The Easy Gramophone - May

5 songs you can legally download and listen to - free

Feature by Sean Michaels | 16 May 2006

1. Bear Creek – Without You (NYC)
Bear Creek are a band of fourteen year-old Frenchmen. Frenchboys, I guess. Without You is a song about the typical concerns of 14 year-olds: trips to New York City, feeling blue, "chicks with dicks", girlfriends who won't return your calls. It's all prepared over a back-and-forthing acoustic guitar, mostly-in-time drums, and the happiest sound of my week so far – something that encapsulates springtime and breezes and the chance that something good is really maybe going to happen. And it sounds like this: "You who / hoo hoo / who who / hoo hoo / who".
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2. Devotchka – Death By Blonde
New York's Devotchka prowls the same Eastern European alleyways as Gogol Bordello, mixing gypsy fiddle with the occasional clang of surf guitar. Theirs are fiddle-led stomps that lead inevitably to either dance parties or teary-eyed drinking sessions, but Death By Blonde sits firmly in the former camp. No time for weeping here: lace up your boots, grab a partner, and then whirl 'til you've forgotten there's such a thing as Monday.
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3. Okkervil River – West Fall
If they're not my favourite band in the world, they're close. And if they're not the best band in the world, they're close. When they visit Glasgow on May 5th, Okkervil River will bring love songs and murder ballads; they'll bring bourbon and wheat-grass; they'll bring mandolin and snarling electric guitar. Sheff will sing himself hoarse – singing songs like these, where a man looks too deep into the dark and then kills a girl in the woods. He'll do this and you'll be dancing along; dancing till you cry.
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4. Spoon – Turn My Camera On
The second of three Austin groups in this month's column, Spoon have been slowly transforming from a homely punk band into something much more complicated and great. Turn My Camera On is part Michael Jackson and part Sons & Daughters; hot as Texas sidewalk, cool as sunglasses. To daydream about what The Beatles would be doing today, if they were young and clever and liked Let It Be more than Sergeant Pepper, they would be Spoon. Catch them (Spoon, not The Beatles) at the ABC, Glasgow on May 18.
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5. Shearwater – Seventy-Four Seventy-Five
Although once 'just' an Okkervil River side-project, Jonathan Meiburg's Shearwater has recently become something mighty and original. Taking more from late Talk Talk and Magnolia Electric Company than The Pogues or Neil Young, Seventy-Four Seventy-Five follows mashed piano chords all the way to the beach, diving in as Meiburg yells and horns sound. This isn't a song for a happy reunion: it's something for the frenzied moments later, after everything's gone to shit and the ocean is the only way out.
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