Throwback Thursday: The Lumineers

My love for alternative rock stems from The Lumineers and their first album.

I remember one of my favorite actors (Colton Haynes) posting a screenshot of the song “Slow It Down” onto his instagram page when I was in high school, so I decided to check the album out, because I never heard of them before.  They were my gateway into listening to different music, and I am forever thankful for them.  The Lumineers are comprised of founding members Wesley Schultz (guitar, lead vocals) and Jeremiah Fraites (drums, percussion).  They were joined by Neyla Pekarek (cello, vocals) in 2010.

The Lumineers

The Lumineers (2012)

The album opens up with a short song called “Flowers in Your Hair.”  It starts the album off with a very old school feel, and sets the tone for the rest of the songs.  From the lyrics, down to the production, it captivates you.

The third song, “Submarines,” tells the story of Schultz’s grandfather seeing a submarine and everyone labeling him a liar.  The second verse is as follows: “I did spy a periscope, dead of night on the eastern coast, the police made them jokes, told me I’d seen a ghost, everyone thinks I’m a liar, no one knows the truth, if it was a bigger fire, I would be on the roof.”

Following this track is one of the most beautiful love songs, “Dead Sea.”  “You told me I was like the dead sea, you’ll never sink when you are with me.”  Schultz puts a lot of himself and his experiences into his music.  The music he writes tends to be about his life, or stories others have told him about theirs.

Next, is The Lumineers’s biggest single, “Ho Hey.”  This song reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the last week of the year 2012, and it remained on the chart for 62 weeks.

The eighth track, “Big Parade,” The Lumineers take us back in time to the 1960s, singing about John. F Kennedy, as the blue-eyed boy from the United States.  The rest of the five-minute story speaks of many other American traditions like civil war, faith, and music.

The Lumineers 2013

The album ends with the heart wrenching “Morning Song.”  A song that outlines the details of a break up.  Schultz asks many questions in the song, asking his former lover if it was easier for her to leave than to stay and fix their relationship.  He goes through the emotions, jealously, resentment, bitterness.

To this day, The Lumineers, is one of my favorite albums.  Listen to it on Spotify here.

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Artist Spotlight: HAIM

Este, Alana, and Danielle Haim.

The three sisters comprise of the powerhouse band, HAIM.  Their 80s soft rock combined with sounds from 90s R&B make a combination I have never heard before.  The band has (obviously) been playing music together for their entire lives.  They started as a cover band, Rockenhaim, with their parents.  All three of the sisters are incredible musicians, playing different instruments and each participate in the song writing process.  HAIM was formed in 2006, but the three sisters didn’t take it seriously until a few years later.  The first few years Alana was still in High School (she would later drop out in her first year of college to focus on the band), and Este was studying ethnomusicology at UCLA.  During this time, Danielle found minor fame while being a touring guitarist with Jenny Lewis, and later The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas.  It wasn’t until 2012 when HAIM went back to business.  HAIM later signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, and a U.K. record label, Polydor Records.

Haim in LA

The sister-act released their first EP, Forever, in 2012, followed by their debut album Days Are Gone in 2013.  To this day, Days Are Gone, is one of my favorite records of all time.  The album peaked at number 6 on the Billboard 200.  Their lead single, “The Wire,” debuted at #1 in the U.K.  The band was also featured in Calvin Harris’ fourth album, Motion, providing vocals for the song “Pray to God.”

All three sisters play percussion, as well as sing.  Alana plays the guitar, Danielle plays the guitar and also drum set, and Este finishes out the rhythm section with the bass.

HAIM’s second album, Something to Tell You, dropped this year, and peaked at #7 on the Billboard 200.  The band released an album teaser video with their song “Right Now,” directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.  The video got fans excited, for this was their first reappearance since Days Are Gone.  Their first single from their sophomore album was “Want You Back.”  The catchy song embodies everything the band is, and was a great choice for a single.

Haim Way Out West 2013

(From left to right) Alana, Danielle, and Este Haim.

Today, HAIM released a 14 minute video directed by Paul Thomas Anderson called “Valentine.”  The short film gives fans an insight on HAIM’s new album, where they perform live versions of “Right Now,” the albums namesake “Something to Tell You,” and “Nothings Wrong.”

Check out HAIM on Spotify here.

Throwback Thursday: My Oldest Friend

In 2012, four-piece indie rock band from Baltimore, Maryland, Have Mercy, released their debut EP, My Oldest Friend.  The EP contains four tracks, and is 12 minutes long.  The band’s original members were Aaron Alt (drums), Nick Woolford (bass guitar, backing vocals), Andrew Johnson (guitar, backing vocals), and Brian Swindle (lead vocals, guitar).  Swindle is the only founding member that remains in the band.

My Oldest Friend earned them a record deal in 2013, with Topshelf Records, later being signed to Hopeless Records in 2014.  Other notable bands signed under Hopeless Records would be Neck Deep, Moose Blood, The Ready Set, Sum 41, Tonight Alive, The Used, The Wonder Years, and Yellowcard.

Have Mercy mesh indie rock with post-hardcore, punk, and emo feelings.  Their driving drum tracks aligned with their hardcore melodies showcase their songwriting talent as a band.

Have Mercy’s most popular track is a song called “Let’s Talk About Your Hair.”  This song is so emotional and raw.  The song deals with post-breakup feelings, and dwelling on the past.  It starts out with “We went to bed that night, and dreamed of better things… I always wondered when you stopped loving me.”   The chorus follows with “I know that you know that I know that you don’t really care, let’s talk about your hair and how its grown and how that we’re not getting anywhere.”  The former couple is making small talk, but the girl is obviously uninterested, and the smalltalk gets them nowhere.  The second verse changes from the first, when Swindle sings “I went to bed that night, and dreamed of better things.”  His we changed to an I.  This track has over 3.8 million listens on Spotify, and the band itself has around 150 thousand monthly listeners.

Check out Have Mercy on Spotify here.

Who You Need To Know: Andrew McMahon

Who is Andrew McMahon?

Andrew McMahon has been in the music business since 1998.  He is an American singer-songwriter and producer.  McMahon is an incredible live performer, where he spends most of his time on the piano during his live shows.  Since he has been active since 1998, he has been apart of a few different projects, and he has a handful of dedicated fans.

Something Corporate

Andrew McMahon - Something Corporate

Andrew McMahon – Something Corporate

Something Corporate was McMahon’s first project.  Comprised of Josh Partington and Reuben Hernandez (later replaced by William Tell) on guitar, Kevin Page on bass, and Brian Ireland on drums, SoCo was the kick starter for each of their careers, for they all still work in the music business.  SoCo was a pop-punk, alternative rock group who was finding their roots.  They found minor success with a 10 and a half minute ballad called “Konstantine” from their independently released EP Ready… Break.  The song was recorded live, and was only supposed to be four or five minutes long, but during the live show McMahon kept going, singing new verses as he went along.  The story the song tells transcended to their listeners.  It’s about a first love, and how the love McMahon has for her will always be there, she was always be his “Konstantine.”  Even today, McMahon gets heckled at his shows to play this song.  Because of the length, he only performs it about once or twice a year.

SoCo disbanded in 2004, which is when McMahon launched his side project, Jack’s Mannequin.

Jack’s Mannequin

The reason for the split of SoCo, was because their contract with their label ended in 2004.  McMahon wrote a song called “Locked Doors” which inspired his second project, Jack’s Mannequin.  He felt as if the song was too different from other SoCo songs and that if he ever wanted to release it, it wouldn’t be with SoCo, thus, Jack’s Mannequin was born.

The inspiration for the name of the band comes from a track called “Dear Jack.” In 2009, McMahon released a documentary under the same name, where he documented his battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  McMahon began the Dear Jack Foundation, which helps fight against adolescent and young adult cancer.

Andrew McMahon - Jack's Mannequin

Jack’s Mannequin strayed from the pop-punk scene, and moved into full on alternative rock.  Their first album, Everything in Transit, was released in 2005, featuring their most popular songs, “Dark Blue” and “The Mixed Tape.”  “Dark Blue” went gold around eight years since it’s initial release.  The songs McMahon wrote for this project were more emotional and vulnerable than those of SoCo.  He wrote from a place of things being different than he remembered, and a place of change and acceptance of himself.  The most powerful music is music that relates to people, and that’s exactly what the music of Jack’s Mannequin does.  His fans from SoCo continued to support him.

Jack's Mannequin

Jack’s Mannequin – Andrew McMahon (piano), Jay McMillan (drums)

Jack’s Mannequin released one EP and three studio albums, with each one getting more popular than the last on the BillBoard 200.  Their full discography is as follows:  People in Transit (2005), The Glass Passenger (2008), The Dear Jack EP (2009), People And Things (2011).  The albums grew and matured with McMahon as a writer.

In September of 2012, Jack’s Mannequin played their last show together (besides the Everything in Transit 10 year tour).  McMahon would then move on to his third and current project.

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

McMahon’s third project began in 2014.  The self titled album was his biggest release to date.  The indie pop and alternative rock album is loved by many, including myself.  The track “Fire Escape” peaked at #4 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart, and “Cecelia and the Satellite” peaking at #5.  This is his most popular project, and more and more people are falling in love with him and his music.  With this endeavor, McMahon toured with Weezer and Panic! At The Disco during the summer of 2016.  His second album, Zombies on Broadway, was released in 2017.

Andrew McMahon is a fluid artist, continually changing and not afraid to try new things, and part with what is old.  He has been popular since 1998, and he will continue to stay relevant.

Throwback Thursday: Room for Squares

Room For Squares is the debut album from rock/pop/blues singer-songwriter and producer John Mayer, which was released in 2001, when he was just 24 years old.  Room For Squares features his hit singles, “No Such Thing,” which peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100, and “Your Body Is A Wonderland,” which peaked at #18.  The Connecticut native earned a Grammy award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 2003 for Wonderland.

The acoustic rock album follows themes of a younger version of himself.  In “No Such Thing,” he sings about going back to high school and screaming on the top of his lungs.   “I just can’t wait til my ten year reunion
I’m gonna bust down the double doors
And when I stand on these tables before you
You will know what all this time was for.”  He is referencing him becoming a musician.  Even his parents forced him to go to college.  Although he attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, he dropped out.  In his song “83” he references going back to 1983, when he was 6 years old, singing “what ever happened to my lunchbox?”  He struggles with the idea of getting older.

John Mayer live in 2007

Room For Squares laid the foundation for the rest of Mayer’s career.  Even though the album was released in 2001, it did not peak on the Billboard 200 until 2003.  It spent 95 weeks on the chart.  The seven time Grammy Award winning artist has faced many struggles in his professional and personal life, just like anyone else in the spotlight.  His newest album The Search for Everything was released earlier this year.

 

New Music Monday

New Album Releases:

Sleep Well Beast, The National

Sleep Well Beast - The National

Sleep Well Beast is The National’s seventh studio album.  The album features their lead single “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness,”  which played all over alternative rock radio throughout the summer.  The Cincinnati based band has two #1 alternative rock albums on the Billboard 200, High Violet (2007) and Trouble Will Find Me (2013).

Freedom Child, The Script

The Script - Freedom Child

The Script’s returned with their fifth album, Freedom Child, released on the first of September.  The Irish pop rock band’s album is just as catchy as their past albums.  Their lead single, “Rain,” has all the elements of a good pop song.  Freedom Child is the band’s fourth U.K. #1 album.

New Single Releases:

“The Line,” Foo Fighters

Dave Grohl - Lollapalooza Berlin 2017

“The Line” is the third single off of the Foo Fighters upcoming album, Concrete and Gold.  The Foo Fighters have not released a new album since 2014, Sonic Highways.  “The Line” has the classic Foo Fighters texture.  The Foo Fighters have 10 #1 alternative songs on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Too Good at Goodbyes,” Sam Smith

Sam Smith Lollapalooza 2015-4

Sam Smith’s long awaited return has finally come.  The pop singer’s soulful voice has been missed.  Smith’s single “Too Good at Goodbyes,” is just as vulnerable and powerful as the music from his debut album, In The Lonely Hour.

Other Album Releases This Month

American Dream, LCD Soundsystem;  Hitchhiker, Neil Young; All The Light Above it Too, Jack Johnson; Southern Blood, Gregg Allman; Slowheart, Kip Moore; Life Changes, Thomas Rhett.

This week in 1997, Mariah Carey had the #1 song with “Honey.”

Who You Need To Know: Jack Antonoff

Who is Jack Antonoff?

Jack Antonoff has most likely produced or written (or both) one of your favorite songs in the last 5 years.  He works with a variety of artists, including Taylor Swift, Lorde, and Sia.  He started his career off in an indie rock band called Steel Train, in 2002.  Steel Train’s last album, Steel Train, was released in 2010.

In 2009, Antonoff  joined Nate Ruess and Andrew Dost to form the iconic alternative rock band fun.  The bands second (and final) album released in 2012, Some Nights, had multiple chart toppers, including the #1 “We Are Young,” which lasted on the Billboard Hot 100 for 43 weeks.

Fun.

In February 2014, Antonoff announced his newest project (and best yet), Bleachers.  Bleachers released Strange Desire in August 2014.  The lead single, “I Wanna Get Better,” peaked on the Billboard Alternative chart at #1, and the album itself peaked at #11 on the Billboard 200.

Antonoff reworked his first album, Strange Desire, and turned it into Terrible Thrills, Vol 2.  On this album, he recreated his music from Strange Desire, and had popular artists put a twist on it.  Each song is sung by a different artist.  Sia sing’s on “Like a River Runs,” giving it a completely different feel than it had on Strange Desire.

While still working with Bleachers, Antonoff works with a number of popular artists.  He and Lorde collaborated on her #1 sophomore album, Melodrama. He also produced three songs on Taylor Swift’s pop breakout album, 1989, as well as her newest single, “Look What You Made Me Do.”

Jack Antonoff, Taylor Swift, Lorde

Most of Bleacher’s music revolves around the death of Antonoff’s younger sister, Sarah, who lost her life to brain cancer at age 13.  He openly speaks and writes about her and how the loss affected his life.  In “Like a River Runs,” track #8 on Strange Desire, he sings “when I fall asleep I can see your face, what I lost in you I will not replace, and I could run away, I could let them down, but I will remember your light.”

Antonoff is now on his Gone Now Era tour to promote his sophomore album, Gone Now.  Gone Now‘s lead single, Don’t Take The Money, was Bleacher’s return to music.  The song dominated alternative radio and was a fan favorite at music festivals across the globe this summer.

Gone Now is an album unlike any other I have heard in alternative music.  It is an album that should not be listened to on shuffle.  Antonoff uses lyrics and melodies heard on earlier songs and translates them into the later songs.  The album is incredibly cohesive in so many ways.  “Goodmorning” and “Goodbye” mirror each other, but are still completely different.

Bleachers at the MTV VMA Artist to Watch Concert

Bleachers at the MTV VMA Artist to Watch Concert

 

What can’t Jack Anotonoff do?  Virtually nothing.

 

You can purchase or stream Strange Desire, and Gone Now, and purchase tickets to the Gone Now Era Tour here.