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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WR5GQNDQYY
"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!