1. Promises- The Morning Benders
This band out of the Berkeley California area showed alot of promise on their debut with strong hooks and a dynamic singer, however, their latest LP Big Echo promises to be even better, and I promise you’ll be hooked from the start. Wouldn’t be out of place on a Vampire Weekend or Grizzly Bear album, lovely changes and fantastic dynamic energy.
2. I Love You Like A Madman- The Wave Pictures
Raw and uncompromising in its hooks, in a way the lyrics don’t make sense, like Jim Morrison on a drunken poem binge, but in a way thats the point. Love the 50’s styled sax solo at the end.
Not as cheeky as the previous but delivered in a cutesy tongue in cheek way, and catchy all the way through. Like a Paul McCartney demo sung by The Monkees.
4. Numbers Don’t Lie- The Mynabirds
With a lively hammer-tack piano backing and strong roots in the gospel soul that was Motown’s trademark this song is perfectly done and in their book, old is the new new.
5. Josefin the Writer- Olney Clark
Elegant and beautiful, almost like a musical in its spoken sung vocal delivery and a sublime mix of strings and piano.
6. Dear Friend- Emanuel and the Fear
Great piano hook and melody, as well as a nice voice, the track in terms of arrangement is daring, going from piano romp to Queen-ish bridges, just a song that wants to be repeated over and over.
7. I’m Broke- Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
Catchy from the start and featuring a piano hook that takes a page out of Miles Davis, This soul-styled band might have the energy of a young band, but they are refined beyond their years.
8. Just A Silhouette- Exlovers
Starting with a simple guitar hook before building into a catchy song supported by a sublime boy-girl harmony. This is a band out of England I haven’t heard much of, and one I definitely want to hear of more.
I had never intended to find Robert Francis, but thats the beauty of music, there is so much to find out there, his voice comes across like a Johnny Cash/ Neil Young/ Bruce Springsteen love child with strong songwriting to match, and though it be a live recording, it sure don’t sound like one. Don’t miss out on this one.
10. Walk in the Park- Beach House
More than just sharing the first word of their band name with the Beach Boys, Beach House has taken a page out of their book of melodic songcraft and the organ work on here is pure Brian Wilson, and while they don’t have the full five person harmonies, its hard not to think of the Beach Boys when the singer here reaches up into the higher register. Just a great song.
11. Be Set Free- Langhorne Slim
A simple live dynamic and some wonderful lyrics accompany this homey and sweetly familiar melody, and the man’s got soul.
So gritty and bluesy rootsy, Jack White would be proud.
13. She Needs Me- Fyfe Dangerfield
When those drums start, you almost can hear Billie Jean begin, but not to knock Fyfe, a drum beat is a drum beat and he makes it his own with an equally talented voice. And in any other hands the strings would seem a little 70’s/bombastic but the fact that he arranged the whole thing gives it a more heartfelt presence and the song is so gosh darn catchy and warm its hard not to listen to. A great use of melody.
14. Martina and Clive Krantz- Princeton
An eccentric title for sure, but this band is firmly rooted in good old fashioned power pop and this comes off like a wiser cousin of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark.
15. Try It You’ll Like It- Marvin Gaye
The fact that a song this good was left off Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On just goes to show how strong the album was; the band is on full swing on this one and Marvin is holding it together with a strong vocal performance at the top.
16. Some Strange Rain- Cotton Jones
One of the bands strongest suits is the atmosphere they create and the pitter patter guitar at the beginning sure sounds like rain if it were only more musical, with a cloudy organ backdrop and when the singer comes in, its a blissful moment, transported back to the 60’s you can swear you see San Francisco,and you swear you’re hearing Sonny (from Sonny and Cher) or Bob Dylan, and you’re happy.
Classic old style funk at a breakneck pace, with Curtis Mayfield influenced singing and harmonies, but the highlight here is just the great energy put forth by the band and its a real fun song.
A great cover of the classic done slow soul style with as much vocal intensity as the original. A fun interpretation for the ears to hear.
19. Don’t Stop Lovin’ Me Now- Juston Stens
It’s a cover, though the original is only a year old and its done in a classic blue eyed soul style, great harmony and upbeat organ in the chorus.
20. Born Away on a Black Barge- J. Tillman
Sometimes there is no arrangement more powerful than just the voice, and the a capella here is incredible.
21. Ship Made of Stone- The Dutchess and the Duke
Sporting simplistic arrangements and beautiful two-part harmonies, The Dutchess and the Duke ironically (and thankfully) don’t boast arrangements that live up to their name in terms of grandeur, but I’d be hard pressed to find a band that does the simple better.
22. When You Walk In The Room- Fyfe Dangerfield
This song isn’t what it seems when it starts with its electronic beat, it soon fades into a much more organic arrangement, and the vocal delivery and intensity matches the lyrics, he just can’t be tied down, he has to rise up and beat the odds, to say unbridled enthusiasm is one thing, though this is inspiring in a whole new way.
Nope this isn’t from the 80’s and yes it is just as good.
Almost like Sublime and Dispatch came together and wrote a song, great harmonies, great bass line, great live sound, and great changes.
25. My Love Is Growing- Marvin Gaye
One of the great under-appreciated tracks on Let’s Get It On with a beautiful organic and dynamic arrangement building energy throughout.
The arranging stylings of Al Green meet a Stevie Wonder styled vocal performance with lyrics equal to Prince.