Oh Wonder—London artists debut for tour

In a packed venue full of eager and interactive fans,
Josephine Vander Gucht takes the microphone, looks at her partner Anthony West,
and back to her fans saying, “Listen, you can be an individual and you can be
weird and you can different.” The crowd roars in emotion and agreement and a
soulful song between the two begins.

Meet Oh Wonder. A London based duo, singing smooth and mellow,
R&B influenced synthpop (whose favorite band is none other than Seattle’s Death Cab for Cutie), the two
artists began their career together writing and releasing one single a month at
a time—which eventually turned into the development of a much loved, internet
crazed album.

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When asked about how the two first met, both artists look at
each other and chuckle, delving back into their past from years ago. A completely
chance meeting, the two met at a gig Vander Gucht played at in a small venue in
London, with West running lights for her show. One year later, the setting is
reversed and Vander Gucht finds herself at West’s show. Flash forward one more year, and the two finally find
themselves in a studio through a mutual friend and remembrance of their coincidental
meetings.

The two began writing songs together, and I went over
this in my mind as the starting point.  “Is
this where Oh Wonder first started—with
that first songwriting session?” I had to ask.

The two adamantly shake their heads.

“We weren’t looking to perform our songs at all, when we
first started,” Vander Gucht says to me, snuggled up on a dressing room couch. “We
had our own projects at the time.”

“We wrote together, purely as a writing project, as something
to improve our portfolios, to show what sort of work we could write as artists,”
West adds.

Finally in September 2014, Vander Gucht pushed West towards
putting their work online and the two began to publish one song a month, over
the course of year, the project developing into their now debut album. Soon after that, the two began touring together for the first time.

Having never toured together as combined artists during their
entire songwriting process, Vander Gucht smiles coyly at the mention of that
fact, remarking, “It almost became a joke between us, never playing live—never
wanting to play live.”

“We were only supposed to play 5 shows total, when we resigned
ourselves to playing live at all,” West says, almost chuckling. “5 cities
and that was it, but somehow, it turned into an entire tour.”

Modest, but talented, you almost can’t believe the mindset
the two have about their own music. With millions of streams on both Spotify
and Soundcloud, the two have become an internet sensation.  After completely finishing the recording of their
album and setting out on their American tour just a couple months ago, the reaction
across the states toward the artists has been incredible.

“We’ve scheduled a show at a smaller venue at every city on
our tour, but every time, we have to upgrade to a bigger venue!” Vander Gucht
laughs, almost in disbelief.

“We weren’t expecting to sell out so fast, and we actually
told our manager that we didn’t think it would happen,” West adds.

But it did.

And how are they holding up now with the tour and an overwhelming
number of fans at their shows every night, you might ask?

“We always knew people were listening. We just never figured
those streams would translate so tangibly and so effectively into actual people
showing up to your shows,” Vander Gucht says.

“It’s so much more real playing our songs live,” West adds
in.

And it is. Playing their biggest show on their tour thus far,
the two artists of Oh Wonder completely
sell out a packed venue at Neptune
Theatre
, with an audience responsive and emotionally engaged in every
single song the two play. The vibe of their music is stripped down and very focused
on lyrical melody, reminiscent of Joni
Mitchell
and her guitar. Yet at
the same time, the synthy pop influence in their music gives their album and
live performance a more current feel (think fellow contemporary Jack Garrett), highlighting the perfect
mesh of West’s alto and Vander Gucht’s soprano voices.

When asked about what the two like most about playing their
songs live, both West and Vander Gucht smile and reply, “It’s a completely
different atmosphere, it’s like our songs don’t belong to just us anymore.”

Vander Gucht chimes in, “I love performing ‘Landslide’, it’s
totally different live, and everyone is so good, everyone is singing and there
is just so much energy to it.”

“My favorite to play live is a song we do called ‘All We Do,’”
West replies after thinking about his favorite track to perform. “Live, it’s an
almost therapeutic thing, with the crowd singing it back as loud as they can, because
you know, they’ve all been listening to it online for ages, not being able to
sing it out loud, and live, it’s their first time to be able to sing it out
loud and I’m singing to them and they’re singing back to us and it’s
incredible.”

It’s almost a surreal experience watching the two perform
their songs live, in their first ever Seattle show, because they’re right—it is
incredible. As Josephine and Anthony sing the chorus of “Drive,” a smooth pop
song, layered with their soothing voices and perfectly timed violin, the entire
audience dances and sings in complete harmony. There is an unreal energy between
every person that ties the whole performance together. The soul and depth in
their voices, similar to James Blake
or Ben Howard is unbelievable, contributing to the quality of their stripped down, melody focused music.

“We just started
writing some songs in our bedroom and somehow…we made it to America,” West says.

And somehow…I’m not surprised they did.

Check out their album here,
and be sure to follow their tour here

—it’s
completely worth it .

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Ariana Rivera



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

Artist Spotlight: LIZ

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If
Y2K nostalgia could be captured in in an artist’s sound, that artist would be
LIZ. A valley girl hailing from Tarzana, California, her sound and style
represent the aesthetic of the Y2K R&B generation. Think Sailor Moon
R&B, Hello Kitty aesthetic, kissing on the high school bleachers, unicorns
riding on rainbows, and trying to dance in an over-sized jersey. And that would
be LIZ.

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Signed
to Diplo’s label “Mad Decent,” LIZ has already released a string of singles and
even an EP (“Just Like You”). The latter is a cozy collection of colorful tracks
that range from representing a generation (“Y2K”) to being cautious about a
love (“Do I Like You”), with songs about pondering “what if” situations (“Say
You Would”) strewn in between. Even songs outside of her EP, such as “Hush” and
“You Over Them” all undoubtedly come from the same mentality, one of an R&B
princess cooing vocals wrapped in the warm productions of yesteryear.

LIZ
is currently offering the EP above for free download on her Facebook, and a few
other singles can be downloaded from her Soundcloud.

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Alexander Bonilla

Musicians full of depth: Hollow Wood

Young musicians are awesome. They bring so much passion and energy and creativity to their projects, and I honestly think that’s great, becausewhen you’re listening to their music, you can almost feel that.

That being said, meet killer newbies, Hollow Wood.

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I saw these guys open a couple of weeks ago at a Kris Orlowski show and I was blown
away. Originally from Boise, Idaho, these guys do strive for honesty and
purity, with their bio stating they work to “express music in an honest way.”

Two EP’s right now, both 6-track records. I can only run
through the highlights of each, but I just want to say, that for the most part,
what these two EP’s collectively do for me is just fully demonstrate how mature
these guys are at artists. They’re not very old, they’re all 18-22 in age
range. And they’re from Idaho.

But it’s good.

Their earlier EP Seasons,
which was released just this past summer in August has some of my solid tracks. “Forget me Forgotten” plays it up with some
mournful intro piano chord progressions, and the lead vocals coming in “One
more time across the empty sea/Promise me you won’t sleep.” Then bass comes in,
with underlying vocals and we get to the harmonies. So…Hollow Wood’s lead
vocalist, is a guy with a cool different sound in his vocals. It’s folky, it’s throaty,
it’s different. Solid drum rhythms, harmonica, violin, and some bass thrown in
for the quick instrumental and we just fall into this mournful state. It’s a little
depressing, maybe, but it’s introspective. This is a kind of song that really
makes you sit. Make you write, makes you think.

Their later EP, Wallflowers
has one of my favorite tracks of theirs, “Little Bird.” It’s soft, with sweet
guitar melodies creeping in under the intro vocals. Then bam! Listen to the way
belts “Oh don’t you cry, no don’t you cry, without me by your side/I gave you
my all, I gave you all, but that world was just way too strong.” The
juxtaposition of this strong, harsh, hoarse chorus with the sweet first and
second verses accompanied by simple guitar melodies is brilliant. The rhythm of it all keeps you on your toes to build up
to a fantastic bridge of grand instrumentals. Ending the track with resounding
chorus and a strong drum set brings it home. It’s the best track they have.

Listen.

Other tracks on both EP’s are also great. Check out “Memento
Mori” on the Seasons EP if you want a
sense of indie folk and soft harmonies. There is a definite sense of unity
within the band in this track however, especially as they build up throughout the
chorus. What is best about Hollow Wood is not only their originality, but the
fact that all the vocalists have such distinctly definite sounds in their
voices. Yet they make it mesh.

They remind me of a young Typhoon in other tracks like “Wallflower”
on the Wallflower EP where they have more synchronicity among the vocals, while keeping it soft and unique.
These guys like soft guitar harmonies, they like moody vibes, but they’re not
afraid to jam it out like they do in “Families” on the Seasons EP.

It’s rough trying to give you a taste of everything, but for
the most part, Hollow Wood, for being young, is good. They’re tryin to keep it
100 with us, and I dig that. Check em out.

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Ariana Rivera



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

Artist Profile: Let’s talk about Doja Cat

Whoaaaa, so I’m completely out of my element.

Actually, I was really wanting to share with you another reallyhippie indie, guitar playing artist that “seemed incredibly raw” as I like to
say. But enough of my uppity attitude, we should switch it up sometimes, you know?

Let’s talk about Doja
Cat
.

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I’m not super into hip-hop or rap so when I became intrigued
with Doja Cat, I was a little inspired. Not much is known about her, really, but
born Ami Zindale, she’s an 18 year old singer/rapper and L.A. based. She’s
young and she’s new, but she’s got this weird trippy vibe about her, and I
really just dig it.

This EP Purr! that
Doja Cat has out is relatively new, released in August 2014. It’s got 5 tracks,
and I’m not a fan of all of them, but her sound is just so different and airy and
so blended with soul vibes, I can’t help but like it.

“So High” was a single Doja Cat released prior to her EP, in
April, and is one that definitely gives off the impression of being high. It’s
dreamy, kind of psychedelic with the beats she uses, and her voice is kind of
just this high lilting mystery that pulls you in. It’s not a catchy, boppy
song, but definitely when she sings over and over again “You get me so high/You
get me so high” I catch myself grooving along to her.

It’s good, listen. It’s really trippy.

Okay, so then we continue on to the rest of the EP and it’s
pretty much along this vibe. She has this absentminded, lazy, spacey way of
singing, but once in a while, she dips into smooth straight rap like in “Nunchucks”
get this slower, soul Nicki Minaj
feel to her tracks.

Honestly, I have no idea why I like this, but I just do. I
listen to a track like “Beautiful” and it’s dreamy and mixes her smooth rap with
hippie beats in the background.

I really like “No Police.” She mixes her rap stylings with
some really chill beats, and her overall style makes it one of the best tracks
on the EP. But I also like “Control,” with her slow builds and real, breezy,
echoes that just relax you.

Doja Cat is consistent within her EP and that’s good, but
she’s definitely different. I think that’s what it is. She’s weird. She’s
different, I’ve never really heard anyone like her before and her originality
of mixing soul, rap, and R&B together is intriguing. She mixes her little
cat references into her rap and just randomly purrs or meows in her tracks, so
you definitely can’t escape Doja Cat’s identity. It’s weird. It’s cool.

Or maybe I’m the weird one. Either way, check her entire EP
out here:

Ariana Rivera

Weekly Digs: Ernie Graham – Artist Profile

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It’s easy to feel like you’ve gotten to know an artist just by listening to their music, and sometimes I feel weirdly betrayed if it turns out someone who’s music I really like is a bit of an asshole. With the music of Ernie Graham and a few odd photographs, comes a strange confidence that he was a genuinely good dude. Just look at that smile:

imageIn the end though I suppose it’s probably just the music that matters, not the person who created it. Ernie Graham was a man, and he created some excellent music. Starting out as a rhythm guitarist for Tony & The Telstars in his home of Belfast, Ireland, Graham soon split for England where he met Henry McCullough. The two headed back for Belfast and formed The People, later called Eire Apparent. Eire Apparent is mostly known for recording an album produced by Jimi Hendrix, with a couple songs featuring his guitar work. These are gems for any Jimi fans, but Eire Apparent’s stuff was seriously excellent, and should stand on it’s own merit. Here’s an pretty raw 1968 single of theirs:

Here I Go Again

The band broke up in 1970 and Ernie decided to go solo, releasing the eponymous LP Ernie Graham in 1970. This album is an absolute stunner, and if you’ve got a record player I can’t recommend it enough. On it, Graham takes a new direction with his sound resulting in what most would define as “pub-rock”, a musical movement aimed at bringing music back to it’s basics from the glam rock that was emerging around the same time. Some parts folk, some parts roots; good vibes abound and Ernie Graham captures the soul of the genre perfectly. Here are a couple standouts from the album which was reissued by 4 Men With Beards this year and can also be found on CD:

So Lonely

The Girl That Turned The Lever

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The album was praised by critics but sold poorly, and in 1971 Graham joined the band Help Yourself, appearing on their 1972 album Strange Affair. Ernie would go on to form the band Clancy, releasing two albums with them and later going solo again. In the 80s after another failed attempt at success with a new band, Ernie Graham called it quits on his music career and took a job on the railroads. In 2001 he died due to complications with his alcoholism. Perhaps a sad ending for a man who never received a fraction of the recognition he deserved, but I think he must have died proud of the music he helped create. Here’s a song from Strange Affair to send you off:

Brown Lady

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Jamie Coughlin

Outlander in the Emerald City: Helvetia (Artist Profile)

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After the dissolution of the LA-based space rock band Duster, former drummer Jason Albertini moved up to Seattle and founded the experimental indie rock group, Helvetia.  Named after the female personification of Switzerland (Albertini’s childhood home), Helvetia’s music combines the reverb-drenched guitar effects of space rock with the percussions of a classy jazz outfit.  With a lineup seemingly stuck in eternal rotation, Helvetia’s music is anything but homogenous.  Albertini’s songwriting partners have included other former Duster members, bassist Mike Johnson of Dinosaur Jr., Doug Martsch of Built to Spill, and many, many more.  The band’s breadth of songwriting ability and large music catalog is impressive: since their full-length debut A Clever North Wind dropped in 2006, Helvetia have released four other studio albums and three compilations, and continue to release new songs on their Facebook page about once a week. 

Due to the difficulties I would no doubt face attempting to summarize the full-blown Helvetia musical experience for you, I’ve picked a few of my personal favorites that I feel exhibit the most important themes.  Here goes nothing:

Old, New Bicycle”:  This was my first favorite, and continues to give me chills every time that tasty rolling tom fill introduces the song.  This track (like many others) can be categorized by its cohesive yet dueling nature.  The jazzy percussion hardly changes throughout the entire track, allowing a strong surface for the multiple guitar and vocal parts to “duke it out” on.  The rhythm guitar is smooth, unfolding easily into the lo-fi atmosphere the drums have created.  But before long, the lead guitar rips an off-kilter solo that builds with intensity and cuts out just when it was ready to burst, giving way to the higher-pitched vocal melody, both of which complement the lower tonality of the rhythm parts perfectly.  The lead guitar continues its competition for space throughout the song, challenging the other parts ferociously but intelligently conceding when the overlap would be too much.  This allows the song to ebb and flow intensely and gracefully, leaving the listener panting for more by its finish.  

RyBro”: From their latest album Nothing in Rambling (2012), this chunky alt-rock jam incorporates two rhythm guitars, this time working with the vocals in rhythmic stops.  Just as before, the theme of competition persists, with the lead ripping in once vocals drop out.  This track’s bridge part is entirely unique, taking cues from space rock predecessors in order to create a temporary dream-world for the listener to float around in for a little while.  The trance is broken with a classically intense (and fantastically groovy) solo to bring us all back down to earth.  

In Every Hour” [BONUS TRACK]: After an especially long day of drowning myself in spacey jams, I came upon this gem in the depths of the internet – a previously unreleased track from who knows when.  Unlike the others mentioned above, this song is as mellow as Helvetia’s music gets, featuring parts that actually work together for its entirety!  Although periodically interrupted by rhythmic blasts from the chorus, the lead is entirely complementary of the laid-back vibe this tune gives off.  Albertini’s vocal harmonies give a haunted hue, turning this dream into a wonderfully creepy nightmare. 

Although they haven’t toured in a while, Helvetia’s Facebook page and SoundCloud are fairly active, featuring rough demo releases once a week.  

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Katie Hanford

Artist Profile: Naomi Punk

Naomi Punk is a post-punk band from Olympia, WA. But to classify them as such does not do their music justice, as it doesn’t seem to fit into any particular mold. It has to be listened to be understood, and even then I sometimes notice myself discovering new layers to their sound with each time I play one of their records.

It may be cliché to say that an artist’s music grows on you, but in the case of Naomi Punk it’s just true. When I first listened to their debut The Feeling on a recommendation from a friend, I was unconvinced. The album sounded thrown together, its melodies buried under distortion and its lyrics indiscernible. But as I listened to it again I began to notice myself humming along and my foot tapping more and more enthusiastically.

Once I grew familiar with the sound of the album it became contagious. Naomi Punk had already been playing together and touring for a couple years before The Feeling was recorded, and the live energy of the band can be felt throughout the album. The songs all have a unique character to them, and yet on the whole the album feels very solidly like a singular conception. Apart from two tracks based around a synthesizer, the songs are driven only by two guitars and a set of drums, and sound like they could have all been recorded in the same take. This gives The Feeling a familiar and cohesive sound that you learn to appreciate more with each listen.

The band’s follow up, Television Man, was released in August of this year and has a very similar quality to The Feeling. While not as immediately rewarding as their debut, Television Man has many layers of its own and is at times equally engaging. After two solid releases, Naomi Punk feels like a band with a ton of potential and one that would be an incredible live experience. After all, the band has its roots on stage, not in the studio.

Picking out a standout track is difficult because my favorite from them changes practically every time I hear one of their albums, but a good place to start would be “The Spell” off The Feeling:

Editor’s Note: Naomi Punk’s website can be found here: http://naomipunkmusicgroup.com/
They don’t have any music there, however, so you’re best off just heading to their record label’s page, Captured Tracks, or their Facebook

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Jamie Coughlin