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.