6. Brown Calculus (43.5 pts.)
SOUNDS LIKE: A warm, encouraging inner voice rising from the fog of self-doubt, accompanied by some interstellar R&B beats.
NOTABLE VOTES: Drummer-about-town Papi Fimbres, Futro Collective's Danny Diana-Peebles, Holocene booker Gina Altamura.
It's almost as if Vaughn Kimmons and Andre Burgos were fated to make music together.
"Shortly after we started hanging out, I found out she had a music project called Brown Alice," Burgos says of Kimmons. "I was making stuff under the name Brown Calvin at the time, so we were like, 'We need to do something together.'"
Though they've been a band for only a little over a year, the creative chemistry between the members of Brown Calculus indeed seems like divine kismet. The duo's brand of R&B is part spiritual jazz meditation, part self-affirmation, with Burgos' spacy, keyboard-driven beats pairing perfectly with Kimmons' powerful voice and uplifting lyrics.
Burgos and Kimmons first met at a concert a few years ago. Kimmons was playing in Brazilian pop outfit POPgoji at the time, having recently moved to Portland from Chicago. Burgos, who hails from Philadelphia, had been here since 2009.
"I played some tracks for him. I don't think he paid attention to the fact that it was me," Kimmons says. "He was like, 'Who is this? It sounds like a real singer!' And I was like, 'It's me.'"
After Kimmons joined another Burgos project, the hip-hop group Tribe Mars, the two finally got together for a separate collaboration. They listened to beats together, and Kimmons immediately homed in on Burgos' weirdest track.
"I remember she came back the next day and sang her parts over it," Burgos says. "It finally felt like my music was complete."
There is something organic and magical about the combination of Burgos' unspooling production and the enchanting, arresting nature of Kimmons' vocals. With their first single, "Self-Care," Kimmons says she wants to uplift people because, with music, she's trying to lift herself up, too.
"These songs, I write them to encourage myself," Kimmons says. "Usually, when I'm feeling a way about something, or I've been thinking about why I react to something a certain way, it's always that Gemini overthinking—these are the conversations I have in my head all the time. These lyrics come out because I'm like, 'You got this! You can do this!' I want everyone else to hear that, too."
NEXT SHOW: March 17 at Mississippi Studios for WW's Best New Band Showcase.
Best New Band Intro | No. 1: Sávila | No 2: Black Belt Eagle Scout | No. 3: Frankie Simone | No. 4: Amenta Abioto | No. 5: Maarquii | No. 6: Brown Calculus | No 7: Sunbathe | No 8: Blackwater Holylight | No. 9: Autonomics | No. 10 (tie): Public Eye and Wynne | Who's Got Next? No. 11-20 | The Complete Ballots