Wednesday, May 28, 2014

New songs for May 28th, 2014

here they are:

"Just One Drink" by Jack White: Just listening to the beginning of this song, I can already tell it's good! It has the chugging beat of The Velvet Underground's "I'm Waiting For the Man" coupled with scathingly funny lyrics about opposites (for instance, "You drink water, I drink gasoline", and "I watch TV, you watch the ceiling"). Much like Jack did on the title track to "Lazaretto", "Just One Drink" also combines rock 'n' roll guitars with bluegrass fiddles. Just ONE drink, eh?! I don't need a single one for me to enjoy a song like this one!

"Step" by Vampire Weekend: Of the three songs that have been released as singles so far from VW's latest album, "Modern Vampires of the City", "Step" seems to be the mellowest one so far. It has a soothing sound that is influenced by the bright shiny organs of 1960's baroque-pop songs. VW tend to be going for a '60s vibe for many of their latest songs, actually, including the oddball rockabilly sound of "Diane Young" and the jaunty, Monkees-esque piano-pop of "Unbelievers". Ezra Koenig delivers lyrics in "Step" that are as cheeky and clever as ever, rattling off a list of mostly American cities in the first verse, showing off knowledge of obscure idioms (i.e. "rich as Croesus", meaning extremely rich), and even referencing another indie-pop group ("such a modest mouse" in the chorus - Isaac Brock, are you paying attention to this?!)

"Stolen Dance" by Milky Chance: "Stolen DANCE" by Milky CHANCE?! Well, let's take off our pants, make romance, and watch out for ants as we water the plants! Not every day you come across a song whose name rhymes with its performer(s)!! Its sound is quite unique, coming off as an unlikely (but still quite catchy) cross between Mexican folk music and indie-pop. Using only an acoustic guitar, smooth, hushed vocals, and hand claps for a percussion section, "Stolen Dance" could be described as "The Gipsy Kings from outer space" in terms of how it sounds. The words "stolen dance" do not make an appearance anywhere in the song, but the song's refrain of being "stoned in paradise" is a rather apt description of it. The song goes nowhere, but maintains a blissful mood all the while, as though it is dangling down, perpetually suspended in mid-air, from somewhere in the night sky.

"Tennis Court" by Lorde: Lorde knows (pun intended) that high school is not an easy thing to go through! As a high schooler herself, Lorde seems to have a rather cynical point of view about her peers in her latest song, "Tennis Court". Here, she takes the high school stereotypes of "class clown" and "beauty queen" (casting herself as the latter, in a manner that is probably tongue-in-cheek), and viciously deconstructs them to the point in which they engage in a battle of trash talk. Ironic that someone whose songs present a rather sour point of view towards teen pop culture is getting revered by the teen pop crowd (and beyond)! Perhaps we'll wait and see what she has in store for us once she reaches her 20's!!

"Waiting All Night" by Phish: As a jam band who followed directly in the footsteps of The Grateful Dead from the moment they debuted, Phish are typically a very blissful band to listen to. However, none of their songs so far have had a vibe quite as blissed out as their latest song, "Waiting All Night". Those expecting the guitar noodling that Phish usually have will probably be disappointed, but it is still a song worth listening to nonetheless. "Waiting All Night" is pretty much what you'd get if you tried imagining what an extremely mellow version of Pink Floyd might be like. The lyrics are a bit repetitive, but Phish are usually more about sound than they are about lyrics, and the sound of "Waiting All Night", fittingly, is perfect for gazing into the night sky.

"You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover" by Kenny Wayne Shepherd: In which two generations of rock 'n' roll music meet up!! "You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover" is a cover of a song by rock pioneer Bo Diddley, as performed by '90s blues-rock extraordinaire Kenny Wayne Shepherd. It's hard to measure up to a legend like Bo, but Kenny comes very close in his rendition of "You Can't Judge A Book...", retaining all the chugging beats and relentless, high spirited energy of the original!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

New songs for May 21st, 2014

here they are:

"Control" by Broken Bells: Broken Bells' latest album is called "After the Disco". So what IS after the disco? New wave?! From the sound of their latest song, "Control", I would certainly think so! Opening with fuzzy guitars and a flange soaked bass (and a soulful sax solo to boot), "Control" is the best song David Bowie never wrote. As usual, though, James Mercer adds a Shins-y touch of light pop-rock bounce and lovely, sweet harmony to the song. Perhaps this could be said to be a "sequel song" to their previous hit from "After the Disco", "Holding On For Life". In that song, they were talking about clinging to things, but in this one, they talk about losing control. Will their next song have a theme of trying to get things back to normal?! We'll see. Only time will tell.

"Don't Just Sit There" by Lucius: With the relentless, danceable energy of Lucius' previous song, "Turn It Around", I was expecting "Don't Just Sit There" to be just as catchy if not more so. It's not. However, it is the perfect song to listen to after a bad day with its more melancholy folk-rock-y flavor. "Don't Just Sit There" is a rather somber, brokenhearted song about the aftermath of a breakup. The song has a bit of an R.E.M.-ish jangle-pop sound, as well as gently strummed acoustic guitars in the background. Lucius - do they want to make us tap our feet or cry our eyes out?! I guess we'll never know for sure until we hear other songs of theirs!

"I Don't Know You Anymore" by Bob Mould: As an ex-punk rocker, Bob Mould doesn't always make an immediate connection with the more mellowed out adult alt crowd. One of the few times he did was with the beautiful, R.E.M.-ish "See A Little Light" back in 1988. "I Don't Know You Anymore" isn't exactly Bob's mellowest, but I guess with the rise of bands who have a brand of "Springsteen-ian punk" (Hold Steady, Gaslight Anthem) who have become popular with the adult alt audiences, a song like "I Don't Know You Anymore" is probably more palatable to those whose taste in music is more soft and melodic than it would have been 10 or 20 years ago. "I Don't Know You Anymore" does indeed boast a sound similar to groups like The Hold Steady and The Gaslight Anthem. The song rocks relentlessly, but it also has a sense of pathos underneath it all that not every rock song does.

"Saturday Night" by G. Love and Special Sauce: G. Love's "Nothing Quite Like Home" came out in winter of this year, and that song brought back the signature blend of rock, blues, jazz, and hip-hop that G. Love had originally become known for. His second single of the year, "Saturday Night", doesn't rock out quite as hard as "Nothing Quite Like Home", but it is still worth listening to. G. Love might be a Pennsylvania native, but the spicy gumbo he cooks up with the drums and harmonica of "Saturday Night" make it seem like it comes from down south in Louisiana instead! "Saturday Night" is a bit more folk-rock-y than his previous hit of 2014, but it still has just the right sort of flavor for the typical G. Love fan to indulge him/herself in. The song is basically the auditory equivalent of eating a jar of salsa marked "mild".

"Weight of Love" by The Black Keys: Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney seem to enjoy the comparisons to classic rock musicians they have gotten with their last two albums. As any fan of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, or The Rolling Stones knows, "rock" doesn't always have to be hard, and some of the best known rock songs are quite ambitious in terms of their length and/or structure. The Black Keys' "Weight of Love" is BOTH!! It is a softer song (at least it starts as one), that clocks in at almost seven minutes!! It seems to take the form of a Floyd-esque "stoner jam" during its first two minutes, which are entirely instrumental. Turn on, tune in, and drop out with The Black Keys. Wow, I never thought I'd say THOSE words together in one sentence!!

"West Coast" by Lana Del Rey: For a pop star, Lana Del Rey is quite bittersweet in pretty much all of her songs! I can't really think of a happy Lana Del Rey song, actually. This is a good thing for me, though, since it proves that you don't have to sound happy or energetic to be popular. "West Coast" continues to go in the poignant direction of Lana's other material. There are some things that are noticeably different about "West Coast", though. For one, the song seems to be almost like a Moody Blues song for the indie-pop generation, alternating between faster verses and a slower chorus. It is also one of the few songs of hers in which the electric guitar plays a central part. The guitar also stays throughout the song, rather than wandering off into the background like it did in "Blue Jeans". The guitar we get on "West Coast" is drenched in reverb, but a rather sad sort of reverb, serving more as an echo of painful emotions than merely as a "psychedelic" sound effect used in the song.

"Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?" by Arctic Monkeys: And now we have yet another song that uses a reverb guitar sound. This one is a more bouncy, energetic kind of reverb, though (is there such a thing as a sad Arctic Monkeys song?!) Much as the title of this song would indicate, "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?" has a rather mischievous sound, as though someone is creeping up and down a stairway in the middle of the night. Midnight (or rather, after midnight) is when the song takes place, actually, so they probably used this sound on the song on purpose. The lyrics basically give out the message of "don't bother me, I'm trying to sleep, and you're on drugs", but the song itself tells an entirely different story!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

New songs for May 7th, 2014

here they are:

"Home" by Johnnyswim: Johnnyswim seem to belong into a subclass of modern day folk-rock musicians who happen to be duos consisting of one guy and one girl. It started early in the 2010's with The Civil Wars, and since then, groups like Shovels and Rope and The Wind and The Wave have joined their ranks, and now Johnnyswim are part of that scene too. As the "Johnny" of their name implies, the male in the group takes the lead vocals, but the female provides some nice harmonies to go with his voices. Their first song, "Home" (which seems to be a common title for neo-folk-rock tunes - Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros and Phillip Phillips both have songs with the title), is an upbeat, sweet-natured song, with a beat and chord sequence reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel's "Cecilia" and Bob Dylan's harmonica. "Home" is where the heart is in this tune!

"Rude" by Magic!: Every decade seems to have their share of successful "regatta de blanc" (white reggae) musicians. In the '80s it was The Police, in the '90s, Sublime, and in the '00s, Matisyahu. In the 2010's, it doesn't seem like we have one quite yet, but Magic! could end up being the band that defines white reggae for the decade! A major difference between Magic! and the aforementioned groups is that the lead singer of Magic! doesn't feel the need to don a pseudo-Jamaican accent in order to get his point across. It is interesting to note that the title of this song begins with an "R", a letter that seems to be difficult to enunciate with a Jamaican dialect (perhaps that is part of the reason that such an accent isn't used in this song, though this didn't stop Bob Marley from performing a song with a triple "R" title - "Roots, Rock, Reggae"). The guitar solo in "Rude" has a rather exotic, "aquatic" flavor to it, soaked in the best kind of fuzzy, reverb laden sound.

"Seasons (Waiting On You)" by Future Islands: The word "future" might be in the name of this band, but their sound dates back to around 30 years ago, when synthesizers were the hip, new instrument that everyone was talking about and using. With its romantic sentiments and repetitive lyrics, "Seasons..." seems like it could very well have passed for being a 1980's pop radio hit. There are only two main chords used in this song (except during the bridge), also, which adds to the simplicity of it. When an indie band does something simplistic, you never can tell whether they are being sincere about it, or if they are just doing so as a joke. Not a bad song, but somehow, I feel like the future of Future Islands holds better songs in store for us.

"Take It Or Leave It" by Cage the Elephant: Is it just me, or are Cage the Elephant getting more melodic with each album they release?! Their debut suggested them to be a sub-par "frat boy" version of The White Stripes, yet the album that followed had the neo-psychedelic song, "Shake Me Down" on it, hinting towards a mellower sound. CTE's third and latest album had "Come A Little Closer", which became their most popular song on the adult alt charts, even making the Top 10 of those charts (which had not happened with CTE previously on the adult alt charts). Their next single off of "Melophobia", "Take It Or Leave It", is another breezy, melodic tune that flirts with neo-psychedelia, albeit with a somewhat disco influenced rhythm. The sound of "Take It Or Leave It" recalls the quirkier side of indie-pop, like Dr. Dog and Devendra Banhart (both of whom I had the pleasure of seeing at First City Festival in Monterey last summer). It's funny that their latest album is called "Melophobia", as this seems to be their mellowest one yet!