Wednesday, March 22, 2017

New songs for March 22nd, 2017

here they are:

"Baby I'm Broken" by The Record Company: Their debut album's only a year old, and already blues-rock outfit, The Record Company, are hot on the heels of a brand new album for this year! Perhaps this was a result of songs like the saucy "Off the Ground" and the sizzlin' "Rita Mae Young" becoming such big hits on adult alt radio stations. The Record Co's third big song, "Baby I'm Broken", seems poised to do the same as its predecessors, and for the same reasons as well. In a year when rock and roll had continued to diminish into a desert island, The Record Company satisfied the thirst of classic rock and blues-rock fans everywhere, and that is why they became such a big hit with their listeners! "Baby I'm Broken" is twice the rock and twice the roll, with a fuzz soaked blues-y sound and vamp that probably brings bands like The Black Keys to mind.

"Restart" by BNQT: Banquet?! No, I think that "Bee-En-Kyoo-Tee", the individual letters of the band's name, is how you pronounce this one, although supposedly, "Banquet" was the original name of the band. BNQT are actually an indie-rock supergroup featuring members of Band of Horses, Grandaddy, Travis, and Franz Ferdinand, the first two of whom collaborated on a Christmas song together a few years back (I suppose that's how they know each other). Anyway, their debut song, "Restart", has a rather T. Rex-ish glam rock groove that none of the other bands the members are in have really achieved aside from possibly Franz Ferdinand. The song's chorus states that, "We could all use a restart". I would say that the phrase "throwback" is more accurate in terms of describing this song than "restart" is, but there's nothing wrong with a good throwback once in a while!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New songs for March 15th 2017

here they are:

"Don't Leave Me Here" by Taj Mahal and Keb' Mo': Two bluesmen, and one epic performance! Taj Mahal has been performing blues music since the 1960's and Keb' has done the same since the '90s. As has long been tradition in the blues, various locations of the U.S. are mentioned throughout the song. Taj and Keb' warn the listeners of the song that "if (they're) going to Mississippi, where the Delta sky is sweet and clear", that they should at least consider not leaving the singers in Chicago, since they are currently stuck there. This song boasts the trick up the blues musicians' sleeves in which they are able to turn sad subject matter into a soulful, toe tappin' tune!

"Face Like Thunder" by The Japanese House: Don't be fooled by the name of this band. There is absolutely nothing Japanese about them, though they probably have at least a few fans who actually are Japanese. Actually, The Japanese House is not even a "they", but one person, 21-year-old Amber Bain from London, England. Her sound is a dreamy, ethereal one which manages to combine "Hejira" era Joni Mitchell with the first few solo records of Annie Lennox. The lyrics, about someone who has a "face like thunder", are almost as alluring and exotic as the music itself. Amber sounds wise far beyond her years in this song. Hard to believe she's only 21!

"Third of May" by Fleet Foxes: It has actually been about 6 years since Fleet Foxes last released a new album. Between 2008 and 2011, they were on a pretty steady roll, but all of the members except for Josh "Father John Misty" Tillman seemed to disappear from the music world after that. This song is pretty much packed with everything Fleet Foxes fans tend to love about the band, so "Third of May" will definitely be hailed as a great "comeback" song within the coming weeks, if not sooner. Instrumentally, it is a beautiful song with folk-rock instrumentation and feedback that sounds more like echoes in a canyon than it does electronic static. It also wins in the lyrical department, at least as far as Fleet Foxes songs are concerned, with its nature related imagery serving as the surface words of a song about some sort of internal struggle between the sacred and the profane. Well, truth be told, this is really more like the first three and a half minutes of the song. After that it turns into a song that sounds like one The Moody Blues might have done had they still been together today. Yes, that's right, a prog-rock Fleet Foxes song! That's a first, specifically of the songs that the band has marketed to adult alt radio stations. It is soft prog-rock, but prog-rock nonetheless, as it meanders into more experimental territory after the first few minutes. This section of the song even has another name, "Odaigahara" (don't ask me to pronounce that, 'cause I haven't a clue). Well at least the the first couple minutes are fun to listen to!

"3WW" by alt-J: How nerdy is alt-J?! Well, they not only named themselves after the computer command for the "delta" symbol, but just take a look at how they came up with the title to this song! To start with, March 3rd (3-3) was when the band first had a tiny section of the song available online, they released the full song 3 days after that, and in 3 months and 3 days from now, the whole album will be released! Perhaps these guys have listened to the old "Schoolhouse Rock" tune, "3 Is A Magic Number", one too many times (three too many times)?! Yet, in spite of all these quirky qualities (or perhaps because of them), alt-J have still managed to score some of the biggest alt/indie hits of the 2010's, like "Breezeblocks" (which is about famed children's book, "Where the Wild Things Are"), and "Left Hand Free". "3WW" itself is actually the calmest song I have heard so far in alt-J's catalog. It is largely acoustic guitar, piano, vocals, and a string section in the background, and not much more. It's not often alt-J release acoustic guitar songs, but I must say that they're pretty good at it! Hope to hear more like this from them in the near future!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

New songs for March 8th 2017

here they are:

"A Little Uncanny" by Conor Oberst: In the fashion of his idol, Bob Dylan, Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes attempts here to make a roots-y folk-rock tune that contains plenty of name dropping and cryptic but interesting lyrics. Ronald Reagan, Robin Williams, Sylvia Plath and Jane Fonda are all mentioned here in this song. It's hard to tell what the central message of it is, but my best guess is that it gets spelled out towards the end of the song when Conor says, "They say a party can kill you. Sometimes I wish it would." As for what that means, perhaps he's trying to indicate that self-medication can sometimes feel painful after a long time of doing it. Given how critical Mr. Dylan tends to be of many things, I'm not sure if he'd find this song flattering or overbearing, but "A Little Uncanny" does seem to be the most Dylan-inspired song yet from Conor Oberst, who has done many other songs in his style as well.

"Black Tears" by Imelda May (featuring Jeff Beck): The wild, sassy Irishwoman who gave us fun ravin' rockers like "Mayhem" and "Inside Out" back in 2011 tones it down a bit for her latest song, "Black Tears", featuring legendary rock guitarist, Jeff Beck. This is also a calmer song for Jeff than most of his material as well, though he still shows his guitar wizardry in a more subtle manner here. The song bears similarity to the early '60s instrumental song, "Sleep Walk", by Santo and Johnny, in terms of both its slow doo-wop styled rhythm and its loopy Hawaiian influenced guitar sound. Imelda pours her emotions out like never before in "Black Tears" with a passion akin to musicians like Etta James and Janis Joplin. Bittersweet with a bite, "Black Tears" is a great song to listen to if you've recently broken up with someone.

"Feel It Still" by Portugal. The Man: Portugal. The Man may be big among "indie" fans, but they've always had a bit of an R & B streak hidden behind their neo-psychedelic pop facade. "Feel It Still" starts out with just bass and vocals, but gradually gets other instruments added in shortly afterward, most prominently a brass instrument that, when combined with the bass and drums, sounds like it would not be out of place in a "James Bond" or "Austin Powers" movie. PTM clearly want to reflect the era of both cinema and music from the mid '60s in "Feel It Still", going so far as to mention the year 1966 by name in a lyric that ends up being a play on words of the Chuck Berry song, "Route 66". The last verse of "Feel It Still" makes it apparent that "Feel It Still" is not just a song written for fun, but also for the cause of ending war, similar to statements they've made in songs of theirs like "So American" and "Modern Jesus".

"Fight For Love" by Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors: You probably already knew that you had to fight for your right to party, but did you know you also have to fight for your right to love? Well, country-rocker Drew Holcomb certainly seems to think so! In this roots-y John Mellecamp-esque number, Drew passionately pleads for peace among everyone. In contrast with the slightly rocking sound of this song, Drew sounds almost sad but urgent at the same time with the delivery of his lyrics. Love should be free, but sometimes you just gotta work for it instead!

"Green Light" by Lorde: The now 20-year-old "Royals" hitmaker, Ella Yelich O'Connor, better known by her stage name, "Lorde", has returned to grace the pop and rock airwaves a little wiser for the wear than she once was. She had a few bittersweet songs early on, like "Team", but most of her songs went for a catchy but somewhat mystical sound. "Green Light" has a slightly more melancholy sound, at least initially. The song plays out like a Tori Amos tune that starts to sound more like a Madonna song as it progresses and starts gaining more instruments than just the keyboard. The song is centered around what Lorde's life became like after her high school years. In interviews, she came off as down-to-earth and not nearly as obsessed with her own image as most pop stars tend to be. She even thought it was funny when "South Park" decided to make fun of her, so she has a pretty strong backbone! Or so it would seem. Having a popular television show skewer your image for comedy is nothing like trying to build a new image for your own self so that people don't see you as a "glamor queen" and instead see you as a serious artist. Hints of not feeling like "part of the crowd" were already evident with songs like "Tennis Court", which served as her scathing indictment of the high school drama she was then surrounded with, but "Green Light" brings it to a whole new level! This song will probably make a huge impression on people who are fans of more music than just pop and rock!

"Wild Fire" by Laura Marling: This song may be gentle, but its words are most certainly not! Laura Marling's latest song, "Wild Fire", seems to emulate her idol, Joni Mitchell, both lyrically and musically. From the song's opening question, "Are you trying to make a cold liar out of me?" to its penultimate lyrical statement of, "You can stop playing that sh*t out on me", it's clear that "Wild Fire" is, well, wild and fiery! Laura is no soft, gentle hippie chick. She means business here! Then again, Joni Mitchell was never comfortable being referred to as a "hippie chick" either. For every whimsical musing like "Big Yellow Taxi" and "Both Sides Now" Joni had, she also aimed caustic, stinging messages to her exes in songs like "Nathan LaFraneer" and "Raised On Robbery". Likewise, for every bittersweet song like "Sophia" that Laura has, she also has songs that are just plain old bitter, like "Wild Fire"!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A D-lightful pair of songs!

Only two songs this week, and they both begin with the same letter. Here they are:

"Darling" by Real Estate: A hypnotic, tantalizing swirl of psych-pop guitars and new wave synths grace the first minute and a half of this song without vocals. Once the vocals kick in, they sound halfway between sweet and dazed, fitting for this song. Not a whole lot here in the lyrical department, which is basically a love song with nature related images for its words, such as black and yellow finches, the sun, and the moon. The F, C, G pattern of the chords continues throughout this song too. The hazy, loopy, yet still melodic vibe of this song make me think that the "real estate" these guys bought was probably somewhere up in Santa Cruz, or maybe Haight-Ashbury!

"Devil's Teeth" by Muddy Magnolias: The eras this song goes for is basically any time but now! Soul, blues, bluegrass, and garage rock fuse into one genre for this song. No auto-tune, samples from other songs, or synthesizers to be found here. The spooky but fun title of this song makes it sound sorta blues-y, and that's pretty much exactly what you'll get when you hear this song! Come to think of it, the "Muddy" part of the band's moniker makes me think of legendary blues singer, Muddy Waters. I'm pretty sure that's not merely coincidence!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New songs for the day after Valentine's Day

here they are:

"Blame" by Bastille: You would have never expected the "Pompeii" hitmakers to pull off a song that uses glam rock style guitar fuzz, did you? Well, nor did I, but so far I'm liking the new direction Bastille have gone in. Queen seems to have been a particular influence on Bastille's latest material, as has been evident so far from the "Under Pressure" soundalike "Good Grief", and now with the blazing hot opening riffs of Bastille's latest song, "Blame", as well. Perhaps the forceful, compelling sound of "Blame" was intentional in order to reflect the dark lyrical themes of the song, centering around a gang fight. Musical battles haven't been this exciting since Michael Jackson told us to "Beat It" back in 1982!

"In A Black Out" by Hamilton Leithauser: If you were hoping that the next song I reviewed for the week would be more peaceful, then you got your wish! "In A Black Out" has a nice little rippling sound throughout that reminds me of the flowing of a river, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who notices that. It can be viewed as a peaceful song, but it can also be viewed as bittersweet due to some of the lyrics it has, such as "I live in a nameless town" and "many friends have said goodbye". The "blackout" Hamilton appears to be experiencing does not seem to be a scary or sudden one and is instead more of a state of sadness.

"Love Do What It Do" by Robert Randolph (featuring Darius Rucker from Hootie & The Blowfish): Hootie and The Blowfish provided some calm to the otherwise angst-y rock of the '90s. Nothing wrong with that, but when Darius went country I decided not to pay attention to him anymore. Until now, that is, because I do love me some blues-rock every once in awhile, and Robert Randolph knows how to lay down some mean blues! Surprisingly, the vocals of Hootie frontman blend in quite well with the blues-y guitar chops of Robert Randolph. The message of the song is pretty much spelled out in the title of the song, and is literally spelled out in the chorus as Darius passionately sings, "L-O-V-E, love! Let it do what it do!"

"Reverend" by Kings of Leon: Not nearly as compelling as their 2016 mega-hit, "Waste A Moment", but then again the sophomore singles from new albums tend to be like that. Still, though, "Reverend" is worth the listen since it does contain the 21st century indie-cum-arena-rock that KOL have now become known for. The chorus of the song uses a rather strange metaphor, comparing the passion of a lover to a "reverend on the radio". Huh?! Well, perhaps Caleb Followill is not speaking about his relationship with a partner, but his relationship with God. After all, the members of the band were all the sons of a United Pentecostal Minister!

"They Put A Body In the Bayou" by The Orwells: We're probably never going to know who put a body in the bayou, or what the name of the person was to whom the body belonged to, for that matter. What we do know is that The Orwells are one fiery, kickin' rock group whose sound blends garage rock with blues rock in a similar manner to groups like The Black Keys, The White Stripes, and the harder edged Cage the Elephant songs. The lyrics of "They Put A Body In the Bayou" center around a girl who died of drug addiction at an early age, but instead of treating this as sad or sorrowful subject matter, The Orwells inject all their fury and righteous anger into this powerhouse track that has woken up the monster that is rock and roll!

"Where's the Revolution?" by Depeche Mode: Not since their 2009 track, "Wrong", has there been such a heavily anticipated Depeche Mode song. It is because of the mysterious and tumultuous state of current political affairs that the notoriously gloomy 1980's electro-rock group Depeche Mode have decided to release a new track, and their complaints can be detected right from the title of their song! Where IS the revolution?! DM rage against the electoral college machine and answer the titular question as best they can with a palpable, scathing sense of anger! If it wasn't for the recognizable vocals of Dave Gahan, this could easily be a Nine Inch Nails track! As T. Rex's Marc Bolan once proclaimed in song during the Nixon era, "You won't fool the children of the revolution!"

"Young Lady, You're Scaring Me" by Ron Gallo: Actually it's a young MAN named Ron who's scaring ME into thinking that we've somehow traveled back in time to the mid 1960's! Echoes of many epic '60s rock tunes, ranging from Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe" to The Chambers Brothers' "Time Has Come Today" to The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For the Devil" can all be heard in this psychedelic blues-rock tune! The song just seems to be about a guy falling in love with a girl, but the tune itself is enough to wake up dead rock and roll zombies and get them on their feet dancin' and jammin' the night away! Long live rock and roll!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

New songs for February 8th 2017

here they are:

"Ballad of the Dying Man" by Father John Misty: Father John Misty continues to prove himself to be more indie than indie with each song he releases! This includes his latest song, the Beatle-esque "Ballad of the Dying Man". The chord progression is reminiscent of some of The Beatles' more progressive leaning tunes, such as "A Day In the Life" and "Sexy Sadie". Lyrically, "Ballad of the Dying Man" is also rather progressive, as it is one of the rare modern songs to take on a narrative perspective instead of a more direct one. It's obvious that FJM is trying to make his listeners sympathize with his character from the song's bittersweet lyrics and its equally bittersweet sound. What will he think of next?!

"Believer" by Imagine Dragons: Princess Peach from the "Mario" games is about to have her castle stormed by dragons! Imagine Dragons, that is, and I say this because it was a recent Nintendo ad that propelled Imagine Dragons' latest song, "Believer", on such a quick path to popularity among its listeners! As if that wasn't enough, it was also an ad featured in the Superbowl. Imagine Dragons never fail to excite, and "Believer" is definitely the sort of song to keep you on your feet when you're in the mood for it! As is typical of ID's material, "Believer" is a lively, dynamic song with somewhat sad lyrics behind it (about how "pain makes you a believer"). Given both the song's success in a video game company commercial and the in-your-face arena rock quality of Imagine Dragons' music, perhaps they should consider renaming themselves "Mario's Speedwagon"!

"Love Is Mystical" by Cold War Kids: Here is yet another song that has that indie-pop-cum-arena-rock type of sound! Cold War Kids started out being more straight up indie, but ever since the unexpected success of their song, "First", they seem to have adjusted their sound to be more fitting for a more massive mainstream audience. The song only has three chords, but it certainly makes its central statement known! Love is indeed mystical. It is also energetic and worth celebrating, as the vibe of this song has proven to me!

"Poetry" by Ray Davies: Yes, THAT Ray Davies! The lead singer of the legendary rock group, The Kinks. Those expecting a song like "Lola" or "You Really Got Me" might be a little disappointed, though. This song is more like a modernized update on the sorts of songs that Buffalo Springfield or Crosby, Stills, & Nash might have been likely to do, in terms of its sound. For those who know that alt-country group, The Jayhawks, are backing him up on this song, its Americanized folk-rock sound should come as no surprise. The song is a bittersweet lament on what the world is missing today - poetry! "Where is the poetry?" Ray mournfully inquires during the song's chorus. Ray, you're MAKING poetry just by performing this song and singing it!

"Ran" by Future Islands: There have been quite a few songs called "Run". Vampire Weekend, Collective Soul, Snow Patrol, and Eric Clapton have all done different songs with that same title. Future Islands, on the other hand, have now released what is, to my knowledge, the first song of which the title is the past tense of the word "run", as opposed to its present tense form. During the height of their popularity in summer 2014 with "Seasons (Waiting On You)", I saw them in concert and expected "Seasons" to be the only song they would be known for. "Ran" has proven me wrong. Similar to "Seasons...", "Ran" is a modern-day synth-pop song in the key of B flat major. The yearning, lovelorn lyrics of "Ran", combined with the key it is in, seem to make it serve as a "sequel song" to "Seasons...". In "Seasons...", Sam Herring sang about how he was "waiting on" his loved one for such a long time that it made him ache inside. In "Ran", Sam seems to come to the realization that he was waiting in vain, asking his lover, "What's a song without you, when every song is about you?" Those who will be single this coming Valentine's Day just got one more song to listen to thanks to Future Islands!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

New songs for February 1st 2017

here they are:

"High Ticket Attractions" by The New Pornographers: The indie-pop band with a scandalous name now has a song with an equally scandalous sound (in a good way)! "High Ticket Attractions" sounds like what The Cars would sound like without guitar solos. In true, biting-the-hand, indie-pop fashion, The NP's have crafted out a pop song that sounds mindlessly happy, but actually seems to be a "take that" to the music biz upon closer lyrical examination. Even the song's title, "High Ticket Attractions", sounds somewhat sarcastic, as though the band is mocking other groups who revel in their own success.

"Jackpot" by Nikki Lane: Nikki Lane's slick brand of country-rock never really hit me until now. "Jackpot" IS a jackpot, in a few different ways! The song gets its title and subject matter from its lyrical themes of scoring big bucks in Las Vegas, but Miss Lane also hits the "jackpot" by combining country music style twang with Little Richard style energy! The main riff in the song is similar to Led Zeppelin's "Rock And Roll" (which itself borrowed from Little Richard's "Keep-A-Knockin'"), and if that isn't a throwback enough to the early days of rock 'n' roll, Nikki also sings the words "Viva Las Vegas" during the chorus, which, of course, were first uttered exuberantly by Elvis Presley, the King of Rock 'N' Roll himself! This song is proof that what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas!

"Keep It Between the Lines" by Sturgill Simpson: From country-rock to country-soul! The multitalented Sturgill Simpson, whose name has become a little more well-known lately thanks to his recent "Saturday Night Live" appearance, churns out another kickin' tune in his repertoire! "Keep It Between the Lines" combines the best of both Memphis worlds. It has Memphis soul with blaring, spirited saxes a la Otis Redding combined with guitars giving off a country twang in the background to remind people of the genre more associated with the famous Tennessee town. It might come as a surprise to some, then, that Sturgill isn't actually from Tennessee. He is from Kentucky, though, and they do call that the Bluegrass State!