dashboard confessional

Top Tunes of 2018

Each of the last two years I’ve written posts about how much music has shaped the year. In 2016 there was a lot of shit that went down and music was the bright spot. Last year was one of my favorite years in music in a while so 2018 had a lot to live up to. So as the year comes to a close, the results are in. It was in no way comparable to last year, but thats okay! Because music was still important as it always is.

2018 as a whole will never be comparable to last year. I felt too much in 2018 and in the process I lost a lot of perspective. I had to dig myself out of personal holes so many times. A lot of which I hadn’t felt in years. In a way I’m still trying to overcome some personal struggles but one thing I learned this year is that it could be worse. So I try to remind myself of that. Despite losing perspective at times, I was able to gain it back through meeting new incredible people, through traveling all over the country, through new experiences, and most importantly through music.

I worked harder and put in more miles than I ever had in the past this year all because of a goal that started last January. My friend and I planned a trip to London. I went on that trip last week and it was definitely a trip I won’t soon forget. As much as all the work made it worth it. It was the journey of the year that made it special and so many songs and bands that got me through this weird rollercoaster of a year. So without further delay, here are some of my faves from 2018:

“NUMB” by Hayden James

According to Spotify, this is my top song of the year. Spotify isn’t lying either. It’s now my second most played song on my iTunes. I fell in love with this song during EDC Las Vegas, a festival which ultimately changed the course of the year for me. This song related to my life in all the ways at times, so I kept turning to it. Plus it’s a big fucking mood! I saw Hayden James perform at Electric Forest this year and was able to catch this song during his sets both weekends and during his Weekend 2 DJ set. The bass was so overpowering, but I loved it nonetheless. Now, 7 months later and I’m still choosing to listen to this song. It will forever be associated with this year and all the ups and downs that came with it.

“Safe” by Bay Ledges

This song was released in 2017 but I first heard this song in the spring of 2018 and I became hooked on it. It was a song that I would constantly choose to play whenever I was scrolling through my iTunes in the car or on Spotify. We also kept hearing it on our drives from Joshua Tree to Indio during Coachella this past year. It always puts me in a good mood and creates such a vibe. I was lucky enough to see Bay Ledges play last month and to hear this song live. Even if the song was released in 2017, it still got me through 2018.

Kygo

Kygo was my top Spotify artist this year. It makes sense. After seeing Kygo play at Coachella, one of my favorite sets of the festival, I got really into listening to his music. I eventually created a Kygo Spotify playlist that I’ll occasionally use to work out to. I’ve always been into the tropical house style of electronic music so it was a matter of time before I dove head first into Kygo and all of his tunes that I’ve already been listening to over the past 3 years. I kind of credit the song “Stargzing”, but overall I love almost all of Kygo’s tracks and seeing him live was incredibly fun. This was the year that made it happen for me and the Norwegian DJ.

“Curious” by Hayley Kiyoko

2018 can be defined by the hashtag 20GAYTEEN and that’s all in part to Hayley Kiyoko. She released her first full length album this year and exploded in the music scene. She performed at Coachella, sold out her tour, opened for Panic! At the Disco, performed with Taylor Swift, and won a VMA! It’s been an epic year for Lesbian Jesus. This song was released early in 2018 as a single to promote Hayley’s debut album. It’s been one of my faves ever since. I snuck away during work at Coachella to catch a glimpse of her set Weekend 2, but missed a large portion of it. It wasn’t until I worked a Panic! At the Disco show that I got to see the entirety of her opening set and felt all the proud mom feelings. I saw Hayley play a small venue show in Philly in late 2016 and it’s been pleasure being a fan and seeing her grow so much since then. This year was the icing on the cake for that. So to answer the question, in case you were curious, it is serious that she’s only going up from here.

Arctic Monkeys

2018 was a comeback year for Arctic Monkeys. They released their first album since 2013’s AM, toured worldwide, and played numerous dates on the festival circuit. It was my goal this year to see them play and I did while working their show at Forest Hills Stadium back in July. Although their new album wasn’t the comeback I hoped for, 2018 revitalized my interest in Arctic Monkeys and caused me to listen to their music even more than I did in the past. I found a love in old songs like “Suck It And See” and “I Bet That You Look Good On the Dance Floor”. I also eventually started to enjoy their latest release. It seems like the Monkeys will be riding the 2018 wave into 2019 as well so hopefully they coast back to the states soon.

“Saturday Sun” by Vance Joy

Vance Joy released his sophomore album this year back in February. “Saturday Sun” was a single from that album that was the theme of my Coachella 2018 experience. On our 1 hour drives to and from work every day from Joshua Tree, we listened to Alt Nation on Sirius XM. “Saturday Sun” was in the rotation at the time at it seemed like we heard it ever time we got in Denise’s car. It became our Coachella song. The whole experience culminated on Sunday of Weekend 2 when Vance Joy asked to sit at our table in catering and ate lunch with us. This song will always remind me this year and drives through California with my Day One since Day One Weekend One, Denise.

“Wanderlust” by James Bay

There’s no special story behind this song compared to the others I have on here. It’s just one that I kept going back to once I had it on my iTunes and Spotify playlists. I got into it right before I left for Electric Forest in June and it’s been a staple ever since. It gave me a new opinion on James Bay, whose music I thought was always slower and created romance type vibes. This song was an indie pop/rock dream that I never knew I needed from James Bay this year.

Florence and the Machine

It took me a while to get into the new Florence and the Machine album, but I did just in time to see her live at the Barclays Center in October. Again just like the Arctic Monkeys, High As Hope, the 2018 follow-up to 2015’s How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, was a bit of a disappointment to me initially. In general, it seemed like after a big 2017 of brilliant albums, 2018’s hype wasn’t cutting it for me. New music from 2018 just took a little while to get used to. Once I did I fell for songs like “Hunger” and “Patricia”. Florence reminded me this year when I needed it most that “it’s a wonderful thing to love” and I’m grateful for that.

“Body” by Loud Luxury

“Body” came to me around the same time as “NUMB” at EDC Las Vegas so it makes total sense that it would always play after “NUMB” on my iTunes rotation. I first heard the song on the way to site at EDC via Josh Hurlbert’s music. My friend Erin and I were jamming to it. I didn’t know the name of the song after that, but I needed to find out. So after some detective work, Josh figured out the song I was referring to and told me what it was called on load-out day. It’s been as much of a favorite as “NUMB” since EDC and a great work out track as well. I can’t say I’ve listened to Loud Luxury beyond “Body”, but it’s been a big hit of 2018 all around so I’m sure there will be more great tracks to come from the electronic artists.

Bishop Briggs

Bishop Briggs ended 2017 for me and moved right in 2018. Her debut album came out in May and she was high on my list to see live until I saw her perform at Electric Forest. I will say my interest in Bishop Briggs kind of faded after seeing her perform live, but for the first half of this year I was focused on her debut album and possibly seeing her in the summer. She didn’t disappoint at Forest either. Her performance was full of energy and power that had everyone feeling as bad ass as her by the end of the set. It was a highlight of the festival that seemed to be one of my lowest points of the year. Thankfully, I survived the Forest and went on to have some great festival experiences beyond that.

Runner-Ups

Years & Years

“Happy Man” by Jungle

“Happier” by Marshmello, ft. Bastille

Dashboard Confessional

“Whippin'” by Kiiara

So that’s it! 10 songs and artists that were big for me in 2018 (plus a few runner-ups!). There was another band that I easily could have put on the list but I decided to hold off because 2019 will surely be a big year for them. That band is Vampire Weekend. Their comeback started in 2018 with a few festival appearances, including a special one that I was witness to at Lollapalooza, but they’ve yet to release their much anticipated fourth full length album. There were rumors it would come out in 2018, but that hasn’t happened. So I expect 2019 will be the year for them. They’re already slated to play Firefly in June and I’m sure more dates and festivals are in the works as well. I can’t wait. They’re who I’m most excited about heading in to this new year.

As with any year, there will be plenty of new music and new discoveries for me. I didn’t plan on this year being better than 2017 and it wasn’t honestly as far as music goes. Professionally though, 2018 was my best year yet. When I set out to follow my music industry dreams in 2015 (technically 2016 but it started in 2015), my goal was always to be better, learn more, and grow every year. I’ve done that so far, especially this year. I have no plans to stop any time soon either. I’ve started to reach some goals I’ve had, but I have so much more to do and accomplish. I’m so lucky I get to do what I love. I’m grateful for everyone that’s helped and supported me, everyone I’ve met, and all the experiences I’ve had. I owe it all to music. So hopefully next year is even better because I plan on trying to make it that way and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of new tunes to help me through it all. Be back next week for the Coachella 2019 lineup release!

“All of life is energy vibrating at different frequencies. It has been said, the universe is a uni-verse, one song or vibration that plays throughout existence and gives us life. When we get in tune with that tone, we are in harmony with life. Music is a way we can tap into that power. That is why we feel music with our whole being. It moves us, stimulates our imagination, opens emotions, and can pass language and cultural barriers. It lives on a primal level, one that we can all connect with.”

Crooked Shadows: Album Review

Way back when I started this blog, I wrote about my love for Dashboard Confessional. They changed my life in high school and got me into good music (click here for a more detailed description). They were my favorite band back then. For the past 9 years though, they’ve been M.I.A. as far as new music goes. Honestly, if you were to tell me a year ago that I’d buy a new Dashboard album, I wouldn’t have believed you because the style of music Dashboard plays doesn’t match my current interests. Plus their music reminds me of a specific time in my life that I’ve grown past. I still appreciate them for that time though. I’ve just moved on.

A little over a year and a half ago, I worked a Dashboard Confessional show. They were on the Taste of Chaos Tour with Taking Back Sunday, Saosin (with Anthony Green), and The Early November. It was an honor to work and one of my greatest full circle moments to date. I had the opportunity to stay for the show after I finished work and I, of course, took advantage it. I left early to watch the Stanley Cup Final (my team, the Penguins, were on the verge of winning the Cup) but stayed for about 5-6 Dashboard songs. However, I doubt I would have attended if I wasn’t working. That’s the best example I can give you of my recent feelings towards Dashboard Confessional. Three months ago that changed slightly.

Dashboard Confessional released their first single from their new album Crooked Shadows in November (the album was released on Friday). I saw it as a new music release on Spotify and decided to listen because I was curious. The single, “We Fight”, was pretty good. It was better than I expected. I wouldn’t say I was hooked, but I was happy their new song was something I would listen to. I felt the exact same way upon hearing Brand New’s “I Am a Nightmare” in June 2016 and The Movielife’s “Mercy is Asleep at the Wheel” over the summer. At that time, I also saw that Dashboard announced a new show date in my hometown in late January. I thought to myself that I’d definitely go to the show as long as I had nothing else going on. I even tried to see if a few friends were interested, but I delayed getting tickets in case something came up.

I ended up being able to go and took my mom to the show. She was always a fan of Dashboard when I listened to them in high school so I thought she’d appreciate seeing them at least once. The show was fantastic. I loved it, especially lead vocalist/guitarist Chris Carrabba’s stage presence. It definitely evolved over the years. It was fun to stay for the whole thing this time around and sing all my favorite songs again with a few new ones in between. Speaking of new songs, a week before the show they released another single, “Heart Beat Here.” This time upon listening, I was hooked. The song was a perfect blend of something I would listen to now mixed with that classic Dashboard Confessional sound (essentially Chris Carrabba’s voice). At that point, I thought to myself, “I might actually have to get this new album.” On Friday, I did.

Crooked Shadows, Dashboard Confessional’s seventh full length album, was released on Friday. The album is relatively short compared to the others. It’s only 9 songs long. Within those 9 songs though is the complete re-birth of a 2000’s emo band to a 2018 indie/alternative rock band. This album is far from emo. It’s purely indie rock mixed with indie folk, electronic, and alternative rock. It’s such a great blend of my current interests with classic Dashboard that I fell in love with it in a matter of hours. If you want anything reminiscent of old Dashboard, I’d recommend listening to the songs “Open My Eyes” featuring violinist Lindsey Stirling or “Just What to Say” featuring Chrissy Costanza. “Heart Beat Here” has an old Dashboard feel as well. At the Dashboard show I attended two weeks ago, Chris said the song is a continuation of “Hands Down.” I don’t know if I’d agree as far as the sound goes, but it’s definitely a great song. That track along with the other first five are absolute jams. My favorites are “About Us” and “Belong” (with Cash Cash) which I had on repeat Friday afternoon. “We Fight” is included in that bunch as well. I currently have the album in my car and I’m sure I’ll be listening to it on repeat for the next week or more.

This is the second time in less than a year that I’ve fallen in love all over again with one of my favorites (the first was Foster the People over the summer). Although I think this time, I’ve just fallen in love with new Dashboard so it’s kind of like falling love all over again. I would recommend their new album to anyone at this point, but especially to those whose music interests have grown and changed, much like mine have. Dashboard Confessional is back in the best way possible.

Say That You’re Into Me

Yesterday while checking out the Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify, I made an amazing, mind blowing discovery. It was the coolest music discovery I’ve made in quite some time. For you to understand it though, I need to flashback to 9 years ago. *cue cloudy flashback transition*

It was the summer of 2006. I just finished my junior year of high school. I was into the punk rock, pop punk, emo, and alternative music genres. My favorite bands were Brand New, Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday, Something Corporate, and The Format. I attended my second Vans Warped Tour in August that summer. I saw Cartel, The Academy Is, Gym Class Heroes, Motion City Soundtrack, Less Than Jake, and Hellogoodbye play sets that day. All of those bands fit my style of music at the time too. My favorite set of the day was Hellogoodbye’s. They played all my favorite songs and had people run around the stage dressed in random costumes. It was absolute mayhem. Hellogoodbye even played a surprise Blink-182 cover set that day on a different stage which I also attended. It turned out to be a surprisingly great day despite the fact that I didn’t anticipate a great day. *cue transition to current day*

As I was looking at the Discover Weekly playlist, I noticed there was a song by Hellogoodbye listed. I was surprised because usually music on the Discover Weekly playlist isn’t the kind of pop punk, powerpop music that Hellogoodbye played when I listened to them. However, I didn’t recognize the title of the song. It was safe to say they had released some new music since I last listened to them. I was super curious to see what it sounded like so of course I hit play on the song. Out of the speakers on my iPad came the most mind blowing revelation. Hellogoodbye sounded like a band I would listen to now. They weren’t those same guys who got up on stage at Warped Tour dressed in random costumes. They were like current day hipsters playing music I would listen to on vinyl in my apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn while wearing my v-neck t-shirt. They progressed in their music style like I progressed in my music style. How freaking cool is that?! Usually I hate when bands change their sound because it seems like most of the time they get popular and try to fit the mold of popular bands. This wasn’t the case. They progressed alternatively.

Hellogoodbye hails from Huntington Beach, California and was formed in 2001 by front-man Forrest Kline. They were part of the Drive-Thru Records label from 2003-2010 which housed some of my favorite bands from high school like Dashboard Confessional, Something Corporate, New Found Glory, The Starting Line, Midtown, The Early November, and Senses Fail. They released their first full-length, Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!, in 2006 (I bought it at Warped Tour that summer). I knew of and listened to them before that though because of their self-titled EP. Between the release of their first and second album, Would It Kill You?, which was released in 2010, the single “Here (In Your Arms)” gained some major radio airplay. It reached the number 14 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 and went platinum in the U.S.

After the second album, the band went through a few transitions. Band members dropped out and were replaced. The band parted with Drive-Thru and signed with a new label. They also released an EP during that time and re-released their second album. It wasn’t until 2013 that they their third full-length album, Everything Is Debatable, came out after signing with another label, Old Friend Records. Following the release of the album, they toured and opened for Paramore. They probably should’ve been touring with a band like The Kooks or Generationals because their newest album gives off an entirely new indie pop sound. They really do sound like a mixture between those two bands with a hint of MGMT and Belle & Sebastian thrown in. There’s still a little bit of that old school Hellogoodbye essence heard in some songs as well. It’s incredible. If you can’t already tell, I was and am still amazed by it. As far as song recommendations go, it’s probably best to split it up between old Hellogoodbye and new Hellogoodbye, so here goes:

Song recommendations (Old):

**And remember these are definitely pop punk/powerpop style songs, so if you’re not into that, skip ahead**

  1. Call & Return
  2. Touchdown Turnaround
  3. Bonnie Taylor Shakedown
  4. Here (In Your Arms)
  5. All of Your Love

Song recommendations (New):

  1. (Everything Is) Debatable
  2. Just Don’t Let Go Just Don’t
  3. The Magic Hour Is Now
  4. Swear You’re In Love
  5.  And Everything Becomes A Blur
Hellogoodbye performing at the Vans Warped Tour in 2006 during their Blink-182 cover set.

Hellogoodbye performing at the Vans Warped Tour in 2006 during their Blink-182 cover set.

Breathe in for Luck

Very rarely do we get the chance to see our favorite bands sharing the same stage while touring together. Fortunately, I happened to experience this 8 years ago tonight.

I was a senior in high school. Music was life (let’s be honest…it still is). Going to shows made me whole. I was such an emo kid. I followed the scene. Warped Tour was a must every summer. Band tees were a standard in my wardrobe. I constantly looked for new bands/songs that professed the words of every single solitary feeling my teenage body elicited. I wasn’t always this way though. I followed the mainstream radio pop for years until my freshman year of high school, specifically in the spring, when I went through what I like to call a musical enlightenment.

For many people out there, myself included, there’s always a band/musician/song/album/some sort of musical element that changes your life. For me it was a band. During my freshman year of high school I became exposed to music other than what was on the radio. It sort of started with Something Corporate when a friend of mine had me listen to Punk Rock Princess. At that point I liked just one or two alternative songs and I still listened to the radio. My enlightenment didn’t occur until I was first introduced to Dashboard Confessional in April of that same year. It was 2004, shortly after Dashboard released A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar. They weren’t up and coming. They had previously released albums like The Swiss Army Romance and The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most (arguably their best). They had been around for a couple years and were known by those in the emo/indie/alternative fan base. But, they were the first band I ever really got into that wasn’t part of the radio pop/rap/R&B (cringe) stuff I liked at the time. It was huge for me.

A friend had recommended them and I gave them a shot. I really liked what I heard (pretty sure the first songs I listened to were “Screaming Infidelities”, “The Swiss Army Romance” and “Hands Down”). I went out and bought their third full length (A Mark, A Mission…). I listened to it on repeat trying to memorize the words to all the songs on that album, especially “Hands Down”. That was THE song. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say everyone wanted a night like the one described in “Hands Down”. It became my anthem that spring. The local hockey team (referenced them in a previous post) ended up making it to the finals of their respective league that year and I played the song before every game. I played it so much that my mom learned all the words and would get into it too (we used to bang on the car dashboard during that break in the chorus). That June my family planned a trip to Disney World and I found out Dashboard was playing the night of our arrival at the House of Blues in Orlando. I tried so hard to get my mom to allow me to go. It didn’t work out in my favor, but that entire trip was still amazing even without seeing my favorite band. The spring of 2004 was a special time in my life for so many other reasons, but this musical enlightenment was a part of that and I owe it to Dashboard Confessional.

That sounds like such a great ending to the blog post but I never even mentioned why 8 years ago tonight actually mattered. Well obviously it had something to do with Dashboard. But before I get into that, let me say the first time I saw Dashboard Confessional was in the Spring of 2006. A local college sponsored them as their spring concert and my friend Megan and I went to see them. It was everything I hoped for and my mom was happy I finally got to see them since she didn’t let me go in Florida. Then, less than a year later, you guessed it, they came back.

This time they were touring with Brand New, another one of my favorite bands that I fell in love with shortly post-Dashboard (told you Dashboard changed my life). This tour was probably the coolest thing ever for me at the time. My top two favorite bands in one night, are you kidding me? Who gets to see their favorite bands perform in the same night. Me. Duh. I was definitely going. I’m not sure how it happened either but I convinced my friend Shannon to attend this show with me (Megan..same friend from above…came along as well). It was pretty incredible that Shannon decided to come along because Shannon did not listen to the same music as me. She wore cardigans. She never cursed. She listened to all the radio stuff (she still does…extreme T-Swift fan). She just wasn’t the same emo/punk rock/indie/alternative kid as me, but I introduced her to Dashboard from a mix tape I made her (I made/make the best mix tapes I swear). She loved them from that. Plus this was going to be her first “real” show (general admission, pit, the works).

It was a fun night. At the time it was the best show I had ever been to (it’s still probably in my top 10 favorite shows). There were plenty of things that happened. Shannon wore converse (they were pink though…go figure) and screamingly confessed her love for Chris Carrabba. A classmate of ours almost got in a fight with a drunk girl. Brand New didn’t play Seventy Times Seven (teenage anthem forever…I was heartbroken). I sang along to so many songs that I knew and loved (“Vindicated”, “Bend & Not Break”,” Screaming Infidelities”). Most importantly, as the standard for Dashboard in those days, they always closed their shows with “Hands Down” (I wouldn’t have it any other way). That night was no different except for the fact that I got so pumped during the song I decided to jump up and down and ended up twisting my ankle when I landed on a bystander’s foot. It was a memorable night for sure. Can I say that it was hands down the best day I will ever remember, always remember? No. I’ve had some better times and no one kissed me like they meant it, but it was pretty damn good enough to come close.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite Dashboard Confessional songs that I recommend to the world besides all those listed above aka “Hands Down”, “Bend & Not Break”, “Vindicated”, “Screaming Infidelities”, and “The Swiss Army Romance” (that means listen to these too cause they are also my faves):

1. The Secret’s in the Telling

2. As Lovers Go

3. Saints & Sailors

4. Again I Go Unnoticed

5. The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most

6. The Sharp Hint of New Tears

7. Age Six Racer (in particular listen to this on the day before the first day of school, Labor Day, or whenever the last day of summer is for you)

8. Rapid Hope Loss

Just to give you a head start on listening…the song of all songs: