Josephine Vander Gucht

Ultralife: Album Review

Another week. Another new album. This time it’s alt-pop duo Oh Wonder. Yesterday they released the follow-up to their debut self-titled album entitled Ultralife. Unlike the year long, monthly song release project that culminated in their first album, the band released a few singles from their sophomore record over the past few months.

After getting into Oh Wonder over the past year and even more-so after Coachella, I was highly anticipating this new album. “Ultralife”, the first single from the album with the same name, which debuted in March, was a fun and instant hit in my book. The new album offers much of what their first album did, which is catchy, melodic alternative pop jams. The album fluctuates from soft, slower tunes like “My Friends”, “Bigger Than Love”, and “All About You” to songs that will make you want to get up and dance like “Ultralife” and “High on Humans”. If I had to name any difference in sound between the first two albums, it’s that I think the first album had more of an R&B feel versus the electronic/digital type of sound heard more prominently in the second album. Even so, I think my opinion might be a bit of a stretch.

I have a feeling that once I purchase this album and listen to it on repeat in my car, I’ll have a few undeniable favorites. “Overgrown” is already taking a commanding lead in that category. I give this album another high purchasing recommendation, especially if you already know and like Oh Wonder. You’ll easily be hooked on Ultralife after listening a few times. In addition to the release of their new album, Oh Wonder will be embarking on a world tour in support of the album. They’ll be in North America beginning in September so it might be worth it to catch them live too. I know I’ll be headed to a show after missing them at Coachella. In the mean time though, pick up a copy of the new album and “live ultralife.”

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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.)