indie

Dreamland: Album Review

After a month delay, Glass Animals latest record Dreamland is now out. The band was in the midst of a spring tour and had just started to release new singles when the music world got shut down by The Big C. In the build up to their album release, the band dropped several more singles as well as two cover songs in the midst of quarantine. The album was supposed to be released on July 10th, but two weeks before that, the group decided to push back the release to August 7th in light of current events involving the protesting for Black Lives Matter. Now that it’s finally August, and a few days after the 7th, Dreamland is here in its entirety. Let’s check it out.

The latest record brings the same chill indie electronic vibes that Glass Animals are known for so you don’t have to worry about this record sounding any different. The lyrics still bring in the unique language that Glass Animals have used in prior music too (i.e. “those peanut butter vibes” from “Gooey”). The difference in this album is that it’s like a book. Each song feels like a chapter in the story of front man and producer Dave Bayley’s life. The home movie interludes adds to that feel as well. In this way Dreamland is a well-themed record compared to Glass Animals’ first two releases.

Glass Animals have plenty of great songs in their discography but I think their new song “Heat Waves”, which was released around the same time the band announced the delay of their album, is their best song to date. It’s also a front runner for my favorite song of the year. I absolutely love it. It was one of those songs that I fell hard for when I heard it for the first time and it’s still a song that I’m constantly replaying. Several of my friends have said as much about this song too. It’s truly a banger and worth a listen even if you’re not a Glass Animals fan. It’s a likeable song in general.

The new album also features several other great tracks like “Space Ghost Coast to Coast”, which gives a lyrical nod to the 90’s, “Dejá Vu”, another banger and one of their singles released in anticipation of the album, “Tokyo Drifting” featuring Denzel Curry, and “Tangerine.”

I’m sure Glass Animals would be touring and playing festivals this year if it weren’t for The Big C. Look for them to hit the road once its safe and we can listen to live music with all our friends again. I know I will be doing that since I just missed the train on this band during their last big touring year. Until then, you have plenty of time to get into this new new album.

Women in Music Pt. III: Album Review

I’ve been patiently waiting for Haim’s third album, Women in Music Pt. III to drop. Some of the bright spots of this year have been the release of new music so I’ve been looking forward to this brand new album by one of my favorite bands. The album was slated for release on April 24th, but due to the current world wide crisis was pushed back for a late summer release. Then it was bumped up to a June 26th release date. June 26th was Friday, which means the album is finally out!

Haim has been releasing new music for almost a year now with “Summer Girl” dropping at the end of last July. Several other singles have also dropped in the lead up to the album release. Before live music ceased in March, Haim was in the midst of a Deli tour that honored their Jewish roots. The band was playing small shows at famous delis in a few locations around the country in honor of their first show ever being at Canter’s Deli in L.A. in 2000. The band played two of those scheduled dates before the country began to shut down. In honor of the album’s release though, the band did a live stream on Friday from Canter’s.

The biggest difference between Women in Music Pt. III and Haim’s first two albums is that this one hits deeper. The song topics get personal and more sad than their earlier works. Many songs on the album sound like the total opposite of that though. I’ve heard them described as “sad bangers”. A few tracks also add hints of jazz and Caribbean/tropical vibes to Haim’s west coast style pop/soft rock. Overall the album offers versatility in sound and lyrics compared to Days Are Gone and Something to Tell You. It’s got the Haim we’ve always loved (my favorite song “Don’t Wanna”) plus the Haim that is growing and pushing their style more (“Los Angeles”).

When live music is finally a thing again, expect plenty of tour dates and festival dates from these three sisters. I would even expect them to join the lineup for Taylor Swift’s festival next summer. Until then, bask in the greatness of this new music we were given in the strangest of times. It’s a great soundtrack for the summer and one you should take in before you can see them perform again. For me, new music is one of the only things that has felt the way it’s supposed to feel and I owe Haim and whoever else is releasing new music this year for this piece of comfort in a very uncomfortable year.

Notes On A Conditional Form: Album Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sad Philly Boy Music/Coachella Band Preview?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

You’ve Never Danced Like This Before

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

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

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

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

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

Good Spring

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coachella Band Preview: Big Wild

We are officially a month and a half away from Coachella 2020! The anticipation is building for me as it so often does. I’ve been doing my best to listen to the Coachella playlist I made and since the lineup dropped on January 2nd I’ve made an early discovery when I realized there was an artist on the lineup I had been listening to for months. Sure months is a stretch because it was like 3 months and there was only one song, but since then I realized his other stuff is great too! That artist is Big Wild and here’s what you need to know about him going into the festival.

Jackson Stell, better known to the music world as Big Wild, has been producing music as an electronic artist since 2012. He came from a music-oriented family and really got his break with the single “Aftergold” featuring Tove Styrke in 2016. The year prior he toured with Odesza and collaborated with the duo on a remix of their song “Say My Name.” He released his debut EP Invincible EP in 2017 and just released his debut album Superdream last year.

His indie pop style of electronic music incorporates instrumentation into his live sets. He is known for using synth, keyboards, drum pads, and live vocals in his performances. He also sings on a few of his tracks which is often rare for an electronic artist.

I got into Big Wild when I heard his song “6’s to 9’s” in a video posted by someone I follow on instagram. I added the song to my workout playlist once I listened. It then became a staple in my music listening regimen towards the end of the year.

Big Wild plays Sunday at his first Coachella. I would expect him to play in Sahara earlier in the day or at Gobi or Mojave. His music really falls into the Coachella vibe so I expect that his set will be a lot of fun. If you’re into the indie electronic stuff, you’re gonna want to check him out. I recently got into more of his stuff and have been listening to him quite frequently so here’s what I think you’ll need to now:

  1. 6’s to 9’s
  2. When I Get There
  3. Aftergold
  4. City of Sound
  5. Maker
  6. Show Me
  7. Invincible
  8. Empty Room
  9. Venice Venture
  10. Joypunks

 

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 Band Preview: Jai Wolf

Greetings again from Mexico! I’m back for the second leg of the events I’m a part of here. However just because I’m here doesn’t mean the Coachella preparations have ceased. April is quickly approaching and it’s time to check out another artist playing the festival this year. This week it’s electronic artist Jai Wolf.

Jai Wolf, or Sajeeb Saha, is an electronic artist from Long Island, New York. He first started making tracks in 2011, but adopted the name Jai Wolf in 2014 to create a new sound from what he had been creating. The result earned him opportunities to remix artists such as Odesza and Alesso. He also created a remix of Skrillex’s “Ease My Mind”. Jai Wolf released his debut single “Indian Summer” in 2015. He released a follow-up single “Drive” in May of 2016, shortly before his debut EP Kindred Spirits was released in November. He finally released his debut album The Cure to Loneliness last year after years of touring and dropping singles.

Jai Wolf’s style of electronic music has a very dreamy sound. It combines electronica, pop, dance and indie music. His sound draws a lot of comparison to Odesza. It makes sense that the artists have toured together. I first found out about Jai Wolf in the summer of 2017 when a girl I had a crush on introduced me to him. I’ve been a casual listener ever since. I also have seen him perform once. It was part of his Made in America set in 2018.

This won’t be Jai Wolf’s first time at Coachella. He played the festival in 2017. That was clearly before I knew of him since I definitely haven’t previewed him before. In 2017, he played the Gobi Tent in the early evening. I’d expect a similar time this year, but in a bigger location. Maybe he plays Mojave or Sahara instead. This time around I plan on catching him. He plays on Saturday. Here are some Jai Wolf jams to help you prep for Indio:

  1. Indian Summer
  2. Starlight
  3. Moon Rider
  4. Lose My Mind
  5. Like It’s Over
  6. Lost
  7. Feels (Remix)
  8. Drive
  9. Telepathy
  10. Better Apart

Coachella Band Preview: Lana Del Rey

Of course I’m starting off my band previews with the artist I’m most excited to see perform at Coachella. Ever since Lana played Coachella in 2014 amidst a stacked lineup of some of my favorite bands and artists, I’ve been waiting for the day I would get to see her play the southern California music festival. She’s been one of my favorite artists for about 8 years now. Finally the day has come where I can say here’s what you need to know about Lana Del Rey.

Lana Del Rey came onto the music scene in 2012 with her debut album Born to Die, but she wasn’t really new to the music scene at the time. She had been singing under the name Lizzy Grant (her real name is Elizabeth Grant). Since 2012, she’s released 5 albums, 1 EP, and has also released music for movie soundtracks like “Young and Beautiful” for 2013’s Great Gatsby, “Once Upon A Dream” for 2014’s Maleficent, and most recently her Ariana Grande and Miley Cyrus collaboration “Don’t Call Me Angel” for the latest Charlie’s Angels remake. I’ve written about Lana Del Rey on this blog before. I’ve written about her and reviewed her last 3 albums, HoneymoonLust For Life, and most recently Norman Fucking Rockewell!. Normally if I’ve written about a Coachella artist before, I combine those I write about into one big post closer to the festival. This year, since there’s only a few artists like that and an even smaller selection to preview than in years past (what can I say the music I’m into is just not being played at Coachella this year!), I figured I’m gonna preview everyone individually even those I’ve written about before.

Lana Del Rey has only ever played one other Coachella. In the 6 years that it has been since the last one, she’s put out 4 more albums. Her haunting vocals and baroque/dream pop style of music is a huge mood for the festival though. It fits the Coachella atmosphere so well. She’s already told us she’ll be playing Sunday evening right before headliner Frank Ocean, which means she’s got that early evening main stage spot locked. This means we probably won’t get that ideal sunset set for her west coast jams. Her now somewhat large discography means she’ll have a large selection of tunes to play this spring. I’m hoping I finally get to hear her Coachella-inspired song “Coachella – Woodstock On My Mind” at the festival that brought it to life. I’m also hoping she mixes in some of her older hits as well since her first album was one of my favorites of the last decade. She also claimed she’s bringing all of her friends, meaning there will be plenty of special guests. The Weeknd, Stevie Nicks, A$AP Rocky, and Sean Lennon have all made appearances on her records. Any one of them could be a likely guest of Lana.

We have 3 months to wait and see what her Coachella set will be like, but just know it’ll probably be packed and worth the 6 year wait. She could have easily headlined this festival so expect almost a secondary headlining performance from the artistic queen. Sunday evening will surely bring the heat this year. I’m sure I’ll be “feeling like I’m fucking crazy” by the time she performs, but I can’t wait for “ride” Lana Del Rey will take us on.

Here are just a handful of songs you should know:

  1. National Anthem
  2. Ride
  3. Mariners Apartment Complex
  4. Summertime Sadness
  5. Coachella – Woodstock On My Mind
  6. Lust For Life
  7. West Coast
  8. Born to Die
  9. Young and Beautiful
  10. Video Games
  11. Love
  12. Blue Jeans
  13. Doin’ Time
  14. hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it
  15. Beautiful People Beautiful Problems