Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Top 20 of 2016!!!

Here it is, folks! The moment you've all been waiting for! Counting 'em down from 20 to 1!! Here we go:

20. "I Need Never Get Old" - Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats
19. "Spirits" - The Strumbellas
18. "Mess Around" - Cage the Elephant
17. "Casual Party" - Band of Horses
16. "Wish I Knew You" - The Revivalists
15. "When the Tequila Runs Out" - Dawes
14. "Trouble" - Cage the Elephant
13. "Move" - Saint Motel
12. "Under the Influence" - Elle King
11. "I Can't Stop Thinking About You" - Sting
10. "Ditmas" - Mumford and Sons
9. "Cleopatra" - The Lumineers
8. "Pretty Pimpin'" - Kurt Vile
7. "Ain't No Man" - The Avett Brothers
6. "All We Ever Knew" - The Head and The Heart
5. "Fire" - Barns Courtney
4. "Off the Ground" - The Record Company
3. "Waste A Moment" - Kings of Leon
2. "Dark Necessities" - Red Hot Chili Peppers

annndddd....the number one song of the year is...


Well, that's it! See ya next year everyone!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

New songs for December 14th, 2016

here they are:

"Back Against the Wall" by Son Volt: Son Volt have come a long way from their days in the mid '90s as a rowdier country-rock group with their minor alt-rock radio song, "Drown". They've become a lot quieter and sadder since then. "Back Against the Wall" is probably one of the most bittersweet songs Son Volt have recorded. Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that the album it's from is called "Notes of Blue". Maybe we'll get an entire album of bittersweet ballads from the alt-country quintet! "Back Against the Wall" is not without clues of the band's rock 'n' roll past, though, as it does contain a ragged, Neil Young-esque guitar solo towards the middle and end of it.

"Do You Still Love Me?" by Ryan Adams: It's not often that one of the most heavily anticipated songs of the year comes in December, yet Ryan Adams' latest song is now getting airplay on 25 adult alt stations, and it only took less than a week of the song's existence for people to fall head over heels in love with it! Why is this, you ask?! Well, it's because "Do You Still Love Me?" is one of those songs that just grabs you by the neck and proclaims its power right on the spot as soon as you hear it! The song is performed in an arena-rock-cum-roots-rock style, not unlike certain songs by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and John Mellencamp, and it has one of the most boastful guitar solos ever known in a Ryan Adams tune! Do we still love you, Ryan?! You bet we do! Keep coming out with songs like this one and we'll only love you more!

"Painting (Masterpiece)" by Lewis del Mar: Lewis del Mar is not one person, but two people, in spite of how their moniker might sound at first. Their debut song, "Painting (Masterpiece)", is as colorful as its title makes it sound, both musically and lyrically. The thumping C sharp bass note in the beginning of the song makes it sound a little similar to Everclear's "Father of Mine", albeit a lot less grungy and a lot more...ummm...indie...tronic?! (It's hard to come up with a term to describe what their music sounds like, haha). The lyrics of "Painting (Masterpiece)" use a lot of color related imagery, particularly during the chorus. To this, I can only say that although it might not be easy to be green, I don't feel blue about it. As a matter of fact, I'm tickled pink!

"Radio Kids" by Strand of Oaks: Strand of Oaks sure are radio kids, too! Their breakthrough song, "Goshen '97", talked about "singing Pumpkins" (as in Smashing) "in the mirror". In "Radio Kids", the arena rock of the '80s collides with a chord progression that sounds similar to "Morning Glory" by Oasis from the '90s. Strand of Oaks really know their stuff, clearly. "Play it, play it, loud on the radio!" lead singer Timothy Showalter pleads urgently during the chorus of "Radio Kids". Don't worry, Tim. We'll be blasting this song from our radios loud and clear for the next few months, at least! Thus ends this year's blog posts (besides the yearly Top 20) with a big, loud, rock 'n' roll BANG!! See ya next year, all you crazy music lovers!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New songs for November 23rd, 2016

here they are:

"Cocoon" by Milky Chance: Yes, this is the same German folk-funk-rock duo who brought you the 2014 smash hit, "Stolen Dance". "Stolen Dance" was a great song, but knowing how Milky Chance's second big hit, "Flashed Junk Mind", was basically a copy of that song, I wasn't sure how Milky Chance would fare with a third big song in their repertoire. Thankfully, "Cocoon" is a good song. It employs the same combo of acoustic guitar strumming and hip-hop beats as their others, but it's not in the same key, making it distinct from "Stolen Dance" and "Flashed Junk Mind". The use of an electric guitar riff as a backing instrumental sound during the chorus (and even a brief electric guitar solo in the middle) also gives "Cocoon" a fresh enough flavor for Milky Chance's fans to fall in love with their music all over again.

"Come" by Jain: Jain is a French singer/songwriter whose name is probably pronounced like "John", but with a sound like the "-sio" part of the word "television" at the beginning instead of the "J" sound. Her breakthrough song, "Come", is like a fusion of different genres coming together into a single piece of music. It utilizes elements of electronica, folk music, jazz, and various types of world music. Its chorus, consisting of the words, "come and I'll show you the world", seems to be a wide-eyed idealistic romp inviting the soul of the listener to explore his/her surroundings in a playful yet all-knowing manner. If you thought music was running out of originality, you might wanna take a listen to this song!

"On Hold" by The xx: For those unfamiliar with the following indie-pop group, their name is not pronounced "the twenty" (XX is Roman numerals for 20), and nor is it some strange pronunciation like "the chk chk" or "the double asterisk". It is pronounced "the ex ex", exactly how it looks. Much like fellow indie-pop group, Warpaint, did earlier this fall, The xx are an already beloved indie group whose latest song is a bit more electro-pop than their fans are used to. That song, "On Hold", filters Andy Summers-esque guitar riffs through an artificially processed electro-pop beat. The switching between male and female lead vocals gives this song an interesting touch that is often more associated with folk-rock than it is with electro-pop. There is a rather dreamy, hypnotic ambiance about this song that most electro-pop groups don't have, with the notable exception of Ben Gibbard's side project, The Postal Service.

"You And I" by Colony House: Colony House are an indie-pop quartet whose sound is similar to what Imagine Dragons or American Authors might sound like if U2's The Edge was their guitarist. The song doesn't bring a whole lot of originality to the table, although it does get interesting in the middle of the song when its beat becomes a bit more slowed down and unsteady. Perhaps unsteadiness was the vibe they were trying to give off in this song, though, as it is a song about trying to cope with a fragile and volatile world. During the chorus, they place the blame on themselves ("Maybe the world isn't crazy. Maybe it's you and I") instead of the rest of the world. If only that was somehow true.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye! R.I.P. Leonard Cohen (and 3 other songs)

Just received the news last week that Leonard Cohen is no longer alive. Since he also released a new song recently, I will do the honors of reviewing his latest (and last) song. What a major loss for this year! Before that, though, here are 3 more songs:

"Follow the Leader" by Foxygen: You never know what to expect with Foxygen, and perhaps that's what's made them so big among indie fans. They debuted back in early 2013, and highlights from their debut album included the avant-funk-rock song "Shuggie" and the Velvet Underground-esque "No Destruction". "Follow the Leader" marks the third time I've heard a Foxygen song and the first time I'm reviewing one. The results end up sounding like a cross between an Electric Light Orchestra song circa 1976 and a Beck song circa 1996. Also, who is "the leader" that we are supposed to be following here? Well, according to the lyrics of this song, "the leader is you". That's great advice for the modern era!

"Human" by Rag N Bone Man: Between the hip-hop beats of this song and Rory "Rag N Bone Man" Graham's deep, soulful voice, it's not surprising to see that many of the YouTube comments for this song were "I can't believe this guy isn't black". Well, he isn't. He isn't even American, actually. He's a large, white British dude. But so what?! Black, white, large, short, British, American, when it all comes down to it, he's only human, as he states so powerfully and emotionally in his debut song! In addition to transcending racial barriers, "Human" also transcends genre barriers, with its hip-hop and R & B influenced sound currently racing up the predominantly rock dominated alternative charts. Music, after all, is colorblind, and it doesn't judge people in any other ways either.

"Lost On You" by LP: It's been 4 years since LP last had a hit song. She broke through in the summer of 2012 with a free-spirited folk-rock tune called "Into the Wild", which, in addition to its iconic sound, contained equally iconic lyrics, like, "Somebody left the gate open", "Come save us a runaway train goin' insane", and "How do we not fade away into the wild?" Its use in a Citibank commercial throughout that summer solidified the song's popularity during that time. She didn't have any other hits that year or the next, so I thought "Into the Wild" pretty much sealed the deal for LP and that there was no way she could top it. It appears I may be wrong with the release of her latest song, "Lost On You". Like "Into the Wild", "Lost On You" is a sprightly, earnest folk-rock song, though its sound and lyrics are both a bit more melancholy than that one was. True to its title, "Lost On You" has been lost on American audiences so far, at least in comparison to the massive airplay its gotten in European countries like Greece. Let's hope that American audiences will catch onto it just as quickly!

"You Want It Darker" by Leonard Cohen: And now, the moment you've all been waiting for. You should know that with a title like "You Want It Darker", dark is exactly what you're gonna get. This song is a gothic tinged folk-rock tune of sorts, a bit like the songs Cohen typically did in the 1980's. As ominous as it may sound instrumentally, though, it's a very sad song lyrically. Like David Bowie's "Lazarus" from late last year, Leonard Cohen's "You Want It Darker" is a song that deals with a person who knows that they are going to die soon (This is most certainly where the "I'm ready, my Lord" parts of the song come from). Like Bowie, Cohen inspired generation after generation of alt and indie rock musicians. People that Cohen has influenced include R.E.M., The Smiths, Jeff Buckley, Elliott Smith, and Bon Iver, all of whom mix a folk-rock sound with lyrics about isolation and loneliness. R.I.P. Leonard Cohen. You will truly be missed!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

New songs for November 2nd, 2015

here they are:

"Katchi" by Nick Waterhouse and Leon Bridges: What happens when a critically acclaimed surf-rock revivalist gets together with a critically acclaimed revivalist of '60s soul music?! You get one heck of a jazzy song, that's what! The "retro" flavor of "Katchi" is further enforced by its vocalized "doo-wop-a-doo-wop, dooby dooby doo-wop" opening. With its rhythmically choppy chords and blazin' hot sax, "Katchi" is pure retro-rockin' bliss! Just one question. What IS "Katchi"?! Nick Waterhouse says that his girl "gives him Katchi all night long" during the chorus but never explains what "Katchi" is. I guess I'll just leave that up to my imagination!!

"Rhythm and Blues" by The Head and The Heart: Since the more-successful-than-usual airplay The Head and The Heart had from their pop-iest song yet, "All We Ever Knew", I was curious nonetheless to find out what other songs on their newest album sounded like. "Library Magic" and "Colors" would not have been bad choices for the second single, but instead its "Rhythm and Blues", which is anything BUT a rhythm and blues song. As a matter of fact, it sounds almost as pop-y as "All We Ever Knew" did, except during its out-of-nowhere electric guitar solo. The song contains the lyrics "stepped on my blue suede shoes, you made Elvis go crazy", except it doesn't sound a THING like Elvis (Costello or Presley). The group's heart may be in the right place, but their head isn't. Oh well, one out of two ain't bad, right?

"S.O.S. (Overboard)" by Joseph: The all-girl indie-folk trio Joseph send an S.O.S. to the world in their second single (and apparently it goes overboard). Much like "Message In A Bottle" from decades before, "S.O.S." is a song that uses nautical metaphors to describe isolation from a loved one. While nowhere near as catchy (or literary) as The Police, Joseph's "S.O.S." is a fun song in its own right. The seaworthy metaphors in Joseph's song show up mostly in the chorus, with lyrics like "screaming underwater" and "alone and overboard".

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

New songs for October 26th, 2016

here they are:

"Astral Plane" by Valerie June: Do you notice something different about Valerie June's latest song?! It doesn't have the roots-y flavor she usually goes for in her songs, but there is a very good reason for this. That is because "Astral Plane" was a song that was originally written for the smooth-jazz influenced trip-hop group, Massive Attack. "Trip-hop", for those who aren't familiar with it, is basically like a smooth, ethereal, and jazzy form of alternative pop music with electronics as backing instruments. There are no electronic instruments backing Valerie's version of "Astral Plane", but it still manages to maintain the billowy, blissful beauty of what Massive Attack's music typically sounds like. Much like Van Morrison's similarly titled "Astral Weeks", "Astral Plane" is a magical musical trip to heaven written in A major that's guaranteed to soothe all your troubled nerves!

"Glitter And Gold" by Barns Courtney: Throughout both the spring AND summer of this year, Barns Courtney had an unexpected but oh-so-catchy hit song with the blazing, hot song, "Fire", on both the alt and adult alt charts. It was only a few weeks ago that the possibility of a second Barns Courtney hit was hinted at, but perhaps I should have figured this was coming with "Fire" being one of the most successful songs of 2016. His newest song is called "Glitter And Gold" and contains a similar mix of blues-y spirituals and rock and roll attitude. "Glitter And Gold" is already pretty catchy and the vocalized "ting ting" in the chorus of the song brings a bit of humor along for the ride as well. "Glitter And Gold" seems to be about the desire for fame, but I doubt Barns really has such a desire anymore now that he's GOTTEN it! With "Glitter And Gold", his 15 minutes of fame might have just expanded to 30!

"Here In Spirit" by Jim James: Jim James is like the bearded roots-y folk-rock version of David Bowie in some ways. He's not afraid to experiment with other sounds and he's able to sound sweet and heavenly just as much as he is brooding and scary. Jim's "Here In Spirit" attempts to have a more heavenly sound, albeit with an R & B sounding backbeat. Fitting to its title, "Here In Spirit" has a rather spiritual message of peace and love, apt to the neo-hippie image Jim James has attempted to cultivate. As a warning to those who get lulled into James' hypnotic musical trance, there is a "hiccup" in either the keyboards or the percussion at about 3 and a half minutes into the song. It should be a smooth ride otherwise, though.

"In A Drawer" by Band of Horses: It's been awhile since we last heard Band of Horses come up with a solid ballad, and "In A Drawer" is proof that BOH still have potential to be a calmer band at times. The song's odd title seems to be a reference to all the memories that Ben Bridwell keeps finding throughout the song (he finds them in a drawer). As such, the song has a rather bittersweet, nostalgic quality. "Casual Party" might have been a more likely song to hook BOH fans into listening to a new record by them due to its catchiness, but I would have preferred to have "In A Drawer" as the first single off their new album. And who, you might be wondering, is that scraggly, quavering voice singing beside Ben during the chorus? Well that just so happens to be none other than J. Mascis, the lead singer of the legendary proto-indie and pre-grunge group, Dinosaur Jr. Pretty cool, huh?!

"Shine" by Mondo Cozmo: Our last entry of the week comes from the only group of musicians making their debut onto the blog. The other four have had entries on my blog before, but not Mondo Cozmo. Their name alone sounds pretty intriguing, doesn't it?! Well, wait 'till you hear their music! Although folk-rock is precious to me in general, I must admit that I haven't been THIS impressed by a folk-rock song since Mumford and Sons debuted back in 2010! (Or when The Tallest Man on Earth broke through 2 years later). There's something very striking and poignant about Mondo Cozmo's "Shine". Perhaps it's the chord progression or the way it's being played. Perhaps it's the "everything will be alright if you let it go" refrain in the chorus that can lend itself to multiple interpretations. Maybe it could even be the echoic choir sound that comes through as the song builds up. Whatever it is, though, "Shine" does exactly what its title suggests it would do, and how!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

New songs for October 19th, 2016

here they are:

"Just Your Fool" by The Rolling Stones: It is in this song that The Stones have gone back to doing what they do best. Playin' the blues! "Just Your Fool" is a straight up blues number that sounds like something that could have easily been from the mid to late '60s. Using the same basic chord progression as many blues-rock numbers, such as Bob Dylan's "Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat", "Just Your Fool" is an earthy but catchy shuffle that could be lauded, in the musical sense, as the "sequel" song to their much longer and more grisly '69 blues-rock romp, "Midnight Rambler".

"Let Me Get There" by Hope Sandoval (featuring Kurt Vile): What do you get when you cross the lead singer of the blissful yet angst-y '90s avant-folk-rock group Mazzy Star with the lead singer of 2010's avant-folk-rock group The War on Drugs? You end up with something that recalls what a psychedelic, fuzz-drenched Fleetwood Mac might have been like, which is an accurate description for Mazzy Star as well. "Let Me Get There" creates a musical bridge between blissful soft rock harmonies and droning, strung-out psychedelia. This song is essentially a magic carpet ride for the mind that lasts for 7 and a half minutes. Hope's honey-sweet vocals tend to contrast a bit with the deep, creaky "dude" vocals of Kurt, but for anyone who wants to relive Woodstock and/or the Monterey Pop Festival, "Let Me Get There" will probably be a treat.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

2 Girls, A Blog, and October

How much better can you get?! Anyway, here are this week's songs:

"Emotions And Math" by Margaret Glaspy: Emotions and math?! I thought those were two completely different things!! That's like saying "chemistry and Shakespeare" to me. I guess the concept of two radically different heads being better than one is a good way to describe "Emotions And Math", the second single from raspy, angst-ridden indie gal, Margaret Glaspy. The song would fit pretty well lyrically with any song from Liz Phair's "Exile In Guyville", yet it also has a funky bass line that one might not typically associate with a musician like Phair. The title comes from Glaspy's description of what she thinks her love life is in the chorus of the song: "an ice cold bath of emotions and math". In other words, love is confusing and hard to handle. Yeah, we hear ya loud and clear, Maggie.

"Not Gonna Let You Walk Away" by LoLo: No, the name "LoLo" has nothing to do with "LOL" or any other sort of Internet slang. It is actually a nickname for the name "Lauren", singer Lauren Pritchard, specifically. LoLo's sound is as memorable as her unique moniker. Her debut single, "Not Gonna Let You Walk Away", mixes Alabama Shakes-ish distortion and alterna-soul vibes with the choppy syncopation on every even numbered beat that reggae music is known for having. LoLo's smoky, husky white-girl-with-soul vocals are the cherry on top of the cake that is "Not Gonna Let You Walk Away", a yearning mid-tempo ballad that put's LoLo's ex in a corner of guilt in a way that sounds more lovesick than it does accusatory.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

New songs for October 5th, 2016

here they are:

"Classic Masher" by The Pixies: "Classic" is right when it comes to describing the music of The Pixies! Bands like Nirvana, R.E.M., Radiohead, and even Weezer wouldn't exactly be where they are without 'em. Their last album wasn't actually released that long ago, but it didn't receive near as much attention as this one has. The Pixies' odd but endearing combo of arena rock sized hooks and garage rock distortion and attitude returns big time with their latest song, "Classic Masher". Like many Pixies songs, this one doesn't exactly have a clear narrative upon its first listen, but with a band as innovative and quirky as they are, what does it matter?! As The Smashing Pumpkins (yet another Pixies influenced group) once said in their song, "Cherub Rock", "Hipsters, unite!"

"Longer" by Lydia Loveless: Lydia is a musician who really puts the "rock" in country-rock! She is loved by alt-rock legends, The Replacements, and even met their bassist, and the opening to Lydia's latest song, "Longer", sounds a bit like the roots-y indie group, The Gaslight Anthem. Those awesomely cheesy guitar riffs that play in between each line also make this song well worth the listen, I think. "Longer" is as bittersweet as it is just plain bitter, as if Lydia can't decide whether to be "Loveless" (get it?) or love-lost!

"Mama Can't Help You" by Doyle Bramhall II: You may not know who Doyle Bramhall II is, but he has worked with rock legends like Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, and he also happens to be Renee Zellweger's current boyfriend. How's THAT for credibility?! Bramhall II is a smooth, slick combination of rock and soul that doesn't sound too far off from Eric Clapton and also bears similarity to other '60s and '70s blues-rock acts like Canned Heat, The Allman Brothers Band, and Little Feat. If this doesn't get your toes a-tappin', I dunno what will! This is the perfect song to satisfy both your groovy side and your rockin' side!

"33 God" by Bon Iver: This song is about as weird as its title sounds! I mean what does "33 God" even MEAN?! However, it is weird in a good way (kind of), I assure you! To give you an idea of how weird this song is, imagine if a Kate Bush song was being remixed by an electronica group led by Alvin and The Chipmunks. Ummm...yeah. I could do without the electronic remixing and those messed up chipmunk vocals, but the soft, delicate piano is definitely something I would both expect and welcome from Bon Iver. This is a good song, but I'd kinda like Justin Vernon and co to release a "piano-and-Justin-Vernon-vocals-only" version of this song. If they did, I'd gladly start playing that in regular rotation instead of this version. I guess good things come to those who wait, though.

"Washed Up Together" by Knox Hamilton: Knox Hamilton are proof that the "sophomore slump" is still goin' on. Their first song, "Work It Out", was kind of a pop-y song, but with plenty of juicy guitar riffs to please a guitarist like me. "Washed Up Together" has guitar hooks as well, but they don't sound near as distinct as the ones from "Work It Out" (and no unusual instruments like xylophones in the intro to "Washed Up Together" either). Perhaps it was KH's desire to win the approval of Katy Perry (which they did) for "Washed Up Together" that makes it sound...well...washed up! Oh well, at least they sound washed up TOGETHER! Besides, nothing wrong with liking catchy pop songs once in awhile, is there?!

"Wasting Time" by Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats: More sophomore slumps here, and with a band who has made just one ALBUM, at that! Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats have now had three singles in a row with a solid gold Memphis soul influenced sound (most notably the enjoyably rowdy "S.O.B.") Their not-yet-a-single, "Howlin' At Nothin'", is pretty solid retro-soul music as well. So why, then, is the fourth single from NRATNS the super-mellow, country influenced, "Wasting Time"? As a fifth single, it probably wouldn't have been a bad choice, but come on! Part of the reason I dig their music so much in the first place is for their relentlessly high energy that they have in their songs, of which "Wasting Time" has none. I'm not hating on this song, though. "Wasting Time" has a similar acoustic guitar riff to one of my fave folk/country-rock tunes, "The Weight" by The Band, and it's a good song to just chill to after a long, hard, busy day. "Wasting Time" is not a waste of time, but it is the weak little runt in a litter of otherwise rowdy piglets.

"We Don't Know" by The Strumbellas: We don't know if you'll like the latest song from folk-pop group, The Strumbellas. What we do know, though, is that if bands like The Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men are up your alley, that you'll probably like "We Don't Know". The same could probably be said if you happen to be a fan of groups like Imagine Dragons and Kaleo, which combine folk, rock, and electronica into one catchy, alt-pop-y package. Despite the uncertainty indicated in the song's title, "We Don't Know" is largely a song of hope, particularly during the part where they say, "If there's hope then we'll be okay." Pleasant, buoyant, optimistic folk-pop has been done many times before now, but it doesn't hurt to hear something like that again every now and then.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

New songs for September 28th, 2016

here they are:

"Breath And Burning" by Phish: Who knew that one of the catchiest and most anticipated songs of the week would come from a band who has become known for being a Grateful Dead soundalike band?! Perhaps that's because there's not a lot of folk and bluegrass influence to be found on "Breath And Burning" as much as there is Stax R & B influence, with more than a passing resemblance to Van Morrison's jazz-rock ditty, "Domino". The lyrics of "Breath And Burning" are typical Phish, containing quasi-philosophical musings on how we come in and out of existence, but it's the musical delivery of "Breath And Burning" that truly makes it worth listening to. It is a soulful rock 'n' roll party unlike any other you may experience this year!

"Go Robot" by Red Hot Chili Peppers: Though "Dark Necessities" was a rather reflective and dialed back song for RHCP, it became one of the biggest hits of 2016. Can "Go Robot" manage to top the success of that song?! Knowing how loudly Flea turns up his bass on this track and how catchy the rhythm of the song is, there's every chance that it might! Aside from how funky the music of "Go Robot" is, its music video is funky as well! As a matter of fact, the video appears to be a spoof of "Saturday Night Fever". The video can be viewed here:

"True Sadness" by The Avett Brothers: For a song with the word "sadness" in the title, "True Sadness" sure is upbeat! What is wrong with Scott and Seth that has made them release a happy song with a sad title?! Well, nothing really. It's been done before. This is one of those songs where you just wouldn't know the real nature of it unless you listened closely enough to the lyrics of the song. "True Sadness" seems to mark the leap for The Avett Brothers from being alt-country to being more of a Southern rock group, which is interesting considering that other previously alt-country groups like Jamestown Revival and Shovels & Rope have taken the same route. Perhaps The Avetts are trendsetters of sorts in that regard.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

New songs for September 14th 2016

here they are:

"Holy Commotion" by The Pretenders: Yes, THOSE Pretenders! The legendary rock group led by the sometimes sassy and sometimes sentimental Chrissie Hynde. Chrissie attempted a side project in 2010 and released a solo album two years ago, but she hasn't been on the scene with The Pretenders in 8 years! Just about everything she's done within those 8 years has echoes of her rock and roll past. "Holy Commotion" is kinda rock, but with a different twist than one might expect from The Pretenders. The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach has decided to produce their latest album, resulting in a fuzzy neo-psychedelic sound that also has synthesizers masquerading as skittering steel drums. I currently have mixed feelings about this song, but it's not a bad one, and I think in time it'll probably grow on me like many of the songs I've reviewed have.

"Packed Powder" by Blind Pilot: After hearing the buoyant but glossy "Umpqua Rushing" from earlier this summer, "Packed Powder" is a more straight-up folk-rock tune that seems to encapsulate the simplistic yet alluring sound that Blind Pilot are typically known for. It also provides a more subtle, autumnal song for the upcoming season as the happy, blissful "Umpqua Rushing" did for the summer. "Packed Powder" also has a fittingly introspective lyrical theme about trying to find yourself and knowing your strengths. The electric guitar solo and horn solo towards the end don't seem too out of place for this song, actually, even though it is primarily an acoustic rock tune.

"Radio" by Sylvan Esso: Lyrically, this is basically Elvis Costello's "Radio Radio" minus the repetition of the titular word, with its mentions of being a "slave to the radio" and its claims that the subject of the song is "sucking American d**k". Musically, though, "Radio" is neither punk nor power pop. Instead, it's more of a glammed out techno-pop song. Both the fast beat of this song and its scathing (albeit still quirky) lyrics are quite a surprise coming from the indie-pop duo who was previously best known for the quaint, slow pseudo-baroque-pop summer singalong known as "Coffee".

"Sure And Certain" by Jimmy Eat World: Though Jimmy Eat World's biggest hit, "The Middle", came out in 2001, the song quickly became a favorite of the last remaining fans of the post-grunge genre. Unlike most of the post-grunge influenced bands of the early '00s, Jimmy Eat World was not "nu-metal". Instead, they were an emo group, albeit with more of a subtle sense of humor than most groups who carried such a label. "Sure And Certain" might as well have come out DURING the post-grunge era. It wouldn't sound out of place on a rock radio station that was popular in 1996, '97, or '98. If it weren't for Jim Adkins' distinctive vocals, "Sure And Certain" could easily be in the hands of a band like Semisonic, Third Eye Blind, or Everclear. Familiar '90s rock hits like Dishwalla's "Counting Blue Cars" and Tonic's "If You Could Only See" are both pretty similar to "Sure And Certain" as well. So grab some flannel, put on your Doc Martens, and let's rock!

"Surrender Under Protest" by Drive-by Truckers: "Southern rock" is usually remembered specifically as a musical phenomenon of the 1970's. The three biggest names within the genre, after all, are typically The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and ZZ Top. The only other time it was really kept alive was in the early '90s by The Black Crowes. This basically makes Drive-by Truckers seem like a 21st century answer to The Black Crowes to me. There haven't been a whole lot of other groups from the past 16 years who have really kept the Southern rock sound so fresh and alive. Their latest song, "Surrender Under Protest", in spite of its overall Southern sound, does not evoke the music of a Southerner, but rather, a Canadian. Both the vocals and the instrumentation of "Surrender Under Protest" sound like Neil Young. In spite of DBT's Southern nationality, they are not right-wingers, but left-wingers, and "Surrender Under Protest" reflects their left-wing politics like no other song they've done so far. The song contains anti-slavery and anti-Second Amendment sentiments that would probably bode better with Neil Young fans than it would with Lynyrd Skynyrd fans.

"Waste A Moment" by Kings of Leon: In true rock fashion, Kings of Leon make a dynamic musical declaration using only two chords with their latest song, "Waste A Moment". Caleb Followill's urgent message of "take your time, don't waste a moment" during the chorus pretty much states what the point of the song is. KOL do not waste a single moment making a buzzingly catchy song like they usually do here. This is one of those songs that is just ripe and ready for radio airplay from the moment it is released, so it'll probably wind up being one of the biggest hits of Fall 2016!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

New songs for September 7th, 2016

here they are:

"I Can't Stop Thinking About You" by Sting: Seems to me that this song is proof that Sting doesn't really wanna be thought of as a "new age" solo artist anymore! Instead he turns up the amps on his latest tune, the somewhat U2-ish "I Can't Stop Thinking About You", which is kinda funny considering how his own daughter released a vaguely Police-influenced tune just a month before! It may not rock as hard as, say, "Roxanne" or "Message In A Bottle", but it still comes awfully close to sounding like a "Synchronicity" outtake, which is not a bad thing by any means! I can't help but wonder who the "you" is in the song, also. At the end of the chorus, he says, "I don't even care if you exist", even though he can't stop thinking about the person in question. Perhaps this song is a philosophical rumination of sorts?! Well, I guess the more I get to know this song, the more I'll find out about it, and I'm sure I'll hear it plenty more times since it's already on its way to making the Top 20 of the Adult Alt charts for the fall season!

"Wish That You Were Here" by Florence and The Machine: Flo meets Tim Burton!! An epic combination if there ever was one!! No, I'm not saying that Tim Burton is duetting with Florence Welch (though that'd probably be pretty cool, too). I'm saying that FATM's latest song, "Wish That You Were Here", was made specifically for the soundtrack of Tim Burton's latest film, "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children". "Wish That You Were Here" is a melancholy plea for love and acceptance that lasts for 6 and a half minutes, despite only consisting of two verses and a bridge. The minor key the song is written in, the sweeping effect of the baroque-pop styled orchestral instruments, and its chilling, lonesome atmosphere all add up to a song that feels like a trip into the sadder side of Florence Welch's mind, and perhaps that of Tim Burton's as well.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

New songs for August 31st 2016

here they are:

"Ain't Nothin' Wrong With That" by The Marcus King Band: Marcus maybe a South Carolinian 19-year-old, but he plays like a New Orleans jazzman that's at least as old as '70s swamp-rock sensation, Dr. John. Marcus' debut song, "Ain't Nothin' Wrong With That", is guaranteed to have your feet movin' within minutes, if not seconds! This song is so authentic in its emulation of New Orleans jazz that it makes you feel like you're right there in Louisiana, even if you've never been there! (Confession: I haven't been there). Can ya dig it?!

"I Can't Believe I Found You In That Town" by Mike Doughty: You never know what to expect with a musician like Mike Doughty, do you?! It's usually something vaguely folk-y, but typically mixed with some other genre(s) as well. Doughty's latest song, which bears the nine-word-long title, "I Can't Believe I Found You In That Town", is a jaunty country-rock stomper that is slightly reminiscent of old Johnny Cash songs, albeit with an indie-folk slant. "I Can't Believe I Found You..." could be said to be the ultimate failed romance song, lyrically. It centers around someone whom Mike found attractive but came on too strong around, both of which supposedly happened within a 36-hour time span. Talk about a one-shot romance!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

New songs for August 24th 2016

here they are:

"City Lights" by The White Stripes: Meg and Jack haven't done anything together since 2007! Actually, "City Lights" is a previously unreleased song by the dynamic duo of modern garage rock that was first recorded in 2005 that never got an official album release until now. Fans of The White Stripes were probably anticipating a fuzzy blast of punk-blues, but "City Lights" is kind of the opposite of that. It is a bittersweet sounding folk-rock song with acoustic guitar at the forefront, light percussion in the background, and not much else (aside from Jack's vocals, of course). As for what the song is all about? A few fans have interpreted as a sad breakup letter that Jack wrote to Meg.

"Move" by Saint Motel: Sometimes it only takes one word to set things in motion, and in this case, that word is "move"! "Move" is exactly what you will want to do to Saint Motel's latest song, which deftly combines disco and alt-pop, much like their 2015 smash hit, "My Type", did. The disco element is a bit more emphasized in "Move", from its funky rhythm to its heavy use of brass, right down to how the "gotta get up" in the chorus sounds like a vocalized version of the sax riff in The Average White Band's "Pick Up the Pieces". Let's get down tonight!

"When the Tequila Runs Out" by Dawes: This is the second time that Dawes have had a song with the word "when" as the first word in the title of one of their songs, the first being "When My Time Comes". If you play the two songs back to back, though, you'd swear you were hearing two different bands! It seems as though, through their 7 years together so far, Dawes have really progressed as a band, going from the roots-y folk-rock of their debut to the pseudo-psychedelic pop sound of their latest song. "When the Tequila Runs Out", fittingly, has a rather boozy vibe, at least as far as its fuzz drenched guitars are concerned. The song is basically an ode to getting drunk, as the words that follow the title of the song are "we'll be drinking champagne". Drinking alcohol has never quite appealed to me, but it's still been a staple of rock songs for quite a long time.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New songs for August 17th, 2016

Here they are:

"After Dark" by Eliot Sumner: In spite of her name, Eliot Sumner is, in fact, a gal, not a dude. Speaking of dudes, her dad happens to be one of the biggest in the music business. His name is Gordon and he is best known by the moniker "Sting". Yes. THAT Sting. The man who combined reggae with rock in a trio who released five albums and then went on more of a straight jazz slant on his own. Eliot is picking up where her dad left off back in his heyday with "After Dark". Picture, if you will, a song like "Message In A Bottle" if it used more conventional chords and had more synth to back it up. That's pretty much "After Dark" in a nutshell. If Andy and Stewart still backed Sting up into the '90s and the 21st century, he'd sound an awful lot like his own kid! The Sumners are actually a musical family. Sting's son, Jake, had a minor adult alt hit with the reggae/rock fusion song with "Two Sisters" back in 2007. I wonder what his other kids have in store for us!

"Help Me Out" by Wild Feathers: Wild Feathers' second single from "Lonely Is A Lifetime", "Help Me Out", opts once again for a vibe that is more straight "indie" than it is country-rock. "Help Me Out" is a bit more slowed down than their previous single, "Overnight", but it still rocks in its own little way. On the surface, "Help Me Out" might sound like a lovesick plea, but the type of love that the song centers around is more platonic than romantic. According to one of the band members, it's basically their equivalent, lyrically, to a song like "Lean On Me", with its universal message urging people to stand by one another through the good times and the bad.

"New Song" by Warpaint: You couldn't come up with a better title of your song than what your song is, eh?! Actually, "new song" doesn't refer to the song itself, but is instead a cute nickname for the lead singer's object of affection. I can't help but feel a little bad that this is the first Warpaint song I've really heard. They've been a cult fave for a long time among indie fans and were (from what I heard) more experimental. "New Song" isn't really all that experimental. It doesn't stray too far from the C minor note that starts it off, which is also used heavily in the verses and chorus. Its electronica sound isn't anything new or different either, but I suppose I should still give credit where credit is due. This song is probably just a vehicle for Warpaint to get a larger audience, and if so, I think they will probably succeed in doing so.

"Real Love Baby" by Father John Misty: The title of this song just sounds like some sort of laid back hippie phrase, doesn't it?! If it does, then what you see is what you get here. FJM dials back the odd sort of experimentation he's done with his last few songs and returns to a more basic folk-rock sound with "Real Love Baby". As you might expect with a song with this title, the message of "Real Love Baby" is simple but still satisfying. "Real Love Baby" also tends to tone down the irony and sarcasm that FJM seems to use in a lot of his songs. This song, in contrast, is a very sincere one, and quite possibly the most sincere so far in his catalog.

"River" by Bishop: Bishop Briggs, if you want to know her alliterative full name. This slinky combination of soul, rock, and electronica is just the right track to make your sizzlin' summer more steamy! "Shut your mouth and rock me like a river", Bishop saucily croons during the chorus of the song. With "River"'s electronic beats coming off as sultry as Bishop's own voice, "rock (her) like a river" is probably exactly what many of her male fans would like to do to her. Add this one to your soundtrack of love-makin' music if you have one!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

New songs for August 10th, 2016

here they are:

"A Thousand Times" by Hamilton Leithauser: The Walkmen's lead singer sure has come a long way from where he started off! I never would have predicted that a band known for mixing surf and garage rock sounds during the 21st century would end up having a lead singer who was capable of making a song as romantic as this one! The old-time-y sounding piano and organs that dominate this song make it seem like it's from another time (that is, until the guitars come in towards the end). The message of the song is pretty simple. Leithauser has a dream that the one he desires the most was his "a thousand times". No matter how many times the message is repeated, though, (which it is quite a few times) it's still a very heartfelt sentiment, don't ya think?

"Comeback Kids" by The Jayhawks: Moving away from their more traditional country and folk influences, The Jayhawks have decided to have more of an "indie" sound in their latest song, "Comeback Kids". Here, Gary Louris and co join the ranks of fellow alt-country-cum-indie band, Wilco, in having a song that sounds like a cross between Big Star and Television, in which jangle-pop meets post-punk. Despite the rougher edges this song has in comparison to the 'Hawks other material, "Comeback Kids" is still sentimental in the lyrical sense. It is a song about reminiscing over a former girlfriend.

"I'm Still Here" by Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings: Sharon Jones is definitely still here, that's for sure! In her latest song, "I'm Still Here", Sharon delivers a powerful blast of soul music as only she can! Drums, bass, sax, and of course, Jones' powerful vocals propel this song, which seems to be a tale of both survival and triumph. No other "neo-soul" artist sounds both so funky and so authentically 1960's as Sharon Jones does. The song switches between quieter verses and louder chorus sections, although "loud", in this case, is something celebratory and free of distortion.

"Love Is A Burden" by Jamestown Revival: The Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down" is a painfully obvious influence this song has, at least during the verses. On the plus side, though, the overall sound of "Love Is A Burden" is a step closer to a 2010's alt-rock-ish sound than the bluegrass-y Jamestown Revival previously had two years ago, so perhaps certain younger listeners might find this song to be an easier way to get into Jamestown Revival's music than "California (Cast Iron Soul)" was. Love may be a burden, but clearly nothing is stopping Jamestown Revival from using bright, catchy instrumentation to mask its lovelorn lyrics.

"Shut Up Kiss Me" by Angel Olsen: No, she is not the third Olsen twin (triplet?!) Far from it, really. Her music is like an unlikely cross between Tom Petty and PJ Harvey, and she's about as clear to understand vocally as either of them are (in other words, she's hard to understand). She sings "Shut up kiss me, hold me tight" so fast that you can barely tell what she's saying! At least it's somewhat easy to tell what it's about lyrically. It seems to be about an unrequited love of sorts, albeit as more of a defiant declaration of love than as a "no one understands me, I'm sad" statement.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

New songs for August 3rd, 2016

here they are:

"Bleeding Heart" by Regina Spektor: Is it just me, or has Regina Spektor gotten more synth-heavy lately?! Her latest song, "Bleeding Heart" certainly seems to indicate this. This sounds a bit more like a latter-day Lily Allen song than it does like something from quirk-folk queen Regina Spektor. Part of Regina's charm initially was her unabashed love of composing Tori Amos-esque tunes during a time when it wasn't exactly "hip" to do so. Of course, offbeat lyrics are another part of what makes Regina so fascinating to listen to, and those are present on "Bleeding Heart". The chorus simply consists of the phrases "never mind" and "bleeding heart" repeated a few times, which seems like a pretty Regina-esque thing to do. "Bleeding Heart" leaves something more to be desired, though. I was expecting something either more sad or more enjoyably weird, and "Bleeding Heart" is neither.

"Let Love Be (With U)" by Kula Shaker: Ah, to be a part of a British rock group in the '90s. Oasis and Radiohead reigned supreme in the middle of the decade. Millions of other names in British rock of the '90s went under the radar, though, and Kula Shaker were one such band. Much like Oasis, Kula Shaker were a band that were more indebted to timeless upbeat classic rock during a time of gloomy alternative rock. Kula Shaker even covered Deep Purple's "Hush" and seemed to have a minor hit with it too. "Let Love Be (With U)" has a retro flavor as well, but its sound is more blue-eyed soul (white R & B) than it is rock. It has a happy, toe tapping sound defined by brass and rhythm, and the electric guitar takes a backseat until towards the end of the song. Kula Shaker were never a product of their times, but that's probably why their small but significant fanbase likes them.

"Rita Mae Young" by The Record Company: One of the biggest shocks of the year was to know that a song that wouldn't have sounded out of place among Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin songs was one of THE top selling adult alt songs of the year ("Off the Ground"). "Rita Mae Young" is a lighter song than "Off the Ground", but its smoky, gritty, soulful sound would probably still appeal to fans of '60s rock. This song really puts the "blues" in blues-rock. The lead singer of The Record Company mourns the loss of his relationship with a woman named Rita Mae Young throughout the song, but does so in such a way that it becomes upbeat instead of sad. What a way to sing the blues!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Forever Young!

The words "youth" and "child" appear in the only two songs I have for this week. Therefore I thought "Forever Young" would be a clever title for this week's blog. Anyway, on with the show!

"Fountain of Youth" by Local Natives: Whenever a new political age is ushered in, new songs are ushered in to go along with that. The '60s saw many such songs, and even the era of Bush the younger got an entire Green Day album in protest of it in response. Not a whole lot of songs have been written yet about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders, but Local Natives address the first of these three in their latest song, "Fountain of Youth", referring to her as "Mrs. President", perhaps in a tongue-in-cheek manner. The song's chorus of "We can do whatever we want. We can say whatever we need" seems like an accurate representation of the disillusionment a lot of young people (and quite a few older ones, too) feel about the current political climate. The new revolution has just begun. There is more of it to come, I'm sure of it!

"If I Ever Was A Child" by Wilco: At long, long last, Wilco return to their roots as a folk/country-rock group after quite a few albums with a feedback drenched psychedelic rock influenced sound. The lyrics and mood of this song are both bittersweet, something Wilco haven't really touched upon in their music since their 2009 song, "You and I", which was a duet with Feist. "If I Ever Was A Child", as its title seems to imply, is a sweet, nostalgic sounding song that also has an air of sadness to it. The song's chorus expresses that Jeff Tweedy was "never alone long enough to know if (he) ever was a child." Perhaps Tweedy is pining for simpler times on this song, and the entire album, at that, which is largely composed of folk-rock and country-rock tunes that lack the distortion present on so many other recent Wilco songs.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

New songs for July 20th 2016

here they are:

"I'm Not the One" by Pete Yorn: The three main chords of this song, F, G, and A minor, make this song very similar to what an indie-pop version of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" might be like, though the chorus is different in this song in that it resolves in C major. "I'm Not the One" does indulge itself in the same sort of melancholia that "Dreams" did, but instead of being a revenge song disguised as something bittersweet, "I'm Not the One" really is bittersweet. No blaming or finger pointing in this song, just a simple way of saying "I'm sorry, but you're not what I'm looking for" in 3 and a half minutes. Simple premise, but still an effective song.

"Numb" by OJR: The sound of this song is strange, but kinda cool. It takes the sound of the typical "unplugged" Nirvana song and makes it sound like roots-y country-rock. How that's possible is anyone's guess, but it actually manages to flow pretty well here. The lyrical mood of the typical Nirvana song seems to prevail on "Numb" as well, telling the story of a man who just feels tired of his life and how much people are pushing him around. And what does "OJR" stand for, you ask? The singer's initials, Oliver John Rodgers, that's what!

"San Quentin" by Nahko and Medicine for the People: Nahko and Medicine for the People?! Now THERE's a cool name if I ever heard one!! The song itself is just as cool! "San Quentin" is a song in which jazz, Latin, blues, world music, and rock fuse into a single genre! And that's not all, folks. On NAMFTP's YouTube page for "San Quentin" is a description for what the song is about. Apparently it is about a trip Nahko made to the titular city to meet the man who killed his father. Pretty daring move, there, but if you can get a song as catchy and meaningful as this one out of it, I guess anything's possible!

"The Changing Man/While It Still Beats" by Ray LaMontagne: By far the strangest and most adventurous track of the week, "The Changing Man/While It Still Beats" is one part psychedelic rock, one part prog-rock, and in all, is a song that just doesn't seem to know which direction it's going in! I'd expect something like this from Tame Impala, but not Ray LaMontagne! The former folk-rocker has now gone OFF his rocker in this song! There hasn't been a song quite like this so far in 2016, and I doubt there will be for a long time!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

New songs for July 13th 2016

here they are:

"I Know" by Shovels and Rope: So far, this is both the most vengeful ("I know exactly what you think you are") and the most rockin' song in S & R's catalog. The once quaint little country-rock group has suddenly gained a dirty, blues-y edge on this chug-along track. Amidst the grimy sound and scathing lyrics, however, Shovels and Rope still have the trademark harmonies they have become known for among their fanbase. S & R have made little dents here and there before on adult alt stations (perhaps most notably with their jaunty, clap-long ditty, "O Be Joyful"), but so far they haven't had a song that's been as popular with the format as this one has. With its distinctive flavor among the other songs in S & R's catalog, it's no wonder this one has gotten so much attention so far!

"Umpqua Rushing" by Blind Pilot: Our only other entry for the week, Blind Pilot hasn't strayed too far from the quiet, reflective folk-rock sound they have become known for with "Umpqua Rushing". However, it does contain more electronic percussion than "We Are the Tide" and "Half Moon" did (it bears remarkable similarity with the latter of these two songs). A fluid, buoyant acoustic guitar sound can still be heard beneath "Umpqua Rushing"'s artificial drumbeats. Nothing really to write home about with this song, but it can still be nice to hear a song like this one for the sheer relief and comfort factors it provides. Chicken soup for the indie soul!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

New songs for June 22nd 2016

here they are:

"All I Ever Wonder" by St. Paul and The Broken Bones: Retro-soul revivalists St. Paul and The Broken Bones are on the run once again! In addition to the Al Green-ish R & B they've already become known for, St. Paul and The Broken Bones have a bit of an added gospel influence in their latest song, "All I Ever Wonder", that wasn't exactly apparent on their previous songs. So what is it that they "ever wonder", you may ask? Well, the song is basically about trying to make it through difficult situations. Perhaps the high-spirited gospel influenced sound of the song serves as a way to find light through the darkness of life.

"Better Love" by Hozier: The hits just keep on comin' from Irish soul/alt-pop hybrid, Hozier. Nearly half of his debut album has become well loved among indie and alt fans. With news of a new Hozier song that was NOT on his debut album, I thought maybe he had already released a sophomore effort! Sadly, this is not the case. His newest song, "Better Love", is actually a song featured exclusively on the soundtrack of the new movie, "The Legend of Tarzan". Most of Hozier's songs deal with the battle between the sacred and the profane, but it seems like it is mainly the former that is being focused on in this case. This is especially evident on the chorus when Hozier proudly proclaims that "there's no better love that beckons above me". What does sacred, pure love have to do with Tarzan?! As someone who has not seen the movie yet, I have yet to find out, but I'm guessing it has something to do with some heroic triumph that the title character has towards the end of the film.

"Good Grief" by Bastille: Since when has Charlie Brown joined an indie-pop group?! Come to think of it, that'd probably be pretty fitting for everyone's favorite "blockhead", considering how heavy the weight of his problems are, but I digress. Actually, "Good Grief" is pretty energetic for British indie-pop stars, Bastille, in spite of its pessimistic sounding title. The song plays out like Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure" filtered through a bright, flashy indie-pop lens. It seems to be more of a song about missing a girl than it is about general frustration (which I thought it would have been due to its title.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

New songs for June 15th 2016

here they are:

"Cleopatra" by The Lumineers: Simon and Garfunkel seem like a pretty obvious influence on bands like The Lumineers, but they've never sounded more like them in both a musical and a lyrical sense than on "Cleopatra", albeit with a slight influence from the softer side of Southern rock as well. Lead vocalist Wesley Schultz weaves a tale filled with metaphor and the struggle between the sacred and the profane in this song. Songs such as Joni Mitchell's "Free Man In Paris" might have also influenced "Cleopatra", as both songs center around protagonists whose genders are the opposite of that of their narrators. In "Cleopatra", Wesley sings as a "young actress" who basically tells the story of her life and career in vivid detail.

"Good Girls" by Elle King: Who you gonna call?! Elle King, apparently! The "Ex's And Oh's" jazz-rock songstress is featured on the soundtrack of a "Ghostbusters" remake. This fierce, feisty, and fun blast of music comes off like a blues-y Stevie Nicks trying to cover "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'". Elle scratchily croons about how she "does what the good girls don't" in a sinfully sweet song filled with references to the unpleasant side of the afterlife in a manner that is more playful than scary. Hell hasn't been this tempting since Squirrel Nut Zippers sang about it back in '97!

"Take It From Me" by Kongos: Just like on their smash hit (and debut song) "Come With Me Now", Kongos have roared back onto the alt and adult alt charts with a song where rock guitars and "Graceland"-esque accordions collide! "Take It From Me" is song that's sure to scorch up your summer (in a good way, of course)! As this quartet of South African brothers proclaim on "Take It From Me", "nothing can stop me". Indeed, nothing CAN stop them from being one of the few 2010's bands that are liked equally by rock, pop, and alt fans! They've got all the good music in a single package here!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

New songs for June 8th, 2016

here they are:

"All We Ever Knew" by The Head and The Heart: Well, this isn't ALL we ever knew about The Head and The Heart, that's for sure! Their signature piano sound is still the centerpiece of their latest track, "All We Ever Knew", but the roots-y down-homy-ness that the band has been known for seems like it's vanished from their work in this song. Instead, we get a clap-heavy, brightly colored sing-along punctuated by "la-la's" in between that seems like Josiah, Chris, Charity, and co's attempt at gaining a hit on the pop airwaves. There's a bit of salvation for old school Head & The Heart fans during the middle and end of the song where a violin sound appears, but for the most part, this song just doesn't seem the same as the others by the happy-with-their-sound band I saw about two summers ago at the Hollywood Bowl. I guess one thing the band IS starting to pick up on that I hadn't noticed in their other songs is lyrical dissonance. Witness, for instance, when Josiah sings, "You don't see why your world has no love to give? Well, what goes around comes around." Very cutting lyrics for such a happy song, dont'cha think?!

"Grand Canyon" by The Wind and The Wave: A song that opens with the lyrics, "Down to your skivvies at the watering hole, gonna get you wet, gonna save your soul" just gets you in the mood for summertime, doesn't it?! (Not to mention that upbeat acoustic guitar based sound before the lyrics come in). The title of the song as well, "Grand Canyon", also evokes summery images. Guy-girl folk-rock duo, The Wind and The Wave, sure know how to release a song at the right time of year, don't they?! The title of the song comes from lead vocalist Patricia Lynn Drew's insistence in the song that "You haven't lived until you've gone to the Grand Canyon". The fun, free spirited vibe of the song's rhythm is just as fun and free spirited as its lyrics and the delivery in which they're sung. Next stop, the beach!

"Low Life" by X Ambassadors (featuring Jamie N Commons): Despite Jamie N Commons' "Rumble And Sway" becoming one of the most played songs of 2013 on adult alt stations, not a lot of people seem to know who Jamie N Commons is, and he hasn't had a hit since then (until now, that is). As for X Ambassadors?! Who DOESN'T know "Renegades"?! The song was all over the radio and commercials in summer of last year, and their followup hit, the more melancholy but still memorable "Unsteady", was almost as inescapable. "Low Life" is what happens when alt-pop superstars join forces with a blues-y jazzy one-hit wonder, a combination that no one was probably anticipating, but a good one nonetheless. This is by far the blues-iest and jazziest song that X Ambassadors have had so far, and perhaps a song that could gain them a new audience in the process. Lead vocalist Sam Harris repeatedly claims he's "nothing but a low life" in this song, but he sure doesn't SOUND like a low life. He sounds like anything but, as a matter of fact!

"Never Gonna See Me Cry" by Good Old War: GOW are a good band, to be sure, but I'm just not feelin' it with the songs on their latest album. Their previous hit, "Tell Me What You Want From Me" just seemed to have way too much shiny, clean pop production, but at least it had the band's trademark folk-y guitar sound. In "Never Gonna See Me Cry", there isn't even a hint of acoustic guitar. Judging from the solo of the song, GOW seem to want to be going the other way around, actually, though it's mostly just a plain ol' pop song as far as I can tell. You're never gonna see me cry with this song, but you are gonna see me disappointed. It's not terrible, though.

"Opening Statement" by Hard Working Americans: Roots-rock supergroup Hard Working Americans are already releasing their sophomore album! It seemed like their debut was more recent than that, but it was actually from December 2013. Anyway, the slow burning roots-rock sound of HWA's "Opening Statement" is kinda similar to their debut single, "Down to the Well". Todd Snider's vocals are also similar to how they were on "Down to the Well". Nothing exactly remarkable about "Opening Statement", but it's still worth listening to on days when you just want to laze about and not have to worry about anything, 'cause it just gives off that kinda vibe.

"Wow" by Beck". Wow!! That's all I gotta say about this one! OK, so it's not THAT impressive, but this IS Beck we're talkin' about here, so the title fits the song at least somewhat. Like his 2015 song, "Dreams", "Wow" is a single-only song that takes on the form of neo-psychedelic dance-pop. "Wow" actually hearkens back to Beck's early days with its zonked out hip-hop influenced rhythm. The chorus only contains two phrases, "It's like 'wow'" and "It's like right now", but they stick in your head like glue from dawn 'till dusk once you hear "Wow" for the first time. The self-proclaimed "loser" does it again, folks!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

New songs for the first of June 2016

here they are:

"Let Me Get By" by The Tedeschi-Trucks Band: Once again, we find Susan and Derek experimenting with retro sounds during a modern time. Janis Joplin-esque vocals collide with Allman Brothers-ish guitars and a distinctly early '70s sounding organ to buoy The TTB's latest song, "Let Me Get By" in just the right direction. As the second single from their latest album, "Let Me Get By" bears noticeable distinction from the album's first single, "Anyhow". "Anyhow" was a slow jam that totaled to 6 and a half minutes. "Let Me Get By", on the other hand, is a fast jam that only goes to 4 and a half minutes, about the average length of a rock or alternative song these days. "Anyhow" also seemed like a bittersweet love song, where "Let Me Get By" seems to have the opposite sentiment in mind, as Susan repeatedly states, "get out of my way" during the chorus of "Let Me Get By".

"Oblivius" by The Strokes: Yess, the misspeling uv this songs tidle iz intenshunal. As for the song itself? It appears to be unlike anything The Strokes have ever done before. It sounds a bit like Blondie attempting to cover the funk/disco classic, "Pick Up the Pieces". The Strokes have had danceable songs before, but this seems like it's SPECIFICALLY meant for dancing to at clubs and the like. An interesting move for The Strokes, who started out sounding like how punk rock did before it had a name, with their Velvet Underground and Television influences worn on their sleeve. It appears as though they are now trying to sound more like Talking Heads or Blondie, both of whom were influenced by The Velvets and Television, but took their sound in a new direction.

"White Flag" by Joseph: Joseph?! Joseph who?! Is this a band who omitted the "and the Technicolor Dreamcoat" part out of their name?! No, and it is not a guy named Joseph either. As a matter of fact, it isn't even a guy AT ALL, but a trio of women!! Mixing the icy techno-pop beats of Lorde with the lush harmonies of First Aid Kit, Joseph's debut song, "White Flag", is a very soothing and alluring song that also manages to be somewhat catchy. As you probably expected, this song, like Dido's song of the same title, is about having the willingness to surrender, as that is what a "white flag" is symbolic of in lyric and prose. As Paul Weller from British punk group, The Jam, once said, this song will have you "succumb(ing) to the beat surrender!"

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The third time's the charm!

What is Borns' followup song to "Electric Love" and "10,000 Emerald Pools"? What is Houndmouth's followup song to "Sedona" and "Say It"? Find out tonight, in this edition of my weekly music blog!

"American Money" by Borns: The sultry sound and Borns' androgynous vocals pretty much define "American Money". Comparisons of this song have been drawn, musically and vocally, to icily enjoyable indie-pop musicians like Lana Del Rey and Lorde, in spite of the fact that lead vocalist Garrett Borns is a male. "American Money" sounds more like the title of a political protest song than a love song, but it is actually the latter. The title comes from the description Garrett gives of his lover's eyes, "green like American money". Likening a body part to dollar bills doesn't exactly sound like the most seductive thing in the world to me, but hey, whatever works!

"My Cousin Greg" by Houndmouth: "My cousin Greg, well he's a greedy son of a..." well, you probably know which word comes after the phrase "son of a". What a way to start out a song! However, that's the way neo-roots-rock group Houndmouth open their latest song, "My Cousin Greg". For Houndmouth, time probably stopped somewhere between 1969 and '70, when bands like The Band, The Grateful Dead, and The Allman Brothers Band were getting their careers off the ground, which is kinda funny considering that the members of Houndmouth don't look like they're older than their mid 30's. "My Cousin Greg" seems to evoke the sounds of all three of these groups. The song also seems to serve as a subtle warning against taking too much pleasure in fame, as the words, "If you want to live the good life, well you better stay away from the limelight" make up the chorus of the song. This is a lesson Houndmouth themselves could have learned before "Sedona" became a surprise radio hit on alt-rock stations!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

New songs for May 18th 2016

here they are:

"All For One" by The Stone Roses: Contrary to popular belief, The Stone Roses' name actually has nothing to do with The Rolling Stones, but rather to do with a novel from the late 1950's. That hasn't stopped The Stone Roses from trying to rock it like The Stones can in "All For One", though, The Roses' first song in over 20 years! Despite nominally being a "rock band", The Stone Roses songs don't often SOUND like rock, with the notable exception of the blues-y "Love Spreads". "All For One" lays it heavy on the rock instrumentation, though. Based around a rhythm that can be found in many rock songs ranging from The Doors' "Roadhouse Blues" to David Bowie's "The Jean Genie" and a three-chord vamp in the key of G major, "All For One" combines the fervent passion for melodies that power pop has with the red-hot punch of garage rock. The rock 'n' rollers among my followers will probably also dig the brief but noteworthy guitar solo in the middle of the song, too!

"Not A One" by The Young Wild: Hmm, it's Hall and Oates...or is that Bruce Hornsby...Richard Marx, perhaps?! Well it definitely isn't ANY of those musicians, but there's something I can't put my finger on that makes 'em sound like they'd fit right in with an '80s soft rock playlist. Decidedly modern sounding guitars can be heard in the background during the chorus, but other than that it sounds kinda cheesy, albeit enjoyably so. It's like Grouplove trying to cover an '80s Billy Joel song. Awkward, to be sure, but endearingly awkward. That piano hook is also catchy enough to be used on commercials, too.

"The Community of Hope" by PJ Harvey: Fittingly, I first heard this song by '90s proto-hipster queen PJ Harvey at an independent record store while purchasing a book about alternative rock music from the '90s. PJ is still just as left-of-center as ever, but the unbridled rage she was known for the '90s calmed down by the time the next decade rolled around. Her latest song, "The Community of Hope", sounds unusually happy for a PJ Harvey song. Behind that happiness, though, lies Harvey's typical cynicism. "The Community of Hope" is actually about the Hope VI, a project in which the central aim was gentrification of neighborhoods. Harvey unleashes her negative opinions of the Hope VI, even going so far as to refer to it as a "Demolition Project" in both this song and its album. Elsewhere, she refers to South Capitol as "the highway to death and destruction", aptly so considering the city's crime rates. Towards the end, she repeats the phrase "They're gonna build a Wal-Mart here" as though it is a madness mantra. Miss Harvey, tear down those walls!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Rudolph the Red Nosed Radiohead!! (and three other good ones)

I can't help myself. I'm a goofball sometimes. The video for Radiohead's "Burn the Witch" looks so much like those stop-motion Christmas specials from Rankin-Bass that I just had to reference that somewhere in the title of this week's blog! Anyway, on we go!!

"Burn the Witch" by Radiohead: What happens when you put Rankin Bass Christmas specials, persecution of women based on false accusation, a classical orchestra, and electronic beats into the same setting?! You probably were going to say either "a bad dream" or "an acid trip", but the answer is Radiohead, whom I guess kinda resemble those two things sometimes! The song that combines all these factors, "Burn the Witch", is calming and edgy all at once, like a lot of Radiohead's songs tend to be. Both the lyrics of "Burn the Witch" and its accompanying Rankin-Bass-goes-to-the-dark-side music video are Thom Yorke's way of expressing criticism towards many facets of contemporary society. For instance, the song's chorus of "Abandon all reason/Avoid all eye contact/Do not react/Shoot the messenger/Burn the witch" could be interpreted as a "madness mantra" against how foolishly people tend to react to political events (just about any events, really). The jarring yet brilliantly hilarious juxtaposition between innocent children's show imagery and people causing chaos amongst themselves also lends itself to many interpretations, one of which is the dissonance between the idea of "family values" and how grim some think the reality of such "values" can be as a result of impinging them upon society. After seeing the music video for "Burn the Witch" (, you might never look at "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" the same way again!!

"Casual Party" by Band of Horses: Band of Horses have experimented with quite a few sounds on the rock spectrum during the 2010's. "Laredo" found BOH trying out a sound that mixed CCR with Gram Parsons, "Knock Knock" was BOH at their most rock 'n' roll sounding, and their latest tune, "Casual Party", is BOH at their most alt-pop-y. What do I mean by that?! Well, think along the lines of groups like Walk the Moon or Neon Trees, but with a slightly quirkier direction in sound and not as much synth reliance. It's a long way off from sensitive power pop ballads like "No One's Gonna Love You" and "The Funeral", but it still manages to work relatively well for the band. The vibe of "Casual Party" makes it sound like it belongs at a nightclub on the beach (or perhaps a beach turned into a nightclub) that exists solely in the listener's imagination. The keyword to "Casual Party" seems to be "party", as there appears to be more emphasis placed on the instruments and the energy they give off than on the lyrics of the song.

"Dark Necessities" by Red Hot Chili Peppers: Hard to believe RHCP have been popular for 25 years, and around for just a little over 30, isn't it?! Well, it seems like Anthony, Flea, and the boys have taken to being an aging rock group rather well. Their latest song, "Dark Necessities" even sounds a little like The Who's "Eminence Front", albeit a notch or two softer. It's notable for being one of the first (if not THE first) RHCP song with a piano as one of its leading instruments. The band who once prided themselves on being relentlessly wild funk-rockers who frequently performed half-naked onstage are growing up, it seems, with this song. It's not as though they haven't had mature songs before. After all, their biggest hit, "Under the Bridge", is probably one of the saddest songs I have known, especially towards the end. "Dark Necessities" seems to really solidify the "mature" aspect of The Chili Peppers, though, like hardly any other songs I have known by them, as if they are responding to the induction they got into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 4 years ago.

"Need You Tonight" by Bonnie Raitt: Bonnie sure has eclectic taste in cover songs, and she does them rather well, too! 2012 saw the release of her spiced-up reggae inflected version of soft rocker Gerry Rafferty's "Right Down the Line". Neither Rafferty nor Raitt have much of anything in common with Australian rock group, INXS, yet that is who Raitt is choosing to cover this time around! INXS seem to be unsung heroes when it comes to influencing the indie rock scene, influencing at least in part a number of popular indie groups like Phoenix, TV on the Radio, The 1975, and Walk the Moon, among others, yet rarely talked about as an influence on such groups. I thought one of them would have covered "Need You Tonight" before Bonnie did, but lo and behold, I was wrong!! "Need You Tonight" is a funk-rock classic that came out about a decade after funk had its day in the limelight, and many a rock historian knows that funk has its roots in the blues, which Bonnie Raitt is excellent at playing, so perhaps it should have come as such a huge shock to me that she chose to cover this one, but it did. Nonetheless, Raitt's spin on this song manages to pack in both more funk and more riffs than the original version did! If only Michael Hutchence could have heard this version, I think he would have loved it!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

New songs for April 27th, 2016

here they are:

"Best Kept Secret" by case, lang, and veirs: What happens when three solo female performers of folk-rock get together to form a group?! Well, they become case, lang, and veirs, likely written all in lowercase because k.d. lang writes her name that way (she is the "lang" in this group). The other two are Neko Case and Laura Veirs, both folk-rockers of the indie era. Case is from the state of Washington, Veirs is from the indie-nerd town of Portland, Oregon, and k.d. lang isn't even from the States, yet their song "Best Kept Secret" isn't about any of those places. Instead, it is an ode to someone who lives in none other than my hometown, Los Angeles. More specifically, it is about someone who lives in hipster haven, Silverlake, which is where my dad currently resides. Laura Veirs is the lead vocalist for this track. She projects her quirky Portlandian ways onto another city full of neo-bohemians in "Best Kept Secret" (which, I guess, is no longer a secret!)

"There Will Be Time" by Mumford and Sons (featuring Baaba Maal): This is not a song from Mumford and Sons' latest album, and is instead a song that is currently being released only as a single. Times have not been easy for M & S, for although they have been well-received by general audiences, they have not been taken very seriously by "real" rock fans who probably think that rock history ended with the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994. Thankfully, "There Will Be Time" has gotten an overwhelmingly positive response so far on YouTube. Perhaps part of the reason why is because it features Mumford and Sons going in a new direction with their music while still keeping relatively true to the sound they've become known for. In regards to how the song sounds, all I can say is that some member(s) of M & S must be big Paul Simon fans. A few years ago, they covered the Simon and Garfunkel song, "The Boxer", and this time around, they're going for a sound that is evocative of Paul Simon's "Graceland" album. "There Will Be Time" features African musician Baaba Maal on backing vocals, making it even more like a "Graceland" song than it already seems to be!

"Trouble" by Cage the Elephant: Cage got their rock 'n' roll groove back in fall of last year with "Mess Around"! It felt like that song was never gonna go away, but like all songs, its popularity eventually faded away, and a bit quicker than I thought it would, too. In its place is the much calmer, more dreamy sounding song, "Trouble". The song seems to be about the hope for love to right all the wrongs in the lead singer's romantic life. Amidst both the weariness of the lyrical theme and the lightness of its sound, though, there is still some cleverness within "Trouble" during the part when Matt Shulz says that "the wicked get no rest", a reference to CTE's first big hit, "Ain't No Rest For the Wicked".

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

New songs for April 20th 2016

here they are:

"Ain't No Man" by The Avett Brothers: People who know The Avett Brothers for primarily being a country-rock group may be in for quite a surprise when they hear this one! "Ain't No Man" is more funky than it is country. Not an acoustic guitar or banjo to be found anywhere in this song. Instead, this song is dominated by sleek, smooth bass riffs. In addition to being The Avetts' funkiest song so far, "Ain't No Man" is also their happiest sounding song!

"Better Man" by Leon Bridges: The only other song for this week is also a funky one, but neo-soul sensation Leon Bridges knows funk like the back of his hand! "Coming Home" and "Smooth Sailin'" have both become adult alt megahits and they both have a sound that hearkens back to the days of '60s soul music. "Better Man" follows in the footsteps of those two songs in terms of its sound. The central message of this song is a simple but powerful plea, in which Leon states that he "doesn't want much" and "just wants to be a better man". Leon, there's no need for you do any better. You're already plenty good sounding to me!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

New songs for April 13th, 2016

here they are:

"Wish I Knew You" by The Revivalists: This is only the third song that The Revivalists have a had an adult alt radio hit with, yet they're already starting to make changes to their music! The Revivalists first two hits made me believe that they were a New Orleans R & B band. While they are from New Orleans, "Wish I Knew You" proves that R & B is not the only genre they like. It still has jazzy sax parts and a funky backbeat, but its guitar playing is decidedly folky in comparison to their other two hit songs. "Wish I knew you when I was young, we could have got so high", David Shaw soulfully croons during the chorus. Before any you of you go off assuming that this song is about drugs, it is probably more of a spiritually yearning sort of song about wanting to get to know someone before he/she passed away.

"Wristband" by Paul Simon: With alternative metal band Disturbed having had a surprise hit this year with a cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence", perhaps it only figures that Simon himself was also inclined to make a record this year, perhaps in part because of his song becoming a hit again after many decades (Simon said that he liked Disturbed's version of his song in a recent interview). "Wristband", though, is neither folk nor metal. Instead, it is a song that retains the rhythmically driven African roots sound that Paul Simon cultivated on his "Graceland" record. The lyrics of "Wristband" also have a similarly spiritual theme to what a lot of the "Graceland" songs had, revolving around a place where "if you don't have a wristband, you can't get through the door" (Heaven, perhaps?) With Simon's mention of St. Peter and the Pearly Gates during one of the verses of "Wristband", it seems pretty likely that he's referring to the celestial abode of the Man Upstairs.

"You And I" by Margaret Glaspy: A raspy voiced white girl leading Alabama Shakes? A young woman leading T. Rex? These descriptions would probably sound farfetched for any other song except for this one, the debut song from sassy, rockin' California native, Margaret Glaspy. If this song has anything to teach us, it's that looks can be deceiving! With her petite, demure appearance, you'd probably expect her to be a folksinger of some sort, but she isn't. Her lyrics are pretty sour as well, especially when she bluntly states that she "doesn't give a f**k". Elsewhere in the song, Glaspy basically cuts her ex-lover down in just two and a half minutes!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

New songs for April 6th, 2016

here they are:

"Can't Let You Do It" by Eric Clapton: In recent years (roughly since this blog started up, actually) Eric Clapton has been successful at escaping soppy love ballads like "Wonderful Tonight" and returning back to his blues-y roots. The guitar legend's latest tune, "Can't Let You Do It", is yet another of his blues-rock songs. It has rockin' riffs and a funky backbeat to boot! In some respects, it almost sounds like a more rock-oriented version of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition", as both songs share a similar rhythmic pattern and are also both in the key of E.

"Handclap" by Fitz and The Tantrums: How did Fitz and The Tantrums go from Motown revivalists to alt-pop chart-toppers?! That may be a question that nobody knows the answer to! What I do know, however, is that FATT's latest song, "Handclap", does have one thing in common with pretty much all the songs in their catalog. It's catchy! The title alone seems to indicate this, but once you get into the song and hear the chorus, which contains both actual hand clapping and the words "I can make your hands clap", you probably won't be able to get it out of your head (or out of your feet!) This song, to quote another recent hit song, is "all about that bass". The actual bass, that is. The thumping of the bass pretty much defines this song, a song which could be said to be the missing link between Gorillaz and Gwen Stefani.

"Trailer" by Mudcrutch: Tom Petty's old backing group before The Heartbreakers, in case you were wondering who Mudcrutch was. In spite of this, Mudcrutch never had a successful album until 2008, spawning two adult alt radio hits with "Scare Easy" and a cover of The Byrds' "Lover of the Bayou". Why it's taken them 8 years to record a followup album is anyone's guess, but better late than never. If Mudcrutch had any songs under their belt before their albums got released that sounded simliar to their known material, it could be the reason behind why some of Petty's biggest hits, such as "American Girl" and "The Waiting", have a bit of a Byrds-y sound, as a lot of Mudcrutch's songs sound combines the jangle of The Byrds' material with the more ragged, roots-y sound of Neil Young. "Trailer" is pretty much more of the same from Mudcrutch, more roots and more jangle. It is perhaps worth noting, though, that this song is also full of harmonica solos, which weren't heard in "Scare Easy" or "Lover of the Bayou".

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

New songs for March 30th 2016

here they are:

"Brazil" by Declan McKenna: It only figures that a man with Elvis Costello's real first name would be at least a little stylistically similar to Elvis Costello in his early days, wouldn't it?! Then again, maybe it's just coincidence. Either way, Declan McKenna's "Brazil" has an infectiously catchy faux-retro British rock sound that is rapidly becoming a fave of alt-rock fans this year. With its bright, bouncy melody, fresh guitar sound, and raspy British vocals, it's not hard to see why! Also, Declan McKenna was born on Christmas Eve during the year I was in 5th grade!! Who knew such great music could come from a 17-year-old?! I sure didn't!!

"I Don't Care About You" by Lake Street Dive: With the way that Lake Street Dive's "Call Off Your Dogs" from fall of last year sounded like a '70s disco song, I was expecting more of the same with "I Don't Care About You". However, "I Don't Care About You" has a sound that's closer to the soul inflected blues-rock of the typical Lake Street Dive song. At least during the first two or so verses of the song, it does. However, during the last verse, it starts speeding up a bit to sound more like a song from the blues-rock side of the British Invasion (think early Rolling Stones, Animals, Yardbirds, etc.), which is fitting, considering how "I Don't Care About You" sounds like it could be the title of a '60s garage rock song. The message of this song may be "I don't care about you", but I do care about listening to groovy tunes like this one!

"I Need Never Get Old" by Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats: Nathaniel and co continue to wow the indie generation with their brand of '60s influenced R & B and rock with "I Need Never Get Old", currently their third big hit! Imagine what it would be like if Ray Charles, Janis Joplin, and The Four Tops started jamming together. Chances are, whatever you imagined probably sounds like "I Need Never Get Old". The song itself is as saucy and sassy as its titular statement! You need never get old listening to songs like this one. Stay young, my friends, stay young!!

"Pining" by Parker Millsap: Here is yet another song that sounds influenced by early R & B music, just like the previous two I've reviewed for this week. There is something that sets this one apart from most songs of this style, though. This song's central guitar is acoustic, not electric. Yet somehow, Parker Millsap still manages to inject some soulful vim and vigor into his first major breakthrough song, "Pining". What starts off as a happy folk song soon turns into a powerhouse of other instruments, such as piano and percussion, making it seem more like what a more energetic "oldie" might sound like to contemporary ears. Parker may be pining for his lost love, but he sure seems glad about something nonetheless!

"Where'd You Go?" by Boy and Bear: In fall 2015, Boy and Bear probably shocked many of their core fans by releasing the rocking, Cars-sounding "Walk the Wire", a significant departure from the folk-rock they had become known for previously. "Where'd You Go?" is a song that seems to have a folk-rock-y mood while still making prominent use of the electric guitar, particularly during the chorus. Somewhat mythical sounding imagery (i.e. "an ancient shrine that has swallowed your mind") seems to dominate the lyrical themes of this song, which is not entirely new for Boy and Bear.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

New songs for March 23rd, 2016

here they are:

"Good Help (Is So Hard to Find)" by Death Cab for Cutie: I have heard four songs from Death Cab's latest album, and so far, it seems like their most rock oriented album yet! None of the four songs I've heard have any hint of the folk-rock sound they were once known to have. "Good Help (Is So Hard to Find)" might as well be from 1979 with its sound coming off as a cross between The Clash's "Train In Vain (Stand By Me)" and The Police's "Voices Inside My Head". Never thought Ben Gibbard and co would attempt to go for what is essentially a funk and reggae influenced sound, but that's pretty much exactly what they do on this song. It might also be the one DCFC song that makes the most use of the "flange" effect (the echo-y guitar distortion often used in songs with staccato rhythmic patterns).

"Shine" by Ben Harper: Where Death Cab are newbies at the whole reggae/funk thing, Ben Harper has been a natural at it from day one. The sunshiny funk sound coming from his latest song, "Shine", does not come off as being awkward or "new" sounding, and instead is very steady and fluent. Ben's uplifting lyrics and soulful delivery make "Shine" quite enjoyable. This is also the third Ben Harper song I've known to use the word "Shine" in the title, the others being "Burn to Shine" and "Shimmer And Shine". He must really like that word!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

"G" Whiz!!

The punny title comes from how both song titles for this week begin with the letter "G" (and you can't have the word "goofy" without the "G", right?!) Anyway, here they are:

"Get Out" by Frightened Rabbit: Probably the closest to a pure rock and roll sound (albeit with techno beats) that Frightened Rabbit have come to so far would be their latest song, "Get Out". The normally folk-rock-y Scottish group amps it up a bit for this song, which has quite interesting lyrical metaphors for love. These include lines like, "I'm a worshiper, a zealot king, cursed, a devotee of the heady golden dance she does", and "She's an uncut drug. Find the vein and pulse". Strange yet somewhat insightful and clever lyrics, if I do say so myself. If Scott Hutchinson's girl is an "uncut drug" then I guess sooner or later he's gonna have to face that he's addicted to love!

"Gimme the Love" by Jake Bugg: Yet another former folk-rocker trying to get away from the sound he's become known for. Jake Bugg actually has had some pretty hard rocking songs before, like "What Doesn't Kill You", the sound of which bore slight resemblance to bands like Green Day. Normally, though, Jake is like a slightly edgier Mumford and Sons. "Gimme the Love" sounds like neither Mumford nor Green Day. Instead, it sounds like an outtake from U2's "Achtung Baby", fusing rock and techno into one fluid musical movement.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

New songs for March 9th, 2016

here they are:

"Brace For Impact (Live A Little)" by Sturgill Simpson: Every once in a while, a band (or musician, in this case) will come around and really put the "rock" into "country-rock". Bands like Drive-by Truckers are good examples of this, and bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd were the ones who originally made it "cool" for country music to have a place within hard rock territory. Sturgill Simpson's "Brace For Impact (Live A Little)" fits the description as well, coming off as sort of a "Skynyrd lite" type of musician in this song. Like both Skynyrd and The Truckers, Sturgill is capable of pulling off rather long songs as well, with "Brace For Impact" clocking in at almost 6 minutes! Pretty impressive length for a breakthrough song! The song also has a bit of a jam band type sound that wouldn't be out of place in a song by the Southern states' other fave rockers, The Allman Brothers Band.

"Fire" by Barns Courtney: The steamy, fervid sound of "Fire" makes the song live up to its title! The handclaps that make up the first verse of the song sizzle and slither before climaxing into an even more fiery folk-rock chorus. "Barns Courtney" may sound like the name of a band, but it's actually just the name of one person. He hails from Britain, like his fellow tour mate, Ed Sheeran. However, "Fire" has a crackling, exciting intensity that Sheeran's songs tend to lack. So, "Gimme that fire!" as Barns sings during the chorus!

"Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah)" by White Denim: It's not every day you get a song title that consists entirely of interjections (or the same one repeated four times). Did White Denim simply run out of song titles when they came up with the name of this one?! No! "Ha ha ha ha yeah" are actually the main words of the chorus to this early '70s R & B influenced throwback song, and what a song it is! Its raucous party beat, thumping bass, and blasting horns will probably make you think you've just discovered a previously unreleased Sly and The Family Stone song! Let's get down and boogie!

"Soundcheck" by Catfish and The Bottlemen: Catfish and The Bottlemen's "Kathleen" was probably one of the most enjoyably rockin' songs of 2015, with its garage rock influenced sound. The garage rock influence continues on Catfish and The Bottlemen's latest song, "Soundcheck", which seems to boast an even harder rock sound than its predecessor! You'd swear you were hearing a British Foo Fighters here. "Soundcheck" rocks throughout, but it has that sort of "bubbling from under the surface" buildup during the verses that climaxes into a rather explosive, dynamic chorus. The fact that this song has been having a slow but steady climb up both the adult alt charts and the alt charts should be proof that rock 'n' roll hasn't been dead. It's just been sleeping. I guess it takes a band like Catfish and The Bottlemen to wake rock 'n' roll from its recent slumber!

"Wasted Love" by City and Colour: So I guess City and Colour haven't completely returned to being folk-rock balladeers. Their last hit from fall 2015, the adult alt radio smash, "Lover Come Back", was a sensitive ballad with a largely acoustic based sound. "Wasted Love" isn't exactly like that. It has that neo-psychedelic fuzz-guitar sound that C & C have used on songs like "Fragile Bird" and "Thirst". What's interesting about "Wasted Love" is that it is probably the most rhythmically influenced song that C & C have had so far. While the lead guitarist shows off the shaky, fuzzy tone of his guitar, the backing guitarist plays chords in a similarly rhythmic fashion to R & B and reggae songs, which is not exactly a common feature of City and Colour's music. "Wasted Love" is clearly not a waste of time to listen to!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

New songs for March 2nd, 2016

here they are:

"Cold to See Clear" by Nada Surf: Nada Surf's biggest pop chart hit, "Popular", from 1996, wouldn't really be a good way to introduce someone to Nada Surf for the first time. About a decade after that song's heyday, Nada Surf decided to focus far more on doing Byrds-y jangle-pop with catchy, melodic pop hooks than they did on pseudo-grunge songs like "Popular". Nada Surf's latest song, "Cold to See Clear", is no exception to that rule. The lush harmonies, the jangle of the main guitar, and the catchy beats of the percussion are all central elements of "Cold to See Clear". The song might be an ode to the joy of music itself, with its chorus consisting of lyrics like, "The airwaves they took me, the radio made me". For a band with a knack for well planned song craft, Nada Surf might give you the impression that they may as well be singing about themselves in "Cold to See Clear"!

"Devil In Me" by Anderson East: For those who have only heard the soul-infused "Satisfy Me" from Anderson East so far, you may be wondering why a man who seems like the white answer to Otis Redding is dating country-pop star Miranda Lambert. The answer to that may be right here in the song slated to be Anderson's second big tune, "Devil In Me". In spite of its saucy title, "Devil In Me" is a far more mellow and country influenced tune than "Satisfy Me". The song isn't a total snooze-fest, though, as it does boast equal amounts of influence from gospel and jazz as it does from country. "Devil In Me" might just be about Miranda, since the song centers around an "angel" who "brings out the devil" in Anderson.

"Mr. Rodriguez" by Rayland Baxter: "Searching For Sugar Man" fans, rejoice! A song about the formerly obscure '60s folk-rock musician Rodriguez has finally arrived in the form of fellow folk-rocker Rayland Baxter's song, "Mr. Rodriguez". The song has a rather neo-psychedelic, light indie-pop flavor, a marked contrast to the autumnal, Dylan-esque folk of "Yellow Eyes" that introduced people to Rayland Baxter in fall of last year. "Mr. Rodriguez" is Baxter's attempt to whisk his listeners away into a fantasy land in Detroit in which him and the titular character take a stroll downtown. Outta sight, man!

"Need A Friend" by El Vy: Much like El Vy's first major hit, "Return to the Moon", "Need A Friend" is yet another Matt Berninger song that is more uptempo than his more gloomy and dour work with The National. The rhythm of "Need A Friend" draws the listener in from the very beginning with its beats accented on the second and fourth measures, a pattern that has been used in many songs from The Grateful Dead's "Truckin'" to Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus", the latter of which "Need A Friend" bears a vague resemblance to. A sort of neo-psychedelic pop sound defines both the spacey synthesizer and fuzz drenched guitar that "Need A Friend" is centered around.

"Quiet Corners And Empty Spaces" by The Jayhawks: Fans of the late, great Alex Chilton might be quick to label The Jayhawks' latest song, "Quiet Corners And Empty Spaces", as an alt-country rewrite of Big Star's "September Gurls". It does seem as though Gary Louris and co have looked to Big Star as an influence, in addition to many other '60s and '70s pop/rock groups, such as The Beatles, The Byrds, and Crosby Stills & Nash, among others. Aside from nostalgia, print media is another source that the 'Hawks have drawn from in "Quiet Corners And Empty Spaces", the title of which was taken from random words one of the members cut from newspaper and magazine articles. The lyrical theme of "Quiet Corners..." continues in the footsteps of The Jayhawks' last big song, "Hide Your Colors", which was about struggling with a relationship, much like this one is. The Jayhawks have managed to charm me once again with this song by doing what they do best, combining Byrds-y 12-string guitars, folk-rock harmonies, and catchy, memorable hooks.