Month: October 2018

(That’s What I Call A) Rally Cry: Album Review

During Weekend 1 of Coachella 2017, I worked the late shift. I was on from 4 p.m. until midnight, which meant I got to check out the festival earlier in the day. Most of you who attend festivals know that a lot of the hyped acts play later timeslots. With that in mind, there weren’t many bands I went to check out before my shift started each day. However, on Saturday afternoon I decided to check out Arkells set on the Outdoor Stage. I knew one of their songs at the time, “Leather Jacket”, from doing some browsing on Spotify. Since the set was in the middle of the afternoon when the desert heat is at its prime, there weren’t many people in attendance, especially in the guest viewing area. I was essentially front and center for the set. That afternoon Arkells played one of my favorite sets that I saw at Coachella last year. They had great energy. I enjoyed their music without knowing much of it. They even brought a random festival-goer onstage with them to play guitar during one of their songs. It was so cool! I’m surprised I didn’t write about them sooner.

On Friday Arkells released their fifth studio album Rally Cry so I figured it was appropriate to do an Arkells post along with an album review. Arkells is a Canadian alternative rock band from Hamilton, Ontario that formed in 2006. The band is named after a street in the Westdale neighborhood of Hamilton where they used to live and practice together. Max Kerman (lead vocals, guitar), Mike DeAngelis (vocals, guitar), Nick Dika (bass), Tim Oxford (drums), and Anthony Carone (vocals, keyboard, guitar) comprise the band. Kerman and DeAngelis met while in college at McMaster University and discovered their similar taste in music. The rest is history.

Arkells released their first album Jackson Square in October 2008. They received some media attention in 2010 when Kesha and rap singer Shad joined them on stage for a cover of Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson” while performing at a small venue show after the 2010 Much Music Awards. In October 2011, they released their second album Michigan Left. That year the band also announced the departure of original member Dan Griffin (he was replaced by Carone). In the next few years the band continued to tour and received a few notable accolades, mostly in Canada. One of those was Group of the Year at the 2012 Juno Awards.

Their third record High Noon was released in August 2014. The album earned them Group of the Year and Rock Album of the Year at the 2015 Juno Awards. They also released the self-produced EP Study Music. While on tour in spring 2016, they teased a new record. That record, Morning Report, was released in August 2016. It was their fourth full length. In 2017 along with playing Coachella on the festival circuit they also played Osheaga Festival and Sasquatch! Music Festival. Their song “Knocking at the Door” peaked at #1 on the Canadian alternative rock charts. It was also their first track to reach US Alternative Charts where it peaked at #39.

Now Arkells are back with Rally Cry. I’ve listened to a few songs from their other albums and I have to say from their first album to their most recent, their sound has remained consistent. It’s pure alternative rock. Kerman has such powerful and somewhat distinct vocals. I feel like their music and even the lead vocals are a similar sound to that of Cold War Kids. I’ve been listening to their single “Relentless” for a few weeks now. It’s a jam and currently on my workout playlist. “People’s Champ” is a protest anthem of U.S. President Donald Trump, which isn’t the first time the band has taken a political stance with their music. “Whistleblower”, “The Ballad of Hugo Chavez”, and “Knocking at the Door” have political meaning as well. Another track on the new record “Saturday Night” gives off a Bruce Springsteen-esque vibe. Overall though, every song has that same alt-rock sound that has gained the band recognition in Canada over the years.

If you’re already a fan of Arkells, you should be stoked about this album. I definitely think they’re an underrated band in the U.S. Their music is great and after seeing them at Coachella, I can attest that their live performances are great too. I might be seeing them play again in two weeks too! They’ll be joining St. Lucia on their current headlining tour and I have plans to check out one of the shows. They’ll also be headlining a Canada tour in February 2019. It’ll be one of their biggest headlining tours to date as they play arenas across the “True North Strong and Free.” I feel like they have the potential to make a name for themselves in the U.S. at some point soon as well too. Definitely check them out sooner rather than later by giving both their newest album and older albums a listen. All five of their albums certainly have “gas in the tank to go all night long” on whatever medium you’re listening on!

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The Film Playlist: We Are Your Friends

It’s been a while since I wrote about a film for The Film Playlist series I created two years ago. I meant to add this one sooner too. I saw it almost a year ago. I won’t give you a ton of excuses as to why I didn’t write about this sooner but needless to say, it’s better late than never.

We Are Your Friends was released in late summer 2015. Then it made it’s way to DVD by later that year. It stars Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Shiloh Fernandez, Alex Shaffer, Jonny Weston, and Wes Bentley. It was directed by Max Joseph of MTV’s Catfish. Joseph and Meaghan Oppenheimer also wrote the screenplay that was based off the story by Richard Silverman.

We Are Your Friends is a drama that focuses on the electronic music scene and is set in Los Angeles. Efron plays DJ Cole Carter, who is looking for his big break in the electronic music industry. While playing a gig as an opener at a small club, Cole meets James Reed (Bentley), a once big-name DJ who’s headlining the show. Reed and Cole connect over music and Reed invites him to a party. After a night of drinking and drugs, Cole wakes up the next morning to find himself at Reed’s house where his girlfriend and personal assistant, Sophie (Ratajkowski), also lives. From there Cole’s career begins to blossom with the help of Reed.

Out of all the films I’ve seen that involve music, this is one of the only films that really explores electronic music and the type of rave scene involved with it. From the LA setting to the partying and drug usage, this film really shows the culture that surrounds EDM. It even shows the characters attending EDC Las Vegas, which is the most largely attended music festival in a one weekend period in the United States. All it’s missing is some hard core PLUR action. The film itself received average reviews and rightfully so. It’s no Academy Award winning film by any means. The thing that makes it stand out though is that it explores a type of music that has become huge in today’s world.

As for the soundtrack, it is fantastic…that is if you like to dance and are into electronic music. It includes the song by Justice and Simian that the film was named after “We Are Your Friends” as well as songs and remixes by Hayden James, Kygo, AlunaGeorge, Deorro, Gryffin, Years & Years, and Tchami amongst others. Many of the songs on the soundtrack are featured in the film.

If you’re a fan of electronic music or a fan of music in general, this film is definitely one you want to check out at some point. The film might not be the greatest as far as movies go, but its focus is what makes it unique and worthy of your time. There’s no question We Are Your Friends is a great addition to The Playlist though.

Brighter Days: Album Review

I like to think that the spring of 2016 is when I started to get into electronic music even though I know it was a progressive interest up until that point. There were several songs I had been listening to in 2015 through the beginning of that year but it was in spring 2016 when I actually got into an electronic artist, Australian DJ, Flume. Like I said though, by that point I was listening to several electronic songs regularly. One of those was the hit “Sweet Lovin'” by British electronic artist, Sigala.

I sampled a song or two of Sigala’s other music, but really only took a liking to “Sweet Lovin'”. Interestingly enough, it helped me bond with a fellow co-worker when I worked my first music festival that summer and I actually caught part of Sigala’s set at it.

Flash forward a little over 2 years since then and Sigala’s debut album Brighter Days is out. It was released last weekend. I wasn’t even aware that he had a debut in the works, but after releasing new music over the last 3 years since he stepped onto the electronic scene, it was bound to happen.

Sigala, better known to the world as Bruce Fielder, from Norwich, Norfolk, England released his first single in 2015. The single includes samples from the Jackson 5’s “ABC”. It debuted at number 71 on the UK Singles Chart, then hit number 1 the following week. Sigala’s second single “Sweet Lovin'” reached number 3 on the chart. In 2016, Sigala began touring. He played shows and festivals throughout Europe with three appearances in the United States, Ultimate Music Experience, Ultra Music Festival, and Firefly Music Festival. He continued touring mostly in Europe in 2017 and 2018 as well. In fact his appearances at Ultimate, Ultra, and Firefly mark his only U.S. appearances to date.

His first full length album Brighter Days came out last week on September 28th. The album features 16 tracks and includes many of his singles from the last few years like, “Easy Love”, “Sweet Lovin'”, “Say You Do”, “Give Me Your Love”, “Came Here For Love”, “Lullaby”, “Feels Like Home”, and “We Don’t Care”. Every song on the album is one that makes you want to dance. Sigala’s signature house/trop house/dance-pop style is evident on each track. The new album already features a few new bangers like latest single “Just Got Paid” featuring Ella Eyre, Meghan Trainor, and French Montana and “Ain’t Giving Up” featuring Craig David.

Sigala is briefly touring in the UK this month in support of his debut’s release, but there’s no doubt that the release should bring more touring for the English producer. Hopefully he’ll be back in the states soon and I’ll have another opportunity to check him out. I’m proud to say that I was at one of his only U.S. appearances to date. I only stuck around for a few songs though so seeing him again would be amazing, especially since I got more into his music after I last saw him perform. Sigala is definitely one of my favorite electronic artists so I’m telling you now to go check out his first album before he’s appearing in a city near you! It’s great music to dance to, chill to, drive to, and especially work out to. It has kept “me coming cause it’s all that I need” so it’s safe to say that it might for you too and you won’t be disappointed!