Music

Raise Up to Your Ability

It’s rare that I write a specific post dedicated to a personal music experience outside of Coachella especially with the amount of music I see, but I recently had a worthy one. About two weeks ago I traveled to LA to see my favorite band, Foster the People. They played a 3 night run at the Wiltern. Aside from a gig in Mexico a few days prior, it was their first live performances since 2018 (understandably so given the live music shutdown for over a year). This stint wasn’t just regular shows though. It was a 10 year celebration of the release of their first album, Torches. The band played the entire album in order during their sets each night.

A year ago, when I stayed home most of the time and spent my days working out, looking forward to meals and the occasional visits with friends, and missing live music, I started thinking about the fact that Torches would be turning 10 in 2021. I thought to myself then that Foster the People would be the only band I would compromise my feelings about drive-in shows for (I thought they were dumb), if they played a 10 year Torches anniversary show in May (Torches came out in May 2011). I didn’t know what the status of regular shows would be at the time and I wasn’t trying to jump the gun either. Then in August, after almost 2 months of a close to normal return of live music, Foster the People announced their 3 night run of Torches anniversary shows in LA. I had no choice but to maintain that promise I made to myself last fall and go.

So on a chilly LA evening in late November, I ubered to the Wiltern from my hotel in Venice. I met friends in a line that wrapped around the block upon arrival. That was followed by another wait in an extensive merchandise line so I could buy the special poster for the anniversary shows. Thank god for drinks and my pals. We secured a spot relatively close to the stage, house right after I secured the commemorative poster.

Foster the People came on around 9 PM. I attended the Friday night show and for the first time in a very long time, I had not looked at the set lists from the previous two nights. Other than a spoiler of “Lamb’s Wool” I saw as I scrolled through Twitter two days before, I knew nothing about their sets. They opened with “Style”, a song released in 2019 on the Pick U UP EP and proceeded to play a mix of old songs and new songs, including one of their earliest songs “Chin Music For the Unsuspecting Hero”, before that all too familiar drum and synth intro of “Helena Beat” began.

By this point, I had not stopped dancing or singing along to every song. Thankfully one of my friends went on a bathroom run and grabbed us some waters. After “Helena Beat”, I knew what was coming, Foster the People’s most famous song “Pumped Up Kicks.” The cheers were loud when that bass line started. It’s the song that everyone knows, but given all the controversy, I tried to take it in as much as possible because I wasn’t sure if it would be the last time I hear it live. It felt amazing knowing I had one last time hearing the hit song live though in case they don’t play it anymore.

“Call It What You Want” and “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)” were next. I didn’t chug my water until after “Houdini”, which featured an appearance of blow up Torches album art creatures that flailed along as we rose up to our ability. When Mark and the boys (without Mark Pontius for the first time since his departure from the group in mid-October) finished “Warrant,” the applause and cheers lasted for at least a minute. I couldn’t even believe I had just heard one of my all time favorite albums played live front to back. It was a special feeling. I was sweaty and so ready for more.

The band played five more songs after that. It was another mix of new and old with live debuts of “Cadillac” and “Walk With a Big Stick” amongst “Ruby”, the cult favorite “Broken Jaw”, and Sacred Hearts Club hit “Sit Next to Me”, which featured the Sacred Hearts Club tour neon light dropping into the background. After a brief departure from the stage, Foster the People returned to encore with 3 more songs, “Under the Moon”, “Lotus Eater” sans cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones that they played during their last tour, and finally ended the night with Supermodel jam “Pseudologia Fantastica.”

When the house lights returned, it was 11 PM. Foster the People played a 2 hour long set, longer than any other night during their brief run at the Wiltern. It was the second time I heard them play that long. The other was the last time I had seen them, September 18th, 2017 at the Fillmore in Philly. That was the best concert I’ve ever been to. They played countless hits from every album released until that point. I was up against the bar watching every movement and action on stage. I even caught the set list. This was just as special in a different way.

It was an incredible night that reminded me about the importance of live music. Last year I spent so much time wondering when I would get to go to another show. I felt frustrated in losing so much of what I loved. My only consolation was to tell myself that we would be back soon enough. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this concert was one of the reasons I got through last year. It was my favorite band, playing my favorite album in one of my favorite places (California) and I felt beyond grateful to experience it.

Loving in Stereo: Album Review

Despite the past year with artists being unable to tour or play live music for quite some time, many have released new music. There were plenty of new albums I was stoked for and enjoyed last year. This year was much of the same when we didn’t know the status of events (but even still, as concerts and festivals returned). Lorde recently released her much anticipated third album. girl in red dropped her debut album in the spring. Then of course there’s still Adele’s new album which I’ve been anticipating for 2 years now. Will we ever get it? Time will tell.

Another album that recently dropped was British indie funk band Jungle’s third album, Loving in Stereo. From the moment Jungle released the first single from the album, “Keep Moving”, back in March, I knew their latest album would be another great one. Loving in Stereo was released on August 13th and it has everything you already loved about Jungle plus more.

The new album brings the same funk focused music of Jungle while bridging the gap into other genres as well. There are certain instances when I don’t like when a band or artist’s sound evolves because it completely strays from their original sound. In this case though, the evolution of Jungle’s sound is perfect. The album crosses into rap, reggae, and indie pop music while still bringing that funk sound that makes Jungle so unique. It also features collabs with rapper Bas and musician Priya Ragu. Much like Jungle’s first two albums, Loving in Stereo will keep you dancing from start to finish with bops like “Keep Moving”, “Talk About It”, “Truth”, and “All of the Time”. If you’re looking for more of that classic Jungle vibey funk sound though, you’ll want to listen to “Lifting You”, “Bonnie Hill”, or “Can’t Stop the Stars”. The album has already been charting on various album lists across the world including Billboard, OCC (UK), and ARIA (Australia) among others.

Jungle will be embarking on a tour across Europe and North America this fall in support of the album. The tour includes several U.S. dates this October. Some of the dates have already sold out. Unfortunately due to work obligations, I won’t be able to catch any of Jungle’s tour dates this fall so I’m hoping they’ll play the festival circuit next year and I’ll get to see them perform once again. This new album is so far an unexpected favorite of 2021 for me and I think the group’s best to date. I’m expecting good things for Jungle in the near future so check out Loving in Stereo as soon as possible.

We’re Going Down Down

It’s been 2 months since I last posted, which is something I’ve never done since I started this blog 7 years ago. I always tried to update each month, if not each week. I have good reason though. Over the last several weeks, I got caught up in this weird, transitional year. I finally returned to work onsite at a music festival in late June. Then the week after I was onsite at another. They were the first major events I worked in 15 months. It was awesome. Words can’t even explain how great it feels to be back at work doing what I love. Then after having visitors throughout the rest of July and dealing with some personal ongoing issues (tooth problems!), I made my huge return to Lollapalooza last week. Lollapalooza has always been one of my favorite festivals since I started working music festivals in 2016. Unlike other festivals, I did not work Lolla in 2019 so it was three years since my last time in Grant Park. The feeling of excitement for Lolla was what I was yearning for throughout 2020 and early 2021.

Before Lolla though, as I mentioned, I had several visitors throughout the month of July. One of them was my best buddy, my little cousin, Hudson. Over the last year, Hudson has gotten into alternative/pop punk band Fall Out Boy. I was a Fall Out Boy fan during high school. I saw them at my first Warped Tour in 2005. While Hudson was here, it was cool revisiting Fall Out Boy with him, especially since he knows the words to almost every song on From Under the Cork Tree. Currently, FOB is still in the news as they recently joined Green Day and Weezer for the Hella Mega Tour. Before we get into that though, let’s get into some band history.

Fall Out Boy formed was formed in Chicago in 2001 by bassist Pete Wentz and lead guitarist Joe Trohman. The group then recruited front man Patrick Stump and drummer Andy Hurley to the group, after trying out the group with other members. The band eventually signed with indie label Fueled by Ramen. They released their debut album Take This to Your Grave, under the label in May 2003. The album hurtled the band into the spotlight and substantially grew their fanbase.

In 2005, Fall Out Boy released their sophomore album From Under the Cork Tree. The album debuted at number 9 on the Billboard Top 200. The album’s top single “Sugar We’re Goin’ Down” peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 that year as well. Their second single from the album “Dance, Dance” also hit the top ten. It was post sophomore album that the band started touring in arenas and playing music festivals other than Warped Tour. The album also earned them a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.

The band dropped their third album Infinity on High in 2007 to much success. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard Top 200. The band headlined two major tours in support of their third album and also had several successful singles including “The Carpal Tunnel of Love”, “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s an Arms Race”, and “Thnks fr th Mmrs”. In December 2008, the band released Folie á Deux, their fourth full length album. Again, the album became a top ten hit, but did not quite reach the level of popularity as their prior two albums.

The band then went on hiatus from 2009 until 2013, when in February they announced their fifth record Save Rock and Roll and a reunion tour. The album’s top single “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)” peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2015, the band released their sixth album American Beauty/American Psycho. This album produced hits like “Centuries”, “Uma Thurman”, and “Immortals”.

The band’s latest album “Mania” was released in September of 2017. The band embarked on the yearlong Mania tour in support of the album, which included a stop at Wrigley Field in Chicago, the band’s largest headlining stadium show to date. As I mentioned, the band is currently playing on the Hella Mega Tour with Green Day and Weezer. The tour was announced in 2019 and was delayed in 2020 due to the “panny D”.

Fall Out Boy is widely considered a pop punk band, but their music bridges into alternative, emo, pop, and punk along with other sub-genres. Through the years, I feel like Fall Out Boy’s music went from punk heavy to more pop-mainstream. Their shows have too. From playing, general admission small shows to seated larger venue shows, Fall Out Boy’s persona has changed. As an early Fall Out Boy fan, it was weird working their show in 2017 and not seeing a place for a pit. Nonetheless, I’m sure there have been some pits during their sets at Hella Mega.

After some family deliberation, my cousin and his wife decided they want to wait for a Fall Out Boy headlining tour to take Hudson to see them, instead of splurging on Hella Mega tickets. Until then, I guess we’ll just keep up this Fall Out Boy phase. They’ve become a band that has spanned the decades, which is something I didn’t really expect or even think about when I started listening to them in high school. It’s to the point that Fall Out Boy has truly become a family show. If you haven’t already, give Fall Out Boy a shot, but I’m sure you probably already have at some moment through the years. I guess we truly will remember them for centuries.

Live Music is Back?!

It’s been over a year now since Coachella got “postponed” and the live music industry shut down indefinitely. Thanks to vaccines and an ever growing need to re-open the economy, those of us who work in events amongst massive amounts of people are finally starting to get back to work. Maybe some of us aren’t quite “back” yet but we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Gigs are popping up. Fall tour dates and festival dates are being announced. We know people who have gotten called back to work or have gotten their jobs back. It’s all quite optimistic and honestly feels pretty good after a year where optimism was lacking. So is live music officially back? I’d say there’s a good chance.

First and foremost, we definitely wouldn’t be at this point without the vaccines. It was a slow roll out to start when the FDA gave the go-ahead for that emergency-use authorization back in December 2020. At this point though, about 1/3 of the eligible population has received at least one dose and more people are getting vaccinated each week. Although these disease protectors aren’t 100% full proof, they’ve been pretty damn effective so far and probably the best mechanism we have for defense against the virus. It’s key if you want have thousands of people hanging out together at a concert or festival. It was never going to be “safe” enough without them either unless there was zero virus risk which wasn’t an option here in the U.S., as it was in most countries as well.

Secondly, after a year of losing tons of money money money, capitalism says we gotta get back to work. I feel like most of us are eager to anyway. It’s fulfilling. I think if there’s any fear though it’s in the risk of getting sick with going back to work and of course others getting sick too. Vaccination has eased my mind a lot on that though, especially for myself. Again shoutout to those vaxes! Most states are trying to open their economies fully in the coming months. Restrictions are lightening and have been lightening since mid-March or so. The desire for normalcy is so real too which brings me to my most important and final point.

We miss the life we had before March 2020. I think we all do in a lot of ways. It was easier in ways that we didn’t even realize. There was a lot less to think about. I know I miss the easiness of it all. I’m sure you could name plenty of things you miss too. In that list, I think you could include concerts and festivals which is why many festivals that have sold tickets for the fall or beyond have sold out. The demand even seems unprecedented! Everyone is excited about the return of live music because I think so many of us missed those special moments that only live music can offer. Music heals. It’s always been true. But a lot of us feel a void without that aspect of music where you can go see your favorite bands or artists perform and truly be IN that moment (sorry livestreams!). So yes, FINALLY we are so close to getting that part back! For those of us who loved music enough to chase it as a career, it’s even more special. Obviously we’re all fans to begin with too.

When I was thinking about what to write today I almost decided to make a full post about EDC Las Vegas. The monster of all festivals announced its return for May (so soon!) on Thursday night. I had heard about the intent to have it in May prior to the official announcement and felt unsure. It felt too soon. I didn’t believe they could possibly have it. Even at this point, I’m still holding my breath a bit. Yet, do you know how exciting it is to talk to my friends/co-workers about upcoming gigs that are a month away?! It feels SO good. There’s still a lot more kinks to work out with EDC and a lot of work to be done in preparation in this short amount of time. You never know what can happen between now and then either. I think generally we can’t believe it’s happening so soon. We also feel like it’s too soon, but at the same time we’re all extremely stoked! Hopefully that makes sense to you. Needless to say it’s PLUR season baby!

If EDC goes off as planned, it’ll be a true test. EDC Las Vegas is the biggest music festival in the country. It doesn’t have the hype that Coachella gets but as far as attendance goes, it’s the biggest. It’s 150,000+ people each day for three days from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. It’s a beast and unlike any other festival in that regard. So we’ll see what happens. Right now the hype and the optimism are real. Although it’s not official until festivals and concerts actually happen, I think the real phrase is that live music is ALMOST back. In the name of positivity and good vibes though, I still think we gotta hype it up. So buy those tickets because live music is back!

Fruit Bangers

It’s not a secret that I make a new work out playlist every couple months. I’ve been doing this on Spotify since 2015-2016. My song selection is very simple. Sometimes one of my favorite artists releases new music and other times I’ll go through new music on my Release Radar or Discovery Weekly playlists and add songs that I like after my first listen and I feel are upbeat enough to work out to. Regardless, most times I’m not listening to a song repeatedly before I add it to my playlist. I’m usually going from new music or at least music that is new to me. This can cause me to occasionally find a song that I really really like after I keep hearing it day after day, which is exactly what happened two weeks ago.

While working out and listening to my first work out playlist of this year, I realized I really liked this one song I kept hearing. Until I realized what it was, I would constantly check to see the name of the song and the artist when it played. The song was called “Nectarines” by MELVV featuring Royal & The Serpent. Then it hit me. It’s only been a few months since I found another song I like about citrus fruit! Before “Nectarines” it was “Tangerine” by Glass Animals. In the summer, I found another guilty pleasure in listening to “Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles. That’s a ton of fruit music in a short period of time!

I decided to start doing some research. Although it’s not super common, there are plenty of songs written that have food titles. Most of the songs aren’t really about food though. They’re usually metaphors for one thing or another, but even so, there are a solid amount of songs with food titles out there. “Chocolate” by the 1975, “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson, “Cherry Pie” by Warrant, and “Flaming Hot Cheetos” by Clairo are just a few of the food songs I thought of. I’m sure you know a few others. As I researched, I realized that there was also plenty of drink songs. There might be even more than there are for food. Some that I found and thought of are “Soco Amaretto Lime” by Brand New, “Beer” by Reel Big Fish, “Cola” and one of my personal faves “Diet Mountain Dew” by Lana Del Rey, “Poprocks and Coke” by Green Day which is kind of a food and drink song, “Strawberry Wine” by The Chicks, and then some of the most notable ones like “Gin and Juice” by Snoop Dog, “Tequila” by The Champs, and “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes (I counted it because it is in the parentheses and I mean come on!). I’m sure you could think of more as well, especially if you like country music (booze songs for days!).

When I started doing research on food songs, I was specifically searching for fruit songs though. I mean after two citrus bangers within months of each other, there had to be more right? Of course! I mentioned “Watermelon Sugar” earlier, which wasn’t Harry Styles’ first fruit song. “Kiwi” was on his debut album. “Peaches” by The Presidents of the United States of America was a hit too. “Raspberry” is a deep-cut by Grouplove. Besides drink songs, Lana Del Rey also has her own fruit track called “Cherry” and then Bay Ledges, whose song “Safe” was one of my top songs of 2018, has a song called “Mango”. There are other fruit songs out there too. It was just surprising to me that there have been so many that I’ve liked in a short period of time.

For now, instead of trying to find more fruit bangers, I’m just gonna keep jamming (fruit joke…get it?) to “Nectarines” and maybe soon enough there will be another fruit song I love. So here’s to all the fruit songs, the food songs, the drink songs, and even the songs that mention all of the above which is way more than I want to research. That shit would be bananas…B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Daft Punk ISN’T playing at my house, my house

I knew I wanted to make a post today, but I didn’t expect it would be something Coachella related. Here we are though! As of this morning, Daft Punk (my way, way, way late music discovery of 2020) are no more. The iconic electronic duo have called it quits after 28 years together. They posted a video entitled “Epilogue” to their website which includes a scene of one of the robots blowing up followed by an image of two robot hands formed into a triangle (a representation of the pyramid they used on their Alive Tour in 2007) with “1993-2021” written beneath the image. Many media outlets reported the news with confirmation from the group’s publicists saying they are in fact retiring. Big sad!

About 10 months ago during what was dubbed as “Couchella” because of the panny d related Coachella postponement, I took an interest in Daft Punk and proclaimed that I’ve become one of those people who want them to headline every year. When my friend sent me this news earlier today, I was shocked and heartbroken for a solid…oh I don’t know 5-10 minutes? The reason being….retirement isn’t always forever. Reunions happen and there’s a certain festival FAMOUS for reunions. What festival is that? Coachella! Duh! Even if the reunion never actually happens, or it takes years and years, there’s still hope that we get to see Daft Punk live. This isn’t something to be devastated about. Obviously take it seriously because as of right now, yeah, they’re serious about it. Appreciate Daft Punk for what they gave for 28 years. Appreciate them for their impact on the electronic music world. Appreciate their music that you love because you know you’ll still be playing it for years to come. But do NOT be sad about this! Things change. Reunions happen. Bands get back together. Your odds of seeing them live now are just about as much as they were yesterday before this announcement. I swear. These guys do not tour often.

Anyway, if you’ve learned anything from the last year, it should be that anything is possible! Both good and bad, but let’s think about the good instead because no one like a Debbie Downer. I’ve been all about a few mantras this year and I’m gonna give them to you (and also relate them to music for the sake of the blog)…..

  1. “2021 Energy” – The point of this is to get out of that negative 2020 mindset. Bad shit always happens. Last year was very bad, but this year will be better. Stay hopeful! Stay optimistic! This year isn’t last year and it will be better. Just start believing it. I’m a firm believer that I’m going to be back working music related things at some point this year. I already was able to work again once which although was not at a concert or festival, was something and one of my goals for 2021. Small things matter. Baby steps matter. That brings me to the second mantra…
  2. “Transition” – See this year as a transitional year. It’s not going to be the exact life we want quite yet, but we’re slowly getting back to it. Baby steps. Small accomplishments. We’ll get there. One step at a time. And before you know it we’ll be back at Coachella!
  3. “Panny D” – Change the name of the game. Pandemic felt so damn serious and scary and yes of course it’s still happening. We’re still working on those vaccines. People can still get sick. People are still dying! So yeah it’s serious. But this name changing is more of a mental thing. I feel like last year we let the pandemic own us. This year let’s own it. By changing the name, it feels less serious (mentally). It’s more casual. I know you’re probably worried that making it like this might make people take it less seriously literally, but you know what, everyone was already doing that anyway. Stop worrying and trying to control everyone else. You can’t do it. What you can do though is take care of yourself. Put yourself first. If changing the name isn’t for you, then so be it. Don’t do it. But it’s helped me get out of that negative mindset and you just gotta do what works best for you. That’s not saying to not be safe. Be safe when you need to be, cause we’re getting there. But you can still, be safe and not let it get you down.

That’s it. Those are my big three so far. There might be more on the way, but until then this is all I’ve got. It’s the mental set and it’s helped me refocus this year. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and we can see it. I promise. Concerts will be back. Festivals will be back. Coachella will be back. Daft Punk will be back. See what I did there?! Ha!

So for now, spend the rest of the day listening to Daft Punk, dream about hearing them play live again because guess what? It’s still possible. As long as Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, are “alive” and well, it can happen. Maybe they headline Coachella in a few years as a reunion set. Maybe they bring out LCD Soundsystem as a surprise guest and they perform “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” together. I mean I can dream right? Maybe they don’t? Who knows? But anyway…robots can be rebuilt and anything is possible. So stay positive and keep the vibes up that maybe we’ll “get lucky” enough to hear them perform “one more time” because if you know Daft Punk you know that their “work is never over!”

Doses & Mimosas

It’s so weird not writing about this year’s Coachella artists during this time. As a result, new music has been sparse since the turn of the new year. As soon as the clock hit midnight on New Year’s Eve though, I was filled with a new kind of energy. Even though this year so far is still a continuation of 2020, it feels better. It feels more optimistic and hopeful. It’s definitely not going to be the ideal year, but it will be better. I see it as a transition from the disaster that was 2020 to a return to normalcy. It’s all a process, but we’ll get there.

On New Year’s Eve, I hung out with a few close friends. We decided to get dressed up and ring in 2021 together. While getting ready that night, my friend put on her playlist that she uses when she’s in the mood to dance and a song that I’ve known for several years came on. It was the track “Doses & Mimosas” by Cherub. For some reason, it just hit the right way. I couldn’t get it out of my head all night and the entire the next day. Neither could she. So we listened to it a bunch in the 40 or so hours we spent together. That song reflects the energy I want to carry in the year. I now listen to it all the time since I added it to my new work out playlist. So I thought since I’m enjoying it so much, why not talk a little bit about the artists that created it.

Cherub is an electronic indie duo from Nashville, TN. Formed in 2010, Cherub is comprised of Jordan Kelley and Jason Huber. They met while studying music production in college at Middle Tennessee State University. In 2011 they released their first EP, followed by their first album in digital form MoM & DaD in 2012. Their big hit “Doses & Mimosas” was part of that album and contributed to the growth they experienced afterward. They signed with Columbia Records and re-released the track on their debut studio album Year of the Caprese. Since then the group released a second studio album Bleed Gold, Piss Excellence and embarked on several tours all over the country. This past July the duo released a compilation of previously unreleased songs titled DJ BJ’s Faves.

Back when “Doses & Mimosas” was on the scene, I had trouble finding an interest in Cherub because I was more into indie rock. However as I’ve gotten into electronic music in the last several years, I now have an appreciation for the group. They truly have a more indie based electronic sound than I initially thought to the point that I’ve taken an interest in their other tracks as well. There’s nothing like overdue music discovery. Maybe at some point I’ll get to hear “Doses & Mimosas” live and I’ll be reminded of the vibe I had in early 2021. Until then we can at least be stoked that we’re done with the “bitch ass hoe” of a year that was 2020 and I’m gonna keep that energy, momentum, and optimism flowing through this transitional year as long as I can.

Cover Songs

Yesterday my friend Bev and I got into a deep discussion about music covers. It was prompted by a video I shared with her where the background music was a cover of Talking Head’s “This Must Be The Place” by jam band, The String Cheese Incident. We delved into a deep discussion about her particular taste in covers, my taste in covers, and covers that would never do justice to the original artist or bands. I’m assuming everyone knows what a cover is but just in case you don’t, when someone says a song is a cover it means that the song is a recording or performance by someone who is not the original artist.

There have been plenty of cover songs throughout history that have become more successful than the original. A great example of this comes from legendary rock n’ roll singer Elvis Presley. “Blue Suede Shoes” was originally a song by Carl Perkins. Elvis also did plenty of Chuck Berry covers. Then of course there’s some controversy surrounding the song “Hound Dog”. Some claim that Elvis stole the song from Big Mama Thornton. Truth be told though when Elvis rose to fame racial prejudices were much greater than they are today. As a white singer, he brought many songs that may have been sung by or written by black musicians to fame. Hence, all of Elvis’s music being written by someone other than Elvis, which isn’t uncommon even today, but still.

Another example of this is “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles. The original song was by The Isley Brothers who are also famed for their song “Shout”. To be honest, I didn’t realize until today that “Twist and Shout” was a cover. I was looking for some covers on Spotify and saw it on one of their playlists. Part of me believes I knew this at one point and just forgot but the other part of me is kind of shocked.

Besides these songs a few other famous covers are Otis Redding’s “Respect” covered by Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” covered by Jimi Hendrix (Dave Matthews Band also frequents this cover too), Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” covered by Whitney Houston, Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” covered by The Chicks (formerly The Dixie Chicks), Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” covered by Jeff Buckley, The Guess Who’s “American Woman” covered by Lenny Kravitz, Robert Hazard’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” covered by Cyndi Lauper, and Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. There’s also been some recent covers in the spotlight. Two years ago Weezer got some airplay from covering Toto’s “Africa” and lately an indie artist named Ritt Momney is getting some huge hype over his cover of “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae. The list goes way beyond this too. I’m sure you’d be surprised to know just how many famous songs are actually covers. I know I was.

My friend Bev seems to love covers that capture the essence of the original song especially when the original was by a well-known band or artist. What I think makes a great cover is when the song is given a new “spin” or feel like when an artist known for a certain genre of music covers a song of another genre. This is why I was always a fan of the Punk Goes… album series growing up.

These albums started in 2000 with Punk Goes Metal and by 2002 the first Punk Goes Pop album was released. Most of the Punk Goes… albums are cover songs aside from Punk Goes Acoustic which are just acoustic recordings of original songs. While hosting my own radio show in college, I would occasionally do cover shows where I played a lot of covers from these albums.

Although I don’t really listen to punk/pop-punk/alternative music these days, I’m always looking out for a great cover whether it does the original justice or not. I still love and appreciate hearing unique covers. However, strangely enough, I don’t usually love remixes, which I feel are electronic music’s version of a cover song. I have a few I enjoy, but in this instance I seem to enjoy the original version of the song more. I’m not sure if we could even consider these “covers”, but unless a deejay has someone else singing the track, how would they cover the song? I definitely think a remix is “sub-genre” or so of a cover for this reason.

If you’ve ever played an instrument or sang a song, you’ve probably played someone else’s music or sang someone else’s lyrics. It’s a pretty standard practice in music. But just be careful if you ever plan on officially releasing covers. There are copyright laws surrounding music, but thanks to the Copyright Act of 1909 we’re able to create covers (usually with some negotiations between the artists involved and ASCAP or BMI…I linked the act for more info). No matter what your preference is on cover songs, I bet you’ve heard plenty and even have a few favorites. I obviously do so I figured I’d share some of mine to end this post.

  1. “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bon Iver (Bonnie Raitt cover)
  2. “99 Red Balloons” by Goldfinger (Nena cover)
  3. “Everywhere” by Yellowcard (Michelle Branch cover)
  4. “Umbrella” by All Time Low (Rihanna cover)
  5. “Megan” by Bayside (Smoking Popes cover)
  6. “Blitzkreig Bop” by Foster the People (Ramones cover) (performed live only, not recorded so check out a live version on Youtube)
  7. “That Don’t Impress Me Much” by HAIM (Shania Twain cover)
  8. “Skinny Love” by Birdy (Bon Iver cover)
  9. “Walking On A Dream” by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness (Empire of the Sun cover)
  10. “Over My Head (Cable Car)” by A Day to Remember (The Fray cover)
  11. “Start Today” by Fall Out Boy (Gorilla Biscuits cover)
  12. “Mad World” by Gary Jules (Tears for Fears cover)
  13. “A Thousand Miles” by Mac DeMarco (Vanessa Carlton cover) (performed live only, not recorded so again check Youtube)
  14. “What I Like About You” by The Suicide Machines (The Romantics cover)
  15. “Hospital Beds” by Florence and the Machine (Cold War Kids cover)

6 Months Later

It’s crazy that when I started this blog 6 years ago I planned to keep up with it and that I’m still sort of doing that. Once I started working more, it became tougher though. When work stopped and music shut down 6 months ago, I thought I would write more. Turns out my lack of motivation in everything aside from working out dropped. So here we are 6 months later with not much change.

The world has changed a lot, but I keep feeling like it’s more of a regress than progress. We went from unexpected, catastrophic change to an uncertain, gradual return. Nothing quite feels as good as it used to. We’re not locked down anymore (were we ever really?), but I still stay home almost as much. Honestly that was pretty standard for me before as well. I’m good at staying home when I’m home. Home feels comforting now though because the world is strange.

I do miss work though. I miss the grind. I miss being busy. I miss making one festival my entire world for a week or two then feeling a sadness when it ends, yet an excitement for the next one or the next event I have coming up. I miss one day gigs in the cities and driving all over to work them. I miss wearing a radio and doing radio calls. “Copy that.” I miss catering when I was allowed to have it. I miss live music. I miss the lights going dark before a band appears on stage. I miss being in a crowd of people losing myself to music. I miss creating aspects of these live music experiences and making people happy because they get to see or meet the bands they love. I miss my work friends the most though. I miss getting it done with them and the good vibes and positive energy they bring. They’re a huge part of the reason why I love what I do. I truly do love it and miss it so much.

We still don’t have a clear timeline on when live music will return to its greatest state. There have been some drive-in shows and of course livestreams. Neither can live up to the energy that’s created in a large crowd of people standing next to one another. We’re hoping next year at some point that we’ll be back. The rest of this year is pretty much shot. There won’t be a Mexico this year either. At minimum it’ll be 6 more months, but as time keeps moving we’ll find out if it’ll be more. I just can’t wait for the light at the end of this long tunnel. The brightest spot will be the next Coachella for sure. I’ll be back writing previews and the excitement will be better than ever.

Until then, this was just checking in. Things are okay. They could be worse, but they could also be a lot better. They will get better though. I still think about the feeling I had the day the local favorite ice cream spot re-opened after being closed for a year. The owner died. We weren’t sure at the time if it would be closed forever. Then the following summer it was back. The hype was unreal. It was a great day in the beginning of summer. That’s the feeling I expect to have the next time I get to work or be at a show and I expect it to last for a while. It’ll be so great and that’s what’s keeping me going.

Dreamland: Album Review

After a month delay, Glass Animals latest record Dreamland is now out. The band was in the midst of a spring tour and had just started to release new singles when the music world got shut down by The Big C. In the build up to their album release, the band dropped several more singles as well as two cover songs in the midst of quarantine. The album was supposed to be released on July 10th, but two weeks before that, the group decided to push back the release to August 7th in light of current events involving the protesting for Black Lives Matter. Now that it’s finally August, and a few days after the 7th, Dreamland is here in its entirety. Let’s check it out.

The latest record brings the same chill indie electronic vibes that Glass Animals are known for so you don’t have to worry about this record sounding any different. The lyrics still bring in the unique language that Glass Animals have used in prior music too (i.e. “those peanut butter vibes” from “Gooey”). The difference in this album is that it’s like a book. Each song feels like a chapter in the story of front man and producer Dave Bayley’s life. The home movie interludes adds to that feel as well. In this way Dreamland is a well-themed record compared to Glass Animals’ first two releases.

Glass Animals have plenty of great songs in their discography but I think their new song “Heat Waves”, which was released around the same time the band announced the delay of their album, is their best song to date. It’s also a front runner for my favorite song of the year. I absolutely love it. It was one of those songs that I fell hard for when I heard it for the first time and it’s still a song that I’m constantly replaying. Several of my friends have said as much about this song too. It’s truly a banger and worth a listen even if you’re not a Glass Animals fan. It’s a likeable song in general.

The new album also features several other great tracks like “Space Ghost Coast to Coast”, which gives a lyrical nod to the 90’s, “Dejá Vu”, another banger and one of their singles released in anticipation of the album, “Tokyo Drifting” featuring Denzel Curry, and “Tangerine.”

I’m sure Glass Animals would be touring and playing festivals this year if it weren’t for The Big C. Look for them to hit the road once its safe and we can listen to live music with all our friends again. I know I will be doing that since I just missed the train on this band during their last big touring year. Until then, you have plenty of time to get into this new new album.