Listen Up!

By bonnie, 4 July, 2010

Five places to get a (good) free music fix!

I love my music collection, but sometimes if I don’t add new tracks to my digital mixes,  my itunes will start to get that “not so fresh feeling” and I have go on a downloading frenzy.

I have recently come across a few freebies from artists I already know and love.  There are also a couple of mainstays that I visit for the purpose of discovering (and falling in love with) new music.

I love free things.  I love exploration.  And I love to share.

To make things easier, I am only highlighting free downloads or free full track streams, because I hate samples.  I can’t spend any time with the samples and form an adequate relationship. (I also can’t stand spending loads of time on Myspace, even though streaming music is readily available.)

So here you go.  If you have any additions or recommendations, please leave them in comments!

1. Mates of State (official site)

They have a new album (they call it a mixtape) called Crushes.  It’s a cover album of 10 tunes and it’s lovely.  You can stream the entire thing for free.  It’s worth a listen.  I especially like their version of “Sleep the Clock Around” by Belle and Sebastian.

The tracks “Laura” (Girls) and “True Love Will Find You in the End” (Daniel Johnston) are available for free download if you put in your email, they send you the link.   AND if you decide you want all of the tracks or just want to support Mates of State cause they are awesome, you can download the whole thing for only $5.  Really.

2.  Beach House (official site)

You can listen to or download 2 tracks from each of their 3 albums.   I’m particularly fond of their newest album Teen Dream and admittedly am not as familiar with the earlier ones.  I hope to rectify that soon.  Getting to hear a couple tracks is a good way to start.   “Norway” is one of my favorite songs of this year.  It’s weird and catchy and wonderful.

For all my Chicago friends, they are in the Pitchfork lineup this summer.  I highly recommend catching their set if you are going, and I will be jealous, jealous.  For my New York friends – anyone want to buy me a ticket to their show in Prospect Park at the end of the month?

3.  Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

At, download two of their tracks, including my favorite-favorite song right now “Home”.

Nothing more to say about this one.  Just go do it and enjoy that f’n song.  It’s soooooooo good.

4.  Fanfarlo (official site)

Free download from their homepage of a 3 track “College Radio” Ep, alternate recording versions of three of the songs off their album “Resevoir”.  You can also stream several others from their site.  They recently  put on an excellent (and free) show at Waterplace Park in downtown Providence.

5.   Urban Outfitters (a goldmine of free music from several great artists, including many you haven’t heard of… yet)

I link-loved the Urban site last summer for offering a free summer mix to people on their email list.  I didn’t keep up on this and failed to realize that they have been doing this ALL YEAR.

The LSTN mixes are basically 25 completely FREE song downloads via itunes offered for a limited time only.  Right now LSTN 9 and 10 are still up, so go get on that!  However, for exploration purposes, ALL the other past offerings are available to stream for free.   There are some great tunes on there.

They also have “Music Monday” which features 5 free downloads every Monday.  These don’t appear to expire.  There are several here that I haven’t heard of, and again, I don’t need to tell you how I love love love discovering new music.

BONUS:  NPR First Listen

I track this site religiously.  There is ALWAYS something there for me, an exclusive first listen to an entire album streaming before its release.  I fell in love with Neko Case’s last album weeks before I could buy it.

Right now, I highly recommend you give this album a listen.   It’s “Dark Night of the Soul” – the collaboration album from Sparklehorse, Danger Mouse and David Lynch, featuring a whole lot of amazing guest vocalists – Wayne Coyne (The Flaming Lips),  Black Francis (The Pixies etc.), James Mercer (The Shins, Broken Bells),  Iggy Pop, and even David Lynch himself (singing!).

It’s a bit sad to listen to, because it’s difficult to not think of the recent suicide of Sparklehorse (Mark Linkous), but it’s a beautifully complex and compelling piece of work and I’m glad that it’s being put out now.   The album will be released July 13th.

What do you think?

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