You heard right, folks - EIGHT new entries!!! Quite a bit to make up for my absence last week. So here goes!!
"Horchata" by Vampire Weekend: Honestly, this one should have been reviewed about a month ago when adult alt. stations started to spin this one, but it took me awhile to realize just how awesome this song (and band) is! I love the tropical vibe that songs like this (and VW's 2008 hit, "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa") give off! Sounds almost like Ray Davies from the Kinks fronting Paul Simon's backing band from the '70s and '80s. I have no idea what "Horchata" is (from the lyrical context, an alcoholic beverage - "In the summer drinking Horchata"). Bottom line, this song makes me smile and makes me want to jump into a pool and cool off from the heat of the sun. A song this fun really should have been reviewed by me the moment it started getting attention, but at least I've reviewed it now!
"Hurricane J" by The Hold Steady: I've only heard one other song by this band (2008's Springsteen-meets-Wallflowers-ish "Sequestered In Memphis"), but MAN, this song ROCKS!! The Hold Steady seem to have abandoned their bar band schtick they had in "Sequestered", and gone more for a crowd-heavy, somewhat "Americanized" U2 type of sound. The Hold Steady could sell out arenas with this one, it's THAT good!! "Hurricane J" has just the right sound for an encore number in a rock concert (and if it gets popular enough, "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" oughta feature this song!!) It's official, folks - rock 'n' roll is here to stay with this song!! Long live rock!!
"Run" by Vampire Weekend: This song almost sounds like a sequel to VW's 2008 song, "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa". Both songs have a uniquely swaying reggae-influenced rhythm, and are also both in the key of D major. The main difference between the two songs (besides the lyrics)? "Run" features a mariachi band! Pretty cool if you ask me! "Run" also seems to bear more of a rhythmical resemblance to Paul Simon's "Late In the Evening" (VW seem to be pretty huge Paul Simon fans!) The band Vampire Weekend remind me of the most is probably The Police, in that they both combine reggae rhythms/guitar riffs with eclectic instrumentation. If you're a Police and/or Paul Simon fan, chances are you'll enjoy this one!
"Shake Me Like A Monkey" by The Dave Matthews Band: Songs like this one and "Why I Am" (from the same album, "Big Whiskey And the Groogrux King") make me think that DMB were aware of their reputation of being a "softer" rock band, so they decided to amp things up a bit on both of those songs. "Shake Me Like A Monkey" seems to almost dive into Red Hot Chili Peppers-ish territory. It's not as heavy as the typical RHCP song, but it does maintain the funkiness, groovy staccato guitar/bass riffs, and wild 'n' crazy fun of the typical RHCP song. There are even lyrical tongue twisters in the middle of the verses (my personal fave: "I like my coffee with toast and jelly, but I'd rather be licked from my back to my belly") to go with the manic energy of this song. All that being said, this is a fun song to both rock out to and get up and groove to!
"The Rain" by The Swell Season: Another song from the actor and actress of the beloved indie flick "Once". Having heard three songs off their latest album, "Strict Joy", it seems like Glen and Marketa wanted to go more for the more "mixed instruments" sound of '60s folk-rock than the more stark, acoustic sounds of Cat Stevens and Nick Drake that they went for on the "Once" songs. One thing they've managed to maintain from those songs that they've brought into their latest material is a sentimental, wistful quality. I love how this song starts out entirely acoustic, and in a minor key at that. Perhaps Glen and Marketa weren't aware that the chord sequence in this song is similar to "The Beast" by fellow indie-folk-rock duo Angus and Julia Stone, but it's still a nice song to listen to, especially on a rainy day (which, of course, is apt to the title).
"Tighten Up" by The Black Keys: I love the "happy psychedelic" sound on this one. It's the kind of sound that I think would be likely to be featured on a car commercial (or perhaps even another James Bond spoof, a la "Austin Powers"). What takes the cake for this song, however, is the video. It's hilarious!! Jim Henson would be proud, since the entire video is a PUPPET DINOSAUR singing along to the song!! Sounds like the kind of thing that would be quirky enough to be featured in a '70s or '80s episode of "Sesame Street" (who were also quite psychedelia influenced back in those days). Somebody call the folks who did "Avenue Q" and tell 'em to watch the video for The Black Keys' "Tighten Up"!! It's a hoot!
"Vaporize" by Broken Bells: Not that "The High Road" (the previous hit from this band) was bad, 'cuz it wasn't, but this song just sounds more fitting for a band whose lead singer is James Mercer from The Shins. It sounds kinda like The Beatles (a huge influence on The Shins). Much like The Black Keys' "Tighten Up" (see above), "Vaporize" also takes a foray into '60s psychedelia. It takes a Beatlesque approach instrumentally by adding in "unexpected" instruments such as organs and muted trumpets. "Sgt. Pepper" fans, rejoice! Speaking of which, "Vaporize" seems like it'd feel right at home on that album.
"Your Hands (Together)" by The New Pornographers: If any of you have heard of the classical composer Haydn's "Surprise Symphony", this song is like the rock and roll reincarnate version. It starts out melodic and happy like the typical New Pornographers song, but right in the middle of each line is a crunchy, loud "DA-NA-NA-NA-NA!!" guitar sound that sounds more like it'd fit in a Black Sabbath song than a New Pornographers song. If you're ever feeling like you just don't want to get up in the morning, put this song on. It's BOUND to make you wake up and smell the coffee!!