Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New songs for September 25th, 2013

here they are:

"Fresh Strawberries" by Franz Ferdinand: Franz Ferdinand aren't British (they're Scottish), but they sure SOUND like a British group sometimes! Perhaps no song of theirs sounds as "British" as their latest one, "Fresh Strawberries". Unlike most of their post-punk-y material, "Fresh Strawberries" has even older influences! It sounds like a Beatles or Kinks song, with somewhat Elvis Costello-ish instrumentation here and there. In typical Franz fashion, "Fresh Strawberries" is a catchy pop-rock tune with dark lyrical content (in this case, about the fear of death). I never thought Franz Ferdinand would have a song that sounded more like the British Invasion than British post-punk, but what can I say, they managed to pull it off here!

"Shot At the Night" by The Killers: Wait a minute, is this The Killers, or 1980's era Genesis?! Somehow it sounds more like the latter than the former. This songs SCREAMS "1980's"!! Perhaps Brandon Flowers was even thinking of David Byrne for the repeated phrase, "once in a lifetime", for this song, but that was probably just coincidental. Byrne seems too arty and weird (in a good way) to come up with a song like this, though, which sounds like it was pretty much made for a John Hughes film. In spite of the negative comments I'm making about this song, "Shot At the Night" will probably grow on me like pretty much every Killers song (besides "Human") has. So I'm willing to give "Shot At the Night" a shot at success!

"Sirens" by Pearl Jam: After the roaring, angry wake-up call of "Mind Your Manners" from earlier this year, it's nice to hear a more reflective song from Eddie and the boys this time around! "Sirens" is one of the more melancholy songs from their catalog. Its combination of folk-y introspection upfront with rock instrumentation in the background easily brings to mind the best material from acts like Bruce Springsteen and U2. People might like to think of Pearl Jam as a fearless rock 'n' roll band (and indeed, sometimes they are), but I personally think that their best material comes from deep within their hearts, and this song is no exception!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New songs for September 18th, 2013

here they are:

"Broken Heart" by Dr. Dog: There are many things to love about Dr. Dog, a band whom I had the pleasure of seeing in concert about a month ago! One of the best things about them is that there isn't a single song I've heard of theirs so far that doesn't sound fun or upbeat! Don't let the lovelorn title of Dr. Dog's latest song fool you, it still continues in their typical musical style. Quirky, clever lyrics are also a defining feature of their music, and the faux-literal opening lyrics to "Broken Heart" ("I never really had a broken heart/I always played it kind of close to my chest") already steer the song in a good direction.

"Come A Little Closer" by Cage the Elephant: In the summer of 2009, Cage the Elephant debuted with their slide guitar laden stomp-rocker, "Ain't No Rest For the Wicked", which is probably their best known song so far. It seemed like that song pigeonholed CTE into being labeled a "frat rock" band, and although many of their songs follow this pattern, some of the material I consider the best from them does not sound like "frat rock" at all! "Shake Me Down", for instance, sounds like it could have been a "Magical Mystery Tour" bonus track. CTE's latest song, "Come A Little Closer", could be their most indie rock influenced song yet! Its pseudo-psychedelic pop sound recalls groups like Grizzly Bear, The Kooks, and The Shins, among others. Another thing to take notice of is that CTE's "softer" tracks (like this one) have smoother vocals, in addition to having a smoother sound.

"Love Won't Bring Us Down" by Ed Roland and The Sweet Tea Project: Ed Roland's post-grunge hit making machine band, Collective Soul, might have been labeled "alternative" during the time they debuted, but Ed's music owes more to the theatrical, in-your-face presence of '70s arena rock than it does to the more aloof, dismal features of grunge and post-grunge. Once the post-grunge phenomenon subsided, Ed seemed to embrace his inner rocker (and occasionally even his inner pop star) a little more, but in my opinion, his latest tune, "Love Won't Bring Us Down", is the most unabashed tribute to 1970's rock he's done so far in the 21st century! The song seems to be influenced by contemporary blues-rockers like Gary Clark Jr. and Susan Tedeschi, albeit with a slightly more pop influenced beat. It has a positive message and a fun sound! What more could you ask for?

"Made Up Mind" by The Tedeschi-Trucks Band: Funny I mentioned Susan Tedeschi during my previous entry for this week, because the next song I'll be talking about just happens to be one of hers! Unlike the more soul inflected "Part of Me" from earlier this year, "Made Up Mind" has a more blues rock influenced sound, like most of the TTB's material. The song's combination of Chuck Berry-ish chord progressions and chug-along rhythms recall many classic rock songs of the '70s, but the guitar solos in the song can't possibly be attributed to any band other than The Tedeschi-Trucks Band. I think I've got a "made up mind", too. My mind's made up, and it's ready to rock!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New songs for September 11th, 2013

here they are:

"Further Away (Romance Police)" by Lissie: With "Further Away (Romance Police)", Lissie continues to make her mark as the 2010's answer to Alanis Morissette (with less nasal vocals). She rocks with reckless abandon on this song (though not as much as she did on "Shameless" from earlier this year). "Further Away" starts out as being this sort of dark but catchy pop song, and by the time the chorus kicks in, it starts sounding like the lovechild of the songs from Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" and the songs from Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill". The song centers around a love affair gone awry that only starts sounding more desperate as it goes on, with its peak in the middle of the song, when Lissie cynically wonders if "anyone loves anyone anymore".

"Gang of Rhythm" by Walk Off the Earth: Whether they're covering Gotye or harmonizing on their own tunes, Walk Off the Earth seem like a group of people who like to have fun with what they do, and so far, no song in their career illustrates that better than their latest song, "Gang of Rhythm". The song is simply about playing music and having a good time, which WOTE urge their audience to do with lyrics like, "Come on now everybody, come on now everyone!" In the second verse, WOTE claim that they "bring in the harmonies like CSNY" (Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young), which makes me wonder how the folk-rock legends feel about being mentioned in a song by a group of newbie folk-rockers. After all, they sound more like The Mamas and The Papas than CSN & Y to me, for both their equal part guy/girl harmonies, and their upbeat, pop-y sound.

"Reflektor" by Arcade Fire: Arcade Fire have tried their hand at prog-rock many times, but as far as I know, this is the first time a radio single by AF has attempted to incorporate a "Floyd-ian" slip, if you will. "Reflektor" clocks in at over 7 and a half minutes, and its sprawling length and meandering melody make it seem more like an album track than a hit, but perhaps its Bowie-esque rhythm and instrumentation were enough to make the members of Arcade Fire want to release it as the first single from their new album. "Reflektor" is also the kind of song that seems like it could be performed in outer space, and AF have had more than their fair share of songs like that so far, but none as much as this song. I feel like "Reflektor" will be the song that either expands Arcade Fire's fanbase, or the song that turns their fanbase away from them (or perhaps both).

"Shine On" by Blitzen Trapper: How is it that Blitzen Trapper have the ability to sound like both a Southern rock group AND a progressive rock group within the same song?! Honestly, I have no idea, but they manage to make both (unlikely) ends meet in their most recent tune, "Shine On". It seems as though Blitzen Trapper want to challenge those who think of them as a "folk-rock" group, although two of their finest songs ("Black River Killer" and "Love the Way You Walk Away") fall under this category. Unless Lynyrd Skynyrd and Pink Floyd are your idea of "folk-rock" (which they're probably not), "Shine On" is definitely a song that deviates significantly from the material Blitzen Trapper have become known for. With its blazing electric guitars, anthemic chorus, and backing vocalists who sound like they might have been the same ones for "Sweet Home Alabama", I can't help but feel like this song belongs on a classic rock station somewhere.

"St. Croix" by Family of the Year: Steven Tyler from Aerosmith's comparison of Family of the Year to "The Mamas and The Papas on acid" seemed somewhat appropriate for Family of the Year's first big song, "Hero", which could be said to be FOTY's "California Dreamin'", since both songs are bittersweet, acoustic guitar based compositions about the yearning for something better to come along. FOTY's second big song, "St. Croix" is no "Monday Monday", though. Far from it! "St. Croix" is actually a very optimistic sounding song, both musically and lyrically. I mean, how much more friendly sounding can you get than "You bring the ocean, I'll bring the motion, together we'll make a love potion"?! Such lyrics make FOTY sound like hippies who stuck around long after the 1960's, which, as far as I'm concerned, they are. This is certainly not a bad thing, though, and it's probably the perfect song to listen to at a beach party! Too bad it came out towards the end of summer instead of the beginning.

"The Perfect Life" by Moby and Wayne Coyne: The bald headed animal rights activist, Moby, and Flaming Lips frontman, Wayne Coyne, are, undoubtedly, two of the most eccentric musicians of '90s alt-rock, so it only seems fitting that they would perform something together (I'm surprised it took them this long to think of doing a musical collaboration, personally!) What's even more bizarre than two musical bizarr-o's doing a song together, though, is the music video they made of the song!! The two musicians walk down the streets of Los Angeles in Mariachi outfits, and encounter some guy who looks like the Burger King, roller skating ghosts, and a choir of goth musicians along the way. "The Perfect Life"?! Sounds perfect to me!! The video can be viewed at

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

New songs for September 4th, 2013

here they are:

"Graceless" by The National: The title of this song alone indicates that it will not exactly be an uplifting one (then again, there aren't really any songs by The National that contain positive subject matter, so it's hardly surprising). It seems as though Matt Berninger is literally "losing his religion" in "Graceless", with such lines as "I figured out how to be faithless", "now I know what dying means", and "God loves everybody, don't remind me". The rhymes Matt sings for the title of the song can feel a bit strained at times (e.g. "erase this", "waste this", "weightless", "face this", etc.) but then again, perhaps the struggle for a word to rhyme with "graceless" goes in line with the weary, cumbersome feeling the song itself has to offer.

"New" by Paul McCartney: Paul McCartney's new song is "New". No, I'm not trying to sound redundant, it's just that "New" happens to be the TITLE of McCartney's latest tune. Part of the charm of this song comes from who produced it, if you ask me, and that would be Mark Ronson, who has been known for producing material for musicians like Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse. It seems as though whenever Sir Paul has hired good producers for his 21st century material, it ends up having a solid sound, like the Nigel Godrich (Radiohead's producer) produced albums he had during the mid-'00s. "New" doesn't sound a thing like Amy Winehouse or Lily Allen, though. It sounds better (at least I think it does)!! Its catchy, Beatlesque pop sound and Brian Wilson-ish harmonies make "New" sound timeless!!

"Pompeii" by Bastille: With electronica becoming an increasingly more dominant form of popular music, the arrival of "Pompeii" seems quite timely. Ordinarily, electronica doesn't impress me too much, but thankfully, "Pompeii" is laced with both smooth enough harmonies and a catchy enough melody for me to appreciate it. Perhaps what's gotten so many people hooked on the song so far, though, is its faux-Latin "day-oo day-oo, day, day-oo, day-oo" chorus, which makes it stand out from other forms of contemporary music. As a side note, "Pompeii" is a triple geographical whammy! Pompeii is in Italy, Bastille is in Canada, yet the band itself is British! Go figure!!

"Say the Words" by Satellite: These guys sound like Travis, Coldplay, The Doves, and many other "Britpop" bands, and even their accent sounds somewhat British. So why are they from America?! Oh well, that's not the point of this song, as far as I'm concerned. The main focus of "Say the Words" is to bring the more guitar based side of the Britpop sound into the 2010's. On the surface, "Say the Words" sounds like a love song, and perhaps part of it is, but the first two verses of the song seem to indicate that the song is more centered around someone who has given up all hope on his/her life. The chorus is probably encouragement that the lead singer is providing to the subject of the song in order for him/her to feel less pressure regarding his/her life.