Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A long (start of) December...

...and there's reason to believe, maybe this year's song list will be better than the last. Especially if there's NINE SONGS!!! That's the furthest I've gotten since I did eleven songs back in September of last year! Here they are:

"Common Burn" by Mazzy Star: I betcha a lot of you reading this can't believe your eyes, especially if you remember Mazzy Star's one big hit of the '90s, "Fade Into You". Well, Mazzy Star are back, and are getting attention again for the first time since 1993!! Their latest song, "Common Burn", retains the uber-relaxed mode of "Fade Into You", and its slow, dragging sound combined with the harmonicas in the background could easily bring to mind contemporaries of Mazzy, like Cowboy Junkies. Where "Fade Into You" was a love song, though, "Common Burn" is more a song of heartbreak and remorse, but in a very calming, almost therapeutic sort of way. If you need a song to identify with how you feel after coming home on a rainy day, "Common Burn" should satisfy your soul!!

"Fall Right Now" by Josh and The Empty Pockets: People like Mike Doughty (coming up two songs from now) and Ben Lee seem to suggest that there's a small but significant section of Barenaked Ladies influenced musicians that have popped up in the mid 2000's and are continuing to thrive today. Josh and The Empty Pockets seem to capture the typical BNL sound perfectly, though (and quite a few other acts from the '90s seemed to have influenced them as well, like Duncan Sheik and Eagle-Eye Cherry). Lyrically there really isn't anything too special about "Fall Right Now" (except maybe the ending lyrics - "and it hurts...ouch!"), but anyone looking for their '90s alt-folk-pop nostalgia fix will probably connect instantly with this song! And yes, I am one such person with an affinity for '90s alt-pop, it's the best!

"Half Moon" by Blind Pilot: Blind Pilot's buoyant, relentlessly happy "We Are the Tide", released right at the cusp of late August/early September of this year, seemed to put them in the same company as public radio darlings like Gomez and Good Old War. Their latest, "Half Moon", seems to lean more towards the sentimental but still earnest alt-folk-pop/rock of bands like Alpha Rev and Scars on 45 (both of whom have had surprisingly huge success on adult alt radio stations). So how does the more yearning sound of "Half Moon" suit Blind Pilot?! Well, I honestly think Blind Pilot are better suited to bouncy, optimistic songs like "We Are the Tide" than to slower songs like "Half Moon", but "Half Moon"'s sound seems like it would be perfect for the soundtrack to a show like, say, "Grey's Anatomy" (if it hasn't been featured on there already). And if "Half Moon" is gonna get Blind Pilot more attention than they've gotten so far, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

"Holiday (What Do You Want?)" by Mike Doughty and Rosanne Cash: Sooo...the ex-lead singer of the quirky Beck-ish alt-pop band Soul Coughing duetting with country-rock legend Johnny Cash's daughter...somehow...equals...a good opportunity for a Christmas song?!? WHAAA?!?! It's an odd pairing, for certain, but perhaps they wanted to go for something along the lines of the infamous incident in which David Bowie and Bing Crosby duetted on their own version of "The Little Drummer Boy". Christmas-y imagery (and Christmas-y musical chimes) are heard throughout the song, but, in true Mike Doughty fashion, the song takes a tongue-in-cheek turnaround during the chorus, in which Doughty and Cash ask each other, "Hey, do you wish it was a holiday?" Do you WISH it was a holiday?! I thought a "holiday" was what this song was about!!

"I Love You Too Much" by The Rolling Stones: So I guess The Stones' previous "Some Girls" "outtake" ("No Spare Parts") just had such a country-ish sound to it that no one seemed to gravitate towards it enough. Thankfully, The Stones (and/or whoever their manager is) have sought to correct this by releasing the much more uptempo, rockin' "I Love You Too Much" as their next single of 2011 (though "I Love You Too Much" and "No Spare Parts" were both ORIGINALLY part of "Some Girls" from back in '78)!! A wise decision on their part, too, since it has a similar sound to other "Some Girls" songs like "Shattered", "Beast of Burden", and "Miss You". Mick Jagger's trademark attitude (and catchiness) are present throughout "I Love You Too Much". To paraphrase Mick himself, "If he can't rock you", well, I dunno who can!!

"Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men: Acoustic guitars, richly layered harmonies, a catchy tune, a jovial rhythm section, the adding of random instruments (accordions, in this case) for good measure, and, to top it all off, the trade-off between male and female vocals throughout the song!! Put all those ingredients together, and you've got a neat little song called "Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men, the latest indie-folk ensemble that will probably garner significant attention from those who have become fans of bands like Mumford and Sons and The Decemberists (one of those people being yours truly - me!!) Though "Little Talks" is written in a minor key, it still manages to be quite a fun song to listen to! Perhaps one of the most intriguing parts of "Little Talks", though, is the lyrical dissonance it sets off, as its lively instrumentation hides a tale of a dissatisfied relationship. Highly recommended!!

"Parted Ways" by Heartless B*st*rds: Unfortunately, only a sample of this song is available at the moment from what I can find. However, it's given me a good idea of what it sounds like. For some reason the name of this group sounds a bit more suited to a hard rock band than a roots-y indie band, but "Parted Ways"' sound suggests much more the latter than it does the former. What little I got out of the lyrics (for instance, "the hum of the wheels, they are carryin' me home") also seems apt for a band with a rather earthy, organic sound to it. Fans of Dawes, Deer Tick, Alberta Cross, and the like will probably really like this song!

"Seer" by Motopony: Motopony are as eclectic as their odd band moniker would suggest they are! In the summer of this year, their "King of Diamonds" got moderate attention on adult alt radio stations, and it had a sound that combined electronic sounds with a "chill" sorta vibe. "Seer", on the other hand, is a bit more like an electric guitar-oriented indie song with slight influence by funk and jazz. The vocals in each song are also radically different from what I can tell!! (Do Motopony have multiple lead singers?!) At first, it sounds like "Seer" steals the main hook from Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson", but as "Seer" progresses, it seems to turn into a different song entirely!

"Show Me the Place" by Leonard Cohen: That's right, I've saved the best song (and artist) for last!! By coincidence, really, since it begins with the letter "S", and there are no songs with titles beginning with "T" through "Z" in this week's entry. But still, there's no denying what a powerful presence Leonard Cohen is!! (His son, Adam, has also released a new CD, though sadly, that one isn't getting as much attention). Be it the yearning "Suzanne", the spooky "Everybody Knows", or the seductive "I'm Your Man", Cohen always pours his heart and soul out in every song he does!! With his latest song, "Show Me the Place", it shows that Cohen's spirit is still as alive as it ever was!! It is a melancholy song, done mostly on piano, with occasional accompaniment from violins in the background (and various female singers on backing vocals). "Show Me the Place" is one of those songs that just takes me to another place when I listen to it! I am absolutely awestruck by it, and I hope you are too!!