College & Local Radio is RAD!

KWVA_905As many of you may already know, I have a passion for radio. When I was a junior in high school, I visited my (now) college campus for the first time, and I was immediately drawn to the student-run radio station, KWVA. I loved the idea of a community of like-minded, music-obsessed students talking about/ playing what they love on the air.

The station, at the time, a small hole-in-the-wall studio that was once a women’s bathroom, was covered in stickers and band posters. Promo CDs were scattered among stacks of cassette tapes and vinyl, and hipster-looking students rushed in and out of the studio, welcoming me with giant smiles. I knew I had to get involved.

giphyI’ve been a part of my college radio station for 2 years now, and I will be heading into my last year in the fall. (That’s me in the studio on the right!) Since my first visit, the studio has expanded and moved to a shiny new space in the student activities center, located at the heart of campus. While on my summer break from school, I haven’t strayed far from the radio biz. I’m interning with the Portland Radio Project, a local radio station in Portland. I’ve met so many cool DJs, learned about some crazy talented local artists, and made some great connections.

According to Pitchfork, “college radio can reflect what local broadcasting should strive for: freeform programming that’s community organized and unentangled in market-based obligation. It is also a continually replenishing talent pool for the industry at large, and every part of the musical ecosystem can count former college radio DJs among their staff” (2017).

Both student-run and local, community radio provides music-lovers and radio enthusiasts the opportunity to think outside of the box. It’s an outlet for up-and-coming artists to receive recognition, listeners to be exposed to new genres, and a place for community members to share their music knowledge on the air without corporate involvement. This is how it should be when it comes to sharing the music we love!

According to FRG, “community and local radio stations focus on local areas they are an opportunity to give the community a voice. Community Radio Station’ staff are usually volunteers, and they are nearly always not-for-profit organizations. Funding is mostly given through donations or would incorporate fundraising in the form of events, pub quizzes and advertising.”

Kirsten at KATUKirsten Nicolaisen, a Portland-based journalist working in the social media and digital world of TV news, is a KWVA alumn and DJ at the Portland Radio Project! (We have a lot in common.) 🙂 Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Kirsten made her way north for school where she spent four years working at KWVA Eugene. From production assistant, to DJ, to eventual News Director, Kirsten wore a number of hats at KWVA. A stint at Oregon Public Broadcasting brought her to Portland, which she now calls home. Now, Kirsten  works at KATU News. (Photo to the right.)

kirsten at KWVA“My favorite memories from KWVA are late nights and early mornings spent in the studio” Kirsten says. “KWVA was my library, my office space, my living room, and my little world tucked away down a long hallway at the student activities center. I loved diving into the music library in the wee hours of the morning when I first started DJ-ing during the Tuesday 4-6 AM shift, and sticking around afterward to catch up on school work… constantly distracted by all the messages and jokes scribbled on the walls. It was in those quiet hours that my love of music, radio and media truly blossomed.” (Left: Kirsten in the KWVA studio as a student.)

Kirsten believes that local radio stations like PRP provides music fans with the most unique music and best radio-listening experience.

“Without stations like PRP, I believe many talented local musicians would not have the platform to properly showcase their work. I feel lucky to be a part of a growing force in the local music community!” she says.

College and local radio is pretty rad. Let’s help keep it alive!

2014/365/351 On The Air At CFBX

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Summer Spins

Summer is here again! I’m super excited to be interning with The Portland Radio Project during the next few months, a non-profit radio station in Portland committed to showcasing local artists and supporting small businesses. I’ll be doing graphic design and social media work for PRP, which I’m stoked about!

Meanwhile, I’ve been listening to a lot of new music. Listen along below.

Albums

51xW1wRspzL._SS500Twin Shadow: Caer

I discovered this album by chance on Spotify, and I’m so glad I did! With a sound similar to artists like Flume and ODESZA, lead singer George Lewis Jr. has an intriguing voice. It is often complimented by quirky instruments like synthesizers.

You may recognize a few other voices on this record, such as band HAIM and singer-songwriter Rainsford. By far, my favorite track on the record is “Too Many Colors,” mostly because of the super cool intro. When you first listen to the song, it’s easy to mistake it for a children’s song or something straight out of Disney–a xylophone dominates the beginning of the track, which then leads into the first verse.

bridge_leon_goodthing_101bLeon Bridges: Good Thing

This record came out just last month, but I already know every lyric. 🙂 Before the release of this sophomore album, Leon teased us with a little taste of what was to come. He released his two singles, “Bad Bad News” and “The Bet Aint Worth The Hand” back in March. Surprisingly enough, I’d say that the rest of the record is pretty different from these two tracks, though! Through a healthy mix of blues, jazz and soul, Good Thing is a compilation of Leon’s stories: forgiving someone who broke his heart, his mother and her childhood (a continuation of the last record), and the moment he realized he may have found the girl of his dreams. Overall, I think this record is so beautiful–my favorite tracks are “Forgive You,” “Beyond,” and “Mrs.”

Leon will be on tour this summer! See if he’s coming to your city here.

the-search-for-everything-b-iext48856379John Mayer: The Search For Everything

John released his newest single, “New Light,” just last month, and paired it with a HILARIOUS music video. He hired a low-budget Bar Mitzvah video company to produce it. As a result, the video features John singing in front of a variety of incredibly cheesy backdrops matched with wacky transitions. Through out the video, John dances awkwardly in  a pair of dad-esque, purple striped pants and a torn sweatshirt. If you’re in need of a good laugh, watch the video here.

The Search For Everything was released not long before this single. The record follows John’s traditional style of ballads and bops, my favorites being “Still Feel Like Your Man,” “Emoji Of a Wave,” and “In The Blood.” This is one of those albums that anyone who’s ever been in a relationship (and experienced its end) can relate to–you can cry to this record, belt to it, or dance, depending on the song. That’s one of John Mayer’s many talents–he produces a a versatile style of tunes that can fit any mood.

Singles

the-1975-give-yourself-a-try-1527789760-640x640The 1975: “Give Yourself A Try”

On Friday June 1, The 1975’s much-anticipated new single,”Give Yourself A Try” was released. During my 10 am lecture that morning, I snuck out my earbuds and tuned into the premiere on Capital FM, London’s most popular radio station. Obviously, I loved the track immediately. It strays pretty far from the band’s usual style–with repetitive, biting electric guitar laying down the foundation of the song.

“Give Yourself a Try” describes Matty Healy’s (lead singer) experience of “getting spiritually enlightened at 29,” dealing with a drug addiction over the past few years: “And you’ll make a lot of money, and it’s funny, ’cause you’ll move somewhere sunny and get addicted to drugs,” and subtle views on politics: “I found a grey hair in one of my zoots…like context in a modern debate, I just took it out.”

De0tQzKU8AAmJQdDespite what many fans thought, The 1975’s new record didn’t drop on June 1. 😦 Instead, the band released this new single and announced the beginning of a new “era” of music for the band, known as the “Music For Cars” era. The new album, set to release in October 2018, will be titled “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships.”

Naturally, being the super-fan I am, I threw a The 1975-themed party with my friends to ring in the new era! I covered my apartment with pink, black and white themed decorations, as well as provided The 1975-themed games and snacks (pink Starbursts, pink glowing balloons, pink Goldfish crackers, black and white napkins and silverware, The 1975 album-themed cupcakes, and a game of Pin-The-Tat-On-The-Matty.)

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Betty Who: “All Things” (From Queer Eye)

This is my go-to feel-good song for the summer. This single is a cover of the opening theme for my favorite show on Netflix right now, Queer Eye, a reboot of the Bravo series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It features the new Fab Five: Antoni Porowski, food and wine expert; Tan France, fashion expert (my favorite!); Karamo Brown, culture expert; Bobby Berk, design expert and Jonathan Van Ness, grooming expert. In each episode, The Fab Five give straight guys across the country much-needed life, fashion, and home advice/makeovers. Queer Eye is incredibly touching, hilarious, and the Fab Five are beyond lovable. This song, covered by pop singer Betty Who, features Betty’s killer vocals, and the music video for it is EPIC, featuring all five guys!

a3462444518_10Florist: “Vacation”

I’m not entirely sure what it is I love so much about this song, but I’ve had it on repeat the past few days. “Vacation” is a combination of warm, childhood memories and the everyday thoughts of a girl going through life the best way she can. Through out the track, lead singer Emily Sprague sings about reminding herself of the good things in her life in the midst of finding herself. My favorite lyric is: “I don’t know how to be what I wanted to be when I was 5.” Everyone can relate to this line, and I think I speak for a lot of people when I say there are times when it feels like we’re simply coasting through life, unsure of what to do next. It’s easy to start wondering what the five-year-old version of yourself would think of who you are now, and whether or not they’d be happy with the things you’ve accomplished. Songs like “Vacation” are really important, because it reminds us that we aren’t alone in thinking these things. It urges us to examine the moments that have shaped us, and remember that every day we continue to grow and change. Another lyric I love is: “And at least I know that my mom is breathing when we talk on the phone. And at least I know that my house won’t burn down, down to the ground. Or maybe it will.”

Accept things that come your way, and never stop listening to music that means something to you.

Spring Tunes

Helloo! It’s been a while.

I’ve been incredibly busy these past few months, so I haven’t had much time to sit down to write a post. However, no matter how hectic things get throughout the school year as I drown in homework and activities, there’s always time for music.

Now that it’s spring, my favorite artists seems to have decided now is the time to release new music and mix up their sound–and I’m loving it. Check out what I’ve been listening to below!

Singles

leon-bridges-good-thing-620x620Leon Bridges: “Bad Bad News” & “Bet Aint Worth The Hand”

The release of these two new singles teases Leon’s fans with a tiny taste of what’s to expect from his upcoming album. Unsurprisingly, I love both of these tracks–especially “Bad Bad News.” It’s an innovative, jazz-alternative track featuring some killer bass guitar, sizzling drums and of course, Leon’s beautiful lyrics. Although the two singles he released are very different from the style of his debut album, Coming Home, released in 2016, the new tunes are still true to his sound and immensely unique.

album-packshotGeorge Ezra: “Pretty Shining People,” “Hold My Girl,” and “Saviour” (ft. First Aid Kit)

I’ve written a lot about George Ezra, an English singer-songwriter, podcaster and musician. He’s got a lot going for him right now–George started a podcast called “George Ezra and Friends,” last month, in which he’s interviewed some big-name artists like Ed Sheeran and Hannah Reid (London Grammar). They’ve chatted about their creative process, what they love about music, and more. Check it out here! “Pretty Shining People,” “Hold My Girl” and “Saviour” will all be featured on George’s upcoming album, Staying At Tamara’s, which is set to release on the 23rd of this month. I am particularly loving “Saviour,” right now. This haunting single features the band First Aid Kit, and the heartbreaking, repeated lyric that I love: “all of me is all for you, and what I have to give is not enough.”

James Bay: “Pink Lemonade”

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This single, which came out on March 7th, is incredibly different from anything James has ever released–especially considering the fact that his debut EP “The Dark Of the Morning” (2013) is all acoustic. Although he’s released Chaos And The Calm since then, a pop-alternative album featuring his most popular song, “Let It Go,” this single strays far from James’ usual style with its harsh electric guitar and a more gruff vocal style from James. Check out his SNL performance of “Pink Lemonade”  here!

Albums

a4082023118_10 Little Chief: Lion’s Den

One word to describe this record: cathartic. Little Chief is a folk band from the Ozark Mountains who are often compared to artists such as The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons and the Head and the Heart. The song “Lion’s Den” on the record is about mustering the strength to put your faith in things that are unseen, and let go of what may happen in the future. Every song on this album tells a story of perseverance, resilience, and finding peace in the most difficult moments.

HONNE: Warm On A Cold Nighta93acfc2563cf68c465f554ef956a292.970x970x1

I’m OBSESSED with the vocals on this album. Lead singer Andy Clutterbuck’s voice is low, hypnotizing and perfectly complimented by the backing guitar and piano on this record. My absolute favorite song right now is “It Aint Wrong Loving You.” A catchy, sweet pick-me-up tune.

Now Playing: Winter 2017

I’ve been listening to a lot of chilling (pun intended–it’s cold as heck outside) tunes lately, and I wanted to share a few of them with you. Enjoy, and please tweet me any suggestions you have!

Wolf_Alice_-_Visions_of_a_LifeWolf Alice: Visions Of a Life

I initially discovered this record when I saw Wolf Alice live for the first time in Portland a few months ago. I was immediately intrigued by lead singer Ellie Rowsell’s chilling voice–Courtney Barnett meets Dolores O’Riordan. My favorite tracks from the record are “Don’t Delete The Kisses” and “Planet Hunter.” I’ve been annoying my roommates by playing these two earworms over and over. Both tracks are drastically different from each other. One is a longing, soft ballad and the other is a loud, poem-esque sing-along that is guaranteed to get suck in your head. This album is fairly new–it was just released in September.

 

Kodaline: I Wouldn’t Be EP

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I’ve been obsessed with this EP, lately. Although it came out in October, I didn’t hear about it’s release until one of the tracks popped up on my Spotify recommended. And thank goodness it did, because I’ve had the track, “I Wouldn’t Be” on repeat, since. This little ditty is sung in the style of an Irish ballad–complete with bagpipes and bone-chilling harmonies. (Seriously, you’ve gotta listen to it.) The rest of the EP is fabulous as well. My other favorite is “The Riddle.” Truly some of Kodaline’s best work.

 

James McAlister, Bryce Dessner, Sufjan Stevens & Nico Muhly: Planetarium

Planetarium-web-1497014950Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching too much Stranger Things, complete with it’s excellent 80’s soundtrack. Or maybe because of my friends’ recent re-interest in The Police and Corey Heart…but for some reason, I am SO into synthesizers right now…and 80’s/ambient music in general. Which is why Planetarium has become a favorite of mine. The electric guitar solos, spacey riffs, unique tones, and  feedback included on each track makes the whole album quite an experience to listen to. My favorite tune by far on the record is “Mercury.” Check it out–each song is named after a planet.

 

Swimming Tapes: Soft Sea Blue EP

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The perfect study soundtrack. Chill, honeyed vocals paired with lush guitar tones. My favorite track off this EP, which was released in September, is “Allison.” Swimming Tapes, an up-and-coming U.K. band has only released two EPs and a few singles so far, and I’m super excited to hear what they do next!

 

 

 

Happy Holidays, music-lovers around the world. 🙂

An Interview With Haley Johnsen

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Haley Johnsen

28-year-old singer-songwriter Haley Johnsen is a risk-taker. From landing herself a spot in the top 24 of American Idol Season 11, releasing her debut EP Through the Blue in 2015, and playing The Troubadour stage in Los Angeles, Haley refuses to let fear inhibit her success. Haley “is a one-of-a-kind voice with gusto and soul, and mesmerizing presence. One of the Pacific Northwest’s most individual up-and-coming acts,” according to her website. She has toured with Texas-based band The Wind and the Wave, Seattle-based band Gabriel Wolfchild and the Northern Light, Season 8 Winner of The Voice, Sawyer Fredericks, and is good friends with famed American Idol winner, Phillip Phillips.

Despite all of her amazing success over the years, Haley hasn’t always felt as confident in herself as she is today. Haley’s struggle with inner doubt and self-reflection helped her develop into the strong, kick-ass Indie-folk singer we know and love today.

A Perfect Playlist: Tell me a little bit about how you got started. How long have you been singing?

Haley Johnsen: I would say the first official age I began singing was around 3 years old when I first watched The Little Mermaid. Throughout my youth, you might have found me singing in a closet so no one in my house could hear me. I was painfully shy and didn’t want anyone to know I could sing. As I got older and warmed up to the idea, I began singing in my college A Capella group and Chamber Choir, and from that point on, I continued to develop my voice as a professional singer-songwriter.

ppAPP: You were a contestant on American Idol and ended up making it to the top 24! That’s amazing. Tell me a little bit about that experience and how it shaped you as an artist.

HJ: Being on American Idol was a game changer for me. I was so terrified each time I made it through an audition, but the adrenaline was enough to make me realize that I was in it to win it. I had to overcome a lot of inner doubt and I worked as hard as I possibly could to prepare for each performance. Being on the show was one of the most fun, terrifying, and life-changing times in my life. It made me realize how much singing and music means to me, and I began to realize I have a responsibility to myself and the rest of the world to do something with the voice I was given. (Right: Haley and American Idol winner Phillip Phillips.)

Click here to watch a bit of Haley’s American Idol journey!

APP: Who are your influences?

HJ: Brandi Carlile, Bonnie Raitt, Florence and the Machine, Eva Cassidy, Grace Potter, Aretha Franklin…I could name so many more! These are the women who inspired me to sing with power and grace. 

APP: What’s the story behind one of your most popular tunes, “Feel The Water?” 

HJ: “Feel the Water” first came to me during a guitar lesson with my bandmate. I created the chord progression and structure of the song, but it took me almost 3 months to put words to the tune. When I finally did, it’s almost as if it wrote itself. It was as if a voice in my head was telling me to believe in myself, so that’s what I wrote about. I expressed how it feels to be afraid to do something, and how much I had been struggling with being confident in myself. I had been feeling numb, and this song helped pull me out of that. I think now this song could be for others to reflect on what might be going on inside themselves, and what areas they are longing to be more courageous in.

APP: Where do you find inspiration to write music? Do you have a particular place you like to go, or any type of method that helps you think creatively?

HJ: I used to rent this little Airbnb Cabin in Hood River for a weekend at a time. I would go there by myself and just write for hour and hours and demo out my songs. I definitely need to be alone when I first begin to brainstorm ideas for a song.

APP: Do you have a pre-show ritual?

HJ: I always warm up my voice for at least 20 minutes. Sometimes if I really need to pump myself up, I’ll do a few pushups to get the blood flowin’. I always take a moment to breathe, close my eyes, and check in with myself. I give myself a little pep talk and say “Hey, you’re awesome. You got this.” I think centering myself before going on stage always helps me stay grounded during the performance.

    

APP: What has been your favorite venue to perform in?

HJ: My favorite venue I’ve played so far was The Troubadour in Los Angeles. Artists like Elton John and Joni Mitchel got their start in the music industry by playing there, and it was just such an honor to stand where so many other legends had performed.

APP: What do you hope fans will derive from your music?

HJ: I hope that my music speaks to those who need to hear it. A lot of my music is just me working through something, telling myself I just need to take the risk and believe. So many people don’t pursue their passions because they don’t think they can do it or it feels too unfamiliar and scary. I believe that tapping into your creative self, no mater how “successful” you are in it, is the most important thing we can do for ourselves. I want to inspire that.

APP: If you could perform a duet with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

HJ: I would perform a song with Florence and the Machine. She just seems like such a fun and sweet person to be around, but she is also such a force of nature on stage. She’s not afraid to wail. Singing a powerful ballad or something with her would be a dream.

APP: “When You Lit The Sky” is your latest record, as it just came out this August. (Love it, by the way.) Is there a particular track on that album that is close to your heart?

My last track “Carry On.” This song came to me 3 days after the Pulse Night Club Shooting. I was feeling very distraught and just wanted to write something that was comforting to me. I strived to convey the idea and possibility that we are all stronger together when we show empathy. I want everyone to know that they are not alone, and that we need to show our love and compassion for one another now more than ever. 

 

Follow Haley:

Spotify

Website

Instagram

All photos are courtesy of Haley’s website/social media.

Cassette Tape Revival

Rewind! Over the past few years, you’ve probably noticed a huge resurgence in retro music formats. Vinyl has seen 260% growth since 2009, according to Forbes magazine. These days, I constantly see teens in addition to adults digging through the vinyl crates in the record store I work in. What may have started as a Instagram-motivated fad has now adapted into a full fledged vinyl revolution, encouraging young audiophiles to re-embrace the physical side of music during this age of Spotify and Apple music.

In addition to vinyl, cassette tapes have recently made a comeback. Mainstream artists like Khalid, Lana Del Ray, Arcade Fire, and The 1975 are releasing their latest albums on vinyl, CD, and now, cassette. Urban Outfitters has started selling clear, portable cassette tape players. (Gotta admit–they’re pretty cool. Here’s a tip, though: you can get something similar at Goodwill or a thrift shop for way cheaper.) “Check out my mixtape” isn’t just a silly phrase anymore–kids are actually making tapes again. (Okay, maybe it’s still a silly phrase.)

According to The Verge, “Helping the cassette boom are a few factors. For one, the official soundtrack for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is still going strong, despite its 2014 release. The soundtrack, featured heavily in the movie as the personal mixtape of Chris Pratt’s character Peter Quill, sold 4,000 cassettes last year.”

FullSizeRenderIf you want to get in on the trend, you can find cassette tapes at pretty much any local record store. If you’re looking to get creative and make your own, all you need is a CD collection, tape recorder, blank cassette tapes (you can get them at Fred Meyer) and Google images. I made some pretty quirky personalized mixtapes for my friends (see right and above)–they work great as birthday presents or just random lil surprises to show you care.

It’s pretty rad how retro is constantly becoming  the new cool. What’s next, the return of 8-tracks and floppy disks? I’m all for it!

Soundtrack to my Summer 2017

My summers at home are made up of memorable sunsets, vibrant colors, favorite foods, lovely smells, special people, the books I get lost in, and notable music. I remember each of my summers differently through these things, and looking back on them brings back the feelings I had during that time.

Every summer, I like to give you a little sample of what I’ve been listening to. I’ve got an extra good feeling about Summer 2017. ❤

alt-J: Relaxer (album)

alt-j-relaxer-album-artworkListen to this album while drinking lemonade in a hammock, or laying out on the grass in the evening. Each song on this album is expertly formulated–with slow, dramatic melodies and soft guitar slides paired seamlessly with their trademark maraca and echoey guitar riffs, this album incorporates these aspects in addition to celctic-esque harmonies in order to create the sound that makes alt-J so unique. According to MTV, the band also apparently tackles themes of climate change in this record. Also, the name of this album is extremely fitting–it’s a great record to simply chill out and relax to, and I’ve even fallen asleep to it a few times.

george-ezra-dont-matter-now-1George Ezra: “Don’t Matter Now” (single)

This is the perfect song to sing along to in the car with friends on a warm summer night. It’s been a while since George released any new music since his debut album, Wanted On A Voyage in 2015. This single, which he launched with a fun music video, is about remembering the fun things in life, taking time to yourself, traveling and being carefree. This song is a great way to remind yourself that the past year is in the past–let it go, it don’t matter now!

32c0dc1effb1c4cbc5068a10bb591eac.1000x1000x1ARIZONA: Gallery (album)

Woah woah woah. This album, lemme tell ya, sounds incredible live. I had the pleasure of seeing ARIZONA open for the band Coin a few days ago in Portland, and they did not disappoint. Their sound is R&B mixed with electronic and dreamy pop, and a few of my favorites off of this album (which is their very first) are “Annie,” “Electric Touch,” and “Oceans Away.” Their opening set was rad, and I absolutely loved the backing guitar in every single song.

jap houseThe Japanese House: “Saw You In A Dream” (single)

I first heard this song when Matty Healy, lead singer of The 1975, tweeted about it. The Japanese House has a very memorable, distinct style–reverberating vocals and dreamlike electric guitar and piano. Definitely one of my picks this summer as a refreshing, new band that are rising onto the music scene.

 

COIN: How Will You Know If You Never Try (album)

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I saw these guys live with my friend and sister a few nights ago, and they rocked! Lead singer Chase Lawrence had crazy amount of energy that kept the crowd engaged the entire show. The band’s stage set was amazing, too–complete with a neon hand hanging from the ceiling, reaching towards a large cardboard cut out of a gravestone with the words: “How Will You Know If You Never Try?” written on it. Coin have a sound similar to the band Bad Suns–alternative rock with a hint of Saint Motel vibes. I love pretty much the whole of their new record, but a few of my favorites are “Boyfriend,” “Are We Alone?” and “Don’t Cry, 2020.” Their fans loved these songs too–they screamed the lyrics back at Chase, seeming to overwhelm him with surprise and love.

16227a22a29ffaf90eaa55a24d26bdd3.1000x1000x1Liam Gallagher: “Wall Of Glass” (single)

If you think you don’t know who Liam Gallagher is, you do. He was 1/2 of the band Oasis, the iconic 90’s band who released the hit single everyone and their mothers know, “Wonderwall.” Liam debuted this new single during Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester benefit concert a few weeks ago in anticipation of his first ever solo record, As You Were, set to release later this year. Although Liam (and his brother, Noel) are known to be pretty bratty, I gotta admit, their music is stellar. If this new single is anything like the rest of Liam’s upcoming album, it’s sure to be a hit.