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Free MP3: LeVar Thomas’ “Missing You”

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When I introduced LeVar Thomas a few weeks ago, I compared this South Carolina singer’s music to the Chi-Lites and Boyz II Men. For his encore, LeVar’s feeling his inner Stevie Wonder.

It’s the opening notes — the two-part harmony over a simple Fender Rhodes chord progression — that makes me think of Stevie when I listen to “Missing You.”

The harmonies become more complex, the string parts begin to weave in and out and we’re feeling all full of Philly soul, like Gamble and Huff are back at the desk working their magic.

Along with my girl Ayah and Boyz II Men kick we dropped yesterday, I’m putting together a little “midnight magic” mix tape. All I need is a little wine, a medium size fire and a big desire for a little one-on-one time.

Originally written for MP3.com.

Buy LeVar Thomas’ music on iTunes.

Levar Thomas – Missing You

Suede - It Starts And Ends With You

Free MP3: Suede’s “Barriers”

It’s been over ten years since Suede has put out a record. The drought ends March 19 when they release Bloodsports.

Sounds like we’re headed back to the 90′s with this one. Look at the video for “It Starts And Ends With You,” download the new single, “Barriers,” and pre-order from Amazon.

Suede – Barriers (From Bloodsport, Out March 19)

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Ivy

Free MP3: Ivy’s “You Make It So Hard”

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Launched in New York City in 1994, Ivy blend the melodicism of Burt Bacharach, the stylish simplicity of the Smiths and sexiness of Francoise Hardy into an infectious pop blend that’s as cool as a strawberry smoothie and as fun as a day at the water park.

The seeds of Ivy were planted in 1990 when Andy Chase met Dominque Durand at a party in New York. Saying that being in a band “wasn’t her cup of tea,” Durand said “no” to Chase’s invitation to join him for a demo session. Three years later, the pair wrote a tune together and, with the help and encouragement of bassist Adam Schlesinger, stepped into the studio to record a five song demo. So marked the official beginning of the trio known as Ivy.

With the release of their EP called Lately and its subsquent album, Realistic, the three Ivy’s found themselves almost immediately in the pop spotlight. Opening slots with OasisEdwyn Collins andYo La Tengo gave the band momentum and, by 1997, they released Apartment Life, their second long player.

Seventeen years later, Ivy have put out five full length albums and and five more EPs, including this year’s All Hours. It’s an 11-song collection of songs that includes today’s Free MP3 of the Day, “You Make It So Hard.”

“Hard” is the last word tha comes to mind when we listen to this bouncy, bubbly spray of pop and roll. If chocolate could sing, it would sound like Dominique Durand. If a piano could make a request for itself, it would ask to play the sneaky-cool lick from this song. If summer time could dance, it would request this song.

Ivy – “You Make It So Hard”

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Free MP3: Junkie XL’s “Molly-E”

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For today’s Free MP3 of the Day, I drop on your drive a new instrumental mix of the single “Molly’s E” from Junkie XL.

Junkie XL is the Dutch-born musician, remixer and producer Tom Holkenborg who busted onto the scene more than ten years ago with his debut solo set, Saturday Teenage Kick.

Along four additional solo collections, including a 2003 set that included guest collabs withDepeche Mode‘s Dave Gahan, the Cure‘s Robert Smith and Public Enemy‘s Chuck D., XL has also kicked remixes for ColdplayBloc Party and Justin Timberlake.

For this piece, taken from a four-song EP, Holkenborg turns over the controls to Toronto-based remixers Azari & III, recent purveyors of their own long-player Into The Night. From the opening beats, which are straight-up old school disco dance, A & III begin with a layer of hypnotic bass and slather the synths on the top and sides of sound culminating in a dizzying space-out at the very end.

Along with this mix, the Molly’s E EP (out on Nettwerk) includes an Azari vocal remix as well as a remix by French producer Canblaster.

Buy his stuff on iTunes

Junkie Xl – Molly E

LeVar Thomas

Free MP3: LeVar Thomas’ “Lovin’ Alone”

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“Surrounded by a family with a great love for life and music, it must have been the destiny of South Carolina raised LeVar Thomas to become a singer and songwriter.” So opens the biography of this talented singer and songwriter.

“As a child LeVar spent his afternoons at his grandparents house,” his story continues. “He would hear his uncles blaring hip-hop in one room, his grandmother listening to gospel records in another room and his grandfather singing while tending his garden. While at home he grabbed every record his mother and father had around and listened intently to each one of them.”

It’s the variety of influences LeVar drops into his cut “Lovin’ Alone” that impresses us. We hear the 60s gospel-flavored of Aretha in his voice, we love hearing the harmonies of the great 70s standup soul groups like the Chi-Lites and the electro-pop beats of 80s-era Hall & Oates all wrapped around lyrics that could’ve been nestled into a Boyz II Men jam.

Take a minute to read the full biography of Levar Thomas, dig his free download and make sure to support this good man’s music.

Originally written for MP3.com

Buy LeVar Thomas’ music on iTunes

Levar Thomas – Lovin’ Alone