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.