Synth Pop

STRANGE TALK EVOLVES
June 9, 2016 1:26 pm

If your party playlists have been lackluster as of late, I have the perfect solution:

Strange Talk.

You may have heard the name and seen some pictures of the indie pop quartet, but the new Strange Talk features two original members, and a completely different sound. Change is SO good.

The now-duo focuses on synth pop, electronica and with glittery, pulsating melodies they successfully stand out in the ever-growing electronic scene which make them prime candidates for festivals, rooftop parties… or if you’re like me, pretending you’re at a festival or rooftop party. Either way the Australian is guaranteed to make your summer soundtrack. Strange Talk successfully transports their listeners to other worldly places (parties). Energetic and springy, put one of their tracks on and the whole room will be bouncing in seconds.

Their recent release E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N. is a 5 song EP with a fitting title. According to member Gerard Sidhu,

We wanted to evolve our sound and take a more electronic direction, and we’re passionate about the new music we’re creating. We’ve never been more driven with our music as we are now, and we hope that’s evident in the songs, the art and videos, and our live show.

So this summer instead of playing that same old playlist, throw on E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N. and watch your own party evolve.

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.

IMMERSE YOURSELF IN WASHED OUT
January 29, 2016 12:04 am

Have you heard a song and wished the artist made more music? Well if you’re a Portlandia fan, you’re in luck.

Ernest Greene is an artist from Georgia whose song, “Feel It All Around” is the theme for the IFC comedy, but you probably know him from Washed Out. Greene’s music is dazed synth pop, self described “no-fi” and it makes me feel like I am in a big tub of glitter. Light, lucid, and aqueous. He definitely has the power to take listeners to other worldly planes, almost as if one was experiencing an astral projection. Washed Out is dream pop royalty.

Washed Out currently has two studio albums, Within and Without (2011) and Paracosm (2013), and 3 EPs, High Times (2009), Life of Leisure (2009), and Untitled (2010).

Washed Out’s latest album is beautiful and summer-like, a prime record for road trips. Washed Out describes himself saying, “the sounds have a very worn, distressed quality about them, much like an old sample. But they also offer much more flexibility because they’re playable.” Throughout his albums, he plays 50+ instruments, mainly focusing on old keyboards.

Currently signed to Sub Pop, if you want to see Washed Out, you’ll have your chance on July 15th at Forecastle Fest in Louisville, Kentucky. Washed Out is also preforming a DJ set in Chicago on March 25th. If you’re around and want to be swept into another dimension, I’d recommend checking either of the sets out.

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM’S INEVITABLY TRIUMPHANT RETURN
January 14, 2016 1:40 pm

By now the “farewell concert” has become something of a cliché.

Ever since Jay-Z hosted his retirement extravaganza back in 2003 (which didn’t last very long), the legitimacy of other acts celebrating their exit from show business has been somewhat questionable. Let’s be honest though, are we ever upset when one of favorite artists decides to come out of the wood work and start performing again? Absolutely not.

LCD Soundsystem, what hasn’t been said about them already?  For a band with a relatively short life span of only 10 years, they released three critically acclaimed albums, and for many of us, defined an indelible era of musical history.

Although it’s easy to forget sometimes, given how popular music has shifted toward an EDM-dominated landscape, that there was a time when electronic music wasn’t very ‘cool’ at all.

It was flaunted by cool kids, hipsters.  LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy first made a name for himself by co-founding DFA Records, a record label that quickly picked up steam as an underground advocate for house music’s accession into the mainstream.

By the time LCD Soundsystem formed in 2001 their hometown of Brooklyn had already been transformed into the central hub of hipsterdom (yeah I know, I made up a word, but so what?!).  Indie electronic music was about to explode into a global phenomenon.  Albums like Cut Copy’s In Ghost Colours, Jus†ice’s , and lest we forget, LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver, received not only rave reviews from the music press, but were starting to cut mainstream pop out of the picture all together. This empowering shift marked the beginning of the digital age, for the first time since recorded music’s inception, listeners were choosing their own music, and plugging their iPod’s (that’s right) into their car stereos rather than listening to overly-glossed Top 40 hits and mainly commercials.

By the end of the decade LCD Soundsystem was on top of the world.  Sold out concerts, packed festivals, and Murphy plastered onto the front page of every music publication possible.

Then, like all good things, LCD Soundsystem decided it was time to call it quits.  On February 5th, 2011, the band announced on their website that they thought it was better to quit while they were ahead and go out with a bang.

On April 2nd, 2011, at Madison Square Garden, the band performed their final show.

Hold on, hold on. Where have a heard this before? This is bogus! You know this isn’t going to last! Come on!

Sure enough…on January 5th this note was posted to their website.  That’s right, they’re back. Like really back.

Of course, it’s no surprise that somehow Coachella managed to cash in on their triumphant return. While we can safely assume plenty of festival-goers will flock to the outskirts of Palo Alto to sweat it out this April, where will LCD Soundsystem appear next?  For now, my friends, the answer to that question is shrouded in mystery.  The only hint is a promising yet cryptic message on their website: “2016 tour dates coming soon.”  I supposed we’ll have to wait it out (although, I think it’s safe to assume they’ll be playing somewhere in the vicinity of New York.)

By far the most important tidbit of information is that there’s a new album in the works.

LCD Soundsystem has a pretty awesome discography. It’s dancey, but sophisticated. It’s music that celebrates dusting off obscure records for audiophiles with an interest in obscure music. You know, like cool kids. Hipsters.

So in short, farewell concerts are probably a sham, so don’t drive halfway across the country to celebrate your favorite band’s early–er, I mean, botched retirement. LCD Soundsystem is back and 2016 is going to be an awesome year to ”Dance Yrself Clean yet again!

MANSIONS ON THE MOON GET SHIT DONE
December 30, 2015 5:27 pm

In the music biz connections are your lifeline. No, that doesn’t mean you can’t establish yourself purely on the merits of your own raw talent or dedication to perfecting your craft. It’s just, competition is fierce. In a world saturated to the bursting point with MIDI laptop DJs and YouTube divas, it doesn’t hurt to know someone.

Mansions on the Moon are your textbook example of how to get it done. Back in 2011 they jumped on the festival-centric EDM hype train and rode it for the victory lap. Although they attracted an avid fan-base with their brand of hook-friendly synth pop, again, it doesn’t hurt to know someone.

Mansions are the collaboration between Pnuma Trio members Ben Hazlegrove on keys and Lane Shaw on drums, along with guitarist and singer-songwriter Ted Wendler. Pnuma Trio achieved a considerable following sharing stages with live music heavyweights such as String Cheese Incident, Disco Biscuits, and Michael Franti, eventually culminating with the release of 2007’s Character via Columbia. Upon forming Mansions in 2011, high-profile acts were eager to help the startup find their footing.  Again, it doesn’t hurt to know someone.

Their first release, Paradise Falls, was ‘presented’ by DJ Benzi and Diplo. The album is packed with collaborations from other notable names such as Xaphoon Jones of Chiddy Bang and Big Gigantic.  In 2012 the group followed up with another EP, Lightyears, this time teaming up with N*E*R*D.  Believe it or not, being produced by Pharrell Williams can dramatically boost your grade on the Hype-o-Meter.  Did I mention it doesn’t hurt to know someone?

In 2014 Mansions self-produced their Full Moon EP to commemorate their move to LA.  Most recently it seems Mansions has been someone dormant–while their Facebook page is rife with news of other EDM peers, very little recent actively can be accounted for other than a timely vinyl pressing of a few of their singles just in time for the holidays.

LIGHTS, PHASES AND THE MOWGLIS. OH MY!
November 19, 2015 2:58 pm

Wednesday night. 6:30 p.m. A crowd begins to fill up Irving Plaza to see Lights, Phases and The Mowgli’s. Time quickly fades to 7 p.m and a woman walks across the stage before the curtain has fully raised. All you can see are shiny golden shorts, longs legs and black velvet boots. Her hips begin to sway back and forth with a Jessica Rabbit type finesse, making everyone drool while simultaneously making them want to dance before the music has even begun.

The curtain raises even more revealing a stunning Elizabeth Berg (Z-Berg) backed by her incredibly talented and handsome band. It felt like a 70s disco that I couldn’t get enough of. They performed hits such as “I’m In Love With My Life,” “Betty Blue” and ended their set with their hit “Cooler” to which Z-Berg jumped off the stage to dance with the crowd and kiss an over-joyed fan on the head. There is no question that Phases set the tone for the night.

Following Phases was The Mowglis. Everyone raved and applauded as they casually walked onto the stage and unexpectedly went right into singing “Say It, Say It.” They surged all their music and vibes into the crowd performing hits like “I’m Good and “San Francisco.” I had never really heard the Mowgli’s before but after seeing them perform I wanted to learn everything about them while downloading all the music they’ve ever made.

Time strikes 9 p.m and the crowd gets wild as they realize that LIGHTS is about to come on. A purple glow envelops the stage, illuminating the silhouettes of each band member. Valerie Poxleitner (lead singer) walks out emanating everything a rock star should be emanating. Her tank, baggy, cut-up boy friend jeans and Calvin’s were just the tip of the bad-ass ice berg. Playing the synth while executing insane dance moves, she goes right into singing “Muscle Memory.” She shouts, “Feel free to dance and vibe!” This is exactly what happened.

A few songs and many dance moves later, a stool and some acoustic guitars were brought onstage and I was shocked. I had only seen this band do pop-electric videos with synth and pop ballads galore. This was my favorite part of the show. Valerie’s voice collided with the acoustic vibrations in the room and I became an eternal fan then and there. No questions asked. As a few pieces of loose confetti drifted through the air and onto an entranced crowd, I realized that we were all a part of a giant meditation. Everyone, in that moment, became blissfully aware of the raw talent exuding from the stage. No synth. No catchy tunes. Just a divine voice and sound that we all had the privilege of experiencing.

Lights finished off the show with insane electric guitar solos, immortal vocals resembling a musical lovechild of Ellie Goulding, Paramore, and Jewel, insane dance moves, crazy beats, stage jumping and all around electric frequencies at every second. Not to mention a cellphone getting thrown center stage to which Valerie responded by picking it up, and recording herself yelling, “Fuck yeah New York!!!”before throwing it back to the owner. Irving shook with excited applause and an envy towards the owner of that phone.

Lights, Phases and The Mowgli’s presented a show that was so special and endearing. It was full of light, love, hope and positivity; things that are desperately needed in this world right now. The line of the night was from LIGHTS when she said, “Sometimes you just gotta say fuck the madness and enjoy the moment. When we’re kids we don’t recognize the madness as much. And now that we’re older we just got to take moments like this and let them live.”

WARM UP WITH HOW SAD’S SUNNY VIBES
November 3, 2015 11:12 am

With synth-heavy pop melodies and serious 80s vibes, Montreal-based indie outfit How Sad makes the kind of music you wish was the soundtrack to your life.

The band’s debut EP, Indian Summer received praise after its 2013 release, with Consequence of Sound calling it “a watercolor sunset, all brightly smeared streaks and warm, enveloping hues.” That same dreamy sound can be heard on How Sad’s new album, Everything Happens. 

How Sad’s style can best be described as David Bowie-meets-MGMT with moments of peaceful bliss that’s distinguished as their own. The nine-track album sends listeners into a sun-soaked daydream, with visions of warm summer days to offset the impending cold weather we’ll be soon be faced with. My personal favorite is “Check It Out”, a cheery little number that sounds like it’s straight from a Coca-Cola commercial.  “Young Couple” could have easily been used in a John Hughes movie if it had come out in 1985, perhaps in a scene where Molly Ringwald slow-dances with her date at prom or something.  “Cloud Nine,” which I could see being How Sad’s breakout hit, is one of those songs that instantly puts you in a better mood when you hear it.

You can grab your copy of Everything Happens here, and be sure to check out How Sad when they play in city near you. In the mean time, listen below! 

 

SEOUL BRINGS THE DREAM TO BROOKLYN
October 12, 2015 9:57 am

Montreal indie-pop band Seoul stopped by Rough Trade this past Saturday night and they brought their massive dreamy synth sound with them. Opening the night were locals Lightning Bug, who are master shoegazers. They set the tone with seoulklktheir intricately skilled pedal work and ripping bass lines; definitely a band to keep an eye on. They were followed with a toned down set by Young Ejecta, the Brooklyn based synth-pop duo featuring Leanne Macomber of Neon Indian, who was the only one present for this particular set. The songs were aesthetically sloppy but gave the audience a more candid look into Leanne’s raw style.

Seoul is now more than halfway through their North American tour, and still performing with an energy that moved the crowd. Their Canadian-bred style is just peculiar enough to get you interested, then you crash under the ambient wave of their dream-like synth driven songs. The band has maintained an air of anonymity which seems to work with their reverb drowned style. The Beasts suggest you find this band in a town near you.You can find all the tour dates here. In the meantime, check out their newly released video for “Real June”, and dream on dreamers.

THE GREAT VOID IS MY MEDICINE BALL
September 4, 2015 4:24 pm

This video is insane.

The Great Void just released their new LP Shift Age today, and it was well worth the wait. The album features tracks with Alan Palomo (Neon Indian), Noel Heroux (Hooray for Earth), George Lewis Jr. (Twin Shadow) Morgan Whirledge (Chrome Canyon) and Joe Stickney (Bear in Heaven, Autre Ne Veut). This only made my anticipation stronger, and my satisfaction guaranteed!

I always wondered what would qualify as the weirdest, yet coolest lyric video to an electro pop song and this takes the cake…I couldn’t look away. The cool synth beats and sexy, throaty vocals drugged me into a trance that had me totally convinced I was in need of my medicine ball.

Producer, electronic musician, and the Great Void himself Josh Ascalon wrote, recorded, and mixed his own debut album, and it’s clear the inspiration he seeks from futurism, existential possiblities, and an imagination that shatters limits. The contributions from the like-minded artists throughout the album only enhance the dynamics of The Great Void. The beasts can’t wait to see them live, where the high energy and expansive sounds from the tracks could only be heightened in real time.

Written by Annie Paul 

Great Good Fine Ok talk Music, Kimonos, and the Body Diamond Lifestyle
June 22, 2015 3:51 pm

Brooklyn based synth pop band Great Good Fine Ok aren’t great, good, fine or ok. They’re pretty spectacular! Their dreamy soundscape and catchy dance tunes are something you don’t get tired of. Their latest EP, 2M2H, released earlier this year is exactly what the title is. It’s too much to handle because every single song on it is fire. I had a chance to chat with the lead singer Jon Sandler about his love for music, kimonos, and the “Body Diamond Lifestyle” before their show at Baby’s All Right on June 25th.

How did you and Luke start making music together as GGFO? 

I met Luke a bunch of times and we became friends. We actually worked together on a couple of things- he co-produced and mixed one of my songs. We always said that along the way we should do something together and collaborate. A period of time went by, and we ran into each other on the street randomly and we said “let’s do this.” That night he sent me the music for “You’re The One For Me.” We went back and forth to perfect it and then sent it to some people and realized it was something special, so we kept writing songs and that was that.

So you were in a different band before?

Yeah- pretty much my whole life I’ve been pursuing my solo music career. The stuff I was doing before was singer-songwriter, me with and a guitar which I’ve been doing since I was a kid. When Luke sent me the music for “You’re The One For Me,” it was a very synth-poppy sound and I’ve never sung falsetto before for a full song. I don’t know what inspired me, but I felt like that song needed a falsetto voice on top of it and so thats what I recorded. Not thinking that eventually it would turn into a band recording falsetto every song. Luke was kind of doing the same except he was producing for other bands and was a drummer in a band. We were both doing a lot and very busy when we started GGFO so we didn’t expect to even necessarily design it to turn into a huge thing. But obviously we were excited when it did.

I saw you at Brooklyn Bowl last year with a flashy golden robe. Where do you get your clothes from?

Most of the stuff I get are from thrift stores, but that piece I actually had it custom made. I went to the garment district in manhattan for the material I wanted and I found a girl who could help me organize making that happen, so that one’s a one of a kind. I like any thrift store that would present me with a perfect kimono or a sequined jacket! I’ve almost gotten all of them in New York City (laughs). Whenever I walk in a thrift store in New York, I feel like I already bought everything cool. When we were on tour and we were in Seattle, every thrift store there was the best thing ever. I think thrift stores in the west coast are better. I thrift shop in New York a lot obviously and I find out that they carry more conservative and wearable clothes, and not many jackets with sequins all over it, which is exactly what I’m looking for. So I think I need to go elsewhere.

Do you ever wear your outfits off-stage as well?

I have certain jackets that I only wear on stage. I think my off stage outfits are cool in their own way. My manager once told me that I never look normal(laughs). But I don’t wear the stage kimonos in real life though, just because they’re sacred for the stage if you know what I mean. It’s not that I would be embarrassed, but those are special. I’ve accumulated about 40 different kimonos, so I have quite a selection of them I can choose from.

I’ve heard that you’re a big fan of Prince. If you had one whole day to spend with him, what would you do?

Probably for half of the day I’d want to walk around and talk and just ask him questions about life. Walking, sitting, getting tea. I would want to do A LOT of talking. I’d ask him questions about the music industry. I’d also use him as my therapist- I think Prince is the kind of guy who has it figured out, and if I told him about something that was stressing me out, he would have a really good way of making me feel more comfortable. After that I’d definitely want to write music with him for several hours…Maybe even create an entire album! Then I’d probably want to go thrift shopping with him, or maybe just fabric shopping and we can go get some stuff custom made.

Do you feel that living in NYC has had an impact on your views of the music scene?

New York is so packed with musicians and artists. People that are hustling and focused. That’s definitely inspiring to be around everyday. Everywhere I look, there’s someone working their asses off, so it makes you want to work your ass off too. I’ve been here for so long, I’ve lived in Brooklyn for 10 years, so most of the songs I’ve ever written have been here. It almost feels like I don’t even remember what it was like, writing or being inspired anywhere else.

What’s the most memorable show you’ve been to?

Oh my god I have no idea! I’ve probably been to a thousand shows in my life. The only reason I know is that I have a ticket collection stored into 5 different books, so thats really tough. I used to go to a lot of Phish shows and some of those were really memorable. One of the best live bands ever.

What do you consider a ‘good’ show?

I guess its a combination of things. When you’re surprised by certain things and when the show ends and you wished that it continued for another 10 hours. Obviously there are certain shows where, musically, it’s more special than other shows. I like concerts to be a show, and not just a concert. I take that seriously. Not just getting on stage and singing songs but actually being an entertainer. If I can walk away and say “wow that was a fun show” then I’d think it was successful. But it’s weird because the last show I went to was Rhye, and they’re amazing! Actually our drummer that started with us, Zach is their current drummer. They’re just so nonchalant, sort of what the opposite of what I was talking about being showmen, but the guy’s voice is so mesmerizing and so unbelievable. Just the music itself made it one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time, so it could go either way. Theres no formula to what makes it a good show. Sometimes its magic, and sometimes it’s not, you know?

I heard you do a “Body Diamond” dance move on stage and a pre-show ritual called the “Body Deesh Deesh Deesh Deesh Diamond.” What is this Body Diamond lifestyle that you guys live?

I’m going to be completely honest with you. The body diamond just started as a dance move that we kind of did, then we thought it was cool to implement it into the band. And since, it has been thrown into a lifestyle where Body Diamond can really be a metaphor of so much stuff- of your heart, your soul, your mind and everything around you and the universe. It’s become this symbol of life and something bigger than us. Its almost like we can’t control them, they just pop-up where they pop-up. One of the most exciting Body Diamond moments was right at the beginning of the band when we were just starting out playing our first few shows at SXSW that Tove Lo was also playing at. I guess she saw us and got so excited about the Diamond that she tweeted and introduced the Body Diamond on Swedish radio. There’s an amazing picture of her doing the body diamond. And the “Body Deesh Deesh Deesh Deesh Diamond” – the drummer that used to play with us, his name was Zach Morello and we used to call him Modeesh, so that actually came from him and turned it into Deesh. And that just became our pre-show ritual.

Could you talk about something thats great, good, fine, and ok in your life right now?

That’s hard because generally right now, I’m pretty happy because I’m doing what I love. I love this band, I love writing songs, and things are really exciting right now. I guess great would be GGFO. What’s ‘okay’ is my living situation. I’m in this situation where I’ve been living in the same apartment for 10 years. It’s not the nicest apartment in the world but the rent’s really good, so I would say that that’s okay. Good and fine are tough – lets put everything else into good and fine.

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