indie pop music

Coachella Band Preview: Rex Orange County

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coachella 2020 Lineup Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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!

 

 

 

Top Albums of the Decade

For the last few years, I’ve been ending each year with a list of my faves in music from the past year. I plan on doing it again but since 2019 is the last year in this decade I thought I’d also include a list of my favorite albums of the last 10 years. I definitely have a clear cut favorite and second favorite, but after those two, there’s really no particular order.

This list is defined by albums that I’ve listened to in full for days, weeks, months, or just repeatedly for no set amount of time. It’s a list of albums that I couldn’t get enough of. My two favorites on this list have been in my car since I bought them in 2011 and 2012. I still listen to them occasionally. You could probably chalk them up on the list of my favorite albums of all time, but the others are special to me as well.

So let’s get down to it. Here are my top 15 (plus a few honorable mentions!) favorite albums of the 2010’s:

Torches -Foster the People (2011)

My absolute, number one, favorite album and Foster the People’s debut album. I wrote once about how Foster the People really shaped the music I got into this decade going from being into punk/emo/alternative music to indie pop/indie rock. This album did it for me in 2011. Foster the People was a new, hype band on the music scene. They played SXSW and Coachella the spring before their first album dropped. When I got into them I learned about Coachella for the first time. So this band and album really shaped a lot about this decade for me.

I’ve loved Torches from top to bottom since I purchased it in May 2011. “Helena Beat” was the first song that hooked me, but despite any criticism it’s received over the years, “Pumped Up Kicks” kept me around. It’s filled with other bangers like “Houdini” and “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)”, but it has plenty of underrated hits like “Call It What You Want”, “I Would Do Anything For You”, “Life on the Nickel” and “Warrant”. Since I bought a record player in 2012, I’ve been adamant about not purchasing records that I already have on CD. This month I broke that rule for this album. It’s one of my all-time favorite works of music and the best of this decade for me. It was about time that I own it on vinyl too.

Born to Die -Lana Del Rey (2012)

Born to Die is Lana Del Rey’s debut album. It came out in 2012 and I’ve loved it ever since. I listened to it constantly once I bought it. Like Torches, it’s the only other album that’s stayed in my car since I purchased it. I remember thinking Lana Del Rey and her music were completely ridiculous when I bought the album, but I fell into it and the rest of her music. It was the song “National Anthem” that convinced me. It’s still my favorite Lana Del Rey song to this day. “Diet Mountain Dew” was always another favorite of mine as well. Born to Die is filled with several other classics like “Born to Die” the title track, “Blue Jeans”, “Off to the Races”, “Video Games” the album’s first single, and Lana’s biggest hit “Summertime Sadness”. I’ll always love Pabst Blue Ribbon because of “This Is What Makes Us Girls” too.  This album was always on in my car for a few months in the summer of 2012. It got me into Lana Del Rey and she became one of my favorite artists of the decade as well.

Days Are Gone -HAIM (2013)

In early 2014, I discovered the sister trio band Haim. I decided to buy their debut album Days Are Gone because I liked their songs “Falling” and “Don’t Save Me”. I might have taken a risk on two songs but it was a great risk to take. I loved the album and had it in my car for quite some time. I really got into “The Wire”. I also loved “If I Could Change Your Mind”, “Forever”, “Honey & I”, and “Days Are Gone” in addition to the others I already liked.

I had Haim’s album in my car for a very long time as well. It ended up on repeat in my car once again in the summer of 2016 shortly before I saw them perform for the first time at my first Lollapalooza. It’s definitely an album I’ve loved a lot this decade and the reason why I’ve loved Haim a lot too.

An Awesome Wave -alt-J (2012)

Compared to the rest of the albums on this list An Awesome Wave is a little bit different for me. I got it on vinyl years after I started listening to the music on it. I also listened to each song at different points. It all started with “Breezeblocks” though. Pretty Little Liars actress Troian Bellisario posted about the song on social media and after listening once, I downloaded the song. Then a day later it was “Something Good”. Then “Fitzpleasure”, “Taro”, and “Tessellate”, in that order, through the course of 5 years. In the meantime, their second album This is All Yours came out and “Left-Hand Free” became my jam too. When I saw them perform at Coachella in 2018, I was with several co-workers when we all danced freely to “Dissolve Me”. By that point their third album Relaxer was already out as well. I got into “Dissolve Me” though and decided last year that it was time to own An Awesome Wave. I then completed listening to the album by getting into “Matilda”, “Ms”, “Bloodflood”, and “Hand-Made”.

An Awesome Wave really spanned the decade for me, but so did alt-J. I saw them play about 5 times over the last 5 years and it’s always been an enjoyable set every time. Their unique sound has always been a catch for me and I’m sure they’ll be releasing new music in this new decade before we know it.

21 -Adele (2011)

Up until I got into Adele’s album, 21, I despised pop music. The song “Rolling in the Deep” was the one that really got me interested in Adele. It was on a sampler CD from my local record store. I bought the album around the same time I bought Torches and both albums became the soundtrack to one of my favorite vacations of all time. I listened to both albums repeatedly on that early June trip to Williamsburg, Virginia and my love for Adele began.

Of course I was into 25 when it came out in late 2015 and 19 somewhere around that time, but it was 21 that made me feel okay with liking a pop artist again. I also just really liked the album. “Rumour Has It”, “Set Fire to Rain”, “Someone Like You”, “I’ll Be Waiting”, and “One and Only” are pretty great songs even though “Rolling in the Deep” always has my heart. 21 does too. It came out of the blue uninvited, but it came to stay.

Heartthrob -Tegan and Sara (2013)

I got into Tegan and Sara while I was still in college in 2009, but their album Heartthrob really made me a fan. It was the album that put them into the mainstream music world for a bit. I didn’t get into the album until a year after its release in 2014. I fell hard for it though. It became the soundtrack of another trip to Williamsburg, Virginia. The hit song “Closer” was the one that suckered me in. I got into so many others though like “I Was A Fool”, “I’m Not Your Hero”, “Drove Me Wild”, “Now I’m All Messed Up” and “Goodbye, Goodbye”. Heartthrob revitalized my interest in Tegan and Sara and I’ve been a bigger fan ever since because of it.

Pure Heroine -Lorde (2013)

I was introduced to Lorde in the summer of 2013 from her breakout song “Royals”. From there I also got into the song “Tennis Court” and “Bravado”. I remember anticipating her debut album during my first trip to California especially because of the line in “Tennis Court” that goes “pretty soon I’ll be getting on my first plane.” That flight to California wasn’t my first flight, but it was my first flight in 9 years. I purchased the album as soon as I got home from Cali. It was my go-to album for a few weeks as I got into several other tracks on the record like “400 Lux”, “Team”, “White Teeth Teens”, “Glory and Gore”, and “A World Alone”.

Sacred Hearts Club -Foster the People (2017)

In the last 10 years Foster the People solidified their spot as my favorite band. I remember being so excited for their second album after Torches but Supermodel didn’t quite live up to my expectations. After their sophomore release, it was then a few years of silence before the group released new tunes. 2017 was one of the best years in music of this decade for me. It was filled with great albums by plenty of my favorite bands and artists, which included Sacred Hearts Club by Foster the People.

Foster the People dropped three songs from the record in the spring “Pay the Man”, “Doing it For the Money”, and “SHC” and I listened to those three quite frequently until the album came out in July. When it did, I immediately fell in love with the song “Sit Next to Me”. I listened to it non-stop along with the rest of the album and songs like “Lotus Eater”, “Static Space Lover”, “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy”, and “I Love My Friends”. It was only about 2 weeks after the album dropped that I was able to see Foster the People live again at Lollapalooza (the last time I saw them was in 2014). They were incredible. I then bought tickets to see them play in Philly in September as a treat to myself after my position was cut from a festival I was supposed to work. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to and was filled with 2 full hours of music from my favorite band including the best encore that I could have ever imagined. I caught the set list too! I owe that night to Foster the People and Sacred Hearts Club.

Wild World -Bastille (2016)

When Bastille’s sophomore album dropped, I got into Bastille. Sure I knew about Bastille before that. There were a few songs I liked from Bad Blood. Some might even argue saying Bastille’s Bad Blood really set the tone for the band, but for me it was the second album Wild World. “Good Grief” and “Send Them Off!” were always my go-to songs, but “The Currents”, “Power”, “Warmth”, and “Blame” were great songs as well. I listened to the album for weeks. Bastille recently released their third album this year. Even though the album is great, it still doesn’t do for me what Wild World did.

Ultraviolence -Lana Del Rey (2014)

Lana Del Rey’s second album was highly anticipated for me after my love of Born to Die. In between the albums, she also released the EP Paradise which was another incredible compilation of music. When Ultraviolence came out, it successfully did for me what Foster the People’s Supermodel couldn’t and since both Foster the People and Lana Del Rey were my faves I expected the best from them. Ultraviolence gave me that. “Money Power Glory”, “Brooklyn Baby”, “Ultraviolence”, “West Coast”, and “Fucked My Way Up To The Top” were my favorites. The album picked up where Born to Die left off and that’s all you can really ask from a band or artist.

Melodrama -Lorde (2017)

I always knew Foster the People and Lana Del Rey would be on this list more than once, but who knew I liked Lorde so much? Melodrama was also an incredible follow-up album to Pure Heroine. Like Sacred Hearts Club, it was part of that 2017 wave of new music. Lorde released the first single “Green Light” in early March. That song got me stoked for the new album because it was an absolute banger. Then she dropped “Liability”. I hated the song at first. It took hearing the song live on the last night of Coachella Weekend 2 to make me fall in love with it. The album released 2 months later and I remember being so pleased with how good it was. “Homemade Dynamite”, “Perfect Places”, “Sober”, and “Supercut” added to my love for “Green Light” and “Liability” made the album a hit. I wasn’t the only one that thought so either since it was nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year.

Woodstock -Portugal. The Man (2017)

Who would have thought Portugal. The Man would have made a statement with their 8th album? They did though and it was the hit “Feel It Still” that did it. The entirety of Woodstock is fantastic though. In fact, I feel like “Feel It Still” is the song that doesn’t quite fit with the album. The first time I heard the song I thought it was Electric Guest but was shocked to find out it was in fact Portugal. The Man, whose song “People Say” was one of my favorites when I was a radio DJ in college. “Live in the Moment”, “Tidal Wave”, “Number One”, and “Keep On” are a few other great jams from Woodstock. The album left an impression and I’m sure we’ll be feeling it still even when Portugal. The Man releases more music.

El Camino -The Black Keys (2012)

The Black Keys had plenty of albums before El Camino and those albums, particularly its pre-cursor Brothers, were big in the indie rock music scene. El Camino is the album that got me into The Black Keys though. I got the album in 2012 and saw the band perform live two years later. “Lonely Boy” was the song that got me started on The Black Keys, but El Camino was full of hits like “Gold on the Ceiling”, “Little Black Submarine”, “Stop Stop” and “Dead and Gone”. I learned how to play a few of those on guitar too. The Black Keys haven’t stopped making music in the last decade and have released two albums since El Camino, the most recent being this year, but El Camino will always be special to me.

Heard It In A Past Life -Maggie Rogers (2019)

Last winter I debated buying this album on vinyl while I was listening to Maggie Rogers as part of my Coachella preparations. Ultimately I decided with the help of my instagram followers that I should buy the vinyl. I did and it was a great purchase. The debut album from Maggie Rogers is a thing of beauty. “Light On”, “Fallingwater”, “Give a Little”, “Alaska”, and “Burning” are incredible. Oh and there’s also “Back in My Body”, but I’ll get more into that song when I recap this past year. The album was one of my favorites of the last year and I was pretty shocked when it didn’t get a Grammy nomination. The album is still tops in my book and one of my favorites of the last decade.

This Is Happening -LCD Soundsystem (2010)

When I think about it, there’s only three words that can describe This Is Happening: “Dance Yrself Clean”. It was the song that got me into LCD Soundsystem a year after the “final” show at Madison Square Garden thanks to Suits actor Patrick J. Adams and Troian Bellisario (yes, again!). Over the years I got into LCD Soundsystem and their small-ish, but excellent discography. I never thought I’d be able to see the band until right before Christmas in 2015 when the band dropped a Christmas song, “Christmas Will Break Your Heart” (which I’ve actually listened to twice today) which sort of signified their return. A few weeks later they were on the Coachella lineup and officially back. They dropped a new album American Dream in 2017 and I was able to see them twice once they returned, at Lollapalooza in 2016 and at my favorite venue in Philly in 2017 with a friend who was actually at their “last” show.

Oddly enough, I don’t own This Is Happening in any form. It kind of doesn’t fit this list in that regard, except it’s kind of like An Awesome Wave. I’ve listened to all the songs on this album at different points over the last decade. “Drunk Girls” is one of my favorite LCD Soundsystem songs. “You Wanted A Hit” was the song I got into after seeing them play for the first time. Then there’s “I Can Change”, “Home” and “All I Want”, which I actually just got into recently. Over the last 10 years, LCD Soundsystem earned a special place in my heart, but I sort of owe that to This Is Happening.

Honorable Mentions:

The 1975 -The 1975 (2013)

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful -Florence + the Machine (2015)

AM -Arctic Monkeys (2013)

Without Fear -Dermot Kennedy (2019)

So there you have it. All my favorite albums from the last 10 years. Actually, there’s probably more, but these are the ones that stood out the most. Thanks to music for all that I love and thanks to these great bands and artists for putting amazing tunes into the world. I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years brings or where music will take me both personally and professionally. I can only hope for the best, but so far it’s been nothing short of incredible.

CHAMPION: Album Review

A few weeks ago Bishop Briggs released her sophomore album CHAMPION. Her debut came out about a year and a half ago and in that time Briggs has been touring while simultaneously working on new music. Bishop Briggs released the bonus track “Hold On” in 2018 as well as the single “Baby”. Neither made the cut for the new album. In the weeks leading up to the release, Briggs released several new songs featured on the album. One of those singles was the title track “CHAMPION” which has since reached the number 22 position on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart.

CHAMPION picks up right where Church of Scars left off. It’s filled with more soulful alternative/indie rock jams. It’s a great follow up, especially with sure hits like CHAMPION, the break up anthem “TATTOOED ON MY HEART”, and “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?”. If anything I think this album differs only slightly stylistically due to the less predominant bass in the tracks. Even with that slight difference, the bass is still there, just a bit less than in Bishop Briggs’ debut.

This album is definitely worthy of a listen for alternative/indie music fans, especially those who love Bishop Briggs and her powerhouse vocals. Bishop Briggs has yet to announce any 2020 tour dates but is currently finishing up this year touring in Europe. I suspect she’ll be going strong into the new year with more shows and festivals after this new release late in 2019. Keep an eye out for her and her tunes in the new year because she’s bound to be on the 2020 concert/festival radar.

Generationals

In 2011, as you might know, I got into the indie music scene. Foster the People was the first band to really transition me away from emo, punk, and pop punk. Another band I got into around that time was Generationals. I discovered the song “Trust” through the television show Pretty Little Liars. At the time the show was in its first season and used plenty of indie music as background. To this day I still listen to Generationals from time to time and I figured it was about time I wrote about this low-key indie duo.

Generationals are an indie pop/new wave group from New Orleans, Louisiana. The group consists of Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer. The duo formed Generationals when their former band The Eames Era, famed for having a song on the Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack, broke up. Joyner and Widmer named the group Generationals after the issues in the 2008 presidential election being referred to as a “generational issues” by CNN, which they frequently watched while recording.

The group released their debut album Con Law in 2009 to mostly favorable reviews. Their first EP Trust was released over a year later in November 2010 followed by their second album Actor-Caster in March 2011. The group toured in support of bands like Broken Social Scene and Two Door Cinema Club during that time. Their music was also featured in many forms of entertainment like commercials, movies, and television shows.

Since their early days Generationals have routinely released music with the albums Heza (2013), Alix (2014), State Dogs: Singles 2017-18 (2018), and most recently Reader as Detective which was released this past July.  I’ve followed the group with songs here and there over the years. Most recently though I’ve fallen in love with the song “Gatekeeper” from their latest record and it has made me want to listen to them more like I used to back in my early days of discovering indie music.

Their sound hasn’t strayed much over the last 10 years. They’ve consistently released music that fits perfectly in the indie pop genre. They have a similar sound to bands like The Kooks or Peter, Bjorn, and John. Although they might not have as much indie scene cred as those two acts, they definitely fit their genre just as well.

If you’re into that late 2000’s-early 2010’s indie scene, Generationals are a great group to listen to. In fact, they’re just a great group to listen to regardless. They’ve been in my music rotation for long enough and there was a point I listed them as one of my top 5 favorite bands. So just listen to them. They’re timeless and pretty great. They’re generational(s)!

 

 

Hey I’m Just Like You: Album Review

A few weeks ago Tegan and Sara released their ninth studio album. The Canadian duo has been making music since the early 2000’s, but this album is a bit more special than the others they released prior. The album coincides with the debut of their memoir High School. The book is about their musical beginnings, growing up, and attending high school in the 90’s. While working on the book, the twins found a bunch of cassettes with early recordings of songs they wrote during that time and decided to re-work and re-record the songs. From there, Hey I’m Just Like You was born.

The new album pays homage to their rock and punk rock roots while still incorporating the pop sound they’ve grown into over the years. The best example of this is the track “I’ll Be Back Someday”, which was one of the first songs from the album that Tegan and Sara released. The song has a very clear and distinct punk influence. The lyrics reference themes of their adolescence like drug use, relationships, friendship, love, and self-reflection. Hey I’m Just Like You is also the first Tegan and Sara album recorded by an all female team.

Tegan and Sara are currently on tour in support of the album and book. Many of the tour dates are sold out. Fortunately, I’ll be attending one of their shows next week. I already picked up a copy of the book before I left to work Austin City Limits. Then I bought the album while visiting Waterloo Records on one of my off days in Austin. It’s safe to say I’ve been prepping for the last 2 1/2 weeks, but I love a good Tegan and Sara show. I highly recommend the album if you’re a Tegan and Sara fan. This one is definitely unique and yet at the same time I think you’ll be satisfied because you’re still getting what we all know and love from Tegan and Sara.

Feed the Rhythm Inside

Right before the new year I was involved with an event in Philly called HiJinx. The night before working my role for the small festival I stayed at my friend Noah’s house. We hung out with his friend Lou, had a few drinks, and played a dice game called Yamslam. He put on some background tunes while we chilled and then suddenly I heard a song that really caught my interest. It had an upbeat electronic pop sound. It made me want to get up and dance or crush a work out right there. I asked Noah who it was and he goes, “Client Liaison!” I never heard of the band. Flash forward 8 months later and now I’m a Client Liaison fan as well.

Client Liaison is an Australian indie pop duo. The group is comprised of Monte Morgan and Harvey Miller, who attended Grammar school together in Melbourne, Australia. Along with their tunes, the duo is well-known for their high quality music videos. Their first was for their first single “End of the Earth.” The song and video was released in 2012. It wasn’t until 2014 that Client Liaison released a debut eponymous EP. They began touring around the same time in support of Miami Horror and later joined Flight Facilities on tour. They began playing some Australian summer festivals in 2015 and 2016, but also made their U.S. festival debut at Firefly in 2015.

The band released their debut album Diplomatic Immunity in November of 2016. The music video for the track “A Foreign Affair” earned Client Liaison a J Award in 2017 for Australian Music Video of the Year. The band has yet to break into success in other parts of the world like the U.S. and Europe, but I feel like it’s only a matter of time before they do. Since their debut album, the band has released the singles “Survival in the City” in May 2018 and “The Real Thing”, which debuted 3 weeks ago. They will soon be releasing their second album and already have a fall tour in their homeland of Australia planned.

Client Liaison’s sound combines indie pop and electronic music. It has a very 80’s/early 90’s feel as well. That style is replicated through the band’s appearance and music videos. The song that hooked me on the group was “Feed the Rhythm” off their self-titled EP. Most of their tracks have an upbeat groove similar to that song.

Unfortunately I’m not sure if or when I’ll have the opportunity to see Client Liaison perform because their music has yet to take off in the U.S. I keep hoping they’ll either tour here or gain a few more fans in the States that really up their U.S. cred. For now, I’ll just keep listening and trying to spread the word about this duo from down under. So check these guys out! “Turn up the treble to the level and the speakers to the sky”, they’ll keep feeding the rhythm and they’re definitely full of good indie pop vibes.

Doom Days: Album Review

Since Bastille released their sophomore album in September 2016, they’ve still been very much active in the touring and music world. They toured through 2017 and released new music in 2018 including the chart topping hit “Happier” in collaboration with EDM DJ Marshmello. It all lead up to the release of their third album Doom Days on June 14th.

Bastille’s new album is another indie pop/rock masterpiece from the British band. I feel like every Bastille album is just a continuation of the prior. Their tracks have catchy hooks that seem to stick in your head well beyond the 3-4 minutes you spend listening to a song. The consistency of their sound and vibe is a thing of beauty. I think part of the reason for that is Dan Smith’s smooth, hypnotizing vocals. Their sound also dives a little bit deeper into electronic music this time around. “Another Place” has a tropical house feel to it. “Million Pieces” also bridges that gap into electronic music. Lyrically the new record feels like it’s about getting through tough times. Songs like “Quarter Past Midnight”, “Joy”, and “Those Nights” are perfect examples of that theme. 

Bastille will be embarking on a fall tour in support of the album across the U.S. and Canada. They also have announced dates across the U.K. and in Australia. I’ve already picked up a copy of the new record and have planned to try to catch them on this tour. Bastille has put out consistently good records since their debut in 2013. They also put on a great live show. Definitely listen to this new record whether you’re a fan or casual listener because it’s another good one. You’ll probably fall into it just like I did and just like “The Waves”, you may even “get carried away.”

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.