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!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New songs for February 18th, 2015

here they are:

"Coming Home" by Leon Bridges: The term "neo-soul" has been applied to many musicians, but there are only a few whom I really believe deserve the label. Newcomer to the scene, Leon Bridges, is one such person. His brand of soul music hearkens back to a time when Motown was a fledgling genre and record label, as it heavily evokes the music of soul legend, Sam Cooke. Leon's smooth crooning combined with the blues-y but breezy guitar he sings over is enough to make Cupid actually want to draw back his bow and let his arrow go!

"Don't Wanna Fight" by Alabama Shakes: One of the most anticipated singles of the week, and also one of the funkiest!! Alabama Shakes are (currently) best known for their first big hit, "Hold On", which blended Janis Joplin-esque vocals with Creedence Clearwater-style guitar playing. In "Don't Wanna Fight", Brittany Howard takes her musical time machine a few years after the Woodstock era, and into the funk era of the mid 1970's. Howard loudly and proudly proclaims that she "don't wanna fight no more" throughout the song. Since I don't know the song well enough yet, I'm not exactly sure what it is that she's fighting for (or against), but this is a song that is clearly more about the rhythm than it is about the lyrics, as far as I'm concerned. Get your groove on!!

"Every Other Freckle" by alt-J: The nerdily named alt-J have actually been pretty cool ever since their debut, but it seems as though the songs from their sophomore record are the ones that adult alt radio has gravitated towards the most so far. The guitar heavy, Black Keys-esque "Left Hand Free" became one of summer 2014's biggest hits on adult alt stations. As spring approaches, "Every Other Freckle" is the song such radio stations seem to be picking up on. The song returns to the hip-to-be-quirky style that alt-J have become known for, which "Left Hand Free" seemed to lack. The lyrics in the song are also a bit enigmatic. For instance, I have no idea what they mean by "I want every other freckle". That's just fine, though, as this is just the way alt-J's fans seem to like them.

"False Hope" by Laura Marling: Laura Marling could easily be likened to a modern-day Joni Mitchell. If albums like "A Creature I Don't Know" and "Once I Was An Eagle" are her "Blue" and "Ladies of the Canyon", then perhaps her latest album, "Short Movie" is what "Court and Spark" was for Joni Mitchell. That is, a chance for Laura to experiment with electric guitars while still keeping up her folk-rock image. "False Hope" is the first Laura Marling song I have heard that uses electric guitar instead of acoustic. The chorus to "False Hope" is rather cutting for someone known for her quaint and quiet material ("why I know false hope", as if to say, "I've been down before, so leave me alone!") Again, the "Court and Spark" comparison could continue, since Joni had rather scathing lyrics on songs like "Raised On Robbery" ("first he had a '57 Biscayne, put it in the ditch, he drunk up all the rest, that son of a b**ch"). Laura is definitely trying to move in a darker direction with "False Hope", as far as I can tell, and a more musically distinct direction, too.

"Fool For Love" by Lord Huron: Lord Huron are probably one of the dreamiest sounding indie-folk bands of the 2010's. The first 45 seconds of their latest song, "Fool For Love", are pure bliss. Once the vocals kick in, it starts to sound more like a typical Lord Huron song, but it still maintains its blissful, ethereal sound. Many of their songs could obliquely be considered love songs, but "Fool For Love" is the first song they've done where the affection is clearly spelled out (as if you couldn't tell from the title). I notice that this song was released a couple days after Valentine's Day. I wonder if Lord Huron did that on purpose?!

"I Don't Want to Let You Down" by Sharon Van Etten: Sharon Van Etten's songs are known for being somewhat dismal and lonely sounding. That being said, could "I Don't Want to Let You Down" be an indicator that she has finally found happiness?! First of all, the song is in a major key, unlike most of her material, and it sounds more upbeat than the rest of her material, too. As if that wasn't enough of a not-so-indie move for the only indie-folk singer to share my mom's first name, she has also performed the song on Ellen DeGeneres' show, and rumor has it that this song was inspired by the feel-good '80s family flick, "Overboard" (one of my guilty pleasures!!) Rest assured, though, the song still feels mellow and folk-y enough to be considered legit in Sharon Van Etten's catalog, and her signature moaning vocals are still present on this track as well.

"Kathleen" by Catfish and The Bottlemen: Between their European sounding name and their similarity in sound to some of the harder rocking Oasis songs, one of the first things I wondered about Catfish and The Bottlemen when I first heard their song "Kathleen" was whether or not they were British. Well, it turned out I was close! They are a Welsh group. You don't hear the phrase "Welsh garage rock" or even "Welsh alternative rock" very often, so perhaps Catfish and The Bottlemen are trendsetters in this regard (only time will tell). The chorus of the song, in which lead singer Van McCann defiantly states, "I've gotta give it to you, you give me problems!" also seems typical of the garage rock genre. I wonder what other musical treasures Wales has to offer us!

"Leaf Off/The Cave" by Jose Gonzalez: In the 2010's, Jose Gonzalez has been active with his band, Junip, but he hasn't done anything solo since 2008. Though Junip was a good band, I much prefer the gentle, Nick Drake-esque brand of folk-rock that Jose had by himself. His latest solo song, "Leaf Off/The Cave" returns to the magic Jose did by himself during the mid to late 2000's. From its enchanting sound to its hopeful lyrics ("let the light lead you out"), "Leaf Off/The Cave" is bound to be a winner among Jose's biggest fans, and then some. Don't be fooled by the title. First of all, it has nothing to do with Mumford and Sons' "The Cave" as I thought it did before I actually heard it, and "Leaf Off/The Cave" is actually one song, not two, in spite of how the title makes it look. I regularly try to look for songs I can listen to to calm me down, but this is one of the most calming I have heard in quite awhile! Highly recommended!!

"Pedestrian At Best" by Courtney Barnett: Wait, which "Courtney" IS this?! Courtney Barnett or Courtney Love?! It kinda sounds like the vocals of the former mixed with the music and mood of the latter!! From Barnett's "Avant Gardener", I expected all of her songs to sound kinda deadpan, but "Pedestrian At Best" is anything but! It has an almost punk rock sound, with its defiant guitar playing, one-chord verses, and two-chord chorus, which is somewhat derivative of the early Kings of Leon tune, "Molly's Chambers". Barnett's sing-speaking and ranting vaguely recall Mike Muir's paranoid, enraged vocal style in Suicidal Tendencies' "Institutionalized"! I haven't seen anyone go from mellow to angry this quickly since Marianne Faithfull (likely one of Courtney Barnett's influences)!!

"Take My Love" by The Lone Bellow: So far, "Take My Love" is the closest that folk-rockers, The Lone Bellow, have gotten to electric guitar oriented music, but the Bellow have still kept their mellow on this one. It seems like sounding like Bruce Springsteen has become a rite of passage for many indie-folk/indie-pop bands lately (Killers, Hold Steady, Gaslight Anthem, War on Drugs, and Arcade Fire all rank among them). This is probably the first Springsteen-esque song that The Lone Bellow have attempted. It not only sounds like one of The Boss's songs, but it also seems to echo the passion and honest lyrical content that he usually had.

"What Kind of Man" by Florence and The Machine: Flo and her magic Machine are truly one of the most eclectic bands to have emerged in the 2010's. Their blend of folk, rock, soul, gospel, and new wave has been unmatched so far! Their eclecticism seems to come full circle in "What Kind of Man", which starts as a whispery, dark hymnal, but quickly turns into the sort of new wave-y dance-rock song you might expect from INXS, or perhaps even Prince. Guitar isn't usually a central instrument in Florence and The Machine's music, but it takes on a very important role in "What Kind of Man" from the first minute on. "What kind of man loves like this?" Flo implores throughout the chorus. The more important question is, "What kind of man (or woman) doesn't love this music?!"

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

New songs for February 11th, 2014

here they are:

"Blame It On Me" by George Ezra: George Ezra may be a newcomer onto the indie-folk scene, but he draws from influences both young and old. The Mumford-esque "Budapest" was a huge hit for George during the fall, and his followup single, "Blame It On Me" seems like it is poised to take on the charts for late winter/early spring of 2015! "Blame It On Me" has a bouncy rhythm that could be compared to some of Paul Simon's solo work. "What you waiting for, what you waiting for?" George sings during the chorus. George, we're waiting for this song to take over the world!! Or the radio, at least.

"I'll Make Time For You" by Kristin Diable: This song will probably be enjoyable to those who like female-fronted indie-pop songs, as this seems to be a cross between the snarky vocals of Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis and the old school soul of Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard. As both the verses and the chorus revolve around a basic, three chord structure, there isn't anything particularly exciting about this song, except when the psychedelically tinged guitar solo comes in the middle of it and diverts from the main chord sequence in the song. A good one nonetheless, though.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

New songs for February 4th, 2015

here they are:

"Black Sun" by Death Cab for Cutie: Whenever Death Cab releases a new song (or new album, even) it always ends up making a big splash on adult alt radio stations, so naturally, their latest song, "Black Sun", is following in the footsteps of their other material. So how good is this song REALLY?! Well, honestly, I always like when they do folk-rock-y material the best, and "Black Sun" sounds a bit more like the sort of "experimental" track that a band like Radiohead might put out, albeit with a bit more musical consistency. That being said, I think they've done better. However, it is definitely not a bad song by any means. The use of synthesizer during the chorus is rather atypical for Death Cab, but the meandering, neo-psychedelic sound of the majority of the song vaguely recalls other DCFC songs like "Meet Me On the Equinox". Was Death Cab's comeback for 2015 worth it?! You be the judge. I personally think there's gonna be more in store for the band as the year progresses.

"Sedona" by Houndmouth: Houndmouth's music recalls the country-folk-blues-rock gumbo of both newcomers like Alabama Shakes and legendary groups like The Band. At least it DID for the songs on their first album. Their latest song, "Sedona", seems to be making a slightly conscious effort to sound more "indie" than their previous material. The lyrics still have a country flair (such as "John Ford said, 'Won't you hop on in, in a stagecoach, baby, gonna take you for a spin'"), and their quaint descriptions of big cities (like "hey, little Hollywood", in the chorus) tend to keep their imagery similar to what it was on their debut. I dunno about you, but to me, "Sedona" is less like The Band and more like Band of Horses. Still worth listening to, though.