Sunday, December 20, 2015

Top 20 Songs of 2015!!

Here they are! The moment you've all been waiting for!! Counting 'em down from 20 to 1!!

20. "Big Decisions" by My Morning Jacket
19. "Make You Better" by The Decemberists
18. "Believe" by Mumford and Sons
17. "Fool For Love" by Lord Huron
16. "Someone New" by Hozier
15. "I Bet My Life" by Imagine Dragons
14. "Bad Blood" by Ryan Adams
13. "Fire And the Flood" by Vance Joy
12. "Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart" by Chris Cornell
11. "Things Happen" by Dawes
10. "Black Sun" by Death Cab for Cutie
9. "My Type" by Saint Motel
8. "What Kind of Man" by Florence and The Machine
7. "S.O.B." by Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats
6. "Outta My Mind" by The Arcs
5. "Lampshades on Fire" by Modest Mouse
4. "Crystals" by Of Monsters and Men
3. "Don't Wanna Fight" by Alabama Shakes
2. "Ship to Wreck" by Florence and The Machine

annnnnddd....the number 1 song of 2015 isss....


Happy Holidays and Happy New Year too!! I'll be back next year!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

New songs for December 9th 2015

here they are:

"Alone On Christmas Day" by Phoenix (featuring Bill Murray): Yes, THAT Bill Murray. The one from films like "Scrooged" and "What About Bob?" The reason being is that this song is a part of his "A Very Murray Christmas" special, in which the veteran comedian hobnobs with recent stars like "SNL"'s Amy Poehler, Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis, pop sensation Miley Cyrus, and all four members of the French indie-pop band Phoenix. When it comes to Bill's interaction during the special with Phoenix, he asks the quartet to "play something that nobody knows", which they do! (Unless you happen to be a hardcore Beach Boys fan - even I didn't know that this was originally one of their songs until recently). "Alone On Christmas Day", as its title implies, is a rather melancholy song, which is rather unusual for the typically energetic, hyped up music that Phoenix has become known for. It's probably one of the most heartwarming things you'll ever hear from Bill Murray OR Phoenix, and it's endearingly odd enough that I'd venture to call it the 21st century equivalent to the Bing Crosby and David Bowie Christmas duet from '77!

"Sound And Color" by Alabama Shakes: What?! ANOTHER Alabama Shakes song?!? But I just reviewed them the LAST time I did this blog! I guess their latest album is just THAT good! Like a lot of the songs from "Sound and Color" (the album, not the song), this song could be considered "funk from outer space", but its title track differs from the other four songs that have become singles from the album in that it doesn't feature that much guitar. Instead, it features more xylophone (at least I THINK that's what they're using - it's hard to tell), synthesizer, and string orchestras. It's a slow jam, but its sound is more the sophisticated jazzy neo-soul of Erykah Badu than it is the raw, earthy soul of Pickett, Redding, James Brown, etc. Its hypnotic, trance induced sound could also be compared to groups like TV on the Radio.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Bluesy Rockin' Ladies Blog!!

What do all three of the entries for this week's blog have in common? All of 'em are performed by women who know how to sing and play the blues! So here goes:

"Anyhow" by The Tedeschi-Trucks Band: Ever since Susan Tedeschi and her equally blues-y husband Derek Trucks joined forces together 5 years ago, the two of them have taken the blues in many different directions, including country, rock, and R & B. Their latest song, "Anyhow", seems to boast a musical gumbo all its own, in which soothing lounge-style piano sounds and sultry sax sounds compete against the trademark blues-y guitar sound of the TTB. Tedeschi has gotten many comparisons to people like Bonnie Raitt, but this song might just be the most Bonnie-esque she has ever sounded, at least as far as her choice in musical style is concerned here! It is also one of the longest TTB songs, at 6 and a half minutes long!

"Call Off Your Dogs" by Lake Street Dive: In which Rachael Price and the rest of Lake Street Dive progress from mid-'60s soul to mid-'70s funk. Seems to be a rite of passage for a lot of today's progressive R & B influenced musicians (Alabama Shakes, for instance, who are coming up next) to make such a leap in their music. Those who prefer the more earthy, raw sound of Lake Street Dive's first three adult alt radio hits might be a bit disappointed here, as "Call Off Your Dogs" does sound a bit "cleaner" than those songs do. Underneath the song's disco influenced sound, though, there are still plenty of audibly funky guitar hooks that probably wouldn't sound as good in the context of a typical disco song. Perhaps this will be for Lake Street Dive what "Love Machine" was for Smokey Robinson, a song that sounds a bit more polished up than most of their material, but which will (hopefully) still be well loved among fans of the band.

"Shoegaze" by Alabama Shakes: It doesn't get more powerfully blues-rockin' than Alabama Shakes! "Shoegaze" sounds like The Rolling Stones, Lou Reed, and Prince combined into one band, in all its earthy, psychedelically soulful glory! It comes off as both an acerbic auditory assault and a hypnotic swirling trance at the same time. "Can't wait for night to come/That's when the fun really begins", Brittany Howard sings in the opening verse of the song. Music THIS freaky (and I mean that as a compliment) can ONLY come out at night!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New songs for November 18th 2015

here they are:

"Carter And Cash" by Tor Miller: Between the Jeff Buckley/Tom Waits influence of Tor's previous hit song, "Midnight", and the name checking of two country-rock icons in "Carter And Cash", I would have expected the latter song to have a more roots-y Americana flavor, but it doesn't. Instead, "Carter And Cash" sounds more like a danceable indie-pop song in the vein of Grouplove or Walk the Moon. Perhaps if this song became a single before "Midnight" did, Tor Miller would be a much better known musician, but that's the way the cookie crumbles, I guess. Breaking away from the romanticized bohemian view of city life that "Midnight" had, "Carter And Cash" is just a simple love song in terms of its lyrical content, nothing more. Any love song that name checks Johnny Cash has gotta be worth listening to, though!

"Jackie And Wilson" by Hozier: Back when all I knew from Hozier was "Take Me to Church", a lot of people were telling me "the whole album is good". Well it just so happens that "Jackie And Wilson" is the FIFTH hit song from Hozier's debut album, so the people who listened to that album must have been right, because there aren't many albums from the 2010's with that many songs that have become popular! This particular song's title is a pun on soul music legend Jackie Wilson, probably one of many classic soul musicians who influenced the unique neo-soul stylings of Hozier. "Jackie And Wilson" is a bit grittier and blues-ier than Hozier's previous hits, and its pun based title is mentioned in the chorus when Hozier suggests that his wife name his kids Jackie and Wilson and "raise them on rhythm and blues", so perhaps that's part of why the song has such an earthy '60s soul influenced sound. It's a bit surprising that a man whose musical gumbo is equal parts soul, jazz, blues, rock, and gospel has become so popular, but what a relief it is knowing that people like him can actually succeed in a world full of plastic auto-tuned pop musicians!

"Look It Here" by Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats: During the late summer and early fall of this year, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats went from being under-the-radar musicians who played at the "Gentlemen of the Road" music festivals to alt-rock and adult alt radio sensations with the catchy, sass-mouthed "S.O.B."!! Where that song sounded like it could have been from the '50s or further back, "Look It Here" clearly recalls '60s soul, particularly Memphis soul musicians like Otis Redding and Booker T and The MG's. Will this song make as big a splash as "S.O.B." did?! Probably not, but Rateliff's spicy brand of blue-eyed soul is just as potent here as it was in that song. "Look it here, baby, I'm comin' home", Rateliff sings during the song's chorus. You'd better believe he's comin' home, too, and he's gonna make your sensual urges run wild with fire!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

New songs for November 11th, 2015

here they are:

"Ditmas" by Mumford and Sons: After the faux-Coldplay sound of "Believe" and the surprisingly rockin' sound of "The Wolf", I now have at least a glimmer of hope that Mumford and Sons haven't QUITE lost their signature sound with their third single of the year, "Ditmas". Essentially, "Ditmas" is a folk-rock tune using electric instruments. Think Kings of Leon trying to do a Decemberists song and you have the blueprint for "Ditmas"' sound. As per usual with Mumford and Sons, lovelorn yet soul searching lyrics dominate "Ditmas"' theme. Perhaps not everyone liked M & S' constant use of banjo for their first two albums, but I did, and I kinda hope they go back to it for their next album if they decide to do one.

"Gone" by Jr. Jr. (formerly known as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.): Although Dale Earnhardt Jr. has no problem with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.'s music, I guess someone closely associated with the single-juniored Dale Earnhardt decided that they didn't like the idea of a double-juniored Dale Earnhardt, so now they are simply known by the more redundant and mysterious moniker, "Jr. Jr." Now that I've gotten that out of the way, "Gone" recalls the punctuated whistling and neo-folk-rock sound of their first big song, "Simple Girl", while incorporating the use of the more electronic instruments that their other songs tend to use. "Gone" is also a bit more bittersweet than most of their material, containing a deeper message as well ("I can't be everything you want me to be"). Jr. Jr. may have lost having a reason for their name, but in the process they have gained more emotional depth. Even if their name one day dwindles down simply to the letter "J", I'll still be looking forward to what they have in store!

"Magnets" by Disclosure (featuring Lorde): Lorde has always had a bit of a mysterious, nocturnal aura about her, but the New Zealand adolescent really makes her inner moonlight shine with her latest tune, "Magnets". The combination of minor key melodies and pulsating dance beats make the song dark yet alluring, as is the song's chorus of "let's embrace the point of no return". The song seems to be about a love affair gone wrong and its vengeful aftermath. Perhaps it is time now to add Lorde to the ever expanding list of young women that Stevie Nicks has influenced with the vengeful romance themes that dominated Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours".

"Pretty Pimpin'" by Kurt Vile: Can a song be angst-ridden and silly at the same time?! Well, in Kurt Vile's "Pretty Pimpin'", that seems to be just what is happening! The song's theme seems to be about waking up in the morning and not recognizing who you are, as demonstrated by lyrics like "Didn't recognize the man in the mirror, then I laughed and said, 'Oh silly me, it's just me'", and yet again when he refers to himself as "that stupid clown in the bathroom sink" and asks who that "clown" is. Yes, the overall sound of this song is rather brooding, but the song's self-deprecation really wins me over!

"Roots" by Imagine Dragons: There are many Imagine Dragons songs I can name with a synthesizer sound, but "Roots" might just be the first one in which the keyboard sounds a bit more "organic", although the rhythm section in the song sounds more synthetic than usual. All three of the songs from Imagine Dragons' latest album that have become singles (this one, "I Bet My Life", and "Shots") have rather dark themes, but this is one in which the sound actually fits the theme since "Roots" is written in minor key, unlike its predecessors. The lyric in the song that defines it the most is probably "had to lose my way to know which road to take". However, there are some high points about the song, too. First of all, "Roots" is pretty catchy. Second of all, it seems as though quite a few people (myself included) first heard this song in the premiere episode of the new "Muppets" series, so it's not as though Imagine Dragons are lacking in their sense of humor!

"10,000 Emerald Pools" by Borns: Wow, that's a lot of emerald pools! Don't think I've ever seen that many, and I don't know anyone who has, either! Borns had a ridiculously catchy summer hit this year with "Electric Love", and I can see why "10,000 Emerald Pools" is currently following in its footsteps. One thing that draws me immediately into "10,000 Emerald Pools" is the rhythm of the bassline, which has a suspiciously similar sound here to songs like "Gimme Some Lovin'" and "25 Or 6 to 4", both of which can be said to be "jazz-rock" songs (Is that what Borns were trying to do here?!) Apart from the bass, the rhythm of the song seems to be almost reggae driven, and the guitars here seem to transition between background noise, electric, and acoustic. Dive into a swirling neo-psychedelic whirpool of electronic sound with "10,000 Emerald Pools"! Try not to count all the pools, though, you'll be sorely disappointed.

"When, When" by Civil Twilight: "When, When"?! Why, "Now, Now", of course! What better time, time than now, now?! Well, actually, it seems as though Civil Twilight wanted to travel back in time to 1986 here to make an update of Paul Simon's "Graceland" for the indie-pop generation. As interesting and mysterious as the title of "When, When" sounds, it is actually just a question the lead singer asks the object of his affection as to when he's going to see her again. OK, so the theme of this song doesn't even measure up half as much to the deep, soulful themes of the "Graceland" tunes, but it's still pretty neat hearing "Graceland" influenced percussion in this song.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New songs for November 4th 2015

here they are:

"Bros" by Wolf Alice: The name "Alice" is in the band's name and their lead singer happens to be female, yet the title of their first big song is the decidedly male-sounding "Bros". Icy yet melodic sounding songs done by women are nothing new (last year around this time, Banks' "Begging For Thread" was a good example of this), but given how the aforementioned combination doesn't come around that often, it's always good to hear songs like this one when they come out. Take the main riff of Silversun Pickups' "Lazy Eye" (which itself is basically a slight variation on the riff of Smashing Pumpkins' "1979"), add in shimmering guitar riffs and distortion vaguely similar to The Cure, and detached vocals a la Shirley Manson in Garbage's "Stupid Girl", and you've basically got "Bros" in a nutshell. Nowhere is the term "bros" (or even "brothers") mentioned in the song. More than likely, it gets its title from how the song is an ode to childhood memories and having friends you were attached to like siblings (hence, "bros").

"Mess Around" by Cage the Elephant: "Mess around" is one thing this song doesn't do! It gets straight to the point, and how! This song stands as a stark contrast to the breezy "Sgt. Pepper"-esque psychedelia of the songs from CTE's previous album, "Melophobia", and gets back to the garage rock-y roots the band had back when they debuted in 2009. The combination of garage rock and surf music influences in this song may remind some of The Black Keys. The simple lyrics, catchy hook, and short length of "Mess Around" are all essential to the garage rock vibe the song has to offer. The next time you feel like dancin' in front of the mirror when no one else is around, put this song on. You won't be sorry!

"The Song" by Trey Anastasio: What's the name of that song?! Just "The Song", you say?! Interesting name! With Trey Anastasio, whether he's by himself or performing with his band, Phish, you never know if you're gonna get a roots-y folk-rock ballad or a guitar noodlin' jam session. "The Song" is the former of the two categories, albeit with a brief, decent guitar solo towards the end. Along with the obvious Grateful Dead influence that dominates Trey's work musically, the lyrics to "The Song" are rather philosophical and Dead-like as well, with the ending of the chorus stating, "in the end, all that's left is the song". Groovy, man, groovy! I can dig it!

"Way Down We Go" by Kaleo: Kaleo's first big song, "All the Pretty Girls", sounded an awful lot like Vance Joy. "Way Down We Go", which looks like it'll be Kaleo's second big song, sounds a lot like Hozier, from the minor key pseudo-gospel instrumentation to the deep soulful vocals. I guess this means Kaleo are out to imitate every major indie-pop act of the 2010's! The electric guitar solo in the middle of "Way Down We Go" definitely differentiates it from Hozier's material, though. The lamenting lyrics, "we get what we deserve", also sound rather Hozier-esque. Good song, but hopefully Kaleo's third big song will sound more original than their other material has.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

New songs for October 28th, 2015

here they are:

"Gibraltar" by Beirut: Beirut Folds Five?! Kinda sounds like that's the route that Beirut are taking with their latest song, "Gibraltar", albeit with added influence from both lounge music and African drumming as well. Beirut's musical selection is as enigmatic as the origin of their name (which I still have yet to find out, amazingly). It's nice to hear Beirut depart from the synthesizer sound they went for on their other two adult alt radio hits ("Santa Fe" and "No No No") and put in an unplugged keyboard sound in its place in "Gibraltar". On the downside, though, "Gibraltar" is also missing the trademark muted horns that Beirut have used on both radio faves and fan faves among their material. No matter, though, as Beirut continue to amaze me with each new musical adventure they attempt!

"Han Solo" by Bob Schneider: Between this song title and the title of Bob's song "Captain Kirk", I'm kinda convinced that Bob Schneider has a nerdy side that he doesn't often reveal in his other songs and performances. Apparently the title of the song is used as a term of affection for either a close friend or girlfriend that he wants to ensure protection for. This song ranks among the more reflective, slightly bittersweet songs in Bob's catalog and has a somewhat Snow Patrol-ish sound like "40 Dogs (Like Romeo And Juliet)" and "Swimming In the Sea" did. Though I have no problem with the happier sounding Bob Schneider tunes (like "Let the Light In" and "The Stars Over Your House"), I kinda think Bob is at his best when he does more wistful sounding songs like "Han Solo".

"Never Come Back Again" by Austin Plaine: The title of this song might sound like the name of an angry breakup tune, but it's actually anything but. "Never Come Back Again" by folk/alt-country newcomer, Austin Plaine, is actually a song about having adventure out in nature that's so exciting that you want to "feel what it's like to never come back again". The song is one of those songs that fits perfectly with the end of a long trip home on the freeway at sunset, and such imagery fits perfectly with the haunting yet blissful "let's get lost" lyrics of the song. One listen to this song, and you really will want to "never come back again"!

"Record High, Record Low" by Givers: Givers were an energetic indie-pop sextet who debuted in summer 2011 and made all of 2011 (and some of early 2012) feel like summer all year long with relentlessly happy songs like "Up Up Up", "Saw You First", and "Ceiling of Plankton". Givers' summery vibe continues to glow and radiate with their latest song, "Record High, Record Low", which differs from their other three hit songs in that it gives backing vocalist Tiffany Lamson a time to shine in the limelight by taking on the lead vocals of the song instead of the background (I guess there's a good reason they're called "Givers" after all!) The title's deliberate use of opposites next to each other has been thought by some to be an allusion to the famous Charles Dickens quote, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times". I'm pretty sure Dickens didn't want his audience to feel like they were at a dance party on the beach, though, which Givers clearly do here!

"Talk to Me" by Kopecky: The main riff of Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon" filtered through a Blondie-ish musical lens doesn't seem like it would gel together too well, but that's pretty much what Kopecky does here with their latest song, "Talk to Me". Fleetwood Mac seems to have influenced Kopecky here lyrically as well as musically, as the song seems to be about a relationship on the brink like many of the songs on "Rumours" were. Between this song and the surprisingly rockin' "Quarterback" from spring of this year, I feel as if Kopecky want to up their rock 'n' roll quotient on their latest album. Perhaps another single or two from that album will answer my question either later this year or sometime next year.

"The Joke Explained" by Wilco: Wilco have attempted to emulate Bob Dylan's musical style many times, but "The Joke Explained" is probably their finest moment so far in terms of emulating Dylan's lyrical style. The lyrics of the song are rather mysterious and oblique, but it almost seems as though they're meant to be that way. Lyrics like "I sweat tears but don't ever cry" and "I laugh at a joke explained" seem like they were taken straight from the Dylan handbook! Musically, "The Joke Explained" kinda sounds like something from Bob's catalog as well, but with equal parts Lou Reed and Neil Young thrown in for good measure.

"The World Ender" by Lord Huron: Think Lord Huron are just some dreamy sounding indie-folk band?! Well "The World Ender" will probably get you to rethink your stance on their music, if that's the case! The sound of the song is somewhat ethereal, like most of LH's material, but it's also the closest the band have gotten to rock 'n' roll so far, with its sound and delivery somewhat reminiscent of both Elvis and Johnny Cash. The lyrical imagery of "The World Ender" isn't exactly dreamy either (although what would you expect with a title like "The World Ender"?!) Lead vocalist Ben Schneider claims in the chorus that he's "the world ender" and that he's "back from the dead". How apt for Halloween! Speaking of which, a LOT of the titles on LH's latest album seem to have Halloween related themes, like "Love Like Ghosts", "Dead Man's Hand", and "Cursed". Looks like I'll have quite a bit of LH music on my Halloween playlist this year!! Muahahahaahhaahahaha!!

"Unsteady" by X Ambassadors: X Ambassadors are responsible for one of this summer's greatest earworms!! Even saying "Hey hey hey, livin' like we're renegades" without singing it will probably cause the song to weasel its way into your head somehow. This gives X Ambassadors' second big song, "Unsteady", a marked contrast to "Renegades". Not that "Unsteady" isn't catchy, but it is a much more sensitive and heartfelt song in comparison to the more carefree vibe of "Renegades". There seems to be a little bit of millennially styled soft rock cheese in "Unsteady" (The Fray, anyone?), but that doesn't detract completely from the message X Ambassadors are trying to convey on "Unsteady", which is an apt adjective to describe Sam Harris' quavering, achy vocals on this song! Perhaps if the production on this song weren't so polished up I'd like this song better, but it certainly isn't a bad one.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

New songs for October 21st 2015

here they are:

"Guesthouse" by The David Wax Museum: The David Wax Museum is one of the only bands I've ever known to combine folk, rock, and world music, and perhaps THE only band to combine all those that originated in the 2010's. In late 2012, they took adult alt radio by storm with the exotic sounding but relentlessly chipper "Harder Before It Gets Easier". Their latest song, "Guesthouse", also combines rock, folk, and world music, though it seems like they've been influenced by circus music here as well. The swirly, psychedelic organ of the song sounds kind of like the sort of organ you'd be likely to hear on a merry-go-round. The "guest" part of the title comes from how David Wax has apparently felt like a "guest" within the Mexican music community he has both studied about and performed with.

"Smooth Sailin'" by Leon Bridges: Leon's passionate, soul infused ballad, "Coming Home", arrived in February of this year, and it couldn't have arrived at a better time! The more energetic vibe of Leon's latest tune, "Smooth Sailin'", seems more fit for summer than fall, but fans of '60s soul music will probably enjoy the Otis Redding-ish sound of "Smooth Sailin'" just as much as the Sam Cooke-ish sound of "Coming Home". Smooth sailin', fast toe-tappin'!

"The Life You Chose" by Jason Isbell: Jason Isbell probably surprised many a listener of adult alt radio in spring of this year with the adult alt radio mega-hit, "24 Frames". Isbell has made music for quite a while now, but none of his songs have gotten as much attention as "24 Frames". The secret formula for that song's success is actually similar to what makes "The Life You Chose" an interesting song to listen to. Both songs are bittersweet country/folk-rock tunes concerning the struggle between the way life is for Jason and the way life used to be for him. "The Life You Chose" is a mostly major key song, though, unlike "24 Frames", which alternates between major and minor key. "The Life You Chose" is probably also more wistful than melancholy, but listeners are still likely to experience heartache when listening to the song.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

New songs for September 30th, 2015

here they are:

"First" by Cold War Kids: As per usual with Cold War Kids' material, the combination of graceful piano and more mysterious sounding electronic instruments are paired with rather bitter, angst-ridden lyrics. "First you get hurt, then you feel sorry" are the opening words to the chorus of CWK's latest song, "First". A rather sad way of looking at life and the events that go on in it, but an honest one nonetheless. Nathan Willett's distinctive, quavering vocals set "First" into gear as he tells yet another tale of woe in his ongoing musical saga.

"Why Would I Now?" by The Decemberists: Last fall's "What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World" may end up being the only Decemberists album to just have two hits on it ("Make You Better" and "The Wrong Year"), and that's mainly because The Decemberists have ALREADY released a new mini-album called "Florasongs", the first single of which is "Why Would I Now?" "Why Would I Now?" sounds a little like Tracy Chapman's "Talkin' Bout A Revolution" if it were backed by electric guitars and a string section. The song is a song of reassurance, with Colin Meloy addressing the subject of the song by telling them there's no reason not to trust his intentions.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New songs for September 23rd, 2015

here they are:

"A Little Smile" by Joe Jackson: "A little smile" is just what you're gonna get if you're a fan of this eclectic, Elvis Costello-esque musician who is best known for the new wave era classic, "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" Unlike Elvis Costello, who has consistently released songs and albums throughout his career, Joe Jackson tends to be a bit more selective about when he'll release something new. The last I heard from him was the brilliant piano-pop piece, "Invisible Man", which came out in 2008. I don't know what Joe has been doing during the 7 years since that song was released, but whatever it was must have paid off, because "A Little Smile" was certainly worth the wait! The song comes off a little bit like what a Bruce Hornsby cover of a Ben Folds song might sound like, though I can't help but be won over by the wistfulness and charm of the song. Also, I LOVE the bridge parts of the song. They sound so preciously bittersweet!

"Bad Blood" by Ryan Adams: Ryan Adams covering Taylor Swift?! (An entire ALBUM of her material, at that.) For a man who hated his name being mistaken for '80s pop-rock musician Bryan Adams, this sure does come as a surprise!! Well, to quote a popular Taylor Swift song, "the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate" on Ryan Adams, but luckily he still has the support of people like me who allow him creative freedom, even if that means doing versions of songs by musicians whom I haven't become a fan of. Here, Ryan turns Swift's techno-pop-y Christina Aguilera-ish song "Bad Blood" into something that sounds like it would be more at home on Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" album than it would on the current Top 40 charts. Ryan's goal here seems to be turning popular media into something more akin to pop art, almost like what Andy Warhol famously did to Campbell's soup cans many years ago, and he does a surprisingly good job at it, too! The lyrics of what I previously viewed as an ordinary song suddenly become more personal and emotional. This is truly an example of musical poetry at its finest!

"Lover Come Back" by City and Colour: Dallas "City and Colour" Green started off as a folk musician and then turned up his rock 'n' roll quotient on the two albums that followed his debut. In his latest song, "Lover Come Back", he comes full circle and makes those two worlds collide. It is a pleasantly folk-y song with rock 'n' roll instruments being used in the background. Perhaps collaborating with pop sensation Pink (a.k.a. "P!nk", whatever that's supposed to mean) in folk-rock duo You + Me made Dallas want to return to folk music. Whatever the case, "Lover Come Back" is a lovely, bittersweet song, and it's one that I've waited for him to do since back when he debuted in 2009! Some may think that Dallas is letting his sappy side come out here, but I think he's just being sentimental, and I also think there's absolutely nothing wrong with being sentimental.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

new songs for September 16th, 2015

here they are:

"All Your Favorite Bands" by Dawes: If by "all your favorite bands", you mean Jackson Browne and The Beatles, then I guess you're right, as this song kinda sounds like a cross between the former's "Rock Me On the Water" and the latter's "Let It Be". Like "Let It Be", "All Your Favorite Bands" is a rather bittersweet song. The title of the song (and the album for which it is named) comes from the line "may all your favorite bands stay together". Well, seeing as Dawes have now been around for about 6 years without any known splitting apart of the members, perhaps they're one of their own favorite bands! The song is basically a sad but hopeful love song, with Taylor Goldsmith pleading, "I hope the world sees the same person that you always were to me" to his lover.

"Mountain At My Gates" by Foals: One of the more experimental bands in indie-rock, Foals might have just finally scored a slightly more mainstream hit with "Mountain At My Gates", which combines the adventurous sounds of Tame Impala and "Kid A" era Radiohead with the sound of more accessible bands like Imagine Dragons. The bright, spirited piano in the background of the song keeps it chugging along, and as its instruments gradually build into a crescendo, it seems to transition from indie-rock to arena rock within the blink of an eye! What a trippy mountain there must be at those gates, eh?!

"Walk the Wire" by Boy and Bear: Wait a minute, who let Ric Ocasek join Boy and Bear?! I don't even...well a lot of bands have been trying to change their sound lately, but I would NOT have expected the quaint and folk-y Boy and Bear to turn into an arena ready new wave revival band!! Therefore, "Walk the Wire" is quite a fitting name for this song! Boy and Bear will probably lose some fans along the way. However, fans of The Cars will probably be clamoring over to "Walk the Wire", which even features a brief Elliot Easton-esque guitar solo! Brandon Flowers and co, take note. THIS might be what you want your next album to sound like!

"Yellow Eyes" by Rayland Baxter: At last, a newcomer on this week's blog! Rayland Baxter's autumnal, pleasant folk-rock sound seems to have arrived just in time for the fall season! The sound of Rayland's debut song, "Yellow Eyes", recalls some of the older Ryan Adams and Wilco songs from before they started adding a crunchier electric guitar sound to their songs. The song's lyrics seem to be delivered in a rather soul-searching manner, but they're actually about a man who has a bad habit of leaving his girlfriends without a significant other. What a great title, too. I'm sure we've all heard songs about people with blue eyes, brown eyes, and maybe even green eyes, but not yellow eyes. Until now, that is.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

New songs for September 9th, 2015

here they are:

"All Across This Land" by Blitzen Trapper: This song, as well as quite a few of the songs from Blitzen Trapper's previous album, "VII", are all songs that could dethrone Drive-by Truckers' status as being the indie-rock answer to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Who knew?! Back when all I knew of Blitzen Trapper was the more folk-rock-y "Black River Killer", I sure wouldn't have! "All Across This Land" does have plenty of chunky, meaty Skynyrd-esque riffs, though. In fact here, they sound like a cross between that and Led Zeppelin. The "road song" vibe of "All Across This Land" also makes it seem a bit like a Lynyrd Skynyrd song. Don't go shouting "Freebird!" at a Blitzen Trapper concert, though, they'll probably hate you for it!

"Made to Break Your Heart" by Los Lobos: They've blended folk, rock, country, and world music ever since the 1980's! With a group like Los Lobos, you never know what you're gonna get! Their latest song, "Made to Break Your Heart", is a breezy, summery song. Well, up until that hazy guitar solo in the middle of the song, that is. Like the last song I mentioned in this week's review, "Made to Break Your Heart" could also be considered a "road song", albeit in a different manner. Instead of being a fast, rockin' road song, "Made to Break Your Heart" is more like the sort of song you'd listen to with a light breeze, the top down, and the windows rolled up at dusk. The song has similar chords and rhythm to Dire Straits' "Water of Love", while its riffs are more Santana than they are Mark Knopfler.

"Make You Mine" by Family of the Year: FOTY have done it again! Their fall 2012 folk-rock smash hit, "Hero", won the hearts of millions back when it came out. The more upbeat, alt-pop-y "Make You Mine" is in the process of making just as many waves, and the reason for that is...Turner Classic Movies?! Well, apparently, a lot of the YouTube comments I've seen for this are about how the song was used in a TCM promo. Who'da thunk?! I sure wouldn't have! Whatever works, though! Probably would have used it to advertise an NBC or CBS sitcom, myself, as it seems to be bubbly and cheery enough to work in such a situation.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

New songs for August 26th 2015

here they are:

"Do You Remember?" by Jarryd James: Upon listening to this song, I can't help but feel that its sound is a little like Gotye, only creepier! In a good way, though, I promise you. There is a bit of a stalker-y vibe to this song somehow, but it sinks into your mind as though nothing ever happened! Many people seem to describe this song as a mix between soul and electronica, and that's a pretty accurate description if you ask me! Soul has never been so eerie, and nor has electronica sounded so funky!

"High By the Beach" by Lana Del Rey: Sex and drugs and...ummmm...something kinda like rock 'n' roll but not quite. That's Lana Del Rey for ya! Last year's "West Coast" definitely emphasized the sex element, albeit in a warm, intimate manner. Now Lana takes on the second subject of the unholy trinity, drugs. She repeatedly states in the chorus that "all (she) want(s) to do is get high by the beach". With the song's breezy, beach-like vibe combined with its "I don't feel like doing much of anything" attitude, you really believe that that's all she wants to do when you listen to the song! Though her music doesn't really scream out "rock and roll" (Joni Mitchell's "Raised On Robbery" sounds like Zeppelin in comparison to LDR's music), Lana seems to often romanticize the R 'N' R lifestyle, whether it's mentioning "rock and roll groupies" in her lyrics, or even her infamous "wish to be dead" inspired by Kurt Cobain (which made both Kurt's daughter Frances and fellow grungette Kim Gordon rather irate). Perhaps Lana should go back to playing "video games", like she sang about in her debut song.

"Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart" by Chris Cornell: Speaking of grunge alumni, we also have a new song from Soundgarden's Chris Cornell! It might surprise you to know that the man whose most famous song was called "Black Hole Sun" is a bit of a folkie, but he is, and he's pretty good at being one, too! He even managed to make Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" into a long, drawn-out drama with music comparable to Dylan and Cash. Some might view "Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart" as a way to one-up Eddie Vedder's somber, ukulele driven folk songs from the "Into the Wild" soundtrack, but Chris's brand of folk-rock is purely his own here! "Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart" is reflective, and almost spiritual in a way. Soundgarden fans needn't be disappointed, though, for the song does feature a brief electric guitar solo.

"Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go to the Party" by Courtney Barnett: And the winner for longest song title of the week, at ten words long, goes to Courtney Barnett!! The title of this song is gonna be a mouthful for radio DJ's to announce, wow! Luckily, Courtney's aim is not at radio DJ's. Well, not the mainstream ones, anyway. Courtney's latest album has catapulted her status from the singer/songwriter of slacker hit, "Avant Gardener", to someone with a bit more eclectic taste. She has emulated quite a few legendary rock 'n' roll women on her latest album, from Courtney Love ("Pedestrian At Best") to Chrissie Hynde ("Dead Fox") to Patti Smith (this song, which has a similar feel to Patti's version of the garage rock classic, "Gloria", albeit without as much intensity). Like "Gloria", "Nobody Really Cares..." is pretty much the E, D, and A chords used repeatedly throughout the song, but it works here. Echoing the rock 'n' roll dilemma of "Should I Stay Or Should I Go?", the chorus of "Nobody Really Cares..." is "I wanna go out but I wanna stay home". Rock on, brown-haired woman!

"Year Zero" by Moon Taxi: This isn't the first song Moon Taxi have done, but it does look like the one that's gonna make them known to a wider audience! "Year Zero" is all about embracing the feeling of being apart from people and seeing where it will lead you. With its determined, fearless sound, I'm not surprised the song is about that. Makes for a great opening track to their latest album, too. I guess Moon Taxi are ready to face the final frontier!! (Or, to use another famous movie quote, to go "to infinity...and beyond!")

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

New songs for August 19th, 2015

here they are:

"Empty Heart" by Grace Potter: Grace has dabbled in folk and in rock, but "Empty Heart" is probably the first song she's done that's a little of both. Its sound comes off like what it would be like if Gin Wigmore did a song that sounded like a cross between John Lennon's "Give Peace A Chance" and The Lumineers' "Ho Hey", with a vaguely hip-hop influenced beat to keep the time. Like John Lennon, Grace Potter lets the piano play a central role in "Empty Heart", particularly during the chorus, where the song's key of C major briefly turns into a blues-y, jazzy C7. "Why don't you let me fill up your empty heart?" Grace pleads during the chorus. Grace, you've already filled it up with your free-spirited, spunky approach to music!

"Fire And the Flood" by Vance Joy: Though folks like Phillip Phillips, The Lumineers, and Of Monsters & Men were already riding high on the coattails of what New Zealand folk-rocker Vance Joy did about a year later than they did, I still can't help but feel like Vance Joy has a sound all his own nonetheless. "Fire And the Flood" does seem kinda Phillip Phillips-esque, though, with its bright brass bursting through its otherwise reserved and melancholy sound. Perhaps what appeals to me the most about Vance's latest song, "Fire And the Flood", is how it manages to sound old and new at the same time! In addition to the 2010's neo-folk-rock sound that "Fire And the Flood" is probably intending to give off, I can also detect a sort of "lo-fi" influence in the song as well that gives the song a late '60s/early '70s, almost Cat Stevens-ish flavor. Also, the "fire and the flood" mentioned in the song's chorus is clearly a girl that Vance has developed affections for. Given how disastrous both fires and floods are, I would venture to say that said girl is also doing him some damage as well. What can I say, that's love for ya!

"Into the Deep" by Galactic (featuring Macy Gray): You probably haven't heard the name Macy Gray since the late '90s, and Galactic is a name that (sadly) doesn't get tossed around much at all, but together, on "Into the Deep", Macy and Galactic combine forces to make a smooth, silky soul powerhouse! Galactic aren't nearly as funky and jazzy as they usually are here, but the old school R & B flavor is still there, it's just slowed down a bit here. "Into the Deep" is a passionate love song, perfect for kiss heavy, love making nights, and it'll sink deep into your soul, too!

"Return to the Moon" by El Vy: Do you recognize the maudlin baritone of the lead singer of El Vy? If you do, that's because those are the vocals of Matt Berninger, lead singer of indie faves, The National. "Return to the Moon" does NOT sound like the National, though, in terms of its instrumental content. It's not often you hear indie-pop that's this funky, but when you do, cherish the moment! It's a rare but noteworthy opportunity! As you would probably suspect, the "moon" is being used as a metaphor here, and it is likely that the metaphor revolves around how Matt had longed to return to his home state of Ohio ("the moon") while he was living in California ("Earth"). I've never heard Matt sound so upbeat ever, but perhaps he should do more songs like this! I can dig it!

"S.O.B." by Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats: The letters "S.O.B." aren't actually mentioned in this song. Therefore, as you might have guessed, the song's title is actually just a radio-friendly way of saying the REAL words of the chorus, "son of a b...." ....better not say that last word!! Anyway, this is a pretty unique song! It almost seems like a fusion of bluegrass music, gospel, and Elvis Presley-style early rock. Never thought anyone would try to combine all those genres together, but it actually sounds really good! This song is full of relentless energy, and is also enough for many people to long for the days of a time that happened before they were even born!

"Say It" by Houndmouth: And here's another retro-style song! This time, the sound that's being emulated is that of Canadian folk-rock group, The Band (and probably many other similar acts, but The Band seem to be the most obvious here). First off, I NEVER would have thought that Houndmouth would become so big with their song "Sedona" from earlier this year, but they did, on both the adult alt AND regular alt charts!! Perhaps part of "Sedona"'s success was the fact that it DID sound a bit more "alternative" than most of Houndmouth's material. "Say It" returns to the basic country-rock formula that Houndmouth became known for among their initial fanbase. "Say It" is definitely the most upbeat song in the Houndmouth catalog so far! It also sounds like the lead singers are having a lot of fun saying "say it like you mean it" over and over again as fast as they can, as though singing a tongue twister along the lines of "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers", or "she sells seashells by the seashore"!

"Steven's Cat" by Widespread Panic: Underneath all their jam-band glory, Widespread Panic have always seemed like a band with a witty sense of humor. The title of their latest song, "Steven's Cat" sounds like a pun on folk-rock musician, Cat Stevens, though the song itself doesn't sound a thing like Cat Stevens. There is a subtle reference to Cat's "Moonshadow" in the lyric, "shadow the moon lighting the wood path". The song doesn't seem to be about anything in particular, but it almost seemed like that's what WP intended here in this invigorating, freewheeling song!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

New songs for August 12th, 2015

here they are:

"Empire" by Of Monsters and Men: "Crystals"? "Empire"?! Any Bronies noticing a pattern here?! Heheheh. Joking aside, though, "Empire" really is a good OMAM song, like most of their material. Much like their previous hit from this year, "Crystals", "Empire" doesn't stray too far from the standard OMAM pattern of gentle, pensive folk-rock combined with somewhat mystical, opaque lyrics. There are some things that set the two songs apart, though. First of all, "Empire" is in C minor (as opposed to the C major key "Crystals" was in), and it also features more male vocals than female vocals, the latter of which were used more on "Crystals". OMAM win once again with their nature oriented imagery ("river running wild", "feel the ocean as it breathes", "see the mountains where they meet", etc.)

"Fake Roses" by The Lone Bellow: As you might expect from a song that contains both "fake" and "roses" in its title, this is a rather melancholy song. It appears to be a song about being able to "see through" a relationship to know how bad it might have been. Quite a turnaround from a band whose last song was a rather confident number called "Take My Love"! Still, though, as the autumn season slowly approaches, "Fake Roses" is a very apt song for the somber season. What better way to shake off a negative relationship than to snuggle up inside surrounded by blankets, warmth, and a drink of hot chocolate? Songs like this certainly get me in the mood for that!

"Keep Going" by The Revivalists: "Keep Going" is exactly what the soulful, jazzy, and aptly named Revivalists are attempting to do here! With their solid, dynamic sound, they are out to convince the world that "Navigate Below" was not going to leave them branded as one hit wonders! The relentlessly happy "chugga-chugga" sound of "Keep Going" is enough to win over fans of the band (as well as fans of similar acts like Alabama Shakes, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, and Gary Clark, Jr.) Revivalists, keep going! Keep on doin' what you're doin'! You're good at it!

"Maggie I've Been Searching For Our Son" by Craig Finn: Classic roots-rock revivalist Craig Finn from The Hold Steady turns down the electric guitars on his latest song, which is a rather plaintive protest song. Finn still has the Springsteen-esque sound he usually has here, though it sounds more like something from The Boss's largely folk-rock-y "Greetings From Asbury Park" than it does the sweeping, epic anthems of "Born to Run". For a man whose band has become an adult alt radio staple within the past couple years, Finn has never focused on acoustic rock songs (surprisingly) until now. The angst and sarcasm typically present in Finn and The Hold Steady's material is replaced here by something of a more pensive, yearning quality. Surprisingly, it actually works here!

"Monkey Tree" by Mother Mother: After three plaintive folk-rock songs (and one soulful, blues-y number), it's refreshing to end this week's blog with a bouncier, quirkier pop song like "Monkey Tree". Even its title is kinda goofy! A song that opens with the lyrics, "I live in the jungle, I sleep in a monkey tree", is bound to make you smile! Well, it did for me, anyway. This song is also one that'll make you wanna dance! Come on and do the monkey, everybody!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

New songs for August 5th, 2015

here they are:

"Getting Ready to Get Down" by Josh Ritter: Could it be?! An upbeat song from the normally calm Josh Ritter?! Yes, it is!! The title alone kinda proves it. It's not typical of Josh Ritter to use a phrase like "get down" in one of his songs, but here, he does. It sounds more like Barenaked Ladies attempting to emulate Josh Ritter's vocal style than it does an actual Josh Ritter song, but it actually works here! Josh reveals his sense of humor in this song, too, with lines like "Jesus hates your high school dances", and many other lines that attempt to satirize the concept of religion.

"Gimme All Your Love" by Alabama Shakes: For their third single off of their latest album, Brittany Howard and co return to the '60s soul/rock combo that they initially became known for. "Gimme All Your Love" sounds an awful lot like Janis Joplin's "Cry Baby", with its tender, soulful verses, and blasts of rock 'n' roll guitar sound in the chorus, expressing a deep sense of passion either way. At least for the first two and a half minutes it sounds that way. After that, though, it goes for more of a sound that mixes the early funk of James Brown with the emotionally charged blues-rock of The Allman Brothers. The last 10 seconds or so of the song return briefly to the slower start of the song before closing with a loud, solid guitar sound. Brittany gives more than just all her love here, she gives her soul!!

"The Healing" by Gary Clark, Jr.: In addition to Alabama Shakes, Gary Clark Jr. is yet another blues-rock revivalist who emerged in the 2010's and gained an unexpectedly large audience, so perhaps it's fitting that their newest songs were introduced side by side for this week's blog! What better way to celebrate the joy of music than by singing about music?! Gary does so in his latest song, "The Healing", in which he proclaims that "music is (his) healing". Amen, brother! I can totally relate!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New songs for July 29th 2015

here they are:

"Different Colors" by Walk the Moon: With each new Walk the Moon song that comes out, the alt-pop quartet continues to prove that they are heavy hitters today, just as much as their namesake (The Police - specifically "Walking On the Moon") was in the late '70s/early '80s. "Anna Sun" and "Tightrope" were already pretty huge, but their Fall '14 smash hit, "Shut Up And Dance", outdid even THOSE songs!! So, does WTM's star continue to rise on "Different Colors"?! I would say, yes AND no. Yes, because it's catchy as heck, like pretty much all of their material is! No, on the other hand, because "Different Colors" isn't INSTANTLY catchy like their other three singles have been so far. A short description of this song's sound?! Think Foreigner's "Jukebox Hero" mixed with The Killers' "Shot At the Night".

"I'm In Love With My Life" by Phases: "I'm In Love With My Life", indeed! And with a song as catchy as THIS, why shouldn't you be?! It has all the makings of a classic pop radio hit! Disco beats, INXS-ish guitar hooks, and the perfect blend of male and female vocal harmonies! What's more?! First off, not a single lyric in the song is negative, a rarity for this day and age! To add to that, Phases are also an indie-pop supergroup, consisting of members of groups like The Like, Phantom Planet, as well as one member who was in both Bright Eyes and Rilo Kiley. Have you ever known a song whose title fits its mood more than this one does?! I sure haven't!!

"Light And Candle" by JJ Grey and Mofro: The '60s R & B vibe is here, as is the case with most JJ Grey and Mofro songs, but this time the boys slow things down a bit for a sound that is smooth and sensual, yet still gritty. The sweet, sensitive sounding title of the song kinda gives away how the song comes across overall. This sorta song is perfect after a nice night out of fine dining, or a walk in the moonlight. You'd swear you were hearing a long, lost Otis Redding ballad of the most passionate quality!

"Meet Me In the Woods" by Lord Huron: February's "Fool For Love" was the surprise hit of the year for Lord Huron! The group have always been favorites of the indie-folk community, but "Fool For Love" reached a little beyond their usual crowd! Could that be what's in store for Lord Huron's next big song, "Meet Me In the Woods"? Well, probably not. Still, though, the captivating, haunting sound of "Meet Me In the Woods" is bound to be a treat for Lord Huron fans, as well as fans of similar acts like Fleet Foxes, Iron & Wine, and The Tallest Man on Earth. So far, "Meet Me In the Woods" is the only minor key Lord Huron song that I've heard, which is interesting, considering how "lo-fi" their overall sound is. Perhaps it is the minor key sound of the song that makes it sound so mysterious, like a group of people traveling through a forest in the middle of the night!

"Sparks" by Beach House: Ah, nothing like a nice, dreamy song from Beach House. 'Cept this one kinda isn't! At least not as much as their usual material is. "Sparks" is more influenced by neo-psychedelia (and post-punk, in the vein of bands like My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus & Mary Chain) than it is by ethereal, airy folk/classical/jazz/rock blend they usually have. The screeching, fuzz soaked electric guitars about 30 seconds into the song make it apparent that this is a different Beach House song than usual. Well, at least Victoria Legrand's vocals are still soothing. It also retains the one-word titles of their previous hits ("Norway", "Zebra", and "Myth").

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

"Star Wars" Episode IX: Return of the Tweed-eye (and 4 other good ones)!!

In honor of Wilco's new album, "Star Wars", I have decided to make the title of this week's blog a reference to the "Star Wars" movies!! Here are this week's songs:

"Phone In A Pool" by Ben Folds (featuring yMusic): Ben Folds is one quirky dude! I mean, who ELSE would come up with a song title as random as "Phone In A Pool"? As it turns out, the title is not as random as it seems. It actually comes from how Ben was sick of answering his cell phone all the time. This resulted in how he did, in fact, throw his phone in a pool, out of the anger that rooted from having to answer it so often, even when he just got off stage. The song itself is charmingly odd, like most of Ben's material. New York ensemble yMusic provides a bit of light classical influence to the song to add to Ben's signature piano sound.

"Random Name Generator" by Wilco: So here's the moment you've all been waiting for, folks! A long time ago (1995, to be precise) in a galaxy far, far away (actually Chicago, Illinois), a singer named Jeff Tweedy decided to form a band, and he called it Wilco, after a military term short for "will comply". They started off as a country-rock group, but soon ventured into more folk, psychedelic, and even punk influenced territory as their career progressed. Their ninth and latest album is called "Star Wars", though no one quite knows why (yet). The first single off that album, "Random Name Generator", is, well, random! Both the title and the lyrics are rather mysterious, perhaps as an ode to musical heroes of theirs, such as Bob Dylan, though the song itself sounds more like something from what a Lou Reed led Led Zeppelin might have sounded like.

"Spots of Time" by Warren Haynes (featuring Railroad Earth): As a temporary member of The Allman Brothers Band, Warren Haynes is quite an accomplished "jam band" guitarist! His studio songs often feel more like live recordings due to their enormous length. Another thing he has in common with The Allmans is how blues-y he sounds. Well, normally. Warren's latest song, "Spots of Time", sounds more like an amalgam of flamenco, bluegrass, and jazz. So how did this happen?! Perhaps it's because he chose to jam with Railroad Earth, who are known for being more bluegrass than blues. For you guitar solo hungry folks, though, fear not! There is still plenty of chunky guitar jams in this song! It's just that this time around, they're interspersed with fiddle solos, too.

"The Next Storm" by Frank Turner: Plenty of folks have opted for folk-rock in the 2010's, but in 2013, Frank Turner won over more than just the usual folk-rock crowd with songs like "Recovery" and "The Way I Tend to Be", both of which made it into my Top 20 of 2013 at the end of the year. Songs like these were invigorating, lively, and quite clever as well! Frank continues this pattern with his newest song, "The Next Storm", proving himself to be England's answer to Bruce Springsteen in the process of performing it! "I'm not gonna live my whole life indoors, I'm gonna step out, and face the next storm", Frank proudly and defiantly proclaims in the chorus of "The Next Storm". Adventure, ho!

"Trouble" by Keith Richards: Since quite a large number of adult alt stations have started spinning this song when it isn't even a week old yet, I was expecting this to be a softer Keith/Stones song. It is not! It's basically a Stones song with Keith taking the lead vocals instead of Mick. The song has plenty of juicy Chuck Berry style riffs, a fast, propulsive beat, and an overall rebellious (but fun) sound. The world's oldest looking Stone is still young at heart! The dry, sardonic delivery of the lyrics is also worth noting here, as a marked contrast to the louder, more direct vocal delivery of Mick Jagger.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New songs for July 15th, 2015

here they are:

"Outta My Mind" by The Arcs: Who are The Arcs, I thought this was The Black Keys!! That's because it IS The Black Keys. Well, kinda. It's their lead singer Dan Auerbach's side project. The title of this song, "Outta My Mind", serves as an apt description of the song in the sense that its mildly post-psychedelic sound will drive you "out of your mind" when you hear it!! (In a good way, of course). With its fresh, funky sound, "Outta My Mind" is probably gonna end up being one of the number one jams of the summer!!

"Winning Streak" by Glen Hansard: Glen Hansard's newest song isn't as soulful as "Love Don't Leave Me Waiting", and nor is it as poignant as "Falling Slowly". Instead, it falls somewhere in between the two, sounding a bit more like a second, or possibly third rate version of The Head and The Heart more than it does Glen Hansard. Perhaps constantly injecting passion into his songs has taken its toll on Glen, though. Glen himself apparently thinks of "Winning Streak" as a song written to a friend, in hopes that he/she is doing well. Simple, but still effective.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

New songs for July 1st 2015

here they are:

"Bullets And Rocks" by Calexico: Though they are a "folk-rock" band, Calexico's material never emphasized rock music as much as it did genres like bluegrass and mariachi music. "Bullets And Rocks" is the first Calexico song to use electric guitar as its primary instrument. The mariachi and folk elements present on most Calexico songs is still present here, but this song will probably expand their audience into including both rock and folk fans. Here's another bonus for you all. "Bullets And Rocks" even has a brief guitar solo!! Never expected that from Calexico, did ya?!

"Compound Fracture" by My Morning Jacket: Could this be Jim James and co's attempt to try to do a song in the style of Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget About Me"?! Sure sounds like it! At least the first minute or so does. A gritty electric guitar and sax enter about 30 seconds into "Compound Fracture", but those instruments are mainly present in the chorus of the song. Lyrically, the song seems more like an attempt to answer another beloved '80s new wave/alt-pop tune, XTC's controversial "Dear God". However, the attack on religious beliefs is not exactly direct in "Compound Fracture" until the lyrics "'God' and 'the devil' were made up anyway" show up. Instead of attacking religion throughout the song, though, MMJ prefer to repeatedly insist that "There is no evil, there is no good, only people doing as they should". Food for thought, eh?!

"Strangers" by Langhorne Slim: Langhorne Slim's songs are usually somewhat upbeat, but his songs usually aren't as upbeat as the Mumford and Sons gone bubblegum pop type sound of "Strangers"! The mysterious, spooky title of the song belies its irresistibly happy sound! Even the horns on this song sound more like "Walking On Sunshine" than they do your run of the mill Americana-rock tune!! And what's this?! A "doo-doot-doot-doo" punctuating each verse?! Why Langhorne, that just isn't like you!! This song is just so darn happy, though, I can't help but like it! Guaranteed to put a smile on the face of even the most hardened hipster!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New songs for June 24th, 2015

here they are:

“Happy In the Sorrow Key” by Indigo Girls: If it were up to Amy Ray, The Indigo Girls might have been more influenced by punk than folk. She kinda sorta got her way with The Indigos’ “Shame On You” in the mid ‘90s, but so far, it hasn’t happened since. Until now, that is. “Happy In the Sorrow Key” is neither happy nor sorrowful, but it’s got plenty of grit. It is a surprisingly raw, rocking song for the duo. Amy’s love of bands like Husker Du, The Jam, and (especially) The Pretenders has finally paid off!!

“Once A Day” by Michael Franti and Spearhead: Michael Franti could be likened to a modern day Bob Marley, and no, it’s not just because of the influence of reggae can be heard in his music (after all, Franti also has plenty of influence from rock, folk, soul, and jazz as well). It’s also because Franti is just as much an advocate of social justice as he is for the feeling of being loved. Where Marley said, “Could you be loved? Then be loved”, Franti picks up where Marley left off with a message just as universal and affectionate, “Everybody oughta hug somebody at least once a day”. Michael, I must say, I agree with you on this one, very much! Love, be loved, and stay loved!

“The Ghosts of Beverly Drive” by Death Cab for Cutie: This might just be one of the most rocking songs Death Cab have ever attempted. Sure, they have incorporated the use of electric guitars into their music on more than one occasion, but the catchiness of the rhythm and the fuzziness of the guitar are not common elements in DCFC’s music. This does not mean that “The Ghosts of Beverly Drive” is a happy song, though, it isn’t, but it is more upbeat than their usual material. Musically, it almost seems like a slightly calmer and less solo driven version of The Police’s “Synchronicity II”. Finally, the lyrics are still trademark Death Cab, with clever but thoughtful lines like, “You wanna teach but not be taught”, and “I wanna sell but not be bought”.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

New songs for June 17th 2015

here they are:

"Dreams" by Beck: After two melancholy singles (and an entirely melancholy album), Beck has now decided to up the energy on his tunes once again, musically channeling both David Byrne and Prince in the process! Don't be fooled by the song's "dream"-y title, heheh. Most songs with the title "Dreams" are rather bittersweet (I'm looking at you, Fleetwood Mac and Cranberries). This one is most certainly not. It's basically funk from outer space. It's like someone went to the moon and put a dance floor there! Forget about walking on the moon. It's time for bouncin' and bumpin' on the moon, now!

"Let It Happen" by Tame Impala: Even MORE funk from outer space!! This time, the "space" factor is increased in this 7-minute sprawl of a song from the same guys who brought you the Black Keys-meets-Pink Floyd jam, "Elephant". "Let It Happen" is an apt title for Tame Impala's latest song, as that is exactly what they do here! They just "let it happen". Whatever goes, goes! Fade-ins, fade-outs. Rock 'n' roll, disco, dance, funk,'s all here! Get ready for a wild ride!

"Somewhere Under Heaven" by Tom Petty: Our last song of the week isn't funky or weird, but it still rocks! After all, this IS a Tom Petty song. Specifically, this one rocks in the same way Petty might have during the '80s, with its similarity to some of the more jangly, Byrds-y Petty tracks like "The Waiting". I strongly suspected this was an outtake from one of his '80s albums, but it's actually from a decade later. It's a "missing" track from his mid-'90s album, "Wildflowers". This song kinda sounds like what you might expect to hear from a song with the word "heaven" in its title. It shimmers and sparkles throughout with its shiny, glistening wall of Rickenbacker guitars. Enough to satisfy both the mellower and rougher sides of Petty's catalog!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

New songs for June 10th, 2015

here they are:

“No No No” by Beirut: “No No No”, you say? “Yes Yes Yes” is more like it! This especially applies to people who were fans of Beirut before they made their first big splash on the adult alt airwaves with the decidedly pop-ier “Santa Fe”. “No No No” sounds like a French lounge song set to a reggae beat. Beirut have become well known to indie fans for mixing folk, rock, electronica, and lounge jazz, so I’m sure their primary audience will be pleased with “No No No”. Honestly, though, I don’t think “Santa Fe” was that bad either.

“Rescue Me” by Amy Helm: It was not too long ago that Levon Helm, drummer for the legendary Canadian folk-rock group, The Band, experienced a tragic death. Thankfully, Levon’s daughter, Amy, is there to carry on the Helm legacy. “Rescue Me”, Amy’s first big song, shows how her dad’s influence might have rubbed off on her. It is a passionate cry for love that seamlessly blends folk, rock, soul, and gospel, kinda like The Band did.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

New songs for June 3rd, 2015

here they are:

"Satisfy Me" by Anderson East: People like James Hunter, St. Paul and The Broken Bones, and JJ Grey and Mofro have all proved in recent years that R & B and the blues are genres that transcend race. The latest blues singin' white dude on the rise is Anderson East, whose song "Satisfy Me" is likely to do just that! Anderson brings in both the passion and the grit of '60s R & B into his debut song, as well as raw gutsy vocals and an earthy, sensual delivery of the lyrics. The only thing that is not satisfying about this song is that it's only 2 and a half minutes long. We wanna hear more!

"Someone New" by Hozier: Hozier is certainly NOT "someone new" by now. "Take Me to Church" let everyone know who he was, and he had two more hit songs after that one. It is rare to achieve four hits or more off of a single album these days, but Hozier has now managed to do so! Interesting that both this song and the last one have that "white guy singing the blues" vibe to them. Of the four songs Hozier has put out as singles so far, "Someone New" is probably the most upbeat, as most of his songs sound rather melancholy in comparison. The lyrics are pretty much trademark Hozier, with its "forbidden love" theme. Towards the end, he makes a pun on the word "stranger", using the word initially as a noun, and later as a superlative adjective. This man is truly a rarity in this day and age, but a darn good one nonetheless!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

New songs for May 20th 2015

here they are:

"Future People" by Alabama Shakes: Not as fast as most of Alabama Shakes' material, but rest assured, this song is still funky as ever! The chorus of the song adds some funk to its already funky sound with a buzzy sounding instrument that's probably a keyboard of some sort. The song only has two verses, and the first one pretty much spells out what the song is about. It seems to be about how progressing forward can be better than living in the past. Well, I dunno 'bout you, but I'm looking forward to hearing more Alabama Shakes songs in the future!

"Renegades" by X Ambassadors: The name "X Ambassadors" might sound intimidating, but their music is anything but. They could be described as a slightly more funky Lumineers, since X Ambassadors' breakthrough song, "Renegades", is essentially folk music punctuated by handclaps as its backbeat. The song manages to be instantly catchy as well, though you probably won't remember any of the lyrics at first aside from, "Hey hey hey, living like we're renegades".

"Ship to Wreck" by Florence and The Machine: Might I say that this is the BEST song Flo has done so far?! Its sound combines Bruce Springsteen with R.E.M., two of my all time faves!! What more is there to say?! Well, a lot more, actually. Beneath the catchiness of the song are dark lyrics (though I've come to expect this dichotomy from FATM). As the title implies, "Ship to Wreck" is a song about losing control of one's direction in life. Sometimes, the darkest aspects of life can turn into amazing songs, though, and this is one of them!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

New songs for May 13th 2015

here they are:

"It Takes a Lot to Know a Man" by Damien Rice: It sure does!! Wow! Didn't think Damien had it in him to do a song that surpasses the length of "Stairway to Heaven" by about a minute and a half, but this is exactly what he does in "It Takes a Lot to Know a Man". Damien's songs are typically sad, but this one takes the melodrama of his music to a whole other level! The ending lyrics of the song are when it reaches its zenith. The phrase "What are you so afraid to lose?" becomes a mantra, and leads into what is perhaps the most intense mood I've ever heard in a Damien Rice song, as his voice and the background vocals argue with each other about their innermost insecurities.

"Most In the Summertime" by Rhett Miller (featuring Black Prairie): Just in time for the coming season, this is probably one of the most upbeat songs in both Rhett Miller's catalog and Black Prairie's. It is a mellow but catchy country-rock ditty in which the lyrics concern themselves with the simple pleasures of life. Well, perhaps other kinds of "pleasures" as well, as the chorus indicates that Rhett and Jenny (Black Prairie's lead singer) have their "clothes off, hangin' on the line". But hey, that's what summer's for, isn't it?!

"Scared" by Delta Rae: "Scared", eh?! Well, perhaps the reason why is because this song is different from Delta Rae's other material in two ways. First of all, one of the men in the group sings lead vocals, unlike Elizabeth Hopkins, who usually does so, and second of all, its sound resembles the "neo-soul" of groups like Fitz and The Tantrums more than it does the folk sound of their typical material. The "scare" factor here is really the uncertainty of whether a romance is going to work out, and the song's combination of minor key and catchy beat are enough to keep you on the edge of your seat!

"Song For Someone" by U2: After the anthemic rock vibes of "The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)" and "Every Breaking Wave", U2's third single from "Songs of Innocence", "Song For Someone", has a more laid-back and poignant feel to it. Whoever "someone" is, they must have been incredibly important to U2 for them to make such a moving song in which the lyrics tug at the heartstrings as much as the music does. The chorus of the song pretty much defines it with its opening words, "If there is a light, you can always see, and if there is a world, we can always be. If there is a dark within and without, and there is a light, don't let it go out". For those who are in touch with their sensitive side, I highly recommend this song!

"The Stars Over Your House" by Bob Schneider: Ever since Bob Schneider's adult alt radio breakthrough with "40 Dogs (Like Romeo And Juliet)", a lot of his songs have had somewhat of a moody streak, albeit laden with sentimentality in most cases, with the exception of the surprisingly hard-rocking "Unpromised Land". "The Stars Over Your House" seems like a much needed feel-good song in his catalog that he had more in his early days than the later ones. The "oh-oo-woh"s and "yea-ee-yeah"s that punctuate the verses, along with the harmony of the backing vocals, and just the chipper feel of the song in general, are all aspects that make "The Stars Over Your House" the perfect equivalent of a pop chart hit for indie fans.

"True Affection" by Father John Misty: Or as I like to call it, Father John Misty...IN SPAAAACCCE!!! FJM hasn't really used synthesized instruments in his music until now, and boy, does he use them!! The beginning of the song doesn't sound that far off from what you might hear when someone is playing an arcade game! It kinda sounds like one of the trippier Radiohead songs, in particular, songs like "Lotus Flower" and "Staircase". The song basically has only one verse that's repeated twice (with the second verse having only a slight difference in lyrical content), and it doesn't veer from its A minor chord at all, which gives the song a bit of a "static" flavor. FJM, meet LSD!

"24 Frames" by Jason Isbell: Right from the beginning of the song, you can tell it's gonna be a sad one, since the opening lyrics are "This is how you make yourself vanish into nothing". Thankfully, it's not a bleak sadness, but a bittersweet one, and Jason Isbell does an excellent job of pouring his heart and soul into "24 Frames". Its sound is reminiscent of the songs from R.E.M.'s album, "Automatic for the People", and that sound is not just coincidence. It turns out that Jason's band, Drive-by Truckers, was based in Athens, Georgia, the same town R.E.M. hails from! As for the title of the song, it is taken from how many frames roll per second during a movie, which is how life itself is portrayed in "24 Frames". Jason has truly outdone himself this time!!

"Woman (Oh Mama)" by Joy Williams: One half of folk-rock duo, The Civil Wars, Joy Williams' debut solo song is basically like a Celtic version of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" in terms of how it sounds. As the title of the song implies, this is Joy's ode to the spirit of femininity. The one complaint I have about this song is that she seems to be expressing her thoughts as though she is stereotyping those who speak "broken" English, though I'm not sure if this is intentional. Each line of each verse starts with the word "woman" and is followed by a verb of some sort, which reminds me of how Cookie Monster speaks ("Me want cookie!"), or perhaps the Hulk ("Hulk smash!") Why she is choosing to speak this way, I have no idea, but I do appreciate the sentiment she has intended in the song, as well as the way it sounds.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

New songs for May 6th, 2015

here they are:

"Beatnik Walking" by Richard Thompson: A veteran folk-rocker who has been active since the '60s, Richard Thompson's last few albums have focused on "plugging in" a bit more than he usually does. His latest song, "Beatnik Walking", goes back to his folk roots. The song has an almost Celtic influenced feel to it, and a similar rhythm to Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill" as well. Jeff Tweedy from Wilco, who was probably influenced in some way by Richard Thompson, is the one who produced "Beatnik Walking". The song is so mellow sounding that it resembles folk more than it does folk-rock. Not a bad thing by any means, though. We could all use a breather once in a while!

"Electric Love" by Borns: The sublime alt-pop stylings of Lorde and the chunky garage rock style of The Black Keys have both become popular styles for the 2010's. I never thought I'd see the day when they converged into one sound, though, until I heard "Electric Love" by Borns (How do you pronounce their name, anyway? The "o" has a slash through it, so I would guess maybe it's "burns", or perhaps "byairns"). Apparently, the fact that the song combines two popular alt-pop subgenres is not the only reason that "Electric Love" has been getting so much attention lately. It has also been used on a commercial for video streaming service, Hulu. What can I say? Music is always a good way to get people to use your products!

"Feeling OK" by Best Coast: Sometimes, the third time really is the charm! Bethany Cosentino and the rest of her gang of L.A. indie-pop beach bums actually released two other songs from their latest album as singles ("California Nights" and "Heaven Sent") before they released "Feeling OK" as a single as well. The indie community itself seems to be eating Best Coast's latest album right up, but so far, only "Feeling OK" has had a significant impact on the radio airwaves. This song doesn't sound like the "Florence and the Machine goes surf music" sorta thing they have had with their previous material, and opts for a more 2010's radio-friendly alt-pop sound instead. The radio-friendly sound of "Feeling OK" is probably a large part of the reason why it's become more successful than the other two songs from Best Coast's album "California Nights", the title track of which sounds like one of the more psychedelia influenced Oasis songs. The other song, "Heaven Sent", seems influenced by '90s alt-rock goddess Liz Phair, and probably could have fared well on adult alt and alternative radio stations. Maybe that song will have another go later on this year. In the meantime, though, "Feeling OK" should make you...well...feel OK!

"Lonesome Street" by Blur: Anyone remember that faux-grunge song from the '90s by a bunch of British guys, where the chorus of the song is basically a loud "WOO-HOO!!"? Well, apparently, they're still doing stuff today! However, it's nothing like the "woo-hoo" song (which is actually called "Song 2"). Their latest song, "Lonesome Street", has a power pop flavor, but more of a catchy, melodic one than a noisy one. For a song with the word "lonesome" in the title, "Lonesome Street" is actually quite an upbeat, catchy tune!! The song hearkens back to early, pre-"Song 2" Blur songs, like the soulful "There's No Other Way".

"She's Not Me" by Jenny Lewis: The opening guitar of this song sure doesn't SOUND like Jenny Lewis. That's because it's actually Ryan Adams' guitar playing, which I kinda suspected from its '80s-era Stones type sound, which Ryan seems to have been quite fond of lately. The riff of the song actually bears quite a bit of similarity to The Rolling Stones' "Almost Hear You Sigh", which I could see happening in a Ryan Adams song, but not a Jenny Lewis one. The lyrics, on the other hand, are pure Jenny Lewis. Innocent sounding singing combined with scathing, finger-pointing lyrics like, "She's not me, she's easy". "Easy", huh?! Jenny, you got some 'splainin' to do!!

"Tell Me What You Want From Me" by Good Old War: When Good Old War released their debut album, folk-rock really was more of an "indie" thing. 8 years later, and folk-rock has suddenly become a more popular subgenre to emulate. Folks like Walk Off the Earth have become YouTube sensations because of it. In fact, this song kinda SOUNDS like something from Walk Off the Earth more than it does Good Old War, in that it combines acoustic guitar playing with artificial percussion, the way a lot of WOTE's material tends to. "Tell Me What You Want From Me" also uses other synthesized instruments during some parts, which isn't something that GOW do very often. It'd be nice if Good Old War were able to sound more "organic" like they used to, but this isn't too bad of an effort.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

New songs for April 29th 2015

here they are:

"Fade Out Lines" by The Avener: This song blends the best of two unlikely worlds, upbeat funk music and sad, minor key music. Behind the funky beat of "Fade Out Lines" lies its heartbroken, struggling lyrics, which state that, "The shallower it grows, the fainter we go". Guest vocalist Phoebe Killdeer from new wave cover band Nouvelle Vague provides the sublime yet detached vocals in this song. Not every day that you get lovelorn lyrics wed to funky beats, but somehow, they manage to gel pretty well this time around!

"Head Over Heels" by JD McPherson: What if Nirvana's song "About A Girl" was released more than 50 years ago?! Probably not a question on anyone's mind, but that's pretty much what JD McPherson's latest song, "Head Over Heels", sounds like. It is built around two chords, G major and B flat major, the pattern of which sounds strikingly similar to the E minor to G major shift in the verses of "About A Girl". Coincidentally, "About A Girl" was a song that Kurt Cobain intended to sound like an early Beatles tune. Perhaps JD is (unintentionally) doing Kurt a favor?! Time will tell!

"Language of the Dead" by Delta Spirit: A very late entry, as the single for this song has actually been out since February, but better late than never, I say! This song packs quite a punch, lyrically!! That is to say, it's a whammy of pop culture trivia! Agamemnon (whom I studied in class recently) and Ulysses are both mentioned, as are Tolstoy and Robert E. Lee. The only icon in the song who is not dead is Bob Dylan. Towards the end of the song, we are dealt a different kind of whammy altogether, when lead singer Matthew Vasquez gives his own personal "take that" to "inspirational" songs and poems everywhere, by saying, "dreamers, get your own dream!"

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New songs for April 22nd, 2015

here they are:

"Alive Tonight" by Grace Potter: Anthemic dance-pop may not work for everyone, but for Grace Potter, it seems to do the trick, making a musician who started out with calm country-rock music into a sassy powerhouse! This song also marks the first time Grace has performed without her longtime backing group, The Nocturnals. Whoever her backing group is now, though, is doing a good job at maintaining the energy Grace reserves for her more uptempo numbers. The rousing chorus of "we are, we are, we are alive tonight!" is easy to get stuck in your head! On top of that, the song even contains a guitar solo in the middle!

"All the Pretty Girls" by Kaleo: Mumford and Sons imitators have been everywhere during the 2010's. So where does that leave fans of pre-Mumford indie-folk, like Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes?! Well, it pretty much leaves them with Kaleo, whose song "All the Pretty Girls" sounds like a cross between Bon Iver's "Skinny Love" and Vance Joy's "Riptide". Kaleo are also the only other indie-folk band (so far) besides Of Monsters and Men to hail from Iceland. Unlike OMAM, however, the lead singer's accent does not sound Irish. Instead it sounds like a cross between Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Vance Joy. Seems like this song is taking bits and pieces from other indie-folk songs and bands. Perhaps it could be said to be indie-folk's Frankenstein in that regard! I like it anyway, though.

"Mama Knows" by Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds: Arleigh "Sister Sparrow" Kincheloe is blessed with having the looks of "Portlandia"'s Carrie Brownstein and the voice and musical stylings of Susan Tedeschi. A winning combination if you ask me! Even better, perhaps, is how the "mama" in the title of the song refers not to herself but to her own mother! The song was inspired by Arleigh seeing some of her mother's concerts and how much admiration she felt for her. The central message of the song lies in the chorus, where Kincheloe sings, "If you ain't got lovin', you ain't got nothin'". With Mother's Day close on the horizon, it seems like the perfect song to be released for this time of year!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

New songs for April 15th, 2015

here they are:

"Dead Fox" by Courtney Barnett: Courtney's first two big songs seemed to be on opposite extremes from one another!! "Avant Gardener" was mellow, spaced out slacker rock at its finest, yet "Pedestrian At Best" is one of the rawest, meanest, and hardest rocking songs I've ever reviewed on this blog!! Her third big song, "Dead Fox", appears to be somewhere in between the two. It's more upbeat than "Avant Gardener" but not as earth shatteringly angry as "Pedestrian At Best". "Dead Fox" sounds a bit like a Pretenders song circa the early '80s, only with Courtney Barnett's deadpan vocals taking the place of the more deep, sublime vocals of Chrissie Hynde. "Dead", in the title of this song, appears to be a metaphor, as in "you are dead to me", given how the chorus of the song ("if you can't see me, I can't see you") is basically about choosing to ignore someone you'd rather not be dealing with.

"Gates of Dawn" by Heartless B*st*rds: This band doesn't exactly live up to its name (which is kind of a GOOD thing), but that's because they were actually named after a question on a game show that asked what the name of Tom Petty's backing group was (one of the choices was "Tom Petty and The Heartless B*st*rds"). That being said, it's probably no mere coincidence that a lot of Heartless B*st*rds' songs sound like '90s era Tom Petty songs, including their latest song, "Gates of Dawn". A bit of the more anthemic side of Tom Petty gets mixed into this song as well, which starts out acoustic, and steadily adds more and more electric guitar as it climaxes. Nonetheless, "Gates of Dawn" still manages to be a somewhat laid back song.

"The Wolf" by Mumford and Sons: Like "Believe" from two months ago, this is yet another Mumford and Sons song that takes electric guitar over acoustic. However, "The Wolf" doesn't seem to be striving for an "epic" adult contemporary sound along the lines of Coldplay, and instead opts for something that sounds more like Kings of Leon mixed with Spoon. It also maintains a fast, electric sound throughout, instead of meddling between the two the way "Believe" did. The song still contains the typical, soul-searching Mumford lyrics ("Hold gaze my love, you know I want to let it go", "Been wandering for days, how you felt me slip your mind"). Here's hoping this song receives more airplay than their last one (which received quite a bit of airplay, but I like this one better). Perhaps I should be careful what I wish for?!

"Things Happen" by Dawes: Between this song and the last one I reviewed, all I can say is that Kings of Leon must be either incredibly proud or incredibly weirded out that they have now spawned so many imitators! "Things Happen" still maintains the roots-y feel Dawes typically go for, but the guitar appears to sound fuzzier and more echo-y than it usually is on their material. The lyrics of "Things Happen" seem to present a "Where do we go from here?" frame of mind for the listeners. This being Dawes' fourth album, perhaps it was hard for them to come up with topics for a new song. The chorus of the song ends with the empty, mystifyingly worded conclusion that "things happen, that's all they ever do". Wait, things do things OTHER than just "happen"?!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

New songs for April 8th 2015

here they are:

"My Type" by Saint Motel: Indie-pop hasn't been this disco-fied since the days of Scissor Sisters (and that was about a decade ago)! The saxes that blare in the beginning of the song already let you know what a groovy ride you're gonna be in for! I feel like Saint Motel released this song one season too early, given what a summery vibe it has (although there's really nothing wrong with that). Beneath "My Type"'s funky fever, though, there are some very tongue-in-cheek lyrics. For instance, during the chorus, the lead singer declares that the subject of the song is "just his type" simply because she "has a pulse and (she's) breathing". "Love comes wearing disguises" and "double check for double meanings" are other clever lyrics that the song has to offer!

"Quarterback" by Kopecky (formerly The Kopecky Family Band): When was the last time you heard a song beginning with the letter "Q"?! Actually, it was rather recently, with Paul McCartney's "Queenie Eye" from just two years ago, but other than that, it's been quite awhile! The word "quarterback" itself is pretty unique for a song title, given how I haven't heard that word in any other song title yet. This song is probably the most fuzz-guitar heavy that the typically bubbly Kopecky have gotten so far. The subject matter is a bit darker than most of their material as well, with the words "lies that you told me" being the central words in the chorus. Rest assured, though, Kopecky fans will probably still enjoy this song, as it is a catchy song with a melodic sound.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

New songs for March 18th, 2015

here they are:

"Crystals" by Of Monsters and Men: Yet another band whose peak was during the early 2010's has released a song for the middle of the decade. Many of those bands have tried experimenting with different sounds. Mumford and Sons added electric guitars into their normally acoustic sound, Alabama Shakes upgraded from '60s R & B to '70s funk, and Florence and The Machine finally have a song with an audible guitar sound. So why does the latest Of Monsters and Men sound like...well...Of Monsters and Men?! Perhaps the main reason that the Icelandic folk-rock sensations have stuck with their original sound is because they just didn't feel a need to change it up. Don't get me wrong, I am all for experimentation, but there's something about folk-rock music that just tugs at my heartstrings. Sure, people like Bob Dylan and Neil Young made quite a successful leap from folk to rock in the past, but they are rare musicians to come by! The themes of obscure European mythology that Of Monsters and Men had on a lot of their last songs resurfaces in "Crystals" as well. Once again, though, I couldn't be happier. Perhaps some bands are better off without experimentation!

"The Wrong Year" by The Decemberists: A song with rather Shakespearean lyrics and music that combines Celtic folk with R.E.M.?! That can only mean one thing!! The Decemberists now have yet another song that has been released in their ever-growing catalog! So many reasons to love this band! For one, their name contains my birth month! For another, they tend to have lyrics that are both cryptic and insightful along with the jingle-jangle folk-rock sound of their music. The chorus states that "the rain falls on the wrong year, and it won't leave you alone", which could mean any number of things (though it's probably something to do with bad luck of sorts). One more thing to love about them is how a lot of their songs, including this one, tend to be narratives.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

new songs for March 11th, 2015

here they are:

"Believe" by Mumford and Sons: "Believe It Or Not" is more like it!! I have never seen a more split reaction to a Mumford and Sons song than I have for this one! People who like the band tend to think that removing banjos and adding electric guitars and atmospheric synths is a bad move for them, and people who don't like them seem to think that they're doing even worse than they did before! Then there are those fans of the band, such as myself, who still like what they're doing. However, I have to side a bit with the more disappointed section of the fandom here, as I do think this song pretty much smacks of trying too hard to sound like something you're not. Mumford and Sons are not Coldplay, and nor are they Kings of Leon. The first half of "Believe" sounds a lot like a Coldplay song, while the second half does sound a bit like KOL. "I don't even know if I believe anymore", Marcus Mumford states during the chorus of the song. Marcus, at this point, sadly, neither do I. An A for effort, though, and as changes in sound go, this wasn't the worst choice, I just think it could have been a little better.

"Shots" by Imagine Dragons: Though Imagine Dragons are a thousand times more pop oriented than Mumford and Sons, at LEAST Imagine Dragons' sophomore album contains songs that stick to a sound that is suitable for them! One noticeable difference between the first and second Imagine Dragons albums is how their second album has a bit more of an audible guitar sound. The influence by folk music is a bit less obvious on "Shots" than it is on most Imagine Dragons songs, but the mix between dance-pop and rock music is still palpable, and makes it sound a bit like a Killers song to me. The lyrics to "Shots" are a bit remorseful, especially the opening line ("I'm sorry for everything, for everything I've done"), but the fact that they are willing to wed such painful lyrics to such a catchy tune is a winning combination to me!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

New songs for March 4th, 2015

here they are:

"Big Decisions" by My Morning Jacket: It was no "big decision" to decide to review the latest My Morning Jacket song this week!! Already during its first week of existence it has gotten airplay on 18 adult alt stations! Quite a major achievement if you ask me (though this may be happening just because of how much certain people love My Morning Jacket). MMJ's music tends to come in two flavors. There's the trippy neo-psychedelia present in songs like "Off the Record", "Holdin' On to Black Metal", and "I'm Amazed", and there's also the soulful folkie side of their music that shows up in songs like "Golden" and "Wonderful (The Way I Feel)". "Big Decisions" happens to fall into the former category. The song, as its title implies, is about wondering what do do with your life when you aren't quite ready to do so. Here's hoping that MMJ make more "big decisions" (and good ones) in the near future!!

"Falling From the Sky" by Calexico: Like most Calexico songs, "Falling From the Sky" is an indie-folk-rock song that is punctuated (and somewhat defined) by the mariachi-like horns that come in during the chorus. However, there are two things that make this song distinct from their other songs. First of all, it features guest background vocals from Band of Horses' Ben Birdwell, and second of all, it has a spacey Moog synthesizer sound that seems somewhat out of place!! Perhaps Calexico are a band who sound better when sticking to their "core" sound, which, for the most part, they do here (I just wanna know what's up with that blasted synthesizer in the track!) This song is kinda like a slightly mellower version of The Replacements' "Can't Hardly Wait", in terms of its sound.

"Sagres" by The Tallest Man on Earth: Every little thing The Tallest Man on Earth does truly is magic!! Or so I thought before I heard this song. Since "Sagres" features an electric guitar as a backing instrument, a lot of The TMOE's biggest fans seemed a bit disappointed, since he normally performs as a one man acoustic band. I must say that I am in slight agreement with the fans here, as it lacks the charm of "1904", "Little Brother", and my personal fave of his, "Wind and Walls", but I also don't think that "Sagres" is a complete departure from what The TMOE normally does. It is still, essentially, a folk-rock song, and it still retains that enchantingly lo-fi sound that most of his songs have. The chords tend to get a bit repetitive, though, and are pretty derivative of Bruce Springsteen's "My Hometown".

"Work Song" by Hozier: Perhaps it is somewhat cliche to use the word "different" to describe the sounds of certain musicians, but for Irish singer/songwriter, Andrew Hozier Byrne (best known by his middle name), there is no better word to describe his music! It doesn't sound like anything else on the radio! They're like hymnals that somehow manage to be solemn and catchy at the same time. Hozier's third big song, "Work Song", continues displaying the depth and talent that Hozier is capable of! Being caught between sexual and spiritual desire seems to be a favorite topic for Hozier, and it continues to resurface here, as he ruminates on being "laid down gently in the cold, dark earth" when he dies, yet contemplating the love he feels for his girlfriend at the same time.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New songs for February 25th, 2015

here they are:

"Archie, Marry Me" by Alvvays: The first thing I wondered about this song, when I heard its title, was whether any of the members of the band were named "Betty" or "Veronica". As it turns out, they are not. The lead singer of Alvvays is named Molly Rankin. Anyway, this song does have ONE thing in common with "Archie" comics, aside from its title, and that's the sunshiny, bubblegum chewing, summery fun vibe the song gives off! The "alternative surf" sound of the song brings to mind groups like Best Coast, though the subject matter here is more blissful than the typical Best Coast song.

"Flashed Junk Mind" by Milky Chance: The second hit song from German duo, Milky Chance, sounds...well...kinda like their first one! To me, that's a little disappointing, because I pretty much fell in love with "Stolen Dance" from the moment I first heard it, because of its unique blend of Latin, folk, rock, and soul. "Flashed Junk Mind" is basically more of the same where that came from, and it's even written in the same key as "Stolen Dance" (B major). It's still a catchy song, but I kinda think they can do better than this, personally.

"Midnight" by Tor Miller: TIME FOR GO TO BED!! Oh wait, that's Tor JOHNSON, from the B-movie, "The Unearthly", the only other "Tor" I have ever heard of. Anyway, Tor Miller is entertaining, too, but in a vastly different way from Tor Johnson. Right away you pretty much know how good it is, since the opening lines mention the late Jeff Buckley's album, "Grace". The song itself is more Tom Waits than Jeff Buckley, for its urban folk-jazz-rock piano blend, but with vocals that sound far more melodic than Waits' gravelly growl. "Midnight" takes place in New York City, but probably in a cafe somewhere in NYC, as opposed to one of the louder, more active places in the city.

"Silent Movies" by Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear: Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear are a rarity! It's not because they are black folk musicians. After all, people like Tracy Chapman, Leadbelly, and Richie Havens have all had successful careers in the music world. It's because the "Mama Bear" here is, in fact, a mama, and Madisen Ward is her son. Unlike Chapman, Havens, etc., Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear have rather upbeat music that depends more on making silly rhymes than on statements about politics and civil rights. Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear are a family affair like no other!!

"Take You Home" by Scars on 45: You could say that Scars on 45 are essentially a folk-rock band, but their folk-y-ness has never been as evident as it has on their latest song, "Take You Home". The fingerpicked strumming in the opening sounds a bit like the songs in the "Into the Wild" soundtrack. While "Take You Home" is lyrically a love song, like a lot of Scars' material is, the song is noticeably less pop-y than their other material. It is a very sweet and sentimental song, but in the most honest way possible!