rock

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.

JULIEN BAKER TURNS PHILLY INTO THE QUIETEST CITY
September 21, 2016 11:09 am

It’s no secret that ATYPICAL SOUNDS loves Julien Baker. She was our November Artist of the Month last year, so when I found out she was playing at Underground Arts in Philly I knew I had to be there.

The two show line-up was Tennessee-based Baker and Philly’s Grayling. As much as I don’t want to admit it for the sake of losing “punk cred,” two show lineups are sick. You get to go see some bands, feel some feels and still not be too tired for the next morning (I was still late for class but that’s just because of who I am as a person).

Grayling came on around 8:30 and played about a 7 song set that shows me that this band is here to stay. They are pretty badass and if you haven’t checked them out you need to do so ASAP. They will make you feel badass too.

Julien Baker started playing around 9:30 and while her set was only about an hour, for that one hour the small venue on 1200 Callowhill, was the quietest place in all of the city. Baker played songs of her record Sprained Ankle, which is a powerful testament to love, heartbreak and realization. It was just Baker and her guitar on the stage with one spotlight that made the singer look like an angel. Just like on her record, her voice quieted down and then tore through the quiet, each time taking the crowd with it.

There was not a dry eye in Underground Arts, I can guarantee it.

POP ETC GETS DOWN IN TOKYO
August 29, 2016 11:13 am

As  summertime rolls around, artists travel around the globe to perform at the biggest music festival. It’s about time a New York native band come perform in Tokyo, and POP ETC finally made their way halfway across the world to bring their American indie-rock vibes. They were actually in Japan not even a year ago, but who cares? They’re rad, and they deserve to be back as many times they want.

Some of you may know POP ETC from the The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 2 soundtrack (ha!). Some others may have seen them supporting big time indie musicians like The Black Keys, Death Cab for Cutie and The Kooks. Either way their music blurs the lines between indie pop and indie rock, sitting just in between those two genres. They create music that makes you want to chill with a beer in hand, but also wave your hands in the air and dance at the same time.

Their show in Tokyo was surprisingly filled with an unusual mix of fans ranging from young females in late teens to middle aged business men. And like any other show in Japan, people watched them quietly, showing major respect to the band and their music. I was surprised with front man Chris’ fluency of Japanese – who knew! Because of that, the band members were able to connect with the audience on a whole other level. I was amazed to see the lack of phones in the crowd, trying to record precious videos of the show on their iPhones so they can upload it on their social media. Literally nobody. Nobody had their phones or selfie sticks (thank goodness) out which made this show an even more superb experience. We’re hoping they’ll be back again sometime soon, but if you’re in the big apple, don’t miss their next gig!

Want to know more about POP ETC? Click here to check out our exclusive interview with them.

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ROBBERIES: BAND THEFT AUTO
August 25, 2016 9:22 am

 

With the internet allowing music to be at our finger tips without having to pay for it, many bands tour around the country in packed vans as their only way to make real money. Touring is fun. Going to places you’ve never seen, playing your music to screaming fans every night seems like the dream right? Bands take all their gear, clothes, computers and money and lock it in their vans, thinking it’ll be safe while they go play a show for their fans. By end of the night they come outside and expect to get in their cars and go to the next city. This is when they realize that they’ve been robbed. Everything is gone, from passports and cash to computers and irreplaceable items. This is when touring can go from a dream to a nightmare.

Small independent bands seem to be the biggest target for these types of robberies. Most of these bands reluctantly set up Gofundme pages (an online website where people can donate to a cause) and make posts looking for their stolen gear asking others to keep an eye out for the gear in pawn shops or craigslist.

While fans rally around the bands and support them the best they can, unfortunately most of these cases go unsolved.

Despite all of the difficulties they’ve faced, the outpouring of support can give some bands an optimistic outlook on the situation, while others don’t have the same outlook. Hip-Hop artist Spose, who was robbed in St. Louis, vowed that he would never go back to the city after having his computer and musical equipment stolen. “I had a lot of worked saved to my computer, and some personal things, including pictures of my family,” the rapper said. He wrote on his Facebook page; “I’m done with St Louis, if you want to see me perform in the future come to Chicago or something because St Louis is dead to me.”

It’s hard to imagine having your livelihood stolen right out from underneath you WHILE you are either on your way to the job, or inside DOING the job. For some, it can be devastating, as they may never get back personal items, like a first guitar or computer full of demo tracks. If you see something, speak up, and ALWAYS do what you can to support artists who put their entire lives on the line  to bring music to you. The least you can do is buy some merch!

HOT PANDA: GOOD POP, BAD POP
August 24, 2016 12:06 am

 

Hot, inescapable energy comes charges through some early distortion and coy guitar strumming on “Other Spooky Is the leadoff track to Hot Panda’s 4th studio album, Bad Pop. But once Chris Connelly’s high pitched hollerings kick-in, everything just snowballs from there.

The song’s pace kicks into a completely frantic pace towards the halfway mark, and by that time, a spookier, modulated voice spelling out the title of the song is introduced. Even before this, the title made absolutely no sense. This idea really just doubled down on the nonsense.  As Bad Pop went on, it seemed as though doubling down on nonsense was, in many ways, all part of the Hot Panda charm. Choosing Hot Panda as a name in the first place evokes a sort of inherent silliness.

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There are certainly moments of normalcy to be appreciated on the record, though. Time-travelling Psych-Pop tunes like “Golden Arch are as straightforward and clean cut as they come. The sound is made for the Ed Sullivan show as teens bop their heads back and forth like a newton’s cradle made of skulls. And “On Your Own” provides easily the most tender moment Bad Pop has to offer.

It’s certainly more fun when they decide to embrace their weirdness, though. The perfect example of this being “Linda Ronstadt, a track built on the quirky concept of paying homage to the legendary singer. The quirk also gets a big boost from the charmingly chirpy backing vocals from bassist Catherine Hiltz, whose voice clashes with Connelly’s in a way that makes for a captivating listen.

In an Occam’s razor type of inevitability, however, the true standout here is of course “Bad Pop, the album’s titular track. Not only do their sugar rushed odd ballerey stand out, the lyrics are funny enough to cause some unexpected laughter on a crowded train. An act that still leads to stares from people, even though it should be completely normalized at this point. Regardless, it’s really great hearing Connelly’s maudlin self-awareness that this cheery sounding ditty could easily be used to sling sneakers in a year’s time. I think that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy? I don’t fucking know, I failed psych class.

As Hot Panda powered through their 10 song LP, they displayed a hodgepodge of different ideas. The heavy, fun Power-Pop somehow blends seamlessly with their more psychedelic and jammy moments. It’s all squeezed under their umbrella of strange in Totoro fashion, who wasn’t exactly a panda, but they can’t be too far separated in the animal kingdom.

JUMP THE GUN WITH HOCKEY DAD
August 1, 2016 6:33 pm

After a long week of work, who can’t appreciate a nice beach trip. Windows rolled down and music blasting with your friends cracking jokes, this is the best way to relax during the summer. Two Australian men, Zach Stephenson and Billy Fleming, and their passion for music and beach trips have crafted the perfect music for these beach trips inside their simple and beautiful band, Hockey Dad.

Dreamin’ was their first EP which was warmly welcomed among the alternative and indie communities in 2014. A great sound for their first EP: fully of energy, bright guitars and gritty drums. After touring and a few singles during the past years, their new album Boronia is due to arrive August 12th.

In the spirit of summer time fun, they’ve already released a few singles and just yesterday a new music video for their newest single from the upcoming album which is appropriately called Jump The Gun. The track starts with an addicting string of notes from the guitar as the bass and drums hop in a bit after. Just like the video showing Stephenson and Fleming jumping in the glistening water to surf, the song brings the feeling of diving into the cool ocean water to you wherever you are. A perfect song that is as timeless as a sweet summer sunset. With such a relaxing and enveloping music video, it will make us all say to our daily responsibilities the lines of the chorus, “I don’t want to go home, I’m having too much fun…I don’t want to go home, so leave me alone.”

A superb addition to the repertoire of Hockey Dad’s summer surf songs that makes me all that more excited for Boronia later this month.

ARKELLS: MORNING REPORT
July 19, 2016 12:29 pm

Canadian rock band Arkells is representing Canucks everywhere exceptionally with their most recent songs Private School, Making Due and A Little Rainfrom their upcoming album Morning Report.

If you have’t heard this rock group, here’s a little background. Max Kerman, Mike DeAngelis, Nick Dika, Tim Oxford and Anthony Carone all met at McMaster University where they attended college. They named the band Arkells after Arkell Street which is where they all lived and honed their music craft together.

Since the band started in 2006 they have gone to climb the rock ladder, touring with bands such as Tokyo Police Club, The Postelles, X Ambassadors and Lights. Aside from the note-worthy bands they have toured with, they have independently earned their high rank status on the charts. Most recently, garnering awards such as the Juno Award for Group of the Year and Rock Album of the Year in 2015.

Below you can check out their most recent music video for “Private School” which features past artists they have worked with such as Lights, Dave Monks from Tokyo Police Club and Steve Jocz (from Sum 41..throwback!) who was also the director of the video.

Morning Report is due to drop on August 5th so, before you run over to the movie theater to see Suicide Squad, hop onto i-Tunes and download the album here.

DIVE INTO DIIV THIS SUMMER
July 14, 2016 11:12 am

diivAfter three and a half years of silence since the release of their first album Oshin, DIIV finally returned this February with Is The Is Are and stayed true to their shoe-gazey vibes. They’ve already toured around Europe earlier this year, now bringing their new tunes to fans all over the U.S. this summer. So what took them this long to get their new music out?

It’s really hard to write and record a double record when you’re playing all over the world and you’re getting on flights and driving around or whatever -says Zach, vocalist/guitarist of the band.

It’s a lot of work. They work you hard nowadays. You have to tour. That’s what you have to do. (Under The Radar)

Though this New York native band is pretty young in age (they formed in 2011), they’ve been through a hell of a ride through their musical and personal journeys. Remember when Zach Cole and Sky Ferreira were “arrested driving to a DIIV show in Cole’s unlicensed van, where they are found with heroin and ecstasy”? (NME). In addition to that, he cancelled his European tour and ditched his manager. People were starting to see DIIV as a bunch of guys who lived a ‘Rock n Roll lifestyle’ that spent a little too much time on drugs to make music and did whatever they want. Despite all the negative attention they got, they picked back up and continued to write their music as a band. But honestly, who cares if they’ve fucked up in the past when they came back with such a solid album?

It’s hard to know, sometimes, what draws people to the band. When people come up to me after the show and talk to me about the music itself, it makes me really happy because I’m like, “You’re not here for some weird reason. You’re here ’cause you listen to the music and you appreciate it and like it.” That’s what it’s all about for me, just the music. (Austin Chronicle)

The one thing this band does best is that no matter where you hear them – a record in your room, a small 100 person venue in Brooklyn, or an arena – they’ll always sound like DIIV.

The music’s designed so that we can play in a basement and sound great or play in a fucking arena and sound great. Like, we could go up onstage at a U2 show, punch the Edge in the face, steal his guitar and play on all the band’s gear, and we would still sound like DIIV. (Rolling Stone)

So go do yourself a favor and pick up their latest album Oshin to upgrade this summer with some beachy indie-rock tunes.

HINDS IS THE NEW STANDARD FOR INDIE ROCK
July 13, 2016 3:35 pm

Wow! Just, wow. HINDS is everything an indie rock band could ever dream to be. This indie rock band from Madrid is so powerfully raw that you’ll think they are the ones who created rock music.

Starting in 2011 as a duo doing primarily covers, Carlotta Cosials and Ana García Perrote built a small following with their strong vocals and guitars skills. After recruiting Ade Martin on bass and Amber Grimbergen on drums, the duo became an epic foursome of spirit and attitude for the indie rock scene.

Their first album, Leave Me Alone, came out January of this year full of smashing hits. There is something impressively simple and thoroughly amazing about this these four girls. I realized it sounds like they are the first people to ever pick up guitars and drums and sing at the same time. I mean this in the best way possible, as if they are the first ones to discover what rock music could be. Their style is all from them, no outside influences or pressures from the world, you hear these artists pour every ounce of their soul into every track. The guitars meld together on every song and their layering vocals are so sweet and driven by emotion, it’s addicting. I hope you can hear it the same way I do, and the more you listen, the more you see their raw talent and personality in every note.

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Their new music video for “Warts” is a punch in the face message about loving the wrong person and watching a train wreck of a relationship. The description in the video says, “have you ever seen a couple that shouldn’t be a couple? Have you ever seen your friend’s girlfriend’s warts before he does?…..She is gonna beat him bad, but he only hears parabarabaraba.” It has everything a indie rock band should have: style, originality and a sound that stay with you all day.

Enjoy this wonderfully bittersweet music video and check out the rest of the album Leave Me Alone, with songs like Bamboo, Warts, San Diego and Garden, you’ll never want to listen to anything else this summer.