here they are:
"Born Again" by Robert Randolph: Funk, jazz, blues, and rock is the kind of musical gumbo you can expect from Robert Randolph and The Family Band!! It's been about 7 years since Robert last released a CD with The Family Band, though, so I was curious to know if his musical blend still held up well. Not only does his latest song, "Born Again", retain an eclectic musical sound, but it's also incredibly fun to dance to! It has a catchy rhythm. When Randolph says in the chorus of the song that he feels "born again", I think he's referring to more than just the religious sense of the term (if that). I think he's also feeling "born again" musically, as anyone should when listening to a song like this!!
"Don't Want Lies" by The Rides: The name of this band made me think it was another up and coming indie group, but the voice of Stephen Stills (yes, THAT Stephen Stills) on "Don't Want Lies" is unmistakable!! Blues-rock aficionado Kenny Wayne Shepherd is also a part of this group, a supergroup as it turns out (I guess it's the second one Stills has had since Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young!!) Like the typical CSN & Y song, "Don't Want Lies" uses both electric and acoustic guitars. The acoustic guitars, with their crisp sound, would not have sounded too out of place on a mid-'70s CSN album, and the blues-y electric noodling is brimming with the signature sound of Kenny Wayne Shepherd. And here I thought Neil Young was the only musically active member left of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Guess I was wrong!! "Don't Want Lies" is a mellow song, but it also has a dynamic enough sound to possibly become a future concert favorite!
"Man" by Neko Case: Neko Case's music has been referred to as "indie rock" and "country rock", but the "rock" element has never been that apparent in her music. Until now, that is! "Man" is quite a "man"-ly song, if you know what I mean!! Perhaps it could be said that both the lyrics and the music of "Man" are an attempt at redefining gender roles. Rock 'n' roll has had its fair share of women before, but usually, phrases like "I'm a man" aren't present in the music of female rockers. That very phrase is the most repeated one (and perhaps, the most defining one) in Neko Case's "Man". This song is not the typical Neko Case song, by any means!! She even throws in a couple choice swears towards the end of the song, which I don't remember her doing in any of her other songs. "Man" rocks hard and pushes boundaries!! Who knew?! I sure didn't!!
"Part of Me" by The Tedeschi-Trucks Band: Yet another talented rock 'n' roll woman from the past decade or so is the blues-y, soulful, Susan Tedeschi! "Part of Me" places more emphasis on soul than on blues or rock, though. Tedeschi's signature slide guitar sound is still present on the song, but most of it just sounds like Sam & Dave's "Soul Man" with the gender roles reversed. Tedeschi and Trucks typically have upbeat music to begin with, but "Part of Me" is probably the most upbeat song they've had together so far! I don't think it's too much of a stretch to describe this song as the first feel-good jam of summer 2013!!
"Royals" by Lorde: This "Lorde" is a lady!! And a very young one, at that (she's 16 years old, believe it or not!!) Unlike the other songs I've chosen to review for this week, there is more emphasis on vocals and rhythm than there are on instruments for "Royals". Nevertheless, there is something quite alluring about "Royals". Perhaps it's the smooth, slinky vocals of Ella Yelich O'Connor (whom, by herself, is "Lorde" - it's her stage name, not the name of a band), or the way the chorus just burns its way into your subconscious when you're trying to concentrate on something else during the day!! At first listen, "Royals" probably just seems like your everyday pop song, but it seems to have this vibe that is both icy and smooth underneath. If you want your Top 40 music to have a bit more sizzle to it, then I highly recommend "Royals"!
"Stockholm" by Jason Isbell: Perhaps both the mellowest and most bittersweet of the songs I have set to review for this week, "Stockholm" marks the second time I've heard a solo release from alt-country group, Drive-By Truckers (the first being Patterson Hood's "Disappear" from last year). Between this song and the Patterson Hood song, I can tell that the Truckers have some talented, accomplished poets in their group! Examples of some of the (mostly) metaphorical, poignant lyrics of Jason's "Stockholm" include lines like, "Ships on the harbor and birds on the bluff don't move an inch when their anchor goes up, and the difference with me is I'm falling in love, Stockholm, let me go home". I love how this song utilizes the themes of loneliness and homesickness in such a playful manner. Highly recommended!!
"Wanna Feel It" by The Olms: Last, but certainly not least, is a song that comes from what you would get if you combined an indie musician (Pete Yorn) with an indie AUTHOR (J.D. King)!! Clearly Pete Yorn is taking the lead in this song by a band whose name refers to an obscure species of amphibian (an olm), with his vocals dominating the song, and his brand of bittersweet, moody folk-rock giving the song its direction. One thing that's not so Pete Yorn-ish about "Wanna Feel It" is its use of Moog synthesizer, creating a psychedelic, hypnotic swirl in the song (J.D.'s idea, perhaps?!) In any case, "Wanna Feel It" makes me...well...wanna feel it!! That is, it makes me wanna feel good!