Free and legal MP3: Kinch (swings with verve & power)

At once jaunty and powerful, loose-limbed and anthemic, “Once, I Was a Mainsail” holds many charms within its concise, pop-perfect 3:46 time frame.


“Once, I Was a Mainsail” – Kinch

At once jaunty and powerful, loose-limbed and anthemic, “Once, I Was a Mainsail” holds many charms within its concise, pop-perfect 3:46 time frame. Right away, there’s the brief but ear-catching introduction, which establishes the song’s swaying 2/4 swing with some crafty interval jumps, as the guitar lopes from the first to the fourth to the sixth, via those slurred half-steps. It’s an attention-grabbing way to lead back into the first again, albeit an octave higher. The song is five seconds old at this point.

Then there’s swing itself, which after the guitar-based intro is articulated only by bass and drum in the first verse, the bass playing with the same intervals as the introduction, but with the sixth below rather than above the tonic. Establishing the melody only against the rhythm section serves to focus us on the imaginative lyrics, introducing the titular metaphor, with this lyrical payoff, sung as the rhythm abruptly breaks down: “You were the only thing that I would tie myself to.” And then, just when you might begin to wonder where exactly this is swinging us to, the band, literally, breaks into song: those gang vocals at 0:48 nailed this one for me, they were just too unexpected and perfect. (For those keeping score at home, this part yet again ends on that original sixth note that haunts and anchors the entire song.)

A quartet when previously featured here in March 2009, Kinch is now a five-man band, still based in Phoenix, still with that James Joyce-inspired name of theirs. “Once, I Was a Mainsail” is a new single, also available via the band’s web site. The song will eventually appear on the band’s next album, The Incandenza—and if the band’s Ulysses-based name isn’t enough, this next album is named after the family in Infinite Jest. It’s hard not to be fond of a band that is repeatedly inspired by long, impenetrable books.

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.