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”

LeVar Thomas

“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

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Free MP3: Hurricane Chaser’s “Barricades”

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A highly acclaimed group from the Pacific Northwest, Hurricane Chaser is a band destined to “make big names for themselves.” So said Clint Brownlee in Seattle Sound, a music magazine published in the city that Hurricane Chaser call home.

Fronted by singer and guitarist Bred Zeffren with Derek Pulvino on guitars, Ben Obee on bass and vocals and Moises Padilla on drums, this busy quartet fuse a wide variety of genres into their unique sound.

I immediately heard strains of Daniel Lanois in the way their debut record, The Map Is Not The Territory, delicately layers together Pulvino and Zeffren’s shimmering electric guitars. I hear Jakob Dylan, as well, in Zeffren’s voice and, once we looked at their bio, found myself to be right on track: along with Bob Dylan and Daniel Lanois, Hurricane Chaser tag Waits, Lobos and Wilco as contemporaries.

Take a listen to “Barricades,” from their debut, and then take a trip over to their site to learn more about them.

Hurricane Chaser – Barricades

Motorama band

Free MP3: Motorama’s “Alps”

Motorama band

One of a quartet of bands that call themselves Motorama, this particular ensemble by that name describe themselves as playing “snowy, minimalist pop.”

That they hail from Rostov-on-Don, Russia may play a role in the description of their music (though we believe the garage rock band of the same name out of British Columbia may have some claim to adjective, as well).

And snowy their music is, flurries of electric pop guitar swirling about on the winds of new wave while bass and guitar pummel down on your head, much like a skier would pummel down the Alps, the mountain that inspired this title cut from their May 2010 album.

Like what hear from this unsigned quintet of players? They’re all socialed up on Facebook andTwitter (and just about everywhere else), not to mention their website.

And be sure to bring a parka and a snow shovel.

Originally written for MP3.com

Motorama – Alps