It may be shocking, but there was a time when there were actual, physical stores that people went into to purchase music. No, really, I am serious. The compact disc (or CDs as we called them) would be scanned, the customer paid an inflated price, and money would be sent to record companies and the respective artist. When downloading (and especially illegal downloading) became the norm, there was much ballyhooing from artists about how they will never make any money and be forced to (gasp!) tour in order to see profits.
These days songs, albums, entire catalogues are available at the point and click of a mouse and most artists have made their peace with the fact that they’re not always going to see immediate returns on their published works. Some have even taken this a step further and have begun offering 100% legal, free downloads of their music. It is an ingenious step as it not only allows the melody makers to operate outside the wheelhouse of their label, in that no longer are they required to lock themselves inside of a studio for the better part of a year to flesh out an entire album’s worth of material, but people love free stuff and will probably check out it out if it sounds even vaguely interesting.
I love free stuff and found myself in the position of downloading two free EP’s by bands I had heard of but had never actually listened to before. And lucky for them, I thoroughly enjoyed them and am now passing the knowledge of their existence onto you.
The first and shorter of the two is A Frightened Rabbit EP, a quick 10 minute, three song jaunt by Scottish indie rockers, A Frightened Rabbit. “Scottish Winds” opens the small collection with a chugging guitar riff before lead vocalist-guitarist Scott Hutchinson comes rumbling and mumbling in, his accent thick as thieves, begging the breeze of his homeland to fill his lungs. It’s an open love letter to Scotland that never crosses over into sarcasm or malice of the land made infamous by heroin junkies in Trainspotting.
The entire EP seems to have been written while on the road touring as once Hutchinson finishes his unabashed longing for his country, the band slowly lurches into the sentimental “F*** This Place.” The title is the most aggressive thing about this track, as a beautiful mystery female voice contrasts Hutchinson’s gruffness as they lament “I don’t know this city/ I think I am lost/ At the end/ At the close/ Would you be good enough to take me home?” Whether it be a person or place, the song taps into an ache deep inside of you of something missing. Of something warm and wonderful to help you find your footing again. It is a shame this track doesn’t close out the record, though, as it is easily the strongest and most haunting. Rather a more subdued, acoustic guitar driven “The Work” does a poorer job of wrapping things up. Not a bad song by any means, but I can’t help but to think, though, had the order been different that I would enjoy this one just a bit more.
If the sad and sincere Scottish sound is not pleasing enough, check out The King Khan Experience. King Khan has always been one of those artists I’ve heard of in passing, enjoying a song well enough but never remembering to look into him any further. It’s a shame, too, as this nine-song EP is a terribly enjoyable non-stop moonbounce soaking wet with keyboards with a smack of garage noise. I hate when people try to describe music to me like this but I get no clearer image in my head listening to this than MGMT and The Strokes making out to all their favorite records from the 60s and 70s.
Khan sets the stage with “Bog Log Stomp,” letting us hear him and his bandmates pick up their instruments and the clink of ice in a glass reminiscent of Eric Burden’s “Spill the Wine.” From there, he doesn’t let up pummeling you with track after track of pop-punk-psychedelia.
If Frightened Rabbit’s EP comes from a place of physical isolation, Khan’s comes from a place of emotion. While the tempo and guitar effects would not suggest it, most of the lyrics seem to be about ‘Khan’ being in love with another man’s girl. Whether he’s begging her to “Come Levitate With Me” or letting her know that “You Knock Me Off Of My Feet,” Khan doesn’t let up with his attempts to create a cuckold in the funkiest way possible.
Khan wears his influences on his sleeve throughout, blatantly ripping off the main riff of “Carry On My Wayward Sun” on “I Got Love” and doing his best to make “Are You Serious” sounds like a basement cassette recording of a long lost Jimi Hendrix song, his foot never leaving the wah pedal. There’s also the melody laden “Keep It Simple Stupid,” the redheaded step-son of The Beatles’ “Within Without You.” Despite this, though, it never sounds like he’s plagiarizing anything. Instead it gives the impression that your music player is on random, but somehow with the same vocalist.
A Frightened Rabbit EP is available for download at www.frightenedrabbit.com.
The King Khan Experience is available for download at www.scionav.com
Patrick McFadden is a student minoring in journalism. He can be reached at PM623279@wcupa.edu.