I've recently switched downloading to a new Russian site as mp3sparks is still experiencing payment problems. The new one is legalsounds.com which Eco found a while ago. Same gray area legalities as other Russian sites, but good up-to-date library and no-nonsense interface. And did I say cheap, how's 9c a song ?
So equipped with a stack of Q mags, iTunes and mp3sparks.com sampling, and some snooty guidance from metacritic.com and an open mind, here are some of the many varied and interesting finds early in 2008. Note score links will take you to the great consolidated review on metacritic and the myspace links are ok but quite slow to load.
Black Mountain - In the Future. A Vancouver band I only just heard about, 4/5 in Q; 79 on metacritic. Retro psychedelica, I especially like the mellow tracks with Amber Webber singing and the the hit track Stormy High. Big enough impact to make me download some old 60's tracks yesterday (Byrds, Mamas & Papas, etc.) for a Inspired by Flower Power playlist. Playing Lee's in March. My score: 7/10.
Cat Power - Jukebox. She's an example of an artist who you need to be in the mood for and she probably won't be what you're expecting. I sampled some tracks quite a while ago, but they didn't take. A hot-off-the-press February Q review (3/5) gave me reason to sample again - this time - I discovered some lovingly assembled cover tracks sung by a lovely voice that will be getting some regular mellow evening rotation. 71 on matacritic. 8/10.
Roisin Murphy - Overpowered. I missed this one in 07. Again, re-reading some old Qs caught me in the mood. Well balanced energy for the some great dance pop. Catchy vid for single, 4/5 in Nov Q, 29th on best of 2007, 82 on metacritic. 7.5/10.
Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger. Warm production with heartfelt country rock lyrics. Another one I missed in 07, 4/5 in July Q, 27th on best of 2007, 76 on metacritic. 7.5/10.
Morcheeba - Dive Deep. I couldn't have a best of without a little electronica could I ? This is the latest from one of my faves, this time with a few guest singers. I think Enjoy the Ride is a fantastic track. They are playing here in March - anyone want to join me ? I couldn't find a Q or metacritic review, but one that I did find that stood out was the Independent's 5/5 score. Mine is 7.5/10 for the 4 tracks I've downloaded so far.