Free and legal MP3: Wesley Fuller (melodic indie rock, seductive chorus)

Melodic, creative, and eminently satisfying, “Melvista,” is as assured a slice of 21st-century indie rock as I’ve heard in a while.

Wesley Fuller

“Melvista” – Wesley Fuller

Melodic, creative, and almost giddily appealing, “Melvista,” is as assured a slice of 21st-century indie rock as I’ve heard in a while. Despite its retro-y veneer, and Fuller’s obvious embrace of a certain sort of ’60s/psychedelic look, “Melvista” gushes with contemporary flair. Even the Beatlesque chord progressions at the center of its seductive chorus (first heard around 0:35) feel tweaked and updated in some ineffable and ebullient way. Also, check out the drumming, which manages to feel very ’60s and very ’10s at the same time.

So, do understand that by “contemporary flair” I do not mean the addition of meaningless aural frippery in the cynical pursuit of distracted teenagers—I’m talking instead about an awareness of how the present moment is always a cumulative outgrowth of history rather than some kind of context-free instant of existence driven by lizard-brain reflex. Being willing to funnel sounds of the past through one’s 2016 consciousness (not to mention one’s 2016 audio equipment) is in my mind a far more reliable way to create something truly of the here and now than a slavish adherence to sound-fads of any particular moment. This is exactly why music that too rigidly clings to production choices that are very “now” paradoxically becomes the music that sounds most dated in another five or 10 years.

That said, slavish adherence to past sounds is of course an equally if not more unconvincing way to sound current. Maybe one of the reasons “Melvista” song escapes the gravitational pull of its inspirations is how effortlessly Fuller combines the sounds and vibes of distinct subgenres into a cohesive whole. Which is to say that “Melvista” is not merely Beatlesque—its roots can be found as well in glam rock, garage rock, and (here’s kind of the kicker) new wave. As a matter of fact, the song unfolds as a bit of a history lesson, its British invasion elements craftily transformed in plain sight by new wave injections beginning at 2:08: first, the verse is reimagined with a Cars-ish minimalism; next comes that synth-like guitar line (2:29), which culminates and then closes out the song, the likes of which ran through any number of late-’70s songs on both sides of the Atlantic and doubtlessly in Australia as well.

Originally from Perth, where he played in a series of bands, Wesley Fuller moved to Melbourne a couple of years ago. “Melvista” was his first release as a solo artist, initially out in February as a single and in July resurfacing as the title track on his debut five-song EP, released by the London-based 1965 Records. Thanks to the good folks at the Powerpopulist blog for the head’s up here, and thanks to the Austrlian music site Triple J Unearthed for the MP3.

Free and legal MP3: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (succinct & jittery, w/ a power pop heart)

This time around, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah exhibits a Cars-like capacity for wrapping an edgy, synthesizer-led, contemporary vibe around old-school rock’n’roll melodicism.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

“Maniac” – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Succinct and jittery, “Maniac” does its best to disguise its power pop roots with multifaceted synthesizers and vocal effects (and affects) but the thing about power pop is in the end there’s no hiding it. The chorus gives it away pretty much by definition. So there it is, at 1:09, the power-pop heart of this otherwise anxious-seeming song.

And yes I realize that it’s anxious-seeming in good part because Alex Ounsworth, with his strangled, nasally tenor, makes David Byrne sound almost relaxed. CYHSY have in fact drawn a lot of Talking Heads comparisons in the past, for clear enough reasons, but this time around I find some unexpected linkage to a different band that arose in late-’70s New England—the Cars. “Maniac” doesn’t sound like the Cars as much as it behaves like them, for its successful wrapping of an edgy, synthesizer-led, contemporary vibe around old-school rock’n’roll melodicism. Though, on second thought, this may likewise sound more like the Cars than it might initially seem. Segue “Maniac” into “Gimme Some Slack” (Spotify users: give it a try) and you will find some wonderful resonance—not an exact fit by any means, but the echoes are there. I direct your ears in particular to the deep guitar line at 2:07, which introduces what works as a kind of an alternate chorus here, and is both very Cars-like and a beautiful power pop device. That’s really where everything comes together in this one.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is a five-man band from Brooklyn with a bit of internet history that you either know already or don’t need to know. Seriously. Forget about it. Let’s just listen to the music, sports fans. “Maniac” is a track from their upcoming album, Hysterical, which the band will self-release next month. MP3 via Magnet Magazine.