Friday, November 28, 2014

New music FRIDAY (for the day after Thanksgiving)

Would have done my usual Wednesday post, but I was busy then. So here are six songs for the days before December. Hope you enjoy 'em!

"All the Time" by Bahamas: The newest album from indie-pop musicians, Bahamas, has been out since July of this year. I would have thought that their funky, catchy, soulful song, "Stronger Than That" would have been a hit on adult alt stations across the country, but only a few picked it up. I guess sometimes featuring your songs on commercials really does help, as this is what has happened to Bahamas' latest tune, "All the Time", this month. It was featured on a phone commercial. Although not nearly as catchy as "Stronger Than That", "All the Time" certainly has its reasons for being appealing. Perhaps the combination of folky acoustic guitar, lively brass instruments, quirky keyboard sounds, and its 1970's style electric guitars in the song have won people over, as that is a pretty unique mixture of sounds. Almost like The Black Keys' "Little Black Submarines" if the song was a bit slower and had its electric and acoustic guitar sections working together instead of as separate parts.

"Earthquake Driver" by Counting Crows: Steely Dan's famous guitar riffing in "Reelin' In the Years" seems to have become a hipster favorite over the years, what with everyone from hipster prototypes like Nick Lowe (in "So It Goes") to more recent definers of hipster-dom like Stephen Malkmus ("Gardenia") having used it in their songs. Counting Crows might not be what you would call a "hipster" band, but they do take after indie rock legends like Big Star and R.E.M., so I suppose they kinda count. The Crows' latest song, "Earthquake Driver", has a similar rhythm to "Reelin' In the Years", but it also has the country-rock twang of groups like The Old 97's. Adam Duritz and co seem to be trying hard to create more of an "indie" image for themselves, lyrically, on their latest album, with their abstract, seemingly out of context choice of words like "I was born a little north of Disney Land, somewhere under Wonderland and Hollywood", and "I want to be an earthquake driver/I want to be an aquarium diver". Huh?!

"Every Breaking Wave" by U2: Has U2 now taken to ripping off their own material?! The beginning of this song sounds awfully similar to "With Or Without You"! Thankfully, it starts to sound more original by the time the chorus comes around. Where "The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)" was (fittingly) straight up rock and roll, "Every Breaking Wave" sounds more characteristic of what you might be likely to hear from a band like The Killers, Snow Patrol, or Coldplay. Lyrically, "Every Breaking Wave" does not have as much substance or meaning as "The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)", but musically, it does sound more refreshing, and more characteristic of a classic U2 song.

"Inside Out" by Spoon: I am now convinced there is no such thing as a Spoon song that isn't catchy and clever! They never fail to please me in either aspect! Their latest song, "Inside Out", continues in that direction. Though nowhere near as catchy as their summer smash, "Do You?", "Inside Out" still manages to have a memorable rhythm and sound. The hypnotic ambiance of the synthesizer at the beginning just draws you in, before the other instruments start making their entrance and giving the song more form. The song retains its initial trance-y vibe throughout, but it's still something you can tap your toes to. "Time's gone inside out", Britt Daniels sings during the opening of the song. The fresh but mysterious sound of the song certainly fits with those lyrics!

"The River" by Son Little: And you thought Gary Clark Jr. was reviving blues-rock for the 2010's?! "The River", the debut song from blues-rocker Son Little (actually a stage name for Aaron Livingston from neo-soul/hip-hop group, The Roots), goes even further back in time!! It sounds like an old blues song with a slightly rock and roll-ish instrumentation that came out some time in the '60s, or perhaps even earlier! Little/Livingston's chorus of "walk me to the river, darling" seems like something that could have easily passed for a Robert Johnson lyric if he was still around today!

"Turn It Up" by Robert Plant: Our last tune of the week is yet another attempting to revive blues-rock. However, this IS Robert Plant of the mighty Led Zeppelin we're talking about here, and he has exposed people to his unique, distinctive brand of blues-rock since the late 1960's! He's no newcomer to the blues, though he has gotten more into folk and country in recent years. "Turn It Up" does exactly what its title implies. It takes the now folk-ified soul of Plant, and transforms it into more of a rock and roll sound. No, it doesn't crank it up to 11 like Zeppelin did, but it does give people craving a blues-y sound from Plant what they want, more or less. Best part of the song?! When Plant pleads, "I'm stuck inside the radio...let me out!!", followed by the stark, hollow sound of a drumbeat for about five seconds, before the song gets back into its basic groove.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New songs for November 19th, 2014

here they are:

"Rollercoaster" by Bleachers: Jack Antonoff from fun.'s side project, Bleachers, exploded onto the alternative and adult alt charts in spring 2014 with an irresistibly catchy, almost bubblegum-y slice of stadium worthy indie-pop with "I Wanna Get Better". Did you expect Bleachers' second big song to sound like an outtake from Bruce Springsteen's "Born In the U.S.A."?! Didn't think so! But that IS basically what you get in "Rollercoaster", which sounds a bit like "Dancing In the Dark" if it was covered by The Killers. As if influence wasn't enough for the classic rock quotient of "Rollercoaster", Jack also brings up a "killer queen" during the chorus, which may or may not be a reference to Queen's "Killer Queen" (there's a good chance it might be, since all of the members of fun. have been said to be huge Queen fans). The "rollercoaster" in this song is not one that is skyrocketing to the future, but plunging backwards into the past!

"Stay Gold" by First Aid Kit: Our only other song of the week is one that provides a relaxing low to contrast with the high energy '80s style rock and roll of the previous song. In fact, if the Swedish all female duo First Aid Kit ever did a song with a higher energy sound, that would be quite a shock! First Aid Kit are known for being soothing, melodious, and folks-y, and the pattern continues with their latest song, "Stay Gold". Johanna and Klara yearningly croon about what might happen if their "hard work ends in despair" and "the road won't take (them) there", and wonder why they can't just "stay gold", which probably means something roughly along the lines of "Why can't life always be fair?" The words "no gold can stay" are repeated twice before the first chorus comes into the song, which makes me think that First Aid Kit are probably S.E. Hinton fans, as "nothing gold can stay" is a famous quote from her book (and one of my personal faves), "The Outsiders".

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New songs for November 12th, 2014

here they are:

"Beggin' For Thread" by Banks: This song is basically what it would be like if a Florence and The Machine song were used in some sort of crime drama. Catchy, somewhat quirky indie-pop, but with a rather murky, mysterious undertone. In spite of the plural noun moniker Banks has, she is but one girl, not multiple people. This is the type of the song that just begs to get under your skin at some point, with subtly scathing lyrics comparable to the typical Fiona Apple song. One more thing I should mention, Banks hails from L.A., my hometown!

"Kansas City" by New Basement Tapes: Not to be confused with the '50s song, "Kansas City", though before I actually heard this song, I thought it might have been, since none other than Bob Dylan is a part of the new folk-rock supergroup known as New Basement Tapes! Dylan is the only oldster in the band, though, the rest of which consists of some of his many heirs to the throne, such as Mumford and Sons' Marcus Mumford (who takes the lead on this particular track), My Morning Jacket's Jim James, and Dawes' Taylor Goldsmith. "Kansas City" itself isn't exactly Mumford-esque, though, and takes more after the roots-y folk-rock fuzz of My Morning Jacket and Dawes. All four of the guys in the band have a rather rustic sound to their music, so it makes sense that "Kansas City" is one of those "driving back home from the freeway" kind of songs.

"Stay With Me" by Ryan Adams: Ryan Adams has done what I never thought he would do for both of the songs I've heard so far from his latest album. He has gone totally '80s!! I'm more accustomed to hearing Ryan with a late '60s/early '70s folk-rock influenced sound, but it is nonetheless interesting to see who he has chosen to influence him on his latest album. On the summer adult alt smash, "Gimme Something Good", he emulated Tom Petty. For "Stay With Me", his sound is even closer to mainstream rock, with a sound that matches the kings of rock 'n' roll themselves, The Rolling Stones (though "Stay With Me" specifically recalls the way The Stones sounded in the '80s). Brace yourselves, people, someday soon your local classic rock station is gonna grab this song and play it by mistake!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

New songs for November 5th, 2014

here they are:

"I Bet My Life" by Imagine Dragons: Seems like only yesterday Imagine Dragons debuted with their first hit, "It's Time" (which actually happened three Februaries ago). Since that time, they went on to score five hits total from their debut album, which is quite a feat in this day and age, and perhaps even more of one for a band who had hits with that many songs from their debut! Their fresh blend of pop, folk, dance, and rock won the hearts of millions in 2012 and well into 2013 as well. So what are their plans for 2014?! Well, now ID fans can get their first taste of their new sound (which isn't all that different from their old sound, really) with "I Bet My Life", which once again showcases their seamlessly catchy mix of folk, rock, and dance. Its chorus, which sounds slightly like a sped up, arena ready version of "Kumbaya", is perhaps the most memorable part of the song.

"Make You Better" by The Decemberists: The Decemberists have already garnered plenty of comparisons to R.E.M., and R.E.M.'s Peter Buck has even guest starred on two of The Decemberists' songs! "Make You Better" seems more like a tribute to two of Michael Stipe's heroines - Patti Smith and Natalie Merchant. Perhaps the members of The Decemberists wanted to know who their heroes' influences were, and that might have been how "Make You Better" came about. The lyrics of the song read like the quietly brooding poetry that Smith and Merchant became known for, with lines like "I loved you in springtime, I lost you when summer came", and "But we're not so starry-eyed anymore, like the perfect paramour you were in your letters". Could a "Because the Night" cover from The Decemberists be next on their list?!