Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's my first Blog-i-versary!!! (kind of)

I first started this blog on February 11th of last year (but that's not a Wednesday), so today I'm celebrating my first blog-i-versary!!! With 8 cool new tracks to review, too! So here they are:

"Helplessness Blues" by Fleet Foxes: I love how nostalgic and simply beautiful Fleet Foxes' music sounds. "White Winter Hymnal" has a very dreamy sound, and "Mykonos" has remarkably similar chord structure to The Mamas and Papas' "California Dreamin'", another personal fave of mine. That being said, I was pretty excited to hear Fleet Foxes released a new track this year!! "Helplessness Blues", once again, evokes the same dreamy, nostalgic qualities that most of their songs tend to. It almost sounds like it uses the same tuning as Joni Mitchell's "You Turn Me On I'm A Radio", and the mood of the song even seems somewhat Joni-like (and Dylanesque). Fleet Foxes have once again managed to win my heart over, and I hope they continue to do so!!

"Let the Light In" by Bob Schneider: Bob Schneider has been around for longer on the music scene than most people probably think he has been (since around 2003). It wasn't until 2009, though, that he started getting attention with songs like the marvelous, enchanting indie-pop/adult alt fave "40 Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet)" and the more subdued, somewhat Dave Matthews-ish "The Bringdown". I guess adult alt radio liked Schneider enough that they've decided to give him another chance. "Let the Light In", amazingly, lives up to its title. It's not bittersweet like "40 Dogs" or melancholy like "The Bringdown", but instead is a rather happy song, with sunny synths and exciting xylophones to set the mood! I wasn't sure whether to expect indie-pop or folk-pop with "Let the Light In", as Schneider has been known to do both, but this song meets somewhere in between, and I think I like that!

"Me Me Me" by Middle Brother: Imagine what it would be like if alumni from three somewhat roots-y indie rock groups (Delta Spirit, Deer Tick, and Dawes) formed into one supergroup and somehow landed a guest spot on "Happy Days". What would that be like?!? Well, wonder no more, for Middle Brother is a supergroup comprised of members of all three of the bands I just mentioned, and their first big hit (among the indie/adult alt crowds), "Me Me Me", sounds more like a song you'd expect to hear from Elvis Presley or Jerry Lee Lewis (albeit with a "fuzz" guitar solo in the middle) than you would from three bands who typically bear more similarity to acts like Bright Eyes, Wilco, and My Morning Jacket. It's a darn catchy tune that I would definitely like to hear more of for at least the late winter/Spring season!! Between the rockin' boogie vibe of this song and the Joni Mitchell-esque folk-rock of "Helplessness Blues" I can't decide which is my fave pick of the week!!

"Poison And Wine" by The Civil Wars: A bit of a late review here, but please bear with me. This song could easily be called "Falling Slowly - redux". It's a melancholy folk-rock tune that features a duet between a guy and a girl (though unlike Glen and Marketa, of "Falling Slowly" fame, I don't think The Civil Wars are Irish). "Poison and Wine" definitely seems like it was intended to be a tearjerker, yet I only get that emotion from the song about halfway. I guess "Falling Slowly" had such an authentically emotional grip on me that I didn't expect any song or band to try and copy it, yet lo and behold, The Civil Wars' "Poison and Wine" shows up about four years later! Perhaps I shouldn't care too much if one song is copying (intentionally or not) another, as I do typically love songs like "Poison and Wine"!

"The Roller" by Beady Eye: Hmmmm....who's "Beady Eye"?!? This sounds more like an Oasis tune. That's because, technically, this IS an Oasis tune. Beady Eye is the side project of one of the Gallagher brothers (though I forget which one at the moment), and "The Roller" really doesn't sound too different at all from the typical Oasis song. Oasis are one of my fave bands, though, so no problem here! The jaunty, toe-tapping feel of "The Roller" also helps to give it a little bit of flavor and distinction from most Oasis tunes (besides "Lyla" which had practically the same rhythm).

"Too Dramatic" by Ra Ra Riot: Ra Ra Riot's follow-up to "Boy" sounds like...well..."Boy". But it's still worth reviewing because it's a tune that's been catchy enough to get stuck in my head! And plus you gotta love a band who combines the reggae-tinged new wave sound of The Police with the "orchestral rock" vibes of groups like Arcade Fire! Perhaps one advantage "Too Dramatic" has over "Boy" is that the guitar seems to be used throughout the song (though "Boy" had a much more distinct guitar solo), and, since I play guitar, this does make a difference for me.

"When I'm Alone" by Lissie: Between this song and Lissie's previous hit, "In Sleep", I'm pretty convinced that Lissie is on her way to becoming the indie world's answer to Alanis Morissette! Both songs manage to combine a pop-y melody with minor key chords and world-weary, frustrated lyrics. "When I'm Alone" is a bit more of an intense tune than "In Sleep", though, I think, not only because of its more frenzied rhythm, but also because of the rushed way she delivers the lyrics in the verses, almost as though out of desperation. "When I'm Alone" uses a rhythmic technique that isn't really that common in pop/rock music these days, and the way Lissie manages to keep steady vocal patterns in the chorus over its frenetic instrumentation makes it all the more worth listening to!

"World Gone Crazy" by The Doobie Brothers: Back in the summer of last year, an updated version of The Doobies' 1972 song "Nobody" started (surprisingly) hitting the adult alt airwaves and (even MORE surprisingly) hit the Top 20 of the adult alt charts somewhere around mid-fall of last year. What made "Nobody" such a cool song was that it sounded like a vintage Doobie Brothers tune (the kind you'd be likely to hear on a classic rock station, not the Michael McDonald era Doobies). "World Gone Crazy" doesn't quite have the same vibe. It sounds a bit more like an updated version of an Eagles song (only more sax heavy). It does have two saving graces, though. First off, it's a catchy tune (I can't say that about too many of the Michael McDonald songs, save for possibly "Takin' It to the Streets"), but the best part is that the lead vocalist was the one who sang on all the pre-McDonald tracks (I forget his name, but I like him MUCH better than McDonald).