british bands

T-Shirt Weather

I had every intention of writing a new Coachella Band Preview for today, but I discovered a new band last night that I needed to share first. It’s almost like a “Breaking News” moment. I may have mentioned this before, but every week Spotify puts out a new Discover Weekly Playlist (duh…Discover Weekly!). I subscribed to the playlist a while ago and found a bunch of new tunes because of it. Yesterday, as I was listening to the new playlist, I saw a song that caught my eye. The title was “T-Shirt Weather”, which made me chuckle a bit considering my deep love for the song “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood (my blog post from the fall so you can see how deep my love runs). I said to myself “What is this? The new “Sweater Weather”?.” I was eager to check it out. Lo and behold, it’s a great song. It’s so great that I have now officially deemed it the new “Sweater Weather”. The song style is much different than the 2013 hit by The Neighbourhood though and it’s by a relatively new band called Circa Waves.

Circa Waves is a British indie rock band formed in 2013. The group hails from Liverpool and consists of vocalist and guitarist, Kieran Shudall, bassist, Sam Rourke, drummer, Colin Jones, and guitarist, Joe Falconer. Shudall and Rourke actually met at a music festival in 2013 and it resulted in the formation of the band. The band’s first single “Good For Me/Get Away” was released in December 2013. Their first EP, Young Chasers EP, was released in June the following year. They played festivals throughout Europe and toured through 2014. Young Chasers, their debut album (Yep, same name as the EP), was released in March 2015. The release happened around their performance at SXSW and a U.S. tour in the fall of 2015 followed. They played U.S. dates with Foals and Ms Mr as well as with The 1975 in the UK.

My first impression of the band was that they are a perfect example of indie rock. In fact the band could be a great transition for someone who likes punk rock or pop-punk and wants to get into indie music. While researching these guys, I read that they’ve been compared to The Strokes. In my opinion, that comparison is spot on. Their music style is much like American indie rockers, The Strokes. They also remind me of The Kooks at times as well. So if you’re a fan of either of those two bands, I guarantee you’ll love these guys.

This year the group has already booked dates at Governor’s Ball and Firefly. If you plan on attending either of those two festivals, I suggest you check out Circa Waves. Their music is both upbeat and fun, which will make for a great set in the the summer sun (hopefully it’s sun at least!). You’ll probably hear a few of these songs:

  1. T-Shirt Weather
  2. Stuck In My Teeth
  3. Best Years
  4. Good For Me/Get Away
  5. Fossils

The 1975

It’s astounding how many great bands/singers/music artists are from the UK. It often seems like most of the bands I blog about are from there. Even many legendary groups throughout history, like The Beatles, The Who, Queen, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin, are British. So therefore, it wouldn’t surprise you that the band I’m writing about this week also hails from the UK.

The 1975 formed in Manchester, England in 2002 when members Matt Healy, Ross MacDonald, Adam Hann, and George Daniel started playing cover shows together in local clubs as teenagers. It wasn’t until August 2012 when the group released their first EP, Facedown. The band got national radio attention with their single “The City” from the EP as well as with the song “Sex” which came from their second EP of the same title (Sex) a few months later (November 2012). In March 2013, the band released their third EP, Music for Cars. “Chocolate”, a single off the EP, reached the 19th spot on the UK singles chart. The same year the band began touring to build hype for their debut album. They joined The Neighbourhood on their 2013 U.S. tour, opened for Muse and The Rolling Stones, and played at the Reading and Leeds Festivals.

Their debut self-titled album came out on September 2, 2013. The 1975 spent the rest of 2013 and 2014 touring to promote the album and selling out many shows throughout Europe, North America, New Zealand, and Australia. The band plans to release their second album, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It, in February 2016. Today, they announced a North American Tour in support of the new album from April to May 2016 in select cities across the United States and Canada. Their first single off the album, “Love Me”, was released in October.

The band’s music fits into the alternative/indie pop/rock genre. At times I even feel like their sound has some 80’s pop/rock style influence, especially when I heard “Love Me” for the first time. Then there’s other times where I get this R&B feel from their music. Honestly, they no doubt fit right in with The Neighbourhood on tour in 2013. It was baby-making music for the ages. Overall though, the band has their own unique indie pop/rock sound.

I was slightly late to the party when I discovered The 1975 in April 2014. I’m not even sure how I first heard of them, but I know I listened to them for a few months before I realized their song “Chocolate” had airplay on the local alternative radio station. In a much cooler world, where I would be able to attend any live music events that I want, regardless of price, location, availability, etc., I would be attending their show either in New York City tomorrow or in Philadelphia on Saturday. I probably would have already seen them live too, if I didn’t already have plans when they played at a nearby venue at this time last year. Although I potentially would have seen them live this weekend if either show wasn’t already sold out (or if I didn’t have to pay over $100 for tickets that were originally $40), I figured why not write about this band anyway. The 1975’s success over the last few years has only escalated and it continues to grow as well.  They’re bound to enter British music history like so many before them. If you’ve never heard of these guys, you may want to check out these song recommendations or if you’re headed to an upcoming show, unlike me, you may want to re-listen to some of these song recommendations to hype you up (or if you just want some hype for the new album):

  1. Sex
  2. Chocolate
  3. Love Me
  4. The City
  5. Girls
  6. Robbers
  7. Heart Out
  8. Settle Down

Triangles are my favorite shape: alt-J Concert Review

On Friday, I was able to attend a show on alt-J’s Fall 2015 North American Tour. I saw alt-J for the first time at Coachella this past year. I wrote about them leading up to the yearly event in the southern California desert so I won’t re-hash about the group or how they got their name from a Mac keyboard command. Instead, I’ll just let you know that my second time seeing them was just as good, if not better than the first.

After seeing them at Coachella (it was one of my top 3 favorite sets) and seeing how cheap tickets were for their date in Philadelphia last Friday, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see them again. I bought tickets for myself and my two favorite kids as a gift for their graduation this past June. However, about a month and a half before the show, my friend informed me that the date of the show coincided with the Pope’s visit to the Philly with 2 million people expected to be on hand for the event. How awesome, right? Now on top of dealing with traffic and people in a normally busy city on a Friday we also had to handle extra of both because of the Papal visit. Surprisingly though, it wasn’t as big of an issue as I initially expected, and we had a phenomenal day in the city leading up to the show.

The show was at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing. The venue’s location is right on the Delaware River. As we were walking to the pier, it reminded me of being at the beach to see a concert. The fact that sand surrounded the platform which housed an area for the general admission crowd to stand added to that effect. Add in that it was a cool, breezy September day/night and I felt like I was on a beach on the west coast rather than in a city on the east coast. It was ideal for me. We didn’t have any food at the venue as our stomachs were full from the Shake Shack burgers and fries we had earlier that evening, but I did make a purchase of a Blackberry Lemonade flavored Mike’s Hard. It was way too expensive at $15, but for alcohol at shows/concerts, that’s the price you pay.

San Fermin opened for the boys from Leeds, UK. They’re an American pop band with classical roots formed by Ellis Ludwig-Leone, a Yale University graduate who studied composition during his time there. Having released their sophomore album this past April, the eight piece ensemble played songs like “Parasites”, “Sonsick”, and “Jackrabbit” to get the crowd going before the headliners took the stage. I found their music catchy. They seemed like a band I would listen to on occasion but not fall entirely in love with. By the end of the set, I was just itching for alt-J to play.

alt-J opened with the “Intro” from their latest album, This Is All Yours, (how appropriate) and went straight into “Every Other Freckle” much to the delight of concert attendees. As a headliner on their own tour versus an act at an acclaimed music festival, their set was predictably longer. It featured songs from both full length albums like “Something Good”, “Dissolve Me”, “Matilda”, “Tessellate”, and “Fitzpleasure” from their 2012 debut An Awesome Wave and “Left Hand Free”, “The Gospel of John Hurt”, “Nara”, and “Leaving Nara” from This Is All Yours. They even played the bonus track Bill Withers cover “Lovely Day”. Perhaps one of the coolest transitions in their set was when they performed “Bloodflood” followed by “Bloodflood Pt. 2”. There weren’t many breaks between songs to chat with the crowd, which I liked. To be honest, I do like when bands talk in between songs, but I can also appreciate what alt-J did Friday night. There’s more time for music and there’s nothing wrong with that. The lighting and screens with digital imagery used in their set really captured the essence of their songs as well. This might be overlooked at a show when you’re focused on hearing your favorite songs, but it shouldn’t be. It gave their great performance a little something extra.

After “ending” their set with “Fitzpleasure”, which we all knew wasn’t really the end, the band came back out to perform a four song encore that started with “Hunger on the Pine”, followed by “Warm Foothills” and “Taro”, and closed with “Breezeblocks”. It was a perfect encore. The show left fans feeling fulfilled including me and my friends. It reaffirmed my choice to see them again and was great day/night all around. If you’re a fan, they’re worth seeing live, but even if triangles aren’t your favorite shape, they’re still worth it.

(Since this is the end of my post and I usually recommend some songs, but I’ve written about alt-J before and included song recommendations, I’ll just say to listen to any of the songs mentioned in this post and link you to my alt-J Coachella Band Preview for more info.)

I Was A King Under Your Control

Before I get started, let me just say, I’m not a fan of EDM. I know I’ve said this before. Just making you aware that the next band I’m about to talk about goes way beyond my comfort zone so to speak. I’ve been digging them recently though. It all started the other day when one of the people I follow on instagram posted a picture with the caption as lyrics to a song. Of course, my naturally curious music loving self needed to check out what the song was and who sang it. Thankfully someone posted a comment with the band name. The band was Years & Years.

Comprised of vocalist/keyboardist Olly Alexander, bassist Mikey Goldsworthy, and synth player Emre Türkmen, Years & Years hails from London, England (yep another solid British band). They were formed in 2010 and debuted their first single in 2012, “I Wish I Knew”. Since then, the group released several singles, the most successful being “King” in January of this past year. It reached number one on the UK Singles Chart in March. They released their debut album, Communion, a little over a month ago on June 22nd.

Despite being around for a few years, these guys are just now breaking onto the scene. The genre that comes to mind to describe this band is electropop. Their songs are full of synth and have that upbeat pop feel. You might even consider it house music. Their sound also has this early 90’s feel to it and reminds me of something I’d hear on the radio during my yearly trips to Williamsburg, VA in my early childhood. They’re on that EDM spectrum for sure, but not so far as to say they’re like Deadmau5, Skrillex, Kaskade or David Guetta. These guys aren’t DJs. They’re just an electronica band.

The first Years & Years song I listened to was “King”. It was their most played on Spotify. I went with that to get a feel for them. I was immediately turned off from what I heard. Electronic music isn’t my style. I didn’t vibe it. However, a few hours later as I began my workout routine and turned on my workout playlist, I started thinking about “King”. It was kind of stuck in my head, so I went for it. I added it to my playlist. It’s definitely a great workout song. Since it’s been on the playlist for the past week, I’ve heard it plenty of times. I love it now. I’ve also given their other songs a chance and surprisingly, I like them. It might just be a phase, but for the moment, I’m gonna roll with it. I recommend giving these guys a listen, especially since they’re relatively new and I have a feeling this won’t be the last you hear of them. In case you were wondering, they’re touring across the U.S. very soon with dates from the middle to the end of September. It may even be worth seeing them live. If you’re like me and you don’t really enjoy their music style, I still say give them a shot. You might be surprised at yourself, just like I was. So here’s what you need to listen to:

  1. King (so so catchy)
  2. Desire
  3. Shine
  4. Border (this was actually the song that was quoted on that insta post, which I eventually figured out after going through a bunch of their songs)
  5. Gold
  6. Ties
  7. I Want to Love

Coachella Band Preview: Florence + the Machine

It’s close to the one month countdown to Coachella Weekend One which means it’s time to ramp up your music listening. It also means it’s time to talk about another band playing the festival this year. This group out of the U.K. has been making a name for themselves since the release of their first album Lungs. With the anticipation of the release of their third album slated for this June, Florence + the Machine is sure to put on a killer set at Coachella this April.

Florence Welch and her friend Isabella “Machine” Summers are the founding members of the group which started in 2007. Along with Robert Ackroyd, Chris Hayden, Tom Monger, and Mark Saunders, the band released their first album in July of 2009. It sold over 100,000 copies in a month and debuted at #1 on the U.K. charts. The BBC supported the band and played a big role in the attention they received upon the release of their album. After touring, playing plenty of festivals, receiving award nominations (including a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist) and a few awards since the release of Lungs, Florence + the Machine released their sophomore album Ceremonials in October 2011. The album received much praise and gave more attention to the already well-known band. They received two more Grammy nominations, VMA nominations, Brit Award nominations, and other award nominations in the years post-Ceremonials release.

In 2012 Florence + the Machine played their first Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival in a minor headlining role. This year it’s no different. Their blend of soulful and dark indie rock will be flowing through the large crowds in Indio in a little over a month with hits like “Dog Days Are Over”, “Shake It Out”, and “What the Water Gave Me”. I’m sure they’ll be playing some new material like their already released first single off their new album “What Kind of Man”. Their set is bound to be a favorite among festival-goers. It’ll be worth checking out.

So check out these songs in the meantime to get you ready:

1. “Dog Days Are Over”

2. “Shake It Out”

3. “No Light, No Light”

4. “Spectrum”

5. “Cosmic Love”

6. “Howl”

7. “Only If For A Night”

8. “Kiss With A Fist”

9. “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”

10. “What the Water Gave Me”

Coachella Band Preview: Jungle

63 days remain until the first weekend of Coachella 2015 which means the prep time for listening to bands is slowly dwindling. That also means so is the time to preview some of the bands playing. Another act playing the festival this year is Jungle, a relatively new band (formed in 2013) I heard of about a month or two before the lineup came out. I downloaded a pretty catchy song called “Time” by these guys after hearing them on some sort of indie playlist/website. Then when I saw they were playing Coachella I decided to check out more of their music. I wasn’t disappointed, but I didn’t really know too much about this band until I started doing some research on them for the blog.

Jungle, formed in 2013, was founded by two childhood best friends Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson (known as J and T). Both are from London, England. Their sound though is what sets them apart from other bands that fit on the indie spectrum. In fact, I doubt there are many, if not any other bands playing Coachella that are similar in music style to Jungle. When I decided to listen to more of their music my first impression was that they sounded like a group straight out of the 70’s, but with a modern vibe. Think indie funk. Never did I think I would be into music that sounded like something you’d hear on Soul Train, but their music works. I love it.

Another reason to love this band is that they focus on their music as an art form. They put effort to express their music in a certain way through their music videos. From simply using eye contact to form a connection with the audience, to dancing on roller blades, to using an insanely talented 6 year old break dancer, their videos present certain messages that go beyond a normal music video. Their music in general also features plenty of non-traditional instruments and sounds that adds to the artistic nature of this band.

In the coming months until the festival I plan on listening to Jungle frequently. I’m in the process of securing their self-titled debut album as part of my Coachella preparations. I can’t wait to see what they offer at a live set which I plan on attending at the festival. If you’re heading to Coachella this year or just looking for some new bands to get into, I recommend listening to Jungle. They’re definitely something different, but like I said it just works.

Song recommendations:

1. “Time”

2. “The Heat”

3. “Burnin’ Easy”

The New British Invasion

In the 60’s there was a pretty big deal band that came out of England, but in the 00’s there was another one. Maybe not as big as the first, but they still matter to me. This blog post is about them, not The Beatles.

I first found out about The Kooks in  early summer 2011 when my friend Caylee told me to listen to their song “Naive”. I loved it. It was so catchy. That same year in September they released their album Junk of the Heart. I bought it shortly after the release. I also ended up getting their first album Inside In/Inside Out which was released in 2006 a few months later.

The band is made up of members, Luke Pritchard, Hugh Harris, Alexis Nunez, and Peter Denton, although Nunez and Denton were not part of the original lineup. Paul Garred and Max Rafferty were with the band from their early days until 2012 and 2008, respectively. The Kooks are a British rock band whose sound almost reminds me of something you’d hear out of a 1960’s British Invasion band. At the same time, they fit into that modern indie sound that’s comparable to The Arctic Monkeys.

I haven’t heard much about them since then. No tours. No new albums. Maybe there was something and I just wasn’t paying attention, but about 2 months ago I heard a brand new single called “Down”. I didn’t fall in love immediately, but it was a song that I found good enough to download. Then, about a week and a half ago I was looking at iTunes for some new music (first time I ever did that I may add) in their recent alternative popular download search list type thing (I don’t know how to describe it). To be honest I’m not sure what I did to get where I did to find the new music, and I don’t feel like looking up the exact steps in the iTunes store. Anyway, I found a recent Kooks song called “Bad Habit”. It was super catchy. I downloaded it and after finally getting it on to my iPod yesterday, I can’t stop listening to it. It’s on repeat. As I just found out the song is on their new album Listen which was released in September (where have I been?!) along with the song “Down”. I’m currently hooked on it. I plan on getting this new album sometime in the near future as well. If that song is any indication of what the album is like then I’m sure it’s a worthy buy. Of course I could be wrong. There have been albums that weren’t that good aside from one or two songs. If I know the Kooks though, I’m sure they put together a quality record.

So if you’re sitting there reading this, take the time to listen to “Bad Habit”. I put the Youtube video below for your convenience (you’re welcome!) and then check out some other stuff by The Kooks. If you need some help, as always, the song list:

1. “Naive”

2. “Junk of the Heart (Happy)”

3. “Seaside”

4. “She Moves in Her Own Way”

5. “One Last Time”