There’s nothing better than stumbling across a surprise, off-album single from one of your favorite artists. In this particular instance, I heard the smooth sound of SZA‘s Quicksand ring through my TV speakers during the season 2 Finale of Insecure (GREAT show, in case you’re in need of a new one)- and I raced to my phone to Shazam it. SZA’s lyrics are so clearly rooted in personal experience that it’s impossible to not feel a connection to them, and to play them out alongside the heartbreaking love story of Issa and Lawrence!! You can consider me completely hooked.
Check out SZA’s new single below, and if you dig it be sure to check out her debut album, Ctrl, and the Insecure Season 2 Soundtrack.
Far north past the allure of Coachella and the Governor’s Ball lies one of Canada’s hidden gems, WayHome Music and Arts festival. Held the past two summers at Burls Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte, WayHome may not draw as much attention as other festivals, but year after year they still come wielding some of the biggest and most iconic names in music. It was no secret that ticket sales were down for WayHome this year, but as the weekend went on numbers rose as attendees poured in. With past lineups including headliners such as LCD Soundsystem, Neil Young and Kendrick Lamar this year was no disappointment.
Here are the best Performances of WayHome 2017:
From DJ to bonafide producer, Flume has certainly made a name for himself in the music industry. In 2016 we saw his sophomore studio album Skin take home a grammy for best dance/ electronic album and it’s only been up from there. In between producing for Lorde’s Melodrama, dropping Skin Companion EPs and a world tour, Flume has been hot on the festival circuit bringing us new favorites and old classics.
By far the most sultry performance of the weekend came from Banks. Clad in patent leather thigh-high boots and perfectly in sync with two costumed backup dancers, she didn’t miss a beat while belting out hits like Waiting Game and Brain.
Seemingly out of nowhere came Mura Masa and something tells me he’s here to stay. With only one self-titled album he’s already got features from big names like Charli XCX, Desiigner and A$AP Rocky. Mura Masa gave attendees an energetic, late night set on the WayAway stage featuring all his modern pop classics.
One of electronic music’s most iconic duos, Justice is back after what felt like forever with a new album release last year and a world tour alike. Fans who have waited for months or even years for the opportunity to see them were not disappointed when new tracks like Safe & Sound and timeless favorites like Civilization and We Are Your Friends filled the air. Justice gave an incredibly high-powered live set before jumping down from the stage to shake hands and take some selfies with a few lucky fans.
The most intimate set of the weekend, if not the most intimate set ever, was from no other than Frank Ocean. After cancelling several festival performances earlier in the summer due to production delays it was easy to see why it was worth the wait. With a cover of Steve Monite’s Only You and a tour debut of Forrest Gump the entire crowd seemed to relish in each moment. He also strayed from his typical festival setlist when he performed bonafide classics Thinkin’ Bout You and Pyramids. Frank along with his four piece band took to the mic in between songs to remind us that he’s “only human” and sometimes still gets nervous performing for such large crowds.
Chicago’s Empty Bottle is the quintessential venue that you catch a band in before they break out. It’s hot, dim and a little cramped, boasting a roughly 50-50 split between bar area and stage.
It’s also the kind of venue where a band can’t hide behind gimmicks. There’s no room for an elaborate light show or props. Either your music is up to par or the audience is in for a long night. Luckily, from the opening notes of their set it was clear Wet was up to the challenge.
The Brooklyn trio opened with “Deadwater,” the lead single off their long-awaited major label debut Don’t You, due out early next year.
“Deadwater” is one of Wet’s sweetest, warmest records, and it glistened in such an intimate setting. Joe Valle’s electronic drums boomed, serving as the exoskeleton for Marty Sulkow’s gooey, understated guitar.
Wet hasn’t released much music of late, but even the tracks off their 2013 eponymous EP sounded fresh and vibrant. While some synth pop and indie R&B groups get exposed in a live setting, the sheer talent of each of the band’s members was on full display.
Singer Kelly Zutrau shined particularly bright. Her soaring vocals are the band’s keystone, and she proved that she has the gravitas to lead a scintillating performance.
“Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl” was a particular highlight. The song hinges on a sense of vulnerability and honesty that isn’t easy to convey, but Zutrau had the few hundred in attendance swaying in stunned silence.
Fan favorites “You’re the Best” and “No Lie” were equally impressive in their own right.
There wasn’t much in the way of stage banter from Zutrau and co., but that may’ve simply been in keeping with their aesthetic. A band like Wet can afford to let their music speak for itself. The set was crisp and efficient, but you got the undeniable sense the crowd would’ve just as happy to watch them run it back.
Nowadays, there are hundreds of bands out there vying for “next up” status, but Wet’s mesmerizing live show is another reason to consider them a cut above the rest of the SoundCloud darlings you see on your newsfeed.
Not even bolstering winds and seasonal snowfall could deny the party at SnowGlobe last weekend. Despite only being in its fourth year, the 2014 incarnation of the Lake Tahoe music festival drew estimated crowds of 14,000 each day. Locals and out-of-towners were drawn to the EDM-heavy lineup and celebrated the New Year together with fresh powder, scrumptious food vendors, and of course, simply good music.
The festival, which spanned across three stages under the mountainous backdrop of Northern California, gave festival goers a face-melting way to ring in the 2015 to the tune of big and small EDM acts alike. Staples like Skrillex, Zedd, Porter Robinson and Flume were present, as well as up and comers like Bro Safari and Branchez.
Whether you (very sadly) didn’t make it to the festival or simply want to relive it (again and again), we got you covered with the best moments from each day of the musical winter wonderland below. Also, don’t forget to check out our 21-track SnowGlobe playlist for your aural pleasure.
The Best Moments of SnowGlobe Music Festival 2014
by Tia Nguyen
The Entire Bro Safari Set
Before his set even started, there was an obvious sense of energy that rippled through the crowd as the emcee pumped everyone up for the long night ahead. The tightly packed Sierra Tent waited in anticipation for Bro Safari to emerge, and the dedicated group of fans that trekked through the cold to see his performance didn’t come in vain. His killer set gave everyone a taste of the electric vibes that the rest of the night and the next few days would bring.
Disclosure’s Performance of ‘Latch’
With Disclosure’s addictively rhythmic tunes, the crowd found itself swaying along to every beat of the electronic duo’s tempo. But it was clear that everyone was eagerly awaiting ‘Latch’ as their closing song. Disclosure effortlessly united the crowd as everyone joined the two brothers to sing harmony, making the song easily one of the most unforgettable moments of the night.
The Energy During Skrillex’s Set
As Skrillex rounded out the end of the night, it seemed the crowd was ready to finish in high spirits, creating an atmosphere so full of energy that the frigid temperatures were completely forgotten. In fact, Skrillex’s own performance, complete with headbanging and climbing on DJ stands, had the sea of people in beanies and animal hats jumping around and feeding off of his excitement.
Odesza in the Sierra Tent
By the end of the night, the combination of heavy winds and the biting cold had many festivalgoers fleeing to the Sierra Tent for some much-needed warmth and the melodic rhythms that Odesza delivers. The duo’s electronic-pop fusions created an ambiance perfect for the end to SnowGlobe’s second night with a balance between smooth instrumentals and upbeat vocal tracks.
Porter Robinson Ditches the DJ Set
The 10 degree weather did not stop the die-hard Porter fans from coming to the Main Stage. Freezing winds pierced the many layers of hundreds of festival goers, but when Porter Robinson opened his set with Sad Machine, all was forgotten. His live performance at SnowGlobe was refreshing in the midst of all the DJ sets and constant rhythms, leaving the crowd in a trance with soundscapes unlike any of the other music on this year’s lineup.
The Entire Zedd Set
Zedd may have taken the crown as the best set of the entire festival. The light show alone was awesome enough to make his set one of SnowGlobe’s top moments. But what made his performance even better was how interactive he was with the crowd, getting everybody even more pumped than they already were for ringing in the New Year. Remix after remix of popular songs had the entire audience feeling ecstatic.
What So Not Brings the Heat
Typically after popular sets in the Sierra Tent, the crowd took in their last moments of warmth and ventured out into the more prominent outdoor stages. But What So Not delivered an unforgettable performance of his own. With songs like “You and Me” and “High You Are,” he kept the crowd energized the entire set and ready to go for Flume’s big finale on the Main Stage.
Flume’s ‘You + Me’ at Midnight
2014 saw the year of Flume’s rise as one of electronic music’s biggest names, and with the midnight slot on New Years Eve, he attracted the biggest crowd of the entire festival. ‘Insane,’ ‘On Top,’ and ‘Drop the Game’ as the first few songs were only the buildup to Flume’s epic midnight countdown, which was appropriately followed by a remix of his biggest hit “You + Me,” an epic fireworks show, and New Year’s kisses all around. There was no better way to welcome 2015 than with Flume.
I’ve had several times in my life when I’ve felt lost and looked for any reason to get away from the fast-paced world. One of these times came as I was starting college and realizing I was entering what was going to be the time of my life, but I didn’t want to lose sight of reality around the rest of the world. I wasn’t sure what kind of impact I could have, but I owed it to myself and to the world not to be ignorant. So I dedicated my college years to studying Human Rights and did my study abroad in Kenya. It was an experience that opened my eyes to bigger things in life than some of my other passions like technology and sports. I learned that when resources are scarce (which they always were, particularly in the rural areas I was living and studying in), the focus doesn’t need to be on what we don’t have, but making the most of what we do have. Things like human relationships, trust and care took on a whole new meaning for me. Today, six years later, I find myself working in technology sales, but I never lose sight of what I learned, and truth be told, I often find myself feeling lost and itching to get away again.
Seattle hip-hop artist Sol had a similar revelation a bit over a year ago when he put music on hold for a chance to travel around the world and learn more about himself and life. While it was likely upsetting to his fans to see him drop music like it was nothing, I got it. And though part of me wondered if he’d be able to pick up rapping again after seeing reality in countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, Haiti and India, I believed deep down that he would use the experience to tell a better story in his music. And that’s exactly what happened.
Sol didn’t always impress me with his storytelling skills in the past, but today’s release of Sol’s Open Eyes EP is a whole new story. Songs like “Old Him” are a genuine representation of what Sol learned and provide a refreshing perspective on the rest of the world, not just the extravagant one we tend to hear about through hip-hop today. Sol raps: “My belly’s empty, and not because it’s Ramadan/ I simply lost my appetite seeing children starve/ And that’s what’s really hard/ Not your silly bars/ Not your grill, not your cars, not the pills you pop.” Suddenly Sol has a story to tell that’s so real, and it may not quite resonate with everybody right off the bat, but to me it’s an opportunity for Sol to enlighten his listeners on bigger things in life. This EP is Sol’s first step, and he’s got an open lane ahead of him that not enough artists are riding in right now.
There are still songs on the EP like “Jump In,” which still show a bit of the old Sol; it’s poppy, it doesn’t carry too deep a message with it, but it’s still fun to listen to. It’s one of those tracks I turn on every time I want to bounce around a little, and frankly, I appreciate that Sol included a track like that (and bonus track “Dope”) on the collection, because it helps him appear more human than if had he only included serious tracks with preachy messages that might be distant for some of his fanbase or potential fans.
Altogether, I think Sol has taken a leap forward in his career. It goes to show that taking time off, slowing down, and getting one’s bearings doesn’t have to be seen as a pause or a step backward…if done well, it can be a huge step forward. It has helped me tremendously in life, and I think this EP is proof that it has absolutely helped Sol. It helped him craft a new sound, deliver a new message, and gain perspective on life. Sol describes it best in a letter that went out to his fans and promoters today. Hit the jump for the full EP stream and to read the letter from Sol.
After hearing the single “Pressure,” I knew Until The Ribbon Breaks was onto something special. Until The Ribbon Breaks is the moniker for the UK-based R&B-meets-electronic singer and producer Pete Lawrie Winfield. It’s hard to find artists to compare him to, but if I was forced to, I would pick names like James Blake, Jamie Woon, or Fryars. While originally sucked in by the breathy, stark, often-layered vocals of Winfield, I’ve since fallen hard for the complete spectrum of Winfield’s talents, which includes a strong mastery of production.
Today marks the release of the debut EP for Winfield as Until The Ribbon Breaks; A Taste of Silver is a 5-track EP containing tracks called “2025,” “Perspective (ft. Homeboy Sandman),” “Romeo,” “Pressure,” and “Back To The Stars.” After a handful of full listens, “Pressure” remains the highlight for me of the artist’s debut EP, but the compilation as a whole is breathtaking. Another standout track for me was third track “Romeo.” A quiet song that starts with some highly-produced clips of vocals and instrumentals and then funnels into Until The Ribbon Breaks’s whispery and dual-toned vocals, the song maintains an element of intrigue throughout. UTRB mastered the mysterious storytelling vibe and alluring vocal patterns in a way I hear few others doing today. Somehow if my mind wandered in an attempt to relate Winfield’s stories to my own world, the focal point remains Winfield’s music when he sings “You see I would have killed Romeo/ And saved Juliet/ But I don’t write stories/ That time wont forget/ So wont you pass me the kerosene/ Let’s burn to the ground/ You’ve been looking for meaning/ Did you like what you found?” I’m hooked on those words.
A major drawing point for me is that Until The Ribbon Breaks has a way of taking a song from one sound and turning it into something completely different unexpectedly. It’s a beautiful act that you can hear best in the first minute of “Pressure.” In the same song, UTRB takes a heavy bass and drum machine patterns to the track, and also slides into a sweet sound of semi-muted piano paired with his hushed vocals singing “maybe in another life/ maybe in another life/ if we get another life/ maybe in that life/ I could learn to love you.” The change-ups are both shocking and comforting, particularly when you come full circle to the softer sections.
Throughout this EP, Until The Ribbon Breaks manages to flex both his vocal and production muscles, but while I first paid most attention to the sexy vocals of Until The Ribbon Breaks until this point, it’s worth paying close attention to the genius behind Winfield’s music production. Listen closely on tracks like “Romeo” and “Pressure” — there is a stunning blend of electronic noises, raw drum builds, and simple piano melodies that marry the vocals perfectly. The one downfall for me, and where my attention wandered the most during my listens, was on the second track, “Perspective.” To me, this track didn’t fit in with the rest of the collection. I appreciated that Homeboy Sandman was featured on the track, particularly as it seems the two artists have strong opinions on the cultural state of the world and have expressed them through their music, but the sonic qualities of “Perspective” just didn’t fall in line with the beauty of the rest of the EP for me.
And what’s most, for me, is the path the short EP takes. It starts with “2025,” which is a dark track focusing on societal misfortunes, opening with the lyrics “I was born with my back to the stars,” but shedding light on human pretension, loneliness as the new normal, and even online dating. It winds through Winfield’s mind and stories, and ends with “Back To The Stars” which also starts with the lyrics “I was born with my back to the stars,” but this time around Winfield tells of another who has touched him so, by singing “and you, what have you done for me?/ you’ve opened up my eyes/ you’ve opened up my eyes.” Without knowing much of a backstory, it leads me to imagine that it’s an uplifting tale of a man at his lows who finds love in a dark place. In an age where it’s hard to listen to a compilation from front to back and feel any sort of completeness or satisfaction, Until The Ribbon Breaks has brought back a mysterious storytelling component to not just songwriting, but album-writing (or in this instance, EP-writing). Something tells me this is just the beginning of a long and healthy career for Winfield as Until The Ribbon Breaks. With an incredible release of A Taste of Silver and tour dates with rising star Lorde, the future is bright for this artist.
Lollapalooza’s Sunday (and final day) was the most comfortable I’ve ever been at a music festival. Honestly, like, there were times I wouldn’t have minded a fashionable cardigan to don with the brisk breeze from Lake Michigan blowing in. The atmosphere was the perfect cool down to a high energy weekend.
Something interesting that I noticed during Day Three’s activities was a slight difference in the crowd age. Lolla tends to be packed full of teens since it’s so accessible and relatively cheap, but Sunday saw a much more mature crowd showing. Of course, the festival organizers had planned this when they booked 80s English rock band The Cure. Smooth move Lolla. And in all honesty, it’s a refreshing thing when anybody from ages 16 to 40-something can enjoy and share the same music festival.
–Alt-J: This was the second time I got to catch the English indie rockers, who are often dubbed the new Radiohead, and one thing I can applaud them for is their consistency. Alt-J is a band with a very dynamic sound, and every high and low from their album was translated to a T on the stage. Of course, “Breezeblocks” and “Fitzpleasure” were crowd favorites, but the triangle lovers even debuted some unheard sounds which was a thrill.
–Dogblood: Say what you will about Perry’s Stage, but when you’re there, you’re having a fucking awesome time. Yeah, it’s a huge fist-pumping, brofest coupled with skimpy-dressed raverchicks, but it’s one of the better stages on the whole grounds. Flashing lights, jumbotrons in the middle of the crowd, and the sound is crisp and deafening. Perfect. Oh, and not to mention the peanut butter and chocolate combo of Skrillex and Boyz Noize that actually sound different in a world full of cookie cutter EDM artists.
–Phoenix: These guys are consummate pros. Sometimes, I really didn’t know whether or not I believed the sounds I was hearing. Like, was I just listening to Thomas Mars’ iTunes playlist or were they actually performing? They’re that good. Their set also brought one of the coolest moments of the weekend, with Mars dashing out to the center sound stage to rock out in the middle of the crowd with the band raging on in the background. Then, he crowd surfed all the way back to the stage in a a rioting climax of drums, riffs and lights. Bravo.
Peep the video highlights of Sunday below, and definitely listen to the five-song highlight playlist I put together to recap the third and final day of another great Lollapalooza.
Saturday always serves as a de facto climax of sorts for Lollapalooza. Friday is full of fashionably late goers with many working earlier in the day (myself included), and Sunday is significantly more relaxed with Monday looming around the corner. So, Day Two is always packed and popping with people ready to go balls to the wall (also myself included).
-Ellie Goulding played a fully stocked 5 o’clock set that could of easily been a headliner. Her wispy, seductive vocals carried through the crowd, but her talents seemed boundless as she picked up a guitar and even a pair of drumsticks during her hour-long set. A true musician, through and through and not to mention humble. Multiple times Ellie stopped herself, presumably taken aback by the crowd and dizzied in the moment.
-Just an hour after Ms. Goulding, Compton-native Kendrick Lamar took the same stage to a massive gathering gearing up for a Good Kid, M.A.A.D city medley. Kendrick is easily one of the most hype and polished performers in the rap realm right now. K-dot glided through each of his tracks with ease and CDQ bravado, from a raw “Backseat Freestyle” to a climatic “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”. But, even Kendrick couldn’t ignore probably the most unique moment of the entire festival weekend: a man being crowd surfed, in a wheelchair, across the sea of fans to the front of the stage. The show legit stopped for what seemed like a full two minutes, with Kendrick applauding the spectacle (“this is gonna be on the Internet”).
-The most momentous main stage headliner had to be The Postal Service. TPS’ career was short and sweet, only really active for a few years in the early 2000s, but they always sort of served as an indiepop ambassador. They absolutely killed their set with fervor and a genuineness that made things seem very melancholy, with their tour acting simultaneously as a reunion and a goodbye.
Check out video highlights from Saturday below, and be sure to check out the five-song playlist featuring some of the day’s best sets.
About a week ago Chance The Rapper released his much-anticipated sophomore mixtape Acid Rap. The album quickly became, perhaps, the one project the entire Internet seemed to agree on. Now, we have gathered (I imagine Lydia with a conch shell calling us to do these reviews) on Google Hangout to give our very #important input. Who do you agree with most? What did you think about Acid Rap?
Related: Kid Cudi – Indicud [IRL* Review]
*IRL means “in real life”–if you didn’t know
Big artists make big albums with big expectations. The hype surrounding last week’s release of Kid Cudi‘s Indicud was virtually insurmountable. Watch our review below to find out if we thought the album lived up to the hype or failed to impress.
Hoodie Allen‘s crew has just released their Cruisin USA Tour video, Episode 3, which is perfect timing, because I was just starting to get my thoughts together for a live review of Hoodie’s show at San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom last Friday night (March 22). The video is a perfect precursor for my thoughts about the show. Hit the jump to see the video (directed by Jay O’Byrne), and before that, you can see a picture of me and Hoodie, a shot of his performance from backstage, and a bullet-pointed overview of Hoodie’s live show.
- The crew goes out and has fun every…single…night. They go hard, which says a lot for a team that’s performing night after night with little rest in between. To give you an idea, I was hanging out with them the night of the show and some said they were going out afterwards, but they needed to be back at the bus by 3AM sharp to start the trip from SF down to Southern California for their show the next night.
- The drummer, Jimmy Kadesch, is a boss. The kid broke his foot while stage diving and had to get metal screws drilled into it. Few hours later, he was back on the drums in high spirits. Honestly, the last time I saw Hoodie perform, it was just Hoodie and his producer RJF, and the energy that comes from having a full live band (drummer, guitarist, keyboardist, and Hoodie) brings a whole new element to the show. From the moment I stepped back stage while Aer was still performing, Jimmy was sitting on the futon beating his drum sticks to whatever beat he came up with in his head. When he hopped onto stage (literally hopped on one foot), he gave it everything he had. This kid can fucking drum.
- Hoodie brought his all. If you can’t tell from this video, the energy at the shows is out the roof. He’s got a lot to feed off of, as the room was packed, and there were lots of young fans, who somehow seem able to bring more energy than grumpy old people like me (though I was having a fucking blast). Bras were thrown onto the stage, girls were jumping around tirelessly, hoping for their turn to touch Hoodie’s hand from the stage. Hoodie reflected that energy during his performance and kept the crowd excited for the entirety of his show.
- I’ll be honest: I didn’t like “Cake Boy” when I first heard it, and still today it doesn’t do too much for me. But having seen one of Hoodie’s shows, I now understand the need for that song on Crew Cuts. Part of the presentation when Hoodie performs the song is that a team brings out Hoodie Allen cakes and launches them into the crowd. It’s a hit. And when Hoodie starts rapping the super quick rhymes, the crowd goes nuts. It’s energetic, catchy, and a big hit with the crowd.
Overall, this Cruisin USA Tour is a huge win. It’s only going to propel Hoodie’s career even further toward huge success, if he isn’t already at that point. The fact that he remains grounded through it all by things like greeting the crowds and taking pictures with the first in line and posting them to his Instagram (@HoodieAllen), he speaks to the crowd throughout the performance, and he follows up after the show with tweets, Facebook shout outs, and videos like this that document the tour are almost unparalleled in this industry. It’s pretty cool to witness, and I was flattered to be a part of Hoodie’s crew experiencing the energy first-hand this past Friday in San Francisco.
Okay, this is cool. The Sunset fam is proud to announce the very first IRL Review via Google Hangout on Justin Timberlake‘s The 20/20 Experience. Stream it LIVE below.