Body of Work comes to us off of The Mynabirds’ 2012 release Generals. The Omaha, Nebraska based group demonstrate their musicianship in this upbeat, quirky indie pop song through a mixture of well blended vocal tracks and multiple percussion textures. The song gives the listener a sense of open space due to the lack of midrange sounds usually provided by bass and guitar in other songs. Although this lack of midrange sounds is challenge to work with, The Mynabirds rise to the challenge through overlapping percussive rhythms and minimal, ethereal guitar and keyboard in the higher range to provide subtle yet effective background for the beautifully harmonized vocals. The vocals are clearly the emphasis of the song, with a winding, twisting melody that is more reminiscent of the folk tradition than the ultra-repetitive pop singing style. Either way, Body of Work is an interesting combination of sounds that dares to break out of traditional writing styles.
Numb comes to us off of Gary Clark Jr’s major label debut Blak and Blu. The song is a a heavily distorted piece of blues rock that adds a fire and intensity to the very tired Chicago blues sound. Although the track is a simple blues progression, it’s endearing quality is its grit. Clark really pushes the limits of his guitar’s distortion and applies an equal amount of strain on his voice, producing a spectacularly dirty piece of music. In one fell swoop, Clark manages to pull together the harsh realities of the outside and inside world with his mixture of lyrical and musical content. More than just a song about love lost, Numb seems to tap into the subdued anger of the rust belt in our post-manufacturing times.
With a new album due out in the next little while, I’m excited to see what else this Austin-based bluesman can conjure.
The River comes to us as a new single from The Darcys in anticipation of their new album Warring, which is due for release in September. This track from the Toronto based group demonstrates their song-writing prowess, mixing an exciting blend of classic alt-rock sounds with spacey guitar and vocals as well as crisp electronic drum beats. The sinister, echoing guitar notes at the beginning of the song signal the masterpiece to come, laying down a foundation upon which the song slowly and dramatically builds like a brilliant plume of smoke out of a nineteenth century locomotive. The vocals are deceptively powerful, swelling and rising with the music in a controlled, mature way that is rarely experienced in a post Led Zeppelin world of rock singers. The River is a great indie tune that mixes just the right amounts of ambience, melodic hooks, and drama. Just one small sample of the burgeoning Toronto indie rock scene that has been steadily growing over the last decade, The Darcys are a great example of the innovation that has been wrought into Canadian music over the years.
You’ll want to keep an eye on this band.
Peaches is the latest single from Los Angeles duo In The Valley Below. Released in early 2013 the song still relatively young and is already starting to gain notoriety. With an infectious combination of grunge guitar chording, art rock organ sounds, and disco dance beat; the song captures the best of several genres and synthesizes them into a delicious single. The harmonized vocals are well placed and crisp, grabbing the listener’s attention when necessary then easing off to allow the music to speak for itself. A great piece of indie rock, Peaches is a fantastic start to what I only hope is a long career full of great songs by In The Valley Below.
Supersoaker is the lead single off of Kings of Leon’s upcoming album Mechanical Bull. An upbeat, uptempo rock tune, Supersoaker hearkens back to the signature Kings of Leon sound that made us fall in love with them in the first place. Utilizing more complex melody layering and sing along choruses, the Nashville based group demonstrate that they are back and improved. This song is a great single and makes me hopeful about the new offerings that will be available on Mechanical Bull.
Sun is the lead single off of Two Door Cinema Club`s 2012 album Beacon. Maintaining their signature dance rock sound, Two Door Cinema Club have delivered another exciting track in Sun. With an up-tempo driving bass rhythm that moves the song`s groove along, Sun is a great mixture of rock and pop sound textures, culminating in an instant classic. With light lyrical themes and musical composition; Sun is a simple, catchy, fun song.
The Baddest Man Alive is a single song collaboration between The Black Keys and RZA for the 2012 feature film “The Man With the Iron Fists”. With an infectious mixture of blues rock ,hip hop and hilarious kung-fu shenanigans in the music video, The Baddest Man Alive is a testament to the fusion potential between two classic genres. The music itself oozes coolness with a flowing bass and drum rhythm counterpointed by Dan Auerbach’s now signature staccato guitar chording. What really makes the song however, is the high pitch organ pinging that punctuates the song’s main melody and RZA’s impeccable lyrical flow. Evoking memories of previous collaboration between The Black Keys and RZA on the fantastic Blakroc album, The Baddest Man Alive teases it’s audience, making the listener want more from this relatively short song.