“What Do I Know” – Peter Walker

Sharp and assured, this song is enlivened by the juxtaposition of a tight beat and a relaxed melody. Despite a stark and itchy guitar-and-drum backdrop straight out of, I don’t know, an early Joe Jackson record maybe, Walker sings with a cool, deft calm that really centers this short song—he seems in fact to be singing perpetually off the beat; combined with how the lyrics tend to clump into three-syllable groups, Walker creates a sense of unexpected space in a rigorously marked 4/4 environment (each beat itself often slashed out by double-time rhythm guitar eighth notes). And in a song that’s not much more than two and a half minutes, I wouldn’t expect a kick-out-the-jams guitar solo, but I’m impressed by the sonorous and genuinely interesting 25-second turn Walker takes on his instrument, from which he gets a neat bagpipe-y sort of droniness. “What Do I Know” is the last song on Young Gravity, Walker’s second CD, which was released last week on Dangerbird Records. The MP3 is via Walker’s web site.

“Preludio” – Hacia Dos Veranos

Every now and then my non-instrumental-oriented ears glom onto an instrumental that they decide they like, at which point my brain has to kind of catch up and figure out why. Usually to no avail. All I can say here is that I find the combination of the mellow, vaguely Latin-sounding electric guitar and haunted-mansion organ unaccountably fetching. Every time the organ takes center stage—the riff first heard around 0:59—and then begins to sound maybe more like a haunted merry-go-round, I feel like smiling. When music makes me smile, I know I’m liking it, but usually, again, in a way my brain isn’t necessarily contributing to. And then, okay, just when I think I’m sinking into this brisk, semi-wacky vibe, along comes an organ sustain, at around 2:43, telling me something’s up, something new. When the organ finally releases its chord, almost a full minute later, what do we get? Crazy-loud-strident guitars, that’s what. Cool! Hacia Dos Veranos (“Towards Two Summers”) is a trio from Argentina; their debut EP, called Fragmentos de una tarde somnolienta (Fragments of a sleepy afternoon, perhaps?), was released was released in South America in 2005 on Muy Moderna Records and then in the U.K. in January 2006 on I Wish I Was Unpopular, an archly-named division of Unpopular Records. The MP3 is available courtesy of the band.

“Day OK” – Spiral Beach

Slinky spunky and skewed, “Day OK” sounds like no sort of music we might, pop-culturally, expect from four teenagers, even if they are from the musically advanced nation of Canada; but then again, I think teenagers in the 21st century have a whole other thing going on than either a) teenagers did in previous notable generations (i.e. baby boomer teens) or b) the current cultural stereotype (i.e. multi-tasking, iPod-addled techno-zombies) would have you believe. I love the ghostly, accordion-like keyboard riff that sets the jaunty tone, I love the gleeful syncopation, and I love the effortlessly quirky hook in the chorus, the repeated words bouncing what sounds like a minor third back and forth in a major setting, somehow. Singer Maddy Wilde has more depth of character in her voice than one often hears in singers quite literally twice her age (she’s got a great name, too). Whether this is a lucky early-career home run or indication of eventual superstardom–well, to quote Peter Walker from above, what do I know. The song is great, however. It can be found on the band’s new 10-song self-titled, self-released CD. The MP3 is available via the band’s site. Thanks to the very hard-working Largehearted Boy for the lead.




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