Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New songs for August 17th, 2016

Here they are:

"After Dark" by Eliot Sumner: In spite of her name, Eliot Sumner is, in fact, a gal, not a dude. Speaking of dudes, her dad happens to be one of the biggest in the music business. His name is Gordon and he is best known by the moniker "Sting". Yes. THAT Sting. The man who combined reggae with rock in a trio who released five albums and then went on more of a straight jazz slant on his own. Eliot is picking up where her dad left off back in his heyday with "After Dark". Picture, if you will, a song like "Message In A Bottle" if it used more conventional chords and had more synth to back it up. That's pretty much "After Dark" in a nutshell. If Andy and Stewart still backed Sting up into the '90s and the 21st century, he'd sound an awful lot like his own kid! The Sumners are actually a musical family. Sting's son, Jake, had a minor adult alt hit with the reggae/rock fusion song with "Two Sisters" back in 2007. I wonder what his other kids have in store for us!

"Help Me Out" by Wild Feathers: Wild Feathers' second single from "Lonely Is A Lifetime", "Help Me Out", opts once again for a vibe that is more straight "indie" than it is country-rock. "Help Me Out" is a bit more slowed down than their previous single, "Overnight", but it still rocks in its own little way. On the surface, "Help Me Out" might sound like a lovesick plea, but the type of love that the song centers around is more platonic than romantic. According to one of the band members, it's basically their equivalent, lyrically, to a song like "Lean On Me", with its universal message urging people to stand by one another through the good times and the bad.

"New Song" by Warpaint: You couldn't come up with a better title of your song than what your song is, eh?! Actually, "new song" doesn't refer to the song itself, but is instead a cute nickname for the lead singer's object of affection. I can't help but feel a little bad that this is the first Warpaint song I've really heard. They've been a cult fave for a long time among indie fans and were (from what I heard) more experimental. "New Song" isn't really all that experimental. It doesn't stray too far from the C minor note that starts it off, which is also used heavily in the verses and chorus. Its electronica sound isn't anything new or different either, but I suppose I should still give credit where credit is due. This song is probably just a vehicle for Warpaint to get a larger audience, and if so, I think they will probably succeed in doing so.

"Real Love Baby" by Father John Misty: The title of this song just sounds like some sort of laid back hippie phrase, doesn't it?! If it does, then what you see is what you get here. FJM dials back the odd sort of experimentation he's done with his last few songs and returns to a more basic folk-rock sound with "Real Love Baby". As you might expect with a song with this title, the message of "Real Love Baby" is simple but still satisfying. "Real Love Baby" also tends to tone down the irony and sarcasm that FJM seems to use in a lot of his songs. This song, in contrast, is a very sincere one, and quite possibly the most sincere so far in his catalog.

"River" by Bishop: Bishop Briggs, if you want to know her alliterative full name. This slinky combination of soul, rock, and electronica is just the right track to make your sizzlin' summer more steamy! "Shut your mouth and rock me like a river", Bishop saucily croons during the chorus of the song. With "River"'s electronic beats coming off as sultry as Bishop's own voice, "rock (her) like a river" is probably exactly what many of her male fans would like to do to her. Add this one to your soundtrack of love-makin' music if you have one!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

New songs for August 10th, 2016

here they are:

"A Thousand Times" by Hamilton Leithauser: The Walkmen's lead singer sure has come a long way from where he started off! I never would have predicted that a band known for mixing surf and garage rock sounds during the 21st century would end up having a lead singer who was capable of making a song as romantic as this one! The old-time-y sounding piano and organs that dominate this song make it seem like it's from another time (that is, until the guitars come in towards the end). The message of the song is pretty simple. Leithauser has a dream that the one he desires the most was his "a thousand times". No matter how many times the message is repeated, though, (which it is quite a few times) it's still a very heartfelt sentiment, don't ya think?

"Comeback Kids" by The Jayhawks: Moving away from their more traditional country and folk influences, The Jayhawks have decided to have more of an "indie" sound in their latest song, "Comeback Kids". Here, Gary Louris and co join the ranks of fellow alt-country-cum-indie band, Wilco, in having a song that sounds like a cross between Big Star and Television, in which jangle-pop meets post-punk. Despite the rougher edges this song has in comparison to the 'Hawks other material, "Comeback Kids" is still sentimental in the lyrical sense. It is a song about reminiscing over a former girlfriend.

"I'm Still Here" by Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings: Sharon Jones is definitely still here, that's for sure! In her latest song, "I'm Still Here", Sharon delivers a powerful blast of soul music as only she can! Drums, bass, sax, and of course, Jones' powerful vocals propel this song, which seems to be a tale of both survival and triumph. No other "neo-soul" artist sounds both so funky and so authentically 1960's as Sharon Jones does. The song switches between quieter verses and louder chorus sections, although "loud", in this case, is something celebratory and free of distortion.

"Love Is A Burden" by Jamestown Revival: The Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down" is a painfully obvious influence this song has, at least during the verses. On the plus side, though, the overall sound of "Love Is A Burden" is a step closer to a 2010's alt-rock-ish sound than the bluegrass-y Jamestown Revival previously had two years ago, so perhaps certain younger listeners might find this song to be an easier way to get into Jamestown Revival's music than "California (Cast Iron Soul)" was. Love may be a burden, but clearly nothing is stopping Jamestown Revival from using bright, catchy instrumentation to mask its lovelorn lyrics.

"Shut Up Kiss Me" by Angel Olsen: No, she is not the third Olsen twin (triplet?!) Far from it, really. Her music is like an unlikely cross between Tom Petty and PJ Harvey, and she's about as clear to understand vocally as either of them are (in other words, she's hard to understand). She sings "Shut up kiss me, hold me tight" so fast that you can barely tell what she's saying! At least it's somewhat easy to tell what it's about lyrically. It seems to be about an unrequited love of sorts, albeit as more of a defiant declaration of love than as a "no one understands me, I'm sad" statement.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

New songs for August 3rd, 2016

here they are:

"Bleeding Heart" by Regina Spektor: Is it just me, or has Regina Spektor gotten more synth-heavy lately?! Her latest song, "Bleeding Heart" certainly seems to indicate this. This sounds a bit more like a latter-day Lily Allen song than it does like something from quirk-folk queen Regina Spektor. Part of Regina's charm initially was her unabashed love of composing Tori Amos-esque tunes during a time when it wasn't exactly "hip" to do so. Of course, offbeat lyrics are another part of what makes Regina so fascinating to listen to, and those are present on "Bleeding Heart". The chorus simply consists of the phrases "never mind" and "bleeding heart" repeated a few times, which seems like a pretty Regina-esque thing to do. "Bleeding Heart" leaves something more to be desired, though. I was expecting something either more sad or more enjoyably weird, and "Bleeding Heart" is neither.

"Let Love Be (With U)" by Kula Shaker: Ah, to be a part of a British rock group in the '90s. Oasis and Radiohead reigned supreme in the middle of the decade. Millions of other names in British rock of the '90s went under the radar, though, and Kula Shaker were one such band. Much like Oasis, Kula Shaker were a band that were more indebted to timeless upbeat classic rock during a time of gloomy alternative rock. Kula Shaker even covered Deep Purple's "Hush" and seemed to have a minor hit with it too. "Let Love Be (With U)" has a retro flavor as well, but its sound is more blue-eyed soul (white R & B) than it is rock. It has a happy, toe tapping sound defined by brass and rhythm, and the electric guitar takes a backseat until towards the end of the song. Kula Shaker were never a product of their times, but that's probably why their small but significant fanbase likes them.

"Rita Mae Young" by The Record Company: One of the biggest shocks of the year was to know that a song that wouldn't have sounded out of place among Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin songs was one of THE top selling adult alt songs of the year ("Off the Ground"). "Rita Mae Young" is a lighter song than "Off the Ground", but its smoky, gritty, soulful sound would probably still appeal to fans of '60s rock. This song really puts the "blues" in blues-rock. The lead singer of The Record Company mourns the loss of his relationship with a woman named Rita Mae Young throughout the song, but does so in such a way that it becomes upbeat instead of sad. What a way to sing the blues!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Forever Young!

The words "youth" and "child" appear in the only two songs I have for this week. Therefore I thought "Forever Young" would be a clever title for this week's blog. Anyway, on with the show!

"Fountain of Youth" by Local Natives: Whenever a new political age is ushered in, new songs are ushered in to go along with that. The '60s saw many such songs, and even the era of Bush the younger got an entire Green Day album in protest of it in response. Not a whole lot of songs have been written yet about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders, but Local Natives address the first of these three in their latest song, "Fountain of Youth", referring to her as "Mrs. President", perhaps in a tongue-in-cheek manner. The song's chorus of "We can do whatever we want. We can say whatever we need" seems like an accurate representation of the disillusionment a lot of young people (and quite a few older ones, too) feel about the current political climate. The new revolution has just begun. There is more of it to come, I'm sure of it!

"If I Ever Was A Child" by Wilco: At long, long last, Wilco return to their roots as a folk/country-rock group after quite a few albums with a feedback drenched psychedelic rock influenced sound. The lyrics and mood of this song are both bittersweet, something Wilco haven't really touched upon in their music since their 2009 song, "You and I", which was a duet with Feist. "If I Ever Was A Child", as its title seems to imply, is a sweet, nostalgic sounding song that also has an air of sadness to it. The song's chorus expresses that Jeff Tweedy was "never alone long enough to know if (he) ever was a child." Perhaps Tweedy is pining for simpler times on this song, and the entire album, at that, which is largely composed of folk-rock and country-rock tunes that lack the distortion present on so many other recent Wilco songs.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

New songs for July 20th 2016

here they are:

"I'm Not the One" by Pete Yorn: The three main chords of this song, F, G, and A minor, make this song very similar to what an indie-pop version of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" might be like, though the chorus is different in this song in that it resolves in C major. "I'm Not the One" does indulge itself in the same sort of melancholia that "Dreams" did, but instead of being a revenge song disguised as something bittersweet, "I'm Not the One" really is bittersweet. No blaming or finger pointing in this song, just a simple way of saying "I'm sorry, but you're not what I'm looking for" in 3 and a half minutes. Simple premise, but still an effective song.

"Numb" by OJR: The sound of this song is strange, but kinda cool. It takes the sound of the typical "unplugged" Nirvana song and makes it sound like roots-y country-rock. How that's possible is anyone's guess, but it actually manages to flow pretty well here. The lyrical mood of the typical Nirvana song seems to prevail on "Numb" as well, telling the story of a man who just feels tired of his life and how much people are pushing him around. And what does "OJR" stand for, you ask? The singer's initials, Oliver John Rodgers, that's what!

"San Quentin" by Nahko and Medicine for the People: Nahko and Medicine for the People?! Now THERE's a cool name if I ever heard one!! The song itself is just as cool! "San Quentin" is a song in which jazz, Latin, blues, world music, and rock fuse into a single genre! And that's not all, folks. On NAMFTP's YouTube page for "San Quentin" is a description for what the song is about. Apparently it is about a trip Nahko made to the titular city to meet the man who killed his father. Pretty daring move, there, but if you can get a song as catchy and meaningful as this one out of it, I guess anything's possible!

"The Changing Man/While It Still Beats" by Ray LaMontagne: By far the strangest and most adventurous track of the week, "The Changing Man/While It Still Beats" is one part psychedelic rock, one part prog-rock, and in all, is a song that just doesn't seem to know which direction it's going in! I'd expect something like this from Tame Impala, but not Ray LaMontagne! The former folk-rocker has now gone OFF his rocker in this song! There hasn't been a song quite like this so far in 2016, and I doubt there will be for a long time!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

New songs for July 13th 2016

here they are:

"I Know" by Shovels and Rope: So far, this is both the most vengeful ("I know exactly what you think you are") and the most rockin' song in S & R's catalog. The once quaint little country-rock group has suddenly gained a dirty, blues-y edge on this chug-along track. Amidst the grimy sound and scathing lyrics, however, Shovels and Rope still have the trademark harmonies they have become known for among their fanbase. S & R have made little dents here and there before on adult alt stations (perhaps most notably with their jaunty, clap-long ditty, "O Be Joyful"), but so far they haven't had a song that's been as popular with the format as this one has. With its distinctive flavor among the other songs in S & R's catalog, it's no wonder this one has gotten so much attention so far!

"Umpqua Rushing" by Blind Pilot: Our only other entry for the week, Blind Pilot hasn't strayed too far from the quiet, reflective folk-rock sound they have become known for with "Umpqua Rushing". However, it does contain more electronic percussion than "We Are the Tide" and "Half Moon" did (it bears remarkable similarity with the latter of these two songs). A fluid, buoyant acoustic guitar sound can still be heard beneath "Umpqua Rushing"'s artificial drumbeats. Nothing really to write home about with this song, but it can still be nice to hear a song like this one for the sheer relief and comfort factors it provides. Chicken soup for the indie soul!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

New songs for June 22nd 2016

here they are:

"All I Ever Wonder" by St. Paul and The Broken Bones: Retro-soul revivalists St. Paul and The Broken Bones are on the run once again! In addition to the Al Green-ish R & B they've already become known for, St. Paul and The Broken Bones have a bit of an added gospel influence in their latest song, "All I Ever Wonder", that wasn't exactly apparent on their previous songs. So what is it that they "ever wonder", you may ask? Well, the song is basically about trying to make it through difficult situations. Perhaps the high-spirited gospel influenced sound of the song serves as a way to find light through the darkness of life.

"Better Love" by Hozier: The hits just keep on comin' from Irish soul/alt-pop hybrid, Hozier. Nearly half of his debut album has become well loved among indie and alt fans. With news of a new Hozier song that was NOT on his debut album, I thought maybe he had already released a sophomore effort! Sadly, this is not the case. His newest song, "Better Love", is actually a song featured exclusively on the soundtrack of the new movie, "The Legend of Tarzan". Most of Hozier's songs deal with the battle between the sacred and the profane, but it seems like it is mainly the former that is being focused on in this case. This is especially evident on the chorus when Hozier proudly proclaims that "there's no better love that beckons above me". What does sacred, pure love have to do with Tarzan?! As someone who has not seen the movie yet, I have yet to find out, but I'm guessing it has something to do with some heroic triumph that the title character has towards the end of the film.

"Good Grief" by Bastille: Since when has Charlie Brown joined an indie-pop group?! Come to think of it, that'd probably be pretty fitting for everyone's favorite "blockhead", considering how heavy the weight of his problems are, but I digress. Actually, "Good Grief" is pretty energetic for British indie-pop stars, Bastille, in spite of its pessimistic sounding title. The song plays out like Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure" filtered through a bright, flashy indie-pop lens. It seems to be more of a song about missing a girl than it is about general frustration (which I thought it would have been due to its title.)