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Radio Free MP3: The Black Hand Gang, Band Of Heathens, The Len Price 3, & Lucy Schwartz

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"Bricks & Mortar" – The Black Hand Gang
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"Bricks & Mortar" starts like a Robert Plant solo record, quickly morphs into Black Sabbath-lite and ends with a wail as haunting as anything you'll hear this side of Transylvania. It grabs you from the start, rings your neck and asks you to come back for me. Which you'll likely do, its so good.

Hailing from the gritty streets of Glasgow, the Black Hand Gang conjure images of raunchy passion but with a light-hearted touch, capable of a buoyant, bounce-filled riffs.

They have a new EP out April 10. You can learn more and stream tracks at their Myspace page.

"Shine A Light" – Band of Heathens
From the album One Foot in the Ether
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Sounding like a bunch of drunks stumbling around the basement of a Baptist church, the Band of Heathens sloppily bust out the tune like the end of a long bender. And it totally works. Carving through the musical landscape of the Rolling Stones, Credence Clearwater Revival, Leon Russell, and the Black Crowes, this Austin, TX-based band creates a place of their own that's forged in the roots of others. Equal parts blues, folk, classic rock and gospel "Shine a Light" wouldn't sound out of place at a gospel meeting or a back yard bar-b-que courtesy of the local bar.

Band of Heathens formed organically with their three principal songwriters (Colin Brooks, Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist) sharing a bill on regular nights at Austin's Momos. Initially they wrote and performed their own songs, but as time progressed they began performing and writing together and the band was formed. They got their moniker from a misprint in the paper and their sound from all over the country.

Their latest album, One Foot in the Ether is out now. Check our their website, Myspace page, and on tour.

"After Your Gone" – The Len Price 3
From the album Pictures
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It probably won't be taken kindly by the band or the fans, but listening to "After Your Gone" reminds me a great deal of the fictional band The Wonders from that Tom Hanks movie That Thing You Do. It has this wonderful early bubblegum pop feel to it, only with a slight edge. You can almost see the screaming teenagers in the background.

Really, that is all meant complimentary. There's something magic about a catchy pop ditty. Three minutes of pop bliss is still three more than we often find in our dreary days and is something to hope for. There's a bit of bite to this one too, like a Red Hot mixed in with the cotton candy. Delicious!

There's not actually a dude named Len Price in the Len Price 3, but it is a trio and they all hail from the UK and make jangly, garage pop. It's not wonder they've been signed to Mr. Underground Stevie Van Zandt's Wicked Cool label. The new album, Pictures just hit the streets this week. You can hear more of the Len Price 3 at their Myspace page.

"Help Me! Help Me! Help Me!" – Lucy Schwartz
From the album Help Me! Help Me! Help Me!
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Sounding something like a cross between Regina Spektor's "Fidelity" and the Beatles "All You Need is Love" Lucy Schwartz's "Help Me! Help Me! Help Me!" is a jingly jangly eclectic joy to hear. Starting with a dislodging percussive beat and a plaintive vocal the song twists into a go-go dance mixed with changing rhythms and carnival horns. In just under three minutes Ms. Schwartz goes from nobody I ever heard of to somebody I'm definitely keeping a watch out for.

In truth I probably have heard her, or at least her songs before since she's written music for, or songs that played in such movies as The Women, Mother and Child and such television shows as Grey's Anatomy, ER, Private Practice, and Cashmere Mafia.

The new album comes out January 26. You can hear more songs from it at her Myspace page.

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About Mat Brewster