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Radio Free MP3: Last Man Standing, Sweet Apple, & Barton Carroll

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In this periodically random, or randomly periodic series I will be highlighting batches of music that I find interesting. They will likely be new, but they might be old. They could be superstars, but mostly they will be unheard of, independently labeled and somewhat obscure. They will be free, but you are encouraged to buy. They will all be good, at least to me, at the time I post them. Your mileage may very. Heck, my mileage may very a day after I post them.

“The Dean Street Shuffle” – Last Man Standing
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Started when singer/songwriter Max Vanderwolf stumbled out of an AA meeting and ran into guitarist Chris Cordoba, Last Man Standing consists of those two plus a mad-cap collection of London area musicians. The band has been playing gigs throughout the London underground and has finally rose up with their debut album False Starts & Broken Promises.

The results are a conglomeration of sounds one might hear in a burlesque show in the back of a third-tier carnival. “The Dean Street Shuffle” starts out as a laid back groove one might play on a lazy Sunday but about halfway through morphs into some bizarre martian love making ditty out of Tom Waits basement. In a word: awesome.

Check out their website, and myspace for more.

“Do You Remember” – Sweet Apple
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J. Mascis likes to tell people that forming this side project saved co-member (and Cobre Verde singer) John Petkovic’s life, then he adds, “but they don’t believe me.” What some folks are calling an indie-rock supergroup formed when Petkovic took off on a long, aimless cross-country drive after the death of his mother. He wound up in Vermont hooking up with friend and Witch bassist Dave Sweetapple, who then hooked him up with Dinosaur Jr. front man J. Mascis. From there the three decided to form a band (grabbing Cobre Verde guitarist Tim Parnin to help with guitars) and Sweet Apple was born. Their album, Love and Desperation will be out in March.

Mascis known for his heavy hitting guitar work, goes back to his roots in Sweet Apple and plays drums (though you can recognize his guitar adding touches here and there.) On “Do You Remember” the band glides through familiar 1970’s hard rock riffs with more modern pop flourishes. I’ve not kept up with Dinosaur Jr. in several albums, and I haven’t heard of any of the other guys, but “Do You Remember” makes me long for my days of long hair and flannel shirts.

Check them out on Myspace.

“Lets Get On With the Illusion” – Barton Carroll
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In “Lets Get On With the Illusion” Barton Carroll opens the song by singing “In storybooks they say that love is the magic of the soul/And a straight jacket can’t hold the heart of man nor, Houdini’s hand/But a heart can never see that Harry had a key.” Not exactly an optimistic line, nor a song to sing to a lover, but even though he goes on to say “since you and I know loves a lie, let’s get on with the illusion” there is something sweet about the song. Maybe its the way the female’s voice (whose name I can’t seem to find) captures the sweet spot of harmony. Or maybe its the lyrics insistence on sticking with it, even though we’re all doomed in the end. Or maybe it is just a great song no matter how you lay it.

No matter the reason, “Let’s Get On With the Illusion” is destined to remain on repeat in my iPod and Barton Carroll is a name I’m going to keep an eye out for.

Check out his website, Myspace and Facebook. The new album, Together You And I hits stores on January 19.

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About Mat Brewster