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.