phoenix

2017….The Best Year of Music?

Coming back from two weeks in So Cal has been a bummer to say the least. With Coachella, sunshine, warmth, palm trees, new friends, old friends, etc., I’ve been in a withdrawal. It’s also tough to come up with weekly blog topics because I feel like I gave it my all for the past 3 months writing about Coachella bands. However, there’s one thing that’s helped with all of the sad feelings recently. It’s the constant stream of new music flooding in from a bunch of my favorite bands and artists. Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve lost count of how many of my faves have released new tunes. I had a realization this past week that 2017 is shaping up to be the best year for music, or at least new music so I figured I’d write about it and give you a little preview of what’s to come.

Obviously there’s a ton of bands and artists releasing new music this year, way more than I plan to write about. The acts I’m mentioning are some of my favorites. Some I’ve written about in the past already. Actually that’s a lie. I’ve written about almost all of them before. The first is someone who I haven’t talked about for a while, but she’s one of my all-time favorites of the past 6 years, Lana Del Rey.

Lana Del Rey released a new single in February called “Love”. Upon its release, she said her upcoming new music was inspired by her fans and the people who supported her throughout the years. “Love” was the first of the new releases to give back to them. Until February, Lana hadn’t released new music since 2015’s Honeymoon. Then while I was at Coachella she released another new single, “Lust for Life” featuring The Weeknd. She also confirmed a few weeks before the single’s release that her new album would also be entitled Lust for Life. Although no release date has been confirmed for the new album (EDIT: The new album will be out July 21st.), there’s rumors that it will feature a few other collaborations with the likes of Stevie Nicks and Sean Lennon, son of John Lennon.

Another artist with new music out this year is Lorde. I, of course, wrote about her as a Coachella preview, but it was before she put out her new material. Along with Lana Del Rey, Lorde was one of the first to put out music this year. In early March she dropped her single “Green Light”. Then a little over a week after that she performed another new single when she appeared on SNL, “Liability”. I loved “Green Light” the first time I heard it. It’s the kind of song that makes you want to get up and dance. It’s the Pure Heroine follow up hit that I was looking for from Lorde. It got me so hyped for her new album Melodrama, which I thought may come out before Coachella, but isn’t going to be released until June 16th. “Liability” is the complete opposite. The song is so raw and emotional. It’s not something I’ve ever heard from Lorde. It sounds more like something Adele would sing. I denounced the song immediately after I heard it, but then I heard it again live at Coachella. It was incredible. Not just the song, but the entire moment surrounding the festival and the two weeks I spent in California.

She performed Sunday night and I was only able to see her performance on Weekend 2, the final night of what was the most incredible festival-working experience I’ve had thus far. Lorde spoke to the crowd of probably close to 100,000 people as if she were in a tiny dive bar and explained how much the song meant to her. Then she went on to sing her newest piece of music with everyone who cared to join her amongst the beautiful night scene at Coachella with the cool breeze blowing and lit up palm trees swaying as the ferris wheel glowed in the background. I took in the moment with two new friends I met while working the festival focusing on Lorde, the entire setting, and my one friend almost in tears because the song affected her that much. It was epic enough to force me to give “Liability” a second chance and I haven’t stopped listening to it since.

Then I came back from California and within days there was new music from my favorite band, Foster the People. I’ve liked Foster the People for 6 years now. They were one of the first bands that I liked when I started getting into the indie rock scene (See here for the story). They haven’t released new music since 2014 and I’ve been craving something new from them for the last 2 years. On April 27th, the indie rock trio released III, a three song EP with songs from their upcoming album. I listened immediately and have been listening to the songs non-stop ever since, “Doing It For the Money” in particular. I feel like the new music combines that old Torches sound with the newer Supermodel sound to create this in-between to both albums giving fans the best of both worlds. For me, it’s almost impossible to top Torches. I still keep the album in my car and pop it into my CD player on occasion. It’s one of my favorite records of the modern era, but this new album (at least indicated by the EP) has shades of Torches that gets me hyped for its release. As of today, the title and release date have yet to be announced, but I read that it should be out in June or July (EDIT: Foster the People’s new album, Sacred Hearts Club, will be July 21st).

On the same day that the world was blessed with three new Foster the People songs, Haim announced their upcoming sophomore album Something To Tell You and released a preview of the track “Right Now”. They also announced they would release a single from their upcoming album on May 3rd. Last summer when I saw Haim play at Lollapalooza they played a few of their new songs. I don’t remember what songs they played, but I do remember liking each one I heard. Each new song still maintained their signature sound. It got me excited for their new record and I’ve been anticipating it ever since. The album comes out July 7th, but until then we have the song “Want You Back” (the May 3rd single) to hold us over and any other new songs the sisters Haim decide to drop along the way.

alt-J is another band with a new album out this year. I really got into alt-J after seeing them perform at Coachella in 2015. My friends and I then saw them while they toured a few months later. Both shows were fantastic. alt-J released the first single, “3WW”, from their new record in the beginning of March. Then a few weeks later they released “In Cold Blood”. alt-J has always had this unique style of indie music and it’s again evident in their new music so far. Their new record Relaxer comes out on June 2nd.

If you thought five new records were enough, you haven’t been paying attention to music news because there’s a few more to be excited for. One of those is a record that doesn’t have a title or release date yet, but I expect it to be out later than the rest. I’m guessing it could be out any time between late summer and winter (EDIT: The new album, American Dream, comes out September 1st.), but I’m so grateful for the two new songs that were just released this past Friday at midnight in anticipation of it. After announcing their reunion last winter and headlining festivals throughout 2016, LCD Soundsystem finally released new music! They played several shows at the opening of the new venue, Brooklyn Steel, in New York City last month and debuted both songs there. The songs “call the police” and “american dream” were also just performed by the band on SNL over the weekend. I haven’t had much of a chance to binge listen to the songs yet, but I can’t wait to listen on my road trips I have coming up this month. Both songs are different and yet so good. At this point, I think I’d feel that way about anything LCD Soundsystem puts out.

So those are all my favorites that have new albums coming out soon, but there’s also a few other good music acts that I like with new tunes on the way too. Halsey just released two singles over the last month from her new album Hopeless Fountain Kingdom due out in June. So far from the new releases, her album seems like it’ll be less dark than Badlands. Phoenix will be releasing their sixth album and first since 2013, Ti Amo, on June 9th. They just dropped the first single from the new record, “J-Boy”, on April 27th. Finally a band I recently previewed before Coachella, Oh Wonder, will be releasing their second album, Ultralife, on June 16th. Over my two weeks spent in Indio, my love for and desire to see Oh Wonder grew a little more (I couldn’t see them at Coachella). Now I’m definitely stoked for their follow-up to 2015’s debut self-titled masterpiece.

Along with all that’s to come this summer, several great bands that I like have already released new music this year. The xx just released I See You on January 13th. I missed them at Coachella, but I’ll be seeing them live next week! Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness released Zombies on Broadway on February 10th and his new record has some great jams that give off a brand new electronic feel not usually heard in Andrew McMahon music. Lastly and most recently, Cold War Kids just dropped their newest album L.A. Divine on April 7th.

In total that’s 12 new albums from bands I like, about half of those being my favorites. I’ve said recently that all I need is for Florence and the Machine to release a new album this year to really put that final piece in the puzzle. Even without them this year is shaping up to be one of if not the best in music! I’m stoked so you guys better get stoked too because there’s so much to listen to!

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Hold Tight You’re Slowly Coming Back to Life

Back in 2011 when my music tastes veered towards the indie/indie rock/hipster scene, I continually looked for new music and had no problem finding it. I discovered plenty of bands/artists for the first time like Foster the People, Matt & Kim, Peter, Bjorn & John, The Naked and Famous, Young the Giant, Bon Iver, The Kooks, etc. (the list could go on because I shortened it while typing this). While searching for music during this time, I came across an artist that really intrigued me, but that I also, in a way, overlooked. She sang this incredible cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love”, as well as other indie songs, which I listened to several times over a month to two month period. The coolest part was that she was only 15! I never downloaded any of her songs though and with time I found other music to listen to. Over the past few years I would see her name pop up here and there, but I didn’t pay much attention until about two weeks ago. I heard a new single of hers while listening to a playlist on Spotify and fell in love all over again.

Jasmine Lucilla Elizabeth Jennifer van den Bogaerde, more commonly known to the music world as Birdy, is a 19 year old British singer/songwriter who hails from Lymington, Hampshire in the UK. She began her music career at the age of 7 when she started taking piano lessons. By age 8, she was writing her own music. In 2008 at age 12, she won the talent competition Open Mic UK where she competed against 10,000 others. In January 2011, she released her first single, which was the “Skinny Love” cover. It was her break-out single as the song became a hit on the UK Singles Chart reaching the 17th spot and was the third biggest selling rock single in the UK in 2011. She also released her debut self-titled album in November 2011 which was a compilation of various covers and one original song. The album was a huge success in Europe and Australia.

In 2012 she released an EP of live songs which included her original song “Just A Game” from The Hunger Games soundtrack. The same year she also contributed to the soundtrack of the film Brave with Mumford & Sons, which earned her a Grammy nomination in 2013. Her second full length album Fire Within was released in September 2013. She also contributed 3 songs to The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack which came out in 2014. Most recently, she released the singles “Keeping Your Head Up” and “Beautiful Lies” from her third album, Beautiful Lies,which is slated for a March 25th release date.

Birdy’s music is in the indie pop/indie rock genre. In fact her debut album features mostly indie covers. Along with the Bon Iver cover hit, she covers Phoenix’s “1901”, Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal”, The Postal Service’s “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”, The Naked and Famous’s “Young Blood”, The xx’s “Shelter”, and Cherry Ghost’s “People Help the People” among other songs. Following her debut, her music hasn’t changed much. Of course she’s releasing original music now, but the indie vibe to her tracks still exists. Her voice has a young feel to it as well. It hasn’t changed much through the years either despite getting her braces off which created a distinct sound on the Bon Iver cover.

Although Birdy’s success has mainly been overseas, I have a feeling she may get a bigger following in the U.S. soon for two reasons. First, her two singles from Beautiful Lies are off the hook, especially “Keeping Your Head Up”. That’s the song I heard that made me fall in love again and catch up with what Birdy’s been up to over the past few years. Second, Birdy’s getting older. She’s done shows in America before and toured playing small venues as a guest for Christina Perri, but she predominantly does shows in Europe. Her scheduled dates so far in support of her new album are in Europe. However, she’ll be 20 in May and I have a feeling at some point she’ll want to spread her wings across the pond. Her new album might just give her some leverage to do that too. While we’re waiting to see what else Birdy has to offer with this upcoming third album, here’s some songs you should hear by this talented young artist:

  1. “Skinny Love”
  2. “1901”
  3. “Wings”
  4. “People Help the People”
  5. “Tee Shirt”
  6. “Not About Angels”
  7. “Keeping Your Head Up”
  8. “Beautiful Lies”