I can’t stop listening to Connect the Dots, the brand new studio album released by MisterWives on May 19, 2017. The band brought their irresistibly fun energy and eclectic mix of instruments (including saxophone by Mike Murphy) to the 11 track album.
The album starts off with a danceable hit “Machine” that includes blaring saxophone and shows off lead singer Mandy Lee’s unique vocals. The album has a hopeful, uplifting feeling embodied by the sounds of “Chasing This” and “Drummer Boy” (a personal sweet favorite). It slows down with “My Brother” and takes a breath with the raucous song “Out of Tune Piano” before “Coloring Outside the Lines” delivers with a lovely tune and powerful vocals. Misterwives released the song “Coloring Outside the Lines” as a single ahead of the album on May 12th.
This is only the second studio album from MisterWives, and the band has already gathered an impressive following after opening for bands like Panic! At the Disco, Twenty One Pilots, and Bleachers on tours. Their first full album, Our Own House, was released in January 2015. I had the pleasure of seeing them live when they toured with Panic! on the Death of a Bachelor tour, and they were a force of nature on the stage. If you ever get the chance to see them live, I would recommend it wholeheartedly. Mandy Lee is a tiny whirlwind on stage, and the whole band has a spirited energy that makes them very fun to watch perform.
Keep up with the band on Twitter and look for them on tour in the fall!
Denzel Curry’s music has yet to reach the masses. His aggressive style has helped him find a niche in the rap community, and with “Hate Government [demo]” he continues to embrace it. Possibly taking production notes from Kendrick Lamar (think second half of “DNA.”, when the beat switches), Curry spits over booming bass about his distaste for the government. His flow fits perfectly with the beat, but the track ends far too early at just under two minutes. Hopefully this serves as a teaser for Curry’s next album, Taboo, because it sure builds the hype for his forthcoming project. Listen to “Hate Government [demo]” here and stay tuned to Rainy Dawg Radio for future Denzel Curry news.
This Tuesday, May 16, Gabriel Garzon-Montano is performing at The Crocodile in Belltown. Gabriel Garzon-Montano’s Jardin, released early this year, intricately melds together notes of soul, pop, hip-hop, and funk, ultimately creating a vibrant sound owned solely by him. Hailing originally from Brooklyn, Garzon-Montano’s interest in music was sparked in childhood by his mother, a musician in the Philip Glass Ensemble during the ‘90s. Though most commonly recognized as the creator of the sample featured in Drake’s Jungle (check out his original Six Eight), Garzon-Montano is so much more than that. Weaving together bright funk notes and unlikely time signatures, Garzon-Montano’s Jardin is a powerful collection of music that insights both introspection and pure dancing fun and will undoubtedly be a memorable experience live.
Easy going Mac Demarco has dropped his fourth album, This Old Dog. This follows his 2015 album Another One and shows his continued growth as an artist. Demarco is known for his laid-back demeanor, wanting to interact with fans directly, whether through his Official Fan Club or at shows. He’s given out his New York home address on the final track of Another One offering his fans a cup of coffee if they stop by. Since this, he moved to California at an undisclosed address and started working on his newest release. If you’re unfamiliar, you can get a better sense of his attitude through his music videos or social media posts.
This Old Dog doesn’t deviate much from Demarco’s easy, breezy sound found in his previous two albums, but displays a level of growth in songwriting and production. His lyrics are less cluttered than before and grapple with much more complex and adult themes, the largest being Demarco’s relationship with a largely absent father. He laments that he’s turning into his father on the first track “My Old Man”, closing the album with “Watching Him Fade Away” where Demarco says of his father’s illness: “the thought of him no longer being around/ well sure it would be sad but not really different”. It’s heart wrenching to hear about losing something that was never quite there and a stark contrast to previous songs such as “Ode to Viceroy”, an ode to Demarco’s favorite cigarettes.
Maybe it’s his shift towards these more adult themes that makes this album feel different from the previous ones. The sound hasn’t changed that much, although Demarco’s favored an acoustic guitar heavily this time around. This album also sounds more polished, more studio produced than previous demo-like moments from Salad Days or 2. He’s still the laid-back singer-songwriter but his sound is starting to explore a selection of other genres and influences. “A Wolf Who Wears Sheeps Clothes” feels folky with a harmonica and acoustic guitar while “One More Love Song” immediately after is funkier with heavier bass. However, he manages to do all of this and still sound like Mac Demarco.
This album makes for easy listening in true Demarco fashion. While it personally isn’t my favorite work from him, it still has great moments and is still a strong album.
Stream This Old Doghere and catch Demarco at The Moore Theatre September 10th or 11th.
Best Tracks: “My Old Man”, “Still Beating”, “One More Love Song”
COINreleased a whole new studio album, and it is exactly what I was waiting for. The new album, titled How Will You Know If You Never Try, was released April 21, 2017 and is COIN’s second full studio album. It includes the single “Talk Too Much”, which was released in 2016. Personally, I’ve been waiting for new music from COIN ever since they released “Talk Too Much”, the hit banger that brings a party with it’s awesome dance-worthy beat and melody. As soon as I heard “Don’t Cry, 2020”, the first song off the new album, I knew it was going to be just as entertaining as “Talk Too Much” promised.
The album flew by the first time I listened to it. Not every song on it is a hit, but a couple definitely stand out. “Boyfriend” includes funny elements of back and forth dialogue and features big drums and an upbeat tempo. “Lately II” starts slow, does an interesting pickup halfway through the song, and basically sounds like two different songs fit under one title. I was feeling the beat from “Feeling” and “I Don’t Wanna Dance”, which brought the cool guy vibes of “Talk Too Much” back to the album. As a bonus, I got Neon Trees vibes from the whole album, which I was definitely grooving with.
The chill, sweet tones of “Malibu 1992” was a good finish for the album, and I appreciated the nostalgic mood it set for the second listen through. COIN gained some popularity with the 2015 single “Run” from their first full album, self titled COIN. The new album capitalizes on this success and delivers with a few danceable jams and a solid overall album. COIN’s new music is worth a listen, so check them out.
Foster The People have released three new singles from their upcoming full length studio album, and if these songs are any indication of what the rest of the album is like, I am extremely ready for it. The singles, collected in an EP called III, were released on April 27th, 2017. The band also announced a tour this summer to support the new album (sadly, they have not announced any Seattle dates). The EP includes the songs “Pay the Man”, “Doing it for the Money”, and “SHC”.
The three singles are reminiscent of their 2014 album, Supermodel, and have the same bursting energy and moving beats. Foster The People are still best known for their 2011 debut album, Torches, which won them a large fan base and a critical following due to the popularity of the singles “Pumped Up Kicks” and “Helena Beat”.
The riff in “SHC” reminded me of a sped up “Montanita” (Ratatat), and the distorted sound of all three singles had definite similarities to Tame Impala’s synthesized sound. “Pay the Man” included the interesting talking-rap elements that are drawn on in songs like “The Truth” and “Are You What You Want to Be?” (from Supermodel). “Doing It for the Money” had a much more youthful feel to it, and I liked this song the best of the three on the EP. The song seems to reject the notion that in order to be successful, an artist has to sell out. Instead, it speaks to fighting time and focusing on living in the present, and of the three singles has the most danceable beat.
The band is facing some criticism due to the similarities between the III EP cover and the album cover of Low Teens by Every Time I Die. The similarities are hard to deny; the two pieces of cover art are nearly identical in colors, placement, and font style. Every Time I Die commented on the EP art on twitter, but no action has been taken against Foster The People as of now. See the cover of Low Teenshere.
Keep an eye out for the new full length album, which is rumored to be called Sacred Hearts Club, and is set to be released June or July 2017. It’s going to be good.
On Monday afternoon, Sampha held an in-studio performance at KEXP prior to his concert with The xx that night. The performance was free, so I felt it was the best possible excuse to avoid studying. About fifty of us were crammed into a dark room, separated from the studio by a wide window. Inside the studio a piano sat in the middle of the room, surrounded by technicians and cameras. We were told there was no talking or use of cell phones, so that Sampha would be the only sound heard on the radio. Minutes later, Sampha graced us with his presence, taking little time to introduce himself. Though he only performed four songs, each one was astounding to watch performed. Sampha brought no band members along with him; it was only him and a piano. Looking back on it that was the best choice he could’ve made, because it directed attention towards his voice alone. His voice sounded identical to the tracks on Process, only with more emotion and intensity in his tone. This made the tracks he performed- “Plastic 100ºC”, “Incomplete Kisses”, and “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”-sound much more emotional than I had previously heard. His demeanor was surprisingly down to earth as well; in between songs he answered a few questions, and he was quite humble despite the praise he received from KEXP’s host and the audience. Despite a short performance, Sampha was well worth seeing and I look forward to seeing a full performance in the future. Sampha’s performance should be on KEXP’s YouTube channel soon, which you can visit here. Until then please enjoy the above potato quality picture of Sampha I took following his performance.
Last week’s battle of the bands brought four groups head-to-head for a chance to perform at Rainy Dawg Radio’s 14th annual Birthday Fest. Don, a future bounce group, came out on top and opened for Kero Kero Bonito on Tuesday.
The band includes lead vocalist Stefán Kubeja, bass player and vocalist Phinehas Nyang’Oro, drummer Bobby Jimmi, synth player Daniel Salka, and keyboardist Ori Levari. Stefán, Daniel, and Ori are all UW students.
I interviewed Don before the show on Tuesday about how they got started, how their jazz backgrounds influence their current work, and what’s next. Some responses have been shortened for clarity.
How did you get started?
Stefán: Originally it was just Daniel and me. We used to just play music together. Then we went through a big series of lineup changes until we met Phinehas. Phinehas stuck with us, and Phinehas introduced us to Bobby Jimmi, because they knew each other from playing in jams. We played a gig, and we felt like it worked, so we just stuck together. Ori was actually a replacement because Daniel couldn’t make Battle of the Bands, so we called him. And now he’s officially in the band. This is his second gig with us.
How did it feel to play your first show with Don at the Birthday Battle?
Ori: It was great. It was fun. I’ve always wanted to play this kind of music, and it’s cool to have that opportunity. I play a lot of jazz, which is fun in its own right, but hip-hop is pretty cool.
Stefán: Everyone has a jazz background except for me and Bobby Jimmi. So we take a lot of influence from the Seattle jazz scene.
What was it like switching from jazz to this style of music?
Ori: It’s cool to have jazz influences in my playing, at least for this group. I think it lends itself really well to having jazz influences. But I see them as being pretty similar, to be honest. It didn’t seem like a very big jump.
Phinehas: I’m from North Carolina, so I was already doing stuff like this in high school. I moved to France, so they weren’t doing this type of hip hop. I’m just happy to be in Seattle, where they’re giving me a little bit of what I used to do back home.
How did it feel to win Birthday Battle?
Stefán: It was cool. Everyone was sitting there, and we were all watching the numbers go up. Phinehas was like, ‘Yes!’ when we got a vote, and then when we got passed, he was like, ‘No!’ They ended up having people vote on the way out, so by the time we got informed that we won, it was just us and the people running the event. So we got to have our own little celebration. We’re psyched.
What are you looking forward to about tonight?
Stefán: I think there are a lot of people who saw us perform at the battle and are excited to see us tonight. I’m excited to have some fun and perform in front of the people who really like us.
Phinehas: I just want to be thankful for being able to play this music in front of an audience. I hope that I can give them something of satisfaction.
Bobby Jimmi: I get my energy from the crowd. If they’re dead, I’m going to be dead.
Ori: I’m just excited to play for a full house. It should have good energy.
How do you balance being a UW student and being in a band?
Stefán: People say it’s hard, but it’s not really that hard. I can speak for all of us when I say that, beyond school, what we do is music. We just make time for it. Maybe we don’t go to parties or we don’t chill with frats. Instead, we’re doing music. I don’t find it to be that difficult. I find it to be kind of natural. It’s like work and play.
What’s next for you guys?
Stefán: We’re in the studio right now, recording our debut, which is coming out June 1. We hope to do a West Coast tour come August. Beyond that, who knows. After this show, just having more fun, doing everything we can. Being grateful, being thankful. Sharing energy, receiving energy.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock since 2010, you may have a decent idea of who Kendrick Lamar is. Since his official label debut good kid, m.A.A.d city, Lamar has earned himself worldwide appeal as both a popular and conscious rapper. Now, two years since his genre-shattering To Pimp A Butterfly, Lamar has returned to the spotlight with DAMN., a record dense with personal reflection and exemplary production that once again establishes him as one of the all-time greats.
“So I was taking a walk the other day…” Kendrick starts DAMN. off with a short narrative in which he describes his own death. It seems that the remainder of the album revolves around Lamar contemplating his own life, considering if his life would have been worthy of living had he actually died. The album even reverses on “DUCKWORTH.”, the final track, and returns to where DAMN. started off. The song titles cut no corners; each previews the song’s subject matter. “HUMBLE.”, for example, delicately balances on Lamar’s own bravado and the constant reminder to “sit down” and “be humble.” Other tracks cut deeper. “FEAR.” outlines Lamar’s fears, including death’s unpredictability and of losing the fame and wealth he’s earned. The mood throughout the album sways between vulnerable and confident; it’s a blend of what made both To Pimp A Butterfly and good kid, m.A.A.d city unique. Despite relying on similar tones, Lamar delves into new topics and makes DAMN. feel just as unique as his previous two works.
Unlike To Pimp A Butterfly, DAMN. features a departure from jazz rap, rather fusing pop, electronic, alternative, and trap music into a refreshing sound that caters to Lamar’s versatility. The production credits are indicative of such; to name a few, James Blake, 9th Wonder, James Blake, Steve Lacy, and BADBADNOTGOOD all lend their production talents on DAMN. Each song is an otherworldly experience on its own, yet listened to side by side reveal the narrative of Lamar’s latest work. “XXX.” features perhaps the wildest beat switch (one of many) on the album, exploding from a dark, bass-driven beat into a flurry of sirens. Other highlights include “LUST.”, a song empowered by a delayed entry of the drums, and “PRIDE.”, whose guitar chords slow the pace to a melodic crawl.
To Pimp A Butterfly took some time to grow on me when I first heard it. I was initially disappointed because I was hoping to hear more tracks reminiscent of good kid, m.A.A.d city, but instead what I got was vastly opposite. Once I had come around to it, however, I learned that artists aren’t supposed to rely on formulaic music to become successful. Real artists grow and change; they learn and evolve to create new, exceptional music that keeps them one step ahead of the competition. Lamar’s competition, Drake, has fallen victim to this and chosen to stick to what works rather than take risks and mature as an artist. Lamar, on the other hand, continues to grow and surprise his fans, with each new album being more unprecedented than the last. DAMN. is a shining example of such. An album inspired by Lamar’s own life and attitude, it stands alone as a masterpiece and singular experience. Lamar continues to solidify his placement upon the Mount Rushmore of rap, and he will most certainly surprise us all with whatever he has planned next. Listen to DAMN.here.
True crime podcast Serial launched into wild popularity during its 2014 debut. Co-created by Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder, the show is cited for groundbreaking work in long-form investigative journalism. Its first story, explored throughout the entire season, follows a 15-year-old murder case. Teenager Adnan Syed was convicted of strangling his ex-girlfriend in 1999, but he maintains his innocence to this day. The uncertainty was riveting. Koenig, the host, revealed new information each week as she uncovered it. At the release of its first episode, no one, not even Koenig, knew how Serial would end. Listeners couldn’t help but speculate. Did Adnan really do it? Where was he in those 21 minutes after school? What about the mystery of the Best Buy phone booth? Who lied, and why?
With all these questions floating around, I was unbelievably excited to attend Serial’s live show at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday. I wish I had pictures for you all to see, but unfortunately photography is not allowed inside. The building is absolutely stunning, though. It has these wonderful high ceilings and ornate decorations and big, warm lights that make it feel like an old theater from a different time. I would highly recommend on venue alone! But back to Serial.
I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that Serial changed the game for podcasting, journalism, and audio entertainment. Its creators were in Seattle to discuss how they made it happen. Before the show started, the screen displayed a rotating collage of scanned documents, drawings, and notes from Adnan’s case. It was strange to see these pages — lines of scrawled handwriting, sometimes blacked out in places — after only hearing them described out loud. It was certainly an effective reminder that true crime journalism is just that: true stories that affect real people.
Koenig and Snyder made their entrance to enthusiastic applause. It brought the show to life in a completely different way, as Koenig’s already-familiar voice filled the room. The two graciously introduced themselves. They still couldn’t believe how many people came out to see them. (After all, their initial goal for the podcast had been to reach 300,000 people. To date, Serial has had 264 million downloads!) Side by side, Koenig standing and Snyder perched a stool, they began to tell the story of Serial itself. Beginning with their early hopes for the podcast, they explained how it came to be the show we know today. They talked about the development process and how they overcame the challenges that appeared along the way. This included one story about a hilarious Facebook mishap some time ago. Koenig also detailed the nature of her relationship with Adnan — calculated but personal, not quite friends but not strictly business either.
Throughout this first part of the show, it was pretty hard not to be won over by these two ladies. The pair were surprisingly funny in an honest, matter-of-fact way. Judging from the laughter I heard around me, the rest of the crowd felt the same. Koenig and Snyder also acknowledged deficits in their investigation of Adnan’s case. They seemed to invite transparency about the deliberateness of their storytelling. Although that should be a given in journalism, it was still incredibly cool to hear the thoughts of the people behind Serial. The whole thing actually felt quite intimate. Koenig called this first part of the show a “speech”, but it was much more conversational than that and more like her comfortable narration on each episode.
The second half of the show was reserved for questions. Audience members lined up at microphones placed on each end of the main floor and balcony. People raised questions about various facts of Adnan’s case. Some asked about Serial’s second season, which aired last year. Others asked about the journalism itself. The number one takeaway? Fact check, fact check, fact check. Fact check everything.
In both halves of the show, Koenig and Snyder made excellent use of episode clips, pictures, and unaired interview tapes to illustrate the creation process. We even got to see a photo of hand puppets some middle schoolers had crafted to represent each character on season two. It was adorable in a kind of unsettling way.
Overall, it was a super rad night. I laughed a lot, learned a lot, and gained even more appreciation for all the work that goes into making a top-notch podcast. If there are any hardcore Serial fans who were unable to make it, I would highly recommend seeing them next time they make it out to Seattle.