alternative rock

Coachella Band Preview: Mansionair

Hola! I’m back in Mexico this week, but still bringing you another Coachella band preview because we officially have 2 months to go. This week I’ve got a band for you that I first found out about during Coachella 2018! They’re due to release their debut album in 2 weeks, but they’ve been putting out jams for the past 5 years.

Mansionair was formed in 2014 in Australia when singer Jack Froggatt was invited to join producers Lachlan Bostock and Alex Nicholls on music they had been making. They released the song “Hold Me Down” in early 2014. It hit two million views in 2 months. The trio then signed to Glassnote Records and were asked to join CHVRCHES on tour.

In 2015 the band released the EP Pick Me Up which featured their hit single “Hold Me Down”, a remix of the song, and 2 other tracks. They were also asked to join alt-J and Florence and the Machine on tour. They released the single “Easier” in 2016 followed by the hit single “Astronaut – Something About Your Love” in 2017. The 2017 hit reached number 44 on the Billboard Rock Airplay chart. The band also collaborated with electronic artists Odesza on their song “Line of Sight” also featuring WYNNE, which peaked at number 23 on Billboard’s Alternative Chart and number 37 on its Dance/Electronic Songs chart. Last year Mansionair dropped 3 more singles which will all be on their debut album Shadowboxer along with their latest single “Shadows”.

Mansionair’s sound is a perfect blend of alternative/indie rock and electronic music. Although their sound is definitely different, their style is similar to fellow Australians and Coachella 2019 performers RÜFÜS DU SOL. Their music has a darker, sensual feel to it though. It’s such a vibe to be honest.

As I mentioned, I first heard of Mansionair during Coachella 2018. We constantly listened to Alt Nation on Sirius XM on our drives to and from site each day and Mansionair’s “Astronaut – Something About Your Love” was part of the rotation during that time. There were several other songs that were continuously played on that station last spring and will always remind me of Coachella in some way. Mansionair was a part of that. It’s pretty cool that Mansionair already has that Coachella association for me since they’re actually playing the festival this year.

Coachella 2019 marks Mansionair’s first Coachella appearance. With their first album being released March 1st, the group will be touring and undoubtedly playing some of the festival circuit in the U.S. this summer. They’re already booked for Firefly as well. Mansionair plays Sunday at Coachella. I doubt they’ll be playing one of the main stages unless it’s an early afternoon set time. My guess is that they play Gobi or Mojave. The timing is in question though. They could easily play at any time of the day. Since Mansionair doesn’t have a huge discography yet, listening to all their tunes should easily prep you to see them. I guarantee it’ll be worth it too as these guys seem to be rising in their respective music scene. Before heading to see them at Coachella you should check out:

  1. Astronaut – Something About Your Love
  2. Shadows
  3. Easier
  4. Speak Easy
  5. Hold Me Down
  6. Technicolour
  7. Falling
  8. Violet City
  9. Pick Me Up
  10. The rest of their debut album!
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Coachella Band Preview: Weezer

January is quickly wrapping up and Coachella 2019 will be here before you know it. After spending 10 days in the humid air of Riviera Maya, Mexico, I’m counting down the days until my two (possibly three) week stretch in the dry Indio desert. I can’t wait to be there and I’m sure you’re feeling the same way. This week I decided to preview a well known alternative rock band playing the festival this year.

Weezer was formed around 1992 in Los Angeles, California. The band is comprised of Rivers Cuomo (lead vocals, lead guitar, keyboards), Patrick Wilson (drums), Brian Bell (guitar, backing vocals, keyboards), and Scott Shriner (bass, backing vocals). The band signed a deal to Geffen Records in 1993 and released their debut self-titled album (Blue Album) the following year. The album, which has since gone on to go 3x platinum, features notable hits “Buddy Holly”, “Undone – The Sweater Song”, and “Say It Ain’t So”.

Weezer’s second album Pinkerton was released in 1996, but the album wasn’t received as well due to the darker and more abrasive sound compared to their first album. The album has since gone on to critical acclaim, but initially it was considered a flop. The band went on hiatus between 1997 and 2000, which created a 5 year gap in album releases. Weezer released their third album in 2001 (Green Album). The album had a more pop sound than their sophomore release and created hits like “Island in the Sun” and “Hash Pipe”.

Since 2001 Weezer has released 7 more albums, which have contained hits like “Beverly Hills”, “Pork and Beans”, and “Feels Like Summer”. Just last week Weezer released their 11th full-length album to date the self-titled Teal Album. Their most recent release is a cover album containing their 2018 hit cover of Toto’s “Africa” and others including Radiohead’s “Paranoid” and TLC’s “No Scrubs”. The band also has a new album due out March 1st, the self-titled Black Album, making Coachella a perfect stop for the band who will be touring to promote their latest work.

Weezer has always been an iconic alternative rock band since the early 90’s. They span generations of fans as well because those of us who discovered alt-rock at some point have heard of Weezer, know Weezer songs, and/or have become fans ourselves. I’m totally including myself in this mix too. I first heard of Weezer when I was in high school. “Island in the Sun” was one of the first songs I had to practice when I began taking drum lessons on a full kit. While I was in a band in high school, we used to jam at our band practices by playing “Say It Ain’t So”. Throughout the years, the band has maintained the same quality of alternative rock sound too, which is always impressive and aids in keeping their dedicated fan base.

Weezer will be playing their 3rd Coachella this year. The band first debuted at the festival in 2001. They also played in 2005. They’re now back for the 20th anniversary of the festival and their first appearance there in 14 years. It should be a fun, well-attended set given Weezer’s iconic status. They play Saturday and there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll either be playing the Main Stage or the Outdoor Stage. Weezer has a huge discography so here’s several of their hits that you should know before heading to their performance:

  1. Buddy Holly
  2. Undone – The Sweater Song
  3. Say It Ain’t So
  4. Island in the Sun
  5. Beverly Hills
  6. Hash Pipe
  7. Africa (Toto Cover)
  8. Feels Like Summer
  9. Thank God For Girls
  10. (If You’re Wondering if I Want You To) I Want You To
  11. Pork and Beans
  12. Tired of Sex
  13. Back to the Shack
  14. King of the World
  15. My Name Is Jonas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Church of Scars: Album Review

It’s been close to 2 months since I last posted, so let me update you on what’s been going on.

 I planned to post after I returned from Coachella, but honestly I had 2 1/2 weeks before I left to go to Las Vegas for EDC and I got busy. I worked. I traveled to NYC and Washington, D.C. Then, I prepped for one of the biggest music festivals in the country (EDC Las Vegas) and for being away for another week and a half.

EDC was a roller coaster. It’s a chaotic mess of a festival and nothing compared to the glory that is Coachella. Our ticketing team had great moments and terrible ones. I’ve never seen my best friend feel so stressed at times. On a personal level, I made things happen, had some amazing times, and a lot of laughs, but there were other moments that made me feel unwanted, unnecessary and useless. It truly was a roller coaster. After I returned, the aftermath of EDC spilled over and this blog got pushed to the back burner. 

I leave for another festival in 2 weeks, so again there’s gonna be more posting delays. I’m trying to catch up on what I missed posting since Coachella though, which are a lot of new album reviews. Sure the 2018 hype isn’t as high as it was last year for me when it comes to new music, but a lot that I like has been released in the past 2 months.

One of those is the debut album from Bishop Briggs, Church of Scars. Church of Scars was released on April 20th. I was still at Coachella. I didn’t even go out to buy it until 2 weeks after I returned. When I first discovered Bishop Briggs last year, I was excited to know that she hadn’t released a full length album yet. It felt like I could still be part of the anticipation for that. Plus, I knew after the music high of 2017, it was something I could look forward to this year. 

Three tracks from the debut album were also part of her self-titled EP, which was released in full in April 2017. Two other tracks “Dream” and “White Flag” were released in the build up to the album release date. Fans (me included) were already familiar with half of the album upon its release because of that. The other tracks follow suit to her dark, soulful, indie/alternative pop/rock style and provide you with more of what you already love from Bishop Briggs.

Out of the completely new songs, I really enjoy “Tempt My Trouble”. It’s a jam for sure. The other previously unreleased tracks are a little slower and a lot more soulful, but they’re still everything you’d hope for from her full length debut. 

Although Bishop Briggs played a number of festivals I worked at last year and I even saw part of her set at one of them without really knowing her music, I feel like I’ve never really seen her perform because I wasn’t paying attention to her before last fall. I’ll be working Electric Forest for the last 2 1/2 weeks of June and she’ll be performing both weekends. It’s safe to say that if there’s one performance I’d like to see at Forest, it’s hers. 

I highly recommend picking up her debut or at least listening to it. She’s an artist you don’t want to miss out on because her music is fantastic and she can kill it on vocals. If you’re a fan, I’m sure you already have or you’ve at least listened to it on Spotify. You still have time to hop on her fan train though because Bishop Briggs’ music career is just getting started.

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.

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

Bishop Briggs

2017 is almost over. It’s been such a great year in so many ways. However there were two times I could’ve done something better. I realized I failed twice this year. The first time was with Glass Animals. I started listening to them after they played a bunch of festivals I worked at. Their tour dates were also sold out by then. I found out yesterday the second time I failed was with Bishop Briggs.

Last night I was going through a few pre-made Spotify playlists looking for new music and I decided to listen to a song called “Dream” by Bishop Briggs. I’d known her name since working Coachella back in April. While working at the festival, I was taking a few of our Safari guests to their desired location while we talked about music. I mentioned I thought that BANKS had such a draw at her set that she was too big to be performing at the Gobi Tent. I said she should have been on the Main Stage or the Outdoor Stage (both allow for more space). Then one of the guests agreed and said she thought the same thing about Bishop Briggs. Up until that point Bishop Briggs was just a name on the Coachella lineup to me. I told the guest I never listened to Bishop Briggs and she started talking about her and how great she was. I told her I’d check her out. I never really did until yesterday. Fail.

Sarah Grace McLaughlin, aka Bishop Briggs, is relatively new on the music scene first making her mark with the song “Wild Horses” in 2015, then under the name “BISHOP”. She changed her name to Bishop Briggs in 2016 to avoid any legal confrontation with a metal band by the same name. The name comes from the town where her Scottish parents are from in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland. She was born in London, England but spent her formative years growing up in Tokyo and Hong Kong, eventually moving to the U.S. to attend college in Los Angeles. She developed a love for music at a young age after performing in a karaoke bar when she was 4.

After being discovered by a former A&R rep. in 2015, Bishop Briggs gained popularity when “Wild Horses” appeared in an Acura commercial. In early 2016, she released her second single “River”. The song made Alternative charts on Billboard and iTunes as well as topping Spotify’s U.S. Viral 50 chart and reaching #2 on its Global Viral 50 chart. By late 2016 “Wild Horses” started climbing the charts. The song was featured on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart and Twitter Emerging Artists chart as well as iTunes Alternative charts.

She released 3 other singles last year which culminated in her first EP which was released in limited capacity as a vinyl on Record Store Day Black Friday 2016 and in full on April 14, 2017. The full self-titled EP also featured two unreleased songs. She also contributed the song, “Mercy”, to the xXx: Return of Xander Cage Soundtrack and collaborated with Cold War Kids on their song “So Tied Up”. She’s spent time on tours opening for Coldplay, Kaleo, and alt-J as well as playing some major music festivals this past summer. She’s currently on tour opening for Bleachers.

Briggs has described her music as being a trap-soul style. Her singing is dark, deep, and soulful. Her music is also considered to be part of the indie pop, alternative rock genres. I agree with all of these classifications. To me, her sound is comparable to BANKS, but their songs differ slightly too. Bishop Briggs almost has this indie folk type sound with deeper, scratchier vocals, whereas BANKS offers cleaner vocals with more of an electronic sound to her songs. Both sing with a powerful sound though and are alternative in their own rights.

I realized shortly before starting this blog that I listened to some of Bishop Briggs’ Panorama performance this summer. I remember thinking then that she was definitely good and I’d have to spend some time listening to her. I also was exposed to her from the Cold War Kids collaboration which I heard for the first time back in June. I loved the collab. Last night her newest single, “Dream”, is what made it click for me. I fell in love with the song immediately after hearing it for the first time. So I decided to listen to her other music along with playing “Dream” on repeat a few more times. I had so many opportunities to see her this past year that I never capitalized on and one opportunity where I didn’t appreciate her enough, similar to my Glass Animals experience, which was coincidentally at Panorama too. The good part about this though is that Bishop Briggs has yet to release her first full-length album, which usually means a headlining tour. So maybe I still have a chance? Until then though I’ll just keep playing “Dream” on repeat, listen to her other songs in there too, and hope for the best. Do yourself a favor and listen to her. But, unlike me, actually do it. “Dream” is fire and her other singles are pretty damn awesome too.

American Dream: Album Review

Summer 2017 has almost reached its conclusion. There’s only a few weeks left, but after Labor Day, pumpkin spice lattes are all the rage, temps start decreasing, and sweaters and flannels cover the upper torsos of most. Summer isn’t officially over until September 22nd, but still we’re less than a month away.

That being said this summer was epic for both me and the rest of the music world. I worked all over the country, had amazing experiences, made new friends, and strengthened relationships with old friends. It was incredible. It was also incredible because a plethora of new albums were released this summer by so many of my favorite bands and artists. Before the end of summer though, there’s one more highly anticipated album that was just released. The album was a long time coming for NYC alternative dance band, LCD Soundsystem. So after 7 long years, an apparent break-up, a final show at Madison Square Garden and a film to tell its tale, a Christmas song, and a comeback no one ever thought was happening, American Dream is here.

American Dream is the 4th full length album from James Murphy and his posse. This album is more melodious than their previous works, yet it combines the great electronic/techno indie dance style that LCD Soundsystem is known for. If you’re looking for that classic LCD sound, look to the songs “tonite”, “call the police”, “emotional haircut”, and “other voices”. Songs like “change yr mind” and “how do you sleep?” combine a dance style with more melody, as they both start slow and build to a pace where you’re able to get into the groove.

LCD Soundsystem records have been known to include a slower song or something with more melody on more than one occasion. “New York I Love, But You’re Bringing Me Down” or “All I Want” are perfect examples of this. Each are on separate albums though. The latest from LCD Soundsystem incorporates 4 of these kind of tracks with “oh baby”, “i used to”, “american dream”, and “black screen”. “i used to” and “black screen” remind me of songs I’d hear from bands like Brand New or Circa Survive. They have an alternative rock/post-hardcore feel where all that’s missing is Murphy adding some screaming to his vocals. “oh baby” and “american dream” are filled with love, longing, and nostalgia lyrics reminiscent to the waltz style track “New York I Love You…”.

Normally I hate when bands change their sound, but in this case LCD Soundsystem hasn’t really changed much. They’re still playing the same style of music that made them famous in the mid to late 00’s. They’re just progressing. They got older even though they were never that young to begin with. They’re the same, but new. Anyway, to me, this record is one that no one ever thought they’d hear and LCD Soundsystem is back with a vengeance.

I urge you to check out this album. I first started listening to LCD Soundsystem in 2012 (yes after they broke up!) but fell in love with them all over again last summer after preparing for and seeing them live at Lollapalooza. They’re different than most bands I’m into and most bands you might listen to, but they combine an EDM style of music with an indie style. You just can’t help but want to dance yrself clean when you listen to them.

Almost every show on their upcoming tour is already sold out and they haven’t even begun to play shows yet. There’s no question that the rest of the shows will sell out in due time. So if you plan on seeing the revival of LCD Soundsystem on their touring circuit this time around, you either have to grab a ticket to one of the few remaining shows quickly, buy an overpriced resale ticket, or you’re S.O.L. Fortunately I have tickets to their upcoming tour and plenty of time to indulge in this new masterpiece of an album. Their American shows begin in mid-October so for those looking to see a live performance you have plenty of time as well as long as you start today. Check out American Dream as soon as you can!

I Got Soul But I’m Not A Solider

As stoked as I was about all of my favorites releasing new music this year, there’s so many other great bands and artists releasing new music too. One of them is kind of an old favorite for me, but because of finally getting the chance to see them at Lollapalooza, they’ve become a new favorite as well.

The Killers, a rock band from, Las Vegas, Nevada first formed in 2001. After getting fired from his first band, Brandon Flowers (lead vocals, keyboards, bass) began searching for like-minded musicians to join his musical pursuit. He recruited Dave Keuning (guitar, backing vocals) to work with him after seeing an ad the musician posted in a Las Vegas newspaper. The two bonded immediately and began writing together. They recorded a demo later that year, which included the first song the pair wrote together, (and The Killers’ biggest hit) “Mr. Brightside”.

By 2002, after a few lineup changes, The Killers became solidified with the additions of Ronnie Vannucci Jr. (drums) and Mark Stoermer (bass, guitar, backing vocals). They put together their first album, Hot Fuss, in the band room at UNLV (where Vannucci was studying classical percussion) coming up with future hits like “Somebody Told Me” and “Smile Like You Mean It”. By playing small venues in the Las Vegas area, they eventually caught the attention of a few A&R reps, which lead to signing with the British label Lizard King in 2003.

The deal with Lizard King gave The Killers, whose name was derived from a logo on a bass drum of the band in the music video for New Order’s song “Crystal”, some airplay with the song “Mr. Brightside”. They were eventually noticed by American labels and signed with Island Def Jam.

The group released their debut album, Hot Fuss, in June of 2004. The album was received well worldwide going 7x Platinum in the UK and Ireland, triple Platinum in the United States, Australia, and Canada, Platinum in New Zealand, and Gold in Argentina, Belgium, Germany, and France. The Killers and their debut album received 4 Grammy nominations including Best Rock Album.

After completing the touring for Hot Fuss, The Killers began working on their second album, Sam’s Town, which was released in October 2006. The lead single, “When You Were Young”, earned the group two more Grammy nominations and the album was again well received worldwide going 5x Platinum in the UK, 4x Platinum in Ireland, 2x Platinum in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, Platinum in the United States, and Gold in Argentina, Belgium, Germany, and Russia. By 2007, The Killers began playing in large scale venues and headlined Glastonbury for the first time.

Their third album Day & Age was released two years later in October of 2008. The lead single “Human” became a worldwide hit despite a confusing lyric in its refrain (“are we dancer?”). For the third time, the band had a worldwide successful album and headlined Lollapalooza and Coachella for the first time in 2009. By 2010 though, the band decided to take a short hiatus after 6 years of going nonstop.

The group reconvened in 2011 and began touring again while working on their fourth studio album. They headlined the inaugural Firefly Music Festival in June 2012 in support of their upcoming album. They released Battle Born in September 2012. The tour for Battle Born was their most widespread, which included visits to China and Russia. The tour included their biggest show to date at the 90,000 capacity Wembley Stadium.

In 2013, the band released a greatest hits compilation, Direct Hits, which became a ten year anniversary marker of their existence. The album also featured two new songs, “Shot at the Night” and “Just Another Girl”.

In just a few short weeks, the band will be releasing their fifth album, Wonderful Wonderful. They headlined Lollapalooza three weeks ago and even played a secret set at Glastonbury in promotion of their upcoming fifth album. The first single from the new album, “The Man”, was released in late June.

It’s always a surprise to me knowing that The Killers are from Las Vegas even though I’ve known this for a while now. Every time it comes up, it’s an “Oh….yeah!” moment for me. Due to their success in the UK, they’ve seemed like a British rock band. They’re just the best non-British British rock band there is I guess. Their music style is mostly alternative and indie rock and Flowers vocals sound somewhat signature to their sound. Their style of sound gives that British rock band impression too, even though they’re from the biggest city in Nevada.

I first heard of The Killers some time around the winter of 2004 to early spring of 2005. I don’t remember the exact time and any evidence I had of listening to them around that time doesn’t exist anymore. I do know that by the spring of 2005 “Mr. Brightside” became a staple track to listen to on my way to hockey games and while I first learned how to drive. My mom also fell in love with the song since she was with me in the car when I listened to it so much. I even purchased Hot Fuss at some point and became familiar with a few songs on that record, mainly “Somebody Told Me” and “Smile Like You Mean It”. The band also appeared on one of my favorite TV shows at the time, The OC. Through the years I occasionally listened to other songs by the band, such as “When You Were Young”, which was a Guitar Hero 3 hit and “All These Things That I’ve Done” and “Spaceman”, which I actually listened to most frequently in the past 4-6 years post-college.

It wasn’t until I realized I would get to see The Killers at Lollapalooza that I began listening to them more than I ever had before. It was basically a re-discovery of a band I’ve known for over 12 years. I even learned a few “new” old hits as well. I was definitely well prepared to see them at Lolla and as a result, I thoroughly enjoyed their set. The coolest part was having my mom there, since she purchased a 1-day ticket to see them along with Foster the People and Tegan & Sara among others, and hearing them close with “Mr. Brightside”, a song we used to listen to together many years ago. There were also several other songs I enjoyed hearing live too. Seeing them perform was a long time coming, but now I know I would actually purchase tickets to see them again. They were fantastic.

I’m sure you’ve heard of The Killers at some point in the last two decades, but I suggest you re-discover them, especially if you’re like me and only listened to them in their early days. They’ve already released a few singles from their new album and have announced a world tour in support of it. They’ll be touring in the U.S. in January after playing a few U.S. festivals this fall. I promise it’ll be worth your while to see them, check them out, or just listen to their new album. If you’re already a fan, I’m sure you’re stoked so I don’t have to persuade you much. Whether you last listened to them in “February of last year”, 12 years ago, or yesterday, The Killers are still one of the best non-British British rock bands and they’re sticking around for the time being.

 

Coachella Band Preview: Empire of the Sun

The first weekend of Coachella is 3 weeks away. Yes three weeks is what separates us from the hot sunny Indio Desert, the greens of the Empire Polo Fields swarming with festival-goers, palm trees swaying to the cool breeze and rad tunes, epic sunsets over the mountains, and the sweet sounds of music from incredible artists entering our ears. I only have a few band previews left before the annual festival begins and time is of the essence so I better get to it.

Empire of the Sun is an electronic/alternative rock band from Sydney, Australia. The band formed in 2007 as a collaboration between Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore. Both had worked together on music for each other’s bands before forming Empire of the Sun. Those bands each performed different styles of music. Steele brought the alternative rock genre to their new band and Littlemore brought the electronic dance music. Their first album, Walking on a Dream, was released in 2008 with the first single of the same name debuting about a month before the album’s release. Both the single and album were charted in the top ten of the ARIA charts. Although their only intention was to create a studio album, they decided to do live performances in response to the album’s success. However the live shows did not include Littlemore, who decided to opt out of touring early on. By the end of 2009, the band received 7 ARIA Awards for the album including Album of the Year.

2010 was the year the band embarked on the festival circuit playing Glastonbury and Lollapalooza for the first time and by the end of the year Littlemore and Steele discussed creating a new album for the band. Production on the album began in 2011 and Littlemore stated he would go out and tour in support of this one. 2011 also involved a North American tour for the band, which included a stop at Coachella.

The duo released their second album, Ice on the Dune, in June 2013. The new album brought more touring throughout 2013 and into 2014. The band made their second stop at Coachella in 2014 and headlined the Sahara Tent. Their music was also featured in the film Dumb and Dumber To, which came out in late 2014.

The band continued to tour into 2015 while simultaneously working on their third album. Their third and latest album was just released this past October. 2016 also marked the first time that the band broke on to the Billboard charts. It was their 2008 hit “Walking on a Dream” that earned the band the number 3 spot on the Alternative Music charts after it was used in a U.S. Honda commercial in early 2016.

Their music, as I said, is a combination of alternative rock and electronic music. It can’t be described much better than that, although some may say the band fits genres like synthpop or glam rock. I feel like their sound has stayed consistent over the course of three albums so if you love the song “Walking on a Dream” or only know music from that album, you’re bound to dig some of their more recent stuff.

I discovered Empire of the Sun in 2011. There’s no significant story of how so I’m guessing it was through a recommendation from Youtube or Pandora because I listened to similar music on either channel. Of course the first song I heard was “Walking on a Dream”. Throughout the past few years I’ve heard their other stuff here and there and I’ve liked it. I’ve also heard the song “Walking on a Dream” multiple times in various circumstances throughout the same time period. It’s no surprise it’s their biggest hit. I never got into them as a band though. Nor have I been dying to see them live, but I’ll tell you why I would definitely check them out at Coachella.

Music festivals give you an opportunity to see bands live who you might like but not like enough to buy a ticket for a touring show making Coachella the perfect time for someone like me to check them out. Empire of the Sun does some pretty cool live performances too. The performances are as much of a visual art as they are a musical art. They wear elaborate costumes, have dancers or other performers, and display mesmerizing visuals often seen as part of electronic shows. They play Friday at Coachella. They’ve already headlined the Sahara Tent at the festival once before so that might happen again. As long as their set doesn’t overlap with some other great performers, it’ll definitely be a spectacle worth seeing. Here’s a few songs to know if you go:

  1. Walking on a Dream
  2. Alive
  3. High and Low
  4. We Are the People
  5. Standing on the Shore
  6. DNA
  7. Two Vines
  8. Concert Pitch
  9. To Her Door
  10. Friends