Archive | June, 2014

Retro Summer

29 Jun

Summer is here and why not celebrate in a retro fashion?

The Moons “English Summer” may not be your stereotypical beach tune, but it serves up a number of throwback influences to welcome your summer with style.

Darker than most summer tracks, “English Summer” calls to memory “I’m Only Sleeping” by the Beatles, especially in the intro. One could almost take that guitar section and break off into “I’m Only Sleeping” without even meaning too.

There is a sneaky, mysterious quality throughout the song, not just through the hazy, psychedelic vocals, but through the almost spooky instrumentation as well. It’s the kind of quiet yet commanding, unsettling feeling that can also be found in “People are Strange” by the Doors.

Yet the strongest comparison may be to The Kinks “Sunny Afternoon,” which also delivers a shadowy and enigmatic mood.
With cunning lyrics and its atmospheric feeling, “English Summer” is the perfect song to listen to when the sky is grey, just before a storm on a hot day.

Discography: Life on Earth (2010), Fables of History (2012), Mindwaves (2014)

Official Website: http://www.themoons.co.uk

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Beach Beats

22 Jun

“Walking on the Street” by Beach Day starts off with an offbeat and playful percussion introduction that ventures into The Crystal’s “He’s a Rebel” territory. And by the time lead singer Kimmy Drake opens her mouth in full Little Eva “Locomotion” fashion, you can’t help but start tapping your toes.

It is 3:49 minutes of pure bliss, a complete and full nod to girl groups of the past such as The Ronettes. The Nostalgia cannot helped but be felt, as “Walking on the Street” sounds like a legitimate tune straight out of the height of girl power in the 1960’s.

But what sets this song apart from so many others, are the lyrics. Yes, it’s about heartbreak, but instead of focusing on only the girl’s viewpoint, the track shifts midway to the boy’s point of the view. And what do you know . . . they are both feeling the same. Using a female to cover both sides of the spectrum, taking on the male voice is clever and adds that modern spin to the song.

Life may not be a beach, but Beach Day surely do their best to put a smile in your step.

Discography: Trip Trap Attack (2013) Native Echoes (2014).

Official Website: http://www.kaninerecords.com/beach-day

A New Kind of Baseball

15 Jun

Before there was Postmodern Jukebox making top 40, and let’s be honest, sub par songs (for the most part) into retro and entirely likeable reboots, there were The Baseballs.

Hailing from Germany, the three leading men known to the world as Sam, Basti, and Digger, have been taking modern hits and adding a heaping dash of 50’s Elvis/Rockabilly retro to them since 2009. And the results are . . . well, I’ll let them speak for themselves.

Out of all the songs The Baseballs have covered, “Tik Tok” originally sung by Ke$ha stands out the most. The tempo is upbeat yet sultry, matching the Elvis Presley-esque vocals.

The arrangement is a mesh of sizzling instrumentation and plain electricity on all fronts. There’s a playfulness here heard not only in the singer’s croons and come hither come ons but also in the lyrics themselves.

While the original version boasts “But we kick em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger” The Baseballs sing “But we kick em to the curb unless their sleeping with Digger”

And then of course to add even more of a retro flavor Ke$ha’s P. Diddy reference at the start of the song is altered to Bo Diddley.

It’s still a ridiculous tune, but The Baseballs are having fun with it. And with their magic touch, now you can too.

Discography: Strike! (2009), Strike! Back (2010), Strings ‘n’ Stripes (2011), Good Ol’ Christmas (2012), Game Day (2014).

Official Website: http://www.the-baseballs.com

Jonesing for Jessie

8 Jun

“Yuma,” by Jessie Baylin is a wildly melancholy and passionate song about lost love. While this is a standard topic in music since the beginning of time, Baylin brings a fresh and retro unique vocal performance to make the tune stand out.

Baylin’s singer/songwriter roots are exposed in all its glory, here, with the rasp of Bonnie Raitt covering Joni Mitchell’s “That Song About The Midway” or Mitchell herself on “Little Green.” “Maybe I need the desert, or maybe I just need him” may be the most simple and emotional lyric on the entire track, beaming with deep honesty.

The barely there echo’s and twang guitar help to add an earthy and slightly ethereal vibe to “Yuma,” which match the content.

Heartbreaking and haunting at the same time, “Yuma” is nostalgic, poetic, songwriting that I feel even Joni Mitchell would be proud of.

Discography: Firesight (2008), Little Spark (2012)

Official Website: http://www.jessiebaylin.com

Stay With Sam Smith

1 Jun

Singer/songwriter Sam Smith is already getting praise for his music, and his debut album isn’t even released in the United States yet. You may have caught him on Saturday Night Live, or have heard his name being thrown around in music lovers conversations, but if you have not here is your formal introduction to his song “Stay With Me.”

The start of the song, with strong piano and simple percussion are swirling musical echoes of Bill Withers “Lean On Me.” In fact “Stay With Me” holds the same powerful anthem quality which is only bolstered by a gospel choir that surprises and moves in the tune’s chorus.

Smith’s voice, however, brings to mind another retro influence, David Ruffin of The Temptations. You can hear it especially on The Temptations hit “My Girl.” Full of soul and a vocal range that exquisitely hits all the right high and low notes, both Ruffin and Smith are artists whose talent is inherent and infectious.

“Stay With Me” is a track that is relatable on many levels and Smith brings just the right amount of emotion to the song, wavering between delicacy and strength.

If you’re looking for a song with heart, check out “Stay With Me” and listen as Smith lays his heart out for all to hear.

Discography: In The Lonely Hour (2014)

Official Website: http://www.samsmithworld.com