Breaking Good: January 2014’s Best FREE Music Downloads

Written by Download Now

In the era of Spotify, Noisetrade and YouTube, there are thousands of emerging bands and artists competing for your attention. Perhaps too many. Just because anyone with an iPad can record a song and post it on online doesn’t mean they should. But when the truly talented emerge, the heart still races and suddenly, a new favorite song is on constant iPod repeat.

Now we get it, the holidays are over and you’re strapped for cash. Here are a few new artists who just might rock your world — and their music won’t cost you a dime. Now I hope 2014 isn’t all downhill from here, but I think it’s gonna be a challenge for me to top this post in terms of back to back to back great music. Enjoy!

Boyd USA

New Jersey

“It ain’t easy being beautiful,” Sal Boyd, aka: Boyd USA, sings on the first single from his debut album, 7:AM. While he looks like a former member of 98 Degrees, his sound lingers in the airspace between Jeff Buckley, Smokey Robinson and Mumford & Sons. If you’re deep freezing in the Midwest or Northeast (or Atlanta) and longing for those lazy summer days, watching the sunset from your wrap-around porch; put this on, close your eyes and you’re there. Producer Marc Swersky (Joe Cocker, Gedeon Luke & The People) herded Boyd and an eclectic mix of musicians into Shorefire Recording Studios for two separate day-long jam sessions. Drummer Steve Holley (Paul McCartney & Wings), guitarist Thad Debrock (Aimee Mann), pianist Todd Caldwell (Crosby, Stills & Nash) and a gospel choir including Gedeon Luke are just a few of the all-star contributors to the joyous, melodic affair.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/127772556″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

My religious views align closer to Bill Maher than Bill O’Reilly, but gospel rave-ups like this make me want to beeline for the nearest Baptist church like Jake Blues did in The Blues Brothers:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/121074314″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

The rest of the album is a fantastic journey through Americana, gospel, alt folk, indie rock and lovely, wandering sounds I just can’t describe. Swersky and recording engineer Joseph Demaio deliver a mix that breathes easy and wraps around you like a favorite sweater. Brielle Brown, a lovely singer/songwriter I’ve been following for years, shadows and comforts Boyd’s lovelorn voice on several tracks. Having a bad day? Put on ‘Mountain of Joy’ and chase those clouds away.

Download the entire Boyd USA album, 7:am, for free on Bandcamp. Naturally, tips are welcome. Support independent music!

Connect with Boyd USA on facebook, twitter and his website.

Bypassers

Tampere, Finland via London

Bypassers press3

This Scandinavian quartet released a double A-side single last year but is truly finding its sound and vision now that they’ve relocated to London. This new self-titled EP, available for free on Soundcloud for a limited time, touches upon a wide variety of influences (Editors, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Chameleons, Stone Roses) while melding a fresh and invigorating sound.

‘Cold Feet’ starts off sinister and cool, steadily gains momentum and winds up a sonic white knuckle thrill ride:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/127609434″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Just when you think the proceedings couldn’t get any better, comes the best song Oasis never recorded (and 100% less pretentious):

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/127608667″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

This track would have fit in nicely on the recently reviewed Scared to Be Happy: The Story of Indie Pop box set:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/127607682″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

This exquisitely produced track (showcasing how drums are supposed to sound) would make a great bridge between The Ocean Blue and the Arctic Monkeys on a mixtape. The final guitar and keyboard crescendo just might be the best minute and a half I’ve enjoyed this year:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/127607187″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Connect with Bypassers on facebook, twitter and their website.

Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons

Athens, Ohio

Better Angela Hi Res 800

I just discovered this band today and I’m already hooked, lined and sinkered. As a former Buckeye State citizen, I was happy to listen to any pretty little ditty about an itty bitty Ohio city, but this one saunters up slow and then hits you like a ton of bricks. Holy crap, holy crap, HOLY CRAP: at the 1:23 mark the band SOARS straight from the good Earth to the high heavens. Lone Justice* meets the Mynabirds? Guess we’ll find out together when their latest long-player, Hey Kid, goes on sale January 21, 2014.

Connect with Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons on facebook, twitter and on her website.

*Believe it or not, Lone Justice has a NEW, previously unreleased music out next week. Get This is Lone Justice: The Vaught Tapes 1983 here on January 14, 2014.

… and finally, as an added bonus:

Daniele Di Martino

Berlin

Sure everyone loves Sufjan Stevens, but can you dance to him? Martino, one of Germany’s best non-automotive exports, is once again is here to save the day with another one of his winning left-field remixes:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/127979350″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Get more music by connecting with Daniele Di Martino on facebook, soundcloud and online.