So these guys are probably tired of the word “Beatlesque,” but how to avoid it when you hear that voice, those chords, that melody? And yet, as all too many bands over the years (decades, by now) have discovered, it’s turned out to be pretty difficult to be both Beatlesque and, well, interesting. Something energetic and compelling too easily gets lost when bands find their singer sounds like John Lennon and their guitarist sounds like George Harrison. I give this Austin-based band a fair amount of credit for building a worthwhile catalog upon such a Beatle-y (not to mention Squeeze-ish) foundation. This song was originally recorded on their 1994 debut; this version is a re-recording, available on their 2000 EP, Hotel Balitmore.
“Paradise” – Tamara Williamson
And here we have yet another under-recognized female Canadian singer/songwriter with a rich, idiosyncratic sound. “Paradise” feels like a film or a short story, and yet, despite its length, never bogs down into mere vamping or noodling; the musical landscape unfolds with a steady beat, builds with layered drama, and is held together by Williamson’s lithe voice. To download the song, scroll down to the CD “The Arms of Ed” and click on the word “Listen” next to track 12. The CD was released in 2001; she has a newer album, All Those Racing Horses, released this year, but as yet has no MP3s available from it.
“Ashes on the Highway” – David Dondero
I had to hang with this one a bit, not connecting that well to the alt-country-meets-Billy-Bragg opening. But I found that it acquired a certain charm as it developed; once again, it was a slide guitar that hooked me in. I never realized I liked slide guitar that much. Hmm. Anyway, this guy has apparently been floating around the indie-rock scene for about 10 years. The song is found on his new CD, Transient.