I don’t do this much since I know everyone has very specific music tastes and thinks their music is far superior to everyone else’s. But here are some of my more recent discoveries, and I thought most people would like them. The music I listen is laid-back enough to have a fairly universal appeal.
I already posted this once, but I went on a long internet hunt and found places you could download each of these songs for free. If I couldn't find a host site, I found someone hosting something else from the band that you might enjoy. Go ahead and check the sites out if anything looks interesting.
Here we go, and in alphabetical order:
1. “Dear Chicago” by Ryan Adams. A forgotten track from Adam’s Demolition album, the song accomplishes more in two minutes than most songwriters do their whole career. It's like an entire sad movie played out in the time it takes to brush your teeth (if you're following your orthodontist's stern instructions). Also, don't forget to floss.
2. “Breaking My Heart Again” by Aqualung. A song so good it absolutely stuns the listener that he never really had a follow-up single to “Brighter Than Sunshine.” At least twice as good as “Sunshine.” He wrote it on Peter Gabriel's piano while throwing up from a nasty flu bug. Just so you know.
The song is streamed instead of downloadable, but here's "Strange and Beautiful" if you want to try that instead.
3. “Lonely Boy” by Black Lab. Eight years after putting out one of the most dark, narcissistic, and original rock recordings of the 90’s, Your Body Above Me, Black Lab finally puts out their follow-up. More melodic and accessible – it sounds something like a Tonic record – at points you can see them working for something deeper, in fact, you can actually hear Paul Durham’s vocals straining to get out of the alterna-rock vibe that he’s gotten stuck in, to get out and say something. This is the best of those times.
I couldn't find "Lonely Boy," but you can click here to download "Keep Myself Awake" from the first album. It was the only Black Lab I could find online right now.
4. “Giant Spiders” by Devin Davis. Davis manages to combine pure effervescent nonsense into rhyming scan and somehow ends up with something fantastic. He’s like the love child of Lewis Carroll and the Ramones, or Dylan on a lot of speed.
Couldn't find "Giant Spiders," but I found both "Iron Woman" and "Turtle and The Flightless Bird," which are just as good and maybe better
5. “I Hope Tomorrow Is Like Today” by Guster. Their most radio accessible pop-rock song, memorable chiefly for appearing in last summer’s “Wedding Crashers” at one of the many point in which Owen Wilson was all bummed out, “Tomorrow” is one of those pop pieces of which you never tire – each time it reaches its bombastic finale, it feels like you’ve put on “Hey Jude” one more time. Listen to it again and you’ll probably agree with me. Most intelligent people do.
Couldn't find it, but I did find "Mona Lisa" hidden in among a bunch of eighties classics. Go download it, and while you're there, pick up Rick Springfield and Men at Work. You owe it to yourself.
6. “White Center” by Damien Jurado. Jurado locked himself in his house for three months in order to write his depressing folk-rock opus, On My Way To Absence. It shows. It’s awesome.
Not only did I find the song, the site is also hosting Aqualung and Devin Davis. Crazy.
7. “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell. Mitchell wrote and recorded this song when she was 25, though it sounds a bit precocious for someone in their twenties to be singing it. Judy Collins did a hit version of the song in 1967. At 53, Mitchell re-recorded the song, transposed down for her now duskier voice, and you might recognize it if you’ve seen “Love Actually.” I’m not all that fond of the original, but the new version swims in jazz and blues credibility. You believe her this time around.
8. “After the Garden” by Andrew Osenga. The first pre-release track from Osenga’s latest friends-and-family basement-studio recorded album, the song sounds as good as anything on any rock CD out this year. Osenga's one of my favorites, so I'm partial to anything that he does, but this is a completely new direction for him.
He's taken the free download of "Garden" down for the moment, but he's always throwing new stuff up on his MySpace, so, give it a shot.
9. “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead” by The Stars. I got hooked on the Stars a coupla months back, and this was my big discovery. Uniquely melodic singers Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell (what a great name) trade verses and points of view as the band chimes in with guitar, drums, and a Beatles-esque horn section that carries most of the song.
10. “All I Ever Wanted” by Train. Train’s one of those bands that each time they put an album out, you’re sure it’s going to be kinda mediocre, that their time has past and they’re sure to vanish into the sunset. And yet, despite everyone’s doubts, they’ve never put out a bad album. Equal parts down-home blues-rock and pop sensibility, “Wanted” gets in your head and stays there. Shame on you for doubting them.
Couldn't find anything good on Train, so instead I urge you to go back to Central Village's site and download some of his music selection. This guy knows his stuff in ways the casual hipster does not. Or you could check out this charming Yo La Tengo song. The choice is yours.