indie folk

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

 

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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