here they are:
"Bang Bang, Boom Boom" by Beth Hart: Beth debuted back in the early 2000's with the Alanis Morissette-ish "L.A. Song", but I would think that that's a song she'd rather forget about, because ever since then, she's gone in a more blues-y, jazzy direction. Her latest song, "Bang Bang, Boom Boom", takes her brand of blues-rock in a direction that is rarely touched upon in music these days. Instead of using the guitar as the dominant instrument, the piano takes center stage for "Bang Bang, Boom Boom", and it works really well in this song, too! Instead of using the piano in a delicate, fragile manner, Beth puts it to use as though it's a seductive instrument being used in a cabaret or a nightclub. The syncopation in the song is set to a marching rhythm, adding yet another element to "Bang Bang, Boom Boom" that makes it one hot firecracker of a song!
"Grace For Saints And Ramblers" by Iron and Wine: As you might expect, Iron & Wine's latest song is a folk-rock song. What you might not have expected is for that song to be a happy one instead of a sad one. "Grace For Saints And Ramblers", the most recent song from IAW, has more orchestration than most of the songs from Sam Beam's one man band. The combination of acoustic guitars with sax and violins is closer to recent indie-pop stars like Regina Spektor and Belle & Sebastian than it is to IAW's usual influences, such as the more somber, stark folk-rock of Nick Drake and Elliott Smith. The lyrics are pure abstraction (for instance, "Bodies full of penny wishes, parties full of pretty dishes, side by side with the birds and bees"...Huh?!), but at least it shows that Sam Beam is more of a free spirit than his fans might like to think he is!
"Hacienda Motel" by Pickwick: Pickwick's sound is probably a bit too close to bands like Modest Mouse and Dr. Dog to be as memorable as their rhyming name, but their back story is still an interesting one! Originally their sound was closer to a neo-folk-rock type, a la Ryan Adams, Wilco, and My Morning Jacket, but they wanted to change things up a bit for themselves once they found out that pretty much everyone was trying to sound like that, so they decided to go with more of an "alternative soul" sound instead. "Hacienda Motel", the first song so far to get attention from Pickwick, was like a "bridge song" for the band, because it officially marked the point when they quit on folk-rock, and started up on the indie-pop world's answer to neo-soul. What can I say, it never hurts to try something different!
"Staying Alive" by The Whigs: Before I review this song, I'd like to issue a warning to any Bee Gees fans that might be reading this review. This song is NOT a cover of The Bee Gees' "Staying Alive", it's a completely different song!! Now that I've gotten that out of the way, on with the song. Like The Whigs' previous song, "Waiting", "Staying Alive" boasts a blues-y brand of indie rock comparable to bands like The Hold Steady and The Gaslight Anthem, both of whom can be described as a "missing link" between Bruce Springsteen and The Replacements. "Staying Alive" could be said to be even more Springsteen-ian than The Hold Steady or The Gaslight Anthem, since it has a soulful sax solo that the late Clarence Clemons would probably be proud of if he got the chance to hear it! Not exactly the longest song in the world, and nor is it too heavy on lyrics, but "Staying Alive" still manages to be the perfect combination of gritty, working class roots rock and soulful, spirited jazz-rock!
"The Stars Are Out Tonight" by David Bowie: For a rocker that has been around for nearly 4 decades now, Bowie is still making waves to this very day with his music!! As was the case with his "Where Are We Now" from January of this year, "The Stars Are Out Tonight" is the most heavily anticipated song of this week, as far as material on the adult alt charts goes!! "The Stars Are Out Tonight" has a bit more of a psychedelic influenced sound than the almost crooner-ish sound of "Where Are We Now?", but it still manages to sound like nothing I've ever heard! This song is just more proof of what a "chameleon" Bowie truly is when it comes to how many styles of rock (and popular music in general, really) he has covered. The theme of stars in the song is also interesting, as it could reflect both Bowie's lifelong fascination with outer space, or it could also mean "stars" as in "celebrities". The world may never know!!