Saturday, February 6, 2010

Free! To feel good.

I wrote a little article that may be featuring in the music section of our uni magazine. It's obviously aimed at students (who are such hip cats!) so it's written in an achingly chatty style. But either way, here it is, it's about free downloads. So yeah, this could now count as an MP3 blog, I guess.

You're a skint student, I'm a skint student, that's pretty much a given. But also what is pretty much assumed is that you want to listen to lots of music. So here we reach the problem of wanting to be able to fill the wee bland hours with good sounds, but not being able to afford a simple trip to HMV- or the superior Action Records on Church Street.

Now, far be it from me to sit here shaking my head sanctimoniously at you if your first thought was “I'll just do some sneaky downloading”, but it does stand to reason that, if you like a band, you should at least give them a little cash. However this is where the good part comes in! Some bands, singers and general noisemakers have decided that they don't need to eat and can give away albums and mixtapes for free. Here are some of the best ones available out there:


Das Wanderlust~ Horses For Courses

Das Wanderlust are easily one of the best unsigned bands in the country. This album was released last year and available to buy at most Das W gigs- where I got a copy- but now they've apparently decided that everybody deserves a copy and you can now download Horses For Courses- along with a number of EPs and demos on their website. The band's sound centres around singer Laura's gentle and then yelling vocals and bouncy keyboards backed by breakneck drumming and distorted scattergun guitars. I should add that their website gives you the option of paying what you like, and a few quid will mean that they can finish off their next album, which is a good thing.

Download if you like: The Slits, jumping around.


Ratatat~ Ratatat Remixes Mixtape volumes 1 & 2

Even if you don't like hip hop, you should download both of these. Ratatat are an instrumental duo dealing in beats that seamlessly blend electronica and indie- like if Daft Punk used guitars instead of synths. Though they do have 3 very great albums out, they've received possibly more attention for their habit of finding well-known rap songs, taking the vocals and layering them over their own dense mix of riffs and drums. The end product is deliciously hypnotic and definitely puts a swagger in your step. “Fix Up Look Sharp” is stripped of its banging drums and given whirring keyboards and tense hi hats instead. Kanye West's “Diamonds” is placed over chiming harpsichords and chiming guitars. Easily one of the best collections of remixes ever.

Download from: Volume 1
Volume 2
Download if you like: Feeling like a pimp even though your clearly not.


Laura Stevenson~ A Record

The blurb on the website sells this album better than I ever could: “After years of not having a record, Laura Stevenson is bucking the trend that she has set by having a record, Laura Stevenson: A Record.” For some reason, all the best girls making heartbreakingly pretty whilst also haunting and eerie folk music are called Laura. Laura Marling. Laura Groves. And those of you in the know will realise that comparing Miss Stevenson to those two is very high praise indeed. Whilst this is not something to listen to before a night out, as far as relaxing and atmospheric night time music goes, it rarely gets better than this.

Download if you like: Laura Marling, antiques, haunted Victorian houses.


NHG~ Black Plaque

Metal purists, and I know a few of them, will probably maintain that this isn't strictly metal. Though I'll be damned if I can think of a better term for it. This album is an oddity. Made by three members of the mighty Dananananaykroyd (if you didn't see them at 53 last year then you lose) the album consists of 'Naykroyd guitarist David chugging and squealing out some ridiculously heavy riffs while Scotland's second best drummer (according to an online poll) James Hamilton- formerly of Dananananaykroyd, now in awesome electro group Errors- pounds out beats and fills so good you might need to be hospitalised after hearing them. What makes this album an oddity is the role of the band's third member, Calum, whose sole duty is to operate pedals and sound effects, meaning the guitar can change from a doom-y riff to sounding like a spaceship without a moments notice. Surreal.

Download if you like: Electric Wizard, drums, headaches.

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