So It Goes by Hollerado

So It Goes comes to us off of Hollerado’s 2013 album White Paint. Continuing the upbeat, uptempo rock style from their debut Record In A Bag, the Ottawa-based group have come out strong on their second full length offering. The track’s punchy, driving rhythm pushes a youthful energy that has come to be expected from Hollerado, and is executed in their signature, super-positive way.

Keeping the groove tight, the group have also demonstrated that they are no slackers when it comes to writing and performing their songs. Lead singer Menno Versteeg also demonstrates his songwriting chops, allegedly writing this song about how his grandfather’s life was saved from an organ donation after another elderly man had passed away. The song’s underlying motif is one of pondering the complex interconnectedness of life and how his grandfather’s life was dependent on someone’s else’s grandfather’s death. An interesting concept for an otherwise catchy, upbeat rock song.

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Lost in the Light by Bahamas

Lost in the Light is a single off of Bahamas’ second full length album Barchords. With a stripped down sound consisting largely of just guitar and voice, Lost in the Light is an excellent representation of the way in which Bahamas focusses on embellishing the rudimentary elements of the song rather than using larger arrangements.

Making excellent use of guest female vocalists on this track, Afie Jurvanen (Bahamas) complements his guitar style well. The vocal harmonies are crisp and simplistic, giving the perfect amount of emphasis on the chorus of the song, and Jurvanen’s guitar tone is warm and well rounded. The lyrics are also well written, demonstrating how Bahamas is adding his own flavour to the ballad songwriting style.

Home Again by Michael Kiwanuka

Home Again is the title track off of Michael Kiwanuka’s 2012 debut album of the same name. With a simple, yet incredibly effective melody, Home Again is an excellent example of Kiwanuka’s subtle but heartfelt songwriting style. Indicative of the rest of the songs on the album, the lyrical motifs of overcoming hardship and regaining one’s sense of purpose after one of life’s challenging periods; Home Again feels incredibly raw and close to home. Rather than challenging the world around him like many of his folk songwriting contemporaries, Kiwanuka points his evaluative gaze inward and instead reflects on his own interpretation of the things going on in his own life (or so it would seem).

The music does an excellent job echoing the soul and folk influences found in Kiwanuka’s songwriting, incorporating acoustic guitar, strings, and percussion without distracting the listener’s focus away from the lyrics. In particular, the swelling crescendos of strings midway through the strong do an excellent job of adding dramatic and emotional weight to the music without sounding out of place or bombastic.

An excellent song from a solid debut album from this young UK artist, Home Again is both a song and and an album that is worth looking into.

Do I Wanna Know? by Arctic Monkeys.

I’ll just start by saying: yes, this is the same band that released the 2006 smash hit “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”. One and the same. Good. Glad that’s out of the way.

Do I Wanna Know? Is a teaser single for the UK group’s upcoming album “AM”, and I must say, it is downright groovy. With a dance-able backbeat and a flowing, repeating guitar riff; this track lures the listener into a hypnotic, smoke-lanced trance. Almost begging to be played late at night, this track’s sultry combination of low-end sounds and lyrical motifs of insatiable infatuation is catchy and surprisingly tight. Having strayed quite a ways from the thrashy garage-rock sounds on their earlier records, Arctic Monkeys have demonstrated that they can right a song that is mature in every respect of the word. With a music video that suits the song perfectly, I would not be surprised if this becomes yet another massive hit for the UK rock group.

Come A Little Closer by Cage The Elephant

Come A Little Closer is the teaser single for the Bowling Green, Kentucky based group’s upcoming third album Melophobia. Shifting gears quite a bit from their earlier work, Cage the Elephant has put together a much more elaborate and polished song than one would expect to hear off of either their debut album Cage the Elephant or their sophomore release, Thank you Happy Birthday. The group seems to have matured a bit from their first two albums with this track, layering on soulful, yet icy flourishes that build into a chorus that manages to remain subdued. With much more groove and low end emphasis than expected, Cage the Elephant demonstrate that they aren’t a one-trick indie/punk pony. While this track does retain more distorted guitar and vocal tracks that have become standard for this group, the heavier bassline and added keys give the song a degree of depth that accentuate the lyrical content well (even if the lyrics don’t exactly make sense). A bit of a shift in gears from a group that was getting stale. I for one am interested in seeing if Cage the Elephant have re-invented themselves on this new record, or merely put out the “most different” song as the lead single. Only time can tell.

The Fall by Rhye

The Fall is a single from Rhye’s 2013 debut Woman. The Canadian-Danish duo have demonstrated their artistic flair with this down-to-earth, soulful track. Blending contemporary easy-listening indie sounds with a more traditional soul rhythm, The Fall has a sultry, yet laid back feel. Using traditional instruments such as the piano, slide guitar, and a brass and string ensemble, Rhye has crafted a song that has a timeless quality that just might have more longevity than it’s computer and synth focused contemporaries. Although I’m not entirely sure whether to label this track as indie or as soul (or perhaps neo soul), it is clear to me that Rhye has written a truly exceptional easy listening song in The Fall.

Sail To The Sun by Wavves

Sail To The Sun is off of Wavves 2013 album Afraid of Heights. With an energetic garage rock sound, this song demonstrates that the 4 chord rock song is still able to pack a punch despite being the writing style of choice for the vast majority of rock bands in the past 20 years. Although the song may be a simple, no-frills rock track, it still maintains the youthful, reckless energy that has given the genre its longevity. While Wavves is a little difficult to classify – there are people who make equally convincing arguments that they are indie or garage rock – one thing is clear: this San Diego three-piece is setting its own pace when it comes to their music and revitalizing the garage rock genre in the process. For any self-classified fan of rock music, this is definitely a group worth getting into.

Afraid of Heights is available on iTunes.