Friday, January 29, 2010

Status Update On The Music Business

When I started this blog almost a year ago my first couple of posts were about Jamendo and Free Music Archive, both Creative Commons sites. I thought that the platform that Jamendo used would be the future of the music industry and transform how money changes hands. Instead of people paying for the albums, companies would pay ad revenue for being on the music sites and the artists would then get a share of that revenue. Music fans then would get to download music for free. I am still certain this is true.

The amazing thing over this last year is the incredibly inventive ways that artists are taking the business end of music and standing it on it's ear. Finding these creative musicians has been a joy. There is a communal spirit all the way around when it comes to the online music community. The artists are happy to talk about their net strategies as well as give interviews. Many of these trailblazers give their music away. I say thanks to them. The bloggers I have contacted have been nice as well as responsive, not competitive. This hand in hand philosophy was not present when the big labels ran things. They wanted to tell everybody about the "advertising" money they had spent in response to questions about why the cd's cost so much. The transparency of the net has made those power players impotent. I suspect they'll all end up in a couple of big companies along with the ticket services and companies of that ilk. They will be a shell of what they used to be and probably only be able to sell physical product of a few genres. All of them saw the writing on the wall but didn't have the business sense to join. Now they are on the outside looking in. I am looking forward to what happens next.

You are welcome to donate money to these labels and artists, but it isn't necessary for you to do so. A Google search doesn't turn up even half of the sites out there that give away free complete albums/ep's of music. I wish there was one place that listed all of them.

So over the last few months I have been checking out other bloggers, as well as sifting through the never ending pages of net-labels with FREE music.

Here are the sites that list FREE net labels:


Internet Archive - Check out their listing of live music as well.

EC Brown - Exhaustive and comprehensive list.

Here are some new net-labels themselves, you can find legal free music at each:

Learning Music - A monthly music service I did a write up of last year. Check it out now as all of their albums (24 and counting) are FREE for download.

In A Cabin With - Dutch music nomads continue pairing indie Dutch musicians with other musicians from around the world. (8 releases/yr) (Check out: The Black Atlantic,Neonbelle)

Woodlawn Recordings - Live folk recordings. They're in England. (Check out The Diamond Family Archives, The Great Park)

Heartphone Records - Indie rock releases by Jason Sposa, Mike Downey and more.

Ven Netlabel - Release : Talking To Turtles.

Hush Records - Releases-(Corrina Repp, A Book About Elephants)

Team Love Library - A revolving set of albums ( Check out: Sarah Winchester, Willy Mason)

Bandcamp - Artists upload their music here. Some charge some allow free downloads. There are over 35 pages of music.(Check Out - Latristic, Checkov's Guns,Canon Chorus, Tin Can Notes)

CLLCT - This site has a ton of D-I-Y and lo-fi folk stuff from great musicians. Over 80 pages of
artists. (Bands: Joe Harbison, Manipulator Alligator, Ryland Bouchard, Riseage)

Also a special mention to another blog, Slowcoustic which covers folk, alt/folk, alt/country. There's a lot of music on this site and it's definitely worth checking out. It has become one of the regular sites I check. A local music blog to check out is Love Shack, Baby. Finally,
Bad Panda is a site that offers a lot of different types of music and frequently has Free Commons download links.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dana Falconberry - Hallets

Jerusha Robinson, from the group South China, sent me a message and a link about Dana Falconberry. The two of them are friends and Jerusha thought I should check out Dana's music. I am very thankful to Jerusha for sending me that link!

Dana is from Austin (TX) and the easy nature of Hallets echoes the pastoral scenes of Texas. Many artists from Texas might not necessarily be a country or blue-grass act, but there is a pacing to their music that speaks volumes about Texas. Everything happens in it's own time. Dana's vocals have a controlled power to them and remind me right away of the first time I heard Alison Krauss. Dana's guitar blends well within the structure of the songs. The harmonies on the album are stunning.


Dana is joined by Gina Dvorak (vocals), Andrew Bergmann (up-right bass), and Lauren McMurray (vocals). Together they make music that is at once original.

In addition to being a really good songwriter Dana personally hand-made the cd album covers for Hallets. Check out her youtube video for making the covers. You can buy a home-made cd copy on Dana's site and a digital copy here. Watch her site for concert announcements.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Netherfriends At Schubas 1.17.10

Shawn Rosenblatt is Netherfriends. Live he delivers his self referential pop songs with a lot of energy.He was nice enough to give me a video interview after his show at Schubas as well as let me video his band's performance. Check out my youtube channel to see the videos.

Shawn is going to write and record a song IN ALL 50 STATES over the next year! He is going to need a lot of help on his admirable adventure. I interviewed him and he's a down to Earth guy. If I lived in another part of the country I would help him out. Here is your chance to help some who is doing something that most of us who love music, wish we could. If you have friends who live in other parts of the country and they want to help, have them email Shawn.

Also Shawn has a new album coming out soon, so be on the lookout for it. He tells me about the making of it in our interview. There is a song from that album below here. he has also been added to the line-up of the Pitchfork Festival in July of 2010. Congrats Shawn, it's a well deserved high profile gig.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Black Atlantic - Reverence For Fallen Trees

Reverence for Fallen Trees is a meditation on the fragile nature of life. Singer and songwriter Geert van der Velde infuses his recent loss of three grand-parents into these aching songs with soaring vocals. His harmonies with Kim Janssen are pretty and sorrowful laments that amplify the feeling of loss with their dream like nature. Aided by friends in Brooklyn based band Antlers as well as Spanish Prisoners the overall sound is rich and full without wall to wall instrumentation. This album was made as a part of the In A Cabin With series of recordings that take Dutch musicians to locales around the world to record with local musicians. The three band members wound up recoding Reverence in a cabin in the Adirondack mountains of New York. The isolation of that area coupled with the idea of expressing loss through song makes this album a poignant statement about losing loved ones.


There's a nice flow to the songs on this album. It is made to be listened to as an album, not separate songs. Whenever I listen to one song on Reverence For Fallen Trees I listen to them all. This is a sure sign of a great album. Had I found this album a couple of months earlier it would have made my 2009 Most Listened to list. It will definitely make this year's list.

The Black Atlantic's Reverence For Fallen Trees is most admirable because it is exactly what good music should be. It should speak from the heart.This does so in a beautifully sweet and aching way. It should be accessible to all. Their album is posted numerous places online for FREE by Geeert and the band. Check their site out to download this for free or donate some money to them. So far there have been 60,000 downloads in less than a year of this album. And it should be a community effort. They attained this in a global way combining members of Dutch and American bands. As a rabid music fan I am thankful that bands like The Black Atlantic understand the true nature of music as an art for all to behold. The buzz on their album online is deservedly at a high point. If you are in the booking business or know someone who is, The Black Atlantic are coming to the states in March and looking to play dates. Contact them please if you have any other info on possible shows. They did their part by making this great album and giving it to us free. The least we can do is welcome them with open arms when they get here!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chicago Independent Radio Project- CHIRP

There is a new net radio station in Chicago's North Center neighborhood and it's play-list is a music fans dream come true: the perfect mix of independent and local music of bands you love and others you have yet to discover. This station was founded by Shawn Campbell who has been in radio for over 15 years and is intending this station to be a true "community" effort. Often, indie radio is "college radio", which excludes a majority of the community. Originally, Shawn looked to start a traditional station, but the FCC licensing is extremely difficult to procure. So for now CHIRP will be on the net, and Shawn and others hope to get the Local Community Radio Act passed by Congress to allow more stations in the lower end of the radio dial where local and college stations reside.

As far as content, CHIRP's musical director Billy Kalb has been quoted, "everything and anything outside of smooth jazz and pop country" will be played on Chirp. No set play-lists. No blocks or shows of a certain style of music. CHIRP has started it's life with 50,000 donated albums. Compare that with most stations total of only 500 or so songs to choose from. I have not gotten to listen to CHIRP enough to figure out how the dj's will affect what's played when they are on, but that is one of the interesting things that I look forward to with repeated listening.

A friend sent me a news article about CHIRP. I joined the list and was fortunate to be able to use the beta version of the station over the last week. Nice twists by Chirp include having buttons next to song's they've played for local record stores to purchase the album. There is also a link for e-music to buy it digitally. There is an interactive form where you can comment on and see comments from other CHIRPERS about recently played songs. As I write this on Friday afternoon I am looking at a window that has the recently played songs on CHIRP: Explosion In The Sky, Doves, The Clientele, Thao wit The Get Down Stay Down, Thom Yorke, Flaming Lips, Big Star, Aimee Mann, Tegan and Sara, Bob Mould, Nina Simone, and Jimmy Cliff. The site has quite a bit to offer so try to check everything out. The folks at CHIRP look forward to your feedback because you are the community that CHIRP is reaching out to.

Here's a message that CHIRP sent out to those who have joined. EVERYONE is invited to come...

To celebrate the station launch, CHIRP is throwing a party at the Empty Bottle on Saturday, January 16th. On the bill, we have three of our favorite Chicago bands...

The Yolks
Rabble Rabble

Showtime is 10PM, and the show is 21+. Tickets are $8, and benefit the Chicago Independent Radio Project. You can buy them in advance from Ticketweb:

We hope you'll be able to attend and celebrate along with us. We've worked long and hard to bring Chicago a new, live, music-, arts-, and culture-focused radio station, and we're so grateful for your support and belief in this project.

If you can't make it to the show, but you'd like to support our efforts, you can make a special launch gift to CHIRP at

Friday, January 8, 2010

In A Cabin With... Musical Nomads

In a search of the Mininova bit torrent (Legal Free Torrents) I came across a great musical idea and some really good music to match it. 'In A Cabin With' is fellow Dutch friends Maarten Besseling, creator, and Jesse Beuker, producer. Every two months, 'In A Cabin With' invites a Dutch musician(s) to a different locale where they write, record and produce an album with local musicians in 10 to 14 days. They have recorded in Sweden, Thailand, New York and Ottawa. The musical styles of these albums run the gamut from jazz to metal to electro and singer/song-writer. They then mix and master the music back in the Netherlands. The album artwork is designed by up and coming artists. The albums are then available at the 'In A Cabin With' website for FREE download. Of course like almost all of the legal and free music on the net, donations are greatly appreciated. Maarten also releases these albums in the country that they are made.

I downloaded these albums and I suggest that you do so as well. There are 14 albums in all, and I have listened to 9 of them so far. There is a lot of diversity of the styles of music. My favorite so far is The Black Atlantic album Reverence For Fallen Trees. (I'll be reviewing that soon.)
The 'In A Cabin With' series is planned to continue indefinitely with 8 albums being released each year. They have tours and workshops that all have the same aim of creating a true musical community. That communal spirit will be traveling to Canada and Shanghai in 2010.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Queen : A Retrospective

Queen was a British band with Freddie Mercury on vocals and piano. He wrote a majority of the lyrics. Brian May was on 'the red special guitar' that he and his dad made from a 500 yr old fireplace's wood. Brian also wrote songs and sang lead on a few tracks. John Deacon played bass and wrote some songs. Roger Taylor played drums, wrote some songs and actually had a similar high pitch to Freddie's. They all sang on the beautiful harmonies, most especially on the 70's albums. In the middle 80's the song credits were changed to Queen instead of mentioning individuals like they had previously. The whole song making process was influenced by all of the band members. They made 15 studio albums with the original line-up from 1973-1995.

I became a Queen fan when Hollywood Records re-released their catalog in 1991. Before that I had the greatest hits and could name you 4 or 5 songs. I guess it was a combination of things that led me buy all of their albums. I had the good fortune of buying Sheer Heart Attack first which is still my favorite Queen album. After devouring that album I bought them 4 at a time, the way they were re-released. Over time, as your tastes in music change, your interest in a specific group's albums will change. This is what happened to me with Queen. Originally I enjoyed the albums through 1980's The Game. I found it hard to listen to the albums after, as the synth influenced Queen's sound. It took me a while to come around to the change in their sound, but now one of my favorite albums by them is The Miracle, which is synth heavy.

Unfortunately, I never got to see Queen live. I watch the videos of the hundreds of thousands of people in their outdoor concerts in England and am in awe of the spectacle and the rabid fan base that they had. I did get to see Brian May at the Vic in Chicago off his Back To The Light album tour. The fans knew every word of every song and sung along with Brian. He played a handful of Queen songs and a moving 'a cappella' version of "Love Of My Life" that he dedicated to Freddie and sang with the crowd.

When making the mix of songs for this post my goal was to stay away from the songs you've heard on the radio or in movies or at sporting events. We all know those songs. I chose some of my favorite tracks by them that you may not have heard. "Sail Away Sweet Sister" is sung by Brian. To catch their incredible live vibe, "One Vision" is from Live At Wembley '86. Also, there is the Royal Philharmonic version of "Under Pressure" to showcase the composition of Queen songs.