alt-j

Glass Animals

Now that all of my highly anticipated albums have been released, it’s time to get back into the boring posts about sports, music and entertainment…kidding! Of course my first regular post in a while is about music though. Over the summer I’ve discovered a few new musical interests from friends and from working festivals so I wanted to let you know what I’ve been listening to besides all the new albums.

The first is a band I’ve known about for a year or two but never listened to that much. I saw and heard them perform at the Panorama Music Festival in NYC over the summer and several of my friends were into them. I decided I needed to give them a chance.

Oxford (UK) indie rock band Glass Animals formed in 2010 while members Dave Bayley (lead vocals, guitar) , Drew Macfarlane (guitar), Edmund Irwin-Singer (bass), and Joe Seaward (drums) were in university. The group were friends since they were 13 but had not played music together until the time that Bayley approached the group with a few demos and they decided to form the band.

They initially thought forming a band would be just for fun, but it became serious really fast. They played their first show in April 2010 and released their first EP Leaflings in May of 2012. After catching the ear of Adele’s producer, Paul Epworth, Glass Animals were signed to his label. The band released their second EP which was self-titled in November of 2013 and followed up by releasing three more singles. Those singles, “Pools”, “Gooey”, and “Hazey”, along with the singles “Black Mambo” and “Cocoa Hooves” were all featured on their debut album Zaba, which was released in June 2014. The album gave the band success, which increased their Spotify listener totals, allowed them to tour worldwide with plenty sold out shows through 2015, and earned them spots performing on late night television in America. Glass Animals’ second album How to Be a Human Being was released a little over a year ago in August 2016 with the singles “Life Itself” and “Youth” being released in the lead up. Their sophomore album was met with mix reviews, but the band has been touring in promotion of it ever since its release.

Glass Animals style of music is indie rock mixed with psychedelic pop, art pop, and trip hop. Their sound almost reminds me of alt-J mixed with Tame Impala. They can sound kind of trippy at times so it’s much different than your standard indie rock band.

I feel like I may have listened to Glass Animals before this summer, but at the time I wasn’t feeling what I heard. I think it was the suggestions and peer pressure from my friends this summer that really got me to give them another chance. For me, they’re kind of an acquired taste, but now I really like them. Surprisingly, I prefer the singles off their second album even though they earned their fans mostly from their first album. How to Be a Human Being has a greater rock feel than Zaba, which I think eased me into their sound. Now I can’t stop listening to them.

If you haven’t heard of these guys yet or have been reluctant to listen to them, give them a chance. You might just find a new band you like. I can attest to it. I think I’d even love another chance to see Glass Animals perform again. They put on a great show from what I did see and their music is filled with pretty sweet peanut butter vibes.

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hopeless fountain kingdom: Album Review

As you know, all-new albums from some of my favorite artists will be dropping throughout the summer. The album releases began over the weekend. I’m going to try to review as many of them as I can, especially because I’ll be busy traveling and it will at least give me a few planned topics to write about.

On Friday, along with alt-J’s Relaxer, Halsey released her sophomore album hopeless fountain kingdom. Although it’s currently #1 on iTunes, it’s a disappointment for me. I’ve always liked Halsey’s darkness and edge that she brought to her music. Her new album seems generic. She tried to bring in this artsy, creative aspect to it by having it reflect a Romeo & Juliet type of scenario, but instead I feel like she’s trying too hard. I previously compared her styles and sound to a mix of Lana Del Rey and Lorde. Although this album brings in some of that Lana Del Rey creativeness, she’s strayed from the Lorde-ish type of sound and Lana-ish lyrical content heard on Badlands. If there are any songs that I enjoy/appreciate from this new album, it’s “Bad at Love” and “Eyes Closed”. “Eyes Closed” was released as a single a few weeks ago and I liked it initially. There’s really nothing more to it than that for me. Upon listening to the album though, “Bad at Love” was the song that stood out to me in sound and lyrics. It’s catchy, but the lyrics also give representation to Halsey’s bi-sexuality, which she’s been open about in the past. Sure the lyrics aren’t genius. They’re kind of just average pop lyrics. It’s definitely no “New Americana”, but I like the fact that the song reflects Halsey as an LGBT artist, which is something you don’t always get in music.

The new album also features a few collaborations. Quavo from the hip-hop group Migos, Lauren Jauregui from girl band Fifth Harmony, and Norwegian DJ Cashmere Cat all make appearances on hopeless fountain kingdom.

Overall though, I think this is one album I’m going to bypass on purchasing. It was a disappointment for me after such quality work with Badlands. I feel like Halsey is just falling into the main stream pop, where she had potential to be more than that. I’m going to just blame “Closer” and The Chainsmokers for this one. Hopefully her follow-up delivers in a big way. For those of you who really like this album, I’m sorry I don’t agree with you. I was hoping for this album to be just as good as Halsey’s debut. Unfortunately that’s not always the case and I’ll just hope for something better next time.

Relaxer: Album Review

Yesterday alt-J released Relaxer, their 3rd studio album. Today I’m giving you my take on it.

Relaxer is shorter than the first two alt-J albums. It only consists of 8 songs and 39 minutes of play time making it alt-J’s shortest album thus far. However what it lacks in size, it makes up for in content. It’s a perfect combination of the alt-J music you know and love.

I’ve always found alt-J’s sound to be so original. At least none of the other bands I listen to sound similar to them. Some of their earlier music had an Arabic/Middle Eastern sound to it. “3WW” and “Deadcrush” have a bit of that sound, but each song’s sound goes beyond that too. “3WW” has this Egyptian-like sound, while “Deadcrush” incorporates an electronic/deep house type sound. “Hit Me Like That Snare” has an indie rock feel and “In Cold Blood” has the sound of a classic alt-J hit similar to “Breezeblocks”.  “Adeline” and “Last Year” are both soft and mellow. They’re comparable to “Warm Foothills” and “Pusher” from This Is All Yours or “Matilda” from An Awesome Wave. Finally, the intros of “Pleader” and “House of the Rising Sun” remind me of something I’d hear from a movie score.

Relaxer is the new album you’ve been waiting to hear from alt-J. It’s got everything you’d want from the indie rock band and it’s the perfect addition to your alt-J album collection. I will say though, alt-J isn’t for everyone. Their sound is unique no matter how you look at it so if you’re going to listen to them for the first time with this album, don’t expect your typical indie rock. It’s a bit beyond that. If you love alt-J though, you’ll definitely love or at least like this new album.

2017….The Best Year of Music?

Coming back from two weeks in So Cal has been a bummer to say the least. With Coachella, sunshine, warmth, palm trees, new friends, old friends, etc., I’ve been in a withdrawal. It’s also tough to come up with weekly blog topics because I feel like I gave it my all for the past 3 months writing about Coachella bands. However, there’s one thing that’s helped with all of the sad feelings recently. It’s the constant stream of new music flooding in from a bunch of my favorite bands and artists. Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve lost count of how many of my faves have released new tunes. I had a realization this past week that 2017 is shaping up to be the best year for music, or at least new music so I figured I’d write about it and give you a little preview of what’s to come.

Obviously there’s a ton of bands and artists releasing new music this year, way more than I plan to write about. The acts I’m mentioning are some of my favorites. Some I’ve written about in the past already. Actually that’s a lie. I’ve written about almost all of them before. The first is someone who I haven’t talked about for a while, but she’s one of my all-time favorites of the past 6 years, Lana Del Rey.

Lana Del Rey released a new single in February called “Love”. Upon its release, she said her upcoming new music was inspired by her fans and the people who supported her throughout the years. “Love” was the first of the new releases to give back to them. Until February, Lana hadn’t released new music since 2015’s Honeymoon. Then while I was at Coachella she released another new single, “Lust for Life” featuring The Weeknd. She also confirmed a few weeks before the single’s release that her new album would also be entitled Lust for Life. Although no release date has been confirmed for the new album (EDIT: The new album will be out July 21st.), there’s rumors that it will feature a few other collaborations with the likes of Stevie Nicks and Sean Lennon, son of John Lennon.

Another artist with new music out this year is Lorde. I, of course, wrote about her as a Coachella preview, but it was before she put out her new material. Along with Lana Del Rey, Lorde was one of the first to put out music this year. In early March she dropped her single “Green Light”. Then a little over a week after that she performed another new single when she appeared on SNL, “Liability”. I loved “Green Light” the first time I heard it. It’s the kind of song that makes you want to get up and dance. It’s the Pure Heroine follow up hit that I was looking for from Lorde. It got me so hyped for her new album Melodrama, which I thought may come out before Coachella, but isn’t going to be released until June 16th. “Liability” is the complete opposite. The song is so raw and emotional. It’s not something I’ve ever heard from Lorde. It sounds more like something Adele would sing. I denounced the song immediately after I heard it, but then I heard it again live at Coachella. It was incredible. Not just the song, but the entire moment surrounding the festival and the two weeks I spent in California.

She performed Sunday night and I was only able to see her performance on Weekend 2, the final night of what was the most incredible festival-working experience I’ve had thus far. Lorde spoke to the crowd of probably close to 100,000 people as if she were in a tiny dive bar and explained how much the song meant to her. Then she went on to sing her newest piece of music with everyone who cared to join her amongst the beautiful night scene at Coachella with the cool breeze blowing and lit up palm trees swaying as the ferris wheel glowed in the background. I took in the moment with two new friends I met while working the festival focusing on Lorde, the entire setting, and my one friend almost in tears because the song affected her that much. It was epic enough to force me to give “Liability” a second chance and I haven’t stopped listening to it since.

Then I came back from California and within days there was new music from my favorite band, Foster the People. I’ve liked Foster the People for 6 years now. They were one of the first bands that I liked when I started getting into the indie rock scene (See here for the story). They haven’t released new music since 2014 and I’ve been craving something new from them for the last 2 years. On April 27th, the indie rock trio released III, a three song EP with songs from their upcoming album. I listened immediately and have been listening to the songs non-stop ever since, “Doing It For the Money” in particular. I feel like the new music combines that old Torches sound with the newer Supermodel sound to create this in-between to both albums giving fans the best of both worlds. For me, it’s almost impossible to top Torches. I still keep the album in my car and pop it into my CD player on occasion. It’s one of my favorite records of the modern era, but this new album (at least indicated by the EP) has shades of Torches that gets me hyped for its release. As of today, the title and release date have yet to be announced, but I read that it should be out in June or July (EDIT: Foster the People’s new album, Sacred Hearts Club, will be July 21st).

On the same day that the world was blessed with three new Foster the People songs, Haim announced their upcoming sophomore album Something To Tell You and released a preview of the track “Right Now”. They also announced they would release a single from their upcoming album on May 3rd. Last summer when I saw Haim play at Lollapalooza they played a few of their new songs. I don’t remember what songs they played, but I do remember liking each one I heard. Each new song still maintained their signature sound. It got me excited for their new record and I’ve been anticipating it ever since. The album comes out July 7th, but until then we have the song “Want You Back” (the May 3rd single) to hold us over and any other new songs the sisters Haim decide to drop along the way.

alt-J is another band with a new album out this year. I really got into alt-J after seeing them perform at Coachella in 2015. My friends and I then saw them while they toured a few months later. Both shows were fantastic. alt-J released the first single, “3WW”, from their new record in the beginning of March. Then a few weeks later they released “In Cold Blood”. alt-J has always had this unique style of indie music and it’s again evident in their new music so far. Their new record Relaxer comes out on June 2nd.

If you thought five new records were enough, you haven’t been paying attention to music news because there’s a few more to be excited for. One of those is a record that doesn’t have a title or release date yet, but I expect it to be out later than the rest. I’m guessing it could be out any time between late summer and winter (EDIT: The new album, American Dream, comes out September 1st.), but I’m so grateful for the two new songs that were just released this past Friday at midnight in anticipation of it. After announcing their reunion last winter and headlining festivals throughout 2016, LCD Soundsystem finally released new music! They played several shows at the opening of the new venue, Brooklyn Steel, in New York City last month and debuted both songs there. The songs “call the police” and “american dream” were also just performed by the band on SNL over the weekend. I haven’t had much of a chance to binge listen to the songs yet, but I can’t wait to listen on my road trips I have coming up this month. Both songs are different and yet so good. At this point, I think I’d feel that way about anything LCD Soundsystem puts out.

So those are all my favorites that have new albums coming out soon, but there’s also a few other good music acts that I like with new tunes on the way too. Halsey just released two singles over the last month from her new album Hopeless Fountain Kingdom due out in June. So far from the new releases, her album seems like it’ll be less dark than Badlands. Phoenix will be releasing their sixth album and first since 2013, Ti Amo, on June 9th. They just dropped the first single from the new record, “J-Boy”, on April 27th. Finally a band I recently previewed before Coachella, Oh Wonder, will be releasing their second album, Ultralife, on June 16th. Over my two weeks spent in Indio, my love for and desire to see Oh Wonder grew a little more (I couldn’t see them at Coachella). Now I’m definitely stoked for their follow-up to 2015’s debut self-titled masterpiece.

Along with all that’s to come this summer, several great bands that I like have already released new music this year. The xx just released I See You on January 13th. I missed them at Coachella, but I’ll be seeing them live next week! Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness released Zombies on Broadway on February 10th and his new record has some great jams that give off a brand new electronic feel not usually heard in Andrew McMahon music. Lastly and most recently, Cold War Kids just dropped their newest album L.A. Divine on April 7th.

In total that’s 12 new albums from bands I like, about half of those being my favorites. I’ve said recently that all I need is for Florence and the Machine to release a new album this year to really put that final piece in the puzzle. Even without them this year is shaping up to be one of if not the best in music! I’m stoked so you guys better get stoked too because there’s so much to listen to!

Triangles are my favorite shape: alt-J Concert Review

On Friday, I was able to attend a show on alt-J’s Fall 2015 North American Tour. I saw alt-J for the first time at Coachella this past year. I wrote about them leading up to the yearly event in the southern California desert so I won’t re-hash about the group or how they got their name from a Mac keyboard command. Instead, I’ll just let you know that my second time seeing them was just as good, if not better than the first.

After seeing them at Coachella (it was one of my top 3 favorite sets) and seeing how cheap tickets were for their date in Philadelphia last Friday, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see them again. I bought tickets for myself and my two favorite kids as a gift for their graduation this past June. However, about a month and a half before the show, my friend informed me that the date of the show coincided with the Pope’s visit to the Philly with 2 million people expected to be on hand for the event. How awesome, right? Now on top of dealing with traffic and people in a normally busy city on a Friday we also had to handle extra of both because of the Papal visit. Surprisingly though, it wasn’t as big of an issue as I initially expected, and we had a phenomenal day in the city leading up to the show.

The show was at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing. The venue’s location is right on the Delaware River. As we were walking to the pier, it reminded me of being at the beach to see a concert. The fact that sand surrounded the platform which housed an area for the general admission crowd to stand added to that effect. Add in that it was a cool, breezy September day/night and I felt like I was on a beach on the west coast rather than in a city on the east coast. It was ideal for me. We didn’t have any food at the venue as our stomachs were full from the Shake Shack burgers and fries we had earlier that evening, but I did make a purchase of a Blackberry Lemonade flavored Mike’s Hard. It was way too expensive at $15, but for alcohol at shows/concerts, that’s the price you pay.

San Fermin opened for the boys from Leeds, UK. They’re an American pop band with classical roots formed by Ellis Ludwig-Leone, a Yale University graduate who studied composition during his time there. Having released their sophomore album this past April, the eight piece ensemble played songs like “Parasites”, “Sonsick”, and “Jackrabbit” to get the crowd going before the headliners took the stage. I found their music catchy. They seemed like a band I would listen to on occasion but not fall entirely in love with. By the end of the set, I was just itching for alt-J to play.

alt-J opened with the “Intro” from their latest album, This Is All Yours, (how appropriate) and went straight into “Every Other Freckle” much to the delight of concert attendees. As a headliner on their own tour versus an act at an acclaimed music festival, their set was predictably longer. It featured songs from both full length albums like “Something Good”, “Dissolve Me”, “Matilda”, “Tessellate”, and “Fitzpleasure” from their 2012 debut An Awesome Wave and “Left Hand Free”, “The Gospel of John Hurt”, “Nara”, and “Leaving Nara” from This Is All Yours. They even played the bonus track Bill Withers cover “Lovely Day”. Perhaps one of the coolest transitions in their set was when they performed “Bloodflood” followed by “Bloodflood Pt. 2”. There weren’t many breaks between songs to chat with the crowd, which I liked. To be honest, I do like when bands talk in between songs, but I can also appreciate what alt-J did Friday night. There’s more time for music and there’s nothing wrong with that. The lighting and screens with digital imagery used in their set really captured the essence of their songs as well. This might be overlooked at a show when you’re focused on hearing your favorite songs, but it shouldn’t be. It gave their great performance a little something extra.

After “ending” their set with “Fitzpleasure”, which we all knew wasn’t really the end, the band came back out to perform a four song encore that started with “Hunger on the Pine”, followed by “Warm Foothills” and “Taro”, and closed with “Breezeblocks”. It was a perfect encore. The show left fans feeling fulfilled including me and my friends. It reaffirmed my choice to see them again and was great day/night all around. If you’re a fan, they’re worth seeing live, but even if triangles aren’t your favorite shape, they’re still worth it.

(Since this is the end of my post and I usually recommend some songs, but I’ve written about alt-J before and included song recommendations, I’ll just say to listen to any of the songs mentioned in this post and link you to my alt-J Coachella Band Preview for more info.)

Coachella 2015 Recap

It’s with great pride and pleasure that I can now say I’ve lost my Coachella virginity. As you know, if you’ve been keeping up with my blog, I was beyond stoked to go to the epic three day festival in Indio, CA. Now that I’ve been there though, it’s difficult to put into words just how special it is. The atmosphere is filled with the best vibes imaginable. It’s incredibly relaxed (possibly due to all the pot smoking). People are in good moods (mostly…I ran into a girl who seemed a little angry the last day before the Florence and the Machine set when I put my hand on the bar she was going to lean on). The bands and artists bring their best performances because they’re just as excited to be there as everyone else. The artwork is innovative. The food, although overpriced, is delicious and there are plenty of options to choose from. The setting makes it though. It’s so beautiful. Palm trees line the polo fields with vast mountains in the background as the signature ferris wheel from the California State Fair rotates giving riders the ultimate view of the festival. It’s incredible and it’s difficult to appreciate when you’re there since you want to catch as much music as possible. That’s really the most important thing about Coachella. It’s about the music. Without it, Coachella wouldn’t exist. Everything else is extra. Fortunately I only experienced a few conflicts but I made it work so that I was able to catch at least part of, if not all of the sets I wanted to see.

On Friday, I planned to see Angus & Julia Stone, Alabama Shakes, Tame Impala, and AC/DC. My cousin (she attended with me) and I got to the festival early the first day to do a bit of exploring before the Angus & Julia Stone set in the late afternoon. We rode the ferris wheel, got some merch, checked out the stages, saw the artwork, and relaxed in the field before the set. Angus & Julia Stone play mellow indie music so the set was very laid back. A lot of people were sitting and relaxing while they listened. We were too.

Alabama Shakes hit the Outdoor Stage just as the sun was setting. Brittany Howard brought the house down with her powerful vocals. I was a little disappointed the band didn’t play my favorite song (“Hold On”) but they did debut some new material from their soon to be released album Sound & Color (April 20th on iTunes, in stores April 21st). Either way they killed it.

Tame Impala hit the main stage right before Friday night headliner, AC/DC. The crowd really started buzzing when they launched into their hits “Elephant” and “Feels Like It Only Goes Backwards”. They also debuted some new tunes at the festival and the crowd was totally loving it.

AC/DC closed out Friday with a mixture of new tunes and old favorites. We were spent by the time AC/DC started and only ended up staying for half the set. They put on a great show though. I heard some of my favorites like Back in Black, Thunderstruck, and You Shook Me All Night Long. I was even singing along to the faint sounds of T.N.T. as we made our way to the shuttles. I was glad I had the opportunity to see them live.

On Saturday with the reminders of how tired we were, how late we got to bed, how much cell phone charge we had left by the end of the night (the charging stations didn’t work…such false advertising), and by the desire to sample local eats, we decided to head to the festival about 2 hours later than we did on Friday. We were both more pumped for Saturday’s planned lineup which featured Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Milky Chance, Jungle, Belle and Sebastian, alt-J, and Jack White because there was less waiting time in between sets (we had lot on Friday and we were getting antsy). After a longer than planned ride/entrance to the festival due to security reasons, we made it in with a little over a half hour to spare before Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness took over the Outdoor Stage. We grabbed some drinks and headed over there. Upon arrival, the crowd was small. It was so small that I could have managed being in what would be considered the second row. It was hot though so I was fine with hanging back a bit. By the set time more people had come in behind me, but unlike some sets I went to on Sunday there was enough room to breathe.

His set was one of my favorites of the entire weekend. He engaged the crowd and you could tell just how excited he was to play Coachella (he stated it as well but he didn’t even need to). He included a Jack’s Mannequin song (“Dark Blue”) and a Something Corporate song (“I Woke Up in a Car”) in the set which were both favorites among the small crowd who sang along with vigor. Then he followed up with their single “Cecilia and the Satellite”. At some point during the set large balloons were brought out and members of  the Andrew McMahon team held them in the crowd. Near the end of the set (it might have been during “Cecilia and the Satellite), the balloons popped and confetti was released from them. It was such a fun moment and added to the already enjoyable performance. I think the most memorable part came during the last song when gym class parachutes were given to and held by the crowd and Andrew came off the stage and sang with everyone standing under them. The set was a great way to kick off my Day 2 and left me pumped for the rest of the evening.

Next on the list was Milky Chance. We could only stay for some of the set because Jungle overlapped slightly. I wanted to make it to the Jungle set to get a good spot. I only knew two songs they played including the one everyone knows, “Stolen Dance”. We were able to hear both but I thought the performance of “Stolen Dance” wasn’t as great as I had hoped. They only sang the verses of the song. When the chorus came around Clemens Rehbein (vocals) left it up to the crowd. However the crowd wasn’t large enough to get the desired effect of everyone singing along. From where we were standing all you could hear was the music. It was disappointing so we left for Jungle.

Jungle’s set was jam packed with songs off their debut album. The crowd danced and sang along to their funk inspired sound. A favorite amongst everyone in attendance was “Burnin’ Easy”. It got the flower headband wearing hippies moving. Their final song “Time” had the same effect.

Shortly after Jungle finished, Belle and Sebastian began their Coachella set. We only stayed for a few songs because I knew we needed to be at Main Stage early for alt-J. Belle and Sebastian were a perfect example of an indie band playing the festival. Their songs are both mellow and upbeat. It’s not the type of music you’d necessarily bounce around and shake your head furiously to. It’s the stuff you would sway your body around to, which was what the audience did to the few songs we heard. I read the band played a lot of good hits near the end of the set (the part we missed) and the crowd was really into it, but I think the spot for alt-J was worth it.

We ended up with a spot on the barrier next to the V.I.P. area, which allowed for a celebrity sighting during the set (Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul), but it was also close enough to be in the thickness of fans. Alt-J opened with “Hunger of the Pine” (Miley didn’t show much to my displeasure) and had the crowd bumping the whole time to a mixture of songs off both An Awesome Wave and This Is All Yours. Of course the most pleasurable reactions came from current hit “Left Hand Free” and closing/well-known song “Breezeblocks”. It was another favorite set of the day for me.

Jack White took the stage after alt-J. His performance and talent on the guitar was unreal. It began to my surprise with a White Stripes song, “Icky Thump”. His whole set included a bunch of White Stripes songs including the last song “Seven Nation Army” which had the crowd chanting “O-O-O-O-O-O” at one point when they cut the music during the song. The set wasn’t all White Stripes of course and had songs like “Lazaretto”, “Love Interruption”, “High Ball Stepper”, “Would You Fight For My Love?”, “The Black Bat Licorice”, and “Sixteen Saltines”. Jack White’s beliefs and passion for music were evident through what he spoke about in between songs. He was my favorite headliner. We were able to see the entirety of the set since his time slot was pushed down in favor of the Weeknd closing out Saturday night. I’m glad it was.

Sunday was the busiest day of the festival for us. It was the only day with conflicting set times. The biggest one was deciding between RAC and St. Lucia (St. Lucia started 15 minutes after RAC). Since I had listened to RAC more in prep for Coachella and because my cousin also likes one of their songs, we went with RAC (although still managed to make it to the Main Stage for the last 2 St. Lucia songs). They were also first on the list for Sunday. Like the day before, we decided to head to the festival around the same time since we needed to check into our flight around 1 and wanted to try a pizza place for lunch about 2 blocks from our hotel (it was better to only eat once or so at the festival since it was overpriced). Because of that, I missed the Night Terrors of 1927 and Saint Motel sets. It would have been nice to check those guys out but it wasn’t a necessity since I don’t know that much of their stuff anyway (two good bands nonetheless).

RAC’s set was a blast. They played all my favorites off their album Strangers including “Tear You Down”, “All I Got”, “Hollywood” which special guest Penguin Prison came out to perform, and “Cheap Sunglasses”. It did surprise me that RAC only had one special guest since Matthew Koma performed on Saturday and could have easily made an appearance. Unfortunately St. Lucia couldn’t join them for the song they collaborated on because they were playing at the same time. Still, it was a great set and I was dancing and singing along the whole time.

After RAC we rushed over to hear the end of St. Lucia’s set. We heard “September” and “Elevate”, both were good so I’m sure the rest was great too. I think seeing either band (RAC or St. Lucia) would have been comparable as far as enjoyment level goes for me, but I got a little of both with the choice I made.

My cousin decided she wanted to hear Vance Joy’s set so on the way over I caught one song by Conor Oberst and his punk band Desaparecidos. I didn’t even recognize Oberst as he looks way different now than he did as the dark haired, emo Bright Eyes front man. The set also attracted a smaller crowd and would have been fun to attend if it didn’t overlap with others.

While waiting for Vance Joy to come out, the Mojave stage got super crowded. After he played one song my cousin decided she’d rather get out of the tight bunch of people and listen from a more comfortable spot. I agreed. Vance Joy could have easily been an Outdoor or Main Stage performer as his set attracted an overflow of people from the covered Mojave. I tried to listen to Vance Joy in preparation for the event but I wasn’t feeling his music. I like “Riptide” but beyond that it wasn’t my vibe. I guess it wasn’t my cousin’s either so we listened as we “Coachilled” (A Coachella term meaning to sit and relax) from a spot just outside the crowd and tented stage. We sang along with “Riptide” as Vance Joy closed out his set then made our way back to the stage as the crowd filtered out. Brand New was on next.

I was hyped for Brand New. I decided I wanted to be closer than the previous times we saw bands on the Mojave stage. I was so ready to go hard to one of my favorite high school bands. To my dismay though, Brand New’s set was mostly songs off the two most recent albums Daisy and The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me (my two least favorite Brand New albums). I planned on going so hard to all the Brand New songs but it didn’t work out that way. However, when the beginning of “Sic Transit Gloria” started and the whole crowd let out a scream, I did as well. Everyone belted out the Deja Entendu classic. That was followed by “Okay I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t” another favorite amongst the crowd (I went so hard). It seemed like those two songs along with “Jesus Christ” and “Sowing Season (Yeah)” got the biggest crowd reaction (they closed out the show with those two along with “Degausser” in between). The set featured no songs from “Your Favorite Weapon”. I think because of my high hopes for that I was disappointed and found the set less enjoyable than expected. Don’t get me wrong the set was great and everyone there was dancing hard while screaming out the lyrics to their favorite songs, but from my perspective, it was disappointing.

St. Vincent was next on my list for the day followed by Florence and the Machine (one of my most anticipated acts of the weekend). We saw St. Vincent perform a few songs. “Digital Witness” was one of them, but once I noticed Kaskade finished his extremely popular set on the main stage (which was right by the stage St. Vincent performed at) we headed there to get a good spot for Florence.

My cousin’s back was sore so I told her to sit in the back next to a speaker pole (A9 to be exact) while I made my way closer to the stage. It was a difficult task. I planned to try to go to the opposite side of the stage from where we were for alt-J, but with the amount of people it didn’t work out like that. I was near the same spot I was at for alt-J (near the V.I.P. area). It was so cramped. A girl was annoyed that I tried to “steal her spot”. To be fair I left enough room for her to stand near the bar where we were, but she just didn’t want to share. It was dark by then. The V.I.P. area filled up too so it was difficult to see if anyone famous was hanging out, which I’m sure there was. When Florence and the Machine took the stage, I couldn’t see anything. All I saw was the big screen which showed what I could’ve easily watched at home on YouTube. I made the decision to leave the cramped spot during the second song “What Kind of Man” (she opened with “What the Water Gave Me”). Cell reception was at its worst of the weekend so I had a hard time figuring out where my cousin was (she was not at pole A9). I visually missed a large chunk of the set because I was looking for her. I did stop to watch at times though. It was just a difficult moment. We finally reunited (she was at pole A7) and I was able to watch the end of the set which included new song “Ship to Wreck”, “Shake It Out”, and “Dog Days Are Over”. Singing and dancing along to “Shake It Out” and “Dog Days..” made up for lost time. During “Dog Days..” she had the crowd embrace each other, take off an article of clothing and wave it around, and jump up and down, which she took part in as well (She took off her shirt. It was wild!). If it weren’t for all my issues during the set (being cramped and losing my cousin) I would have fully enjoyed it. Everything I saw of it was amazing. Florence and the Machine put on a hell of a live performance. I’d love to see them again in a more intimate capacity (you know just a Florence show rather than at a festival).

The last set of the night was Drake (my cousin’s choice and I figured “Hey I’ll see him just to say I saw him” because Drake is not my type of music). His set started a half hour late. I knew zero songs. My cousin knew one which he only sang/rapped part of. We left around 11 which was 15 minutes or so after it started. We missed the whole Madonna thing. It wasn’t a big deal to us though. The best part of the Drake set for me was his pre-show playlist. It included Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” which got the whole crowd going. Back in the day when I liked rap and Eminem, I used to listen to the song before every 8th grade basketball game so it was fun to sing/rap to again.

Leaving the venue during the Drake set concluded my first Coachella experience. Like I said it was incredible. I feel so blessed to have gone and experienced it. I would recommend it to anyone to attend. Sure there are other huge similar style festivals like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and now even Firefly, but there’s something special about Coachella. Maybe it’s the atmosphere or maybe it’s the hype with the parties and fashion and tons of celebrities that go every year. No matter the reason, it was a dream experience. For me, it was the music. It’s always the music. To quote something Jack White said during his set, “I hope you realize for a few seconds every day that music is scared. That music is sacred! That music is sacred! That music is sacred!” I agree Jack. So whether it be Coachella or any concert or festival or radio station or CD or record or ipod/iphone playlist, let’s remember that. Music is sacred.

 

 

Coachella Band Preview: Alt-J

With 43 days left until Weekend One of Coachella 2015, music prep time continues to run out. That’s why today I’m previewing another band playing a bigger role in this year’s festival compared to the last time they played in 2013.

Formed in 2007, English indie rock band Alt-J has exploded on the indie music scene within the last two and a half years since the release of their first album An Awesome Wave in 2012. Their name comes from their symbol ∆ (the delta sign) which can be typed on a Mac by pressing alt-j (I actually did it to type the symbol in this sentence…so cool). Members Joe Newman, Thom Green, Gus Unger-Hamilton and former member Gwil Sainsbury (replaced by Cameron Knight this past year) created the band while studying at Leeds University. They eventually signed a record deal in late 2011 and released An Awesome Wave that following spring (although it wasn’t released in America until September 2012).

I first heard of Alt-J one Saturday morning in October 2012 right before heading out of the house. One of my favorite actresses, Troian Bellisario (star of TV’s Pretty Little Liars), had posted about the song “Breezeblocks” to some form of social media. I listened to it and downloaded it right after while I was waiting for my mom to be ready to go to where ever we were going that morning. I remember being in the process of downloading it when my mom said she was ready to leave. A day later I downloaded the song “Something Good”. Since that time I would hear an Alt-J song here or there and download it. It wasn’t until this past September when Alt-J released their Grammy nominated second album This is All Yours that I decided I needed to get the album on vinyl (ended up getting it for Christmas).

Although I knew about Alt-J for a little over 2 years I never went through a major phase when I listened to them constantly. I feel like they’re the kind of band you put on when you’re just relaxing in your room. Their sound is basically indie music with electronics that create this (at times) Arabian-like style especially in songs like “Fitzpleasure” and “Taro”. It could partially be Newman’s vocals that create that effect as well. Its definitely something to listen to. The hit off their latest album “Left Hand Free” has more of an indie rock feel, but still has that same unique Alt-J sound that is evident in all their music.

This year at Coachella they’re playing the Saturday date on Weekend One and Weekend Two in more of a headlining role. With their rise in the indie scene and the amount of sold-out shows they’ve played, it’s only natural to see them on the main stage this time around. It should be one of the highlights of the weekend for sure. With not much prep time left, it’s time to start checking these guys out.

Song recommendations:

1. “Breezeblocks”

2. “Left Hand Free”

3. “Fitzpleasure”

4. “Something Good”

5. “Warm Foothills”

6. “Tessellate”

7. “Every Other Freckle”

8. “Pusher”

9. “Hunger on the Pine” (As a side note, this song features Miley Cyrus…so let that sink in.)

10. “Taro”

2015 Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival Lineup Release

With the new year upon us, only a few months remain until spring and summer. What seems to have become a bigger deal in recent years during these seasons at least according to my perspective are music festivals. I mean up until 4 years ago or so all I knew of was the Vans Warped Tour (travels all over the country) which I had attended from 2005-2011 and the Bamboozle Festival in New Jersey, which is no longer in existence. Apparently musical festivals, a lot of which last several days, are a big deal.

Some of the biggest in the country are Lollapalooza in Chicago, Illinois, South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee, and Coachella in Indio, California. Of course if you want to get global we could also include Glastonbury in England. On the east coast (where I reside), Firefly (Dover, Delaware) and Governor’s Ball (New York, New York) seem to be getting some acclaim. On the west coast, I’ve heard some pretty good things about Sasquatch (Gorge, Washington). Then again, there’s plenty of other festivals for specific types of music as well.

When it comes to all these festivals, those who look forward to attending anticipate the lineup announcements, and for those who plan on attending Coachella, the lineup was released 2 days ago. Since Coachella is probably the biggest and most acclaimed festival in the U.S., I just wanted to take the time to feature the lineup.  It’s also pretty important to me because for the first time ever I will be attending the festival during Weekend 1 (yes this festival got so big it is now two consecutive weekends) and I want to discuss what I expect from the Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival 2015.

The Headliners: AC/DC, Jack White, Drake

These headliners are always front of the rumor mill for weeks leading up to the lineup announcement. With this lineup of headliners and often with Coachella headliners we’re given a blend of different types of artists. AC/DC is old-school, classic rock. From what I’ve read this may be one of the last times they even play a show together, so it’s bound to be a special experience. Plus it’s a guarantee that everyone knows their songs and will gladly sing along as they shred Friday night in the desert. This will be Jack White’s first time playing as a solo artist at Coachella (he played as a member of the White Stripes, the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather). He’s also a rock guy and with being a well-known musician, plus the success of Lazaretto he seemed destined to headline the event. Lastly, rap artist, Drake, will be closing out the list of headliners Sunday night. As stated, Coachella seems to get many music styles in their yearly lineups. Having big name rappers headline the festival is nothing new (Kanye West, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, and Dr. Dre have previously headlined) but being given a top spot for a rapper is quite the honor. His set is already being referred to as one of the most highly anticipated sets of the weekend. With Drake’s success, I’m sure he won’t disappoint.

The Other Highly Billed Performers (aka the next 2 lines on each day of the poster): Tame Impala, Interpol, Steely Dan, Alesso, Alabama Shakes, Ride, Nero, the Weeknd, Axwell ^ Ingrosso, alt-J, Belle & Sebastian, Ratatat, Hozier, Florence & the Machine, Kaskade, Ryan Adams, David Guetta, St. Vincent, Azealia Banks, Flying Lotus, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, Lykke Li, DJ Snake, Porter Robinson, Caribou, Flosstradamus, Bad Religion, SBTRKT, FKA Twigs, Tyler the Creator, Father John Misty, the War on Drugs, Deorro, Marina and the Diamonds, Fitz and the Tantrums, Brand New, Madeon, Stromae, Kygo, Odesza, Gesaffelstein, RAC, Lil B

Obviously I can’t go into discussion about each of these bands, but as I stated twice already, Coachella puts a lineup together of all different styles of music and this year is no different. I do have to mention Steely Dan and Ride, which along with AC/DC make up some pretty old acts. Out of this group I’m most looking forward to Alabama Shakes, alt-J, Belle & Sebastian, Florence & the Machine, St. Vincent, RAC, and Brand New. I’d also be interested in checking out Ride (I really know nothing except for “Vapour Trail” because of The Perks of Being A Wallflower (the book)), Hozier (will definitely check them out if there’s time because it’ll be a fun set, but I did see them last year at the Sweetlife Festival and they’re not high on my list of faves), Bad Religion (I don’t know too much of their stuff but another old school band I listened to in college on occasion), Father John Misty (I just wanna hear “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”), Fitz and the Tantrums (good band but like Hozier I saw them at Sweetlife), and Tame Impala (they’re alright and I own an album, but again not one of my faves).

2-3 years ago I was pretty hyped on Alabama Shakes so I’m looking forward to their set and hearing Brittany Howard kill the vocals. I just got alt-J’s latest album on vinyl and I’ve been a fan of a selection of their songs for a couple years. Belle & Sebastian have been around for awhile. I passed up the opportunity to seem them in Pittsburgh last summer and I’m kind of looking forward to singing along to “Boy with the Arab Strap”. Out of all the bands playing I think I’m looking forward to seeing Florence & the Machine the most. Florence Welch has some insane pipes. I have both of their albums on vinyl and with a third coming out soon, it looks like I’ll have to make that purchase before I fly out to SoCal. I’m not a huge St. Vincent fan but it’s mostly because I haven’t really listened to a ton of her music. I know a few songs and I really enjoy those so I’m gonna have to prep for this one. I still like her enough to add her to my list of most anticipated acts. I was hooked on the song “Cheap Sunglasses” by RAC this past summer and I downloaded a few other songs since then. I plan on learning more in the three months until Coachella so I’m ready for what I think will be a fun set. Finally, Brand New. I could make a whole post about Brand New and I probably will at some point. I’ve liked Brand New since I was 15 years old. Since my second musical enlightenment (refer back to the post about that), I’ve fallen out of listening to them (unless I feel like playing some “Seventy Times Seven” to myself on guitar). I’ve seen them three times already and enjoyed each experience. Out of all the bands playing Coachella though, I know the most songs by Brand New. It’ll definitely be a throwback for me and I guarantee everyone at that set will most likely be feeling the same nostalgia I’ll feel. It’s gonna be fun.

The Rest: Caribou, Todd Terje and the Olsens, Angus & Julia Stone, Hot Natured, George Ezra, Squarepusher, Kiesza, Action Bronson, Gorgon City, Reverend Horton Heat, Sylvan Esso, Kimbra, Vic Mensa, Erol Alkan, Kele, Cloud Nothings, Keys N Krates, MK, Pete Tong, Ab-Soul, Haerts, Eagulls, Allah-Las, Alvin Risk, Chris Malinchak, Jon Hopkins, Oliver Heldens, Ryan Hemsworth, Jason Bentley, Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, Marques Wyatt, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Los Rakas, Run the Jewels, Tycho, Chet Faker, Kasabian, Drive Like Jehu, Swans, Milky Chance, Toro y Moi, Jungle, New World Punx, Clean Bandit, Glass Animals, Royal Blood, Alison Wonderland, the Gaslamp Killer Experience, Loco Dice, Danny Tenaglia, Antemasque, Parquet Courts, Gramatik, Lights, What So Not, Yellow Claw, DJ Harvey, Tale of Us, Yelle, Andrew McMahon, Carl Graig, Phox, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Cashmere Cat, Nortec Collective Presents: Bostich + Fussible, Tourist, Benjamin Booker, Matthew Koma, Perfume Genius, Jamestown Revival, Bad Suns, Ruen Brothers, Bixel Boys, Andrea Olivia, Ryn Weaver, Radkey, Coasts, Until the Ribbon Breaks, Circa Survive, Jenny Lewis, Desaparecidos, Jamie xx, Martin Solveig, Duke Dumont, Mac DeMarco, Vance Joy, Built to Spill, J.E.S.&S (Jack Master, Eats Everything, Skream & Seth Troxler), Panda Bear, Kaytranada, R3hab, St. Lucia, Dirty South, OFF!, Charles Bradley, Philip Selway, Cedric Gervais, Claude Von Stroke, Touché Amoré, Joyce Manor, Angel Olsen, John Talabot, Tiger and Woods, Dubfire, Sturgill Simpson, Annie Mac, Chicano Batman, MØ, Sloan, Doc Martin, Saint Motel, The Orwells, The Cribs, tINI, Ben Klock, Night Terrors of 1927

Some of the bands listed here might also be considered highly billed as well but I just listed everything in poster order priority. Out of this group, I’d like to see Angus & Julia Stone, Milky Chance, Jungle, Desaparecidos, Vance Joy, St. Lucia, and Andrew McMahon. Even though they’re not listed as a top performer, I really like St. Lucia and I missed them at Sweetlife last year because I was trying to secure a good spot for Lana Del Rey. I just received their album on vinyl for Christmas and I love it so I’m definitely making these guys a priority. Next on the priority list from this group of bands is Desaparecidos which I never listened to/heard of until today (listening as I write this actually). I’m kind of upset I haven’t because they’re a side project band of the all too well-known Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes. I always thought it would be cool to see Conor Oberst/Bright Eyes and I don’t plan on missing out at my opportunity. Count the rest of the bands I listed above as ones I would see if there was time/nothing else going on. It’s not like Andrew McMahon is going to play a bunch of Something Corporate songs for me to jam to (although “Konstantine” would be devine), I only know the most well-known song by both Milky Chance and Vance Joy, and Angus & Julia Stone are great to listen to on a long drive but I only know a few songs and they’re not one of my favorites. Jungle is borderline. It depends how much I listen to them in the coming months/how much I enjoy listening to them but I do really love the song “Time”.

As far as this lineup goes, I think it could be better based on my own tastes (I liked last year’s lineup a lot). However, I still feel fortunate that I’m going and get to experience what Coachella is all about. Who knows though. There might be other bands I check out and end up loving that I add to my list of bands I want to see when I attend this epic 3 day extravaganza with my awesome cousin, Kelly, who agreed to go with me. You can bet I’ll be prepping for the next 3 months and you can also expect a review of my experience/the bands post-festival. Please feel free to comment with any bands you think I would like or should listen to because I’m all about good prep suggestions. The countdown to this famed festival got real with the lineup release Tuesday, and I can’t believe I actually get to be there instead of watching the stream on my computer this year. Until then, it’s music prep time. See you in the desert!