Welcome to the Weekly Fiver, where I’ll pick five recently released songs of varying degrees of quality and thoroughly break them down for you. No two songs will be on the same tier, and they’ll be listed from best to worst. The top song will be an excellent must-hear tune, while the bottom song will be one you ought to stay away from or else you will make your ears sad. It’s all very scientific.
The eminently reliable kings of alternative rock are still at the top of their game commercially. Now with about thirty radio singles to their name, you’d think they’d be shelved to legacy act status or at least relegated to active rock markets. Nope, they’re still a big deal. Luckily this time around the lead single is worth the fuss. A bizarre cross between Dave Grohl‘s Probot side project and the more emotive Foo singles (“Everlong”, “Best of You”, “Rope”), it stands out immediately not just on its own terms but as one of the band’s singles as well. Twenty-two years into their career, the band isn’t just relevant- they’re vital.
Pretty Decent Song of the Week
Take note, Tame Impala– this is how you do psychedelic guitar noodling. A defined chord progression, a clear vision for the lead instrument, and a strong sense of pacing. It doesn’t hurt that Sultana also mixes things up by throwing the whole thing over a reggae backbone instead of simply copying 70s soft rock in reductive fashion. The searing guitar solo the ends the song is a welcome surprise as well, displaying even more impressive fretwork from the rising star.
Meh Song of the Week
The past five years we’ve been constantly told that there’s this big “emo revival” brewing under our noses, spearheaded mainly by the Top Shelf label. You’ve heard the names: Fireworks, The Hotelier, Turnover, Into It. Over It, that “World is Beautiful I’m Not Gonna Die” band, Modern Baseball, American Football, and a bunch of other sports named bands.
But out of all this commotion we’ve gotten what, a handful of acceptable tunes? (Heyrocco‘s “First Song”, Speedy Ortiz‘s “No Below” and Brave Bird‘s “Rekindle” come to mind.) No definitive landmark albums yet, just a lot of guys trying to be Brand New over and over and over again.
“Cork of Worry” isn’t stellar as it takes way too long to change dynamically, but it at least has some semblance of a hook. It’s also produced pretty well, and at the very least makes Sinai Vessel a band to keep an eye on. And yes, it does sound like Brand New.
Below Average Song of the Week
Well at least now it’s obvious which Gallagher the real songwriter in Oasis was, and it wasn’t Liam. Noel‘s past two albums with his band the High Flying Birds have been pretty great, not only melodically but stylistically as well. Meanwhile Liam is still dealing in the same traditional Brit bar rock he’s always been a purveyor of. It’s just another Beady Eye tune- tolerable and inoffensive but hopelessly plain. Far less entertaining than watching the brothers feud online.
Disappointing Song of the Week
Okay, so what is going on here, Gavin? The song itself- decent. The production- inexplicably amateur?? Why does an album track from an established major label band sound like a demo recorded in a garage in 1992? More importantly, why is it only the chorus that sounds so bad? So many questions.
It’s not like the world is clamouring for another stellar single from the post-grunge veterans, but it’s still frustrating to hear a potentially listenable tune hamstrung with shoddy recording techniques. The muted, almost muffled drums, the dry lead guitar, the poorly overdubbed vocals- it’s all so strange.