Free and legal MP3: Matt Pond PA (absurdly catchy, FMac-ish indie pop)

Launched off a stomping drumbeat and a wiggle of a guitar lick, “Love To Get Used” is all sinew and punch, its brisk, no-nonsense verse building knowingly into a chorus nearly addictive in its catchiness.

Matt Pond PA

“Love To Get Used” – Matt Pond PA

Matt Pond PA isn’t going anywhere. Thankfully. Indie rock stalwarts who precede the MP3 age (just barely), the group has been through many iterations (Matt Pond himself is the only member remaining from the 1998 version), has recorded eight albums and, now, eight EPs. And I’m not sure they’ve ever sounded better than this. (Which is saying something; they had already been featured four times here, all for excellent songs.)

Launched off a stomping drumbeat and a wiggle of a guitar lick, “Love To Get Used” is all sinew and punch, its brisk, no-nonsense verse building knowingly into a chorus nearly addictive in its catchiness. Normally, I listen to these songs over and over as I’m getting to know them and beginning to write about them, but this one, yikes, someone’s gonna have to yank the plug on me. I think I’ve listened about 900 times by now; I’m such a sucker for melodies that repeat over a changing series of chords. The song has the churning, organic drive of something from a mid-’70s Fleetwood Mac album; 19-year-old Ariel Abshire even stops in to play Stevie Nicks to Pond’s Lindsey Buckingham. Not that Pond sounds anything like LB, mind you; he has in fact long had one of my favorite 21st-century rock’n’roll voices—at once warm and weathered, with an elusive range and a distinctive timbre. (I had more to say about this last time the band was featured, in January 2010.)

“Love To Get Used” is the lead track from the band’s just-released EP, Spring Fools, which you can buy either digitally or physically, via Altitude Records, which appears to be the band’s label although it doesn’t say so anywhere. MP3 via Spinner.

Free and legal MP3: Land of Talk (gorgeous & expansive, w/ FMac feel)

As gentle and brisk as a Fleetwood Mac hit from the ’70s, “Quarry Hymns” funnels Lizzie Powell’s dynamic energy into an unexpected container, and it works with almost goosebumpy potency.

Land of Talk

“Quarry Hymns” – Land of Talk

As gentle and brisk as a Fleetwood Mac hit from the ’70s, “Quarry Hymns” funnels Lizzie Powell’s dynamic energy into an unexpected container, and it works with almost goosebumpy potency. Powell’s slightly fuzzy voice serves her well in Christine McVie territory like this, and her guitar playing—often tough and slashy in the past—here becomes the picture of monumental restraint. Check out how she clears the way, at last, for a solo at 3:06 and then check out how few notes she plays, and how quietly, and with what graceful dissonance. I recommend listening to the guitar throughout, as Powell is relentlessly interesting, even with the volume turned way down.

While “Quarry Hymns” is on the long side—more than five and a half minutes, which can be dangerous for pop songs—the effect is expansive rather than lengthy. Give a lot of credit to the hook in the chorus, which is so strong and effortless that it carries the song along in a timeless, almost trance-like state.

The Montreal-based Land of Talk is an established Fingertips favorite, having been featured previously in ’07, ’08, and ’09. Each song is worth checking out. Powell is the singer, songwriter, and centerpiece; the band has shape-shifted around her, with each recording offering a different iteration. They appear currently to be a trio. “Quarry Hymns” is from the group’s second full-length album, Cloak and Cipher, due out next month on Saddle Creek. MP3 via Pitchfork.