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Song Spotlight: Smashing Pumpkins - "A Song for a Son"

Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, the ambitious new Smashing Pumpkins album, has had the first of its 44 songs released.  As of December 8, 2009, "A Song for a Son" can be downloaded for free from the band's website.  I've been trying to figure out the best way of covering this album here; for example, do I post an album spotlight of the entire thing, 44 individual song spotlights, or something in between?  Since a lot depends on how the band itself decides to release the album, I'll just post about this song for now and figure out the rest of the details when I know more.  Given the amount of people who come to this blog looking for free Smashing Pumpkins music (my post about Machina II is the most popular single post on this site by a very wide margin), I think that's the best thing to do.

I really like "A Song for a Son".  Billy Corgan has stated that it has "the right epic quality to it that says, ‘OK, here we go on this massive journey!’"  I have to agree.  The song starts quietly, with piano, acoustic guitar, and what sounds like a Mellotron providing the backdrop for Corgan's vocals.  Later on, it moves into more progressive territory with layers of harmonized guitars.  If this is even a taste of what is to come, then the rest of the album is definitely something to look forward to.

You can download the song from the band's website.  They're using a widget that I will try to embed at the end of this post.  If you don't see anything there, then I guess it didn't work.  If you do see something there, please let me know what you think of it, as I generally like to keep my posts pretty plain, but if people find it useful (i.e. it makes it easier to download the music), perhaps I'll try things like that more often in the future.  Happy listening!



Song Spotlight: Paul McCartney - "Meat Free Monday"

One of my favourite moments on The Simpsons was when Paul and Linda McCartney showed up to support Lisa's efforts to become a vegetarian.  As Lisa was preparing to leave, Paul asked her if she would like to hear a song, to which she responded very enthusiastically.  Paul then handed things over to Apu, who began singing, rather terribly, "I'm Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Man, I hope I will enjoy my show."  At this point, Lisa began backing quietly away with a nervous (or was that terrified?) smile on her face.
Some 14 years later, Sir Paul himself has composed a song about vegetarianism called "Meat Free Monday".  Now, as I mentioned before, I'm not terribly familiar with McCartney's solo output, so I don't know if he's done this kind of thing before.  I'm pretty sure that he hasn't offered any songs about vegetarianism for free before, though.  Well, technically the song can be downloaded for making a donation to the Meat Free Monday campaign, but the site also includes a link to download the song without making a donation; how you obtain it is up to you.
"Meat Free Monday" is quite a fun song.  Musically, it reminds me of some Beatles songs like "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and "Octopus's Garden".  Lyrically, he's not going for anything terribly complicated, with lines like "Meat Free Monday, it's a fun day, and it's happenin' all around the world," but that actually works in the song's favour; by keeping things simple, the song takes on a certain charm, not unlike something you might hear from Sesame Street or Schoolhouse Rock!  No matter what your views on vegetarianism are, I think it's pretty hard to deny that this is a really catchy song.
To download "Meat Free Monday", you need to enter your email address in the widget, and the download link will be sent to the address you provide.  Happy listening!


Song Spotlight: Moonalice - "Down The Road A Piece"

Well, that was fast.  The second song from Moonalice's second studio album, "Down The Road A Piece", has been released.  Once again, it can be downloaded directly from the band's website in MP3 and FLAC formats.  The title of the album now seems to be Online Only. Only For Free., at least according to the tags in the MP3 file.
The song itself is a very cool blues-based boogie tune that features some awesome solos from the piano and guitar.  I hope you've been enjoying this album as much as I have so far, and I'll be back whenever the next song is released.  Happy listening!


Song Spotlight: Moonalice - "It's 4:20 Somewhere"

Back in September, when the Smashing Pumpkins announced that their next album would be released for free over the Internet, one track at a time, they received quite a bit of press about it (as well as a big increase in the number of visitors to this blog searching for a "free Smashing Pumpkins album"), and deservedly so - it's definitely a different way of releasing music, and it's nice to see major artists trying things like this.  However, it appears that Moonalice have beaten them to the punch, having recently announced the release of their second album, Free, one song at a time over the Internet.  The first of those songs, "It's 4:20 Somewhere", was just released last weekend, and can be downloaded directly from their website in 128k MP3 and FLAC formats.
I first wrote about Moonalice back in June.  Since that time, I have continued to follow them on Twitter and Facebook and have just been fascinated by them; last week, they stated that they "got rid of our manager, publicist, and label in favor of Facebook, Twitter, and [their] website" as an experiment in social media.  I don't think too many major artists would be willing to do something like that, so I support their initiative in as many ways as I can.  Of course, it helps a lot that their music rocks, as all the social media experiments in the world wouldn't be able to help them otherwise.  "It's 4:20 Somewhere" is no exception - it's a great mid-tempo rocker with a laid back feel, excellent guitar playing, and gorgeous backing vocals.  It's a great way to kick off their latest experiment, and I can't wait to hear where they go from here.
I hope you enjoy this song; if you do, please stay tuned for more new songs from Moonalice.  I'll most likely be posting about each track as it is made available, although future posts will probably be shorter than this one.  Happy listening!
URLs: (for the song, plus lots of other free music)


Song Spotlight: Allison Crowe - "Going Home Tonight"

Allison Crowe is currently working on a new album called Spiral.  A pre-release version of one of the album's songs, "Going Home Tonight", has been made available via the music blog Muruch.  This is one of the best songs I have ever heard from Allison, which is really saying a lot, as I have been a huge fan of hers for a couple of years now.  A simple, repeating piano figure provides a gentle backdrop for Allison's vocals, which are as amazingly powerful and beautiful as ever.  What's really new in this song is the string section, which soars alongside the vocals and gives the song an epic feel that one might expect to hear on a movie soundtrack.
When this song was posted on Allison's Facebook page, I asked when the album will be coming out, and the response was "likely to be late '09 or very early 2010."  If "Going Home Tonight" is in any way indicative of the direction Allison is taking for Spiral, then I think we are all in for a really big treat.  I'll be posting about it as soon as I am able to.  In the meantime, happy listening!


Song Spotlight: Paul McCartney - "Let Me Roll It" (plus a video for "Highway")

Paul McCartney is giving away a pair of free songs from his upcoming live CD/DVD set, Good Evening from New York City.  "Let Me Roll It" is a high quality (320 kbps) MP3, and "Highway" is a .m4v video file.  I've never posted about a free video giveaway here before, but if Music Musings can do it, then so can I!  In this case, though, the audio and video files actually come in a single zip file, so there's really no way to get one without the other.
I must say, it's very cool to see more and more artists embracing the idea of giving away a track or two in order to promote releases.  A release like this would normally go pretty much unnoticed by me, as despite being a pretty big Beatles fan, I am not very familiar with the post-Beatles output of any of the members.  But I find free music awfully hard to resist, and now Sir Paul has a potential sale while I browse the album's site and wait for my download to complete.  Even if I don't end up buying the album, at least Paul McCartney's music has made it onto my computer, and who knows, maybe I will end up checking out some more of his music as a result of this.
I don't think I have ever knowingly heard "Let Me Roll It" before, but it has quite a familiar sound to it, so it's likely that I have heard it at some point and just didn't take note of it; in any case, it's a very cool song with a great bluesy feel.  "Highway" sounds less familiar, but my 2-year-old son and I really enjoyed watching the video together - it's a very upbeat and catchy song.
The 39.4 MB zip file is available from the Good Evening from New York City website in a little widget near the bottom of the page that says GET A FREE VIDEO + MP3.  An email address is required; the download link will be sent to the address you entered.  Happy listening!


Song Spotlight: Sarah McLachlan and Emmylou Harris - "Angel" (live from Lilith Fair)

Lilith Fair, the groundbreaking all-female music festival, will be returning next summer for the first time in more than a decade.  In appreciation for all of the excitement about its return, its official website is offering a free MP3 of Sarah McLachlan's song "Angel", as performed by Sarah and Emmylou Harris at the 1998 Lilith Festival.  "Angel" is a beautiful song on its own (it has always been a song that I love, even though I'm not a huge fan of Sarah McLachlan), and this duet is a really stunning version featuring some gorgeous vocal harmonies.

To get the song for free, all you need to do is subscribe to the Lilith newsletter, and the link will be sent to you via email.  Happy listening!



Song Spotlight: Trans-Siberian Orchestra - "Child of the Night"

Trans-Siberian Orchestra's newest album, Night Castle, has been in production for a number of years; I think I first heard it mentioned around 2004 or 2005.  Though it didn't take as long to produce as Chinese Democracy did, there were times I thought that the band might be pulling a Guns N' Roses on us, and that my own kids would be grown up before we could hear the album.  Thankfully that didn't turn out to be the case, as the album is finally being released today as a 2-CD, 26-song set.  One of those songs, "Child of the Night", can be downloaded for free from the Atlantic Records website.  The page states that you have until December 31, 2009 to redeem your free download, and an email address is required in order to access it (although the download link just becomes visible on the page - it is not emailed to you).

"Child of the Night" is a very beautiful little song, about as far away from TSO's normally bombastic, guitar driven, operatic rock as they've ever gotten.  After exploring the album's website for a little while, I came across a free PDF of what looks to be the complete liner notes for the album (seriously, go check it out - it's really cool, although I don't think I'll be looking at too much of it just yet, as the storyline is always one of the biggest treats of a new TSO album for me, and I like to experience it as a whole with the music), I learned that the music for the song was composed by Léo Delibes, and is in fact a cover of "The Flower Duet" from his opera Lakmé.

If you enjoy the classical side of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, you may be interested in checking out some of the source music for their Beethoven's Last Night album.  Assuming I can find enough of the relevant music, I'll also be making a similar post for Night Castle (once I get it), and I have already begun tracking down source music for their Christmas albums, which I will be posting about on my Free Christmas Music blog very soon.  Happy listening!

URLs: (liner notes and other information about the album)


Song Spotlight: "Beds Are Burning" (special Blog Action Day '09: Climate Change post)

Today is Blog Action Day, a day when bloggers around the world post about the same issue in order to spark discussion about it.  This year, the issue is climate change.  I thought it might be a fun challenge to take part in this event while sticking to my philosophy of only writing about free, legally downloadable music that I like.  For a while I didn't think I would be able to pull it off, but I'm happy to say that yesterday I managed to find something that fits every one of these criteria.

tck tck tck

tck tck tck: Time for Climate Justice is a campaign created for people who care about climate change to have their voices heard by those who have the power to do something about it; namely, the nearly 200 world leaders who will be meeting in Copenhagen in December for the 2009 United Nations Climate Conference.  This is where the next big international climate change agreement will be decided.  The main features of the tck tck tck website are a video of people saying "tck", a map of the world showing where each of these "tcks" come from, and a countdown to the start of Copenhagen 09.  There is also an upload your 'tck' button which allows you to upload a one second "tck" video of your own (or a picture or a text message if you choose).  The intent here is that the "collective power of millions of tcks will be used to exert pressure on the political leaders attending the Copenhagen talks in order to secure a strong, just and binding agreement to resolve the climate crisis."  I think this is a really cool idea, and I'll be uploading my own "tck" shortly.

("tck", by the way, is meant to imitate the sound of a clock ticking down, both towards Copenhagen 09 and for the world in general)

Beds Are Burning - free download

Now, this is still a music blog, and that is something that will never change.  In fact, what brought me to the tck tck tck website in the first place was music, in the form of a reworked version of Midnight Oil's 1980s hit "Beds Are Burning", which can be downloaded for free.  This is a big, "We Are the World"-style version featuring dozens of musicians and celebrities, including Duran Duran, Fergie, Scorpions, Paul Shaeffer, the All American Rejects, and of course Midnight Oil themselves.  I have to confess that I am not familiar with the original version of this song, but I really like this version.  There is also an excellent video on the site which identifies each performer by name - very helpful if, like me, you don't automatically recognize each of the dozens of voices (the video is actually very stylish and goes far beyond just listing names - I particularly like the last half-minute or so, in which a photomosaic of a world map is created, using pictures of the performers as source images).

So go check the song out, and while you're listening to it, please take some time to look around the tck tck tck website to find out more about the campaign, including how you can contribute.  Happy listening!

URLs: (for more information about the tck tck tck campaign) (for the free MP3 download of "Beds Are Burning")


Album Spotlight: Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 (Choral Symphony / Ode to Joy)

This week, the folks at have made Beethoven's 9th Symphony available for free download.  This is one of the most famous pieces of music ever written, so there's very little I could say about it that hasn't already been said.  For such a famous piece of music, however, this is actually the first time I've come across a full version of it for free; even Classic Cat (a site that I've posted about before) only has an incomplete version listed.  Actually, I have to take that back - I'm listening to it right now, and I notice that the fourth movement has been shortened; still, until a more complete version comes along, this is well worth grabbing.

If you're new to classical music, this symphony makes a great starting point, as you're probably already familiar with at least a few parts of it (especially the "Ode to Joy" which forms the basis of the fourth movement).  This version is performed by Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, with Alain Lombard conducting.  As with all free downloads from, this one is available in both MP3 and WMA formats, at 128 or 192 Kbps; more importantly, it will only be up for a couple of weeks, so if you want it, get it while you can.  Happy listening!



Song Spotlight: Allison Crowe - "Creep" (Radiohead cover)

About a month ago, a live recording of Allison Crowe performing Radiohead's classic "Creep" was posted on her website (the link to the MP3 is about two thirds of the way down the page).  The recording is from the start of the millennium and features Allison on vocals and piano, Dave Baird on bass, and Kevin Clevette on drums.  Like many of her performances of nineties alternative songs, this one is very raw and powerful and well worth a listen if you are a fan of Allison, Radiohead, or even cover songs in general.  Much more information about this performance (and about the song itself) can be found on Allison's blog - make sure to read the comments too.

I realize that I haven't updated this blog lately as often as I normally do.  PhD research and a busier than normal month of commercially released music (i.e. new releases from Threat Signal, Megadeth, and Pearl Jam) have left me with little time to listen to and write about free music.  I do have some stuff in the pipeline, but I hope that this will tide you over in the meantime.  Happy listening!


Song Spotlight: Megadeth - "1,320'"

If you missed out on the free download of Megadeth's "Head Crusher", which was only offered for one day in July, this one is especially for you.  "1,320'", another song from their latest album, Endgame, can currently be downloaded for free from their page at Roadrunner Records.  Like the former song, this one is another dose of old school thrash metal that fans of their older albums will feel right at home with.  The song starts off with the sound of a race car revving its engine, followed by an insane sounding guitar riff that would fit right in on Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!, the band's 1985 debut album.  The final minute and a half of the song consists of Dave Mustaine and new guitarist Chris Broderick trading blistering guitar solos with each other, much in the same way as Mustaine and Marty Friedman did on "Hangar 18" from 1990's Rust in Peace.

I'd also like to take a moment to discuss the value of free music here.  Before I downloaded "Head Crusher" in July, the last Megadeth album I had purchased was 2001's The World Needs a Hero.  I could not bring myself to get excited about their next two albums, 2004's The System Has Failed and 2007's United Abominations.  I think the main reason for this was the fact that I didn't really know who the band was anymore - my favourite albums all come from the 90s when they had their most stable lineup with Marty Friedman on guitar, Nick Menza on drums, and co-founder David Ellefson on bass.  One by one, all of those guys departed the band for their own reasons, leaving me doubtful that Mustaine could ever come close to what he produced with that lineup.

All it took was a single listen to "Head Crusher" to make me realize how foolish I was to think any such thing.  In my post about that song, I said that it sounded "pretty good" and that I was considering checking out Endgame once it was released.  Well, I did just that yesterday, and it has been in fairly constant rotation ever since.  I'm very glad to have found my way back to a band I once proudly considered one of my favourites, and to discover that they are still producing excellent music, no matter who may be in the band.  I think it's even more awesome that it was a free download of a single song that led to the band regaining a lost fan - had I not been able to hear "Head Crusher" for myself, I probably would have carried on without even acknowledging the release of Endgame.  Instead, it is now a serious contender for my favourite album of the year.

So to summarize: free music is awesome and bands stand to gain a whole lot by releasing even a little of their music for free.  If you haven't heard any Megadeth before, or if you like their old music but not their newer stuff for whatever reason, you could do a lot worse than to check out "1,320'".  It's a 3.54 MB MP3 file, and no registration, email address, or anything else is needed to download it - just click the DOWNLOAD TRACK button, and get ready to enjoy.  Happy listening!

URLs: (go here for the "1,320'" download)


Artist Spotlight: Two Seconds Away

One aspect of this blog that I am very proud of is the fact that I take the time to listen to the vast majority of the music I post about.  It might seem like a small thing, but the fact is that there is an enormous amount of free music out there, and it would be very easy to simply post a huge list of links every day, leaving it up to the reader to decide what is worth clicking on.  Writing reviews of the music I post about helps me to make sense of it all, and I hope that it allows you to decide if something is worth your while to download or if you should just wait until the next post.

With an introductory paragraph like that, you probably already know what I'm about to do.  Yes, I'm going to post about something I haven't completely listened to, but I think you'll agree that it is for good reason.  The artist in question is Two Seconds Away, a duo from Kansas City that has been releasing music for free, one song each week for the last year, as part of a project called New Music Monday.  The only real catch was that each week's song was only available for that week, after which it was replaced with the next week's song.

You might rightfully ask why I haven't written about these guys before - like, when it would actually have been possible to download new songs as they were released.  The answer is quite simple: because I hadn't actually heard of them until this past weekend, when a news article informed me not only of their existence, but of the fact that they would be re-releasing all 52 of these songs for a limited time (a total of 52 hours, to be exact).  The article stated that this giveaway would last from September 25 to September 27, but when I visited their website I couldn't find anything except the final song there.  I decided to start following them on Twitter to find out what was going on, and they soon informed me that the giveaway would actually be starting today and continuing until Wednesday.

I have at least been listening to this music as I've been preparing this post, and I have been really enjoying it.  A lot of it seems to have a laid back, almost folk feel to it, but there are times when distorted guitars and keyboards add more dynamics to the music.  I hear some Edwin McCain, James Taylor, and even Chris Gaines (Garth Brooks' short-lived pop rock alter ego) in some of these songs.  For music that was created under such tight time constraints, the songs are all very well written, and the production is very clear and clean as well.  It should be interesting to hear what happens when they rework some of these songs into a proper album, which is their current plan.

Okay, the more time you spend reading this, the less time you have to download the music.  If you haven't done so already, please head over to their newsletter subscription page, enter your name and email address, and once your subscription has been confirmed, you can download the music in 4 .zip files.  The total size of all of the files is about 303 MB.  Just get it downloaded for now, and then you can take all the time you want to listen to it.  I hope you enjoy it - I'm up to the beginning of the third volume now, and it has been very enjoyable for me so far.  Happy listening!



Album Spotlight: Inward Eye EP

It's always great to find music for free, and I'll never stop writing about the lesser known, independent artists that have long been a staple of this blog, but I get a real thrill out of it when the music is something I've actually heard before.  Recently I was just searching for information about The Trews (read more about them, including how to get a couple of free downloads, at Music Musings) on and came across a couple of comments about a band called Inward Eye, who have an EP available for free download.  Inward Eye have a great song called "Shame" that I've heard on the radio quite a few times now, so of course I had to check out the EP.  To my utter surprise and delight, "Shame" is actually included on the EP!
Inward Eye is a trio of very young musicians (with an average of 20) from Winnipeg, Manitoba.  They cite artists like The Kinks, The Clash, The Who, Green Day, and the Rolling Stones as influences, and it's easy to hear a lot of these influences in the 4 songs included on the EP.  I also hear a bit of Alice Cooper in "Shame", with the verse and prechorus having a bit of a "School's Out" vibe, but the chorus launches the song into another dimension entirely, with a staccato guitar riff and absolutely crazy sounding falsetto vocals.  "Blind Paranoia" has more of a punk edge to it, with a great melodic chorus and a bridge that has more out of control vocals and builds in intensity until a couple of bars of hand claps lead back into the chorus.  "You Know I Know" seems to be some kind of "progressive punk rock" song - I've never really heard anything like it.  It starts off very fast and aggressive, sounding like an old Clash song, before going into a somewhat idiosyncratic bridge, complete with whistling, and later into a slower, Led Zeppelin-like jam to close the song; I can easily envision live performances of this song stretching well beyond the 3 minutes and 45 seconds of the studio version.  The final song on the EP, "The Times They Aren't A Changin'", adds synthesizers to the mix to great effect; this is the most Who-like song on the EP, and a great choice for the final song of a debut EP, as it leaves me wanting to hear a whole lot more from these guys.
The EP can be downloaded from Inward Eye's official website; clicking on the FREE EP DOWNLOAD graphic pops up a box where you enter your email address, birthday, and country, along with an option to sign up for Inward Eye email updates.  The download is a 25.5 MB zip file containing the 4 songs as 256 kbps MP3s as well as cover artwork.  I hope these guys go far - if this EP is any indication, they have loads of talent and energy to spare, and I'm looking forward to hearing a lot more from them.  Happy listening!



Album Spotlight: Electrocute - Pirates of Thrash

Shiver me timbers - is it International Talk Like a Pirate Day already?  I almost forgot!  I feel like such a landlubber...

Yarrr, I would have liked to have a more detailed review of this album fer ye, so I hope ye'll forgive me and not make me walk the plank.  Give a listen to Pirates of Thrash (which I found out about from Free Metal Albums) by Turkish thrashers Electrocute and then make yer judgement.

(Okay, please give me a break for just one paragraph - my throat is getting sore even trying to type this stuff!)

"Fall in Hate" opens the album with a brief piano prelude before giving way to a classic thrash metal sound in the vein of Metallica and Megadeth's first albums.  The vocals are a little on the rough side, but they fit the music quite well, and are varied enough to keep things interesting - I like how they descend into a death growl on the last line of the "Fall in Hate" chorus and rise to a falsetto in "Electric Defenders".  There are some fun moments on the album, such as Hell's phone call to the President at the beginning of "Evilsent", and the sound of waves and swords at the beginning of the title track.  If you enjoy old school thrash metal, this album is definitely worth a listen.

I'll try to be more prompt about this next year (and brush up a little more on me lingo!).  In the meantime, I hope ye enjoy this, me hearties!



A few brief updates

I've had a lot going on lately, so my apologies for not having a whole lot of new music on here in the last little while.  I do have a few brief updates on some things, though.

First of all, the free "Stairway to Heaven" MP3 disappeared almost as quickly as it appeared, which leads me to believe that it was not a legitimate download in the first place.  I don't quite know what to make of that, actually, as has long been one of my most trusted sources of free, legal music downloads.  I'm hoping that it's not that easy to beat their system and upload anything by any artist.

Next, David over at Music Musings has also posted about the Suburban Home Records free album giveaway.  His post goes a step beyond just asking for recommendations and offers a form for people to submit their own reviews of any of the site's freely available songs; all of the reviews can be seen in a Google Spreadsheet.  Currently there are only reviews there from David and myself, so if anyone else would like to contribute, please go see David's post.  After listening to most of the freely available songs (there are nearly 3 hours worth, and I have them all in a playlist which I like to randomize), I am leaning heavily towards Two Cow Garage's III as my pick, but I'm still going to give this at least another week before I make my final decision.  Remember, this offer expires at the end of this month, so check it out soon if you are remotely interested.

Speaking of time-limited offers, another one is about to come to an end: the Microsoft Windows Sponsored Songs on ReverbNation.  David has a couple of recommendations for that giveaway as well, and there is also the spreadsheet I made that lists all 1008 available songs in a format that is somewhat easier to navigate than the website.  These songs should be available for another week, during which time I'll be taking a final swing through the site to grab anything I may have missed earlier.

For those who don't know about my interests outside of music, I like to develop video games in my spare time, and I recently completed and released my first game, Picture Puzzle Revolution.  The music and artwork in the game are all taken from the last two Nine Inch Nails releases, so if you enjoy their music and are up for a rather insane challenge, please check it out.  

One last thing: in case you haven't heard elsewhere, the Smashing Pumpkins will be releasing their upcoming album, Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, for free over the Internet, one song at a time (for a total of 44 planned songs).  I am not a huge fan of the Pumpkins, but I do quite enjoy some of their work, and I know that many of this blog's readers do as well - my post about Machina II has long been the most-visited page on this site.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how this new album plays out.

Okay, that's all for now.  I hope to be back here soon with some more new music for you to check out.  Thanks for reading!


Free album from Suburban Home Records

This will be different from my usual posts, mainly because I don't actually have anything to review yet.  Until the end of September, Suburban Home Records is offering one free album from their catalog to anyone who wants it.  All you need to do is enter your email address, pick the album you would like to download, and wait for your download code to arrive (as they are checking submissions manually, they say that this may take some time, but the code will eventually show up).

There are more than 40 albums by more than two dozen artists available, but other than Drag The River (whose Live at the Starlight is separately available for free), I have never heard of any of these artists before.  I was wondering if anyone who reads this might be able to make a recommendation, either through prior knowledge of any of these artists or (gasp!) by taking a chance and downloading an album.  If you do, please leave a comment here, and if I get enough submissions, I will make a separate post about the recommendations towards the end of the month.

To assist you in this assignment, here are a couple of resources: the list of bands on the label (each band can be clicked on to bring up a page with more information), and a selection of free MP3s from each artist.  I'll be checking out as many of the free songs as I am able to and reading up on the artists, and hopefully something will leap out and say "Me!  Download me!"  We'll see.

In the meantime, have fun with this.  I look forward to hearing about everyone's findings.  Expect to hear more about this in a couple of weeks.  Happy listening!


Album Spotlight: Noise Addict - it was never about the audience

From out of nowhere, Noise Addict's it was never about the audience has come along to become one of the best albums I have heard this year, free or not.  This is a collection of 15 songs in various eclectic styles, many of which are very catchy.  After one listen to the album, two songs really stuck in my head, and they stayed there until I listened to it again; I listen to an awful lot of music, so for anything to be this memorable, it has to be pretty special.  One of these songs was "Big Ups", which features barbershop-esque backup vocals ("da doooo BOP!", etc.), a drumbeat that occasionally stutters, and a soaring chorus.  The other was "Lasagne", which features songwriter Ben Lee's 7-year-old stepdaughter on lead vocals; the impromptu nature of the song and all of the laughter in the vocals makes it a joy to listen to. 
Subsequent listens to the album have revealed more gems.  The opening track, "That's How It Goes", takes a quirky look at the life of musicians, with lyrics like "Bands keep making music 'cause they didn't go to college, and as people are not suited to working in an office."  The multilayered, lower-register vocals in "Get Well" remind me of Brad Sucks.  "The Faster Side of Normal" adds strings to the mix, to absolutely beautiful effect.  "I Heart Your Band" marries a garage rock sound with lyrics about a fan's undying love for a band, even during such periods when they thought they were U2 or added a horn section.
The album closes with "Let's Do Our Thing", which is unlike anything I've ever heard before.  The verses are instrumental, with understated guitar solos taking the usual place of vocals, while the choruses feature layers of vocals, piano, and other effects.  It has such a warm, gorgeous sound, but it really needs to be heard to be believed - it's that unique.
it was never about the audience can be downloaded in a variety of formats; the default is 320k MP3, which weighs in at 80 MB, but "Audiophiles and Nerds" may wish to download it in other bitrates (I chose VBR high), or in other formats such as FLAC, OGG, or Apple Lossless.  An email address is required, which subscribes you to the Noise Addict mailing list, but they say that you can unsubscribe from it at any time.  Happy listening!


Song Spotlight: Led Zeppelin - "Stairway to Heaven"

[Alas, this turned out to be too good to be true.  I don't know when it happened, but the free download has been taken away.]

This comes as a total surprise to me, but Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" can currently be downloaded for free from  All of the free downloads that I've ever seen on have been approved by the artist, so I am assuming that that is the case here; however, another "song" called "Led Zeppelin is the worst band ever" (which is actually about half a minute of someone banging on a piano), which claims to be a Led Zeppelin song, also showed up today.  I don't know if this means that has been hacked, or someone is playing a bizarre joke, or... well, I just don't know.  All I do know is that one of the most iconic rock songs ever made can currently be downloaded for free from a site known for legitimate music downloads.

I may as well keep this post short, as I really don't know how long this song will remain available.  If it isn't already in your collection and you haven't gotten your fill of it from listening to classic rock radio, go check it out.  Happy listening!



Artist Spotlight: TRV$DJAM

Back in June, I posted about TRV$DJAM's then-new album, FIX YOUR FACE VOL. 2 - COACHELLA '09.  This album blew me away when I first heard it, and when I discovered that the first volume of Fix Your Face could also be obtained for free, I decided that I should learn more about the innovative duo of DJ AM and drummer Travis Barker, with the intention of giving them a more comprehensive writeup sometime soon.  This past week brought us the sad news that DJ AM has passed away, so I think this would be a good time for a post in memory of DJ AM and in celebration of the incredible music that TRV$DJAM produced.
I've been trying to come up with some words to describe their music, but I have been failing miserably.  Instead, I think it is better to just point you to their download page, where you can download the two Fix Your Face mixtapes.  Ideally, you should make sure that you have enough time to listen to each one in its entirety (about 43 minutes for the first one, and about 50 minutes for the second one), and just let it play.  If you're like me, there will be a lot of songs on both volumes that you're familiar with, and perhaps quite a few that you're not so familiar with.  But the way that they blend seamlessly into (and sometimes over) one another will likely be something that you haven't heard before.  To take so many songs from such a wide variety of genres and eras and make them work so well together is a work of genius, and anyone who considers themselves a lover of music should definitely give these mixtapes a listen.
RIP, DJ AM.  Thank you for the excellent music for which you will always be remembered.


Album Spotlight: Diablo Swing Orchestra - The Butcher's Ballroom

Sometimes I find it difficult to pick something to write about on this blog.  Other times, the choice is obvious.  This is one of the more obvious choices.  Last week, an album called The Butcher's Ballroom by the Diablo Swing Orchestra appeared almost simultaneously on two blogs that I follow - namely, Free Albums Galore and Free Metal Albums (in fact, if you are a regular visitor to this blog, you may already have spotted this album in the sidebar under the Free music from around the web section, as both of those blogs are included there).  Marvin at Free Albums Galore wrote an excellent review of the album - as soon as I read the phrase "an insane combination of heavy metal, swing jazz, a traditional European music smorgabord, and a classical soprano voice that probably broke wine glasses in the studio," I knew that this was an album I had to check out.
It didn't take me very long to see that Marvin was absolutely right about this album.  This is probably the weirdest sounding album I've heard since I discovered Thumpermonkey Lives!; I think that if I hadn't already been used to hearing music that is a little on the strange side (such as Thumpermonkey Lives!, Mr. Bungle, and Devil Doll), my own head probably would have exploded upon hearing The Butcher's Ballroom - it really is that crazy.  The Diablo Swing Orchestra have managed to take all of the disparate genres listed above and craft a sound that is utterly unique; instead of sounding gimmicky (which would have been all too easy to do), it just works.  The swing metal of the opening track, "Balrog Boogie", does a great job of establishing the mood of the album; if you haven't been scared off after this song, then sit back and enjoy the ride, as it only keeps getting better.  "D'angelo", one of two short ballads on the album, is absolutely beautiful, consisting only of acoustic guitar and operatic female vocals; the other, "Qualms of Conscience", is a solo piano piece.  One of my favourite moments on the album is the transition between the sitar-infused "Gunpowder Chant" and "Infralove", which starts with an electronic beat before hopping into a number of different styles.  My favourite song overall is the final one, "Pink Noise Waltz", which throws just about everything in the band's arsenal at the listener, going from metal to a piano solo to a flute solo to a chugging NWOBHM groove to a cool jazzy outro.
The Butcher's Ballroom really is something that needs to be heard to be believed.  If you like adventurous, experimental music that doesn't conform to any preset standards, this is definitely something you should hear.  It can currently be downloaded as a 76.18 MB zip file from Jamendo.  Happy listening!


Song Spotlight: Radiohead - "These Are My Twisted Words"

Finally, I get to write about Radiohead on this blog.  While I'm not a huge fan of the band, they are somewhat responsible for my obsession with seeking out free music wherever I can.  In 2007, they made huge headlines when they released their album In Rainbows as a digital download for whatever price people wanted to pay for it, including nothing at all.  I initially felt a little guilty about paying $0 for an album, but the fact was that I was really not very familiar with Radiohead - I knew a few of their singles and that was about it.  I ended up really enjoying the album, and soon after that I checked a number of their albums out from my local library and ended up buying a copy of Kid A, which absolutely floored me when I first heard it.  A few months later when I started this blog, In Rainbows was one of the first things I wanted to write about, but I discovered that the free digital download was no longer available; at the same time, I learned that, unless something has already been available for years, it's often better to write about it sooner rather than later.
The subject of this post is Radiohead's new song, "These Are My Twisted Words" , which was officially released yesterday.  It can be downloaded free of charge from the band's w.a.s.t.e. online store; it can also be downloaded as a torrent from Mininova, where the band themselves leaked the track last week.  Downloading from w.a.s.t.e. gets you a 13.5 MB .zip file that contains the song itself (as a high quality 320 kbps MP3), an image file with artwork, and a PDF file with silhouetted images of trees that are meant to be printed out on tracing paper and then put together "in an order that pleases you".  The torrent does not contain the latter two files, although it does contain a text file with a rather cool looking ASCII version of the artwork; if artwork is the sort of thing that matters to you (and as someone who used to sit and listen to CDs while thumbing through the booklets, reading the lyrics and analyzing the artwork, I understand completely), you may want to check out both versions for completeness.
The song itself is a rather interesting one.  The vocals don't start until about halfway through the five-and-a-half minute song, and once they do kick in there do not seem to be any discernible verses or choruses.  Aside from the persistent, driving drum beat, the whole thing sounds very atmospheric and dreamy.  I'm sure that bigger Radiohead fans could write a lot more about it, but I do have to say that I really like it, and I'm looking forward to hearing what they come out with next.  Check it out for yourself, and happy listening!


Album Spotlight: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Don Giovanni

This will be a shorter post than usual for a couple of reasons: 1) the album will not be available for free for very long, and 2) I haven't actually listened to the whole thing yet, so a detailed review is not possible at this time.  I know I often go on about how I listen to everything I post about so that I can write a proper review of it, but this is a rather exceptional album, so I hope you'll forgive me for this brief lapse in my own policy.

The album in question is Mozart's opera, Don Giovanni (or, more completely, Il dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni - "The Rake Punish'd, or Don Giovanni").  For the next couple of weeks, it will be available for free from (a site which I have previously reviewed here).  To my knowledge, Don Giovanni cannot be downloaded for free in its entirety anywhere else.  This particular recording features the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana and is conducted by Alain Lombard.  The download weighs in at a hefty 251 MB, so if you're on a slower Internet connection and are interested in this, you may want to set aside some time in order to download it.

Opera is a genre that I haven't really begun to explore yet, so I am really looking forward to digging in to this recording.  It is over 3 hours long, so I am expecting that it will take some time to really sink in.  Whether you're a longtime opera buff or completely new to the genre, I hope you will enjoy it as well.  Happy listening!



Song Spotlight: Metallica - "My Apocalypse Intro"

Metallica have just released a newly-recorded intro to "My Apocalypse", the closing song from last year's Death Magnetic album.  That song, in case you haven't heard it, is the most furious burst of straight ahead thrash metal Metallica have done since 1988's ...And Justice for All (and, I have just learned, the winner of the 2009 Best Metal Performance Grammy award).  According to the band's MySpace page, they have really been enjoying playing the song on tour, but they just "felt like it could use something extra", so James Hetfield wrote a new intro for the song which can be downloaded for free from

The new intro stands in stark contrast to the rest of the song; instead of being a relentless sonic assault, this is all about building mood.  The first 12 seconds of the roughly one-minute intro consist of nothing but a tolling bell, a gentle rainfall, and a crashing thunderbolt.  The bell and the rainfall continue to sound for the rest of the intro, while a simple melody is repeated on a keyboard (or a processed guitar - it's hard to tell) over a subdued but steady drum beat.  The final note of the melody is accompanied by another crash of thunder, and the drums continue for another few seconds.  It would have been awesome if they'd just released a recording of the full song including this intro, but this is still quite cool - it adds an epic feel to the song, and I'm really looking forward to hearing the full thing someday (hopefully a full recording of the current tour will surface on the site after the tour is finished.)

If one minute of free Metallica music isn't quite enough for you, be sure to check out the rest of the free recordings on that site in The Vault.  There are now more than 20 full concerts available; my brother wrote a guest post about some of his favourites last year if you need help finding a place to start.  Happy listening!



Some site maintenance news

This blog's site index has been horrendously out of date for a long time now; before today, it was last updated in May of 2008.  Most embarrassingly, it has constantly been one of the most visited pages on the site.  I'm happy to say that the index is now fully up to date, and I will be making a much better effort to keep it that way.

I also decided to take the list of "Most Popular Posts" that used to be at the end of the index, expand it, and give it its own page.  Most Popular Content currently lists the most popular posts (excluding things like the site index and other pages that don't have any original content on them) of all time and from the last month and week.

The next big thing I need to do is go through each post and make sure that the links a) still work, and b) still lead to free, downloadable content.  I already caught a few posts that linked to content that could no longer be downloaded while I was updating the index.  I flagged the links to these posts in the index, and I'll be adding notes to the actual posts shortly; the rest of the posts will be checked as soon as possible.  In the meantime, if you see any links that don't lead to where they should, please leave a comment in the post or send me a quick email to let me know, and I'll take care of it right away.  Thanks!


Song Spotlight: Pearl Jam - "Speed of Sound"

Note: As of November 2009, this contest has ended, and I can no longer find a link to the "Speed of Sound" demo.

If you're a Pearl Jam fan, you probably already know that they have a new album coming out in September called Backspacer.  "The Fixer", the catchy first single from the album, is in heavy rotation on rock radio, and various other songs from the album have been played live by the band and by Eddie Vedder in his solo shows.  I have to admit I was a little disappointed when "The Fixer" was not made available for download (although you can still stream it from Pearl Jam's official website, and probably a few other places); I guess I was spoiled when they made "Worldwide Suicide", the first single from their last album, available for free.

Today, though, I found out (via Twitter) about a cool new game on the Pearl Jam website.  If you head to this page, you will be presented with a 3x3 grid of numbered tiles along with the following instructions:
"Find 9 images from Backspacer that have been placed all around the web. Once you find an image, click it and it will be added to the grid on the left.
Find & click all 9 Backspacer images and get a free download!"

Now, when they say "all around the web", they mean it.  To be honest, I don't know how anyone could possibly track down all of the images on their own; fortunately, with the Internet being what it is, there are already a few complete lists of the necessary websites floating around, so if you don't feel like doing all the work yourself, I will include my own list in this post.

First, though, let's talk a bit about the free download that they promise.  "Speed of Sound" is a song that will be included on Backspacer; however, the version available for download here is a solo demo version by Eddie Vedder.  The song is very much in line with Vedder's work on the Into the Wild soundtrack from a couple of years ago (actually, it would fit very well on that album).  Most of the song is just Vedder and an acoustic guitar, but there are some beautiful vocal harmonies and some sparse electric guitar lines that really add to the melancholic feel of the song.  I quite like the song so far, and I am very curious as to how it will sound on the album; whatever the rest of the band decides to do with it, it could well end up being one of the highlights of the album.

Now, onto the list.  Out of fairness to those who would like to try and play the game by themselves (and I sincerely wish you the best of luck if you choose to do this - the promise of a free Pearl Jam download was simply too overwhelming for me, causing me to look for all the hints I could find), I've decided to use to shorten the URLs.  This way, those who are impatient (like me) can simply click on any or all of the links to go exactly where they need to go, while the game will not be spoiled for those who wish to play fairly.  Without further ado...

Clicking on any of these links should take you to a page that contains one piece of the Backspacer artwork (if it doesn't, please let me know right away and I will do my best to fix it).  Clicking on the image will take you back to the Backspacer page on the band's website, this time with that piece of the puzzle filled in.  Once all 9 pieces are in place, the download link for "Speed of Sound" will appear.  However you decide to play the game, I hope you enjoy the song once you hear it.  Happy listening!



Artist Spotlight: Jonathan Coulton

Today I'd like to feature an artist that I've known about for quite some time - in fact, I featured him on my Free Christmas Music blog way back in November 2007, and he was a small part of my massive Halloween Treat Bag post last October.  Somehow I manage to keep rediscovering him every year or so, and I think it's about time he's had a proper artist spotlight here.
Until recently, my source for free Jonathan Coulton music has always been his MP3 store, in which nearly three dozen songs can be downloaded for free (they are conveniently marked with a little smiley face icon in the "Free" column; clicking on the smiley face for a song brings up a page of information about that song, including a link to an MP3).  This in itself is a pretty incredible collection of free music, and even if you venture no further into Coulton's website, you will still come away with some excellent music.  However, I have recently become aware of the fact that even more of his music can be found for free on his site if you're willing to do some digging around.
When I began listening to Coulton's non-Christmas music last year, someone recommended the song "Re Your Brains" to me.  That song, unfortunately, has no smiley face icon in the MP3 store, so I actually ventured over to YouTube (something I rarely do, as online video is not something I typically enjoy) and found a pretty funny video that set the song to images from World of Warcraft.  When Lifehacker posted their interview with Jonathan Coulton, I was surprised that the link to "Re Your Brains" was not to a video (like the link to the Portal theme song was), but rather to a blog post on Coulton's website.  Following that link, I was delighted to find, at the end of the post, a link to the "Re Your Brains" MP3.  A few more links led me to a very impressive source of free music: the Thing a Week podcast.  This was an extremely ambitious project in which Jonathan aimed to record and release one new song every week for a year, from September 2005 to September 2006.  A look at the podcast's page reveals the results of that experiment: 52 blog posts, one for each week of that year, each containing a link to an MP3 download of that week's song.
If you've looked at his MP3 store, then you're likely already familiar with a lot of these songs, as most of the free songs there (the ones with smiley faces) are from the Thing a Week project, which is split into four volumes in the MP3 store.  Still, the remaining Thing a Week songs nearly double the amount of free music available from Coulton, and there are some real gems in there.  "Re Your Brains", sung from the point of view of an annoying former co-worker turned zombie, is certainly among the best, especially when the whole gang of zombies joins in for the super catchy chorus.  His cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" is something that simply has to be heard to be believed.  There are a few more covers in the project, with my favourite being Queen's "We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions", which was the final song of the project and contains some excellent vocal harmonies.  Another favourite of mine is "I'm Your Moon", an original song about Pluto which is sung from the point of view of its moon, Charon; unusual points of view like this pop up in quite a few of Coulton's songs.  With 52 songs to pick from, I'm sure that just about anyone will be able to find something to enjoy.
One more place where I've found some free Jonathan Coulton music is, surprisingly, the Popular Science website.  In 2005, they did a special issue called "Future of the Body", for which Coulton provided a soundtrack EP entitled Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Cybernetic Arms.  This 5 song EP can be downloaded in its entirety right here, and it is well worth checking out, as there are some real gems on it.  It's gotten a lot of play since I discovered it a couple of weeks ago, and "I Feel Fantastic" has been stuck in my head for quite a while now.  Check it out, along with whatever else looks interesting to you, and happy listening!


Song Spotlight: Megadeth - "Head Crusher"

NOTE: This download was only up for 24 hours and is thus no longer available.

Megadeth's new single "Head Crusher", from their forthcoming album Endgame, is currently available for free from Roadrunner Records.  According to an article at, the song will only be free for 24 hours, although the download page makes no mention of a time limit; if this does indeed turn out to be the case, then you should have until 11:00 EDT on July 8 to download it, so go there quickly if this is something that interests you.

Megadeth have long been one of my favourite bands, and they were the first metal band I became interested in back in 1992 or 1993 when I heard "Symphony of Destruction".  I have to admit that I haven't been very interested in what I've heard from them in the last five years or so, ever since they broke up after Dave Mustaine's arm injury.  "Head Crusher", though, is sounding pretty good to me right now, so I may decide to check out Endgame once it is released in September.  It's a solid piece of classic sounding thrash metal that sounds like it would be right at home on Peace Sells.  Dave's snarling vocals are just as aggressive as they've ever been, and there's a great little spoken section in the middle that reminds me of a lot of old Megadeth songs that I love.  The drums are absolutely relentless, and the guitars sound as good as I've ever heard them sound in Megadeth.

To access the 7.5 MB MP3, all you need to do is enter your email address at the website; the download link will appear on the same page after you've done so.  Happy listening!


A spreadsheet for the ReverbNation Sponsored Songs giveaway

Yesterday I posted about ReverbNation's Microsoft Windows Sponsored Songs giveaway.  Since making that post, I decided to do a little more work to make the songs a little more accessible.  The ReverbNation page allows you to view no more than 20 entries at a time; through a lot of copying and pasting (51 pages worth) and a little text manipulation using my favourite text editor, gVim, I managed to create a spreadsheet with information about all 1008 (yeah, a few more than the advertised 1000) songs in it.  

You won't find links to the actual songs in the spreadsheet, because it is not possible to do that given the way the site is set up.  What you will find is the artist, location, genre, and title of each song.  A read-only version of the spreadsheet can be found right here.  If you view the spreadsheet in List View (by selecting View -> List View from the Google Docs menu), you can sort the spreadsheet by any of the columns.  You can also export the spreadsheet (File -> Export) into a variety of formats, so if you want to have more filtering and sorting options than those offered by Google Docs, this is your best bet.

If you find any errors or incomplete data in the spreadsheet, please let me know and I will fix it as soon as I am able to.  I hope this helps at least a few people find some cool music that may otherwise have gone unnoticed.  Happy sorting, filtering, and listening!



Free Music Resource: Microsoft Windows Sponsored Songs from ReverbNation

David over at Music Musings already beat me to this post, but this is such a cool giveaway, and its scope so huge, that it deserves to be posted about again.  ReverbNation has launched a new initiative called "Sponsored Songs", in which 1000 songs from 1000 artists are being made available for free download.  The music is kept free by ads that are embedded into the cover art in the MP3s (or M4As, if you choose to download that format); all of the MP3s I've downloaded have a small Windows banner that takes up about one quarter of the cover artwork, and the album for all of them is listed as Microsoft Windows Sponsored Songs.  I guess the assumption here is that enough people actually view the cover art embedded within the files to make it worthwhile for the sponsor; to be honest, I find the press release to be a little on the optimistic side, but at the same time I hope that this program succeeds, because it has the potential to open up some exciting possibilities for free music. 
The first advertiser to participate in Sponsored Songs is Microsoft Windows, with free songs being available from until September 24, 2009.  I am guessing that after that date, another sponsor will take over, perhaps with a new set of songs to download, but there should still be plenty of time to grab anything that interests you there.  The site lacks a search engine, so looking for a particular artist takes a bit of work; you can pick the starting letter of the artist's name and filter the list by a few broad genres (Alternative, Electronica/Dance, Hip Hop, Jazz, Latin, Pop, and Rock), and the list can be sorted alphabetically or by popularity.  While it would be nice to have more options for filtering and sorting, I think that the best way to find the best songs in this giveaway may be good, old fashioned word of mouth.
With that in mind, I'd like to mention a few particularly good songs that I've downloaded.  I've only downloaded about a dozen songs from there so far, mainly from artists that I already recognize, but I'm sure I'll be going back for many more before the offer expires.  Some of my favourite songs so far include Sofia Talvik's beautiful "Burning Fields"; The Lemonheads' "I Just Can't Take It Anymore", a cover of a Gram Parsons song with a great country rock feel that reminds me of Blue Rodeo; Logan's "Goodbye", an excellent hard rock tune that David recommended; and Celldweller's "Ursa Minor (Neutron Mix)", a short but very sweet song that packs a lot of atmosphere and drama into less than 2 minutes.
If anyone comes across anything particularly cool there, please leave a comment here so the readers of this blog and I can check it out.  I'm sure that there are tons of great songs available, so let's hear about them!  Happy listening!

[UPDATE 2009-07-07]
I have created a spreadsheet that lists all of the songs, along with the artist, genre, and location information for each song.  You can access a read-only version of the spreadsheet right here - I hope it helps some cool music to be found!


Song Spotlight: Unkle - X-Files (Unkle Remix)

If you were one of the few people to see The X-Files: I Want To Believe last year (although it didn't exactly set the box office on fire, I really enjoyed it as an old X-Files fan), and in particular, if you stuck around to watch the closing credits, then you would have been treated to an excellent new version of the series' theme song by Unkle.  It still has the same flavour as the original version by Mark Snow, but there are two main elements that set it apart: the main melody is now string-based instead of whistled, and there is a driving, electronic drum beat underscoring much of the song.
The song is also curiously available as a free download from; I say "curiously" because it seems to be the only song from Unkle available for free on that site.  To download the 5.4 MB MP3, just hit the "Free MP3" link on that page.  I think that any fans of The X-Files or just remixes in general would really enjoy this song.  It also has me interested in checking out more of Unkle's work.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this great remix of a classic television theme.  Happy listening!


Album Spotlight: Chris Tenz - Forlorn Memories

I download far more music than I would ever have the time to write about here.  It all gets placed into a foobar2000 playlist called "Blog".  The size of this playlist is ever fluctuating, with things getting removed from it after I have either written about it or decided that I don't like it enough to write about (when I say "the best free, legally available music on the Internet", I mean it - if I don't like it, I won't post about it); currently, it contains just under 24 hours of music.  I try to listen to at least some of this music every day.  Sometimes I know what I want to write about, so I focus on that music; other times I set it to shuffle, and when I find something that really catches my interest, I begin taking notes on it in preparation for a future post.  Tonight I was listening to a few tracks from an artist that I hope to post about soon, but then the shuffle kicked in and served up something totally unexpected in the form of Chris Tenz's Forlorn Memories.
I initially downloaded this album two weeks ago after reading about it on the Internet Archive, but it wasn't until tonight that it actually made its way to my ears.  The album's page at the Internet Archive seems to have been taken down [update: it's back up - I guess I caught it at the wrong time], but I was able to locate it on the Soft Phase website, which seems to be working fine.  The description of the album by Tenz was what drew me to the album in the first place:
“Forlorn Memories is designed to be just that, the re-capturing of memories
and associated moods through wordless sound. The album is designed to tell
a story through emotion, in chronological order. Using old tastes, smells,
sounds, and sights, I would attempt to bring myself into the mindset of
various key moments that influenced me in some way, and attempt to
create those feelings again with the use of audio.”
The very idea of memories is something that has always fascinated me, so the subject matter immediately caught my interest.  I also like the fact that he doesn't attempt to explain the story at all, and with songs only titled as chapters (with the first track being a foreword), the interpretation of the album is left entirely up to the listener (for the record, interpretation of songs - let alone instrumentals - is not one of my strong points, so I will go no further along this line of discussion).  The album's nine tracks are all very mellow, beautiful, and dreamy sounding - in fact, I decided to leave it playing while I was putting my baby back to sleep tonight, and it worked very nicely as lullabye music.  The soothing sound is achieved mainly through a delicate interplay between acoustic guitar and piano, although other instruments and sounds play important roles as well.  There are no sudden changes in tempo or mood - each song evolves and unfolds gradually, taking as much time as it needs to tell its own part of the story.
The individual songs from Forlorn Memories can be downloaded as separate MP3 files, and the entire album can be downloaded either in MP3 format, as a 56 MB zip file, or FLAC format, as a 105 MB zip file.  As a debut album, it holds a lot of promise, and I am really looking forward to hearing where Tenz decides to go in the future.  Happy listening!


Song Spotlight: Janet LaValley - "Unwind"

If you enjoyed listening to Tribe or Janet LaValley's solo song "It's All Right With Me", then you may be interested to know that another LaValley solo MP3 has been made available by Janet herself.  "Unwind" is another song from her still unreleased album Extraordinary Popular Delusions (and the Madness of Crowds), and the 2.65 MB MP3 can be downloaded directly from her website.
"Unwind" is another hard rocking song.  The distorted vocals add a touch of aggression to the song, but it's still catchy enough to sing along with (the lyrics are even conveniently embedded in the MP3's tags).  I hope "Unchained" and "It's All Right With Me" are just teasers for what will eventually be a full release of the album in some format, because it sounds like it has the potential to be something really cool.
Tribe fans will likely appreciate this song the most, but anyone who loves hard rock (especially of the female-fronted variety) would do very well to check it out.  Happy listening!