“Don’t Like The Way” – New Estate

Rocking with a leisurely, feedbacky vibe, “Don’t Like The Way” juxtaposes an edgy, shrill-but-likable guitar sound with a flowy melody and good-natured background chug that somehow puts me in the mind of Fleetwood Mac of all things (hm, maybe the song title also did it, bringing “Go Your Own Way” unconsciously to mind). In any case, the band has an intriguing sound going here, and while I am not one of the writers about music on the web who demands innovation above all else, I certainly am impressed when I come across a band that seems to have its own particular voice–something that has become more and more difficult to do without lapsing into unaccountable quirkiness here in the new century. I’m guessing that this Melbourne-based quartet–featuring, unusually, both three singers and three songwriters–may be worth keeping eyes and ears on. “Don’t Like The Way” is the lead track on the band’s CD Considering…, released this month on Kittridge Records; the MP3 is found on the Kittridge web site.

“Boots” – Noe Venable

Atmospheric and structurally engaging, “Boots” unfolds with precision and intrigue, anchored by Venable’s able and appealing voice. While an acoustic guitar provides a centering pulse, this song moves well beyond standard singer/sonwriter fare, brandishing a varied instrumental palette with great subtlety and skill, while some of the melodic turns give me goosebumps. Venable is a Bay Area musician with a loyal local following; she plays in a trio featuring keyboards, violin, and various electronic devices. “Boots” is the title track to her second most recent CD, released in 2003 on Venable’s Petridish Records. The MP3 can be found on her site; thanks to 3hive for the tip.

“60 Cycles” – the Spectacular Fantastic

First of all, check out the big bashy guitars in the intro and the way the lead and the rhythm guitars leap immediately into action with both a manner and sound that seem heartbreakingly old-fashioned (the lead guitar’s tone is itself a blast from some indefinable past). Then Mike Detmer opens his mouth and he’s got a great dollop of Westerberg-ish goofy humor about his voice even as he’s not saying or doing anything particularly funny. And then, geez, is the hook in the chorus insanely good or what? I have no idea why, it just is: “And I try to be the same as you,” he sings, and listen if you would to the notes he hits on the word “try” and “as” and somewhere in there is not only the secret to the hook but (maybe) the secret to life as we know it. (Maybe. It’s a hunch, that’s all.) While nothing here is new or different it sounds new and different precisely because it’s not trying to be new and different, if that makes any sense. This isn’t self-conscious retro rock, this is brand new classic pop, delivered with love and verve by the Cincinnati-based Detmer, who likes to work with a rotating cast of characters and call himself a band. “60 Cycles” is the lead track on a new EP entitled I Love You, all six songs of which are available as free downloads on the band’s web site. Thanks to The Catbirdseat for the head’s up.




0