Q&A with Don, winner of Rainy Dawg’s Birthday Battle

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

Katie Anastas

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

CONCERT REVIEW – Chance the Rapper: Family Matters

Celebrating the release of Surf and touring with his group The Social Experiment, Chance the Rapper performed on November 19th at The Paramount with his opener D.R.A.M. The sold-out crowd went crazy when the lights dimmed. Everyone knew just what was coming, and when chance got on stage the party started.

It was amazing that Chance’s performance was just as much about his personality and showmanship as it was the crowd’s. Everyone was singing along to his songs off of the mixtape 10 Day with the same dedication as his better-known songs off of his full albums, Acid Rap and Surf.

With the crowd backing him, Chance really let the crowd get to know him as a person, taking breaks in between songs for personal dialogues. You could tell he was more than a little excited to try and shake the foundations of the Paramount, and with his crowd conversations and boundless energy, he definitely did so.

With slower songs like “Paranoia” and “Long Time” (during which Donnie Trumpet showcased his trumpet-playing expertise) to feel Chance’s emotion, as well as his bangers “Cocoa-Butter Kisses” and “Sunday Candy” to feed the energy of the crowd, the show quickly turned into something akin to a family gathering. We all know Chance, but it felt like Chance knew the crowd,too.

Chance and the Social Experiment are natural performers, and if they weren’t on your “to-see list”, they should be now.

Kobe Ryan is a first-time blogger for Rainy Dawg and a regular DJ for Rainy Dawg Radio–listen to his show, The Album Hour, every Friday from 9-11pm!

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

Show Preview: Destroyer at the Neptune – TONIGHT (10/16)

This Friday brings a recent discovery for me to the nearby Neptune Theater. Destroyer, fronted by Dan Bejar of the Canadian indie band The New Pornographers, will be bringing his unique voice to fill the rafters of the local theater. 

Poison Season is a showcase for a variety of lush instrumentals behind Bejar’s often imploring and questioning vocals. Ranging from golden trumpets to strings, sax, piano, flute, (yes, flute) and your standard guitar and bass, I am sure his live show will sound as beautiful live as they do on record, if not more so.

And while you’re at it, watch his amusing and oddly fitting stop-motion video for ‘Times Square’. It’s not what you would expect!

Opening will be Frog Eyes, with doors at 8 and the show starting at 9. Get your tickets here if you haven’t yet.

image
DJ Holmes

Rainy Dawg Turns 12: Isaiah Rashad @ Birthday Fest

Rainy Dawg Radio is throwing a tantrum! After 12 years of feeling brought down by the man, we’re ready for our final years of pre-teen excellence. THIS FRIDAY, our favorite bands are setting up shop in Sylvan Grove to celebrate our terrible twelfth birthday (we’re soooo old)!

If you haven’t already, you can RSVP via our facebook event! There you can find updates before and during the show, including posts about food, fun and free swag. For example:

If phantasmagorical frybread isn’t enough, there will also be music! Lots of music… including:

Isaiah Rashad

Wampire

One Above Below None

Naked Giants (RDR Birthday Battle winner!)

Easy Eating by Naked Giants

SNUFF REDUX

Toy Kingdom EP by Snuff Redux

Richie Dagger’s Crime

Collection of Singles 2012-2014 by Richie Dagger’s Crime

While you’re listening, our favorite clubs and organizations will be there as well:

1. Live Painting by UW Hip Hop Student Association!

2. Merch and more for sale by CTPAK Records!

and of course…

3. FIRE Native American street tacos by Off The Rez!

So come check it out on FRIDAY MAY 15th • 5–10pm

Where? SYLVAN GROVE THEATER

How much? FREE!!!

Rainy Dawg Radio, Arts & Entertainment and ASUW are happy to have such fantastic performers present on our behalf

xo come party

image
DJ Desman

Album Review: Esoteric Allusions

image

Seattle and hip hop. The two are becoming more and more
connected, thanks in large part to the mainstream success of Macklemore &
Ryan Lewis
, but also due to the strong underground careers of the Blue
Scholars
, Common Market, up and comer Raz Simone, and of course our nostalgic
hero the great Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

Enter NOM Pérignon,
1/5 of the hip-hop collective .nuLOVE.

Recently relocated from Iowa to Seattle, .nuLOVE consists of Boycott, producer Jharee,
NOM Pérignon, Booka, and Freakmite. Jharee handles much of the
production on NOM’s solo album Esoteric Allusions, and the other
group members feature on a few of the tracks as well.

NOM Pérignon, aka Michael Westerfield, calls himself an
artist, lyricist, songwriter, actor, and visionary on their website, and listening to the album from cover to cover provides evidence of how these many titles can be rolled together into one person.

image

Esoteric Allusions is
a dark album, as the artwork suggests, and it’s expansive lyrics contain many
references to the artists’ grimy upbringing. Yet NOM’s goal here is to educate.
The project opens with “Allusion”, with a woman’s emotional voice proclaiming
“Let me lay down my words in you so you know how I feel/All I have for you are
layers to peel”. Haunting strings grow to a crescendo, and as the drums blow in
and a melancholy sample is added to the beat, NOM beings his first verse.
Buckle down!

Listening to the album it immediately becomes apparent that
NOM is a gifted lyricist, with frequent wordplay and a skilled use of
alliteration harnessed to a confident flow. On the opener he raps “Soul
searching is the sole source of my sorcery”, and tracks such as “Happy
Feelings_Hopeless Protests”, “Ghetto Boy”, and “Crossroads” provide more than
enough evidence for why such musings create a shady art.

Standout “Bucktown
Blues” is an impressive stream of consciousness where NOM relates multiple
perspectives, of both a frustrated girlfriend and a dealer out of options
making one last phone call, and ends with him explaining that he will rise
above and travel “wherever the wind take me”. The beat is indeed reminiscent of
a chilling, whistling wind, overlaid with a clattering snare.

Jharee’s production throughout the album is superb,
complementing the messages the lyrics deliver and fleshing out the murky nature
of the mixtape. Yet all is not depressing on the album. The mercurial nature of
relations with the opposite sex is addressed on “Good Evening” and Find Your
Loving”, with the latter featuring a stellar verse from Chicago native Freddie Old Soul.

At the beginning of the mixtape, NOM raps “I ease on down
the road less travelled/where it’s way less paved and way more gravel”,
illustrating his struggle to find success coming from a position where success
is not the norm. Esoteric Allusions
may be his first project, but NOM Pérignon has made serious progress in blazing
his own path to find ever-elusive success.

There is much to be taken from this album. I am only
scratching the surface as far as the depth of material covered on the 15
tracks, so I highly recommend downloading the album for free here and seeing for yourself what Seattle has to offer up next in the world of rap.

Also check out .nuLOVE’s website for more of their solo projects, along with their Facebook.
And in the words of this promising new collective’s slogan: Stay Gold.

image
DJ Holmes

Naked Giants Take the Spot: Rainy Dawg’s 1st Annual Birthday Battle

Following the Daily’s coverage on Tuesday, the directors of ASUW’s Arts & Entertainment and Rainy Dawg Radio chose the Naked Giants as the winners of our first ever Birthday Battle!

As the champions, the band will be one of our openers at the 12th annual Birthday Fest, May 15th at Sylvan Grove!

The band put on a phenomenal show, presenting music from their dynamic repertoire. In case you missed it, check out a preview of what’s to come from the Naked Giants upcoming performance:

Easy Eating by Naked Giants

You can check out all of their music on the band’s bandcamp which includes their debut EP, Sit Down.

The UW-based band consists of Grant Mullen on guitar and vocals, Gianni Aiello on bass and vocals, and Henry La Vallee on drums and vocals.

“Grant and Henry having been playing together for many years, when Gianni joined the band in the summer of 2014, Naked Giants became what it is today. They recorded their first EP in 2014 and you can listen to it here! Have a great day and enjoy who you are!” – from their bandcamp.

Congrats to these up-and-coming rock stars! We can’t wait to see what you’ll surprise us with next. To stay in the loop, be sure to follow them on facebook!

image
DJ Desman

Album Review: COHO – Graves EP

Last quarter, I posted an article on COHO and their efforts to fundraise for their first EP. Needless to say, the IndieGoGo campaign was a success as this weekend, the band released Graves.

Slowly and carefully, the EP begins. Its vocal “oohs” coming in waves over an ever-vibrant guitar. As the introduction to “Orion” comes to a close, the drums commence and a male falsetto rings out over a building set of instruments. This first song sets the mood for the album, introducing COHO’s subtle harmonies and interconnected instrumentation. The song’s lyrics are complicated, yet easy to follow – their meaning pervading the happy Oh’s and Hey’s you can’t help but sing along to!

“Burning Oak” begins with a mix of lyrics and synths so catchy that the passing listener could mistake it for yet another indie-pop song. Yet, upon the entry of guitar riffs eminent of Death Cab for Cutie and a rhythm that carries more than just a dance-beat, the EP’s second song breaks out of the genre’s inherit pitfalls. Instead of relying on an insistent chorus to carry the track, COHO waits until the eventual bridge to make a clear lyrical impact:

All my bones are older in the December

They repeat ad naseum, a series of instrumental and vocal layers adding to the intensity of the climax. A full instrumental breakdown fills the majority of the song’s ending moments, until a final repeat of the chorus cooly ends the first half of the release.

The second half of the EP is calmer than the first – its final tracks, “Disintegrate” and “Graves,” following a slower tempo than that of the first two. Filled with lyrical excellence, “Disintegrate” is a vocal-heavy song. Each instrument and vocal harmony follows the lead of a single female vocalist – the synthesizer carrying the spaces in-between. Simply and succinctly (4:05 is the track length, the shortest on the release), COHO paints a hopeful future for the human cycle of change. “Disintegrate,” the track ends, “if you have lost your love don’t lose your faith / disintegrate and wash away / the memories.”

Chitter-chatter fills the air and a solo bass-line fills the soundscape. The EP’s title track starts out strong – the first minute flying by as each new instrument adds to the last. The two main vocalists work together perfectly, their powerful voices strongly contrasting the easy-going percussion. Repeating their soothingly complex layers of lyrics like those that filled the end of “Burning Oak,” COHO finds synchronicity within their seemingly endless mix of sounds.

The band plays together beautifully and the Graves EP displays this prowess. If you were lucky enough to catch the EP Release show at BARBOZA last weekend, I envy you. Now, more than ever, I am excited to see how this new mix of diverse talent and sound plays out in the future!

Stay up to date by following COHO on Facebook and Twitter. And be sure to check out their Bandcamp, Instagram, and Website (where you can buy the EP for $5)!

Show Review: Jessica Lea Mayfield Rocks the Croc

image
An audience member stares wistfully at a television screen, modified to display “Evening Bell”

Above the restless crowd, Evening Bell entered the stage. Each of them brandishing their instrument of expertise, duo Hart Kingsbery and Caitlin Sherman stood confidently in front of drummer Jason Merculief and bassist Aaron Harmonson. The band picked up as the lights came on, harmonies ringing out over the Crocodile’s killer sound system!

Simple and sweet, the singers took turns leading us in song. Kingsbery’s guitar pierced through the air like jet streams in a clear blue sky while Sherman’s voice blended into the tone of her keyboard. The combination of her instrument and vocals created a clear contrast to the guitar’s distinct wavy-ness. Meanwhile, the keyboard’s piano-like tone generated a Jazzy demeanor above the Country-Western vibe.

Each song would begin with a guitar or piano riff, the sound of which would result in a cheer from the audience as they recognized their favorite tracks from this local band. While we sang and danced along to the frontmen, Merculief and Harmonson rocked out subtly from behind. Harmonson sported a cowboy hat and a big red bow tie, he smiled as his rhythms echoed through the small concert venue. Throughout the set, Merculief moved us through the various styles of music. His most amazing moments, however, stood out during keyboard and guitar solos. His beats reverberated below the dynamic synths and riffs, providing a solid basis for Sherman and her voice. Long instrumental moments also showcased the drums as they shifted in and out of focus.

image

Evening Bell plays another hometown country duet

“Thank you so much for listening,” Sherman closed the show through a smile. “That was fun!” Kingsbury added. We cheered as they grabbed their television and left the stage.

As we waited for the headliner, the fog grew thicker and thicker. Seen through the haze, Jessica Lea Mayfield grabbed one of her five guitars and plugged it into her smorgasbord of pedals. Reverberating and intense, her guitar joined in with the bass until the entire band built to intensity. All the while, drummer Matt Martin, wearing a tattered collared shirt and drums, remained relaxed yet determined.

As the instrument turned up, Jesse Newport’s bass became distorted under Mayfield’s ever present guitar – her arpeggios ringing out between lamenting lyrics. They drew us in with inconsistent rhythm, possessing the presence of a poetry slam and the power of an arena show. Beneath her echoing voice, the three musicians rocked out to every chord progression under the sun.  

Their tone and musical expertise fit Seattle’s sound like an old glass slipper – their presentation like Nirvana if Kurt Cobain owned a pair of sparkly boots. 

image

Jessica Lea Mayfield “and band” start off with a bang!

They played three songs in a row, each leading straight into the next. As a song would end the drums and bass would slow down on Mayfield’s cue. Turning around, she would play in tandem with her band – all three of them looking intensely at one another. As the last song fell to a silence, Martin and Newport quietly exited the stage.

“I’m gonna do a song by myself. It’s called ‘Party Drugs.’ It’s off my new record.” After explaining the origin to the song, she started back into the entrancing mix of guitar and vocals – sans bass and drums. A little more controlled, the solo song showed off Mayfield’s artistic control, manipulating the reverberation of her voice and guitar, relying on every resonating note to carry into the next.

After that song, the band joined Mayfield back on stage. She complimented the gentleman in the front for being so polite and, taking off her jacket and adorning another guitar, she amazed us as the lights reflected off her guitar strap and bright green eyes. Looking towards the audience, she saw through us all as we watched her emotions fly out above us.

After playing a new song called, “Seeing Stars,” Mayfield introduced Jesse Newport as her husband. As we cooed and Jesse picked up his guitar, Jessica lifted her head slightly to introduce the next song, “this is the first screwed up love song I wrote about him.” We laughed and cheered as we breathed the whiffs of red bull and vodka – a staple scent of the Crocodile dance floor. The lighting changed and Jessica’s melancholy lyrics picked up again with a song she couldn’t help but smile about. The two guitars layered themselves perfectly as Mayfield’s slow strokes accented Newport’s quick and rhythmic strums. “You’ve got a stranglehold on my heart,” she sang as she cleverly depicted the hardships of new relationships and their unforeseeable potential.

image

Grunge rock and sparkles. Jessica’s studded strap shines brightly through the haze

In the front row, Jessica pointed out a couple who she thought was being particularly cute. “Looks like you had a good valentines day,” she said. “I’m gonna ruin that,” she quickly added. After our laughs subsided, she explained the meaning of her next song. “I spent some time trying to plan my death but then I wondered if I had enough time to do all the things I needed to do around the house first.” We laughed. “And that was enough time to write down a song about how ridiculous that was”

The music grew louder and the audience’s smiling and blushing diminished to head bobbing. The husband and wife stepped closer to one another, their instruments almost touching as they continued to play some “bummer shit,” as Mayfield later described. She played “I Can’t Lie To You” with her distorted black guitar. The guitar and bass shouted every note as each doubled the melody. The band broke into our consciousness with their impeccable song writing ability – each moment providing a dramatic contrast in sound from the last. The drums provided a segue between these distinct moments with their ability to move from loud to quiet with just one gradual cymbal.

After the song appeared to end – a short applause had followed – Jessica’s guitar tears through the speakers. The music picks up and continues until we’re begging for more. Unfortunately, there was only time for one more. The band played their last song, “No Fun” – their musical ability never faltering. The guitar seemed to have control over bass and drums, as each remained in sync with the Mayfield’s rhythm. The song ended cutely and cleanly as the musical married couple kissed during the last guitar solo.

In a true Valentine’s Day spirit, Jessica invited the cute couple she had previously called out up onto the stage. Nervously, the drunk audience members pulled themselves out of the crowed and joined Mayfield in the spotlight. She asked if they knew the words and the women nodded furiously in response. As the song began, however, it became obvious that her date may have forgotten a few lyrics. Mouth closed, he danced silently around the stage – at one point approaching the drums with a smirk, only to walk away sheepishly as the song subsided.

image
image

Two excited audience members dance and sing along on stage for the encore performance

Through our laughs, Jessica closed the show. She even stayed around for a bit to drink with the crowd! Be sure to check out her website for new music, tour updates, and more!

image
DJ Desman

Outlander in the Emerald City: Record Store Tour Part I

For as long as I can remember, each time I would travel to a new city I would automatically be able to rate its “coolness” factor by the amount of record stores were housed in its depths.  Thankfully for us music lovers, Seattle is teeming with a variety of shops of this nature, and I’ve decided to compile a list of my favorites from various neighborhoods.  

image

For the first installment, I’m focusing on Sonic Boom Records.
For indie rock lovers especially, Sonic Boom on Market St. in Ballard is a necessary spot to check out frequently.  It is large enough to house an insane amount of music without reaching the size that can cause copious amounts of stress to those of us who often spend hours browsing for our favorite albums. It’s organized into the (new and used) vinyl section on the left side of the store, with the (new and used) CD section found on the right. 

The 45" singles section is always full of random-yet-awesome singles and splits. The local music section is one of my favorite aspects of Sonic Boom. Set up in the very front of the store, one is able to find a menagerie of old and new releases from artists originating from the greater Seattle area, including (but not limited to) samplings from Olympia-based K Records, Sub Pop, and many others. For those of you into music other than indie/alternative rock, Sonic Boom’s jazz, R&B, reggae, and world music sections are well-stocked, although it’s safe to say Sonic Boom’s main attraction is of the indie variety. 

Albums and CDs are very reasonably priced ($15-$25 for a new record, $10 $15 for a new CD). The staff is super friendly and knowledgeable about the music selection. A final perk: Sonic Boom often holds live local artist showcases on Saturdays!  Easily one of my favorite record stores in Seattle by far, make sure to give Sonic Boom a chance if you haven’t already.

image
Katie Hanford

Outlander in the Emerald City: MegaFlora Records (my Hometown Heroes)

image

I am sure I am not alone in saying the few weeks of winter break gave us some much needed time away from the hustle and bustle of UW life and a return to the relaxed comfort of home.  For many, home resides somewhere within Washington state or its surrounding areas; however, for a small number of us, going “home” meant traveling thousands of miles to a distant land, where culture and customs are quite different from those in Seattle.  For myself, home is a small town outside of Philadelphia called West Chester.  During my high school years I was lucky enough to be a part of WC’s small but mighty music scene, catering to a diverse set of genres that included (but was not limited to) indie/garage rock, hip hop, electronica, and a multitude of singer-songwriters.  When I was involved, the scene was kicking but remained primarily localized due to the lack of a cohesive entity to bring us all together and display us to the public.  I always thought some sort of, I don’t know, record label would do the trick.

Well, my dreams have finally been realized – two buddies of mine, Branden Bauer (of the Absolute Sky) and Ian Solonsky (Is the Rapper) have decided to put together MegaFlora Records, a compilation of the best talents hailing from West Chester and the greater Philadelphia area.  MegaFlora’s catalog is a fitting representation of the diversity of the WC scene itself, featuring indie rockers such as The Absolute Sky, the classic hip-hop styling of Is the Rapper, the poppy (and somewhat off-kilter) electronic ramblings of Pleb Mahogany, and many, many more.  It’s a rare and beautiful thing to see the talented musicians you know and love successfully promoting their own music, and an even greater feat when a number of them decide to collaborate for the common good of their musical careers.  If you dig getting in on the “ground floor” of a scene, MegaFlora is guaranteed to have something that fits your taste, coming at you in a localized, fresh package.  

Below are a few of my favorite tracks from MegaFlora’s most recent release, the Garden Showcase compilation.  Although I honestly dig the whole album and highly recommend checking it out in its entirety, I feel these tracks display the diversity of MegaFlora’s catalogue quite nicely (and also just kick ass).  Check out MegaFlora’s Facebook and bandcamp for more information!  Happy listening 🙂

image

line leader – “East Coast Beach Ghost”: Lo-fi lovers rejoice, this surf-rocky tune by West Chester natives line leader shows those west coast beach bums that us east coasters know a thing or two about the beach, damnit.  With its darker, fuzzy twist, this track would make Ty Segall proud.

image

Jason McCue – “Come to Me”: This song makes me melt.  Jason’s voice weaves in and out of the spacey acoustic pickings with the precision of a needle through fabric, while his beautiful lyrics paint pictures in your brain.  Although elements of the tune carry an Elliott Smith influence, the feeling of chills running up your spine when that three-part harmony kicks in is only something a Jason McCue original could make you feel. 

Is the Rapper  “Arcade” (feat. Pleb Mahogany): Featuring a menagerie of classic video arcade bleeps and bloops, frequent collaborators (Is) and Cameron (Pleb Mahogany) combine forces to bring you a hip hop track that is equal parts innovative, nostalgic (who doesn’t love arcade noises?), and tight as shit.  These clever fellows are guaranteed to show you a good time.

image
Katie Hanford