Ten free and legal downloads or streams sure to strike the ear of the cash- strapped college student.
1.Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.: "Vocal Chords"
Don't confuse Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. with the race car driver; it's a project shared between Detroit's Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott. Drawing frequent comparisons to Of Montreal and Local Natives, the peculiar pair blends intentionally odd basement production, folk pop and programmed loops that borrow from the soul and hip-hop worlds.
2. Tori Amos: Daytrotter Session
Very few piano players can produce the distinctive sounds Tori Amos so tenderly brandishes whenever she sits behind the keys, nor can many singers come close to her heavenly range. In a rare four-song session recorded live in the Daytrotter studios, the chanteuse turns in a pair of charmingly reflective tunes from her two most recent records, "Abnormally Attracted to Sin" and "Midwinter Graces."
3. Vince Neil: "Tattoos & Tequila"
The Motley Crue front man and former reality show star may be solo at the moment, but that doesn't mean he's leaving the band's stereotypical topics on the shelf. His latest booze-tinged metal tune is sure to find just as much favor in a tattoo parlor as a biker bar, and as cliched as that all may sound, at least Neil still knows how to host a hell of a party.
4. Young the Giant: "My Body"
After steadily ascending the touring ladder alongside Minus the Bear, The Whigs, Ghostland Observatory and Kings of the Leon, the Newport Beach, California quintet lined up a month's worth of home state shows throughout August. Decide if it's worth the flight (or road trip for those in The Golden State) after checking out this youthfully exuberant, beach-inspired indie pop.
5. Paul Collins: "Do You Wanna Love Me"
Long before Fountains of Wayne and even Cheap Trick found acclaim, Paul Collins was holding down the power pop sound as a member of several '70s and '80s giants including Nerves, The Breakaways and The Beat. This fun-in-the-sun sing-a-long keeps in the melodic tradition of all three acts, with updated production courtesy of Jim Diamond (White Stripes, The Go, Dirtbombs).
6. Cut Copy: "Where I'm Going"
These Pitchfork Music Festival alums are working feverishly on a third studio album with mixer Ben Allen (Gnarls Barkley, Animal Collective), though it won't arrive until January of next year. Nonetheless, fans get an early preview of what the band compares to something Brian Wilson might come up with if he were hanging out in London instead of California throughout the 1960s ... and popping ecstasy along the way.
7. Jake Smith: "One False Step"
As one of New Orleans' favorite sons, singer/songwriter Jake Smith has gigged at downtown's historic House of Blues and even the Jazz & Heritage Festival just before Dave Matthews Band and Better Than Ezra. Expect a whole lot of soulful porch pop wrapped around lyrics that suggest it's better to live life according to your own convictions instead of following the crowd.
8. Darker My Love: "Dear Author"
To spread the word before some fall dates with Band of Horses, Darker My Love swaps your email address for a tune off its Dangerbird Records disc "Alive As You Are"(out August 17). Like its tour mates, expect a jarring, distortion-filled jam anchored by unexpected harmonies and a sweet psychedelic aftertaste.
9. Adam Haworth Stephens: "The Cities That You've Burned"
Having already established himself in indie folk/blues duo Two Gallants, Adam Haworth Stephens is gearing up for his solo debut disc "We Live On Cliffs" (landing September 28 on Saddle Creek, also the home of Bright Eyes). Based on "The Cities That You've Burned," faithful can expect him to peel back yet another layer of the group's already sparse sound to unveil a Dylan-inspired storybook songwriting style.
10. Spinner Spotlight: Full CD Listening Party
It may be a slow week for new releases from major players, but there are still plenty of developing and re-formatted faces to explore in full album streams. The latest round includes These United States' "What Lasts," The Books' "The Way Out" and Dan Sartain's "Lives," along with along with the already established lead singer of Ours Jimmy Gnecco, who drops his solo debut "The Heart," and longtime Throwing Muses leader Kristin Hersh, who turns in "Crooked."
Free downloads: Tori Amos, Motley Crue's Vince Neil, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.