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Cover Songs

Yesterday my friend Bev and I got into a deep discussion about music covers. It was prompted by a video I shared with her where the background music was a cover of Talking Head’s “This Must Be The Place” by jam band, The String Cheese Incident. We delved into a deep discussion about her particular taste in covers, my taste in covers, and covers that would never do justice to the original artist or bands. I’m assuming everyone knows what a cover is but just in case you don’t, when someone says a song is a cover it means that the song is a recording or performance by someone who is not the original artist.

There have been plenty of cover songs throughout history that have become more successful than the original. A great example of this comes from legendary rock n’ roll singer Elvis Presley. “Blue Suede Shoes” was originally a song by Carl Perkins. Elvis also did plenty of Chuck Berry covers. Then of course there’s some controversy surrounding the song “Hound Dog”. Some claim that Elvis stole the song from Big Mama Thornton. Truth be told though when Elvis rose to fame racial prejudices were much greater than they are today. As a white singer, he brought many songs that may have been sung by or written by black musicians to fame. Hence, all of Elvis’s music being written by someone other than Elvis, which isn’t uncommon even today, but still.

Another example of this is “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles. The original song was by The Isley Brothers who are also famed for their song “Shout”. To be honest, I didn’t realize until today that “Twist and Shout” was a cover. I was looking for some covers on Spotify and saw it on one of their playlists. Part of me believes I knew this at one point and just forgot but the other part of me is kind of shocked.

Besides these songs a few other famous covers are Otis Redding’s “Respect” covered by Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” covered by Jimi Hendrix (Dave Matthews Band also frequents this cover too), Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” covered by Whitney Houston, Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” covered by The Chicks (formerly The Dixie Chicks), Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” covered by Jeff Buckley, The Guess Who’s “American Woman” covered by Lenny Kravitz, Robert Hazard’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” covered by Cyndi Lauper, and Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. There’s also been some recent covers in the spotlight. Two years ago Weezer got some airplay from covering Toto’s “Africa” and lately an indie artist named Ritt Momney is getting some huge hype over his cover of “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae. The list goes way beyond this too. I’m sure you’d be surprised to know just how many famous songs are actually covers. I know I was.

My friend Bev seems to love covers that capture the essence of the original song especially when the original was by a well-known band or artist. What I think makes a great cover is when the song is given a new “spin” or feel like when an artist known for a certain genre of music covers a song of another genre. This is why I was always a fan of the Punk Goes… album series growing up.

These albums started in 2000 with Punk Goes Metal and by 2002 the first Punk Goes Pop album was released. Most of the Punk Goes… albums are cover songs aside from Punk Goes Acoustic which are just acoustic recordings of original songs. While hosting my own radio show in college, I would occasionally do cover shows where I played a lot of covers from these albums.

Although I don’t really listen to punk/pop-punk/alternative music these days, I’m always looking out for a great cover whether it does the original justice or not. I still love and appreciate hearing unique covers. However, strangely enough, I don’t usually love remixes, which I feel are electronic music’s version of a cover song. I have a few I enjoy, but in this instance I seem to enjoy the original version of the song more. I’m not sure if we could even consider these “covers”, but unless a deejay has someone else singing the track, how would they cover the song? I definitely think a remix is “sub-genre” or so of a cover for this reason.

If you’ve ever played an instrument or sang a song, you’ve probably played someone else’s music or sang someone else’s lyrics. It’s a pretty standard practice in music. But just be careful if you ever plan on officially releasing covers. There are copyright laws surrounding music, but thanks to the Copyright Act of 1909 we’re able to create covers (usually with some negotiations between the artists involved and ASCAP or BMI…I linked the act for more info). No matter what your preference is on cover songs, I bet you’ve heard plenty and even have a few favorites. I obviously do so I figured I’d share some of mine to end this post.

  1. “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bon Iver (Bonnie Raitt cover)
  2. “99 Red Balloons” by Goldfinger (Nena cover)
  3. “Everywhere” by Yellowcard (Michelle Branch cover)
  4. “Umbrella” by All Time Low (Rihanna cover)
  5. “Megan” by Bayside (Smoking Popes cover)
  6. “Blitzkreig Bop” by Foster the People (Ramones cover) (performed live only, not recorded so check out a live version on Youtube)
  7. “That Don’t Impress Me Much” by HAIM (Shania Twain cover)
  8. “Skinny Love” by Birdy (Bon Iver cover)
  9. “Walking On A Dream” by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness (Empire of the Sun cover)
  10. “Over My Head (Cable Car)” by A Day to Remember (The Fray cover)
  11. “Start Today” by Fall Out Boy (Gorilla Biscuits cover)
  12. “Mad World” by Gary Jules (Tears for Fears cover)
  13. “A Thousand Miles” by Mac DeMarco (Vanessa Carlton cover) (performed live only, not recorded so again check Youtube)
  14. “What I Like About You” by The Suicide Machines (The Romantics cover)
  15. “Hospital Beds” by Florence and the Machine (Cold War Kids cover)

The Umbrella Academy

So it’s been a while since my last post. So much for spending this time at home writing more. Honestly since the craziness began, it’s been difficult at times and I haven’t felt as inspired to write as I normally do. I did plan on another album review a few weeks ago, but the album release was postponed until next month. Look for that in the coming weeks. However, I didn’t want another month to go by without making at least one post and the second season release of one of my favorite series on Netflix made for some perfect timing.

During my flight to Coachella last year, I began watching a Netflix series about a family of superheroes based on the comic book series of the same name created and written by My Chemical Romance front man Gerard Way. The series is called The Umbrella Academy. Since watching the entire first season last spring, I’ve been anticipating season two. It filmed last year and was scheduled to debut this summer. Thankfully, even with the world wide crisis of 2020, it’s still coming out on time aka TOMORROW! You could actually say the second season of the series debuts at midnight tonight. I can’t wait to watch!

The story of The Umbrella Academy begins on October 1, 1989 when 43 women around the world gave birth simultaneously despite not showing any signs of pregnancy until labor. Seven of these children were adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves, a very wealthy man, and turned into a team of superheroes called The Umbrella Academy. Each of the children are named as numbers by Hargreeves, but received regular names from their robot mother.

The series begins in present time and shows the current lives of the Hargreeves children, but routinely flashes backwards (and forwards because time travel is a part of the series) to tell the story of how the superheroes came to be. The story also develops to where the Hargreeves are headed, which seems to be certain doom. Without revealing any major spoilers, the first season ends with the apocalypse and the season that begins tonight should pick up with the Hargreeves going back in time to find out a way to stop the apocalypse from happening.

The Umbrella Academy is packed with an all-star cast of Tom Hopper as Number One/Luther, David Castañeda as Number Two/Diego, Emmy Raver-Lampman as Number Three/Allison, Robert Sheehan as Number Four/Klaus, Aidan Gallagher as Number Five, Justin H. Min as Number Six/Ben, and Ellen Page as Number Seven/Vanya. The cast also includes Mary J. Blige, Cameron Britton, Kate Walsh, and Colm Feore among others. The series was created for Netflix by Steve Blackman and developed by Jeremy Slater. Gerard Way is also one of the executive producers of the series.

I’ve always been a fan of Sci-Fi/Fantasy films and television series involving superheroes and super powers from Marvel films to Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers so when I saw this series on Netflix before I left for Coachella last year, it was a no-brainer to download the first few episodes to watch. I watched every episode I downloaded on my way to California and downloaded the rest for my trip home, again watching each one. It’s kind of a bummer that I don’t have a flight to be on to binge watch the new season this time around, but I’m glad to have the free time to do it anyway. I went in blindly to season one, not knowing anything about the series aside from the fact that it looked pretty cool. The same is true for season two. I haven’t read any previews nor do I know what to expect. I’m just overall excited to watch the Hargreeves in action again after becoming a huge fan of The Umbrella Academy. I feel like I haven’t been hyped on many Netflix/TV series in a while except this one so if that says anything to how much I think you should check this show out, then take my word for it right now and check this show out. If you’re still sitting around with not much to do like I am, it’s worth a watch. Even if you’re busy, make some time this month because it’s sure to be an action packed second season.

So again….tonight! Midnight! Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy! Catch you on the stream!

Women in Music Pt. III: Album Review

I’ve been patiently waiting for Haim’s third album, Women in Music Pt. III to drop. Some of the bright spots of this year have been the release of new music so I’ve been looking forward to this brand new album by one of my favorite bands. The album was slated for release on April 24th, but due to the current world wide crisis was pushed back for a late summer release. Then it was bumped up to a June 26th release date. June 26th was Friday, which means the album is finally out!

Haim has been releasing new music for almost a year now with “Summer Girl” dropping at the end of last July. Several other singles have also dropped in the lead up to the album release. Before live music ceased in March, Haim was in the midst of a Deli tour that honored their Jewish roots. The band was playing small shows at famous delis in a few locations around the country in honor of their first show ever being at Canter’s Deli in L.A. in 2000. The band played two of those scheduled dates before the country began to shut down. In honor of the album’s release though, the band did a live stream on Friday from Canter’s.

The biggest difference between Women in Music Pt. III and Haim’s first two albums is that this one hits deeper. The song topics get personal and more sad than their earlier works. Many songs on the album sound like the total opposite of that though. I’ve heard them described as “sad bangers”. A few tracks also add hints of jazz and Caribbean/tropical vibes to Haim’s west coast style pop/soft rock. Overall the album offers versatility in sound and lyrics compared to Days Are Gone and Something to Tell You. It’s got the Haim we’ve always loved (my favorite song “Don’t Wanna”) plus the Haim that is growing and pushing their style more (“Los Angeles”).

When live music is finally a thing again, expect plenty of tour dates and festival dates from these three sisters. I would even expect them to join the lineup for Taylor Swift’s festival next summer. Until then, bask in the greatness of this new music we were given in the strangest of times. It’s a great soundtrack for the summer and one you should take in before you can see them perform again. For me, new music is one of the only things that has felt the way it’s supposed to feel and I owe Haim and whoever else is releasing new music this year for this piece of comfort in a very uncomfortable year.

Nochella 2020

It’s been several days since the news finally broke about the year’s biggest party in the Indio desert being cancelled. 3 months ago I would have been absolutely devastated to hear about Coachella being cancelled. In fact I spent a weekend crying about it. Over the first few weeks after Coachella got postponed and live music every where ceased to exist, it became evident that Coachella in October was probably not going to be a thing. I stopped thinking about it. I hosted my own Couchella during the Coachella weekends. I watched the new documentary and decorated a room in my house like the polo fields. I even watched former live Coachella sets. I tried to celebrate Coachella as it should be celebrated in the best way I could.

Even though I expected this to happen, I’m still bummed about the news. This year has really become the year without live music and it’s absolutely heartbreaking. Times are so strange right now. Life feels so weird and everything is upside down. I actually prefer being home these days since at least it’s comfortable. Home is the world I’ve always known, but I still miss the rest of the world as I knew it too. I miss the days when two weeks in the southern California desert listening to music with thousands of people on fields at a polo club would cure any similar heart break.

Time felt like it moved so slowly in March. Then it started to speed up. Now, 3 months later, it feels like we’re 3 months closer to be able to live, breathe, exist, and listen as we’ve done for our entire lives. Coachella 2021 dates have already been set, but even next April is in question right now. The uncertainty of it all feels like someone has taken a bat to my stomach and knocked all the air out of me. The only thing we know is that live music will be back the way we knew it at some point, we just don’t know how long it will take and I really hate thinking about it. I’m just trying to focus on right now and enjoy what I have in the present.

However, until it’s back, I’ll also still be here yearning for the days spent admiring flower crowns, sweating in the afternoon sun at the Outdoor Theatre, capturing pictures of art installations and that iconic ferris wheel, losing myself to the electronic beats of the Sahara tent, relaxing in the air conditioned Arctic Dome, drinking yerba mate and living my best life with my co-workers, indulging at catering, appreciating the palm trees and snow peaked mountains, eating In-N-Out Burger, catching one of my favorite bands at sunset, spying celebrities, witnessing ground-breaking headlining performances at the main stage, and getting lost in the good vibes and good tunes that only Coachella has to offer. We’ll be back there some day and I can’t wait for that moment. Can’t wait to see you again Coachella. You know I’ll be prepped and ready and I hope you will be too.

Notes On A Conditional Form: Album Review

In a time where there’s not much in the immediate future to look forward to, we thankfully still have music. New albums and songs are still being released. Some releases may have been delayed, but they’re still happening this year. For an industry that’s been crushed by this world wide crisis, it offers a glimmer of hope and an abundance of jams.

Today, The 1975 dropped their highly anticipated fourth album, Notes On A Conditional Form. The album release was twice delayed already this year, but every few weeks a new single from the album was released in the lead up to this weekend’s official release. To me, this feels like The 1975’s most ambitious album to date. Stylistically, it crosses genres, yet still maintains the indie/synth pop sound well associated with The 1975.

An inkling of this genre breach happened when the band dropped one of the new album’s first songs, “People.” The track sounds more like a punk rock/hardcore anthem than anything you’ve ever heard from The 1975 in the past. I remember being pleasantly surprised with the vibe of the new song as someone who grew up listening to punk and hardcore music, but I still questioned where the band was going with it. As more songs were released, I was assured that their new album would be full of stylistic surprises.

In early April, The 1975 released the song “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America,” which features indie folk rock artist, Phoebe Bridgers, who was supposed to join the band on their 2020 tour until it was inevitably postponed. The song is a testament to Bridgers’ folk rock style. The only thing that gives it away is Matty Healy’s vocals, but even Healy’s sound succumbs to the song style. “Playing on My Mind” also has that indie folk feel.

“Roadkill,” which wasn’t released prior to the full album, sounds like it could’ve come off a Sam Hunt record. It’s got an unmistakable country twang. Despite the country vibe, it still feels like a 1975 indie pop song. I kind of love it. There’s also a few interlude tracks on the record that bridge into another genre as well. These songs take the standard synth pop sound of the band into a more electronic sound. “Shiny Collarbone” and about halfway through “Having No Head” are those dance tracks.

The album is full of songs that sound like what you would expect from The 1975 too. There’s several bangers like “Me & You Together Song”, “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)”, and “Frail State of Mind” and smooth rock ballads like “Guys”, “The Birthday Party”, “Don’t Worry”, and “Nothing Revealed/Everything Denied.” It’s honestly such a great mix of music.

Like I said, this album feels different than what we’re used to from The 1975, but it blends genres remarkably well and still gives us the sound that we’re looking for. It may have taken me an album to actually get into The 1975 (I really got into them after “The Sound” from I like it when you sleep…), but I’ve been a fan ever since. I’ve always really been into their hits. “The Sound” (obviously), “Sex”, “Heart Out”, “Chocolate”, and “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” are a few of my favorites. This new album feels different in a good way though and even the songs I don’t typically fall for, I love. I think if you’re an indie music fan or a music fan in general, you can find something on this record that you’ll like. It’s got something for everyone. But really, you might just love it all, it’s that good. So give it a shot. If you don’t find it appealing, my solution is that maybe you would like it better if you took off your clothes. (Of course, that one is my favorite!)

Sad Philly Boy Music/Coachella Band Preview?

It’s been a while since I last blogged. It almost feels like I actually did go to Coachella since this is what usually happens. I write Coachella blogs until I leave for Coachella then stop until I return from being out in the desert for a few weeks. At this point I should have no excuse for not writing. I’m home. The problem was I couldn’t figure out what to write about. There’s a few upcoming albums I plan to review, but until then I haven’t really discovered anything new I like, until Saturday.

I’ve been talking to my friend Kelsey for most of quarantine. We’re quarantine buddies for sure and we’ve agreed that it feels a lot like being in high school since we’re both with our families. Kick in the nostalgia. We often talk about bands we grew up listening to like Brand New and Taking Back Sunday. We were both emo/punk/alternative kids. Lately though, quarantine has brought in some deep cut local bands and musicians that were a part of our teen scenes. I started talking about Title Fight and how my friends and I watched them play small venues in our area as they grew bigger in their scene. She sent me a picture of her and her prom date Alex and then told me how he’s now in a band that sells out large venues. That’s when I first heard of (Sandy) Alex G.

According to Kelsey, (Sandy) Alex G, aka her high school friend Alex Giannascoli, really started when he was in high school. He was in a pop punk band called The Skin Cells with several of their other friends. Kelsey even sent me one of their songs Saturday night. It was great. She said Alex was super dedicated to music and would record his own stuff in his room, put it on CD, and personally decorate the CD. She said it felt like he did this at least once a month. He was good too. She always thought he would be famous one day and she wasn’t lying. He’s now an indie recording artist.

He began self-releasing music on Bandcamp between 2010-2012. His music spread by word of mouth and music blogs and eventually lead to his signing with Orchid Tapes who he released his debut album DSU under in 2014. At that time he was just Alex G. In 2015 he signed with Domino Recording Company and began releasing records under that label. He released three albums with Domino in 2015, Rules, Trick, and Beach Music.

In 2017, Alex G announced that he would be changing his name from Alex G to (Sandy) Alex G shortly before the release of his album Rocket. The album ranked on many indie publications’ lists as being in the Top 50 of the year. In September, Alex released his latest album House of Sugar, which again received similar accolades

(Sandy) Alex G is a typical indie artist. His music also bridges into that post-punk/pop-punk/alternative scene that bands like Turnover and Tigers Jaw are a part of. He’s also from suburban Philly. Based on his style, he probably attracts a large following of “sad Philly boy” fans, which is a term I’ve heard referring to the new indie scene of young urban outfitter wearing 20-somethings that originated in Philly. Regardless of what your style is, if you’re an indie music fan, you’d dig what (Sandy) Alex G has been putting out.

Normally, at this point of the year Coachella would already have passed and we would be looking forward to next year. Unfortunately at this point, 2020 hasn’t happened and no one’s really sure if it will. That being said who knows what happens to the 2020 lineup? If it happens this year, will the same artists be playing? If it doesn’t, do they play next year? I’m sure Goldenvoice has already started booking a 2021 lineup that looks much different than this year, but I bet if Coachella 2020 doesn’t happen in the fall there may be some smaller acts booked for the following spring. The reason I’m even talking about this is because (Sandy) Alex G was supposed to be on the lineup this year! He was slated to play Sunday. Even though everything is very TBD right now, I’m hoping he still plays in October and if not, I’m hoping he’s on the 2021 lineup. I’d love to see him out on the polo fields and I now have plenty of time to listen to his music. So big shoutout to Kelsey for the introduction and big shoutout to Alex for putting out this great music since high school.

 

 

 

Music’s Got Me Feeling So Free

Couchella Weekend 1 was a huge success. The documentary was fantastic and a great reminder of happier times both in the past and to come. I learned a lot about Coachella from it. I watched it each day of what would have been Coachella 2020 Weekend 1 including a special Friday premiere viewing party with a few of my Coachella coworkers. I decorated the room a bit to feel like Coachella and trust me it kind of did. It helped me separate from the outside world much like actually working a festival does. It also introduced me to new music, which is what I need to write about today. I mean new as in the sense of I wasn’t really into the music before last weekend because this group has been around since the 90’s. Their set in 2006 was very notable in the history of Coachella and that group is Daft Punk.

The French electronic music duo Daft Punk was formed in 1993. After their lack of success in the punk band Darlin’ (which also included Laurent Brancowitz of Phoenix), Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter created Daft Punk. They went in a different direction musically, after being introduced to the rave scene. The name “Daft Punk” came from a negative review of Darlin’ which referred to their music as “a daft punky thrash.” The group got their break at a rave in 1993 when they handed off a demo to Stuart McMillan of the Scottish electronic duo Slam. Slam had their own record label Soma.

The duo hired Pedro Winter to be their manager and signed with Virgin Records in 1996. In 1997 they released their highly anticipated debut album Homework, which included their earlier singles “Alive” and “Da Funk” along with “Around the World.” They released their second album Discovery in 2001. The album had a more of a synth-pop sound than what the group was known for from their debut album, but it lead Daft Punk to commercial success. The album reached the Top 10 in music charts throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the U.S. When performing during their earlier days, the duo would cover their faces with different masks. It wasn’t until Discovery came out that they adopted their robot alter egos.

In 2005, Daft Punk released their third album Human After All. Despite reaching high positions on music charts throughout the world, the album didn’t quite have the success that Discovery did. In the early 2000’s Daft Punk also got into the visual entertainment sector and released two films, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem in 2003 and Daft Punk’s Electroma in 2006. As I mentioned before, 2006 also brought Daft Punk to Coachella for their first and only Coachella appearance. They debuted their famous pyramid that they also used on tour that year.

In the years between their third and fourth album, the duo was again busy working on films, specifically the soundtrack for Disney’s Tron: Legacy. Then, they won their first Grammy in 2009 for Best Electronic/Dance Album for their live album Alive 2007. They also won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording for “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.”

On May 13, 2013 Daft Punk released their fourth studio album Random Access Memories. The album featured collaborations with Nile Rodgers of Chic, Pharrell Williams, and Julian Casablancas of The Strokes. The album became their most successful album to date with hits like “Get Lucky”, “Instant Crush”, and “Lose Yourself to Dance.” The record earned them peak positions on music charts worldwide as well as numerous accolades and awards including a Grammy for Album of the Year. In many countries the album has reached Platinum status or beyond. Daft Punk were also co-producers on Kanye West’s 2013 album Yeezus.

Since Random Access Memories and the few years that followed, Daft Punk has been relatively quiet. Their most notable project came in the form of collaboration with The Weeknd on his hit singles “Starboy” and “I Feel It Coming” in 2016. They’ve since been working on solo projects.

Daft Punk’s style of electronic music is very much house music. Through the years though, it’s varied album by album. It also incorporates elements of rock and disco. Personally I think Daft Punk’s music is ahead of its time, especially the album Discovery, but again I might not know that much about the history of electronic music since I’ve started listening to it only in the past few years.

I first learned of Daft Punk around the time of Random Access Memories due to the popularity of the album. I wasn’t a fan of their biggest hit song “Get Lucky” though. It was still at a point where I detested main stream music nor did I like EDM. I didn’t understand the hype and in the past few years as I got into electronic music, Daft Punk wasn’t really a name I heard often unless it involved headliner predictions for Coachella.

The Coachella documentary shed some light on Daft Punk for me. After watching the scene about their 2006 set, I thought to myself, “Wow this looked like a lot of fun! Maybe I should see what Daft Punk is about.” So I started listening to some of their stuff on Spotify. I realized I heard plenty of Daft Punk tracks over the years, but it was probably just background music for me. So I went through their discography and listened to tracks from all their albums. I listened to them while I attempted to cook my favorite dish from Coachella catering last weekend. It hit me that I’d been missing out on Daft Punk for a while now. I finally understood the hype. I’ve now become one of those people who hope Daft Punk is on every Coachella lineup. I would love to see them live. I want to see them live and I want to see them at Coachella.

With all the negative outlooks for the relatively near future, no one is sure when live music will be back, especially large-scale events like music festivals. Who knows when the next Coachella will happen, but when it does happen again it will likely be an epic event. In the mean time, I can always remind myself it took me 4 years to get to Coachella from when I first wanted to go. I can also do my best to take in Weekend 2 of what would have been Coachella 2020 as best as I can. I plan on watching the documentary each day of Weekend 2 just like I did during Weekend 1 and I also plan on watching some full Coachella sets from past years that I found online. I watched RÜFÜS DU SOL’s 2019 Weekend 1 set last weekend (I was actually at the set for the end half too!). This Weekend I have Dillon Francis’ 2019 set, Foster the People’s 2011 set, and yes, Daft Punk’s 2006 set because I found it in full on YouTube. I can’t wait to see how fun it actually was and I can’t wait for the day we’re all back at Coachella. Hopefully we’ll be listening to Daft Punk live one more time. It could happen. We could get lucky.

Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert

Since I left Coachella last year, I hoped to spend today checking in guests who stay at the campground where I work at the festival. I even expected it from mid-July until the beginning of March. Then, life changed unexpectedly. Even now with Coachella rescheduled for October, everything is uncertain. It’s crazy because life is always uncertain. Anything can happen at any moment to change the course of the expected. Sometimes it could incredible, great, or good. Sometimes it could be terrible, awful, or bad. Sometimes it could be crazy, wild, or unthinkable. Regardless of what it is, it could happen because nothing is ever a guarantee. With that being said, most times we can rely on things. We can make plans and look forward to them. Right now though, everything is predictably uncertain, when usually it’s just predictable. It’s hard to tell where we’ll be in a few weeks let alone a few months given the state of the world. So, I think the best we can do right now is take it one day at a time and remain hopeful, but also keep expectations low. With that advice it’s safe to say I’m still looking forward to this weekend, specifically tomorrow for reasons involving Coachella.

In January, Coachella announced a documentary premiering on Youtube on March 30th that would commemorate 20 years of the festival. Over the last month sometime though, they announced that the premiere would happen April 10th at Noon PST, the exact time gates were supposed to open for Weekend 1 (big sigh). Over the last week the festival has been promoting the documentary, calling the circumstances surrounding the premiere “Couchella.” They even released a preview for it that features many acts who took to the Coachella stages over the last 20 years like Beyoncé, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Post Malone, and the famous Tupac hologram. The preview also included commentary from Billie Eilish, Moby, Ice Cube, and Perry Farrell. In addition to that, they’ve been teasing a few acts in the documentary throughout the week.

The other day I checked the Coachella website and it has since been updated with a whole page about the documentary. It gives a timeline of each year and mentions an artist for each one. They’ve also added 4 playlists featuring those artists and more. I’m expecting the artists mentioned on the page to be featured in the documentary. If it’s anything like the 2006 documentary, I’ll probably love it. My heart will also probably ache for Coachella. I’ll wish I was there instead of here. I’ll wish everything was predictable instead of predictably uncertain. Honestly over the next 2-3 weeks, I’ll wish I was in Indio. I already do. That’s where I was supposed to be. Nothing is going to change that feeling for me, so I might as well embrace it and just let myself feel it. I waited long enough and I deserve to feel it.

So I decided, for the next two weekends, which were supposed to be Coachella 2020, I’m going to try to live my best Coachella life and Couchella. I’m going to watch the documentary every day. Maybe I’ll mix in the 2006 documentary as well. I’m also going to try to find a video of last year’s Sunday Service from Coacheaster. I plan to attempt to make my favorite dish from catering too, Orzo pasta with cream sauce. I’ll probably look at old pictures and videos I took from 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 too. It won’t be Coachella but I’m making Coachella a part of my life over the next two weeks regardless of the fact that it’s not actually happening. I have nothing better to do anyway so why not?!

I encourage you to do the same. There’s no reason you can’t live the greatest party in the desert in your own head and dream about the next Coachella whenever it happens to come. It will come too! If I can wait 4 years from knowing about Coachella to actually attending, we’ll be able to get through this wait. See you on Youtube when the gates open! Happy Couchella!

 

You’ve Never Danced Like This Before

I’m defining this quarantine/isolation by the number of days we have without concerts or festivals. Currently we’re on Day whatever. In the meantime, I’m going to be posting weekly and I’ll be using this time to catch up on a few artists I’ve wanted to write about. Back in the fall Milky Chance released their third album Mind the Moon. I’ve never been a huge Milky Chance fan, but there were several tracks on the new album that I absolutely loved. I wanted to write about them at the time, but there were rumors they would be at Coachella. I decided to hold off because I anticipated writing about them in my Coachella previews. Needless to say, they weren’t on the lineup and I needed to focus on writing about the acts that were. Now, since we have some time, let me tell you a bit about this German folk band.

Milky Chance was founded around 2012 when members, Clemens Rehbein (bass) and Philipp Dausch (guitar) played in a jazz group together. When the group broke up, the two still kept up their musical connection and began writing and recording their own music. They began posting it to YouTube. The band recorded their first album Sadnecessary in 2013 after only playing two live shows. It was the song “Stolen Dance” that really became their claim to fame. The song became a viral hit on YouTube and earned them top spots across music charts in Germany and many other countries in Europe as well as reaching number one on the Billboard Alternative chart. From 2014-2016 the band toured extensively in support of their debut album, playing shows and festivals throughout Europe, North America, South Africa, and Oceania. They played their first Coachella in 2015.

In 2017, they released their sophomore album Blossom. They toured worldwide through 2018, but their second album did not have as much commercial success as their debut. Their latest record Mind the Moon was released on November 15, 2019. Again it still hasn’t reached the level of success as Sadnecessary but I will say it’s a pretty good record.

Milky Chance is primarily an alternative folk band but they also incorporate elements of reggae, jazz, and electronic beats into their music. In this way a lot of their songs sound different from one another. Two of my favorite songs on the latest record show that. “The Game” has a reggae/electronic feel while “Oh Mama” has this hip-hop/middle eastern/folk sound. One thing has remained persistent over the three records though and that is Rehbein’s deep and hypnotic vocals.

I can only imagine Milky Chance will be back on the touring and festival circuit soon once live music also resumes in support of their latest record. They’re a pretty unique indie alternative band because their music is so varied. I’ve seen them perform once, back at Coachella in 2015 when I attended. I remember not being impressed by their live performance, but I know I only saw part of their set. I’d be willing to give them another chance. They’re definitely worthy of a listen if you’re a fan of indie, folk, or reggae and given the time we all have now, it’s always worth it to discover something new.

Good Spring

It’s kind of amazing how much has changed since I last posted. Two weeks ago my big concern was hoping Coachella wouldn’t get cancelled. Now it’s hoping that I’ll get to work again at some point this year. In the last 3 weeks the world has just gone downhill. Three weeks ago it was unimaginable. Now it’s the standard and it’s crazy how I’ve already settled into it. For me it’s been a re-adjustment. When I first started this blog, I was in the midst of a time in my life where I was unemployed. I stayed home a lot. I tried not to spend much money. I would occasionally do things like drive an hour to the nearest Chipotle once a month. It’s kind of like that now with even less opportunity to do anything to pass the time. It’s heartbreaking when I think about it, but I’ve been getting through it and I’m reminded every day just how lazy I can be. I’ll buy into this thing though if it ends with me being able to work again, see my friends, and enjoy live music sooner rather than later. I don’t really know what other options I have. It’s all pretty shitty and hopefully the music industry gets some support soon.

When I last posted, I know I said I’d have a lot more time to write, but I really didn’t realize just how much time I’d have. Since then, I did a lot of thinking about music during this down time. The moment we all get to enjoy concerts and festivals again is gonna be pretty special. I also think we’re gonna get a lot of great new music out of this, which lead me to think about a great record that was created after Justin Vernon of Bon Iver spent months escaping the world, For Emma Forever Ago.

Bon Iver’s debut album was made while Vernon spent November 2006-January 2007 at his father’s remote hunting cabin that was an hour northwest of his hometown Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Vernon decided to spend some time there to get away from society after dealing with having mono, a liver infection, and just general displeasure in his songwriting and life. While in the cabin, he hunted his own food. His father also visited him every two weeks or so to bring him beer, eggs, cheese, and other items he wasn’t able to hunt.

Vernon recorded 9 songs in the cabin that winter including favorites like “Skinny Love”, “Flume”, and “Re: Stacks”. He drew inspiration from multiple sources such as Bruce Springsteen, the Vienna Boys’ Choir, and Appalachian folk singers. He recorded the music for his songs first. Then he used wordless vocals to add to each song. The album represented major life events Vernon was going through at the time that ranged on topics of longing and lost love to mediocrity. When Vernon left the cabin in February 2007, he was still feeling ill and not particularly satisfied with his songwriting.

After about a few months, Vernon’s friends encouraged him to release the album so he did. He independently released it in June 2007 under the name Bon Iver, which is a misspelling of the french phrase “bon hiver” meaning “good winter”. The project gained popularity throughout 2007 into 2008 from many indie music outlets. For Emma Forever Ago was re-released in February 2008 under Jagjaguwar. It eventually made music charts worldwide and lead to plenty of success for Justin Vernon and his band Bon Iver.

I spent a few days last week listening to this album in full. It gave me a lot of comfort in knowing such a beautiful thing could come from isolation.  This is why I truly believe there’s going to be great music that comes out of this dark time. There’s going to be a lot beauty in general. Who knows how long this lasts or what’s to come for our future because for once I think everyone feels pretty uncertain. We will make it out though. There will be concerts. There will be festivals. There will be more new albums and songs. Things might be a bit different initially, but we’ll adjust and make them better. Maybe we needed this break. Maybe earth just needed this break. It will get better though. It always does. Be well in the meantime and I’ll leave you with this from Florence and the Machine, “it’s always darkest before the dawn.”