The Magic of Music: KONGOS

Check out this alternative rock band making its way through the charts!

KONGOS is a South African-born Greek-American alternative rock band consisting of four brothers: Johnny, Jesse, Daniel, and Dylan Kongos. Based out of Phoenix, AZ, the band specialize in driving, arena-ready alt rock in the vein of Muse and Kings of Leon that’s infused with the polyrhythmic cadences of the South African upbringing. They released their debut album in 2007, followed by the platinum-selling Lunatic in 2012, which spawned the hit singles I”m Only Joking” and “Come With Me Now”.

I had an amazing opportunity to interview the band at this year’s Bonanza Campout and you can check it out all down here!

K-UTE: What inspired you all to be an alternative-rock band instead of any other genre?

KONGOS: Someone told us that we should do it! We were trying all sorts of different things (hip-hop/rap, metal, etc.) and it wasn’t working out and then one of our music instructors back at Arizona State University told us that we should try out this alternative genre. We gave it a shot and it started to click!

K-UTE: How long ago after did you guys get big after taking the instructor’s advice?

KONGOS: When we started to add the dance element, it started to take off, especially during performances! The audiences were very receptive towards that.

K-UTE: Out of all of the shows you have all performed, which one was your favorite?

KONGOS: We were doing this show in Copenhagen and it was at this tiny club where 40 people showed up and the couches and floors were dirty. There was this energy from the anarchists in the crowd that was the most interested than any other crowd that we performed for. We don’t know whether it was from their political beliefs or whatever but for some reason, it just clicked!

K-UTE: Out of all the songs Y’all have written, what songs are your favorites?

KONGOS: One song that is our favorite is “I Want to Know” because it’s a nice one to perform! Another one we like to perform live is “Birds Do It” because it’s fun.

K-UTE: If you were to give aspiring musicians and bands one piece of advice, what would you say to them?

KONGOS: Roll your stage cables up quickly! Also, learn how to get on and off stage quickly and really listen to everyone’s opinions because often you are wrong about what you think and how you think your music should be. If you listen to other people, sometimes they give you a little bit of insight!

Check out KONGOS on their Facebook page for any announcements and information! You can also check them out on their Spotify.

What’s On My Playlist?

This summer has been a fantastic era for new music and new artists. Here are some of the songs that I’ve had on repeat this past June.

“Die Young” by Sylvan Esso

“Die Young” is a perfect combination of bittersweet lyrics and bubbly, bass-infused indie-pop beats that’ll make you want to hop in the car and leave everything behind. Plus, their new album What Now has similar hits like “Radio” and “Kick Jump Twist” that utilizes creative computer-esque beats and intriguing lyrics.

“Loving Someone” by The 1975

While their latest album came out in 2016, I can’t seem to stop listening to “Loving Someone” and pretty much every other song from The 1975. They have a beautiful talent of mixing aesthetic value and music together in a way that transports you to another place when you listen to them. For me “Loving Someone” is a song that uses poetic lyrics and dreamy synths to create a visual image every time you listen to it.

“Sober” by Lorde

As a long time fan of Lorde’s music, I was both hesitant and excited to listen to her new album, Melodrama. While I didn’t fall in love with her first hit from the album, “Green Light,” once I heard the opening to “Sober,” I was entranced. The song begins with eerie and desperate vocals that aptly sets the tone for the song. The subtle chorus and punching lyrics will definitely hit the heart of any angsty teen, like myself.

“Loudspeaker” by MUNA

I’ve already written an article on MUNA’s new album About U , here, but something about them has left a lasting impression. The lead singer, Katie Gavin, has such a unique voice, and all of their songs, like “Loudspeaker,” have an empowering, passionate, and truthful tone that goes straight to the heart. Plus, their style and aesthetic are to die for.

“Alone” by Halsey

While “Now or Never” is the staple hit from her new album Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, the song “Alone” has stuck out to me personally. The Pink Floyd-esque opening is an interesting instrumental lead into lyrics about a life of partying and fame, while still feeling completely lonely when the glamor fades. While I’m not sure if I can relate, I still feel like wistfully looking through a window with my heart shaped sunglasses on whenever I hear the song.

“Amsterdam” by Nothing But Thieves

Ever since I heard their first hit, “Trip Switch,” Nothing But Thieves has formed a special place in my heart. The song “Amsterdam” is a rock filled anthem that makes you wanna headbang in a circle, but the vocals and melody are catchy enough that you’ll be humming it long after the song is finished.

Summer Boy by “Lady Gaga”

Yes, this song was originally released in 2009, but it’s integral to any summer playlist, and as soon as you press play on this track, you’ll understand why. Lady Gaga’s iconic vocals and pop-powered electric guitar riffs make the song feel like pure candy to the ears. Plus, the light-hearted and whimsical lyrics make it a perfect summer jam.

“Baby Driver” Blends Music & Movie in Perfect Unison

Baby Driver, the latest from writer/director Edgar Wright, is about to further fuel Wright’s cinematic position as one of the most daring auteurs this side of the arthouse. Although Wright’s name may not be household, his films certainly are. From Shaun of the Dead to Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Wright has been crafting the most loved of so-called “cult classics” for years now. Baby Driver is not Wright’s first genre-bending work, but the film is the first to withhold comedy from being the driving force. Instead, Wright allows the harmonious relationship between music and action to cultivate a glorious spectacle of summer blockbuster.

Ansel Elgort stars as Baby, a getaway driver with tinnitus who constantly listens to music on his vintage (they’re not that old) iPods. This opens the gateway for the fusion of music and film Wright is so known for. As Baby goes from heist to heist, meeting criminals played by Jon Hamm, Jaimie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, and Eiza González, he listens to a wildly fitting selection of songs from a bevy of decades to accompany his driving prowess. Added in to the playlist is Lily James’ Debora as the love interest to Baby and his main cause for action. Through the spectacular cinematography and soundtrack, Baby speeds through a number of automobiles, turning Atlanta into a demolition derby.

Edgar Wright continuously brings his own overt-style to each film (seems fitting he didn’t direct Ant-Man) with quick editing, wry humor, and of course, music and action in sync. For Baby Driver, its as if Wright has turned his own love for music into a narrative force. Each song for the soundtrack isn’t there for just background noise and helps add to the already much heightened reality. The fantasy of living out a personal movie through personal soundtracks is fulfilled by Baby’s constant musical choices of BlurDavid McCallumThe Commodores, among plenty of others playing out through his day. From the long tracking shot in the beginning set to Bob & Earle’s “Harlem Shuffle” showing Baby interacting with his world, the importance of a soundtrack is never diminished. A finale set to an apt Queen song is one of those perfect movie moments. More than a car/heist/action movie, Baby Driver is a music lover’s fantasy, a “what if” all those songs rolling around your head were helping make the movie of your life.

The fantasy of stylish getaway driving seen in other films like Drive, The Driver, and The Getaway have by tradition always favored the neo-noir soaked approach to cool. Wright’s wonderful eye for color leaves out the chiaroscuro and neon-stylings for a palette of primary colors and bright Atlanta scenery. Narratively, Wright keeps the archetypical silent driver through Baby (along with the classic villainous criminal tropes) and the “damsel-in-distress” character as Debora. Wright gives Debora enough nuance to flourish as a character, but never lets her break the male-dominated ideas of the car-chase-movie. The romance between her and Baby more highlights Baby’s own motivation than it does Debora’s character.

Baby Driver will be accepted into the Wright canon as more midnight movie watching and rewatching become accessible. Wright’s fans will have further reason to adulate him while his detractors may see this as, at least, a film demonstrating growth. The film is a towering love letter to music and action films and exemplifies Wright’s genre-bending intelligence. The kinetic editing and pacing only allow the energy of the film to flourish rather than hindering the action under a miasma of quick-cuts. The sheer coolness of style also breathes new life into the genre, with Kevin Spacey coming out as the primary scene-stealer, jazzed up on his own criminal world.

Wright’s ability to cross genres and present fresh takes on old stories is so well received because he crafts fun movies. There’s always drama present in his works, but he doesn’t let that slow down the massive appeal of action and comedy and character. Baby Driver continues this tradition but within a more dramatic vein. Its an action movie for music lovers, and vice versa. A homage without being cliché. A whirlwind of fantasy without being totally unrealistic.

Grade: A

 

Ivouries – EP

Ivouries is the solo project of singer and multi-instrumentalist Jaxon Garrick. A Sandy native, Garrick has dreamed of being a musician since he was 12 years old. Music plays such a big role in his life he practically considers it a religious feeling. “Music is something that is so much a part of me that I guess I use it cathartically almost,” he said.

With the release of his new EP, Garrick is setting himself apart from other artists by infusing mellow vocals with hypnotic experimental beats. He mainly plays the guitar, but is not afraid to pick up another instrument as long as it can contribute to what he’s working on. Lately, Garrick has been captivated by synthesizers. “The possibilities and sounds you can create with analog and digital synthesizers are endless and I wish they were more appreciated!” During the writing process of his EP, Garrick’s life was changing and he found solace in his music. He said he found inspiration in Bon Iver and the way he isolated himself to make a record.

The EP starts off with the song “I Just Want It”, which chronicles the complicated relationship between two people. He sounds frustrated with the relationship he is in and doesn’t know what to do. The song sounds almost dreamlike through the verses when he ponders the actions of the other person.

Another track that deserves recognition is “Regret It”.  It almost transports you back to the 80s with heavy synths that play throughout the song. Garrick revisits his themes of relationships and heartbreak as he sings about the heavy burden of a breakup. Towards the end of the song, he truly shows off his guitar skills by playing an impressive solo.

Listening to the EP, a song that really stood out to me is “Run Rill” because of the softer, acoustic rhythm it has that differs from the rest of the tracks. The soft ballad tells the story of two people wanting to get away from everything and starting over.  It was refreshing to hear this track because of how stripped down it sounded compared to his other songs.

Ivouries definitely has a unique blend of sound mixing together hip-hop, indie rock, and electronic. It’s no surprise considering Garrick names artists like Lorde, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, and Grimes as his influences to name a few. “I really respect artists who have somewhat of an anxiety to always be thinking about how they can reinvent themselves. Never really settling or zoning in on one sound.”

To check out more of Ivories, visit https://soundcloud.com/ivouries.

No Wonder Oh Wonder is Amazing

Oh Wonder released their debut album, Oh Wonder, on September 4th in 2015. Immediately upon release, critics were raving, fans were screaming, and Oh Wonder embarked on a worldwide tour which only increased their ever-growing popularity. Oh Wonder is an upcoming indie-pop band based in London that is grabbing attention everywhere. The band is a duo, Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West. This album was made in a very non-traditional way. The two members wrote, produced and mixed each song in their home studio, and then released one song per month, beginning in September 2014. The official album was then released, along with two extra songs. Despite the majority of the songs being available before the album release, it still did extremely well in the charts across several countries including the UK, US, and Canada.
The album begins with Livewire, is a song about love that has passion within every word. The lyrics in the chorus “make me feel like I’m set on fire” is not dark or creepy, but rather entrancing. Technicolor Beat is a chill, electro-pop song that makes you feel calm with its simple piano and synth sounds, mixed with the pair’s vocals. Drive is exactly the song you would want to listen to on a drive as the sun sets with its nice backbeat and smooth strings. Lose It is a simple piano song with a basic beat and snaps, but the unique rhythm and lyrics such as “You got to give yourself a moment, let your body breathe” will make you want to just take a step back from life, and just dance for a moment. The Rain has melody that is reminiscent of old music while seamlessly combining it with newer synth melodies, and makes for a perfect song to listen to on a rainy day. Midnight Moon has a nice melody, some claps, and lyrics that will cheer you up. The album closes with Plans, which talks about times being tough, but yet it still conveys a feeling that everything will be alright and that the journey is worth it. Oh Wonder has a unique style, a unique approach to the music industry, and has a great future for them. If you are looking for a calming album that will make you feel happy, give this album a try. It’ll be worth it.