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!!