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"!

















Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A D-lightful pair of songs!

Only two songs this week, and they both begin with the same letter. Here they are:


"Darling" by Real Estate: A hypnotic, tantalizing swirl of psych-pop guitars and new wave synths grace the first minute and a half of this song without vocals. Once the vocals kick in, they sound halfway between sweet and dazed, fitting for this song. Not a whole lot here in the lyrical department, which is basically a love song with nature related images for its words, such as black and yellow finches, the sun, and the moon. The F, C, G pattern of the chords continues throughout this song too. The hazy, loopy, yet still melodic vibe of this song make me think that the "real estate" these guys bought was probably somewhere up in Santa Cruz, or maybe Haight-Ashbury!


"Devil's Teeth" by Muddy Magnolias: The eras this song goes for is basically any time but now! Soul, blues, bluegrass, and garage rock fuse into one genre for this song. No auto-tune, samples from other songs, or synthesizers to be found here. The spooky but fun title of this song makes it sound sorta blues-y, and that's pretty much exactly what you'll get when you hear this song! Come to think of it, the "Muddy" part of the band's moniker makes me think of legendary blues singer, Muddy Waters. I'm pretty sure that's not merely coincidence!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New songs for the day after Valentine's Day

here they are:


"Blame" by Bastille: You would have never expected the "Pompeii" hitmakers to pull off a song that uses glam rock style guitar fuzz, did you? Well, nor did I, but so far I'm liking the new direction Bastille have gone in. Queen seems to have been a particular influence on Bastille's latest material, as has been evident so far from the "Under Pressure" soundalike "Good Grief", and now with the blazing hot opening riffs of Bastille's latest song, "Blame", as well. Perhaps the forceful, compelling sound of "Blame" was intentional in order to reflect the dark lyrical themes of the song, centering around a gang fight. Musical battles haven't been this exciting since Michael Jackson told us to "Beat It" back in 1982!


"In A Black Out" by Hamilton Leithauser: If you were hoping that the next song I reviewed for the week would be more peaceful, then you got your wish! "In A Black Out" has a nice little rippling sound throughout that reminds me of the flowing of a river, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who notices that. It can be viewed as a peaceful song, but it can also be viewed as bittersweet due to some of the lyrics it has, such as "I live in a nameless town" and "many friends have said goodbye". The "blackout" Hamilton appears to be experiencing does not seem to be a scary or sudden one and is instead more of a state of sadness.


"Love Do What It Do" by Robert Randolph (featuring Darius Rucker from Hootie & The Blowfish): Hootie and The Blowfish provided some calm to the otherwise angst-y rock of the '90s. Nothing wrong with that, but when Darius went country I decided not to pay attention to him anymore. Until now, that is, because I do love me some blues-rock every once in awhile, and Robert Randolph knows how to lay down some mean blues! Surprisingly, the vocals of Hootie frontman blend in quite well with the blues-y guitar chops of Robert Randolph. The message of the song is pretty much spelled out in the title of the song, and is literally spelled out in the chorus as Darius passionately sings, "L-O-V-E, love! Let it do what it do!"


"Reverend" by Kings of Leon: Not nearly as compelling as their 2016 mega-hit, "Waste A Moment", but then again the sophomore singles from new albums tend to be like that. Still, though, "Reverend" is worth the listen since it does contain the 21st century indie-cum-arena-rock that KOL have now become known for. The chorus of the song uses a rather strange metaphor, comparing the passion of a lover to a "reverend on the radio". Huh?! Well, perhaps Caleb Followill is not speaking about his relationship with a partner, but his relationship with God. After all, the members of the band were all the sons of a United Pentecostal Minister!


"They Put A Body In the Bayou" by The Orwells: We're probably never going to know who put a body in the bayou, or what the name of the person was to whom the body belonged to, for that matter. What we do know is that The Orwells are one fiery, kickin' rock group whose sound blends garage rock with blues rock in a similar manner to groups like The Black Keys, The White Stripes, and the harder edged Cage the Elephant songs. The lyrics of "They Put A Body In the Bayou" center around a girl who died of drug addiction at an early age, but instead of treating this as sad or sorrowful subject matter, The Orwells inject all their fury and righteous anger into this powerhouse track that has woken up the monster that is rock and roll!


"Where's the Revolution?" by Depeche Mode: Not since their 2009 track, "Wrong", has there been such a heavily anticipated Depeche Mode song. It is because of the mysterious and tumultuous state of current political affairs that the notoriously gloomy 1980's electro-rock group Depeche Mode have decided to release a new track, and their complaints can be detected right from the title of their song! Where IS the revolution?! DM rage against the electoral college machine and answer the titular question as best they can with a palpable, scathing sense of anger! If it wasn't for the recognizable vocals of Dave Gahan, this could easily be a Nine Inch Nails track! As T. Rex's Marc Bolan once proclaimed in song during the Nixon era, "You won't fool the children of the revolution!"


"Young Lady, You're Scaring Me" by Ron Gallo: Actually it's a young MAN named Ron who's scaring ME into thinking that we've somehow traveled back in time to the mid 1960's! Echoes of many epic '60s rock tunes, ranging from Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe" to The Chambers Brothers' "Time Has Come Today" to The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For the Devil" can all be heard in this psychedelic blues-rock tune! The song just seems to be about a guy falling in love with a girl, but the tune itself is enough to wake up dead rock and roll zombies and get them on their feet dancin' and jammin' the night away! Long live rock and roll!!






Wednesday, February 8, 2017

New songs for February 8th 2017

here they are:


"Ballad of the Dying Man" by Father John Misty: Father John Misty continues to prove himself to be more indie than indie with each song he releases! This includes his latest song, the Beatle-esque "Ballad of the Dying Man". The chord progression is reminiscent of some of The Beatles' more progressive leaning tunes, such as "A Day In the Life" and "Sexy Sadie". Lyrically, "Ballad of the Dying Man" is also rather progressive, as it is one of the rare modern songs to take on a narrative perspective instead of a more direct one. It's obvious that FJM is trying to make his listeners sympathize with his character from the song's bittersweet lyrics and its equally bittersweet sound. What will he think of next?!


"Believer" by Imagine Dragons: Princess Peach from the "Mario" games is about to have her castle stormed by dragons! Imagine Dragons, that is, and I say this because it was a recent Nintendo ad that propelled Imagine Dragons' latest song, "Believer", on such a quick path to popularity among its listeners! As if that wasn't enough, it was also an ad featured in the Superbowl. Imagine Dragons never fail to excite, and "Believer" is definitely the sort of song to keep you on your feet when you're in the mood for it! As is typical of ID's material, "Believer" is a lively, dynamic song with somewhat sad lyrics behind it (about how "pain makes you a believer"). Given both the song's success in a video game company commercial and the in-your-face arena rock quality of Imagine Dragons' music, perhaps they should consider renaming themselves "Mario's Speedwagon"!


"Love Is Mystical" by Cold War Kids: Here is yet another song that has that indie-pop-cum-arena-rock type of sound! Cold War Kids started out being more straight up indie, but ever since the unexpected success of their song, "First", they seem to have adjusted their sound to be more fitting for a more massive mainstream audience. The song only has three chords, but it certainly makes its central statement known! Love is indeed mystical. It is also energetic and worth celebrating, as the vibe of this song has proven to me!


"Poetry" by Ray Davies: Yes, THAT Ray Davies! The lead singer of the legendary rock group, The Kinks. Those expecting a song like "Lola" or "You Really Got Me" might be a little disappointed, though. This song is more like a modernized update on the sorts of songs that Buffalo Springfield or Crosby, Stills, & Nash might have been likely to do, in terms of its sound. For those who know that alt-country group, The Jayhawks, are backing him up on this song, its Americanized folk-rock sound should come as no surprise. The song is a bittersweet lament on what the world is missing today - poetry! "Where is the poetry?" Ray mournfully inquires during the song's chorus. Ray, you're MAKING poetry just by performing this song and singing it!


"Ran" by Future Islands: There have been quite a few songs called "Run". Vampire Weekend, Collective Soul, Snow Patrol, and Eric Clapton have all done different songs with that same title. Future Islands, on the other hand, have now released what is, to my knowledge, the first song of which the title is the past tense of the word "run", as opposed to its present tense form. During the height of their popularity in summer 2014 with "Seasons (Waiting On You)", I saw them in concert and expected "Seasons" to be the only song they would be known for. "Ran" has proven me wrong. Similar to "Seasons...", "Ran" is a modern-day synth-pop song in the key of B flat major. The yearning, lovelorn lyrics of "Ran", combined with the key it is in, seem to make it serve as a "sequel song" to "Seasons...". In "Seasons...", Sam Herring sang about how he was "waiting on" his loved one for such a long time that it made him ache inside. In "Ran", Sam seems to come to the realization that he was waiting in vain, asking his lover, "What's a song without you, when every song is about you?" Those who will be single this coming Valentine's Day just got one more song to listen to thanks to Future Islands!














Wednesday, February 1, 2017

New songs for February 1st 2017

here they are:


"High Ticket Attractions" by The New Pornographers: The indie-pop band with a scandalous name now has a song with an equally scandalous sound (in a good way)! "High Ticket Attractions" sounds like what The Cars would sound like without guitar solos. In true, biting-the-hand, indie-pop fashion, The NP's have crafted out a pop song that sounds mindlessly happy, but actually seems to be a "take that" to the music biz upon closer lyrical examination. Even the song's title, "High Ticket Attractions", sounds somewhat sarcastic, as though the band is mocking other groups who revel in their own success.


"Jackpot" by Nikki Lane: Nikki Lane's slick brand of country-rock never really hit me until now. "Jackpot" IS a jackpot, in a few different ways! The song gets its title and subject matter from its lyrical themes of scoring big bucks in Las Vegas, but Miss Lane also hits the "jackpot" by combining country music style twang with Little Richard style energy! The main riff in the song is similar to Led Zeppelin's "Rock And Roll" (which itself borrowed from Little Richard's "Keep-A-Knockin'"), and if that isn't a throwback enough to the early days of rock 'n' roll, Nikki also sings the words "Viva Las Vegas" during the chorus, which, of course, were first uttered exuberantly by Elvis Presley, the King of Rock 'N' Roll himself! This song is proof that what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas!


"Keep It Between the Lines" by Sturgill Simpson: From country-rock to country-soul! The multitalented Sturgill Simpson, whose name has become a little more well-known lately thanks to his recent "Saturday Night Live" appearance, churns out another kickin' tune in his repertoire! "Keep It Between the Lines" combines the best of both Memphis worlds. It has Memphis soul with blaring, spirited saxes a la Otis Redding combined with guitars giving off a country twang in the background to remind people of the genre more associated with the famous Tennessee town. It might come as a surprise to some, then, that Sturgill isn't actually from Tennessee. He is from Kentucky, though, and they do call that the Bluegrass State!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

New songs for January 25th 2017

here they are:


"All I'm Asking" by Band of Heathens: Band of Heathens have actually been around for awhile, but this is the first song I've heard of theirs so far. It is a roots-y rock number slightly reminiscent of acts like The Band. It starts out with a thumping, funky bass line, but as a honky-tonk sounding piano and various string instruments in the background start to come in, "All I'm Asking" starts to get a bit more of a shape as a song. The chord progression from A major to F sharp minor is a bit like The Small Faces' "Itchycoo Park". A song like this one wouldn't have been out of place in another decade, and it is only from the production of the record that you can tell that this is not actually an older song.


"Angela" by The Lumineers: First "Ophelia", then "Cleopatra", now "Angela"?! Is it just me, or does Wesley Schultz have more girls on his mind than just his bandmate, Neyla Pekarek?! Of the three titular girls, "Angela" seems to suffer less than the other two characters. Ophelia and Cleopatra both suffered in their respective songs, which I suppose makes sense since the names of both are synonymous with Shakespeare characters, but Angela is a more liberated character, one who feels "home at last", as the refrain in her song states. The epic saga of The Lumineers only continues from here!


"Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm)" by Chicano Batman: You're not gonna hear bands with a name like "Chicano Batman" every day, are you?! Didn't think so! Well, as it turns out, you're not gonna hear their kind of music every day either! The weirdly named quartet (who are, in fact, Chicano, but sadly not alternate identities for Batman), have an eclectic blend of late '60s styled soul music, Latino rhythms, swirling psychedelic guitar riffs, and groovy organ riffs, all in one brightly colored package! To top off all the excitement you might be getting just from reading this, Chicano Batman happen to hail from my hometown, which is none other than Los Angeles!


"Hungry Ghost" by Hurray for the Riff Raff: It's not even the second month of the year and already I have a good song for this year's Halloween playlist! The mysterious, spooky (but fun) vibes of Hurray for the Riff Raff's "Hungry Ghost" go perfectly with its haunting title! The electro-rock instrumentation of "Hungry Ghost" is a bit closer to Bat for Lashes than it is for Hurray for the Riff Raff. Come to think of it, the lyrics the song has, largely concerning isolation and alienation, seem a bit inspired by Bat for Lashes as well. Happy Halloween, 10 months in advance!


"I Give You Power" by Arcade Fire (featuring Mavis Staples): With a sound that comes off as an unlikely cross between Talking Heads and Nine Inch Nails, Arcade Fire's latest song is, as you might have guessed, a protest song about the person who now occupies the position of being the 45th President of the United States of America. "I give you power", Win Butler sings, followed by, "and I can take it away", immediately afterwards. Soul mistress Mavis Staples joins Win on what could be described as her darkest song yet! Arcade Fire giveth, and Arcade Fire taketh away. No more Mr. Nice Indie Rocker! When the going gets tough, the tough get going!


"Push Off" by The Palms: "Palms", perhaps, refers to palm trees in this case, and not to the palms of our hands, but I guess we'll never know for sure. The reason I say palm trees is because the music of The Palms' debut song, "Push Off", is gentle like palm trees swaying in the breeze, at least in the musical sense it is. Lyrically, it's a bit more bitter. It's clearly about a relationship that the lead singer wants to brush aside and forget about, as evidenced by him calling his former lover a "push off" and then telling them to "push off" afterwards. What a calming song, though! This mostly acoustic guitar based rock song even has a soft piano solo in the middle of it to add to its already breezy flavor! If you've had a bad breakup but you still wanna play it cool, then this song is for you!


"Shakedown" by Valerie June: After the heavenly, ethereal "Astral Plane" from fall of last year, we now have the more gritty, blues-y "Shakedown" from Valerie June. Not as mean and funky as her debut song, "You Can't Be Told", but it still has a more electric guitar based sound than some of what Valerie's fans might be used to at this point. "Shakedown" is probably one of a growing number of songs that is reflective of how uncertain many people think the world has become today. With its rollicking, catchy, "Lust For Life"-like beat, though, some people might be more under the impression that "Shakedown" could just be your basic blues-y rock song about dancing and falling in love. Valerie June's lyrical themes have never been basic, though, so I'm willing to bet that there is some righteous anger behind "Shakedown".


"Strange Or Be Forgotten" by Temples: The leap from a '60s homage to an '80s homage seems to be becoming increasingly common in today's indie-pop groups. Temples debuted back in 2014 with "Shelter Song", which sounded to many like a long lost Byrds tune. The fluttering synths in Temples' second big tune, "Strange Or Be Forgotten", make it clear that their musical time machine can travel to multiple eras. "Strange Or Be Forgotten" is still somewhat an ode to psychedelia, but with more keyboards than guitars. This is the sort of song that would be likely to play during a scene in a movie when someone is tripping out on drugs at a dance club. So are Temples strange, or do you think they will be forgotten?! I would go with "strange"!


"The Lost Sky" by Jesca Hoop: Jesca Hoop (yes, that's how she spells her first name) is nominally a folk-rocker, but "The Lost Sky" truly has flourishes of folk music in comparison to the only other Jesca Hoop song I currently know, "Born To", which was essentially a blend of indie-pop and singer/songwriter with a sound that was more like a melodic electric guitar distortion than a pure acoustic sound. "The Lost Sky" is primarily an acoustic-guitar-and-vocals-only song and it seems to be the name of a fictitious location that Jesca uses as a metaphor for her means of escapism, presented in poetic lyrical fashion laden with vocals that are as bittersweet as the song itself. It is a place known only to the dreamers of the world, both the aspirational kind and the nocturnal kind.















Wednesday, January 18, 2017

New songs For January 18th, 2017

here they are:


"Bad Year For Rock And Roll" by Chuck Prophet: In this roots-y Springsteen-esque rock tune, Chuck Prophet accurately describes what last year (and probably the last 10 or 15, for that matter) has been for rock music. In a world full of Justin Biebers and Taylor Swifts, Chuck dares to be a man armed with an electric guitar instead of an auto-tune device. "Bad Year..." goes deeper than just pointing out rock's lack of popularity on the charts, though. It is also an homage to the loss of people like Prince and (especially) David Bowie who died last year. "The Thin White Duke took a final bow", sings Chuck in one verse. Here's hoping we won't lose as many rock 'n' roll greats in 2017!


"Hot Thoughts" by Spoon: Most of this week's (and last week's) songs were merely leftovers from 2016. "Hot Thoughts" by Spoon marks the first official release of 2017! This song is as danceable and funky as it is quirky and intellectual, bringing to mind groups like Talking Heads, albeit with more of an orchestral section than David Byrne and co have in their tunes. We're not exactly sure what "hot thoughts" are, but this song is so catchy that I don't really care. It's cool enough to even have a song like this one around!


"Peace Trail" by Neil Young: The ragged, grungy rock of Neil Young has never sounded so mystical! In spite of its serene sounding title, "Peace Trail" is not one of Neil's folkier numbers, but it still manages to be soft and melodic thanks to its steady flowing beat and Neil's sweet vocal delivery. Young's latest album is supposed to have an angry, political edge to it, but "Peace Trail" is neither. Seriously, what's more hippie-sounding than a "rainbow tepee sky"? The title of the song itself also suggests a turning back of the clocks a few decades to when peace and love ruled the world. If only Neil could be President. Songs like this one suggest to me that he'd make a mighty good one!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2017: New songs for the New Year!!

Happy New Year everyone!! Yeah, I realize I'm 11 days late, but it took awhile for some new songs to come out this time around. Thankfully, here are 5 of them to help you kick this year into full blown musical action!


"Cold Cold Cold" by Cage the Elephant: After the stompin' garage rock of "Mess Around" and the calmer psychedelic folk-rock of "Trouble" comes a song that seems to strike a perfect balance between those two for Cage the Elephant, "Cold Cold Cold". This song is soft but still a little jazzy in a way that almost brings to mind what a psychedelic tinged bossa nova song might be like. A psychedelic blues-rock guitar solo comes in towards the end of the song, perhaps for CTE to maintain their image as a "rock band" or perhaps just to goof around and have some fun. Either way, "Cold Cold Cold" is a hot hot hot song as far as I'm concerned!


"Good With God" by Old 97's (featuring Brandi Carlile): 2016 was almost as terrible a year as 1971 was for the music world in terms of how many people we lost that year. Thankfully Rhett Miller and the rest of The Old 97's are still alive and kickin', yet it seems like Rhett can't help but feel in his latest song, "Good With God", like he might just be the next one to be swept up to Rock And Roll Heaven. In this "Ghost Riders In the Sky" styled number, he assures himself that he isn't afraid of possibility of this happening and that he's "good with God". And where does Brandi Carlile figure into all of this?! Well, as it turns out, she IS God in the context of this song. Considering how laid back (a bit TOO laid back for my taste) Brandi usually is, she does a pretty stunning and compelling performance as the (Wo)man Upstairs in this song!


"Name For You" by The Shins: Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on...into middle age, for The Shins' James Mercer. In "Name For You", a song that combines power pop with ska in a similar manner to how The Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" did, James reflects on being a dad who is a year past 45 (can you believe it?!) One of his little girls is at least 8 if not older, as The Shins guest starred on "Yo Gabba Gabba" on 2008 back when she wasn't even old enough to attend preschool, which is another thing that makes the once young and fresh indie pop star feel like he's inching ever closer to being viewed as "oldies" like his influences such as The Beatles, The Byrds, The Beach Boys, and The Zombies are all viewed as and have been for awhile at this point. This may sound like the plot of some coming of age indie film written and produced by Zach Braff, but I can assure you that the events "Name For You" has been based on are 100 % real!


"Roll With the Punches" by Dawes: Mumford and Sons might have made folk-rock cool again, but Dawes have made folk-rock rock again! Dawes' organ driven rocker, "Roll With the Punches", is a gritty, roots-y song that sounds like it was pulled straight out of the Robbie Robertson/Levon Helm handbook (it bears a slight resemblance to The Band's "Chest Fever" to me). The song's shimmering Crosby Stills & Nash styled harmonies contrast slightly with the sizzling energy it has to offer. Not nearly as compelling as Dawes' song "When the Tequila Runs Out" from summer of last year, but still worth listening to if ya ask me.


"To Be Without You" by Ryan Adams: I can't believe my eyes! ANOTHER new Ryan Adams song?! But I just reviewed him last month! Oh well, on with the show, as they say. Those who thought Adams' "The Prisoner" would be full of high energy rock songs might be disappointed when they hear this one, but for others, "To Be Without You" might offer proof that Ryan Adams might finally be comfortable enough to include a rock song and a ballad on the same album! It seems that Ryan is copying his own material in "To Be Without You", which sounds a bit like his own "Everybody Knows", but it is a slightly longer and much more heartfelt song than that one was. The lyrics are exactly what you might think they would be on a song called "To Be Without You", sad and forlorn. Perhaps "Do You Still Love Me?" and "To Be Without You" were, respectively, question and answer songs for the same album.