Wednesday, April 21, 2010

new songs for Apr. 21st, 2010

here they are!!

"Crash Years" by The New Pornographers - Unlike the previous single from The New Pornographers' most recent album ("Your Hands Together"), this song is a bit more typical of the New Pornographers style. It's melodic, somewhat folk-rock and '60s pop influenced, and is also clever enough to pick up on musical "trends" indie rock songs have had, such as whistling (Don't believe me? Listen to Peter Bjorn and John's "Young Folks", Andrew Bird's "Fitz And the Dizzyspells", Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros' "Home", and The Black Keys' "Tighten Up" - they ALL have whistling!!) As an added bonus, indie rock songbird Neko Case takes the lead vocals here, giving "Crash Years" an almost Fleetwood Mac-y vibe (much like fellow indie band Rilo Kiley, whose lead singer Jenny Lewis also qualifies, to me, as a modern day Stevie Nicks - musically, not vocally). Like Fleetwood Mac, The New Pornographers consists of both male and female lead vocalists, and the female ones in both bands seem more distinct - they give the bands some flavor. If you prefer hearing more consistently melodic music coming from the New Pornographers (like I do), then give this one a listen!

"I Learned the Hard Way" by Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings: Indie SOUL?! Though such a term hasn't been applied (at least to my knowledge) to any particular musician or band, it oughta!! Especially in the case of Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings whom, despite their Aretha Franklin-ish sound, have received massive praise from both indie fans and indie publications (and some pretty major ones, at that)! Neo-soul is a term that has existed for quite awhile, and probably first became a household name with artists like Macy Gray, and shortly afterwards, Joss Stone. The trend continued in the mid-to-late-2000's with Amy Winehouse, Duffy, and Adele. However, there's something that all five of those musicians have had that Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings haven't yet received - mainstream recognition. I hate to sound like a "music snob", but mainstream recognition for neo-soul musicians almost seems to be a kiss of death, making a once vibrant and unique sound seem more commonplace. Thankfully, Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings are in no such position! The best thing about songs like "I Learned the Hard Way" is that they sound like they really ARE from the '60s - if I hadn't known better I would've thought this was a previously unreleased Aretha Franklin (or some similar artist) track!

"Junebug" by Robert Francis: This song has been out since November 2009, so why has it not gotten recognition by adult alt. stations until now?! This really boggles my mind, especially considering that this truly is a GREAT song!! I've always been a huge Ryan Adams fan, as well as a big Cranberries fan, and this song seems like a combination of the two. "Junebug" OOZES emotional quality of the finest sense, in a wistfully romantic and bittersweet way that still somehow manages to rock (which might explain the comparisons it's gotten by others to U2 and Springsteen). It's one of those songs that makes me "cry on the inside" so to speak, because it's just THAT beautiful and haunting. I think this is the best song I've reviewed for this week, so please check it out if you haven't done so already!!

"Laredo" by Band of Horses: The great thing about Band of Horses is the emotional quality (once again) that just oozes from songs like "Is There A Ghost?", "The Funeral", and (especially) "No One's Gonna Love You". All three of those songs seem to meld Velvet Underground-ish experimentation with "Pet Sounds"-era Beach Boys harmonies. "Laredo" is, well, a little different. It almost sounds like they're trying to be the indie rock version of Creedence Clearwater Revival in this song, so it's definitely not as good as the other three Band of Horses songs I know of. However, though the music might have changed a bit, the harmonies are still the same. Those harmonies just always tug at the heartstrings for me! And plus, BOH could be going for something worse than a CCR vibe (since there are plenty of things that are much worse than Creedence Clearwater Revival, who are a good band, but just not one that I would picture Band of Horses going after stylistically - and no, the lead singer of BOH does NOT sound a THING like John Fogerty on this track - I was referring specifically to the musical style here). Perhaps the other thing worth note about "Laredo" is that it still manages to get in an arpeggiated folk-rock-y guitar pattern a la The Byrds' "My Back Pages", which, it seems, is a surefire way to make a song likable in the indie rock world.

"Plundered My Soul" by The Rolling Stones - Those who are "true fans" of The Stones know that despite the "bad boy" image they cultivated throughout the '60s and '70s that they do have a softer side, be it the bittersweet folk-rock of "Angie" and "Wild Horses", or the heartfelt smooth R & B of "Time Waits For No One" and "Fool to Cry". The Stones continue to show their softer side (well, kind of) on "Plundered My Soul". Musically, it combines country, blues, and R & B like only The Stones can, making it seem like the one track they decided to leave off of "Exile On Main Street". Lyrically, however, "Plundered My Soul" is more along the lines of the sarcastic, cheeky mock-country of "Dead Flowers" than it is the sincere, soulful pop of "Waiting On A Friend" (particularly in the chorus, when Mick says "I f**ed your women for money, but you plundered my soul" - not exactly what I'd call "sincere"). Whether you like the harder or softer side of The Stones more, this should appeal to you if you're a fan of theirs even a little bit.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New songs for Apr. 14th, 2010

Here they are!!

"Burning the Bowery" by Jesse Malin: Seems like "going electric" has become somewhat a trend among indie-folk-rock artists, particularly those inspired by the one who started it all (a.k.a. Bob Dylan). My Morning Jacket and Ryan Adams have already done so, and Jesse Malin and his band, The St. Marks Social, are the latest to jump on to this bandwagon. It sounds a little like My Morning Jacket's "I'm Amazed", which seemed like their big "going electric" breakthrough, and probably the hardest-rocking MMJ song that I know of. "Burning the Bowery", similarly, has ended up being the hardest-rocking Jesse Malin song I've known of (though perhaps that shouldn't be as surprising to me considering that Jesse got his start in the cleverly named punk band "D Generation"). This might not be the same Jesse Malin as the one in folk-rock-y songs like "Mona Lisa" and "Don't Let 'Em Take You Down", but it's a fun song to rock out to (and jam to) so check it out!

"Change of Time" by Josh Ritter: Unlike Jesse Malin, Josh Ritter has remained loyal to his acoustic roots, and perhaps even more so on this song than most of his other material. The first half of the song is entirely acoustic, and wistfully so, in the manner of the typical Nick Drake song (only slightly more optimistic). Despite the fact that an electric guitar gets added into the mix of instruments during the second half of the song, it still manages to sound like a pleasant, winsome song. Lyrically, "Change of Time" is also interesting, particularly in that in each of the song's three verses, Josh "has a dream" that he describes in great detail that ends up sounding adventurous, as though the listener is listening to a story more than he/she is listening to a song. This is the type of song I oughta write someday - a song that's compelling enough for listeners to get lost in both the music and the lyrics that tells a story!

"Spinning" by Malea McGuiness: Nobody seems to know who Malea McGuiness is so far (even me!!) After listening to "Spinning", however, I feel like people oughta know who Malea McGuiness is. She seems to be filling what has long been a void in adult alt. music (and alt. music in general). Malea takes after that class of female musicians who both rock out and have vocals and lyrics that are expressive enough to deliver poetry through their songs, ranging from Patti Smith, Liz Phair, Alanis Morissette, Chrissie Hynde, and everywhere in between (though Malea seems to add more "traditional" elements such as '70s-style organs in her music). Although musicians like Feist, Regina Spektor, and Joanna Newsom are excellent, charming, clever musicians, their music (for the most part, at least) is rather benign and gentle in comparison to people like Smith, Phair, Morissette, and Hynde. Malea McGuiness seems like she might just be next on the bandwagon of artists who seemed to have gone either missing, underrated, or changed in format (in the case of Phair and Morissette in particular) in the 2000's. Girl rockers might just finally be makin' a comeback - let's hear it for them!!

EXTRA BONUS FUN TIME!!! I almost forgot - since I reviewed The Black Keys' "Tighten Up" last week (or, rather, 2 weeks ago) and talked about its hilarious music video, I thought y'all might want a link to the here it is!!

Enjoy!! Oh and please feel free to comment on it! :)