Naked Giants Take the Spot: Rainy Dawg’s 1st Annual Birthday Battle

Following the Daily’s coverage on Tuesday, the directors of ASUW’s Arts & Entertainment and Rainy Dawg Radio chose the Naked Giants as the winners of our first ever Birthday Battle!

As the champions, the band will be one of our openers at the 12th annual Birthday Fest, May 15th at Sylvan Grove!

The band put on a phenomenal show, presenting music from their dynamic repertoire. In case you missed it, check out a preview of what’s to come from the Naked Giants upcoming performance:

Easy Eating by Naked Giants

You can check out all of their music on the band’s bandcamp which includes their debut EP, Sit Down.

The UW-based band consists of Grant Mullen on guitar and vocals, Gianni Aiello on bass and vocals, and Henry La Vallee on drums and vocals.

“Grant and Henry having been playing together for many years, when Gianni joined the band in the summer of 2014, Naked Giants became what it is today. They recorded their first EP in 2014 and you can listen to it here! Have a great day and enjoy who you are!” – from their bandcamp.

Congrats to these up-and-coming rock stars! We can’t wait to see what you’ll surprise us with next. To stay in the loop, be sure to follow them on facebook!

image
DJ Desman

 

Show Review: Shlohmo in Seattle

image

I’ve
been a Shlohmo fan for years now,
so I bought tickets to his show as soon as he announced a tour. That was way back around
the start of the year.

I whiled away the months
leading to the show by revisiting his impressive discography. I’ve long
considered his Laid Out EP to be a
masterpiece.

In March, Shlohmo dropped his new album, Dark Red. The
album was a stunning departure from his previous releases. But it still had all
those classic Shlohmo elements, like menacing basslines and warped notes.
Definitely an album worth checking out.

Shlohmo’s electronic
music isn’t the dance-y kind. His music reminds me of dark basements and scary
nights and pain and zombie apocalypses. It’s pretty great. That’s why I was
surprised when I started dancing at the show. Everyone was dancing. It was
probably because Shlohmo’s basslines were even more immense on Neumos’s bumping sound system. Shout
out my ear drums for not exploding.

I love it when electronic
artists bring out a band. Shlohmo brought out a drummer and a guitarist and
also occasionally wielded a guitar himself.

image

The light show was crazy
intense. The lights and the music complemented each other beautifully, surging
and receding in harmony. At times, shrouded by the spotlights, Shlohmo seemed angelic.

image

He mostly played cuts off
his new album, but didn’t forget fan favorites like Places and Later. Later is my favorite Shlohmo song ever.
I cried sweet tears of joy when it came on. Well, maybe not. Nonetheless, I was
super happy.

About an hour into the
set, Shlohmo and the band just ran off the stage without warning. “Is that it?”
I wondered.

Hell no. The lights flared
up and Shlohmo ran back up on stage. He grabbed the microphone and reassured us,
“That was a joke. This is real life now!” He played us one last amazing song.
Then, unfortunately, it was over.

My one beef with the show
was that the two openers, Purple and
Nick Melons, had sets that lasted
about an hour each. That’s a bit long, as openers go. I was restless, standing
on sore feet waiting for Shlohmo to come out. But the openers were pretty tight
so it was cool I guess.

Definitely a night to
remember.  

image
Pranav Shivanna

Cyborgs, Puppies, and Steak: Meet BakuBakuDokin

Tokyo is the definition of sensory overload. The smell of neon lights burning fist sized insects. The touch of a drunk salary man sleeping on you, while you suffer the long journey home on the last train. The taste of the convenience store, because that’s pretty much the only place in Japan that will take your debit card. If you are in need of the sights and sounds BakuBakuDokin (バクバクドキン) is an electronic hip hop duo that provides all that and more; maybe more than you would want.

Yui and Naoko, like most best friends, became close because Yui never brought her own book to Psych class. Their relationship soon expanded past the classroom and they ended up spending every waking second with one another listening to CDs in Yui’s brother’s room, having sleepovers at love hotels, or just people watching from said love hotels. It wasn’t long before Naoko and Yui combined their musical talents and formed BakuBakuDokin. Their first show was at an old folk’s home in Setagaya. Since then, BakuBakuDokin has become a darling of Tokyo’s underground music scene.

A BakuBakuDokin concert is close to a religious experience, if your religion was some sort of cult that worshipped aliens that sort of resemble a mix between puppies and frightening computer generated cyborgs. A song about how fun haircuts are is played in the same set as a song about alien invasions. The beats are consistently funky. High energy dance synths meet chilled rap rhythms. The videos playing on screen call you back to your favorite early 90’s cartoon, but only after they have come back from hell as shells of their former selves. They aren’t afraid to jump into the crowd, point at you, and make you dance by the pure force of their own grotesque cuteness. The only thing you know you are going to get out of a BakuBakuDokin concert is that you never know what you are going to get out of a BakuBakuDokin concert. That chaos however, is extremely polished, like a diamond in a minefield.

Some of BakuBakuDokin’s most notable works are actually collaborations with some of Japan’s biggest names. They have been sources of inspiration for big names in Japanese music production like hip-hop greats “RIP-SLYME” and “Towa-Tei.” As part of their early career they even appeared internationally in the very Japanese video game “Touch My Katamari” as guest vocalists. “I’ve known I wanted to work in music ever since I was a little girl.” It’s no surprise that Yui, who works on the music production side of the group, has had musical aspirations from a young age. Aside from producing for “BakuBakuDokin” she has also recently acted as a producer for the Idol group “Ebisu Private Middle School” (私立恵比寿中学) with the song “Chupacabra” on their new single. “I think we originally attracted fans that were interested in cute and fun songs, but I think lately the crowds we are getting are also becoming very interested in the technical side of our music as well.”

Check out one of their music videos here:

Japan far and wide is known for its outlandish commercials, brightly colored cartoons and sexual eccentricity but few people realize just how much of this is considered subculture against the very conservative mainstream culture of Japan. By the standards of Japanese society these qualities are not often seen or acknowledged in the day in the life of an average salaryman, housewife or student. In fact these subcultural qualities are seen as quite deviant by the mainstream. That’s what make BakuBakuDokin, and other bands like it, hard to swallow for many people in the East Asian country.

However that’s where BakuBakuDokin draws much of their creative strength and inspiration. When the traditional cultures and customs are so strongly held by a people, the counter-culture will have no choice but to become just as strong. Its two sides of the same coin that can’t be avoided, and that is where a huge percentage of great art is born from. Japan is interesting because people of other countries see the Japanese people through the counter culture lenses immediately and have to be taught about the mainstream. There are very few other countries, if any that have to deal with an image like that.

American underground music has become very much the mainstream. If you want to hear the top 20 hits, these days instead of going to the pop station, you find yourself turning into, the now ironically named, alternative stations. When an alternative choice becomes a mainstream choice what does that say for the culture that is consuming said media? Will we eventually be listening to the Taylor Swifts of the world instead of bands like “Passion Pit” to piss off our parents and rebel?

I have found in my experience that Japan also has had similar transformations over the years. Idol music used to be considered music exclusively for a certain subculture who enjoyed obsessing over girls they would never ever in a million years get a chance to date. However those same groups that were once marketed towards a core audience of freaks and weirdoes can only be found performing on stage in your grandmother’s living room. So you have to wonder if bands like BakuBakuDokin will ever be accepted by your grandmother. Surely it’s a strange thought to have now, but in a number of decades you will be the grandparent.

BakuBakuDokin is a band that ranks performance as highly in importance as the music, and it shows. You can tell from their music videos that they aren’t only musicians but artists with a strong sense of what makes Tokyo and the humans that inhabit it unique. As for now they are continuing to be the freaky band you haven’t heard of yet, and I recommend you check them out in their freaky prime before they start getting airtime on the soft rock stations and lose their streetcred, as we all eventually will. If you have a penchant for girls in pajamas and dog masks rapping about how delicious steak is, there isn’t a band better suited for you than BakuBakuDokin; your guides through the beautiful glittering hell that is Tokyo.

More on these babes can be found at their spooky website: http://bakubakudokin.com/

Our guest blawger, Wolfgang is a hella gay senior at UW, currently lost in space and time (a side effect of living in Tokyo). He spends most of his time listening to noises, turning his jeans in cut-offs and looking at his blog and thinking that he should really write something at some point. The sad sad, excuse for a blog can be found at discowolf.svbtle.com. It’s about Japan and feelings.

Album Review: COHO – Graves EP

Last quarter, I posted an article on COHO and their efforts to fundraise for their first EP. Needless to say, the IndieGoGo campaign was a success as this weekend, the band released Graves.

Slowly and carefully, the EP begins. Its vocal “oohs” coming in waves over an ever-vibrant guitar. As the introduction to “Orion” comes to a close, the drums commence and a male falsetto rings out over a building set of instruments. This first song sets the mood for the album, introducing COHO’s subtle harmonies and interconnected instrumentation. The song’s lyrics are complicated, yet easy to follow – their meaning pervading the happy Oh’s and Hey’s you can’t help but sing along to!

“Burning Oak” begins with a mix of lyrics and synths so catchy that the passing listener could mistake it for yet another indie-pop song. Yet, upon the entry of guitar riffs eminent of Death Cab for Cutie and a rhythm that carries more than just a dance-beat, the EP’s second song breaks out of the genre’s inherit pitfalls. Instead of relying on an insistent chorus to carry the track, COHO waits until the eventual bridge to make a clear lyrical impact:

All my bones are older in the December

They repeat ad naseum, a series of instrumental and vocal layers adding to the intensity of the climax. A full instrumental breakdown fills the majority of the song’s ending moments, until a final repeat of the chorus cooly ends the first half of the release.

The second half of the EP is calmer than the first – its final tracks, “Disintegrate” and “Graves,” following a slower tempo than that of the first two. Filled with lyrical excellence, “Disintegrate” is a vocal-heavy song. Each instrument and vocal harmony follows the lead of a single female vocalist – the synthesizer carrying the spaces in-between. Simply and succinctly (4:05 is the track length, the shortest on the release), COHO paints a hopeful future for the human cycle of change. “Disintegrate,” the track ends, “if you have lost your love don’t lose your faith / disintegrate and wash away / the memories.”

Chitter-chatter fills the air and a solo bass-line fills the soundscape. The EP’s title track starts out strong – the first minute flying by as each new instrument adds to the last. The two main vocalists work together perfectly, their powerful voices strongly contrasting the easy-going percussion. Repeating their soothingly complex layers of lyrics like those that filled the end of “Burning Oak,” COHO finds synchronicity within their seemingly endless mix of sounds.

The band plays together beautifully and the Graves EP displays this prowess. If you were lucky enough to catch the EP Release show at BARBOZA last weekend, I envy you. Now, more than ever, I am excited to see how this new mix of diverse talent and sound plays out in the future!

Stay up to date by following COHO on Facebook and Twitter. And be sure to check out their Bandcamp, Instagram, and Website (where you can buy the EP for $5)!

New Album: Jaapur – Organic

Jaapur’s latest release starts out as a series of digital noise. Its momentum and tones feel like a throwback to the over-dubbed days of 8-bit remixes. A series of high and low pass filters add dynamics to the track, which make “Double Much.aac” an excellent introduction to the eclectic (yet satisfying) Organic.

The second track, “Conclusion.txt” starts out quietly as it, like the other songs on the album, plays off of the various computer file-naming conventions. Bass-heavy and trance-like, the contrast between synths and snares provides a basis on which to build a vibrant system of sounds. The melody alternates between instruments, each subsequent variation adding to the last. Towards the middle of the track, the rhythm becomes increasingly danceable, each instrument battling for its turn in the spotlight.

Following the quick-to-end instrumental that came before it, “Effigy.jpg” traces the line between highs and lows. Each synthetic instrument stays within its chosen scale – the unique sounds finding their individual places in the track. Various voices interrupt the flow, interjecting with plays on the name of the song. Although the bass line leaves something to be desired, the catchy chorus makes this track one of my favorites on the album.

The album continues in various forms, the tracks in themselves progressive as they build along with the broken pieces of the same theme. An occasional rap-track, featuring iamlogan and (most likely) Jaapur himself, can be found on the album – the flow, slow to match the tempo.

From disco beats to trance suites, Organic takes us back to a time before heavy-hitting bass lines ruled the boiler room. Be sure to take a good listen to the standouts (embedded below), “Akebono.flac” and “But Do You Know” which features Sarah Rain, Jaapur’s IRL sister, on vocals.

Organic by JaapurOrganic by Jaapur

Listen to the album and GET IT FOR FREE on Jaapur’s Bandcamp. To stay up to date, check him out on Facebook.

image
DJ Desman