Wednesday, March 23, 2011

new songs for March 23rd, 2011

here they are:

"Longing to Belong" by Eddie Vedder: This song suggests Pearl Jam's leading man longing to the "Into the Wild" soundtrack again. The same mix of acoustic guitar, ukulele, and bittersweet heart-melting emotional quality he used on such gems from the smash indie flick's soundtrack like "Rise" and "Guaranteed" are once again present on "Longing to Belong". It is less than three minutes long, though, unlike most (if not all) of the songs on the soundtrack, but somehow Eddie has managed to wrap all of his wistfully tearful thoughts into roughly two and a half minutes of pure bliss in this tune! As refreshing as it was to hear Eddie rock out with Pearl Jam on songs like "The Fixer" and "Amongst the Waves" two years ago, it's also nice to hear him at his more somber, precious moments as well.

"Lost In My Mind" by The Head and The Heart: This one is a very pleasant, wistful indie-folk tune, sounding like a cross between the autumnal folk-rock of Good Old War and the more rootsy variety from that of bands like The Avett Brothers. A real heart melter, just like the one I mentioned above (though so far, I like this one better). "Lost In My Mind" is a very apt title for a song that evokes nostalgic images of taking a road trip during the fall season with orange-gold leaves falling from the trees and an orange-y sunset sky in the background. The combination of being written in a major key, yet still retaining a somber mood, somehow makes this song a surefire winner for me!

"Rope" by Foo Fighters: I was gonna hold off on reviewing this one, it's been circulating on adult alt stations for awhile now, despite its resemblance to "harder" acts, mostly '70s classic rock/progressive rock like Queen, Rush, Yes, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and The Who. I was pretty shocked, though, when I found out Music Choice Adult Alternative, which I often have considered to be one of the most accurate representations of the (sub)genre, started playing this!! Therefore, I'm gonna give this one a go. "Rope" starts off benign enough with its unique chords played on echo-y distortion, but once the drums start kicking in, the song becomes faster and harder, and starts spouting off guitar riffs vaguely similar to songs like Yes' "Roundabout" and Rush's "The Spirit of Radio". The chorus is also a bit shaky, with Dave Grohl's somewhat frantic, desperate delivery of "Gimme some rope I'm fallin' dooowwwwnnnnn!!!!" A good song, but a bit rough for stations that are more known for playing more melodic, balanced acts like U2, R.E.M., and Counting Crows. Oh well, I guess different doesn't hurt once in a while!!

"Uberlin" by R.E.M.: For the legendary alt-rock band's third major song from "Collapse Into Now", they've calmed down a bit, but still retained their cleverness. The title alone, "Uberlin", is actually a pun, combining the phrase "Uber" (meaning "very") and the German capital, Berlin. Perhaps what makes this song so appealing, though, is not necessarily the song itself as much as a video for the song I recently discovered in which the lyrics are written out as though they are on a map, moving from place to place as they are written out. Since the lyrics of the song largely center around traveling, it's quite fitting as a "music video" (if indeed it is one).

"Velcro" by Bell X1: Until their big breakthrough with the Talking Heads soundalike song, "The Great Defector", Bell X1 were primarily an Irish folk-rock act. Ever since then, it seems as though they've tried to tweak their sound into sounding more like Modest Mouse than Damien Rice. "The Great Defector" was, in my opinion, one of the best songs of 2009, because it was just so...different!! And Bell X1's lead singer did an excellent David Byrne imitation (whether he intended it or not)!! So how does "Velcro" compare?! It's got the same new wave-y sound as "The Great Defector", but somehow it just isn't the same! Perhaps the saving grace for "Velcro" is in its quirky lyrics, from the chorus ("I'll be your velcro"), to random bits in the verses (for instance, "Watching a 6-year-old on YouTube playing drums to 'Billie Jean'", somebody tell me what THAT's supposed to mean!!) Heck, even the TITLE is quirky (how many other songs do you know called "Velcro", or that even USE that word for that matter?!)

"Werewolves" by The Damnwells: No, this is not a cover of the late, great Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London", and it doesn't sound like the song either. It's a song simply called "Werewolves". This song is another one of those somber, autumnal, somewhat wistful/nostalgic sounding songs (see also the first two songs I reviewed in this week's blog). I seem to fall instant prey to these kinds of songs. I have only heard one other song by The Damnwells, the uber-melodic, somewhat Fleetwood Mac-ish "Golden Days", which was another song I just loved instantly! "Golden Days" had better harmony techniques than "Werewolves" does, though. But that by no means disqualifies "Werewolves" from becoming another instant classic for me, though. The Damnwells are melodic indie/neo-folk-rock geniuses, 'nuff said!

"You've Got the Love" by Florence and The Machine: The seven words Sting became famous for singing almost 30 years ago ("every little thing she does is magic") would most certainly describe the cute, redheaded Florence Welch from Florence and The Machine! "Dog Days Are Over" became the surprise smash hit of the summer/fall of 2010, and it looks like "You've Got the Love" is going to end up being the song following in its footsteps. Once again, Florence has used her eclectic musical palette to combine indie/alternative rock, pop, and soul to create an irresistibly catchy, danceable number on "You've Got the Love", which actually wasn't her song originally, but she seems to have made it her own! The video is also pretty awesome, with our ginger haired leading lady singing on a plastic moon in a silky golden outfit! Lookin' forward to knowing what she'll churn out next!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New songs for March 16th, 2011

here they are:

"Colors" by April Smith and The Great Picture Show: After having heard this song and April's previous hit, "Terrible Things", it's becoming increasingly clear to me that April Smith and The Great Picture Show have a knack for catchy, somewhat bubbly indie-pop tunes! Adding to the already peppy, colorful (no pun intended) flavor of this song is what I think is the best part of the song in the middle, a KAZOO solo!! I can't say I know too many songs, even among indie bands/musicians, that even USE that instrument!! Though "Colors" and "Terrible Things" both have that "deceptively cute" vibe about them, there are some definite differences between the two songs. Where "Terrible Things" was suggestive, slinky, and sexy, "Colors" is more bubbly, blissful, and buoyant! Looking forward to whatever irresistibly catchy indie-pop tune April rolls out next!

"Rock 'N' Roll Is Free" by Ben Harper: Rock 'n' roll...well, it's many different things to many different people. To Lenny Kravitz, it's "Dead" (or so he sang back in '95, come on, Lenny, we know you don't REALLY feel that way about rock 'n' roll!), to Electric Light Orchestra, it's "King", and to AC/DC, it (ain't) "Noise Pollution". Now, Ben Harper has come to state what he feels rock 'n' roll is - "free"! Though Ben has really only delved into rock music for the past two years of his nearly decade long career, he's done remarkably well at it, and even has a backup group, The Relentless 7, whenever he decides to perform rock songs/albums. I thought The Relentless 7 would just be an album-long project for Ben Harper, but he has since extended it into 2011, and rocks just as hard and convincingly as he did with them two years ago! "Rock 'N' Roll Is Free" has a steady enough rhythm and melodic enough vocals to be considered "mellow", yet it also has enough grit in both the guitar's sound and riffs to be considered "hard". It's hard to believe Ben has revealed his true musical genius just within the past two or three years, but I'm SO glad he is, and I hope he continues to do so!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

new songs for March 9th, 2011

here they are:

"Sad Song" by The Cars: ANOTHER new Cars song?!? But "Blue Tip" has only been on the Adult Alt charts (and now the "mainstream rock" charts) for a week!! If "Blue Tip" was one of those "crash and burn" songs for Adult Alt radio, that's too bad because I kind of prefer it to "Sad Song". "Sad Song" is not a bad song though ("sad song", "bad song", I'm a poet and I didn't even know it!!) However, instead of taking a nod to the bands who have been influenced by The Cars, "Sad Song" has a more "retro" feel like the typical '70s/'80s rock song, as it seems to borrow elements of songs from both decades. The intro recalls T. Rex's "Bang A Gong (Get It On)", much like The Cars' 1979 song "Dangerous Type", and the verses sound a lot like '80s arena rocker Billy Squier's song "Everybody Wants You". Though there are no crazy guitar solos on "Sad Song" I feel like there SHOULD be one, as it sounds a lot like a song from one of The Cars' first two records. Conclusion?! "Sad Song" is NOT a "sad song"!! And I think that is a good thing!

"Who Have You Been Loving?" by Bobby Long: From the tradition of Dylan/Neil Young/Springsteen influenced indie singer/songwriters such as Ryan Adams, Conor Oberst, and Jesse Malin comes Bobby Long, a man whom, oddly enough, got his start of recognition as being a friend of "Twilight" movie actor Robert Pattinson. Being a friend of someone like that one might be tempted to assume that Bobby Long is an "emo" artist of some sort, but such people could not be more wrong!! "Who Have You Been Loving" reminds me of a lot of Neil Young's material, particularly his CSN & Y song "Almost Cut My Hair", and Neil Young solo tune "Like A Hurricane", in that it mixes gritty guitar riffs/sounds with raw, honest emotions and lyrics. Looking forward to hearing more of Long's material, actually, as I have heard one other song by him, "A Winter's Tale", that I actually think is even better!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

new songs for March 2nd, 2011

here they are:

"Blue Tip" by The Cars: It's been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Over their 25 year absence from the music world, the indie scene has been filled with bands imitating The Cars sound, such as Phoenix, Hockey, and The Killers. For legendary new wave pioneers The Cars, it seems as though they have turned the tables and have imitated their imitators for their latest tune, "Blue Tip". It is a catchy mix of electric guitars and synths jamming in perfect synchronicity with each other. Don't expect the chunky guitar riffs from "Just What I Needed", "My Best Friend's Girl", etc. on "Blue Tip", though, as it really is more of an indie song than a "classic rock revival" type song. Truly a fresh song in comparison to most bands/artists who have churned out newer material that still get heavy airplay on classic rock stations! I have only three words to say to Ric Ocasek and company, "welcome back, guys!"

"L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N." by Noah and The Whale: Perhaps the catchy, clever, quirky ten-syllable title of this song oughta be changed to "R.I.P.O.F.F. of Classic Rock", as it simultaneously recalls The Steve Miller Band's "The Joker", The Kinks' "Lola", and Tom Petty's "Don't Come Around Here No More"! Even the TITLE recalls one of John Mellencamp's most popular songs (the chorus of "Jack And Diane", in which Mellencamp sings, "Oh yeah, LIFE GOES ON, long after the thrill of livin' is gone"). For an indie band (much less one whose material is supposedly inspired by '60s folk-rock bands), Noah and The Whale are probably going to receive as much criticism as they will praise if this is their first big "hit" (which it looks like it will be, for better or worse). Though "L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N." pretty much steals from many of the songs I liked as a teen, there is still something I like about it, perhaps most of all its funny title. It's a catchy song, too, though.

"Long Time" by Cake: This song is unique for a Cake song. Typically, their songs are either in major key, or in E minor if they choose to perform one of their songs in a minor key. "Long Time", however, is an A minor song, which gives it more of a yearning feeling than most of the "goofball rock" Cake have done. Perhaps it's not the first time Cake have shown a more sentimental side (see also "Let Me Go"), but it has a fresher feel than most of their songs. Perhaps the somewhat synthesized "bah, bah-da-bah, bah-da-bah, bah-da-bah" backing vocals also add a fun flavor to this song. The riff in the song in which the trumpet and guitar play the same (or similar?) notes sounds a little like the one in The Fixx's "Saved By Zero", but that's the only complaint I have about this song so far. It's a darn good one, I think!