folk

Coachella Band Preview: Maggie Rogers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Coachella Band Preview: Fleet Foxes

Attention: We have now entered February. That means a measly 2 more months until the Coachella Valley Arts & Music Festival takes over the Indio desert. I hope you’ve been listening to some festival bands if you’re headed out there this year. This week’s preview features a band that has been around since 2006 and will be making only their second festival appearance.

Fleet Foxes, from Seattle, Washington, formed around 2006 when high school friends Robin Pecknold and Skyler Skjelset began making music together. They decided on the name Fleet Foxes because Pecknold thought it sounded like “some weird English activity like fox hunting” and because their original name “Pineapple” was already taken by a local punk band.

The band became popular through playing the local scene and through MySpace. It was because of the hype through their MySpace page and word of mouth that the band signed a record deal with Sub Pop, a subsidiary of Warner Music Group, in 2008. After releasing their first self-titled EP in 2006, the band then went on to record the EP Sun Giant with their new label. Their self-titled debut album was released 2 months later on June 3, 2008. It received favorable reviews in the U.S. and was named album of the year by Billboard’s Critic’s Choice, but was better received in Europe, selling 200,000 copies in 5 months after its release.

The band wanted to release a follow up album in 2009, but their tour schedule delayed that from happening. It wasn’t until May 3, 2011 that Fleet Foxes’ sophomore album, Helplessness Blues, dropped. The album eventually received a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album at the 2012 Grammy Awards.  Through 2011, the band toured in support of the album. After touring ceased it was announced that then drummer, Josh Tillman, had left the band. Tillman went on to start a new project recording and releasing albums under the moniker Father John Misty.

From 2012 until early 2017, news about Fleet Foxes was relatively quiet aside from new album rumors here and there. It wasn’t until January 2017 that it was confirmed that the band was working on a new album. The album, Crack-Up, was announced in March and was released in June 2017.

Fleet Foxes are primarily an indie folk band. You might call them folk rock too. A signature element to their sound is their harmonizing vocals that almost sound like you’re listening to the Beach Boys. Their music is far from surfer pop though. To me, their sound is what you’d expect indie music to sound like, so much so that I believe listening to their records on vinyl would be the best way to listen to them.

I first started listening to Fleet Foxes shortly after I entered my indie music/hipster phase. It happened in early 2012. I downloaded a few of their songs then purchased Helplessness Blues a few days later. It was only during that winter that I listened to Fleet Foxes. My interest in the band didn’t really extend beyond that, but in that time I did fall in love with their sound and “White Winter Hymnal”. There’s something about indie folk in the winter that just feels right to me. I think I can attribute that to Fleet Foxes.

Fleet Foxes plays Coachella on Saturday. As I mentioned it’s their second Coachella. They’re no strangers to the festival but it is their first time playing since 2009. They’re billed as one of the top acts that day so I’d expect to see them on the Outdoor Stage or Main Stage in the early evening hours. Saturday does have a stacked lineup with Haim, alt-J, and Post Malone, but I’d expect them to play around the time the sun sets. I could be wrong, but I can’t imagine a more perfect sound track to that time of day. Here’s a few songs to check out to get you ready for the moment they take the stage, whenever that time may be:

  1. White Winter Hymnal
  2. Helplessness Blues
  3. Mykonos
  4. Blue Ridge Mountains
  5. Montezuma
  6. If You Need To, Keep Time On Me
  7. Ragged Wood
  8. Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
  9. Your Protector
  10. Bedouin Dress

 

Hold Tight You’re Slowly Coming Back to Life

Back in 2011 when my music tastes veered towards the indie/indie rock/hipster scene, I continually looked for new music and had no problem finding it. I discovered plenty of bands/artists for the first time like Foster the People, Matt & Kim, Peter, Bjorn & John, The Naked and Famous, Young the Giant, Bon Iver, The Kooks, etc. (the list could go on because I shortened it while typing this). While searching for music during this time, I came across an artist that really intrigued me, but that I also, in a way, overlooked. She sang this incredible cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love”, as well as other indie songs, which I listened to several times over a month to two month period. The coolest part was that she was only 15! I never downloaded any of her songs though and with time I found other music to listen to. Over the past few years I would see her name pop up here and there, but I didn’t pay much attention until about two weeks ago. I heard a new single of hers while listening to a playlist on Spotify and fell in love all over again.

Jasmine Lucilla Elizabeth Jennifer van den Bogaerde, more commonly known to the music world as Birdy, is a 19 year old British singer/songwriter who hails from Lymington, Hampshire in the UK. She began her music career at the age of 7 when she started taking piano lessons. By age 8, she was writing her own music. In 2008 at age 12, she won the talent competition Open Mic UK where she competed against 10,000 others. In January 2011, she released her first single, which was the “Skinny Love” cover. It was her break-out single as the song became a hit on the UK Singles Chart reaching the 17th spot and was the third biggest selling rock single in the UK in 2011. She also released her debut self-titled album in November 2011 which was a compilation of various covers and one original song. The album was a huge success in Europe and Australia.

In 2012 she released an EP of live songs which included her original song “Just A Game” from The Hunger Games soundtrack. The same year she also contributed to the soundtrack of the film Brave with Mumford & Sons, which earned her a Grammy nomination in 2013. Her second full length album Fire Within was released in September 2013. She also contributed 3 songs to The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack which came out in 2014. Most recently, she released the singles “Keeping Your Head Up” and “Beautiful Lies” from her third album, Beautiful Lies,which is slated for a March 25th release date.

Birdy’s music is in the indie pop/indie rock genre. In fact her debut album features mostly indie covers. Along with the Bon Iver cover hit, she covers Phoenix’s “1901”, Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal”, The Postal Service’s “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”, The Naked and Famous’s “Young Blood”, The xx’s “Shelter”, and Cherry Ghost’s “People Help the People” among other songs. Following her debut, her music hasn’t changed much. Of course she’s releasing original music now, but the indie vibe to her tracks still exists. Her voice has a young feel to it as well. It hasn’t changed much through the years either despite getting her braces off which created a distinct sound on the Bon Iver cover.

Although Birdy’s success has mainly been overseas, I have a feeling she may get a bigger following in the U.S. soon for two reasons. First, her two singles from Beautiful Lies are off the hook, especially “Keeping Your Head Up”. That’s the song I heard that made me fall in love again and catch up with what Birdy’s been up to over the past few years. Second, Birdy’s getting older. She’s done shows in America before and toured playing small venues as a guest for Christina Perri, but she predominantly does shows in Europe. Her scheduled dates so far in support of her new album are in Europe. However, she’ll be 20 in May and I have a feeling at some point she’ll want to spread her wings across the pond. Her new album might just give her some leverage to do that too. While we’re waiting to see what else Birdy has to offer with this upcoming third album, here’s some songs you should hear by this talented young artist:

  1. “Skinny Love”
  2. “1901”
  3. “Wings”
  4. “People Help the People”
  5. “Tee Shirt”
  6. “Not About Angels”
  7. “Keeping Your Head Up”
  8. “Beautiful Lies”

Coachella Band Preview: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

We’re nearing the end of January which means it’s almost February which means it’s almost March which means it’s almost April which means it’s almost COACHELLA! So if you haven’t started prepping, now’s the time. There’s a lot of bands to listen to. The band I’m previewing today has been a band I’ve enjoyed for over 4 years now. Yesterday, they announced the release of a brand new album due out April 15th. Does that date sound familiar to anyone?! Yes, it’s the first day of Weekend 1 of Coachella 2016! Perfect timing for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

The story of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros begins with Ima Robot (famed for the Suits (TV show) theme song “Greenback Boogie”) frontman, Alex Ebert. After experiencing problems with the LA party lifestyle and drug addiction, Ebert moved out of his house, broke up with his girlfriend, and entered rehab. It was during his rehab stint that Ebert began writing a book about a christ-like figure named Edward Sharpe who came to earth to heal and save mankind, but ended up getting too distracted by girls and love. Ebert adopted the Edward Sharpe persona as sort of an alter ego, which in a way was something he needed at the time because he felt he lost his identity. When Ebert left rehab, he met and began dating singer, Jade Castrinos. The duo started writing music together as well. They eventually became a group of about 10+ members and played their first show together in 2007 in LA as Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

The band’s first show in 2009 came at the Marfa Film Festival in Marfa, Texas and their debut album Up From Below was released July 14th of the same year. In 2011, the band joined Mumford & Sons and Old Crow Medicine Show on the Railroad Revival Tour, which was the subject for the film documentary Big Easy Express, which won a Grammy for Best Long Form Music Video in 2013. After spending 2011 on tour, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros went into the recording studio to create the band’s second album, Here, which was released May 29, 2012. Then in 2013 the band released their third album, self-titled Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. After the release, the band toured across the globe playing shows and festivals. Aside from shows here or there, the band hasn’t really been very active since around the time of the release of their last album. With a new album on the way and two weekends at Coachella, 2016 will be a revival for the group who has since lost founding member Jade Castrinos (she left the group in 2014).

I first heard of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros in 2011 thanks to a song recommendation by a friend. Of course the song recommendation was their most known hit “Home”. It was definitely one of my most favorite songs of 2011 and I played it constantly for months from the time I first heard/downloaded it. I then downloaded the song “40 Day Dream” to add to my very very small collection of Edward Sharpe songs. I should probably say song though because “Home” was the only song in the collection at the time. Since then though, I’ve acquired every album the band has released to date, and I’ll most likely pick up a copy of PersonA when it’s released in April.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ music is mostly rooted in folk, whether that be indie folk, folk rock, or psychedelic folk. You may even call their music Americana at times as well. Overall, their music has a very hippie-like sound reminiscent of music from the 60’s and 70’s.

They play Sunday at Coachella this year and it won’t be the band’s first time to the Indio desert rodeo. However, the last time the band played was in 2010. Their set will no doubt be a fun one filled with plenty of hippies and flower children. It might just be one of the more chill, relaxing sets this year depending on what time they play. Perfect for Coachillin’, if you know what I mean. If you do plan on catching their set though, here’s what you should know:

  1. Home
  2. 40 Day Dream
  3. Janglin’
  4. Man On Fire
  5. That’s What’s Up
  6. No Love Like Yours (**this one is a Brand New single off their upcoming album)
  7. Better Days