coachella valley arts and music festival 2016

Flume

This weekend I’m volunteering at the Sweetlife Music Festival in Columbia, MD, which is right outside of the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area. The festival is sponsored by the organic health food chain sweetgreen and focuses on both music and food under the belief of combining passion with purpose. I attended the festival 2 years ago when Foster the People and Lana Del Rey headlined. It was a blast despite the constant rain drizzle for most of the day and the monsoon that happened as Foster the People played “Coming of Age”. As a perk of volunteering, I get to attend the festival for free when I’m not working my shift. In my opinion, the lineup isn’t as good as it was in 2014. At the time I applied to volunteer, I only listened to two of the artists on a normal basis. That changed a few weeks ago. After listening to some Spotify playlists, I discovered a new tune by an Australian DJ who also happened to play Coachella this year. So yes, I probably could’ve done a Coachella Band Preview on this guy. I discovered him around the time the festival was happening though, so it was too late by then. Luckily he’s playing Sweetlife this weekend. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch his set because he seems to be all the rage this summer.

Flume, aka Harley Edward Streten, out of Sydney, Australia, first came onto the electronic scene in 2011 after he won a music competition managed by Australian record company, Future Classic. Upon winning, he signed a record deal and released his debut self-titled album on November 9, 2012 in Australia. The album reached the number one spot on the ARIA (Australia Recording Industry Association) Albums Chart. The American release of the album happened in February of 2013. That same year he headlined his first tour in Australia and played SXSW (South by Southwest) in Austin, Texas. He was named one of Fuse TV’s 30 “Must-See Acts” at the annual Texas music and film festival. 2013 also brought the DJ 4 wins at the ARIA Music Awards in the categories of Best Male Artist, Breakthrough Artist – Release, Best Dance Release, and Producer of the Year. In 2014, Flume toured internationally which included some stops on the festival circuit at Coachella and Lollapalooza. This year, after playing Coachella for the second time, Flume has the release of his sophomore album planned for May 27th. He also recently announced a World Tour which kicks off in New Zealand in July. The tour consists of stops in North America, Europe, and Australia. Tickets for the North American leg went on sale today and many dates already seemed to be sold out. It’s a hot ticket this summer for sure.

As an electronic music producer, Flume’s music fits the EDM spectrum. It’s primarily electronica, but it does have a hip hop influence. There’s tons of focus on beats in his songs. It also has this relaxed, chill feel to it so that despite the beats his tracks are much more toned down than upbeat dance/club/house music.

Like I said, I only started listening to a few of his songs a couple weeks ago, which was too late for a preview for Coachella. Apparently though, his Coachella set was incredible. If the ticket sales for this upcoming tour are any indication, he’s a must see artist right now. Hopefully my shift doesn’t overlap with his set so I can catch what might be one of the best sets of the festival. Crossing my fingers right now. If you feel like checking him out, here are a few songs you should listen to:

  1. Sleepless
  2. Holdin’ On
  3. Say It (feat. Tove Lo)
  4. Never Be Like You (feat. Kai)
  5. Drop the Game
  6. Insane
  7. This Song Is Not About A Girl
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Coachella Survival Tips

As you know, Coachella begins this weekend. As you also know (if you’ve followed my blog), I attended Coachella last year for the first time. Sure this doesn’t make me a Coachella veteran at all. In fact, I didn’t even camp out like many festival-goers who attend the annual event in the Indio desert. All that aside, I still feel like I can offer some tips for first timers attending the festival and staying at hotel nearby (sorry campers!) based on my experience.

1. Figure out which bands are must-see acts once the schedule gets released. Every year Coachella releases the lineup schedule a few days prior to Weekend 1 of the festival. Good news for you, it was released earlier today. Check out the times of the bands you want to see and note them in your phone or on the Coachella app, which I believe has a feature you can use to keep track of your favorite acts. Also make note of the stages (and locate the stages!). Sometimes bands may be playing on stages close enough together that you can catch half of one set then half of another set. Many times you’ll find that two of the bands/acts you want to see are playing at the same time, especially if the day is stacked with your favorite talent (Sia vs. The Chainsmokers on Sunday night). If that’s the case you’ve gotta make a choice, or like I said maybe you can do the half and half thing. If your favorite acts aren’t coming on until later in the day, sleep in and head to the festival later too. Last year on both Saturday and Sunday we went to the festival a few hours later than when gates opened because the acts we wanted to see weren’t coming on til late afternoon. After exploring the festival in full on Friday, it got boring waiting around til whatever time the next band we wanted to see came on. We adjusted accordingly for the next two days. Always allow yourself enough time to arrive though because sometimes security gets increased and it takes longer to enter the festival grounds.

2.  Get merch the first day. If you want a t-shirt, poster, or other special merch from the festival, don’t wait around til Sunday to hit up the merch stand. They will run out of your size and you’ll have way less options. Last year we hit up the merch stand immediately after we walked in on Friday (along with the Ferris Wheel, which is another good thing to do the first day, if you plan on riding). We were able to get the Coachella t-shirts we wanted and I was able to get Coachella socks from the artsy-ish building next to the merch stand. On Sunday, I decided I was going to get my uncle a t-shirt for buying me dinner the night before we flew out for the festival. Many of the tees I liked for him were unavailable in his size, so I settled for what was left. If you’re wondering, yes the line is long on Friday. It may take a little while and you may get hot and sweaty from being in the crowded line, but it will all be worth it when you have solid proof of your Coachella attendance.

3. Eat a big meal before you come to the festival. There’s both advantages and disadvantages to this. Sure at some point you’re going to get hungry while you’re at the festival. There really are so many delicious options to choose from, but lines can be long and the food is expensive, like $10 for a personal pizza expensive. Last year we went out to eat each day before the festival. It helped save money and time. The disadvantage: you don’t get to sample all the cool, creative vendors Coachella has to offer, unless of course, you want to over stuff yourself. By going out to eat before getting to the festival, we were filled for most of the day. Then, later on, we got something if we felt hungry. In this way, we only dealt with the long lines and expensive food once a day or so.

4. Stay hydrated. Coachella is in the desert. It’s hot in the desert. During the day temps can be in the 90’s to over 100 degrees. It’s important to drink plenty of fluids at the festival even if you don’t feel thirsty. By fluids, I don’t just mean alcohol either, but its even more important to stay hydrated if you’re choosing to drink, especially in the day. You don’t wanna pass out or end up in a hospital. Water at Coachella is cheap. It’s $2 per bottle. There’s also water stations where you can refill your bottle. Pro tip: The water in the refilling stations is extremely warm, so I only recommend this if you’re broke or desperate. One cool thing I discovered last year is that they sold fresh fruit waters at the festival. There was pineapple and watermelon water. These waters are awesome. Buy one if you feel like splurging a little on hydration. The benefit to these waters though is that when you finish the water you have a cup of ice left so you can easily refill your cup from a station and not have piss warm water. By doing this you’ll get your money’s worth and necessary hydration.

5. Wear sunscreen. Besides the fact that it gets super hot in the desert. It’s also clear and sunny about 97% of the time (this is a made up number, but it seems accurate) in Southern California, especially in the desert. Those rays are strong. Sunscreen is a necessity if you don’t want to turn into a tomato or end up in a lot of pain anytime someone touches or bumps into you. Apply daily before you hit up the festival. I also believe you’re allowed to bring sunscreen into the grounds, but apply before regardless. You may forget about sunscreen once you arrive with all the distractions the festival has to offer.

6. Bring a sweatshirt/jacket. For as hot as it is in the day time, it can get about 30 degrees cooler each night. Before my first day at the festival last year, I decided to bring a backpack with a sweatshirt inside for night time. I wore a tank top and shorts. I didn’t believe I would need the sweatshirt at night because even with the temp dropping 30 degrees it would still be in the mid to upper 60’s. I figured I could handle that at night. Wrong. 60’s in the desert with a breeze each night is freezing, especially when your body is adjusting from a hot 90 degree day. If I was watching a set in a giant crowd it was less chilly, but standing in an open space in front of the main stage….brrrrr. Even standing in crowds I was slightly chilled and wore my sweatshirt. Some people even bring pants to wear at night. You know how well your body handles different temps though. Prep for what you need, but like I said, bring a covering of some sort for later.

7. Charge your phone each night. You know it and I know it. You’re going to use your phone a lot at Coachella. Whether it’s to check set times, take selfies with friends or pics of the art installations and festival scenes, post to social media, or send out texts and snapchats, your phone will get a lot of use. Many people bring their phone cords to recharge at the festival. As I found out last year though, those recharging stations don’t always work. You can always bring a portable recharger (which you’ll have to charge), or you can try to conserve battery when you’re not using your phone. Pro tip: Put your phone in airplane mode (I did this several times last year). I’ve also noticed that newer iPhones have a feature called Low Power Mode that you can turn on. There’s plenty of ways to keep your battery charged when you’re not on your phone at the festival. To be safe though, charge it every night. Start with 100% battery power each day and hopefully you make it through the day before you return to your nightly accommodations.

8. Find a meeting spot. I read this several times when I was prepping for my first Coachella. With the amount of people in such a small space at Coachella the cell service can be poor. If you lose your group of friends or plan to separate, it’s good to have a meeting spot. I actually believed I lost my cousin for a brief time last year on the last night of the festival during Florence and the Machine’s set. I wanted to be close for the set. Her back was sore so she wanted to sit further back and relax. We decided we would meet to the right of the last sound tower after the set was over. I had some issues with getting close. The set was more crowded than I anticipated and I wasn’t having fun. I decided to walk back and sit with my cousin but she wasn’t at our meeting spot. My cell service was spotty at that time due to the large amount of people at the set (people were arriving for Drake afterwards too). I couldn’t reach her. I had no idea where she went. Fortunately we found each other before the set was over because a few of my messages finally sent. After that experience, I understood the need for a meeting spot.

9. Take the shuttle. Since I’m writing this post for people who aren’t camping, I recommend you take a shuttle to the festival each day. Taking a shuttle is less of a hassle than driving. Last year we had a travel package that included rooms, wristbands, and shuttle passes. If you don’t have a packaged deal and are staying at a hotel, I recommend buying a shuttle pass. The shuttles take you directly to the festival and directly back. There’s different shuttle lines to different hotels. You don’t have to worry about parking, finding your car, getting too drunk, or even just keeping track of your car keys. Each day it took about an hour to arrive by shuttle from the moment we decided to leave our room until we were inside the festival gates. Of course travel time depends on where your hotel is relative to the festival. Ours was about 13 miles away. We never had to wait in a huge line for a shuttle either. Maybe that was because we arrived and left at non-peak moments. If you’re staying at a rented house, a hotel that’s not part of a direct shuttle line, an AirBnB, or some other type of nearby accommodation, find the closest shuttle line and walk or drive to it. Sure the driving part might defeat the purpose a bit, but you still won’t have to drive as far, worry about parking or finding your car, and you’ll have a bit of time to sober up on your ride back. A shuttle is the way to go.

10. Arrive early to get a good spot at a set. If you have a favorite band or artist you want to see up close, arrive to the set early to work your way to the front. Actually, arrive a set or two before your favorite act comes on that way when people leave the earlier set(s) you can work your way up as people in front of you disperse. No one likes a person who tries to push to the front at the last minute. You don’t want to be that person. Plus majority of attendees aren’t fortunate enough to have a V.I.P. pass that gives you access to special V.I.P. viewing areas at most stages. You have to get a good spot the old fashioned way. Arrive early and move up. If you’re desperate to try to see a headliner up close, come 2-3 sets early. I realize this isn’t always possible because there’s other bands you want to see. Just do your best and make sacrifices if you have to. Trust me when I say, even if you’re in the back and you can barely see the artist on stage, you’ll be able to hear the music, you’ll know if there’s any surprise appearances, and most importantly, you’re at fucking Coachella! There’s so many people who would love to be in your spot. Just soak in the atmosphere, the moment, and all the good vibes. Sing out loud. Dance your heart out. Be kind to others. Make new friends. Be young. Be wild. Be free. And have fun! Coachella is one of the best and most well-known music festivals in the world, so enjoy every second.

And with that last tip, that’s all I have to offer for Coachella 2016. Let’s get this year’s party started! Until next year…

Happy Coachella!

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