Gabriel Garzón-Montano Injects France and Colombia into American Neo-Soul

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You might not know his name, but it is likely that you will recognize Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s voice. Garzón-Montano was pulled into the spotlight after Drake sampled his track “6 8". But he is determined not to let that define him. “I don’t want to be that guy that got sampled on ‘Jungle’,” he said, “I don’t want that to give me my value”.

I think those concerns have been effectively erased with the release of his full-length debut Jardín. As the primary vocalist, instrumentalist, and composer for Jardín, there is no doubt left about this man’s talent.

Music became part of Garzón-Montano’s life from an early age. Gaining the foundations of classical training from his mother, he learned violin as a child before moving on to guitar, drums, bass, and piano. His resulting musical career has incorporated his experiences with urban electronic and hip-hop, as well as influences from his French-Colombian heritage.

It’s actually quite a feat to locate Garzón-Montano’s sound on the wide map of his influences. I would place it somewhere between chill funk and neo-soul, balanced with a touch of psychedelia and a hard penchant for groove. On Jardín, this has culminated in a luxurious ode to life, beauty, and romance. The layered vocals and lush instrumentals across each track are irresistible.

Opening with “Trial”, Jardín eases the listener in with soft harmonies laid across a restrained string performance. The next few tracks build up to soulful vocals from Garzón-Montano, punctuated by the funky rhythms of “The Game” and “Crawl”. From this point onward, Jardín somehow feels like its own microcosm. It’s minimalistic at times, yet eerily moody in a world that seems very much separate from ours. Garzón-Montano is quite aware of this. He closes the album with the gentle, soothing melody of “Lullaby”, perhaps as if to delicately deposit the listener back into reality.

I’m very impressed with this release. The intricacies and details in Jardín seem to indicate that we can expect more great things from Garzón-Montano. He is certainly surpassing his time in the spotlight as “the guy that got sampled on ‘Jungle’”. He is making his own name for himself, and I look forward to what he will bring us in the future, perhaps with a bit more polish if nothing else.

Excellent for fans of: Jordan Rakei, Hiatus Kaiyote, The Internet, D’Angelo

More from Gabriel Garzón-Montano: SoundCloud / Bandcamp / Facebook / Twitter

-Emily Tasaka

Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!

Album Review: Matt Martians’ The Drum Chord Theory

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The Internet blew me away with Ego Death in 2015. The album was cohesive, masterfully produced, and showcased the talents of each individual in the group. Now, two years later, the members of The Internet have decided to take a break from their group act and pursue their solo careers. The first of The Internet to release a solo project is Matt Martians, the group’s keyboardist. His first solo album, The Drum Chord Theory, can easily be traced back to the sound of his collective, but he also manages to venture into areas unknown and take the listener on a psychedelic-albeit scattershot-journey.

One of the most striking characteristics of the album is its dependency on the drums. Despite Martians experience with the piano, the drums play a larger role in driving each song forward and maintaining the melody (if the album title wasn’t already a giveaway). That’s not to say that Martians doesn’t utilize his piano skills or experiment with other instruments. The instrumentals on the album take a hefty amount of risks, most of which pay off. A majority of the time they take precedence over Martians’ singing, playing long before and after Martians sings. One song in particular, “Where Are Your Friends?” sounds like it was intentionally recorded in a factory, with the instrumental miming the sounds of hammers and whistles. The sound of that would normally be annoying, but Martians uses the sounds to add a playful mood to the song. Others don’t pay off as well, like on “Alotta Women/Useless”, where the piano chords overwhelm the other instruments and Martians’ repetitive lyrics wear themselves out.

This brings me to one of the significant issues with The Drum Chord Theory. Martians depends too much on the instrumentation to create a quality song. Each unique instrumental is paired with lyrics that are too sparse or shallow to derive any meaning from. Take the song “Found Me Some Acid Tonight”; Martians repeats “I found me some acid tonight/And we gon’ trip to the other side” before the song abruptly cuts off. This is not the only instance where Martians is caught repeating himself, and it continually dulls down the album to the point of boredom.

Martians also lacks a concept to attach to his album. He mostly croons about love and his search for the perfect companion, but never really connects these songs together to create an overarching theme. Concept albums aren’t a mandatory staple of the music industry, but it helps to have an idea that the artist can work around and build off of for an album. J. Cole comes to mind when thinking about this, as he did a fairly nice job with a concept on his latest album 4 Your Eyez Only, choosing to base the album off of his friend’s death.

Despite the issues with The Drum Chord Theory, Martians has released a solid album. Numerous songs include inventive beat changes that force the listener to stay on their toes. The groovy bass and guitar lines sound reminiscent of Thundercat and Tame Impala. Martians’ features absolutely crush their appearances (Steve Lacy and Tyler, the Creator produce; Syd, Steve Lacy, and Kari Faux feature). The lyrics, however, are nothing to ride home about and hang on the verge of redundancy. The absence of a concept also makes the album impossible to comprehend as one single work. The Drum Chord Theory doesn’t break the stratosphere, but it’s not supposed to. This album has proved Martians’ potential, and that we should be prepared for what he has to come. Listen to The Drum Chord Theory here and catch The Internet at The Neptune on March 17.

Archie O’Dell

Feeling funky? You Might Need Some Jungle Fire

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(Photo from KCRW)

Hey y’all. It’s a new year, which means we should be pumped about all the new music headed our way in the coming months. I welcomed 2017 in search of some seriously gritty, deliciously zesty funk, and I set out to see what I could uncover from the Internet troves. Not too far in, I discovered a band called Jungle Fire. And let me tell you: these guys have probably the most fitting name ever. Eleven members strong, Jungle Fire fuse Afrobeat and Latin elements with their LA funk roots. The result is red-hot and explosive and so, so funky. It’s the kind of music that gets you moving wherever you are.

The group was originally founded as a one-off project for a festival in LA’s Chinatown. That was six years ago. Since then, the band has released one full-length album, Tropicoso. “Comencemos”, a cover of Fela Kuti’s “Let’s Start” and the record’s second track, gives a nod to the band’s Afro-funk influences. Bold horns and a punchy rhythm section pull together a raw, cumbia interpretation of Fela’s original. The rest of the album expands on this beat-driven sound, drawing on Afro-Caribbean percussion instruments. My personal favorite is the title track, “Tropicoso”. The baritone sax in this is great. (Apparently this guy can also play the flute?!)

Next week, keep your ears peeled. Jungle Fire is dropping a new album, Jambu, on February 3rd. If you’re looking for more fireball funk, then this is for you. If you’re not, check it out anyway. I highly recommend.

Find Jungle Fire here: Facebook / Bandcamp / SoundCloud

-Emily Tasaka

Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!

Thundercat Drops Single “Show You the Way”, Announces New Album Drunk

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Thundercat has been under the radar recently. He quietly released the single “Bus in These Streets” nearly half a year ago but since has made no hint of any new music. That changed today when he released the song “Show You the Way” featuring Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, as well as revealed that his new album Drunk would be available February 24. “Show You the Way” features Thundercat’s signature high-pitched singing and smooth instrumentation, and Loggins and McDonald both lend their voices to make the single even smoother than I thought was humanly possible. Along with the new song and album release date, Thundercat released the tracklist for Drunk. At 23 tracks long, the album is going to take time to fully digest. Check out the tracklist below (which includes some noteworthy features), and listen to “Show You the Way” here.

Drunk Tracklist:

01. Rabbot Ho
02. Captain Stupido
03. Uh Uh
04. Bus in These Streets
05. A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song Suite II)
06. Lava Lamp
07. Jethro
08. Day & Night
09. Show You The Way [ft. Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins]
10. Walk on By [ft. Kendrick Lamar]
11. Blackkk
12. Tokyo
13. Jameel’s Space Ride
14. Friend Zone
15. Them Changes
16. Where I’m Going
17. Drink Dat [ft. Wiz Khalifa]
18. Inferno
19. I Am Crazy
20. 3AM
21. Drunk
22. The Turn Down [ft. Pharrell]
23. DUI

Archie O’Dell

Slowdive new single: “Star Roving”

Legendary 90s shoegaze band Slowdive has returned with their first new music since 1995’s Pygmalion. Although the group reformed in 2014 for some live performances, they have not released any new tracks until now. 

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I’ll admit, whenever an older band releases new music after long periods of inactivity, I’m usually not expecting much, but Slowdive has such a strong track record of excellent music that I was cautiously optimistic when I heard they had been in the studio. 

“Star Roving” does not disappoint. While their last album had a more minimalist, ambient vibe to it, their newest track recalls the sound of their earlier releases with layers of fuzzy-sounding guitar and distorted vocals. The music in some places sounds reminiscent of the band’s old contemporaries Ride or Chapterhouse, although I was reminded on first listen of the more upbeat Yo La Tengo tracks. I had worried that any new music they put out would sound uninspired or derivative, as can sometimes happen with band reunions, but “Star Roving” shows the band hasn’t lost their songwriting abilities. Hopefully the quality of this track is reflective of any future music Slowdive may put out. 

Find Slowdive here: 

Twitter / Website

-Noah Prince

Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!