Friday, December 13, 2013

The Top 20 Songs of 2013!!!

And now, folks, the moment you've all been waiting for!! The Top 20 songs of 2013!! Here they are:


20. "Walk Us Uptown" by Elvis Costello (featuring The Roots)
19. "A New Life" by Jim James (from My Morning Jacket)
18. "King And Lionheart" by Of Monsters and Men
17. "Rumble And Sway" by Jamie N. Commons
16. "Little Numbers" by Boy
15. "Shake" by The Head and The Heart
14. "Another Is Waiting" by The Avett Brothers
13. "Gotta Get Over" by Eric Clapton
12. "Lightning Bolt" by Jake Bugg
11. "Babel" by Mumford and Sons
10. "The Way I Tend to Be" by Frank Turner
9. "Entertainment" by Phoenix
8. "The Ceiling" by Wild Feathers
7. "February Seven" by The Avett Brothers
6. "Sirens" by Pearl Jam
5. "Out of My League" by Fitz and The Tantrums
4. "From A Window Seat" by Dawes
3. "Recovery" by Frank Turner
2. "Supersoaker" by Kings of Leon

annndddd...the number one song of 2013 is.....


"LOVER OF THE LIGHT" BY MUMFORD AND SONS!!! :D :D :D


Happy Holidays and a Great New Year everyone!! It's been great blogging this year! See ya next year!! ;)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

New songs for December 4th, 2013

here they are:


"Do I Wanna Know?" by Arctic Monkeys: They've been around for nearly 10 years now, released five studio CD's, and opened for The Black Keys back when I saw them at Staples Center. So why haven't I reviewed anything by Arctic Monkeys yet?! Well, until "Do I Wanna Know?" came along, I just assumed that Arctic Monkeys was one of the more jagged, nervy bands from the mid '00s "new wave revival", like Bloc Party, Hot Hot Heat, Interpol, and an endless rabble of other bands I just never really cared for that much. This song has changed my opinion on Arctic Monkeys, though. It has a bit less of a frenzied beat than most of their songs do, and it's hard to resist that fuzz guitar in the song, too! (Perhaps touring with The Black Keys rubbed off on Arctic Monkeys a bit?!) The riff, built around a rather blues-y G minor chord, consists of only three main notes that are repeated throughout the song. It never gets any louder or softer at any point either, it just kinda stays the same. Normally, I like when a band or musician takes risks that wander off the beaten path of their usual musical style, but perhaps for Arctic Monkeys, less is more!


"Ordinary Love" by U2: The funny thing about legendary rock groups like U2 is that they just seem to lose their edge (no pun intended) after a while. "Ordinary Love" seems to use the same pattern that U2 have used since around the mid '00s - soft melodies, glossy sound production, and enough of an electric guitar based sound to make them "rock" even during their most sentimental moments. The guitar is probably what saves "Ordinary Love" from becoming a completely lackluster song. Well, that, and how Bono truly has an unstoppable, passionate spirit whenever he sings! While the intentions are good, and the song is catchy and harmless, there is still something about "Ordinary Love" that seems...well...ordinary! I still think it was worth talking about the song for the effort they put into it, though.


"Penitentiary" by Houndmouth: Imagine what The Band would be like with a more wry sense of humor in their music. That's pretty much what Houndmouth's "Penitentiary" is, even during its opening lines ("Hid a batch in Frisco, I couldn't score a job/So I did the next best thing and I learned how to rob"). The song's laid-back, roots-y vibe does a good job at masking its caustic lyrics, and gives the impression that Houndmouth are just a bunch of "good ol' Southern boys" (and one girl). But as soon as the chorus invites you to "come on down to the penitentiary", you know these folks have a trick or two up their sleeves, and you'll just be left begging to hear more of it afterwards!








Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New songs for the day before Thanksgiving 2013

here they are:


"Afterlife" by Arcade Fire: Win Butler's orchestral indie-pop group are really going for ambitious songs this time around, aren't they?! Their "Reflektor" was 7 and a half minutes long, and their next big song for 2013, "Afterlife", is 6 minutes!! As its title indicates, "Afterlife" deals with death, specifically the loss of someone who was very important to one of the members' lives (though they never specify who). Not quite the meandering song "Reflektor" was, but it still has that sort of "progressive indie" feel to it. The final minutes of the song serve as its "grieving stage", during which Win Butler repeats the mantra, "It's just an afterlife", possibly for reassurance that everything will turn out alright for him.


"High Hopes" by Bruce Springsteen: When it comes to The Boss's material from the 21st century, it's definitely a mixed bag. He seems to like going for passionate, world weary ballads these days, but "High Hopes" is a rocker!! (Well, kinda) It features fiery electric guitar playing from Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello (complete with soloing in the middle), attempting to battle it out with the song's backing acoustic guitar. As with many of Springsteen's contemporary songs, "High Hopes" is a song that revolves around political angst. The song becomes even more triumphant during the chorus, with its brass instruments breaking down the angry walls of this song into a jubilant celebration! My "high hopes" go towards The Boss himself, to crank out more good tunes like this one!! I think he can still hang in there for quite a while!


"Little Games" by The Colourist: I haven't heard many indie/alt groups channel the spirit of Michael Hutchence (from INXS) quite so well as I have with this song!! Over a 1980's style drumbeat, an electric guitar roars loud enough both to rock and to make people dance, in The Colourist's "Little Games"! The smooth, suave vocals of the song also seem somewhat Hutchence inspired (though not nearly as high). "Little Games" is about cheating in a relationship, but with the song's super catchy vibe, you'd probably never know!!


"Love Like This" by Kodaline: Before I get started with this one, the name of this Irish indie-folk group is pronounced "KO-duh-line" (not "KO-duh-leen", as I originally thought it was). Perhaps the song's opening mandolin-ish sound makes it obvious they're Irish?! The harmonica makes it sound more like a Dylan or Springsteen song, though, both of whom, of course, are American. Kodaline's songs seem to all be love songs so far ("love like this won't last forever" is the chorus of this song, and their other big song, "All I Want", is about the longing to feel loved by someone). Their folk-rock sound has me drawn to their material regardless, though, it just makes them seem like such a calm, down-to-earth sorta band!














Wednesday, November 20, 2013

New songs for November 20th, 2013

here they are:


"Down to the Well" by Hard Working Americans: For once, the name of a band actually describes who it is! This eclectic folk-rock/country-rock supergroup, featuring Americana musician Todd Snider, Ryan Adams' backing guitarist Neil Casals, and Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools, is all American, and clearly all hard working since they managed to come up with a group this eclectic! So how do they sound all together?! Well, like a country-rock group, which isn't really that surprising, considering that both Todd Snider and Ryan Adams started out with a country influenced sound. While Widespread Panic tends to focus more on blues-rock than the other two, some of their songs ("Dirty Side Down", for instance) still have a country-rock sound to them. "Down to the Well" itself was originally a song by roots-y country musician Lucinda Williams. Don't let the "country music" description of this song prevent you from listening to it, though. There is absolutely nothing about this song that aims to appeal to a "pop-country" audience. Instead, it's honest and heartfelt, while still somewhat raw, the way a GOOD country (or country-rock) song should be!


"Pretty Green" by White Denim: If Daft Punk were re-envisioned as a neo-psychedelic rock and roll band instead of an electronica duo, they would probably end up being White Denim. It is clear from the video of White Denim's debut song, "Pretty Green", that at least half of the band members prefer hiding behind masks to showing their actual faces, much like Daft Punk did (though this could also be influenced by the "eyeball masks" of '70s avant-garde group, The Residents). The video only gets weirder as the song goes on, as the members of White Denim take a vivid voyage through a land of...ummm...lips with no body or face attached. The second half of this bizarre journey involves entering into a realm of splattering paint (didn't "Sesame Street" already do this years ago with their new wave styled song about "Wet Paint"?!) Perhaps I should have expected the song to involve kaleidoscopic, colorful imagery. After all, the band's name is WHITE Denim, and the song is called "Pretty GREEN"!! If you are willing to let your mind blow out of your butt (or is that the other way around?!), then check out the music video for this song, which can be viewed here (www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMCoiehkH8U)


"Thirsty Man" by Blitzen Trapper: Between this song and "Shine On" (the one they put out in early fall of this year), I could swear that if time machines were real, that Blitzen Trapper took one to the 1970's somewhere in the Southern United States. "Thirsty Man" is more of a return to the folk-rock-y roots that Blitzen Trapper were originally known for, yet it sounds more like an acoustic Allman Brothers song ("Midnight Rider", "Melissa", etc.) than it does like Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, and the like. When lead singer, Eric Earley, sings about being a "thirsty man" walking through the desert, his vocal delivery tends to give off a "been through it all" attitude that can often be found in the music of bands like The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The Doors-y organs and fuzzed-out "psychedelic" guitar solo are about the only things keeping "Thirsty Man" from completely sounding like a Southern rock song.


"This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" by The Lumineers (originally by Talking Heads): So the first song we hear covered from The Lumineers ISN'T by Simon and Garfunkel, or Crosby Stills & Nash?! That's a shocker! What's even MORE of a shocker is that they chose to cover a song by quirky new wave legends, Talking Heads, whose sound seems a bit too jittery and electronic in comparison to the laid-back, acoustic sound of The Lumineers. If a band like, say, MGMT covered it, that wouldn't be too surprising (and they have done so, too). But The Lumi's?! I love them, but I would NEVER have expected them to choose a song from David Byrne and co. According to their cellist (and only girl member) Neyla Pekarek, the reason they chose to release a cover version of "This Must Be the Place" is because The Lumineers usually ended their live shows with the song, since its lyrics center around going home ("Home is where I want to be, but I guess I'm already there...") So how does their version measure up to the unstoppable, oddball energy of the original?! It's a decent cover, but it pales in comparison to their originals, like "Ho Hey" and "Stubborn Love". As a folk-rock song, "This Must Be the Place" just doesn't feel like it should! I'll give it an A for effort, though.




Wednesday, November 13, 2013

New songs for November 13th, 2013

here they are:


"Dirty Paws" by Of Monsters and Men: The fourth single from this exceptional Icelandic folk-rock group provides an answer as to why their debut (and so far, only) CD was called "My Head Is An Animal" (it's the words to the second line of this song). "Dirty Paws" continues in the pattern of a lot of what OMAM's material has had so far. A gentle folk-rock sound that evokes medieval and mythological imagery in both its instrumentation and its lyrics. The song can be interpreted many different ways, but it is most likely an allegory for war, using animals to tell its story ("Animal Farm", anyone?!) I would think that OMAM would be better at coming up with a hook to this song, which sounds a bit too much like their own "King and Lionheart" mixed with the beat of Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros' "Home". Quite a thrilling tale of a song otherwise, though!


"Elephant" by Tame Impala: If the name "Tame Impala" reminds you of bands with equally bizarre names like "Jefferson Airplane", "Strawberry Alarm Clock", and "Quicksilver Messenger Service", you should have a pretty good idea of what Tame Impala's music sounds like! It has a vaguely psychedelic influenced sound, but with a heavily pulsating beat that brings to mind bands like The White Stripes and Cage the Elephant. Another thing Tame Impala's "Elephant" shares in common with psychedelic rock songs is that the lyrics don't quite make sense (the opening lyrics are "well he feels like an elephant shaking his big grey trunk" - Huh?!) The song also meanders into quite adventurous instrumental territory during certain sections, which seems to be a defining feature of some of the best known psychedelic rock songs. So, as they say in "Hairspray", "Welcome to the '60s!!"


"Got It Wrong" by Wild Feathers: It could be said that The Wild Feathers are the indie-folk scene's answer to groups like The Allman Brothers Band and The Black Crowes. Their sound is clearly Southern influenced (well, they're from Nashville, Tennessee, so I guess that makes sense), but it is done in a more sincere and heartfelt manner than one might expect from, say, ZZ Top. The Feathers' latest song, "Got It Wrong", continues in that direction, with its down home-y (but still fun) sound that seems like it came straight out of a classic cowboy movie. The refrain of this song ("it's all right, we've got it all wrong"), only seems to further cement their "good ol' Southern boy" image, but I'm guessing they don't mind that.




















Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New songs for November 6th, 2013

here they are:


"Holding On For Life" by Broken Bells: For the first time since the start of the 2010's, The Shins' James Mercer and Gnarls Barkley's Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton are back together again for a new album called "After the Disco"! An appropriate title, considering the disco influence that Danger Mouse brings into their latest song, "Holding On For Life". The folk-y acoustic strums in the background of the song make it very much of a James Mercer tune as well. Songs like this one are proof that sometimes, two heads are better than one! As Danger Mouse pumps disco/techno beats into "Holding On For Life", James adds in enigmatically soul searching lyrics, lush, mellow harmonies, and folk-rock influence, and together, the elements of the song melt into a nice, tasty, out of this world stew!


"She Lit A Fire" by Lord Huron: Lord Huron first hit the adult alt airwaves last November with their dreamily psychedelic song, "Time to Run". Now, exactly one November later, the dreaminess of Lord Huron has come around a second time with "She Lit A Fire". Between this song and "Time to Run", I'm starting to notice a lyrical theme in Lord Huron's music. They seem to write love songs, but they do so using really abstract lyrics and evocative imagery. The chorus of the song states that the girl of the lead singer's affections "lit a fire, and now she's in (his) every thought", so the love theme here is pretty obvious, but what makes the song so special to me is the ultra-mellow, acoustic guitar based sound the song uses, as well as the imagery of deserts, mountains, seas, and (of course) fire. This is the song all the hippies merely wish they had written!


"Swimming In the Sea" by Bob Schneider: And now, more indie-pop love poetry featuring lyrics that evoke nature (specifically fish and the sea, this time around)!! This is certainly not a bad thing, though. After all, Bob Schneider is one of those people who has a way of making love songs sound dreamy in a good way, rather than a cheesy one. It seems like he was quite influenced by Snow Patrol when he did "Swimming In the Sea", at least musically. The lyrics here seem to concern love at first sight, rather than a more general love theme, but the sentiments of falling in love certainly abound in this song!


"This Lonely Morning" by Best Coast: The Los Angelean duo of the fun but sassy Bethany Cosentino and her bandmate Bobb Bruno are doing what they do best on their latest tune, "This Lonely Morning". That is to say, they are making fun, summery music that mixes the sunny pop of early Beach Boys music with the sneaky indie-pop snark of Rilo Kiley. "This Lonely Morning" is anything BUT lonely!! Well, musically, at least. The lyrics are a bit darker than the song itself, as Bethany is "running from (her)self this time", and stating (negatively) how her "feelings never change". Perhaps this is the reason they released the song in fall instead of summer?! Because otherwise, it totally sounds like a summer song, like pretty much all of their material tends to!


"Workin' Woman Blues" by Valerie June: Valerie June first sizzled her way onto the adult alt airwaves in the summer of this year, with her Black Keys-esque (and Dan Auerbach produced) blues-rocker, "You Can't Be Told". Despite the use of the word "blues" in the title of Valerie's "Workin' Woman Blues", its sound more suggests a blend of folk, soul, and jazz that people like Joan Armatrading were known for using in the mid 1970's. It's the lyrics of the song that bring the "blues" part into the title. Valerie is clearly worn out from all the demands people put on women of being mothers, wives, etc. in the song, and addresses the issue of poverty in it as well. Definitely worth listening to, especially for those who identify with oppression, whether the roots of it are sexual or political (or both).









Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New songs for October 23rd, 2013

here they are:


"Best Day of My Life" by American Authors: Basically, this song could be likened to an Imagine Dragons song with a banjo in it. The anthemic feel of the song, and even the vocals of it, sound quite similar to Imagine Dragons. There is one thing that differentiates Imagine Dragons and American Authors from each other, though. The themes of Imagine Dragons' music is mostly dark, but it seems like American Authors prefer to focus on happier topics. "Best Day of My Life"'s theme should be pretty obvious from the title of the song, but their other (minor) hit song, "Believer", is also positive, with its lyrics centering around hope. Perhaps American Authors aren't the true "authors" of their music after all, as they seem to take after other bands a bit too much. This song is definitely a good one, though.


"On Top of the World" by Imagine Dragons: What a coincidence! A comparison to Imagine Dragons in the previous entry, and now an actual song of theirs! "On Top of the World" pretty much describes what Imagine Dragons are at this point in their career! It's also an appropriate title for what could just be the happiest Imagine Dragons song I've heard so far! It almost sounds like Jack Johnson collaborating on a song with fun., although it's better than both of them if you ask me! Who knew these guys had some pep in their step?! I sure didn't, but they pull it off pretty well!


"Pumpin' Blood" by Nonono: Nonono?! As in, "the opposite of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs"?! Wouldn't it be funny if those two bands toured together!! Their debut song, "Pumpin' Blood", seems like one of those songs that will end up defining the 2010's. It is done by a band whose main members consist of one female and one male, and its sound is halfway between electronica and rock, while managing to sound somewhat more pleasant than most songs of either genre. Nothing remarkable here, but it's still got that sound of become accustomed to hearing in the 2010's, so I thought I'd give it a go and review it. Not much else to say about this song, though.


"The Walker" by Fitz and The Tantrums: "Napoleon Dynamite" meets "Batman: The Dark Knight"?! This is NOT the direction I thought alt-pop's answer to Motown would go in, but their music video for "The Walker" (www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGBLlFMn9Xc) certainly seems that way! It centers around a man who seems to be suffering from a dramatized version of some sort of psychosis at first, but during the chorus, he does a strange but memorable dance that reminds me of the one from "Napoleon Dynamite"! Go figure!! As for the song, it's pretty catchy, like most of FATT's material tends to be. Don't think it is? Well then just try to get that whistling they do in the song out of your head!


"What Doesn't Kill You" by Jake Bugg: You know how The Goo Goo Dolls originally did more punk-ish material (like "Long Way Down") before they had more acoustic guitar centered songs?! Well U.K. folk-rocker Jake Bugg is doing the exact opposite on his latest song, "What Doesn't Kill You"! The man behind the Dylan-esque adult alt mega-hit "Lightning Bolt" has now decided to go for a blazing, almost Ramones-esque rocker in "What Doesn't Kill You". Like most of The Ramones' material, "What Doesn't Kill You" has only three or so chords, is 3 minutes long, is defiant as it is catchy, and doesn't contain any complicated guitar solos. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage, Jakey Ramone!!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New songs for October 16th, 2013

here they are:


"Green Eyes And A Heart of Gold" by The Lone Bellow: Folk-rock trio The Lone Bellow continue to impress me which each new song they release! Between this song and "Bleeding Out", they seem to have a knack for making depressing subject matter sound both happy and sincere. This song might be about trying to endure bad situations, though, ("All the money's gone and the house is cold, but it's alright"). The melody of the song is sweet and thoughtful, but also quite catchy (a lot of their material so far seems to be this way). It's a wonder they haven't reached mainstream success yet! All I can think of is that perhaps they were a year too late on the neo-folk-rock bandwagon.


"Head On" by Man Man: It's a person! It's a human! No, it's MAN Man!! This repetitively named band, whose song "Head On" is not to be confused for the Jesus and Mary Chain (and later, Pixies) song of the same name, are quite an eclectic band, even among other bands of a genre already known for being eclectic! Their sound suggests something of a cross between the clever techno-pop of Moby and the orchestral indie sound of Andrew Bird. Perhaps the best part of this song is its uplifting message, "Hold on to your heart", and the melodic way in which it is sung!


"Home Again" by Elton John: Sir Elton's collaboration with fellow 1970's musician, Leon Russell, proved that Elton still had something to say in the 21st century! "Home Again" proves he can do just as good standing on his own after all these years as he does with other musicians! This one really tugs at the ol' heartstrings like a lot of his best known songs tend to do. This one follows in the footsteps of "Candle In the Wind", "Rocket Man", "Tiny Dancer", etc., with its bittersweet tone, soul searching lyrics, and its rich instrumental arrangements. Elton truly has gone back "home again" with this one, hasn't he?!


"Nothing More" by The Alternate Routes: Wow, is this song ever a tearjerker!! Although, it is a tearjerker that elicits tears of joy, and not sadness. Both the song and the video (which can be seen here, www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tXzlVjU1xs), are about lead singer Tim Warren's sister, Katie, when she was a little girl. The video is very cute, and it is basically a collection of home videos featuring Katie just running around and having fun. The song expresses the theme of how close Tim and Katie are as brother and sister. I have just one word to say after viewing the video for this song and listening to it. "Awwwww"!!


"Queenie Eye" by Paul McCartney: Sir Paul's latest song, "Queenie Eye", recalls his best work from The Beatles and then some! It has a rollicking, piano based sound, similar to songs like "Lady Madonna", and the second half of "You Never Give Me Your Money". I don't really know what "Queenie Eye" is supposed to be in the context of the song, but it sure is catchy! I suppose that the title of the song is essentially just filler words, as the imagery of the song seems to be a "word salad" of sorts (like "I Am the Walrus"), though the song itself could be taken as an allegory for how fickle fame can be.


"The Wire" by Haim: An indie-pop trio of teenage sisters from my hometown (L.A.) doesn't exactly sound like the sort of band who would cover a song for a Fleetwood Mac tribute album, but I first got to know them with a cover of the Fleetwood Mac song, "Hold Me". Haim (pronounced like "hime") were a bit more of an electro-pop sort of group back when they covered "Hold Me", but I guess doing one of Fleetwood Mac's songs inspired them to SOUND more like Fleetwood Mac (albeit with an indie pop sheen to it). "The Wire" is a sunny slice of California pop music that would probably put a smile on Christine McVie's face if she ever heard it! Not bad for a "breakthrough" song!











Wednesday, October 9, 2013

New songs for October 9th, 2013

here they are:


"Chocolate" by The 1975: The 1975, eh?! Sure doesn't SOUND like it's from 1975!! The origin of this enigmatically named band actually comes from a book of beat poetry that was dated, "June 1st, The 1975". No sign of Ginsberg or Kerouac in this song, though. However, a parallel can be drawn to "musical beat poets" like Lou Reed, since "Chocolate" is about heroin, albeit in more of a tragic manner than an eerie, sprawling one. The title of the song is actually a reference to heroin, and how the sister of The 1975's lead singer used to be an addict.


"Stranger" by Devil Makes Three: The word "devil" may be a part of their name, but don't make the assumption that Devil Makes Three are a metal or punk band just because of this. Devil Makes Three are a rather eclectic group whose musical style cannot be easily identified! Their breakthrough song, "Stranger", appears to be a blend of folk, jazz, and blues that sounds like it came out at least half a century ago! The lyrics of the song contain spooky imagery, but more of a fun kind of "spooky" than a truly depressing or disturbing one (i.e., "Better pray to the moon in the middle of the night"), and the song itself has the vibe of someone sneaking up on you when you least expect it (but once again, in a playful manner). Just in time for Halloween!!


"Temple" by Kings of Leon: As hard rock group Nazareth famously claimed in the mid-1970's, "love hurts"! Kings of Leon's latest song, "Temple", makes that claim in a rather literal manner!! As Caleb Followill sings about how he'll "take one for the temple" in the chorus, he's referring to taking a shot to the head in order to prove his love for a girl. Ouch! The fun, breezy vibe of the song disguises all the painful imagery, though, and makes it sound more like a summertime romance sort of song.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Music from down under!!

Hi everyone. Two thirds of the musicians reviewed in this blog (Vance Joy and Lorde) happen to be from Australia and New Zealand, respectively, both countries in Oceania (or, the continent of Australia). That being said, here are this week's songs!


"Rewrite Our Lives" by Ha Ha Tonka: By far the most "indie-centric" (and most American - only American, actually) band on this week's list, Ha Ha Tonka's brand of indie-folk hearkens back to what the subgenre sounded like before Mumford, et al, took over at the start of the 2010's. The recording equipment sounds perfectly lo-fi, and the mix of somewhat messily played (but still decent sounding) acoustic guitars and '60s style organs make Ha Ha Tonka sound "retro" in more than one way in what is now almost the middle of the the second decade of the new millennium. The funny thing is, supposedly Ha Ha Tonka had an even MORE "true indie" sound (think Beck, Neutral Milk Hotel, Elliott Smith, etc.) before "Rewrite Our Lives" was released. Also, for those wondering about how they got their seemingly random name, it wasn't from someone laughing at a children's brand of toy trucks, it was actually from a state park in Missouri!


"Riptide" by Vance Joy: It's no surprise that Vance Joy hails from a land surrounded mostly by water, given how Hawaiian his song "Riptide" sounds, with its breezy vibe and ukulele dominated sound. Even his last name makes him sound optimistic! The lyrics to the song are positively dark, though! Many even suspect that the song could be about someone committing an unforgivable sexually deviant act to his girlfriend, and with lyrics like "Lady, running down through the riptide, taken away to the dark side, I wanna be your left hand man", they could be right! The video contains some freaky imagery as well, so I won't post it in case someone of a more sensitive nature happens to stumble upon the site. You've been warned, though! Always seems to be something scary in October, doesn't there?!


"Team" by Lorde: Lorde, the 16-year-old, New Zealand bred, musical cross (sound-wise) between Lana Del Rey and Bjork, had a huge hit over the summer with "Royals". "Royals" was pretty darn catchy, so it's no wonder she became a success on the heels of that song! Her second single, "Team", seems slightly more melancholy, but it's got plenty of irresistible rhythmic goodness to back it up, so it should do pretty well. As I'm getting to know Lorde's music more, I've also gotten to know her fascination for historical royalty. "Royals" (as well as the "court" part in the title of her song "Tennis Court") seems to hint at this, and even her stage name sounds like a title bestowed upon a royal master if you take out its artificial silent "e". "Team" could be interpreted as a team of guards, kings, queens, princesses, princes, etc. And no, I'm not just drawing conclusions based on coincidence regarding Lorde's interest in monarchy, the little trivia section on the side of the Music Choice channels told me so!


















Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New songs for September 25th, 2013

here they are:


"Fresh Strawberries" by Franz Ferdinand: Franz Ferdinand aren't British (they're Scottish), but they sure SOUND like a British group sometimes! Perhaps no song of theirs sounds as "British" as their latest one, "Fresh Strawberries". Unlike most of their post-punk-y material, "Fresh Strawberries" has even older influences! It sounds like a Beatles or Kinks song, with somewhat Elvis Costello-ish instrumentation here and there. In typical Franz fashion, "Fresh Strawberries" is a catchy pop-rock tune with dark lyrical content (in this case, about the fear of death). I never thought Franz Ferdinand would have a song that sounded more like the British Invasion than British post-punk, but what can I say, they managed to pull it off here!


"Shot At the Night" by The Killers: Wait a minute, is this The Killers, or 1980's era Genesis?! Somehow it sounds more like the latter than the former. This songs SCREAMS "1980's"!! Perhaps Brandon Flowers was even thinking of David Byrne for the repeated phrase, "once in a lifetime", for this song, but that was probably just coincidental. Byrne seems too arty and weird (in a good way) to come up with a song like this, though, which sounds like it was pretty much made for a John Hughes film. In spite of the negative comments I'm making about this song, "Shot At the Night" will probably grow on me like pretty much every Killers song (besides "Human") has. So I'm willing to give "Shot At the Night" a shot at success!


"Sirens" by Pearl Jam: After the roaring, angry wake-up call of "Mind Your Manners" from earlier this year, it's nice to hear a more reflective song from Eddie and the boys this time around! "Sirens" is one of the more melancholy songs from their catalog. Its combination of folk-y introspection upfront with rock instrumentation in the background easily brings to mind the best material from acts like Bruce Springsteen and U2. People might like to think of Pearl Jam as a fearless rock 'n' roll band (and indeed, sometimes they are), but I personally think that their best material comes from deep within their hearts, and this song is no exception!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New songs for September 18th, 2013

here they are:


"Broken Heart" by Dr. Dog: There are many things to love about Dr. Dog, a band whom I had the pleasure of seeing in concert about a month ago! One of the best things about them is that there isn't a single song I've heard of theirs so far that doesn't sound fun or upbeat! Don't let the lovelorn title of Dr. Dog's latest song fool you, it still continues in their typical musical style. Quirky, clever lyrics are also a defining feature of their music, and the faux-literal opening lyrics to "Broken Heart" ("I never really had a broken heart/I always played it kind of close to my chest") already steer the song in a good direction.


"Come A Little Closer" by Cage the Elephant: In the summer of 2009, Cage the Elephant debuted with their slide guitar laden stomp-rocker, "Ain't No Rest For the Wicked", which is probably their best known song so far. It seemed like that song pigeonholed CTE into being labeled a "frat rock" band, and although many of their songs follow this pattern, some of the material I consider the best from them does not sound like "frat rock" at all! "Shake Me Down", for instance, sounds like it could have been a "Magical Mystery Tour" bonus track. CTE's latest song, "Come A Little Closer", could be their most indie rock influenced song yet! Its pseudo-psychedelic pop sound recalls groups like Grizzly Bear, The Kooks, and The Shins, among others. Another thing to take notice of is that CTE's "softer" tracks (like this one) have smoother vocals, in addition to having a smoother sound.


"Love Won't Bring Us Down" by Ed Roland and The Sweet Tea Project: Ed Roland's post-grunge hit making machine band, Collective Soul, might have been labeled "alternative" during the time they debuted, but Ed's music owes more to the theatrical, in-your-face presence of '70s arena rock than it does to the more aloof, dismal features of grunge and post-grunge. Once the post-grunge phenomenon subsided, Ed seemed to embrace his inner rocker (and occasionally even his inner pop star) a little more, but in my opinion, his latest tune, "Love Won't Bring Us Down", is the most unabashed tribute to 1970's rock he's done so far in the 21st century! The song seems to be influenced by contemporary blues-rockers like Gary Clark Jr. and Susan Tedeschi, albeit with a slightly more pop influenced beat. It has a positive message and a fun sound! What more could you ask for?


"Made Up Mind" by The Tedeschi-Trucks Band: Funny I mentioned Susan Tedeschi during my previous entry for this week, because the next song I'll be talking about just happens to be one of hers! Unlike the more soul inflected "Part of Me" from earlier this year, "Made Up Mind" has a more blues rock influenced sound, like most of the TTB's material. The song's combination of Chuck Berry-ish chord progressions and chug-along rhythms recall many classic rock songs of the '70s, but the guitar solos in the song can't possibly be attributed to any band other than The Tedeschi-Trucks Band. I think I've got a "made up mind", too. My mind's made up, and it's ready to rock!



Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New songs for September 11th, 2013

here they are:


"Further Away (Romance Police)" by Lissie: With "Further Away (Romance Police)", Lissie continues to make her mark as the 2010's answer to Alanis Morissette (with less nasal vocals). She rocks with reckless abandon on this song (though not as much as she did on "Shameless" from earlier this year). "Further Away" starts out as being this sort of dark but catchy pop song, and by the time the chorus kicks in, it starts sounding like the lovechild of the songs from Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" and the songs from Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill". The song centers around a love affair gone awry that only starts sounding more desperate as it goes on, with its peak in the middle of the song, when Lissie cynically wonders if "anyone loves anyone anymore".


"Gang of Rhythm" by Walk Off the Earth: Whether they're covering Gotye or harmonizing on their own tunes, Walk Off the Earth seem like a group of people who like to have fun with what they do, and so far, no song in their career illustrates that better than their latest song, "Gang of Rhythm". The song is simply about playing music and having a good time, which WOTE urge their audience to do with lyrics like, "Come on now everybody, come on now everyone!" In the second verse, WOTE claim that they "bring in the harmonies like CSNY" (Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young), which makes me wonder how the folk-rock legends feel about being mentioned in a song by a group of newbie folk-rockers. After all, they sound more like The Mamas and The Papas than CSN & Y to me, for both their equal part guy/girl harmonies, and their upbeat, pop-y sound.


"Reflektor" by Arcade Fire: Arcade Fire have tried their hand at prog-rock many times, but as far as I know, this is the first time a radio single by AF has attempted to incorporate a "Floyd-ian" slip, if you will. "Reflektor" clocks in at over 7 and a half minutes, and its sprawling length and meandering melody make it seem more like an album track than a hit, but perhaps its Bowie-esque rhythm and instrumentation were enough to make the members of Arcade Fire want to release it as the first single from their new album. "Reflektor" is also the kind of song that seems like it could be performed in outer space, and AF have had more than their fair share of songs like that so far, but none as much as this song. I feel like "Reflektor" will be the song that either expands Arcade Fire's fanbase, or the song that turns their fanbase away from them (or perhaps both).


"Shine On" by Blitzen Trapper: How is it that Blitzen Trapper have the ability to sound like both a Southern rock group AND a progressive rock group within the same song?! Honestly, I have no idea, but they manage to make both (unlikely) ends meet in their most recent tune, "Shine On". It seems as though Blitzen Trapper want to challenge those who think of them as a "folk-rock" group, although two of their finest songs ("Black River Killer" and "Love the Way You Walk Away") fall under this category. Unless Lynyrd Skynyrd and Pink Floyd are your idea of "folk-rock" (which they're probably not), "Shine On" is definitely a song that deviates significantly from the material Blitzen Trapper have become known for. With its blazing electric guitars, anthemic chorus, and backing vocalists who sound like they might have been the same ones for "Sweet Home Alabama", I can't help but feel like this song belongs on a classic rock station somewhere.


"St. Croix" by Family of the Year: Steven Tyler from Aerosmith's comparison of Family of the Year to "The Mamas and The Papas on acid" seemed somewhat appropriate for Family of the Year's first big song, "Hero", which could be said to be FOTY's "California Dreamin'", since both songs are bittersweet, acoustic guitar based compositions about the yearning for something better to come along. FOTY's second big song, "St. Croix" is no "Monday Monday", though. Far from it! "St. Croix" is actually a very optimistic sounding song, both musically and lyrically. I mean, how much more friendly sounding can you get than "You bring the ocean, I'll bring the motion, together we'll make a love potion"?! Such lyrics make FOTY sound like hippies who stuck around long after the 1960's, which, as far as I'm concerned, they are. This is certainly not a bad thing, though, and it's probably the perfect song to listen to at a beach party! Too bad it came out towards the end of summer instead of the beginning.


"The Perfect Life" by Moby and Wayne Coyne: The bald headed animal rights activist, Moby, and Flaming Lips frontman, Wayne Coyne, are, undoubtedly, two of the most eccentric musicians of '90s alt-rock, so it only seems fitting that they would perform something together (I'm surprised it took them this long to think of doing a musical collaboration, personally!) What's even more bizarre than two musical bizarr-o's doing a song together, though, is the music video they made of the song!! The two musicians walk down the streets of Los Angeles in Mariachi outfits, and encounter some guy who looks like the Burger King, roller skating ghosts, and a choir of goth musicians along the way. "The Perfect Life"?! Sounds perfect to me!! The video can be viewed at http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/moby-leads-wayne-coyne-to-the-perfect-life-premiere-20130903






















Wednesday, September 4, 2013

New songs for September 4th, 2013

here they are:


"Graceless" by The National: The title of this song alone indicates that it will not exactly be an uplifting one (then again, there aren't really any songs by The National that contain positive subject matter, so it's hardly surprising). It seems as though Matt Berninger is literally "losing his religion" in "Graceless", with such lines as "I figured out how to be faithless", "now I know what dying means", and "God loves everybody, don't remind me". The rhymes Matt sings for the title of the song can feel a bit strained at times (e.g. "erase this", "waste this", "weightless", "face this", etc.) but then again, perhaps the struggle for a word to rhyme with "graceless" goes in line with the weary, cumbersome feeling the song itself has to offer.


"New" by Paul McCartney: Paul McCartney's new song is "New". No, I'm not trying to sound redundant, it's just that "New" happens to be the TITLE of McCartney's latest tune. Part of the charm of this song comes from who produced it, if you ask me, and that would be Mark Ronson, who has been known for producing material for musicians like Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse. It seems as though whenever Sir Paul has hired good producers for his 21st century material, it ends up having a solid sound, like the Nigel Godrich (Radiohead's producer) produced albums he had during the mid-'00s. "New" doesn't sound a thing like Amy Winehouse or Lily Allen, though. It sounds better (at least I think it does)!! Its catchy, Beatlesque pop sound and Brian Wilson-ish harmonies make "New" sound timeless!!


"Pompeii" by Bastille: With electronica becoming an increasingly more dominant form of popular music, the arrival of "Pompeii" seems quite timely. Ordinarily, electronica doesn't impress me too much, but thankfully, "Pompeii" is laced with both smooth enough harmonies and a catchy enough melody for me to appreciate it. Perhaps what's gotten so many people hooked on the song so far, though, is its faux-Latin "day-oo day-oo, day, day-oo, day-oo" chorus, which makes it stand out from other forms of contemporary music. As a side note, "Pompeii" is a triple geographical whammy! Pompeii is in Italy, Bastille is in Canada, yet the band itself is British! Go figure!!


"Say the Words" by Satellite: These guys sound like Travis, Coldplay, The Doves, and many other "Britpop" bands, and even their accent sounds somewhat British. So why are they from America?! Oh well, that's not the point of this song, as far as I'm concerned. The main focus of "Say the Words" is to bring the more guitar based side of the Britpop sound into the 2010's. On the surface, "Say the Words" sounds like a love song, and perhaps part of it is, but the first two verses of the song seem to indicate that the song is more centered around someone who has given up all hope on his/her life. The chorus is probably encouragement that the lead singer is providing to the subject of the song in order for him/her to feel less pressure regarding his/her life.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New songs for August 28th, 2013

here they are:


"Are You Listening?" by The Kopecky Family Band: Well, ARE you listening?! 'Cause if not, you're missing out on a good one! Though not nearly as catchy as their adult alt smash hit, "Heartbeat", "Are You Listening?" reveals a more folk-y, contemplative side to The KFB. Being that the record this song came from ("Kids Raising Kids") came out in late 2012, the exchange between male and female vocals (a la Of Monsters and Men, Civil Wars, etc.) is not surprising, as it seems to have become somewhat of a trend in indie-pop/contemporary folk-rock music. The billowy, buoyant sound of "Are You Listening?" almost seems to provide a contrast to the relentless happy energy of "Heartbeat", but the diversity in their sound choices is just one more thing that makes The KFB so likable!


"Come to My Party" by Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears: The greatest James Brown imitators of the 21st century continue to bring in the funk into what is slowly becoming the middle of the 2010's! No real deep message to this song, but there doesn't need to be, really. "Come to My Party" is a song whose title pretty much explains what it is. It's a song about just having a good time! Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears bring the party straight to your ears in just a little over two and a half minutes. So there's only two things you have to remember when listening to this song. Put on your dancin' shoes, and boogie!!


"Rollin' N' Tumblin'" by North Mississippi Allstars: North Mississippi Allstars are another band who are more focused on the roots of rock 'n' roll than on what it has become. Their latest song, "Rollin' N' Tumblin'", doesn't have very many words (though the words it does have seem to be references to various parts of rock history - "drinkin' muddy water" = Muddy Waters, "I ain't gonna be your dog" = The Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog", etc.) It does have a lot of instrumental parts, though, which seem to combine the dirty blues of The Black Keys and the neo-psychedelic freakouts of The White Stripes. "Rollin' N' Tumblin'" seems to basically be a song that makes rock 'n' roll come full circle, from its Robert Johnson style guitar licks to its memorably odd homage to neo-psychedelia towards the middle of it. Rock lives!! Too bad no one seems to notice.


"Sunnier Days" by Diego Garcia: Like most Diego Garcia songs, "Sunnier Days" has a breezy, tropical folk-rock sound. Unlike most of his songs, "Sunnier Days" is more upbeat. It is not an aching ballad like "You Were Never There", "All Eyes On You", or "Nothing to Hide". Instead, it's a "sunny" song, like its title suggests. At least it tries to be. The suspended chord changes during the pre-chorus of the song give "Sunnier Days" a more moody flavor that most Diego Garcia songs tend to have. Its rhythm makes the song sound more hopeful, though.


"The Way I Tend to Be" by Frank Turner: A similar case to The Kopecky Family Band (see "Are You Listening?" - also listed in this week's blog), Frank Turner had a super catchy adult alt mega-hit ("Recovery"), which has a notable contrast to his second hit so far, the more subdued, reflective, "The Way I Tend to Be". So what IS the way Frank tends to be?! Eclectic, as far as I can see it. Although every Frank Turner song I've heard is centered around acoustic guitar, he always manages to use the instrument to convey different emotions like confidence, mixed with sarcasm ("Recovery") and more anthemic moods as well ("I Still Believe"). "The Way I Tend to Be" is more of a bittersweet song, as far as I can tell. "If you remember me, you can save me from the way I tend to be", Frank sings, over a melancholy strum of acoustic guitar. I dunno about you, but I think music itself is saving Frank from the way he tends to be!











Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New songs for August 21st, 2013

here they are:


“All Things All At Once” by Tired Pony: When Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody first formed the indie rock supergroup, Tired Pony, with R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, their plaintive song, “Dead American Writers”, was an adult alt smash hit! From that point on, though, I thought it would be their only hit, as there was no other song from the album that became quite as popular (and plus, I thought Tired Pony was one of those “too good to last” groups). Turns out I was wrong. Tired Pony now has a second hit on their hands, “All Things All At Once”. It is a bittersweet song, much like “Dead American Writers” was, though the subject matter is more direct this time around. Instead of centering around deceased poets and authors, “All Things All At Once” is a song about the ever popular subject of unrequited love, a subject that Tired Pony melts into lyrical tears and makes their own!


“Fire And Brimstone” by Trombone Shorty: The title of the song may be a reference to hell, but Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews’ blues/jazz/rock song, “Fire And Brimstone”, is pure musical heaven for those who like their music to sound soulful but gritty! Andrews claims in the chorus of the song that “everything that comes out of (his) trombone” is “fire and brimstone”. Perhaps that’s just a clever excuse to come up with a memorable rhyme, but another meaning to take out of that line is how “hot” the music of Trombone Shorty is. The musical equivalent of a jalapeƱo pepper! Just one taste of the sound of “Fire And Brimstone” is as steamy and passionate as it is catchy!



“Hopeless Wanderer” by Mumford and Sons: Many Mumford and Sons songs have become instant hits in the 2010’s, but “Hopeless Wanderer” marks the first time (to my knowledge) that a music video by the band has become so popular! So what is it about the video to “Hopeless Wanderer” that has so many people hooked on it?! Three words – “Saturday Night Live”!! Well, kinda. SNL alumni Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte appear to be posing as half of the band members in the “Hopeless Wanderer” video. Fellow comedian Jason Bateman makes his appearance as another member of the band, and the remaining member is played by Ed Helms. There are some things to be said about the song itself, too. “Hopeless Wanderer” encapsulates just about everything that made me fall in love with the band’s sound when they debuted. Its rhythm is especially captivating, going from a waltz rhythm in the verses to a rock beat in the chorus. The harmonies of the song shine through, as though M & S were a modern-day Crosby, Stills, and Nash, with a banjo replacing the electric guitar (though Mumford and Sons come awfully close to having an electric guitar sound just before the chorus of the song). The video for the song can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rId6PKlDXeU


“Stay Young” by Okkervil River: If this is indeed a song from contemporary folk-rock group, Okkervil River, then why do I keep hearing Simple Minds instead?! Have the Texas indie group suddenly decided to do a “Breakfast Club” tribute?! Nope, they have simply decided to change direction in their sound, after all, it must get rather tiring sticking to one sound after a while. “Stay Young” contains a lot of dueling instruments. Electric guitar and synth battle for lead instrument, while sax and harmonica both vie for the position of top backing instrument. The harmonica sports yet another ‘80s rock influence, this time from U2, as it recalls the sound of “Joshua Tree” songs, such as “Trip Through Your Wires” and “Running to Stand Still”. Not the Okkervil River that any of their fans are used to, but still worth listening to nonetheless.


“The Idiot Kings” by Mike Doughty: If this songs sounds more like the eclectic, Beck-ish alt-pop from Mike Doughty’s days with Soul Coughing than it does like something from his more folk-rock focused solo career, that’s because “The Idiot Kings” is actually a Soul Coughing song that Mike has just released as a solo effort. There’s definitely more of a ‘90s dance-rock feel to “The Idiot Kings” than most of what Mike did away from Soul Coughing. The title alone to this song recalls Mike’s dry, clever sense of humor. Apparently he always wanted the song to become a hit in the same way “Circles” and “Super Bon Bon” did during the mid ‘90s, though it took nearly 15 years for “The Idiot Kings” to become noticed the way he wanted it to, and he credits part of its slow but steady trail to success to hip-hop producer, Good Goose. There’s absolutely nothing idiotic about “The Idiot Kings”, but the song does have its “king-like” qualities, in that this song RULES!!


“Wake Me Up” by Avicii: Uh-VEECH-eye?! Not quite sure how to pronounce this guy’s name, but he sure is getting his name out there with “Wake Me Up”, a song that almost seemed like it was destined to be a pop radio hit! “Wake Me Up” starts with a Mumford-esque acoustic guitar hook, but as soon as the beats are dropped about 40 seconds into the song, it just seems like your average pop song. “Mumford and Sons goes clubbin’” doesn’t seem like a very likely scenario, but Avicii has made this possible. Not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, personally.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New songs for August 14th, 2013

here they are:


"Another Is Waiting" by The Avett Brothers: Seemed like only yesterday that The Avett Brothers released a new album (though it was actually a year ago). Anyway, their latest song, "Another Is Waiting", is one that really seems to put the "rock" in "folk-rock". Part of the uniqueness of this song comes from how the instrumentation is led by a banjo (and not an acoustic guitar, as far as I can tell), but backed by an electric guitar and drums. That's right, DRUMS!! An instrument that is not typically featured on The Avetts' material, at least not prominently. Perhaps they have created a whole new subgenre with this song - "banjo rock". To accomplish all these instrumental feats in just a little over two minutes shows how amazing the band truly is to me!!


"Moving" by Travis: There's progressive rock, and there's progress-ING rock. Scottish indie-pop group, Travis, fits the latter category here. Their song "Moving" is all about...well...moving. Moving on through life, that is. Instrumentally, this song could easily be mistaken for a Radiohead or Snow Patrol song (though a lot of their material could be), but Fran Healy's distinctive vocals set Travis apart from such bands here. The recurring theme of going outside one's comfort zone becomes apparent in the ending lines of the first verse ("Home isn't where you are"), and third verse ("Home isn't where you stay"). Travis might not be "moving" from their typical sound, but they are making strides lyrically here, and that's a start!


"Shake" by The Head and The Heart: When The Head and The Heart debuted back in early 2011, their plaintive song "Lost In My Mind" won the hearts of many indie-folk fans, and the success of two more songs of theirs ("Down In the Valley" and "Ghosts") made them a household name among musically mellow twenty-somethings everywhere! So how does their newest song, "Shake", hold up in comparison?! The first few seconds of it make it sound noticeably different from most Head and The Heart songs because of the use of the electric guitar, but the piano that seems to serve as the central instrument in The Head and The Heart's music gradually makes its entrance shortly afterwards. "Shake" seems to have a similar rhythmic pattern to the band biggest hit so far, "Lost In My Mind", and perhaps The Head and The Heart purposely chose this rhythm for the song in hopes of making it another hit for them, and so far it's working! As for the use of electric guitar on the song?! Well, the band had their reasons. Though they don't mind doing folk-rock music, being likened to an "American Mumford and Sons" was not exactly what they wanted. The Head and The Heart desired to be a more musically eclectic band, and "Shake" is heading them in that direction so far!


"Sun Song" by Laura Veirs: Already, we have seen The Avett Brothers and The Head & The Heart leaning more towards the electric guitar than the acoustic for this week's reviews. Laura Veirs seems to have been the opposite. Her breakthrough song was the bubbly, neo-psychedelic pop song, "Galaxies", but every song since seems to have focused more on acoustic guitar than electric for her. Many of Laura's songs deal with an almost Neo-Paganistic view of nature and the universe, and her latest song, "Sun Song", is no exception to the rule (though the title of the song should make that obvious). This song "revolves" around the sun, so to speak, with every verse leading up to a chorus that praises how the sun makes many things possible. Neko Case also lends backing vocals to "Sun Song", which is interesting considering how defiant her song, "Man", from earlier this year was.
























Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sizzlin' Songs for a Sizzlin' Summer!!

Interestingly, all three of the songs I'm reviewing for this week are blues-rock tunes!! (Hence the title of this week's blog). Anyway, here they are:


“Blew Up (The House)” by Jonny Lang: One of the two best known names in ‘90s blues-rock (the other being Kenny Wayne Shepherd), it seemed as though Jonny Lang took on a more pop-y sound in the ‘00s, with songs like the slow “Red Light”, and the slightly more upbeat but still pop-y “Anything’s Possible”. The messages and deliveries on the songs Jonny did in the ‘00s didn’t seem to match the powerhouse quality he had in the ‘90s. Finally, after 7 years, Mr. Lang has redeemed himself, with the barn-burnin’ blues-rocker, “Blew Up (The House)”. It looks like Jonny has rekindled the fire within his soul, and is letting it light up the hearts of blues and rock fans the world around! Rock on, Jonny!!


“Funny Little Tragedy” by Gov’t Mule: So what do you get when you mix Allman Brothers alumni with Elvis Costello?! This song!! And yes, Mr. Costello contributes a guest vocal spot on this song!! Fans of Costello’s punk-pop days from when he was with The Attractions will love the relentless energy of “Funny Little Tragedy” (as well the organ solos towards the end of the song), while fans of The Allmans can still get their kicks with the song’s blues-y guitar solos and ragged guitar distortion (though the distortion is closer to Neil Young than it is to The Allman Brothers Band). I have to say, between this song and the one that Elvis Costello did with The Roots from just a week ago, I think Elvis is doing a fantastic job at retaining his hip-ness cred, and will probably continue to do so, as long as he continues making music!!


“Somebody Else” – by JJ Grey and Mofro: JJ Grey is da man!! He is more proof that white men can, in fact, sing the blues! JJ injects plenty of good ol’ fashion soul influence into his latest song, “Somebody Else”, too, simultaneously evoking the gutsy, raw, passionate R & B of James Brown, Al Green, and Otis Redding, among others. You get twice the instrumental prowess in “Somebody Else”, which boasts both a gritty sax solo and a mean guitar solo! Nice use of the organs on this song, too, though that instrument is not as prominent. To top it all off, the song ends on a jazzy, suspenseful, “James Bond”-ish chord. Could a “Blues Brothers” revival be far behind?!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New songs for July 31st, 2013

here they are:


"Better Man" by Beth Hart: Not to be confused with the Pearl Jam song of the same name, Beth Hart's "Better Man" continues in the blues-y direction that Beth has been more actively pursuing in the 2010's. Beneath its pop-y beat and uptempo piano sound beat the heart of "Better Man", which can be defined by Beth's gutsy, passionate vocals, and its electric guitar based sound that blends country, rock, and blues into one spicy, catchy musical gumbo! A sizzling ode to whoever Beth's current lover happens to be, "Better Man" is great at capturing the jubilation anyone feels when they finally find the one they want to spend the rest of their life with!


"The Dream's In the Ditch" by Deer Tick: Deer Tick are one of the more roots-y indie bands whose sound owes more to Bob Dylan and Neil Young than it does The Velvet Underground and The Beatles. As far as I can tell, though, between their 2011 song, "Main Street", and their most recent song, "The Dream's In the Ditch", one of Deer Tick's biggest influences is none other than The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen! "The Dream's In the Ditch" evokes early Springsteen, in particular, with its vaguely "Thunder Road"-ish chimes and guitars (though that colorful, tinkling piano solo in the middle is purely Deer Tick's own!) The subject matter of "The Dream's In the Ditch" is not uncommon to the roots-y side of classic rock either. It's basically a song about the ups and downs of touring on the road, not unlike Jackson Browne's "Running On Empty", or The Grateful Dead's "Truckin'". Happy trails!!


"Thirst" by City and Colour: It seems as though Canada's one man indie band, Dallas Green (or "City and Colour"), tired of the neo-folk-rock schtick about a year before it became big on alt-rock stations. He started with the folks-y "Sleeping Sickness", and has gone for a fuzzier, more rock based sound ever since (with the exception of the largely acoustic, "The Grand Optimist"). Dallas' latest song, "Thirst", continues in the more contemporary rock 'n' roll direction that he seems to want to become more known for. "Thirst" has what could be called a "White Stripes lite" distortion in its guitar sound, while the beat of the song is closer to Gary Numan's proto-synth-pop classic, "Cars". The lyrics in "Thirst" would not seem out of place for Dallas' former band, the hardcore "screamo" group, Alexisonfire (Alex is on fire), with its mentions of "fates worse than death", "an ocean of anger", and being "gracefully cursed".


"Walk Us Uptown" by Elvis Costello, featuring The Roots: For a musician, "The Three R's" are probably rock, rhythm, and rap, and this song just happens to have all three!! And you thought that the coolest connects between rock and rap ended with The Beastie Boys, and Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith's collaboration of "Walk This Way"?! Well, think again!! Rocker Elvis Costello and hip-hop group, The Roots (both of whom are quite eclectic for their respective genres), have now come together in an unlikely, but quite catchy musical teaming, in "Walk Us Uptown". The song marks a high point for both musicians, with its sleek, street-smart vibe, and its seemingly effortless combining of jazzy horns, reggae influenced rhythm guitars, the occasional use of shattering, blues influenced lead guitars, and its smooth hip-hop beat. Is it just me, or has Elvis Costello gotten hipper as he's gotten older?!


"Where We Came From" by Phillip Phillips: "American Idol"'s number one musical oddity is now up for a THIRD hit song on adult alt radio stations. If it were any other contestant on the show, I probably wouldn't care, but this is Phillip Phillips we're talking about here, who has clearly mastered the Mumford-ian way of playing acoustic guitar in songs like "Home" and "Gone Gone Gone". His third major song, "Where We Came From", doesn't have the graceful, finger-picked sound of his other two songs, instead opting for more of a half folk, half blues type sound, a la Dave Matthews (supposedly one of Phillip's biggest influences). The cello in "Where We Came From" adds a nice touch to it, too, making it distinguishable from his other material. The "precious" element in many of his songs shows up more in the lyrics than the song itself in "Where We Came From", especially given its nature related imagery (i.e. mountains, shores, moon, sun, etc.) in the chorus. Once again, Phillips has won peoples' hearts more than he has a reality show contest, and I hope he continues to do so!
















Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New songs for July 24th, 2013

here they are:


"Follow My Feet" by The Unlikely Candidates: In the 2010's, there have been two ways to define "alternative" and "indie" rock so far. There's the folks-y way that groups like Mumford and Sons have set a trend for, and then there's the more pop-y one used by groups like fun. The Unlikely Candidates have somehow combined both of these styles into one song with their debut song, "Follow My Feet". All three verses of this song deal with making hard decisions, but ultimately choosing to go in the direction that feels the most natural and correct for the person doing so, or, as the song says, to "follow (one's) feet". Perhaps "follow my heart" would have made more sense, but a little alliteration never hurt anyone!


"Neon Eyes" by Saints of Valory: With the best post-U2 "anthem rock" songs (The Airborne Toxic Event's "Sometime Around Midnight" and The Temper Trap's "Sweet Disposition") having both come out 4 years ago, do you think maybe it's time we had another such song to grace the alternative and adult alt charts?! Well, the guys from Saints of Valory certainly seem to think so! "Neon Eyes" has a sound that is both earnest and catchy, much like how a lot of U2's material tends to be. Though the guitar in "Neon Eyes" doesn't have the signature ringing sound that The Edge's has, it still sounds vibrant and echo-y throughout. It repeats the same riff throughout the song, but with different chords being played in the background.


"One Heart" by Leftover Cuties: Somewhere between Zooey Deschanel's "innocently" sassy attitude in She & Him, and the jazzed up alt-pop of April Smith and The Great Picture Show, is where the sound of Leftover Cuties can be properly defined. Lead singer Shirli McAllen cleverly croons about "How much hurt can one heart take?" and "How many times can one heart break?" over an infectious groove that is anything but melancholy in "One Heart"! Definitely not a mopey song, by any means, in fact it is probably more energetic than any song on my list of reviews for this week! I dunno about you, but my heart can take this song pretty well. In fact, I think it can't get enough of Shirli's sexy, swingin' setup for this sizzlin' summer song!


"Supersoaker" by Kings of Leon: No, this has nothing to do with the water gun toy known as "Supersoaker"!! However, that name is a suitable one, considering the summer-y vibe that the more energetic Kings of Leon songs (including this one) tend to have! And, might I add, "Supersoaker" has made quite a "splash" on the alternative and adult alt charts in the past week, perhaps more than any other song for the month so far! Okay, enough with the bad puns, and on with the song. As it has been with the past two KOL albums, "Supersoaker" is from a CD whose first single is irresistibly catchy!! The song is full of references to the good ol' U-S-of-A ("Down in the Delta, they're ringing the bells", "The flags are flying across the Plains", etc.), perhaps appropriate, given how its month of release is the same as America's month of independence. As for bad puns, it seems as though KOL themselves appreciate one now and again, as in the chorus's "Red, white, and BLEW 'em all away"! Hardy har harr!!


"Ways to Go" by Grouplove: Summer just seems to be the perfect season for Grouplove's music!! Last year, their irresistibly pop-y "Tongue Tied" became an anthem for the season (though it was actually released in late spring). Their latest song, "Ways to Go" is another song to get the corners of your mouth smiling and your feet moving! Perhaps the most appealing (and strange) thing about "Ways to Go", though, is its video. Most of it centers around a lookalike of Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Quite weird, and rather incongruous for such a happy sounding song, but towards the end of the video, we see a Korean soldier with a flower at the end of his gun. "Springtime For Hitler", anyone?! Also, check out the wild, '60s influenced hairdos on both lead singer, Christian Zucconi and backing vocalist Hannah Hooper! Hannah looks soooo darn cute in that skeleton outfit, too!! The video can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGvHnDeS12o. Enjoy!!

























Wednesday, July 17, 2013

New songs for July 17th, 2013

here they are:


"Mind Your Manners" by Pearl Jam: In spite of what songs like "Just Breathe" and "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter In A Small Town" might indicate, Pearl Jam are not always a band who plays nice. After all, they were a major part of the grunge era, and they had an ongoing feud with Ticketmaster back in the day. Their latest song, "Mind Your Manners", is probably their hardest rocking song since "Even Flow". This song does not concern itself with melody or harmony much at all, which most of Pearl Jam's songs do. Eddie Vedder has never been more openly atheistic or antagonistic as he has in this song. Other than the fact that Pearl Jam are typically a hot item for adult alt playlists, I'm not exactly sure what "Mind Your Manners" is doing on so many adult alt stations. The intensity of this song makes all the songs on Led Zeppelin's fourth album sound like they were done by a folk band (including "Stairway to Heaven" in its entirety).


"Mystic Highway" by John Fogerty: And now, yet another song from a famous rock 'n' roller, but thankfully for the average adult alt audience, this one has a calmer feel to it. As its title implies, "Mystic Highway" has an almost country-rock-ish feel to it, and a rather dreamy sound, at least for CCR's leading man. John Fogerty has many "road songs", both with and without CCR, and "Mystic Highway" makes for a great "road song" for traveling on the way back home from a vacation. With this song, Fogerty is still doing what he's done best since the 1960's - feel-good music with a Southern twang.


"Stare At the Sun" by Eleanor Friedberger: Anyone else find it a little odd that this is the only indie-pop song I'm reviewing for this week?! Well, anyway, "Stare At the Sun" makes for a fine slice of summery indie-pop, with a bit of a snarky attitude underneath its upbeat sound. For those familiar with the duo, The Fiery Furnaces, Eleanor Friedberger comprises one half of that band. As a solo artist, Eleanor is quite intriguing to listen to. She dryly quips about how fast-paced technology has gotten in the 21st century in the opening lyrics ("In the back of your taxi, you turned off the TV, and read me a book on your phone"), over a guitar riff that falls somewhere between Rilo Kiley's "Portions For Foxes" and Television's "See No Evil". For those who like to listen to sunshiny pop music with some bite underneath it, "Stare At the Sun" makes for quite an excellent song!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

New songs for July 10th, 2013

here they are:


"I Won't Be Long" by Beck: Earlier this year, David Bowie released his first single of the year shortly after his birthday, and now, rock 'n' roll's other "chameleon" has done the same thing a few days after HIS birthday!! Coincidence?! Unlike Bowie's latest material, Beck's most recent song, "I Won't Be Long", does not delve into crooner jazz or neo-psychedelia, and instead, it sticks to the tried-and-true "melancholy techno" sound that Beck originally became known for. "I Won't Be Long" somehow manages to sound both wistful and catchy. Beck's voice repeatedly echoes the title of the song during the chorus, as his voice slowly resonates, and then vanishes without a trace into the distance afterwards. Definitely ranks among the more haunting songs in Beck's catalog.


"Kissin' On the Blacktop" by Daughn Gibson: When you think "stoner metal", you probably don't think of country-rock, and you probably don't think of words like "goofy" either. However, Daughn Gibson, the ex-drummer of stoner metal group, Pearls and Brass, provides both country influenced rock music, as well as rather eccentric vocals, on his latest solo effort, "Kissin' On the Blacktop". Also, when I say "country", I don't mean the kind of quaint, down-home-y sorta thing that country has become today. I mean country inflected with a mean brand of dirty blues that you could blast during your next major barbecue event!! Daughn's vocals are incredibly low in this song, but I almost feel like they are intentionally low. I don't think that even Elvis has as many "dips" in his singing voice as Gibson does!!


"Right Action" by Franz Ferdinand: In many ways, Franz Ferdinand are an oddity among indie-pop groups. Every song they do is catchy and funky, yet (with the possible exception of "No You Girls"), their songs always seem to have a deeper meaning than what is implied upon merely listening to them. Subjects like war ("Take Me Out") and pyromania ("This Fire") are not uncommon in their material. The lyrical theme of "Right Action" is not as violent as those sorts of themes, but it still creates a contrast to their upbeat Talking Heads/Blondie influenced style of indie-dance-pop. Is there any other band from whom you'd expect to hear almost Buddhistic thoughts ("right thoughts, right words, right action") set to a Saturday night party song?!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

New songs for the day before the 4th of July

here they are:


"Most People" by Dawes: Taylor Goldsmith and his roots-y indie-folk-rock band, Dawes, recently performed their newest song, "Most People", live, with folk-rock legend, Bob Dylan. The sound of "Most People" is closer to Jakob Dylan than Bob, though. "Most People" adheres to the typical sort of folk-rock sound that Dawes have, but between this song and their previous adult alt smash hit, "From A Window Seat", I can tell that Dawes are shaping up their sound to be more dynamic and energetic than it was when they debuted at the end of the '00s. Some hints of Springsteen and Mellencamp type influence in this song, too. With their endless fascination for the roots-y, heartland side of classic rock, Dawes are well on their way to becoming the Black Crowes of 21st century rock music!


"New Constellation" by Toad the Wet Sprocket: And now, a new song from a group of guys who really ARE classic rock (or at least classic alt) by today's standards!! Toad the Wet Sprocket, a folk-pop/rock quartet from Santa Barbara who named themselves after a "Monty Python" skit, have not released a new album in 16 years!! Quite a long time gone for a band who made some of the biggest hits of the '90s! So how does their new song, "New Constellation", hold up in comparison to Toad standards like "All I Want" and "Walk On the Ocean"?! Well, I'm sorry to disappoint, but it doesn't hold a candle to those songs. However, "New Constellation"'s catchy, indie-pop influenced sound seems to indicate that Toad are not behind the times, and that they have a good ear for what sounds good now just as they did about a decade and a half ago. As for the lyrical direction of the song, lines like "write your name in a new constellation" might sound poetic, but it almost seems like Toad were struggling for lyrics to fit with this bouncy song. A three star effort from a four star band. Not bad, though, by any means.


"Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons: This song has already become a hit on...hmmmm...let's see...alternative rock stations, pop stations, and for some weird reason, even hard rock stations at this point, and it has been so roughly since fall of last year. So what took adult alt radio stations so long to catch up with this song, esp. since "It's Time" and "Demons" have already become hits on Triple A radio stations?! Perhaps one reason why is because "Radioactive" is considerably darker than most of the more ethereal alt-pop that Imagine Dragons have become known for. It is written in a minor key, unlike "Demons" and "It's Time", and it also has somewhat of a mood whiplash about 30 seconds into the song. "Radioactive" starts out with rather heavenly sounding instruments before going into a rather grim (by pop standards, at least) techno influenced sound for the verses. Interestingly, the chorus of the song brings back the shimmery guitars from the beginning of the song. "Radioactive" is also a rather defiant song for Imagine Dragons, as Dan Reynolds repeatedly chants "welcome to the new age" during the chorus, as though the words are supposed to signify some sort of "this is the way it is, so get used to it" kind of attitude.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New songs for June 19th, 2013

here they are:


"The One That Got Away" by The Civil Wars: The second album from The Civil Wars, a folk-rock duo comprised of one guy and one girl, is finally out. Its first single, "The One That Got Away", sticks to a lot of the bluegrass and folk influences that The Civil Wars have had for a while now, but it has a considerably "darker" sound. "The One That Got Away" could be considered the first Civil Wars song that is truly "folk-rock" for its use of both acoustic and electric guitars (and drums, another instrument previously unheard of in a lot of their material). The song's instrumentation, along with its rather brooding sound, remind me more of an acoustic Led Zeppelin song ("The Battle of Evermore" and "Gallows Pole" both come to mind here) than they do of The Civil Wars. Not a bad direction for the band to go in, though, and who knows, it must just set the template for the next Mumford & Sons or Lumineers album!!


"You Can't Be Told" by Valerie June: The typically folk-y Valerie June doesn't sound so folk-y here, which is ironic, considering that this is the first song that's gotten significant attention from her. There's a reason for "You Can't Be Told"'s blues-y snarl, though, and that is because of how The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach produced it. The particular blues-rock sound used on "You Can't Be Told" brings to mind a lot of bands from the '60s and early '70s who used that same sound, such as The Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and The Allman Brothers Band (The Allmans' cover of "Trouble No More", especially, since it has the same rhythm and distortion as this song does). Though the song only lasts a little over three minutes, it still delivers a powerful, spicy sound. As with most blues-rock songs, "You Can't Be Told" is more about the instrumentation, rhythm, and raw vocal quality, than it is about the lyrics of the song, but that should be enough to get people to like it. It worked for me!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

New songs for June 12th, 2013

here they are:


"Born Again" by Robert Randolph: Funk, jazz, blues, and rock is the kind of musical gumbo you can expect from Robert Randolph and The Family Band!! It's been about 7 years since Robert last released a CD with The Family Band, though, so I was curious to know if his musical blend still held up well. Not only does his latest song, "Born Again", retain an eclectic musical sound, but it's also incredibly fun to dance to! It has a catchy rhythm. When Randolph says in the chorus of the song that he feels "born again", I think he's referring to more than just the religious sense of the term (if that). I think he's also feeling "born again" musically, as anyone should when listening to a song like this!!


"Don't Want Lies" by The Rides: The name of this band made me think it was another up and coming indie group, but the voice of Stephen Stills (yes, THAT Stephen Stills) on "Don't Want Lies" is unmistakable!! Blues-rock aficionado Kenny Wayne Shepherd is also a part of this group, a supergroup as it turns out (I guess it's the second one Stills has had since Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young!!) Like the typical CSN & Y song, "Don't Want Lies" uses both electric and acoustic guitars. The acoustic guitars, with their crisp sound, would not have sounded too out of place on a mid-'70s CSN album, and the blues-y electric noodling is brimming with the signature sound of Kenny Wayne Shepherd. And here I thought Neil Young was the only musically active member left of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Guess I was wrong!! "Don't Want Lies" is a mellow song, but it also has a dynamic enough sound to possibly become a future concert favorite!


"Man" by Neko Case: Neko Case's music has been referred to as "indie rock" and "country rock", but the "rock" element has never been that apparent in her music. Until now, that is! "Man" is quite a "man"-ly song, if you know what I mean!! Perhaps it could be said that both the lyrics and the music of "Man" are an attempt at redefining gender roles. Rock 'n' roll has had its fair share of women before, but usually, phrases like "I'm a man" aren't present in the music of female rockers. That very phrase is the most repeated one (and perhaps, the most defining one) in Neko Case's "Man". This song is not the typical Neko Case song, by any means!! She even throws in a couple choice swears towards the end of the song, which I don't remember her doing in any of her other songs. "Man" rocks hard and pushes boundaries!! Who knew?! I sure didn't!!


"Part of Me" by The Tedeschi-Trucks Band: Yet another talented rock 'n' roll woman from the past decade or so is the blues-y, soulful, Susan Tedeschi! "Part of Me" places more emphasis on soul than on blues or rock, though. Tedeschi's signature slide guitar sound is still present on the song, but most of it just sounds like Sam & Dave's "Soul Man" with the gender roles reversed. Tedeschi and Trucks typically have upbeat music to begin with, but "Part of Me" is probably the most upbeat song they've had together so far! I don't think it's too much of a stretch to describe this song as the first feel-good jam of summer 2013!!


"Royals" by Lorde: This "Lorde" is a lady!! And a very young one, at that (she's 16 years old, believe it or not!!) Unlike the other songs I've chosen to review for this week, there is more emphasis on vocals and rhythm than there are on instruments for "Royals". Nevertheless, there is something quite alluring about "Royals". Perhaps it's the smooth, slinky vocals of Ella Yelich O'Connor (whom, by herself, is "Lorde" - it's her stage name, not the name of a band), or the way the chorus just burns its way into your subconscious when you're trying to concentrate on something else during the day!! At first listen, "Royals" probably just seems like your everyday pop song, but it seems to have this vibe that is both icy and smooth underneath. If you want your Top 40 music to have a bit more sizzle to it, then I highly recommend "Royals"!


"Stockholm" by Jason Isbell: Perhaps both the mellowest and most bittersweet of the songs I have set to review for this week, "Stockholm" marks the second time I've heard a solo release from alt-country group, Drive-By Truckers (the first being Patterson Hood's "Disappear" from last year). Between this song and the Patterson Hood song, I can tell that the Truckers have some talented, accomplished poets in their group! Examples of some of the (mostly) metaphorical, poignant lyrics of Jason's "Stockholm" include lines like, "Ships on the harbor and birds on the bluff don't move an inch when their anchor goes up, and the difference with me is I'm falling in love, Stockholm, let me go home". I love how this song utilizes the themes of loneliness and homesickness in such a playful manner. Highly recommended!!


"Wanna Feel It" by The Olms: Last, but certainly not least, is a song that comes from what you would get if you combined an indie musician (Pete Yorn) with an indie AUTHOR (J.D. King)!! Clearly Pete Yorn is taking the lead in this song by a band whose name refers to an obscure species of amphibian (an olm), with his vocals dominating the song, and his brand of bittersweet, moody folk-rock giving the song its direction. One thing that's not so Pete Yorn-ish about "Wanna Feel It" is its use of Moog synthesizer, creating a psychedelic, hypnotic swirl in the song (J.D.'s idea, perhaps?!) In any case, "Wanna Feel It" makes me...well...wanna feel it!! That is, it makes me wanna feel good!
















Wednesday, June 5, 2013

New songs for June 5th, 2013

here they are:


"College" by Rogue Wave: "College", eh?! Perfect song title for a guy who has just moved on to a four-year college (me!!) Anyway, this also happens to be a very good song, especially for those who are used to Rogue Wave being an indie-folk-rock group, as opposed to the more techno influenced sound they opted for back in 2010. So glad they are back to the sound they do best!! A jangly guitar sound, slightly reminiscent of R.E.M. circa the mid '80s, rings throughout the song, though the sound starts to gradually fade out towards the end of it. As a matter of fact, even lead singer Zach Rogue's vocals seem influenced by Michael Stipe on this track (once again, specifically reminiscent of mid '80s R.E.M. songs), as the vocals are both melodic and garbled, like those on Stipe's earlier works. It's easier to tell what Rogue is saying during the chorus, as he picks out the word "knowledge" for a somewhat cliche, but still memorable rhyme for the title of the song.


"Every Little Thing" by Eric Clapton: Not exactly the most rockin' song for Clapton, but still one worth checking out. "Every Little Thing" actually serves as a nice little combination of Clapton's folk/country influenced side during the verses, and his flirtations with reggae during the chorus. Yes, he DOES have a reggae side to his material, and not just his cover of Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff", either. His cover of Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" also has a reggae sound, and he even did a duet with Bob Marley once called "Slogans". The chorus of "Every Little Thing" is probably its saving grace, actually, as it lifts up the song enough rhythmically to make it a more enjoyable song to hear. The weird part about this song is how a chorus of children come in out of nowhere towards the end of it. Huh?! "Rastaman Clapton" doesn't seem to flow as well for me as blues-y, rockin' Clapton, but "Every Little Thing" is not among his worst material either.


"6 A.M." by Fitz and The Tantrums: Like their last big song, "Out of My League", Fitz and The Tantrums once again have made the jump from the best Motown band that never was to the best Hall and Oates tribute band that never was. Ummm...that is, if Hall and Oates got an indie-pop makeover. The combination of new wave and soul music is actually even more apparent on "6 A.M." than it was on "Out of My League". The sax in the song provides the more soulful side of it, while the synth on the song not only gives it a new wave-y sound, but it also seems to be the main instrument in the song! "6 A.M." actually contains synth SOLOS, which I never thought I'd hear from a group like Fitz and The Tantrums. From what I've read, Fitz and The Tantrums apparently think that guitars are an overrated instrument, but I would rather hear guitar solos than synth solos, myself. Perhaps something to keep in mind for their next album?! Soul music with guitars can work, just ask the guys from Funkadelic!


"Soothe My Soul" by Depeche Mode: Hmmmm...this is weird!! I NEVER thought I'd be reviewing a Depeche Mode song on my blog, yet here I am, doing exactly that! The closest I would come to being a Depeche Mode fan would be the songs on their late '80s/early '90s smash album, "Violator", which contains songs like "Personal Jesus", "Policy of Truth", and "Enjoy the Silence", all of which used electric guitars, despite the fact that DM were primarily viewed as a "synthesizer band" at the time. While there are no guitars I can hear clearly enough in "Soothe My Soul", it DOES sound an awful lot like "Personal Jesus" in terms of the rhythm of the song. Perhaps the fact that "Soothe My Soul" has a familiar sounding rhythm is what I like best about it. Other than that, it just kinda sounds like your typical song from "Depressed Mode" (as one DJ for an alt-rock station decided to call them, heheh). Once again, I feel like this song COULD use a bit more guitar, but then again, that's probably because I play guitar, and have done so for over 10 years now.


"Trying to Be Cool" by Phoenix: I once read that one of Phoenix's fave bands is Electric Light Orchestra. It was a little hard for me to believe that until I heard "Trying to Be Cool", which has a very similar A minor chord progression (and rhythm) to ELO's "Evil Woman". Rest assured, though, Phoenix is still Phoenix, they haven't switched their Talking Heads-ish brand of danceable indie-pop to '70s prog-rock. "Trying to Be Cool" isn't as catchy as most of Phoenix's material, but it's definitely still catchy! Lyrically, "Trying to Be Cool" is a pretty weird song!! What exactly IS "mint julep testosterone", and "two dozen pink and white ranunculus" (also, what IS a "ranunculus" in the first place)?! Such is the appeal of Phoenix, though. Their lyrics don't need to make sense, as long as the tune of the song is good, and, as usual, it is!!


"Unbelievers" by Vampire Weekend: And I thought "Diane Young" was a "retro" sounding song from VW!! That song sounds positively modern compared to their "Unbelievers", though, which has a piano based sound reminiscent of some of The Beatles' more piano based songs. I'm used to Ezra Koenig and co imitating the sounds of The Police, Bob Marley, Peter Gabriel, and "Graceland" era Paul Simon, but this takes the band to an era about 10 years before music like that became known! As the title of the song indicates, "Unbelievers" deals with topics like religion and fate, yet it sounds like such a happy song, that it makes me want to get up and do a Snoopy dance!!





















Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New songs for May 29th, 2013

here they are:


"Better Days" by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros: Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, perhaps the best nine or ten piece indie rock group since Arcade Fire, seem to have a knack for sounding like a band from the 1960's. Even their techniques for production sound like something from 45 or so years ago. Their sound leaned mostly towards folk-rock until their latest song, "Better Days", though. This song sounds more like a long lost "Sgt. Pepper" track, with its steady, marching drumbeat, swirling, psychedelic electric (gasp!) guitars, and shiny, upbeat brass section. Seems like every band is trying to veer off in a new direction these days, and Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros are no exception. At least they're staying true to their "retro" sound, though, which is a large part of what makes them so appealing.


"Can You Get to That?" by Mavis Staples: The soul legend, Mavis Staples, seems to have been all about cover songs in the 2010's. At the start of the decade, she did a rather roots-y rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Wrote A Song For Everyone". This time around, she's covering a Funkadelic song (which was covered earlier this year by indie-pop group, The Living Sisters, coincidentally). Her choice is interesting, considering that this is sort of a folk-rock song, which was an extremely uncommon style for Funkadelic to perform in (though Funkadelic are a pretty eclectic group, esp. when it comes to songs like the not-so-funky, 8-minute, Hendrix-ian guitar jam-fest, "Maggot Brain"). Regardless, though, Mavis injects enough soulfulness and talent to make her take on "Can You Get to That?" shine through!


"Get Lucky" by Daft Punk: Yet another retro-soul styled song, but reminiscent of a different era (it sounds a bit like a disco song circa '78), and from a group I never would have expected, either! Daft Punk are typically more of a techno group - not only in sound, but in looks as well (their members regularly dress up in robot costumes!!) The instruments don't sound very Daft Punk-ish. There is clearly an electric guitar keeping rhythm throughout the song, and nary a synthesizer in the whole thing! The "robot voice" present in most Daft Punk songs only appears twice in "Get Lucky". The vocals that take place in most of "Get Lucky" sound more...well...human!! A refreshing, unique song for the guys whom I previously knew for doing a song whose sole "lyrics" were "Bow...now now now now nowww...bow now now nowwww...bow now now now nowww..."


"I Will Steal You Back" by Jimmy Eat World: In the early '00s, Jimmy Eat World had one of the catchiest power pop mega-hits with "The Middle", a song that, in my opinion, rivaled the catchiness (and, arguably, popularity) of power pop classics like "My Sharona" and "What I Like About You". However, Jimmy Eat World's other songs seemed more like that messy cross between power pop and grunge that groups like Weezer (whom I've honestly never quite warmed up to) became known for. About the closest I came to liking a Jimmy Eat World song other than "The Middle" was their surprisingly neo-folk-rock-y cover of Wham!'s "Last Christmas". That being said, I was NEVER expecting Jimmy Eat World to come out with a song like "I Will Steal You Back"!! While it is nowhere near as catchy as "The Middle", it is a lot more tolerable than most of their material to me. It starts out with an acoustic guitar, for one, an instrument that is usually not present on their material. The song builds up to a chorus that has a bit more punch to it than the verses, but still manages to remain relatively mellow, almost like one of the "lighter" songs that The Foo Fighters have done, though the vocals on "I Will Steal You Back" are a bit too harmony laced to be Foos-ish. It took almost 10 years for Jimmy Eat World to win me over again, but now they finally have!! Wonder if they'll continue in this direction?!


"Pour A Little Poison" by David Ford: One of the most bitter, sarcastic folk-rock songs I have ever known is "I Don't Care What You Call Me" by David Ford, which, up until now, was the only song I knew by him. The title alone of "Pour A Little Poison" made me think it was gonna be a similar song to "I Don't Care What You Call Me", and lyrically, it is ("Pour a little poison on my good name"), but instrumentally, it sounds like an unusually catchy Bob Dylan song, complete with a "clap-along" rhythm section, a huge departure from the world-weary sound of "I Don't Care What You Call Me". "Pour A Little Poison" is also much shorter in length, clocking in at only 2 minutes and 45 seconds. Perhaps David has been taking cues from other "sarcastic but catchy" indie-folk-rock singers, like Jake Bugg and Frank Turner. It certainly sounds that way to me!


"That's Who I Am" by Neko Case: Neko Case has always peppered her brand of alt-country with a bit of snark, and "That's Who I Am" is no exception. What makes this song different is that (surprise!!) it's actually a cover of a John Mellencamp song!! Even stranger than that is that it's from a musical that John Mellencamp wrote with Stephen King (yes, THAT Stephen King). To warp your opinion of this song even further, Neko's take on this song has a sound that suggests what it might be like if Johnny Cash started doing cabaret material!! Well it sounds like that to me, anyway. See for yourself, though!!











Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New songs for May 15th, 2013

here they are:


“Awkward” by San Cisco: If you’re used to indie rock, there’s absolutely nothing “awkward” about this song (except maybe the pace of the way the lyrics are sung for every second line of the song, haha). “Awkward” by San Cisco combines the best of…well…a couple worlds, really. The reedy, “British Aussie” vocals of Luke Pritchard from The Kooks, the uber-catchy vibes of the typical Vampire Weekend song, the missing link between garage rock and new wave that The Strokes are known for, and the exchange between male lead vocals and female lead vocals made popular by groups like The xx are all apparent influences on “Awkward”. The lyrics of the song seem like they would have fit in perfectly with a “hipster romance” film like “Juno”, seeing how they are seemingly affectionate (but not really) lyrics sung in a dry manner. “Awkward”?! Like I said, it’s only “awkward” if you’re not into the whole indie rock thing. Otherwise, enjoy!!


"Bleeding Out" by The Lone Bellow: Those who heard The Lone Bellow's "You Never Need Nobody" probably got the impression that they were a trio of "lonesome country sweethearts". Their second big song, "Bleeding Out", still has a somewhat roots-y sound, but it's not lonesome, and not exactly sweet, either. "Bleeding Out" makes The Lone Bellow sound more like a full blown band than just a trio, what with its use of both electric and acoustic guitars, a discernible, waltz-y rhythm section, and even a brass section after each chorus! The emotional quality of The Lone Bellow's music really does "bleed out" on "Bleeding Out". Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve!


“Diamonds” by The Boxer Rebellion: If it sounds like a broken hearted indie rock song, that’s because it is. The Boxer Rebellion’s latest tune, “Diamonds”, is so called because the lead singer feels like he is “No good next to Diamonds”, in terms of his love life. Wow, that must be a drag!! Thankfully, the textured, echoing, atmospheric feel of “Diamonds” makes Nathan Nicholson’s complaints worth listening to. This song gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “diamond in the rough”!!


"Hit Or Miss" by Tom Jones: "It's not unusual to be loved by anyone", as one of Jones' most famous songs states. It is unusual, however, for Tom to take a folk-rock approach to his music! He does exactly that with "Hit Or Miss", which, in spite of its not-so-Tom-Jones-ish sound, manages to be a winner nonetheless! The song is both honest and charming, with its theme centering around how refreshing it is to just be yourself. So, is this a hit, or a miss?! Hit!! And a pretty big one, at that!


"Shameless" by Lissie: Lissie?! More like "Lizzie", as in '90s indie-pop goddess, Liz Phair! After all, that's what Lissie's latest tune, "Shameless", sounds like to me, in terms of both its gutsy alt-pop, and its defiant lyrics!! So what happened here?! Did Lissie think that the bittersweet sound of songs like "In Sleep" and "When I'm Alone" didn't carry enough musical weight?! Calm down!! You don't have to get all "You Oughta Know" on us just because you haven't become a household name yet! On a more serious note, though, "Shameless" IS a good song! However, it's probably also going to end up being a song that drives away a good portion of what Lissie's fanbase has become so far.