Wednesday, November 14, 2012

13 Songs On A Dead Man's Chest (A.K.A. Flood of Songs After the Drought)

THIRTEEN!? Most I've ever had so far!! So, without further ado, let's begin!!

"Carry On" by fun.: "If you're lost and alone, and sinking like a stone, carry o-o-o-o-on!!" So begins the chorus of the latest song from the somewhat aptly named band, fun. This is probably their most sensitive, most melodic song yet, and for that reason, I can't help but like it! Though the song itself is kinda dark in terms of its lyrics, it still has quite an uplifting, almost inspirational chorus, reminding its listeners to stay strong through the good times and the bad. Nate Ruess and co sure have come a long way since the far more pop-y "We Are Young", and I hope they will continue to strengthen their sound and their lyrics in the future!

"Encyclopedia of Classic Takedowns" by A.C. Newman: The New Pornographers were always a quirky band, in spite of how their name might sound (it was actually taken from something someone said about how music is the "new pornography"). That being said, it only makes sense that their lead singer would come up with a song where even the TITLE sounded quirky! I mean, how many songs do you know of have titles that even sound CLOSE to "Encyclopedia of Classic Takedowns" (try saying THAT five times fast!)?! I sure don't! (Then again, this IS the same guy who came up with even weirder song titles like "Sing Me Spanish Techno"). The song itself is quirky, power pop-y fun at its best! A happy song with bubbly harmonies and a weird title?! Only A.C. and The New Pornographers!!

"Good Times" by Matt Costa: Matt Costa doesn't seem to get enough credit for how eclectic (and clever) he truly is! He seemed to have been pegged as a singer/songwriter type based on how his debut song, "Cold December" sounded, but he has expanded his repertoire ever since to include Donovan-esque psychedelic pop ("Witchcraft") and "Pet Sounds"-ish orchestral beauties ("Drive"). His latest song, "Good Times", takes on a sound that illustrates a combination of folk-rock guitars and triumphant trumpets, a bit like Feist's "1234", as well as practically any song from Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros. Don't be fooled by how happy "Good Times" sounds, though, as even its chorus sings about how "Good times are comin' to an end". The dichotomy "Good Times" has between its fluffy sound and cynical lyrics only make me love the song more, though!

"Harder Before It Gets Easier" by The David Wax Museum: With the surprise success of records from people like Paul Simon and Robbie Robertson last year, it only makes sense that there would be someone this year that would carry on the rock-music-meets-world-music torch. It's not an older musician, though, or even a well-known one, at that. This year's ethnic rock experience comes from The David Wax Museum, a band that is, perhaps, unlike any other from 2012! Instead of relying on folk-rock or power pop, like most 2010's bands seem to do, The David Wax Museum create a lush musical soundscape based on African rhythms and mariachi instrumentation. To top it all off, at the center of the DWM's breakthrough song, "Harder Before It Gets Easier", is its chorus, which reminds people that sometimes you need to experience tougher times in your life in order to get to what you really want!

"Heartbeat" by The Kopecky Family Band: Of the many bands I'm reviewing this week, none of them seem to put the "pop" in "indie pop" quite like The Kopecky Family Band! Their debut song, "Heartbeat", has it all! Irresistibly bubblegum-y harmonies, handclaps at the beginning, a catchy, memorable chorus, purposely ridiculous lyrics (e.g. "you make my heartbeat beat a beat"), you name it! "Heartbeat" is the perfect song to dance around in your room to when no one's watching!

"How Do You Ruin Me?" by Black Prairie: And now we move from a goofy, lighthearted band to a more somber one. Even this song's title, "How Do You Ruin Me?" sounds melancholy, and the song itself is, too. With its sighing string section, G minor key, and world-weary vocals, "How Do You Ruin Me?" is one of those songs you'd want to put on during a rainy day to elicit emotions of both sadness and sympathy. It is a tale of unrequited love that expresses the pain and sorrow we probably all feel inside when going through such a phase. Call it a case of schadenfreude if you will, but what is "ruining" the singer brings me a sense of pleasure, but the pleasure derives from knowing that I'm not the only one who has felt cheated or let down in a relationship.

"I've Got This Friend" by The Civil Wars: It's been over a year since John Paul Williams and Joy White first became successful as folk-pop duo, The Civil Wars, yet there is still one song from their debut album that has JUST begun to receive airplay on adult alt radio stations, and that song is "I've Got This Friend". "I've Got This Friend" provides quite a contrast from the blues-y stomp of "Barton Hollow" and the bittersweet "Poison And Wine". There is nothing very bitter, or even bittersweet, about "I've Got This Friend", in fact it's kind of a cute song, if I dare say so! John and Joy take turns telling each other about these "friends" that they have during the song, though, upon listening to the lyrics, it becomes apparent that John and Joy are actually telling each other about...well...each other! However, they are doing so in a way that suggest a precious, almost naive sense of romance. Can I have another "d'awwww"?!

"Mojo Fix" by Martin Harley: A "review-come-lately" here, as this song has been around since late August of this year, but it doesn't seem like it's gotten decent airplay until around the past couple of weeks, so I thought maybe now would be a good time to review it instead. On with the song, though, doesn't even the title of the song "Mojo Fix" sound kinda blues-y?! Well, that's because it is, and a mighty fine blues song at that! With its chugging hook, raw vocals, and saucy slide guitar licks, "Mojo Fix" is enough to satisfy anyone's mojo!!

"Nancy From Now On" by Father John Misty: You probably wouldn't expect such a downhearted song from a guy with a quirky moniker, who put out esoteric songs like "I'm Writing A Novel", but keep in mind that "Father John Misty" is actually the alias of the ex-drummer of melancholy folk-rock kings, Fleet Foxes, and "Nancy From Now On" will probably make a little more sense. Even the opening lyrics, "Pour me another drink, and punch me in the face" are enough to depress a lot of Misty's listeners. "Nancy" is also not the name of a girl in this song, but rather, a derogatory name that Misty uses to refer to himself, perhaps suggesting that he is "weak" in some way. The chord changes and piano arrangement in this song remind me of people like Rufus Wainwright. Perhaps Rufus and Father John are pals?! Wouldn't surprise me. Also, I detect a huge Harry Nilsson influence in this song, so to describe Misty as the lovechild of Nilsson and Rufus Wainwright would be a great way of summing him up!

"River" by Civil Twilight: As I read the comments for this song on YouTube, many people seem to think that this sounds like a Radiohead song, and it does (it lifts pretty heavily from "Jigsaw Falling Into Place", in particular). Though "River" will never hold a candle to Radiohead, it's still a good song in its own right! It is probably Civil Twilight's best song, actually, given how it centers mostly around acoustic guitar instead of keyboards, the latter of which is a more typical instrument for Civil Twilight. The lead singer of Civil Twilight tends to nail Thom Yorke's vocal intonations, and the swooning backing vocals wouldn't sound too out of place in a Radiohead song either. However, this is Civil Twilight, not Radiohead. Still, it wouldn't hurt Civil Twilight to continue going in a neo-folk-rock direction!

"So Beautiful" by The Dunwells: Along with the Martin Harley song, "Mojo Fix", this song is another "review-come-lately" for me, I guess partly because this song pales in comparison quite significantly to The Dunwells' Mumford-esque song, "I Could Be A King", from earlier this year. However, I decided to give "So Beautiful" another chance, and I'm glad I did, because, although it isn't nearly as good as "I Could Be A King", it is still a good song, and it stuck in my head after the second time I heard it, so I knew it was a good one. It still has a somewhat Mumford-and-Sons-ish sound, but it sounds more like M & S being backed by the '70s soft rock group, America (the solos in the song sound like they were performed in a similar distortion to America's "Sister Golden Hair"). Still worth listening to, though.

"Time to Run" by Lord Huron: And last, but certainly not least, is the hypnotically folk-rock-y "Time to Run", from Lord Huron, a band who are slowly but surely getting more attention than I thought they would! This song is like a dream to me, and I don't mean that in a corny, metaphorical way. I mean that it's literally like a dream! It starts off with an orchestra of echoing wind chime type percussion that goes on for about a minute, before settling into its mellow, entrancing groove that takes hold of the rest of the song, as though one is falling asleep, and then settling into his/her dream for the rest of the night. This song is one dream I don't want to wake up from!!