Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New songs for June 22nd, 2011

here they are:

"Finally Begin" by Cold War Kids: This is a cool song, but I'm having a rather difficult time figuring out what (if anything) is so special about it. Many CWK songs seem to have some sort of distinguishing factor. For instance, "Louder Than Ever" was very dynamic (yet still melodic), and "Hang Me Up to Dry" had some catchy piano hooks. "Finally Begin" just seems to be more of the "U2-goes-indie" vibe that CWK have become known for. There really isn't much else to say about this song, but it is catchy, melodic, and was easy for me to get stuck in my head. Perhaps that's all a good CWK song needs, though!

"Fragile Bird" by The City and Colour: This song is a far cry from the only other City and Colour song I know, the largely acoustic, somewhat melancholy, but rhythmic "Sleeping Sickness". "Fragile Bird" shows a whole new side to the Canadian indie band, with its fuzzed out, "psychedelic" guitars, and pulsating rock 'n' roll beat! My fave part of this song so far is the chorus, which, strange as it may sound, suggests what it might have been like if The Velvet Underground covered The Police's "Wrapped Around Your Finger" (since both "Fragile Bird" and "Wrapped Around Your Finger" have a chorus consisting of a G chord followed by an F major 7 chord). The guitar solo here, short as it may be, is also pretty rad! Certainly not what I would have expected from The City and Colour, but a fantastic song nonetheless!!

"Mayhem" by Imelda May: Get ready for this description, folks - a female Brian Setzer!! WHAAA?!? That's right!! Imelda's pretty cute, too, with her black hair with yellowish "stripes" in between! "Mayhem" is such a catchy tune, and not one you'd normally get to hear in the 21st century! It's a rock 'n' roll song with jazz and swing influences that sounds as if it's being sung by a somewhat lower-voiced Gwen Stefani. It also makes me wanna dance more than almost any song I've heard within the past five years. I dunno about you, but I think right now, I'm gonna party like it's 1998 and put in some Squirrel Nut Zippers, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy records, 'cause those are the type of swingin' hepcat bands that "Mayhem" reminds me of!!

"Never Lookin' Back" by Kenny Wayne Shepherd: With all the various alumni of The Allman Brothers (Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, and Gregg Allman himself earlier in the year) and contemporary bluesman Keb' Mo' all releasing new stuff in 2011, and now this song, a gritty, Stones-y blues-rocker, I'm thinkin' 2011 must be the "blues-rock comeback" year!! Shepherd seems to have already built a pretty large fanbase among "classic rock" fans (despite the fact he debuted in the mid-'90s), but THIS song takes the cake as far as classic rock influenced songs are concerned! I hear The Rolling Stones, The Black Crowes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and ZZ Top ALL influencing the punchy, boogie feel of this song! "Never Lookin' Back", huh?! Sounds like you're LOOKIN' back, Kenny, but at least you're doing so in all the right directions!!

"Stand" by Lenny Kravitz: And speaking of contemporary musicians influenced by classic rock, who would embody that description more than Lenny Kravitz?!? The man has made a cliche of his own work within the past five or so years, with just about every song sounding like a faux-Stones/Zeppelin/Who type song! It was fun when he did this in the '90s, but after awhile his "classic rock revival" schtick started to get old. Thankfully, "Stand" is a much more refreshing song than that! Instead of taking on the more "commercial rock" approach The Rolling Stones started to go for in the late '70s/early '80s, "Stand" sounds more like Lenny's attempt at doing one of the "Sgt. Pepper" songs!! It's bright and optimistic, while still retaining a rock 'n' roll sound with its echo-y swirling guitars and sunshiny organs! It's about time Lenny broke free from his "commercial curse", and if he puts out any more material like "Stand", I'll be looking forward to it very much!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New songs for June 15th, 2011

here they are:

"Got It All (This Can't Be Living Now)" by Portugal. The Man: Thought maybe this was from the same album as their Fall 2010 hit, "People Say", but apparently this is on an album that hasn't been released yet! Guess the soul-meets-alternative vibes of "People Say" were THAT popular!! In "Got It All...", Portugal. The Man continue with the same brand of feel-good indie music they started off with. The falsetto vocals in the chorus seem like a distinguishing, important feature of this song, as they are not only part of what makes this song so fun for me to listen to, but also what could set it apart from being mistaken for a Modest Mouse or Vampire Weekend song.

"Me And Lazarus" by Iron & Wine: The "neo-psychedelic" vibes of this song seem to pick up where the more mellow, folk-y vibes of their previous hit (and their biggest, so far), "Tree By the River" left off. It has factors that most IAW songs don't have. For instance, a sax solo in the middle of the song that seems to be inspired by some of the songs that '60s rock band Traffic often put into their music, as well as some electronic sounding instruments that sound like they'd be more at home on a video game than a song. The rubbery distortion of the electric guitar on this song does a great job of setting "Me And Lazarus" apart from other IAW songs (which, for the most part, lack electric guitars and rely more on acoustic guitars). If you long for the days of psych-rock masterpieces like The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" and Traffic's "Paper Sun", then please give "Me And Lazarus" a nice, solid listen!

"Perfume" by Old '97s: On this track, Rhett Miller and co take a breather from the fast, driving rock 'n' roll sound of their previous hit, "Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)". "Perfume" sounds more like the typical '97s song, with its somewhat country-fied indie sound. The chord progression in this song seems to have become rather cliche now in rock music (the same type of progression gets used on The Beatles' "Let It Be" and Oasis' "Don't Look Back In Anger"), but the rhythm of the song is one that doesn't get used very often in the genre, and I also really like the subtle, tinkly piano sound sprinkled within the chorus of the song.

"So Beautiful Or So What" by Paul Simon: The lyrical content of this song seems rather abstract upon first listen, but such is the beauty of this song! It seems to be a bunch of "slice of life" stories rolled into a single song. As for the music? Well, I think that's what drives this song more than anything! It's very rhythmic, with its staccato beat pulsating through the drums and guitar throughout the song, so it's very easy to get stuck in your head. Having heard this song and his other big song of 2011, "The Afterlife", I'd say Paul Simon's latest album could very well qualify as being called a "sequel" to his 1986 magnum opus, "Graceland".

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New songs for June 8th, 2011

here they are:

"Jejune Stars" by Bright Eyes: I don't exactly know what "jejune stars" are supposed to be, but both the music and lyrics of this song are absolutely wonderful! The themes of karma and redemption appeal very much to my "inner Buddhist" and philosophical side, and the rather abstract lyrics of the chorus ("So I go umbrella under my arm, to the green of the radar"), just add to how creative this song truly is! You would think that with such spiritual lyrics that this would be one of the more calming, folk-y songs from Bright Eyes, but it isn't. Instead, its sound is rather new wave-y and Cars-y, which makes this song all the more worth listening to for me! With only two songs for this week, I would highly recommend this one!

"The Whole Enchilada" by Keb' Mo': The few songs of Keb' Mo' that I've heard were mostly acoustic guitar based contemporary blues songs. With his latest song, "The Whole Enchilada", Keb' adds in a '70s soul/funk influence along with his typical blues fare. As with most Keb' Mo' songs, the appeal of "The Whole Enchilada" is more in the guitar riffs (and, in this case, the rhythm) than it is in the lyrics. To answer Keb's question in the chorus ("Now that you got-a the whole enchilada, what'cha gonna do, what'cha gonna do?"), I'm gonna try to listen to this song enough times to learn both the lyrics and the licks of this song!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June BLOOM, 8 new songs for one new month!!

After about a month's absence on here, don't you think it's time I reviewed some new songs?! Well, you're in luck!! Here they are:

"Back Down South" by Kings of Leon: I never would've expected the same guys who debuted back in 2003 with the rough garage-rocker "Molly's Chambers" to have such a melancholy country/folk influenced tune almost a decade later, but lo and behold, KOL have done so with their latest tune, the aptly titled "Back Down South". This song has a very wistful vibe to it, and would probably also make a great "road" song, but not in the energetic, boastful way the typical '70s hard rock song would, but more like the "coming back home" sort of way that a song like "Teach Your Children" or "Heart of Gold" might. If your favorite songs are bittersweet ones, then this might be the one to check out for this week!

"Calgary" by Bon Iver: First of all, for those wondering how "Bon Iver" is pronounced, it's not "Bahn EYE-vur", it's "BONE ee-VAIR", a pun on a French phrase that translates to "good winter". Now that I've gotten that part out of the way, here's a bit of background info on Bon Iver. Though they weren't that big on adult alt stations in 2009, they quickly made a name for themselves nevertheless among indie fans with Nick Drake/Elliott Smith influenced neo-folk-rock such as "Blood Bank", "For Emma", "Re: Stacks", and "Skinny Love". "Calgary" is a bit of a departure from the somber, acoustic sound of these songs. Well, the somber is still there, but the acoustic?! Well, not so much. Instead, more electronic instruments are used, which is a bit of a letdown for me, as the acoustic instrumentation of Bon Iver was part of their charm to me. "Calgary" isn't bad, though. Bon Iver still manage to pull off an uplifting, ethereal sort of sound in spite of the synthesizer dominating the music, in a way that reminds me a great deal of the song "Daniel" by another electro-indie act, Bat For Lashes.

"Can't Keep Johnny Down" by They Might Be Giants: Ahhh, what's not to love about TMBG?! They're two of the goofiest guys in rock history! Even during their debut in the mid-'80s, their unique brand of alternative rock managed to somehow be more suitable for Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network than it was for MTV and VH1. "Can't Keep Johnny Down" takes a turn towards the "darker" side of TMBG, though, which is a bit of a disappointment for me. And why is that such a letdown?! Well, first of all, both their name (taken from a B-movie), and their song titles (including, but not limited to, "Put Your Hands Inside the Puppet Head", "Dr. Worm", and "Birdhouse In Your Soul"), are goofball gold, in the '00s they released a series of children's albums that held just as much appeal to children as they did to Gen X adults nostalgic for the days of "Sesame Street" and "Schoolhouse Rock", and even the material they intended more for an "adult" audience was "kid-friendly" enough that shows like "Tiny Toons" and "Where In the World Is Carmen San Diego?" incorporated the use of their music!! About the "darkest" song in their catalog I can even THINK of is "Don't Let's Start", and even THAT has weird lyrics (i.e. "Wake up and smell the cat food"), and a play on the word "don't" that makes fun of a similar play on the word "love" Nat King Cole was known for using (the one where Nat goes, "L is for the way you look at me...", etc.) There doesn't seem to be ANYTHING redeeming at first about "Can't Keep Johnny Down", though, a song that's primarily about a guy with a difficult life. However, upon closer examination of the lyrics to the song, it's really about a guy who, as the song's title suggests, "can't be kept down" by the troubles he faces in his life. I suppose that makes it more redeeming than it might seem upon initial listening, but I still think TMBG could've done better than this!

"Chapel Song" by We Are Augustines: Both the title of the song and the name of the band might suggest a "Christian rock" band, but it's far closer to bands like Arcade Fire and Modest Mouse, particularly the more melancholy, sentimental side of those bands. Lyrically, this song seems like it would have been perfect for "The Graduate", as they seem to hint at the disappointment the lead singer feels about the girl he loves getting married to another man (could be wrong on this, though, as I haven't yet heard the song that many times). The repetition of both the lyrics (i.e. "I shake, shake, shake like a leaf, and I'm lyin', lyin', lyin' through my teeth") and the progression of the four guitar hooks used throughout the song seem to make it a memorable one!

"Don't Gotta Work It Out" by Fitz and The Tantrums: How do you follow up the success and insanely catchy hooks of the blue-eyed soul smash hit, "MoneyGrabber"?!? Well, I would think that'd be pretty hard!! But Fitz and The Tantrums have managed to do so with their second single, "Don't Gotta Work It Out"! Though it's not as much of a get-up-and-dance song as "MoneyGrabber" was, it still manages to be catchy (and Motown-esque) enough to once again win over the hearts of both classic soul fans and alternative/indie fans. The minor key that "Don't Gotta Work It Out" was written in is also emphasized a bit more than that of "MoneyGrabber"'s minor key, with the exception of "Don't Gotta Work It Out"'s bridge, consisting of an organ playing in F major. Still, this is definitely a song worth checking out for the week!

"Learn How to Love" by The Tedeschi-Trucks Band: If this is supposed to be a follow-up to "Bound For Glory", I kinda feel like it's a bit too early (but perhaps that's because "Bound For Glory" hasn't played on enough stations yet, at least from what I've observed). Unlike the triumphant, chug-along blues-rock of "Bound For Glory", "Learn How to Love" seems to be a bit more of a juicy, gritty blues-rock number. This one definitely emphasizes the "rock" element of "blues-rock", evoking the sounds of many blues-influenced classic rock bands, from Led Zeppelin to ZZ Top to The Allman Brothers (of whom Derek Trucks occasionally plays guitar for), and then some! Who knows, perhaps the hard, solid rock 'n' roll influence of this song will guarantee "Learn How to Love" more success on adult alt radio than "Bound For Glory". We'll see!!

"Rider" by Okkervil River: I think I'm a bit late in my review for this one, but here goes. Though "Rider" has only received airplay on a handful of adult alt stations so far, it seems like its airplay is slowly but surely starting to increase, and it also has a unique sound that managed to capture me immediately upon hearing it! Its sound is the "orchestral indie" sound used frequently in Arcade Fire's music, and used additionally in other indie acts such as Sea Wolf, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, and Andrew Bird. The "orchestral" sound in "Rider" uses piano as the central instrument, and a dynamic and forceful, yet still catchy sort of rhythm. I especially like the end of this song, in which the instruments start to speed up, building up to a fantastic finish! I highly recommend this song!!

"Rise Above 1" by Reeve Carney and U2's Bono and The Edge: Apparently this song is supposed to be a part of the Broadway production of "Spider-Man"!! WHAAA?!? Well, as far as U2 songs go, this one is rather mediocre, I think. The fact that Reeve Carney contributed to this, though, I guess makes this worth listening to, and I kinda like this song despite how "average" it sounds. - EDIT - my bad - I confused my Carneys - it's PATRICK Carney (not REEVE Carney) who sings on this track - Reeve Carney is merely the guy that plays "Spider-Man" in the Broadway production of "Spider-Man", he has nothing to do with The Black Keys - what can I say, I get confused sometimes, and I apologize to those who might have thought I was spreading "false information" online - your fears should be calmed down by now