Here they are:
“Get Yourself Another Fool” by Paul McCartney: At first this song seemed like a rather disappointing departure from the wonderful Radiohead/Oasis-like Britpop influenced material Sir Paul went for in the mid to late 2000’s, with such gems of his as the somber “Jenny Wren”, the delightfully pop-y “Fine Line”, the bright pseudo-alt-pop of “Ever Present Past”, and the jubilant “Dance Tonight”, among others. “Get Yourself Another Fool” seemed like Paul’s attempt to be, say, Norah Jones, Jamie Cullum, or some other smooth jazz influenced contemporary pop musician. While “Get Yourself Another Fool” certainly has that sound to it, it relieved me to know that this wasn’t actually Paul’s song, but rather, a song from the legendary soul musician, Sam Cooke. With Paul’s take on “Get Yourself Another Fool”, the song has now been covered by two British rock musicians (the other being Elvis Costello). Jazz-pop doesn’t seem like it was ever something Sir Paul was interested in, but perhaps I’ll give him some slack since it’s his first time attempting to perform something of the genre. It’s been a little hard for me to warm up to this song, as I was expecting the alt-pop, Nigel Godrich produced sound of McCartney here, but perhaps in time I’ll grow to really like this one, who knows.
“Shake Your Hips” by Joan Osborne: Most people probably remember Joan Osborne as the somewhat Alanis Morissette-ish singer from the mid-‘90s who did that song about God being “one of us”. While I do like that song, Joan was really a much more diverse performer than that! She also dabbled in folk-rock (“St. Teresa”), blues (“Right Hand Man”), and soul (“Ladder”). She especially seemed to like soul music for quite some time (so much so, in fact, that she sang Martha and The Vandellas’ “Heat Wave” during a Motown tribute performance), and soul was pretty much what she stuck to doing throughout the 2000’s. Most of her attempts at soul didn’t come out very well, though (the aforementioned “Heat Wave” cover excepted). Now that the 2010’s have come around, though, Joan has decided to take on the blues-woman aspect she did in “Right Hand Man”. “Shake Your Hips” is actually even MORE true to the spirit of the blues than “Right Hand Man”, though, in that it’s literally a one-chord vamp (it is just A major throughout), like many blues songs tend to be, and it has a chuggin’ boogie beat that John Lee Hooker would be proud of if he were still alive today!
“Simple Song” by The Shins: The most heavily anticipated song of the week comes to us from none other than the band who first became popular through the “Garden State” soundtrack. Their lead singer, James Mercer, made his last album with The Shins in 2007. He embarked on a successful side project, Broken Bells, with Danger Mouse from Gnarls Barkley, three years after that, so he’s been a busy man for quite some time. “Simple Song”, however marks the first time The Shins have performed together in five years!! So how does the band sound after half a decade of absence from the music world?! Quite different, actually. The Byrds-y arpeggios and Beach Boys-style harmonies that once dominated The Shins’ catalog are not present on “Simple Song”, a song that combines the bass hook of Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” with crunchy (but still melodic) Matthew Sweet style power pop. The four minute length and five or so chords used in “Simple Song” might make it live up to its title, but this just isn’t what I was expecting from The Shins. It’s BETTER!! James Mercer and the boys are also playing Coachella this year, and “Simple Song” is probably one of the main reasons why!
“Underneath the Sycamore” by Death Cab for Cutie: Whenever Death Cab comes out with a new album, at least one song from it is mega-successful on both adult alt radio and “regular” alt-rock radio. Their latest album, “Codes and Keys”, is no exception to the rule. Two songs from the album (the uber-popular “You Are A Tourist”, as well as “Stay Young, Go Dancing”) have already made their way onto the airwaves, and as 2012 kicks into gear, Death Cab now have a THIRD song from “Codes And Keys” pushing for radio airplay! Since Ben Gibbard was married to the lovely Zooey Deschanel during the year “Codes And Keys” came out, just about every song from the album so far has been optimistic. “Underneath the Sycamore” is also optimistic, but its sound is somewhat U2-ish in comparison to the mostly folk-rock influenced catalog of Death Cab for Cutie. “You Are A Tourist” also had a U2-ish sound, so Ben Gibbard probably wanted to go for a larger audience on “Codes And Keys” (although “Stay Young, Go Dancing” adhered to the folk-rock sound of most of their material, so Death Cab haven’t TOTALLY switched their sound…yet). The title track to “Codes And Keys” would have made for a more satisfying choice for the third single off the album, but “Underneath the Sycamore” is still not a bad choice.