Album (EP) Review “Mind the Gap” by Raleigh Ritchie

Raleigh (like ballet) Ritchie (like Lionel) took fans by surprise when he announced the release of his new EP last November. The EP, Mind the Gap, was released on December 16th, 2016 and it’s devastatingly good. Raleigh Ritchie (real name Jacob Anderson) is newer to the music scene, having only just released his debut album You’re a Man Now, Boy earlier last year. Yet, he’s not an entirely unfamiliar face, fans of Game of Thrones might recognize him as Grey Worm, the leader of the unsullied. This is where I discovered him, looked him up one day because I thought he was cute and google let me know he had a few songs floating around at the time (thanks google). Gave one of his singles, “Bloodsport ’15”, a listen and I was instantly in love. It was fate. I’ve been a fan ever since and I am personally so stoked about the recent release of Mind the Gap which is what we are here to talk about.


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Start listening while you read: click HERE to go to Mind the Gap on soundcloud!


This EP is an organized clusterfuck of self-deprecation and heartbreak mixed with upbeat instrumental and fast paced lyrics, producing a fantastically odd dichotomy of feelings. The album has a sound that feels derived from R&B but somewhere along the lines it picked up heavy pop influences, with a light peppering of the occasional rap or spoken word. It’s not too much of a departure from his debut album (which I HIGHLY recommend you listen to), there’s a lot of similarities between the two pieces. Raleigh even said himself that he felt the EP was more of a bridge between his debut album and the next, rather than a totally independent piece. I won’t quote him on that because it was in a tweet from a few months back that I won’t even bother to search for. He tweets a lot. (One time, he favorited my tweet – but that’s a story for another time).

Something I love about the sound of this album is the deeper electronic feel with the background vocals. You’re a Man Now, Boy was very flowly and floaty in the background vocals – almost choir-like. Almost fantastical. Whereas Mind the Gap is mostly background vocals that are tuned bytes of Ritchie singing drawn out “ahs” or “ohs” (excuse my inability to quantify music). The subtle electronic qualities are pretty much thrown in your face in the first track off the album Motions, which begins with a brief audio of a Robot fight/break-up. We hear two Siri-esque voices argue about how they feel about each other, resulting in the end of their robot relationship. This persists through the song with brief one liners from either robot voice. It’s pretty rad, if I do say so myself.

Mind the Gap totals 5 songs: “Motions”, “Sicko”, “Liability”, “StraitJacket”, and “Unicron Love” (don’t ask me why its spelled like that – I have no idea). Each song is unique, but they all flow very well together. My favorite example of this is the transition between “Motions” and “Sicko”; “Motions” ends with the Male robot saying “I love you”, only to have the female reply “I know, but you are sick” – and then sicko immediately begins with “Maybe I’m just sick”. Hell yeah. Well, I mean, that’s pretty sad and heartbreaking lyrically, but 10/10 transition. Speaking of lyrics, Ritchie gives the listener a lot to think about as far as sanity and heartbreak go. “Motions” and “Unicron Love” both focus on two different sides of a relationship. Since we know that Motions isn’t the brightest view on love, we can probably guess how “Unicron Love” portrays it.

“Sicko”, “Liability”, and “StraitJacket” all focus more on an introspective view. “Sicko” plays off “Motions” and outlines the chaos of a mind trying to diagnose an internal sickness. There’s a lot of self-doubt and confusion present in the lyrics of this song, ending in the simple conclusion of “Maybe I’m just sick”. Liability is all about feeling bad for yourself. The musical composition of this song is diverse and beautiful, it ranges from flowy and floaty (both technical terms) to harsh and brittle (if that’s a word people use for describing music). The song feels like it’s been written out of a place of anger and defeat, it screams “why me?!”. I’m a sucker for this song, self-pity, now that’s something I can rock to. The song ends with a beautiful, whispered, “oh, fuck off” directly at his own thoughts.

Now, we arrive at “StraitJacket”, my favorite track off the album – this one is just an Ode to Mania, a sweet sweet embrace of the craziness that is our mind. It’s a fast paced, rollercoaster of a song, and there are no seatbelts. Every time you think you’ve reached the climax (not sexual) of the song, you find yourself surprised by even more faced paced energy. At the real, destructive, climax (might be a little sexual) of this song you can practically feel Ritchie screaming in your face. It also showcases one of the best things about Ritchie’s music; his sexy voice and crazy good spoken word influenced rap style. The song ends with a jarringly slow verse of spoken word that asks the listener if any of us (especially Ritchie) are sane; “Fight amongst the foot soldiers, but the war is in my mind”. Not only is the song super fucking cool, there’s a super fucking cool music video that accompanies it. Check it below, it really adds to the song and shows what Ritchie is trying to say with it (basically, that he’s just crazy).

This EP is phenomenal, and you bet I’ll be listening to it pretty much once a day. The title of the EP (Mind the Gap, if you somehow forgot) is really validated by the content of the songs. It’s about watching out for the mental leap in logic from sanity to insanity, it’s fitting for how much attention the tracks give to being not-so-sane.  Raleigh Ritchie is an amazing and talented new artist that deserves a lot more attention than he gets. On the plus side, he’s so unknown that he’ll favorite/retweet your tweets if you tweet at him. But seriously, check him out, between the amazing album art, magically sexy vocals, and make-you-think lyrics there’s nothing not to love. Make sure to check out not only the Mind the Gap EP, but also his debut album You’re a Man Now, Boy! Thanks for reading, I’ll see you back here next week for the rediscovery of Sir Sly

Zach Krieger

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New Music Update: Pop Punkers Aim to Strike Gold

New music output is a fickle thing.  There’s new music being released all over the world all the time, even now; however, sometimes there seems to a be a huge burst or lull in output.  One of the most reliable of these boom/bust cycles is the early fall rise, and the subsequent December-January comedown.  Artists release music in the early fall, anticipating an end-of-year list bump in sales or a possible Grammy nod, and then the music world generally calms down for a while, recharging itself.  

The first month of 2016 saw a decent crop, however: Rihanna’s ANTI, Anderson .Paak’s Malibu, and of course Blackstar all came out in the year’s first month.  This year is yet very young, and yet we’ve already had some very high-profile releases in the indie world.  The returns of The xx, The Flaming Lips, Run the Jewels, and even Dropkick Murphys have set 2017 off with a plethora of new tunes to try and wrap our brains around.  And in the upcoming weeks, we’ll see a flood of new albums to sink our teeth into, seemingly from every genre under the sun.  It’s a good time to be a music fan.

Some of the biggest names in music appear poised to release new projects this year, many of them under the ever-widening umbrella of the “indie” scene: Arcade Fire, Spoon, and The Shins have announced albums, and released accompanying singles as well.  Tool have been hinting at something for a while (a long, long while) while.  The Orwells have a new single.  King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is putting out another goddamn album.  Gorillaz are coming back!  And in the near future, some very exciting releases should be expected.  Here’s a few of my most anticipated:

Cherry Glazerr, Apocalipstick: Los Angeles-based weirdo rockers Cherry Glazerr haven’t released a full album in just over three years, and they seem hellbent on following up their debut record, 2014′s Haxel Princess, with something huge.  Collaborating with some big-name producers (Joe Chiccarelli of The Strokes’ Angles and Carlos de la Garza of M83’s Junk), the band is looking to expand their sound and audience on Apocalipstick.  Preceding singles include the riffy, groovy “Told You I’d Be With the Guys”, which promises a rock record that could be among the year’s best.  Apocalipstick is out January 20 on Secretly Canadian.

Cloud Nothings, Life Without Sound: Cloud Nothings have a lot to live up to with this project.  The band rode the swell of support for 2012’s Attack on Memory and 2014’s Here and Nowhere Else through the departure of lead guitarist Joe Boyer, a collaborative album with Wavves, and a grueling tour schedule.  But now they have to follow up two of the best lo-fi punk records of the decade, and we hope they can follow through on the promise of their two preceding records.  Though lead single “Modern Act” disappointed me a little bit, follow-up “Internal World” brought much more to the table.  This album, according to frontman Dylan Baldi, is supposed to be a bit more vocally interesting and less dark than Here and Nowhere Else, and I’m optimistic about where this focus will take the band.  Life Without Sound is out on January 27 on Carpark Records.

Japandroids, Near to the Wild Heart of Life: Japandroids have been putting out some of the most life-affirming, shout-along music in recent memory, which really makes you wonder: can there really only be two of them?  The guitar-and-drums duo get such huge sound out of their instruments that it seems hard to believe.  Their most recent release was 2013’s Celebration Rock, a critically acclaimed release that included standout track “The House that Heaven Built”, and since then the black-clad rockers have undoubtedly been looking for a way to adequately follow up a triumph like that.  Near to the Wild Heart of Life has to be damn good.  The album’s first single is the title track, which comes out of nowhere, hitting you with a thick wall of drums and pure energy.  It bodes well for a band whose MO has always been: “Hit ‘em fast, hit ‘em hard.”  Near to the Wild Heart of Life is out on January 27 on ANTI-.

The Menzingers, After the Party: The Menzingers are a band that remind me of the do-or-die emotion of high school, and that’s not just because I got a little too into them in my sophomore year.  The Philadelphia-based quartet can be counted on for some killer hooks and some incredibly interesting lyrics to boot.  2012’s On the Impossible Past is, in my very humble opinion, completely flawless; it’s a masterwork the whole way through, an emotional call to a time that we’ve either forgotten or never had in the first place.  2014’s Rented World was a bit more flawed, but it had some notable standouts: opener “I Don’t Want to be an Asshole Anymore”, for all its long-windedness, is one of the best things they’ve ever done, and follow-up “Bad Things” is hardly a slouch.  Their latest record is preceded by singles that range from decent (“Bad Catholics”) to exceptional (“Lookers”), and I look forward to hearing singers Greg Barnett and Tom May bleeding their hearts out all over the damn thing.  After the Party is out February 3 on Epitaph.

Dirty Projectors, Dirty Projectors: Ah, Dirty Projectors.  The perfect bridge between Arcade Fire’s accessible anthems to Animal Collective’s unrelenting madness, this band has always occupied a weird place in the indie world: they’re not the weirdos AnCo are, but they’re not exactly a band to show your friend whose closest brush with the indie scene was when he accidentally walked by Sufjan Stevens’ set at Coachella this year.  They’ve always been really good, but never have they fully scraped their way into mainstream consciousness.  The closest they’ve come was 2012’s Swing Lo Magellan, an album that shivers and shakes but never falls down, and their new self-titled release hopes to deliver further on the promise of that record.  If this record has anything near half as good as “About to Die” on it, you can catch me listening to it day and night.  Dirty Projectors is out February 24 on Domino Records.

-John Morse

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Artist Profile: And The Kids

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Back in March, I decided to accompany my friends to the Ra Ra Riot show at Neumos on a whim. Arriving after 9, I expected the opening acts to be finishing up their sets, but the first band, And The Kids, was just taking the stage. Normally, I’d honestly be a little pissed that a concert would be going so much later than I expected on a school night. This time was different. I’d never been to a show where I ended up liking the opener more than the headliner until that night, when I experienced the girl-power rock majesty that is And the Kids. 

Hailing from Northampton, Mass., the trio consists of singer and guitarist Hannah Mohan, drummer Becca Lasaponaro, and bassist Taliana Katz. The three members combine their talents to form upbeat, catchy, riffy rock jams with just the right amount of pop. Their debut album, Turn To Each Other, released last year, is packed with one catchy song after the next. Mohan’s vocals, ranging from deep and heavy to light and breathy while always staying packed with some great folk-y vibrato, frequently intertwine with countermelodies in songs like “Cats Were Born” and “All Day All Night” to produce layered and interesting tracks that are sing-alongable in more ways than one. A spot on Ra Ra Riot’s tour, opening alongside PWR BTTM, as well as an NPR Tiny Desk session, put the group on the map. They’re also embarking on a small tour with Vundabar (unfortunately, Seattle isn’t on the list of stops).

The group is gearing up to release their second studio album, Friends Share Lovers (which drops early June), performing some of the new songs on tour and, more recently, at their new Audiotree Live Session:

The band’s new material definitely seems to building on its strengths of writing great riffs and interlocking melodies (especially in “I Can’t Tell What the Time is Telling Me” and new single “Friends Share Lovers”). The group also does a great job of transferring the energy of their music to the stage (with a little help from an inflatable deer…you’ll see what I mean if you ever have the pleasure of going to a show).

If one thing’s for sure, it’s that you’ll have at least some of And The Kids’s material stuck in your head all day after you listen to a few songs. The band’s perfect combination of catchy lyrics, danceability, and just the right amount of shred shot them right to the top of my long list of current favorite artists. Also, who doesn’t need more all-girl rock in their life? No one. Bottom line: just check ‘em out. You owe it to yourself.

For fans of: Chastity Belt, Tacocat, Cherry Glazerr

Notable Tracks: “Secret Makeout Factory”, “Wiser”, “Cats Were Born”, “I Can’t Tell What the Time is Telling Me”

Bandcamp // Twitter // Instagram

-Ann Evans

Festival Foreshadowing: Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival

In the minds of a  festival-goer, January and February could be considered “messenger months”–8 weeks filled with announcements and leaks detailing the lineups, dates, and ticket information of the year’s upcoming music festivals. Mainstay festivals such as Coachella and Bonnaroo have already released their featured artists, while other festivals such as Washington’s own Sasquatch or Chicago’s Pitchfork have followed suit. One up-and-coming festival, the Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival, is spreading its secrets to its fans in an unusual way.

The Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival had its inaugural session last summer in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Organized and orchestrated by Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner, songwriter and guitar player for The National, the festival was a huge success. Featuring headlining acts by Bon Iver (in their first show in over three years), The National, Sufjan Stevens, and Spoon, the festival was attended by over 22,000 people, and was well received by critics.

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I was fortunate enough to attend the inaugural festival, and it stands as my top experience of 2015. Standout sets included the chillingly beautiful harmonies performed under sweltering heat by English trio The Staves, a heart-pounding act by Sylvan Esso, and a wonderfully balanced set at dusk by Sufjan Stevens. Bon Iver’s festival-closing performance will hold dearest to my heart, though, as  it was the culmination of a long wait to see my favorite band perform live.

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Besides the sublime individual performances that occurred over the two-day event, the biggest takeaway from the experience was the overall vibe of the festival. Eaux Claires featured a large attendance and high-profile artists, yet had an intimacy and solely-for-the-music energy usually only found in small, local festivals. The commercialism evident in huge festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza was nonexistent at Vernon and Dessner’s creation.

This focus on intimacy has carried over into preparation for 2016′s Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival. As an attendee of last year’s festival, I was eligible for their Early Bird ticket special back in October, and was able to purchase tickets. A few days ago, I, along with other Early Bird purchasers, was sent a package from festival organizers. The package included an old-school tape, aptly titled “DEUX”. An accompanying letter describes it as “a mixtape with b-sides, demos, home recordings, and spontaneous contributions from some of the artists featured in the year two lineup”.

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The mixtape provides clues on a number of artists who may perform this year, most notably being a track titled “Untitled 2″ by Fall Creek Boys Choir, alluding to the collaboration between Justin Vernon and English electronic singer-songwriter James Blake. An old b-side by Bon Iver titled “Haven, Mass” also appears on the mixtape, suggesting Bon Iver may reclaim the stage. Other songs link Aaron Dessner and his brother Bryce Dessner, Bruce Hornsby, Phil Cook, Jon Hopkins, and Nathaniel Rateliff to the festival. Arcade Fire members Richard Reed Perry and Sarah Neufeld are also featured on the mixtape, possibly suggesting a headlining spot for the acclaimed band. A skit-like track titled “Good Music” teases a connection with Kanye West, founder of record label GOOD Music, Inc. Last year, a hopeful minority of attendees hoped that Kanye would make a surprise appearance at Eaux Claires. Justin Vernon has collaborated with the rapper on his last three projects, and while the idea of Kanye traveling to a small Wisconsin city to perform remains improbable, the connection seems to be not fully coincidental.

These performance mysteries will become clear soon, as the full lineup is set to be released on Thursday, February 11th. Regardless of how significantly the mixtape will end up previewing this year’s acts, the idea demonstrates the uniqueness of this growing festival. What kind of festival announcement is more exciting than one that includes two hours of exclusive music?

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Ellis Mayne


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Album Review: St. Lucia – Matter

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If you’re a firm believer in the idea that less is more, then you probably should avert your ears from St. Lucia’s sophomore LP, Matter. If you love 80s-inspired synthpop that’s extra-synthy, extra-poppy, and extra-excited, you should keep reading.

Jean-Philip Grobler, the man behind the music, had few reservations in creating his newest production, which is his first release in over two years. The album, a follow-up to 2013′s When the Night, contains not only the same retro-shimmery sound that put St. Lucia on the map (bad geography pun, anyone?) in the first place, but somehow adds even more hyped-up, repetitive choruses, sometimes to the point of excess.

This album is a monster. It’s 11 tracks and 53 minutes of non-stop dance/power ballads, giving H&M stores a lot of new material to play over their speaker systems for years to come. It opens with “Do You Remember”, a tune with a similar sounding backing track to “Elevate”, the lead single from the first album (but hey, that’s the St. Lucia sound you came for, right?). The song is pretty catchy, and is probably one of the less “retro” sounding tracks on the album. For a minute, I actually thought I was listening to a new Bleachers or CHVRCHES single. “Dancing On Glass”, the album’s first single, is a huge favorite of mine, and was one of my top tracks during October. It’s catchy, it’s fun, and it still feels innovative and new, all things that remind us why this album was so highly anticipated. “The Winds of Change” is also pretty good, which is due to fun vocal hooks and choruses.

This balance of indie-pop and dance is where the album (and band) shine, but, as the album moves on, we see how Grobler moves away from this, walking a dangerous line between modern edginess and straight-up overproduction. This is apparent in “Rescue Me”, which appears to be a six-and-a-half minute long mashup(?) of just about every artist to ever play on a soundtrack to a John Hughes movie, “Thriller”, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” (now I’m getting all excited thinking about Zoolander 2, dammit). By this point, the album is already starting to sound repetitive and tiring, and we’re only at track 8. 

During the last few tracks of the album, Matter really loses its momentum. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I don’t like the album, but I feel like there is a large proportion of weak tracks. This is amplified when the album is almost an hour long. However, I definitely have a few of the songs added to my playlists and listen to them frequently. One way that the sometimes excessive production might work is that it could translate really well to live shows (and St. Lucia will be at the Showbox in Seattle on March 2!)

So if you need a pick-me-up on a drab day, love synthpop, or still can’t let go of the fact that you were born too late to live in the 80s, don’t hesitate to give Matter a listen, and see what you think. 

Listen Here

Rating: 5/10

Notable Tracks: “Dancing On Glass”, “Do You Remember”, “Winds of Change”

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Ann Evans



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