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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Last weekend, The Suffers performed live at The Crocodile. If you weren’t able to make it, here’s what you missed.
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.
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.
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.
Coming all the way from Houston, Texas, The Sufferswill be performing live at The Crocodile this Saturday, November 12th, at 8:00 PM. Get excited, because these soulsters do it like no other. They call themselves a “Gulf Coast Soul” band, combining soul with reggae, South American, and jazz influences. The result is beautiful. It’s a seamless blend of genres that doesn’t fit in any one box. It also perfectly reflects the diversity of band, which includes a Latin percussionist, a classically trained saxophonist, a jazz drummer, and a gospel singer.
In their self-titled 2016 debut, The Suffers tastefully arrange each section of their 10-piece ensemble alongside the powerful vocals of Kam Franklin. Her captivating voice is so warm and rich, and I can’t wait to hear it fill the room this weekend. For first-time listeners, I recommend “Giver” (below). Other notable tracks include “Make Some Room” and “Gwan”, which was performed on The Late Show with David Letterman.
Even if soul isn’t your thing, I hope you all can “Make Some Room” in your busy schedules to enjoy these fabulously soulful Texans. It’s going to be a good time.
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.
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, Phase, released 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
“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
“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.”