art pop

Coachella Band Preview: Maggie Rogers

We’re almost at the 1 month countdown until Coachella 2019 Weekend One. As per the usual, the hype for me is real! Over the last month or so, I periodically secured my travel plans to the point that I’m almost ready to go. I hope everyone else has done the same. Mostly I just hope you all have been focusing on the music. Today I’m previewing an artist I didn’t initially plan to write about when figuring out my previews. About a month ago, I watched this artist cover a Whitney Houston song on Youtube and I was shook.

Maggie Rogers, from Easton, Maryland, got involved in music from a young age. She played the harp, piano, and guitar while growing up in Easton. While in high school, she attended a Berklee College of Music summer program and won the program’s songwriting contest. She recorded her first album as a senior in high school at the ripe age of 18. She self-recorded her it, The Echo, in a broom closet. She released it in digital format back in 2012. Rogers released a second self-recorded digital album Blood Ballet in 2014 as a student at NYU. Her big “claim to fame” happened in 2016 though when she recorded the song “Alaska” for a master class with producer and artist Pharrell Williams. A video of Williams listening to the song went viral in June of 2016.

Rogers released her first EP Now That The Light Is Fading in February 2017. She began her touring career shortly before that and played the Jimmy Fallon Show in anticipation of her EP release. She also played several festivals in the summer of 2017 including stops at Firefly, Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, and Outside Lands. She continued touring and playing festivals into 2018 playing at Boston Calling, Governor’s Ball, Reading and Leeds. She also joined Mumford & Sons as the opening act on their Delta Tour in late 2018.

She recently released her debut studio album Heard It In a Past Life on January 18th, shortly after she was announced as part of the 2019 Coachella lineup. The album features her hit “Alaska” along with other singles “Light On”, “Fallingwater”, and “Give a Little”. I know it’s early but I’d expect Rogers to get a few Grammy nods in the coming year. She’s that good and her style is unique.

Speaking of that, Maggie Rogers style of music combines dance music, folk, R&B and pop. It’s more art pop than anything. She had a background in folk music, but got inspired by dance music during her college days. Her latest studio album definitely adds a more pop sound to her music though, yet it somehow still stays true to her musical roots. Her vocals aren’t overly powerful like you might hear from pop artists like Adele, Florence Welch, or Banks, but yet it’s still so beautiful. Her vocals are trance-like and dreamy similar to that of Lana Del Ray.

I first heard of Maggie Rogers when I saw that she was opening for Mumford & Sons. I worked one of their shows in December and they brought Maggie out to join them in their song “Awake My Soul”. From that performance I knew she had a killer sound but I didn’t really give her music a shot until hearing her cover Whitney Houston’s “I Want To Dance With Somebody”, which she truly made her own. I started listening to her the next day on Spotify and then purchased her studio debut on vinyl right before I left for my second trip to Mexico.

Maggie Rogers plays Saturday at Coachella on her first visit to the 20 year festival. For the second year in a row, Saturday’s lineup seems stacked. After selling out her headlining tour this spring, I’d expect her set to be late-day to evening on the Main or Outdoor Stage. Even as a Coachella debut artist, I expect her set to be packed. Regardless of the time or place, I’d get there early for a good spot. I need to listen to more Maggie Rogers just as much as you might at this point, so here’s what I’ve been listening to on repeat:

  1. Alaska
  2. On + Off
  3. Dog Years
  4. Light On
  5. Give A Little
  6. Fallingwater
  7. Overnight
  8. Burning
  9. The Knife
  10. Retrograde

(Honestly just listen to all of Heard It In a Past Life!)

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First the Window, Then It’s to the Wall

Last week I worked my third Lollapalooza in the box office/ticketing department, but for the first time, I managed my own ticket help. Lolla was where I started working in ticketing 2 years ago so it felt like a full circle moment being able to work Lolla in a higher position. Another full circle moment happened on Saturday night when I was able to see Vampire Weekend. I found out about the band in 2008 way before I was even into the indie rock scene. A friend of mine in my Music 101 class in college told me about them. He was also the first person to tell me about Lollapalooza so being able to say the first time I saw Vampire Weekend was at Lollapalooza is super cool and special to me. All that aside, much like Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend is back from their 5 year hiatus and will be releasing a new album soon!

Vampire Weekend was formed when founding members Ezra Koenig (vocals, guitar), Chris Tomson (drums), Chris Baio (bass, backing vocals), and Rostam Batmanglij (keyboard) were in college at Columbia University. Their name comes from a summer project of Koenig’s inspired by the 1980 film The Lost Boys. With the project, he decided to create basically the Northeastern version of the film. The project also inspired the song “Walcott” as well even though he abandoned it after working on the short film for only a few days. The band started playing shows around 2006 by performing at battle of the bands around Columbia. Then in 2007 they opened for The Shins on their UK tour. They self-produced their self-titled debut album while simultaneously working full time jobs. The album was released on January 29, 2008. It peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart and number 15 on the UK Albums Chart.

Vampire Weekend’s second album Contra was released just short of 2 years later. It debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200. The band also began a large festival circuit in 2010 making stops at Coachella, Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, and Glastonbury. They had played their first Lollapalooza the previous summer. They also toured in support of the album in 2010. Contra was nominated for a Grammy for Best Alternative Album, but did not win.

Their most recent album to date Modern Vampires of the City was released in May 2013 after much talk of its release in 2011 and 2012. Like Contra, it debuted at number 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums Chart making them the first indie rock band to accomplish this feat with two consecutive albums. The album won Vampire Weekend a Grammy for Best Alternative Album in 2014.

In 2016, Rostam Batmanglij announced his leave from Vampire Weekend via Twitter, but also noted that he would still continue to collaborate with Ezra Koenig. Koenig confirmed this by saying the band was working on a new album with help from Batmanglij. At Lollapalooza last week, the band announced that the 4th album was complete after playing a set list of all old hits including the song “A-Punk” three times in a row to open the set (…and I missed it!).

Vampire Weekend is a pretty standard indie rock band. Their sound is a mixture of indie rock, indie pop, baroque pop, afro-pop, and art pop. Most of their hits have an upbeat, joyfulness to their sound. You can’t help but want to dance to their tracks like “A-Punk”, “Unbelievers”, or “Diane Young”.

As I said, I found out about Vampire Weekend 10 years ago. I kept up with them by periodically adding songs to my iTunes as new releases would come out. I never saw them live though, until last week. They were on my “must-see” list for a while. Since seeing them last week, I haven’t been able to stop listening to them. It was like Lollapalooza revitalized Vampire Weekend for me. It did the same thing for me last year with The Killers. I guess that’s another reason why I like Lollapalooza so much.

If you haven’t been listening to Vampire Weekend for the last 10 years or started somewhere in between there, here’s my call for you to listen to them asap. An album release date for their fourth full length has yet to be announced, but it’s coming soon! I’m sure I’ll probably review it once it’s out, but until then there’s tons of jams to help you wait it out. I swear. Like Lil Jon, I always tell the truth.

Glass Animals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melodrama: Album Review

Last Friday Lorde released her highly anticipated second full length album, Melodrama. The announcement of the album came in March shortly after she released the album’s debut single “Green Light”. In the mean time she also released two other singles, “Liability” and “Perfect Places”.

So far the album has been received with high praise and it’s only been out for a week. I was away for a work trip last weekend so I first listened to the album last Thursday night/Friday morning on Spotify. I loved it. I knew I was gonna head out immediately once I got home to purchase it. I bought it Wednesday. It’s a fantastic album. It’s everything you could ever want from Lorde, especially as a follow-up to Pure Heroine. The songs are emotional, catchy, and have that edgy sound Lorde is so well known for.  It takes listeners on an emotional roller coaster from start to finish. It will have you dancing with songs like “Green Light” and “Supercut”, singing to “Perfect Places” and “Homemade Dynamite”, crying while listening to “Liability”, and loving everything else in between.

Lorde created the album with well-known producer/musician, Jack Antonoff. He has production credits on almost every song on the album. I’d be surprised if this album doesn’t earn the Lorde/Antonoff duo a few Grammy nods. I highly recommend purchasing it as soon as possible. Make it one of the soundtracks to your summer. It’s that good so stop reading, go listen, and fall in love with Melodrama.