coachella 2016 preview

Coachella Band Preview: Of Monsters and Men

In exactly one month, it will be the final day of the first weekend of Coachella 2016. That means less than a month until the festival begins! There’s only a few more weeks and band previews left. I hope you’ve been prepping by listening to the incredible acts performing this year or by shopping for the perfect festival attire. If you’ve been doing just that or even if you haven’t, this week’s preview band is one I would definitely be seeing if I was attending this year. I’ve liked this band for a little over 4 years, but have yet to see them live. I know if I was going to be at Coachella they’d be in my top 5 bands to see solely for that reason.

Formed in 2010, Of Monsters and Men hails from Iceland. The indie group is composed of members Nanna Byrndis-Hilmarsdóttir (vocals, gutiar), Ragnar “Raggi”Pórhallsson (guitar, vocals), Brynjar Leifsson (guitar), Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson (drums), and Kristján Páll Kristjánsson (bass). After competing in a battle of the bands competition in Iceland, Of Monsters and Men started touring across their home country. Before the release of their debut album My Head Is an Animal in September 2011, Philadelphia’s alternative/indie radio station 104.5 started playing their single “Little Talks” which grew the band’s popularity in the U.S. Due to the nationwide success and the debut album only being released in Iceland, the band signed with Universal so they could release their album in America. Before that though, Of Monsters and Men dropped an EP, Into the Woods, in December of 2011 which contained 4 songs from their debut. The band released their debut in the States the following April.

In 2012 and 2013 the band toured worldwide playing countless shows and music festivals including Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, and Coachella (yep 2016 will be their second appearance). They also contributed songs to a few movies and TV series. In 2014 they began recording their sophomore album, Beneath the Skin, which was released in June of 2015. The band toured through the rest of 2015 promoting the new album.

Their music style is strictly indie. I guess you could say indie pop or indie rock. The songs have a great balance of male and female vocals because of Nanna and Raggi. They harmonize well together. It creates a uniqueness only heard in a handful of other indie groups with a male and female vocalist.

I first heard Of Monsters and Men around the time of their EP release in 2011 and the first song I heard actually wasn’t “Little Talks”. It was the song “Lakehouse”. Unlike many bands and songs, I don’t think the song was a recommendation either. I most likely found it while searching for new music. I had it on my iTunes by the end of November 2011. The next Of Monsters and Men song I heard wasn’t “Little Talks” either. It was the song “King and Lionheart” in April 2012, the same month their debut album came out in the U.S. When I downloaded that song, I remember thinking, “Hmm I think I have another song by Of Monsters and Men downloaded too.” Sure enough, I did. By the end of the following month, I finally heard “Little Talks” and despite not hearing the most popular song first, it slowly took over my life for a little while. My friend’s husband and I started getting together every Wednesday beginning in June 2012 to play guitar (Yes I play guitar if you didn’t already know. And drums. And ukulele.). It was during our guitar sessions that we decided to work on playing “Little Talks”. Playing the song came together quickly, but we did play it a lot. It was one of our signature songs along with “Lonely Boy” by The Black Keys and “Dammit” by Blink-182. Eventually, on Black Friday 2012, I picked up a copy of My Head Is an Animal for a few bucks and I considered it one of the best buys of the day. It’s a great record. So yes, Of Monsters and Men and I have a history together, but like I said, I’ve never seen them live. I do enjoy all of the songs I’ve ever heard by them though. I’m sure as long as you’re down with indie pop/indie rock music, you should too.

As you know from reading this, Coachella 2016 won’t be the band’s first trip to the desert. They last played three years ago, but since released a brand new album featuring the hit “Crystals”. If you don’t have a chance to see a band you think is good while they tour in support of an amazing debut album, I think it’s great to be able to see them after they release a second album. Even with the second album, its still at the point that they’ll play plenty of songs you know and love from the first one, along with the best songs from the second one. You end up with a killer combo of music. Of Monsters and Men is at that point now which is another good reason to see them at Coachella this year besides the fact that they’re a great band. They play on the first day of the festival, Friday. Many of the other bands and artists I previewed so far are scheduled to play Saturday or Sunday making Of Monsters and Men a solid option for Friday. Here’s a few songs you should know by this Icelandic indie band:

  1. Little Talks
  2. Crystals
  3. King and Lionheart
  4. Mountain Sound
  5. I of the Storm
  6.  Dirty Paws
  7. Empire
  8. Love Love Love
  9. Lakehouse
  10. Slow and Steady

 

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Coachella Band Preview: CHVRCHES

Coachella 2016 is a little over a month away! If you haven’t started your music prep already, your time is running down. If you have been listening to plenty of bands in preparation for this year’s festival, you may want to check this next one out.

CHVRCHES (pronounced “churches”), formed in 2011, is a Scottish indie electronic band. They decided to spell their name using a “v” instead of a “u” to avoid confusion with real churches on internet searches. The group, who hails from Glasgow, is made up of three members, Lauren Mayberry (vocals, synth, samplers), Iain Cook (synth, guitar, bass, vocals), and Martin Doherty (synth, samplers, vocals). The group began recording together in a basement studio in Glasgow. They released their first songs in 2012. “Lies” was available as an exclusive free download on a blog by label Neon Gold in May 2012, and “The Mother We Share” was released as their first single in November of the same year. They released their first EP, Recover EP, in March 2013. That spring they performed at SXSW and won the Grulke Prize for Developing Non-U.S. Act. Their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, came out September 20, 2013. In early 2015 the group began working on their second album. Like the first album, they wrote, produced, and recorded it themselves in a basement owned by Cook. The album, Every Open Eye, was released on September 25, 2015.

As an electronic band, their music is filled with synth and samplers and can be considered synthpop, electronic, or indie electronic. Mayberry’s vocals often highlight each track as well. Their sound and vocals actually create the perfect blend of current indie music to electronic, which sets them apart from many other indie bands.

I first heard of the band in 2013. Usually I have a pretty good story about how I got into a band or where I first heard them, but with CHVRCHES, I don’t. I downloaded their song “Lungs” about a day or two after I returned from California in October 2013. I probably found and heard the song while searching for new music. Then this past year I think I heard a new song or two on Spotify. I added “Clearest Blue” to a workout playlist near the debut of their second album. After realizing that I liked a few CHVRCHES songs, I went out and bought Every Open Eye. Although this story is underwhelming, this band isn’t. Their music is good. They’re a good band and if I were attending Coachella, I’d want to see them. It’s as simple as that.

CHVRCHES play Saturday at Coachella. This will be the band’s second appearance in Indio. They last played in 2014. I definitely recommend checking them out. With only two albums out currently, I’m sure their set will feature a mix of favorites from both. Here’s a few songs from both albums to get you ready:

  1. Lungs
  2. The Mother We Share
  3. Recover
  4. Lies
  5. Clearest Blue
  6. Leave A Trace
  7. Never Ending Circles
  8. We Sink
  9. Gun
  10. Empty Threat

Coachella Band Preview: Sia

As I say almost every time I post a Coachella Band Preview, the days keep dwindling until the epic festival in the desert. At this point, less than 2 months remain until Coachella Weekend 1. This week I’m actually not previewing any band though. I’m previewing a singer who’s been active since the mid-90’s, but has only received great acclaim in the last 2 years. I’m not sure if you’d be able to recognize her if you saw her out on the streets somewhere due to her somewhat recent decision to not show her face when she performs. You may however know her from her over-sized platinum blonde wigs that cover most of her face. If that rings a bell, then yes it’s Sia and she’ll be performing at Coachella this year for the first time (sort of, but I’ll explain later).

Australian singer-songwriter, Sia Furler, known to the world as Sia, began her singing career shortly after she graduated high school in 1994 as a singer for acid jazz band, Crisp. By 1997 the band broke up and Sia released her debut solo album, OnlySee, but the album didn’t receive much success. Sia then moved to London where she performed as a background singer for the band Jamiroquai and lead vocalist for the band Zero 7. During the time she fronted Zero 7, she released her second and third solo albums entitled Hearing is Difficult (2001) and Colour the Small One (2004), respectively. The single “Breathe Me” off Colour the Small One received commercial success throughout several countries in Europe and even gained Sia some attention in America as the track was featured in the final episode of the HBO series Six Feet Under. By 2005, Sia decided to make the move to America in an effort to further her music career.

Between 2007 and 2010, Sia released three more albums. The first was a live album in 2007, Lady Croissant, which featured songs performed at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City in April 2006 while she was on tour and one studio track, “Pictures”. The following year she released her fourth studio album, Some People Have REAL Problems and in 2010 released her fifth album, We Are Born. Both albums had a few successful singles that were charted in a few European countries and Australia. We Are Born even won the artist two ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Awards in 2010. After touring in North America, Europe, and Australia to promote We Are Born, Sia decided to retire from her career as a recording artist and focus on becoming a pop songwriter. It was at that point that the unexpected happened.

Sia wrote a song for recording artist Alicia Keys. However, the song was sent to French DJ and EDM artist David Guetta. David Guetta ended up using the song with Sia’s original demo vocals without her approval and the song, called “Titanium”, became a worldwide mainstream success. Despite the popularity of the song, Sia wasn’t pleased since she had recently retired and wanted to focus on songwriting. She did co-write songs from 2011-2013 for many artists like Beyonce, Flo Rida, and Rihanna. In a similar situation to the one with David Guetta, Flo Rida used Sia’s vocals on the song “Wild Ones”.

In 2013, Sia came out of retirement, so to speak, and released the single “Elastic Heart” featuring The Weeknd and Diplo as a song on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack. In July 2014, she released her sixth album, 1000 Forms of Fear, which she intended to be the last album she needed to release in order to release her from her record deal, but the album became her most successful to date. It debuted in the top spot on the Billboard Top 200 and sold 52,000 copies in the first week. It reached the top ten on numerous European charts and number 1 in Australia. Along with “Elastic Heart”, which she released as a solo version on the album and as a single, the track “Chandelier” received high praise worldwide. Sia even received four Grammy nominations in 2015 for “Chandelier”, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, and Best Music Video. After the Grammys last year, Sia announced she had completed a follow up album to 1000 Forms of Fear because of her success.

Sia’s seventh album This Is Acting was released January 29, 2016. Her first single from the album, “Alive”, which she co-wrote with Adele, debuted prior to the album release in September 2015. In the following months leading up to the album debut, she also released several other singles, “Bird Set Free”, “One Million Bullets”, “Cheap Thrills”, “Reaper”, and “Unstoppable”. I’m not sure if her latest album will achieve the same success as her prior release, but with the quality of the newest album, it may come close.

Sia’s music can be considered pop, indie pop, and electropop, but her vocals incorporate elements of hip-hop, funk, and soul. I feel like her most recent work (1000 Forms of Fear and This Is Acting) exhibits more power in her vocals than in past records as well, especially in the songs “Alive”, “Chandelier”, “Unstoppable”, and “Eye of the Needle”. If you listen to We Are Born the last album before her “retirement”, it has a much more indie pop vibe. Some People Have REAL Problems is more pop with elements of soul included and Colour the Small One is very pop as well. Healing is Difficult has a hip-hop style and almost reminds me of 90’s hip-hop/R&B girl group, TLC. It’s evident that throughout the years of her career Sia’s style has fluctuated, but it seems that she’s finally found her niche with her power pop vocals and pop/indie pop sound.

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t heard of Sia before she was featured on “Titanium” and released her latest two albums. I definitely heard of her throughout the 00’s, but never listened to her music because it didn’t fit with what I was listening to at the time and also because she wasn’t a “big deal” musically. Even within the last two years, I didn’t listen to her music. It’s only been during the last few weeks or so that I really started getting to know this talented artist. I added the song “Elastic Heart” to my Spotify playlist of recent music finds after seeing it on my favorite soccer player’s monthly music playlist and liking the song after listening to it a few times. It was recent single “Cheap Thrills”, which again was featured on that player’s monthly playlist, that hooked me on Sia though. I just purchased her latest album on Friday and have been listening to it since. It’s good. She’s good. I may just have to purchased 1000 Forms of Fear as well, except, I definitely want it on vinyl.

As I mentioned before, it will sort of be Sia’s first time performing at Coachella this spring. She appeared during David Guetta’s set in 2012 to perform “Titanium”, but has not ever done a solo set at the annual event. Sia’s Coachella appearance will actually be her first live set in five years, so it should attract a huge audience. Not to mention in the last five years Sia’s popularity has sky rocketed. Sia plays Sunday at Coachella. If I had to make a guess, even though set times won’t be released for weeks, I’ll say she probably plays the main stage before Calvin Harris closes out the weekend. You’re most likely not gonna want to miss her performance, so to get you ready:

  1. Chandelier
  2. Elastic Heart
  3. Cheap Thrills
  4. Alive
  5. Breathe Me
  6. Big Girls Cry
  7. Unstoppable
  8. Clap Your Hands
  9. Bird Set Free
  10. Fire Meets Gasoline
  11. Eye of the Needle

 

Coachella Band Preview: Matt and Kim

Coachella 2016 is almost 2 months away. I personally can’t believe it’s close to a year since I went out to Indio for my first Coachella experience. It always feels like my trips to California didn’t happen that long ago because I think about them all the time. Truth be told though, it’s 2 months from my 1 year Coachella anniversary. As you know, I’m quite bummed I won’t be returning for 2016, but nonetheless I wish good things for everyone making the journey to Coachella Valley this spring. I also suggest you see the band I’m previewing this week during your weekend. I’ve liked this band for almost 5 years, yet I’ve never seen them live. They’re such a fun duo and among the top of my must-see-live list.

Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino met while attending college at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. After they graduated, the duo formed their two member band appropriately called Matt and Kim (not Kim and Matt because Matt and Kim looks better graphically) in 2004. By 2006, they released their self-titled first album in October, Matt & Kim. Their debut album lead to some appearances at a few high profile music festivals like Coney Island’s Siren Music Festival (2001-2010) and Lollapalooza. On January 20, 2009, the group released their second album, Grand, which they recorded in Matt’s childhood bedroom at his parents house in Vermont. The album featured their most popular song to date, “Daylight”, which was featured in a commercial, a movie, TV shows, and video games. The following year the group released the album Sidewalks and played several headlining tours post-release. Lightning, Matt and Kim’s fourth album, was released on October 2, 2012. The group once again toured and played several festivals in support of the album. “Let’s Go”, one of the singles off of Lightning, even reached the number 20 spot on Billboard’s Alternative songs chart. After a three year break from releasing new tunes, Matt and Kim finished their fifth album, New Glow, and released it less than a year ago on April 7, 2015.

In case you were wondering, Matt and Kim are, in fact, a couple. They’ve been together since college and are the definition of relationship goals. However the fact that they have a band together as a couple isn’t reflected in their music. Their songs aren’t about love. They’re enjoyable, simple, and upbeat songs with basic, easy, and relatable themes. Their music is definitely indie pop, but at times their songs draw from hip-hop influences. Their live shows reflect their style as well. They’re high energy, loud, and fun or so I’ve heard. Basically it’s a Matt and Kim live show is like a giant music party.

I was introduced to Matt and Kim almost 5 years ago by a friend who suggested I listen to “Daylight” and “Yea, Yeah”. Although I liked both, “Yea, Yeah” stood out as one of my favorites during the time period where I made the transition to indie music fan/hipster. I even fell in love with the music video for the song which showed Matt and Kim playing the song on their instruments while having a bunch of random food thrown at them. It was a mere two months later that I bought my first Matt and Kim album. The album I purchased, Sidewalks, turned out to be just what I needed in regards to current life events. In particular it was the song “Good For Great” off that album that resonated with me and a huge choice that I made in the coming months. That song might be one of my favorites of all time because of how I related to it. Throughout the last few years, Matt and Kim’s music has come into my life at various times. They’ve provided me with positive and upbeat tunes and I’m forever grateful.

Hopefully someday I’ll get to fully immerse myself in the Matt and Kim live show party. Until then, those of you attending Coachella need to do me a solid and see their set. They play Sunday during the festival. If I was going, they would be near the top of my list of sets to see, for sure. How could you not want to see them though? They pretty much embody the positive spirit of the festival. Since I know you’ll want to make me jealous by attending their show, here’s a few songs you should know (droppin’ rhymes like Biggie…say what?!):

  1. Daylight
  2. Yea, Yeah (I included the link to the music video I love so much for this as well)
  3. Good For Great
  4. Let’s Go
  5. It’s Alright
  6. Can You Blame Me
  7. Get It
  8. World Is Ending
  9. Cameras
  10. Lessons Learned

 

 

Coachella Band Preview: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

We’re nearing the end of January which means it’s almost February which means it’s almost March which means it’s almost April which means it’s almost COACHELLA! So if you haven’t started prepping, now’s the time. There’s a lot of bands to listen to. The band I’m previewing today has been a band I’ve enjoyed for over 4 years now. Yesterday, they announced the release of a brand new album due out April 15th. Does that date sound familiar to anyone?! Yes, it’s the first day of Weekend 1 of Coachella 2016! Perfect timing for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

The story of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros begins with Ima Robot (famed for the Suits (TV show) theme song “Greenback Boogie”) frontman, Alex Ebert. After experiencing problems with the LA party lifestyle and drug addiction, Ebert moved out of his house, broke up with his girlfriend, and entered rehab. It was during his rehab stint that Ebert began writing a book about a christ-like figure named Edward Sharpe who came to earth to heal and save mankind, but ended up getting too distracted by girls and love. Ebert adopted the Edward Sharpe persona as sort of an alter ego, which in a way was something he needed at the time because he felt he lost his identity. When Ebert left rehab, he met and began dating singer, Jade Castrinos. The duo started writing music together as well. They eventually became a group of about 10+ members and played their first show together in 2007 in LA as Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

The band’s first show in 2009 came at the Marfa Film Festival in Marfa, Texas and their debut album Up From Below was released July 14th of the same year. In 2011, the band joined Mumford & Sons and Old Crow Medicine Show on the Railroad Revival Tour, which was the subject for the film documentary Big Easy Express, which won a Grammy for Best Long Form Music Video in 2013. After spending 2011 on tour, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros went into the recording studio to create the band’s second album, Here, which was released May 29, 2012. Then in 2013 the band released their third album, self-titled Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. After the release, the band toured across the globe playing shows and festivals. Aside from shows here or there, the band hasn’t really been very active since around the time of the release of their last album. With a new album on the way and two weekends at Coachella, 2016 will be a revival for the group who has since lost founding member Jade Castrinos (she left the group in 2014).

I first heard of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros in 2011 thanks to a song recommendation by a friend. Of course the song recommendation was their most known hit “Home”. It was definitely one of my most favorite songs of 2011 and I played it constantly for months from the time I first heard/downloaded it. I then downloaded the song “40 Day Dream” to add to my very very small collection of Edward Sharpe songs. I should probably say song though because “Home” was the only song in the collection at the time. Since then though, I’ve acquired every album the band has released to date, and I’ll most likely pick up a copy of PersonA when it’s released in April.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ music is mostly rooted in folk, whether that be indie folk, folk rock, or psychedelic folk. You may even call their music Americana at times as well. Overall, their music has a very hippie-like sound reminiscent of music from the 60’s and 70’s.

They play Sunday at Coachella this year and it won’t be the band’s first time to the Indio desert rodeo. However, the last time the band played was in 2010. Their set will no doubt be a fun one filled with plenty of hippies and flower children. It might just be one of the more chill, relaxing sets this year depending on what time they play. Perfect for Coachillin’, if you know what I mean. If you do plan on catching their set though, here’s what you should know:

  1. Home
  2. 40 Day Dream
  3. Janglin’
  4. Man On Fire
  5. That’s What’s Up
  6. No Love Like Yours (**this one is a Brand New single off their upcoming album)
  7. Better Days

Coachella Band Preview: M83

Another week less until Coachella 2016 means another week less to listen to your favorite bands performing in the desert this April. I have plenty of favorites playing the festival this spring, but one I wanted to preview is French/American band M83. They’ve been out of the picture for a few years since their last album came out 5 years ago. With multiple festival appearances and a new album slated for release this year, 2016 looks to be a big year for the band.

M83 was originally a duo formed in 2001 by Anthony Gonzalez and Nicolas Fromageau. The band’s debut self-titled album was released in the spring of 2001. It didn’t receive much acknowledgment outside of Europe. It wasn’t until the band released their second album Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts that their name reached the shores of North America. However, the album was released in Europe in spring 2003, but did not get popular in North America until the following summer. After M83 toured to promote their second album, Fromageau left the band and Gonzalez went on to record the following two albums, Before the Dawn Heals Us (2005) and Digital Shades Vol. 1 (2007), by himself.

M83’s fifth album, Saturdays = Youth, was released in 2008 and was the band’s first album that contained a typical song structure and form. It was at this point that Gonzalez began to receive consistent help from others in the recording process. One person in particular was vocalist and keyboardist, Morgan Kibby. The band then went on to support acts like Kings of Leon, The Killers, and Depeche Mode in 2008 and 2009. In 2009 Gonzalez made a permanent move to Los Angeles, which, in a way, revamped the band. By 2011 Gonzalez began writing songs for the band’s sixth album, which he stated would be a double album. In July 2011 the first single from the new album “Midnight City” was released. It was M83’s breakthrough hit. The album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, was released on October 18, 2011. It became the band’s most successful album to date, debuting at number 15 on Billboard’s 200 and receiving honors from Pitchfork on their list of Top 50 Albums of 2011 . It also received a Grammy nomination in 2013 for Best Alternative Music Album.

Since Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, M83 has not released an album. However, it was announced via Twitter in mid-December 2015 that the band recently completed a new album. It’s safe to say we can expect a new release sometime this year. In the meantime though, the group re-released some of their older albums in late 2015.

M83 got their name from the galaxy Messier 83, nicknamed M83. Their sound perfectly reflects their name too. Their synthpop, ambient style music has a super trippy, outer space feel to it. When you listen to their music and close your eyes, you can literally imagine yourself floating through the universe. Their early music is especially like that since, as I mentioned, most of their songs didn’t have much form or structure until their fifth album.

I first heard of M83 around late 2011-early 2012. Midnight City was of course the first song I downloaded by the group. I then proceeded to download a few other songs in the following months. M83 was a tough band for me to get into, since their music was pretty different from what I was listening to at the time. However, I really took a liking to the song “Steve McQueen” off Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. It became my go-to for M83 songs.

This won’t be M83’s first time at Coachella. They last played in 2012 in the wake of their success from their most recent album. They play Friday this year. I’m sure they’ll play many old favorites and a few new songs as well. It’s bound to be a good set whether they’re one of your faves, whether you missed seeing them in 2011-2012, whether you got into them after that time, or whether you’re just hearing about them now. To get you ready for their set though, I recommend these jams:

  1. Midnight City
  2. We Own the Sky
  3. Steve McQueen
  4. Wait
  5. Splendor
  6. Kim & Jessie
  7. Reunion
  8. Intro
  9. Outro
  10. Skin of the Night