Steal This Song: Matt Lowell, “Swan Lake”

Best bass line since “Once in a Lifetime”?

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Big words, to be sure, but hot damn, listen to the title track from Matt Lowell’s Swan Lake EP. It’s four notes, the same four notes, carried across several different chords, but in an interesting twist, the song is largely bass-free, with those four notes hitting at an unlikely spot. Musically, it travels this strange land between Joseph Arthur and Guided by Voices, but doesn’t really sound like either. Give it a listen, and see if you’re as enthralled as we are.

Click here to download Matt Lowell – Swan Lake

  

Steal This Song: Five O’Clock Heroes, “City of Lights”

We’d just like to clear up something, if you don’t mind. Despite the fact that this column is called “Steal This Song,” rest assured that everything we post comes with the band’s permission. The title of the column is a reference to an Abbie Hoffman book from 1971, something that we’re guessing was lost on the nasty commenter who thought we were stealing from some poor little indie band. No one is actually stealing anything, all right? Now let’s move on.

A surefire way to get us to delete a press release is to use the word ‘gypsy.’ (Double negative score if the word ‘psych’ is used in conjunction with ‘gypsy.’) On the other hand, a surefire way to get us to beg for more is to compare your band to Elvis Costello, the Jam and the Police, and it’s a triple word score if you compare one band to all three.

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It’s clear from the onset that the Five O’Clock Heroes are fans of the Jam, as their name comes from one of their song titles, but is the Jam an apt comparison? To be honest, not really. This is not to say that the band’s album Different Times isn’t good – just that it doesn’t really sound like the Jam. There is a strong Anglo-pop vibe to it, to be sure, and it’s reminiscent of the time in which the Jam were active (and most popular), but a better comparison might be a UK power pop artist like Bram Tchaikovsky or the Members. Now, that is a trend we wouldn’t mind seeing catch on.

Click here to download Five O’Clock Heroes – City of Lights

Click to buy Different Times from Amazon

  

Steal This Song: Atomic Tom, “Don’t You Want Me”

It’s been admittedly quiet on the ESD front, and we’re sorry about that. Other projects got in the way, shame on us. But hopefully this cover of an ’80s smash will make things right.

Yep, it’s that “Don’t You Want Me,” from the forthcoming comedy “Take Me Home Tonight,” starring Topher Grace, Anna Faris and Dan Fogler. If Grace seems a little old to be playing a 20-something kid in the late ’80s, well, you’re right. (He turns 33 this year.) But keep in mind that this movie was shot four years ago, but has been repeatedly delayed because the studio didn’t know how to promote a comedy involving coke use. Funny, that wasn’t a problem in the ’80s. Hell, look at “Bachelor Party.”

As for the cover, it’s actually pretty faithful. It’s a rock version of the song, but they didn’t tear it apart at the seams, either. And man, oh man, is the video great. The band plays the tune while Grace, Faris, Fogler, the lovely Teresa Palmer and Demitri Martin act out iconic scenes from ’80s movies. Bonus points to Faris for the “Norma Rae” reference.

Click here to download Atomic Tom – Don’t You Want Me

  

Steal This Song: Little Tybee, “Nero”

There are few slopes that are as slippery as music that could fairly be described as precious. A wrong move in any direction, and that ‘c’ becomes a ‘tent’, if you know what we mean. It was therefore with great trepidation that we clicked Play on the song from Little Tybee, a group of Georgians whose press release was quick to mention Fleet Foxes. And don’t get us wrong, we like Fleet Foxes…but do we need a dozen of them?

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As it turns out, “Nero,” the first song from the band’s upcoming album Humorous to Bees, is probably being done a disservice by being compared to anyone, but you know how press releases work – they need to mention a couple of successful bands to give the reader a reference point (and truthfully, that’s exactly how we like it). If anything, the song reminds us of a less amped version of the Noisettes’ song “Wild Young Hearts,” perhaps refitted for play in a jazz club. Trade out drum sticks for brushes, throw in some fiddle, and groove, man. Good stuff. The record drops in April. Hopefully this will tide you over until then.

Click here to download Little Tybee’s “Nero”

  

Steal This Song: U.S. Royalty, “Monte Carlo”

Holy west coast pop, Batman. Now this is a sound that we wouldn’t mind seeing catch on and infiltrate the mainstream…again.

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We’re on our first spin through Mirrors, the debut album U.S. Royalty, a band who is about as far removed as one can get from the west coast while still being in the States (they’re from Washington DC), and it has a vibe to it that is instantly familiar without sounding derivative. Big, soaring vocals with some nicely stacked harmonies, along with the occasional foray into feedback, these guys are definitely a band to watch. Fans of Fleetwood Mac are going to jump all over “Monte Carlo.” It’s like “Dreams” as a driving song. Get it now, so you can say you were there first.

Click here to download U.S. Royalty – Monte Carlo

  

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