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.