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.