Wednesday, September 7, 2011

7 MORE songs?!?!? WHAAA....?!?!

That's right!!! 7 MORE songs!! Perfect way to start the month of September! Here they are:

"Black Spartacus Heart Attack Machine" by The Nightwatchman (a.k.a. Tom Morello, ex-Rage Against the Machine member): Would you have expected the guitarist of '90s hard rock group Rage Against the Machine to have suddenly reinvented himself as a Dylan-esque folk singer?! Probably not many of you would have, but around the mid 2000's he did so, and he did a mighty fine job at it too! The latest from Morello, "Black Spartacus Heart Attack Machine" seems like where ends would meet for him, musically. While acoustic guitar and harmonica both play a central role in "Black Spartacus Heart Attack Machine", the fast pace of the percussion makes it sound more like a rock song, and the chorus (just the song's title, really) is "sung-spoken" in an aggressive fashion more typical of a Rage song than a Dylan song. Hope to hear more of Morello channeling his inner Dylan sometime soon, he really does an excellent job at it!

"Bright Lights" by Gary Clark Jr.: Amazingly, there are three songs from blues musicians that are being reviewed this week, and this one is first in line! This song, Gary Clark Jr.'s ode to New York City (as he states in the opening line, "Woke up in New York City"), sounds more like it belongs in the 1970's than it does to the 21st century, with its flashy guitar solos and its propulsive boogie beat! Somehow, though, whoever produced this song made it sound polished enough that it sounds recent, in spite of the instrumental techniques used in this song. At 5 minutes and 13 seconds, the length of the song also seems more suited to classic rock than it does to modern/alt rock. Ultimately, though, it's songs like this one that make music all the more worth listening to in the 21st century, and it's also proof that rock 'n' roll is not "dead", despite what some people might think.

"Cruel" by St. Vincent: So how exactly does one classify a song like "Cruel"?! Electro-disco-classical-post-punk-hard-rock?!? Somehow, it kinda sounds like that. Aside from incorporating influences from multiple genres, "Cruel" also manages to evoke multiple emotions. The overall tone of the song is dark, yet the lead singer has very melodic (but sometimes desperate) vocals, and it's also a song that makes me want to dance AND play air guitar at the same time!! Yet I don't know if I'd feel entirely comfortable dancing to a song that's so ominous sounding, and also what is a rock 'n' roll guitar solo doing in a song that's supposed to be disco inflected...with post-punk creepiness?! There doesn't seem to be an easy way to define this song, but sometimes those are the best kinds of songs!!

"If I Had A Gun" by Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds: Oasis might not be as big as they once were in the '90s, but WOW, the members are definitely still active!! Around February of this year, the band Beady Eye (featuring Liam Gallagher from Oasis on lead vocals) came out and released a fun, jaunty Beatlesque tune called "The Roller". Now it's the other Oasis brother, Noel Gallagher's turn in the spotlight. "If I Had A Gun" provides an introspective, poignant contrast to the bouncy, pop-y aspects of "The Roller". In some ways "If I Had A Gun" almost sounds like a "sequel" to Oasis' biggest hit, "Wonderwall", as both songs are slow, sweet sounding, prolific, and even in the same key (F sharp minor, though "Wonderwall" was capoed). It's unfair, though, to dismiss "If I Had A Gun" as a "ripoff" of "Wonderwall", since it is a song that takes on beautiful, reflective qualities of its own!

"Love the Way You Walk Away" by Blitzen Trapper: Though I only know three songs (including this one) by Blitzen Trapper, I love pretty much everything they have released so far! Much like Fleet Foxes, Mumford and Sons, and The Decemberists (all of whom Blitzen Trapper have probably been compared to by now), Blitzen Trapper are a bittersweet sounding neo-folk-rock band that have made a name for themselves among indie rock fans (including me)! That being said, I was looking forward to hearing what their latest song, "Love the Way You Walk Away" was going to sound like. Its sound seems kind of country-folk influenced, in a very laid-back, "traveling back home on the highway" kind of way. Though I was expecting it to have more of a Donovan-esque "psych-folk" sound the way other Blitzen Trapper songs (especially "Dragon's Song") typically do, "Love the Way You Walk Away" does have a very earnest, heartfelt sort of sound. This one (and probably the Noel Gallagher song as well) are my fave releases of the week so far!!

"River's Gonna Rise" by Warren Haynes: Like his song released earlier this year, "Man In Motion", the part-time Allman Brothers and Gov't Mule guitarist lays down some mean blues licks once again on his latest effort, "River's Gonna Rise". Unlike the frenzied, enthusiastic guitar playing "Man In Motion" boasted, "River's Gonna Rise" is a bit of a calmer song. This does not mean Warren doesn't show off his chops on his axe, though, he most certainly does. However, the feel of this song is a bit more earthy like B.B. King, and not so much a "guitar hero" Eric Clapton type sound. Somehow, the title alone seemed to indicate to me that this would be a calmer song, as this song uses the word "river" in the title, and that's what rivers usually are.

"T-Bone Shuffle" by Johnny Winter: It's quite amazing to me that three of the songs I've reviewed this week are blues songs. "T-Bone Shuffle", however, is by far the blues-iest of the three!! No complex emotions or "deep" lyrics in this song, and no weird chords or odd song structure either, just your basic 12 bar blues. As much as the gentle, poignant, bittersweet songs I review have become close to my heart, sometimes it's fun to just play the blues! It's great to listen to, and fun to dance to. No song I've reviewed so far has come as close to reviving the spirit of the blues as "T-Bone Shuffle" has, with its feel-good, toe-tappin', guitar blastin' sound!!