synth pop

Coachella Band Preview: the 1975, CHVRCHES, A R I Z O N A, & Gryffin

3 more weeks! 3 more weeks! 3 more weeks! Coachella is in 3 weeks!!!! I know I write similar posts with the same hype level every year, but every year I’m that excited for Coachella, especially this year. Last year felt a little disappointing to me. This year feels like I have zero expectations. I’m just happy to be working the event, even if it’s not in the role I hoped for. To put it best, my hype level feels pure right now. Yours should be too! This week I’m previewing 4 bands because I’ve written about all of them before. Three of them I’ve written about when they played Coachella in the past. Two of them I’ve written about because I was into them at the time. One of them I’ve written about twice already. That band is the 1975.

The 1975 is headed out to their third Coachella. They last played in 2016 after their sophomore album I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It dropped. Since touring and promoting that album, the 1975 has released a third studio album and has a fourth on the way with a release slated for less than a year after A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships came out at the end of November 2018. Their fourth album Notes on a Conditional Form is due out this summer with the first single coming out in May. 2019 is definitely going to be a big year for the 1975.

In 2016, I saw the 1975 perform twice. Both times I didn’t pay for tickets to see them and both performances were at festivals, sweetlife and Lollapalooza. Since they’re back on the festival circuit this summer, I’m hoping I’ll get to catch them again at least once. They play Friday at Coachella and I can pretty much guarantee you’ll see them on the Main Stage or the Outdoor Stage. Here’s a few new songs and some old ones that you’ll want to know in preparation to see them:

  1. It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)
  2. Chocolate
  3. The Sound
  4. TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME
  5. Sex
  6. Somebody Else
  7. Love It If We Made It
  8. Girls
  9. Give Yourself a Try
  10. Sincerity is Scary

Just like the 1975, CHVRCHES last played Coachella in 2016 and will be making their third appearance in Indio this spring. Since 2016, CHVRCHES also released their third studio album Love Is Dead on May 25, 2018. It debuted at number 7 on the UK Albums Chart. Their latest album also features a collaboration with Matt Berninger of the National. Recently CHVRCHES released the song “Here With Me” in collaboration with electronic DJ Marshmello.

I’ve never been a huge CHVRCHES fan, but I did watch their performance on the live stream in 2016. I remember being really impressed with Lauren Mayberry’s stage presence. I’m hoping to see them live for the first time this time around. They play Sunday and I’m sure they’ll be on the Main Stage or the Outdoor Stage if previous performances are any indication. I’ve casually listened to CHVRCHES over the years and as a casual listener here’s my best recommendations on what songs to listen to so you’re ready to see the band play their third Coachella:

  1. The Mother We Share
  2. Leave a Trace
  3. Miracle
  4. Recover
  5. Clearest Blue
  6. Get Out
  7. Here With Me (Marshmello ft. CHVRCHES)
  8. Gun
  9. My Enemy
  10. We Sink

Almost two years ago I wrote a post about A R I Z O N A. It was about 3 years ago that I started listening to the band, not the state. They weren’t that big at all. I saw them perform in the fall of 2016. They opened for Hayley Kiyoko at a 450 person capacity venue. Neither were that big. Flash forward to last summer, both bands joined Panic! At the Disco on their Pray For the Wicked Tour arena tour. A R I Z O N A played to a packed Bud Light Stage at Lollapalooza and Hayley Kiyoko joined Taylor Swift onstage during Taylor’s summer tour after simultaneously selling out her U.S. headlining tour. It’s safe to say both A R I Z O N A and Hayley Kiyoko have come a long a way. Last year Hayley played her first Coachella. This year it’s time for A R I Z O N A to visit the Coachella Valley for the first time.

Since releasing their debut album, the band has played numerous other festivals as well as going on their own headlining tour in the fall of 2017. Last summer they released two new songs. They also recently released the song “Find Someone” at the end of February. This spring they play Coachella on Saturday. I’m not sure where you’ll find these guys at the festival but I would expect them to play a late afternoon set. I’d also recommend that you get to their set early. If their first Coachella appearance is anything like their Lollapalooza set last summer, it will definitely be crowded. Out of all the bands on the lineup this year, this is one that I’m most familiar with and high on my list of bands I’d love to see perform at the festival. I’ve been following the group for a while so I know quite a few of their bangers. Here’s what you need to know to be ready for their Coachella debut:

  1. Oceans Away
  2. I Was Wrong
  3. Electric Touch
  4. Find Someone
  5. Freaking Out
  6. Where I Wanna Be
  7. Feed the Beast
  8. Annie
  9. Ain’t Gonna Leave
  10. What She Wants

Last on the list of bands playing Coachella 2019 that I’ve already wrote about is Gryffin. Since playing his first Coachella in 2017, Gryffin has released several more singles and part of his debut album Gravity. The second part of the album is due to be released this year. The first half was released in December 2018.

Since getting into electronic music, I’ve always been into Gryffin. After previewing him in 2017, I learned just how cool his live performances are since they incorporate instrumentation along with standard electronic artist DJ production. I didn’t get to see him perform at Coachella in 2017, but I did get to watch his Lollapalooza set that summer. It was great. I’m eager to see what he has in store for his second Coachella especially now that part of his debut has been released with the other part on the way. He plays Saturday. I would expect his set to be at the Sahara Tent in the afternoon or early evening. I’m not sure how many people to expect, but the Sahara Tent is one of the most popular stages at the festival so give yourself enough time to get a good spot. To get you ready for Gryffin’s set, here’s what you need to listen to:

  1. Tie Me Down
  2. Feel Good
  3. Whole Heart
  4. Desire (Years & Years Remix)
  5. Heading Home
  6. Love In Ruins
  7. Nobody Compares to You
  8. Remember
  9. Just For A Moment
  10. Bye Bye

Almost Everyday: Album Review

Another album that was released within the last two months was Matt & Kim’s Almost Everyday. I was also fortunate enough to finally be able to see Matt & Kim perform live at the end of April. It was one of, if not the most fun show I’ve ever been to. I was starting to get tired waiting for them to come on, but as soon as they did it was pure joy for the hour and a half set they performed at Brooklyn Steel complete with blow up dolls, balloons, and a wall of death. After seeing that show, there was no question that I was going to pick up their album that was due out less than a week later.

I was eager to check out this new album because I really liked the single “Forever” that they released in the weeks prior to the album release. Almost Everyday doesn’t stray from the quality indie pop featuring synth and drums that Matt & Kim are known for. I think some of the synth sounds have even grown on this particular record.

After listening to the album, I didn’t feel like any songs jumped out at me in particular. I had a similar feeling when New Glow was released. With that album, I had to listen to it several times for a few songs to really start sticking with me. Eventually I got into a few songs on that record though. As for Almost Everyday, I’ve taken a liking to “Glad I Tried” and “Like I Used To Be”, along with “Forever”, which I already enjoyed before I heard the full length album.

Several of the songs have a lot of meaning and depth. The album was written over a time when Kim was recovering from her ACL injury and the band’s future felt like it was in jeopardy for a brief time. Thankfully Kim made it through! Truly, they both did though and this new album is a reflection of that.

I Gotta Be On My Own

Over the last year, there’s been several times within blog posts where I’ve mentioned having an epic concert night last November. I first wrote about it shortly after it happened when I wrote about Tegan & Sara. Then I wrote about it again while writing about ARIZONA. It’s almost been a year since I saw two concerts in one night so I figured it’s finally time to write about the other concert I attended on November 3rd besides Tegan & Sara, the one that ARIZONA was the opener for.

Before the Tegan & Sara concert last year, my friend and I decided to grab tickets for Hayley Kiyoko. Kiyoko grew up involved in the music and acting communities in Los Angeles, CA. Before even hearing of her music, I knew of her from watching the Disney Channel. She starred in a few episodes of Wizards of Waverly Place and the 2010 Disney Channel Original Movie Lemonade Mouth. She was also involved with Cartoon Network starring as Velma Dinkley in the 2009 TV film Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins and then reprising her role in the sequel Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster. She has of course acted in other small parts on various television channels and networks as well, but the roles I just mentioned are what she is best known for.

Hayley Kiyoko (Alcroft) has always been about music though. She started drum lessons at the age of 6 and learned several other instruments over her lifetime such as guitar, bass, piano, and accordion. In 2007, she became part of the all-girl pop group The Stunners which was formed by former pop star Vitamin C. The Stunners lasted as a group until 2011. They broke up before a full album was ever released.

Kiyoko released her debut EP A Belle to Remember in March 2013. Her second EP This Side of Paradise was released a little less than two years later in February of 2015. She co-directed and directed two music videos from the EP for the songs “Girls Like Girls” and “Cliff’s Edge”, respectively. In August 2016, she released the upcoming single, “Gravel to Tempo”, from her latest EP Citrine as well as the music video for it. The EP itself was released just over a year ago on September 30, 2016. Since then she directed two more music videos for the songs “One Bad Night” and “Sleepover”, another new single. Today she debuts her latest single, “Feelings” on MTV’s TRL.

Most of Kiyoko’s following comes from the internet. Her video for “Girls Like Girls” currently has over 79 million views. Last spring she went on her first nationwide headlining tour, which was nearly sold out. Her music draws a lot of attention from the LGBT community because of its subjects. As an out gay woman, Kiyoko wanted to write music that girls and women like her could relate to.

Her music is part of the dreampop/synthpop genre. I’ve always thought her songs have a subtle edge along with a hypnotic flow to them as well. They almost have an R&B style sexual feel going on too.

Last year when my friend and I decided to see her we both knew a handful of her songs. The tickets were pretty cheap too and the show only had some overlap with Tegan & Sara (Hayley Kiyoko was on during the Tegan & Sara opener, but finished before the Canadian twin duo took the stage). Also both shows were in different parts of the same venue. It worked out well for us and made for an epic concert night, one that I’m not sure we’d be able to replicate. It was kind of special occurrence too since we decided to attend Hayley Kiyoko’s show on the day of. It was one I didn’t prepare for, which in some ways made it more exciting. Plus I was super stoked when I realized ARIZONA was the opener for Hayley Kiyoko. She played a short set list, but played all of the songs we both knew and a quality mix from her 3 EP’s. She even covered Hailee Steinfeld’s “Starving”. My friend and I were both glad we went. The venue was small. The setting was intimate. It made for a great opportunity to see her since we both expected her popularity to rise and it has already. We’re lucky we took advantage of the chance to see her.

If you’re into the kind of music she plays, I suggest you check her out. I also recommend that if there’s any artists or bands on the rise that you like that you should go see them live. See them in a small venue. See them in an intimate setting. See them like that because it’s special and you may never get another chance to. I’m glad we saw Hayley Kiyoko like that and I’m glad she gave us an epic concert night we never expected.

 

Coachella Band Preview: BØRNS

I’m not sure if you knew or not but, COACHELLA BEGINS ON FRIDAY! For those of you camping, it begins Thursday night, but the festival officially begins on Friday. Since Friday is only a mere 3 days from now, this will be the final band preview for Coachella 2016 (I do have an extra special Coachella post for tomorrow planned though). Over the past 3 months, I’ve previewed all of my favorite acts performing this year and now it’s getting down to the wire. There was a handful of bands to choose from that I wanted to write about for this final preview so I figured I’d choose one whose music style is more so my cup of tea, meaning not another EDM artist.

Garrett Borns, better known to the world as BØRNS, is a indie pop/alternative rock artist from Grand Haven, Michigan. His debut single, “10,000 Emerald Pools”, was released a little more than a year ago on November 10, 2014. His EP Candy was also released the same day. After the EP release, BØRNS played multiple TV appearances and festivals to promote his EP. He joined the likes of MisterWives last spring and Charli XCX and Bleachers last summer on tour. BØRNS debut album, Dopamine, was released on October 16, 2015. The album peaked at the 24th spot on the Billboard Top 200 in the U.S.

BØRNS plays an indie pop/alternative rock style of music. His music also has elements of synth and can be considered synthpop. There’s even a hippie-like sound to a few of his songs too. His high pitched vocals are smooth. At times they even remind me of Justin Timberlake’s sound, except better because his music has a much more indie sound.

I first heard of BØRNS over the summer at some point. I’m not exactly sure if I heard him first on the local alternative radio station or on my friends Spotify playlist. The song “Electric Love” was the first song I heard though. Since the summer, I’ve heard the song many more times as well as several other BØRNS songs that I like just as much and have recently been getting into.

BØRNS 2016 Coachella appearance will be his first. He did play other major festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits last year, but Coachella goes beyond other festivals in my opinion. He’ll be kicking off the festival with a Friday set. As I’m writing this post, I’m listening to BØRNS and I can picture hearing this song while a cool breeze blows and the palm trees and bohemian hipsters are swaying. It should be a great set to attend to start off the weekend. With the limited amount of time, here’s some songs you need to have on repeat over the next three days:

  1. 10,000 Emerald Pools
  2. Electric Love
  3. American Money
  4. Seeing Stars
  5. Past Lives
  6. The Emotion
  7. Fool

Say That You’re Into Me

Yesterday while checking out the Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify, I made an amazing, mind blowing discovery. It was the coolest music discovery I’ve made in quite some time. For you to understand it though, I need to flashback to 9 years ago. *cue cloudy flashback transition*

It was the summer of 2006. I just finished my junior year of high school. I was into the punk rock, pop punk, emo, and alternative music genres. My favorite bands were Brand New, Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday, Something Corporate, and The Format. I attended my second Vans Warped Tour in August that summer. I saw Cartel, The Academy Is, Gym Class Heroes, Motion City Soundtrack, Less Than Jake, and Hellogoodbye play sets that day. All of those bands fit my style of music at the time too. My favorite set of the day was Hellogoodbye’s. They played all my favorite songs and had people run around the stage dressed in random costumes. It was absolute mayhem. Hellogoodbye even played a surprise Blink-182 cover set that day on a different stage which I also attended. It turned out to be a surprisingly great day despite the fact that I didn’t anticipate a great day. *cue transition to current day*

As I was looking at the Discover Weekly playlist, I noticed there was a song by Hellogoodbye listed. I was surprised because usually music on the Discover Weekly playlist isn’t the kind of pop punk, powerpop music that Hellogoodbye played when I listened to them. However, I didn’t recognize the title of the song. It was safe to say they had released some new music since I last listened to them. I was super curious to see what it sounded like so of course I hit play on the song. Out of the speakers on my iPad came the most mind blowing revelation. Hellogoodbye sounded like a band I would listen to now. They weren’t those same guys who got up on stage at Warped Tour dressed in random costumes. They were like current day hipsters playing music I would listen to on vinyl in my apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn while wearing my v-neck t-shirt. They progressed in their music style like I progressed in my music style. How freaking cool is that?! Usually I hate when bands change their sound because it seems like most of the time they get popular and try to fit the mold of popular bands. This wasn’t the case. They progressed alternatively.

Hellogoodbye hails from Huntington Beach, California and was formed in 2001 by front-man Forrest Kline. They were part of the Drive-Thru Records label from 2003-2010 which housed some of my favorite bands from high school like Dashboard Confessional, Something Corporate, New Found Glory, The Starting Line, Midtown, The Early November, and Senses Fail. They released their first full-length, Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!, in 2006 (I bought it at Warped Tour that summer). I knew of and listened to them before that though because of their self-titled EP. Between the release of their first and second album, Would It Kill You?, which was released in 2010, the single “Here (In Your Arms)” gained some major radio airplay. It reached the number 14 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 and went platinum in the U.S.

After the second album, the band went through a few transitions. Band members dropped out and were replaced. The band parted with Drive-Thru and signed with a new label. They also released an EP during that time and re-released their second album. It wasn’t until 2013 that they their third full-length album, Everything Is Debatable, came out after signing with another label, Old Friend Records. Following the release of the album, they toured and opened for Paramore. They probably should’ve been touring with a band like The Kooks or Generationals because their newest album gives off an entirely new indie pop sound. They really do sound like a mixture between those two bands with a hint of MGMT and Belle & Sebastian thrown in. There’s still a little bit of that old school Hellogoodbye essence heard in some songs as well. It’s incredible. If you can’t already tell, I was and am still amazed by it. As far as song recommendations go, it’s probably best to split it up between old Hellogoodbye and new Hellogoodbye, so here goes:

Song recommendations (Old):

**And remember these are definitely pop punk/powerpop style songs, so if you’re not into that, skip ahead**

  1. Call & Return
  2. Touchdown Turnaround
  3. Bonnie Taylor Shakedown
  4. Here (In Your Arms)
  5. All of Your Love

Song recommendations (New):

  1. (Everything Is) Debatable
  2. Just Don’t Let Go Just Don’t
  3. The Magic Hour Is Now
  4. Swear You’re In Love
  5.  And Everything Becomes A Blur
Hellogoodbye performing at the Vans Warped Tour in 2006 during their Blink-182 cover set.

Hellogoodbye performing at the Vans Warped Tour in 2006 during their Blink-182 cover set.

Coachella Band Preview: St. Lucia

Oh man. Do you know what day it is today? It’s officially one month until Coachella 2015 kicks off. I’ve been trying to preview one band per week that’s playing this year and that I listen to/am interested in seeing at the festival. So with four weeks remaining, time is short. This week I’ll be writing about a band playing Coachella for the second consecutive year, which is a rarity for many artists.

Jean-Philip Grobler, known to the music world as St. Lucia is relatively new to the indie music scene. He released his debut album When The Night, which was years in the making, in September 2013. Grobler, born in South Africa, started out involved in music from a young age as part of a world touring boys’ choir. He began making his own music during his preteen years. After studying music in Liverpool for three years, he moved to Brooklyn and worked for a company as a jingle writer prior to being signed by Neon Gold Records. The record company re-released his independently released self-titled mini-album in March 2012.

St. Lucia’s music uses both electronic and non-electronic instruments to create almost an experimental pop type sound. It has also been described as 80’s synth-pop. I first heard of this electro-pop artist about a year ago after I purchased tickets to attend the Sweetlife Festival in Columbia, Maryland. They were on the short list of artists to play the one day event in early May so I checked them out while I was prepping for that. I liked what I heard but wasn’t extremely stoked on St. Lucia initially. After I downloaded three songs, it took listening to my Sweetlife playlist (of songs by bands performing at the festival) on repeat to discover that I really did dig the few St. Lucia songs I had. Unfortunately due to my desire to maintain my spot for Lana Del Rey at the main stage, I wasn’t able to see St. Lucia who played on the other stage. I’m also pretty sure the set time overlapped another band I wanted to see.

Within the last year I decided to purchase When The Night on vinyl, which ended up being another Christmas gift record (along with the latest Alt-J album if you’ve been following my blog). Then when the Coachella lineup was released in early January and I saw St. Lucia was part of it, I knew I had a second chance to see this artist. To be honest, I ended up being pretty bummed after Sweetlife that I didn’t see him.

This year St. Lucia plays Sunday’s date at Coachella. Both this year and last year, Grobler’s act isn’t/wasn’t listed as a minor headliner like some of the bands I already previewed, but who knows how long that will last. Maybe the next time St. Lucia plays Coachella that will change. It’s best to check them out now when you have the chance though because I doubt he’ll play for a third consecutive time next year. I know I’m going to. I’m sure with the upbeat synth-pop tracks it’ll definitely be a fun set.

Song recommendations:

1. Closer Than This

2. All Eyes On You

3. Elevate

4. Before The Dive

5. Wait for Love

6. The Way You Remember Me