here they are:
"Cherokee" by Cat Power: Chan Marshall, better known by her stage name "Cat Power", is a musician whose range of musical experimentation is both as unusual and as memorable as her moniker. Having dabbled in a unique blend of jazz, folk, and rock for her last two albums, Cat Power has now taken on a new musical direction, somewhat reminiscent of Patti Smith's material from the late '70s and '80s. "Cherokee" is a haunting, stark song that also manages to be catchy with a steady drumbeat pulsating in a lively manner through otherwise sad, gloomy instrumentation and yearning, passionate vocals.
"History's Door" by Husky: Contemporary folk-rock quartet Husky manage to stand out among the increasingly large amount of similar sounding bands to themselves in their breakthrough song, "History's Door", though this is primarily through the rhythmic patterns of this song. The first minute or so of "History's Door" is fingerpicked, almost like a pre-rock folk song, but after that minute, the drums and various other background instruments kick in, altering the rhythm slightly and giving the song a bit more of a "rock" flavor (though, again, this is through rhythm, and not through amplification). Another distinguishing factor about Husky (whose lead singer, Husky Gawenda, just happens to be the namesake of the band), is their country of origin. You might think they come from either Britain, Canada, or else some mountainous or forest-y area of the U.S., but they are actually Australian! "History's Door" has become Husky's first big hit for a couple reasons. First off, it was produced by Noah Georgeson (who has also produced music for indie darlings such as Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart) in Los Angeles, and not long afterwards, the track was entered into a contest for Aussie radio station station, Triple-J Radio, and it WON!! Talk about your unlikely success stories!
"Jericho" by Rufus Wainwright: Perhaps the song "Out of the Game" was a fluke (albeit a successful one) in the Rufus Wainwright catalog. The George Harrison-esque folk-rock sound of that song provided a contrast between just about every other song Rufus had ever done, and that includes his latest song to get noticed, "Jericho", which marks a return to the folk-meets-cabaret sound he's become known for. Guitar is still present on "Jericho", but it serves as merely a backing instrument here for the most part, in comparison to the pianos, brass instruments, and classical string instruments that dominate the song. Like most of Rufus's songs, "Jericho" has major key verses and a minor key chorus (which resolves back into major shortly afterwards). Not terribly different from most of his material, but the structure of his songs is memorable and lively enough to be charming, and that's what Rufus's fans (including myself) like the most about his music!
"Lay Down" by Alberta Cross: Their name might bring to mind the country of Canada, yet Alberta Cross's best-known song so far is the roots-y, American sounding "Old Man Chicago" (with their second best known one being the defiant, British rock sounding "Money For the Weekend"). So what now for the New York band with a Canadian sounding name?! Well, more British sounding rock, in this case! But more like the sweeping, epic grandeur of songs like Oasis' "Champagne Supernova" this time around than their previous attempt at British influenced rock (the Stones-y "Money For the Weekend"). The similarity between this song and "Champagne Supernova" doesn't end with how dynamic the guitars sound, since even the distortion of the lead guitar here sounds like it was stolen from Noel Gallagher! Thankfully, though, "Lay Down" isn't a "word salad" song like "Champagne Supernova" was. Instead, the lyrics actually mean something here (i.e. "And I'm trying to live my life in a better way").
"One More" by Jimmy Cliff: When American audiences mention the words "reggae" and "legend" in the same sentence, they are probably referring to Bob Marley. They tend to forget there was another reggae musician recording around the same time Marley was that also became successful in the U.S., and that musician was Jimmy Cliff. Save for a cover of The Clash's "The Guns of Brixton" that Cliff did with Rancid's Tim Armstrong last year, Cliff hasn't had a hit song since the 1970's, so I was surprised (but pleasantly so) to hear he was going to come out with a new song! The upbeat, almost party-like nature of "One More" is closer to ska than it is to reggae, but Cliff still manages to deliver a memorable performance on the song, with a sizzling, simmery sound that has come out just in time for all the latest beach parties and pool parties!
"What Makes A Good Man" by The Heavy: "The Heavy" fits the name of this band well, since they have such a dynamic, unforgettable presence in their music! With a sound that combines the blues-y garage rock of The Black Keys with '70s funk music a la Sly and The Family Stone, The Heavy are pretty much MADE of hit-making material for the 2010's!! The song is mostly defined by its simple but catchy chorus ("Tell me now, and show me how, please understand, what makes a good man"!) Not a lot of depth to the lyrics here, but there doesn't have to be, in this case, because the appeal of "What Makes A Good Man" is in the groove and the spirit of the song! So sit back, relax, and stay groovy! Also, to me, the answer to "what makes a good man?" is talent, which The Heavy have plenty of!!