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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Artists to Check Out

Author:
glades

By Stephanie Wang

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a designation to celebrate the culture, traditions, and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. As a child of immigrants from China, my Asian American identity has been a core part of my identity, allowing me to experience both the cultures of China and the United States. In celebration of this month and recognizing that there’s not a ton of representation of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in music (and frankly, in the media in general), I’m highlighting some of my favorite Asian American and Pacific Islanders artists that definitely deserve a listen.

glades

1) GLADES –

A trio from Sydney, Australia, GLADES create dreamy, electro-pop. Meeting in high school, the three formed GLADES in 2015. They first gained attention after Troye Sivan tweeted out a video of their cover of his song “Fools”. In 2016, GLADES released their first EP, “This is What I Like.” Coming off tours with LANY and Clean Bandit and a new catchy single called “Do Right,” GLADES is definitely on the rise up. Currently, they’re selling out venues for their May headline tour around Australia.

Listen To: Do Right, Drive, Skylines

run river north

2) Run River North –

Previously known as Monsters Calling Home, Run River North is an indie rock band from Los Angeles, California. You may recognize them from a Jimmy Kimmel performance they landed after their self-produced music video for “Fight To Keep” featured their Hondas and gained the attention of the carmaker itself. Vocalist Alex Hwang, in an interview with Sound of Boston, speaking on being an Asian American band in the music industry, “On one hand, since there aren’t many (if any) widely popular all Asian American bands, we’re able stand out amongst a predominantly bearded white majority. This feeling is always affirmed whenever we’re done with a show and a handful of people will make it a point to come up to one of us to tell us that they did not expect our sound coming from our group. But the flip side is that we could be easily labeled as a gimmick or just seen as the ‘Asian’ version of that white folk, alt-rock, indie band that people love.” They’ve released two albums, Run River North (2014) and Drinking from a Salt Pond (2016). In addition, Run River North just released a new single earlier this year, “Funhouse,” and will be on tour early May around the mid-west.

Listen to: 29, Run or Hide, Superstition

mitski

3) Mitski –

A Japanese American indie singer-songwriter, Mitski Miyawaki graduated from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music, releasing two albums while she was in school (Lush in 2012 and Retired From Sad, New Career in Business). Since graduating, she’s released two critically-acclaimed albums, Bury Me At Makeout Creek (2014) and Puberty 2 (2016). Her music reflects her cross-cultural identity as “half Japanese, half American, but not fully either,” and many of her songs explore themes of not belonging and vulnerability. Currently, you can find Mitski opening for Lorde on her Melodrama Tour.

Listen to: Your Best American Girl, First Love / Late Spring, I Bet On Losing Dogs

zhu

4) ZHU –

Born an only child, per the Chinese national mandate, Steven Zhu, known as ZHU professionally, immigrated to San Francisco with his parents when he was five. At first, ZHU released his electronic music anonymously, determined to let his music speak for itself. It paid off as ZHU would later land a deal with Columbia records and win a Grammy Award nomination for Best Dance Recording in 2015 for his song “Faded,” all without showing his face. Since then, he’s released his first album, GENERATIONWHY in 2016, which featured a collaboration with Skrillex and included a short film he wrote. More recently, he released the single “My Life,” a collaboration with Tame Impala. About his music, Zhu has said, “This project is all about art, and we try to make it all about the songs and the response. Being able to have everyone focus back on music is the first step. But the second is to have influence and have people care.”

Listen to: Hometown Girl, Generationwhy, Faded

hayley kiyoko

5) Hayley Kiyoko –

Hayley Kiyoko is having a great year – earlier this year, she released her first album, Expectations, she’s gained mainstream media attention and a cult following, and she’s going on a headlining tour before touring with Panic! At the Disco and A R I Z O N A later this summer. You may recognize her from the Disney movie “Lemonade Mouth” (where she played Stella) or as Velma from the Scooby-Doo movies. Kiyoko is an openly gay, half-Japanese pop artist who sings about her experiences loving girls and directs her own music videos.. She spoke about the importance of LGBT representation in music in a Billboard interview, saying, “I think [queer artists are] what’s giving people encouragement to really be more comfortable with themselves.”

Listen to: What I Need (ft. Kehlani), Cliff’s Edge, Gravel to Tempo

Other recommendations: TRACE (Listen to: Honey, Low, and Away), SALES (Listen to: Chinese New Year, Ivy, and Jamz) , No Vacation (Listen to: Yam Yam, Dream Girl, and August), The Naked and Famous (Listen to: Punching in a Dream, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, Hearts Like Ours), EDEN (Listen to: Float, Nocturne, Rock + Roll), Superorganism (Listen to: Everybody Wants To Be Famous, Something For You M.I.N.D, The Prawn Song), Thao and the Get Down Stay Down (Listen to: Nobody Dies, Holy Roller, and Meticulous Bird), Son Lux (Listen to: Lost It To Trying, Dream State, Easy), Japanese Breakfast (Listen to: Boyish, Road Head, Diving Woman), San Fermin (Listen to: Emily, Jackrabbit, Asleep on the Train)

PBG’s Alternative/Indie Albums to Look Forward to in 2018

Author:
stephanie4

By Stephanie Wang

2017 was a great year for music, but it’s looking like 2018 may be an even bigger year, especially for alternative and indie fans, with highly anticipated releases from artists like Fall Out Boy, the 1975 and the Arctic Monkeys. While many of these artists have remained silent on the titles and/or dates, they have, at the very least, confirmed that they will be releasing a full-length album in 2018. Here are some that I’m most excited for:

EDEN – vertigo, January 19th

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Formerly releasing dance and electronic music under the alias The Eden Project, 22-year-old Jonathan Ng is now releasing music more subtlety electronic as EDEN. A sharp departure from other musicians, EDEN is a mult-instrumentalist who writes, plays, and produces all of his own music, writing and recording in his own bedroom and even going live on Periscope to play covers and original songs for fans.

Vertigo will mark his first full-length debut, after releasing his 2016 EP i think you think too much of me and his 2015 EP End Credits. EDEN has already released three singles from his full-length due January 19th, 2018 – “start//end,” “gold,” and “crash” – all three deeply personal and emotional songs tackling themes like heartbreak, change, death and new beginnings. EDEN has said, “Releasing this body of work is terrifying and overwhelming for me. A lot of it is so personal. This album is not a coming-of-age story, but it caused one.” In support of his album release, EDEN will also be touring the US and Europe in 2018, with many of the dates already sold out.

BØRNS – TBA, January

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While Garrett Borns aka BØRNS hasn’t officially announced a date or name for his follow-up album to the breakout 2015 debut album Dopamine, in interviews he’s revealed that it’s set to release in January. Since releasing his debut album, BØRNS has gone platinum, sold out headlining theater shows, and performed at huge festivals like Lollapalooza and Coachella. He’s released three singles from the album including “Faded Heart,” “Sweet Dreams,” and “I Don’t Want U Back.” About the sophomore album, BØRNS has said he’s tapped from a “futuristic Beach Boys register.” Typically drawing from older inspiration, namely 60s and 70s rock, he has said that this album is more orchestral and layered, and if the three singles he’s already released are anything to go by, it’s clear that his sophomore album will once again be filled with expressive indie jams.

Rhye – Blood, February 2nd

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Beginning by releasing several singles online without giving any indication as to their identity, Rhye’s origins were defined by mystery, particularly given the androgynous-sounding vocals complemented by synths and piano. With the 2013 release of Woman and resulting tour, the identity of Rhye is no longer a secret, and now, their sophomore album Blood is set to release February 2nd after a pair of two summer singles in 2017, “Please” and “Summer Days.” Three singles from the LP – “Please,” “Taste,” and “Count to Five” – have already been released, and from these songs, it’s clear that the sultry, R&B influence that distinguished their first album is still there. In support of their album, Rhye will be touring throughout North America and Europe in the spring.

Hayley Kiyoko – Expectations, TBA

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After teasing on social media that the name of her debut album was hidden in a picture, Hayley Kiyoko later revealed that her first album would be called Expectations and released in “#20GAYTEEN”. Formerly known as playing Stella in Disney’s Lemonade Mouth movie and Velma in the Scooby-Doo films, Hayley Kiyoko has since been releasing music determined to share her narrative as a gay woman.

What makes Hayley Kiyoko so different from other musicians is not just her background in acting- it’s also her portrayal of LGBTQ+ characters/relationships in several of her music videos and the authenticity of which she does this. She’s since released three EP’s – A Belle to Remember in 2013, This Side of Paradise in 2015, and Citrine in 2016. In 2017, she released three singles – “Sleepover,” “Glory Days” in collaboration with Sweater Beats (who opened for her on her One Bad Night tour in 2017), and “Feelings.” While she hasn’t revealed a specific date for which her full-length album will be released, one thing is sure: it’ll be an album to remember.

The Japanese House – TBA, TBA

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After releasing a series of EP’s (2017’s Saw You in a Dream, 2016’s Swim Against the Tide, 2015’s Clean, and 2015’s Pools to Bathe In) and touring with the 1975, the English indie-pop act the Japanese House is finally releasing a debut full length due in 2018. Known for moody minimalist electronic pop some have described as a mix between Wet and the xx found in songs like “Clean” and “Cool Blue”, the Japanese House brings a unique sound. When first listening to the her, many thought that the Japanese House was another project of the 1975 featuring the vocals of Matty Healy – most are surprised to find out that the Japanese House consists only of 22-year-old Amber Bain.

Potentially teasing the release on social media, she posted 24 photos numerically labeling each one, leading fans to speculate that the album may include 24 songs. In interviews, Amber has revealed that the album will be mostly newer songs, with perhaps one or two songs pulled off of previous EP’s.

Other 2018 Releases: Porches – The House (January 19th), Fall Out Boy – MANIA (January 19th), Franz Ferdinand – Always Ascending (February 9th), Vampire Weekend – Mitsubishi Macchiato (TBA), MGMT – Little Dark Age (TBA), the 1975 – Music for Cars (TBA)

Artists who Plan to Have 2018 Releases*: CHVRCHES, Pale Waves – TBA, Florence and the Machine, Death Cab for Cutie, Courtney Barnett, Carly Rae Jepsen, Grimes, Arctic Monkeys, Bastille

*both name of album and date is unknown but band has said on social media/interviews that an album will be coming in 2018

PBG’s Best of 2017: Music

Author:
music4

By Sophia Simon-Bashall

EVERYONE’S ‘best of 2017’ list features Lorde’s stunning sophomore album ‘Melodrama’. As wonderful as that album is, it’s not the only one to be released this year. It’s been a painful year to be a music lover, particularly for rock and alternative fans. Equally, our ears have been blessed with some amazing new sounds – many of which came from women. It’s important that we celebrate that.

Around U, MUNA

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MUNA are a band who will make you feel looked out for, make you believe that there is still good in the world – that there is good in yourself. Their debut album, ‘Around U’, is empowering from start to finish, in both its lyrical content and its dance-pop sounds. There is reflection throughout, both on personal experiences and on the wider world – the latter most present on the single ‘I Know a Place’. It is an album which leaves the band exposed, but strong. It can do the same for listeners, too.

After Laughter, Paramore

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Paramore have been one of the most exciting bands around since they emerged with their debut, ‘All We Know Is Falling’. They’ve evolved thoroughly with each album cycle, so much so that many – particularly in emo and punk scenes – have been quick to say, “they’ve changed”, as if that’s a negative. But if you really listen, it’s all a natural progression – they’ve not forced themselves into any box, and their music is better for it. ‘After Laughter’ is, unquestionably, their strongest album; one which defies categorisation as either pop or rock. Frontwoman Hayley Williams is painfully frank about struggling with mental health throughout the record, something which was immediately startling on the lead single ‘Hard Times’ and it’s opening line – “all that I want is to wake up fine”. However, these songs are dressed up playfully with 80s-influenced synths and bouncy beats, wrapped in spectacularly sing-along worthy choruses. It’s an album you don’t just want to dance to, you have to. It’s a beautiful mix of joyful escapism and a push to confront your own issues. That ‘After Laughter’ can do both at once is truly special.

Rainbow, Kesha

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Kesha’s return to the pop landscape has been, objectively, the best thing to happen in 2017. Lead single ‘Praying’ is beautiful and bold, a battle cry which has resonated with survivors across the globe. If you haven’t spent half the year screaming these lyrics dramatically, or crying as you listen along… good for you, probably. The album is colourful and full of magic, and it is incredibly vulnerable. It’s a love letter to Kesha’s younger self, to all the scared and traumatised people trying and struggling to heal. It’s a reassurance, a promise, and a manifesto.

All We Know Of Heaven / All We Need Of Hell, PVRIS

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PVRIS’ debut album, ‘White Noise’, was equal parts dark and catchy. Their sophomore release, ‘All We Know Of Heaven / All We Need Of Hell’, similarly manages this, and it is stronger in both aspects. It is a weighty album, filled with the emptiness which stems from separation – from lovers, from those around you, and most significantly from yourself. Lynn Gunn’s vocals are haunting, ethereal in tone yet wholly substantial in force. Songs such as opener ‘Heaven’ and ‘No Mercy’ are anthemic and intense, perfect to jump around and mosh to – even in your bedroom. These are impressively slick songs with raw emotion driving them. The themes of Gunn’s lyrics are what connect people so strongly to this band – and the hugeness of PVRIS’ sound ensures that when they’re packing out arenas, undoubtedly rather soon – they’ll be ready to fill that space.

See our pick of the best film and television of 2017 here, and the best young adult fiction of 2017 here.

An interview with Anteros – the bitter dream pop band making waves

Author:
anteros

By Sophia Simon-Bashall

I spoke to Laura Hayden of the band Anteros recently…

 

Hi! Can you please introduce your band to people who haven’t heard of you before?

Hi, we’re Anteros. We make bitter dream pop.

 

It’s nearly the end of 2017 – what have the highlights of this year been for you?

We feel like this whole year has been one big highlight with the amount of tours and releases. Supporting Two Door Cinema Club, White Lies and Blaenavon were great fun and we learned a lot. Then we got to record and release our Drunk EP with Nick Hodgson [Kaiser Chiefs], and then we got to tour that on our first headline. We had a summer full of festivals, and we recorded our double AA side during the gaps in between them. Working with Charlie Andrew [Alt-J, Marika Hackman] was also a highlight.

 

What’s your favourite part about performing your songs up in front of people?

Watching people connect; smile, dance, and sing along. It sounds cheesy but knowing our music and our shows can have that effect on people makes us really happy. That’s all we want.

anteros

What’s been your favourite you’ve done?

Community Festival this summer was definitely one of our favourites. London is home for us, so it was great to play to a big crowd of people who were dancing and singing the words to our songs. I don’t think we’ll forget that set anytime soon.

 

Is there anything you’d like to change about the music industry?

Where to begin?! Let’s start with equality. I wish there were the same amount of women as there are men working behind the music business. It’s still very much a Boys Club. It’s slowly getting better, but we just can’t wait to get to a point where the numbers are evened out.

 

Who do you look up to in music?

There’s so many great women in music, so the list is endless. Stevie Nicks, Janis Joplin, Gwen Stefani and Madonna are probably our top four. But you’ve also got to look behind the artists! We feel so lucky to have great women working with us at our record label.

 

Have you witnessed sexual assault at live music events?

Hell yeah, unfortunately! Just the other night I had to stop our set to ask two guys to leave. They thought it was appropriate to comment on my breasts during our set. Nobody says a word when guys take their shirts off on stage, but how DARE a woman wear no bra under a white tank top?!

However, it’s everywhere. Music events are just a fraction.

 

Do you have a message to those who have had that kind of experience?

Don’t be afraid to stand up and speak up. I was, for such a long time. But not confronting people about it means they think can get away with it. People around you WILL back you and stand up for what is right, but it has to start with you.

[If you are harassed or assaulted at a gig and don’t feel able to speak up, that’s okay. Girls Against and Safe Gigs for Women are here to support you.]

 

As a band, what do you think you can do to help combat the issue?

Speak up. Do everything we can to ensure our gigs are as safe as we can make them for everyone. We don’t tolerate abuse or bullying in any shape or form.

 

You can find Anteros on Facebook and Twitter.

Anteros’ song Bonnie is out now. The band will be in the studio in early 2018, recording their debut album…

Queer pop goddesses are dominating (and I’m loving it)

Author:
kesha

By Christiana Paradis

There are a fair amount of music snobs in the world and while I love many of them, I find myself constantly having to defend the amount of female talent that exists in current pop music. “Autotune? Ew.” “It’s just teeny bopper crap.” “Are there any real instruments in that?” “Why don’t you listen to real music?” First, I do listen to real music, but that’s beside the point.

We are living in a time where queer (and out) female pop artists have been stunning us with their impressive vocals for multiple years, but many are struggling to receive recognition for their talents. For those of you naysayers out there I have compiled a list of the top five queer and out female pop icons, so that you don’t have to spend even one minute looking (because that’s literally all it would take) for proof that we have some queer goddesses roaming around the world of pop. So, stop what you’re doing and read, watch and listen. (List is in no particular order).

  • Lady Gaga: Since her first single release Lady Gaga has dominated current pop music. Though it took a lot of weird outfits to get much of the media to notice her, true monsters knew she was legit from the start. When she arrived on the music scene in 2009 she was openly out as bisexual. In the last two years Lady Gaga has rarely performed anywhere that she hasn’t received critical acclaim, but just in case you still need proof, check out Born This Way being performed acapella. Yeah acapella.
  • Halsey: Newer to the pop scene, Halsey’s start came from… YouTube. Though many of us have been there since the beginning or jumped on the bandwagon when Badlands released, a lot of people are most familiar with her song Castle which was used in the trailer for Snow White and The Huntsman: Winter’s War. Halsey, born Ashley Grangipane has been openly bisexual for much of her career and recently released her newest album hopeless fountain kingdom. Need proof her voice is flawless? Check out this stripped down version of the song Eyes Closed from her new album. Additionally, you can find plenty of queer friendly songs on her new album including Bad at Love and Strangers, which was recorded with Lauren Jauregui, also a bisexual pop star.
  • Kesha: Constantly lumped into the pop genre and reduced to “party music” at best, Kesha has long been underrated as an artist. Not to mention the ongoing legal battle with Sony Music after asking to be released from working with the producer who she has consistently claimed sexually and emotionally abused her. Despite many pop stars, including Kelly Clarkson, coming to Kesha’s defence it took several years for these court proceedings to come to an end with Sony finally beginning to nudge Dr. Luke out this past April. Throughout these series of events Kesha remained strong, she played at Pittsburgh’s Pride Festival as an out bisexual artist in 2016 and just released an anthem that has resonated with sexual assault survivors across the world in less than 24 hours. This is the Kesha we have seen all along and the one we’re glad the rest of the world is seeing now for the true artist that she is.
  • Miley Cyrus: Whether you agree with her tongue wagging or not, one thing is for sure you never quite know what Miley Cyrus may say or do next, but you can be assured she really doesn’t give a crap about what you think. Since her escape from Disney, she has continued to do what she wants and that has included being an out pansexual pop star that is not letting the rest of the world define her. Often seen as just another Disney star gone rogue, she has continually been reinventing herself over the past several years. She received a ton of positive feedback from her appearance on A Very Murray Christmas, and for her folk cover of Jolene. Perhaps it’s time we move on from her performances years ago and start giving Miley a real listen.
  • Sia: Though she first caught the attention of many during her performance at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, Sia has been stunning audiences for years. Breathe Me released in 2004 has been used in countless movie soundtracks not to mention the endless slew of songwriting credits she has earned throughout the years. Often getting attention for her ability to remain predominately unseen through various wigs, costumes, etc. Sia has long been a powerful musical force. Self-identifying as queer, Sia has being open about her struggles with alcohol and drug addiction and has released several songs that chronicle these addictions. With one of the most unique and haunting voices in music today, just close your eyes and let her voice touch your soul.

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