Lollapalooza

Coachella Band Preview: Rage Against the Machine

Week 2 in Mexico and I’m back with another Coachella Band Preview. It’s kind of funny actually. This is my 6th year of doing band previews for Coachella. When I first started, most acts I previewed were bands. Now it feels like this week’s preview is one of the only bands I’m previewing this year. A lot of the other acts I’m interested in are DJs and singers. It makes me sad, yet hopeful there will be a Coachella when I’m back to previewing bands. For now let’s take a look at legendary political rock band and inaugural Coachella performers, Rage Against the Machine.

Rage Against the Machine formed in 1991 in Los Angeles, California. The band is comprised of lead vocalist Zack de la Rocha, guitarist Tom Morello, bassist and backing vocalist Tim Commerford, and drummer Brad Wilk. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1992. The album went on to critical and commercial success. It includes their most well-known song to date “Killing in the Name” and earned them a spot at Lollapalooza in 1993. They released two more albums Evil Empire (1996) and The Battle of Los Angeles (1999). After the release of their cover album Renegades in 2000, the band broke-up over creative difference with de la Rocha.

In the years following their break-up, the remaining members united with Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell to form the band Audioslave. Audioslave released several albums in the 00’s before breaking up in 2007. That year brought back Rage Against the Machine though. The band reunited to play Coachella. They stayed together for a few years after playing shows and festivals worldwide. Now 20 years after their last album, they’re reuniting at Coachella again. There’s also a rumor that they’re planning a tour in 2020, so maybe Coachella won’t be the only place where you can see RATM this year.

Their music is well-known for it’s unique hip-hop style of rock/metal music. Like their name describes, it’s also very well-known for being politically progressive. De la Rocha’s vocals are where the hip-hop influence comes in to their music as well as in Morello’s guitar technique. However the sound itself is very rock and metal heavy.

Rage Against the Machine headlines the main stage on Friday night. You can expect moshing. You can expect a wild time. You can also expect Coachella at its roots. Rage Against the Machine is one of the only legacy/rock acts to play the festival this year, which makes it a special set for old school Coachella fans. I’m pretty stoked myself. One of my high school friends introduced me to Rage Against the Machine shortly after I graduated. Although I’m not familiar with all of their songs, I know the big ones and I’m excited to see Rage Against the Machine play. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to the festival to see it. With the political climate in America these days, Rage Against the Machine is just what we all need to take out any frustrations we have. Before you head to the pit Friday night, here’s a few songs you might want to check out first:

  1. Killing in the Name
  2. Bulls on Parade
  3. Guerrilla Radio
  4. Testify
  5. Wake Up
  6. Know Your Enemy
  7. Sleep Now in the Fire
  8. Take the Power Back
  9. Bullet in the Head
  10. How I Could Just Kill a Man (Cypress Hill cover)

Top Albums of the Decade

For the last few years, I’ve been ending each year with a list of my faves in music from the past year. I plan on doing it again but since 2019 is the last year in this decade I thought I’d also include a list of my favorite albums of the last 10 years. I definitely have a clear cut favorite and second favorite, but after those two, there’s really no particular order.

This list is defined by albums that I’ve listened to in full for days, weeks, months, or just repeatedly for no set amount of time. It’s a list of albums that I couldn’t get enough of. My two favorites on this list have been in my car since I bought them in 2011 and 2012. I still listen to them occasionally. You could probably chalk them up on the list of my favorite albums of all time, but the others are special to me as well.

So let’s get down to it. Here are my top 15 (plus a few honorable mentions!) favorite albums of the 2010’s:

Torches -Foster the People (2011)

My absolute, number one, favorite album and Foster the People’s debut album. I wrote once about how Foster the People really shaped the music I got into this decade going from being into punk/emo/alternative music to indie pop/indie rock. This album did it for me in 2011. Foster the People was a new, hype band on the music scene. They played SXSW and Coachella the spring before their first album dropped. When I got into them I learned about Coachella for the first time. So this band and album really shaped a lot about this decade for me.

I’ve loved Torches from top to bottom since I purchased it in May 2011. “Helena Beat” was the first song that hooked me, but despite any criticism it’s received over the years, “Pumped Up Kicks” kept me around. It’s filled with other bangers like “Houdini” and “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)”, but it has plenty of underrated hits like “Call It What You Want”, “I Would Do Anything For You”, “Life on the Nickel” and “Warrant”. Since I bought a record player in 2012, I’ve been adamant about not purchasing records that I already have on CD. This month I broke that rule for this album. It’s one of my all-time favorite works of music and the best of this decade for me. It was about time that I own it on vinyl too.

Born to Die -Lana Del Rey (2012)

Born to Die is Lana Del Rey’s debut album. It came out in 2012 and I’ve loved it ever since. I listened to it constantly once I bought it. Like Torches, it’s the only other album that’s stayed in my car since I purchased it. I remember thinking Lana Del Rey and her music were completely ridiculous when I bought the album, but I fell into it and the rest of her music. It was the song “National Anthem” that convinced me. It’s still my favorite Lana Del Rey song to this day. “Diet Mountain Dew” was always another favorite of mine as well. Born to Die is filled with several other classics like “Born to Die” the title track, “Blue Jeans”, “Off to the Races”, “Video Games” the album’s first single, and Lana’s biggest hit “Summertime Sadness”. I’ll always love Pabst Blue Ribbon because of “This Is What Makes Us Girls” too.  This album was always on in my car for a few months in the summer of 2012. It got me into Lana Del Rey and she became one of my favorite artists of the decade as well.

Days Are Gone -HAIM (2013)

In early 2014, I discovered the sister trio band Haim. I decided to buy their debut album Days Are Gone because I liked their songs “Falling” and “Don’t Save Me”. I might have taken a risk on two songs but it was a great risk to take. I loved the album and had it in my car for quite some time. I really got into “The Wire”. I also loved “If I Could Change Your Mind”, “Forever”, “Honey & I”, and “Days Are Gone” in addition to the others I already liked.

I had Haim’s album in my car for a very long time as well. It ended up on repeat in my car once again in the summer of 2016 shortly before I saw them perform for the first time at my first Lollapalooza. It’s definitely an album I’ve loved a lot this decade and the reason why I’ve loved Haim a lot too.

An Awesome Wave -alt-J (2012)

Compared to the rest of the albums on this list An Awesome Wave is a little bit different for me. I got it on vinyl years after I started listening to the music on it. I also listened to each song at different points. It all started with “Breezeblocks” though. Pretty Little Liars actress Troian Bellisario posted about the song on social media and after listening once, I downloaded the song. Then a day later it was “Something Good”. Then “Fitzpleasure”, “Taro”, and “Tessellate”, in that order, through the course of 5 years. In the meantime, their second album This is All Yours came out and “Left-Hand Free” became my jam too. When I saw them perform at Coachella in 2018, I was with several co-workers when we all danced freely to “Dissolve Me”. By that point their third album Relaxer was already out as well. I got into “Dissolve Me” though and decided last year that it was time to own An Awesome Wave. I then completed listening to the album by getting into “Matilda”, “Ms”, “Bloodflood”, and “Hand-Made”.

An Awesome Wave really spanned the decade for me, but so did alt-J. I saw them play about 5 times over the last 5 years and it’s always been an enjoyable set every time. Their unique sound has always been a catch for me and I’m sure they’ll be releasing new music in this new decade before we know it.

21 -Adele (2011)

Up until I got into Adele’s album, 21, I despised pop music. The song “Rolling in the Deep” was the one that really got me interested in Adele. It was on a sampler CD from my local record store. I bought the album around the same time I bought Torches and both albums became the soundtrack to one of my favorite vacations of all time. I listened to both albums repeatedly on that early June trip to Williamsburg, Virginia and my love for Adele began.

Of course I was into 25 when it came out in late 2015 and 19 somewhere around that time, but it was 21 that made me feel okay with liking a pop artist again. I also just really liked the album. “Rumour Has It”, “Set Fire to Rain”, “Someone Like You”, “I’ll Be Waiting”, and “One and Only” are pretty great songs even though “Rolling in the Deep” always has my heart. 21 does too. It came out of the blue uninvited, but it came to stay.

Heartthrob -Tegan and Sara (2013)

I got into Tegan and Sara while I was still in college in 2009, but their album Heartthrob really made me a fan. It was the album that put them into the mainstream music world for a bit. I didn’t get into the album until a year after its release in 2014. I fell hard for it though. It became the soundtrack of another trip to Williamsburg, Virginia. The hit song “Closer” was the one that suckered me in. I got into so many others though like “I Was A Fool”, “I’m Not Your Hero”, “Drove Me Wild”, “Now I’m All Messed Up” and “Goodbye, Goodbye”. Heartthrob revitalized my interest in Tegan and Sara and I’ve been a bigger fan ever since because of it.

Pure Heroine -Lorde (2013)

I was introduced to Lorde in the summer of 2013 from her breakout song “Royals”. From there I also got into the song “Tennis Court” and “Bravado”. I remember anticipating her debut album during my first trip to California especially because of the line in “Tennis Court” that goes “pretty soon I’ll be getting on my first plane.” That flight to California wasn’t my first flight, but it was my first flight in 9 years. I purchased the album as soon as I got home from Cali. It was my go-to album for a few weeks as I got into several other tracks on the record like “400 Lux”, “Team”, “White Teeth Teens”, “Glory and Gore”, and “A World Alone”.

Sacred Hearts Club -Foster the People (2017)

In the last 10 years Foster the People solidified their spot as my favorite band. I remember being so excited for their second album after Torches but Supermodel didn’t quite live up to my expectations. After their sophomore release, it was then a few years of silence before the group released new tunes. 2017 was one of the best years in music of this decade for me. It was filled with great albums by plenty of my favorite bands and artists, which included Sacred Hearts Club by Foster the People.

Foster the People dropped three songs from the record in the spring “Pay the Man”, “Doing it For the Money”, and “SHC” and I listened to those three quite frequently until the album came out in July. When it did, I immediately fell in love with the song “Sit Next to Me”. I listened to it non-stop along with the rest of the album and songs like “Lotus Eater”, “Static Space Lover”, “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy”, and “I Love My Friends”. It was only about 2 weeks after the album dropped that I was able to see Foster the People live again at Lollapalooza (the last time I saw them was in 2014). They were incredible. I then bought tickets to see them play in Philly in September as a treat to myself after my position was cut from a festival I was supposed to work. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to and was filled with 2 full hours of music from my favorite band including the best encore that I could have ever imagined. I caught the set list too! I owe that night to Foster the People and Sacred Hearts Club.

Wild World -Bastille (2016)

When Bastille’s sophomore album dropped, I got into Bastille. Sure I knew about Bastille before that. There were a few songs I liked from Bad Blood. Some might even argue saying Bastille’s Bad Blood really set the tone for the band, but for me it was the second album Wild World. “Good Grief” and “Send Them Off!” were always my go-to songs, but “The Currents”, “Power”, “Warmth”, and “Blame” were great songs as well. I listened to the album for weeks. Bastille recently released their third album this year. Even though the album is great, it still doesn’t do for me what Wild World did.

Ultraviolence -Lana Del Rey (2014)

Lana Del Rey’s second album was highly anticipated for me after my love of Born to Die. In between the albums, she also released the EP Paradise which was another incredible compilation of music. When Ultraviolence came out, it successfully did for me what Foster the People’s Supermodel couldn’t and since both Foster the People and Lana Del Rey were my faves I expected the best from them. Ultraviolence gave me that. “Money Power Glory”, “Brooklyn Baby”, “Ultraviolence”, “West Coast”, and “Fucked My Way Up To The Top” were my favorites. The album picked up where Born to Die left off and that’s all you can really ask from a band or artist.

Melodrama -Lorde (2017)

I always knew Foster the People and Lana Del Rey would be on this list more than once, but who knew I liked Lorde so much? Melodrama was also an incredible follow-up album to Pure Heroine. Like Sacred Hearts Club, it was part of that 2017 wave of new music. Lorde released the first single “Green Light” in early March. That song got me stoked for the new album because it was an absolute banger. Then she dropped “Liability”. I hated the song at first. It took hearing the song live on the last night of Coachella Weekend 2 to make me fall in love with it. The album released 2 months later and I remember being so pleased with how good it was. “Homemade Dynamite”, “Perfect Places”, “Sober”, and “Supercut” added to my love for “Green Light” and “Liability” made the album a hit. I wasn’t the only one that thought so either since it was nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year.

Woodstock -Portugal. The Man (2017)

Who would have thought Portugal. The Man would have made a statement with their 8th album? They did though and it was the hit “Feel It Still” that did it. The entirety of Woodstock is fantastic though. In fact, I feel like “Feel It Still” is the song that doesn’t quite fit with the album. The first time I heard the song I thought it was Electric Guest but was shocked to find out it was in fact Portugal. The Man, whose song “People Say” was one of my favorites when I was a radio DJ in college. “Live in the Moment”, “Tidal Wave”, “Number One”, and “Keep On” are a few other great jams from Woodstock. The album left an impression and I’m sure we’ll be feeling it still even when Portugal. The Man releases more music.

El Camino -The Black Keys (2012)

The Black Keys had plenty of albums before El Camino and those albums, particularly its pre-cursor Brothers, were big in the indie rock music scene. El Camino is the album that got me into The Black Keys though. I got the album in 2012 and saw the band perform live two years later. “Lonely Boy” was the song that got me started on The Black Keys, but El Camino was full of hits like “Gold on the Ceiling”, “Little Black Submarine”, “Stop Stop” and “Dead and Gone”. I learned how to play a few of those on guitar too. The Black Keys haven’t stopped making music in the last decade and have released two albums since El Camino, the most recent being this year, but El Camino will always be special to me.

Heard It In A Past Life -Maggie Rogers (2019)

Last winter I debated buying this album on vinyl while I was listening to Maggie Rogers as part of my Coachella preparations. Ultimately I decided with the help of my instagram followers that I should buy the vinyl. I did and it was a great purchase. The debut album from Maggie Rogers is a thing of beauty. “Light On”, “Fallingwater”, “Give a Little”, “Alaska”, and “Burning” are incredible. Oh and there’s also “Back in My Body”, but I’ll get more into that song when I recap this past year. The album was one of my favorites of the last year and I was pretty shocked when it didn’t get a Grammy nomination. The album is still tops in my book and one of my favorites of the last decade.

This Is Happening -LCD Soundsystem (2010)

When I think about it, there’s only three words that can describe This Is Happening: “Dance Yrself Clean”. It was the song that got me into LCD Soundsystem a year after the “final” show at Madison Square Garden thanks to Suits actor Patrick J. Adams and Troian Bellisario (yes, again!). Over the years I got into LCD Soundsystem and their small-ish, but excellent discography. I never thought I’d be able to see the band until right before Christmas in 2015 when the band dropped a Christmas song, “Christmas Will Break Your Heart” (which I’ve actually listened to twice today) which sort of signified their return. A few weeks later they were on the Coachella lineup and officially back. They dropped a new album American Dream in 2017 and I was able to see them twice once they returned, at Lollapalooza in 2016 and at my favorite venue in Philly in 2017 with a friend who was actually at their “last” show.

Oddly enough, I don’t own This Is Happening in any form. It kind of doesn’t fit this list in that regard, except it’s kind of like An Awesome Wave. I’ve listened to all the songs on this album at different points over the last decade. “Drunk Girls” is one of my favorite LCD Soundsystem songs. “You Wanted A Hit” was the song I got into after seeing them play for the first time. Then there’s “I Can Change”, “Home” and “All I Want”, which I actually just got into recently. Over the last 10 years, LCD Soundsystem earned a special place in my heart, but I sort of owe that to This Is Happening.

Honorable Mentions:

The 1975 -The 1975 (2013)

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful -Florence + the Machine (2015)

AM -Arctic Monkeys (2013)

Without Fear -Dermot Kennedy (2019)

So there you have it. All my favorite albums from the last 10 years. Actually, there’s probably more, but these are the ones that stood out the most. Thanks to music for all that I love and thanks to these great bands and artists for putting amazing tunes into the world. I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years brings or where music will take me both personally and professionally. I can only hope for the best, but so far it’s been nothing short of incredible.

First the Window, Then It’s to the Wall

Last week I worked my third Lollapalooza in the box office/ticketing department, but for the first time, I managed my own ticket help. Lolla was where I started working in ticketing 2 years ago so it felt like a full circle moment being able to work Lolla in a higher position. Another full circle moment happened on Saturday night when I was able to see Vampire Weekend. I found out about the band in 2008 way before I was even into the indie rock scene. A friend of mine in my Music 101 class in college told me about them. He was also the first person to tell me about Lollapalooza so being able to say the first time I saw Vampire Weekend was at Lollapalooza is super cool and special to me. All that aside, much like Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend is back from their 5 year hiatus and will be releasing a new album soon!

Vampire Weekend was formed when founding members Ezra Koenig (vocals, guitar), Chris Tomson (drums), Chris Baio (bass, backing vocals), and Rostam Batmanglij (keyboard) were in college at Columbia University. Their name comes from a summer project of Koenig’s inspired by the 1980 film The Lost Boys. With the project, he decided to create basically the Northeastern version of the film. The project also inspired the song “Walcott” as well even though he abandoned it after working on the short film for only a few days. The band started playing shows around 2006 by performing at battle of the bands around Columbia. Then in 2007 they opened for The Shins on their UK tour. They self-produced their self-titled debut album while simultaneously working full time jobs. The album was released on January 29, 2008. It peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart and number 15 on the UK Albums Chart.

Vampire Weekend’s second album Contra was released just short of 2 years later. It debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200. The band also began a large festival circuit in 2010 making stops at Coachella, Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, and Glastonbury. They had played their first Lollapalooza the previous summer. They also toured in support of the album in 2010. Contra was nominated for a Grammy for Best Alternative Album, but did not win.

Their most recent album to date Modern Vampires of the City was released in May 2013 after much talk of its release in 2011 and 2012. Like Contra, it debuted at number 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums Chart making them the first indie rock band to accomplish this feat with two consecutive albums. The album won Vampire Weekend a Grammy for Best Alternative Album in 2014.

In 2016, Rostam Batmanglij announced his leave from Vampire Weekend via Twitter, but also noted that he would still continue to collaborate with Ezra Koenig. Koenig confirmed this by saying the band was working on a new album with help from Batmanglij. At Lollapalooza last week, the band announced that the 4th album was complete after playing a set list of all old hits including the song “A-Punk” three times in a row to open the set (…and I missed it!).

Vampire Weekend is a pretty standard indie rock band. Their sound is a mixture of indie rock, indie pop, baroque pop, afro-pop, and art pop. Most of their hits have an upbeat, joyfulness to their sound. You can’t help but want to dance to their tracks like “A-Punk”, “Unbelievers”, or “Diane Young”.

As I said, I found out about Vampire Weekend 10 years ago. I kept up with them by periodically adding songs to my iTunes as new releases would come out. I never saw them live though, until last week. They were on my “must-see” list for a while. Since seeing them last week, I haven’t been able to stop listening to them. It was like Lollapalooza revitalized Vampire Weekend for me. It did the same thing for me last year with The Killers. I guess that’s another reason why I like Lollapalooza so much.

If you haven’t been listening to Vampire Weekend for the last 10 years or started somewhere in between there, here’s my call for you to listen to them asap. An album release date for their fourth full length has yet to be announced, but it’s coming soon! I’m sure I’ll probably review it once it’s out, but until then there’s tons of jams to help you wait it out. I swear. Like Lil Jon, I always tell the truth.

Coachella Band Preview: Kygo

Another week down means another week less to prep for Coachella 2018, but it also means it’s time for another band preview. I feel like I need to re-name this blog series. When I started it in 2015, I was mostly into bands. Since then, my taste in electronic music has grown. Also as you know, this year’s Coachella lineup has way less bands than in prior years. For now, just know that my band previews encompass singers and artists too, which includes this week’s preview as well.

Kygo aka Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll is a Norwegian DJ, producer, and musician. He started taking piano lessons as a child and continued until he was a teenager when he began to produce his own music using a keyboard and recording software. He was also halfway through a college degree in business and finance by the time he decided to pursue music full-time.

Kygo’s break-through hit came in 2014 when he released the single “Firestone” ft. Conrad Sewell. In the same year he was contacted by Avicii and Chris Martin of Coldplay to remix the Coldplay song “Midnight”. He then supported Avicii on tour.

In 2015 his music was featured in a trailer for the Ultra Music Festival, a well-known electronic festival that takes place in Miami, FL, as well as being a featured headliner for Lollapalooza. He also released 4 more singles that year which paved the way for his debut studio album to be released in 2016. His debut was released on May 16, 2016 entitled Cloud Nine. The album featured collaborations with several artists including John Legend, Angus & Julia Stone, Foxes, James Vincent McMorrow, Maty Noyes, and more. Kygo also played at the closing ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

In 2017 Kygo released two singles that lead up to an EP and his second full length studio album. The EP, Stargazing, included both singles “It Ain’t Me” ft. Selena Gomez and “First Time” ft. Ellie Goulding. Kygo’s second album Kids In Love was just released in November.

Kygo’s tropical house style originated from him trying to imitate his hero, Swedish DJ/producer Avicii. He eventually found his own sound by slowing it down into a dreamy, light synth type sound. He was really one of the first DJ’s to popularize the style which originates from deep house, a subgenre of house music.

I feel like I started listening to Kygo just because of my interest in his style of electronic music. Although he’s known as one of the originators, I discovered the style through listening to Matoma and Sam Feldt first. I’m not even sure when I first listened to Kygo. It was obviously sometime over the last 2-3 years and it was definitely the song “Stay” that I was into. I can’t even say I’m into that many Kygo songs. I was hooked on “First Time” last summer though. I honestly just think his Coachella performance will be fun because I like his style of music so I would totally want to catch his set if I was attending.

Kygo plays on Friday at Coachella. In my opinion Friday has the weakest lineup, but Kygo is one of the bright spots. He’ll probably close out the Sahara tent Friday night or he might even take to the Outdoor Stage as the last slot, which may overlap The Weeknd. Either way, there’s no question he’ll be a late night set. If you plan on catching him, I recommend getting there with plenty of time. No matter where he’s playing it’s sure to be packed. He’ll be setting the vibe for the rest of the weekend that night. To me, there’s something about tropical house being played in the SoCal desert amongst the palms that sets the mood. Here’s a few songs that will get you ready for that moment Friday night:

1. Stay (ft. Maty Noyes)

2. Stole the Show (ft. Parson James)

3. It Ain’t Me (ft. Selena Gomez)

4. First Time (ft. Ellie Goulding)

5. Kids in Love (ft. The Night Game)

6. Stranger Things (ft. One Republic)

7. Stargazing (ft. Justin Jesso)

8. This Town (ft. Sasha Sloan)

9. Firestone (ft. Conrad Sewell)

10. Raging (ft. Kodaline)

 

Coachella Band Preview: Portugal. The Man

It’s been over a week since Coachella released their 2018 lineup. Tickets went on sale last Friday and sold out in just over 3 1/2 hours. Preparations have officially begun. So if you’re headed to the desert this April, I hope you’ve been listening to one of Coachella’s Spotify playlists or curating your own. I’ve checked out Coachella’s (which are so good by the way!) and already found 1 or 2 new bands to listen to. They might even get previewed leading up to the festival.

First thing’s first though, it’s time to get into the first band preview of the year. I bought this group’s latest album while in NYC a few weeks ago. I decided to buy it at random too, only knowing two songs from the album. It was a great decision and understandably so as it’s already been nominated for a Grammy. Although this blog post is a few weeks overdue, let me tell you a little something about Portugal. The Man.

Portugal. The Man has been around for quite a while before their latest album, Woodstock, and hit single “Feel It Still” invaded music charts over the last year. Hailing from Wasilla, Alaska, they formed in 2004 as a side project band of lead singer John Gourley and bassist Zach Carothers. The band has gone through several lineup changes but Gourley and Carothers have been the true mainstays. Currently they’re joined by Kyle O’Quin on keyboards/synth, Jason Sechrist on drums, and Eric Howk on guitar. I would try to explain their band name, but it’s a bit complicated so I’ll let this 2009 interview description by John Gourley do it, “It’s hard to explain, but it made perfect sense at the time. Over the 5 years that we’ve had the band name it’s just kind of gotten lost, but the idea was that we wanted to back somebody up. I guess in choosing Portugal, it was just kind of a random choice. We really wanted a country to be the name of our person because a country is a group of people. The man just states that Portugal is a person. So really Portugal is the band’s name and the man is just stating that he is the man.” They released demos in the summer of 2004 and embarked on a U.S. tour that fall. They released their debut album Waiter: “You Vultures!” on January 24, 2006.

In June 2007, they released their sophomore album Church Mouth and toured for the following year both in the U.S. and Europe in support of it. In 2008, the band released yet another record, Censored Colors, their third full length album. 2009 brought the band festival spots at Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza as well as a fourth album, The Satanic Satanist, and  The Majestic Majesty, an acoustic album of The Satanic Satanist. The band released another new album, American Ghetto, in 2010 marking the band’s fifth album in five years. 2010 also marked Portugal. The Man’s first Coachella appearance. Following suit of the previous years, their sixth album came out in July of 2011 after the band signed with record label, Atlantic Records in April 2010 (they had previously been a part of Fearless Records as well as a partnership with Equal Vision Records). The album, In the Mountain in the Cloud, brought the band another two years of touring and two more stops at Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.

In 2012, Portugal. The Man did not release a new album, but in 2013, they did. They released their seventh full length album, Evil Friends. The album featured backing vocals by Danielle and Este Haim of fellow Coachella 2018 act, Haim. They announced an eighth album in 2016, but said album “failed to complete” and was scrapped after 3 years of work. After the lead single “Feel It Still” was released in March, the band dropped, Woodstock on June 16, 2017. With the success of “Feel It Still”, which has topped music charts nationwide, Woodstock has become the band’s most successful album to date after 13 years and seven previous albums.

Portugal. The Man plays an alternative rock style of music with a somewhat psychedelic/jam band flavor as well. At times their music even sounds a bit experimental. Their sound has definitely progressed and changed throughout the years and through each album. Gourley’s vocals have been a defining factor in their sound though.

I found out about Portugal. The Man while working as a radio DJ during college on my school’s radio station. Our station specialized in alternative, rap, and metal, and I had a weekly alternative radio show in which I would play a mix of my own songs combined with the music on our system. One of the songs I used to play during my show was the Portugal. The Man song “People Say”. I remember when the alternative director and her boyfriend introduced me to the band one time while we were in the studio together.  There may have been one or two other Portugal. The Man songs available on our rotation but I routinely played and enjoyed “People Say”.

I partially kept up with Portugal. The Man after I graduated and ended my radio show. I was into and downloaded the songs “Purple, Yellow, Red, and Blue” and “Modern Jesus” after Evil Friends came out. However, I was never fully into Portugal. The Man. The first time I heard “Feel It Still” was this past summer in August (I know I was so late) on a fellow Coachella coworker’s Snapchat story. I was into it immediately upon first listen. I didn’t know whose song it was either and I thought it might be by the band Electric Guest. The song sounded similar to their song “This Head I Hold”. All I knew was I was hooked no matter what. I was surprised to find out it was Portugal. The Man because it just didn’t fit the sound I was used to from them. It was and still is an absolute banger though.

Like I’ve said in my last two blogs, as well as earlier in this one, I purchased Woodstock a few weeks ago just because of my interest in “Feel It Still” and “Live in the Moment” (another great track from that record). I don’t own any other Portugal. The Man records either, despite knowing about them and having a slight interest in their music for several years now. Within the first few days of owning the record, I had it spinning on repeat. It’s great. I even put it on my list of favorite albums from 2017 after owning it for only two weeks prior to writing that blog.

Portugal. The Man plays Sunday night this year at Coachella. My guess is they play the main stage prior to Eminem. This is Portugal. The Man’s third Coachella. They played in 2010, as I mentioned, and 2013. If I was attending this year, I’d definitely have them on my must see list. My only concern is that they have such a large discography that I’m not sure what they’d play or what I’d know. Hence listening prep is key here. I wouldn’t spend hours listening to all 8 albums they’ve released. I would just get a few of their older hits and focus on the last 2-3 albums. Their most recent stuff is what’s given them the spotlight anyway, making it the obvious choice for set list selection. At least at this point you have plenty of time regardless. 3 months is so far, yet so so close that you can taste that sunshine and those good vibes.

Edit: I’m sorry everyone! Totally messed this up and forgot to put song recommendations to listen to so here they are (better late than never!):

1. Feel It Still

2. Live in the Moment

3. Purple, Yellow, Red and Blue

4. People Say

5. Modern Jesus

6. So Young

7. Noise Pollution

8. Rich Friends

9. Easy Tiger

10. So American

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!

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.

 

Lust For Life: Album Review

It’s been a busy two weeks. I worked two festivals and I have another one coming up this weekend. As a result the blog has taken a back seat. Luckily I have a little time to review the second album that came out July 21st from one of my two favorite artists. I haven’t had much time to listen to it because I decided to listen to Foster the People’s (the other July 21st release) latest first. I saw them at Lollapalooza last weekend and I needed some prep time with their new material. Yesterday though, I began listening to Lust For Life, Lana Del Rey’s fourth full length album.

In late February, Lana released the first single from the album, “Love”, claiming that this album was for her fans and those who have supported her throughout the years. In the months following, Lana released two other singles from the album “Lust for Life” ft. The Weeknd and “Coachella – Woodstock on my Mind”. She also announced that the album would feature collaborations with A$AP Rocky, Stevie Nicks, Sean Lennon, and Playboy Carti.

Lana’s newest album offers music with a brighter feel than her sensual darkness heard in previous works. Her hypnotizing vocals are still a staple in Lust For Life though. The lyrics are what gives each song on the new record a more positive vibe. The music also gives a bit of a hip-hop/electronic feel.

As a fan of almost all of Lana Del Rey’s work, I think this album is a great comeback for the pop starlet. I fell in love with her because of Born to Die. I loved her even more after the Paradise EP. Ultraviolence was my go-to album for weeks after its debut, but then Honeymoon happened. I felt like I wasn’t into as many songs and I thought Lana was letting her music go downhill. So for me, Lust For Life is definitely a comeback with a sound that gives a nod to Born to Die as far as the hip-hop beats go.

Even though I’ve just started getting into this album because my listening binge began yesterday, I’m telling you it’s a good one. Is it at the level of Born to Die? I don’t think so, but it’s a damn good album. The amount of collaborations alone is a selling point. There are songs for everyone on it. My personal favorites are “In My Feelings”, “Coachella – Woodstock on my Mind”, and “Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems” ft. Stevie Nicks. It’s worth listening to. Even if you’re hesitant on buying it based on what I just said, listen to it on Spotify first. I’m sure it’ll convince you. Lana has come back with a vengeance and you don’t want to miss out!

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