Gabriel Garzón-Montano Injects France and Colombia into American Neo-Soul

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You might not know his name, but it is likely that you will recognize Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s voice. Garzón-Montano was pulled into the spotlight after Drake sampled his track “6 8". But he is determined not to let that define him. “I don’t want to be that guy that got sampled on ‘Jungle’,” he said, “I don’t want that to give me my value”.

I think those concerns have been effectively erased with the release of his full-length debut Jardín. As the primary vocalist, instrumentalist, and composer for Jardín, there is no doubt left about this man’s talent.

Music became part of Garzón-Montano’s life from an early age. Gaining the foundations of classical training from his mother, he learned violin as a child before moving on to guitar, drums, bass, and piano. His resulting musical career has incorporated his experiences with urban electronic and hip-hop, as well as influences from his French-Colombian heritage.

It’s actually quite a feat to locate Garzón-Montano’s sound on the wide map of his influences. I would place it somewhere between chill funk and neo-soul, balanced with a touch of psychedelia and a hard penchant for groove. On Jardín, this has culminated in a luxurious ode to life, beauty, and romance. The layered vocals and lush instrumentals across each track are irresistible.

Opening with “Trial”, Jardín eases the listener in with soft harmonies laid across a restrained string performance. The next few tracks build up to soulful vocals from Garzón-Montano, punctuated by the funky rhythms of “The Game” and “Crawl”. From this point onward, Jardín somehow feels like its own microcosm. It’s minimalistic at times, yet eerily moody in a world that seems very much separate from ours. Garzón-Montano is quite aware of this. He closes the album with the gentle, soothing melody of “Lullaby”, perhaps as if to delicately deposit the listener back into reality.

I’m very impressed with this release. The intricacies and details in Jardín seem to indicate that we can expect more great things from Garzón-Montano. He is certainly surpassing his time in the spotlight as “the guy that got sampled on ‘Jungle’”. He is making his own name for himself, and I look forward to what he will bring us in the future, perhaps with a bit more polish if nothing else.

Excellent for fans of: Jordan Rakei, Hiatus Kaiyote, The Internet, D’Angelo

More from Gabriel Garzón-Montano: SoundCloud / Bandcamp / Facebook / Twitter

-Emily Tasaka

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Album Review: Matt Martians’ The Drum Chord Theory

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The Internet blew me away with Ego Death in 2015. The album was cohesive, masterfully produced, and showcased the talents of each individual in the group. Now, two years later, the members of The Internet have decided to take a break from their group act and pursue their solo careers. The first of The Internet to release a solo project is Matt Martians, the group’s keyboardist. His first solo album, The Drum Chord Theory, can easily be traced back to the sound of his collective, but he also manages to venture into areas unknown and take the listener on a psychedelic-albeit scattershot-journey.

One of the most striking characteristics of the album is its dependency on the drums. Despite Martians experience with the piano, the drums play a larger role in driving each song forward and maintaining the melody (if the album title wasn’t already a giveaway). That’s not to say that Martians doesn’t utilize his piano skills or experiment with other instruments. The instrumentals on the album take a hefty amount of risks, most of which pay off. A majority of the time they take precedence over Martians’ singing, playing long before and after Martians sings. One song in particular, “Where Are Your Friends?” sounds like it was intentionally recorded in a factory, with the instrumental miming the sounds of hammers and whistles. The sound of that would normally be annoying, but Martians uses the sounds to add a playful mood to the song. Others don’t pay off as well, like on “Alotta Women/Useless”, where the piano chords overwhelm the other instruments and Martians’ repetitive lyrics wear themselves out.

This brings me to one of the significant issues with The Drum Chord Theory. Martians depends too much on the instrumentation to create a quality song. Each unique instrumental is paired with lyrics that are too sparse or shallow to derive any meaning from. Take the song “Found Me Some Acid Tonight”; Martians repeats “I found me some acid tonight/And we gon’ trip to the other side” before the song abruptly cuts off. This is not the only instance where Martians is caught repeating himself, and it continually dulls down the album to the point of boredom.

Martians also lacks a concept to attach to his album. He mostly croons about love and his search for the perfect companion, but never really connects these songs together to create an overarching theme. Concept albums aren’t a mandatory staple of the music industry, but it helps to have an idea that the artist can work around and build off of for an album. J. Cole comes to mind when thinking about this, as he did a fairly nice job with a concept on his latest album 4 Your Eyez Only, choosing to base the album off of his friend’s death.

Despite the issues with The Drum Chord Theory, Martians has released a solid album. Numerous songs include inventive beat changes that force the listener to stay on their toes. The groovy bass and guitar lines sound reminiscent of Thundercat and Tame Impala. Martians’ features absolutely crush their appearances (Steve Lacy and Tyler, the Creator produce; Syd, Steve Lacy, and Kari Faux feature). The lyrics, however, are nothing to ride home about and hang on the verge of redundancy. The absence of a concept also makes the album impossible to comprehend as one single work. The Drum Chord Theory doesn’t break the stratosphere, but it’s not supposed to. This album has proved Martians’ potential, and that we should be prepared for what he has to come. Listen to The Drum Chord Theory here and catch The Internet at The Neptune on March 17.

Archie O’Dell

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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

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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!

Live Show Review: I Can’t Get Enough of Stanaj

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By the time 7:00 PM rolled around on Tuesday night, the line of concert-goers waiting to be let into the Showbox stretched around a corner and over block and a half. I talked to nearly everyone waiting in line before the show, and most of them weren’t aware of who R&B artist Stanaj was other than being the opener for SoMo. By the end of the night, I think the singer made quite the impression on the crowd as he showcased his good humor and impressive voice in a relatively short set of 7 songs.

Stanaj opened with “Goddess”, one of the four songs released on his first EP, The Preview.  The song started him off strong and showed many clueless members of the audience what they were in store for with him, as he belted out the lyrics “Love beyond the sky / When heaven and Earth collide” in falsetto during the song. He was able to perfectly set the tone for the night, which was decidedly sexy, and display his wide vocal range at the same time.

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The singer took a moment to address the crowd in front of him in between songs to talk about food poisoning and being sick, both of which he experienced the day before the show. He drew laughs from the audience when he went on about using throat spray for his voice due to his recent illness, and commenting that he wasn’t sure who he’d be kissing tonight because the throat spray tasted so awful. He kept up similarly playful “banter” with the audience throughout his time on stage, and this worked to create some rapport between him and the crowd and made his show, at least for me, pretty enjoyable even when he wasn’t singing.  

Stanaj continued the show with two more songs from his EP. “Romantic” was the slowest song of the night, and it worked nicely with the crowd’s energy. He also sang a personal favorite of mine, “Ain’t love strange”, which is really something else to hear live. I couldn’t get enough of his super smooth voice and emotional intensity on stage as he belted out “Maybe baby, I’ve seen crazier things / Stranger things have happened, how strange would it be / If I told you I believed you were made for me?”.

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He gave a sneak peek at a new song called “Meant to Be”, a slow, bittersweet ballad that included beautiful lyrics like “it must have been our names written in the stars”. Stanaj also did a cover of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” while playing the piano, a song which he said was one of his favorites to play. He has a cover of the song on YouTube, where he first started posting covers and was able to initially gain popularity through the platform. He humorously told the crowd, “It gets me in the feels bro” after finishing the song, which helped to lighten up the heavy, heartsick feeling permeating the venue when he finally finished the emotional song. He finished the set with the slightly more upbeat “Sleep Alone”, which is also on his EP. It served as a nice finale and definitely pumped the crowd up for SoMo’s following set.

Stanaj waited by his merch booth to meet people after show, and took pictures with fans as they waited to exit the venue. Though he might not be an influencer yet, his music is already catching the attention of fans and established artists alike. He has already been seen in circles with big music names like Drake and Chris Brown, and I can say after seeing one live show, I cannot wait to see what he has in store. My one complaint about the singer? He has only four songs out. I’ll definitely be watching out for new music from artist Stanaj. 

http://www.stanaj.com/ / YouTube

Stanaj- Ain’t Love Strange

-Kenzie Wamble

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Show Preview: SoMo’s The Less Stress More Love Tour Featuring Stanaj

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The upcoming show is on November 22nd at the Showbox, Seattle and is part of R&B and soul artist SoMo’s current U.S. tour. He’s touring with singer Stanaj, and the show will hopefully be an amazing showcase of the two R&B singer/songwriters. Both artists are signed with Republic Records, and have released new music lately. SoMo recently released a single, “First” in August 2016, and also released another single “Control” earlier this year.

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Stanaj had a lot of hype before releasing his first EP, The Preview, in August 2016. He’s gained much of his notoriety leading up to the actual release of his original music through his popular YouTube covers and talk of collaboration with big industry names like Drake.

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Personally, I’m mostly looking forward to Stanaj’s incredible vocals, and I’m extremely curious to hear him live. If The Preview is any indication of how the show is going to go, I will not be disappointed.

http://www.officialsomo.com/  /  Instagram  /  Twitter  /  YouTube  

http://www.stanaj.com/  /  Instagram  /  Twitter  /  YouTube    

-Kenzie Wamble

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

Live Review: The Suffers

Last weekend, The Suffers performed live at The Crocodile. If you weren’t able to make it, here’s what you missed.

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The show kicked off with two openers. The first was The Bandulus, an endearingly upbeat, Portland-based soul and reggae band. Right off the bat, the entire crowd danced and sang along. It was fabulous. The horn section of The Suffers even came out to join for a bit, demonstrating the closeness and camaraderie of the groups. The second opening act was Jakubi, an electronic/hip-hop/R&B outfit all the way from Melbourne, Australia. To be honest, these guys completely stole the show and were the highlight of the entire night. Laughing and pushing each other around, Jakubi was clearly having a good time. Lead vocalist Jerome Farah used a talk box to infuse some futuristic vibes alongside their funk and reggae sounds, and the result was an entirely different, raw energy that had the crowd more fired up than they would be all night.

By the time The Suffers filed across stage, the entire room was packed. The band paused in the darkness for a moment, arms raised silently toward the ceiling. It was a powerful display of unity before the lights flashed on and they jumped straight into their set. As with both openers, The Suffers had the whole crowd immediately moving to the music. People around me were clapping and head-bobbing, beer sloshing out of their cups.

Kam Franklin dominated the stage. “Presence” is the one word I would use to describe it. It was impossible to miss her strutting across, and I was blown away each time she unleashed her voice. In between songs, Kam stopped to casually chat with the audience. It really reinforced the already intimate feel of the venue. She spoke passionately about the importance of opening acts, praising both The Bandulus and Jakubi for their performances. After all, she said, The Suffers were once openers, too. Kam also called the theme of the night: chasing dreams. This upcoming January will mark the 2-year anniversary since The Suffers quit their day jobs to pursue music full-time. “Live the life you want to live”, urged Kam, “because being able to say you tried is the most wonderful thing.” She laughed, telling us that if we fail, we Seattleites have legal weed to comfort us.

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Another highlight of the night came with an announcement: The Suffers have been writing new music while on tour, and they wanted to play some of it for Seattle. My favorite was “Do Whatever”, a follow-up to Kam’s words about chasing dreams. It featured strong jazz and R&B influences, making me feel like we had suddenly landed in the middle of a downtown jazz club. Other great renditions included “Stay”, “Midtown”, and “Giver”, the final performance of the night. Kam’s voice was clear and soulful, ringing throughout the room. This song is so much better live; I could truly appreciate the talent and restraint of the percussionists when they were sitting 20 feet away. The horn section was also able to show off fabulously, with rich, gentle crescendos from Jon Durbin and Michael Razo. (These two had adorably synchronized dance moves.)

As the night wound down, this band wanted us to remember two things, if nothing else: their name and their hometown. And I must say, The Suffers from Houston, Texas will live in my memory for quite some time.

Find more from The Suffers: Facebook / Twitter / SoundCloud

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.

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

Artist to Watch: Bosley

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Somewhere in Baltimore, at the intersection of soul, funk, and pop, you’ll find a man fronting a 9-piece band. The band is called Bosley, and the man is Bosley Brown. Having just stumbled upon them, I only wish that I had discovered them sooner. It’s pretty much impossible to listen without some serious foot tapping, and hearing their music puts me in a good mood every time.

Bosley released their debut, Honey Pig, in 2011. But this was not Bosley as they are today. Bosley Brown wrote and recorded this album with some members of another Baltimore soul group, The Bellevederes. It wasn’t until after its release that he realized he needed his own band. He posted flyers around local college campuses, and the next thing he knew, he had pulled together a full-fledged group of talented young musicians to form Bosley.

Now with a few years together as a band, Bosley makes appearances in the Baltimore music scene with their fiery, high-energy shows. Below is a video of them performing “Sharpshooter” in 2014. The whole room is ready to dance, and the man himself, Bosley, radiates with infectious spirit.

That same year, Bosley released their second album, The Dirty Dogs Radio Show. This fantastic follow-up to Honey Pig is full of more music that you just can’t help but move to. It’s a great expansion on Bosley’s rock-soul sounds, which will soon include Jamaican and electronic influences, according to an interview last month. They are expecting a new release next year, and I will definitely be counting down until then. If you love new bands with old style, give this one a listen.

Find Bosley here: Facebook | SoundCloud | Twitter

For fans of: The Meters, Otis Redding, James Brown

-Emily Tasaka

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

Album review: BANKS “The Altar”

We’re not going to lie, when we were told BANKS had just
released a new album, we didn’t know what to expect. Jillian Rose Banks,
28-year old American artist, stylized as BANKS is still a relatively new artist on the radar on
music—and so far, known mainly for her opening act with The Weeknd.

Yet listening to her latest album The Altar changed
mindsets for the better. This 13-track album starts off similar to the aesthetic of electropop contemporaries Tove Lo and. BANKS’ starts her album off
shaky, with the vibe switching every which way. Her tendency to overlay with
her own vocals with additional vocals occurs consistently throughout the album,
in tracks like “This is Not About You,” “Love Sick,” and “Mind Games.” It’s
BROODS and it’s Ellie Goulding but she’s not quite sure which yet. Her decision
to start the track with “Gemini” was a good one, and it’s the one of the solid
hit on her record, and introduces her vocal range quite nicely. The next solid
hit on the album hit on the album is “Mind Games,” for its simplicity in instrumental
and synth overlay on her vocals.

It gets rough in the middle of the album with some remnants
almost a bit too reminiscent of Britney Spears in her bad music days—too upbeat
in tempo, too shrill in vocals, and too busy in overall production.

But then we breathe a final sigh of relief because BANKS
remembers her roots.  A former opener on
the infamous artist The Weeknd, and a young artist who still cites Fiona Apple
and Lauren Hill as massive influences on her music, Jillian Banks knows her way
around R&B. She slows down the pop and pulls it in. In the eight track,
we finally hear the gravelly substance in BANKS’ voice—not quite pain or any
sort of emotion of passion, but rather the multitude of different experiences. BANKS
takes the synth off in “Mother Earth,” and truly takes the song raw, with a
violin, a guitar, and her vocals guttural and low—finally in the style of Fiona
Apple. As she continues with slower, simpler, and a lot more soulful tracks
like “Judas” and “To the Hilt,” the R&B influence comes out. The favorites
off the track remind us most of her time with The Weeknd, on tracks “Judas” and

Poltergeist” due to the stream of fluid vocals and Weeknd-esque background
instrumentals.

It’s no doubt these artists have had an influence on BANKS
and it shows—but with her own spin. Although BANKS is similar to this menagerie
of artists, she maintains her own signature trademark: her gravelly and
almost nasally vocal range. She uses it to her advantage. And maybe on this
album, she tried to use her range a bit too far in terms of genre, switching
from blue to indie to electropop to R&B, but the one thing we can say is
that the girl’s got guts.

We’re excited to see her tour and take those vocals out for
a spin. Grab a listen at her album The
Altar
now.

Ariana Rivera

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