indie folk music

You’ve Never Danced Like This Before

I’m defining this quarantine/isolation by the number of days we have without concerts or festivals. Currently we’re on Day whatever. In the meantime, I’m going to be posting weekly and I’ll be using this time to catch up on a few artists I’ve wanted to write about. Back in the fall Milky Chance released their third album Mind the Moon. I’ve never been a huge Milky Chance fan, but there were several tracks on the new album that I absolutely loved. I wanted to write about them at the time, but there were rumors they would be at Coachella. I decided to hold off because I anticipated writing about them in my Coachella previews. Needless to say, they weren’t on the lineup and I needed to focus on writing about the acts that were. Now, since we have some time, let me tell you a bit about this German folk band.

Milky Chance was founded around 2012 when members, Clemens Rehbein (bass) and Philipp Dausch (guitar) played in a jazz group together. When the group broke up, the two still kept up their musical connection and began writing and recording their own music. They began posting it to YouTube. The band recorded their first album Sadnecessary in 2013 after only playing two live shows. It was the song “Stolen Dance” that really became their claim to fame. The song became a viral hit on YouTube and earned them top spots across music charts in Germany and many other countries in Europe as well as reaching number one on the Billboard Alternative chart. From 2014-2016 the band toured extensively in support of their debut album, playing shows and festivals throughout Europe, North America, South Africa, and Oceania. They played their first Coachella in 2015.

In 2017, they released their sophomore album Blossom. They toured worldwide through 2018, but their second album did not have as much commercial success as their debut. Their latest record Mind the Moon was released on November 15, 2019. Again it still hasn’t reached the level of success as Sadnecessary but I will say it’s a pretty good record.

Milky Chance is primarily an alternative folk band but they also incorporate elements of reggae, jazz, and electronic beats into their music. In this way a lot of their songs sound different from one another. Two of my favorite songs on the latest record show that. “The Game” has a reggae/electronic feel while “Oh Mama” has this hip-hop/middle eastern/folk sound. One thing has remained persistent over the three records though and that is Rehbein’s deep and hypnotic vocals.

I can only imagine Milky Chance will be back on the touring and festival circuit soon once live music also resumes in support of their latest record. They’re a pretty unique indie alternative band because their music is so varied. I’ve seen them perform once, back at Coachella in 2015 when I attended. I remember not being impressed by their live performance, but I know I only saw part of their set. I’d be willing to give them another chance. They’re definitely worthy of a listen if you’re a fan of indie, folk, or reggae and given the time we all have now, it’s always worth it to discover something new.

Good Spring

It’s kind of amazing how much has changed since I last posted. Two weeks ago my big concern was hoping Coachella wouldn’t get cancelled. Now it’s hoping that I’ll get to work again at some point this year. In the last 3 weeks the world has just gone downhill. Three weeks ago it was unimaginable. Now it’s the standard and it’s crazy how I’ve already settled into it. For me it’s been a re-adjustment. When I first started this blog, I was in the midst of a time in my life where I was unemployed. I stayed home a lot. I tried not to spend much money. I would occasionally do things like drive an hour to the nearest Chipotle once a month. It’s kind of like that now with even less opportunity to do anything to pass the time. It’s heartbreaking when I think about it, but I’ve been getting through it and I’m reminded every day just how lazy I can be. I’ll buy into this thing though if it ends with me being able to work again, see my friends, and enjoy live music sooner rather than later. I don’t really know what other options I have. It’s all pretty shitty and hopefully the music industry gets some support soon.

When I last posted, I know I said I’d have a lot more time to write, but I really didn’t realize just how much time I’d have. Since then, I did a lot of thinking about music during this down time. The moment we all get to enjoy concerts and festivals again is gonna be pretty special. I also think we’re gonna get a lot of great new music out of this, which lead me to think about a great record that was created after Justin Vernon of Bon Iver spent months escaping the world, For Emma Forever Ago.

Bon Iver’s debut album was made while Vernon spent November 2006-January 2007 at his father’s remote hunting cabin that was an hour northwest of his hometown Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Vernon decided to spend some time there to get away from society after dealing with having mono, a liver infection, and just general displeasure in his songwriting and life. While in the cabin, he hunted his own food. His father also visited him every two weeks or so to bring him beer, eggs, cheese, and other items he wasn’t able to hunt.

Vernon recorded 9 songs in the cabin that winter including favorites like “Skinny Love”, “Flume”, and “Re: Stacks”. He drew inspiration from multiple sources such as Bruce Springsteen, the Vienna Boys’ Choir, and Appalachian folk singers. He recorded the music for his songs first. Then he used wordless vocals to add to each song. The album represented major life events Vernon was going through at the time that ranged on topics of longing and lost love to mediocrity. When Vernon left the cabin in February 2007, he was still feeling ill and not particularly satisfied with his songwriting.

After about a few months, Vernon’s friends encouraged him to release the album so he did. He independently released it in June 2007 under the name Bon Iver, which is a misspelling of the french phrase “bon hiver” meaning “good winter”. The project gained popularity throughout 2007 into 2008 from many indie music outlets. For Emma Forever Ago was re-released in February 2008 under Jagjaguwar. It eventually made music charts worldwide and lead to plenty of success for Justin Vernon and his band Bon Iver.

I spent a few days last week listening to this album in full. It gave me a lot of comfort in knowing such a beautiful thing could come from isolation.  This is why I truly believe there’s going to be great music that comes out of this dark time. There’s going to be a lot beauty in general. Who knows how long this lasts or what’s to come for our future because for once I think everyone feels pretty uncertain. We will make it out though. There will be concerts. There will be festivals. There will be more new albums and songs. Things might be a bit different initially, but we’ll adjust and make them better. Maybe we needed this break. Maybe earth just needed this break. It will get better though. It always does. Be well in the meantime and I’ll leave you with this from Florence and the Machine, “it’s always darkest before the dawn.”

Best of Music in 2019

Here it is…the final post of 2019. These are some of my favorite songs, artists, and albums of the past year. I chose whatever one meant the most to be featured on this list. I picked 10 plus a few honorable mentions, half of which are two of my favorite guilty pleasures of this year. The list goes as follows:

“Back in My Body” -Maggie Rogers

I wrote last week about how Maggie’s debut album was one of the best of the decade. It is straight fire don’t get me wrong, but this song in particular meant the most to me this year. Last winter into spring, I listened to Maggie Rogers in preparation for Coachella. I bought the album on vinyl and listened to it through a couple times. I remember liking several songs on the record and this was included. It wasn’t until I was actually out at Coachella that I fell in love with this jam. Sometime during Weekend One I was driving around listening to Maggie and this song just hit me. I remember thinking, “Wow this is a great song!” and then I played it on repeat while I drove around Indio for the next two weeks.

I saw Maggie Rogers perform during Weekend 2 and recorded part of the song. It was my song of Coachella 2019. I don’t think anyone I worked with really knew about it, nor did I listen to it with anyone. It was just for me. It was the song I listened to driving to and from site by myself or to and from the Renaissance Hotel or to Zach’s house or on any errands I ran. I listened to it the day I left Indio and for days and weeks after I got home. Coachella 2019 was special for so many reasons and this song will always remind me of the festival, my friends, and the great times I had in the desert this past spring.

“Pizza Guy” -Touch Sensitive

Coincidently this is another song that I discovered in Indio thanks to my buddy Noah. For weeks leading up to Coachella, we discussed having a huge BBQ at our house between weekends. I bought a ton of food, we invited everyone we talked to, and Noah made a banging playlist for the BBQ. We had the BBQ and definitely didn’t have as many people as we thought show up. I also don’t think we ended up listening to the playlist much at all.

The next day though Noah, our other friend Ashley, and I ventured around the Coachella Valley to check out the biennial Desert X art exhibit. We ended up using the BBQ playlist as a soundtrack to our day. I remember hearing this song for the first time as I drove Noah and Ashley from one location to another as they smoked weed and drank road sodas in the back of my rental (yeah we’re dingy..it’s fine). I also remember checking out the name and artist of the song cause I really dug the vibe. It’s a song that doesn’t have lyrics, but it was chill and perfect for our day or any BBQ. I continued to listen to it after that day and in the weeks and months that followed Coachella. Much like “Back in My Body” it also reminds me of being at Coachella, but it also just gives me some major Cali vibes and will also always be synonymous with the great time I had out west this past spring.

Lizzo

Little did I know that when Lizzo’s name was on the Coachella lineup when it dropped on January 2nd that she would have such a huge influence on my year. She also had a huge impact in the music world in general. 2019 was really the year of Lizzo.

At the beginning of the year I had just started to get into her song “Good As Hell”. I used to start my day each morning by asking my Echo Dot to play it. Then I added “Juice” to my work out playlist. I listened to a few songs more songs here and there in preparation for Coachella too, but nothing really stuck out like those two. I saw Lizzo perform both weekends of Coachella. Each set was slammed. After her Weekend 1 set, I took a liking to “Boys”. I was into that for a while. Then as we all know “Truth Hurts” blew up. Recently I’ve been listening to “Water Me”. I also just bought my mom the Super Deluxe version of her debut album Cuz I Love You for Christmas so I’m sure the Lizzo train will continue into 2020.

The point is Lizzo was every where, all year, at all different points of the year for me. I saw her perform again at ACL in October. If I thought her Coachella set was crowded, I had no idea what was coming. There had to be about 40,000 people there each weekend. It was incredible. The great thing about Lizzo is that it’s not just her music that’s great, it’s her whole vibe. She always gives 110% at each performance and promotes hard work and positivity and it’s great to have an artist making music representative of that.

Without Fear -Dermot Kennedy

Besides Maggie Rogers’ Heard It in A Past Life, Dermot Kennedy’s debut album Without Fear has been one of my favorite’s this year. It’s been in my car CD player since October and I’m still listening to it when I’m not listening to my “Most Recently Added Playlist” on my iPod. I was introduced to Dermot Kennedy at Coachella this past year and began listening to his music afterwards. When a co-worker and I began discussing him at work one day in the summer, we decided we should see him play in October when he came to Philly. She was able to get us comp tickets for it too.

I bought his album in anticipation of the show and I really can’t get enough of it. I think he’s incredibly talented and his songs are some of the best lyrically that I’ve heard in a while, which is rare these days. For someone who grew up listening to punk/emo/alternative music, lyrics were huge for me. Lately music has been more of the sound and feel than lyrics for me. Dermot Kennedy has both. In recent years, I don’t think I’ve loved a line in a song as much as I love “see I’m in love with how your soul’s a mix of chaos and art,” from “Outnumbered”. I’m so hyped on Dermot Kennedy that I’m trying to plan to see him again in February, so I guess he’s headed into 2020 with me as well.

Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend’s new album, Father of the Bride, was definitely the music that I was most excited for heading into this year. When they announced their tour dates, I was online the day of the pre-sale buying tickets for an early September Philly date. I was able to secure great seats too. I spent a lot of the year listening to Vampire Weekend in anticipation of that show, including their new record. It wasn’t one of my favorites, but there were a few songs that I really enjoyed like “Harmony Hall” and “This Life”.  Thankfully at the show, they played plenty of old and new music. I think my favorite part was when they played “Walcott” on request. It was a fun night and one I looked forward to since I saw them play at Lollapalooza last summer. You can ask Lil’ Jon cause he always tells the truth, but I’m so glad the Ivy League boys made a comeback this year.

Client Liaison

Almost exactly a year ago I was introduced to Client Liaison. I was playing Yam Slam at my same buddy Noah’s house with him and his friend Lou. He turned on some music to play in the background and the song “Feed the Rhythm” came on. I thought it was great so I asked him who it was and both him and Lou began telling me about Client Liaison. “Feed the Rhythm” was one of my go-to jams to start the year and so were plenty of other Client Liaison songs. I continued listening to them throughout the year though too. They dropped a few new singles over the past couple months like “The Real Thing”, “The Beat Supreme”, and “Champagne Affection”. One thing Noah explained to me when he told me about them was that they never tour in the United States (they’re from Australia). I’m hoping next year and a new album (with all these recent singles it seems like it could be possible?!) changes that.

“Heart” -Rainbow Kitten Surprise

When I got back from my first trip to work festivals in Mexico I worked VIP for Rainbow Kitten Surprise at one of my favorite venues. I didn’t know much about the band at the time. It’s rare that everyone checks-in for VIP but when it happens I’m usually done with work earlier than expected and sometimes I even get to catch the VIP experience if there is one. It happened that night and I was able to watch some of Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s acoustic VIP set. They played the song “Heart”. I didn’t know what song it was at the time. It was catchy though and I liked it. I remember looking at their Spotify for the song in the days that followed and I couldn’t find it. I searched on the internet just by typing in a few lyrics I remembered and I stumbled upon a Youtube video of a member of the band playing the song on guitar. The song was sort of unreleased? A few months later the band released Mary (B-sides) which contained two songs. One of them was “Heart”. I began listening to the song whenever I wanted then. I downloaded it and added it to my summer work out playlist. When it comes on these days, I still love it. I’ll occasionally replay it too. It’s a great song and was a great introduction to Rainbow Kitten Surprise. I’ve since listened to a few of their other songs and I’ve definitely become a fan.

RÜFÜS DU SOL

For most of the year, I also anticipated seeing a full RÜFÜS DU SOL set. After only seeing part of their set at Electric Forest in 2018 and realizing how good they are, I decided to make it my mission to see a whole RÜFÜS DU SOL show. I bought tickets to see them play in August while I was in Mexico in January. They were also on the Coachella lineup so I figured I was definitely seeing them this year. I did see them. Twice. Leading up to both sets, I began listening to their entire discography. I got into plenty of RÜFÜS DU SOL songs including “Sundream”, “Tonight”, “Hypnotised”, “Say A Prayer”, and “Brighter” in addition to their new record and a few of their other songs that I already knew. Both sets were fantastic and at Coachella it felt like their song “No Place” was a theme because there really is “no place I’d rather be.”

“Catchy Song” -Dillon Francis (ft. T-Pain, That Girl Lay Lay)

This past year the second installment of the Lego movie came out in February. Haters gonna hate but I loved the first one. I saw the second one in early March after I returned home from my second stint in Mexico. The first movie had the original song “Everything is Awesome” by Tegan and Sara. The second movie’s music hit was “Catchy Song”, an electronic song by Dillon Francis featuring T-Pain and That Girl Lay Lay. The title doesn’t lie either. The song is super catchy. It’s also about how the song is so catchy, which I thought was pretty funny. It’s honestly a great song to work out to. I put it on my work out playlist of the time and also enjoyed listening to it too. I introduced my young cousin Hudson to the song since he enjoyed “Everything is Awesome” and sure enough he really liked “Catchy Song”. For most of March and even into April I couldn’t stop listening to the song. I still love listening to it any time I get to it on my iPod or anywhere else. It really is such a catchy song.

Hey I’m Just Like You -Tegan and Sara

In late July, Tegan and Sara announced a tour and new album as well as their memoir. The album, Hey I’m Just Like You, was released about 2 months later along with the book. It was comprised of songs the girls had written while in high school, but were re-recorded. They also may have adjusted the songs slightly but promised that each song stayed true to its original sound and meaning. I know many people who weren’t huge fans of the album or people who told me I wouldn’t be. I really liked it though!

I listened to it for a while once I bought it and even went to a show on their tour. It was such a unique concert experience that included the twins reading excerpts from their memoir while also playing music from the album and other songs they’ve written too. It felt like the Tegan and Sara musical, but way more cool than any musical would be. I’m so glad I was able to attend and really glad I got into the album because it was one of my favorite albums of this past year.

Honorable Mentions:

“Sucker” -Jonas Brothers (Guilty pleasure, sorry not sorry)

“thank u, next” -Ariana Grande (Another guilty pleasure, can’t even help it)

“Nervous Energy” -Glades (upbeat electronic track)

“Love You For A Long Time” -Maggie Rogers (late 2019 banger that didn’t make it on Heard It In A Past Life)

So there it is, the music world of 2019 for me. After a rough year personally for me in 2018, this past year, thanks to my travels and friends, helped me re-focus. In the end it gave me some really special experiences that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It also gave me a bunch of new career experiences that have helped me grow in the music industry. Since I started working in the music industry, I’ve gained more and more experience each year. This past year was no different. I went to Mexico, managed box offices and ticket helps, worked two festivals that were on my festival bucket list since I started (Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits), and even accepted a different role at Coachella that lead to the best year I had there yet. I’ve always set small goals for myself and ultimately achieved many of them. A lot of times, I felt good about making those goals happen. For the first time since I’ve started, I feel like 2020 might take me back to square one on a few things. It feels like it might be more of a challenge to try to achieve my new goals. I’m determined though so hopefully this year brings me even more experience.

As for music, I have hopes for a lot this year. I’m hoping Foster the People drops a new album and tours again. After releasing 4 new songs over the last 13 months, they have to have a new record and touring plans in the works right? I hope so at least.

Adele has also been rumored to have new music on the way. The rumors suggested we’d have a new song and album from her by the end of the year, but that didn’t happen so I’m hoping we get some new tunes from her soon.

Oh Wonder will be releasing a new album this year and heading out on tour. Based on my schedule there’s a good chance I won’t be able to catch any of their spring tour, but I’m excited for more new music to add to the singles they’ve already released over the last few months.

Glass Animals seem to be active again as well. After taking some time off and cancelling shows when their drummer was injured in a cycling accident, Glass Animals have started booking some festivals in 2020. It makes me think they’ll be releasing some new music too. I got into them too late in 2017 and I’m looking to redeem myself with new tour dates and a new album.

There’s Haim has been working and releasing new music so maybe we’ll even get a new Haim record too.

I’ve heard rumors about new Arctic Monkeys, which would be very exciting to have new music from them so soon after a 5 year gap in albums. Flume started touring again and releasing new music. The Strokes are back and set for a major tour. Also while writing my Top Albums of the Decade post, I started thinking, where has Lorde been?! She was quiet all of this past year. I would love to have some new Lorde! I would also love some new LCD Soundsystem! These are some big dreams but I can definitely hope.

One thing is for certain, the Coachella lineup will be dropping over the next few days, which means the hype is back, the previews are back, and we’re only a few months away from the yearly descent upon the Indio desert! Here’s to hoping 2020 brings the same kind of BIG MOODs, good vibes, and sick times that 2019 provided. Actually here’s to hoping it’s even better!

 

 

 

Without Fear: Album Review

Back at Coachella this past spring, I discovered Irish singer/songwriter Dermot Kennedy. I wrote about him and the experience a few months ago. On October 4th, Dermot Kennedy released his debut album Without Fear so I figured I had to do a review of it, especially since I’ll be seeing him perform for the second time this week!

Since the release, Without Fear has reached number 18 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart. The album contains a little bit of everything. It’s got pop-bangers like “Outnumbered”, “What Have I Done”, and “Power Over Me”. It’s got hints of electronic music in songs like “Moments Passed”, “Outgrown” and “Without Fear”. “Moments Passed”  and “Outgrown” even have elements of hip-hop as well, along with the song “An Evening I Will Not Forget”.

Lately Dermot Kennedy is being referred to as the Irish Ed Sheeran. I’m guilty of this comparison as well, but Dermot Kennedy is definitely different than the red-haired English pop artist. His music is a bit darker and more folk-focused than Ed Sheeran. I’ve also compared a few of his tracks to indie folk artist, Bon Iver, especially the song “Moments Passed”. One distinguishable trait in his music compared to other artists though is his Irish accent.

Since Coachella, Dermot Kennedy has definitely been growing in popularity. He is currently on tour in support of his new album in the U.S. and Europe. He will be touring into early 2020 playing larger scale venues in the U.S. I’m convinced Kennedy’s popularity will continue to grow as time goes on. If you don’t want to be late to the Dermot Kennedy party, I highly recommend listening to Without Fear. This is a debut album you don’t want to miss.

Fever Dream: Album Review

After working two festivals and being forgetful about the blog for a month and a half, I’m back with an album review. In fact, in the past few weeks several artists I like have released new music and I’ll probably do a couple more reviews in the coming days/weeks.  First up is the latest from Of Monsters and Men, Fever Dream.

Fever Dream is the third full length album from the Icelandic indie folk pop group. It was released on July 26th. This is also the band’s latest album since 2015. The band hinted working on new music in spring 2017 via their instagram, but “Alligator”, the first single from Fever Dream, dropped a little under two years later. Fever Dream is full of melodic indie pop jams similar to their first two albums. There’s not one particular track that stands out as being “that song” like “Little Talks” was on their debut, but there are several songs that will surely grow to be popular amongst fans of the band and indie music fans alike. One of those songs is “Wars” which is about a mind war between loving and not loving someone. One of my personal favorites is “Ahay”. What I can say about the track is that the chorus is extremely catchy.

As I mentioned, over the years Of Monsters and Men has stayed consistent on their sound. The vocals of Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson create a beautiful harmony which have become a signature mark of the band. They’ve also stayed within the realms of a mixture of indie pop and indie folk music, which is always a good thing as a fan. They’ve also routinely used native instruments like the glockenspiel as part of their music.

I’m definitely a fan of Fever Dream because I’m a fan of Of Monsters and Men. Even if you’re not a huge fan, the album is still worth a listen if you’re a fan of the indie pop genre. The new record is a great album to put in your car while heading on a road trip during these summer months. I felt like it was at least while driving to my gig the other day. This fall, the band will be embarking on a tour in support of their latest work. Check out Fever Dream when you have the chance and check them out in a city near you soon.

You’ve Got That Power Over Me

Back at Coachella this year during Weekend 1, I was walking out of the Mojave Tent after listening to Lizzo absolutely crush her set, when I was intrigued by the music I heard coming from the Gobi Tent right next door. I took a slow walk by the stage and really liked what I heard. It sounded like a mixture of pop, folk, and rock music. I looked to see who was on the stage and found out it was an artist by the name of Dermot Kennedy.

During Weekend 2, I went to his set with a friend after again hearing Lizzo perform some of her set. Although I was feeling kind of tired that afternoon and decided to sit on the side listening for a bit, I enjoyed listening to Dermot perform and told myself I was going to start listening to him after Coachella. Sure enough I followed through.

Dermot Joseph Kennedy is an Irish singer/songwriter/musician who hails from Rathcoole, Ireland, which is about 30 minutes from Dublin. He began playing guitar at age 10 and started songwriting by the age of 14, but did not start focusing on music until his late teen years. He played open mic nights, competed in talent competitions, and began busking on the streets of Ireland to get noticed. However, the use of a streaming platform is where his breakthrough came from.

He developed a following through Spotify and self-released music on the platform for the last couple of years. He released his self-titled debut album on January 4th and was signed to major label Interscope Records shortly after. His sophomore album Without Fear is set to be released in late September. Kennedy spent the last two years touring in Europe, Australia, and the U.S. He even played several major U.S. festivals including Bonnaroo in 2017, Lollapalooza, SXSW, and Austin City Limits in 2018, and Coachella in 2019. He will again be embarking on tour this fall in the U.S., Canada, and Europe in support of his newest album.

Kennedy’s style is just as I described it – a mixture of pop, folk, and rock music. He even incorporates a bit of hip-hop on a few of his tracks. His sound at times reminds me of a darker, more Irish version of Ed Sheeran. Yes, you can definitely hear the Irish accent in his music too. It’s actually pretty sick!

As I mentioned I first heard of Dermot Kennedy while attending Coachella this year. That’s why it’s always worth it to walk around and check out some sets by artists you might not know anything about at any music festival. You might just find something that you really like. I always feel like Coachella brings me to listen to different artists or gets me into artists I only knew a little bit about before. It was no different this year with the introduction of Dermot Kennedy. I highly recommend checking him out since he’s still very much on the rise. I may even try to see one of his shows during his tour this fall. He’s super talented and his tunes are pretty good as well. Here’s a few you might want to check out:

  1. Power Over Me
  2. Outnumbered
  3. After Rain
  4. A Closeness
  5. Glory

Coachella Band Preview: Vance Joy

Coachella 2018 Weekend 1 is just over six weeks away and I can finally say I’ll be back out there for my third Coachella! I just received an offer to work the festival again at the end of last week. My hype level was at a high for sure. After working last year and soaking up every minute, I always felt like I would be the luckiest person ever to return the following year to do the same thing. Now it’s actually happening! So cool. So so cool. Another cool thing about Coachella this year is that Vance Joy is performing.

Vance Joy, a.k.a. James Gabriel Wanderson Keogh, is a musician from Melbourne, Australia. He came on to the music scene in 2013 with his smash hit “Riptide” and hasn’t gone back since. He just released his second studio album, Nation of Two on Friday.

Vance Joy, whose name comes from the Peter Carey book Bliss, released his debut EP God Loves You When You’re Dancing in March 2013. In the time between the EP release and his debut album in 2014, “Riptide” peaked at the number 6 spot on the ARIA Singles Chart. It was also used in a U.S. GoPro commerical and reached spot 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the Alternative and Rock Airplay charts.

His debut album Dream Your Life Away was released in September 2014. He toured worldwide in support of the album, then joined Taylor Swift on her 1989 World Tour as an opening act. Besides opening for Taylor Swift in 2015, Vance Joy played Coachella, Governor’s Ball, and Austin City Limits among others. He also won an ARIA Award for Best Male Artist and was nominated for awards in six other categories for Dream Your Life Away. In 2014, he made festival appearances at Bonnaroo, Firefly, Glastonbury, and Lollapalooza. Tour life continued into 2016 with the Fire and the Flood Tour. The extensive touring ceased in 2017, but Vance Joy still played a few shows and festivals last year.

Vance Joy’s music is part of the indie music spectrum. It falls into the indie pop and indie folk categories. His music really does sound like a fitting combination of the two genres. One of Vance Joy’s signature elements is the use of a ukulele in several of his songs, “Riptide” being part of that group.

I first heard of Vance Joy because of the song “Riptide” (of course!). When I downloaded the song in the spring of 2014, it was before his first album was released. Since then, I’ve gotten into several Vance Joy songs. I even heard his performance at Coachella in 2015. He played at either the Gobi or Mojave Tent and it was too crowded to actually see his set. My cousin and I sat outside and listened instead. I also saw him perform at Panorama last summer. I caught some of his set since I was working the entire day. I definitely enjoyed it. He puts on a great live show.

I’m guessing that since the last time he played Coachella and his set was over-crowded that he’ll probably perform at either the Coachella Stage or the Outdoor Stage. He plays Sunday. He’s not listed as one of the top acts that day but I’m sure he’ll be performing in the late afternoon hours on one of the larger stages. It wouldn’t make sense to for him to have another time slot at a different stage. If I were just attending, his set would definitely be one I would try to catch. From a working perspective though, I would only catch it if I was off work at the time he performed. He’s a great musician and I love his music, but I have seen him before. Plus there are a couple others on Sunday that I would pick first if it came down to that. Regardless, if you’re attending, go to his set! I guarantee you’ll know something (even if it’s just “Riptide”) and you’ll be entranced by what you don’t know. Here’s a few songs you might want to check out to get you ready though:

  1. Riptide
  2. Georgia
  3. Like Gold
  4. Fire and the Flood
  5. Mess is Mine
  6. Lay It On Me
  7. Saturday Sun

 

Coachella Band Preview: Fleet Foxes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Bishop Briggs

2017 is almost over. It’s been such a great year in so many ways. However there were two times I could’ve done something better. I realized I failed twice this year. The first time was with Glass Animals. I started listening to them after they played a bunch of festivals I worked at. Their tour dates were also sold out by then. I found out yesterday the second time I failed was with Bishop Briggs.

Last night I was going through a few pre-made Spotify playlists looking for new music and I decided to listen to a song called “Dream” by Bishop Briggs. I’d known her name since working Coachella back in April. While working at the festival, I was taking a few of our Safari guests to their desired location while we talked about music. I mentioned I thought that BANKS had such a draw at her set that she was too big to be performing at the Gobi Tent. I said she should have been on the Main Stage or the Outdoor Stage (both allow for more space). Then one of the guests agreed and said she thought the same thing about Bishop Briggs. Up until that point Bishop Briggs was just a name on the Coachella lineup to me. I told the guest I never listened to Bishop Briggs and she started talking about her and how great she was. I told her I’d check her out. I never really did until yesterday. Fail.

Sarah Grace McLaughlin, aka Bishop Briggs, is relatively new on the music scene first making her mark with the song “Wild Horses” in 2015, then under the name “BISHOP”. She changed her name to Bishop Briggs in 2016 to avoid any legal confrontation with a metal band by the same name. The name comes from the town where her Scottish parents are from in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland. She was born in London, England but spent her formative years growing up in Tokyo and Hong Kong, eventually moving to the U.S. to attend college in Los Angeles. She developed a love for music at a young age after performing in a karaoke bar when she was 4.

After being discovered by a former A&R rep. in 2015, Bishop Briggs gained popularity when “Wild Horses” appeared in an Acura commercial. In early 2016, she released her second single “River”. The song made Alternative charts on Billboard and iTunes as well as topping Spotify’s U.S. Viral 50 chart and reaching #2 on its Global Viral 50 chart. By late 2016 “Wild Horses” started climbing the charts. The song was featured on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart and Twitter Emerging Artists chart as well as iTunes Alternative charts.

She released 3 other singles last year which culminated in her first EP which was released in limited capacity as a vinyl on Record Store Day Black Friday 2016 and in full on April 14, 2017. The full self-titled EP also featured two unreleased songs. She also contributed the song, “Mercy”, to the xXx: Return of Xander Cage Soundtrack and collaborated with Cold War Kids on their song “So Tied Up”. She’s spent time on tours opening for Coldplay, Kaleo, and alt-J as well as playing some major music festivals this past summer. She’s currently on tour opening for Bleachers.

Briggs has described her music as being a trap-soul style. Her singing is dark, deep, and soulful. Her music is also considered to be part of the indie pop, alternative rock genres. I agree with all of these classifications. To me, her sound is comparable to BANKS, but their songs differ slightly too. Bishop Briggs almost has this indie folk type sound with deeper, scratchier vocals, whereas BANKS offers cleaner vocals with more of an electronic sound to her songs. Both sing with a powerful sound though and are alternative in their own rights.

I realized shortly before starting this blog that I listened to some of Bishop Briggs’ Panorama performance this summer. I remember thinking then that she was definitely good and I’d have to spend some time listening to her. I also was exposed to her from the Cold War Kids collaboration which I heard for the first time back in June. I loved the collab. Last night her newest single, “Dream”, is what made it click for me. I fell in love with the song immediately after hearing it for the first time. So I decided to listen to her other music along with playing “Dream” on repeat a few more times. I had so many opportunities to see her this past year that I never capitalized on and one opportunity where I didn’t appreciate her enough, similar to my Glass Animals experience, which was coincidentally at Panorama too. The good part about this though is that Bishop Briggs has yet to release her first full-length album, which usually means a headlining tour. So maybe I still have a chance? Until then though I’ll just keep playing “Dream” on repeat, listen to her other songs in there too, and hope for the best. Do yourself a favor and listen to her. But, unlike me, actually do it. “Dream” is fire and her other singles are pretty damn awesome too.

Coachella Band Preview: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

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

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

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

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

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

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

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