Archive | May, 2014

The Bright Side of Retro

25 May

There’s a melancholy feeling that one cannot help but feel upon hearing the opening notes to Cass McCombs “Brighter.” A singer/songwriter expressing his deep feelings isn’t anything new, but McCombs melds modern and retro elements to make this song shine.

The tune is reminiscent of Paul McCartney’s solo work, with just a little more twang in the instrumentation, emphasizing the sadness of the tune. Think a cross between “Ram On” and Chris Issak’s “Somebody’s Crying.”

The guitar wails and cries like a banshee, setting the perfect mood for McCombs delicate vocals and sensitive, poetic lyrics. His falsetto hitting just the right amount of vulnerability.

For an added retro spin, check out film legend Karen Black covering the tune with McCombs who sells the song impeccably, adding her own brand of sadness to the track that Lana del Rey would be jealous of.

A (2003)
PREfection (2005)
Dropping the Writ (2007)
Catacombs (2009)
Wit’s End (2011)
Humor Risk (2011)
Big Wheel and Others (2013)

Cults Are On Point

18 May

Duo Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin, better known as cults, serve up retro style girl group songs such as “I Never Saw The Point.” But besides the nods to The Dixie Cups the sound behind this tune comes from other 60’s artists.

Follin’s gentle and playful voice, mimicking the playful instrumentation, echo’s Lesley Gore ‘s vocals on “It’s My Party.” There’s a youthful, innocent splash of color among a sea of mournful lyrics such as “I never saw the point in trying/Cause I would only let you down.”

Clearly the song is more sophisticated in manner than “It’s My Party,” and that is part of what separates the two songs. The other is the verses of the tune which imitate almost perfectly Terry Stafford’s 1964 hit “Suspicion.” Listen to them side by side and it’s hard not to imagine the song didn’t have some sort of influence on Cults, intentionally or not.

But it’s not a mere copycat. The bridge is an explosion of big emotions and powerful vocals and instrumentation that keep the song rooted in the modern world.

Discography: Cults (2011), Static (2013)

Official Website:

Move With The Temples

11 May

Within the first few seconds of “Move With The Season” by Temples, one may automatically hear something familiar musically, and dare I say it, be moved.

Its slow burn graze will easily put listeners into a hypnotic trance, a spell that you want to give in to and fall under. Think The Turtles “You Showed Me.” Or “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine in” by The 5th Dimension.

Temples capture magical psychedelia of an era long gone by here, not only vocally and instrumentally but with the message of their lyrics.

“When the time comes move with the season/
Lend your young ears to the sound of day/”

Genuinely sounding as if it could have been released in the late 60’s early 70’s, “Move With The Season” is a song that transcends time, even in this modern age.

Discography: Sun Structures (2014)

Official Website:

Stay Chill with Courtney Barnett

4 May

Courtney Barnett is already receiving praise for her debut album The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, and some are even comparing her to Bob Dylan. And while Barnett does explore Dylan territory in some of her songs, here on “Lance Jr,” the feel is anything but.

With a dazzling but simple electric guitar and percussion opening solo, the tune at first echoes the sounds of The Monkees “(I’m Not) Your Steppin’ Stone.” In fact if you take out Barnett’s vocals one could almost sing the 1966 song along with the melody.

It’s got an ambient and hazy vibe, with Barnett’s smoky voice equal parts Lorde and Kurt Cobain. Change the lyrics and this well could have been a psychedelic track released from a time gone by. Or it could be a lost 90’s Nirvana song, something along the lines of “Polly.”

Put a flower wreath on, or a flannel shirt, or both and let “Lance Jr.” work its magic on you.

Discography: The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas (2013)

Official Website: