indie band

Coachella Band Preview: Years & Years, Halsey, Cold War Kids, & The 1975

Coachella Weekend 1 is 23 days away, which means 3 more weeks! I only have 3 weeks left and so many more bands to preview. That’s why this week I’m combining 4 bands into one preview since I covered them each in depth on the blog before. They are Years & Years, Halsey, Cold War Kids, & The 1975. You’ll notice links on the names of each band to their respective blog posts for a little more background information, but for now I’m just going to give a simple breakdown/recap on each.

Years & Years is a band I started listening to near the end of summer. They’re kind of on that EDM spectrum, but can also be considered pop, indie pop, or synth pop. Since I wrote about them in the summer, the group has toured the U.S. and booked several music festivals along with Coachella this summer. They’ll also be supporting fellow Coachella act Ellie Goulding on tour this spring. As a somewhat newer band (their first full length album was just released last year), it’ll be their first time playing the Coachella festival. They play Friday.

I also started listening to Halsey around the same time I started listening to Years & Years. Halsey is a pop/electropop/indie pop singer. As I mentioned in my prior blog post on the artist, she has a comparable sound to Lorde but lyrically is comparable to Lana Del Rey. Since writing about Halsey, she released her debut album, Badlands, and like Years & Years also toured performing in venues throughout the U.S. She will perform for her first time in the Indio desert this year as well. Her set is on Saturday.

Both Cold War Kids and The 1975 are no strangers to Coachella. The 1975 played Coachella for the first time in 2014 and are making their big return this year following the release of their sophomore album, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It. Since writing about the indie pop/indie rock band from the UK in early December 2015, they released their new album at the end of February. It debuted at the number one spot on both the UK Albums Chart and the Billboard 200 in the U.S. They play Sunday and I anticipate them drawing a decent sized crowd, especially now that they’re playing more of a headlining role compared to their last Coachella appearance. Cold War Kids on the other hand will be playing Coachella for the third time. They first played the festival in 2008, but haven’t performed there since 2011. There was actually some speculation that they might have been on last year’s lineup, but as you know that didn’t happen. Since I wrote about these alternative rock/indie rock music vets in the fall, they haven’t been up to much besides touring. However the band announced last week via instagram that lead guitarist Dann Gallucci was parting ways with the group and will be replaced by David Quon. I’m sure he’ll be in the mix when the group takes the stage on Sunday.

As you already know, I like all these acts and I recommend seeing each one’s performance at Coachella. With Sunday’s strong lineup of acts, it might be tougher to make the Cold War Kids set or The 1975 set due to conflicts, but there’s less likely to be conflicting issues with seeing Halsey and Years & Years. To make sure you’re ready to see each band/artist’s performance though, here are my top three favorite songs by each (you can check my original blog posts on these 4 for more recommendations):

Years & Years

  1. Border
  2. King
  3. Shine

Halsey

  1. New Americana
  2. Drive
  3. Hold Me Down

Cold War Kids

  1. Miracle Mile
  2. First
  3. Hang Me Up To Dry

The 1975 (** but really check out their whole second album too!**)

  1. The Sound
  2. Girls
  3. Chocolate
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Coachella Band Preview: Of Monsters and Men

In exactly one month, it will be the final day of the first weekend of Coachella 2016. That means less than a month until the festival begins! There’s only a few more weeks and band previews left. I hope you’ve been prepping by listening to the incredible acts performing this year or by shopping for the perfect festival attire. If you’ve been doing just that or even if you haven’t, this week’s preview band is one I would definitely be seeing if I was attending this year. I’ve liked this band for a little over 4 years, but have yet to see them live. I know if I was going to be at Coachella they’d be in my top 5 bands to see solely for that reason.

Formed in 2010, Of Monsters and Men hails from Iceland. The indie group is composed of members Nanna Byrndis-Hilmarsdóttir (vocals, gutiar), Ragnar “Raggi”Pórhallsson (guitar, vocals), Brynjar Leifsson (guitar), Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson (drums), and Kristján Páll Kristjánsson (bass). After competing in a battle of the bands competition in Iceland, Of Monsters and Men started touring across their home country. Before the release of their debut album My Head Is an Animal in September 2011, Philadelphia’s alternative/indie radio station 104.5 started playing their single “Little Talks” which grew the band’s popularity in the U.S. Due to the nationwide success and the debut album only being released in Iceland, the band signed with Universal so they could release their album in America. Before that though, Of Monsters and Men dropped an EP, Into the Woods, in December of 2011 which contained 4 songs from their debut. The band released their debut in the States the following April.

In 2012 and 2013 the band toured worldwide playing countless shows and music festivals including Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, and Coachella (yep 2016 will be their second appearance). They also contributed songs to a few movies and TV series. In 2014 they began recording their sophomore album, Beneath the Skin, which was released in June of 2015. The band toured through the rest of 2015 promoting the new album.

Their music style is strictly indie. I guess you could say indie pop or indie rock. The songs have a great balance of male and female vocals because of Nanna and Raggi. They harmonize well together. It creates a uniqueness only heard in a handful of other indie groups with a male and female vocalist.

I first heard Of Monsters and Men around the time of their EP release in 2011 and the first song I heard actually wasn’t “Little Talks”. It was the song “Lakehouse”. Unlike many bands and songs, I don’t think the song was a recommendation either. I most likely found it while searching for new music. I had it on my iTunes by the end of November 2011. The next Of Monsters and Men song I heard wasn’t “Little Talks” either. It was the song “King and Lionheart” in April 2012, the same month their debut album came out in the U.S. When I downloaded that song, I remember thinking, “Hmm I think I have another song by Of Monsters and Men downloaded too.” Sure enough, I did. By the end of the following month, I finally heard “Little Talks” and despite not hearing the most popular song first, it slowly took over my life for a little while. My friend’s husband and I started getting together every Wednesday beginning in June 2012 to play guitar (Yes I play guitar if you didn’t already know. And drums. And ukulele.). It was during our guitar sessions that we decided to work on playing “Little Talks”. Playing the song came together quickly, but we did play it a lot. It was one of our signature songs along with “Lonely Boy” by The Black Keys and “Dammit” by Blink-182. Eventually, on Black Friday 2012, I picked up a copy of My Head Is an Animal for a few bucks and I considered it one of the best buys of the day. It’s a great record. So yes, Of Monsters and Men and I have a history together, but like I said, I’ve never seen them live. I do enjoy all of the songs I’ve ever heard by them though. I’m sure as long as you’re down with indie pop/indie rock music, you should too.

As you know from reading this, Coachella 2016 won’t be the band’s first trip to the desert. They last played three years ago, but since released a brand new album featuring the hit “Crystals”. If you don’t have a chance to see a band you think is good while they tour in support of an amazing debut album, I think it’s great to be able to see them after they release a second album. Even with the second album, its still at the point that they’ll play plenty of songs you know and love from the first one, along with the best songs from the second one. You end up with a killer combo of music. Of Monsters and Men is at that point now which is another good reason to see them at Coachella this year besides the fact that they’re a great band. They play on the first day of the festival, Friday. Many of the other bands and artists I previewed so far are scheduled to play Saturday or Sunday making Of Monsters and Men a solid option for Friday. Here’s a few songs you should know by this Icelandic indie band:

  1. Little Talks
  2. Crystals
  3. King and Lionheart
  4. Mountain Sound
  5. I of the Storm
  6.  Dirty Paws
  7. Empire
  8. Love Love Love
  9. Lakehouse
  10. Slow and Steady

 

Coachella Band Preview: Matt and Kim

Coachella 2016 is almost 2 months away. I personally can’t believe it’s close to a year since I went out to Indio for my first Coachella experience. It always feels like my trips to California didn’t happen that long ago because I think about them all the time. Truth be told though, it’s 2 months from my 1 year Coachella anniversary. As you know, I’m quite bummed I won’t be returning for 2016, but nonetheless I wish good things for everyone making the journey to Coachella Valley this spring. I also suggest you see the band I’m previewing this week during your weekend. I’ve liked this band for almost 5 years, yet I’ve never seen them live. They’re such a fun duo and among the top of my must-see-live list.

Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino met while attending college at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. After they graduated, the duo formed their two member band appropriately called Matt and Kim (not Kim and Matt because Matt and Kim looks better graphically) in 2004. By 2006, they released their self-titled first album in October, Matt & Kim. Their debut album lead to some appearances at a few high profile music festivals like Coney Island’s Siren Music Festival (2001-2010) and Lollapalooza. On January 20, 2009, the group released their second album, Grand, which they recorded in Matt’s childhood bedroom at his parents house in Vermont. The album featured their most popular song to date, “Daylight”, which was featured in a commercial, a movie, TV shows, and video games. The following year the group released the album Sidewalks and played several headlining tours post-release. Lightning, Matt and Kim’s fourth album, was released on October 2, 2012. The group once again toured and played several festivals in support of the album. “Let’s Go”, one of the singles off of Lightning, even reached the number 20 spot on Billboard’s Alternative songs chart. After a three year break from releasing new tunes, Matt and Kim finished their fifth album, New Glow, and released it less than a year ago on April 7, 2015.

In case you were wondering, Matt and Kim are, in fact, a couple. They’ve been together since college and are the definition of relationship goals. However the fact that they have a band together as a couple isn’t reflected in their music. Their songs aren’t about love. They’re enjoyable, simple, and upbeat songs with basic, easy, and relatable themes. Their music is definitely indie pop, but at times their songs draw from hip-hop influences. Their live shows reflect their style as well. They’re high energy, loud, and fun or so I’ve heard. Basically it’s a Matt and Kim live show is like a giant music party.

I was introduced to Matt and Kim almost 5 years ago by a friend who suggested I listen to “Daylight” and “Yea, Yeah”. Although I liked both, “Yea, Yeah” stood out as one of my favorites during the time period where I made the transition to indie music fan/hipster. I even fell in love with the music video for the song which showed Matt and Kim playing the song on their instruments while having a bunch of random food thrown at them. It was a mere two months later that I bought my first Matt and Kim album. The album I purchased, Sidewalks, turned out to be just what I needed in regards to current life events. In particular it was the song “Good For Great” off that album that resonated with me and a huge choice that I made in the coming months. That song might be one of my favorites of all time because of how I related to it. Throughout the last few years, Matt and Kim’s music has come into my life at various times. They’ve provided me with positive and upbeat tunes and I’m forever grateful.

Hopefully someday I’ll get to fully immerse myself in the Matt and Kim live show party. Until then, those of you attending Coachella need to do me a solid and see their set. They play Sunday during the festival. If I was going, they would be near the top of my list of sets to see, for sure. How could you not want to see them though? They pretty much embody the positive spirit of the festival. Since I know you’ll want to make me jealous by attending their show, here’s a few songs you should know (droppin’ rhymes like Biggie…say what?!):

  1. Daylight
  2. Yea, Yeah (I included the link to the music video I love so much for this as well)
  3. Good For Great
  4. Let’s Go
  5. It’s Alright
  6. Can You Blame Me
  7. Get It
  8. World Is Ending
  9. Cameras
  10. Lessons Learned

 

 

T-Shirt Weather

I had every intention of writing a new Coachella Band Preview for today, but I discovered a new band last night that I needed to share first. It’s almost like a “Breaking News” moment. I may have mentioned this before, but every week Spotify puts out a new Discover Weekly Playlist (duh…Discover Weekly!). I subscribed to the playlist a while ago and found a bunch of new tunes because of it. Yesterday, as I was listening to the new playlist, I saw a song that caught my eye. The title was “T-Shirt Weather”, which made me chuckle a bit considering my deep love for the song “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood (my blog post from the fall so you can see how deep my love runs). I said to myself “What is this? The new “Sweater Weather”?.” I was eager to check it out. Lo and behold, it’s a great song. It’s so great that I have now officially deemed it the new “Sweater Weather”. The song style is much different than the 2013 hit by The Neighbourhood though and it’s by a relatively new band called Circa Waves.

Circa Waves is a British indie rock band formed in 2013. The group hails from Liverpool and consists of vocalist and guitarist, Kieran Shudall, bassist, Sam Rourke, drummer, Colin Jones, and guitarist, Joe Falconer. Shudall and Rourke actually met at a music festival in 2013 and it resulted in the formation of the band. The band’s first single “Good For Me/Get Away” was released in December 2013. Their first EP, Young Chasers EP, was released in June the following year. They played festivals throughout Europe and toured through 2014. Young Chasers, their debut album (Yep, same name as the EP), was released in March 2015. The release happened around their performance at SXSW and a U.S. tour in the fall of 2015 followed. They played U.S. dates with Foals and Ms Mr as well as with The 1975 in the UK.

My first impression of the band was that they are a perfect example of indie rock. In fact the band could be a great transition for someone who likes punk rock or pop-punk and wants to get into indie music. While researching these guys, I read that they’ve been compared to The Strokes. In my opinion, that comparison is spot on. Their music style is much like American indie rockers, The Strokes. They also remind me of The Kooks at times as well. So if you’re a fan of either of those two bands, I guarantee you’ll love these guys.

This year the group has already booked dates at Governor’s Ball and Firefly. If you plan on attending either of those two festivals, I suggest you check out Circa Waves. Their music is both upbeat and fun, which will make for a great set in the the summer sun (hopefully it’s sun at least!). You’ll probably hear a few of these songs:

  1. T-Shirt Weather
  2. Stuck In My Teeth
  3. Best Years
  4. Good For Me/Get Away
  5. Fossils

Musical Enlightenment Part 2: A Hipster Story

So last week I talked about how I went through a whole “musical enlightenment” as a freshman in high school. To me the whole concept is rare because it’s only happened twice in my life. The first of which was under the influence of Dashboard Confessional. The second I’ll tell you about now.

Right before I graduated from college was a super weird time. I was sad and scared and way less happier than I was about getting out of high school. I’m sure so many people have felt that, but as a result I found some new outlets to become immersed in. One of those was a TV show that I’ll save for another time. The other was indie music.

Ok I know what you’re thinking. Wasn’t Dashboard Confessional an indie band too? Didn’t I already listen to that stuff? Yes and no. Sure Dashboard was an indie/emo style that was big in the early 2000’s but it was 2011 and this was the stuff that hipsters liked not emo kids. Plus in the years since Dashboard I explored so many musical genres that I really fell out of the indie scene (I liked ska, pop punk, late 80’s hardcore, etc.). It was like a rediscovery of indie. The style had also seemed to progress from the Dashboard time period. Some bands had a more electronic indie thing going on, while others didn’t. The emo vibe was definitely phased out though.

Anyway, at the time, my friend and I used to text each other music to listen to (I’m convinced everyone should have a friend like this). She knew of and listened to plenty of indie bands/songs. Most of what she recommended was that style, which sort of encouraged me to try to find similar music to send to her because that’s what I knew she liked, not the pop-punk/punk/alternative stuff I was currently into. I ended up liking a lot of songs she recommended which made it easier and motivated me to find more just like them too. My friend and those recommendations were a huge part of my second “musical enlightenment” and I’m forever grateful, but there’s more to the story. There had to be one specific band that was a game changer for me right? Right and here’s who they are and how it happened.

Another friend of mine made me a mixed tape (mixed CD) at the time. There were a few catchy songs on it and I uploaded the ones I liked to my iTunes. During the same time period I used to watch Dancing with the Stars with my mom (I still watch it on occasion). That season one of the “stars” on the show was Chelsea Kane (formerly known as Chelsea Staub from the Disney Channel…yeah I know..judge me) and I was rooting for her to win because 1. I knew who she was and 2. I followed her on twitter. Around then she started a website that she was pretty active on. She talked about fashion, travel, food, and music to name a few. Because I followed her on twitter she used to post when she’d update and because we had some similar interests I used to check out her posts. So one day she made a post about a band she was into at the time whose first album was soon to be released. She also posted a youtube/music clip link to their most popular song. So I naturally started listening to it and I was hooked immediately. The funny thing was though I felt that I heard the song before. Lo and behold, I had heard it. It was the first song on my friend’s mixed tape and it was one of the songs I already put on my iTunes. I immediately texted my friend who made the mixed tape and told him about how good the song was and how I heard about the band on this famous girl’s website. That band was Foster the People and the song was “Pumped Up Kicks”.

Within the next month of my Foster the People discovery, I bought their album Torches and listened to it nonstop on the drive to Williamsburg, VA (my vacation destination of the year). I planned and bought tickets to see them in Philly in June (never ended up making it to the show…worst night…still bummed about it). I stayed up late to watch them perform on Jimmy Kimmel. I also texted my friend who I shared music recommendations with shortly after the discovery and recommended the song to her. She hadn’t heard it yet and loved it too.

Foster the People’s music is considered to be indie pop and that’s just what it is. It’s upbeat indie with a bit of that electronic/synth style I mentioned. It was much different than what I was listening to 2 months prior, but I loved it. They were the first band that sparked a dramatic change in what I listened to since Dashboard Confessional did this 7 years earlier. Although my interest in that type of music started a little before I discovered Foster the People, they were the band that really put the change in full swing.

Their first album Torches is on the list of my favorite albums of all time. Even though “Pumped Up Kicks” was the song that reeled me in, “Helena Beat” was the song that kept me wanting more. I fell in love with “I Would Do Anything For You”. I had dance parties to “Don’t Stop” and “Houdini”. I sang at the top of my lungs to “Call it What You Want”. It’s just a great album. Their second album Supermodel which came out this past year can’t compare to Torches in my mind. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but Torches was way too catchy and will always be highly regarded by me. When I finally did get to see Foster the People live the following summer, I knew the words to almost every song (I was so mad about the ones I didn’t so I downloaded those songs the next day). It was all thanks to falling in love with a band from a different music scene.

So that’s the story of my second musical enlightenment and I guess how I became a hipster. Shoutouts to all the people mentioned above for making it happen and here’s the Foster the People song recommendations:

1. Pumped Up Kicks (you should know this song by now as it got pretty big in the months following my discovery)

2. Helena Beat

3. Broken Jaw

4. Coming of Age

5. Don’t Stop

But really, just listen to all their music, especially that first album. It’s love, love, love and if you have it, it’s amazing.