KONGOS ‘ groovy appeal is almost enigmatic. Their fun melodies and the band’s chemistry might stem from the fact that the four-piece is comprised of brothers Johnny, Jesse, Dylan, and Danny Kongos. Now based in Arizona, the band released their latest full-length – a 10-track project titled 1929, Pt. 1 – on January 18th. “Something New” speaks of things we can all relate to, whether political, music-wise (And if you are, this new album hits that spot!), or in our relationships. With a percussion-led instrumental section, “I Am Not Me” is a self-reflective song, infused with a fun beach feel, despite its melancholic lyrics. While “Stand Up” has more of an ethereal soundscape, “Pay for the Weekend” reeks of rock n’ roll.
“Wild Hearts” slows it all down quite a bit, simplifying the landscape for us and injecting every line with the deepest intention of emotion we’ve yet to be exposed to. Ever. While “Real Life” speeds the pace up a bit, “Keep Your Head” is the obvious party track of them all, working guitar licks in and around a pop-rock vibe we are 100% on board with. “Everything Must Go” goes into a very obvious U2 direction. A ballad, if you will. “When You’re Here” breaks it all down into an easy breezy soundscape – worthy of the warmest of weather – and the album is rounded out nicely with the robust, intense sounds of “4543”. Quirky enough to keep our ears perked, we’re probably going to be spinning this title for the remainder of the day.
Keep up with KONGOS here.
Pickathon returns to the woods outside Portland, Oregon from August 2-4, 2019, with an initial lineup to be released January 21. Pickathon has built a reputation over the last twenty years as the best festival experience, combing groundbreaking programming focused on discovery, sustainable ethics, and a lineup that pushes the boundaries of genre. This vision is clear in Pickathon’s initial lineup, which brings together key headliners like Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (Rateliff’s first time playing Pickathon and he’ll be bringing two different bands), Khruangbin, Mandolin Orange, Tyler Childers, Lucius, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Fruit Bats, and Mountain Man with a voraciously broad cast of other performers like well-loved Americana outsiders Caamp, Lambchop, and H.C. McEntire, doom metal band YOB, North African desert blues artist Mdou Moctar, new supergroup Bonny Light Horseman, Northwest indie royalty Damien Jurado, Laura Veirs, and Courtney Marie Andrews, returning favorite Julia Jacklin, psych soul outfit The Marías, Polaris prize winner Lido Pimienta, Congolese experimentalists Jupiter & Okwess, and word-of-mouth newer artists like Sudan Archives, Miya Folick, B Boys, The Beths, and Black Belt Eagle Scout, among many others.
The initial lineup shows the kind of deep curation and wide-ranging musical interests that have made Pickathon a key tastemaker event in the American music scene. It’s a lineup based on discovery, not draw, a diverse lineup intended to represent the best contemporary snapshot of music across more than a dozen genres. With many artists requesting to return each year, Pickathon has become a kind of pilgrimage for artists looking to renew themselves at a well of creative inspiration. Walking onto the festival grounds at Pendarvis Farm in the small town of Happy Valley, OR, you can see what draws artists back year after year. Pickathon is a riot for the eyes, a festival that takes a holistic view to the music. Each stage is visually spectacular, from the woven branches that make a towering shell of the Woods stage to award-worthy architecture of the Treeline stage, using renewable resources in a different array each year. The Mt. Hood Stage, the mainstage of Pickathon, was ringed with living gardens in 2018, and the festival makes use of rustic, picturesque existing buildings like the late-night-raging Galaxy Barn, or the interview-focused Lucky Barn. Each artist’s sets are curated specifically to each stage and the timing of the festival meticulously planned, all to inspire the artists to new heights and historic performances. An army of over 600 videographers and audio specialists record Pickathon, pushing for a spread of nearly 200 videos that will be released between festivals. It’s a wildly ambitious project that involves so many people because each person has come to realize that Pickathon represents our best vision for how music and community come together.
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Bonny Light Horseman
Courtney Marie Andrews
Jupiter & Okwess
Black Belt Eagle Scout
Mike and The Moonpies
David Nance Group
The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys
Garrett T Capps
&more (Chill Moody & Donn T)
David Bragger & Susan Platz
|Download 2019 Pickathon Poster here
St. Petersburg-based trio Polyenso – comprised of Brennan Taulbee, Denny Agosto, and Alexander Schultz – recently released their new EP Year of the Dog, and we’ve got some thoughts. Beginning with a swirling, ethereal energy in “Neon Mirror”, the cacophony of sound these musicians create together is poetic in its existence, only further so with the addition of vocals woven throughout with an electricity that is undeniable. “Bastard” has a bit more of an experimental feel to it, but the percussion makes us want to dance down the street, essentially turning our walk into a musical number. That’s got to say something, doesn’t it?
“Happy” has a bit of a melancholic feel to its soundscape, further perpetuated by the lyrics. While “I Go You Go” definitely has the charm of a late night dance track, to be enjoyed in a sweaty underground somewhere in Manhattan, the instrumental versions of each track take us back through a host of emotions, living through the same pattern twice over the course of one EP. We’re pretty impressed, and know you will be too!
Keep up with Polyenso here.
Today, California songstress Alice Wallace released her highly-anticipated 11-track full-length, a beaut titled Into The Blue. Her fourth album, it is truly an exquisite collection of songs that evoke emotions over personal anecdotes, social issues, and the beauty of our natural surroundings, among other things. It’s a culmination of what we have come to know and love of Alice Wallace over the span of her career – the softness and vulnerability that we all feel at times, coupled with undeniable strength and intensity – and we’re absolutely smitten.
When the album starts with the line “What just happened?” during the lead track “The Lonely Talking”, we realize we’re in for a wild ride. After all, who else has had an adventure that’s started with those exact words? (Exactly.) Wallace’s emotional, deep, robust vocals carry us into “Santa Ana Winds”, an old western theme to it all. “Elephants” – perhaps one of our favorites on the album – is simplified instrumentally, more melodic as it addresses some very important social stigmas and issues. “The Blue” continues at the same slower, borderline meandering pace, as Wallace croons to us of “the mystery” of “The Blue”. “Desert Rose” does nothing to pick up the pace, but “charming” describes more than just a word in the lyrics. The guitar parts are magnificent, Latin-inspired instrumentals that serve as the perfect backdrop to such an emotional and specific story. “When She Cries” presents as more high energy, singing of rain”in the City of Angels,” a phenomenon we’ve all been privy to over the past week or so.
“Echo Canyon” is another favorite, simplified so Wallace’s vocals can take center stage, the exact emotional triggers placed perfectly, even without the aid of the instrumentals. Echoing a soulfulness only Wallace could evoke, the guitar parts are absolutely inspired. While “The Same Old Song” is pretty cut-and-dry blues in a very palpable way, “Motorcycle Ride” has a soundscape you will 0% predict by the title of the track. It’s sweet, mellifluous, and leads beautifully into ballad “Top of the World”. “For Califia” is the last track featured, instrumentals that we could easily see in an episode of The O.C. The lyrics are gorgeous, and it leaves an impact that only Wallace is capable of. Perhaps she really is the Queen of California.
Keep up with Alice Wallace here.
Experimental improv musical group Richmond Avant Improv Collective (RAIC) – comprised of Samuel Goff, Abdul Hakim-Bilal, Erik Schroeder, Zoe Olivia-Kinney, and Laura Marina – released their new album Multiplicity on Friday, and we’ve got your first listen below. “Balance of the Three” starts us off with a pure cacophony of sound, horns and cymbals alternating feverishly for a full song’s length (around 3.5 minutes) before everything evens out into a somewhat bluesy and tribal soundscape. There is a sense of mystery to the song, the longest on the piece at 22:44. “Brugmansla” is completely different in its soundscape, rough and energized as though being played at battle. It is with “Occlusion” that a slight twang comes through, though it isn’t long before tribal drums, misplaced cymbals, and guitar chords make it feel like an artsy soundcheck.
“Leaves Continue to Fall” breezes in on a saxophone, more simplistic in its approach than its predecessors, as it maintains one instrument throughout. “Agitato” is our first real glimpse at vocals – albeit briefly – and a more ethereal and well-layered soundscape stems from its opening chords, slowly collapsing into brief, heightened energy escapades over the course of its hot ten minutes. “Pingulna” is the shortest of the tracks – sitting at a quick 1:35 – and boasts a down-home, blues feel that makes you feel relaxed and confident. Last track “Silene Udulata” rounds it out with a vintage feel, boasting opera-like vocals, eery, high pitched guitar chords, and rough, hard instrumentals that make it feel like the climax track at a rock opera. It’s definitely not something we would play at our Grandma’s birthday, but insanely fun to jam out to with friends.
Multiplicity is available now. Keep up with RAIC here.
If you’re looking for some new tunes to keep you occupied on this beautiful, flurry-filled midwest day (we don’t care about your awesome weather everywhere else), then Angelo De Augustine has a new album titled Tomb you should really get your ears on. The title track starts us off, crawling us into the soundscape slowly but surely and with a palpable feeling of enchantment. “All to the Wind” and “You Needed Love, I Needed You” follow suit, with Angelo’s lightweight vocals really taking the forefront. “I Could Be Wrong” picks up the pace a bit, while “Tide” slows it down once again.
What we glean from this 12-track piece is that it really has been created in the same methodical, gorgeous and borderline-celestial soundscape that we have come to know from artists like Sufjan Stevens, whose producer Thomas Bartlett (Doveman) actually had a hand in this project. Angelo has graced us with poignant and beautiful lyricism, and a mellow tone to really jump start the new year with Tomb. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Keep up with Angelo De Augustine here.