Show Review: Jacob Banks heats up Barboza

There was nothing like soul-infused Tuesday night when Jacob Banks hit the stage at Barboza. Watching flashes his fans a stunning white smile, while shyly saying “Hi, I’m from London,” we felt nothing but warmth for the soulful artist as he sang a cover of Corinne Bailey Rae’s infamous “Put Your Records On.”

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Originally from Birmingham, England, the British singer-songwriter first became active in 2012, when he was the first unsigned act to ever appear on BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. Influenced by a multitude of soul, R&B, and hip-hop, Banks first recorded his debut EP The Monologue, released in 2013, with his top hit “Worthy,” a popular play on various stations. A tall, brooding man with a bright smile, Banks reminds us of a combination of Benjamin Clementine, Seal, and Jack Garratt. Soft smooth vocals always seemingly complemented by melodic piano, Jacob Banks is crossing genres often acoustic singer-songwriter ballads, like tracks “Homecoming” and “Hostage” on his EP The Monologue. Yet, the man has range, both vocally and emotionally, demonstrated in “Something Beautiful,” also seen on his EP The Monologue. On his newest EP The Paradox, Banks delves more into soul and R&B, experimenting with melodies in his vocal range, seen in “Home,” and “All Mine.”
Playing fan favorites from his newer EP, Banks succeeded at demonstrating a mix of softer vocals and instrumentals in “Unknown,” while demonstrating a hard, grittier audible aesthetic in “Sink or Swim.” Highlighting the soul aspects of his set list, the British artist catalyzed a complete feeling of union and communal love, as the audience swayed in unison to “Home,” a song similar in feeling to any calmer Stevie Wonder track— a nice complement to the upbeat and diverse sounding track “Monster.”

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Finally ending his set with new single “Unholy War,” the audience vibe completely shifted as we all came together and empathized together with the emotion in Banks’ vocals as he glided on the stage and crooned chorus “Let love lead you home, oh no/ Let redemption keep you warm.” And just as Banks climaxes as he reaches as the height at the bridge taper off, the audience in parallel also drops. We stop, we sway, we close our eyes, and we dance as the rest of the chorus plays out. Jacob Banks has reached a new level of soul, and it’s dipping into funk—and we’re sort of hoping he continue only to reach new heights with his artistic creativity. 

And if we can’t convince you with our words to fall in love with Jacob Banks, just let his music persuade you himself.

-Ariana Rivera

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

Interview with artist Jack Garratt

We’ve been huge fans of electro-soul artist Jack Garratt
since 2014, with the dawn of his EP Remnants.
Now a couple years in, with a full studio album, Phasereleased and his biggest world
tour ongoing, Garatt is coming into his own as an artist. Getting a chance to
chat with him was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.

Growing up in Buckinghamshire, England, Garratt is from no
big city. Yet, it wasn’t the town that influenced that his music, he says, but
his family.

“I’ve never had to be coerced into making music. I was
really lucky and had parents that never pushed any sort of music preference on
me. They would see I would be interested in learning something or in music and
they let me be free in that.  Teaching
and music were always permanently intertwined in my life. My grandfather was an
organist, my uncle was a classically trained pianist, and my mum was a music
teacher. And so when I was started writing, in my living room or whatever, I
was free to do that.”

And Garratt was free to write as much or as little as he
wanted, paying off in his early adolescence. In 2005, he entered the UK
national selection for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, finishing 8/8 for
his first song “The Girl.”

“I remember that song” he says. “It was 10 years ago, but I
do remember it was not a complex or challenging song to write. It was one of my
first songs, you know, but writing it, to me, was something that sort of just
came to me.”

And that discovery period is how Garratt spent the next 10
years writing his own material.

“For a lot of artists,” Garratt says, “They write one song a
day and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that at all. But I don’t work
that way at all. What happens for me is that I’ll be working on a project and I
have to figure out what the music is trying to be—what the songs are. The songs
and the melodies—they already exist, and they’re all already floating around in
my head and some come easier than others. For example, I had ‘The Love You’re
Given,’ which went from just being recorded and written to album ready in 4
days. While with ‘Weathered’ that was a song that took four years of me
figuring out where it was going. Those three parts of Synesthesia—you know, I
had that one song at first, and I just let it set, let it simmer, to years
later have all these melodies still floating around in my head. That’s when I
knew I had to go back to it and create that 3 part series. So with my music,
it’s can be a process of years just to figure out what the music is trying to
tell me it wants from itself.”

And however organic the process may be, it works for Garatt,
winning two BBC awards and a BRIT Critics Choice Award in 2015 and 2016. And
with this debut album studio album separated into two discs, we can easily see
the type of fluidity Garratt has honed within his material. These are not
tracks one can easily write in a day.  Tracks
like “Water” and “Lonesome Valley” incorporate old school blues with modern
technology of synth and electropop—a lot like fellow contemporaries James Blake and James Vincent McMorrow.

And yet, though Garratt is aware of his up and coming fame,
he stays humble.

“I don’t think I’ve blown up that much, but it’s a good
perspective to have for sure. Every day still, I wonder how this is happening
and if it’s real.  It’s good though
because I try to still learn and improve, you know, because at any moment this
could all be wiped away from me. If I don’t learn something very day, and I’ve
not trying to improve in any way, then I’ve wasted my time. I’m not doing my
job. Whether that’s writing music, or exercising, or traveling or eating right,
I try to learn or improve every day.

When asked about latest collaboration with fellow artist,
Gallant, the artist mentions it was an interesting experience.

“I’ve not done a lot of collaborations before. I definitely
have always stuck to myself because you know, I’m the only one that’s going to
know what my music want to say to come across.
I’ve always done it for me, just for myself.  But I definitely would love to collaborate
more in my future.”

 And what’s he doing now? Touring and patiently letting his
music that he’s written already sit in the stores of his memory and mind, so he
knows in the future when to come back to it and fine tune its sound and message
to him.

“That’s how I have to think about it, you know? You have to
treat your music with respect—and with patience, because at the end of the day,
that’s your only job as an artist.”

Hope you check out Garratt’s album Phase and follow his tour, including his September 25th show at the Showbox Seattle.

Ariana Rivera

Jarryd James

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Jarryd James couldn’t possess a cocky ego if it slapped him right in the face.

 Holding a strong, humble, presence in the room, the tall Australian
artist sits will a still calmness about his body. He holds our hands tightly,
asking with an earnestness, “What’s your name, I missed that?”

Eagerly setting in, James is honest and random, as any other
person, laughing and talking about swimming lessons as kids, the summer heat,
and working with troubled kids. This is what pulls him in.

“I was making music for a long time and working with these
kids,” he says. “But then it all went to shit and I just worked for a while. I
had a temper tantrum and just said everything sucks and I don’t want this but
really, it affected me. I was so sad I couldn’t make music anymore, because it was
so impossible to keep making it. And for 2 years, I didn’t make music at all. I
didn’t even listen to the radio.”

James pauses and takes a breath.

“And coming back, I’ve realized how incredibly lucky I am. I
have a lot of friends who are so talented, to be honest, and better than I am.
I’m so fortunate I decided to do this again and that I get to be here and get
to do this.”

Reminiscent of fellow contemporaries, Jack Garratt and James
Vincent McMorrow
, James’ new album, High, swims with melodic vocals and textured
instrumentals.

“There’s an actual bit of me rustling pages of book on one
of tracks and me using an actual nutcracker on another!” James pipes in with a
smile.  With all the texture however,
tracks like “Claim My Love” and “How Do We Make It” echo with emotion, longing,
and nostalgia. The album shines as it varies in tempo and feel, ranging from
more upbeat R&B in tracks like “Sure Love,” to more pop love ballad sounding
tracks like “1000x,” featuring Georgia Nott of BROODS.

As James explains his music career to us, we soon understand
that it’s his underlying emotions that create the works of art he sings. Was
the work with kids influential to his album, we wondered?

“I dealt with a lot of kids who were high school age, and
were very hurt and had dealt with a lot of trauma. So I would say, yeah, it
affected my emotions and my mood. Because, when I’m writing, I go for a mood
rather than a theme. It just what feels like to me. Some people sit down and
say “I want this,” and try to write, and I can’t do this, it would feel forced.
I think in real vague terms, general things. I like to let my subconscious
through. I’m not trying to be innovative. I want my music to be as honest and
pure as possible.”

And we saw Jarryd James own the stage at Neptune Theater in
Seattle, singing soulfully with his eyes closed, we saw his was connected and
disconnected in his own way. He was with the audience yes, but also he was
somewhere else, wherever those underlying feelings lay.

“I needed that two year break not doing music,” he says
softly. “It was a reset, for me to come back to be where I am now.”

Be sure to follow Jarryd James’ tour with BROODS, and
check out his new album, High.

Ariana Rivera

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

Kacy Hill’s new single “Lion” stunning

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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 with Kacy Hill for new music and videos.

Ariana Rivera

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


Breaks and Brits: An Introduction to Jack Garratt

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

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

Let’s talk about Jack Garratt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ariana Rivera