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.