Free and legal MP3: Division of Laura Lee (noisy, melodic, & urgent, w/ guitars)

Noisy, melodic rock’n’roll that buzzes at a higher degree of accomplishment than most of what seems to catch the internet’s ear.

Division of Laura Lee

“Rudderless” – Division of Laura Lee

Noisy, melodic rock’n’roll that buzzes at a higher degree of accomplishment than most of what seems to catch the internet’s ear. I love this song’s immediate and fervent one-two-ness, and how in particular the half-time “one-two” of that siren-y guitar lick in the introduction manages simultaneously to distract from and reinforce the faster one-two beat the song itself clocks to. All in all this opening 35 or so seconds of disciplined instrumental mayhem feels like rock’n’roll at its 21st-century best.

And with the singing, if anything, it only gets better—first of all because the melody is so urgent (all downward motion, or so it seems), second of all because the vocals are so convincing (featuring octave harmonies so subtle and hummy the ear feels them more than hears them), and lastly because underneath the singing the guitars are just about going crazy. No attempt at description will do it justice, just give a listen. “Rudderless” plows through the unsuspecting air with a kind of fevered self-restraint that feels at once hypnotic and cathartic. And don’t miss that moment almost exactly in the middle (1:56) when, for once, the melody’s relentless descent is contravened by one upward-turning phrase (coming at the end of the portentous line “And there’s no one to blame/But me and you”). Even as nothing stops or even slows down, it feels briefly like we’ve arrived at the eye of the storm. I like also what this song does in place of a bridge: two-thirds of the way through (2:28), the guitar seems to discover a new, slower, somewhat more optimistic-sounding melody, and hammers on that for 25 seconds, in way that turns rather Clash-like somehow, before returning us to our regularly scheduled program.

Division of Laura Lee is a band based in Gothenburg, Sweden that formed in 1997. “Rudderless” is the latest single from the band’s fourth full-length album, Tree, which was released back in April on the band’s own Oh, Really!? label. You can listen to it in full via Bandcamp, and buy it there as well.

Free and legal MP3: Elim Bolt (droney guitars, indelible chorus)

There is something so cumulatively affecting about “Farm Kid” that it manages to seem a little short even while clocking in at over four and a half minutes. That’s usually the length at which songs begin to seem a little long.

Elim Bolt

“Farm Kid” – Elim Bolt

With something of the big ringing clamor of Arcade Fire, “Farm Kid” rocks to a swinging backbeat, adorned with delectably droney guitars. The verse is understated and blurry; we register the beat, bask in the guitar work, and don’t understand a word. And this is how we are led, perhaps against expectations, into a brilliant, indelible chorus. Too catchy for its own good, this chorus messes further with our heads by offering up the song’s only intelligible lyric, which is almost too straightforward for its own good, if it weren’t also so piteous:

And all I wanna do is truly love you
But all I seem to do is deeply hurt you

Otherwise buried in elusive aural mud, front man Johnnie Matthews emerges with these words as a full-fledged crooner, and everything about the song all of a sudden—the melody (half sing-along, half slippery), the lyrics, the delivery—grabs at the soul. The guitar that rejoins us next, first heard in the introduction, has acquired a majestic, pealing air, all the more effective for the nearly-audible distortion it seems to be keeping constantly at bay. (Some of it will break loose during the solo, at 2:49.) There is something so cumulatively affecting about “Farm Kid” that it manages to seem almost still a little short even while clocking in at over four and a half minutes. That’s usually the length at which songs begin to seem a little long.

You’ll find the song on the band’s debut album, entitled Nude South, which is scheduled for release next month on Hearts and Plugs Records.