Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New songs for April 25th, 2012

here they are:

"Everybody's Falling In Love" by World Party: World Party have been around since the mid 1980's, and scored a couple of modest hits in the early '90s, but ever since then, they seemed to have dropped off the musical map. So where have they been all these years?! Thankfully, fans of World Party need not wonder about this anymore! Their first big song in almost 20 years, "Everybody's Falling In Love", sounds exactly like how one might expect it to sound! It's a very happy, upeat, almost soulful song, slightly reminiscent of songs like The Beatles' "Let It Be", only without the minor key chorus. In fact, "Everybody's Falling In Love" is almost entirely in major key. Kinda like R.E.M.'s "Shiny Happy People" with a slower beat, more sunshine, and more sincerity!


"Heaven" by The Walkmen: When The Walkmen debuted a couple years ago, I had mistakenly lumped them in that sort of fractured, "neo-new-wave" category that bands like Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party might fall under. Boy was I wrong!! The Walkmen actually have a sound that's closer to bands like Wilco, The National, and Delta Spirit, and no song of theirs illustrates that better than their latest song, "Heaven"! Despite its title, "Heaven" doesn't exactly sound...well...heavenly. That doesn't mean its sound isn't pleasant or mellow, it is. It's just that it starts off in minor key with a sort of urgency that almost sounds like Wilco trying to cover The Police's "Message In A Bottle". It switches to major key during the chorus, but its persistent, spiraling mantra of "Remember, remember" in the chorus also makes it sound rather urgent, just like the verses. That being said, the title "Heaven" for this song (which is not mentioned anywhere in the lyrics), seems at least half sarcastic in a a way, and the lyrics to the song seem more sad than they are blissful. However, the compelling sound and passionate vocals of "Heaven" still manage to make it a great song!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

new songs for April 18th, 2012

here they are:


“Closer I Get” by Rebelution (featuring John Popper from Blues Traveler): Ever since Bob Marley became internationally known (and a little later on, when The Police combined reggae rhythms with rock instrumentation), reggae and rock have occasionally become “bedfellows” with each other, and in a rather successful way, at that. Rebelution are a reggae band that enlisted the help of rocker John Popper from Blues Traveler on harmonica on Rebelution’s latest track, “Closer I Get”. However, this sounds more like POP-reggae (think Matisyahu) than “rock-reggae”. “Closer I Get” manages to sound even more laid back than most Bob Marley tracks, actually. Its sound suggests that of when the funk-influenced rock group 311 briefly flirted with reggae on songs like “Amber” and “I’ll Be Here Awhile”. I was hoping for a vocal spot from John Popper on this song, but instead, all I got was a harmonica solo from him at the end of the song. “Closer I Get” is just one step ahead of Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow” on the color spectrum – it is “mellow green”, and more so than most reggae (and reggae influenced) songs. Not the best sounding song, but still a good one to hear on those sunny days when you feel like chilling in your backyard on a hammock with a pineapple flavored drink!

“Honey” by The Parlotones: This being the third major song I’ve come across from The Parlotones, one thing I can say about them that I can’t say about a lot of contemporary alt/indie acts is that no two Parlotones songs sound alike! So far, they have touched upon urgency (“Should We Fight Back?”) and balladry (“Save Your Best Bits”), and this time around, they’ve come out with a fun, quirky song with “Honey”. Unlike most songs with the word “honey” in the title, The Parlotones’ use of that word refers to the substance, rather than simply being a nickname for a boyfriend/girlfriend. The saxophones in “Honey” make it an even more enjoyable song than it already is! Looking forward to whatever surprises The Parlotones want to pull out next!

“Just Breathe” by Willie Nelson: Just like in the first song I reviewed this week, I’m going outside the rock ‘n’ roll box here! Well, kinda. This is a cover from a legendary country musician of a melancholy alternative rock song, much like Johnny Cash’s version of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”. Cash practically made “Hurt” his own song, though! Nelson doesn’t quite do the same thing to “Just Breathe”, originally an introspective folk-rock song by Pearl Jam from just a couple years ago. However, it’s definitely a spirited, dedicated attempt at a cover song for Willie (as well as his son, Lukas, who does some of the vocals on this version of the song). This version actually rocks a bit harder than the original, believe it or not, if only for the fact that Willie sneaks in some electric guitar solos towards the end of the song, whereas the original Pearl Jam song was entirely acoustic. If only Johnny Cash were alive to hear Willie Nelson’s take on this song. I bet he’d be pretty impressed!!

“The Real Thing” by Audra Mae and The Almighty Sound: Audra Mae might be a young woman who’s new to the music biz, but she does not intend on sounding like just another “pretty young thing”, neither musically nor vocally! When Audra proclaims she’s “the real thing”, you’d better believe her!! Her vocal qualities suggest what a younger, clearer-voiced version of Janis Joplin might sound like, and her band, well, let’s just say it ain’t called “The Almighty Sound” for nothin’!! The Almighty Sound is a powerhouse of blues, country, and rock that stands as a force not to be reckoned with! If you’re the kind of person who prefers more of a kick in your music, as opposed to a gentler sound, then give “The Real Thing” a listen. It lives up to its title…and how!!

“This Head I Hold” by Electric Guest: If Beck decided to have a jam session with Fitz and The Tantrums, it would probably sound like Electric Guest! This is a band that is as soulful as they are detached, and somehow, they manage to pull it off!! How they do so without making their music sound somewhat forced in the process is anyone’s guess, but I’m glad they don’t! It just makes their material sound that much more original. In the 21st century, I guess anything can happen in the music world, and that would include having the Motown sound getting the new wave treatment! Never thought the day would come when the two sounds of the aforementioned genres merged into one, but the fact they have is nothing short of exciting!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New songs for April 11th, 2012

here they are:

“April Fool” by Patti Smith: It’s no joke! Patti Smith decided to release her latest CD right around April Fool’s Day, with a fitting song to go with it! Those expecting something punk-y but free-spirited along the lines of Patti’s charmingly bizarre cover of Van Morrison’s “Gloria” might be a bit disappointed since this a “softer” song of hers. That’s not to say that Patti’s mellower material is bad (“People Have the Power” and “Dancing Barefoot”, for instance, are both absolute classics!) However, “April Fool” brings nothing new to the table in terms of passion or musical innovation. It is a sweet, bouncy, almost na├»ve sounding song. However, Patti revealed that even back in her punk rock days she was a big softie (in a good way) underneath it all in her recent autobiography, “Just Kids”, so “April Fool” is an apt song for her in that aspect.

“Blood For Poppies” by Garbage: Hmmmm…don’t exactly know what qualifies this song as “adult alternative” since it’s a rather dark song that combines grunge with techno, but for some weird reason it’s gotten airplay on so many adult alt stations by now, that I thought I’d give it a go and review this one! For old school Garbage fans, this has gotta be quite a treat! “Blood For Poppies” doesn’t have the techno-pop sound of “Stupid Girl” or the bittersweet alt-pop sound of their biggest hit, “Special”, but rather the angst-ridden, Nirvana-goes-dance-pop sound of songs like “Only Happy When It Rains” and “I Think I’m Paranoid”, and it seems like that is the sound Garbage’s fans like the most from their catalog. The lyrics seem rather haphazardly thrown together, and the song itself does too, to a certain extent, but it’s things like that which prove that Garbage’s music…wel…ISN’T “garbage”!!

“Settle Down” by Kimbra: Now that Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” has become such a huge hit, there are probably enough people who know that the song featured a “guest” female vocalist during the last verse. This, ladies and gentlemen, is that very female vocalist, and this time without the aid of Gotye! So how does Kimbra fare on her own?! She does so quite well, if I do say so myself. “Settle Down” comes off as a song with a minor key “alternative” take on contemporary female R & B musicians (mixed with Bobby McFerrin-style “instruments” at the beginning). The video for “Settle Down” is also very inventive and quirky. It appears to take place in a fake “dollhouse” of sorts. It also shows what a cutie (and good dancer) Kimbra is! The video for “Settle Down” can be viewed here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHV04eSGzAA)

“The Wolves” by Ben Howard: The latest in a long line of people that could be considered the “new Nick Drake” (Damien Rice, Iron & Wine, and Jose Gonzalez among them), Ben Howard’s debut song fits only two verses (with a six-line chorus between each verse) into a nearly 5 minute space, with a “running” drumbeat accompanying urgent acoustic guitar strumming. “The Wolves”’ urgency peaks once Ben’s vocals quiver into an unusual yet memorable trill in the middle, and towards the end of the song. Like many songs of the “singer/songwriter” subgenre, “The Wolves”’ lyrical content can be interpreted in multiple ways. In particular, the song’s refrain of “We lost faith, in the arms of love”, could be about struggles with religion just as much as it could be about struggles with a relationship.

“Tongue Tied” by Grouplove: A growing trend in indie/alt music seems to be combining the singsong melodies and technology used in dance-pop with rock attitude and instrumentation. Few songs today illustrate this trend better than Grouplove’s song “Tongue Tied”, with its almost bubble-gum-y, stick-in-your-head chorus that hides a capoed acoustic guitar beneath all its glitz and glamour. It’s easy to mistake this song for just another Top 40 hit at first (in fact I’m surprised it hasn’t even made the “Hot Adult Contemporary” charts yet!) but there does seem to be SOMETHING “indie” about it nonetheless (perhaps the similarity it bears to an indie/dance-pop crossover from around 5 years earlier, “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’” by Scissor Sisters). I guess if you want to impress people both on the dance floor and at coffeehouses, playing Grouplove’s “Tongue Tied” would be a good way to do so!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

New songs for April 4th, 2012

here they are:

"Are You Gonna Waste My Time?" by Zeus: Just the very name of the mighty Greek god of thunder probably brings to mind, musically, the name of a heavy metal band, or perhaps a progressive rock band, probably from somewhere in Europe, like Norway or Germany. Surprise! Zeus, in this case, are a Canadian indie rock band, whose sound probably wouldn't be too out of place on a classic rock (or oldies) station. Traces of songs like The Faces' "Stay With Me" and The Rolling Stones' "Can't You Hear Me Knockin'?" can be heard throughout "Are You Gonna Waste My Time?", and even the lead vocalist sounds somewhat like a young Rod Stewart. With The White Stripes and The Black Keys making the '70s rock sound cool again, I'm thinkin' Zeus oughta be next on the bandwagon!

"Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)" by Regina Spektor: The quirky, red-haired, doe-eyed indie-pop-ster known as Regina Spektor takes her musical influences a step further than she usually does in her latest song, "Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)" (the French words in parentheses literally translate to "don't leave me"). Instead of the typical piano-pop sound Regina offers in most of her songs, we are treated to a delectable mix of synths, bass, and muted trumpets! The fact that this is a rather bubbly, free spirited take on a typically sad song that was originally performed by Belgian-born French composer Jacques Brel only makes me like this song even more! Was waiting for Regina to release a new CD for a couple years. Now that she has, I must say, I'm quite pleased with the results so far!

"Headlights" by Morning Parade: Sound-wise, there is nothing particularly special about this song, as it basically sounds like a cross between The Killers and Kings of Leon, two great bands that have somehow spawned a legion of second and third rate imitators. I like this song anyway, though. I guess that's partly because I've become accustomed to the sound that songs like this one have. The lyrics to the first line in the chorus ("like a rabbit in your headlights") provide particularly interesting imagery for me, though. Morning Parade's lead singer is probably just referring to the feeling of being surprised or dumbfounded, but for some reason, I still like that line.

"New Ceremony" by Dry the River: Even before "New Ceremony" hit the adult alt airwaves (which was quite recently), Dry the River were heavily hyped because of their performances they had at indie rock showcase, South By Southwest (better known by its acronym, "SXSW"). Upon hearing "New Ceremony" for the first time, it's not hard to see why they were so talked about! Though it has the typical Arcade Fire/Mumford and Sons/Decemberists type sound, it also plays with chord structure in a suspenseful way that has only been used in a handful of songs in rock/pop history (most notably Eddie Money's "Baby Hold On" and Barenaked Ladies' "It's All Been Done"). Its quiet-to-loud dynamics seem to borrow from the grunge era, but they are presented here in a more orchestral manner than a heavily distorted one. "New Ceremony"'s lyrical combinations of religious imagery (phrases like "angel of doubt" and verses like "I named you like a prayer", for instance), and its general theme of regrets about a relationship also make this song well worth listening to. Highly recommended!

"One Engine" by The Decemberists: Not planning on seeing (or reading) "The Hunger Games", but for those who are interested in knowing, The Decemberists' latest song, "One Engine" was made specifically for the soundtrack of that movie. The lyrics of the song seem to center around how dismal and violent having a competitive nature can be, which seems fitting for a movie about violence and competition. Musically, this is an interesting leap back for The Decemberists, who seemed to be focusing on honing more traditional, rustic, folk-y sounds into their music for the past couple years. "One Engine" sounds more like The Smiths (particularly "Bigmouth Strikes Again"), and would probably be much more at home on their 2006 CD "The Crane Wife", than it would on their 2010 release, "The King Is Dead". The Smiths are one of The Decemberists' biggest influences, though, so perhaps they're trying to pay them more homage here.