psychedelic rock

Coachella Band Preview: Mac DeMarco

We’ve hit February. One month down, two to go until Coachella 2019. I hope you’ve been jamming to all the Coachella bands and prepping your flower crowns for the annual two weekend party in the Indio desert. This week I’m previewing another indie rock act set to make his third Coachella appearance this year.

Canadian artist Mac DeMarco came onto the music scene as a backing musician around 2008 shortly after he graduated high school in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He relocated to Vancouver but failed to reach success as a musician there. He then moved to Montreal in 2011 to work on a solo project. It was from there that DeMarco signed with Captured Tracks and released his first EP Rock and Roll Night Club. The EP lead the way to DeMarco’s first full-length album 2. The album received a nod from indie music outlet Pitchfork being labeled as “Best New Music”.

Mac DeMarco’s second album Salad Days was released two years later and again it received the same praise from Pitchfork. He released another mini-album/EP Another One in 2015. He also released an instrumental album that same year entitled Some Other Ones. Mac’s latest album This Old Dog was released on May 5, 2017.

Mac DeMarco has described his style of music as “jizz jazz”. I think it fits the indie music category perfectly. It’s something you’d hear at Urban Outfitters circa 2011. It’s super chill and vibey. Some might call it indie rock or psychedelic rock. It does have elements of both genres, but in my opinion it’s way less rock from what you’d consider indie rock to be and way more pure indie, if that’s a thing?

I found out about Mac DeMarco from a friend in 2016. He was playing a music festival that I had hopes of volunteering at that spring as well. I ended up volunteering at the festival but not seeing Mac DeMarco since he performed while I was on my shift. I did see one of his live sets in 2017 though. I was working Lollapalooza and I was supposed to finish at 10 p.m. that night but I was cut early. I realized I had some time so I decided to catch Mac DeMarco’s set since he was closing out the night at one of the smaller Lolla stages and I didn’t care for the headliners. The set was so fun. Seeing him live is nothing like listening to his music. He jams, gets drunk, plays crazy Vanessa Carlton covers and plays his tunes in the midst of all that. It’s a great live music experience.

Mac DeMarco plays on Saturday. I’m guessing he has a late afternoon, early evening time slot, but as for what stage I don’t have a great guess. It may even be possible that he headlines a smaller stage just as he did at Lolla in 2017. His music fits the chill Coachella atmosphere perfectly. Unless you’re a huge fan who wants to be front and center, this is a perfect set to catch while laying out in the field, sitting under some shade (if he plays in the afternoon!), or just relaxing while soaking up all those Coachella vibes. I highly recommend catching his set though because like I said his live performances are fun and highly crowd-oriented. You never know what you’re gonna get from Mac DeMarco. Here’s a few tunes you should know:

  1. Salad Days
  2. Chamber of Reflection
  3. Freaking Out the Neighborhood
  4. Still Beating
  5. Ode to Viceroy
  6. This Old Dog
  7. Honey Moon
  8. On the Level
  9. Let Her Go
  10. Another One

(and also Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” just in case that cover happens again!)

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Coachella Band Preview: Tame Impala

Welcome back to week 1 of Coachella Band Previews. As always, we’ve got 3 months and a lot of listening to do. This week I decided to start strong with Saturday night headliner Tame Impala. As I said in my lineup release post, I was super hyped to see Tame Impala’s name in big letters as a headliner this year so it made sense that I previewed them before everyone else. Needless to say, I’ve never actually wrote about them on this blog before either. Not until today that is.

Tame Impala is an Australian psychedelic indie pop rock band based out of Perth. The band was formed in 2007 as a home recording project of guitarist and vocalist, Kevin Parker. He started posting the music to his MySpace page which began receiving some attention from music labels. He then brought Dominic Simper (bass) and Jay Watson (drums) into the mix for live shows. Now Simper and Watson are playing different instruments in the band (guitar and synth for both as well as vocals for Watson) and Cam Avery (bass, vocals) and Julien Barbagallo (drums, vocals) have joined as well.

The band released their debut self-titled EP in September 2008. Three songs from the five song EP received national airplay. The EP reached number 1 on the Australian Independent Records Labels Chart as well as number 10 on the ARIA Physical Singles Chart. The band embarked on tours in support of You Am I, The Black Keys, Yeasayer, and MGMT as well as a national headlining tour in support of their EP. They released a new single “Sundown Syndrome” in 2009 and continued touring through 2010.

2010 also brought the band’s first full length album Innerspeaker which was received with general and critical acclaim nationally and in the U.K. and U.S. The band received 4 ARIA Music Award nominations that year as well, but did not win in any category they were nominated for.

The group’s second album Lonerism was release in October of 2012. Like its predecessor, the new album again received praise in Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. It was voted the number one album of the year from mediums in all 3 countries. The group then embarked on an international tour in 2012 through 2013. This included the group’s second stop at Coachella (the first was in 2011). It was in 2013 that original member Nick Allbrook left the band and Cam Avery took his place. The album also received a 2014 Grammy Nomination for Best Alternative Music Album.

The band’s most recent album Currents was released in July 2015. To date the album is the band’s best charting release, reaching number one in Australia, number three in the U.K., and number four in the U.S. The album won 2 ARIA awards for Best Rock Album and Album of the Year and was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.

Parker recently said that there will be new music for Tame Impala in 2019. As of now, no official date for an album is known. A first time headlining spot at Coachella might just be the place to preview some new tracks though.

Tame Impala’s style of music can be best described as trippy. It is psychedelic rock after all, but it’s much more rock oriented than the kind of music you’d hear from psychedelic jam bands like the Grateful Dead or Phish. “Let It Happen” does close in on the 8 minute mark though. It’s more on the indie rock spectrum of music than other well known bands associated with psychedelic music.

I’m not sure how or where I first heard Tame Impala, but I began listening to them around the Lonerism era. I actually purchased Lonerism from Amoeba Records in Hollywood on my first visit to California (one of my all time favorite vacations). I bought it in CD form because I didn’t think I’d be able to transport a record properly on an airplane. I can’t say I binged on the CD after that but I’ve definitely been listening to Tame Impala here and there ever since.

2019 marks Tame Impala’s 4th Coachella appearance. After playing in 2011 and 2013, the band then played again in 2015. This is of course the first headlining spot for the Australian rockers. I’m not sure what kind of crowd size Tame Impala will draw. They’re definitely not as big of a headliner as Beyoncé was last year. I’m guessing Bassnectar will overlap in set times as well, which hopefully may pull a lot of the youth attendees to the Sahara Tent or Outdoor Stage, wherever Bassnectar may be posted up. Tame Impala’s performance will surely be epic production wise. I’m hoping it’s comparable to or beyond that of Panorama 2017’s headlining set. The visuals, lasers, strobes, and everything in between brought an incredible vibe to Randall’s Island that night, which I hope translates to the Polo fields come April. So now it’s time to start listening to Tame Impala for the next three months, here’s what you need to hear:

  1. Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
  2. Let It Happen
  3. Elephant
  4. The Less I Know The Better
  5. Half Full Glass of Wine
  6. Solitude is Bliss
  7. Mind Mischief
  8. Eventually
  9. Cause I’m A Man
  10. New Person, Same Old Mistakes

 

Coachella Band Preview: Tash Sultana

Because I forgot to post last week’s blog after I wrote it and instead posted it this week, you’re getting two band previews this week! We’re almost near the end of January. We’re still a while away from Weekend 1, but I can feel it looming. Can’t you?! Since I already gave you plenty of Kygo to listen to this week, I thought I’d preview an artist who has a little less music to listen to. What she does have out is pretty awesome and original.

Natasha “Tash” Sultana is an Australian musician/singer/songwriter who grew up in Melbourne. She took to music at the age of three when she received a guitar from her grandfather. Now at age 22, she can play over 10 instruments. 2016 was her breakthrough year, but until then Tash struggled to find regular work and used street performing as her way to get by. She was however the lead vocalist of the band Mindpilot from 2008 through 2012.

She started receiving attention in 2016 through social media and the internet. She also released her first EP, Notion on September 16th independently through her own label Lonely Lands Records. The EP peaked at number 4 on ARIA Australian Albums Chart. It included two songs that were voted to Australia’s Triple J Hottest 100, “Jungle” (#3) and “Notion” (#32). She also embarked on a world tour in support of Notion.

In 2017, Tash continued to tour and also announced that her debut album would be released in the spring of 2018. She released the singles “Murder to the Mind” in April and “Mystik” in October along with being nominated for 4 ARIA Awards (Breakthrough Artist, Best Independent Release (Notion), Best Blues and Roots Album (Notion), and Best Australian Live Act).

Her rock music style features elements of reggae and psychedelic music. Her style can also be classified as indie rock. Each of her tracks have a different sound and her vocals are mesmerizing. It’s the kind of music you can just chill to. I love it because the sound meshed with her vocals is unique to my usual listening tastes.

I first found out about her in early October after my friend worked at All Things Go Fall Classic in Washington, DC. A patron at the festival told her about Tash Sultana so she checked out Tash and told me about her as well. Then I checked her out and enjoyed what I heard. My friend then saw her perform a week later at Austin City Limits. I wasn’t so fortunate. She is relatively new to the music scene and is just starting to get some attention in America. She recently performed on Late Night with Seth Meyers in October. That makes me think I’ll have plenty of time to get to see her live, especially if I get to be a part of Coachella this year and can catch her set.

She plays Saturday at Coachella. In my opinion Saturday’s lineup is stacked. I would expect to see Tash play an earlier set on Saturday. You never know though. She might end up with a mid-afternoon spot at the Gobi or Mojave Tent. If you have a chance, I would check her out though. She’s under that “up and coming” title for the festival this year. She’s also got a debut album coming out soon. Here’s what you can check out by her so far though:

  1. Jungle
  2. Mystik
  3. Notion
  4. Gemini
  5. Synergy
  6. Murder to Mind
  7. Big Smoke (Pts. 1 & 2)

Coachella Band Preview: Portugal. The Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Feel It Still

2. Live in the Moment

3. Purple, Yellow, Red and Blue

4. People Say

5. Modern Jesus

6. So Young

7. Noise Pollution

8. Rich Friends

9. Easy Tiger

10. So American

Legendary Venues: The Fillmore

You may have heard of The Fillmore if you live in Philadelphia, Detroit, DC, Baltimore, or Charlotte, but The Fillmore name actually started in San Francisco at a venue located on the corner of Fillmore Street and Geary Boulevard and it still exists today. The Fillmore originally opened in 1912 as a dance hall under the name “The Majestic Hall and Majestic Academy of Dancing”. Through the 1930’s the legendary venue continued to operate as a dance hall under various names and management. It became a roller rink through the 1940’s, but in the 1950’s the venue transformed into a place where live music filled the space between walls.

In 1954 The Fillmore began operating as a music venue under the leadership of Charles Sullivan. Sullivan began booking some of the best names in black music at the time such as James Brown, Ike & Tina Turner, and Bobby “Blue” Bland. By the 60’s, San Francisco was at the height of hip culture in the United States and The Fillmore was just a small piece in that thanks to then up and coming concert promoter, Bill Graham.

Graham began using the venue with the approval of Sullivan in 1965 to book bands. Bill Graham was responsible for giving The Fillmore a name due to his ability to hire and promote bands who played new, creative styles of music (which became known as psychedelic music). Some of those bands were Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, Santana, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Butterfield Blues Band, and legendary jam band, the Grateful Dead. Other notable bands and musicians who came through the doors of The Fillmore thanks to Graham were Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Cream, Muddy Waters, The Who, The Doors, Steve Miller Band, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd.

It was during Graham’s era at The Fillmore that many of the venue’s traditions which are still in place today began. The Fillmore always has a greeter at the door who welcomes music fans with a cheery, “Welcome to The Fillmore!” There’s also always a large tub of free apples located near the entrance. The last tradition which still takes place at the venue might be the coolest of all. Upon exiting, all fans receive a poster from the night’s show. In the 60’s, the posters were designed by two artists who became leaders in psychedelic poster design, Wes Wilson and Rick Griffin.

In the 70’s, The Fillmore became a private neighborhood club, but in the 80’s Paul Rat pioneered the punk rock movement at The Fillmore. He brought in punk rock bands like The Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, and Bad Brains. Bill Graham again took hold of The Fillmore by the mid-80’s, but in 1989 the venue was closed because of the damage it took from the Loma Prieta earthquake. Two years later, Graham died in a helicopter crash. It was one of his final wishes to reopen the venue where he first began his career.

In 1994, it happened. On April 27th, The Smashing Pumpkins played a secret show at the newly reopened venue followed by Primus, who played the first official show the following evening. The Fillmore has been in operation since. In 2007, Live Nation began to lease and operate the original Fillmore location and have since branded the name at old and new venues throughout the country. In my opinion, there’s nothing like the original though especially with all the history it represents and traditions that are still kept alive to this day, making The Fillmore in San Francisco a legendary venue.

 

MGMT

Last weekend I went to visit my friend who lives outside of Baltimore, MD. The weekend trip initially was supposed to serve the purpose of attending a volunteer orientation for the Sweetlife Festival, which I’ll be attending and volunteering at next weekend, but the orientation got moved. I decided to make the trip anyway and have a fun weekend with my friend by hanging out and taking a day trip to Washington, D.C. on Saturday. This blog post isn’t a journal by any means so I don’t plan on telling you about all the things I did which included deciding whether Baked & Wired or Georgetown Cupcakes had the best DC Cupcakes or attending my little cousin’s tee ball game. What is really important is that I made an epic discovery on Friday night after our dinner in the city in Fells Point.

After being in Fells Point on two other occasions to go to bars, I found out they have a pretty well known record store in the area. I passed by the store before, but I didn’t have time to look inside. During this trip to Fells, I made it a point to go to the record store called The Sound Garden. The store was much better than expected on so many different levels. One of the best discoveries of the night was the cheapness of their vinyl. The selection was pretty solid too. It featured a great blend of new and used records. Most vinyl were $20 and under making it difficult to pass up the opportunity to purchase an album. I looked through much of the new vinyl and decided to purchase an album by a band whose music I’ve liked since 2008, MGMT.

MGMT was formed by Andrew VanWyngarden and Benjamin Goldwasser in 2002 while the two were freshman at Middletown, CT college, Wesleyan University. They originally called themselves The Management and released a demo called Climbing to New Lows under this name. Then, the group changed their name to MGMT (the abbreviation for Management) since The Management was in use by another band. To settle the confusion in case you were wondering, the band’s name is pronounced M-G-M-T though.

After graduating in 2005, MGMT toured in support of their Time to Pretend EP opening for Of Montreal. The EP was released on August 30, 2005. In 2006, they signed to Columbia Records and began recording their debut album. The album, Oracular Spectacular, was released digitally in October 2007 and physically on January 22, 2008. Since its release, the album has sold over 1 million copies worldwide. Rolling Stone named it to their 2012 list of the Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time coming in at 494. The album has also gone Silver, Gold, and Platinum in many countries, including Gold in the U.S., Platinum in the U.K. and 2x Platinum in Ireland. The album even earned the band a Grammy nomination in 2010 for Best New Artist and the single “Kids” earned them a nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

The band’s second album Congratulations was released on April 13, 2010. Their third and most recent album, MGMT, was released three years later in September 2013. In the midst of their three albums the band toured and played many major festivals worldwide including performances at, Coachella, Firefly, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Glastonbury. They’ve opened for acts such as Radiohead, Beck, and Paul McCartney, performed on a number of television shows, and even headlined a show at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO. Word on the street is that the band will be making a come back at some point this year after taking a break in 2015. Whether their return will be with more performances or a new album is yet to be known.

MGMT plays an indie psychedelic pop rock style of music. You could actually combine each of those styles any way you like and it would describe MGMT’s music. Their use of synth is apparent in most of their songs as is that trippy feeling associated with psychedelic style music.

I first heard MGMT sometime during the summer of 2008. Keep in mind, at this time my favorite music genres were pop-punk, punk, alternative, and alternative rock. I hadn’t transformed to an indie hipster yet. Their song “Time to Pretend” was used during the intro of a movie I really enjoyed during that time, 21. Despite my music interests at that time, I really enjoyed the song. I didn’t download it until a few months later though. About 2 years after hearing MGMT for the first time, my friends and I tried to do a cover of the song “Kids” so I downloaded that song as well. I then heard the song “Electric Feel”  somewhere along the way and the Erol Alkan remix of “Congratulations” which was featured the video game, MLB The Show 11. The group also collaborated with Kid Cudi on his song “Pursuit of Happiness”, which I used to listen to around the spring of 2011. On Friday night, I realized that I never actually listened to Oracular Spectacular despite knowing a handful of songs from it. I figured it was probably a great album to own on vinyl, especially with the great price, so I bought it. I figured correct. The album is stellar. MGMT is stellar. I’m disappointed I passed on seeing them 4 years ago when they played a show at a festival near me. Then again, I’d probably appreciate seeing them more now than I would have then. If they do tour again soon, I’ll have to get to a show. You might want to do the same. In case you do, here are some song recommendations:

  1. Time to Pretend
  2. Kids
  3. Electric Feel
  4. Congratulations (check out the regular version and the Erol Alkan remix)
  5. Weekend Wars
  6. The Youth
  7. Pieces of What
  8. Indie Rokkers