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Radio Free MP3: Leo Blais, Fun, George Ides

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"All in All" – Leo Blais
From the album The Free EP
Click here to listen to the MP3, right-click to save.

It is fascinating to watch how the way we consume music is so constantly changing. I'm old enough to remember the upgrade from cassette tape to CD and still recall my mother trying to convince my brother not to buy into that revolution.  Because, she said,  the technology will just keep changing and you'll have to keep buying the same music over and over again. She was right in that point, but most of us can't stop ourselves from getting the next best thing.

Most music is consumed digitally now, and while the RIAA and big music corporations are busy suing their biggest fans, others are finding the Internet and easily downloaded MP3s to be the best way to promote themselves and spread their music. As a fan, I absolutely love this. I'm totally for supporting an artist, which is why I always include links where you can purchase the tunes featured in this series, and highly recommend seeing as much live music as you can, but it seems to me letting people here your music before they plop down cash is the way to go.

Massachusetts' artist Leo Blais understand this all too well and is currently giving away a new EP aptly titled The Free EP. What better way to get people to love your music, than to give it to them?

"All in All" is a breezy, country rock anthem with shades of Ben Folds, the Black Crowes and a dash of Ryan Adams. Its full of big guitar stretches, howling harmonica frills and a barn burning groove. Its the kind of song you put on during a summer barbecue to get the people in the mood for big slabs of meat, and watching the children play until the sun goes down.

Blais is an artist in most senses of the word not only a singer songwriter, but a sculptor and environmentalist as well. Using only an x-acto knife and a shapie he shaped his apartment into a "tangible manifestation his musical vision." You can see the results here. He's also been featured in a Dunkin Donuts commercial.

You can stream and download the entire Free Ep, plus view pictures, videos and see tour dates on his website.

"All The Pretty Girls" – Fun
From the album Live At Fingerprints

Click here to listen to the MP3, right-click to save.

Speaking of supporting bands through live shows, I'm a huge fun of concert recordings. There is really nothing that compares with the experience of being at a concert, but a good recording of a great live show comes pretty close.

One of the only problems with concert recordings is its hard to know where to put the track markers. A good concert should include a lot of fun chatter from the band. Hearing them joke and tell stories is an important part of the concert going experience. It can even be a fun part of the concert recoding experience. At least while listening to the concert as a whole. But when your music is on shuffle mode, or when you are sharing individual songs for a mix-tape or a Blogcritics article the chatter can become disjointed and annoying. So it is here, and all I can say is get past it and dig the song.

What a song it is. Fun pretty much stand by their name and create a song that is full of exuberant joy. Its got a big Ben Folds piano-pop vibe filled with broad, beautiful barber shop harmonies. Its the kind of song that may wind up embarrassing you because you'll likely find yourself clapping along only to find your work-mates staring at you in bewilderment. If that happens just take out your ear buds and crank up the volume. Sure enough the whole office will be in full swing by songs end.

Fun is an indie power pop band based out of NYC. Formed when The Format split up, Nate Ross quickly asked Andrew Dost of Anathollo, and Jack Antonoff of Steel Train to join him in a new project. They did and Fun was formed. You can see and here more from the band on their website, Myspace page and Facebook page.

"Aint That a Kick in the Head" – George Ides
From the album Ol' Brown Eyes Is Here Vol 2
Click here to listen to the MP3, right-click to save.

I've always thought the idea of keeping within the confines of a specific genre kind of stupid. My favorite artists are the ones who easily blend through a variety of genres. Whether it is Johnny Cash covering Nine Inch Nails or the Grateful Dead singing Waylon Jennings, I love to hear an artist dipping their quill into a variety of sounds. Likewise as a fan I can never stick to a single genre or type of music. I enjoy a wide variety of songs and styles from bluegrass to jazz, indie-rock to a Capella.

That's a round-about way to say I've got a soft spot for the old crooners and standards. My clothes may declare my allegiance to indie-rock but my heart often calls out for Dean Martin, Sammy David, Jr, and Frank Sinatra. George Ides's understands this all too well.

Ides' version of "Aint That a Kick in the Head" won't take the place of Dead Martin singing that standard, but you might find it adds a little variety to the songs you've heard a million times. He's got a nice, sly voice and the horns round the song out with a beat and a kick.

George Ides has released two albums now featuring his covers of a lot of classics and standards from such greats as Sinatra, Elvis, and even Neil Diamond. You can hears some of those songs, and learn more about the artist at his website.

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About Mat Brewster

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    welcome back

  • http://www.themidnightcafe.org Mat Brewster

    Thanks to both of you.