Viewing entries in

1 Comment

Barb Rocks' Best of 2017


I know I'm behind on this as most blogs have already released their best of lists, but it's better late than never!

2017 was a big year of music for me.  A few of my favorite artists/bands released wonderful albums, plus there were many songs that touched my soul in one way or another.  Here's my Best of 2017 list, comprised of a few albums and some songs that ended up on repeat a lot, all with some commentary on why I selected each one.  The list could be longer, but I forced myself to keep it somewhat short as I know attention spans don't last long for such things.

Lorde - Melodrama
I've loved Ella Yelich-O'Connor since the first time I heard "Royals" via some small music blog, which was a good six months before the hit made it onto radio and propelled her into stardom.  Her debut album "Pure Heroin" was a breath a fresh air for me, something different from the mainstream Max Martin influenced pop that we hear daily, and "Melodrama" touched me just as deeply.  Each song adds it's own story to the house party concept album, with some raw emotions of a love lost and dealing with ones own reflection and pain.  I love the nostalgic feeling of "Supercut" and "Hard Feelings" really cut me deep, though I'm pretty sure I was already smitten when I heard "Green Light."

The War On Drugs - A Deeper Understanding
What a great follow up to "Lost In The Dream," which was my favorite album back in 2014.  This band just strikes a chord in me with their melodic shoegaze sound.  Perfect album to play in the background during a dinner party or while enjoying a fire pit with friends.  What a joy to see them in the Coachella 2018 line-up!

HAIM - Something To Tell You
One can't help to love the sisters HAIM with their harmonies and chick rock lyrics of love and life that I can relate to.  "Right Now" and "Want You Back" are stand-out tracks that had me yearning to hear the whole album, plus their set at the Fox Theater in Oakland (despite Danielle being sick) was an unforgettable night that tops my concert list for 2017.

Greta Van Fleet - From The Fires
If you haven't heard of this young Michigan band yet, then you better get schooled because their Led Zeppelin-era sound is taking over the airwaves.  I was lucky enough to be introduced to their 4-song EP "Black Smoke Rising" by a good friend of mine last summer and I was instantly hooked by their classic rock hooks and lead singer Josh Kiszka's wailing howl, which is very reminiscent of Robert Plant and would surely make him proud.  Composed of three brothers and a good friend, these 18-21 year olds are sure to become your next favorite rock band.

Halsey - Now Or Never
Oh how I love Halsey, let me count the ways.  She's just amazing with a sultry voice and heartfelt lyrics, plus add in that she's absolutely gorgeous.  I was so skeptical of her back when "New Americana" came out, but then I saw her live and was blown away, leading me to download "Badlands" and loving that album.  When I heard "Now or Never" last year, I was once again reminded how much I adore her and it became one of my go-to songs.  Maybe I should put the whole "Hopeless Fountain Kingdom" album on this list...

Banks - Underdog
When I heard that growling bark in the first verse, I was instantly hooked.  There's just something fierce and full of angst that resonates with me in this new single from the talented Los Angeles R&B pop singer.  I hope this tune brings in a new era of Banks, as I much prefer the fiery upbeat songs over the ballads.

Arcade Fire - Everything Now
This song combines a few of my favorite things: ABBA, Simple Minds, ABC, INXS, Tom Tom Club, and the Never Ending Story theme.  I love the 70's disco overtones with 80's New Wave undertones -- you can't help but dance to this catchy tune.  I was also a big fan of their live show; their whole branding was spot on with a boxing ring stage the band moved freely around on, providing that 360 feel for everyone in the arena.

Yoke Lore - Good Pain
Not many people know that Adrian Galvin used to drum for Walk The Moon, but he left the band due to artistic differences.  Last year he carved his own mark with some great singles & an EP, including this one that tops my list.  I have a feeling this is only the beginning of a fruitful musical endeavor as he continues to tell stories about how things are connected.  If you're wondering about the name, it's based on a yoke that binds things together, and lore, which is a set of stories.

Gryffin, Illenium, Daya - Feel Good
My favorite electro-pop song of the year, probably because I bonded with my camping neighbors at Coachella over it, which we experienced live in the Sahara tent.  Been a fan of Gryffin since I heard "Heading Home" in 2016 and I'm hoping he'll continually surprise me with good electronic tunes and remixes.  This song also introduced me to Illenium, who's album "Awake" is also worth a listen.

Alan Walker - The Spectre
My other favorite DJ, Alan Walker took my heart with his debut song "Faded" back in 2015, and again in 2016 with "Sing Me To Sleep" and "Alone."  2017 brings this Norwegian DJ to the forefront of the EDM scene, leading to a Coachella 2018 booking, which pleases me beyond my wildest electronic dreams.  Did you know that in early 2017, Walker's YouTube channel became the most subscribed channel registered in Norway?  And he's only 20 years old!

Imagine Dragons - Mouth Of The River
Let's be honest, Imagine Dragons haven't nailed a full album since their debut "Night Visions" even though I'll say that "Evolve" did surpass "Smoke + Mirrors" by far.  Despite that, this song really impacted me and ended up on repeat enough to make this list.  Maybe it's the choir-like feel of the chorus, or maybe it's that hard-hitting drum beat that syncs well with my heart.  Let's just say I sing out loud every time I hear it, especially  the part where Dan Reynolds chants "I'm pacing, and I'm pacing."

Walk The Moon - One Foot
Let's just call it my guilty pleasure, because this song just makes me smile and wanna dance.  From Nicholas Petricca's opening howls to the 80's synth pop feel of the music, it's one of those catchy earworms that gets stuck in your head for the rest of the day.  I often catch myself humming and singing the lyrics, all while remembering those high schools days dancing around my house to Duran Duran.  Even the video captures it's wild and upbeat feel that just radiates positivity.

K.Flay - Blood In The Cut
My girl Kristine has come so far since her Stanford days!  I'm just so proud to see an artist I've known since she first came out in the San Francisco Bay Area music scene make it big.  Getting signed to Dan Reynolds' Night Street Records and opening for his band on their Evolve Tour was just what she needed to thrust her into the spotlight and earn her a Grammy nomination.  Having suffered my own heart-break at the beginning of 2017, her lyrics really hit the spot, especially "lately, I’ve been killing all my time, reading through your messages my favorite way to die."

Planet Booty - Naked
Yes Planet Booty is on my management roster, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm being biased here.  "Naked" is simply a great dance song with lyrics that make you smile.  You can't help but shake your booty when you hear it and I'm sure many have added this to their bedroom playlist for getting it on.  Every person that experiences this bootylicious trio's high energy live performance walks away in awe and sweat.  Trust me, this electro-funk band will someday hit mainstream radio and you'll remember you heard it here first.

1 Comment


Best of 2014 List

Last year I posted my Top Five Albums of 2013, so this year I decided to do my favorite songs of 2014, plus my favorite concert experience.

Let's start with my Favorite Concert of 2014 as that's short and sweet.  I saw Twenty One Pilots for the third time this year, this time at the Fox Theater in Oakland.  As always, this eccentric and entertaining alternative hip hop/electropop duo blew me away!  Tyler Joseph and Josh Dunn really know how to get an audience pumping, and with each show they keep raising the bar, adding more tricks, throwing in some interesting cover songs, and growing their showmanship.  It's incredible to see how much traction they've achieved and that their underground following is growing exponentially!  The venue was packed and I was brimming with happiness as I sang along and watched the high energy madness ensue.  The only downside was that I wasn't up front at the stage as I was last year at The Independent, which definitely adds to the connection with the band.  Last year I was holding Tyler up as he came into the audience, as well as during the drum-off encore, and those two moments were exhilarating and missing from this year's show.  Here's my favorite shot from the show:

 Favorite Concert of 2014 Runners Up:
1) Carnivores Tour with Linkin Park, 30 Seconds To Mars, AFI at Concord Pavilion
2) Foxy Shazam at Slim's

Top Five Favorite Songs of 2014

This year has been a great year musically for me!  I love so many bands that released songs this year, as well as learning about bands through my Pandora station.  Some notable mentions are The Jezabels, Haerts, Young Wonder, The New Division, The Knife, Zella Day, Depford Goth, Washed Out, Kitten, and Warpaint.

10) Augustines - "Nothing To Lose But Your Head"

I've been a fan of Augustines since their debut album while they were still known as We Are Augustines.  I was hooked the first time I heard "Chapel Song" and discovered this rockin' band.  I've seen them live a few times now, including this past summer at The Independent.  The new album Augustines is a bit harder than their debut, but I like it, especially this song!


9) Glass Animals - "Gooey"

UK indie rockers Glass Animals came to me by accident.  I don't actually remember the first time I heard "Gooey" but I'll assume it was probably on Live 105's Soundcheck program.  It was one of those songs that creeps up on you, you're intrigued at first listen, and then all of a sudden you're hooked.  It's different, it's soothing, it's unusual, it's haunting, and it's relaxing, all at the same time.  Seeing them perform live at DNA Lounge in December was a treat; they really delivered live.


8) Semi Precious Weapons - "Aviation High"

I first heard of Semi Precious Weapons when they opened for Lady Gaga on her Monster Ball tour.  I remember being amused by them, but nothing really stood out.  Then I heard "Aviation High" and I fell in love with the song instantly.  The lyrics are sexy, the song is flirty, and the melody makes you move.  All qualities I enjoy in songs.  I ended up meeting the band at Live 105's BFD after their set; they were just hanging out in the crowd watching the next band, so I approached the lead singer and told him how I love this song, especially how kinky it is, and Justin said that he meant for it to come across that way.  Then we took a selfie together.  Very cool, I respect any band that hangs out with the commoners at a show.


7) Goldroom - "Embrace"

Because I had not yet heard of Goldroom, I missed his headlining set at SXSW in The Green Room.  But then The Beautiful Buzzz used this song as the background tune in their SXSW recap video and I instantly knew I had to download it.  I love the ethereal quality to the song, plus the singers voice suits the melody excellently, especially in the chorus.  I've since downloaded the whole EP and thoroughly enjoy all five songs.  I also recommend you check out the single "Fifteen," which brought him his initial success with the top spot on the Hype Machine charts.


6) Phantogram - "Black Out Days"

NY electronic duo Phantogram is just phenomenal.  I love pretty much everything by them.  If you haven't downloaded Voices yet, it's a must-have!  Not only does it feature the first single "Fall In Love" that drew people in and blew up so quickly that everyone was eager for the full album, but it also features 10 other amazing songs, including this hard-hitting jewel.  There's something beautiful and haunting about the song, the triggers deep in my soul.  I don't think I'll ever get sick of this song.


5) Broods - "Mother & Father"

New Zealand siblings Broods were one of those accidental discoveries.  I heard "Bridges" and enjoyed it so much that I downloaded their whole first EP Evergreen without even listening to it first.  I never regretted that decision and was happy to see they finally released their full-length self-titled album, produced by Joel Little, known for his work with Lorde.  "Mother & Father" is their best work so far and I'm excited to hear what else this band will deliver in the future. 


4) Banks - "Beggin For Thread"

I first heard of LA singer/songwriter Jillian Rose Banks in 2013 when she released "Waiting Game."  I was instantly drawn in by her haunting vocals and lyrics.  I heard the melodic songs "Brain" and "Change" in early 2014, which also struck my fancy.  Then I heard "Beggin For Thread" and I was blown away -- what a powerful and beautiful song!  It's such a hard-hitting dance song with angst-ridden lyrics any female can relate to.  Plus we all wanted to know why anyone would want to beg for thread, and then you hear why and it strikes a chord, deep down inside. The bridge is my favorite part: "hold it out, whoa, try to hide it out, but my tracks are better" -- it just hits you like a punch!  I should add that I really enjoyed her performance at Treasure Island Music Festival.


3) CHVRCHES - "Dead Air"

I've been a fan of CHVRCHES since their Recover EP, and all I can say is that "Dead Air" is their best song to date.  I thoroughly enjoyed their set at Coachella, probably one of my highlights of the festival, and to hear them release such a perfectly composed song like this just made me incredibly happy.  Not only is it perfect for the Mockingjay movie, but it just proves that these Scotts are improving musically exponentially.  If this song is any indication of what we can expect from them in the future, then we are in for a treat.  Trust me.


2) Lorde - "Yellow Flicker Beat"

What can I say about Ella Yelich-O'Connor that you haven't already heard?  Lorde is the voice of this generation and she's the force to reckon with these days.  I probably heard "Royals" about 6 months before most people, all due to a small blog I read.  That was before anyone knew what she looked like, we only knew she was 16 years old.  That song became my anthem and I posted about it on my Facebook to deaf ears.  Then the song blew up, and I mean really blew up!  For once the music industry was rocked by an unknown teen from New Zealand, with her unique sound that didn't conform to the the standard songs shoved down our throats by terrestrial radio.  It's artists like Lorde that gain international stardom organically that give me hope in the music business.  By 18, not only did she release 2013 acclaimed album Pure Heroine and won some Grammy's, but she's asked to put together a whole soundtrack for the third installment of the box office smash "Hunger Games" movies.  Not only does she rise to the challenge delivering a phenomenal assortment of songs, including my #3 song above, but she also writes an incredible hit song!  "Yellow Flicker Beat" is a beautifully written gem -- it's the perfect anthem for this trilogy that captures the essence of Katniss flawlessly.  All I can say is that Lorde continues to amaze me and I look forward to what she has in store for us next.


1) The War On Drugs - "Red Eyes"

I struggled a bit in choosing "Red Eyes" by The War On Drugs as my #1 song.  Not because it doesn't doesn't deserve it, it really does, but more because I'm such an electro-pop junkie that it seems more like me to choose Lorde instead.  But The War on Drugs album Lost In A Dream made such a huge impact on me this year that they deserve top honors.  It's seriously an amazing work of art that has been on repeat so much that my best friend Eric requested me to take a break before we got sick of it (like that's even possible!).  "Red Eyes" is a gorgeously composed song from beginning to end; it's upbeat with a hint of melancholy, with a driving beat that takes you for an exciting ride.  It's a beautiful journey that I enjoy taking as often as possible.  Every substantial music blog has listed this album high up in their best of 2014, and that alone should tell you that it's worth the buzz.

I can't wait to see what 2015 brings, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoyed my songs.  Would love to hear what you have on your list, so let me know!



My #UnforgettableGig

Being the music junkie that I am, I go to a lot of shows, mostly considering I book shows and manage bands as a side business.  I could tell you about the first concert I ever went to, which was Neil Diamond with my Mom when I was 12 and how amazing that experience was, but it wasn't the most life changing experience.  I wasn't really aware of what music meant to me at that age.  It wasn't until I was older that I realized how vivid music was in my life and that it burned deep in my soul, impacting me in ways I never knew.

Obviously U2 was one of the first bands that brought me to that new level of appreciation of music.  I remember listening to "Unforgettable Fire" and "War" over and over again in the early 80's; "Bad" will probably be my favorite song of all time until I die!  By the time "Joshua Tree" came out in 1987, U2 was my favorite band and they've kept that status ever since.

I didn't see U2 live until the early 90's when they went big with their Zoo TV tour.  I was in college at that time attending University of Colorado at Boulder, so I saw them in Denver with my college best friend Lisa, also a huge U2 fan.  We were both members of Propaganda, so we got our tickets early and were close to the stage.  That was the first time I was blown away by a band; it was such a wonderful show with so many props and such high energy.  I had never seen a frontman demand your attention like Bono does, it's almost like a religious experience the way he draws you in and preaches to your soul!  I have seen every U2 tour since then, most of the time up close due to early presales and waiting at venues all day, and the band never disappoints.  I was even at the historic Rose Bowl show for U2 360° Tour, which was the largest attended concert I've ever been to.

My favorite time was probably when I got into the heart for Elevation Tour, enjoying the show from right up front against the railing -- making eye contact and seeing everything so close was unbelievable!  The girl next to me was selected to get on stage and dance with Bono during "Mysterious Ways" and I will admit, I was a bit jealous (too bad Bono doesn't like blondes lol).  I had the pleasure of meeting Bono and The Edge when they were in San Jose, CA, for the U2 Special Edition iPod launch with Apple.  Bono was so gracious and sweet when I told him I've been a life-long fan, cupping my hand in both of his the whole time we talked.  The Edge was also very sweet, though so soft spoken and shy I almost couldn't hear him.  Meeting your idols is such a surreal experience, there's something magical and unforgettable about that moment.  To this day I regret not taking a picture with them. *sigh*

Despite my many amazing U2 experiences, the moment I've been most inspired by a band and their live show has actually been more recent and by a band not as well known called Foxy Shazam.  I was told about Foxy Shazam by chance by a local musician and was instantly curious when I saw their video for "Oh Lord."  They're like a cross between Queen and The Darkness with a bit more R&B soul flavor to them.  I happened to attend SXSW in March 2012 and while hanging out in a small dive bar venue called Rusty's, I see the lead singer walk by me.  It was one of those double-take moments because you're not sure you really saw what you did.  But there he was, and there was the rest of Foxy Shazam, just hanging out at the bar.  Turns out they were playing next and all I can tell you is that after seeing Foxy Shazam live, no band has ever compared with the absolute craziness that ensues on stage during their set!

Sky, Shannon, Pablo & me

Sky, Shannon, Pablo & me

The on-stage chemistry between lead singer Eric Nally, guitarist Loren Turner, pianist Sky White, bass player Daisy, trumpeter and back-up vocalist Alex Nauth, and drummer Aaron McVeigh is electric, plus the way they integrate with the audience is mind-blowing to watch.  Sky literally jumps on and over his keyboard to get closer to the audience, making the most ridiculous and fun faces that it's hard to keep your eyes off him.  Alex and Eric have these interesting choreographed routines, they even slide between each other legs, all while hitting high notes, then dancing and running around, it's almost exhausting to watch.  At one point, Eric jumped onto Loren's shoulders, who just hangs his head down and doesn't miss one note on his guitar, then while sitting up there comfortably, Eric asked the audience to give him cigarettes, proceeds to stuff about 10 of them in his mouth, lights them all up with a lighter thrown to him, takes two drags, takes them all with one hand and puts them out on his tongue, chews them up and spits them out, then dives right into some faced-paced lyrics and the audience is just going crazy!! When you think it can't get any crazier, Daisy decides to swing the rafters, hanging on with one hand, playing his bass with the other.  There was more, but I honestly can't remember because I was so caught up in the moment, my eyes and ears constantly bombarded with stimuli.  I walked away from that show in awe and joy; I had never seen anything like it.  It was insanity, it was exhilarating, and it left the biggest impression ever.  Seeing them at such a small venue in such close proximity just made the whole experience more intimate, more satisfying.

Pablo, Shannon, me & Alex

Pablo, Shannon, me & Alex

Since that SXSW trip, I've introduced everyone I possibly could to Foxy Shazam.  I've brought various friends to their shows and each of them have walked away with that same love and awe for the band as me.  I saw Foxy Shazam at Slim's in San Francisco back in August and as always, they didn't disappoint.  They are even better and crazier now and that show was just as exhilarating as the one in Austin.  The best part.....we got to go back stage after and hang out with the band!!  Thanks to my friend Brandon who knows drummer Aaron from his younger days, we got introduced and they invited us to stay after the show.  What an absolutely amazing time, talking to really down-to-earth musicians who appreciate what they do and their fans!  Alex (my favorite) was super friendly and sweet, Sky has this huge personality and so much fun to listen to, and Eric with his soft-spoken voice is just too adorable, mostly when he was learning how to whistle from my friend Pablo.  I will never forget how genuinely inviting the band was, wanting to get to know us and include us.

Me, Eric, Pablo & Shannon

Me, Eric, Pablo & Shannon

Seeing a band surprise me with their stage presence and drawing me in so deeply that I can't get enough of them is rare, and Foxy Shazam did just that.  It's the closest I've ever come to experiencing that same feeling I did the first time I saw U2.  I was mesmerized then by U2, I am mesmerized now by Foxy Shazam.  These two bands are the ones that make me appreciate music and a live performance more than any other band, and they are the reason that I work with bands that I believe in, that I hope impact others the way that I've been impacted.  Music truly is the meaning of life to me, and there is always a song that comes to mind behind every emotion I've experienced.



My Love For Australian Pop-Rockers The Jezabels

The first time I heard "Catch Me" by The Jezabels I was hooked!  This Australian 4-piece captured my heart with sultry vocals and pop-influenced melodies.  "A Little Piece" (off their EP Dark Storm) was the next song I discovered, based on a recommendation from a Turntable app user, which may be my favorite track due to it's climactic build-up.  Shortly after these two treasured revelations, I downloaded their debut studio album Prisoner and became the ultimate fan.

Last year The Wild Honey Pie posted about this lovely band, featuring two videos of their Buzzsession performances that I encourage you to watch.  Not only is Hayley Mary's voice perfection in each song, but you get an overall idea of how talented the whole band is.  "City Girl" flows beautifully into your ears, with the soft vocals building beautifully into Hayley's signature high-pitch drawls, and "Endless Summer" shows off the band's more energetic side.

The Jezabels ended up doing another Buzzsession after CMJ, in which they performance an acoustic version of "Mace Spray" with only a guitar, a shaker, and their voices, filmed in Stuy Town, Manhattan.

Earlier this  year, The Jezabels released their sophomore album The Brink, which is a gem from beginning to end.  I'm so addicted to this album that I stream it almost daily while getting ready in the morning -- it's my favorite album in 2014 so far!  All the tracks blend perfectly together with some upliftings anthems off-set by some incredible ballads.  Generally I could list two songs that really stick out, but in the case of The Brink, all the tracks hold their own.  You can stream the full album on their Soundcloud, which you can reach through this great article from Esquire.



My Top Five Albums of 2013

2013 has been a crazy year for me, lots of ups and downs, especially in my personal life.  But it has also been a great year for music!  Here is my list of Top 5 Albums of 2013:

5) CHVRCHES - The Bones Of What You Believe

"The Mother We Share" was a song that needed to grow on me.  Not sure why, as I find it brilliant now, but the first few months, I was skeptical.  But then I discovered their Recover EP with "Now Is Not The Time" and that solidified my new found love for this Scottish band.  Seeing them live on Jimmy Kimmel confirmed my new obsession and I found vocalist Lauren Mayberry a great female role model when she posted her public letter that she will not accept online misogyny.  After hearing "Tether" and "Gun,"  I rushed to download their full studio album and now it's my getting-ready-to-go-out soundtrack.

4)  The Naked And Famous - In Rolling Waves

I have been a fan of this NZ band since I first heard their single "Young Blood"; I even had the chance to see them do a few songs acoustic at The Blank Club and was blown away by them.  "Punching In A Dream" came out next and it had the same power as the first single, so I knew this band was going places.  Anxious to hear more music, I was stoked when they released Passive Me, Aggressive You, especially diggin' the songs "No Way" and "Girls Like You."  When I heard they were releasing a new album this year, I was ecstatic and their first single "Hearts Like Ours" did not disappoint.  "The Mess" and "I Kill Giants" are two of my favorite tracks on the album.  Thom and Alisa's chemistry on stage is undeniable, plus I love how they harmonize and play off each other's lines.

3) Bastille - Bad Blood

"Pompeii" is one of those songs that sticks in her head the first time you hear it.  The chanting hymns grab your attention and then Dan's heavenly voice comes in and you're hooked.  I couldn't get enough of it and went searching for more songs online, which led me to find their a capella version at the British Museum, as well as a capella version of "Overjoyed" at the gardens of Copped Hall.  Both of these blew me away; they really show off how talented each member of this fabulous band is!  With only the single and it's b-side "Poet" to keep me occupied for many months, I eagerly anticipated their full album, and now I can't stop listening to it.  Plus I had the pleasure of seeing them live twice, and they are amazing, really capturing their talent, essence, and musicianship!

2) Lorde - Pure Heroine

Sometime in February I read about five artists under 18 to look out for and Lorde was on that list.  I remember listening to "Royals" and finding it the most unique, brilliant song I've heard in a long time.  I just loved her voice and the lyrics were right up my alley.  I started posting about the song regularly, calling it my anthem due to the line "you can call me queen b" -- yet is seemed like no one was paying attention.  I appreciated the mystery behind her as there were no photos, just some cartoon with The Love Club EP on Soundcloud, a sign that it was about the music, not the image.  All of a sudden this summer, the song was everywhere, even on every type of radio station, and people were taking about this 16-year old from New Zealand (finally!).  Then she released her follow-up single "Team," proving she wasn't a one hit wonder.  Ella Yelish-O'Connor is just amazing, a true artist with a unique blend of haunting vocals over electro-pop beats, that's full of teen angst, but with a sense of maturity.  Her studio album is phenomenal and thought-provoking, from the beginning notes of "Tennis Court" to the dramatic end with "A World Alone."  I'm not surprised she's the youngest act to top the Billboard Hot 100 as it's well deserved.  I wish there were more artists and success stories in the music industry like this!

1) Imagine Dragons - Night Visions

This was the band that took my heart by storm last year when I heard "It's Time" on the radio.  Right away I knew this band and I would have a long relationship, they were right up the lines of my 80's new wave passion, yet with a modern twist.  When they opened Live105's BFD, I was in awe; Dan Reynolds is the quintessential frontman, which is rare for such a young band.  I loved his energy and how he had his own big bass drum to pummel on, adding to the dynamic and sound.  A few weeks later the band blew up on radio and their Continued Silence EP came out, which played repeatedly in my car.  Hits like "Radioactive," "Demons" and "On Top Of The World" warmed my heart and I couldn't wait to see them live again.  My dream came true last Fall, with a tremendous performance at the Great American Music Hall; the whole audience connected with this talented Las Vegas band.  Night Visions technically came out Sept 2012, but it's the album that's had the most play in my life this year.  Songs like "Bleeding Out" and "Nothing Left To Say" just convey so much emotion, I feel what they feel and they get me through the hard times.  I even went on an extensive search for their previous EP's after seeing a live version of "Cover Up" on Bronson Island, which is still one of my favorite songs by them, plus I discovered "I Need A Minute" on their 2009 self-titled EP.  And let's not forget their incredible show at America's Cup Pavilion -- one of the BEST concerts I've ever seen!



UK Alt-Rockers Bastille At Popscene

UK chart-toppers Bastille might just be the freshest "new" band of 2013, that hopefully will become a household name.  Formed in 2010, Bastille began as a solo project by singer-songwriter Dan Smith, who later decided to form a band. The band's name derives from Bastille Day, an event that recognizes the Storming of the Bastille in Paris, which happens to be the same date (July 14) that lead vocalist Dan Smith was born.

If you can imagine Coldplay, Keane, and Glee's The Warblers having a baby, then Bastille would be that super-talented offspring.  Smith, known for his gravity-defying hairstyle, is still humbled by the reception of their album and hitting #1.

Their first studio album Bad Blood was released in March and features triumphant melancholic anthems, including their hit song "Pompeii," as well as their debut single "Overjoyed," amongst others.  Personally, I'm a huge fan of "Poet" from Pompeii Remixes EP, which I encourage you to check out.

I can't wait to see this talented band on Mon July 22 at Rickshaw Stop in SF, a week after Bastille Day!  If you want to see an amazing show with a truly talented band, then get your tickets now before this show sells out!

Just to see how amazing this band is, I encourage you to see them perform "Overjoyed" Acapella below.  Be even more impressed watching Acapella version of "Pompeii" in British Museum -- the building echoing acoustics just add to the song!



SXSW 2013 Bands I Wish I Had Seen

Earlier this week I posted about bands I saw at SXSW, however, there's always bands you wish you saw but for whatever reason, you never did get that opportunity.  This is my list of artists I wish I had seen this year, bands that I highly recommend, some of who's songs are my favorites right now.

Kitten - I honestly tried three times to see this LA band of 18 year old musicians and missed them each time due to schedule changes at the venues. Their vocalist Chloe Chaidez is a cross between Karen O and Siouxsie Sioux; add to that an 80's revival sound and I can't get enough of it! 

Foxes - the first time I heard this song I fell in love with it instantly; this UK singer has an EP out and is currently working on full album which I can't wait to hear! I also recommend you check out "Clarity" by ZEDD to hear her vocals on a good dance track.

Bastille - an impressive indie-flavored pop quartet from London that are topping the charts for a good reason; I'm even more blown-away after seeing this a capella / acoustic video. 

Haim - these valley girl sisters have a reminiscent feel of Fleetwood Mac incorporated with a modern R&B pop sound; I just want to dance along with them. 

Alt-J - very original English alt-rock band who's music is full of layers with hints of folk and pop; my personal favorite is the song "Dissolve Me" but there's no video yet.

San Cisco - this Australian four-piece is getting a lot of attention lately and I was curious how well the 19 year old band members would perform live; they definitely have potential.

Petite Noir - Chris Ely on my management roster knows Yannick Ilunga from his time in South Africa so I wanted to touch base with him in Austin. Sadly his only non-badge required show was at same time as Green Day, so I missed him by 30 minutes.

Twenty One Pilots - you can hear Eminem's influence in this duo that consists of a rapper/pianist and live drummer, who actually does a back flip during their performances; plus you can't help but sing along to this catchy tune!

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - the fact that they hit number one without being on a major label proves the music industry is changing. They were the must-see act this year but I didn't want to deal with hours of waiting in line and sadly got my RSVP too late that would have let me cut the line at Woodies Awards.

King Loses Crown - I hung with these SF guys quite a bit even though I didn't get a chance to see them play, but I can vouch that they are amazing live and this video is absolutely incredible!

I really hope you enjoy some of these artists as much as me!  xoxo



SXSW 2013 Review

As expected, I had a blast at SXSW this year even though I didn't get to see some of the artists/bands I really wanted to catch.  I was happy to hang out with some great touring bands, including Eliquate, Alabaster, Fight The Quiet, King Loses Crown, and Death Valley High, plus stayed with my wonderful friends Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, who blow me away with their talent, generosity, and hospitality.  The best part was that I won tickets to see Green Day live at ACL Live/Moody Theater, as well as to the screenings of both their documentary films Broadway Idiot and Cuatro through their Idiot Nation fanclub! Did I mention I caught Billy Joe's hat!!!  Seriously the BEST Green Day show I've experienced, plus having San Jose band Stickup Kid as opener gives me hope that Pounders will make it someday!

Here's a list of some of the bands I saw and why I enjoyed them:

Fitz And The Tantrums - great high energy band that gets the audience going with their pop-rock meets soul sound, so I was bummed that I missed the first half of their set; might just be my favorite set of the festival.

A Silent Film - I'm a sucker for UK indie bands that bring back that classic 80's new wave sound, plus the vocalist hits all those notes perfectly live. I met the band after their set and they were so stoked I bought their new album that they autographed my CD and gave me the best hugs. I love a band that knows how to make a fan feel special!

On An On - a new discovery from a SXSW playlist on Spotify; a bit too mellow for my mood at the time, but still very beautiful to experience live.

The Limousines - couldn't miss the chance to see these Bay Area favorites showcase music from their new album Hush; not only did I love all the new songs, I also loved the venue's well suited lighting and ambiance that fit perfectly with this duo's electro-pop sound.

Death Valley High - my SF boys did a great job rockin' the Texas Rockfest outdoor stage playing songs off their forthcoming album; I especially loved their cover of "F**k The Pain Away" by Peaches.

Fight The Quiet - these Arizona alt-rockers have made Nashville their new home and just released their new EP The City Below; sadly the venue's sound gear wasn't up to par, but the band handled it like champs and still had the audience lovin' every moment of it!

Alabaster - my Seattle friends showed off their new songs that are fresher and catchier than anything Paramore is putting out these days; makes you wonder why they haven't broke into the mainstream yet.

The Material - memorable female-fronted LA band that grabs your attention with powerful vocals over their power rock sound, yet with a touch of emotionally charged ballads in the mix.

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades - this talented Austin duo will blow you away with songs like "Space Jam" that will not only make you laugh, but amaze you with KG's harmonica playing and Nate's charm; their the new Tenacious D!

Eliquate - honestly didn't see them play at SXSW as I wanted to, but have seen them play in the bay, so it's only fair I give this Santa Cruz hip hop band credit for being all around amazing guys with great songs!

Later this week I'll post about the bands I wanted to see but missed!