British singer

Coachella Band Preview: Declan McKenna

Another week down and three more to go! Anticipation is building at a strong pace for me right now, as I’m sure it is for many others. The Coachella Valley is soon to become a mecca for festival-goers as it has almost annually since 1999. That means your time to prep by listening to this year’s acts is rapidly decreasing. So without further adieu, this week I’m previewing an artist who came on to the scene around 2015.

Declan McKenna is a British musician/singer/songwriter. At just 19, the young artist will be playing his first Coachella this spring after dropping out of last year’s festival, but he’s not new to the festival scene. He has gained plenty of recognition in the UK since winning Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Competition in 2015.  Along with Glastonbury, he has played Lollapalooza and Reading and Leeds Festivals among others.

After winning the talent competition in 2015, McKenna signed a record deal with Columbia records and released singles until the release of his debut EP Stains in March 2016. His second EP Liar was released two months later. His debut album What Do You Think About the Car? was released this past July. Each of his releases include his hit single “Brazil”, which he wrote as a political protest song about FIFA (soccer/football’s governing body) and the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. All three releases also included his song “Paracetomal”.

Declan McKenna plays indie rock music. As a young developing and emerging artist, his sound is still growing though, so you might hear other styles of music in his songs too. To me, his sound is comparable to another British indie rock band, The Kooks.

I first heard of Declan McKenna from Spotify. I found his song Brazil on a playlist in 2016. When the lineup dropped this year, I recognized him from that song. Since then though, I’ve listened to some of his other stuff. I enjoy his music. He’s got some solid tunes. Although he’s been around for a couple years now, he freshly released his debut album less than a year ago and he’s been highly praised as being the next big thing on the British music scene. So he’s definitely worth checking out this year at the festival.

Declan McKenna plays on Saturday this year. Saturday’s lineup is pretty stacked in my opinion, so I’d expect McKenna to play an early to mid afternoon time slot. Another reason to expect him to play then is that he’s also not billed very highly on the lineup poster. Of course it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be able to plan out who you’ll be seeing at Coachella, I highly recommend checking out this kid. Here’s a few songs you might want to know beforehand:

  1. Brazil
  2. Paracetomal
  3. Isombard
  4. Bethlehem
  5. Why Do You Feel So Down?
  6. The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home

 

 

 

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Hold Tight You’re Slowly Coming Back to Life

Back in 2011 when my music tastes veered towards the indie/indie rock/hipster scene, I continually looked for new music and had no problem finding it. I discovered plenty of bands/artists for the first time like Foster the People, Matt & Kim, Peter, Bjorn & John, The Naked and Famous, Young the Giant, Bon Iver, The Kooks, etc. (the list could go on because I shortened it while typing this). While searching for music during this time, I came across an artist that really intrigued me, but that I also, in a way, overlooked. She sang this incredible cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love”, as well as other indie songs, which I listened to several times over a month to two month period. The coolest part was that she was only 15! I never downloaded any of her songs though and with time I found other music to listen to. Over the past few years I would see her name pop up here and there, but I didn’t pay much attention until about two weeks ago. I heard a new single of hers while listening to a playlist on Spotify and fell in love all over again.

Jasmine Lucilla Elizabeth Jennifer van den Bogaerde, more commonly known to the music world as Birdy, is a 19 year old British singer/songwriter who hails from Lymington, Hampshire in the UK. She began her music career at the age of 7 when she started taking piano lessons. By age 8, she was writing her own music. In 2008 at age 12, she won the talent competition Open Mic UK where she competed against 10,000 others. In January 2011, she released her first single, which was the “Skinny Love” cover. It was her break-out single as the song became a hit on the UK Singles Chart reaching the 17th spot and was the third biggest selling rock single in the UK in 2011. She also released her debut self-titled album in November 2011 which was a compilation of various covers and one original song. The album was a huge success in Europe and Australia.

In 2012 she released an EP of live songs which included her original song “Just A Game” from The Hunger Games soundtrack. The same year she also contributed to the soundtrack of the film Brave with Mumford & Sons, which earned her a Grammy nomination in 2013. Her second full length album Fire Within was released in September 2013. She also contributed 3 songs to The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack which came out in 2014. Most recently, she released the singles “Keeping Your Head Up” and “Beautiful Lies” from her third album, Beautiful Lies,which is slated for a March 25th release date.

Birdy’s music is in the indie pop/indie rock genre. In fact her debut album features mostly indie covers. Along with the Bon Iver cover hit, she covers Phoenix’s “1901”, Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal”, The Postal Service’s “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”, The Naked and Famous’s “Young Blood”, The xx’s “Shelter”, and Cherry Ghost’s “People Help the People” among other songs. Following her debut, her music hasn’t changed much. Of course she’s releasing original music now, but the indie vibe to her tracks still exists. Her voice has a young feel to it as well. It hasn’t changed much through the years either despite getting her braces off which created a distinct sound on the Bon Iver cover.

Although Birdy’s success has mainly been overseas, I have a feeling she may get a bigger following in the U.S. soon for two reasons. First, her two singles from Beautiful Lies are off the hook, especially “Keeping Your Head Up”. That’s the song I heard that made me fall in love again and catch up with what Birdy’s been up to over the past few years. Second, Birdy’s getting older. She’s done shows in America before and toured playing small venues as a guest for Christina Perri, but she predominantly does shows in Europe. Her scheduled dates so far in support of her new album are in Europe. However, she’ll be 20 in May and I have a feeling at some point she’ll want to spread her wings across the pond. Her new album might just give her some leverage to do that too. While we’re waiting to see what else Birdy has to offer with this upcoming third album, here’s some songs you should hear by this talented young artist:

  1. “Skinny Love”
  2. “1901”
  3. “Wings”
  4. “People Help the People”
  5. “Tee Shirt”
  6. “Not About Angels”
  7. “Keeping Your Head Up”
  8. “Beautiful Lies”