grammy award winner

Coachella Band Preview: St. Vincent

February is finally almost over. It seems like winter tends to drag on because life moves slower. It does for me at least. There are less shows, barely any festivals, and the snow sucks. Thankfully, Coachella and the rest of festival season is inching closer and closer. This week to prep for the Coachella Valley’s finest I’m previewing an artist who goes by the name of St. Vincent.

Anne “Annie” Erin Clark, better known to the world as St. Vincent, began her music career as a member of the choral rock band the Polyphonic Spree, after attending the Berklee College of Music for 3 years. Before starting her own group in 2006, she was a member of Sufjan Stevens touring band too. During her childhood, Clark began playing guitar at the age of 12 and was a roadie for her aunt and uncle, jazz duo Tuck & Patti. She got her stage name of St. Vincent from a lyric in Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ song “There She Goes, My Beautiful World”.

In 2007, St. Vincent released her debut album Marry Me. After extensive touring for the album over that year, Clark began her second album in 2008. The album, Actor, was then released on May 5, 2009. It was more well received than her debut as it peaked at 90 on the Billboard 200 Chart as well as 9 on the Independent Albums Chart and 5 on the Tastemaker Albums Chart.

Strange Mercy, St. Vincent’s third album, was released on September 13, 2011 receiving tons of critical acclaim and peaking at 19 on the Billboard 200. Clark toured worldwide through 2012 then it was back to the studio to work on her next album. In 2012 she also released a collaborative album with with former Talking Heads lead guitarist and vocalist and fellow Coachella 2018 performer David Byrne.

Her fourth album, St. Vincent, was released in February of 2014. A few months prior she announced a world tour in 2014 and released two singles in anticipation of the self-titled album. Again the album was well received and ranked highly in multiple publications. The album earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album which she subsequently won. Her touring for the album continued into 2015.

Her most recent album to date, Masseduction, was released on October 13, 2017. It was Clark’s first album to peak in the top 10 of Billboard’s 200 Chart upon release. It reached the 10 spot. It also sold close to 30,000 copies in the first week of its release with 25,000 of those being traditional album sales.

St. Vincent has a very unique music style. You may classify it as indie rock, but the sound often uses complex arrangements and an array of instruments. Sometimes it sounds pretty wild and almost like music in the background of a horror movie. It’s music in a true artistic form and complemented by lyrics that often diverge into madness. Clark’s voice is that of a former choir girl and adds beauty to the mixture of sound.

I first heard of St. Vincent while reading one of the Pretty Little Liars novels. In the book, it mentioned one of the girls on a drive listening to St. Vincent’s “Actor Out of Work” and singing it at the top of her lungs. I decided to listen to the song after reading that part of the book since I had never listened to St. Vincent before then. I really liked it and decided to download it. Since then I had only downloaded “Digital Witness” after hearing it in 2014. I never really got into Clark’s music as a whole, but for some reason, I began listening to the singles released for her most recent album “New York” and “Los Ageless” over the summer. At the end of November, I worked one of her shows on her “Fear the Future” Tour. I was also able to listen in on some of her VIP  Q & A and stay for most of the show after I finished work. I always appreciate a Q & A because I feel like you get to learn a bit about band or artist. This was no exception. I developed an appreciation for St. Vincent and Annie Clark. Not to mention, I had recently purchased Masseduction. The show was overcrowded though. I couldn’t see much from where I was standing and I ended up leaving a little over halfway through to make it home. I did enjoy it though and would love to see her again if I had the opportunity.

Coachella would be the perfect opportunity if I was attending this year. She would definitely be on my must-see list for Friday. She’s listed as a highly billed act this year so I would expect a late afternoon-evening set. If you’ve never seen her or listened to her music before, it’s pretty artistic. I think that element alone can make people curious to hear her and/or see her live. She also has plenty of visuals during her performance that add to the artistic nature of her music. To get you prepped for her third Coachella performance here’s a few staples you should check out:

  1. Digital Witness
  2. Cruel
  3. New York
  4. Masseduction
  5. Actor Out of Work
  6. Marry Me
  7. Cheerleader
  8. Birth in Reverse
  9. Los Ageless
  10. Surgeon

 

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Coachella Band Preview: Lorde

Another week down in the countdown to Coachella 2017 means another band preview. This time it’s not a band I’m previewing. It’s a singer who hails from New Zealand named Ella Yelich-O’Connor. You may know her better as Lorde.

Lorde came on to the music scene as a 16 year old in 2013. She had an interest in music growing up and performed while in Intermediate School with her musician friend Louis McDonald. It was because of McDonald’s father that Lorde signed a deal for development with Universal Music Group. He sent an audio and video recording of his son and Lorde covering two songs together to A&R at UMG. The duo performed under the name Ella & Louis. When Lorde went solo, she decided on the stage name “Lorde” because she was fascinated by aristocracy and royal folk. Because “Lord” seemed to masculine, she added an “e” at the end of “Lord” to give it a more feminine touch.

Lorde self-released her first EP, The Love Club EP, in November of 2012 via her SoundCloud and also made the record free to download. After reaching high download numbers, UMG released the EP for sales in March of 2013. Lorde released her debut album Pure Heroine in late September 2013. She embarked on an international tour in conjunction with the album release that began in North America in early 2014 and made several festival stops along the way including the Laneway Festival in Australia, Lollapalooza and three South American Lollapaloozas, and Coachella. Her debut album featured the chart-topping single “Royals” which was also a track on The Love Club EP. “Royals” earned Lorde two Grammy Awards for “Best Pop Solo Performance” and “Song of the Year” in 2014 in addition to four New Zealand Music Awards in 2013, two Billboard Music Awards, three World Music Awards, one MTV Video Music Award, and the New Zealand APRA Silver Scroll Award in 2013.

Lorde’s music style is an edgier kind of pop music. Alternative pop is how I would define Lorde’s music style, but it’s truly a combo of indie pop, dream pop, and electropop. Since Lorde hasn’t released new music in over 3 years, it’ll be interesting to hear how her new music sounds, if it fits her current style, or evolves into something slightly different, which brings me to my next point.

Since 2014, Lorde has been relatively quiet. In September of that year, Lorde released a single for the Hunger Games series’ film Mockingjay – Part 1 called “Yellow Flicker Beat”. She was also featured on the Disclosure song “Magnets” in 2015. Otherwise Lorde has not released a new album since 2013’s Pure Heroine, which is expected to change this year. Although no official release date has been set yet, Lorde’s new album is expected to drop in Spring 2017. Perfect timing considering her Coachella performance. I’m sure the new album will also involve another tour and possibly more festival dates. Along with Coachella, she will also be performing at Governor’s Ball in NYC in early June followed by Bonnaroo a week later. Several festival lineups have yet to be released so like I said there might be a few more festivals for Lorde in 2017.

I’m pretty excited to hear what Lorde’s been working on. I’ve been a Lorde fan since August 2013 when I first heard the song “Royals”. It was around that time that I booked my flight for my first trip to California to visit my cousin who lived near Oceanside, and about a month later “Tennis Court” became a song I listened to in anticipation of the trip. There are lyrics in “Tennis Court” that go “pretty soon I’ll be getting on my first plane,” which I related to at the time. My flight to California was by no means my first plane trip. I flew to Florida three other times and Las Vegas as well, but before my trip to California my most recent flight was nine years prior. I obviously got older in those nine years. By getting older, I became more worried about things than I did when I was 15, so I was kind of nervous for my flight to Cali, which made it feel like my first time. During that month before hearing “Tennis Court” made me filled with anticipation, nerves, and excitement for my trip.

After Lorde played Coachella in 2014, she dropped off my radar for a bit, until last summer when I worked at the Firefly Music Festival. Lorde playing a secret DJ set in our lounge, a secret set at the festival, or just a random festival appearance became an inside joke amongst my fellow crew members. Someone even brought up that Lorde had just disappeared so it made the thought of a random appearance or set even funnier. The joke got even better when Lorde did show up in one of our lounges at another festival. I wasn’t working at that one, but I laughed pretty hard upon hearing the story. I guess that was just a precursor to the epic 2017 she’s expected to have.

That epic 2017 all begins with Coachella. The last time she played the festival she was a prime time act on Saturday night. This time she’ll be a prime time act on Sunday night. There’s no doubt she’ll take the main stage before Kendrick Lamar closes out each weekend. She’ll probably draw a huge crowd as well. If you plan to see her even remotely close, you’ll need to get there way before her set. Maybe even before the set before hers. Along with whatever singles she releases before the festival (or her new album if that comes out too), you’ll need to listen to these songs to prep for the starlet’s serenading:

  1. Royals
  2. Team
  3. Tennis Court
  4. Buzzcut Season
  5. Yellow Flicker Beat
  6. White Teeth Teens
  7. Glory and Gore
  8. The Love Club
  9. 400 Lux
  10. A World Alone

 

19, 21, 25

No the title of this post does not refer to lottery numbers. Nor are they the “lucky numbers” I received on the back of a fortune cookie. If you’re in tune to the music world, no pun intended, you’ll know those numbers are more than just numbers. They’re the album titles of three records made by one of the most popular musical artists in recent time.

Almost five years ago, right before I became a hipster in style and music taste, I bought an album from the local record store. I don’t even remember what album it was. Along with the album though, I received a free compilation CD of newly released music. This wasn’t an unusual occurrence. From time to time, the store gave out these compilation CD’s when you made a music purchase. I would always listen to them to see if I was missing out on any new music. On this particular occasion, there were a few songs that caught my ears, but there was one that really stood out. It was a song called “Rolling in the Deep” by a singer named Adele.

Pop singer/songwriter, Adele Laurie Blue Adkins, from Tottenham, London, England grew up with a strong affinity for music. She attended the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology and graduated in 2006 (Jessie J. and Leona Lewis were among her classmates). The same year she was given her first recording contract from XL Recordings after a friend posted her demo on Myspace. By 2008, she released her debut album, 19. It went seven times platinum in the UK and double platinum in America. She received the Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 2009 for her work on it. Her second album, 21, was released on January 24, 2011. The following year she swept the Grammy’s winning a record-tying six awards including Album of the Year. 21 reached number 1 on the charts in more than 26 countries, has been certified 16 times platinum and is the fourth best selling album of all time in the UK, certified Diamond in the U.S., and has sold over 30 million copies world wide. It’s safe to say 21 surpassed the success of her debut record.

However, for the last four years, Adele has been on hiatus. The only music she released was the song “Skyfall” for the James Bond movie of the same name in 2012. She received a Grammy, an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe for the song. A few weeks ago, on October 23rd, Adele dropped the first single from her third studio album entitled “Hello”. In its debut week, the single sold over one million digital copies. The music video for “Hello” surpassed Taylor Swift’s video for “Bad Blood” by 7 million views on Vevo in the first 24 hours after its release. Finally, today, after almost 5 years, Adele released her new album, 25. If the success of “Hello” is any indication, this album is bound to go far in the music world.

To put it bluntly, Adele is a big fucking deal. The woman has the voice of an angel. Her music is incredibly full of soul and power. It’s been known to make entire civilizations weep. Between her singing, the music, and the lyrics, the whole message she sends with her songs can deeply touch the toughest of souls. It’s truly beautiful. She is one of the greatest singers of this generation.

When I first heard her single “Rolling in the Deep”, I had no idea who Adele was. I just liked her song. I even purchased 21 a few months later because of that sole reason (and I guess because I thought she was a good singer). At the time I was a senior in college on the verge of graduation and since high school, I was a self-proclaimed pop music hater. I guess Adele sort of changed that, but if you ask me I don’t think she creates and sings the same kind of pop music that singers like, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, or Lady Gaga do. It’s a different kind of pop music. It’s not something you really rock out to on the radio or dance to in a club, but more so music you sing along to at the top of your lungs on a long drive (or listen to in your bed with a tub of ice cream, box of chocolate, and tissues after a bad day), which is kind of how my love grew for Adele in the first place.

I purchased 21 right around the time of my college graduation. Three weeks after I graduated I went on vacation with my mother and our very close family friends. It took six hours to reach our destination and the whole trip I alternated between listening to 21 and Foster the People’s Torches. That’s when I truly fell in love with Adele. When we were about 15-20 minutes from our hotel, I blasted “Rolling in the Deep” and “Rumor Has It” on repeat partly because I loved those songs and partly because they were upbeat, it was around midnight, and I was trying not to fall asleep. For those reasons, 21 (and Torches) will always remind me of that trip.

As for 25, I picked up my copy earlier today. Like the rest of the world, I’ve been anticipating it for weeks. I’ve actually been listening to it on my boombox (cause yes I still buy CD’s) on repeat while I wrote this entire blog. I can’t say I have any complaints either. Much like Adele’s singing, the album is flawless. The message in 25 is much different than her previous works though. 19 and 21 were break-up albums, full of angsty, heart-breaking tunes. Just like a lot of us out there, Adele was once an emo kid and now she’s in her 20’s, she has child, and she’s done some maturing since her last album. 25 is about growing up. Being in the same generation as Adele, this album is so relate-able. When you’re in your 20’s, you’re caught between youth and adulthood, and that’s really the whole theme of the album. The songs are filled with nostalgia. “Hello” is a heartbreak apology. “When We Were Young”, “I Miss You”, and “Remedy” reminisce an old love. “Water Under the Bridge”, “Love in the Dark”, “All I Ask”, and “Sweetest Devotion” show maturity and understanding of what being in an adult relationship is about, and “Million Years Ago” is a reminder of youth. As much as I love all of Adele’s music, my favorites are the more upbeat songs. One of my favorites on the new album, “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)”, has this pop/folk feel to it, and I fell in love the first time I heard it. The same is true for “River Lea”. It’s an upbeat track full of memories. Target also released an exclusive version of the album containing three extra tracks, “Can’t Let Go”, “Lay Me Down”, and “Why Do You Love Me?”. Since I didn’t buy the album from Target, I’ve yet to hear these songs. Don’t worry though, I plan on hearing them and loving them soon enough.

In reference to the string of numbers for album titles, each title obviously reflects the singer’s age when she wrote the music. It’s a pretty clever way of categorizing your work, if you ask me. 19 launched Adele’s career and who knows if she will ever release an album as successful as 21. I’m sure 25 is on its way to put up a good fight and earn Adele a few more accolades in the process. If you don’t feel like missing out on this completely relate-able musical journey of Adele’s life, I would recommend listening to her music and buying/downloading a copy of 25. To get you started though, here are some other songs to check out:

  1. “Rolling in the Deep”
  2. “Rumor Has It”
  3. “Someone Like You”
  4. “Set Fire to Rain”
  5. “Chasing Pavements”
  6. “Hiding My Heart”
  7. “Hometown Glory”
  8. “Make You Feel My Love”