The 1975

FEED THE BEAT
July 28, 2016 12:15 pm

Going on tour is an integral part of being in a band. Traveling all day and playing music all night in different places all over is the dream. However being in a band is less glamorous as most people picture it and unfortunately not many bands make a lot of money from shows. Usually money made from shows goes to gas and eating, so most bands come home just breaking even.

Thankfully, the Taco Gods have you covered. Taco Bell, beloved by stoners and broke kids alike have a campaign called Feed The Beat, which offers touring bands free food (suddenly I wish my mom pushed guitar lessons on me instead of soccer).

According to their site:

Since 2006, Taco Bell and its Feed The Beat program has helped support more than 900 artists/bands. Along the way, we have helped fans discover new bands, and bands discover new fans. Feed the Beat support starts in the form of feeding touring musicians with $500 in Taco Bell gift cards – no strings attached.

Some artists that have been featured on the campaign include: Allison Weiss, Chris Farren, DREAMERS, Robert Delong, Superheaven, The So So Glos, The 1975, The Front Bottoms, Best Coast, Title Fight, Wavves and many more names.

The program is a great way to give back to people who give their all for their art. As someone who has toured with bands before, I’ve witnessed the hardships that bands can face while on the road.

Shout out to Taco Bell, your dedication to the arts doesn’t go unnoticed — I’ll forgive you for putting cheese on my bean burrito.

KAPTAN: GLITTER, NOT QUITE GOLD
January 6, 2016 3:44 pm

When Andres Gaos moved from Seattle to Nashville, he brought his “Shimmery Indie Pop” with him. If you want proof, just listen to Kaptan’s five song EP, Sprinter.

If there is one thing Kaptan has done perfectly, it’s their genre declaration. The EP really shimmers all the way through. While it is certainly not dull, it also doesn’t really shine.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. Kaptan is at its best when it’s shimmery sound lands somewhere in between. Take the first track, “Way Out.” It starts with a bouncy guitar riff and tacky percussion. Enter the bright synths. What could lead into an overdone, The 1975-esque (you can see how I feel about their new stuff here…) verse, instead offers a pleasant male-female vocal duo. This keeps the song from getting overblown—the energy of the band keeps us bouncing forward, while the vocals let us lay back in the grass on a sunny day.

This juxtaposition is best exemplified on the third song, “Everything.” Again, the energy and brightness of the synths and the guitars keep the song going in a positive direction. When Gaos comes in to the chorus singing calmly “Everything is all right,” you believe him. How could everything not be all right when this music is so pleasant and he is obviously sure that that it will be?

Unfortunately, two of the other three songs sound pretty much just like those two I mentioned, except they are not as successful. For Kaptan’s formula to work, each ingredient needs to be perfectly measured. “Anywhere We Go” comes in a bit over-spiced, and “Let Go” a bit bland. The EP ends on an outlier, “Closer Now.” The first time I heard it I assumed Spotify had started playing a remix of one of their songs. The half-time electro R&B jam feels like it’s out of Kaptan’s wheelhouse. Like trying to use the ingredients of one recipe to make a completely different dish.

Sprinter by Kaptan shows some serious promise. Gaos certainly has an ear for catchy pop melodies. The trick will be figuring out how to make Kaptan’s songs stand apart without getting repetitive.

PHILLY LOSES ITS MIND FOR THE 1975
December 7, 2015 1:08 pm

The 1975 played a sold-out show at The Fillmore in Philadelphia this past Saturday.

IMG_6853

Photo by Kenzie Gasper

The wildly popular indie rock band first hit American airwaves with their 2013 single “Chocolate” and gained a huge fan base seemingly overnight. The band is currently in the middle of an international tour to promote their upcoming album, I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It. 

Rising indie pop group Swim Deep opened the show with songs from both their debut album and their recent sophomore effort, Mothers. Their bubbly, dream-like pop vibes complimented The 1975’s sound nicely, making me groove more than I initially intended.

Finally, around 9 pm, the house lights dimmed and all four members of The 1975 walked out to greet their adoring audience.  The stage setup was simple yet aesthetically pleasing, all pastels and neon lights. Upon seeing lead singer Matty Healy, almost every female in the room began screaming and jumping up and down (myself included). The band opened with their latest hit, “Love Me” (which I haven’t been able to stop listening to lately). In all my years of attending shows, I have never seen anything quite like the hysteria I witnessed that night. A gaggle of young girls standing next to me were nearly in tears during the first half of the show. Healy makes a perfect frontman, exuding the raw sex appeal of a young Mick Jagger while still seeming strangely approachable; a dichotomy that has aided in him being known as one of the best live performers of this generation.  The band played for a little over an hour and covered nearly every song in their catalog, including “She’s American,” off of their yet-to-be-released album.

“We have two more songs for you tonight, and I bet you can’t guess what they are,” Healy playfully announced, before going into fan-favorites “Chocolate” and
“Sex.” Before walking off stage, the band spent a few moments waving goodbye and thanking everyone for coming. Drummer George Daniel threw his sticks into the audience, the house lights came back on, and they were gone.

I didn’t think it was possible for me to love The 1975 more than I already do, but after seeing them play live I have a new respect for them. If you get a chance to go to one of their shows, I highly recommend going. They will also be playing at Firefly Music Festival in 2016, so if you’re planning on attending make sure to stick around and check them out!

IMG_6902

Photo by Kenzie Gasper

SWIM DEEP LOOKS ON THE BRIGHT SIDE
December 4, 2015 2:50 pm

Swim Deep is having a small disaster. The Birmingham band arrived in New York a day ago, but Virgin Atlantic is holding their gear hostage somewhere in Newark. The night’s planned performance has been turned into a DJ set, and the band is trying to make the best of the situation.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS sat down in the green room at Baby’s All Right with band members Austin Williams, Zach Robinson, and Cavan McCarthy to try and figure out how to make lemonade from an incompetent-ass airline.

smashfdgj

It’s been raining for two days. I think it was waiting for you to come in from England so you’d feel at home.

AW: Everyone said that when we got here. They said, “You’ve brought it with you.” Sorry

You brought your weather and left your gear.

AW: We’ve had such bad luck. But it’ll be fine.

On the bright side, your album was voted one of the top albums of 2015 by NME. Congratulations, that’s pretty good.

AW: Thanks very much. We’re lucky, yeah.

Tomorrow you start your tour with The 1975. You’ve toured with them in the past, right?

AW: It was like two years ago in Europe.

ZR: We’ve done a few shows in the UK with them,

AW: They’re nice guys. They’re quite grounded. They’re well-mannered, and just good people. They’ve come from the bottom as well, which is great. They’ve worked their way up. It’s inspiring.

Are you looking forward to doing anything in the city while you’re here?

AW: We did a lot today, cause when we found out that our stuff wasn’t gonna get in until [we thought] we could play, we decided that we would just go and look at stuff like tourists.

CM: We went to see the 9/11 memorial.

AW: We just walked for ages uptown, and then went to see the [site of the] Physical Graffiti album by Led Zeppelin. We went to the East Village and that area, and then it started raining so we went back to our friend’s. We’ve been here before.

smashIn 2013.

AW: Yeah, and then I came here last year. It’s nice, it feels a lot more familiar now. It’s such an amazing place, I think.

It’s fun.

AW: It seems fun, I wish I could stay longer.

Were you working when you were here last year?

AW: No, I just came on my own with a few friends for a holiday.

I’m glad you’re back. I remember the first time you were here in 2013, and a lot of the time, we get these bands from the U.K. who come here once and then we never see them again.

AW: Well, it’s money isn’t it? The thing that’s disappointing about tonight, is we may not have another chance to come out here for so long now. We can really only do this show, because we’re supporting The 1975.

And tomorrow you’re in Boston.

AW: Yeah, and then we play in New York on the day after that at Terminal 5. So at least we get to play here and I guess some of our fans, we share some of the same fans, will get to see us. It’s a shame, you know, cause musicians don’t get any money, so it’s hard to travel so much.

I bet you could get Virgin Atlantic to fund another trip out here.

ZR: Hopefully, we can.

AW: We can get our fans to tweet them.

I will gladly badmouth them on social media in support of that. I remember around the time your first album came out (Where the Heaven Are We in 2013), journalists in England started talking about a “B-Town” music scene, centered in Birmingham. Mainly, I think it was just you and (fellow Birmingham band) Peace that had become popular around the same time. Do you think there’s any truth to there being a B-Town scene, or is that sort of just hype that had been floating around the internet?

AW: As soon as the journalists put pen to paper, the scene’s over. So as soon as they name something, it’s over. But in terms of before that, yeah definitely. We were just mates, hanging out, drinking, trying to have as much fun as possible in the city. And then we all started bands, and started playing stuff, and then it was us and the band Peace that got attention, so I guess they wanted to get something out of it. There wasn’t much going on in music, I guess. I mean there was, but there wasn’t any “scene” or whatever.

Birmingham’s such a good place for music, because the people that go and see shows there are so enthusiastic and lively. They give so much to the band when they go and see them. It’s a great place.

I’m actually interviewing your friends in Spector tomorrow night. What should I ask them?

AW: Ask them who their favorite member of Swim Deep is.

That’s good. Fred Macpherson [vocalist of Spector] was in your “Namaste” video, as well. Was his appearance a result of you being friends?

AW: One, he’s in a band and people know who he is. And two, he’s our friend. Also, we just thought it would be really funny. We have this panel of contestants, and we were trying to think, “Who looks like they could be on a game show?” Fred seemed perfect for it. We needed like one guy, the weird guy. It was a good day, [shooting] that video.

I know shooting can be a lot of long hours.

AW: I hate music videos. I hate the experience most of the time. But there’s been some really great times, like when we got to go to LA to shoot one, and we got to come here to New York to shoot one.

Which one was shot in New York?

AW: “She Changes the Weather”

The one with the swimming pool?

AW: It was a Jewish center in Brooklyn that the swimming pool was in. And we spent ages there. There was such a funny lifeguard there, who said he never had to get in the water, and we were all laughing about it and teasing him because he was such a guy you could tease. He was so in his own world. And he said, “I never get in the water, because I just never needed to.” And then I think someone did something, so he had to go in the water with one of those things that go up and down. And he moaned about it so much. He said he didn’t bring a change of clothes to work. That was fun. That was a fun day.

A lot of people who have interviewed you have mentioned that there’s such a big difference between the sound of the first and second albums. Have you thought about a third album yet? What bands are you currently listening to?

AW: I’m listening to a lot more stuff, just constantly. A much broader selection. I’ve definitely thought about a third album, but I think it’s going to come at a time when it’s right for us. We’ve got to think about when we want to get together.

ZR: We’re so excited to get started.

AW: It will come when it’s ready. We’re letting all of our stuff bubble, letting all of our influences marinate and do whatever, and then we come together and think about it properly. I’d like it to be something that can headline festivals. Something that can really make an impact. Something that means something to people. Something we can play at 12 o’clock on a Monday at a festival.

Who plays at noon on a Monday? 

ZR: We do. From 12-12. We have some festival dates coming up.

AW: I can’t wait. I want to start writing now, just speaking to it.

If you want something that sounds good at a festival, I guess it would be something really loud, right?

AW: Something that makes people listen to it. This last album, there are some tracks on it that really demand your attention, but I feel like the next one is going to be…it’s really going to demand it. Hopefully.

smash12Do you know where you’re touring yet?

AW: We’re looking to do secondary places in England that we haven’t really done before, like the smaller towns and stuff.

CM: The Firefly Festival in Delaware.

What are your plans for the holidays?

ZR: We all go back to Birmingham.

AW: Go see our families. I haven’t seen my family in so long.

Do any of you still live in Birmingham?

AW: Zach and I live in London.

[Cavan is in the middle of taking a sip of beer and gestures to himself.]

You do?

CM: [Nods] the best time of year in Birmingham is Christmas because everyone comes home. All of our friends.

Do you have any last words before your set tonight?

CM: Keep music alive.

AW: Sorry. And fuck Virgin Airlines.

Yes, fuck them.

AW: And see you next time.

READY OR NOT- MYZICA IS POISED TO BREAK OUT
November 9, 2015 2:46 pm

It’s official. The 80’s – so hot right now.

This is actually not news. This is a trend that has been building over the last decade and is now in full swing. For proof see Daft Punk’s 2013 Grammy Album of the Year, R.A.M. (hint: the secret ingredient is disco). Dozens of bands have been taking part in this trend, but one of the latest is Nashville’s Myzica. After forming in early 2014, Isaaca Byrd and Micah Tawlks produced a slick self-titled synth-pop EP that is quite easy to love. The band manages to do what many others operating in this space can’t (see: the new 1975 song). They take the best parts of 80’s synth pop and fuse it with everything that has come since. It’s a style that acknowledges that there is a reason 80’s music is going through its resurgence, but there’s also a reason some things got left in the 80’s.

myz

Photo by @Josh.redmon

The first song off the EP is the first Myzica song ever, “Ready or Not. It’s also pretty damn groovy. What separates this from other synth-pop songs of the 80’s and today is that it’s not overblown. They knew when to stop- when there were too many things going on. This is a trend that drives not only this song, but much of Myzcia’s music. The bouncy pocket of the verse in this song comes from the scarcity of the drums, bass and guitar. Each instrument is playing something reserved, yet interesting. The parts work together to build a tasty bed of greens for the Isaaca’s Raspberry-vinaigrette voice (sweet, with a bit of bite; adds significant color).

Friday the band opened for COIN at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville. Their promising EP seeded high expectations that the band followed through on. Isaaca and Micah were joined on stage by Garreth Spinn on guitar and Dabney Morris on drums. The pair fit in nicely, playing the syncopated parts with energy and flare, but without overstepping their bounds. Morris did a nice job integrating the various electronic drum noises without losing the feel of the song, and Spinn impressed not only with his complex-yet-reserved rhythm guitar, but also with his spry dance moves.

A highlight of the set came with a performance of Myzica’s newest release, a cover of “I Was Made For Lovin You” by KISS. This is a perfect cover for them. The original is from the time period that the genre references, but not exactly from the genre itself. Their version is fresh and dancy, different from the original, but still fueled by its nostalgia. While this seemed to be missed by the significant portion of the crowd that was there for COIN (aka: in high school), it did release a blast of energy into the room.

The stellar performance was hindered by only a few things, and keep in mind, this is being pretty nit-picky. Firstly, the band would benefit from more dynamic lighting. You can’t blame them here too much, as they were not the headlining act and therefore didn’t get the full treatment. But the groovy, exciting music calls for a groovy, exciting stage atmosphere to match. Myzica could also benefit from having a higher quality sound maintenance. While the sound was by no means bad, it seemed like it was not the ideal mix for them. Again, the venue had to leave room for the headline to come on after and sound better/louder, but the issue was more the mix than the volume. Isaaca’s voice was clear, but the synth sounds didn’t quite match up with the acoustic ones. In particular, the electric drum sounds lacked the body and presence they needed to fill out the songs.

Finally, the band needs a pinch more stage presence. When the music is super active, this is not a problem. For instance, when Isaaca was singing, she was captivating. She carried an energy and excitement that was contagious. But when she stepped back from the mic, that energy melted away. While she shouldn’t be in the forefront for the whole show, the group could find a way to carry that intensity throughout the more “low-energy” parts of the set.

These “issues” might seem trivial to some, but they stood out because everything else about the group was so polished. They are great musicians with great songs. They have a cool look and a cool sound. With a few tweaks, their live performance could go from “a lot of fun” to “absolutely bonkers.”

I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.