Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New songs for August 29th, 2012

here they are:

"Duquesne Whistle" by Bob Dylan: Bob Dylan was a master at blending the acoustic guitars and storytelling aspects of folk music with the driving beat of rock music in the 1960's and '70s. After that, he seemed to have dropped off the face of the Earth for about 20 years, and once the 21st century came around, Dylan found a new genre to blend rock 'n' roll with - the blues (makes sense considering that the blues was a dominant influence on rock music). The swingin' "Someday Baby" and the almost Latin-tinged "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'" are among Dylan's blues-y gems from within the past 10 years, and it looks like his latest song, "Duquesne Whistle" (pronounced DOO-kain) is about to join the ranks of those songs! There seems to be a bit of jazz and shuffle influence in "Duquesne Whistle" as well. "Listen to that Duquesne whistle blowin'", Dylan creakily croons during the song's refrain. We hear the whistle blowin', Bob. The whistle of creativity, that is!!

"The Way It Is" by The Sheepdogs: The Sheepdogs made the cover of a "Rolling Stone" issue back when they were barely known, about a couple months ago from what I recall. I can see why people wanted them on the cover, though, since their debut single, "The Way It Is" proves the 'Dogs to be Canada's answer to The Black Keys!! Their sound is just a couple notches heavier than The Keys, actually, recalling the juicy hard rock of Led Zeppelin at certain times. The lyrics are a bit repetitive ("Everything's the way it is, that's got to be the way it is"), but The Sheepdogs aren't a band whose main focus is writing songs. Their main goal is getting people to rock out like it's 1971 all over again, and they do a mighty fine job at it, I must say!!

"We're Alright Now" by John Hiatt: John Hiatt could be called the male Bonnie Raitt (Bonnie even covered Hiatt's song "Thing Called Love" on her breakthrough record, "Nick of Time"). Like Bonnie, John spent much of the '70s, '80s, and '90s alternating between blues-y rocker and folks-y singer/songwriter. Hiatt continued recording many records in the 2000's as well, but those just didn't have the same flavor as his material from previous decades did. With "We're Alright Now" (and his song from last year, "D*mn This Town", which I sadly overlooked at the time), though, it appears as though Hiatt is getting back up on his feet again, by adding a somewhat John Mellencamp-ish roots-rock sound back into his repertoire! "We're Alright Now" also boasts a stick-in-your-head hook and catchy, memorable chorus, so much so, that it might just end up sounding like the best classic rock song you've never heard!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New songs for August 22nd, 2012

here they are:

"Heart of Rhythm" by Ryan Bingham: Much like Grace Potter before him, Ryan Bingham is a former country/pop-rock musician that wanted to turn up his amps once his sophomore album came around. And boy, does he ever!! Never expected Ryan to pound out a rock 'n' roll anthem influenced by the likes of Chuck Berry, and The Rolling Stones, among others, but he does so on "Heart of Rhythm" with reckless abandon and passionate enthusiasm! During the song's chorus, Ryan proclaims he has a "heart full of rhythm and rock 'n' roll". If I hadn't heard this song I don't think I would have believed him. But now I do! More than I ever would have expected to!!

"Magpie" by Beth Orton: On the flipside of the pounding electric guitars and racing drums of the only other song I have for this week is the quieter, more soothing sound of Beth Orton, a brilliant singer and songwriter whose music combines the bittersweet folk-rock of Joni Mitchell and the ethereal electro-pop of Annie Lennox. Beth seemed to have a steady flow of three albums between the late '90s and mid 2000's. After 2005, though, Beth Orton's fans were left Beth Orton-less for 7 years. Until now, that is!! "Magpie" is a song whose lyrics evoke nature, particularly birds (magpies, crows, and blue jays are all mentioned in the song), and whose sound seems like it might as well have come from a bird, with Beth's sweet voice, and instrumentation consisting of both acoustic guitars and a lovely string section. Welcome back, Beth! Missed you madly for many years!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New songs for August 15th, 2012

here they are:

"Do It Anyway" by Ben Folds Five: Ben Folds and his "Five" (actually just two other people) are like what a cynical, sarcastic version of Elton John might be like, in that they are known for their soft, sensitive side, but occasionally they can dabble in other more energetic material as well. "Do It Anyway" is an example of the BF5's more energetic side. The typical Folds deadpan factor is here as well, as he talks about various troublesome situations, but urges the listener to "do it anyway", without a lot of sincerity attached to the statement. Folds does break from his deadpan-ness in the middle of the song to sing that he "used to not like (the subject of the song), but now (he) thinks (he/she)'s o...KAAYYYY-yeah-yeah-yeah!!!", with the "kay" part of the word "okay" marking the exact point that Ben not only creates a brief shift in the mood of the song, but also the only part of "Do It Anyway" in which he lets out a somewhat Dave Grohl-ish "scream".

"Spectrum (Say My Name)" by Florence and The Machine: For those thrown off by the "Say My Name" part of the title of the song, let me assure you that, no, Florence has NOT gone the way of Beyonce! However, this song does have a bit more disco influence than most of Flo's material. I don't know of any actual disco songs with harps in them (and especially not one with a harp SOLO), though, so "Spectrum (Say My Name)" is a song that is in Flo's own unique style! The word "spectrum" does not appear in the chorus of the song, but there are quite a few references to color throughout it, (such as "as every color illuminates, we are shining"). Funny to think that one of the stations I know of that spins Florence and The Machine's music is CALLED "The Spectrum". I can only wonder what they would think of playing a song whose name is the same as their own station!!

"Stubborn Love" by The Lumineers: So where do The Lumineers go from the surprise success of the folks-y but catchy "Ho Hey"?! Well, with another folks-y but catchy song! Well, kind of. The folks-y part of The Lumes' latest song, "Stubborn Love", is definitely there, but it is mostly a minor key song with darker lyrics (even the opening lyrics, "She'll lie and steal and cheat, and beg you from her knees, and make you think she means it this time", prove this). In its own way, though, "Stubborn Love" IS catchy, since it has a strong enough backbeat, though not nearly in the same way "Ho Hey" was. The instrumentation here is slightly reminiscent of Bob Dylan's "Hurricane", especially the cello part, though the percussion here is more light tambourines than heavy drums (which brings about yet another Dylan connection - he DID sing about a "Tambourine Man", didn't he?!)

"This Gift" by Glen Hansard: I don't think I've known an Irishman so far with more success in both music AND movies than Glen Hansard! He first became noticed with the bittersweet ballad "Falling Slowly" from the indie flick, "Once", and now, Glen has yet another song from a movie soundtrack, although this time it is the more family friendly (but still quirky) film, "The Odd Life of Timothy Green". "This Gift" is probably the most amazing song I've heard from Glen SINCE "Falling Slowly", actually. Glen proves here that with just two chords, he can still pull at the ol' heartstrings! The harmonizing vocals backing Glen up on "This Gift" only make it even more memorable! It is never mentioned what exactly the "gift" in the song is, but one could probably easily imagine that it is love, or perhaps even life itself. Whatever it is, though, "This Gift" still makes for quite a memorable song!

"Yet Again" by Grizzly Bear: Taking our only detour into electric guitar oriented music for the week (with a post-psychedelic flavor, in this case), Grizzly Bear reach new heights of both intriguing and weird with "Yet Again". Much like how they did with "Sleeping Ute" merely a month ago, The Grizzlies continue to push the indie envelope with "Yet Again". The song features a rather complex chord structure in comparison to most contemporary bands/songs with the "indie" label, and by the time "Yet Again" gets to its last minute, it dissolves into a swirly noise-fest in which it becomes trickier to tell which chords are being used. In a world full of Byrds-y and Simon-and-Garfunkel-ish bands, Grizzly Bear want to be like the Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd, or perhaps an even more exotic band like King Crimson.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New songs for August 8th, 2012

here they are:

"Give A Little" by Everest: The second song to get attention from indie-pop band Everest, "Give A Little" doesn't have the funky, catchy factor of their previous single, "Let Go", but the unique chord progression of "Give A Little" makes it a memorable song for me to listen to. Some guitar solos are added into the second verse to give "Give A Little" even more of a distinct flavor than it already has. Nothing particularly special about this song lyrically, but the fact that Everest can deliver a song with with more than four chords in only two verses with a sticks-in-your-head hook prove that they can "give" more than just "a little" when they want to carve out a solid song!

"I Will Wait" by Mumford and Sons: More like "I CAN'T Wait"!!! And, really, I can't!! M & S were talking about making a new CD ever since November of last year, and I thought it would come pretty soon after that. The folk-rock quartet teased us with a cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer" earlier this year, but that was not on any of their CD's (it was actually a track they lent their vocals to by bluegrass musician Jerry Douglas). So I had to wait 10 long months for Mumford and Sons to release a follow up to their debut CD, "Sigh No More". At long last the wait is over!! The question is, was it worth all that waiting?! Yes, it was!! The band's signature style of delicate harmonies and intense but refreshing banjo playing is 100 % present on "I Will Wait"! Marcus, Ben, Ted, and Winston don't stray a bit from what made people like them initially on this song. They even add muted trumpets in for good measure towards the end of the track like they did on "The Cave" and "Winter Winds". I'm almost too sure this will end up as one of my Top 20 Songs of 2012 come December!! We'll see, though.

"Old Friend" by Sea Wolf: Sea Wolf were a band I almost got to see back when they weren't even a well-known band among "indie" audiences, so I feel a special connection to their music whenever I hear it! At their core, Sea Wolf are a folk-rock group, but they have tied in quite a bit of "outside" influences in their songs, like the Elliott Smith/Jeff Buckley type sound they had for "You're A Wolf", as well as the much brighter, more orchestral, Arcade Fire type sound they had for "Wicked Blood". For SW's third major song, "Old Friend", they dress up their folk-rock guitar sound with shimmering electric guitars in the background, and a "soft electronic" sound in the drums, a la Imogen Heap or Beach House. "Old Friend" almost feels like a "You're A Wolf" rewrite in some ways, with its stark instrumentation, bittersweet vocals, and even its E minor key, but in other ways, it stands out. For instance, there is no violin or cello sound on "Old Friend" (though that sound was present on both "You're A Wolf" and "Wicked Blood"). Instead, Sea Wolf opt for an echoic but relaxing electric guitar distortion for "Old Friend". Overall, though, "Old Friend" is an impressive song, like most of Sea Wolf's material tends to be.

"Splitter" by Calexico: Calexico could be described as a band that (kind of) sound like their name. "Calexico" is a portmanteau of "California" and "Mexico", and a lot of Calexico's songs tend to sound like a cross between Americana (roots-y country-rock type material), and mariachi band music. Their latest song, "Splitter", is no exception. It has a more upbeat, somewhat surf music type vibe than most of their songs do, but still, the acoustic guitars and muted trumpets that tend to define Calexico's songs are present on "Splitter". It's one of those songs that would fit equally well with traveling down a freeway or traveling to the beach!

"That's What's Up" by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros: In "That's What's Up", Alex, Jade, and the rest of The Magnetic Zeros do what they do best, combine the easygoing, sing-song vibes of children's music with those similar vibes of psychedelic pop music. Even the opening lyrics of "You be the church, I'll be the steeple, You be the king, I'll be the people", sound vaguely like the sort of lyrics that a children's performer like Raffi might come up with. The faux-cutesy lyrical pattern of "That's What's Up" continues throughout the song ("You be the words I'll be the rhyming"). Ed and The Zeros seem like they already made "Home" their signature song upon their debut, but if "That's What's Up" becomes more popular than it is, it could be the next "1234" (the song by Feist that goes "1, 2, 3, 4, tell me that you love me more...")!! Nothing wrong with that, after all, Paul McCartney also toyed with the idea of children's music in "All Together Now" ("1, 2, 3, 4, can I have a little more? 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, I love you", etc.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New songs for August 1st, 2012

here they are:

"Charmer" by Aimee Mann: Just a mere 3 years ago, Aimee Mann released a song called "Freeway", which was more of a country-pop song than that of Aimee's usual style of quirky, vaguely Beatlesque power pop. Thankfully, "Charmer" marks a return to Aimee's signature musical style! Aimee's sense of subtle sarcasm is also present on "Charmer" ("when you're a charmer, you hate yourself"). The goofy yet irresistible synths on "Charmer" are also likely to draw its listeners in. To sum it all up, "Charmer" lives up to its name. It has "charmed" me into listening to it more, and it has also restored my musical faith in Aimee Mann!

"I Am Not Waiting Anymore" by Field Report: Fans of Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, and Iron & Wine will probably like the melancholy but gentle folk-rock flavor of Field Report. Their debut song, "I Am Not Waiting Anymore", definitely puts the emphasis on the melancholy part in terms of the lyrics. The raspy vocals of Field Report's lead singer seems to double the emotion in this already emotional song. My favorite part of "I Am Not Waiting Anymore" is probably in the final verse, in which Field Report's singer talks about how he has spent "8 long years, working on (his) screenplay", and how that screenplay is a "teen movie with young actresses that plays to the middle ages". Somehow the description of this "movie" cracks me up!! It sounds almost like the typical indie film, which would be quite fitting considering this is an indie song!

"Meth Lab Zoso Sticker" by 7Horse: Earlier this year, 7Horse gave us one of the spiciest, catchiest, most rockin' songs of the year with "Low Fuel Drug Run". Now, the roots-rockers known as 7Horse are back with another '70s rock throwback with "Meth Lab Zoso Sticker", of which even the title references classic rock ("Zoso" is what the runes on the cover of Led Zeppelin's 4th album spell out). The lyrics of "Meth Lab Zoso Sticker" are sung so fast, it almost feels like they're rapped, even though they're not. The chug-along rhythm and Lynyrd Skynyrd-esque guitar riffs evoke images of a truck barreling along the freeway as much as they do a car commercial. To top off the classic rock homages in "Meth Lab Zoso Sticker", 7Horse's lead singer even lets out a Steve Miller-esque "Woo-hoo!" during the chorus a couple times!

"Outta My System" by My Morning Jacket: The fifth song to get noticed so far from My Morning Jacket's CD "Circuital" (which is over a year old by now) is "Outta My System". MMJ have ran the gamut on "Circuital", with their unique attempts at straight ahead rock ("Holdin' On to Black Metal"), psychedelia ("You Wanna Freak Out"), jazz-rock ("First Light"), and bittersweet folk-rock ("Wonderful [The Way I Feel]"). So with all that musical diversity already tackled on one CD, what have Jim James and the boys thought up next?!? Well, "Outta My System" is a song that combines the harmonies and instrumentation of a "Pet Sounds" type song with shimmering country influenced guitar riffs. The combination described might sound a bit uneven, but it works out spectacularly, creating a soaring, winsome song as a result! MMJ continue to impress me immensely with "Outta My System", and I look forward to knowing what they'll come up with next!!

"Underwater" by Joshua Radin: Ahh, Joshua Radin! One of those musicians I've always found to have a wistful, yet crisp and solid sound! "Underwater" adds a dimension to Radin's music that I haven't previously seen (although then again I don't know that many songs by him), and that is a side of whimsy! The song basically seems to be about how, in times of trouble, Joshua Radin's preferred way of escaping is "underwater", seemingly the opposite of "Up On the Roof" (although that song is about the same thing, escaping from the pressures of everyday life). The bittersweet vibe and universally relatable subject matter of "Underwater" already draws the listener in, but the appeal of the song builds up midway through when a sweeping string orchestra joins in with the acoustic guitar leading the song along. "Underwater" only makes me want to rise above the water, and into my imagination to see where it takes me when I listen to this song!

"(Won't Be) Coming Home" by Robert Cray: This song might be from 2012, but it still sounds like it's from another time when Robert Cray's slick, polished brand of blues-rock competed with rock 'n' roll giants like Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
"(Won't Be) Coming Home" seems to dabble in the nostalgia of Robert Cray's original sound, with a full band backing him and Clapton-esque guitar riffs throughout the song. Cray did release an album midway through the 2000's, but its sound was more earthy and organic. I was hoping Robert Cray would continue with that sound in
"(Won't Be) Coming Home", but instead, he opts for a sound that is halfway between blues and 1980's classic rock. Nevertheless, though, "(Won't Be) Coming Home" is still worth listening to, even if it is just for its surprisingly throwback-ish sound.

"Would That Not Be Nice?" by Divine Fits: Anyone who mistakes "Would That Not Be Nice?" for being the latest song from Spoon has a good reason to do so. It not only sounds like a Spoon song, but its band, Divine Fits, is also the side project of Spoon's lead singer, Britt Daniels. "Would That Not Be Nice?" is also a song that sounds bright enough and catchy enough to be a summertime anthem! The quirkiness of the typical Spoon song is evident in both the song and the lyrics (particularly the added alliterative appeal of the verse where Britt sings about a "cup of coffee" and a "candleabra from California"). Just when you thought this song couldn't get any quirkier, Britt pulls a "false ending" on us towards the end of "Would That Not Be Nice?", with about a minute extra of just instrumental jammin'. "Would That Not Be Nice?" Yes, it WOULD be "nice"!!