James Murphy

Coachella 2023 Lineup Review

10 days into January and the Coachella lineup has dropped. After balloons in the sky showed up in LA and NY and Coachella billboards popped up in cities worldwide last week, we knew the drop was coming at any moment. Shortly after 3 PM EST/12 PM PST yesterday, the 2023 Coachella lineup dropped. At the moment of the release, I was about to start a team meeting and I dropped to my knee with joy exclaiming, “The Coachella lineup just dropped!” I can’t say I remember much from our meeting as I was distracted the entire time. I also can’t say I’m surprised or impressed with this year’s mix of artists.

I feel like every year since I’ve started this blog has been an ongoing trend of the lineup getting worse and worse. This year feels like it takes the trash cake for me. For the first time since I started being interested in Coachella, there’s no standout act for me. There’s no top artist. It’s just a handful of artists I barely listen to. I could go on about it generally or talk about it in depth so here it is, the Coachella 2023 Lineup:

The Headliners: Bad Bunny, BLACKPINK, Frank Ocean, Calvin Harris

The true headliners based on the poster are Bad Bunny, BLACKPINK, and Frank Ocean. I included Calvin Harris based on his solo poster spot because we all know he’s going to be a headliner. Frank Ocean was scheduled to play in 2020 and of course the covo ruined it all. In the months that followed the inevitable 2020 cancellation, news of Frank skipping 2022 and playing 2023 circulated. Frank Ocean last played Coachella in 2012 so his highly anticipated return is very overdue. Calvin Harris was also scheduled to play 2020 as the first name under Friday night headliner Rage Against the Machine. His last time playing the festival was 2016. Meanwhile both Bad Bunny and BLACKPINK played in 2019 as highly billed acts with BLACKPINK playing an 8:00 p.m. set at Sahara on Friday night and Bad Bunny playing the main stage at sunset Sunday. These headlining performances for both acts will mark Coachella firsts as BLACKPINK will be the first K-pop group to headline the festival and Bad Bunny will be the first Latin artist to headline.

Am I excited? Not really. If I see anyone, it’ll be Calvin Harris. I don’t know a single song by any of the other artists. I’m not into Latin music. I may or may not enjoy some K-pop because I had a friend obsessed with BTS a few years ago and Frank Ocean just hasn’t ever hit for me. However, I might give him a second chance because he doesn’t often perform. Generally though, I’m disappointed with this selection, but it seems to be what’s in right now and Coachella has always set the bar with that.

The Other Highly Billed Performers: Despacio, Gorillaz, Burna Boy, the Chemical Brothers, Kaytranada, Blondie, Becky G, Metro Boomin, FKJ, Pusha T, Tobe Nwigwe, Wet Leg, SG Lewis, Yves Tumor, the Garden, TESTPILOT, Angèle, MUNA, Maceo Plex, ROSALÍA, Eric Pyrdz presents HOLO, boygenius, $uicideboy$, the Kid LAROI, Charli XCX, Labrinth, Underworld, Diljit Dosanjh, Eladio Carrión, SOFI TUKKER, Remi Wolf, Chromeo, Tale Of Us, Yung Lean, Mura Masa, Yaeji, 070 Shake, Björk, Kali Uchis, Porter Robinson, Fisher + Chris Lake, A Boogie, Dominic Fike, Jai Paul, Jackson Wang, Latto, the Blaze, Willow, GloRilla, Jai Wolf, Boris Brejcha, 2manydjs, Christine and the Queens, Rae Sremmurd

This mix of big names is where you’ll find all the legacy acts with names like the Chemical Brothers, who last played in 1999, the first year of the festival, Blondie, and Björk, who was the first female artist to headline Coachella. There’s a few names in this list that I listen to occasionally who I plan to check out at the festival. I can’t help but be excited about this small group of legendary artists, but I can’t hype myself too much because Blondie and the Chemical Brothers both play Friday night and I work until 8 p.m. From this list, I’m most excited that LCD Soundsystem frontman, James Murphy, will be playing with his side project Despacio all weekend according to the poster. Another notable from this mix for me is indie rock supergroup, boygenius, composed of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus. They don’t often perform together so this should be a special one in Indio. Alternative rock band Gorillaz, who last played the festival when they headlined in 2010, will be fun to check out as well. I’ll also probably want to check out Wet Leg, MUNA, Chromeo, Remi Wolf, Porter Robinson, and Jai Wolf if I get the chance too. I’m sure I’ll discover other indie/alternative rock or electronic artists to listen to in this mix but for now, these are the names that stick out.

The Undercards: Two Friends, YUNGBLUD, Jamie Jones, Ashnikko, Malaa, TV Girl, Whyte Fang, Doechii, BENEE, Idris Elba, Magdalena Bay, Vintage Culture, Domi & JD Beck, Dombresky, DannyLux, Nora En Pure, Overmono, Uncle Waffles, ¿Téo?, Mochakk, Gabriels, Saba, Dennis Cruz + PAWSA, Soul Glo, Lava La Rue, Sleaford Mods, the Comet is Coming, Oliver Koletzki, Kyle Watson, the Murder Capital, Chris Stussy, Jupiter & Okwess, Lewis OfMan, Juliet Mendoza, Desert Cahuilla Bird Singers, Marc Rebillet, Hiatus Kaiyote, Dinner Party, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Elderbrook, Kenny Beats, Flo Milli, Keinemusik, Snail Mail, Rebelution, Hot Since 82, EARTHGANG, UMI, Shenseea, the Breeders, Monolink, Ethel Cain, Bakar, Donavan’s Yard, the Linda Lindas, Sunset Rollercoaster, NIA ARCHIVES, Jan Blomqvist, DRAMA, WhoMadeWho, Destroy Boys, Elyanna, DJ Tennis, Carlita, AG Club, Mathame, BRATTY, Horsegirl, Colyn, Chloé Caillet, Scowl, Francis Mercier, Weyes Blood, Alex G, DPR LIVE + DPR IAN, Stick Figure, Adam Beyer, Big Wild, MK, Cannons, Romy, Gordo, Fousheé, Noname, Sasha & John Digweed, Sudan Archives, Knocked Loose, Camelphat, IDK, Sasha Alex Sloan, Mareux, 1999.ODDS, Pi’erre Bourne, Cassian, Joy Crookes, TSHA, El Michels Affair, Paris Texas, LP Giobbi, Momma, Ali Sethi, Minus the Light, Los Bitchos, Conexión Divina, Airrica

The undercards this year have a handful of names I’d like to see, such as YUNGBLUD, who was scheduled to play in 2020. I missed him at ACL this past fall and I like a few of his songs so I would love to check out his Coachella set. I’ve listened to electronic artists, Two Friends, here and there as well and hope I can catch their performance. However, it’s another Friday set and everything Friday will be TBD for me until the set times get released. I think out of all the artists playing this year I actually listen to Elderbrook the most. I’ll likely want to check out Alex G too. I started getting in to him in anticipation of his 2020 appearance, but that was short lived. Big Wild, MK, and Sasha Alex Sloan are a few other artists I’d like to catch as well.

Coachella has always been ahead of the game when it comes to new music and pushing a multitude of genres. Unfortunately for me, the kind of music I listen to isn’t what’s hot these days. Like I’ve mentioned in years past, Coachella has become a place of music discovery for me. I wish I could hear a ton of bands I already love and listen to, but this does help me stay fresh. I usually have a few acts that I love. This year though Paul missed the mark for me. I’m still incredibly excited. Even when the lineup isn’t great, it’s still great. It’s Coachella. It can’t be bad. The vibes are always immaculate. There will be surprises, guest appearances, and celebs for days. I think the fashion faded away from flower crowns, but we’ll certainly see the finest in festival fashion come April. I can’t wait to be out there. Until then, look forward to weekly blog posts previewing all these bands I just mentioned. Happy Coachella season everyone! Let’s get back to the desert!

American Dream: Album Review

Summer 2017 has almost reached its conclusion. There’s only a few weeks left, but after Labor Day, pumpkin spice lattes are all the rage, temps start decreasing, and sweaters and flannels cover the upper torsos of most. Summer isn’t officially over until September 22nd, but still we’re less than a month away.

That being said this summer was epic for both me and the rest of the music world. I worked all over the country, had amazing experiences, made new friends, and strengthened relationships with old friends. It was incredible. It was also incredible because a plethora of new albums were released this summer by so many of my favorite bands and artists. Before the end of summer though, there’s one more highly anticipated album that was just released. The album was a long time coming for NYC alternative dance band, LCD Soundsystem. So after 7 long years, an apparent break-up, a final show at Madison Square Garden and a film to tell its tale, a Christmas song, and a comeback no one ever thought was happening, American Dream is here.

American Dream is the 4th full length album from James Murphy and his posse. This album is more melodious than their previous works, yet it combines the great electronic/techno indie dance style that LCD Soundsystem is known for. If you’re looking for that classic LCD sound, look to the songs “tonite”, “call the police”, “emotional haircut”, and “other voices”. Songs like “change yr mind” and “how do you sleep?” combine a dance style with more melody, as they both start slow and build to a pace where you’re able to get into the groove.

LCD Soundsystem records have been known to include a slower song or something with more melody on more than one occasion. “New York I Love, But You’re Bringing Me Down” or “All I Want” are perfect examples of this. Each are on separate albums though. The latest from LCD Soundsystem incorporates 4 of these kind of tracks with “oh baby”, “i used to”, “american dream”, and “black screen”. “i used to” and “black screen” remind me of songs I’d hear from bands like Brand New or Circa Survive. They have an alternative rock/post-hardcore feel where all that’s missing is Murphy adding some screaming to his vocals. “oh baby” and “american dream” are filled with love, longing, and nostalgia lyrics reminiscent to the waltz style track “New York I Love You…”.

Normally I hate when bands change their sound, but in this case LCD Soundsystem hasn’t really changed much. They’re still playing the same style of music that made them famous in the mid to late 00’s. They’re just progressing. They got older even though they were never that young to begin with. They’re the same, but new. Anyway, to me, this record is one that no one ever thought they’d hear and LCD Soundsystem is back with a vengeance.

I urge you to check out this album. I first started listening to LCD Soundsystem in 2012 (yes after they broke up!) but fell in love with them all over again last summer after preparing for and seeing them live at Lollapalooza. They’re different than most bands I’m into and most bands you might listen to, but they combine an EDM style of music with an indie style. You just can’t help but want to dance yrself clean when you listen to them.

Almost every show on their upcoming tour is already sold out and they haven’t even begun to play shows yet. There’s no question that the rest of the shows will sell out in due time. So if you plan on seeing the revival of LCD Soundsystem on their touring circuit this time around, you either have to grab a ticket to one of the few remaining shows quickly, buy an overpriced resale ticket, or you’re S.O.L. Fortunately I have tickets to their upcoming tour and plenty of time to indulge in this new masterpiece of an album. Their American shows begin in mid-October so for those looking to see a live performance you have plenty of time as well as long as you start today. Check out American Dream as soon as you can!

Coachella Band Preview: LCD Soundsystem

Coachella is almost exactly 3 months away. Since the lineup release over a week ago, the days until the annual festival in the desert are decreasing. That only means one thing. It’s time to prep. Start planning your festival attire. Get out the sun tan lotion and listen to some tunes by the bands playing the event this year. As I said last week, even though I won’t be attending Coachella this year (unless there’s some spontaneous miracle), I plan on previewing the bands playing Coachella 2016 in the same way I did last year. The first band on my list is one of the headliners this year, LCD Soundsystem.

Formed in 2001 from New York City, LCD Soundsystem is the brainchild of singer-songwriter, record producer, and DJ, James Murphy. Murphy is also the co-founder of dance music record label DFA Records. Until the 2005 release of their self-titled debut album, LCD Soundsystem only released singles. Their debut album however received much acclaim including a Grammy nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album. The single “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” received a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording in the same year. LCD Soundsystem released their second album, Sound of Silver, in 2007 and it too received a Grammy nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album. Their third album, This Is Happening, came out in May 2010. It received top-ten status in the United States and was the group’s first album to do so. It was also listed as the number two album of 2010 by Pitchfork and the number 10 album of 2010 by Rolling Stone. Then in early 2011 the band announced on their website that they planned to call it quits, but not before one last farewell show to be played at Madison Square Garden in April. The final four hour long show took place on April 2, 2011 and was filmed as part of a live concert documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits, which was released the following year. Such was the end of LCD Soundsystem…or so we thought.

In late 2015 rumors began swirling that LCD Soundsystem would be reuniting in 2016 and playing some major music festivals. Then on Christmas Eve, a mere 3 weeks ago, the group released their first single in over 5 years “Christmas Will Break Your Heart”. A little over a week later, on January 4, 2016, it was announced the group would be headlining Coachella. The following day, via the group’s website, James Murphy posted this message to fans confirming the reunion of the much loved electronic/dance/punk group.

I was late to the LCD Soundsystem party, first hearing of the group after their “final” show in late 2011. It wasn’t even until over a year after the “final” show that I downloaded any of their music to my iTunes. The first song I heard by the group was “Dance Yrself Clean” and it’s still one of my favorite LCD Soundsystem songs. I eventually listened to more of their music and purchased their self-titled album on vinyl (it’s great on vinyl by the way). I do have to say though that if it wasn’t for my favorite acting/Hollywood couple and fellow music enthusiasts, Troian Bellisario and Patrick J. Adams, I wouldn’t have known this group at all. Thanks guys for the great recommendations!

As I mentioned, LCD Soundsystem is an electronic/dance/punk/alternative style music group. They were around before a lot of today’s EDM artists. Their style is a little different than the current EDM style though. Their music has more of an alternative/punk element. I feel like recent EDM is more pop. Also unlike current EDM artists, LCD Soundsystem’s music features an assortment of instruments and electronic devices, hence the whole “soundsystem” aspect. The group also features a variety of members who played the live shows as part of the group over the years. The most notable members include, Nancy Whang, Pat Mahoney, and Tyler Pope, but include at least 9 more individuals who have played for the band.  Murphy played the majority of the instruments himself while recording the albums.

If I were attending Coachella this year, the LCD Soundsystem set would be one of my most anticipated sets. They join the 2016 festival as a main headliner with Guns N’ Roses, who are also reuniting for Coachella, and Calvin Harris. Murphy and his pals play Saturday night. The LCD Soundsystem set should draw a huge crowd, especially with the large contingency of dance music fans who attend the festival. Not sure if I’ll be able to stay up to watch them perform, but I definitely have planned to try to find a video of their set afterwards. I’m a little jealous I won’t be at Coachella to see them live. Guess I’ll just have to catch an upcoming show somewhere else since the group is getting back together. To get you ready for Saturday night on the main stage though, play these hits:

  1. Dance Yrself Clean
  2. All My Friends
  3. Daft Punk is Playing at My House
  4. Drunk Girls
  5. Someone Great
  6. New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down
  7. Tribulations
  8. I Can Change
  9. Yeah
  10. North American Scum
  11. Tribulations