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.