rap music

Stay Present

Last July I worked my first Lollapalooza in 3 years. The Lolla lineup from 2016-2019 was my favorite of the year, but in 2021 that changed. I felt like I only knew a handful of artists. I went from knowing acts all over the lineup to only knowing the headliners and a couple of the other big names. The undercards were unrecognizable. Fortunately, thanks to a couple of friends I got to know a few of those up and coming artists. One of them was Lauren Sanderson, who my friend Megan is obsessed with.

Lauren Sanderson, who hails from Los Angeles but, originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana, began her music career on Youtube and SoundCloud. She originally started her channel as a motivational speaker, but then grew into music with rapping and poetry on her channel. After posting her cover of Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved,” she started gaining attention. She released her first EP Center of Expression in 2016 and her second EP Spaces in 2017. Spaces garnered her Billboard attention which lead to her record deal with Epic Records. In 2018, she debuted her first major label EP DON’T PANIC!.

In 2019 she left Epic Records and signed a one album deal with Young Forever. Her debut album Midwest Kids Can Make It Big was released in January 2020. She had a tour planned for that year, but like everything else, it was then rescheduled for 2021. Since live music made its return last year, Lauren has been touring and releasing music independently with a new album on the way.

Lauren Sanderson’s music is primarily pop with a mix of hip hop and alternative styles. Her music has a seductive edge to it at times as well, especially with songs like “But I Like It” and most recently with the release “Gay 4 Me.” Lauren Sanderson also has a huge presence in the LGBTQ+ community as a queer artist and has many gay themes in her music too.

Back at Lollapalooza, I was introduced to Lauren Sanderson because Megan had tickets to her aftershow and was stoked to see her perform. Lauren ended up cancelling all of her Lolla performances due to getting the covo. It wasn’t until a few months later that I realized I should listen to Lauren and so Megan began recommending some of her favorite songs like “17” and “Bathroom Stall in Seattle”, which are now some of my favorites as well.

I’ve been digging her music since I started listening. I even committed to seeing her live when she announced tour dates this past winter. After getting tickets a few months ago, I went with Megan last Monday to see her show and loved it. It was cool to see her perform in a small venue. She attracts a passionate and largely LGBTQ+ audience who went hard the entire time. I honestly felt like an outlier cause I didn’t know every word to every song. It was still fun though and it’s always a blast to witness my friends enjoy their favorite bands or artists. As I mentioned, Lauren has a new album on the way and likely more touring plans in the works. You should really start listening to her now, because there’s a good chance she might not be playing small venues for long. She’s got so many bops and I’m glad my pal was obsessed enough to share them and her with me.

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!

Loving in Stereo: Album Review

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

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

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

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

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.

2020 Sucked But Here’s Some Music That Didn’t

In 2016, which everyone claimed was a terrible year, I started a personal music recap for the year as a way to find something good to talk about. I kept it up because 2017 was an absolutely amazing year for music and then just kept going with it. 2016 was nothing compared to this year though. To be honest I had a pretty good 2016, but like most people, I didn’t have a great 2020. I’m usually a pretty positive person and try to look for good things when bad shit happens, but this time around there wasn’t a lot of good. Barely any actually. The bad far outweighed it. Where I found my hopefulness though is that someday it will get better. If I made it through high school and my emo years, I knew I’d be able to get through this emo year. Thankfully, even in the absence of live music and the career path I started for myself in 2016, artists still released albums. Some albums were delayed, but eventually got released. Some albums were even unplanned such as Taylor Swift’s folklore and evermore. Music discovery was one thing that wasn’t cancelled this year and for that I am grateful. So here you go, my top music faves from 2020:

“Heat Waves”, Dreamland -Glass Animals

I usually only pick a song, album, or artist to focus on for each of these, but this one was tough to distinguish. In 2020, there are no rules though. Glass animals released their latest album Dreamland back in August but a month earlier dropped the song “Heat Waves”. I fell absolutely in love with song immediately. I knew a few days after I first listened to it that it was the song of the year for me. I couldn’t stop listening to it for weeks even after the album was released. It was my most played on Spotify as well. The album was also my favorite of the year. It featured other great bangers like “Tangerine” and “Your Love (Déjà Vu)” and several other great ones as well. The album was an ode to childhood in the 90’s, but still captured the smooth yet trippy, groove style of indie music that Glass Animals is so well known for. I feel like it’s highly underrated and most definitely my favorite album of 2020.

Women in Music Part III -HAIM

Before Dreamland was released, if you asked me, I would have told you that Women in Music Part III or WIMPIII for short was going to be my favorite album of the year. I knew earlier on from the single releases in the spring that the Haim sisters were about to release a hit of an album. I’m not the only one that took notice either. The album was recently nominated for album of the year by the Grammys and their song “The Steps” was nominated for Best Rock Performance, a category dominated by women this year. I bought the album in July and was able to secure a signed album poster! I still have yet to hang it up, but I have plans to make it happen soon. Much like Dreamland, this album is top to bottom filled with great songs. My favorite is “Don’t Wanna”, but that’s followed by “I’ve Been Down”, “Gasoline”, “I Know Alone”, and “The Steps”. I could honestly go on with the songs too. Like I said, top to bottom, it’s fire. HAIM’s third full-length is really something special and my other top fave from this past year.

Daft Punk

Daft Punk has been around since the 90’s. I’ve known about them since the Random Access Memories era, but I didn’t quite realize that I knew them way longer than that until I watched the Coachella Documentary this past spring. There was such a focus on Daft Punk’s iconic 2006 set that I began really going through their discography. I wrote a blog post about them and how even without a physical Coachella this year, Coachella still helped me discover some new artists. They were one of my top artists of the year. I even bought Discovery on vinyl back in April. The song “One More Time” was in my top 5 most played songs of the year and I’m now one of those people who want them to headline Coachella. I’m definitely late to the game on this robotic electronic duo, but it’s better late than never.

Notes on a Conditional Form -The 1975

The 1975 dropped their latest album in the spring with plenty of track releases in the lead up to the full album that began in 2019. It was an album I highly anticipated during the spring lockdown. In fact during those weeks, I was living for new music Fridays. I claimed back in my blog post review of the album that it might be one of their best works yet. However, I’m not sure if anything will able to top their debut self-titled, but I definitely believe Notes On A Conditional Form is one of the best of the year. I spent weeks listening to the full album. I love “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)” and “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America” which features Phoebe Bridgers, who had a big year herself. “People”, “Frail State of Mind”, “Me & You Together Song”, and “Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy)” are all great too. This album came at the perfect time and I’m incredibly grateful for it and all the new music that helped me through this crazy year.

“POWER” -Kanye West

“POWER” by Kanye West is not a new song. It actually came out 10 years ago. I never even knew it back then. It first came into my life with the Power Rangers reboot movie in 2017. Then last year during Sunday Service at Coachella it also popped back in. Then yet again this past spring in the Coachella Doc it also made an appearance. It was this time though that I finally got hooked. It was another staple song of my spring time work out playlist and even a go-to I would listen to at other random moments. The intro and subsequent background music for the song which was taken from the song “Afromerica” by Continent Number 6 is just so damn catchy too. It was another better late than never situation, but it worked out fine. There were plenty of songs that got me through the spring but this one is definitely a stand out.

“New Daze” -Bay Ledges

In the summer Bay Ledges released a 6 song EP titled New Daze. The EP included a song of the same name that I really connected with. It’s my favorite new song of theirs since I heard “Safe” in 2018. The song exemplifies their chill indie vibe sound, but has that same uplifting feel that “Safe” also contains. The lyrics themselves do too. It gives such a hopeful perspective for this trash year and I really love the song for that reason as well.

“Giants” -Dermot Kennedy

Dermot Kennedy was huge for me in 2019. His show was actually the last concert I was able to attend before the music industry shut down on March 12th. After such a big year with his first album in October, I wouldn’t have expected any new releases in 2020, but in June he dropped the new track “Giants”. It’s another powerful upbeat track similar to “Power Over Me” and “Outnumbered”. He recently released a “Complete Edition” version of his debut album which contains “Giants” among other collabs, a cover, another new song, and alternate versions of old songs. “Giants” was just the new track I needed for my summer work out playlist to even further my love for Dermot Kennedy. I even enjoyed the Sam Feldt remix of the track and got a double dose of the track by including that version in my fall work out playlist. It’s quite a banger and one of my favorites of the year.

“Bodies” -The Knocks ft. MUNA

Obviously the spring and summer were filled with plenty of new tunes and discoveries of old for me this year, but I found this gem by The Knocks featuring MUNA in the fall. The song was recommended to me by Spotify after my playlist finished one night and I thought it was great. After I added the song, I couldn’t get enough of it when it played during my nightly work outs. “Bodies” was released in the summer, but it didn’t come into my life until early November. For almost the last two months, I’ve been obsessed with this song. It’s a late comer to this list of my favorites for 2020, but it deserves to be here. It’s a keeper.

“Believer” -LUDVIC, Mathoma

Spring was such a time of music discovery for me thanks to the Coachella Documentary and my weekends of “Couchella”. In that time I also discovered the song “Believer” by LUDVIC and Mathoma thanks to checking out my friends’ Spotify playlists. I love being a creep on Spotify but it’s truly a great way to discover new music and find out what your friends are listening to. Although this jam wasn’t directly because of Coachella, it came to me around that time and joined my spring playlist in the midst of some great tunes. This was one song I couldn’t get enough of though. I would frequently replay it or listen to it when I wasn’t working out thus earning this trop house style track a spot on this list of my faves from 2020.

Golden Hour -Kygo

After seeing Kygo perform at Coachella in 2018, I became a huge fan. I’ve always been partial towards the trop house style of electronic music, but that 2018 performance really set in my affinity for the Norwegian DJ. Golden Hour was another album I was anticipating in the spring with new track releases every few weeks. Kygo’s third album dropped at the end of May and I already had some favorites from the new record. “Freedom”, “Lose Somebody”, and “Higher Love” caught on quick for me. I also love “Like It Is”, “I’ll Wait”, and “How Would I Know.”

Kygo decided to do a virtual live stream festival from his home in Norway to promote the new album and support LiveNation’s Crew Nation Fund among several other relief funds. As we know, streaming shows became a thing this year. I think they’re trash. They will never compare with going to a concert or festival, but in the mean time, they’re something to watch. I watched two streams in the spring and this was one of them. The thing that kept me around was the beauty of Norway. Kygo’s set was shot partially with a drone that exhibited the entire landscape of his community. People were out on the lake watching his set from boats. It was so cool. Who would have thought this music which usually sets the vibe at in the desert of southern California so perfectly would create an insane vibe in a different setting like Bergen, Norway. It was great and it gave me another chance to hear this solid new record.

Honorable Mentions:

The New Abnormal -The Strokes (the first Strokes album since 2013, full of indie rock goodness)

girl in red (the indie version of Hayley “Lesbian Jesus” Kiyoko)

“Good” -TWIN XL (indie pop summer jam)

“Palm Springs” -Luna Shadows (pure Palm Springs vibe and I bet you can’t get it out of your head)

“Anywhere” -Dillon Francis ft. Will Heard (Thanks to a re-watch of his 2019 Coachella set it became a spring fave of mine)

I typically end these posts filled with excitement knowing I’ll be anticipating the Coachella lineup to drop within days, but this time around that excitement for my favorite festival is non-existant. Instead, I’ll be looking for another postponement to the Indio festival that was only a month away before corona dragged it and the rest of live music down. The good thing is that there’s finally a light on at the end of this tunnel. The vaccines are probably the hottest records to drop this year with a few more slated for early 2021. We’re all hoping that these creations will help get us back to the things (concerts and festivals) and people we love the most at some point next year. So I’m definitely urging you to give them a chance, because the faster you do the faster we can move forward away from this crazy upside down world we’ve been living in since March.

Besides hopefully a fresh start for the live music and events industry, 2021 should be filled with some highly anticipated new music. In May 2019, Adele hinted at a new record that was to come out in 2020. I’m not sure if this year put a damper on production, but it has yet to be released. A brief stint on SNL in October gave us some hope for new music but Adele quickly squashed those hopes in her opening monologue and shifted gears towards 2021. So as the saying goes, “rumor has it” that we’ll have some new Adele music next year after over 5 years since 25.

Lorde has also hinted at the release of new music. It will be 4 years ago in June that Lorde released her Grammy nominated sophomore album Melodrama. So this third full-length will be a highly anticipated record in 2021.

As I mentioned girl in red in my honorable mentions, her debut album should be dropping next year as well. The first single from it, “Rue”, was released in late August and I’m sure there will be more songs coming in anticipation of the release. After the big year girl in red had, thanks in large part to Tik Tok, I’m sure this debut will help grow her fan base even more.

Lana Del Rey, who just never stops making music, has an album due out for 2021 as well with Chemtrails over the Country Club. We should be seeing new music from Bleachers, St. Vincent, Spoon, Weezer, and Greta Van Fleet in the new year too.

Although it has been over 3 years now that my favorite band, Foster the People, released an album, they released an EP called In the Darkest of Nights, Let the Birds Sing on December 11th. They’ve dropped plenty of new music since their last record Sacred Hearts Club (2017) too. Hopefully touring returns at some point next year and I’ll have the chance to see Mark and the boys again soon. I miss them. I actually said the same thing at the end of last year too, but now I miss them even more.

It’s also been awhile since LCD Soundsystem has put out music so I hope to hear from them next year as well as Florence & The Machine whose last album came out in 2018. As for the next few months though, instead of going to Mexico and anticipating Coachella, I’ll be trying to ski as much as I can and keep my eyes and ears peeled for a return to the work I love so much. If all goes well, the new roaring 20’s might be in full swing by the fall. Stay tuned for that.

Although music was partially shut out this year, at least we have the technology to release, find, and hear new songs, EPs, and albums. I’m not going to try to tell you that music saved this year like it did in 2016. This year could never be saved and that’s okay. The good news is that we made it so here’s to shutting the door on a wild, lameass year and opening the next door for a better one. Onward and upwards!

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!

 

Coachella 2019 Recap

I never got a chance to post about the set times. As soon as I arrived in Indio, I got down to business and before we all knew it Weekend 1 began. I haven’t posted a Coachella recap since I attended because I really didn’t get much free time working the festival the last two years. This year that changed a bit. I took a new position about 2 weeks before I flew to California and the rest is history.

I worked a lot during the days leading up to the festival. I also worked Thursday and Friday, Day 1, but by Saturday I was free to have fun and prepped at my leisure for the following week. I worked offsite at the Renaissance Hotel in Indian Wells doing check-in for the campground I work at. On Thursday we were open from 12 p.m. until 2 a.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., which changed to 8 p.m. during Weekend 2 because of the road closures happening around 9. We also opened for an extra 6 hours on Saturday morning-early afternoon of Weekend 1 because more people than expected did not check in. However our check-in manager released me around 7 p.m. Friday night of Weekend 1 so I went to the festival and was able to see every Friday night act I wanted to see.

The 1975 set was my favorite of the festival. It was crazy because I walked into Coachella and went straight to the Main Stage for the set. I didn’t stop to take Coachella in like I normally do when I get in the festival for the first time. There was barely time to look at the art or anything else. It was worth it though for the set I was about to see. Matt Healy brought it, from cool visuals to a moving platform onstage that Healy walked and danced on. I also stood next to two members of the band All Time Low, which made for an added bonus to the set. I danced my face off and had the best time. As soon as the 1975 ended we went straight to Outdoor for the end of RÜFÜS DU SOL. I tried not to prioritize RÜFÜS because I’ll be seeing them in August, but I was happy to catch some of their set. They killed it as usual. Once they ended, it was back to Main Stage for Janelle Monaé. She was a lot of fun and brought tons of female fire power to the Main Stage. She even brought out Lizzo during her set.

Throughout the two weeks I was able to see all of if not part of almost every artist I wrote about. I saw Turnover, Bob Moses, part of Maggie Rogers, part of Gryffin, part of Tame Impala, Mansionair, Lizzo, Zedd, and Ariana Grande Weekend 1. Maggie Rogers played at the Gobi tent which was way too small for the masses that she brought to her set. That was the only reason I went to Gryffin instead during Weekend 1 since their sets overlapped. I stayed for her entire set Weekend 2 since it was slightly less crowded. During Weekend 2 I saw ARIZONA, all of Maggie Rogers, Weezer, part of Billie Eilish, part of Lizzo, Dermot Kennedy, most of Zedd, CHVRCHES, and NGHTMRE. I also attended Kanye’s Sunday Service, which was a once in a lifetime experience. I skipped Mac DeMarco overall. I feel like I really attended Coachella this year, but worked at the same time. Dermot Kennedy was really the surprise set for me this year. He was incredible and made me a fan. His style is very Bon Iver-esque, but Irish. CHVRCHES was also an incredible set. It was definitely my second favorite, which worked out to be the second to the last Coachella set I saw Weekend 2. My favorite set, The 1975, was the first set I saw Weekend 1. I definitely started and ended Coachella strong.

Once Saturday hit, I had time to take in the art, which payed homage to art of the past 20 years, and enjoyed plenty of ice cream in the festival as well. The astronaut from 2014 came back with a new design, as well as the hippos from 2015. The Spectra tower will be there for a few more years and was also back. The event also had several more pieces for Coachella fans to take in. The antarctic dome became one of my favorite attractions on the final day since it featured a RÜFÜS DU SOL theme this year. I went inside 3 times. I was also inside the festival for the ideal sunset hours and fully immersed myself in the Coachella vibe.

I love Coachella so much as you all know, and I’ve loved working it and attending it. This year held a special place in my heart though. I met new people, got closer with people I knew before, and got to hang out with so many of my friends over the 3 weeks I spent in the desert (Stagecoach included as Week 3). I felt a happiness that made me appreciate music, my life, my job, and the people I’m surrounded with. I don’t really have the appropriate words to describe it. It was beyond words for me this year, and I hope next year can compete.

Thanks again Coachella for all the big moods, good vibes, and sick times. There’s no place I’d rather be.

Coachella Band Preview: Lizzo

I might be in Miami this week to work Ultra, but there’s no blog breaks during the Coachella countdown, especially when Weekend 1 is 2 weeks away! After I return from Miami, I have a full 5 days at home then I leave for what becomes my Coachella workcation. It’s about 3 1/2 weeks this year, but Coachella is worth it. I’ll also be working Stagecoach, hence the extra week away. We’ll see how that goes. Coachella is definitely what it’s all about. Enough about me though, I’m wasting valuable time that you could be listening to tunes. This week I’m previewing a Coachella artist full of female empowerment.

Melissa Jefferson, aka Lizzo, got involved with rap music in high school while growing up in Texas. As the years went on, she took it to the next level and joined two rap/R&B groups, Lizzo & the Larva Ink and The Chalice. She moved to Minnesota while in her 20’s which is when she started rapping as a career. She released her debut album on October 15, 2013. It received some local and national success earning her a spot opening for Har Mar Superstar. She was named the Twin Cities Best New Artist by Minneapolis-St. Paul alternative newspaper City Pages. She was also named to Time’s 2014 music artists to watch.

Her second album Big Grrrl Small World was released in December 2015. She eventually signed with Atlantic Records and released her first major label EP Coconut Oil in 2016. Through 2017 and 2018 Lizzo dropped a few more singles like “Water Me”, “Truth Hurts”, and “Fitness”. She also joined Haim and Florence and the Machine on tour in 2018 as an opener. Her third studio album and major label debut album Cuz I Love You will be released on April 19th, which is Friday of Weekend 2.

Lizzo has always been first and foremost a rap and R&B artist, but I feel like her latest album might sway towards a pop sound at times if her singles “Cuz I Love You” and “Juice”are any indication. I might be totally off, because the rap/R&B sound is there too. Her music also represents diversity with songs about positive body image, sexuality, and race.

I first found out about Lizzo last spring when I saw her open for Haim on their Sister Sister Sister Tour. She definitely made a statement as an opener. I wasn’t into her music when I saw her perform because rap music doesn’t usually appeal to me. Then I kept hearing about her from a lot of my friends, until finally I hopped on the Lizzo train this past winter after she was announced as a Coachella artist. “Good As Hell” became my “start the day” anthem for a while. In fact, it still is if I remember to ask Alexa to play it.

Lizzo plays Sunday at Coachella. Lizzo’s live performance claim to fame is her flute solos with the legendary Sasha Flute (you can look at the instagram page for more info on this flute naming). You can be sure there will be one or more flute solos at Coachella, especially during “Coconut Oil”. This year will be Lizzo’s first Coachella and she’s definitely gonna bring it. I can’t see her playing a main stage this year, but regardless of where she plays her fanbase has grown and it’s sure to be crowded. This is a set you’re not gonna want to miss. Here’s what you need to know to be ready for it:

  1. Good as Hell
  2. Juice
  3. Water Me
  4. Coconut Oil
  5. Cuz I Love You
  6. Fitness
  7. Truth Hurts
  8. Boys
  9. Phone
  10. Scuse Me

Coachella Band Preview: the Neighbourhood, alt-J, BØRNS, Odesza, & Hayley Kiyoko

It’s only been 2 days since my last post, but that’s okay. This week I’ve decided to do two blog posts because there’s still a ton of bands to talk about and not much time left. So let’s talk about five bands who I’ve written about before that are playing the festival this year. Two of them are actually 3 of my top 4 must-see sets of Coachella 2018.

A lot of time has passed since I wrote about the Neighbourhood in the fall of 2015. Since then, there hasn’t been much news surrounding the band until late last year. In September they released their first new music since 2015’s Wiped Out!, the EP Hard. Then in early January the band dropped a second EP To Imagine followed by the release of their third album, The Neighbourhood, on March 9th. With a bunch of new music out, playing Coachella for the first time in 5 years seems fitting. They play on Friday. I’ve never seen them live and I’ve been obsessed with “Sweater Weather” since 2013. It was probably my favorite song of that year. There’s no doubt I’d love to check them out if I had the time making them 1 of the 3 bands on this list that are must-sees for me. If you plan on checking them out, here’s a few songs to get you ready:

  1. Sweater Weather
  2. Afraid
  3. Daddy Issues
  4. Scary Love
  5. Sadderdaze
  6. R.I.P to My Youth
  7. Cry Baby
  8. You Get Me So High
  9. Stuck With Me
  10. Let It Go

alt-J are no strangers to Coachella. They’ve played twice but haven’t been back to the Indio desert since 2015. Since their last Coachella, alt-J has released a new album. It came out last June. I reviewed it here. I’ve also written about alt-J two other times on this blog. Once previewing them for Coachella in 2015, where I saw them live for the first time and another time reviewing a concert I saw them play in Philly in September 2015. I really like alt-J and I love how different their music sounds from other stuff I like. They played Panorama last summer and I was able to catch part of their set. If it wasn’t for my work schedule and several other concerts I already spent money on in the fall, I would have seen them play again. They’re a band that I would rarely turn down if I had the opportunity to see, making them another one of my top choice sets for Coachella 2018 along with Haim and the Neighbourhood. They play Saturday and probably at night on either the Main or Outdoor stage. What would be the biggest heartbreak is if they overlapped with Haim. Here’s my recommendations for you if you decide to follow my lead and check them out:

  1. Left Hand Free
  2. Breezeblocks
  3. In Cold Blood
  4. Every Other Freckle
  5. 3WW
  6. Tessellate
  7. Fitzpleasure
  8. Deadcrush
  9. Something Good
  10. Hunger of the Pine

BØRNS is back at Coachella after a year break from the famous Southern California music festival. He just released his second album, Blue Madonna, back in January. The album features a collaboration with Lana Del Rey as well as plenty of new music from the “Electric Love” writer. I saw BØRNS play live in 2016. It was kind of a last-minute decision since my friend and I bought tickets about a week before the performance. It was a fun set, so I’d definitely want to see him perform again if I had the chance. He plays on Saturday as well. I would guess BØRNS would be a late afternoon-early evening set, but we’ll see what happens. These are the songs you need to prep for his set:

  1. Electric Love
  2. Seeing Stars
  3. 10,000 Emerald Pools
  4. God Save Our Young Blood
  5. Sweet Dreams
  6. American Money
  7. Past Lives
  8. I Don’t Want U Back
  9. Faded Heart
  10. The Emotion

I only got into Odesza about 6 months ago because of planning to see them in NYC with my friend, but getting into them definitely wasn’t a waste of my time. The concert we went to in December was incredible so I have no doubt that their Coachella set predictably on Sunday night at the now larger Sahara Tent will be just as good and a large draw amongst festival-goers. I would guess they headline the Sahara and overlap with Eminem as the overall headliner Sunday evening. Initially, I believed Odesza would be my Sunday night choice no question, but the inner early 2000’s middle-schooler in me has been fighting hard. Odesza will no doubt put on an incredible live performance, but I just saw Odesza. I’ve never seen Eminem nor do I think I’d ever buy tickets or choose to see Eminem, but I used to be a fan at one point. It’s definitely up for debate. What would be ideal is to be able to catch parts of both sets. However if you so choose to skip out on the Real Slim Shady, here’s a few Odesza tracks you should hear:

  1. Sun Models
  2. Higher Ground
  3. Across the Room
  4. Say My Name
  5. Falls
  6. Line of Sight
  7. A Moment Apart
  8. All We Need
  9. It’s Only
  10. Late Night

The artist I’m most excited for who is playing Coachella this year is Hayley Kiyoko. From seeing her a little over a year ago play a tiny venue in Philly that wasn’t even sold out to playing the most well-known U.S. music festival, my stoke level couldn’t be higher for Hayley Kiyoko. Her debut album, Expectations, came out today! Until this point, she’s only released EP’s, but those have gained a huge appreciation from her small, dedicated fan base. The new album builds on Kiyoko’s previous hits with bangers like “Curious” and “Feelings”. It’s got a mystical, feel good sound giving true meaning to Kiyoko’s dreampop style. As an openly gay singer, the theme in her music involves being in love with girls and complications that may arise with being gay and falling for girls. This new album is consistent with Hayley’s style that her fans have grown to love over the past few years. (I just had to give you a mini-album review here too.) She plays on Sunday at Coachella. I will definitely try my hardest to catch her set one of the weekends making her the 4th and final must-see for me. My guess would be an early Sunday afternoon set, but you never know. She may play later in the day at Gobi or Mojave. We’re a little over a week from the schedule release and probably a few days from the food vendor list, then the official planning can begin. In the mean time, check out Expectations along with these other songs:

  1. Girls Like Girls
  2. Cliff’s Edge
  3. Gravel to Tempo
  4. Palace
  5. This Side of Paradise

(On Expectations, pay special attention to “Curious”, “Feelings”, “Sleepover”, “Let It Be”, and “What I Need (ft. Kehlani)”)

 

Coachella 2018 Lineup Release

Not 48 hours into the new year and the Coachella 2018 lineup drops. Last night at 4:15 PT Coachella released their lineup on social media and as always people have opinions, me included. Since last year I expected the 2018 lineup to be the best since 2014. If you know me, you know that I believe 2014 had the best lineup to date and every year after has  been incomparable. 2018 had so much potential. There were so many bands who released new music in 2017 that did not play the festival plus a handful of other greats expected to release new music this year. But when rumors spread just before Christmas about the headliners, I knew this year wasn’t going to meet my expectations.

Going into 2018 everyone knew Beyoncé was supposed to headline. She was supposed to headline last year but dropped out shortly after the announcement of her twin pregnancy paving the way for Lady Gaga to take her spot. The biggest question was who would accompany her on top of the poster. On December 20th, Consequence of Sound reported that Eminem and The Weeknd were slated to join Beyoncé as the 2018 headliners, much to my dismay. Here’s why. The Weeknd headlined Coachella in 2015. Was he supposed to be a headliner? No. However he played in the headliner spot. Jack White, the headliner for that night, took an early spot for whatever the case may be leaving The Weeknd to close out the night.

In my opinion Eminem is a pretty cool choice for a headliner. He fits that formerly popular/still popular angle. He’s a rapper and for the past few years Coachella has plugged that genre (or R&B) into one of their headlining spots. Plus he just released a new album. Here’s the issue: Beyoncé already filled that genre spot this year. I mean come on! The entire headlining lineup is rap/R&B. This is the first time in the history of the festival that a rock band isn’t headlining. Disappointing.

In fact, looking at the lineup, rap/hip-hop/R&B has taken over the festival this year. I think Louis Tomlinson’s (of One Direction fame) reaction on Twitter summarizes my feelings exactly. He stated, “Just seen the Coachella lineup …. Where the fuck are all the bands!? It’s a festival!?” Yes Louis, you’re right. Where are all the bands?! All I see are rappers, R&B singers, or electronic DJ’s. As I went through the lineup last night making a list of who I would see for my annual Coachella preview, there were names lacking for each day and more “possible” acts to see than definites. For Friday, I only listed 4 acts. Four. It’s a headshaker, for sure, given that this year had some high expectations. Anyway, let’s get down to this lineup analysis.

The Headliners: The Weeknd, Beyoncé, Eminem

I already summarized my thoughts on all these acts above. So re-read that.

The Other Highly Billed Performers: SZA, Kygo, Jamiroquai, St. Vincent, the War on Drugs, Vince Staples, Haim, Tyler the Creator, David Byrne, alt-J, Post Malone, Fleet Foxes, Odesza, Portugal. The Man, Migos, A Perfect Circle, Cardi B, Miguel, Soulwax, Jean-Michel Jarre, Daniel Caesar, Kali Uchis, Los Ángeles Azueles, Deorro, Chromeo, Chic feat. Nile Rodgers, BØRNS, Louis the Child, Angel Olsen, Jungle, blackbear, MØ, King Krule, Illenium, Kamasi Washington, French Montana, 6lack, Vance Joy, Russ, LANY

As always, there’s a few names in this group that I’m pretty excited about. If I were attending this year, I’d definitely be hitting up Kygo, St. Vincent, Haim, alt-J, Fleet Foxes, Odesza, Portugal. The Man, BØRNS, Illenium, and LANY. There’s a few that I’d definitely check out here too if there were no overlaps like David Byrne, Post Malone, Chromeo, Jungle, MØ, and Vance Joy. I’m mostly excited about Haim and alt-J. Even though I’ve seen both live before, they’re fantastic and two of my favorite bands. Odesza is an incredible electronic act and I can attest from seeing them live last month. I’ve seen BØRNS live before as well and it was so enjoyable. After working St. Vincent in November and listening to her VIP Q&A, I’ve gained a new respect for Annie Clark and her music. I was able to stay for half of her show but would love to see her again. The others I’ve never seen live.

As I said in my 2017 music recap blog post, I would be reviewing Portugal. The Man soon. It might now be even sooner than I thought. I’ve been stoked on their latest album since buying it on vinyl in NYC and I’d love to see them live especially since knowing about them since college. Since getting into electronic music, I’ve always been partial to tropical house, making Kygo an artist I would love to check out. I also got into Illenium’s latest album for a short time two months ago making him another electronic act I’d want to see. I’ve listened to LANY a few times over the past few years so they’re a group I’d love to see too. If you’re looking for the most indie band at Coachella this year, I’d have to say that would be Fleet Foxes. I’ve liked them for a while now and would definitely want to see them live.

As for the others that I’d like to check out, I’ve seen Jungle and Vance Joy before. Both played in 2015 when I attended and I made it to both sets. I even saw Vance Joy at Panorama last summer. They’re always a solid set. I was super hyped about Jungle in 2015, but this time around they’re not a definite for me. They’ve got new music out, which I plan on checking out soon They just didn’t make a huge impact on me last time. I’ve casually listened to Chromeo and MØ so I would casually see them. Post Malone is burning up right now. I’m not into rap, but Post Malone has a song that is more indie than rap that I enjoy. I think I’m solely interested in seeing this dude play live because of the hype surrounding him right now. David Byrne is the most intriguing to me. Honestly I had no idea who he was until I did a little research. After I found out, it felt like I failed at music so excuse me for that one. As the lead singer and guitarist of the Talking Heads, I would love to hear his set. He’s got a solo career going, but you know he’ll be playing some Talking Heads covers. Who knows maybe there’s a reunion in store?! I mean who doesn’t like the Talking Heads?!

The Rest: Maceo Plex, Alan Walker, the Neighbourhood, Alison Wonderland, Kelela, REZZ, Bleachers, Black Coffee, SuperDuperKyle, Justin Martin, Belly, TroyBoi, Dreams, Perfume Genius, PVRIS, Moses Sumney, LÉON, Greta Van Fleet, Tank and the Bangas, Cash Cash, Whethan, Skip Marley, Elohim, Detroit Love (Carl Craig, Kyle Hall, Moodymann), Benjamin Clementine, Carpenter Brat, the Blaze, Knox Fortune, MHD, Slow Magic, Avalon Emerson, Fazerdaze, Moon Boots, HITO, Helado Negro, the Buttertones, the Regrettes, Boogarins, the Marias, Señor Kino, Tash Sultana, BROCKHAMPTON, Marian Hill, Alina Baraz, First Aid Kit, Snakehips, Highly Suspect, Wizkid, Jorja Smith, Alvvays, the Black Madonna, Tom Misch, Django Django, X Japan, Benjamin Booker, Flatbush Zombies, Ekali, Yaeji, Party Favor, Big Thief, Jason Bentley, Oh Sees, Sigrid, Busy P, the Bronx, AC Slater, Sudan Archives, Jackmaster, Otoboke Beaver, Chloe x Halle, Sir Sly, Hundred Waters, Pachanga Boys, Bedouin, Cherry Glazerr, Mild High Club, Priests, Ron Gallo, Declan McKenna, Bane’s World, KITTENS, the Drums, Aminé, Jessie Ware, Jamie Jones, Kamaiyah, San Holo, FIDLAR, DeJ Loaf, Petit Biscuit, Ibeyi, LP, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Princess Nokia, AURORA, Noname, Jacob Banks, Chris Liebing, Jidenna Hayley Kiyoko, Barclay Crenshaw, LION BABE, Giraffage, Talaboman, THEY., Cuco, Joseph Capriati, Hannah Wants, Nothing But Thieves, John Maus, Kölsch, Japanese Breakfast, MAGIC GIANT, Omar-S, Michael Mayer, Westside Gunn + Conway, Buscabulla, Peggy Gou, Snail Mail, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, B Boys, the Delirians

My favorite name that showed up on the Coachella lineup this year is in this group, Hayley Kiyoko. As you know, I saw her last year in what I consider to be one of the most epic nights in music for me, seeing 2 shows in one night. One of those was Hayley Kiyoko and she played in a small venue in Philadelphia. I was beyond excited to see her name on the poster and so stoked that she’s playing Coachella this year in time with releasing her debut album. Another band that’s on my must see list is in this group too, The Neighbourhood. I’ve been digging The Neighbourhood since 2013 and I’ve never seen them live. They’re a must-see for sure. There’s a few on this list that I’d want to catch if I had time too. Bleachers, Tash Sultana, Sir Sly, Declan McKenna, and Marian Hill are the big ones among that bunch.

As a whole I feel like this is the smallest group of bands I’ve been interested in since starting my Coachella previews in 2015. I had such high hopes for this year’s festival and it all came crashing down last night. Some names I would have liked to see on this year’s lineup include Arctic Monkeys (as a headliner or part of that second line of acts), Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Foster the People, Lana Del Rey, Cold War Kids, Halsey, Phoenix, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, ARIZONA, the 1975, Sigala, Cigarettes After Sex, Passion Pit, The Kooks, AWOLNATION, and either The Killers, Arcade Fire, or Kings of Leon as a headliner (most likely The Killers though). There’s probably more bands as well, but those are a few off the top of my head.

I started doing a bit of research on this year’s lineup compared to my favored 2014 lineup. I plan on editing this post later today or tomorrow with my findings. Until then, you should start listening to some bands on this lineup. There’s plenty I know nothing about and a few that I do. Maybe you’re stoked on this lineup. Maybe you’re not. The fact is that Coachella is in 3 months and the prep officially began yesterday. One thing is certain though, regardless of who is on the lineup and the amount of complaining done, people are still gonna go to Coachella. It’s the festival to be at. It’s Coachella. You’re bound to have a great time because although I strongly believe music festivals should be about the music, Coachella is more than music. It’s art. It’s atmosphere. It’s good food. It’s being with people you care about and have a good time with. It’s hot days and cool nights. It’s palm trees, and mountains, and desert. It’s fashion. It’s celebrities. It’s social media. It’s sponsors. It’s ferris wheels and hip merch. Mostly it’s the best kind of positivity and vibes you’ll ever experience. So Coachella 2018, I’m ready for you! Here’s to hoping I can be part of the magic again.

(EDIT: I spent the last hour or more doing some research and the numbers I came up with are unreal. I analyzed the 2014 Coachella lineup vs. the 2018 Coachella lineup. I looked at the first 3 lines of each poster plus the headliners and I grouped performers in 4 categories, Rap/R&B, Electronic, Pop, Rock/Indie. In 2014, out of the 165 acts, there were 71 featured on the first 3 lines of the poster including the headliners. Out of those 71, 14% were Rap/R&B, 28% were Electronic, 6% were Pop, and 37% were Rock/Indie. In 2018, out of 165 acts, there are 69 featured on the first 3 lines of the poster including the headliners. Out of those 69, 33% are Rap/R&B, 25% are Electronic, 9% are Pop, and 33% are Rock/Indie. Compared to 2014, the number of Rap/R&B acts have more than doubled. Is Rap/R&B back on the rise and I didn’t know about it? If you asked me, I would tell you no. So what’s the deal this year? What’s even more shocking is that I also compared the number of Bands to Artists for each year. I defined “Band” as a group or single performer with a backing band that plays classic instruments (guitar, drums, bass, keyboards, etc. as opposed to electronic equipment). Artists included rappers, R&B singers, electronic DJ’s, and pop singers. In 2014, out of 71 acts, 55% were Bands and 45% were Artists. In 2018, out of 69 acts, 30% are Bands and 68% are artists. To me those numbers, are staggering. Louis Tomlinson noticed it and he’s right. The bands have decreased this year in favor of the artists. So seriously Coachella, WHERE ARE THE BANDS?! And why are you straying from what made you amazing in the first place? #Coachella2018thefestivalthatcouldhavebeen)