Tame Impala

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:

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 “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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

A NIGHT OF CHOCOLATE AND CHEVAL
July 28, 2016 6:50 pm

When walking into any small time club, you can expect some loud popular music while waiting for a band to go up on stage to have fun and play some cool tunes. But last night at U Street Music Hall in Washington DC, a small club turned into a musical hot box.

20427_620380401430800_4122135562059143816_nStarting the night with some cool DJ work from local artist Dirty Chocolate, he pumped out some of his own music while playing club hits with elegantly twisted remixes. From metropolitan city Gaithersburg, Maryland, he taught himself how to make music while going deep into the internet. From humble beginnings (graduating the same high school that I did) to sick clubs, Emmanuel Osemene has a strong future ahead of him. I had a minute to chat with him about his experiences with music after the show:

I’ve always been a huge fan of music…I love discovering music and finding people who push boundaries. It’s cool to see talented people use their imagination to make music better. You wouldn’t hear it in my music but Pharrel, Timberland, Daft Punk, Juicy J, Kanye West, Justice, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, and Tame Impala have been some of my biggest influences.

After him, the crowd turned around to the main stage and there were so many switchboards and keyboards that I honestly had no idea what to expect. Then the band started to play and I was immediately blown away as the four of them played musical hacky sack, taking turns on solos and bits of the song while perfectly supporting each other.

Their name is Club Cheval, they live in Paris, France are in the states for a bit to tour. Theyed play song after song of fantastic electronic sound and mixing with a superb drummer in the back who ended the show with the gnarliest drum bit I had ever heard. I had a chance to talk to Panteros666 (the drummer) right after their set list.

Tell us about yourselves…

We live in Paris, but we we are from a little city called Lille…We have a lot of influences there from Britian and Belgium so we have that kind of culture where we just mix everything together.

Where do you get you unique sound from?

Literally everywhere. We don’t put any genres on any pedestal and have no hierarchy with our music. We listen to stuff like Hip-Hop, Balie Funk from Brazil, Slow Jam and experimental stuff. I’m into trance and lots of other stuff. Each one of us has our own certain sound and we like to mix it to create something different. It doesn’t really work well in France though, so that’s why we’re here, we can relate better with the people. Sometime we are just too powerful for them and that’s probably why we are bigger here.

How did you guys meet?

To cut a long story short, we were all doing our high level studies which actually including political sciences, sound engineering and other areas. But we got together in our small city and were really obsessed with making a new breed of electronic music. We did well in our little city and then moved to Paris and met a lot of people and now were here playing music.

It was amazing how humble and relaxed Dirty Chocolate and Club Cheval were. It was a fantastic show, great start and great end with happily ringing ears all the way home. Check out more Dirty Chocolate here and Club Cheval’s tour dates here and new album here.

BEST OF BONNAROO 2016
June 17, 2016 5:41 pm

So Bonnaroo is over and we’ve returned to our normal lives (sad). We’ve showered in private bathrooms, slept in real beds for more than 4 hours at a time, and we finally feel like real human beings again (happy). We never want to see drugs or alcohol of any kind ever again (joking), and we’re so damn excited to tell you and everyone we know about our experiences (serious). Here are our eleven favorite acts at Bonnaroo 2016 (because ten just isn’t enough):

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Pearl Jam at Bonnaroo Photo Cred: Jeff Kravitz

11: Death Cab for Cutie played an afternoon show on the last day of the festival, in 90° heat on the largest and hottest stage, yet they still had the entire audience hanging on every note, word, and emotion. Several people around me were crying unapologetically (not that they needed to apologize, crying is cool and all, but… well, it was unsettling at the time). The Seattle rockers proved that over a decade of mainstream success has not hampered their drive for a killer show, and the group’s sizable catalog had the tens of thousands of audience members clamoring for more. If your biggest problem is that your set is too short to fit all your good songs, you’re doing alright. -IA

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Fidlar at Bonnaroo Photo cred: FilmMagic

10:Band of Horses used this opportunity to showcase their new album Why Are You Ok?, released just a few days earlier. Consistently excellent performers, the band struck a careful balance between this new material and the earlier hits so beloved by the scorched Saturday afternoon crowd. Their anticipation was palpable, as it was clear many in the audience considered Band of Horses the main draw of the festival. Perhaps rightly so, since “Is There A Ghost” and “The Funeral” are two of the most epic live numbers around, screaming with an intensity impossible to replicate in a recording. If you haven’t yet seen Band of Horses live, you should. -IA 

9: Kurt Vile was obviously drunk on stage, drinking and spilling from several cans of Modelo throughout the show, yet he pulled off one of the most casually transcendent performances I’d ever seen. This guy is a seriously awesome guitarist, able to riff passionate, musically-relevant licks without seeming to think too hard. His irreverent stage banter paired well with his loose and mumbly singing, emphasizing his unique take-it-or-leave-it style of not giving a fuck. Before his last song he told everybody he’d be in the pit at the Ween show later, if anyone wanted to say hi. So he was having a pretty good time, it seemed, and it came through in the music. Neat! -IA/AS

8: Third Eye Blind has been doing this for a long time. Their thoroughly-attended tent show was basically a giant sing-along party/crowd-surfing exhibition. Seriously, there was almost too much crowd-surfing, to the point that Stephen Jenkins got involved and jumped into the crowd himself (which was totally awesome but also pretty dangerous for the 51 year-old star). There was one guy in particular who crowd surfed for about 20 minutes straight. We were quite jealous of the look on his face as he floated atop our heads, pumping his fists in the air along to the chorus of “Semi-Charmed Life.” The band that helped define snake person adolescence knew their audience and performed their classics diligently, even going out of their way to change plans and play “Motorcycle Drive By” because some fans they met on the way in (“dressed only in flowers and body paint”) complained that they don’t play enough old stuff. The San Francisco natives excel at developing this sort of audience camaraderie, reminding us frequently that love conquers hate and that we’re all in this together. Fuckin’ hippies, gotta love ’em. – IA/AS

7: Big Grams is half Big Boi (from Outkast) and half Phantogram (whose new album is released today). They played to a packed tent starting around 2AM, and people were pretty much losing their shit. It was awesome. Their “Ms Jackson/Mouthful of Diamonds” mashup was especially mind-blowing, with the entire crowd getting in on every single”I am for reeeal.” Unfortunately, their “The Way You Move” fell flat when mashed with “Don’t Move,” as the crowd expected Outkast’s chorus instead of Phantogram’s and was audibly crestfallen. So the collaboration still needs some tinkering, but both artists’ electric stage-presences combined into a whirlwind of manic energy, fueled by the late night party and contagious beats. Let’s hope for a lasting partnership between these disparate groups. – IA/AS

haim5 1/2: HAIM was unreal. Their catchy tunes have always tickled my ickle, but I DRASTICALLY underestimated how good their live show would be. Este, Danielle and Alana Haim are nothing short of Rock Stars. There is no one of the three carrying the other two, nor is there one that is holding the others back. Add their frenetic, happy energy, and even an impending thunderstorm couldn’t bring the show down. The fact that those three women came from the same vagina is fucking bonkers. – AS

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51/2: FIDLAR can’t be placed above or below Haim, as they are completely different things. But they were equally awesome. The So-Cal surf punks delivered exactly what fans were expecting – a super-high energy show filled with screaming, jumping, and shredding. The only song they didn’t play that I wanted to hear was “Awkward,” but they more than made up for it by cramming basically every other jam they have into their set. -AS

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Misterwives at Bonnaroo 2016 Photo Cred: Jeff Kravitz

4: MisterWives basically held a three ring circus on the main stage, with the bassist and guitarist doing cartwheels and comedy between (and sometimes during) songs, and singer Mandy Lee running around stage stealing everybody’s heart. Many, many people shouted offerings of love and/or marriage to her or her smiling jumbotron projection. Combine that with their anthemic synth-pop and I couldn’t keep my jaw off the floor. The performance was simply on another level, which was both unexpected incredibly inspiring. Leaving the show, I couldn’t help but notice a similar expression on a lot of people’s faces: the excited look of someone who just discovered their new favorite band. -IA

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Pearl Jam at Bonnaroo Photo Cred: Jeff Kravitz

3:Pearl Jam was fucking unbelievable. There’s just no other way to say it. Eddie Vedder has a very real physical and spiritual likeness to Jesus Christ, with his grungy hippie energy and otherworldly, almost godly control over the crowd. After the first song, all of Pearl Jam’s legendary success made complete sense. They played everything a little bit up-tempo, which was totally awesome on energetic hits like “Evenflow” and “Betterman.” Highlights include a political statement about transgender bathrooms in Tennessee (looking at you TN Rep. Susan Lynn), a heart-wrenching rendition of Pink Floyd‘s “Comfortably Numb” (with fireworks!), and every single one of Mike McCready’s insane guitar solos. Watching him perform (and he really sells it), it’s as if his epic shredding already exists out in the world and McCready is just plucking it out of thin air, jamming it through his fingers lickety-split and into his guitar for us all to hear. After executing perhaps the fastest, most intricate guitar performance at the festival (perhaps), McCready fell to the floor in a heap of emotion, relinquishing control back to Vedder’s drastic wailing. Not bad for a pair of 50 year olds. –IA

I’m just stepping in to wholeheartedly agree with Ian here. A lot people were skeptical about Pearl Jam’s place as a headliner, but I think anyone with a remote appreciation for rock n’ roll would have changed their mind at that show. They are simply the best straight-ahead rock band I’ve ever seen. -AS

2: Tame Impala is today’s Pink Floyd. The Australian superstars took their unique brand of washy, psychedelic arena-rock to Friday’s much anticipated 1-3 AM time slot, and holy shit was it incredible. The lawn was stuffed with neon glow-sticks and anthropomorphic totems as far as the eye could see. The audio quality was remarkable, as the band sounded almost exactly as they do in recordings, and the technical staff was on point, with lighting and confetti blowing minds for days. The only draw-back of the transcendent performance was its length; many fans hoped the band might play til sunrise, or at least the set’s full two-hours, but Kevin Parker politely thanked the audience and left the stage about a half an hour before scheduled. So their timing might have disappointed some, but the experience remains worthy of our #2 slot. The fact that it directly followed our #1 band was just gravy, and the one-two punch of seeing them back to back was nothing short of remarkable. – IA/AS

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LCD Soundsystem at Bonnaroo 2016 Photo Cred: Tim Mosenfelder

1: LCD Soundsystem is probably my favorite band of all time. When they announced their reunion in December, my brain said “They are going to play at Roo and I. WILL. NOT. MISS. IT.” My only hesitation was that I was afraid I would cry to death upon seeing them. My expectations were met. Although I’m still alive, they delivered absolutely stellar renditions of James Murphy’s creations, and looked damn good doing it. Murphy did not come across as the eccentric that he is often made out to be. Rather he seemed damn cool, delivering his wry lyrics with passion. The band seemed happy to be back, and I could have stood and watched them play for years. – AS

Other notable activity: BØRNS headlined Thursday night to a tremendous crowd, highlighted by back-to-back covers of Arcade Fire (“Rebellion”) and David Bowie (“Heroes”). Chvrches seemed unused to such a huge (main) stage, but a guest appearance from Haley Williams of Paramore more than made up for it. John Mayer led The Dead (as in ‘Grateful’) on a four-hour Sunday night set, and holy shit is he still the best guitarist alive today. M83 and Two Door Cinema Club both played solid shows on the Which Stage. Several up-and-coming artists gave excellent performances as well, especially Waxahatchee, Jarryd James, Hundred Waters, and Rayland Baxter. Baxter frisbeed a red felt peace sign into the crowd and Ian caught it with his very own hand, which was incredible. Macklemore’s set was interrupted for about an hour by a righteous thunderstorm, during which time Bonnaroo officials ordered fans into their cars for safety. Our friend Molly Rocket brought us some sandwiches while we were waiting.

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Written by Ian Anderson and Atticus Swartwood

ARTIST OF THE MONTH: METHYL ETHYL
April 1, 2016 10:58 am

Here at AtypicalSounds we’re always looking out for the next big thing. Our April Artist of the Month is Methyl Ethel, a Perth-based dreampop trio that are hot off the heels of releasing their debut record Oh Inhuman Spectacle, which was released digitally last month via 4AD.  The album showcases a sleek backdrop of psych-rock influences, reverb-drenched guitar, and Jake Web’s oddball lyrics: the chorus to lead single “Twilight Driving” caution unsuspecting drivers to watch out for “roos”.

Methyl Ethel are the latest indie upstart to burst out of Australia in the wake of big acts to emerge from the continent including Courtney Barnett and Tame Impala. The band’s following has been growing steadily since CMJ this past October, demonstrated by their insane and successful performance at this year’s SXSW. They’ve proven their ability to arouse new fans to faithfully follow them wherever their tour may take them.

Unfortunately, if you haven’t had a chance to catch them live yet, you might have to wait a bit. They’ve just wrapped up the US-wing of their international tour and are doing their last handful of shows in Europe and in native Australia. We’ll be waiting their return.

ROLLIN’ WITH BANDITS AT SXSW
March 30, 2016 11:11 am

We sat down with Denver’s very own BANDITS at SXSW, discussing their influences, their destructive stage antics, and their van.

So, how long have you guys been here at SXSW?

Lulu: This is our second… third day.

Andrew: Third day.

And you tour a lot too, right?

John: Yep

L: Yeah, we’re pretty… we’re on the road a lot.

A: We’ve been on the road for about… in the last month we’ve been home for about five days. We went from Denver all the way out to New York City and back–in like a two-and-a-half week tour–then had a couple days off and then toured our way down here.

What’s the longest tour you’ve ever done?

J: I think that one actually. Like two weeks.

L: Yeah we like to keep them sporadic. Go home for a couple days in between, regroup.

A: This way we can do them a lot.

Do you like touring?

L: Oh yeah.

J: I love touring. Being on the road is the best part. You just get to see a new city every night, and you get to experience the culture everywhere. You get to play in front of new people all the time.

A: It’s great when all you have to do is focus on just going and playing music every night. You just kinda get into that zone, and that’s where you wanna be as a musician.

What’s your least favorite part of touring?

J: Well, loading in and out kinda sucks, but it’s mostly fun.

L: I would say my least favorite part is driving for so long. I get sore from sitting in the van for like nine and a half hours at a time. But it’s not that bad.

A: I think the hardest part is trying to stay healthy and sleep well and eat well and not get sick. It’s definitely a physical struggle.

banditYou’re up late every night?

J: Oh yeah, up ’til like three, four in the morning.

And then you gotta hop in the van next day?

L: For like nine hours, yeah.

Shit. Do you have a name for the van?

L: Not really.

J: We had a few of them, one of them was “Nelson Vandela.”

A: Yeah that’s a good one

J: We made a Facebook post of what to name it, and that’s what we got.

L: We’ve never been like “everyone to the… whatever.”

“To the mystery machine!”

L: It’s just our van.

So you guys do a lot of social media outreach or crowdsourcing and shit?

J: Yeah, I mean we post every day on Facebook.

You got to, right? Welcome to 2016.

L: And then Twitter and Instagram. I mean we do it, we do a good job staying in touch with our fans. That’s the easiest way to talk to them and know what they’re thinking or feeling about everything.

Do you find it difficult to stay active, stay relevant, stay involved with the fans to have that kind of relationship?

J: Yeah, sometimes. I think also when you’re absent on Facebook for a few days it really helps people stay interested in what you’re doing. Not posting all the time…just exclusive stuff.

That’s cool. So, you guys play pretty heavy rock. You remind me of the classics, some Sabbath, some classic rock type situations. Do you have modern influences as well?

L: I would say we have a lot of modern influences. We listen to so much when we’re sitting in the van for nine hours that we take in a lot and are always bringing it back to rehearsal. Like, ‘how can we use this, how can we use that.’ But I would say Queens of the Stone Age are a big influence, The Kills, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Tame Impala, we listen to a lot of hip hop that also comes into play.

Really? How do you find that the hip hop effects your music? 

A: I think more than anything… well, definitely the groove and the beat because hip hop drums comes from the same place as rock drums, and the rhythms are the same. But I think also the attitude, a lot of the time. You could say that about any music though.

J: Yeah definitely the attitude.

What would you say is your biggest influence that I wouldn’t expect? bandit2

L: I’d say Biggie. We loves Biggie.

J: Just the whole attitude thing there.

How far is it from here to Denver?

L: Like a sixteen hour drive. It’s not great.

Who drives the most?

L: John.

J: I’m kind of a control freak, I like to drive a lot.

L: John likes to drive.

Would you say you’re the best driver?

J: Well, I don’t know.

L: No. [laughter]

J: I’d say Lulu’s the best.

L: I’m the most cautious driver.

A: I’m the best with the trailer. If you gotta back a trailer into something, I got it.

J: But if you wanna get there in maybe eight hours less, let me drive.

A: If you want somebody to drive a hundred miles an hour the whole time, not give a shit…

Law be damned, just go for it.

J: We listen to a lot of Motörhead when we drive that fast.

Yeah, that’s good for driving. Anything else? Any other music in the van?

A: Oh man, there are so many. We’re all over the place. We’ve been listening to a lot of Dr John

J: Lot of Iggy, his new album

A: And his old albums…

L: I love to listen to Portishead and nobody else ever wants to listen to it.

When you’re driving though that’s up to you.

L: Yeah. The Roots, listened to them on the way down here. Tame Impala’s new album

J: Humble Pie.

A: The Arcs, all that new Dan Auerbach stuff, that’s really good stuff. We listen to that a lot.

Do you guys write songs in the car? 

L: I don’t think we’ve ever done that. It’s not the most inspirational place to be.

J: I’ve thought about words and stuff, but…

Who writes most of the lyrics?

J: We split it up usually, and then we’ll bring it into practice.

How do you start a song?

J: Well usually it’s a riff or something. I usually just sit down with the guitar and noodle.

Have fun until something materializes?

J: Yeah and then we put words to that, bring the song to practice, and then kind of develop it from there.

So you start with it and then the group kinda builds off of it?

J: Yeah either me or Lulu will start, and then we’ll bring it to Andrew and all converge.

L: Yeah, we’ll keep developing ideas.

Which of your songs would you say best encapsulates your sound?

J: That’s a hard question to answer because a lot of our songs have different vibes.

L: I would say our band has kind of a dual personality, because John and I split up being lead singers, and I think that’s why our new 7″ is so good. We’re gonna be releasing a vinyl in a couple weeks, and it has my single where I’m the singer and it’s a different vibe.

J: Yeah there’s two different vibes going on, which is kinda cool.

What’s your favorite song to play on stage?

A: I mean we always… The closer song of our set usually has a big, like, jam section at the end where we get really quiet and then build it up really big. It’s a little more psychedelic and gets really heavy at the end, and that one’s always really fun because it’s the end of the set.

L: That one’s always really fun.

J: Yeah I think I’d say that one.

Do you guys try to give off a certain vibe on stage? A personality?

J: Definitely. I mean, we’re just a very, very high-energy band. We kinda have to be because our music is so aggressive…

L: We want our crowd to know that it’s okay to dance around.

J: And that we enjoy the music. I don’t like going to see bands and then they just stand there. Especially for a rock and roll, you know.

L: We wanna go crazy, we wanna get rowdy.

Do you get the crowds to mosh or anything?

J: We’ve had a few moshes…

I mean, they happen on their own. You don’t have to be like ‘hey excuse me’…

L: ‘Hey excuse me, can you start moshing down there? Thank you.’

J: There was one show we played in Lincoln, Nebraska that was the last day of our tour and we weren’t expecting anybody to be there, and then it was a packed room of 300 people, going fucking crazy.

L: Crazy, stage diving and stuff. We were like, what? What is Nebraska?

Yeah, I wouldn’t have expected that.

A: We were moshing ourselves the other night. The first night we were here we went and saw the OCs and few other bands, we played some shows with them back in Denver so we know them, and we were just moshing in the front. I got hit in the head. It was awesome.

What’s your craziest partying on stage, head-banging, ‘oh I hit my head’ kind of story?

J: Oh, I mean we always knock–I knock over everything.

L: John, yeah, he knocks everything over. But I think injury-wise, John has hit both Andrew and I with his head stock so many times. It’s the worst.

That’s dangerous.

J: There was one show I remember, I don’t know what I was doing, we were obviously all drinking quite a bit. I was down on the ground and I got up and just fell into the drumset, passed out almost. I didn’t really realize what had happened.

A: There was one show where you just kept knocking over a drum of mine, like in the middle of a set, kept knocking it over, and so I ended up playing the rest of the set with just a kick and a snare and a high hat because everything else was all over the place.

You’re not gonna change in the middle of a song, not gonna try to fix it. 

A: Yeah I was like ‘just go with it.’ There was another show where John had his amps stacked up on each other, and at the end of the night he knocked both of them over and then chucked his guitar at the wall. He almost hit me in the head, like, the guitar was this far from my face.

L: Literally going straight for his head.

Did you break it? You break your guitar?

J: No it was completely fine! It was a hollow body too, I was expecting it to be, like, snapped in half, but…

A: And the amps were both fine.

L: Lucky.

You guys go through instruments or equipment?

J: Not at all.

L: I mean, you would think that we would. I definitely get nervous about it. John knocks over so much stuff, like my keyboard–the volume knob doesn’t work anymore because John’s knocked it over so many times.

A: Every single show John knocks that thing over. He has a vendetta against it, I think he just hates it.

L: One of these days we’re gonna be out on tour and my keyboard’s gonna break for real and then I won’t have one.

And then that’s it.

L: And then that’s it, and then our band is done and we’ll quit forever.

Hopefully you don’t do that. One last question–what’s next? You guys on tour still?

J: So after SXSW we’re gonna go home, we’re gonna go into the studio and just record everything we got, and we’ll kinda just see what happens from there. Then we got a lot of shows coming up in April, and then May we’re gonna be releasing our 7″, so lots of stuff.

L: Hopefully we tour some more. We’re gonna be doing a lot of touring over the summer and the fall.

Well good luck with that, looking forward to it.

L: Thanks so much.

Thanks for the interview, do you mind if we take a quick selfie?

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WILD NOTHING: LIFE OF PAUSE
February 24, 2016 3:55 pm

Jack Tatum aka Wild Nothing has returned with Life of Pause, his third full-length installment on Captured Tracks. Once again Tatum builds majestically shimmering dreamscapes that incorporate a varied palette of influences. This is a record dripping with nostalgia, which seems to not only stem from the particular sounds Tatum jives towards, but also the themes from which Life of Praise revolves. Not uncommon among aspiring artists coming of age, Tatum’s sound explorations mimic his own personal experiences as he grapples of themes not unfamiliar to the Dream Pop cannon: identity, coming of age, love.

lifeLife of Pause opening track “Reichpop” grabs you right through the time-space-continuum portal into a Remain In Light-era Talking Heads groove accompanied by nonsensical lyrics “I am the silencer / I am the only one”.  “Japanese Alice” opens with Shoegazey guitar swerves recalling My Bloody Valentine, but then quickly settles into a funk cut more akin to Toro Y Moi. “Lady Blue” sounds like it was penned by Buckingham-Nicks for Fleetwood Mac’s forgotten late-70s synthesizer record.  It’s on “Lady Blue” that Tatum begins one of many spacey inward discussions about love, “will I find a way / to make sense of the way that you love me?” On “Every Women’s Wisdom”, Tatum points out to a perspective lover, “I don’t believe in heaven / but baby, you can be my church.”  Who wouldn’t be flattered by that line? The title track has an odd resemblance both sonically and stylistically to Foxygen’s “How Can You Really”, which makes sense since both artists cup their hands into a similar stream of hazy 70s leisure rock vibes.   On “Whenever I” Tatum comes full circle, realizing, “And I thought you were onto me / And I thought you’d be good for me / But I know what you are now.”

Overall Life of Pause is nothing short of an entrancing, fluid, well-constructed collection of tunes. If you’re into either neo-psych wave of bands currently in vogue such as Tame Impala or the aforementioned Foyxygen, or dream pop standbys like Beach House or Kurt Vile, this record is a shoe in.  The only real critique is that 11 tracks and close to an entire hour’s worth of transcendental psych can really start to drag on.  But perhaps that’s not such a negative, as it allows you to come back another day and still have a few fresh tracks to bring you back in.

Wild Nothing will be touring extensively in support of Life of Pause, check out dates here.

Artist of the Month: Multimagic
September 28, 2015 9:39 pm

It’s that time of the year again, when spots throughout New York City transform from concrete jungle to music mecca. CMJ is upon us and the beasts could not be more stoked! For one week in the middle of October, it will be impossible to walk down the street without hearing sounds from emerging artists across the globe pulling you into bars and clubs from all directions.

Even more impossible – selecting one of these artists to feature as our October “Artist of the Month.”

We landed on Multimagic and the landing stuck.

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Multimagic is a five-piece Indie-Pop outfit composed of Singer/Guitarist Coran Stetter, Keyboardist Brian Davis, Guitarist/Singer Ben Hines, Bassist/Singer Mia Carruthers, and Drummer Sebastien Schultz. They all met in Cincinnati, OH where they were each involved in the local music scene in different capacities. When I asked how the band got started, Singer/Guitarist Coran Stetter said “Once the five of us were in the same room, it was clear that something was happening and the friendships blossomed out of that realization and commitment to the project.” The take-away word there for me is “friendships.” You can really feel the friendship in the way their music comes together with such ease– whether it’s the keys and the guitars riffing off of one another or the vocals sliding in and out of harmony seamlessly.

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Of their musical influences, Stetter cites Arcade Fire, Wild Nothing, and Tame Impala. However, he also mentions the significance that local Cincinnati bands like Molly Sullivan and The Yugos have had on their music.  There is something magical (dare I say multimagical?) about this band. Maybe it’s the energy booming from the up-tempo bass/drums? Perhaps it’s the dreamy quality of the ethereal synth pads fluttering beneath bouncy guitars? For me, it’s the way the band seems to blend large scale indie-pop sound with their own local flavor in stand-out anthems like Let Go.”

With only three songs released to date, Multimagic’s appearance at this year’s CMJ is a testament only to the strength of the music—a refreshing change of pace in today’s pop music landscape.

As for what we have to look forward to from this band, we’ll have to wait and see. They’re currently in the studio recording their debut full-length record, though they have no set release date. While I personally am on the edge of my seat waiting for more music from this group, I did find comfort  in knowing that I get to see them play live at CMJ in just a couple weeks. If you’re in the New York area, be sure to check them out on Wednesday 10/14 at The Holy Underground showcase at 7:30 . You do not want to be the one who missed this band when they’re playing sold out venues later down the road. See CMJ tour dates below!

MULTIMAGIC CMJ DATES:

TUESDAY 10/13: DoNYC CMJ Kick-off @ Arlene’s Grocery – 4pm

WEDNESDAY 10/14: Holy Underground @ Berlin – 7:30pm

THURSDAY 10/15: Birddog Day Party @ Bowery Electric – 2:30pm

Band Mom Presents @ Passenger – 1:15am (Thursday Night)

SATURDAY 10/17: Hallelujah Blackout @ The Rock Shop – 4pm

Sunflower Bean Blending Flavors
September 24, 2015 4:30 pm

If you’re looking for a soundtrack to accompany your drugged out road trip through the desert, then I have the perfect band for you.

SunFlower Bean

Sunflower Bean‘s latest release Show Me Your Seven Secrets hit all the psychedelic buttons you’ve been missing since the 60’s, and some others besides. Incorporating elements of punk, grunge, and even jam music, New York’s Sunflower Bean is putting a new spin on the spaced out rock of old. They flash more grit than other current psychedelia-charged groups like Tame Impala, and their songs carry a feel closer to the raucous bands of past decades than the tight indie-electronic groups so popular today.

The band invites this comparison with a track and video off the new EP called “Tame Impala.” The song kicks off with a low fuzzy riff before bassist Julia Cumming comes in with a squealing cry. The song settles with groove and guitarist Nick Kivlen comes in with a countering spacey melody. The song flips to a halftime feel with Black Sabbath-esque undertones. Shots of the pair rocking out with drummer Jacob Faber in front of a wall of blacklight posters proves that they hold true to their psych roots.

With a new spin on psychedelic that brings more attitude, Sunflower Bean has its niche nicely carved out.

 

Sol Cat Keepin’ it Trippy
July 18, 2015 9:00 am

If somebody’s going to name their band Sol Cat you’d think that they’d be a groovy, old school jazz orchestra…or at least have a liking for cats. “I’m super allergic to cats and I don’t like dogs either. I’m actually not an animal person for the record. Except fish, I love fish” lead singer Brett Myers tells me. Apparently the name was given by some “‘bohemian roulette dealer” that he came across while taking a vacation in the bahamas. “I could be hallucinating still, I still can’t figure out if it happened or not.”

This five piece band hailing from Nashville, Tennessee played a trippy show at Pianos and seemed to attract a wide range of fans from young hipsters to middle aged men in suits. They stay true to their dance-y psychedelic tunes and it’s clear that they’ve pulled influences from classic rock. Brett’s deep vocals echo through the room sending good vibes to everyone in the room who start swaying their body to the music. There’s something nostalgic about their sound that no other band has achieved so far, instantly bringing you back to the 90’s music scene.

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These kool kats met in college while Tom Myers (drummer) was schooling at a different location and eventually connected through mutual friends. “We were most like acquaintances in similar groups that kind of overlapped, so the band didn’t click until pretty much my last semester of college.” They originally envisioned Sol Cat as a World Music genre with “crazy, eclectic, Latin, African percussive influences with more contemporary pop American sort of things. So the original demos are very hilarious.” As much as we’d like to hear Sol Cat jam on congos and bongos, sadly, they are no where to be found on the interwebs.

They’ll be touring pretty much non-stop this month which means they’ll be spending most of their time in a van, sleeping and talking about “weird stuff.” “Jaan threw up a caesar salad on the way to New York [laughs]. We left really early and I don’t know why we had to be up here so early. That’s the most interesting thing that’s happened in the van so far.” Living their life in a van for a month seems pretty adventurous and fun, but Tom mentions the downside of it – “I miss my fiance. I should also plug in my dog, I miss my dog. I miss consistency, being home, and sleeping in my bed.” On the other hand, Brett seems to prefer the tour life. “I enjoy being on the road for the most part. I would say I miss being able to not have a schedule. I just miss waking up whenever I want to and work on music, be productive and just lay low.”

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Unlike every other band that writes music on the road, Brett prefers to write in the comfort of his home. “I don’t really do writing on the road thing. I hardly ever write anything when I’m on tour. My theory is that if I don’t write anything while we’re gone for two weeks, by the time we get home just by the nature of life, I have things that I need to get out after that. So it’s almost like – you’ll fill the glass up for two weeks, and then when you get home you just spill it. I find it really hard to sit in the van or venue and try to write. I think it’s awesome when dudes can go sit in the corner of bar and bring a notepad and channel it, but I can’t do that.”

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Being able to work as full time musicians now, he talks about another great job he’s had in the past working at a zipline when he was a teenager…Which turned out to be sort of a life lesson. “I loved pushing kids off that zipline! Think about it, this kids crying and you’re 40/50 ft up in the air and have a 100 yard zipline rolling down that makes them nervous, but guarantee every time they got to the bottom they came back and wanted to do it again. And that’s life. You just gotta push people ’til they fucking feel so uncomfortable they have nothing to do but have a good time and they come back for more.” So deep.

They released their EP “UNO” a few weeks ago and have another called “DOS” that should be out “August-ish.” They also have an appearance at Austin City Limits at the end of the summer, so don’t forget to give them some love if you come across them!

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Governors Ball 2015 Rocked NYC
June 17, 2015 7:43 pm

Governors Ball kicked off on Randall’s Island last weekend, bringing back the best outdoor music festival in New York, and my personal favorite time of year. Although the sky was filled with clouds letting down a light drizzle, droves of music fans continued on their quest across the RFK Triborough bridge in search of the booming music that could be heard all the way in Harlem. The bridge offered a sneaking glimpse of the Main Stage while walking towards the festival grounds, empty beer cans and bottles littered about on the way, the first sign of the free wielding party atmosphere that Governors Ball always delivers on.

The first act I encountered was GorgonCity, who brought an intense energy to the Gotham tent. The crowd bounced up and down with their hands in the air as they played their biggest single to date (and a new personal favorite) “Ready for Your Love.”

Charlie XCX delivered a powerful performance on the Honda stage, proving herself as one of the most intriguing pop artists today. While most artists would be happy to let their background dancers carry the show, Charlie matched her vocal prowess with some amazing dances moves, even rapping Iggy Azalea’s verse in “Fancy.” Charlie closed the set out with an excellent version of “Boom Clap” which had the crowd singing along to every word, but ended on an even more powerful moment, asking the crowd to join her in a feminist call for recognition of “pussy power.”

Chromeo came back to GovBall for a second time, this time blasting songs out from the main stage. They played their newest songs before breaking into a Vampire Weekend cover, teasing the crowd before delivering the full thing. They then broke into “Bonafied Lovin”, moving the crowd with their sweet beats under the hot summer sun. The undeniable party anthem “2 Step” followed, leading the crowd to a 2 step dance party at the end of their set.

The crowd for Odesza swarmed out of the Gotham tent late in the afternoon, spilling into the field behind it as their booming beats flowed out. A cloud of smoky haze arose as the set continued and they played their hits “Say My Name” and “All We Need.”

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The nostalgia crowd for Death from above 1979 was thin at this years Governors Ball, not matching last years turn out for The Strokes.  But despite this, Sebastian Grainger and Jesse Keeler continued to pummel their instruments, unleashing a sonic barrage across the crowd.

The backdrop of the stage shimmered in the wind as Florence + the Machine took the stage, the sun setting to the right of the stage, making for a perfect setting for an epic festival set. The band started the set with “What the Water Gave Me,” an apt choice as the Hudson River quietly flowed to the right of the main stage. Florence took time between each song to tell the crowd how excited she was to be there, mentioning how she was actually performing with a broken foot, but you could never tell the way she ran and danced around the stage. A Buzz Lightyear ballon took off over the crowd as they broke into their third song “Shake It Out,” the stage lights holding the audience captive in a way they haven’t all day. By the fifth song, every chorus was an endless call and response from the crowd, like hits “Sweet Nothing” and “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.” Florence stopped for a moment when she saw an audience member holding up a handmade sign asking for a “hug?,”  quickly replying “crowd surf up here and you can get your hug!” A girl in a purple dress instantly floated over the crowd, taking the stage to collect her hug from each member of the band, awestruck as she did it. It was this happy atmosphere that the band held through the entire set that made this one of the best shows of the evening, when they ended their set with a rousing version of “The Dog Days Are Over.”

St. Vincent drowned the crowd in the thick reverb of her guitar at the Big Apple, showcasing her skill as one of the heaviest players in rock music currently. Synchronized dancers blast off 80’s inspired dance moves behind her, adding to her rock aesthetic. Throwing her guitar into the crowd on the last song, the excellent “Krokodil,” St. Vincent showed off her punk rock side.

My morning Jacket
My Morning Jacket
played to an ecstatic crowd, delivering their pure guitar driven rock against the dark night sky. Looking like a cross between Allan Ward and Jimi Hendrix, lead singer Jim James picked away at his guitar precisely, performing a medley of the bands greatest hits including “Big Decisions,” “Compound Fracture,” and ending the set with a excellent version of “One Big Holiday.


Drake
hit the stage to the opening beats of “Legend” off of his new album, working from the moment of his headlining set to cement his legacy at Governors Ball. The stage was decorated in a jungle theme, pulled directly from his recent tour with Future, who had performed earlier in the day. With an unbound confidence, Drizzy ran through a setlist of his greatest hits, including “Crew Love,” “The Motto,” and “HYFR.” He even took time to turn the lyrics of his songs to reflect New York City, calling out “all those Brooklyn girls who like to take it slow.” Hopefully he makes good on his teaser of an OVO Festival in New York City sometime soon.

Drake

Overall the festival was more crowded and fast paced than last year, barely giving the audience a second to catch their breath before the cant-miss performances from some of the biggest names in music. with additional art installations and plenty of spaces to find a wide array of food and an easy place to use the bathroom, GovBall continues to prove itself as one of the best festivals in the country, providing a comprehensive festival experience while just across the river from the nonstop grind of Manhattan.