here they are:
"Anyone Else" by The Fixx: Whoa, hold up a second!! You mean the same guys who did "One Thing Leads to Another"?! Yep, that's right! A new wave band that hasn't had a hit in over 20 years is coming back to the spotlight with a song that sounds uncannily like one of their vintage '80s tunes! One aspect of The Fixx that made them so appealing in the '80s was their ability to mix catchy hooks with dark, post-apocalyptic lyrical themes (as evidenced on "Saved By Zero", "Red Skies", and "Stand Or Fall"), and the cynical lyrical themes continue to surface in "Anyone Else" (i.e. "The jealous cursed, crashed and burned, the unaccountable way to die"). The one thing missing from "Anyone Else" that I was hoping to hear, though, was Cy Curnin's rather underrated, but still incredibly talented guitar solo techniques. At the heart of some of The Fixx's older songs were funky, driving guitar riffs ("Saved By Zero"), and sometimes, more complex solos driven by hammer-ons and pull-offs ("Red Skies"). "Anyone Else" has no defining guitar hook or solo, sadly, though guitar playing is still present on the song. Other than that, though, this is quite a stunning comeback from a band that I never thought I'd hear recording music in the 21st century!!
"Born To" by Jesca Hoop: Born to...what?! Run?! Be wild?! Nope, just "Born To". And yeah, "Jesca" is not a typo, that's the way she spells her name. Jesca Hoop's music is, perhaps, as unique as the unusual spelling of her first name, with her seemingly effortless combination of Celtic, folk, and indie-pop. The title of the song, "Born To", is somewhat of a cliffhanger title, as she never actually answers what it is she's "born to" do, but it seems as though much of the song is lyrically enigmatic (take, for instance, the refrain, "Now you've got to get in with what you've got, what you've been given, or not". Huh?!) But Jesca manages to combine her quirky sound (and quirkier lyrics) with a catchy, danceable beat, and an oddly endearing sense of energetic satisfaction in her vocal delivery. So sit back, relax, enjoy the music, and know that we were born to...ummm....something, I'll get to that part later.
"I'm Shakin'" by Jack White: The sweet folk-rock of Jack's "Love Interruption" from earlier this year could be contrasted by "I'm Shakin'", a smoky, blues-y rocker that's actually a cover of a song from bluesman Little Willie John. The opening guitar hook of this song initially reminded me a bit of the "Mr. Heatmiser" song from one of the Rankin-Bass claymation holiday specials (of all things!!), but now that I know this is a cover song, I'm thinking that the same type of hook was probably used on the original version and has nothing to do with imaginary singing Christmas characters. Until Jack gets to using his trademark guitar sound during the solo of "I'm Shakin'", it's a song that sounds like it could have very well been from the late '60s/early '70s, which is not surprising given how much into that era of music he seems to be. The best thing of all about this song, though, is how he pronounces the word "nervous" as "noivus", seemingly on poipose...ummm...I mean on "purpose"!! There's such an "I-meant-to-do-that" factor behind his pronunciation of that word that it just cracks me up!!
"Into the Wild" by LP: "Into the Wild" sounds like it might as well belong on the soundtrack to "Into the Wild" (that is, if Florence Welch sang all the songs on the soundtrack instead of Eddie Vedder). Its attention isn't getting garnered by trailers for movies, though, but instead by advertisements for Citibank. Lyrically, "Into the Wild" (the song) is a lot closer to, well, "Into the Wild" (the movie). Both the movie and the song deal with escaping from the pressures of society, so it's ironic that a major corporation like Citibank is using the song in its commercials. With "Into the Wild"'s yearning, urgent questions of "How do we not fade?" and "How do we live?" in regards to the human condition, as well as its sweeping, largely acoustic guitar based sound, I really do think "Into the Wild" would have been a perfect fit for the "Into the Wild" soundtrack if it included musicians other than Eddie Vedder!
"It's Only Life" by The Shins: It figures that the first single off The Shins's latest CD would be a dynamic, rocking one, and it took until the SECOND single for The Shins to get back to their trademark laid-back, folk-rock-y sound. If there's something catchy from a musician or band that normally isn't, it seems to be a surefire radio hit, and such was the case with "Simple Song". "It's Only Life" is more of a typical Shins song, musically. Lyrically, this song provides an interesting contrast to The Shins' typically weird lyrics. The lyrics to "It's Only Life" are still wrapped up in metaphor, but they're easier to understand than, say, "New Slang" or "Phantom Limb". For instance, one phrase from "It's Only Life", "we all spend a little while going down the rabbit hole", refers to how everyone has his/her "down days", and "you used to be such a lion, before you got into all this cryin'", points out how we might not be as "tough" as we would like to think we are. But in the chorus, James Mercer assures us that "It doesn't have to be so dark and lonesome", and that "It takes a while but we can figure this thing out and turn it back around", shining a light through the darkness of the rest of the song. In a world of weird and weary indie rock, this song manages to be wistful and wonderful!
"New Wild Everywhere" by Great Lake Swimmers: With their combination of folk, rock, country, and the hippie spirit in both their sound and their words, Great Lake Swimmers are likely musical descendants of groups like The Band and The Flying Burrito Brothers. The phrase "new wild everywhere" itself is rather hippie-ish, taken from the chorus of the song ("there's a new wild feeling dancing in the air/there's a new wild everywhere"). If a "new wild feeling dancing in the air" wasn't enough for you, there are plenty of samples of phrases from the first verse of the song ("Colors burning brighter, hunger for the spark"), to the last ("Fly up to the heavens, anchored in the clouds/Fly beyond the night, love the blooming sounds"), that just burst with the spirit of the '60s! Whether you've just come back from a nature walk, or you're looking for something to meditate to in a flower garden, or you just want the spirit of song to soothe and satisfy your soul, "New Wild Everywhere" is the perfect "peace and love" song for the 2010's!