Here they are:
"Get Used to It" by Ben Lee: Ben Lee made his musical breakthrough back in the mid-'00s with the charmingly quirky, folk-pop-y "Catch My Disease". It didn't occur to me back then that his roots were not in folk-pop, but rather in power pop (i.e. Big Star, Elvis Costello, XTC, etc.) No song in Ben's catalog that I've heard so far illustrates his power pop influences better than his latest song, "Get Used to It". The sound of "Get Used to It" isn't the best part, though. It's how Ben takes a slow, slightly psychedelic detour midway through the song that makes "Get Used to It" really worth listening to for me! "Get Used to It", therefore, is the perfect title to a song that starts off catchy, gets a little weird (in a good way) midway through, and ends up as catchy as it was when it began. Now THAT's something to "get used to"!!
"Honolulu Blues" by Craig Finn: Craig is the lead singer of a roots-y, largely Springsteen influenced indie outfit called The Hold Steady, and, until now, has recorded pretty much all of his material with them. "Honolulu Blues" marks the first time Craig has struck out on his own, but he still retains the Springsteen-esque sound of The Hold Steady, and still has a (nameless) band backing him up! The opening chord sequence of the song seems like it's been used endlessly in rock/pop music (most recently, perhaps, in "Forget You [F**k You]" by Cee-Lo Green), but after that, "Honolulu Blues" becomes its own song. As indicated earlier, there's a definite Springsteen influence in this song, but it seems like this song goes back even further in rock 'n' roll history, as it also seems to heavily recall Chuck Berry (and perhaps The Rolling Stones as well) in its riffs! The angst-ridden but catchy poetic lyrics combined with the instrumentation also brings to mind even more rock 'n' roll greats, like Dylan during his "electric" period. Classic rock influences are present in nearly every song Craig has attempted, but none more so than "Honolulu Blues". Long live rock!!
"Serpents" by Sharon Van Etten: In a long line of "angry young women" in alt/indie rock, starting, perhaps, with Patti Smith, continuing with PJ Harvey and Liz Phair in the '90s, and carrying through to the '00s with acts like The Dresden Dolls and Company of Thieves, Sharon Van Etten is the latest to follow in their footsteps with her seductively dark song, "Serpents". "Quirky young women" (Feist, Regina Spektor, Joanna Newsom, Florence and The Machine, etc.) seems to have been the trend in the '00s/2010's, and, as great (and cute) as they are, sometimes it's good to have a little darkness to balance out the light! Sharon's voice might not have the same venom as Patti, Liz, and PJ, but the instrumentation here is pretty angst-ridden, as are the lyrics (which include, "You enjoy sucking on dreams, so I'll fall asleep with someone other than you"...Ouch!!). For those who like their gals with more of a gloomy, detached emotion in their music, I highly recommend "Serpents". Even the TITLE of the song indicates something not-so-friendly!
"Waiting For Something" by Nada Surf: The one regret I have about Nada Surf's music is that their most popular song, "Popular", sounded like a Weezer song (or, more accurately, a PARODY of a Weezer song), whereas all their other material is more beautiful and melodic than that, approaching the R.E.M./Radiohead category. Their latest, "Waiting For Something", continues in the beautiful but catchy alt-rock pattern of pretty much everything they released in the '00s (which was quite a bit, actually, and included songs like "Inside of Love", "Always Love", "See These Bones", and "Whose Authority"). "Waiting For Something" is a little different than the four songs I just mentioned, but in a VERY good way. Where those four songs were slower paced, "Waiting For Something" is a little faster. This is such a great song!! Great harmonies, great vocals, great instrumentation, tell-it-like-it-is lyrics (the chorus, for instance, "it always feels like I'm waiting for something"), what more could you ask for?! This is my fave release of the week and I highly recommend it!!