Category Archives: Resources

June’s Swag: Free (& Legal) Music Downloads

Ok, I’m hideously behind on posts here, so this month (well, last month, actually) gets the cuckoo clock bag.

Don’t forget about Denovali’s new MP3 store, either, with 17 different releases available for free.

Damn Robot! – Hunang Skrímsli
Electronic/Ambient | 78MB – 320 kbps MP3s
I reviewed this a short while ago on [sic], but if you missed that all you need to know is that this low-key release combines elements of ambient electronica, trip hop and post rock, resulting in a lovely album that is both soothing mood music and an energised listen.

Battle Pope – Pantless Carnage EP
Punk/Thrash/Grind | 27MB – 320 kbps MP3s
Featuring members from Aussie bands Adrift For Days, Serious Beak, Kill A Celebrity and Ebolie, and probably not recommended for taking along to your Sunday School Social – unless you feel like being forcefully baptised in whatever they find handy (holy water, fire…) Also, whenever I play this, I pretend there’s only five tracks; I did listen to about a minute of the last track, once.

Balmorhea – Daytrotter Session
Acoustic/Instrumental| 13MB 128 kbps MP3
The second session from Austin’s 6-piece instrumental group, and a highly recommended one at that. Quite a bit more energetic than the last session – which was quite mellow and folky, this probably falls somewhere between The Monroe Transfer and GY!BE. You can grab them here.

Beko / Skrot Up – Compilation
Experimental/Lo-Fi | 116MB – 320 kbps MP3s
One of the best labels (Skrot Up) around for lo-fi, experimental indie music, teamed up with digital singles label Beko for this free compilation. Featuring 12 tracks by different artists and described as “slowed down dirges, strange sounds, punchy beats, 8-bit manifestos, prolonged explorations of lateral thinking (that sounds familiar!), synth creepers, warped pop, syrupy industrial and weird metallic clatter.”

Look for this cover on the site:

ATP I’ll Be Your Mirror London Mixtape
Almost two hours in duration, this mixtape is exactly what the title suggests and features artists such as GY!BE, Portishead, Swans, PJ Harvey, Grinderman plus a whole bunch of others. You can download it from the player below, or check here for more info.

Bat For Lashes – 10 Best Cover Songs
Another collection, ranked and offered via Stereogum, this time it’s (mostly) a bunch of lo-fi live recordings, with BFL covering The Cure (twice), Radiohead, Depeche Mode, et al. Sound quality etc is variable, but worth the downloads for fans. Go grab them here. (If you check it out, you might notice a link in the comments section to SVELTA’s version of Horse And I – another free download, and worth following up).

Fear And Loathing
Punk/Rock | 13MB – 128 kbps MP3s
These guys have been stalwarts of the Adelaide scene for a long time (I still have my F&L “Beer Fat is Good Fat” stubby holder, bought circa 1994). You can get three tracks via JJJ’s Unearthed site – go get edumacated.

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May’s Swag: Free (& Legal) Music Downloads

Looking at that picture, I’m not sure why I insist on pictures of bags to accompany these posts. I’ve seen some strange and weird ones, but this Foundling design by James Piatt wins the WTF Award for coming with accessories to customise the bag in order to represent various famous, deserted babies; including an open window for MJ’s son. Why did I choose it? I dunno, I guess I just like to share everything that makes an impression on me. Shake your head and move on to the awesome music below.

Quite a few single tracks up for grabs this month (including the Graveface previews I mentioned the other day).

Her Name Is Calla – Long Grass (Live at Left Bank Leeds)
Acoustic/Folk | 10MB – 192 kbps MP3
A lovely (albeit hushed) live rendition of Long Grass.

Adrift For Days – Along The Moon River/The Leech (Live at The Pony)
Blues/Doom/Psych | 12MB – 320 kbps MP3
Two live tracks from the ever-awesome Adrift For Days, available individually via Bandcamp.

Moby – The Day (Orchestral Instrumental)
 Ambient/Downtempo| 8MB 320 kbps MP3
More free stuff from Moby, with a lovely classical instrumental version of The Day, in exchange for an email address (as before). Get it here.

From Oceans to Autumn – The Flood/The Fall
Post Metal/Instrumental | 45MB – 320 kbps MP3s (+PDF files)
One of the latest additions to the Silber roster, with these two tracks being offered by way of an intro to the band. Recommended for those that like label-mates Irata, or anyone who likes energetic, instrumental music. Grab them here.

While I’m talking about free stuff from Silber Records, one thing I’ve never mentioned is their  mini-comics, which are pretty much exactly what the name suggests: comic books the size of a matchbox. You can buy printed copies of issues as well as the first 10 issues of Lost Kisses on DVD, but many are also available free to download.

Erma – Erma
Folk/Blues/Jazz | 64MB – 320 kbps MP3s
A very nicely done folk album with blues and jazz elements, available from Bandcamp as a ‘Name Your Price’ download. Recommended for those who like Basia Bulat and Joan as Police Woman.

Radiohead – 20 Best Cover Songs
Best as decided and ranked by Stereogum, which is where you can go get these tracks. Not that I have any arguments to enter into how/why this list was decided. Each one is available to download individually (except All For The Best, as it’s a charity single available through iTunes). Lots of Neil Young covers – I personally recommend the collab with Sparklehorse (RIP), with the cover of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here (which is the only track out of 20 I already had, I just thought I’d mention). Go grab them here.

Harvey Milk – Live at Spiro’s in Austin, TX on 3/14/2008
Stoner Rock/Doom/Metal | 61MB – 256 kbps MP3s
6-track live set from the above show, and a great way to introduce yourself to the slow, heavy and loud sound of Harvey Milk or a nice addition to their albums if you already have. Available from Free Music Archive.

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Bandcamp & How To (Let Someone Else) Use It

What's Homer Simpson got to do with any of this? Not much at all, really, except his campaign slogan - Can't Someone Else Do It? - got stuck in my head after I wrote that title. Let's just say he's pointing at something kinda cool, like I'm about to.

Back when I first started writing about music here, I posted about some of my favourite online music resources. Things have changed a bit since then, like Amazon buying out Amie Street (which sucked), but Bandcamp has consistently proven to be one of the best, for artists and listeners alike.

Changes – as far as I know – have been relatively minor, but every little tweak makes the site much more user-friendly from the casual browser point of view. A year ago, I lamented the lack of options for consumers to use the site simply to discover something new – the way the site worked best was if you already knew what you were looking for. This is still fairly true; you can surf tags, which are most commonly genres, moods and locations, but even then a lot of releases remain hidden by tags that are too few or too obscure.

More recently, Bandcamp has introduced a feature where artists can recommend other albums to customers who download their releases. In action, once you’re taken to the page where you can access the download, any albums that have been actively recommended will appear below the download link.

I think this is a great idea, and one that I hope is well-utilised by the artists and labels that use Bandcamp. Personally, I’d like to see this expanded to various other methods people can use to browse the site and find music – I often just take a look at the first page of most recently added releases (unfiltered by tags) and have a bit of a listen to anything that attracts my attention, but as that means I’m browsing over 400 releases on the one page, making a judgement call based simply on name, title and cover art can sometimes be very wrong, and I certainly don’t have the time to listen to them all.

As there is no standardised tagging or categorisation on Bandcamp, I’d really like to see the tags the artists have chosen for individual releases on that initial page in a small summary (or perhaps just the top 3, as chosen by them), at least that would make having user-customisable tags a little more worthwhile.

In the absence of that – if I found the time – I thought it would be a brilliant idea to start a regular feature, or even a different blog, dedicated to finding and featuring great releases available on Bandcamp. The problem is, I don’t really have the resources for that, time or otherwise, thus I introduced the month-end swag posts featuring (free) music from all over the place instead. Also, I’m not the only one who thought this was a great idea, nor was I even the first – more importantly, other people have put this idea into action.

I stumbled upon two sites this evening that are doing exactly that, and worth a moment or two to check out:

bandcamp hunter – daily posts, no preferred genres stated other than local (Melbourne, Australia) artists.

BandCampLike – also daily posts, highlighting ambient, electronic, classical and metal releases.

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Thanks For Your Time

A huge thank you to everyone who participated in the recent music format survey, it was awesome to get well more than 10x the number of respondents than the last little survey I ran. The results, while still serving as a fairly general indication, supported a number of pre-existing thoughts and contradicted a few others, so all up it’s been an interesting and worthwhile endeavour, as well as a great help to the associated projects I have in mind.

I’ve emailed a copy of the results to all participants who requested them, and also uploaded a copy of the results in a pdf document, which can be viewed in your browser by clicking the link below or downloaded by right-clicking and selecting ‘save as’.

As yet, I have done only a small amount of data interpretation and analysis, so the results are predominantly raw data, but do give some insight to the most popular choices when it comes to finding, buying and listening to music. The general focus of the survey was intended to detect any difference between how music is valued on digital formats vs. physical formats, and while we all know most people expect to pay less (or nothing) for a digital download, I also had an interest in how a digital release is valued once it is part of someone’s music collection – my questions were not particularly in-depth or probing in that regard, but the survey did turn up a few interesting results.

Once again, sincere thanks to those who gave of their time to complete the survey, it is hugely appreciated.

Music Format Survey Results

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How Much “Maw” Do You Want?

I know I already mentioned this a while back, but I received a copy of Maw just the other day, thus completing my Her Name Is Calla collection (from The White and The Skin onwards, anyway); so to celebrate, I went Bitstripping at 2 in the morning.

That actually sounds a little nasty, but you know what I mean. I hope. If not, Bitstrips is where anyone with or without talent can produce comic strips like the one above in a mere matter of moments.

It is perhaps a travesty how easy the internet makes it to convince myself I have awesome comic powers and then foist the results on my readers, but I promise I’m trying to use said “powers” for good and not evil…mostly.

As always, the cover art for the EP is something special unto itself, and Denovali have done a great job bringing it all to life with simple, but top quality packaging.

The limited clear gold and black haze vinyl editions  (100 originally available) sold out pretty quick, but you can still get the standard black vinyl edition (200 originally available) . This won’t be re-pressed, so once it’s gone your only option will be to grab the download from the Bandcamp page. Which you can anytime, anyway.

Get the vinyl here or here.

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Something To Do With 15 Minutes

…Besides be famous, that is.

Ok, so being famous is (probably) a lot more fun, but I’m sure if you filmed yourself while taking the survey I’m about to encourage you to take, you could either pretend it was a voyeuristic member of the paparazzi and get increasingly infuriated at being filmed during such a private, domestic moment; or dress up and recite your favourite Shakespeare/Spielberg movie/Simpsons quotes, thus feeling a bit like a star – put it on YouTube and send me a link. I promise I’ll watch it¹.

That’s how much fun surveys can be!

No, seriously, it’s 45 questions. About music – the way you acquire it, mostly. It’ll take around 15 minutes to answer all the questions (a little more if you have more to do/say than tick the boxes next to appropriate answers), but you don’t even have to do that and can skip any you don’t want to answer.

The answers will help me with a feature article I have planned for the future, and assist some decision-making in regards to a different project currently in the works, so anyone who takes the time to answer even just a few of the questions will have my eternal gratitude; which is pretty much it in terms of what I can offer those who generously volunteer their time (well, that and a modicum of voyeurism – see 1).

Also, if you happen to know one of those rare souls who love doing surveys, please send them the following link.

Click here to take my super-awesome survey

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Disclaimers:

  1. Offer applies to the first minute only – or until there’s nudity, whichever happens sooner.
  2. May not be super-awesome; individual user-experience and awesomeness are subject to various conditions  that are beyond my control.

April’s Swag – Free (& Legal) Music Downloads

April's Swag - bite-sized, but very tempting (and even a bit delicious)

Once again, there’s been so much going on this month that I’ve spared little time to dig up the best bits from the nether regions of the internet. Lucky for us both, I don’t have to look very far to find something worth bringing to your attention – to recap those I already have:

After that, I suggest sinking your teeth into these:

Heinali and Matt Finney – Plainsong
Shoegaze/Drone/Ambient | 15MB – 320 kbps MP3
You may have caught the recent Conjoined review over at [sic], if not, this duo blend heavy shoegaze-drone a la The Angelic Process/Nadja, with spoken word vocals. These guys have got quite a few things in store for this year, with another album set for release later this spring on Paradigms Recordings titled Ain’t No Night – keep your eyes and ears out for more info soon, as there’s some seriously good stuff going on with that. Currently available for free download on Bandcamp right now is their take on The Cure’s Plainsong and Radiohead’s Creep. To top it off, from May 1st, Dreamcatcher – a half-hour soundtrack over two movements (Lucifer 1 and Panopticon), which recently accompanied a photo exhibit – will go up as a ‘name your price’ download, with all funds raised going towards financing another album later this year; some very absorbing work all-round.

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Wild Dogs In Winter – Homba*
Post Rock/Ambient | 120MB – 320 kbps MP3s
Released last year but only just recently brought to my attention, this nicely done 10-track album has more than enough weight to grab – and keep – the attention of Blueneck, I Like Trains, Our Ceasing Voice and Her Name Is Calla fans. Available on Bandcamp as a digital download (or purchase the CD).

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Sleepy Sun – Marina
Psych/Stoner Rock | 14MB – 320 kbps MP3
If you know me, you know I can’t get enough of these guys and their particularly sparkling blend of hazy psych/stoner rock. To celebrate their upcoming US tour, Sleepy Sun have made a live version of the single Marina available for free download, which you can grab here.

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Other Lives – For 12
Folk/Rock | 6MB 192 kbps MP3
It was nice to see this new track go up on RCRD LBL the other day, as I’m quite fond of Other Lives’ self-titled debut. (Not so nice to see RCRD LBL decide to go the same direction as Daytrotter and disallow direct downloads without registering for a user account – they better not introduce a poorly functioning, site-specific “download manager”). Slightly more old-school psych-folk in this track, but very nice indeed – grab it here.

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NeTE – Greatest Non-Hits 1 LP
Industrial/Gothic/Lo-Fi – 73MB 128 kbps MP3s
Some of you may remember my Australian music special from a while back, and briefly mentioning I couldn’t recall any Australian goth bands I was into during the 90’s. Well, while I was trying to jog my memory, I happened upon a site called Shame File Music – a label dedicated to experimental Australian music. Long story slightly shorter, I grabbed this collection of tracks, and while I can’t say I heard them back then, I can say there’s some stuff here worthy of a listen now. Grab them from Internet Archive.

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*These are available as ‘name your price’ downloads. For Bandcamp releases, you are able to enter any amount, including $0. For Mamaleek’s Kurdaitcha, voluntary donations (via PayPal) to support the artists can be made through the Enemies List download page linked above. As always, though I know times are tough, I encourage sparing a few bucks where and when you can to support the artists making the music you enjoy.