here they are:
"Changing" by The Airborne Toxic Event: It's funny that this song has been around since February of this year, yet it's taken adult alt stations until now to add this into their playlists. Well, better late than never. Or is it? "Changing" is not a bad song, but somehow something feels lacking in it in comparison to songs from their debut from three years ago like the Springsteen-esque "Wishing Well" and the U2-ish alt-rock epic "Sometime Around Midnight". "Changing" just seems more...well...ordinary. Even the chorus seems to suggest an ordinariness about it ("You always want to talk about changing, changing/Well guess what I am the same man, same man", a bad choice in rhyming, but the catchiness of the song, and perhaps the rest of it, compensates for this). "Changing" is an apt title for this song, but perhaps not for the better. At least it has a memorable hook, and for some reason I like it (perhaps because it's an Airborne Toxic Event song), so I would think that would count for something.
"In Every Direction" by Junip: Swedish indie-folk sensation Jose Gonzalez (yes, he IS Swedish, despite how his name sounds) continues to have success with a full band in this song. Like their previous "hit", "Always", "In Every Direction" is written in D minor. Despite its similarity to "Always", "In Every Direction" is distinguishable from that song because it is slower, and also Jose's backing band seems to have more importance in this song than they did in "Always", particularly the rather forceful, dynamic organ section. As an aside, I have no idea what this "magic feather" Jose keeps referring to in the song is, but it's probably the lyric in "In Every Direction" that stands out the most to me!
"Just Fine" by G. Love: After G. Love's previous success in the acoustic-blues-y, fiery "Fixin' to Die", my faith in his musical ability and talent have been somewhat renewed. "Just Fine" only continues to prove this, perhaps even more so, with its mellow but somewhat spicy sound, suggesting something between the "softer" material of The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Blues Traveler song "Hook". I especially like how "Just Fine" mixes acoustic and electric guitar sounds, only to come out with a gritty, sublime sound as a result. Despite the optimistic sounding title, "Just Fine" does seem to have somewhat angst-ridden lyrics, with the chorus hinting more at a "life sucks, but I'm doing just fine" kind of attitude than a "everything is just fine, and I like it" sort of vibe. For G. Love, who seemed to take a musical dive in 2008 with songs like the lightweight "Peace, Love, and Happiness" and his even MORE mellow-minus-the-substance song "Beautiful", which he did with folk-pop musician Tristan Prettyman, the angst of "Just Fine", combined with its juicy flavor, is a GOOD thing!
"Options" by Gomez: Is it just me, or have the members of Gomez suddenly taken such a liking to Spoon's "The Underdog" that they wanted to make their own version of it?! This is basically what "Options" sounds like, especially in the beginning of it. It is a song written in G major with a bouncy beat suggestive of Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young" - which is EXACTLY what "The Underdog" was! Gomez start to shake things up a bit as "Options" draws closer to the chorus, adding in chords that are sharp/flat chords instead of "regular" ones. As the chorus closes, they add a unique chord that even I had trouble figuring out. Aside from being a "copycat" song of "The Underdog", "Options" does have some things going for it. Like I mentioned before, the change in chord structure during the chorus is one thing, but for another, it shows just how eclectic Gomez truly are. How many other bands can simultaneously pull off having influences like Oasis ("Nothing Is Wrong"), your typical bluegrass song ("How We Operate"), folk-pop ("See the World"), a combination of blues and indie ("Hamoa Beach"), The Flaming Lips ("Airstream Driver"), and a folk-pop/indie combination ("Little Pieces")?! Not many that I can name off the top of my head, that's for sure!!
"Sorry" by The Smithereens: The SMITHEREENS?!? The SAME guys who had hits in the late '80s with catchy rock 'n' roll tunes like "A Girl Like You", "Only A Memory", and "Behind the Wall of Sleep"?!? Yep, that's right!! The SAME guys!! This is pretty unbelievable to me considering that its been about 20 years since these guys last had a hit, let alone released a record!! Perhaps their big comeback moment was worth the wait, though, as "Sorry" actually sounds even BETTER than the three songs I mentioned! It's a "Satisfaction"-esque rocker, with the tuning just a half-step down from that song, and, for a band who was already "retro" enough in the '80s, The Smithereens have somehow managed to sound even MORE "retro" on "Sorry"! The one question I have is this. "Sorry" for WHAT exactly?! That we didn't get to hear this song sooner?!? That's the only thing I can think of they should be "sorry" for, this song ROCKS!!
"You Are A Tourist" by Death Cab for Cutie: Wow!! It's pretty clear from how fast this song has been climbing the adult alt (and "regular" alt) charts that both sides of the alt-rock "spectrum" just can't get enough Death Cab!! And rightly so, considering how guitarist Chris Walla makes his transition from quiet indie/contemporary folk-rock guitarist to an almost The Edge (of U2 fame) -ish earnest but passionate and skilled rock guitarist! I've always suspected U2 were an influence on Death Cab, but never as much as they have been on "You Are A Tourist"! If this song does NOT end up being one of my Top 20 of 2011 come December 23rd, I'll be pretty shocked!!