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.