Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Val-"N"-tines Day!!

The punny title comes from how all three songs for this week begin with the letter N. Here they are:

"Neighbors" by Lucius: Female-centric indie-pop group, Lucius, walk the line between juicy pop goodness and folk-rock bittersweetness. Their latest song, "Neighbors", is the latter. It is also a bit paranoia fueled, as far as the lyrics go. The song even opens with the lyrics, "I always lock the door 'cause you never know for sure who your neighbors are, real suspicious." The minor key of the song adds to its paranoia, but it probably isn't something that can be easily detected until listening to the song all the way through at least a few times.

"No Hard Feelings" by The Avett Brothers: The Avett Brothers did not release a new album yet this year. This one is actually a leftover from their 2016 album. "No Hard Feelings" is probably the saddest and slowest song to be released as a single from that album so far. The song is a farewell of some sort, but whether it's farewell to a girl, to a family member(s), or even to life itself, is hard to tell. The song closes with the line "I have no enemies" sung four times. All in all, it's a very sad song to listen to, but a good one. Now whoever's been chopping up onions in here, please stop!

"Not Too Late" by Moon Taxi: Almost all of Moon Taxi's songs so far have had a "tropical" vibe to them. This one does not. "Not Too Late" has a bit more of a straight up indie-pop sound, complete with both U2-ish guitars in the verses and club worthy synth in the chorus, the latter of which isn't exactly a common instrument yet in Moon Taxi's songs. Not as remarkable as most Moon Taxi songs, but certainly not bad either.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

New songs for February 7th, 2018

here they are:

"Need Your Love" by Curtis Harding: Smooth soul singer Curtis Harding returns to the adult alt charts just in time for Valentine's Day with "Need Your Love". Like his previous hit, "On And On", "Need Your Love" is defined by its fast rhythm and funky riffs, in a similar vein to most Motown songs. The backing synthesizer on this song separates it from "On And On". The relentless energy and passionate pleas in this song make it a winner for the same reason Curtis' previous hit song won me over. Hopefully it'll do the same to whoever listens to it!

"Saturday Sun" by Vance Joy: The use of ukulele and upbeat vibes on Vance Joy's latest song, "Saturday Sun", hearken back to Vance's first (and so far, biggest) hit, "Riptide". Most of his songs that have come out since that one evoke a bittersweet sense of melancholia, but "Saturday Sun" does not, at least not musically. Lyrically, it maintains a positive theme as well, about falling in love with someone for the first time. This might just be the first Vance song that's more sweet than bittersweet, since even "Riptide" had some anguished lyrics. Not bad, I say!

"Silver Lining" by Mt. Joy: Copping a similar acoustic guitar riff to Bon Iver's "Skinny Love", Mt. Joy's breakthrough song, "Silver Lining" is an interesting song. Like Bon Iver's material, "Silver Lining" is about the downside to college life and how easy it can be to get burned out as a 20-something. The title of the song is mentioned as a way for the lead singer to find some good among the pressure and turmoil one can experience during their young adult years. Watch out. This song will be coming soon to a university near you!

"Think It Over" by Wild Child: 7 is a lucky number for Austin, Texas indie-pop group, Wild Child! The group have 7 members, and it's taken 7 years for them to score a hit on adult alt radio stations. Well, now that I've gotten that out of the way, "Think It Over" is a rather soulful, upbeat song. You probably would have never suspected that it was produced by someone like Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla, but it was. Vocally, it sounds like Feist trying to do a disco song (which she DID once, covering the Bee Gees' song, "Inside And Out").

"Under the Wheels" by Calexico: Calexico's latest album is certainly their most adventurous yet! First, we had the horn-less "End of the World With You", and now we have the upbeat and slightly psychedelic sounding, "Under the Wheels". Calexico's trademark mariachi sound is back in this song, but make no mistake. The song marks yet another first for the band, in that its sound is fast enough to be danceable! Normally, Calexico are like other indie-folk and alt-country groups as far as their ability to be booty shakin' is concerned, but "Under the Wheels" is different than that! Lyrically, the song continues along the lines of being apocalyptic, like "End of the World With You" was, but unlike that song, it sounds happy enough to mask its moroseness!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

New songs for January 31st, 2018

here they are:

“Best Days” by Lissie: Fitting that a song called “Best Days” sounds so happy and hopeful, isn’t it? Well, there’s a good reason for that. “Best Days” is Lissie’s song of hope, and it’s her way of letting her listeners know that the “good old days” are the ones we are living in right now. Lissie even sings in the middle of the song that she “wants more best days”. What a great attitude to have in times where nearly everyone seems to wish they could escape the present era!

“Girlfriend” by Anderson East: Anderson is a unique musician in this day and age, alternating between gritty sax driven soul music, calmer roots-y country-rock (perhaps influenced by his girlfriend, country star Miranda Lambert), and sometimes even straight up pop. On “Girlfriend”, Anderson goes back to the gutsy soul music that I originally knew him for. Unlike what its title might suggest, “Girlfriend” is not a simple declaration of love here, but instead a love triangle. Anderson loudly and somewhat proudly proclaims during the chorus that he “thinks (he’s) in love” with the subject’s “girlfriend”. I wonder what Miranda is gonna think of THIS one!

“Listening In” by Dr. Dog: Ever the quirky, original sounding indie band, Dr. Dog have done it again with their latest song, “Listening In”. The lyrics are pretty simple, with only three verses with practically identical lyrics and a bridge, but the music itself provides nearly 5 minutes of trippy, neo-psychedelic goodness! It appears the song is even a bit prog-rock influenced, with the middle of the song suddenly changing rhythm before the third verse kicks in. The song also provides just the right amount of balance between keyboard and guitar, unlike most indie songs these days, which tend to focus on one more than the other.

“May You Be Well” – The Lone Bellow: After splashing onto adult alt radio during the summer of last year with the rollicking, energetic, “Time’s Always Leaving”, the second single from The Lone Bellow’s third album, “May You Be Well”, is a more reflective and somewhat reverent sounding piece of music. It is a very sentimental song, both musically and lyrically, and was written by lead singer Zach Williams to his oldest daughter as a declaration of love from father to child. Both of his daughters ended up liking the track, though, especially Betty, his youngest, who expressed how moved she was that her dad chose to dedicate a song to one of his kids. I guess that’s the thing about good music. It can be enjoyed from one generation to the next!

“Never Look Back” by Field Report: It hasn’t been a very easy road for Wisconsin folk-rock quartet, Field Report, but they seem to be able to squeeze out one adult alt radio hit per album. So far, this pattern has continued into their third album with their latest song, “Never Look Back”. One thing I have noticed about the songs that have gained attention from Field Report is how more instrumentation gets used on each song. “Never Look Back” contains more echoic instrumentation and a bit more acoustic/electric guitar harmony than their other two hit songs. Perhaps the most noticeable difference is the talk box used during the solo of the song, although it’s used in a rather subtle manner.

“On the Lips” by JD McPherson: What if The Black Keys covered songs like Modern English’s “I Melt With You”? Sounds kinda weird, doesn’t it?! Well, that’s pretty much the sound of JD McPherson’s latest song, “On the Lips”! No one ever thought that a guy whose first big song was a Little Richard sound-alike would be churning out THIS kinda music, but it does manage to work here. Well, kinda. Despite its rather futuristic sound, the song is actually about a moment from JD’s distant past. Specifically, it’s about his first kiss, and how much excitement he felt rushing through him when that special someone’s smooch “hit (him) on the lips”.

“Paradise” by George Ezra: No, this is not a cover of the popular Coldplay song of the same name, although George Ezra’s “Paradise” does have a bit more of a pop element than most of his folk-rock-y material has so far. This “Paradise” is definitely more upbeat and a little more rockin’ than the tune that Chris Martin and co put out a few years ago. It is also a declaration of love the whole way through. There are times when the lyrical fervor of this song runs hotter than others, such as the chorus, when George says, “If it feels like paradise running through your bloody veins, you know it’s love heading your way”. Love sure does make you do strange things sometimes, doesn’t it?!

“Roll On Slow” by Glen Hansard: The Irish folk-rocker whose first big hit was from the “Once” soundtrack amps it up on his latest song, “Roll On Slow”. There is something vaguely similar (though not near as impressive) to Bruce Springsteen songs like “She’s the One” and “Born to Run” on this song, and a bit of a soulful vibe as well during the chorus that could have easily come from fellow Irishmen, The Commitments (even though they were a movie-only band). The Springsteen-esque sound might have been intentional on “Roll On Slow”, since Glen has performed the song before with E Street Band drummer, Max Weinberg. The song definitely has an East Coast vibe to it, and was written while Glen was living in New York City. Behind the song’s determined, gutsy sound, however, lies a tale of sadness and woe. Apparently, the song was inspired by how Glen started drinking alcohol too heavily because his girlfriend was on vacation. The song’s urban vibe and fast beats help to compensate for the sad subject matter, though.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

New songs for January 24th, 2018

here they are:

“Bluebirds Over the Mountain” by Robert Plant and Chrissie Hynde: When two rock legends collide, what is the result?! Well, as it turns out, it appears to be a fusion of psychedelic rock and bluegrass music. While that might sound like a strange combination, the Led Zeppelin frontman and Pretenders frontwoman manage to make it work here! “Bluebirds Over the Mountain” comes off like a slightly trippier version of the songs Plant did with country musician Alison Krauss back in 2007. Like much of Plant’s later material, there’s something mysterious and enchanting about “Bluebirds Over the Mountain”, particularly its folksy chorus of “Bluebirds over the mountain, seagulls over the sea. Bluebirds over the mountain, bring my baby to me”.

“Lottery” by Jade Bird: I feel kind of old reviewing this song, since Jade is, in fact, 10 years younger than I am! Speaking of which, age is actually a defining factor in the lyrics of her breakthrough song, “Lottery”, a rather playful and cheeky folk-rock number written in A major. The song even opens with the lyrics, “I was 19 and you were 23”, and the second verse contains lines like, “I’ll tell you about a guy I’ve been with. You ask how old he is and I laugh ‘26’. Nah, but he’s 30. How messed up is that?” When it comes down to it, though, age is just a number, and that seems to be the central point of “Lottery”. The theme of numbers also ties into the chorus when Jade says that the subject of her song used to tell her that “love is a lottery” and that he’s “got his numbers” and is “betting” on her. Finding a good song is a matter of luck. I think I’ve won the lottery with this one!

“Severed” by The Decemberists: The most heavily anticipated song of the week on the adult alt charts (and probably the regular alt charts, soon enough), “Severed” is not what you’d expect from Colin Meloy and his folk-rock entourage, primarily because the song is NOT folk-rock. The Decemberists have done slight detours from the genre before, like “O, Valencia!” and “The Perfect Crime # 2”, but at least both of those songs were guitar focused, so those both went over well with their core audience. “Severed” is not. It uses a rather dark synthesizer sound to dominate its atmosphere combined with an angular, jagged guitar in the background, slightly reminiscent of songs by groups like Joy Division. The Decemberists are known for having cynical and sometimes disturbing lyrical content in spite of their normally pleasant instrumental sound. “Severed” puts these factors at the forefront by being a brooding song both lyrically and musically!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

New songs for January 17th 2018

here they are:

"Connected By Love" by Jack White: The eerie synths that open the latest song from the famed White Stripes frontman don't exactly define this song. About 15 seconds into the song, those instruments get supplanted by Jack's soulful delivery, both vocally and instrumentally. The chorus almost seems gospel influenced, and it uses female backing vocals that wouldn't sound too out of place in an actual gospel song. The organ solo in the song further accentuates its spiritual fervor. I have said before that music is like a religion to me. "Connected By Love" makes me feel like I'm in a church listening to a choir and soaking in each note and the overall passionate message of the song!

"Dream" by Bishop Briggs: In the summer of 2016, Bishop Briggs (then known simply by her first name) won over the alt and adult alt charts with "River", a song that combined soulful, impassioned vocal delivery, folk-rock guitar instrumentation, electronica ambience, and stomp-and-holler rhythms into a neat little musical package. On "Dream", Bishop uses this same combination of elements and manages to win over her target audience once again! Perhaps the biggest attraction, though, for "Dream", is in its lyrics. Bishop bares her heart and soul with lyrics like, "I wanna wake up where your love is, 'cause your love is always waking mine", and "I wanna break down where your heart gets so torn it's breaking mine". Bishop could be speaking to a lover, a close friend, or a higher power, but it's up to the listener to decide which suits them the best, ultimately. Such is the beauty and impact of music!

"Feels Like Lightning" by Josh Ritter: From the clippety-clop rhythm in the opening, you know that folk-rocker Josh Ritter wants to make "Feels Like Lightning", well, feel like lightning! The song's unique, memorable rhythm feels like a horse trampling through a field at lightning speed. Though horses aren't mentioned anywhere in the lyrics, there is quite a bit of nature related imagery in the song nonetheless. Wind, cherry blossoms, bluebirds, and fields are among the many choice words Josh uses to evoke the mood of being surrounded by scenery that is at once vibrant and pastoral. So let your heart run free and stir up some excitement whenever you listen to this one!

"Taste" by Rhye: It's rare these days for an electronic song to be so poignant and emotionally bare, but this is what Rhye excels at. They seemed destined for one-hit-wonder status in spring 2013 with their intimate and aptly titled song, "Open", but "Taste" has proven me wrong. "Taste" has a bit more energy than "Open" did, but still manages to have a calming, ethereal atmosphere nonetheless. The words "I'll lick your wounds. I'll lay you down" are repeated during certain sections of the song, illustrating the song's intent of comfort and reassurance to the individual who happens to be listening to it. Just as they did with "Open", Rhye have once again managed to succeed at making music perfect for wanting to escape into a world full of billowy clouds!

"You Worry Me" by Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats: Nathaniel and his spunky, blues-y, R & B revival group don't worry ME, that's for sure! As with most of their material, this song makes me wanna get up and dance! Along with Jack White's latest song, "You Worry Me" is one of the most heavily anticipated new songs of the week, and it's not hard to see why! Though the song might not have the fiery, no-frills attitude of their breakthrough song, "S.O.B.", "You Worry Me" has still managed to win me over and remind me of why I like this group so much! Though the song is written in a minor key (a first for the group, as far as their better known songs are concerned), it still feels more like a major key song for its sheer exuberance and fervor. Well, what are ya waitin' for?! Let's boogie down!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

New songs for January 10th, 2018

here they are:

"Everybody's Coming to My House" by David Byrne: From his distinctive vocals to his odd lyrics (the song opens with, "I wish I was a camera/I wish I was a postcard") and the eclectic mix of seemingly disparate musical elements as jazz, electronica, and rock, you can tell from the get-go that "Everybody's Coming to My House" is a David Byrne song! The Talking Heads frontman was last heard collaborating with the equally mysterious and eclectic musician, St. Vincent, and it appears that their collaboration together has had somewhat of an impact on him musically. The jazz/electronica fusion on this song was also present on Byrne's album with St. Vincent, "Love This Giant". "Everybody's coming to my house and we're never gonna go back home", sings Byrne during the chorus. He sounds paranoid and overjoyed all at once. Even into his mid 60's, Byrne is just the same as he ever was decades ago, and that's just the way we like him!

"Get It While You Can" by Robert Finley: The name of this song is not to be confused for the Janis Joplin song of the same name, but it sure maintains the fiery R & B style Janis had! Jazzy R & B musician Robert Finley has actually been alive for quite a while (he is 63 years old) and has been a musician for a long time as well, but he did not release any albums until two years ago. His debut album was fittingly titled "Age Don't Mean A Thing", and on his first big song, "Get It While You Can", he shows that age really doesn't mean a thing, as he pours his heart out into the catchy, spirited soul song with reckless abandon and fervor to make something that sounds both retro and modern all at once. Like Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles before him, Finley is blind, which makes his dedicated musicianship all the more powerful. His song might be called "Get It While You Can", but you can get the earthy, expressive passion of this song any time you want!

"Like A Motherless Child" by Moby: After famously attempting to add a rock/alternative flavor to his previously electronic music in the late '90s and into the early 21st century, Moby has decided to return to the electronica sound that first put him on the map with his latest song, "Like A Motherless Child". The title of the song, adapted from black folksinger Odetta (who is also lyrically sampled on Moby's "Run On"), is frigidly chanted almost entirely in monotone by Raquel Rodriguez during the song's chorus, which both opens and closes it. Moby "sing-speaks", also in monotone, during the verses with lyrics that revolve around the struggle between the sacred and the profane, further adding to the icy chill the song already gives off before he joins in vocally. To feel "like a motherless child" probably means to feel lonely, like something is missing, so Moby does a good job of emulating how that feels in the context of this song!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

First new songs of 2018

Actually these are pretty much all leftover from late 2017, but better late than never, right? Here goes:

"Creature Comfort" by Arcade Fire: First The Killers jumped onto the anti-sexual abuse bandwagon with "Run For Cover", and now Arcade Fire have issued a statement in defense of sexual abuse survivors with their latest song, "Creature Comfort". A key line in this song is, "Some boys get too much. Too much love, too much touch", and another is "some girls hate their bodies, stand in the mirror, and wait for feedback", taking the issue from both a male and female point of view. "All in all, I don't know if I want it" is another line in the song that is important to consider. AF have definitely taken on some serious issues in 2017, which started with the current state of politics in the surprisingly dark, "I Give You Power", and has extended into more personal issues with "Creature Comfort". When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

"Way With Words" by Bahamas: Could it be?! The Bahamas are no longer just a secret among indie fans?! Apparently, if Taylor Swift knows about 'em, they're no longer relegated to just a quirky, left-of-center audience! However, their music still sounds just as odd. Well, kind of. "Way With Words" sounds like The Police filtered through an indie-pop lens, with its swaying, reggae inspired groove. Perhaps it was because of Taylor Swift spreading the word about this song online that this song was streamed millions of times in just two weeks, but Bahamas still sounds just as chill and groovy as ever. They haven't changed their sound, as far as I can tell.

"World Gone Mad" by Bastille: Bastille's latest songs, such as "Good Grief", have noticeably more guitar than the songs on their debut. "World Gone Mad" is yet another first for the band, as it not only contains a guitar, but an acoustic guitar! The guitar quickly becomes obscured by a string section within the first minute, but that's not necessarily a bad thing here, since it makes for what is quite possibly the most poignant song in Bastille's catalog so far, which is mostly danceable alterna-pop, like "Pompeii". As you can probably tell from the title alone, "World Gone Mad" is a dark song, but it is more sad than it is scary or mean.