PRIMA DONNA: Pretty Little Head

Kevin Preston (from Foxboro Hot Tubs) is the front for this new-glam operation, who’ve toured with Eddie and the Hot Rods, Adam Ant and, not surprisingly, Green Day and have curried favor from Little Steven. They’re not the most original thing I’ve ever heard but I’ve spun this more than once, especially in the mood for a little mindless ‘nah, nah, nah.” RECOMMENDED.

 

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”

The Gift

The Gift’s “Race Is Long”

The Gift

In today’s world where fast is everything and nearly everything is disposable, it’s unusual for marriages, much less bands, to last for 17 years. But, since 1994, the four close friends from Portugal who call themselves the Gift have been honing their craft and making music together.

Indeed it was in 1994 that the Gift, while still teenagers, came together to start making music. It’s their friendship, they say, that’s the foundation to the musical endeavors, knowing they can rely on each other regardless of what happens professionally.

Fronted by the sultry singer Sonia Tavares, who counts male singers like Depeche Mode’s David Gahan among her strongest influences, the Gift have released four albums since their 1998 debut,Vinyl, and have become one of Portugal’s most popular and critically-awarded groups.

Their fifth offering, Explode, is their latest collection, featuring our Free MP3 of the Day “Race Is Long.”

What we hear in this this bouncy synth pop piece is the result of those many years together making music: glossy guitars and simmering synths underscore perfectly tuned harmonies, delivered as if one singer intuitively knows what the other is thinking. It’s a song flawlessly fitted for your pop music radio, whether you’re dancing about the living room, hanging on the beach or driving in your car.

Originally written for MP3.com

The Californian Band

The Californian’s “Billion Grains Of Sand”

The Californian Band

The Californian are an LA-based band of five who’ve just put the finishing touches on their debut Kickstarter-financed album. ‘Cuz they’re a fine bunch of gentlemen, they’ve given up a track from the collection you can have for free.

We can’t tell you much more about these alien beings from Los Angeles (whose website promises they’re not here to do us any harm) except to say the troupe consists of John Graney, Jonathan Price, Darren Robinson, Michael Hopkins and Jake Gideon and that they like — in no particular order — Cinderella Hotel, Anna Calvi and Charles Mansion.

They don’t say anything about 1979-era R.E.M.Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, the criminally underrated Volebeats or the legendary Ventures so we figure they’ve never heard of them (being that they come from L.A., isolated that it is.)

But they sure sound a lot like them and we think that’s pretty brilliant.

Download. Dance fast. Repeat.

Originally written for MP3.com

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Best Sellers From The 90′s: U2′s “Achtung Baby”

U2 Achtung Baby Album Cover

With their regular producers in tow, U2 retreated to Berlin in 1991 to re-imagine their sound in the form of Achtung Baby.

The eighth album in their repertoire, Achtung Baby was produced by U2 regulars Steve Lillywhite, Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, the latter of which was key to transforming David Bowie‘s sound on the Berlin trilogies.

Transformation is the name of the game here, as well, as the band’s knob turners soaked Bono’s vox in gallons of distortion, ran yards of 40 grit sand paper over The Edge’s guitar and submerged the group’s rhythm section in a mound of heavy beats.

The resulting dozen songs yielded tunes experimental (“Zoo Station”), riff-laden (“Even Better Than the Real Thing”) and downright funky (“Mysterious Ways”). It also spawned a half-dozen singles that hit the pop charts, including the US #1 (“One”) and the UK #1 “The Fly.”

Since it hit shelves 20 years ago in November 1991, Achtung Baby has sold 9 million copies.