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Loving in Stereo: Album Review

Despite the past year with artists being unable to tour or play live music for quite some time, many have released new music. There were plenty of new albums I was stoked for and enjoyed last year. This year was much of the same when we didn’t know the status of events (but even still, as concerts and festivals returned). Lorde recently released her much anticipated third album. girl in red dropped her debut album in the spring. Then of course there’s still Adele’s new album which I’ve been anticipating for 2 years now. Will we ever get it? Time will tell.

Another album that recently dropped was British indie funk band Jungle’s third album, Loving in Stereo. From the moment Jungle released the first single from the album, “Keep Moving”, back in March, I knew their latest album would be another great one. Loving in Stereo was released on August 13th and it has everything you already loved about Jungle plus more.

The new album brings the same funk focused music of Jungle while bridging the gap into other genres as well. There are certain instances when I don’t like when a band or artist’s sound evolves because it completely strays from their original sound. In this case though, the evolution of Jungle’s sound is perfect. The album crosses into rap, reggae, and indie pop music while still bringing that funk sound that makes Jungle so unique. It also features collabs with rapper Bas and musician Priya Ragu. Much like Jungle’s first two albums, Loving in Stereo will keep you dancing from start to finish with bops like “Keep Moving”, “Talk About It”, “Truth”, and “All of the Time”. If you’re looking for more of that classic Jungle vibey funk sound though, you’ll want to listen to “Lifting You”, “Bonnie Hill”, or “Can’t Stop the Stars”. The album has already been charting on various album lists across the world including Billboard, OCC (UK), and ARIA (Australia) among others.

Jungle will be embarking on a tour across Europe and North America this fall in support of the album. The tour includes several U.S. dates this October. Some of the dates have already sold out. Unfortunately due to work obligations, I won’t be able to catch any of Jungle’s tour dates this fall so I’m hoping they’ll play the festival circuit next year and I’ll get to see them perform once again. This new album is so far an unexpected favorite of 2021 for me and I think the group’s best to date. I’m expecting good things for Jungle in the near future so check out Loving in Stereo as soon as possible.

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.

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.

Coachella Band Preview: Empire of the Sun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Coachella Band Preview: Gryffin

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we’re a little over a month away from Coachella. One month. 30 some days. Can you feel the hype?! The time flies so fast once that lineup drops. That means there’s only a few more band previews left and limited time to listen to all your favorites in preparation for the festival. I’ve wanted to write this preview since January, but I’ve purposely held off so I’d have something to write about as the festival got closer. Out of the group of electronic artists performing at Coachella this year, there were two I was most stoked about. The first was Kungs, who I wrote about back in January (I was too stoked to save Kungs until now). The second is an artist known as Gryffin.

Gryffin, whose real name is Dan Griffith, is an EDM DJ from New York City. He’s also a talented instrumentalist. He started piano lessons at the age of 7 and played through high school, while picking up guitar along the way.  Gryffin attended college at USC and studied electrical engineering, but devoted his free time to making music. His intent was to make music for his friends to play at parties. He never expected to be making it for a career, yet here he is selling out tours and playing Coachella 2017.

Unlike most of the artists I preview, Gryffin has yet to release his first album. He is most known for his remixes and a few chart-making singles. There’s no doubt an album release is in the works for him especially with the original tracks he has dropped over the last year. One of his most well known hits and debut single, “Heading Home” ft. Josef Salvat, was released a little over a year ago. The song hit #1 on the Spotify Viral 50 Chart and also made the list of Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart and Dance/Electronic Digital Songs chart. Last spring, he embarked on his first North American tour and sold out every show. He dropped a second single, “Whole Heart” ft. Bipolar Sunshine, on August 26th, which also hit Billboard’s electronic charts. It sparked another 10 show North American tour this past fall. A week ago, Gryffin released his third single, “Feel Good” with Illenium ft. Daya, and it already has almost 3 million plays on Spotify.

Gryffin classifies his style of electronic music as melodic house because he likes to incorporate piano and guitar into his music. It makes sense given his musical background. That’s the cool thing about his live sets though. It’s a blend between electronic and instrumental performance. Along with DJ-ing at his shows, he plays parts of songs on guitar and piano. It adds new elements to the music that you don’t necessarily get listening to a recording. This is something that takes his live performances to a whole new level in the electronic music genre making his Coachella performance one that you don’t want to miss.

I first heard of Gryffin within the last year and a half or so. I would see his name listed on song remixes, but I never listed to any of them because I typically don’t listen to remixes (except the Matoma remix of “Old Thing Back” because #fave). It’s mostly because I prefer the original version of songs, or the ones I was first exposed to, which I guess is strange when I think about it because I love covers. I think that it’s more so with remixes where you can have a non-electronic song that is electronically enhanced. That’s what I don’t really like since I was never big on electronic music. I guess you can say that’s changed now, but I still prefer original songs. Just this past fall, I heard Gryffin’s original song “Whole Heart” playing in the background of an end of the season highlight reel video for the Washington Spirit of the NWSL. I really liked the song and added it to my Spotify playlists as well as to my iTunes. About a month later, I heard “Heading Home” and added it just the same. Just a few days ago I heard “Feel Good” for the first time and I’ve been so hooked on it all week. I had it stuck in my head yesterday. It’s a great song, and I believe it has a ton of potential to surpass the success of Gryffin’s previous singles.

Gryffin plays Saturday at Coachella. It’s his first Coachella appearance too. I expect he’ll play the Sahara Tent, but I don’t expect his set to be super late. As I said, his performance will be one you don’t wanna skip especially if you’re into electronic music. Even if you’re not, his hybrid live performance style might be something transitional for you. I’d love to catch his set if I had the chance. Gryffin doesn’t have many original tracks you’ll need to prep with, so I’ll include some remixes as well. Here they are:

  1. Heading Home
  2. Whole Heart
  3. Feel Good
  4. Desire (Years & Years) Remix
  5. Animals (Maroon 5) Remix
  6. Youth (Troye Sivan) Remix
  7. Talking Body (Tove Lo) Remix
  8. Clearest Blue (CHVRCHES) Remix
  9. Beggin’ For Thread (BANKS) Remix