SXSW

Local Natives

It’s crazy to think, but it’s been almost a month since my last blog post and yet it honestly doesn’t feel like it was that long ago. I guess that’s what happens when you spend the fastest two weeks in the Coachella Valley working at your favorite and one of the most well-known music festivals in the world.

So yeah, I did it. I worked Coachella. It was amazing, special, wild, epic, unreal, and all sorts of other positive adjectives that you can think of. It was mostly indescribable though. I knew what to expect, but at the same time I didn’t at all. I can say though that experiencing Coachella in an entirely different way made me appreciate it so much more because it’s a first class, well-run music festival. I’m not gonna go into deep detail about my trip here. I will say that out of the bands I previewed I was able to see Kungs, Grouplove, Lorde, and Lady Gaga. If you wanna know more about my experience though, just ask.

Another thing I will mention is that I had a realization while at the festival during Saturday of Weekend 1. I definitely should have previewed Local Natives in the build-up to Coachella 2017. I was able to catch part of their set that Saturday before my shift started and I knew about 4 of the 5 songs I heard. I didn’t realize how many Local Natives songs I knew, but apparently I know a lot. I know enough that I feel like I need to go to one of their shows sometime. So I figured it was better late than never to write about them, so here goes…

Local Natives is an indie rock band from Los Angeles, CA. Members Kelcey Ayer, Ryan Hahn, and Taylor Rice all met while in high school together in neighboring Orange County, but it was after graduating college from UCLA that the group really started to focus on music. Along with Matt Frazier and former member Andy Hamm (replaced by Nik Ewing in 2012), the group moved into a house together in the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles and began working on their first record, Gorilla Manor. The album was released in November 2009 in the UK and then in the U.S. in February 2010.

The band began generating some hype before the album’s release though. They played SXSW in 2009 which garnered attention from music critics. They received comparisons to well known indie bands, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, and Vampire Weekend, making them a new notable act on the indie scene.

On January 29, 2013 the band released their second album, Hummingbird. The album was produced by guitarist Aaron Dessner of The National and featured a darker lyrical turn due to life events, such as the departure of Andy Hamm and the death of Kelcey Ayer’s mother, that had influenced the band’s writing process. The album also received generally positive reviews.

Last year the band released their third and most recent album, Sunlit Youth, in September. The first single for the album, “Past Lives”, was released a few months before the album drop. The album, like it’s predecessor, received similarly favorable reviews.

Local Natives is your standard indie rock band. There’s no other genre that their music fits into. I can see why they were initially compared to the likes of those other well-known indie bands. Out of the three I mentioned above, their music sounds most similar to a combination of Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes. I think Vampire Weekend has more of an indie pop feel to their songs that isn’t heard as much with Local Natives. Another reassuring fact about Local Natives’ music is that the sound hasn’t changed much through three albums. Maybe the lyrical content has developed and changed, but you’re still getting that familiar Gorilla Manor sound on Sunlit Youth.

I first heard of Local Natives in the prime of my indie/hipster music transition phase in the spring of 2011. From then on, every so often I would add a new Local Natives song to my iTunes and playlist rotation. While on my first trip to California in 2013, I made it a point to go to Amoeba Music. Amoeba is the world’s largest independent record store. They have three locations in California, one in Berkeley (the original), one in San Francisco, and one in Hollywood, which is the one I went to. I, of course, wanted to get something at Amoeba, but traveling by plane made it difficult to purchase any vinyl so I opted for a CD. The CD I purchased was Hummingbird. Despite all this evidence, it never occurred to me that Local Natives should be a must-see for me at Coachella this year and a must among the list of bands I previewed. I didn’t even realize it after catching the end of their set at Lollapalooza last summer and realizing I knew every song I heard them play. I do now though and I won’t disregard them anymore. I plan on going to one of their shows next time they tour near me. They crushed it at Coachella and I don’t want to miss out anymore.

If you’re a big indie music follower and you don’t know of Local Natives, it’s time you do. They’re a great band to listen to if you’re just relaxing on quiet evening or if you’re driving on a road trip. It’s time to make these guys known or recognized whatever the case may be. Here’s a few songs you should check out.

  1. Airplanes
  2. Who Knows Who Cares
  3. Ceilings
  4. Heavy Feet
  5. Mt. Washington
  6. Past Lives
  7. Wide Eyes
  8. Dark Days
  9. We Come Back
  10. Sun Hands

Coachella Band Preview: CHVRCHES

Coachella 2016 is a little over a month away! If you haven’t started your music prep already, your time is running down. If you have been listening to plenty of bands in preparation for this year’s festival, you may want to check this next one out.

CHVRCHES (pronounced “churches”), formed in 2011, is a Scottish indie electronic band. They decided to spell their name using a “v” instead of a “u” to avoid confusion with real churches on internet searches. The group, who hails from Glasgow, is made up of three members, Lauren Mayberry (vocals, synth, samplers), Iain Cook (synth, guitar, bass, vocals), and Martin Doherty (synth, samplers, vocals). The group began recording together in a basement studio in Glasgow. They released their first songs in 2012. “Lies” was available as an exclusive free download on a blog by label Neon Gold in May 2012, and “The Mother We Share” was released as their first single in November of the same year. They released their first EP, Recover EP, in March 2013. That spring they performed at SXSW and won the Grulke Prize for Developing Non-U.S. Act. Their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, came out September 20, 2013. In early 2015 the group began working on their second album. Like the first album, they wrote, produced, and recorded it themselves in a basement owned by Cook. The album, Every Open Eye, was released on September 25, 2015.

As an electronic band, their music is filled with synth and samplers and can be considered synthpop, electronic, or indie electronic. Mayberry’s vocals often highlight each track as well. Their sound and vocals actually create the perfect blend of current indie music to electronic, which sets them apart from many other indie bands.

I first heard of the band in 2013. Usually I have a pretty good story about how I got into a band or where I first heard them, but with CHVRCHES, I don’t. I downloaded their song “Lungs” about a day or two after I returned from California in October 2013. I probably found and heard the song while searching for new music. Then this past year I think I heard a new song or two on Spotify. I added “Clearest Blue” to a workout playlist near the debut of their second album. After realizing that I liked a few CHVRCHES songs, I went out and bought Every Open Eye. Although this story is underwhelming, this band isn’t. Their music is good. They’re a good band and if I were attending Coachella, I’d want to see them. It’s as simple as that.

CHVRCHES play Saturday at Coachella. This will be the band’s second appearance in Indio. They last played in 2014. I definitely recommend checking them out. With only two albums out currently, I’m sure their set will feature a mix of favorites from both. Here’s a few songs from both albums to get you ready:

  1. Lungs
  2. The Mother We Share
  3. Recover
  4. Lies
  5. Clearest Blue
  6. Leave A Trace
  7. Never Ending Circles
  8. We Sink
  9. Gun
  10. Empty Threat

T-Shirt Weather

I had every intention of writing a new Coachella Band Preview for today, but I discovered a new band last night that I needed to share first. It’s almost like a “Breaking News” moment. I may have mentioned this before, but every week Spotify puts out a new Discover Weekly Playlist (duh…Discover Weekly!). I subscribed to the playlist a while ago and found a bunch of new tunes because of it. Yesterday, as I was listening to the new playlist, I saw a song that caught my eye. The title was “T-Shirt Weather”, which made me chuckle a bit considering my deep love for the song “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood (my blog post from the fall so you can see how deep my love runs). I said to myself “What is this? The new “Sweater Weather”?.” I was eager to check it out. Lo and behold, it’s a great song. It’s so great that I have now officially deemed it the new “Sweater Weather”. The song style is much different than the 2013 hit by The Neighbourhood though and it’s by a relatively new band called Circa Waves.

Circa Waves is a British indie rock band formed in 2013. The group hails from Liverpool and consists of vocalist and guitarist, Kieran Shudall, bassist, Sam Rourke, drummer, Colin Jones, and guitarist, Joe Falconer. Shudall and Rourke actually met at a music festival in 2013 and it resulted in the formation of the band. The band’s first single “Good For Me/Get Away” was released in December 2013. Their first EP, Young Chasers EP, was released in June the following year. They played festivals throughout Europe and toured through 2014. Young Chasers, their debut album (Yep, same name as the EP), was released in March 2015. The release happened around their performance at SXSW and a U.S. tour in the fall of 2015 followed. They played U.S. dates with Foals and Ms Mr as well as with The 1975 in the UK.

My first impression of the band was that they are a perfect example of indie rock. In fact the band could be a great transition for someone who likes punk rock or pop-punk and wants to get into indie music. While researching these guys, I read that they’ve been compared to The Strokes. In my opinion, that comparison is spot on. Their music style is much like American indie rockers, The Strokes. They also remind me of The Kooks at times as well. So if you’re a fan of either of those two bands, I guarantee you’ll love these guys.

This year the group has already booked dates at Governor’s Ball and Firefly. If you plan on attending either of those two festivals, I suggest you check out Circa Waves. Their music is both upbeat and fun, which will make for a great set in the the summer sun (hopefully it’s sun at least!). You’ll probably hear a few of these songs:

  1. T-Shirt Weather
  2. Stuck In My Teeth
  3. Best Years
  4. Good For Me/Get Away
  5. Fossils

We Are the New Americana

One of the best things someone can do (in my mind) is recommend music. I don’t care if it’s a personal recommendation (the person recommends to you specifically), a recommendation through social media, a website, blog, etc., or even if it’s not a direct recommendation at all, meaning someone just talks or posts about a band/song/lyrics. I love it. I love it because I love music (if you haven’t already figured that out). I love finding new music or bands to listen to and it’s so refreshing when someone else can offer you new music by word of mouth (or word of the web). What’s even better, when someone recommends music, is if they recommend artists or songs that fit your music style. Lately, I’ve found out a few new things to listen to this way. Most recently, it was the singer, Halsey.

Halsey, a.k.a. Ashley Frangipane, who hails from the New Jersey/New York region has been working her way into the indie pop scene in the past year. Halsey is an anagram of her real name Ashley and it’s also a street in Brooklyn where she hung out growing up. She started her career playing acoustic shows to afford rent. When she recorded her song “Ghost” about a year ago, it was almost an overnight success. Shortly after, she had meetings with five major record labels. She signed with Astralwerks.

The last year has been nothing short of amazing for the 20 year old recording artist. She released an EP, Room 93, in October 2014, while on tour opening for The Kooks. She was the most talked about artist at SXSW. She headlined The American Youth Tour along with Young Rising Sons this past spring and in a little less than 2 weeks her debut album, Badlands, will be released (August 28th). To be honest, girl is killing it. There’s no doubt once her album comes out that she’ll get even more attention too.

Her sound can definitely be labeled pop, but could also fit the alternative, indie spectrum. Think along the lines of Lorde or Banks. Her lyrics are the catch though. They’re at times angsty and angry, but always raw and honest. She doesn’t really fit the mold of any of her sound comparisons in that regard. If you read the lyrics to the song “New Americana”, which is a single off Badlands, you might confuse it for a Lana Del Rey song. “New Americana” is almost the new “National Anthem”. Also like Lana, her passion for artistry through her music is beyond her years.

I first heard “New Americana” about a week and a half ago because someone I follow on Twitter tweeted out the lyrics (grateful for these people as you can tell from what I mentioned above). It was catchy so I added it to my workout Spotify playlist. I’ve listened to many times since. I’ve also listened to her other music. I love it as much as I love when people recommend music. She doesn’t have many songs out right now, but she’ll have a solid bunch of tunes once her album debuts. I can’t wait to hear it. I highly recommend checking her out asap before you feel like you’d just be hopping on the bandwagon. It might even be considered a slight bandwagon at this point, but who knows.

Song recommendations:

  1. New Americana
  2. Hold Me Down
  3. Ghost
  4. Hurricane (check out the Arty Remix if you’d rather a more upbeat track)
  5. Empty Gold
  6. Is There Somewhere
  7. The rest of Badlands once it’s released on August 28th