Ambulance LTD – Stay Where You Are

Still one of my all-time favorite songs. Stunningly gorgeous, the kind of track you just get lost in.

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The Obligatory “Amanda’s Top 14 Tracks of 2014” Playlist

It’s nearly the end of December, which means my inbox is starting to explode with lots of “so what were your favorite albums of the year?” messages from friends and colleagues. So far I’ve ignored all of these messages (sorry, pals!) because my mind completely goes blank when I’m asked that question. Why? Because my music ADD is at an all-time high, and I actually rarely listen to full albums.

This is mostly due to the fact that I’ve been the sole curator of Band of the Day app for the past couple of years, which requires listening to an obscene amount of music in order to effectively choose the best bands to feature. To put it into perspective, that’s over 1000 bands I’ve had to choose, which is drilled down from at least 5-10 times that amount of music listening! But hey, if “I have to listen to TOO much new music” is the worst part of the job, it’s not a bad one to be in 😉

Right, back to the matter at hand – my personal list of stand-out tracks released in 2014. I’m too indecisive to rank them, so I’ve taken the lazy way out by posting them in alphabetical order. Hope you discover some gems from this list, and I’d love to hear feedback on what your favorites were (the YouTube playlist up there has every track).

1. Benjamin Booker, “Violent Shiver” – This is a song that had me going, “Whoa. Who IS this guy?” the first time I heard it. Bluesy, gritty, with just a hint of punk.

2. Dillon Francis feat. DJ Snake, “Get Low” – Oh hey, you didn’t realize I also like mainstream music? It’s dirty, ridiculous, and any song that causes such a mass dance floor frenzy every single time is a-OK in my book.

3. Fink, “Looking Too Closely” – Gorgeous vocals, heartbreaking melody, utterly captivating.

4. Hamilton Leithauser, “Alexandra” – Dude from The Walkmen. He’s still got it!

5. Johnny Stimson, “So.Good.” – For a panty-dropping good time, call Johnny Stimson.

6. Kishi Bashi, “Philosphize It! Chemicalize With It!” – I wish I wasn’t scared of trying ‘shrooms. Because otherwise I’d eat a whole bunch, listen to this song, and run around a psychedelic forest wonderland.

7. Michael Jackson, “Love Never Felt So Good” – there’s a 1 in 7 chance that if your song title has the words ‘so’ and ‘good’ in it, it’ll make my playlist (see: number 5).

8. Milky Chance, “Stolen Dance” – I can’t read their band name without thinking of the scene in This Is England when Milky gets beaten up (“Wake up, Milky! Milky, wake up!” cries the little kid). But I digress. Again. Anyway, it’s a song that’s gotten a ton of airplay this year, but one that I’m always happy to hear and never skip over.

9. ODESZA, “Say My Name (feat. Zyra)” – ODESZA is the perfect intersection between glitchy electronic pop and indie pop, and Zyra’s vocals are hypnotic as she sings, “I wanna dance, I wanna dance, I wanna dance with you/So take a chance, take a chance”

10. Porter Robinson, “Sad Machine” – I still get chills from the opening melody of this song. Stunning!

11. Rich Aucoin, “Are You Experiencing?” – Hands down, one of my favorite live acts EVER (please watch the video to see what I mean!). And this song is pretty much the epitome of sonic serotonin: uplifting, makes you feel alive. ❤ ❤ ❤

12. Terror Pigeon, “Girl!” – Another one of those ‘makes you feel so alive’ tracks. Starts out a little slow, but then builds up into an explosion of awesomeness. I can only imagine how much fun they must be in concert, and I’m hoping to catch them in 2015!

13. White Arrows, “We Can’t Ever Die” – One time a dude hit on me by asking, “do you #YOLO?” I wanted to say, “No sir, because that’s not grammatically correct!” But I didn’t. And now I’m guessing by the title of this song that White Arrows also don’t YOLO. #TeamImmortality #FTW

14. Yellerkin, “Solar Laws” – Love at first listen. Seriously, how could you not fall in love with those melodies and vocals?

2014 Music Trend Report: Are males downplaying their love of female-fronted bands?

This was first posted for Band of the Day app on 9/30/14 over at: http://bit.ly/mvsfbands

It’s hard to believe we’re about to begin the tenth month of the year — that’s nearly 300 new bands we’ve featured just in this year alone! Fueled by one too many cups of coffee, and sheer curiosity/music geekery, we decided to take a look at the data of all of the bands we’ve featured in the app this year to see if we could determine any trends on what types of bands are defining the 2014 emerging music scene. We looked at three key data points from the app (number of song plays, number of social media shares, and number of buy button taps), to find the top ten bands in each category. Here are the results (click on the band names to listen to their music):

Most Song Plays

  1. The OK Social Club
  2. The Fratellis
  3. Quiet Company
  4. Drowners
  5. Megan Bonnell
  6. Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
  7. Kayleigh Goldsworthy
  8. Deaf Havana
  9. Lily & Madeleine
  10. Sumie

Most Music Buys

  1. The OK Social Club
  2. Megan Bonnell
  3. Lily & Madeline
  4. Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
  5. Kayleigh Goldsworthy
  6. The Fratellis
  7. Takenobu
  8. Quiet Company
  9. Western Lows
  10. Sumie

Most Social Media Shares

  1. The OK Social Club
  2. Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
  3. Quiet Company
  4. Cherri Fosphate
  5. The Fratellis
  6. The Sounds
  7. Drowners
  8. XXANAXX
  9. Basecamp
  10. Chicks Who Love Guns

Breaking it down by category, we noticed a few trends that popped up. Just based on song plays alone, female singer-songwriters are dominating the results, followed closely behind by British guitar-heavy rock bands. The ladies are also dominating the Most Music Buys category, followed by rock and folk bands. We theorized that the results for Most Social Media Shares would also follow a similar pattern but, after looking at the data, we noticed that it was actually completely different. Rock bands are most likely to be shared publicly on user’s social media networks, followed by electronic and folk bands.

image

So how can this variance possibly be explained? Digging one layer deeper, we know that 61% of our Band of the Day users are male, while 39% are female. Given this statistic, could this mean that, while the majority of users (both genders) spend more time listening to female singer-songwriters, males are less inclined to publicly share their love of female singer-songwriters, opting to publicly portray a more “masculine” taste in music with heavier guitar rock? While we can’t conclude definitively, and just have a small sampling of the 2014 emerging music landscape, the numbers seem to suggest that this might be the case. Have a different theory on why this might be? Feel free to share your insights by leaving a comment at facebook.com/bandoftheday or tweeting @bandoftheday. </endmusicgeekmode>.

Made it to band #1000 on Band of the Day app!

Note: this was first published in Band of the Day app on June 6, 2014

The Strokes

It’s hard to believe that today we’re featuring our 1000th Band of the Day. Instead of exposing you to an unknown band today, we’ve decided to mark this special occasion by taking it back to one of the bands responsible for sparking our own obsession with music discovery: The Strokes. Thirteen years ago, the five New Yorkers — Julian Casablancas (lead vocals), Nick Valensi (guitar, vocals), Albert Hammond, Jr. (guitar, vocals), Nikolai Fraiture (bass), and Fabrizio Moretti (drums) — released their debut album Is This It (2001). Almost immediately it received critical acclaim across mainstream and independent music publications, being cited as one of the greatest rock albums of the 2000s and selling millions of copies worldwide. Since then, the band has kept the momentum going with the release of four additional albums: Room On Fire (2003), First Impressions of Earth (2006), Angles (2011), and most recently 2013’s Comedown Machine.

But going back to the Is This It era, it was a time when smartphones and music discovery apps didn’t exist. Most of us discovered new bands the old-fashioned way: radio, television, music magazines, snarky record store clerks…or in my case, snooping through my older brother’s Winamp files on our family’s shared computer. Instead of finding some type of incriminating evidence against him, I double-clicked a song at random, and turned the speakers up. The song was “Hard To Explain” (from Is This It), and I remember this visceral, overwhelming sensation of feeling completely captivated by the music. It sounded nothing like the top 40 radio hits and MTV chart-toppers I normally listened to as a teenage girl coming of age in the early 2000s. Immediately I queued up the rest of the songs on the album, and listened on repeat until I was kicked off the computer.

Needless to say, it didn’t take long for The Strokes to oust ‘N Sync as my new favorite band — lead singer Julian Casablancas was now the top JC in my life (sorry JC Chasez). I bought every magazine with The Strokes on the cover, joined their online forum to meet like-minded fans, and went to all of their concerts when they came through town. One of the most important effects of this teenage devotion was that their music opened up an entirely different world of music to what I had always known. I learned about iconic bands who The Strokes cited as influences, like the Velvet Underground, Television, and New York Dolls; and their contemporaries, like The White Stripes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Libertines, and Interpol. Music discovery became an essential part of life, a part that I’m now honored to share with all of you on a daily basis.

So today, instead of exposing your ears to the next best unknown band, I hope you enjoy taking a journey through the musical history of The Strokes with our selection of featured songs from each of their five albums. – Amanda Van West (@amandabomb)

The Strokes New Single: Undercover of Darkness

To say that I used to be completely, utterly obsessed with The Strokes is a bit of an understatement.

As a 16 year-old high school girl in 2002, once I heard “Hard To Explain” and “Last Nite”, I never looked back.

I joined their official fan club. I went to as many of their concerts as I could. I posted on their music forum. I bought every single music magazine that featured articles on them. I devoted nearly every single blog post to them. I proudly wore their t-shirts. They were even the muses for my high school art assignments:

Drawing of Julian Casablancas, by Amanda Van West

But, like many young bands on the scene, nothing is permanent. As I grew out of my teeny bopper Strokes-obsessed phase, the band produced two more albums, before pretty much disappearing over the last 5 years.

They never officially split up, but most of the band members were busy with side projects, and it seemed like The Strokes might not ever produce music together again.

Undercover Of Darkness

That is, until today. For the first time in 5 years, The Strokes have released a new song: “Undercover Of Darkness.”

This is the first single off of their forthcoming album, Angles, which will be released on March 22nd.

While I was waiting for the song to download (it’s available for free for the next 48 hours on their official website), all of those giddy, 16 year-old teeny bopper feelings came bubbling to the surface again.

Even upon listening to the first few notes of the song, and to Julian’s distinct, yearning-yet-gritty voice, crooning away ambiguous lyrics, little goosebumps actually formed on my arms.

“Undercover Of Darkness” has the classic, Is This It?-era Strokes sound: upbeat, jangly guitars and a feeling that is simultaneously nostalgic and melancholic.

You know that feeling that you get when you meet someone new, but you feel like you’ve known them forever? Yet, you’re still excited about what they’re going to bring to your life, so you want to hang out with them as much as possible to soak up their awesomeness.

“Undercover Of Darkness” is like that new person, and my iTunes is getting a very hefty dose of it–repeatedly!

Hopefully the rest of Angles will live up to the expectations set by “Undercover Of Darkness.” In the meantime, “I’ll wait for you!”

RIP The White Stripes

I distinctly remember the first time I had ever heard The White Stripes. It was over 7 years ago, when I was 17 years old, and it was the summer before starting my senior year of high school.

At this point in my life, I wasn’t the music geek that I am today. I listened to whatever was on the radio, or whatever my friends listened to.

It was one of those hot and sticky summer days in Santa Clara, the kind that makes you feel like a Kirkland Signature ham, glistening with sweat instead of a sweet honey glaze. The kind where your ghetto air conditioning (aka spraying a cold water bottle into a fan) just doesn’t cut it. On those types of days, my mom and I would escape to the air conditioned confines of Valley Fair Mall.

I remember walking into Macy’s Men & Home, looking up at the television screen, and seeing this music video:

At the time, I had no idea who the band or what the song was. But I had to find out. It was so different from everything else that I listened to, but something about it resonated with me.

Later that evening, after probably Googling something like “what’s that lego video?”, I discovered that the band was called The White Stripes, and that the song was “Fell In Love With A Girl.”

A subsequent trip to Rasputin Records, and I was officially the proud owner of “White Blood Cells.” I don’t know how many times I listened to that album that summer, or since then, but it remains one of my all-time favorite albums.

Candy Cane Children

Come September, I had the chance to see The White Stripes at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. And it was only my second concert ever.

To this day, after going to hundreds of concerts, this is still one of the all-time best live performances that I have ever seen. The chemistry between Jack and Meg was electric, the songs sounded so raw and explosive, and the audience–a sea of red and white-clad people–was hanging onto every note.

I’ll never forget how The White Stripes helped set me on the path to a fantastic music scene, or how their music makes me feel.

Like many other ‘Candy Cane Children’ out there, I’m devastated to hear that they’ve split up.

But, as they say, the music lives on. Even though I’ll never see them live again, I know that I can pop in “De Stijl” or “Get Behind Me Satan” and relive those memories.

RIP, The White Stripes!

Chuck Berry Poked Me In A Gang Bang: The Postelles Tell All!

“My name is Daniel, and I’m here for the Gang Bang!” It’s less than ten minutes into my interview with The Postelles’ Daniel Balk (vocals, guitar) and John Speyer (Bass), and somehow we’ve stumbled onto the topic of the little-known McDonald’s secret menu.

We’re sitting backstage at The Independent, the location of this New York City band’s first-ever concert in San Francisco, and the band seems eager to show the Bay Area hipsters what they have to offer.

And what they have to offer are succinct, endorphin-inducing songs that sound like the brainchild of The Strokes and Phil Spector after drinking dozens of Tom Collins and playing vigorous rounds of canasta.

After being in San Francisco for just a few hours, I ask the guys what excites them most about the city, and what they’ve had a chance to see so far.

Daniel: We’ve heard it’s a great city, so I think everything excites me right now.
John: I think it’s also like a really rich city, in terms of musical history.
D: And rich people.
J: That’s what’s really exciting, we’re hoping to meet some rich people! (laughs)
What have you guys seen so far?
D: We got here an hour ago, so not much.
J: We saw this Jordanian kebab place (laughs).
D: We saw you!
J: We got some great coffee.
It was really good coffee! (Note: It was at Bean Bag Coffee House on Divisadero)
J: Yeah, at the bean place. It was really good. I got the Sumatra blend.
Ooh, fancy. Was it like Fair Trade, and organic?
J: I hope so, because I only drink that. ‘Cause that’s really easy on tour.
I guess so.
J: No, it’s not at all! (laughs) Organic food is the hardest thing to buy on tour.
D: McDonald’s is easy!
Did you know that McDonald’s has a secret menu?
J: No, like In-N-Out?
I dunno, I was reading this article and I saw that they have one called ‘The Gang Bang.’
D: The ‘Gang Bang’?

J: “Hi, welcome to McDonald’s, I’m here for the gang bang!” (laughs)
D: Are you sure they were talking about McDonald’s?!
Yeah, apparently it’s like a Big Mac with a chicken sandwich stuck in the middle.
J: Can you order it animal-style? “Can I get the Gang Bang, animal-style?”
I dunno!
D: “I’m here for the Gang Bang…animal-style!” It sounds better in my voice.
J: Yeah, you are the singer. It’s more natural. Your vocal quality is higher.
I think you guys should sing that tonight. You should make a song about the Gang Bang.
D: When I walk on stage I’ll say, “My name is Daniel, and I’m here for the Gang Bang!”

Getting Poked By Chuck Berry

Feel like getting gang banged by The Postelles? You can try your luck on Twitter. Like many up-and-coming bands these days, The Postelles are no strangers to the power of social networking. So how has new media has affected their interaction with fans?

D: It makes it more personal. Because immediately after a show you’re already getting a few responses like, “Great show!”
J: Or, “Terrible show!”
D: Yeah, “Terrible show!” And then we say, you know, “Fuck you!” back (laughs). No, it definitely makes it more intimate.
J: I think the coolest thing is we went on Facebook and asked where should we go. And people actually told us.
D: We literally went on and said, “Where do you want us to play?”
J: And half of them were St. Louis for some reason.
D: Probably because of the Kings Of Leon.
J: Oh yeah. So we were like, “Ok, we’re going!” And we went!
D: It was funny because there were like 70 responses and we were like, “I dunno. Should we go to St. Louis?” And the next response was from Chuck Berry. And he was like, “Yeah you guys should come to St. Louis!” (Jon laughs) And then he poked me!
Wait, Chuck Berry poked you on Facebook?
J: That should be your headline!
This is breaking news!
D: And then I poked him back. (laughs)
J: He’s totally lying. I actually have a friend who works at Twitter who’s coming tonight, so there you go, social networking!
D: Nice change of subject! Jon’s actually a pathological liar.
J: You’re a pathological liar. Twitter’s actually gonna be here! I’m gonna tweet my friend from Twitter, here, from the stage.
So how was Chuck Berry?
D: It was awesome! Supposedly he “dug” us.
He dug you?
J: According to the keyboardist. We’re telling everybody that!
Are you gonna put that all over Twitter?
J: Chuck Berry says, “I dig you!”

"I dig you!" -Chuck Berry

D: I actually tattooed it to my chest.
That is a good tattoo to have.
J: You don’t wanna know where it is.
D: I said chest!
J: Yeah, but that’s not true. (laughs)

Their Milkshake Brings All The Boys To The Yard

True or not, it’s hard to imagine Chuck Berry not digging The Postelles. Because what other band would play my ridiculous photo game?

What is the photo game? Let’s start with a brief background story:

I found a used roll of film in a camera at a charity shop in London. A small donation later, and the mysterious roll was mine!

Last week, I finally made the trip to CVS to get it developed.

The following photographs were the only pictures on the entire roll of film. Let me just reiterate that I have no idea who these people are, where these pictures were taken, or even when they were taken.

So I’ve asked Daniel and John to look through the photos and decide what music these people might be listening to in each one.

Photo #1

"YMCA" The Village People

D: I would say “YMCA” by The Village People.
J: Yep!

Photo #2

Girl Talk

J: The second Girl Talk album!
D: I would say “YMCA” again!

Photo #3

Milkshake

D: Ooh, “My Milkshake Brings All The Boys To The Yard”!
J: Yep! Yep, definitely.

Photo #4

That tho-tho-tho-tho-thong

D: Uhh…”Thong Song”!
J: “Thong Song”! (laughs)

Photo #5

"Smells Like Teen Spirit"

(Both are momentarily consumed with laughter on this one.)
D: I would say “Smells Like Teen Spirit”!
J: That was sweet!
D: That was a fun game, can we keep playing that game?

The Postelles: Coming To An Underwater Venue Near You! (Maybe)

The photo game may be over, but it’s never too late for the money game.

Ok, so if you had all the money in the world…
J: Which we do.
D: Yeah, because we’re robbing a bank tomorrow, like we said before.
What would be your dream gig? I’m talking location, line-up, everything.
J: We would probably play underwater. Like, accessible only by submarine. And, uh, you know that John Lennon is still alive? He would probably headline the festival.
John Lennon would headline the festival?
D: Huge, breaking news!
J: Dude, he’s been living in Argentina all this time!
D: Juan Lennon?
J: Yeah, and Elvis is still around. He’s old.
D: And where does he live?
J: In Argentina! Yeah dude, and Tupac! So John Lennon, Elvis, and Tupac would headline the festival under the sea, accessible only by submarine. And Roy Orbison would probably open for us.
D: You did not answer that question, at all! You know what? You’re a pathological liar!
J: You’re an avoider!
D: We’re breaking up!
So much breaking news in one interview!
D: This will be the first night we’re not sleeping together in one bed.
J: That’s true.
Aww, separation anxiety?
D: We both have girlfriends, and when we get back to New York we have to tell them that we won’t be sharing a bed with them.
J: For two nights! And then we’ll do a four-person bed.
D: And so the girls will have to stand on the side of the room and just watch while we hold hands and cuddle.
I guess that kind of answers my next question…
D: Do we have girlfriends? Yes, we have girlfriends.
No, how do you unwind on tour?
J: Cuddle!
D: Well, I like to preserve water in the shower. Let’s put it that way…
J: Billy (Cadden, drummer) and I do crossword puzzles. Or I try to do Ab Ripper X.

P90X?
J: Yes! Well, this is more hypothetical. Billy’s like, “You know what? I’m gonna drink a lot tonight and then go home and do Ab Ripper!”
D: But we have gone to the gym.
J: Yup, we have been going to the gym.
What, the YMCA?
J: No, we’ve actually gone to the gym! It’s hard on the road to stay in shape, but we try to do it. Brian, our tour manager, is actually our life coach.
D: Our life manager!
He’s like the Tony Robbins of the tour?
J: Yeah, and he’s also an amazing driver.

Breaking News (again!)

Ok, so you guys have probably heard that Coachella has sold out.
D: No, breaking news!
Yes, breaking news again! How would you go about sneaking into Coachella?
D: It’d be nice to actually play Coachella.
J: We’d dress up as a band, probably. Just walk right in.
D: People always say I look like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, so I’d probably just walk in and say I’m Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

JGL or DB?

DB or JGL?

J: Billy looks like everybody. Billy’s one of those people that people always say he looks like someone, every attractive person.
So what’s been your proudest band moment so far?
D: Wow, good question. I would say playing in Iceland was really cool.
J: Yeah, Iceland was cool!
And finally, what’s next for The Postelles?
D: We have a show in like, twenty or forty minutes. That’s literally what’s next for us! Well, we’re gonna be touring a lot. Our debut album comes out in April.

Thanks, guys! To hear the full, unedited (but shitty audio quality) interview, click here.

The Postelles are Daniel Balk (Vocals, Guitar), Billy Cadden (Drums), David Dargahi (Lead Guitar), and John Speyer (Bass). Be sure to check out their website here to stay up-to-date on the latest news, and to listen to some sweet tunes!