Music to Your Ears – Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tegan and Sara, Beck and more

Took a week or two off to gather some more music for you to listen to. This week sees the return of several of my favorite bands, including Tegan and Sara (pictured), The Head and the Heart and one of the biggest bands of my youth, Red Hot Chili Peppers. Are they all welcome in summer 2016? Listen and read below to find out!


Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Getaway

To many fan’s solace, the track feels slick, chill and much removed from the bombast that Stadium Arcadium foisted upon us a decade ago, or I’m With You, only five years later. Flea’s bass work in particular is a highlight in this – the subdued throbbing lulls us into a dream state as we drive through Kiedis’ lyrically familiar Los Angeles. Not much has changed in their world, but they’ve certainly matured. They’re not looking for the same drugs they once were, this time they’re just looking for some relaxation, some relief. Anna Waronker, frontwoman of ’90s alt-rock band That Dog provides melodic backing vocals that lend an airy vibe to an already ethereal feel. I’m ready for the new album, like now, and luckily it drops two weeks from now, June 17th. Also check out their first single, Dark Necessities – I somehow missed it when it dropped a month ago, but it’s even better.

Tegan and Sara – Love You to Death

After Tegan and Sara’s last album, Heartthrob, dropped in 2012, I overdid it a bit playing their music. I am a little glad they took the time off before coming back for another album, as I’m absolutely hungry for more from the sisters. A definite improvement is that all the tracks sound different from each other – Heartthrob’s detriment was that it sounded like one long song. Boyfriend is an obvious highlight to the album, and it was a perfect choice for their first single back in February – a dance-fueled call out of jilting lovers – classic Tegan and Sara.Their love of ’80s pop is also dominant here, as per usual, and best exemplified in tracks U-Turn and Faint of Heart – though Dying to Know sounds like something from the early ’90s. The twins are heavily influenced by Cyndi Lauper, The Replacements and Dire Straits, so none of this is surprising. If you’re a fan of their oeuvre, it’s an easy decision to search this out, while newcomers will be delighted me the melodic musings of the Canadian chanteuses.

Key Tracks: Dying to Know, That Girl, Boyfriend, 100x

The Strokes – OBLIVIUS

The Strokes had a hiatus for much of the late 2000s, Unfortunately for us, that hiatus didn’t last forever. Since their return, the insufferable vocals of Julian Casablancas and the bland guitar stylings of Nick Valensi have offended our ears indefinitely from 2011-present. OBLIVIUS is no exception, as the whiny warble kicks up a notch, making all the lyrics uncontrollably incomprehensible. Side note – the B-side Threat of Joy is much better, and hopefully that ends up on the final product. Still, I’d rather The Strokes go back to where they came from, oblivion, so that we can appreciate their first two classic albums – Room on Fire and Is This It? It hurts so much that it’s pointless now to make a pun out of their first album’s title.

 

Beck – Wow

Well, this is certainly different. I’m never going to fault Beck for trying something different, and he’s absolutely deserved all the credit he’s gotten in recent years, what with winning the grammy for Best Album last year, etc. Unfortunately, this song is…not for me. I can get behind artists I don’t typically like and find something I admire, such as Kanye’s Life of Pablo, or Rob Zombie’s newest. This seems to be Beck attempting to branch out and experiment, and I get that. I just….there’s weird beats and chanting and a…pan flute, I think? He’s sort of rapping? This is not him going off the deep end, or doing whatever the hell he wants, ala Sting, but it’s somewhat an effort to get a different audience I think. Perhaps he’s trying to go funkier? I appreciate that. Yet, I just…am not…wowed.

 

The Head and the Heart – All We Ever Knew

It seems like just yesterday that The Head and the Heart released their last album, 2013’s Let’s Be Still, which was one of my surprise albums of that year. Unsurprisingly, they return with a deftly tuned track along the same lines as some of their larger hits from before that album – reminding you of 2010’s classics Cats and Dogs or more aptly Down in the Valley. A nice surprise along the same vein as that last album, I’m hoping that this brings the band back to the forefront of music-listening fans, as they’re definitely one of my favorites from this 2010’s wave of folk-pop (Mumford, Lumineers, Ray Lamontagne, etc).

 

Handsome Ghost – Eyes Wide

Now this is more my style. Some xylophone percussion echoing under a sotto voce tale of restless love. Fast take, it reminds me of a low-key Bleachers without as much overproduced instrumental layering – sort of like a cousin of last year’s summer darlings Walk the Moon. I feel like I’d heard of Handsome Ghost before, but I think they’re new. Check him out in tour now with Melanie Martinez!

 

Betty Who – Love You Always Forever

I clicked on this on Spotify on a lark, given that the name sounded familiar – I didn’t realize this was a cover of the classic ’90s riff from Donna Lewis. Fitting perfectly in the end of a Michelle Pfeiffer or Meg Ryan romantic comedy, this is a bit paint  by numbers, but the vocals from Betty Who (Australian singer Jessica Newham) are worth the replays. I look forward to hearing more original material from her as well in the coming months.

 

De La Soul – Pain

The funky groove feels straight out of the early ’90s, oozing with bleeding presence. The breezy gospel background beckons you to chill alongside a pool in the middle of the hottest day, or cruising down a highway with nowhere to go. Snoop guests on this, and his inclusion is definitely welcome, as he thrives in between the downbeat. De La Soul seems best when taking care of business themselves though, so I’m not sure Snoop needed to assist – but such is the nature of this genre. Rumor has it the trio from Long Island plan on sampling themselves on their upcoming August-slated album, so this summer should certainly be interesting.

 

Train – Does Led Zeppelin II

The oddest inclusion in this week’s edition of M2YE is that Pat Monahan and  his San Francisco based band have chosen to produce an album that replicates Led Zeppelin’s 1969 hit album Led Zeppelin II. The group may not be the first choice to cover the earlier band’s work, but Monahan is somehow a dead ringer for Robert Plant’s vocals, and the songs actually work almost too well. I’ve been told as well that the band often includes Zeppelin hits with their stage shows, although the two times I saw them none were ever played…that I recall. There lies the problem, as the songs are more memorable in their original format, and thus Train has almost replicated them too perfectly. I noticed a friend of a friend state it perfectly: “Train Does Led Zeppelin II is to the former album as Gus Van Sant’s Psycho is to its predecessor – a hollow shot-for-shot remake”. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call it hollow – the band does well – there’s simply no real reason to remake the classic effort. I’d rather have original Train material than their best of covers.

Key Tracks: Whole Lotta LoveThank YouHeartbreaker

But those are also my favorite Led tracks from that album….

 


Next week, check in with us when we take a listen to new albums from The Kills, The Temper Trap, Cat’s Eyes and most surprising of all, The Monkees!

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