Fingertips Music Guide to betterPropaganda: May 07

Our collaboration with one of our favorite bloggers, Jeremy Schlosberg from Fingertips, continues. Start reading this months Top 5 recommendations and don't forget to check out Fingertips while you're at it for more in depth reviews.

1) "TV Reality" - Contramano
If David Byrne had been an Argentinian cellist rather than a geeky Ontario- and Maryland-raised art school dropout, Talking Heads might have sounded something like this. "TV Reality" centers around Pablo Cubarle's spiky cello playing, homely singing, and joyfully unexpected sense of melody. And maybe reality TV presents an easy target but if so, not nearly enough people are taking it on.

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2) "Everybody's Got Their Own Part to Play" - Shannon Wright
There's a distinct early '70s vibe in the air here, from the head-bobbing piano chords to the sing-song-y melody, but most of all, as I listen, what brings me back to that bygone time are the subtle John Lennon references I'm hearing in the music, the lyrics, and even in the echoey way her voice is slightly buried in the mix. It's easy for this compact song to whip by before it's quite sunken in; I suggest allowing a few listens for its various charms to emerge most clearly.

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3) "Every Single Line" - Marnie Stern
Almost uncomfortably angular in every way, from the jumpy, siren-like guitars to the staccato melody, and yet there's something here that makes me come back for more. You're not necessarily going to sing along to this one, but if you give it a chance you may begin to hear how the edgy parts add up to a satisfying whole, particularly as you take refuge in the distant elephant roar of the final guitar line.

4) "Screen Door" - Illinois
The brightly strummed acoustic guitars, the background chorus of answering voices (often saying "oo-oo-oo" or some such thing), and the music hall horns combine to give this one a stompy sort of old-fashioned cheerfulness. As do the lyrics: "Good-bye, oh my baby baby," and so forth. Even the synthesizer sounds old-fashioned. At a scant two minutes, the song may simply be too short for its own good, but there's always the repeat button.

5) "Broken Arm" - Winterpills
This one has the minor melancholy folk-rock tension of something from the '60s (Simon & Garfunkel? Mamas & Papas?), and I think the thing that really sticks with me is how the hook is, somehow, the first melodic line of the verse. Normally a pop song has to work up to its hook but this one starts with it: a simple descending melody that curls back up at the bottom. A parallel highlight is the interplay between the acoustic and electric guitar, the acoustic crisp and precise, the electric slurry and evasive. Nice work.

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