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.