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Norman Fucking Rockwell!: Album Review

On Labor Day Weekend, Lana Del Rey released her sixth full length album Norman Fucking Rockwell! The new album brings more of that haunting pop sound that Lana is so famous for. Lana collaborated with famed producer and Bleachers front man Jack Antonoff on the record. Leading up to the release, she released several singles contained on the new record including a cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time”.

I’ve been a fan of Lana Del Rey since the Born to Die days. In my opinion, her first three albums had a similar sound and feel. But since Honeymoon, her fourth album, her sound has chilled out even more, which is saying something for Lana Del Rey. Norman Fucking Rockwell! brings back some of what I’ve been missing from Lana Del Rey music for the past few years, yet still ties in that melodic, haunting and peaceful sound that has been a primary element of her last two records.

I will say lyrically Lana’s later records have more meaning and depth compared to her earlier works. However, there is something pretty awesome about the line “My pussy tastes like Pepsi cola…” This new record brings in plenty of summer and west coast vibes with songs like “California”, “Doin’ Time”, “Fuck It I Love You” and the nearly 10 minute long track “Venice Bitch”. A lot of Lana Del Rey’s music has a similar carefree Bohemian style quality with themes involving love, sex, partying, America, and the west coast. I feel like her music is something I should be against yet, I fucking love it.

If you’re into Lana Del Rey, you’ve clearly already checked out this album. Otherwise, you probably don’t need to listen to this one. It’s nothing extraordinary unless you’re already a Lana fan. Although, if you’re a west coast fan, you may find a few gems in the track listing. If you’re a Lana Del Rey fan who hasn’t listened to this one yet, you should definitely listen to Norman Fucking Rockwell! asap.

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Feed the Rhythm Inside

Right before the new year I was involved with an event in Philly called HiJinx. The night before working my role for the small festival I stayed at my friend Noah’s house. We hung out with his friend Lou, had a few drinks, and played a dice game called Yamslam. He put on some background tunes while we chilled and then suddenly I heard a song that really caught my interest. It had an upbeat electronic pop sound. It made me want to get up and dance or crush a work out right there. I asked Noah who it was and he goes, “Client Liaison!” I never heard of the band. Flash forward 8 months later and now I’m a Client Liaison fan as well.

Client Liaison is an Australian indie pop duo. The group is comprised of Monte Morgan and Harvey Miller, who attended Grammar school together in Melbourne, Australia. Along with their tunes, the duo is well-known for their high quality music videos. Their first was for their first single “End of the Earth.” The song and video was released in 2012. It wasn’t until 2014 that Client Liaison released a debut eponymous EP. They began touring around the same time in support of Miami Horror and later joined Flight Facilities on tour. They began playing some Australian summer festivals in 2015 and 2016, but also made their U.S. festival debut at Firefly in 2015.

The band released their debut album Diplomatic Immunity in November of 2016. The music video for the track “A Foreign Affair” earned Client Liaison a J Award in 2017 for Australian Music Video of the Year. The band has yet to break into success in other parts of the world like the U.S. and Europe, but I feel like it’s only a matter of time before they do. Since their debut album, the band has released the singles “Survival in the City” in May 2018 and “The Real Thing”, which debuted 3 weeks ago. They will soon be releasing their second album and already have a fall tour in their homeland of Australia planned.

Client Liaison’s sound combines indie pop and electronic music. It has a very 80’s/early 90’s feel as well. That style is replicated through the band’s appearance and music videos. The song that hooked me on the group was “Feed the Rhythm” off their self-titled EP. Most of their tracks have an upbeat groove similar to that song.

Unfortunately I’m not sure if or when I’ll have the opportunity to see Client Liaison perform because their music has yet to take off in the U.S. I keep hoping they’ll either tour here or gain a few more fans in the States that really up their U.S. cred. For now, I’ll just keep listening and trying to spread the word about this duo from down under. So check these guys out! “Turn up the treble to the level and the speakers to the sky”, they’ll keep feeding the rhythm and they’re definitely full of good indie pop vibes.

Between Us: Album Review

This album review is coming in two months late, but better late than never, especially for the debut album from electronic artist, Hayden James. I wrote a blog post about Hayden James last year. I became obsessed with his song “NUMB” last May and it was a song I continually listened to through the rest of 2018. This summer he released his debut album Between Us on June 14, 2019. The Australian DJ has been in the music world since 2013. He had only released 1 EP and plenty of singles up until his album release in June, but he’s been known for some killer tracks.

His first album features a few of those songs. “NUMB”, “Just Friends”, and “Better Together” are on the record amongst several new tracks. All three were released over the last two years. Leading up to the album release, James dropped the song “Nowhere to Go” as well. The album features collaborations with indie electronic artists Elderbrook and Running Touch. Between Us is filled with house music that will get you in the groove from top to bottom. I can hear a lot of these songs being played in clubs worldwide, if they’re not already.

To all my electronic music fans out there, I urge you to check out Hayden James if you haven’t already. This new record is filled with bangers. Hayden James just started his fall tour in support of the album. He’ll be hitting several U.S. cities in September and October as well as playing dates in Australia and Europe. The tour seems relatively small based on the amount of dates and venues, but that might not be for long as I’m sure his fan base is currently growing. It’s time to hop on the Hayden James train because it’s moving at full speed and not stopping any time soon.

Doom Days: Album Review

Since Bastille released their sophomore album in September 2016, they’ve still been very much active in the touring and music world. They toured through 2017 and released new music in 2018 including the chart topping hit “Happier” in collaboration with EDM DJ Marshmello. It all lead up to the release of their third album Doom Days on June 14th.

Bastille’s new album is another indie pop/rock masterpiece from the British band. I feel like every Bastille album is just a continuation of the prior. Their tracks have catchy hooks that seem to stick in your head well beyond the 3-4 minutes you spend listening to a song. The consistency of their sound and vibe is a thing of beauty. I think part of the reason for that is Dan Smith’s smooth, hypnotizing vocals. Their sound also dives a little bit deeper into electronic music this time around. “Another Place” has a tropical house feel to it. “Million Pieces” also bridges that gap into electronic music. Lyrically the new record feels like it’s about getting through tough times. Songs like “Quarter Past Midnight”, “Joy”, and “Those Nights” are perfect examples of that theme. 

Bastille will be embarking on a fall tour in support of the album across the U.S. and Canada. They also have announced dates across the U.K. and in Australia. I’ve already picked up a copy of the new record and have planned to try to catch them on this tour. Bastille has put out consistently good records since their debut in 2013. They also put on a great live show. Definitely listen to this new record whether you’re a fan or casual listener because it’s another good one. You’ll probably fall into it just like I did and just like “The Waves”, you may even “get carried away.”

Fever Dream: Album Review

After working two festivals and being forgetful about the blog for a month and a half, I’m back with an album review. In fact, in the past few weeks several artists I like have released new music and I’ll probably do a couple more reviews in the coming days/weeks.  First up is the latest from Of Monsters and Men, Fever Dream.

Fever Dream is the third full length album from the Icelandic indie folk pop group. It was released on July 26th. This is also the band’s latest album since 2015. The band hinted working on new music in spring 2017 via their instagram, but “Alligator”, the first single from Fever Dream, dropped a little under two years later. Fever Dream is full of melodic indie pop jams similar to their first two albums. There’s not one particular track that stands out as being “that song” like “Little Talks” was on their debut, but there are several songs that will surely grow to be popular amongst fans of the band and indie music fans alike. One of those songs is “Wars” which is about a mind war between loving and not loving someone. One of my personal favorites is “Ahay”. What I can say about the track is that the chorus is extremely catchy.

As I mentioned, over the years Of Monsters and Men has stayed consistent on their sound. The vocals of Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson create a beautiful harmony which have become a signature mark of the band. They’ve also stayed within the realms of a mixture of indie pop and indie folk music, which is always a good thing as a fan. They’ve also routinely used native instruments like the glockenspiel as part of their music.

I’m definitely a fan of Fever Dream because I’m a fan of Of Monsters and Men. Even if you’re not a huge fan, the album is still worth a listen if you’re a fan of the indie pop genre. The new record is a great album to put in your car while heading on a road trip during these summer months. I felt like it was at least while driving to my gig the other day. This fall, the band will be embarking on a tour in support of their latest work. Check out Fever Dream when you have the chance and check them out in a city near you soon.

You’ve Got That Power Over Me

Back at Coachella this year during Weekend 1, I was walking out of the Mojave Tent after listening to Lizzo absolutely crush her set, when I was intrigued by the music I heard coming from the Gobi Tent right next door. I took a slow walk by the stage and really liked what I heard. It sounded like a mixture of pop, folk, and rock music. I looked to see who was on the stage and found out it was an artist by the name of Dermot Kennedy.

During Weekend 2, I went to his set with a friend after again hearing Lizzo perform some of her set. Although I was feeling kind of tired that afternoon and decided to sit on the side listening for a bit, I enjoyed listening to Dermot perform and told myself I was going to start listening to him after Coachella. Sure enough I followed through.

Dermot Joseph Kennedy is an Irish singer/songwriter/musician who hails from Rathcoole, Ireland, which is about 30 minutes from Dublin. He began playing guitar at age 10 and started songwriting by the age of 14, but did not start focusing on music until his late teen years. He played open mic nights, competed in talent competitions, and began busking on the streets of Ireland to get noticed. However, the use of a streaming platform is where his breakthrough came from.

He developed a following through Spotify and self-released music on the platform for the last couple of years. He released his self-titled debut album on January 4th and was signed to major label Interscope Records shortly after. His sophomore album Without Fear is set to be released in late September. Kennedy spent the last two years touring in Europe, Australia, and the U.S. He even played several major U.S. festivals including Bonnaroo in 2017, Lollapalooza, SXSW, and Austin City Limits in 2018, and Coachella in 2019. He will again be embarking on tour this fall in the U.S., Canada, and Europe in support of his newest album.

Kennedy’s style is just as I described it – a mixture of pop, folk, and rock music. He even incorporates a bit of hip-hop on a few of his tracks. His sound at times reminds me of a darker, more Irish version of Ed Sheeran. Yes, you can definitely hear the Irish accent in his music too. It’s actually pretty sick!

As I mentioned I first heard of Dermot Kennedy while attending Coachella this year. That’s why it’s always worth it to walk around and check out some sets by artists you might not know anything about at any music festival. You might just find something that you really like. I always feel like Coachella brings me to listen to different artists or gets me into artists I only knew a little bit about before. It was no different this year with the introduction of Dermot Kennedy. I highly recommend checking him out since he’s still very much on the rise. I may even try to see one of his shows during his tour this fall. He’s super talented and his tunes are pretty good as well. Here’s a few you might want to check out:

  1. Power Over Me
  2. Outnumbered
  3. After Rain
  4. A Closeness
  5. Glory

I Believe That We Will Win…Again

It’s hard to believe that four years ago the USWNT won their third World Cup beating Japan 5-2. This summer they’re back on the world’s stage competing for their fourth world championship. The 2019 U.S. Women’s World Cup team has many different faces than the ones that played four years prior, but it has a few you may know as well. Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, and Tobin Heath are among the few returning players competing for the coveted World Cup trophy. Several new faces like Crystal Dunn, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis, and Mallory Pugh have joined the mix this time in addition to several other new, fresh faces. Whether new or old though, every player has one thing on their mind: winning the World Cup.

This post is late in the sense that the World Cup has been underway for about 2 weeks now. The Knockout Stage began this week and the U.S. survived just barely their Round of 16 matchup. After starting their World Cup journey with a commanding 13-0 victory against Thailand, the Gals pulled off a 2-1 win against Spain Monday to earn a spot in the Quarterfinals this Friday against home favorite, France. After the Women’s World Cup draw in December, it was pretty much a guarantee that to win the World Cup this summer the U.S. would have to go through the #2 ranked home country. Whether the U.S. Women win the entire tournament or not, this quarterfinal match is guaranteed to be one for the ages.

In the four years since the last World Cup, my life has changed entirely. Four years ago, I was enamored with women’s soccer, but I was also amidst a path of discovery in working towards goals for my future. I owe a lot of credit to women’s soccer and the USWNT players for inspiring me to believe in myself enough to chase my dreams. Now, here I am, living my own dreams, which means unfortunately I don’t dedicate as much energy to women’s soccer as I did four years ago. For that reason, this will probably be my first and last post about the tournament this summer. I promise I’m still watching as many games as I can and following the new Gals on their journey this summer, but I have a lot going on in my own world as well.

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to be as into the tournament this year as I thought I would anyway. Over the last four years there were changes on the USWNT that I wasn’t a fan of. My favorite player, Ali Krieger, was basically blacklisted for the last two years with 98 caps to her name. It discouraged my interest in the USWNT. That changed in March. Krieger was called up to USWNT for two friendlies in April. It was her first time being invited to camp in the last 2 years. Then right after I returned from Coachella, the roster was announced. Krieger was on it. I couldn’t believe it. I was so stoked. I knew that I needed to follow the team more in depth this summer as a result. I even bought a new jersey with the Warrior’s name and number on the back, of course.

I know it’s crazy to say that one player made the difference on the USWNT for me. It’s a team sport after all. I started out being a fan of the team in 2011 before I learned anything about the individual players. But, it was the way that Krieger was treated that made me dislike what was happening to the USWNT.  She stopped receiving playing time when she was a part of the team, until she finally stopped getting called in to camp altogether. She was playing well at the time and she had 98 caps too. 2 shy of the 100 mark, an honor bestowed to many world-class players to ever wear the U.S. soccer crest. What happened to her was cruel and I didn’t like the direction the team was heading in because of it. It forced players like Whitney Engen and veteran Heather O’Reilly into retirement from the team when they still had the ability to play on the highest stage. I hated it. So I stopped paying attention. I also put my main focus on my own dreams, which was just as, if not more important.

But here we are. It’s 2019. Ali Krieger is playing in her third World Cup (she went a full 90 versus Chile). I’m working music festivals (I watched her play against Chile while working Bonnaroo). And the USWNT is chasing down the fourth star. I think it was meant to be even if the past 2 years sucked along the way. Plus, I probably needed another reason for Ali Krieger to inspire me. I really don’t know if the U.S. will win the World Cup this summer. I want to believe they will, but I really don’t have a feeling one way or another. I’m just along for the ride. I do know that even if they don’t win, 2019 already feels like a win to me in so many ways in the soccer world and beyond in my own life. All I want to do is keep winning. So yes, I do believe that we will win again, but I also believe that we already won. Here’s to 2019, being full of more sick times, huge wins, and BIG MOODS…LFG!

Father of the Bride: Album Review

On Friday, one of my most anticipated albums of the last year came out. Since early 2018, I’ve been waiting for the release a new Vampire Weekend record. Friday it happened. Vampire Weekend’s latest album, since Modern Vampires of the City came out in 2013, Father of the Bride was released. The album’s been teased for months with the release of singles like “Harmony Hall”, “2021”, “Sunflower”, “Big Blue”, and most recently “This Life” and “Unbearably White”. Finally the full album is out and I must say it’s not what I was expecting, but it hasn’t disappointed me yet either.

Father of the Bride is one of those albums that need to grow on you. It’s clear that in the last six years things have changed for frontman and songwriter Ezra Koenig as well as for the band itself (original member Rostam Batmanglij left the band in 2016). The sound is much more different than prior Vampire Weekend records. Koenig’s vocals are the one thing that distinguishes many of the new tracks as being Vampire Weekend songs. There are elements of country, jam, and pop in the record, which is much different from the former albums that have taken sounds from music of other cultures.

Another new addition to this album is the collaboration with Danielle Haim from the sister trio group Haim. She’s featured on three tracks and provides background vocals for a few other songs as well. As a big Haim fan, I’m into this. I never expected the collaboration, but I sort of love it? It adds a female voice to Vampire Weekend that didn’t exist prior. The songs featuring Haim are the ones that sound much different than typical Vampire Weekend. I do like it, but I also kind of wish the songs were more Vampire Weekend sounding with a Haim addition instead of being more Haim sounding with a Vampire Weekend addition.

It’s evident that with FOTB Vampire Weekend has grown and matured in life and in music. In fact, I noticed while seeing them at Lollapalooza last summer that the people attending their set were all older, probably in their 30’s or late 20’s, which if you’ve been to Lolla you know is rare because there’s an overflow of high school and college kids every where. It was pretty cool. So I guess in a way with their new music, Vampire Weekend is growing with their fans. Overall I like the album. I don’t love it. There are a few tracks that are sure bangers, mainly “Harmony Hall” and “This Life”.  The rest really need to grow on me. As I listen to the album more and more though in preparation of seeing Vampire Weekend in concert in September I’m sure I’ll be into a few more songs. I’ll probably still be jamming to “A-Punk”, “Walcott”, “Unbelievers”, and “Oxford Comma” though too. And if you’re a big Vampire Weekend fan I’m sure you’ll be doing the same.

Coachella 2019 Recap

I never got a chance to post about the set times. As soon as I arrived in Indio, I got down to business and before we all knew it Weekend 1 began. I haven’t posted a Coachella recap since I attended because I really didn’t get much free time working the festival the last two years. This year that changed a bit. I took a new position about 2 weeks before I flew to California and the rest is history.

I worked a lot during the days leading up to the festival. I also worked Thursday and Friday, Day 1, but by Saturday I was free to have fun and prepped at my leisure for the following week. I worked offsite at the Renaissance Hotel in Indian Wells doing check-in for the campground I work at. On Thursday we were open from 12 p.m. until 2 a.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., which changed to 8 p.m. during Weekend 2 because of the road closures happening around 9. We also opened for an extra 6 hours on Saturday morning-early afternoon of Weekend 1 because more people than expected did not check in. However our check-in manager released me around 7 p.m. Friday night of Weekend 1 so I went to the festival and was able to see every Friday night act I wanted to see.

The 1975 set was my favorite of the festival. It was crazy because I walked into Coachella and went straight to the Main Stage for the set. I didn’t stop to take Coachella in like I normally do when I get in the festival for the first time. There was barely time to look at the art or anything else. It was worth it though for the set I was about to see. Matt Healy brought it, from cool visuals to a moving platform onstage that Healy walked and danced on. I also stood next to two members of the band All Time Low, which made for an added bonus to the set. I danced my face off and had the best time. As soon as the 1975 ended we went straight to Outdoor for the end of RÜFÜS DU SOL. I tried not to prioritize RÜFÜS because I’ll be seeing them in August, but I was happy to catch some of their set. They killed it as usual. Once they ended, it was back to Main Stage for Janelle Monaé. She was a lot of fun and brought tons of female fire power to the Main Stage. She even brought out Lizzo during her set.

Throughout the two weeks I was able to see all of if not part of almost every artist I wrote about. I saw Turnover, Bob Moses, part of Maggie Rogers, part of Gryffin, part of Tame Impala, Mansionair, Lizzo, Zedd, and Ariana Grande Weekend 1. Maggie Rogers played at the Gobi tent which was way too small for the masses that she brought to her set. That was the only reason I went to Gryffin instead during Weekend 1 since their sets overlapped. I stayed for her entire set Weekend 2 since it was slightly less crowded. During Weekend 2 I saw ARIZONA, all of Maggie Rogers, Weezer, part of Billie Eilish, part of Lizzo, Dermot Kennedy, most of Zedd, CHVRCHES, and NGHTMRE. I also attended Kanye’s Sunday Service, which was a once in a lifetime experience. I skipped Mac DeMarco overall. I feel like I really attended Coachella this year, but worked at the same time. Dermot Kennedy was really the surprise set for me this year. He was incredible and made me a fan. His style is very Bon Iver-esque, but Irish. CHVRCHES was also an incredible set. It was definitely my second favorite, which worked out to be the second to the last Coachella set I saw Weekend 2. My favorite set, The 1975, was the first set I saw Weekend 1. I definitely started and ended Coachella strong.

Once Saturday hit, I had time to take in the art, which payed homage to art of the past 20 years, and enjoyed plenty of ice cream in the festival as well. The astronaut from 2014 came back with a new design, as well as the hippos from 2015. The Spectra tower will be there for a few more years and was also back. The event also had several more pieces for Coachella fans to take in. The antarctic dome became one of my favorite attractions on the final day since it featured a RÜFÜS DU SOL theme this year. I went inside 3 times. I was also inside the festival for the ideal sunset hours and fully immersed myself in the Coachella vibe.

I love Coachella so much as you all know, and I’ve loved working it and attending it. This year held a special place in my heart though. I met new people, got closer with people I knew before, and got to hang out with so many of my friends over the 3 weeks I spent in the desert (Stagecoach included as Week 3). I felt a happiness that made me appreciate music, my life, my job, and the people I’m surrounded with. I don’t really have the appropriate words to describe it. It was beyond words for me this year, and I hope next year can compete.

Thanks again Coachella for all the big moods, good vibes, and sick times. There’s no place I’d rather be.

Coachella Band Preview: Billie Eilish

Guess what…Coachella 2019 begins next weekend!!! The three month wait is almost over! With that being said, there’s been a few changes since my last blog post. It was just announced this week that Kanye West will be performing his Sunday Service on Easter Sunday during Weekend 2! This is big news. Since Kanye and Justin Timberlake dropped off the bill as Coachella headliners, the hype for this year diminished some. Adding Yeezy to Weekend 2 was the perfect addition Goldenvoice needed to generate more excitement for a weekend that didn’t sell as well in certain aspects. The other change/news that happened is that I’m no longer going to have the same position at the festival that I committed to and have worked for the last 2 years. It’s definitely me stepping outside my comfort zone a bit, but I accepted on certain conditions, with some of the biggest being that I had great access and some free time to enjoy my favorite festival! I’m not sure I’ll be able to be at the event on Friday so I might be skipping the 1975, RÜFÜS DU SOL, and Janelle Monaé, which is a huge bummer, but I’m hoping for the best regardless.

With all of that news and my departure date now being a day early, this will be the last blog post for a little while until I return from my stay in Indio. If I have a second next week, I may make a post about set times and which sets to hit, but no guarantees. So for now let’s get into the last artist I’m previewing this year, Coachella newcomer, Billie Eilish.

Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell, from Los Angeles, California, had an interest in music from a young age. She joined the Los Angeles Childrens’ Chorus at the age of 8 and started writing and singing her own music by the age of 11. She also comes from a family of actors and musicians. In 2015, at age 13 she recorded the song “Ocean Eyes”, which was written by her brother Finneas for his band. The same song was released as Billie’s debut single on SoundCloud the following year. She also released the single “Six Feet Under” in 2016. At the end of the year “Ocean Eyes” was released worldwide through Darkroom and Interscope Records.

In January 2017, Billie released an EP of “Ocean Eyes” remixes. Her third single “Bellyache” was released in February. She released several more singles in 2017 leading up to the release of her debut EP Don’t Smile at Me. One of the singles she released in 2017 was included on the soundtrack for Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why.

Billie embarked on tour in 2018 and continued to release singles. She contributed to the soundtrack for the second season of 13 Reasons Why with the song “Lovely” featuring Khalid. Just last weekend Billie Eilish released her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?. The debut album features a few already released singles, but a ton of new music.

Billie Eilish’s music is a soft, dreamy type of pop music. It’s comparable to the sound of artists like Lana Del Rey and Alina Baraz. It’s super vibey. Eilish’s vocals are trance-like and you can tell her musical influence draws from plenty of different styles of music.

I first heard Billie’s song “Ocean Eyes” while in Sacramento for an event in 2017, but I didn’t realize it at the time. It was actually the Goldhouse remix of the song too. Once I figured out what the song we were listening to in that fateful Snapchat video from Sacramento was (“Ocean Eyes”), I decided to download it. Since being announced on the Coachella lineup and hearing about Billie Eilish from a lot of different sources, I decided to start listening to her a bit. She’s definitely going to be a highly anticipated set this year at Coachella.

She plays Saturday. In her first Coachella appearance she’s already highly billed as well. I think Saturday has a stacked lineup, but I’d expect to see Billie on the Main Stage or the Outdoor Stage. We only have a few more days until set times are released for Weekend 1, so at least you don’t have to wait that long to find out anymore anyway. You have one more week to listen to all the Coachella bands and songs so here’s a few more from Billie Eilish to add to that list:

  1. ocean eyes
  2. lovely
  3. when the party’s over
  4. bury a friend
  5. idontwannabeyouanymore
  6. bellyache
  7. you should me in a crown
  8. wish you were gay
  9. watch
  10. my boy

 

Since this is the last band preview of the year, Happy Coachella Guys! I hope your Coachella is filled with sunshine, great tunes, and all the good vibes!