Free and legal MP3: Fossa (a circular non-stop stream of a song)

As gentle as it is insistent, “Five Days” feels intriguingly like a song with neither a beginning nor an ending.

Fossa

“Five Days” – Fossa

As gentle as it is insistent, “Five Days” feels intriguingly like a song with neither a beginning nor an ending. We are enveloped in a warm, tick-tock groove before we quite get our bearings, and when the words start they tumble out in an unflagging stream, leaving singer Louis Shadwick with few obvious places to breathe. The concept of a verse or a chorus is quickly irrelevant here, as the words pour into a circular, sing-songy pattern that manages to seem on the one hand almost spoken and amelodic and on the other hand a fully engaging melody. This is a really unusual and captivating song masquerading as no big deal.

And while there can be few young British rock bands, whichever still exist at this point, that aren’t (rightfully) influenced (and/or intimidated) by the large shadow cast ahead of them by Radiohead, Fossa strikes me as wearing the influence as lightly and creatively as just about any I’ve heard. The band’s blending of acoustic and electric is managed so that you barely notice they’ve plugged anything in at all—at least until an honest-to-goodness electric guitar shows up at the two-minute mark and just about steals the show with its lovely, meticulous line. Although the meandering but purposeful chord progression that precedes the guitar (starting at 1:32) is pretty great too, as is the guitar again, later, when it turns clangy and anarchic.

Fossa is a London-based quartet. “Five Days” is the lead track off their debut release, a four-song EP entitled Sea of Skies. You can listen to it and buy it at Bandcamp.

Free and legal MP3: The Robots (gripping, driving 21st-century rock)

“I Didn’t Know What I Was Saying,” from the Prince Edward Island quartet the Robots, performs the unusual 21st-century trick of sounding influenced by Radiohead without sounding slavishly hypnotized. I don’t think we’ve heard enough of this sort of thing, actually—bands recognizing Radiohead’s seminal power while spinning the vibe into something very much their own.

Hey Buddy Dummy

“I Didn’t Know What I Was Saying” – the Robots

With the year-end easing off of new releases comes the intermittent Fingertips tradition of revisiting my folder of songs that were seriously considered for review earlier in the year, to see what I might have unaccountably overlooked—heard at the time but didn’t really hear. There are always one or two goodies in there that are well worth (re)discovery.

For instance: “I Didn’t Know What I Was Saying,” from the Prince Edward Island quartet the Robots, which performs the unusual 21st-century trick of sounding influenced by Radiohead without sounding slavishly hypnotized. I don’t think we’ve heard enough of this sort of thing, actually—bands recognizing Radiohead’s seminal power while spinning the vibe into something different and worthy. Bands did this with the Beatles all the time (and still do). Not everyone gets to invent the wheel; we need folks who can work on the chassis and the engine as well. Here, the Robots take Kid A-ish intensity but reapply guitars: searing and itchy lead lines, dark and jumpy rhythm lines, rumbly background washes. Actual keyboards—not just synthesizers—enter the fray as well. The song’s disciplined vehemence is epitomized by its very structure, which places the semi-undiscernible verses all together in the first two-thirds of the song, followed by a chorus section of marvelous power; there, front man Peter Rankin lets a bit of his inner Thom Yorke out of the bag, while the churning background swells with an almost orchestral grandeur. As for that last 40 seconds, with its foghorn guitar and thrummy white noise, not sure if it’s necessary but it’s actually pretty interesting.

The Robots come from Charlottetown and released their debut full-length, Hey Buddy, Dummy, back in April on Halifax-based Night Danger Records.