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Best of Music in 2019

Here it is…the final post of 2019. These are some of my favorite songs, artists, and albums of the past year. I chose whatever one meant the most to be featured on this list. I picked 10 plus a few honorable mentions, half of which are two of my favorite guilty pleasures of this year. The list goes as follows:

“Back in My Body” -Maggie Rogers

I wrote last week about how Maggie’s debut album was one of the best of the decade. It is straight fire don’t get me wrong, but this song in particular meant the most to me this year. Last winter into spring, I listened to Maggie Rogers in preparation for Coachella. I bought the album on vinyl and listened to it through a couple times. I remember liking several songs on the record and this was included. It wasn’t until I was actually out at Coachella that I fell in love with this jam. Sometime during Weekend One I was driving around listening to Maggie and this song just hit me. I remember thinking, “Wow this is a great song!” and then I played it on repeat while I drove around Indio for the next two weeks.

I saw Maggie Rogers perform during Weekend 2 and recorded part of the song. It was my song of Coachella 2019. I don’t think anyone I worked with really knew about it, nor did I listen to it with anyone. It was just for me. It was the song I listened to driving to and from site by myself or to and from the Renaissance Hotel or to Zach’s house or on any errands I ran. I listened to it the day I left Indio and for days and weeks after I got home. Coachella 2019 was special for so many reasons and this song will always remind me of the festival, my friends, and the great times I had in the desert this past spring.

“Pizza Guy” -Touch Sensitive

Coincidently this is another song that I discovered in Indio thanks to my buddy Noah. For weeks leading up to Coachella, we discussed having a huge BBQ at our house between weekends. I bought a ton of food, we invited everyone we talked to, and Noah made a banging playlist for the BBQ. We had the BBQ and definitely didn’t have as many people as we thought show up. I also don’t think we ended up listening to the playlist much at all.

The next day though Noah, our other friend Ashley, and I ventured around the Coachella Valley to check out the biennial Desert X art exhibit. We ended up using the BBQ playlist as a soundtrack to our day. I remember hearing this song for the first time as I drove Noah and Ashley from one location to another as they smoked weed and drank road sodas in the back of my rental (yeah we’re dingy..it’s fine). I also remember checking out the name and artist of the song cause I really dug the vibe. It’s a song that doesn’t have lyrics, but it was chill and perfect for our day or any BBQ. I continued to listen to it after that day and in the weeks and months that followed Coachella. Much like “Back in My Body” it also reminds me of being at Coachella, but it also just gives me some major Cali vibes and will also always be synonymous with the great time I had out west this past spring.

Lizzo

Little did I know that when Lizzo’s name was on the Coachella lineup when it dropped on January 2nd that she would have such a huge influence on my year. She also had a huge impact in the music world in general. 2019 was really the year of Lizzo.

At the beginning of the year I had just started to get into her song “Good As Hell”. I used to start my day each morning by asking my Echo Dot to play it. Then I added “Juice” to my work out playlist. I listened to a few songs more songs here and there in preparation for Coachella too, but nothing really stuck out like those two. I saw Lizzo perform both weekends of Coachella. Each set was slammed. After her Weekend 1 set, I took a liking to “Boys”. I was into that for a while. Then as we all know “Truth Hurts” blew up. Recently I’ve been listening to “Water Me”. I also just bought my mom the Super Deluxe version of her debut album Cuz I Love You for Christmas so I’m sure the Lizzo train will continue into 2020.

The point is Lizzo was every where, all year, at all different points of the year for me. I saw her perform again at ACL in October. If I thought her Coachella set was crowded, I had no idea what was coming. There had to be about 40,000 people there each weekend. It was incredible. The great thing about Lizzo is that it’s not just her music that’s great, it’s her whole vibe. She always gives 110% at each performance and promotes hard work and positivity and it’s great to have an artist making music representative of that.

Without Fear -Dermot Kennedy

Besides Maggie Rogers’ Heard It in A Past Life, Dermot Kennedy’s debut album Without Fear has been one of my favorite’s this year. It’s been in my car CD player since October and I’m still listening to it when I’m not listening to my “Most Recently Added Playlist” on my iPod. I was introduced to Dermot Kennedy at Coachella this past year and began listening to his music afterwards. When a co-worker and I began discussing him at work one day in the summer, we decided we should see him play in October when he came to Philly. She was able to get us comp tickets for it too.

I bought his album in anticipation of the show and I really can’t get enough of it. I think he’s incredibly talented and his songs are some of the best lyrically that I’ve heard in a while, which is rare these days. For someone who grew up listening to punk/emo/alternative music, lyrics were huge for me. Lately music has been more of the sound and feel than lyrics for me. Dermot Kennedy has both. In recent years, I don’t think I’ve loved a line in a song as much as I love “see I’m in love with how your soul’s a mix of chaos and art,” from “Outnumbered”. I’m so hyped on Dermot Kennedy that I’m trying to plan to see him again in February, so I guess he’s headed into 2020 with me as well.

Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend’s new album, Father of the Bride, was definitely the music that I was most excited for heading into this year. When they announced their tour dates, I was online the day of the pre-sale buying tickets for an early September Philly date. I was able to secure great seats too. I spent a lot of the year listening to Vampire Weekend in anticipation of that show, including their new record. It wasn’t one of my favorites, but there were a few songs that I really enjoyed like “Harmony Hall” and “This Life”.  Thankfully at the show, they played plenty of old and new music. I think my favorite part was when they played “Walcott” on request. It was a fun night and one I looked forward to since I saw them play at Lollapalooza last summer. You can ask Lil’ Jon cause he always tells the truth, but I’m so glad the Ivy League boys made a comeback this year.

Client Liaison

Almost exactly a year ago I was introduced to Client Liaison. I was playing Yam Slam at my same buddy Noah’s house with him and his friend Lou. He turned on some music to play in the background and the song “Feed the Rhythm” came on. I thought it was great so I asked him who it was and both him and Lou began telling me about Client Liaison. “Feed the Rhythm” was one of my go-to jams to start the year and so were plenty of other Client Liaison songs. I continued listening to them throughout the year though too. They dropped a few new singles over the past couple months like “The Real Thing”, “The Beat Supreme”, and “Champagne Affection”. One thing Noah explained to me when he told me about them was that they never tour in the United States (they’re from Australia). I’m hoping next year and a new album (with all these recent singles it seems like it could be possible?!) changes that.

“Heart” -Rainbow Kitten Surprise

When I got back from my first trip to work festivals in Mexico I worked VIP for Rainbow Kitten Surprise at one of my favorite venues. I didn’t know much about the band at the time. It’s rare that everyone checks-in for VIP but when it happens I’m usually done with work earlier than expected and sometimes I even get to catch the VIP experience if there is one. It happened that night and I was able to watch some of Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s acoustic VIP set. They played the song “Heart”. I didn’t know what song it was at the time. It was catchy though and I liked it. I remember looking at their Spotify for the song in the days that followed and I couldn’t find it. I searched on the internet just by typing in a few lyrics I remembered and I stumbled upon a Youtube video of a member of the band playing the song on guitar. The song was sort of unreleased? A few months later the band released Mary (B-sides) which contained two songs. One of them was “Heart”. I began listening to the song whenever I wanted then. I downloaded it and added it to my summer work out playlist. When it comes on these days, I still love it. I’ll occasionally replay it too. It’s a great song and was a great introduction to Rainbow Kitten Surprise. I’ve since listened to a few of their other songs and I’ve definitely become a fan.

RÜFÜS DU SOL

For most of the year, I also anticipated seeing a full RÜFÜS DU SOL set. After only seeing part of their set at Electric Forest in 2018 and realizing how good they are, I decided to make it my mission to see a whole RÜFÜS DU SOL show. I bought tickets to see them play in August while I was in Mexico in January. They were also on the Coachella lineup so I figured I was definitely seeing them this year. I did see them. Twice. Leading up to both sets, I began listening to their entire discography. I got into plenty of RÜFÜS DU SOL songs including “Sundream”, “Tonight”, “Hypnotised”, “Say A Prayer”, and “Brighter” in addition to their new record and a few of their other songs that I already knew. Both sets were fantastic and at Coachella it felt like their song “No Place” was a theme because there really is “no place I’d rather be.”

“Catchy Song” -Dillon Francis (ft. T-Pain, That Girl Lay Lay)

This past year the second installment of the Lego movie came out in February. Haters gonna hate but I loved the first one. I saw the second one in early March after I returned home from my second stint in Mexico. The first movie had the original song “Everything is Awesome” by Tegan and Sara. The second movie’s music hit was “Catchy Song”, an electronic song by Dillon Francis featuring T-Pain and That Girl Lay Lay. The title doesn’t lie either. The song is super catchy. It’s also about how the song is so catchy, which I thought was pretty funny. It’s honestly a great song to work out to. I put it on my work out playlist of the time and also enjoyed listening to it too. I introduced my young cousin Hudson to the song since he enjoyed “Everything is Awesome” and sure enough he really liked “Catchy Song”. For most of March and even into April I couldn’t stop listening to the song. I still love listening to it any time I get to it on my iPod or anywhere else. It really is such a catchy song.

Hey I’m Just Like You -Tegan and Sara

In late July, Tegan and Sara announced a tour and new album as well as their memoir. The album, Hey I’m Just Like You, was released about 2 months later along with the book. It was comprised of songs the girls had written while in high school, but were re-recorded. They also may have adjusted the songs slightly but promised that each song stayed true to its original sound and meaning. I know many people who weren’t huge fans of the album or people who told me I wouldn’t be. I really liked it though!

I listened to it for a while once I bought it and even went to a show on their tour. It was such a unique concert experience that included the twins reading excerpts from their memoir while also playing music from the album and other songs they’ve written too. It felt like the Tegan and Sara musical, but way more cool than any musical would be. I’m so glad I was able to attend and really glad I got into the album because it was one of my favorite albums of this past year.

Honorable Mentions:

“Sucker” -Jonas Brothers (Guilty pleasure, sorry not sorry)

“thank u, next” -Ariana Grande (Another guilty pleasure, can’t even help it)

“Nervous Energy” -Glades (upbeat electronic track)

“Love You For A Long Time” -Maggie Rogers (late 2019 banger that didn’t make it on Heard It In A Past Life)

So there it is, the music world of 2019 for me. After a rough year personally for me in 2018, this past year, thanks to my travels and friends, helped me re-focus. In the end it gave me some really special experiences that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It also gave me a bunch of new career experiences that have helped me grow in the music industry. Since I started working in the music industry, I’ve gained more and more experience each year. This past year was no different. I went to Mexico, managed box offices and ticket helps, worked two festivals that were on my festival bucket list since I started (Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits), and even accepted a different role at Coachella that lead to the best year I had there yet. I’ve always set small goals for myself and ultimately achieved many of them. A lot of times, I felt good about making those goals happen. For the first time since I’ve started, I feel like 2020 might take me back to square one on a few things. It feels like it might be more of a challenge to try to achieve my new goals. I’m determined though so hopefully this year brings me even more experience.

As for music, I have hopes for a lot this year. I’m hoping Foster the People drops a new album and tours again. After releasing 4 new songs over the last 13 months, they have to have a new record and touring plans in the works right? I hope so at least.

Adele has also been rumored to have new music on the way. The rumors suggested we’d have a new song and album from her by the end of the year, but that didn’t happen so I’m hoping we get some new tunes from her soon.

Oh Wonder will be releasing a new album this year and heading out on tour. Based on my schedule there’s a good chance I won’t be able to catch any of their spring tour, but I’m excited for more new music to add to the singles they’ve already released over the last few months.

Glass Animals seem to be active again as well. After taking some time off and cancelling shows when their drummer was injured in a cycling accident, Glass Animals have started booking some festivals in 2020. It makes me think they’ll be releasing some new music too. I got into them too late in 2017 and I’m looking to redeem myself with new tour dates and a new album.

There’s Haim has been working and releasing new music so maybe we’ll even get a new Haim record too.

I’ve heard rumors about new Arctic Monkeys, which would be very exciting to have new music from them so soon after a 5 year gap in albums. Flume started touring again and releasing new music. The Strokes are back and set for a major tour. Also while writing my Top Albums of the Decade post, I started thinking, where has Lorde been?! She was quiet all of this past year. I would love to have some new Lorde! I would also love some new LCD Soundsystem! These are some big dreams but I can definitely hope.

One thing is for certain, the Coachella lineup will be dropping over the next few days, which means the hype is back, the previews are back, and we’re only a few months away from the yearly descent upon the Indio desert! Here’s to hoping 2020 brings the same kind of BIG MOODs, good vibes, and sick times that 2019 provided. Actually here’s to hoping it’s even better!

 

 

 

Coacheligible

2019 is almost over. The festival season is surely winding down as well. I consider Austin City Limits as the last major festival of the year even though there’s still several smaller festivals in the weeks following ACL until the holidays. With the end of the year approaching, there’s only 2 months until announcements for the 2020 festival season begin (some like Okeechobee and Stagecoach already have), particularly like Coachella, the first major music festival of the year.

For the last 5 years, I’ve previewed Coachella consistently. As you might have already figured out, and if you didn’t already know, Coachella is my favorite music festival. It’s one of the reasons why I work in music. With that being said, I spent a good portion of last night talking with a coworker friend about potential Coachella 2020 artists. We discussed artists and bands who have dropped or have upcoming new music, who haven’t played Coachella in a while, and who we’d love to see at the festival next year. Playing major music festivals like Coachella also comes with one more component for bands and artists: the radius clause.

Based on some internet finds, what we know about Coachella’s radius clause is that between December 15th prior to Coachella until May 1st after Coachella acts cannot play any festival in North America and cannot play any “hard ticket” concerts in Southern California. In addition, they’re also not allowed to publicize any tour stops in California, Arizona, Oregon, or Washington until after the Coachella lineup is announced, publicize any performances at competing festivals in California, its bordering states, and Washington, or a headlining concert in Southern California, until May 8, or publicize any performances at competing festivals in the remainder of the United States again until the Coachella lineup is announced. Exceptions to this are the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, South by Southwest, and Ultra Music Festival as well as appearances at Las Vegas casinos, or tour stops in other parts of Nevada minus any Las Vegas festival appearances.

Coachella isn’t the only music festival that imposes these clauses. Most music festivals have some type of radius clause which includes major contenders like Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and South by Southwest to name a few. However, Coachella’s clauses are notable as they made news for the 2018 lawsuit imposed by a smaller music festival called Soul’d Out in Oregon. The lawsuit has since been dismissed.

The radius clause was another thing we considered last night when discussing possible Coachella performers. I’m even realizing today the clause throws out Vampire Weekend as one of my Coachella hopefuls since they’re headlining Okeechobee in March. That is unless they negotiated around the clause. This is always a possibility for performers. Sometimes smaller acts get around the clause because it would hurt them financially to not play shows, but other times it’s not always smaller acts. In 2018, top-billed Coachella artist SZA headlined Buku, but her team most likely negotiated and she was given permission to do so. More often than not though, bands and artists abide by the rules. Adding Coachella to your resume is a big deal. It’s one of the most well-known, popular, largest, and most talked about music festivals in the United States, if not the world so playing the festival is always a special accomplishment no matter how many times you do it. The same goes for working and attending the festival!

In the coming weeks I’m sure headliner rumors will start popping up and there will be more speculation over who will play in Indio this spring. Regardless of the lineup, which since 2014 hasn’t entirely impressed me, I’ll be stoked and on high alert for a twitter notification with a new lineup poster come January 2nd. Coachella will always be special for me no matter who plays, but there’s no shame in getting excited for possibility!

 

 

Coachella Band Preview: Tash Sultana

Because I forgot to post last week’s blog after I wrote it and instead posted it this week, you’re getting two band previews this week! We’re almost near the end of January. We’re still a while away from Weekend 1, but I can feel it looming. Can’t you?! Since I already gave you plenty of Kygo to listen to this week, I thought I’d preview an artist who has a little less music to listen to. What she does have out is pretty awesome and original.

Natasha “Tash” Sultana is an Australian musician/singer/songwriter who grew up in Melbourne. She took to music at the age of three when she received a guitar from her grandfather. Now at age 22, she can play over 10 instruments. 2016 was her breakthrough year, but until then Tash struggled to find regular work and used street performing as her way to get by. She was however the lead vocalist of the band Mindpilot from 2008 through 2012.

She started receiving attention in 2016 through social media and the internet. She also released her first EP, Notion on September 16th independently through her own label Lonely Lands Records. The EP peaked at number 4 on ARIA Australian Albums Chart. It included two songs that were voted to Australia’s Triple J Hottest 100, “Jungle” (#3) and “Notion” (#32). She also embarked on a world tour in support of Notion.

In 2017, Tash continued to tour and also announced that her debut album would be released in the spring of 2018. She released the singles “Murder to the Mind” in April and “Mystik” in October along with being nominated for 4 ARIA Awards (Breakthrough Artist, Best Independent Release (Notion), Best Blues and Roots Album (Notion), and Best Australian Live Act).

Her rock music style features elements of reggae and psychedelic music. Her style can also be classified as indie rock. Each of her tracks have a different sound and her vocals are mesmerizing. It’s the kind of music you can just chill to. I love it because the sound meshed with her vocals is unique to my usual listening tastes.

I first found out about her in early October after my friend worked at All Things Go Fall Classic in Washington, DC. A patron at the festival told her about Tash Sultana so she checked out Tash and told me about her as well. Then I checked her out and enjoyed what I heard. My friend then saw her perform a week later at Austin City Limits. I wasn’t so fortunate. She is relatively new to the music scene and is just starting to get some attention in America. She recently performed on Late Night with Seth Meyers in October. That makes me think I’ll have plenty of time to get to see her live, especially if I get to be a part of Coachella this year and can catch her set.

She plays Saturday at Coachella. In my opinion Saturday’s lineup is stacked. I would expect to see Tash play an earlier set on Saturday. You never know though. She might end up with a mid-afternoon spot at the Gobi or Mojave Tent. If you have a chance, I would check her out though. She’s under that “up and coming” title for the festival this year. She’s also got a debut album coming out soon. Here’s what you can check out by her so far though:

  1. Jungle
  2. Mystik
  3. Notion
  4. Gemini
  5. Synergy
  6. Murder to Mind
  7. Big Smoke (Pts. 1 & 2)

25 Years of Lollapalooza

For the last two years since this blog’s inception, Coachella has been a primary subject from January through April. It started because I attended Coachella last year and I had an overwhelming excitement for my trip to Indio that I wanted to preview all of my favorite bands who were playing the festival. I decided to preview bands again this year because of the solid response to last year’s posts. Coachella has become this blog’s sole music festival focus. It’s also one of the most popular and well-known festivals in the world, but especially in the U.S. The United States has plenty of other big, well-known festivals as well. One of those festivals is coming up this weekend and is celebrating its 25th year. It’s called Lollapalooza and its home base is at Grant Park in Chicago, IL. I’m lucky enough to be working at the festival this weekend and I’m excited to also be able to experience all that Lolla has to offer.

The first Lollapalooza happened in 1991. It began as a touring festival created by Perry Farrell who came up with it as a farewell tour of sorts for his band, Jane’s Addiction. The festival grew in the 90’s as an alternative rock, grunge festival, which were two popular music genres during that decade.The festival toured from 1991-1997 but ceased to exist in 1998 as the tour failed to find a headliner. The decline of alternative rock is also credited for the festival’s cancellation that year.

In 2003, Jane’s Addiction got back together. Farrell decided to revive the tour. It planned to go through 30 cities in July and August that year, but ultimately had to cancel some dates due to poor ticket sales. The tour again was planned for 2004 but low ticket sales due to high ticket prices caused its cancellation. In 2005, Farrell teamed with Capital Sports & Entertainment (now known as C3 Presents) to produce the festival. It was that year that Lollapalooza became a destination festival in Grant Park. Lollapalooza 2005 spanned over two days and featured 70 acts on 5 different stages which generated a crowd of 65,000+. After returning to much success in 2006, Chicago Park District and Capital Sports & Entertainment signed a 5 year deal that would keep Lollapalooza in Chicago through 2011. After the 2008 festival, the parties again agreed on another deal that would keep the festival in Chicago through 2018. This year’s festival will be the first time that the event spans over 4 days. The 4th day was added in celebration of the festival’s 25th anniversary this year.

Since 2011, the festival has expanded beyond Grant Park to countries in South America. Lollapalooza festivals started up in Chile, Brazil, and Argentina in recent years. Last year the festival even made its way to Europe with an appearance in Berlin, Germany. Many up and coming artists have graced a stage at Lollapalooza before their popularity increased such as The Black Keys, Passion Pit, Manchester Orchestra, Haim, Foals, Frank Ocean, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Fun., Tame Impala, and MGMT. As one of the most well known festivals in America in recent years, along with Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza has consistently attracted solid lineups and high-billed performers. This year’s headliners include Lana Del Rey, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and LCD Soundsystem. While not the most incredible set of headliners Grant Park has ever seen (but to each their own of course!), this year’s performances will surely be memorable since each headliner knows how to put on an incredible show.

When it comes to my history with the festival, it actually goes further back than Coachella. Lollapalooza was one of the first music festivals I had ever heard of. During the 2nd semester of my freshman year of college in a Music 101 class, one of my friends mentioned the festival. He was also the first to introduce me to the band Vampire Weekend, who played the festival a year earlier. I remember him saying that he would love to attend Lollapalooza that following summer. Up until then, all I knew of festivals were the Vans Warped Tour and the now non-existent, Bamboozle, so later that day I looked up Lollapalooza to find out who was playing and what kind of festival it was. At that time in my life, I didn’t know many of the bands playing. Now I can look back at the 2008 lineup and shake my head over what I didn’t know in the spring of 2008.

Since my love for indie/alternative music grew in 2011, I’ve always considered Lollapalooza as a prominent music festival in the United States, making the opportunity to be a part of this year’s festival that much greater. The festival weekend begins in 2 days and I head to Chicago in less than 24 hours. I can’t wait to experience this festival and see what Chicago has to offer. Hopefully this 25th anniversary will be legendary!