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iPHONE 7 AND iPHONE 7 PLUS SWOOP IN WITH A LOAD OF NEW SPECS
September 7, 2016 6:35 pm

 

It’s that time of the year again, time for Apple to find a new way to take millions of dollars from the world. The iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus were announced and everyone is ready to throw these new products in the toilet. No, not because they are terrible, but with a list of new specs and upgrades, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus can brave even the roughest of storms.

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The newest and most important updates for both of them are as follows:

1) Water Resistant! If you leave it in a fish tank for a few days, I don’t think it will work but it can withstand a drop in the wiz-palace, the pool or a very rainy day.

2) The new Home Button will no longer be a click or touch base, but a hard touch to better distinguish between brushing over it and actually pressing it.

3) No Headphone Jack! This is a double edged sword. It promotes bluetooth use which is nice…sometimes. New AirPods wirless head phones will be coming in late October, but for now you’ll be using standard Bluetooth or an adapter for the lighting charge port that will allow you to plug in normal headphones.

4) A 12 Mega-Pixel Camera is pretty big to fit on a cell phone, but they do it somehow. Easily beats all other cameras on previous iPhones.

5) The new Black design will be the new fancy color only available for the 128G and 256G models while the other colors upon release will be Rose-Gold, Gold, Silver and Matte Black.

6) The New A10 processor will make your iPhone 5 look like it was from the 90’s.

7) Not an exclusive to the iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, iOS 10 will be arriving the 13th, so be prepared for a big update for all your other devices.

 

There are a vast amount of other upgrades in it that you can check out here. The iPhone 7 Plus will have a long lasting battery, larger screen and include a second out facing camera that will allow 2x analog zoom (which actually seems pretty awesome).

The iPhone 7 will be priced at $649 with 32G, $749 with 128G, and $849 with 256G of storage. The iPhone 7 Plus is obviously at a higher price because of the extra things: $769 with 32G, $869 with 128G, and $969 with 256G.

Pre-Orders will be available on the 9th and it will be released on the 16th of this month. Are you willing to shell out close to a thousand dollars for the newest, biggest and baddest iPhone? Will you turn in your old one and upgrade it that you’ll still have some money for food and rent this month? Let us know what you’ll be doing at @ATYPICALSOUNDS on Twitter.

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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SNAPCHAT: CURRENT THOUGHTS OF A GHOST
July 20, 2016 6:29 pm

A few years ago, a friend mentioned Snapchat to me as an app specifically purposed for sending and receiving naked pictures that immediately disappeared after the user viewed it. While I thought this was a great way to make it harder to store, share and publicly humiliate people who send nude photos of themselves to others, my genitalia is quite camera shy, so this was not for me. Only after being told that I could do other stuff on Snapchat by a much smarter friend did I enter the ghost world.

funny-snapchat-darth-phoneSoon after joining, I discovered just how fun Snapchat is, and with continuous improvements happening, it’s only gotten better. Their filters are frequently updated, unique, silly, and also allow the user to be creative with each one of them. As a proud recluse, the only reason why I’d even consider travelling the world is so I can see all the different geography based filters Snapchat has to offer in each city and town.

No other photo/video based app has those features nor can compete with the up-to-the-second spontaneity of the app. Whether it’s Vine or Instagram, a narrative arc seems necessary within each post in order to even legitimize its existence. With Instagram, it’s nearly taboo for somebody to post more than one image a day. Seriously, I’ve seen countless examples of people prefacing their post’s caption with an apology for sharing, god forbid, TWO photos in one day. Snapchat does not have this problem, all photos or videos that the user chooses to share get bundled up into the their “Story,” so there’s no timeline flooding to worry about. No apologies necessary.

In a surprising development, however, the app championed for its entertaining disposability has decided  to make a strong commitment to journalism. Over the past few updates, major media outlets and TV channels like Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, MTV and Comedy Central began popping up at the top of the “Stories” page featuring videos and articles made specifically for the app. At first, they were tiny little circles that were easy to ignore. Now, they’re bulkier rectangles demanding more attention. They’ve also added a new page labelled “Discover,” which is entirely dedicated to those outlets.

At first glance, this can certainly be taken as a blatant “fuck you” to the ghosts of Woodward and Bernstein (neither of them are dead), as well as the distinguished history of journalism as a whole. But if executed well, this wouldn’t be the first time an app created for inane intentions became a hosting ground for brilliant voices who may not have been discovered otherwise.

When Twitter began getting attention, Ashton Kutcher was the first master of the medium somehow. Yes, Ashton Kutcher. This can not be forgotten. He was the first to hit a million followers and it was actual news. Athletes like Charlie Villanueva and Gilbert Arenas used Twitter as an easier way to get in trouble instead of them having to risk a broken hand by going all the way to a nightclub and punching somebody in the face. As the site grew, smarter people began using it in smarter ways. Activists like Deray McKesson and Johnetta Elzie (or simply, @Deray and @Nettaaaaaaaa) used Twitter as a way to organize the Black Lives Matter movement. Comedy writers started getting book deals left and right. And as Twitter implemented new features, writers had better ways to expound on richer ideas incapable of being summed up in 140 characters.

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What worries me about Snapchat is how it doesn’t seem to be following the template of Twitter’s template. The potential is certainly there and the Story feature has already been well utilized during major events by prominent figures. The problem is that most of the notable examples of heavily followed Snapchat users are celebrities who were already famous to begin with. Snapchat did give DJ Khaled’s relevance a boost, however, the appeal of his snaps to begin with was that he wasn’t exactly starving for the boost to begin with.

Any good social media app worthy of its over inflated IPO obviously needs some celebrities, though. Just look at how well it worked out for Dane Cook and MySpace. The celebrity base is necessary. But aside from the famous folk and those aforementioned media outlets, there isn’t an easy way for a regular user be shown to a wider audience.

Ironically, this is what made the app such a sensation in the first place. The path Snapchat wants to take gives great hindrance to a user’s drawing power due to the privacy afforded to them. Standard features on social media simply can not be done at this present time because of this. There’s nothing comparable to a Re-Tweet, a Like, a Share, or a ‘Person You Should Follow’ feature. There isn’t even anything in place that allows someone who read and enjoyed a certain media outlet’s Snapchat article to follow the author’s personal account. And while Snapchat Live does show a collection of snaps by individual users pertaining to a major event, none of their usernames are shown there . It’s also kind of a mystery to me how someone gets featured on Snapchat Live in the first place.

Such a lack of accessibility to an organic, non-famous, user’s account really delivers a blow to the whole “social” aspect of Snapchat. The skeezy, yet well intentioned, foundation of Snapchat needs to be reconfigured in order to help make the voices who want heard on there can get exposure without Buzzfeed or Comedy Central press credentials. If left in its current state, there simply won’t be a high likelihood of there being Snapchat’s version of a Vine Star or Twitter Sensation, just a bunch of dicks with dog ears.

VIRTUAL REALITY CADDIE NEVER SOUNDED SO GOOD
June 28, 2016 1:10 pm

Virtual Reality, the newest entertainment outlet, is going again to the U.S. Open this year. NextVR is helping bring the green grass and polo shirts to the homes of its viewers in a way that can only be appreciated by experiencing it yourself.

Virtual Reality is an amazing thing. For the years that VR has been available, I never was impressed with it, never appearing to be anything more than cool gimmick. Just like 3D TV’s or motion controls for games, I thought VR would come and go. But I was/am so wrong.

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I got the chance to try out the HTC Vive and it was absolutely incredible. Hight felt real as I stood up 20 feet above the ground and objects felt tangible as they would appear closer and further away. The world seemed real and the culmination of HD graphics, motion controls and 3D really made the experience one of a kind. If you haven’t tried out VR yet, you need to check it out as soon as possible. Go to a tech demo, a Best Buy if they have it, or find a friend who has it and get under the goggles for at least an hour, the level entertainment value is quite impressive. 

With three major options, HTC Vive, Playstation VR and Oculus Rift, each ranging from $400 to $800 (not including the game system or computer), the price for such a novelty can be steep to say the least. Although, this is the case for all new technology, the LCD TV I have now was originally $1,600 dollars 10 years ago and today I could buy something 12 inches larger with 4K resolution for $1,400. So yes, VR is expensive now, but good things come to those who wait.

The U.S. Open this year is not totally in VR, only a few holes for a couple of days were captured and broadcast this way. But just being there, closer to the player and seeing the environment they see while they play is a treat in it own.

As VR drops in price and has more content, it will become a household staple. It won’t replace TV or movies, but watching sports and video games will be amazing in years to come. Even though golf lovers and sports enthusiasts will get a kick out of VR Golf, it will take years before it hits any significant market or demographic.

Here is a bit from BBC last year about NextVR:

AQUASONIC AND THEIR BEAUTIFULLY CREEPY MUSIC
June 8, 2016 12:17 pm

I’ll say it right now, this band is pretty amazing. I don’t care how weird or eerie their music sounds, they are super creative and deserve recognition. Also, I know that a lot of videos say “use headphones or loud speakers to feel the full effect.” Don’t ignore it this time, DO IT! Honestly you won’t get much out of this if you don’t, and it’s well worth it.

Between Music is the music company/group based in Denmark that produces this underwater concert called AquaSonic. The act itself has been in the works since 2006 with a huge number of people working on a band that plays entirely underwater. With custom instruments made (a lot of them), discovering new ways to sing underwater (inside an air bubble held in one’s mouth), ways to record the music underwater….the list goes on and I’m seriously impressed they can get it all functioning at once to be honest. Between Music has been researching for years how to create a magical way of playing music underwater. Check out their history section to see the enormous amount of work that has been put into their underwater concert.

Their debut concert was actually a little over a week ago, May 27th in Rotterdam, Holland. They caught the attention of various media groups like NowThis and the BBC. As of now, they don’t have any upcoming tour dates that I could find so if you want to see them, it might be a while unfortunately.

AquaSonic is actually the first of a four part series that Between Music is producing. The quadrology is called Human Evolution, and without question water is the first step of (hu)man’s life, an interesting concept to say the least and well represented by AquaSonic in my opinion.

If all else fails, any horror movie with an underwater theme could talk to AquaSonic for a hypnotic and haunting soundtrack. If Saw 8 ever happened, their only path to take would be a shattered submarine, with accompaniment. Love it or hate it, either way, you can’t deny the powerful waves of sound that come from AquaSonic, a truly impressive work of art.

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THE KILLS: WHEN DOING IT TO DEATH IS A GOOD THING
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.

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TO ERR IS HUMAN; TO YAK, DIVINE
April 4, 2016 2:23 pm

Yak is a difficult band to describe faithfully. Their performances, and even conversations with the band, are kind of like watching the big bang happen—a tiny, tense mass of energy that begins to explode, and then grows exponentially. I still have glass in the treads of my shoes from their Wednesday show at Berlin NYC.

Earlier that night, ATYPICAL SOUNDS sat down with Oli Burslem (vocals/guitar), Leo Kurunis (bass), and Elliot Rawson (drums) to talk sense and nonsense.

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Photo by Sasha Maese

You played last night at Saint Vitus, the metal bar.

OB: It was greeeat.

LK: I liked it. It was a bit of a scuzzy rock venue.

Is this your first time in New York?

ER: We came over last year, we did CMJ. We did Mercury Lounge and Elvis Guesthouse. Elvis Guesthouse was cool, it felt like we were in a sauna.

You just came from SXSW, as well. How many shows did you do?

ER: Six, I think. Six in two days?

OB: I would say “half a baker’s dozen”.

Six? Seven? Six-and-a-half?

OB: You know what? Six-and-a-half, that’s good, because one of them wasn’t at a venue. Cause we did one on a balcony.

LK: Or, we did one song on one stage and then moved our gear to another stage and did a set. So I think it’s definitely half a gig on that one.

OB: Lots of people said it was going to be really hard or whatever, but it was such a great, carnal, atmosphere. And we don’t have much gear, keyboard went out the window…

Literally?

OB: Yeah, sure. It was clammy, it was sweaty. It was so good, it was hot. It was saucy.

Also, a concentrated area of people, I’m not a big fan of musicians to be honest with you, or people in the music business, so you think it was going to be a horrible time. But everyone behaved themselves.

Outside of the industry people, who probably don’t want to be there anyway, it’s people who love music.

OB: I don’t dislike them, but it’s a different vibe. If you get a load of industry people, it’s like “Ok, let’s check these guys out,” and you’ve got a lot of chin-stroking. When I started playing music, it was down at a pub on a Monday night. And that’s the kind of music I like playing. It’s just like people and low-grade budget entertainment. But I really enjoyed it, and Austin was great.

Did you see any bands there you liked?

OB: Thee Oh Sees I’ve wanted to check out for a long time. So that was good, and we wanted to go see stuff, but we hit a bar afterwards, and you meet some guys, locals. And we were just having a good time. So we probably could’ve seen Iggy and everyone we wanted to see, but I was talking to a guy, and he said he had a gun, so I was trying to get him to shoot. I said “Can you shoot me?” but he didn’t have the gun.

You just released your video for “Harbour The Feeling” as well. Was it your idea to do a music video?

OB: Everyone was on a hiatus, and I was the only one left in London. And we released some live videos, but we got bored of that. So we sat around at a pub with my mate who shot it, Ben [Crook], who’s a wicked guy, and we were there for like three hours. And we got to the part where we went “Oh, we could drive a car through a desert”. So we got all these things, and we got to the end and it was like, “We shouldn’t do a video”, it’s a waste of money, and we don’t have an idea, and no band members.

And then a few days later, we were like “Bucking yak! That’s hilarious.” And then we built the Yak [sign]. We got up at five in the morning, drove to south London to find the bulbs, and then I couldn’t find the thing, so I went to north London. I spent the whole day driving around, I was like “Wow, this is being in a band. Finding bulbs.” And then we spent a whole day wiring it up with our friend Levi who built all the pedals. And it took a day to do it all. But it was like the best feeling ever. We just plugged in and turned on, and it was like “Ahh.” This is what it feels like to be a functioning human being. Being in a band is like…sometimes it’s great, I’m not complaining, but you’re not directly helping anyone.

You are, though.

OB: You maybe are, it’s just like…

ER: He wants to be a nurse.

OB: I want to be a nurse, yeah. Just something that makes me feel good.

You go to a town, you get pissed, you feel guilty about it, you go to a museum, you relieve the guilt, you go to a bar. You go to the bar, you wake up feeling really bad, you go see the Statue of Liberty, you go to a museum, you feel better. That’s why in Amsterdam, that’s why the Van Gogh museum is always packed, full of like people eating mushrooms.

Is it a lot of tourists?

OB: It’s people with a lot of guilt inside them. They need to relieve it and then get back to the bar.

So art is something you do to relieve guilt?

OB: Yep. And being generous as well. I’m only being facetious. I don’t really believe that.

I’ve read two of you were selling curiosities before you were in the band [Oli gestures to himself and Leo]. Where were you finding that stuff?

[A/N: I realized after this interview that it was actually Oli and original bassist Andy Jones who were the curiosities dealers. So Oli and Leo could’ve been fucking with me.]

OB: That would be giving away trade secrets.

LK: We’re not really allowed to say.

Are you going through the garbage at weird, old mansions?

OB: Anywhere you feel, really.

LK: My mother does it for a living, and she has her own shop. You had your own shop as well, didn’t you?

OB: Not technically.

LK: You didn’t, did you?

ER: You don’t know who’s listening.

OB: Basically, I had loads of jobs, then I was lucky enough to get a van. So I started going to auctions and buying stuff, and then selling it. A glorified van man. But I enjoyed it, I like that.

LK: There’s a good buzz to it.

OB: It’s not even a money thing sometimes. It’s just like, I had a space and every week I’d change it into something else. And I liked that. It’s just like music. If you walk down the street, and you see people walking slightly different, it’s the same with this kind of stuff. You can dress it differently.

We went to a museum yesterday in Philadelphia.

The Mütter Museum?

OB: Yeah, and everyone’s body language was like this [he mimes someone looking guarded, hands folded over his chest]. Cause everyone was so uncomfortable. I was more interested in the people that were alive, to be honest, than the ones who were dead.

If you’re working in antiques, some of that stuff is probably really dirty.

LK: It’s a nice trade, it’s a good trade to be in, and how many people you meet in it as well. There’s some really funny characters, they’re so far out of society, some of them. Lots of funny people with lots of different histories.

OB: There could be a man and his wife, and they could be millionaires, but they’d also be homeless. It’s a big hustle. I like the sales that aren’t on the internet. Like someone would be deceased, and all of their belongings would be at an estate sale. So you’d be looking through loads of books and then you get a book and you go “Ah, hang on, that’s an interesting book to have”, and then I’d go to the auctioneer and ask which furniture the [deceased] guy had. And then I’d buy like books, and books, and books, and everything I was obsessed with if the guy seemed cool. So I’d just buy all of it, and I’d sit until four in the morning, just going through it all. Just going, “Oh wow, he was Jewish, he was a doctor, and he was into industrial furniture.” And in my head I was picturing this guy. I don’t know it sounds mental.

Do you prefer photo albums over other kinds of books?

OB: I’m pretty illiterate, so…well I’m not illiterate, but…I, uh, yeah.

You’re doing four dates with The Last Shadow Puppets in April. Were you freaking out when you got the gig? Are you big Arctic Monkeys fans?

ER: It’s just another gig, really.

OB: [Speaking in a robotic voice] It’s a great gig, and we’re really honored, and pleasured, and in such awe to be able to have the opportunity, and we’re really happy to do that.To be in front of all the people who have gone to see a great band as The Last Shadow Puppets.

Is there a band you dream about being able to tour with?

OB: Well, if it isn’t The Last Shadow Puppets, it would probably be the Arctic Monkeys.

Did you have a falling out with Alex [Turner]?

OB: I actually had a nice night with Alex, and he was a gentleman. He invited us around to his house, and he was a pleasure, he gave me a drink, and we had a good chat. And he’s a talented man. There’s not that many rock stars that can exist anymore, people come and they go, and there’s this level at the top, and he’s managed to secure himself there. And rightly so, I think. His lyrics are good, and he’s got money and he’s doing it and doing the rock star thing. And why not?

And I can’t wait to get out there and play some shows, and I hope we do them proud.

Your first album is coming out in May as well. Is there anything you’d like people to know before they listen to it?

OB: It’s probably the most important album of the last ten years, guitar-music wise, from England. It’s the most important album to come out of the suburbs of Wolverhampton for the last five years.

What other bands are from Wolverhampton?

OB: Slade, Babylon Zoo, Robert Plant, Killing Joke‘s bass player [Paul] Raven. There’s quite a lot. I feel quite proud of being from the Midlands. I mean, I was born in Wolverhampton, and have family from there, but I lived in the suburbs seven miles out. There’s something quite nice about being from there, I’m quite proud of it. But I don’t really belong anywhere, really. Like everyone else.

I’m from the suburbs of New York, but I couldn’t wait to get out. I found it suffocating.

OB: I think it’s just a part of growing up.

ER: When you’re growing up in New York City, you’re just thinking you want to get out of New York City. I’m the same, from New Zealand. Everyone’s like “Oh, New Zealand’s beautiful.” Yeah, fucking beautiful, but look at me. Look at me. Have you seen me play? Look at me. LOOK AT ME.

[Everyone laughs]

Sorry, I’m losing the plot here. [Pause] Imagine if I had no face.

That would be scary. Like that woman that got her face ripped off by a chimp.

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Photo by Sasha Maese

You’re all based in London now, right?

OB: It’s great. It’s great for modeling.

Do you model?

OB: Yeah, I can’t wait to do more. I know Elliot’s really keen on me doing it. You know what, what’s the point? What’s the fucking point?

Of modeling? Of anything?

OB: There’s no romance, we are shit, and it’s all a fucking joke. [He giggles]

You’re doing pretty well.

OB: It’s bullshit, and we won’t be long in this house. I cannot stand being in a band with him [gestures towards Leo] and him [gestures towards Elliot].

How long have you been on the road so far?

OB: Two weeks [they all laugh uproariously]. I just wanna get naked. Not physically. Mentally. You know what? I don’t even know why we are doing this. We’re not getting paid.

I’m not getting paid.

OB: And I don’t love it [they continue to laugh]. Nah, I do. I don’t know. I think I’m just tired.

A friend and I are going to be in London in July. What should we do while we’re there?

OB: Come visit us.

LK: We’re going to interview you.

I’m not that interesting.

LK: You are, Sasha. Everybody’s interesting. Everyone’s got something to say.

Actually, after this, I want to go talk to that other Sasha I met earlier. I don’t meet other Sashas too often.

ER: He’s a nice guy. I’ve known him from New Zealand for 15 years.

He’s from New Zealand too?

ER: Yeah, he’s a good dude.

Did you hear Flight of the Conchords are coming here? They’re doing two dates. The first one sold out as soon as the tickets went on sale.

ER: Americans love Flight of the Conchords. It was always on American TV, wasn’t it?

It was.

ER: They were a proper band, like a comedy band, for years before their TV show.

And Bret was in that ukulele orchestra, as well.

ER: They’re both really good musicians. They really cashed in on the TV thing.

Do you guys have any songs you look forward to performing the most?

OB: The idea of the set is pretty loose, so we kind of do a different version of a song every night. I look forward to playing them all, and sometimes we’ll do something we haven’t done before, and that’s the bits where it really gets me excited about wanting to do music.

LK: Making it changeable.

OB: That’s probably the reason why we do it.

You must need to work pretty closely to improvise like that.

OB: It’s quite a boring genre, rock and roll is not complicated. No one can really explain it, because it’s so simple.

What is your average number of chords used per song?

OB: More than three. I like it simple, but there’s a thing about guitar, bass, drums, and we’ve been on all the records. Disregarded all of them, disregarded the drum kit on the recording, just played the shells, disregarded the bass in one song and just did feedback, disregarded the guitar and just hit it. It’s about energy, I think. All these things we can flip so it’ll be a new song.

Does that go along with your feeling that art produces relief?

OB: I don’t think our band has anything to do with art. I think music is quite low-grade, it’s like beans.

You’d be amazed at what passes for art.

OB: I know, but when bands get into that territory, it makes me feel…I like the bands that are like, “Let’s get the denim on. Let’s get out there and play some gigs.” And it’s just entertainment. People go to the cinema, the casino, the pub, or they could see a band. And that’s the level we’re working at. I don’t think there will ever be a band again that will work like the Beatles, changing society. It’s like a carwash, cleans your car; a band should make you feel excited and on edge.

When you first got into playing music, was there a musician or band you really wanted to be like?

OB: Start at the top. And I thought when I was six, I would be like Elvis but bigger. And then I thought the Beatles. And then it just goes down and down, and you end up at the bottom. And then you work yourself back up. “I’m just gonna be a cool band in London.” I’m not even that cool. And then you drop. And you put Fun House by The Stooges on and you go “Well that’s just fucking good, isn’t it? Why don’t I just do that?”. I listened to that when I was 14 and then you go up. I don’t know where I’m at now.

I think it’s also hard to be creative in London because it’s such an expensive city to be in.

OB: I got there when I was 17, so that’s quite a long time ago. And I was doing loads of jobs, but it’s character building and I couldn’t write the songs I did then, now. I was just hungry to be in a band, I didn’t know why. But now, it feels like an expression of that struggle. And we’ve had a lot of help along the way from people in bands. We’ve had a lot of help, and this hasn’t just come about by us being a good band.

Is there anything you do to prepare for life on the road? Is touring hard for you?

ER: It’s fucking easy. Not easy, but we’ve all worked jobs that sucked.

LK: I’m sick of working jobs for people that I hate.

ER: But we’ve all had shit jobs.

LK: We absolutely love this. I don’t care about sleepless nights, we’d still get up and do it and play.

ER: It’s not going to last forever. When the wheels fall off, they fall off, and we’ll go back to doing other jobs.

OB: The only thing we could do with our skillset would be coffin bearers. We could carry stuff, and we’re emotionally discharged. So we could be hauling out corpses.

LK: I bet you can’t name a good, simple, rock and roll band that’s not outstayed their welcome. It’s the careerists that get it wrong. My idea is that we go hit it hard as we can, and then retire and be happy people and not have anything to do with this. I don’t want to be famous or anything like that. And all the bands that we like, I think, have a good period of intensity. And that feeling, I think, bands miss it.

What if you get to the point where you are famous and you try to go somewhere and people are freaking out?

OB: It doesn’t happen. See this is a myth that everyone always talks about. The bands will never be like that again.

The 1975 has kind of turned into that.

OB: Yeah, but he has to look himself in the mirror every day. He’s gonna have depression. I hope he’s got a lot of money, because he’ll need a lot of counseling.

Do you guys have any last words before you perform tonight?

[Their tour manager walks over]

Tour Manager: Hey, sorry, it’s time.

ER: America’s been great, we’re really happy to be here, we want to come back.

LK: We love it, and we love you, and…

OB: It’s been brilliant. It’s…just music.

It’s everything.

PROTOMARTYR BRING MOTOR CITY POST-PUNK CHOPS TO UNDERGROUND ARTS
February 17, 2016 11:00 am

Last Friday, February 12th, Detroit post-punk outfit Protomartyr performed at Philly’s Underground Arts in support of their critically acclaimed record The Agent Intellect, their second release via Hardly Art.  It was a frosty evening, but the intensifying snowfall did little to deter a boisterous crowd from cramming into the dimly lit venue.

First on the evening’s bill was Taiwan Housing Project, a local Philly noise rock band that pays homage to ‘No Wave’ provocateurs before them such as  Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. The band features both screeching saxophone bursts reminiscent of James Chance noise experiments as well as lead singer Kilynn Lunsford’s devastating howl, who also strikes an uncanny resemblance to a young Lydia Lunch.   Their sound is an excruciating blanket of atonality and dissonance. Their debut Taiwan Bulding Project 7″ EP is available via M’Lady Records.

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Next in line, hailing from D.C., was Priests, a four-piece “Real Life Non Internet Band” that combine psychobilly antics of The Cramps with a relentless tension and grit of punk. The formation of a mosh pit almost immediately commenced upon Priests taking the stage. Cans of beer began to fly overhead.  Audience members, perhaps uninitiated to the more visceral edge of live punk performance, showed visible distress and disorientation. It was chaotic, experiential, it was, “real life non internet.” Their debut EP Bodies and Control and Money and Power is available via Sister Polygon Records.

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Protomartyr closed the evening’s festivities with their smart and gloomy brand garage rock. Songs like “I Forgive You” kept the crowds on their feet with the off-kilter post-punk grooves of Greg Ahee’s impeccable angular guitar hooks and Alex Leonard’s precise drum execution. Front-man Joe Casey was in signature dapper attire as he shared disparaging tales of a crumbling Motor City necropolis in his somber baritone. The performance was an immaculate reproduction of their record, rewarding avid listeners with a near-complete track list of The Agent Intellect, along with a selection of other select tunes from previous output.

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A NIGHT OH WONDER AT THE BOWERY BALLROOM
February 1, 2016 12:05 am

The Beasts were out last Friday night to witness the brilliance of our indie friends from across the pond; Oh Wonder, the highly acclaimed and widely talked about indie synth-pop act out of London. Opening the night was Pop Etc., a well respected pop indie outfit themselves, having toured with the likes of Broken Bells, Grizzly Bear, The Kooks and more.

Pop Etc. drew a “sophisticated” crowd of college types and future grad school students, yet their set expressed a sound rooted in punk anthems that have been deconstructed and reassembled as synth based pop songs. The show marked the debut and release date of their new album Souvenir. A high point in the set was a perfectly tempered version of the Tears For Fears classic “Mad World.”

By the time Oh Wonder took the stage, the ballroom was filled to capacity with a slightly older and more culturally hip crowd. Despite the tightly packed conditions, Oh Wonder’s music brought a lightness and fluidity to the crowd. The first song set the tone for a heartfelt night, fueled by the distinct energy that only New York City nightlife can provide. The songs touched upon the delicate emotions of love and navigating this world as a young adult.

Oh Wonder, fronted by Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht, created an impressive buzz in the music world over the past year by releasing one single every month beginning September of 2015. These releases eventually accumulated into their debut self-titled album, which they have since performed on tour internationally. The unorthodox independent release granted them the recognition of millions of listeners on Soundcloud and a contract with major label subsidiary Caroline Records. Even the grand master of pop music himself, Rick Rubin, proclaimed to be a devoted fan.

Despite the highly polished electric sound of the album, Oh Wonder’s live set translates really well acoustically and shows no doubt of true musicianship and aesthetic genius. Each song has been written, recorded and engineered by Anthony and Josephine themselves out of their London-based studio.

Their trans-continental tour picks back up in Europe, starting off in Paris on February 26th, along with plenty of North American shows beginning in May at Sasquatch! Music Festival. If you get a chance to see them live, don’t miss out on this rising act of genuine pop music, that is so full of wonder.

 

CHALAXY AND FRIENDS BLAST OFF AT BASEMENT EAST
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.