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(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!

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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

Legendary Venues: Red Rocks Amphitheatre

It’s been over 75 years since Red Rocks Amphitheatre opened in Morrison, Colorado. The venue first opened on June 15, 1941, but had been hosting open-air music performances since the early 1900’s when John Brisben Walker envisioned the geological phenomenon as a place for live music.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is much different than any other music venue in the world because it’s the only naturally-occurring, acoustically perfect outdoor theater ever. What creates this natural perfection are two 300 foot rock structures known as Ship Rock to the south and Creation Rock to the north. The amphitheater sits between these monoliths that date back 160 million years and contain dinosaur fossil fragments from the Jurassic period. Both are bigger than Niagra Falls. There’s also a rock structure behind the stage (east) known as Stage Rock. Besides the incredible rock formation, the amphitheater overlooks downtown Denver, which creates one of the most beautiful, picturesque views offered at a music venue.

The city of Denver purchased Red Rocks from Walker in 1928 and hired Denver architect, Burnham Hoyt to design the area into a music venue while including the preservation of the land’s natural elements as part of the transformation. The construction took 12 years but was well worth the finished product that has since attracted musical acts from all over the world.

The Beatles concert on August 26, 1964 is considered to be one of the first notable rock concert performances in Red Rocks history. Another notable performance was the Jethro Tull concert in 1971 which resulted in a 5 year ban of rock concerts at the venue. Fans without tickets to the event attempted to barge through police lines and throw rocks at officers resulting in the deployment of tear gas to control the riot, which eventually carried into the venue affecting all in attendance.

The unique venue attracts bands across music genres from rock to pop to electronic to jam bands. Many bands have recorded performances at the famous venue as well. It has also been used in film and television. Then, in 2015, it became a national landmark.

I’ve never had the pleasure of going to Red Rocks. I’ve actually never even been in Colorado. After I began traveling around the country for work though, I learned about Red Rocks and it’s been high on my list of venues to see/work at ever since. I’d be beyond honored to work an event in such a place and I’d even be more awestruck by seeing a concert there. I’m not even sure if I can imagine what it’s like to be there. It sounds like such a spectacular venue. I think it’s one of those places you have to experience to understand how special it is even if pictures and descriptions already convince you. It’s one of those places where a picture really doesn’t do it justice. If Red Rocks isn’t the definition of legendary venue, I don’t know what is. It’s legacy has spanned the test of time and it continues to be a favored venue of many bands and artists. It’s definitely a place that concert and music lovers need to experience at least once or even countless times.

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!

Ultralife: Album Review

Another week. Another new album. This time it’s alt-pop duo Oh Wonder. Yesterday they released the follow-up to their debut self-titled album entitled Ultralife. Unlike the year long, monthly song release project that culminated in their first album, the band released a few singles from their sophomore record over the past few months.

After getting into Oh Wonder over the past year and even more-so after Coachella, I was highly anticipating this new album. “Ultralife”, the first single from the album with the same name, which debuted in March, was a fun and instant hit in my book. The new album offers much of what their first album did, which is catchy, melodic alternative pop jams. The album fluctuates from soft, slower tunes like “My Friends”, “Bigger Than Love”, and “All About You” to songs that will make you want to get up and dance like “Ultralife” and “High on Humans”. If I had to name any difference in sound between the first two albums, it’s that I think the first album had more of an R&B feel versus the electronic/digital type of sound heard more prominently in the second album. Even so, I think my opinion might be a bit of a stretch.

I have a feeling that once I purchase this album and listen to it on repeat in my car, I’ll have a few undeniable favorites. “Overgrown” is already taking a commanding lead in that category. I give this album another high purchasing recommendation, especially if you already know and like Oh Wonder. You’ll easily be hooked on Ultralife after listening a few times. In addition to the release of their new album, Oh Wonder will be embarking on a world tour in support of the album. They’ll be in North America beginning in September so it might be worth it to catch them live too. I know I’ll be headed to a show after missing them at Coachella. In the mean time though, pick up a copy of the new album and “live ultralife.”

A R I Z O N A the band, not the state

It’s been two weeks since I last posted, but to be fair I had a show to work and I was sidelined with a sprained ankle (a “sprankle” if you will). I was also out of ideas for new topics. I want to be excited about everything I write here so I didn’t want to just pick something and give you a lackluster effort. The end of last week finally gave me a topic though. I saw that a band I’ve been following for the last year or so released their debut album on May 19th.

A R I Z O N A is an alternative electro-pop band from Glen Rock, New Jersey (no, not Arizona). The band is comprised of members Zach Hannah (vocals), Nathan Esquite (guitar), and David Labuguen (keyboard). The trio all attended college in Boston and initially went their separate ways before reuniting in their home state to form A R I Z O N A. The band’s name stems from a hat Dave was wearing during a random Facetime call with his bandmates.

A R I Z O N A started releasing music on streaming platforms in 2015. They’ve periodically released singles from then on. Their major breakthrough came when German electronic DJ Robin Schulz released a remix of their song “I Was Wrong” last summer. Originally the group thought of releasing an EP first, but then they realized they had enough songs to put out a full length album. Their debut album, Gallery, was released a few days ago. It contains all the music they’ve released so far plus a few new jams. The group is also playing the festival circuit this summer and embarking on their first headlining tour.

Back in November, on the night I saw Tegan and Sara, my friend and I bought tickets to the Hayley Kiyoko show that was happening in another room at the same venue. A R I Z O N A was the opener that night. I didn’t even realize they were the opener until I recognized the second song they played. It was a spontaneously awesome moment of the evening. I first started listening to them the previous winter when I heard the song “Where I Wanna Be” off a twitter recommendation and since that time I followed up with the group any time they released new music.

A R I Z O N A’s music style combines indie/alternative music with electronic music. When I first heard them I was slowly getting into electronic music. I liked an occasional song here and there (Let’s be honest, I still do). “Where I Wanna Be” was one of those songs. During the time I listened to that song frequently, I figured A R I Z O N A was probably the name of some DJ. I don’t think I even fully realized that the group was a band until I saw them perform live. It was good to know that a band like A R I Z O N A existed because most of the time electronic music to me was DJ’s. A R I Z O N A is a band. They have a lead singer (Zach). They have a guitarist (Nate), but they also have someone who plays the keyboard/synth elements of their songs (Dave) that gives their music its electronic feel.

I highly recommend checking these guys out if you’re into indie music, electronic music, or both. Even if you’re not, check this band out anyway because they have a pop element to their music as well. As I mentioned before, you can also catch them this summer. They’re playing a few big festivals (Gov Ball, Firefly, and Lollapalooza) and of course they’re touring all over too. Here’s a few songs that will make you fall for this band as much as I have:

  1. Where I Wanna Be
  2. I Was Wrong
  3. Electric Touch
  4. Cross My Mind
  5. Oceans Away

 

Coachella Band Preview: Oh Wonder

Coachella begins in 2 weeks! I hope you’ve been doing some serious music listening. If you haven’t, I’m disappointed in you. Even if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like to listen to the music before they attend the show, I’m still disappointed in you because, I mean, come on. How can you not prep even just a little?! This is one of the biggest music festivals out there. For those of you who have been prepping, here’s another band you should be listening to.

Oh Wonder is a band who began creating music together in September 2014. The band is from London and comprised of keyboardist/vocalist Josephine Vander Gucht and guitarist/vocalist Anthony West. Oh Wonder’s claim to fame comes from the release of their DIY debut album. Beginning in September 2014, the alt-pop duo began releasing one song per month via SoundCloud for one year. The year culminated in the release of their debut album which also included two unreleased songs.

The band’s song release process attracted the attention of music fans, blogs, and record labels. They eventually signed with Republic Records. Upon the release of their self-titled debut album in September 2015, the band scheduled shows in London, Paris, New York, and Los Angeles, all of which were sold out. The band has toured internationally since that time and also played a handful of North American music festivals last summer. They made stops at Bonnaroo, Firefly, WayHome (Canada), Lollapalooza, and Live Out (Mexico).

Their music is an alternative/indie pop style, but softer and more mellow than other music I would classify as indie pop. Vander Gucht and West also harmonize magnificently on every track. Their vocals create such soothing melodies that are often times catchy as well. Once you get one of their songs in your head, it’s difficult to get it out.

I heard of Oh Wonder from a music recommendation tumblr post last fall. I checked them out a few days after and decided to download one of their songs. It seemed like after listening to them for the first time, more of their music would pop up on random Spotify playlists I would listen to. I also routinely listened to the song I downloaded. It only took a few times of listening before I would sing-a-long with the music. Their music isn’t the kind of indie pop you’d want to hear to get you hyped up for something. It’s the kind that you’d put on during a sunny afternoon drive or road trip.

That being said, don’t expect a fun, upbeat indie pop style set from them at Coachella. They’re not Grouplove or Matt & Kim. Their music is more relaxed and their set will be too. They play Friday and my guess is that their set will be earlier in the day. They’re a perfect band to see at the festival because I doubt their set time will overlap with other must-see acts. Here’s a few songs you should listen to before their Coachella performance:

  1. Drive
  2. Technicolor Beat
  3. Lose It
  4. All We Do
  5. Without You
  6. Livewire

(But truly, if you just check out their debut self-titled album, you should be fine.)

 

Coachella 2017 Lineup Release

Beyoncé, can you handle this? I don’t think you can handle this!

Yes, it’s that time of year again: festival season lineup announcements and in particular…Coachella. The Coachella lineup just dropped yesterday around 1:30 p.m. and I’m stoked (as always)! I heard lineup rumors during the past few weeks and certain predictions had me feeling some kind of jealous. However, upon the announcement yesterday I feel like 2017 still won’t be topping the 2014 lineup (toughest lineup to top ever). 2017 is still pretty epic because the Queen Bey herself, Beyoncé, is headlining. That’s why I felt the need to quote her former group, Destiny’s Child, to start this post. It was fitting, don’t you think? Anyway, this will be a first for the pop superstar, whose sure to draw a massive crowd as the Saturday night headliner. I can’t put all the focus on Bey though since there’s two other headliners. So, without further ado, the Coachella 2017 lineup is as follows:

The Headliners: Radiohead, Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar

Obviously the big story from this is Beyoncé as I already mentioned and again yes this will be her first solo performance at the festival. She made a surprise appearance in 2014 at her sister Solange’s set.

Radiohead is no stranger to the Indio desert. Thom Yorke & company headlined Coachella twice in 2004 and 2012. They’ve even played “Creep” once while headlining there, so it’s obviously a pretty special place (they rarely play “Creep”). After the release of their most recent album, A Moon Shaped Pool, last summer, it seems fitting that the group once again headlines a Coachella festival.

Lastly there’s rapper Kendrick Lamar. He played on the Main Stage in 2012 and came out as a guest during the Dre and Snoop set that year. Kendrick Lamar has been on the rise since 2010-2011. Last year he headlined Goldenvoice’s (same promoter as Coachella) Panorama Festival, also dubbed “East Coast Coachella”, in its first year of existence. He apparently crushed his set there and drew a crowd of epic proportions, which might give you an indication of how he’ll be closing out Coachella this year on Sunday night.

Usually Coachella headliners are primarily alternative, rock, or indie or some form of a combo of those genres. In recent years, there have been rap headliners such as Jay-Z (2010), Kanye West (2011), Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg (2012) or Drake (2015) and last year saw electronic artists take the headlining spot with Calvin Harris and, if you consider them to be indie eletronic-ish, LCD Soundsystem. This year is the first time a major pop/ pop-R&B artist is headlining the festival (Beyoncé). Each night sees a different genre of music as the headliner making Coachella even more appealing to the masses.

The Other Highly Billed Performers: the XX, Travis Scott, Father John Misty, Empire of the Sun, Dillon Francis, Bon Iver, Future, DJ Snake, Martin Garrix, ScHoolboy Q, Gucci Mane, Lorde, Justice, New Order, Porter Robinson & Madeon, Future Islands, Mac Miller, Steve Angello, Glass Animals, Phantogram, Mac DeMarco, Little Dragon, BANKS, the Head and the Heart, Two Door Cinema Club, Nicolas Jaar, Bastille, Tycho, Tory Lanez, Röyksopp, Hans Zimmer, DJ Khaled, Marshmello, Lil Uzi Vert, Galantis, Kehlani, Grouplove, Kaytranada

Out of the the other top acts coming to the festival this year, the ones who stick out most to me (a.k.a. the ones I would see) are the XX, Empire of the Sun, Bon Iver, Lorde, Phantogram, BANKS, and Bastille. That means in weeks to come be on the look out for Coachella Band Previews featuring these bands and artists. Bon Iver, Lorde, Phantogram, BANKS, and Bastille will each be making their second Coachella appearance, while the XX and Empire of the Sun will be performing for the third time. All of these acts have released an album over the past year with the exception of the XX, whose third album comes out next week, and Lorde. Lorde is expected to release a new album this spring so I’m excited to hear her new material.

Other notable acts (for me) from this list are Two Door Cinema Club, Glass Animals, Mac DeMarco, and Grouplove. I would check out these acts if it fit in my schedule for sure, especially Mac DeMarco, who I missed at sweetlife last year, and Grouplove, who is a fun indie pop band that fits the Coachella atmosphere perfectly.

There’s also plenty of top electronic artists who will set the Sahara Stage on fire. Look for Dillon Francis, DJ Snake, Martin Garrix, Justice, Porter Robinson & Madeon, Steve Angello, Nicolas Jaar, Tycho, Röyksopp, DJ Khaled, Marshmello (who is basically the new Deadmau5/Daft Punk with his visual persona), Galantis, and Kaytranada there or even on the main stage. There’s no doubt that Dillon Francis and Martin Garrix should be closing out their respective nights on at the Sahara Tent. It’s bound to be lit.

The most interesting artist of this bunch is German composer Hans Zimmer. This guy is a legendary film composer so to earn a spot at Coachella is out of the ordinary. I’m interested to see what his set will be like. Will there be an orchestra there that he directs? Will it be some sort of DJ set? Will everyone sit out on blankets drinking wine and eating cheese if it is an orchestral set? There’s endless questions for this one. Interesting doesn’t even begin to describe it for me.

Another note from this group is the amount of top rap/hip-hop artists. It actually feels like an overwhelming amount of rap artists at Coachella this year compared to the usual. It might be the year for rap there. Just by the look of the lineup, they’ve booked solid acts with Travis Scott, Future, Mac Miller, and Gucci Mane, and not to mention Kendrick as a headliner.

The Rest: Bonobo, Richie Hawtin, DJ Shadow, Loco Dice, Dixon, Capital Cities, Big Gigantic, Crystal Castles, SOHN, Jagwar Ma, Francis and the Lights, BROODS, Guided By Voices, Preservation Hall, Jazz Band, Sampha, BICEP, Raury, the Martinez Brothers, Oh Wonder, Stormzy, Zipper Club, Tennis, SNBRN, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Kungs, Floorplan, Denzel Curry, the Lemon Twigs, Nora En Pure, Joseph, the Interrupters, Sam Gellaitry, Klangstof, Tacocat, Alison Swing, Local Natives, Majid Jordan, DREAMCAR, Four Tet, Róisín Murphy, Moderat, the Avalanches, Mura Masa, Nav, Solomun, Warpaint, Banks & Steelz, Hot Since 82, Classixx, Kaleo, Breakbot, GRYFFIN, Car Seat Headrest, Daphni, Brodinski, Mitski, Floating Points, Thundercat, SURVIVE, Arkells, the Atomics, Ben UFO, Bishop Briggs, Blossoms, Chicano Batman, Autograf, Moss Kena, Red Axes, Shura, Honey Dijon, Declan McKenna, Eli & Fur, Swet Shop Boys, Chris Cruse, Tale of Us, Toots and the Maytals, Devendra Banhart, Tove Lo, Jai Wolf, Jack Garratt, Sasha, Kiiara, Real Estate, the Belleville Three, Maya Jane Coles, What So Not, PNL, Lee Fields & the Espressions, NAO, GoldLink, Allah-Las, King Sunny Adé, Marcel Dettmann, SOFI TUKKER, Whitney, Patrick Topping, HONNE, Twin Peaks, Tourist, Preoccupations, Hinds, Ezra Furman, Pond, Hannah Wants, Anna Lunoe, Grace Mitchell, Los Blenders, Show Me the Body, Caveman, Jen Ferrer

A lot of these bands and artists are playing Coachella for the first time. Some of them are new to their respective music scenes and some may only get bigger from here. Take this year’s headliner Kendrick Lamar for instance. When he played in 2012, his name was listed on the last line of Friday’s acts. Not all of these bands may make it as a headliner, but you may see some of them in the coming years selling out shows and playing festivals as a top-act.

If I were attending, I would definitely want to see BROODS, Oh Wonder, Kungs, Local Natives, GRYFFIN, and Tove Lo. I missed Local Natives in favor of Halsey at Lollapalooza, but caught the tail end of their set. They’re a great indie alternative band who I’d love to see live, or at least all of their set live. BROODS is a brother-sister music duo who just came on to the music scene in the past few years. I’ve liked everything I’ve heard by them so far. If I had the chance, I would definitely listen to them more and see them at the festival if I had the chance. I’ve also just started to get into Oh Wonder and seeing their name on the Coachella lineup makes me want to listen to more of their stuff and check them out live. I doubt these guys will be climbing the festival lineups soon but they put out some great tunes.

I’m also not sure why Tove Lo isn’t listed higher on the festival lineup. I’m sure she’ll be playing on the Outdoor Stage or the Main Stage though because she’s already selling out smaller venues. Her appeal kind of reminds me of Ellie Goulding and I’m guessing in the coming years she’ll be making her way to the top just as Ellie’s done.

Out of the few electronic artists I like, GRYFFIN is one I would love to check out at Coachella. If you read my Music Saved 2016 post from last week, you’d know I had a GRYFFIN song on the list. He’s also got a song called “Heading Home” that I’m a fan of too. Another electronic artist that you should see/pay attention to is Kungs. This kid, because yeah he’s only 20 years old, came on to the electronic scene huge with his hit “This Girl” feat. Cookin’ on 3 Burners (another song listed on said Music saved 2016 blog post). I actually just listened to some of his other stuff about 2 days ago. I liked what I heard. He released his debut album on November 4th and I’m sure you’ll hear more from him in the future. Like I said pay attention to him and see him now if you have the chance.

Some other bands worth checking out are electronic duo HONNE, rock group Arkells, and indie band Twin Peaks. You may even want to check out solo artist Jack Garratt, who reminds me of combo between Bon Iver and the Weeknd, and indie/alternative rock artist Declan McKenna, who won Glastonbury Festival’s emerging talent competition in 2015.

To those of you scored tickets and are heading to Indio this spring, have the best time of your lives. Coachella is an incredible experience filled with music that spans across genres so there really is something for everyone to see. At this current moment, I’m not officially going to Coachella as a festival attendee, but there is a possibility that I could work there. I’m not getting my hopes up yet though because I could very well be spending this year watching from my computer again. As such, I’ll be previewing bands playing the festival this year as I’ve done the last two years and writing as if I were going like I did last year in 2016 (because I did go in 2015, which started all this preview hype to begin with). So stay tuned for all the previews because festival season is almost here!