Tag Archives: rainy dawg

Ben Rector : Neptune Theater sells out

When we were offered the opportunity to cover a Ben Rector
show, we couldn’t pass up the chance. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the 29 year-old
musician began playing piano at a young age, picking up guitar additionally
later in high school. After becoming the youngest person to win a pop award
Grand Prize of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest due to a self-titled EP in
2006, Rector knew he had a shot. After playing 200 shows and releasing two
full-length albums during his college career, Rector made the transition to Nashville
to give his career the full effort.

And it’s worked: releasing three more albums after that,
Rector has recently topped Billboard 200 charts and has sold out shows across
the country.

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But what makes Ben Rector so likeable and so popular? His
music stylistically is simplistic and predictable with expected catchy tunes
and lyrics we can all relate to. And within the last 10 years Rector has been
in the industry, he hasn’t made waves of unique change among the pop
singer-songwriter genre. With a pretty standard voice that can sometimes reach
heights in his range (in tracks like “Paris” on the most recent Brand New album), Rector is a
boy-next-door sort of artist.

What makes him memorable, however, seems to be just that. His
ability to combine American folk rock, jazzy soul, and piano pop into one
feel-good pie of feelings for the heart is exactly
what makes Rector top the charts. Versatile in terms of range and skills, the
Tennessee-based musician is able to switch easily from catchy pop tunes with
echo-ey vocals, like popular song “Let the Good Times Roll,” to more heart felt
ballads, like new track “The Men Who Drive Me Places.”  

And his versatility and heart shows. When Ben Rector steps onto
the stage at a sold out Neptune Theatre,
the crowd roars. When we looked around the famous Seattle venue, we couldn’t
believe our eyes to see a completely jam packed theatre, with each crowd member
joyously grinning from ear to ear at the sight of the Nashville artist.

Beginning the show on the piano, the indie pop singer-songwriter
plays renown track, ”Brand New,” a piano pump-up song that hypes up the entire audience.
Throughout the entire show, Rector switches back and forth between guitar and
piano, moving around the stage, and engaging the crowd the entire time,
grateful and in awe of so many people in front of him singing his songs.

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“It’s awesome that you’re singing my songs,” he says
grinning. “These aren’t on the radio, which means you had to go out yourself and
find my music. Thank you for that.”

And it’s true, track after track, both slow and fast,
everyone joins in on lyrics. He plays a repertoire of songs on his setlist,
including popular songs, “The Beat,” “Make Something Beautiful,” “Fear,” and of
course “Let the Good Times Roll.”

It isn’t just originals however, Rector, with his boyish
preference for jazz sneaks cover songs into his performance, stating, “I get
bored doing my own stuff after a while, sometimes I like to mix it up.” Yet, regardless
of whether he plays own music or not, he is still loved among the crowd of
listeners before him, and he reciprocates that love fully. As he plays, both
guitar and piano, we see the passion and joy he derives, not just from the
music, but from performing. And as he engages his audience members, teasing,
laughing, and exchanging jokes, we see an artist who is driven by the love of
performance. At the end of the show, as Rector discusses how impatient he gets
at encores because he just wants to be back out with the audience, we almost
feel enveloped by his presence, as if in this hour of time with him and in an
theater full of other people, we’ve become close friends with the artist
himself.

Rector dances his way out of the crowd, leaving everyone on
a high, joyful in anticipation of his next album to come.

And although this artist isn’t experimental in his
composition or melodies or lyrics, we have come to the conclusion he does
create feeling for the listener, and since that’s good for everyone
else who’s helped him top charts, that’s good enough for us to give him a
thumbs up.

Take a listen to his latest album Brand New and follow his tour now.

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Ariana Rivera



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

Kacy Hill- Quirky new artist takes Barboza

When 21-year-old soulful artist Kacy Hill was 16, working as a wedding
photographer in Scottsdale, Arizona, she probably never expected she would
become the face of American Apparel, and a common face in Kanye West’s music
videos and stage tours.

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 But when Yeezus heard the incredible subtle and versatile voice the
young artist had, he couldn’t resist signing her to G.O.O.D. Music—a label with
renown artists such as Malik Yusef, John Legend, and Pusha T.  

And although young, Hill has a mature voice, and as a new artist, has
definitely hit the jackpot by touring with fellow prominent artist, Jack Garratt.

Coming out onto the stage of small bar venue Barboza Monday night, the tall, slender,
and beautiful redhead dons a red velvet jumpsuit bedazzled at the neck and ankles.
Although Hill looks very mature, she exudes a childlike joy, giggling at the
audience members, still unsure of how to properly control a stage.

 “I feel like I’m performing in my living room,” she exclaims, as the 200
participants of her show cheer her on in the small but cozy basement of the
Barboza stage.

Hill’s band is a three-man band, consisting of only her at the mike, her
keyboardist Max—a tall hipster with purple hair and incredible style—and her
drummer Val, an incredibly talented woman with the same amount of style as the
other two, both donning a white turtleneck sweater and black blazers.

Hill’s bandmates are obviously older than her and smile
affectionately at both Hill  and each
other as the young artist stumbles awkwardly through track introductions and
audience banter, giggling, “Seattle, you are just so pretty, it’s so nice to
see your pretty faces.”

She is cute yes, but there is no denying the incredible power Hill holds on
stage with her voice.

Singing tracks off her EP Bloo,
including her famous single “Foreign Fields,” Hill’s voice is almost the exact
same as on the EP—a quality almost never found in artists that delve into the
electropop genre. It’s excitingly refreshing to see such a young artist , although
lacking of clear and confident stage presence, still maintain so much control
and soul in her dreamy voice. Her modeling past also shows, because even if Hill
can’t sweet talk her audience with suave charm, she does consistently look beautiful,
knowing her angles and light.

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And although on a label that has had and still has artists that are big
in the hip-hop world, Hill’s soulful voice, reminiscent of Florence Welch (Florence & the Machine), James Vincent McMorrow, and even FKA Twigs, is a huge stepping stone for
G.O.O.D. Music. And maybe Kanye West signed her with an intent, adding her and
fellow singer songwriter Mr. Hudson, hoping to have artists like John Legend
influence these new artists to create more soul in their sound and diversity of
genre within the label.

Whatever the reason, we’re glad for it, because Kacy Hill is on the
come-up. With the announcement of the progress of a new album in store with the
collaborative assistance of fellow touring artist Jack Garratt (who helped her write the infamous song “Foreign
Fields” on Hill’s EP thanks to producer Rick
Rubin
), the artist still has a lot to show us.

We see a lot of potential for an excellent debut album, especially using
her current EP as a marker for her composition style. Music-wise, Hill knows
what she’s doing, or at least how to use her resources, combining well-executed
electronic production with soft, delicate vocals.

Are we converted to this model turned-singer? We think so, and once you
listen to her EP, we’re sure you will be too.

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Ariana Rivera




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

Jack Garratt – British artist blows up Barboza

Last year when we talked about Jack Garratt with his newly
released EP, we were in love. There was something about the vibe of music that grabbed us, maybe in the way Garratt labels himself as “neo-modern.” Nonetheless, we liked the hints of R&B in his electropop
indie rhythms and his multi-instrumentalism, linking in electric guitar
with piano to add a sense of funk and blue to the synth he overlays in his
tracks.

And with songs like “The Love You’ve Given,” we see other influences in Garratt’s
work —Disclosure, Mumford and Sons, and James Blake, especially in
terms of the falsetto Garratt executes under the atmosphere of drawn out piano
melodies.

With the release of Garratt’s debut album Phase, this artist has been swept up in
a sea of praise, winning awards including the British Awards Critics Choice
prize and the BBC Sound of 2016 (an award prominent artists Ellie Goulding and
Sam Smith both won early in their careers).

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And seeing the one-man-band in the flesh work his magic on
stage Monday night at Barboza is a cerebral experience, flitting around between the three instruments
he plays and the microphone into which he croons and sometimes screams into.
His vocals live are a more gritty, throaty, and almost harsher version of the smooth
soft vocals on his record, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing—everything is
merely heightened and made more raw. As he sings fan favorites on the record,
like “Breathe Life,” “Weathered,” and “Chemical,” the crowd is invested. As Garratt
dances around on stage, with a vibe similar to Michael Jackson or Prince, the audience grooves around on the floor, equally as emotional as him.

Garratt takes a moment during his show to chit chat with the
small 200-member audience of Barboza, and point out that he was at the smallest
venue on his tour, highlighting how big he is already. As the British-born
artist swaps between up-beat and slow tempo tracks, the mood of the room
oscillates, as well, between happy-drunk and somber thoughtfulness.

A moment occurs in which the artist sets down everything, to
inform his audience his intent to play a new song never recorded before. The
new track that Garratt continues to unfold for his fans is not memorable in
terms of lyrics or melodies, but is in the emotions Garratt exudes in the song’s
execution. As he closes his eyes and powerfully plays chord after chord on his
keyboard, we see how much this yet unnamed song means to him. The audience
stands silent, no whispers in earshot, swaying in awe to the range of the
artist’s vocals and the way he performs his composition.

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Not a fan of encores, Garratt plays his most popular track
as his last, the 2014 “Worry” that he played after winning the Critics Choice
Prize, and happily exits the stage. He’s an upbeat guy, giving into the
audience banter, teasing them about the British jokes they make, and telling
anecdotes about each track he plays.

The new album Phase? It’s well written, well-produced and
exactly what we would expect of Garratt with heavy drops and synthy electronic
in track likes ”Coalesce (Synesthesia Part III)” and “Lonesome Valley,”  and powerful vocal switches in “Fire,” and “Surprise
Yourself.”  A bit generic, the album almost
makes us wish Garratt experimented a little more in terms of composition, but
it makes sense why he wouldn’t want to with a debut.  Yet, there is no doubt Garratt knows how to
perform and with good reason, playing festivals and shows in the UK and acting
as a BBC favorite in the in-studio videos.

We can only wait and hope now with anticipation to see what
Garratt throws at us next in the coming years, because it’s only a matter of
time before he starts following in fellow UK artists Sam Smith and Adele’s
footsteps and accepts a Grammy for his talent as an artist and producer. We
also hope to see a second album soon with a little more to show in terms of
experimentation with his skills.

Check out the album Phase
and be sure to follow his tour, both in the US and UK.

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Ariana Rivera

Women and Alternative Genders in Rap

Kari Faux

Kari is super self-aware and it shows in everything she makes. She gained internet traction after working with Childish Gambino; he remixed her song “No Small Talk” on STN MTN and she featured him in her video for “Gahdamn”.  Even so, she mocks internet fame on her track “On the Internet”: “Doing the most for a little fame / But one thing remains the same / When you log out you’re still a lame.” Her videos are stylistic and sarcastic too and definitely worth checking out.

Junglepussy

Junglepussy hits on all the subject matter that a strong modern woman cares about – self-love and care, looking good, and keeping lame dudes away from you. Her flow is sexy and smooth yet commanding. Her new album Pregnant with Success is a continuation of her unique style. She also has one of the best Twitter accounts of all time IMO.

Babeo Baggins + Barf Troop

Babeo Baggins is a genderfluid member of the rap group Barf Troop. The group has gained recognition in the press most recently for being seen with Drake and some other members of the OVO crew. Babeo’s latest album Positive highlights their cheeky and playful style. With a flow that reaches lightning speeds, Babeo’s clever lyricism will blow you away.

Mykki Blanco

From the start Mykki’s music has addressed gender, sexuality and queer culture. She’s made a name for herself with her bold, aggressive sound. She’s also made headlines for coming out as HIV positive, being best friends with the OG riot grrl Kathleen Hanna and reportedly pursuing a career in investigative journalism. In any case, she continues to make waves in the rap scene.

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Chloe Hagans



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

New Twin Peaks Song, “Walk to the One You Love”

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If you’ve been following Twin Peaks you know them as the up and coming garage rockers from Chicago. Their previous 2 albums established their sound as laid back, youthful and just the right amount of messy. But now a third album titled Down in Heaven is set to release this spring and it might just break your expectations. At the end of last month they shared the first song off the album, “Walk to the One You Love”. 

It features so many great new things – horns! Harmonies! Rock n roll guitar solos! It seems like the boys might be moving away from the signature lo-fi sound of their earliest days and towards a more crisp classic rock vibe. It’s clear that there are some new musical influences in play like blues (possibly inspired by their Chicago heritage?) and maybe even rockabilly. At the same time, “Walk to the One You Love” definitely sounds like a Twin Peaks song. Uplifting guitar riffs and gritty vocals act like musical fingerprints for the band.

This new song is undeniable proof that there are cool things in store for the Twin Peaks dudes. Down in Heaven will be released on May 13th by Grand Jury Music.

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Chloe Hagans



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

Artist Interview: Charlie Burg

Unless you have ties to the metro-Detroit music scene, I doubt you’ve heard Charlie Burg’s work. As a sophomore in college, Charlie clearly has an energetic zeal for life and evident love of music. Charlie’s not signed with a label which gives him a lot of freedom to experiment with different sounds and inspirations. His recently released album, Blue Wave Mosiac, eloquently features Burg’s exceptional vocals and embellished wavy tracks. With hints of R&B, Charlie is reaching beyond any one genre, but reels you in with his relaxed vibes. This feel good album definitely deserves more recognition as his tracks are not overly embellished and leave the listener intrigued.

Blue Wave Mosaic demonstrates Burg’s development as a multitalented artist who began singing and playing guitar covers to songs he liked but is now producing music in a genre that’s all his own. I liked the album so much I decided to reach out to him and learn more. 

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Shannon (SM): Tell me about yourself:

Charlie (CB): “I was born and raised in Birmingham, MI. I went to Dennison as a Freshman for college but realized I needed a bigger school, especially for my music so I transferred to Michigan State University and am studying humanities but I’m hoping to study music.  I learned how to produce at Dennison quickly and it didn’t take me very long to learn the ropes enough to produce on my own, since I didn’t have the resources or time to go to a studio. Prior to that I had just been doing covers on Soundcloud with my guitar and had the reputation of the white college kid with a guitar.”

SM: Tell me about the inspiration behind your title Blue Wave Mosaic:

CB: “There’s a lot of people who are on the project, so I thought it was kind of like a mosaic pulling from different minds. And the blue wave was inspired from a painting I saw at the DIA (Detroit Institute of Art) of a Spanish artist named Joan Miro and I thought, that’s the feeling I want people to feel when they listen to my music.”

SM: What’s the general emotion behind Blue Wave Mosiac? What kind of feelings were you intending to project?

CB: “Mostly about how I feel about love. I recently got out of a relationship and I felt confused, like I lost something important. It’s inspired by R&B sounds and I wanted to portray sadness, tenderness, longing, yearning…It’s not a dance album or a celebration. It’s a reflection of what I want.”

SM: How long have you been working on Blue Wave Mosaic?

CB: “Not very long, from November to December (2015).”

SM: Is there a person or place that most inspired your work?

CB: “My friend Ade inspired me in rap and R&B and showed me a lot of obscure hip hop producers. But Coldplay cultivated my love songs and D’Angelo cultivated my vibe.”

SM: Favorite release of 2015?

CB: “Head Full of Dreams”

SM: Goals for 2016:

CB: “To be in another band with some friends from Ann Arbor, Mi, write 20 songs, and another album…I have so much stuff I want to put out there. I also want to play two shows a week and travel and go hiking this summer.”

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We’re eager to watch Charlie Burg continue to grow as an artist and discover a claimable sound that he most identifies with. Blue Wave Mosiac shows Burg’s immense potential as an up and an extremely talented up and coming artist. Definitely worth the listen – check out his website here!

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Shannon Milner


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

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


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

A Valentine’s playlist for the rest of us

Valentine’s Day is probably one of the year’s most polarizing holidays. Some of us embrace it and look forward to it, while some of us try to pretend it doesn’t exist and eat ice cream with our friends because we don’t have dates. Some of us just don’t really care at all. But no matter how you celebrate Valentine’s Day (or don’t), that shouldn’t stop you from listening to some great tunes.

I’ve been putting together a playlist over the last few months that’s full of songs that remind me of the soundtrack to some indie love-story movie. Some of them are upbeat, some of them are sad. Some of them don’t really seem to relate to love at all, but they’ll give you a nice dance break. Artists range from The Velvet Underground and John Mayer to Blackbird Blackbird and Youth Lagoon.

To be honest, this playlist is a bit of a mismatch of the moods that make up the different stages of a love story. So you can skip all the sad breakup songs and only listen to the happy ones, or vice versa. Or listen to all of the tracks, because they’re all good. Anyways, happy V-Day, Huskies.

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Ann Evans



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

Live Review: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Lower Dens, & Hibou @ Neptune Theater

Remember when Unknown Mortal Orchestra played at Birthday Fest 2014? I don’t, because I wasn’t there. But I was at the Neptune Theater last Friday to watch UMO headline Little Big Show #14. Little Big Show is an ongoing concert series presented by KEXP, Starbucks, and Seattle Theater Group. Each series supports a local arts organization in Seattle. Friday’s proceeds benefitted Red Eagle Soaring, a Native youth theater that empowers American Indian and Alaska Native youth to express themselves through traditional and contemporary performance arts.

UMO is currently touring their 2015 release, Multi-Love. The album canters along on catchy, meandering melodies that conjure up the giants of soul and R&B. Their sound also possesses a quality of dancy psychedelia that paints a full spectrum of altered consciousness without relying on face-numbing effects. On Multi-Love, front man Ruban Nielson proves himself an expert craftsman behind the mixing board. On stage, he showed us that he is also a master of his instrument.

Nielson’s guitar, slung over his right shoulder like a designer purse, was a main ingredient in his performance. Many songs featured extended jams and solos not only from Nielson, but also from drummer Riley Geare and keyboardist Quincy McCrary. Sprinkled between tracks from Multi-Love were favorites from 2013’s II, like the whimsical “Swim And Sleep (Like A Shark)”, and the cathartic/melancholy “So Good At Being In Trouble.”

While the crowd danced, Nielson offered lyrical commentary about navigating polyamorous relationships, buying illicit goods from Jesus, and things to do inside the photo booth at Cha Cha. The indulgent affairs celebrated in Multi-Love are grounded to a sincere and humble narrative about jealousy, love, and self-scrutiny. Complimenting the band’s many intellectual, danceable, and intoxicating treats, the Neptune Theater offered a balcony for thinkers, a floor for dancers, and a bar for imbibers alike.

Upbeat jams like the title track “Multi-Love” and the closing number “Necessary Evil” stood out as the highlights of the evening. This may be due to their high energy, or maybe the live adaptations of certain sounds from the record (Nielson is known for circuit-bending keyboards and modding guitar effects with transplanted vintage electronics).

Seattle locals Hibou opened the show, and set the mood with their happy/dreamy guitar and synth pop. Leader Peter Michel says he writes melodies for the band in Discovery Park, Seattle’s nature oasis. Lower Dens (Baltimore-based indie pop quartet–plus a keyboard and triggers guy neglected on the side of the stage behind a speaker stand) took over the stage with some of the most powerful vocals of the night. 

Keep an eye out for Little Big Show #15 featuring well-known immortal solo artists Santigold and DoNormaal on April 9th. Proceeds benefit EMP Youth Programs.

John Davis is a DJ on Rainy Dawg Radio. Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!

Who is Kristin Kontrol?

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…is what I was asking myself when I saw this video on my Instagram feed last week:

Kristin Kontrol is the new moniker of the lead singer/mastermind behind the Dum Dum Girls, Dee Dee (legal name Kristin Welchez). Judging from the video, this new solo project captures a brand new sound that is heavily electronic and synthpop. This transition may be surprising for older fans as the Dum Dum Girls have consistently fallen into the alternative rock genre over the past 8 years.

In a recent interview with Sub Pop Records, Kristin said: “The music is so different from anything I’ve ever done – I felt compelled to shed the alter-ego instead of trying to morph Dum Dum Girls into something else. I didn’t want to mess with that legacy.” It is unclear whether Dum Dum Girls will continue to tour or record another album in the future. In any case, this fresh new start from such a talented and creative frontwoman should be highly anticipated. Kristin Kontrol’s debut LP is expected to be released this spring on Sup Pop Records.

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Chloe Hagans