Five From CNET

I periodically binge on CNET. The lure of free, legal, music downloads preys upon my mind and I can lose hours to sifting through genres and recommendations. Usually this yields only a very few songs. Much of what I’m just discovering has been enjoyed by much cooler people for years now— Wolf Parade, The National, Devendra Banhart; these are acts that are relatively well known to those who didn’t spend most of their twenties trying to simply stay afloat in overwhelming jobs.

Realizing that I cannot profess to have a blog and not try to foist my musical tastes on others I submit to you just five artists that you can download and experience for yourself. My reasons for recommendation range from how emotional a track makes me to how perfectly derivative a band sounds. Regardless of the reasoning they’ve all been getting a lot of play around here.

1. Wikked Lil’ Girls by Esthero

This one might be a tad embarrassing to explain so I’ll skirt around the issue a bit. Apart from obvious props to Benny Goodman there’s an energy that rewinds life ten years. Whether you can live into the lyrics or not I think anyone can appreciate a little big band and high-sheen lip gloss.

2. End of Time by Beat Chemist

If you’re Fat Boy Slim then you beat a one-line sample into the ground and create a monotonous piece of radio triffle. But the Beat Chemist takes one short sample and fashions a sweet little rumination about seasons passing and the frailty of life. The beats are still phat, but they come from a heart.

3. Nothing Was Special by Lendi Vexer

Do you ever get tired of reading reviews for bands that reportedly sound like Portishead only to give them a listen and wonder how anyone could make such a comparison? No? Well, I’ve spent years lamenting the loss of Geoff and Beth so I fall for the old, “if you like Portishead” trick almost every time. This is the first group that, yes indeed, sounds like Portishead. The organ, the haunted female vocalist, the echoing chamber and languorous beats— it’s all here. Derivative? Sure. And that’s what makes it awesome.

4. To Build a Home by The Cinematic Orchestra

Sparse and a touch maudlin. This is the only free track offered by this group and I haven’t been out to purchase the album yet but, if this song is any indication, Coldplay’s lawyers are keeping a close watch. Did I just admit to knowing what Coldplay sounds like?

All my credibility just flew out the window.

5. By Your Side by CocoRosie

My wife dug this one up and it’s a nice counterpoint to Wikked Lil’ Girls. The inane simplicity of this track juxtaposes beautifully with the exceedingly nebulous intent of the lyrics. Ironic? Resigned? Love struck? Maybe just struck. If you’re down with the growing tendency towards haunted lo-fi folk then you’ll probably enjoy all the other free tracks by this group as well.

If you’ve got comments about this selection, or recommendations for other tracks, feel free to drop your line below. The next list of five will feature songs by bands that reveal how I’m five years behind the times.