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"!