Because of Pepper’s Ghost

26 Feb

In the same vein as The Beatles “I’ll Get You” Pepper’s Ghost “Because of her” is a fun song with a jangle that was made famous in the 60s.

The vocals are spot on british invasion inspired which when combined with the instrumentation, focused heavily on guitar with a slight percussion, all add up to make it one of the best examples of a modern song that sounds authentically like it is from the past.

The upbeat tempo keeps the tune moving along at a swift pace while the actual content of the song is in complete contrast as the lead singer croons about fears and tears. This juxtaposition adds to the complexity and charm of the track.

The “Oh’s” that are included in the lyrics also harken back to the Beatles and some might even go as far to think that is a lost song from the fab four. It is an perfect tribute to an era long gone by. All that is missing from it are hand claps.

The Knox Hamilton Association

19 Feb

Knox Hamilton have an album The Heights coming out in March. To hold fans over they have released a track from the forthcoming LP – a cover of the 60s classic “Never My Love” made famous by The Association.

While the original version basks in dreamy instrumentation and soft vocals Knox Hamilton bring their own fresh sound to the tune. It still sounds retro, but not in a 1960s way. Instead the band relies on the synth movement of the 1980s to put the song into 2017 while still borrowing vibes from a past decade. The melody is clear and retained and any fan of the original will be able to recognize the tune, but it is just the right amount of different to update the track while still paying homage to its roots.

The electronic vibe ushers “Never My Love” into the modern landscape but it is also what makes it retro. Lead singer Boots Copeland’s vocals breathe new life into the tune with an energy that is infectious. Covers can be a hard, trying to find the right balance. One wants anyone who is familiar with the original incarnation to still hear the bare bones of the song in the new version, but one also wants it to appeal to an audience that may never have heard the song before in their entire life.

Yes, covers can be hard. But Knox Hamilton make it look easy.

Move Closer to Justin Levinson

29 Jan

The entirety of Justin Levinson’s album Yes Man sounds like it could have been a lost Paul Mcartney and Wings LP. But the song “I’ll Move Closer” is the most charming example.

It’s simple in its lyrics and its construction and that is the beauty of the song. One does not always need big words and complicated instrumentation to make a good song and “I’ll Move Closer” is proof of that. The first few notes with a twanging guitar sounds immediately like something Wings could have released. It borrows a bit of the best of McCartney, a bit “Bluebird” a bit “Junk,” but Levinson’s voice goes back and forth between a more soothing tone to a rougher edge, even a bit John Lennon, sound.

It is gentle and soft, a piano driven tune that is sweet and Levinson makes clichéd lyrics work because he is speaking from the heart. Something McCartney was also a master of.

It comes off as completely authentically retro and one might even mistake it as a cover of a song from long ago. But it was proudly released into the music world in 2017 and the fact that artists are still making music like this is something we should all applaud.

Music’s Night

22 Jan

“This is your Night” by The Flat Five was recently introduced to me by a friend. Right from the start of the tune I knew I would have to include it on this blog.

From the large number of people in the band, to the mix of male and female vocalists, not to mention the trippy, dream like manner in which the song is presented, one can’t help but think of another similar band from years past: The 5th Dimension. And this particular track has some resemblance to that bands hit “Up Up and Away.”

It’s got a retro vibe to it, genuinely feeling like it could have been released many years ago. The percussion is light ,as is the piano, and it gives it all a jazz mood that is unique. The layering of the vocals makes the tune dynamic turning what might be a simple song in lyrics into something that is more complicated and full.

If you’re looking for a song that will immediately transport you back to another time with the power of modern musicians who know how to craft a tune that hits all the rights notes and is paying homage to a genre that some may have forgotten, this is the track for you.


Musical Staircase

8 Jan

Hysterics “Uptight Staircase” has been a favorite of mine since before its official release in 2007. In every way possible it conjures early Beatles from the lead singer’s Lennon-esque tone, to the background vocals that enhance the tune.

It evokes The Beatles “I Want to Hold your Hand” or “She Loves You,” in its simple melody, but content wise it isn’t as straightforward and innocent. The lyrics are a bit muddled, but one can tell they are far more complicated than The Beatles singing about sweet first love. The imagery is more potent here and it works for the song, bringing the retro feel into a more modern landscape.

Even though this song is ten years old it still holds up, sounding fresh, like it could have been released in 2017. The magic of this track is that throwback element that Hysterics did so well on their debut album. It never feels like a copy of something The Beatles could have created, instead the band uses the british invasion influence to work with their own sound and the outcome is outstanding.

I’m not sure what happened to this band after their debut LP, but it left fans like me wanting more because their 60s spot on sound was something of a treasure to unearth.


Top 10 Songs of 2016

18 Dec


See you in 2017

A Retro Christmas

11 Dec

Kris Allen recently dropped a Christmas album which is a mix of traditional and new holiday songs. “Baby Won’t You Wait Until the New Year” is a retro infused, rocking tune that harkens back to the 50s and is guaranteed to make your holiday party playlist. It has a delightful percussion instrumentation with some festive bells thrown in. As soon as Allen’s voice cuts in, smooth like eggnog, one can’t help but get swept away in t he tune.

It has a doo wop flavor to it, with colorful background vocals, and lyrics that tell the story of a person who wishes their significant other would wait until after Christmas to break up with them so they can enjoy the holiday. It’s a sad song but the peppy beat of the tune carry it along to a fun place. In fact one might get so swept up in the joyous sound of the track that they may forget they are listening to a rather somber song.

The 50s vibe makes this tune a standout Christmas song, from a modern artist who really knows how to craft a throwback influenced song, without ever coming across as trying too hard. While this song may not outright be the most Christmas-y, when one considers that the protagonist of the tune loves Christmas they don’t want anything to ruin it, it takes on a whole different feeling.

Yes, it’s a relationship song, but there is depth here and it’s one of the best Christmas songs of 2016.