Ten free and legal downloads sure to strike the ear of the cash-strapped college student.
1. Yoko Ono: "Give Me Something (Junior Boys Remix)"
While casual pop culture enthusiasts will most readily associate Yoko Ono with being the wife of John Lennon, anyone in the know considers her an avant-garde solo artist. Though her material over the years has ranged from ultra-strange to curiously satisfying, this particular remix finds her familiar cackles colliding with club-friendly beats that are likely to widen her audience well beyond a dedicated niche.
2. Broken Bells: The MySpace Transmissions
One of the most unlikely collaborations of the year also happens to be the most intriguing. Comprised of Brian Burton (the world knows him as Danger Mouse) and James Mercer (lead singer of The Shins), this group is a gloriously diverse merger of programmed electronics and sparse indie rock. In this exclusive live EP, the guys adapt a slightly stripped-down approach from the self-titled CD, but still offers plenty of clever production twists over Mercer's delightfully docile musings.
3. Sufjan Stevens: "Henney Buggy Band"
Take a time warp back to 2006, when this heralded indie hero released outtakes from his breakthrough "Illinoise" album. Though the track possesses somewhat raw production values, it's surprising this one hit the cutting room floor considering the horn-tipped ditty has plenty of quirky pop promise. Fans from the state of that album's subject can also catch references to the college town of Bloomington and the famed Ronald Reagan Tollway.
4. Graham Parker: "See Things My Way"
He made a major splash on the late 1970s alternative-minded singer/songwriter circuit, followed by a productive new wave run, and Graham Parker continues to reinvent himself. These days, he's inked a deal with Bloodshot Records and followed the new CD, Imaginary Television, with this specific tune. Parker hits the alternative country nail on the head while highlighting the rocker's underrated craftsmanship and wry sense of humor.
5. Cage the Elephant: Basement Tapes Session
Taking cues from The Pixies, Nirvana and The White Stripes, Cage the Elephant blends the best of alternative, punk and blues rock. Catch a live performance from last year's Summerfest in Milwaukee highlighting tracks from its self-titled debut disc that's sent the band from Bowling Green, KY obscurity to appearances at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and even the "Late Show with David Letterman."
6. Dawn Landes: Hear Ya Live Session
Speaking of Kentucky acts, catch up with one-time Louisville resident Dawn Landes, who's moving up the music industry ladder, one rung at a time. After working with the likes of Ryan Adams, Phillip Glass, Hem, Joseph Arthur and her eventual husband Josh Ritter, the troubadour took to her own array of country, pop, blues and good old-fashioned rock n' roll, strewn with some fantastic storytelling.
7. My Son the Bum: "Bipola Victrola"
The internet age has obviously opened up the floodgates for creative possibilities and My Son the Bum is a primary example of collaborations across the WiFi lines. The foursome has already logged four albums with one to come, although two members have yet to ever meet face to face. Nonetheless, the group that collectively hails from Long Beach has no trouble kicking out the lead as it leans between modern metal and growling grunge.
8. Health: "USA Boys"
Any time an act can attract the attention of Nine Inch Nails leader Trent Reznor, let alone score some recording time in his studio, chances are its going to earn elevated attention straight out of the gate. Add in some help from producer Alan Moulder (Depeche Mode, My Bloody Valentine, Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and Health's husky electronic rocker "USA Boys" is on its way to gothic godliness.
9. The Blind Boys of Alabama: Daytrotter Session
As one of the oldest and most enduring soul and gospel groups of the past century, The Blind Boys of Alabama have little left to prove. But the group continues to record and tour at a steady pace, even earning a career resurrection as a result of collaborations with Peter Gabriel and Ben Harper throughout the 2000s. Catch the guys turning in heavenly harmonies on inspiring cuts like "Perfect Peace" and "Free At Last."
10. Fly Gypsy: Remixtape
Under-the-radar DJs don't need to sweat it out in the club scene to be heard these days, though Fly Gypsy is bound to get a plethora of high-profile gigs as a result of this percolating mash-up of throwbacks and newer radio favorites. Where else can fans find clips of Snoop Dogg, James Brown, Robin Thicke, Green Day and Prince, all wound together tightly, regardless of the different eras and musical formats from which they were birthed?
Free Downloads is a weekly music column by Money College blogger Andy Argyrakis. It appears every Friday. Send column tips to Andy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free downloads of Yoko Ono, Sufjan Stevens and Graham Parker