Month: January 2015

Coachella Band Preview: RAC

Within the past 10 years a music style known as EDM or electronic dance music (can also be referred to as club music), has grown in popularity through artists like Daft Punk, Skrillex, David Guetta, Deadmau5, and Aviici. This style of music is mostly created through the use of electronic equipment and played by DJ’s as opposed to the standard musical instruments. Sometimes these acts will have other artists come in and sing over the tracks they produce thus creating more of a song feel rather than just electronic music.

I’m not into EDM. Never was. LCD Soundsystem might be the only group I like and listen to that’s even close to what you would consider EDM. Last summer though I heard a song that was so catchy and so unlike other club music that I didn’t even realize it was by a DJ type artist. The song was called “Cheap Sunglasses” and it was by a band or should I say artist called RAC.

Formed in 2006, RAC used to stand for Remix Artist Collective. It was an indie project started by Andre Allen Anjos where him and a few others would remix indie songs into something more danceable. Sounds kind of like EDM but not the case. Unlike club music, the remixes created a “unique aesthetic based around emotion and nuance”. To me that means there’s a more whimsical, flowing vibe. RAC created remixed songs by plenty of indie artists including Lana Del Rey, Tegan and Sara, The Shins, Foster the People, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, etc. (the list goes on and on). Nowadays RAC is just RAC and has become Anjos’ solo project. In 2014 RAC released an album called Strangers which uses original compositions and features other artists singing on many of the tracks.

This year RAC is playing Coachella and it’s a set that I’m highly anticipating. I’ve downloaded several other RAC songs besides “Cheap Sunglasses”. I really dig all of them. I tried to purchase the album locally but it was unavailable. I’ll probably end up buying it online. It’s that good. A lot of the songs remind me of something I’d listen to while cruising the California coastline. The sound really is more indie than electronic though. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed it so much without ever realizing that RAC wasn’t a band. Even after I found out, it didn’t turn me away. I have a feeling the Coachella set is going to be so fun and upbeat. I even think my cousin who is more of a Pitbull fan than anything indie rock is going to love it. I guess you can say that RAC is probably the closest I’ll get to liking EDM, but that’s fine by me.

Song recommendations:

1. “Cheap Sunglasses” (feat. Matthew Koma)

2. “Hollywood” (feat. Penguin Prison)

3. “Repeating Motion” (feat. Karl Kling)

4. “Let Go” (feat. Kele & MNDR)

5. “405” (feat. YACHT)

6. “Hard to Hold” (feat. Tegan and Sara)

(Quote source: http://www.riverfronttimes.com/2008-03-12/news/e-mix-andr-eacute-anjos-and-the-remix-artist-collective-leverage-initiative-ingenuity-and-the-internet-into-an-online-music-force/)

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Last Man Standing

While growing up, Friday and Saturday night television used to be legendary. ABC had a solid Friday night lineup with Boy Meets World and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Saturday always consisted of Nickelodeon with All That, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Kenan and Kel, The Secret World of Alex Mack, Kablam, and The Adventures of Pete & Pete. That was of course before I had plans on Friday and Saturday nights. Then middle school, high school, and college came around and I never watched any TV on the weekend nights (except maybe Sunday). In fact only until recently did I start paying attention to the Friday night programming thanks to one show: Last Man Standing.

Last Man Standing starring former 90’s TV icon, Tim Allen (Home Improvement) began it’s television run in 2011. I caught it a few times in the last few years because when my mom had no Friday night plans and I was home, she would watch it. In the last few months I really started watching it though. I have to say it’s probably one of the most underrated shows on TV. In my opinion it’s one of the best Friday night shows since Boy Meets World.

The show is about a family from Denver, CO and Tim Allen plays the dad/senior executive and director of marketing for an outdoor sports merchandise franchise, Mike Baxter. Instead of having three sons this time around, Allen has three older daughters (and a wife) with their own entertaining storylines…hence the whole “last man standing” concept. Between Mike, the personalities of his daughters and wife, his job, his boss and one of his hair-brained employees, the show cracks jokes at just about anything, including politics (Baxter is highly conservative). It’s the kind of comedy that’s fun for the whole family in a similar way that Home Improvement was (meaning no constant dirty/crude humor).

As a fan of Home Improvement growing up, last week’s episode of the show was particularly entertaining as Patricia Richardson (Jill Taylor…Tim’s wife from Home Improvement) guest starred. Not to mention there was a brief cameo for Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Randy…Tim’s son). In the first scene where Richardson appeared both her Allen bantered back and forth like old times, mostly with her ripping apart her former TV husband.

Although I still might not be home every Friday night, the internet provides the opportunity to watch episodes that have aired previously on ABC. So I can always make up for an episode I missed (as it goes for many shows on tv these days). In this way, even if you’re not around on a Friday you can still watch this show which will guarantee you a few laughs. It’s definitely worth checking out.

2015 Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival Lineup Release

With the new year upon us, only a few months remain until spring and summer. What seems to have become a bigger deal in recent years during these seasons at least according to my perspective are music festivals. I mean up until 4 years ago or so all I knew of was the Vans Warped Tour (travels all over the country) which I had attended from 2005-2011 and the Bamboozle Festival in New Jersey, which is no longer in existence. Apparently musical festivals, a lot of which last several days, are a big deal.

Some of the biggest in the country are Lollapalooza in Chicago, Illinois, South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee, and Coachella in Indio, California. Of course if you want to get global we could also include Glastonbury in England. On the east coast (where I reside), Firefly (Dover, Delaware) and Governor’s Ball (New York, New York) seem to be getting some acclaim. On the west coast, I’ve heard some pretty good things about Sasquatch (Gorge, Washington). Then again, there’s plenty of other festivals for specific types of music as well.

When it comes to all these festivals, those who look forward to attending anticipate the lineup announcements, and for those who plan on attending Coachella, the lineup was released 2 days ago. Since Coachella is probably the biggest and most acclaimed festival in the U.S., I just wanted to take the time to feature the lineup.  It’s also pretty important to me because for the first time ever I will be attending the festival during Weekend 1 (yes this festival got so big it is now two consecutive weekends) and I want to discuss what I expect from the Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival 2015.

The Headliners: AC/DC, Jack White, Drake

These headliners are always front of the rumor mill for weeks leading up to the lineup announcement. With this lineup of headliners and often with Coachella headliners we’re given a blend of different types of artists. AC/DC is old-school, classic rock. From what I’ve read this may be one of the last times they even play a show together, so it’s bound to be a special experience. Plus it’s a guarantee that everyone knows their songs and will gladly sing along as they shred Friday night in the desert. This will be Jack White’s first time playing as a solo artist at Coachella (he played as a member of the White Stripes, the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather). He’s also a rock guy and with being a well-known musician, plus the success of Lazaretto he seemed destined to headline the event. Lastly, rap artist, Drake, will be closing out the list of headliners Sunday night. As stated, Coachella seems to get many music styles in their yearly lineups. Having big name rappers headline the festival is nothing new (Kanye West, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, and Dr. Dre have previously headlined) but being given a top spot for a rapper is quite the honor. His set is already being referred to as one of the most highly anticipated sets of the weekend. With Drake’s success, I’m sure he won’t disappoint.

The Other Highly Billed Performers (aka the next 2 lines on each day of the poster): Tame Impala, Interpol, Steely Dan, Alesso, Alabama Shakes, Ride, Nero, the Weeknd, Axwell ^ Ingrosso, alt-J, Belle & Sebastian, Ratatat, Hozier, Florence & the Machine, Kaskade, Ryan Adams, David Guetta, St. Vincent, Azealia Banks, Flying Lotus, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, Lykke Li, DJ Snake, Porter Robinson, Caribou, Flosstradamus, Bad Religion, SBTRKT, FKA Twigs, Tyler the Creator, Father John Misty, the War on Drugs, Deorro, Marina and the Diamonds, Fitz and the Tantrums, Brand New, Madeon, Stromae, Kygo, Odesza, Gesaffelstein, RAC, Lil B

Obviously I can’t go into discussion about each of these bands, but as I stated twice already, Coachella puts a lineup together of all different styles of music and this year is no different. I do have to mention Steely Dan and Ride, which along with AC/DC make up some pretty old acts. Out of this group I’m most looking forward to Alabama Shakes, alt-J, Belle & Sebastian, Florence & the Machine, St. Vincent, RAC, and Brand New. I’d also be interested in checking out Ride (I really know nothing except for “Vapour Trail” because of The Perks of Being A Wallflower (the book)), Hozier (will definitely check them out if there’s time because it’ll be a fun set, but I did see them last year at the Sweetlife Festival and they’re not high on my list of faves), Bad Religion (I don’t know too much of their stuff but another old school band I listened to in college on occasion), Father John Misty (I just wanna hear “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”), Fitz and the Tantrums (good band but like Hozier I saw them at Sweetlife), and Tame Impala (they’re alright and I own an album, but again not one of my faves).

2-3 years ago I was pretty hyped on Alabama Shakes so I’m looking forward to their set and hearing Brittany Howard kill the vocals. I just got alt-J’s latest album on vinyl and I’ve been a fan of a selection of their songs for a couple years. Belle & Sebastian have been around for awhile. I passed up the opportunity to seem them in Pittsburgh last summer and I’m kind of looking forward to singing along to “Boy with the Arab Strap”. Out of all the bands playing I think I’m looking forward to seeing Florence & the Machine the most. Florence Welch has some insane pipes. I have both of their albums on vinyl and with a third coming out soon, it looks like I’ll have to make that purchase before I fly out to SoCal. I’m not a huge St. Vincent fan but it’s mostly because I haven’t really listened to a ton of her music. I know a few songs and I really enjoy those so I’m gonna have to prep for this one. I still like her enough to add her to my list of most anticipated acts. I was hooked on the song “Cheap Sunglasses” by RAC this past summer and I downloaded a few other songs since then. I plan on learning more in the three months until Coachella so I’m ready for what I think will be a fun set. Finally, Brand New. I could make a whole post about Brand New and I probably will at some point. I’ve liked Brand New since I was 15 years old. Since my second musical enlightenment (refer back to the post about that), I’ve fallen out of listening to them (unless I feel like playing some “Seventy Times Seven” to myself on guitar). I’ve seen them three times already and enjoyed each experience. Out of all the bands playing Coachella though, I know the most songs by Brand New. It’ll definitely be a throwback for me and I guarantee everyone at that set will most likely be feeling the same nostalgia I’ll feel. It’s gonna be fun.

The Rest: Caribou, Todd Terje and the Olsens, Angus & Julia Stone, Hot Natured, George Ezra, Squarepusher, Kiesza, Action Bronson, Gorgon City, Reverend Horton Heat, Sylvan Esso, Kimbra, Vic Mensa, Erol Alkan, Kele, Cloud Nothings, Keys N Krates, MK, Pete Tong, Ab-Soul, Haerts, Eagulls, Allah-Las, Alvin Risk, Chris Malinchak, Jon Hopkins, Oliver Heldens, Ryan Hemsworth, Jason Bentley, Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, Marques Wyatt, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Los Rakas, Run the Jewels, Tycho, Chet Faker, Kasabian, Drive Like Jehu, Swans, Milky Chance, Toro y Moi, Jungle, New World Punx, Clean Bandit, Glass Animals, Royal Blood, Alison Wonderland, the Gaslamp Killer Experience, Loco Dice, Danny Tenaglia, Antemasque, Parquet Courts, Gramatik, Lights, What So Not, Yellow Claw, DJ Harvey, Tale of Us, Yelle, Andrew McMahon, Carl Graig, Phox, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Cashmere Cat, Nortec Collective Presents: Bostich + Fussible, Tourist, Benjamin Booker, Matthew Koma, Perfume Genius, Jamestown Revival, Bad Suns, Ruen Brothers, Bixel Boys, Andrea Olivia, Ryn Weaver, Radkey, Coasts, Until the Ribbon Breaks, Circa Survive, Jenny Lewis, Desaparecidos, Jamie xx, Martin Solveig, Duke Dumont, Mac DeMarco, Vance Joy, Built to Spill, J.E.S.&S (Jack Master, Eats Everything, Skream & Seth Troxler), Panda Bear, Kaytranada, R3hab, St. Lucia, Dirty South, OFF!, Charles Bradley, Philip Selway, Cedric Gervais, Claude Von Stroke, Touché Amoré, Joyce Manor, Angel Olsen, John Talabot, Tiger and Woods, Dubfire, Sturgill Simpson, Annie Mac, Chicano Batman, MØ, Sloan, Doc Martin, Saint Motel, The Orwells, The Cribs, tINI, Ben Klock, Night Terrors of 1927

Some of the bands listed here might also be considered highly billed as well but I just listed everything in poster order priority. Out of this group, I’d like to see Angus & Julia Stone, Milky Chance, Jungle, Desaparecidos, Vance Joy, St. Lucia, and Andrew McMahon. Even though they’re not listed as a top performer, I really like St. Lucia and I missed them at Sweetlife last year because I was trying to secure a good spot for Lana Del Rey. I just received their album on vinyl for Christmas and I love it so I’m definitely making these guys a priority. Next on the priority list from this group of bands is Desaparecidos which I never listened to/heard of until today (listening as I write this actually). I’m kind of upset I haven’t because they’re a side project band of the all too well-known Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes. I always thought it would be cool to see Conor Oberst/Bright Eyes and I don’t plan on missing out at my opportunity. Count the rest of the bands I listed above as ones I would see if there was time/nothing else going on. It’s not like Andrew McMahon is going to play a bunch of Something Corporate songs for me to jam to (although “Konstantine” would be devine), I only know the most well-known song by both Milky Chance and Vance Joy, and Angus & Julia Stone are great to listen to on a long drive but I only know a few songs and they’re not one of my favorites. Jungle is borderline. It depends how much I listen to them in the coming months/how much I enjoy listening to them but I do really love the song “Time”.

As far as this lineup goes, I think it could be better based on my own tastes (I liked last year’s lineup a lot). However, I still feel fortunate that I’m going and get to experience what Coachella is all about. Who knows though. There might be other bands I check out and end up loving that I add to my list of bands I want to see when I attend this epic 3 day extravaganza with my awesome cousin, Kelly, who agreed to go with me. You can bet I’ll be prepping for the next 3 months and you can also expect a review of my experience/the bands post-festival. Please feel free to comment with any bands you think I would like or should listen to because I’m all about good prep suggestions. The countdown to this famed festival got real with the lineup release Tuesday, and I can’t believe I actually get to be there instead of watching the stream on my computer this year. Until then, it’s music prep time. See you in the desert!

Two Can Keep A Secret If One of Them is Dead

In the television world, every once in a while there’s a show that has a greater impact on its viewers than the rest of programs on TV. I guess if you’re a fan of any TV show you could probably make a case for that to be true. That being said, I might be a little biased here but the numbers and TV ratings don’t lie. Since its pilot episode 4 1/2 years ago, Pretty Little Liars has continued to change the television game.

The show is based off a book series by Sara Shepherd, set in the fictitious Philadelphia mainline suburb, Rosewood, which tells the story of four best friends, Spencer (played on the show by Troian Bellisario), Aria (Lucy Hale), Hanna (Ashley Benson), and Emily (Shay Mitchell), who get stalked, bullied, and tortured through a series of mysterious text messages and notes from an anonymous person who refers to him or herself as “A”. Of course the girls started to receive the messages after the body of their other best friend, Alison, who was missing for a year was found buried in her own backyard. Sounds like an interesting plot line right? Well it only gets better from there. This show is filled with more than just secrets and lies as it confronts the topics of sexuality, adultery, mental illness, drugs and alcohol to name a few. Pretty Little Liars, or “PLL” as referred to by some (myself included), pushed these risky topics over the last 4 years and almost 5 full seasons since it debuted in June of 2010. It most likely won’t stop either as the show has already been picked up for two more seasons making it ABC Family’s longest running original series.

While touring the Warner Brothers lot in September 2013, I caught some of the outside sets.

While touring the Warner Brothers lot in September 2013, I caught some of the outside sets.

I began watching the show one late afternoon in March 2011 while I was flicking channels on the TV for something to watch. A Pretty Little Liars marathon happened to be airing that day in preparation for the first season finale later that evening. It caught my eye and reeled me in shortly after. I ended up watching about 4-5 episodes to the point where I was dying to watch the season finale at 8 p.m. that night. The season premiere of Dancing with the Stars also aired at 8 that night and my plan before any of this happened was to watch that (yeah I watch Dancing with the Stars…thanks mom). Luckily I saw the finale aired again at 10 and was able to watch it then. I didn’t realize it at the time but watching Pretty Little Liars was a complete game changer in my life for multiple reasons.

That same evening of the finale it was announced that the second season of the show would be premiering in early June and I did everything in my power until the premiere to watch the entire first season of the show. The first season wasn’t available on DVD yet so I ended up purchasing the first 6 episodes on my Playstation. I planned to eventually buy the first season on DVD so purchasing all the episodes was entirely unnecessary. That’s when I was finally able to find some internet site that had the episodes available to watch. So watch them I did. It was also my last semester of college and I used to reward myself for studying/doing schoolwork by watching episodes. I couldn’t always binge straight through either because the website I watched them on would make you take a half hour break or so before it allowed you to watch another 90 minutes or something like that (I forget the exact amount of break and watch time now as you can tell). It was a pain but still it allowed me to get caught up on Season 1.

During those 2-3 months until the premiere I also convinced my very close family friend, Sarah (aka Beans) to get into the show. She had friends who watched it but never gave it a chance until I explained how good it was and showed her the first few episodes. She got into it too. We planned on watching the premiere together/getting together every week to watch Pretty Little Liars. Thus, PLL nights were born. Towards the end of that summer (mid-season of season 2) I invited our mutual friend Owen to join us in watching the show since we hung out a lot on Tuesdays and always had to take him home before Pretty Little Liars (he never watched it until then). That night he became a mainstay in our PLL nights and we’ve been getting together to watch the show ever since.

Another outside set on the WB lot.

Another outside set on the WB lot.

Pretty Little Liars has had a huge impact on my life and the lives of many others. It’s nothing short of amazing as it’s continually referenced as the most tweeted about show on television. With an average audience of over 2.5 million viewers, it’s easy to see why. The season two finale which promised a reveal of the true identity of “A” grossed around 3.69 million viewers and generated around 645,000 tweets at a peak rate of 32,000 tweets per minute (we lost it when the first “A” was revealed). The dedicated fan base consists of mostly girls and women between the ages of 12-34. To pull in this crowd, there are many romantic moments and relationships (the ships…Ezria forever) and an emphasis on fashion despite the plot focus on the mystery surrounding the death of Alison and the stalker “A”.

As Pretty Little Liars gets set to begin the second half of its 5th season this evening its audience can only be set to expect more mind-blowing plot twists, steamy moments between the show’s most loved couples, and maybe a final reveal of this “A” character who was thought to be revealed several times before (but probably not as there will be at least two more seasons of this creeper’s antics). You really never know what can happen on Pretty Little Liars. Two things about the show are for sure though. The first is that Pretty Little Liars’ cultural impact through digital and social media and the risky issues it wasn’t afraid to cover will be remembered by its viewers for years to come (not to mention it will be remembered by all the fun nights I shared watching it with my two favorites) and the second is that “A” is everywhere.

The famous PLL pink golf cart. (Bitches is censored)

The famous PLL pink golf cart. (Bitches is censored)

(FYI if you were wondering where those numbers came from:

Bibel, Sara (March 20, 2012). “Monday Cable Ratings: ‘WWE RAW,’ ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Top Night + ‘American Chopper,’ ‘Basketball Wives,’ ‘Lost Girl’ & More”. TV by the Numbers. Retrieved March 20, 2012.

http://www.thefutoncritic.com/ratings/2012/03/20/abc-familys-pretty-little-liars-finale-generates-the-most-social-media-buzz-in-television-history-networks-number-1-telecast-ever-in-women-18-34-144411/20120320abcfamily01/ )