Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New songs for September 20th, 2017

here they are:

"Around the World" by Kings of Leon: Sometimes, the best thing a song can do for you is make you feel good. That seems to be exactly what the aim of Kings of Leon's latest song, "Around the World", is. There's nothing really "deep" about this song, but there doesn't need to be. Both the sound and lyrics of this song just seem to be about having fun. So go ahead. Spread your love around the world!

"If All I Was Was Black" by Mavis Staples: Clearly, Mavis Staples is far more than an American woman of African descent. First and foremost, she is a musician, a legend of the soul genre who also mixed in the occasional blues and gospel influences whose popularity peaked in the '60s and '70s. She's two years shy of 80 now, but she can still belt it out just as great as ever! In this funky blues-y number, Mavis points out another thing that unites her with the human race, and that is love. After attacking the current president in "I Give You Power" earlier this year, perhaps she felt she needed a positive song to balance things out. If that's the case, this song definitely does the trick!

"Los Ageless" by St. Vincent: The exquisite, Tori Amos-sounding ballad, "New York", from earlier this year, was a bit of a departure in sound for St. Vincent. "Los Ageless", the latest song from the artist also known as Annie Clark, is a return to the more quirky, Bjork-ish songs that St. Vincent has become known for. And yes, "Los Ageless" is not a typo. It is a scathing way of describing the place which just happens to be my hometown (Don't worry, Annie, all is forgiven!) It is interesting how St. Vincent has romanticized New York and trashed Los Angeles on the same album! "Los Ageless", according to St. Vincent, is a harsh and unforgiving city where "mothers milk their young" and where people are bound to lose their minds. The song comes off as a slightly more venomous version of Depeche Mode's "Policy of Truth" in terms of how it sounds. As for St. Vincent's criticism of L.A.? I think I'm gonna have to side with Randy Newman, who declared that he "loved" the city in one of his biggest hits (though it was probably a tongue-in-cheek declaration). Everyone's entitled to their opinion, though, and I have always wanted to visit New York.

"O Me O My" by Son Little: Interesting how both of the even numbered songs in this edition of my blog (Mavis Staples' song was # 2, and this one is fourth) are R & B styled tunes. The slinky, seductive sound of this song hearkens back to Son Little's first big song, "The River". "O Me O My" is less blues-rock and more straight up retro R & B, with its funky guitar sound being used mainly for rhythm here. The minor key of the song is reflective of its rather dystopian theme. Apparently, it's about the stress people face in contemporary society. Specifically, Son Little contemplates on the idea of people someday colonizing Mars, and how that might not be such a good idea. Deep soul with deep thoughts! Does it get any better than this?!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

New songs for September 13th, 2017

here they are:

"Never Been Wrong" by Waxahatchee: Never been wrong?! That's quite a bold claim to make! But one thing I think I've never been wrong about is that I know a good song when I hear one, and this song just happens to be one of them. The raw, noise-pop sound of this song is as bold as its title. Lead singer Katie Crutchfield has both the perishing vocals and no-frills guitar sound of The Pixies' Kim Deal in "Never Been Wrong". I get the feeling that fans of other bands fronted by fierce females (Sleater-Kinney, for instance) will like this song as well.

"Up All Night" by Beck: ANOTHER new Beck song?! No! It's too soon!! It hasn't even been a month that "Dear Life" has been on the airwaves, and there has already been a lot of alt and adult alt radio stations that have picked up his second single of the year, "Up All Night". The dance floor meets the orchestra in this unique song! True to its name, "Up All Night" will have you staying up all night to dance! The lyrics of the song seem to be pretty dance-centric as well, and Beck sneaks in a punny line towards the end ("Hands up in the air, livin' out a prayer". Bon Jovi reference, anyone?!)

"You're the Best Thing About Me" by U2: Bono and the boys have been at it for almost 40 years now!! The new millennium has seen both hits and misses for the famous Irish rock quartet, and this one could be described as being a little of both. The chorus of the song is so anthemic and happy that it could pass for being guitar-centric bubblegum pop, but the way the chords of The Edge's guitar hook you in at the beginning are pretty hard to resist!! This song is also quite an easy one to get stuck in your head! This song might not be the best thing about U2, but U2 themselves are still one of the best things about rock and roll!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

New songs for September 6th 2017

here they are:

"Bones of Saints" by Robert Plant: In contrast to the folk-y "The May Queen" from just last week, "Bones of Saints" has a bit more of a sound that suggests what it might sound like if Led Zeppelin had stayed together into the new millennium. The foreboding "bones" part of the title suggests that it's more of a rock song, but fear not, it's not a spooky one. It's a fun little blues-y romp tinged with mythological motifs that were common in Plant's music during the Led Zeppelin days. It doesn't hit quite as hard as the typical Zeppelin tune, but for those who want Robert Plant to show off some of his rock and roll past, you got your wish!

"Day I Die" by The National: Joy Division styled electro-gloom fused with U2 styled guitars might not seem like a good match at first, but The National manage to make it work on their latest song, "Day I Die". Strained family relationships and drug/alcohol abuse make up the core of this song, which has Matt Berninger wondering, "The day I die, where will I be?" Judging by the lyrical content and the somewhat dismal musical landscape, he probably thinks he won't be in a good place when he dies. Fate is a fickle friend, isn't it?!

"No Witness" by LP: A departure from the folk-y vibes of "Into the Wild" and "Lost On You", LP's latest song, "No Witness", has more of a post-millennial alt-pop flavor to it, full of synths and handclap sounds. It comes off sounding like Queen's "We Will Rock You" as if it was covered by Lorde. Where "Lost On You" was more of a mournful pining on a love gone lost, "No Witness" is a song in which LP accepts her fate as the rejected lover, admitting, "No one can save me, love me or hate me". She seems to use the aforementioned line as a bit of a mantra before jumping into the chorus, as if she doesn't like what has happened to her, but has still chosen to accept it that it's just how things are.

"Over Everything" by Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett: Move over, Cobain and Love! There's a new Kurt and Courtney in town! Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett, to be exact, both of whom are eclectic indie-folk-rockers of the 2010's. Their first song together, "Over Everything", epitomizes the "slacker" aesthetic of the indie scene. It is a very lazy, hazy song, with lyrics that don't exactly add up to a cohesive narrative (at least not that I can tell). However, it also has an equal amount of sensitivity in terms of how it sounds, both instrumentally and vocally. At 6 and a half minutes, the song also has a bit of a "jam band" vibe. I wonder if that was influenced by both Kurt and Courtney contributing to an all-indie tribute to The Grateful Dead that came out about a year ago.

"Revolution" by Van William (featuring First Aid Kit): No, this is not a Beatles cover song, for those who might be wondering. Far from it, in this case. Unlike the rollicking, roaring Lennon-McCartney tune of the same name, this "Revolution" is soft and folk-y and has nothing to do with politics whatsoever. This song is simply about a strained relationship that both members of the couple want to patch up. Nothing too remarkable about this song, but it is pleasant to listen to, and the horns that come in midway through the song make it sound a bit more unique than it would otherwise.

"The Sky Is A Neighborhood" by Foo Fighters: Last, but certainly not least, the mighty Foo Fighters are still roarin' and rockin' to this very day! Their latest song is essentially arena rock in the vein of The Who or Queen, but meant more for the current generation. What's particularly remarkable about this song, though, is the lyrics. Dave Grohl supposedly was reading Neil DeGrasse Tyson books when he came up with the lyrics to this song. Its talk of heaven, the stars, and the sky is not merely poetic metaphor in this song, but rather a literal musing on the cosmos. Rock never sounded so out of this world!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

New songs for August 30th 2017

here they are:

"Dear Life" by Beck: You never what to expect with Beck. Folk one minute, funk the next, and everything between as well! His latest song, "Dear Life" is yet another "something completely different" moment from the musician I often liken to being a '90s-and-onward version of David Bowie. "Dear Life" actually does have some Bowie-esque vibes to it, not to mention little swirls of The Beatles and Queen here and there as well. It starts with a catchy piano hook that sounds not unlike one that John, Paul, George, and Ringo might have done together, and a Beatlesque guitar creeps in midway through the song. The astounding alt-rocker has done it again!

"Miles" by Phillip Phillips: With three albums now under his belt, Phillip Phillips has proven himself to be so much more than your run-of-the-mill "American Idol" contestant. Instead of opting for the pop spotlight, as most of them have, the redundantly named folk-rocker has gone a bit more under the radar since the days of his first hit songs, but rest assured, Phillip is the type who values quality over quantity! His latest song, "Miles", would not be out of place as a song in the Snow Patrol or early Coldplay catalog. It is both heartfelt and anthemic, as most of his songs tend to be. "Miles" is also his first song since his legal battle against "Idol"s record company, and the lyrics of the song seem to reflect this. This is evident right from the song's opening lyrics, "Right now I need an escape from this gravity that holds me down. We gotta leave here today 'cause insanity is all around."

"The May Queen" by Robert Plant: The title of this song is probably taken from the line in Plant's "Stairway to Heaven" that goes, "If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now. It's just a spring clean for the May Queen." For over 40 years, Led Zeppelin fans have probably wondered who the "May Queen" is. Well, we're about to find out! Or then again, maybe not, since the title of "The May Queen" is not actually mentioned in its lyrics. Instead, the lyrics appear to simultaneously suggest both a love song and a spiritual, yogic chant of sorts. Perhaps that means that the titular queen is a goddess of some sort? She might just be the lady who's sure all that glitters is gold in the beginning of "Stairway". The world may never know!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

New songs for August 9th, 2017

here they are:

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

New songs for August 2nd, 2017

here they are:

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

New songs for July 26th 2017

here they are:

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

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