Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New songs for Aug. 25th, 2010

here they are!

"In Sleep" by Lissie: Having a name like "Lissie" is enough to make one think that there's something unique and kinda cool about her. And there is! Her first breakthrough song, "In Sleep", she almost effortlessly combines country, folk, straight-ahead rock, and slight traces of neo-psychedelia into one song! Altogether, it sounds like an indie rock Fleetwood Mac (the guitar solo at the end reminds me a little of "Go Your Own Way", only it's about a minute and a half longer!) Lissie's cynically smoky vocals make me think that fans of Jenny Lewis (also on this week's blog), Neko Case, and other Stevie Nicks-influenced indie females would really like this song (and artist)!

"Modern Man" by Arcade Fire: As if having Eric Clapton on this week's list and countless other classic rock musicians making their big "comebacks" in 2010 wasn't enough, Arcade Fire's latest pretty much steals the main chord structure of A major and F sharp minor of John Mellencamp's "Hand to Hold On To". Arcade Fire must be making their classic rock influences want to shine out more in their latest material (as I also compared "Ready to Start" to Golden Earring's "Radar Love" as if covered by The Cure). Though "Modern Man" has enough "alternative" instrumentation to avoid being completely mistaken for Mellencamp, I can't help but notice a similarity between the two songs! Another interesting thing is that it seems like Arcade Fire are releasing singles on a MONTHLY basis off their latest album (June - "The Suburbs, July - "Ready to Start", and August - "Modern Man"). One can only wonder what Win Butler and co. have waiting for us in store in September and if it, too, is classic rock influenced!

"Run Back to Your Side" by Eric Clapton: There's an old joke that goes like, "What do Eric Clapton and coffee have in common? They both suck without the 'Cream'". While I don't entirely agree with that statement, I can certainly see why one would think such a thing - ever since Clapton's solo career took flight, he seems to have gotten "softer". In the '00s, he was a bit unpredictable. While it seemed like he wanted his blues-y side back then more than any other decade, he went about it rather strangely. "Revolution" (not to be confused with the Beatles song of the same name) was his take on reggae, he let his inner soul man shine with a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground", and his "Ride the River" with fellow blues-rocker J.J. Cale, seemed more like blues-folk than blues-rock. Thankfully, Clapton's inner blues man has finally been set free once again on "Run Back to Your Side". While it lacks the heavy intensity of Cream, it is certainly more rock-and-roll friendly than most of what he has put out in the past 20 or so years, so much so that if it weren't for Clapton's unmistakable vocals, this might be mistaken for a long lost Allman Brothers track!

"Scissor Runner" by Jenny and Johnny: I love this song already!! For one thing, Jenny Lewis from Rilo Kiley is in it! (along with fellow indie musician Jonathan Rice, a.k.a. "Johnny" in this side project/band) For another, I love the neo-psychedelic, melodic, folk-rock-y feel of this song! It almost hearkens back to the days of early R.E.M., Yo La Tengo, and the "mellower" side of bands like The Velvet Underground and Pavement. It's really bouncy and just plain fun, too! Favorite line in the song so far? "She ain't a princess/But she's an artist/Painting a portrait/All over my heart". Now THERE's the kind of girl I'd like to meet someday!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

rhyme time!!

This week's songs? "From Above" and "Rhythm of Love" - kinda funny how the titles rhyme (hence the title of this week's post) - so here goes!!

"From Above" by Ben Folds: Ben might have been a one-hit wonder on the Top 40 charts with "Brick" back in the mid-'90s, but on adult alt. stations, he's been played plenty of times since! Perhaps it's that irresistibly snarky combination of Elton John style melody with Elvis Costello style cynicism that makes him so likable on such stations. "From Above" is MUCH more Elvis Costello than it is Elton John, though. It sounds like a very upbeat new wave song, with a rhythm that's been used in many rock songs through the ages, from The Doors "Touch Me" to Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?" The lyrics are more Costello-esque as well, telling the story of a love affair gone wrong, with Ben giving his opinion on the situation during the chorus ("It's so easy from above/You can't really see it all" - basically Ben's commentary about how relationships aren't as easy as they seem). Leave it to Ben Folds to continue to expand his horizons, both musically and lyrically!

"Rhythm of Love" by Plain White T's: This is probably going to end up being the "guilty pleasure" song of the summer for me! This song is so catchy and almost kid-friendly in a way, that it's no wonder The T's turned their biggest hit, the bittersweet "Hey There Delilah" into a "Sesame Street" song about the letter "T". Pretty much all of their hit songs after that one ("1, 2, 3, 4" among them, not to be confused with the Feist song of the same name) seem like they wouldn't be too out of place on the "For the Kids" compilations, which feature contemporary folk-pop/rock and alt/indie musicians doing children's songs, quite a few of which happen to be from "Sesame Street". "Rhythm of Love" kind of sounds a little like Jason Mraz, whom I typically can't stand, but somehow the T's have managed to make me smile with their latest little ditty! Perhaps it's because they're one of the few bands in the alt-rock universe that come off so...ummm...cute, for lack of a better term. Whether bittersweet like "Delilah", or catchy like "Rhythm of Love", their songs are still "cute" to me. And perhaps that's not such a bad thing!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

new songs for Aug. 11th, 2010

here they are!

"Always" by Junip: Nick Drake and Damien Rice fans rejoice! Singer-songwriter extraordinaire José Gonzalez has a new band!! José has always had a knack for turning electro-pop tunes into heartbreaking folk-rock songs, such as The Knife's "Heartbeats", Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart", and Massive Attack's "Teardrop" (and in return, bands like Zero 7 have covered some of his own tunes, like "Crosses"). "Always" sounds like an attempt to mix José's signature neo-folk-rock sound with the electronic(a) acts he frequently seems to cover, with its mixture of acoustic guitars and its synthesizers backing it up. It's also the first José tune I've known to have a rhythm section (though perhaps I should have expected that, after all it is his BAND, not José by himself). Despite the newly added instruments, "Always" still manages to be as charmingly soothing as the typical José Gonzalez song!

"Dog Days Are Over" by Florence and The Machine: A bit of a late entry, considering this has been out since early 2010, but some major adult alt. stations, such as Sirius XM's the Spectrum and WRNR, have JUST started playing this, so I thought I'd review it now. Having just listened to this song, I get the impression that female indie-popsters like Cat Power and Feist might be accurate comparisons. "Dog Days" actually seems like the perfect candidate for some of the increasing amount of car commercials that feature indie songs (Phoenix's "1901" and Airborne Toxic Event's "Wishing Well", to name a few), because of its bright, bouncy melody and clap-along chorus. The mandolin-like instrument that seems to function as the central instrument of the song only adds to the cutesy-ness of it. With all that being said, Florence and The Machine have officially won my heart over with this song!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I like that old time rock and roll...

No, Bob Seger did not release a new record this week, and nor am I in the mood to imitate the infamous dance scene from "Risky Business". I titled my latest entry "I like that old time rock and roll" because all three of the acts I'm reviewing this week are classic rock bands. So here goes!

"Angel Dance" by Robert Plant: It's funny that this song is a Los Lobos cover, and that Los Lobos just happen to be next in line for my reviews this week! Anyway, this song seems to be a joyous celebration of the Led Zeppelin frontman's inner folkie, which he seemed to bring out in his music quite frequently in the 2000's more than any other decade. Of course, Zeppelin have experimented with folk-rock ever since their debut, though it probably became more evident to fans of the band about a year later when they released their third album (which included "Gallows Pole", "That's the Way", and "Tangerine"). Unlike the bittersweet melancholia of "That's the Way" and "Tangerine", "Angel Dance" is a more upbeat, high-spirited romp (it's no wonder he called his backing group "Band of Joy" this time!!) Perhaps "Angel Dance" is not as memorable as the typical Zeppelin song, but it's still worth checking out!

"Burn It Down" by Los Lobos: With the "fiery" title of this song, I was expecting to hear the rockier, Santana-ish side of Los Lobos this time (as in "Mas Y Mas" and "The Road to Gila Bend"), but "Burn It Down" is, instead, a laid-back, mellow, folk-rock-y song. Perhaps the title doesn't always have to fit the song, though, as "Burn It Down" is a pretty decent song that seems like it would be most ideal to listen to sometime in the fall (more specifically, November) watching the leaves fall down from the trees. Perhaps the "autumnal" nature of this song threw me for a loop, too, as it has both a fire-related title AND it was released in August, typically the hottest time of the year for me!

"Nobody" by The Doobie Brothers: Much like the R.E.M. song I reviewed a couple weeks back, this song is also an oldie but a goodie that saw its release date later than expected...well, kind of. It was actually included on The Doobies' debut back in 1971, but no one really knew who they were back then. Many fans of The Doobies are familiar with the classic rock/adult contemporary standard "Black Water", and "Nobody" is kinda like that, only a bit faster. Both songs have that laid-back folk-rock-y feel to them, though in my opinion, "Nobody" is a bit better for its unique but catchy sound. It's pretty surprising to me that this song didn't get airplay during its initial release, but I guess the world wasn't ready for The Doobies back in '71, though it only took a year later until The Doobies and other classic rock/adult contemporary faves with a distinctly mellow California sound (i.e. The Eagles, Jackson Browne, etc.) made their "official" debut.