Tag Archives: rock

Upwards and On!

20 Sep

With an intricate background instrumentation of plinking guitars and a defining drumming beat, The Helio Sequence’s “Upward Mobility” is strikingly modern. But lead singer Brandon Summer’s vocals straddle the fine line between current and retro.

Summers has a Bono like quality to the tone of his voice and the way he croons throughout the song in a midtempo manner. Not quite a ballad, not quite the toe tapper “Upward Mobility” is a fine example of the type of tunes U2 puts out. You might even find some of U2 “Another Time Another Place” in this song. But the track is also something that resembles something that the more recent band Keane would release.

The melody is fresh, again sitting somewhere between the 80’s and the early 2000s. It is smooth and pleasant to the ears, verses and choruses equally fantastic. But as the tune amps up to the electrified charge of the chorus, things become a little more intense, balancing a tame sound with something with more fire, leaving listeners with a spellbounding experience.

The bottom line is that if you like alternative rock in the same vein as Keane and U2, you will eat up “Upward Mobility.”

Discography: The Helio Sequence (2015)

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

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Wake up with The Apache Relay

8 Sep

A humming sound followed by electric guitar and percussion crashing mimicking the cacophony of transitioning from a sound asleep state to one of alertness is the perfect jolt of energy to start The Apache Relay’s “Can’t Wake Up.”

Folk-rock-alternative and soul combine into 4:30 minute musical melting pot. While the tune relies heavily on Americana twang, it is when lead singer (and Bassist) Michael Ford Jr slips into his higher register and r&b soul sound that “Can’t Wake Up” makes you stand up and take notice. Part Smoky Robinson and the Miracles “Tracks of my Tears,” Ford wails and croons so smoothly, one can’t help but wonder what other musical talents he has up his sleeve.

With just a hint of retro soul intertwined within the song “Can’t Wake Up” proves that a little bit of old fashion goes a long way.

Carnival of Songs

4 Aug

After a one week hiatus, I am back from the Newport Folk Festival, and ready to bring you new, retro inspired music.

One of the main reasons I attended the festival was to see the folk rock duo Shovels & Rope and they did not disappoint.

Though they did not perform “Carnival,” a song reminiscent of Patsy Cline’s “She’s Got You” I am giving it full attention here.

Both Cline and Cary Ann Hearst sing with mourning and sorrow about a lost love with a magical maudlin quality and country croon.

The lyrics showcase the imaginative interweaving of a dying love with that of a county fair, written and delivered so well, you can almost see the twinkling lights of a carnival at night

“No one can hear our voices.
I can tell your future and past
by the light of the carousel horses.
Across the world I wonder,
my moments made from years.
On a still and silent midway,
I wait for you to reappear.”

With the harmonica wailing like an old fashioned carousel itself, listeners are brought not only to the midway, but to another time, tying in the retro aspect of the tune.

Discography: Shovels & Rope (2008), O’ Be Joyful (2012)

Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/shovelsandrope

Play Tennis

16 Jun

There are many qualities in Tennis “Origins” that gives the song a timeless feeling, but the main key is the songs simplicity.

With a repetitive keyboard driven backdrop, the melody easily gets lodged into ones head. Singer Alaina Moore’s voice is also simple, yet original and refreshing. Her angelic, ethereal pipes bring the perfect melancholy ache as she starts “Sensitive heart you’re doomed from the start.”

While mostly a simple pop performance, the song also bears a slight rock weight which rivals Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move.”
Innocent but bitter, young and old, Tennis show a duality of emotions hidden behind a mask of retro pop.

If Tennis is the name of the game, then be ready to play.

Discography: Cape Dory (2011), Young and Old (2012)

Official Website: http://www.tennis-music.com/

Make the Right “Pick”

7 Apr

Staccato piano chords and drumbeat help Pickwick’s “Halls of Columbia” get the groove rolling along It’s a slow –down and dirty – bluesy – soul – head nodding – toe tapping tune that feels as if it is an unearthed, unreleased export from the Elton John catalog (Circa “Bennie and the Jets”).

The real star of the track is lead singer Galen Dillard-Disston, bringing forth an adult contemporary sound that is as much Elton John as it is The Black Keys. Disston’s voice bears the weight of the track, nuanced and full of rock n’ roll with a heaping amount of soul.

Wailing its way through “Halls of Columbia” Pickwick is a band that you’ll want to keep your eye on and your ears tuned in to.

Discography: Can’t Talk Medicine (2013)

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

The Wonder of The Wandas

25 Feb

Some songs sound so authentically retro, that they lose a part of their modernity. “Bending Over Backwards” by The Wandas is a song that knows exactly how to balance the two ends of the spectrum.

Much of the credit in creating such a memorable mix of old and new must go to lead singer Keith McEachern. McEachern conjurs a Frankie Valli-like falsetto on the chorus, wailing and pleading to be saved, while still maintaining a modern take on rock n’ roll

With a guitar driven melody, snappy lyrics, smooth sailing chorus, and commanding bridge, “Bending Over Backwards,” is a tune that perfectly straddles the modern-retro sound.

Discography:New Wave Blues (2009), The Wandas (2011)
Official Website: http://www.thewandas.com/

Glory Be To “Gloria”

3 Dec

With a roaring drum roll, an angelic chorus of “ooh’s” and manly grunts, sweedish band Mando Diao burst into your eardrums on their track “Gloria,” in a highly theatrical manner.

Shades of 1960’s pop rock surface in this energizing song, in which co lead singer Björn Dixgård taps into his inner Tom Jones. The gruff growls and vocal Olympics Dixgard brings to the table echo’s Jones many hits

Glittering in over the top vocal and musical licks, “Gloria” delves into the retro rock genre, injecting garage band style with a retro Tom Jones meets The Animals flavor.

One can almost picture women’s undergarments being flung into the air.

Eerily similar to “Gloria” is Jones masterpiece “Delilah” . The lyrics both feature dramatic scenarios where a woman is seen as an object of desire, to the point of murder.

In “Gloria” the Chorus swells:

Gloria alone now forever/Gloria away in the air now/Gloria she’s no longer your slave

She now watches him from “Heaven’s Gate”

The lyrics also allude to the fact that the man has told Gloria many lies in his “freakshow” and is responsible for her misery.

In “Delilah” the songster confesses that he is a slave to a cheating woman who is no good for him.

“But I was lost like a slave that no man could free”

So of course he resorts to murder.

“She stood there laughing/I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more”

Dramatic enough for you?

Discography: Bring Em’ In (2002), Hurricane Bar (2004), Ode to Ochrasy (2006), Never Seen the Light of Day (2007), Give Me Fire (2009)

Official Website: www.Mandodiao.com