Friday, 31 July 2009

Free Download Friday #20: The Gutter Twins

I was listening again to the Classic Rock Podcast (the one where I heard about the Duff McKagan free download of Dark Days - see Free Download Friday #8). In the podcast, Duff talked about some of the vocalists he liked and he talked about Mark Lanegan and in particular The Gutter Twins.

Duff raved about their album, Saturnalia, and especially the opening track, All Misery/Flowers. It's good and well worth the download cost. However, I went for a look to see what I could find for free. :-)

You can hear some tracks on their MySpace page but when I found my way to Sub Pop!, their record label, I was pleased to find a track available for download.

It's not the opening track recommended by Duff, but one called Idle Hands. I like it. Noisy, dark and menacing. The main vocals are gravelly and growley but nicely complimented by the other vocalist, especially on the chorus. There are also two videos available from The Gutter Twins page, including one for the album's opening track.

I'm going to have to spend a bit more time on the Sub Pop! pages since they have a huge number of artists listed and quite a few songs and videos available for download. The band that immediately caught my eye was the Flight of the Conchords, who have two songs and a video available for download. If you have never seen the Flight of the Conchords, do yourself a favour and track down their TV show today.

Does anybody else want to recommend a Sub Pop! artist or two that's worth a listen?

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Joan Armatrading's Favourite Guitarists

I'm thoroughly enjoying Joan Armatrading's Favourite Guitarists programmes on BBC Radio 4. One more programme to go but the full list of guitarists she's talking to is:
  1. Mark Knopfler
  2. Bonnie Raitt
  3. John Williams
  4. Russell Lissack
  5. Bert Jansch
An interesting range of guitarists and styles I think you'll agree. Try to catch them on Listen Again before they disappear.

My only problem with the programmes is they are way to short. At fifteen minutes long, they don't have time to properly explore the stuff they are talking about.

Let me know what you think of the programmes. If you feel like it, let me know who your five favourite guitarists would be.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Free Download Friday #19: John Wesley

I think I first heard about John Wesley through his connection with Porcupine Tree. He has toured (or is touring?) with Porcupine Tree and has also worked with Fish and co-wrote a good chunk of at least one of Fish's albums.

John Wesley
Originally uploaded by Paul Henman
The reason he features on a Free Download Friday post is that you can download all his solo albums, from his website, for free. Yes, all! His website says:
"John Wesley's entire back catalog of music is available as MP3 downloads at no cost. To access the download page, please enter your email address below so we can let you know about new music releases, downloads, and live performances by John Wesley."
Brilliant! His entire solo back catalogue.

Go to the download page, enter your name and email address and Flo's your aunty - you'll have access to all his solo stuff for free (although he does provide links where you can make a contribution via Paypal if you want).

With so much to choose from, where do you start? I would suggest his 2005 album Shiver (mixed by Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree) and if you want a recommended track, I would start with Pretty Lives - the opening track. He clearly has impressive Prog Rock credentials, and although some proginess can be detected in this album, don't let that put you off if you are not a prog fan. He is a good rock guitarist and this is a great rock album... and it's free!

Let me know what you think of John and tell me what your favourite tracks are.

P.S. Sorry for the long gap between posts but I was at a conference last week and out of Internet contact and since then I've been too tired or too busy!

Friday, 10 July 2009

Free Download Friday #18: Rob Tognoni

I don't know how to pronounce Rob Tognoni's name... but I know he is a blues rock guitarist from Australia and that he's jolly good. I also know that if you go to his website and sign up for to his mailing list, every so often he'll direct you to a free download and that's jolly good too.

His website links to his YouTube pages where you should be able to get a good idea of what he sounds like:

His last download offer was interesting. His email said:
"If you go to the page specified below and forward the promo email on, you will receive by email a link to another free mp3 - "Dark Angel & Bad Girl (Acoustic)" Recorded live at Radio 66, Colmar, France - 2005.

If you could also forward the email you receive on to EVERYONE you's a win / win situation! ;-)"
I thought this was a good idea and intended to save it for a Free Music Friday but I already had something lined up for that week and then... I forgot about it. Sorry Rob.

However, the download page is still active (and available in German too), so if you want Rob's version of Hey Joe and the chance to download another track by forwarding the offer to a friend, head over there now... Then come back here and let me know what you think of Rob

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Free Download Friday #17: Ha Ha Tonka

This is why it makes good business sense to give away free downloads... I can't remember where I first heard about Ha Ha Tonka's sessions for HearYa Music blog but I downloaded, for free, five live tracks from HearYa Live Session 8. I liked what I heard... so I went and paid money for their debut album - Buckle In The Bible Belt. :-)

About the songs
The band has an indie-rock sound with some alt-country and a good bit of gospel/blues thrown in. Now, it has to be said, a description like that would not normally make me think, "Hmm! I must have a listen." but on this occasion, I'm glad I did. The lead singer (Brian Roberts I think) has an interesting voice and the other chaps in the band add some close harmonies that sound great.

All five tracks are good but three leap out in particular.

Caney Mountain: A dark tale, apparently based on a true story, about a preacher fleeing a lynch mob after murdering a girl. An outstandingly good track that got five stars on my iPod on first listen. The video is appropriately dark and unsettling:

Hangman: An a cappella rendition of a traditional song that is (I think) a version of Gallis Pole. Impressive harmonies - especially from a live take.

St. Nick on the Fourth in a Ferver: Probably my favourite of the five tracks available for free.

Available on eMusic: Declaration of interest
Both of the current Ha Ha Tonka albums can be found on eMusic. If you sign up for eMusic as a result of following this link, I get some extra free downloads but I would highly recommend this site anyway as a great source of cheap, legal, music for download.

The HearYa site has so many MP3s available for download, it is difficult to know where to start. Well, start with Ha Ha Tonka but after that it gets difficult. :-) This appears to be another example of sponsored downloads as the session is "Sponsored by Beernuts". When I first started thinking about this, I wondered if established acts would be more likely to get sponsorship, leaving new acts struggling to get started. However, both today's site and last week's seem to be sponsoring up and coming music, which is excellent.

What do you think?
So what do you think of Ha Ha Tonka? What do you think of the HearYa site?

Sorry this is late again but with it being holiday time, the posts are likely to be a bit more irregular than usual.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Logan need your vote

This is a follow up to the last Free Music Friday (Free Download Friday #16: Logan). Earlier this week I got an email from Logan... well, it wasn't just to me personally, asking if I would vote for the video on the worldsings site.

This wasn't a site I'd heard of but they are running a competition at the moment. Logan's email said:
We are also currently involved in the Worldsings competition which gives us the chance to play in Las Vegas next year if we make the final - so if you could help us out by voting for our video entry of When I Get Down, it would be much appreciated - check it out here.
The admit they started a bit late and with 75 votes at time of writing, they are miles away from wining. However, I had a listen to the one that's currently at the top of the chart and I thought it was poor. Both the Logan video and song blow it away.

So if you like what you heard of Logan, head over to worldsings and give them your vote!