Free and legal MP3: The Arthur Brothers

Mid-’60s vibe

“Sun Gun” – The Arthur Brothers

Arriving in 2020 straight from 1965 or so, “Sun Gun” pays nifty homage to a variety of classic British rockers from an era when sturdy melodies poured out of rock bands like sunshine in August, tinged by an awareness of the psychedelia on the near horizon. The Zombies, the Kinks, early Pink Floyd, they’re all in here, in the jangly guitars, the sweet spacey sing-along chorus, the swell of background harmonies, and the general sense that tea was involved along the way. If you’re not careful you’ll notice a soupçon of young-ish David Bowie in the air, or maybe Marc Bolan, and in any case the Arthurs make a nice case for grounding the entirety of glam rock, by all accounts arising in the early ’70s, in those earlier mid-’60s sounds.

The trick in all this is not to sound like a tribute band, and although it’s hard to point to any one thing they’re doing that shifts things into the 21st century, I am nevertheless getting a strong whiff of present-day creativity here. At which point I should note that the original version of this song on the album is more than nine minutes long, during which it definitely becomes its own sort of trip. (Here’s a link to the full version if you’re curious and have some extra time on your hands.) Personally I didn’t think the song quite justified its length; and yet, oddly, now that I’ve been living with the shorter version, I do have a sense that it could be longer. (Some people are never satisfied it seems.)

In any case, what really sells me on “Sun Gun,” in either length, is the brilliance of the classic-sounding chorus, which gathers an impressive amount of heft as the song progresses. This is partially due to restraint—we only hear the chorus three times in this edited version. The verse melody is different but with a similar rhythm and feel so it works to reinforce and familiarize the ear while at the same time allowing the chorus when it pops in to feel extra memorable.

The Arthur Brothers self-identify as an “artistic alliance” grounded in the work of brothers Matt and Danny Arthur and songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist J.C. Wright. They are based in London. “Sun Gun” is the final track on their debut album, Nine, which was released last month. You can listen to the album and buy it via Bandcamp.

Free and legal MP3: Slideshow Freak (glam-ish bedroom rock)

“Something More” – Slideshow Freak

This song, on the other hand, had me at hello, pretty much. A simple arpeggio, some electro-tinkling, some smooth keyboard vamping, then, boom–“Something More” begins right in its sweet spot, with its full-out, neo-glam-rock chorus. Somehow that’s really all it needs. Yes, there are verses in between and surely they kind of have to be there–a song can’t be all chorus, can it?–but you’ll be hard-pressed afterwards to remember exactly what they sounded like. I’m thinking you’ll be equally hard-pressed to dislodge the chorus from your head, not least for the way its swinging, backbeat-driven melody offers up pronouncements as big and dauntless as its sound: “It takes a better man than me/To save a broken heart”; “I spend my life on my back/But never see the stars”; et al.

Slideshow Freak is another one of those “not a band, just a guy” acts made possible by 21st-century technology, musical know-how, and a lot of time on one’s hands. The guy this time is one Jamie Wright, who was born and raised in the UK but appears to be living in Florida now. “Something More” is the lead track to the debut Slideshow Freak EP, We Should Swing, which was released in July on Filthy Little Angels Records. Thanks to the typically excellent Low Slung Podcast for the head’s up. MP3 via Filthy Little Angels. Note that you can download all six songs from the EP on the FLA site.