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

Rad Report: An Ethereal Night at the ECT with Moses Sumney

After local artists Crater and Shaprece rocked out with their high energy and expressive vibes, Moses Sumney assumed his position in front of the audience at the Ethnic Cultural Center on Wednesday, January 28th. Just his very presence sent ethereal sensations throughout the venue, creating a kind of piercing silence that is only heardwhen crowds of people are in complete and utter awe of whatever it is they find
themselves collectively part of. “There’s gonna be a lot of surprises tonight,
for both of us,” Moses Sumney said with a laugh as he grabbed the mic and
started to test the waters on the stage. His sly remarks gave the impression that
he may have been a tad nervous, but the moment he started playing music it
became clear that nerves were most certainly not a factor in his phenomenal
performance. Although I might not have plastic wings like Moses Sumney (as
heard in his song “Plastic”), I felt myself float as he began to experiment
with his inspiring soul/folk sounds.

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These
sounds began to develop into loops of his voice, overlapping each other—resulting
in a trancelike, overwhelming foundation for the musical journey he was
beginning to create for the audience. I’ve never been to another show where I
felt like I was watching art being created in front of my eyes and ears, but
Moses Sumney really achieved that with the techniques he used to create his
beautiful compositions. Aside from the use of a guitar, the only other
instrument Moses used on stage was his voice and his looping tool to create a
unique experience unlike any other that I’ve felt at a live show. Each
individual noise coming out of his mouth and guitar somehow developed into
beautiful songs that surrounded the audience in an unearthly bubble that popped
in each audience member’s mind.

His
opening song—“Dwell in the Dark”—was one of his more upbeat folky songs that
created liveliness throughout the ECT. This and his next song, “Man on the Moon,”
set the tone for the rest of the night as being a soulful and unique one on the
UW campus. As this song came to an end, he held one high note and began looping
his voice into a really interesting mix of sounds. The tones in this mixture
became almost anxiety-inducing in the best possible way—causing listeners to
feel a bit uncomfortable in their seats as they felt the growing sublime energy
swallow and capture their senses. The Ethnic Cultural Center turned into a cave
of creation, full of reverberating sounds including beat boxing, clapping, and
intonations of Moses Sumney’s heavenly voice (as can be seen and heard below).

He later went into playing one of
my favorite songs of the night—“Worth It”—and joked about it being written
about tuition increases (hehe, thanks for keeping a positive attitude about
tuition rises, Mr. Sumney). The biggest crowd pleaser of the night definitely
came when Moses began playing “Plastic,” one of his most played songs on his Soundcloud. He eased into playing this mellow and sexy tune while receiving cheering
from the entire audience to continue his outstanding work. There was one point
during the song that he began to actually whisper, almost teasing listeners to
beg for more of his smooth voice.

Throughout
the night, I felt myself become emotionally controlled by the powerful hold
that the music had over me; however, the saddest part came when Moses Sumney’s
music had to stop. As he exited with a standing ovation (no surprise there), I
found myself wishing for an encore more than I had ever in my entire life. Unfortunately
there was no encore, but I did get a chance to briefly speak with Moses after
the show and get a picture with this up and coming legend.

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Incase you weren’t able to come
around this time to experience this one-of-a-kind musician; I strongly recommend
you check him out the next time he’s in Seattle (which lucky for you is on
February 17th at Neumos)! You won’t regret it—I can speak from experience when I say that it will be an ear-opening performance to remember as last Wednesday’s was at the ECT.

Two Gallants – We Are Undone (Album Preview)

Some call this Folk-Rock, I call it kick-ass! Next month, Two Gallants will be releasing their newest album since 2012. Made infamous by a moment of police brutality in Houston, singer/guitarist Adam Stephens and drummer Tyson Vogel have opened up a whole new can of worms in We Are Undone.

The duo’s last full length release, The Bloom And The Blight, pulled us through every possible set of emotions. Free-flowing indie-punk tracks like “Halcyon Days” and “My Love Won’t Wait” cleverly contrasted blues ballads like “Broken Eyes”. In this album, Stephens and Vogel showcased their signature sound – slow starts with tremendous percussive peaks which bring us closer to the fuzz, buzz, and controlled chaos of the band.

This focus on juxtaposition seems to be even clearer in last year’s preview of next month’s release. Check out the lyric video below:

The vocals ring out openly over an ever-changing guitar riff. During the first shift in the guitar’s melody, Stephen’s tone sounds like Muse’s Matthew Bellamy before the band took its ever-famous electronic escapade of 2012. Nothing is overly-complicated in this mix of textures – alterations of simple progressions take catchy Black Keys-esque movements and bring them to a point of epic dance-ability.

If the track’s abrupt closure only leaves you wanting more… check out the band’s webpage for streams, videos, tour dates, and to pre-order the album!

Weekly Digs: Ernie Graham – Artist Profile

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

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

Here I Go Again

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

So Lonely

The Girl That Turned The Lever

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

Brown Lady

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Jamie Coughlin

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

A solid find: Hollow Coves (New Artist Update)

I was recently just doodling around on the internet like we like to do when paper proposals should really be written, and I stumbled across these two beautiful gentlemen who, quote, “have that chilled vibe about [them].”

Such truth.

I’m a fan of acoustic sets and I’m even more of a fan of acoustic duos. Pretty clean, pure stuff to me, and I find that if you just have a guitar in hand and your voice, there are no real opportunities to BS your music.

Hollow Coves do not disappoint.

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Meet Ryan Henderson and Matt Carins, two dudes from Brisbane, Australia. Recently just releasing their debut EP, Drifting, indie-folk duo Hollow Coves keep it simple and keep it classy.

Just listening to the first song on Drifting, “The Woods,” is beautifully simple with an intro of a slowly building beat that develops into simple guitar melodies and soft piano chords, vaguely giving a Kris Allen feel to the song. The two boys picked each other well as both their voices truly complement each other as they bring the song alive with their relaxed tone and lyrics of “And we all sit around the fire/ We feel a little warmer now/And we all sit around the fire/ We feel so much better now.”

Drifting – EP by Hollow Coves

Take a listen, and if just chilling around the fire and feeling better and warmer doesn’t give you a “chilled” vibe then I don’t know what will.

In “Home,” the second song on Drifting¸ simple subtle guitar melodies combined with the duo’s intertwined voices also just brings you home as they sing “Take me home/To the friends I’ve always known/Take me home/Back to the place where I belong.”

Such simple lyrics right? I mean, yes, don’t get me wrong here, these pieces of music are not the most complex musically and lyrically, but the overall vibe these two have is what I think they’re both trying to achieve: simple, clean and beautiful. And hey, indie folk isn’t Bach.

I think in the last song, “Heatwave,” is actually the song that is the most complex of the three on the EP with more complicated instrumentals, but at the same time, it’s also my least favorite.  Why? 1) There’s only one person doing vocals on this song, which for me, causes the song to lose depth, and 2) The last half of the song is guitar strumming and humming which gets boring. Nonetheless, the one guy doing the vocals on this song, either Ryan or Matt (I can’t tell), does show a wider range of vocal capability, so cool to know for the future if they decide to release a full album.

Where to listen?! http://hollowcoves.bandcamp.com/releases 

Overall? I like them. I like this. I like indie folk and I like their simplicity and the beauty that comes with it. If they keep to the simple melodies of both their instrumentals and their voices, then Hollow Coves will be a duo that makes it to the top.

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Ariana Rivera

Show Preview: James Vincent McMorrow, Neptune Theatre 11/16

I’m a simple girl. I like some tunes with a guitar, a piano, and some solid vocals. I’m not too fancy, I don’t always appreciate all the extras that go into a record, especially when it takes away from the vocals.

Not with James Vincent McMorrow. It’s a whole new ball game.

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Let’s back up. When I heard James Vincent McMorrow was coming to town this Sunday, I became much, much too excited. An Irish singer-songwriter, McMorrow is one of my favorites. Just releasing his second album Post Tropical last winter in January, McMorrow’s sound is indescribable. Compared to his debut album of 2011, Early in the Morning¸ which had a stereotypical folk sound of straight guitar and voice, Post Tropical mixes different sounds to create this unique, cohesive juxtaposition of R&B, soul, folk, and hip hop. It helps that McMorrow’s surreal songwriting and ability to play practically every instrument is demonstrated within the album.

Mix that with his beautiful falsetto and you’ve got yourself a solid deal of music.

I’m excited for this brilliant show at Neptune Theatre, Sunday, November 16th, at 8 p.m. and see how it pans out. Personal favorites?

Pretty stoked for “Cavalier,” the opening track on Post Tropical. A beautiful piece of work, it slowly builds from hushed keys and hand claps to soaring sounds of bass, drums, and of course his gorgeous vocals.

Get excited.

Also, hoping to God and crossing my fingers that he pulls out “We Don’t Eat,” from his 2012 EP, because although it’s an oldie, it’s a goodie. Opening the track up with a quiet repetition of one piano key and soft drums, it escalades into this track with incredible depth. 

I like the way this man builds up his jams, because man, it gives me shivers.

Basic point: Go to this show. You don’t need to be a fan of soul or indie or folk to like this man. The mixes on this album are incredibly complex and conversely inspired with different influences that anyone can fall in love with him.

Get yo tickets: http://www.stgpresents.org/tickets/by-month/eventdetail/1537/29/james-vincent-mcmorrow#

Also, it’s not sold out, and it’s at one of the best venues in Seattle, so I’d intensely frown at you if you didn’t go. And I hate frowning.

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Ariana Rivera

Angus and Julia Stone Live at The Showbox

A throwback post right here guys! A few weeks back (Oct 12th to be exact)(or last month to be more precise), with two tickets, I got to watch Angus and Julia Stone live at The Showbox. We were ushered in at 7pm but it started out with a local opening act who was touring with them. They didn’t come out till 9.30pm so it was quite a wait!

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The four-pieced band came out and immediately started performing “A Heartbreak.” The ambiance of it all suddenly made me feel like I was in a ‘70s rock concert. The voice you listen to on your iTunes or Spotify of Julia’s voice was exactly the same when she performed live. Scratch that, even better! Angus, with his shabby facial hair in a cap and strumming his heart out on his guitar, was looking hella attractive. His voice was a great combination with Julia’s.

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One of the highlights of the night was when they agreed to play “Devil’s Tears” upon one of the audience’s request. Personally, their best performance was when they played their top hit “Big Jet Plane.” It was just goosebumps and feels for me from the start to end. Just when we thought the concert was over, the crowd was cheering for more. They came back on the stage and the siblings did a duet of the haunting lullaby “Santa Monica Dream.”

You would expect to be bored at a concert by a duo who usually sings slow indie rock songs. However, for a huge fan like me, it wasn’t boring at all. The beauty of Angus and Julia’s voices matched together followed by atmospheric background music playing was entertaining. It was everything I expected it to be and more! They’re definitely a duo to spot out for at any upcoming music festivals in Seattle.

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Ellisha “take me for a ride… on a Big Jet Plane” Rosli