Review : Lots of free music

I may get round to reviewing The Mars Volta, Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth and Placebo, but as you can read about all of these in a fair few other places I thought I’d concentrate on a couple of months worth of free music (all licensed under Creative Commons so download away).

The Sound of Music by Pinkle

I like this a lot. It’s lazy, charming and creative indie music, and fits the mood of a summer week off work perfectly. I’ve just downloaded two more albums in the hope that they are at least half as good (see http://www.jamendo.com/en/artist/Pinkle for a full catalogue of releases). I’d buy “The Sounds of Music” and will certainly be trying to find out more about the artist (EDIT: I’ve now found a website at http://www.pinklemusic.com which explains more).

Dinner for One by Amity in Fame

Quite heavy, in a largely acoustic way (in the same was the new Mars Volta album is). I like this, and have found that it has got better with each listen. The only downside is that I’ve not wanted to play it from end to end for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on. Certainly a burn it, although the title track in particular I’d pay for.

Animals are People Too by The Wind Whistles

A record I waited over a year for, and one which has not disappointed. The songs are shorter than the last album, but there are more of them and they have a more indie rock feel to them. None of these are a bad thing, and I would gladly file it next to “Window Sills”, which has been played a very large number of times over the last year.

So High by Le Galago

A British melodic indie group who come from Birkenhead, and sound a lot like Muse to my ears. This is not a bad thing as such, and they certainly have a sound (and in particular a singer) that could take them places. I like this, but it doesn’t tell me anything new about the world or myself, but I’m more than happy to listen to their songs when they appear on my playlist.

2 Days a Night by The Liquid Kitchen

I downloaded this a while ago, and listened to it a fair bit on my way to and from work. To my ears they sound a lot like Neil Young fronting a bar band, and I really have to remind myself on occasions that I’m not actually listening to Neil Young. Great if that is what you are after, but it seems like this really is their only trick and I’m not sure it would stretch to a second album without an input of new ideas. Worth a download though.

Born in the USB by William Doyle

I downloaded this for the title alone, but the music itself is rather fine too. It’s indie with a slight psychedelic edge, and opening track “Beneath the Soil” is possibly my favourite song of the last few weeks. It tails off a bit towards the end, but still warrants a good few listens.

Review : Stages by Abscondo

I reviewed the first Abscondo album a while ago, and actually still listen to it a fair bit. So I was actually quite nervous about downloading the second one in case it didn’t live up to my expectations. Thankfully Stages builds on Midnight Snow, whilst at the same time not deviating too much from the style that made the first album so enthralling. It’s mainly all about the lyrics, which make me think a lot, and which are both political and personal without making me feel uncomfortable. There are also a couple of melodies that stick in my head like glue, which makes me think I’ll be dipping in to this album over and over again.

It’s availabe for free from Jamendo, and from the artist’s website, and available to buy from iTunes.

An interesting find

I was going to write something about an album by a new British folk singer that I downloaded yesterday, but then tonight I stumbled upon a newer mini album and thought I should probably lump them both together as two records that anyone who likes folk music, music with lyrics, or just music should download and play to death. Robin Grey likes Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen a lot. He also knows how to write songs, carry a melody, and has a decent grasp of crafting unusual but still accessable lyrics. I’ve played “Only the Missile” a few times over the last 24 hours, but think that “I Love Leonard Cohen” (particularly the title track) shows even more promise, and certainly stands head and shoulders above certain other British singer-songwriters who get played on the radio a lot and have the first name James.

I’ve also downloaded a fair amount of good music from emusic (Julain Cope, The Wedding Present, Okkervil River and I Am Kloot), but that will have to wait for another post.

Review : Atlantis, Oh Our Saviour by The Rest

I downloaded this album because I liked the front cover. It reminded me of “Funeral” by The Arcade Fire, and I thought that as The Rest were also Canadian they might be operating in the same sort of area. Reviews of this album have even likened it to The Arcade Fire, but also to U2 and other fairly large and commercial bands.

“Atlantis, Oh Our Saviour” sounds a little like quite a few bands I like, but also does a good job of sounding exactly like it should. There are quiet parts, loud parts, and screamed-into-the-microphone parts (sometimes within the same song). There is rock, orchestral pop, electronica, and a strong sense that this is the start of something beautiful.

I feel the same way I felt when I first heard The Fleet Foxes, The Arcade Fire or (if you can remember that far back) Jeff Buckley’s “Grace”. I can’t pick out favourite tracks because you just have to listen to it all and see if you have room for it in your life.

“Atlantis, Oh Our Saviour” can be downloaded for free from Jamendo.

One album a month for how long?

British singer/songwriter Sean Wright has been releasing one full album a month for the past year and a half. A couple of weeks ago I started to dip into these, and have so far downloaded about 30 songs, all of which I like to a greater or lesser degree.

It makes me wonder how much longer he’ll keep doing this, and whether he will ever run out of songs. I also wonder how many of these albums will make it onto Jamendo, because Last.fm is really best suited to individual tracks.

Briefly

Kouki deleted all their albums from Jamendo, which is slightly annoying as I’d only got about half way through downloading them.

I must have listened to about 24 hours worth of new music this week, and as I’m off work on Monday I might even get a chance to review some of it.

Review : 13 Segundos de Caida Libre by Icarus Crash

Icarus Crash are a melodic hard rock group from Malaga in Spain. They sing in Spanish, with a few English phrases thrown in on occasion (I think).

As I’m not really a fan of the genre, I didn’t expect to like this as much as I do. It sounds like a more compact and more melodic The Mars Volta, but also has a great deal of crossover potential, and I think that this would be a bit hit in rock clubs as it has the sort of energy that will drag people up to dance even if they don’t normally like to. My favourite track is “Ro”, but there isn’t a bad track on it really, and the whole listening experience is really enjoyable, which was a nice surprise.

The whole album can be streamed or downloaded for free from Jamendo.

Review : Window Sills by The Wind Whistles

I was going to wait to review this until Sunday, but as I’ve listened to it a fair few times over the last 24 hours I thought it was worth sharing.

Window Sills by The Wind Whistles – They think they sound like the Violent Femmes and the Lemonheads. Other people compare them with The Decemberists and the Moldy Peaches. I’d agree with all the above and add the White Stripes and the Fiery Furnaces to the mix.

The music has a traditional edge, but deals with modern (yet universal) subjects. Both singers can sing, and it sounds like they would be amazing in a live setting (anywhere from a concert hall to a camp fire).

I think I’ve just found my “walking to work” record for the next few days.

Sounds from beyond the realm of reason

I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago (maybe longer) on how I sometimes really like to listen to songs sung in languages I don’t understand. I think I’d rather not know what the lyrics mean than to hear them and be disappointed that they don’t do the music justice. I’ve been listening to a lot of music in foreign languages recently, but also a lot of instrumental music and things that fall somewhere in-between.

I will now attempt to describe these sounds.

Azhrak : Below the Arctic Ocean
– This is a single track of keyboard based atmospherica, which really works on several levels and which suggests should a full-length work appear at some point it will be rather special.

Death by Panda : One Fifteen Four Four (direct download link) – This is the followup to “House Made of Glass”. It’s got less vocals, but still works on most of the levels that it’s predecessor operates in.

Kouki : Revolute
– I don’t know what to make of this group. They have recorded hours of music, mostly in huge blocks of sound like this. I would describe “Revolute” as mainly ambient music, and very worth listening to, but don’t expect everything else they have recorded to be either of these things. I’m considering putting together a CD of some of their shorter works to see if they make more sense in bite-sized chunks which I suspect they will.

Saint-Jean : Zikophren – The new album from my favourite French group is a bit of a departure, in that it actually moves beyond the Chanson sound they have trademarked into something a little more modern. Feedback lurks under the surface of a couple of tracks, and it is a darker and more satisfying album than anything that has gone before.

Tryad : Listen – This is one of the most popular albums on Jamendo, so I thought I’d give it a listen. The first track is amazing, but after that is meanders along and doesn’t really go anywhere. This is a fairly good album, and probably the most professional sounding set of songs I’ve reviewed this week; it just lacks a little soul.

Usta : Pierwszy Pocałunek – Polish progressive jazz with vocals anyone? I like this, but would only listen to it when alone or on headphones. And I can’t even begin to understand what they are singing about which I suspect is a good thing.