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Radio Free MP3: Craig Bancoff, Elizabeth & The Catapult, & Thunder Power

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"Crutch" – Craig Bancoff
From the album Eden
Click here to listen, right-click to save.

There are times in my life when I've felt so vulnerable, so incredibly fragile that it seemed the smallest movement, the slightest breeze would leave me shattered. Craig Bancoff writes music like that. "Crutch" is as fragile as a Faberge egg, and just as beautiful. It begins with this soft, precious plucking of guitar strings that sounds like a whisper. Craig enters with his gentle father voice that sounds something of a cross between Tom Petty and Ryan Adams. An organ swirls quietly in the back like a nursery rhyme. When things finally crank up a bit its still closer to story time in the library than a night at Good Time Charlies.

It is a lovely, beautiful song that while fragile glows with craftsmanship.

The new album, Eden, is out now. You can hear more on his Myspace page, or his official website.

"Taller Children" – Elizabeth & the Catapult
From the album Taller Children
Click here to listen, right-click to save.

From the fragile to the brash, we cover it all here on Radio Free MP3. I'm generally attracted to two types of songs immediately. The first is the sort of gentle, folksy acoustic number like I wrote about above and the second is a bouncy, catchy pop dance number. Enter Elizabeth & the Catapult. "Taller Children" makes me put on my dancing shoes and keeps them on until I crash under the weight of my own exhaustion.

Thick bass lines roll out the back beat while Suzanne Vega-esque vocals bark out some diva tones. In between are fat horn rolls, sparkling keyboard trills, and a ravaging guitar squawk. The sounds clash, meld and rock my ears into submission. Beg for more, people, beg for more.

You can hear more Elizabeth & the Catapult on WFUV's Studio A, WXPNs World Cafe, and on Paste. Of course you can visit their official site, too.

"Heartifact" – Thunder Power
From the album Hearts Intersect
Click here to listen, right-click to save.

Sometimes there are little moments in a song that grab you and don't let go. Something that elevates a song into the heavens. For Thunder Power's "Heartifact" that moment is a females voice singing "oh-oh-oh-oh" over and over. The rest of this song is a perfectly acceptable mid-tempo indie pop number that floats smoothly over the ear drums and soul. Its good back ground music, but nothing utterly fantastic. Then comes the "oh-ohs" and suddenly my ears are standing on end. The "oh-oh's" aren't pretty or particularly beautiful even. In fact they are kind of brash and obnoxious but they work perfectly in the setting. The noise knock me out of my musical stupor and make me listen intensely wondering "what was that?"

I love moments like that. Surprise is completely under-appreciated in music.

Thunder Power are an experimental folk group from Omaha, Nebraska. Their newest record is a split EP with Toledo's The 1959 Hat Co. entitled Hearts Intersect" comes out March 2. You can learn more about them on their website, and Myspace page.

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About Mat Brewster

  • Marni Robbins

    Wow! I couldn’t agree more with your review of Crutch. You have such a great way of describing the song and the album.

  • Mat Brewster

    Thank you very much. Its a very cool song/album.

  • Juliet S.

    What a great way to describe Craig’s music!! “Fragile as a fabrege egg and just beautiful” You nailed it! Great review.