Wednesday, August 9, 2017

New songs for August 9th, 2017

here they are:

"Lucky Penny" by JD McPherson: JD McPherson's style is usually that of a 1950's rocker like Jerry Lee Lewis or Chuck Berry. "Lucky Penny" takes him from the '50s to the early '70s! The organ filled neo-glam-rock style of The Black Keys dominates this song, and it also sounds slightly reminiscent of "Roadhouse Blues" by The Doors. "This lucky penny's been nothing but bad luck", JD sings during the chorus. Unfortunately, a lot of listeners seem to feel this way, too, since the style of the song is largely derivative of The Black Keys, as opposed to the amalgam of '50s rock styles he's become known for. However, "Lucky Penny" might just be the song to get JD from adult alt radio stations to more mainstream alt-rock stations, which would probably work out in his favor! Was this song worth the one cent?! You decide!

"We Were Beautiful" by Belle and Sebastian: The ever eclectic Belle and Sebastian continue to wow indie fans with their latest song, "We Were Beautiful". Most of their fans seem to prefer their work from the '90s and '00s, when they were "twee" (in other words, influenced by sweet sounding orchestral '60s pop, such as "Pet Sounds"). B & S have modified their style a bit ever since to include more electronic influences, such as what they did on their 2014 song, "The Party Line". "We Were Beautiful" continues in the electro-pop pattern, but it also has an ethereal, airy sound that hearkens back to their earlier work. "We were beautiful before this went down", lead vocalist Stuart Lee Murdoch croons bittersweetly during the chorus. On the surface, the lyrics sound like they are referring to a relationship gone bad, but the song could also ostensibly be about how B & S have interpreted criticism of their more recent songs.

"What You Do to Me" by Benjamin Gibbard: And last but certainly not least, the Death Cab for Cutie frontman embarks on his most interesting musical quest to date, an entire album of songs that were covers of tunes by '90s power pop group, Teenage Fanclub. Ben covers one of TF's most famous songs, "The Concept", on this album, but that did not end up being the first single from Ben's latest album. Instead, it was a cover of a lesser known Teenage Fanclub song, "What You Do to Me". It's interesting to hear him take on this song, which serves as a "missing link" between Big Star and Gin Blossoms. DCFC have dabbled plenty in the softer side of alternative rock, but this is the first time one of their members has attempted a power pop/jangle pop song, and the results are quite satisfying! Too bad it's only 2 minutes long.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

New songs for August 2nd, 2017

here they are:

"Ahead of Myself" by X Ambassadors: This song has a lot of the qualities that X Ambassadors' first (and so far, biggest) hit, "Renegades" had. First off, it combines acoustic guitar sounds with synthetic beats. Those aspects of the song, not to mention the distinctive vocal qualities of Sam Harris, make this song a surefire summer hit! The "I thought I was this, but really I was that" theme of the lyrics of the song are also an appealing aspect of it. Well, not to get "ahead of myself", but I anticipate this song to be on quite a few alt and adult alt radio stations for at least the next few months!

"Faded Heart" by Borns: Garrett Borns, better known by just his last name, seems to be bringing David Bowie back from the dead in his latest song, "Faded Heart"! Multiple eras of his music, at that. First, there's the glam Bowie influence we hear in the joyfully raucous sound of the pounding piano during the verses, and new wave and post-punk Bowie surface during the chorus of the song. Was this Bowie influence intentional?! Well, it just might have been, as Garrett was also influenced by fellow glam rock icons like Iggy Pop and Freddie Mercury when he worked on this song! Previously, Borns seemed like just another electro-pop act, albeit with some catchy, memorable tunes. "Faded Heart" brings out a whole new aspect to Borns' music that I'm glad to have known!

"My Only True Friend" by Gregg Allman: And speaking of recently deceased rock stars, Gregg Allman from The Allman Brothers' Band demise was only about a month ago. The Southern rock icon apparently left behind a few songs right before he passed on, though, and "My Only True Friend" just happened to be one of them. Fitting for a swan song, "My Only True Friend" is a bittersweet song that might just have been his way of saying goodbye to the world through the power of song. His "only true friend", as it turns out, is the road, perhaps a reference to one of his biggest hits with The Allman Brothers Band, "Midnight Rider" ("and the road goes on forever...") This "road" might also be a flat, horizontal equivalent to the stairway to heaven as described in Led Zeppelin's famous song. In other words, Allman was probably well aware that his days on Earth were numbered, so he acknowledged it by singing about it. Rest in peace, Gregg. The world will never know another Southern rocker who combined country, blues, and rock as deftly as you did!

"So Tied Up" by Cold War Kids (featuring Bishop Briggs): The instrumental arrangement of Cold War Kids' latest song, "So Tied Up", centers primarily around piano and cello. The guest vocalist here is Bishop Briggs (formerly known only by her first name), an alt-pop songstress whose work flows in a similar vein to people like Lorde, Lana Del Rey, and Florence Welch. The decision of having Bishop provide extra vocals on this song works well here, as her sweeping vocal harmonies blend together with the orchestral rock arrangement of the instruments in this song. "Soothing" and "mellow" are words to describe multiple Cold War Kids songs, but "So Tied Up" is the first one I'd describe as "lovely"!

"Stand By My Girl" by Dan Auerbach: Is piano a trending instrument or what? The Black Keys frontman normally prefers guitar, and he uses plenty of it in this song, but there is a noticeable amount of piano in his latest song, "Stand By My Girl", as well. This aspect, as well as its use of slide guitar, gives "Stand By My Girl" a rather George Harrison-esque flavor. Cleverly, Auerbach uses this song as an opportunity to make a song that sounds light and happy, but is actually about making a major error in a relationship. The song begins with a "man in a blue plaid shirt" who knocks on Auerbach's door. He doesn't know what the man is there for, but decides it would be safer if he didn't answer it, for fear of what would happen if he did. He vows to stand by his girl. Why? Because apparently she'll "kill him" if he doesn't! Whoa now! Well at least it's still a fun song to listen to...right?!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

New songs for July 26th 2017

here they are:

"Showboat" by Josh Ritter: Two years ago, Josh Ritter startled us with the surprisingly upbeat and soulful, "Getting Ready to Get Down". His newest song, "Showboat", seems to go in that direction as well, but with a bit more of the roots-y feel that Ritter's fans are used to by now. "Showboat" is an attempt for Josh Ritter to basically expose his true self and true emotions through song, like he never has before. In other words, this upbeat tune with seemingly happy lyrics is really just a veneer for Josh's insecurity, which he supposedly introduces us to more of through other songs on his latest album, "The Gathering". That being said, hopefully this will not be the only hit from "The Gathering". Hearing about the diverse emotional pallet Josh has in store for us on this album through an NPR review of it got me pretty excited about it!

"Two High" by Moon Taxi: Yes, the title is intentionally punny. It is not a misspelling of "too high" as much as it is a way of saying "put your two (hands) up high". The goofy title and sunny sentiment of this song pretty much captures what Moon Taxi seems to be all about. They're like Vampire Weekend without the collegiate "hipster" aspects, which leaves just tropically influenced indie-pop music. Not much more to this song aside from what I've described here, but sometimes we need songs like this during the summertime!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

New songs for July 19th 2017

here they are:

"Find Yourself" by Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real: Lukas' super famous dad, Willie, might be best known for country music, but both of the Nelsons have proven themselves to be more than that over the years. Back in 2012, I first got the opportunity to hear Lukas and his spicy, energy fueled, Southern rock styled song, "Wasted". "Find Yourself", the latest song Lukas has put out, has a bit more of a soulful flavor to it. More aptly, it is a blend of soul, rock, and country, with plenty of bluesy licks sandwiched in between to keep listeners on their toes! The song has nothing to do with philosophy or "finding yourself" in the manner that you might think it suggests from the title. Instead, it has a more straightforward meaning revolving around taking back the love you think you deserve.

"Jumpstarting" by Deer Tick: A bar band rock song that suggests a sloppier Springsteen in some ways, Deer Tick's "Jumpstarting" is a rollicking song that is actually about companionship more than anything else. Many of their songs (even the ones they've done for the Christmas season) involve the subject of drinking in some way. This one does too, but in a different way than most of their material does. "Jumpstarting", essentially, is a message that the lead singer sent out to his drinking buddy that he'd be there for him through good times and bad.

"Lay It On Me" by Vance Joy: When Vance Joy debuted in late summer 2013 with "Riptide", I got the impression he was a surf-folk musician in the manner of Jack Johnson, but with more melancholy lyrics. The more I got to know Vance's music, though, the more I realized that most of his other material is as melancholy as his lyrics. "Lay It On Me", his first single from his second album, continues in this direction. There is an uplifting, brassy part during the chorus of the song, but it doesn't mask how much Vance feels about how much he has failed as a lover. Being able to let out those feelings is what music is all about, though!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

New songs for July 12th, 2017

here they are:

"Fire" by Beth Ditto: Although Beth Ditto has been a musician for a few years, she's been known more for being a promoter of positive body image than she has of her music. Until now, that is. Beth's breakthrough song, "Fire", sure lives up to its name! It is a blazing, passionate, funk and electronica influenced rock song. Lyrically, it's a song whose basic message is, "If you want my love, come get it!" Not much more explanation is needed for this scorching, sizzling summer song!

"The Gold" by Manchester Orchestra: Manchester Orchestra have actually been around for 10 years, yet it's only been within the past week or so that adult alt radio stations have begun to notice them. Their latest song, "The Gold", seems a bit like what an Arcade Fire interpretation of The Smiths' "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" might be like. The blossoming, orchestral vibes of "The Gold" bring to mind bands like Arcade Fire, as well as the earlier works of bands like Coldplay. The lyrics of the song, such as, "Couldn't really love you anymore. You've become my ceiling" could pass for either band. If Manchester Orchestra were going for "the gold" here, as their song title would indicate, then clearly they've succeeded!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

New songs for the day after the 4th of July, 2017

here they are:

"New York" by St. Vincent: You never quite know what to expect with Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent. A lot of her songs sound like a cross between Bjork and Prince, but there are also other kinds of St. Vincent songs and albums, such as her album, "Love This Giant", with new wave legend David Byrne, and songs whose questionable subject matter and titles are set off by their soothing sound, like "Laughing With A Mouth of Blood". Since I had only really come to know St. Vincent once she released her 2011 breakthrough song, "Cruel", I feel like I might have been missing out on some of the songs she did before. That being said, she probably has done sensitive ballads before, but "New York" is one of the only ballads I have heard of hers so far, and the only one on which piano is the sole accompanying instrument. "New York" is a rather mournful song, in which Annie pines that she "has lost a hero" and "has lost a friend". Not sure if she is bemoaning the loss of a person or the "loss" (artistically speaking, I guess) of New York itself, but either way, it's nice to hear yet another facet of the ever so fascinating St. Vincent catalog!

"Skin" by Rag N Bone Man: Hot on the strength of his surprise fall 2016 hit, "Human", Rag N Bone Man is now poised to put out a second hit song with "Skin". His music once again defies racial and musical boundaries in a creation that is all his own. An icy, bittersweet mix of R & B, electronica, and rock, "Skin" is a very vulnerable song, much like its predecessor, "Human". Its lyrics are a rumination on RNBM's future state, and how he will continue thinking about the object of his affections even when he grows old. Few lyrics in modern music are as heartfelt and open as, "Helpless I surrender, shackled to your love".

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

New songs for June 28th, 2017

here they are:

"Damaged One" by Big Head Todd and The Monsters: The "neo-Dead" jam bands of the early '90s seemed to either be complex like Phish and Widespread Panic, or they were more accessible to pop audiences the way that Spin Doctors or Blues Traveler were. Big Head Todd and The Monsters are unique among all these bands in that their brand of jam band music creates a balance between experimental jam band music and pop based jam band music, and they tend to have fans on both sides. Now soldiering on into their third decade as a band, Big Head Todd and The Monsters continue to rock with their latest song, "Damaged One". Lead singer, "Big Head" Todd Park Mohr, centers this song around how, presumably in a relationship of some sort, he was "already the damaged one". With the upbeat rock 'n' roll sound of this song, though, you'd never be able to tell!

"Don't Matter Now" by George Ezra: In late summer of 2014, George Ezra's peppy folk-rock tune, "Budapest", was the surprise alternative rock radio hit of the year! For a quiet sounding musician, his song sure made a lot of noise! 3 years later, in the early summer of 2017, George cranks out yet another song perfect for the summer season with "Don't Matter Now". The central message of the song seems to be, "Do what you can while you can, and try to have fun." The laid back theme of this song, combined with its happy brass section and even happier "doo-doo-doo"s punctuating the middle and end of the song, make this one a can't miss song for your next pool party or barbecue!

"Time's Always Leaving" by The Lone Bellow: This song still retains the roots-rock feel of most Lone Bellow songs, yet it also sounds more upbeat than most of their material does! The question is, why? The band have been through a lot of changes since they last released an album together. Zach and Brian are now dads, and Kanine is now a mom. Additionally, in a true country-rock move, they also moved from the tough rock 'n' roll streets of Brooklyn to country music haven, Nashville, within the three years it took for them to release this song. Even lyrically, "Time's Always Leaving" isn't exactly a happy song, what with its depiction of time as a "cruel mistress". Yet the trio sounds happier than they ever have before in this song. Go figure!

"Whole Wide World" by Cage the Elephant: "Stranger Than Fiction" fans, rejoice! The song that Will Ferrell's character, Harold Crick, sings in an attempt to seduce Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal), is now being covered by alt-rock group, Cage the Elephant! At the time of "Stranger Than Fiction"'s initial release to theaters, "Whole Wide World" was a little known melodic garage rock styled song by Wreckless Eric, who was sort of like a lesser known Elvis Costello or Joe Jackson. Yet now, for millions of people (myself included), "Whole Wide World" can't be thought of WITHOUT that scene from "Stranger Than Fiction". I'm guessing CTE were fans of the movie as well. After all, how else do you think they even know this song?! Matt Shultz and co do the song justice, retaining the original key, rhythm, and instrumentation so well that it'd be incredibly hard to tell this apart from the original! Now I just gotta wait for The Kooks to cover The Jam's "That's Entertainment" (also featured in "Stranger Than Fiction") and my life will be complete!