Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New songs for July 30th, 2014

here they are:

"Every Morning" by J. Mascis (from Dinosaur Jr.): With a past full of sardonic, grungy rock songs, it's a bit of a surprise to me that J. Mascis, the lead singer of noise-rock pioneers, Dinosaur Jr., has mellowed out in recent years! I didn't believe I'd hear anything even remotely acoustic from him until I heard him cover Edie Brickell's "Circle". Mascis' latest solo effort, "Every Morning", is a folk-rock song. The song is not without his fuzzy yet spastic trademark electric guitar solos, but those are not the defining features of "Every Morning" by a long shot! Mascis' dry attitude is still there in both the lyrics ("every morning makes it hard on me") and in the way they're delivered. It seems as though he has been quite the busy man this year, having also provided the guitar solos on "Goshen '97" by up-and-coming indie rock group, Strand of Oaks.

"Family Tree" by Kings of Leon: Kings of Leon have done plenty of odes to classic rock, but so far, none of those songs quite capture the spirit of the vintage 1970's electric guitar sound like "Family Tree". It is by far the most upbeat song from KOL's latest album, "Mechanical Bull", and quite possibly their most upbeat song in general! The chorus of the song is memorable, though it does have some awkward rhyming ("I am your family tree, I know your A to Z, this is a secret proposition, lay your hands on me"). It seems as though the whole song centers around the subject of the song trying to make it with the girl of his dreams, but that is rather typical subject matter for a 1970's rock song, so the Followill brothers once again manage to capture the essence of the glory days of rock 'n' roll!

"Rise Up Singing" by Trigger Hippy: You know that a band with the word "hippy" in the name is probably going to sound like something from the past, and it does, but in a rather fresh, soulful way! Trigger Hippy are a supergroup that comprise of various members of The Black Crowes (including newer member, Jackie Greene), and alt-rocker turned soul mistress, Joan Osborne. Not surprisingly, Trigger Hippy sounds like a group whose music got stuck in the early '70s, combining elements of rock, folk, and soul all in the same sound. The message of the song is simple, but quite joyful and exuberant.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New songs for July 23rd, 2014

here they are:

"Are You Behind the Shining Star?" by Trampled by Turtles: Their name is funny, and their music is excellent! I fell in love instantly with Trampled by Turtles' melancholy, bittersweet "Alone", and their calming ode to the road, "Midnight On the Interstate" was almost as good. Their third big song, "Are You Behind the Shining Star?", maintains the rustic, old world charm of their first two hits, and it also sounds more energetic, as if TBT are just now trying to get on to the Mumford and Sons bandwagon. After lead vocalist Dave Simonett opens the lyrics with the title of the song, he asks, "Am I as hopeless as you are?", perhaps indicating that, although this is their happiest SOUNDING song so far, it might not actually BE their happiest song.

"From Now On" by Delta Spirit: Although there is (so far) no such thing as a guitar-less Delta Spirit song, their last two songs to make an impact on adult alt radio stations ("California" and "Tear It Up") focused more on rhythm than on guitar. Their latest song, "From Now On", returns to the guitar-focused sound that Delta Spirit originally had. In spite of the chorus's reassurance that "from now on I'm gonna be your friend", "From Now On" is probably the least friendly sounding Delta Spirit track I've heard so far! The sound of the song tends to evoke the moody indie-pop of both contemporary groups like The National and the even darker sounds of classic indie groups like My Bloody Valentine.

"Scarecrow" by Counting Crows: Though Counting Crows have only released one other album so far in the 2010's, I'd say it's been a great decade for Adam Duritz and his fondly remembered '90s folk-rock group! They tend to be currently focusing on songs with a roots-y Neil Young/Tom Petty type sound, and their latest song, "Scarecrow" is no exception to the rule. The song seems to largely work as an exercise in clever wordplay and quirky lyrics, from its opening lyrics ("Mary steers clear of the men from space"), to its silly but memorable chorus, which varies from "snowman, scarecrow, John Doe, buffalo" to "spaceman, scarecrow, peep show, freak show", but always includes the word "scarecrow".

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


This deserves some sorta celebration!! Ummmmmm....I dunno what, though. Anyway, here are this week's songs:

"Bad Habit" by The Kooks: At first, Luke Pritchard's voice appears to be surrounded only by various forms of percussion, a la Adele's "Rumour Has It", on the latest Kooks song, "Bad Habit". This made me a bit skeptical as to how I would like "Bad Habit". However, about a minute into the song, the faux-retro garage rock sound of Hugh Harris' guitar shows up, and makes it sound more like a typical Kooks song. It's definitely a catchy song (although what Kooks song isn't, really?!) However, it just doesn't measure up to that '60s folk-rock style charm of songs like "She Moves In Her Own Way" and "Junk of the Heart (Happy)". It sure is great to hear Luke and the boys back in action, though, nonetheless!

"Don't Know What It Means" by Puss N Boots: Norah Jones (yes, THAT Norah Jones) has attempted to assert herself as the lead singer of bands before, such as The Little Willies, but that didn't quite do the trick for me. Norah's new group, Puss N Boots, however, has actually gotten me to like her music. Initially, I didn't even realize she was in the band, when in fact she is the lead vocalist and guitarist! Their sound is country-rock, but a rather enjoyable, catchy sort of country-rock (think what a less rowdy Old '97s might sound like). "Don't Know What It Means" is only a little over two and a half minutes long, and Norah repeats the title phrase quite a few times, but there is still something quite likable about it. It is also worth mentioning that Puss N Boots is a trio of women (unlike The Little Willies, in which Norah was the only female in the group).

"Hayloft" by Nickel Creek: We've heard Nickel Creek attempt to blend bluegrass and rock before, and they're quite good at it. What about mixing bluegrass and pop, though?! Well, the answer to that comes to us in the form of Nickel Creek's latest song, "Hayloft", which combines the plucked strings of bluegrass with the synthesized beats of a typical 21st century pop song. Don't mistake this for a sugar-sweet pop song, though, as Sara Watkins' repeated mantra of "my daddy's got a gun, so you better run", as well as the rather menacing tone of the song overall, give "Hayloft" a bit of an edge that previous Nickel Creek songs haven't had. Sure is a sharp turnaround from the bittersweet, yearning sounds of "Destination"!! Makes me wonder what the rest of Nickel Creek's latest album, "A Dotted Line", sounds like.

"Heart Is A Drum" by Beck: Beck once covered the song "Pink Moon" by folk-rock cult hero, Nick Drake. Perhaps that rubbed off on him somehow, as Beck's latest song, "Heart Is A Drum", sounds a lot like a Nick Drake song. Its tuning even sounds similar to songs like Nick's "From the Morning", and the piano sounds awfully similar to a couple of Nick Drake's songs (most notably the songs from "Bryter Layter"). The electronic echo and drums in "Heart Is A Drum" make the song into more of a Beck song. With its continuously aching yet soothing melody, "Heart Is A Drum" is pure autumnal melancholia at its finest!

"Left Hand Free" by alt-J: Alt-J (who named themselves for how the ∆ symbol appears on computers) are pretty much as eclectic as their name would suggest they are! They've gone through quirky goofball rock with the Adam Sandler-esque "Fitzpleasure", as well as psychedelic pop with their "Where the Wild Things Are" homage, "Breezeblocks". Now it appears that alt-J are going for more of a blues-y garage rock based sound with their latest song, "Left Hand Free". If "Left Hand Free" sounds more simplistic than alt-J's previous work, there's a reason for that. Apparently, they were trying their hand (no pun intended) at creating a song that was more fit for American audiences (alt-J themselves are British) since their latest record was recorded on an American label, so they intentionally did a sloppy, haphazard sounding song. Perhaps they don't view American culture in the highest regard, but they were still able to come up with a good song in the process.

"Long Time Coming" by Saints of Valory: Saints of Valory are one of those bands who just seem to have a sound that's riding hot on the wave of what has become popular in alt-pop/rock of the 2010's. Their previous hit, "Neon Eyes" (from only one summer ago), was an excellent U2 homage, and SOV's follow-up song, "Long Time Coming", sounds a lot like Imagine Dragons, only with more emphasis on the electric guitar. While the sound of this song might not be terribly original, there is one thing that is, and that's the video, which boasts an electric neon glow (and talented dancers) throughout! Check it out here:

"My Hurricane" by Jamie Scott (from Graffiti6): And the hit(makers) just keep on coming! "Free" and "Stare Into the Sun" might not be titles that are immediately recognizable (and a lot of people don't seem to know the name Graffiti6, either), but whistle a few bars (if you're good at it) to either song, and a lot of people will probably know what you're talking about! Now Jamie Scott, the lead singer of the wildly successful alt-pop/soul group, Graffiti6, has struck out on his own for the first time, with his song, "My Hurricane". "My Hurricane" doesn't seem like it'll fare as well on the charts as "Free" and "Stare Into the Sun", but the song does have a style all its own. Instead of being influenced by early '70s soul like his previous hits were, it seems to be influenced by more contemporary folk-pop (and legendary folk-rock like Bob Dylan - check out that harmonica solo at the beginning!) Another thing about "My Hurricane" that sticks out is its shifting from E major verses to C major choruses. I don't know too many songs that have verse to chorus changes quite like that!

"Navigate Below" by The Revivalists: "The Revivalists", indeed! What these guys are reviving is the sound of blues and jazz, wrapped up neatly in a pop/rock package! Though there have been a small number of musicians (i.e. Gary Clark Jr., Trombone Shorty, Alabama Shakes, etc.) who have attempted to keep the blues alive and well, there still have not been many, so a band like The Revivalists are a welcome addition to my blog, and hopefully, to your music collection. The hopeful lyrics ("we can work it out") and bright, shiny tone of "Navigate Below" set it apart from the mostly either world-weary or lovelorn blues/jazz-rock of the 2010's. Oh, did I mention they're from New Orleans?! No wonder they sound so good!

"White Lies" by Max Frost: As the title indicates, this song is basically about the lack of trust in a relationship that the lead singer (probably) experienced. Nothing new here. As for the sound of the song, it's been done, but it definitely has a way of creeping into your head! It mixes folk guitars with electronic beats (Avicii, anyone?!), but there's actually a very good reason for this. Apparently one of the first people Max Frost collaborated with was indie-folk-rocker Bob Schneider, and he first heard the music of contemporary R & B musicians like D'Angelo and Erykah Badu shortly afterward, which ultimately led to his combining of folk and hip-hop. Also, if this song sounds familiar, it might just be because you watched a commercial for Beats Electronics!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

New songs for July 9th, 2014

here they are:

"Crazy For You" by Scars on 45: Named for a quote from Emmylou Harris' father, but sounding more like a guitar-centric version of Coldplay, Scars on 45 managed to win me over three times in a row with songs from their debut a couple years ago. Normally I'm not thrilled with a lot of the faux-Coldplay bands, but there's something about Scars on 45 that continually draws me to their music! The chorus of their latest song, "Crazy For You", tends to pour a bit more musical syrup than the verses do, with its slowed down, piano-centric sound, as well as its gooey guy/girl harmonies, but I can deal with the faster, more guitar oriented verses pretty well. Besides, the fast verse/slow chorus focus of this song makes it distinguished from Scars' other material.

"Do You?" by Spoon: Perhaps Spoon thought their fans weren't QUITE ready for the Stones-y, soulful "Rent I Pay" (though the comments I've read about the song would indicate otherwise), so they've already released a new single, "Do You?", that sounds a bit more...well...Spoon-y. And what is "Spoon-y", you ask?! Basically it's fun, bouncy, quirky music that combines piano-pop with folk-rock. "Do You?" adds a soft jazz element to their music, with its use of major 7th chords to comprise the majority of the song. The fact that this song was released in summer is quite apt, considering how its lyrics center around activities like getting popsicles, and asking "someone (to) do something 'bout this heat". The sound of the song doesn't sound quite right for summer, though. It has more of a breezy, autumnal flavor to me.

"Summer Noon" by Tweedy (Jeff Tweedy from Wilco): Now THIS song feels like summer! The title alone says so! However, it's not a summer party song, but more of a "lazy, hazy days of summer" sorta song. This being a song by Jeff Tweedy from Wilco, I wouldn't exactly expect this to be a party song. Another thing Tweedy is known for is having a "retro" flavor to a lot of his songs, though it seems hard to top how retro "Summer Noon" sounds. It doesn't seem to sound a year older than 1969, even though it was (obviously) released years later. "Summer Noon" is meant to evoke exactly what its title would indicate it's supposed to - a summer noon, of course! A restful, peaceful summer noon!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

New songs for July 2nd, 2014

here they are:

"Gimme Something Good" by Ryan Adams: Ryan Adams could easily be likened to a younger Neil Young, with his tendency to switch between heartfelt, acoustic ballads, and electrifying, arena ready rockers. The "rock side" of Ryan's material seems to be largely influenced by U2 and Bruce Springsteen. Opting for a Tom Petty style sound is not something I recall Ryan Adams doing. Until now, that is. "Gimme Something Good" clearly recalls Tom Petty, circa the late '70s/early '80s, in many ways. First off, there's that mix of roots-y but gutsy electric guitar that evokes the sound that The Heartbreakers' Mike Campbell typically used, and there's even a keyboard in the background that sounds remarkably like Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench. To top it all off, the chorus of "Gimme Something Good" kinda sounds like "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around", Petty's duet with Fleetwood Mac vocalist, Stevie Nicks. Not sure if Petty would be honored or insulted if he heard this song, but chances are, probably one of the two. With Petty having recently released a new record, it'd be interesting to find out what he thinks of Ryan Adams' latest song!!

"Goshen '97" by Strand of Oaks: The title of the song is never mentioned in the lyrics, but it's a pretty clear statement of what the song is about. It is a no-frills, cheekily nostalgic look back on what life was like for Strand of Oaks' lead singer, Timothy Showalter, in Goshen, Indiana, back in 1997. The chorus of the song tells it all, as Showalter creakily growls that he was "lonely but (he) was having fun", and that he does not want to "start all over again". Various bits of '90s nostalgia are laced through the song, from its mention of "singing Pumpkins in the mirror" (Smashing Pumpkins), to the fact that Dinosaur Jr. guitarist J. Mascis provides guest guitar work on the song. Welcome to the '90s!

"Rainbow" by Robert Plant: From Zeppelin to zen. This seems like an apt way of describing how Robert Plant's recent work has turned out. Yes, he still performs rock music, but not the mighty, thunderous roar of Led Zeppelin. Instead, it is a more mature, transcendentally influenced, and almost meditative form of rock music. His latest song, "Rainbow", continues in this pattern, having not only a peaceful sound, but soothing, hippie-like lyrics as well, especially when he describes himself as being the "rainbow" in the title of the song. "I will sing my song for you, and carry on", Plant sings, in a blissfully existential manner. Also, I'm sorry to dash the hopes of any Led Zeppelin fans who might be reading this, but Plant is not planning a reunion tour with the band, as he would much rather focus on the here and now than dwell on the past.