Free downloads: Passion Pit, Lil Wayne, plus David Byrne and Brian Eno
1. Passion Pit: "The MySpace Transmissions"
Crossing electronic pop with alternative dance -- plus the fact that several members attended the Berklee College of Music -- puts Passion Pit (with Michael Angelakos, pictured) a cut above the average freshman act. Besides these four jump-worthy tunes captured in a live studio setting, the group has scored remix credits for OK Go, Tegan and Sara, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the recent Lady Gaga/Beyonce "Telephone" duet.
2. Lil Wayne: "A Milli (Absorb Fish Remix)"
Multi-million album seller Lil Wayne may be serving hard times as we speak, but that hasn't stopped the rapper from staying in the public eye. Besides releasing his "Rebirth" CD this year, several of his tracks continue making the remix rounds including this thumping re-imagination of the street savvy selection from 2008's smash CD, "Tha Carter III."
3. Daniel Merriweather: "Red (Live At KCRW)"
Just like Justin Timberlake or James Morrison, Daniel Merriweather is quickly becoming the latest soulful sensation who also boasts good looks and broad influences ranging from Stevie Wonder to Jeff Buckley. Though it will be awhile before this Australian singer/songwriter reaches those heights, his pipes are plentiful on this contemporary groove, performed live at one the country's most famous radio stations during a recent tour with neo-soul star Corinne Bailey Rae.
4. Hot Hot Heat: "21@12"
When the dance rock revival was in full swing in 2002, Hot Hot Heat stood right next to The Strokes and Franz Ferdinand in that style's second coming. Even if the gossip surrounding the Vancouver-based band has cooled off (no pun intended), the group's still milling about in club circles, and expanding its sound. This track incorporates a series of sputtering guitars and memorable melodies in an alternate take on a track that will appear on the June 8 release "Future Breeds" via Dangerbird Records (home to Minus the Bear, Silversun Pickups).
5. Smashing Pumpkins: "Astral Planes"
The fourth and final free track from Smashing Pumpkins upcoming EP "Teargarden By Kaleidyscope Vol. 1: Song For a Sailor" just landed on the band's official website. Though not as deplorable as the first two tunes Billy Corgan gave away in the series, it's not the instant home run that "A Stitch In Time" was. Nonetheless, the almighty leader sounds fairly fierce, growling over melodic guitars on a mildly infectious step towards potential redemption.
6. Casiokids: "Fot I Hose"
This brand new, nine-member Norwegian outfit oozes sugary synth on this pulsating instrumental. The group won't land in America until June on Polyvinyl, but all-star remixers like Prins Thomas and James Yuill have already lined up to join the party. Fans of Battles or Hot Chip are sure to sink their teeth into this overflowing surge of sweetness.
7. Phil Collins: "Too Many Fish In the Sea"
Outside of a tour with Genesis and that band's recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, Phil Collins has kept peculiarly quiet in solo realms since the release of 2002's ill-received "Testify." Though he's re-emerging with the September 13 release "Going Back," the collection consists entirely of Motown covers starting with "Too Many Fish In the Sea," a 1964 hit by The Marvelettes in a white-washed, though still somewhat authentic and respectful rendition.
8. Stigma: "The Undertaker"
Not to be confused with the World Wrestling Entertainment character of the same name, these metal maniacs turn in a searing new track of death defying proportions. The guys play at breakneck speed, wrapping elements of Coheed & Cambria, The Mars Volta and Underoath, all into a single sonic weapon.
9. David Byrne and Brian Eno: "Strange Overtones"
As the lead singer of the Talking Heads turned solo innovator and one of the world's most respected producers, David Byrne and Brian Eno could easily retire with enough cash in the bank to last a dozen more lifetimes. But as this dreamy, Afro-pop inspired track indicates, the pair is still churning out credible collaborations that could rival either artist's late 1970s and 1980s heydays without ever sounding dated.
10. Rachael Sage: "Hope's Outpost"
She's one of the most moving piano players and introspective storytellers to ever hit the folk scene with fans as famous as Judy Collins and Tony Visconti (producer for David Bowie and T.Rex), amongst others. The Lilith Fair alum showcases her sweet side with "Hope's Outpost" from a brand new CD called "Delancey Street."
Free Downloads is a weekly music column by Money College blogger Andy Argyrakis. It appears every Friday. Send Andy column tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.