleston, South Carolina that currently carries the torch for the niche genre of southern indie rock. That title is normally reserved for bands that have at least one banjo, or cracklin’ piano, not synthesizers, 60’s-style organs, nor lead singer Keon Masters breathy delivery. The 5-piece is an eclectic mix of tender melodies, upbeat, danceable, radio ready singles, and southern charm.
They released their debut record Forty Bells on Charleston indie rock label Hearts and Plugs in 2013 that bring a DIY ethos, self-producing that record in their storage unit turned recording studio. The band released their follow up, Electric Friends, in 2015 to critical acclaim taking a giant step forward in terms of songwriting, and musicianship. The band’s multi-layered, synth-pop approach falls right in line with the millennial culture. Songs like “Daisy Child”, “Ancients”, and “Larry on the Weekend” have poured on comparisons to Arcade Fire, The Shins, and Death Cab for Cutie. The band is at once delicate, needing great care and undivided attention, yet ready for the long road-trip, with too many friends, crammed in the backseat of a Toyota Corolla.

WALKFORADOG IS AS EASY AS ITS NAME
October 14, 2016 9:51 am

Having to trudge through the overpopulated, polluted-as-all-hell maze that is New York City every day can be dispiriting. Shoulders are bumped, footwear gets dirty, and faith in humanity is questioned. Perhaps the one glimmer of hope most people here get all day is the moment a cute dog waltzes past them with a big smile on its face and no worries whatsoever.

Dogs have no idea that we’re all prisoners to capitalism, nor do they complain about being surrounded by concrete and steel barriers that are illegal for them to pee on. They’re just happy to be outside! It’s fresh air time. Dogs are the living embodiment of optimism and being able to see them throughout the day helps me treat others slightly better than I normally would have. Thank you, dogs. You inspire me to be a slightly less terrible person.

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More than anything, I want to show my appreciation for dogs and help out the ones not lucky enough to have a home yet. But because life, especially in the city, is just an endless cycle of work and commute, there isn’t much time to do that. This is why I got so excited when I heard about the app WalkForADog.

From a functionality standpoint, WalkForADog couldn’t be simpler. All you have to do is set up an account, select an animal shelter you want to raise money for, keep the app open, and then walk. The more you walk, the more money you raise for that shelter. That’s it. Seriously, it’s the easiest thing in the world. Why aren’t you doing this.

You see? I shouldn’t have to persuade you any longer. Just download the app and start helping out some dogs in need. They already do so much for us!! It couldn’t be any easier and there is nothing stopping you from trying it out.

HER NAME IS BANKS
October 12, 2016 5:35 pm

Her name is Banks and she should be on your your radar by now. If not, no worries we have you covered—you won’t lose any indie points yet.

Jillian Rose Banks, known by her fans as BANKS, started gaining buzz in 2013 when she toured internationally with The Weekend. Since then she’s performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and has been featured on Grey’s Anatomy and the Divergent soundtrack.

BANKS makes beautifully haunting pop music that is intricate and witchy (check out tracks titled Haunt and Poltergeist). If you’re a fan of Halsey, you’ll definitely vibe with banks, as they both deliver the edginess mainstream pop needs.

She doesn’t shy away from talking about serious issues like depression and emotion in her lyrics, which is an important for a mainstream artist to address.

I think there’s this stigma and this fear. I’ve experienced it in business as a woman; people call you emotional when you’re just saying what you want. It’s actually not emotional, it’s just factual. And I think people kind of put this projection onto women like they’re being hysterical, bitchy or like a diva when they’re just working and being strong. I think it’s not only important to be connected to your emotions, but also to not feel like you’re being emotional when you’re not. [Learning] that has actually really helped me to feel empowered,” as told to ID magazine

On her newest release, The Altar, she belts out assertive, sneering lyrics on the lead single, “Fuck With Myself,” that just might prove her edginess the key to her longevity.

Her name is Banks and she’s on her way to becoming a bonafide pop icon, so you’d better not forget her name.

MELO-X KNOWS WHAT IT TAKES TO CATCH BEYONCE’S ATTENTION
October 7, 2016 12:58 pm

MeLo-X  is traveling at warp speed. Pedal to the metal. The Brooklyn-based multimedia artist has a boundless artistic vision that rejects the conventional division lines between sight and sound.

Although best known for his collaborations with Beyoncé—the free-spirited rapper and hip-hop producer has also directed and scored films, designed art installations that they have at the MoMA and Guggenheim, is a trending fashion tastemaker and an advocate for staying grounded and true to your roots.

It would be difficult to find an artist in Brooklyn with a more varied palette than MeLo-X, and that’s saying a lot.

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The self-proclaimed Renaissance man—born Sean Rhoden—got his first big break in 2014 following the release of Beyoncé’s self-titled surprise album. MeLo-X released an unauthorized collection of remixes titled Yoncé-X EP  which when picked up speed and went viral, eventually catching the attention of Queen B herself.

And there’s no one more powerful, more influential in the music biz than Beyoncé.

Pop artists are often treated as gods living among mortals—transcending human existence and amassing devout worship. If ever there was a pop artist that fits—if not demands this treatment from her fans—it would be Beyoncé Knowles.

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So when MeLo-X was asked to co-direct the accompanying film scores to Beyoncé and Jay Z’s On the Run Tour, he jumped at the opportunity and didn’t look back.

Soon he was flying out to LA to help Beyoncé co-write and co-produce tracks “Hold Up” and “Sorry” off her 2016 album Lemonade.

Keep in mind, producing a Beyoncé album isn’t a typical of the industry. Rather, to visualize the scale of such a project, it’s easier to liken the undertaking to that of a Hollywood blockbuster—dozens of writers and producers converge on each track to produce the most immaculate, pungent production possible. But that’s exactly where MeLo-X excels—collaboration.

His sparse productions, often centered around spaced-out percolating frequencies, give a dark, spatial depth to the music he touches—his voice is understated yet distinct at the same time.

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Both his overall aesthetic as well as his affinity for collaboration are in full view on his 2015 solo CURATE EP which features music from buzzing hip-hop artists Little SimzKilo Kish, and Raury—he also released an interactive app to accompany the EP allowing fans to create their own remixes.

2016 has been nothing short of a whirlwind for MeLo-X. He hit the year off with another remix collection, titled Adele-X, centering yet again on the music of a pop music enigma as his subject.

MeLo-X  also recently released a track with glitch-centric electronic artist Machinedrum called “Angel Voice”—as well as helping produce track “Cleopatra” for up-and-comer Queens-via-Bengal hip-hop buzz magnet Anik Khan.  While it might be impossible to tell what MeLo-X will take on next, it’s certain he won’t be slowing down his pace anytime soon.

EX REYES: GREAT TIMING
October 3, 2016 10:24 am

You’re probably familiar with Ex Reyes and don’t even realize it. Known to friends as Mikey Hart, the accomplished musician has worked with artists including Mitchell Yoshida of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros and Albert Hammond Jr., and has just began a tour with How To Dress Well where he will be producing 18 shows of the tour as well as performing with his own band. Jeez, Mikey. You’re making the rest of us look bad.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS caught Mikey just before he left on tour and had a nice chat about his debut album as Ex Reyes, Mardi Gras, and the practice of “Mitchelling”.

You’re getting ready to put out your first solo release. Was there anything you learned during its production?
I think my favorite records are just a reflection of a moment, like a photograph, so I tend to kind of fall in love with recordings all along the way. Some of the songs on the upcoming EP have parts that were recorded like 5 years ago, forgotten, and then rediscovered.

So producing, playing, writing music, is just a constantly moving process and I like just being along for the ride and trying to be available whenever something inspiring happens, cause you definitely can’t force that…you can count on it happening, but you have to catch it. I’ve been producing music with and for friends’ projects before this so from like, a technical perspective, I know how to operate the machinery.

You also collaborated on a number of songs with Mitchell Yoshida of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. What would you say he brought to those songs and the overall creative process?
Mitchell is an incredible musician and a wildly creative person—when he lived in NYC and was playing around on the scene, we’d use a term called “Mitchelling” which was basically accepting that he’s going to come in and completely improvise over the music, no fixed parts, but it’s gonna be amazing.

We started some of this music years ago with some other friends, with the idea to form a band. But everyone was too good at what they do and got busy so it turned from a band to like, recording session collaborations when we could get that to happen. Usually, Mitchell would roll through and I’d open up a session and we’d just identify one thing to work on and carve out, and then set to it…so like, I spent a while with Mitchell playing with sounds and tracks and ideas before I ever really figured out how I wanted to sing over it or write over it.

How much input did you have in the creation of your video for “Bad Timing”?
Haha, damn—I pretty much did that from top to bottom, with the help of friends in Nola who are super sick at what they do. I treat Mardi Gras as my one like “holy holiday” that I ask off for, but last year I waited too long to get the tickets so I had to stay for a pretty long time on either side of Mardi Gras day to not spend a fortune.

So I was like, I really want to make a video with that extra time. The initial idea was to go out to a place called the Almonaster dump, which is a massive dump area in New Orleans East that we used to pass going to our grandma’s house, and just blow up a trashed car to kind of exhibit like, you can still do something crazy like that in New Orleans. And then I wanted to mix that idea with an impression of detachment, which is where the parade stuff came in. Like what if you present Mardi Gras festivities as sort of an inevitable background to whatever foreground experience is much bigger? I was thinking of a way to kind of express my bewilderment or exasperation with social inequality, inevitable racism, sexism, homophobia…I can’t tell if the past couple years have been particularly insane, or if me/society is just becoming more aware of the insanity in marginalized communities, the under-publicized social strata.

But anyway, I drove around for a couple of weeks trying to find a car to blow up and the marching band you see in the video is the incredible Edna Karr Marching Band. My friend Akasha Rabut, a brilliant photographer from New Orleans, has been doing a photo project with Edna Karr so they were kind enough to invite us to shoot at their school and on their buses as they prepared for the NOMTOC parade (which is the one you see in the video).

Is your upcoming tour with How To Dress Well your most extensive tour yet?
Without a doubt. It’s also particularly nuts for me cause I’m leading my band and I’m also leading How to Dress Well. So there’s just a massive to do list and I try and chip away at the old ice sculpture a little bit every day until I get a beautiful, life size, frozen sculpture of a successful tour!

Real talk, I’m super excited. Ex Reyes has only played small shows in New York in kind of DIY spaces so it will be an insane and lovely experience to play these rooms and play for Tom’s incredible audience.

Is this arrangement allowing you to do anything you’ve wanted to do, but haven’t had the resources to do until this point?
Maybe this is the same answer as above…I think the main thing is it’s allowing Ex Reyes to get in front of people in all these cities and show them what we’re about, which is such a fucking cool opportunity for a new band.

Also everyone in Ex Reyes live band is like next level talented so I can’t wait to take that level of musicianship to these stages and show off how awesome the band is!

What have you learned from performing with more established musicians like Albert Hammond Jr. and The Cranberries?
There’s literally so much I’ve learned from them, and more yet to learn. I always joke with Albert that he taught me to rock again cause I spent so many years kind of playing background music or indie rock, you get into this performance style of like “oh, sorry we’re here playing live music”. Maybe part of me still feels that way, but Albert showed me the value of a good fucking guitar stance and how to own a guitar solo like it’ll never go out of style.

Playing with bands, I feel like musicians playing instruments may go in and out of style or feasibility based on demand, but it will always communicate to people in a space when there’s risk involved. Like, you’re up there performing because there’s a risk that it could all go to complete shit and you’re supposed to be good at keeping it from going to shit. I learn something from the people I’m on tour with whatever size, really. Cause you become sort of a momentary family unit, and it doesn’t take long before you’re really just willing to talk about whatever.

Your Facebook page lists your location as “New York City/New Orleans/there too”. Have you lived many places?
It’s more like, I’ve spent long stretches of time not really living in a place. I’ve been touring for so many years now, I never really get used to staying put. Kinda makes me nervous after 2-3 days of being back. Before touring I was traveling around playing music on the street. But my stuff and my psyche always orbit around New Orleans or New York. I’ve only really taken up residence in those two places, and Accra, Ghana.

New York has so many great venues. Do you have a favorite?
I think my favorite venue will always be Zebulon, RIP, because of the fearless booking and laid back vibe. That vibe is hard to find nowadays.

Also Bowery/Music Hall cause the sound is always so incredible and the staff is rad. Shout out to Winston, the security guard who works the backstage stairwell! Dude is rad. We talked about Isaac Hayes for a while once and now it’s just what we talk about when I see him. Just like “Hey! Hot buttered soul! Alright man, peace!”

Do you have any fond memories of Webster Hall, where you’ll be playing with How To Dress Well?
I think this is a funny question because I remember the days of “amateur strip night” at Webster Hall. I lived in the neighborhood then—I never went—but the scene outside on the street was always pretty unhinged.

But, yes. I’ve played Webster a few times and it’s always felt like a milestone—I’ve been playing music in NYC a little while now so each time you go a rung up on the venue capacity, it feels exciting…I remember playing a sold out show with Bleachers at Webster just months after playing to 10 people there with my friend’s band, I remember playing there with Albert in the Marlin Room cause it was our first show as a band and it was insane to book a New York show as your first.

But more than those I think I really have a fond memory of riding my bike back from the beach in 2005 and going straight to a Lightning Bolt/Boredoms with 3 drummers show and just being super sun burned, sandy, and stoned and wiling out so very hard. Stuff like that used to happen more often, damn.

What’s your favorite place in New York to get pizza?
The nearest place. Unless I’m trying to show off, then it’s DiFara’s forever always.

Check out tour dates here, and there are a lot of stops! Find one near you and see what makes them so amazing.

TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB IS THE SHAMROCK MUSIC KING
September 29, 2016 5:27 pm

Two Door Cinema Club are an Irish indie rock trio that seemingly just want to dance. Alex Trimble, Sam Halliday, and Kevin Baird make music that instantly plug ear-worms to your cerebellum with instant infection. Their music videos are also as infectious, showcasing the band’s quirky, yet honest, sense of humor. Forming in 2007, while the lads were still in school, they have since released two full-length albums, with one on the way in October, and a handful of EP’s. They have gained a substantial following in their home country of Ireland, and are doing the same in the US with incessant touring and festival appearances.

Prior to forming Two Door Cinema Club, the trio performed as a band in their teenage years dubbed “Life Without Rory”. The band, released 3 demos,  finished dead last in local competitions, and decided to move on to greener pastures. The trio came back together to form another band without a full-time drummer and settled on the name Two Door Cinema Club after Sam Halliday’s mispronunciation of the local movie theater the Tudor Cinema.

Two Door Cinema Club released an EP in 2009 titled Four Words to Stand On that gained a little interest. Their first full-length record, Tourist History, was released in 2010 with the band finding their niche. Tourist History went on to be selected for the Choice Music Prize for Irish Album of the Year. Follow-up album Beacon was released 3 years later to similar reaction pushing the band to release a four-part tour documentary entitled What We See. An EP, Changing of the Seasons, came in 2013 coupled with a jump to Parlophone Records in 2015. Their third proper album, Gameshowand first for Parlophone, is slated for release in October, 2016.

Two Door Cinema Club will be featured at the Austin City Limits Festival on October 1st, and will continue touring North America through November 2016.

VIBBLE: SMALL START WITH GREAT POTENTIAL
September 28, 2016 11:18 am

Vibble, for all intensive purposes, is your personal mix board. With transitions, samples, and faders, Vibble gives you the sense of being a DJ while cutting out the complications. It is stylistic, easy and fun to play with, a for sure download for someone who asks always wants the AUX cord in the car. However, the app is pretty minimal and would need a lot of updates and expansions to amount to something of real substance.

The App runs with Sound Cloud. You can search Sound Cloud through this app very smoothly and very fast and add the song you want to a simple playlist. You can play a number of different samples right over the tracks adding air horns, drum beats, and vinyl scratches to whatever you like on Sound Cloud.

I love Sound Cloud as much as the next person, but the fact that this app only uses Sound Cloud is pretty limiting. Even artists like Flume or Porter Robinson which have a strong presence there, don’t show up with any music inside the app. So unless you know a whole mess of small time artists off the top of your head, it’ll be difficult finding anything worth mixing and fooling with. I’m not a pro with this app either, so I might be missing how to use certain parts like saving music playlists or bookmarking artists, but as of now I haven’t found a way to retain any mixes or set-lists that I’ve made.

With all this said, it doesn’t mean the app is great in concept. The accessible fading and samples are refreshing, the design of the app is bright and fun, and the potential for greatness is there. I can’t wait to see this app a couple of months from now, it’ll be the new way to listen to your Sound Cloud favorites.