here they are:
"A Tattered Line of String" - by The Postal Service: It sounds like an unusually mellow brand of techno with the vocals of Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie. Hmmmm....sounds like the same guys who sung the chill 2004 techno-rocker "Such Great Heights". Have they come out of hibernation after 9 years?! Yes!! They have!! And those are Ben Gibbard's vocals, The Postal Service was (and is) his side project. I personally think Ben is better as a folk-rocker than as a new wave revivalist, but ever since the beginning of this year, I began hearing about how The Postal Service were going to reform, and I noticed that many people were eagerly anticipating their sophomore album, and now it's finally arrived! Not a bad effort for Mr. Gibbard, but I think he should stick with either Death Cab or his solo material for next time.
"Entertainment" by Phoenix: And now, here is yet another band who launched the new wave sound into a new age! Their songs "1901" and "Lisztomania" were both instant hits, probably because the synth side and the rock side of new wave never sounded so good together since Talking Heads had their last string of hits together! The latest song from the catchy French indie pop group Phoenix, "Entertainment", is a bit less focused on the guitar than their previous songs were. The sound of the song screams out "geek-rock", as it seems like it would be the perfect theme song to a video game or anime series, perhaps because it uses a scale during the chorus that is common to Japanese music. A different kind of "entertainment" than the typical Phoenix fan might be used to, but "Entertainment" is entertaining nonetheless.
"Gotta Get Over" by Eric Clapton: Initially a part of powerhouse psychedelic blues-rock groups like The Yardbirds and Cream, there are those who criticize Clapton of "softening" or "polishing" his sound ever since the mid 1970's. The criticism is certainly valid in some ways, and indeed, he seemed to hit a low point in his career around the mid '90s, in which his sound was closer to folk and country than it was to blues, but ever since the release of his 2010 rocker, "Run Back to Your Side", Clapton has beefed up his sound so that it sounds closer to "After Midnight" than it does to a sub-par version of "Tears In Heaven". "Gotta Get Over" is another rockin', bluesy number from Eric Clapton. Not a whole lot of lyrics on "Gotta Get Over", but since the focus here is more on the electric guitar sound, the lyrical content doesn't matter as much for this song. Keep rockin' on, E.C.!!
"Just to Make Me Feel Good" by Adam Green and Binki Shapiro: The Moldy Peaches' lead singer (the one who sings the male vocals on "Anyone Else But You" from "Juno"), and the female multi-instrumentalist from indie-pop group Little Joy joining forces together could spell trouble for Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward (known together as "She & Him"). It doesn't look like Adam and Binki are going to be anywhere near as well known as Zooey and Matt, but they still make an endearing (if odd) indie-pop duo. Unlike She & Him, in which Zooey has pretty much all the vocal duties, Adam and Binki trade off vocal sections on their songs. Their first major song, "Just to Make Me Feel Good", has the breezy, feel-good sound of a 1960's pop song. There is definitely a major difference between the charming, bubbly female vocals of Binki Shapiro and the low, deadpan male vocals of Adam Green, but somehow, they manage to make it work here, and to great effect as well!
"Long Time Gone" by The Civil Wars and T-Bone Burnett: Old folk meets new folk! The Civil Wars have had a couple hits now among indie and neo-folk fans, and T-Bone Burnett is known more for his production (like on the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack) than his songs, but they both share a love for roots-y American folk music. Aside from The Wars' best known song, "Barton Hollow", "Long Time Gone" is probably the roots-iest, folk-iest song they've ever done! As always, Joy and John make their harmonies soar on "Long Time Gone", and T-Bone Burnett's accompaniment makes The Civil Wars sound like a band that came out of...well...the Civil War!
"Minute By Minute" by The James Hunter Six: Whoa! Did I just take a time machine to 1967 and end up in Stax Records Studios?! (The people known for producing Otis Redding's material and some of Wilson Pickett's) It sure seems like I did! It's R & B music, but definitely not what people would associate with contemporary R & B. This is the classic stuff, with raw, passionate vocals, steamy saxophones, and clean, slick organs. The most striking feature of Hunter's music? He's WHITE!! I'm not someone who considers ethnicity in music (or anything) to be a big deal, but Hunter has such close vocals to Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, etc., that I thought he was more African-American than Caucasian. I guess Hunter embraces both vintage sound and racial diversity, so I say, way to go, man!!
"Spotlight" by Leagues: A bit late in reviewing this song, I realize, since it's been out since late December, but it's only been within the last week that I've noticed an increase in the airplay of this song (perhaps because that's how recently it was featured in "Grey's Anatomy"). With its echoic guitar sound and catchy rhythm, I’m honestly surprised that “Spotlight” hasn’t been a hit in formats other than adult alternative yet! (Perhaps I’ve spoken too soon, though). Its chorus, consisting only of the phrases “I’m never gonna give you up” and “Spotlight, I’ve got a spotlight”, is short, but extremely effective in terms of getting stuck in one’s head. “Spotlight”’s pentatonic guitar solo in the middle of the song is like the cherry on top of this already delicious ice cream of a song!
“The Lightning Strike” by Snow Patrol: Snow Patrol seem to love updating their older material with new arrangements! It’s happened twice now, with the 2009 release of “An Olive Grove Facing the Sea” (originally from 2001) and the 2010 release of “Set the Fire to the Third Bar” (originally from 2006). Their third “re-release” song is “The Lightning Strike”, originally from 2008. The song adds yet another unique flavor of sound to the Irish indie pop group’s already eclectic catalog. The chord progression of the song seems more common to classical music than it is to rock and pop, and the instrumentation is incredibly orchestral for a Snow Patrol song. Another aspect that makes “The Lightning Strike” stand out among previous material from Gary Lightbody and co? It has THREE PARTS!! As far as rock music goes, I would expect a song with more than one part from, say, Rush, Pink Floyd, Yes, or Jethro Tull, but NOT Snow Patrol!! As adult alt radio stations don’t seem to typically play songs that are actually two (or more) songs in one, I think it’s safe to assume that only the first part of “The Lightning Strike” will be spun on such stations. The imagery of “perfect halos”, “silver forked skies”, and “peeling thunder” probably wouldn’t sound too out of place in a prog-rock album, actually. Who knew Snow Patrol were closet Pink Floyd fans?! I sure didn’t!!