alternative

Stay Present

Last July I worked my first Lollapalooza in 3 years. The Lolla lineup from 2016-2019 was my favorite of the year, but in 2021 that changed. I felt like I only knew a handful of artists. I went from knowing acts all over the lineup to only knowing the headliners and a couple of the other big names. The undercards were unrecognizable. Fortunately, thanks to a couple of friends I got to know a few of those up and coming artists. One of them was Lauren Sanderson, who my friend Megan is obsessed with.

Lauren Sanderson, who hails from Los Angeles but, originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana, began her music career on Youtube and SoundCloud. She originally started her channel as a motivational speaker, but then grew into music with rapping and poetry on her channel. After posting her cover of Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved,” she started gaining attention. She released her first EP Center of Expression in 2016 and her second EP Spaces in 2017. Spaces garnered her Billboard attention which lead to her record deal with Epic Records. In 2018, she debuted her first major label EP DON’T PANIC!.

In 2019 she left Epic Records and signed a one album deal with Young Forever. Her debut album Midwest Kids Can Make It Big was released in January 2020. She had a tour planned for that year, but like everything else, it was then rescheduled for 2021. Since live music made its return last year, Lauren has been touring and releasing music independently with a new album on the way.

Lauren Sanderson’s music is primarily pop with a mix of hip hop and alternative styles. Her music has a seductive edge to it at times as well, especially with songs like “But I Like It” and most recently with the release “Gay 4 Me.” Lauren Sanderson also has a huge presence in the LGBTQ+ community as a queer artist and has many gay themes in her music too.

Back at Lollapalooza, I was introduced to Lauren Sanderson because Megan had tickets to her aftershow and was stoked to see her perform. Lauren ended up cancelling all of her Lolla performances due to getting the covo. It wasn’t until a few months later that I realized I should listen to Lauren and so Megan began recommending some of her favorite songs like “17” and “Bathroom Stall in Seattle”, which are now some of my favorites as well.

I’ve been digging her music since I started listening. I even committed to seeing her live when she announced tour dates this past winter. After getting tickets a few months ago, I went with Megan last Monday to see her show and loved it. It was cool to see her perform in a small venue. She attracts a passionate and largely LGBTQ+ audience who went hard the entire time. I honestly felt like an outlier cause I didn’t know every word to every song. It was still fun though and it’s always a blast to witness my friends enjoy their favorite bands or artists. As I mentioned, Lauren has a new album on the way and likely more touring plans in the works. You should really start listening to her now, because there’s a good chance she might not be playing small venues for long. She’s got so many bops and I’m glad my pal was obsessed enough to share them and her with me.

The Dream: Album Review

When I was in the midst of previewing Coachella and almost ready to head out for the second leg of my Mexico adventure in February, alt-J dropped their fourth full length album The Dream. The band also recently embarked on a North American tour with Portugal. The Man in support of their latest with more dates planned for this year worldwide. The Dream is their first album in five years since 2017’s Relaxer. Overall, alt-j’s latest album maintains their unique indie rock style of sound that is prevalent throughout their first three records with a slightly more Americanized rock sound.

The album much like it’s title is very dreamy. It’s very chill and sometimes somber indie rock with minimal bops. It’s the perfect soundtrack for a long scenic drive in my opinion. “Hard Drive Gold” is the “Left Hand Free”, “Breezeblocks”, or “In Cold Blood” of The Dream. I feel like each alt-j album so far has one of those and “Hard Drive Gold”, the song about crypto, is that hit of their latest release. “U&Me”, “Get Better”, & “Happier When You’re Gone” are solid tracks reminiscent of that classic alt-J sound as well. The main difference from this album compared to their first three is that alt-j’s sound has steered from the Middle Eastern sounds found in their earlier music. It’s more rock heavy yet the vocals are still smooth and distinguishable as alt-J tracks.

I don’t think this is alt-J’s best work, but the album does have a good handful of quality tracks that will stick around on set lists in the future. I feel like any time a band slightly strays from their original sound this tends to happen. It’s worth listening to as an alt-J fan though and is probably worth adding to your music collection too. I added it to mine on vinyl yesterday and I’m stoked to listen to it on this rainy spring weekend. If you haven’t already, check it out on a chill day or when you need a good soundtrack for a long drive. It’s quality new alt-J ∆.

Coachella Band Preview: Turnstile

Only another 2 weeks before people from all over the world descend upon the fields at the Empire Polo Club. The stages are being built as we speak while all attendees get in any final preparations for their time in the desert. My hype level is high as I leave in just under a week from now. I still can’t believe it. In the last few months, I’ve been consistently listening to bands and artists I want to see at Coachella. This next band is one that I’ve recently been trying to get into in anticipation of seeing them at the festival. Their hardcore punk style of music is a genre I haven’t listened to much since I was in high school and college, but I kind of like it. They’re Turnstile from Baltimore, MD.

The band formed in 2010 and released their debut album Nonstop Feeling in 2015. The band is comprised of Brendan Yates, Franz Lyons, Daniel Fang, Brady Ebert, and Pat McCrory. They released two EPs prior with Pressure to Succeed in 2011 and Step 2 Rhythm in 2013. Their third EP Move Thru Me came out in 2016 followed by their second full length album Time & Space in 2018. Two more EPs Share A View (2020) and Turnstile Love Connection (2021) were released before their latest album Glow On dropped this past September. The album debuted at #30 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart and was listed as #8 on Rolling Stone’s list of Top Albums from 2021. For a hardcore band, that doesn’t happen very often. The hype surrounding the band has built up over the years, and it’s for good reason. They’re putting out great music. They have a much harder sound being a hardcore punk band, but also remind me of Turnover and other modern alternative rock bands.

Turnstile plays on Saturday during Coachella. I expect them to play in the heat of the afternoon sun. I would guess you might catch them at Mojave, Outdoor, or the Main stage depending on what time they play. I would love to see them at Sonora, similar to Turnover’s 2019 set, but I think they’re a little more popular than Turnover and will likely draw a bigger crowd. The only requirement for their set is that there needs to be enough room for a mosh pit. Their set will likely have the sweatiest and hardest dancing crowd. Sahara and Yuma aren’t even a competition. If you’re trying to mosh at Coachella, here are the Turnstile songs you should be listening to:

  1. MYSTERY
  2. BLACKOUT
  3. Real Thing
  4. HOLIDAY
  5. Gravity
  6. Generator
  7. I Don’t Wanna Be Blind
  8. ALIEN LOVE CALL
  9. UNDERWATER BOI
  10. Keep It Moving

Give Me the Future: Album Review

In February, while I was solely focused on writing Coachella Band Previews, several of my favorite bands dropped some new albums and I neglected to review them. The first of those was Bastille. On February 4th, Bastille released Give Me the Future. They dropped several tracks during 2021 in anticipation of the new album. Give Me the Future is Bastille’s fourth full length album and their latest since 2019.

Bastille is a band that has such a defining sound from Dan Smith’s smooth vocals. Their sound has always been a welcome consistency for me. That consistency lacks for a handful of artists so it’s nice when it exists. I will say the sound on the new album incorporates this modern, tech-y, futuristic style sound that is unique to other Bastille records, but it’s just enough to make their album sound different without making them sound different. A perfect example of this is “Plug In…” or “Back to the Future.” The theme of the album has such a deep, meaningful nature with the lyrical content too. The band credits that to the wild turn the world took in 2020 with the pandemic and what came from it.

As much as I always enjoy the music Bastille puts out, I have to say this album as a whole didn’t really do much for me. There’s a few songs I enjoy like “Shut Off the Lights” and “No Bad Days,” but overall as a whole it hasn’t really stuck out. Nonetheless, I’m grateful for the new tunes, many of which I heard over the last year before the whole album came out! Maybe that’s part of the reason why I haven’t felt as hype about it. Many of the songs I like came out before the album release. The ones I hadn’t heard yet didn’t really stick out. That could be it. I feel like I’m being picky about it. As a fan of Bastille and indie pop though, I still say it’s worth listening to and something you should decide on for yourself.

Damned if I Write This, Damned if I Don’t

I’m sorry to say, but it’s been another long amount of time I’ve gone without writing a blog post. It was a busy a fall with not much time at home and not much time to focus on the blog, which is a huge shame on me. As a quick update, up until last week, I only had 6 full days at home over the last 6 weeks. I spent mid-late September and much of October working 3 different music festivals (Firefly, Austin City Limits, and EDC Las Vegas). Then, I spent Halloween weekend with my family out-of-state. At this point though, I’ve finally been back for a week straight and thought it was time to make a post.

During Lolla week back in late July, I finally made it to my first Lolla after show. I saw pop punk band All Time Low at the Bottom Lounge (shoutout to my friend Emily for making it possible). Since then, I got back in touch with All Time Low, a band whose handful of songs I listened to at the end of high school/beginning of college. I can’t say I really went all in to All Time Low in the past few months, but I definitely started listening to a few more of their songs than “Dear Maria Count Me In” and “Coffee Shop Soundtrack.”

All Time Low, from Towson, Maryland (Baltimore suburb), formed in 2003 while still in high school. The group got their name from the lyrics of New Found Glory’s song “Head on Collision” (“And it feels like I’m at an all time low.”). Plenty of bands have gone through lineup changes over the years but All Time Low has remained consistent since their very early days with Alex Gaskarth on guitar and lead vocals, Jack Barakat on guitar, Zack Merrick on bass and backing vocals, and Rian Dawson on drums. In their very early days, Chris Cortilello and TJ Ihle were part of the group, but left before the band made a name for themselves.

The group released their first two EPs in 2004 before their debut album The Party Scene was released in 2005. The band signed with Hopeless Records in 2006 and released the EP Put Up or Shut Up that summer after graduating from high school. After joining the Vans Warped Tour in the summer of 2007, they released their second studio album So Wrong, It’s Right. This album peaked at 62 on the Billboard Top 200 and 6 on the Alternative Albums chart. Ultimately it lead to their rise in the alternative music scene. Their third album Nothing Personal debuted in July 2009. It reached number 4 on the Billboard Top 200 in it’s first week. By 2009 they became a headlining act at Warped Tour and had also been headlining their own national and international tours.

Since 2009, the band has been continually touring and releasing albums every few years. The most notable of those was Future Hearts in 2014 which debuted at number 2 on the Billboard Top 200, their highest charting album thus far. The most recent album they released was Wake Up, Sunshine in 2020. Other albums released include Dirty Work (2011), Don’t Panic (2013), and Last Young Renegade (2017).

All Time Low’s music style is classified as pop punk, pop rock, emo pop, and alternative, which is pretty spot on. They’ve stayed true to their genre throughout their time in existence, but I always think of them and their music style as something else, “scene” music. In the late 2000’s the “scene” subculture became a thing for alternative music fans. It developed from emo music/emo subculture. Now over 10 years later, All Time Low is a staple at emo nights around the country, where emo and other alternative music from the scene days is played for hours as millennials re-embrace super tight skinny jeans and heavy eyeliner while belting out anthems from their youth. “Dear Maria Count Me In” is one of those hits, as well as other pop punk, emo, alternative songs from that early scene era.

Despite knowing All Time Low for years, and even seeing the 1975 with them at Coachella (I happened to stand next to them), I had never seen them perform live until July. If it wasn’t for my friend Hailey, I’m not sure I would have even pushed as hard to see them either, but I’m glad we did, even if we only saw the last 4 songs. Hailey reintroduced me All Time Low as well as the Maine around that time and I’ve gotten into a few more of their songs since then including “Monsters”, “Damned if I Do Ya, Damned if I Don’t”, “Clumsy”, and “Weightless”. I’ve also re-sparked my interest in songs by several other bands I used to listen to this year including Fall Out Boy, Green Day, and Motion City Soundtrack. It’s definitely been a year of second-comings for alternative music for me.

Speaking of this year, we’re only weeks away from 2022 and for the first time in 2 years, there’s going to be a Coachella lineup drop, which means band previews and polo field hype will be back soon enough! Until then, I challenge you to get into a new old song by a band you listened to years ago. You just might be surprised how it could hit different especially if you’re over getting old.

We’re Going Down Down

It’s been 2 months since I last posted, which is something I’ve never done since I started this blog 7 years ago. I always tried to update each month, if not each week. I have good reason though. Over the last several weeks, I got caught up in this weird, transitional year. I finally returned to work onsite at a music festival in late June. Then the week after I was onsite at another. They were the first major events I worked in 15 months. It was awesome. Words can’t even explain how great it feels to be back at work doing what I love. Then after having visitors throughout the rest of July and dealing with some personal ongoing issues (tooth problems!), I made my huge return to Lollapalooza last week. Lollapalooza has always been one of my favorite festivals since I started working music festivals in 2016. Unlike other festivals, I did not work Lolla in 2019 so it was three years since my last time in Grant Park. The feeling of excitement for Lolla was what I was yearning for throughout 2020 and early 2021.

Before Lolla though, as I mentioned, I had several visitors throughout the month of July. One of them was my best buddy, my little cousin, Hudson. Over the last year, Hudson has gotten into alternative/pop punk band Fall Out Boy. I was a Fall Out Boy fan during high school. I saw them at my first Warped Tour in 2005. While Hudson was here, it was cool revisiting Fall Out Boy with him, especially since he knows the words to almost every song on From Under the Cork Tree. Currently, FOB is still in the news as they recently joined Green Day and Weezer for the Hella Mega Tour. Before we get into that though, let’s get into some band history.

Fall Out Boy formed was formed in Chicago in 2001 by bassist Pete Wentz and lead guitarist Joe Trohman. The group then recruited front man Patrick Stump and drummer Andy Hurley to the group, after trying out the group with other members. The band eventually signed with indie label Fueled by Ramen. They released their debut album Take This to Your Grave, under the label in May 2003. The album hurtled the band into the spotlight and substantially grew their fanbase.

In 2005, Fall Out Boy released their sophomore album From Under the Cork Tree. The album debuted at number 9 on the Billboard Top 200. The album’s top single “Sugar We’re Goin’ Down” peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 that year as well. Their second single from the album “Dance, Dance” also hit the top ten. It was post sophomore album that the band started touring in arenas and playing music festivals other than Warped Tour. The album also earned them a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.

The band dropped their third album Infinity on High in 2007 to much success. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard Top 200. The band headlined two major tours in support of their third album and also had several successful singles including “The Carpal Tunnel of Love”, “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s an Arms Race”, and “Thnks fr th Mmrs”. In December 2008, the band released Folie á Deux, their fourth full length album. Again, the album became a top ten hit, but did not quite reach the level of popularity as their prior two albums.

The band then went on hiatus from 2009 until 2013, when in February they announced their fifth record Save Rock and Roll and a reunion tour. The album’s top single “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)” peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2015, the band released their sixth album American Beauty/American Psycho. This album produced hits like “Centuries”, “Uma Thurman”, and “Immortals”.

The band’s latest album “Mania” was released in September of 2017. The band embarked on the yearlong Mania tour in support of the album, which included a stop at Wrigley Field in Chicago, the band’s largest headlining stadium show to date. As I mentioned, the band is currently playing on the Hella Mega Tour with Green Day and Weezer. The tour was announced in 2019 and was delayed in 2020 due to the “panny D”.

Fall Out Boy is widely considered a pop punk band, but their music bridges into alternative, emo, pop, and punk along with other sub-genres. Through the years, I feel like Fall Out Boy’s music went from punk heavy to more pop-mainstream. Their shows have too. From playing, general admission small shows to seated larger venue shows, Fall Out Boy’s persona has changed. As an early Fall Out Boy fan, it was weird working their show in 2017 and not seeing a place for a pit. Nonetheless, I’m sure there have been some pits during their sets at Hella Mega.

After some family deliberation, my cousin and his wife decided they want to wait for a Fall Out Boy headlining tour to take Hudson to see them, instead of splurging on Hella Mega tickets. Until then, I guess we’ll just keep up this Fall Out Boy phase. They’ve become a band that has spanned the decades, which is something I didn’t really expect or even think about when I started listening to them in high school. It’s to the point that Fall Out Boy has truly become a family show. If you haven’t already, give Fall Out Boy a shot, but I’m sure you probably already have at some moment through the years. I guess we truly will remember them for centuries.

You’ve Never Danced Like This Before

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

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

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

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

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

Coachella Band Preview: Emo Nite

So January is almost over. Just like that, there’s 1 month down and 2 to go until Coachella. I hope you’ve been listening to your favorite artists or maybe some new ones you want to check out. There’s a handful of artists I’m pretty stoked to see this year, but I’m also pretty excited about checking out an act that I might not have to do much preparation for. That act is Emo Nite.

Emo Nite started in LA in late 2014. It began when friends Babs Szabo, T.J. Petracca, and Morgan Freed wanted to host an emo themed bar party with their friends. The friends initially met and bonded over their love of emo music and growing up in the emo/pop-punk scene. They made a facebook group for their event and 500 people showed up. They tried again and the same thing happened. A lot of people love emo music so Emo Nite became a thing.

Over the past 5 years it has began touring around the country and playing other festivals like Life Is Beautiful and Firefly to name a few. The group has recruited guest DJs from emo and pop punk bands to come to Emo Nite like Blink-182’s Travis Barker, All Time Low, Good Charlotte, The All-American Rejects, Circa Survive’s Anthony Green, and Andrew McMahon of Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin, and Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness. They’ve even had non-emo artists like Halsey and Post Malone come out.

I’ve been to emo nights before (I’ve actually gone to 3 over the last year!), but never the official Emo Nite. I’m stoked to go at Coachella though. After the hype and rumors surrounding My Chemical Romance playing Coachella this year and then ultimately the band not being on the lineup, I think Emo Nite will help fulfill that void for everyone who expected to sing “Welcome to the Black Parade” with Gerard Way. Also this is Emo Nite at Coachella, a festival synonymous with epic guest appearances. I think we’ll be in for some great surprises at their set. Maybe a member or two of My Chemical Romance shows up? Or who knows who could be there? It’s definitely not worth it to sleep on Emo Nite though, especially if you were ever a fan of emo music.

I can’t even come up with a great guess on when or where Emo Nite will be. I would guess either Gobi or Mojave. I would also hope in the evening, but I think set time/stage possibilities really depend on what’s going to happen at Emo Nite and that we won’t know until the schedule comes out in the days before Weekend 1. Emo Nite is a tough one to prep for because let’s be honest, you’re only going to Emo Nite if you like/liked emo music and if you do or did, you’ve probably spent most of your teenage years prepping. Instead of giving you a bunch of songs to listen to, I’m gonna leave you with some bands you’ll probably hear at Emo Nite. Prep if you want, re-visit some of your favorite songs, or show up and have all the old lyrics come rushing back to you. Do whatever you want except don’t sleep on Emo Nite!

  1. Dashboard Confessional
  2. Brand New
  3. Taking Back Sunday
  4. Fall Out Boy
  5. Panic! At the Disco
  6. My Chemical Romance
  7. All Time Low
  8. Something Corporate
  9. Green Day
  10. Blink-182
  11. Good Charlotte
  12. Simple Plan
  13. The Starting Line
  14. Forever the Sickest Kids
  15. Bayside
  16. Jimmy Eat World
  17. Saves the Day
  18. Say Anything
  19. The Get Up Kids
  20. Death Cab For Cutie

 

CHAMPION: Album Review

A few weeks ago Bishop Briggs released her sophomore album CHAMPION. Her debut came out about a year and a half ago and in that time Briggs has been touring while simultaneously working on new music. Bishop Briggs released the bonus track “Hold On” in 2018 as well as the single “Baby”. Neither made the cut for the new album. In the weeks leading up to the release, Briggs released several new songs featured on the album. One of those singles was the title track “CHAMPION” which has since reached the number 22 position on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart.

CHAMPION picks up right where Church of Scars left off. It’s filled with more soulful alternative/indie rock jams. It’s a great follow up, especially with sure hits like CHAMPION, the break up anthem “TATTOOED ON MY HEART”, and “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?”. If anything I think this album differs only slightly stylistically due to the less predominant bass in the tracks. Even with that slight difference, the bass is still there, just a bit less than in Bishop Briggs’ debut.

This album is definitely worthy of a listen for alternative/indie music fans, especially those who love Bishop Briggs and her powerhouse vocals. Bishop Briggs has yet to announce any 2020 tour dates but is currently finishing up this year touring in Europe. I suspect she’ll be going strong into the new year with more shows and festivals after this new release late in 2019. Keep an eye out for her and her tunes in the new year because she’s bound to be on the 2020 concert/festival radar.

Hey I’m Just Like You: Album Review

A few weeks ago Tegan and Sara released their ninth studio album. The Canadian duo has been making music since the early 2000’s, but this album is a bit more special than the others they released prior. The album coincides with the debut of their memoir High School. The book is about their musical beginnings, growing up, and attending high school in the 90’s. While working on the book, the twins found a bunch of cassettes with early recordings of songs they wrote during that time and decided to re-work and re-record the songs. From there, Hey I’m Just Like You was born.

The new album pays homage to their rock and punk rock roots while still incorporating the pop sound they’ve grown into over the years. The best example of this is the track “I’ll Be Back Someday”, which was one of the first songs from the album that Tegan and Sara released. The song has a very clear and distinct punk influence. The lyrics reference themes of their adolescence like drug use, relationships, friendship, love, and self-reflection. Hey I’m Just Like You is also the first Tegan and Sara album recorded by an all female team.

Tegan and Sara are currently on tour in support of the album and book. Many of the tour dates are sold out. Fortunately, I’ll be attending one of their shows next week. I already picked up a copy of the book before I left to work Austin City Limits. Then I bought the album while visiting Waterloo Records on one of my off days in Austin. It’s safe to say I’ve been prepping for the last 2 1/2 weeks, but I love a good Tegan and Sara show. I highly recommend the album if you’re a Tegan and Sara fan. This one is definitely unique and yet at the same time I think you’ll be satisfied because you’re still getting what we all know and love from Tegan and Sara.