coachella band preview

Coachella Band Preview: The xx

Hey guess what…Coachella Band Previews are back! It was only a matter of time since the lineup release last week. Coachella is a little over 3 months away so if you’re headed out to Indio, your prep needs to begin asap. Like yesterday asap. The timing of my first preview works out perfectly because this band’s third album, I See You, comes out tomorrow! They hail from the UK and they’re called The xx.

In 2005, while still in school, Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft formed the band. Guitarist Baria Qureshi joined once the band started performing and Jamie Smith joined the year after. The group released their debut album, xx, in 2009 under the British indie label Young Turks. It received praise from critics in both the UK and America. It made Rolling Stone’s list of Best Albums of 2009 finishing 9th. Songs from the album have been featured on countless television and film productions as well as for sporting event promotions. The band also headlined its own tour in promotion of the album and earned spots at several major North American music festivals in 2010, including Coachella, Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits. In late 2009 though, band member Baria Qureshi left the band turning The xx into a trio.

In 2012 the band once again played the festival circuit in anticipation of their second album, Coexist, which was released on September 5, 2012. Coexist combines The xx’s signature sound and integrates it with a club music feel. Jamie Smith spoke before its release about the club influence on it. It’s definitely noticeable especially on songs like “Sunset” and “Swept Away”. The second album didn’t generate as much success as their debut, but was still highly anticipated.

As I said, their third album comes out tomorrow and once again the band will embark on a touring/festival circuit route for the year. They begin touring in Europe in February, head to South America for their Lollapalooza dates, and then it’s Southern California for Coachella followed by their North American tour with more festivals mixed in along the way. As for the album itself, I’ve only heard the singles that were released early, but I recently read a review from Pitchfork claiming that the album combines classic xx and the growth of each members’ talents. Obviously the challenge for any band or artist with a largely successful album is trying to replicate that success with still being able to grow as musicians and make and play the music that the band or artist wants to create. While there will never be another xx, it’s safe to say that this upcoming album sounds tremendous so far. It even caught my ear early for someone who has listened to The xx here and there throughout the last 5-6 years. Maybe it’s a long shot or maybe it’s not, but I’m predicting some good things for the new album and the band this year.

The xx plays an indie electronic style of music. It can even induce that hypnotic dream pop sound. The xx honestly combines the best of both of my worlds at this point. While searching for upbeat electronic songs to listen to while I work out, I’m constantly wondering if there are any DJ’s out there who have a more indie sound to combine with their electronic music. The xx answers that question for me. They combine guitar with digital/electronic beats and sounds. Though not necessarily the type of music I’d listen to while working out, their music is just what I’ve been looking for.

As I said, I’ve listened to The xx here and there throughout the last 5 years. I first heard them in 2011. I’m pretty sure I heard the song “Intro” while listening to the Foster the People channel on Pandora. Eventually I discovered the song “Islands” and casually enjoyed the song for the past few years. 2 months ago, before I heard about the new album, I added the song “Heart Skipped a Beat” to my newest music on iTunes. Right before I added that song, a friend of mine told me one of her top 5 favorite albums of all time was xx. I forget the other albums she said, but the mentioning of The xx interested me since I knew about them for years without really getting into them. Between the new album and the promotion from my friend of their debut, I’ve developed a recent interest in the group and I was excited to learn that they’re expected to play Coachella this year.

The xx plays Coachella on Friday and by Friday, I totally mean Friday night. There’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll either take the Main Stage before Radiohead or play a late set on the Outdoor Stage. In fact, The xx playing as the sun sets over the mountains of the Indio desert is probably the most ideal setting imaginable. No matter what setting they play in though, their set will undoubtedly be a great one and one I would surely be at. To prep for it, pick up a copy of I See You tomorrow or listen to some of these songs:

  1. Islands
  2. Intro
  3. Angels
  4. Heart Skipped A Beat
  5. Sunset
  6. Crystalised
  7. VCR

 

Coachella Band Preview: BØRNS

I’m not sure if you knew or not but, COACHELLA BEGINS ON FRIDAY! For those of you camping, it begins Thursday night, but the festival officially begins on Friday. Since Friday is only a mere 3 days from now, this will be the final band preview for Coachella 2016 (I do have an extra special Coachella post for tomorrow planned though). Over the past 3 months, I’ve previewed all of my favorite acts performing this year and now it’s getting down to the wire. There was a handful of bands to choose from that I wanted to write about for this final preview so I figured I’d choose one whose music style is more so my cup of tea, meaning not another EDM artist.

Garrett Borns, better known to the world as BØRNS, is a indie pop/alternative rock artist from Grand Haven, Michigan. His debut single, “10,000 Emerald Pools”, was released a little more than a year ago on November 10, 2014. His EP Candy was also released the same day. After the EP release, BØRNS played multiple TV appearances and festivals to promote his EP. He joined the likes of MisterWives last spring and Charli XCX and Bleachers last summer on tour. BØRNS debut album, Dopamine, was released on October 16, 2015. The album peaked at the 24th spot on the Billboard Top 200 in the U.S.

BØRNS plays an indie pop/alternative rock style of music. His music also has elements of synth and can be considered synthpop. There’s even a hippie-like sound to a few of his songs too. His high pitched vocals are smooth. At times they even remind me of Justin Timberlake’s sound, except better because his music has a much more indie sound.

I first heard of BØRNS over the summer at some point. I’m not exactly sure if I heard him first on the local alternative radio station or on my friends Spotify playlist. The song “Electric Love” was the first song I heard though. Since the summer, I’ve heard the song many more times as well as several other BØRNS songs that I like just as much and have recently been getting into.

BØRNS 2016 Coachella appearance will be his first. He did play other major festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits last year, but Coachella goes beyond other festivals in my opinion. He’ll be kicking off the festival with a Friday set. As I’m writing this post, I’m listening to BØRNS and I can picture hearing this song while a cool breeze blows and the palm trees and bohemian hipsters are swaying. It should be a great set to attend to start off the weekend. With the limited amount of time, here’s some songs you need to have on repeat over the next three days:

  1. 10,000 Emerald Pools
  2. Electric Love
  3. American Money
  4. Seeing Stars
  5. Past Lives
  6. The Emotion
  7. Fool

Coachella Band Preview: Matoma

We are officially 10 days away from Coachella 2016! Get hype! With the festival beginning next weekend, there’s only so much time to preview artists for this year’s event. I seriously hope you’ve been listening to your favorite Coachella 2016 acts for the last several weeks or more because it’s so much better when you know all of the songs during a set instead of a couple. I have more tunes for your Coachella prep this week and an in depth preview of an EDM DJ that I briefly spoke about in my Coachella 2016 lineup release post.

Matoma a.k.a. Tom Stræte Lagergren is an EDM DJ and producer from Filsa, Norway. He was involved in music from a young age as a classical pianist, but eventually wanted to get into some different aspects of music. After buying a computer and software for basic music production, he started producing his own music. He came on to the club scene in 2014 with a few remixes, but his biggest hit so far has been his remix of The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Old Thing Back”. The remix was a charted single in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and New Zealand. Since then, Matoma released his debut album, Hakuna Matoma, in November 2015 and has created plenty more remixed songs.

Matoma’s music fits into a particular category on the EDM spectrum, tropical house. Tropical house music is a subgenre of deep house and ultimately house music. The music uses synth and a 4/4 beat which is standard for house music. What sets it apart is the more uplifting, relaxing, airy type of sound. The instruments used have that island vibe hence the “tropical” aspect of it. It’s also a bit slower than deep house and doesn’t have the pumping beat associated with house music.

As I said in my earlier blog post, I first heard of Matoma because of his “Old Thing Back” remix. It was one of the first EDM style song in addition to RAC’s music that I actually enjoyed. I don’t listen to Matoma’s other stuff at all, but if I were heading out to Coachella this year, I would definitely want to catch his set strictly because his music fits the Coachella vibe perfectly. In fact, the tropical house style is the genre that captures the essence of Coachella best.

Matoma plays Coachella on Saturday. The set times and stages haven’t been announced yet, but my perfect version of a Matoma set would be as the sun is setting on an outdoor stage. With the palm trees, desert breeze, and the ambiance of the entire festival, I feel like that would be the perfect setting for his music. He’ll probably just end up in the Sahara tent though. Either way, I have a feeling his set will be fun, chill, and filled with dancing. To get you ready for the Matoma set, here’s a few tunes you should know:

  1. Old Thing Back (Matoma remix)
  2. Find Love (feat. Dboy)
  3. Running Out
  4. Knives
  5. The Wave (feat. Madcon)
  6. 2 AM (Matoma remix)
  7. Stick Around (with Akon)
  8. Feeling Right (Everything Is Nice) (feat. Wale and Popcaan)

Coachella Band Preview: Rancid

It’s April 1st and Coachella is no joke 2 weeks away! I feel like there’s a bunch more bands to preview but I may only do 1 or 2 more after today. Bummer! I know! But it’s okay cause Coachella is soooo soon! Last year at Coachella there were a couple bands playing the festival that I would consider “old school” as far as my music taste goes. I guess by my definition that means I used to listen to them in high school. Brand New and Bad Religion fit that spectrum last year. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and Desaparecidos even gave off that “old school” feel too, especially with Andrew McMahon playing a Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate song during his set and Connor Oberst shredding guitar on stage with his new band. This year the band that falls into the “old school” category is a punk rock band who has been in existence since the early 90’s. They’re called Rancid and I’m sure you may have heard of them before.

Formed in 1991, Rancid hails from Berkeley, California. The group is composed of Tim Armstrong (guitar and vocals), Matt Freeman (bass and vocals), Lars Frederiksen (guitar and vocals), and Brandon Steineckert (drums). Steineckert replaced original member Brett Reed in 2006. In the 90’s, Rancid was part of the revival of mainstream punk rock along with bands like Green Day and The Offspring. Since their inception the band has released 8 studio albums, splits, compilations, extended plays, and online-only live albums. Their self-titled first album was released all the way back in 1993 under Epitaph Records. Their breakthrough came from their third album, …And Out Come the Wolves, which was released in 1995. The singles “Time Bomb” and “Ruby Soho” became synonymous with the band. In 2003, after the band released their sixth studio album, Indestructible, they even received a bit of backlash from fans. It was the first time that the independent band released an album that was distributed by a major label (Warner Bros.) and fans believed the group became sell-outs. The album was met with mixed reactions from fans who believed the album sounded more “poppy” than normal. After that the band went on hiatus for 2 years and didn’t release another studio album until 2009. Their latest album, …Honor Is All We Know, was released in September 2014.

Rancid is about as punk rock as you can get. They do have some roots in ska though since both Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman were part of influential ska band Operation Ivy. You can actually hear that ska sound in several of their songs including one of their most well known  and one of my personal favorite songs “Time Bomb”. Their sound in general is pretty distinct as well. Despite that more “poppy” album even the songs on their latest album have that same punk rock sound we’ve heard over the years.

I first heard of Rancid while I was in high school. According to my iTunes, I downloaded my first Rancid song a little over 9 years ago. I was never a huge Rancid fan during that time, but with my love for punk rock, pop-punk, and ska, I always enjoyed an occasional song. “Time Bomb” and “Fall Back Down” were and still are my two favorite songs. Despite not listening to punk rock music that often anymore, I’ll always appreciate Rancid because they influenced plenty of bands that I listened to in high school and college.

Unless I missed something in my research, 2016 will be Rancid’s first ever appearance at Coachella, which I find hard to believe given the band’s 25 year existence (you can correct me if I’m wrong). Guns N’ Roses may be a headliner but Rancid is just as legendary in their scene. If you’re into that sort of legendary band thing, liked punk rock in high school like me, or still like punk rock, Rancid is a band to see at the festival. They play Sunday. It’s tough to give you some prep recommendations because of the countless songs the band has, but here’s a few of my faves:

  1. Time Bomb
  2. Fall Back Down
  3. Maxwell Murder
  4. Ruby Soho
  5. California Sun
  6. You Don’t Care Nothin’
  7. As Wicked

Coachella Band Preview: Years & Years, Halsey, Cold War Kids, & The 1975

Coachella Weekend 1 is 23 days away, which means 3 more weeks! I only have 3 weeks left and so many more bands to preview. That’s why this week I’m combining 4 bands into one preview since I covered them each in depth on the blog before. They are Years & Years, Halsey, Cold War Kids, & The 1975. You’ll notice links on the names of each band to their respective blog posts for a little more background information, but for now I’m just going to give a simple breakdown/recap on each.

Years & Years is a band I started listening to near the end of summer. They’re kind of on that EDM spectrum, but can also be considered pop, indie pop, or synth pop. Since I wrote about them in the summer, the group has toured the U.S. and booked several music festivals along with Coachella this summer. They’ll also be supporting fellow Coachella act Ellie Goulding on tour this spring. As a somewhat newer band (their first full length album was just released last year), it’ll be their first time playing the Coachella festival. They play Friday.

I also started listening to Halsey around the same time I started listening to Years & Years. Halsey is a pop/electropop/indie pop singer. As I mentioned in my prior blog post on the artist, she has a comparable sound to Lorde but lyrically is comparable to Lana Del Rey. Since writing about Halsey, she released her debut album, Badlands, and like Years & Years also toured performing in venues throughout the U.S. She will perform for her first time in the Indio desert this year as well. Her set is on Saturday.

Both Cold War Kids and The 1975 are no strangers to Coachella. The 1975 played Coachella for the first time in 2014 and are making their big return this year following the release of their sophomore album, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It. Since writing about the indie pop/indie rock band from the UK in early December 2015, they released their new album at the end of February. It debuted at the number one spot on both the UK Albums Chart and the Billboard 200 in the U.S. They play Sunday and I anticipate them drawing a decent sized crowd, especially now that they’re playing more of a headlining role compared to their last Coachella appearance. Cold War Kids on the other hand will be playing Coachella for the third time. They first played the festival in 2008, but haven’t performed there since 2011. There was actually some speculation that they might have been on last year’s lineup, but as you know that didn’t happen. Since I wrote about these alternative rock/indie rock music vets in the fall, they haven’t been up to much besides touring. However the band announced last week via instagram that lead guitarist Dann Gallucci was parting ways with the group and will be replaced by David Quon. I’m sure he’ll be in the mix when the group takes the stage on Sunday.

As you already know, I like all these acts and I recommend seeing each one’s performance at Coachella. With Sunday’s strong lineup of acts, it might be tougher to make the Cold War Kids set or The 1975 set due to conflicts, but there’s less likely to be conflicting issues with seeing Halsey and Years & Years. To make sure you’re ready to see each band/artist’s performance though, here are my top three favorite songs by each (you can check my original blog posts on these 4 for more recommendations):

Years & Years

  1. Border
  2. King
  3. Shine

Halsey

  1. New Americana
  2. Drive
  3. Hold Me Down

Cold War Kids

  1. Miracle Mile
  2. First
  3. Hang Me Up To Dry

The 1975 (** but really check out their whole second album too!**)

  1. The Sound
  2. Girls
  3. Chocolate

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

 

Coachella Band Preview: The Chainsmokers

April 15th, Day 1 of Weekend 1 of Coachella 2016, is one month and 4 days from today. It’s the home stretch since the tickets officially went on sale and the lineup was released in January. This week’s preview features two EDM DJ’s who’ve been making their mark in music since their inception in 2012. If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’m not an EDM fan at all. I typically follow the indie music scene. It seems recently though that I’ve been contradicting myself when it comes to EDM. I actually do like the occasional electronic/digital dance song. When I do hear a song I like though, the music has indie roots, which is the case for some music by this week’s preview duo, The Chainsmokers.

The Chainsmokers are made up of DJ’s Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall. The duo started playing club shows together in September 2012 in New York City. Their indie band remixes are what first gained them attention as well as their original songs “Erase” feat. Priyanka Chopra and “The Rookie”. What gained the duo worldwide attention was the release of their single “#Selfie” in late 2013-early 2014. Since then they’ve collaborated with various bands/artists on several original songs and released their first EP, Bouquet, in October 2015. Their debut album is due out some time this year and the first single from the album, “Don’t Let Me Down” feat. Daya, was released in February.

Their music is obviously EDM (electronic dance music), as I stated before, but can also be considered dance, house, club, electro house, or progressive house. As I also said, they do have indie roots as noted from their remixes and I think it shows in several of their original tracks. That’s why I actually like a few of their songs despite not being an overall EDM fan.

I first heard of The Chainsmokers because of “#Selfie”. I hated the song. I still do. I’ve actually never listened to the whole song because I think it’s pretty stupid. In fact, I barely realized “#Selfie” was a Chainsmokers song until I started researching the group for this blog post. I thought I first heard The Chainsmokers in September of 2015, but I guess that’s when I actually got interested in some of their music. Thanks to recommendations from my favorite soccer player’s monthly playlists I heard several of the duo’s remixes and their song “Roses” feat. ROZES. It took me a few times hearing “Roses” to get into the song but eventually I got hooked. Within the past few months, I added a few more of their songs to my Spotify playlists.

This year marks the first time The Chainsmokers will play Coachella. After seeing the crowds that EDM sets draw last year, there’s no doubt that The Chainsmokers set will see a huge crowd at this year’s annual music festival. The only conflict would be is if another big EDM act plays at the same time. They play Sunday along with fellow EDM acts, Major Lazer, KSHMR, Flume, and headliner Calvin Harris. Supposedly their sets are wild, fun, and a giant party-like atmosphere that reflect the personalities of both Taggart and Pall. The set will most likely be filled with energy. To get you prepped, here’s a few of their songs:

  1. Roses (feat. ROZES)
  2. #Selfie
  3. Don’t Let Me Down (feat. Daya)
  4. Kanye (feat. sirenXX)
  5. Until You Were Gone (with Tritonal feat. Emily Warren)
  6. The Rookie
  7. Let You Go (feat. Great Good Fine Ok)
  8. New York City (feat. Victoria Zaro)
  9. Erase (feat. Priyanka Chopra)
  10. Split (Only U) (with Tiësto)

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