the naked and famous

Trying to Find the In-Betweens

There’s many reasons I can give you about why music is special. It can make us feel a range of emotions, bring back memories, or create new ones. It can bring people together or tear them apart. It’s a powerful art form. Another reason why music is special is that it’s always there and that it keeps coming back. Some songs never get old, but bands and artists are constantly creating new ones. One cool thing about this is when you don’t hear about a band or an artist for a few years and suddenly they come out of the woodwork again with a new single and a new album on the way. Sometimes the album drops as quick as Beyonce’s self-titled, but many times fans have to wait a few weeks or months for the new record. I experienced this phenomenon recently with a band who I’ve liked since 2011. They’ve released two albums thus far and have a third set to debut in October. Their new single “Higher” came out on July 7th setting the stage for the latest album, Simple Forms. They’re called The Naked and Famous.

The Naked and Famous are an indie electronic band from Auckland, New Zealand. They formed in 2007 while band members Thom Powers (vocals, guitar), Alisa Xayalith (vocals, keyboard), and Aaron Short (vocals, keyboard) were in college and worked on two EPs together. In 2009 David Beadle (bass) and Jesse Wood (drums) joined the group. Their name comes from a line in the song “Tricky Kid” by English musician Tricky. The band released their debut album Passive Me, Aggressive You on September 6, 2010 under their own label. Their debut single from the album, “Young Blood”, which was released a few months prior, debuted on the New Zealand music charts at number one. It even peaked at the number 12 spot on the U.S. Top Alternative Albums Chart. The album earned them six nominations for the New Zealand Music Awards.

In 2012, after completing touring for their first album, The Naked and Famous relocated to Los Angeles, CA. They began working on their second album with the intention of creating an album that could be played live in its entirety without relying on backing tracks. The second album, In Rolling Waves, was released on September 16, 2013 with the first single “Hearts Like Ours” debuting on July 23, 2013. Since touring in support of their second album, the group has been silent for the last year and a half until the release of the single  “Higher” a few weeks ago. With a brand new album, Simple Forms, on the horizon, The Naked and Famous will be back in the music world once again.

Their music style is primarily indie electronic, but you could also say they’re indie rock, electronic rock, or even indie pop/synthpop. While their first album has a more electronic feel, their second is more rock. It shows the progression they made by creating an album that could be played entirely live. If “Higher” is any indication of what their third album will be like, it seems like they’ve transitioned their old sound with modern electronic music. The new single even has a hint of tropical house mixed in.

I first heard The Naked and Famous in the summer of 2011. “Young Blood” as well as two other songs off their first two EP’s “Serenade” and “Bells” were what I downloaded at the time. It was “Young Blood” that hooked me though. I bought the debut album in the coming weeks after downloading those songs and took a liking to several others on the record. Two years later as I booked my first trip to California in September I saw the band was playing a show in San Diego the night of the day of my arrival. At the time, it was over a year since I saw any live music performance (sad, I know) and I thought it would be cool to make a concert part of my first trip to the Golden State. I asked my cousin if she’d be up for it and she agreed to go with me.

My trip happened shortly after the release of the second album so I purchased it and listened to it non-stop before my departure. On the night of the show, I was running on about 3-4 hours of sleep and had been up for almost 24 hours straight due to my traveling earlier in the day. My cousin and I arrived at the House of Blues in San Diego right before The Naked and Famous came on (my cousin made a late dinner and had to clean up first). It was a great performance despite being interrupted twice for technical difficulties. By the end of the show I was so exhausted. I ended up being awake for about 25-26 hours that day between traveling and time zone switching. Seeing that show in California revived my love for the song “Young Blood”. After hearing the song live, my cousin decided she liked it and we played it a few times throughout my trip. That song and The Naked and Famous will always be a reminder of my first trip to California, which was incredible in so many other ways as well. I guess in that way The Naked and Famous demonstrates more than just one reason why music is special.

Here are some recommendations to get you ready for the new album due out October 14th:

  1. Young Blood
  2. Punching in a Dream
  3. All of This
  4. Serenade
  5. Bells
  6. Girls Like You
  7. Hearts Like Ours
  8. Rolling Waves
  9. No Way
  10. I Kill Giants
  11. Higher (The New Single!!)

 

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Hold Tight You’re Slowly Coming Back to Life

Back in 2011 when my music tastes veered towards the indie/indie rock/hipster scene, I continually looked for new music and had no problem finding it. I discovered plenty of bands/artists for the first time like Foster the People, Matt & Kim, Peter, Bjorn & John, The Naked and Famous, Young the Giant, Bon Iver, The Kooks, etc. (the list could go on because I shortened it while typing this). While searching for music during this time, I came across an artist that really intrigued me, but that I also, in a way, overlooked. She sang this incredible cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love”, as well as other indie songs, which I listened to several times over a month to two month period. The coolest part was that she was only 15! I never downloaded any of her songs though and with time I found other music to listen to. Over the past few years I would see her name pop up here and there, but I didn’t pay much attention until about two weeks ago. I heard a new single of hers while listening to a playlist on Spotify and fell in love all over again.

Jasmine Lucilla Elizabeth Jennifer van den Bogaerde, more commonly known to the music world as Birdy, is a 19 year old British singer/songwriter who hails from Lymington, Hampshire in the UK. She began her music career at the age of 7 when she started taking piano lessons. By age 8, she was writing her own music. In 2008 at age 12, she won the talent competition Open Mic UK where she competed against 10,000 others. In January 2011, she released her first single, which was the “Skinny Love” cover. It was her break-out single as the song became a hit on the UK Singles Chart reaching the 17th spot and was the third biggest selling rock single in the UK in 2011. She also released her debut self-titled album in November 2011 which was a compilation of various covers and one original song. The album was a huge success in Europe and Australia.

In 2012 she released an EP of live songs which included her original song “Just A Game” from The Hunger Games soundtrack. The same year she also contributed to the soundtrack of the film Brave with Mumford & Sons, which earned her a Grammy nomination in 2013. Her second full length album Fire Within was released in September 2013. She also contributed 3 songs to The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack which came out in 2014. Most recently, she released the singles “Keeping Your Head Up” and “Beautiful Lies” from her third album, Beautiful Lies,which is slated for a March 25th release date.

Birdy’s music is in the indie pop/indie rock genre. In fact her debut album features mostly indie covers. Along with the Bon Iver cover hit, she covers Phoenix’s “1901”, Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal”, The Postal Service’s “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”, The Naked and Famous’s “Young Blood”, The xx’s “Shelter”, and Cherry Ghost’s “People Help the People” among other songs. Following her debut, her music hasn’t changed much. Of course she’s releasing original music now, but the indie vibe to her tracks still exists. Her voice has a young feel to it as well. It hasn’t changed much through the years either despite getting her braces off which created a distinct sound on the Bon Iver cover.

Although Birdy’s success has mainly been overseas, I have a feeling she may get a bigger following in the U.S. soon for two reasons. First, her two singles from Beautiful Lies are off the hook, especially “Keeping Your Head Up”. That’s the song I heard that made me fall in love again and catch up with what Birdy’s been up to over the past few years. Second, Birdy’s getting older. She’s done shows in America before and toured playing small venues as a guest for Christina Perri, but she predominantly does shows in Europe. Her scheduled dates so far in support of her new album are in Europe. However, she’ll be 20 in May and I have a feeling at some point she’ll want to spread her wings across the pond. Her new album might just give her some leverage to do that too. While we’re waiting to see what else Birdy has to offer with this upcoming third album, here’s some songs you should hear by this talented young artist:

  1. “Skinny Love”
  2. “1901”
  3. “Wings”
  4. “People Help the People”
  5. “Tee Shirt”
  6. “Not About Angels”
  7. “Keeping Your Head Up”
  8. “Beautiful Lies”