Free and legal MP3: Gringo Star (woozy, melodic neo-psychedelia)

From its chirpy, distorted intro to its abbreviated yet definitive coda, “Find a Love” packs a lot of off-kilter goodness into its archetypal pop song length of 2:45.

Gringo Star

“Find a Love” – Gringo Star

From its chirpy, distorted intro to its abbreviated yet definitive coda, “Find a Love” packs a lot of off-kilter goodness into its archetypal pop song length of 2:45. This is achieved in part through uncommon succinctness—less than 30 seconds total, for instance, are spent delivering the song’s verses, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen or heard that before. At the same time, the song’s woozy, melodic neo-psychedelia gives off a feeling of warmth and expansion; the song lopes along, backbeat converted into a clattery shuffle, and we appear to have plenty of time for lagniappe like a hidden-in-plain-sight “Penny Lane” riff smack in the middle of things (first heard at 1:36), or that science-fiction-y end to the instrumental break at 1:56, or, for that matter, a chorus so laid-back it almost doesn’t bother with lyrics.

Gringo Star is a band from Atlanta led by brothers Peter and Nicholas Furgiuele. Founded as a foursome in 2001, with the name A Fir-Ju Well, they took the name Gringo Star in 2006; after two full-length albums, they became a trio. “Find a Love” is from the band’s third release, Floating Out to See, which was recorded at home and self-produced, unlike the first two albums. Gringo Star was previously featured on Fingertips in August 2011. MP3 via the good folks at KEXP.

Free and legal MP3: The Decks (early Beatles meet surf rock in a 21st-century garage)

“What You Said” – the Decks

Both in title and vibe, this song recalls pre-Rubber Soul Beatles, augmented by a garage-y edge, an abiding love of surf music, and (a bonus) boy-girl singing.

I love the assertive but shuffly drumbeat, I love the old-fashioned guitar melody line (so rarely do guitarists want to give us this sort of thing any more), I love the surf guitar that kind of just sneaks in when the moment’s right, I love how blasé and sloppy the vocals can get without ever quite losing their way, and most of all I love the song’s casual but trusty momentum, which helps over the course of four minutes turn a simple but effective chorus into something just this side of extraordinary. We surely have a contender here for the song of the nascent summer, as this will go nicely blaring off a front porch accompanied by a frosty beverage.

A two-boy, two-girl foursome from Detroit, the Decks have been together since 2003, but have just now released their debut CD—Breath and Bone, which came out this week on Cass Records, a small Detroit-based label. That’s where you’ll find “What You Said.”

Free and legal MP3: Cut Off Your Hands (Spector-like power pop with New Ordery vibe)

“Happy As Can Be” – Cut Off Your Hands

Put Phil Spector, the Beatles, and New Order in a blender and out comes “Happy As Can Be.” (Well, it works in my blender.) There’s the spacious, bashy wall of sound, the “Please Please Me” melody, and the deadpan yet also semi-melodramatic club vibe. Oh, and maybe throw Split Enz in the blender too, since these guys are from New Zealand and lead singer Nick Johnston has a bit of a Tim Finn-ish yelp going on there, especially in the chorus. (Yeah, okay, it’s a big blender.)

I’m fascinated, as I always tend to be, by the ‘wall of sound’ sound—the overall effect is conspicuous but when you try to pick it apart, the specifics kind of scurry away. What is it that’s making the sound, anyway? A big, rumbling drum and a distinct echo is part of it; clangy but indistinct guitar sound is part of it, as is a choral-like backing noise, coming from either voices or instruments or both. Mixing a bell in with the beat–always a good touch, for some reason. Whatever’s doing it, Cut Off Your Hands is here to deliver it to us; on the quartet’s MySpace page, next to “Influences” is one name: Phil Spector.

“Happy As Can Be” is the title track to the band’s new EP, their third, scheduled for a digital release on Frenchkiss Records this week. Their full-length debut is expected out in early 2009.