Wednesday, June 13, 2018

New songs for June 13th, 2018

here they are:

"Back And Forth" by Wild Child: Indie-folk-pop ensemble, Wild Child, continues to experiment with vintage soul music on their latest song, "Back And Forth". Their breakthrough single from earlier this year, "Think It Over", demonstrated some soulful prowess as well. The use of brass instruments to brighten up "Back And Forth" is particularly intriguing. In spite of its bouncy sound, "Back And Forth" is actually about knowing when to walk away from a toxic relationship. Sure is a catchy tune, though!

"Black Moon Rising" by Black Pumas: Bringing back the smooth sounds of early '70s soul and funk music, The Black Pumas land their debut this week with a mighty bang! The lead singer's name is Eric Burton, which is just one letter away from The Animals' Eric Burdon. It's probably just coincidental, but it is interesting to consider how much the blues influenced both Burdon and Burton! As you might have guessed from the title of this song, it has some dark lyrics, but they're deliciously dark, in a way that can make someone feel smooth and sexy as much as they are righteous and empowered. Are you sure that's a moon rising?! 'Cause this song has me feelin' a fever inside as hot as the sun!

"For the Lonely Ones" by Lucero: Tennessee alt-country group, Lucero, have been around for 20 years now, but their song, "For the Lonely Ones", marks the first time that mainstream adult alt radio has taken notice of their music. It has a rough and rowdy alt-country sound like Drive-by Truckers or Old 97's, but with the unique addition of saxophones in the background, which neither the Truckers nor the 97's (to my knowledge) have had in their songs. The song has a lyrical similarity to songs like The Replacements' "Here Comes A Regular", although "For the Lonely Ones" is upbeat and ragged, as opposed to the more melancholy vibe of the 'Mats song. Both songs are essentially tunes for broken hearted drinking buddies to commiserate with one another. The spirited, Skynyrd-esque vibes of this song make that a little hard to tell, though!

"Never Ever" by Lord Huron: Bet you didn't expect a group as sweet and lilting as Lord Huron to cop a Joy Division-esque sound, did you?! Well, that's just what they do on "Never Ever", perhaps the first Lord Huron song to rely on chunkier electric guitar sounds and dark, droning keyboards, as opposed to the folk-rock-y, pastoral guitars that usually dominate their material. Lord Huron's strangely intriguing fascination with death, present throughout their previous album, "Strange Trails", continues to pop up on "Never Ever" as well, with the subject of the song seeming to be an ex lover who is no longer alive. The much gentler "Wait By the River" was also about this, so perhaps "Never Ever" serves as its angry, regretful "sequel song".

"Rolling On" by Israel Nash: Listening to this song for the first time makes me feel like the '60s never ended for Israel Nash. While there have been plenty of '60s throwbacks in the indie-folk realm, none have ever captured the vibes of being out in nature in such an ethereal state as Israel Nash has for his latest song, "Rolling On", and there's a very good reason for this. To make this song (and others for his latest album), Israel recorded out in Dripping Springs, Texas. This is why, if you listen real carefully, the sounds of water rushing and wind blowing, among other things, can be heard in this song. If anyone ever does an "indie rock yoga" session, this song should definitely be part of it!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

New songs for June 6th 2018

here they are:

"Charity" by Courtney Barnett: Don't be fooled by the title. This is not a love ballad from Courtney Barnett (Has she ever done one before in the first place?!) Instead, it's a dour, sarcastic, downtrodden song from Courtney, as per usual. If The Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb" had an "answer" song, it might just be this one. Jagger sang about a woman who was "under his thumb". Courtney IS that woman - well, not Mick's, but certainly one who has felt mistreated in relationships. In "Charity", she sings about how it feels to be treated with disrespect in a relationship, albeit with a cynicism that is unique to Courtney in her songs. "You must be having so much fun. Everything's amazing", she begins during the chorus, and follows these statements with, "So subservient I make myself sick. Are you listening?" In other words, she feels like she's been treated like an object for too long and doesn't want to put up with it anymore. Charity, eh?! Doesn't sound very charitable to me!

"On My Knees" by Middle Kids: It's been a long time since rock and roll. Even the so called "indie kids" feel that way now. "On My Knees" is the closest that Australian indie-pop trio, Middle Kids, have gotten to a rock song so far, so perhaps that's why it's gotten more attention so far than their other tunes have. The sound seems a little rushed and haphazard and gives off vibes of what it'd be like if Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros tried making a garage rock song. The attempt at sounding more like a rock group than an indie-pop band was probably intentional in this song, as it is basically about how much the members felt they have suffered as a band, and their search to find a silver lining in their situation.

"Sucker's Prayer" by The Decemberists: If the synth laden blitzkrieg of "Severed" from earlier this year didn't sit well with you, then perhaps the calmer roots-y guitar sound of "Sucker's Prayer" might be more for you. Lyrically, it is a classic Decemberists tune which juxtaposes sweet melodies and harmonies with dark lyrics. It's a song about someone who wants to commit suicide, but that might not be apparent to those listening to the song for the first time who want to focus more on the way the song sounds than its lyrical content. It's not the first time Colin Meloy and his indie-folk-rock ensemble have pulled this off. "The Rake's Song", for instance, was a grisly murder ballad, but its catchy beat seemed to lead people away from assuming that's what the song was about. Well done, Decemberists. You still have it in ya!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

New songs for May 30th 2018

here they are:

"Happy Man" by Jungle: This is not the first time Jungle have had a hit, but it is the first time that adult alt radio stations are starting to take notice of them. The British alt-dance septet create synthetic funk for the modern age with their latest song, "Happy Man". This track is an interesting one, with philosophical lyrics questioning whether "living the dream" is really worth it in the end. Also, although the song is called "Happy Man", the opening lyrics are, "I'm a troubled man". The narrator wants to FIND happiness, in spite of what the title indicates.

"No Expectations" by Bahamas: Accidental pregnancy was a common subject for rock and alternative songs of the 1990's. "The Freshmen" by The Verve Pipe, "Slide" by The Goo Goo Dolls, and "Brick" by Ben Folds Five all revolved around the subject. The topic hasn't been near as popular since then, but it seems like Bahamas are attempting to bring it back with "No Expectations". The narrator of this song seems to want to lure his lover back into his life, but she feels like she's made a mistake with him. Though it's not entirely clear whether this song is actually about unplanned pregnancy, there are hints to it in lyrics like, "A life that's worth livin' is just some mouth to feed", and "you carried a baby". Bahamas' lead singer follows up the latter with the phrase, "that baby was me", which is a bit of a weird lyric, but he then follows that up with, "I'm carrying a baby. One you'll never mean." The bite and sting of alternative rock from the '90s is nowhere near what this song sounds like, but there does appear to be similarity between the lyrics of such songs and this one.

"Soul No. 5" by Caroline Rose: Most of Caroline Rose's songs are country-rock, but not this one! "Soul No. 5" combines sassy attitude, tongue-in-cheek lyrics, and catchy indie rock beats made fresh for the late 2010's! There is no "number 5" mentioned anywhere in the lyrics, and it's also the only song of hers with the word "soul" in the title so far, so the number tacked on to the end of the title doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Caroline's caustic yet kooky delivery of the song helps to compensate for its odd title, though. The innuendo within some of the lyrics (which, might I add, is not very subtle) is sung in such a spoiled yet silly manner that you can't help but sing along with it!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

New songs for May 23rd, 2018

here they are:

"Beyond" by Leon Bridges: The jazzy adult alt mega hit, "Bad Bad News", proved earlier this year that Leon Bridges is far more than just a throwback to '60s R & B. He can embrace contemporary soul music just as well. "Beyond" goes beyond that (no pun intended) and adds flourishes of acoustic guitar to a soulful ballad. Leon is no stranger to the acoustic guitar, as he had done so once before with "River", but "Beyond" takes it to a whole new level. It's one of the ultimate "love at first sight" songs. On "Beyond", Leon passionately sings about how his lover "might just be (his) everything and beyond". What a great way to declare love!

"Casanova" by Rayland Baxter: After the ultra smooth, romantic vibes of our last song, it's only fitting that our next entry for the week is called "Casanova". The vibes of this song, however, are far more quirky and whimsical than they are romantic. Rayland Baxter is an artist of unpredictable quality. His "Yellow Eyes" was a sentimental folk-rock tune, and his followup single, "Mr. Rodriguez", was psychedelic indie-pop. "Casanova" is also psychedelic indie-pop, but with a slightly more happy go lucky feel than "Mr. Rodriguez". "Casanova" doesn't talk about romance much at all, really, and is instead focused on addiction to sex and drugs with a very tongue-in-cheek lyrical delivery.

"Four Out of Five" by Arctic Monkeys: Actually, this is our THIRD out of five entries for this week. The title actually refers to star ratings for restaurants (i.e. four stars out of five). I'm not sure if I'd go so far as to give this song a four, but it at least deserves three for combining Bowie-esque vocals and instrumentation with a syncopated rhythm that wouldn't sound out of place in a Police song. The song's lyrics are rather sardonic, as one might expect with Arctic Monkeys, with lead singer Alex Turner taking on the guise of a narrator, who is a selfish person who just can't seem to get used to how no one seems to care for his glitzy, glamorous lifestyle. This song is one of a steadily growing number of songs from the late 2010's about the tension we have been facing in the modern era.

"Quarter Past Midnight" by Bastille: Bastille's second album was something of an experiment for the band. First we had the "Under Pressure"-ish grooves of "Good Grief", then the neo-glam-rock of "Blame", and finally, the surprisingly bittersweet acoustic rock ballad, "World Gone Mad". "Quarter Past Midnight" is a return to the more basic indie-pop of Bastille's debut record from 2013. Musically, there's nothing really special about this song, unless maybe you were yearning for the days of Bastille's first and biggest hits, like "Pompeii" and "Bad Blood". As the title of "Quarter Past Midnight" implies, the song is about how exciting it can be to stay up late at night in town with your friends. Though the song does sound a bit generic for a Bastille song, it certainly captures the adrenalized rush one might feel during a nocturnal spree!

"Sharon" by Matt Costa: Funny that the last song just happens to be my mom's name! It's not about her, though, of course. What it's actually about is Matt Costa's experiences going between Northern and Southern California translated into a clever but bittersweet narrative about a young woman named Sharon and her longing for a love she had in the past. Matt delivers all this in an oddly charming song that suggests what it might have been like if Tom Petty covered Elvis Costello's "Less Than Zero". Much like he did with his 2010 adult alt radio hit, "Witchcraft", Matt is once again proving that he can be more straight up rock than the folk-rock image he originally cultivated, but this time, it comes with a story that seems like the West Coast version of a typical Bruce Springsteen lyric.

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!