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 naïve 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!