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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!