Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New songs for September 26th, 2012

here they are:

"Blood Red Youth" by California Wives: California Wives are a band whose name does not indicate who they are. They are neither from California (they are Chicagoans) nor are they wives (all the members are dudes). Their sound recalls the best gloomy but shimmering alt-rock from days of yore, particularly groups like The Cure and Radiohead, though the chugging, anthemic nature of "Blood Red Youth" is probably closer to groups like U2. Lyrically, "Blood Red Youth" is very angst-ridden and detached, (esp. the opening words to the second verse, "When information's out and your head's full of light/And they serve you a drink, like you hope they might") which seems to fit the mood of the song itself. Not since the days of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and "How Soon Is Now?" has depression sounded so powerful in a song!!

"If Only" by Dave Matthews Band: In "If Only", DMB continues in the direction of the bittersweet folk-rock of their previous single, the massively successful "Mercy". Unlike "Mercy", though, "If Only" deals with more personal problems, rather than being a cry for help to the whole world. "If Only" seems to be about Dave being afraid to admit the insecurities he had in whatever relationship he was in at the time he wrote this song. Quite an interesting turnaround for Mr. Matthews, who used to be quite the seducer (as evidenced by his two biggest hits, "Crash Into Me" and "Crush"). Guess that means Dave is growing up. Not a bad thing, though, especially since he is able to keep up his trademark jazzy folk-rock sound even without his former sax player LeRoi Moore.

"Land of Hope and Dreams" by Bruce Springsteen: Considering that The Boss's birthday was just a couple days ago, it seems like my review for his latest song, "Land of Hope and Dreams" has come right on time! At six and a half minutes, this song seems like it would be one of Bruce's more "epic" tracks. It might not be "Jungleland" or "Born to Run", but I can tell that Bruce put a lot of thought and effort into "Land of Hope and Dreams". Aside from the almost Mumford-and-Sons-ish "Death to My Hometown", "Land of Hope and Dreams" is probably my favorite song The Boss has done in 2012!! Although it is a political song lyrically, like pretty much every song on his latest CD, "Land of Hope and Dreams" is a more uplifiting, almost spiritual composition in comparison to the angst and dissatisfaction on songs like, say, "We Take Care of Our Own". This song is well worth the listen, I say!

"Mountain Sound" by Of Monsters and Men: Iceland's answer to Mumford and Sons had one of the most successful songs of late last year and the early to middle parts of this year with the surprisingly catchy "Little Talks". So how do OMAM follow it up?! With the similarly Celtic folk-rock-y song "Mountain Sound", which, like "Little Talks", also brings to mind older folk-rockers like The Mamas and The Papas, with its vocal section being traded off between the male singers and female singers of the band. Having never heard any successful Icelanders in the music world aside from Bjork, I have to say that OMAM sound more like they're from Ireland (or perhaps Scotland) than Iceland. The lyrics of the song, which include phrases like, "Alone we traveled on nothing but a shadow", as well as the chorus's "Through the woods we ran, deep into the mountain sound", almost seem like they'd be quite fitting in a movie like "Brave", since it both centers around epic adventure and takes place (largely) in a European woodland area.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New songs for September 19th, 2012

here they are:

"Ain't Messin' Around" by Gary Clark Jr.: Does Gary Clark Jr. have his own schedule or something?! His juicy, blues-rock song "Bright Lights" came out LAST September, and now he's releasing a song in September AGAIN?!? Was this on purpose?! Well, perhaps not, but what is on purpose is Mr. Clark Jr.'s solid delivery of jazz, blues, and rock wrapped up into one tasty slice of music! Coachella's best (and so far, only) bluesman boasts a riff in E major similar to INXS's "New Sensation", only with cleaner distortion and more saxophone backing it up in "Ain't Messin' Around". Bottom line is, when Gary says he "Ain't Messin' Around", you'd better believe him!!

"Change" by Churchill: Somehow, the name of this band doesn't exactly paint an accurate picture of who they really are. I would think that "Churchill" would be a folks-y band with a male lead singer. It's not! It's actually a slick alt-pop group with a female lead singer! Nothing particularly special about this song, as far as I can see, except for how bouncy and danceable it is. Churchill's lead singer is also pretty good at what she does. However, I could easily see "Change" being written off by some as a "Gwen Stefani lite" song. Not bad, but there have definitely been better songs for 2012, as far as I'm concerned.

"Disappear" by Patterson Hood: Supposedly, Patterson's band, Drive-By Truckers, used to have a "jam band" element to their music. However, his two best known songs so far, this one and the Truckers' "Everybody Needs Love", are both more like moody brands of country-rock than jam band music. "Disappear" delves even further into the country-rock subgenre. Where "Everybody Needs Love" at least had a guitar solo, "Disappear" does not. However, given what a bittersweet song "Disappear" is, both lyrically and musically, I don't think it needs one. The violins in the background already provide enough instrumentation for "Disappear" to tug at the heartstrings. A line in the middle of the song, ("Simply disappear, and vanish into thin air, sometimes it's better to just not be there") defines "Disappear" pretty well. It is a song about escaping the pressures of everyday socialization. Though we are social creatures, I think we all feel like escaping from that every once in a while, and Patterson Hood echoes this sentiment quite well!

"Home" by Phillip Phillips: Typically, when "American Idol" goes in a rock direction, it's usually hard rock, as Bo Bice, Chris Daughtry, and James Durbin would all be willing to tell you. It isn't usually folk-rock. Thankfully, Phillip Phillips has proved to be an exception to this. Though I'm not an "Idol" viewer by any means, I must say that I am impressed by Mr. Phillips. "Home" is a song that is influenced by people like The Dave Matthews Band, though it has a more Mumford-esque sound than that as far as I'm concerned. It really does not sound like a typical "Idol" song at all!! There is no big band or production sound backing it up. Just Phillip, his acoustic guitar, backing vocalists, and a light percussion section (and later, a keyboard section). Who knows, perhaps Phillip will start a trend of indie/folk influenced musicians on "American Idol", which would make it a much more watchable show for me! But if not, he'll be remembered as the one participant who made one of the most mainstream shows in American pop culture seem more indie, if only for a moment!

"Little Lizzie Mae" by The Chris Robinson Brotherhood: For the ex-Black Crowes member's second big song with his side project, Chris has decided to kick out the jams once again! But this time, he seems to be drawing from an unlikely source - Van Morrison! The main riff of "Little Lizzie Mae" sounds almost exactly like Morrison's "Blue Money". Sure, there's plenty of Allman Brothers style noodling in "Little Lizzie Mae", but it feels more like jazz-rock than jam rock. Lyrically, "Little Lizzie Mae" sounds like it's about a girl who's (probably) playing Chris Robinson for a fool. That being said, I can't help but feel like Robinson is playing his listeners for fools! Van Morrison isn't exactly the kind of influence I would expect for a "jam band" song, so one might not expect to have a guitar solo between each verse (perhaps a sax solo instead?!) Nonetheless, though, "Little Lizzie Mae" is very much of a "feel good" song in terms of its sound, and you can't go wrong with that!!

"The Ballad of John and Yoko" by Widespread Panic: And speaking of jam bands, here is a (now) legendary jam band covering...a legendary Beatles song?!? Whaaat?!?! Widespread Panic do a decent job at covering the infamous Lennon tune, though. Not as good as the original, but WP put their own unique spin on it! Interestingly, acoustic guitar (and a neat li'l honky tonk style piano) are the main instruments on this version! The electric guitar takes a backseat here. The way I see it, if Jimi Hendrix can take on TWO Bob Dylan tunes, then Widespread Panic can take on (at least) one from The Beatles!!

"Wind and Walls" by The Tallest Man on Earth: Like "1904", the TMOE's hit from earlier this year, "Wind and Walls" is only two things, acoustic guitar and vocals. For such a simple setup, though, The Tallest Man on Earth manages to sound beautiful nonetheless. The lyrics are somewhat enigmatic (for instance, "Singing songs of rivers tied to accidents within/Telling people lies of lions, treasures, and kings"), but that is part of the charm of The Tallest Man on Earth, and how, no matter what he sings, he still manages to make his songs sound soft and sweet (bittersweet, in this case). Highly recommended!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New songs for September 12th, 2012

here they are:

"Fire Bug" by JD McPherson: The greatest '50s rock sensation that never was had a big hit on the adult alt charts earlier this year with "North Side Gal", and now he's burnin' up those charts again with his latest song, "Fire Bug"! With its pounding Jerry Lee Lewis style pianos, Chuck Berry style guitars, and soulful saxophones, "Fire Bug" sounds like the perfect song for a 1950's diner to be playing. Like "North Side Gal", "Fire Bug" is yet another song about an object of JD's affections. An ordinary subject, but an extraordinary song, so much so, that it probably wouldn't matter what JD sang about, as long as he delivered it with enough passion and energy!

"Let Me Lie" by Trey Anastasio: For a jam band aficionado, you'd probably expect a more complex, or at least a more electric guitar oriented song from Phish's leading man. But no, Trey has decided to mellow out and unplug for his latest song, "Let Me Lie". Even the lyrics ("Gonna take my bike out, gonna take my bike, gonna ride it slowly, ride it just how I like") suggest that Trey doesn't want to go all Jerry Garcia on us this time like he usually does, he just wants to take a break from all that fast paced life out on the road. For a man who's been jammin' his brains out for more than 20 years, both with and without Phish, I'd say that "Let Me Lie" is a well deserved break for Trey. Not that I don't enjoy it when he jams, though, he's great at that!!

"Love Is A Fire" by Courrier: With a sound that comes halfway between Snow Patrol and The Killers, Courrier already seem poised for success with their debut single, "Love Is A Fire". Somehow, though, even though Courrier have a solid, dynamic, appealing sound, something seems missing from their music. Perhaps because their lyrics (like the chorus, "Can you hear my heart, hear my heart now? Love is a fire and it's burning me down") seem ordinary in comparison to those that Gary Lightbody and Brandon Flowers typically deliver in their music. Courrier don't even seem to have the "tight harmony" concept that make songs by groups like Scars on 45 so profound sounding to me. Yet somehow, I still like Courrier, and I still like this song. It's not bad. I just think it needs a little improvement, and I think that Courrier have potential to make better songs.

"1957" by Milo Greene: Has it somehow become a trend to use 20th century years in indie-pop/rock song titles?! First there was Phoenix's "1901", and earlier this year, The Tallest Man on Earth put out a song called "1904". Now, thanks to Milo Greene (a band, not a person), we have our third "year song" in the indie-pop category, "1957". "1957" also utilizes other trends in indie-pop/rock. Like Of Monsters and Men, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, The Civil Wars, and The Lumineers, Milo Greene are a band that plays bittersweet folk-rock with a guy and girl sharing vocals, somewhat like a modern day Mamas and Papas. The video for the song is particularly interesting, in that it plays out like a three and a half minute version of current indie flick, "Ruby Sparks". The guy in the video appears to be writing a story about this girl, he falls for her, she appears to be real, but she turns out to (more than likely) just be imaginary. Surreal enough for ya?! The video can be viewed at

"Teardrop Windows" by Benjamin Gibbard: So Death Cab's leading man has finally decided to go solo, eh? Well, it sounds like...ummm...not that different from Death Cab themselves. However, "Teardrop Windows" is a relief for me since its sound hearkens back to the bittersweet folk-rock Death Cab initially became known for, as opposed to the more electronic flourishes of more recent Death Cab songs like "You Are A Tourist" and "Underneath the Sycamore". As you might expect from a song with the word "teardrop" in the title, "Teardrop Windows" has both a moody sound and moody lyrics (even the opening lyrics, "Teardrop windows crying at the sky, he's all alone and wondering why"). But Ben doesn't let the tears flow too hard in "Teardrop Windows", since the song has a somewhat catchy backbeat, as well as a good balance of major and minor chords throughout the song.