Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New songs for January 30th, 2013

here they are:

"Little Numbers" by Boy: Their name might be "Boy", but they're actually two women! As for the title of their latest song, "Little Numbers", it is quite a fitting title for a song whose music video features children clapping and dancing along to the beat of the song, and the members of the band being silly and playing on a giant chalk keyboard with each other. "Little" and "numbers" are both words that bring my childhood to mind, and perhaps many childhoods (esp. the word "little"). The song's clap-along beat and sugary (but not TOO sugary) harmonies are yet another peppy aspect of it. The song itself is about a relationship, but it has no "downer" lyrics, from what I can tell. In case you are curious to know what the music video for "Little Numbers" was like, here is a link to it. Enjoy!

"San Francisco" by The Mowgli's: With a band name that brings to mind that kid in "The Jungle Book" who hung out with a talking bear and roamed about in red underwear, it's no surprise to me that The Mowgli's have such an upbeat, friendly sound! Like the previous song I reviewed for this week, "San Francisco" has a cute video to go with it, featuring paper cut-outs of a boy and a girl that probably wouldn't have been too out of place on an old episode of "Sesame Street". With its irresistible rhythm, insanely catchy melodies, and "doot-doo-doo doo"'s punctuating each verse of the song, "San Francisco" is the perfect song to make the kid in you come out and dance!! The music video can be viewed with the following link:

"Tightrope" by Walk the Moon: For a band who named themselves after The Police's "Walking On the Moon", Walk the Moon definitely seem to follow in their mentors' footsteps in terms of their energetic, new wave-based pop/rock sound! I don't think Sting and the boys ever created a music video like the one for "Tightrope", though! Yes, here is yet ANOTHER song for this week with a creative music video! It's what you'd probably get if you crossed the gaudy, exotic costumes from "Cats" with the quirky puppetry from "Sesame Street", and put them both out in the woods at dusk! Without the music video, "Tightrope" is a funky, danceable song as well, but the video makes the song worth listening to, in my opinion. The link can be found here:

"We the Common" by Thao with The Stay Down Get Down: If Bjork had a more folks-y, bluegrass flavor, she'd probably sound like Thao, one half of the indie-pop duo Thao and Mirah. Lyrically, "We the Common" sounds like a protest song, but I don't think I've ever heard a protest song sound this both this folk-y AND this funky, which makes "We the Common" quite a memorable song for my ears! "We the Common" can be summed up in the following three terms: Bjork-ish vocals, banjo, funky beats. An unlikely combination, but I say, the more unlikely, the better!

"Wild Country" by Wake Owl: This song (and the one that comes after it) for this week are probably the only two songs listed in this entry without a sense of relentless energy to them. Songs for quiet time can be quite peaceful, though, and "Wild Country" by Wake Owl can certainly be defined by words like "peaceful". "Melancholy" is a word that can describe both the mood and the lyrics of "Wild Country", with its lonesome vocals, sighing violins, and lovelorn, sorrowful words like, "Never gonna chase something, it's a total waste running". "Wild Country" is anything BUT "wild". It's a song that's as precious as it is fragile, and one that I hold dear to my heart!

"You Never Need Nobody" by The Lone Bellow: Having never heard of The Lone Bellow before, I decided to look them up on a music website, which compared them to bands like Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, and The Civil Wars. I knew from this that I'd probably fall in love with their music, and I did! (Though Wake Owl are better, in my opinion). Still, "You Never Need Nobody" has a quaint, down home-y vibe to it that's hard to resist. It sounds like the kind of song you might play near a campfire right before you go to bed, or maybe one that you'd play outside on a porch of a log cabin. In any case, though, "You Never Need Nobody" is a charming song with a wistful melody, and is another great addition to the ever expanding folk-rock catalog of the 2010's!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New songs for January 23rd, 2013

here they are:

"A Memo" by Robert Cray: The man behind the mid-'80s blues-rock song, "Smoking Gun", is back again. He gave us a similar song to "Smoking Gun" ("Won't Be Coming Home") last summer. His latest song, "A Memo", still has that "clean polished" blues-rock vibe behind it, but somehow it feels more like an authentic brand of blues than "(Won't Be) Coming Home" did. Plenty of tasty blues-y guitar licks to be found in "A Memo", as well as its organs backing it up to give it that "vintage soul" flavor. A title like "A Memo" makes it sound like an urgent song, but it's actually a love song. Dunno where Robert Cray came up with the title for this song, but at least the song itself is decent material.

"Demons" by Imagine Dragons: One of the most major (and unexpected) smashes of 2012 came from Imagine Dragons, in the form of the transcendental sounding alt-pop song, "It's Time". Since then, I've heard quite a few more songs from the oddly named Imagine Dragons ("Radioactive", "Amsterdam", "Round and Round"), yet only one other song of theirs (so far) has made it on to the adult alt airwaves, and that is their song "Demons". It honestly puzzles me to think that "Demons" is only ID's second adult alt radio hit, since the other songs I named are equally compelling ("Radioactive" has even become a hit on regular alt stations). The title alone of "Demons" indicates it's kind of a downer song, lyrically, and it certainly turns out to be that upon listening to it (especially with such cynical lyrics as, "No matter what we breed, we are still made of greed"). A far cry from the "I'm never changing who I am", positive atmosphere of "It's Time", but still a great song!

"Good Things Happen to Bad People" by Richard Thompson: Richard Thompson is, in some ways, like Neil Young's lesser-known counterpart from the British isles. He doesn't usually rock as hard as Neil does, but he does tend to drift between doing acoustic and electric guitar songs (interestingly, Thompson's newest album is even CALLED "Electric"). "Good Things Happen to Bad People" has a sound that's closer to acoustic than electric, though (except during the solo, which is somewhat Neil Young-ish), despite its album's title. Richard's songs usually have engaging, creative narratives (one of his best being "1952 Vincent Black Lightning", about an ill-fated romance that occurs because of the mutual love that the song's characters share for a vintage motorcycle). "Good Things Happen to Bad People", just from its title, seems like it would have an interesting narrative as well, and it does. The song is basically composed of fictional vignettes that all relate to jealousy. Thompson has always been clever and inventive in terms of both his music and his lyrics, and it's great to see he still has the talent for both!

"Heavy Feet" by Local Natives: When Local Natives released "Breakers" as the first single from their latest album, I was a bit disappointed. Instead of the dreamy, psychedelic neo-folk that Local Natives are known for, I got something that sounded a bit more modern and techno influenced. Thankfully, with "Heavy Feet", the second song off The Natives' latest CD, the band redeems themselves, and I get exactly what I would expect out of them, ultra mellow neo-psychedelia. I have adored the unique style of Local Natives ever since they came out around 2010, but "Heavy Feet" marks the first time I've heard them on adult alt radio. Not sure why it took 'em this long to get there, but at least they're there now! Though "Heavy Feet" is written in a major key, the sighing heave in both the vocals and the guitar of the song suggest a more lonesome, dreary emotional quality that major key songs don't often have. The chorus of the song ("After everything/Left in the sun/Shivering") only confirms the desolate nature of it. Yet, as I often say, sad songs make me happy (perhaps its the therapeutic, soothing vibe they give off?!) So "Heavy Feet" is a winner for me!

"Party Kids" by Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside: And now, we move from a sad song to a more upbeat one, and a really gritty, blues-y one, too! Previously, I only knew Sallie for being the singer that Black Prairie's lead singer did a duet with on their Christmas song, "(Everybody's Waiting For) The Man With the Bag". "Party Kids", of course, is no Christmas song, but with its bouncy, energetic sound, it sure feels like a holiday just listening to it! To add to the spicy flavor of the instrumentation of "Party Kids" are the lyrics, which gave me the impression that "party" referred to one involving alcohol and rebellion, as opposed to just an innocent, "fun" party. Then again, with the gutsy vocals of Sallie Ford, and the upfront attitude of the song, what else would you expect?!

"Running For Cover" by Ivan & Alyosha: Although Ivan and Alyosha are probably the actual names of the members of the band, it seems like even their NAME makes them sound "indie" (perhaps part of the reason why is because of the incredibly unusual name "Alyosha"). It turned out my guessing that Ivan & Alyosha were an indie band was correct, and they're a darn good one, at that! More specifically, Ivan & Alyosha are an indie-folk band, with acoustic guitar, light percussion, and an electric guitar in the background as the main instruments. The song's harmonies and acoustic guitar based sound convey a sense of sweetness, while its melody and lyrics are more fragile than that. Somehow, though, the combination of sweetness and fragility in "Running For Cover" manage to be quite a winning one!

"Upstarts" by Johnny Marr: "Upstarts" is a word that one might use to describe Johnny Marr's ex-bandmate, Morrissey, from The Smiths, who was known for being both pretentious and cynical. In the music world, Morrissey is both the ultimate deadpan snarker and the ultimate pessimist, so I was expecting something similar from Johnny Marr. What I got, though, was something completely different! "Upstarts" sounds more upbeat than most Smiths/Morrissey songs, suggesting more of a garage-rock/punk-pop flavor than the gloomy alt-pop that Morrissey typically did. If Morrissey's ultra-low baritone could be considered a male version of The Velvet Underground's Nico (which I'm sure it could), then Johnny Marr is like The Smiths' equivalent to Lou Reed. Johnny has more attitude in both his music and vocals than Morrissey, much like how Lou Reed has more of said qualities in comparison to Nico. Since Johnny was The Smiths' guitarist, it's not a rare opportunity to hear him play guitar, but it's incredibly rare to hear him sing. Having heard his voice for the first time on "Upstarts", I must say that he's pretty good at it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New songs for the New Year Part 2 - Brand new for January 2013!!

And NOW comes the fun part!! The songs that are brand new for the New Year!! Here goes:

"A New Life" by Jim James (from My Morning Jacket): Jim's latest album is called "Regions of Light and Sounds of God". His newest song, "A New Life", SOUNDS like it came from God within a region of light!! There's something heavenly, in the most authentic sense of the term, about "A New Life". It doesn't sound like the Grateful Dead-meets-Flaming Lips type sound that MMJ became known for in their later years, but more like the gentle, breezy folk-rock of their debut song, "Golden". In fact, "A New Life" is even MORE gentle and breezy than "Golden" was. It's absolutely exhilarating how "A New Life" climaxes! It starts off with Jim's vocals behind a lightly strummed acoustic guitar, then the guitar gets strummed more clearly, and from there, new instruments get added in gradually, starting with a tinkly piano, then a string section, drums, and finally a...saxophone?! Well, it fits in this song!! I don't know how it does, but it does! I feel like I just died and went to heaven. Therefore, I think "A New Life" is a very fitting title for such an ethereal, other-worldly song!!

"Bigger Than Love" by Benjamin Gibbard (from Death Cab for Cutie), featuring Aimee Mann: Although Ben has done better material with Death Cab, there are a couple things I really like about his latest song, "Bigger Than Love". First of all, it features power pop chanteuse Aimee Mann, which is great, not only because I love her music, but also because she just put out an album of her own in summer of 2012, so she's quite a busy woman! It's also really neat that the song has gotten popularity among YouTube viewers because of its performance on "The Colbert Report". The best thing about "Bigger Than Love", though, to me, is how it was inspired by the love letters that were written between F. Scott Fitzgerald, and his wife, Zelda. Actually, that's quite fitting, considering that there's supposed to be a "Great Gatsby" movie coming out soon. Wonder if this song will be featured on the soundtrack?!

"Come Unto Me" by The Mavericks: I thought I knew The Mavericks from their bouncy country-pop/rock song, "I Wanna Know", but this song sounds different from that (and much better!!) "Come Unto Me" is more than just country-rock. There seems to be a sort of Mexican flavor to it, as well as an exotic, gypsy-ish chord progression in the middle of the song. This song could easily be mistaken for a Los Lobos song, and they are a great band! Who knew that one of the first songs of 2013 would also be one of the spiciest?! I didn't, but I'm sure glad I heard it!!

"I'm In, I'm Out, And I'm Gone" by Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite: This song starts out with a riff that has been used in countless rock and roll songs, from The Yardbirds' "I'm A Man" to The Black Keys' "Howlin' For You". "I'm In, I'm Out, And I'm Gone" rarely strays from its two chord vamp used in the verses (in fact, the only other chord used in the song comes in during the chorus). This isn't progressive rock, classical, or jazz, though, this is the blues, and blues chords are supposed to have a simple progression!! Some killer harmonica solos on this song, too, so great, that they probably have the power to make the spirit of Muddy Waters come out and groove to the music!

"Ramona" by Night Beds: The bittersweet vocals of this song, which sound halfway between Rufus Wainwright and Ryan Adams, as well as its swooning, swaying guitars, make "Ramona" quite a fitting song from the wintertime. Lyrically, "Ramona" is quite a sad song as well, about the titular girl's separation from both her family and herself, and the anxiety that results from her trying to deal with such situations. It seems as though lead singer Winston Yellen is frustrated, too, as he urges Ramona to "f**k what they taught ya" ("they" probably referring to her family, or perhaps society in general) in the song. Now is the winter of our discontent!!

"The Woodpile" by Frightened Rabbit: This is a good song, but a bit of a letdown for me as far as Frightened Rabbit's material is concerned. I first heard about the Scottish folk-rock group, Frightened Rabbit, in March 2010, when they released "Swim Until You Can't See Land", a gentle, bittersweet song that I have come to love ever since! "The Woodpile" is different than that. It's a bit more plain old bitter than it is bittersweet (though it is still melodic), and the acoustic/electric guitar melding I got used to hearing from "Swim Until You Can't See Land" is now completely electric, with a sound that is somewhat similar to Death Cab for Cutie's earlier material. Even the opening lyrics of "The Woodpile" suggest an all new getup for Frightened Rabbit, mentioning "electric floors", "red meat markets", and "fire doors", all conjuring up vivid yet provocative imagery. I guess Frightened Rabbit aren't so frightened anymore!! They are now the ones facing their fears and taking action!

"Where Are We Now?" by David Bowie: Last, but certainly not least, is the most anticipated new song (so far) of 2013, from none other than the Thin White Duke himself!! It's not one of Bowie's most rockin' numbers, but it doesn't need to be, because...ummm...oh yeah, he's DAVID BOWIE!! He can do anything, and it's bound to impress someone! "Where Are We Now?" is one of the most impressive songs Bowie has ever done!! It is almost like a "crooner" song for someone like him, but it is far more philosophical than it is a love song. It's great to see that, after more than 60 years into his life, David Bowie is still contemplating deep thoughts. What can I say, Bowie is like a fine wine. He only gets better as time goes on!!

New blog for the New Year Part 1 - Leftover from December 2012

Whew!! Had a lot of catching up to do within the past couple weeks, so much so that I missed some good ones from December that I'm just now starting to pay attention to. So here they are:

"Cut Me Some Slack" by Paul McCartney, Pat Smear (Foo Fighters), and the remaining members of Nirvana: Paul McCartney and WHO?!? I like Paul McCartney, and I like Nirvana, but putting them together is like having jalapeno flavored ice cream!! Or so I thought before I actually heard the song. Although Macca is mostly known for softer material, he can crank out a solid hard rocker every once in a while (just look at The Beatles' "Helter Skelter", which McCartney sang the lead vocals on!!) Sir Paul lets out a primal scream of angst throughout "Cut Me Some Slack". Sure, Paul's no Kurt Cobain, but he must have been channeling Kurt's spirit (or maybe John Lennon's) when he did this song. After listening to "Cut Me Some Slack", all I can say is, "I've got blisters on me fingers!!"

"Hang Loose" by Alabama Shakes: A catchy Creedence Clearwater Revival style guitar riff, Memphis soul saxophones, and raw, passionate vocals that would make Janis Joplin proud can only mean one thing. Alabama Shakes are back again!! For their third major song, "Hang Loose", they do exactly as the title says. That is to say, Brittany Howard and co just take things easy in "Hang Loose", a song that is as mellow as it is danceable and soulful. My only complaint about this song is that it's only two and a half minutes long. I wish it were longer!!

"Joy to You Baby" by Josh Ritter: The song's title might indicate "joy", but the song itself is more of a melancholy one, though I've come to expect this from Josh Ritter. It's what makes his music likable, after all. Ritter's clever lyrical imagery, however, is what makes his latest song, "Joy to You Baby", so memorable. For instance, he sings about how, when he goes to parties, he drinks "cups of who cares", and how ghosts in the graveyard float between "what is" and "what if". Of course, the song wouldn't be complete without his capoed acoustic guitar either, as that is central to both the mood and the melody of the song. "Joy to You Baby" is as lovely as it is witty, a rare, but certainly enjoyable feat in music these days!

"New Alphabet" by Eels: New alphabet?! OK!! Z Y X, W V, U T S, R Q P!! Oh wait, it's not THAT kind of "new alphabet"?! Oh. What Mark Everett (better known simply as "E") means by "new alphabet" is (probably) that he wants a new way to express himself "When the words just sound like noise", and "when the world stops making sense". Like most of The Eels' material, "New Alphabet" sounds like the kind of song Beck might do, both vocally, lyrically, and instrumentally (but keep in mind that Eels have been around since 1996, a mere three years after Beck's debut in the music scene, so it's not exactly a "rip-off"). Most of the songs Eels have done within the past couple years have a soft, almost billowy sound to them. "New Alphabet" has a bit more "meat" on it, so to speak, but it's still as melodic as ever, and it has a neat little plucked string section between the verses and chorus.

"Nowhere, Massachusetts" by Black Prairie: When it comes to country-rock, the music is usually a bit more upbeat than its plain ol' country counterpart, but Black Prairie are different than that (what else would you expect from a band whose first known song was called "How Do You Ruin Me?") Country-rock probably hasn't been this sad (and especially with such authentic sadness) since the late '60s, when The Flying Burrito Brothers did their tearjerker of a song, "Hot Burrito # 1". "Nowhere, Massachusetts" is even sadder than that, at least in terms of its lonesome, homesick sound. The acoustic guitar and vocals at the beginning are already bittersweet enough, and it only gets more so from there, especially with the sighing violin in the song. This was the very last "new" song I heard in 2012, so I guess it's only fitting that it sounds like a "goodbye song".

"The John Wayne" by Little Green Cars: THE John Wayne?! Not sure why there's an article preceding the title, because it makes it sound like the latest dance craze (as in, "Come on everybody, let's do The John Wayne!") However, "The John Wayne" is FAR from a dance craze. It is, instead, a bittersweet sounding song about how it's "easy to fall in love", and the dangers that come with doing so. The title of the song comes from how the lead singer feels "shot down" (as though he's in a John Wayne movie) by the one he has fallen in love with. More melancholia?! Sounds like more music for me to become enamored with!!

"Two Fingers" by Jake Bugg: Aside from his last name, one of the most memorable things about Jake Bugg is that he's only 18 years old!! He sounds like he's in his late 20's or early 30's, but he isn't, and he's also British (take THAT, One Direction!!) It's also pretty easy to get the impression that Jake probably enjoys his parents' music more than that of his own generation, since he sounds like a cross between The Beatles and Bob Dylan. "Two Fingers" is also a very deep and somewhat depressing song, lyrically. No one I know of has written a song like this in their teens since Jackson Browne did with "These Days" when he was only a year younger than Jake!