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Lollapalooza 2013 Recap

For those of you who missed this past weekend’s annual music festival in Grant Park, first off shame on you. But it’s fully understandable that there are many reasons to not be hitting up the notoriously crowded, hot, and usually storm-ridden Lollapalooza, and it is also understandable that if you did happen to miss it, you are curious about what you missed. Even for those that did land on the woodchip-covered park sometime this weekend, it sure is fun to reminisce. So here it is; the Nutshell Music Group Lollapalooza 3-Day Recap.

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Friday: The air was buzzing with yet another big-billed festival weekend upon us. There was a short drizzle early, and the day’s high temperature of 81 was the highest on schedule for the whole weekend. Things really were looking up with a solid set of headliners performing later in the evening, and a solid undercard to boot.

Friday’s Notable Moments:

  1. San Cisco starting off the day with a dance party except, you know, one that indie kids would go to.
  2. Father John Misty french kissing a stuffed unicorn.
  3. Bernard Sumner joining The Killers on stage to perform Joy Division’s “Shadowplay”.
  4. Thievery Corporation defining the word “groove”.

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Saturday: For many reasons, the second day of this year’s festival was very possibly the most exciting. One band was preparing for a comeback show (actually their second show back) after their bassist suffered a brain clot, and another took the stage for one of their final performances ever. On top of that, some of the biggest names in indie rock, hip-hop, and EDM all powered through electrifying sets to cap off day 2 of Lollapalooza.

Saturday’s Notable Moments:

  1. Pujol enjoying some candy thrown on stage by an audience member during their soundcheck.
  2. Matt & Kim repeatedly sampling, among many other rap classics, Ace Hood’s “Bugatti”. The band later suffered so many technical difficulties that “Daylight” had to be cut in mid-song, and they instead ended their set with “Cinders”, which they had admittedly not played in years.
  3. Ellie Goulding ending her hit “Lights” with a snippet of the Bassnectar remix.
  4. Two fans in wheel chairs crowd surfing during Kendrick Lamar’s set being helped over the front guardrail, and being allowed to watch the remainder of the show from the front of the stage.
  5. The Postal Service playing absolutely every song in their repertoire, and the crowd singing the last line of “Brand New Colony” over and over again as the band left the stage.
  6. Death Grips and Azealia Banks both separately cancelling Saturday night performances, resulting in Shaun White’s band Bad Things headlining on The Grove stage.

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Sunday: The same as always, the weekend seemed to be coming to a close much too quickly and the initial hype was slowly turning into sunburn, hangovers, and fatigue. The weather was a blessing with it actually becoming a bit cold by the end of the night, and that shot enough energy into the crowd to see some of the most successful musicians, both new and old, in their respective genres. The night ended on such a high (and tired) note that the only thing I could muster up for my personal Twitter account was “So. F*****g. Good.”

Sunday’s Notable Moments:

  1. Mario Cuomo of The Orwells taking off his pants at the tail end of the band’s set.
  2. Alex Trimble of Two Door Cinema Club keeping it classy, performing in a suit and drinking wine.
  3. Vampire Weekend not being able to get through their set without laughing at the crowd throwing toilet paper on stage or watching as a fan ran on stage (showing his bare butt) and was quickly restrained backstage.
  4. Phoenix putting on an absolute spectacle of a performance, including Thomas Mars making two trips over the guardrail and laying down for the group’s extra-long rendition of “Love Like a Sunset”.

Keep your eyes peeled for some concert reviews of a few of the Lollapalooza sets, along with another upcoming festival review next week!

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Nutshell Music Group’s 2012: The Year (Or…Seven Months) In Review

Everyone here at Nutshell has been taking some time off in response to the holiday season being upon us, just as we hope you did the same. But before the streamers and fireworks get released and the beginning of a new work calendar is upon us, it’s only fitting that we put together a best of list for those of you that are new to the site (or are already nostalgic). So here are some fun facts about our last seven months as an official publication. But before we get the ball rolling, here’s to wishing you a wonderful 2013.

Nutshell Music Group is born!

With the June 14th review of Walk The Moon’s self-titled LP, Nutshell Music Group officially became a publication.
Album Rating: 89/100
Album Highlights: “Anna Sun”, “Shiver Shiver”, “I Can Lift A Car”

NUTSHELLNutshell: The Logo and The Twitter

On June 18th, we unveiled our new logo, created by John Spiller. Then three days later we officially hit social media, with our Twitter that you can follow @NSMusicGroup.

Nutshell’s First Concert

The site became so much more than an album review site on July 16th, with our first concert review being published on Vampire Weekend’s Pitchfork Performance.
Concert Rating: A
Concert Highlights: Opening with the one two punch of “Cousins” and “White Sky”, an untitled new song now known as “Unbelievers”.

Making Friends

On October 15th Nutshell Music Group officially announced the addition of our newest writer, Bianca Smith. Her first review was posted less than two weeks later.

Opening the Discussion

On December 1st, we started our first full-on discussion topic as we posted our first round of Lollapalooza 2013 lineup predictions. Since then, a large amount of responses have come in and we opened up our Lollapalooza 2013 page.

Bests, Worsts, and Other Notable Things

Highest Rated Album: Matt & Kim – Lightning
Album Rating: 98/100
Album Highlights: “Let’s Go”, “Now”, “I Said”

Highest Rated EP: Go Tell The Eskimo – Smoke Signals EP
Album Rating: 95/100
Album Highlights: “When The Lights Go Out”

Lowest Rated Album: Animal Kingdom – The Looking Away
Album Rating: 73/100
Album Highlights: “Get Away With It”, “Skipping Disc”

Top Viewed Post: Lollapalooza 2013 Lineup Predictions

Most written about artist: Green Day (with a total of three album reviews)

Album We Wish We Reviewed Better: The Tallest Man On Earth – There’s No Leaving Now
Original Rating: 84/100

IMG_0445Nutshell Music Group’s total geek-out favorite band of the year: Stepdad

This one deserves some explaining. This goes to the band that Nutshell Music Group feels is the band that was most enjoyable to deal with. After reviewing Wildlife Pop back in June and then their Beat Kitchen Concert in October, the group has always been fun to watch, listen to, and even talk to in small doses. So a big thank you goes out to the guys in Stepdad for giving us a memorable band to talk about time and time again.

There you have it folks! Have a great time ringing in the new year, and we will be back on schedule with normal reviews after 2013 begins.

Lollapalooza 2013 Predictions (Pt. 2)

IMG_0148After ten days of buzzing and a good string of contact following our last Lollapalooza prediction post, the second handful of bands has been compiled (some of which are based on your suggestions). As was the deal with the last post, comment, tweet @NSMusicGroup, or email us at nutshellmusicgroup@gmail.com if you have changes to be made or things to say. This is a debate, that is welcome and preferred. You can also check out the new Lollapalooza 2013 page for all of our lineup speculation and live updates. Most additions will be normally posted, but bands taken off the list will not. Happy guessing folks!

Here’s the next batch of bands I expect to see August 2-4 in Grant Park:

  • Youngblood Hawke – With the release of one of this year’s big indie anthems, YBH has become quite a force. With the power of iTunes hit “We Come Running” behind them and an almost guaranteed festival-filled Summer 2013, the five-piece may be hitting the stage with an early time slot.
  • Two Door Cinema Club – The band was already playing an evening slot in 2010 on one of the festival’s biggest stages, and the recent release of Beacon means they will not be strangers to festival goers this year. With tour dates in Chicago falling early this year, it would not be surprising to see the Irish indie pop group back again in August.
  • Mumford and Sons – Mumford and co. is going to be the festival hog this year. Everybody in the entire world wanted to book them after they released one hot album; with that total doubled and a handful of new singles like “Babel” and “I Will Wait” that are being shoved down the throats of alternative radio listeners, the group will be hitting almost every major festival this year. If not Lollapalooza, be expecting the modern folk lords rounding out the Pitchfork Music Festival on Sunday night.
  • Matt and Kim – The duo last hit the festival in 2009 in support of Sidewalks, and have recently been hitting the Midwest pretty hard with tour stops. With signs of that dying down after February, the band seems to have enough experience under their belt (plus an awesome new album in Lightning) to grab an evening slot at Lollapalooza this Summer.
  • Andrew Bird & Wilco – The pairing of these two is intentional because both have released new material somewhat recently (Bird with Break It Yourself and Hands of Glory EP, Wilco with The Whole Love) and they both hail from the Chicago area. However, with enough new music to share a headlining concert just outside of the city last Summer, neither band ended up hitting any popular Chicago-area festivals. At least one of these two could likely show up at Lollapalooza this year as one of those “I don’t know why they’re here this year, but that’s awesome that they are” kind of acts.

Nutshell Album Review – Matt & Kim – Lightning

What many people tend to not realize about Matt & Kim (besides the fact that they aren’t married, dating, or even brother and sister) is that they are now pushing ten years old (coming up on their eighth) and are now into their fourth album. But when dealing with, what many YouTube playlists call, the indie band that everyone wishes they discovered, you are dealing with underground superstars that tend to hit the spotlight for all of 20 minutes before calmly slipping back into the shadows, only to wow people two years later for another annoyingly short period of time. This is a band that pushes the envelope and also manages to do it on their own, while remaining one of the most fun and sometimes painfully happy bands out there. This, of course, is meant in a complimenting manner, and it’s also important to let you know right now that Lightning is not only brilliant, but it’s also sure to keep these two important for at least 21 minutes.

The album opens up with the single “Let’s Go”, featuring an unquestionably catchy drum beat and the return of the piano and subtle synths from Sidewalks. Toss in the melodic “ooo’s” and Matt Johnson screaming out “hey” and “let’s go!” in the background, and you already have a gem. “Now” is what follows, opening up with Grand style bass drum and snare combos along with Johnson’s notable half-talking vocals. Then the song does this magical thing where it drops like a dubstep song. The even better part is the drop stays poppy, which may or may not be extremely contradictory. After a breakdown and another explosion into the chorus, this song ends up being the most positive surprise you could want from this album. “It’s Alright” opens up with the horns and clapping fans came to know and love, and tosses in bells and great vocals to round this out as a wonderful song. “Not That Bad” is one of the album’s slower and more thought out songs, but it is incredibly fine tuned. It has a fraction of the instruments present in most of the songs on this record, but it ends up sounding just as complete and full.

“Overexposed” has a powerful synth lead intro with a powerful drum core, and it has an interesting take on the “start, stop” technique with nearly all instruments periodically dropping out, leaving only Johnson’s vocals with the lead. “I Said” features a dribble bass and a stuttery lead part, and it ends up being one of the more electronic-sounding songs. But don’t fret, there’s still a piano-only part. “Tonight” has a very apparent dancefloor sound, even one that is a little more than Matt & Kim fans are used to. Complete with claps and the band’s usual homage to New York, this is a very upbeat track that is a big one on the album. “I Wonder” is a song that contemplates what you would do with a second chance, all while the duo creatively puts a groove on their usual sound. The album closes out with “Much Too Late”, a speedy track that shows of Matt & Kim at their finest, with the unbelievable drums and synths people have come to expect, and “Ten Dollars I Found”. Not only is this a play on one of the best ways to end a poorly told story (“…and then I found ten dollars.”), but it is also a beautiful, 2 minute ballad that features the two members on harmonized vocals.

As touched upon earlier, Lightning may be the album that pulls Matt & Kim into the limelight and then barricades them in. Handling all aspects of today’s pop music, indie music, and a little bit of dance music (still in awe of the drop on “Now”), the Brooklyn duo threw together something new and special that also manages to keep grasping their well-established sound. Against the view of the reviewing community, Nutshell gives  Lightning a commanding 98/100. Somebody please give us something bad to review, we are running out of numbers that start with 9.

Lightning Tracklisting:

  1. Let’s Go
  2. Now
  3. It’s Alright
  4. Not That Bad
  5. Overexposed
  6. I Said
  7. Tonight
  8. I Wonder
  9. Much Too Late
  10. Ten Dollars I Found
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