grammy nominated

Gravity Can’t Hold Us Down

This Friday I’m attending my second ever electronic show. I probably wouldn’t be going to this show if it wasn’t for my friend’s love of electronic music and Odesza (the group we’re seeing) and the little vacation we’re going on. Nevertheless, it’s happening and because of it, I got into the electronic group.

Odesza is comprised of electronic music duo Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight. Mills and Knight met while they were both students at Western Washington University and began making music together as Odesza during their senior year. The band name was made out of an alternate spelling of Mills’ uncle’s ship that sunk.

Odesza’s self-released first album Summer’s Gone was released on September 5, 2012, two months before they played their first show. Their first EP My Friends Never Die was released a year later. In the fall of 2013, the group opened for Pretty Lights and then embarked on their first headlining tour the following year. It was a quick start for Odesza who gained popularity through streaming sites like Soundcloud and Spotify and by word of mouth.

In September 2014, Odesza released their second full length album In Return and played a sold out headlining tour that fall in support of it. The group also began playing music festivals as well beginning with Sasquatch! Music Festival in Gorge, Washington in 2013. They have since gone on to play Coachella, SXSW, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Firefly, Governor’s Ball, and several others.

This past September Odesza released their third full length album A Moment Apart and announced a world tour in support which began on September 14th in Auckland, New Zealand, after a preview of the new live show in May at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater. The tour has since made their way into the United States and the album was recently nominated for a Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic Album. The track “A Line of Sight” feat. Wynne and Maisonair was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Dance Recording. The group was previously nominated in 2015 for Best Remixed Recording, Nonclassical for “Say My Name (RAC remix)”.

As electronic artists, Odesza fits in the sub genres of electropop, indietronica, chillwave, and future bass. Their style is sort of like a blend between electronic music, indie music, and pop music filled with synth lines and subtle rises and falls of energy and bass. Their new album has a several collaborations which account for the vocals on their tracks. Their songs create this dreamy, nostalgic type of feeling regardless of whether the tracks have vocals or not though.

I first heard of Odesza in late 2015 when a family member who I hadn’t talked to in years asked if I liked them after I told him I was attending an alt-J concert in the coming month. I told him that I didn’t and he told me how awesome they were. Then we started talking about something else and I never even checked them out. To be fair, at the time I was dealing with a lot of other things so I just kind of forgot about it. I first listened to Odesza in late September-early October of this year, shortly after the new album release. I liked the song “Higher Ground” and added it to my workout/new music playlist on Spotify. It was only about 2 weeks later that my friends and I had planned a trip to New York City and bought tickets to see them in Brooklyn.

Since purchasing tickets, I’ve listened to Odesza a lot more. We received a free copy of the new album with our tickets so when that came in the mail I put the CD in my car for a while. I also recently purchased their sophomore album too and have been binge listening to it.  It’s safe to say that I definitely became a fan. I’m beyond stoked for Friday night. I can’t wait to see what kind of energy they’ll bring by playing in a large scale venue like the Barclays Center, but I’m sure it’ll be epic. I’m also just stoked to see this band play with my friend and to witness her fully in her element as an electronic music fan.

I highly recommend checking out Odesza, but especially this new album. There’s a reason it was nominated for a Grammy. Even after listening to In Return several times, there’s just something special to A Moment Apart that Odesza’s been working towards since their inception. You’re bound to find at least one song you like. It’s that good and it’ll only be a matter of time before Odesza hooks you for real.

 

 

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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: Sia

As I say almost every time I post a Coachella Band Preview, the days keep dwindling until the epic festival in the desert. At this point, less than 2 months remain until Coachella Weekend 1. This week I’m actually not previewing any band though. I’m previewing a singer who’s been active since the mid-90’s, but has only received great acclaim in the last 2 years. I’m not sure if you’d be able to recognize her if you saw her out on the streets somewhere due to her somewhat recent decision to not show her face when she performs. You may however know her from her over-sized platinum blonde wigs that cover most of her face. If that rings a bell, then yes it’s Sia and she’ll be performing at Coachella this year for the first time (sort of, but I’ll explain later).

Australian singer-songwriter, Sia Furler, known to the world as Sia, began her singing career shortly after she graduated high school in 1994 as a singer for acid jazz band, Crisp. By 1997 the band broke up and Sia released her debut solo album, OnlySee, but the album didn’t receive much success. Sia then moved to London where she performed as a background singer for the band Jamiroquai and lead vocalist for the band Zero 7. During the time she fronted Zero 7, she released her second and third solo albums entitled Hearing is Difficult (2001) and Colour the Small One (2004), respectively. The single “Breathe Me” off Colour the Small One received commercial success throughout several countries in Europe and even gained Sia some attention in America as the track was featured in the final episode of the HBO series Six Feet Under. By 2005, Sia decided to make the move to America in an effort to further her music career.

Between 2007 and 2010, Sia released three more albums. The first was a live album in 2007, Lady Croissant, which featured songs performed at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City in April 2006 while she was on tour and one studio track, “Pictures”. The following year she released her fourth studio album, Some People Have REAL Problems and in 2010 released her fifth album, We Are Born. Both albums had a few successful singles that were charted in a few European countries and Australia. We Are Born even won the artist two ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Awards in 2010. After touring in North America, Europe, and Australia to promote We Are Born, Sia decided to retire from her career as a recording artist and focus on becoming a pop songwriter. It was at that point that the unexpected happened.

Sia wrote a song for recording artist Alicia Keys. However, the song was sent to French DJ and EDM artist David Guetta. David Guetta ended up using the song with Sia’s original demo vocals without her approval and the song, called “Titanium”, became a worldwide mainstream success. Despite the popularity of the song, Sia wasn’t pleased since she had recently retired and wanted to focus on songwriting. She did co-write songs from 2011-2013 for many artists like Beyonce, Flo Rida, and Rihanna. In a similar situation to the one with David Guetta, Flo Rida used Sia’s vocals on the song “Wild Ones”.

In 2013, Sia came out of retirement, so to speak, and released the single “Elastic Heart” featuring The Weeknd and Diplo as a song on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack. In July 2014, she released her sixth album, 1000 Forms of Fear, which she intended to be the last album she needed to release in order to release her from her record deal, but the album became her most successful to date. It debuted in the top spot on the Billboard Top 200 and sold 52,000 copies in the first week. It reached the top ten on numerous European charts and number 1 in Australia. Along with “Elastic Heart”, which she released as a solo version on the album and as a single, the track “Chandelier” received high praise worldwide. Sia even received four Grammy nominations in 2015 for “Chandelier”, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, and Best Music Video. After the Grammys last year, Sia announced she had completed a follow up album to 1000 Forms of Fear because of her success.

Sia’s seventh album This Is Acting was released January 29, 2016. Her first single from the album, “Alive”, which she co-wrote with Adele, debuted prior to the album release in September 2015. In the following months leading up to the album debut, she also released several other singles, “Bird Set Free”, “One Million Bullets”, “Cheap Thrills”, “Reaper”, and “Unstoppable”. I’m not sure if her latest album will achieve the same success as her prior release, but with the quality of the newest album, it may come close.

Sia’s music can be considered pop, indie pop, and electropop, but her vocals incorporate elements of hip-hop, funk, and soul. I feel like her most recent work (1000 Forms of Fear and This Is Acting) exhibits more power in her vocals than in past records as well, especially in the songs “Alive”, “Chandelier”, “Unstoppable”, and “Eye of the Needle”. If you listen to We Are Born the last album before her “retirement”, it has a much more indie pop vibe. Some People Have REAL Problems is more pop with elements of soul included and Colour the Small One is very pop as well. Healing is Difficult has a hip-hop style and almost reminds me of 90’s hip-hop/R&B girl group, TLC. It’s evident that throughout the years of her career Sia’s style has fluctuated, but it seems that she’s finally found her niche with her power pop vocals and pop/indie pop sound.

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t heard of Sia before she was featured on “Titanium” and released her latest two albums. I definitely heard of her throughout the 00’s, but never listened to her music because it didn’t fit with what I was listening to at the time and also because she wasn’t a “big deal” musically. Even within the last two years, I didn’t listen to her music. It’s only been during the last few weeks or so that I really started getting to know this talented artist. I added the song “Elastic Heart” to my Spotify playlist of recent music finds after seeing it on my favorite soccer player’s monthly music playlist and liking the song after listening to it a few times. It was recent single “Cheap Thrills”, which again was featured on that player’s monthly playlist, that hooked me on Sia though. I just purchased her latest album on Friday and have been listening to it since. It’s good. She’s good. I may just have to purchased 1000 Forms of Fear as well, except, I definitely want it on vinyl.

As I mentioned before, it will sort of be Sia’s first time performing at Coachella this spring. She appeared during David Guetta’s set in 2012 to perform “Titanium”, but has not ever done a solo set at the annual event. Sia’s Coachella appearance will actually be her first live set in five years, so it should attract a huge audience. Not to mention in the last five years Sia’s popularity has sky rocketed. Sia plays Sunday at Coachella. If I had to make a guess, even though set times won’t be released for weeks, I’ll say she probably plays the main stage before Calvin Harris closes out the weekend. You’re most likely not gonna want to miss her performance, so to get you ready:

  1. Chandelier
  2. Elastic Heart
  3. Cheap Thrills
  4. Alive
  5. Breathe Me
  6. Big Girls Cry
  7. Unstoppable
  8. Clap Your Hands
  9. Bird Set Free
  10. Fire Meets Gasoline
  11. Eye of the Needle

 

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

Coachella Band Preview: Alabama Shakes

Too hyped that Coachella is only 3 weeks away? Me too. I’ve been listening to music, planning what to pack, and figuring out some other things I need for my arrival in beautiful Southern California. It’s about to get so real. In the meantime though, I’ve decided to blog about a band from the south playing the festival this year for their first time, Alabama Shakes.

Alabama Shakes was formed in 2009 when lead singer/guitarist Brittany Howard and bassist Zac Cockrell began writing songs while still in high school together in Athens, Alabama. They recruited drummer Steve Johnson to join the group  prior to recording some of the tracks they had been working on. Later, guitarist Heath Fogg came on board and so began their life as Alabama Shakes. They were formerly just called The Shakes but added the “Alabama” to differentiate from other bands also known as The Shakes. Their first album Boys & Girls was released in April of 2012, but they started gaining attention prior to that due to the release of a four song EP in September 2011. The band received Grammy nominations for “Best New Artist” and “Best Rock Performance” the following year for their work on the debut album.

I first heard of Alabama Shakes in the spring of 2012 shortly after the release of Boys & Girls. I heard the single “Hold On” and really enjoyed it. Then I remember reading about the group/album thinking, “these guys are gonna be like Foster the People was last year. I need to get into them before everyone else finds out about how good they are. (I like to say I knew about bands “first”.)” So I went out and bought the album. I told all my friends to listen to them. I saw they were touring and selling out shows after a solid performance at SXSW (South by Southwest) that year. However, what I thought would happen didn’t really happen as I expected. Alabama Shakes did end up receiving those Grammy nominations that were predicted when I first heard about them, but I still think Foster the People blew up more.

The band plays a blues, soulful type of rock known as roots rock, which is a combination of folk, blues, and country rock. They could also be classified in the Americana genre. Now that I think about it, it makes total sense why I got into Alabama Shakes in spring 2012. It was also at that point that my interest in The Black Keys started to peak. I purchased El Camino probably a month before I got Boys & Girls. Although I wouldn’t classify their styles and sounds as being the same, both Alabama Shakes and The Black Keys have some similarity with the blues rock sound they produce. Alabama Shakes definitely has more soul and a country-ish feel to their music though. I guess I kind of progressed to Alabama Shakes after listening to The Black Keys.

Like some other bands/artists playing Coachella this year, Alabama Shakes also have a new album due out soon after the festival (the week after Weekend 2 to be exact). The sophomore album is called Sound & Color and the group has already released two singles from it, “Gimme All Your Love” and “Don’t Wanna Fight”, but I doubt those will be the only new tracks the band plays in Indio. This year Alabama Shakes joins Coachella for the first time in a minor headlining role. They play Friday on both weekends. There’s not that many bands I have on my must-see list for Friday, but Alabama Shakes is one of them. I remember wanting to see them in 2012, but not having anyone to go with (at that point I wasn’t too keen on going places by myself). So now I can finally fulfill those wishes.

Song recommendations:

1. Hold On

2.Don’t Wanna Fight

3. Hang Loose

4. Always Alright

5. You Ain’t Alone

6. Be Mine

7. I Found You

Coachella Band Preview: Florence + the Machine

It’s close to the one month countdown to Coachella Weekend One which means it’s time to ramp up your music listening. It also means it’s time to talk about another band playing the festival this year. This group out of the U.K. has been making a name for themselves since the release of their first album Lungs. With the anticipation of the release of their third album slated for this June, Florence + the Machine is sure to put on a killer set at Coachella this April.

Florence Welch and her friend Isabella “Machine” Summers are the founding members of the group which started in 2007. Along with Robert Ackroyd, Chris Hayden, Tom Monger, and Mark Saunders, the band released their first album in July of 2009. It sold over 100,000 copies in a month and debuted at #1 on the U.K. charts. The BBC supported the band and played a big role in the attention they received upon the release of their album. After touring, playing plenty of festivals, receiving award nominations (including a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist) and a few awards since the release of Lungs, Florence + the Machine released their sophomore album Ceremonials in October 2011. The album received much praise and gave more attention to the already well-known band. They received two more Grammy nominations, VMA nominations, Brit Award nominations, and other award nominations in the years post-Ceremonials release.

In 2012 Florence + the Machine played their first Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival in a minor headlining role. This year it’s no different. Their blend of soulful and dark indie rock will be flowing through the large crowds in Indio in a little over a month with hits like “Dog Days Are Over”, “Shake It Out”, and “What the Water Gave Me”. I’m sure they’ll be playing some new material like their already released first single off their new album “What Kind of Man”. Their set is bound to be a favorite among festival-goers. It’ll be worth checking out.

So check out these songs in the meantime to get you ready:

1. “Dog Days Are Over”

2. “Shake It Out”

3. “No Light, No Light”

4. “Spectrum”

5. “Cosmic Love”

6. “Howl”

7. “Only If For A Night”

8. “Kiss With A Fist”

9. “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”

10. “What the Water Gave Me”