indio california

Local Natives

It’s crazy to think, but it’s been almost a month since my last blog post and yet it honestly doesn’t feel like it was that long ago. I guess that’s what happens when you spend the fastest two weeks in the Coachella Valley working at your favorite and one of the most well-known music festivals in the world.

So yeah, I did it. I worked Coachella. It was amazing, special, wild, epic, unreal, and all sorts of other positive adjectives that you can think of. It was mostly indescribable though. I knew what to expect, but at the same time I didn’t at all. I can say though that experiencing Coachella in an entirely different way made me appreciate it so much more because it’s a first class, well-run music festival. I’m not gonna go into deep detail about my trip here. I will say that out of the bands I previewed I was able to see Kungs, Grouplove, Lorde, and Lady Gaga. If you wanna know more about my experience though, just ask.

Another thing I will mention is that I had a realization while at the festival during Saturday of Weekend 1. I definitely should have previewed Local Natives in the build-up to Coachella 2017. I was able to catch part of their set that Saturday before my shift started and I knew about 4 of the 5 songs I heard. I didn’t realize how many Local Natives songs I knew, but apparently I know a lot. I know enough that I feel like I need to go to one of their shows sometime. So I figured it was better late than never to write about them, so here goes…

Local Natives is an indie rock band from Los Angeles, CA. Members Kelcey Ayer, Ryan Hahn, and Taylor Rice all met while in high school together in neighboring Orange County, but it was after graduating college from UCLA that the group really started to focus on music. Along with Matt Frazier and former member Andy Hamm (replaced by Nik Ewing in 2012), the group moved into a house together in the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles and began working on their first record, Gorilla Manor. The album was released in November 2009 in the UK and then in the U.S. in February 2010.

The band began generating some hype before the album’s release though. They played SXSW in 2009 which garnered attention from music critics. They received comparisons to well known indie bands, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, and Vampire Weekend, making them a new notable act on the indie scene.

On January 29, 2013 the band released their second album, Hummingbird. The album was produced by guitarist Aaron Dessner of The National and featured a darker lyrical turn due to life events, such as the departure of Andy Hamm and the death of Kelcey Ayer’s mother, that had influenced the band’s writing process. The album also received generally positive reviews.

Last year the band released their third and most recent album, Sunlit Youth, in September. The first single for the album, “Past Lives”, was released a few months before the album drop. The album, like it’s predecessor, received similarly favorable reviews.

Local Natives is your standard indie rock band. There’s no other genre that their music fits into. I can see why they were initially compared to the likes of those other well-known indie bands. Out of the three I mentioned above, their music sounds most similar to a combination of Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes. I think Vampire Weekend has more of an indie pop feel to their songs that isn’t heard as much with Local Natives. Another reassuring fact about Local Natives’ music is that the sound hasn’t changed much through three albums. Maybe the lyrical content has developed and changed, but you’re still getting that familiar Gorilla Manor sound on Sunlit Youth.

I first heard of Local Natives in the prime of my indie/hipster music transition phase in the spring of 2011. From then on, every so often I would add a new Local Natives song to my iTunes and playlist rotation. While on my first trip to California in 2013, I made it a point to go to Amoeba Music. Amoeba is the world’s largest independent record store. They have three locations in California, one in Berkeley (the original), one in San Francisco, and one in Hollywood, which is the one I went to. I, of course, wanted to get something at Amoeba, but traveling by plane made it difficult to purchase any vinyl so I opted for a CD. The CD I purchased was Hummingbird. Despite all this evidence, it never occurred to me that Local Natives should be a must-see for me at Coachella this year and a must among the list of bands I previewed. I didn’t even realize it after catching the end of their set at Lollapalooza last summer and realizing I knew every song I heard them play. I do now though and I won’t disregard them anymore. I plan on going to one of their shows next time they tour near me. They crushed it at Coachella and I don’t want to miss out anymore.

If you’re a big indie music follower and you don’t know of Local Natives, it’s time you do. They’re a great band to listen to if you’re just relaxing on quiet evening or if you’re driving on a road trip. It’s time to make these guys known or recognized whatever the case may be. Here’s a few songs you should check out.

  1. Airplanes
  2. Who Knows Who Cares
  3. Ceilings
  4. Heavy Feet
  5. Mt. Washington
  6. Past Lives
  7. Wide Eyes
  8. Dark Days
  9. We Come Back
  10. Sun Hands

Coachella Band Preview: Tove Lo

This is it. The final blog post before the big first weekend. I make my journey out there in two days and I can’t wait to be among that festival atmosphere. Hopefully I get a chance to see one or two of these amazing bands or artists I’ve previewed, but I keep my expectations low to avoid disappointment just in case. The final artist I decided to preview is a Swedish singer/songwriter known as Tove Lo.

Tove Lo, whose real name is Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson, first came on to the music scene in 2014. Her career journey started way before that though. While growing up she went to music school and even became friends with Caroline Hjelt, who went on to form Icona Pop. By the end of her teenage years she formed the rock band Tremblebee. After the band broke up she decided to go after a songwriting career and earned a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music in 2011. Through that she often wrote and recorded her own compositions which lead to her eventual record deal.

Her stage name comes from a nickname she had growing up. Tove is part of her real name and Lo is the Swedish word for Lynx, which was her favorite animal growing up. Tove Lo’s first performances were in London and at SXSW in 2014 right around the time she released her first EP Truth Serum. The EP contained one of her most popular hits, “Habits”, which she released independently even before the EP came out. The track was re-titled “Habits (Stay High)” for Truth Serum and earned her breakout success as one of the hottest new artists of 2014. Her debut album Queen of the Clouds was released on September 24, 2014. It had much success making the top 20 on album charts in the U.S., the U.K., and Sweden. In Sweden the album is certified platinum. Towards the end of 2014, Tove Lo joined the third leg of Katy Perry’s Prismatic World Tour as the opening artist.

By early 2015 though, the breakout artist needed to take a little time away from singing as she had to have surgery on her vocal chords to remove cysts that had developed. Near the end of the year she was back at it touring across North America in support of the re-packaged edition of Queen of the Clouds which was released in October of 2015. The year rewarded Tove Lo with two Grammi Awards (Swedish version of the Grammys) and a Grammy nomination for her writing credit on Ellie Goulding’s song “Love Me Like You Do”.

In 2016 the Swedish singer announced she would be releasing her second album later in the year. She toured as the opening act for Maroon 5 to promote the upcoming release. She released the first single from her new album Lady Wood in early August called “Cool Girl”. The album was released on October 28, 2016. Tove Lo recently went on a solo tour in support of Lady Wood and has plans to join Coldplay’s upcoming tour as an opening act this summer.

Along with her own success, Tove Lo has also been involved in many successful collaborations with artists such as Nick Jonas, Coldplay, and Flume, as well as earning songwriting credits for many well known artists such as Ellie Goulding, Hillary Duff, Victoria Justice, Lea Michele, and Icona Pop. One of her most successful collaborations came in 2015 when she sang on Swedish DJ Alesso’s track “Heroes (We Could Be)”. The single had high chart success in Sweden, the U.K., and the U.S.

Tove Lo’s music style is an alternative style of pop music. It might be considered synthpop or electropop. It definitely has an electronic influence and is a bit darker than your standard pop music as well. A lot of her songs have this sexual type of feel and sound. I’m not saying that’s the intention with her music either. Her style is just perfect baby making music.

I don’t remember when I first heard of Tove Lo. I know I knew her song “Habits (Stay High)” before anything else. I didn’t really like the song though, which is probably because I would only ever hear it on mainstream pop radio. Even though I’m not a huge fan of listening to that type of radio, I have a guilty pleasure song or two that gets overplayed. “Habits” was not one of those. “Talking Body” was though. I first heard “Talking Body” on a Spotify playlist and I really liked the song. It was even part of my work out playlist for a while. I never really got hooked on any of her other songs though, but I think at that point I appreciated her as more of an alternative pop artist.

So for the second week in a row why am I previewing this artist that I’ve never gotten into? In fact compared to Two Door Cinema Club, I don’t even own any of Tove Lo’s records. Well it’s pretty simple. Tove Lo plays Sunday at Coachella and I’ve only previewed two other Sunday acts, Lorde and Grouplove. If I had the whole festival to just hang out and see music, there would only be 2 performances that I’d really wanna see on Sunday which frees up a ton of the day. My familiarity with Tove Lo would make me want to check her set out. I think she’ll put on a great set and I definitely suggest you check her out if you have time on Sunday. Here’s a few songs you might want to know first:

  1. Habits (Stay High)
  2. Talking Body
  3. Cool Girl
  4. True Disaster
  5. Influence
  6. Moments
  7. Not On Drugs
  8. Got Love
  9. Heroes (We Could Be) (w/ Alesso)
  10. Say It (w/ Flume)

 

 

Coachella Band Preview: Two Door Cinema Club

Coachella is next weekend. Coachella is next weekend. COACHELLA. IS. NEXT. WEEKEND. Thought I would ingrain it in your mind, but yeah Coachella begins next weekend. That means the band previews for 2017 are almost over. It’s the only bummer of this whole Coachella experience. I have one more preview left before the festival starts, but that’s it. There’s not much time. You might wanna binge listen to this next act.

Two Door Cinema Club was formed in 2007. The group who comes from two small towns in Northern Ireland is comprised of members Alex Trimble (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Sam Halliday (lead guitar, vocals), and Kevin Baird (bass, vocals, synth). Trimble and Halliday met while in grammar school and then the duo got to know Baird better when he started hanging out with their mutual friends. The band got their name when Halliday mispronounced the name of the local movie theater, Tudor Cinema.

Two Door Cinema Club’s first EP Four Words to Stand On was released in 2008 which garnered them attention. They released their debut album, Tourist History, 2 years later in February of 2010 (Republic of Ireland release) and toured the UK and Ireland in the spring of 2010 in support of its release. The band also played a bunch of European Festivals in 2010 including Reading and Leeds and opened for Phoenix during their 2010 U.S. Tour. Their debut album earned them two NME Award nominations.

The band continued to tour going into 2011 playing a co-headlining tour of the U.S. and Canada with Tokyo Police Club. 2011 brought stops at Glastonbury, Coachella, and Lollapalooza, as well as another stop at Reading and Leeds. They began work on their second album in 2011 and by the end of August 2012, Beacon was released.

In 2013, Two Door Cinema Club released their second EP Changing of the Seasons. They spent spent 2013 playing shows and festivals throughout Europe and North America. The group finally took a break from a steady 3 years of touring by 2014 and began to work on their third album. They began touring again in 2016 in support of the release of their third studio album, Gameshow, which came out in October. That tour has continued into 2017 and includes the stop in Indio.

Two Door Cinema Club is part of the indie rock genre. Some of their songs verge on indie pop as well. Their new album even has a funky, soulful feel, so you can say the band sort of spans across genres.

I first discovered Two Door Cinema Club in 2011 in the prime of my indie music phase. I bought their debut album that year. It was never a stand out album to me despite my love for their style of music. It was always just a solid indie rock soundtrack to my drives that fall. Since then, I haven’t really followed up much on Two Door Cinema Club. I did hear of them touring and making music though so I knew they were still around. I was just never as into them as I was with other bands.

So why am I previewing them for Coachella and telling you to see them? Because despite not being really, really into them, they’re a good band and festivals are the time to see as much music as possible especially if you’re somewhat familiar with a band. So I guess that’s the only condition. If you’re not into indie rock and you’ve never heard of Two Door Cinema Club, by all means, don’t feel obliged to see them perform. If you do like indie rock or you know a few songs by Two Door Cinema Club, you should check them out, assuming their set doesn’t overlap with another set on your must-see list. If you already love them and plan on seeing them, I have no doubt they’ll play a great set. I know I would probably see them at Coachella because I don’t think I’d actually buy tickets to just see Two Door Cinema Club on tour and that’s okay. That’s what makes festivals great. Maybe you’ll see them and they’ll be unexpectedly amazing causing you to want to see them on tour. It’s their 3rd time at Coachella too so they’re not new to experience. They play Saturday and at this point they’ll probably be on a little later in the day. Here’s what you need to know if you plan on seeing them:

  1. Are We Ready? (Wreck)
  2. Bad Decisions
  3. What You Know
  4. Sleep Alone
  5. Something Good Can Work
  6. I Can Talk
  7. Changing of the Seasons
  8. Next Year
  9. Undercover Martyn
  10. Sun
  11. Gameshow

 

 

Coachella Band Preview: Oh Wonder

Coachella begins in 2 weeks! I hope you’ve been doing some serious music listening. If you haven’t, I’m disappointed in you. Even if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like to listen to the music before they attend the show, I’m still disappointed in you because, I mean, come on. How can you not prep even just a little?! This is one of the biggest music festivals out there. For those of you who have been prepping, here’s another band you should be listening to.

Oh Wonder is a band who began creating music together in September 2014. The band is from London and comprised of keyboardist/vocalist Josephine Vander Gucht and guitarist/vocalist Anthony West. Oh Wonder’s claim to fame comes from the release of their DIY debut album. Beginning in September 2014, the alt-pop duo began releasing one song per month via SoundCloud for one year. The year culminated in the release of their debut album which also included two unreleased songs.

The band’s song release process attracted the attention of music fans, blogs, and record labels. They eventually signed with Republic Records. Upon the release of their self-titled debut album in September 2015, the band scheduled shows in London, Paris, New York, and Los Angeles, all of which were sold out. The band has toured internationally since that time and also played a handful of North American music festivals last summer. They made stops at Bonnaroo, Firefly, WayHome (Canada), Lollapalooza, and Live Out (Mexico).

Their music is an alternative/indie pop style, but softer and more mellow than other music I would classify as indie pop. Vander Gucht and West also harmonize magnificently on every track. Their vocals create such soothing melodies that are often times catchy as well. Once you get one of their songs in your head, it’s difficult to get it out.

I heard of Oh Wonder from a music recommendation tumblr post last fall. I checked them out a few days after and decided to download one of their songs. It seemed like after listening to them for the first time, more of their music would pop up on random Spotify playlists I would listen to. I also routinely listened to the song I downloaded. It only took a few times of listening before I would sing-a-long with the music. Their music isn’t the kind of indie pop you’d want to hear to get you hyped up for something. It’s the kind that you’d put on during a sunny afternoon drive or road trip.

That being said, don’t expect a fun, upbeat indie pop style set from them at Coachella. They’re not Grouplove or Matt & Kim. Their music is more relaxed and their set will be too. They play Friday and my guess is that their set will be earlier in the day. They’re a perfect band to see at the festival because I doubt their set time will overlap with other must-see acts. Here’s a few songs you should listen to before their Coachella performance:

  1. Drive
  2. Technicolor Beat
  3. Lose It
  4. All We Do
  5. Without You
  6. Livewire

(But truly, if you just check out their debut self-titled album, you should be fine.)

 

Coachella Band Preview: Empire of the Sun

The first weekend of Coachella is 3 weeks away. Yes three weeks is what separates us from the hot sunny Indio Desert, the greens of the Empire Polo Fields swarming with festival-goers, palm trees swaying to the cool breeze and rad tunes, epic sunsets over the mountains, and the sweet sounds of music from incredible artists entering our ears. I only have a few band previews left before the annual festival begins and time is of the essence so I better get to it.

Empire of the Sun is an electronic/alternative rock band from Sydney, Australia. The band formed in 2007 as a collaboration between Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore. Both had worked together on music for each other’s bands before forming Empire of the Sun. Those bands each performed different styles of music. Steele brought the alternative rock genre to their new band and Littlemore brought the electronic dance music. Their first album, Walking on a Dream, was released in 2008 with the first single of the same name debuting about a month before the album’s release. Both the single and album were charted in the top ten of the ARIA charts. Although their only intention was to create a studio album, they decided to do live performances in response to the album’s success. However the live shows did not include Littlemore, who decided to opt out of touring early on. By the end of 2009, the band received 7 ARIA Awards for the album including Album of the Year.

2010 was the year the band embarked on the festival circuit playing Glastonbury and Lollapalooza for the first time and by the end of the year Littlemore and Steele discussed creating a new album for the band. Production on the album began in 2011 and Littlemore stated he would go out and tour in support of this one. 2011 also involved a North American tour for the band, which included a stop at Coachella.

The duo released their second album, Ice on the Dune, in June 2013. The new album brought more touring throughout 2013 and into 2014. The band made their second stop at Coachella in 2014 and headlined the Sahara Tent. Their music was also featured in the film Dumb and Dumber To, which came out in late 2014.

The band continued to tour into 2015 while simultaneously working on their third album. Their third and latest album was just released this past October. 2016 also marked the first time that the band broke on to the Billboard charts. It was their 2008 hit “Walking on a Dream” that earned the band the number 3 spot on the Alternative Music charts after it was used in a U.S. Honda commercial in early 2016.

Their music, as I said, is a combination of alternative rock and electronic music. It can’t be described much better than that, although some may say the band fits genres like synthpop or glam rock. I feel like their sound has stayed consistent over the course of three albums so if you love the song “Walking on a Dream” or only know music from that album, you’re bound to dig some of their more recent stuff.

I discovered Empire of the Sun in 2011. There’s no significant story of how so I’m guessing it was through a recommendation from Youtube or Pandora because I listened to similar music on either channel. Of course the first song I heard was “Walking on a Dream”. Throughout the past few years I’ve heard their other stuff here and there and I’ve liked it. I’ve also heard the song “Walking on a Dream” multiple times in various circumstances throughout the same time period. It’s no surprise it’s their biggest hit. I never got into them as a band though. Nor have I been dying to see them live, but I’ll tell you why I would definitely check them out at Coachella.

Music festivals give you an opportunity to see bands live who you might like but not like enough to buy a ticket for a touring show making Coachella the perfect time for someone like me to check them out. Empire of the Sun does some pretty cool live performances too. The performances are as much of a visual art as they are a musical art. They wear elaborate costumes, have dancers or other performers, and display mesmerizing visuals often seen as part of electronic shows. They play Friday at Coachella. They’ve already headlined the Sahara Tent at the festival once before so that might happen again. As long as their set doesn’t overlap with some other great performers, it’ll definitely be a spectacle worth seeing. Here’s a few songs to know if you go:

  1. Walking on a Dream
  2. Alive
  3. High and Low
  4. We Are the People
  5. Standing on the Shore
  6. DNA
  7. Two Vines
  8. Concert Pitch
  9. To Her Door
  10. Friends

 

Coachella Band Preview: Phantogram, BANKS, Bon Iver, & Bastille

Thank goodness that Coachella is only a month away because this week’s east coast Snowmageddon is bringing me down. If the snow is keeping you inside or if you’re inside regardless for whatever the case may be, it’s the perfect time to listen to some bands to prep for Indio’s annual music festival. This week’s blog might be kind of basic, but it’s still necessary because I would want to see all of these artists perform their 2017 Coachella sets. I’ve given an in depth review of all these artists before so my previews for these guys will be more condensed. I’ll be sure to give links to my previous posts on each and catch you up on what they’ve done since I wrote about them last though. They are Phantogram, BANKS, Bon Iver, & Bastille.

I just wrote about Phantogram back in December. The biggest news about the band since you last heard about them is that they’re playing a bunch of festivals this summer after releasing their third studio album in October 2016. They make their return to the desert for the first time since 2011. That being said I expect they’ll have decent numbers at their Coachella set. They play Friday. As for music prep, click the link above to my previous Phantogram post. The band hasn’t released any new music since so it’s senseless to post it again. Just check out my blog from a few months ago.

When I first started this blog in 2014, BANKS was one of the first music artists I wrote about. So as you might have guessed, there’s a lot more to tell you about BANKS since my last post. My last post is actually pretty small (give me a break I was just getting the hang of this thing) and I only recommended 3 songs…what?! Let’s catch you up and give you a few more songs. After releasing her debut album to critical acclaim in September 2014 (and yes I eventually purchased it), BANKS again toured in support The Weeknd on his 2015 fall tour. She released her sophomore album, The Altar, this past September to more positive reviews. I previously compared her to Lorde. I understand where I was going with that description, but I think a better description of her sound is alternative R&B. It has a darker feel yet a soulful vibe. Since hearing about her in 2014, I’ve wanted to see her live. I actually thought she’d play Coachella in 2015 when I attended until I realized she played the previous year. She hasn’t been back since making this year her second appearance. She plays Friday as well. If you’re looking for a super chill, hip, alternative, electronic, R&B type of set, BANKS is who you need to see. Here’s a few more of her songs you should listen to along with “Goddess”, “Beggin’ For Thread”, and the “In Your Eyes” cover:

  1. Lovesick
  2. Fuck With Myself
  3. Gemini Feed
  4. Drowning
  5. You Should Know Where I’m Coming From
  6. Someone New
  7. Warm Water
  8. Waiting Game
  9. Brain
  10. Trainwreck
  11. Mind Games

Bon Iver is another artist I wrote about a while ago. Since then Bon Iver released a new album, 22, A Million this past September. It was the first album for the band since 2011. The album takes on a much more experimental sound than their previous material. Pitchfork likened it to Radiohead’s Kid A in their review of the album, which I think is a solid comparison. Bon Iver went on hiatus for a while in 2012 and reunited for the first time in the summer of 2015 to play the Eaux Claires Music Festival. Early last year they toured in Asia and since the release of the new album, the group, fronted by creator Justin Vernon, is back to playing live shows. They have a few festivals lined up for this summer including a stop at their second Coachella (third for Justin Vernon since he was a guest during Kanye’s 2011 set). They play Saturday. I’ve never seen Bon Iver live. I would love to. The timing is always off and Bon Iver is one of those bands for me that I’d want someone to go with except I don’t think any of my friends like Bon Iver that much. Seeing this band at a festival would be the perfect opportunity for me and for you if you’ve liked Bon Iver for a while (like me) or if even if you haven’t. So here’s a few songs to add to your Coachella playlist along with the list of songs I mention on previous blog post (linked above):

  1. 33 “GOD”
  2. 666 ʇ
  3. 29 #Strafford APTS
  4. 8 (circle)
  5. 22 (OVER S∞∞N)

If you couldn’t already tell from my post a few months ago, Bastille is one band who I’d definitely love to see live again, especially after their latest album. Since my post, there’s not much news to add other than the fact that they’re playing their second Coachella this year, which I believe I predicted in my blog post. They’ve also got a few other upcoming overseas festivals including Reading and Leeds. Bastille plays Saturday at Coachella. I would anticipate high popularity for their set. It’s also one that would be on my must-see list, if I’m able to catch it. As was with Phantogram, there’s been no new music from Bastille since my blog post in October, so refer to that for tunes to prep for the festival.

There you have it. Somewhat brief follow-ups for four bands/artists playing Coachella this year that I previously wrote about. I know I already suggested your attendance at each one of their sets, but honestly every Coachella act I write about is one that I’d want you to see at the festival. It kinda goes without saying. It’s seriously time to rev up those preparations though because we’re heading towards the final stretch. Coachella 2017 will be here before you know it.

 

Coachella Band Preview: Lady Gaga

If you’re reading this, I doubt you’re confused by the title of my blog because you probably know a thing or two about what happened regarding Coachella over the past week. In case you are confused though, let me explain.

As you know from the lineup announcement in the beginning of January, Lady Gaga was not on it. However, a month after the lineup dropped, Beyoncé made a public announcement that she was pregnant with twins. This started some speculation that she might not play Coachella. At the time of the announcement though, it seemed like she was fully committed to the annual festival. Then, her doctors intervened. Last week, shortly after I posted my last blog (because if it was before I would have mentioned it), AP (Associated Press) broke the news that Beyoncé would not play Coachella this year following the advice of her doctors to keep a less rigorous schedule. The announcement did state that Beyoncé will play Coachella next year in 2018, which in my opinion takes away from the anticipation of the lineup release somewhat. I guess since she was a major headliner and a bunch of the Beyhive probably bought tickets this year to see her, Coachella promoter, Goldenvoice, threw them a bone.

After the announcement was made last week, more speculation occurred over who would replace Queen Bey. Lady Gaga was one of the first acts I thought of as her replacement and this was without being influenced by rumors popping up all over the internet and social media. To me it seemed pretty logical, she’s a highly billed female pop performer, much like Beyoncé. She’s also about to embark on a world tour in support of her most recent album Joanne, which has been widely praised. It just made so much sense that she would replace Beyoncé. I saw some other names pop in the meantime though from Daft Punk to Rihanna. I also saw Lady Gaga’s name thrown around too, which made me feel like my guess wasn’t too far off. By Tuesday evening, it was confirmed. Lady Gaga would replace Beyoncé as Coachella’s Saturday night headliner and Gagachella was born.

Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, grew up in Manhattan’s Upper East Side in an affluent Catholic family. Despite attending an all-girls Catholic school growing up, she felt like she never fit in to that kind of crowd. She was always involved in music and the arts as well. She started taking piano at age 4. She played open mic nights and acted in school musicals as a teenager. She was even granted early admission to NYU’s theater program, but dropped out during her sophomore year to pursue her music career.

Her stage name, Lady Gaga, was inspired by Queen’s song “Radio Ga Ga” and a T9 accidental text message. In the years before she released her first album, she played Lollapalooza along with Lady Starlight as “Lady Gaga and Lady Starlight”. The duo also performed on the New York underground scene, which was when Lady Gaga began to incorporate pop and glam rock into her electronic dance music style.

After finally securing a record deal with Interscope/Geffen, her debut album, The Fame, was released in 2008. The album included many successful singles and earned her a Grammy Award for Best/Dance Electronica Album. Her song “Poker Face” won the Grammy for Best Dance Recording as well. Gaga’s first tour was in support of The Pussycat Dolls in 2009, but shortly after she embarked on her own headlining world tour. In November of 2009, she released an 8 song EP entitled The Fame Monster, which included the hit single “Bad Romance” as well as a few other successful singles. The Fame Monster earned Lady Gaga 8 MTV Video Music Awards and a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album. She also embarked on another world tour appropriately named The Monster Ball Tour.

Lady Gaga released her second studio album Born This Way in May 2011. The album produced several successful singles, 3 Grammy nominations, and a resulting world tour similar to her other music. Around this time was when Gaga formed her relationship with Tony Bennett which paved the way for their eventual album together, Cheek to Cheek, which was released in 2014 and earned them a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. However, the joint album was not released before her third studio album Artpop. It came out in November of 2013. Artpop is the least successful of Lady Gaga’s albums thus far and was received with mixed reviews. Despite its lack of success, it still sold about 2.5 million copies worldwide (as of July 2014).

Lady Gaga released her latest album, Joanne, this past October. Following its release, she performed at three small scale venues to promote the album. This was known as the Dive Bar Tour. Shortly before Joanne‘s release, it was announced that Lady Gaga would be headlining the 2017 Super Bowl LI Halftime Show. The halftime show became the most viewed music performance in history. Following the show, Lady Gaga announced her latest world tour plans in support of Joanne which now includes a pre-stop at one of America’s most well-known music festivals.

When Beyoncé was announced as a headliner, I had no intention of writing a preview for her because I’m not a Beyoncé fan. Honestly, I’m not a Lady Gaga fan either so the reason I decided to write this might be a mystery so I’ll explain. I’m not a fan of mainstream pop music (Adele being the only exception). In fact I used to get annoyed over Lady Gaga’s music when it first came out in 2008. The truth is though despite not being into Lady Gaga’s music, she’s had so many hit singles that I do know a lot of her music. I don’t listen to the radio normally, but I would hear her songs regardless. I’d hear them in public locations, from friends, on television, and yeah I guess on the radio when I wasn’t in control of it.

There’s been random times in my life over the last 9 years that Lady Gaga’s music has been a part of too. My friends and I sang a self made-up parody of “Alejandro” at the beach one summer, “Bad Romance” played on a music-playing amusement park ride one time when all of our previous times on this ride had death metal songs we didn’t know or like (“Bad Romance” kind of saved us), and “Applause” became one of the theme songs of my first trip to California due to its overplay and my cousin being in control of the radio. There’s probably other moments I’m not thinking of too. Also I can’t forget that my mom is a huge fan of Lady Gaga and her music. She owns almost all, if not all, of Gaga’s albums. I have to admit, I even like Joanne. Because of all the exposure, I almost feel like a fan by association and no lie her Super Bowl performance had me crushing the end of my cardio work out. So no, I’m not a true Little Monster, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Gaga live if I had the opportunity.

As I said before, Lady Gaga plays Saturday night in replacement of Beyoncé. It’s her first time playing the festival and also the first time since 2007 that a female solo artist will be headlining. Being known for her crazy and outlandish costumes/outfits in her early performing days as well as becoming a major pop performer, I’m expecting her Coachella set to be epic and to have some intense production quality. No one will want to miss her performance on Saturday night, unless of course you’re a major fan of whoever is playing at the Sahara Tent. Here’s some songs to get you ready, although you might already know them:

  1. Bad Romance
  2. Just Dance
  3. Poker Face
  4. Born This Way
  5. Alejandro
  6. Perfect Illusion
  7. Applause
  8. Marry the Night
  9. Telephone
  10. A Million Reasons
  11. A-Yo
  12. John Wayne
  13. The Edge of Glory
  14. Paparazzi
  15. LoveGame

 

Coachella Band Preview: Grouplove

We are 2 months and 1 week away from Coachella Weekend 1. That means it’s the perfect time to start dusting off those flower headbands. It’s also the perfect time to check out another band playing the festival this year, Grouplove. This band is no stranger to the Indio desert having played Coachella in 2012 and 2014. Their 3rd and latest album was released in September making 2017 the year they make their return to the Empire Polo Fields.

Out of every band I’ve written about, Grouplove has the best formation story of any I’ve learned so far. Usually I’ll tell you where a band comes from, but with Grouplove the members come from all over the map. They officially formed in Los Angeles in 2009, but met before that in Crete at an artist commune in the village of Avdou. Members Hannah Hooper (vocals, keyboards) and Christian Zucconi (vocals, guitar) met on the Lower East Side of Manhattan after Hooper heard Zucconi’s band perform. She fell for him and ended up inviting him to the artist residency in Crete where they met future band members Sean Gadd (bass), Andrew Wessen (guitar, vocals) and Ryan Rabin (drums). Rabin and Wessen were also friends who grew up in Los Angeles. Gadd hails from London, England. The band formed a year after that fateful trip to Crete when Gadd, Hooper, and Zucconi decided to venture out to LA to pay a visit to Rabin’s father’s recording studio (his dad is Trevor Rabin, former guitarist of English rock band Yes).

The band played their first show in LA in 2010 and shortly after toured with Florence and the Machine and The Joy Formidable. Grouplove released their first self-titled EP in early 2011. That same year they joined forces with Foster the People on a co-headlining tour and played several music festivals including Lollapalooza, Glastonbury, and Reading and Leeds. After their busy and travel filled spring and summer, they released their debut album, Never Trust A Happy Song, in September of 2011. Arguably the group’s two biggest singles, “Colours” and “Tongue Tied” were a part of the record. Following the release, Grouplove embarked on a fall North American headlining tour in support of the album. The touring and travel life continued into and through 2012 and included the group’s first stop at Coachella.

They released their sophomore album, Spreading Rumours, in September 2013 almost exactly 2 years after their debut, which brought on another album support tour. This time though Daniel Gleason became a temporary replacement for Sean Gadd, but by the following spring the replacement became permanent. In 2014 the band again played the festival circuit hitting Coachella, Bonnaroo, Firefly, and Lollapalooza.

This past September (clearly the month for Grouplove record releases) Grouplove released their third album, Big Mess, and toured in support of it from August through November. It’s only fitting that the band would play Coachella again after releasing their latest album since they played the festival after their first two releases.

Grouplove is your standard indie band. They play an indie rock/indie pop style of music. I’ve always felt like their songs have this summery sort of vibe. In my opinion their records are the perfect soundtrack to a pool party, laying out on the beach, or taking a road trip along the California coast line with friends. It’s that kind of indie rock.

I first heard of Grouplove in 2011. I feel like that was a prime year for indie rock for me. However though, I never got into Grouplove as a whole. I’ve liked a song here and there, particularly the song “Ways to Go”, but I don’t own any Grouplove albums or have more than a few of their singles on my iTunes. So why am I previewing them for Coachella? Well the reason is I think they’re a great live band. I’ve never seen them in person, but I watched part of their Coachella set in 2014. Their set seemed like so much fun to be at. It made me want to see them in person at a festival. Ideally that festival would be Coachella because their music kind of embodies the Coachella spirit.

Grouplove plays Coachella on Sunday. I recommend going to their set because like I said their music and style perfectly represents the essence of the festival. Their music is good too! I just never got into it like I did with other bands. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it though. If I were attending this year, I’d probably be listening to their music more. Maybe even enough that I might get into them just in time to see them at Coachella. Here’s what you should check out to prep for their set:

  1. Tongue Tied
  2. Ways To Go
  3. Colours
  4. Let Me In
  5. Welcome To Your Life
  6. Itchin’ On A Photograph
  7. Good Morning
  8. Shark Attack
  9. Naked Kids
  10. Do You Love Someone

 

Coachella Band Preview: Kungs

Another week down, 11 more to go. It doesn’t feel like it at the end of January, but Coachella will be here before you know it. That’s why it’s time to preview another band performing in Indio this year. Like last week though, this week’s preview doesn’t feature a band (maybe I should change the name on these previews). It’s an electronic artist named Kungs.

Kungs is a French DJ whose real name is Valentin Brunel. He’s also only 20 years old (and freshly 20 might I add because his birthday was in December)! He grew up interested and involved in music with influences from his parents especially his dad who introduced him to rock n’ roll as well as other genres. By the age of 17, he began writing his own material and posting it to the internet. His remixes of Bob Marley’s “Jammin'” and Lost Frequencies’ “Are You With Me” as well as his Lana Del Rey “West Coast” cover ft. Molly have several million views on SoundCloud and Youtube. What turned into his breakthrough hit was released almost a year ago. It’s called “This Girl”, which he remixed. It was originally a 2009 song by Australian funk band Cookin’ On 3 Burners. It turned into a massive hit worldwide and paved the way for Kungs and his debut album Layers. The album was just released on November 4th.

Kungs electronic style is mostly house music. His particular style blends different genres of music together, which is what he aimed for on his debut album. I listened to the album a few weeks ago right before the Coachella lineup dropped and each song brings a different vibe. Besides “This Girl”, two of my favorites are “Don’t You Know” ft. Jamie N Commons and “Melody” ft. Luke Pritchard of The Kooks. I feel like both of those songs blend house with rock and indie rock, which might be why I like them so much. The album is so good that I actually took a little break while writing this to buy it online. So worth it. It’s that good.

I first heard Kungs via Instagram. A girl I follow posted a video with “This Girl” playing in the background. I didn’t take an interest in the song and it was kind of just “background music” for me. A few weeks later I found myself stuck with part of the song in my head and I couldn’t figure out where I knew the song from. It took me about a day before I realized it was the song from that Instagram video. Then about 2 weeks after that I stopped to visit my cousins before heading to the NWSL Semifinal. At dinner on the night I visited, my cousin started telling me about a song he was currently addicted to. It was, of course, “This Girl”. I didn’t recognize the song title or artist when he told me the name (cause I actually didn’t know who the artist was or what the song was called from that Instagram video), but once he played it I realized what I was listening to. The following week I added the song to my workout playlist and to my iTunes too. I was hooked on it ever since. Like I said I listened to Kungs’ debut album a few weeks ago and loved what I heard. I can’t wait to have the album in my grasp. Until then, I plan on doing some serious listening on Spotify.

Along with Coachella, Kungs is booked to play Europe’s biggest electronic music festival, Tomorrowland. I highly recommend seeing him play Coachella this year more than any other artist or band I preview. He’s already blowing up and there’s no doubt if he continues making solid music he’ll just get bigger. He’s not a highly billed artist at Coachella this year either and in my opinion there’s something special about seeing a band or artist before they reach headlining status. That’s not to say he won’t be given a spot later in the day. The kid has already opened for David Guetta on tour so I wouldn’t put it past him. He plays Friday. Here’s what you should know if you plan on seeing him (and you should!):

  1. This Girl ( vs. Cookin’ On 3 Burners)
  2. Melody (ft. Luke Pritchard)
  3. Don’t You Know (ft. Jamie N Commons)
  4. Crazy Enough (ft. Richard Judge)
  5. Are You With Me (Kungs Remix)
  6. I Feel So Bad (ft. Ephemerals)

Honestly, just listen to Layers and you should be good.

Coachella Band Preview: The xx

Hey guess what…Coachella Band Previews are back! It was only a matter of time since the lineup release last week. Coachella is a little over 3 months away so if you’re headed out to Indio, your prep needs to begin asap. Like yesterday asap. The timing of my first preview works out perfectly because this band’s third album, I See You, comes out tomorrow! They hail from the UK and they’re called The xx.

In 2005, while still in school, Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft formed the band. Guitarist Baria Qureshi joined once the band started performing and Jamie Smith joined the year after. The group released their debut album, xx, in 2009 under the British indie label Young Turks. It received praise from critics in both the UK and America. It made Rolling Stone’s list of Best Albums of 2009 finishing 9th. Songs from the album have been featured on countless television and film productions as well as for sporting event promotions. The band also headlined its own tour in promotion of the album and earned spots at several major North American music festivals in 2010, including Coachella, Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits. In late 2009 though, band member Baria Qureshi left the band turning The xx into a trio.

In 2012 the band once again played the festival circuit in anticipation of their second album, Coexist, which was released on September 5, 2012. Coexist combines The xx’s signature sound and integrates it with a club music feel. Jamie Smith spoke before its release about the club influence on it. It’s definitely noticeable especially on songs like “Sunset” and “Swept Away”. The second album didn’t generate as much success as their debut, but was still highly anticipated.

As I said, their third album comes out tomorrow and once again the band will embark on a touring/festival circuit route for the year. They begin touring in Europe in February, head to South America for their Lollapalooza dates, and then it’s Southern California for Coachella followed by their North American tour with more festivals mixed in along the way. As for the album itself, I’ve only heard the singles that were released early, but I recently read a review from Pitchfork claiming that the album combines classic xx and the growth of each members’ talents. Obviously the challenge for any band or artist with a largely successful album is trying to replicate that success with still being able to grow as musicians and make and play the music that the band or artist wants to create. While there will never be another xx, it’s safe to say that this upcoming album sounds tremendous so far. It even caught my ear early for someone who has listened to The xx here and there throughout the last 5-6 years. Maybe it’s a long shot or maybe it’s not, but I’m predicting some good things for the new album and the band this year.

The xx plays an indie electronic style of music. It can even induce that hypnotic dream pop sound. The xx honestly combines the best of both of my worlds at this point. While searching for upbeat electronic songs to listen to while I work out, I’m constantly wondering if there are any DJ’s out there who have a more indie sound to combine with their electronic music. The xx answers that question for me. They combine guitar with digital/electronic beats and sounds. Though not necessarily the type of music I’d listen to while working out, their music is just what I’ve been looking for.

As I said, I’ve listened to The xx here and there throughout the last 5 years. I first heard them in 2011. I’m pretty sure I heard the song “Intro” while listening to the Foster the People channel on Pandora. Eventually I discovered the song “Islands” and casually enjoyed the song for the past few years. 2 months ago, before I heard about the new album, I added the song “Heart Skipped a Beat” to my newest music on iTunes. Right before I added that song, a friend of mine told me one of her top 5 favorite albums of all time was xx. I forget the other albums she said, but the mentioning of The xx interested me since I knew about them for years without really getting into them. Between the new album and the promotion from my friend of their debut, I’ve developed a recent interest in the group and I was excited to learn that they’re expected to play Coachella this year.

The xx plays Coachella on Friday and by Friday, I totally mean Friday night. There’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll either take the Main Stage before Radiohead or play a late set on the Outdoor Stage. In fact, The xx playing as the sun sets over the mountains of the Indio desert is probably the most ideal setting imaginable. No matter what setting they play in though, their set will undoubtedly be a great one and one I would surely be at. To prep for it, pick up a copy of I See You tomorrow or listen to some of these songs:

  1. Islands
  2. Intro
  3. Angels
  4. Heart Skipped A Beat
  5. Sunset
  6. Crystalised
  7. VCR