Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New songs for June 25th, 2014

here they are:

"Brill Bruisers" by The New Pornographers: If you're familiar with the "Brill Building" movement of the early '60s (which included mostly "girl groups" like The Shirelles, The Ronettes, and The Chiffons), then "Brill Bruisers" actually seems like quite an apt way to describe the innocent on the outside, snarky on the inside sound of a group like The New Pornographers. Don't be fooled by their risque sounding name, it's merely based on how someone commented on how music is the "new pornography". That squeaky clean "ba-ba" dominated harmony in the beginning of "Brill Bruisers" pretty much sets the blueprint for the song. It's a somewhat punchy, yet still enjoyable "feel-good" song like many of The New Pornographers songs are, and that's pretty much what makes the song enjoyable. Aside from the filler words uttered in harmony during the song, it's a bit hard to make out what the lyrics are at first, but it seems as though music matters more to The New Pornographers than lyrics do. After all, these are the same guys who did "Sing Me Spanish Techno", a song that even the group themselves has no idea what it's about!

"Call Me the Breeze" by Eric Clapton: Back when Lynyrd Skynyrd made this song famous, they really emphasized the rock 'n' roll element of what was originally more of a laid-back blues-y country song by J.J. Cale. Almost 40 years later, it appears that guitar hero (and avid J.J. Cale fan) Eric Clapton has come back to do Cale's song justice by sticking to the blues-y, yet still mellow sound that the song originally had. Lynyrd Skynyrd fans may disagree with me, but I personally think that "Call Me the Breeze" sounds better as a Clapton cover than as a Skynyrd cover!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New songs for June 18th, 2014

here they are:

"Just One of the Guys" by Jenny Lewis: The Rilo Kiley frontwoman's latest song is a piece of alt-country melancholia, centering around how she feels regret for how she just can't be "one of the guys" no matter how hard she tries. The titular phrase could be interpreted in one of two ways. It could refer to how she always feels like a female in a crowd full of males, or it could refer to how she doesn't feel like an individual even though she wants to be seen as one ("guys", in this case, would simply mean "people", referring to both genders). The second part of the chorus states that she also feels regretful about not having an open mind. The irony about the statements in this song are that she is incredibly individual, she usually blends in successfully with men (I particularly like it when she collaborates with Elvis Costello, which she has done a few times by now), and that she (as far as I know) does have an open mind. Is this a song of true regret, or just four minutes of sarcasm disguised as a lonesome country-rock song?! Perhaps we'll never know!

"Rent I Pay" by Spoon: It's been about four years since the indie-pop/rock quintet known as Spoon last released an album. Their simple but quirky name goes well with their musical style, which is also simple but quirky, influenced equally by rock, pop, and folk, with a dash of Elton John/Billy Joel-esque piano-pop thrown in there on occasion. Spoon's latest song, "Rent I Pay", almost seems like their attempt at trying to be The Rolling Stones, with its main riff sounding somewhat like a slowed down version of "Street Fighting Man". The lyrics, though, are pure Spoon. I mean honestly, would you expect Mick Jagger to have lyrics like, "that's the rent I pay/like my brother say"? Probably not. But such offbeat lyrics would seem pretty typical for a guy like Britt Daniel!

"Slow Motion" by Phox: Monica Martin is a black woman who leads an indie-folk-rock group!! Not every day you come across that! The instrumentation of "Slow Motion", the debut song from her band, Phox, is also something unusual, even by indie standards. In the beginning of the song, you think you're gonna get a bluegrass song, but it quickly turns into something that comes off as a cross between Florence & The Machine and The Kopecky Family Band. Top it all off with a clarinet solo in the middle, and a section towards the end with a slight reggae influence, and you've basically got a tasty indie-pop stew on your hands! "Everything I do, I do in slow motion", Monica sings during the chorus. An apt description for the song, but the eclectic mix of sounds chosen for the song seem like they were done in anything but slow motion!

"U Get Me High" by Tom Petty: Doesn't it bother you when musicians release one single off their new album one week, and then the VERY NEXT WEEK they release ANOTHER one?! Well, it bothers me!! This is exactly what Tom Petty did with his latest album, "Hypnotic Eye". "American Dream Plan B" was released last week, and now we have "U Get Me High". Not exactly as forceful and driving as "American Dream Plan B", but rest assured, "U Get Me High" is still good. It sounds a bit like something Petty might have done circa the mid '90s, using rock 'n' roll guitars with a mid-tempo drumbeat. This song may or may not be about drugs, as it is equally likely to be about a girl he's in love with, who gives him "something so deep". There's only one other complaint I have about this song, aside from its earlier than expected release date, and that is that eye don't no Y Tom Petty chose 2 have the letter "U" in the title of the song instead of the pronoun "you", with its proper spelling. Seriously, what did he have 2 do that 4?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Songs from A to Z!

From Tom Petty's action-packed anthem "American Dream Plan B", to the zephyrean zen of Conor Oberst's "Zigzagging Towards the Light", we've got 'em all! Here they are:

"American Dream Plan B" by Tom Petty: Is there a better way to start out this week's blog than with a solid, rockin' tune like Tom Petty's "American Plan B"?! I don't think so! One of the greatest advantages Tom Petty has over fellow "heartland rockers", like Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp, is that Petty typically seems to stick to rock 'n' roll music more than they do, instead of switching between rock and folk/country. Apparently, this time around, Petty wanted his entire album to have a no-frills rock sound, from start to finish. That being said, "American Dream Plan B" brings his newest album, "Hypnotic Eye" off to a great start!

"Out On the Street" by Spanish Gold: This marks the second time that a member of My Morning Jacket has joined a supergroup, the first of whom was lead singer, Jim James, with his side project, Monsters of Folk. This time, MMJ drummer Patrick Hallahan takes a swing at joining a supergroup, along with Dante Schwebel from Canadian indie-folk/rock group, City and Colour, and Adrian Quesada from Grupo Fantasma. Though two thirds of the group started out as folkies, their song "Out On the Street" doesn't fit that description, and is instead a rather soulful number that sounds remarkably like "Somebody's Watching Me" by '80s one-hit wonder and R & B musician, Rockwell. The coincidence in sound to that song is not accidental, as the members of Spanish Gold wanted their sound to recall the R & B and early hip-hop music of the 1980's, since all three of them grew up watching MTV during the first couple of years the channel was on the air.

"The Line" by Phish: And here we have yet another soulful, slinky, jazzy track, albeit in a more mellow, blissed out mood, typical of Phish. At least it SEEMS like a typical Phish song until you realize that the song is actually about a basketball player! Not exactly a common subject among post-hippie jam bands, but apparently the members of Phish were big fans of basketball player, Darius Washington, Jr., so they decided to dedicate a song to him. The song is written from the perspective of a basketball player whose destiny hangs in the balance (or "the line", hence the title of the song). I'm the last person you'd ever want to have join a basketball team, but I still appreciate this song.

"Zigzagging Towards the Light" by Conor Oberst: You've gotta love the title of this song!! It uses both an unusual letter and an unusual word beginning with the letter, and adding "towards the light" after the first word of the title makes it sound poetic! The song is a laid back, roots-y folk tune with a rock 'n' roll undercurrent, almost like a long, lost Traveling Wilburys song. The title is not the only poetic lyric in the song. It is full of cosmic sounding metaphors and descriptions, actually, like "my mind's a weathervane, it spins around just like a top", "it forms a figure eight, and goes on for eternity", and "I fly by interstate across a purple mountain range". So basically, "Zigzagging Towards the Light" is the tale of a dissatisfied youth product of bohemian pop culture trying to search for the meaning of life through dream-like descriptions of his surroundings. It's like Kerouac's "On the Road" set to music!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

New songs for June 4th, 2014

here they are:

"Back to You" by Twin Forks: Is it just me, or is "bluegrass rock" getting even more catchy than it was before?! "Back to You" by Twin Forks certainly seems to prove that this is so! With its proficiently plucked banjo strings, and its jovial, stomp-along rhythm, "Back to You" is one of those songs that's guaranteed to put a smile on anyone's face! Seriously, who wouldn't wanna just break out into song and dance during this one?!

"My Silver Lining" by First Aid Kit: I only heard three songs ("Blue", "The Lion's Roar", and "Emmylou") from First Aid Kit before I heard their latest song, "My Silver Lining", but those three songs were enough to let me know what First Aid Kit typically sound like. They are a Swedish folk-rock duo consisting of two sisters who use their honey-sweet harmonies and soft, billowy sound to melt the hearts of even the most cold-hearted people out there. "My Silver Lining" is like a "survival in times of trouble" type of song, contrasting dulcet harmonies with despairing emotions, which is typical of their material. In spite of their sweet nature, First Aid Kit often have negative subject matter within their songs, but their songs are just so sweet and lovely, I usually don't remember what their true nature is!

"Taking Chances" by Sharon Van Etten: How do you make a leap from the PJ Harvey-esque angst of "Serpents" to the Joni Mitchell-ish folk-rock of "All I Can", and now trip-hop in the style of Portishead and Massive Attack for "Taking Chances"?! Don't ask me how, but all I know is that Sharon Van Etten can do it! "Taking Chances", indeed! With musical style, anyway. The subject matter of the song is nothing new, as it deals with dissatisfaction in a relationship like most of Sharon's songs tend to, but the delivery of her passionate, sulky yearning on this song, combined with its moody, electronic musical aspects, does the trick for me here.

"Violent Shiver" by Benjamin Booker: Take the "chug 'n' pound" drumming of Delta Spirit's Brandon Young, and combine it with the mighty, forceful guitar sound of an old Chuck Berry or Rolling Stones record, and you've got "Violent Shiver" by Benjamin Booker. This is one powerhouse song!! Defiant and headstrong throughout, "Violent Shiver" is more violent than shiver inducing, but more of a righteous violence than an unjust one. And then there's the subject of who Benjamin Booker IS!! He is a young black man, probably not much older (or younger?) than I am, who is from New Orleans, and enjoys hardcore punk groups like Black Flag just as much as he does more "traditional" New Orleans jazz and blues. You don't meet (or hear) someone like THAT every day, do you?!