Free and legal MP3:Your 33 Black Angels (concise, likable, hard-edged pop)

“New Song” – Your 33 Black Angels

Concise and good-natured while also flashing a bit of hard-edged sloppiness that makes it all the more likable. “New Song” is not only so concise it can’t be bothered with a title, it’s so concise that it pretty much uses the same central melody in both the verse and the chorus. It works musically because…well, who knows, actually. These things remain mysterious. No doubt it has something to do with how the rhythm speeds up in the chorus, and also—not to be underestimated—the rumbly, lower-register harmonies brought to singer Benji Kast’s slightly roughed-up tenor. But maybe the real trick is the fact that the melody remains unresolved in the verse. The verse kind of climaxes on the word “try” (listen at 0:19 or 0:32, for example), and that note, my friends, is unresolved. And it says right there in The Idiot Guide’s to Music Theory that “you don’t want to end your melody with unresolved tension.” (I kid you not; Google it.)

Well, you may not want to end the melody that way for good, but it’s pretty great when it sounds like you are ending it unresolved and then you wait all the way until the end of the chorus (which starts with the same melody) to arrive at resolution. I am fairly certain that the five guys in Your 33 Black Angels have not read The Idiot Guide’s to Music Theory.

“New Song” comes from the Brooklyn-based band’s self-released second CD, Tales of My Pop-Rock Love Life, which is due out next week.

Free and legal MP3:The Last Town Chorus (idiosyncratic, dreamy lap steel pop)

“Loud and Clear” – the Last Town Chorus

And this, oddly enough, is the second song called “Loud and Clear” now featured on Fingertips (the first being one from the duo Pink and Noseworthy), for those keeping score at home. This “Loud and Clear” is particularly well-named, because Megan Hickey, who plays lap steel guitar and sings, has a sweet, clear-toned voice and a round, indelible sound, as she plays her instrument using effect pedals not typically employed, creating both dreamy textures and memorable lead lines in the process. This is not your Grand Ole Opry lap steel. Hickey has an instinctive feel for just how much to glide and bend her notes, avoiding country cliches while invigorating the song with inventive shapes and sounds.

Although originally a duo, the Last Town Chorus has since 2004 been the Brooklyn-based Hickey playing with a changing ensemble of musicians. “Loud and Clear” is a single from an as-yet untitled CD, to be released at some as-yet unspecified date by Hacktone Records. MP3 via Hacktone.