here they are:
"Better Man" by Beth Hart: Not to be confused with the Pearl Jam song of the same name, Beth Hart's "Better Man" continues in the blues-y direction that Beth has been more actively pursuing in the 2010's. Beneath its pop-y beat and uptempo piano sound beat the heart of "Better Man", which can be defined by Beth's gutsy, passionate vocals, and its electric guitar based sound that blends country, rock, and blues into one spicy, catchy musical gumbo! A sizzling ode to whoever Beth's current lover happens to be, "Better Man" is great at capturing the jubilation anyone feels when they finally find the one they want to spend the rest of their life with!
"The Dream's In the Ditch" by Deer Tick: Deer Tick are one of the more roots-y indie bands whose sound owes more to Bob Dylan and Neil Young than it does The Velvet Underground and The Beatles. As far as I can tell, though, between their 2011 song, "Main Street", and their most recent song, "The Dream's In the Ditch", one of Deer Tick's biggest influences is none other than The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen! "The Dream's In the Ditch" evokes early Springsteen, in particular, with its vaguely "Thunder Road"-ish chimes and guitars (though that colorful, tinkling piano solo in the middle is purely Deer Tick's own!) The subject matter of "The Dream's In the Ditch" is not uncommon to the roots-y side of classic rock either. It's basically a song about the ups and downs of touring on the road, not unlike Jackson Browne's "Running On Empty", or The Grateful Dead's "Truckin'". Happy trails!!
"Thirst" by City and Colour: It seems as though Canada's one man indie band, Dallas Green (or "City and Colour"), tired of the neo-folk-rock schtick about a year before it became big on alt-rock stations. He started with the folks-y "Sleeping Sickness", and has gone for a fuzzier, more rock based sound ever since (with the exception of the largely acoustic, "The Grand Optimist"). Dallas' latest song, "Thirst", continues in the more contemporary rock 'n' roll direction that he seems to want to become more known for. "Thirst" has what could be called a "White Stripes lite" distortion in its guitar sound, while the beat of the song is closer to Gary Numan's proto-synth-pop classic, "Cars". The lyrics in "Thirst" would not seem out of place for Dallas' former band, the hardcore "screamo" group, Alexisonfire (Alex is on fire), with its mentions of "fates worse than death", "an ocean of anger", and being "gracefully cursed".
"Walk Us Uptown" by Elvis Costello, featuring The Roots: For a musician, "The Three R's" are probably rock, rhythm, and rap, and this song just happens to have all three!! And you thought that the coolest connects between rock and rap ended with The Beastie Boys, and Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith's collaboration of "Walk This Way"?! Well, think again!! Rocker Elvis Costello and hip-hop group, The Roots (both of whom are quite eclectic for their respective genres), have now come together in an unlikely, but quite catchy musical teaming, in "Walk Us Uptown". The song marks a high point for both musicians, with its sleek, street-smart vibe, and its seemingly effortless combining of jazzy horns, reggae influenced rhythm guitars, the occasional use of shattering, blues influenced lead guitars, and its smooth hip-hop beat. Is it just me, or has Elvis Costello gotten hipper as he's gotten older?!
"Where We Came From" by Phillip Phillips: "American Idol"'s number one musical oddity is now up for a THIRD hit song on adult alt radio stations. If it were any other contestant on the show, I probably wouldn't care, but this is Phillip Phillips we're talking about here, who has clearly mastered the Mumford-ian way of playing acoustic guitar in songs like "Home" and "Gone Gone Gone". His third major song, "Where We Came From", doesn't have the graceful, finger-picked sound of his other two songs, instead opting for more of a half folk, half blues type sound, a la Dave Matthews (supposedly one of Phillip's biggest influences). The cello in "Where We Came From" adds a nice touch to it, too, making it distinguishable from his other material. The "precious" element in many of his songs shows up more in the lyrics than the song itself in "Where We Came From", especially given its nature related imagery (i.e. mountains, shores, moon, sun, etc.) in the chorus. Once again, Phillips has won peoples' hearts more than he has a reality show contest, and I hope he continues to do so!