Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New songs for March 26th, 2014

here they are:

"Fever" by The Black Keys: With the popularity of each song they've had a hit with in the 2010's, it's no wonder The Black Keys' latest song, "Fever", is the most anticipated new song of the week!! However, it's a bit, well, different than most of their material. There is a bit more focus on the synthesizer in this song, yet it still keeps up with the sound of the Keys' trademark blues-rock sound, almost as if Devo was trying to cover a Led Zeppelin song! That being said, there really isn't that much "fever" in "Fever", but it's still worth checking out!

"Hundreds of Ways" by Conor Oberst: Anyone ever notice how Conor Oberst's solo material has more of an upbeat, country-rock feel than his material with Bright Eyes?! Well, I have, and his latest solo song, "Hundreds of Ways", is no exception. In fact, I would say that it's the Bright Eyes frontman's most optimistic sounding song to date! The bright, brassy sound in the chorus is atypical for Conor, but it adds more pep to the already peppy vibe of this song. Conor is still as contrary as ever, though, insisting repeatedly that there are "hundreds of ways to get through the day", while also hoping that he's "forgotten when (he) dies".

"Milwaukee" by The Both: Aimee Mann and Ted Leo. She's a little bit folk-pop. He's a little bit rock 'n' roll. So what do crafty pop chanteuse, Aimee Mann, and indie-punk-rocker Ted Leo, as a duo known as "The Both", sound like together?! Well, indie rock, basically, but with an emphasis on the "rock" part (the song definitely seems like more of a Ted Leo song than an Aimee Mann one). The guitar distortion suggests indie rock legends, Pavement, yet the melody is more characteristic of classic rock, particularly the beat and key of Steely Dan's "Reelin' In the Years" mixed with the melody of Tommy Tutone's "867-5309/Jenny". Though Aimee Mann's role in "Milwaukee" is a bit understated, it's definitely there. Her voice is present during the first verse of the song, as well as the chorus, but in the latter, it mainly serves as a way to harmonize with Ted's vocals. The song is about when the two of them first toured together and encountered a statue of Henry Winkler's iconic TV character, "The Fonz", while walking around in the titular Wisconsin town.

"Morning Song" by The Avett Brothers: With a sound that seems halfway between James Taylor and Gillian Welch, "Morning Song" is one of The Avett Brothers' finest moments of melancholia, both lyrically and instrumentally. Its sound hearkens back to The Avetts' earlier material, with its stark instrumentation, consisting of many string instruments (acoustic guitar, banjo, and cello), but no percussion or bass. Scott Avett's yearning, keening vocals, lamenting about how it "hurts so bad", "nothing's really helping", and how he'll "have to sing that melody alone" really makes this one a major tearjerker! As if its lonesome sound wasn't enough to make you cry. Excuse me while I go grab my nearest handkerchief!!

"Raging Fire" by Phillip Phillips: Just the title of Phillip Phillips' latest song, "Raging Fire", makes it sound intense! It is a folk-pop/rock song, like most of his material, but there is something in "Raging Fire" that DOES make it more intense than his other songs, and that is a combination of the unbridled passion he puts into this song, and the equally passionate string orchestra he uses for its chorus! The "raging fire" in the title refers to an emotional "fire" of sorts, like a "burning" desire within the soul. Perhaps the coolest part about this song is the ending, which is a "cliffhanger", in that it leaves the song hanging on the second to the last part of the D major chord in its chorus, instead of resolving to the G major chord that dominates the song.

"Wait For Me" by Kings of Leon: In the late 2000's, Kings of Leon unintentionally became modern day arena rock giants, and they have used that sound to their advantage ever since. Nowhere does the power of their arena rock styled sound shine more brightly than on "Wait For Me", though, a song that sounds a little like John Mellencamp attempting to perform a Police song. The rather foreboding opening notes give way to a bittersweet ballad, in which KOL reassure the subject of the song that "it's all better now", in spite of the romantic troubles they might be going through. These guys sure have come a long way from being the garage rock group who sang "Molly's Chambers"!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New songs for March 12th, 2014

here they are:

"Avant Gardener" by Courtney Barnett: The title says it all!! Well, kinda. No, you're not going to hear a Captain Beefheart or Frank Zappa tune here, but you could expect something that sounds a little "noise-pop"-ish along the lines of, say, Flaming Lips, Built to Spill, or Yo La Tengo. Courtney's deadpan vocals and wordy lyrical refrains even recall avant-pop legends like Lou Reed. Lyrics like "the paramedic thinks I'm clever 'cause I play guitar/I think she's clever 'cause she stops people dying" seem like something that might have come out of a real-life version of "Daria"! I wonder what Courtney grows in that "avant-garden" of hers. Some "weeds", perhaps?!

"Ghost" by Jeremy Messersmith: The only other song of the week is yet another where the title explains the song. That is to say, the lyrics (and mood) of the song feel "haunted", as if by a ghost. "Ghost" was apparently inspired by a trip Jeremy took to his childhood home while he was touring a couple years ago. His home just didn't have the same feel as it did when he was a kid, and the mysterious emotions and emptiness he felt when he last visited it are summed up nicely in "Ghost", a minor key folk-rock song with a "stomp-along" rhythm that recalls both Phillip Phillips "Home" and Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zero's "Home". I think somebody needs to take me home now!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

New songs for March 5th, 2014

here they are:

"Come With Me Now" by Kongos: Considering the amount of influence this song seems to have from Paul Simon's South African sounding "Graceland" record, the name "Kongos" seems quite apt for this band! The accordions in the intro seem to come straight from "The Boy In the Bubble", and it has a similar rhythm to the song as well. The "Graceland" influence is not the only thing "Come With Me Now" has going for it, though. It also has a Kings of Leon/Killers style guitar solo in the middle of it. World music and alt-rock haven't fused together so smoothly since U2's "The Joshua Tree"! As if that wasn't enough, a friend of mine online also informed me that "Come With Me Now" is the "theme song" for Chicago ice hockey team, The Blackhawks, so perhaps THAT has something to do with its current success!

"Me And You" by Jake Bugg: This song also seems Paul Simon influenced, but more for the songs he did in the '70s than what he did in the '80s. It is, perhaps, the most heartfelt song so far from U.K. folk-rock sensation, Jake Bugg, whose songs are normally underscored with sarcasm and/or street smarts of some sort (both of these factors came to an extreme in his punk-y "What Doesn't Kill You"). "Me And You" has neither, and is more of a sincere love song, though it also seems to be about escaping societal pressures. It lacks the defiance of Jake Bugg's other material, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. After all, every tough guy has a soft side! Perhaps the only blow to this song is how it is the first Jake Bugg song that has been featured in "American Idol". How that happened, I have no idea!! Maybe this means that "Idol" has been getting more folk-rock friendly, though, as the show has with musicians like Phillip Phillips.

"Shelter Song" by Temples: "Eight...miles...high!!" Oh wait, wrong song!! This does sound an awful lot like The Byrds, though! "Shelter Song" has been out since January of this year, but it seems to have been only recently that the song has received a significant boost in airplay on adult alt stations. Boy, was I missing out!! Anything that sounds like The Byrds (R.E.M., anyone?! Gin Blossoms?!) I seem to take an immediate liking to, and "Shelter Song" is no exception! Both the sound and lyrics of this song ("take me away to the twilight zone", "I read a poem aloud", etc.) are pure '60s. Groovy, man, groovy!!

"Supernova" by Ray LaMontagne: Until now, I had thought of Ray LaMontagne as being a "poor man's Van Morrison". Though I admire Van the Man very much, Ray always seemed like he was trying a bit too hard to emulate Van's sound. Thankfully, Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys came to the rescue for Ray's latest album, and, as a result, produced catchy songs like "Supernova" that float between folk-rock and psychedelia! There is noticeably more mingling of electric and acoustic guitars in "Supernova", which give it a sound that seems vaguely like something from Crosby Stills & Nash, or perhaps Fleetwood Mac. "Supernova" has something that no other Ray LaMontagne songs have had for me so far. It has the power to get stuck in my head!!

"The Struggle" by Grizfolk: The last song for this week's blog has much in common with the first song of this week's blog! Both songs are "fusion" songs of sorts (this one combines Elvis Costello-esque organs, folk-rock guitars, and a Killers-ish dance floor ready alt-pop sound), and both songs have gotten a sudden boost in popularity due to being featured in non-radio media ("The Struggle" has been featured on the supernatural drama series, "The Originals"). The title of this song tells all as far as the lyrics are concerned, and it all comes to a head in the end of the song, which explains that "The struggle you are up against makes you what you are". The theme of the song may revolve around hardships, but it is no struggle at all to listen to a tune that's as catchy as this one!