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A few days ago, I heard a track called “Mr. Rock & Roll” by a Scottish female vocalist named Amy Macdonald. I enjoyed it and think her acoustic folk-pop sound is worth a listen; it’s somewhat reminiscent of KT Tunstall and the multitudes of other girls with dark hair and bangs who have been playing indie music on guitar of late.
Amy’s songwriting is nothing earth-shatteringly innovative, but she has no average voice, and as a self-taught musician, she’s not bad at all. NPR Weekend Edition tells me that her popularity has been growing in the UK for a while and is just starting to make its way over to the US.
If you heard about Amy Macdonald ages ago, feel free to inform me that I am totally behind the times on what young people are listening to nowadays. I’d also be interested to hear your opinion on whether Amy’s style is refreshing or unremarkable. You can listen to more full tracks by Amy Macdonald on last.fm.
Remember when I blogged about discovering new music via legal downloads from last.fm earlier this month? One of the great bands I discovered is a now-defunct Bellingham, Washington band called Racetrack. I would call their overall sound indie pop, somewhat reminiscent of Voxtrot and The Pipettes.
Racetrack’s Meghan Kessinger contributes clear female vocals and catchy guitar hooks, while Jackson Long and Chris Rasmussen create a solid rhythmic foundation on drums/male vocals and bass, respectively. Their strongest song by far is “Don’t Sit On the Pickets,” which I guarantee will get stuck in your head. In a good, non-Katy Perry way.
“Racetrack is true to its name: fun, fast, loud and kinetic. Their ‘catchy, noisy power pop’ can be heard on their new EP ‘go ahead and say it’ (2006) and their previous full-length, ‘City Lights’, recorded by Death Cab For Cutie’s Chris Walla.”
Sadly, the members of Racetrack broke up in late 2006 to work on individual projects. Most of their songs are available for free download on last.fm, and can be heard on their MySpace or website. Andrew of FensePost, in his infinite lightyears-ahead-of-me hipness, wrote about Racetrack in a review of “go ahead and say it” in October 2006. He recommends the following five must-hear tracks, almost all of which are available for immediate and free legal download on last.fm:
Don’t Sit On The Pickets
The War At Home
Jumping The Shark
One of the neat things about living in the San Francisco Bay Area is the music scene here. My friend Davin, whom I met at Cal, is in a band called Fox Culture. They call themselves a mix of indie, alternative, and baroque pop; their sound is mellow and introspective. Fox Culture is the kind of indie band that often does duets between one male and female singer. They sound kind of like Broken Social Scene and the Arcade Fire.
“Oh yeah- ol’ school organ to set the stage; nice. Nice how you follow each other around vocally and musically. Like lovers chasing each other around town.”
Perry Farrell (Jane’s Addiction, Satellite Party, founder of Lollapalooza)
I used one of Fox Culture’s songs, “Phony”, in a video commerical I created at my internship this summer. The video basically demonstrates my company’s new product, ChunkIt!, which allows users to find information on the Internet more easily. I used Camtasia Studio to create a video demonstrating ChunkIt!’s applications to Last.fm, one of my favorite music websites.
Fox Culture recently entered and won a contest to be featured on an album from one of UC Berkeley’s largest student festivals, Caltopia Live 2008. The album can be downloaded for free on iTunes and features 14 tracks from bands at UC Berkeley. I just downloaded it, and will let you know which local artists I think are worth a listen.
“Gotta say, this isn’t a sound I usually gravitate toward, but there’s something about your music that gets under my skin–in a good way. Maybe it’s the subtle, off-kilter songcraft or the double vocals and hypnotic finger plucking, or the noise guitar at the end of Fireman. Your heart is really in this and it shows–and I don’t say that about of a lot of what I hear on this site. Lots of luck!”
Doug Brod (editor of SPIN Magazine)
If you liked the sound of “Phony” from my ChunkIt! Last.fm video, you can check out more Fox Culture songs on their MySpace page.