This Tuesday, May 16, Gabriel Garzon-Montano is performing at The Crocodile in Belltown. Gabriel Garzon-Montano’s Jardin, released early this year, intricately melds together notes of soul, pop, hip-hop, and funk, ultimately creating a vibrant sound owned solely by him. Hailing originally from Brooklyn, Garzon-Montano’s interest in music was sparked in childhood by his mother, a musician in the Philip Glass Ensemble during the ‘90s. Though most commonly recognized as the creator of the sample featured in Drake’s Jungle (check out his original Six Eight), Garzon-Montano is so much more than that. Weaving together bright funk notes and unlikely time signatures, Garzon-Montano’s Jardin is a powerful collection of music that insights both introspection and pure dancing fun and will undoubtedly be a memorable experience live.
Last week’s battle of the bands brought four groups head-to-head for a chance to perform at Rainy Dawg Radio’s 14th annual Birthday Fest. Don, a future bounce group, came out on top and opened for Kero Kero Bonito on Tuesday.
The band includes lead vocalist Stefán Kubeja, bass player and vocalist Phinehas Nyang’Oro, drummer Bobby Jimmi, synth player Daniel Salka, and keyboardist Ori Levari. Stefán, Daniel, and Ori are all UW students.
I interviewed Don before the show on Tuesday about how they got started, how their jazz backgrounds influence their current work, and what’s next. Some responses have been shortened for clarity.
How did you get started?
Stefán: Originally it was just Daniel and me. We used to just play music together. Then we went through a big series of lineup changes until we met Phinehas. Phinehas stuck with us, and Phinehas introduced us to Bobby Jimmi, because they knew each other from playing in jams. We played a gig, and we felt like it worked, so we just stuck together. Ori was actually a replacement because Daniel couldn’t make Battle of the Bands, so we called him. And now he’s officially in the band. This is his second gig with us.
How did it feel to play your first show with Don at the Birthday Battle?
Ori: It was great. It was fun. I’ve always wanted to play this kind of music, and it’s cool to have that opportunity. I play a lot of jazz, which is fun in its own right, but hip-hop is pretty cool.
Stefán: Everyone has a jazz background except for me and Bobby Jimmi. So we take a lot of influence from the Seattle jazz scene.
What was it like switching from jazz to this style of music?
Ori: It’s cool to have jazz influences in my playing, at least for this group. I think it lends itself really well to having jazz influences. But I see them as being pretty similar, to be honest. It didn’t seem like a very big jump.
Phinehas: I’m from North Carolina, so I was already doing stuff like this in high school. I moved to France, so they weren’t doing this type of hip hop. I’m just happy to be in Seattle, where they’re giving me a little bit of what I used to do back home.
How did it feel to win Birthday Battle?
Stefán: It was cool. Everyone was sitting there, and we were all watching the numbers go up. Phinehas was like, ‘Yes!’ when we got a vote, and then when we got passed, he was like, ‘No!’ They ended up having people vote on the way out, so by the time we got informed that we won, it was just us and the people running the event. So we got to have our own little celebration. We’re psyched.
What are you looking forward to about tonight?
Stefán: I think there are a lot of people who saw us perform at the battle and are excited to see us tonight. I’m excited to have some fun and perform in front of the people who really like us.
Phinehas: I just want to be thankful for being able to play this music in front of an audience. I hope that I can give them something of satisfaction.
Bobby Jimmi: I get my energy from the crowd. If they’re dead, I’m going to be dead.
Ori: I’m just excited to play for a full house. It should have good energy.
How do you balance being a UW student and being in a band?
Stefán: People say it’s hard, but it’s not really that hard. I can speak for all of us when I say that, beyond school, what we do is music. We just make time for it. Maybe we don’t go to parties or we don’t chill with frats. Instead, we’re doing music. I don’t find it to be that difficult. I find it to be kind of natural. It’s like work and play.
What’s next for you guys?
Stefán: We’re in the studio right now, recording our debut, which is coming out June 1. We hope to do a West Coast tour come August. Beyond that, who knows. After this show, just having more fun, doing everything we can. Being grateful, being thankful. Sharing energy, receiving energy.
Raleigh (like ballet) Ritchie (like Lionel) took fans by surprise when he announced the release of his new EP last November. The EP, Mind the Gap, was released on December 16th, 2016 and it’s devastatingly good. Raleigh Ritchie (real name Jacob Anderson) is newer to the music scene, having only just released his debut album You’re a Man Now, Boy earlier last year. Yet, he’s not an entirely unfamiliar face, fans of Game of Thrones might recognize him as Grey Worm, the leader of the unsullied. This is where I discovered him, looked him up one day because I thought he was cute and google let me know he had a few songs floating around at the time (thanks google). Gave one of his singles, “Bloodsport ’15”, a listen and I was instantly in love. It was fate. I’ve been a fan ever since and I am personally so stoked about the recent release of Mind the Gap which is what we are here to talk about.
Start listening while you read: click HERE to go to Mind the Gap on soundcloud!
This EP is an organized clusterfuck of self-deprecation and heartbreak mixed with upbeat instrumental and fast paced lyrics, producing a fantastically odd dichotomy of feelings. The album has a sound that feels derived from R&B but somewhere along the lines it picked up heavy pop influences, with a light peppering of the occasional rap or spoken word. It’s not too much of a departure from his debut album (which I HIGHLY recommend you listen to), there’s a lot of similarities between the two pieces. Raleigh even said himself that he felt the EP was more of a bridge between his debut album and the next, rather than a totally independent piece. I won’t quote him on that because it was in a tweet from a few months back that I won’t even bother to search for. He tweets a lot. (One time, he favorited my tweet – but that’s a story for another time).
Something I love about the sound of this album is the deeper electronic feel with the background vocals. You’re a Man Now, Boy was very flowly and floaty in the background vocals – almost choir-like. Almost fantastical. Whereas Mind the Gap is mostly background vocals that are tuned bytes of Ritchie singing drawn out “ahs” or “ohs” (excuse my inability to quantify music). The subtle electronic qualities are pretty much thrown in your face in the first track off the album Motions, which begins with a brief audio of a Robot fight/break-up. We hear two Siri-esque voices argue about how they feel about each other, resulting in the end of their robot relationship. This persists through the song with brief one liners from either robot voice. It’s pretty rad, if I do say so myself.
Mind the Gap totals 5 songs: “Motions”, “Sicko”, “Liability”, “StraitJacket”, and “Unicron Love” (don’t ask me why its spelled like that – I have no idea). Each song is unique, but they all flow very well together. My favorite example of this is the transition between “Motions” and “Sicko”; “Motions” ends with the Male robot saying “I love you”, only to have the female reply “I know, but you are sick” – and then sicko immediately begins with “Maybe I’m just sick”. Hell yeah. Well, I mean, that’s pretty sad and heartbreaking lyrically, but 10/10 transition. Speaking of lyrics, Ritchie gives the listener a lot to think about as far as sanity and heartbreak go. “Motions” and “Unicron Love” both focus on two different sides of a relationship. Since we know that Motions isn’t the brightest view on love, we can probably guess how “Unicron Love” portrays it.
“Sicko”, “Liability”, and “StraitJacket” all focus more on an introspective view. “Sicko” plays off “Motions” and outlines the chaos of a mind trying to diagnose an internal sickness. There’s a lot of self-doubt and confusion present in the lyrics of this song, ending in the simple conclusion of “Maybe I’m just sick”. Liability is all about feeling bad for yourself. The musical composition of this song is diverse and beautiful, it ranges from flowy and floaty (both technical terms) to harsh and brittle (if that’s a word people use for describing music). The song feels like it’s been written out of a place of anger and defeat, it screams “why me?!”. I’m a sucker for this song, self-pity, now that’s something I can rock to. The song ends with a beautiful, whispered, “oh, fuck off” directly at his own thoughts.
Now, we arrive at “StraitJacket”, my favorite track off the album – this one is just an Ode to Mania, a sweet sweet embrace of the craziness that is our mind. It’s a fast paced, rollercoaster of a song, and there are no seatbelts. Every time you think you’ve reached the climax (not sexual) of the song, you find yourself surprised by even more faced paced energy. At the real, destructive, climax (might be a little sexual) of this song you can practically feel Ritchie screaming in your face. It also showcases one of the best things about Ritchie’s music; his sexy voice and crazy good spoken word influenced rap style. The song ends with a jarringly slow verse of spoken word that asks the listener if any of us (especially Ritchie) are sane; “Fight amongst the foot soldiers, but the war is in my mind”. Not only is the song super fucking cool, there’s a super fucking cool music video that accompanies it. Check it below, it really adds to the song and shows what Ritchie is trying to say with it (basically, that he’s just crazy).
This EP is phenomenal, and you bet I’ll be listening to it pretty much once a day. The title of the EP (Mind the Gap, if you somehow forgot) is really validated by the content of the songs. It’s about watching out for the mental leap in logic from sanity to insanity, it’s fitting for how much attention the tracks give to being not-so-sane. Raleigh Ritchie is an amazing and talented new artist that deserves a lot more attention than he gets. On the plus side, he’s so unknown that he’ll favorite/retweet your tweets if you tweet at him. But seriously, check him out, between the amazing album art, magically sexy vocals, and make-you-think lyrics there’s nothing not to love. Make sure to check out not only the Mind the Gap EP, but also his debut album You’re a Man Now, Boy! Thanks for reading, I’ll see you back here next week for the rediscovery of Sir Sly.
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.
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.
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.
There was nothing like soul-infused Tuesday night when Jacob Bankshit 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 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.”
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.
PSA for all you dance and disco lovers: last month, Tuxedo quietly released new EP Fux with the Tux. The sharply-dressed duo of soul singer Mayer Hawthorne and Seattle hip hop producer Jake One seems to be riding the wave of 70s/80s revival in pop music. Many artists like Daft Punk and Bruno Marks have struck a balance between retro and fresh, and I think you’ll find that Tuxedo also fits into this category quite nicely. As with many throwback artists, Tuxedo’s long list of influences includes artists like Chic and Cameo, in addition to boogie, hip hop, and electronic music.
Fux with the Tux packs plenty of funk in only 10 minutes. The EP kicks off with its title track, jumping straight into a catchy beat and groovy synths. This song plays off of vocals from both Mayer Hawthorne and Jake One. Although a bit repetitive, it’s still a well-done cross between old-school funk and newer hip hop.
“Special” rolls in with more prominent percussion than the previous track. I love the bass in this song, and the vocal harmonies are a great highlight. If you liked Bruno Mars’ “Chunky", you’ll like this one. (I would also make the claim that “Special” is perhaps a classier(?) take on Mars’ message in “Chunky”.)
In its final song, the EP winds down with smooth slow jam “July”. The horns in the chorus are a great touch, and the background female vocals nicely accent Mayer Hawthorne’s crooning words.
Tuxedo is expected to release a full-length album later this year. Keep an eye out.
This past Wednesday at the Crocodile saw Cherry Glazerr come through, touring in support of their sophomore LP, Apocalipstick, along with fellow Angelenos Slow Hollows. The dingy Crocodile Cafe was a good fit for the night, especially for the headliner, with Clem Creevy feeding off the dirty energy of the place with some dirty energy of her own. The show promised to be energetic, eccentric, and distinctly feminine, and it delivered on all accounts in spades.
Openers Slow Hollows started things off in a quiet, contemplative mood. Merging some twinkly guitar leads of the current emo wave with a very post-punk feel, the quintet did a great job as the opener: they were a very well put together act, but they hardly tried to steal the show. The five college boys stood mostly still on stage, with an energy that was very understated but quietly snuck up on you. The guys from Slow Hollow may almost look asleep from time to time, but if you let it lull you to sleep then you’ll get shaken awake by some very sneaky musical climaxes. Standout tracks from the set were “Luxury of Lull” and “Last Dance” from their 2016 album, Romantic.
Though from the same city of origin, Slow Hollows could hardly be more different from Cherry Glazerr. After the openers left the stage, crew members and some of the headlining band came out to set up their equipment. And their stage decorations. Which I didn’t really notice until right before they stepped onto the stage. Which were vaginas.
This set a clear tone for the rest of the set: this is a show by women, for women. Not to say non-women couldn’t enjoy the show, but it was clear from the start that this was a female show. So when frontwoman Clem Creevy introduced a song with “This song is about period blood and being on your period, and that’s awesome!” I wasn’t really all that surprised. This is a band that has never shied away from its femininity, and they weren’t about to start now.
The set started weird and ended weird. With her bassist, drummer, and synth player all onstage, awaiting her arrival, Creevy came out swinging. Literally. She swayed on stage in the middle of a wall of noise, swaying wildly and flailing her arms in all directions. And thus began the set. A healthy mix of old and new, the show was a very good one. Creevy made sure to acknowledge her grungy influences from Apocalipstick (the encore was a cover of Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings,” which also served to energize the hell out of the Seattleite crowd), and also made sure that those influences didn’t ruin the garage-rockiness of some of previous work. “Grilled Cheese” and “Trick or Treat Dancefloor” fit perfectly along with newcomers “Told You I’d Be with the Guys” and “Only Kid on the Block”. And all the while, Creevy and bandmate Sasami Ashworth injected a bit of light humor into the set with their banter between songs.
Overall, I thought the show was very satisfying. Slow Hollows were a very good, very lowkey opener, who set the stage perfectly for Cherry Glazerr’s jagged vocals and sharp riffs to cut through straight to the audience. If I heard these two were touring together again, I’d snap up my tickets early.
On Saturday night, I set out to see Grammy winner and
creator of the best soundtrack of all time, Kimya Dawson at a benefit for local nonprofit, Skate Like a Girl. When I found out this event was happening, how
could I not go? Local bands, Kimya Dawson, and a cause for empowering young
women? Sign me up.
This was my first time at The Vera Project and my first time seeing a pop up skate park
outside the doors of a concert venue. Inside, the chill skate atmosphere
continued with the first opener, Fine
Prince. Their sound was diverse and with six members, several instruments
and voices came together. They only have one EP out, but it’s a good
introduction to new, local music. Next up was the opener that left the biggest
impact on me, Acapulco Lips. This
band had the best stage presence of all. They have a beachy, vintage sound that
made me feel like I hadn’t just walked three blocks in the rain, but was in
sunny, Southern California. Definitely check them out when you can.
act before Kimya was a third Seattle band, Wimps.
They were the punkiest of the three and incited the first and last mosh pit of
the night. They had a good energy that made it easy to dance to as their songs
ranged from topics such as “being fruuuuuustrated”, “procrastination”, and “being
a caveman… maybe it’s a metaphor, maybe not”.
Finally, Kimya was up. She
entered like the humble angel she is and sat down, just her and her guitar. She
invited everyone to sit down also, and because the majority of the crowd was
there for her, we did. And we stayed sitting the entire time as she talked and
sang to us like old friends about a variety of topics. She delved into why she
feels so betrayed that Mariah Carey is opening for her celebrity crush, Lionel
Richie, as well as politics and trauma. Overall, it was an emotional,
extremely intimate set that I feel extremely lucky to have seen.
The benefit was an amazing experience, although one of the
most unique line ups I’ve ever witnessed. I didn’t expect to be nearly pulled
into the pit and sit cross-legged among the same crowd in one night, but it
happened. I highly recommend getting out there and supporting local music and
Skate Like a Girl if you can.
Father John Misty,
a.k.a. Josh Tillman released not only a new single this month, but a 25-minute
film to accompany it. “Pure Comedy” is the first song off his upcoming album of
the same name, slated for release April 7 of this year. This is his first
release since I Love You, Honeybear
from February 2015. It appears that the same ironic, satirical lyrics that
appeared on Honeybear aren’t leaving
any time soon. “Pure Comedy” is reminiscent of “Bored in the USA” from Honeybear, which utilized a laugh track
to drive home the satire. If you haven’t picked up on the irony Tillman
masterfully employs, “Pure Comedy” gives another example of the satirical
Father John Misty. In the accompanying black and white film, also titled Pure Comedy, Tillman teases additional
songs off his upcoming album. The video is bizarre, eclectic, and extremely
surreal. For sneak peeks at new material and to see a joyous Tillman directing
a church choir, it’s worth the lengthy 25-minute timestamp. The new single
features Tillman’s crooning vocals and melancholy piano, so while titled “Pure
Comedy”, it’s made clear that Tillman isn’t laughing. You can listen to the new
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.
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 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.
Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Aminéhas 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.
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. Kaiydois 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 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.”