Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Top 20 of 2017!!!

Here it is, folks! The moment you've all been waiting for! Let's count down the songs I played the most that came out this year from 20 to 1!! Here we go...

20. "The Night We Met" - Lord Huron
19. "In A Drawer" - Band of Horses
18. "Shine" - Mondo Cozmo
17. "Love Is Mystical" - Cold War Kids
16. "High Ticket Attractions" - The New Pornographers
15. "Lay It On Me" - Vance Joy
14. "Can I Sit Next to You?" - Spoon
13. "Two High" - Moon Taxi
12. "Baby I'm Broken" - The Record Company
11. "The Man" - The Killers
10. "The Gold" - Manchester Orchestra
9. "You're the Best Thing About Me" - U2
8. "Up All Night" - Beck
7. "Rhythm And Blues" - The Head and The Heart
6. "Shine On Me" - Dan Auerbach (Black Keys)
5. "The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness" - The National
4. "Everything Now" - Arcade Fire
3. "Name For You" - The Shins
2. "Hot Thoughts" - Spoon

annnnddd...the Number 1 song of 2017 is....


Happy Holidays and New Years, folks, and see ya next year!! :)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

New songs for December 6th 2017

here they are:

"Midnight Train to Memphis" by Chris Stapleton: "Southern rock" might not be a thing anymore to most musicians, but to Chris Stapleton, it is! Having already stormed the adult alt radio charts with "Second One to Know" in the summer of this year, Chris is now back a second time around with "Midnight Train to Memphis", a song whose sound used to be just plain ol' country that Chris has now spruced up with more of a rock sound. The title alone of this song conjures up the typical Southern rock and country imagery of traveling down the highway (or railway) at night. It may be getting close to winter, but Chris Stapleton still wants to fire up the barbecue grills down a blazing hot road right now!

"Queens of the Breakers" by The Barr Brothers: The only other track for this week is a country-rock song as well, but more in a sentimental way than in a rockin' one. The song was actually named for band member Brad Barr's group of friends he hung out with when he was a teenager. Not exactly sure what the origin of the name "Queens of the Breakers" is, but that's not as important as the overall bittersweet nostalgia the song tends to evoke. Over the course of 5 and a half minutes, The Barr Brothers meld country, bluegrass, jam band sounds, and rock to create a yearning, winsome story in this song.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Holidays Rule Volume 2 songs!!

The sequel to 2012's indie holiday extravaganza, "Holidays Rule", has arrived! And I've got 6 songs to review from it, so here goes!

"Baby It's Cold Outside" by Barns Courtney: There's a certain roots-y, earthy, soulful quality to pretty much all the songs Barns Courtney has put out so far (especially his first and biggest hit, "Fire"). His rendition of the lyrically questionable but musically fun Christmas tune, "Baby It's Cold Outside", attempts to inject some soulfulness, but ends up sounding more like a 2010's alt-pop song with a hip-hop beat. It starts off sounding like an old jazz standard, but as soon as the percussion comes in, it becomes a whole different song. And yes, as with all versions of this oddly charming holiday song, there is a female vocalist in here as well, and her name is Lennon Stella, best known as one half of the country-pop internet sensations, Lennon and Maisy.

"I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas" by Lake Street Dive: Undoubtedly one of the goofiest Christmas songs of all time, soul/blues-rock combo, Lake Street Dive, add a Latin twist to this song, making it stand out even more among holiday songs than it already did! This is the first time Lake Street Dive have sounded more like rhumba than R & B, but they do a good job at it! With a "shaka-laka" percussion section and sultry horn section, I can guarantee that a song about hoping for hippos on the holidays has never sounded more unique than this one! Make no mistake. Rachael Price does NOT want crocodiles or rhinoceroses, she only wants hippopotamuses. Nothing wrong with that, right?!

"Jesus Christ" by The Decemberists: Unless you're a big fan of Big Star, who are probably the only "proto-alternative" band besides The Velvet Underground to gain a large cult following among alternative rock fans despite having zero chart success, you might not know the original version of this song, an unusually reverent song for a somewhat irreverent and quirky band. It only makes sense, then, that The Decemberists, who are quirky, irreverent, and have a huge cult following themselves, would cover Big Star's "Jesus Christ", the only Christmas song that Big Star ever did. Like Joni Mitchell's "River", "Jesus Christ" might not have been intended to be a Christmas song, but has been viewed as one anyway ever since its release. This version stays faithful (no pun intended) to the original until its solo, which uses guitars in place of the sax solo on the original. As a side note, "Jesus Christ" might have also been the only Big Star song to use a saxophone. Most of the others I've heard by them don't use that instrument.

"Pipes of Peace" by Muna: Yet another cover of a modern Christmas song, as opposed to a "traditional" one. Many people know (and are sometimes somewhat averse to) Paul McCartney's uber-happy "Wonderful Christmastime". They might not know that Sir Paul also released a quieter, more reflective Christmas song in 1983 called "Pipes of Peace". This is that song, performed by indie-pop group, Muna. Muna seem to have a thing for middle-of-the-road classic rock, as they have also covered Stevie Nicks' "Edge of Seventeen" and U2's "With Or Without You" in concert, which is interesting considering how Muna sound more influenced by electronica than they do rock. Muna maintain the quietness and reflectiveness of the original, molding a bittersweet holiday rock song into an equally bittersweet holiday indie song.

"The Christmas Song" by Judah and The Lion: Not since Mumford and Sons has there been an indie-pop band known for playing banjo. Judah and The Lion typically take it one step further than Mumford and Sons by using a pop music framework to showcase their mad banjo skills, as opposed to a more folky one. Here, Judah and The Lion use the same technique on "The Christmas Song", a song first made popular by Nat King Cole in 1945 and covered many times since. JATL's rendition of this Christmas classic is a fun one, to be sure, but the banjo solos might just be the best part of this whole song!

"What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" by Andrew McMahon: This song was already covered by The Head and The Heart on the original 2012 edition of "Holidays Rule". I think their version is much better. However, that doesn't mean I'm going to just ignore Andrew McMahon's version of a holiday song originally recorded by jazz musician Ella Fitzgerald in the mid 1940's. Andrew does a decent job, but his version comes off too...well...keyboard-y for my taste. The song is supposed to have piano, which this version does, but he layers it with a synth sound that doesn't exactly sound fitting for this song. Head and The Heart extend the length of this song and add in some guitar in the background. This version has no guitar and is relatively short in comparison. Stick with the original "Holidays Rule" rendition of this song (or the original Ella version) if you want a quality version of this post-Christmas tune. It's not a bad version, though, by any means.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

new songs for November 15th 2017

here they are:

"I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" by Jim James: The Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds" is widely considered to be one of the greatest rock albums of all time (despite getting virtually no airplay on today's "rock" stations). There's a good reason it is, though. The album, along with The Beatles' "Rubber Soul", which it was inspired by, were some of the first albums to showcase rock as an emotionally diverse art form. With the news spreading that My Morning Jacket's Jim James was going to be covering one of my favorite songs from that album, "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times", my first thoughts were, "You can't top a classic!" As much as I love Jim and MMJ, it's a hard feat to pull off trying to cover the sweet but troubled genius work of Brian Wilson. However, I'll still give Jim credit where credit is due. He doesn't drastically change the song in any way, and he tries his best to stay faithful to the bittersweet, sympathetic tone of the original. He alters the melody of the chorus a bit, and he also adds in some brass instruments where they aren't needed, but other than that it's a pretty decent cover!

"Losing All Sense" by Grizzly Bear: As if by coincidence, our next song is inspired by "Pet Sounds" as well! However, it is not a cover of a song from the album. The ultra eclectic, artsy indie quartet, Grizzly Bear, have always tried experimenting with different sounds on each of their albums. Their latest song, "Losing All Sense", sounds similar to "Two Weeks", the song that first made Grizzly Bear popular among indie fans, and it also contains a brief "slow" section like their song "Sleeping Ute" did. Its happy, piano and orchestra based sound seems like it might be derived from Beach Boys songs like "I Know There's An Answer". "Losing All Sense"'s spacey, psychedelic lyrics (for instance, "Like a rogue wave, you wash right over me") seem like they'd fit right in with some of the best '60s rock songs.

"Motion Sickness" by Phoebe Bridgers: You might not have heard of Phoebe Bridgers yet, but other musicians you might like have heard of her. Her debut record was released under Ryan Adams record label, and she has toured with Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes. Fans of Adams and Oberst would probably be fans of Phoebe Bridgers as well, as she evokes a similar sense of pathos and sensitivity to such musicians. The "motion sickness" she mentions, as she states in the song, is an emotional one. The song is basically Phoebe's sad but sweet sounding attempt to try to right all the wrongs in her life. Between the hushed but weary vocals and the sighing of the instruments in the song, it's pretty easy to tell what's going on here!

"Plastic Soul" by Mondo Cozmo: Mondo Cozmo are a rarity in this decade. On their first album alone they've gone through folk-rock with "Shine" and Beck-ish attempts at blending hip-hop with alternative pop with "Automatic". Their third hit, "Plastic Soul", does not sound like either one of those songs. Instead, it has a piano based '60s R & B sound that samples from an actual '60s R & B song, "Piece of My Heart" by Aretha Franklin's older sister, Erma (yes, this was the same "Piece of My Heart" that Janis Joplin later made famous - Erma did it first). "Plastic Soul" is very soulful, but it sure ain't plastic! This is the real deal, folks!

"Run For Cover" by The Killers: With all the people who have been accused of sexual abuse lately, I'm sure glad The Killers aren't one of 'em! Why am I bringing this up in my review for this song? Because "Run For Cover" is actually a song that speaks out against those who have been sexually abused. In this song, the beat of which is reminiscent of INXS's "Don't Change", Brandon Flowers points a finger at all the carnally depraved men out there, perhaps one in particular, given such lines as, "Are your excuses any better than your senator's?", "It's even harder when the dirtbag's famous", and even a brief mention of "fake news". I don't think it's too hard to figure out who this might be about, but it's ultimately up to your imagination to figure that one out!

"Whatever It Takes" by Imagine Dragons: Imagine Dragons aren't what you'd call a "hard rock" band by any means, but some songs of theirs are still softer and more melodic than others. "Whatever It Takes" just happens to be one of the softer songs in Imagine Dragons' catalog. Starting with a pristine piano that gets taken over by artificial percussion, "Whatever It Takes" has a similar sound to Imagine Dragons' other songs, except for in terms of how it is sung (or rather, delivered). Lead singer, Dan Reynolds, does the closest thing he's ever done to a rap during the verses of the song, speaking a bit too fast for anyone to understand him upon the first few listens of this song. The way Dan rhymes in this song could even be compared to people like Eminem (although Dan is far more wholesome in terms of his lyrical content).

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

New songs for November 8th 2017

here they are:

"Glow" by Big Head Todd and The Monsters: Colorado jam band quartet, Big Head Todd and The Monsters, have been around for almost 3 decades. 2017 looks like it's gonna be their biggest year since 1997, during which they had a few alternative and adult alternative radio hits with songs like "Boom Boom", "Please Don't Tell Her", and "Resignation Superman". They've been in and out ever since then, but usually only one song from each subsequent album has become successful. During summer of this year, the rocking, joyous, "Damaged One" was already a big adult alt radio hit, and with "Glow", it looks like they'll be dominating fall of this year on adult alt radio as well. "Glow" is a rocker, like most of their material, but it has a bit more of an anthemic, somewhat U2-ish flavor, giving it a marked contrast to the rest of BHTATM's material. "Why don't you glow?" urges lead singer "Big Head" Todd Park Mohr. He certainly glows in this song, along with the rest of the band!

"On And On" by Curtis Harding: The last few years have not been good for post-millennial soul musicians who sound like they're from the '60s and early '70s. We lost Sharon Jones last November, and we lost Charles Bradley this summer. Thankfully, people like Curtis Harding have been working to keep the spirit of neo-soul alive and well! Harding is one of the most eclectic neo-soul musicians of the 2010's, having also dabbled in neo-psychedelia, punk, blues, and even spoken word on occasion. "On And On" is not Harding's first song, but it does appear to be his breakthrough, and what a breakthrough it is! It's a catchy, relentless song about never giving up. Groove on, bro!

"Rorschach" by Typhoon: You know from the title alone this is gonna be kind of a weird one! (Rorschach was the name of the guy who had those inkblot paintings that were supposed to look like different things to different people). It kind of is. It's a song that manages to be both sad and adventurous, and it comes off sounding like an unlikely cross between Death Cab for Cutie and The Pixies, with some odd, distorted vocals in between parts of the song. The song appears to be about uncertainty, and it gets its title from the lead singer mentioning how what he was looking at was really "blood spilled on the canvas (he) admired just like some Rorschach painting".

"Sea of Clouds" by Deer Tick: Roots-y indie-rockers, Deer Tick, seem to take a lot of inspiration from Neil Young, ranging from their veering between raging electric songs and sweet acoustic songs to the rather depressing subject matter of most of their songs. The booziness of Deer Tick might also bring to mind groups like The Replacements, who were also known for veering between the hard and the soft. Deer Tick already had a scorching rocker for this summer with "Jumpstarting". As we head into the mellow cool of autumn, Deer Tick now have the softer and more bittersweet, "Sea of Clouds", sounding a great deal like something from Neil Young's "Harvest" album, and a bit like The Replacements' somber but soothing folk-rock song, "Skyway", as well. Clocking in at a total of 5 and a half minutes, there appear to be two distinct halves to "Sea of Clouds". The first half has no percussion, and percussion gets added in during the second half.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

New songs for November 1st 2017

here they are:

"Do I Have to Talk You Into It?" by Spoon: The third single so far from Spoon's latest album, "Do I Have to Talk You Into It?" is an interesting song. Musically, it comes off as a happier, major key version of Nine Inch Nails' "Closer". The song is accompanied by a weird music video with the lead singer's face being photoshopped and then being taken apart as though melting. You probably won't be able to sleep tonight if you see it, but for the truly daring, the link to the video is: You just never know what you're gonna get with these guys!

"Heartstruck (Wild Hunger)" by Hamilton Leithauser and Angel Olsen: The Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser, in some ways, is like a scratchier voiced Alex Ebert from Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros. Musically, Hamilton has something in common with Alex as well in his new song, "Heartstruck", which straddles the line between orchestral doo-wop and indie-folk (a bit like Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros' "40 Day Dream"). The song's chorus of, "Wild hunger, rise up with the currency", is a bit hard to figure out the meaning of, but the song itself is a pleasant, billowy waltz that will probably appeal to fans of both Hamilton and Angel.

"Wild And Reckless" by Blitzen Trapper: The song itself isn't exactly wild and reckless. In fact, it actually starts out as a slow, sorrowful country-rock song. However, about a minute into it, it starts to speed up a little more. Though not quite as much a rocker as some of Blitzen Trapper's other songs, it's still fun to listen to. Musically, it seems like the alt-country version of either Bruce Springsteen's "The River" or The Eagles' "Take It Easy". Not a remarkable song, but still a good one for traveling down the freeway.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

New songs for October 25th 2017

here they are:

"Holy Mountain" by Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds: With constant comparisons to The Beatles, Noel Gallagher's first major band, Oasis, was never a band to stick to current trends. Perhaps the same could be said of Noel Gallagher's side project, The High Flying Birds. Evoking the sound of such glam rock classics as "Bang A Gong (Get It On)" and "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting", "Holy Mountain" is a lively, hip-shakin' rock 'n' roll song which, like its glam rock ancestors, is basically about girls and rock 'n' roll. If you need to indulge your escapist fantasies into a song, then try this one!

"Ti Amo" by Phoenix: Half neo-psychedelia and half disco, Phoenix's "Ti Amo" (Spanish for "I love you") is a celebration of just how eclectic the French indie-pop quartet's musical taste is! Name dropping many musicians from punk rockers, The Buzzcocks, to classical master, Beethoven, and a mention of "unsophisticated soft rock" as well, "Ti Amo" seems like one of those songs in which the lyrics were just randomly cobbled together, but that is definitely one aspect of it that makes it so entertaining! English and Spanish are not the only languages used in the song either. There also a brief lyrical interlude in French, though this shouldn't be surprising considering where Phoenix come from.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

New songs for October 18th 2017

here they are:

"End of the World With You" by Calexico: And here we have yet another indie-folk-rock group with a song that spews political commentary in 2017 (you could probably guess by the title). However, like most of Calexico's songs, "End of the World With You" is still a very mellow song. Interestingly, the "-exico" suffix that makes up Calexico's name doesn't seem to carry as much significance on this song as they did on their previous albums. The jaunty horn sections of mariachi bands are almost always present on Calexico's songs, but not on this one. A stray electric guitar seems to take its place. Lead singer Joey Burns sings about love and time "in the age of the extremes" in this song. It's tough to survive in this day and age. That's why music is here to save the day!

"Live In the Moment" by Portugal. The Man: Who would have guessed that Portugal. The Man would have one of THE biggest hits of the year with "Feel It Still"?! I sure wouldn't have! The song was big enough for Miley Cyrus to lip sync on Jimmy Fallon's show, though. Who can blame 'em?! The song was pretty catchy! "Live In the Moment" continues PTM's newfound knack for catchiness, which has never come on quite as strongly as it has this year. With an electro-pop sound and a beat that recalls Gary Glitter's "Rock And Roll Part 2", "Live In the Moment" will probably be another mega-hit for PTM. Of course, this will probably lead some people to believe that they're "selling out", but I see it as just another step of artistic growth for the band!

"Matter of Time" by Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings: It was only a matter of time before Sharon Jones exited the world in November of last year in her early 60's after a battle with pancreatic cancer. The energetic, feisty soul singer injected new life into the R & B genre in the mid 2000's and early 2010's that sounded far more like Aretha Franklin than it did like Beyonce. Thankfully, Sharon's record company decided to release another song of hers that was unreleased during her lifetime. "Matter of Time" is probably one of the bluesiest songs in her catalog, built almost entirely around E7 and A7 chords, and even a brief bluesy guitar solo in between some of the verses. "Matter of Time" is a song of hope, and it's a good song to listen to. The only thing I'm wondering is this. Why couldn't this song have been released right before she died?! I'm sure it would have helped a lot of people if that was the case!

"No Roots" by Alice Merton: Take the bass riff of The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" and make it into a pop song. What have you got?! You've got "No Roots" by Alice Merton, a song that's as daring as it is fun! Lyrically, the song is like Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home" if it was a more optimistic and happy song. "No Roots" is basically about how Alice is the type of person who doesn't stay in the same place for too long of a time. She can't find her way home. However, instead of despairing, she seems to take this as an opportunity to explore who she is and how she fits into society.

"Pain" by The War on Drugs: "Pain" is probably the first word that comes to mind for people who grow weary of the prog-rock and jam band influenced meanderings that The War on Drugs often take in their songs! There's a beauty in this pain, though. In this 5 and a half minute swirl of hypnotic, smooth, neo-psychedelic pop, Kurt Vile spills deep thoughts and turns them into lyrical poetry. "He had a fear in his eyes that I could not understand", "Am I movin' back in time? Just standin' still?", and "Like a demon in a doorway waiting to be born", are just some of the weighty, existential lyrics in this song, in which light acoustic guitars and keyboards are offset by fuzz drenched screeching electric guitars during the instrumental parts.

"This Is It" by Lo Moon: The chill yet mysterious aura of this song reminds me of something that new wave pioneers, Roxy Music, might have done on their "Avalon" album from 1982 (perhaps, more accurately, if it was crossed with the progressively atmospheric to anthemic vibe of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" from only a year earlier than the Roxy Music album). This is the kind of song that leaves the listener in suspense. "This is it". WHAT is it?! The lead singer of Lo Moon never specifies this. Yet listeners of this song can't help but be drawn into it as well. The song starts off billowy and cloudy, only to wake up your ears as soon as the lead singer shouts the title of the song during its chorus.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

New songs for October 11th, 2017

here they are:

"Continental Breakfast" by Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett: Much like the Kurt and Courtney that came before these two, Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett don't usually make happy songs. "Continental Breakfast" is an exception to the rule. A pleasant, upbeat folk-rock number, "Continental Breakfast" is a feel-good song about...well...feeling good! The song centers around cherishing friendship, but in a natural way instead of a corny one. You can't help but feel happy when you listen to songs like this one!

"Sleep On the Floor" by The Lumineers: "Sleep On the Floor" is a notable song for The Lumineers in that it is one of the few (if not the only one) to feature prominent use of the electric guitar. Over Bob Dylan-esque instrumentation, The Lumi's sing about how desperate times call for desperate measures, which might be why the song is called "Sleep On the Floor" (the phrase doesn't appear anywhere in the lyrics). This song also breaks the pattern of having every song put out as a single from the Lumi's sophomore album being a girl's name (Ophelia, Cleopatra, Angela). "If we don't leave this town, we might never make it out" seems to be the central line in the song, as it is about trying to survive during a difficult situation.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

New songs for October 4th, 2017

here they are:

"Domino (Time Will Tell)" by Hiss Golden Messenger: Much like in Van Morrison's similarly titled "Domino", we never really find out who (or what) "Domino" is in the context of this song, but in both cases, they appear to be a person. Both songs also center around the joys of music. However, this "Domino" has more of a roots-y country-rock sound, as opposed to Van's soulful jazz-rock ditty. It appears to be more lyrically influenced by The Grateful Dead's "Truckin'" than it is by Morrison's "Domino" (which both came out in the year 1970, coincidentally) with its constant name dropping of famous cities and venues in the U.S. and its narrative of life on the road. Will this song hold up as well as The Dead and Van the Man have?! Well, as the parenthetical title of this song implies, "time will tell"!

"If We Were Vampires" by Jason Isbell: After Jason's scathing, rocking, "Hope the High Road" from earlier this year, he has come back a second time around with a much softer and more reflective song, albeit with a spookier title apt for the month Halloween happens to fall on. The song actually has little to do with vampires, and a lot to do with contemplating the meaning of life and whether it's worth living. The song only gets more poignant as it goes on, culminating with the lines, "Maybe we'll get 40 years together/But one day I'll be gone, or one day you'll be gone", quite possibly the deepest lyrics in a country-rock song since "Dust In the Wind".

"It's A Shame" by First Aid Kit: It was just about a month ago that First Aid Kit, a folk-rock duo of Swedish sisters, released a surprisingly catchy song called "Revolution" with newcomer, Van William. Now, First Aid Kit have once again struck out on their own. "It's A Shame" isn't quite as catchy as "Revolution", but it's still memorable, and First Aid Kit fans will likely be drawn to it, since it has the trademark harmonies and bittersweet yet buoyant folk-rock instrumentation the sisters have become known for. The "shame" that is talked about in the song is the shame that is felt when a relationship ends. The vintage sounding organ in the song gives it a slightly Dylan-esque flavor, and was apparently recorded in Jack White from The White Stripes' studio.

"One Foot" by Walk the Moon: There has always been something irresistibly cheesy about Walk the Moon's music. That's nothing new! What is new, however, is that their latest song, "One Foot", has a bit less guitar than their fans might be used to. Both their debut single, "Anna Sun", and the massively successful "Shut Up And Dance" have used guitar as a prominent instrument, sounding like an unabashedly pop-y version of U2 in doing so. "One Foot" just doesn't have that U2-ish sound. It is largely a synth driven song, except during the chorus when you can hear the guitarist a bit more clearly. One thing WTM haven't lost, though, is their knack for making radio ready pop music with a slightly "alternative" edge. They have turned the cliche phrase, "one foot in front of the other", into a group of words that can be shouted at a stadium! These guys could probably sing a section of the phonebook and still make a Top 40 hit out of it!

"Spent the Day In Bed" by Morrissey: And last, but certainly not least, the distinctly voiced, notoriously cynical lead singer of innovative '80s indie-pop band, The Smiths, has returned to make lyrical poetry out of complaints once again. Though Morrissey is a native Brit, he seems to pay attention to political affairs the world around, and is usually unhappy about them. This leads me to believe that "Spent the Day In Bed" is probably about the current state of American political affairs, particularly when Moz urges his listeners to "stop watching the news" during the chorus. Over a quirky, stilted keyboard sound that might not sound out of place in a Zombies tune, Morrissey broodingly croons about how agoraphobia might not be a bad choice with all the negativity going on in the world outside his house. Hopefully we'll be able to wake you up in 2020, Moz! In the meantime, sweet dreams...hopefully.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New songs for September 20th, 2017

here they are:

"Around the World" by Kings of Leon: Sometimes, the best thing a song can do for you is make you feel good. That seems to be exactly what the aim of Kings of Leon's latest song, "Around the World", is. There's nothing really "deep" about this song, but there doesn't need to be. Both the sound and lyrics of this song just seem to be about having fun. So go ahead. Spread your love around the world!

"If All I Was Was Black" by Mavis Staples: Clearly, Mavis Staples is far more than an American woman of African descent. First and foremost, she is a musician, a legend of the soul genre who also mixed in the occasional blues and gospel influences whose popularity peaked in the '60s and '70s. She's two years shy of 80 now, but she can still belt it out just as great as ever! In this funky blues-y number, Mavis points out another thing that unites her with the human race, and that is love. After attacking the current president in "I Give You Power" earlier this year, perhaps she felt she needed a positive song to balance things out. If that's the case, this song definitely does the trick!

"Los Ageless" by St. Vincent: The exquisite, Tori Amos-sounding ballad, "New York", from earlier this year, was a bit of a departure in sound for St. Vincent. "Los Ageless", the latest song from the artist also known as Annie Clark, is a return to the more quirky, Bjork-ish songs that St. Vincent has become known for. And yes, "Los Ageless" is not a typo. It is a scathing way of describing the place which just happens to be my hometown (Don't worry, Annie, all is forgiven!) It is interesting how St. Vincent has romanticized New York and trashed Los Angeles on the same album! "Los Ageless", according to St. Vincent, is a harsh and unforgiving city where "mothers milk their young" and where people are bound to lose their minds. The song comes off as a slightly more venomous version of Depeche Mode's "Policy of Truth" in terms of how it sounds. As for St. Vincent's criticism of L.A.? I think I'm gonna have to side with Randy Newman, who declared that he "loved" the city in one of his biggest hits (though it was probably a tongue-in-cheek declaration). Everyone's entitled to their opinion, though, and I have always wanted to visit New York.

"O Me O My" by Son Little: Interesting how both of the even numbered songs in this edition of my blog (Mavis Staples' song was # 2, and this one is fourth) are R & B styled tunes. The slinky, seductive sound of this song hearkens back to Son Little's first big song, "The River". "O Me O My" is less blues-rock and more straight up retro R & B, with its funky guitar sound being used mainly for rhythm here. The minor key of the song is reflective of its rather dystopian theme. Apparently, it's about the stress people face in contemporary society. Specifically, Son Little contemplates on the idea of people someday colonizing Mars, and how that might not be such a good idea. Deep soul with deep thoughts! Does it get any better than this?!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

New songs for September 13th, 2017

here they are:

"Never Been Wrong" by Waxahatchee: Never been wrong?! That's quite a bold claim to make! But one thing I think I've never been wrong about is that I know a good song when I hear one, and this song just happens to be one of them. The raw, noise-pop sound of this song is as bold as its title. Lead singer Katie Crutchfield has both the perishing vocals and no-frills guitar sound of The Pixies' Kim Deal in "Never Been Wrong". I get the feeling that fans of other bands fronted by fierce females (Sleater-Kinney, for instance) will like this song as well.

"Up All Night" by Beck: ANOTHER new Beck song?! No! It's too soon!! It hasn't even been a month that "Dear Life" has been on the airwaves, and there has already been a lot of alt and adult alt radio stations that have picked up his second single of the year, "Up All Night". The dance floor meets the orchestra in this unique song! True to its name, "Up All Night" will have you staying up all night to dance! The lyrics of the song seem to be pretty dance-centric as well, and Beck sneaks in a punny line towards the end ("Hands up in the air, livin' out a prayer". Bon Jovi reference, anyone?!)

"You're the Best Thing About Me" by U2: Bono and the boys have been at it for almost 40 years now!! The new millennium has seen both hits and misses for the famous Irish rock quartet, and this one could be described as being a little of both. The chorus of the song is so anthemic and happy that it could pass for being guitar-centric bubblegum pop, but the way the chords of The Edge's guitar hook you in at the beginning are pretty hard to resist!! This song is also quite an easy one to get stuck in your head! This song might not be the best thing about U2, but U2 themselves are still one of the best things about rock and roll!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

New songs for September 6th 2017

here they are:

"Bones of Saints" by Robert Plant: In contrast to the folk-y "The May Queen" from just last week, "Bones of Saints" has a bit more of a sound that suggests what it might sound like if Led Zeppelin had stayed together into the new millennium. The foreboding "bones" part of the title suggests that it's more of a rock song, but fear not, it's not a spooky one. It's a fun little blues-y romp tinged with mythological motifs that were common in Plant's music during the Led Zeppelin days. It doesn't hit quite as hard as the typical Zeppelin tune, but for those who want Robert Plant to show off some of his rock and roll past, you got your wish!

"Day I Die" by The National: Joy Division styled electro-gloom fused with U2 styled guitars might not seem like a good match at first, but The National manage to make it work on their latest song, "Day I Die". Strained family relationships and drug/alcohol abuse make up the core of this song, which has Matt Berninger wondering, "The day I die, where will I be?" Judging by the lyrical content and the somewhat dismal musical landscape, he probably thinks he won't be in a good place when he dies. Fate is a fickle friend, isn't it?!

"No Witness" by LP: A departure from the folk-y vibes of "Into the Wild" and "Lost On You", LP's latest song, "No Witness", has more of a post-millennial alt-pop flavor to it, full of synths and handclap sounds. It comes off sounding like Queen's "We Will Rock You" as if it was covered by Lorde. Where "Lost On You" was more of a mournful pining on a love gone lost, "No Witness" is a song in which LP accepts her fate as the rejected lover, admitting, "No one can save me, love me or hate me". She seems to use the aforementioned line as a bit of a mantra before jumping into the chorus, as if she doesn't like what has happened to her, but has still chosen to accept it that it's just how things are.

"Over Everything" by Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett: Move over, Cobain and Love! There's a new Kurt and Courtney in town! Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett, to be exact, both of whom are eclectic indie-folk-rockers of the 2010's. Their first song together, "Over Everything", epitomizes the "slacker" aesthetic of the indie scene. It is a very lazy, hazy song, with lyrics that don't exactly add up to a cohesive narrative (at least not that I can tell). However, it also has an equal amount of sensitivity in terms of how it sounds, both instrumentally and vocally. At 6 and a half minutes, the song also has a bit of a "jam band" vibe. I wonder if that was influenced by both Kurt and Courtney contributing to an all-indie tribute to The Grateful Dead that came out about a year ago.

"Revolution" by Van William (featuring First Aid Kit): No, this is not a Beatles cover song, for those who might be wondering. Far from it, in this case. Unlike the rollicking, roaring Lennon-McCartney tune of the same name, this "Revolution" is soft and folk-y and has nothing to do with politics whatsoever. This song is simply about a strained relationship that both members of the couple want to patch up. Nothing too remarkable about this song, but it is pleasant to listen to, and the horns that come in midway through the song make it sound a bit more unique than it would otherwise.

"The Sky Is A Neighborhood" by Foo Fighters: Last, but certainly not least, the mighty Foo Fighters are still roarin' and rockin' to this very day! Their latest song is essentially arena rock in the vein of The Who or Queen, but meant more for the current generation. What's particularly remarkable about this song, though, is the lyrics. Dave Grohl supposedly was reading Neil DeGrasse Tyson books when he came up with the lyrics to this song. Its talk of heaven, the stars, and the sky is not merely poetic metaphor in this song, but rather a literal musing on the cosmos. Rock never sounded so out of this world!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

New songs for August 30th 2017

here they are:

"Dear Life" by Beck: You never what to expect with Beck. Folk one minute, funk the next, and everything between as well! His latest song, "Dear Life" is yet another "something completely different" moment from the musician I often liken to being a '90s-and-onward version of David Bowie. "Dear Life" actually does have some Bowie-esque vibes to it, not to mention little swirls of The Beatles and Queen here and there as well. It starts with a catchy piano hook that sounds not unlike one that John, Paul, George, and Ringo might have done together, and a Beatlesque guitar creeps in midway through the song. The astounding alt-rocker has done it again!

"Miles" by Phillip Phillips: With three albums now under his belt, Phillip Phillips has proven himself to be so much more than your run-of-the-mill "American Idol" contestant. Instead of opting for the pop spotlight, as most of them have, the redundantly named folk-rocker has gone a bit more under the radar since the days of his first hit songs, but rest assured, Phillip is the type who values quality over quantity! His latest song, "Miles", would not be out of place as a song in the Snow Patrol or early Coldplay catalog. It is both heartfelt and anthemic, as most of his songs tend to be. "Miles" is also his first song since his legal battle against "Idol"s record company, and the lyrics of the song seem to reflect this. This is evident right from the song's opening lyrics, "Right now I need an escape from this gravity that holds me down. We gotta leave here today 'cause insanity is all around."

"The May Queen" by Robert Plant: The title of this song is probably taken from the line in Plant's "Stairway to Heaven" that goes, "If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now. It's just a spring clean for the May Queen." For over 40 years, Led Zeppelin fans have probably wondered who the "May Queen" is. Well, we're about to find out! Or then again, maybe not, since the title of "The May Queen" is not actually mentioned in its lyrics. Instead, the lyrics appear to simultaneously suggest both a love song and a spiritual, yogic chant of sorts. Perhaps that means that the titular queen is a goddess of some sort? She might just be the lady who's sure all that glitters is gold in the beginning of "Stairway". The world may never know!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

New songs for August 9th, 2017

here they are:

"Lucky Penny" by JD McPherson: JD McPherson's style is usually that of a 1950's rocker like Jerry Lee Lewis or Chuck Berry. "Lucky Penny" takes him from the '50s to the early '70s! The organ filled neo-glam-rock style of The Black Keys dominates this song, and it also sounds slightly reminiscent of "Roadhouse Blues" by The Doors. "This lucky penny's been nothing but bad luck", JD sings during the chorus. Unfortunately, a lot of listeners seem to feel this way, too, since the style of the song is largely derivative of The Black Keys, as opposed to the amalgam of '50s rock styles he's become known for. However, "Lucky Penny" might just be the song to get JD from adult alt radio stations to more mainstream alt-rock stations, which would probably work out in his favor! Was this song worth the one cent?! You decide!

"We Were Beautiful" by Belle and Sebastian: The ever eclectic Belle and Sebastian continue to wow indie fans with their latest song, "We Were Beautiful". Most of their fans seem to prefer their work from the '90s and '00s, when they were "twee" (in other words, influenced by sweet sounding orchestral '60s pop, such as "Pet Sounds"). B & S have modified their style a bit ever since to include more electronic influences, such as what they did on their 2014 song, "The Party Line". "We Were Beautiful" continues in the electro-pop pattern, but it also has an ethereal, airy sound that hearkens back to their earlier work. "We were beautiful before this went down", lead vocalist Stuart Lee Murdoch croons bittersweetly during the chorus. On the surface, the lyrics sound like they are referring to a relationship gone bad, but the song could also ostensibly be about how B & S have interpreted criticism of their more recent songs.

"What You Do to Me" by Benjamin Gibbard: And last but certainly not least, the Death Cab for Cutie frontman embarks on his most interesting musical quest to date, an entire album of songs that were covers of tunes by '90s power pop group, Teenage Fanclub. Ben covers one of TF's most famous songs, "The Concept", on this album, but that did not end up being the first single from Ben's latest album. Instead, it was a cover of a lesser known Teenage Fanclub song, "What You Do to Me". It's interesting to hear him take on this song, which serves as a "missing link" between Big Star and Gin Blossoms. DCFC have dabbled plenty in the softer side of alternative rock, but this is the first time one of their members has attempted a power pop/jangle pop song, and the results are quite satisfying! Too bad it's only 2 minutes long.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

New songs for August 2nd, 2017

here they are:

"Ahead of Myself" by X Ambassadors: This song has a lot of the qualities that X Ambassadors' first (and so far, biggest) hit, "Renegades" had. First off, it combines acoustic guitar sounds with synthetic beats. Those aspects of the song, not to mention the distinctive vocal qualities of Sam Harris, make this song a surefire summer hit! The "I thought I was this, but really I was that" theme of the lyrics of the song are also an appealing aspect of it. Well, not to get "ahead of myself", but I anticipate this song to be on quite a few alt and adult alt radio stations for at least the next few months!

"Faded Heart" by Borns: Garrett Borns, better known by just his last name, seems to be bringing David Bowie back from the dead in his latest song, "Faded Heart"! Multiple eras of his music, at that. First, there's the glam Bowie influence we hear in the joyfully raucous sound of the pounding piano during the verses, and new wave and post-punk Bowie surface during the chorus of the song. Was this Bowie influence intentional?! Well, it just might have been, as Garrett was also influenced by fellow glam rock icons like Iggy Pop and Freddie Mercury when he worked on this song! Previously, Borns seemed like just another electro-pop act, albeit with some catchy, memorable tunes. "Faded Heart" brings out a whole new aspect to Borns' music that I'm glad to have known!

"My Only True Friend" by Gregg Allman: And speaking of recently deceased rock stars, Gregg Allman from The Allman Brothers' Band demise was only about a month ago. The Southern rock icon apparently left behind a few songs right before he passed on, though, and "My Only True Friend" just happened to be one of them. Fitting for a swan song, "My Only True Friend" is a bittersweet song that might just have been his way of saying goodbye to the world through the power of song. His "only true friend", as it turns out, is the road, perhaps a reference to one of his biggest hits with The Allman Brothers Band, "Midnight Rider" ("and the road goes on forever...") This "road" might also be a flat, horizontal equivalent to the stairway to heaven as described in Led Zeppelin's famous song. In other words, Allman was probably well aware that his days on Earth were numbered, so he acknowledged it by singing about it. Rest in peace, Gregg. The world will never know another Southern rocker who combined country, blues, and rock as deftly as you did!

"So Tied Up" by Cold War Kids (featuring Bishop Briggs): The instrumental arrangement of Cold War Kids' latest song, "So Tied Up", centers primarily around piano and cello. The guest vocalist here is Bishop Briggs (formerly known only by her first name), an alt-pop songstress whose work flows in a similar vein to people like Lorde, Lana Del Rey, and Florence Welch. The decision of having Bishop provide extra vocals on this song works well here, as her sweeping vocal harmonies blend together with the orchestral rock arrangement of the instruments in this song. "Soothing" and "mellow" are words to describe multiple Cold War Kids songs, but "So Tied Up" is the first one I'd describe as "lovely"!

"Stand By My Girl" by Dan Auerbach: Is piano a trending instrument or what? The Black Keys frontman normally prefers guitar, and he uses plenty of it in this song, but there is a noticeable amount of piano in his latest song, "Stand By My Girl", as well. This aspect, as well as its use of slide guitar, gives "Stand By My Girl" a rather George Harrison-esque flavor. Cleverly, Auerbach uses this song as an opportunity to make a song that sounds light and happy, but is actually about making a major error in a relationship. The song begins with a "man in a blue plaid shirt" who knocks on Auerbach's door. He doesn't know what the man is there for, but decides it would be safer if he didn't answer it, for fear of what would happen if he did. He vows to stand by his girl. Why? Because apparently she'll "kill him" if he doesn't! Whoa now! Well at least it's still a fun song to listen to...right?!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

New songs for July 26th 2017

here they are:

"Showboat" by Josh Ritter: Two years ago, Josh Ritter startled us with the surprisingly upbeat and soulful, "Getting Ready to Get Down". His newest song, "Showboat", seems to go in that direction as well, but with a bit more of the roots-y feel that Ritter's fans are used to by now. "Showboat" is an attempt for Josh Ritter to basically expose his true self and true emotions through song, like he never has before. In other words, this upbeat tune with seemingly happy lyrics is really just a veneer for Josh's insecurity, which he supposedly introduces us to more of through other songs on his latest album, "The Gathering". That being said, hopefully this will not be the only hit from "The Gathering". Hearing about the diverse emotional pallet Josh has in store for us on this album through an NPR review of it got me pretty excited about it!

"Two High" by Moon Taxi: Yes, the title is intentionally punny. It is not a misspelling of "too high" as much as it is a way of saying "put your two (hands) up high". The goofy title and sunny sentiment of this song pretty much captures what Moon Taxi seems to be all about. They're like Vampire Weekend without the collegiate "hipster" aspects, which leaves just tropically influenced indie-pop music. Not much more to this song aside from what I've described here, but sometimes we need songs like this during the summertime!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

New songs for July 19th 2017

here they are:

"Find Yourself" by Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real: Lukas' super famous dad, Willie, might be best known for country music, but both of the Nelsons have proven themselves to be more than that over the years. Back in 2012, I first got the opportunity to hear Lukas and his spicy, energy fueled, Southern rock styled song, "Wasted". "Find Yourself", the latest song Lukas has put out, has a bit more of a soulful flavor to it. More aptly, it is a blend of soul, rock, and country, with plenty of bluesy licks sandwiched in between to keep listeners on their toes! The song has nothing to do with philosophy or "finding yourself" in the manner that you might think it suggests from the title. Instead, it has a more straightforward meaning revolving around taking back the love you think you deserve.

"Jumpstarting" by Deer Tick: A bar band rock song that suggests a sloppier Springsteen in some ways, Deer Tick's "Jumpstarting" is a rollicking song that is actually about companionship more than anything else. Many of their songs (even the ones they've done for the Christmas season) involve the subject of drinking in some way. This one does too, but in a different way than most of their material does. "Jumpstarting", essentially, is a message that the lead singer sent out to his drinking buddy that he'd be there for him through good times and bad.

"Lay It On Me" by Vance Joy: When Vance Joy debuted in late summer 2013 with "Riptide", I got the impression he was a surf-folk musician in the manner of Jack Johnson, but with more melancholy lyrics. The more I got to know Vance's music, though, the more I realized that most of his other material is as melancholy as his lyrics. "Lay It On Me", his first single from his second album, continues in this direction. There is an uplifting, brassy part during the chorus of the song, but it doesn't mask how much Vance feels about how much he has failed as a lover. Being able to let out those feelings is what music is all about, though!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

New songs for July 12th, 2017

here they are:

"Fire" by Beth Ditto: Although Beth Ditto has been a musician for a few years, she's been known more for being a promoter of positive body image than she has of her music. Until now, that is. Beth's breakthrough song, "Fire", sure lives up to its name! It is a blazing, passionate, funk and electronica influenced rock song. Lyrically, it's a song whose basic message is, "If you want my love, come get it!" Not much more explanation is needed for this scorching, sizzling summer song!

"The Gold" by Manchester Orchestra: Manchester Orchestra have actually been around for 10 years, yet it's only been within the past week or so that adult alt radio stations have begun to notice them. Their latest song, "The Gold", seems a bit like what an Arcade Fire interpretation of The Smiths' "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" might be like. The blossoming, orchestral vibes of "The Gold" bring to mind bands like Arcade Fire, as well as the earlier works of bands like Coldplay. The lyrics of the song, such as, "Couldn't really love you anymore. You've become my ceiling" could pass for either band. If Manchester Orchestra were going for "the gold" here, as their song title would indicate, then clearly they've succeeded!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

New songs for the day after the 4th of July, 2017

here they are:

"New York" by St. Vincent: You never quite know what to expect with Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent. A lot of her songs sound like a cross between Bjork and Prince, but there are also other kinds of St. Vincent songs and albums, such as her album, "Love This Giant", with new wave legend David Byrne, and songs whose questionable subject matter and titles are set off by their soothing sound, like "Laughing With A Mouth of Blood". Since I had only really come to know St. Vincent once she released her 2011 breakthrough song, "Cruel", I feel like I might have been missing out on some of the songs she did before. That being said, she probably has done sensitive ballads before, but "New York" is one of the only ballads I have heard of hers so far, and the only one on which piano is the sole accompanying instrument. "New York" is a rather mournful song, in which Annie pines that she "has lost a hero" and "has lost a friend". Not sure if she is bemoaning the loss of a person or the "loss" (artistically speaking, I guess) of New York itself, but either way, it's nice to hear yet another facet of the ever so fascinating St. Vincent catalog!

"Skin" by Rag N Bone Man: Hot on the strength of his surprise fall 2016 hit, "Human", Rag N Bone Man is now poised to put out a second hit song with "Skin". His music once again defies racial and musical boundaries in a creation that is all his own. An icy, bittersweet mix of R & B, electronica, and rock, "Skin" is a very vulnerable song, much like its predecessor, "Human". Its lyrics are a rumination on RNBM's future state, and how he will continue thinking about the object of his affections even when he grows old. Few lyrics in modern music are as heartfelt and open as, "Helpless I surrender, shackled to your love".

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

New songs for June 28th, 2017

here they are:

"Damaged One" by Big Head Todd and The Monsters: The "neo-Dead" jam bands of the early '90s seemed to either be complex like Phish and Widespread Panic, or they were more accessible to pop audiences the way that Spin Doctors or Blues Traveler were. Big Head Todd and The Monsters are unique among all these bands in that their brand of jam band music creates a balance between experimental jam band music and pop based jam band music, and they tend to have fans on both sides. Now soldiering on into their third decade as a band, Big Head Todd and The Monsters continue to rock with their latest song, "Damaged One". Lead singer, "Big Head" Todd Park Mohr, centers this song around how, presumably in a relationship of some sort, he was "already the damaged one". With the upbeat rock 'n' roll sound of this song, though, you'd never be able to tell!

"Don't Matter Now" by George Ezra: In late summer of 2014, George Ezra's peppy folk-rock tune, "Budapest", was the surprise alternative rock radio hit of the year! For a quiet sounding musician, his song sure made a lot of noise! 3 years later, in the early summer of 2017, George cranks out yet another song perfect for the summer season with "Don't Matter Now". The central message of the song seems to be, "Do what you can while you can, and try to have fun." The laid back theme of this song, combined with its happy brass section and even happier "doo-doo-doo"s punctuating the middle and end of the song, make this one a can't miss song for your next pool party or barbecue!

"Time's Always Leaving" by The Lone Bellow: This song still retains the roots-rock feel of most Lone Bellow songs, yet it also sounds more upbeat than most of their material does! The question is, why? The band have been through a lot of changes since they last released an album together. Zach and Brian are now dads, and Kanine is now a mom. Additionally, in a true country-rock move, they also moved from the tough rock 'n' roll streets of Brooklyn to country music haven, Nashville, within the three years it took for them to release this song. Even lyrically, "Time's Always Leaving" isn't exactly a happy song, what with its depiction of time as a "cruel mistress". Yet the trio sounds happier than they ever have before in this song. Go figure!

"Whole Wide World" by Cage the Elephant: "Stranger Than Fiction" fans, rejoice! The song that Will Ferrell's character, Harold Crick, sings in an attempt to seduce Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal), is now being covered by alt-rock group, Cage the Elephant! At the time of "Stranger Than Fiction"'s initial release to theaters, "Whole Wide World" was a little known melodic garage rock styled song by Wreckless Eric, who was sort of like a lesser known Elvis Costello or Joe Jackson. Yet now, for millions of people (myself included), "Whole Wide World" can't be thought of WITHOUT that scene from "Stranger Than Fiction". I'm guessing CTE were fans of the movie as well. After all, how else do you think they even know this song?! Matt Shultz and co do the song justice, retaining the original key, rhythm, and instrumentation so well that it'd be incredibly hard to tell this apart from the original! Now I just gotta wait for The Kooks to cover The Jam's "That's Entertainment" (also featured in "Stranger Than Fiction") and my life will be complete!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

New songs for June 21st, 2017

here they are:

"Fool's Errand" by Fleet Foxes: Look up the phrase "fool's errand" online or in a dictionary and your answer will be, "a task with no hope or success". The Fleet Foxes song, "Fool's Errand", is NOT a fool's errand! Like many of Fleet Foxes' songs, "Fool's Errand" contains plenty of effort and emotion. For those who were a little miffed by the prog-rock-ish direction that Fleet Foxes took earlier this year with "Third of May", "Fool's Errand" might be a little easier to stomach, since it's more of a straight folk-rock song with no out of place meanderings in the middle. The "fool's errand" mentioned in the song, thankfully, is not the song itself, but a failed relationship, which is common subject matter in Fleet Foxes' songs, along with mysterious but alluring allegorical themes. Perhaps if I listen to this song more, I'll catch a hidden allegorical meaning(s) within it, but my first impression of this song is that it's already a good one!

"Golden Dandelions" by Barns Courtney: Barns Courtney blazed the alt and adult charts last spring and summer with his steamy, blues-y mega-hit, "Fire". This summer, he's already back with a new song, "Golden Dandelions". The hollow but catchy drumbeats that made "Fire" (and its followup hit, "Glitter And Gold") such a big hit are also present on "Golden Dandelions". A big difference between "Golden Dandelions" and Barns Courtney's previous songs is that it seems to want to sound more like a bright, energetic pop song, but even with that, "Golden Dandelions" still manages to win me over because it just sounds so unique! Plus, who wouldn't think of lyrics like "lay me down in golden dandelions" as being so full of vivid, poetic imagery?!

"The Man" by The Killers: The Killers release their first album in 4 years and we get...ummm...something that sounds like a cross between Daft Punk's "Da Funk" and The Who's "Eminence Front"?! Huh?!? How'd THIS happen?! Well, as weird as this description might sound, Brandon Flowers and co actually manage to make this song work in a way that only they can! So who is "the man", you might be wondering?! The answer is Brandon Flowers himself! However, no one is really sure if he's saying this because he has such a big ego (which I don't think he does, really) or because he's making fun of himself. The Killers' debut album from 2004 was actually filled with disco-meets-rock songs, so "The Man" actually sounds like an old Killers song instead of a new one! For those expecting the grandiose Springsteen/U2 type sound that The Killers had after their debut, you may be disappointed. For everyone else, Brandon Flowers really IS "the man"!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

New songs for June 14th 2017

here they are:

"Blue Magic" by Son Little: Son Little's debut song, "The River", brought 1950's style blues into the 21st century! Now, Son Little has turned more towards early 1970's R & B for "Blue Magic". Plenty of funky riffs interspersed with soothing wind instrumentation to be found here. Like its title implies, there is something magical about this song. It's as though you're floating on air when you listen to it!

"Call It Dreaming" by Iron & Wine: After a few albums of experimenting with a full band sound, Sam Beam returns to his acoustic roots with his latest song, "Call It Dreaming". There isn't a lot of instrumentation in this one aside from acoustic guitar and very light percussion. It may be getting close to summer right now, but for Sam, every day is autumn in bittersweet songs like this one. In the chorus of the song, he states, "Where we drift and call it dreaming, we can weep and call it singing". Pure poetry!

"Die Young" by Sylvan Esso: A song that came out around the time I was born by James Taylor stated, "never die young". Sylvan Esso take the opposite approach of what James did on their latest tune. This is evident as early as Sylvan Esso's opening lyrics for the song, "I was gonna die young", suggesting the song might be about an attempted suicide. The rather dour, minor key tone of "Die Young" isn't exactly heartwarming either. The soft to loud synth taking the lead on this song makes it seem like the folks at Nintendo decided to compose a grunge song. Live fast if you must, but please, never die young!

"Perfect Places" by Lorde: The New Zealand pop starlet continues to contemplate whether or not she wants such a status in her second big 2017 song, "Perfect Places". She repeatedly pines in the song how "it's just another graceless night" every time she goes out to hook up with someone. "Every night I live and die, meet somebody, take 'em home" is also a central line in this world weary song. By the end of the song, she wonders just what "perfect places" are to begin with, since every hookup she has just ends up in misery. This song might sound like pop music to the casual listener, but the lyrics seem to be the closest thing to Joy Division that an adolescent has attempted so far!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

New songs for June 7th 2017

here they are:

"Driver" by Billy Raffoul: This song has a rather slow buildup, but once it reaches that point it explodes! Billy Raffoul's husky, roots-rock vocals mix with vaguely Peter Gabriel-esque world-music-cum-rock-music during the verses. Once the chorus comes along, the guitars get slightly louder and ultimately crescendo into a loud, triumphant arena rock roar, slightly reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen or U2 circa the mid 1980's. Billy's debut song, "Driver", appears to be about him wanting to be in control during certain situations where he feels helpless otherwise. "Driver" is a very driven song, in more ways than one!

"Everything Now" by Arcade Fire: An appropriate song title for a band who really has covered everything. Arcade Fire have done it all, from folk-rock to post-punk to psychedelic to prog-rock. One thing they haven't covered (to my knowledge) is disco. Until now, that is. "Everything Now" is a 5 minute song that mixes sunshiny harmonies and melodies with groovy, soulful beats. As if that wasn't disco-y enough, the string section in this song even sounds a bit like ABBA. Arcade Fire are not ordinarily this bubbly and optimistic sounding, though, so perhaps there's a layer of cynicism beneath its bright surface. Win Butler might be trying to warn us here that instant gratification, which seems to be the central theme of this song, is not always a good thing.

"Holding On" by The War on Drugs: Mixing the grandiose yet earnest arena rock of Bruce Springsteen with the more understated but pristine vibes of Roxy Music, The War on Drugs' latest song, "Holding On", would not have been out of place on The War on Drugs' 2013 record. It combines The WOD's two "hits" from their previous album, using the relentless beat of "Red Eyes" and mixing it with the relative F sharp major key of "Under the Pressure". The Springsteen-ian chimes that come in during the chorus really help to distinguish this song from some of their other ones. "Holding On" is nothing life changing or groundbreaking, but it's a great song to escape into after a long, hard day of school or work.

"I Dare You" by The xx: Aside from Beach House, The xx are probably one of the only contemporary bands out there whose music is influenced by "dream pop" from the late '80s and early '90s. The Sundays, The Cranberries, and Cocteau Twins were some of the better known names from this subgenre back when it was first starting out. Although The xx's approach to this uses more keyboards than it does guitars, their song "I Dare You" definitely evokes the lush harmonies and ethereal vibe that those types of groups typically went for. The exchange between male and female vocals also sounds quite lovely on this track. Listening to this song is like floating on a cloud, just as heavenly and just as fluffy.

"Living In the City" by Hurray for the Riff Raff: Not since Cowboy Junkies covered The Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane" in the late '80s has there been a song that blends country-rock with Lou Reed quite like this one does. Hurray for the Riff Raff's "Living In the City" is more upbeat than pretty much anything that Cowboy Junkies have done. HFTRR's lead singer Alynda Segarra is actually my age (29 years old) and hails from New Orleans, but this song makes it seem more like she's a New Yorker somewhere close to 70 with her spiky yet accessible urban lyrical poetry, slightly reminiscent of folks like Lou Reed and Patti Smith. As they say in "Rent", "Viva la vie Boheme!"

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

New songs for May 31st, 2017

here they are:

"Automatic" by Mondo Cozmo: Mondo Cozmo won the hearts of millions with their simple yet sentimental folk-rock tune, "Shine", back in fall of last year. You might be surprised to know that Mondo Cozmo's second big song, "Automatic", doesn't contain even a trace of "Shine"'s sincere, earnest folk-rock sound. Instead, it sounds a bit more like something Moby might have done, with its combination of melodic vocals and dance-pop-y music. Joshua Ostrander (who, by himself, is "Mondo Cozmo") was apparently influenced by Beck with both this song and Mondo Cozmo's other material, and how no Beck song sounds like the other. Joshua wants Mondo Cozmo to be perceived in the same manner. I'd say he's succeeded so far!

"City of Angels" by The Head and The Heart: What better subject matter for a song than falling in love with someone in my own hometown?! Well, while the topic of the song might be a good one, "City of Angels" seems to crank out more of the "new" Head and The Heart sound that they've had ever since spring of last year. The piano is still there, but the acoustic guitars are not present, just as they were absent on "All We Ever Knew" and "Rhythm And Blues". The sound of "City of Angels" suggests a slightly more rocking and roots-y version of Coldplay. One thing the song has going for it is how it becomes a bit slower midway through.

"He's Fine" by The Secret Sisters: The Secret Sisters might have been able to remain a secret from traditional FM radio stations, but adult alt and indie-folk audiences have known about them for quite awhile now. "He's Fine" looks like it will be their first significant adult alt radio hit, and not without reason. The sound of this song seems to emulate recent all-girl indie-folk acts, such as First Aid Kit and Joseph, as opposed to the bluegrass-rock sound they've become known for among fans. "He's Fine" might sound cute and fluffy on the surface, but upon closer listening, it becomes clear that the song is actually about a guy, Davey White, who has been seeing another girl and is still "fine" with the fact that he has betrayed his former lover's heart. Love might not be easy, but music always is!

"Mourning Sound" by Grizzly Bear: Grizzly Bear have often been known for their sleepy yet neo-psychedelic sound. Songs of theirs like "Sleeping Ute" and "Yet Again" are drenched with fuzzy guitar feedback, yet they still manage to sound dreamy. "Mourning Sound" is kind of like that, although it might be the first Grizzly Bear song to use artificial percussion instead of opting for the real thing. There is also noticeably more droning synthesizer used in "Mourning Sound" than there is on Grizzly Bear's other material. With a title like "Mourning Sound", I was expecting this song to sound bittersweet and melancholy. Instead, it sounds like a techno song mated with a psychedelic song that somehow got lost in the woods.

"Whiteout Conditions" by The New Pornographers: The NP's are really expanding their sound on their latest album! Their sound could typically be described as power pop, but their surprisingly big adult alt radio hit, "High Ticket Attractions", could be viewed as their hardest rocking track yet, recalling the sound of bands like The Cars, whose chunky, meaty guitar riffs were just as notable as their breezy, summery vibe overall. The title track of The New Pornographers' latest album, "Whiteout Conditions", also allows the band to explore previously uncharted musical territory. It might just be the most synth heavy NP's song yet. Its icy yet danceable sound recalls that of groups like Joy Division, The Cure, and Depeche Mode.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New songs for May 24th 2017

here they are:

"Second One to Know" by Chris Stapleton: I don't usually gravitate towards country musicians, but when I do they usually have at least a slight trace of rock music in their sound. This is most certainly the case with Chris Stapleton's latest song, "Second One to Know", which would not sound out of place on a Lynyrd Skynyrd or ZZ Top record. The song comes off like "Sweet Home Alabama" played two semitones lower. Chris seems to have an affinity for Southern rock musicians, as can be seen from a skit on Jimmy Fallon's show in which Jimmy, Chris, and Kevin Bacon perform ZZ Top's "Legs" while passing themselves off as ZZ Top in the process. I'm happy to be one of the first ones to know about "Second One to Know"!

"The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness" by The National: And the winner for longest song title in the world goes to...The National! 7 words used in a single song title is rare, but Matt Berninger and the boys pull it off here. What they also pull off in "The System..." is their first attempt at going from maudlin, orchestral indie-pop to a brooding yet more accessible attempt at just straight up rock music. The song even includes an electric guitar solo, for goodness' sakes, which may be a first for The National. A song like this one probably wouldn't sound too out of place on a Pink Floyd record.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

New songs for May 10th 2017

here they are:

"Can I Sit Next to You?" by Spoon: The song's title suggests a simple plea for love, yet the instrumentation of the song tells a slightly different story. Its funky sound suggests that Britt Daniels has already "sat next" to the person in question that the song was directed to. This is definitely a song that makes you want to do anything BUT sit. Instead, it makes you wanna dance! Spoon usually have a way of balancing out soul and rock influenced material with more tender folk-rock-ish ballads on their albums. For their latest album, though, it's been two funky songs in a row so far. Can't go wrong with that!

"It Ain't Right" by Current Swell: I only know one other song by Current Swell so far besides this one, and that song is a buoyant yet quirky folk-rock song called "Too Cold". "It Ain't Right" has a bit less of the quirk element and less of the folk element than "Too Cold". Understandably, a few of Current Swell's original fans are a little disappointed by this one. While "It Ain't Right" definitely has a more commercial sound, I wouldn't call it a "sellout" song. It still has an "indie" enough sound to appeal to people like me, but now it's more indie-pop than indie-folk.

"Pleasure" by Feist: Feist is best known for pleasantly peppy folk-rock numbers like "1234", but her most loyal fans know that the true scope of her musical repertoire is more eclectic than that. The title of her latest song might be "Pleasure", but its sound doesn't exactly indicate that she is pleased. In fact, it sounds like she's a bit unsettled and shaken in this one. Its quiet verses/loud chorus dynamics are even reminiscent of grunge music. Feist uses the same sort of trick PJ Harvey did in her spooky '94 hit, "Down By the Water", in which she uses a disquieting, trembling sound that you would expect to build up eventually into a full blown, raging, manic rock song, yet it never does. Feist goes one step further than PJ here by providing no drums. Pleasure?! Only for the truly daring does that word describe this song!

"Sarah Surrender" by Gov't Mule: When jam band Gov't Mule last released a song together that was a hit on adult alt radio stations, it was "Funny Little Tragedy", which Elvis Costello was a part of, and which was probably the closest Gov't Mule got to a punk rock song! "Sarah Surrender" is definitely a calmer and less acerbic song in comparison. Fitting with its alliteration involving the letter "S", "Sarah Surrender" is a smooth yet spicy serenade that is sizzling, soothing, sultry, and steamy! Warren Haynes and the boys still rock it in this song, like usual, and there are some fine, slick guitar licks peppered throughout it. However, there aren't any prominent guitar solo parts like there usually are in Warren Haynes and Gov't Mule songs.

"Want You Back" by Haim: Haim, an indie pop trio consisting entirely of sisters with the last name "Haim", made a big splash in fall 2013 with their summery rocker, "The Wire". It's only a month away from summer now, yet Haim's latest song, "Want You Back", sounds more autumnal than summery. Like Fleetwood Mac, whom Haim covered early on in their career, Haim have the ability to rock out, be straight up pop, and be sentimental folk-rockers. OK, to call "Want You Back" a "folk-rock" song might be a bit of a stretch if you consider how funky the bass riffs are and how mechanical its percussion is, but hidden beneath the bass and drums is a more subtle but more organic sounding acoustic guitar and a lovely piano sound as well. Haim, you don't have to want me back. You've got me back already, along with thousands of other loyal listeners who will probably be playing this song ad nauseam this summer!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

New songs for May 3rd 2017

here they are:

"Canyon" by Joseph: This song has the same sort of wistful, bittersweet vibe as the first two big songs Joseph have released, "White Flag" and "S.O.S. (Overboard)". A major difference is that "Canyon" is not written in D major, but instead in G sharp minor, giving it a bit more of a melancholy sound than their previous two singles. Lyrically, it seems to be about trying to attempt a relationship with someone else who does not want one. I'm noticing a little theme in their songs. "White Flag" symbolizes surrender, and "S.O.S." signifies a call for help. There's probably a number of ways to interpret the title and lyrics of the song "Canyon", but I would venture to say that it is most likely a metaphor for viewing relationships as deep, endless, and hard to fathom, much like canyons are in real life.

"J-Boy" by Phoenix: J-Boy?! What's a J-Boy?! Is it someone who goes on "Sesame Street" to talk about the letter J and carry it around?! Is it a boy whose name begins with the letter J?! Because the song's title isn't mentioned in the lyrics, we may never know the answer to this one. What we do know, however, is that Phoenix, the French indie-pop quartet best known for irresistibly quirky and danceable songs like "1901" and "Lisztomania", have released a new song that shows a bit more cynicism within its lyrical content than they have usually been known to do. "J-Boy" presents itself as a love song, but with lines like "The truth is that we're all to blame. There are lies and moral consequences", "Stealing money from a homeless girl", and "Kamikaze in a hopeless world", it becomes apparent that Thomas Mars might just be weeping for the future of humanity and masking his opinions with a catchy dance-pop sound designed to distract the "casual listener" from its lyrical content.

"The Night We Met" by Lord Huron: This song is now two years old, so why is it just now getting attention? Apparently, this is because the song was just recently featured in the controversial Netflix drama series, "13 Reasons Why". I know pretty much nothing about this series because I'm an old fogey (not really) who is more nostalgic about the shows of the past than those of the present, but "The Night We Met" is the slowest and saddest song I've heard from Lord Huron's "Strange Trails" album. A great number of those songs followed a pattern of going between F sharp minor and A major throughout, as does this one. It is the slow, almost waltz-like pace of "The Night We Met" that sets it apart from the others. The song is probably meant to be a way of expressing nostalgia for a lover that the leader singer knew in his past, but adding it to the soundtrack of "13 Reasons Why" seems to give it a sadder tone given how dark I've heard the series can be.

"Witness" by Benjamin Booker and Mavis Staples: The seamless blending of soul and rock makes Benjamin Booker's latest song, "Witness", sound a bit like a Joe Cocker song, albeit with more of a gospel flavor (perhaps the gospel influence in this song is due to Mavis Staples' presence on it). Mavis has been quite the busy lady this year, having appeared earlier on a notably fiery protest song by Arcade Fire. As for Benjamin, he is relatively new to the music scene in comparison, having released only one other album so far, and that was three years ago. His debut album had a very raw, in-your-face blues-rock sound. "Witness" continues the blues-rock pattern, but with a more soft, melodic flavor to it. It is yet another protest song, probably against the current state of American political affairs, that Mavis Staples has contributed to in 2017. The central point of the song could be summarized in the last lines of the first verse, "When your brother's dying, mother's crying, TV's lying, all the reasons in the world don't mean sh*t to me now!" Ben and Mavis both continue to inject their venomous yet righteous anger throughout this song!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New songs for April 26th 2017

here they are:

"In My World" by Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie: Not surprisingly, this duet from half of Fleetwood Mac sounds like, well, Fleetwood Mac. The throbbing bass line and its accompanying beat recall Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams", although the guitar arrangements for the song are entirely acoustic, unlike the acoustic/electric mix Fleetwood Mac is typically known for. The lyrical content could be viewed as a long awaited sequel to their infamous "Rumours" album. In contrast with the rock and roll soap opera "Rumours" was, "In My World" is more of a "what could have been" scenario, with words like, "In my world everybody stays. Nobody wishes for words they couldn't say."

"On My Mind" by The Outdoor Type: If the word "hipster" weren't such a pejorative term, it would probably be used to describe songs like this one. "On My Mind" by The Outdoor Type is a song that is laid back but still sleek and trendy. The song also name drops three cities during the chorus: New York, Berlin, and Paris, all three of which are known for being popular tourist attractions. This song is as hip as it is heavenly, and so far there isn't another song quite like it.

"Total Entertainment Forever" by Father John Misty: Nothing says "hipster" (in a bad way) like providing snide commentary on the current music scene, and that's exactly what Father John Misty's "Total Entertainment Forever" does. Why even bother to like this song, then? Well, first of all, Father John Misty has that odd but irresistible combination of coupling sarcastic and/or abstract lyrics with happy, pleasant musical arrangements, which keeps a lot of his fans appealed to his style of musicianship. Second of all, though his commentary might be a little harsh, it's also very RIGHT! "Total Entertainment Forever" is basically about how the current generation of youngsters has access to whatever they want whenever they want. FJM's ability to poke fun at millennials while still being fully aware that he is one himself seems comparable to how people like Randy Newman viewed Generation X-ers back when they were the current generation.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Blast from the past!! (And one more song)

Blondie and Red Hot Chili Peppers are two thirds of the new entries for the week?! Did I just take a trip in a time machine?! Nope, and even the third entry on this list sounds like it's from an older musician even though it isn't! Old is the new new, and here we go with this week's entries!

"Goodbye Angels" by Red Hot Chili Peppers: Not as reflective and soulful as "Dark Necessities" and not as much of a happy-go-lucky funk-rocker as "Go Robot", "Goodbye Angels", the third single from Red Hot Chili Peppers' latest album, is a song defined by its use of double-octave chords that gradually builds up into a faster song with fuller chords by the time the last 30 seconds or so kick in. Knowing the Peppers, "Angels" is probably a reference to their hometown (and mine), Los Angeles. The reference has occurred in a few of their songs, perhaps most famously "Under the Bridge", in which L.A. is referred to as the "City of Angels". The lyrics suggest it's about a girl(s), but the use of such imagery could be metaphorical for all I know. What is apparent is that the "goodbye" part of the song is a painful one, as the word "suicide" is mentioned a few times in the song. Whether this is the suicide of an actual person or the "suicide" (societal decay, perhaps?) of Los Angeles itself is unclear, but it's a bittersweet song nonetheless. I could do without the crazy buildup at the end, though.

"Long Time" by Blondie: Blondie?! Yes, THAT Blondie, the punk-cum-new-wave band from New York that pretty much screamed "girl power" in the late '70s and early '80s is back on the bandwagon!! Don't expect a powerful, gutsy rocker in the vein of "One Way Or Another", though. Debbie has mellowed out this time around, although this makes sense given how she is now 71 years old. No longer interested in melding the attitude of The Ramones with the harmonies of The Ronettes, she now turns to current electro-rock groups like TV on the Radio and Future Islands as her main musical inspirations for her latest song. Given how she has collaborated with both groups recently, this is hardly surprising, though perhaps slightly disappointing for those who might have wanted her to never be too old to rock and roll. Her voice, once young enough to sound like she was forever in her early 20's, now sounds a bit more motherly, but in a cool kinda way that only Debbie can truly pull off!

"River" by Leon Bridges": Not an old musician, but definitely an old soul, Leon Bridges has earned rightful comparisons to musicians like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding since his debut back in spring 2015, but in Leon's latest song, "River", he pulls off a feat that neither Sam nor Otis did. The song is a rare but sublime hybrid of folk music and soul music that is usually only able to be pulled off successfully by people like Tracy Chapman. During a lyrical journey that equates romantic love with spiritual love, a la Al Green, Leon passionately pleads the words "Take me to your river. I wanna know." What he wants to "know" is love, and it appears to be both that of a woman and that of God. Whichever one you prefer, though, "River" is a song with a smooth, quiet flow as steady as its title would suggest it has.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

New songs for April 12th 2017

here they are:

"Don't Take the Money" by Bleachers: An indie-pop band led by Jack Antonoff from 2010's alt-pop group, fun., Bleachers debuted in spring 2014. They took the new wave influences fun. had and ran with 'em in songs like the bubblegum-y, infectious, "I Wanna Get Better" and the Springsteen-goes-new-wave sounding song, "Rollercoaster". Three springs later, Bleachers have returned with yet another new wave influenced indie-pop tune, "Don't Take the Money". What's interesting about this song isn't the sound so much as the subject matter! It is actually about his relationship with "Girls" actress Lena Dunham. Here's another bit of music pop culture trivia behind the song that might just throw you for a loop. It was written by New Zealand alt-pop songstress, Lorde (best known for "Royals"). Being that Jack and Lena's relationship is a movie star/music star one, I dunno how long it's gonna last, but I guess one can always hope for the best!

"Love" by Lana Del Rey: The title of Lana's latest song might be a positive emotion, but the song itself is more of a bittersweet flavor, as are its lyrics. The four chords the song uses are very common in rock and pop music by now, particularly in songs like Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" and U2's "With Or Without You". Not even "With Or Without You" is this melancholy, though. Why is this? One reason is because of Lana's whispery, emotional vocals, which don't ever go from being passionately sweet to passionately loud like Bono's has been known to do. Another might be because fans of hers, such as myself, have come to associate her music with sadness. No song I have known of hers so far has been upbeat, and "Love" is not an exception to the rule.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

New songs for April 5th 2017

here they are:

"In Cold Blood" by alt-J: About a month after their initial single for this year, alt-J once again prove their geekiness in "In Cold Blood", in which the opening lyrics are actually binary code. They use this technique a few times in this song. "In Cold Blood" has a bit more of the quirky but funky alt-pop/rock that alt-J's listeners are used to than the surprisingly folk-y "3WW". It's unclear whether this is a love song, murder ballad, or summer song. It seems to be all three, though I don't exactly know how that's even possible. Leave it to alt-J to both stun and entertain their listeners!

"Shine On Me" by Dan Auerbach: The Traveling Blackberries?! That sounds like what the Black Keys frontman is trying to pull off in his latest song, "Shine On Me", which combines a roots-y twang with a retro rock beat in a similar fashion to a lot of Traveling Wilburys songs. The song also has a similar vibe to songs like "Queen of Hearts" by Dave Edmunds, another rock musician who performed roots rock in a retro 1950's style. I don't exactly know what has made Auerbach want to lose the trademark guitar fuzz he's become known for, but this isn't a bad direction for him to go in. Word of advice, Dan. Stick to bluesy garage rock next time. You're good at it!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

New songs for March 29th 2017

here they are:

"Big Boys" by Chuck Berry: Long live the King!! No, we are not talking about Elvis Presley here, we are talking about rock and roll's other King who lived to see 90 until a few weeks ago. If you guessed Chuck Berry, then you're absolutely right! A few weeks after his recent departure into Rock and Roll Heaven, a new song of his, "Big Boys", was released. For fans of the rock 'n' roll pioneer, "Big Boys" is guaranteed to please, as it features the trademark rhythms and guitar licks featured in most of Chuck's material. The song appears to be an ode to being young and having fun, fitting for a man whose music was full of relentless energy no matter when he performed it. Here's to a true rock legend! Without him, other recently deceased performers like Prince and David Bowie just wouldn't have been the same!

"Here Come the Girls" by Trombone Shorty: And speaking of musicians from the 1950's, this next song is actually a cover of a song by early R & B one-hit-wonder Ernie K Doe (best known for "Mother In Law"). How Trombone Shorty knew this song is anyone's guess, but its saucy, jazzy, soulful vibe is right up Trombone Shorty's alley! Shorty does Ernie K justice with his cover version of "Here Come the Girls", which retains the charm and sass of the original. Aside from their musical talent and style, another thing that Ernie K Doe and Trombone Shorty share in common is that they were both born and raised in New Orleans! Hardly surprising, as both versions of this song pack a punch as powerful as Cajun spice, but still worth your musical knowledge, as far as I'm concerned!

"Hope the High Road" by Jason Isbell: If this song is more rock than you're used to than that of the typical Jason Isbell solo song, that's partly because he is using his backing group, The 400 Unit, on it. Part of the reason that Isbell is opting for a rock sound here is because of the political outrage he is currently feeling, along with many other rock, folk, and alternative musicians. The chorus of "Hope the High Road" makes this clear when he says things like, "I know you're tired and you ain't sleeping well", and, "Uninspired and likely mad as hell." Yes, these lines are pointed towards the current leader of the United States. Isbell also hails from Alabama, so if you thought that most Southerners were Republicans, this song (and its musician) will challenge you to think again about things like that!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

New songs for March 22nd, 2017

here they are:

"Baby I'm Broken" by The Record Company: Their debut album's only a year old, and already blues-rock outfit, The Record Company, are hot on the heels of a brand new album for this year! Perhaps this was a result of songs like the saucy "Off the Ground" and the sizzlin' "Rita Mae Young" becoming such big hits on adult alt radio stations. The Record Co's third big song, "Baby I'm Broken", seems poised to do the same as its predecessors, and for the same reasons as well. In a year when rock and roll had continued to diminish into a desert island, The Record Company satisfied the thirst of classic rock and blues-rock fans everywhere, and that is why they became such a big hit with their listeners! "Baby I'm Broken" is twice the rock and twice the roll, with a fuzz soaked blues-y sound and vamp that probably brings bands like The Black Keys to mind.

"Restart" by BNQT: Banquet?! No, I think that "Bee-En-Kyoo-Tee", the individual letters of the band's name, is how you pronounce this one, although supposedly, "Banquet" was the original name of the band. BNQT are actually an indie-rock supergroup featuring members of Band of Horses, Grandaddy, Travis, and Franz Ferdinand, the first two of whom collaborated on a Christmas song together a few years back (I suppose that's how they know each other). Anyway, their debut song, "Restart", has a rather T. Rex-ish glam rock groove that none of the other bands the members are in have really achieved aside from possibly Franz Ferdinand. The song's chorus states that, "We could all use a restart". I would say that the phrase "throwback" is more accurate in terms of describing this song than "restart" is, but there's nothing wrong with a good throwback once in a while!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New songs for March 15th 2017

here they are:

"Don't Leave Me Here" by Taj Mahal and Keb' Mo': Two bluesmen, and one epic performance! Taj Mahal has been performing blues music since the 1960's and Keb' has done the same since the '90s. As has long been tradition in the blues, various locations of the U.S. are mentioned throughout the song. Taj and Keb' warn the listeners of the song that "if (they're) going to Mississippi, where the Delta sky is sweet and clear", that they should at least consider not leaving the singers in Chicago, since they are currently stuck there. This song boasts the trick up the blues musicians' sleeves in which they are able to turn sad subject matter into a soulful, toe tappin' tune!

"Face Like Thunder" by The Japanese House: Don't be fooled by the name of this band. There is absolutely nothing Japanese about them, though they probably have at least a few fans who actually are Japanese. Actually, The Japanese House is not even a "they", but one person, 21-year-old Amber Bain from London, England. Her sound is a dreamy, ethereal one which manages to combine "Hejira" era Joni Mitchell with the first few solo records of Annie Lennox. The lyrics, about someone who has a "face like thunder", are almost as alluring and exotic as the music itself. Amber sounds wise far beyond her years in this song. Hard to believe she's only 21!

"Third of May" by Fleet Foxes: It has actually been about 6 years since Fleet Foxes last released a new album. Between 2008 and 2011, they were on a pretty steady roll, but all of the members except for Josh "Father John Misty" Tillman seemed to disappear from the music world after that. This song is pretty much packed with everything Fleet Foxes fans tend to love about the band, so "Third of May" will definitely be hailed as a great "comeback" song within the coming weeks, if not sooner. Instrumentally, it is a beautiful song with folk-rock instrumentation and feedback that sounds more like echoes in a canyon than it does electronic static. It also wins in the lyrical department, at least as far as Fleet Foxes songs are concerned, with its nature related imagery serving as the surface words of a song about some sort of internal struggle between the sacred and the profane. Well, truth be told, this is really more like the first three and a half minutes of the song. After that it turns into a song that sounds like one The Moody Blues might have done had they still been together today. Yes, that's right, a prog-rock Fleet Foxes song! That's a first, specifically of the songs that the band has marketed to adult alt radio stations. It is soft prog-rock, but prog-rock nonetheless, as it meanders into more experimental territory after the first few minutes. This section of the song even has another name, "Odaigahara" (don't ask me to pronounce that, 'cause I haven't a clue). Well at least the the first couple minutes are fun to listen to!

"3WW" by alt-J: How nerdy is alt-J?! Well, they not only named themselves after the computer command for the "delta" symbol, but just take a look at how they came up with the title to this song! To start with, March 3rd (3-3) was when the band first had a tiny section of the song available online, they released the full song 3 days after that, and in 3 months and 3 days from now, the whole album will be released! Perhaps these guys have listened to the old "Schoolhouse Rock" tune, "3 Is A Magic Number", one too many times (three too many times)?! Yet, in spite of all these quirky qualities (or perhaps because of them), alt-J have still managed to score some of the biggest alt/indie hits of the 2010's, like "Breezeblocks" (which is about famed children's book, "Where the Wild Things Are"), and "Left Hand Free". "3WW" itself is actually the calmest song I have heard so far in alt-J's catalog. It is largely acoustic guitar, piano, vocals, and a string section in the background, and not much more. It's not often alt-J release acoustic guitar songs, but I must say that they're pretty good at it! Hope to hear more like this from them in the near future!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

New songs for March 8th 2017

here they are:

"A Little Uncanny" by Conor Oberst: In the fashion of his idol, Bob Dylan, Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes attempts here to make a roots-y folk-rock tune that contains plenty of name dropping and cryptic but interesting lyrics. Ronald Reagan, Robin Williams, Sylvia Plath and Jane Fonda are all mentioned here in this song. It's hard to tell what the central message of it is, but my best guess is that it gets spelled out towards the end of the song when Conor says, "They say a party can kill you. Sometimes I wish it would." As for what that means, perhaps he's trying to indicate that self-medication can sometimes feel painful after a long time of doing it. Given how critical Mr. Dylan tends to be of many things, I'm not sure if he'd find this song flattering or overbearing, but "A Little Uncanny" does seem to be the most Dylan-inspired song yet from Conor Oberst, who has done many other songs in his style as well.

"Black Tears" by Imelda May (featuring Jeff Beck): The wild, sassy Irishwoman who gave us fun ravin' rockers like "Mayhem" and "Inside Out" back in 2011 tones it down a bit for her latest song, "Black Tears", featuring legendary rock guitarist, Jeff Beck. This is also a calmer song for Jeff than most of his material as well, though he still shows his guitar wizardry in a more subtle manner here. The song bears similarity to the early '60s instrumental song, "Sleep Walk", by Santo and Johnny, in terms of both its slow doo-wop styled rhythm and its loopy Hawaiian influenced guitar sound. Imelda pours her emotions out like never before in "Black Tears" with a passion akin to musicians like Etta James and Janis Joplin. Bittersweet with a bite, "Black Tears" is a great song to listen to if you've recently broken up with someone.

"Feel It Still" by Portugal. The Man: Portugal. The Man may be big among "indie" fans, but they've always had a bit of an R & B streak hidden behind their neo-psychedelic pop facade. "Feel It Still" starts out with just bass and vocals, but gradually gets other instruments added in shortly afterward, most prominently a brass instrument that, when combined with the bass and drums, sounds like it would not be out of place in a "James Bond" or "Austin Powers" movie. PTM clearly want to reflect the era of both cinema and music from the mid '60s in "Feel It Still", going so far as to mention the year 1966 by name in a lyric that ends up being a play on words of the Chuck Berry song, "Route 66". The last verse of "Feel It Still" makes it apparent that "Feel It Still" is not just a song written for fun, but also for the cause of ending war, similar to statements they've made in songs of theirs like "So American" and "Modern Jesus".

"Fight For Love" by Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors: You probably already knew that you had to fight for your right to party, but did you know you also have to fight for your right to love? Well, country-rocker Drew Holcomb certainly seems to think so! In this roots-y John Mellecamp-esque number, Drew passionately pleads for peace among everyone. In contrast with the slightly rocking sound of this song, Drew sounds almost sad but urgent at the same time with the delivery of his lyrics. Love should be free, but sometimes you just gotta work for it instead!

"Green Light" by Lorde: The now 20-year-old "Royals" hitmaker, Ella Yelich O'Connor, better known by her stage name, "Lorde", has returned to grace the pop and rock airwaves a little wiser for the wear than she once was. She had a few bittersweet songs early on, like "Team", but most of her songs went for a catchy but somewhat mystical sound. "Green Light" has a slightly more melancholy sound, at least initially. The song plays out like a Tori Amos tune that starts to sound more like a Madonna song as it progresses and starts gaining more instruments than just the keyboard. The song is centered around what Lorde's life became like after her high school years. In interviews, she came off as down-to-earth and not nearly as obsessed with her own image as most pop stars tend to be. She even thought it was funny when "South Park" decided to make fun of her, so she has a pretty strong backbone! Or so it would seem. Having a popular television show skewer your image for comedy is nothing like trying to build a new image for your own self so that people don't see you as a "glamor queen" and instead see you as a serious artist. Hints of not feeling like "part of the crowd" were already evident with songs like "Tennis Court", which served as her scathing indictment of the high school drama she was then surrounded with, but "Green Light" brings it to a whole new level! This song will probably make a huge impression on people who are fans of more music than just pop and rock!

"Wild Fire" by Laura Marling: This song may be gentle, but its words are most certainly not! Laura Marling's latest song, "Wild Fire", seems to emulate her idol, Joni Mitchell, both lyrically and musically. From the song's opening question, "Are you trying to make a cold liar out of me?" to its penultimate lyrical statement of, "You can stop playing that sh*t out on me", it's clear that "Wild Fire" is, well, wild and fiery! Laura is no soft, gentle hippie chick. She means business here! Then again, Joni Mitchell was never comfortable being referred to as a "hippie chick" either. For every whimsical musing like "Big Yellow Taxi" and "Both Sides Now" Joni had, she also aimed caustic, stinging messages to her exes in songs like "Nathan LaFraneer" and "Raised On Robbery". Likewise, for every bittersweet song like "Sophia" that Laura has, she also has songs that are just plain old bitter, like "Wild Fire"!