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.