pop

The Return of Live Music and the Top Tunes of 2021

I came into this year believing it would be a transition. I knew it wouldn’t be the best year ever, but I truly believed we were going to transition back into some weird period of normalcy that wasn’t quite exactly normal yet. Sure enough after 15 long months, we did and live music came back into our lives. I went back to work. I saw my friends again, made new ones, and got closer to others, which is something I’m so grateful as someone who works in live events. Usually at the end of the year, I recap some of my favorite music, but this year, after talking to a friend of mine, I’ve decided to include something extra. This was the first year in a while that I didn’t have a stand out favorite song of the year. For me, this year was a comeback to music I know and love with a few new faves along the way. You’ll see what I mean. So let’s get to it, here are my 2021 favorites in music:

Torches X -Foster the People

I knew going into 2021 that Torches, one of my all time favorite albums by my favorite band Foster the People, would be turning 10. Last fall, I was hoping they would play a drive-in show in May in honor of the 10th anniversary. Needless to say I never expected I would get to see them play a 10th anniversary show in LA in November nor did I expect a deluxe edition of the album with some of my favorite early Foster the People songs. That’s what I got though and I’m more stoked about it than you know. Plus after years of hoping and wishing, “Broken Jaw” is now on Spotify. It can’t get any better than that.

30 -Adele

After 6 years, Adele finally put out new music in 2021. As I wrote recently, 30 hasn’t been my favorite Adele album, but it was still something I anticipated for quite a while. It deserves recognition for that, especially after the endless amount of Twitter teases over the past 2 years. It’s still one of my favorite albums of 2021 and has several great tracks that I love. I’m stoked Adele is finally back.

Decco

Decco was a huge discovery for me this past spring. I spent a good amount of time listening to their songs after finding them because of a Kygo song on my Release Radar Spotify playlist. I’m actually surprised their song “I Didn’t Know” wasn’t my most listened to song of 2021 because I surely spent a lot of time listening to that track this past spring and summer. I’m hoping there are more solid Decco songs released in the future and maybe even a festival set or two. They’re great and I’m glad I found them.

“Chapstick” -COIN

I added this song to my work out playlist in mid-October after returning home from ACL and it’s been a song that I haven’t been able to get enough of since. I’ve been listening to COIN here and there for the last few years, but this song just hits different for me. It’s got such a great edgy, rock feel. I’ve kept it on repeat for the past 2 months and I’ll likely be keeping it that way into the new year.

“Dissolve” -Absofacto

My friend Hailey told me about this song during Lollapalooza because Absofacto played the festival. She said the song was a big hit, but I hadn’t heard it. She played it for me and I was hooked. I added it to my summer work out playlist and much like “Chapstick” it was a song I kept playing on repeat. In fact, I even extended the listening period by putting it on my fall work out playlist too. It’s been a song I’ve loved since the summer and one of my favorites of 2021.

“Low Rider” -War

This 1975 classic has been the official/unofficial song of the year for me. What started as a joke over the radio at Peach just carried on for the rest of the year. I kept hearing this song at random times after that and it’s always a jam. I even bought the single on vinyl 2 weeks ago. Glad this song made a comeback this year for me and the festie pals because it’s truly the best.

Loving in Stereo -Jungle

Jungle’s Loving in Stereo was another one of my favorite albums of the year. It has such a complete track-listing with so many songs I enjoy. I had it playing in my car for months too. I’ve been listening to Jungle since their debut album was released in 2014 and caught them at Coachella in 2015 and Lollapalooza in 2018. This is definitely my favorite album of theirs so far and I’m disappointed I didn’t see them on their tour this fall in support of it. I’m hoping for some festival appearances next year that I’ll be able to catch because this album made me love Jungle even more.

“Sweet Talk” -Fitz Leland

In early 2021, I discovered this jam by independent artist Fitz Leland. It was one of my favorites to listen to last winter, especially during my weekly adventures on the slopes. It was always such a vibe hearing it while on the lift or while lifting (you know it was on the work out playlist too!). This one definitely helped carry me through a winter I tried to make the best of. It’s such a mood.

So I know I usually do a top 10 followed by some runners up, but this year wasn’t about music I listened to. It was about music I saw. Being sidelined for 15 months from shows and work made me want to see music as much as I could as soon as I was able to. I also appreciated seeing live music much more. After thinking about it and looking back on my calendar, I’ve seen 39 full and partial sets this year since June, when I saw my first concert since Dermot Kennedy back in February 2020. So instead of just songs, albums, or artists, here’s something extra that I’ve never done yet. Here are my favorite sets from concerts and festivals (in the order in which I saw them) once live music came back this year:

The Suicide Machines & Less Than Jake

This was my first concert in 15 months. I saw both bands play AC Beer Fest on the first weekend of June at a time when everything was starting to transition into a normal-ish time again. AC Beer Fest was an outdoor festival that we tailgated on a beautiful Saturday. I can’t even express what it felt like in that moment to be together with my friends at a ska punk show again. Tears were had. Songs were sung. We skanked and I got beer accidentally dumped on me on the way out to the parking lot. It was the best day with my pals.

Carrie Underwood at Country Jam

Country Jam was my first big gig/festival that I worked since Mexico in the winter of 2020. I also got to work a role that I wanted to try to get involved in on my next festival season, credentials. The last night of the festival Carrie Underwood headlined. I’m not a country fan but of course I know Carrie Underwood, even if it’s only like 2-3 songs. So I anticipated her set all weekend. After a successful week on the Jam Ranch, I watched her Saturday night set with my co-worker friends. Again, it was an incredible feeling to be back to work and back at a music festival and that realization set in while taking in Carrie Underwood. The set culminated in “Before He Cheats.” We went so hard that we probably could have taken a Louisville slugger to both head lights in that moment that truly felt like live music was back.

Miley Cyrus at Lollapalooza

Lollapalooza has always been one of my favorite festivals. Unlike other festivals, I didn’t get to work Lolla in 2019 so it made the return to Lollapalooza this year even more special for me. I actually felt an excitement coming into work the first show day that I hadn’t felt at all yet despite working 2 festivals at that point. It was a different feeling that comes with working my favorite festivals though so that’s probably why. Miley Cyrus headlined the first day of Lollapalooza this year and I figured once I closed up my ticket help I would catch the end of her set. I met up with a girl on my team who I had met 2 days prior and that I clicked with instantly along with my VIP one-off turned festival worker homie Finnerty. Two of our other friends popped out of the VIP area that we were standing next to when Miley went into “7 Things.” We all went so hard. I kind of forgot the song existed until that moment. After that, she just kept playing all the hits. I couldn’t believe how many Miley songs I actually knew. She killed it too. I loved watching everyone get emotional during “The Climb.” The production during “Can’t Be Tamed” was fantastic. Then she closed with “Party in the USA” a half hour after her set was supposed to end which felt like a true party with people being together, dancing, and singing in the heart of downtown Chicago at the first major music festival since the panny d began. It was a special moment, granted some news about new variants and such changed everything the next day. That first night was a true celebration though and I was grateful to take it in from the crowd.

Green Day at Hella Mega

When the Hella Mega Tour was announced in 2019, I knew I wanted to work it. I even got to the point this year thinking I might attend if I didn’t get the chance to work. Fortunately though, I was able to work two dates on the tour and it was the coolest VIP event I worked all year. It was a no stress, low energy type of work day that ended as soon as the headliner, Green Day, took the stage. Green Day is such an iconic band and anyone who has ever listened to alternative/punk music has listened to Green Day. The first date I worked was in Hershey in August. I was entranced when I walked in the venue and I saw Bille Joe Armstrong strumming hard to “Holiday.” Green Day played all their hits on the tour from “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” to “Basket Case” to “21 Guns.” It was all around awesome. They were so entertaining to see live and that was my first time ever seeing them. I, of course, popped in the venue for one or two Fall Out Boy songs earlier and heard their entire set along with Weezer and the Interrupters’ from the VIP check-in spot too. We were set up right near the stage. It was a great day overall and I felt so lucky to have experienced it.

Lizzo at Firefly

Firefly was a rough week and half for me due to some personal feelings and such, but being able to actually be at the festival is always a rarity these days and one I cherished about my time in the Woodlands. After the Lizzo hype of 2019, I was so stoked to see her Sunday night set in one of her first performances back since early 2020. I got to see it from the VIP area with several of my friends who were working in VIP that weekend. It was a nonstop hour and a half dance party filled with endless joy that felt “good as hell!”

Glass Animals

After Firefly ended, I had 2 days before flying out to Austin for ACL. I was home for a total of 26 hours because the night before flying out I saw Glass Animals with my friend Amanda. We bought the tickets when the tour was announced back in May cause I anticipated being able to make the Tuesday night date. I made it happen and it was another night of nonstop dancing. Before I got into Glass Animals, I saw bits and pieces of their July 2017 Panorama set. That following fall I started listening to Glass Animals and felt bummed when I missed the call on them earlier that year. Dreamland was one of my favorite albums of 2020. I spent so much time at home listening to them last year that finally getting to see them perform in late September after all that time felt so satisfying. We had such a good time that we’re even thinking about seeing them again next year at Red Rocks because we don’t wanna talk we just wanna dance to Glass Animals again and again.

Dermot Kennedy at ACL

I made my return to ACL this year after working my first one ever in 2019. It was always a festival that I wanted to work but couldn’t figure out an in for. I was asked at Lolla if I wanted to do it again and I immediately said yes to spending two weeks in Austin. ACL brought a ton of great times and reunions with my ticketing fam and Austin friends, but none was more special than my reunion with my friend Danny, who I lovingly refer to as the Danimal. It had been just over 2 years since we last saw each other and after taking a full time role with a major event company he came to the 2nd weekend of ACL for fun. Thanks to my amazing team I was able to take some time to see all of Dermot Kennedy’s set with Danny. Danny was with me at Coachella 2019 when I first discovered Dermot. I caught Dermot’s set at Lolla, but seeing his ACL set with my favorite festival buddy was more special. We sang along to everything and danced harder than one would expect at a Dermot Kennedy set to the point that we created a mini mosh pit with two strangers during “Giants.” It was one of the most fun live music moments I experienced all year.

Foster the People (Torches X Show)

I already dedicated a whole blog to this show, so please check it out for all the detail. Just to reiterate though, I can’t believe I got to experience this show. It still feels surreal. Favorite band, favorite album, in one of my favorite places. Surreal.

LCD Soundsystem

When I wrote my end of 2020 music recap, I wrote about hoping to hear from LCD Soundsystem again in 2021. Well they came back. They announced a 20 show residency in NYC in November and December in early October and I spent one morning before heading to site at ACL struggling to get tickets. I managed to secure tickets to one of the early December shows with plans to see them again with my friends at their final date of the residency. The residency got cut short due to the unrelenting panny d, but I was still able to go to the show I purchased tickets for in the beginning of December. It became a whole weekend of shows with my friend Hailey who flew in to hang with me and to see James, Nancy, Pat and the rest of the crew. We spent some time hanging in NYC too. LCD Soundsystem always gets me hyped since I never thought I would get to see them after getting into them in 2012 post-break up. This time was no different as I planned to dance myself clean for the third time. We heard, in my opinion, one of the best set lists of the residency too. I danced myself clean with all my friends as daft punk played at my house and New York, which I love brought me down. It was so good that I could do it on repeat.

Streetlight Manifesto

The day after LCD Soundsystem Hailey and I made our way to Philly to attend mine and my friends’ annual Christmas celebration at Streetlight Manifesto. Usually it happens in central Jersey with just me and my two friends Ashley and Noah, but this year with an announced Philly date, we decided to do it there with a bunch of other pals. I convinced Hailey to come even though she wasn’t into Streetlight with the promise that she would get to experience this incredible tradition we started in 2018. Despite not playing “Point/Counterpoint” into “Keasbey Nights” back into “Point/Counterpoint,” we had the best time singing along with our arms around each other to the uptempo ska songs we loved listening to in high school after a year not being able to see Streetlight. It was another one of my favorite concert moments of the year.

Runners-Up:

All Time Low

Thanks to my friend Emily and her homie at the Bottom Lounge in Chicago I was able to attend All Time Low’s Lollapalooza aftershow during Lolla week (the show was Wednesday before the festival started). After Hailey hooked it up with providing a place to stay, we both started talking about attending a show the night before Day 1 of the festival. We both had an interest in All Time Low and it just happened to work out that Emily had connections at the venue when I told her we wanted to attend. The only problem was I worked onsite until 7 PM the day of the show which was when it started. There was an opener though so I figured ATL wouldn’t hit the stage til 8:30 or show and we would be fine. We were not, in fact, fine. All Time Low came on at 8 and we got to the venue around 8:40 by the time I left work, moved my stuff to the place we were staying, quickly changed, and ubered there. We saw the last 4-5 songs though. They were all bangers and it was enjoyable for the brief time we were there. I got to hear “Dear Maria…” their most iconic song, which was really cool because I’ve known that song since high school and I had never seen All Time Low before that night. Overall, it was fun to take in a show with Hailey since we were getting to know each other and realized we had similar music tastes. It really kicked off my return to Lollapalooza too and I knew it would be a great week.

The Killers at Firefly

As I mentioned before, I was able to see a bunch of music at Firefly given my role and hours for the week. I was able to see everything I wanted to see on Friday and Sunday at the festival, which included Friday night’s headliner, The Killers. Both times I saw the Killers previously were with my mom, so this was the first time seeing them without her. I was sure to record her favorite song though and send it to her as I took in the set with some of my festie friends. It was another set of the weekend that included tons of dancing as I sang along to mostly every song. The Killers always put on a good show and this was no different even if they didn’t end with “Mr. Brightside.”

Nelly at Firefly

My inner middle school self was so excited to see Nelly at Firefly. That’s the great thing about festivals, being able to see music you wouldn’t normally buy a concert ticket to. I took advantage of the opportunity and it was such a fun set. Nelly was so big during my middle school and high school years that I knew almost every song he performed. There was a huge crowd for his set and almost everyone was singing/rapping along to hits like “Ride Wit Me”, “Hot in Herre”, “Air Force Ones”, and “Grillz.” As a former fan, it was definitely a highlight to be able to see Nelly this year.

Now that I did a double review for the year that brought live music back into our lives, what’s next? Well there’s still plenty of concerts and events that didn’t get to happen this year so next year the comeback is still on. I’m highly anticipating new Arctic Monkeys next year and a Foster the People tour that they mentioned at their Torches X show. I’m also still hoping for new music from LCD Soundsystem. At least they came back to play shows these past 2 months. I’m also excited for new alt-J and Bastille. Both have new albums dropping in February. I’m still hoping for more Florence and the Machine as I was last year, but it would also be great to add Tegan & Sara to that list too.

If all goes well, in a few days there should be a certain well-known festival that will be dropping a lineup. I have my fingers crossed that all goes accordingly with it this year since it’s been 3 years since the last one. I know so many others are hopeful as well. In any event, once that lineup drops there will be several blog posts coming straight from the marathon month I’ll be spending in Mexico, since those events are back as well. 2021 will definitely go down as a return to live music and I hope it all keeps going smoothly into the next year. Until then, don’t stop listening and buying tickets!

30: Album Review

Since May of 2019 when Adele made a social media post about her 30th year, fans across the globe (me included) waited for a new album. After speculation it would come in 2020, getting delayed, and plenty of teasing moments of her name trending on social media, Adele finally released the first single, “Easy On Me”, from her new album 30 back in October 2021. This also came with the announcement that her new record would drop on November 19th. I knew I would be in LA that day and while there I made sure I stayed up long enough to listen to the new record that dropped at midnight EST. From the brief run through that night, I realized this was Adele’s most musically diverse album yet.

Adele’s albums are usually pretty predictable – heart breaking ballads and occasionally a bop like “Rolling in the Deep”. This album had a mix of all of it plus some tracks that sound straight out of the 40’s or 50’s. There’s a track that adds an electronic flavor to her repertoire with “Oh My God,” one of two bops from 30. You also get some classic 19 era Adele with “Cry Your Heart Out.” The album is different, but it works.

I pre-ordered the album a few weeks earlier because I knew I wouldn’t be in town to grab it right away. I got the Target version which included 3 exclusive tracks, “Wild Wild West,” “Can’t Be Together,” and a version of “Easy on Me” with Chris Stapleton. Honestly I’m glad I got it because I really dig “Wild Wild West” and especially “Can’t Be Together.” Both songs could have easily been on the standard version of the record.

Overall, I don’t think this is Adele’s best album. I like that she diversified her music a bit and I like some of it, maybe even most of it, but I just wasn’t into all of it. 21 and 25 are tough to beat too. 30 does have several songs that will be Adele faves for years to come though. “Easy on Me” is the perfect first single. “I Drink Wine” is so relatable and I still can’t get over “Oh My God” and “Can I Get It.” The point is even if this album isn’t my fave it’s still going to be massively successful, because even if it’s not the best, it’s still Adele and she’s the best. She’s a superstar. She can definitely get it and I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to get enough.

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.

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.

Women in Music Pt. III: Album Review

I’ve been patiently waiting for Haim’s third album, Women in Music Pt. III to drop. Some of the bright spots of this year have been the release of new music so I’ve been looking forward to this brand new album by one of my favorite bands. The album was slated for release on April 24th, but due to the current world wide crisis was pushed back for a late summer release. Then it was bumped up to a June 26th release date. June 26th was Friday, which means the album is finally out!

Haim has been releasing new music for almost a year now with “Summer Girl” dropping at the end of last July. Several other singles have also dropped in the lead up to the album release. Before live music ceased in March, Haim was in the midst of a Deli tour that honored their Jewish roots. The band was playing small shows at famous delis in a few locations around the country in honor of their first show ever being at Canter’s Deli in L.A. in 2000. The band played two of those scheduled dates before the country began to shut down. In honor of the album’s release though, the band did a live stream on Friday from Canter’s.

The biggest difference between Women in Music Pt. III and Haim’s first two albums is that this one hits deeper. The song topics get personal and more sad than their earlier works. Many songs on the album sound like the total opposite of that though. I’ve heard them described as “sad bangers”. A few tracks also add hints of jazz and Caribbean/tropical vibes to Haim’s west coast style pop/soft rock. Overall the album offers versatility in sound and lyrics compared to Days Are Gone and Something to Tell You. It’s got the Haim we’ve always loved (my favorite song “Don’t Wanna”) plus the Haim that is growing and pushing their style more (“Los Angeles”).

When live music is finally a thing again, expect plenty of tour dates and festival dates from these three sisters. I would even expect them to join the lineup for Taylor Swift’s festival next summer. Until then, bask in the greatness of this new music we were given in the strangest of times. It’s a great soundtrack for the summer and one you should take in before you can see them perform again. For me, new music is one of the only things that has felt the way it’s supposed to feel and I owe Haim and whoever else is releasing new music this year for this piece of comfort in a very uncomfortable year.

Notes On A Conditional Form: Album Review

In a time where there’s not much in the immediate future to look forward to, we thankfully still have music. New albums and songs are still being released. Some releases may have been delayed, but they’re still happening this year. For an industry that’s been crushed by this world wide crisis, it offers a glimmer of hope and an abundance of jams.

Today, The 1975 dropped their highly anticipated fourth album, Notes On A Conditional Form. The album release was twice delayed already this year, but every few weeks a new single from the album was released in the lead up to this weekend’s official release. To me, this feels like The 1975’s most ambitious album to date. Stylistically, it crosses genres, yet still maintains the indie/synth pop sound well associated with The 1975.

An inkling of this genre breach happened when the band dropped one of the new album’s first songs, “People.” The track sounds more like a punk rock/hardcore anthem than anything you’ve ever heard from The 1975 in the past. I remember being pleasantly surprised with the vibe of the new song as someone who grew up listening to punk and hardcore music, but I still questioned where the band was going with it. As more songs were released, I was assured that their new album would be full of stylistic surprises.

In early April, The 1975 released the song “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America,” which features indie folk rock artist, Phoebe Bridgers, who was supposed to join the band on their 2020 tour until it was inevitably postponed. The song is a testament to Bridgers’ folk rock style. The only thing that gives it away is Matty Healy’s vocals, but even Healy’s sound succumbs to the song style. “Playing on My Mind” also has that indie folk feel.

“Roadkill,” which wasn’t released prior to the full album, sounds like it could’ve come off a Sam Hunt record. It’s got an unmistakable country twang. Despite the country vibe, it still feels like a 1975 indie pop song. I kind of love it. There’s also a few interlude tracks on the record that bridge into another genre as well. These songs take the standard synth pop sound of the band into a more electronic sound. “Shiny Collarbone” and about halfway through “Having No Head” are those dance tracks.

The album is full of songs that sound like what you would expect from The 1975 too. There’s several bangers like “Me & You Together Song”, “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)”, and “Frail State of Mind” and smooth rock ballads like “Guys”, “The Birthday Party”, “Don’t Worry”, and “Nothing Revealed/Everything Denied.” It’s honestly such a great mix of music.

Like I said, this album feels different than what we’re used to from The 1975, but it blends genres remarkably well and still gives us the sound that we’re looking for. It may have taken me an album to actually get into The 1975 (I really got into them after “The Sound” from I like it when you sleep…), but I’ve been a fan ever since. I’ve always really been into their hits. “The Sound” (obviously), “Sex”, “Heart Out”, “Chocolate”, and “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” are a few of my favorites. This new album feels different in a good way though and even the songs I don’t typically fall for, I love. I think if you’re an indie music fan or a music fan in general, you can find something on this record that you’ll like. It’s got something for everyone. But really, you might just love it all, it’s that good. So give it a shot. If you don’t find it appealing, my solution is that maybe you would like it better if you took off your clothes. (Of course, that one is my favorite!)

Coachella Band Preview: Rex Orange County

This is my last week in Mexico and I have to say it’s been a great run. It’s always an exciting time to start the year, but I think all of us here are aware of the unofficial name of the Mexico runs…the Coachella pregame. Now that we’re halfway through February, Coachella is officially on the horizon. I’ve realized one thing while preparing for Coachella down in Mexico. It’s that there’s no better artist to prep for Coachella with down here than Rex Orange County.

At just 21 years old, Alexander O’Connor, aka Rex Orange County, is an indie pop artist from Grayshott, England. He got his moniker from a nickname he received growing up, “the OC”, based on his last name “O’Connor”. While growing up he was in the school choir and also learned to play drums. Because of his drumming talents, he attended the BRIT school, whose alumni include Adele, Amy Winehouse, and King Krule. Beyond the drums and singing, he’s also a self-taught pianist and guitarist.

In 2016, Rex Orange County self-released his first album bcos u will never b free on SoundCloud. The album release brought him some attention from Tyler the Creator. Rex eventually worked on a few of Tyler’s tracks (“Boredom” and “Foreword”) on Flower Boy. He released his second album Apricot Princess in 2017. That year he also released one of his most popular songs to date “Loving Is Easy” in collaboration with Benny Sings. His most recent album Pony was just released in October and Rex Orange County is currently touring in support of the album.

Rex Orange County’s music comprises a lot of different genres, combining hip-hop, R&B, pop, and indie music. His tracks range from feeling very vibey and Cali-influenced to hip-hop tracks and soulful R&B sounding vocals. He definitely defines post-genre indie music.

This year will be Rex Orange County’s first Coachella. He plays Friday. He’s high on the bill of artists and very well known amongst youth so I’d expect to see him on the Main or Outdoor Stages. Expect a huge draw for this young Brit’s first Coachella. Also expect some pure Coachella vibes from some of his songs. Here are a few you should know:

  1. Loving Is Easy
  2. Best Friend
  3. Sunflower
  4. UNO
  5. 10/10
  6. Corduroy Dreams
  7. Television/So Far So Good
  8. Pluto Projector
  9. Happiness
  10. Untitled

Coachella Band Preview: Jai Wolf

Greetings again from Mexico! I’m back for the second leg of the events I’m a part of here. However just because I’m here doesn’t mean the Coachella preparations have ceased. April is quickly approaching and it’s time to check out another artist playing the festival this year. This week it’s electronic artist Jai Wolf.

Jai Wolf, or Sajeeb Saha, is an electronic artist from Long Island, New York. He first started making tracks in 2011, but adopted the name Jai Wolf in 2014 to create a new sound from what he had been creating. The result earned him opportunities to remix artists such as Odesza and Alesso. He also created a remix of Skrillex’s “Ease My Mind”. Jai Wolf released his debut single “Indian Summer” in 2015. He released a follow-up single “Drive” in May of 2016, shortly before his debut EP Kindred Spirits was released in November. He finally released his debut album The Cure to Loneliness last year after years of touring and dropping singles.

Jai Wolf’s style of electronic music has a very dreamy sound. It combines electronica, pop, dance and indie music. His sound draws a lot of comparison to Odesza. It makes sense that the artists have toured together. I first found out about Jai Wolf in the summer of 2017 when a girl I had a crush on introduced me to him. I’ve been a casual listener ever since. I also have seen him perform once. It was part of his Made in America set in 2018.

This won’t be Jai Wolf’s first time at Coachella. He played the festival in 2017. That was clearly before I knew of him since I definitely haven’t previewed him before. In 2017, he played the Gobi Tent in the early evening. I’d expect a similar time this year, but in a bigger location. Maybe he plays Mojave or Sahara instead. This time around I plan on catching him. He plays on Saturday. Here are some Jai Wolf jams to help you prep for Indio:

  1. Indian Summer
  2. Starlight
  3. Moon Rider
  4. Lose My Mind
  5. Like It’s Over
  6. Lost
  7. Feels (Remix)
  8. Drive
  9. Telepathy
  10. Better Apart

Coachella Band Preview: Lana Del Rey

Of course I’m starting off my band previews with the artist I’m most excited to see perform at Coachella. Ever since Lana played Coachella in 2014 amidst a stacked lineup of some of my favorite bands and artists, I’ve been waiting for the day I would get to see her play the southern California music festival. She’s been one of my favorite artists for about 8 years now. Finally the day has come where I can say here’s what you need to know about Lana Del Rey.

Lana Del Rey came onto the music scene in 2012 with her debut album Born to Die, but she wasn’t really new to the music scene at the time. She had been singing under the name Lizzy Grant (her real name is Elizabeth Grant). Since 2012, she’s released 5 albums, 1 EP, and has also released music for movie soundtracks like “Young and Beautiful” for 2013’s Great Gatsby, “Once Upon A Dream” for 2014’s Maleficent, and most recently her Ariana Grande and Miley Cyrus collaboration “Don’t Call Me Angel” for the latest Charlie’s Angels remake. I’ve written about Lana Del Rey on this blog before. I’ve written about her and reviewed her last 3 albums, HoneymoonLust For Life, and most recently Norman Fucking Rockewell!. Normally if I’ve written about a Coachella artist before, I combine those I write about into one big post closer to the festival. This year, since there’s only a few artists like that and an even smaller selection to preview than in years past (what can I say the music I’m into is just not being played at Coachella this year!), I figured I’m gonna preview everyone individually even those I’ve written about before.

Lana Del Rey has only ever played one other Coachella. In the 6 years that it has been since the last one, she’s put out 4 more albums. Her haunting vocals and baroque/dream pop style of music is a huge mood for the festival though. It fits the Coachella atmosphere so well. She’s already told us she’ll be playing Sunday evening right before headliner Frank Ocean, which means she’s got that early evening main stage spot locked. This means we probably won’t get that ideal sunset set for her west coast jams. Her now somewhat large discography means she’ll have a large selection of tunes to play this spring. I’m hoping I finally get to hear her Coachella-inspired song “Coachella – Woodstock On My Mind” at the festival that brought it to life. I’m also hoping she mixes in some of her older hits as well since her first album was one of my favorites of the last decade. She also claimed she’s bringing all of her friends, meaning there will be plenty of special guests. The Weeknd, Stevie Nicks, A$AP Rocky, and Sean Lennon have all made appearances on her records. Any one of them could be a likely guest of Lana.

We have 3 months to wait and see what her Coachella set will be like, but just know it’ll probably be packed and worth the 6 year wait. She could have easily headlined this festival so expect almost a secondary headlining performance from the artistic queen. Sunday evening will surely bring the heat this year. I’m sure I’ll be “feeling like I’m fucking crazy” by the time she performs, but I can’t wait for “ride” Lana Del Rey will take us on.

Here are just a handful of songs you should know:

  1. National Anthem
  2. Ride
  3. Mariners Apartment Complex
  4. Summertime Sadness
  5. Coachella – Woodstock On My Mind
  6. Lust For Life
  7. West Coast
  8. Born to Die
  9. Young and Beautiful
  10. Video Games
  11. Love
  12. Blue Jeans
  13. Doin’ Time
  14. hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it
  15. Beautiful People Beautiful Problems

 

 

Coachella 2020 Lineup Review

The countdown to Coachella 2020 is officially here! After spending yesterday feeling like the lineup wasn’t going to come, the Coachella twitter came alive around 8:30 p.m. EST. Then, I knew it was coming. They started tweeting out artists playing the festival by retweeting tweets from years ago from the artists playing the festival or from casual twitter followers mentioning artists playing the festival and adding their own comments. Then around 10:05 p.m. EST, the lineup dropped.

After 2014, I used to hope mercilessly for a similar great lineup every year. When finally after 2018’s lineup disappointment, I stopped expecting great indie rock lineups. I feel like this year’s mix of music has hardly any indie rock/indie pop. It’s really disheartening. I looked at the 2011-2014 lineups last night in reverse order. It was incredible. When I looked at 2011 I was incredibly shocked at how much these festival lineups have changed over the last 10 years. 2011 was the year I was introduced to Coachella because Foster the People (who I was introduced to around the same time) was on the bill. I feel less disappointed than I did in 2018 because I know I’ll still have a great time at the festival and there are a few artists who I’m very excited to see play Coachella.

First and foremost though, the Coachella 2020 lineup as follows:

The Headliners: Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott, Frank Ocean

As typical, over the past few weeks these were the three names rumored to be headlining the festival. I knew about Travis Scott for almost a year due to some inside industry sources. I was hoping there might be another Tame Impala-esque headliner but not the case this year. Out of these three, I’m most excited for 90’s rock band, Rage Against the Machine. They played the first ever Coachella in 1999! I know a few of their songs, as most people do. Plus, I’m not sure if there’s any other way I’d ever see them. I’ll definitely be re-listening to their stuff in preparation for their Friday night set. Travis Scott has been headlining festivals over the past few years so Coachella was one of the next steps. It’s not his first time in Indio either after he played the festival in 2017. He’s even hosted his own ASTROWORLD festival the past 2 years in Houston, Texas. Frank Ocean hasn’t played Coachella in 8 years. This time he makes his return as a headliner. He doesn’t tour either, which makes his festival appearances all the more special. He headlined Panorama back in 2017 when I worked it. I never got into him but I heard him play there, which is apparently more rare than I realized. Frank Ocean’s R&B/hip-hop style isn’t my cup of tea, but he’s got a large following of fans that are stoked to see him headline Coachella.

The Other Highly Billed Performers: Calvin Harris, Run the Jewels, Rex Orange County, Megan Thee Stallion, BIGBANG, Flume, Thom Yorke (Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes), Disclosure, 21 Savage, Danny Elfman, DaBaby, Summer Walker, Lana Del Rey, Lil Uzi Vert, Daniel Caesar, FKA Twigs, Marina, Louis the Child, Ari Lennox, BROCKHAMPTON, Big Sean, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizards, City Girls, Lewis Capaldi, Madeon, Charli XCX, Lane 8, GRiZ, Anitta, Caribou, Joji, Testpilot, Swae Lee, Black Coffee, Cuco, Jai Wolf, Roddy Ricch, Yaeji, Koffee, Tchami, Dixon, Fatboy Slim, Banda MS, Lil Nas X, Mura Masa, Duck Sauce, Jessie Reyez, SLANDER, Denzel Curry, J.I.D.

The two artists I’m most excited for this year are in this mix. Both could have easily headlined this festival and both were the first name under the headliner on their respective days.

Lana Del Rey, one of my favorite artists, will be back this year for the first time since 2014. After dropping one of her best albums this past year (Norman Fucking Rockwell!) thanks to the help of famed songwriter/producer Jack Antonoff, Lana deserves to be back at Coachella. Hopefully my dream of hearing Lana play “Coachella – Woodstock On My Mind” at Coachella will come true!

Flume, the first electronic artist I could ever say I liked, is also playing. Flume has really exploded over the last 5 years. He’s played Coachella before but this year he’s back in his biggest spot yet and with new music. Last year he dropped his mixtape Hi I’m Flume and the hit electronic single “Rushing Back” with Vera Blue. Who knows if he’ll release any more new music in the lead up to Coachella, but it’s safe to say Flume is back this year after a few shows and festival stints in 2019.

I’m also pretty excited for electronic DJ Jai Wolf. I was able to watch some of his Made in America set in 2018, but I’ve never seen him other than that. I’ve been into his music for the past few years as well. His cred has really gone up in the last few years too earning him a second line spot on the Coachella lineup.

Three years ago, composer Hans Zimmer played Coachella with a full orchestra coming in to support his set of movie magic. I’m expecting a similar performance from composer Danny Elfman. I’m also expecting to hear the entirety of A Nightmare Before Christmas. I feel like sets like this are so unique that you should try to catch them because it’s doubtful you may ever get another chance to witness something like it.

90’s EDM artist Fatboy Slim is also a part of this year’s lineup. It’s not his first time soaking up the Coachella vibes either. His set should be filled with classic dance jams and should also be a ton of fun. I’m definitely gonna try to catch it if I can.

Former Coachella headliner Calvin Harris is also included in this mix. He last played the year I attended in 2015. I remember hearing a lot about Calvin Harris in the early 2010’s but I feel like his hype has since dropped. His biggest hit since he last performed has to be 2018’s “One Kiss” with Dua Lipa and 2016’s “This Is What You Came For” with Rihanna. A lot of people are already hoping he brings out Rihanna as a guest.

Some other big names from this list are hip hop duo Run the Jewels, rising rap star Megan Thee Stallion, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, electronic duo Disclosure, rising pop star Lewis Capaldi, rapper Denzel Curry, and one of 2019’s most famed newcomers Lil Nas X. The biggest shocker of this year’s lineup was the exclusion of My Chemical Romance who was rumored to be playing the festival for weeks especially after their reunion show at Goldenvoice venue the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles. Many people, myself included, anticipated Coachella as being the second return of the band. Maybe MCR will be a part of the festival though? They could always come on as a guest of an artist.

The Rest: Chicano Batman, Omar Apollo, Kim Petras, IDLES, Daphni, The Martinez Brothers, Pink Sweat$, Peggy Gou, Hatsune Miku, TNGHT, Rich Brian, Damian Lazarus, Princess Nokia, slowthai, YBN Cordae, TOKiMONSTA, The Chats, NIKI, Malaa, PUP, The HU, The Regrettes, Friendly Fires, Sleaford Mods, Erick Morillo, Cashmere Cat, Beach Bunny, Tiga, Amyl & The Sniffers, Amber Mark, Code Orange, L’Impératrice, Kyle Watson, VNSSA, Lost Kings, Jayda G, Giselle Woo & the Night Owls, Melé, ela minus, Kynda Black, Hot Chip, Carly Rae Jepson, DJ Koze, Floating Points, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, BADBADNOTGOOD, Pabllo Vittar, MIKA, ANNA, Snail Mail, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Steve Lacy, Weyes Blood, Masego, Orville Peck, Chelsea Cutler, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, Matoma, 100 gecs, black midi, Nilüfer Yanya, Chris Liebing, Raveena, Sasha Sloan, beabadoobee, Ezra Collective, Inner Wave, Emo Nite, girl in red, Aya Nakamura, Sama’, Beach Goons, Fontaines D.C., The Murder Capital, Paco Osuna, Mannequin Pussy, The Comet is Coming, Whipped Cream, Anna Calvi, GG Magree, Ellen Allien, ONYVAA, DJ Lord, Sara Landry, Ленинград, Epik High, Duke Dumont, Lauren Daigle, Conan Gray, Bedouin, Bishop Briggs, (Sandy) Alex G, Big Wild, Alec Benjamin, Noname, YUNGBLUD, Dave, SebastiAn, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Emotional Oranges, Channel Tres, Crumb, Doja Cat, Ed Maverick, Ali Gatie, Hayden James, Skegss, Monolink, Dom Dolla, Satori, Black Pumas, Sampa the Great, Altın Gün, Luttrell, Nathy Peluso, Olivia O’Brien, Mariah the Scientist, Viagra Boys, Cariño, Adam Port, Guy Laliberté, Detlef, Sahar Z, also featuring 88rising’s Double Happiness

As per the usual, there’s several great artists in this mix of the names in tiny font on the lineup. The one that stands out the most for me is Bishop Briggs. I fell in love with Bishop Briggs music in late 2017. I felt like I missed out on her all summer as she played the festival circuit. Since then I’ve been able to catch her performances the last two summers, at Electric Forest in 2018 and at Bonnaroo last summer. I’m extremely excited to see her perform at Coachella though. She’s fantastic and always brings so much energy to her sets.

Hayden James is another artist I’m super stoked for. His song “Numb” was my most listened to song in 2018 and I saw his Electric Forest sets that summer as well. He released his debut album over the past year and his only Coachella performance happened at the Do Lab so this is definitely progress for him.

A few other great ones from this list are Lost Kings, Matoma, and Hot Chip. I’ve wanted to get into Hot Chip for years since their style is a lot like LCD Soundsystem. I just always forget about them because they’re not really on the scene much anymore. Them being on the Coachella lineup is going to push me to listen to them a lot in the next few months so I can be ready for their Coachella set. Matoma’s “Old Thing Back” remix was one of the first electronic songs I liked. I actually listened to it on my drive to Indio on the way to my first Coachella in 2015. I’ve never seen him perform either so I’ll really be looking forward to hearing Matoma’s Saturday set. One of Lost Kings first songs, “You”, was one of my favorite songs in 2016. I’ve listen to a few of their songs here and there since then too so I’m super stoked they’ll be a part of Coachella this year. Depending on their set time, I may not be able to see any of their set, but it’s still pretty cool that they’ll be performing.

Some other artists I’m hoping to get into in preparation for this year are electronic/pop singer Chelsea Cutler, punk band Mannequin Pussy, and alternative/pop-punk/scene artist YUNGBLUD. Also Carley Rae Jepson of “Call Me Maybe” fame will be playing this year so that might be a fun set to see. I’ve also heard great things about Emotional Oranges  and Sasha Sloan who has sang on Odesza and Kygo tracks that I’ve liked.

One of the most unusual/wonderful names on this part of the lineup is Emo Nite. Emo Nite LA is playing Coachella. How is that even a thing?! Emo Nite isn’t a band, artist, or DJ. It’s just an emo music party. I’m probably wrong about this but I feel like when the My Chemical Romance rumors started, Paul booked Emo Nite to try to make up for it! HA! It seems like great reasoning but I’m sure they were booked for a while. Maybe Emo Nite is just code for My Chemical Romance and the band will suddenly appear. I’m still pretty stoked about it and am definitely gonna try to go to Emo Nite.

So that’s it. Coachella 2020 is finally on the horizon and we have 3 months of prep to do. I feel like I have a ton to do and plenty of bands and artists to learn more about. As the years progress, I feel like Coachella is getting further and further away from the music I love and what the festival used to be. The atmosphere is still the best there is though. I also still have hope that one of these years the lineup is going to shock me. It might not be this year, but that just means I’m probably going to find a love in a lot of these acts just as I did last year with Maggie Rogers, Lizzo, and Dermot Kennedy.

You can look forward to band previews each week. I’m going to be working in Mexico again this year over the next two months but Coachella previews will be coming regardless. It’s always been my favorite thing to blog about from January to April and I won’t let anything stop it. So now it’s time to start listening. I already have. It’s Coachella SZN Baby! Let’s get this desert party started!