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This Week's Free Song Downloads
A Sunny Day in Glasgow
Passionate introverts (Dinosaurs)
Mis Ojos Discos
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A sneak peak at A Sunny Day in Glasgow's shimmering opus, Ashes Grammar (out Tuesday, September 15), via this free song download of "Passionate introverts (Dinosaurs.) " The Philadelphia band continue to re-imagine shoegazing as a whole, pulling from music concrete, electronica, and dream pop, and coming up with something that's altogether otherworldly and indescribable.
Hooting & Howling
Domino Recording Co
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Free song download of "Hooting & Howling," taken off Wild Beasts' new full-length, Two Dancers, out now on Domino. Fronted by Hayden Thorpe, whose inimitable dramatic falsetto gives Antony a good run for the money, the band's new album is one of the most original "indie" albums you'll hear all year, spanning skewed rock, '70s pop, disco, highlife and everything in between.
This Week's Featured Downloads
As Good As Gone
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One of the lesser known, but always rewarding bands on Kranky's roster, Nudge take us on another journey down the mellow, moody, and dub-strewn road they've been traversing for some years now. Nudge are a three-piece consisting of leader Brian Foote, Honey Owens (Valet/Jackie-O MF/Atlas Sound) and Paul Dickow (Strategy), with guests here including Marc Hellner (Pulseprogramming), Jon Pyle and Mat Morgan. Together they weave a loosely knit web of sounds, combining acoustic and electronic instrumentation seamlessly, an organic mix of guitar, synth, electronics, minimal drums and percussion. The opening track "Harmo" feels like a full band fed through a harmonium, as swelling effect-laden male and female vocals and atmospherics rise and fall effortlessly, conjuring a mystic brew. As Good As Gone is definitely the band's most accomplished and accessible work to date, bringing all the unique elements from the individuals involved to their rich and ripe potential, one part post-rock, one part shoegaze, and a dose of drifting dub with just the slightest touch of freak folk, and barely a hint of indie rock. There's lots to get lost in, though at times it feels like not much is happening. Their strength comes from the gentle tug of emotion and the rubbery stretching of sound and melody. Sometimes less is more, and here's a perfect example. Recommended.
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Great to see this title available again, a ramshackle yet invigorating performance of one of Terry Riley's more obscure pieces, recorded with a student band in Stockholm, 1967. Probably the reason this isn't more well known is that of all his works it's probably closest conceptually Riley's masterpiece "In C," so naturally remains somewhat overlooked. There's a similar pulse at play, along with instructions to repeat movements after certain intervals, but the piece pretty much remains in one key throughout making it a perhaps more insistent experience than its better known cousin. The student ensemble is probably not seasoned enough to fully pull it off, but there is a palpable sense of the energy of youth that comes through that makes up what they may lack in discipline and chops. As it happens, many involved viewed the experience as a transformative moment in their lives, as evidenced by the subsequent groups Parson Sound, Algernas Tradgard, and Trad Gras och Stenar, all of whom had members involved in that fateful student production of a little known Terry Riley piece.
Wayfaring Strangers: Lonesome Heroes
The Numero Group
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The first two Wayfaring Strangers compilations focused on the musical followers of John Fahey and Joni Mitchell, and now the series returns with Lonesome Heroes, an absolutely outstanding collection of private-press loner folk gems. The homegrown singer-songwriters on this disc channel the likes of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Tom Rapp, Mickey Newbury and Tim Hardin... each in their own slightly off-kilter way, of course. If you're a fan of that sort of thing, then you're probably going to love just about all of the dusty obscurities on here, from the cracked genius of Jim Schoenfeld's anti-war/environmentalist anthem "Before," to Jack Hardy's epic ballad "The Taylor," and the haunting "No Love Lost" from Tucker Zimmerman's Tony Visconti-produced debut album (which someone really ought to reissue in its entirety). Wayfaring Strangers: Lonesome Heroes is one of the strongest compilations the Numero Group has put together to date. As always, the guys from the label have included brief biographies for each of the artists, who include numerous Vietnam veterans as well as draft dodgers, a priest, an ABC-Dunhill promotions director, a future motivational speaker, and even a professional hockey player. It's a weird and wonderful group of musicians, and a totally gripping collection of songs.
-Rob Hatch Miller
Everything Goes Wrong
In the Red
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As any recipient of "the next big thing" hype knows, when it comes time for the follow-up it seems that there are just as many people ready to tear you down as there were to build you up on the previous record. With that in mind, no doubt, the Vivian Girls set out to make their sophomore album. And while all of the elements that made their debut so fresh are still here in spades -- '60s girl-group harmonies, joyful enthusiasm, tons and tons of reverb and great songs -- there are many noticeable differences. The first and biggest change is new drummer Ali Koehler. She transforms the band into a rock machine giving Cassie Ramone and Kickball Katy a much faster yet more stable base to build on. The second would be their choice to record their album with Mike McHugh at the Distillery. Long a staple of the West Coast punk scene, McHugh helps create a massive wall of sound of incredible buzzing guitar and throbbing low end with the vocals trying to make their way out of the mix. More than anything it reminds me of vintage Hüsker Dü and the more you listen the better it gets. That isn't to say that there aren't some jangle-pop gems here. "Can't Get Over You" would have fit nicely on the first record, but the album's most affecting moments come when they get into some heads-down jams like the four-minute-plus (whoa!) "Out for the Sun" where the group seem much more concerned with playing the shit out the song, and loving it. Overall, Everything Goes Wrong is a much more difficult and dense record but extremely true to who Vivian Girls are as people and as a band and for that I commend them. You should too.