electronic 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.

You’ve Never Danced Like This Before

I’m defining this quarantine/isolation by the number of days we have without concerts or festivals. Currently we’re on Day whatever. In the meantime, I’m going to be posting weekly and I’ll be using this time to catch up on a few artists I’ve wanted to write about. Back in the fall Milky Chance released their third album Mind the Moon. I’ve never been a huge Milky Chance fan, but there were several tracks on the new album that I absolutely loved. I wanted to write about them at the time, but there were rumors they would be at Coachella. I decided to hold off because I anticipated writing about them in my Coachella previews. Needless to say, they weren’t on the lineup and I needed to focus on writing about the acts that were. Now, since we have some time, let me tell you a bit about this German folk band.

Milky Chance was founded around 2012 when members, Clemens Rehbein (bass) and Philipp Dausch (guitar) played in a jazz group together. When the group broke up, the two still kept up their musical connection and began writing and recording their own music. They began posting it to YouTube. The band recorded their first album Sadnecessary in 2013 after only playing two live shows. It was the song “Stolen Dance” that really became their claim to fame. The song became a viral hit on YouTube and earned them top spots across music charts in Germany and many other countries in Europe as well as reaching number one on the Billboard Alternative chart. From 2014-2016 the band toured extensively in support of their debut album, playing shows and festivals throughout Europe, North America, South Africa, and Oceania. They played their first Coachella in 2015.

In 2017, they released their sophomore album Blossom. They toured worldwide through 2018, but their second album did not have as much commercial success as their debut. Their latest record Mind the Moon was released on November 15, 2019. Again it still hasn’t reached the level of success as Sadnecessary but I will say it’s a pretty good record.

Milky Chance is primarily an alternative folk band but they also incorporate elements of reggae, jazz, and electronic beats into their music. In this way a lot of their songs sound different from one another. Two of my favorite songs on the latest record show that. “The Game” has a reggae/electronic feel while “Oh Mama” has this hip-hop/middle eastern/folk sound. One thing has remained persistent over the three records though and that is Rehbein’s deep and hypnotic vocals.

I can only imagine Milky Chance will be back on the touring and festival circuit soon once live music also resumes in support of their latest record. They’re a pretty unique indie alternative band because their music is so varied. I’ve seen them perform once, back at Coachella in 2015 when I attended. I remember not being impressed by their live performance, but I know I only saw part of their set. I’d be willing to give them another chance. They’re definitely worthy of a listen if you’re a fan of indie, folk, or reggae and given the time we all have now, it’s always worth it to discover something new.

Coachella Band Preview: Hayden James

It’s been two months since the Coachella 2020 lineup was released, which means we have 5 weeks and 2 days to go before the masses start flooding the Coachella Valley in preparation of southern California’s most famous music festival. I can’t believe it’s only a little over a month away. Time really flies when you spend the winter in Mexico. Now it’s full steam ahead towards my 5th Coachella. It’s pretty surreal how I started these yearly band previews in preparation of my first Coachella and now here we are 5 years later and I’m on the brink of being at my 5th one. It was truly the festival that started it all for me and this crazy music industry adventure that I’m a part of. Alright…enough of me being super grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had, it’s time to focus on the music. This week I’m previewing an artist I wrote about back in 2018, Hayden James.

When I first wrote about electronic artist Hayden James, I had been listening to his song “NUMB” ft. GRAACE for months. It was my most listened to song of 2018. Since then, James released his debut album Between Us on June 14, 2019. I also did an album review of it in August. Since the debut release, James has only played a few music festivals and a few tour dates, which is a bit out of the ordinary surrounding an album release. Most of his sets were in his home country of Australia with a few dates in the U.S., Europe, and New Zealand. This year includes several more tour stops in Australia, Mexico, and the U.S. including his Coachella appearance.

Coachella 2020 will mark James’ second Coachella appearance. His first came in 2015 as a Do Lab artist. This time he’s officially on the bill though and likely to play the Sahara Tent, if not, Gobi or Mojave. His soulful and sensual house style will surely bring plenty of fans out to his set no matter where it’s played. I would definitely expect a larger draw at Sahara since a lot of younger festival goers like to spend all their time at the stage, but who knows because many people enjoy a good electronic set. After seeing him in 2018 at Electric Forest, I know he’s capable of bringing lots of dancing and a lot of bass to his sets. He’s also very capable of setting the Coachella vibe with his tracks. Here are the one’s you should know:

  1. NUMB
  2. Something About You
  3. Just Friends
  4. Better Together
  5. Just A Lover
  6. Favours
  7. Nowhere to Go
  8. Hold Me Back
  9. Remember You
  10. Permission to Love

Coachella Band Preview: Big Wild

We are officially a month and a half away from Coachella 2020! The anticipation is building for me as it so often does. I’ve been doing my best to listen to the Coachella playlist I made and since the lineup dropped on January 2nd I’ve made an early discovery when I realized there was an artist on the lineup I had been listening to for months. Sure months is a stretch because it was like 3 months and there was only one song, but since then I realized his other stuff is great too! That artist is Big Wild and here’s what you need to know about him going into the festival.

Jackson Stell, better known to the music world as Big Wild, has been producing music as an electronic artist since 2012. He came from a music-oriented family and really got his break with the single “Aftergold” featuring Tove Styrke in 2016. The year prior he toured with Odesza and collaborated with the duo on a remix of their song “Say My Name.” He released his debut EP Invincible EP in 2017 and just released his debut album Superdream last year.

His indie pop style of electronic music incorporates instrumentation into his live sets. He is known for using synth, keyboards, drum pads, and live vocals in his performances. He also sings on a few of his tracks which is often rare for an electronic artist.

I got into Big Wild when I heard his song “6’s to 9’s” in a video posted by someone I follow on instagram. I added the song to my workout playlist once I listened. It then became a staple in my music listening regimen towards the end of the year.

Big Wild plays Sunday at his first Coachella. I would expect him to play in Sahara earlier in the day or at Gobi or Mojave. His music really falls into the Coachella vibe so I expect that his set will be a lot of fun. If you’re into the indie electronic stuff, you’re gonna want to check him out. I recently got into more of his stuff and have been listening to him quite frequently so here’s what I think you’ll need to now:

  1. 6’s to 9’s
  2. When I Get There
  3. Aftergold
  4. City of Sound
  5. Maker
  6. Show Me
  7. Invincible
  8. Empty Room
  9. Venice Venture
  10. Joypunks

 

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

Coachella Band Preview: Flume

One month down since the lineup drop and two months to go until another year of Coachella is upon us. I’m on a little break from Mexico but return next week for Leg 2 of the events I’m working south of the border. This week I’m back focusing on Coachella and another act I’m super excited to see, electronic artist/producer Flume.

I wrote about Flume back in 2016 shortly before I saw part of his live set while volunteering at the Sweetlife Music Festival. I had the best time at the event and got really into Flume right after, so much so that I bought tickets to attend his sold out show at the Electric Factory in Philly in August 2016. I haven’t seen him perform live since then, unless you count last summer’s Lollapalooza livestream.

Since 2016 Flume has been kind of quiet. He won a Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic album for his 2016 record Skin. After taking some time off from touring in support of the album, Flume came back last March with a mixtape full of new music in that future bass/deep house style we know and love. It earned him a Grammy nomination as well. He has since been playing festivals and touring.

Flume will be sure to bring it out in the desert in April. He’s really upped the artistry of his live performances over the past year so I’m expecting an interesting set at Coachella. Flume last played Coachella in 2016. He headlined the Outdoor Theatre on Saturday night. This time around expect Flume to play the Main Stage before Travis Scott or to again close out the Outdoor Theatre Saturday night. His popularity is that of headliner quality and he will sure pull a huge draw of fans. Here’s the Flume tracks you need to hear to get ready for this epic electronic set:

  1. Never Be Like You
  2. Say It
  3. Rushing Back
  4. Holdin’ On
  5. Sleepless
  6. Friends
  7. You & Me (Disclosure remix)
  8. Friends
  9. Insane
  10. Drop the Game

 

Coachella Band Preview: Lost Kings

Greetings from Mexico! I’m back down south of the border working for the next two weeks, but don’t worry this is just the Coachella pre-game. We’re one week closer to the most wonderful time of year and this week I’m previewing the electronic duo Lost Kings.

Lost Kings are comprised of Robert Abisi and Nick Shanholtz. The duo, both LA transplants originally from Boston (Abisi) and Baltimore (Shanholtz), formed in 2014. Their name comes from feeling lost after moving to Los Angeles and how they had goals they wanted to accomplish. They gained popularity through their remixes of music from artists such as Imagine Dragons, Halsey, Vance Joy, Echosmith and Disclosure to name a few. Their remix of Disclosure’s “Latch” featuring Sam Smith gained them the most attention when it replaced the original on Sirius XM’s BPM, a Dance/Electronic channel. Once they dropped their first EP The Bad in late 2015, it also gained popularity pretty quickly. A few months later in March 2016, they dropped their second EP The Good. They were signed to Disrupter/RCA Records in the fall of 2016. They credit their success to streaming sites like SoundCloud and Spotify as well as the music aggregator Hype Machine.

Their style of music fits under the progressive house style of electronic music. The duo has stated that they don’t want to be classified inside a specific box when it comes to music style. This is why you might be able to group them into other styles of house music such as melodic or bass house. Their collaborations make their tracks seem like they’re part of that electronic/pop crossover spectrum though.

Lost Kings play Friday at Coachella. I’d expect them to be at Sahara. There aren’t a ton of bigger name electronic artists playing Friday so who knows when their set time will be. I personally am hoping for a late time or I won’t be able to catch their set. I have this feeling like they’ll end up in a late afternoon-early evening slot. You have plenty of time to listen to their music prior to Day 1 of Coachella so here’s the list of what you should check out:

  1. You (ft. Katelyn Tarver)
  2. Phone Down (ft. Emily Warren)
  3. First Love (ft. Sabrina Carpenter)
  4. LA & The Parties (ft. Sevyn Streeter)
  5. Quit You (ft. Tinashe)
  6. Something Good
  7. When We Were Young (ft. Norma Jean Martine)
  8. Marathon (ft. Cosmos and Creatures)
  9. Bad (ft. Jessame)
  10. Ain’t The Same (ft. CXLOE)

Coachella 2020 Lineup Review

The countdown to Coachella 2020 is officially here! After spending yesterday feeling like the lineup wasn’t going to come, the Coachella twitter came alive around 8:30 p.m. EST. Then, I knew it was coming. They started tweeting out artists playing the festival by retweeting tweets from years ago from the artists playing the festival or from casual twitter followers mentioning artists playing the festival and adding their own comments. Then around 10:05 p.m. EST, the lineup dropped.

After 2014, I used to hope mercilessly for a similar great lineup every year. When finally after 2018’s lineup disappointment, I stopped expecting great indie rock lineups. I feel like this year’s mix of music has hardly any indie rock/indie pop. It’s really disheartening. I looked at the 2011-2014 lineups last night in reverse order. It was incredible. When I looked at 2011 I was incredibly shocked at how much these festival lineups have changed over the last 10 years. 2011 was the year I was introduced to Coachella because Foster the People (who I was introduced to around the same time) was on the bill. I feel less disappointed than I did in 2018 because I know I’ll still have a great time at the festival and there are a few artists who I’m very excited to see play Coachella.

First and foremost though, the Coachella 2020 lineup as follows:

The Headliners: Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott, Frank Ocean

As typical, over the past few weeks these were the three names rumored to be headlining the festival. I knew about Travis Scott for almost a year due to some inside industry sources. I was hoping there might be another Tame Impala-esque headliner but not the case this year. Out of these three, I’m most excited for 90’s rock band, Rage Against the Machine. They played the first ever Coachella in 1999! I know a few of their songs, as most people do. Plus, I’m not sure if there’s any other way I’d ever see them. I’ll definitely be re-listening to their stuff in preparation for their Friday night set. Travis Scott has been headlining festivals over the past few years so Coachella was one of the next steps. It’s not his first time in Indio either after he played the festival in 2017. He’s even hosted his own ASTROWORLD festival the past 2 years in Houston, Texas. Frank Ocean hasn’t played Coachella in 8 years. This time he makes his return as a headliner. He doesn’t tour either, which makes his festival appearances all the more special. He headlined Panorama back in 2017 when I worked it. I never got into him but I heard him play there, which is apparently more rare than I realized. Frank Ocean’s R&B/hip-hop style isn’t my cup of tea, but he’s got a large following of fans that are stoked to see him headline Coachella.

The Other Highly Billed Performers: Calvin Harris, Run the Jewels, Rex Orange County, Megan Thee Stallion, BIGBANG, Flume, Thom Yorke (Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes), Disclosure, 21 Savage, Danny Elfman, DaBaby, Summer Walker, Lana Del Rey, Lil Uzi Vert, Daniel Caesar, FKA Twigs, Marina, Louis the Child, Ari Lennox, BROCKHAMPTON, Big Sean, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizards, City Girls, Lewis Capaldi, Madeon, Charli XCX, Lane 8, GRiZ, Anitta, Caribou, Joji, Testpilot, Swae Lee, Black Coffee, Cuco, Jai Wolf, Roddy Ricch, Yaeji, Koffee, Tchami, Dixon, Fatboy Slim, Banda MS, Lil Nas X, Mura Masa, Duck Sauce, Jessie Reyez, SLANDER, Denzel Curry, J.I.D.

The two artists I’m most excited for this year are in this mix. Both could have easily headlined this festival and both were the first name under the headliner on their respective days.

Lana Del Rey, one of my favorite artists, will be back this year for the first time since 2014. After dropping one of her best albums this past year (Norman Fucking Rockwell!) thanks to the help of famed songwriter/producer Jack Antonoff, Lana deserves to be back at Coachella. Hopefully my dream of hearing Lana play “Coachella – Woodstock On My Mind” at Coachella will come true!

Flume, the first electronic artist I could ever say I liked, is also playing. Flume has really exploded over the last 5 years. He’s played Coachella before but this year he’s back in his biggest spot yet and with new music. Last year he dropped his mixtape Hi I’m Flume and the hit electronic single “Rushing Back” with Vera Blue. Who knows if he’ll release any more new music in the lead up to Coachella, but it’s safe to say Flume is back this year after a few shows and festival stints in 2019.

I’m also pretty excited for electronic DJ Jai Wolf. I was able to watch some of his Made in America set in 2018, but I’ve never seen him other than that. I’ve been into his music for the past few years as well. His cred has really gone up in the last few years too earning him a second line spot on the Coachella lineup.

Three years ago, composer Hans Zimmer played Coachella with a full orchestra coming in to support his set of movie magic. I’m expecting a similar performance from composer Danny Elfman. I’m also expecting to hear the entirety of A Nightmare Before Christmas. I feel like sets like this are so unique that you should try to catch them because it’s doubtful you may ever get another chance to witness something like it.

90’s EDM artist Fatboy Slim is also a part of this year’s lineup. It’s not his first time soaking up the Coachella vibes either. His set should be filled with classic dance jams and should also be a ton of fun. I’m definitely gonna try to catch it if I can.

Former Coachella headliner Calvin Harris is also included in this mix. He last played the year I attended in 2015. I remember hearing a lot about Calvin Harris in the early 2010’s but I feel like his hype has since dropped. His biggest hit since he last performed has to be 2018’s “One Kiss” with Dua Lipa and 2016’s “This Is What You Came For” with Rihanna. A lot of people are already hoping he brings out Rihanna as a guest.

Some other big names from this list are hip hop duo Run the Jewels, rising rap star Megan Thee Stallion, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, electronic duo Disclosure, rising pop star Lewis Capaldi, rapper Denzel Curry, and one of 2019’s most famed newcomers Lil Nas X. The biggest shocker of this year’s lineup was the exclusion of My Chemical Romance who was rumored to be playing the festival for weeks especially after their reunion show at Goldenvoice venue the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles. Many people, myself included, anticipated Coachella as being the second return of the band. Maybe MCR will be a part of the festival though? They could always come on as a guest of an artist.

The Rest: Chicano Batman, Omar Apollo, Kim Petras, IDLES, Daphni, The Martinez Brothers, Pink Sweat$, Peggy Gou, Hatsune Miku, TNGHT, Rich Brian, Damian Lazarus, Princess Nokia, slowthai, YBN Cordae, TOKiMONSTA, The Chats, NIKI, Malaa, PUP, The HU, The Regrettes, Friendly Fires, Sleaford Mods, Erick Morillo, Cashmere Cat, Beach Bunny, Tiga, Amyl & The Sniffers, Amber Mark, Code Orange, L’Impératrice, Kyle Watson, VNSSA, Lost Kings, Jayda G, Giselle Woo & the Night Owls, Melé, ela minus, Kynda Black, Hot Chip, Carly Rae Jepson, DJ Koze, Floating Points, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, BADBADNOTGOOD, Pabllo Vittar, MIKA, ANNA, Snail Mail, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Steve Lacy, Weyes Blood, Masego, Orville Peck, Chelsea Cutler, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, Matoma, 100 gecs, black midi, Nilüfer Yanya, Chris Liebing, Raveena, Sasha Sloan, beabadoobee, Ezra Collective, Inner Wave, Emo Nite, girl in red, Aya Nakamura, Sama’, Beach Goons, Fontaines D.C., The Murder Capital, Paco Osuna, Mannequin Pussy, The Comet is Coming, Whipped Cream, Anna Calvi, GG Magree, Ellen Allien, ONYVAA, DJ Lord, Sara Landry, Ленинград, Epik High, Duke Dumont, Lauren Daigle, Conan Gray, Bedouin, Bishop Briggs, (Sandy) Alex G, Big Wild, Alec Benjamin, Noname, YUNGBLUD, Dave, SebastiAn, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Emotional Oranges, Channel Tres, Crumb, Doja Cat, Ed Maverick, Ali Gatie, Hayden James, Skegss, Monolink, Dom Dolla, Satori, Black Pumas, Sampa the Great, Altın Gün, Luttrell, Nathy Peluso, Olivia O’Brien, Mariah the Scientist, Viagra Boys, Cariño, Adam Port, Guy Laliberté, Detlef, Sahar Z, also featuring 88rising’s Double Happiness

As per the usual, there’s several great artists in this mix of the names in tiny font on the lineup. The one that stands out the most for me is Bishop Briggs. I fell in love with Bishop Briggs music in late 2017. I felt like I missed out on her all summer as she played the festival circuit. Since then I’ve been able to catch her performances the last two summers, at Electric Forest in 2018 and at Bonnaroo last summer. I’m extremely excited to see her perform at Coachella though. She’s fantastic and always brings so much energy to her sets.

Hayden James is another artist I’m super stoked for. His song “Numb” was my most listened to song in 2018 and I saw his Electric Forest sets that summer as well. He released his debut album over the past year and his only Coachella performance happened at the Do Lab so this is definitely progress for him.

A few other great ones from this list are Lost Kings, Matoma, and Hot Chip. I’ve wanted to get into Hot Chip for years since their style is a lot like LCD Soundsystem. I just always forget about them because they’re not really on the scene much anymore. Them being on the Coachella lineup is going to push me to listen to them a lot in the next few months so I can be ready for their Coachella set. Matoma’s “Old Thing Back” remix was one of the first electronic songs I liked. I actually listened to it on my drive to Indio on the way to my first Coachella in 2015. I’ve never seen him perform either so I’ll really be looking forward to hearing Matoma’s Saturday set. One of Lost Kings first songs, “You”, was one of my favorite songs in 2016. I’ve listen to a few of their songs here and there since then too so I’m super stoked they’ll be a part of Coachella this year. Depending on their set time, I may not be able to see any of their set, but it’s still pretty cool that they’ll be performing.

Some other artists I’m hoping to get into in preparation for this year are electronic/pop singer Chelsea Cutler, punk band Mannequin Pussy, and alternative/pop-punk/scene artist YUNGBLUD. Also Carley Rae Jepson of “Call Me Maybe” fame will be playing this year so that might be a fun set to see. I’ve also heard great things about Emotional Oranges  and Sasha Sloan who has sang on Odesza and Kygo tracks that I’ve liked.

One of the most unusual/wonderful names on this part of the lineup is Emo Nite. Emo Nite LA is playing Coachella. How is that even a thing?! Emo Nite isn’t a band, artist, or DJ. It’s just an emo music party. I’m probably wrong about this but I feel like when the My Chemical Romance rumors started, Paul booked Emo Nite to try to make up for it! HA! It seems like great reasoning but I’m sure they were booked for a while. Maybe Emo Nite is just code for My Chemical Romance and the band will suddenly appear. I’m still pretty stoked about it and am definitely gonna try to go to Emo Nite.

So that’s it. Coachella 2020 is finally on the horizon and we have 3 months of prep to do. I feel like I have a ton to do and plenty of bands and artists to learn more about. As the years progress, I feel like Coachella is getting further and further away from the music I love and what the festival used to be. The atmosphere is still the best there is though. I also still have hope that one of these years the lineup is going to shock me. It might not be this year, but that just means I’m probably going to find a love in a lot of these acts just as I did last year with Maggie Rogers, Lizzo, and Dermot Kennedy.

You can look forward to band previews each week. I’m going to be working in Mexico again this year over the next two months but Coachella previews will be coming regardless. It’s always been my favorite thing to blog about from January to April and I won’t let anything stop it. So now it’s time to start listening. I already have. It’s Coachella SZN Baby! Let’s get this desert party started!

 

Best of Music in 2019

Here it is…the final post of 2019. These are some of my favorite songs, artists, and albums of the past year. I chose whatever one meant the most to be featured on this list. I picked 10 plus a few honorable mentions, half of which are two of my favorite guilty pleasures of this year. The list goes as follows:

“Back in My Body” -Maggie Rogers

I wrote last week about how Maggie’s debut album was one of the best of the decade. It is straight fire don’t get me wrong, but this song in particular meant the most to me this year. Last winter into spring, I listened to Maggie Rogers in preparation for Coachella. I bought the album on vinyl and listened to it through a couple times. I remember liking several songs on the record and this was included. It wasn’t until I was actually out at Coachella that I fell in love with this jam. Sometime during Weekend One I was driving around listening to Maggie and this song just hit me. I remember thinking, “Wow this is a great song!” and then I played it on repeat while I drove around Indio for the next two weeks.

I saw Maggie Rogers perform during Weekend 2 and recorded part of the song. It was my song of Coachella 2019. I don’t think anyone I worked with really knew about it, nor did I listen to it with anyone. It was just for me. It was the song I listened to driving to and from site by myself or to and from the Renaissance Hotel or to Zach’s house or on any errands I ran. I listened to it the day I left Indio and for days and weeks after I got home. Coachella 2019 was special for so many reasons and this song will always remind me of the festival, my friends, and the great times I had in the desert this past spring.

“Pizza Guy” -Touch Sensitive

Coincidently this is another song that I discovered in Indio thanks to my buddy Noah. For weeks leading up to Coachella, we discussed having a huge BBQ at our house between weekends. I bought a ton of food, we invited everyone we talked to, and Noah made a banging playlist for the BBQ. We had the BBQ and definitely didn’t have as many people as we thought show up. I also don’t think we ended up listening to the playlist much at all.

The next day though Noah, our other friend Ashley, and I ventured around the Coachella Valley to check out the biennial Desert X art exhibit. We ended up using the BBQ playlist as a soundtrack to our day. I remember hearing this song for the first time as I drove Noah and Ashley from one location to another as they smoked weed and drank road sodas in the back of my rental (yeah we’re dingy..it’s fine). I also remember checking out the name and artist of the song cause I really dug the vibe. It’s a song that doesn’t have lyrics, but it was chill and perfect for our day or any BBQ. I continued to listen to it after that day and in the weeks and months that followed Coachella. Much like “Back in My Body” it also reminds me of being at Coachella, but it also just gives me some major Cali vibes and will also always be synonymous with the great time I had out west this past spring.

Lizzo

Little did I know that when Lizzo’s name was on the Coachella lineup when it dropped on January 2nd that she would have such a huge influence on my year. She also had a huge impact in the music world in general. 2019 was really the year of Lizzo.

At the beginning of the year I had just started to get into her song “Good As Hell”. I used to start my day each morning by asking my Echo Dot to play it. Then I added “Juice” to my work out playlist. I listened to a few songs more songs here and there in preparation for Coachella too, but nothing really stuck out like those two. I saw Lizzo perform both weekends of Coachella. Each set was slammed. After her Weekend 1 set, I took a liking to “Boys”. I was into that for a while. Then as we all know “Truth Hurts” blew up. Recently I’ve been listening to “Water Me”. I also just bought my mom the Super Deluxe version of her debut album Cuz I Love You for Christmas so I’m sure the Lizzo train will continue into 2020.

The point is Lizzo was every where, all year, at all different points of the year for me. I saw her perform again at ACL in October. If I thought her Coachella set was crowded, I had no idea what was coming. There had to be about 40,000 people there each weekend. It was incredible. The great thing about Lizzo is that it’s not just her music that’s great, it’s her whole vibe. She always gives 110% at each performance and promotes hard work and positivity and it’s great to have an artist making music representative of that.

Without Fear -Dermot Kennedy

Besides Maggie Rogers’ Heard It in A Past Life, Dermot Kennedy’s debut album Without Fear has been one of my favorite’s this year. It’s been in my car CD player since October and I’m still listening to it when I’m not listening to my “Most Recently Added Playlist” on my iPod. I was introduced to Dermot Kennedy at Coachella this past year and began listening to his music afterwards. When a co-worker and I began discussing him at work one day in the summer, we decided we should see him play in October when he came to Philly. She was able to get us comp tickets for it too.

I bought his album in anticipation of the show and I really can’t get enough of it. I think he’s incredibly talented and his songs are some of the best lyrically that I’ve heard in a while, which is rare these days. For someone who grew up listening to punk/emo/alternative music, lyrics were huge for me. Lately music has been more of the sound and feel than lyrics for me. Dermot Kennedy has both. In recent years, I don’t think I’ve loved a line in a song as much as I love “see I’m in love with how your soul’s a mix of chaos and art,” from “Outnumbered”. I’m so hyped on Dermot Kennedy that I’m trying to plan to see him again in February, so I guess he’s headed into 2020 with me as well.

Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend’s new album, Father of the Bride, was definitely the music that I was most excited for heading into this year. When they announced their tour dates, I was online the day of the pre-sale buying tickets for an early September Philly date. I was able to secure great seats too. I spent a lot of the year listening to Vampire Weekend in anticipation of that show, including their new record. It wasn’t one of my favorites, but there were a few songs that I really enjoyed like “Harmony Hall” and “This Life”.  Thankfully at the show, they played plenty of old and new music. I think my favorite part was when they played “Walcott” on request. It was a fun night and one I looked forward to since I saw them play at Lollapalooza last summer. You can ask Lil’ Jon cause he always tells the truth, but I’m so glad the Ivy League boys made a comeback this year.

Client Liaison

Almost exactly a year ago I was introduced to Client Liaison. I was playing Yam Slam at my same buddy Noah’s house with him and his friend Lou. He turned on some music to play in the background and the song “Feed the Rhythm” came on. I thought it was great so I asked him who it was and both him and Lou began telling me about Client Liaison. “Feed the Rhythm” was one of my go-to jams to start the year and so were plenty of other Client Liaison songs. I continued listening to them throughout the year though too. They dropped a few new singles over the past couple months like “The Real Thing”, “The Beat Supreme”, and “Champagne Affection”. One thing Noah explained to me when he told me about them was that they never tour in the United States (they’re from Australia). I’m hoping next year and a new album (with all these recent singles it seems like it could be possible?!) changes that.

“Heart” -Rainbow Kitten Surprise

When I got back from my first trip to work festivals in Mexico I worked VIP for Rainbow Kitten Surprise at one of my favorite venues. I didn’t know much about the band at the time. It’s rare that everyone checks-in for VIP but when it happens I’m usually done with work earlier than expected and sometimes I even get to catch the VIP experience if there is one. It happened that night and I was able to watch some of Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s acoustic VIP set. They played the song “Heart”. I didn’t know what song it was at the time. It was catchy though and I liked it. I remember looking at their Spotify for the song in the days that followed and I couldn’t find it. I searched on the internet just by typing in a few lyrics I remembered and I stumbled upon a Youtube video of a member of the band playing the song on guitar. The song was sort of unreleased? A few months later the band released Mary (B-sides) which contained two songs. One of them was “Heart”. I began listening to the song whenever I wanted then. I downloaded it and added it to my summer work out playlist. When it comes on these days, I still love it. I’ll occasionally replay it too. It’s a great song and was a great introduction to Rainbow Kitten Surprise. I’ve since listened to a few of their other songs and I’ve definitely become a fan.

RÜFÜS DU SOL

For most of the year, I also anticipated seeing a full RÜFÜS DU SOL set. After only seeing part of their set at Electric Forest in 2018 and realizing how good they are, I decided to make it my mission to see a whole RÜFÜS DU SOL show. I bought tickets to see them play in August while I was in Mexico in January. They were also on the Coachella lineup so I figured I was definitely seeing them this year. I did see them. Twice. Leading up to both sets, I began listening to their entire discography. I got into plenty of RÜFÜS DU SOL songs including “Sundream”, “Tonight”, “Hypnotised”, “Say A Prayer”, and “Brighter” in addition to their new record and a few of their other songs that I already knew. Both sets were fantastic and at Coachella it felt like their song “No Place” was a theme because there really is “no place I’d rather be.”

“Catchy Song” -Dillon Francis (ft. T-Pain, That Girl Lay Lay)

This past year the second installment of the Lego movie came out in February. Haters gonna hate but I loved the first one. I saw the second one in early March after I returned home from my second stint in Mexico. The first movie had the original song “Everything is Awesome” by Tegan and Sara. The second movie’s music hit was “Catchy Song”, an electronic song by Dillon Francis featuring T-Pain and That Girl Lay Lay. The title doesn’t lie either. The song is super catchy. It’s also about how the song is so catchy, which I thought was pretty funny. It’s honestly a great song to work out to. I put it on my work out playlist of the time and also enjoyed listening to it too. I introduced my young cousin Hudson to the song since he enjoyed “Everything is Awesome” and sure enough he really liked “Catchy Song”. For most of March and even into April I couldn’t stop listening to the song. I still love listening to it any time I get to it on my iPod or anywhere else. It really is such a catchy song.

Hey I’m Just Like You -Tegan and Sara

In late July, Tegan and Sara announced a tour and new album as well as their memoir. The album, Hey I’m Just Like You, was released about 2 months later along with the book. It was comprised of songs the girls had written while in high school, but were re-recorded. They also may have adjusted the songs slightly but promised that each song stayed true to its original sound and meaning. I know many people who weren’t huge fans of the album or people who told me I wouldn’t be. I really liked it though!

I listened to it for a while once I bought it and even went to a show on their tour. It was such a unique concert experience that included the twins reading excerpts from their memoir while also playing music from the album and other songs they’ve written too. It felt like the Tegan and Sara musical, but way more cool than any musical would be. I’m so glad I was able to attend and really glad I got into the album because it was one of my favorite albums of this past year.

Honorable Mentions:

“Sucker” -Jonas Brothers (Guilty pleasure, sorry not sorry)

“thank u, next” -Ariana Grande (Another guilty pleasure, can’t even help it)

“Nervous Energy” -Glades (upbeat electronic track)

“Love You For A Long Time” -Maggie Rogers (late 2019 banger that didn’t make it on Heard It In A Past Life)

So there it is, the music world of 2019 for me. After a rough year personally for me in 2018, this past year, thanks to my travels and friends, helped me re-focus. In the end it gave me some really special experiences that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It also gave me a bunch of new career experiences that have helped me grow in the music industry. Since I started working in the music industry, I’ve gained more and more experience each year. This past year was no different. I went to Mexico, managed box offices and ticket helps, worked two festivals that were on my festival bucket list since I started (Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits), and even accepted a different role at Coachella that lead to the best year I had there yet. I’ve always set small goals for myself and ultimately achieved many of them. A lot of times, I felt good about making those goals happen. For the first time since I’ve started, I feel like 2020 might take me back to square one on a few things. It feels like it might be more of a challenge to try to achieve my new goals. I’m determined though so hopefully this year brings me even more experience.

As for music, I have hopes for a lot this year. I’m hoping Foster the People drops a new album and tours again. After releasing 4 new songs over the last 13 months, they have to have a new record and touring plans in the works right? I hope so at least.

Adele has also been rumored to have new music on the way. The rumors suggested we’d have a new song and album from her by the end of the year, but that didn’t happen so I’m hoping we get some new tunes from her soon.

Oh Wonder will be releasing a new album this year and heading out on tour. Based on my schedule there’s a good chance I won’t be able to catch any of their spring tour, but I’m excited for more new music to add to the singles they’ve already released over the last few months.

Glass Animals seem to be active again as well. After taking some time off and cancelling shows when their drummer was injured in a cycling accident, Glass Animals have started booking some festivals in 2020. It makes me think they’ll be releasing some new music too. I got into them too late in 2017 and I’m looking to redeem myself with new tour dates and a new album.

There’s Haim has been working and releasing new music so maybe we’ll even get a new Haim record too.

I’ve heard rumors about new Arctic Monkeys, which would be very exciting to have new music from them so soon after a 5 year gap in albums. Flume started touring again and releasing new music. The Strokes are back and set for a major tour. Also while writing my Top Albums of the Decade post, I started thinking, where has Lorde been?! She was quiet all of this past year. I would love to have some new Lorde! I would also love some new LCD Soundsystem! These are some big dreams but I can definitely hope.

One thing is for certain, the Coachella lineup will be dropping over the next few days, which means the hype is back, the previews are back, and we’re only a few months away from the yearly descent upon the Indio desert! Here’s to hoping 2020 brings the same kind of BIG MOODs, good vibes, and sick times that 2019 provided. Actually here’s to hoping it’s even better!