soundcloud

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.

 

ARTIST OF THE MONTH: GRACE JOYNER, CHARLESTON’S WOOZY FOLK SONGSTRESS
August 5, 2016 12:45 pm

Grace Joyner, the Ashville-via-Charleston electronic-folk songstress is our August Artist of the Month. Hers is a story of reckless abandon, picking yourself up when you’re down, and chasing the dream to the end of the earth (which so far is a distance that spans from the Carolina coast to the outskirts of Kentucky). Nonetheless, Joyner’s voyage wouldn’t have even been possible if it weren’t for the pack of boundlessly collaborative strays known as Hearts & Plugs.  We’re going to talk about them too, but first, let me lure you in with a little bit of old fashioned dialogue:

0007479868_10

 “Yoooo, Joe!”
“Oh, what’s up Zimmerman?”
“So…you know Johnnie?”
“Yeah man, me and Johnnie are real tight.”
“Dude, you should come out this Friday”
“Word, yeah”
“Let me text Dan”
“Dan?”
“Yeah, you know, Jenkin’s friend”
“Oh, he’s friends with Jordan too I think”

If you’re an aspiring musician you’ve been part of that ‘crew’ before. You know exactly what I’m talking about.  That group of friends that think they’re going to start a band, travel across the country in a minivan, and upend our entire social infrastructure. Maybe you meet in a basement, or perhaps a front porch.  There’s no formal membership, no secret handshake. While you’re far from new age cult status, certain vestiges of hippy culture might seep in occasionally. Countless students have formed similar cadres. Why? Because they want to live in the moment. Be a part of the bonfire jam sessions that catapult musical revolutions. Discover new forms of sonic expression and collectively explore the universe together to make sense of its stellar enormity.

The thing is, occasionally, one of these slacker collectives actually sees it through to the other side. Occasionally, hipsters mobilize. Word spreads and they start to pick up steam. They score gigs, sell out local venues, generate revenue, invest in better equipment, chip in for a recording studio, and before you know it, are a permanent fixture in the local music landscape.

Hearts & Plugs is one of these collectives.  Based in sun-scorched Charleston, South Carolina, Hearts & Plugs is a burgeoning music label built around an intimate nexus of friends that were probably jamming on someone’s porch not too long ago.  They’ve since amassed a steady following thanks to a robust roster of folk-centric indie pop acts oozing with creative juices.

Front and center of the operation is founder and director Dan McCurry. He brings with him a breadth of business savvy accumulated from past business experiences; both the ups and the downs. The label started out of necessity when his own band, Run Dan Run, needed a new home to record their sophomore album.  As such, they recorded Normal in 2011, Hearts & Plugs first official release. Hearts & Plugs’ in-house recording studio is operated by Wolfgang Zimmerman, who also plays the drums for Brave Baby. The sleek psych-pop outlet is also one of the label’s rising stars, having garnered critical praise for their sophomore release Electric Friends—think Arcade Fire in scope, sonically akin to Tame Impala, with a rugged southern twang. Other noteworthy members include alt-country rockers SUSTO, and doo-wop post-punkers Gold Light, and many more. Almost every act on the Hearts & Plugs team is a collaborative affair of interspersing band members.  At some point while contributing backing harmonies, Grace Joyner joined the mix.

1890579_678463748861971_1916685890_o

It didn’t take long for Grace Joyner’s woozy yet robust vocal palate to get noticed.  Her first solo recording came in the form of Young Fools—fleeting and vulnerable songs culled from emotional pangs of successes, failures, trials, tribulations, ambition, and regret.  Exemplified by tracks such as “Be Good” and “Young Thing”, the EP effectively captures Joyner’s essence, drawing comparisons to other strong female voices such as Kate Bush and Lana Del Rey.

Two years of relentless gigging and creative musing, Joyner was ready to record her debut full-length album.  Maybe Sometimes in C is a vibrantly colored folk symphony that showcases both Grace’s impressive vocals coated in an immersive synth backdrop.  Maybe Sometimes in C allowed Grace further opportunities to hit the road and expand her reach, recently touring through the Carolinas and Kentucky with Gold Light in support of their album Visions.

I got the chance to ask Grace Joyner a few questions about her recent creative pursuits, about living in Charleston and collaborating with Hearts & Plugs, and what’s next on the docket.  Check it out:

Q: You’re a Charleston gal, a city which–although certainly known for being a great travel destination—it’s also a city with a jam-packed music scene, does Charleston feel underrated to you at all?

A: The Charleston music scene has been rapidly growing in the last couple years thanks to Dan and Hearts & Plugs, along with some amazing venues, such as The Royal American. Throughout that growing process, I believe it has been getting the recognition it deserves. There are a lot of amazing musicians there, and we have all been working together to get Charleston on the map for music. I really think it is starting to get there.

Q: Speaking of, it would be hard to find a group of musicians more passionate about and gunning harder for a music scene than Hearts and Plugs.  How’s it been working with them?

A: It has been truly inspiring to see Hearts & plugs develop into what it is now. It is such an example of what a good idea can become if you combine it with hard work. Dan is an amazing visionary and I am very thankful to be a part of what him & Megan are doing.

Q: I’m try to pin down the Charleston music vibe—there are lots of artists, lots of musicians, so it’s impossible to boil it down completely—but what’s separating Charleston from another large music scene in the vicinity, like say, Asheville or Carrboro?  

A: Something about the Charleston music scene that I think is very special is the sense of community. We really are a family. We all collaborate all the time and are constantly supporting one another. Some of us have known each other for nearly a decade. We have maintained such a comfortable creative space, and I think that is what sets us apart.

Q: Speaking of Asheville, you were recently on the road with you were recently on the road with Gold Light, they seem like a fun crowd—and it looks like you hit up some cool places—how was that tour overall?

A: The tour was magical. Joe, from Gold Light, contacted me a couple months ago with the idea of collaborating and doing a short run together. I don’t think either of us were expecting it to go so smoothly and seem so natural. The band we had with us were such a great group of people and at almost every spot we hit we had these serendipitous moments. Everything fell into place on that tour, and we are about to start working on another one with the same group. Hopefully the details will be worked out in the next couple weeks.

1796456_678708225504190_1511160537_n

Q: I didn’t realize the album cover for Maybe Something in C was a cropped photo of you in a bathtub filled with some kind of dark blue liquid–what was the story behind that photo?  Who took it?

A: So that was an idea I had, and we just kind of went with it to be honest. My roommate Keex took the photo in my bathroom. We used a blue bath bomb to get the coloring. I just thought the image was interesting. My bathroom has this mundane vibe to it, and I thought adding a romantic contrast would turn out well.

Q: So is Maybe Sometimes in C, actually in the key of C?  Or are you riffing off of a completely different reference and I’m just completely missing it?

A: No you are pretty much on point. There was a running joke with my producer, Wolfgang Zimmerman, about how often songs are in C. It is easy for me to write in that key, so he was always teasing me about changing it up. Of course they are not all in C, but it is a reference to that. Also there is a line in the first track, “I’m not crazy, or maybe sometimes…” It has to do with recognizing value even when there are faults.

Q: I saw an Instagram pic of Hug O’ War, were you a big Shel Silverstein fan growing up?  Has his poetry snuck itself into your lyrics at all?

A: I LOVE Shel Silverstein. Hmm…that is a good question though. I think I resonate with a lot of themes he plays around with, but I can’t pinpoint any direct lyric references. My favorite poem of his is “The Perfect High.”

Q: There’s another pic of The Velvet Underground performed by ET Anderson & Grace Joyner?  Seriously?  That’s the coolest thing ever!  

A: That was an awesome night. ET Anderson let me join in for a Velvet Underground cover set for an event as Nico. I was honored. It was so fun.

Q: I saw you also posted a Tina meme, are you a big fan of Bob’s burgers?  Is there a particular burger joint in Charleston we should be aware of?

A: Wow I am so impressed. You have done so much research. I am a fan of Bob’s Burgers, but to be honest I don’t eat a lot of burgers… I will say Moe’s Crosstown has amazing brunch & I hear they have great burgers so that is what I am going to go with for this question.

Q: I’m a North Carolina guy myself–I was glad to see your allegiance to the Carolina Panthers, did you enjoy watching them kick ass last year?  Are you excited for the season to kick off again?

A: My family is from North Carolina so I grew up a fan of the Panthers. Watching them kick ass last season was so fun. Cam is such a babe. I am sure we will kill it this season.

10952889_864459006929110_1146771936947114845_o

Q: Last one—this is all you—what’s up next for Grace Joyner?  Any new projects on the horizon?  Cool collaborations?  Hitting up the recording studio anytime soon?  When’s your next show?  When are people not from below the Mason Dixon line going to see Grace Joyner live?

A: We have a little run in Columbia & Charleston the weekend of 8.19-8.20. Then we have some other Carolina shows coming up in the next couple months. Currently about to start planning another tour with Gold Light for the Fall & we are working on extending our reach! I haven’t had a whole lot of writing inspiration until recently. So many ideas are rolling around in my head & I am just about ready to start working through them. I expect a good amount of new songs on the horizon, and soon after that it will be in the works to get them out.

Hearts & Plugs is an excellent source of fresh musical discovery, and even though I’ve listened through more than a handful of their artists this week, I feel like I’m just scratching the surface.  They’ve put a lot of work into honing their craft. More importantly though, their label is a guiding light post for the bold, the artistically curious, poetically odd, and all around atypical.  We’re eager for more!

Until next time, check out the label’s awesome spread of merch as well as their Summer Essentials playlist, below!

SOUNDCLOUD GO SUCKS
April 19, 2016 9:00 am

Don’t get me wrong–Soundcloud kicks ass. It’s got most of the big names you need and all these remixes and obscure random stuff you can’t get anywhere else. Tons of it. Way more than anybody else. Go look for yourself, just click around for awhile. The Berlin-based company claims users upload twelve hours of content every minute. Most of it’s pretty good, to be honest. That’s why it supplements your pay-to-play service(s) so well, just by sheer quantitative force. Well, and also because it’s free.

But now here they are trying to make you pay for “premium” content. What the heck are you talking about, Soundcloud?! Get outta here with this bullshit! Whatever “exclusive” content you’ll withhold from free users is a drop in the bucket compared to what you’ve already established. You can’t take that away from us, Soundcloud. Anyone and their grandmother can upload anything they want any day of the week, that’s the best part. You can’t stop me from enjoying all the juicy, public goodness of free, user-created content, and you have nothing to offer that more established music-streaming services don’t provide already. Soundcloud Go is a bad idea, and nobody should use it.

Just my two cents #ChaChing

WILDCAT! WILDCAT! HEAD STRAIGHT TO THE TOP
March 25, 2016 10:35 am

Wildcat! Wildcat! are back with their newest jam “Straight To The Top“.  Those familiar with Jesse Taylor and Jesse Carmichael’s signature mix of dueling falsetto melodies and tightly packed layers of synth and percussion are in for a treat. The duo’s wide vocal range and colossal sound is befitting of a song that dabbles with themes of perseverance and determination. We at ATYPICALSOUNDS agree: you’ve got to be a beast to get to the top.

Wildcat! Wildcat! emerged in 2012 with a string of infectious singles. 2013 saw the release of their self-titled EP via Downtown Records, and included the sensational tune “Mr. Quiche“, the accompanying video to which features a guy break-dancing in a cat costume. What more could you ask for, really? Wildcat! Wildcat! released their debut full-length No Moon At all in 2014 followed by an extensive world tour. One can only imagine how exhausted they were after that marathon of events, so it’s perfectly justifiable we haven’t heard from them in a minute.

Unfortunately, Wildcat! Wildcat! doesn’t seem to have any live gigs lined up at the moment, which means you wont be seeing them at any music fests this summer.  Worry not though.  Keep an eye out for new singles, as word on the streets is they have been busy in the studio piecing together new material, meaning there’s more on the way soon.  In the meantime, their entire catalog is available via their SoundCloud.  Check out the new single in all of it’s glory below.

SXSW SPOTLIGHT ON: NEW MYTHS
March 16, 2016 11:51 am

“We are an all-girl electronic power trio”

Occasionally it’s just easier to let a band introduce themselves.  Drummer, percussionist, and backing vocalist Rosie Slater couldn’t have summed it up better in an article featured in Modern Drummer Magazine.

Post-Punk revivalists New Myths follow a deep tradition of New York underground rockers that have payed sonic homage to their music idols while offering their own sleek iteration. You can make easy comparison’s to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who introduced a new indie-obsessed generation to the icy shriek of Siouxsie Sioux, or Interpol’s metro-polished take on Joy Division’s Ian Curtis.  New Myths’ guitarist and lead-singer Brit Boras summons the haunting vocal muse of Blondie, but injects it with grungy guitar-pop more akin to Paramore.

 

??CMJ day 4! Today were playing @ @rockwoodmusichall @ noon & @thedelancey [downstairs] @ 2:15pm! thanks again to @melismaticdiva for the GIF! @pancakesandwhiskey @atypicalsounds #cmj2015 #cmjmusicmarathon #cmjmusicfestival #newmyths #melismaticblog #thedelanceynyc #rockwoodmusichall #nyc

Posted by New Myths on Friday, October 16, 2015

New Myths quickly gained traction in 2013 after an endorsement by the late Lou Reed. The legendary Velvet Underground singer-songwriter/noise-rock-pioneer hand-picked “False Gold” off of New Myths self-titled debut EP and showcased the track on XM Radio syndicated “Lou Reed’s New York Shuffle”.  When New Myths convened a year later to record their full-length Give Me Noise, they were fortunate to collaborate with veteran producer Seth Glassman, who’s worked side by side with Paul McCartney, James Brown, Elvis Costello, and many others. You can check out the bulk of New Myths music on their SoundCloud.

We’re excited to announce that New Myths will be performing at our very own ATYPICALSOUNDS SXSW Day Party this Friday, March 18th, at Darwin’s Pub. We’ll see you there!

PALMAS: INTO THE VALLEY
February 22, 2016 11:39 pm

Friday night I went over to Union Pool to interview Palmas and see their show. I was first greeted by Matt Young (guitarist) and Kurt Cain (vocalist), and both greeted me with immense smiles and vibrant energy. Soon after, Pat Degan (drummer) and Eric Camarota (guitarist) joined passing jokes at each other as they approached. Within a minute of meeting Pat, he exclaims, “I just took the roughest shot of tequila of my life.” Lastly, came Adam Cantiello (guitarist) savagely stuffing his face with elote. Kurt jokingly yells at him, “There’s a lady present, geez, no shame.” OH, by the way, if you were wondering what elote is, it’s corn with mayonnaise and chili powder aka one of the best foods in the world….. but I digress.

Standing in a circle outside underneath a heat lamp, beers in hand, we begin the interview below.

How did you decide on the band name?

Kurt: So we chose the name Palmas… it’s hard to answer this because at the time we had a different name and we were changing our name and we were looking for something a little bit more representative of us, a little bit more summery feeling. Palmas means palms in Spanish. We also wanted to be a little bit mysterious. We didn’t want it to be a name where everyone would know what it meant right off the bat. I like certain band names that are a little bit elusive. It felt right for the music that we were playing it has a little exotic vibe—something not of the Philadelphia area where we’re from.

How did the band form?

Matt: We’ve all known each other for a very long time. We’ve all been in bands when we were younger and we all kind of knew of each other. Adam and I had just been talking for a while about being in a band and Eric and I were talking about working together in some capacity.

Kurt: We were all tired of making shitty music. So we wanted to make a good band.

Matt: I lived in California for a little bit when this kinda started happening and I moved back and we were like “hey, let’s do it, let’s start a band.” Adam knew Pat, I knew Kurt. Not to sound cliché but it really started out of the friendship of we all just really enjoy playing music let’s get together and play.

Pat (talking to Matt): I think you nailed that one.

I notice that Matt lives in Brooklyn but it says the band is from Philly– how do you guys make that work being from two different cities?

Matt:  Adam actually lives in California right now. Generally, I take the bus to Philly every weekend right now and I know it sounds kind of crazy but it works out. Adam was in Philadelphia up until five months ago. We’ve made it work. We send demos back and forth. We send Adam our ideas that we work on together and he gets to put in his input. He sends us ideas from where he’s at and work on his ideas.

 Kurt: Yeah you know it’s 2016. (pauses) Vote for Bernie.

Matt: Yeah we just use the internet to make it work, you know? We also just found ourselves in a fortunate situation before he moved that we had a lot of songs already written so it wasn’t like we were desperate for new material. He flies back to play with us.

*I turn to ask Adam if he ever plans to move back to Philly or New York and why he left to begin with. The boys heckle him and laugh saying, “Can we get this on the record?” “How long do you plan on this sham?”*

Adam: My day job brought me out there and my lady and I moved. I think that there’s a possibility that I can be back on the East Coast at some point.

Kurt: Or we all move to the West Coast.

Who are you guys listening to right now? Who are you inspired by musically?  

Kurt: Right now we’re listening to this band called Harumi.

Adam: It’s like 60’s psychedelic and kind of started the whole psych thing. Stumbled upon this band and we’ve been obsessed with it lately.

Matt: Kurt also got us all into The Zombies and they’re one of my favorite bands recently. We got this really amazing opportunity to meet them and interview them and it was like this whole thing. Now that we’re recording I keep finding myself saying well what would they do?

Kurt: I mean, obviously we love the Beach Boys. I mean every time we listen to something that they do it’s like we find something new. I think you can definitely hear that in some of the stuff we put out and some of the stuff we’re going to put out.

Matt: I mean, the Beach Boys they were just one of the original pioneers of experimenting in the studio, you know? They started out as like a bubble gum pop band and then they started doing different stuff and I think we’re super influenced by both aspects out of that—when they were a pop band and when they were experimental and started adding new sounds. I think we would really love to find a mix of that. Pop songs but with intricate arrangements, you know?

Anyone else?

Kurt: Nancy Sinatra definitely.

Matt: Also more modern bands. We all love The Growlers. They’re one of our favorite bands. La Luz is another one. And then also this may be an unconventional answer but we’re super influenced by Quentin Tarantino movies and his soundtracks. In some of his newer movies he has a lot of hip hop and R&B type stuff but in a lot of his movies it’s western meets surf. That’s kind of what we would love to accomplish.

Kurt: (jokingly) If you say Quentin Tarantino enough he’ll call us up.

palmas2

What made you come up with the album title To The Valley?

Adam: When we first started this band we were always bouncing ideas around. Band names, song names, and I feel like the things that come the most naturally are when we’re not stressing out over things kind of fits really well. To The Valley has a line in one of our songs that’s on the E.P Better Guy. I think it was just one of those things where it was tossed around and it seemed to fit and we all liked it. You know to have five guys agree on one thing right off the bat is (laughs) kind of monumental.

Kurt: At the time Adam was moving to California and it was kind of like… to the valley.

Adam: I live in Long Beach. You know, represent Snoop Dog, LBC.

Do you have a favorite song on the album?

Matt: “Take My Hand” is definitely my favorite song.

Pat: “Take My Hand”

Adam: “Better Guy” or “I Want To Know.”

Kurt: “I Want To Know.”

What is your music making process?  

Matt:  I think there’s two ways that this happens. The first way is that either Adam, myself or Eric come up with a riff and then from there the song builds. Kurt has a lot of ideas on where to take it. Or the second option where Kurt as a singer comes in and is like I have this idea for a song and I’m thinking it should be this style and then we go from there.

Kurt: It comes from a riff most of the time.

Matt: Yeah, most of the time it’s like we were screwing around at home on guitar and I came up with this little part. What can we take from this little part to make a full song? I think we find in our process when we’re trying to write a song. I’m going to quote Eric here, Eric is just always like, “You know, when we try to force a song it doesn’t get written.” Or it gets written and we don’t like it. The ones that work for us are the ones that…it just comes out of nowhere. It just happens. Kurt will just start and singing and okay that’s it. You know?

palmas3Who is the main writer?

Matt: When it comes to the riff parts like I said it’s either Eric, Adam or myself and then Kurt takes that and really kind of sculpts the idea. It’s like we’re the colors and he’s like the paint brush.

Pat: And I’m Bob Ross.

Everyone dies with laughter.

Matt: And Pat throws down the beat. You know, it just works.

Pat: And it’s awesome.

What has been the biggest challenge for your band?

Matt: Recently, it would be Adam moving to California. I think we just want to continue to improve ourselves. We’ve been a band just about a year now and for some reason people are liking us. But that was easy to do because we started from blank there was nothing to compare to what we had previously done. Now it’s we’ve got to be better. We’re challenging ourselves.

Kurt: Also, I think what’s difficult is once you enter the industry, you know, all we want to do is write songs and put out music. We would put out music tomorrow if we could. But once you’re in the game it’s like you have to wait on different things and now we have direction from people and so it’s tough knowing which road. There’s a million roads you could take and it’s like what road do we take? I think that’s been our biggest challenge right now. We’re looking for the right people to guide us.

Matt: Also, Palmas, us as musicians it’s the five of us but Palmas as a team is like ten people now. It’s a lot of behind the scenes people wanting—their best intentions but sometimes the opinion isn’t the same. It’s all just trying to figure out how to work together. That’s been an adjustment for us.

Kurt: It’s new for us you know having management. But honestly, every step we’ve taken has been a step forward thus far so we just want to continue doing that.

Pat: There’s good work ethic. We have good work ethics.

Kurt: We push each other too.

Adam: And we make the most of my time here. We really pack the weekends and the time is spent rehearsing, writing or playing shows or doing interviews. You know, as much as we possibly can.

Kurt: The ultimate goal would be a full length record with a producer that we would just dream of working with. Which, right now as a young band you just don’t have the budget to do that. So our dream would be to have that budget and have the means to make the record of our dreams.

Palmas albumIf you were stuck on an island and only had one record to listen to what would it be?

Matt: Blue Hawaii– Elvis

Adam: The Beatles- Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Pat: Doors Greatest Hits

Kurt: Beach Boys- Pet Sounds but I might go with Beach Boys Greatest Hits. I mean, you’re stuck on an island…you want to listen to that kind of music you know?

Eric: Creedence Clear Water Revival’s Greatest Hits

Matt: Can I change mine to NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL MUSIC 3?!

After the interview, we went inside so they could prepare for their show. In love with their personalities and passion, I was curious to hear their music and watch them perform. Once the show began I was in a trance, unable to stop swaying my body and moving my feet. Palmas was brilliant. These guys could have toured around with The Beatles or The Beach Boys if they wanted to. Their sound was perfect and their moves were mesmerizingly in sync. I heard a girl in the crowd say, “Oh wow. This is kind of like doo-wop” And she was right. These boys, born in the millennial generation, are bringing a taste of fresh nostalgia for a time we only dream about…a time that happens to mesh perfectly with the modern indie music world.

Needless to say, Palmas is just fucking awesome. I left the show feeling inspired and grateful for the chance to have met this hilarious, driven, inspired and original band. Obviously, any band that likes corn with mayonnaise and aggressive tequila shots is a win win in my book. Their new E.P Into The Valley is available now! I guarantee it will make you want to go out, get a vinyl record player and lay by the beach.

5 HUNKS FROM CHICAGO: WELCOME THE WALTERS
February 11, 2016 10:56 am

Hunk: noun | a handsome man with a well-developed physique.

The Walters are a Chicago 5-piece that posses two qualities: nostalgia for 1960s pop rock and a large dose of irony.  The self-described “hunks” have dubbed their sound “cardigan” rock.  In addition to an active touring schedule, they also claim to be a minor league baseball team that adheres to a strict exercise regimen, although any supporting evidence of such activity is lacking, or at least invisible on the internet. The album cover for their self-released Young Men EP, released this past December, displays The Walters in white turtlenecks, holding a giant blank check. It’s difficult to get passed their facade.  However, once you peel back the layers, you’re left with saccharine sweet vocal harmonies, stripped down guitar riffs, and a steady rhythm section underpinning tightly composed songs.

walters

Uplifting music can be a bit unnerving at times. At face value it’s difficult to take in overt happiness in contemporary music as genuine. Fact: the modern world is scary. With smart phones constantly buzzing in our pockets, and an endless stream of information assailing us from all angles, whether via social media or email, we’re exposed to tragic and disheartening news at an alarmingly rapid clip. With song titles like “Sweet Marie,” “Hunk Beach,” “Goodbye Baby,” and “I Love You So,” The Walters’ feel-good vibe harkens back to a time when music was much simpler.  Comparisons to Beach Boys as well as 50s ‘doo-wop’ groups are befittingly abound.  Although skepticism is understandable at first, their accessible and catchy music makes it easy to reminisce a bygone culture of innocence and naivety.

Surprisingly, The Walters are still unsigned. They’ve steadily picked up steam in their native Chicago, performing at a handful of local venues and events. Even more impressive, a handful of their tracks reached ‘viral’ status on Spotify, quite an accomplishment to boast for a relative unknown. It wouldn’t come as a shock if The Walters signed a recording contract in short order. They have the creative output, and a marketable brand to boot.

If you’d like to acquire some of their tunes, look no further than The Walters’ Bandcamp page. While it’s always a nice gesture to chip in, both of their EPs are available at “name your price.” They’ve also uploaded a slew of supplemental tracks onto their SoundCloud.

JOHAN ANGERGÅRD: SWEDEN’S INDIE-POP MASTERMIND
February 5, 2016 9:46 am

You know that unique feeling of gratification you get when you discover a new sound?  It’s an impulsive need, an addiction.  I’m constantly searching for that next infectious dose. Thankfully the freakishly endless Internet universe never ceases to deliver new sonic pathways.

Sweden’s bustling independent music scene is as robust as it gets.

Johan Angergård is the founder of Stockholm-based Labrador Records.  He’s a DJ, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and producer.  His career spans back to the early 90’s and his prolificacy is profound, having been a key component of several noteworthy bands including Acid House Kings, Club 8, Pallers, and The Legends.

Labrador specializes in a particular brand of indie-pop classified as “twee”.  Quaint, naive, cute. There’s a distinct nostalgic nod to early 80’s indie-pop bands like The Smiths and the cheerful innocence 60’s rock. But that’s where any easily drawn comparisons end.

Labrador is first and foremost, an electronic music label with a sleek,  distinctly Scandinavian twist, an off-the-cuff repertoire of bright, audacious, and irony-tinged pop.  Labrador’s sonic pallet encompasses the so-called “balearic Sound”, popularized in Ibiza night clubs in the early 90”s. A notable manifestation of Labrador’s nuanced grooves can be heard on the The Radio Dept.’s highly acclaimed 2010 record Clinging to a Scheme.   These influences are the glue that make Angergård’s vision come to life.

If you’re in need of some new tunes, Labrador’s SoundCloud is a vault of music worth excavating.  It’s crammed to the brim with singles, EPs, remixes, and playlists that encapsulate Labrador’s touchingly off-kilter world.  It feels like an exhibit curated by Angergård himself, which I suppose, is part of what makes indie labels like Labrador great.

According to Labrador’s Facebook page the label is gearing up for an exciting year with “something like a handful of new artists” releasing music.  In the meantime, his own band Club 8 released their 9th full-length album Pleasure.  The leading single, “Late Nights“, is a sleek synth-pop that defines both where Angergård comes from and also where he intends to take us next.

GOOD AFTERNOON (MEN)
January 13, 2016 3:47 pm

New Yorkers, feast your ears on the new kids (excuse me, men) on the block. They’re called the Afternoon Men, and they rock. They rock with a sound that is equal parts nostalgia and freshness. Their music bounces seamlessly between genres, touching on influences from Springsteen, The Hold Steady, Counting Crows, The Decemberists, Titus Andronicus, and more.

The five-piece stepped on the scene back in October of last year, releasing their first single, “Parking Lots and Basements.” The music is catchy, with that oh-so-pleasurable balance of 90s Alt-rock, 00s Pop-punk, and contemporary Indie-rock. The lyrics are painstakingly truthful, as the singer navigates the trials and tribulations of trying to land himself a lady as a broke musician in the country’s most expensive city. The song’s overall force is only magnified by the clever lyric video accompanying it.

The men have released a couple more tracks on their Soundcloud page. While these tracks feature a more toned-down sound and oblique lyrical message, the narrative established in “Parking Lots” continues throughout. The result is an overall cohesiveness to their catalog that serves as a refreshing deviation from today’s pop music landscape dominated by one-off singles.

Having already caught the attention of Deli Magazine and sold out the main stage at Pianos, Afternoon Men are gearing up for an exciting 2016. The men are set to release their fourth single with yet another lyric video, “The Books in Her Closet” in the upcoming weeks. They’re also gearing up to headline The Bowery Electric on January 22nd. You can get tickets here!

Sure, this band is new and they’ve got a lot to prove in a city riddled with fellow newcomers. But if what they’ve released so far is any indication, they’re certainly worth checking out live and keeping on your radar.

THE SOULFUL FLOW OF FRAZEY FORD
November 25, 2015 8:49 am

In all sincerity, sometimes I just want to listen to a song and sway in the middle of an open field. There are very few open fields in New York City, so improvisation and make-believe might be necessary for this exercise, but as long as that root feeling is there, you need to satiate it correctly. Finding the perfect music to unwind to in peace is as delicate as doing one of those sailboats in a bottle things that everyone’s grandpa has at least three of for some reason. So let Frazey Ford be the captain of the SS Field Sway. You will not be disappointed.

Ford’s smooth and soulful voice rides through each track effortlessly. On “Done,” her single from her most recent release Indian Ocean, the heartfelt lyrics about her finally giving up on a terrible relationship can resonate with everyone. The straightforwardness of a line like “you spend all of your time trying to place your blame, and I’m done” gets straight to the heart of the issue. And when I’m field swaying, I want my emotions to be out there in the open.

Indian Ocean is filled with songs of great weightlessness, showcasing Ford’s gift to let the moment adjust to her pace, instead of chasing after anything. Natural Law is an interesting example of her adept tempo control. The verse has a steady progression in melody, along with horns being introduced, but it rises and falls gracefully throughout. Nothing blares, or overstays its welcome. Each layer is chosen to have its own moment in perfect fashion.

So the next time you need a field of earnest and carefree vibes, let Frazey Ford take you away. You’ll be in the warm, gentle hands of a wonderful songstress. I mean this metaphorically, of course, I have no idea what her actual hands feel like. Enjoy!