here they are:
"Better Days" by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros: Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, perhaps the best nine or ten piece indie rock group since Arcade Fire, seem to have a knack for sounding like a band from the 1960's. Even their techniques for production sound like something from 45 or so years ago. Their sound leaned mostly towards folk-rock until their latest song, "Better Days", though. This song sounds more like a long lost "Sgt. Pepper" track, with its steady, marching drumbeat, swirling, psychedelic electric (gasp!) guitars, and shiny, upbeat brass section. Seems like every band is trying to veer off in a new direction these days, and Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros are no exception. At least they're staying true to their "retro" sound, though, which is a large part of what makes them so appealing.
"Can You Get to That?" by Mavis Staples: The soul legend, Mavis Staples, seems to have been all about cover songs in the 2010's. At the start of the decade, she did a rather roots-y rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Wrote A Song For Everyone". This time around, she's covering a Funkadelic song (which was covered earlier this year by indie-pop group, The Living Sisters, coincidentally). Her choice is interesting, considering that this is sort of a folk-rock song, which was an extremely uncommon style for Funkadelic to perform in (though Funkadelic are a pretty eclectic group, esp. when it comes to songs like the not-so-funky, 8-minute, Hendrix-ian guitar jam-fest, "Maggot Brain"). Regardless, though, Mavis injects enough soulfulness and talent to make her take on "Can You Get to That?" shine through!
"Get Lucky" by Daft Punk: Yet another retro-soul styled song, but reminiscent of a different era (it sounds a bit like a disco song circa '78), and from a group I never would have expected, either! Daft Punk are typically more of a techno group - not only in sound, but in looks as well (their members regularly dress up in robot costumes!!) The instruments don't sound very Daft Punk-ish. There is clearly an electric guitar keeping rhythm throughout the song, and nary a synthesizer in the whole thing! The "robot voice" present in most Daft Punk songs only appears twice in "Get Lucky". The vocals that take place in most of "Get Lucky" sound more...well...human!! A refreshing, unique song for the guys whom I previously knew for doing a song whose sole "lyrics" were "Bow...now now now now nowww...bow now now nowwww...bow now now now nowww..."
"I Will Steal You Back" by Jimmy Eat World: In the early '00s, Jimmy Eat World had one of the catchiest power pop mega-hits with "The Middle", a song that, in my opinion, rivaled the catchiness (and, arguably, popularity) of power pop classics like "My Sharona" and "What I Like About You". However, Jimmy Eat World's other songs seemed more like that messy cross between power pop and grunge that groups like Weezer (whom I've honestly never quite warmed up to) became known for. About the closest I came to liking a Jimmy Eat World song other than "The Middle" was their surprisingly neo-folk-rock-y cover of Wham!'s "Last Christmas". That being said, I was NEVER expecting Jimmy Eat World to come out with a song like "I Will Steal You Back"!! While it is nowhere near as catchy as "The Middle", it is a lot more tolerable than most of their material to me. It starts out with an acoustic guitar, for one, an instrument that is usually not present on their material. The song builds up to a chorus that has a bit more punch to it than the verses, but still manages to remain relatively mellow, almost like one of the "lighter" songs that The Foo Fighters have done, though the vocals on "I Will Steal You Back" are a bit too harmony laced to be Foos-ish. It took almost 10 years for Jimmy Eat World to win me over again, but now they finally have!! Wonder if they'll continue in this direction?!
"Pour A Little Poison" by David Ford: One of the most bitter, sarcastic folk-rock songs I have ever known is "I Don't Care What You Call Me" by David Ford, which, up until now, was the only song I knew by him. The title alone of "Pour A Little Poison" made me think it was gonna be a similar song to "I Don't Care What You Call Me", and lyrically, it is ("Pour a little poison on my good name"), but instrumentally, it sounds like an unusually catchy Bob Dylan song, complete with a "clap-along" rhythm section, a huge departure from the world-weary sound of "I Don't Care What You Call Me". "Pour A Little Poison" is also much shorter in length, clocking in at only 2 minutes and 45 seconds. Perhaps David has been taking cues from other "sarcastic but catchy" indie-folk-rock singers, like Jake Bugg and Frank Turner. It certainly sounds that way to me!
"That's Who I Am" by Neko Case: Neko Case has always peppered her brand of alt-country with a bit of snark, and "That's Who I Am" is no exception. What makes this song different is that (surprise!!) it's actually a cover of a John Mellencamp song!! Even stranger than that is that it's from a musical that John Mellencamp wrote with Stephen King (yes, THAT Stephen King). To warp your opinion of this song even further, Neko's take on this song has a sound that suggests what it might be like if Johnny Cash started doing cabaret material!! Well it sounds like that to me, anyway. See for yourself, though!!