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.