Like every year at this time, I am currently listening exclusively to Christmas music and posting about my favourite free releases at my other blog, Free Christmas Music. Unlike any other year, I have made it my goal to make one new post there every day until Christmas. A crazy goal, perhaps, but I've managed to keep it up for the first 9 days, and I think I've managed to streamline the process enough that I should be okay the rest of the way. I'm hoping that I'll be able to carry those habits over to this blog in the new year and at least try to get a weekly post up. In the meantime, please enjoy the Christmas music, as that's all I'll be offering for another month or so. :)
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A few months ago, I came across a live version of Pearl Jam's "Amongst the Waves", which was originally released on last year's Backspacer. That album has actually turned out to be one of my favourite Pearl Jam albums yet, and "Amongst the Waves" is one of my favourite songs on the album; the big, anthemic chorus is something that Pearl Jam really excels at, and I love the upbeat nature of this song. While the song itself isn't actually about water, I'm going to say that it's close enough for my purposes right now. I'll get back to more regular blogging someday soon, I'm sure; in the meantime, enjoy the song and feel free to check out some more of the Blog Action Day action - there are quite a few music blogs involved, if you're looking for a place to start.
You'll need to subscribe to Pearl Jam's mailing list to access the download. If you're cool with that, the download link should arrive in your inbox shortly. Happy listening!
My quest for free music, quite happily, led me to a band called Wilco a few months ago. I had read a blurb about them in Guitar World many years ago, at which point they were being touted as a great alt-country or “Americana” band. Alt-country? Americana? As far as I can tell, if a band plays music that is somewhat similar to country/folk music of the past but the members don't wear cowboy hats or come from the South, it's alt-country. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration. And I’m really not sure what “Americana” means as applied to a band. I guess the labels put on Wilco don't tell you a whole lot.
The More Like the Moon EP is nothing more than six really good songs. These guys are talented songwriters and musicians. I don't listen to the radio EVER, not even sometimes. But if I did, I would complain that Wilco was not on the radio like they should be. And you can read the story about their bizarre record company fiasco on Wikipedia. But for whatever reason, they started offering this EP for free in 2003, and they made at least one new fan because of it.
I won’t describe the songs or anything like that, because frankly you can download them in 2 minutes and then listen to them in about 20. Most of it is laid back and really good! They seem to have released the EP under different names with different covers, and they let you choose which one you’d like.
So…Americana? Alt-Country? Whatever. How about “good music”? And hey, it sure does make you wanna go out and buy a Wilco album, doesn't it? Mission accomplished. Score one for totally free music!
1. Official website: http://www.wilcoworld.net/
2. Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilco
3. More Like the Moon EP: http://wilcoworld.net/records/bonus/
The basic sound of the EP is Nine Inch Nails with female vocals. I like it a lot - as any regular reader of this blog knows, I am a huge NIN fan, and hearing so many trademark NIN sounds (like syncopated drum beats, distorted synthesizers, and beautiful piano melodies) with Mariqueen's often hushed and fragile vocals is a nice change of pace. Trent Reznor has stated that the band's next release will sound "more focused", so perhaps the EP may be best considered as a demo of sorts. but it's a good one.
The 6 songs are encoded as 320 kbps MP3s, and the zip file containing them weighs in at about 62.3 MB. Happy listening!
However, multi-tracks for both "The Space in Between" and "A Drowning" have been made available on the Nine Inch Nails remix site, so with a small amount of effort you can actually make your own versions of the two songs. The multi-tracks can only be downloaded using BitTorrent; if you are unfamiliar with torrents, a wealth of information about them can be found right here. In order to do anything truly useful with the multi-tracks, you will also need an application like Audacity to edit them.
What you do with the files is really up to you - I like to play around with multi-tracks and create my own remixes when I have time for it (shameless plug: if you search for "durga2112" on the remix site, you can listen to a few Nine Inch Nails remixes that I made a couple of years ago), but so far I've only just listened to both of these songs as they are. "A Drowning" has, for the most part, a very mellow, almost chilled out, sound; musically, there's a bit of The Fragile and Ghosts in there, but Mariqueen's dreamy vocals take the song into another plane altogether. "The Space in Between" is much darker, but it still has the general feel of a slow Nine Inch Nails song with female vocals. Overall, I think both songs are excellent, and I'm quite excited about hearing the full EP when it comes out - whether or not it's free, I'll be picking it up for sure.
I hope you enjoy these multi-tracks, and if you decide to do something creative with them, please leave a comment here to let me know where I can check it out. Happy listening!
My brother Mike (who wrote a post on this blog about Metallica a couple of years ago) is a pretty big fan of Bad Religion, so he's much more qualified to talk about them than I am. He says that the album has "one heck of a setlist," and that the first and last songs, which are from their debut album, "sound light years better here!" Also, if you visit the band's page on the Epitaph site, "you can click on the album covers on the bottom of the screen and download 1 or 2 songs from almost every single one of their releases. and that includes a few of their best songs, i.e. 'sorrow' from The Process of Belief. altogether you can download enough for a really nice little unofficial greatest hits record."
Okay, so this wasn't as short as I'd thought it would be, but that's mainly thanks to Mike. I hope you enjoy the album, and also the free MP3s from the record label's site if you decide to check then out. Happy listening!
Having never heard of Brian Ray before I read about this offer on Twitter, I didn't really know what to expect from this album. I ended up listening to the whole thing three times in a row last night before I decided I needed to get some sleep, and it was the first thing I listened to today; needless to say, I think it's a pretty cool album. The first song, "Good for Nothing", has a cool guitar riff that bends and twists all over the place; I actually get a bit of Tom Petty vibe from the verses, before the hard rocking chorus kicks in. The lyrics to "Vinyl" make some very creative use of album and artist names to weave a story about LPs that were stolen from the trunk of the narrator's car. "Soft Machine" is a slow rocker with a bit of a Led Zeppelin feel and some great guest vocals by Etta James.
The guitar playing on the entire album is excellent; Ray has a great sense of when to lay low and let the vocals and other instruments do the talking, and when to cut loose with a big, meaty riff or some tasteful slide playing. Remember, Mondo Magneto is only available for free until Sunday, May 16, so if it sounds like something that would interest you at all, go and download it immediately. Happy listening!
I can't help but think that an album like this has a very limited target audience; anyone who's not really fond of chiptunes/video game music or Pink Floyd would likely find very little to enjoy here. However, it could be that there's a bigger overlap between Pink Floyd fans and old school gamers than I think. Anyone who decides to check it out is in for a real treat, as the songs are all very well done, and they lend themselves surprisingly well to the chiptune sound. Every little nuance of the album is here in 8-bit form; one of my favourite moments is the sound of the coins at the beginning of "Money", which sounds like it could have been in an old Mario game (hmm... Mario covering Pink Floyd - there's something I don't think has been done yet. "Money, it's-a gas!").
MOON8 comes in the form of two 192 kbps MP3s, representing sides one and two of the original album, and weighing in at about 57.5 MB. Check it out, and please leave a comment letting me know what you think of it. Happy listening!
The entire album clocks in at less than half an hour, but it is definitely worth a listen for Star Wars fans - especially those who also happen to like instrumental guitar music. Happy listening, and may the Fourth be with you!
Spiral opens with a pair of playful, upbeat songs, "Dearly" and "Double-Edged Swords"; the latter never fails to put a smile on my face, with lines like "I’m running away, running faster still / Slamming into a wall / The trips that I take myself on / Always lead to a fall" being delivered at lightning speed. "Wake Up" is a heartrending appeal to a lover who has stopped trying and caring; this song was recorded live, and the pain and anger in the lyrics are conveyed unbelievably well by Allison's impassioned vocals. The title track has a dark and chaotic feel to it, aided by the relentless piano riff, some surprisingly low vocals, and a hard rocking, full band arrangement.
Speaking of arrangements, I think they are what really make Spiral stand out so much compared to the rest of Allison's material. Every song is given exactly the treatment it needs, enabling it to stand on its own as a great work of art, as well as with the rest of the songs as something that is truly greater than the sum of its parts. This is especially evident on songs like "Going Home Tonight", which features a beautiful, swirling soundscape that is absolutely mesmerizing (this song also features some extremely charming lyrics, with a few well-placed French words bringing it to another level), and "No Matter the Battle", which has some stunning interplay between the vocals, drums, and string section, with multiple crescendos being reached.
Most of Spiral can be downloaded for free from Jamendo; missing from this version are the cover songs - Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel No. 2", and two versions each of Hunters and Collectors' "Throw Your Arms Around Me" and Annie Lennox's "Why". This is because cover songs are handled by different licensing agreements, which basically makes it okay for them to be streamed but not downloaded for free. I'm not familiar with the original versions of any of these songs, but Allison's renditions of them are all incredible and well worth hearing. If you'd like to listen to the cover songs, you can check them out on Allison's own site, or on streaming sites like Grooveshark; alternatively, you can try to win a copy of the CD from Muruch, which is running a draw for two copies of the CD that ends on Friday, April 30.
I was a little surprised (but pleasantly so) to see that Trans-Siberian Orchestra have offered another song from their latest album, Night Castle, as a free download; you might recall that they previously offered "Child of the Night" as a time-limited free download. "Believe" is the latest song to be offered, and what's interesting is that it is actually being made available for a video contest; you can download both the album version and a "radio" version to use as the soundtrack for a video of "something/anything you believe in." I'm not particularly skilled in video creation, so I doubt I'll even attempt to enter a contest like this; however, for those who are so inclined, it looks like the prize is quite nice, so it might be worth your time.
"Believe" was originally released by Savatage on their 1991 album, Streets: A Rock Opera. Even though this is technically a cover version, Trans-Siberian Orchestra actually evolved from Savatage, so this song is much more representative of their sound than "Child of the Night" is. It opens quietly with piano and vocals, which are later joined by drums and distorted guitars; it is a power ballad through and through. I really like the way the vocals are delivered in this song, and there is a beautiful guitar solo near the end of the album version (the radio version basically strips out all the instrumental sections).
Both songs are available as high quality (320 kbps) MP3s. If anyone decides to make a video to go along with either version, please post a link to it here - I would love to take a look at anything that my readers create. Happy listening!
It's been quite a while since my last post here, due to a combination of being a little busier than usual and not being able to decide what to write about, as I am still listening to just as much free music as I always do. I'd actually like to pick things up right where I left off, though, with more music for the benefit of Haiti. Songs of Hope for Haiti is a free compilation album from Jamendo. While the album itself is free, listeners are encouraged to make a donation to Partners in Health, a Boston-based organization that helps to bring modern medical care to poor communities in nine countries, including Haiti.
I have to admit, I would most likely have given this album a pass were it not for the inclusion of an unreleased track by Allison Crowe (actually, I might not have even heard of it otherwise, since I read about it on her blog). But while her "Aquarius Rising" may be my favourite song on the album (and deservedly so - it's a beautiful acoustic ballad that is reminiscent of some of the material on her last album, the excellent Little Light), it is far from the only highlight. The entire album makes for a very interesting listen, all the way from the opening track, Celia Slattery's bouncy, upbeat, and irresistibly catchy "Seaglass" (which includes some very well-placed quotes from "All You Need is Love" and "What the World Needs Now is Love" near the end), to the closing track, Dennis Moser's beautiful ambient guitar piece, "Sunrise of Hope" (which, at 12:20, is by far the longest song on the album). The range of styles featured on the album is very diverse, even including such things as a solo violin improvisation (Yael Bat-Shimon's "Black Prison Song Meets Jewish Soul") and a choral piece (Zefiro's "Ave Regina caelorum").
Songs of Hope for Haiti makes a nice indie companion to Download to Donate for Haiti, another free album that encourages donations; you can read more about that one over at Feedback (formerly Music Musings). Download one or both of them, enjoy, and please remember to donate if you are able to. Happy listening!
http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/60529 (Songs of Hope for Haiti)
http://act.pih.org/page/outreach/view/personal/SongsOfHopeForHaiti (Partners in Health)
http://musicddm.blogspot.com/2010/01/free-download-friday-43-music-for.html (blog post about Download to Donate for Haiti)
This post will be a little different than my normal posts, in that there is currently no freely downloadable version of the song that it focuses on, but I think it's understandable given the circumstances. I'm certain that you are aware of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti last week, and also of the numerous relief efforts that are currently underway. Haitian-American artist Melissa Pierre-Louis has rewritten the words to "Touch Someone", an original Christmas song that she released last month (and which I actually posted about on my Free Christmas Music blog - please see that post if you would like to download that version of the song). The new version, called "Earthquake Song", can be viewed on the Operation Touch YouTube channel. It is hoped that this song and video will help people to reach out to the people of Haiti. I am sure that anything you can do, whether it be making a donation or just sharing this video with others to help increase their awareness of the situation, would be greatly appreciated by those who need it. Please do whatever you can to help!
Hmm, nice. Looks like the widget that the Smashing Pumpkins have created for Teargarden by Kaleidyscope (which I added to my post about "Song for a Son" last month) automatically updates when new songs become available. Which is kind of a roundabout way of saying that the album's second song, "Widow Wake My Mind", was released on Monday and can be downloaded directly from the band's official website. I really like the odd-time guitar riff that opens the song, as well as the different keyboard textures that underscore much of the song.
At the current rate of one song every 41 days, the entire 44 track album should be complete by sometime in October, 2014. I'm sure that will change as more songs become available, but it's still fun to think about what a huge undertaking this album is. Happy listening!
I was planning to start the year off by writing about some great video game music that I'd found lately. Last week's post about the Machinarium Bonus EP was the first step in that direction, and I had another excellent album that I wanted to write about this week. However, when I went back to the site I downloaded it from, I noticed that that album was only the tip of a very large iceberg, so I'm going to take some time to listen to at least some of the new music I've found there and give it a more comprehensive writeup.
For now, I'd like to post about Grayson Matthews' cover of The Beatles' "All You Need is Love". This song is currently being featured in an ad campaign by Blackberry, and the full version can be downloaded from the Blackberry website. I like this version of the song, even though there seems to be a great amount of negativity about it. It doesn't feel anything like the original version, but I think that's mainly where its charm lies - the original version will always be there for anyone who wants to hear it, but it's nice to hear an artist try something completely different every once in a while.
Whether you're a Beatles fan, a Blackberry fan, or you just like cover versions in general, I think this song is definitely worth a download. Either way (or even if you don't like it), I'd love to hear your thoughts about it. Do you think songs like this should be used in advertising, or should they be left alone? Would the ad have worked better with the original version of the song in it? Happy listening!
Happy New Year! I hope that 2009 was as good as it could have been for you, and that 2010 is shaping up to be a good one as well. I'll do my best to ensure that the musical side of things is at least interesting. I'd like to start off with a little EP that was released back in November: the Machinarium Bonus EP.
Machinarium, for those unfamiliar with it, is a puzzle adventure game that was released last fall for multiple operating systems. It has been widely hailed as one of the best independent releases of 2009, and after having played through most of it (I'm still working on the rest), I can easily see why. The hand-drawn graphics are gorgeous, and the gameplay is extremely engaging - as soon as one puzzle has been solved, the little robot character proceeds to another location, which is often bigger and more complex than the previous one. It reminds me (very favourably) of some of the older adventure games I used to play like Day of the Tentacle, The Dig, and Sam and Max Hit the Road, although with more emphasis on puzzles and brain teasers in addition to the inventory-based gameplay of those games. The free demo on the game's website that gives a good taste of what it is like in case you'd like to experience it firsthand.
Those who purchase the game get a free MP3 copy of the entire soundtrack, but like the demo, this bonus EP is completely free for anyone who wants it. There is a nice variety of music on its five tracks, from the jazzy, percussive "The Robot Band Tune" (a song which comes together piece by piece in the game), to the absolutely grooving "Pipe Wrench Dubstep", to the more mellow and atmospheric "By the Wall". I haven't heard all of these songs within the game yet, but the ones I have heard are actually incorporated into the game extremely well, serving as little rewards for solving some of the longer puzzles.
If you're a fan of video game music at all, this EP is well worth checking out (and you may want to see some more free video game music that I've featured in the past). Let me know what you think about the music, and also the game itself if you decide to play it. Happy listening!