Feeling funky? You Might Need Some Jungle Fire

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(Photo from KCRW)

Hey y’all. It’s a new year, which means we should be pumped about all the new music headed our way in the coming months. I welcomed 2017 in search of some seriously gritty, deliciously zesty funk, and I set out to see what I could uncover from the Internet troves. Not too far in, I discovered a band called Jungle Fire. And let me tell you: these guys have probably the most fitting name ever. Eleven members strong, Jungle Fire fuse Afrobeat and Latin elements with their LA funk roots. The result is red-hot and explosive and so, so funky. It’s the kind of music that gets you moving wherever you are.

The group was originally founded as a one-off project for a festival in LA’s Chinatown. That was six years ago. Since then, the band has released one full-length album, Tropicoso. “Comencemos”, a cover of Fela Kuti’s “Let’s Start” and the record’s second track, gives a nod to the band’s Afro-funk influences. Bold horns and a punchy rhythm section pull together a raw, cumbia interpretation of Fela’s original. The rest of the album expands on this beat-driven sound, drawing on Afro-Caribbean percussion instruments. My personal favorite is the title track, “Tropicoso”. The baritone sax in this is great. (Apparently this guy can also play the flute?!)

Next week, keep your ears peeled. Jungle Fire is dropping a new album, Jambu, on February 3rd. If you’re looking for more fireball funk, then this is for you. If you’re not, check it out anyway. I highly recommend.

Find Jungle Fire here: Facebook / Bandcamp / SoundCloud

-Emily Tasaka

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

Five Artists to Watch in 2017

A new year means another year of new music and breakout artists. Last year was a monumental year for music, bringing both major album releases and newcomers to the forefront. That being said, here are five artists that are sure to impress this year.

Smino

The St. Louis, Missouri native has already gained a following with the release of two EPs and as an opening act on Mick Jenkins’ recent tour. Now Smino is prepared to enter the spotlight with the release of his debut album blkswn early this year. Though a release date hasn’t been announced yet, Smino has been teasing its release with snippets of new songs on his snapchat as well as a new single, taking the same name as the album. Expect the album to be packed full of bars and smooth production, both staples of Smino’s craft. Listen to “blkswn.”

Ravyn Lanae

Ravyn Lanae has slowly made her mark through features with notable rappers, including Mick Jenkins, Noname, and Saba. Her debut EP, Moon Shoes, established her as a strong solo act, making effective use of her angelic voice and versatility to create songs that can be both groovy or moody. Her busy year has already begun, opening for Noname on tour (in Seattle February 15) and hard at work on her debut album, which is set to drop sometime this year. Be on the lookout for Lanae to drop new music soon and possibly perform in a city near you. Go hit up Moon Shoes.

Aminé

Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Aminé has already made a name for himself with the smash hit “Caroline”. His performance last year on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon further elevated him status when he added an additional verse to the song, addressing the recent presidential election and his disapproval of its unfortunate results. His unique style and upbeat flow are a joy to listen and dance to, even though his library of work is relatively small (he has two singles on Spotify and one album on Soundcloud). Although he has yet to announce an album release this year, more new music is expected to come from the young star, so make sure to stay alert. Watch Aminé’s performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Kaiydo

Florida has recently become one of the hottest spots for new artists, introducing the likes of Denzel Curry, Kodak Black, Twelve’len, and Marcellus Juvann. Kaiydo is another one to add to the group. His typically bouncy songs have caught fire in the hip-hop community. My personal favorite, “Arcade”, has an incredibly bangin’ beat paired with a catchy hook. Kaiydo’s library only includes a few singles, but he told the music blog Pigeons and Planes that his debut mixtape Kartoons is on the way. Hopefully his mixtape includes the same catchy songs that he has released so far. Be sure to listen to “Arcade.”

Khalid

Khalid uniquely fuses electronic and R&B to create a genre all his own. His breakout single “Location” has already amassed over 30 million plays on Spotify, and his performance at ComplexCon has helped him gain national attention. He recently kicked off a tour to promote his debut album, releasing March 3. Khalid manages to create diverse music, as is evident on the song “Coaster”, a piano-driven ballad, and “Hopeless”, a song that sounds like an ode to 80s electronic music. Make sure to give Khalid’s album a listen when it releases, as it is sure to blow up in the weeks following its release. Definitely check out “Location.”

-Archie O’Dell

The Bad Plus The Neptune Theater: Live Show Review

This past Thursday night I had the honor of seeing, The Bad Plus, at The Neptune Theater in what turned out to be an incredible performance. I have been a fan of The Neptune Theater ever since my first show there which was Snarky Puppy. I think the venue is an excellent size, and usually has pretty good sound as well. Upon arriving Thursday night, I was surprised to find seats on the floor right in front of the stage. This was my first concert at The Neptune that has been seated, but looking back on the performance it fit the atmosphere very well.

Having no opener for them, The Bad Plus came out on stage and instantly started burning on a tune I didn’t recognize, and eventually morphed into a roaring chart titled “My Friend Metatron”. Instantly blown away, I knew the entire performance was going to contain the highest level of musicianship. It was after this tune that bassist Reid Anderson finally addressed the crowd. Showing a remarkably dry sense of humor throughout the performance, Anderson welcomed us all to the show and made everyone chuckle before the lads brought down the energy with a sensitive cover of “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper.

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As the tune progressed, The Bad Plus continued to expand our understanding of the song by adding dissonant harmonies and convoluting the pulse more and more. Following up the cover came an Ornette Coleman tune entitled “Law Years”. The juxtaposition of these two songs one right after the other perfectly highlighted that, The Bad Plus, are not only musicians that know what the crowd likes to hear, but are also heavy jazz players that love to venture off into the realm of free improvisation as they abandoned tonal center and traditional rhythm. The Ornette Coleman tune found The Bad Plus experimenting with textures and harsh timbres that any free jazz fanatic would have been impressed by. What followed for the next hour came an inspiring mix of both pop and heavy jazz tunes that shifted along the spectrum from the most “out” to the most “in”, inciting cheers and immense applause from the audience countless times.

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Over all, The Bad Plus demonstrated an ability to combine the familiar with the unknown, all the while remaining tasteful. Not a single note or idea was played that the music didn’t call for, which showed that pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer David King poses an immense sense of maturity and trust in each other as musicians. I would recommend seeing The Bad Plus to anyone who is a fan of music and can appreciate witnessing the experience and comfortability of three killin’ musicians who have spent the last 17 years shedding and making music together.

– DJ sneak peaks (Gabe)

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24k Magic: A Pop Star’s Tribute to Funk

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I am not much of a Bruno Mars fan. He is an undeniably talented, versatile artist, and I won’t deny that his pop career has seen huge success. I have just never felt compelled by his music. But in 2014, he surprised me. “Uptown Funk” was unexpectedly groovy, and I couldn’t help getting hooked on its vocal bass line and slick horns. Now, two years later, it’s safe to say that “Uptown Funk” established the retro groundwork for Mars’ newest release, 24k Magic. This album is basically Bruno Mars as a walking throwback, blending pop, funk, and R&B with surprising taste.

Early on, 24k Magic introduces “Chunky”, a synth serenade to “the girls that pay their rent on time”, before changing the pace with “Versace on the Floor”. The latter is a sultry R&B slow-jam that belongs next to a crackling bedroom fireplace sometime in the ‘90s. Mars reincarnates James Brown in “Perm, while “Finesse” oozes with the cocky swagger that brought us “Uptown Funk”.

I would argue that this is his most redeeming album yet, although I likely only hold that opinion because of my soft spot for funk. 24k Magic is a trim, tight project, clocking in at just 33 minutes for 9 tracks. Mars more or less spends the whole time fixated on sex. The result is a mix of fun-sounding songs, but this leaves quite a bit of potential for some more inspired lyrics. I also have yet to be completely won over by his contemporary take on old-school funk, though his attempt is valiant nonetheless. That being said, I expect a handful of these songs to be in my rotation for a little longer. I have high hopes for this new-old direction for Bruno Mars, and I look forward to hearing some more throwbacks from him in the near future.

Watch “Chunky” performed on SNL:

Stream 24k Magic here.

Keep up with Bruno Mars: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Emily Tasaka

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

Donald Glover, I Want to be You (A Review of Childish Gambino’s New Single)

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If I was superstitious, I’d bet money that Donald Glover
sold his soul to the devil. It’s unfair that one man can have so much talent.
Comedic genius, fire rapper, distinct actor, and now the mastermind behind that
beautiful new TV Show Atlanta. Goddamn, man. You’re making everybody else look
bad. I’m so jealous of you, Donald Glover. Why is everything you do amazing?

I’m here today to talk about Childish Gambino’s new song. His
last album, Because the Internet, was
in my top albums of 2013 list. I still bump it. I own it on vinyl. Yo, I don’t
even own a record player. What even is rationality?

This latest single, wittily titled Me and Your Mama, sounds nothing like the last album. Not the least bit surprising. This new single showcases a totally evolved sound, and is more funk than
hip hop. That said, it’s amazing. The angelic crooning on the intro plays as a
wonderful contrast to Childish’s hoarse, desperate singing throughout. The
production is simultaneously smooth and violent. Guitar riffs. It’s Gambino like you’ve never
heard him before.

His new album Awaken,
My Love
is out December 2nd. I, for one, am hyped beyond hyped.

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