Rock On, Radio: The Latest Alternative Releases

From singer-songwriters to pop/rock bands, these latest singles are all Adam Approved (always a good thing) and going to Alternative or AAA (Adult Album Alternative) radio within the next few weeks. They are just a small sample of the songs you may be seeing on next week’s Radio Report for the month of February. I give you these four great new tracks as an appetizer:

Can't get it out of my "Head".

Can’t get it out of my “Head”.

BEN HOWARD – “Keep Your Head Up”
Adds Date: January 28 (AAA)

25-year-old Howard is originally from West London and released his only album to date, Every Kingdom, back in the fall of 2011. His biggest single thus far in the States, “Only Love”, recently went to #5 on the adult alternative chart. “Love” was also his only single to place in the top 40 in the U.K. Singles Chart. Howard is following it up in the States with the song “Keep Your Head Up”, which went to #74 in the U.K. in September 2011. For you pop music fans out there, no, this is not a hot Andy Grammer cover. Howard’s track is more along the lines of a David Gray or a Paolo Nutini song; a really organic sound with an emotive vocal as Howard appeals to the listener to “keep your head up, keep your heart strong/keep your mind set in your ways.” It’s a boost of encouragement when the protagonist is lost in his wicked ways and looking for a way out, only find that “all I was searchin’ for was me.” The song’s much more immediate for me than “Love” ever was. Since that slowly broke him on the AAA format, I would hope that this next release will rise a little bit faster and get Howard back to the top ten. He’s a hidden jewel in the world of singer-songwriters; you’ll keep coming back for another listen.

The element of "Freedom".

The element of “Freedom”.

DIDO – “No Freedom”
Adds Date: February 18 (AAA)

Hello there, old friend. The hitmaker behind “Thankyou” and “White Flag” came back with a not-so-eventful album in 2008 called Safe Trip Home. First single “Don’t Believe In Love” never saw any significant radio action and the album quickly faded away. Dido hopes that this will be a big return for her, which comes nearly ten years after their release of her last big chart hit in the States, “White Flag”. The first official single from her forthcoming album, Girl Who Got Away, is “No Freedom”, which sees the singer back to her familiar sound with perhaps a touch of an older R&B sound in elements of the composition. The song is about being constricted by a relationship, with the protagonist seemingly at the end of one: “Take it by your silence/I’m free to walk out the door/By the look of your eyes, I can tell/You don’t think I’ll be back for more.” She realizes that there’s “no love without freedom”, even if the two of them pass by each other in a more indirect way. The song will at least be enough to get her back on the airwaves, but, is it too little too late in the States or will she get the full embrace that she did in previous eras? Keep looking out on the charts to see what happens.

No need to horse around.

No need to horse around.

FUN. – “Why Am I The One?”
Adds Date: February 25 (Alternative)

What’s fun of having no new fun. songs on the radio? Good question. The band poses another one with “Why Am I The One?”, the fourth single from their album, Some Nights, and the followup to recent hit “Carry On”. It comes just in time for the GRAMMY Awards, where they’re up for a number of awards and will be performing on the live broadcast. (I’ll be posting all my picks for the ceremony in two weeks.) “One” sounds like an Elton John song hit the production of a mid-90’s rock band. I don’t know what it is, but there’s one distinctive part of the chorus that reminds me a lot of John’s “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” in the melody that Ruess is singing. The protagonist is bored of his situation, until he gets the “feeling that I’m right where I belong”, but he still manages to be on the losing end of a situation with his girl, asking “Why am I the one always packing all my stuff?” This may very well be the fourth top ten hit in a row for the group on the Alternative chart, which almost never happens with an act’s first four radio releases. We’ll see what happens! The radio adds date is still a month away, so “Carry” could still make some upward movement in the meantime. (It’s currently top ten on the Alternative chart and also charting on mainstream radio.)

Imagination's got the best of you.

Imagination’s got the best of you.

IMAGINE DRAGONS – “Demons”
Adds Date: at radio now (AAA/Alternative)

This quartet from Las Vegas has garnered two big hits on alternative radio within the past year: “It’s Time” and ‘Radioactive”, the former of which has become a sizeable crossover hit. This third release, also from their 2012 release Night Visions, the band’s debut album, is a little more mellow overall than their past two releases, but still finds the right amount of energy during the chorus to keep the song going. This isn’t exactly light stuff, taking place in a world where “days are cold” and “your dreams all fail”, but it’s the pre-chorus that really hits the message home in a very thought-provoking way: “No matter what we breed/We are still made of greed.” It’s sort of disturbing in a sense, but it rings frighteningly true given the world’s situation today. Still, there are demons present even in the protagonist’s eyes, even as he tries to “save the light” of another presence that he can make him pure again. It’s an outstanding lyric, and alternative radio will definitely make this another big hit for the band. They’ll be on tour for much of the first half of 2013 before potentially returning to the studio to record their second full-length album.

Do you have a favorite song out of the four highlighted here? Is there another artist that you think I should cover? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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Filed under Music News, Single Reviews

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