Wednesday, January 18, 2017

New songs For January 18th, 2017

here they are:

"Bad Year For Rock And Roll" by Chuck Prophet: In this roots-y Springsteen-esque rock tune, Chuck Prophet accurately describes what last year (and probably the last 10 or 15, for that matter) has been for rock music. In a world full of Justin Biebers and Taylor Swifts, Chuck dares to be a man armed with an electric guitar instead of an auto-tune device. "Bad Year..." goes deeper than just pointing out rock's lack of popularity on the charts, though. It is also an homage to the loss of people like Prince and (especially) David Bowie who died last year. "The Thin White Duke took a final bow", sings Chuck in one verse. Here's hoping we won't lose as many rock 'n' roll greats in 2017!

"Hot Thoughts" by Spoon: Most of this week's (and last week's) songs were merely leftovers from 2016. "Hot Thoughts" by Spoon marks the first official release of 2017! This song is as danceable and funky as it is quirky and intellectual, bringing to mind groups like Talking Heads, albeit with more of an orchestral section than David Byrne and co have in their tunes. We're not exactly sure what "hot thoughts" are, but this song is so catchy that I don't really care. It's cool enough to even have a song like this one around!

"Peace Trail" by Neil Young: The ragged, grungy rock of Neil Young has never sounded so mystical! In spite of its serene sounding title, "Peace Trail" is not one of Neil's folkier numbers, but it still manages to be soft and melodic thanks to its steady flowing beat and Neil's sweet vocal delivery. Young's latest album is supposed to have an angry, political edge to it, but "Peace Trail" is neither. Seriously, what's more hippie-sounding than a "rainbow tepee sky"? The title of the song itself also suggests a turning back of the clocks a few decades to when peace and love ruled the world. If only Neil could be President. Songs like this one suggest to me that he'd make a mighty good one!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2017: New songs for the New Year!!

Happy New Year everyone!! Yeah, I realize I'm 11 days late, but it took awhile for some new songs to come out this time around. Thankfully, here are 5 of them to help you kick this year into full blown musical action!

"Cold Cold Cold" by Cage the Elephant: After the stompin' garage rock of "Mess Around" and the calmer psychedelic folk-rock of "Trouble" comes a song that seems to strike a perfect balance between those two for Cage the Elephant, "Cold Cold Cold". This song is soft but still a little jazzy in a way that almost brings to mind what a psychedelic tinged bossa nova song might be like. A psychedelic blues-rock guitar solo comes in towards the end of the song, perhaps for CTE to maintain their image as a "rock band" or perhaps just to goof around and have some fun. Either way, "Cold Cold Cold" is a hot hot hot song as far as I'm concerned!

"Good With God" by Old 97's (featuring Brandi Carlile): 2016 was almost as terrible a year as 1971 was for the music world in terms of how many people we lost that year. Thankfully Rhett Miller and the rest of The Old 97's are still alive and kickin', yet it seems like Rhett can't help but feel in his latest song, "Good With God", like he might just be the next one to be swept up to Rock And Roll Heaven. In this "Ghost Riders In the Sky" styled number, he assures himself that he isn't afraid of possibility of this happening and that he's "good with God". And where does Brandi Carlile figure into all of this?! Well, as it turns out, she IS God in the context of this song. Considering how laid back (a bit TOO laid back for my taste) Brandi usually is, she does a pretty stunning and compelling performance as the (Wo)man Upstairs in this song!

"Name For You" by The Shins: Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on...into middle age, for The Shins' James Mercer. In "Name For You", a song that combines power pop with ska in a similar manner to how The Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" did, James reflects on being a dad who is a year past 45 (can you believe it?!) One of his little girls is at least 8 if not older, as The Shins guest starred on "Yo Gabba Gabba" on 2008 back when she wasn't even old enough to attend preschool, which is another thing that makes the once young and fresh indie pop star feel like he's inching ever closer to being viewed as "oldies" like his influences such as The Beatles, The Byrds, The Beach Boys, and The Zombies are all viewed as and have been for awhile at this point. This may sound like the plot of some coming of age indie film written and produced by Zach Braff, but I can assure you that the events "Name For You" has been based on are 100 % real!

"Roll With the Punches" by Dawes: Mumford and Sons might have made folk-rock cool again, but Dawes have made folk-rock rock again! Dawes' organ driven rocker, "Roll With the Punches", is a gritty, roots-y song that sounds like it was pulled straight out of the Robbie Robertson/Levon Helm handbook (it bears a slight resemblance to The Band's "Chest Fever" to me). The song's shimmering Crosby Stills & Nash styled harmonies contrast slightly with the sizzling energy it has to offer. Not nearly as compelling as Dawes' song "When the Tequila Runs Out" from summer of last year, but still worth listening to if ya ask me.

"To Be Without You" by Ryan Adams: I can't believe my eyes! ANOTHER new Ryan Adams song?! But I just reviewed him last month! Oh well, on with the show, as they say. Those who thought Adams' "The Prisoner" would be full of high energy rock songs might be disappointed when they hear this one, but for others, "To Be Without You" might offer proof that Ryan Adams might finally be comfortable enough to include a rock song and a ballad on the same album! It seems that Ryan is copying his own material in "To Be Without You", which sounds a bit like his own "Everybody Knows", but it is a slightly longer and much more heartfelt song than that one was. The lyrics are exactly what you might think they would be on a song called "To Be Without You", sad and forlorn. Perhaps "Do You Still Love Me?" and "To Be Without You" were, respectively, question and answer songs for the same album.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Top 20 of 2016!!!

Here it is, folks! The moment you've all been waiting for! Counting 'em down from 20 to 1!! Here we go:

20. "I Need Never Get Old" - Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats
19. "Spirits" - The Strumbellas
18. "Mess Around" - Cage the Elephant
17. "Casual Party" - Band of Horses
16. "Wish I Knew You" - The Revivalists
15. "When the Tequila Runs Out" - Dawes
14. "Trouble" - Cage the Elephant
13. "Move" - Saint Motel
12. "Under the Influence" - Elle King
11. "I Can't Stop Thinking About You" - Sting
10. "Ditmas" - Mumford and Sons
9. "Cleopatra" - The Lumineers
8. "Pretty Pimpin'" - Kurt Vile
7. "Ain't No Man" - The Avett Brothers
6. "All We Ever Knew" - The Head and The Heart
5. "Fire" - Barns Courtney
4. "Off the Ground" - The Record Company
3. "Waste A Moment" - Kings of Leon
2. "Dark Necessities" - Red Hot Chili Peppers

annndddd....the number one song of the year is...


Well, that's it! See ya next year everyone!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

New songs for December 14th, 2016

here they are:

"Back Against the Wall" by Son Volt: Son Volt have come a long way from their days in the mid '90s as a rowdier country-rock group with their minor alt-rock radio song, "Drown". They've become a lot quieter and sadder since then. "Back Against the Wall" is probably one of the most bittersweet songs Son Volt have recorded. Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that the album it's from is called "Notes of Blue". Maybe we'll get an entire album of bittersweet ballads from the alt-country quintet! "Back Against the Wall" is not without clues of the band's rock 'n' roll past, though, as it does contain a ragged, Neil Young-esque guitar solo towards the middle and end of it.

"Do You Still Love Me?" by Ryan Adams: It's not often that one of the most heavily anticipated songs of the year comes in December, yet Ryan Adams' latest song is now getting airplay on 25 adult alt stations, and it only took less than a week of the song's existence for people to fall head over heels in love with it! Why is this, you ask?! Well, it's because "Do You Still Love Me?" is one of those songs that just grabs you by the neck and proclaims its power right on the spot as soon as you hear it! The song is performed in an arena-rock-cum-roots-rock style, not unlike certain songs by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and John Mellencamp, and it has one of the most boastful guitar solos ever known in a Ryan Adams tune! Do we still love you, Ryan?! You bet we do! Keep coming out with songs like this one and we'll only love you more!

"Painting (Masterpiece)" by Lewis del Mar: Lewis del Mar is not one person, but two people, in spite of how their moniker might sound at first. Their debut song, "Painting (Masterpiece)", is as colorful as its title makes it sound, both musically and lyrically. The thumping C sharp bass note in the beginning of the song makes it sound a little similar to Everclear's "Father of Mine", albeit a lot less grungy and a lot more...ummm...indie...tronic?! (It's hard to come up with a term to describe what their music sounds like, haha). The lyrics of "Painting (Masterpiece)" use a lot of color related imagery, particularly during the chorus. To this, I can only say that although it might not be easy to be green, I don't feel blue about it. As a matter of fact, I'm tickled pink!

"Radio Kids" by Strand of Oaks: Strand of Oaks sure are radio kids, too! Their breakthrough song, "Goshen '97", talked about "singing Pumpkins" (as in Smashing) "in the mirror". In "Radio Kids", the arena rock of the '80s collides with a chord progression that sounds similar to "Morning Glory" by Oasis from the '90s. Strand of Oaks really know their stuff, clearly. "Play it, play it, loud on the radio!" lead singer Timothy Showalter pleads urgently during the chorus of "Radio Kids". Don't worry, Tim. We'll be blasting this song from our radios loud and clear for the next few months, at least! Thus ends this year's blog posts (besides the yearly Top 20) with a big, loud, rock 'n' roll BANG!! See ya next year, all you crazy music lovers!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New songs for November 23rd, 2016

here they are:

"Cocoon" by Milky Chance: Yes, this is the same German folk-funk-rock duo who brought you the 2014 smash hit, "Stolen Dance". "Stolen Dance" was a great song, but knowing how Milky Chance's second big hit, "Flashed Junk Mind", was basically a copy of that song, I wasn't sure how Milky Chance would fare with a third big song in their repertoire. Thankfully, "Cocoon" is a good song. It employs the same combo of acoustic guitar strumming and hip-hop beats as their others, but it's not in the same key, making it distinct from "Stolen Dance" and "Flashed Junk Mind". The use of an electric guitar riff as a backing instrumental sound during the chorus (and even a brief electric guitar solo in the middle) also gives "Cocoon" a fresh enough flavor for Milky Chance's fans to fall in love with their music all over again.

"Come" by Jain: Jain is a French singer/songwriter whose name is probably pronounced like "John", but with a sound like the "-sio" part of the word "television" at the beginning instead of the "J" sound. Her breakthrough song, "Come", is like a fusion of different genres coming together into a single piece of music. It utilizes elements of electronica, folk music, jazz, and various types of world music. Its chorus, consisting of the words, "come and I'll show you the world", seems to be a wide-eyed idealistic romp inviting the soul of the listener to explore his/her surroundings in a playful yet all-knowing manner. If you thought music was running out of originality, you might wanna take a listen to this song!

"On Hold" by The xx: For those unfamiliar with the following indie-pop group, their name is not pronounced "the twenty" (XX is Roman numerals for 20), and nor is it some strange pronunciation like "the chk chk" or "the double asterisk". It is pronounced "the ex ex", exactly how it looks. Much like fellow indie-pop group, Warpaint, did earlier this fall, The xx are an already beloved indie group whose latest song is a bit more electro-pop than their fans are used to. That song, "On Hold", filters Andy Summers-esque guitar riffs through an artificially processed electro-pop beat. The switching between male and female lead vocals gives this song an interesting touch that is often more associated with folk-rock than it is with electro-pop. There is a rather dreamy, hypnotic ambiance about this song that most electro-pop groups don't have, with the notable exception of Ben Gibbard's side project, The Postal Service.

"You And I" by Colony House: Colony House are an indie-pop quartet whose sound is similar to what Imagine Dragons or American Authors might sound like if U2's The Edge was their guitarist. The song doesn't bring a whole lot of originality to the table, although it does get interesting in the middle of the song when its beat becomes a bit more slowed down and unsteady. Perhaps unsteadiness was the vibe they were trying to give off in this song, though, as it is a song about trying to cope with a fragile and volatile world. During the chorus, they place the blame on themselves ("Maybe the world isn't crazy. Maybe it's you and I") instead of the rest of the world. If only that was somehow true.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye! R.I.P. Leonard Cohen (and 3 other songs)

Just received the news last week that Leonard Cohen is no longer alive. Since he also released a new song recently, I will do the honors of reviewing his latest (and last) song. What a major loss for this year! Before that, though, here are 3 more songs:

"Follow the Leader" by Foxygen: You never know what to expect with Foxygen, and perhaps that's what's made them so big among indie fans. They debuted back in early 2013, and highlights from their debut album included the avant-funk-rock song "Shuggie" and the Velvet Underground-esque "No Destruction". "Follow the Leader" marks the third time I've heard a Foxygen song and the first time I'm reviewing one. The results end up sounding like a cross between an Electric Light Orchestra song circa 1976 and a Beck song circa 1996. Also, who is "the leader" that we are supposed to be following here? Well, according to the lyrics of this song, "the leader is you". That's great advice for the modern era!

"Human" by Rag N Bone Man: Between the hip-hop beats of this song and Rory "Rag N Bone Man" Graham's deep, soulful voice, it's not surprising to see that many of the YouTube comments for this song were "I can't believe this guy isn't black". Well, he isn't. He isn't even American, actually. He's a large, white British dude. But so what?! Black, white, large, short, British, American, when it all comes down to it, he's only human, as he states so powerfully and emotionally in his debut song! In addition to transcending racial barriers, "Human" also transcends genre barriers, with its hip-hop and R & B influenced sound currently racing up the predominantly rock dominated alternative charts. Music, after all, is colorblind, and it doesn't judge people in any other ways either.

"Lost On You" by LP: It's been 4 years since LP last had a hit song. She broke through in the summer of 2012 with a free-spirited folk-rock tune called "Into the Wild", which, in addition to its iconic sound, contained equally iconic lyrics, like, "Somebody left the gate open", "Come save us a runaway train goin' insane", and "How do we not fade away into the wild?" Its use in a Citibank commercial throughout that summer solidified the song's popularity during that time. She didn't have any other hits that year or the next, so I thought "Into the Wild" pretty much sealed the deal for LP and that there was no way she could top it. It appears I may be wrong with the release of her latest song, "Lost On You". Like "Into the Wild", "Lost On You" is a sprightly, earnest folk-rock song, though its sound and lyrics are both a bit more melancholy than that one was. True to its title, "Lost On You" has been lost on American audiences so far, at least in comparison to the massive airplay its gotten in European countries like Greece. Let's hope that American audiences will catch onto it just as quickly!

"You Want It Darker" by Leonard Cohen: And now, the moment you've all been waiting for. You should know that with a title like "You Want It Darker", dark is exactly what you're gonna get. This song is a gothic tinged folk-rock tune of sorts, a bit like the songs Cohen typically did in the 1980's. As ominous as it may sound instrumentally, though, it's a very sad song lyrically. Like David Bowie's "Lazarus" from late last year, Leonard Cohen's "You Want It Darker" is a song that deals with a person who knows that they are going to die soon (This is most certainly where the "I'm ready, my Lord" parts of the song come from). Like Bowie, Cohen inspired generation after generation of alt and indie rock musicians. People that Cohen has influenced include R.E.M., The Smiths, Jeff Buckley, Elliott Smith, and Bon Iver, all of whom mix a folk-rock sound with lyrics about isolation and loneliness. R.I.P. Leonard Cohen. You will truly be missed!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

New songs for November 2nd, 2015

here they are:

"Katchi" by Nick Waterhouse and Leon Bridges: What happens when a critically acclaimed surf-rock revivalist gets together with a critically acclaimed revivalist of '60s soul music?! You get one heck of a jazzy song, that's what! The "retro" flavor of "Katchi" is further enforced by its vocalized "doo-wop-a-doo-wop, dooby dooby doo-wop" opening. With its rhythmically choppy chords and blazin' hot sax, "Katchi" is pure retro-rockin' bliss! Just one question. What IS "Katchi"?! Nick Waterhouse says that his girl "gives him Katchi all night long" during the chorus but never explains what "Katchi" is. I guess I'll just leave that up to my imagination!!

"Rhythm and Blues" by The Head and The Heart: Since the more-successful-than-usual airplay The Head and The Heart had from their pop-iest song yet, "All We Ever Knew", I was curious nonetheless to find out what other songs on their newest album sounded like. "Library Magic" and "Colors" would not have been bad choices for the second single, but instead its "Rhythm and Blues", which is anything BUT a rhythm and blues song. As a matter of fact, it sounds almost as pop-y as "All We Ever Knew" did, except during its out-of-nowhere electric guitar solo. The song contains the lyrics "stepped on my blue suede shoes, you made Elvis go crazy", except it doesn't sound a THING like Elvis (Costello or Presley). The group's heart may be in the right place, but their head isn't. Oh well, one out of two ain't bad, right?

"S.O.S. (Overboard)" by Joseph: The all-girl indie-folk trio Joseph send an S.O.S. to the world in their second single (and apparently it goes overboard). Much like "Message In A Bottle" from decades before, "S.O.S." is a song that uses nautical metaphors to describe isolation from a loved one. While nowhere near as catchy (or literary) as The Police, Joseph's "S.O.S." is a fun song in its own right. The seaworthy metaphors in Joseph's song show up mostly in the chorus, with lyrics like "screaming underwater" and "alone and overboard".