Wednesday, May 16, 2018

New songs for May 16th, 2018

here they are:

"Hunger" by Florence and The Machine: As if by coincidence, the most heavily anticipated song of the week (well, the past two weeks, really) is also the first! And what, might you ask, has given people so much hunger for "Hunger"?! There are probably a few reasons as to why this is. First off, it's Florence and The Machine! Florence Welch, the quirky but sassy British lass who leads the band, has proven she can do pretty much whatever she wants to and make it sound good, so that alone counts as a bonus factor! "Hunger" has the same sorta thing that made songs like "Dog Days Are Over" and "Shake It Out" such enduring songs in FATM's catalog, with its orchestral instrumentation wed to a pop music beat and haunting vocals. Even the opening lyrics, "At 17, I started to starve myself", are both mysterious and morose enough to hook the listener in before the song starts to really take flight. The chorus speaks the most truth of all, though, when Florence passionately pleads that "we all have a hunger". Florence, you have satisfied all our cravings!

"Living In the Future" by Dawes: With each album Taylor Goldsmith and co put out, there's a bit more of a rock and roll element to each of those albums. "Living In the Future" reaches towards the dynamic, arena rock side of the rock and roll spectrum, at least as far as it can go through the lens of a roots-y indie-folk-rock group. To top it all off, Dawes are even opening for 1970's rock group, Electric Light Orchestra, on their tour this summer. How's that for NOT living in the future?! But wait! Just because the sound of this song sounds like it's not that current, doesn't mean the lyrical content is stuck in the past as well! Indeed, this song (and its album, "Passwords") are actually about trying to cope with an increasingly fast paced modern world. The future is looking grim for some. Good thing we have music to save us!

"Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin)" by Dave Matthews Band: It's been 6 years since Dave and his band last hit the adult alt radio airwaves. In DMB time, that's such a long time that I thought I'd either never hear from them again or that they wouldn't be as good. Thankfully, I was wrong on both accounts! Their latest song, "Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin)" kicks off the return of DMB with a U2-ish bang that U2 themselves seem to be straying further away from (Bono and the boys could sure take a lesson from Dave!) While the sound of "Samurai Cop" has a rather new and exciting sound that doesn't quite reflect on DMB's roots as a folk, jazz, and blues influenced rock group, the lyrical content of the song is a yearning to get back to our roots as a collective entity of lovers, thinkers, and dreamers. "Oh joy, begin", sings Dave during the chorus. My joy has begun, and hopefully, yours has too!

"The Middle" by Trampled by Turtles: Not to be confused with Jimmy Eat World's early '00s power pop anthem, "The Middle", bluegrass influenced rock group, Trampled by Turtles, decided to make their latest song, "The Middle", a rousing, upbeat number. The circumstances under which TBT met to record their newest album was anything but joyful, though, as their decision to record it came about after commiserating about the death of rock icon (and TBT favorite), Tom Petty. "The Middle" doesn't bear much resemblance to Petty's music, but the lyrics could ostensibly be about him, as the song is filled with sad, somber lyrics like, "There's a bitter pill on the other side", "If it does us any good, I cannot see it", and finally, "It makes me die just a little. A little every day." Petty has been sorely missed by many, but sometimes when an old door closes, a new one opens, and Trampled by Turtles might just have found the keys to that new door!

"This Party" by Houndmouth: Houndmouth used to be a country-rock quartet with three guys and one girl. The loss of the one girl, Katie Toupin, must have really thrown the band in a creative slump, as they sound vastly different (and not nearly as good) without her. Whatever traces of country and roots rock Houndmouth once had have been completely lost in their latest song, "This Party", which sounds far more like Walk the Moon or fun. than it does like Dawes or Blitzen Trapper, to whom Houndmouth were initially compared. "This Party" was made to be played at parties, as its title indicates. Given the song's central lyrics, "I don't wanna be at this party", perhaps Houndmouth themselves are a little miffed at the decision Katie has made to leave the group. It's tempting to say that this song might be a desperate grasp at alt-rock radio airplay, except they already HAD that with "Sedona", a song that reflected the band's country-rock roots much more accurately, back in 2015. The pop music vibes of this song, instead, seem to be saying, "Come back, Katie! We need you! Here's how much our music sucks without you in the band!" This is a good song (otherwise, there'd be no point in reviewing it on my website), but come on, guys. I know you can do better than this.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

New songs for May 2nd 2018

here they are:

"Broken" by lovelytheband: Four chord indie-techno-pop is becoming common nowadays, and lovelytheband (is that to be said all in one breath?) is proof of this. Not a whole lot of changes or twists and turns in their song, "Broken", which borrows a bit from MGMT's "Kids" and makes it a bit more swallowable for soft rock stations to handle. The lyrics are worth noting, though, for their bittersweet quality. "I like that you're broken, broken like me, maybe that makes me a fool", lead singer Mitchy Collins says during the chorus, and follows it up with, "I like that you're lonely, lonely like me, I could be lonely with you". Essentially, the song's message is that two flawed people can make good partners for one another. I would be in favor of that sentiment.

"Childhood Goodbye" by Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear: It only seems fitting that a mother and son duo would do a song about childhood, doesn't it? That's exactly what happens on "Childhood Goodbye" by Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear. A key lyric in this poignant song comes in the beginning when Madisen sings, "Held my own, skin and bone, ain't much left to give". This line, which seems to be a woeful yet realistic reflection on what it's like to grow up, sets the tone for the whole song. The fact his mom is backing him up throughout the song only makes it that much more bittersweet but oh so precious to listen to!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

New songs for April 25th 2018

here they are:

"Bad Dreams" by Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johannson: Folk-rocker Pete Yorn and actress turned singer extraordinaire Scarlett Johansson have duetted before, but it's been almost a decade since they last did so. I never thought I'd hear the two of them after their 2008 song, "Relator", but now here they are together again. This time, the two opt for a cover of a song by indie-pop group, The Echo Friendly, and for some reason, the song has been retitled from "Worried" to "Bad Dreams". (It's not the first time this has been done. When Southern rock group Molly Hatchet covered The Allman Brothers' "Dreams", they retitled it as "Dreams I'll Never See", even though the two songs were actually the same one). Further immersing himself in the works of the indie pop groups he probably inspired, Pete Yorn adds a dark but catchy indie pop flavor to "Bad Dreams" that seems to stray a bit from the folk-rock he did when his career first started out. "We will always have bad dreams", Yorn and Johannson sing together in harmony during the chorus. I think The Echo Friendly's bad dreams have become a reality since someone took their song and changed its title!

"Fine Line" by Parker Millsap: Parker Millsap first arrived onto the adult alt airwaves two years ago, with a fun, charming acoustic rock song called "Pining" that easily brought to mind early Elvis Presley tunes. With "Fine Line", Parker continues churning out retro rock, but this time he goes one decade forward and amps it up a bit, bringing to mind the blues-ier side of groups like The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, a bit like The White Stripes had done as their career started to progress. "Honey I don't bite", Parker yowls during the chorus, "I'm just a little bloodthirsty". No, Parker hasn't been reading too many "Twilight" books (thankfully), he's just using a strange yet appealing metaphor to describe a typical day in the life of a rock and roll musician!

"Guilty Party" by The National: The National made two of their most rockin' tunes yet on their latest album, with the fast paced, frantic, "The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness", as well as the U2-esque, "Day I Die". Their third single from "Sleep Well Beast", "Guilty Party", dials things back a bit. "Guilty Party" depends more on keyboard than it does guitar, and it's noticeably softer than the other two songs as well. It's as though Matt Berninger partied too hard at first, and that this song was the aftermath. "Guilty Party", as its title implies, sounds sorrowful and somber. The National are known for being one of the more pessimistic groups in the indie scene, but this might be their saddest one yet.

"In Chains" by The War on Drugs: The National aren't the only band coming up on their third single from their latest album. The War on Drugs are as well, and this time around, Kurt Vile and his Pennsylvanian indie rock ensemble once again walk the line between Springsteen-esque arena rock and Roxy Music influenced prog-rock and sophisti-pop. The three singles from The WOD's latest album could be seen as a trilogy of sorts, each spiraling further downward into despair than the other. There was the hopeful "Holding On", the bitter sting of "Pain", and now it seems to be culminating in the realization of being "In Chains" as a result of all the negative emotions Kurt Vile is going through in this song. Out of the darkness comes light, though, as Kurt has been able to take all his frustration and turn it into aching, bittersweet beauty in his 7 and a half minute magnum opus, "In Chains".

"Just A Fool" by Jim James: Opening with a fuzzed out, Jack White-ish guitar solo, My Morning Jacket's Jim James' latest song, "Just A Fool", deals with the realization of just how foolish Jim feels as a member of contemporary American society, a theme that recurs throughout his latest album. Jim claims he's "just a fool gettin' by" in this song, but the struggle to "get by" is not one he shrugs off too easily, feeling cheated and used by the media and its spread of fast but often false information. Jim, you're no fool at all! Everyone else is!

"Life to Fix" by The Record Company: The most anticipated song of the week on adult alt radio is also the blues-iest and most upbeat! The Record Company are like the Black Crowes of the 2010's, out of step with current musical trends, but embracing blues-rock with such unabashed passion that people can't help but love them anyway! Their latest song, "Life to Fix", has a blues-y Southern rock groove that wouldn't sound out of place in an Allman Brothers or early ZZ Top song, except The Record Company aren't from the South. In fact, this blazin' rock trio are actually from my neck of the woods, Los Angeles! Maybe you don't have to be from a certain area of The States to appreciate what real rock and roll is all about! Oh, and dig those funky bass riffs in the opening, too!

"Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way" by U2: U2 might not have had a consistently good ALBUM since 2004, but they have been able to provide some powerful songs since then, and their latest song, "Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way", just happens to be one of them. The message of the song is simple, but still very universal. It's the old "love conquers all" adage, essentially, put to song. Leave it to Bono and the boys to continue the spread of peace and love through difficult times!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

New songs for April 18th, 2018

here they are:

"Bad Luck" by Neko Case: Neko Case is a clever musician riddled with contradictions. She's a folk-rocker with the attitude of a punk musician, not to mention a musician with honey sweet vocals that sing to rather dark and world weary lyrics. "Bad Luck" is yet another example of what a contradictory performer and songwriter Neko can be. The title of the song already lets you know this is not going to be a happy song, yet that's exactly what it sounds like it is! It's the closest she's gotten so far to a straight up alt-pop song. One more thing. She states early on in the song that she's "tired of trying to make everyone happy", yet it sounds like her aim in the song, as far as its sound is concerned, IS to make everyone happy. Talk about bad luck!

"Heart Killer" by Dr. Dog: This song opens with a weird but interesting sounding psychedelic keyboard sound making a rather dissonant note, but perhaps that part is only there to lure the listener in with a, "Whoa! That was trippy!" reaction to make them keep listening, as the rest of the song isn't really like that. The remainder of Dr. Dog's latest song, "Heart Killer", sounds more like a Wilco-esque attempt at glam rock. Throughout the song, one of Dr. Dog's two lead vocalists tells the tale of a girl who did him wrong, in an urgent "stay away from this person" vibe slightly reminiscent of songs like Lou Reed's "Vicious", which this song might just have been influenced by. What else is there to say? Sometimes the best way to warn someone about a contemptible person is to turn that warning into a catchy rock and roll anthem!

"Wildfire" by Big Something: Jam band rock makes a comeback with the cleverly named Big Something. Their breakthrough song, "Wildfire", is a whopping 8 and a half minutes long and, much to the delight of Deadheads and Phish-heads the world over, their album will be officially released two days from now, which just so happens to be 4-20. There's nothing too druggy or hazy about this song, but "Wildfire"'s incredible length and guitar/keyboard noodling are both staples of jam band material. The song also bears similarity to prog-rock with its Moog dominated sound, as well as its slight change of time signature midway through the song. To those who want to relive the album rock glory days when groups like The Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd ruled the FM rock airwaves, go ahead and jam on to all 8 and a half minutes of this song. To those who prefer their songs a bit less lengthy and ambitious, stop this song at around 4 and a half minutes and you should be fine. Either way, Big Something's retro sound is a welcome breath of fresh rock and roll air to the increasingly pop music dominated airwaves of today!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

New songs for April 11th, 2018

here they are:

"Fever Pitch" by Rainbow Kitten Surprise: In a decade where a "My Little Pony" reboot has proven to be one of the most successful cartoons, it only makes sense that someone would name their band something like "Rainbow Kitten Surprise". So, is their music as cute as their band name makes it sound?! Well...not exactly. It's kinda funky. Their lead singer bears a slight resemblance to Nathaniel Rateliff in terms of how he looks, and it sounds like his music does too. This song will not make you go "aww" like a rainbow or a kitten would. Instead, it's "surprise"-ingly soulful and groovy!

"Lash Out" by Alice Merton: Our next entry is pretty funky as well. Having already gained major success on the alt and adult alt charts during Autumn 2017 with "No Roots", Alice Merton returns to the charts for Spring 2018 with "Lash Out". Propelled by thick, funky guitars and a pulsating beat, "Lash Out" is a song about what pretty much everyone desires to do at some point when they feel under pressure. The impassioned, pent up anger released in Alice's voice during the chorus of the song makes us wanna lash out too. It also makes us wanna dance!

"Pink Lemonade" by James Bay: In an amazing switch from sounding less like Sheeran and more like The Strokes, "Pink Lemonade" marks singer/songwriter James Bay's first real dip into rock music. Opening with a propulsive guitar riff in F sharp minor, "Pink Lemonade" is enough to make fans out of people who weren't previously James Bay fans. From beginning to end, the song grips the listener and doesn't let go, especially once the drums kick in at about 15 seconds into it. The song appears to be about indecision regarding what to do in a relationship, and its title is only mentioned once in the song when James says he "want(s) to drink pink lemonade and watch movie trailers 'till it's late". I'm not one for drinking lemonade, regardless of its color, but this song sure makes me wanna dance all night!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

New songs for April 4th 2018

here they are:

"A Little Honey" by Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats: A soulful, spirited song, as usual, from Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, "A Little Honey" is more spicy than it is sweet. It has an interesting sound, as though The Band was attempting to cover Elton John's "Bennie and The Jets". As you can imagine, "A Little Honey" is a love song, but an energetic, impassioned one as only Nathaniel can deliver it. Nathaniel manages to pour more than just a little honey onto this song. Instead, he pours out all his heart and soul, and how!

"Alfie's Song (Not So Typical Love Song)" by Bleachers: What's it all about, Alfie? Well, here's what it's about. "Alfie's Song" is a song from the movie "Love, Simon" that encapsulates what it's like when a romance first blossoms in someone's life. If it's a song accompanying a movie where the character's name is Simon, then why did Jack Antonoff choose the name "Alfie"? Jack did so because "Alfie" is the name of his godson and he wanted to dedicate this song to him. Unlike what the title might lead you to believe, it's a pretty typical love song as far as its sound goes. It's a happy, optimistic song with pop music influenced instrumentation. Jack explains why it's a "not so typical love song" in the lyrics, since the romance he's singing about "hurt him again and again". Jack Antonoff believes in love, Alfie, although it's not a typical kind of love, apparently!

"Colors" by Beck: Is Beck a synesthete? Well, I don't know the answer to that question, but between the aptly colorful video for this song ( and its message, urging people to "feel the colors" (as opposed to just seeing them), I'm willing to bet he just might be one! "Sesame Street" nostalgics might even compare the wild, vibrant display of color (as well as the new wave-y music) to the "Wet Paint" video they had in the '80s! Watch and be amazed as a hand (Beck's, presumably) plays with colorful clay throughout the video of "Colors". Perhaps Beck should change his name to "Roy" in "Roy G. Biv", the acronym people use to teach the colors of the rainbow!

"Glory" by Dermot Kennedy: Dermot Kennedy is an Irish folk-rock musician, so naturally (being of Irish heritage myself), I wanted to know more about him upon finding this out! I have mixed feelings about this song, though, as it seems like Dermot doesn't know whether he wants to go for a bittersweet sound like Bon Iver or a more pop-y sound like Ed Sheeran. Dermot's debut single, "Glory", mixes moody acoustic guitars and impassioned vocals with pop music beats and production. Still, the way Dermot sings the title of the song is worth something, as he does so with a yearning passion that sticks in your head after you hear it!

"Into the Wild" by Phillip Phillips: The redundantly named 21st century folk-rocker continues to wow his audience with "Into the Wild", perhaps his most rocking song to date. This is the first Phillip Phillips song I can recall that really uses electric guitar the way it does, in a way that almost recalls the work of The Edge from U2. The song also uses interesting meter, in a similar manner to songs like Jethro Tull's "Thick As A Brick" (bet you weren't expecting THAT comparison, were you?!) As usual, Phillips' earnestness grips the listener from the moment the song is heard for the first time. The nature based imagery ("roll me like thunder", "I can be your landslide"), is also quite charming and adds to the appeal of this song.

"Over And Over And Over" by Jack White: Jack treated us to a blues and gospel influenced number earlier this year with "Connected By Love". "Over And Over And Over" is rock and roll, though, at its finest! Opening with a chunky riff that could easily be used in a Red Hot Chili Peppers song, Jack White plays a mean electric guitar pattern in E major that he, fittingly, uses over and over and over during this song! This is a song defined more by its musical power than it is by its lyrics. For people looking to resurrect the classic rock sound, look no further!

"Plastic Hamburgers" by Fantastic Negrito: "Fantastic Negrito" was not just some random indie band name that Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz chose for his band. He is, in fact, black (he didn't choose the "Negrito" part just to sound cool), and Xavier himself IS "Fantastic Negrito". His breakthrough song, "Plastic Hamburgers", can easily be described as Led Zeppelin meets Funkadelic. Melding chunky, blues-rock guitar riffs with neo-psychedelic organ sounds, "Plastic Hamburgers" is about Xavier's identity as a black man, and how he fears it will impact the identities of his children, and this is the fire that fuels the musical grills of "Plastic Hamburgers". His aim in the song is to destroy the walls that separate different sections of the human race from one another and to come to terms with the reality that ethnic minorities are facing. Here's hoping the message of songs like this one create a brighter future for our species!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

New songs for March 28th 2018

here they are:

"Before I Found You" by Van William: Before I found this song by Van William, he was merely the guy who had a song where the Swedish folk-rock group First Aid Kit provided guest vocals on one verse. Now that I've found "Before I Found You", though, I can see why so many adult alt radio stations have latched onto it! It combines acoustic instrumentation with catchy rock/pop beats. It has a heck of a catchy chorus, too. "I never knew who I was before I found you", Van declares during the chorus of the song, and then adds, "Don't let me sleep tonight". New love is full of exciting moments, isn't it?!

"Blackout" by Frank Turner: Frank Turner might just be one of the most eclectic musicians of the 2010's. From folk-rock to folk-punk to Bruce Springsteen-esque roots rock, he seems to have done it all! "Blackout" adds a new dimension to Frank's music. A sort of post-punk-cum-pop sound akin to groups like Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys is what drives Frank's latest song, "Blackout". The song centers around "the darkness" and how Frank is afraid of it, like he presumes the listener to be. What darkness is he talking about? We may never know the answer to that one. What we do know, however, is that this song is yet another reason to admire Frank Turner, just as I did when I first heard his music 5 years ago!

"Don't Give In" by Snow Patrol: Gary Lightbody's voice sounds a bit strained during the first verse of this song, but it does become more recognizable to Snow Patrol fans as it progresses. Choosing to perform their latest song in the not so commonly used key of D sharp minor (or E flat minor, depending on where you go in the musical scale), "Don't Give In" is a unique song for the part Irish and part Scottish indie-pop quintet. Perhaps the urgency here in Gary's voice is due to his addressing the problems with depression he has faced since he was young. Like many Snow Patrol songs, there is a sense of vulnerability in "Don't Give In". For a band who has not released a new album in 7 years, this is a pretty strong comeback!

"Fool Me Once" by Lukas Nelson: I've only heard a handful of Lukas Nelson songs, but this is probably the one where he sounds the closest to his legendary dad, Willie, in terms of both his vocals and his musical style. The song may be about someone's cheatin' heart, in true country-rock fashion, but it has a rather upbeat, happy-go-lucky sound in the spirit of groups like The Allman Brothers Band or Little Feat. Funny that Lukas chose to release this song as a single so close to April Fool's Day, isn't it? Considering its title, I mean...

"If Your Prayers Don't Get to Heaven" by Brian Fallon (lead singer of Gaslight Anthem): The Gaslight Anthem are like what you'd get if you mixed Bruce Springsteen with The Clash. Both Springsteen and The Clash had a hidden fondness for Motown and early soul music that occasionally surfaced in their music, so it only figures that The Gaslight Anthem's lead singer, Brian Fallon, would make a soul inflected tune of his own. That tune is "If Your Prayers Don't Get to Heaven". Given the bleak and desperate tone of most Gaslight Anthem songs, you might think the title to this song is a sarcastic one, but from what I can tell from the lyrics, it isn't. It just seems to be a song of reassurance to whoever Brian's current lover is. If your prayers don't get to heaven, the power of good music will!