Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Free and legal MP3 from South Ambulance (half-churning, half-soaring, and fully wonderful)

"Davy Crockett" - South Ambulance
     Friendly, skewed, comfortably messy, unexpectedly melodic, and totally what I want to hear this week. Could be the way the introduction takes Radiohead's "No Surprises" and recasts it as a goofy, upbeat adventure, could be the homespun nature of the big-hearted beat and wall-of-sound vibe, or maybe it could even be the snug nostalgia of the title ("Davy Crockett" evokes a bygone childhood as well as any proper name I can think of), but this song surely makes me smile. I love music that makes me smile out of pure instinctive reaction, not because it's literally funny (truthfully, I have no idea what's going on lyrically).
     There's something Beach Boysy in the dense, tuneful, vocally-oriented setting here, but this is no ironic/retro homage; "Davy Crockett," rather, sounds like something Brian Wilson might do right now if he happened to be 25 again and working in a Swedish band in the 21st century. Even at his Pet Sounds apex, there was something handmade and idiosyncratic about Wilson's lush creations; South Ambulance has likewise put this half-churning, half-soaring concoction together with seemingly as much duct tape as megabytes. Even as background harmonies contribute texture and floating synthesizer lines add an almost majestic sheen, the sometimes straining lead vocals keep us from gliding into woozy bliss. As if to drive home the point, the mix changes at around 2:28 to expose these voices, for 10 seconds or so, minus the reverb you almost didn't notice until it's stripped away; and they may sound harsh and slightly out of tune but they also feel abruptly present: you can suddenly sense mouths and lips and cheeks and microphones in a way that seems reassuring and handcrafted. Music peopled by people, not programmed and looped.
     South Ambulance is a quintet from Stockholm that has been playing together since 2003. "Davy Crockett" is the lead track from the band's latest EP, entitled EP#4, released this week on Indiecater Records, a digital only label based in Dublin. Two more South Ambulance EPs (#5 and #6) are due out on Indiecater before year's end.

Free and legal MP3 from the Silt (sauntering and harmony-laced, with crazy guitars)

"No Twig" - the Silt
     A sauntering, harmony-laced, downtempo showcase for some kooky guitar work, "No Twig" has the melody and ambiance of something off American Beauty as performed by Will Oldham. A Toronto trio with unusual musical talents, the Silt (as in "fine sand carried by running water") is compromised of guys known to play instruments such as bass flute, trombone, and bass clarinet, while the drummer, one Marcus Quin, plays the bass and drum at the same time, probably for some very good reason which I just can't happen to imagine.
     In "No Twig," however, it's all about the guitars, which appear subdued and orderly for the first minute or so, while the song is dominated by some deft group harmonies, only to begin playing flourishes, between lyrical lines, that give Wilco a run for the money for their odd textures and twangy-tinkly dissonances. Meanwhile, singer Ryan Driver, left on his own, has a quavery voice that enjoys exploring the elastic spaces around the actual melody, furthering the impression that at any moment this thing could just fall apart, mere anarchy loosed upon the tune. But memories of those beautiful harmonies linger, and eventually they return, the guitars settle down, somewhat, and this long but engaging piece of twisted Americana finds its ending.
     I have no explanation as to why a song like "No Twig" can sit quietly in my listening folder for a couple of months when suddenly, on one brisk light blue late March day, it strikes me as a song that needs to be heard, shared, written about, contemplated. But such is the way music works (in my brain, at least). "No Twig" can be found the CD Cat's Peak, released in January on Fire Records in the U.K.; the disc had been previously self-released in Canada in 2007.

Free and legal MP3 from Bob Mould (buoyant and limber in unexpected ways)

"City Lights (Days Go By)" - Bob Mould
     There's something uncharacteristically sprightly and limber about this new song from one of indie rock's pioneers. It's not just that vibe-like synth line in the intro (although that's pretty darned sprightly); and it's not just that he's singing in his more nimble upper register rather than that forbidding lower register of his; it's really the whole melodic structure and instrumental framework that lends this song a refreshing openness that Mould's work hasn't had, from what I've heard of it over the years.
     I'm going to have a hard time explaining this one, but Mould has tended previously to write songs that, whatever their various merits, seemed mired in very specific sorts of chord changes and melodic patterns. Right from the start, "City Lights" breaks free with its opening melody--a melody that starts high and descends, and a melody that not only features but begins with held notes (the "Days go by" part, with each word held for two beats). It's a very small thing that nonetheless generates a notable aural change for Mould, who typically writes music directly to the lyrics, one note for each syllable except maybe at the end of the line. Even as the song unfolds through some turns and changes that are distinctly Mouldian (listen for instance to the chorus, that interval he describes at 1:28 as he hits the word "need": now that's Bob Mould), the ongoing sense of flow and uplift has him sounding oddly Paul Weller-like. (Who has his own issues, come to think of it, when it comes to being mired in a sonic rut, but never mind.) Even with that drone that Mould manages to imply via the production--there's actually not one particular instrument droning, but it somehow feels like there is--this song moves, and buoyantly.
     "City Lights (Days Go By)" is a song from the new CD, Life and Times, to be released next month on Anti Records. MP3 via Spinner.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Free and legal MP3 from All Get Out (loud but musical, with a big power pop hook)

"Water and God" - All Get Out
     Four strong beats on the drum and bang, not two seconds in and we're delivered right to this song's big hook, first heard as a synthesizer melody played against a loud, bashy background. When the verse starts, the song retreats--lower volume, itchier vibe--to build the tension that rises as we await the inevitable, triumphant return of the Hook. But wait: more tension first, because when said Hook returns, we initially hear it as a quiet vocal melody against one staccato guitar line. This then adds to the feeling of blessed release when we finally hear the central melody full-fledged, as the driving chorus it was meant to be, at 1:17 (and thereafter).
     The melody itself is simple: first, a basic upward progression (the one, three, four, and five notes of the scale) in B minor, then a repeat of the notes with one difference--the first note shifts one whole step down, to the A instead of the B, which magically turns the B minor chord previously outlined into a D major chord (exploiting the tantalizing closeness between any minor key and its relative major). This is not a new trick, but it's a catchy one. There is nothing much new going on in this song at all and I for one say praise the lord. As noted on Fingertips with some regularity: "new" is a pointless measure of value in music; all that matters is "good." New does not automatically equal good any more than does good automatically equal new. If only a music critic or two understood this.
     All Get Out is a foursome from Charleston, S.C.; the name derives from the phrase "loud as all get out," which the band uses as its URL. Unlike most bands that strive to be loud, however, these guys still want the music to sound like music, which is another part of this song's charm. "Water and God" has appeared on both of its first two EPs, most recently a self-titled disc released near the end of 2008 on Favorite Gentlemen Recordings. MP3 via the SXSW web site, one last nod here to the mammoth festival that wrapped up this past weekend.

Free and legal MP3 from Dog Day (fluid, time-shifting indie rock with a bit of early REM about it)

"Rome" - Dog Day
     The first five seconds of "Rome" sound like something straight off Murmur (the song's title does have the letters R.E.M. in it, yes?), but as soon as the floating synthesizer enters, sounding spookily like a voice, and the easy-flowing yet complex rhythm takes hold, I feel myself transported into some different if equally mysterious sort of place. Bassist Nancy Urich, singing lead here, offers a slightly distant, semi-transparent vocal style that both pulls us in and keeps us at a distance, while the band's seemingly foggy sensibility disguises a grand capacity to burn and churn (see the extended coda, that starts around 3:48, for a glimpse of it).
     There's a lot going on here, but the central compelling feature on display, to my ears, is the fluid use of shifting time signatures. The verse appears to be constructed of three measures of 6/8 time plus one measure of 8/8 (that's my guess, anyway); the chorus offers standard 4/4 time, yet with seamless transitions. Listen to how the recurring guitar line, which shepherds us through the 6/8 measures, adapts itself without a hitch to 4/4 time as well (compare the music that begins at 0:16 to 1:16, for instance). Or, for a particularly simple yet inventive shift, check out the break that begins around 3:06: it's just a straight, unadorned drumbeat; somewhere along the way we go from four to six beats but there's no way to tell exactly where.
     Dog Day is a two-boy, two-girl quartet from Halifax. "Rome" is from the band's new album, Concentration, to be released next month on the Canadian label Outside Music.

Free and legal MP3 from Local Natives (percussive, nicely textured mix of lightness and heaviness)

"Airplanes" - Local Natives
     Incorporating humor and substance, intricacy and simplicity, "Airplanes" feels terrifically well-conceived and well-performed. From the oddball grunts and groans that start things off to the strong instrumental parts to the offbeat way the lyrics and music match up, everything in this moderately paced, appealingly percussive song works to produce great texture and a satisfying sense of presence. Local Natives is a L.A.-based quintet with three singers and often an extra drummer; the way this song achieves both lightness and heaviness has a lot to do with the playful musicality of each band member. (For a delightful look at this exact characteristic, check out the band's backyard video in which they cover "Cecilia.")
     "Airplanes" is about singer Kelcey Ayer's grandfather, an impressive family personality (and longtime Boeing engineer) who died when Kelcey was two. Ayer's falsetto-y tenor, at once good-natured and forlorn, has a lot to do with how the song manages to incorporate both lightness and heaviness as it unfolds, as do the smartly arranged harmonies that help him out. It's a mature sensibility for a young band. If they can navigate the tricky interpersonal politics of keeping five creative folks together in one ensemble, Local Natives have a serious shot at success, however success is defined on the 21st-century music scene.
     When the band's debut CD, Gorilla Manor, is released, you'll find "Airplanes" on it. The album--which gets its name from the nickname given to a house the band members shared for a while in the Silverlake section of Los Angeles--is "forthcoming," says the band. Which might mean they're shopping it around, hoping to find a record label that wants to release it for them. Maybe they had some luck last week in Austin? In the meantime, MP3 via the band.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Free and legal MP3 from the Idle Hands (casually brilliant neo-Britpop)

"Loaded" - The Idle Hands
     Simple, driving, and evocative, "Loaded" has the cool dry makings of an underground anthem about it. Embodying a musical vector that starts in the late '60s with the Velvets (Loaded, in fact, was the name of the last true Velvet Underground album) and runs through '70s Bowie, '80s Smiths, and '90s Oasis, The Idle Hands here deliver a casually brilliant, sharply-produced bit of neo-Britpop that's positively resplendent in its matter-of-fact-ness, if that makes sense. Surely it outshines the majority of the either under- or over-thought-out indie rock music that's all but strangling the internet (not to mention, this week, the city of Austin, Texas) by decade's end. Almost always the amount of naiveté or frippery on display in a song is inversely proportional to the underlying musical solidity of the enterprise. "Loaded" is nothing if not sleek and to the point, even if the point is a world-weary one.
     The ongoing trick for quality rock'n'roll, however, is how to keep the simple from being, simply, boring. "Loaded" catches and holds the ear in a number of ways. I like the rubbery synth line that traces a satisfying upward and downward path in the intro; I like the forceful but blasé baritone of singer Ciaran (no last name given), a voice at home with lyrics alternately cultivated and dissipated--bringing Morrissey (no first name given) to mind yet without sounding like a mindless acolyte. I like the somewhat unusual (in indie rock) use of internal rhyme--there's nothing too strict going on here, but if you pay attention you'll hear words being rhymed that do not always end a lyrical line. I like the perfect balance of fuzz and jangle in the guitar sound, and how neither sound overwhelms the song. And most of all I like the direct but vivid chorus, built upon the most basic three notes in the musical scale, just do re mi, but it's all about putting them in the right order, to the right rhythm, with the right chords.
     Featuring two Irish brothers and three Americans, the Idle Hands are based in Minneapolis and are readying their full-length debut for an American release this year. "Loaded" was originally on an EP released only in the U.K. in 2006; it will appear on the new CD as well.

Free and legal MP3 from O+S (beats and loops turned into compelling music)

"Permanent Scar" - O+S
     Orenda Fink has been a freewheeling musical spirit since the disbanding of Azure Ray in 2004, having in the years since released a solo CD, a CD with a project called Art in Manila, and, now, an album as the group O+S. This one is recorded with bassist Cedric LeMoyne, formerly of the band Remy Zero, and an old friend, performing under the name Scalpelist (thus O+S). The basic idea here was to take field recordings from around the world, turn them into loops and beats that could be incorporated into songs, and see what happens.
     Now I don't know about you but when I hear about songs using loops and beats I tend to pull my head back into my shell and wait for something that sounds like an instrument to come into earshot. Fortunately, despite the splicey nature of the underlying structure, O+S from the start was aiming for more than rhythmic gimmickry. "We listened to a lot of David Lynch soundtracks, 10cc, and old 4AD records," Fink has said. "I was looking for this balance of light and dark." The combination of David Lynch and 10cc surely got my head popping back out. And you can hear it right away on "Permanent Scar"--the glitchy beat isn't established for even 10 seconds when a graceful, almost New Order-y synthed-up guitar line emerges to bring musical order to the landscape. Fink's vocals are both airy and strong enough to take center stage; once she starts singing, everything going on is built around her, not in spite of her. And everything, on top of the beat, is musical: an elegant keyboard motif comes and goes; ghostly synthesizers float through the background but do so with an actual musical line, not just random atmospherics; after some opening double-tracking, the vocals acquire harmonies that are specific and interesting, not just a wash of sound.
     "Permanent Scar" is from the O+S's self-titled debut album, to be released next week on Saddle Creek Records.

Free and legal MP3 from Fanfarlo (sparkly and quirky, a la Talking Heads 77)

"Harold T. Wilkins" - Fanfarlo
     Sparkly and quirky-poppy in a way that harkens back to early Talking Heads, "Harold T. Wilkins" shows off this London-based sextet's capacity to turn its interest in historical obscurities into offbeat but engaging pop. (The band named itself after the poet Baudelaire's one novella, so they're serious about this stuff.) Wilkins was a British journalist who wrote on a number of subjects, including the paranormal; one specialty of his was researching ancient flying-saucer sightings. You won't catch any of that from the song, however, in part because David Byrne-ish singer Simon Aurell sings in that way that lets you hear individual words more than complete sentences. You might wonder why a band would use specific, obscure references only to present in such a way as to keep them obscure, but it's no different, really, from any song in which you can't fully understand the lyrics. And I for one would rather encounter unintelligible lyrics about an obscure British writer (he also, it seems, reported on early TV experiments) than about another relationship gone bad.
     The song's full name is actually "Harold T. Wilkins, Or How To Wait For A Very Long Time," and I'm feeling a strong sense of expectation throughout the song, produced first and foremost by that recurring mandolin motif in the verse--a short, cycling figure that doesn't resolve as much as set us up for endless repetition. The chorus loses the mandolin and picks up an authoritative beat and some appealing melodic twists, and yet in the end fosters a renewed sense of anticipation via its unusual structure: it features six lyrical lines, following a rough AABBCC rhyme scheme, while the music offers an ABCDCD pattern. Which is to say it would have sounded finished after four lines; the extra two leave us less resolved as we glide back into waiting mode.
     You'll find this one on Reservoir, the band's first full-length CD, which was self-released last month. MP3 via SXSW, where the band is playing this week, along with 700,000 others.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Free and legal MP3 from Bishop Allen (jaunty, curious, and likable)

"The Ancient Commonsense of Things" - Bishop Allen
     The Brooklyn-based duo Bishop Allen is one of the most likable bands in the kooky and sometimes unlikable world of indie rock. They are, indeed, likable at every level of activity, from the general vibe of their songs to the individual musical components employed to, even, the band's sense of graphic design and their collective prose voice.
     "The Ancient Commonsense of Things": even a likable song title, yes? Makes you kind of relax, stop Twittering for a minute and just breathe. We were human beings before we chained ourselves to one sort of keyboard or another. As the lyrics offer the merest of sketches, the music quickly envelops you with its at once cheerful and intimate presence--it's a soft song that sounds loud, a fast song that feels easy-going. Bright and lively percussion drive the piece--mostly sticks and clicks and xylophone--while the minimalist lyrics compare time-tested objects (a hammer, a clothespin, a cork) to the power of a soul mate. And it works, in part because of singer Justin Rice's quizzical voice, which does both plain-spoken and buoyant equally well. The song might have benefited from one more verse, but Rice's repetition of the titular phrase is so simultaneously jaunty and curious that I'm kind of digging the "less is more" approach. And whether that's a bass solo or a guitar solo there at 1:40, I like its plucked sparseness--just these particular notes, in this particular order, over that clicky-clacky-chuggy-chimey background.
     While Rice and Christian Rudder, who met at Harvard, are the two-man core of the group, Bishop Allen performs with other musicians, who are at least informally band members while the recording and touring goes on (a current video shows a band of five, in fact). "The Ancient Commonsense of Things" can be found on Grrr..., the band's new CD, being released this week on Dead Oceans. MP3 via the band's site.

Free and legal MP3 from St. Vincent (quirky, orchestral, nostaglic, with shredding)

"The Strangers" - St. Vincent
     Annie Clark, who by herself is St. Vincent, is an elusive talent. Be seduced by her charming, idiosyncratic voice, with tinges of jazz singer about it; be intrigued by her lush, unusual arrangements; be surprised by that wallop of crazed guitar noise (it's a taste of what is known as "shredding") that invades an otherwise airy-sounding song two-thirds of the way in. (Then again, she's repeatedly singing about painting the black hole blacker, so maybe this isn't so airy after all.) Get to the end of the song and be unsure about what you just heard, but with the feeling that you want to hear it again.
     Clark was inspired on this new album--entitled Actor--by some of her favorite old movies, including older Disney features, envisioning each song as a sort of "secret film score," according to her press material. There is surely a touch of '40s cartoonishness about the short vocal/orchestral intro, the (perhaps synthesized) string- and woodwind-flecked instrumentation, and the recurring backing vocal stylings, which sound furthermore as if processed through an old radio receiver. The song slides along with a glistening retro sheen that blithely contradicts the substantive quirkiness underneath, which includes: a melody that refuses to have any part of the beat; unabashed orchestral maneuverings; subtle injections of electronics; and the lack of any particularly recognizable structure. (Note in the melody a sort of deconstruction of the '20s nugget, "Bye Bye Blackbird"; could this relate to the "black hole blacker" bit?) Clark has said that she wanted to make the songs on the album "technicolor animatronic rides." Whatever such a thing is, "The Strangers" is surely one of them.
     Born in Oklahoma, Clark, like Bishop Allen above, is based in Brooklyn, surely one of the great hubs of '00s indie music. "The Strangers" is the first song on the new album, St. Vincent's second, which is due out in May on 4AD Records. MP3 via 4AD.

Free and legal MP3 from Kinch (mesmerizing melody, with time signature tricks)

"The Economic Chastisement" - Kinch
     This song has a central time-signature complication going on but it took me any number of listens to notice. Which speaks to a songwriting feat I'm particularly fond of: not merely a time-signature complication, but a complication that doesn't draw undue attention to itself. I like when the unusual is disguised as normal. (A related trick, similarly tasty: disguising the normal as unusual.)
     Basically you've got an ongoing three-beat rhythm regularly interrupted by one two-beat rhythm--I'm guessing two 6/8 measures followed by a 5/8, but who knows. The more interesting thing is how this asymmetry is adroitly masked. First, notice the pulse-like drumbeat, which for the first minute sounds quite literally like a heartbeat, implying a steadiness that isn't actually there. Second, for all the implied motion in the song, the melody is focused on one note for a whole lot of the time. It gets kind of mesmerizing, particularly in combination with that cycling, just this side of comical piano vamp that kicks in at around 1:20. Another point of distraction is how the song comes to a near-complete stop during that brief, immobile chorus or bridge or whatever that is between verses. We notice that, but we don't notice the fact that there's no way to tap your toe to the song consistently even when the song starts moving again.
     Kinch is a four-piece from Phoenix; their name is the nickname given to Stephen Daedalus by (stately, plump) Buck Mulligan in Ulysses. "The Economic Chastisement" is the title track to a three-song EP the band self-released last month. If the title carries with it the weighty suggestion that we're all complicit in the rearing up of the so-called Great Recession, I have the feeling the band would be satisfied. They themselves are looking for no handout--the EP is available as a free and legal download on the band's web site, as is their entire first full-length CD, released last year. "These songs are meant to be shared," the band writes. "Please feel free to send them to anyone you like." It's a different kind of stimulus package.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Fingertips Q&A with Joey Barro (the Traditionist)

This month, Fingertips fires off five questions about the state of the music industry to Joey Barro, a singer/songwriter from Southern California currently doing musical business as The Traditionist. When he's not showing off his extra three arms (note photo to left), Barro is also front man for the Antiques, based in Los Angeles. Season to Season, the debut album from the Traditionist, is being released this month on Better Looking Records. "I Know My Ocean," a song from that album, was featured on Fingertips in January.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Free and legal MP3 from Say Hi (brisk, brilliantly constructed indie pop)

"Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh" - Say Hi
     Say Hi, which started life in 2002 as Say Hi To Your Mom, has always been lumped into the lo-fi crowd, which seems the fate of anyone who goes the "bedroom rock" route, writing and recording and playing the instruments and fiddling with electronics pretty much alone at home. But let it be stated for the record that Eric Elbogen, Say Hi's Seattle-based mastermind, is now, even if he hasn't always been, much more than a lo-fi rocker. This guy knows how to put a song together, and doesn't mind showing us.
      And yet the cool thing is that "Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh" is sophisticated in what strikes me as a new and impressive way. The music is by and large uncomplicated and yet completely well-rounded, by which I mean the various sounds and sections and rhythms blend to create a whole that doesn't merely sound like this or that part of it. Too much lo-fi music is maddeningly one-dimensional, sounding as if the creator can't quite picture the end result while putting the pieces together. Here, Elbogen works with discrete elements--the syncopated horn-like synthesizer of the introduction, a repeating bass drum rumble, crisply recorded acoustic guitar (complete with finger squeakings), a direct, garage-y lead guitar line--and stirs them into a brisk, cohesive, elusive song about an alluring girl and what he may or may not be doing with her. His reverby vocals slide beautifully in and around the precisely constructed landscape, singing a rapid-fire melody that seems more casual than it actually is. The simple repeated syllables of the chorus (and the title) similarly belie the savvy required to weave them into this bewitching little song.
     "Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh" is from Say Hi's new album, Oohs and Aahs, released this week on Barsuk Records. MP3 via Barsuk.

Free and legal MP3 from Camera Obscura (happy/sad reverb rock, from Scotland)

"My Maudlin Career" - Camera Obscura
     And speaking of reverb, well, here you are. Camera Obscura has built a sturdy sound around a spacious, melancholy reverb, affecting not just lead singer Tracyanne Campbell's voice but, it seems, the entire rest of the band as well. Combine this with a knack for nostalgic beats and bittersweet lyrics and we end up pretty much suffused with a happy kind of sadness that only certain kinds of pop songs can deliver. This one carries an extra bonus ironic twist, as the song's narrator, contrary to all musical cues, insists by the end that she will not be sad again. As the extra bonus ironic saying goes, good luck with that.
     The (reverbed) keyboard motif that launches the song and recurs throughout is the spine which supports the whole--ongoing, upward-yearning octaves and near octaves that can almost sound optimistic if you're not listening carefully, and against which Campbell's disconsolate purr feels particularly star-crossed. Pianist Carey Lander is apparently playing ABBA's piano on this track, which seems to me another ironic touch, another way the band is playing with bubblegummy nostalgia but finding their own present-day substance in the process.
     "My Maudlin Career" is the title track to the fourth Camera Obscura album, due out next month on 4AD Records (this will be the band's fourth record label in four tries). MP3 via the band's site.

Free and legal MP3 from Middle Distance Runner (engaging rock, with stylish drumming)

"The Sun and Earth" - Middle Distance Runner
     Drumming plays a tricky role in rock. Without drums, there's no rock to be had. You need them. But you also don't really want to notice them. Because there's almost no difference between noticeable and too noticeable when it comes to drums, and once they're too noticeable, the song doesn't have much of a chance.
      One of the reasons I like "The Sun and Earth" so much is because drummer Erik Dean (also one of the band's founders and songwriters) has found a way to give the drums a defining place within the song without overwhelming the sound. It's pretty much all tom-toms here, which is one way to move the sound down in the mix--you notice it more in your gut than in your head. That singer Stephen Kilroy has such an appealing and elastic tenor helps, also, keep the drums in the background, where they belong, even as they remain simultaneously central to the developing vibe. When the pleasing, tumbling tom-toms stop entirely for the quiet bridge at 2:39, and the narrator expresses his bewilderment at being left by a lover, he surely does sound awfully alone.
     Middle Distance Runner is a quintet from Washington, D.C. that may now actually be a quartet (available information appears contradictory at this point). They were featured once before on Fingertips, in March 2007. As noted at the time, these guys put forth a jokey front (check out their web site's FAQ, for example) but if they are smart enough to know that the Earth is in fact closer to the Sun in the winter (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), and then to use this as a viable metaphor in a song, then they're not nearly as dumb as they look, as it were. "The Sun and Earth" is a song from the band's EP (called, it seems, EP), which was self-released in the fall, but getting a renewed push as the band hits the road this spring. Thanks to Filter for the head's up.