Free and legal MP3: Okkervil River (insistent rocker w/ dream-scrambled vibe)

Purposefully bashy and crashy, “Wake and Be Fine” offers an insistent tumble of lyrics in the verse, offset by the comparatively soothing waltz of the chorus, wherein front man Will Sheff assures himself, and us, that we’ll “wake and be fine.”

Okkervil River

“Wake and Be Fine” – Okkervil River

Purposefully bashy and crashy, “Wake and Be Fine” offers an insistent tumble of lyrics in the verse, offset by the comparatively soothing waltz of the chorus, wherein front man Will Sheff assures himself, and us, that we’ll “wake and be fine.” The music itself reinforces the song’s theme and intention: the verses assaulting us with off-kilter semi-confusion, the chorus finding smoother footing, tapping into the consoling quality of the song’s partially disguised 3/4 time signature.

Normally uninterested in music videos, I will make an exception here and point you in the direction of the song’s visual presentation, below. It’s a stark yet dreamy black-and-white affair, with the lyrics, propaganda-like, commanding the viewer’s attention while the band, blurred and multiplied, plays in and around the words. Stay with it and you’ll see that the visual words begin to diverge from the sung words, which ingeniously enhances the song’s dream-scrambled chaos. Also interesting to note is that Sheff had the band play this song together, over and over, in a small recording space, waiting for a take in which no one made any mistakes at all, however slight. It took from 3 pm to 1 am, and I think knowing the determination and, even, slight desperation that informs the playing here adds to the vaguely surreal ambiance of the whole thing.

“Wake and Be Fine” is a song from Okkervil River’s new album, I Am Very Far, which due out next week on Jagjaguwar Records. This is the Austin-based band’s sixth album, and 13th year together. They have previously been featured on Fingertips in 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2008. MP3 via Jagjaguwar.

Free and legal MP3: Matt Pond PA (absurdly catchy, FMac-ish indie pop)

Launched off a stomping drumbeat and a wiggle of a guitar lick, “Love To Get Used” is all sinew and punch, its brisk, no-nonsense verse building knowingly into a chorus nearly addictive in its catchiness.

Matt Pond PA

“Love To Get Used” – Matt Pond PA

Matt Pond PA isn’t going anywhere. Thankfully. Indie rock stalwarts who precede the MP3 age (just barely), the group has been through many iterations (Matt Pond himself is the only member remaining from the 1998 version), has recorded eight albums and, now, eight EPs. And I’m not sure they’ve ever sounded better than this. (Which is saying something; they had already been featured four times here, all for excellent songs.)

Launched off a stomping drumbeat and a wiggle of a guitar lick, “Love To Get Used” is all sinew and punch, its brisk, no-nonsense verse building knowingly into a chorus nearly addictive in its catchiness. Normally, I listen to these songs over and over as I’m getting to know them and beginning to write about them, but this one, yikes, someone’s gonna have to yank the plug on me. I think I’ve listened about 900 times by now; I’m such a sucker for melodies that repeat over a changing series of chords. The song has the churning, organic drive of something from a mid-’70s Fleetwood Mac album; 19-year-old Ariel Abshire even stops in to play Stevie Nicks to Pond’s Lindsey Buckingham. Not that Pond sounds anything like LB, mind you; he has in fact long had one of my favorite 21st-century rock’n’roll voices—at once warm and weathered, with an elusive range and a distinctive timbre. (I had more to say about this last time the band was featured, in January 2010.)

“Love To Get Used” is the lead track from the band’s just-released EP, Spring Fools, which you can buy either digitally or physically, via Altitude Records, which appears to be the band’s label although it doesn’t say so anywhere. MP3 via Spinner.