We the Music

Every movement
has its own distinct sound. Music helps capture the time and people of a
movement. It reveals who they are, what they believe in and expresses what’s on
their minds. 

Folk songs and
rock became platforms for anti-war sentiments during the Vietnam war, Hip-Hop
and rap were born from the inner cities of New York City highlighting social
issues over beats to get down to, punk and grunge were generations of young
teens resisting societal norms expressing their fears of a bleak future.

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Today we are in
the middle of yet another time of great change. A new movement born out of the
political and social climate is being created. It is my intent to share and
discuss some of the music that is being made and that is helping to define this
movement’s sound, the people’s sound. 

The first song I
want to highlight is the cover of the folk classic “This Land is Your Land”. It’s
a simple, timeless tune that grade school kids learn when they talk about
inclusiveness. Woody Guthrie wrote the song 77 years ago on February 23rd in 1940
according to this NPR article. It was written in response to “God
Bless America” which was a jukebox favorite in the 40s. As a frequent
hitchhiker, Guthrie developed a unique view on what was going on in the country
and it differed from the America portrayed in “God Bless America” leading him
to write the tune.

Countless
musicians have covered this alternative national anthem but one of the latest
bands to do so I think does one of the best versions. Chicano Batman debuted their cover of “This Land is Your Land” at
the end of January for a Johnnie Walker commercial. The Los Angeles band puts a
slightly psychedelic/rock spin on the classic tune. It’s got a synthesizer
going on giving it an element of funk and with a chorus in the background a
hint of soul. If you didn’t know what you were listening to you might have
thought it was a new hit on the Alternative charts.

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What makes
Chicano Batman’s cover especially important is what it represents. A Latino
band from East L.A. takes a classic American folk tune and puts their own spin
on it. The lyrics are sung in English but they slip into Spanish by the end
singing “Esta tierra es para ti y para mi,” the famous line “this land is made
for you and me.” It’s as much of a statement of resistance as it is about hope.

When our head of
state has declared their intention of creating barriers for people wanting to
make a better life for themselves and their families, this song becomes
undeniably relevant. The members of Chicano Batman come from both L.A. and
countries in Latin America. Without their different backgrounds their sound
wouldn’t be the same. When cultures collide it results in better art, new
perspectives and new ideas.  

Guthrie wrote “This
Land is Your Land” as he witnessed a side of America that was struggling during
the Great Depression, that didn’t have the blessing of God on their side. Today,
we aren’t going through a Great Depression but we are going through a time of
great division. “This Land is Your Land” sung by Chicano Batman reminds us with
the words of Guthrie that all people
of America that they belong too.

Chicano Batman’s new album Freedom is Free is out March 3rd. They play The Crocodile on Thursday the 23rd, tickets available here.

-Grace Madigan

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

Jacob Banks heats up Barboza

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

Originally from Birmingham, England, the British
singer-songwriter first became active in 2012, when he was the first unsigned
act to ever appear on BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. Influenced by a multitude of soul,
R&B, and hip-hop, Banks first recorded his debut EP The Monologue, released in 2013, with his top hit “Worthy,” a popular
play on various stations. A tall, brooding man with a bright smile, Banks cites Jake Gosling, Bondax, and Knox Brown as some influences and reminds us of a combination of Benjamin
Clementine, Seal,
and Jack Garratt.
Soft smooth vocals always seemingly complemented by melodic piano, Jacob Banks
is crossing genres often acoustic singer-songwriter ballads, like tracks “Homecoming”
and “Hostage” on his EP The Monologue.
Yet, the man has range, both vocally and emotionally, demonstrated in “Something
Beautiful,” also seen on his EP The
Monologue.
On his newest EP The
Paradox
, Banks delves more into
soul and R&B, experimenting with melodies in his vocal range, seen in “Home,”
and “All Mine.”

Playing fan favorites from his newer EP, Banks succeeded at demonstrating
a mix of softer vocals and instrumentals in Unknown,” while demonstrating a
hard, grittier audible aesthetic in “Sink or Swim.” Highlighting the soul aspects
of his set list, the British artist catalyzed a complete feeling of union and
communal love, as the audience swayed in unison to “Home,” a song similar in
feeling to any calmer Stevie Wonder
track

a nice complement to the upbeat and diverse sounding track “Monster.”

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Finally ending his set with new single “Unholy War,” the
audience vibe completely shifted as we all came together and empathized together
with the emotion in Banks’ vocals as he glided on the stage and crooned chorus “Let
love lead you home, oh no/ Let redemption keep you warm.” And just as Banks climaxes
as he reaches as the height at the bridge taper off, the audience in parallel also
drops.

We stop, we sway, we close our eyes, and we dance as the
rest of the chorus plays out.

Jacob Banks has reached a new level of soul, and it’s dipping
into funk—and we’re sort of hoping he continue only to reach new heights with
his artistic creativity.

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

-Ariana Rivera

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

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

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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Interview with artist Jack Garratt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ariana Rivera