Friday, January 5, 2001

McQ's Best Of 2015 Vol 10 - Coachella Starters

1. Club Foot - Kasabian
2. Gimme All Your Love - Alabama Shakes
3. Little MonsterLittle Monster - Royal Blood
4. Turtles All The Way Down - Sturgil Simpson
5. The Less I Know The Better - Tame Impala
6. Coffee - Sylvan Esso
7. Low Desert Punk - Brant Bjork
8. Take Me To Church - Hozier
9. Christmas Card - Joyce Manor
10. Fergus Gallery - Allah-Las
11. Let It Burn - The Orwells
12. Shrinking Violets - PHOX
13. The Left Is Right - Desaparecidos
14. Easy Rider- Action Bronson
15. Chi-Town - The Cribs
16. Elevate - St. Lucia
17. Budapest - George Ezra
18. Bales Of Cocaine - The Reverend Horton Heat
19. Bats In The Attic - Jon Hopkins & King Creosote
20. Time - Jungle
21. Possessed - Eagulls
22. Cold Cold Man - Saint Motel

Track List / Mix Write-up / Spotify /
McQ's Favorite Albums Of 2015
McQ's Favorite Songs Of 2015
Coachella Starters 2014
Coachella Starters 2013
Coachella Starters 2012
Coachella Starters 2011
Coachella Starters 2010

About The Albums/Songs On This Mix:

Okay, so each year's Coachella Starters mix, highlighting top undercard acts I saw at the same calendar year Coachella Festival, is the one mix where I really slip from sticking to the Calendar year or year prior with regards to song release date. If a band I might not profile again produced its best song three years ago and it made an impression on me at the festival, that's what goes in here - but four of the songs on this mix date way, way back.

The best of the four and one of the very best songs I saw performed by any band the entire festival weekend was veteran Brit Rockers Kasabian's Club Foot. The track opener for the band's 2004 self-titled debut, it's a Stone Roses/Madchester styled groover of the first order, and my only regret towards included it on this mix is it will be sorely missed if I ever go back and do a Best Of The Best for 2001 because it's that good of a song.

Another hard-charging rocker that totally stood out amongst all the 2015 weekend's music was former Kyuss drummer Brant Bjork's searing rendition of long-time fan favorite Low Desert Punk. Just a funky stoner rock anthem, the song dates back all the way to Bjork's 1999 solo debut Jalamanta, but in all honesty, the recorded version included in this mix, as fun as it is, doesn't do justice to how extraordinary the song played live.

Filling in as one of the top "legendary" acts in the 2015 line-up, after top-line names AC/DC and Steely Dan, was notorious psychobilly kingpins The Reverend Horton Heat.  Always a fiery, hysterically irreverent good time live, their Friday afternoon show was no different than those they have been performing now for over twenty years, so I went with one of their most hysterically irreverent tracks ever, the 1993 fan-favorite Bales Of Cocaine, to represent the act here.

Our final deep reach back on this mix is the breathtaking Jon Hopkins / King Creosote collaboration Bats In The Attic, which originated on the duo's gorgeous 2011 collection of ambient folk-tunes lyrically anchored around life in a Scottish sea town, Diamond Mine.

In truth, I only caught a few moments of Hopkins' 2015 Yuma DJ set, and doubt this track was part of his set that day, but since I had already mined much of the material from Hopkins' more recent and equally impressive 2013 release Immunity a few years back, I wanted to shine the spotlight on Diamond Mine here instead.

Mix closer Cold Cold Man is by a quartet of young Chapman Film School upstarts that go by the name of Saint Motel. They were great Sunday morning - lively and joyous as one can be, boasting a Tropicalia meets Franz Ferdinand musical style, and joined by a sextet of young Can-Can dancers on stage - and I wouldn't be surprised if they blow up big time over the next few years - they are one of those rare bands that have the ability to have a ton of fun without coming off as uncool.  It comes as no surprise to me that Nancy took their unbelievably catchy hit single and set closer My Type to open her mix this year, leading to me including Cold Cold Man here.

Most of the acts that make up each year's Coachella lineup, at least once one gets past the EDM portion of the bill, are there primarily because of glowing critical reception to a recent album or body of work, rather than any sort of mainstream popularity.

But each year there does seem to be one artist that is booked purely because at the moment the lineup was put together, they had "the" hit - which doesn't mean that they had the biggest hit of the year, but rather that they had the biggest hit of the year that also established cred with the snobbier indie listeners that traditionally make up a major portion of Coachella's regular audience.

In past years, this artist was Gotye, with Somebody That I Used To Know, or The Lumineers, with Ho Hey, but on the 2015 line-up, there's no question the artist who was there just because of one single song was Irish indie soulster Hozier with his megahit, Take Me To Church, the number 14 song on Billboard 2014 year-end Hot 100.

We actually first profiled the punishing drums and bass duo Royal Blood and their solid self-titled debut on the Odd & Ends mix of our 2014 collection, but the Brighton act was so good at Coachella with their Pablo Honey crossed with Led Zeppelin II sound that I felt they had to be part of this mix, hence the inclusion of the badass Little Monster here.

Another standout act at the 2015 fest we originally profiled in our 2014 mix collection was the highly original UK retro-soul act Jungle, a mysterious band whose anchor in unusual, sampled atmospherics and four part group vocals both recalls the classic soul feel of the early 70s while nonetheless sounding very of the moment.

Time, from their consistently excellent self-titled debut and our representative track here, was without question the standout single-song performance of their Coachella set.

Five or six years ago, when twee, folkish indie was at its absolute peak, Baraboo, Wisconsin's Fiest-like sextet of high school classmates PHOX would have felt almost "dime-a-dozen" on the line-up.  But times changes quickly, and in 2015s rock and dance heavy line-up, the band's catchy, delicately arranged songs felt like a musical breath of fresh air.  It didn't hurt either that lead singer Monica Martin has a beautiful live voice.  I choose the playful Shrinking Violets from their self-titled 2014 debut to represent them here, but their ballad Laura was also strongly considered.

The track Elevate is here to represent St. Lucia, an emerging retro-80s act with a warm, John Hughes/Lionel Ritchie-type vibe that is now based in Brooklyn, New York, but whose lead singer/principal songwriter, Jean-Philip Grobler, originally hails from South Africa.

The sly, sexy, late-night electro-pop presented in side-project Sylvan Esso's 2014 self-titled debut couldn't be more of a departure for the Durham, North Carolina duo of Appalachian indie-folk singer/Mountain Man member Amelia Meath and electronic producer/Megafaun bassists Nick Sandborn, but it has become the most successful endeavor for either artist, due in no small part to the  success of singles like Coffee featured here, which blew up on the indie circuit in late 2014.

Easy Rider comes to us courtesy of the eccentric Brooklyn-based, Wu-Tang Clan-loving, ex-chef rapper Action Bronson, from his uneven but sometimes inspired full-length debut Mr. Wonderful.

Known for returning thematically time and again to songs that echo Bronson's passion for early east-coast gangster rap but that seem more preoccupied with tales of world travel and the culinary delights of various regions, this album closer cops a pyschedelic biker groove intentionally reminiscent of the counter-culture film classic with which it shares its name to send Bronson out into the sunset once again in search of further adventure, trouble, and of course, his next meal.

Coachella always has a strong punk presence, as that is how festival founder Paul Tollett started, as a Los Angeles punk promoter, but even along the festivals normal lines, 2015 had a heavier than normal punk lean. From the classic Brit-punk of the Jarman Brother anchored The Cribs (Chi Town), to the dronier post-punk stylings of their Leeds-based compatriots The Eagulls (the awesome Possessed), to Chicagoland bad-boy act The Orwell's (Let It Burn) and youthful Orange County-based punk-poppers Joyce Manor (Christmas Card), punk was everywhere on the 2015 bill.  Even artists not principally associated with punk, such as indie folkster/alt-countrier and Bright Eyes founder Connor Oberst, chose to appear in 2015 in their most aggitational form - in Oberst's case showing up with his aggressive rock side project Los Desaparecidos (The Left Is Right).

Turtles All The Way Down is a wonderful little faith-questioning 2014 ballad from a man who many believe is shaping up as one the most exciting and adventurous voices in country music, Sturgill Simpson.

A musical omnivore, Simpson is well versed in country tradition, but like Kanye West with regards to hip-hop, has an innate ability to expand his music beyond those traditional boundaries, hence his inclusion on the 2015 Coachella line-up.

The album from which Turtles was pulled, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, the top-reviewed country album of 2014, is excellent and well worth checking out, even for those that don't consider themselves country fans, and in a bit of Best of 2016 foreshadowing, I can say his follow-up album A Sailor's Guide To Earth is even more expansively genre-bending and adventurous. Without question, Simpson is one to keep an eye on - he's a true original.

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