Tag Archives: blues

Show Preview: The Bad Plus at The Neptune, January 19th

This Thursday, the 19th, The Bad Plus is performing at The Neptune Theater. I first heard about The Bad Plus from their collaboration with saxophonist Joshua Redman, which was equally exciting and experimental. Similarly, on their own, The Bad Plus refuses to be confined into any one genre or sound. Drawing most of their influence from jazz, The Bad Plus often venture off into genres of rock and pop, but do it in a way that feels comfortable and not gimmicky. Known for off-the-wall covers of various rock and pop tunes, seeing The Bad Plus perform live will be an adventure through the realms of free jazz and pop music alike. The trio consisting of bassist Reid Anderson, drummer David King, and pianist Ethan Iverson all met back in high school and have been making music together since 1990. Regardless of what set the band decides to bring to the audience on Thursday night, it will undoubtedly be one that reflects their forward-thinking mindset and 27 years of musical experience together.

-DJ sneak peaks

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EP Review: Marty O’Reilly & The Old Soul Orchestra – Preach ‘Em Now!

       I’m going to be honest here and say
that I first found out about Marty O’Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra only a
short time ago. I first heard the song “Cold Canary Gaslight” and fell in love
with the wonderful and distinct sound that the band produces. Marty O’Reilly’s
smoky voice paired with the delicious blend of jazz, folk, and blues instantly made this band one
of my favorites. They just recently released a new EP, called Preach ‘Em Now! and I have opinions on
it. Here they are:

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        The EP starts off with the track,
“I Heard the Angels”, which is a cover of Reverend Gary Davis’ song. Or at
least, it might be. I’m not sure what the history of the track is, or who the
first to record it was. But anyway, the track opens up with a single guitar,
playing a bluesy riff. It initially sounds like something you’d hear in an old
coffeehouse on open mic night, and I mean that in a good way. The guitar sounds
as smoky and rough as Marty’s voice, and the entire track has an almost lo-fi
tone. The kick drum joins in, then the bass, and the EP takes off. The
introduction of the violin creates a vibrancy, while the distorted guitar keeps
you laid back and slightly depressed, creating what I can only describe as a
dystopian atmosphere. The song truly does sound like the inner turmoil of a man
about to face death. Which is interesting, given it’s actually a worship song.

           The next
song is “Preach ‘Em Now!”, the EP’s title track. It starts off with a blues
rock sound, before delving into a more jazzy vibe. The whole song alternates
between jazz, blues, and blues rock. While this may sound like it would make
for a confusing and annoying song, Marty O’Reilly and the Old Soul Orchestra
makes it work. Towards the end, the song develops into an instrumental showcase
of the violin and the guitar, delighting the ears.

           “Left for
the Wolves”, the third track on the EP, slows the album back down, bringing
back the sad and slow violin and double bass. This song is a lot more jazz
heavy than the previous, with the double bass creating a laid back atmosphere
that pairs well with a fine glass of wine and a fireplace. Then, the violin
comes in periodically, sometimes shouting and sometimes whispering to the
listener, alternating the mood of the song throughout.

           “Shudder”
continues the jazz and double bass theme. However, the upbeat guitar and
bassline take the EP in a new direction: joyful. The violin is still there to
add an unsung frantic tone to the meaning of the song, but isn’t as depressing
as the previous tracks, and wails far less. The change in direction that occurs
with this song is what keeps the EP from going stale and leaving every track
sounding the same. 

           Then, to
end the EP, “Shudder” brings up the rear. Immediately, this song sounds
different. Starting the track with only vocals and a semi-acoustic guitar,
Marty O’Reilly and the Old Soul Orchestra went with a more personal feeling to
the last song on the EP. The lyrics to this song elude me, but the track gives
off a feeling of optimism in the face of opposition. This, along with the
opening track, are my favorites from the EP. 

          I liked Preach ‘Em Now! more than their previous album, mainly due to the dedicated cohesiveness the band stuck to in this instance. No song sounds dissimilar to the previous, yet each is unique and offers its own flavor to the delicious spread that is this EP. Marty O’Reilly and the Old Soul
Orchestra isn’t too well known yet, but they deserve every new listener they
receive. Give ‘em a listen.  

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Niles Kyholm



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True love? It’s Taylor Berrett

It’s been rough lately, and honestly I should be writing a paper, but I’d rather write about music, so let’s just procrastinate together.

I’ve fallen in love, recently. It’s that time of year, you know? And I realize that I fall in love quite often, I’m a romantic, but this guy is worth it, I’m telling you.

Let’s meet Taylor Berrett.

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As I write this, I literally can feel myself become giddy,it’s almost unreal. It’s crazy. Is this how love feels?

Okay, so this is actually really strange because I first
discovered Berrett a couple of months ago when I went to an Alex Clare show at Neptune Theatre (remember that show
preview?). He was the opener, and I remember, at the time thinking, “He’s good,
young, but this kid’s got it.” I took a couple photos, swore he was going to go
far, and then just vaguely forgot about him. Here’s a photo of him performing,
he’s a pretty rad guy.

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But anyway, then I followed him on Facebook, just for news
updates and slowly Berrett began to come out with more of his own music. When he
performed a couple of months ago, he had a couple of his songs, so I knew he
could write, but I was basing his vocal ability off his Beatles covers.

So I knew this kid has talent.

It’s a little crazy I’m reviewing
this guy so soon because his debut album doesn’t even come out for another two
weeks, but the tracks and the EP that he has out now are just too good to not
talk about, and I expertly assume they will be on his debut album.

But let’s talk about my favorite
tracks first, which aren’t on his 2012 EP Anchor
Chasing
. “Those Days,” a track that he just released this year, starts off
just the way I like it: with some finger snaps, simple acoustic harmonies, and a raw,
beautiful voice.

The rhythm on this track is so brilliant and the lyricism that
this man has is so natural, I am reminded of singer-songwriter (and one of my
favorite musicians) Kris Allen. We
start off easy with “Slow down, turn around/Tell me what’s tearing your heart
out baby,” building up the main chorus “Everybody has, everybody has those
days/ Feeling like an ocean, having trouble making waves.” As we build up to
the chorus, we get a little trumpet and sax into the mix, and my heart drops into
my stomach. Then bam, xylophone, and the world just stops.

It’s this perfect mix of acoustic
folk with jazz and it just feels easy
you know? You get the feel of just chilling on the beach with this guy,
drinking some margaritas, with a guitar and a guy playing saxophone in the
background. When we get to the sax solo, you know Taylor Berrett is a classy
musician and not one to be reckoned with. He knows instrumental composition,
and he knows it well.

Okay, so now for my absolute favorite
track that he has out so far. “The Heat,” a track that he released,also, just a
couple months ago is just a game changer.

It’s a little more upbeat, but it’s probably, and this may be a stretch, a
track that I would say is one of the best new singles I’ve heard this year.  He starts drumming out some awesome beats,
leading in with some great vocals that just has excellent rhythm and a sense
of, once again, jazz and blues. Listen to the part when he sings his chorus, “Got
no place that I can go/ Got no money to my name/ Got no scars that I show/ Got no
bad luck I can blame.” The way he weights his vocals rhythmically is not just
catchy. It’s brilliant. The electric guitar mixed with his drummer is all so
cohesively in sync with his vocals, that you would almost expect Berrett to be
someone who’s been in the business for years. Taylor Berrett labels himself as acoustic pop,
and definitely, I can see why he would want to brand himself that way; he wants
to be commercial. But don’t let that fool you, this guy knows solid blues. He
knows solid jazz. He is catchy, but he is skilled and talented. You see it in
the last track I discussed, you see it in the bridge of this track when he
sings “They say man take it easy, enjoy it while you’re free/ I said the heat I
can stand is, is standing still against me.”

And the acoustic version is even
better. Here’s a look.

This voice. Please. There is
control, there is great tone, there is great pitch, and there is just a
beautiful sound.

When I listen to this guy, a smile
forms on my face. Is this what love feels like?

Maybe it’s the combination of the fact
that I’ve seen this guy start it out live, and then have listened to his more
matured singles, and maybe it’s the fact that I know he is the real deal
because I have seen him sing. I’m not
sure. But this is probably my favorite artist
to review thus far, and I love a lot of musicians.

But anyone, one more, let’s talk.

Let’s take it back two years, to another
track, also not on his EP. I like his EP, and we’ll get there, don’t worry. But,
honestly? I really just dig these tracks that he chooses not to publicize as
much. They’re rad. “Fair Warning,” takes it back a little bit more to his folk
roots, but he still rocks it, like usual.

You get this banjo, tambourine, campy
feel, but once again, his lyricism of, “Call me the wanderer/ Write me away/ I’ll
be the mountain you cannot escape,” never fails. This a track I’m pointing out
just to emphasize Berrett’s versatility as an artist. I’m sorry, but I don’t
care how campfire folk he gets, the man has vocals and the man can write. And
why is it surprising? This 22-year old singer from Virginia started writing songs at age 13,
so he’s had plenty of practice.

Quick note on his EP, Anchor Chasing, because I feel like I
should comment. It’s alright; I’m not trying to disregard his first published
accomplishment. Style wise, it’s more lowkey than the other tracks I’ve talked
about, simple. When you listen to it, you can hear in his voice that he still
very much new, and hey this is an EP from two years ago, so it’s
understandable. We all mature as artists.

Of the five tracks on the EP,
there are only two that I truly love and know will make it to his full length
album. “Whole Heart” is definitely a track I love best and a song I think
Berrett is exceptionally proud of especially since he keeps promoting it. It’s
full of those beautiful piano melodies that you all know I love, so points
right there. It’s two years old, but I think this is a solid original
composition of his, and personally, I’m proud. “Pomegranate Sky,” another great
one on his EP is dreamy and acoustic, but solid with some violin and piano in
the background. You feel relaxed listening to this. You have to let his voice just
take you away, and he does, successfully.

By the way, please, please, check out all his music on his soundcloud here!

All in all, this man is going to
top charts. I’m not predicting that, I’m guaranteeing it. He knows what he’s doing,
and seeing as he is already signed to Warner Brothers, and seeing as his album is
about to be released mighty soon, it’s only a matter of time.

Ahhh, is this what love feels
like?

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Ariana Rivera

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Breaks and Brits: An Introduction to Jack Garratt

It was a long break. But, that just means I had whole lot of time to listen to some new jams, and let me tell you, I found some good ones, friends.

I think by know, we realize that I’m a fan of British artists. And why shouldn’t I be? The accent, their outfits, the incredible depth of the voices that many of these artists carry.

Let’s talk about Jack Garratt.

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A man that honestly looks like he’s be living on the streets as a rabbi with his full face beard, Garratt is a lowkey Londoner performer who’s starting to impress people, including myself. With a relatively new EP released in November, and a single released a month later that literally screams to me perfection in a song, I die a little whenever I hear Garratt sing.

I came across his single, “Worry,” and couldn’t help but smile when I listened to his song. A slow building song, Garratt introduces us to his warm vocals, some drums, and an electric keyboard. You think, “Oh, alright, it’s going to be very Ben Howard-esq” (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.) However, he just surprises you, and lets his almost falsetto (synced to some perfect electric guitar sometimes sneaking in) just steal your heart. His synchronism with his drum beats and synth just kind of pull it together for me.

After I listened to “Worry,” it was necessary for me to listen to the rest of the EP, and I couldn’t but just inwardly praise Garratt for his use of genre in just the 4 songs on his EP. “Remnants,” is this hauntingly melancholy track that has whispers of a chill to it. While in “Worry,” we had a little bit of a rock vibe, hinting to me for some reason of indie rock band, The Antlers, “Remnants” is just on the completely different spectrum. Garratt’s links his really simply piano melodies with just some raw, raw vocals that lead up to this powerful chorus reminiscent of The Neighbourhood. Same thing going on with “I Wouldn’t Want You Anyway.” Powerful, clean, and somber.

So I’m halfway through this EP, and think I know this guy’s sound, but nope.

Take a listen to “Water,” and sweet baby Jesus, the amount of soul in this song is just uncanny. We take a turn from indie rock/alternative to sweet soul/R&B and I just dig it. The way Garratt uses his voice in this track truly reminds of water, so he’s got that on the mark.

Okay, we’re to the end of this, and although this isn’t technically on the EP, I have a suspicion this new track just released for sure will be on Garratt’s up and coming album, so let’s just fall in love together.

Let me introduce you to the track, “The Love You’re Given.”

This song gives me legitimate chills, and I’m not exaggerating. This song is Marvin Gaye meets old school Robin Thicke meets some James Blake. I’m definitely feelings some hints of jammin’ electro funk and soul, and I’m sorry James Blake, but “Retrograde” just doesn’t stand a chance here with this new artist. After I listened to this artist, I knew that Jack Garratt was an artist that could basically do any genre if he tried. With such an incredible mix of funk, soul, R&B, electro, and goddamn, even some blues, he knows how to use his vocals and instrumentals to the maximum capacity.

I’m stoked for this guy’s full album, and definitely when he comes to the States for a US tour, you guys can guarantee I’m gonna be there front row and center.

Eyooo, Brits, Brits, keep the music comin’.

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Ariana Rivera

Show Preview: Never too close to love, Alex Clare

In 2012, when Alex Clare’s hit, “Too Close,” topped the charts and became a top 10 hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, and #4 on the UK Singles Chart, I knew we had found a winner.

Already a soulful romantic, Alex Clare’s sultry voice sent me head over heels in love. I realize I say this about many, but we should acknowledge that Alex Clare isn’t someone to joke about, especially with his level of success.

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Born Alexander George Claire, the London born musician is a man after my own heart, growing up listening to blues and soul artists like Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway. After developing an interest in the trumpets and drums (which hold an influence in his music), lovely Mr. Clare moved on and dedicated more time to the guitar playing and song writing.

Hey it worked.

So when I got the email way back in August that Alex Clare was heading back to Seattle to perform live for the first time in a year, I almost cried.

Clare’s debut album The Lateness of the Hour is a record that never gets old for me, simply because like any good soul artist, Clare just mixes all these different influences together of funk, soul, dubstep, punk rock, and jazz and just creates this cohesive mixture of pieces that together just fly.

I’m stoked to hear him drop his jams for us at The Neptune, November 25th. Although I’m excited of course to hear the famous single, “Too Close” up close and personal, I’m more excited for Clare to bust out the more soulful tracks from his first album.

“Sanctuary,” one of my personal favorites off his first album just keeps it real with his opening of the song with this chorus of echo-laden whispers surrounded by simple piano harmonies. The song has the feel of a ballad, but then the synth, drums, and bass kick in and you’re left a little breathless after the song finishes, hair swept, going “Whoa. What just happened?” The electro-dubstep influence is there, and although some may think it overpowers, Clare never lets his voice be watered down.

Another one that will be great raw will be Clare’s “I Won’t Let you Down,” also off his first album. The closing number off the record, it’s soft, sweet, and a gem led by Clare’s mournful voice and fingers playing the keys. In a sea of tracks laden with a multitude of other instrumentals, this track keeps it simple, and having Alex Clare sing that live for me will be enough for me to live on.

But let’s be real, this tour is also about Clare’s new album that he’s been working on for a year, Three Hearts. A pretty solid piece of art, I’m excited to see how he performs the more upbeat, 80’s retro vibe that this album brings. A record that brings in more of the influence of horns and lively instrumentals, we’re exposed to different side of Clare that is less mournful and definitely more positive.

Yet, we still have those soulful tracks on Three Hearts like “Take you Back” and “Just a Man” that hint at Clare’s older side as a quick break from pop upbeats of horn-laden tracks like “Heavy Hands” and “Never Let You Go.”. “Not in Vain,” one of my favorite tracks off the new record is a good mix of Clare’s new and old sound, a track that has his soulful, yet wobbly voice, and the lead in of piano and soft drums.

Just writing about this album gets me stoked for this show, and although I’m a little more excited for Alex Clare to showcase his older music rather than his newer stuff, just the thought of him performing live is too much for me. Get excited. Get your tickets.

Does it help that between sets, his beautiful English accent will swoon your socks off?

See ya there.

Ariana Rivera

Weekly Digs: Ted Lucas: The Om Album

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Ted Lucas got his start as a studio musician and member of various folk/rock bands around the Midwest. A classically trained guitar player, Lucas also studied blues, country, jazz, and contemporary music and drew inspiration from the likes of Ravi Shankar to develop a beautiful sound of his own. In 1974 he released his only album, a self titled effort recorded largely in his attic studio that has come to be known as “The Om Album”.

The two sides of the album are quite distinct from each other. Side A consists of a gorgeous medley of six folk songs, while Side B contains three longer, more instrumental jams. In the first six tracks, Lucas develops beautiful and familiar melodies with his perfectly soft guitar playing and warm, open voice. In a way that makes you think Bon Iver must be a fan, Lucas crafts intricate harmonies with himself that settle themselves in your head all day but never wear on you; his music is comfortable.

Get a taste of the music by listening to a track from Lucas’ self-titled album:

The lyrics of his songs are simple and direct, smiling out of the songs at you. In the album’s opener he sings “It’s a plain and sane and simple melody/brings a song to you, brings some joy to me”, setting the tone for the album as a whole. The next three tracks, “It’s So Easy”, “Now That I Know”, and “I’ll Find A Way” are all intricate and touching in their own way and as you’re listening you keep expecting a let down, like how can it stay this good??

Then Lucas comes at you with “Baby Where You Are” and “It’s So Nice To Get Stoned”, tracks that are irresistibly excellent. Side B showcases Lucas’ guitar talent, especially on “Sonny Boy Blues”, a seven minute long rail against over drinking, and the closer “Love & Peace Raga”. The raga is played in a traditional Indian style; intricately picking it’s way along for nearly eight minutes, weaving together melodies, and creating a gorgeous tapestry of sound.

This album is an absolute gem from start to finish, and while it sadly never got the attention it deserved, I get the sense that Ted Lucas was not a man concerned with material gains. So take a few minutes and give it a listen, you won’t be disappointed. Yoga Records put out a reissue in 2010 which can be found on iTunes or Amazon.

Here’s another track from the reissue to keep you company:

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Jamie Coughlin

Rad Report: Up and coming artist – Caroline Rose at The Vera Project

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I don’t usually follow country artists, but when I listened to Caroline Rose on her Soundcloud I was drawn to a vibe that her voice seemed to carry. Saturday, October 11th Caroline Rose walked into The Vera Project and onto the stage with a bang, wearing her head-to-toe red outfit as she swung her guitar over her shoulder. She puts her lips up to the microphone and softly spoke in her comforting and sparkling voice, “Thanks for not being at the Beyoncé concert tonight. There’s not actually a Beyoncé concert so don’t be alarmed.” The crowd laughed and started tapping their feet to her music as it began to fill the room. Despite the modest crowd, she started off by singing with the kind of voice that opens up a room to positive energy and good vibrations in a way that is impossible to not enjoy.

The liveliness didn’t stop with her music—her sarcastic and naturally hilarious nature continued to come out as she joked throughout the night. Though as the show proceeded, each song seemed to tell a different story of her personal journey. She paused from her innately jokey demeanor as she brought up her debut album I Will Not Be Afraid, which came out in August. This album—a culmination of six years of her work—contains some older songs from when she was only eighteen years old, and some newer ones that currently relate to her life as she pushes twenty-five (a birthday that she admitted to having mixed feelings on). But regardless of the extended period of time that it took to release this album, Caroline Rose has clearly made it a long way since she started in Vermont years ago!

Caroline Rose in America Religious

This shift in her music from older to newer was even apparent throughout her set Saturday night, as the genre of her music seemed to shift a bit. Her original sound of “vintage country” (a term she coined herself) began to transition into a somewhat southern blues with clear folk and rock influences. Now this was more my kind of music to jam to! Just after she leaned into the microphone one more time and whispered “it’s going to get loud in here” the energy was turned up to a whole new level. The rest of the night was full of even more dancing and excitement than it had been before as the crowd danced to Caroline Rose’s unique mix of music and verve that filled the room.

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Rad Rebs