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.