New York Music Daily

Global Music With a New York Edge

Tag: free download

The Foxx Reinvent a Classic CBGB-Era Sound

The Foxx play an edgy, distinctively New York flavored style of powerpop that’s a dead ringer for what was happening at CBGB around 1978. At that point, new wave was still in its infancy, but glam was still fresh in everybody’s mind and some people, notably Lou Reed, were still playing it. That’s where the Foxx picks up. They’ve got a couple of albums up at Bandcamp: their most recent one, Lila, as well as their ep Born Tonite, recorded in 2009, a free download that you should grab immediately if this kind of stuff is your thing. The Foxx are at Death by Audio on March 26 at around 10 for a $7 cover.

Frontwoman Juliet Swango sings with a Chrissie Hynde seductiveness over an early Motown-style electric piano riff and Tim Cyster’s growly guitar on the ep’s title track, her deliciously swirly organ solo leading back into the stomp. Wanting Only You pairs Cyster’s Stonesy chords against Swango’s lush organ and quirky Missing Persons-esque vocals: they rip through it in two minutes on the nose.

With its darkly intricate interweave of guitar and keys, the artsy anthem Black Rainbow gives Swango a launching pad for some powerful, dramatic vocals in the same vein as Vera Beren. Waiting in the Dark bridges the gap between oldschool 70s soul music and gritty powerpop, with the album’s most sarcastic lyric. The final cut, Velvet Helmet layers Swango’s elegantly echoey Rhodes piano over a tense groove from bassist Zac Webb and drummer Jill McArthur up to a towering, anthemic chorus. With Swango’s creepy organ and practically operatic vocals as it rises, it’s the most menacing track here. .

The more recent release brings more of an anthemic C&W flavor into the mix: Swango distinguishes herself by writing and singing in a country vernacular without getting all cheesy or faking a southern accent. Standout track: Don’t Start Blaming Your Heart, a big anthem midway through the album.

Alternately Catchy and Noisy Sounds from Brooklyn Art-Rock Trio Goddess

Goddess may not be the optimum choice of band name if branding is the issue. But this particular Brooklyn Goddess – a trio with single-string fiddle, dulcimer, Casio and calm, unselfconsciously warm, folk-tinged, two-woman harmonies – has an intriguing name-your-price ep titled Mind Control up at Bandcamp. If the artsiest side of art-rock is your thing, you’ll love this stuff. This group likes circular melodies and vamping out on them, which they do best on the opening number, Confinement. Their songs are all about contrasts and juxtapositions, calm versus agitation, smoothness versus abrasiveness: in this case, it’s stark overtones from the fiddle against an attractively stately piano melody that runs over and over. The lyrics are enigmatic: is it “All I could find,” or “I’ll occupy?” Maybe it’s both.

The second track, Candle Magick, paints a picture of an animated black magic ritual against a gentle lullaby melody with faux mellotron and Rhodes electric piano settings, and a flute that adds an off-center edge midway through: it’s so pretty that it might well be sarcastic. The title track sets the hint of a tune emerging from the dulcimer over an increasingly abrasive string drone. Once again, the lyrics are on the opaque side: “Catch some rays, free your mind…special rates, free your mind.” It gets more ominous as it goes along.

A Killer Free Download from Jamband the Delta Saints

 

Nashville jamband the Delta Saints call themselves “bayou rockers,” but while it’s true that they draw on New Orleans sounds, they’re a lot more diverse. Although they can be funky, they’re first and foremost a rock band. And while most people think of New Orleans music as ecstatic and celebratory – and a lot of it is – that music has a dark side, and the Delta Saints absolutely get that. If long, smoldering psychedelic jams with searing guitar and trippy keyboards are your thing, go to their site and download their killer new ep, Drink It Slow, for free (you can also stream it at Soundcloud). It’s the closest you’re going to get to their Feb 15 show at Irving Plaza opening for newschool outlaw country band Blackberry Smoke because that show is sold out. Is that cool or what? A country band and a delta-flavored jamband selling out a venue the size of Irving Plaza – has that ever happened in New York, let alone during this never-ending depression?

Don’t be fooled by the fact that that the ep has only three tracks: there’s more music than you would expect. It’s rare that you find a band that can go on to such great lengths yet still be as purposeful and consistently interesting as the Delta Saints are. Their not-so-secret weapon is lead guitarist Dylan Fitch, a monster blues player who can be very fast and frenetic, but he doesn’t waste notes. Likewise, Nate Kremer, the band’s keyboardist, who switches effortlessly from icepick piano lines, to swirling, majestic organ, and electric piano, varying his textures from echoey deep-space sonics to sly wah-wah licks.

Frontman Ben Ringel’s burning electric dobro kicks off the first track, Cigarettte with snarling riffage over drummer Ben Azi’s loose, laid-back, funky shuffle before the organ and piano wash in like a volcanic vent on the riverbottom. It’s a revenge anthem: Ringel tells the girl he wants to feel her choke from that smoke. Ouch! The second song, Crazy, is the centerpiece and it is a doozy, a nine-minute epic that works a slow, slinky noir blues groove with all kinds of up-and-down dynamics, a precise, angst-fueled Fitch solo and every keyboard texture in this band’s arsenal. Again, Azi’s drumming is just plain killer, hanging along a misterioso edge with his boomy kickdrum and haunting cymbal work during the song’s quieter moments. The last song is Drink It Slow, a live take that’s the funkiest thing here (although it’s more of a soul song) and another showcase for the keys: organ, wah Rhodes and finally a gritty explosion of guitar as bassist David Supica finally takes the band upward as it nears the end. The Delta Saints pretty much live on the road, so they’ll probably be back in town before you know it.

A Deliciously Creepy Free Download from Orphan Jane

Orphan Jane have what they call “demos” of their upcoming album available as a free download at their Soundcloud page. These “demos” are sonically superior to what most other bands release as a final album. And this circus rock band’s songs are creepy! Their sound is rustic noir cabaret with jaunty but sinister vaudevillian overtones, and theatrics that can be silly one moment and disquieting the next.

They mine the inner desperation in Alabama Song for all it’s worth with Bob Desjardin’s pulsing bass, Tim Cluff’s swirly accordion, Dave Zydalis’ biting, skronk-tinged guitar and Jess Underwood’s dramatic, stagy vocals: by the end, she’s gone from whiskey bars to pretty boys to simply scrounging for cash. Likewise, they take Dylan’s You Ain’t Going Nowhere and max out the surrealism: Underwood sells the absurdist intrigue of lines like “Buy me a flute and a gun that shoots, tailgates and substitutes, drop yourself at a tree with roots” as perfectly natural.

But the originals here are the best. Lost Mind, a menacing minor-key tune, builds from a sarcastically whiny, Broadwayesque verse to an explosive choir of voices on the chorus – it reminds a bit of Brooklyn circus rockers Not Waving But Drowning. Mansion Song is a vividly scampering Roaring 20s noir cabaret song with uneasy Hawaiian-tinged steel guitar and a strange tale of wrongdoing and karmic payback among the idle classes. Underwood sings the sad, pretty waltz Still Life with a bitterly nostalgic edge: it ramps up the klezmer influence even more than the previous tune.

The most vaudevillian number is Hole in the Head, a bizarre duet between Underwood and Zydalis: he seems to be a quack doctor, she likes a smoke and a pill and some wine as a chaser, you think you can guess the rest but you really can’t. The indignantly strutting murder ballad that ends the playlist is the only song here that sounds more like a demo than a finished take, but it’s still an entertaining story, and it’s reason to look forward to hearing the genuine article when it’s a wrap.

Horror Surf for the Holidays

Mysterious Michigan horror surf band Zombie Zen A Go Go have a very cool, ghoulish new ep, Music for Hoards, up as a name-your-price download at their Bandcamp page. This band distinguish themselves from the rest of the horror surf contingent with their spacious, elegant guitar and snaky, slinky funeral organ over terse, uncluttered bass and drums. In other words, it’s more horror and less surf, although there’s tons of reverb on the guitars.

Don’t let the silly song titles give you the wrong idea: there’s not a single bad song here. The first one, Groovy Ghoul A Go Go, sets the stage with its droll horror film sonics, pulsing groove and tongue-in-cheek synth. Midnight Alien Creep mixes up an amazing amount of elements into barely two minutes: a bluesy intro, a marching organ theme, a handful of slashes from the guitar, a little piano and a quote from the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  NYC Zombie Love Story has a delicious interweave of organ and jangly reverb guitar, and a turnaround that hints at Bach.

Dr. Devious keeps a suspenseful, dynamically-charged pulse going all the way up to a slinky bridge with a touch of crime-jazz: it’s basically a variation on the Peter Gunne Theme. The final track is It’s Hammer (Horror) Time!, a surreal, woozy, fuzzed-out tribute to the great B-movie studio – it’s the least surfy track here; it’s closer to the Marshmallow Ghosts than surf music. Which doesn’t make it bad, it only makes it different. For anybody who’s wondering why there’d be such a Halloweenish album on this page at this time of year, that’s because this blog doesn’t do holiday music – unless, of course, it’s Halloween.

Lively, Intriguing Folk-Rock Jams from McGuffin Electric

Italian acoustic trio McGuffin Electric build an attractively pastoral psychedelic folk sound out the lush interweave of Matteo Fiorini’s guitars, banjo and uke, Erica Polini’s violin and Domenico Peluchetti’s bouzouki and bass. Their album Brightelephant, a free download from the atmospherically-inclined Acustronica netlabel, is aptly titled; their long instrumental vamps have a colorful airiness as well as elephantine length and heft.

The title track is a long, pretty, swaying Neapolitan folk-rock theme with atmospheric violin juxtaposed against slightly out-of-tune ukulele that adds a surreal edge. Kismet, Hardy rises and falls over a spare acoustic waltz tune, basically a dreamy, elegant one-chord jam like something off Pink Floyd’s Atomheart Mother. Somewhere in the North of Italy, a gently gorgeous stroll for guitar and bouzouki, works slowly shifting waves of dynamics – it sounds more lush than it actually is, credit to Fiorini and Peluchetti’s tight interplay. Seaside builds slowly with ghostly whispers echoing  around a quietly purposeful boogie riff.

I Don’t Give a Damn, the longest track here, is an extended jam that’s part Nick Drake, part Velvet Underground, lit up by Polini’s alternatingly stark and sailing violin. Kiss Me, Hardy is a considerably livelier blend of bluegrass fingerpicking, boisterous strumming and incisive violin work, with a nod to early 70s acoustic Hot Tuna. The album ends with Vivre Sa Vie and its sideways allusions to Romany jazz.  Who is the audience for this? Fans of the quieter side of jamband rock, the contemplative side of jazz, the rich Italian folk tradition, or simply the kind of music you can drift away to on a sunny Saturday morning. In addition to this album, Fiorini has a bunch of good stuff streaming at his Soundcloud page.

Video Dump Day: Emptying the Tank

One final day of videos and singles and then there’ll be a brand-new New York City live music calendar up here. That’s why all these videos! It literally takes days to pull the calendar together, which explains why so many videos and such have been stockpiled here over the past month. More concerts and albums coming on October 2. Til then:

Mike Rimbaud is one of the surprisingly few artists who realize that in a lot of respects, we’ve gone back to an age of singles instead of albums. That’s not to say that people don’t make albums anymore: he does that, too. His coolest single of late is The Ballad of Anthony Weiner, which does its best to humanize (well, semi-humanize) a serial sexter. And it’s not just joke-rock – that’s a neat, slinky latin soul groove he’s got going (itunes). The other one is Learning More About Less, a savage slap upside the head of teeenage textards and faceboogers (youtube). But all is not lost, Mike: the new generation is off Facebook, pays with cash instead of credit cards and is gaining traction for an overthrow of the surveillance state!

Another quintessentially New York group, the noir chamber pop duo Charming Disaster, serenade the virtues of public transportation with their East River Ferry Waltz (bandcamp).

Biggest news of the day is that snarling, twin-guitar Paisley Underground revivalists Mud Blood & Beer are offering their brilliant latest album The Sweet Life as a free download. A lot of this stuff is just as good and menacing as the Dream Syndicate or True West (bandcamp). They’re at the Way Station at 9 on 10/9.

Certain General guitarist Phil Gammage also has a noir thing going on much of the time. He’s got a new single, Giveaway (soundcloud).

Songwriter Melaena Cadiz offers up Bluestem Grass, a collaboration with another paisley underground type, Scott Collberg on dobro and other stringed instruments. It’s a gorgeous rock tune disguised as bluegrass from her single-a-month project (bandcamp).

And Icelandic band Mum have a pretty chamber trip-hop tune, Toothwheels, just out as a 7″ vinyl single (youtube).

Wickedly Catchy, Artsy Noir Piano Rock from Hudson K

If you like Amanda Palmer, you’ll love Hudson K. The singer/keyboardist is at the Delancey on June 25 at 9. She’s got three albums up at her Bandcamp page including her 2010 release Shine, which is available as a free download -and has been sitting on the hard drive here since before this blog existed. Why so long to mention it? Waiting for her to play a show here, of course.

She’s a great tunesmith: many of the artsy, sometimes cabaret-flavored songs here are catchy beyond belief. Rippling, sometimes ornate layers of piano, organ and other keys mingle with tasty, tasteful electric guitar over a tight rhythm section. There’s also a little bit of an 80s feel to some of the songs, starting with the first track, Fade, with its hint of a second-generation retro-Motown bounce. All the Things I Never Say is sort of stadium-era Who done as dark cabaret, morphing into a brief southern-flavored jam. The pulsing title track sets stagy vocals over a biting clavinova tune, while Champion sets gorgeous Memphis soul guitar against a theatrical 80s-pop sheen.

Intricate orchestration disguises the inner pop song in I Gave It All, while Rattled reaches for a slow-burning va-voom cabaret-rock ambience. With its waltzing baroque intro and seductive vocals, I Could Learn from You sounds like Vera Beren without the screaming guitars. The most cabaret-oriented song here is Prayer for Love, dancing flute contrasting with hard-hitting, low-register piano, while Where Did You Go is the most allusive and menacing, a big anthem rising with waves of ominous organ. The album ends with a heavily altered live version of the old Irish ballad Oh Whiskey. Rip the tracks and check out the similarly dark, tuneful stuff she’s done since then.

The Studio Debut of the West Coast Version of Maynard & the Musties

Songwriter Joe Maynard has the luxury of two bands to choose from, one in his Brooklyn hometown and one in the somewhat unlikely location of Orcas Island, Washington. Both bands are called the Musties (his gig when not playing music is dealing in rare books). Booker T. & the MG’s had a similar deal back in the 60s: Booker T. Jones led one outfit, and Isaac Hayes led an entirely different band: apparently nobody noticed that there were two versions of Booker T & the MG’s touring at the same time. However, there is only one Joe Maynard, a crooner with a deviously lyrical wit. His latest album is titled West, a hint as to which band is involved this time out. Orignally from Nashville, Maynard got his start playing snide, often funny-as-hell country songs inspired by the classics he grew up with, but in recent years he’s taken some rewarding detours into Americana-flavored rock. This album has some of both and it’s available at his Bandcamp page as a name-your-price download.

The first track, Big News, I’m Cryin’ has a western swing vibe fueled by Bruce Harvie’s sideswiping slide guitar. Melody Funk (that’s her real name) on bass and Andrew Moore on drums round out the band, Maynard likening his sad narrator to a frog that’s done jumping to the point where he’s passed out on the floor. Yikes!

The next two songs share a mysterious, hypnotic swaying vibe. Tin of Tea is an enigmatic account of a damaged woman who may or may not have killed her man: Maynard keeps you guessing. Killer Inside is considerably darker, Maynard’s vocals running through what sounds like a Leslie speaker for a creepy, watery effect, Harvie adding a long, slinky slide guitar solo. The last track is an unexpectedly gentle acoustic waltz spiked with Harvie’s mandolin. Maynard was a Lakeside Lounge act for quite some time but since that venue closed he often plays Hank’s and Rodeo Bar with his excellent New York band featurning the brilliant Naa Koshie Mills on violin; watch this space for upcoming show dates.

A Killer Free Download From Drina Seay

New York songwriter and bandleader Drina Seay seemingly came out of nowhere to become one of the great voices in pretty much every style of Americana music. For her, Americana means jazz and soul music in addition to country and blues. Her blend of all these vocal styles is one of the things that distinguishes her; the other is her songwriting, which draws equally powerfully on all of those genres as well. For the moment, she has an intriguing ep of original songs available for free download at her site. The lineup here features her on acousttic guitar along with Homeboy Steve Antonakos doing his usual virtuoso job, this time on both acoustic and electric, backed by Skip Ward’s terse bass.

The first song, Don’t Keep Me Waiting Too Long works off a catchy rustic fingerpicked bluegrass riff, Seay”s voice alternately stern and alluring, Antonakos firing off a sizzling solo. It wouldn’t be out of place in the Mary Lee Kortes songbook. The second cut, a big, torchy concert favorite, is Chase My Blues Away. Seay’s lurid, aching, reverbtoned vocals have a Neko Case menace matched by Antonakos’ blue-flame slide guitar: it’s one of the best songs written by anybody in this town in recent years. The last track, Whatcha Gonna Do, brings back Seay’s blend of bluegrass and classic pop chops. Watch this space for future show dates.

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