Wednesday, April 24, 2013

new songs for April 24th, 2013

here they are:

"King And Lionheart" by Of Monsters and Men: Contemporary folk-rock sensations Of Monsters and Men didn't call themselves "Of Monsters and Men" for nothing. It was a name based on European stories about monsters that some of the members had read. The Icelandic band's love of European folklore is becoming more and more evident with each song I hear by them. "Little Talks" had nautical imagery, and "Mountain Sound" had more pastoral imagery. "King And Lionheart" follows closely in this pattern, as is evident from the title alone. A medieval theme takes up most of the song (except the part where they talk about "night sky ships sailing", revisiting the nautical themes of "Little Talks"). Another similarity "King And Lionheart" shares with "Little Talks" is that both songs revolve around how difficult it is to survive being torn apart from a relationship. Makes you want to brush up on European history and mythology a little more, doesn't it?!

"Where Can I Go?" by Laura Marling: Laura was probably better known for the bands she was involved with (i.e. Mumford and Sons, Noah and The Whale) than her music, until two years ago, when she released her breakthrough album, "A Creature I Don't Know". The album featured tracks like the sprawling, reflective "Sophia", and the bittersweet "All My Rage", both of which easily suggest a Joni Mitchell for the indie-folk generation. "Where Can I Go?" is a different song for Laura Marling. The themes of death and sorrow that Laura had on the "A Creature I Don't Know" songs are replaced by a theme of homesickness and yearning, and the stark, aching sound of those songs is not present on "Where Can I Go?" either, with a more roots-y, upbeat sound taking place instead.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New songs for April 17th, 2013

here they are:

"Don't Swallow the Cap" by The National: The National have always been one of the more low-key, brooding bands of indie rock, even their songs titles (i.e. "Bloodbuzz Ohio", "Anyone's Ghost", "Terrible Love", etc.) tend to indicate this. Their latest song title, "Don't Swallow the Cap", sounds like it would be more likely to be a warning on a medicine bottle than it would a piece of music. Musically, it is sandwiched somewhere between the moody goth-rock of Joy Division, and the indie rock orchestration of Arcade Fire (although that would describe most of The National's material, really). "Don't Swallow the Cap" is a tale of alienation and isolation, as one might expect from The National, yet, despite the ghastly nature of the band, there's still something enjoyable about what they do. Their last album, "High Violet", was a masterpiece, yielding many songs that became well-known among the indie and adult alt communities, such as "Bloodbuzz Ohio", "Anyone's Ghost", "Lemonworld", and "Terrible Love" (and maybe "Conversation 16" to a certain extent). Hopefully The National's latest CD will be just as good, if not better! For now, though, we have "Don't Swallow the Cap", a song that is pretty typical of The National, which makes me hopeful that there will be other good songs to enjoy off the same album!

"No One Knows Nothing Anymore" by Billy Bragg: Billy Bragg is a British folk-rocker, yet his latest song, "No One Knows Nothing Anymore", sounds more like a roots-y Bob Dylan song than a somber Nick Drake one. As the title of the song would suggest, "No One Knows Nothing Anymore" is a song of lament, with Bragg pondering thoughts like, "What if there's nothing, no pot of gold?", and "What if our ancestors had stayed up in the trees?" Though it is a pessimistic sounding song, "No One Knows Nothing Anymore" is also an intelligent and thought provoking song, and would make a great addition to public radio stations that also stream music, such as KCRW, if it hasn't been played on there already!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New songs for April 10th, 2013

here they are:

"Lightning Bolt" by Jake Bugg: Like Jake's previous hit, "Two Fingers", "Lightning Bolt" is full of musical homages to the 1960's, which is incredibly unusual for someone who's only 18 years old! "Lightning Bolt" has a bit more of a fast, rock-y feel to it than the folk-y "Two Fingers" did, and it almost sounds like a White Stripes style cover of a Bob Dylan song circa 1965. At only two and a half minutes, Jake Bugg packs a powerful punch into "Lightning Bolt", with both the steady, catchy beat of the song, and Jake's fast-paced, rambling vocals. Not a hard song to perform by any means, but it still takes an awful lot of skill to pull a song like this off!!

"Never Wanted Your Love" by She & Him: The third record from Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Zooey Deschanel, and her quieter backing singer, M. Ward, is finally out!! The record's first single, "Never Wanted Your Love", is a catchy song, like most of Zooey's material tends to be, and it has a "retro" flavor to it with its somewhat rockabilly inspired beats. The rushing, mariachi influenced sound of the violins in the intro also make "Never Wanted Your Love" a memorable song in the She & Him catalog. Then again, though, what She & Him song isn't?!

"The Ceiling" by Wild Feathers: While roots-rock has come to be a defining feature so far of 2010's music, there have only been a handful of bands (Black Keys, Alabama Shakes, Dawes, etc.) that have gone more for the electric side of the genre than the acoustic side. Enter Wild Feathers. Their debut song, "The Ceiling", proves that the band have somehow managed to be a TRUE "folk-rock" band for the second decade of the 21st century, placing equal emphasis on electric and acoustic guitar, and they also have a vaguely bluegrass-y sound that, amazingly, does NOT require a banjo or mandolin! The freewheeling, unabashedly retro style of Wild Feathers might bring to mind bands like The Black Crowes. Ha! Crows, Feathers!! I wonder if there's a connection there?! Well, like they say, birds of a feather flock together, and Wild Feathers certainly know how to do so!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New songs for April 3rd, 2013

here they are:

"If I Loved You" by Delta Rae and Lindsey Buckingham: As was once said in the title of a Fleetwood Mac song, "Heroes Are Hard to Find". For contemporary folk-rock group, Delta Rae, the opposite is true, their hero was easy to find, and he just happened to be a Fleetwood Mac member as well! Delta Rae's second big song, "If I Loved You", lacks the Adele-meets-Odetta-ish intensity and depth of "Bottom of the River", but it is still worth listening to nonetheless. It is a much lighter affair than that, musically, and lyrically, it seems like an in-and-out-of-love song, in contrast to the hymn-gone-dark vibe of "Bottom of the River". "If I Loved You" could be easily dismissed as a light, fluffy song in Delta Rae's catalog, but I don't want to make judgments too soon on this one (after all, this is only the second song I've come to know by Delta Rae).

"If So" by Atlas Genius: It was only late spring/early summer of last year that Atlas Genius started making waves with their song, "Trojans", which was equal parts folk-rock and new wave. That being said, I'm surprised that their second major effort, "If So", is from an entirely different album of theirs that was only released about a month ago! Time sure does fly, doesn't it?! Anyway, "If So" is more a push towards new wave than folk-rock for Atlas Genius. There is not even a hint of strummed acoustic guitars in the background for "If So", but it still manages to have the catchy factor that "Trojans" did (in fact, it seems like the two songs could be in competition with each other at the moment!) With its thumping bass, high hat percussion, central synth sound, and pulsating, funky guitars, it's probably quite surprising to realize that, if you listen closely enough to the lyrics of "If So", that it's about the perks of being a nightclub "wallflower", as opposed to being nightclub superstars!

"Red Hands" by Walk Off the Earth: So, do the people behind the infamous YouTube cover of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" that featured five people playing one guitar (sometimes simultaneously) have what it takes to make good music of their own?! Well, honestly, I'm still trying to figure out if they do! Their first major original effort, "Red Hands", somehow manages to sound as fresh as it does generic! On one hand, the song attempts to be an alt-pop song centered around acoustic guitar, which I normally can't go wrong with, but on the other hand, both the instruments and the vocals of this song sound so studio produced that they seem like the audio equivalent of a typical fast food restaurant. The song never makes any significant deviations from its F, C, A minor, G chord progression either, which makes me wonder if Walk Off the Earth even planned this song to sound original, or if it was just a desperate attempt to win more fans than they already had. Perhaps this is one band that is better at covers than they are at originals. Not bad for a first try, though.

"Rumble And Sway" by Jamie N Commons: If you put the catchy, jazzy, retro rock of Brian Setzer, the world-weary country/blues-rock of John Hiatt, and the ghostly, haunting vibe of some of the darker Tom Waits songs, you'd probably have a good idea of how adult alt newcomer Jamie N Commons sounds! In a sultry, steamy melting pot of jazz, blues, country, and rock, Commons really knows how to make his song, "Rumble And Sway", live up to its name! It both sizzles and swivels, much like its title suggests it would! It seems like the kind of song that would probably be played during a bar scene in a movie or TV show, though it would work equally well as a fight song or an initial romance song. Some mean sax playin' on this song, too!

"Unpromised Land" by Bob Schneider: A hard rocking Bob Schneider song?! Sounds unlikely, coming from the guy who did such sentimental indie-pop songs like "40 Dogs (Like Romeo And Juliet)" and "Let the Light In". Well, it's not exactly "hard rock", but for Schneider, it's the closest he's gotten! He even swears twice in the second verse of the song, and not exactly with "light" swears either ("They can f**k right off", he angrily sings in one line - wow, Bob...just, wow!! How atypical of you!) This song, for Bob Schneider, is like what the crunchy, indie-hard-rock of "Hands Open" was for Snow Patrol. Perhaps deep down inside, though, what Bob Schneider wants is a bigger audience. An artist needs to experiment and take chances, right?! The beginning of this song sounds like it wants to be an Everclear song, but goes into more Wallflowers-ish territory with the roots-y organs added into the song later on. "Father of Mine" meets "One Headlight"?! Sounds like a weird combination at first, but it manages to work here. Also, can't go wrong with "Unpromised Land"'s '90s rock influenced sound!!

"Your Life, Your Call" by Junip: One might not expect a song from a band led by a man who was influenced by the stark, acoustic guitar based sound of musicians like Elliott Smith and Nick Drake to have a techno sound starting it off, but perhaps many aren't aware that post-punk musicians, Joy Division, are just as admired by Jose Gonzalez as Nick and Elliott are. In fact, two of Jose's best-known songs, "Heartbeats" and "Crosses", have techno connections; the former was a cover of a song by techno group, The Knife, and the latter was made into a "trip-hop" song shortly after its release. Jose even does a fine cover of Joy Division's most famous song, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (albeit with acoustic guitar only, and no electronic instruments, for his version). Anyway, Jose's love of techno and his love of folk music merge into one on his latest song with Junip, "Your Life, Your Call". Despite the clear use of synthesizers on "Your Life, Your Call", it still manages to be as soothing as most of Jose's material tends to be. Even the dry, detached manner in which he sings the chorus of the song ("It's your life, your call, stand up and enjoy your fall"), is closer to Ian Curtis than it is Nick Drake. Though I much prefer Jose's folk-ier side, his techno-pop side isn't that bad either.