indie folk music

Shore: Album Review

There’s something about fall that makes me want to listen to indie music. Maybe it’s the way that nature boasts its most colorful season in the Northeast. Maybe it’s the cool crisp air that’s much welcomed after a hot summer. Maybe it’s the flannel, beanies, sweaters, and boots that bring out the hipster in all of us. Maybe it’s simply all those long drives across the state in mid-October I used to take while listening to Matt Pond PA, The Smiths, Good Old War, Bon Iver and other indie acts. It’s probably a combo of all these things, but for the last 10 years or so fall has felt like indie music season, which is why when Fleet Foxes released their most recent full length Shore on the fall solstice, I knew I had to give it a listen. What surprised me is just how into it I was.

I’ve always been a casual fan of Fleet Foxes. Despite their indie folk style that fits my ideal fall tunes, I usually associate them with winter. Cue “White Winter Hymnal”. Shore is the perfect end of summer fall album to change my mind though. In fact I’m ready to listen to it on a long drive while admiring some foliage.

Shore is Fleet Foxes fourth full length album. It was recorded over the last year including in the midst of the pandemic. Actually, the frontman Robin Pecknold recorded the album himself without the other members of the band. So yes, it does feature other collaborators. I don’t think their sound has changed much throughout their four albums, but who knows, maybe I’m just bad at distinguishing indie folk music. Still, I feel the same vibes from Shore as I do from Helplessness Blues and their debut self-titled. If anything this album feels more bright. “Can I Believe You” is an early front runner for my favorite song on the album so far. It has an uplifting feel to it and is also pretty catchy. Plenty of other songs fit that mood as well though creating that brightness you get from this album.

It’s really unfortunate that tours and festivals have ceased for the time being because this album deserves a tour in its support. I’m sure we’ll get there though. While touring in support of their last album, Crack-Up, they played Coachella in 2018 and I wrote this about them. I did get to see part of their set that year and it was the perfect night time indie Coachella set. Can’t wait til I can say the same again. In the mean time, take in the beauty of fall if you live in an area where it can be appreciated while wearing your beanie and checkered flannel and give this album a listen. Tell me it’s not perfect for the setting.

Notes On A Conditional Form: Album Review

In a time where there’s not much in the immediate future to look forward to, we thankfully still have music. New albums and songs are still being released. Some releases may have been delayed, but they’re still happening this year. For an industry that’s been crushed by this world wide crisis, it offers a glimmer of hope and an abundance of jams.

Today, The 1975 dropped their highly anticipated fourth album, Notes On A Conditional Form. The album release was twice delayed already this year, but every few weeks a new single from the album was released in the lead up to this weekend’s official release. To me, this feels like The 1975’s most ambitious album to date. Stylistically, it crosses genres, yet still maintains the indie/synth pop sound well associated with The 1975.

An inkling of this genre breach happened when the band dropped one of the new album’s first songs, “People.” The track sounds more like a punk rock/hardcore anthem than anything you’ve ever heard from The 1975 in the past. I remember being pleasantly surprised with the vibe of the new song as someone who grew up listening to punk and hardcore music, but I still questioned where the band was going with it. As more songs were released, I was assured that their new album would be full of stylistic surprises.

In early April, The 1975 released the song “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America,” which features indie folk rock artist, Phoebe Bridgers, who was supposed to join the band on their 2020 tour until it was inevitably postponed. The song is a testament to Bridgers’ folk rock style. The only thing that gives it away is Matty Healy’s vocals, but even Healy’s sound succumbs to the song style. “Playing on My Mind” also has that indie folk feel.

“Roadkill,” which wasn’t released prior to the full album, sounds like it could’ve come off a Sam Hunt record. It’s got an unmistakable country twang. Despite the country vibe, it still feels like a 1975 indie pop song. I kind of love it. There’s also a few interlude tracks on the record that bridge into another genre as well. These songs take the standard synth pop sound of the band into a more electronic sound. “Shiny Collarbone” and about halfway through “Having No Head” are those dance tracks.

The album is full of songs that sound like what you would expect from The 1975 too. There’s several bangers like “Me & You Together Song”, “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)”, and “Frail State of Mind” and smooth rock ballads like “Guys”, “The Birthday Party”, “Don’t Worry”, and “Nothing Revealed/Everything Denied.” It’s honestly such a great mix of music.

Like I said, this album feels different than what we’re used to from The 1975, but it blends genres remarkably well and still gives us the sound that we’re looking for. It may have taken me an album to actually get into The 1975 (I really got into them after “The Sound” from I like it when you sleep…), but I’ve been a fan ever since. I’ve always really been into their hits. “The Sound” (obviously), “Sex”, “Heart Out”, “Chocolate”, and “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” are a few of my favorites. This new album feels different in a good way though and even the songs I don’t typically fall for, I love. I think if you’re an indie music fan or a music fan in general, you can find something on this record that you’ll like. It’s got something for everyone. But really, you might just love it all, it’s that good. So give it a shot. If you don’t find it appealing, my solution is that maybe you would like it better if you took off your clothes. (Of course, that one is my favorite!)

Sad Philly Boy Music/Coachella Band Preview?

It’s been a while since I last blogged. It almost feels like I actually did go to Coachella since this is what usually happens. I write Coachella blogs until I leave for Coachella then stop until I return from being out in the desert for a few weeks. At this point I should have no excuse for not writing. I’m home. The problem was I couldn’t figure out what to write about. There’s a few upcoming albums I plan to review, but until then I haven’t really discovered anything new I like, until Saturday.

I’ve been talking to my friend Kelsey for most of quarantine. We’re quarantine buddies for sure and we’ve agreed that it feels a lot like being in high school since we’re both with our families. Kick in the nostalgia. We often talk about bands we grew up listening to like Brand New and Taking Back Sunday. We were both emo/punk/alternative kids. Lately though, quarantine has brought in some deep cut local bands and musicians that were a part of our teen scenes. I started talking about Title Fight and how my friends and I watched them play small venues in our area as they grew bigger in their scene. She sent me a picture of her and her prom date Alex and then told me how he’s now in a band that sells out large venues. That’s when I first heard of (Sandy) Alex G.

According to Kelsey, (Sandy) Alex G, aka her high school friend Alex Giannascoli, really started when he was in high school. He was in a pop punk band called The Skin Cells with several of their other friends. Kelsey even sent me one of their songs Saturday night. It was great. She said Alex was super dedicated to music and would record his own stuff in his room, put it on CD, and personally decorate the CD. She said it felt like he did this at least once a month. He was good too. She always thought he would be famous one day and she wasn’t lying. He’s now an indie recording artist.

He began self-releasing music on Bandcamp between 2010-2012. His music spread by word of mouth and music blogs and eventually lead to his signing with Orchid Tapes who he released his debut album DSU under in 2014. At that time he was just Alex G. In 2015 he signed with Domino Recording Company and began releasing records under that label. He released three albums with Domino in 2015, Rules, Trick, and Beach Music.

In 2017, Alex G announced that he would be changing his name from Alex G to (Sandy) Alex G shortly before the release of his album Rocket. The album ranked on many indie publications’ lists as being in the Top 50 of the year. In September, Alex released his latest album House of Sugar, which again received similar accolades

(Sandy) Alex G is a typical indie artist. His music also bridges into that post-punk/pop-punk/alternative scene that bands like Turnover and Tigers Jaw are a part of. He’s also from suburban Philly. Based on his style, he probably attracts a large following of “sad Philly boy” fans, which is a term I’ve heard referring to the new indie scene of young urban outfitter wearing 20-somethings that originated in Philly. Regardless of what your style is, if you’re an indie music fan, you’d dig what (Sandy) Alex G has been putting out.

Normally, at this point of the year Coachella would already have passed and we would be looking forward to next year. Unfortunately at this point, 2020 hasn’t happened and no one’s really sure if it will. That being said who knows what happens to the 2020 lineup? If it happens this year, will the same artists be playing? If it doesn’t, do they play next year? I’m sure Goldenvoice has already started booking a 2021 lineup that looks much different than this year, but I bet if Coachella 2020 doesn’t happen in the fall there may be some smaller acts booked for the following spring. The reason I’m even talking about this is because (Sandy) Alex G was supposed to be on the lineup this year! He was slated to play Sunday. Even though everything is very TBD right now, I’m hoping he still plays in October and if not, I’m hoping he’s on the 2021 lineup. I’d love to see him out on the polo fields and I now have plenty of time to listen to his music. So big shoutout to Kelsey for the introduction and big shoutout to Alex for putting out this great music since high school.

 

 

 

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