here they are:
"Barton Hollow" by The Civil Wars: For those expecting a melancholy, sentimental tune from these guys, like "Poison and Wine" was, please don't! "Barton Hollow" is a bluegrass-y song like most of The Civil Wars' material, but it's also a very gritty, juicy sort of tune. Its drop D tuning seems to somehow suit it perfectly, as do the blues-y sounding lyrics (i.e. "I'm a dead man walking", and "Can't no preacher man save my soul?") Acoustic blues are alive and well thanks to The Civil Wars, and quite rightfully so!
"Grown Ocean" by Fleet Foxes: Not quite the straight up folk-rock of the exquisite, poignant title track to "Helplessness Blues", but like pretty much every Fleet Foxes track I've had the pleasure of hearing so far, it's still a great song! Think of what it would be like if Simon and Garfunkel attempted to do a song from "Pet Sounds". One of the absolute best things about Fleet Foxes' songs is that they always manage to get me in a nostalgic, reflective sort of mood! "Grown Ocean" is no exception to this, in fact upon hearing the song initially, I felt like I was in a really pleasant dream! I would LOVE for Robin Peckold and co to release more material like this, it would really make me happy!!
"Holdin' On to Black Metal" by My Morning Jacket: It appears as though this song is both the most popular AND the most bizarre of all the songs I'm reviewing this week!! For a band who started out doing Neil Young-esque folk-rock material like "Golden", MMJ have sure come a long way, diversifying their musical pallet into reggae-tinged rock ("Off the Record"), barn-burnin' Stones-y hard rock ("I'm Amazed"), '70s soul influenced music ("Thank You Too!"), and progressive rock (both parts of "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream"). "Holdin' On to Black Metal" puts MMJ right up there with best eclectic, quirky indie groups and musicians like The White Stripes, Wilco, and Beck! I wouldn't know how to describe what "genre" it's trying to go after, as it seems to be a combination of many (I have jokingly described it as "psychedelic-folk-gospel-punk-soul", and other silly sounding, but somewhat accurate descriptions). It starts with a vaguely "psychedelic" guitar, but then horns that sound like they'd be more at home in an Otis Redding song start to kick in, and a chorus of CHILDREN (of all things) echo the words "black metal" after lead singer Jim James sings it in the chorus! The "black metal" in question (mentioned in the title and chorus) is a musical genre (also known as "death metal"), and not ACTUAL dark metallic material, which only makes the song even MORE bizarre than it already is! This is by far the weirdest song I've heard so far from MMJ...and I couldn't be happier!!!
"Time Spent In Los Angeles" by Dawes: SoCal's roots-y indie rockers, perhaps best known for their late 2009/early 2010 adult alt radio hit, "When My Time Comes", are back for more! Nothing says "I love L.A." like both singing about it AND being praised by L.A.'s own '70s rock musician Jackson Browne! For a city that spawned 1000 "soft rock" musicians (among them Browne, as well as The Eagles), "Time Spent In Los Angeles" has an aptly laid back kind of mood, evoking something between the organ driven folk-rock approach of The Wallflowers and the "alt-country" vibe of groups like The Avett Brothers. Having grown up in L.A. myself, it's actually a rather frantic, fast-paced city from what I've come to know, but musically, this song does a great job of capturing the more mellow side of L.A.!
"Two Against One" by Danger Mouse (featuring Jack White from The White Stripes): The title of this song couldn't be more apt! Well the "two" part, anyway, as Danger Mouse and Jack White are both masters of creating eclectic musical catalogs for themselves! The "against one"...the media perhaps?! Well, who cares! This is still a great song! I especially dig how the acoustic guitar in the lead mingles with the syncopation of the electric guitar in the background, and how the minor key used throughout the song seems to build up to something suspenseful instead of something melancholy. Danger Mouse and Jack White have truly come up with a masterpiece here. Here's to hoping Jack and Meg will get back together soon and reconsider the "break-up" of their band!!