Lollapalooza 2017

Bishop Briggs

2017 is almost over. It’s been such a great year in so many ways. However there were two times I could’ve done something better. I realized I failed twice this year. The first time was with Glass Animals. I started listening to them after they played a bunch of festivals I worked at. Their tour dates were also sold out by then. I found out yesterday the second time I failed was with Bishop Briggs.

Last night I was going through a few pre-made Spotify playlists looking for new music and I decided to listen to a song called “Dream” by Bishop Briggs. I’d known her name since working Coachella back in April. While working at the festival, I was taking a few of our Safari guests to their desired location while we talked about music. I mentioned I thought that BANKS had such a draw at her set that she was too big to be performing at the Gobi Tent. I said she should have been on the Main Stage or the Outdoor Stage (both allow for more space). Then one of the guests agreed and said she thought the same thing about Bishop Briggs. Up until that point Bishop Briggs was just a name on the Coachella lineup to me. I told the guest I never listened to Bishop Briggs and she started talking about her and how great she was. I told her I’d check her out. I never really did until yesterday. Fail.

Sarah Grace McLaughlin, aka Bishop Briggs, is relatively new on the music scene first making her mark with the song “Wild Horses” in 2015, then under the name “BISHOP”. She changed her name to Bishop Briggs in 2016 to avoid any legal confrontation with a metal band by the same name. The name comes from the town where her Scottish parents are from in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland. She was born in London, England but spent her formative years growing up in Tokyo and Hong Kong, eventually moving to the U.S. to attend college in Los Angeles. She developed a love for music at a young age after performing in a karaoke bar when she was 4.

After being discovered by a former A&R rep. in 2015, Bishop Briggs gained popularity when “Wild Horses” appeared in an Acura commercial. In early 2016, she released her second single “River”. The song made Alternative charts on Billboard and iTunes as well as topping Spotify’s U.S. Viral 50 chart and reaching #2 on its Global Viral 50 chart. By late 2016 “Wild Horses” started climbing the charts. The song was featured on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart and Twitter Emerging Artists chart as well as iTunes Alternative charts.

She released 3 other singles last year which culminated in her first EP which was released in limited capacity as a vinyl on Record Store Day Black Friday 2016 and in full on April 14, 2017. The full self-titled EP also featured two unreleased songs. She also contributed the song, “Mercy”, to the xXx: Return of Xander Cage Soundtrack and collaborated with Cold War Kids on their song “So Tied Up”. She’s spent time on tours opening for Coldplay, Kaleo, and alt-J as well as playing some major music festivals this past summer. She’s currently on tour opening for Bleachers.

Briggs has described her music as being a trap-soul style. Her singing is dark, deep, and soulful. Her music is also considered to be part of the indie pop, alternative rock genres. I agree with all of these classifications. To me, her sound is comparable to BANKS, but their songs differ slightly too. Bishop Briggs almost has this indie folk type sound with deeper, scratchier vocals, whereas BANKS offers cleaner vocals with more of an electronic sound to her songs. Both sing with a powerful sound though and are alternative in their own rights.

I realized shortly before starting this blog that I listened to some of Bishop Briggs’ Panorama performance this summer. I remember thinking then that she was definitely good and I’d have to spend some time listening to her. I also was exposed to her from the Cold War Kids collaboration which I heard for the first time back in June. I loved the collab. Last night her newest single, “Dream”, is what made it click for me. I fell in love with the song immediately after hearing it for the first time. So I decided to listen to her other music along with playing “Dream” on repeat a few more times. I had so many opportunities to see her this past year that I never capitalized on and one opportunity where I didn’t appreciate her enough, similar to my Glass Animals experience, which was coincidentally at Panorama too. The good part about this though is that Bishop Briggs has yet to release her first full-length album, which usually means a headlining tour. So maybe I still have a chance? Until then though I’ll just keep playing “Dream” on repeat, listen to her other songs in there too, and hope for the best. Do yourself a favor and listen to her. But, unlike me, actually do it. “Dream” is fire and her other singles are pretty damn awesome too.

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I Got Soul But I’m Not A Solider

As stoked as I was about all of my favorites releasing new music this year, there’s so many other great bands and artists releasing new music too. One of them is kind of an old favorite for me, but because of finally getting the chance to see them at Lollapalooza, they’ve become a new favorite as well.

The Killers, a rock band from, Las Vegas, Nevada first formed in 2001. After getting fired from his first band, Brandon Flowers (lead vocals, keyboards, bass) began searching for like-minded musicians to join his musical pursuit. He recruited Dave Keuning (guitar, backing vocals) to work with him after seeing an ad the musician posted in a Las Vegas newspaper. The two bonded immediately and began writing together. They recorded a demo later that year, which included the first song the pair wrote together, (and The Killers’ biggest hit) “Mr. Brightside”.

By 2002, after a few lineup changes, The Killers became solidified with the additions of Ronnie Vannucci Jr. (drums) and Mark Stoermer (bass, guitar, backing vocals). They put together their first album, Hot Fuss, in the band room at UNLV (where Vannucci was studying classical percussion) coming up with future hits like “Somebody Told Me” and “Smile Like You Mean It”. By playing small venues in the Las Vegas area, they eventually caught the attention of a few A&R reps, which lead to signing with the British label Lizard King in 2003.

The deal with Lizard King gave The Killers, whose name was derived from a logo on a bass drum of the band in the music video for New Order’s song “Crystal”, some airplay with the song “Mr. Brightside”. They were eventually noticed by American labels and signed with Island Def Jam.

The group released their debut album, Hot Fuss, in June of 2004. The album was received well worldwide going 7x Platinum in the UK and Ireland, triple Platinum in the United States, Australia, and Canada, Platinum in New Zealand, and Gold in Argentina, Belgium, Germany, and France. The Killers and their debut album received 4 Grammy nominations including Best Rock Album.

After completing the touring for Hot Fuss, The Killers began working on their second album, Sam’s Town, which was released in October 2006. The lead single, “When You Were Young”, earned the group two more Grammy nominations and the album was again well received worldwide going 5x Platinum in the UK, 4x Platinum in Ireland, 2x Platinum in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, Platinum in the United States, and Gold in Argentina, Belgium, Germany, and Russia. By 2007, The Killers began playing in large scale venues and headlined Glastonbury for the first time.

Their third album Day & Age was released two years later in October of 2008. The lead single “Human” became a worldwide hit despite a confusing lyric in its refrain (“are we dancer?”). For the third time, the band had a worldwide successful album and headlined Lollapalooza and Coachella for the first time in 2009. By 2010 though, the band decided to take a short hiatus after 6 years of going nonstop.

The group reconvened in 2011 and began touring again while working on their fourth studio album. They headlined the inaugural Firefly Music Festival in June 2012 in support of their upcoming album. They released Battle Born in September 2012. The tour for Battle Born was their most widespread, which included visits to China and Russia. The tour included their biggest show to date at the 90,000 capacity Wembley Stadium.

In 2013, the band released a greatest hits compilation, Direct Hits, which became a ten year anniversary marker of their existence. The album also featured two new songs, “Shot at the Night” and “Just Another Girl”.

In just a few short weeks, the band will be releasing their fifth album, Wonderful Wonderful. They headlined Lollapalooza three weeks ago and even played a secret set at Glastonbury in promotion of their upcoming fifth album. The first single from the new album, “The Man”, was released in late June.

It’s always a surprise to me knowing that The Killers are from Las Vegas even though I’ve known this for a while now. Every time it comes up, it’s an “Oh….yeah!” moment for me. Due to their success in the UK, they’ve seemed like a British rock band. They’re just the best non-British British rock band there is I guess. Their music style is mostly alternative and indie rock and Flowers vocals sound somewhat signature to their sound. Their style of sound gives that British rock band impression too, even though they’re from the biggest city in Nevada.

I first heard of The Killers some time around the winter of 2004 to early spring of 2005. I don’t remember the exact time and any evidence I had of listening to them around that time doesn’t exist anymore. I do know that by the spring of 2005 “Mr. Brightside” became a staple track to listen to on my way to hockey games and while I first learned how to drive. My mom also fell in love with the song since she was with me in the car when I listened to it so much. I even purchased Hot Fuss at some point and became familiar with a few songs on that record, mainly “Somebody Told Me” and “Smile Like You Mean It”. The band also appeared on one of my favorite TV shows at the time, The OC. Through the years I occasionally listened to other songs by the band, such as “When You Were Young”, which was a Guitar Hero 3 hit and “All These Things That I’ve Done” and “Spaceman”, which I actually listened to most frequently in the past 4-6 years post-college.

It wasn’t until I realized I would get to see The Killers at Lollapalooza that I began listening to them more than I ever had before. It was basically a re-discovery of a band I’ve known for over 12 years. I even learned a few “new” old hits as well. I was definitely well prepared to see them at Lolla and as a result, I thoroughly enjoyed their set. The coolest part was having my mom there, since she purchased a 1-day ticket to see them along with Foster the People and Tegan & Sara among others, and hearing them close with “Mr. Brightside”, a song we used to listen to together many years ago. There were also several other songs I enjoyed hearing live too. Seeing them perform was a long time coming, but now I know I would actually purchase tickets to see them again. They were fantastic.

I’m sure you’ve heard of The Killers at some point in the last two decades, but I suggest you re-discover them, especially if you’re like me and only listened to them in their early days. They’ve already released a few singles from their new album and have announced a world tour in support of it. They’ll be touring in the U.S. in January after playing a few U.S. festivals this fall. I promise it’ll be worth your while to see them, check them out, or just listen to their new album. If you’re already a fan, I’m sure you’re stoked so I don’t have to persuade you much. Whether you last listened to them in “February of last year”, 12 years ago, or yesterday, The Killers are still one of the best non-British British rock bands and they’re sticking around for the time being.

 

Sacred Hearts Club: Album Review

July 21st was a big day. I worked Check-In for travel packages for a Phish show and two of my favorite music artists released their new albums. I didn’t have much of a chance to listen to both because of work, but I got on it this morning. I figured I’d start with a review of Foster the People’s latest work Sacred Hearts Club because I’ll be seeing them in two weeks when I head to Chicago for my second Lollapalooza. At this point, binging on their new album is necessary.

Stylistically, their new album has a much different feel than their last two. There are songs that have the classic Foster the People sound like “Doing It For the Money” and “SHC”, which were both released in April as part of their 3 song EP entitled¬†III and others that add elements from other styles of music. “III” sounds like a deep house track. If it wasn’t for Mark Foster’s signature vocals, I’d think I was listening to a Flume song. There’s more electronic influence in songs like “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy” and “Harden” too. Foster the People has always used synth in their music but these songs just sound more electronic. Maybe it’s me and how my listening style has developed, but I’d argue regardless. I even feel like there’s a jazz influence in some of their songs, particularly in “Static Space Lover”.

As I said before, I believe this album sounds different to me, but Foster the People has been blending genres since their first record. There’s dance, punk, and hip-hop blended into their previous albums. There’s just something about this one that stands out though. The band wanted this record to be a uniting voice amongst a world filled with negativity too. I think it has the potential to be just that as many songs express camaraderie lyrically. I believe listeners will be able to relate and use this music to rise above the hate in the world.

If you asked me who my top 5 favorite bands are at this point in my life, the first band I’d name would be Foster the People. Torches is still one of my favorite albums of all time. So for me, buying this album was a no-brainer. I would have even bought it blindly. Therefore, it might be hard to believe my opinion is unbiased when I say that I think this album would appeal to more than just Foster the People fans because of the development of their music style. I promise it’s worth checking out though so do yourself a favor and pick-up a copy.

A R I Z O N A the band, not the state

It’s been two weeks since I last posted, but to be fair I had a show to work and I was sidelined with a sprained ankle (a “sprankle” if you will). I was also out of ideas for new topics. I want to be excited about everything I write here so I didn’t want to just pick something and give you a lackluster effort. The end of last week finally gave me a topic though. I saw that a band I’ve been following for the last year or so released their debut album on May 19th.

A R I Z O N A is an alternative electro-pop band from Glen Rock, New Jersey (no, not Arizona). The band is comprised of members Zach Hannah (vocals), Nathan Esquite (guitar), and David Labuguen (keyboard). The trio all attended college in Boston and initially went their separate ways before reuniting in their home state to form A R I Z O N A. The band’s name stems from a hat Dave was wearing during a random Facetime call with his bandmates.

A R I Z O N A started releasing music on streaming platforms in 2015. They’ve periodically released singles from then on. Their major breakthrough came when German electronic DJ Robin Schulz released a remix of their song “I Was Wrong” last summer. Originally the group thought of releasing an EP first, but then they realized they had enough songs to put out a full length album. Their debut album, Gallery, was released a few days ago. It contains all the music they’ve released so far plus a few new jams. The group is also playing the festival circuit this summer and embarking on their first headlining tour.

Back in November, on the night I saw Tegan and Sara, my friend and I bought tickets to the Hayley Kiyoko show that was happening in another room at the same venue. A R I Z O N A was the opener that night. I didn’t even realize they were the opener until I recognized the second song they played. It was a spontaneously awesome moment of the evening. I first started listening to them the previous winter when I heard the song “Where I Wanna Be” off a twitter recommendation and since that time I followed up with the group any time they released new music.

A R I Z O N A’s music style combines indie/alternative music with electronic music. When I first heard them I was slowly getting into electronic music. I liked an occasional song here and there (Let’s be honest, I still do). “Where I Wanna Be” was one of those songs. During the time I listened to that song frequently, I figured A R I Z O N A was probably the name of some DJ. I don’t think I even fully realized that the group was a band until I saw them perform live. It was good to know that a band like A R I Z O N A existed because most of the time electronic music to me was DJ’s. A R I Z O N A is a band. They have a lead singer (Zach). They have a guitarist (Nate), but they also have someone who plays the keyboard/synth elements of their songs (Dave) that gives their music its electronic feel.

I highly recommend checking these guys out if you’re into indie music, electronic music, or both. Even if you’re not, check this band out anyway because they have a pop element to their music as well. As I mentioned before, you can also catch them this summer. They’re playing a few big festivals (Gov Ball, Firefly, and Lollapalooza) and of course they’re touring all over too. Here’s a few songs that will make you fall for this band as much as I have:

  1. Where I Wanna Be
  2. I Was Wrong
  3. Electric Touch
  4. Cross My Mind
  5. Oceans Away