Category Archives: FREE MP3s

MP3 At 3PM: David Strange

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David Strange (who is, indeed, strange) started as a session musician and is likely most famous for being a former guitarist in Courtney Love’s band. As he wrote music privately, he was heard and picked up by his current producer, Charlotte Kemp Muhl (the Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger) and now readies for the release of his self-titled EP, out January 20. First single “Vitamin Pills” has some primal elements, but they’re mixed with smooth vocals and laid-back electronics to make for a completely unique song. Download the track below.

“Vitamin Pills” (download):

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MP3 At 3PM: The March Divide

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The emo music revival is real, and the March Divide is on the front lines. After releasing critically acclaimed 2014 album Billions, these San Antonians have made a real name for themselves in the music world. Now they offer rocking track “Given Out” for free download. It’s reminiscent of older emo bands in many ways, but you can definitely tell where the modern parts of new music sneak their way in. Download the song below.

“Given Out” (download):

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MP3 At 3PM: Devin Sinha

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Seattle singer/songwriter Devin Sinha, originally from the Midwest, taught himself to play music in high school by dabbling on piano and eventually teaching himself guitar. He recently released his sophomore LP, The Seventh Season. Album track “Lone Elm Road” rocks hard with upbeat country twang and fluid vocals that could turn your heart to mush. We are proud to premiere the song today on magnetmagazine.com. Download it below.

“Lone Elm Road” (download):

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The Sharp Things: Storehouse Of Treasure

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The Sharp Things honor the talent of a dear friend and founding member

Drummer Steven Gonzalez loved Rush. And that Sugar album, Copper Blue. He also dug AC/DC, Green Day, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Led Zeppelin and Three Dog Night. In short, Gonzalez’s personal tastes were, like those of a lot of intensely talented musicians, all over the map. And it was that eclectic curiosity that drew Gonzalez and Perry Serpa together when they were—to cop a line from Patti Smith—just kids, living and listening and bopping around NYC.

In the beginning, Serpa and Gonzalez were the Sharp Things. (The band’s PR material lists each player’s “member since” join date; Serpa’s and Gonzalez’s are their birth years.) The duo’s first demo recordings, cut during a trip to Pennsylvania in 1995 as a kind of experiment in crafting artfully arranged indie-pop, came off so promisingly that the bogus band name they’d concocted for that project stuck. Within a couple of years, the Sharp Things had coalesced into a full band, gigging around the East Village.

Since 2002, the Sharp Things have been releasing a series of albums mostly on the loose chamber-pop model, but accented by forays into other styles, making the band’s output a treasure trove for listeners whose tastes run to thoughtful composition and big-sound acoustics.

When Serpa found himself in the middle of a songwriting blitz around 2009, during which he composed close to 40 songs, he decided to hustle the music onto tape without worrying too much about how it would eventually see release. Serpa recorded those tracks with the rotating roster of members the Sharp Things had come to enjoy throughout its decade-long history. A loose album series titled The Dogs Of Bushwick, drawn from those sessions, began to see release in 2013 on two records, Green Is Good and The Truth Is Like The Sun. Now comes the third, Adventurer’s Inn, its title taken from a bygone amusement park Serpa and Gonzalez used to frequent as kids in their shared hometown of Flushing.

“It’s a short, sharp part of a very self-indulgent whole,” says Serpa. “Almost a mini-LP, really good for those with attention-deficit disorder. We bounce around genres a lot, and on this record, we found ourselves pushing the sides out a lot further.”

True enough. In fact, Adventurer’s Inn may be the shortest release in the series to date, but it’s the most freewheeling, aesthetically. “The Libertine” is a punchy, punkish workout, complete with distorted vocals; “All But These Beautiful Faces” mines a Summer Of Love-era Beatles vein; and the irresistible “Don’t Trust That Girl” is a flatly gorgeous Burt Bacharach-style swooner. Song by song, diverse as the collection is, each song is a standalone knockout. It’s a record for listeners who, like Serpa and Gonzalez, grew up loving all kinds of music shamelessly and indiscriminately.

Adventurer’s Inn is also an understandably bittersweet listen for the Sharp Things these days: Gonzalez passed away this year on September 11, after a lifetime battling the effects of cystic fibrosis. Gonzalez’s drumming anchors Adventurer’s Inn, as it will be the final installment in the series, due next year.

“Steve was my best friend and brother for 40 years,” says Serpa. “We grew up together. I remember him carrying all 18 pieces of his drum kit into my mother’s living room when we were 14, 15 years old. We actually played some shows as a duo before anyone else joined the Sharp Things.”

The band, as Serpa remembers it now, actually grew as a reaction to both of them sensing that they wanted to expand their scope as neophyte musicians. “That was certainly true for me, as a songwriter,” he says. “And Steve totally understood me as a songwriter. He just completely got me, all the time. It’s hard to lose him, first and foremost as a friend, but also as part of the heart and soul of this band.”

That soul is the most evident element on Adventurer’s Inn, the consistent element that binds its assorted songs. And as with the best soul, the sadness is laced with necessary humor. The final installment in the Bushwick series, Serpa hints cheekily, will be “a classic sort of Abbey Road side-two mash-up, with a big orchestral finish. Maybe with a ‘Revolution 9’ sound collage in there somewhere.”

—Eric Waggoner

“Union Chapel” (download):

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Normal History Vol. 296: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 30-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Mecca Normal Tour Diary
NYC, Sept. 26, 2014

Walking along Bleecker Street after John’s Pizza (where I asked for the same booth we sat in back in 1984), we stopped at Starbuck’s to replenish the coffee supply for the stovetop espresso pot I’m using on a hotplate at the motel. I was informed that they don’t sell half pounds. Idiots. We continued along Bleecker until we both slowed at a storefront of some intrigue. What caught my eye were the burlap bags in the window into which a guy was plunging a metal scoop and extracting something that was then put onto an old-fashioned scale. Porto Rico Importing Co., established in 1907. It was a coffee bean store! Inside, coffee in burlap sacks dominated the floor space. I asked the guy for a half pound of the darkest decaf and then a half pound of Sumatra for Dave—both ground for espresso. And now, today, outside Boston, we’re enjoying coffee with Boston cream donuts from the Dunkin’ Donuts next door to the Motel 6 where they stuck us on the third floor directly below the construction they are doing on the roof. With four hours sleep, we’ll drive to the Providence Motel 6 where we’ll sleep some more before a lobster dinner and then before the show in Providence! Tonight, it’s the Thalia Zedek Band and 75 Dollar Bill.

Great to see Thalia Zedek with her new project E last night. Haven’t seen her since we did the Suffragette Sessions tour together with the Indigo Girls in 1998 when her band Come released Gently, Down The Stream on Matador Records the year after Mecca Normal released its final album on the same label.

“Will He Change?” from Calico Kills The Cat (K, 1989; Matador, 1991; Smarten Up!, 2003) (download):

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MP3 At 3PM: PEPPER

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Southern California band PEPPER recently kicked off a national headline tour and is celebrating by releasing a new, upbeat song called “Every Little Thing.” The track, featuring New Beat Fund, has a joyful feel with the smoothness of reggae to back it up. The verses are relaxed and the lyrics are hopeful and elated. Download it below.

“Every Little Thing” (download):

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MP3 At 3PM: The Safes

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Chicago power trio the Safes, who pump out some of the best garage rock the music world has seen in a hot minute, recently released new album Record Heat. Latest single “Hopes Up, Guard Down” is now available for free download. The track is fun and crazy, constantly spinning and whirling in a frenzy of psychedelic garage pop. Download it below.

“Hopes Up, Guard Down” (download):

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MP3 At 3PM: Matthew Squires And The Learning Disorders

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Austin-based group Matthew Squires And The Learning Disorders go through ever-changing lineups based around the songwriting of Matthew Squires. The band readies for the release of new album Where The Music Goes To Die and offers lead single “Echo” for free download. The song is soft-rock gold with a bit of a reggae feel. It’s calm and relaxing but still has its intense moments. Download it below.

“Echo” (download):

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MP3 At 3PM: Moonbabies

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After a seven-year hiatus, Swedish duo Moonbabies are finally getting the attention they deserve. They plan to release an double-single EP titled “Chorus/Raindrops” and now offer “Chorus” for free download. The music is soft and light and sounds similar to an experimental Fleetwood Mac. Download the track below.

“Chorus” (download):

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MP3 At 3PM: Sugar Candy Mountain

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Sugar Candy Mountain, a tasty psychedelic rock duo out of San Francisco, ready for the release of its first big-time album, Mystic Hits, out December 16. Sugar Candy Mountain started as a recording project of singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Will Halsey, who added singer/songwriter Ash Reiter. “Soak Up The City,” an acid-bathed track full of fun pop hooks, shows what Sugar Candy Mountain is all about.

“Soak Up The City” (download):

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