MUSIC

SAINT SLUMBER ‘YOUTH//3’: The Culmination of ‘YOUTH’

saint slumber youth//3
Photo by Keira Zhou

New Jersey indie-rock band, SAINT SLUMBER, completed their YOUTH// EP trilogy Friday with the release of YOUTH//3. The three-piece, made up of lead vocals Josh Perna, guitarist Aaron Brown, and drummer Matt Carpenter, has focused on the concept of youth and its fragility throughout the trilogy. Today I chat with drummer Matt Carpenter about why YOUTH//3 is “brutally sad,” finding their sound, and what’s next for SAINT SLUMBER.

‘YOUTH//3’: Grieving the Loss of YOUTH

PoetryDansLaRue: So, the EP is out now, which is very exciting! I know it was mentioned that YOUTH//3 is “brutally sad,” can you pinpoint one of the five songs that was more emotional or difficult to write?

SAINT SLUMBER: “I would say, “THIS TOO SHALL PASS.” It’s a big, sad ballad. I think it’s going to tug on the heartstrings of people. There are a few lines in there that make you want to tear up. Josh writes all the lyrics, so it’s more personal for him, but we can all relate to what he’s talking about.”

PDLR: Is that the [only] one that sticks out as “brutally sad” or is the theme to the EP more emotional stripped-down songs?

SAINT SLUMBER: “I’d say that there is a more emotional theme to the whole EP. Especially since it’s a culmination of the whole topic that occurs throughout the YOUTH trilogy. YOUTH//3 is a final statement, grieving the loss of youth.”

PDLR: With it being five years since the beginning of the trilogy, has your perspective of the concept of youth changed?

SAINT SLUMBER: “I’m the oldest member of the band. I’m 28 years old, but at heart, I always feel like I’m a 14/15-year-old kid. I think it’s holding onto that aspect of wonder and awe of life and the innocence of being young. It never really goes away. You have to grow up and mature a little bit, but it doesn’t entirely go away. I don’t know if too much of my perspective has changed. I think in general, we did our best throughout the trilogy to encapsulate that feeling. Some of these songs aren’t very old, so they are pretty fresh ideas.”

Finding Their “MANTRA”

PDLR: Is there a defining song from the trilogy that you would recommend to new fans?

SAINT SLUMBER: “For me, I’d say it’s “MANTRA.” What we thought was interesting throughout the whole YOUTH trilogy was not only topically, that it’s about maturing and the loss of youth, but that by YOUTH//3 our sound has evolved the most. We feel like this EP is the sound that we’ve been trying to reach for the past five years. “MANTRA” was the one that immediately, once the song was in its finishing process, that we were like, “This is it!” Although I do think people are going to like “BIG BIG LOVE.” I think it’s the most unique song that we’ve written so far.”

Coincidentally, “MANTRA” was the first song that I heard by them. The theory checks out, in my opinion.

Before ‘YOUTH//’

PDLR: In the early days of songwriting before YOUTH//1, what artists did you draw inspiration from to create your sound?

SAINT SLUMBER: “I think it’s been a long process of the development of our sound. We all grew up playing in metal and hardcore and post-hardcore bands. So that’s our background, and I think that will always be part of us. It influenced our current sound and especially our live show. As you get older, as you mature, you want to create music that is a little bit more you. So, we grew up also with The 1975. We were on the earlier end of The 1975 (THEY STAN AND WE ARE HERE FOR IT). We looked up to bands like Imagine Dragons that were redefining the indie sound. Radiohead has been a big influence to us as well. I could name a million bands…”

After ‘YOUTH//’

PDLR: So, I hear that the 4th EP is already in the making? Does EP 4 have a completely different vibe? Or is it stemming from the momentum from the 3rd EP?

SAINT SLUMBER: “The next batch of music is coming from what we’ve been writing throughout the YOUTH// process. We didn’t necessarily think that they belonged on any one of the albums. They still fall within the same vibe. Not that these are leftover songs, but they are other ones that we had in our pocket. Then we have some MORE songs too for the future that kind of break away from that vibe a little.”

PDLR: Aside from EP 3 and 4, what’s next for SAINT SLUMBER? Can we expect any shows soon?

SAINT SLUMBER: “We are right now, most focused on getting tours. We are hoping to book some shows soon for the fall. We do want to get some live shows in New York and Philly in the earlier fall.”

We will be on the lookout for sure! Check out YOUTH//3 and the trilogy in its entirety with this SAINT SLUMBER playlist below!

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PLAKE Nix the Filter On Raw New Single “Bleeding Out”

Plake Bleeding Out

Hunter Plake made his break-out debut on The Voice Season 12 by turning the chairs of Alicia Keys and Gwen Stefani. Initially joining team Alicia but later stolen by Gwen, he made a lasting impression on Voice fans nationwide. Today we talk about his band, PLAKE, with brother Dakota and their newest track, “Bleeding Out.”

Recommendation: If you haven’t already, listen to the song NOW! Try to focus on the lyrics and the message and your overall first impression of it without context.

On New Single”Bleeding Out”

PLAKE dropped their new emotionally transparent single “Bleeding Out” on August 2nd after a ten-month hiatus from releasing music. Upon asking about the concept and process behind the making of the song and his struggle with depression here is what Hunter had to say:

PLAKE: “I mean, people don’t really write about it [depression] because you feel like it’s an embarrassing thing. Honestly, I think being a creative person, when I experience emotions, I don’t feel half-assed with any emotion. If I’m experiencing love, I experience it very intensely, anger, etc. When I wrote the song, it’s about the feelings of depression. It’s constructed in a way where it talks about the different stages of it and where you end up mentally at the end. At the end, the reason why I switched the lyrics up, the reason why I did that is because that’s how you get out of depression. You start to care about other people instead of just yourself.”

“This is the first time that we released a song that’s so intense. I like to say that we have pretty different sides to our band: our happy side with songs like “Eden,” and then “Bleeding Out” is the most extreme sad version of our band that we have.”

Unfortunately the music video for “Bleeding Out” was recently removed, but Hunter describes it as “very dream-like.” He explains that the video paints a picture of your average person struggling with day-to-day life and using devices as a distraction to escape depression. In the video, his brother, Dakota, is “trying to get him out of the virtual world and back to reality.” We will be on the lookout for the repost in the future!

On the Songwriting Process

PoetryDansLaRue: Can you guys talk about your songwriting process? Who does most of the writing? Who does the producing?

PLAKE: “I write my best when I’m honestly by myself. I do like writing with people too sometimes. With an emotional song like “Bleeding Out,” I wrote the song, and then after that, I had ideas of where I wanted to go with production because I’m producing as I write too. I start with a melody, and I have that melody in my head. That’s kind of how our song begins. Once we start recording it, we start picking it apart. When we’re doing that, both of us are in the studio. Dakota is playing guitar mostly and helping me get a fresh perspective on what’s inside my head.”

PDLR: So, “Eden” was the first song that you released as a band and you released eight songs after that, correct? For some reason, I could not access “Hurricane Lovers” on Apple Music…?

PLAKE: “We released seven songs after “Eden,” including “Bleeding Out.” We released “Hurricane Lovers,” and we pulled that one down, “Scared,” and “Cold Vibes,” we pulled down. So those, that we pulled down, there’s different reasons behind each one, but we just realized it was a hard left. We see ourselves as what we’re gonna be in the future and anything that might hurt us, we eliminate.”

PDLR: Which song do you feel represents your sound the most and the sound that you’re going for in the future?

PLAKE: “My answer is going to be the same as every artist. Whatever we just released is gonna be the answer because we just did it. But, it’s a journey, if we look back on it in twenty years, we might see a different version of us. Right now, “Bleeding Out” is exactly what we want.”

On The Voice

PDLR: Can I go back a little and talk about The Voice? Do you keep in contact with any of the coaches/contestants?

PLAKE: “I stay in contact with the contestants. As far as the coaches go, the show and my relationships with the coaches are not as personal as you would think. So, I haven’t stayed in touch with them. There are a few people from the show that I stay in touch with.”

PDLR: I feel there is a little bit of a disconnect from following some of The Voice contestants throughout the years…

PLAKE: “Honestly, unless you’re an internet meme, blowing up overnight doesn’t happen. I made the decision that I was doing music full time before I even auditioned. So, when I went there, I thought it was convenient, and I could get a little bit of attraction. Since then it’s been making connections with people in the music industry. A lot of our connections came from the show and us just reaching out to people. It helps being on the show to reach out to producers, etc. I think the disconnect you’re talking about is the fact that people don’t blow up overnight. They might go there and expect that they will. That’s not how it works if they don’t put in the work like every other artist, building your sound and building your image.”

Coming Soon

PDLR: What’s next for PLAKE?

PLAKE: “We’re about to release the rest of our projects and are planning that out right now. Probably going to be a single next month and a full EP in October. The rest of the EP is more based on relationships with kind of the same sound as “Bleeding Out.”

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Check out this PLAKE playlist below for more!

“1975” // Billy Raffoul

1975 Billy Raffoul

There are moments in certain tracks that pause and come back to hit you with an unexpected punch to the gut. “1975” by Billy Raffoul is one of those tracks. Raffoul is a songwriter that seems wise beyond his years, narrating stories of the past and life lessons. As I listen to this song several times over during this post, I hope to keep it together. I can’t make any promises, though.

Billy Raffoul has been on my watch for some time now. You may recognize his raspy acoustic sound from the TV series, A Million Little Things, hence the tears about to be shed. This song, off of his most recent EP with the same title, is beyond breathtaking.

“1975” takes you back to a time the young artist hasn’t experienced, storytelling from the perspective of a loved one. You’re there with the woman in the song. Even though the context is not clear, you can relate to her lifechanging story. “She said time and time again, I wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for the summer of 1975.” “Everyone has a moment when it’ll never be the same again.”

The entire EP has back-to-back magnetic songs that pull the listener in from the first chord. I highly recommend you listen to both the track and the EP in its entirety. Let me know your favorite one! Also, while you’re at it, check out his newest single “Easy Tiger.” It’s all heartbreakingly beautiful.

Fair warning: You may need the tissues, but it’s guaranteed to tug on your heartstrings. Listen to the official audio of “1975” by Billy Raffoul below.

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Hopscotch Music Festival 2019: Lineup Playlist

Raleigh’s own Hopscotch Music Festival is back for year ten September 5th-7th. Rolling Stone denoted Hopscotch as having, “an extraordinarily cool roster of bands with a Mardi Gras-like atmosphere.” With most recent years featuring acts like Gary Clark Jr., Young Thug, Vince Staples, Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, Solange, Lizzo, The Revolution, Nile Rodgers & Chic, and Miguel, I would say it’s about time to pay attention.

This year’s lineup has some real stand-out acts at first glance. It is clear to see that Hopscotch Music Festival is building their name and becoming a must-watch scene for up-and-coming artists. Let’s take a look at some artists to watch from this year’s lineup.

Snail Mail: Thursday 9/5

Lindsey Jordan, or better known as the alternative one-woman act Snail Mail, is headed for the City Plaza stage. Her songs have a very chill yet punk sound. She reminds me of Soccer Mommy with her raspy voice and ’90s grunge music style. Her songs “Pristine” and “The 2nd Most Beautiful Girl in the World” will take you back to ’90s teen angst movie soundtracks and artists like Liz Phair or Fiona Apple.

Kurt Vile & The Violators: Thursday 9/5

You may be familiar with Kurt Vile as the former lead guitarist from The War on Drugs. Indie-rock singer-songwriter Kurt and his band, The Violators, are back to play their second Hopscotch set. Songs like “Wakin On a Pretty Day” and “I’m an Outlaw” are tailor-made for folk, indie, rock, or country music fans alike.

James Blake: Friday 9/6

This guy is everywhere! I was very excited to see that James Blake is headlining Hopscotch. He is an act that has popped up so many times on my Twitter feed and recommended artists. “Retrograde” is one of those songs that builds so much it slaps you in the face with its power. I have a soft spot for “Limit To Your Love” which is a mostly piano-based track as opposed to his usual electro style. Overall, there is a lot to say about this artist, and he is one you will not want to miss!

Raphael Saadiq: Saturday 9/6

Raphael Saadiq will be playing at City Plaza on Saturday. His most recent release, “Something Keeps Calling,” ft. Rob Bacon is a song with emotional vocals that will cut through on first listen. Oo la la! Vocalist and bass guitarist for the R&B group Tony! Toni! TonĂ©!, Saadiq has also produced songs for iconic artists including Whitney Houston and John Legend.

Phantogram: Saturday 9/7

Can we now agree that this lineup is stacked? And, we haven’t even discussed the undercard yet. Phantogram is a dream pop (I think that genre best describes their music) duo that you have likely heard before. Their hit “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” is their most well-known tune. Check out the music video that they released yesterday for “Into Happiness” for a taste of what you can expect at Hopscotch.

CHVRCHES: Saturday 9/7

Ultimate. Festival. Band. Headlining. HopScotch. This band is going to be so much fun at Red Hat on a Saturday night. I have mentioned CHVRCHES recently because of their pump-up Coachella set this past spring. Their songs are so irresistible with easy-to-learn lyrics that get embedded in your brain. Some crowd favorites are “The Mother We Share,” “Miracle,” “Leave a Trace,” and “Get Out.”

Here is a shortlist of other MUST-KNOW artists on the lineup by genre:

Thursday 9/5: Joey Purp (Hip Hop), Yowler (Alt/Indie), David Nance Group (Alt/Indie), Lucy Dacus (Indie Rock), Tomberlin (Folk)

Friday 9/6: Tyler Ramsey (former lead guitarist from Band of Horses!), Deerhunter (Indie Rock), Channel Tres (Dance/Electronic), The Waston Twins (Alt Country), Ryley Walker (Indie Folk/Blues)

Saturday 9/7: Cate Le Bon (Folk/Pop), Daughter of Swords (Folk), Boogarins (Psychedelic Rock), Matt Martians (Southern Hip Hop), Kelsey Waldon (Country)

Raleigh Alternative Concert Lineup: Must-See Acts Coming This Fall

Raleigh Fall Concert

These fall shows are so hot; everyone already has tickets! It’s not too late, though to check out these artists, buy tickets, or enter contests to win. Here’s the hookup for the Raleigh alternative concert scene coming this fall.

*Sidenote: Feel free to click on the venue links to check out plenty of other artists headed this way or download Bandsintown to track shows in your area.

Catfish and the Bottlemen

Catfish and the Bottlemen are a British alternative rock band from North Whales. Their lead singer, Van McCann, has one of the catchiest names ever as well as the most poignant vocals. Modern-Day British rock and alternative/indie bands always seem to have the key to what is next in this genre. Catfish and the Bottlemen are similar to the likes of Arctic Monkeys and The Hunna. These bands are paving the way for the future of alternative rock music.

If you are new to Catfish, take a journey back to 2014 and check out their most popular tunes “Cocoon” and “Kathleen.” For a fresh, recent sound, their tracks “Conversation” and “Longshot” are ‘get stuck in your head’ catchy. Don’t miss Catfish and the Bottlemen at The Ritz on Tuesday, September 24th.

FACE-VALUE LIVE NATION TICKETS

RADIO CONTEST

The Head and the Heart

The Head and the Heart are a perfect chill band with authentic, storytelling folk songwriting. They will be playing at Red Hat for the second time on Tuesday, October 1st.

Most of you will be familiar with The Head and the Heart from their radio single “All We Ever Knew” in 2016. But, man do they know how to write some heartfelt songs. Their album, Signs of Light, is a no-skip type record that you play on a sunny fall afternoon. Songs like “Rhythm and Blues” and “I Don’t Mind” show off their versatile style. Off of their new album, Living Mirage, “Glory of Music” will bring fans of any kind to tears.

If you want to listen to their earlier songs, “Coeur d’Alene” is a fan-favorite and “Lost In My Mind” is pretty much guaranteed to be on the setlist.

FACE-VALUE TICKETMASTER TICKETS

RADIO CONTEST

The Kooks

The Ritz, Raleigh has a killer alternative concert lineup this fall! The Kooks are a fun band that I haven’t listened to in a while. They have some songs that are a little more pop-rock than Catfish and the Bottlemen. Their earlier songs like “She Moves In Her Own Way,” “Naive,” and “Ooh La” will take you down memory lane.

Admittedly, I need to go back and relisten to their music and add their new stuff. You should do the same! “Always Where I Need to Be” will bring back ‘early 2000s car singalong’ days. The Kooks are headed this way Wednesday, October 9th.

FACE-VALUE LIVE NATION TICKETS

The Neighbourhood

The Neighbourhood, playing at The Ritz on Wednesday, November 6th, are a unique take on today’s alternative music scene as they incorporate hip-hop influences and electronic beats into their work. Everyone is familiar with their 2012 single “Sweater Weather.” If you listen to some of their other tracks, you might get more of an upbeat emo sounding vibe. Take “R.I.P. 2 My Youth” or “Cry Baby” for instance that have serious lyrics contrasted by vibrant beats.

Their track “Void” off of their most recent album is an emotionally transparent anthem. “Softcore” is a supernatural sounding tune with relatable lyrics about a toxic relationship. “You’re like the sun, you make me young. But you drain me out if I get too much.” Whew!

FACE-VALUE LIVE NATION TICKETS

// THE 1975 //

This ‘pop-rock emo, ambient synth & guitar’ band dropped five new tour dates on us a week ago. It has been a bit of a process for long-time fans to get these tickets as they tried a new pre-presale strategy. Nevertheless, they are coming to PNC Arena on Tuesday, November 19th! I repeat, PNC. ARENA. *Deep breath.*

If you want the tea, you’ll listen to “Robbers,” “Couldn’t Be More In Love,” “I Like America & America Likes Me,” and “You.” Or all of the songs. All. Of. Them.

The good news is that you can still get face-value tickets and maybe even cheaper tickets; they are on sale now. Bring your mom, dad, husband, wife, kid, brother, sister, cousin, friend, neighbor, dog, cat? And I’ll see you there!

GENERAL SALE TICKETS

*I will update this post with other Raleigh alternative concert contests as they pop up.

Opening Acts That Will Turn You Into Forever Fans

How many times have you seen a live show where you were not familiar with the opening acts? Maybe you even missed the opening acts because of travel or lack of paying attention to the start times. Sometimes it is unavoidable depending on work schedules, travel plans, or traffic, etc. More often than not, though, you can count on the headliners to tour with equally incredible artists.

So, get to the show early and let’s check out these memorable openers!

Marc Scibilia

My mom and I first saw Marc Scibilia open for James Bay in 2015. Although you may not know Marc by name, you will likely recognize his voice from a familiar Jeep Super Bowl commercial. Hearing “This Land Is Your Land” had the crowd experiencing a dĂ©jĂ  vu moment. You’ve probably seen it, check it out here.

Marc played several songs that had the crowd hooked on first listen. He was an act that you frantically type into your search bar and instantly add all of his songs. His single at the time, “Wide Open Arms,” had such an anthemic vibe in the small theater. If you are a Springsteen fan, give Marc Scibilia a listen. He has that American folk-rock kind of style. He often likes to cover a little Springsteen now and then which tends to draw the crowd in even more. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for his album Out of Style out in October of that year. From that album, “Better Man,” “The Moment,” and “Jericho” are vulnerable tracks with relatable lyrics about love and relationships.

Marc Part 2 & 3

Fast-forward a year later, and Marc was opening for Gavin Degraw here at Red Hat in 2016. He played an emotional stripped style version of “Jericho.” There couldn’t have been a more picturesque venue for the song. “How Bad We Need Eachother” was an anthemic crowd favorite that got everyone on their feet clapping along.

The best thing about discovering new artists that tour with your favorites is that they usually come back around for shows of their own. Marc was headed back to the triangle for the “Summer Clothes” tour at the Pour House in 2017. Although it may have been an untimely Monday in June, it was a fan’s dream. Let me say that his voice and performance were both much bigger than the venue. He has released several outstanding singles since this show. His most recent release, “You Are the Night,” has a Calvin Harris type beat on a classic love song.

Joseph

James Bay sure knows how to pick impressionable opening acts! For round two of the “Choas and the Calm” tour the female band, Joseph blew fans away. Their harmonies are insane, which makes perfect sense because they are sisters, after all. Songs like “White Flag” and “Canyon” had Bay fans immediately hooked and wanting to hear more. I haven’t taken their album out of the now spinning queue since. Perfect timing to check them out now as they are back with a new powerful single “Fighter.” They also announced an upcoming album along with a North American and European tour this past week.

Jamie Lawson

Jamie Lawson was the first artist signed to Gingerbread Man Records by Ed Sheeran in 2015. Although he opened for many Ed shows on the road, he also opened for Vance Joy AND One Direction!

Jamie is a timeless songwriter with a voice that will cut through and mesmerize a crowd of any size. His intimate style of performing reminded me of Damien Rice’s shows. If you are unfamiliar with Damien Rice, he is one of Ed Sheeran’s longtime idols. You could drop a pin at his shows, and everyone seems frozen in awe. This comparison makes perfect sense in regards to the allure of Jamie Lawson. He had Ed, Vance, and 1D fans eating out of the palm of his hand; convincing most of them to book trips to see him again. Grab the tissues before you listen to his chart-topping single, “Wasn’t Expecting That.”

Opening Acts, Jamie Lawson
Opening Acts, Jamie Lawson

Mikky Ekko

Mikky Ekko was the most surprising opening act I have seen in a while! Immediately my mom and I were blown away by his voice and his stage presence. You may think you are not familiar with him, only to find out that he wrote and sang on the hit song “Stay” with Rihanna. Boy, did he ever hit that one out of the park on stage! If you want to check out his solo version of the song, this one is stunning.

Every other song that he played made the crowd feel like they were at his headline show. For instance, “Not the One” is a song that draws you in so much that you forget where you are. I haven’t had the chance to see him again, but I have since followed all of his releases. I am looking forward to what he has in store next.

lovelytheband

What a perfect festival band! After lovelytheband opened for Vance Joy and 5 Seconds of Summer in 2018, they seemed to pop up on every festival lineup. Most listeners will be familiar with their radio single “Broken.” However, this was not the tune that jumped out to me the most. Their song “Coachella” was the one that turned me into a fan, and has become somewhat of a ‘Chella season anthem.

Furthermore, “Your Whatever” off of their debut release, Finding It Hard to Smile, is a ‘write the lyrics in your away message’ kind of track. “You’re obsessed with the moon and in love with the stars. I’m in love with your soul and everything that you are.” Yes, please!

Lauren Jenkins

This recommendation comes to me from my parents. They recently saw Lauren Jenkins open up for The Wild Feathers at the Chameleon Club. My mom felt that the crowd was drawn to her “humor and comfort with telling her story.” “She had that personality that pulled you in, and she wasn’t afraid to talk about her failed relationship that inspired some of her songs.”

If you listen to her album, No Saint, you can quickly tell that she has a Nashville influence. One of the stand-out tracks is “Running Out of Road,” which may be reminiscent of early Taylor Swift tunes like “A Perfectly Good Heart” and “The Way I Loved You.” This track has the lyrics that Taylor is capable of today as a veteran songwriter. Point blank: Taylor Swift fans would LOVE her music. I hope to see her up on stage doing her thing alongside Taylor in the future!

Check out this playlist featuring these A-List Opening Acts!

‘No. 6 Collaborations Project’ by Ed Sheeran: An Album for the World

Ed Sheeran, No. 6 Collaborations Project

Today is the day for Ed Sheeran fans! His new album, No. 6 Collaborations Project, has fans tuned in and celebrating worldwide. If you aren’t familiar with Ed’s album history, this is the second collaborations album he has added to his repertoire. Ed merges all genres and takes many risks with the variety of tracks on this album. I guarantee that there is something for everyone.

Here are some of the stand-out tracks of the album that cover genres from country to rap. Let’s “Dive” right into it!

Beautiful People (feat. Khalid)

The theme of the first five singles from the album seems to be that Ed is not conforming to the usual lifestyle of a pop star. Sheerios are not at all surprised by this concept. “Beautiful People” further confirms this humble approach with lyrics like, “I’m not fazed by all the lights and flashing cameras, ’cause with my arms around you, there’s no need to care.” Awwww! Above all, the two artists seem to blend so well and have similar styles. The song will leave you wanting more from Ed and Khalid.

Cross Me (feat. Chance the Rapper & PnB Rock)

“Cross Me” is a bop! I played it in the car on repeat for about two days straight. The PnB Rock hook is super catchy and makes you want to get up and dance right away. The song is a captivating take on feeling protective over your partner. It is a straight-up ‘don’t mess with my girl’ anthem.

Best Part of Me (feat. YEBBA)

“Best Part of Me” is by far the tearjerker of this album. It sounds even more heartfelt on vinyl. For the fans that fell in love with “Kiss Me,” “Thinking Out Loud,” and “Perfect,” this one is for you. When he starts off the song whispering “1, 2, 3,” I am instantly reminded of this “Kiss Me” performance from 2012. Somehow he always finds new words to express the sentiments of everlasting love. If you’re looking for a wedding duet in 2019 or 2020, claim it now! Likewise, the video is a classic black and white live recording at Abbey Road Studios. Swoon!

Way To Break My Heart (feat. Skrillex)

Sometimes song titles speak to you before you listen to them. This track did just that. The slower intro may catch you by surprise, and you will be waiting for the Skrillex beats to drop. Don’t worry, they do! This track jumped out to me the most apart from the previously released singles. If you listen carefully, the instrumental played with the first and second verse sounds like John Waite’s “Missing You.” Although that comparison might be a bit of a stretch, I love it!

Ed Sheeran, No. 6 Collaborations Project

BLOW (with Chris Stapleton & Bruno Mars)

A very unexpected introduction for an Ed Sheeran song! The three artists all seem to have branched out with this one and gone a little more rock ‘n’ roll for “BLOW.” Chris Stapleton’s style seems to have a lot of influence on this track. It is a little more risquĂ© than your average Ed Sheeran radio hit, but fans are here for it. The music video is yet another surprising take on the song as it features a female rock band in place of the male singers. All in all, it’s a jam and the perfect way to end the album.

Overall, every song lives up to his stadium sell-out standards, but it’s only day one. So, enjoy No. 6 Collaborations Project, Sheerio friends. I’ve got a lot more listening and dancing to do!

Coachella: Discover Your Next Favorite Artists from Your Couch

Every year for the past twenty years, people flock to Indio, CA, to experience one of the most iconic music festivals in the United States. Coachella brings together hundreds of artists and thousands of music fans from all over the world. But you don’t have to break the bank to discover new artists through Coachella. You don’t even have to leave your couch. Here’s how to make the most of your Coachella or Couchella experience the minute the lineup drops.

THE LINEUP

Coachella announces their lineup around the same time every year. After sending out some well-spaced teaser tweets featuring some of the lower billed artists, Coachella dropped the lineup on January 2nd, 2019 at 8:28 pm local time. This was an excruciating 11:28 pm for those of us on the east coast! Nevertheless, fans scanned the list for artists they would hope to see.

Almost as soon as the lineup is out, it seems that some superpower dude on Reddit categorizes it into genres. This list was an excellent place to start if it is a bit overwhelming, and you want to focus on the music styles you already like. Here is a look at this past year’s lineup by genre.

PLAYLISTS

There will be so many playlists available after the lineup comes out. Apple Music and Spotify will curate extensive playlists featuring all of the artists. This style can also be overwhelming, and you only get to hear about one song per artist. You can like or add them to your own Coachella playlist and then check out the rest of the artists’ discography from there.

The Coachella app is another easy way to discover new artists all in one place. I tried to go through every artist and listen to at least one of their songs. If I liked something, I would add it to my playlist and look up the rest of their music. It did take some time, but I found a lot of the artists that I wanted to see by doing this. You can always go back to the Reddit list if you aren’t finding what you like.

THE ARTISTS

Now, this is the fun part. Discovering new songs and artists makes you excited even if you are watching Coachella from home. There are plenty of videos and full sets that you can find on YouTube to relive Coachella 2019. Here are some buzzworthy artists that I hope to help you discover if you missed them this Coachella/Couchella season.

DERMOT KENNEDY

I don’t know how I didn’t know about him before January. It’s okay though because Coachella does a great job of booking the “up-and-coming” artists before they blow up. Go listen to his song “Power Over Me,” and you will not be disappointed. He’s a highly talented singer-songwriter with an Ed Sheeran vibe. His voice has a little more of that rock style grittiness to it. I listened to his discography before Coachella, and his songs always seem to outdo themselves. “After Rain,” (see related post here), “Couldn’t Tell,” “Glory,” and “Young & Free,” are goosebump evoking for sure. He played to a packed Gobi Tent with Irish flags flying and fans singing every word. It was just like being at a sold-out show. Speaking of, I’m so excited I just snagged tickets to his SOLD-OUT show in Chicago for his first headlining tour in NA!

The only downside to his set was that Lizzo played at the same time. She is killing it with back to back sell-out shows in the area. She recently performed at The Ritz, Raleigh in May, only to announce a much larger show this September at Red Hat Amphitheater. I hope to catch her this round. *Prays to the Stubhub gods.* Good news for Couchella viewers is that you don’t have to deal with scheduling conflicts. You can flip through the performances and see who you like. Check out Dermot’s new music video for his current single, “Outnumbered,” below.

YELLOW DAYS

Well, I’m glad I looked more into this artist because I was about to start by saying, “This band….” Nope, wrong! I stand corrected. This. Solo. Artist. Is. Absolutely. Phenomenal. I’m not sure how I didn’t realize that George van den Broek was a solo act, but that makes him all the more intriguing. You can also cheat and preview an artist’s previous set on YouTube before Coachella to see who you want to check out. Weekend 2 ‘Chella goers have the luxury of doing this during weekend 1. Yellow Days has an alluring selection of live performances, like this one, that will give you an idea of what to expect.

He is one of those artists whose voice sounds exactly like the track when he does live shows. His show has such a chill vibe and was perfect for a Friday afternoon in the Polo Fields. You fall in love with his songwriting and style of delivering each song as well. Fan-favorite live numbers were “That Easy,” “A Little While,” and “How Can I Love You.” He just released a few new singles with the latest one being July 10th. Check out “It’s Real Love” below.

MAGGIE ROGERS

This girl is everywhere! I heard a little from her before the lineup came out, but it seems that she is checking off bucket list boxes left and right. Her success makes absolute sense as her major-label debut album, Heard It in a Past Life, was released in January as well. By this point, you’ve probably seen her on one of the many morning or evening talk shows. You can catch her on the TODAY show this Friday, July 14th!

Maggie has so much energy and is, overall, a great songwriter, performer, and artist. She sets herself apart from pop songwriters by adding a little bit of edge. Though you may have heard her referred to as the ‘Janis Joplin’ of this era, the singer reminds me of Coeur de Pirate in her musical style. Maggie also seems so appreciative of every moment she is currently experiencing in her career. She was beaming on the Gobi Stage at Coachella and seemed overwhelmed by the crowd. A favorite moment was overhearing a fan say, “Maggie is soooo hot right now!” While he may have been referring to her appearance, it’s also true that she is currently on fire in the music scene. Many fans have had “Burning,” “Retrograde,” and “Fallingwater,” on repeat for months.

MANSIONAIR

This band snuck up on me too little too late. I was getting into their music around the time of Coachella. If you are looking for a soothing vocal to add to your relaxation playlist, “Waiting Room,” is the one. Don’t stop there, though, as they have many more magnetic tracks. I should have paid more attention to the rest of their music because I’m regretting not making a point to catch their set. They have a similar sound to Year’s & Year’s, SAFIA, or Joji. They are worth the listen for sure!

CHVRCHES: Jonathan’s Pick

CHVRCHES is pretty much the ultimate festival band. They’ve played Coachella about 5x. Yes, I knew who they were before Coachella, but I hadn’t seen them live. My husband says, “he didn’t listen to their music,” even though he inadvertently did. We both agree; they killed their set! They really could have been on the main stage before Khalid and Ariana Grande, and that would have saved a lot of fans running back and forth. CHVRCHES are also playing at HOPSCOTCH here in Raleigh this September. Check out the lineup here.

There aren’t many bands that I trust to cover this song. Clean version!

I apologize for the untimeliness of this post, but it’s never too late to discover new artists or discuss past and future Coachella lineups.

LANY: A Different ‘Kinda Hericane’ in 2019

LANY, The Ritz, Raleigh, NC.
LANY SOLD-OUT at The Ritz, Raleigh. June 1st, 2019.

In June of 2017 the L.A. —> New York band, LANY (lay-knee), released a song called “Hericane” on their self-titled debut album. It couldn’t be a more fitting song title for fans in the Raleigh area considering the band’s first local headline show took place the Sunday after Hurricane Matthew. A couple hundred dedicated fans braved road closures and flooding to make it to the “Kinda” tour on October 9th, 2016. Fast forward almost three years later, Paul Klein, Jake Goss, and Les Priest have gone on to release their second album. They are currently on a massive world tour which included a recent sold-out show at The Ritz in Raleigh.

OMG ILYSB

The first song I heard by LANY was “ILYSB” (I Love You So Bad stripped version!) around the spring of 2016. I was instantly hooked and played it to no end. *Goes on YouTube and watches all of the live performances of the song.* This one is my FAVORITE! I finally branched out and listened to the rest of the songs on their EPs. Quickly I fell in love with “4EVER!”, “Someone Else” (check out this baby version), “Walk Away,” and later “pink skies.” The kinda EP was a very well-timed soundtrack to summer days. At the time, LANY seemed to have a pretty defined fan base even before the release of their debut album.

LANY is the kind of band that you discover, and you wonder why you hadn’t listened to them earlier. All of those bands that you see fans talking about on your Twitter feed are worth the listen! I did the same thing with The 1975, believe it or not. Somehow, I overlooked them and dare I say, ignored, their music until it hit me in the face. I bit the bullet with LANY, and I’m so glad that I did!

HERICANE CAT’S CRADLE 2016

Another timely release came for me as the “Kinda” tour was passing through Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro in October 2016. This might have been the best gig ever for LANY fans! Cat’s Cradle is a great venue to see up-and-coming bands before you find yourself at the back of a sold-out theater straining to see the stage. Plus, the group had just built momentum opening for Oh Wonder there that June. You will never regret seeing an act there.

While the hurricane blowing through over the weekend might have put a damper on individual travel plans, it had its perks for those who were able to make it. The queue was minimal, a rather unheard of advantage for LANY fans today. There was plenty of space to stand and dance, a perfect view, and an overall intimate feel. My favorite memory from the show was when PJK (singer Paul Klein) had to stop at the beginning of “Current Location,” and take in the fact that everyone in the entire room was screaming the lyrics back to him. His reaction, “You know it!?” still resonates with me today. I learned my lesson if you can make it, go to the gig!

THE LANY TOUR

So, that ends the crazy trips for LANY shows, right? Nope. Not at all. I had to see them again. The boys had been gearing up for their debut album release while simultaneously on tour. Even better, they were coming back to Cat’s Cradle on a Saturday! However, luck is rarely on my side, and that date was out of the question. Road trip to Charlotte and back in one night a month before album release? OFC, BRB!

This gig at the Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte had a completely different feel. It was packed! Practically every fan knew all the words from the EP songs up to the newest release weeks before the show. Don’t expect many people to be quietly enjoying the music at their shows. Expect to dance, jump, and sing every word at the top of your lungs.

Paul, Jake, and Les released their debut album, LANY, in June of 2017. Are we seeing a pattern for these summer releases? The album is written, produced, and mixed by LANY themselves with a few guest writers, and producers. Aside from the EP favorites, my favorite tracks on this album are “It Was Love,” “13,” “Hericane,” and “The Breakup.”

MALIBU NIGHTS TOUR

This band does not mess around when it comes to releasing new music. Fans barely had enough time to soak up the glory of the first album before they were on to the next. No time to breathe here. Kinda like the lifestyle in L.A. or NY…hmmm… The first heartbreaking single, “Thru These Tears,” was yet another summer release a little over a year later.

The release of their second album, Malibu Nights, brings more summer vibes tunes and a massive world tour. I was shrieking with pride when I saw they were playing at The Ritz, Raleigh! If anyone was prepared for this tour, I am not sure how. Purchasing tickets and arranging travel plans is one thing, but it is an entirely different feeling to experience the pre-show craze of a sold-out gig. Nonexistent queues? More like camping days in advance. Space to stand and dance? Try VIP or upstairs if you’re lucky. Perfect view? Sure, if you plan accordingly. Intimate feel? Still, 100% yes!

LANY, The Ritz, Raleigh, NC.

Although we got there “early” and waited in an insane line, the picture above shows the crowd already packed in when doors opened. Luckily it was early enough for a perfect view from upstairs and room to dance! I was absolutely in awe of their show and how much has changed over the past few years. Every song had endless amounts of energy from the band and the crowd. We even ran into a couple who had also gone to the “Cat’s Cradle Hericane” show in 2016. It was crazy to see the number of people screaming back those same lyrics at a much higher volume. You can count on LANY to make any gig feel intimate yet monumental.

Hericane LANY and their fans are coming at you like a category 5 with no signs of slowing down. Let’s hope it’s the only one we have to look out for this season.

🌹 FOLLOW LANY🌙 

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Listen to their newest release with Julia Michaels here and check out these fan-favorite tracks below!

French-Speaking Artists That Will Leave Everyone Screaming “Encore!”

Music sure is one way to learn a language. It can also motivate learners, spark interest, and create memories that last a lifetime. In the foreign language classroom, I have incorporated French-speaking music artists into my lessons almost daily. Myself and other language teachers in the U.S. have created March Music Madness brackets that feature many talented artists from all over the world.

These songs and artists leave a lasting impression on our audience. In this post, I am going to discuss some current French-speaking artists that have not only been successful in their native country but also inside the walls of my classroom.

STROMAE

It would be impossible to start with any other artist. I cannot even begin to describe how much of a lasting impression this artist has had on the French music scene over the past almost 20 years. He has had the same magnetic hold on me as a French music fan. I am also 100% sure that all of my students past and present know who he is.

Stromae is a Belgian musician of many hats. He is a singer, songwriter, rapper, and the overall definition of what it means to be an artist. If you have seen his music videos or live performances you would likely say that he is a dancer and an actor as well. If you haven’t, I’ll start you off with his most requested song about growing up without a father figure, “Papaoutai.”

Other catchy favorites with deeper meanings include: “Carmen,” “Formidable,” “Alors on danse,” and “Tous les mĂŞmes.” Stromae currently has a fashion label, mosaert, which was sound-tracked to “DĂ©filer” upon its release. French-speaking and non-French-speaking music fans alike (im)patiently await his return to the industry.

CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS

Christine and the Queens, or Chris, is one of the most well-known French-speaking artists of today. I discovered her on BBC Radio 1 in 2014 with her single, “Titled.” She is the best of both worlds because she records all of her songs in both French and English! This song is so catchy. I played it so many times.

When I first started listening to her, her style reminded me of the ’80s. Upon learning more about her, I discovered that some of her influences were Michael Jackson and David Bowie. For whatever reason, her music only seems to resonate with a few of my students, but I’ll keep spinning her albums! It was unfortunate she had to miss her weekend 2 performance at Coachella as I have heard from many that she is an outstanding performer. She sets herself apart from the popular music of today. My favorite track off of her current album, Chris, is “Les yeux mouillĂ©s,” combining both languages in an emotional ballad.

COEUR DE PIRATE

Coeur de Pirate is another fan favorite in the French-speaking music world. I think I discovered her in college because a professor of mine from QuĂ©bec played her music video for our class. Which reminds me! I had a moment of dĂ©jĂ  vu in France two years ago…I walked into a classroom full of French teachers while the same video was playing in the background. The song was “Francis” and it had me hooked ever since.

My students have always loved her, and she seems to release music pretty often. It has been hard to keep the favorites out of the March Music Madness competitions because of their attachment to specific artists. All-time favorite tracks are “Adieu,” “Comme des enfants,” “C’Ă©tait salement romantique,” “Drapeau Blanc,” “Crier tout bas,” and “PrĂ©monition.” Check out her catchy new break-up song, “Ne m’appelle pas.”

TAL

Tal has been referred to many times by my students as “French BeyoncĂ©.” While hardcore Bey fans stay true to their queen, they all agree that she has very catchy songs that stick with them for days. Tal’s song “Le sens de la vie” was the first song that I remember memorizing word for word in French. It is hard to believe that it has been six years since its release. I still share this music video with students every year, and it quickly gets stuck in their heads.

As soon as one of her hits gets played on repeat, it seems she’s out with another. Just as catchy but more English-speaker friendly was “Le temps qu’il faut.” It has a BeyoncĂ© vibe with a powerful message about living in today’s technology-filled society. Her most recent single, “Mondial,” released in support of the French National Team in the 2018 World Cup, went on to win our annual competition. She may be the current French Queen of Pop.

POLO & PAN

Polo & Pan are a duo that everyone at Coachella seemed to rave about; however, I was not previously aware of them. I also unknowingly missed their set due to Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals and The 1975 playing at the same time…

Anyway, I gave them a deeper listen after Coachella to see what the hype was all about. I was also super excited to hear that one of the most notable sets of the weekend came from French-speaking artists! “CanopĂ©e” sounds like a classic chanson française that you could listen to on an exotic island while sipping a Mai Tai. It’s a perfect summer vibe.

“Coeur croisĂ©” has all of the elements of a perfect French song. Remnants of timeless chanson française artists as well as jazz are noticeable throughout the track. Of course, there is the ever prominent modern-day electronic energy. It sounds blissful. I don’t know how they do it. Their videos, however, will have to remain Ă  la maison as they are for mature audiences only.

BIGFLO & OLI

So it seems I’ve saved the duos for last. Bigflo & Oli are a French hip-hop duo that has risen to the top of the charts in the past couple of years. And they are frères (brothers)!

Their song “Dommage” came out at the perfect time for our March competition and won by a landslide. It has such a great message, and the kids spent so much time dissecting the meaning and music video. It taught many lessons. It’s also clearly understood and so fun to memorize! And, guess who co-wrote and co-produced the song? None other than STROMAE.

I personally also enjoy their songs “Je suis,” “Plus tard,” and “Sur la lune.” They have a great way of telling a story, and that is what I appreciate most in songwriting.

Any new French-speaking artists that I should add to my list? I always appreciate recommendations from my francophone friends. Merci !