Back from the Dead: New Crystal Castles

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October 8, 2014 was a dark day for Crystal Castles fans. Stories with titles such as “Crystal Castles call it quits” saturated our newsfeeds as we sat in a corner wailing along with Not In Love and Vanished while eating copious amounts of ice cream.

No? Just Me? Okay.

Anyway, the pure despair beset upon me by the reports of Crystal Castles’ demise served only to enhance the state of pure bliss I was in the morning of April 16 when I awoke to a passive aggressive message from Ethan Kath accompanied by a Soundcloud link.

The message yielded a response from Alice Glass the next day and Kath later redacted most of the passive aggression, but that drama isn’t what’s important. There’s new Crystal Castles!

The track is called Frail and it’s signature Crystal Castles. It’s heavily distorted and is one of those tracks that melds into the background perfectly when doing anything to a beat, with just enough vocals to give you something to key into without drawing too much away from the instrumentals.

Speaking of the vocals, those on Frail are provided by someone referred to only as “Edith”. Though, they’re virtually indistinguishable from Alice Glass’ due in large part to abundant distortion.

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Overall, it’s a solid track, but it doesn’t stand out too much when compared to the rest of their discography. You can listen to it on Crystal Castles’ Soundcloud, linked above.

With Ethan Kath releasing new music under the Crystal Castles moniker and Alice Glass set to release new music in the coming months, it’s an exciting time for Crystal Castles fans. Only time will tell if their split was better for listeners or not.

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Garrett M

Artist Spotlight: LIZ

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If
Y2K nostalgia could be captured in in an artist’s sound, that artist would be
LIZ. A valley girl hailing from Tarzana, California, her sound and style
represent the aesthetic of the Y2K R&B generation. Think Sailor Moon
R&B, Hello Kitty aesthetic, kissing on the high school bleachers, unicorns
riding on rainbows, and trying to dance in an over-sized jersey. And that would
be LIZ.

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Signed
to Diplo’s label “Mad Decent,” LIZ has already released a string of singles and
even an EP (“Just Like You”). The latter is a cozy collection of colorful tracks
that range from representing a generation (“Y2K”) to being cautious about a
love (“Do I Like You”), with songs about pondering “what if” situations (“Say
You Would”) strewn in between. Even songs outside of her EP, such as “Hush” and
“You Over Them” all undoubtedly come from the same mentality, one of an R&B
princess cooing vocals wrapped in the warm productions of yesteryear.

LIZ
is currently offering the EP above for free download on her Facebook, and a few
other singles can be downloaded from her Soundcloud.

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Alexander Bonilla

True love? It’s Taylor Berrett

It’s been rough lately, and honestly I should be writing a paper, but I’d rather write about music, so let’s just procrastinate together.

I’ve fallen in love, recently. It’s that time of year, you know? And I realize that I fall in love quite often, I’m a romantic, but this guy is worth it, I’m telling you.

Let’s meet Taylor Berrett.

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As I write this, I literally can feel myself become giddy,it’s almost unreal. It’s crazy. Is this how love feels?

Okay, so this is actually really strange because I first
discovered Berrett a couple of months ago when I went to an Alex Clare show at Neptune Theatre (remember that show
preview?). He was the opener, and I remember, at the time thinking, “He’s good,
young, but this kid’s got it.” I took a couple photos, swore he was going to go
far, and then just vaguely forgot about him. Here’s a photo of him performing,
he’s a pretty rad guy.

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But anyway, then I followed him on Facebook, just for news
updates and slowly Berrett began to come out with more of his own music. When he
performed a couple of months ago, he had a couple of his songs, so I knew he
could write, but I was basing his vocal ability off his Beatles covers.

So I knew this kid has talent.

It’s a little crazy I’m reviewing
this guy so soon because his debut album doesn’t even come out for another two
weeks, but the tracks and the EP that he has out now are just too good to not
talk about, and I expertly assume they will be on his debut album.

But let’s talk about my favorite
tracks first, which aren’t on his 2012 EP Anchor
Chasing
. “Those Days,” a track that he just released this year, starts off
just the way I like it: with some finger snaps, simple acoustic harmonies, and a raw,
beautiful voice.

The rhythm on this track is so brilliant and the lyricism that
this man has is so natural, I am reminded of singer-songwriter (and one of my
favorite musicians) Kris Allen. We
start off easy with “Slow down, turn around/Tell me what’s tearing your heart
out baby,” building up the main chorus “Everybody has, everybody has those
days/ Feeling like an ocean, having trouble making waves.” As we build up to
the chorus, we get a little trumpet and sax into the mix, and my heart drops into
my stomach. Then bam, xylophone, and the world just stops.

It’s this perfect mix of acoustic
folk with jazz and it just feels easy
you know? You get the feel of just chilling on the beach with this guy,
drinking some margaritas, with a guitar and a guy playing saxophone in the
background. When we get to the sax solo, you know Taylor Berrett is a classy
musician and not one to be reckoned with. He knows instrumental composition,
and he knows it well.

Okay, so now for my absolute favorite
track that he has out so far. “The Heat,” a track that he released,also, just a
couple months ago is just a game changer.

It’s a little more upbeat, but it’s probably, and this may be a stretch, a
track that I would say is one of the best new singles I’ve heard this year.  He starts drumming out some awesome beats,
leading in with some great vocals that just has excellent rhythm and a sense
of, once again, jazz and blues. Listen to the part when he sings his chorus, “Got
no place that I can go/ Got no money to my name/ Got no scars that I show/ Got no
bad luck I can blame.” The way he weights his vocals rhythmically is not just
catchy. It’s brilliant. The electric guitar mixed with his drummer is all so
cohesively in sync with his vocals, that you would almost expect Berrett to be
someone who’s been in the business for years. Taylor Berrett labels himself as acoustic pop,
and definitely, I can see why he would want to brand himself that way; he wants
to be commercial. But don’t let that fool you, this guy knows solid blues. He
knows solid jazz. He is catchy, but he is skilled and talented. You see it in
the last track I discussed, you see it in the bridge of this track when he
sings “They say man take it easy, enjoy it while you’re free/ I said the heat I
can stand is, is standing still against me.”

And the acoustic version is even
better. Here’s a look.

This voice. Please. There is
control, there is great tone, there is great pitch, and there is just a
beautiful sound.

When I listen to this guy, a smile
forms on my face. Is this what love feels like?

Maybe it’s the combination of the fact
that I’ve seen this guy start it out live, and then have listened to his more
matured singles, and maybe it’s the fact that I know he is the real deal
because I have seen him sing. I’m not
sure. But this is probably my favorite artist
to review thus far, and I love a lot of musicians.

But anyone, one more, let’s talk.

Let’s take it back two years, to another
track, also not on his EP. I like his EP, and we’ll get there, don’t worry. But,
honestly? I really just dig these tracks that he chooses not to publicize as
much. They’re rad. “Fair Warning,” takes it back a little bit more to his folk
roots, but he still rocks it, like usual.

You get this banjo, tambourine, campy
feel, but once again, his lyricism of, “Call me the wanderer/ Write me away/ I’ll
be the mountain you cannot escape,” never fails. This a track I’m pointing out
just to emphasize Berrett’s versatility as an artist. I’m sorry, but I don’t
care how campfire folk he gets, the man has vocals and the man can write. And
why is it surprising? This 22-year old singer from Virginia started writing songs at age 13,
so he’s had plenty of practice.

Quick note on his EP, Anchor Chasing, because I feel like I
should comment. It’s alright; I’m not trying to disregard his first published
accomplishment. Style wise, it’s more lowkey than the other tracks I’ve talked
about, simple. When you listen to it, you can hear in his voice that he still
very much new, and hey this is an EP from two years ago, so it’s
understandable. We all mature as artists.

Of the five tracks on the EP,
there are only two that I truly love and know will make it to his full length
album. “Whole Heart” is definitely a track I love best and a song I think
Berrett is exceptionally proud of especially since he keeps promoting it. It’s
full of those beautiful piano melodies that you all know I love, so points
right there. It’s two years old, but I think this is a solid original
composition of his, and personally, I’m proud. “Pomegranate Sky,” another great
one on his EP is dreamy and acoustic, but solid with some violin and piano in
the background. You feel relaxed listening to this. You have to let his voice just
take you away, and he does, successfully.

By the way, please, please, check out all his music on his soundcloud here!

All in all, this man is going to
top charts. I’m not predicting that, I’m guaranteeing it. He knows what he’s doing,
and seeing as he is already signed to Warner Brothers, and seeing as his album is
about to be released mighty soon, it’s only a matter of time.

Ahhh, is this what love feels
like?

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Ariana Rivera

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

new track from a relatively new group: “Wasted” – Marian Hill

okay, so first off a little about Marian Hill. the electronic/pop/alternative/other cliche genre names for “i don’t quite know what to call them” duo consists of Jeremy Lloyd (production and writing) and Samantha Gongol (vocals and writing). the two are from Philadelphia, and have strong ties to Brooklyn. the two have a purely platonic history together; they’re 24 years old, and have been friends since 7th grade. even so, Marian Hill just started making music together last year.

and, they blew up. they were mentioned in Huffington Post’s 25 Artist’s You Need to Start Listening to in 2015, as well as having the top spot on HypeMachine for “Most Popular Tracks on Blogs Now” back in November.

their music is cool/interesting to me, because its got a bit of a blues/jazz influence, while having a some R&B-sounding vocals, electronic beats, a lot of clapping, and a fair amount of catchy repetition.  i got addicted to their music after listening to my *current* fave song by them, “Got It”, which i’ve provided for your listening pleasure: 

anyways, back to the reason for this post: the two just released a new song, called “Wasted”. it was released exclusively to Interview, so click here to listen.

i really like this song already. to be completely honest, I’ve had it on repeat for the past hour or so. her voice is sweet but seductive; the beat is heavy at times, and at other times minimal. the lyrics are dope. “You would make my dreams come true/ I’ve already got em” … “Now you’re tripping over me/ I’m not here to hold you”. it’s definitely worth a listen.

however, WARNING: you might fall in love with their music. this is encouraged. if this is the case, keep your eye out for their EP coming out next week, Sway, and check out the stuff they already have out on bandcamp and soundcloud

just in case you really catch the Marian Hill fever, here’s their  facebook and  twitter. (10/10, would recommend catching)

xoxoxo

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-gnovs

New Track: prints_ – Ghosts

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In some ways, “Ghosts” is an appropriate name for the newest track by L.A. artists Carol Rhyu and Keil Corcoran, otherwise known as prints_. Rhyu’s whispery voice floats above ethereal synth lines, singing about being “lost inside this moment/no past, no future.” The dreamy keyboard textures are undergirded by a steady bass and skittering drums, keeping the track from drifting off into the spirit realm entirely. Still, it’s a fine track for those times when you feel like escaping from the real world for a few minutes.

“Ghosts” is the first new prints_ song in nearly two years, but that doesn’t mean the project’s members haven’t kept busy. Rhyu also makes music as White Blush, producing dark dream pop similar to that of prints_, and Corcoran is a member of the band STRFKR, who of course graced UW with their presence at last year’s ASUW Spring Show. You can listen to the rest of their collaborative tracks on Soundcloud (which are, sadly, limited in number) and check out the new video for their song “Wish” on YouTube.

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LeAnn Nguyen

Rad Report–come with me and join the Manatee Commune

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The music created by Manatee Commune is like a gust of wind that breathes life and energy into you as you walk down the street on a cold winter day  (similar to the ones we’ve been having in Seattle this last week). It’s the kind of music that exhales only positive vibes into anybody who takes a listen. When I first heard these beats I felt myself inhale a rush of emotions, which cannot be produced by anyone other than the incredible Grant Eadie—the creator and member of Manatee Commune. 

Described by Eadie himself as “chillwave, bedroom electronic, [and] rainy goodness,” Manatee Commune’s music is really unlike any other. There aren’t many artists producing such relaxing, yet intriguing types of music that can induce such an intense experience. The ethereal sounds within Eadie’s music bring out this feeling of awe that’s hard to describe, but is similar to the sensation of having climbed a mountain and having meditated on the summit. The idea of “the sublime” comes to mind, the concept of something completely awe-inspiring and stupendous—this is exactly how I feel when I play a song by Manatee Commune.

While definitely fitting into an electronic genre, I think of Eadie’s music as mostly experimental and trancelike. The most interesting and coolest part of many of these songs is that natural sounds are incorporated into them, which are definitely a reminder of the Pacific Northwest and Seattle specifically (where Eadie is from and currently resides). This gives the music a very relatable and homey feel to it that is applicable whether you’re on that grind studying for finals next week, or whether you’re trying to ease your mind and get some good sleep.

Although I feel like it’s remarkably easy to connect to Manatee Commune’s music through soundcloud and bandcamp, I’m really excited to be able to experience these rad rhythms live on December 3rd (tomorrow)! The show is actually FREE and is presented by our very own Rainy Dawg Radio in UW’s Ethnic Cultural Theater. I, myself, have yet to experience Manatee Commune live, and have heard that it’s an unbelievable experience. I hope to see you all there so we can enjoy the breathtaking work of this fantastic artist together. 

Album Review: Gem Jones – Admiral Frenchkiss

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Lo-fi pop doesn’t tend to be too rhythmic. The bedroom musicians who produce it tend to focus more on things like melody or atmosphere, since rhythm is probably harder to create with the limited production capabilities of a bedroom or whatever. If there’s anyone out there who’s starved for rhythm (also known as “groove” or “funk”) in the lo-fi world, don’t despair—Gem Jones can fulfill your need. The Iowa City producer’s latest release, Admiral Frenchkiss, grooves hard while still retaining a ragtag lo-fi charm.

Admiral Frenchkiss opens with “Black Lantern,” which combines jazzy brass with off-kilter synth effects. The combination sounds a little strange at first, but the track is nonetheless infectious with its energy. The same can be said for “Rock N Roll Dementia” and its soulful melodies. In both songs, the real star is the rhythm section: the drums and bass keep the melodies grooving along steadily. Things slow down a bit for the keyboard-driven “Shallow Rivers” (which, strangely enough, reminds me a bit of the “Waves” record from Nintendogs) and the laid-back “God in U.” Weirdness still creeps into these tracks, though—the meandering electronic sounds at the end of “God in U,” for example, elevates it from a straight reggae tribute to something more interesting. “Grimeshock” kicks things back into high gear with drums, bass, and synths once again powering away with a fierce rhythm. And finally, there’s “Ectomorphic Love,” a spacey ballad that sounds kind of like a love song from an alien. In fact, the whole album kind of sounds like it could’ve come from an alien, since I have no idea what Jones is singing the entire time. His voice ranges from falsettos recalling the days of classic soul to manic shouts reminiscent of Damo Suzuki. Rather than detracting from it, these vocals help to increase the weird appeal of the music.

With all the wild sounds present on Admiral Frenchkiss, it can be surprising to learn that Jones played all the instruments himself. It’s impressive that he managed to coordinate such controlled musical chaos on his own, and it’s an achievement worthy of commendation. So, you can reward Jones’ effort by buying Admiral Frenchkiss at his Bandcamp or getting it on cassette from Goaty Tapes. This is the kind of music that sounds good even when blasted out of a cheap old cassette deck—it might even sound better that way, actually.

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LeAnn Nguyen

“Sunday Candy”: something to be thankful for (New Song)

this thanksgiving, i am SO thankful for Chance the Rapper, Donnie Trumpet, Peter Cottontale, and Nate Fox.

the four, commonly known as The Social Experiment, dropped a song on November 25th, with help from Stix on drums, vocals from Jamila Woods, Jabari Rayford, Eryn Allen Kane, and Macie Stewart, J.P. Floyd on trombone, and Patrick Paige on the bass.

the track, named “Sunday Candy,” is a single from Social Experiment’s upcoming album Surf, set to be released before 2015. 

and, as i said earlier, if you were looking for things to be grateful for during this lovely holiday break, search no more. this song is a blessing. the vibrant and upbeat trumpet accompanies a soulful, smooth beat that makes you want to sing at the top of your lungs, probably in the shower, or at all times, whatever works. 

another reason to fall in love with this song is the lyrics. the first verse Chance the Rapper raps about how much his grandmother loves him and Taylor Bennett, his younger brother, because of everything she has done for them. 

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as if i’m not already madly in love with Chance

the second verse, Chance expresses how important his grandmother is to him. he says “I’m pessimistic on Monday if I had tweaked and missed you,” referring to the thought of skipping seeing her at church on Sunday. given how chance is relatively open about his skepticism towards religion/God, this speaks volumes to how much inspiration his grandmother provides. it’s just so cute, okay! Take a listen:

the song is about waiting to see someone that improves your day, your life, any aspect of yourself. its about cherishing the people who are important to you, which is so great to have on a day like today.

anyways, the song is awesomely put together, with so many contributions from so many great artists. Nico Segal (better known as Donnie Trumpet) is noted in The Fader as saying ”this song specifically is a great representation of [The Social Experiment’s] collaborative efforts. It’s my curation, but then bringing it to the table with all these beautiful people and including them in their own way. Jamila sang on that hook, then I brought it to the collective. Peter added some great layers of texture and helped produce, Nate added a bunch of drums, tons of our friends from Chicago played instruments and added their ideas.” 

everything about this song is feel-good, and the people involved are people that you can also feel good supporting. Nico Segal and Chancellor Bennett went to high school together, and have been making music together for years, like Zion released on Donnie Trumpet EP in July 2013 and Wasting Time released from Traphouse Rock EP in 2012. it’s amazing to see the two, and other Chicago natives, succeeding on a larger scale, and releasing an album together years later.

so now, i sit and wait for Surf.

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gnovs

New Video: Jesse Romo – The Beauty of One

Jazzy and slow, Jesse Romo, starts off his latest track, “The Beauty of One” with a casual collection of guitar and drums. As the vocals begin, a wave of relaxation washes through all the instruments at once. Although the music isn’t technically difficult, it does challenge the listener to take in the message that Jesse strives to convey. “It is about feeling lost and alone, having a spiritual experience, and coming to find connectedness with the Universe,” the artist shares in the description of the song’s music video:

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A compilation of various Yosemite and Joshua Tree time lapses accompany the song as it drifts through various states of calamity. Check out the music video on Facebook or in the stream above.

This track is decidedly different than the music that can be found in Romo’s previous releases. While mixtapes like Listen, Love (Epilogue) and Afterthoughts rely heavily on sample-based production around jazz and hip-hop, other projects like happykid vibes out like old school Nintendo. This single ushers the first time that Jesse’s voice has appeared on a track – needless to say, I am glad to hear it.

To explain the inspiration behind the song, Romo states:

I started writing this song last summer, during a difficult couple of months in my life. Facing trials and tribulations again recently, but now with a greater sense of hope, I felt it was time to complete the song.”

There’s plenty of more beauty to be found in this artist’s work on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Feel free to stream and download anything as he has gladly offered it all up for free!

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DJ Desman

Song Review: take a CHANCE on this song

Alright, now that i’ve gotten past that awful but necessary pun, let’s be real here. chance the rapper & the social experiment have been dropping some cool and unusual tracks, but this one is especially different. and, not to mention, a complete conceptual turnaround from the previous song they released, “Wonderful Everyday.”

“No Better Blues” is essentially chance ripping on the world, laundry-list style. but the stuff he says he “hates” are things like “artists,” “creatives,” and “bright people,” which, in my opinion, are all things chance is considered to be. and he repeats that “it don’t get no better,” despite that it already has for the rapper himself.

so, you can interpret this song any way you want. there have been two main competing opinions: it’s a satirical piece meant to be taken light-heartedly & to speak on how ridiculous pessimism and hate has become, or it’s our favorite 21 year old Chicagoan using the facade of sarcasm to expose some deep issues & unpopular opinions.

take it how you want, it’s a good song with a symphonic intro, SoX style, and a cool piano progression on the beat. i’d recommend a listen, or twenty (gnovs style). 

Peter Cottontale, noted as a member of Social Experiment, tweeted the track saying:

#SoX My friends and I made a funny song for you , here’s new music.”

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gnovs