electronic rock

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

 

Advertisements

Trying to Find the In-Betweens

There’s many reasons I can give you about why music is special. It can make us feel a range of emotions, bring back memories, or create new ones. It can bring people together or tear them apart. It’s a powerful art form. Another reason why music is special is that it’s always there and that it keeps coming back. Some songs never get old, but bands and artists are constantly creating new ones. One cool thing about this is when you don’t hear about a band or an artist for a few years and suddenly they come out of the woodwork again with a new single and a new album on the way. Sometimes the album drops as quick as Beyonce’s self-titled, but many times fans have to wait a few weeks or months for the new record. I experienced this phenomenon recently with a band who I’ve liked since 2011. They’ve released two albums thus far and have a third set to debut in October. Their new single “Higher” came out on July 7th setting the stage for the latest album, Simple Forms. They’re called The Naked and Famous.

The Naked and Famous are an indie electronic band from Auckland, New Zealand. They formed in 2007 while band members Thom Powers (vocals, guitar), Alisa Xayalith (vocals, keyboard), and Aaron Short (vocals, keyboard) were in college and worked on two EPs together. In 2009 David Beadle (bass) and Jesse Wood (drums) joined the group. Their name comes from a line in the song “Tricky Kid” by English musician Tricky. The band released their debut album Passive Me, Aggressive You on September 6, 2010 under their own label. Their debut single from the album, “Young Blood”, which was released a few months prior, debuted on the New Zealand music charts at number one. It even peaked at the number 12 spot on the U.S. Top Alternative Albums Chart. The album earned them six nominations for the New Zealand Music Awards.

In 2012, after completing touring for their first album, The Naked and Famous relocated to Los Angeles, CA. They began working on their second album with the intention of creating an album that could be played live in its entirety without relying on backing tracks. The second album, In Rolling Waves, was released on September 16, 2013 with the first single “Hearts Like Ours” debuting on July 23, 2013. Since touring in support of their second album, the group has been silent for the last year and a half until the release of the single  “Higher” a few weeks ago. With a brand new album, Simple Forms, on the horizon, The Naked and Famous will be back in the music world once again.

Their music style is primarily indie electronic, but you could also say they’re indie rock, electronic rock, or even indie pop/synthpop. While their first album has a more electronic feel, their second is more rock. It shows the progression they made by creating an album that could be played entirely live. If “Higher” is any indication of what their third album will be like, it seems like they’ve transitioned their old sound with modern electronic music. The new single even has a hint of tropical house mixed in.

I first heard The Naked and Famous in the summer of 2011. “Young Blood” as well as two other songs off their first two EP’s “Serenade” and “Bells” were what I downloaded at the time. It was “Young Blood” that hooked me though. I bought the debut album in the coming weeks after downloading those songs and took a liking to several others on the record. Two years later as I booked my first trip to California in September I saw the band was playing a show in San Diego the night of the day of my arrival. At the time, it was over a year since I saw any live music performance (sad, I know) and I thought it would be cool to make a concert part of my first trip to the Golden State. I asked my cousin if she’d be up for it and she agreed to go with me.

My trip happened shortly after the release of the second album so I purchased it and listened to it non-stop before my departure. On the night of the show, I was running on about 3-4 hours of sleep and had been up for almost 24 hours straight due to my traveling earlier in the day. My cousin and I arrived at the House of Blues in San Diego right before The Naked and Famous came on (my cousin made a late dinner and had to clean up first). It was a great performance despite being interrupted twice for technical difficulties. By the end of the show I was so exhausted. I ended up being awake for about 25-26 hours that day between traveling and time zone switching. Seeing that show in California revived my love for the song “Young Blood”. After hearing the song live, my cousin decided she liked it and we played it a few times throughout my trip. That song and The Naked and Famous will always be a reminder of my first trip to California, which was incredible in so many other ways as well. I guess in that way The Naked and Famous demonstrates more than just one reason why music is special.

Here are some recommendations to get you ready for the new album due out October 14th:

  1. Young Blood
  2. Punching in a Dream
  3. All of This
  4. Serenade
  5. Bells
  6. Girls Like You
  7. Hearts Like Ours
  8. Rolling Waves
  9. No Way
  10. I Kill Giants
  11. Higher (The New Single!!)

 

Coachella Band Preview: LCD Soundsystem

Coachella is almost exactly 3 months away. Since the lineup release over a week ago, the days until the annual festival in the desert are decreasing. That only means one thing. It’s time to prep. Start planning your festival attire. Get out the sun tan lotion and listen to some tunes by the bands playing the event this year. As I said last week, even though I won’t be attending Coachella this year (unless there’s some spontaneous miracle), I plan on previewing the bands playing Coachella 2016 in the same way I did last year. The first band on my list is one of the headliners this year, LCD Soundsystem.

Formed in 2001 from New York City, LCD Soundsystem is the brainchild of singer-songwriter, record producer, and DJ, James Murphy. Murphy is also the co-founder of dance music record label DFA Records. Until the 2005 release of their self-titled debut album, LCD Soundsystem only released singles. Their debut album however received much acclaim including a Grammy nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album. The single “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” received a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording in the same year. LCD Soundsystem released their second album, Sound of Silver, in 2007 and it too received a Grammy nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album. Their third album, This Is Happening, came out in May 2010. It received top-ten status in the United States and was the group’s first album to do so. It was also listed as the number two album of 2010 by Pitchfork and the number 10 album of 2010 by Rolling Stone. Then in early 2011 the band announced on their website that they planned to call it quits, but not before one last farewell show to be played at Madison Square Garden in April. The final four hour long show took place on April 2, 2011 and was filmed as part of a live concert documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits, which was released the following year. Such was the end of LCD Soundsystem…or so we thought.

In late 2015 rumors began swirling that LCD Soundsystem would be reuniting in 2016 and playing some major music festivals. Then on Christmas Eve, a mere 3 weeks ago, the group released their first single in over 5 years “Christmas Will Break Your Heart”. A little over a week later, on January 4, 2016, it was announced the group would be headlining Coachella. The following day, via the group’s website, James Murphy posted this message to fans confirming the reunion of the much loved electronic/dance/punk group.

I was late to the LCD Soundsystem party, first hearing of the group after their “final” show in late 2011. It wasn’t even until over a year after the “final” show that I downloaded any of their music to my iTunes. The first song I heard by the group was “Dance Yrself Clean” and it’s still one of my favorite LCD Soundsystem songs. I eventually listened to more of their music and purchased their self-titled album on vinyl (it’s great on vinyl by the way). I do have to say though that if it wasn’t for my favorite acting/Hollywood couple and fellow music enthusiasts, Troian Bellisario and Patrick J. Adams, I wouldn’t have known this group at all. Thanks guys for the great recommendations!

As I mentioned, LCD Soundsystem is an electronic/dance/punk/alternative style music group. They were around before a lot of today’s EDM artists. Their style is a little different than the current EDM style though. Their music has more of an alternative/punk element. I feel like recent EDM is more pop. Also unlike current EDM artists, LCD Soundsystem’s music features an assortment of instruments and electronic devices, hence the whole “soundsystem” aspect. The group also features a variety of members who played the live shows as part of the group over the years. The most notable members include, Nancy Whang, Pat Mahoney, and Tyler Pope, but include at least 9 more individuals who have played for the band.  Murphy played the majority of the instruments himself while recording the albums.

If I were attending Coachella this year, the LCD Soundsystem set would be one of my most anticipated sets. They join the 2016 festival as a main headliner with Guns N’ Roses, who are also reuniting for Coachella, and Calvin Harris. Murphy and his pals play Saturday night. The LCD Soundsystem set should draw a huge crowd, especially with the large contingency of dance music fans who attend the festival. Not sure if I’ll be able to stay up to watch them perform, but I definitely have planned to try to find a video of their set afterwards. I’m a little jealous I won’t be at Coachella to see them live. Guess I’ll just have to catch an upcoming show somewhere else since the group is getting back together. To get you ready for Saturday night on the main stage though, play these hits:

  1. Dance Yrself Clean
  2. All My Friends
  3. Daft Punk is Playing at My House
  4. Drunk Girls
  5. Someone Great
  6. New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down
  7. Tribulations
  8. I Can Change
  9. Yeah
  10. North American Scum
  11. Tribulations