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Album Spotlight: Christmas Carnage Vol. 1

NOTE: This download is no longer available.

Hey there! With Christmas now past, I guess it is time to start posting about free music of the non-Christmas variety again. If you decided to check out some of the Christmas music I posted about in the last month and a half, I hope you enjoyed at least some of it; if not, then thanks for your patience in the meantime. I've had a great time discovering free music this past year and helping to make it available to people who might not have otherwise discovered it, so it's nice to be back here again.

Oddly enough, though this is my first post on this blog after Christmas, it was one of my "free Christmas music" searches that initially caught this offering, and no wonder - the compilation is called Christmas Carnage Vol. 1 and the cover art features a skull wearing a Santa hat. At first I thought that this would be a collection of Christmas songs done metal style, but a quick look at the track listing revealed otherwise. Rather than being a compilation of Christmas songs, this is a Christmas gift of a compilation of metal songs from artists on the Indie Recordings label - and a pretty cool one at that. Here's the catch, though: it's only available for a few more days - until January 1, 2009, to be exact. So this post will be a slight departure from my usual style - instead of offering a detailed review of the album, I'll just point you to the website so that you can download it yourself.

With 14 tracks clocking in at nearly 80 minutes, Christmas Carnage Vol. 1 is an excellent compilation of independent metal with a good range of styles - much of it is quite heavy, as you would expect, but there are also some mellower moments and some progressive moments that add a nice variety to the album. The entire compilation can be downloaded either as MP3's or a lossless format (not sure which one, as I went for the MP3's) and includes full artwork for a CD jewel case should you decide to burn your own copy. Check it out, and happy listening!



Free Christmas music

Those of you who have poked around the links on this blog enough may know that I also maintain another blog and a website dedicated solely to free Christmas music.  If you haven't visited any of those sites, now would be a great time to do so.  Since I only really update them during November and December, the blog tends to get updated far more frequently than this one does.  I've posted about a lot of great music there and I still have plenty more to go before Christmas, so if you've been looking for a free music fix lately, please go check it out!

I just added a little gadget to this blog that will display the last few posts from the Free Christmas Music blog near the top of the page; if you're reading this in an email or a feed reader, check out the blog's homepage to see it.

I hope you all have a very merry Christmas filled with great music and anything else you want, and I promise to be back here as soon as possible with more great, free music for you!



Artist Spotlight: The Main Drag

As a big fan of both music and video games, the Rock Band series of video games by Harmonix is something that I naturally gravitate towards. I love having the chance to sing songs by many of my favourite artists. In addition to hit songs spanning the last four decades of music, the games also feature a number of "bonus tracks", most of which are from bands formed by Harmonix employees or from bands near Harmonix's headquarters in Massachusetts. One of the bonus tracks in Rock Band 2 is "A Jagged Gorgeous Winter" by The Main Drag.

A few of my coworkers and I have fallen in love with this song after having played it a few times, so I decided to look up The Main Drag to check out some more of their music. To my surprise, they actually have several tracks that can be downloaded for free, which I naturally checked out. Based on what I've heard so far, The Main Drag is a band that seems to defy categorization, but I absolutely love what I've heard so far. Their mixture of electronic, electric, and acoustic elements creates a very fresh sound that is quite unlike anything I have ever heard before.

3 songs are currently available on the band's website at RPL Audio (with a promise of more to come), including the RB2 Remix of "A Jagged Gorgeous Winter". This song is currently one of my favourites. The lyrics evoke beautiful imagery of my favourite time of year, and are a perfect fit for the upbeat, frosty sounding music. Also currently available here are a cover of LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends", which features some very nice guitar work and goes through a few changes in its 7+ minutes, and "Love During Wartime", which has music that sounds like a quieter, darker version of "A Jagged Gorgeous Winter". It seems that there are 2 slightly different versions of this website, differentiated only by an underscore in the URL; the other one can be found here. I'm not sure why this is so, but in any case, the latter version features a newly recorded song called "Falling Forwards".

3 more songs can be found on the band's iLike page. Of these, I really like "Consequence", which is a beautiful acoustic guitar and piano-driven ballad, and "I'll Drink to That", a waltz with an upbeat, bouncy Beatles feel to it. "North Shore, Music Therapist" features some very nice dynamics and a dramatic feel that seems to be present in many of these songs.

That's all I've managed to find from this band so far, but it has certainly whetted my appetite for more. The Main Drag is a band that should be heard by anyone who loves music that is dynamic, carefully crafted, and thought provoking. I would highly recommend checking each of these sites so that you can hear this excellent music for yourself. Happy listening!



Halloween Treat Bag

Okay, it turns out that I have more Halloween music than I have time to post about, so I have decided to round up some of my favourites into one big post. If you still haven't found any good music for your Halloween activities, or you are just looking for some more, I hope that this helps you to find what you're looking for.

First up is an EP that I originally spotlighted back in the spring: Nine Inch Nails' Ghosts I. This first part of the quadruple EP Ghosts I-IV is available to download for free and consists of 9 instrumental tracks that range from haunting and beautiful to loud and noisy. While not Halloween music per se, ghosts are such a common theme at this time of year that this release is nonetheless very appropriate.

Next, we'll stop by for Februus' cover of "This is Halloween", originally from Tim Burton's 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas. To me, this sounds like a great cross between the original version from the movie and Marilyn Manson's cover version from the bonus disc of the 2006 reissue of the soundtrack: the instrumentation is a gothic metal style much like Manson's version, but the variety of voices in the vocals is much more like the ensemble style of the original.

Our next stop will be Jonathan Coulton's website for a pair of songs. "Creepy Doll" is a song inspired by "various 70s horror movies that scared the hell out of [him] when [he] was a kid," and "Skullcrusher Mountain" takes us to the secret lair of a misunderstood evil genius. You'll probably meet his half-pony, half-monkey monster and his hungry wolves along the way, if his doomsday squad doesn't ignite the atmosphere first. Like most of Coulton's songs, these two are a lot of fun to listen to, so if you like what you hear, I would highly recommend checking out some more of his songs - a lot of them can be downloaded for free.

Mary Shelley Overdrive is another band that I have discovered thanks to the Free Metal Albums blog. They have two Halloween-themed EPs available from their blog: Shock Theatre and Bride of Shock Theatre (download links can be found in the right sidebar of their blog). I was initially drawn to these releases for the covers of Rob Zombie's "House of 1000 Corpses" and Blue Öyster Cult's "Godzilla", and after a couple of listens their version of The Misfits' "Halloween" quickly became another favourite of mine. I love the movie samples that are sprinkled throughout many of the songs. Most of the music has a punk or metal feel to it, and much of it is rather noisy, but it could make a great soundtrack for whatever you're doing this Halloween.

Ondrej Kapov De Triste's Creeps Theme is a short but very sweet release featuring the opening and closing themes for a horror movie. There is some wonderful potential here and I would love to hear what this artist could come up with for a full film score; for now, please enjoy "Emotion" and "Emotioncreep" this Halloween.

As a bonus treat, why not help yourself to some free Smashing Pumpkins music, perhaps to listen to whilst carving jack-o'-lanterns? Hundreds of their live recordings, spanning nearly two decades, are available from the Internet Archive. The Smashing Pumpkins were also one of the first artists I featured on this blog for their freely available studio album Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music, which makes for an excellent listen at any time.

I hope that these last few posts have helped you to find some good music to listen to this Halloween. If you've found anything cool here or elsewhere, I'd love to hear about it in the comments. Have a safe and Happy Halloween, and Happy Listening!



Album Spotlight: Silber Sounds of Halloween

Are you all ready for Halloween yet? Need some spooky music to help set the mood for whatever you'll be doing? Then Silber Sounds of Halloween, a free compilation from indie record label Silber, may be just what you're looking for. Much like the previously mentioned Calling All Fiends compilation, this is a collection of offbeat, cool, and often very creepy music that is great for establishing a Halloween mood.

The album opens with a beautifully haunting, almost Pink Floyd-like song called "The Dreaming Body" by Lycia, and is then immediately followed up with "Dawn of the Dead", a hip hop song by Peter Aldrich. This abrupt shift in styles in the first two songs alone is very indicative of the album as a whole: this compilation is not restricted to any one genre or style; you will find quiet atmospheric music, heavy metal, post rock, soundcapes, and a number of other genres. With such a broad range of styles represented, there will very likely be something that will interest you, and maybe you will find a new favourite band to follow.

A few of my personal favourites from the compilation are Rachel Goldstar's dreamy "Amsterdam"; The Wades' "Sídhe", a haunting track full of screams and whispers, all played over a slow metal groove that would not sound out of place on an old Black Sabbath album; and Cam Butler's "Does Your River Run Deep", a classical/rock hybrid which has an awesome groove. But with 30 songs and over 2 hours of music, I find myself discovering new things to like about the album every time I listen to it, and I am really looking forward to checking out some more work by many of these artists.

More information about Silber Sounds of Halloween, including links to many of the artists' own websites, can be found on the Silber Records site. The compilation itself can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Check it out, see what songs work for you, have fun listening to it, have a safe and Happy Halloween, and happy listening!



Halloween Special: Album Spotlight - Calling All Fiends

I think this is a good time to start sharing some Halloween music that I've found recently. I've found some pretty cool music and I'll try to post about as much of it as I can.  The first one I'd like to mention is a fantastic compilation from Oddio Overplay called Calling All Fiends. The premise of this compilation was to create Halloween music that is "frightening, damaging and disturbing", as an alternative to the more popular novelty songs like "Monster Mash" that typically get played at this time of year.

After a couple of listens, I would say that they certainly succeeded. This is not the kind of music I would play for my kids, thanks in no small part to all the screams, backward vocals, strange sound effects, and just plain startling and unsettling moments found throughout the album's 31 songs. However, those very qualities make it absolutely perfect for use as background music for a Halloween party, while handing out treats on Halloween, or just if you enjoy being scared and want something to help get you in the mood for Halloween.

There is a great amount of variety to be found among the songs. A quick look at the track listing on the website reveals that the album is broken up into 3 parts, each carrying its own cautionary description: the first, which encompasses more than half of the songs, is Cinematic, Soundscapes, "frightening works [which] draw the imagination into dangerous territory, risking paranoid madness"; the second, consisting of 6 songs, is Rock, Dance, "ghoulish songs [that] steal control of your body, leaving you a helpless dancing zombie"; the remaining songs are Fiendish Songs, "disturbing tunes [that] open doors into your own terrors, causing nightmares and nervous disorders."

With so many songs all fitting into such broad categories, everyone is bound to have their own favourites. Some of mine include Bureaucratica's "Southern Gothic", which is a great little story set to music that is reminiscent of Steve Earle at his very darkest; Nigel Simmons' "Devil's Candy Shop", which feels like it could be film score music; Sublinear's "Fragility", which has an excellent beat; and Jeffrey Letterly's "The Story of the Stairs", which creates a wonderfully tense atmosphere. Splogman's "Metempsychosis" deserves special mention for being perhaps the most unsettling track on the album - I find the ending of it extremely chilling.

The website for the compilation has a ton of information about both the compilation itself and the artists on it, including website links, which makes this a great way to get introduced to some new artists. It's nice to see how much care has been put into assembling this compilation.

If you're looking for Halloween music that is a little different (and perhaps a little scarier) than you're used to hearing, then Calling All Fiends may be the perfect thing for you. Go check it out, have a Happy Halloween, and happy listening as well!



Album Spotlight: Duff McKagan's Loaded - Dark Days

Lately, there has been quite a bit of attention given to Guns N' Roses. The video game Rock Band 2, which was released for the XBox 360 last month, features "Shackler's Revenge" as a playable track; this was the first time in nearly a decade that new Guns N' Roses music was officially released. The movie Body of Lies, which was just released last week, features another new song called "If the World" during its closing credits. And perhaps the biggest GNR-related news of all was the announcement last week that Chinese Democracy, the band's first album since 1993's cover album "The Spaghetti Incident?", will be released on November 23, 2008 - incidentally, this will be exactly fifteen years since "The Spaghetti Incident?" was released.

A lot has happened in those fifteen years. For one thing, the only remaining original member in Guns N' Roses is Axl Rose. The other members have long since gone their own ways and have been keeping themselves pretty busy. Take bassist Duff McKagan, for example: since leaving Guns N' Roses, McKagan has continued to find success as the bassist for Velvet Revolver. That is far from the only band he has been involved in, however. A few weeks ago, one of my favourite blogs, Free Metal Albums, posted a link to an album called Dark Days by Duff McKagan's Loaded. As a longtime GNR fan, I naturally was very curious about this album, so I decided to check it out.

I was very pleasantly surprised with what I heard. Dark Days has a sound that is strongly reminiscent of old Guns N' Roses, which is mainly rock and roll with a good dose of punk rock. Unlike his role in bands like GNR and Velvet Revolver, Duff actually takes center stage in Loaded, singing and playing bass, rhythm guitar, and piano; think of some of the songs that Duff sang lead vocals for on "The Spaghetti Incident?", like "New Rose" and "Raw Power", for an idea of what to expect. But Dark Days is far from being a rehash of old GNR ideas - songs like "Criminal" and "Misery" feature added instrumentation in the form of strings and piano, respectively, which really add a lot of depth to the sound. "Want To" has an amazing outro, and "Shallow" sounds at times like a dark version of The Rolling Stones' "Time Is On My Side". Album closer "Your Way" has a dark, keyboard-driven sound that is reminiscent of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter".  The entire album has a surprising  amount of depth, and I find myself hearing new things everytime I listen to it.

Whether you're a long time Guns N' Roses fan, a newcomer to the band, or just someone who likes to hear a good, hard rocking record every once in a while, I can't recommend Dark Days highly enough. It makes for some great music to listen to while we count down the remaining few weeks to one of the most highly anticipated albums of all time. If you are at all intrigued by any of this, please head over to the Loaded page at Idol Management to download a free copy of Dark Days.

Happy listening!



Album Spotlight: Marillion - Happiness is the Road

My interest in Marillion began about ten years ago, and they very quickly became one of my favourite bands. But as much as I love them, I have to admit that I haven't actually kept up with them lately: the last album I actually purchased was the special edition of 2001's Anoraknophobia, and while I have heard the bulk of their recent material, it hasn't yet found a place in my CD collection. Part of the reason for that is the fact that it been very difficult, if not impossible, to find their albums where I have lived, leaving rather expensive special orders as the only option for obtaining them.

Imagine my surprise and delight, then, when I learned of the innovative way in which Marillion have made their latest album available. The official release date for Happiness is the Road is October 20, 2008, but a digital copy of the album has been available for free from for the last nearly a month now; all that is required to obtain the tracks is an email address. Marillion have essentially leaked the album themselves, but in a manner that gives them much more control than they would have over a normal leak - videos and messages embedded within the files themselves let the listener know about the hard work that went into making this music, direct them to the band's website, and urge them to support the band in any way they can. For a band that has become known for making bold moves (for example, being one of the first bands to utilize the power of the Internet to communicate directly with their fans, and funding the recording of their last few albums from fan pre-orders), this one seems to be exceptionally bold indeed, and it will take some time before its impact will be fully known. At the very least, it has allowed new Marillion music to find itself in heavy rotation in my playlists for the first time in years, and I am doing my part to let others know about it as well.

So, how about the music? I think that anyone familiar with at least some of Marillion's music will feel quite comfortable listening to Happiness is the Road, and anyone who hasn't heard them before may find themselves pleasantly surprised by it. Of the two discs, I have found the first (titled Volume 1: Essence) to be more immediately accessible than the second (titled Volume 2: The Hard Shoulder), although the latter has been growing on me after repeated listens. Some of my favourite songs from Essence are "This Train Is My Life", which has a classic mini-epic sound reminiscent of past Marillion songs like "Afraid of Sunlight"; "Woke Up", which has a beautiful, slow, dreamy sound with gorgeous layered vocals; "Liquidity", a short but very pretty piano-based instrumental; and "Wrapped Up in Time", which has a beautiful, chilled out feel to it. The Hard Shoulder has a pair of excellent pop songs in "Half the World" and the first single, "Whatever is Wrong with You" and an excellent, epic outro in "Real Tears for Sale".

Overall, I am very pleased with Happiness is the Road. It's wonderful to hear some new music from one of my favourite bands, and it's exciting to see that the band is trying new things in order to reach new fans and reconnect with old fans. I can't recommend this album highly enough, so if you're still reading this, I would urge you to head on over to and begin downloading, as it will take some time to obtain all of the tracks. If you like what you hear, then please support the band in any way that you can, whether that means buying a physical copy of the album, buying a concert ticket, helping them to reach more potential fans, or whatever else you can do. Please leave a comment here if you feel so inclined, as I would love to know what people think of this music.

Happy listening!



Artist Spotlight: Brad Sucks

First of all, welcome back to Totally Free Music.  I pretty much took the summer off from blogging, but I'm hoping to get back to a more regular posting routine like I used to have.  I've still been listening to lots of great, free music, so there will never be a shortage of things to write about; the tricky part is finding time to write about it all.

Today I would like to feature an incredible source of free music. I find it incredible for a number of reasons: the quality, the variety, and the fact that it is all created by one man, Brad Turcotte, a.k.a. Brad Sucks, a.k.a. "a one man band with no fans."

The first thing I would recommend is downloading a copy of Brad's first album, I Don't Know What I'm Doing. The album starts off with the thumping, high energy dance beat of "Making Me Nervous", which gives way to the grungy "Look and Feel Years Younger". The mellower, acoustic-based "Fixing My Brain" is next, followed by the more aggressive "Bad Attraction", which finds Brad stepping out of his usual low-pitched vocals into a higher-pitched, Kurt Cobain-esque scream. The fact that the first four songs of the album are so different from one another is a tribute to Brad's undeniable talent, as he has taken elements from a variety of different genres and shown that he is equally at home with all of them.

The same level of quality is maintained throughout the entire album, and the variety makes every song a highlight in its own right. There is more acoustic-based rock in songs like "Sick as a Dog", "I Think I Started a Trend", and "Dirtbag" (which features an awesome, chilled-out coda); more energetic dance-infused rock in "Never Get Out" (which, along with "Making Me Nervous", has become a mainstay in my "biking" playlist on my cell phone, which I use to listen to music while I am cycling to and from work, and only gets populated with the most adrenaline-pumping songs I own); and a beautiful ballad in "Overreacting", which features an excellent guitar solo.

The songs are all expertly produced, with all of the instruments sounding very clean and crisp. A highlight of every song is the vocals, which are all multi-tracked, giving them a very distict sound and giving the entire album a very cohesive feel.

As great as I Don't Know What I'm Doing is, it is only the tip of the iceberg as far as Brad Sucks is concerned. Brad has been cool enough to make the source audio files for the entire album available, meaning that anyone is free to remix it or do whatever they would like with it. You can find dozens of remixes at, and Brad has taken his favourite remixes and made them available in the I Don't Know What I'm Doing Remixed compilation.  The source files themselves are available at

Even more music can be had by becoming a Brad Sucks Best Friend Forever. This will get you access to the Brad Sucks BFF message forum, as well as a selection of demos, remixes, covers, collaborations, and other "miscellaneous things of dubious quality." Again, it's all free, so you have absolutely nothing to lose (and, in my opinion, a whole lot to gain) by signing up. One of my favourite songs available in the BFF section is Brad's collaboration with nerdcore hip hop pioneer MC Frontalot, "Livin' at the Corner of Dude & Catastrophe"; avid Rock Band players may recognize this song, as it was released as downloadable content for that game just a couple of weeks ago, and has become one of my favourite songs to sing.  Hopefully it won't be the last Brad Sucks song available for that platform.

This post has been LONG overdue - in fact, I've been editing it on and off since the spring.  One of the things that prompted me to finally finish it was the release of Brad's second album, Out of It, just last Monday. I downloaded it the morning it was available, transferred it to my USB key so I could listen to it at work (since I don't have access to the internets at work), and... managed to forget to bring my USB key that day. The next day, however, I did remember, and Out of It has been in regular rotation in my work playlists ever since. I haven't had as much time to absorb the new album as I have his other material, but after a few days I have been very impressed with it. Out of It seems to take the best aspects of I Don't Know What I'm Doing and bring them to the next level; I have noticed a tighter integration between the acoustic, electric, and electronic aspects of the music, and the vocals are awesome as always. Some of my early favourites include the grungy "Fake It" (which was available as a pre-release single for a few weeks), the upbeat acoustic rocker "Bad Sign", and the beautiful ballad "Gasoline", which features a stunning, extended instrumental outro with some gorgeous keyboard sounds.

According to the web page for Out of It, the album has taken a "long, long, long" time to complete; having only discovered Brad's music earlier this year, I haven't had to wait too long for it, but it sounds so good that I have to believe it would be worth the wait no matter how long it's been. I wish Brad every success with this album, and I hope that it allows him to continue making awesome music for a long time to come.

Happy listening!



[Guest Post] Artist Spotlight: Metallica

The following is a very special guest post from my brother, Mike, who has kindly written up a few posts for me to use when I don't have a lot of time for blogging.

Whether you’re a Metallica fan, a former Napster junkie, or a keen observer of the music industry, you’re probably familiar with Metallica’s Napster lawsuits. In a nutshell, Metallica found out that people were stealing their songs via Napster, then proceeded to take legal action against both Napster and their own fans. And then the music world crucified them.

So for Metallica to offer free music on is quite a miracle! And 17 full shows, not just a few songs! What’s the catch? None, really. You have to sign up for a free account with, and then you’re free to download the free shows categorized under “The Vault.” Not sure why these shows were picked to be free, other than the fact that songs occasionally cut out early or start halfway through.

But who needs 17 free, Metallica concerts of varying sound quality? Well, probably no one. So unless you just want to go gung-ho and download all 17, I’ll just tell you about the ones I have downloaded and why.

1. San Francisco, October 18, 1982. The mix is all over the place, and James sounds like a 13-year-old girl sometimes. So why get this one? Well, for one thing, this features Dave Mustaine (!) on lead guitar, as undermixed as he may be in several songs. The following April he was kicked out and started Megadeth. For another thing, you get a good selection of Kill ‘em All tunes back when they were really new. Plus you get James’ incredibly stupid stage banter. I won’t spoil it, but it’s really childish, funny, repetitive, and often METAL to the core.

2. San Francisco, March 15th, 1985. Other than a few tuning problems, this is a good recording from the Ride the Lightning era, which many consider to be the defining Metallica period. James' vocals are more mature, and Cliff's "hungry grizzly bear" backup vocals in several songs are quite the spectacle. For a young Metallica at the very beginning of metal greatness, this show is a must.

3. Austin, TX, February 3, 1989. This is from the …And Justice for All tour. Metallica were poised to become kings of the music world within just a few years. There's much more confidence from the entire band onstage, and they were also learning how to control their tempos as well. James introduces bassist Jason Newstead as "Jason Newkid," of course, marking the beginning of a 14-year hazing period. This show is an excellent performance that stands midway between the "old" Metallica and the "new" Metallica of the 90's.

4. Middletown, NY, June 17, 1994. Metallica on top of the world, before their fans abandoned them the following year with the Load album. Truly “live album” quality with five great tunes from the Metallica album. Also essential for a really neat Kill ‘em All / Ride the Lightning medley. Metallica was a well-oiled and very professional metal machine at this point.

5. Orlando, FL, July 13, 2003. St. Anger tour this time. Virtually identical in many respects to the NY show, but this time with Robert Trujillo on bass, the third great bassist in a row for Metallica. Also features two songs (!?) from the grossly underrated and overhated St. Anger album and one (!?) from Load/Reload. Wish they could have played more!

So there you have it. Take my suggestions or make your own choices. The above five shows span every major era and lineup of Metallica. I don’t know about you, but I sure am looking forward to downloading the next Metallica album illegally on Limewire (kidding!).

1. Official website:
2. Live Metallica:

Thanks, Mike! Those are some awesome picks. I had already downloaded a few of those shows, but I went back and downloaded the other ones you mentioned and have been really enjoying them. The only show I downloaded that wasn't mentioned here is the August 23, 1995 show from London, UK, which I think is pretty special because it features some Load/ReLoad songs performed nearly a year before Load was even released. "2X4" and "Devil's Dance" are both performed in their entirety, "Better Than You" is jammed on a little bit, and "Seek & Destroy" features an extended jam section that wanders deftly in and out of "The Outlaw Torn". Pretty cool stuff.


Album Spotlight: Nine Inch Nails - The Slip

Well, as promised in the last couple of singles that Nine Inch Nails released, heading to on May 5th yielded yet another great treat, this time in the form of a new album that is totally free to download. The Slip is the 27th official release from Nine Inch Nails (as you may already know, official Nine Inch Nails releases, including albums, EPs, and singles, have a Halo number assigned to them; The Slip is numbered as Halo 27) and was released on the website with the following message from Trent Reznor: "thank you for your continued and loyal support over the years - this one's on me."

After the ambient, haunting, all-instrumental Ghosts I-IV (which was only released 2 months ago), The Slip represents a return to more familiar sonic territory. All of the NIN trademarks are here: vocals that range from a barely-heard whisper to a full-on scream, frenetic drumbeats, pulsating synths, guitars that are sometimes distorted past the point of recognition, and beautiful piano lines underscoring it all. It's definitely not as adventurous as Ghosts was, but given Reznor's message, I think a more traditional sounding album was exactly what he was going for.

The poppier sound of With Teeth and Year Zero can still be heard in songs like "Discipline" and "Echoplex", both of which are among the strongest songs on the album. "Discpiline" has the same kind of dirty-disco sound that "The Hand That Feeds" had, making it danceable and totally rocking at the same time. "Echoplex" also brings The Fragile to mind, being somewhat mellower and more guitar-driven.

Some of the drum sounds on this album are also particularly noteworthy. I especially like the sound of the drums on "1,000,000" - I can't recall the drums on any NIN song ever sounding so alive, and since the song starts off with nothing but drums, it really grabs the listener's attention. The following song, "Letting You", has some of the fastest drumming I've ever heard on a Nine Inch Nails song; they sound more programmed than live, but they really contribute to the aggressive feel of the song.

The Slip's emotional centerpiece comes in the form of a suite of songs that starts with "Lights in the Sky", a quiet, piano-driven ballad with some of the most gut-wrenching lyrics Reznor has ever written. It leads smoothly into "Corona Radiata", a lengthy instrumental piece that has two distict parts to it. The first is somewhat ethereal sounding, with the main melody played on what sounds like a heavily muted and processed piano; the second is very dark and ominous, with droning guitars, rising and falling synthesizers, and lots of noise, ending with what sounds like a scream that gets silenced just as quickly as it began; I think there are perhaps still some Ghosts making their presence felt in this song, which is fine by me. Another instrumental piece, "The Four of Us Are Dying", follows, this time with more of a Fragile feel to it.

Also included with the download is a PDF with liner notes and artwork for every song. As I mentioned in my review of "Echoplex", the artwork is very intriguing and looks like it could be a part of something bigger. Perhaps most intriguingly, the artwork for "Letting You" includes an element from the Year Zero artwork - does this imply a relationship between the two, or is it just a cool symbol that Trent wanted to reuse? Whatever the case, it is clear that, even if he is cranking out new music ten times faster than he ever did before, he has put an enormous amount of thought and care into the preparation of this album.

All in all, The Slip is one of the nicest surprises I've received so far this year. It contains everything that I like about Nine Inch Nails and is a great reminder of why I love this artist so much in the first place. I can't recommend this album highly enough, so if you are at all interested, please go download a copy for yourself and let me know what you think. Happy listening!



Song Spotlight: Nine Inch Nails - "Echoplex"

Trent Reznor just doesn't stop. Less than two weeks after the release of the "Discipline" single, yesterday saw the release of another single called "Echoplex". Unlike the last few free Nine Inch Nails releases, this one was released on NIN's iLike page.

"Echoplex" is a farily upbeat sounding song, with a driving drum beat reminiscent of Year Zero's "The Beginning of the End" and "Survivalism". The guitar and bass are both very prominent, and at times the vocals remind me of the end of "Somewhat Damaged" from The Fragile. In other words, it has the Nine Inch Nails stamp all over it. If you're already a fan, this track will very likely appeal to you; if not, it probably won't do much to convince you otherwise (although stranger things have happened). I just feel that Trent has been on the biggest role of his career these last few years, and I have been thoroughly enjoying all of his output; "Echoplex" is no exception.

Like "Discipline", the "Echoplex" MP3 comes with embedded lyrics and artwork, as well as a comment stating "Go to May 5". The artwork for both songs also looks like it is a part of something larger; it really looks like another new Nine Inch Nails album is just over the horizon.

So while we're all waiting to see just what it is Mr. Reznor has planned for us on Monday, please go check out "Echoplex" for yourself. Happy listening!



Song Spotlight: Nine Inch Nails - "Discipline"

NOTE: The link in this post has been redirected to bring you to the download page for The Slip, the album which features "Discipline".

When I started this blog, I always intended to have 3 types of "spotlight" posts: artists, albums, and songs. There are plenty of artist spotlights by now, as well as a few album spotlights, but so far there have been no song spotlights. The only reason for that is the simple fact that each of my posts has always had more than a single song to spotlight. Leave it to Trent Reznor to change that.

Trent Reznor, the mastermind behind Nine Inch Nails, has been on an awesome creative spree in the last few years. Once known for taking half a decade or more between major releases, he has since released With Teeth in 2005, Year Zero (and its companion remix album, Y34RZ3R0R3MIX3D) in 2007, and the all-instrumental, quadruple EP Ghosts I-IV just last month. He has also begun to release a lot of material for free, a fact which has earned him a couple of spotlights on this blog already (an artist spotlight for his remix site, and an album spotlight for Ghosts I). His latest release is the single "Discipline", which was released to radio stations yesterday (just a day after being mastered), and uploaded to his website just a couple of hours ago.

Standing in stark contrast to the moody, ambient, and haunting (not to mention utterly beautiful) Ghosts material, "Discipline" has more of a classic Nine Inch Nails feel to it - a driving, danceable drum beat, pulsating synthesizers, distorted guitars and bass, layered vocals that range from whispers to screams to falsettos and everything in between, and a moody piano underscoring it all. I hear traces of songs like "The Beginning of the End" and "The Hand That Feeds" in this song, but it is definitely its own creature, and if Trent is working on something larger right now, then this is definitely a promising start.

The high quality MP3 comes complete with embeddeed lyrics and a comment that says "Go to May 5". The last time Mr. Reznor told us to check back on his site in 2 weeks was back in February, and that ended up being a reference to the surprise release of Ghosts I-IV. Could May 5 see the release of Year Zero Part 2? Ghosts V-VIII? Something completely different? Whatever the case, this is a great time to be a Nine Inch Nails fan. Thanks, Trent, for being such a great artist and giving us so much excellent music to listen to. Also, now that you've been featured on this blog as an artist, for an album, and for a song, congratulations on being the first Totally Free Music "triple crown" recipient; let me know if you want a certificate or something that you can keep next to your Grammys and multiplatinum albums. ;)

To anyone still reading this, I would highly recommend heading over to the Nine Inch Nails site to get some "Discipline". Happy Listening!



Artist Spotlight: Tribe

If you play the game Rock Band fairly regularly, then amongst all the classic and modern rock hits contained in the game, you may have come across a bonus track called "Outside" by Tribe. My coworkers and I happened upon it whilst playing the game during a break one day, and though we failed miserably during our first attempt to get through it, I was sufficiently intrigued by the song to seek out some more information about Tribe.

Knowing that many of the bonus tracks in the game were done by employees of Harmonix, the company that developed Rock Band (and also Guitar Hero), I was prepared not to find much about them; a download of "Outside" would honestly have satisfied me. What I found instead was a very pleasant surprise. The history of Tribe is an interesting one: they formed in the 1980s and released 3 albums in the 1990s, before disbanding in 1994. Three of the band members (Terri and Eric Brosius, who married after the band split up, and Greg LoPiccolo) entered the video game industry, eventually becoming founding members of Harmonix, which explains Tribe's presence in Rock Band.

Even more surprising, a LOT of Tribe's music can be downloaded for free from their fan site; these downloads are split into 2 pages: studio mp3's and live mp3's. Studios mp3's include their entire first album, Here at the Home (which is now out of print), their initial demos from 1987, the demos they were working on before disbanding in 1994, and some B-sides and alternate takes. Live mp3's include a few audience recordings (including their final show), a few radio broadcasts, and a collection of miscellaneous live tracks.

Here at the Home is an excellent album. "Outside" is an obvious highlight; with its delayed guitars, driving drum beat, and soaring vocals, it's probably the best song U2 never wrote for The Joshua Tree. Speaking of vocals, lead vocalist Janet LaValley consistently turns in captivating performances: a couple of other highlights are "Abort", which has her singing some Patti Smith-like phrases over an eclectic musical backdrop that fans of David Bowie would appreciate, and the rocker "Jakpot", which keeps building in intensity throughout.

The 1994 demos are also very good. "Shining Shining" and "Hope it's Not a Storm" are both quite beautiful, with the latter once again featuring LaValley's soaring vocals before adopting a somewhat heavier feeling near the end. "Dirigible" continues the heavy vibe, perhaps a reflection of the grunge and alternative rock movements that were popular at the time. Listening to these demos, it seems a real shame that Tribe split up before getting a chance to become more popular. 1994 saw some incredibly strong albums released by a number of artists (with my favourites from Dream Theater, Megadeth, Soundgarden, and Pink Floyd, and near-favourites from Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, and others all being released that year - seriously, was there something in the water that year?); on the strength of the demos, I think that Tribe's unfinished album could easily have been one of those albums.

On the live mp3 side of things, there are basically a few radio broadcasts and a few audience-recorded bootlegs. The quality of all of the full concerts is quite good - even the bootlegs sound very good to my ears. There is a wide selection of music from all of Tribe's albums (including the 1994 demos) on these recordings. The sound of the performances, and the way the audiences respond to them, give me the impression that Tribe would have been an awesome band to see live; for a great example, listen to the performance of "Jakpot" from their final show: the song is played with a ferocious intensity, and the crowd absolutely erupts with applause at the end of it. As the final song of that show, this unfortunately ended up being the last song they ever played live, but at least they went out with a huge bang. There are also a few unreleased tracks to be found amongst the live mp3s (and I don't just mean the songs from the 1994 demos). "Go", which can be found on a couple of the old radio broadcasts, is absolutely excellent, and "Stevie", from the 1988 radio broadcast, is a fun rocker to listen to.

Now that Rock Band has allowed Tribe's music (well, one song, anyway) to be heard by a wider audience than ever before, this would be a great time for the band to do something new. If any of the band members are reading this, how about it? Even something like a new single (and corresponding Rock Band downloadable content :D) would be awesome. To everyone else: if you enjoy Tribe's music and would like to hear something new from them, please leave a comment here so I can know how many people feel the same way about them; if you haven't heard much of Tribe's music yet, then I won't keep you waiting any longer - go now and check it out, then come back here and leave a comment if you like what you hear.

Happy listening!



Artist Spotlight: b-Shake

Sometimes when I'm searching for free music on a site like Jamendo, I look up the names of some of my favourite artists to see if there are any other artists making similar music. This can be kind of touch-and-go, as people often have very different ideas about what constitutes similarity when it comes to something as subjective as music. There are also cases where one artist sounds so derivative of another that there is no point in listening to them, as you're better off just listening to the original artist.

However, sometimes some real treasures can be found: artists that take a sound or a style that one is familiar with and manage to do their own thing with it. One such artist that I've recently come across is b-Shake, a Belgian trio lead by guitarist/vocalist Malik Alimoekhamedov. Their music is strongly reminiscent of Pearl Jam, who are one of my favourite bands. Their debut album, Our Future Begins Here, can be downloaded for free from Jamendo, and I would highly recommend it to any Pearl Jam fans who are looking for something new to listen while waiting for Pearl Jam's next album to be recorded.

The album roars out of the gate with "Insane", a driving hard rocker that would not sound out of place on Pearl Jam's Vs. The next track, "Superman", is a quieter, acoustic-based song about the need for heroes everywhere. "Hate is an Engine" is another hard rocker and is one of the highlights of the album. The rest of the album contains more melodic hard rock and acoustic passages, with "Wasting My Time" and "Behind the Walls" being a couple of other highlights. The entire album makes a great listen whenever I am in the mood for something rocking and energetic.

The future is bright indeed if it is in the hands of talented bands like b-Shake. They are currently working on a new album, which should be available later this year. In the meantime, go check out Our Future Begins Here to get a taste of what b-Shake are capable of.

Happy listening!



Artist Spotlight: Bluebird Kid Clark

NOTE: this album may no longer be available for free, depending on where you live, since We7 changed their free download policy.
It's been a terribly long time since my last post here, and I apologize for that. Writer's block is partially to blame; I must have started about half a dozen posts, all of which are in varying degrees of completeness. On the plus side, I have still been spending my time listening to lots of awesome, totally free music, so once I can get a few coherent posts together, you'll have some great new music of a variety of styles to enjoy.

Today I would like to feature a band I have been enjoying immensely for a while now. Bluebird Kid Clark are a new pop/rock group from Manchester. Their debut album, Bottom Dollar, is currently available for free from We7. This was the second album I downloaded from We7, and after listening to its catchy, infectious melodies for a month, I did not hesitate to download the ad-free version as soon as it became available.

The first time I heard the album, I was struck by how much it sounded like The Beatles. The songs are well-written, concise, and incredibly catchy. "Stuck in a Feeling" is probably the best example - a bouncy piano melody is soon joined by a similar guitar melody for the verses, during which the vocals and instruments take turns sharing the spotlight. The chorus features some gorgeous interplay between the lead and backing vocals, each of which are singing their own distinct but complementary lines. The entire song is so upbeat and happy sounding that it never fails to put a smile on my face.

After a few more listens to the album, I began noticing other sounds and styles. "Sun in the Morning" has the kind of country rock sound that was mainly popularized by The Eagles, as do the verses of "Ray of Sunshine", which then goes on to feature another Beatles-like chorus; the interplay between these distinctly American and British styles, and in particular the ease with which this band manages to pull both of them off, has to be heard to be believed.

Elsewhere, there are some beautiful ballads, including the acoustic guitar-based "Reassured" and the piano-based album closer "Rock and Roll". All of these styles combine to make Bottom Dollar a thoroughly refreshing and rewarding listen. Bluebird Kid Clark are obviously a very talented band to have created a debut album as strong as this. I wish them every success and I hope they go very far - I really want to hear a lot more music from them.

While I wait for more music from them, I will be more than happy to continue listening to Bottom Dollar. To hear the album for yourself, please head on over to We7 and check it out. Happy listening!



Album Spotlight: Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I

From what I can see, this has been all over the Internet since being announced on Sunday evening. In case you haven't heard about it elsewhere, though, I'll let you know here: Nine Inch Nails have released a new album entitled Ghosts I-IV. It is a double album, basically consisting of 4 EPs of instrumental music that was recorded over a 10 week period last fall. The entire album can be purchased directly from its website in a variety of formats, each with its own price. Most relevant to this blog, however, is the fact that Ghosts I can be downloaded for free.

So far, Ghosts I is the only part of the album I have heard, but I have been very impressed with it, and if the other three parts are anywhere near this good, then Ghosts could end up being a classic. After a couple of listens, what it reminds me of the most is The Fragile, Nine Inch Nails' last double album from 1999. There are lots of pianos and guitars, and overall it sounds much more organic than the last couple of Nine Inch Nails albums. Appropriately, much of the music sounds very atmospheric and haunting, but also absolutely beautiful.

As a bonus, the download also comes with an Extras folder, which includes a 40-page PDF booklet and a variety of beautiful images that can be used as desktop wallpaper, website banners, and forum avatars. It is clear that a lot of care has been put into this release.

So, whether you are a long time Nine Inch Nails fan, someone who has never heard of Nine Inch Nails, or anyone in between, I would highly recommend that you experience Ghosts for yourself. To order the album in any format (including the free download of Ghosts I), all you need to do is go to the Order page and follow the instructions.

Happy listening!



Artist Spotlight: baum

NOTE: this album may no longer be available for free, depending on where you live, since We7 changed their free download policy.

Last month, I made a post about We7, a unique site that provides free music with short ads attached to the beginning of each file. Since then, I have downloaded more albums from the site than I had initially anticipated. Since We7 makes it possible to download ad-free versions of 20 tracks per month, I have been recently been faced with having to decide which tracks I want to have ad-free versions of. One album that I didn't even have to hesitate about is Live at Kongresshaus Zurich by baum, which also happened to be the very first album I downloaded from the site.

Information about baum is pretty scarce, but from what I have been able to gather, he is a Swiss musician who used to be in a band called Outland, and for the last few years he has been performing and writing his own solo material. Live at Kongresshaus Zurich is the only release currently available from him, although he is currently at work on his debut album.

Live at Kongresshaus Zurich is a 7-song EP that was recorded when baum was opening for Van Morrison. The performances are absolutely riveting, and are a great example of just how powerful and dynamic music can be when it consists of nothing but acoustic guitar and vocals. "Valentine's Day", for example, starts off with quiet, subued verses, builds up into a powerful and uplifting chorus, and ends with a flourish that showcases baum's guitar skills. Those guitar skills are also on fine display in "Neverland", in which he manages to play a couple of complementary melodies simultaneously, all while singing over the top of it. "Center of Town" is another highlight, reminiscent of Eddie Vedder's solo material and featuring a great bridge. Finally, the bouncy, upbeat "Crow" allows baum a chance to show off his charisma as he manages to get the audience of 3000 people clapping along.

If Live at Kongresshaus Zurich is any indication, baum's upcoming debut album will definitely be one of the year's highlights. I don't know if any of these songs will be on it (I hope they will, as full-band versions would likely sound incredible), but I am very much looking forward to it. Please go download this EP (or at least listen to it on the site) and let me know what you think of this promising artist. Happy listening!

Note: in order to download Live at Kongresshaus Zurich, you will need to have a We7 account. In case you don't already have one, you may like to know that registration at We7 is completely free and enables you to download as much music as you want, as well as create your own playlist on the site. I also plan to feature more music from We7 in the near future, so if you are a regular reader of this blog and you generally like the music I feature here, I would highly recommend having your own We7 account.



Artist Spotlight: Marillion

Today I would like to feature a band that has been one of my favourites for more than ten years, and that has been around for much longer than that. Marillion got their start in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England in 1979. Through a few lineup changes (the most high-profile of which was the departure of original vocalist Fish in 1988 after 4 studio albums, with Steve Hogarth stepping on board to take over lead vocal duties), they have released 14 studio albums, numerous live albums, and are currently at work on their next studio album.

In Marillion's early years, their music was primarily progressive rock-based, drawing influence from bands like Genesis and Yes. With Hogarth, the band has managed to retain this core sound while also incorporating a more contemporary sound into their music, drawing comparisons to bands like Radiohead and Coldplay. No matter which album I listen to, I always find their music very melodic and emotional. Perhaps more than any other artist I know of, the words and music of Marillion are woven seamlessly together; a change in the dynamics of the music is reflected by a change in the tone of the lyrics, and vice versa.

The individual band members are all very talented at what they do. Steven Rothery is an exceptionally gifted guitarist with the ability to make his guitar sing, not unlike Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. Bassist Pete Trewavas and drummer Ian Mosley form an incredibly tight rhythm section, with the bass and drums often locked perfectly in time with each other. Keyboardist Mark Kelly is equally at home adding lush textures to songs and also taking the lead with virtuoso solos. And Fish and Hogarth, though like night and day compared to each other, have always provided emotional performances of thought-provoking lyrics. Taken all together, they are able to take listeners on an epic, emotional journey.

As far as free music is concerned, you won't find any complete albums available from Marillion like many of the other artists I feature on this blog. However, if you know where to look, then you can find a good sampling of their current music available for download, as well as a free sampler CD (as long as certain conditions are met - more on that in a bit). In this post, I've done most of the work for you and compiled links to a few sources for some great, free Marillion music.
  • First of all, take a look at the band's official MySpace page, where you can currently find a pair of tracks from each of their two latest albums: "Somewhere Else" and "Thankyou Whoever You Are" from 2007's Somewhere Else, and "You're Gone" and "Neverland" from 2004's Marbles.
  • Marillion's official website has a downloads page where you can download a couple of radio performances, which include acoustic versions of both older and newer songs.
  • currently hosts another handful of free Marillion tracks. These tracks come from a compilation called Crash Course, which is updated periodically with new tracks as the band releases new material. In addition to the songs listed above, Crash Course currently also contains "The Great Escape" (from 1994's concept album Brave), "Afraid of Sunlight" (the title track from their 1995 album), "Estonia" (an extremely emotional track from 1996's This Strange Engine, inspired by the sinking of the Estonia passenger ferry in 1994, a disaster which claimed 852 lives), "Fantastic Place" (from Marbles), and "Faith" (from Somewhere Else). You can also check the band's page to see if anything else is available (look for the words "full track" next to a song title).  (NOTE: the Crash Course download seems to have been moved to iLike)
  • Finally, if you are completely new to Marillion, then you may qualify for a free CD version of Crash Course. Just check out the Crash Course page on the official site, read the terms and conditions, and if you're able to receive one, just sign up for it. I've already received several things from Marillion's website, so I don't qualify for Crash Course, but it looks like it would be a good introduction to the band's newer material.

As great as these songs are, they really only scratch the surface of the world of Marillion. Like a lot of great bands, Marillion's music is best experienced in its original format, i.e. as complete albums, especially since many of their albums are conceptual in nature. If you like what you hear, I would highly suggest checking out an album or two. If you want some recommendations as to where to start, please leave a comment and I would be more than happy to help you out.

Happy listening!

URLs: (no longer free - try instead)


Artist Spotlight: The Kazoo Funk Orchestra

Today's featured artist is one that absolutely defies categorization. Seriously, I lack the vocabulary to even begin describing this band; a band that describes themselves (via the Genre tags in their MP3s) as Magical Lofi Pop Rock, Old School Hip Pop, Alt Pop, Boomshop Pop, Carnivale, Other, Half Assed Funk, Sushi Time Pop, Scuffle Rock, Dixie Yodel Pop, Moon Jazz Rock, Sodium Pop, Semi Circular Interchangable Improvisational Pop, Retro Moves, Melodica-Go-Go, Acousto Pop, Hump Rock, Hangman Pop, Old School Pop, Slap Dash, Melodic Plop, and Scotch & Frost Polka.

The band I'm talking about is called The Kazoo Funk Orchestra, and, as is likely already apparent, they are no ordinary band. Formed in 2005 in Glasgow, Scotland during a finger painting session attended by the group's chief songwriters (known as Little Beard and Big Beard), The Kazoo Funk Orchestra has been churning out a delightfully wacky blend of Beatles-like psychedelia, Beastie Boys-like hip hop, Iggy Pop-like punk, and Beck-like general insanity (all with more kazoos than one would have thought legally possible) ever since.

To date, they have released an album (Midnight Finger Painter) and an EP (Adventures in Fuzzy Felt Land), and are in the process of releasing their second full-length album, This Album is Self-Titled. The first two releases are available from their own website and also from Jamendo. The latter album is being released in a rather unique way: one song is made available for download every week; currently there are 21 songs available, with spaces for another 20 on the Music page. And in case you've been wondering, the songs on the new album are the source of most of those genres listed above; so far, each of the new songs has its own unique genre in its MP3 tag.

If I had to describe The Kazoo Funk Orchestra in one word, it would be "fun". Whenever I listen to them, I can usually be found with a big grin on my face. It's not often that one comes across music that is such a joy to listen to - which is why I'm going to end this post here so that you can head on over to the band's website and begin experiencing their music for yourself. Happy listening!

Special thanks to Ray for recommending The Kazoo Funk Orchestra to me in the first place.



Free your mind: the legality of free music

There is a scene in The Matrix where Neo, skeptical of Morpheus' attempts to teach him about the ways of the Matrix, says "I know what you're trying to do." Morpheus responds, "I am trying to free your mind, but I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it." Moments later, both men are standing on top of a tall building, and Morpheus turns to Neo and says "You have to let it all go, Neo. Fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind." With that, he takes off running and leaps into the air, landing neatly on top of the building across the street.

I've been spending some time on Yahoo! Answers lately, answering questions about free music and where and how to download it. I figure that with all the free music I have been able to find, I should be able to help others find it as well. After all, that is the purpose of this blog, but not everyone knows about this blog yet. I was also hoping that I might be able to find links to more free music resources that have been posted by others. What I found instead was shocking, sad, and more than a little disturbing.

In short, there are people who believe that downloading music for free is 100%, absolutely, unconditionally illegal. Not just a few people, either - there are a lot of people posting the same basic sentiment there. At first I just chalked this attitude up to ignorance. After all, all the websites I link to on this blog were found either through my own deliberate searching, recommendations from friends, family members, and kind strangers, or in chance posts and articles that I managed to happen across in my daily internet browsing; in short, I either had to work to find them, or they were brought to me by mere happenstance. If a person doesn't deliberately go out in search of free music, or if they're not lucky enough to have it recommended to them somehow, they're not going to know about it.

Then I started thinking about this a little more deeply. Sure, it is ignorance that would cause someone to say something like that; fortunately, ignorance is something that is easily cured by education. But what is the root cause of such ignorance? After thinking about it, I am left with two unfortunate conclusions:

1. Some or all of these people have been scared by the RIAA's campaigns of misinformation and are trying to help others not to make the "mistake" of downloading music for free and therefore running the risk of being prosecuted.
2. Some or all of these people are members of the RIAA, just doing their best to spread misinformation.

Okay. RIAA, misinformation, prosecution? At this point, I think it's a safe bet that you fall into one of two camps: either you are nodding your head (literally or figuratively) in agreement, or you are thinking something along the lines of "This guy just lost me. What is he talking about?" In either case, I hope you will keep reading and bear with me.

First of all, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). According to its website (which I will not link to here, as you won't find any free music there), it is the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry. Its members are the record companies that create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 90% of all legitimate sound recordings produced and sold in the United States. Unfortunately for the RIAA, the growth of the Internet over the last decade and a bit has made the RIAA increasingly irrelevant as people have found easier ways to obtain music and artists have found easier ways to distribute their music. Unfortunately for everyone else, the RIAA has responded to this paradigm shift not by changing their business model and trying to adapt to a changing marketplace, but by burying its head in the sand and pretending that nothing has changed... oh yeah, and filing lawsuits against individuals that download and share music. Looking at the FAQ on their website sickened me, as they really seem to believe that the way forward is by going back, and, of course, by filing lawsuits against people.

Naturally, some people are going to become scared by such actions. If they hear of other people like them getting sued, then what's to prevent the RIAA for coming after them as well? Downloading music must therefore be wrong, and everyone needs to be informed of this; a site like Yahoo! Answers would be a great place to let people know about the trouble they can get into by downloading music. That covers my first conclusion above.

As for the second conclusion, like I said, the RIAA's website is pretty sickening. We are dealing with an organization here who feels that the best way to prevent illegal sharing of copyrighted material is to sue the very people who could otherwise provide them with free publicity by spreading the word about the artists that they claim to represent. Is it really much of a stretch to think that they have employees whose sole job is to go online and spread misinformation in order to scare people into doing the right thing (with "right" being defined as whatever can bring them the most money)? I don't think so.

Wow, I think I am beginning to sound a little paranoid here. But remember, just because you aren't paranoid doesn't mean that they aren't out to get you. Also, I think I should perhaps clarify my stance a little here. I'm not saying that I think it's okay to freely distribute music that ought to be paid for. That's not something that I do myself, and I would not encourage anyone else to do it. But I also realize that there is nothing inherently illegal about downloading music for free, and until recently, I thought that something like this was common knowledge; it's just that one has to be careful about what they are downloading and ask themselves why it is free. Has anyone involved in the creation of said music authorized it to be downloaded for free? If so, then download away and tell everyone you know about it; if not, then perhaps it's not meant to be downloaded for free. Such a question is not always easily answered, and that is exactly where this blog comes in - any music that I link to from this blog is legally available for free because the artists who created the music have chosen to release it that way.

So go to Jamendo. Go to We7. Go to the Internet Archive. Check out the rest of the posts in this blog. Download some free music. Listen to it. If you like what you hear, support the artist in your own way: buy their CDs, buy some of their merchandise, make a donation to them, tell your friends, family, and anyone else about them, buy a ticket to their concert the next time they are playing near you; in short, do whatever you feel is appropriate and within your own budget to support deserving artists. But don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't get music for free, or that doing so is unconditionally wrong.

Ignorance may be bliss, but knowledge is power. Fight ignorance with knowledge. Free your mind. I've shown you the door, and I've even gone a step further and opened it for you. Whether you walk through it or not is up to you. I'm already on the other side, and I like the way it sounds over here.

URLs: (may no longer have free downloads depending on where you live) (Live Music Archive) (Netlabels)


Artist Spotlight: Steve ALLEN (Robert Pieculewicz)

I have a treat for fans of instrumental guitar rock today. Robert Pieculewicz, a guitarist from Poland, has recently made a couple of his albums available for free from Jamendo (where he is listed as Steve ALLEN (Robert Pieculewicz)). In case you are unfamiliar with the genre of instrumental guitar rock, I'll try to give a brief description of it here. It is literally an instrumental version of standard rock music; the verses, choruses, and bridges are all in the same places that they would be in a normal rock song, and all the instrumentation is the same, with one exception: lead guitar takes the place of the vocals. Often, this lead guitar is very melodic, leading to songs that can be sung or hummed along with.

Pieculewicz's music is very similar in style to that of Joe Satriani. If you like Joe Satriani, I would say that the chances that you will like Robert Pieculewicz are very high. And if you haven't heard any Joe Satriani, listening to Pieculewicz will give you a very good idea of what he sounds like. He has managed to emulate Satriani's style very closely, and yet still come up with material that is completely original and beautiful, especially in the case of songs like "Fly Free" and "Rain Ballad".

The albums that are available from Jamendo are Fly Free and Speed Limit, which were originally released in 1996 and 1998, respectively. A quick check of Pieculewicz's website shows that these are not the full versions of either album, but what they lack in quantity they more than make up for in quality. This man really knows his way around a fretboard, and seems equally at home playing blazing fast licks in songs like "Running with the Wind", and slower ballads like "Rain Ballad" and "Desert Rose".

I'm going to try something new with this post: Jamendo has the option to include a little album player widget so that an album can be listened to on any web page. At the bottom of this post are players for both of Robert Pieculewicz's albums. They should work if you have Flash installed; if for any reason they don't work, or if you really like or dislike this idea, please let me know by leaving a comment. I hope you enjoy this music, and I'll be back with more soon. Happy listening!

URLs: (Speed Limit) (Fly Free)



Free Music Resource: Jamendo

Jamendo is a site that offers free access to music that has been published with Creative Commons licences. For more information on Creative Commons (since it's really beyond the scope of this blog), please see the Creative Commons website; for the purpose of Jamendo, all you really need to know is that it allows you to download as much music as you want, freely and legally.

I find the entire interface and design of the Jamendo website to be very intuitive and user-friendly. Clicking on the Music tab yields a list of albums with thumbnails of the cover art; these albums can be sorted in a variety of ways, including popularity (overall, monthly, or weekly), latest releases, most downloaded, most listened to, and others. A list of tags on the right can be used to narrow down the list of albums; you can also search for tags if you don't see what you're looking for in the list. A general-purpose search box is also available; this will search through just about any text associated with an artist, album, or song and can be very useful if you are otherwise unable to find what you are looking for. Finally, a music player is available to listen to songs directly on the web page without having to download anything; I have found myself using the player to preview a track or 2 from an album, and if I like what I hear I just download the whole album. The entire website is also available in both French and English.

Everything I have described in the last paragraph should be availalble to anyone who visits Jamendo. Those who choose to register (for free) will also receive some additional benefits, including the ability to create playlists and select their favourite albums. The FAQ also makes mention of "additional services" for members, which will be announced in the coming weeks.

I have been actively using Jamendo for about a week now and have already been able to discover a ton of great music, which I will certainly be featuring on this blog as soon as I can find some words to write about it. In the meantime, why not head on over to Jamendo and begin discovering what it has to offer. If you come across any really great finds, please leave a comment here so that all of this blog's readers can check them out too.

Happy listening!



Artist Spotlight: Thumpermonkey Lives!

Who are these guys? They are awesome.

That's a direct quote from the notes I made whilst listening to some new music recently. Doing this blog has enabled me to hear all kinds of interesting music, and occasionally I discover an artist that really blows me away. In this case, "these guys" are Thumpermonkey (also known as Thumpermonkey Lives! on their latest releases - I'm not sure why the name changed), a British band that absolutely defies categorization. As of January 2, 2008, all of their music can be downloaded freely from the Internet Archive.

Their music is primarily progressive rock-based, twisting and turning its way through all kinds of tempo and time signature changes; where it will end up from one minute to the next is anyone's guess as you're taken on an epic journey through musical lands both familiar and unfamiliar. For example, I think that fans of Faith No More and Mr. Bungle will love this band; the vocals in particular show a strong Mike Patton influence, and the music has the same out of control, chaotic feeling that was often present in the music of those bands. "Shchrodinger's Cat Lives!", in particular, sounds like a mutated resurrection of Faith No More's "Surprise! You're Dead!" Other parts of the album remind me of Tool (the instrumental section in "Slug City"), Fates Warning (the main riff in "Asymptote", although it is much groovier than anything I've ever heard from Fates Warning), and Steve Vai (some harmonized guitars near the end of "My Reality is Stronger"). None of this is meant to say that the music is unoriginal in any way; I am merely trying to describe it in terms of music that I am familiar with so that people who are also familiar with those artists may have some idea of what to expect. Thumpermonkey Lives! have definitely managed to forge their own sound, which is something that's not always easy to do.

Bring Me Sun for Breakfast is the latest release from Thumpermonkey Lives!, and so far it is my favourite. But their older albums and EPs are well worth checking out as well, and it is amazing to hear how far they have progressed in such a short time. Links to all of their releases are included below. From what I've heard so far, Thumpermonkey Lives! will definitely be a band to watch out for; I'm already looking forward to hearing more from them. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Happy listening!

Hitchhikers May Be Escaping Inmates [EP - 2001]
Alpha Romeo [EP - 2003]
Pigheart [LP - 2004]
Chap With The Wings, Five Rounds Rapid [LP - 2006]
Bring Me Sun For Breakfast [LP - 2007]


Totally Free Music Index

As this blog grows in size, finding the best music to suit your own taste may become difficult. I have tried to make it easy to access things by providing links to a custom search engine, an archive, and a list of all the labels I use in the right sidebar. I thought it also might be a good idea to include an index of everything that has been posted so far, broken down into a few broad categories. I will try to keep this index updated as new posts are added.

I also maintain a list of the most popular content on this blog.  There you can see what posts have been popular over the last week, month, year, and of all-time.

Last updated: 2010-01-25



Another Version of the Truth (Nine Inch Nails)
Blessed are the Bonds (The Pax Cecilia)
The Butcher's Ballroom (Diablo Swing Orchestra)
Calling All Fiends (various artists)
Christmas Carnage Vol. 1 (various artists)
Dark Days (Duff McKagan's Loaded)
Don Giovanni (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
Forlorn Memories (Chris Tenz)
Ghosts I (Nine Inch Nails)
Inward Eye EP (Inward Eye)
Machina II (Smashing Pumpkins)
Machinarium Bonus EP
Musical Soup (Mozart for babies and toddlers)
NINJA 2009 Tour Sampler (various artsits)
Pirates of Thrash (Electrocute)
Silber Sounds of Halloween (various artists)


"1,320'" (Megadeth)
"A Rite of Passage" (Dream Theater) (no longer available for free download)
"All You Need is Love" (Grayson Matthews)
"Angel" (live from Lilith Fair) (Sarah McLachlan and Emmylou Harris)
"Beds Are Burning" (various artists)
"Child of the Night" (Trans-Siberian Orchestra)
"Creep" (Radiohead cover by Allison Crowe)
"Discipline" (Nine Inch Nails)
"Down the Road A Piece" (Moonalice)
"Earthquake Song" (video) (Melissa Pierre-Louis)
"Echoplex" (Nine Inch Nails)
"Going Home Tonight" (Allison Crowe)
"Head Crusher" (Megadeth) (no longer available for free download)
"It's All Right With Me" (Janet LaValley)
"Let Me Roll It" (Paul McCartney)
"Meat Free Monday" (Paul McCartney)
"My Apocalypse Intro" (Metallica)
"A Song for a Son" (Smashing Pumpkins)
"Speed of Sound" (Pearl Jam)
"Stairway to Heaven" (Led Zeppelin)
"Unwind" (Janet LaValley)
"Widow Wake My Mind" (Smashing Pumpkins)
"World of Goo Piano Medley" (Sebastian Wolff)

Free Music Resources

Microsoft Windows Sponsored Songs from ReverbNation (see a list of all the available songs here)