Free Music Roundup

I love free music! Especially free music that is being handed out legally and with love. A ton of good stuff has come out recently! Check it out:

2014 was a great year for (free) label compilations. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Ghostly International x Adult Swim presents Ghostly Swim 2 — Mostly ambient electronic noise with beats.
  • Noumenal Loom Compilation 1 — Georgia underground label specializing in haunted electronic tones and quiet guitar compositions.
  • Secret Songs shh#ffb6c1 — This was one of my favorite albums of 2014. I said A compilation from Ryan Hemsworth’s Secret Songs netlabel, these songs all feel like the future to me.
  • Asthmatic Kitty Digital Sampler, Autumn 2014 — AK consistently put out some of my favorite music. Label run by Sufjan Stevens.
  • Flannelgraph Records Winter Sampler 2014-2015 — I was not prepared for the quiet greatness in this group of tunes.
  • DFA Records Holiday Remix EP — When some of my favorites (Sinkane) are remixed by some of my other favorites (Busy P, CFCF), everyone wins.

Towards the end of 2014, while I was still in my Christmas music hole, I found that a few cool free EPs came out, too:

  • SpineePretty Green — From PC Music, this is over the top electronic glory with a remix from Anamanaguchi!
  • Leno Love CraftPlatinum Planet EP — From Secret Songs, this gets that PC Music vibe and adds a 90s R&B/Sega Game Soundtrack feel.
  • Chindamohere+there EP — Charming and chiming, this self-released debut EP should warm your chill heart.
  • Via VegrandisJil Sent Me/Birds To Me — A cover of a forgotten song (by Mortal) and a new romantic standout.

There some good stuff out that you can pay for, too. Here’s some recent good stuff you might have missed:

  • GeoticSunset Mountain (Eon Isle) — Part of Baths’ ambient Geotic project, the Eon Isle series of albums focuses on a single instrument. The Sunset Mountain installment is all voices, and sounds, according to a twitter friend, “like the music they must have in Rivendell”. $7
  • Vapor LanesA Thin Film — Violent noise coalesces into beautiful melodies and gives you feelings. $7
  • Solid Mas/Jim GuthrieOne Of These Days I’ll Get It Right — Beatmaker Solid Mas takes Jim Guthrie’s music from the Swords & Sworcery Soundtrack, the Indie Game: The Movie Soundtrack, among others, and gives them the blender treatment. Fans of Jim Guthrie will obviously be into it, as will fans of sample-masters like Prefuse 73 and The Avalanches, but anyone who likes good things will dig this. $5.99 CAD



Freeload Your Summer

It’s been a nice summer so far, but everyone seems broke. Prices are starting to drop, but disposable income is still at a low for most people. Musicians, it seems, understand what it’s like to have to choose between burgers and cds. Lots of people have put out free albums, eps and mixes for your downloading and listening please, completely free of charge. Here’s a roundup of some of the latest and greatest! (follow the links for the downloads)

Albums & EPs

Deastro, one of my new favorite artists this year, released his electro-shoegaze full length Moondaggers this year, but also put out two great electro eps: Grower and Orange Swimmer Red Summer.

Max Justus is another artist very much in a similar vein as Deastro, though his stuff is overall less dreamy and more 8-bit glitchy. His myspace (ugh, I know) has several free albums, from the instrumental Talk to Strangers to the great Kanye West remix set, 8 from 808s.

Remixer Phaseone has put his hip hop sheen on Animal Collective, Panda Bear, and Burial, but this summer he tweeted his debut album, Thanks but No Thanks. It’s dark, sparkling instrumental hip hop with plenty of ambience. Recommended if you like El-P’s production (high praise)!

New music mastermind Weird Tapes (aka Memory Cassette aka Memory Tapes) has put out quite a bit of great music on his blog. My favorite so far has been his ep More Tapes, but get it all.


Fred‘s Mix, called “Dear Summer,” is 48 minutes of wall-to-wall summer jams. Recommended if you like pop but can handle some electronic beats.

Michael Mayer, one of the head guys at Cologne’s Kompakt label, was recently interviewed at Pitchfork. In honor of his label’s 10th anniversary, he also dropped a great mix of 98-04 techno (mp3 is after the inteview).

Kevin Robinson of Viva Voce recently stepped out of his home studio to release a gem of a summer mixtape. Combining ancient, out-of-print psych songs with so-ridiculous-they-must-be-real radio promos for some crazy movies, there’s no way you can not enjoy Kevin’s Summer Mix.

Asthmatic Kitty’s newest star, Helado Negro (real name: Roberto C. Lange) just put out an unbelievably great album of “latin experimental” music that you can hear here. But he also dropped a nifty “Work-Week Mix” with Yeasayer’s Jaytram.

I’ll leave it at that. I could go on (if you still haven’t heard The Very Best’s mixtape, you really need to do yourself a favor–and Swedish perfect-pop labels Service and Labrador each have great comps up, plus I have several mixtapes available to download), but you get the idea. There is plenty of free, legal music to make you summer perfect. So, time to give that modem a workout and get downloading!

A Christmas Music Party

Our Christmas Tree

Christmas Music holds a special place in my heart. For some reason, I have always been drawn to alternate versions of Christmas songs. It’s not to say that I don’t love the “canon” versions of Christmas classics done by the Rat Pack, Motown stars, schmaltzy orchestras or Manheim Steamroller (okay, I don’t love Manheim Steamroller’s version of anything), but I love hearing artists I already like doing their own take on Christmas classics. It’s a dangerous land to enter, because 70 to 90 percent of all pop covers of Christmas are total garbage. There are some really solid sets of alternative covers of Christmas music, which I have sorted through:

I’ll start with the unquestionable–Sufjan Stevens. His “Songs for Christmas” releases are a great combination of respectable covers, complete reinterpretations and Christmassy originals. They started as a personal gift he gave to his friends, then morphed into something more as Sufjan gained notoriety. Asthmatic Kitty Records has his 5 disc set of discs (2001-2005) streaming on their site for free listens! Check it out at

Sufjan also handed out a Christmas album for 2008, which found its way onto the internet.

Sounds Familyre have also hand-crafted Christmas compilations for the last two years. Their old one is available in its entirety here, and their new one is adding songs right up to the 25th here.

Speaking of the Sounds Familyre/Asthmatic Kitty crew, superstar producer, composer, and family man Chris Schlarb has put out his family’s auditory Christmas card, featuring some short, fun tracks. Download it here.

In a less-free manner, singer (and also friend of Sufjan–what’s up with that?) Rosie Thomas has released A Very Rosie Christmas. It’s on emusic and AmazonMP3, and the same original song is available free at both places. I’ve provided, below, another song from that album–an unbelievably great reinterpretation of The Chipmunks’ classic hit, re-titled “Christmas Don’t Be Late”. It bears only a passing resemblance to the original, and it is fantastic in its own right.


Right-click/Save As to Download

Finally, some of you might know that I used to co-host a Christian radio show in San Luis Obispo with Fred Ghansah. We used to record the shows and, once a year, we’d do an annual Christmas show. It’s made up of songs from Tooth and Nail Records’ Happy Christmas compilations, Plastiq Musiq’s (out of print?) Plastiq Christmas comp, and various other Christmas covers.

A note: while 756-5277 may still be the KCPR request line, this show is at least 3 years old. Those Palm Theatre tickets are long gone.


Right-click/Save As to Download the In The Light Christmas show from 12/4/2005