Soul

What the Festival is Set to Deliver an Epic Fourth Year

The days are getting longer and the weather dude is telling me the temperature isn’t going to dip below 80 degrees anytime soon, so this could only mean one thing, What The Festival 2015 is right around the corner! This year marks the festival’s fourth go-around, and the folks that put this shindig together are gearing up Oregon’s Wolf Run Ranch for another successful weekend.

This festival has a little bit of everything. It takes place on a gorgeous campground about 25 miles east of Mt. Hood. There’s enough room to walk through a (glow in the dark!) forest, lounge on plush sofas, benches, and any other designated or non-designated chill zones, dance in a splash pool with a stage that pumps out beats all day long. You can attend workshops, go to yoga and all that jazz. And to top it off, you get to witness a slew of the top producers and DJs in the game.

Names like Big Gigantic, Griz, and Seattle’s ODESZA top the list of a funkafied lineup, and there is also a number of local acts and up-and-coming artists that fill out the three day extravaganza. This event is held in Oregon for good reason. There is plenty of Portland influence, especially on the music side, here is a list of local flavor:

Indubious – Electronic reggae, or reggae with electronics. Somewhere in the middle of that is the hard hitting duo from Ashland. A live bass player and keys/and synths mix beautifully in front of beats will go off in psychedelic tangents, but always find their way back to the traditional reggae songs they’ve been making for years.

Hustle and Drone – Synth pop straight outta Portland. H&D has seen a large growth of success over the past year. The songs they write have an indie rock influence and always hold a danceable beat.

Ernest Lovers w/ Pete Krebs – Quite a bit of a different pace than the majority of the lineup, but these are local legendary song writers. They will provide a nice break from the chaos and give your brain cells a minute to rejuvenate with some slow and melodic honky tonk.

EPROM – Bass heavy with a little bit of hip hop. EPROM is one of the most notable Portland acts on the list and is set to have a big summer. He makes his beats with old school drum and bass influences and touches and dabbles of dubstep and trap. It’s damn near impossible not to dance for this.

Solovox – Piano extraordinaire and beat maker. Carl Solovox knows how incorporate his refined piano skills and put them to use on a synthesizer. He’s been known to remix some classic rock and roll (Johnny Cash, AC DC, the list goes on) and always creates a dance party of epic proportions.

Barisone – Master of silk and smooth. Barisone has become a household name in the Portland community with a steady working relationship with FAK Wednesdays and Bubblin. His music is grounded in hip hop and R&B and will change what you thought you knew about the word “sexy.”

Device Grips – straight up dance funk – full band! The (relatively) new Portland band, Device Grips are making their name quickly with blues infused horn-heavy funk with a little bit of rap n’ roll to create some of the liveliest music out there. Don’t be the person that has to tell people a year from now that you missed this set because you were trying to get a burrito (nothing against burritos, but trust me on this one).

Lovebomb Go-Go Marching Band – One of the most extravagant acts you’ll see, ever. This band hails from outer space, I assume, given their space helmets and vibrant clad of silver linings that make up their uniforms. Who knows what they’re going to pull out for a festival like this?

Other notable local artists include: Chrome Wolves, Lincoln Up, Mr. Wu, Takimba, Trashcan Joe, PRSN, Tyler Tastemaker, Deafmind, Octaban, Hal-V & Space Case, Quarry, Laura Lynn, Computer Pham, Diablo, and Montel Spinozza.

Moral of this story: Get your tickets to What the Festival and try and catch every one of these!

-Colin Hudson


   

Algiers and Le VICE Play Bottom of the Hill - 6/23

The San Francisco based indie-pop soul band, Le VICE will be performing live at Bottom of the Hill in support of the Atlanta based grungy soul musical outfit, Algiers. We certainly recommend you attend this show because you're going to get to experience a night of a super cool pastiche of new American music.

Both band's musical styles are dipped in soul like a thick layer of chocolate on a Klondike (do they still make Klondike Bars?), but the soft center of Le VICE's style is more pop-R&B oriented in comparison to Algiers' who has a very rigid, rough 'round the edges rock style going on within its compostional core. These bands should be experienced live because listening to their recordings is just going to make you sit and ponder what exactly your ear drums are dancing to.

It's summer time! Make your way out into the fresh night air and check out Algiers and Le VICE's interpretations of thrilling soul music at Bottom of the Hill on June 23rd!

   

Etana Performs at Mezzanine - 6/6

If you want to catch a unique show, check out Etana at Mezzanine! Her music is gorgeous and it will give you a chance to check out some music that may not be "the usual" in regards to local shows. We love local bands forever, but everyone's got to stretch their wings a bit. You won't have to stretch far. Make your way down to Mezzanine in San Francisco on June 6th!

The soulful Jamaican vocalist who has been described as "reggae's Jill Scott" (NPR) or"reminiscent of India.Arie" (Essence) - dropped her fourth album I Rise on Oct 28, 2014. The album was helmed primarily by the legendary Jamaican multi-instrumentalist and producer Clive Hunt (Stevie Wonder, Peter Tosh, Rolling Stones, The Wailers, Grace Jones, Jimmy Cliff). It hit #1 on the U.S. Billboard Reggae Album chart, making Etana one of the three Jamaican female artists ever and the first in nearly two decades (since Diana King and Patra in the mid-90s) to land this highly-coveted chart position. I Rise follows Etana's critically-acclaimed albums Better Tomorrow (2013), Free Expressions (2011) and The Strong One (2008). With poised assurance, she continues to evolve spiritually, mentally, emotionally and musically and carry the torch as reggae's leading lady.

   

Music Video Premiere: Future Twin - We're Here

The San Francisco based soul-gaze band, Future Twin has produced a music video for their upbeat rock-pop track, We're Here. The video is great. It's always good to see the conceptual expression of helping ordinary people escape what is boring and mundane, and discover what colorful fun life has to offer. We're Here tells a story of three people who are seemingly lost in the monotony and routine of their realities until a strange human lady with a colorful mask appears to break them free of their pain and disenfranchisement.

“"We’re Here” is a song about standing together. About not being broken up. It’s about cohesion. The script and concept that we attempted to portray in this music video center on the daily lives of archetypes of urban life: the office worker, the service worker and the retired elder. In hyper-productivist America, we often ask people when first meeting them, in order to get to know them better, “What do you do?” Playing on this way of defining people, as if our day job equates the very fiber of our being, as if that’s the most interesting facet of someone’s life (what they do to commodify their labor)– we attempted to show the triviality of such things." - Jean Jeanie, Future Twin

We like Future Twin and we like the song, We're Here, so it's a happy experience for us to share a music video that they've been super passionate about sharing with the world. Here it is, check them out and make sure you attend their upcoming Bay Area shows:

Jun 06 SubZERO Festival San Jose, CA
Jul 18 Dissilience Oakland (A benefit for Oakland Fund for the Arts) w/ Jean Jeanie

   

A Night of Neo-Soul With Brownish Black

While it could be quite the challenge to develop your own sound within the lexicon of classic soul and r&b, Brownish Black seem both worthy and excited about the task at hand. Formed in 2010 the band has been growing in numbers and evolving their neo-soul sound that could easily be found on NYC goldmine label Daptone (home to Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Charles Bradley etc). With a slender and soulful white male leading the raucous r&b they could also be mistaken for pop soul darlings Fitz & the Tantrums. Yet comparisons aside Brownish Black are unique to Portland and are striving to forge their own path.

Given the somewhat challenging position of filling an empty dance floor with Portlanders who just finished a workweek, Brownish Black brought their high energy and infectious rhythms to the opening slot Friday night at the eclectic (read underrated) Star Theater. Seattle based psyche-afro-funk outfit Polyrhythmics were headliners.

Playing a mix of music from their previous EP’s as well new material Brownish Black sounded tight throughout. Performing new single “Life Lessons” lead singer M.D. Sharbatz was vocally strong although slightly distracted by the harsh lighting directed on stage. During a mid-set exit, Sharbatz returned with a black cap covering his eyes, which provided reprieve but perhaps distanced himself from the audience. While a stoic looking horn section successfully focused on taking care of business the bongo/conga player was focused on starting a party. The show continued, the floor filled, and the crowd released their weekday worries. Incorporating a cover of Portland’s very own Exploding Hearts “I’m a Pretender” along with a Brownish original entitled “Rock n Roll” as a tribute to blues legend BB King (who passed away that day) the second half of their set was climatic and cathartic.

It would be difficult not to mention the lack of female lead singer Mz. V (Vicki Porter), a once integral member and wonderful counterpart to Sharbatz’ vocals and energy, who recently left the band for other pursuits. While Porter is featured on the new album she certainly will be missed and the band is planning rotating guest appearances as they move forward with their first full-length release next month under Breakup Records.

With a charismatic, feel-good, neo soul sound Brownish Black have the talent, energy, and possible ambition to grow beyond Portland and the Northwest.

See them for their record release of Life Lessons at the Goodfoot Lounge on June 11.

-Greg LeMieux