1. Samantha Crain: "Lions"
Whether fronting Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers or making music on her own, this 23-year-old singer/songwriter from Oklahoma possesses vocals that are generally an acquired taste. However, those who take time to indulge in her odd pronunciations and seemingly out-of-control cackles may find the same endearing qualities that made A Fine Frenzy and Joanna Newsom earn hipster acclaim.
2. M.I.A.: "Haters"
Everybody deserves a little venting now and then and M.I.A. (pictured) is letting her hair down when it comes to personal opinions about everyone from critics to racists, as she gears up for her first studio CD in three years. Catch the rapper's commentaries on all the non-lovers in her life with all sass fans have come to expect from the hoodie-wearing British "Boyz" rapper.
3. Kylie Minogue: "Minimix"
She's the Madonna of Australia and even scored some chart action in America with the dance/pop pleasantries "Can't Get You Out of My Head" and "The Loco-Motion." These days, Kylie Minogue is ready to dethrone good old Madge and take the like-minded Lady Gaga down for the count with some robust four on the floor beats that burn with modern-day disco decadence.
4. Buckcherry: "Our World"
Alternative rockers Buckcherry scored the ultimate opening act slot alongside Aerosmith this summer, an ideal setting for its high-energy jolts of jock rock. But the band isn't celebrating just yet, instead turning to more pressing matters such as the oil spill currently consuming the Gulf Coast, which this track so poignantly addresses. It urges political leaders and citizens to take better care of the planet. Who knew party animals had a socially conscious side?
5. Petree: "It's Always Been You"
After first finding fame with Grammy-nominated rock/goth/dance standouts Shiny Toy Guns, Stephen Petree formed a self-titled band that also incorporated a singer/songwriter side. Expect plenty of keyboards colliding with electric guitars, likely to land somewhere between a club and alternative rock radio in the introspective tradition of Depeche Mode or Muse.
6. Minus the Bear: "MySpace Transmissions"
Seattle's Minus the Bear is an indie rock lover's dream band, thanks to members who've also logged time in Botch, Kill Sadie and Sharks Keep Moving. Together, there's plenty of experimentation across complicated math rock rhythms that are pared down ever so slightly for this live studio session as part of the ongoing MySpace series highlighting the group's fourth long player "Omni."
7. Pogo: "White Magic"
Think all ambient and trip-hop tunes sound the same? Well, Australia's 21-year-old Pogo is trying the break the sleepy stereotype with a hypnotic approach to beat construction, gleaning inspiration from unconventional muses. This particular track features ample samples from the 1963 Disney movie "The Sword In the Stone" and there's a stirring string section to back up the piece's cinematic quality.
8. The Stone Foxes: "I Killed Robert Johnson"
No, it's not what you get when you cross the Stone Roses and Fleet Foxes. And blues purists could easily take offense at this song title that's seeming sacrilege to Robert Johnson. But The Stone Foxes simply pick up where the late, great legend left off. There's plenty of gut-bucket belt outs and guitar grinds from these San Francisco hell raisers, likely to find favor with Black Crowes fans.
9. Moe: "Lazarus"
Swap an email address for an acoustic version of this jam band's gem "Lazarus," which comes in anticipation of "Smash Hits, Volume 1." The cheek-titled compilation bows June 1, celebrating the Buffalo boys being in business for 20 years, during which it attracted a massive word of mouth following, in spite of rarely penetrating the mainstream airwaves.
10. Spinner Spotlight: Full CD Listening Party
For the first time in 20 years, Devo's releasing a studio CD and fans are sure to rejoice that "Something For Everybody" retains the group's new wave innovations. Another highly anticipated album is Tom Petty's first CD with the Heartbreakers in eight years via the bluesy "Mojo," which most closely mirrors the front man's first band Mudcrutch. Other titles of prominence include Sarah McLachlan's "Laws of Illusion," Oasis' farewell retrospective "Time Flies," The Gaslight Anthem's "American Slang" and We Are Scientists' "Barbara."
Free Downloads is a weekly music column by Money College blogger Andy Argyrakis. It appears every Friday. Send Andy column tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.