Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New songs for March 28th, 2012

here they are:

"Looking For A Sign" by Beck: Beck might as well be called the David Bowie of the '90s and 21st century. You never knew what kind of Beck you were gonna get next. The wacky hip-hop/funk influenced Beck, the sensitive folkie Beck, the surf-guitar Beck, the moody, trip-hop/jazzy Beck, and the list goes on and on from there! For his latest song, "Looking For A Sign", Beck has chosen to go for sensitive folkie mode, which makes sense, considering it is on the soundtrack to the (comedic) indie film, "Jeff, Who Lives At Home". The highlighting moments of "Looking For A Sign" are not in the mood or lyrics, though, as much as they are in the unique chord progression of the song! What can I say, Beck never ceases to amaze me!

"Never Go Back" by Grace Potter and The Nocturnals: And here is yet ANOTHER musician (with a backing band) who has trodden eclectic waters! Grace started out as a quiet country-pop/rock musician, but soon went into more hard rock territory with her cover of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit", as well as the punchy, Lenny Kravitz-ish "Paris (Ooh La La)". "Never Go Back" is NEITHER of the subgenres I've mentioned so far, but rather an electronic alterna-pop sound. "Never Go Back" is catchy, and combines synthesizers and guitars kind of like the typical Killers song might, but Grace sounds more detached on this song than she did on "Paris", in which she had wild but passionate vocals. Perhaps not the best decision Grace and The Noc's have made, but I still like it, and personally, it holds my attention much better than the dry, country-ish sound she had on "Ah, Mary" and "Ain't No Time".

"No Light, No Light" by Florence and The Machine: This song is equal parts electronic, alternative, soul, and gospel, but it still sounds great!! I'm pretty convinced Flo can do no wrong with every new song I hear by her! "No Light, No Light", of course, is no exception, no exception! The lyrics of this song seem to indicate this is a breakup song, as many of her songs tend to be, but our red-haired beauty takes the angst of her situation and turns it into full-blown, four minute opera/sermon with this song. Flo, you're just too amazing for words, what can I say?!

"North Side Gal" by JD McPherson: Wow! Has Little Richard released his comeback album?! Or maybe that's Fats Domino, or perhaps Chuck Berry?! Nope, it's the latest '50s rock influenced sensation from the 21st century, JD McPherson! I swear, this song sounds like it came out back when rock 'n' roll was as young as a newborn baby!! With the increasing lack of zippiness and zest in today's music, though, I think that's a good thing! Sometimes I feel like the world might need a new Elvis Presley, and I can't think of anyone better than JD McPherson (well, maybe the sexy, snazzy Irish gal, Imelda May would be an exception, but still...)!! It even sounds like it's own song, despite having the chord progression almost every '50s rock song has (although the end part of the song, in which JD repeatedly sings, "Crazy 'bout a north side gal", sounds a bit too similar to when Elvis repeatedly sings "Dancin' to the jailhouse rock" at the end of "Jailhouse Rock"). This is a real swingin' song, though, and I highly recommend it!!

"Paddling Out" by Miike Snow: No, "Miike" is not a typo, that's how this band spells their name. And it's not pronounced like "Mike" or "Mikey" (or "Mi-yike", as I have jokingly pronounced their name based on how it has two "i"s), but it's actually pronounced like "MEE-kay". The piano hook in this song combined with its hip-hop beats remind me of people like Fatboy Slim, only Miike Snow seem like their music is more directed at a neo-hippie, NPR-ish audience than Slim's music was. It seems as though terms like "alternative" and "indie" aren't good enough to describe a song like "Paddling Out", though. Something about it sounds more eclectic than most songs/bands that are typically considered as such. The unique musical qualities of "Paddling Out" only make me want to know more about Miike Snow, though, and hopefully the same can be said of most (if not all) of the listeners of this song!!

"Stare Into the Sun" by Graffiti 6: Before their adult alt mega-hit, "Free", "Stare Into the Sun" was actually the FIRST song to get noticed by Graffiti 6, but I guess it didn't go anywhere initially. Now, however, "Stare Into the Sun" is slowly but surely attracting more listeners! Like "Free", "Stare Into the Sun" is basically a "psychedelic soul" type of song, but it has a bit more of a "retro" '70s-style sound than "Free" did. The organs and tambourines in "Stare Into the Sun", in addition to the relentlessly optimistic sound of this song overall, make me picture a rainbow with musical notes going around Graffiti 6 as they sing this song! Plenty of songs are trippy, and plenty more are soulful, but it's rare that they'd be combined into one sound. That being said, I think we've got another big hit on our hands with this song!

"We Are the Selfish Ones" by Cowboy Junkies: To wrap up this week's review, we end with a somber song, and we started with a somber song, but the other songs in between were energetic! Odd, but I guess that's what I get for reviewing songs in alphabetical order, haha!! Anyway, this song is pretty much an entirely acoustic song from Cowboy Junkies. Not anything too out of the ordinary, I guess, but usually their songs have a bit more backbone than this one does. I was expecting a little more than this from Margo Timmins and co. It's also just a little under 3 minutes, so I feel like it could have been longer, too. This isn't a bad song, as I pretty much like everything I've heard so far from Cowboy Junkies, I just feel like "We Are the Selfish Ones" COULD use just a LITTLE more tweaking wouldn't ya say?!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New songs for March 21st, 2012

Here they are:

“Man On Fire” by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros: A deceptively cheerful, na├»ve sounding band, whose biggest hit so far has been the surprise 2010 indie/alt hit “Home”, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros were loved by indie fans from the time they debuted in late 2009. Their faux-‘60s Mamas and Papas-meets-Simon and Garfunkel type folk-pop/rock sound has only gained them more fans ever since then! Unlike “Home” and “40 Day Dream”, both of which were merely happy sounding songs with dark lyrical content, “Man On Fire” seems to evoke joyful emotions both in its child-like, clap-along sound, and in its simplistic choice of words (“Man on fire/Walking down the street/Got one guitar/two dancing feet”). Is this really reason for the initial fans of Ed and The Zeros to complain?! I think not!! It’s rare to find songs that bear even a slight resemblance to rock music that make one think of “Sesame Street” more than The Stones, so I say embrace the opportunity to hear songs like this one!

“Myth” by Beach House: Continuing their tradition of one-word song titles (“Norway”, “Zebra”), the hypnotically dreamy indie duo known as Beach House are back with another song, “Myth”, that will put you to sleep in a charmingly trippy way just like how most of their songs tend to. “Myth” seems to go for a bit more of a studio-based sound than “Norway” and “Zebra” did, but Beach House still retain their trademark “psychedelic lullaby” type sound, as lead singer Victoria Legrand urgently sings, “Help me today” in its chorus, in a way that is pleading, yet irresistible, like the voice of a siren from Greek mythology in human form! I can’t help but feel like I’m floating on the most delicate, billowy clouds every time I hear “Myth”. It is a magical song that is not “magical” in the cheesy way. “Myth” is a pure, unadulterated stardust fantasy of a song!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New songs for March 14th, 2012

here they are:

"Alone" by Trampled by Turtles: The name ALONE of this band is enough to make me like them!! Anyway, this is one of two "bluegrass rock" songs I'm reviewing this week, though they are very distinct from one another. This song is by FAR the more relaxed of the two. It recalls bluegrass instrumentation, while also bringing to mind the arpeggiated patterns of many a folk-rock song. The peak of "Alone" is probably towards the middle of it, in which the fiddle section swells up to the point of sounding like a full blown orchestra. The fiddles are actually the most intense instruments used in "Alone" (though they are probably also the most enjoyable part of it).

"Country Girl" by Carolina Chocolate Drops: As if by coincidence, this is the second out of two "bluegrass rock" songs I'm reviewing this week! The Chocolate Drops seem to add a bit of "hipness" into the few songs I've heard from them so far, whether by covering a song from early '00s pop chanteuse Blu Cantrell ("Hit 'Em Up Style"), or, in this case, adding a slight bit of hip-hop influence to an otherwise bluegrass-y song. The Carolina Chocolate Drops' lead vocalist is also quite talented in terms of her singing range. The CCD's lead singer might be telling a story about how she was raised a "country girl", but I think she enjoys mixing a bit of city life into this song for good measure. Sure makes for a unique, memorable song!

"Isn't That So?" by Lyle Lovett: A man of many talents, you never know what kind of Lyle Lovett song you're gonna get next! His musical style ranges from country, jazz, vocal standards, rock, blues, folk, and more (and, in addition, he is also a skilled actor). I tend to prefer Mr. Lovett when he's more energetic, though, and "Isn't That So?" most CERTAINLY is!! It starts out with a vaguely country-ish acoustic guitar emulating the beat of The Fixx's "One Thing Leads to Another", but the brass section, drums, and electric guitar kick in merely seconds later. The lyrics are typical for Lyle Lovett, concerning relationship advice, but the musical aspects of "Isn't That So?" are fantastic! Makes me think Lyle and his band are probably really good live with the instrumentation they have set up for this song!

"Revolution" by Dr. John: In Louisiana, Mac Rebennack, better known by his stage name, "Dr. John", is a living legend! His mix of blues, jazz, and rock 'n' roll are often combined into a spicy musical gumbo that New Orleans just can't seem to get enough of! Outside of Louisiana, Dr. John is best known for his lone classic rock radio hit, "Right Place, Wrong Time". That being said, this is probably the first time since that song came out (which was back in 1972), that he's gotten this much attention for a song of his, rather than his performances! His latest song, "Revolution" (not to be confused for the Beatles song of the same name), somehow manages to combine the swampy '50s blues-rock sound of Screamin' Jay Hawkins with the "retro soul" sound of people like Amy Winehouse. The organ solo in the middle of this song is both the most exotic and most enjoyable part of this song! It's a fun sounding song, but the lyrical content strays far from the stream-of-consciousness vibe of "Right Place, Wrong Time", and instead focuses more on protesting the current state of politics and religion. But still, it's one of the most distinct sounding songs so far of the 21st century, and that's something worth listening to!!

"Towers" by Bon Iver: A bit more uptempo than most of Bon Iver's material, "Towers" almost seems like Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer" with a Snow Patrol-ish "softened" electric guitar sound instead of an acoustic guitar sound. It has a similar rhythm and use of backing instruments (though I can't quite tell if that's a sax or a harmonica playing in the background of "Towers"). "Towers" has enough of its own type of sound that it doesn't sound like a "ripoff" of "The Boxer". As a matter of fact, it changes key from E major in the beginning, to a D major towards the end, and usually songs don't change key very much these days. In some ways, "Towers" might just be one of the folk-iest songs, lyrically, that Bon Iver have ever done, what with its references to Norse mythology ("F**k the fiercest fables I'm with Hagen", which also uses alliteration with the letter "F"), and even classic, well-known fairy tales ("In the towers of your honeycomb, I'd a' tore your hair out just to climb back darling", referring to Rapunzel...hmmmm...wonder if Justin Vernon watched "Tangled" right before writing this song!!) In days of old, it was usually heavier rock bands (albeit with folk influence) that typically referenced mythology, like Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull. Bon Iver's references to folklore and fables, combined with the pleasant atmosphere of the song, almost make this seem like a children's lullaby (except for his use of the "f" word towards the middle). A fantastic song, as usual, from the indie rock band whose name is an intentional misspelling of the French way of saying "good winter"!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New songs for March 7th, 2012

here they are:

"Live Your Life" by Yuna: I don't know how many rock/pop musicians hail from Malaysia, but if Yuna's the first, then that's pretty cool! The melodically trip-hop-meets-soft-jazz feel of "Live Your Life" also reminds me of another one-name-only female musician who debuted a little over 5 years ago - Jem. Yet Yuna somehow manages to make this song all her own. It is as smooth as it is catchy. Where most female musicians of the indie-pop world have taken after Fiona Apple or Tori Amos, Yuna takes more after Jem, which is probably a big part of the reason why this song sounds so refreshing and different for a 2010's song. However you slice it, though, "Live Your Life" is still a fun song to listen to!

"Out of the Game" by Rufus Wainwright: I was waiting for Rufus to release something new for quite awhile! And I think now I know why it might have taken him so long to do so. Perhaps he wasn't ready to show the world his transition from cabaret influenced indie-pop to George Harrison influenced neo-folk-rock. Certainly not what I (or, likely, anyone else) was expecting from Rufus, although it kinda makes sense considering that his father was the rather eccentric folk musician Loudon Wainwright III. Perhaps Rufus is trying to connect more musically with his dad on "Out of the Game". There's a touch of the old Rufus Wainwright in this song, though, in that he transitions from major to minor chords between the verses and chorus. Yeah, as the song suggests, Rufus might be "out of the game" with many of his main audience members by now, but it's still good to know he's still makin' music!

"This Isn't Everything You Are" by Snow Patrol: Sometimes Snow Patrol are written off as a "poor man's Coldplay", though it SHOULD be the other way around! After all, Snow Patrol are sometimes capable of churning out some solid rockers in their library ("Hands Open", "Take Back the City", "You're All I Have", and most recently, "Called Out In the Dark", to name a few). This time around, though, Gary Lightbody and co are turning towards the ballad side once again, which can bring out both the best (the extraordinarily poignant and ethereal "An Olive Grove Facing the Sea") and worst (the overplayed "Chasing Cars" and dull "Crack the Shutters") in the band. "This Isn't Everything You Are" seems to show some strength in terms of Snow Patrol's "ballad" side (though it has practically the same chords as the verses of Matchbox 20's "Long Day"). The emotional quality of "This Isn't Everything You Are" really DOES tug at the ol' heartstrings for me. It doesn't feel like just another attempt to earn a radio hit through balladry. Both Gary Lightbody's winsome vocals and the delicate nature of the song itself give "This Isn't Everything You Are" a rather aching, yearning feel. For a band best known for their "softer" side, Snow Patrol is truly one of the best, and this song continues to prove so!