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!