My City, My Heart

 

I have lived in Las Vegas for more than a decade. I was not born here, but I fell in love with this place shortly after I moved here. This is my home. I choose to live here, and I am not sure I will ever leave. The last few days have been such a surreal experience that is tough to put into words. I want to have words for it, but I just cannot get there…yet. I know I’ve been sharing some sad songs, and while the sentiment I want to share now may seem sad, its more of a love for my home. When I say Home Means Nevada, I mean it. This post is an ode to my home.

“Home Means Nevada” as performed by The Killers

 

“Viva Las Vegas” as performed by The Killers

“Vegas Lights” by Panic! At The Disco

“A Shot at The Night” by The Killers

 

“Its Time” (and more) by Imagine Dragons

“I don’t ever want to let you down, I don’t ever want to leave this town, cuz after all the city never sleeps at night”

Diving In

Earlier this year I read about a study that said that people stop listening to new music by the time they are 33. Basically, most people will stop listening to music that they are not familiar with around the age of 33. Now, I would say that since hitting 30, my new music intake has been through the roof. But to prove this study wrong, over the last few weeks I’ve been listening to new music almost exclusively. Here are a few things I’ve found.

1) The National Parks – maybe I should live in Utah, and thankfully I live close enough, because this Utah band is making music that fills my soul. With similarities to some other favorites like Churchill and The Mowgli’s, this multi-member band combines traditional folk elements and indie sensibilities. Here is “Wind & Anchor”:

2) Parade of Lights – Unbeknownst to me, this LA based band got some of their first gigs in my wonderful city of Las Vegas. They have a unique sound in the world of electro-pop combining soothing melodies with strong lyrics and powerful vocals. I am super excited that they are on the bill for Life Is Beautiful this year. They have a similar vibe to some favorites like The Naked and Famous and St. Lucia, but feel a bit more rock to me. Here is “Feeling Electric” from their new album of the same name.

3) Mount Saint – Readers of Sandy Beats will know how big of fans we are of Imagine Dragons. Well, the first few times that I saw them and the first time that @begutierrez they had a husband and wife duo on the drums and keys. I was a big fan of Dan’s booming voice harmonized with Brittany Tolman, and definitely missed those harmonies when the duo decided to leave ID. Well, now I can get more of her voice with her new band, Mount Saint. They are reminiscent of early Imagine Dragons, but also have a bit of that 80’s synth pop that I love. They are based in L.A. so maybe they will hit up Las Vegas soon. Here is “Criminal” from their self-titled EP.

Stay tuned for some more new music…because screw statistics. Ha!

It is the end of the world (aka 2014) as we know it…and I feel fine.

It has been too long, and we are sorry. There has been a long absence from us. But 2015 is upon us, and that means more new music and more shows.

2014 has ended out with a bang. I think I’ve seen the last two shows of my 2014 (who knows, that may change). With great joy I witnessed the homecoming of one of Sandy Beats’ favorite bands, Imagine Dragons, as well as a new locally bred favorite Brumby. I also enjoyed the sweet sounds of one of my Life is Beautiful favorites Priory and revisited my teenage years with Bush.

It is not quite yet time for the best of 2014 from @begt and I, but that will come in January, I can assure you.

In the meantime…

My “classic” Repeat One of the moment is “Calamity Song” by indie folk leaders The Decemberists.

My “new” Repeat One of the moment (which should be no surprise) is “Shut Up and Dance” by WALK THE MOON (who will be gracing Las Vegas in May!!)

And while they didn’t play the song when I saw them this week…it is only fitting to honor Imagine Dragons with “Look How Far We’ve Come”. If the time comes that I leave Las Vegas, this band will signify my time here. I cannot help but get goosebumps any time I hear their music.

Another band I saw recently who has held a top spot on my playlist as of recent is We Were Promised Jetpacks. This Scottish band rocks my world each and everyday with “Quiet Little Voices”

As mentioned, Las Vegas bred Brumby is new discovery to me. “High Waters” has been on my playlist for the last week.

I’ll leave you with my three biggest Life is Beautiful surprises. First up is St. Paul and the Broken Bones with “Call Me”. If this doesn’t get something stirring inside of you, I think you should call your doctor.

Nahko and Medicine for the People brought me back to my roots with with “Manifesto II”.

And finally, Catfish and the Bottlemen with “Cocoon”.

Life is Beautiful Preview – Day 1

Life is Beautiful 2014 is only a few days away. It seems like it got here super fast, but its been a busy fall for me, so it is probably just my imagination.

I will be honest, the lineup this year did not have me itching like the 2013 Lineup. Unless this is your first visit to the blog, you know how big of fan I am of bands like The Killers, Imagine Dragons and Childish Gambino who all had big performances last year. This year it is not the headliners that have gotten me excited, rather it is the smaller bands and local acts that will be causing me to move my feet and nod my head.

With 3 days of music and just around 69 bands on the bill, there is a lot more room for lesser known and local acts to have their place.

This year, I decided I would break the preview up so as to make sure I can actually finish three posts as opposed to failing and finishing one long one. With that in mind, here are my picks for Friday. I won’t be able to hit all of these acts up, but I am going to give it my best shot.

It is my belief that Friday has the most solid line-up of the weekend. Literally every time slot has someone I want to see…and a couple have multiple acts I would like to check out. I am not sure if that will happen this weekend, but I will give it the old college try.

My first tough decision comes at the start of the day. It is a choice between two local acts. The first is Ekoh, a local hip-hop artist who has been working the scene for a while. I’ve known of him for a while, but haven’t had the chance to see an entire set until he opened for one of my favorite hip-hop artists, Grieves, this summer. The other choice is local rock outfit Rusty Maples. Also veteran’s of the Vegas scene, this group could be poised to make it big. I had seen them a couple times over the last few years, but became very excited to see how far they’ve come when they opened for Built to Spill early this fall.  This will be a game time decision, but to show you just how tough it will be…here are the two acts in question.

First is Ekoh with “Zzyzx Road”

Next here are the Rusty Maples with “Long Walk Home”

With toughest decision of  the day out of the way, I am off to the races.

Up next is Portland based Priory. This group has had a minor radio hit with “Weekend”. I am not a huge fan of “Weekend” but the rest of their stuff sounds pretty good. Enjoy “Alone” off of their first release.

At this point, I could head over to the Mainstage to see Phantogram (who I hear is awesome live) or hit up a double header of Kentucky pop rockers Sleeper Agent and LouFest 2014 favorites Vintage Trouble. This would mean I would also miss electro act Girl Talk, but it would put me in great position to see one of my first SoCal favorites (and one of the three last remaining “Christian”-ish groups that I still follow), Switchfoot. There is no doubt that I will be seeing Switchfoot, I just am not sure which path I will take to get there. Check out “When We Come Alive” from their recent Fading West release.

At this point, I will be sticking near two stages who have the rest of the bands I will be watching. My only regret is that I won’t be able to see one of my LouFest 2014 surprises, RAC. From Vegas native and former Rilo Kiley front-woman, Jenny Lewis  to fellow desert dwellers and some of Utah’s finest, Neon Trees, and the artists who @begt and I saw at Red Rock, Seattle based The Head and the Heart (!!!). Ending the evening for me will be Vegas locals (and the biggest Vegas headliner of this year’s Life is Beautiful) Panic! At the Disco.

Just so it is clear who I am most excited for, please enjoy “Down in the Valley” by The Head and the Heart.

Stay tuned for preview of Day 2 and Day 3

New Music: Avalon Landing

November is a great month for movies and music in 2013. This week has already seen a new “Greatest Hits” release from The Killers, but the focus of this post is on another one of  Las Vegas’ own music treasures (by way of Buffalo, NY) Avalon Landing. I’ve been enjoying Avalon Landing for a while now, and have seen them a couple times opening up for another Vegas’ powerhouse, Imagine Dragons.

You may remember Avalon Landing, as I introduced you to them back in July. Over the past few months they’ve changed drummers, and have really increased their promotion of this new release.

Avalon Landing released their second full-length record Reside this Tuesday. The record has the same style as their first release Demo’s, Dead Ends & Do Overs” but the lyrics definitely show the maturation of the band. They have definitely expanded on their sound and this new album is a bit more polished and refined, which does the band well.

The first single off of Reside is “About Face”.

Avalon Landing has started to tour around a bit more, but currently only has dates listed for Las Vegas. I hope to catch them again soon.

You can listen to the whole record on SoundCloud.

I do hope that they become the next big band from Las Vegas, but as of right now there is a lot of tough competition for that title.

You will like them if you like: The Fray, One Republic, The Script.

New Video: “On Top Of The World” by Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons has had an awesome week. They took over Twitter trends on Sunday night during their performance of “Radioactive” at the MTV EMAs. Today, they released the video for “On Top of The World.” The video is pretty damn cute, if you ask me. You get to meet Dan’s (main vocals) family and Wayne’s (guitar) wife. I don’t know that Ben (bass) is married or if that’s just a fantasy, but those kids are hilarious and look exactly what I would picture his sons to look like. The mini tribute to The Beatles (goals?) and the whole faking the moon landing theme are light and quite appropriate for this fun song. Click play and enjoy!

Life Is Beautiful Quick Take

LIB1

Life is Beautiful

This past weekend @begt and I had the pleasure of attending Downtown Las Vegas’ inaugural Life is Beautiful festival. This festival was a mixture of music, food, art and education. A more hearty review will be forthcoming, but in the interest of timeliness, here are a few highlights and lowlights from the festival.

Highlights:

1)      In my opinion, the festival did its job. It provided an event unlike any other in Las Vegas while showcasing some of the best food, art and music that Las Vegas has to offer.

2)      Las Vegas can be a great host to an eclectic group of performers and festival attendees.

3)      The performances were great and the performers were fairly diverse. From hip-hop to electronic and funk the attendees had many choices to fit their moods.

4)      Performances from hometown heroes Imagine Dragons and The Killers that were impeccable and which contained pleasant surprises.

5)      Do you want to eat something you’d not normally eat at festival? They had you covered. The choices were endless.

6)      The art…THE ART. The new murals were incredible and such a great addition to downtown.

Lowlights:

7)      Whether it be the culture of Las Vegas, of the many southern California attendees or the micro-culture of festival, trash & recycling were an issue. This needs to be addressed next year. The festival organizers should look at larger festivals and events in more progressive parts of the country and see how they handle waste. There is every reason to believe that this festival can be a “no waste” event when it comes to handling food/drink waste.

8)      Some of the scheduling choices seemed to be not well thought out. Placing hip-hop staples Jurassic 5 at the same time as Janelle Monae and crowd pleasers Empire of the Sun and the Killers opposite each other didn’t seem to support fans with consistent tastes. Somehow, someway, I was able to catch most of J5’s set, and the last few songs of Monae’s set while still seeing 2.5 songs from one of my local favorites Most Thieves at the unfortunately located Homegrown stage.

9)      Drinks were club prices. I didn’t expect to find cheap drinks, but $13 for a one-shot cocktail is really too much. A $9 beer? No thank you.

10)   The lack of “Vegas” spirit from the attendees. I realize that many (a majority?) of the attendees were not from Vegas, but the amount of people at both the Killers and Imagine Dragons who were not into the show was disappointing.

11)   Native American Headdresses? Really people, what the hell are you thinking? Not cool. It is not a thing. It is equivalent to wearing blackface or dressing like a Nazi. It is not cute, it is not cool.

Local Music: Avalon Landing

Being over 30, and wanting to get 8 hours of sleep has really prevented me from discovering more local Vegas music. However, I’ve been out and about enough to hear my favorite local band (not including the Killers or Imagine Dragons), Avalon Landing.  They are not Vegas natives, rather they are originally from Buffalo, NY.

I was already sold on the band because they are named for the novel that plays a prominent role in one of my favorite movies, Finding Forrester. However, I first heard them when I was preparing for a show when they were opening for Imagine Dragons when ID released their Continued Silence EP. I purchased their first full length: Demos, Dead Ends and Do Overs, and listened to it religiously until the show. They play Las Vegas pretty frequently, but have only ever seen them one other time when they again opened for Imagine Dragons.

Their sound is reminiscent of The Fray, but their lyrics are a lot less “Jesusy” than the Fray. They pack a lot of energy into their live shows, and they are big supporters of the local music venues here in Las Vegas. They have been recording their next record, and I am excited to see what it has to offer.

Here is “Old Phone Books”

And “Erie County Welcomes You Back”

TBT: Imagine Dragons – Continued Silence EP, February 2012

The second Throwback Thursday post today is the review I wrote for Imagine Dragons first release after signing for Interscope Records. Here it is:

Do you remember I told you about Imagine Dragons last year? They turned out to be my #1 music discovery of 2011.

They signed to Interscope Records at the end of 2011 and started recording new material right away. And as an awesome Valentine’s present, their new EP was released yesterday. Continued Silence EP is, in one word, epic. You have to listen to it. It contains a re-release of “It’s Time” and five new songs. I got it last night and it had me hooked after the first full-listen.

There is something about Imagine Dragons’ poetic lyrics in combination with their anthemic melodies, that make songs like “Demons” raise all the hairs in your arms. It’s hard to pick favorites from the new songs. So far, I’ve five-stared three out of the five. The other two have four stars. There’s not even a good place to start to listen to them, just hit play.

The first notes of “Radioactive” will probably give you that feeling you get when you’re about to experience something incredible. When I listened to the iTunes preview of that song, I thought it was a bit too on the electronic side for my taste. But the first full listen of the song erased that lame preview impression. You see, Imagine Dragons create complex songs. There are layers to their songs, there are intros and high points, there are resolutions, there are story lines, there are waves of melodies and vocals that hit you from different directions. This is all good. No, not good. It’s great. It’s what keeps their fans loyal. I first noticed this quality when I heard “Cover Up” for the first time (from their Imagine Dragons EP).

When I heard they’ll play at SXSW in March, I knew this was it. They will most likely explode in the music world after that performance. And it’s about time, because they have all the right elements to make it happen. Their stage presence is powerful, their lyrics are catchy and poetic, the music makes you want to move around and it makes your soul want to pop out of your body. If you think I’m exaggerating, just go catch their live performance.

Just do me a favor. If you’re at work, wait until you get home to your quality speakers before you listen to them. Laptop or PC speakers just won’t do it. Also, if you have never listened to Imagine Dragons before, start with their new EP. Don’t try to listen to all their music at once, because it might cause some kind of awesome-induced attack and I don’t want to be responsible for anything like that.