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