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!"