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!!