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.

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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

 

“Call Me By Your Name and I’ll Call You By Mine”

Several months ago while watching movie previews before a picture I was seeing, I saw the preview for a film that really piqued my interest. When that movie, Call Me By Your Name, came out on November 24th, I anticipated the time when I’d finally be able to see it in theaters. It was only released in major cities initially before making its way to this armpit of a place that I live in. I saw it about two weeks ago and it was one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen in a while.

Call Me By Your Name stars Timothée Chalamet as Elio, an artfully precocious 17 year old and Armie Hammer as Oliver, a 24 year old doctoral student who joins Elio’s family at their summer home in Italy for a 6 week period. The film was adapted from the novel of the same name by André Aciman. It depicts the love affair that develops that summer between Elio and Oliver. The screenplay was adapted by James Ivory and the film was directed by Luca Guadagnino.

The film begins at Elio’s family’s Italian countryside home in the summer of 1983 where Elio, his mother (Amira Casar), and father (Michael Stuhlbarg) anticipate the arrival of their summer guest, Oliver. Since Oliver is new in town, Elio takes Oliver on a tour of the area later that day. Elio also explains how he spends his summers. It’s not long before Oliver begins to partake in the summer activities of swimming in the river, hanging out with friends, and going out at night, and their love for each other begins to blossom.

Since being released in November, the film has received an assortment of critical acclaim and accolades. It was recently nominated for 4 Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor (Chalamet), Best Adapted Screenplay (Ivory), and Best Original Song (“Mystery of Love” by Sufjan Stevens). It received nominations at the British Academy Film Awards (4), the Critics’ Choice Awards (8), the Independent Spirit Awards (6), the Golden Globe Awards (3), and the Screen Actors Guild Awards (1). James Ivory received a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and Chalamet received Breakout Actor Awards from the National Board of Review, the Gotham Independent Film Awards, and the Hollywood Film Awards.

Like I said, I saw the film two weeks ago after anticipating seeing it for about two months. I was captivated by its beauty. Being set and filmed in Italy definitely adds to that. The story itself is special though. It’s almost a coming of age type of love for Elio as a teenager. He has such a strong infatuated love for Oliver throughout the film. Oliver subtly shows his interest for Elio as well, when finally they take the next step. Plus I wasn’t sure how that peach scene would play out, but now I totally get it! Since seeing the film, I’ve also begun to read the novel. My friend told me that there are many parts in the novel that were cut out of the film so I’m eager to compare them.

I highly recommend checking out this film. It’s such a great and powerful love story that isn’t a cliché romantic film or romantic comedy love story. It’s been in and out of theaters all over the country for the last 2 months. I’m sure it won’t be long before the film is released on streaming and DVD/Blu-ray too. If you wanted to see if before the Academy Awards airs though, I would make plans to see it as soon as possible because it seems to only stay in theaters for a few short weeks.

Coachella Band Preview: Tash Sultana

Because I forgot to post last week’s blog after I wrote it and instead posted it this week, you’re getting two band previews this week! We’re almost near the end of January. We’re still a while away from Weekend 1, but I can feel it looming. Can’t you?! Since I already gave you plenty of Kygo to listen to this week, I thought I’d preview an artist who has a little less music to listen to. What she does have out is pretty awesome and original.

Natasha “Tash” Sultana is an Australian musician/singer/songwriter who grew up in Melbourne. She took to music at the age of three when she received a guitar from her grandfather. Now at age 22, she can play over 10 instruments. 2016 was her breakthrough year, but until then Tash struggled to find regular work and used street performing as her way to get by. She was however the lead vocalist of the band Mindpilot from 2008 through 2012.

She started receiving attention in 2016 through social media and the internet. She also released her first EP, Notion on September 16th independently through her own label Lonely Lands Records. The EP peaked at number 4 on ARIA Australian Albums Chart. It included two songs that were voted to Australia’s Triple J Hottest 100, “Jungle” (#3) and “Notion” (#32). She also embarked on a world tour in support of Notion.

In 2017, Tash continued to tour and also announced that her debut album would be released in the spring of 2018. She released the singles “Murder to the Mind” in April and “Mystik” in October along with being nominated for 4 ARIA Awards (Breakthrough Artist, Best Independent Release (Notion), Best Blues and Roots Album (Notion), and Best Australian Live Act).

Her rock music style features elements of reggae and psychedelic music. Her style can also be classified as indie rock. Each of her tracks have a different sound and her vocals are mesmerizing. It’s the kind of music you can just chill to. I love it because the sound meshed with her vocals is unique to my usual listening tastes.

I first found out about her in early October after my friend worked at All Things Go Fall Classic in Washington, DC. A patron at the festival told her about Tash Sultana so she checked out Tash and told me about her as well. Then I checked her out and enjoyed what I heard. My friend then saw her perform a week later at Austin City Limits. I wasn’t so fortunate. She is relatively new to the music scene and is just starting to get some attention in America. She recently performed on Late Night with Seth Meyers in October. That makes me think I’ll have plenty of time to get to see her live, especially if I get to be a part of Coachella this year and can catch her set.

She plays Saturday at Coachella. In my opinion Saturday’s lineup is stacked. I would expect to see Tash play an earlier set on Saturday. You never know though. She might end up with a mid-afternoon spot at the Gobi or Mojave Tent. If you have a chance, I would check her out though. She’s under that “up and coming” title for the festival this year. She’s also got a debut album coming out soon. Here’s what you can check out by her so far though:

  1. Jungle
  2. Mystik
  3. Notion
  4. Gemini
  5. Synergy
  6. Murder to Mind
  7. Big Smoke (Pts. 1 & 2)

Coachella Band Preview: Kygo

Another week down means another week less to prep for Coachella 2018, but it also means it’s time for another band preview. I feel like I need to re-name this blog series. When I started it in 2015, I was mostly into bands. Since then, my taste in electronic music has grown. Also as you know, this year’s Coachella lineup has way less bands than in prior years. For now, just know that my band previews encompass singers and artists too, which includes this week’s preview as well.

Kygo aka Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll is a Norwegian DJ, producer, and musician. He started taking piano lessons as a child and continued until he was a teenager when he began to produce his own music using a keyboard and recording software. He was also halfway through a college degree in business and finance by the time he decided to pursue music full-time.

Kygo’s break-through hit came in 2014 when he released the single “Firestone” ft. Conrad Sewell. In the same year he was contacted by Avicii and Chris Martin of Coldplay to remix the Coldplay song “Midnight”. He then supported Avicii on tour.

In 2015 his music was featured in a trailer for the Ultra Music Festival, a well-known electronic festival that takes place in Miami, FL, as well as being a featured headliner for Lollapalooza. He also released 4 more singles that year which paved the way for his debut studio album to be released in 2016. His debut was released on May 16, 2016 entitled Cloud Nine. The album featured collaborations with several artists including John Legend, Angus & Julia Stone, Foxes, James Vincent McMorrow, Maty Noyes, and more. Kygo also played at the closing ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

In 2017 Kygo released two singles that lead up to an EP and his second full length studio album. The EP, Stargazing, included both singles “It Ain’t Me” ft. Selena Gomez and “First Time” ft. Ellie Goulding. Kygo’s second album Kids In Love was just released in November.

Kygo’s tropical house style originated from him trying to imitate his hero, Swedish DJ/producer Avicii. He eventually found his own sound by slowing it down into a dreamy, light synth type sound. He was really one of the first DJ’s to popularize the style which originates from deep house, a subgenre of house music.

I feel like I started listening to Kygo just because of my interest in his style of electronic music. Although he’s known as one of the originators, I discovered the style through listening to Matoma and Sam Feldt first. I’m not even sure when I first listened to Kygo. It was obviously sometime over the last 2-3 years and it was definitely the song “Stay” that I was into. I can’t even say I’m into that many Kygo songs. I was hooked on “First Time” last summer though. I honestly just think his Coachella performance will be fun because I like his style of music so I would totally want to catch his set if I was attending.

Kygo plays on Friday at Coachella. In my opinion Friday has the weakest lineup, but Kygo is one of the bright spots. He’ll probably close out the Sahara tent Friday night or he might even take to the Outdoor Stage as the last slot, which may overlap The Weeknd. Either way, there’s no question he’ll be a late night set. If you plan on catching him, I recommend getting there with plenty of time. No matter where he’s playing it’s sure to be packed. He’ll be setting the vibe for the rest of the weekend that night. To me, there’s something about tropical house being played in the SoCal desert amongst the palms that sets the mood. Here’s a few songs that will get you ready for that moment Friday night:

1. Stay (ft. Maty Noyes)

2. Stole the Show (ft. Parson James)

3. It Ain’t Me (ft. Selena Gomez)

4. First Time (ft. Ellie Goulding)

5. Kids in Love (ft. The Night Game)

6. Stranger Things (ft. One Republic)

7. Stargazing (ft. Justin Jesso)

8. This Town (ft. Sasha Sloan)

9. Firestone (ft. Conrad Sewell)

10. Raging (ft. Kodaline)

 

Coachella Band Preview: Portugal. The Man

It’s been over a week since Coachella released their 2018 lineup. Tickets went on sale last Friday and sold out in just over 3 1/2 hours. Preparations have officially begun. So if you’re headed to the desert this April, I hope you’ve been listening to one of Coachella’s Spotify playlists or curating your own. I’ve checked out Coachella’s (which are so good by the way!) and already found 1 or 2 new bands to listen to. They might even get previewed leading up to the festival.

First thing’s first though, it’s time to get into the first band preview of the year. I bought this group’s latest album while in NYC a few weeks ago. I decided to buy it at random too, only knowing two songs from the album. It was a great decision and understandably so as it’s already been nominated for a Grammy. Although this blog post is a few weeks overdue, let me tell you a little something about Portugal. The Man.

Portugal. The Man has been around for quite a while before their latest album, Woodstock, and hit single “Feel It Still” invaded music charts over the last year. Hailing from Wasilla, Alaska, they formed in 2004 as a side project band of lead singer John Gourley and bassist Zach Carothers. The band has gone through several lineup changes but Gourley and Carothers have been the true mainstays. Currently they’re joined by Kyle O’Quin on keyboards/synth, Jason Sechrist on drums, and Eric Howk on guitar. I would try to explain their band name, but it’s a bit complicated so I’ll let this 2009 interview description by John Gourley do it, “It’s hard to explain, but it made perfect sense at the time. Over the 5 years that we’ve had the band name it’s just kind of gotten lost, but the idea was that we wanted to back somebody up. I guess in choosing Portugal, it was just kind of a random choice. We really wanted a country to be the name of our person because a country is a group of people. The man just states that Portugal is a person. So really Portugal is the band’s name and the man is just stating that he is the man.” They released demos in the summer of 2004 and embarked on a U.S. tour that fall. They released their debut album Waiter: “You Vultures!” on January 24, 2006.

In June 2007, they released their sophomore album Church Mouth and toured for the following year both in the U.S. and Europe in support of it. In 2008, the band released yet another record, Censored Colors, their third full length album. 2009 brought the band festival spots at Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza as well as a fourth album, The Satanic Satanist, and  The Majestic Majesty, an acoustic album of The Satanic Satanist. The band released another new album, American Ghetto, in 2010 marking the band’s fifth album in five years. 2010 also marked Portugal. The Man’s first Coachella appearance. Following suit of the previous years, their sixth album came out in July of 2011 after the band signed with record label, Atlantic Records in April 2010 (they had previously been a part of Fearless Records as well as a partnership with Equal Vision Records). The album, In the Mountain in the Cloud, brought the band another two years of touring and two more stops at Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.

In 2012, Portugal. The Man did not release a new album, but in 2013, they did. They released their seventh full length album, Evil Friends. The album featured backing vocals by Danielle and Este Haim of fellow Coachella 2018 act, Haim. They announced an eighth album in 2016, but said album “failed to complete” and was scrapped after 3 years of work. After the lead single “Feel It Still” was released in March, the band dropped, Woodstock on June 16, 2017. With the success of “Feel It Still”, which has topped music charts nationwide, Woodstock has become the band’s most successful album to date after 13 years and seven previous albums.

Portugal. The Man plays an alternative rock style of music with a somewhat psychedelic/jam band flavor as well. At times their music even sounds a bit experimental. Their sound has definitely progressed and changed throughout the years and through each album. Gourley’s vocals have been a defining factor in their sound though.

I found out about Portugal. The Man while working as a radio DJ during college on my school’s radio station. Our station specialized in alternative, rap, and metal, and I had a weekly alternative radio show in which I would play a mix of my own songs combined with the music on our system. One of the songs I used to play during my show was the Portugal. The Man song “People Say”. I remember when the alternative director and her boyfriend introduced me to the band one time while we were in the studio together.  There may have been one or two other Portugal. The Man songs available on our rotation but I routinely played and enjoyed “People Say”.

I partially kept up with Portugal. The Man after I graduated and ended my radio show. I was into and downloaded the songs “Purple, Yellow, Red, and Blue” and “Modern Jesus” after Evil Friends came out. However, I was never fully into Portugal. The Man. The first time I heard “Feel It Still” was this past summer in August (I know I was so late) on a fellow Coachella coworker’s Snapchat story. I was into it immediately upon first listen. I didn’t know whose song it was either and I thought it might be by the band Electric Guest. The song sounded similar to their song “This Head I Hold”. All I knew was I was hooked no matter what. I was surprised to find out it was Portugal. The Man because it just didn’t fit the sound I was used to from them. It was and still is an absolute banger though.

Like I’ve said in my last two blogs, as well as earlier in this one, I purchased Woodstock a few weeks ago just because of my interest in “Feel It Still” and “Live in the Moment” (another great track from that record). I don’t own any other Portugal. The Man records either, despite knowing about them and having a slight interest in their music for several years now. Within the first few days of owning the record, I had it spinning on repeat. It’s great. I even put it on my list of favorite albums from 2017 after owning it for only two weeks prior to writing that blog.

Portugal. The Man plays Sunday night this year at Coachella. My guess is they play the main stage prior to Eminem. This is Portugal. The Man’s third Coachella. They played in 2010, as I mentioned, and 2013. If I was attending this year, I’d definitely have them on my must see list. My only concern is that they have such a large discography that I’m not sure what they’d play or what I’d know. Hence listening prep is key here. I wouldn’t spend hours listening to all 8 albums they’ve released. I would just get a few of their older hits and focus on the last 2-3 albums. Their most recent stuff is what’s given them the spotlight anyway, making it the obvious choice for set list selection. At least at this point you have plenty of time regardless. 3 months is so far, yet so so close that you can taste that sunshine and those good vibes.

Edit: I’m sorry everyone! Totally messed this up and forgot to put song recommendations to listen to so here they are (better late than never!):

1. Feel It Still

2. Live in the Moment

3. Purple, Yellow, Red and Blue

4. People Say

5. Modern Jesus

6. So Young

7. Noise Pollution

8. Rich Friends

9. Easy Tiger

10. So American

Coachella 2018 Lineup Release

Not 48 hours into the new year and the Coachella 2018 lineup drops. Last night at 4:15 PT Coachella released their lineup on social media and as always people have opinions, me included. Since last year I expected the 2018 lineup to be the best since 2014. If you know me, you know that I believe 2014 had the best lineup to date and every year after has  been incomparable. 2018 had so much potential. There were so many bands who released new music in 2017 that did not play the festival plus a handful of other greats expected to release new music this year. But when rumors spread just before Christmas about the headliners, I knew this year wasn’t going to meet my expectations.

Going into 2018 everyone knew Beyoncé was supposed to headline. She was supposed to headline last year but dropped out shortly after the announcement of her twin pregnancy paving the way for Lady Gaga to take her spot. The biggest question was who would accompany her on top of the poster. On December 20th, Consequence of Sound reported that Eminem and The Weeknd were slated to join Beyoncé as the 2018 headliners, much to my dismay. Here’s why. The Weeknd headlined Coachella in 2015. Was he supposed to be a headliner? No. However he played in the headliner spot. Jack White, the headliner for that night, took an early spot for whatever the case may be leaving The Weeknd to close out the night.

In my opinion Eminem is a pretty cool choice for a headliner. He fits that formerly popular/still popular angle. He’s a rapper and for the past few years Coachella has plugged that genre (or R&B) into one of their headlining spots. Plus he just released a new album. Here’s the issue: Beyoncé already filled that genre spot this year. I mean come on! The entire headlining lineup is rap/R&B. This is the first time in the history of the festival that a rock band isn’t headlining. Disappointing.

In fact, looking at the lineup, rap/hip-hop/R&B has taken over the festival this year. I think Louis Tomlinson’s (of One Direction fame) reaction on Twitter summarizes my feelings exactly. He stated, “Just seen the Coachella lineup …. Where the fuck are all the bands!? It’s a festival!?” Yes Louis, you’re right. Where are all the bands?! All I see are rappers, R&B singers, or electronic DJ’s. As I went through the lineup last night making a list of who I would see for my annual Coachella preview, there were names lacking for each day and more “possible” acts to see than definites. For Friday, I only listed 4 acts. Four. It’s a headshaker, for sure, given that this year had some high expectations. Anyway, let’s get down to this lineup analysis.

The Headliners: The Weeknd, Beyoncé, Eminem

I already summarized my thoughts on all these acts above. So re-read that.

The Other Highly Billed Performers: SZA, Kygo, Jamiroquai, St. Vincent, the War on Drugs, Vince Staples, Haim, Tyler the Creator, David Byrne, alt-J, Post Malone, Fleet Foxes, Odesza, Portugal. The Man, Migos, A Perfect Circle, Cardi B, Miguel, Soulwax, Jean-Michel Jarre, Daniel Caesar, Kali Uchis, Los Ángeles Azueles, Deorro, Chromeo, Chic feat. Nile Rodgers, BØRNS, Louis the Child, Angel Olsen, Jungle, blackbear, MØ, King Krule, Illenium, Kamasi Washington, French Montana, 6lack, Vance Joy, Russ, LANY

As always, there’s a few names in this group that I’m pretty excited about. If I were attending this year, I’d definitely be hitting up Kygo, St. Vincent, Haim, alt-J, Fleet Foxes, Odesza, Portugal. The Man, BØRNS, Illenium, and LANY. There’s a few that I’d definitely check out here too if there were no overlaps like David Byrne, Post Malone, Chromeo, Jungle, MØ, and Vance Joy. I’m mostly excited about Haim and alt-J. Even though I’ve seen both live before, they’re fantastic and two of my favorite bands. Odesza is an incredible electronic act and I can attest from seeing them live last month. I’ve seen BØRNS live before as well and it was so enjoyable. After working St. Vincent in November and listening to her VIP Q&A, I’ve gained a new respect for Annie Clark and her music. I was able to stay for half of her show but would love to see her again. The others I’ve never seen live.

As I said in my 2017 music recap blog post, I would be reviewing Portugal. The Man soon. It might now be even sooner than I thought. I’ve been stoked on their latest album since buying it on vinyl in NYC and I’d love to see them live especially since knowing about them since college. Since getting into electronic music, I’ve always been partial to tropical house, making Kygo an artist I would love to check out. I also got into Illenium’s latest album for a short time two months ago making him another electronic act I’d want to see. I’ve listened to LANY a few times over the past few years so they’re a group I’d love to see too. If you’re looking for the most indie band at Coachella this year, I’d have to say that would be Fleet Foxes. I’ve liked them for a while now and would definitely want to see them live.

As for the others that I’d like to check out, I’ve seen Jungle and Vance Joy before. Both played in 2015 when I attended and I made it to both sets. I even saw Vance Joy at Panorama last summer. They’re always a solid set. I was super hyped about Jungle in 2015, but this time around they’re not a definite for me. They’ve got new music out, which I plan on checking out soon They just didn’t make a huge impact on me last time. I’ve casually listened to Chromeo and MØ so I would casually see them. Post Malone is burning up right now. I’m not into rap, but Post Malone has a song that is more indie than rap that I enjoy. I think I’m solely interested in seeing this dude play live because of the hype surrounding him right now. David Byrne is the most intriguing to me. Honestly I had no idea who he was until I did a little research. After I found out, it felt like I failed at music so excuse me for that one. As the lead singer and guitarist of the Talking Heads, I would love to hear his set. He’s got a solo career going, but you know he’ll be playing some Talking Heads covers. Who knows maybe there’s a reunion in store?! I mean who doesn’t like the Talking Heads?!

The Rest: Maceo Plex, Alan Walker, the Neighbourhood, Alison Wonderland, Kelela, REZZ, Bleachers, Black Coffee, SuperDuperKyle, Justin Martin, Belly, TroyBoi, Dreams, Perfume Genius, PVRIS, Moses Sumney, LÉON, Greta Van Fleet, Tank and the Bangas, Cash Cash, Whethan, Skip Marley, Elohim, Detroit Love (Carl Craig, Kyle Hall, Moodymann), Benjamin Clementine, Carpenter Brat, the Blaze, Knox Fortune, MHD, Slow Magic, Avalon Emerson, Fazerdaze, Moon Boots, HITO, Helado Negro, the Buttertones, the Regrettes, Boogarins, the Marias, Señor Kino, Tash Sultana, BROCKHAMPTON, Marian Hill, Alina Baraz, First Aid Kit, Snakehips, Highly Suspect, Wizkid, Jorja Smith, Alvvays, the Black Madonna, Tom Misch, Django Django, X Japan, Benjamin Booker, Flatbush Zombies, Ekali, Yaeji, Party Favor, Big Thief, Jason Bentley, Oh Sees, Sigrid, Busy P, the Bronx, AC Slater, Sudan Archives, Jackmaster, Otoboke Beaver, Chloe x Halle, Sir Sly, Hundred Waters, Pachanga Boys, Bedouin, Cherry Glazerr, Mild High Club, Priests, Ron Gallo, Declan McKenna, Bane’s World, KITTENS, the Drums, Aminé, Jessie Ware, Jamie Jones, Kamaiyah, San Holo, FIDLAR, DeJ Loaf, Petit Biscuit, Ibeyi, LP, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Princess Nokia, AURORA, Noname, Jacob Banks, Chris Liebing, Jidenna Hayley Kiyoko, Barclay Crenshaw, LION BABE, Giraffage, Talaboman, THEY., Cuco, Joseph Capriati, Hannah Wants, Nothing But Thieves, John Maus, Kölsch, Japanese Breakfast, MAGIC GIANT, Omar-S, Michael Mayer, Westside Gunn + Conway, Buscabulla, Peggy Gou, Snail Mail, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, B Boys, the Delirians

My favorite name that showed up on the Coachella lineup this year is in this group, Hayley Kiyoko. As you know, I saw her last year in what I consider to be one of the most epic nights in music for me, seeing 2 shows in one night. One of those was Hayley Kiyoko and she played in a small venue in Philadelphia. I was beyond excited to see her name on the poster and so stoked that she’s playing Coachella this year in time with releasing her debut album. Another band that’s on my must see list is in this group too, The Neighbourhood. I’ve been digging The Neighbourhood since 2013 and I’ve never seen them live. They’re a must-see for sure. There’s a few on this list that I’d want to catch if I had time too. Bleachers, Tash Sultana, Sir Sly, Declan McKenna, and Marian Hill are the big ones among that bunch.

As a whole I feel like this is the smallest group of bands I’ve been interested in since starting my Coachella previews in 2015. I had such high hopes for this year’s festival and it all came crashing down last night. Some names I would have liked to see on this year’s lineup include Arctic Monkeys (as a headliner or part of that second line of acts), Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Foster the People, Lana Del Rey, Cold War Kids, Halsey, Phoenix, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, ARIZONA, the 1975, Sigala, Cigarettes After Sex, Passion Pit, The Kooks, AWOLNATION, and either The Killers, Arcade Fire, or Kings of Leon as a headliner (most likely The Killers though). There’s probably more bands as well, but those are a few off the top of my head.

I started doing a bit of research on this year’s lineup compared to my favored 2014 lineup. I plan on editing this post later today or tomorrow with my findings. Until then, you should start listening to some bands on this lineup. There’s plenty I know nothing about and a few that I do. Maybe you’re stoked on this lineup. Maybe you’re not. The fact is that Coachella is in 3 months and the prep officially began yesterday. One thing is certain though, regardless of who is on the lineup and the amount of complaining done, people are still gonna go to Coachella. It’s the festival to be at. It’s Coachella. You’re bound to have a great time because although I strongly believe music festivals should be about the music, Coachella is more than music. It’s art. It’s atmosphere. It’s good food. It’s being with people you care about and have a good time with. It’s hot days and cool nights. It’s palm trees, and mountains, and desert. It’s fashion. It’s celebrities. It’s social media. It’s sponsors. It’s ferris wheels and hip merch. Mostly it’s the best kind of positivity and vibes you’ll ever experience. So Coachella 2018, I’m ready for you! Here’s to hoping I can be part of the magic again.

(EDIT: I spent the last hour or more doing some research and the numbers I came up with are unreal. I analyzed the 2014 Coachella lineup vs. the 2018 Coachella lineup. I looked at the first 3 lines of each poster plus the headliners and I grouped performers in 4 categories, Rap/R&B, Electronic, Pop, Rock/Indie. In 2014, out of the 165 acts, there were 71 featured on the first 3 lines of the poster including the headliners. Out of those 71, 14% were Rap/R&B, 28% were Electronic, 6% were Pop, and 37% were Rock/Indie. In 2018, out of 165 acts, there are 69 featured on the first 3 lines of the poster including the headliners. Out of those 69, 33% are Rap/R&B, 25% are Electronic, 9% are Pop, and 33% are Rock/Indie. Compared to 2014, the number of Rap/R&B acts have more than doubled. Is Rap/R&B back on the rise and I didn’t know about it? If you asked me, I would tell you no. So what’s the deal this year? What’s even more shocking is that I also compared the number of Bands to Artists for each year. I defined “Band” as a group or single performer with a backing band that plays classic instruments (guitar, drums, bass, keyboards, etc. as opposed to electronic equipment). Artists included rappers, R&B singers, electronic DJ’s, and pop singers. In 2014, out of 71 acts, 55% were Bands and 45% were Artists. In 2018, out of 69 acts, 30% are Bands and 68% are artists. To me those numbers, are staggering. Louis Tomlinson noticed it and he’s right. The bands have decreased this year in favor of the artists. So seriously Coachella, WHERE ARE THE BANDS?! And why are you straying from what made you amazing in the first place? #Coachella2018thefestivalthatcouldhavebeen)

2017: The Best Year in Music Recap

Last year around New Year’s, I wrote about how music saved 2016. It was a pretty shitty year for the country and in the grand scheme of things. Although people would say 2017 might not have been the best for some similar reasons, I would have to argue. 2017 was a great year. Personally, I worked more events than last year, worked new festivals including my all-time favorite, Coachella, had the opportunity to work a few different roles, saw tons of incredible live music, made new friends, got closer to friends I already had, and figured out what my ultimate goal is. Overall yes there were several bad and upsetting events that happened especially in America. There were even a few hiccups in my own life. However, despite the bad, there were plenty of instances of hope. As for music, as much as I thought it was the best part of 2016, it doesn’t hold a candle to this past year.

So many artists released new albums this year. I mean I guess that’s pretty standard for every year but this year was special for me. It was all of my favorites (minus Florence and the Machine) putting out new albums. I also discovered so many more great bands thanks to the incredible people I met and grew closer to this year.

I could do a detailed recap of all the music I loved from this year, but I wrote about it so many times so I’ll give you all the links in a ranking of my favorite albums of 2017.

My 2017 Top 10 Favorite New Albums

10. Zombies on Broadway   -Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

The follow-up to Andrew McMahon’s debut had a handful of hits. I never reviewed this album and I’m so sorry because it was a good one, making it #10 on my list.

9. Something to Tell You   -Haim

Although Something to Tell You wasn’t quite what Days Are Gone was for me, I was super stoked to hear some new music from the Haim sisters. The new album had a few great jams like “Little of Your Love” and “Want You Back” which helped it earn my #9 spot.

8. Lust For Life   -Lana Del Rey

As advertised, Lust for Life was an album for the fans. In my opinion it wasn’t Lana’s best nor her worst. “Coachella – Woodstock on My Mind” and “Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems” featuring Stevie Nicks were two of my favorites, but it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for by one of my favorite artists, putting Lana at #8.

7. Woodstock   -Portugal. The Man

I owe the love of this album to our self-planned Hipster Day in NYC when we went to Brooklyn, checked out cool street art, and spent time in a record store where I purchased the album on vinyl. Who would have thought 2017 would have re-introduced me to Portugal. The Man? After a banger like “Feel It Still” it, it happened though. I never reviewed this album or this band on my blog yet, but don’t worry it’s coming soon. My recent hype and appreciation for Portugal. The Man’s hit album helped it reach the #7 spot on my list.

6. American Dream   -LCD Soundsystem

American Dream was the highly anticipated comeback album from LCD Soundsystem. It might not be Sound of Silver, but it’s got plenty of great tracks that will be played at LCD’s show until they decide to break up for good this time.

5. A Moment Apart   -Odesza

Odesza was a new discovery for me this year. When this album was released, I had never listened to them so I wasn’t anticipating the release nor planning an album review (I linked my general blog post from a few weeks ago instead). It took a special trip that included an Odesza concert to force me to listen to the album, but it was definitely worth it as it comes in as my #5.

4. Ultralife   -Oh Wonder

2017 became the year that I really fell for Oh Wonder. I owe it to Coachella, Denise, and a shitty work schedule, yet I’m so grateful it worked out that way. Their new album picked up where their self-titled debut album left off and added a few new hits to their repertoire making Ultralife my #4 top album this year.

3. GALLERY   -A R I Z O N A

After discovering A R I Z O N A last year, listening to almost every new single they released, and loving each and every one, their debut album had to be high on my list. The album is basically a compilation of each single plus a few new tracks. I don’t even own the album, but I’ve spent a lot of time listening to their songs. Again, I linked up my general blog post from this year about the band.

2. Melodrama   -Lorde

If I wasn’t biased, this would hands down be the best album of the year. Every song on Melodrama is fantastic. The album was the kind of sophomore album bands and artists dream of, but not many can achieve. Lorde crushed it with this one giving her second full length my #2 spot.

1. Sacred Hearts Club   –Foster the People

Like I said, I’m biased on this. I’ve always said Foster the People was one of my favorite bands, but this album made me fall in love with them all over again. It’s not quite Torches, but it’s close. “Sit Next To Me” became my favorite song of the year. Seeing them live twice and up close was everything I needed. They’re always my #1.

Honorable Mentions: I See You -the xx, Relaxer -alt-J, Wonderful Wonderful -The Killers, Everything Now -Arcade Fire, L.A. Divine -Cold War Kids, Masseduction -St. Vincent

So there you have it My Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2017…the Best Year in Music, at least in my opinion. 2018 has a lot to live up to. There’s sure to be plenty of good music this year, but it’ll be hard to beat all the new stuff from my favorites. Still we have a few to look forward to. I heard some rumors about upcoming albums from Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend, and MGMT. Hayley Kiyoko will be releasing her debut album this spring and the 1975 is supposed to drop their third full length album. Chrvches and Bastille are also on radar for some new albums. As you can see there’s still good things to come. Plus the Coachella lineup drops this week and you know what that means. So thanks 2017 for being so special. 2018…”just come over here and sit next to me” because I’m ready for you and all the music you have to offer.

Everyday is Christmas: Album Review

For the last 5 years or so when it comes to Christmas, I’m the Scrooge. Christmas used to be my favorite holiday because I loved Christmas time and everything that came with it – the lights, trees, gifts, music, everything. Now, I lack Christmas spirit. Sure, I still shop for gifts and decorate and just go through the motions, but I lack the enthusiasm I used to have. Another thing I’ve stopped doing is listening to Christmas music. I used to search for Christmas music by bands I liked at the time instead of listening to classics. Although, I would listen to a few like “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” and “Dominic the Donkey”. It was something I always used to do until I got over the whole Christmas thing. I thought this year was going to be pretty much the same, but then Sia dropped a Christmas album filled with all original music.

Everyday is Christmas was released on November 17th. The album features 10 original Christmas themed songs. Sia also released a music video for the single “Santa’s Coming For Us” which stars Kristen Bell and her husband Dax Shepherd, Caleb McLaughlin, Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff, Susan Lucci, Henry Winkler, and J.B. Smoove. It was released a few days after the album. The album, as well as several songs from it, have made their way on to music charts throughout the world despite receiving mixed album reviews. I can understand the mixed reviews though.

The sound of the album strays somewhat from Sia’s regular albums solely for the fact that it is a Christmas album. It’s jazzier at times. The lyrics are frivolous and kind of ridiculous (I mean she sings a song about puppies!). However, Sia’s vocals are so powerfully distinct that it saves the album. There’s also several Sia style ballads that stray from a few of the jazzier Christmas jams.

Personally, I love it. I’ve been waiting for a while for an artist I like to release a Christmas album like this. Most times bands or artists just sing Christmas covers or write a new song or two and the rest cover the classics. Not this. It’s all original. So even though, yeah it is ridiculous, it’s also Christmas music and Christmas music is ridiculous. As someone who hasn’t been vibing anything Christmas for a few years, this got me to listen to Christmas music this year. So if you’re up for a change from the regular Christmas stuff, this is a great refresher.

Gravity Can’t Hold Us Down

This Friday I’m attending my second ever electronic show. I probably wouldn’t be going to this show if it wasn’t for my friend’s love of electronic music and Odesza (the group we’re seeing) and the little vacation we’re going on. Nevertheless, it’s happening and because of it, I got into the electronic group.

Odesza is comprised of electronic music duo Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight. Mills and Knight met while they were both students at Western Washington University and began making music together as Odesza during their senior year. The band name was made out of an alternate spelling of Mills’ uncle’s ship that sunk.

Odesza’s self-released first album Summer’s Gone was released on September 5, 2012, two months before they played their first show. Their first EP My Friends Never Die was released a year later. In the fall of 2013, the group opened for Pretty Lights and then embarked on their first headlining tour the following year. It was a quick start for Odesza who gained popularity through streaming sites like Soundcloud and Spotify and by word of mouth.

In September 2014, Odesza released their second full length album In Return and played a sold out headlining tour that fall in support of it. The group also began playing music festivals as well beginning with Sasquatch! Music Festival in Gorge, Washington in 2013. They have since gone on to play Coachella, SXSW, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Firefly, Governor’s Ball, and several others.

This past September Odesza released their third full length album A Moment Apart and announced a world tour in support which began on September 14th in Auckland, New Zealand, after a preview of the new live show in May at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater. The tour has since made their way into the United States and the album was recently nominated for a Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic Album. The track “A Line of Sight” feat. Wynne and Maisonair was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Dance Recording. The group was previously nominated in 2015 for Best Remixed Recording, Nonclassical for “Say My Name (RAC remix)”.

As electronic artists, Odesza fits in the sub genres of electropop, indietronica, chillwave, and future bass. Their style is sort of like a blend between electronic music, indie music, and pop music filled with synth lines and subtle rises and falls of energy and bass. Their new album has a several collaborations which account for the vocals on their tracks. Their songs create this dreamy, nostalgic type of feeling regardless of whether the tracks have vocals or not though.

I first heard of Odesza in late 2015 when a family member who I hadn’t talked to in years asked if I liked them after I told him I was attending an alt-J concert in the coming month. I told him that I didn’t and he told me how awesome they were. Then we started talking about something else and I never even checked them out. To be fair, at the time I was dealing with a lot of other things so I just kind of forgot about it. I first listened to Odesza in late September-early October of this year, shortly after the new album release. I liked the song “Higher Ground” and added it to my workout/new music playlist on Spotify. It was only about 2 weeks later that my friends and I had planned a trip to New York City and bought tickets to see them in Brooklyn.

Since purchasing tickets, I’ve listened to Odesza a lot more. We received a free copy of the new album with our tickets so when that came in the mail I put the CD in my car for a while. I also recently purchased their sophomore album too and have been binge listening to it.  It’s safe to say that I definitely became a fan. I’m beyond stoked for Friday night. I can’t wait to see what kind of energy they’ll bring by playing in a large scale venue like the Barclays Center, but I’m sure it’ll be epic. I’m also just stoked to see this band play with my friend and to witness her fully in her element as an electronic music fan.

I highly recommend checking out Odesza, but especially this new album. There’s a reason it was nominated for a Grammy. Even after listening to In Return several times, there’s just something special to A Moment Apart that Odesza’s been working towards since their inception. You’re bound to find at least one song you like. It’s that good and it’ll only be a matter of time before Odesza hooks you for real.