Treasure Island Music Festival: New music from 2013 artists

Treasure-Island-Music-Festival-2013Photo by Marc Fong // Written by Mike Frash

Treasure Island Music Festival serves as the exclamation point to festival season in the Bay Area, giving music lovers one more chance to live it up before winter. The festival, which takes place this year October 19 & 20 in the middle of the bay, is properly stacked this year, offering a pleasant mix of up-and-coming indie fare along with DJs that bring the rage and rock outfits that bring the noise. Really, there are at least 7 reasons to GO BIG.

The placement of this festival mid-Fall creates some interesting dynamics for artist tours — some groups have been touring relentlessly and will likely be wrapping up their current road trip in the fall (see STRFKR, James Blake, Palma Violets and Major Lazer).

Other groups are just getting started, releasing new music in the coming weeks before playing TIMF. Here are six artists to keep an eye on before heading to the island.

Holy Ghost!
Dynamics releases September 10, 2013
Best Tracks: “Dumb Disco Ideas”, “Okay”, “Bridge & Tunnel”

Holy Ghost! procured a retro-house disco sound through live instrumentation long before nouveau disco became the sound of 2013 thanks to Daft Punk, and now Arcade Fire. Arcade Fire has launched their new single, “Reflektor”, in a big way September 9 — And LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy is already garnering credit for helping to transform the group to a dance party catalyst with their forthcoming release. Before the Arcade Fire long player is available in full, James Murphy’s label DFA will release Holy Ghost!’s second LP Dynamics Tuesday, September 10.

While Holy Ghost!’s second full length doesn’t read as a raging dance party throughout, their live show sure does. The Brooklyn duo consists of a songwriting partnership between Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel, but the touring group fills out to a thick porridge of seven people, including LCD System’s Nancy Whang at times. At FYF Music Festival August 25, the group set the crowd afire by playing songs faster, segueing them seamlessly and by curating a pleasing stage set-up (see “Dumb Disco Ideas” above). The sum of these parts is a pumped up, ass-shaking crowd that usually only happens with DJs these days — yet Holy Ghost! achieves this through instrumental layering that delivers a nuanced, deeper sound that isn’t found in the group’s studio work.

Whispers of “the new LCD Soundsystem” have been reverberating around the web and the water cooler, and it’s a fair comparison within the context of the live experience both groups create — LCD left a gaping hole in the world of live music by hanging it up, and it’s easy to envision Holy Ghost! filling this gap over the next year.

The group performed a live set on LA’s Morning Becomes Eclectic (KCRW) September 9, showing exactly why they are a group on the rise. When performing live they sound grittier, with faster BPMs, and they exhibit more control around build-ups and explosive moments. “Dumb Disco Ideas”, “Okay” and “Bridge and Tunnel” were all more intense than their clean, sanitized versions on Dynamics.

When asked about DFA, they said that the label is “somewhat responsible for the band’s existence,” and that they have been with Murphy’s label since the beginning. “DFA stuck with us for 4 years while we were figuring things out.” The morning show also announced Nancy Whang was performing with the group Monday. The inclusion of Whang on the full tour with Holy Ghost! would add yet another similarity between this musical metaphor.

Regarding the performance at FYF August 25, they called it the “Best show we’ve ever played in the United States,” saying the crowd was great and it was a memorable night. It seems distinctly possible that the party animals that populate Treasure Island October 19th will set the bar even higher.

Days Are Gone releases September 30, 2013
Best Tracks (so far): “Forever”, “Falling” and “Don’t Save Me”

One of the fastest rising groups of 2013, Haim, have a not-so-obvious way of pronouncing their name. It rhymes with “time”, so if life were fair the spelling would be HIME. But, that’s the name these three talented sisters were given at birth.

Many of the tracks from their first long player, which officially drops September 30, have been trickling out for over a year. It’s apparent the premiere album from the LA sister trio will be well received, since about half the songs on the album track list are already out, and they are great. Songs like “Forever” and “Falling” are so well-regarded they’ve already received multi-artist remix treatment. And the group has been so productive the last couple years that some previously released songs like “Send Me Down” and “Better Off” didn’t make the final cut of Days Are Gone.

Este, Danielle & Alana HAIM have a unique relationship with rhythm & melody — their vocals often syncopate with rhythm over melody, especially with backing vocals. This unique vocal tactic circles around addictive hooks that twist and build while evolving past traditional verse/refrain/verse song structure.

Treasure Island Music Festival 2013 will somehow be the group’s first performance in the Bay Area, even though the LA-based group have played Southern California and in Europe dozens of times. Get there early Sunday for this one.

Sleigh Bells
Bitter Rivals releases October 8, 2013

Things have been evolving quickly for noise-rock duo Sleigh Bells. Their third album in three years, Bitter Rivals, will unleash in early October. Singer Alexis Krauss is now heavily involved in production — guitarist, songwriter and producer Derek Miller did all the heavy lifting on the groups’ 2010 breakthrough Treats.

Krauss & Miller have been planning a “cleaner, more melodic album” for their third record. Does this mean fuzzy guitar anthems are out in favor of easy to digest tracks like “Rill Rill”. Lead single “Bitter Rivals” hints that the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Expect this set to be one of the loudest sets of the weekend, even though Sunday is usually a day reserved for more mellow indy fare like James Blake or Real Estate.

Two new albums to be released in late 2013, early 2014.

We’ve known for about nine months that Beck has had two albums in the works for this year — yet as we head toward the Fall we don’t have any official release dates for his acoustic album and the proper follow-up to 2008’s Modern Guilt.

What we do have are two new songs that are meant to be stand-alone tracks — Neither “Defriended” or “I Won’t Be Long” will be found on Beck’s forthcoming records. Although, both tracks would serve as excellent lead singles for any Beck record.

The most delicious part about these two new tracks are the 14+ minutes b-sides of the same songs. The extended version of “I Won’t Be Long” is an adventurous journey that begins in My Bloody Valentine territory, then it wallows blissfully in the refrain “I won’t be long” before grinding down into a feedback-based breakdown, then rebirthing where the song started.

Let’s hope Beck feels like extending these new tracks at Treasure Island to end the weekend.

New album, possibility titled Voices, to be released in late 2013, early 2014.

Phantogram haven’t released any new music from their second long player, which is due this fall, but expect to hear at least a couple new cuts before they hit up TIMF in six weeks. The group headlines a month-long tour in the fall and have been in the studio this summer. Phantogram’s recent teaser video (view it above) promises more of the same — an awesome amalgamation of dance, beats and indie rock.

There’s been a lot of hash tagging of #phantogramvoices lately on Phantogram’s social media — a new single and album release date seem imminent, maybe as early as this or next week.

UPDATE 9/12: Phantogram released a new song entitled “Black Out Days”:

Little Dragon
The group’s fourth LP to be released in late 2013, early 2014.

Much like Phantogram, Little Dragon are hard at work on a new album, and they’ve shared a video to prove it too. Little Dragon only have four shows lined up in October, including their appearance at Treasure Island Music Festival.


  1. So excited!! Such a great line-up. Thanks for the tips!


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