indie rock music

First the Window, Then It’s to the Wall

Last week I worked my third Lollapalooza in the box office/ticketing department, but for the first time, I managed my own ticket help. Lolla was where I started working in ticketing 2 years ago so it felt like a full circle moment being able to work Lolla in a higher position. Another full circle moment happened on Saturday night when I was able to see Vampire Weekend. I found out about the band in 2008 way before I was even into the indie rock scene. A friend of mine in my Music 101 class in college told me about them. He was also the first person to tell me about Lollapalooza so being able to say the first time I saw Vampire Weekend was at Lollapalooza is super cool and special to me. All that aside, much like Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend is back from their 5 year hiatus and will be releasing a new album soon!

Vampire Weekend was formed when founding members Ezra Koenig (vocals, guitar), Chris Tomson (drums), Chris Baio (bass, backing vocals), and Rostam Batmanglij (keyboard) were in college at Columbia University. Their name comes from a summer project of Koenig’s inspired by the 1980 film The Lost Boys. With the project, he decided to create basically the Northeastern version of the film. The project also inspired the song “Walcott” as well even though he abandoned it after working on the short film for only a few days. The band started playing shows around 2006 by performing at battle of the bands around Columbia. Then in 2007 they opened for The Shins on their UK tour. They self-produced their self-titled debut album while simultaneously working full time jobs. The album was released on January 29, 2008. It peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart and number 15 on the UK Albums Chart.

Vampire Weekend’s second album Contra was released just short of 2 years later. It debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200. The band also began a large festival circuit in 2010 making stops at Coachella, Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, and Glastonbury. They had played their first Lollapalooza the previous summer. They also toured in support of the album in 2010. Contra was nominated for a Grammy for Best Alternative Album, but did not win.

Their most recent album to date Modern Vampires of the City was released in May 2013 after much talk of its release in 2011 and 2012. Like Contra, it debuted at number 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums Chart making them the first indie rock band to accomplish this feat with two consecutive albums. The album won Vampire Weekend a Grammy for Best Alternative Album in 2014.

In 2016, Rostam Batmanglij announced his leave from Vampire Weekend via Twitter, but also noted that he would still continue to collaborate with Ezra Koenig. Koenig confirmed this by saying the band was working on a new album with help from Batmanglij. At Lollapalooza last week, the band announced that the 4th album was complete after playing a set list of all old hits including the song “A-Punk” three times in a row to open the set (…and I missed it!).

Vampire Weekend is a pretty standard indie rock band. Their sound is a mixture of indie rock, indie pop, baroque pop, afro-pop, and art pop. Most of their hits have an upbeat, joyfulness to their sound. You can’t help but want to dance to their tracks like “A-Punk”, “Unbelievers”, or “Diane Young”.

As I said, I found out about Vampire Weekend 10 years ago. I kept up with them by periodically adding songs to my iTunes as new releases would come out. I never saw them live though, until last week. They were on my “must-see” list for a while. Since seeing them last week, I haven’t been able to stop listening to them. It was like Lollapalooza revitalized Vampire Weekend for me. It did the same thing for me last year with The Killers. I guess that’s another reason why I like Lollapalooza so much.

If you haven’t been listening to Vampire Weekend for the last 10 years or started somewhere in between there, here’s my call for you to listen to them asap. An album release date for their fourth full length has yet to be announced, but it’s coming soon! I’m sure I’ll probably review it once it’s out, but until then there’s tons of jams to help you wait it out. I swear. Like Lil Jon, I always tell the truth.

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Tranquility Base Hotel: Album Review

It took almost 5 years for Arctic Monkeys to release a new album. They went on hiatus after supporting AM, which is arguably their best album to date. 2018 is the return of the British indie rock band though. On May 11th, they released their 6th album Tranquility Base Hotel. The album title has never been truer though because tranquil is definitely a word to describe this record.

It has a different sound than many of their prior records. Arctic Monkeys have been labeled as a quinessential modern indie rock band. This record strays from the pure rock sound they’ve been known for. It’s more melodic and vibe-y.  Aside from Alex Turner’s crooning vocals, it doesn’t sound like an Arctic Monkeys record. I’ve been listening to the band Magic City Hippies and it reminds me of them a lot. It’s missing that edge and uptempo sound. It’s the kind of thing you’d listen to on a rainy afternoon.

After anticipating this album for at least a year and a half, I was disappointed. I got stoked on the Monkeys for a little while there in 2016 after being a casual fan since AM‘s release. I was waiting to hear some brand new bangers from the boys from Sheffield, but instead I got music that could probably put me to sleep. Maybe I’m just being picky and this record will take time to get used to, but I needed another “Do I Wanna Know?”, “Snap Out of It” or “Fluorescent Adolescent.”

Despite my disappointment in the new record, I’m still stoked that Arctic Monkeys are now touring again. I plan on working a show of theirs in July and sticking around to see their set. I’m definitely stoked for it and need to binge on their old records. I guess I have to listen to their new one too. After hearing the album, I decided not to purchase it. I was disappointed. I need to let it grow on me before I revisit the buying option. That’s what happens sometimes though. Sometimes an album isn’t what you expect or what you want to hear, but that’s what makes the good ones even better!

Church of Scars: Album Review

It’s been close to 2 months since I last posted, so let me update you on what’s been going on.

 I planned to post after I returned from Coachella, but honestly I had 2 1/2 weeks before I left to go to Las Vegas for EDC and I got busy. I worked. I traveled to NYC and Washington, D.C. Then, I prepped for one of the biggest music festivals in the country (EDC Las Vegas) and for being away for another week and a half.

EDC was a roller coaster. It’s a chaotic mess of a festival and nothing compared to the glory that is Coachella. Our ticketing team had great moments and terrible ones. I’ve never seen my best friend feel so stressed at times. On a personal level, I made things happen, had some amazing times, and a lot of laughs, but there were other moments that made me feel unwanted, unnecessary and useless. It truly was a roller coaster. After I returned, the aftermath of EDC spilled over and this blog got pushed to the back burner. 

I leave for another festival in 2 weeks, so again there’s gonna be more posting delays. I’m trying to catch up on what I missed posting since Coachella though, which are a lot of new album reviews. Sure the 2018 hype isn’t as high as it was last year for me when it comes to new music, but a lot that I like has been released in the past 2 months.

One of those is the debut album from Bishop Briggs, Church of Scars. Church of Scars was released on April 20th. I was still at Coachella. I didn’t even go out to buy it until 2 weeks after I returned. When I first discovered Bishop Briggs last year, I was excited to know that she hadn’t released a full length album yet. It felt like I could still be part of the anticipation for that. Plus, I knew after the music high of 2017, it was something I could look forward to this year. 

Three tracks from the debut album were also part of her self-titled EP, which was released in full in April 2017. Two other tracks “Dream” and “White Flag” were released in the build up to the album release date. Fans (me included) were already familiar with half of the album upon its release because of that. The other tracks follow suit to her dark, soulful, indie/alternative pop/rock style and provide you with more of what you already love from Bishop Briggs.

Out of the completely new songs, I really enjoy “Tempt My Trouble”. It’s a jam for sure. The other previously unreleased tracks are a little slower and a lot more soulful, but they’re still everything you’d hope for from her full length debut. 

Although Bishop Briggs played a number of festivals I worked at last year and I even saw part of her set at one of them without really knowing her music, I feel like I’ve never really seen her perform because I wasn’t paying attention to her before last fall. I’ll be working Electric Forest for the last 2 1/2 weeks of June and she’ll be performing both weekends. It’s safe to say that if there’s one performance I’d like to see at Forest, it’s hers. 

I highly recommend picking up her debut or at least listening to it. She’s an artist you don’t want to miss out on because her music is fantastic and she can kill it on vocals. If you’re a fan, I’m sure you already have or you’ve at least listened to it on Spotify. You still have time to hop on her fan train though because Bishop Briggs’ music career is just getting started.

Coachella Band Preview: the Neighbourhood, alt-J, BØRNS, Odesza, & Hayley Kiyoko

It’s only been 2 days since my last post, but that’s okay. This week I’ve decided to do two blog posts because there’s still a ton of bands to talk about and not much time left. So let’s talk about five bands who I’ve written about before that are playing the festival this year. Two of them are actually 3 of my top 4 must-see sets of Coachella 2018.

A lot of time has passed since I wrote about the Neighbourhood in the fall of 2015. Since then, there hasn’t been much news surrounding the band until late last year. In September they released their first new music since 2015’s Wiped Out!, the EP Hard. Then in early January the band dropped a second EP To Imagine followed by the release of their third album, The Neighbourhood, on March 9th. With a bunch of new music out, playing Coachella for the first time in 5 years seems fitting. They play on Friday. I’ve never seen them live and I’ve been obsessed with “Sweater Weather” since 2013. It was probably my favorite song of that year. There’s no doubt I’d love to check them out if I had the time making them 1 of the 3 bands on this list that are must-sees for me. If you plan on checking them out, here’s a few songs to get you ready:

  1. Sweater Weather
  2. Afraid
  3. Daddy Issues
  4. Scary Love
  5. Sadderdaze
  6. R.I.P to My Youth
  7. Cry Baby
  8. You Get Me So High
  9. Stuck With Me
  10. Let It Go

alt-J are no strangers to Coachella. They’ve played twice but haven’t been back to the Indio desert since 2015. Since their last Coachella, alt-J has released a new album. It came out last June. I reviewed it here. I’ve also written about alt-J two other times on this blog. Once previewing them for Coachella in 2015, where I saw them live for the first time and another time reviewing a concert I saw them play in Philly in September 2015. I really like alt-J and I love how different their music sounds from other stuff I like. They played Panorama last summer and I was able to catch part of their set. If it wasn’t for my work schedule and several other concerts I already spent money on in the fall, I would have seen them play again. They’re a band that I would rarely turn down if I had the opportunity to see, making them another one of my top choice sets for Coachella 2018 along with Haim and the Neighbourhood. They play Saturday and probably at night on either the Main or Outdoor stage. What would be the biggest heartbreak is if they overlapped with Haim. Here’s my recommendations for you if you decide to follow my lead and check them out:

  1. Left Hand Free
  2. Breezeblocks
  3. In Cold Blood
  4. Every Other Freckle
  5. 3WW
  6. Tessellate
  7. Fitzpleasure
  8. Deadcrush
  9. Something Good
  10. Hunger of the Pine

BØRNS is back at Coachella after a year break from the famous Southern California music festival. He just released his second album, Blue Madonna, back in January. The album features a collaboration with Lana Del Rey as well as plenty of new music from the “Electric Love” writer. I saw BØRNS play live in 2016. It was kind of a last-minute decision since my friend and I bought tickets about a week before the performance. It was a fun set, so I’d definitely want to see him perform again if I had the chance. He plays on Saturday as well. I would guess BØRNS would be a late afternoon-early evening set, but we’ll see what happens. These are the songs you need to prep for his set:

  1. Electric Love
  2. Seeing Stars
  3. 10,000 Emerald Pools
  4. God Save Our Young Blood
  5. Sweet Dreams
  6. American Money
  7. Past Lives
  8. I Don’t Want U Back
  9. Faded Heart
  10. The Emotion

I only got into Odesza about 6 months ago because of planning to see them in NYC with my friend, but getting into them definitely wasn’t a waste of my time. The concert we went to in December was incredible so I have no doubt that their Coachella set predictably on Sunday night at the now larger Sahara Tent will be just as good and a large draw amongst festival-goers. I would guess they headline the Sahara and overlap with Eminem as the overall headliner Sunday evening. Initially, I believed Odesza would be my Sunday night choice no question, but the inner early 2000’s middle-schooler in me has been fighting hard. Odesza will no doubt put on an incredible live performance, but I just saw Odesza. I’ve never seen Eminem nor do I think I’d ever buy tickets or choose to see Eminem, but I used to be a fan at one point. It’s definitely up for debate. What would be ideal is to be able to catch parts of both sets. However if you so choose to skip out on the Real Slim Shady, here’s a few Odesza tracks you should hear:

  1. Sun Models
  2. Higher Ground
  3. Across the Room
  4. Say My Name
  5. Falls
  6. Line of Sight
  7. A Moment Apart
  8. All We Need
  9. It’s Only
  10. Late Night

The artist I’m most excited for who is playing Coachella this year is Hayley Kiyoko. From seeing her a little over a year ago play a tiny venue in Philly that wasn’t even sold out to playing the most well-known U.S. music festival, my stoke level couldn’t be higher for Hayley Kiyoko. Her debut album, Expectations, came out today! Until this point, she’s only released EP’s, but those have gained a huge appreciation from her small, dedicated fan base. The new album builds on Kiyoko’s previous hits with bangers like “Curious” and “Feelings”. It’s got a mystical, feel good sound giving true meaning to Kiyoko’s dreampop style. As an openly gay singer, the theme in her music involves being in love with girls and complications that may arise with being gay and falling for girls. This new album is consistent with Hayley’s style that her fans have grown to love over the past few years. (I just had to give you a mini-album review here too.) She plays on Sunday at Coachella. I will definitely try my hardest to catch her set one of the weekends making her the 4th and final must-see for me. My guess would be an early Sunday afternoon set, but you never know. She may play later in the day at Gobi or Mojave. We’re a little over a week from the schedule release and probably a few days from the food vendor list, then the official planning can begin. In the mean time, check out Expectations along with these other songs:

  1. Girls Like Girls
  2. Cliff’s Edge
  3. Gravel to Tempo
  4. Palace
  5. This Side of Paradise

(On Expectations, pay special attention to “Curious”, “Feelings”, “Sleepover”, “Let It Be”, and “What I Need (ft. Kehlani)”)

 

Coachella Band Preview: Haim

2 weeks to go! Anticipation is building. Fashion is being planned. The Sahara Tent is even being moved (Yes! You can check out this article to hear about the new location.) Most importantly though, music is being listened to. I was about to do my blog post of bands I’ve already blogged about when I had a realization. I’ve never actually written a whole post about Haim. I thought I had because I reviewed their album over the summer. I was mistaken, which means it’s time to finally do that.

Haim, a Los Angeles based band comprised of sisters Este, Danielle, and Alana all with the last name Haim, decided to form a band in 2007. Growing up they were encouraged by their parents to play music. Danielle played guitar and Este played bass. They even joined their parents as a band to play benefits and church gigs while growing up. Danielle and Este also were part of the band Valli Girls, who were featured on the soundtrack to The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants with their song “Always There in You”.

When Haim initially formed, each sister was involved in their own projects. They stuck to playing local shows because of it and didn’t receive much attention in their early days. Este went to UCLA and graduated in 2010 with a degree in Ethnomusicology. Danielle was noticed by musician Jenny Lewis, formerly of the indie rock band Rilo Kiley, and was asked to join her touring band. That lead to touring opportunities with The Strokes’ lead singer, Julian Casablancas on his solo tour. She even joined CeeLo Green’s all female backing band for a short time, but ultimately decided she’d rather make music with her sisters.

After playing SXSW and releasing their debut EP Forever in 2012, the group started receiving attention from the music industry. They signed with UK label Polydor Records in June 2012 and from there began making some noise in the industry, in Europe in particular. They toured there that year both on their own and opening for Florence and the Machine. They then returned to SXSW in 2013 as a more experienced and slightly better known act.

2013 was spent working on their first album in between live shows. The sisters played Glastonbury that summer and released the first single, “The Wire”, from their album on July 29th. The album, Days Are Gone, was released on September 30, 2013. The album has since received accolades from media oulets Pitchfork, NME, Consequence of Sound, Spin, and Rolling Stone, among others.

Haim spent the spring of 2014 touring the U.S. As part of that tour, the band made their first Coachella appearance. The end of 2014 featured a few collaborative projects with Fleetwood Mac lead singer Stevie Nicks and Calvin Harris, but until last summer Haim had yet to release new tunes themselves aside from contributions to movie soundtracks from Insurgent of the Divergent series and Mockingjay – Part 1 of the Hunger Games trilogy. They joined their friend Taylor Swift on her 1989 World Tour in the summer of 2015 for a few dates and also received a Grammy nomination that year for Best New Artist. The band spent 2016 hyping upcoming new music by playing a few festivals including Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Governors’ Ball, Boston Calling, and Austin City Limits. Then finally last summer on July 7th Haim released their second studio album, Something To Tell You, which I reviewed shortly after its release.

Since finding out about Haim in early 2014, I’ve always thought their music sounds like late 80’s/early 90’s pop rock. Surely enough, they’re considered a pop/indie rock band. All three sisters harmonize in their songs and are proficient in more than one musical instrument, but for live shows sake, you’ll see Este on bass, Danielle on lead guitar and lead vocals, and Alana on rhythm guitar, keyboards, and percussion. Their sound has been compared to Fleetwood Mac. Although I can’t think of a specific band to compare them to I still feel like their sound replicates bands of the 80’s & 90’s. One song that comes to mind that reminds me of Haim is the 1986 hit by Bruce Hornsby “Every Little Kiss”. There are definitely others too so if you can think of any specific songs or bands let me know!

For about 2 years since I discovered them, I desperately wanted to see Haim live. My desire began after I saw them perform on the Coachella 2014 live stream. I actually debated seeing them perform a few weeks after that, but ultimately passed on it because of having a few other conflicting travel obligations. Fortunately, I was able to work Lollapalooza in 2016 and caught them performing there. They were incredible live. Although they’re not a jam band, they do like to jam onstage and add special musical aspects to their live performances. For instance at Lolla, all three sisters played different rhythms on a giant drum at the same time right before their set ended. It was super cool. Their musical ability shines through in their live performances making them one of my top must-see artists this year at Coachella. They’re also one of my favorite bands, which puts them to the top of my list too.

Haim plays Saturday at Coachella. I’d expect a late day set on the Main or Outdoor stage from them, particularly as the sun sets or maybe even as the darkness encompasses the polo fields. If I’m able to, I definitely plan on seeing them, but if I can’t I won’t be that disappointed either because I have tickets to see them this spring. They’re embarking on a world tour that I couldn’t pass up on. If you want to see Haim, which I highly recommend you should, here’s the songs you need to listen to:

  1. The Wire
  2. Don’t Save Me
  3. Want You Back
  4. Little Of Your Love
  5. Falling
  6. My Song 5
  7. Forever
  8. Right Now
  9. Nothing’s Wrong
  10. Ready For You

Coachella Band Preview: Declan McKenna

Another week down and three more to go! Anticipation is building at a strong pace for me right now, as I’m sure it is for many others. The Coachella Valley is soon to become a mecca for festival-goers as it has almost annually since 1999. That means your time to prep by listening to this year’s acts is rapidly decreasing. So without further adieu, this week I’m previewing an artist who came on to the scene around 2015.

Declan McKenna is a British musician/singer/songwriter. At just 19, the young artist will be playing his first Coachella this spring after dropping out of last year’s festival, but he’s not new to the festival scene. He has gained plenty of recognition in the UK since winning Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Competition in 2015.  Along with Glastonbury, he has played Lollapalooza and Reading and Leeds Festivals among others.

After winning the talent competition in 2015, McKenna signed a record deal with Columbia records and released singles until the release of his debut EP Stains in March 2016. His second EP Liar was released two months later. His debut album What Do You Think About the Car? was released this past July. Each of his releases include his hit single “Brazil”, which he wrote as a political protest song about FIFA (soccer/football’s governing body) and the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. All three releases also included his song “Paracetomal”.

Declan McKenna plays indie rock music. As a young developing and emerging artist, his sound is still growing though, so you might hear other styles of music in his songs too. To me, his sound is comparable to another British indie rock band, The Kooks.

I first heard of Declan McKenna from Spotify. I found his song Brazil on a playlist in 2016. When the lineup dropped this year, I recognized him from that song. Since then though, I’ve listened to some of his other stuff. I enjoy his music. He’s got some solid tunes. Although he’s been around for a couple years now, he freshly released his debut album less than a year ago and he’s been highly praised as being the next big thing on the British music scene. So he’s definitely worth checking out this year at the festival.

Declan McKenna plays on Saturday this year. Saturday’s lineup is pretty stacked in my opinion, so I’d expect McKenna to play an early to mid afternoon time slot. Another reason to expect him to play then is that he’s also not billed very highly on the lineup poster. Of course it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be able to plan out who you’ll be seeing at Coachella, I highly recommend checking out this kid. Here’s a few songs you might want to know beforehand:

  1. Brazil
  2. Paracetomal
  3. Isombard
  4. Bethlehem
  5. Why Do You Feel So Down?
  6. The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home

 

 

 

Coachella Band Preview: St. Vincent

February is finally almost over. It seems like winter tends to drag on because life moves slower. It does for me at least. There are less shows, barely any festivals, and the snow sucks. Thankfully, Coachella and the rest of festival season is inching closer and closer. This week to prep for the Coachella Valley’s finest I’m previewing an artist who goes by the name of St. Vincent.

Anne “Annie” Erin Clark, better known to the world as St. Vincent, began her music career as a member of the choral rock band the Polyphonic Spree, after attending the Berklee College of Music for 3 years. Before starting her own group in 2006, she was a member of Sufjan Stevens touring band too. During her childhood, Clark began playing guitar at the age of 12 and was a roadie for her aunt and uncle, jazz duo Tuck & Patti. She got her stage name of St. Vincent from a lyric in Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ song “There She Goes, My Beautiful World”.

In 2007, St. Vincent released her debut album Marry Me. After extensive touring for the album over that year, Clark began her second album in 2008. The album, Actor, was then released on May 5, 2009. It was more well received than her debut as it peaked at 90 on the Billboard 200 Chart as well as 9 on the Independent Albums Chart and 5 on the Tastemaker Albums Chart.

Strange Mercy, St. Vincent’s third album, was released on September 13, 2011 receiving tons of critical acclaim and peaking at 19 on the Billboard 200. Clark toured worldwide through 2012 then it was back to the studio to work on her next album. In 2012 she also released a collaborative album with with former Talking Heads lead guitarist and vocalist and fellow Coachella 2018 performer David Byrne.

Her fourth album, St. Vincent, was released in February of 2014. A few months prior she announced a world tour in 2014 and released two singles in anticipation of the self-titled album. Again the album was well received and ranked highly in multiple publications. The album earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album which she subsequently won. Her touring for the album continued into 2015.

Her most recent album to date, Masseduction, was released on October 13, 2017. It was Clark’s first album to peak in the top 10 of Billboard’s 200 Chart upon release. It reached the 10 spot. It also sold close to 30,000 copies in the first week of its release with 25,000 of those being traditional album sales.

St. Vincent has a very unique music style. You may classify it as indie rock, but the sound often uses complex arrangements and an array of instruments. Sometimes it sounds pretty wild and almost like music in the background of a horror movie. It’s music in a true artistic form and complemented by lyrics that often diverge into madness. Clark’s voice is that of a former choir girl and adds beauty to the mixture of sound.

I first heard of St. Vincent while reading one of the Pretty Little Liars novels. In the book, it mentioned one of the girls on a drive listening to St. Vincent’s “Actor Out of Work” and singing it at the top of her lungs. I decided to listen to the song after reading that part of the book since I had never listened to St. Vincent before then. I really liked it and decided to download it. Since then I had only downloaded “Digital Witness” after hearing it in 2014. I never really got into Clark’s music as a whole, but for some reason, I began listening to the singles released for her most recent album “New York” and “Los Ageless” over the summer. At the end of November, I worked one of her shows on her “Fear the Future” Tour. I was also able to listen in on some of her VIP  Q & A and stay for most of the show after I finished work. I always appreciate a Q & A because I feel like you get to learn a bit about band or artist. This was no exception. I developed an appreciation for St. Vincent and Annie Clark. Not to mention, I had recently purchased Masseduction. The show was overcrowded though. I couldn’t see much from where I was standing and I ended up leaving a little over halfway through to make it home. I did enjoy it though and would love to see her again if I had the opportunity.

Coachella would be the perfect opportunity if I was attending this year. She would definitely be on my must-see list for Friday. She’s listed as a highly billed act this year so I would expect a late afternoon-evening set. If you’ve never seen her or listened to her music before, it’s pretty artistic. I think that element alone can make people curious to hear her and/or see her live. She also has plenty of visuals during her performance that add to the artistic nature of her music. To get you prepped for her third Coachella performance here’s a few staples you should check out:

  1. Digital Witness
  2. Cruel
  3. New York
  4. Masseduction
  5. Actor Out of Work
  6. Marry Me
  7. Cheerleader
  8. Birth in Reverse
  9. Los Ageless
  10. Surgeon

 

Coachella Band Preview: Sir Sly

I don’t know about you, but winter is really getting to me. I’m sick of the snow, the ice, and the freezing cold. April needs to get here stat. Thankfully we’ve reached the 2 month Coachella countdown this week. That means it’s time to crank up the jams on another band playing the festival this year, Sir Sly.

Los Angeles based indie pop band Sir Sly formed in 2012. At one point no one knew anything about them when they reached number one on Hype Machine, a website music database that ranks the latest and greatest tunes from music blogs. They came out of nowhere with their debut single, “Ghost.” Shortly after, they revealed themselves. The group is comprised of Landon Jacobs, Jason Suwito, and Hayden Coplen. Their first album, You Haunt Me, was released in September 2014. A few songs from the album were featured in video games and ads, giving their music some exposure.

After the release and touring from their debut ceased, life happened for guitarist and vocalist, Landon Jacobs. He went through a divorce and his mother passed away from brain cancer. It inspired Sir Sly’s second album, Don’t You Worry, Honey, which was released on June 30, 2017. The music on the album doesn’t sound devastating though. The album is about being able to experience joy through pain. The lyrics focus on some serious stuff while the fun-sounding music makes it bearable. One of the most successful songs from the album, “High”, was featured on the soundtrack to Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why.

Sir Sly is described as an indie pop/rock band, but their music also has influence from other genres like electronic and psychedelic music. They kind of sound like Tame Impala meets Local Natives meets The Neighbourhood. Their music isn’t extremely upbeat, but very vibe-y and super chill.

I first heard of Sir Sly over the summer. My friend got into them and told me about the group because she liked their name. She thought it was a pun on the word “seriously”. The group actually came up with the name because it sounded cool and they didn’t want to take themselves too seriously. Kind of ironic eh? I listened to whatever song she sent me at the time and thought they sounded pretty good. I then realized that they were on the 13 Reasons Why soundtrack, which I had watched in June. I definitely liked the song “High.” Since then I feel like I’ve seen this band pop up more and more. They were booked for a summer concert around where I live that never ended up happening and their music constantly appears on Spotify playlists. Since my introduction to them, I’ve been slowly getting into their music because of this. Every once in a while I’ll get into a new Sir Sly song, but not several songs at once. It’s a slow process. Sometimes listening to music happens that way, but before you know it you realize you know almost all of a band or artist’s songs.

Sir Sly plays on Saturday at Coachella. They’re not billed very highly so I’d expect them to play in the early to late afternoon hours. They’re definitely a group to check out if you’re at the festival then and don’t have any one else you need to see. I would most certainly check them out if I was going and available, even though at this point I know about 3 or 4 of their songs. It’s bands like Sir Sly that will be the ones that impress you the most at Coachella though. You go in only knowing a song or two and come out wanting to listen to more. Here’s a couple songs just to give you a taste of this band:

  1. High
  2. Astronaut
  3. &Run
  4. Ghost
  5. Gold

Crooked Shadows: Album Review

Way back when I started this blog, I wrote about my love for Dashboard Confessional. They changed my life in high school and got me into good music (click here for a more detailed description). They were my favorite band back then. For the past 9 years though, they’ve been M.I.A. as far as new music goes. Honestly, if you were to tell me a year ago that I’d buy a new Dashboard album, I wouldn’t have believed you because the style of music Dashboard plays doesn’t match my current interests. Plus their music reminds me of a specific time in my life that I’ve grown past. I still appreciate them for that time though. I’ve just moved on.

A little over a year and a half ago, I worked a Dashboard Confessional show. They were on the Taste of Chaos Tour with Taking Back Sunday, Saosin (with Anthony Green), and The Early November. It was an honor to work and one of my greatest full circle moments to date. I had the opportunity to stay for the show after I finished work and I, of course, took advantage it. I left early to watch the Stanley Cup Final (my team, the Penguins, were on the verge of winning the Cup) but stayed for about 5-6 Dashboard songs. However, I doubt I would have attended if I wasn’t working. That’s the best example I can give you of my recent feelings towards Dashboard Confessional. Three months ago that changed slightly.

Dashboard Confessional released their first single from their new album Crooked Shadows in November (the album was released on Friday). I saw it as a new music release on Spotify and decided to listen because I was curious. The single, “We Fight”, was pretty good. It was better than I expected. I wouldn’t say I was hooked, but I was happy their new song was something I would listen to. I felt the exact same way upon hearing Brand New’s “I Am a Nightmare” in June 2016 and The Movielife’s “Mercy is Asleep at the Wheel” over the summer. At that time, I also saw that Dashboard announced a new show date in my hometown in late January. I thought to myself that I’d definitely go to the show as long as I had nothing else going on. I even tried to see if a few friends were interested, but I delayed getting tickets in case something came up.

I ended up being able to go and took my mom to the show. She was always a fan of Dashboard when I listened to them in high school so I thought she’d appreciate seeing them at least once. The show was fantastic. I loved it, especially lead vocalist/guitarist Chris Carrabba’s stage presence. It definitely evolved over the years. It was fun to stay for the whole thing this time around and sing all my favorite songs again with a few new ones in between. Speaking of new songs, a week before the show they released another single, “Heart Beat Here.” This time upon listening, I was hooked. The song was a perfect blend of something I would listen to now mixed with that classic Dashboard Confessional sound (essentially Chris Carrabba’s voice). At that point, I thought to myself, “I might actually have to get this new album.” On Friday, I did.

Crooked Shadows, Dashboard Confessional’s seventh full length album, was released on Friday. The album is relatively short compared to the others. It’s only 9 songs long. Within those 9 songs though is the complete re-birth of a 2000’s emo band to a 2018 indie/alternative rock band. This album is far from emo. It’s purely indie rock mixed with indie folk, electronic, and alternative rock. It’s such a great blend of my current interests with classic Dashboard that I fell in love with it in a matter of hours. If you want anything reminiscent of old Dashboard, I’d recommend listening to the songs “Open My Eyes” featuring violinist Lindsey Stirling or “Just What to Say” featuring Chrissy Costanza. “Heart Beat Here” has an old Dashboard feel as well. At the Dashboard show I attended two weeks ago, Chris said the song is a continuation of “Hands Down.” I don’t know if I’d agree as far as the sound goes, but it’s definitely a great song. That track along with the other first five are absolute jams. My favorites are “About Us” and “Belong” (with Cash Cash) which I had on repeat Friday afternoon. “We Fight” is included in that bunch as well. I currently have the album in my car and I’m sure I’ll be listening to it on repeat for the next week or more.

This is the second time in less than a year that I’ve fallen in love all over again with one of my favorites (the first was Foster the People over the summer). Although I think this time, I’ve just fallen in love with new Dashboard so it’s kind of like falling love all over again. I would recommend their new album to anyone at this point, but especially to those whose music interests have grown and changed, much like mine have. Dashboard Confessional is back in the best way possible.

Coachella Band Preview: Tash Sultana

Because I forgot to post last week’s blog after I wrote it and instead posted it this week, you’re getting two band previews this week! We’re almost near the end of January. We’re still a while away from Weekend 1, but I can feel it looming. Can’t you?! Since I already gave you plenty of Kygo to listen to this week, I thought I’d preview an artist who has a little less music to listen to. What she does have out is pretty awesome and original.

Natasha “Tash” Sultana is an Australian musician/singer/songwriter who grew up in Melbourne. She took to music at the age of three when she received a guitar from her grandfather. Now at age 22, she can play over 10 instruments. 2016 was her breakthrough year, but until then Tash struggled to find regular work and used street performing as her way to get by. She was however the lead vocalist of the band Mindpilot from 2008 through 2012.

She started receiving attention in 2016 through social media and the internet. She also released her first EP, Notion on September 16th independently through her own label Lonely Lands Records. The EP peaked at number 4 on ARIA Australian Albums Chart. It included two songs that were voted to Australia’s Triple J Hottest 100, “Jungle” (#3) and “Notion” (#32). She also embarked on a world tour in support of Notion.

In 2017, Tash continued to tour and also announced that her debut album would be released in the spring of 2018. She released the singles “Murder to the Mind” in April and “Mystik” in October along with being nominated for 4 ARIA Awards (Breakthrough Artist, Best Independent Release (Notion), Best Blues and Roots Album (Notion), and Best Australian Live Act).

Her rock music style features elements of reggae and psychedelic music. Her style can also be classified as indie rock. Each of her tracks have a different sound and her vocals are mesmerizing. It’s the kind of music you can just chill to. I love it because the sound meshed with her vocals is unique to my usual listening tastes.

I first found out about her in early October after my friend worked at All Things Go Fall Classic in Washington, DC. A patron at the festival told her about Tash Sultana so she checked out Tash and told me about her as well. Then I checked her out and enjoyed what I heard. My friend then saw her perform a week later at Austin City Limits. I wasn’t so fortunate. She is relatively new to the music scene and is just starting to get some attention in America. She recently performed on Late Night with Seth Meyers in October. That makes me think I’ll have plenty of time to get to see her live, especially if I get to be a part of Coachella this year and can catch her set.

She plays Saturday at Coachella. In my opinion Saturday’s lineup is stacked. I would expect to see Tash play an earlier set on Saturday. You never know though. She might end up with a mid-afternoon spot at the Gobi or Mojave Tent. If you have a chance, I would check her out though. She’s under that “up and coming” title for the festival this year. She’s also got a debut album coming out soon. Here’s what you can check out by her so far though:

  1. Jungle
  2. Mystik
  3. Notion
  4. Gemini
  5. Synergy
  6. Murder to Mind
  7. Big Smoke (Pts. 1 & 2)