Artist: The Overcoat
Album: The Overcoat
Year: 2011
Label: self-released?
Genre: Dark, orchestrated indie
RIYL: Richly composed songs that buck cookie-cutter expectations–but not immediately
Essential Tracks: Simple Man, Fantasies, Get Chose

First of all, many thanks to Creep Scanner for the heads-up about this free Bandcamp download. I know nothing about The Overcoat other than the fact that they released their first album this year and you can download it for free. But when music is this darn-tootin’ fabulous, extra information isn’t really needed. This is a dark album, yet sonically the songs are composed in such a way that they both feel upbeat while dragging at the same time. It is a really weird effect. I can’t think of any band that I listen to to really compare The Overcoat to. Occasionally I get a whiff of Pedro the Lion, sometimes Greg Dulli’s band The Twilight Singers… but neither really prepares the listener for what The Overcoat actually does. The best thing to do is go to their bandcamp page and listen to the first track through the chorus.

Perhaps the best part is that The Overcoat isn’t a one-trick-pony. The songs each surprise in their own way, all while maintaining a cohesive sense of togetherness.

(Click icon for Bandcamp download page)

Artist: John Moran
Album: The Manson Family: An Opera
Year: 1992
Label: Polygram Records
Genre: Avant-Garde/Opera
RIYL: The Residents, Iggy Pop, Charles Manson
Essential Tracks: Act 1. Subject: The Beatles, Act 2. Subject: Lynne (Squeaky) Fromme, Act 3. Squeaky in a Boat

How to catch the attention of Reminded Music: A recipe.

1. 3 tablespoons of recommendation by minimalist composer Philip Glass
2. 2 cups of references to murdering families lead by the infamous Charles Manson
3. Stir well in one big bowl. Bake.
4. Add a pinch of vocals by Iggy Pop.
5. Season to taste.

I’d never heard of John Moran before, but if this album is any indication he’s worthy of all the praise that Philip Glass has heaped upon his shoulders. Topic aside, The Manson Family feels like a modern composition. Sometimes the music is minimalistic, but with environmental sounds (sirens, vehicles passing) or dialogue that feels inspired by what The Residents have done. It is appropriately eerie, a touch morbid, and completely insane.

There are a variety of characters given voice and/or song–Iggy Pop is the most recognizable name to lend his talents. But every role seems very well done, regardless. Pop doesn’t overshadow, nor does he undershoot his abilities.

Highly Recommended to all left-of-the-dial music fans out there.

(Click icon for download)

Artist: Moon/Ruin
Album: Ocean
Year: 2011
Label: White Moon Recordings
Genre: Summer Psych Pop Rock
RIYL: Straightforward, yet spry, bouncy-guitar-tunes
Essential Tracks: Sway, Days of Harmful Rays, Moon/Ruin

I spent most of the day sleeping–waking up with a headache is not a great way to be productive. However, when I wasn’t sleeping I was scouring the interwebs for any music that strikes my fancy. While every album that I downloaded sticks out in its own way, this one will be the first to get the nod here simply because these are fun Summer songs and, hell’s bells, anything that can get me smiling during this damned heat deserves to be highlighted. Hell, look at that album cover that looks ripped straight from an Exotica record from the 1970s. The music, while not really “exotica” avoids doing the cover a disservice by being completely awesome. Songs are good not because of any gimmicky trick (though I am a sucker for those), but because the actual song composition is surprising and fun.

The songs are short, so the 8 tracks take a mere 16 minutes to fly by. But oh how sweet those 16 minutes are!

(Click icon for the free Bandcamp download page!)

Artist: Duo Inmortales
Album: Legends of Domination
Year: 2006
Label: You Are Not Stealing Records
Genre: Experimental/Avant-Garde
RIYL: The Everyday Film, TTS, structured noise
Essential Tracks: Monster or Psycho, Love in the Atomic Era, My First Nazi Girl

I don’t think I’ve ever really contemplated listening to an album where the vocals are–or appear to be–“courtesy” of text-to-speech. TTS has been around forever–my first memory is messing with the text-reader on a Mac computer when I was 7 or 8 years old. It blew my mind. Since then TTS technology has improved quite a bit–I mean, my GPS is usually about 95% correct in it’s pronouncing of road names. But I would have never considered applying TTS to music.

Yet here we are. Duo Inmortales mixes TTS with some interesting noise to create a really interesting effect. They manipulate the pitch of the TTS so that it comes eerily close to feeling intelligent. Not human, or even alive, but it fluctuates with mimicry that HAL could be proud of. This would all be a moot point, except the noise constructed behind it really fits well. You could almost imagine this as a soundtrack to a silent horror film.

(Click icon for YANSR download page)

Artist: Utopian Fields
Album: Utopian Fields
Year: 1989
Label: Colours
Genre: Neo-Prog (whatever the heck that means)
RIYL: 70s Prog Rock

I forget how I got this on my computer. I’m sure it was one of the blogs I was surfing in the last month or two, but don’t even begin to ask me which one. It must have been a rather random download because, generally speaking, I don’t know enough about prog rock to even be tempted to download it. Maybe it was the album cover–the duo-tone badassery of it is rather jaw-dropping.

In lieu of being able to say anything intelligent about the music–other than I have been enjoying listening to it–how about I thank everyone for reading this blog? Yeah, I’ll do that. Thank you, kind readers, for your patronage.

(Click icon for download)

Artist: Ami Dang
Album: Hukam
Year: 2011
Label: Ehse Records
Genre: Pop/Indian Folk/House
RIYL: Popification of traditional world music
Essential Tracks: Manali, A Strange Community, Amorphous Absolute

Ami Dang plays sitar, sings, and composes beautifully twisted songs that split the difference between traditional Indian (music from India, not Native Americans) folk sounds and western pop. Even while songs feel alien, they are composed in such a way that they feel more like electronic utterances looped in such a way that feels minimalistic. The result is a hypnotic album that is uneasy and exciting and otherworldly.

PopMatter’s review does a better job of describing what Ami Dang does better than I ever could. It is a short but effective review, although I disagree with the final score. This could easily end up in my top-5 albums of the year.

(Click icon for the FreeMusicArchives Download Page)

Artist: Diablo Swing Orchestra
Album: The Butcher’s Ballroom
Year: 2006
Label: Gillioutine Grooves
Genre: Gypsy Metal with hints of opera, jazz, and avant-garde
RIYL: Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Unexpect, Ego Plum
Essential Tracks: Heroines, Poetic Pitbull Revolutions

Bands that dabble in a mish-mash of genres usually turn me off–just because you toss your favorite foods into a blender and hit “on” doesn’t mean you’ll come up with anything palpable. But Diablo Swing Orchestra manages to do just that with their music and have it come out a smashing success. Luckily for us, they decided to put the album up on Jamendo for free download, even though the CD from Gillioutine Grooves is still in print. No complaints from me–this is a fabulous album. Soaring female operatic vocals counterpoint the crunchy metal guitars and are buoyed by the circus dance sounds that pepper the tracks.

Highly, highly recommended.

(Click icon for Jamendo download page)

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