Month: February 2018

Coachella Band Preview: Vance Joy

Coachella 2018 Weekend 1 is just over six weeks away and I can finally say I’ll be back out there for my third Coachella! I just received an offer to work the festival again at the end of last week. My hype level was at a high for sure. After working last year and soaking up every minute, I always felt like I would be the luckiest person ever to return the following year to do the same thing. Now it’s actually happening! So cool. So so cool. Another cool thing about Coachella this year is that Vance Joy is performing.

Vance Joy, a.k.a. James Gabriel Wanderson Keogh, is a musician from Melbourne, Australia. He came on to the music scene in 2013 with his smash hit “Riptide” and hasn’t gone back since. He just released his second studio album, Nation of Two on Friday.

Vance Joy, whose name comes from the Peter Carey book Bliss, released his debut EP God Loves You When You’re Dancing in March 2013. In the time between the EP release and his debut album in 2014, “Riptide” peaked at the number 6 spot on the ARIA Singles Chart. It was also used in a U.S. GoPro commerical and reached spot 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the Alternative and Rock Airplay charts.

His debut album Dream Your Life Away was released in September 2014. He toured worldwide in support of the album, then joined Taylor Swift on her 1989 World Tour as an opening act. Besides opening for Taylor Swift in 2015, Vance Joy played Coachella, Governor’s Ball, and Austin City Limits among others. He also won an ARIA Award for Best Male Artist and was nominated for awards in six other categories for Dream Your Life Away. In 2014, he made festival appearances at Bonnaroo, Firefly, Glastonbury, and Lollapalooza. Tour life continued into 2016 with the Fire and the Flood Tour. The extensive touring ceased in 2017, but Vance Joy still played a few shows and festivals last year.

Vance Joy’s music is part of the indie music spectrum. It falls into the indie pop and indie folk categories. His music really does sound like a fitting combination of the two genres. One of Vance Joy’s signature elements is the use of a ukulele in several of his songs, “Riptide” being part of that group.

I first heard of Vance Joy because of the song “Riptide” (of course!). When I downloaded the song in the spring of 2014, it was before his first album was released. Since then, I’ve gotten into several Vance Joy songs. I even heard his performance at Coachella in 2015. He played at either the Gobi or Mojave Tent and it was too crowded to actually see his set. My cousin and I sat outside and listened instead. I also saw him perform at Panorama last summer. I caught some of his set since I was working the entire day. I definitely enjoyed it. He puts on a great live show.

I’m guessing that since the last time he played Coachella and his set was over-crowded that he’ll probably perform at either the Coachella Stage or the Outdoor Stage. He plays Sunday. He’s not listed as one of the top acts that day but I’m sure he’ll be performing in the late afternoon hours on one of the larger stages. It wouldn’t make sense to for him to have another time slot at a different stage. If I were just attending, his set would definitely be one I would try to catch. From a working perspective though, I would only catch it if I was off work at the time he performed. He’s a great musician and I love his music, but I have seen him before. Plus there are a couple others on Sunday that I would pick first if it came down to that. Regardless, if you’re attending, go to his set! I guarantee you’ll know something (even if it’s just “Riptide”) and you’ll be entranced by what you don’t know. Here’s a few songs you might want to check out to get you ready though:

  1. Riptide
  2. Georgia
  3. Like Gold
  4. Fire and the Flood
  5. Mess is Mine
  6. Lay It On Me
  7. Saturday Sun



Coachella Band Preview: St. Vincent

February is finally almost over. It seems like winter tends to drag on because life moves slower. It does for me at least. There are less shows, barely any festivals, and the snow sucks. Thankfully, Coachella and the rest of festival season is inching closer and closer. This week to prep for the Coachella Valley’s finest I’m previewing an artist who goes by the name of St. Vincent.

Anne “Annie” Erin Clark, better known to the world as St. Vincent, began her music career as a member of the choral rock band the Polyphonic Spree, after attending the Berklee College of Music for 3 years. Before starting her own group in 2006, she was a member of Sufjan Stevens touring band too. During her childhood, Clark began playing guitar at the age of 12 and was a roadie for her aunt and uncle, jazz duo Tuck & Patti. She got her stage name of St. Vincent from a lyric in Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ song “There She Goes, My Beautiful World”.

In 2007, St. Vincent released her debut album Marry Me. After extensive touring for the album over that year, Clark began her second album in 2008. The album, Actor, was then released on May 5, 2009. It was more well received than her debut as it peaked at 90 on the Billboard 200 Chart as well as 9 on the Independent Albums Chart and 5 on the Tastemaker Albums Chart.

Strange Mercy, St. Vincent’s third album, was released on September 13, 2011 receiving tons of critical acclaim and peaking at 19 on the Billboard 200. Clark toured worldwide through 2012 then it was back to the studio to work on her next album. In 2012 she also released a collaborative album with with former Talking Heads lead guitarist and vocalist and fellow Coachella 2018 performer David Byrne.

Her fourth album, St. Vincent, was released in February of 2014. A few months prior she announced a world tour in 2014 and released two singles in anticipation of the self-titled album. Again the album was well received and ranked highly in multiple publications. The album earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album which she subsequently won. Her touring for the album continued into 2015.

Her most recent album to date, Masseduction, was released on October 13, 2017. It was Clark’s first album to peak in the top 10 of Billboard’s 200 Chart upon release. It reached the 10 spot. It also sold close to 30,000 copies in the first week of its release with 25,000 of those being traditional album sales.

St. Vincent has a very unique music style. You may classify it as indie rock, but the sound often uses complex arrangements and an array of instruments. Sometimes it sounds pretty wild and almost like music in the background of a horror movie. It’s music in a true artistic form and complemented by lyrics that often diverge into madness. Clark’s voice is that of a former choir girl and adds beauty to the mixture of sound.

I first heard of St. Vincent while reading one of the Pretty Little Liars novels. In the book, it mentioned one of the girls on a drive listening to St. Vincent’s “Actor Out of Work” and singing it at the top of her lungs. I decided to listen to the song after reading that part of the book since I had never listened to St. Vincent before then. I really liked it and decided to download it. Since then I had only downloaded “Digital Witness” after hearing it in 2014. I never really got into Clark’s music as a whole, but for some reason, I began listening to the singles released for her most recent album “New York” and “Los Ageless” over the summer. At the end of November, I worked one of her shows on her “Fear the Future” Tour. I was also able to listen in on some of her VIP  Q & A and stay for most of the show after I finished work. I always appreciate a Q & A because I feel like you get to learn a bit about band or artist. This was no exception. I developed an appreciation for St. Vincent and Annie Clark. Not to mention, I had recently purchased Masseduction. The show was overcrowded though. I couldn’t see much from where I was standing and I ended up leaving a little over halfway through to make it home. I did enjoy it though and would love to see her again if I had the opportunity.

Coachella would be the perfect opportunity if I was attending this year. She would definitely be on my must-see list for Friday. She’s listed as a highly billed act this year so I would expect a late afternoon-evening set. If you’ve never seen her or listened to her music before, it’s pretty artistic. I think that element alone can make people curious to hear her and/or see her live. She also has plenty of visuals during her performance that add to the artistic nature of her music. To get you prepped for her third Coachella performance here’s a few staples you should check out:

  1. Digital Witness
  2. Cruel
  3. New York
  4. Masseduction
  5. Actor Out of Work
  6. Marry Me
  7. Cheerleader
  8. Birth in Reverse
  9. Los Ageless
  10. Surgeon


Coachella Band Preview: Sir Sly

I don’t know about you, but winter is really getting to me. I’m sick of the snow, the ice, and the freezing cold. April needs to get here stat. Thankfully we’ve reached the 2 month Coachella countdown this week. That means it’s time to crank up the jams on another band playing the festival this year, Sir Sly.

Los Angeles based indie pop band Sir Sly formed in 2012. At one point no one knew anything about them when they reached number one on Hype Machine, a website music database that ranks the latest and greatest tunes from music blogs. They came out of nowhere with their debut single, “Ghost.” Shortly after, they revealed themselves. The group is comprised of Landon Jacobs, Jason Suwito, and Hayden Coplen. Their first album, You Haunt Me, was released in September 2014. A few songs from the album were featured in video games and ads, giving their music some exposure.

After the release and touring from their debut ceased, life happened for guitarist and vocalist, Landon Jacobs. He went through a divorce and his mother passed away from brain cancer. It inspired Sir Sly’s second album, Don’t You Worry, Honey, which was released on June 30, 2017. The music on the album doesn’t sound devastating though. The album is about being able to experience joy through pain. The lyrics focus on some serious stuff while the fun-sounding music makes it bearable. One of the most successful songs from the album, “High”, was featured on the soundtrack to Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why.

Sir Sly is described as an indie pop/rock band, but their music also has influence from other genres like electronic and psychedelic music. They kind of sound like Tame Impala meets Local Natives meets The Neighbourhood. Their music isn’t extremely upbeat, but very vibe-y and super chill.

I first heard of Sir Sly over the summer. My friend got into them and told me about the group because she liked their name. She thought it was a pun on the word “seriously”. The group actually came up with the name because it sounded cool and they didn’t want to take themselves too seriously. Kind of ironic eh? I listened to whatever song she sent me at the time and thought they sounded pretty good. I then realized that they were on the 13 Reasons Why soundtrack, which I had watched in June. I definitely liked the song “High.” Since then I feel like I’ve seen this band pop up more and more. They were booked for a summer concert around where I live that never ended up happening and their music constantly appears on Spotify playlists. Since my introduction to them, I’ve been slowly getting into their music because of this. Every once in a while I’ll get into a new Sir Sly song, but not several songs at once. It’s a slow process. Sometimes listening to music happens that way, but before you know it you realize you know almost all of a band or artist’s songs.

Sir Sly plays on Saturday at Coachella. They’re not billed very highly so I’d expect them to play in the early to late afternoon hours. They’re definitely a group to check out if you’re at the festival then and don’t have any one else you need to see. I would most certainly check them out if I was going and available, even though at this point I know about 3 or 4 of their songs. It’s bands like Sir Sly that will be the ones that impress you the most at Coachella though. You go in only knowing a song or two and come out wanting to listen to more. Here’s a couple songs just to give you a taste of this band:

  1. High
  2. Astronaut
  3. &Run
  4. Ghost
  5. Gold

Crooked Shadows: Album Review

Way back when I started this blog, I wrote about my love for Dashboard Confessional. They changed my life in high school and got me into good music (click here for a more detailed description). They were my favorite band back then. For the past 9 years though, they’ve been M.I.A. as far as new music goes. Honestly, if you were to tell me a year ago that I’d buy a new Dashboard album, I wouldn’t have believed you because the style of music Dashboard plays doesn’t match my current interests. Plus their music reminds me of a specific time in my life that I’ve grown past. I still appreciate them for that time though. I’ve just moved on.

A little over a year and a half ago, I worked a Dashboard Confessional show. They were on the Taste of Chaos Tour with Taking Back Sunday, Saosin (with Anthony Green), and The Early November. It was an honor to work and one of my greatest full circle moments to date. I had the opportunity to stay for the show after I finished work and I, of course, took advantage it. I left early to watch the Stanley Cup Final (my team, the Penguins, were on the verge of winning the Cup) but stayed for about 5-6 Dashboard songs. However, I doubt I would have attended if I wasn’t working. That’s the best example I can give you of my recent feelings towards Dashboard Confessional. Three months ago that changed slightly.

Dashboard Confessional released their first single from their new album Crooked Shadows in November (the album was released on Friday). I saw it as a new music release on Spotify and decided to listen because I was curious. The single, “We Fight”, was pretty good. It was better than I expected. I wouldn’t say I was hooked, but I was happy their new song was something I would listen to. I felt the exact same way upon hearing Brand New’s “I Am a Nightmare” in June 2016 and The Movielife’s “Mercy is Asleep at the Wheel” over the summer. At that time, I also saw that Dashboard announced a new show date in my hometown in late January. I thought to myself that I’d definitely go to the show as long as I had nothing else going on. I even tried to see if a few friends were interested, but I delayed getting tickets in case something came up.

I ended up being able to go and took my mom to the show. She was always a fan of Dashboard when I listened to them in high school so I thought she’d appreciate seeing them at least once. The show was fantastic. I loved it, especially lead vocalist/guitarist Chris Carrabba’s stage presence. It definitely evolved over the years. It was fun to stay for the whole thing this time around and sing all my favorite songs again with a few new ones in between. Speaking of new songs, a week before the show they released another single, “Heart Beat Here.” This time upon listening, I was hooked. The song was a perfect blend of something I would listen to now mixed with that classic Dashboard Confessional sound (essentially Chris Carrabba’s voice). At that point, I thought to myself, “I might actually have to get this new album.” On Friday, I did.

Crooked Shadows, Dashboard Confessional’s seventh full length album, was released on Friday. The album is relatively short compared to the others. It’s only 9 songs long. Within those 9 songs though is the complete re-birth of a 2000’s emo band to a 2018 indie/alternative rock band. This album is far from emo. It’s purely indie rock mixed with indie folk, electronic, and alternative rock. It’s such a great blend of my current interests with classic Dashboard that I fell in love with it in a matter of hours. If you want anything reminiscent of old Dashboard, I’d recommend listening to the songs “Open My Eyes” featuring violinist Lindsey Stirling or “Just What to Say” featuring Chrissy Costanza. “Heart Beat Here” has an old Dashboard feel as well. At the Dashboard show I attended two weeks ago, Chris said the song is a continuation of “Hands Down.” I don’t know if I’d agree as far as the sound goes, but it’s definitely a great song. That track along with the other first five are absolute jams. My favorites are “About Us” and “Belong” (with Cash Cash) which I had on repeat Friday afternoon. “We Fight” is included in that bunch as well. I currently have the album in my car and I’m sure I’ll be listening to it on repeat for the next week or more.

This is the second time in less than a year that I’ve fallen in love all over again with one of my favorites (the first was Foster the People over the summer). Although I think this time, I’ve just fallen in love with new Dashboard so it’s kind of like falling love all over again. I would recommend their new album to anyone at this point, but especially to those whose music interests have grown and changed, much like mine have. Dashboard Confessional is back in the best way possible.

Coachella Band Preview: Fleet Foxes

Attention: We have now entered February. That means a measly 2 more months until the Coachella Valley Arts & Music Festival takes over the Indio desert. I hope you’ve been listening to some festival bands if you’re headed out there this year. This week’s preview features a band that has been around since 2006 and will be making only their second festival appearance.

Fleet Foxes, from Seattle, Washington, formed around 2006 when high school friends Robin Pecknold and Skyler Skjelset began making music together. They decided on the name Fleet Foxes because Pecknold thought it sounded like “some weird English activity like fox hunting” and because their original name “Pineapple” was already taken by a local punk band.

The band became popular through playing the local scene and through MySpace. It was because of the hype through their MySpace page and word of mouth that the band signed a record deal with Sub Pop, a subsidiary of Warner Music Group, in 2008. After releasing their first self-titled EP in 2006, the band then went on to record the EP Sun Giant with their new label. Their self-titled debut album was released 2 months later on June 3, 2008. It received favorable reviews in the U.S. and was named album of the year by Billboard’s Critic’s Choice, but was better received in Europe, selling 200,000 copies in 5 months after its release.

The band wanted to release a follow up album in 2009, but their tour schedule delayed that from happening. It wasn’t until May 3, 2011 that Fleet Foxes’ sophomore album, Helplessness Blues, dropped. The album eventually received a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album at the 2012 Grammy Awards.  Through 2011, the band toured in support of the album. After touring ceased it was announced that then drummer, Josh Tillman, had left the band. Tillman went on to start a new project recording and releasing albums under the moniker Father John Misty.

From 2012 until early 2017, news about Fleet Foxes was relatively quiet aside from new album rumors here and there. It wasn’t until January 2017 that it was confirmed that the band was working on a new album. The album, Crack-Up, was announced in March and was released in June 2017.

Fleet Foxes are primarily an indie folk band. You might call them folk rock too. A signature element to their sound is their harmonizing vocals that almost sound like you’re listening to the Beach Boys. Their music is far from surfer pop though. To me, their sound is what you’d expect indie music to sound like, so much so that I believe listening to their records on vinyl would be the best way to listen to them.

I first started listening to Fleet Foxes shortly after I entered my indie music/hipster phase. It happened in early 2012. I downloaded a few of their songs then purchased Helplessness Blues a few days later. It was only during that winter that I listened to Fleet Foxes. My interest in the band didn’t really extend beyond that, but in that time I did fall in love with their sound and “White Winter Hymnal”. There’s something about indie folk in the winter that just feels right to me. I think I can attribute that to Fleet Foxes.

Fleet Foxes plays Coachella on Saturday. As I mentioned it’s their second Coachella. They’re no strangers to the festival but it is their first time playing since 2009. They’re billed as one of the top acts that day so I’d expect to see them on the Outdoor Stage or Main Stage in the early evening hours. Saturday does have a stacked lineup with Haim, alt-J, and Post Malone, but I’d expect them to play around the time the sun sets. I could be wrong, but I can’t imagine a more perfect sound track to that time of day. Here’s a few songs to check out to get you ready for the moment they take the stage, whenever that time may be:

  1. White Winter Hymnal
  2. Helplessness Blues
  3. Mykonos
  4. Blue Ridge Mountains
  5. Montezuma
  6. If You Need To, Keep Time On Me
  7. Ragged Wood
  8. Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
  9. Your Protector
  10. Bedouin Dress