Free and legal MP3: Cub Scouts (breezy, but w/ melancholy core)

Breezy, but with a melancholy core.

Cub Scouts

“Do You Hear” – Cub Scouts

A breezy song with a melancholy core. Tempo-wise, it’s a finger-snapper but listen attentively and you’ll hear a song that again and again resists resolution, both melodically and harmonically. The expectant vibe with which it launches never quite disappears. That’s what makes it feel kind of lost and lonely, independent of the lyrics (which sound lost and lonely too, though, as much as I can grasp them).

So what’s going on is that the song is rooted in a chord that is not the song’s tonic chord. The tonic chord is, typically, the home base of a song, the chord based on the song’s key (i.e., if a song is written in D major, the D major chord is the tonic chord). We don’t need to hear this chord all the time but it’s usually there to ground us. “Do You Hear” opens up on one chord, stays with it for nearly half a minute, and it’s not the tonic. This would feel pretty edgy except for the bouncy demeanor. And it is this juxtaposition that gives the song its depth and allure, as far as I can tell. In the chorus, by the way, we get a kind of opposite effect, as the melody stays focused mostly on one note as the chords shuffle through a progression that finally resolves—briefly—when the melody drops through to the tonic note (heard the first time at 0:53, on the third iteration of “things you’ve done”). But listen to how quickly we are kicked away from that moment, emphasized by a guitar riff yet again away from the tonic chord. Even the song’s final chord (3:02) keeps the resolution at bay, a not-often-heard effect.

A quintet from Brisbane, Cub Scouts is a new band with two singles so far to their name. “Do You Hear” will appear on a forthcoming EP.

Free and legal MP3:Your 33 Black Angels (concise, likable, hard-edged pop)

“New Song” – Your 33 Black Angels

Concise and good-natured while also flashing a bit of hard-edged sloppiness that makes it all the more likable. “New Song” is not only so concise it can’t be bothered with a title, it’s so concise that it pretty much uses the same central melody in both the verse and the chorus. It works musically because…well, who knows, actually. These things remain mysterious. No doubt it has something to do with how the rhythm speeds up in the chorus, and also—not to be underestimated—the rumbly, lower-register harmonies brought to singer Benji Kast’s slightly roughed-up tenor. But maybe the real trick is the fact that the melody remains unresolved in the verse. The verse kind of climaxes on the word “try” (listen at 0:19 or 0:32, for example), and that note, my friends, is unresolved. And it says right there in The Idiot Guide’s to Music Theory that “you don’t want to end your melody with unresolved tension.” (I kid you not; Google it.)

Well, you may not want to end the melody that way for good, but it’s pretty great when it sounds like you are ending it unresolved and then you wait all the way until the end of the chorus (which starts with the same melody) to arrive at resolution. I am fairly certain that the five guys in Your 33 Black Angels have not read The Idiot Guide’s to Music Theory.

“New Song” comes from the Brooklyn-based band’s self-released second CD, Tales of My Pop-Rock Love Life, which is due out next week.