Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New songs for Jan. 26th, 2011

here they are:

"Cry Cry Cry" by Nicole Atkins: Not too many people know Nicole Atkins, but it's high time they did, I think! She created a minor buzz on adult alt stations back in '08 with the somewhat Regina Spektor/Kate Nash sounding "Maybe Tonight", a danceable upbeat indie pop tune with wistful, benign feminine charm. I always suspected she'd be a "one hit wonder" on such stations, but apparently I was wrong! "Cry Cry Cry" is also making a buzz on the adult alt airwaves! It continues in the same path as "Maybe Tonight", but with a bit less of an emphasis on the danceable-ness. Think what it would sound like if Regina Spektor attempted to cover a Bonnie Raitt song, and you'll probably get a pretty good idea of what "Cry Cry Cry" sounds like!

"Pyro" by Kings of Leon: Like "Radioactive" before it, "Pyro" is also becoming a fast climber on the adult alt charts!! Unlike "Radioactive"'s rivetingly raving rocker type feel, "Pyro" is more of a plaintive, poetic piece of pop-rock. Though KOL have had slower songs before ("Revelry", for instance), none of their slower material was as popular as their faster, catchier tunes, so "Pyro" marks a first in KOL history! The beat of the song sounds remarkably similar to another poetic, introspective pop/rock song ("Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears), and even lyrically, "Pyro" is an achingly yearning ballad (for instance, in the chorus, "I won't ever be your cornerstone"). One more interesting thing to note, neither "Pyro" nor "Radioactive" used their titles anywhere within their lyrics - I guess KOL want to try to trick us as to what the titles of their latest songs are!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New songs for Jan. 19th, 2011

here they are:

"Ain't Good Enough For You" by Bruce Springsteen: If you're a fan of both the music from "Grease" AND Springsteen (I count myself among those fans), then this is the song for you! The youthful, energetic vibe of this song really recaptures not only the swingin' beat of many '50s rock songs, but also even lyrically in some parts (like the call-and-response "whoa-oh-ho-hoh"s and "little darlin'"s in the chorus!!) The masking of sexual frustration over a toe-tappin' rhythm make it seem all the more like a '50s rock song, as many songs in "Grease" were kinda like this (come to think of it, the whole MOVIE was, really). Here's to yet another sign of The Boss gettin' back to his roots!

"Give Me Something" by Scars On 45: There were a couple songs like this one last year, and two of them just happened to make my Top 20 of the year ("New Morning" by Alpha Rev and "Take Everything" by Greg Laswell). There's something about "romantic" sounding Britpop (i.e. Oasis, Travis, Snow Patrol, etc.) type material that I seem to like! Perhaps it's just so sincere and heartfelt that it just tugs at the ol' heartstrings. It doesn't always work, though (Alpha Rev's "Phoenix Burn", for instance, I found a bit dull for my tastes). So what makes "Give Me Something" work for me?! Perhaps the guitars sound a bit like a cross between Travis and Death Cab for Cutie in this song, both of whom I like, and it also sounds like Scars on 45's lead singer is more focused on delivering a positive message than focusing on trying to make a "hit".

"Mine Smell Like Honey" by R.E.M.: What, ANOTHER new R.E.M. song?!? But there was just one last month!! I'm a bit surprised this one's a hard-rockin' song, too, like their effort from last month, "Discoverer". Perhaps their album "Collapse Into Now" will be their new "Monster" (the one that featured "Bang And Blame" and "What's the Frequency Kenneth?") The brand of "hard rock" (or, more aptly, power pop) that R.E.M. use for this song is a bit more of a fast-paced Matthew Sweet/"edgier" Gin Blossoms type sound than it is the more straight-ahead classic rock influence of "Discoverer", though. R.E.M. seem to want to steer away from their more "sensitive" side with their latest two songs, and "Mine Smell Like Honey" makes that especially clear with its garbled lyrics (which Michael Stipe probably made sound that way on purpose!) Well, one thing is clear, though, R.E.M. are back and ready to rock out!!

"Pill" by Edie Brickell: Most people remember Edie for being a one-hit wonder for her vibrant, unique, almost Rickie Lee Jones-ish late '80s tune, "What I Am". Adult alt radio has focused on her work a little bit more, though. Some of such stations might also play her more depressing, somewhat Fleetwood Mac-ish "Circle", and in '05 a more pleasant sounding folk-pop-y song called "Rush Around" became a minor hit, too (I didn't like "Rush Around" that much, though). I've gotta say, though, I was pleasantly surprised when I heard "Pill", which evokes such indie songstresses as Neko Case and Beth Orton (almost reminds of some of Rickie Lee Jones' newer material). Perhaps wanting to fulfill more of an "indie" image, Brickell seems to almost deliver the chorus ("They've got a pill for that") in a somewhat deadpan, sarcastic sort of manner.

"Shell Games" by Bright Eyes: Conor Oberst and co continue to have their talent shine in this tune!! For awhile, they seemed to take a more Petty/Springsteen based "roots-rock" approach, but for their longtime "indie" fans, Bright Eyes are back!! "Shell Games" starts out with a melancholy piano, and then turns into a full-on indie tune with the pianos, synthesizers, and electric guitars dueling with each other! No this doesn't mean they've reached "arena rock" proportions, but they've added a bit more of an Arcade Fire/later Wilco/Phoenix type sound to their music this time. So THIS is probably why they're headlining Coachella's second day with Mumford and Sons and Arcade Fire. They're in that kind of company once again!

"That's Some Dream" by Good Old War: One of the shortest songs I've reviewed in awhile (about 2 and a half minutes), but still worth listening to. GOW manage to squeeze in all the neo-folk-rock bliss they can within such a short amount of time, so much so that the entire SONG feels like "some dream". It's also interesting to note that the title is only mentioned at the very end of the song (perhaps to evoke the feel that this song goes by faster than expected, like a dream). I made a comparison of Good Old War to Simon and Garfunkel the last time I reviewed them ("My Own Sinking Ship" - July '10), and it seems even MORE apt on this one, with the "lie-lie-lie, la-la-lie"s in the chorus, perhaps borrowed straight from "The Boxer".

"This Is Why We Fight" by The Decemberists: For the original generation of folk-rockers not satisfied with the more emotionally centered topics of the "neo-folk-rock" boom of indie musicians, it might help to know that Colin Meloy and his unusually large band are not afraid to address political issues like Woody and Arlo Guthrie's songs, "Eve of Destruction, Neil Young's songs, and the early Bob Dylan tunes did. The title alone seems to indicate grim, war-related subject matter, and indeed it does. This is not the first time The Decemberists have addressed political topics, though, as "16 Military Wives" was a critical attack on news programs and the American political system in general, and The Decemberists even made a guest appearance on "The Colbert Report" at one time! The bluegrass-meets-folk-rock type sound of this song might bring to mind acts like Mumford and Sons and The Avett Brothers, though The Decemberists might evoke the latter a bit more on this song with its harmonica solos.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

First blog of the new year!!!

And it's eclectic as ever!! Neo-folk-rockers Iron & Wine, a classic rock comeback from Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers Band, and blues-rock/neo-soul group JJ Grey and Mofro. Here goes!!

"Hide And Seek" by JJ Grey and Mofro: JJ Grey and Mofro are one of those self-consciously "retro" acts, but the last two tracks I heard from them ("Orange Blossoms" and "The Sweetest Thing") seemed to evoke mid '60s soul with a touch of blues guitar. "Hide And Seek" progresses forward another decade to the '70s with its funk influences. Perhaps the highlight of this song is the keyboard (?) solo in the middle, this side of "Superfreak"! All in all, this is a sleek, funky track to start out the new year!

"Just Another Rider" by Gregg Allman: For those expecting another "Whipping Post", you'll probably be let down. However, this isn't the mellow-ish country-rock Gregg Allman of "Melissa" and "Blue Sky" fame, either. Instead this is more of a jazzy, soul-inflected tune with blues/rock guitar solos in between. This song would probably be perfect to those who like blues with a jazzy flavor (or vice versa), with its minor chord chorus, and its blues-y sounding lyrics ("just another rider on the train to nowhere"). Never would have expected one of The Allman Brothers to come out with one of the first good tracks of the new year, but I guess that means 2011 will have some good stuff up ahead!

"Tree By the River" by Iron & Wine: When I heard earlier on that IAW were going to be "going electric", I expected to hear influences a la Neil Young's "Down By the River". Thankfully, Sam Beam and co have kept the mellow in their music, despite the absence of (fronting) acoustic guitars in "Tree By the River". "Tree" evokes the more calming side of the "psychedelic" era (think early Moody Blues, "Pet Sounds" era Beach Boys, etc.) This being IAW, as well as a fine piece of "neo-folk-rock", "Tree By the River" is probably my fave release so far of the new year!