Wednesday, January 28, 2015

New songs for January 28th, 2015

here they are:

"Beryl" by Mark Knopfler: Though Mark has two inescapable rock 'n' roll hits ("Sultans of Swing" and "Money For Nothing") that will follow him wherever he goes, it seems as though Mark's true passion is for folk and country music. Many of his solo albums have an Americana feel to them, and he has duetted with folkies like James Taylor and country musicians like Emmylou Harris on his solo albums as well. His latest song, "Beryl", seems to have shades of both his solo career material and his Dire Straits material. It features a strummed acoustic guitar and a twangy electric guitar, playing together in harmony. One question remains, though. Who IS "Beryl" (the subject of the song)? It turns out that Beryl is Beryl Bainbridge, a British author whose award for writing was a posthumous one, as she never received any awards during her lifetime. The song basically centers around the tragedy of how Bainbridge was appreciated more after she died than she was during her life. A bit like Don McLean's "Vincent", then, in terms of the narration, though not nearly as sad.

"Congregation" by Foo Fighters: The Foos are surprisingly eclectic for a band who evolved out of the grunge scene! They don't just bathe themselves in angst, and can sometimes be quite sunny! "Congregation" is one example of a sunnier song from Dave and the boys (though it turns into a bit of a raver towards the middle). It also seems to be one of those songs that just celebrates the joys of music, as Dave sings about a "jukebox generation" during the chorus. The song seems to have an oddly biblical narrative, too, with lyrics like "I met the seventh son", "Step in the light", and "Where is your blind faith? No false hope".

"Radio" by Ryan Bingham: Our last song of the week is a gritty, Tom Petty-esque rocker. Like the last song I posted about, "Radio" is a song purely about the joys of music, nothing more, and nothing less. Ryan's raw vocals creakily sing about how "radio makes (him) wanna just lose (his) head" during the chorus, placing a drawled out emphasis on the word "lose". I say this song will make you wanna lose your head! In a good way, though, I promise!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New songs for January 21st, 2015

here they are:

"Black Is the Color" by Rhiannon Giddens: No other black female musician has sung about being a "country girl" quite so convincingly, and nor has any other attempted to mix bluegrass instrumentation with hip-hop beats. Qualities like this put Carolina Chocolate Drops' lead singer, Rhiannon Giddens, in a truly special category! She ups the ante on musical diversity with her debut solo song, "Black Is the Color", which is somewhat reminiscent of the harmonica laden soul tunes that Stevie Wonder has become known for. "Black", in this case, does not refer to race, but to the actual color, as it describes Rhiannon's "true love's hair" (well actually, not HER "true love", as people like Nina Simone recorded versions of the song before she did). A truly sublime treat from an equally sublime musician!

"Every Minute" by JJ Grey and Mofro: Moving on to a contemporary soul influenced group of a grittier variety, "Every Minute" is probably the smoothest song JJ Grey and Mofro have put out so far. The song gives more of a romantic, warm summery vibe than most of the grimier material in their catalog. That is, until halfway through the song, when horns start to blare, and guest guitarist Derek Trucks makes his guitar more audible! It starts to mellow out again after about 10 or 20 seconds, but towards the end, the instruments kick into full gear and louder tone once again!

"Gold" by Chet Faker: Notice that "F" in his name. This is not Chet Baker, the romantic singer from days of old, this is a contemporary "trip-hop" musician from Australia who goes by the moniker of Chet Faker, mixing lounge atmosphere and soothing instrumentation with hip-hop beats. Chet Faker isn't faking anything, though! He is quite talented at what he does. His breakthrough song, "Gold", weaves a tale of love gone wrong that is somewhat offset by Chet's mesmerizing, beautiful vocals. Not really sure what he means with the recurring line, "made of gold". Perhaps it has to do with how he might be sensing transparency within his relationship. Maybe if I listen to the song more, I'll be able to figure out the meaning of that line!

"It's A Longer Road to California Than I Thought" by The Wind and The Wave: Guy-girl folk-rock duo, The Wind and The Wave, hail from Texas, so perhaps California really IS a "long road" for them. For me, though, it's where I live! In comparison to their last hit, the bluegrass-rock stomper, "With Your Two Hands", "It's A Longer Road to California..." uses more instruments than just acoustic guitar. That instrument is used in this song, but it also uses keyboard in the background occasionally. The opening line of the song seems to rely on stereotypes about my state, with its "I miss smoking pot and playing guitar" line. Not everyone smokes that stuff in California (I don't)! And not every Californian who plays guitar smokes it either (once again, I don't smoke it - I do play guitar, though). Lucky for me, the rest of the song talks about the more natural aspects of California, like "rolling yellow hills" and "blue skies and the moon out in the distance and a sunset few and far behind". I'm proud to call California my home state! For those who don't live here, though, not all of us are burned out hippies.

"Let the Good Times Roll" by JD McPherson: JD never fails to please me! It's like he's able to channel the ghost of Elvis (before he got drafted into the army) every time he puts out a new song! That being said, it shouldn't come as a surprise that JD's latest tune, "Let the Good Times Roll", does exactly what its title says to do! What might come as a big surprise, though, is the condition he was in when he wrote it. Apparently he was ill when he wrote it, and the fact that he was watching an episode of "Frasier" where Niles finds a skull and holds it up didn't exactly make things any better for him. Isn't life ironic sometimes?!

"Made Up Mind" by The Brothers Landreth: Our last song of the week comes from country-rock group, The Brothers Landreth. Not to be confused with the Tedeschi-Trucks Band song of the same name, "Made Up Mind" a slower, mellower number, dominated by acoustic and steel guitar, with a blues-y electric guitar in the background. The lyrics can be quite poetic at times (especially the recurring line, "serenade of a made up mind"), but the song itself just seems okay to me so far. Not a bad one, though, and perhaps it'll grow on me over time, as many of these songs have.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New songs for the New Year!! 2015

Got five great ones for ya!! Here they are:

"Chateau Lobby # 4" by Father John Misty: Ah, a nice pleasant, folk-y tune about...having "Satanic Christmas Eve"?!? Whaaat?!? Seriously, though, what else would you EXPECT from the guy whose best known solo tune has enigmatic lyrics like "I'm no doctor, but that monkey might be right" and "Heidegger and Sartre drinking poppy tea"?! Even the subtitle of the song (in C for Two Virgins) is kinda weird! The brass instruments in the background are a nice new touch for Father John, as his music is mostly the basic guitar/bass/drums setup. The only thing that really makes sense about this song is how the subtitle states that it is "in C", which it is (C major). If you like your folk-rock to be out of the ordinary, this one's for you!

"I Blew It Off" by Punch Brothers: Fans of Punch Brothers might think that the title to this song fits perfectly with how it sounds! Punch Brothers do sound like they're "blowing it off" in this song. That is to say, they've traded in their more traditional sounding bluegrass-y sound for something that sounds closer to folk-rock. Rest assured, the bluegrass-y violins are still in this song, but they're most audible during the verses of the song. The chorus is electric and acoustic guitars mingling with one another, backed by drums (another instrument uncommon to most Punch Brothers songs).

"Lampshades On Fire" by Modest Mouse: So what have Modest Mouse been up to for the past 6 years?! Perhaps the reason their hiatus from the music world was so long this time around was because they wanted another uber-catchy funk/ska inflected hit single to catch the world by storm! Songs like "Float On" from their first big breakthrough album, and "Dashboard" from the album that followed it gave them chart success like they had never experienced before! Somehow "Satellite Skin" from their third album just didn't do as well, so perhaps they were trying to get over what little success that song had in comparison to their two biggest hits so far. Their latest song, "Lampshades On Fire", continues in the direction of the songs that put Modest Mouse on the map in the first place! It's a catchy song that features Isaac Brock's signature quavering vocal style and a ska influenced rhythm that wouldn't sound out of place in a song by The Specials or Madness. No surprise that this is the most anticipated new song of the week, is it?!

"Loop de Li" by Bryan Ferry: Perhaps the name "Bryan Ferry" isn't exactly a household one overall in the music world, but he's been a hard working, accomplished musician with a career that dates back to 1972 with alt-rock pioneers, Roxy Music. Ferry is known for being as glitzy and seductive as he is detached and ironic, and the icy cold vibe of the music mixed with the allure of the saxophones and Ferry's dreamily hushed vocals on "Loop de Li" basically make this like a vintage Ferry tune that just happened to be released during the modern era. And for the record, no, I do not know what a "loop de li" is. Probably just filler words.

"Mess Is Mine" by Vance Joy: A folkie from down under with a somewhat Irish influence in both his music and vocals, Vance Joy first hit the big time with "Riptide" two Septembers ago, though it took a while for the song to be played on multiple formats. Beneath the sunny vibe of the song were dark lyrics about a relationship gone bad. "Mess Is Mine" is similar, but it has a more serious, contemplative sound than "Riptide" did, so its lyrics, which also concern a relationship on the fritz, fit better with the overall mood of the song. There's a bit more electric guitar in the background to this song than most of Vance's material, but it is still a folk-rock song, complete with acoustic guitar as its central instrument, personal, thought-provoking lyrics, and some handclaps added in towards the middle of the song.