Free and legal MP3: Blue Horns (thorny guitars, yelpy vocals)

“Shotgun Wedding” – Blue Horns

With its thorny guitars and yelpy vocals, “Shotgun Wedding” brings the early work of the late great New Zealand band Split Enz rather immediately to mind, but that’s only because I’m old and remember them. It’s probably an accident. (They didn’t really do the thorny guitar thing, anyway. Thorny keyboards, thorny strings, maybe. Yelpy vocals, definitely.) Perhaps less of an accident is the way the band’s clearly voiced dual guitar sound recalls another ’70s band, Television, although this is jumpier and poppier than what Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd were doing. These guys are like Television’s kid brother, just wanting to have a bit of actual fun. (Television was cool and great but not much fun.)

“Shotgun Wedding”‘s charm, to me, has to do with its commanding spirit of loose tightness (or is it tight looseness?)–an aural sense and sensibility that characterizes a lot of great rock’n’roll through the years. You want it to sound spontaneous and alive, but you also want everything just so. There’s nothing muddy or muddled here; the two guitars play cleverly together, and you can always hear what each one is doing if you stop to listen. The song rollicks to a spiky, shuffly beat, singer Brian Park (he also plays one of the guitars) unleashes his warbly falsetto with exquisite precision (check out the note he hits at 0:52, which pretty much sold me on the song), the guitars take a break from their prickly, tick-tock dueting to give us a little “Heat Wave”-y swing (1:19), and the whole thing wraps in 2:40.

Blue Horns is a quartet from Portland, Oregon. “Shotgun Wedding” is the lead track on the band’s self-titled debut album, which was self-released at the end of last year.