Music to Your Ears – Radiohead, Kesha, Blink-182 and more

So it’s been a spell since I saw you last, I apologize for that, though I tend to take time off when no good music appears for a while. Lucky for us a bunch fell into my lap in the last week and a half that I simply had to tune you into. Check it out below the line, starting with one of my favorite new chanteuses:

Kyla La Grange – Hummingbird

Kyla is a female artist not many have heard of, but you may have noticed (as a long-time reader, perhaps?) that I included her as number 5 in my top ten songs of 2014. Here she returns with a flighty song that you can’t help but to dance to. I’d expect this to land on Saturday night playlists as you’re heading out to the club, if not just because she sounds like an Ellie Goulding clone at times. She’s so much more than that, and I implore you to check out her 2014 album Cut Your Teeth that includes that 2014 single I Don’t Hate You. La Grange sounds like she’s picked right up where she left off there and I would hope that she catches on in 2016.

Kesha – True Colors (w / Zedd)

Boy, what a relief it is that Kesha is back in the studio creating music. I also don’t say that with a twinge of sarcasm. As strange a pop star she’s been, I’ve always admired Kesha for sifting through the bullshit thrown at her to deliver us catchy effectual pop. With the recent judicial proceedings involving her not quite going the way most sane people would appreciate, it’s good to see that she’s still moving forward with projects, like this song with the equally outrageous Zedd. Unfortunately for the song, it’s not terribly exciting. It’s a shame for those expecting Kesha to rip apart her haters, but I do still enjoy this newfound tenderness behind Kesha’s performance. She’s definitively grown up, and I highly anticipate where she’ll be go with this maturity. Even then, the lyrics do prove she’s ready to fight for her right to present herself however she wants.

Blink-182 – Bored to Death

Speaking of unfortunately boring, Blink-182 has returned after a five-year hiatus with the aptly titled Bored to Death. As many fans have watched Tom DeLonge implode and separate himself from the band, I’d say this is the best we could hope for. It’s not like the band wasn’t good on the songs Mark Hoppus sang, but this almost feels like a +44 song, albeit with a better guitarist involved (Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio has replace DeLonge here). Much like Kesha’s vaunted return, I was a little disappointed by the opening of the song only to be welcomed into a familiar sound by song’s end. So, much like Panic at the Disco and Fall Out Boy, I believe Blink is primed for a nice return to the scene. I highly anticipate an even more exciting album on top of this more demure first single.

Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

The big surprise of the week came when English rockers Radiohead erased their digital footprint, tipping off observational fans that there might be something new on the horizon. Indeed there was, as a new album dropped Sunday on a special website designed to do the exact opposite the band did in 2011 (they presented In Rainbows for free back then). As the times have changed, it took a lot for me to get to a full listen of the album, but I have to say this does not disappoint. Thom Yorke warbles with just the right intensity that it harkens back to their earlier OK  Computer days. While In Rainbows was not a favorite for a lot of Radiohead fans, it’s difficult to hide the influence the past few years have had on Yorke and company, as the esoteric lyrics melt brilliantly into the atmospheric violins and synthetic mood typical to their forte. Honestly, given Jonny Greenwood’s penchant for symphonic cinema soundtracks as of late, I’m not surprised with the direction the band has taken in recent years. The standout here is their first single “Burn the Witch” – here just as eerie and unsettling as their earlier classic  “A Wolf at the Door” from Hail to the Thief. The rest of the album after that settles into a steady rhythm, only briefly entertaining an idea of grandiose, but instead more often than not reminding you that it’s sometimes great just to sit in a field and gaze at the clouds.

We Are Scientists – Helter Seltzer

Another surprise, at least for me, was that this pair from California had dropped another album last month. Unfortunately, it’s more of the same – following up 2014’s lackluster TV en Francais – where they sound like the band we knew and loved with 2006’s With Love and Squalor and 2008’s Brain Thrust Mastery. Unlike similar bands like Vampire weekend who attempt to evolve, We Are Scientists are more comfortable repeating the same sound over and over – which can work sometimes, like it does for two-piece band Matt and Kim. Of course, while I do love the band and still enjoyed the record for the fact that it merely adds to their oeuvre, I have to say the effort seems to be waning a bit. I’ve heard in bands like Death Cab for Cutie and Jimmy Eats World, other bands that lyrically explore love and all that it means as you grow and mature, that they have evolved as their songwriters have gone through difficult or even destructive relationships. I’m not saying Chris Cain and Keith Murray have to go through that to encourage their sound to evolve, but perhaps they just captured lightning in a bottle immediately in their careers and they’ll only be forced to repeat the same sound. Perhaps I need a second or third listen to really dive into this.

Chvrches – “Warning Call”

I haven’t hidden my love for Chvrches at all, so I don’t want to be too biased here. When I discovered minutes ago that they’d cut a single for the upcoming Mirror’s Edge video game sequel, I was terribly excited. The song itself is alright. With this title and given the cutting synth sound the band typically drives home, as well as the theme of the game, I expected a little more actually. Chvrches is a good fit for this franchise, of course, and as the chorus builds around, you hear that the lyrics do match the storyline. I imagine this will be used for TV spots and the like, so it’s fine, if not rather pedestrian for the until recently edgier Scottish clan. Hey, more Chvrches is always fine with me, even lesser Chvrches. I’ll take this any day of the week, and it’s actually gotten me more excited for the game that’s coming in two weeks.

I also wanted to invite you to follow my playlist Music for the Sweet, where I update regularly with songs I’ve discovered throughout the year. Listen in below:




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