Coachella 2015 Lineup Listening Party: Volume Two


Not going to lie: I was pretty amped after I posted Volume One of this Lineup Listening Party. I'd forgotten how much I like writing about music, connecting over music, discovering music. It's been so long since I've really spent time soaking up this little passion of mine that I didn't realize how much it was lacking in my life.

That being said, it's becoming ever more clear that this project is involved. It's taken me about 3 weeks to get through the first 32 bands. Listening to as many of their albums as I can stand/find. Researching them on the internet, reading interview after interview. Picking the most palatable songs to make sure every single act is represented on the playlist. Coming up with something to say about them...

I'm diving deep into the rabbit hole.

But first, as always, a User's Manual:
  • I repeat: I am not a house music or EDM fan and I don't even know if those two things are one and the same. My assessments of DJs, music producers and whatever else falls into this ambiguous category are comical at best and irritatingly daft at worst. Seriously, don't put any weight into my thoughts on EDM unless you're just as clueless as I am. You have been warned (again).
  • Though I try to assess bands from a more universal perspective, at the end of the day it will always come back to my taste. And I spent almost as much on tickets to Britney Spears's Vegas show as I did on my wristband, so take that for what it's worth. 
  • Each band is rated Pass, Pause or Play. Passes are bands (mostly DJs) that I don't plan on seeing and/or can't justify recommending. Pauses are bands that I've discovered during this challenge and that intrigued me enough to want to check out. They're also bands that, maybe despite my taste, I can see the benefit in encouraging others to give a shot. Plays are the bands that I plan on trying to see, and include both old and new favorites. 
  • Songs from every act that I find representative or at the very least, the most decent offering from that band, will be added to my Spotify playlist,'s Coachella 2015 Listening Party, as I make my way through each installment. Subscribe and listen along! 

Charles Bradley - Play 
When there's a name like Charles Bradley on the lineup, I think two things: DJ or singer songwriter. I do not think: amazing R&B soul singer with a bonkers-insane life story who was discovered in his 50s and now tours the festival circuit. Because that is Charles Bradley. Bradley is a musician of rare, unparalleled talent, making his set on Friday a must-see. And if you don't believe me, watch Soul of America, a documentary about his life, on Netflix Instant, like, now. And if you do believe me, watch it anyway.

Charles Bradley - pc: okayplayer

MK - Pass
It was hard for me to be sure I had found the right MK, aka Marc Kinchen, on Spotify at first. This American DJ from Detroit is mostly famous for the remixes he's produced for other artists, but does have his own original music as well, splitting his discography between two artist names, hence the confusion. "MK Mark Kinchen" houses an original album from 2014 and "MK" is where you'll find all of his remixes. I'd actually put his music on in car camping while we pre-game, which is more than I can say for some of the other DJs.

Keys N Krates - Pause
Electronic bands are infinitely more interesting to me than solo DJs. Maybe it's because I have two friends in an electronic band and I can appreciate what goes into it. Maybe it's because the coordination involved is impressive. Whatever the case, I was actually excited to listen to Keys N Krates, the three-man band from Toronto.  Because the other really impressive thing about them? They perform completely live, which to my (limited) knowledge, is rare when it comes to EDM. Also, apparently sometimes you can see crazy naked chicks rush them onstage.

Cloud Nothings - Play
Listening to the Cloud Nothings, I couldn't help but feel like they belonged on a 90s teen movie soundtrack, an American Pie or Can't Hardly Wait, or maybe on Buffy on stage at The Bronze. Whatever the case, their lo-fi indie rock appeals to my 90s kid sensibilities.

Cloud Nothings - pc: Faster Louder

Kele - Pause
I'm not really a fan of Bloc Party, less because I don't like their music and more because I don't think I've, um, ever actually listened to them. But fans may be happy to know that even though the band went on an indefinite hiatus in 2013, their lead singer and rhythm guitarist, Kele Okereke, has been hard at work. Kele's spent the hiatus putting together his second full length solo album, Trick. Full of sexy lounge jams, Trick makes for great background music for your weekend. Also, the track, "Stay the Night" is a pretty solid anthem for 23-year-olds.

Erol Alkan - Pass
I've been to exactly one rave, in London in 2008, and two things happened there that had never happened to me before: 1. I found pills, multiple times in fact, all over the dance floor and was shocked at how careless and unabashed their drug culture was and 2. I fell asleep. In the middle of a rave. Not on account of any pills obviously, but more because it was almost 4am and I couldn't find my friends and I'd just recently discovered that I hate raves. I curled up near an emergency exit where it was unlikely (but not impossible) that I would get trampled, used my coat as a pillow and hoped for the best. The first song I listened to by London-based Erol Alkan, a song called "Lemonade" reminded me of this night. Half of his music belongs in the Sahara tent and half belongs in Yuma. Only time will tell where he ends up on Friday, but I already know where I won't be. Nothing personal, Erol. I don't think you'd want me falling asleep at your set anyway.

Vic Mensa - Pass
There's not a lot to say about 21-year-old hip hop artist Vic Mensa. Mensa started his solo career in 2013 after his group Kids These Days broke up and to date, he only has one single to his name, this past June's house hit "Down On My Luck" (the video is pretty hilarious). Unfortunately "Down On My Luck" isn't on Spotify, but his collaboration with Asher Roth, "Fast Life" is, if you're looking for a taste of his vocals. Otherwise, unless you're familiar with his old group or his unreleased music, this will be a bit of a mystery set.

Sylvan Esso - Pause
Ryan walked into the room while I was listening to Sylvan Esso's self-titled debut album, Sylvan Esso, and said, "Hmm. Kind of sounds like Feist." I could have kissed him. I'd spent almost the whole day trying to figure out who it was that this synthpop duo reminded me of and there it was. It makes perfect sense.. after all, Amelia Meath, the female half of SE, was Feist's touring backup singer for over a year.

Sylvan Esso - pc: Sylvan Esso

The Reverend Horton Heat - Pause
If you were born in 1985, you will be turning 30 this year. And so will Jim Heath's psychobilly trio, The Reverend Horton Heat. For 30 years, this cult favorite has been making crowds work up a sweat on the dance floor with surf riffs, honky tonk, the energy of a coked-out Johnny Cash and the humor of Weird Al. RHH is the kind of band I'd much rather see live than listen to at home, so don't let their recorded stuff be a deterrent to what is sure to be one of the more fun sets of the day.

Gorgon City - Pass
Gorgon City is a "music production" duo. I assume this means they are like Timbaland, who knows how to make many millions of dollars off of a song by combining the right artists with the right beat. After listening to Gorgon City's 2014 release, Sirens, I would venture to say that Gorgon City probably knows how to at least make a few hundreds of thousands of dollars off of a song. But what do I know? I'm just an American. The rest of the world probably goes bananas for this.

Action Bronson - Pause
Action Bronson is a white rapper from Flushing, Queens (just like The Nanny!) who shares a birthday with Britney Spears, though sadly (for me and me alone), that's where the similarities end. With frequent comparisons to Ghostface Killah, Action was signed to Vice Records two years ago. He released an EP, SAAAB Stories, in 2013 and will probably release his full-length album, Mr. Wonderful, in the months before the festival. And don't be surprised if Raekwon or Ghostface show up during his set, since both have collaborations with Action and are scheduled for later Friday evening. Fun fact: prior to this he was a gourmet chef in NYC with his own online cooking show.

Action Bronson - pc: Hypetrak

Kiesza - Pause
It's funny how incestuous Coachella shapes up to be once you've dug deep (or shallow) enough into the background stories of the artists on the lineup: for instance take Kiesza, a Canadian singer/dancer/songwriter for Rihanna/multi-instrumentalist/ex-Navy sharpshooter/beauty pageant queen/all around badass, who just so happened to co-write a song for Jennifer Hudson that Gorgon City produced on their most recent album. Though this debut pop star is still fairly under the radar, you may have heard of Kiesza in one of three ways: 1. Her breakout hit single "Hideaway" which is definitely getting some airtime on radio stations here in San Diego; 2. Her YouTube video for "Hideaway" which has gotten over 186M views for its unique one-take shot through Brooklyn; and/or 3. Her super fun appearance on Ellen. Even if pop music isn't your thing, this set is worth checking out for her insane dance moves.

Kiesza - pc: Purple Leaves

Kimbra - Pause
Believe it or not, Kimbra is somebody that you used to know. That is, if turned on a radio or you walked by any EDM set at Coachella at any given time in 2012, chances are Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" was playing, featuring the vocals of one Kimbra Lee Johnson. The Kiwi released a new album last year, The Golden Echo, which is the follow up to her hit debut album, 2011's Vows. In all actuality though, it's probably a disservice to refer to Kimbra by a song that no one can stand to hear ever again.

Squarepusher - Pass
Squarepusher, aka Tom Jenkinson, is no stranger to Coachella. He played the second ever Coachella in 2001, so this is not his first rodeo. I listened to Squarepusher for about an hour in rush hour traffic the other night and I imagined that the target/only audience for this music is 9-12 year old boys. So if you really enjoy all-electronic video game soundtracks, then Squarepusher is for you!  It sounds as if it's being performed by R2-D2 and well... it sort of is.The latest album, Music for Robots, is actually performed by robots called the Z-Machines. For all those parents who bring their kids to Coachella for some inexplicable reason, this may be the set to bring them to.

Squarepusher - pc: NPR

George Ezra - Play
Oh hell yes. That is all I have to say about George Ezra's music. This swoony, 21-year-old Englishman has the soul and caramel bass-baritone voice of blues singer three times his age.  His first full-length album, Wanted on Voyage, just came out this month and it. is. awesome. This kid is the real deal and has a bright and shiny folk career ahead of him, with Coachella as his launchpad stateside.

Hot Natured - Pass
Described as an "electronic supergroup composed of notable producers," Hot Natured is your standard electronic music, with no bells or whistles that I could discern. The notable producers in question are the band's co-founders, Ibiza superlord Jamie Jones and Chicago's Lee Foss, if that means anything to you. It didn't to me.

New music will be added as each installment goes live. 

Friday's Set List: 32/49 Completed
Saturday's Set List: 0/59 Completed
Sunday's Set List: 0/52 Completed