Free and legal MP3: Eatliz (meaty prog-pop from Israel)

Alternately spacily contemplative and grindingly heavy (there are three guitarists at work; watch out!), “Sunshine” offers up some of prog-rock’s sonic vocabulary while avoiding veering off into anything too baroque.

Eatliz

“Sunshine” – Eatliz

Sometimes I’m just in the mood for something a bit less straightforward, a bit less three-chord-y. But I still want melody; I still want the sense of a band making an effort to engage the ear, versus a band so wrapped (and/or rapt) in its vision that all effort to connect is left to the audience.

At times spacily contemplative and at times grindingly heavy (there are three guitarists at work; watch out!), “Sunshine” offers up some of prog-rock’s sonic vocabulary while avoiding veering off into anything too baroque. Notice, for instance, that for all the rhythmic hijinks on display, the song never strays from its 4/4 beat. Front woman Lee Triffon, meanwhile, sings effectively both at the whispery and the shouty ends of her delivery, avoiding histrionics in both cases. Note the saxophone’s unexpected entrance at 2:04, because the song’s single instrumental spotlight will shine on that under-utilized instrument a minute and a half later, as we are then treated to 40 seconds of rough-toned, reverbed honking. It sounds like early Psychedelic Furs working up a Thelonious Monk tribute.

Eatliz is a six-piece band from Israel, formed in 2001. (In Hebrew, the name apparently means “the butcher shop.”) “Sunshine” is from the band’s debut album, Violently Delicate, which was released in Israel and four European countries in 2008. Their second full-length, Teasing Nature, either came out late in 2010 or is coming out this summer—the web (get used to it) offers contradictory information. The band is currently wrapping up its first-ever North American tour, which started last month at SXSW.

Free and legal MP3: Mew (streamlined “prog pop”)

“Repeaterbeater” – Mew

A Danish band that has referred to itself as making “pretentious art rock,” the good-natured members of Mew here offer a chewy morsel of something that might legitimately be called “prog pop.” With all the swirling, driving, off-balance magnitude of full-out prog rock, “Repeaterbeater” condenses its weighty, almost-pompous intro into seven seconds, then hits the ground running.

Over a pulsing but irregular beat, the verse divides its melody into syncopated spurts, carving up the time signature in the process. That’s an effective songwriting trick, to my ears: combining the illusion of a normal beat with a complex rhythm. The chorus is at once flowier but still oblique, with its guitar effects and a melody that’s smoother but still so resolutely off the beat that we have the impression of further adventures in time signature shifting. And yet the whole chorus is actually in 4/4 as far as I can tell. Another effective songwriting trick, the opposite of the last one: making a regular time signature sound offbeat. And then maybe the best trick of all is that “Repeaterbeater,” which wraps up in just two and a half minutes, catches the ear so emphatically and yet without the benefit of any sort of standard hook. It’s a mysterious thing.

“Repeaterbeater” is a song from the trio’s forthcoming album, the title of which is written as a poem: No More Stories/Are Told Today/I’m Sorry/They Washed Away/No More Stories/The World Is Grey/I’m Tired/Let’s Wash Away. It’s due out next month on Sony BMG. Before that, the song will also be featured on the five-song No More Stories EP at the end of this month. MP3 via Spinner.