Firefly 2014

Coachella Band Preview: Vance Joy

Coachella 2018 Weekend 1 is just over six weeks away and I can finally say I’ll be back out there for my third Coachella! I just received an offer to work the festival again at the end of last week. My hype level was at a high for sure. After working last year and soaking up every minute, I always felt like I would be the luckiest person ever to return the following year to do the same thing. Now it’s actually happening! So cool. So so cool. Another cool thing about Coachella this year is that Vance Joy is performing.

Vance Joy, a.k.a. James Gabriel Wanderson Keogh, is a musician from Melbourne, Australia. He came on to the music scene in 2013 with his smash hit “Riptide” and hasn’t gone back since. He just released his second studio album, Nation of Two on Friday.

Vance Joy, whose name comes from the Peter Carey book Bliss, released his debut EP God Loves You When You’re Dancing in March 2013. In the time between the EP release and his debut album in 2014, “Riptide” peaked at the number 6 spot on the ARIA Singles Chart. It was also used in a U.S. GoPro commerical and reached spot 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the Alternative and Rock Airplay charts.

His debut album Dream Your Life Away was released in September 2014. He toured worldwide in support of the album, then joined Taylor Swift on her 1989 World Tour as an opening act. Besides opening for Taylor Swift in 2015, Vance Joy played Coachella, Governor’s Ball, and Austin City Limits among others. He also won an ARIA Award for Best Male Artist and was nominated for awards in six other categories for Dream Your Life Away. In 2014, he made festival appearances at Bonnaroo, Firefly, Glastonbury, and Lollapalooza. Tour life continued into 2016 with the Fire and the Flood Tour. The extensive touring ceased in 2017, but Vance Joy still played a few shows and festivals last year.

Vance Joy’s music is part of the indie music spectrum. It falls into the indie pop and indie folk categories. His music really does sound like a fitting combination of the two genres. One of Vance Joy’s signature elements is the use of a ukulele in several of his songs, “Riptide” being part of that group.

I first heard of Vance Joy because of the song “Riptide” (of course!). When I downloaded the song in the spring of 2014, it was before his first album was released. Since then, I’ve gotten into several Vance Joy songs. I even heard his performance at Coachella in 2015. He played at either the Gobi or Mojave Tent and it was too crowded to actually see his set. My cousin and I sat outside and listened instead. I also saw him perform at Panorama last summer. I caught some of his set since I was working the entire day. I definitely enjoyed it. He puts on a great live show.

I’m guessing that since the last time he played Coachella and his set was over-crowded that he’ll probably perform at either the Coachella Stage or the Outdoor Stage. He plays Sunday. He’s not listed as one of the top acts that day but I’m sure he’ll be performing in the late afternoon hours on one of the larger stages. It wouldn’t make sense to for him to have another time slot at a different stage. If I were just attending, his set would definitely be one I would try to catch. From a working perspective though, I would only catch it if I was off work at the time he performed. He’s a great musician and I love his music, but I have seen him before. Plus there are a couple others on Sunday that I would pick first if it came down to that. Regardless, if you’re attending, go to his set! I guarantee you’ll know something (even if it’s just “Riptide”) and you’ll be entranced by what you don’t know. Here’s a few songs you might want to check out to get you ready though:

  1. Riptide
  2. Georgia
  3. Like Gold
  4. Fire and the Flood
  5. Mess is Mine
  6. Lay It On Me
  7. Saturday Sun

 

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Phantogram

Wanna hear something crazy? There have been a number of bands I’ve liked whose albums I don’t own, but I have two albums by a band whose albums I normally wouldn’t go out of my way to purchase. Reason: Black Friday. Over the last 3-4 years or so, I’ve shopped for music on Black Friday because CDs are often reduced in price. Once I got Of Monsters & Men’s My Head is An Animal for $6. Then a year later I purchased 6 CDs for $7 each. It’s one of the best days to get CDs assuming they have what you want or have what you’re interested in.

This year the CDs I wanted were $8 a piece so I purchased three…or so I thought. Apparently instead of a CD, I purchased one of the albums on vinyl for $8 that included a free MP3 download of it. Can you say winning?! I mean that was mistakenly epic. It’s rare to get a new LP for under $10. Hell it’s rare to get one for under $15. I was stoked (in case you were wondering what it was, Cleopatra by The Lumineers). Then I realized something from my purchases. One of the CDs I purchased just didn’t feel like something I would buy if I didn’t have that $8 deal. Not only that, but I purchased an earlier album from the same band 2 years ago on a Black Friday deal. Crazy. I guess I like Phantogram more than I thought.

Phantogram is comprised of Greenwich, New York duo Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel. They formed the band in 2007 originally under the name Charlie Everywhere. They opted for a name change once they signed a record deal in 2009 claiming that they liked Phantogram better. It also suited their band more since it means a two dimensional optical illusion that appears as three dimensions (2 band members = 2 dimensions creating a third (music) which is something bigger than themselves…you get the picture). They released their debut self-titled EP a few months after signing their record deal. They followed it up with another EP later that year. Their first album, Eyelid Movies, was released on February 9, 2010 receiving favorable reviews from many sources. Their second album,¬†Voices, was released in early 2014. They released two EP’s between their first and second albums.

They spent their time between albums touring in the U.S. and in Europe. They also played several major music festivals in addition to their touring schedule including Coachella in 2011 and Bonnaroo and Governor’s Ball in 2012 (They haven’t played Coachella since so could be a lock for Coachella 2017). Following the release of Voices the band continued to tour and play festivals throughout 2014 including Firefly, Lollapalooza, Osheaga, and Austin City Limits. They recently released their third album coincidentally (or not coincidentally at all) called Three on October 7, 2016. They’re currently touring the U.S. in support of their newest album.

In terms of music style, Phantogram has been compared to the likes of Purity Ring, Sleigh Bells, The Naked & Famous, Washed Out, STRFKR, Tennis, and Local Natives. Their music falls under the indie electronica, electro rock, dream pop genres. To give you my best description, it’s like taking an electronic trip. The vocals are soft and flowy, but not enough to leave you too far gone. Phantogram’s tunes have been featured in a variety of outlets too from television to film to video games all of different themes.

I discovered Phantogram in September 2014. It was probably a random place or playlist that I heard their song “Celebrating Nothing”. I downloaded it though and listened to it along with other recently added songs. It was a good song, but never stood out from the rest. Regardless of that, I bought the album on Black Friday because $7 for Voices was a good deal. I probably thought the album was worth a listen too. I remember listening to each album I bought that year for about a week because it was/is tough to listen to 6 albums at once. Again this year I downloaded one song off Phantogram’s newest album a few months prior and decided to buy their album for cheap on Black Friday.

When I started this blog I had yet to listen to the album which came in the mail the other day, but I stopped to take a break while writing this. I also ate lunch and ran a few errands. While I was running errands I put the new album in my car’s CD player. It’s good. To me it’s similar to the second album because their music doesn’t sound drastically different. However, I’m not sure I paid attention to the second album enough to compare it. Voices was a background album for me meaning it’s the type of album that sounds good as background music on a drive, while hanging out with friends, etc. With that type of album though, no song stands out enough to set it apart from the rest. So far Three feels the same way. I haven’t listened to it enough yet to be one hundred percent sure. I’ve actually only listened to about half the album. Maybe in a few days I can do an edit and get back to you on that.

If you’re sensing¬† theme here about Phantogram you’re probably right. In my opinion, they’re good. That’s it. I’m probably downplaying them, but to me that’s all they are. They’re a little above average, but nothing spectacular. Most of the time I hype up the bands I write about. I can’t with these guys so here’s my honest opinion: They’re good, just good, but I still think they’re worth a listen. Some of you may like them more than others and some of you may really really like them. Some of you may listen to them once and decide you probably won’t listen to them again. Maybe some of you will even agree they’re good background music and buy their albums for cheap next Black Friday (if possible) like me. Here’s a couple of the songs I like by them (even if the list is small because like I said nothing stands out to me):

  1. Celebrating Nothing
  2. Cruel World
  3. Howling at the Moon
  4. Don’t Move
  5. You Don’t Get Me High Anymore