hip-hop music

Coachella Band Preview: Rex Orange County

This is my last week in Mexico and I have to say it’s been a great run. It’s always an exciting time to start the year, but I think all of us here are aware of the unofficial name of the Mexico runs…the Coachella pregame. Now that we’re halfway through February, Coachella is officially on the horizon. I’ve realized one thing while preparing for Coachella down in Mexico. It’s that there’s no better artist to prep for Coachella with down here than Rex Orange County.

At just 21 years old, Alexander O’Connor, aka Rex Orange County, is an indie pop artist from Grayshott, England. He got his moniker from a nickname he received growing up, “the OC”, based on his last name “O’Connor”. While growing up he was in the school choir and also learned to play drums. Because of his drumming talents, he attended the BRIT school, whose alumni include Adele, Amy Winehouse, and King Krule. Beyond the drums and singing, he’s also a self-taught pianist and guitarist.

In 2016, Rex Orange County self-released his first album bcos u will never b free on SoundCloud. The album release brought him some attention from Tyler the Creator. Rex eventually worked on a few of Tyler’s tracks (“Boredom” and “Foreword”) on Flower Boy. He released his second album Apricot Princess in 2017. That year he also released one of his most popular songs to date “Loving Is Easy” in collaboration with Benny Sings. His most recent album Pony was just released in October and Rex Orange County is currently touring in support of the album.

Rex Orange County’s music comprises a lot of different genres, combining hip-hop, R&B, pop, and indie music. His tracks range from feeling very vibey and Cali-influenced to hip-hop tracks and soulful R&B sounding vocals. He definitely defines post-genre indie music.

This year will be Rex Orange County’s first Coachella. He plays Friday. He’s high on the bill of artists and very well known amongst youth so I’d expect to see him on the Main or Outdoor Stages. Expect a huge draw for this young Brit’s first Coachella. Also expect some pure Coachella vibes from some of his songs. Here are a few you should know:

  1. Loving Is Easy
  2. Best Friend
  3. Sunflower
  4. UNO
  5. 10/10
  6. Corduroy Dreams
  7. Television/So Far So Good
  8. Pluto Projector
  9. Happiness
  10. Untitled

Coachella Band Preview: Rage Against the Machine

Week 2 in Mexico and I’m back with another Coachella Band Preview. It’s kind of funny actually. This is my 6th year of doing band previews for Coachella. When I first started, most acts I previewed were bands. Now it feels like this week’s preview is one of the only bands I’m previewing this year. A lot of the other acts I’m interested in are DJs and singers. It makes me sad, yet hopeful there will be a Coachella when I’m back to previewing bands. For now let’s take a look at legendary political rock band and inaugural Coachella performers, Rage Against the Machine.

Rage Against the Machine formed in 1991 in Los Angeles, California. The band is comprised of lead vocalist Zack de la Rocha, guitarist Tom Morello, bassist and backing vocalist Tim Commerford, and drummer Brad Wilk. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1992. The album went on to critical and commercial success. It includes their most well-known song to date “Killing in the Name” and earned them a spot at Lollapalooza in 1993. They released two more albums Evil Empire (1996) and The Battle of Los Angeles (1999). After the release of their cover album Renegades in 2000, the band broke-up over creative difference with de la Rocha.

In the years following their break-up, the remaining members united with Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell to form the band Audioslave. Audioslave released several albums in the 00’s before breaking up in 2007. That year brought back Rage Against the Machine though. The band reunited to play Coachella. They stayed together for a few years after playing shows and festivals worldwide. Now 20 years after their last album, they’re reuniting at Coachella again. There’s also a rumor that they’re planning a tour in 2020, so maybe Coachella won’t be the only place where you can see RATM this year.

Their music is well-known for it’s unique hip-hop style of rock/metal music. Like their name describes, it’s also very well-known for being politically progressive. De la Rocha’s vocals are where the hip-hop influence comes in to their music as well as in Morello’s guitar technique. However the sound itself is very rock and metal heavy.

Rage Against the Machine headlines the main stage on Friday night. You can expect moshing. You can expect a wild time. You can also expect Coachella at its roots. Rage Against the Machine is one of the only legacy/rock acts to play the festival this year, which makes it a special set for old school Coachella fans. I’m pretty stoked myself. One of my high school friends introduced me to Rage Against the Machine shortly after I graduated. Although I’m not familiar with all of their songs, I know the big ones and I’m excited to see Rage Against the Machine play. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to the festival to see it. With the political climate in America these days, Rage Against the Machine is just what we all need to take out any frustrations we have. Before you head to the pit Friday night, here’s a few songs you might want to check out first:

  1. Killing in the Name
  2. Bulls on Parade
  3. Guerrilla Radio
  4. Testify
  5. Wake Up
  6. Know Your Enemy
  7. Sleep Now in the Fire
  8. Take the Power Back
  9. Bullet in the Head
  10. How I Could Just Kill a Man (Cypress Hill cover)

Coachella 2020 Lineup Review

The countdown to Coachella 2020 is officially here! After spending yesterday feeling like the lineup wasn’t going to come, the Coachella twitter came alive around 8:30 p.m. EST. Then, I knew it was coming. They started tweeting out artists playing the festival by retweeting tweets from years ago from the artists playing the festival or from casual twitter followers mentioning artists playing the festival and adding their own comments. Then around 10:05 p.m. EST, the lineup dropped.

After 2014, I used to hope mercilessly for a similar great lineup every year. When finally after 2018’s lineup disappointment, I stopped expecting great indie rock lineups. I feel like this year’s mix of music has hardly any indie rock/indie pop. It’s really disheartening. I looked at the 2011-2014 lineups last night in reverse order. It was incredible. When I looked at 2011 I was incredibly shocked at how much these festival lineups have changed over the last 10 years. 2011 was the year I was introduced to Coachella because Foster the People (who I was introduced to around the same time) was on the bill. I feel less disappointed than I did in 2018 because I know I’ll still have a great time at the festival and there are a few artists who I’m very excited to see play Coachella.

First and foremost though, the Coachella 2020 lineup as follows:

The Headliners: Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott, Frank Ocean

As typical, over the past few weeks these were the three names rumored to be headlining the festival. I knew about Travis Scott for almost a year due to some inside industry sources. I was hoping there might be another Tame Impala-esque headliner but not the case this year. Out of these three, I’m most excited for 90’s rock band, Rage Against the Machine. They played the first ever Coachella in 1999! I know a few of their songs, as most people do. Plus, I’m not sure if there’s any other way I’d ever see them. I’ll definitely be re-listening to their stuff in preparation for their Friday night set. Travis Scott has been headlining festivals over the past few years so Coachella was one of the next steps. It’s not his first time in Indio either after he played the festival in 2017. He’s even hosted his own ASTROWORLD festival the past 2 years in Houston, Texas. Frank Ocean hasn’t played Coachella in 8 years. This time he makes his return as a headliner. He doesn’t tour either, which makes his festival appearances all the more special. He headlined Panorama back in 2017 when I worked it. I never got into him but I heard him play there, which is apparently more rare than I realized. Frank Ocean’s R&B/hip-hop style isn’t my cup of tea, but he’s got a large following of fans that are stoked to see him headline Coachella.

The Other Highly Billed Performers: Calvin Harris, Run the Jewels, Rex Orange County, Megan Thee Stallion, BIGBANG, Flume, Thom Yorke (Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes), Disclosure, 21 Savage, Danny Elfman, DaBaby, Summer Walker, Lana Del Rey, Lil Uzi Vert, Daniel Caesar, FKA Twigs, Marina, Louis the Child, Ari Lennox, BROCKHAMPTON, Big Sean, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizards, City Girls, Lewis Capaldi, Madeon, Charli XCX, Lane 8, GRiZ, Anitta, Caribou, Joji, Testpilot, Swae Lee, Black Coffee, Cuco, Jai Wolf, Roddy Ricch, Yaeji, Koffee, Tchami, Dixon, Fatboy Slim, Banda MS, Lil Nas X, Mura Masa, Duck Sauce, Jessie Reyez, SLANDER, Denzel Curry, J.I.D.

The two artists I’m most excited for this year are in this mix. Both could have easily headlined this festival and both were the first name under the headliner on their respective days.

Lana Del Rey, one of my favorite artists, will be back this year for the first time since 2014. After dropping one of her best albums this past year (Norman Fucking Rockwell!) thanks to the help of famed songwriter/producer Jack Antonoff, Lana deserves to be back at Coachella. Hopefully my dream of hearing Lana play “Coachella – Woodstock On My Mind” at Coachella will come true!

Flume, the first electronic artist I could ever say I liked, is also playing. Flume has really exploded over the last 5 years. He’s played Coachella before but this year he’s back in his biggest spot yet and with new music. Last year he dropped his mixtape Hi I’m Flume and the hit electronic single “Rushing Back” with Vera Blue. Who knows if he’ll release any more new music in the lead up to Coachella, but it’s safe to say Flume is back this year after a few shows and festival stints in 2019.

I’m also pretty excited for electronic DJ Jai Wolf. I was able to watch some of his Made in America set in 2018, but I’ve never seen him other than that. I’ve been into his music for the past few years as well. His cred has really gone up in the last few years too earning him a second line spot on the Coachella lineup.

Three years ago, composer Hans Zimmer played Coachella with a full orchestra coming in to support his set of movie magic. I’m expecting a similar performance from composer Danny Elfman. I’m also expecting to hear the entirety of A Nightmare Before Christmas. I feel like sets like this are so unique that you should try to catch them because it’s doubtful you may ever get another chance to witness something like it.

90’s EDM artist Fatboy Slim is also a part of this year’s lineup. It’s not his first time soaking up the Coachella vibes either. His set should be filled with classic dance jams and should also be a ton of fun. I’m definitely gonna try to catch it if I can.

Former Coachella headliner Calvin Harris is also included in this mix. He last played the year I attended in 2015. I remember hearing a lot about Calvin Harris in the early 2010’s but I feel like his hype has since dropped. His biggest hit since he last performed has to be 2018’s “One Kiss” with Dua Lipa and 2016’s “This Is What You Came For” with Rihanna. A lot of people are already hoping he brings out Rihanna as a guest.

Some other big names from this list are hip hop duo Run the Jewels, rising rap star Megan Thee Stallion, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, electronic duo Disclosure, rising pop star Lewis Capaldi, rapper Denzel Curry, and one of 2019’s most famed newcomers Lil Nas X. The biggest shocker of this year’s lineup was the exclusion of My Chemical Romance who was rumored to be playing the festival for weeks especially after their reunion show at Goldenvoice venue the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles. Many people, myself included, anticipated Coachella as being the second return of the band. Maybe MCR will be a part of the festival though? They could always come on as a guest of an artist.

The Rest: Chicano Batman, Omar Apollo, Kim Petras, IDLES, Daphni, The Martinez Brothers, Pink Sweat$, Peggy Gou, Hatsune Miku, TNGHT, Rich Brian, Damian Lazarus, Princess Nokia, slowthai, YBN Cordae, TOKiMONSTA, The Chats, NIKI, Malaa, PUP, The HU, The Regrettes, Friendly Fires, Sleaford Mods, Erick Morillo, Cashmere Cat, Beach Bunny, Tiga, Amyl & The Sniffers, Amber Mark, Code Orange, L’Impératrice, Kyle Watson, VNSSA, Lost Kings, Jayda G, Giselle Woo & the Night Owls, Melé, ela minus, Kynda Black, Hot Chip, Carly Rae Jepson, DJ Koze, Floating Points, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, BADBADNOTGOOD, Pabllo Vittar, MIKA, ANNA, Snail Mail, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Steve Lacy, Weyes Blood, Masego, Orville Peck, Chelsea Cutler, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, Matoma, 100 gecs, black midi, Nilüfer Yanya, Chris Liebing, Raveena, Sasha Sloan, beabadoobee, Ezra Collective, Inner Wave, Emo Nite, girl in red, Aya Nakamura, Sama’, Beach Goons, Fontaines D.C., The Murder Capital, Paco Osuna, Mannequin Pussy, The Comet is Coming, Whipped Cream, Anna Calvi, GG Magree, Ellen Allien, ONYVAA, DJ Lord, Sara Landry, Ленинград, Epik High, Duke Dumont, Lauren Daigle, Conan Gray, Bedouin, Bishop Briggs, (Sandy) Alex G, Big Wild, Alec Benjamin, Noname, YUNGBLUD, Dave, SebastiAn, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Emotional Oranges, Channel Tres, Crumb, Doja Cat, Ed Maverick, Ali Gatie, Hayden James, Skegss, Monolink, Dom Dolla, Satori, Black Pumas, Sampa the Great, Altın Gün, Luttrell, Nathy Peluso, Olivia O’Brien, Mariah the Scientist, Viagra Boys, Cariño, Adam Port, Guy Laliberté, Detlef, Sahar Z, also featuring 88rising’s Double Happiness

As per the usual, there’s several great artists in this mix of the names in tiny font on the lineup. The one that stands out the most for me is Bishop Briggs. I fell in love with Bishop Briggs music in late 2017. I felt like I missed out on her all summer as she played the festival circuit. Since then I’ve been able to catch her performances the last two summers, at Electric Forest in 2018 and at Bonnaroo last summer. I’m extremely excited to see her perform at Coachella though. She’s fantastic and always brings so much energy to her sets.

Hayden James is another artist I’m super stoked for. His song “Numb” was my most listened to song in 2018 and I saw his Electric Forest sets that summer as well. He released his debut album over the past year and his only Coachella performance happened at the Do Lab so this is definitely progress for him.

A few other great ones from this list are Lost Kings, Matoma, and Hot Chip. I’ve wanted to get into Hot Chip for years since their style is a lot like LCD Soundsystem. I just always forget about them because they’re not really on the scene much anymore. Them being on the Coachella lineup is going to push me to listen to them a lot in the next few months so I can be ready for their Coachella set. Matoma’s “Old Thing Back” remix was one of the first electronic songs I liked. I actually listened to it on my drive to Indio on the way to my first Coachella in 2015. I’ve never seen him perform either so I’ll really be looking forward to hearing Matoma’s Saturday set. One of Lost Kings first songs, “You”, was one of my favorite songs in 2016. I’ve listen to a few of their songs here and there since then too so I’m super stoked they’ll be a part of Coachella this year. Depending on their set time, I may not be able to see any of their set, but it’s still pretty cool that they’ll be performing.

Some other artists I’m hoping to get into in preparation for this year are electronic/pop singer Chelsea Cutler, punk band Mannequin Pussy, and alternative/pop-punk/scene artist YUNGBLUD. Also Carley Rae Jepson of “Call Me Maybe” fame will be playing this year so that might be a fun set to see. I’ve also heard great things about Emotional Oranges  and Sasha Sloan who has sang on Odesza and Kygo tracks that I’ve liked.

One of the most unusual/wonderful names on this part of the lineup is Emo Nite. Emo Nite LA is playing Coachella. How is that even a thing?! Emo Nite isn’t a band, artist, or DJ. It’s just an emo music party. I’m probably wrong about this but I feel like when the My Chemical Romance rumors started, Paul booked Emo Nite to try to make up for it! HA! It seems like great reasoning but I’m sure they were booked for a while. Maybe Emo Nite is just code for My Chemical Romance and the band will suddenly appear. I’m still pretty stoked about it and am definitely gonna try to go to Emo Nite.

So that’s it. Coachella 2020 is finally on the horizon and we have 3 months of prep to do. I feel like I have a ton to do and plenty of bands and artists to learn more about. As the years progress, I feel like Coachella is getting further and further away from the music I love and what the festival used to be. The atmosphere is still the best there is though. I also still have hope that one of these years the lineup is going to shock me. It might not be this year, but that just means I’m probably going to find a love in a lot of these acts just as I did last year with Maggie Rogers, Lizzo, and Dermot Kennedy.

You can look forward to band previews each week. I’m going to be working in Mexico again this year over the next two months but Coachella previews will be coming regardless. It’s always been my favorite thing to blog about from January to April and I won’t let anything stop it. So now it’s time to start listening. I already have. It’s Coachella SZN Baby! Let’s get this desert party started!

 

Coachella Band Preview: Janelle Monáe

Another week in Mexico and another week wishing I was in Southern California instead. Don’t get me wrong I love being in a warm climate in the winter, I just wish there was less humidity here. California has that kind of weather and they have it year round. We’re a little under 2 months away from Coachella now. The clock keeps ticking. The weeks become less. The planning intensifies and the time to listen to this year’s performers decreases. This week I’m previewing a female powerhouse who will be playing her second Coachella.

Janelle Monáe Robinson better known to the world as just Janelle Monáe hails from Atlanta, Georgia. She was discovered in Atlanta when she was 18 by rapper, songwriter, and producer Big Boi of Outkast fame. Monáe was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas though. Upon connecting with Big Boi, she was signed to Bad Boy records in 2006 after Big Boi’s friend and fellow artist and producer Sean Combs (Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, Diddy) decided to take a chance on her. She initially released her first EP prior to her signing with Bad Boy, but her debut was then re-released with a slightly different title Metropolis: The Chase Suite (Special Edition). The record included two bonus tracks as well. It was received so well that Monáe earned a Grammy nomination for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for her single “Many Moons”.

Janelle Monáe’s debut album The ArchAndroid was released on May 18, 2010. Since her initial idea with Metropolis was to create a concept album that was to be released in 4 parts, The ArchAndroid contains parts 2 and 3 from the concept. The album debuted at number 17 on the Billboard 200 and earned Monáe another Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary R&B Album.

She released her sophomore album The Electric Lady in September 2013. The album continued with the same sci-fi theme as its predecessors. The album debuted at number 5 on the Billboard Top 200. It was just prior to her album released that Monáe played at her first Coachella in 2013.

In 2015, Janelle Monáe created her own independent label Wondaland Arts Society (now known as Wondaland Records) in conjunction with Epic Records. Along with 4 other artists signed to her new label, the EP The Eephus was created. Monáe contributed to the EP with the song “Yoga”. She also collaborated with Nile Rodgers & Chic that year on the song “Pressure Off”. 2016 brought Monáe a new type of entertainment exposure when she appeared in Academy Award nominated films Moonlight and Hidden Figures. Prior to her film debuts, she voiced the character Dr. Monae in Rio 2.

Janelle Monáe released her third studio album Dirty Computer on April 27, 2018. It included the release of what was referred to as an “emotion picture”, which was a visual representation of the songs and story of the album. It debuted at number 6 on the Billboard Top 200 and has since received 2 Grammy nominations for Album of the Year and for Best Music Video for the song “Pynk”. Over the last year Janelle Monáe has toured and played the festival circuit in promotion of her latest release, which makes sense of her slated Coachella 2019 performance.

I would define her music as experimental. It’s experimental in the sense that it combines a variety of genres. It obviously infuses R&B, hip-hop, and pop, but also incorporates elements of soul, funk, and new wave. It’s musically advanced and brilliant, especially the concepts behind her music.

Honestly, I knew about Janelle Monáe as an actress before I knew about her as a music artist. Once I started seeing her name on festival lineups in 2018, I realized her talents went beyond film. I was introduced to her music this past fall, when a friend of mine told me to watch the Dirty Computer video. I did. I was impressed and I enjoyed several of the songs. There was also a lot of hype surrounding her from several of my co-worker friends who caught her performing at festivals or in concert last summer. Despite my exposure to her music, I can’t even say I’m a huge fan yet. I like her music, but I haven’t been listening to her constantly. I’ve just heard great things about her live performances, which is why I think her performance at Coachella this year is one that can’t be missed.

Janelle Monáe plays Friday. She’s billed as a top performer. To me, there’s no reason why she wouldn’t be playing the Main Stage right before Childish Gambino or overlapping his set and headlining the Outdoor Stage. Even though this will be her second Coachella performance as a solo artist, it’s not her second appearance. She joined Outkast on stage during their headlining set in 2014 and Grimes in 2016. I think she’s grown in popularity over the last year as well, which means her set will most likely be crowded. I’ll say it again…you don’t want to miss this set. Here’s a few songs you’ll probably hear during it:

  1. Make Me Feel
  2. Pynk
  3. Tightrope
  4. I Like That
  5. Django Jane
  6. Q.U.E.E.N.
  7. Yoga
  8. I Got the Juice
  9. Electric Lady
  10. Dirty Computer

Coachella 2018 Lineup Release

Not 48 hours into the new year and the Coachella 2018 lineup drops. Last night at 4:15 PT Coachella released their lineup on social media and as always people have opinions, me included. Since last year I expected the 2018 lineup to be the best since 2014. If you know me, you know that I believe 2014 had the best lineup to date and every year after has  been incomparable. 2018 had so much potential. There were so many bands who released new music in 2017 that did not play the festival plus a handful of other greats expected to release new music this year. But when rumors spread just before Christmas about the headliners, I knew this year wasn’t going to meet my expectations.

Going into 2018 everyone knew Beyoncé was supposed to headline. She was supposed to headline last year but dropped out shortly after the announcement of her twin pregnancy paving the way for Lady Gaga to take her spot. The biggest question was who would accompany her on top of the poster. On December 20th, Consequence of Sound reported that Eminem and The Weeknd were slated to join Beyoncé as the 2018 headliners, much to my dismay. Here’s why. The Weeknd headlined Coachella in 2015. Was he supposed to be a headliner? No. However he played in the headliner spot. Jack White, the headliner for that night, took an early spot for whatever the case may be leaving The Weeknd to close out the night.

In my opinion Eminem is a pretty cool choice for a headliner. He fits that formerly popular/still popular angle. He’s a rapper and for the past few years Coachella has plugged that genre (or R&B) into one of their headlining spots. Plus he just released a new album. Here’s the issue: Beyoncé already filled that genre spot this year. I mean come on! The entire headlining lineup is rap/R&B. This is the first time in the history of the festival that a rock band isn’t headlining. Disappointing.

In fact, looking at the lineup, rap/hip-hop/R&B has taken over the festival this year. I think Louis Tomlinson’s (of One Direction fame) reaction on Twitter summarizes my feelings exactly. He stated, “Just seen the Coachella lineup …. Where the fuck are all the bands!? It’s a festival!?” Yes Louis, you’re right. Where are all the bands?! All I see are rappers, R&B singers, or electronic DJ’s. As I went through the lineup last night making a list of who I would see for my annual Coachella preview, there were names lacking for each day and more “possible” acts to see than definites. For Friday, I only listed 4 acts. Four. It’s a headshaker, for sure, given that this year had some high expectations. Anyway, let’s get down to this lineup analysis.

The Headliners: The Weeknd, Beyoncé, Eminem

I already summarized my thoughts on all these acts above. So re-read that.

The Other Highly Billed Performers: SZA, Kygo, Jamiroquai, St. Vincent, the War on Drugs, Vince Staples, Haim, Tyler the Creator, David Byrne, alt-J, Post Malone, Fleet Foxes, Odesza, Portugal. The Man, Migos, A Perfect Circle, Cardi B, Miguel, Soulwax, Jean-Michel Jarre, Daniel Caesar, Kali Uchis, Los Ángeles Azueles, Deorro, Chromeo, Chic feat. Nile Rodgers, BØRNS, Louis the Child, Angel Olsen, Jungle, blackbear, MØ, King Krule, Illenium, Kamasi Washington, French Montana, 6lack, Vance Joy, Russ, LANY

As always, there’s a few names in this group that I’m pretty excited about. If I were attending this year, I’d definitely be hitting up Kygo, St. Vincent, Haim, alt-J, Fleet Foxes, Odesza, Portugal. The Man, BØRNS, Illenium, and LANY. There’s a few that I’d definitely check out here too if there were no overlaps like David Byrne, Post Malone, Chromeo, Jungle, MØ, and Vance Joy. I’m mostly excited about Haim and alt-J. Even though I’ve seen both live before, they’re fantastic and two of my favorite bands. Odesza is an incredible electronic act and I can attest from seeing them live last month. I’ve seen BØRNS live before as well and it was so enjoyable. After working St. Vincent in November and listening to her VIP Q&A, I’ve gained a new respect for Annie Clark and her music. I was able to stay for half of her show but would love to see her again. The others I’ve never seen live.

As I said in my 2017 music recap blog post, I would be reviewing Portugal. The Man soon. It might now be even sooner than I thought. I’ve been stoked on their latest album since buying it on vinyl in NYC and I’d love to see them live especially since knowing about them since college. Since getting into electronic music, I’ve always been partial to tropical house, making Kygo an artist I would love to check out. I also got into Illenium’s latest album for a short time two months ago making him another electronic act I’d want to see. I’ve listened to LANY a few times over the past few years so they’re a group I’d love to see too. If you’re looking for the most indie band at Coachella this year, I’d have to say that would be Fleet Foxes. I’ve liked them for a while now and would definitely want to see them live.

As for the others that I’d like to check out, I’ve seen Jungle and Vance Joy before. Both played in 2015 when I attended and I made it to both sets. I even saw Vance Joy at Panorama last summer. They’re always a solid set. I was super hyped about Jungle in 2015, but this time around they’re not a definite for me. They’ve got new music out, which I plan on checking out soon They just didn’t make a huge impact on me last time. I’ve casually listened to Chromeo and MØ so I would casually see them. Post Malone is burning up right now. I’m not into rap, but Post Malone has a song that is more indie than rap that I enjoy. I think I’m solely interested in seeing this dude play live because of the hype surrounding him right now. David Byrne is the most intriguing to me. Honestly I had no idea who he was until I did a little research. After I found out, it felt like I failed at music so excuse me for that one. As the lead singer and guitarist of the Talking Heads, I would love to hear his set. He’s got a solo career going, but you know he’ll be playing some Talking Heads covers. Who knows maybe there’s a reunion in store?! I mean who doesn’t like the Talking Heads?!

The Rest: Maceo Plex, Alan Walker, the Neighbourhood, Alison Wonderland, Kelela, REZZ, Bleachers, Black Coffee, SuperDuperKyle, Justin Martin, Belly, TroyBoi, Dreams, Perfume Genius, PVRIS, Moses Sumney, LÉON, Greta Van Fleet, Tank and the Bangas, Cash Cash, Whethan, Skip Marley, Elohim, Detroit Love (Carl Craig, Kyle Hall, Moodymann), Benjamin Clementine, Carpenter Brat, the Blaze, Knox Fortune, MHD, Slow Magic, Avalon Emerson, Fazerdaze, Moon Boots, HITO, Helado Negro, the Buttertones, the Regrettes, Boogarins, the Marias, Señor Kino, Tash Sultana, BROCKHAMPTON, Marian Hill, Alina Baraz, First Aid Kit, Snakehips, Highly Suspect, Wizkid, Jorja Smith, Alvvays, the Black Madonna, Tom Misch, Django Django, X Japan, Benjamin Booker, Flatbush Zombies, Ekali, Yaeji, Party Favor, Big Thief, Jason Bentley, Oh Sees, Sigrid, Busy P, the Bronx, AC Slater, Sudan Archives, Jackmaster, Otoboke Beaver, Chloe x Halle, Sir Sly, Hundred Waters, Pachanga Boys, Bedouin, Cherry Glazerr, Mild High Club, Priests, Ron Gallo, Declan McKenna, Bane’s World, KITTENS, the Drums, Aminé, Jessie Ware, Jamie Jones, Kamaiyah, San Holo, FIDLAR, DeJ Loaf, Petit Biscuit, Ibeyi, LP, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Princess Nokia, AURORA, Noname, Jacob Banks, Chris Liebing, Jidenna Hayley Kiyoko, Barclay Crenshaw, LION BABE, Giraffage, Talaboman, THEY., Cuco, Joseph Capriati, Hannah Wants, Nothing But Thieves, John Maus, Kölsch, Japanese Breakfast, MAGIC GIANT, Omar-S, Michael Mayer, Westside Gunn + Conway, Buscabulla, Peggy Gou, Snail Mail, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, B Boys, the Delirians

My favorite name that showed up on the Coachella lineup this year is in this group, Hayley Kiyoko. As you know, I saw her last year in what I consider to be one of the most epic nights in music for me, seeing 2 shows in one night. One of those was Hayley Kiyoko and she played in a small venue in Philadelphia. I was beyond excited to see her name on the poster and so stoked that she’s playing Coachella this year in time with releasing her debut album. Another band that’s on my must see list is in this group too, The Neighbourhood. I’ve been digging The Neighbourhood since 2013 and I’ve never seen them live. They’re a must-see for sure. There’s a few on this list that I’d want to catch if I had time too. Bleachers, Tash Sultana, Sir Sly, Declan McKenna, and Marian Hill are the big ones among that bunch.

As a whole I feel like this is the smallest group of bands I’ve been interested in since starting my Coachella previews in 2015. I had such high hopes for this year’s festival and it all came crashing down last night. Some names I would have liked to see on this year’s lineup include Arctic Monkeys (as a headliner or part of that second line of acts), Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Foster the People, Lana Del Rey, Cold War Kids, Halsey, Phoenix, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, ARIZONA, the 1975, Sigala, Cigarettes After Sex, Passion Pit, The Kooks, AWOLNATION, and either The Killers, Arcade Fire, or Kings of Leon as a headliner (most likely The Killers though). There’s probably more bands as well, but those are a few off the top of my head.

I started doing a bit of research on this year’s lineup compared to my favored 2014 lineup. I plan on editing this post later today or tomorrow with my findings. Until then, you should start listening to some bands on this lineup. There’s plenty I know nothing about and a few that I do. Maybe you’re stoked on this lineup. Maybe you’re not. The fact is that Coachella is in 3 months and the prep officially began yesterday. One thing is certain though, regardless of who is on the lineup and the amount of complaining done, people are still gonna go to Coachella. It’s the festival to be at. It’s Coachella. You’re bound to have a great time because although I strongly believe music festivals should be about the music, Coachella is more than music. It’s art. It’s atmosphere. It’s good food. It’s being with people you care about and have a good time with. It’s hot days and cool nights. It’s palm trees, and mountains, and desert. It’s fashion. It’s celebrities. It’s social media. It’s sponsors. It’s ferris wheels and hip merch. Mostly it’s the best kind of positivity and vibes you’ll ever experience. So Coachella 2018, I’m ready for you! Here’s to hoping I can be part of the magic again.

(EDIT: I spent the last hour or more doing some research and the numbers I came up with are unreal. I analyzed the 2014 Coachella lineup vs. the 2018 Coachella lineup. I looked at the first 3 lines of each poster plus the headliners and I grouped performers in 4 categories, Rap/R&B, Electronic, Pop, Rock/Indie. In 2014, out of the 165 acts, there were 71 featured on the first 3 lines of the poster including the headliners. Out of those 71, 14% were Rap/R&B, 28% were Electronic, 6% were Pop, and 37% were Rock/Indie. In 2018, out of 165 acts, there are 69 featured on the first 3 lines of the poster including the headliners. Out of those 69, 33% are Rap/R&B, 25% are Electronic, 9% are Pop, and 33% are Rock/Indie. Compared to 2014, the number of Rap/R&B acts have more than doubled. Is Rap/R&B back on the rise and I didn’t know about it? If you asked me, I would tell you no. So what’s the deal this year? What’s even more shocking is that I also compared the number of Bands to Artists for each year. I defined “Band” as a group or single performer with a backing band that plays classic instruments (guitar, drums, bass, keyboards, etc. as opposed to electronic equipment). Artists included rappers, R&B singers, electronic DJ’s, and pop singers. In 2014, out of 71 acts, 55% were Bands and 45% were Artists. In 2018, out of 69 acts, 30% are Bands and 68% are artists. To me those numbers, are staggering. Louis Tomlinson noticed it and he’s right. The bands have decreased this year in favor of the artists. So seriously Coachella, WHERE ARE THE BANDS?! And why are you straying from what made you amazing in the first place? #Coachella2018thefestivalthatcouldhavebeen)

Lust For Life: Album Review

It’s been a busy two weeks. I worked two festivals and I have another one coming up this weekend. As a result the blog has taken a back seat. Luckily I have a little time to review the second album that came out July 21st from one of my two favorite artists. I haven’t had much time to listen to it because I decided to listen to Foster the People’s (the other July 21st release) latest first. I saw them at Lollapalooza last weekend and I needed some prep time with their new material. Yesterday though, I began listening to Lust For Life, Lana Del Rey’s fourth full length album.

In late February, Lana released the first single from the album, “Love”, claiming that this album was for her fans and those who have supported her throughout the years. In the months following, Lana released two other singles from the album “Lust for Life” ft. The Weeknd and “Coachella – Woodstock on my Mind”. She also announced that the album would feature collaborations with A$AP Rocky, Stevie Nicks, Sean Lennon, and Playboy Carti.

Lana’s newest album offers music with a brighter feel than her sensual darkness heard in previous works. Her hypnotizing vocals are still a staple in Lust For Life though. The lyrics are what gives each song on the new record a more positive vibe. The music also gives a bit of a hip-hop/electronic feel.

As a fan of almost all of Lana Del Rey’s work, I think this album is a great comeback for the pop starlet. I fell in love with her because of Born to Die. I loved her even more after the Paradise EP. Ultraviolence was my go-to album for weeks after its debut, but then Honeymoon happened. I felt like I wasn’t into as many songs and I thought Lana was letting her music go downhill. So for me, Lust For Life is definitely a comeback with a sound that gives a nod to Born to Die as far as the hip-hop beats go.

Even though I’ve just started getting into this album because my listening binge began yesterday, I’m telling you it’s a good one. Is it at the level of Born to Die? I don’t think so, but it’s a damn good album. The amount of collaborations alone is a selling point. There are songs for everyone on it. My personal favorites are “In My Feelings”, “Coachella – Woodstock on my Mind”, and “Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems” ft. Stevie Nicks. It’s worth listening to. Even if you’re hesitant on buying it based on what I just said, listen to it on Spotify first. I’m sure it’ll convince you. Lana has come back with a vengeance and you don’t want to miss out!

Sacred Hearts Club: Album Review

July 21st was a big day. I worked Check-In for travel packages for a Phish show and two of my favorite music artists released their new albums. I didn’t have much of a chance to listen to both because of work, but I got on it this morning. I figured I’d start with a review of Foster the People’s latest work Sacred Hearts Club because I’ll be seeing them in two weeks when I head to Chicago for my second Lollapalooza. At this point, binging on their new album is necessary.

Stylistically, their new album has a much different feel than their last two. There are songs that have the classic Foster the People sound like “Doing It For the Money” and “SHC”, which were both released in April as part of their 3 song EP entitled III and others that add elements from other styles of music. “III” sounds like a deep house track. If it wasn’t for Mark Foster’s signature vocals, I’d think I was listening to a Flume song. There’s more electronic influence in songs like “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy” and “Harden” too. Foster the People has always used synth in their music but these songs just sound more electronic. Maybe it’s me and how my listening style has developed, but I’d argue regardless. I even feel like there’s a jazz influence in some of their songs, particularly in “Static Space Lover”.

As I said before, I believe this album sounds different to me, but Foster the People has been blending genres since their first record. There’s dance, punk, and hip-hop blended into their previous albums. There’s just something about this one that stands out though. The band wanted this record to be a uniting voice amongst a world filled with negativity too. I think it has the potential to be just that as many songs express camaraderie lyrically. I believe listeners will be able to relate and use this music to rise above the hate in the world.

If you asked me who my top 5 favorite bands are at this point in my life, the first band I’d name would be Foster the People. Torches is still one of my favorite albums of all time. So for me, buying this album was a no-brainer. I would have even bought it blindly. Therefore, it might be hard to believe my opinion is unbiased when I say that I think this album would appeal to more than just Foster the People fans because of the development of their music style. I promise it’s worth checking out though so do yourself a favor and pick-up a copy.

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