Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New songs for February 19th, 2014

here they are:

"Another Story" by The Head and The Heart: What a perfect song title for a group like The Head and and The Heart, who are quite skilled at being lyrical raconteurs (not THE Raconteurs, though, that's another band completely!!) Every song The Head and The Heart have had so far is like a story, with the unique, touching narratives and perspectives used in so many of their songs. "Another Story" marks a return for the more acoustic side of The Head and The Heart that their fans originally knew them for. The lyrics of the song are as poignant, lovelorn, and world-weary as the sound of the song itself. "Another Story" equates homesickness for love with homesickness for life out on the road. Quite a winsome song, if I do say so myself!

"Call Me" by St. Paul and The Broken Bones: Can you say "retro-soul"?! This song sounds like Al Green fronting a blues band from New Orleans!! Come to think of it, there are traces of Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, James Brown, and many other classic soul musicians in this song too! The twist?! St. Paul and The Broken Bones might SOUND like handsome black men, but they're actually a bunch of nerdy white guys! It's like a real live "Nutty Professor" if the "Buddy Love" persona stayed in the main character of the story forever! "Broken Bones" just isn't a fitting moniker for a band with such relentless energy like these guys have!! Perhaps the "Rolling Bones" was already taken?!

"Destination" by Nickel Creek: It is rather unfortunate that this band, a bluegrass-pop/rock trio who have now been around for a little over 10 years, has the word "Nickel" in its name, which has probably led so many people to refer to them as "Nickelback" by mistake!! Nickel Creek did what The Lumineers and The Civil Wars did about a decade before those bands came out! In the mid 2000's Nickel Creek won a fair amount of people over with their joyful bluegrass instrumental, "Smoothie Song", and their sad, soul searching song, "When In Rome", but their style wasn't exactly popular. Now it is!! And it seems like Nickel Creek are actually aware of how popular the bluegrass/rock fusion has become in recent years, since their latest song, "Destination", has a choppy but exhilarating rhythm in the style of groups like Mumford and Sons. Nickel Creek's lone female member, Sara Watkins, takes the lead on this song, with the other two members of the band singing backup in perfect harmony. I KNEW Nickel Creek would make a comeback in the 2010's!! I just didn't know when.

"Waves" by Sleeper Agent: A rather summery song blending psychedelic reverb with folk-rock guitar picking, "Waves" seems like its sound is awfully similar to the blend of indie-pop and surf music that groups like Best Coast have, albeit without as much "hipster" attitude. It even mentions California a couple times, much like a typical Best Coast song might. Sleeper Agent's Alex Kandel (in this case, a female Alex, not a male one) has somewhat deeper vocals than Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino, though, which is one way to tell the bands apart. With all the Bethany/Best Coast comparisons I've made to this song (and band) so far, it might seem interesting that Sleeper Agent's closest friends in the indie universe are not from Best Coast, but from Cage the Elephant! Sleeper Agent even claims CTE to be an influence on their music, along with similar sounding bands like Foxy Shazam. Sleeper Agent seem too mellow in comparison to Cage the Elephant, if you ask me, but perhaps that's because "Waves" is the only song I've heard so far of theirs.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New songs for February 5th, 2014

here they are:

"Brighter" by Ozomatli: Until recently I overlooked this group. They've got it all, though! Latin, rock, jazz, soul, and reggae all wrapped up into one neat little package!! Their best known song so far is probably "Who Discovered America?", partly due to it being featured in the romantic comedy, "Never Been Kissed". "Brighter" is probably Ozomatli's most reggae inflected track so far. Its easy, flowing mix of reggae, pop, rock, and hip-hop influences recall some of the earlier Michael Franti songs. It also shares a lot of Franti's positive messages as well ("world is gonna look much brighter").

"Do I Look Worried?" by The Tedeschi-Trucks Band: Back when I first reviewed The Tedeschi-Trucks Band about three years ago, I had not expected them to be such heavy hitmakers on adult alt radio (arguably more than Tedeschi's solo work). Another thing I would not have expected from Susan and Derek would be a slow, doo-wop/early soul influenced song, yet that's exactly what "Do I Look Worried?" is. Derek Trucks' guitar playing, as always, is present on the song, but the rhythm is decidedly different from most of the TTB's material, coming in the form of a waltz, instead of a pop/rock rhythm. This little band has sure gone a long way!!

"Invisible" by U2: This song has a sound that starts out as slightly foreboding, before building up rather quickly to sound more like a pop/rock song, much like the similarly titled "Invisible Sun" by The Police (title stealers, anyone?! Haha, just kidding!) Apparently, Bono released this song as a way for listeners to contribute to a generation he hopes will be free of AIDS. The lyrics in the chorus of the song, about how "you don't see me, but I'm not invisible", are definitely intended to give people hope who are in need of it. The sound of the song walks the line between rock and roll and techno, while feeling much more like the former than the latter, much like a lot of the songs from their '91 album, "Achtung Baby", so I can't complain there! All in all, this is a very fresh, exuberant effort from a band who has stayed together for over three decades!!

"New York Morning" by Elbow: The ultra-mellow feel of this song definitely suggests "morning", but it doesn't quite feel like the loud, hustle bustle atmosphere typically associated with New York (perhaps partly because Elbow are a British band). "New York Morning" is actually a very sweet song, with a lovely story behind it. It is about a married couple named Dennis and Lois, who grew up during the New York punk scene, that the band members knew personally. The experience of these two living in New York is chronicled quite nicely in the music video for this song, which can be viewed here:

"Nothing Quite Like Home" by G. Love and Special Sauce: G. Love and co haven't rocked (or jazzed) out quite this hard since the '90s!! Love (born Garrett Dutton) tended to focus more on acoustic blues and folk for most of the 21st century. "Nothing Quite Like Home" sees Dutton plugged in once again for the first time in quite a while! The opening riff (which is used throughout the song) sounds a little like "Smoke On the Water" if it were sampled by Beck and performed by Ben Harper. As the song says, "There's nothing else quite like home". If by "home", G. Love means the music he was originally known for, then there really is nothing quite like it!

"Spinners" by The Hold Steady: In both sound and lyric, The Hold Steady are pretty much the indie rock version of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band (though they have a slightly rougher sound)! The Hold Steady's songs are typically slices of life in urban bohemia, with a somewhat angst ridden undercurrent, and "Spinners" is no exception. "Spinners" seems to place a bit more emphasis on how the enjoyment of music ties in to the lifestyle of the band members and their friends, how it both builds them up and tears them apart. As a boy who grew up around the urban bohemia of Los Angeles, I approve (though their hometown is Brooklyn, New York).