Wednesday, October 11, 2017

New songs for October 11th, 2017

here they are:

"Continental Breakfast" by Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett: Much like the Kurt and Courtney that came before these two, Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett don't usually make happy songs. "Continental Breakfast" is an exception to the rule. A pleasant, upbeat folk-rock number, "Continental Breakfast" is a feel-good song about...well...feeling good! The song centers around cherishing friendship, but in a natural way instead of a corny one. You can't help but feel happy when you listen to songs like this one!

"Sleep On the Floor" by The Lumineers: "Sleep On the Floor" is a notable song for The Lumineers in that it is one of the few (if not the only one) to feature prominent use of the electric guitar. Over Bob Dylan-esque instrumentation, The Lumi's sing about how desperate times call for desperate measures, which might be why the song is called "Sleep On the Floor" (the phrase doesn't appear anywhere in the lyrics). This song also breaks the pattern of having every song put out as a single from the Lumi's sophomore album being a girl's name (Ophelia, Cleopatra, Angela). "If we don't leave this town, we might never make it out" seems to be the central line in the song, as it is about trying to survive during a difficult situation.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

New songs for October 4th, 2017

here they are:

"Domino (Time Will Tell)" by Hiss Golden Messenger: Much like in Van Morrison's similarly titled "Domino", we never really find out who (or what) "Domino" is in the context of this song, but in both cases, they appear to be a person. Both songs also center around the joys of music. However, this "Domino" has more of a roots-y country-rock sound, as opposed to Van's soulful jazz-rock ditty. It appears to be more lyrically influenced by The Grateful Dead's "Truckin'" than it is by Morrison's "Domino" (which both came out in the year 1970, coincidentally) with its constant name dropping of famous cities and venues in the U.S. and its narrative of life on the road. Will this song hold up as well as The Dead and Van the Man have?! Well, as the parenthetical title of this song implies, "time will tell"!

"If We Were Vampires" by Jason Isbell: After Jason's scathing, rocking, "Hope the High Road" from earlier this year, he has come back a second time around with a much softer and more reflective song, albeit with a spookier title apt for the month Halloween happens to fall on. The song actually has little to do with vampires, and a lot to do with contemplating the meaning of life and whether it's worth living. The song only gets more poignant as it goes on, culminating with the lines, "Maybe we'll get 40 years together/But one day I'll be gone, or one day you'll be gone", quite possibly the deepest lyrics in a country-rock song since "Dust In the Wind".

"It's A Shame" by First Aid Kit: It was just about a month ago that First Aid Kit, a folk-rock duo of Swedish sisters, released a surprisingly catchy song called "Revolution" with newcomer, Van William. Now, First Aid Kit have once again struck out on their own. "It's A Shame" isn't quite as catchy as "Revolution", but it's still memorable, and First Aid Kit fans will likely be drawn to it, since it has the trademark harmonies and bittersweet yet buoyant folk-rock instrumentation the sisters have become known for. The "shame" that is talked about in the song is the shame that is felt when a relationship ends. The vintage sounding organ in the song gives it a slightly Dylan-esque flavor, and was apparently recorded in Jack White from The White Stripes' studio.

"One Foot" by Walk the Moon: There has always been something irresistibly cheesy about Walk the Moon's music. That's nothing new! What is new, however, is that their latest song, "One Foot", has a bit less guitar than their fans might be used to. Both their debut single, "Anna Sun", and the massively successful "Shut Up And Dance" have used guitar as a prominent instrument, sounding like an unabashedly pop-y version of U2 in doing so. "One Foot" just doesn't have that U2-ish sound. It is largely a synth driven song, except during the chorus when you can hear the guitarist a bit more clearly. One thing WTM haven't lost, though, is their knack for making radio ready pop music with a slightly "alternative" edge. They have turned the cliche phrase, "one foot in front of the other", into a group of words that can be shouted at a stadium! These guys could probably sing a section of the phonebook and still make a Top 40 hit out of it!

"Spent the Day In Bed" by Morrissey: And last, but certainly not least, the distinctly voiced, notoriously cynical lead singer of innovative '80s indie-pop band, The Smiths, has returned to make lyrical poetry out of complaints once again. Though Morrissey is a native Brit, he seems to pay attention to political affairs the world around, and is usually unhappy about them. This leads me to believe that "Spent the Day In Bed" is probably about the current state of American political affairs, particularly when Moz urges his listeners to "stop watching the news" during the chorus. Over a quirky, stilted keyboard sound that might not sound out of place in a Zombies tune, Morrissey broodingly croons about how agoraphobia might not be a bad choice with all the negativity going on in the world outside his house. Hopefully we'll be able to wake you up in 2020, Moz! In the meantime, sweet dreams...hopefully.

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.