“Love in Fear” – Constantines

Stay with this one awhile. It starts with an uncomfortably jerky sense of time, as if the rhythm section is somehow trying to play two different songs simultaneously. For the entire first minute, the ear is given neither a firm beat nor a rooted melody to hold onto. Notice the keyboard relatively far down in the mix; its nuanced accents and jazz-inflected harmonics come to the fore a bit later. After a minute of this off-centered minimalism, the beat seems to coalesce—it remains syncopated and skeletal, but something’s gathering, you can feel it, and sure enough, at 1:30, the drummer finally joins force with the bass and the guitars, and the song blossoms in a depth-laced, truly satisfying way. (Check out the chord progression in the chorus linking the phrases “What hangs above” and “when we love,” it’s just about worth the price of admission right there.) Everything backs off again a half-minute later for a stripped-down bridge before returning with yet greater intensity and spirit for the home stretch. Now a Toronto-based quintet, Constantines was founded in Guelph in 1999. “Love in Fear” comes from the band’s forthcoming third CD, Tournament of Hearts, to be released next month on Sub Pop Records; the MP3 is via Better Propaganda.

“Eloquence” – Carter Tanton

Baltimore’s Carter Tanton has been recording his own music since he was 15, but that doesn’t come close to explaining how he projects such a strong and knowing musical presence at the still-precocious age of 23. “Eloquence” has a grand yet grounded urgency about it, which you can hear in both the assured, time-tested rhythm of the crisp acoustic guitar work and the keening timbre of Tanton’s voice, which strikes me as an unexpected cross between Matthew Sweet and Richard Thompson. With the timeless vibe of a full-throttled blues stomp, “Eloquence” manages at the same time to sound very of the moment, fresh, and relevant. The song can be found on Tanton’s Birds and Rain CD, released in July on Park the Van Records–which, I should note, is based in New Orleans, so let’s hope they’re all okay down there. The MP3 is hosted by Devil in the Woods, a small California-based label that apparently helps Park the Van sell some of their releases. Thanks to Largehearted Boy for the lead.

“Michelle” – the Homesicks

Fetchingly melodramatic (see below*), nicely-produced indie rock from Israel, the sort of song where the ’80s-style hooks pile up so flagrantly, one on top of the other, that my new wave-friendly heart ends up melted in a happy little puddle. Any number of the usual suspects are mushed together here–Joy Division to Bowie to Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark to the Pixies and then some–with great good verve and awareness. At the same time, the sampled-sounding synth riff that emerges at around 2:50 sounds like something that might only emerge from a Middle Eastern band. Occasionally globalization has its charms. The Homesicks are an unsigned five-piece band based in Tel Aviv; the MP3 comes from an intriguing-looking but largely Hebrew Israeli web site called Blind Janitor that I unfortunately can’t make heads or tails of. Thanks very much to visitor Moran for the lead on this one. (*Shortly after posting this today, I noticed that last week I had described the Fleeing New York MP3 as “endearingly melodramatic.” Busted! I’ll admit I struggle as it is not to over-use certain favorite words when writing here week after week, but that’s a bit too much repetition too soon, don’t you think? Let’s call this one, perhaps, “almost but not quite over the top,” or something to that effect. And consider it another sign of life without a copy editor.)




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