RDR Music Director’s Top 10 Live Acts of 2016

Every year, I make sure to spend a decent chunk of my hard-earned income on supporting the amazing bands I love so much. It’s not like you make much money from streaming royalties unless you’re, like, The Weeknd or something, so most independent and lesser-known bands make their money from ticket sales and merch sales. It’s for this reason, and many others, that I make it a goal to see as many bands as I can, especially in low-cost, intimate local venues.

Listed here are my ten favorite live acts of the year, which I found to be an extremely difficult thing to measure. One must consider both the effort and performance of the artist as well as the overall subjective experience. It’s this mish-mash of objectivity and subjectivity that has helped me perfect this list, and understand that this is not meant to say that one act is better or makes better music than the other. All these artists are fantastic and deserve their spot on this list for their efforts and the success of those efforts in my personal experience.

10. Show Me The Body (The Vera Project, September 2016)

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(Photo credit: Andy Sawyer)

New York noise rock group Show Me The Body has been carelessly melding post-hardcore, hip-hop, and experimental rock music to craft the ultimate NY experience. Think of the gritty, grimy nature of groups like Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Anthrax, and Ratking distilled into one, transcendentally aggressive experience. This is SMTB in a nutshell.

I learned a lot about the trio when I saw them perform in the gallery space in The Vera Project, an all-ages venue located in the Seattle Center. Namely, I learned that lead vocalist Julian Cashwan Pratt plays the banjo, not an effects-laden guitar as I initially assumed when I first dug into their 2016 debut album, Body War.

I also learned that SMTB are some intimidating, hardcore motherfuckers. Despite being only a couple years older than me, the group’s aura was one of experience, cynicism, and rage. Despite being a NY native, Pratt showed solidarity with Seattle’s disenfranchised by revealing a crudely made “Fuck South Lake Union” shirt. Genius.

They only played for like 30 minutes, and things took an uncertain turn when some drug-addled misfits started a legit fight in the mosh pit. As tensions mounted in the crowd, Pratt tackled and effectively forced out the offenders, making it really clear that not one bit of that shit will be tolerated at a SMTB concert. It was awesome, and made me enjoy the show that much more, especially with the threat of being tackled by a cokehead effectively removed.

Overall, this band is an absolute riot when performing live. It seems like they opt to go for the “house show” appeal, setting their instruments up on the floor, level with the crowd. Seeing this band live is a personal experience, especially if you’re right up front where you can be grabbed and have your faced screamed into by Pratt. Additionally, the band’s bassist and drummer make for an extremely tight rhythm section, especially as the bass parts get more and more complicated.

Band’s performance: 9/10

Personal experience: 7/10

Avg score: 8/10

9. Godspeed You! Black Emperor (Neumos, January 2016)

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(Source: Jambase)

Godspeed You! Black Emperor has been on my must-see list since their brilliant first comeback record back in 2012, ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! I unfortunately missed them at Primavera Sound Festival in 2014 (I saw Kendrick Lamar instead, which I don’t regret). Thankfully, they put out another post-reunion album, 2015’s somewhat underwhelming Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress, which was basically a recording of the group’s 40-minute song “Behemoth,” which they’d been playing live for years.

And, as you can guess, this track made up about 50% of the band’s set at Neumos, when 2016 was but a young cub. The eight-piece Canadian post-rock collective set up a semicircle of chairs and instruments onstage, projector and anarchist literature in tow, and set that fucking stage on fire (not literally).

Performing for over 90 minutes, GY!BE proved why they’re still one of the most vital live acts in music today. The sold out crowd of middle-aged folk and young hipsters alike would probably agree with me. I got to hear a revitalized edition of the aforementioned Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress in addition to the passionate, tight playing of some of the band’s classic material.

While not the life-changing experience I had hoped it would be, I was still beyond floored with the group’s performance. To hear them play such long songs and know exactly how they’re going to sequence was even more rewarding to me than actually being there and hearing the music performed live. Regardless, GY!BE brought a level of intimacy that is typically absent in post-rock, and I’m extremely happy I was able to cross them off my list.

Band’s performance: 9/10

Personal experience: 7.75/10

Avg score: 8.4/10

8. Carly Rae Jepsen (Showbox, February 2016)

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(Photo credit: Sunny Martini)

Canadian pop sensation Carly Rae Jepsen recently appeared on both my Top 23 EPs of 2016 and Top 50 Albums of 2015 list, so naturally my newfound appreciation for her impeccable music would result in money spent on the real thing. As soon as I found out she’d be at one of my favorite venues, The Showbox, I unhesitantly bought a ticket. And it was so fucking worth it.

Playing virtually every song from her 2015 sleeper hit E•MO•TION, as well as her inescapable bop, “Call Me Maybe,” Carly and her band didn’t miss a beat. The musicianship was extremely tight, CRJ really made it seem like the band gave the show a sense of completion.

And, of course, CRJ played the frontwoman role extremely well, whether she was serenading the audience with a performance of her Dev Hynes collaboration, “All That,” or giving us goosebumps with the iconic saxophone lead of “Run Away With Me.” She even, *gasp*, made eye contact with me for a couple seconds during a song. I think I now know what Justin Bieber fans feel when he hits the stage.

I’m not ashamed of how great this concert was, nor am I ashamed of how many words I know to literally every song on E•MO•TION. With her newly released E•MO•TION SIDE B EP, I can only hope she’ll be making her way back to Seattle next year so I can get another chance to see the undisputed Pop Queen of 2016 in the flesh.

Band’s performance: 8.75/10

Personal experience: 9/10

Avg score: 8.9/10

7. The Dillinger Escape Plan (El Corazon, October 2016)

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(Source: Metal Injection)

Experimental metalcore band The Dillinger Escape Plan, whom I’ve loved for many years, just released their brilliant and final album, Dissociation, which I’ve been enjoying quite a bit. Additionally, the group has been embarking on a tour to mark the end of the band, making it quite clear that these would be the last chances to catch TDEP at one of their notoriously raucous live events. I obliged.

While El Corazon isn’t my favorite venue in the city, it consistently comes through with amazing metal concerts. And so far, this is definitely my favorite show I’ve seen at the venue. When TDEP finally came on after, like, three opening acts, they lit up that venue the way I didn’t think an artist could.

Vocalist Greg Puciato made all the horrifying sounds he makes on the album, and guitarist Ben Weinman hung from rafters and stood on top of the audience while unleashing impossibly complicated riffs. It’s amazing to me that the band can balance an energetic, frantic performance with an impeccably played song in fuck-if-I-know time signature.

In addition, the concert was made into a truly special event when they invited original vocalist Dimitri Minakakis (who performed on their amazing debut album, Calculating Infinity) to join them for a couple songs. Needless to say, this filled me up with glee.

And, of course, the mosh pits were violent, filthy, sweaty, and hot. So much so that, for the first time in awhile, I actually had to take a break during the band’s set to catch my breath, tie my shoes, and hydrate. It was so awesome.

Band’s performance: 10/10

Personal experience: 8.5/10

Avg score: 9.25/10

6. Jeff Rosenstock (Funhouse, May 2016)

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(Source: Brooklyn Vegan)

At this point in the year, I had no idea that Jeff Rosenstock was five short months away from blowing my mind yet again with another amazing solo album. All I knew is that he was 14 months out from first blowing my mind with We Cool?, a pop-punk album that reclaimed Rosenstock’s position as the G.O.A.T.

His headlining set at Funhouse was raucous and passionate, much like the small crowd of people gathered to partake in the merriment. This was a much more spirited performance than what I caught when Rosenstock opened up on the 2015 AJJ/The Smith Street Band tour, due in no small part to the fact that Jeff could be the star of the show. Him and his amazingly talented band blazed through all the remarkable tracks on We Cool?, as well as a couple newer and older songs.

There isn’t much else to say, honestly. Apart from a humorous half-cover of Lenny Kravitz’s “Fly Away,” Rosenstock didn’t stray much from the songs he’s more than used to performing live at this point. When it’s music this good and you’re as passionate a punk rock vocalist as Jeff Rosenstock, it’s hard to play a bad show. Now I just need to catch him live a third time when he brings the more complex, political music of aforementioned new album WORRY. to the stage.

Band’s performance: 9.5/10

Personal experience: 9/10

Avg score: 9.25/10

5. Matmos (The Vera Project, December 2016)

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(Source: i1os.com)

Experimental electronic duo Matmos are way more than two of the creative minds behind Björk’s early 2000s output. They’re also two of the most creative minds to ever put out music under the “electronic” label, with their trademark unique brand of sampling bringing them a cult following.

For their first LP in 3 years, Ultimate Care II, Matmos sampled a washing machine, specifically the washing machine owned by the romantic couple that constitutes Matmos. They processed, sampled, sequenced, rubbed, drummed upon, and made 40 minutes of incredible music entirely from the machine, the namesake of the album. After becoming a critical success, Matmos figured why not bring the trusty Ultimate Care II (by Whirlpool®) on the road and recreate those sound experiments in front of a studio audience.

It sounds audacious, even dangerous, yet they pulled it off in spades. They brought the same catchy, gorgeous intensity they did on the album to the live set, even putting a volunteer’s shirt in the Ultimate Care II, which they promised would merely redistribute the dirt and result in a wet, dirty piece of laundry.

Set to an inspiring and humorous washing machine-centric visual accompaniment, Matmos got a couple people in Seattle’s experimental/noise crowd to actually dance to 40 minutes of laundry music. I’m convinced that that was a once-in-a-lifetime performance in this city, and I’m extremely happy I got to be a part of it.

Band’s performance: 10/10

Personal experience: 8.75/10

Avg score: 9.4/10

4. PUP (The Vera Project, June 2016)

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(Photo credit: Jessica Flynn)

I got into Canadian pop-punk group PUP a few months after they dropped their 2014 self-titled debut, an album that hooked me immediately with its off-kilter guitar work, self-deprecating lyrics, and ultra-catchy hooks. If there’s anyone in rock music embodying the spirit of Jeff Rosenstock besides the man himself, it’s PUP, and seeing them live for the first time proved that more than anything could.

There was not a dull moment during the band’s set, and seeing them perform at The Vera Project was one of the most life-affirming crowd experiences of the year for me. I don’t think I’ve seen Vera go harder for a band, before or since, and that’s because PUP writes anthems. Even their most depressing songs go fucking hard, and they ran through all the hits and deep cuts from their debut and their even-better new album, The Dream Is Over.

Go support this band in any way you can, because their music is a hell of a lot of fun and they’re a hell of a lot of fun to see live. As if that wasn’t good enough on its own, they had to steal my heart by encoring with objectively the most fun Weezer song, “El Scorcho.” I don’t think PUP knew that Pinkerton is one of my favorite albums, they just wanted to have some fun with a song that always keeps the party going.

Band’s performance: 9.5/10

Personal experience: 9.5/10

Avg score: 9.5/10

3. Swans (Showbox, September 2016)

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(Photo credit: Jens Wassmuth)

Since the beginning of the group’s career, Swans have held notoriously loud live concerts. In its most recent iteration, the band has taken the volume of its ‘80s concerts and fused it with the meditative transcendence of its mid-90s post-rock era, both on record and on the stage. In celebration what could very well be Swans’ final album, which was marred by some unfortunate press on behalf of vocalist and bandleader Michael Gira, the group embarked on a victory lap of a tour.

This was my second time seeing the band perform, and it was just as hypnotic, visceral, and loud this time around as it was back in spring 2013. They kicked things off with a 40-minute unreleased song, which seems to be called “The Knot,” before breaking into a handful of epic, winding songs from their two most recent albums, The Glowing Man and To Be Kind.

A Swans live concert is either something you crave or something you don’t understand. To put things in perspective, Swans stretched out six or seven songs into a 160-minute set. I rather enjoy seeing Michael Gira direct his band of merry noisemakers in creating the loudest wall of sound possible, and that’s exactly the sort of chaos Swans wrought that fine late summer’s eve.

Band’s performance: 10/10

Personal experience: 9.25/10

Avg score: 9.6/10

2. clipping. (Neumos, August 2016)

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(Source: KEXP/NPR)

2016 has been an incredible year for Daveed Diggs, the underground rapper who won some real-ass awards with his acclaimed dual performance in the universally successful “Hamilton” musical. After parting ways with the musical, he’s dropped two projects with his main squeeze, noise-rap trio clipping., who celebrated their big return with a one-off gig at Seattle’s beloved Neumos.

Tickets to the event were cheap, it was changed to an all-ages gig, and clipping. totally came through with a hell of a concert. Production duo Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson dropped their creatively produced beats with considerable aplomb, blasting the audience with harsh noise as Diggs delivered his rapid-fire raps without missing a beat.

The group played a healthy dose of material from their debut mixtape Midcity, Sub Pop debut CLPPNG, and freshly released Wriggle EP. They even debuted tracks from their not-yet-released sophomore album, Splendor & Misery. It was virtually everything I could want from a clipping. concert, and I hope to catch them again in a couple months at The Crocodile.

Band’s performance: 9.5/10

Personal experience: 10/10

Avg score: 9.75/10

1. Ty Segall (Neptune Theater, January 2016)

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(Photo credit: Chip Luman)

The first concert I attended this year was the one for which I probably held the lowest expectations. Not that I expected a Ty Segall concert to be bad, per se, it’s just that I had never quite connected with his music the way a lot of people do. But, it was free, so why not? Plus, it turns out the show included a front-to-back performance of his surprisingly fantastic new album, Emotional Mugger, which is probably the most batshit of any album Segall has ever released.

Let’s just say Ty Segall exceeded my expectations exponentially. Within seconds of kicking off the first song of the evening, he pointed his finger right in my face, making uncomfortably prolonged eye contact with yours truly. It felt like I was being chosen, or maybe Ty Segall sensed somehow that I was not yet a bleeding heart believer in his music. If that was the case, he turned that shit around immediately.

With a band that included King Tuff, Mikal Cronin, and Emmett Kelly (The Cairo Gang), Segall played the “crazed, unpredictable frontman” role very well, spitting at the audience and himself, wearing a terrifying baby mask, and making similarly awkward eye contact with other people in the crowd. Even as fans knocked down his mic stand, almost as a childish taunt, he played along like a pro.

This is my favorite live act of the year not just for the shock of enjoying a Ty Segall concert (and album), but also for the originality and humor in all of it. While groups like Animal Collective and Of Montreal take the visual and conceptual game to sometimes garish levels, Ty Segall managed to take a stripped-back approach to that same sense of weirdo-humor with a more successful result.

It sucks that there will probably never be a tour like Ty Segall’s Emotional Mugger tour again, because nothing will beat the euphoric surprise of being challenged by the man himself to try and have a bad time at this concert, only to fail. I had an amazing time at this concert, and Ty Segall and his band of Emotional Muggers were 100% of the reason why that was the case.

Band’s performance: 10/10

Personal experience: 10/10

Avg score: 10/10

Honorable mentions: Danny Brown, Everything Everything, Melt-Banana, SOPHIE, Sleep, Modern Baseball, Joyce Manor, Aesop RockVince Staples

Jakob Ross is Rainy Dawg’s 2016-2017 Music Director. Follow him on Twitter @jakobsross for rambling thoughts on music, politics, and random bullshit! 

Artist 101: LÉON

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If you love listening to pop music and calling yourself a
hipster, LÉON is the artist for you.
The singer’s rise to fame is just beginning, so now’s a great time to catch up
on her music. Straight out of Sweden, LÉON
will undoubtedly face lots of comparisons to Tove Lo, but rest assured that she comes with her own unique sound,
described by her as “indiepop/soul/whatever”. Her first EP, Treasure, was released not too long ago to the U.S. and it has the singer off to a great start. Containing four
songs, it’s the perfect pick-me-up and a great introduction to LÉON.

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The album’s title track, “Treasure” opens it up. It’s
the most conventionally pop song out of the ones listed, but I can’t say I’ve heard anything like it
before. LÉON has a strong set of pipes and could easily hold up any genre she
wanted to.

My personal favorite song of hers is “Nobody Cares”. It’s
super catchy without being pretentious, just the kind of thing conventional pop
stations could use right now.

“Léon’s Lullaby”, the closing track, starts out laid-back and
leads up to a wonderfully haunting melody. It’s a really well
produced song that showcases the singer’s versatility.

Overall EP Rating: 8/10
As far as first-ever EP’s go, Treasure is
pretty solid. The only thing I could possibly complain about is that it’s only four songs long. 

Don’t be surprised if you catch LÉON on the radio one of
these days. For now you can keep up with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Kathryn Placer



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

New Album: Holly Miranda

I’m picky when it comes to female vocalists. It takes a certain combination of honed skill, raw talent, and lack of nasally pompous tone to really capture my attention.

Holly Miranda has seemed to captured my attention.

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A laid back alternative singer-songwriter who’s been kicking it with the music industry since 2004, she’s come into her own as an artist, and knows her sound. And I’m not surprised, with her skills as a trained pianist and self taught guitarist and trumpet player. An 11-track album, Holly Miranda’s 2015 self titled album is one for the books. A strong start to the record, “Mark My Words,” is a track that begins with hints of a Explosions of Sky-esque guitar instrumental leading into some dreamy vocals and calming bells in background. The way Miranda rifts off into “You were just what I needed” in the first minute of the song is a beautiful demonstration of the very clean tone to her voice. The song is quiet and calming, and is a great hint to listeners of the overall vibe of the album.

And for the most part, her sound throughout the entire album is pretty consistent in terms of vocal and instrumental arrangements. She’s simple. She likes to coo and draw out her soft lilting voice with the help of a piano, and hey it works in a song like her last track of “Hymnal.” Fully demonstrating her vocal range on this track, you see this girl can almost take it to the opera level and you’re impressed.

Leading into the next track, “All I Want Is To Be Your Girl,” I get a more upbeat folk pop vibe, almost reminiscent of The Mowgli’s, but I think what I dig most are the chilled out tracks that have an Ingrid Michaelson feel, especially with the drawn out lovelorn vocals in songs like “Everlasting,” and “The Only One.”

“It’s not until we’re faced with death that we truly understand,” sings Miranda in Heavy Heart, overlain by a beautifully simple piano melody, a track which brought tears to my eyes. These tracks are too real for words, and it isn’t because of some phenomenal innate musical composition (although that is present). Miranda discusses themes of love, heartbreak, and that sense of not being to get someone off your mind, and these concepts if not relatable, are at least ones that evoke emotion.  

Best track of the album by far  “Desert Call.” Starting it off clean with Miranda’s vocals and some clean, clear cut guitar, “Desert Call” also takes you back to childhood in the summer. The saxophone near the latter half of the track makes you swoon with the sheer amount of jazzy sophistication coupled with Miranda’s suave vocals.

Think Ingrid Michaelson. Think stripped down Florence & the Machine. Think girl next door singing to you about love.

But in actuality, stop thinking and just listen because the album just dropped TODAY on iTunes and is most-definitely dope.

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Ariana Rivera

New Release Watch: Made in Heights

The West Coast duo consisting of former wedding singer, Kelsey Bulkin, and local Seattle-based producer of Blue Scholars, Sabzi, released the single “Slow Burn” on Tuesday.  It’s the second single off their upcoming album (out May 26th) Without My Enemy What Would I Do. And I’m a little disappointed.  

I want to start off by saying Made in Heights is an amazing group. Attempting to label their sound as a whole proves difficult, seeing as they have yet to accept any one genre themselves.  Continuously welcoming suggestions from fans, the current official description includes: mythical filth, pop fiction, beauty slap, goon lit, artisanal (c/t)rap, and west coast gothic. To put it as simply as I can, they are known for pairing soulful vocals with crisp electronic beats and atmospheric soundscapes.  At times even incorporating elements of rap into their bright and ethereal sound, Made in Heights weaves an intricate and special sound under the ever-growing umbrella of synth-pop. The only way to truly experience the sound is to hear it for your self, something I highly recommend.

Slow Burn turns its back on this complexity of genres and heads straight for the dance floor.  Let me get one thing straight – this track is completely infectious and a solid dancy-synth-poppy song.  The track begins with a catchy synthesized staccato baseline with Kelsey’s simmering vocals drifting atop. By the end, snapping and groovy instrumentals layer in, creating an intoxicating, sparkly-smooth pop track. I would be lying if I said I didn’t bob my head to “you give me that burn, burn, burn, burn, burn”.  It’s received good reviews from several sources and is now one of their most-listened to songs on Spotify, it just isn’t what I was hoping for.

Listen for yourself in the stream below:

It might be a personal taste issue that turned me off the new single, seeing as the airy female vocals and snappy dance beat of Slow Burn kicked in some post-traumatic stress from my days working in retail.  Once you imagine a song bursting from the cheap speakers of a former employer at the mall, it’s hard to listen to it without feeling a little bit guilty.

It also could be the high expectations I hold for the duo, set by their stunning previous work. Ever since first hearing "All the Places” and “Wildflowers” off of their 2012 self-titled album, I’ve been craving more.  Even their opening act for TOKiMONSTA I attended in LA last October reflected their original aesthetic I adore, the pair performing synchronized 60’s backup singer dance moves throughout the set. I just hold them up to a higher creative standard than what this newest track has produced. With sporadic releases and no single website to find their collective work (scattered throughout Soundcloud, Spotify, Bandcamp and their website), I was overjoyed to hear about the new album coming out in late May.

Now I’m just hoping that this single follows the rule of singles, and is the lone shamelessly-dancey track of the album; the rest hopefully following more in suit with the innovative sounds I’ve come to expect from Made in Heights.

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Cassie Lynch

Rainy Dawg Turns 12: Isaiah Rashad @ Birthday Fest

Rainy Dawg Radio is throwing a tantrum! After 12 years of feeling brought down by the man, we’re ready for our final years of pre-teen excellence. THIS FRIDAY, our favorite bands are setting up shop in Sylvan Grove to celebrate our terrible twelfth birthday (we’re soooo old)!

If you haven’t already, you can RSVP via our facebook event! There you can find updates before and during the show, including posts about food, fun and free swag. For example:

If phantasmagorical frybread isn’t enough, there will also be music! Lots of music… including:

Isaiah Rashad

Wampire

One Above Below None

Naked Giants (RDR Birthday Battle winner!)

Easy Eating by Naked Giants

SNUFF REDUX

Toy Kingdom EP by Snuff Redux

Richie Dagger’s Crime

Collection of Singles 2012-2014 by Richie Dagger’s Crime

While you’re listening, our favorite clubs and organizations will be there as well:

1. Live Painting by UW Hip Hop Student Association!

2. Merch and more for sale by CTPAK Records!

and of course…

3. FIRE Native American street tacos by Off The Rez!

So come check it out on FRIDAY MAY 15th • 5–10pm

Where? SYLVAN GROVE THEATER

How much? FREE!!!

Rainy Dawg Radio, Arts & Entertainment and ASUW are happy to have such fantastic performers present on our behalf

xo come party

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DJ Desman

Coming Up: Sasquatch 2015 (May 22)

It’s finally May, which means that the Sasquatch! Music Festival is only a few weeks away. Sasquatch! is held at the Gorge Amphitheater; a venue known for it’s scenic beauty that attracts music-lovers from the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

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This will be my first year attending the festival, and I’m stoked. I wish I could be at the Gorge grooving to my favorite bands instead of studying for midterms, but since I have to wait a bit until May 22, I compiled a little list of acts that are on my must-see list in an attempt to contain my excitement.

Tame Impala

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I love Kevin Parker. Parker is the musical mastermind behind this unique psychedelic sound: he basically comes up and records all of the components of Tame Impala’s songs. Kevin Parker IS Tame Impala, though he does have a band accompany him for live performances. I first saw Tame Impala perform at the Outside Lands Music Festival in 2012— they played early in the day and didn’t have much of an audience. The small audience that was there probably suffered some severe ear damage after I yelled “I LOVE YOU KEV” as loud as I could for the entirety of the set. Anyways, their popularity has grown tremendously since 2012, so it’s gonna be a little harder to push my way to the front this time. I’m up for the challenge though. Anything for Kev.

Angel Olsen

Sometimes it seems like there isn’t a lot of room for female artists in the realm of garage rock. Angel Olsen is an exception. Her simple but messy music is absolutely killer. It goes fast, it goes slow, and it’s always balances pretty, soft vocals with a harder edge. Check out one of my favorite songs by her “Forgiven/Forgotten”

Fuzz

Fuzz creates some heavy, head banging tunes that are going to be so much fun to see live. I have a soft spot for this band because I adore Ty Segall, a staple artist of garage rock hailing from my own hometown of San Francisco, who plays drums for Fuzz. Seeing them jam will definitely be a crazy experience. (I hope I don’t die in the mosh pit.)

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Flume

I am usually not a big fan of electronic/house music, but Flume is a major exception. Harley Streten is Flume, an artist from the UK, who makes some of the best produced music I have ever heard. I’ve seen him live once before, and it was an awesome dance party.

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Twin Peaks

If you have been keeping up with the Rainy Dawg blog, you know my love for this band has no bounds. I might cry when I see one of my favorite garage rock bands perform. I’m going to need at least two people by my side to keep me from climbing on stage and kissing all of them.

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If you haven’t bought your tickets yet, you can still buy them! So grab a friend, hitch a ride and I’ll see you at The Gorge.

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izzy

New Track: Earl Sweatshirt – Solace

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Earl
Sweatshirt
is one of the most talented rappers out right now. He
produces a lot of his own beats and flows over them like none other.

Earl is plagued by
depression. He talks about a lot of his issues in his music. His latest album was aptly
titled I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go
Outside.

With Solace, he bares himself like never
before. Earl dropped Solace on
YouTube earlier this week, without warning. He raps about
his sadness and pain with brutal honesty. Solace is a ten
minute voyage into Earl’s stormy mind. I’ve never heard anything quite like it,
simultaneously stark and beautiful.

The YouTube
description for Solace is succinct: “music from when i hit the bottom and found something.”
There isn’t a video to accompany the song. There’s just a plain, pink square
for us to stare at.

Solace doesn’t have a hook. It doesn’t
need one. Haunting instrumentals ebb and flow and transform. Earls three verses
are mostly mumbled and slurry, to good effect. His voice conveys his
hopelessness better than any words could.

Which
isn’t to say that the lyrics here aren’t powerful. Bars like “I spent days
faded and anemic/You
could see it in my face, I ain’t been eating, I’m just wasting away” and “My
brain split in two,
it’s raining a bit/I hope
it’s a monsoon, my face in the sink” are visual and cutting.

The
piano-heavy instrumentals create a dark, claustrophobic vibe. Disembodied moans
mingle with eerie chords. Shrill screeches pierce through, at points. Despite
all the melancholy elements, the beats are as smooth as melted butter. Earl’s production never ceases to impress.

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Earl
is mired in regret and it keeps him up at night: “I done stayed up the whole
night…It’s me and my nibbling conscience.” He misses his dead grandma: “I got
my grandmama’s hands, I start to cry
when I see ‘em/Cause they remind me
of seeing her”

Earl’s
honesty pays off, because Solace is real
and relatable. The YouTube comments section is full of praise for Earl. Some
commenters even thank Earl for Solace. It
“strikes a chord” and “speaks volumes.”

Do
yourself a favor and give Solace a
listen. It’s amazing.

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Pranav Shivanna

Quick talk: Glass Animals’ brilliance

AGH. I can’t.
Let’s talk about Glass Animals.

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First of all, Glass Animals are English (and gorgeous). They’re an indie rock band. And they’re from Oxford.

Are we up my alley, or are we? But regardless, these guys are still solid musicians. For once, I don’t want to rush through an entire album for you to get a taste of these guys’ sound.

I want to talk about “Gooey,” on the June 2014 LP ZABA, because this one track captures the real essence of what Glass Animals’ sound is and what they’re about.

First of all, this song is full of sexual innuendos, so if you’re awkward about it, kindly step off. We’ve got lyrics like “Ride my little pooh bear and “You just wanna know those peanut butter vibes,” but you know what? The lyrics are smooth, and supple and lead vocalist Dave Bayley’s slippery falsetto snakes around seeping basslines and psychedelic beats.

This song feels like you’re in a dream, with these sleek, texturized lyrics and lullaby sounding instrumentals. It’s strange listening to this song, because you feel like you are personally being crooned to, with Bayley’ vocals whispering in your ear, “While my naked naked fool/Fresh out of an icky gooey womb.”

There is a level of sophistication with these guys, and I’m not surprised, when you have Dave Bayley as frontman, with a degree in neuroscience from London’s King’s College. What intelligent man wouldn’t know how to perfectly craft together such a beautiful combination of intricate beats, trippy vocals, and mellow interludes of R&B? Listen, and tell me you won’t fall in love.

Because what’s not to love when there are other tracks like “Toes” that are equally as brilliant with smooth harmonies and complex lyricicsm. You’ve got this lingering swagger that is the essence of the song, with sparse percussion and underlying bass. It’s slow-tempo and it’s stripped down, lacking lots of synth and lots of energy, but it’s what makes the song great. It’s these little nuances that make Glass Animals distinctive.

Any band that’s touring right now with St. Vincent, and was signed by brilliant producer Paul Epworth (think Florence & the Machine, Bloc Party, and Adele) is a band worth listening to. And you’ve got that opportunity to, with an upcoming show at Neptune Theatre on May 24th.

Get tickets here, and just thank me later.

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Ariana Rivera

Celebrate, celebrate: Holiday Mountain

New musicians are back, let’s dive in and straight up dig it. Holiday Mountain, anyone?

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Holiday Mountain is a band that is completely out of the realm of genre. Synth pop fused with dubstep fused with the meaningful lyricism of soul? It’s trippy.
Which is not a bad thing, we need some more unique eclectic sounds in our lives. Based in Austin, Texas, Holiday Mountain dub themselves as musicians that push musical boundaries, mixing dances beats, unexpected melodies, and airy vocals.

And it’s true, they’re unconventional for sure.

Taking a look at their recently released EP You be You, Part 1, there is a lot going on that you almost wonder, and “How did they come up with this?”

Number one track off their EP “My Body” is so bizarre sounding with a mix of front woman Laura Patino half rapping her lyrics “Don’t need no hates/If you ain’t down, I’ll see you later,” to underlying synth beats and heavy percussion. This group does their own sound, and they make that known to you straight up coming to the album, regarding their unconventional sound.

But you come to get used to the way Holiday Mountain mixes their sound by the time you get to sweet tracks like “Slow Motion Things,” with tangy vocals, poignant instrumental riffs, and musical timing that ironically parallels the theme of the song.

There are funky beats, and there are rich vocals for sure. You’ve got hints of Diplo and M.I.A. with the electronic dance groove and hip hop influence, but Holiday Mountain does have one distinction.

Although their sound is crazy, the themes behind their lyricism are beautiful and empowering. With lyrics like “It’s my body/Don’t need no haters” and “Equal freedom for woman and man,” you can’t help but feel inspired regarding gender equality and female empowerment. Not something typical to normal synth-pop right?

My favorite track off the entire EP is “With You” (featuring Wild Child), and that isn’t due to just the slower tempo and more ethereal sounding vocals. It’s about self-love, but it’s also about love in general and the beautiful feelings that comes with love. There is a very airy feel to the entire track as Patino sings “With you, I am young/With you, I am free.” The layered vocals with the softer percussion and overlay of violin is beautiful. It’s a little hippie, with the underlying chorus and synth, but it’s a beautiful end to the EP, and makes you wistful for just a little bit more. 

It’s nice seeing the versatility of these musicians, purely because not everyone can necessarily automatically groove to Holiday Mountain’s aggressive dance jams. But at the same time, not everyone may not want to sit and mellow out to a more airy, acoustic tune either.

They’ve got a little bit of everything, and that’s what matter when they’re singing about themes of self-love, empowerment, and overall acceptance—something we can all relate to.

You Be You, Part 1, available here to jam to. Go groove.

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Ariana Rivera

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!

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DJ Desman