“Eyelashes” – the Panda Band

Loping along with a kitchen-sink variety of sounds and musical moments, “Eyelashes” is a song that I think will satisfy both those who enjoy songwriting craft and those with short attention spans. After a three-second introduction, we are thrown right into the middle of the song, as the chorus comes first. Just as I’m getting acclimated to the expansive soundscape, featuring an unnameable wall of sound that doesn’t appear to be any particular instrument or background vocal, the song pulls back to a quieter section, but even that shifts quickly, as the singer and acoustic guitar are joined first by a cheesy organ (I mean that in a good way) and some skittering electronic percussion, leading us soon enough into an engaging instrumental section. The song isn’t quite a minute old yet. And, as it turns out, the instrumental interlude, too, keeps moving and keeps us guessing—the 24-second break beginning at around 54 seconds in itself has three different sub-sections, including one of the coolest (and oddest) guitar “solos” I’ve heard in a while (check it out starting around 1:06, after the flurry of electronic twittering—it’s pretty low in the mix, and for all of its alternating dissonance it almost doesn’t sound like somebody playing an instrument). Even as the song can be parsed into these semi-describable chunks, the impressive thing is that “Eyelashes” holds its ground with great panache, offering a rollicking musical adventure in a concise space. The Panda Band is a quintet from the large but remote city of Perth, Western Australia. This song is from the band’s debut CD, This Vital Chapter, which was released in Australia this summer, and given a U.S. release last month on the Filter U.S. label. The MP3 is available via the band’s site.



“The King is Dead (But the Throne Is Not Ours)” – Causa

Mysterious and restrained and yet also fast-paced, mixing electronics and guitars with Radiohead-like aplomb. The melody urges the song forward and upward against a particularly appealing beat; I like how well-articulated and almost minimalist it is, achieving a satisfying complexity without simply piling on the digitally-manipulated sounds. The Spanish lyrics add to the enigmatic feel, thanks to the complete failure of my high school Spanish to rescue more than one or two words from the flow. And talk about great guitar solos, this one, beginning at 2:09 and closing out the song, is probably what ultimately sold me here; it’s a repetition of nine basic notes, but yanked out of the instrument in an itchy, urgent, and increasingly freaked-out way. Love it. Causa is a quartet from Buenos Aires, Argentina that has been around since 1999. “The King is Dead” is a song that has not yet appeared on an album of theirs; it’s available as an MP3 via the band’s site.


“Fearful” – Beat Radio

Part lullaby, part benediction, “Fearful” is one beautiful and tender song, yet possesses not an ounce of sappiness, which limns its sturdy truthfulness in clear, almost breathtaking strokes. Most love songs, let’s be honest, defeat their own intentions through mawkish exclamations, both musical and lyrical. Somewhere in the interplay between Brian Sendrowitz’s vulnerable vocal, the subtle but progressive tension of the acoustic instrumentation (listen to the drumbeat, for instance), and the rock-solid melody, the song achieves a luminous clarity that doesn’t have to rely on bromides or histrionics. “Fearful” is from the band’s debut CD (they call it an LP, god bless ‘em) The Great Big Sea; the MP3 is available via the band’s site. As a matter of fact, the entire album is there to be listened to and downloaded as free and legal MP3s (god bless ‘em). A New York City four-piece, Beat Radio has been written about all over the place, but I noticed them first only recently via the Sixeyes blog.