Ten free and legal downloads or streams to strike the ear of the cash-strapped college student.
1. "Fela!" Original Broadway Cast: "Water No Get Enemy"
Taking Broadway by storm is especially difficult these days, but the brand new musical "Fela!" (with primary music and lyrics by the late, great Fela Kuti), managed to snag three coveted 2010 Tony Awards (including Best Choreography). This taste test from the show is an Afrobeat bonanza that pays tribute to the Nigerian composer, while also overflowing with robust world rhythms.
2. Iron Maiden: "El Dorado"
As pioneers of heavy metal dating to the mid-1970s, Iron Maiden (with vocalist Bruce Dickinson, pictured right) will always attract the respect that many of its high-haired copycats lacked. Nonetheless, the group sounds pretty much like it did back in the day on "El Dorado," which means enough massive production, menacing guitars and vicious vocals to stir up stadium-swirling pandemonium within seconds.
3. Eels: "Looking Up"
The sole consistency for California's Eels has been its unpredictability. After splitting its time between the indie world and the soundtrack scene (including slots on the first three "Shrek" flicks), this Mark Oliver Everett-led act turns in the gospel-infused, boogie-woogie blues on the eternal hand-clapper "Looking Up."
4. Tonic: "Daffodil"
Following three back-to-back blockbuster albums and multi-million selling singles like "If You Could Only See," "Open Up Your Eyes" and "Sugar," Tonic took an inexplicable eight year absence. But the post-grunge rockers are back out of the blue, tipping towards the Americana/alternative country aura on this comeback track, evoking fellow '90s players such as Counting Crows or Jakob Dylan (of Wallflowers fame).
5. Richard Thompson: "Big Sun Falling In the River"
It's a shame Richard Thompson doesn't have a larger audience, but for those in the know, the British singer/songwriter is one of the most vital musicians of the past quarter century. Just ask R.E.M., Elvis Costello, David Gilmour and Los Lobos, all of whom have cut his tunes at one point or another. Even at 61, the tunesmith's still cranking out lively observations at a prolific pace, as demonstrated on this preview of the August 31 album "Dream Attic."
6. Two Door Cinema: Interface episode
There's a theatrical flavor to Two Door Cinema's merger of electronic and electric instruments that falls somewhere in between Franz Ferdinand, Phoenix and Vampire Weekend. Catch a four track mini-concert stream straight out of AOL's studios, including the sputtering, angular-guitar anchored "Cigarettes In the Theatre."
7. Satellites & Sirens: "Anchor"
Landing in the buzz bin of this MTV-powered blog is no easy task, but between some sampler slots on iTunes earlier this year and a distribution deal with Warner Brothers, the alternative rockers are infiltrating countless radars. This electronically saturated tune brings an array of power chords over a surging influence pool that includes Jimmy Eat World and Mae.
8. School of Seven Bells: "Babelonia"
Even though School of Seven Bells' latest long player "Disconnect from Desire" won't hit streets until July 13, the female-fronted trio offers this ambient/alternative rock single, loaded with twee pop harmonies. The group consists of Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, (previous members of On-Air Library!) and Benjamin Curtis (who first found fame in The Secret Machines).
9. Griffin House: "She Likes Girls"
Katy Perry may penned the ultimate sexual experimentation anthem "I Kissed a Girl," but singer/songwriter Griffin House touches on that very same topic from a guy's perspective on "She Likes Girls." The tongue-in-cheek tune is amongst this singer/songwriter's most infectious to date, wrapped around an all-star production team consisting of Justin Loucks and Ian Fitchuk (Mindy Smith, Landon Pigg).
10. Spinner Spotlight: Full CD Listening Party
Taking a break from reality TV, Ozzy Osbourne returns with his first project in three years and tenth overall solo album "Scream." Also on the docket is The Chemical Brothers' latest release, who may have first found fame in the early days of house, but manage to avoid a dated direction two decades down the road. The group sounds just as connected with today's trends as ever on "Further," which consists of eight new tunes loaded with supernatural rhythms, cutting edge programming and booming bass.
Free downloads of Iron Maiden, Tonic; streams of Ozzy, Chemical Brothers