BEST OF 2014
ISSUE #1 // DECEMBER 2014
F E A T U R I N G: SAM SMITH, CLEAN BANDIT, CHARLI XCX, BROODS + MORE
BEST LAID PLANS
A LOOK INSIDE THE INDIE LABEL
THE RISE OF VINYL WHO TO WATCH FOR IN 2015
GRIZFOLK THE ART OF VAGABONDING
THE-RADICAL.COM twitter.com/theradicalzine facebook.com/theradicalzine instagram.com/theradicalzine theradicalzine.tumblr.com soundcloud.com/theradicalzine
TABLE OF CONTENTS Editor’s Note
The Rise of Vinyl 6 Broods
Magic Man 11 Why the Wolf? 16 Banks 17 Hozier 19 FKA twigs 21 It’s Hard to Become Platinum 24 Grizfolk 25 Sam Smith 33 This Came Out 10 Years Ago? 37 Vance Joy 39 Little Daylight 41 Femme 45 Clean Bandit 47 How to Release An Album 50 Best Laid Plans 51 Women Breaking Records 58 Best of 2014 61 THE RADICAL Staff Picks... 63
EDITOR’S NOTE When I decided to start THE RADICAL, I was in a huge transitional period in my life. I was phasing out of my previous job, moving into a new one, and desperately trying to find a way to keep this weird form of music journalism I had created to still be a part of my life. Randomly, I just blurted out to myself that I was going to start a music zine. I bit the bullet, came up with the name, bought the domain, and here we are. Initially, I thought I was going to do everything myself but suddenly a few of my friends started volunteering to help me out. I was overwhelmed. The fact they were willing to support this passion project of mine was extremely touching. We launched the-radical.com on October 1st with a couple posts that were banked. A Kyla La Grange interview from a couple months ago and two concert reviews: The Kooks and Clean Bandit. Leading up to the launch, I wasn’t expecting much. I’m a nobody and the site literally had no legitimacy behind it and zero clout. With this mindset, I just emailed everyone I could think of to give us an interview, a photo pass, a concert ticket…anything. Not only did I get responses, I got a shit ton of responses. In just a few weeks, we stock piled a slew of exclusives. People were saying, “yes” and again, I was overwhelmed. I want to reiterate that THE RADICAL is a side project of mine. I have a full time job, everyone who is staffed here does and it’s not THE RADICAL. We’re doing this simply because we love music and wanted an outlet to express that love. So when it accelerated as quickly as it did, I was completely shocked. The artists featured in our premiere issue are artists who we all believe in and sincerely want to bring more attention to. Our premiere issue was suppose to be the typical recap of the past year as well as a look ahead. What I found as I started compiling everything was a different theme. Every artist had a similar story that paralleled THE RADICAL. Everyone just wants to create something that they love with people who love it as much as they do. The article that reflects this the most is our feature on Best Laid Plans Records. Putting together that story in particular was really special for me and there was always the same sentiment echoed through every single person involved in that project. “We just wanted to make good things and make them with a community of people we love.” I feel like we’ve done that with THE RADICAL. It’s only our first issue but I’m extremely proud of what we were able to pull off considering I had zero expectations for it. I honestly just wanted to be able to keep learning more and more about these artists I love and I feel like now I can continue to. Special thanks to the people who have gone above and beyond to help me actualize this project of mine. Beau Colburn, Rico Csabai, Jennifer Jones, Gregory Nolan, Jill Segal, and the entirety of Best Laid Plans Records. To my friends/staff writers, you rock don’t ever change. Robert Jackson, Katie Collins, Paris Masoudi, Heather Mason, and Ashley Maricich. And of course to all of you reading this. Thank you for caring. No really. THANK YOU. xx April
Photo Credit: Atlantic Records
// BEST OF 2014 //
CHARLI XCX BROKE THE RULES by Katie Collins
Charli XCX isn’t new to the music scene. Charlotte Emma Aitchinson has been making music since 2008.. She recorded her debut album off a loan from her parents and released it on an official MySpace page. This lead to being recognized by someone promoting gigs in London and ultimately landed a record deal. It’s the story every young artists hopes to tell about themselves one day.
With that major collaboration, Charli became a force with a subset of fans in the pop genre. There was something about her that turned her into a rebel teen queen icon. She doesn’t care what others think of her and isn’t afraid to be brash and vulgar to continue just being herself and not formed into some kind of manipulated pop music culture icon. But it’s not in a way that is completely off putting; it all ends up being more endearing and charming. It makes her popular without being popular.
Describing the sound of Charli XCX would result in listing off a long list of accomplished artists. Not because she is trying to emulate anyone in specific, but more because of the uniqueness of her voice and performance. She is re-paving the way for the female pop star to be more mysterious and dark and not necessarily bright and flowy like we’ve expected in the past from these female stars. She been compared numerous times to Madonna in that respect and could influence the future of the female pop star in the same manner.
Major Album Woes Charli got in the studio and completed her major label album debut, True Romance, that was released in April 2013. Although the album received positive reviews in the music community, the album did not chart as well as expected, hitting high early but not sustaining a solid number over time. That didn’t stop this focused musician from moving on and upward with her career. Following True Romance, Charli got back into the studio to record her next album. She worked with some big names such as Weezer and Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend to bring a more distinct sound to her new music adventure. Her feel and personality seems to be able to adapt to any situation and she can take a lot and work with anyone while still being a standout in her own right. She can collaborate with top notch artists and appreciate their influence while still promising to stay true to her own vision and feel..
More than Just a Singer What broke Charli on to the scene in the US was her songwriting. In 2012, she teamed up with another Swedish Dance Pop phenom, Icona Pop. She wrote the duo’s hit “I Love It” that got catapulted into success in the US in 2013 after being used in an episode of the HBO show Girls. By the time all was said and done, the song had hit number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
yet still fun and exciting. She doesn’t stray too far to either end of the spectrum and perfectly melds all the quirky pieces together, making her appealing to a wide range of fans and not cornering herself into a certain market.
Journey to the Top In February 2014, Charli got fancy. She wrote and recorded with Iggy Azalea for her hit song which shot to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US, becoming the first number one single for both artists. Following on the hot trail of that success, Charli contributed a song for the soundtrack to the The Fault in Our Stars film adaptation. “Boom Clap” was the soundtrack’s first single and the only one to reach mainstream fame, peaking at number eight on the US Billboard Hot 100.
With the release of this new album, Charli is expected to crash the scene even harder in 2015. Her musical influence has been well received by not only the pop music community, but also the alternative and indie rock fans that are ever growing. While her debut album didn’t turn her into a household name, In August 2014, Charli XCX announced her sophoCharli’s talents in collaborating with artists and gainmore album that she had been working so hard on ing respect in the industry has given her the edge would be titled Sucker. To promote the album, Charli over her peers. There will be no sophomore slump went on headlining “The Girl Power North America for Charli XCX. Tour” in the fall of 2014 with fellow female powerhouses Elliphant and FEMME. All these women take Charli is becoming an icon in her own right: not on a different persona from the stereotypical vision because of how she looks, not because of how she of what a pop star is. Even among these new wave acts, not because of her girl empowering ways, and of pop stars, there’s something about Chalir XCX that not even just because of her music. She’s the comstands above the rest. She’s dark and mysterious plete package. Find Charli XCX: twitter.com/charli_xcx facebook.com/charlixcxmusic www.charlixcxmusic.com
Photo Credit: April Salud
THE RISE OF VINYL by Heather Mason
I don’t remember listening to vinyl records when I was younger. My parents had them and a record player, but it wasn’t something we listened to. Mostly we listened to tapes. I remember a lot of tapes. I remember rewinding them and trying to find the beginning of a song on the first try. I remember this bright pink case I used to carry them in. I had a “Macarena” tape with five different versions of the song and a Hanson tape. I listened to the Free Willy soundtrack on tape. And one day I bought a CD by a band called Chumbawumba. I remember going to Walmart really early before school to get the Backstreet Boys Black & Blue CD as soon as I possibly could. At this point you can probably make a very educated guess as to how old I am and what era I grew up in. Music has always been a part of my life. I went from tapes to CDs and then to Napster, followed subsequently by Kazaa and then onto iTunes. All through the course of this, I sporadically bought CDs. Now I get most of my music on Spotify, which has recently become somewhat of a controversial thing. All of that aside, being born after their prime and not growing up with them, vinyl records hadn’t ever really been a thought to me. In 2010, I went to visit a high school friend in New York City. At this point I had graduated college and was living in an apartment in Atlanta. He was working at Urban Outfitters and had one of their multi-colored record players. Over the course of the weekend, we listened to Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream album on vinyl. We listened to it over and over again. Although I had been listening to it digitally, something about the vinyl sounded…more. To this day, I can’t really explain the way the sound differs. I asked a friend who listens to vinyl and he described it as a “quality in the finite detail of every instrument, every breath and sigh and trickle of feedback”. After that trip, I went home and asked my mother if I could have her old record player. She looked at me like I was crazy but of course let me dust it off and start what would be a long search for a new needle. So in the meantime, I bought a cheap player off of a guy who had used it to digitize his vinyl collection, an irony that isn’t lost on me, and I was hooked. My story isn’t unlike what I’ve heard from friends and read in magazines. Vinyl is back and my generation is really into it. But why now? Digital music is easier to access and cheaper than ever yet vinyl sales have risen to the highest since the late 1990s. In 2013, vinyl sales topped $218 million. Perhaps some amount of this resurgence can be attributed to Record Store Day, created in 2007 by a group of independent record store owners in the hopes of spreading the word of the vinyl culture and also likely to save their businesses. Now Record Store Day is annually celebrated on the third Saturday in April, with artists even releasing special editions and collectors’ items on the day. There are many reasons why vinyls are having a resurgence, but I have a theory of my own. For my generation, buying vinyl is in a way of resistance to the digitization of music and subsequently art as a whole. In part because it makes it almost too easy and not individual at all to “consume” media. When something is so easy to get, it’s taken for granted. I can listen to almost anything I want on Spotify and watch almost anything I want on Netflix. And so can anyone else. There’s nothing unique about my experience compared to someone else’s. It’s not personal or special. The rise of vinyl is merely the outward expression of a generation that, as my friend puts it: “feels like we’re being cheated out of the same experience and opportunity to preserve these moments.” Vinyl will never again be the most popular way to listen to music. But to those of us who are drawn to the personal aspect of music, nothing is quite as personal as the full tones of a song reverberating through your home and all stemming from a single vinyl record.
BUILDING BRIDGES WITH
by April Salud
Photo Credit: Kyle Dean Reinford
// BEST OF 2014 // In October 2013, Broods posted their song “Bridges” on Soundcloud and it instantly became a viral hit after music blogs took notice of the latest New Zealand sensation known as Broods.
up in arenas all over the globe with one of the best albums of the year. Evergreen (which produced by Joel Little, who helped carve out Lorde’s distinct sound) is clear-cut in its delivery. Subtle production that allows the raw talents of Caleb and Georgia to enhance the record as opposed to the other way around, this debut doesn’t feel like a debut at all. With a minimalistic touch that let’s out a euphoric release at the precisely the right moment, Broods is going to be the band that is there for you in every emotional state imaginable. How do you even begin to follow up such an entrance into the industry?
Caleb and Georgia Nott come from a musical family and have been playing together since they were kids. After winning singing competitions across their home country, they’ve quickly become one of the most buzzed about bands in the industry. A lethal combination of powerful synth-pop that flow underneath the dreamy and delicate vocals from Georgia, Broods has found a way to make pop music interesting without distorting it completely.
“I don’t like to think too far ahead,” Caleb explained. “We definitely want to do a headline tour for the album next year. We’re always writing randomly while we’re on the road just to keep that going.”
After releasing their EP in January, signing with Capitol Records, and releasing their debut album Evergreen, Broods is a band that came out of nowhere. Now that we’ve found them, we’re left wondering how we ever lived without them.
Growing up together and now constantly on the road, has anything changed between the brother and sister? “No,” Caleb laughed. “We’re exactly the same.”
“This year has been a major accomplishment,” Caleb told THE RADICAL. “Releasing the album has been a huge weight off our shoulders. We started recording it in May and it was released in August in Australia and New Zealand. Now that it’s out for the rest of the world is a great feeling.” On top of releasing one of the most effective debut albums in recent memory, Broods has gained massive exposure through supporting some of music’s most critically acclaimed artists such as Haim and Ellie Goulding and ending the year with Sam Smith on his biggest US tour to date. “We’ve been lucky to tour with people who we’re huge fans of. Sam Smith was a great way to end the year. He’s so warm and giving and that was such a fun tour to be a part of.” Broods started the year with one major single that carried them through small venues and have ended
Find Broods: twitter.com/broodsmusic facebook,com/broodsmusic www.broods.co
Photo Credit: Alexander Fedric
Find Elliphant: twitter.com/elliphantmusic facebook.com/elliphantmusic www.elliphant.com
// ONE TO WATCH FOR 2015 // Ellinor Olovsdotter has found herself getting a lot of traction in music blogs lately, but the Swedish producer/pop singer/rapper is certainly no overnight success. Using the stage name Elliphant, Olovsdotter has made a name for herself in dancehall circles working alongside EDM luminaries Skrillex and Doja Cat, and even counting people like Katy Perry and Dr. Luke amongst her fans. Sweden has long established its reputation for producing pop acts who’ve managed to dominate international charts. In recent years, Stockholm alone has introduced us to the likes of Icona Pop and Robyn whose mega-hits are probably still lingering in your head this very second. The beauty of Elliphant’s brand of confident, reggae-tinged pop music is that there is a worldly feel to what she’s bringing to the table. She’s isn’t vying for a generic pop sound, but to authenticate her music with her European identity. The idea of remaining faithful to herself is something that Olovsdotter had always wanted to prioritize in her creative endeavors, even in her early years of working as a photographer/visual artist. She tells THE RADICAL, “I think learning to express myself freely in other art forms, without following rules, was important for me when I started doing music. It’s hard to do your own thing. It’s hard to be real. I’m not here to be beautiful. I’m not here to please anybody. I’m just here to be myself. No one can criticize me.” With a string of EPs under her belt and a slot opening for Charli XCX on her recent fall tour, Elliphant’s profile stateside is expected to finally start
climbing. Adjusting to her new life as an LA transplant, Olovsdotter credits her relocation to the city partially because of her current state of mind. “I’m twenty-nine years old. If this happened to me four years ago, I don’t think I would be comfortable living here because it’s a very chill environment. There’s no club scene, nothing like that at all. I would have been crazy not being able to go out and do stuff. Now I feel like I need a proper home. With LA, I can have sunshine. I can have people. Four years ago? You could’ve found me in Brooklyn for sure!” With her debut full-length unfortunately being delayed, Elliphant instead produced two EPs this year, April’s Look Like You Love It and October’s One More, to help tide fans over. Though most of the songs were expected to be included on the album, don’t be surprised if the track listing appears drastically different come the street date. Olovsdotter is adamant in describing Elliphant as a constantly evolving project, as evidenced by her range of interests. When asked to highlight her biggest influences, she offers up The Prodigy, Immortal Technique, various house and Jamaican artists, etc. There’s a huge variety to the list of artists she’s ready to talk about, but she punctuates that “I wanna work with people whose music I haven’t heard.” In the coming year, Olovsdotter hopes to embark on her own headlining tour in order to meet with the people directly and to learn from them firsthand. Her desire to always learn from her environment will be her biggest draw in garnering new fans. It’s hard to not root for someone whose primary concern is that of truthfulness. “For me, I feel like 2015 is really understanding about what I’m doing, and to do that the best way I can. I want to start taking charge of my own ideas finally, and really bleed in them.”
ULL OF GOOD IDEAS by Paris Masoudi
MAGIC MAN’S TRI
Photo Credit: Gavin Thomas
by April Salud
// BEST OF 2014 //
The ability to adapt to a nomadic lifestyle is part of the job description for any musician. Especially with the current state of online streaming and the general oversaturation of the industry, a musician’s livelihood is based on touring and gaining fans while on the road. When I spoke to Alex Caplow, the lead singer of new phenomenon Magic Man, in the middle of their co-headlining tour with Smallpools, he was soft spoken, polite but obviously exhausted. “I think we’re in Chicago right now?” Alex guessed after he greeted me on the phone. “I just woke up and then all of sudden we were in this venue,” he continued. Magic Man’s sudden rise wasn’t so sudden. Forming in 2010 by Caplow and childhood friend, Sam Vanderhoop Lee, the two found their sound while
studying abroad in France. “The band started off when Sam and I were traveling. [Our music] is sort of a theme of going out of our comfort zone. We decided to take a trip to the south of France during the summer after our freshman year of college and we were working on these organic farms in exchange for room and board. In our spare time, we would write songs about our experiences and all the people we were meeting, and that became the first Magic Man album [Real Life Color] that we self released. Now it’s grown from all over the country to all over the world and we love meeting new people and gaining new experiences.” In 2013, Caplow and Vanderloop Lee added new faces to their lineup with college buddies Justine Bowe, Joey Sulkowski, and Gabe Goodman. And with those new faces came a new sound.
They released another EP entitled You Are Here and embarked on a tour supporting Walk the Moon immediately followed by a mini-tour with Sir Sly.
out college to their adventures on the road, Before the Waves is an accumulation of the human experience.
At the beginning of 2014 is when things really started to pick up for the band. Their single “Paris” entered in the Billboard charts at number 39 and was accompanied by an incredibly successful music video. The rest of the year, Magic Man toured relentlessly, joining The Gospel Tour in support of Walk the Moon and Panic! at the Disco in the spring. In July, their debut album Before the Waves was released to positive reviews. Electronic pop is heavily emphasized in Magic Man’s music. In fact, in today’s scene, it’s become harder to not drown in a sea of synths. It is no longer a niche genre but has essentially become a mainstream trend.
“Every night there’s always something special that happens in every city. Whether it’s meeting someone, the venue, or the food,” Caplow explained. “There’s always something so they all kind of blend together in my mind as a giant party. We decided to name a bunch of songs after a bunch of places and they’re about what those places mean to us.”
“It’s a bit crazy but then again it also makes sense,” Caplow pointed out. “There’s an 80s throwback [trend] right now, whether it’s in fashion or in synth pop. Because it’s so easy to make electronic music with programs like Garage Band, there are tons of people like, ‘Oh wow I can make synth pop by myself in my bedroom.’ It is definitely overwhelming at times to realize so many bands are making music with similar sounds but at the end of the day, you can’t get caught up in that. You have to focus on the songs. Yeah, we want to be able to use synths in our songs as an instrument but we also don’t want to be dependent on them. We want them to translate without synths at all. We spend nearly all of our time to ensure that the songs on the album could stand on its own. They’re all pretty much structured as classic pop songs. I mean, you’re always going to remind people of another band whether it’s The Cure or New Order, bands from the 80s. Or whether it’s Passion Pit or The Killers, bands that were inspired by bands from the 80s. We’re honored to be mentioned alongside any of those bands.”
“When we were first starting to play shows in college, we discovered all the DIY house shows in Allston and Jamaica Plains,” remembered Caplow. “All these people would come out and be super supportive. There’s a lot of great young bands coming out of Boston that are doing just real and raw, gritty basement rock music that’s reminiscent of 90s grunge.”
Despite all the traveling, Caplow and the rest of Magic Man haven’t forgotten their humble beginnings. The Boston based band will always have a soft spot for their hometown and the unique music scene that gives the city its pulse.
“Home is a great place to return to since we’re never there. We played there and it was sold out and there was a line around the block. Our friends came early to fill out the front row. It was the craziest crowd we’ve ever had and it made us feel like rock stars.”
Before the Waves achieves what Magic Man set out to make. An album full of life with melodic arrangements and energetic vocals, their debut is expressive and charged with a sound you can’t help but fall in love with. Starting with their travels through-
That support has now spread to all over the country. Magic Man ended their incredible year with their biggest headlining tour. “It’s basically a dream come true for us to play every night and have people come out. We’ve been an opening act for such a long time and it’s so nice to see people come out to see all the bands playing, including us,” Caplow explained. “It makes the tour more fun instead of playing a bunch of new songs to people who have never heard them.” Magic Man has been known to strive for triumph. Stemming from an Explosions in the Sky refer-
“Every night there’s always something special that happens in every city.” - Alex Caplow ence where they posted an ad for a “triumphant rock band,” that particular adjective has stuck with Caplow. Have they finally achieved it? “I think our 2014 is more triumphant than we ever thought it could be,” admitted Caplow. “Releasing an album on a major label, hearing our songs on the radio, and having hundreds of people come out to shows. I would feel like we would have had a triumphant year if we were playing smaller venues to less people or if we were still playing house shows. But we’ve sold out shows and people have responded well to the album. I feel like we’ve had a lot of planning this year, finding this trusting network of people to support us and it’s been working out so far.” With an effortless precision and the execution of seasoned professionals, it’s safe to say that Magic Man has mystified everyone in 2014. Triumphant indeed.
Photo Credit: Magic Man
Find Magic Man: twitter.com/magicman facebook.com/magicmanmusic www.magicmanmusic.com
WHY THE WOLF? by Ashley Maricich The use of the wolf in music spans across all genres and the list of musicians, song titles, lyrics and imagery. The wolf holds different representations and has been popping up more frequently in the past couple of years. Their traditional tropes can be seen as a symbol of a warrior or warrior class, a hunter and predator, protection and many more. There is a prominent correlation between wolf and (wo)man and the conjoining of the two. So why the wolf? Rag ‘N’ Bone Man has just begun his Wolves Tour, in Manchester, London based on his second EP Wolves. “The wolf on the cover is called Tate,” Rag ‘N’ Bone told THE RADICAL. “He belongs to some good friends of mine and is a fierce looking but beautiful animal. He commands respect. I’d like to eventually feel like that when I step on stage to perform.” Naming his tour Wolves plays into the predator representation. Rag ‘N’ Bone Man is clearly making a statement that he has made his arrival and has no plans of leaving any time soon. Georgia and Caleb Nott of Broods use a geometric version of a wolf’s on top of their own bodies. Created by artist, Anna-Wili Highfield, the duo loved the artist’s paper animal sculptures and wanted one for their debut album cover. Broods are drawn to the wolf, specifically how they travel in packs. But really, it’s all up to personal interpretation. “We loved Anna’s previous wolf sculpture and we asked her if she could slap on our heads,” Caleb explained. “I don’t think it really means anything though. People always feel everything has to mean something. We just really liked it.” I think the use of the wolf is an interesting one. They are beautiful creatures yet embody such ferocity. It makes perfect sense why musicians have taken a liking to this animal; they are a timeless representation of triumph and for those in bands that use it, it represents a bond of attachment. These animals are then portrayed in their videos and merchandise as a way for them to reach out the fans and show this bond is meant for you too. When fans go to a concert of their favorite artist(s) and they all have a tour shirt on with a wolf on it, imagine the scene that musician must see; a pack of wolves all in one room singing their lyrics back to them all as one.
Photo Credit: Harvest Records
by April Salud
// BEST OF 2014 // There’s something captivating about Banks. At first listen, her music is instantly familiar without draining itself of originality. By the time she released her debut album Goddess, there was a hype hovering around the Los Angeles native. Not just a typical hype that comes with a mysteriously stunning girl with a magnetic voice, but an extra buildup that could only be solidified in the age of new media.
In the past, singles usually have followed an album once it’s been released to continue the excitement. With Banks, she not only debuted her singles ahead of the album but also accompanied them with music videos. By the time Goddess was out in September 2014, we had a sense of who Banks was as an artist in both audio and visual formats.
Before signing a record deal, Jillian Banks did what every artist does…release her music herself. Utilizing the magic of Soundcloud, Banks uploaded her first single “Before I Ever Met You” which was initially set to private. Despite its secretiveness, it caught the attention of BBC Radio 1 DJ, Zane Lowe who immediately gave it airplay.
Banks has a unique presentation in her delivery on all fronts of her career. She’s sultry and witchy and simultaneously vulnerable and subtle. Her first music video was for “Warm Water”. It’s simple but perfectly supplements the track that exposes her willingness to fall in love. The visual companion for “Brain” was frantic and bold to complement the war cry of a song.
After releasing two EPs through major labels, Banks gained positive critical and commercial response by landing herself in the top three of the BBC Sound Of 2014 list and a song feature in Victoria Secret’s holiday campaign.
When Goddess was released, it was a collective sigh of relief from her fan base. It had felt like we had been living with these songs for such an extended period of time, we were already invested in Banks as an entity. Though it was her first album, the approach of its release had wired us to believe that But what was so special about Banks’ 2014? On top she had always been present in our lives. We can’t of organically attaining buzz through her hypnotiz- even remember a time without Banks. ing sounds and pioneering production style, she also strategically created her own hype by slowly With a sound that constantly flirts with various releasing her album throughout the year. genre styles from electronic to R&B to hard hip hop grooves; Banks has solidified her stake in popular This marketing strategy is nothing new. Plenty of music. She’s successfully provided a sexy, selfartists have used this method to keep people talk- assured aesthetic that isn’t afraid to reveal herself ing about them or to give fans and critics a taste through lyrics. of what’s to come. What Banks has done felt fresh and exciting because she was a new artist who A full-fledged siren, we can’t help but be drawn to built a brand off of an enigmatic stage persona. Banks. Though we got to know her through her honThis time around, the master plan involved solving est debut, there’s still more to unlock and we can’t the mystery that is Banks. wait to continue to discover it for as long as she lets us.
Find Banks: twitter.com/hernameisbanks facebook.com/hernameisbanks www.hernameisbanks.com
// BEST OF 2014 // Great singer-songwriters used to be the norm in popular music. In 2014, we’ve trended more towards the very produced, electronic sounds. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially with bands like CHVRCHES finding success. Andrew Hozier-Byrne or Hozier as you might know him has broken that trend.
Hozier is hard to define as an artist. His music shows influence of genres ranging from gospel to rock with influences from his native Ireland. “Take Me To Church” has obvious gospel roots with a rock anthem feel. Meanwhile, “From Eden” has a jazzy and soul feel. His album as a whole feels like an eclectic mix of so many genres that he’s hard to pigeonhole.
Born in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, this twentyfour year old singer-songwriter broke onto the Whether he was topping the charts in Ireland, scene this year with his genre-bending debut playing festivals in the Netherlands or singalbum. In 2013, Hozier released his first EP titled ing on Saturday Night Live, it was impossible to Take Me To Church. For the single of the same avoid Hozier this year. So, where will he take us in name, a provocative and somewhat political 2015? Wherever it is, I’ll be there. video was made. If you’ve only heard the song on the radio, you may have no idea what it’s even about. The video features two guys meeting up secretly, while a mob readies themselves. Right at the climax of the chorus (“Take Me To Church”), they start kissing and the mob starts to come after them and their families. The video is clearly in reference to not only the general persecution of people who are gay, but almost directly in reference to the persecution going on in Russia at the time. Probably partially because of the subjectmatter, the video went viral, propelling both the song and Hozier into the spotlight. Still without a full-length album, Hozier began touring and in early 2014, released a second EP entitled From Eden. Gaining popularity, Hozier continued touring, playing festivals and shows around the world. Hozier’s debut self-titled album was released on September 19, 2014, reaching number one on the Irish Charts, number five in the UK and number two in the US. In October, Hozier was a musical guest on Saturday Night Live, cementing his success and fan base in the US.
Find Hozier: twitter.com/hozier facebook.com/hoziermusic www.hozier.com
Photo Credit: Hozier Facebook
by Heather Mason
Photo Credit: Dominc Sheldon Klein
MY FIRST TIME WITH by Paris Masoudi Find FKA twigs: twitter.com/fkatwigs facebook.com/fkatwigs www.fkawi.gs
// BEST OF 2014 // My understanding of FKA twigs is very vague. I know of her distinctive looks and the media frenzy surrounding her relationship with Robert Pattinson, but admittedly that’s about it. In the past year, FKA twigs, born Tahliah Barnett, has been making serious waves with her album LP1 and challenging notions of what can qualify as pop music. She’s been unanimously dubbed a musical prodigy with fanfare at an all-time high. Yet somehow, this album is something that has evaded me thus far? My virgin ears have not been blessed by the words of FKA twigs, apparently. I have limited knowledge on outside sources’ impressions of what Barnett (apart from her deification) and what her music manages to achieve, but I feel like this is in some sense grounds for an unbiased perspective of whether or not LP1 can really be considered worth all that hype. Here’s an excerpt of my first impressions of FKA twigs done with each track done in real-time: “PREFACE” I love the layering of vocals. Remember to look up later what’s sampled here, just out of curiosity. I get the feeling that twigs is someone who doesn’t include anything on a whim. This doesn’t sound like it’s just being looped for the sake of looping. It’s more purposed. “LIGHTS ON” I am really on board with her airy, hushed vocals, that much is for sure. It makes for really soothing listening. Though I do feel as if composition is what really needs to be paid attention to with twigs and it’s so easy to get lost in the soundscape, especially towards the end. It’s an immersive feeling, just the synths, bass, and all the various natural sounds. It’s kind of overwhelming, actually, and goes really well with all the vulnerability on display here. Unrelated thought - wow, I miss Aaliyah. “TWO WEEKS” Okay, I know the name of this song because this was the one she performed on Jimmy Fallon, which I watched in passing. There was a whole
theatrical element to it which I thought was cool. Let’s hear it for real this time….HOLD UP, THEY PUT THIS ON TELEVISION?! Wait, I have to go back and watch this again as soon as possible, this song is filthy and amazing. Oh my god, twigs, get it. No way. This is an experience. “HOURS” I titled this review “My First Time” as a joke and now I’m cackling, how appropriate. This whole album is about sex and I’m obsessed. If anything, you know what, I’m more impressed. The idea that a titillating album like this can be released by a female “pop singer” (I’m already questioning putting any sort of label on what twigs is doing) and not just find an audience at all, but to such acclaim where it’s become borderline mainstream is a feat upon itself. In the world of pop music where female bodies are so sexualized in a solely physical sense, I’m so enthralled that a girl can drop an album like this where the sex on display is a fully-realized emotional experience with a soundtrack that sonically mirrors the vastness of feeling your sexuality. Hell yeah, twigs. “PENDULUM” Ugh, I feel ya, girl. Same. Saaaaame. #relatable “VIDEO GIRL” This might arguably be the most conventionalsounding song I’ve heard so far on the album? There’s a very distinct identifiable structure to it and features less of the erraticism that’s found in the other songs. It feels very different in general, actually. The verses in particular are paced more rhythmically making it easier to sing along to, which kind of goes against the drawn out verses found elsewhere. Still a great song, but it kind of sticks out more noticeably as more digestible than the experimental nature of the rest. “NUMBERS” This is the shortest song on the album but it definitely felt much longer. Kind of meh about this one. Falsetto’s pretty though. Everyone loves a good falsetto.
And did well. I’m not sure what I was expecting to hear from LP1, but the question I thought I was supposed to be asking myself was whether or not FKA twigs is the real deal or just a product of manufactured buzz that everyone had managed to feed into. Looking back, the more important question I feel like I keep coming back to is how is this even infiltrating territory normally reserved for pop music?
“CLOSER” Is this the new Twin Peaks theme song? “GIVE UP” I played this one thrice before moving forward. Amazing. Imagine you’re at a well and you’re looking into total darkness, wondering how far down it goes. Then you drop a rock to hear how long it takes for you to hear the clink of it hitting the water, and get really excited the longer it draws out before finally getting to the bottom. That’s the feeling that came over me hearing the little echoes in this song. I’m not sure it makes any sense, but they just bleed into each other and make it sound like one super long echo. It’s a very satisfying feeling.
FKA twigs isn’t a pop singer by nature, of course. You’d probably hear her associated with R&B or electronic music first. The point being more that pop by definition is music that has large mass appeal, which FKA twigs has certainly achieved at this point. However listening to LP1 feels like it’s catered for a very niche audience. Even in her heyday Kate Bush had her detractors and found difficulty breaking into the American market. Is this a sign that people are willing to digest more complicated music? In a day when pretty much anyone can download Garage Band and make their own music without any real instrumentation, has this broadened people’s horizons into accepting even the most eccentric sounds into their stratosphere of pop?
“KICKS” crying emoji that this is the last song. I love everything about this album! I love the originality of its composition. There’s nothing like this. Sure, you can draw similarities. I had a few instances where Kimbra came to mind, but even she is too heavily invested in melody. At risk of sounding pretentious, FKA twigs feels like an artist in the purest sense. She’s found a way to combine different sounds that once layered together can manifest the insecurities she’s singing about. It’s just a weird conglomeration of sounds that make no sense that serve a very specific purpose. Even if there were no lyrics, just listening to the album alone, if I had to put words to what I was feeling they would be “alluring” and “distant” but at the same time. Oh, am I one of those people now? I’ve changed so much in the last hour...
If this is the future of pop music then there’s a whole new world out there.
Favorite tracks: “Two Weeks,” “Pendulum,” “Give Up” Verdict: *changes Facebook religion* Ultimately, I’m really shocked that twigs is getting the reception that she’s gotten. I love what she’s done with this album and I see how there’s an appeal to her ingenuity specifically, but how is it that she’s gotten such a positive response universally? With a sold-out tour under her belt, this isn’t just indie blogs all over this girl. Remember, this is someone who’s booked The Tonight Show.
IT’S HARD TO BECOME
PLATI N U M
by Paris Masoudi
When was the last time you bought an album? Like, physically bought an album? Based on sales in 2014, it was probably 1989, the soundtrack to Frozen, or maybe not even this year at all. With record sales reaching an all-time low, very few people have earned the distinction of becoming a platinum-selling artist. While streaming services have broadened the availability of music directly to the consumers, it’s also complicated digital sales and rendered physical media obsolete. You simply can’t make people pay for something that they can just as easily get for free now. This is the reality we’re living in.
and it’s going to have to just come to terms with the fact that the two are now co-existing. Whether Swift and her label likes it or not, 1989 is for sure flooding torrent sites and there’s no going back.
The one anomaly is Taylor Swift, who following a very public break-up with Spotify, managed to somehow still score her third consecutive platinum album with 1989. In fact, this was the sole album to even remotely near the million-dollar mark for the year. She’s like a platinum-selling unicorn. The genius behind the marketing for 1989 was the added benefits fans got when they purchased physical copies of the album. Once again, Swift partnered with Target to release an exclusive edition of 1989 that featured several iPhone-recorded demos, Polaroids sealed with a kiss, and the prospect of winning various “Swiftstakes” prizes. Cross-promotion might be your best chance at hauling any physical music these days. If you ask Swift herself, she’d probably attribute her album’s commercial popularity with the removal of her catalogue from streaming platforms, forcing those who wanted to listen to her album to actually buy it.
While Swift and others campaign to remove their music from streaming platforms in a move for solidarity, it’s important to also note that not everyone even has the luxury to make a decent living off album sales alone without the aid of revenue generated from streaming royalties. This is where Spotify hugely benefits smaller artists who don’t have the representation to promote them properly. So for artists like Swift, it’s a loss of profit, whereas for others it may be the potential for it. The fact of the matter is platinum is a thing of the past. The sooner the music industry decides to let go of this lost cause, the sooner we can work towards establishing a more viable alternative that benefits everyone. If you ask me, Bandcamp’s “paywhat-you-want” model is something I could personally get behind.
Writing in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal earlier this year, Swift argues, “music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free.” The thing is is that no one thinks music isn’t “valuable”. People just think it should be free. The music industry wasn’t equipped to build a post-Napster model
Photo Credit: APB PR
Photo Credit: Gregory Nolan
by April Salud
// BEST OF 2014 // // ones to watch in 2015 // To say I’ve been very fortunate is a massive understatement. In 2014, I’ve gone from a minimum wage office job to working with people who I’ve admired for years. I’ve been on music video shoots, in the recording studio, and backstage at gigs. It’s been one hell of a rollercoaster.
risen through the ranks of the industry despite being fairly new to the scene. Lead singer Adam Roth and guitarist Frederik Eriksson were a songwriting team when they met keyboardist Sebastian Fritze. After recruiting their friends, Brendan Willing James (bass) and Billy Delia (drums), Grizfolk was born.
About halfway through the year, I went to my first official business meeting with Virgin Records. Frankly, I thought this was going to be the first and only meeting with Virgin Records. What came out of that thirty-minute conference was not only a wonderful working relationship with head of digital marketing, Beau Colburn, but what was going to be my first endeavor with the label: Grizfolk.
Mixing the electro-pop influence from Sweden, where Eriksson and Fritze hail from, and Roth’s red-blooded Americana sound is where Grizfolk truly shines as an alt-rock band. Fusing those genres together is what carries Grizfolk’s contagious melodies and reflect their unlikely merger not only musically but personally.
An alt-rock-folk band formed in Los Angeles but comprised of an eclectic background, Grizfolk has
Signed by director of A&R at Virgin Records, Evan Peters, in late 2013, Grizfolk was immediately
Photo Credit: Gregory Nolan
booked to support Virgin’s biggest success story at the beginning of 2014. “Virgin was there from the beginning and we had a lot of close relationships with people there,” explained Sebastian. “We didn’t have a lot people interested in us, we were just playing shows, and they would come out to see us. It felt familiar and like they were part of our family from the start. They have a fresh team as well. Not a lot of artists are signed [to Virgin] and we felt like we could build something from the ground up.” “[Bastille] was introduced to our music through the label and Kyle [Simmons] had listen to us before. Dan [Smith] asked us to do Boston, New York and Detroit. It was in New York, Dan asked us to do the European tour,” Adam remembered. “We all became really good friends with them from traveling and we share a lot of the same interests.” After those few shows in January, the boys released their debut EP, From the Spark. A triumph in its own right, From the Spark is a joyous explosion of music genres seamlessly crafting various sounds into a signature one that is undeniably unique. Following the release of their EP, Grizfolk continued to tour and when it came time for Bastille hit the road again in early spring, they called upon their new friends to join them.
“We had never played shows that big in our lives. Going over and there and being thrown into was great because we learned how to really play in an arena,” Adam said. “We were used to playing clubs and now all of a sudden we were in front of thousands of people. When we came back from Europe, we reexamined our set and our instrumentation and how we play live because we wanted to maximize our potential. It was a really big learning experience.” After their successful European venture with their labelmates, Grizfolk lent their support to Wild Cub during the summer of 2014. During their homecoming to Los Angeles in August is when I first met them. The El Rey is my favorite venue in all of Los Angeles. It’s beautifully set up with its huge chandeliers and regal red curtains and it’s home to some of my most memorable experiences. I arrived late after-
Photo Credit: Gregory Nolan
“2015 is the year people will really get to know us.” - Adam Roth
noon to join the band for sound check followed by a welcome home party set up by Virgin Records. I remember walking into the venue and was immediately greeted by all members of the band with warmth and enthusiasm. “We’ve heard so much about you,” Adam explained to me. As they started setting up sound check, I noticed more and more people arriving to the El Rey. At the start I was accompanied by Beau and Virgin Records General Manager, Ashley Burns, but then, we were joined by almost every member of Virgin Records and a few from Universal Music Group. There was a sense of community between everyone who
Photo Credit: Gregory Nolan
rallied at the El Rey, which was only amplified at the party a couple hours later. The gathering was part homecoming, part networking, and part actual party since it was Brendan’s birthday (and yes, there was cake). It truly felt like a family celebrating Grizfolk and the people who have helped them along the way. “Our team consists of a bunch of cool people. We’re all friends and we talk every day. We have the same goals. If the band doesn’t succeed, no one succeeds. Everyone is on the same page. There’s no weak link,” Sebastian explained. “With the label, there are no titles. It’s not like, ‘We’re the label and you’re the artist.’ Sometimes the label will decide what the artist will do or vice versa. This is really like a family and it’s all open discussion. Everything from album art to what path we want to take, we’ll call each other and come up with the best solution for both of us. I think that’s really important.”
Photo Credit: Gregory Nolan
After that night, the next encounter I would have with Grizfolk was at Jimmy Kimmel Live when we all came out to support Bastille. I remember being forced into Flaws skeleton girl make up and being
Photo Credit: Gregory Nolan
engulfed by a sea of Styrofoam triangles when I saw Brendan. We caught up and there was a slight pause and Brendan just quietly said, “Man, I really want to play Kimmel.” I told him they’d get there one day.
“[Virgin] put a lot of emphasis on artist collaboration. They don’t want to be a part of it, they just set it up,” Sebastian told me. “They’re like, ‘Here. Meet these people, we think you’ll like each other.’ And we love Ella and we love Bastille. We talk to each other privately. We really build up that family aspect.”
A couple of weeks later, I had to travel to New York for work and of course, I had to cheer both Bastille and Grizfolk on as they took on two sold out shows at Radio City Music Hall. The fact I had just seen Grizfolk a couple months ago playing a small theater and now I was watching them play such a prestigious venue was surreal. They commanded the stage like seasoned pros, winning over the crowd, and further proving if you were going to have a support act…you’ll find no one better than the boys in Grizfolk.
Closing out the year with this family has been such an experience to witness. I don’t think anyone will truly understand how close everyone is. “Being on home turf and playing to so many people in these amazing arenas, we’re back in LA just like, ‘Did that all just happen?’” Sebastian admits. “The guys [Bastille] are our brothers, we’ll be friends for life.”
From Radio City, Grizfolk would join Bastille and Ella Eyre for the last remaining tour dates on the west coast. A full force of Virgin artists, the labelmates seem like an unlikely match up in terms of genres but it’s about much more than that.
That community is something I was happy to be a part of even in the smallest sense of the word. I am by far not as involved or important as anyone else on the team, but the warmth and instant welcome everyone in the Grizfolk camp has given me over the past few months has been overwhelmingly
awesome. “This year has gone by so fast. You have to roll with the punches. You can’t really be prepared to sign to a major record label and what that really means,” said Sebastian. “There’s this team of help working so much and it’s amazing that it happened to us. We put in a lot of work individually and as Grizfolk. It’s been learning process. We’re happy to be where we are.” So where does the world’s best support act go from here? “It’s about making our mark. We’ve been working really hard on our full-length album. 2015 is the year people will really get to know us. We’re looking forward to doing some headline tours and bringing out our own crowd,” Adam explained. “It’s fun supporting other bands but now we want to prove ourselves and do our own thing.” I can’t wait to see the Grizfolk family extended even further in 2015. Hopefully, I’ll be able to be along for the ride in any sort of capacity. It’s been an honor to vagabond with the masters of it.
Find Grizfolk: twitter.com/grizfolk facebook.com/grizfolk www.grizfolk.com
Photo Credit: Gregory Nolan
SAM SMITH NOT SO LONELY ANYMORE
by Ashley Maricich
Photo Credit: Purple PR
// BEST OF 2014 // British singer/songwriter Sam Smith has dominated the music scene in the past year and has won all of our hearts with his flawless voice and perfect lyrics. In honor of his perfection we are going to take a look back at his 2014 year in music. January 2014: Television debut on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon to perform “Latch” with Disclosure Won BBC Sound of 2014 Revealed the album artwork and In The Lonely Hour track listing Won BRIT Critics’ Choice Award February 2014: “Money On My Mind” is released as a single, peaks at number one March 2014: Started first North American tour in Atlanta, GA Performed at SXSW Performed on Saturday Night Live April 2014: Appearance on Late Show with David Letterman with Naughty Boy May 2014: Premiered video for “Leave Your Lover” In The Lonely Hour released “Stay With Me” goes to number one June 2014: US release of In The Lonely Hour Headlined at Coachella Music Festival Performed at Glastonbury Music Festival Became highest selling male UK artist in the US In The Lonely Hour is highest selling album of 2014 in the UK
July 2014: In The Lonely Hour tops charts at number one Featured in Rolling Stone August 2014: Premiere of “I’m Not The Only One” music video Appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Became friends with Kim Kardashian Won Best New Artist at the Q Awards Won Breakout Music Artist at The Young Hollywood Awards Attended VMAs, threw shade with Katy Perry September 2014: Performed at the iTunes Festival in London Performed at BESTIVAL in the Isle of Wight Announced In The Lonely Hour Australian and Spring UK Tour for 2015 October 2014: Featured spread in Teen Vogue Won MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Award for Best R&B/Soul Act, Best Album, Best Song for ‘Stay With Me’ and Best Male Artist. Announced Madison Square Garden concert for January 2015 Sold out Madison Square Garden November 2014: Attended and performed at the American Music Award and won for Favorite Male Pop/Rock Artist. Reached over a million followers on Instagram Won VH1 Artist of the Year Collaborated with Mary J Blige for The London Sessions
November 2014: Took part in Band Aid 30 to record “Do They Know It’s Christmas” “Like I Can” reached number nine on top charts In The Lonely Hour became the second most selling album of 2014 December 2014: Released “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” Received six Grammy nominations for Best New Artist, Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance for “Stay With Me”
Find Sam Smith: twitter.com/samsmithworld facebook.com/samsmithworld www.samsmithworld.com
THIS CAME OUT
... 10 YEARS AGO?
by Katie Collins
So much happened in 2004. Janet Jackson had the first ever wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl, Ashlee Simpson performed her infamous hoedown after being caught lip-syncing on Saturday Night Live, and Britney Spears got married...twice. Oh and also some music actually came out. But...can you believe these were released ten years ago?
Hot Fuss - The Killers (June 7, 2004) This debut album for The Killers made chart success in the US and the UK and has been called one of the best debut albums of all times. In the UK, Hot Fuss reached number one and was the 26th best-selling album of the whole decade, being certified seven-times platinum. With Hot Fuss, The Killers defined music for an entire generation. Combining a catchy hooks and an alternative rock 80s beat with a synth-overlay, they were trailblazers of alternative synth-rock. The Killers have since released three more commercially and critically successful studio albums. This year the band played at a number of festivals after releasing a greatest hits compilation at the end of 2013 called Direct Hits. They stated that they will be taking an “extended break” before recording a fifth studio album. Lead singer Brandon Flowers is working on his second solo album. In the meantime, we always have our annual Christmas release from the band. American Idiot - Green Day (September 21, 2004) Five platinum singles emerged from the release of Green Day’s fifth studio album American Idiot. Selling 267,000 copies in its opening week, American Idiot won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album in 2005 and has sold 15 million copies worldwide. The album had a lot of not-so-undertones relating back to the administration of then US President, George W. Bush. They used their music to describe their feelings about the political nature of the country at the time and showed a new generation that music can be used to create a statement and maybe even influence a movement.
Green Day has been playing festivals recently and “secret shows” under the name Foxboro Hot Tubs and playing shows with previously unheard material. In their first year of eligibility, they were nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The College Dropout - Kanye West (February 10, 2004) The production of Kanye West’s debut album took four years. West was at the wheel of this album the whole time, with executive producer credentials, and steered the ship away from the gangster hip-hop that was being dropped during this time. His lyrics had less to do about the streets and more to do about family, religion, and consciousness related to his own personal struggles. The album rocketed to the near top of the charts, landing at number two on the US Billboard 200 and selling over 440,000 copies in the first week. Five singles would soon make their ways to the ears of the casual listener and all would help West earn the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album in 2005. To this day, it is still West’s best selling album in the United States. Since his debut album, Kanye West has had some ups and downs that have been very public and covered heavily by the media. Back in 2013, West said he was hoping to release his next studio album by mid-2014, but nothing has yet been confirmed.
What will we be talking about in 2024? Will we be talking about what is turning ten years old, or throwing back to the new Weezer and One Direction albums? Music will forever be a history lesson to itself, so here’s to hoping history repeats itself a little in the future and that these influences continue to do their job in helping new generations of musicians find their voices and change fans’ lives for the better.
by Heather Mason
Photo Credit: Darren Ankenman
// ONE TO WATCH FOR 2015 // James Keogh, better known as Vance Joy, isn’t a new musician. While simultaneously working on a law degree in Melbourne, Joy played music at open mic nights around town until deciding to focus solely on his music career. In 2013, he signed a five-album deal with Atlantic Records. The Australian singer-songwriter had a breakout year in 2014, mainly due to the success of his catchy single “Riptide”, which was playing everywhere this summer. His first EP, God Loves You When You’re Dancing, was released in early 2013 and contained “Riptide”, which peaked at number six in Australia. The single’s success led to heading tours and playing festivals around the world. The music video for “Riptide” is a brilliant piece of art depicting the lyrics of the song in a very literal sense. It’s a very artistic video, clearly defining the simple aesthetic and feel in advance of Vance Joy’s full-length album. His debut album Dream Your Life Away was released in late 2014. Dream Your Life Away is a literal dream for indie folk fans. Catchy songs like “Riptide” and “First Time” compliment the slower “Best That I Can” and “Georgia”. The soulful lyrics, raw sound and piercing vocals combine to bring a clear string throughout the album. It all fits together so perfectly without sounding repetitive. A huge 2014 led to what be an even bigger 2015 when Vance Joy begins opening for Taylor Swift on the North American dates of her 1989 Tour. CATCH VANCE ON TOUR: Dec 28 Melbourne, Australia Jan 03 Busselton, Australia Jan 16 Sydney, Australia Mar 05 Gold Coast, Australia Mar 06 Brisbane, Australia Mar 07 Sunshine Coast, Australia Mar 12 Melbourne, Australia Mar 13 Melbourne, Australia Mar 14 Ballarat North, Australia Mar 19 Perth, Australia Mar 20 Mount Lawley Wa, Australia Mar 21 Adelaide, Australia Mar 24 Wollongong, Australia Mar 27 Sydney, Australia Mar 28 Newcastle, Australia
Find Vance Joy: twitter.com/vancejoy facebook.com/vancejoy www.vancejoy.com
Photo Credit: Tim Saccenti
by April Salud
// ONE TO WATCH FOR 2015 // Taking their namesake from the fairy tale “Little Daylight,” which is about a princess who is cursed and only comes alive during the full moon, the Brooklyn based trio has found the perfect balance between light and dark in their music. Featuring catchy electronic hooks and melancholy lyrics, Little Daylight makes you glad you’re feeling something. Forming in 2012, Little Daylight consists of high school friends Nikki Taylor, Matt Lewkowicz, and Eric Zeiler. “We’ve all been close friends before we started Little Daylight,” Lewkowicz told me. “We even worked on music together before we found the sound of Little Daylight. It helps a lot because we know each other so well. We’re past a lot of the bullshit that people who start working together usually go through. I know what they like to eat. I know when they like to sleep. I know what kind of kick drums they’re going to be into. I know what synths they’re going to like. We’re very in tune with each other.” That type of synergy unfolded as the trio created remixes together at a friend’s lake house before making their official live debut as a band in early 2013 at SXSW. Then things escalated…quickly. They signed a deal with Capitol Records, released their debut EP, Tunnel Vision, and then were support for Bastille’s Los Angeles debut at The Troubadour by summertime. “That was a really big show for us,” reflected Lewkowicz. “After that show, Dan [Smith] had approached us and said, ‘We’re doing this US tour and we don’t have an opener yet. We love hanging out with you guys and you’re awesome, do you want to open for us?’ And we were like, ‘Yeah, let me think about that for a min–OK!’”
“One of our managers likes to say, ‘No one’s waiting for your first album.’ You can take as much time as you want on your album and you should try to make it as close to perfect as possible, because then if people like it, they’ll be asking for a second. In a lot of ways, this album is the album we’ve been writing and thinking about for most of our lives. Not to be dramatic about it [laughs]. It was intense and it was wonderful. I’ve been making music for most of my life and I’ve never been involved with something that was this important to me, and to Eric and Nikki. And we accomplished it. There were a lot of highs and lows; trying to figure out what songs to include and how to arrange them. We wrote and produced the whole album and went through so many different stages of life with it.” Hello Memory really is quite the accomplishment. Despite the current climate of the music industry, there is a thing as too much synth-pop…at least bad synth-pop. What Little Daylight has achieved is a style of music that is easy to consume without feeling empty. Taylor’s vocals are dreamy but embody strength, which are reflected in the structure of their songs. Sweet arrangements with dark undertones are what make Hello Memory more than just another electronic album. The more you listen it, the more you uncover the richness of the production as well as the precise execution of it. It’s digestible pop music on the surface but when you really excavate it, you discover a more sophisticated experience all around. “The thing is with really good music…you find stuff in it that wasn’t always intended. We try our best to make it full of life and energy. We just want it to be full of real feelings, sometimes an exuberant amount of feelings. If someone can take that and find something new out of that, that’s the goal.”
From there, the band continued to tour both as headliners and supporting acts like Charli XCX, quickly gaining the much deserved attention for their contagious sound. In 2014, Little Daylight retreated back into the studio to work on what would become their first album.
Find Little Daylight: twitter.com/LittleDaylight facebook.com/littledaylightsounds www.littledaylight.com
FEMME TOUCH by April Salud
Photo Credit: High Rise PR
// ONE TO WATCH FOR 2015 // There’s a new wave of pop slowly coming through whether you’ve noticed it or not. What has been given the spotlight is no longer bland. FEMME is another act out of the UK that is changing the game of pop music. Influenced by artists like Madonna, David Bowie, and Grace Jones, FEMME is all about allowing the visual aspect being a huge part of her persona as a musician. “If anything the music influences my style. My music has a sassy attitude. It has the strong beats with a feminine vocal style to it. You won’t find me in a big floral dress. I like monochrome, color block, big gold jewelry. I like to have fun with what I wear and I think my music is the same way. I don’t like to take myself too seriously.” Fun and vibrant, her music is the definition of infectious. Filled with sugary vocals and backed with brilliantly executed production, FEMME is an artist who we’ll start to look toward to help save us from the boring trends of pop and help continue the British Invasion. “People seem to be branching out a bit more discovering new artists like Banks and FKA twigs, which is great. I think the Internet also helps with that. There are different ways for people to get their hands on new music. I think what’s being promoted in [pop music] is pretty bland and boring. Occasionally something will come through that will change what people think and then they’ll try to copy that for the next six months. The ultimate aim is to be one of the acts where you’re the trendsetter.” With her debut album all set for 2015, the singer is ready to take the world on and hopes that there are people there to come along for the ride. “I hope that every time I step out on stage, the audience gets little bit bigger and singing a few more words. I just want to be able to carry on really and surround myself with people who want to work as hard as I am. It’s been my dream since I was a kid to be on stage and it’s ridiculous that this what I get to do for a living.”
Find FEMME: twitter.com/FEMMEHQ facebook.com/FEMMEHQ www.FEMMEhq.co.uk
Photo Credit Credit: SJM Big Beat Concerts Records
by Robert Jackson
// BEST OF 2014 // Clean Bandit have travelled thousands of miles and gained thousands of fans, and it’s all thanks to the unexpected smash hit that was released in the beginning of the year. “Rather Be” featuring Jess Glynne. The single took the UK by storm, blasting out on every radio station hourly topping the charts for four weeks running and became the fastest selling single of the year. Clean Bandit consists of brothers Jack (vocals and keys) and Luke Patterson (drums) and childhood friends Grace Chatto (vocals and cello) and Neil Milan (violin). Jack, Grace and Neil both attended University at Jesus College, University of Cambridge where they teamed up together to form, Clean Bandit in 2010. In 2014, they released their debut album, New Eyes and have been breaking waves all over the world. One major point about Clean Bandit is that band does not usually sing, while Jack and Grace have sung on a couple of tracks they get other artists to be featured on the song. Their album is filled with collaborations from the likes of Stylo G and Lizzo. Collaborating with other singers isn’t something new. Rudimental has collaborated with Emeli Sandé, Ella Eyre, and Foxes to produce some of their hottest singles. Disclosure also have Sam Smith and AlunaGeorge providing their vocals to their tracks. This method of making music is proving to be successful, with these tracks producing high chart numbers. It allows them to enter different
genres through working with different styled singers as well as having the choice to go with male or female vocals. I first saw the band live when they visited Liverpool for the annual music festival, Sound City. Playing in the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, it was breathtaking to see the energy in a magnificent landmark. Accompanying them, as vocalists were Elisabeth Troy and Florence Rawlings and have toured with the band for the majority of the year. Troy and Rawlings took the songs to a new level. The passion and energy that they put into each performance is astonishing. Shortly after the debut album was released, they jetted off to America for the first time as a band playing to sold out shows. Since then, they have made their way around the festival circuit in the UK, played to even more sold out shows in the US, and was one of the artists asked to participate in Band Aid 30. At the end of 2014, they have collaborated with Jess Glynne again to produce dance track, “Real Love”. 2015 is set to be another crazy year for the band. They have already lined up another UK wide tour, and US tour for the beginning of 2015, along with festivals already being booked for the summer. What’s next for the unexpected hit sensation? Whatever it is, we’ll be right there to with fresh, new
Find Clean Bandit: twitter.com/cleanbandit facebook.com/cleanbandit www.cleanbandit.co.uk
Photo Credit: April Salud
HOW TO RELEASE AN
ALBUM by Katie Collins
No one seems to want to release an album the traditional way anymore. Set a date, release a single or two, and then have a big party the day the album comes out. Well, maybe that’s what Taylor Swift wanted to do, but it seems ever so common that artists are going one of a few roots: the sudden release, the slow release, or the pre-stream.
own hype and once the album did drop, you knew the general gist of what you were in for but I don’t think this “ruined” the album release. If anything, it made me more excited to see how the unreleased songs fit into the ebb and flow of the whole album. An album is an experience, not just a product.
Unless you’re a superstar like Beyoncé, you’re losing the build up: the build up of hype, of fans, of excitement, of promotion. Many artists need to continually and actively work on new fans and the release of singles can help with that tremendously. A sudden release can cause a quick shock wave but may not give you the ability to really latch on to the fan base and sustain the ride on the wave.
Another method has been making your album available for streaming before the official release Artists such as Weezer, Justin Timberlake, and even Paul McCartney have decided to stream their albums in anticipation of a release. Thanks to connections with different websites, YouTube, and even iTunes, artists can have their album available for all to stream, free of charge, leading up to the release. At first glance, this seems to be like an easy way to let people listen to your music on repeat constantly and then not buy the album once it comes out and the fans just move on. However, it allows music critics, professional and amateur, the chance to listen and write before it debuts. That could make or break a release because as we all know, word of mouth can be the greatest way to sell a product. The streaming method is a great way to hook the audience: make them fall in love for a few days before the release and then they will buy it because they can’t live without it.
In stark contrast to the sudden release, we have the slow release method of releasing an album. Going track by track, single by single, and showing the world your creation bit by bit. Jukebox the Ghost did this in 2014 with their self-titled album. It was readily available to pre-order on iTunes and about once a week leading up to the official release, a new track would magically appear in your library. Along with individual promotions with various websites and publications, was the way fans got their JTG fix. They even got their fans involved by direct messaging a select few on Twitter and Instagram a clip of their first single. Each song got its
No matter what method an artist uses, the album drop is one of the most exciting pieces of creating music, for the artist and the listener. The artist gets to share their talents, secrets, wisdom, and passion with their crowd in a physical and electronic matter. The listener gets a brand new experience, a new way to share their feelings, and maybe find that one piece of music to change their life and at the point, does the deliver method really matter? Singles will sell, albums piece experiences together. Whether it is a surprise dropped on you or given to you in little pieces matters less if the quality is up to par. And in the end, that’s all up to the listener.
Our number one culprit of the sudden release: Beyoncé. Back in December 2013, Beyoncé dropped a complete album on iTunes with a corresponding music video to each song. No one knew it was coming. There was a cloak of secrecy around the project because the Queen Bey had felt that there was no longer “meaning” to an album release. So much focus and hype is given to the single that the album as a whole may not get the attention that it deserves.
BE LA PLA Photo Credit: Gregory Nolan
Photo Credit: Debbie Scanlan
Photo Credit: Rationale
ST ID ANS
// ONE TO WATCH FOR 2015 // THE BLUEPRINTS OF
BEST LAID PLANS
by April Salud
At one point in your life you’ve heard either yourself or a friend exclaim that they were going to start a fun, exciting project. “I’m going to start a band!” “I’m going make a movie!” “I’m going write/produce/direct a web series!” “I’m going to start music zine!” (ahem) “I’m going to start a record label!” Well, three friends in the south of London did and the result? Best Laid Plans Records. In the summer of 2014, Mark Crew, Dan Smith, and Braque came together and built a creative channel to nurture and develop music that they believed in. Mark, Dan, and Braque have proven themselves as heavyweights in the music industry over the past few years. The trio have built their reputations as some of the most talented and hardworking producers and songwriters in the business. As their working relationships developed over time, especially with each other, the gears started turning to concentrate more on what truly inspired them.
“All signings so far have been completely natural. If you do music the chances are most of your friends or friends of friends do it too so when you come across someone who has a talent that clicks, you want to work with them,” Braque described. “This has allowed those situations to naturally take shape so everyone has naturally become part of the BLP family.” Mark, Dan, and Braque launched their project with three artists: Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, CHILDCARE, and Rationale. All of them had previous relationships with the trio, whether it was professionally or through friendships. Mark and Rag ‘N’ Bone Man went to school together. Dan and Ed Cares of CHILDCARE met each other in university and are currently housemates. Rationale was brought in as a songwriter to work with Mark and Braque for a couple of artists. “I managed to run into the Best Laid Plans camp purely by accident,” Rationale told THE RADICAL. “I had been writing songs for about ten years and
“We started the label as the three of us have a hugely varied taste in music and wanted an outlet for projects we may be working on or were just simply fans of,” Mark explained. “We wanted to have an outlet for music we loved that we felt needed to be heard,” echoed Braque. “We were working on artists we believed in and wanted to put out. It all happened quite quickly.” So once the foundation was laid out, whom do the three friends sign onto their label? Their friends, obviously.
Photo Credit: Dan Smith
Photo Credit: Gregory Nolan
the way it sort of came together is my publisher at the time put in my session with a guy called Mark Crew. As a producer, Mark works really closely with Braque and we just clicked really well. As a songwriter, I was working with the artists that they were working with and they started to notice that the songs that I was playing with as an idea were quite different than what they had heard before. I thought my love for artistry had died down and I was enjoying writing songs for other people. Naturally, we started working together, putting together a couple of demos and obviously that relationship flourished. That was a couple of years ago, before Best Laid Plans was even alive. They just wanted to keep making records with artists who they really enjoyed.” The first artist to emerge from Best Laid Plans was underground sensation, Rory Graham also known as Rag ‘N’ Bone Man. An incredibly rich and soulful voice, his sound is a mix of his roots of rhythmic blues and today’s trend of electronic beats that have blended into this booming presence known as Rag ‘N’ Bone Man. His EP, Wolves, was released
in July and was free to download, something Best Laid Plans would continue with their entire roster. “At this point, it’s important for me to gain more fans,” Rory explained. “We wanted everyone to have it so why the heck not?” Rag ‘N’ Bone Man is really the basis of what would become Best Laid Plans. The definition of a collaborative effort, Rory’s sound was created through the collective minds of Mark, Braque, Dan, Rationale, and Ralph Pelleymounter of To Kill A King. Though there are a lot of people involved, it somehow didn’t stifle the creative process but rather heighten it to unbelievable proportions. Since everyone connected in BLP are friends in deepest sense of the word, it allows them to be extremely direct with one another. “We all talk very openly about our tastes. When working on things we try and to be as honest as possible with each other and it’s mainly because we are friends,” Braque described. “We all know what the others like so it’s nice when we are all into
“It’s a very small community and that makes it’s easy. It’s really quick to make decisions. Things are very straightforward,” explained Ed. “It’s easy, because we are mates, to just meet up and chat and to speak openly to one another. They know what they’re doing.” The biggest mystery to everyone was the giant question mark that is Rationale. While both Rag ‘N’ Bone Man and CHILDCARE had artist descriptions attached to them, Rational had the cryptic “COMING SOON” below his name when BLP launched. “In terms of the Rationale project, it’s brand new and I’m quite enjoying the anonymity of it all,” he told me. After working on Rag ‘N’ Bone’s music, Rationale realized he had found a healthy and creative work environment and the BLP crew found their next big project.
Photo Credit: Ed Cares
something. Each song comes about in a different way so there is no set method for how we work.” “Each of us have different strengths and we all do things differently when we work separately but when we work on a project together there’s no ego and everyone just knows who’s best suited to a particular task and just lets them crack on,” Mark continued.
“From the depths of being in the creative process and being in a room with really talented people, Rationale was born. Funny enough, the name comes from my thinking of what music as an artist is. Music is the only thing that gives me any sort of clarity.”
Their process has become a well-oiled machine. Braque tends to begin a track; Mark finishes it; and Dan conceptualizes the vision. Throwing other people’s insights to the development elevates the finished product. “Rag ’N’ Bone Man has been around for a while but the focus of Best Laid Plans was to put out a body of work and see what happened,” Rationale said. “What’s happened so far is great because these people who are in a position to help him have and have been able to put together an album that signed him to a major label. And that was just stage one.” In October, BLP’s next artist was unleashed onto the world. CHILDCARE is a boisterous, provocative take on this unique fusion of pop and punk. Born from the mind of Ed Cares, the band started after Ed wanted to bring back the concept of a loud frontman. Mainly working with producer Ben Jackson (also from To Kill A King) with final mixing from Mark, CHILDCARE’s sound is very different from Rag ‘N’ Bone Man but the sense of camaraderie is still alive and present.
Previously signed to a major label at a young age, Rationale found the whole objective was to simply break an artist into the mainstream. Ever since he signed with Best Laid Plans, Rationale discovered a team of people who share his concept and care about the music he’s putting out, not a paycheck. That music is expected to come in the spring of 2015 and according to Rationale sounds like “Morrissey meets Drake.”
“I love being a part of a small little community where they seem to be doing things for the right reasons. They just want to put out good music.” - Ed Cares (CHILDCARE)
The eclectic roster of BLP is opulent and thrilling. It’s hard to imagine that the same team behind a hip-hop soul man is also responsible for a distorted punk star and the next pop synth sensation. The results Best Laid Plans produce within their roster further prove their immense talent. “We overlap loads across everything but the main rule is that we all have to be fans of everything we work on and that we make all the creative decisions together,” Mark explained. Despite their unlikely band of mischiefs, there is something that brings them all together.
“The main rule is that we all have to be fans of everything we work on.” - Mark Crew
“The common factor between Rag ’N’ Bone Man, CHILDCARE, and myself is that each act has a clear vision of what they want to achieve, which is also true of the people behind Best Laid Plans.” Clearly BLP’s strongest feature is their concept of collaboration. Whether it’s directly mixing tracks, offering advice, or simply showing their support of one another. The collaboration spans far beyond working together. Best Laid Plans is family in every sense of the word. “The label is very supportive not only with promotion and being part of the process but on a personal level,” confirmed Ed. “They genuinely want to hear the songs I’m working on and I respect their
Photo Credit: Mark Crew
opinion so it’s nice to have that always around. We go to each other’s shows. We all enjoy each other’s company.” Rationale and Rag ‘N’ Bone Man repeated this sentiment. “They’re very hands on at very different stages. I’m a producer in my own right but they take it to the next level and they’re really good at it. Songwriting is a very strange thing. You’re forced into a room together for two days and you’re supposed to come with something that has that spark. I’ve found it with these guys.” “They are amazing at felicitating my ideas. I explain, sometimes quite crudely, how I want things to sound and they get it,” said Rory. What started out as a side project for Mark, Dan, and Braque, has turned into an ever-growing conglomerate of incredible talents. Though it’s only just the beginning, the people of BLP have always been friends first. Now they’re friends making remarkable things.
Photo Credit: Debbie Scanlan
“It’s early days and I feel very lucky to be a part of it,” reflected Ed. “I love being a part of a small little community where they seem to be doing things for the right reasons. They just want to put out good music.” “The project has been in their minds for awhile,” Rationale revealed. “As producers, they’re just like any other person. They work hard for their passion but they also work hard to make sure they can sustain to live. It’s a strange process. The family has always been around but now there’s this great focus.” We’ve only scratched the surface of Best Laid Plans. Not even a year old, the indie label has discovered and produced some of the most interesting and groundbreaking artists in the industry. While the people behind it have a clear view of what BLP is, they’re still developing what it could fully become. For right now, the main focus is to continue to spread the word about Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, CHILDCARE, and Rationale and adding more to the family. The more attention this wonderful community of artists and people receive, the more the music industry will flourish. Now that’s a plan we can all get behind.
Find Best Laid Plans: twitter.com/BLPrecords facebook.com/bestlaidplansrecrods www.bestlaidplansrecords.com Mark Crew twitter.com/markbcrew Braque twitter.com/braquemusic facebook.com/braquemusic www.braquemusic.com Dan Smith twitter.com/bastilledan facebook.com/bastilleuk www.bastillebastille.com Rag ’N’ Bone Man twitter.com/ragnboneman facebook.com/ragnbonemanuk www.ragnbonemanmusic.com CHILDCARE twitter.com/CHILDCAREBAND facebook.com/CHILDCAREBAND Rationale twitter.com/iamrationale
BREAKING RECORDS by Paris Masoudi
You know who nailed it in 2014? Women in music. Congratulations, girls! A+, you were literally the best. Looking back at what’s defined the sound of the year, there’s undoubtedly been a strong female presence in which chart toppers have endured, which leads me to ask: did men even release any records? *hair flip*
So 2013 was basically a topsy-turvy time to be a woman in music. There’s a huge shift in how we’ve begun to perceive these artists and more so in how those artists begun to perceive themselves.
It’s interesting to examine the year we’ve had when you take into consideration the musical landscape we’d inherited from the year before. In the wake of Miley Cyrus’s controversial VMA performance, the internet was treated with a slew of “open letters” about a pop star’s role in their own exploitation and responsibility to realize what message they were sending to young women. Many of these were illinformed arguments, but the idea is that there was a dialogue happening finally. The mere thought that Miley was just being Miley and not being systematically controlled by male industry executives had been a novel concept.
Leading into 2014, Beyonce’s surprise album was the perfect introduction to what’s been nothing short of a banner year for women. Pop music in general for the first month or two mostly consisted of 2013’s leftovers, featuring tracks where women appeared in a supporting role (i.e. “The Monster” and “Timber”), but perennial favorite Katy Perry made a huge impression with her single “Dark Horse”, breaking not just several of her own but overall chart records in the process. Perry is the only artist to have had a number one single each year of this current decade. The song stayed at the top of the chart for four weeks and was the year’s first real success. It was replaced by the reign of “Happy” which spent ten straight weeks at num-
By this time, Lorde fever was in full swing, having completely taken over the charts with her debut single “Royals.” Not only was this a song she had written herself at the tender age of sixteen, but in a manner of weeks she’d managed to climb to number one on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart and maintained the position for six consecutive weeks. That’s impressive, but only more so when you take into account that no female solo artist had ever topped the chart in Lorde’s ENTIRE lifetime. According to Billboard, of the Alternative chart’s twenty-five year history, there have only been ten female artists to claim a number one. Taking this into account, it must be said that pretty much everything about Lorde is wonderful and regardless of what you think of her music, I’m really glad that there’s a Lorde even out there for young girls to have. We need more teens writing songs for teens, especially the weird ones.
Then Beyoncé Beyonce’d and nothing was the same ever again.
58 Photo Credit: Andrew Whtton
Photo Credit: Ryan McGinley
ber one, easily the year’s best selling single - even now. By the time the year was nearing its midpoint and summer was only just starting, “Happy” finally lost its steam and pop music was starved for a new hit. So the women obliged and gave us several options. Let’s talk about Iggy Azalea. Or Ariana Grande. Or Sia. Or Meghan Trainor. Or Nicki Minaj. Or Charli XCX. Or Lana Del Rey. Okay, let’s just talk about I-G-G-Y first. Iggy in particular was one of summer’s biggest success stories. Apart from the two tracks of her own she was promoting, she even featured on songs by other artists like Jennifer Lopez, T.I., and maybe the one that you heard with Ariana Grande. Her first single saw her get real “Fancy” with Charli XCX and even spawned one of the year’s best music videos. Though released earlier in the year, it wasn’t until the summer when “Fancy” climbed to the top of charts, with Iggy’s collaborated track with Ariana Grande, “Problem”, in constant compe-
tition with one another. Iggy became the first artist since The Beatles to simultaneously hold the number one and number two spot on the Hot 100 chart and only the fourth female rapper to ever reached number one. Speaking of Ariana Grande, she hasn’t had a bad summer herself. In addition to “Problem”, she teamed up with Jessie J and Nicki Minaj on one of the year’s best pop songs, “Bang Bang”. As if a summer of all-female collaborations wasn’t enough, this was the true gem of the summer with all three artists firing on all cylinders, while never outshining one another. You can still be a diva without having to one-up each other. Once again, Grande released another song later in the summer at the same time as Iggy Azalea (her track “Black Widow” featuring Rita Ora) and both girls made some serious history. In August 2014, both Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea tripled up, featuring three songs apiece in the top ten alone (Ariana: “Problem”, “Break Free”, “Bang Bang”; Iggy: “Fancy”, “Problem”, “Black Widow”). In the chart’s entire his-
tory, only ten other artists have managed to do so, only two of which had been women. For one artist to triple up, male or female, that’s pretty insane. In 2014, two women tripled up. At the same time. By the next month, eight out of the ten top singles in the country were sung by female artists. *sings* BANG BANG INTO THE ROOM We’d be remiss if we talked about women in 2014 without bringing up Meghan Trainor, whose bodypositive anthem “All About That Bass” had been the only likely single to out-sell “Happy”. Songs that promote self-love like “All About That Bass” were also in no short supply in a year that went beyond the commercial triumphs of women. Alongside Trainor, there was Mary Lambert who released her single “Secrets” where the singer confesses to all her own secrets, literally, in a bid towards selfacceptance. Nicki Minaj, who has always been a trailblazer for sex-positive feminism, released “Anaconda”, which samples a classic example of sexist hip-hop and recontextualizes its “male-gaze” objectification into a source of female empowerment.
yet, and by handling the marketing of the album on her own terms she’s made herself more accessible to her fans than ever. The number of records Taylor Swift’s album 1989 has broken at this point are immeasurable, but let’s just say that with 1.287 million first week sales no album since 2002 has ever managed to sell so quickly. Contender for the best song ever, Swift’s “Blank Space” holds the current title for number one song in the country, with the rest of the top ten featuring “Shake It Off”, two Meghan Trainor songs, and Ariana Grande’s “Love Me Harder”. Not a bad way to end the year! What makes 2014 unique is that this wasn’t a predetermined plan that this was going to be a year where the women were going to take over, like it’s the flavor of the week or something. Women did well because conditions have finally allowed women to release music that catered to their own experiences. And audiences are responding! Imagine that.
Then there’s Sia, whose aspirations for pop stardom were nonexistent, who has actively ensured that her career never affects her private life by choosing to keep her face hidden from the public. As a musician, her image isn’t something she owes her audience and it’s a right she intends to preserve. She isn’t wrong, but it’s a radical approach nonetheless. These are the artists that are shaping our current cultural climate and rarely is such agency on display on such a broad level. The last quarter of the year belonged to Taylor Swift. She set up shop on the top ten chart and she’s currently chilling with the only platinumselling album of the whole year. Swift’s first foray into “pure pop” has been one of her most lucrative, with her album’s first single “Shake It Off” being one of only 22 (lol) to songs to ever debut at number one. Swift spent four weeks at the top only to be dethroned by...herself. Already an established chart-topper, we’re fortunate that Swift was given such creative control in the overhaul of her sound because her fifth album has produced some of her most incisive and self-aware writing Photo Credit: Purple PR
BEST OF 2014 Alex Caplow (Magic Man) Taylor Swift - 1989 She’s the biggest artist in the world right now and it’s cool to hear all the influences from other artists like Haim, CHVRCHES, and Lorde who are these distinctive sounding bands who have gained success and how that influences more mainstream pop artists Katie Collins (Staff Writer, THE RADICAL) Kate Voegele - The Wild Card EP I’ve been waiting years for new music from Kate Voegele and this year I finally got it. Known for her role in the hit TV show One Tree Hill, this singer-songwriter took some time to find herself after her 2011 album Gravity Happens. The Wild Card EP still holds true to Kate’s acoustic foundation that old fans can grasp on to, but her move from LA to Nashville heavily influenced the composition of the album as a whole. It’s more down-to-earth and definitely fits into the “road trip genre” that she places herself in. It’s the album that’s been on repeat in my car and at work and could really be her break into the mainstream going into 2015. Robert Jackson (Staff Writer, THE RADICAL) We The Kings - Somewhere Somehow Released in mid December of 2013 this album was majorly pushed through the arts of social media, most of the members have a large presence of YouTube where Charles Trippy, the bassist has over one million subscribers. Upon listening to the first song on the album, “Queen of Hearts,” I was instantly hooked because of the upbeat music and vocals paired with the truthful lyrics. The whole album is the sort you listen to over and over again and it never gets old. It has probably been one of my most played album of 2014, and will be again for 2015 without a doubt. Paris Masoudi (Staff Writer, THE RADICAL) BRONCHO - Just Enough Hip to Be Woman Shocking no one, my favorite record of 2014 is undeniably BRONCHO’s Just Enough Hip to Be Woman. Since it was released in September, I would venture so far as to say I listened to this album at least once every day. Realistically speaking, definitely more than once a day. Never has power pop sounded so sexy. It gets me fired up, it chills me out - no matter the occasion, I fell back on this record. I already loved them before, but after this album? I’ll drop everything for them. They’re the real deal. Essential tracks: “Class Historian” “NC-17” “China”
Matt Lewkowicz (Little Daylight) Young Fathers - Dead They’re a Scottish hip-hop group and they’re just one notch above abstract of anything that I would’ve ever thought of. I’m not sure if it’s great music or bizarre music but it definitely has caught my attention. Nick from Tyde Kwabs - Walk EP I saw him at a gig at the beginning of the year and was instantly hooked. He’s got an amazing voice. Heather Mason (Staff Writer, THE RADICAL) Bleachers - Strange Desire Bleachers (the secret project of Jack Antonoff) burst onto the scene in 2014 with a fantabulous album about life, growing up and moving on. Fun of fun anthems like “I Wanna Get Better” and “Wreckless Love”, there isn’t really a track on the album that needs skipping. With electronic beats and heartfelt lyrics, this album was my favorite album of the year. Ashley Maricich (Staff Writer, THE RADICAL) Lewis Watson - The Morning This is Lewis’ first album, although he has released EPs and has done beautiful collaborations, and it is a great one at that. This album is all about heartache and love and if you want a beautiful voice and lyrics to make you sob; he is the one for you. He is just breaking out in America and I am a somber mix of proud mother and jealous girlfriend. April Salud (Editor-in-Chief, THE RADICAL) Jukebox the Ghost - Jukebox the Ghost On their fourth album, Jukebox the Ghost hit restart on their identity as a band and it is working...hardcore. The self-titled release is an unapologetic burst of pop energy but still remains true to the band’s quirky appeal. A non-stop enjoyment of beautifully arranged songs full of verve, it also has hints of emotional ballads to balance out the whole thing. Jukebox the Ghost has perfected the pop album and I’m so ready for them to make it big. Essential tracks: “Girl” “The One” “Long Way Home” FOLLOW THE RADICAL STAFF: APRIL SALUD twitter.com/aprilsalud instagram.com/aprilsalud
KATIE COLLINS twitter.com/katie_collins instagram.com/katie_collins
ROBERT JACKSON twitter.com/robstweetings instagram.com/robjacko
Paris Masoudi twitter.com/parismasoudi instagram.com/parismasoudi
HEATHER MASON twitter.com/nerdheather instagram.com/nerdheather
Ashley Maricich twitter.com/ashohbee instagram.com/ashobee
// ONE TO WATCH FOR 2015 //
Alas, the end of 2014 is upon us. While that might have you down in the dumps, there’s lots to look forward to in 2015. The staff of THE RADICAL has put together it’s top picks for artists to watch out for in the new year.
BØRNS (Heather’s Pick) BØRNS was a beautiful discovery of mine late in 2014. Releasing his debut EP Candy in November, Garrett Borns’ catchy tunes will have you bobbing your head all day. With fantastic lyrical content and a unique sound, BØRNS combines genres. His music is reminiscent of the harmonies of the 70s mixed with electronic influences of today. Can’t wait to see more from him in 2015! Adam French (Robert’s Pick) Adam has recently been heavily featured on the BBC Introducing platform and has recently been to Liverpool Sound City and Reading & Leeds Festival. He has also signed to a touring company and more music is in the works at the moment. He was also recently on BBC Radio 1’s Playlist with “Ivory”. Rhodes (Katie’s Pick) British singer-songwriter that started out in 2013 and was selling out venues in London in 2014. After being featured on BBC Radio 1, he is paced to crack into the mainstream music scene in 2015 thanks to touring with the likes of London Grammar and Sam Smith. He’s a one-man band, playing everything from keys to guitar, but he always has a great support band. He’s currently working on recording his first debut full-length album.
Years & Years (April’s Pick) Years & Years has dominated the buzz blogs for the last chunk of 2014. Bringing more to the genre of dance music, Olly Alexander’s soulful vocals and emotionally charged lyrical content is what really sets Years & Years apart from the rest. Ending the year with several critical accolades and calling the likes of Ellie Goulding and Sam Smith has fans, it’s safe to say that 2015 will be the year of Years & Years.
Ryn Weaver (Ashley’s Pick) The 22-year old San Diego native has taken the music world by storm with her hit single ‘OctaHate’. The song was created with Charli XCX, Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos, and producers Cashmere Cat and Benny Blanco. Weaver is currently in New York performing her first live shows of her EP, Promises. Make sure you keep tabs on this one! Alvvays (Paris’ Pick) I generally feel like Polyvinyl has their shit the most together in terms of what artists they’re willing to associate themselves with and they have yet to really disappoint me in any capacity. A label that boasts bands like Deerhoof, Of Montreal, and STRFKR amongst their roster pretty much have all the bragging rights when it comes to unusual, inventive forms of pop music. I have to say that “unusual” or “inventive” doesn’t really apply to the newly-signed quintet Alvvays. Having said that, I really, really love this band and see bright and shiny things for their future. They’re not pushing boundaries, but what they’ve done in their self-titled, debut record is perfect a tried and true formula and packed it with sentiment, immediacy, and conviction. The delicate nature to Molly Rankin’s vocals in particular kills me and I’ve been wont to refer to her as the gentler, millennial equivalent to Dolores O’Riordan. They have all the qualities required of a truly accessible pop group and have the craftsmanship to back it up. In 2015, the band will find themselves playing to the largest audiences of their career thus far, opening for The Decemberists during their upcoming tour.
An exclusive look into the touring lifestyle with alt-rock band, Grizfolk. Featuring the best of 2014 including Charli XCX, Sam Smith, Brood...