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Neon Trees :: My Favorite Artists/Bands

I first discovered Neon Trees seeing them perform live, opening for 30 Seconds to Mars, a little bit after the band’s debut album came out. I had never heard of them before, and after being subjected to two very poor opening acts, I was ready to be unimpressed, and disappointed, yet again. That was not how it went, though. No, Neon Trees blew me away, especially lead singer Tyler Glenn who is quite the front man/show man. He reminded me a lot of Brandon Flowers (The Killers) and Simon LeBon (Duran Duran), who take a stage by storm and make it not just a concert, but a SHOW. Tyler was like that, and for that matter, the entire band was. I left the concert itching to hear more, and telling anyone that would listen that they were “a band to watch“.

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The music off that first album, it felt like some of the New Wave music I loved in the 80’s, infused with pop sensibilities, lyrically clever and catchy, and just all-around feel good music. It was music to fill a Summer with, music to drive with the volume up loud with, and music to make out with a new lover to, maybe in the backseat, maybe in the Summer, you get my point, right?

Their second album cast a little more shade than the first. There was some jadedness among the electo-pop energy, but not enough to make any of it “dark” per se. I love the Hollywood/Los Angeles feel to it all, the way the album felt a bit “concept” in its cinematic/”Picture Show” theme. There were some addictive, upbeat tunes in the midst though, especially radio-friendly single Everybody Talks which everyone seemed to know (another very Summer feeling song).

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It was the third album, though, that I fell in love with. One of my favorite albums of last year, Pop Psychology was one of those right place at the right time albums for me, scooping me up and holding me close to it, giving me just what I needed at the time. I played the album obsessively, and certain songs played muse to my writing, especially Voices in the Hall, which was instrumental to an entire story, and the lead characters within it, that I’m still working my way through. There is an honesty and an intimacy in all the songs that were not as present in the bands previous work, a reality within even the poppiest of pop songs in the bunch. I love this album so fucking much.

I’m excited for their next release. The first single, Songs I Can’t Listen To, is already a favorite and on multiple replay in my life. I’m also thrilled that I get to see them live again, this time as the headliners, this Friday at the Fonda Theatre – can’t wait!

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Neon Trees is originally from Provo, Utah. Known for their energetic live performances, the band received nationwide exposure in late 2008 when they opened several North American tour dates for the band The Killers (oh my stars, how I would LOVE to see them play with The Killers). Not long after, the band was signed by Mercury Records and released their first album, Habits, in 2010. Their first single Animal climbed to # 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and # 1 on the Alternative Rock chart.

Formed initially by neighbors Tyler Glenn (vocals, keyboards) and Chris Allen (guitar,vocals), who both grew up in Murrieta, California, the band made its first home in Provo, after Chris and Tyler moved there from Southern California, eventually adding Branden Campbell (bass guitar, vocals) and Elaine Bradley (drums, percussion, vocals) to the lineup. David Charles also plays with the band as touring guitarist.

They first started playing under the name Neon Trees in late 2005 with five original members, Tyler Glenn and Chris Allen from California, and three veterans of the Utah music scene, bass player Mike Liechty, drummer Jason Gibbons and keyboardist Nathan Evans. The band’s name originates from the lighted trees on the In-N-Out Burger signs, which inspired Tyler Glenn. In a strange twist of fate, it was later learned that Branden Campbell’s father, Steve Campbell, installed the exact Neon Trees in the In-N-Out that inspired Glenn while working for a sign company out of Las Vegas. The band is well known throughout Provo and Salt Lake City, Utah, where it was formed. All four members of Neon Trees are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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They released an EP called Becoming Different People in 2006 during the time of their first tour through California. The EP featured promising songs like Phones, Sister Stereo, Up Against the Glass. They also recorded other unreleased tracks during the Treehouse Sessions in 2006.

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The band’s lineup soon narrowed down to four members with Branden Campbell and Elaine Bradley joining the group on bass and drums, respectively. Shortly thereafter, The Killers’ drummer, Ronnie Vannucci Jr., went to watch the band play at a small club in Las Vegas as he had been in a Ska band called Attaboy Skip with Neon Trees bassist Branden Campbell prior to joining The Killers. Ronnie was impressed, and as a result they were chosen to open for The Killers for a string of dates on their 2008 North American tour. Vannucci later helped the band sign to major label Mercury Records, which was announced in late 2008. Additionally, the group was voted Band of the Year in 2009 by City Weekly, a popular Salt Lake City publication.

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Although they had several prior independent releases, the band released its debut album at Mercury/Def Jam, Habits, on March 16, 2010. Animal was chosen as the lead single and was shortly thereafter featured as the Free Single of the Week on iTunes in March 2010.

They performed the song on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on March 23, 2010, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on May 14, 2010, Lopez Tonight on October 18, 2010, Live! with Regis & Kelly on November 4, 2010, and TBS’ Conan on November 24, 2010.

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They performed a second single 1983 on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on January 13, 2011 and another stint on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Jan 18, 2011. They performed third single Your Surrender on Late Show with David Letterman on May 5, 2011 and a third appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Jun 10, 2011. Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 selected Animal as his Spin Magazine Pick of the Week. The song has also been featured on a commercial for Las Vegas and remixed by popular American DJ, Kaskade. The group has also released a digital EP of four remixes of the song, one of which by Tyler Glenn.

In 2010 the band covered Justin Bieber’s song Baby as well as Ben E. King’s Stand By Me. Throughout the Spring of 2010 the band, along with Mutemath and Street Drum Corps, opened for the Thirty Seconds to Mars tour Into The Wild (this is when I discovered them). Subsequently, they headlined the Summer 2010 Bang The Gong Tour with Paper Tongues, MeTalkPretty, and Civil Twilight, performed a set to 7,000 a tLollapalooza, and are heading back out on tour with Thirty Seconds to Mars in the Fall.

In November 2010, the band released a Christmas single called Wish List. It was available for free on iTunes the first week it was released. In November 2010, Tyler and Elaine appeared as Neon Trees on Daryl Hall’s monthly Internet concert series Live From Daryl’s House. They performed four songs from Habits, including Animal and 1983, as well as the Fleetwood Mac hit Dreams and Hall & Oates songs Head Above Water and Adult Education.

Dreams (live) 

Neon Trees released a live album iTunes Live From SoHo in November 2010 featuring eight live tracks: Calling My Name, Animal, Your Surrender, Never Tear Us Apart, In The Next Room, 1983, Love And Affection, and Sins Of My Youth.

Never Tear Us Apart (live)

They opened a show for Panic! At The Disco in Central Park in September 2011.

From March 31, 2011 to April 23, 2011, they are also expected to open for My Chemical Romance during the North American leg of their World Contamination Tour. In September and October 2011, they opened for Duran Duran on the North American leg of the All You Need Is Now tour (I would love see them play with Duran Duran, too).

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Neon Trees’ second studio album Picture Show was released on April 17, 2012.

On June 28, 2012, Neon Trees was the opening act for the Flaming Lips concert poolside at the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi as a part of their Guinness World Record for the most concerts in different cities in a 24-hour period.

On August 29, 2012, Neon Trees performed Everybody Talks on the America’s Got Talent live results show.

In early fall 2012, the band toured with The Offspring and Dead Sara. In 2013 they joined Maroon 5 in their world tour alongside Owl City. In November/December 2013 they were a support act for Taylor Swift’s three concerts in New Zealand and four concerts in Australia.

The band was featured on NBC’s coverage of the 2012 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They performed an abbreviated version of their hit single Everybody Talks.

The second single from the album is the track Lessons in Love (All Day, All Night) with the collaboration of American record producer and D.J. Kaskade.

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On January 10, Neon Trees’ third studio album was announced. The album, Pop Psychology, was released on April 22, 2014.

The first single from Pop Psychology, titled Sleeping with a Friend, was released for digital download. The band performed the single on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on January 22, 2014.

Neon Trees later released four more singles following Sleeping with a Friend. The singles were titled I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends), Voices In the Halls, and First Things First..

In 2015 they announced An Intimate Night With Neon Trees Tour. The tour is running from June 6th to July 26th finishing up in Boston, MA at the Paradise Rock Club. They will be joined by Alex Winston, Yes You Are, Coin &/or Fictionist for various dates of the tour.

Catch them live, like I am, in a city near you. Tour dates can be found here.

On May 5, they released a non-album single, titled Songs I Can’t Listen To and an accompanying music video on June 3.

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Following are my Top Ten favorite Neon Trees’ tracks, so far. Will you share yours with me?

1. Voices in the Hall
from the album, Pop Psychology

“Every time we drive the coast
Heaven or Las Vegas in your car,
playing on your broken speakers,
me asleep and warm inside your arms.
No it’s never like what it used to be,
maybe it’s just never really was.
But every night when I get home,
I can hear your voices in the halls.”

2. Sins of My Youth 
from the album, Habits

“Call me crazy,
I was born to make a mess.”

3.Text Me in the Morning
from the album, Pop Psychology

“So text me in the morning,
tell me you still love me,
I don’t believe a single word.
You tell me you’re tipsy,
I tell you you’re pretty,
we could spend the night if you’re still sure.”

4. Animal
from the album, Habits

“Here we are again,
I feel the chemicals kickin’ in,
it’s gettin’ heavier;
I wanna run and hide.”

5. Songs I Can’t Listen To
No album (yet)

“And it’s all because of you,
I’ve got a list of songs I can’t listen to.”

6. Everybody Talks
from the album, Picture Show

“It started with a whisper,
and that was when i kissed her,
and then she made my lips hurt.”

7. Sleeping with a Friend
from the album, Pop Psychology

“And why mess up a good thing, baby?
It’s a risk to even fall in love.”

8. 1983
from the album, Habits

“1983 is calling.”

9. Close to Me
from the album, Picture Show

“Give me fire,
give me fire,
it’ll burn all your fear away.”

10. Love in the 21st Century
from the album, Pop Psychology

“I don’t believe making out is a dead romance,
I miss the days being kids simply holding hands.
I’m sick of wondering if you would ever call me back,
I check my 4 different accounts just to end up mad.”

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