Music to keep me sane and healthy V
Wow. I can’t believe I haven’t done this since October ’03.
I’m going to take a different approach this time, though. Instead of writing a standard list of artists, I’m going to try to be more helpful and link the music to specific examples you can download free (and legally), so if you’ve never heard of the artist/song, you can experience first-hand what I’m talking about.
- Jay Farrar – Terroir Blues (2003). This may be the first time I’ve mentioned Jay Farrar by name here — he’s the songwriter/main guy of the band Son Volt, one of my favorites. There are three alternate takes from this album that are available as free MP3 downloads from his site. Do not miss "All of Your Might" and "No Rolling Back" — they probably are my two favorites songs from the album (and I think I prefer these alternate takes!). Mark Spencer plays beautiful lap steel accompaniment on these tracks. I know I’ve mentioned pedal steel guitarist Eric Heywood in my blog a number of times — you can hear his work on this album. And if you haven’t already, you might be interested in the other downloads on the page as well.
» Go to the downloads from jayfarrar.net. (Which one to d/l if you’re pressed for bandwidth or time: "All of Your Might")
- Rosie Thomas – This is the first time I’ve mentioned Ms. Thomas, and it’s because I didn’t know about her until a few months ago, when I heard her music on Weekend Becomes Eclectic. Her label Sub Pop offers a treasure trove of MP3s from its artists. One of these days I’ll download all of them, but for now I heartily recommend picking up "I Play Music" and "Two Dollar Shoes."
» Go to the downloads from Sub Pop. (Which one to d/l if you’re pressed for bandwidth or time: both are really good, but "Two Dollar Shoes" is a shorter song/a smaller file.)
- Iron & Wine – While we’re on the Sub Pop Records page, there are four MP3s by the solo artist also known as Samuel Beam. I prefer the earlier songs, which are ultra lo-fi tracks (he recorded them at home on a four-track): "Southern Anthem" and "Lion’s Mane" but take a listen to all of them if you can.
» Go to the downloads from Sub Pop. (Which one to d/l if you’re pressed for bandwidth or time: "Lion’s Mane")
- Hem – The band’s site offers a beautiful song called "Pacific Street" that didn’t make it onto the debut album — I actually listened to this download a year or two ago, and bought the CD solely based on how much I loved this song. Pick up "Beautiful Sea" as well.
» Go to the downloads from rabbitsongs.com (click "MP3s" at the bottom of the band’s home page). (Which one to d/l if you’re pressed for bandwidth or time: "Pacific Street")
- Alison Krauss & Union Station – Krauss and her backing band have a bunch of free MP3 downloads at Amazon. My favorite by far is one of the best they’ve ever done: "The Lucky One". For a change of pace, there’s also "New Favorite" (penned by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings).
» Go to the downloads from Amazon. (Which one to d/l if you’re pressed for bandwidth or time: "The Lucky One")
Of course, please do Google the artists listed above to find out more about them, tour dates, etc. There’s a lot more music to recommend, but I’ll save them for a little later. If you’re hungry for more right now, check out more free downloads from Amazon and also the huge selection (lots of Elliott Smith and Pedro the Lion) from PasteMusic!
Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of the above, plus Wilco and (of course) Richard Buckner (particularly Bloomed). If you’ve never heard Buckner, the even-numbered tracks of The Hill is available as lo-fi Flash audio streams from his site richardbuckner.com. It’s definitely his darkest album, with his original music set to poems from The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters. If you’re not familiar with the poetry collection, each poem is a posthumous epitaph from the point of view of the deceased. The highlight of the album is "Julia Miller" (#6) — certainly a somber tune, but one of Buckner’s best and most beautiful songs.
You can also hear Wilco’s upcoming album, A Ghost is Born, online (streaming Quicktime) at the band’s site. I’ve only heard it once, and haven’t decided what to think yet…