dance music

Notes On A Conditional Form: Album Review

In a time where there’s not much in the immediate future to look forward to, we thankfully still have music. New albums and songs are still being released. Some releases may have been delayed, but they’re still happening this year. For an industry that’s been crushed by this world wide crisis, it offers a glimmer of hope and an abundance of jams.

Today, The 1975 dropped their highly anticipated fourth album, Notes On A Conditional Form. The album release was twice delayed already this year, but every few weeks a new single from the album was released in the lead up to this weekend’s official release. To me, this feels like The 1975’s most ambitious album to date. Stylistically, it crosses genres, yet still maintains the indie/synth pop sound well associated with The 1975.

An inkling of this genre breach happened when the band dropped one of the new album’s first songs, “People.” The track sounds more like a punk rock/hardcore anthem than anything you’ve ever heard from The 1975 in the past. I remember being pleasantly surprised with the vibe of the new song as someone who grew up listening to punk and hardcore music, but I still questioned where the band was going with it. As more songs were released, I was assured that their new album would be full of stylistic surprises.

In early April, The 1975 released the song “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America,” which features indie folk rock artist, Phoebe Bridgers, who was supposed to join the band on their 2020 tour until it was inevitably postponed. The song is a testament to Bridgers’ folk rock style. The only thing that gives it away is Matty Healy’s vocals, but even Healy’s sound succumbs to the song style. “Playing on My Mind” also has that indie folk feel.

“Roadkill,” which wasn’t released prior to the full album, sounds like it could’ve come off a Sam Hunt record. It’s got an unmistakable country twang. Despite the country vibe, it still feels like a 1975 indie pop song. I kind of love it. There’s also a few interlude tracks on the record that bridge into another genre as well. These songs take the standard synth pop sound of the band into a more electronic sound. “Shiny Collarbone” and about halfway through “Having No Head” are those dance tracks.

The album is full of songs that sound like what you would expect from The 1975 too. There’s several bangers like “Me & You Together Song”, “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)”, and “Frail State of Mind” and smooth rock ballads like “Guys”, “The Birthday Party”, “Don’t Worry”, and “Nothing Revealed/Everything Denied.” It’s honestly such a great mix of music.

Like I said, this album feels different than what we’re used to from The 1975, but it blends genres remarkably well and still gives us the sound that we’re looking for. It may have taken me an album to actually get into The 1975 (I really got into them after “The Sound” from I like it when you sleep…), but I’ve been a fan ever since. I’ve always really been into their hits. “The Sound” (obviously), “Sex”, “Heart Out”, “Chocolate”, and “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” are a few of my favorites. This new album feels different in a good way though and even the songs I don’t typically fall for, I love. I think if you’re an indie music fan or a music fan in general, you can find something on this record that you’ll like. It’s got something for everyone. But really, you might just love it all, it’s that good. So give it a shot. If you don’t find it appealing, my solution is that maybe you would like it better if you took off your clothes. (Of course, that one is my favorite!)

Music’s Got Me Feeling So Free

Couchella Weekend 1 was a huge success. The documentary was fantastic and a great reminder of happier times both in the past and to come. I learned a lot about Coachella from it. I watched it each day of what would have been Coachella 2020 Weekend 1 including a special Friday premiere viewing party with a few of my Coachella coworkers. I decorated the room a bit to feel like Coachella and trust me it kind of did. It helped me separate from the outside world much like actually working a festival does. It also introduced me to new music, which is what I need to write about today. I mean new as in the sense of I wasn’t really into the music before last weekend because this group has been around since the 90’s. Their set in 2006 was very notable in the history of Coachella and that group is Daft Punk.

The French electronic music duo Daft Punk was formed in 1993. After their lack of success in the punk band Darlin’ (which also included Laurent Brancowitz of Phoenix), Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter created Daft Punk. They went in a different direction musically, after being introduced to the rave scene. The name “Daft Punk” came from a negative review of Darlin’ which referred to their music as “a daft punky thrash.” The group got their break at a rave in 1993 when they handed off a demo to Stuart McMillan of the Scottish electronic duo Slam. Slam had their own record label Soma.

The duo hired Pedro Winter to be their manager and signed with Virgin Records in 1996. In 1997 they released their highly anticipated debut album Homework, which included their earlier singles “Alive” and “Da Funk” along with “Around the World.” They released their second album Discovery in 2001. The album had a more of a synth-pop sound than what the group was known for from their debut album, but it lead Daft Punk to commercial success. The album reached the Top 10 in music charts throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the U.S. When performing during their earlier days, the duo would cover their faces with different masks. It wasn’t until Discovery came out that they adopted their robot alter egos.

In 2005, Daft Punk released their third album Human After All. Despite reaching high positions on music charts throughout the world, the album didn’t quite have the success that Discovery did. In the early 2000’s Daft Punk also got into the visual entertainment sector and released two films, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem in 2003 and Daft Punk’s Electroma in 2006. As I mentioned before, 2006 also brought Daft Punk to Coachella for their first and only Coachella appearance. They debuted their famous pyramid that they also used on tour that year.

In the years between their third and fourth album, the duo was again busy working on films, specifically the soundtrack for Disney’s Tron: Legacy. Then, they won their first Grammy in 2009 for Best Electronic/Dance Album for their live album Alive 2007. They also won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording for “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.”

On May 13, 2013 Daft Punk released their fourth studio album Random Access Memories. The album featured collaborations with Nile Rodgers of Chic, Pharrell Williams, and Julian Casablancas of The Strokes. The album became their most successful album to date with hits like “Get Lucky”, “Instant Crush”, and “Lose Yourself to Dance.” The record earned them peak positions on music charts worldwide as well as numerous accolades and awards including a Grammy for Album of the Year. In many countries the album has reached Platinum status or beyond. Daft Punk were also co-producers on Kanye West’s 2013 album Yeezus.

Since Random Access Memories and the few years that followed, Daft Punk has been relatively quiet. Their most notable project came in the form of collaboration with The Weeknd on his hit singles “Starboy” and “I Feel It Coming” in 2016. They’ve since been working on solo projects.

Daft Punk’s style of electronic music is very much house music. Through the years though, it’s varied album by album. It also incorporates elements of rock and disco. Personally I think Daft Punk’s music is ahead of its time, especially the album Discovery, but again I might not know that much about the history of electronic music since I’ve started listening to it only in the past few years.

I first learned of Daft Punk around the time of Random Access Memories due to the popularity of the album. I wasn’t a fan of their biggest hit song “Get Lucky” though. It was still at a point where I detested main stream music nor did I like EDM. I didn’t understand the hype and in the past few years as I got into electronic music, Daft Punk wasn’t really a name I heard often unless it involved headliner predictions for Coachella.

The Coachella documentary shed some light on Daft Punk for me. After watching the scene about their 2006 set, I thought to myself, “Wow this looked like a lot of fun! Maybe I should see what Daft Punk is about.” So I started listening to some of their stuff on Spotify. I realized I heard plenty of Daft Punk tracks over the years, but it was probably just background music for me. So I went through their discography and listened to tracks from all their albums. I listened to them while I attempted to cook my favorite dish from Coachella catering last weekend. It hit me that I’d been missing out on Daft Punk for a while now. I finally understood the hype. I’ve now become one of those people who hope Daft Punk is on every Coachella lineup. I would love to see them live. I want to see them live and I want to see them at Coachella.

With all the negative outlooks for the relatively near future, no one is sure when live music will be back, especially large-scale events like music festivals. Who knows when the next Coachella will happen, but when it does happen again it will likely be an epic event. In the mean time, I can always remind myself it took me 4 years to get to Coachella from when I first wanted to go. I can also do my best to take in Weekend 2 of what would have been Coachella 2020 as best as I can. I plan on watching the documentary each day of Weekend 2 just like I did during Weekend 1 and I also plan on watching some full Coachella sets from past years that I found online. I watched RÜFÜS DU SOL’s 2019 Weekend 1 set last weekend (I was actually at the set for the end half too!). This Weekend I have Dillon Francis’ 2019 set, Foster the People’s 2011 set, and yes, Daft Punk’s 2006 set because I found it in full on YouTube. I can’t wait to see how fun it actually was and I can’t wait for the day we’re all back at Coachella. Hopefully we’ll be listening to Daft Punk live one more time. It could happen. We could get lucky.

Coachella Band Preview: Jai Wolf

Greetings again from Mexico! I’m back for the second leg of the events I’m a part of here. However just because I’m here doesn’t mean the Coachella preparations have ceased. April is quickly approaching and it’s time to check out another artist playing the festival this year. This week it’s electronic artist Jai Wolf.

Jai Wolf, or Sajeeb Saha, is an electronic artist from Long Island, New York. He first started making tracks in 2011, but adopted the name Jai Wolf in 2014 to create a new sound from what he had been creating. The result earned him opportunities to remix artists such as Odesza and Alesso. He also created a remix of Skrillex’s “Ease My Mind”. Jai Wolf released his debut single “Indian Summer” in 2015. He released a follow-up single “Drive” in May of 2016, shortly before his debut EP Kindred Spirits was released in November. He finally released his debut album The Cure to Loneliness last year after years of touring and dropping singles.

Jai Wolf’s style of electronic music has a very dreamy sound. It combines electronica, pop, dance and indie music. His sound draws a lot of comparison to Odesza. It makes sense that the artists have toured together. I first found out about Jai Wolf in the summer of 2017 when a girl I had a crush on introduced me to him. I’ve been a casual listener ever since. I also have seen him perform once. It was part of his Made in America set in 2018.

This won’t be Jai Wolf’s first time at Coachella. He played the festival in 2017. That was clearly before I knew of him since I definitely haven’t previewed him before. In 2017, he played the Gobi Tent in the early evening. I’d expect a similar time this year, but in a bigger location. Maybe he plays Mojave or Sahara instead. This time around I plan on catching him. He plays on Saturday. Here are some Jai Wolf jams to help you prep for Indio:

  1. Indian Summer
  2. Starlight
  3. Moon Rider
  4. Lose My Mind
  5. Like It’s Over
  6. Lost
  7. Feels (Remix)
  8. Drive
  9. Telepathy
  10. Better Apart

Top Albums of the Decade

For the last few years, I’ve been ending each year with a list of my faves in music from the past year. I plan on doing it again but since 2019 is the last year in this decade I thought I’d also include a list of my favorite albums of the last 10 years. I definitely have a clear cut favorite and second favorite, but after those two, there’s really no particular order.

This list is defined by albums that I’ve listened to in full for days, weeks, months, or just repeatedly for no set amount of time. It’s a list of albums that I couldn’t get enough of. My two favorites on this list have been in my car since I bought them in 2011 and 2012. I still listen to them occasionally. You could probably chalk them up on the list of my favorite albums of all time, but the others are special to me as well.

So let’s get down to it. Here are my top 15 (plus a few honorable mentions!) favorite albums of the 2010’s:

Torches -Foster the People (2011)

My absolute, number one, favorite album and Foster the People’s debut album. I wrote once about how Foster the People really shaped the music I got into this decade going from being into punk/emo/alternative music to indie pop/indie rock. This album did it for me in 2011. Foster the People was a new, hype band on the music scene. They played SXSW and Coachella the spring before their first album dropped. When I got into them I learned about Coachella for the first time. So this band and album really shaped a lot about this decade for me.

I’ve loved Torches from top to bottom since I purchased it in May 2011. “Helena Beat” was the first song that hooked me, but despite any criticism it’s received over the years, “Pumped Up Kicks” kept me around. It’s filled with other bangers like “Houdini” and “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)”, but it has plenty of underrated hits like “Call It What You Want”, “I Would Do Anything For You”, “Life on the Nickel” and “Warrant”. Since I bought a record player in 2012, I’ve been adamant about not purchasing records that I already have on CD. This month I broke that rule for this album. It’s one of my all-time favorite works of music and the best of this decade for me. It was about time that I own it on vinyl too.

Born to Die -Lana Del Rey (2012)

Born to Die is Lana Del Rey’s debut album. It came out in 2012 and I’ve loved it ever since. I listened to it constantly once I bought it. Like Torches, it’s the only other album that’s stayed in my car since I purchased it. I remember thinking Lana Del Rey and her music were completely ridiculous when I bought the album, but I fell into it and the rest of her music. It was the song “National Anthem” that convinced me. It’s still my favorite Lana Del Rey song to this day. “Diet Mountain Dew” was always another favorite of mine as well. Born to Die is filled with several other classics like “Born to Die” the title track, “Blue Jeans”, “Off to the Races”, “Video Games” the album’s first single, and Lana’s biggest hit “Summertime Sadness”. I’ll always love Pabst Blue Ribbon because of “This Is What Makes Us Girls” too.  This album was always on in my car for a few months in the summer of 2012. It got me into Lana Del Rey and she became one of my favorite artists of the decade as well.

Days Are Gone -HAIM (2013)

In early 2014, I discovered the sister trio band Haim. I decided to buy their debut album Days Are Gone because I liked their songs “Falling” and “Don’t Save Me”. I might have taken a risk on two songs but it was a great risk to take. I loved the album and had it in my car for quite some time. I really got into “The Wire”. I also loved “If I Could Change Your Mind”, “Forever”, “Honey & I”, and “Days Are Gone” in addition to the others I already liked.

I had Haim’s album in my car for a very long time as well. It ended up on repeat in my car once again in the summer of 2016 shortly before I saw them perform for the first time at my first Lollapalooza. It’s definitely an album I’ve loved a lot this decade and the reason why I’ve loved Haim a lot too.

An Awesome Wave -alt-J (2012)

Compared to the rest of the albums on this list An Awesome Wave is a little bit different for me. I got it on vinyl years after I started listening to the music on it. I also listened to each song at different points. It all started with “Breezeblocks” though. Pretty Little Liars actress Troian Bellisario posted about the song on social media and after listening once, I downloaded the song. Then a day later it was “Something Good”. Then “Fitzpleasure”, “Taro”, and “Tessellate”, in that order, through the course of 5 years. In the meantime, their second album This is All Yours came out and “Left-Hand Free” became my jam too. When I saw them perform at Coachella in 2018, I was with several co-workers when we all danced freely to “Dissolve Me”. By that point their third album Relaxer was already out as well. I got into “Dissolve Me” though and decided last year that it was time to own An Awesome Wave. I then completed listening to the album by getting into “Matilda”, “Ms”, “Bloodflood”, and “Hand-Made”.

An Awesome Wave really spanned the decade for me, but so did alt-J. I saw them play about 5 times over the last 5 years and it’s always been an enjoyable set every time. Their unique sound has always been a catch for me and I’m sure they’ll be releasing new music in this new decade before we know it.

21 -Adele (2011)

Up until I got into Adele’s album, 21, I despised pop music. The song “Rolling in the Deep” was the one that really got me interested in Adele. It was on a sampler CD from my local record store. I bought the album around the same time I bought Torches and both albums became the soundtrack to one of my favorite vacations of all time. I listened to both albums repeatedly on that early June trip to Williamsburg, Virginia and my love for Adele began.

Of course I was into 25 when it came out in late 2015 and 19 somewhere around that time, but it was 21 that made me feel okay with liking a pop artist again. I also just really liked the album. “Rumour Has It”, “Set Fire to Rain”, “Someone Like You”, “I’ll Be Waiting”, and “One and Only” are pretty great songs even though “Rolling in the Deep” always has my heart. 21 does too. It came out of the blue uninvited, but it came to stay.

Heartthrob -Tegan and Sara (2013)

I got into Tegan and Sara while I was still in college in 2009, but their album Heartthrob really made me a fan. It was the album that put them into the mainstream music world for a bit. I didn’t get into the album until a year after its release in 2014. I fell hard for it though. It became the soundtrack of another trip to Williamsburg, Virginia. The hit song “Closer” was the one that suckered me in. I got into so many others though like “I Was A Fool”, “I’m Not Your Hero”, “Drove Me Wild”, “Now I’m All Messed Up” and “Goodbye, Goodbye”. Heartthrob revitalized my interest in Tegan and Sara and I’ve been a bigger fan ever since because of it.

Pure Heroine -Lorde (2013)

I was introduced to Lorde in the summer of 2013 from her breakout song “Royals”. From there I also got into the song “Tennis Court” and “Bravado”. I remember anticipating her debut album during my first trip to California especially because of the line in “Tennis Court” that goes “pretty soon I’ll be getting on my first plane.” That flight to California wasn’t my first flight, but it was my first flight in 9 years. I purchased the album as soon as I got home from Cali. It was my go-to album for a few weeks as I got into several other tracks on the record like “400 Lux”, “Team”, “White Teeth Teens”, “Glory and Gore”, and “A World Alone”.

Sacred Hearts Club -Foster the People (2017)

In the last 10 years Foster the People solidified their spot as my favorite band. I remember being so excited for their second album after Torches but Supermodel didn’t quite live up to my expectations. After their sophomore release, it was then a few years of silence before the group released new tunes. 2017 was one of the best years in music of this decade for me. It was filled with great albums by plenty of my favorite bands and artists, which included Sacred Hearts Club by Foster the People.

Foster the People dropped three songs from the record in the spring “Pay the Man”, “Doing it For the Money”, and “SHC” and I listened to those three quite frequently until the album came out in July. When it did, I immediately fell in love with the song “Sit Next to Me”. I listened to it non-stop along with the rest of the album and songs like “Lotus Eater”, “Static Space Lover”, “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy”, and “I Love My Friends”. It was only about 2 weeks after the album dropped that I was able to see Foster the People live again at Lollapalooza (the last time I saw them was in 2014). They were incredible. I then bought tickets to see them play in Philly in September as a treat to myself after my position was cut from a festival I was supposed to work. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to and was filled with 2 full hours of music from my favorite band including the best encore that I could have ever imagined. I caught the set list too! I owe that night to Foster the People and Sacred Hearts Club.

Wild World -Bastille (2016)

When Bastille’s sophomore album dropped, I got into Bastille. Sure I knew about Bastille before that. There were a few songs I liked from Bad Blood. Some might even argue saying Bastille’s Bad Blood really set the tone for the band, but for me it was the second album Wild World. “Good Grief” and “Send Them Off!” were always my go-to songs, but “The Currents”, “Power”, “Warmth”, and “Blame” were great songs as well. I listened to the album for weeks. Bastille recently released their third album this year. Even though the album is great, it still doesn’t do for me what Wild World did.

Ultraviolence -Lana Del Rey (2014)

Lana Del Rey’s second album was highly anticipated for me after my love of Born to Die. In between the albums, she also released the EP Paradise which was another incredible compilation of music. When Ultraviolence came out, it successfully did for me what Foster the People’s Supermodel couldn’t and since both Foster the People and Lana Del Rey were my faves I expected the best from them. Ultraviolence gave me that. “Money Power Glory”, “Brooklyn Baby”, “Ultraviolence”, “West Coast”, and “Fucked My Way Up To The Top” were my favorites. The album picked up where Born to Die left off and that’s all you can really ask from a band or artist.

Melodrama -Lorde (2017)

I always knew Foster the People and Lana Del Rey would be on this list more than once, but who knew I liked Lorde so much? Melodrama was also an incredible follow-up album to Pure Heroine. Like Sacred Hearts Club, it was part of that 2017 wave of new music. Lorde released the first single “Green Light” in early March. That song got me stoked for the new album because it was an absolute banger. Then she dropped “Liability”. I hated the song at first. It took hearing the song live on the last night of Coachella Weekend 2 to make me fall in love with it. The album released 2 months later and I remember being so pleased with how good it was. “Homemade Dynamite”, “Perfect Places”, “Sober”, and “Supercut” added to my love for “Green Light” and “Liability” made the album a hit. I wasn’t the only one that thought so either since it was nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year.

Woodstock -Portugal. The Man (2017)

Who would have thought Portugal. The Man would have made a statement with their 8th album? They did though and it was the hit “Feel It Still” that did it. The entirety of Woodstock is fantastic though. In fact, I feel like “Feel It Still” is the song that doesn’t quite fit with the album. The first time I heard the song I thought it was Electric Guest but was shocked to find out it was in fact Portugal. The Man, whose song “People Say” was one of my favorites when I was a radio DJ in college. “Live in the Moment”, “Tidal Wave”, “Number One”, and “Keep On” are a few other great jams from Woodstock. The album left an impression and I’m sure we’ll be feeling it still even when Portugal. The Man releases more music.

El Camino -The Black Keys (2012)

The Black Keys had plenty of albums before El Camino and those albums, particularly its pre-cursor Brothers, were big in the indie rock music scene. El Camino is the album that got me into The Black Keys though. I got the album in 2012 and saw the band perform live two years later. “Lonely Boy” was the song that got me started on The Black Keys, but El Camino was full of hits like “Gold on the Ceiling”, “Little Black Submarine”, “Stop Stop” and “Dead and Gone”. I learned how to play a few of those on guitar too. The Black Keys haven’t stopped making music in the last decade and have released two albums since El Camino, the most recent being this year, but El Camino will always be special to me.

Heard It In A Past Life -Maggie Rogers (2019)

Last winter I debated buying this album on vinyl while I was listening to Maggie Rogers as part of my Coachella preparations. Ultimately I decided with the help of my instagram followers that I should buy the vinyl. I did and it was a great purchase. The debut album from Maggie Rogers is a thing of beauty. “Light On”, “Fallingwater”, “Give a Little”, “Alaska”, and “Burning” are incredible. Oh and there’s also “Back in My Body”, but I’ll get more into that song when I recap this past year. The album was one of my favorites of the last year and I was pretty shocked when it didn’t get a Grammy nomination. The album is still tops in my book and one of my favorites of the last decade.

This Is Happening -LCD Soundsystem (2010)

When I think about it, there’s only three words that can describe This Is Happening: “Dance Yrself Clean”. It was the song that got me into LCD Soundsystem a year after the “final” show at Madison Square Garden thanks to Suits actor Patrick J. Adams and Troian Bellisario (yes, again!). Over the years I got into LCD Soundsystem and their small-ish, but excellent discography. I never thought I’d be able to see the band until right before Christmas in 2015 when the band dropped a Christmas song, “Christmas Will Break Your Heart” (which I’ve actually listened to twice today) which sort of signified their return. A few weeks later they were on the Coachella lineup and officially back. They dropped a new album American Dream in 2017 and I was able to see them twice once they returned, at Lollapalooza in 2016 and at my favorite venue in Philly in 2017 with a friend who was actually at their “last” show.

Oddly enough, I don’t own This Is Happening in any form. It kind of doesn’t fit this list in that regard, except it’s kind of like An Awesome Wave. I’ve listened to all the songs on this album at different points over the last decade. “Drunk Girls” is one of my favorite LCD Soundsystem songs. “You Wanted A Hit” was the song I got into after seeing them play for the first time. Then there’s “I Can Change”, “Home” and “All I Want”, which I actually just got into recently. Over the last 10 years, LCD Soundsystem earned a special place in my heart, but I sort of owe that to This Is Happening.

Honorable Mentions:

The 1975 -The 1975 (2013)

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful -Florence + the Machine (2015)

AM -Arctic Monkeys (2013)

Without Fear -Dermot Kennedy (2019)

So there you have it. All my favorite albums from the last 10 years. Actually, there’s probably more, but these are the ones that stood out the most. Thanks to music for all that I love and thanks to these great bands and artists for putting amazing tunes into the world. I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years brings or where music will take me both personally and professionally. I can only hope for the best, but so far it’s been nothing short of incredible.

Coachella Band Preview: Maggie Rogers

We’re almost at the 1 month countdown until Coachella 2019 Weekend One. As per the usual, the hype for me is real! Over the last month or so, I periodically secured my travel plans to the point that I’m almost ready to go. I hope everyone else has done the same. Mostly I just hope you all have been focusing on the music. Today I’m previewing an artist I didn’t initially plan to write about when figuring out my previews. About a month ago, I watched this artist cover a Whitney Houston song on Youtube and I was shook.

Maggie Rogers, from Easton, Maryland, got involved in music from a young age. She played the harp, piano, and guitar while growing up in Easton. While in high school, she attended a Berklee College of Music summer program and won the program’s songwriting contest. She recorded her first album as a senior in high school at the ripe age of 18. She self-recorded her it, The Echo, in a broom closet. She released it in digital format back in 2012. Rogers released a second self-recorded digital album Blood Ballet in 2014 as a student at NYU. Her big “claim to fame” happened in 2016 though when she recorded the song “Alaska” for a master class with producer and artist Pharrell Williams. A video of Williams listening to the song went viral in June of 2016.

Rogers released her first EP Now That The Light Is Fading in February 2017. She began her touring career shortly before that and played the Jimmy Fallon Show in anticipation of her EP release. She also played several festivals in the summer of 2017 including stops at Firefly, Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, and Outside Lands. She continued touring and playing festivals into 2018 playing at Boston Calling, Governor’s Ball, Reading and Leeds. She also joined Mumford & Sons as the opening act on their Delta Tour in late 2018.

She recently released her debut studio album Heard It In a Past Life on January 18th, shortly after she was announced as part of the 2019 Coachella lineup. The album features her hit “Alaska” along with other singles “Light On”, “Fallingwater”, and “Give a Little”. I know it’s early but I’d expect Rogers to get a few Grammy nods in the coming year. She’s that good and her style is unique.

Speaking of that, Maggie Rogers style of music combines dance music, folk, R&B and pop. It’s more art pop than anything. She had a background in folk music, but got inspired by dance music during her college days. Her latest studio album definitely adds a more pop sound to her music though, yet it somehow still stays true to her musical roots. Her vocals aren’t overly powerful like you might hear from pop artists like Adele, Florence Welch, or Banks, but yet it’s still so beautiful. Her vocals are trance-like and dreamy similar to that of Lana Del Ray.

I first heard of Maggie Rogers when I saw that she was opening for Mumford & Sons. I worked one of their shows in December and they brought Maggie out to join them in their song “Awake My Soul”. From that performance I knew she had a killer sound but I didn’t really give her music a shot until hearing her cover Whitney Houston’s “I Want To Dance With Somebody”, which she truly made her own. I started listening to her the next day on Spotify and then purchased her studio debut on vinyl right before I left for my second trip to Mexico.

Maggie Rogers plays Saturday at Coachella on her first visit to the 20 year festival. For the second year in a row, Saturday’s lineup seems stacked. After selling out her headlining tour this spring, I’d expect her set to be late-day to evening on the Main or Outdoor Stage. Even as a Coachella debut artist, I expect her set to be packed. Regardless of the time or place, I’d get there early for a good spot. I need to listen to more Maggie Rogers just as much as you might at this point, so here’s what I’ve been listening to on repeat:

  1. Alaska
  2. On + Off
  3. Dog Years
  4. Light On
  5. Give A Little
  6. Fallingwater
  7. Overnight
  8. Burning
  9. The Knife
  10. Retrograde

(Honestly just listen to all of Heard It In a Past Life!)

Brighter Days: Album Review

I like to think that the spring of 2016 is when I started to get into electronic music even though I know it was a progressive interest up until that point. There were several songs I had been listening to in 2015 through the beginning of that year but it was in spring 2016 when I actually got into an electronic artist, Australian DJ, Flume. Like I said though, by that point I was listening to several electronic songs regularly. One of those was the hit “Sweet Lovin'” by British electronic artist, Sigala.

I sampled a song or two of Sigala’s other music, but really only took a liking to “Sweet Lovin'”. Interestingly enough, it helped me bond with a fellow co-worker when I worked my first music festival that summer and I actually caught part of Sigala’s set at it.

Flash forward a little over 2 years since then and Sigala’s debut album Brighter Days is out. It was released last weekend. I wasn’t even aware that he had a debut in the works, but after releasing new music over the last 3 years since he stepped onto the electronic scene, it was bound to happen.

Sigala, better known to the world as Bruce Fielder, from Norwich, Norfolk, England released his first single in 2015. The single includes samples from the Jackson 5’s “ABC”. It debuted at number 71 on the UK Singles Chart, then hit number 1 the following week. Sigala’s second single “Sweet Lovin'” reached number 3 on the chart. In 2016, Sigala began touring. He played shows and festivals throughout Europe with three appearances in the United States, Ultimate Music Experience, Ultra Music Festival, and Firefly Music Festival. He continued touring mostly in Europe in 2017 and 2018 as well. In fact his appearances at Ultimate, Ultra, and Firefly mark his only U.S. appearances to date.

His first full length album Brighter Days came out last week on September 28th. The album features 16 tracks and includes many of his singles from the last few years like, “Easy Love”, “Sweet Lovin'”, “Say You Do”, “Give Me Your Love”, “Came Here For Love”, “Lullaby”, “Feels Like Home”, and “We Don’t Care”. Every song on the album is one that makes you want to dance. Sigala’s signature house/trop house/dance-pop style is evident on each track. The new album already features a few new bangers like latest single “Just Got Paid” featuring Ella Eyre, Meghan Trainor, and French Montana and “Ain’t Giving Up” featuring Craig David.

Sigala is briefly touring in the UK this month in support of his debut’s release, but there’s no doubt that the release should bring more touring for the English producer. Hopefully he’ll be back in the states soon and I’ll have another opportunity to check him out. I’m proud to say that I was at one of his only U.S. appearances to date. I only stuck around for a few songs though so seeing him again would be amazing, especially since I got more into his music after I last saw him perform. Sigala is definitely one of my favorite electronic artists so I’m telling you now to go check out his first album before he’s appearing in a city near you! It’s great music to dance to, chill to, drive to, and especially work out to. It has kept “me coming cause it’s all that I need” so it’s safe to say that it might for you too and you won’t be disappointed!

 

The Film Playlist: We Are Your Friends

While at my cousin’s house over the weekend, we watched another movie that easily makes The Film Playlist. It’s been a while since I wrote about a movie for this series so let me explain. The Film Playlist is a blog series I started about movies that are about music. It’s been about a year since I added anything to it, but as soon as we started watching We Are Your Friends this past weekend, I knew I had to write about it this week.

The 2015 drama stars Zac Efron, Wes Bentley, Emily Ratajkowski, Shiloh Fernandez, Alex Shaffer, and Jonny Weston. It was written by Max Joseph and Meaghan Oppenheimer based off a story by Richard Silverman. Joseph also directed the film which marked his directorial debut. The movie is about an electronic music DJ named Cole Carter (Efron) who is trying to work his way up in the music industry. It’s also partly a coming of age story because Cole and his friends are young adults trying to figure out their lives in the midst of partying at night clubs, selling drugs, and being part of the electronic music scene. While booked to play a gig at a club one night, Cole meets the headliner, who was once a hot commodity in the electronic music world, James Reed (Bentley). Reed in a way becomes a mentor for Cole once he realizes his talent and helps Cole to understand how to create music that doesn’t sound like every other electronic song.

As soon as we started watching this film Friday night, I knew I would love it. The plot is average though. It’s nothing out of the ordinary or exceptional. I strictly loved it for the fact that it was about music and electronic music in particular. I’ve never seen another film that surrounds the electronic music scene. It was cool to see scenes about creating electronic music and also scenes featuring EDC Vegas, which is an electronic music festival done by one of the leading electronic festival promoters Insomniac Events. The soundtrack for the film was excellent. Its feature track “We Are Your Friends” by Justice featuring Simian is where the film got its title from. It also features songs by Years and Years with Gryffin, AlunaGeorge with Tchami, Seinabo Sey with Kygo and Deorro ft. Erin McCarley.

If you’re expecting an award winning film, that’s not what We Are Your Friends is. It’s really just a fictional coming of age film that surrounds the electronic music industry. If you’re at all into electronic music, I suggest you check it out. It’s a film you don’t have to think much about and can purely enjoy, especially if you have a love for music, especially electronic music.

American Dream: Album Review

Summer 2017 has almost reached its conclusion. There’s only a few weeks left, but after Labor Day, pumpkin spice lattes are all the rage, temps start decreasing, and sweaters and flannels cover the upper torsos of most. Summer isn’t officially over until September 22nd, but still we’re less than a month away.

That being said this summer was epic for both me and the rest of the music world. I worked all over the country, had amazing experiences, made new friends, and strengthened relationships with old friends. It was incredible. It was also incredible because a plethora of new albums were released this summer by so many of my favorite bands and artists. Before the end of summer though, there’s one more highly anticipated album that was just released. The album was a long time coming for NYC alternative dance band, LCD Soundsystem. So after 7 long years, an apparent break-up, a final show at Madison Square Garden and a film to tell its tale, a Christmas song, and a comeback no one ever thought was happening, American Dream is here.

American Dream is the 4th full length album from James Murphy and his posse. This album is more melodious than their previous works, yet it combines the great electronic/techno indie dance style that LCD Soundsystem is known for. If you’re looking for that classic LCD sound, look to the songs “tonite”, “call the police”, “emotional haircut”, and “other voices”. Songs like “change yr mind” and “how do you sleep?” combine a dance style with more melody, as they both start slow and build to a pace where you’re able to get into the groove.

LCD Soundsystem records have been known to include a slower song or something with more melody on more than one occasion. “New York I Love, But You’re Bringing Me Down” or “All I Want” are perfect examples of this. Each are on separate albums though. The latest from LCD Soundsystem incorporates 4 of these kind of tracks with “oh baby”, “i used to”, “american dream”, and “black screen”. “i used to” and “black screen” remind me of songs I’d hear from bands like Brand New or Circa Survive. They have an alternative rock/post-hardcore feel where all that’s missing is Murphy adding some screaming to his vocals. “oh baby” and “american dream” are filled with love, longing, and nostalgia lyrics reminiscent to the waltz style track “New York I Love You…”.

Normally I hate when bands change their sound, but in this case LCD Soundsystem hasn’t really changed much. They’re still playing the same style of music that made them famous in the mid to late 00’s. They’re just progressing. They got older even though they were never that young to begin with. They’re the same, but new. Anyway, to me, this record is one that no one ever thought they’d hear and LCD Soundsystem is back with a vengeance.

I urge you to check out this album. I first started listening to LCD Soundsystem in 2012 (yes after they broke up!) but fell in love with them all over again last summer after preparing for and seeing them live at Lollapalooza. They’re different than most bands I’m into and most bands you might listen to, but they combine an EDM style of music with an indie style. You just can’t help but want to dance yrself clean when you listen to them.

Almost every show on their upcoming tour is already sold out and they haven’t even begun to play shows yet. There’s no question that the rest of the shows will sell out in due time. So if you plan on seeing the revival of LCD Soundsystem on their touring circuit this time around, you either have to grab a ticket to one of the few remaining shows quickly, buy an overpriced resale ticket, or you’re S.O.L. Fortunately I have tickets to their upcoming tour and plenty of time to indulge in this new masterpiece of an album. Their American shows begin in mid-October so for those looking to see a live performance you have plenty of time as well as long as you start today. Check out American Dream as soon as you can!

Sacred Hearts Club: Album Review

July 21st was a big day. I worked Check-In for travel packages for a Phish show and two of my favorite music artists released their new albums. I didn’t have much of a chance to listen to both because of work, but I got on it this morning. I figured I’d start with a review of Foster the People’s latest work Sacred Hearts Club because I’ll be seeing them in two weeks when I head to Chicago for my second Lollapalooza. At this point, binging on their new album is necessary.

Stylistically, their new album has a much different feel than their last two. There are songs that have the classic Foster the People sound like “Doing It For the Money” and “SHC”, which were both released in April as part of their 3 song EP entitled III and others that add elements from other styles of music. “III” sounds like a deep house track. If it wasn’t for Mark Foster’s signature vocals, I’d think I was listening to a Flume song. There’s more electronic influence in songs like “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy” and “Harden” too. Foster the People has always used synth in their music but these songs just sound more electronic. Maybe it’s me and how my listening style has developed, but I’d argue regardless. I even feel like there’s a jazz influence in some of their songs, particularly in “Static Space Lover”.

As I said before, I believe this album sounds different to me, but Foster the People has been blending genres since their first record. There’s dance, punk, and hip-hop blended into their previous albums. There’s just something about this one that stands out though. The band wanted this record to be a uniting voice amongst a world filled with negativity too. I think it has the potential to be just that as many songs express camaraderie lyrically. I believe listeners will be able to relate and use this music to rise above the hate in the world.

If you asked me who my top 5 favorite bands are at this point in my life, the first band I’d name would be Foster the People. Torches is still one of my favorite albums of all time. So for me, buying this album was a no-brainer. I would have even bought it blindly. Therefore, it might be hard to believe my opinion is unbiased when I say that I think this album would appeal to more than just Foster the People fans because of the development of their music style. I promise it’s worth checking out though so do yourself a favor and pick-up a copy.

Coachella Band Preview: Empire of the Sun

The first weekend of Coachella is 3 weeks away. Yes three weeks is what separates us from the hot sunny Indio Desert, the greens of the Empire Polo Fields swarming with festival-goers, palm trees swaying to the cool breeze and rad tunes, epic sunsets over the mountains, and the sweet sounds of music from incredible artists entering our ears. I only have a few band previews left before the annual festival begins and time is of the essence so I better get to it.

Empire of the Sun is an electronic/alternative rock band from Sydney, Australia. The band formed in 2007 as a collaboration between Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore. Both had worked together on music for each other’s bands before forming Empire of the Sun. Those bands each performed different styles of music. Steele brought the alternative rock genre to their new band and Littlemore brought the electronic dance music. Their first album, Walking on a Dream, was released in 2008 with the first single of the same name debuting about a month before the album’s release. Both the single and album were charted in the top ten of the ARIA charts. Although their only intention was to create a studio album, they decided to do live performances in response to the album’s success. However the live shows did not include Littlemore, who decided to opt out of touring early on. By the end of 2009, the band received 7 ARIA Awards for the album including Album of the Year.

2010 was the year the band embarked on the festival circuit playing Glastonbury and Lollapalooza for the first time and by the end of the year Littlemore and Steele discussed creating a new album for the band. Production on the album began in 2011 and Littlemore stated he would go out and tour in support of this one. 2011 also involved a North American tour for the band, which included a stop at Coachella.

The duo released their second album, Ice on the Dune, in June 2013. The new album brought more touring throughout 2013 and into 2014. The band made their second stop at Coachella in 2014 and headlined the Sahara Tent. Their music was also featured in the film Dumb and Dumber To, which came out in late 2014.

The band continued to tour into 2015 while simultaneously working on their third album. Their third and latest album was just released this past October. 2016 also marked the first time that the band broke on to the Billboard charts. It was their 2008 hit “Walking on a Dream” that earned the band the number 3 spot on the Alternative Music charts after it was used in a U.S. Honda commercial in early 2016.

Their music, as I said, is a combination of alternative rock and electronic music. It can’t be described much better than that, although some may say the band fits genres like synthpop or glam rock. I feel like their sound has stayed consistent over the course of three albums so if you love the song “Walking on a Dream” or only know music from that album, you’re bound to dig some of their more recent stuff.

I discovered Empire of the Sun in 2011. There’s no significant story of how so I’m guessing it was through a recommendation from Youtube or Pandora because I listened to similar music on either channel. Of course the first song I heard was “Walking on a Dream”. Throughout the past few years I’ve heard their other stuff here and there and I’ve liked it. I’ve also heard the song “Walking on a Dream” multiple times in various circumstances throughout the same time period. It’s no surprise it’s their biggest hit. I never got into them as a band though. Nor have I been dying to see them live, but I’ll tell you why I would definitely check them out at Coachella.

Music festivals give you an opportunity to see bands live who you might like but not like enough to buy a ticket for a touring show making Coachella the perfect time for someone like me to check them out. Empire of the Sun does some pretty cool live performances too. The performances are as much of a visual art as they are a musical art. They wear elaborate costumes, have dancers or other performers, and display mesmerizing visuals often seen as part of electronic shows. They play Friday at Coachella. They’ve already headlined the Sahara Tent at the festival once before so that might happen again. As long as their set doesn’t overlap with some other great performers, it’ll definitely be a spectacle worth seeing. Here’s a few songs to know if you go:

  1. Walking on a Dream
  2. Alive
  3. High and Low
  4. We Are the People
  5. Standing on the Shore
  6. DNA
  7. Two Vines
  8. Concert Pitch
  9. To Her Door
  10. Friends