When we saw Kacy Hill make her debut back in Seattle last
winter, we were blown away. When we last left off with her, we said we were
excited what she had to show us because her soft, delicate vocals on her EP, Bloo.
In Hill’s new single, “Lion,” her vocals still maintain their
stunning, clear quality. Reminiscent still of FKA Twigs and Florence and the
Machine, Hill’s song starts with almost eerie vocal coos and whistling
instrumentals. Hill, as she moves into her verse, overlaying strong drums, is
slow with soft, drawn out vocals and instrumentals that give us a hint of Glass
Animals. As Hill moves into her chorus, we’re impressed with strength and power
that reminds of where old school rock ‘n roll powers came from.
The lyricism on the track is simple, telling a story about
wanting soft love only to awake a powerful empress with strength and fire. We’ve
maybe heard it before, but there’s something about the spin Hill puts on her
track that gives it power. As Hill belts out “But you woke the lion/You wanted
fire,” there are instant chills. Hill isn’t a little girl anymore, giggling on
stage. She’s taking her own.
What is the cause of this new source of power and strength in
her music? Perhaps G.O.O.D. Music, the label Hill signed off with, has given
her new outlets for inspiration and creativity. We wouldn’t be surprised when
she’s worked with Kanye West, producer Rick Rubin, and artist Jack Garratt over
the course of her early career.
Nonetheless wherever she honed her spirit doesn’t matter, we’re
now just anxious for more.
Be sure to keep up to date withKacy Hillfor new music and videos.
Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!
The other night I saw three electro-pop bands that, if you so choose to listen to, might make you break out in a happy dance. Yes, the good vibes were all around the other night at the Neumos when I was able to see Panama Wedding, The Griswolds and Magic Man. The stop in Cap Hill was part of their “Hotline Spring Tour” and I was little disappointed that it included no Drake covers. Truth be told, I hadn’t done much listening to these acts but what I got was pretty much what I expected. Throughout the show, the bands delivered high-tempo tunes that made everyone hop around.
First we had the synth-heavy, melodic guys from Brooklyn, NY and honestly I thought they out-performed everyone else that would later come on that stage. Panama Wedding hasn’t really released that much music, but they’ve done pretty well with their two EPs. What makes this band really fun to see is their frontman, Peter Kirk, who’s voice is just really purely beautiful. Their music isn’t too complicated but it doesn’t feel like it has to be. The highlight of the show for me was “Uma”, a song that is just way too fun to sing along to and one that’s been stuck in my head since the other night.
Next we had a couple of Aussies who did their best to follow P-Wed. The Griswolds have done pretty well with their debut album Be Impressive that was released last year. Frontman Christopher Whitehall has got electric pink hair that tells you right away that this guy gets freaky with it. This band seems like they’re going to become bigger and bigger because their songs are just like really fun, guilt-free, cruelty-free pop music.
Headlining this mutha was Magic Man, a band out of BOSTON (MY HOMETOWN!) that has a way bigger following than I was aware of. Their frontman, Alex Caplow, was not about to be out-hyped by the Griswolds. He came out fiery and made this band go. Sonically, they don’t differ too much from the other bands, which I guess makes sense because they were touring with them… Huh. Anyways, fun show that you didn’t really need to think about. Just dance!
At the end we got a surprise crossover of all three bands who did a joyous rendition of R. Kelly’s “Ignition (remix)”. This was a lot of fun that featured one mysterious band member spitting absolute fire emojis. After the bands had left the stage, my face was covered in smiles so I’d say the whole thing was a good experience. Overall, this show was great fun but like not really life changing, you know? I’d check these bands out if you aren’t afraid to admit that you like pop.
For a British electronica band that was founded in 2010, released
their first single in 2012, and signed to Polydor Records in 2015, releasing
their debut album just this past July, we expected Years & Years to
have a pretty humble audience size.
But when we walked into Neptune Theatre for Years & Years’
first show in Seattle, we were shocked. Every nook and cranny was packed with a
person. There was hardly room to breathe, let alone dance, but the crowd was
there for a reason and that was to groove all night.
With a upbeat, dance vibe, the British trio ties together their
90s R&B influences with modern dance pop, reminiscent of fellow contemporaries, Ben Khan, Kwabs, and
Iyes. You catch the more somber tempo with songs like “Take Shelter” and “Real”
that have a James Blake balladry to
the melody and R&B hint to them—songs that have a great visceral feeling to
the lyricism and background beat. And using their set time to play the entirety
of their debut album Communion¸ that
visceral feeling lasted the entire night.
But where Years & Years thrives is in frontman Olly Alexander’s high pitched, well
controlled vocals in tracks like “Worship”, “Ties”, and “Border”—songs that are
subtle in their background instrumentals and hints of synth. They’re songs that
focus solely on the act of listening to his voice smoothly sing every lyric,
and although aren’t explicit in working as a dance pop song, they cause your
body to move.
The song that Alexander executes best is a wild card on the
album, “Foundation”. Not a dance song at all, but also not a soft ballad, this
song has overlaying synth and a mystical, almost surreal instrumental overlay.
Yet, it’s even better life with Alexander’s yearning, almost pleading vocals
that give you chills as he bends over his microphone on stage in front of a
packed theatre of wide-eyed fans.
In a live show, the trio flows well, leaving a brilliant
stage presence–making it no surprise that just in the past year, the band has
been nominated and won a handful of awards and topping charts across the UK. The
synthesis and connected energy between the performers and audience was almost
electric, everyone on-stage and off moving together in synchrony.
There’s something about this trio’s music that is unlike any other electronic-pop artist. Perhaps it’s the ‘90′s R&B influences, perhaps it’s the subtle way
the dreamy synth and smooth vocals work to make you dance almost subconsciously—
or maybe it’s the way the artists are compassionate and human enough to pull
two men up on stage to watch a marriage proposal play out, bonding the
community within the theatre ever more so.
Whatever it is, we were honored to see a band keep the
energy up among their fans for the entire set as that’s a feat in itself, and
when they finished their last encore, we were sad to see them go.
But we’re excited to see what they have for us next.
Last year when we talked about Jack Garratt with his newly
released EP, we were in love. There was something about the vibe of music that grabbed us, maybe in the way Garratt labels himself as “neo-modern.” Nonetheless, we liked the hints of R&B in his electropop
indie rhythms and his multi-instrumentalism, linking in electric guitar
with piano to add a sense of funk and blue to the synth he overlays in his
And with songs like “The Love You’ve Given,” we see other influences in Garratt’s
work —Disclosure, Mumford and Sons, and James Blake, especially in
terms of the falsetto Garratt executes under the atmosphere of drawn out piano
With the release of Garratt’s debut album Phase, this artist has been swept up in
a sea of praise, winning awards including the British Awards Critics Choice
prize and the BBC Sound of 2016 (an award prominent artists Ellie Goulding and Sam Smith both won early in their careers).
And seeing the one-man-band in the flesh work his magic on
stage Monday night at Barboza is a cerebral experience, flitting around between the three instruments
he plays and the microphone into which he croons and sometimes screams into.
His vocals live are a more gritty, throaty, and almost harsher version of the smooth
soft vocals on his record, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing—everything is
merely heightened and made more raw. As he sings fan favorites on the record,
like “Breathe Life,” “Weathered,” and “Chemical,” the crowd is invested. As Garratt
dances around on stage, with a vibe similar to Michael Jackson or Prince, the audience grooves around on the floor, equally as emotional as him.
Garratt takes a moment during his show to chit chat with the
small 200-member audience of Barboza, and point out that he was at the smallest
venue on his tour, highlighting how big he is already. As the British-born
artist swaps between up-beat and slow tempo tracks, the mood of the room
oscillates, as well, between happy-drunk and somber thoughtfulness.
A moment occurs in which the artist sets down everything, to
inform his audience his intent to play a new song never recorded before. The
new track that Garratt continues to unfold for his fans is not memorable in
terms of lyrics or melodies, but is in the emotions Garratt exudes in the song’s
execution. As he closes his eyes and powerfully plays chord after chord on his
keyboard, we see how much this yet unnamed song means to him. The audience
stands silent, no whispers in earshot, swaying in awe to the range of the
artist’s vocals and the way he performs his composition.
Not a fan of encores, Garratt plays his most popular track
as his last, the 2014 “Worry” that he played after winning the Critics Choice
Prize, and happily exits the stage. He’s an upbeat guy, giving into the
audience banter, teasing them about the British jokes they make, and telling
anecdotes about each track he plays.
The new album Phase? It’s well written, well-produced and
exactly what we would expect of Garratt with heavy drops and synthy electronic
in track likes ”Coalesce (Synesthesia Part III)” and “Lonesome Valley,” and powerful vocal switches in “Fire,” and “Surprise
Yourself.” A bit generic, the album almost
makes us wish Garratt experimented a little more in terms of composition, but
it makes sense why he wouldn’t want to with a debut. Yet, there is no doubt Garratt knows how to
perform and with good reason, playing festivals and shows in the UK and acting
as a BBC favorite in the in-studio videos.
We can only wait and hope now with anticipation to see what
Garratt throws at us next in the coming years, because it’s only a matter of
time before he starts following in fellow UK artists Sam Smith and Adele’s
footsteps and accepts a Grammy for his talent as an artist and producer. We
also hope to see a second album soon with a little more to show in terms of
experimentation with his skills.
Check out the album Phase and be sure to follow his tour, both in the US and UK.
While I am delighted over and over again by the discovery of
new artists, I am rarely plunged into an inspiration that alters my outlook
on the world. But such a rare captivation did consume me this week, and
19-year-old Norwegian Aurora Aksnes was responsible.
My first exposure to AURORA was her cover of Oasis’s “Half
the World Away” featured in this year’s poignantly wonderful John Lewis Christmas advert.
(This wildly popular video catapulted AURORA to number 11 on the UK charts, and
helped publicize her European tour.)
the story in this advert held most of my attention, I couldn’t help but notice
the pure character and exceptional pitch of the singer giving voice to the commercial.
I did a quick search to find the song and artist and blessed YouTube directed
me to her music video “Runaway”. I sincerely hope you have never heard this
song before, because watching it in conjunction with the video yields to
something much more ethereal than experiencing either form in isolation.
If you’re more interested in melancholy acoustic sounds, she’s
mastered that domain as well, with arresting visuals to match. “Murder Song (5,
4, 3, 2, 1)” is gritty and raw, and its music video featuring black-and-white
butterflies fluttering around a tortured AURORA is mesmerizing.
Both these delicately desolate videos capture feelings that pertinently
embody the coldest season of the year. I intend to put AURORA on all my wintertime
playlists (including Christmas Carols, because “Half the World Away” decidedly
counts as one now that it’s been in a Christmas commercial.)
On December 4th AURORA posted a celebratory photo
to her her exclusive fan community, “Warriors and Weirdos”,
with the caption “We’ve finished the record!! Magnus, O.
Martin and me are going out for some sushi. It’s a sushi kind of day today.” (Her charming personality is
an added bonus to the insider access of being a member on this page.) Sadly,
this post doesn’t indicate much about the forthcoming album’s U.S. release date.
But you can keep yourself apprised by following her Twitter,Facebook and aesthetically splendid Instagram accounts.
If you are hesitant to check out AURORA’s live videos
because of her adolescence and inexperience with the stage, I would urge you to
overcome that reservation. She is both impressive and adorable live, as
evidenced by this set for NPR:
AURORA is as cosmically stunning as the natural phenomenon that
shares her name. She is a vocal and visual wonder whose brilliant (and
self-written) songs simultaneously transport listeners to the majestic vistas
of Norway and the darkest depths of human suffering. But AURORA does not cast
sadness in a troublesome light. She handles it gently and imaginatively, with an
artful acknowledgement of its inevitable impact on our lives. This is why listening
to her music is not a depressing escapism, but a stirring reimagining
of the tumultuous and beautiful privilege it is to be alive.
Never have I listened to an album so aptly named. Listening
toBØRNS’ new album, Dopamine, releases that sweet, sweet
neurotransmitter right into your synapses and keeps you coming back for more.
born Garrett Borns, is a Michigan magician-turned-musician. His debut album
starts off with “10,000 Emerald Pools”, a song featured on his earlier EP, Candy. This chilled-out, transcendent
song about a significant other in BØRNS’
life is a perfect introduction to the rest of the album. The laid back synth-electro-pop
sound is superb, with the album later mixing into it various elements of alternative, glam rock and even a dash of folk.
The theme of love and slight obsession present in the first
song stays throughout the album. This certainly isn’t an album that relies on
sadness and heartbreak to make a connection to the listener. Rather, it brings
you back to the good times in your life, when the only thing that mattered was
your feelings for another person. If you’re painfully single like me, you can
alternately listen to the album while imagining the object of affection to be
the pint of Ben & Jerry’s in your freezer. It almost feels the same.
The entire album is very cohesive; never sounding like a
collection of singles. Rather, it feels like every song was written with the
intended vibe in mind. This, to me, is paramount in an artist’s debut album.
Rather than throw his musical variety in your face, BØRNS’ first album chooses a sound and sticks with it,
while also not letting any two songs sound the same.
The two songs that stand out to me are “American Money” and
“Fool”. The former has a fantastic chorus that’s catchier than a three-armed
baseball player, and the latter elicits feelings of ‘70s disco tracks. “Fool”
is the last track, and by far the most upbeat. When you finish the album,
you’ll feel pumped up and ready to dance your way through any situation.
Sorry, Garrett, but there actually are some songs that I’m NOT fangirling over. “Dopamine”, the title track, seems disappointingly uninspired. While it has a great opening and a funky beat, it lacks the catchy chorus that BØRNS has a knack for. “Dug My Heart” is another song I’m not crazy for. The entire song is less energetic than the others and feels like it was recorded in molasses. If it sounded a bit less sluggish, I think it would be great.
Overall, Dopamine gets 8/10. The music on BØRNS’ first album sounds
exactly like his hair looks: smooth, velvety, and distinct.