here they are:
"Down to the Well" by Hard Working Americans: For once, the name of a band actually describes who it is! This eclectic folk-rock/country-rock supergroup, featuring Americana musician Todd Snider, Ryan Adams' backing guitarist Neil Casals, and Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools, is all American, and clearly all hard working since they managed to come up with a group this eclectic! So how do they sound all together?! Well, like a country-rock group, which isn't really that surprising, considering that both Todd Snider and Ryan Adams started out with a country influenced sound. While Widespread Panic tends to focus more on blues-rock than the other two, some of their songs ("Dirty Side Down", for instance) still have a country-rock sound to them. "Down to the Well" itself was originally a song by roots-y country musician Lucinda Williams. Don't let the "country music" description of this song prevent you from listening to it, though. There is absolutely nothing about this song that aims to appeal to a "pop-country" audience. Instead, it's honest and heartfelt, while still somewhat raw, the way a GOOD country (or country-rock) song should be!
"Pretty Green" by White Denim: If Daft Punk were re-envisioned as a neo-psychedelic rock and roll band instead of an electronica duo, they would probably end up being White Denim. It is clear from the video of White Denim's debut song, "Pretty Green", that at least half of the band members prefer hiding behind masks to showing their actual faces, much like Daft Punk did (though this could also be influenced by the "eyeball masks" of '70s avant-garde group, The Residents). The video only gets weirder as the song goes on, as the members of White Denim take a vivid voyage through a land of...ummm...lips with no body or face attached. The second half of this bizarre journey involves entering into a realm of splattering paint (didn't "Sesame Street" already do this years ago with their new wave styled song about "Wet Paint"?!) Perhaps I should have expected the song to involve kaleidoscopic, colorful imagery. After all, the band's name is WHITE Denim, and the song is called "Pretty GREEN"!! If you are willing to let your mind blow out of your butt (or is that the other way around?!), then check out the music video for this song, which can be viewed here (www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMCoiehkH8U)
"Thirsty Man" by Blitzen Trapper: Between this song and "Shine On" (the one they put out in early fall of this year), I could swear that if time machines were real, that Blitzen Trapper took one to the 1970's somewhere in the Southern United States. "Thirsty Man" is more of a return to the folk-rock-y roots that Blitzen Trapper were originally known for, yet it sounds more like an acoustic Allman Brothers song ("Midnight Rider", "Melissa", etc.) than it does like Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, and the like. When lead singer, Eric Earley, sings about being a "thirsty man" walking through the desert, his vocal delivery tends to give off a "been through it all" attitude that can often be found in the music of bands like The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The Doors-y organs and fuzzed-out "psychedelic" guitar solo are about the only things keeping "Thirsty Man" from completely sounding like a Southern rock song.
"This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" by The Lumineers (originally by Talking Heads): So the first song we hear covered from The Lumineers ISN'T by Simon and Garfunkel, or Crosby Stills & Nash?! That's a shocker! What's even MORE of a shocker is that they chose to cover a song by quirky new wave legends, Talking Heads, whose sound seems a bit too jittery and electronic in comparison to the laid-back, acoustic sound of The Lumineers. If a band like, say, MGMT covered it, that wouldn't be too surprising (and they have done so, too). But The Lumi's?! I love them, but I would NEVER have expected them to choose a song from David Byrne and co. According to their cellist (and only girl member) Neyla Pekarek, the reason they chose to release a cover version of "This Must Be the Place" is because The Lumineers usually ended their live shows with the song, since its lyrics center around going home ("Home is where I want to be, but I guess I'm already there...") So how does their version measure up to the unstoppable, oddball energy of the original?! It's a decent cover, but it pales in comparison to their originals, like "Ho Hey" and "Stubborn Love". As a folk-rock song, "This Must Be the Place" just doesn't feel like it should! I'll give it an A for effort, though.